This article is in the winter issue of the print magazine Bitch. Yes, that’s right, print is NOT dead. Get your copy now at your local bookstore, newsstand or on their website.
In it, I look at how Jeannie, from the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, started off as an over-the-top Arab stereotype, but over the show’s five-year run was forced to assimilate due to pressure from network executives who wanted her to be more “likeable,” i.e. American. I also break down how Orientalism helped ratings and why, even though Jeannie calls Tony “Master,” she can be read as a feminist, transgressive character.
To hear me interviewed about the article on the podcast Popaganda, click here.
This Friday, I’ll be reading from my thesis, or rather, my first book! Tentatively titled “Dear Cub,” it’s a work-in-progress memoir (that is, a first-person non-fiction story). It’s about a 30-something woman (me) who marries a great guy (Bear) assuming they’ll have kids, but then she realizes she wants to be childfree. She doesn’t know what the repercussions will be on her marriage or her life. While grappling with her decision, she writes letters to the child she has not conceived (“cub”) and ultimately comes to reverse her decision, but doesn’t know if it’s too late.
Fun, right? I’ll read a five-minute snippet Friday night if you’d like a sneak peek!
The Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) conference starts tomorrow in Minneapolis! I’m speaking on a panel Friday morning about Arab American identity. I had the honor of interviewing some heavy hitters: poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye, novelist and memoirist Diana Abu-Jaber, poet and essayist Lisa Suhair Majaj, playwright and actor Leila Buck, and writer and scholar Amira Jarmakani. I asked them why, as mixed-heritage Arab American woman who could “pass” as white, they instead choose to “flame” as Arab, boldly communicating their Arabic roots. (The language of the study, as the study itself, are works in progress as almost no one thinks that they “flame” — as one participant put it, is not hiding who you are the same as flaming?)
I found that their experiences show that identities are not static, they shape shift along with us and can serve as powerful tools to connect with broader communities for storytelling, activism and a sense-of-self.
Drop by at 9AM on Friday to hear all about it! (For those of you who won’t be at the conference, unfortunately, it won’t be streaming live on Skype just yet. Maybe next year. Email me for the cliff notes.)
P.S. Thanks to the A-B in my name I’m at the top of the list of presenters! Check it out here.
I remember walking into the Sanrio store as a little girl and thinking I had landed in heaven. No other store in our suburban mall carried what I needed to survive elementary school: lunch boxes, pencils and their holders, markers, erasers, and so much more. We used to call it “the Hello Kitty store” because the famous white feline’s face—with her black eyes, yellow nose, three whiskers on each cheek, and pink bow over her right ear—appeared on every product.
My honey and I communicate terribly through words: He says, “A,” I hear “B” and snap “C,” then he barks “D” – resulting in an “F.” Fortunately, we speak each other’s language on the dance floor. Now, thanks to the generosity of a friendly bystander Linda, who recorded this snippet at Uprising’s Radio-to-TV Launch Party, we have proof!
People tell us all the time, “You should dance more often.” Yes, we should. And, even when it’s raining deadlines, we will – Inshallah.
I’ve got a deadline to write 35K words (120 pages) by August 25th — three months to produce a draft of my “manuscript,” that is, my first book! No editing allowed, only writing — forward, forward, forward — which is the most painful part of the process for me. Although I can’t clean the house to save my life, polishing paragraphs and wiping away unnecessary words gives me such satisfaction. I guess my reward for writing what Anne Lamott calls a “shitty rough draft,” will be that I get to spend the following five months cleaning it up, with a deadline of completing an edited draft by December 5th! I think that boils down to 10 pages a week, two pages a day if I want to take weekends off (which would be a luxury).
Many people enjoy writing as a singular act, but I thrive most when I can tell I’m part of a team. So, who wants to join me in this crazy endeavor? Anyone else trying to achieve an outlandish goal between now and 2015? Even if we’re not physically working side-by-side, it’d be great to know we’re in this together!