Tuesday, May 26, 2009

summer travels

happy summer! most of the coursework for my MA ended in april, so may was like taking one huge sigh of relief and then one huge breath of fresh air. the first two semesters of a graduate program is much more busy/stressful/difficult than i expected. (although still fun!) however, i'm sure writing my thesis (starting around january) will bring another round of stress, so check back next spring :)

this summer is also the first semester i'm not TAing, so i also have a more flexible schedule. i have a research assistantship (RA) with my supervisor related to my thesis (mostly "data collection" via surveys and interviews involving an interpreter). i'm also applying for some part-time jobs at the moment; more later on the results.

the commercial drive neighborhood is also a blissful place to be in the summer - it's actually sunny in vancouver during this time of the year, so people are outside, talking, hanging out on the grass in the parks, etc. i put cruiser handlebars on my bike (myself!! which involved replacing all the cables!!), got a bell, and now am sufficiently comfy (+ nerdy looking) when i ride around in the sunshine. my friend majid moved to the neighborhood so we've been hanging out a bit too. i don't have to make the long bus-commute to burnaby mountain (where my university is located) as often these days, making things generally nicer overall in my life.

with this new-found flexibility i've been taking lots of trips to seattle to visit iman. we've gone to stuff like the mozart oprea "the marriage of figaro" (or at least half of it, since we were a little late), the play "the smile off your face" by ontroerend goed, the Official Bad Art Museum of Bad Art (OBAMA) at cafe racer, a u-district community day with lots street vendors (& elephant ears, which i tried for the first time but seem like a wanna-be version of cinnamon funnel cakes), and the my bloody valentine show (totally, totally wonderful - - really - - this song in particular was incredible). i've gotten to know all the u-district coffee shops by now, since i hung around the neighborhood working on my laptop while he did his work in the lab during the day. i started learning farsi a bit more seriously - which isn't saying much - but i have high hopes.

rachelle also came to visit, which was wonderful!! - we met at the seattle airport, hung out with iman a bit in seattle, took a boat to victoria & saw SO MANY BUNNIES at the university of victoria!!! (seriously a highlight of our lives, not kidding), & then rented a car with some friends and headed out to tofino (so beautiful!!) for a 2-night camping trip. . .then a ferry back to vancouver.

i also went to the women's health research network summer institute/conference in kelowna with 2 friends & hung out in the Okanagan for 2 nights.

this weekend i'm heading back down to seattle & will go to the juniper dunes in washington with iman & some of his friends.

despite all that i've mentioned, i really am doing work!! - besides the surveys, i'm presenting my first conference presentation on friday at SFU's Interrogation Techniques: Law, Texts, Culture and wow - i'm on the schedule i just realized - anyway, my presentation is called "Legal Restrictions and Community Definition: The Early Years of the Ladder" which is about how U.S. restrictions on magazine distribution influenced the creation of a national lesbian community in the 1950s by enabling the legitimization of a limited, assimilationist expression of lesbian sexuality.

i'll also be in toronto from june 6 - 14 taking the "summer course on refugee and forced migration issues" at the centre for refugee studies at york university in toronto. my supervisor is teaching part of it so hopefully we'll be hanging out there.

so! that's what's up. i'm trying to reconceptualize this blog into something more structured and potentially more useful/interesting (rather than just a laundry list of what's going on in my world) but until then - بدرود ("bedrood," or bye!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

update from b.c.

This semester I'm taking 3 classes (research methodology, grad studies/research proposal preparation, and introduction to immigration and settlement at the university of british columbia with a really awesome prof) and liking them a lot, especially the class at UBC. i'm a TA for a class called "gender & geography" taught by my supervisor who is awesome as well. i settled on a thesis topic (government-assisted refugee resettlement in vancouver) and am in the early stages of the "data collection process" ("field work" ??). oh! and i'm going to my first conference - the metropolis "frontiers of canadian migration" conference in calgary - generously paid for by my supervisor :)

speaking of migration, i started a new blog at http://migrationinthenews.blogspot.com/ to casually comment on migration themes in popular online media in case anyone is interested.

A few other random things:

- here's a cool interactive graphic from the New York Times on the gender wage gap in the US
- i'm totally into sarah haskins & her target women show
- i also recently discovered cake wrecks and why cats paint and kittens inspired by kittens! - all 3 of which i genuiely find out of control!!! in a good way.
- as evidenced above, i've been spending a lot of time on the internet. iman is still in seattle :(

however, my friend Mr. David did come to visit me from pgh, which was awesome! Here we are celebrating the superbowl. . .

and me about to cross the Capilano suspension bridge (with what seems to be only one leg!):

and me with my friend Arefe about to eat a meal we (mostly Arefe) made:

bye for now!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

hi from vancouver

hey! i haven't posted in. . .er. . .about 9 months or so, but now i'm living in vancouver, BC & studying at simon fraser university. i have a website!! - which is something i always wanted to do (learn the basics of how html works) & thus exciting for me, maybe more exciting than it should be. other than school-stuff, i primarily:

1. avoid bears:

2. get really happy when i see the beautiful scenery of the west coast:

3. ride the bus:

4. and, until today, hang out with my awesome boyfriend:

we USED TO ride the bus together (primary activity), play racquetball, go out to eat, watch curb your enthusiasm, play soduko and water polo and backgammon, go ice skating, go on hikes, do work at coffee shops, watch movies, make cookies, go swimming, go to hot springs, walk near lakes, sleep on floors, ride bicycles on sidewalks, celebrate halloween, go to birthday parties, hang out at the library, go grocery shopping, etcccc. . .but today he moved to seattle (temporarily). hence, spare time to update the blog - you might have noticed a suspicious correlation between blog activity and meeting him!

anyway, that's where i am, and this is iman's official introduction to the blog. he's probably the only one who will read this anyway! more later!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

*hey van kedi, kedi from van!*

2 months ago (oops!!!) i spent my final week-long break from work (april 17 - 27ish) with both my dear friend laura and one of my close friends from home - john f. - who came to visit after a six month stint in afghanistan and iraq. our trip started out by flying from ankara to trabzon and taking buses along the following path through eastern turkey (you can click on the blue bubbles for info):

View Larger Map

then finishing with a flight from van to istanbul and, two days later, a bus back to ankara where john flew back to washington and laura and i returned to our "BUSELogic" lives.

here are some highlights (mostly taken by john) including wildflowers in the port city of trabzon:

and the black sea!

and the nearby sumela monastery in the mountains:

an amazingly scenic bus ride through north eastern turkey:

seljuk architecture in erzurum:

the fields of abandoned ruins at ani, former armenian capital - one of the more beautiful and interesting scenes i've seen:

views of mt. ararat where noah's ark supposedly landed:

ishak pasha palace outisde doğubeyazıt:

the armenian church on akdamar island, lake van:

driving around van/getting lost in a dedicated quest to find the famous van kitties with one blue, one yellow-ish eye!

after while we saw some hope. . .

and then the real thing, albeit in a CAGE and not swimming around.

then a traditional van breakfast. . .

before wandering around istanbul. here is the underground basilica cistern (with creepy classical music piped through!)

and lamps in the grand bazaar.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

جمهورية مصر العربية

my friend michelle and i originally intended to head to syria for our week's vacation in mid-february (over a month ago! oops.) however, when the visa turned out to be more of a hassle than we'd expected and a cheap flight to cairo turned up, we decided on egypt. michelle studied arabic in college and wanted to go to an arabic-speaking country - unfortunately, the dialect difference turned out to be a big problem - but egypt it was.
km m t
("egypt" in hieroglyphics)

so on february 9th we left snowy bilkent, ankara. . .

. . .for warm, dusty cairo. (notice the pyramids in the distance.)

for the first two nights we stayed with my friend dan from semester at sea who is currently teaching english in the suburb of 6 october. our first-day attempt to get to cairo on a minibus accidentally took us to the sphinx (much smaller than i expected) plopped down immediately next to three pyramids and the sprawling town of giza (not out in the desert at all like my imagined geography had me think.) we paid a chunk of money to climb up inside the biggest pyramid, which involved crawling up a claustrophobic, diagonal coffin-shaped space - squeezing past people going both up and down - only to arrive at a small, musty stone room with nothing inside. the pyramids were certainly different than i'd expected, but seeing such an iconic landmark up close (and the accompanying horrific tourism machine clunking along with it) was still an interesting experience.

dan took us to a great lebanese restaurant in 6 october for falafel, hummus, baba ganouj, nargile (called shisha in egypt) and great seats to watch the televised african cup football match - egypt vs. cameroon - which egypt won 1 - 0. this resulted in CHAOS across the city: male-dominated mayhem in the streets, chanting, singing, and dancing, and impromptu torches made by lighting hairspray cans on fire.

we spent the next few days in cairo going to the egyptian museum (with an amazing mummy collection), eating stuffed pigeons, wandering around Islamic cairo and the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, and having the best shisha & coffee ever at naguib mahfouz's favorite coffee shop (Fishawi.) cairo shocked me: despite the traffic and pollution, i found it much more manageable and pleasant than people/guidebooks suggested.

to my delight, cairo actually reveled itself through rose-colored glasses: valentines day was approaching and stores went all out with pink lights, flowers, and gifts (particularly lingerie stores - an interesting contrast with the mostly covered female population.) michelle and i celebrated by buying each other bags of relatively fancy chocolate which turned out to be awful - coming from me, that's saying a lot. my heart was elsewhere. . .

later, michelle and i took an overnight train to luxor. even though we splurged for the tourist sleeper car, michelle got sick from the food and hung out in our hostel room for the first day. i rented two bicycles (both which immediately got flat tires) and consequently got invited up to an apartment with some curious pre-teen kids. we had a "chip and dance party" (their idea) and i got headscarf-ed and my nails painted. this was fun until i announced i had to leave and an entire apartment full of children (new faces had mysteriously and exponentially arrived) started wailing and following me down the street with my (equally mysteriously repaired) bicycle.

over the next two days we took a falluca boat trip on the nile, hung out with some brits living in syria and americans living in israel, smoked shisha much stronger (and better) than in turkey, and saw a few beautiful moons/sunsets.

despite a dull questioning in the back of my mind regarding the ethics of visiting tombs, we went on a tour of the valley of the kings (and queens) and saw some beautiful paintings and hieroglyphics. photos weren't allowed in the tombs, but below are some shots from a nearby temple.

in the evening, we visited the extremely impressive luxor temple bathed in beautiful sunset-light and relaxed for a while. we unknowingly missed the karnak temple (!!) but by that time were so worn out we had no problem wandering back to the hostel and trying some cups of beans/pasta/meat as suggested by our friend paul.

back in cairo, we went to the beautiful and relaxing coptic neighborhood where we visited some museums and churches and, later, hung out in the bookstores of a foreigner/upscale neighborhood called Zamalek for a while.

two things overriding all other experiences were watching the tourism machine of egypt function (for me, at least, an amazing, depressing, and difficult system to see) and being one half of a young, white, unaccompanied female duo. even though we were pretty well covered up and remained as inconspicuous as possible, michelle and i had some serious issues with harassment from men. it was never a dangerous feeling - more of a nagging, omnipresent sense of objectification - but it really bothered me. i've never really felt like a piece of meat on display before egypt. there was mild harassment in parts of india, tanzania, and brazil, but nothing like what we experienced in egypt. i wonder if this has anything to do with it. . .

finally it was back to turkey, where i spent the rest of the weekend hanging around in the snow/sleet/slush of istanbul with my friend iman before taking an overnight bus to ankara.

right now i'm deep into the third (out of four) course i'm teaching. because the level i'm teaching is lower and includes more repeat students, it's much more difficult than past courses . i'm unfortunately also working more hours this semester; combined with some scheduling problems and worn-out-ness, i'm no longer taking graduate or turkish classes. work is getting increasingly frustrating, but luckily i've spent every other weekend in istanbul - this weekend i have plans to rent a car & visit gallipoli. brie visited & we had a great time. . .john is coming in 3 weeks. . .mallory and jared are coming mid-may. . .and rachelle is most likely coming in june! other than anticipating visitors i'm mostly waiting to hear from grad schools. . .

. . .but it is spring, and that's a great thing. here's my first haft sin table to celebrate nowruz:

happy new year.