Monday, March 29, 2004


Chris emailed me about this site last week, but I hadn't gotten around to opening it till today. And oh, boy. I've had so much fun dissecting its front page, searching for metaphors and allegories and symbols. For example, check the heart on the top left. Notice, it's split in two, and connected by a crescent symbolizing Islam, of course. Are they not touching 'cause you're not supposed to touch when you're a good Muslim, or 'cause you connect thru Islam? The girl on the banner is an African American Muslim, but your "trusted friends" are apparently Syrian yuppies. I don't know if I trust a man who tucks his hideous waitershirt in and wears a belt. I wonder if I should join and keep my f'ster profile, tittie photo & all? I haven't actually gone on to check if you have a dating, Women and Men option, but I'm guessing you don't.

I remember when I was on Salon Personals, you had the option of searching ethnicity and religion. So, I'd sometimes search "Middle Eastern" and "Muslim" men. The following options would come up:
1. No photo having dudes in Cairo and New Jersey who only filled out the "Who I want to meet section," writing: Good fun girl look like britney sbeer body.
2. Photo having dudes who were hideous in their yuppie-ness, describing themselves as "the best guy you'll ever meet," and listing magazines for favorite books.
3. Gorgeous men with gorgeous profiles, who read, listened to cool music, and lived within 50 miles. Excited, I'd scroll back up to look at their photo and notice, next to looking for, "Men."

It's confusing to me why I want to date an Arab guy to begin with. I never want to have kids again, so it's not about that. I never want to please my parents, and in fact, they don't care whom I date as long as it's not an inmate, so it isn't that.

I went to Amy's the other night and saw two men, almost identical in body structure, facial appearance, and attire, order one cup of mango and lick it together. They were such a beautiful couple. I wonder if there's something in the mirroring of the self that some people crave in a mate? If being with someone who reminds you so much of yourself is necessary for some?

Maybe that's what it is.

If mirrors had cocks, I'd be set.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


I just read an article on mothering called Mothering and its Cultural Discontents in the Times about Daphne de Marneffe's new book, Maternal Desire:

Although the convention is that a woman's fulfillment is at odds with her child's needs, the truth, Ms. de Marneffe argues, is the opposite: caregiving is the path to fulfillment. Feminism has championed women's choice, she writes, but it has ignored or denied the desire — not the duty, not the biological imperative, not the necessity — but the raw, profound desire to care for one's own children.

Just talking about such deeply felt urges, she says, is so disdained that women are embarrassed to admit them. "It is almost as if women's desire for sex and their desire to mother have switched places in terms of taboo." This cultural taboo makes it nearly impossible for women to work out a meaningful and satisfactory balance in their lives.

First of all: caregiving is not every woman's path to fulfillment. I caregive everyday, and only feel truly fulfilled when I create.

Second: feminism has championed women's choices, therefore, if a woman chooses to be a full-time mother, she should be able to do so without feeling judged or needing to be wealthy. My friend Yolanda is on welfare and cares for her son full-time, and she's the best mom I've ever met. She doesn't get props from society for what she's doing, and is in fact looked down upon. Conversely, if a woman chooses not to be a full time mom, she should be able to be. In my case, although I only officially work quarter-time, I spend the rest of my time researching, writing, and thinking about my next book. That's what I like to do, what fuels me. True feminism makes all of these scenarios allowable and acceptable.

Third: Wanting to have sex is still taboo. I can't just walk into a grocery store and yell out: "Man, I wanna fuck!" But I could walk in and yell: "Man, I want to care for my child!" I could, however, yell out one thing and not the other in an SBDM club. So, her point about taboos switching may be true in some circles, but not in the wider cultural circle of the US and the world.

Fourth: It is nearly impossible for women to work out a balance in their lives not because they'd really, in their heart of hearts, rather mother than fuck or work, but because they are busy writing shite books and articles like this one, and, sorry to male-bash, because most men don't take, nor are they given, responsibility for child-rearing. If, growing up, your father took care of you 50% of the time, good for you. That's awesome. But chances are, he didn't. And balance can only be reached, not only in women's but in all humankind, when responsibilites are shared and people are equal. If mothers had a creative outlet other than their children, they wouldn't be so fucked up and torn inside out when it is time for their children to go to college. My mother, for example, will be in dire depression once my sister, into whom she's pumped all her creative energies for the past 17 years and for whom she's abandoned all her musical aspirations, goes to college in the Fall. Mama would have benefitted from cultivating a creative career or outlet.

It just seems inherently wrong for one woman to work full-time while a nanny cares for her children and abandons her own; for another to stay at home full time while her husband works for two, busting his ass and spending only bedtime and weekends with his kids; for women like Yolanda to be denied basic human respect because they choose not to work and don't have the luxury of a wealthy/hardworking husband; and for women like me to never get their child support checks on time and send their children on airplanes bi-annually by themselves to cheap assholes who get married every other year while I scramble to get a sitter so I can go on a date. Oh, sorry. Digressed.

My main beef with the article and the book which it reviews is that neither undertake the idea, or the fact, that every woman, and hence every mothering experience, is different. I don't want to do the same and tell all mothers what they should or shouldn't do. However, if we are all striving to better our world, then a balance must be reached somehow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Looks like I may be going to Egypt this summer. My mama called me yesterday (at 9 PM! She's learning!) to see if I wanted to go. Of course I want to go. I'd love to go. I'd be thrilled to go. The question I always ask myself though: Will Egypt be thrilled to have me?

I've gone back since I had Angie. People were surprisingly kind. My grandpa was cool, even after he found out that Angie was conceived a while before I married his father. Maybe this is because he knocked up my grandma when she was 17? I'm not sure he did this before they married, but I do know they had a quick wedding sometime in 1950, at a town hall, far away from her disapproving Greek family. Neither of her parents came. Neither of mine came when I married Angie's dad in '96, either.

So, the only disheartening moments from my last trip to Egypt with Angie was the way strangers looked at us, trying to figure out what we were. I looked less Egyptian than he did, but I was the one who spoke Arabic while he spoke only English. It confused them. No one searched my left hand for a ring, as I thought they would. No one was violent or rude toward us.

I am worried this time for several reasons:

1. I have no real job or career, and no plans to ever remarry. This will probably confuse my family and they'll ask too many questions, questions I have no answer to since, I, too, have no idea what my future holds.

2. Ang is no longer a cute 3 year old; he has a serious attitude and a habit of telling elders to "shut the hell up."

3. Tattoos are unacceptable, and I have two tattoos on my wrists. I'll have to wear something to cover them up. Michalle has kindly offered to knit me wristbands for every day of the week, like underwear. That should be fun. Especially in the 100 degree weather.

4. My closest friend had her heart broken by her stupid ex-fiance, and she's left to Dubai. She's really the only chick I dig hanging out with. And all my guyfriends are gone. Which means my ticket to the seedier parts of town is gone.

5. My mama expects me to spend my entire time in Alexandria with family, all in the same apartment. I just want to get out and explore by myself. It's almost impossible to do anything by myself, and to explain why I want to be alone. I'll have to put my foot down this time.

But I'm looking forward to going. I can't wait to eat a veal scallop pane at San Giovanni, to check out a study room at the new library, to go swimming. I miss it terribly there. I never wanted to leave. I remember how sad I was when we landed at LaGuardia airport, in 1991, how I cried all the way to our new home. Now I dream about the water and the streets. The last dream was that Alexandria was as close as Mexico City. Don't I wish. Because:

6. The 20 hour flight, with 7 year-old in tow and no weed in sight, should prove hellish.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Mama on Rushdie

My mama called me at 5:54 this morning. She always calls at a bullshit hour.
"I live half way around ze globe." Her usual excuse.
"So the fuck do I," I remind her.
"But zis is ze only time to reach you. Always on ze internet or ze phone. Your line is always beeezy."
"I'm doing it intentionally. I want to be a recluse."
"Recluses don't have interent service or even telephones."
"Great idea. I'm going to disconnect my phone service this afternoon."
"No, don't! I won't reach you."
"What have you been doing?"
"Not much, work, the novel."
"..." She wanted to say: "Get a fucking job. Go to ze gym."
"The usual."
"..." Poor mama, dying to say:"I mean, zere is a gym in your apartment complex. Why you let yourself go so much? You cannot be so fat."
"What about you mama? What are you doing?"
"I am reading 'The Bonesetter's Daughter."
"Oh, why the hell are you reading that? Amy Tan sucks. Oh, come on."
"I would be reading Voman of Vonder, but you won't let me read."
"I would, if you promised to skip pages, um, 2-78, 79-156, 157-254, 255-381."
"What can I read?"
"The dedication page."
"You dedicate to me?"
"And Baba. And I'm thinking of putting in "Edward Said, in Memoriam."
"Wha?" (makes spitting sound.) "Don't you dare. Baba hates that bastard."
"He's dead."
"So is your grandma. In memoriam to her poor soul."
"It's because I want Salman Rushdie to like it. He was friends with Edward Said."
"Salman Khara. He is a non-believer."
"I'd be a non-believer too, if people were constantly out to kill me."
"But was he killed? No. More of a reason to believe in God."
"What's your hair like now?"
"I got haircut! I look so much thinner."
"I must go."
"So soon?"
"I have to go do excercise."
"Kisses to Angelo."
"Yes, he's been doing great."