Home is Not Where the Heart is: A Story about Diaspora Armenians in Lebanon.

(Photograph: P. Papalov’s photographic studio:http://www.photomuseum.org.ge/photographers/papalov/papalov_en.htm)

The year was 1946, and Diaspora Armenians from the Middle East were invited to repatriate Soviet Armenia.

My father was around 22 years of age, and he owned a building in Burj Hammoud, the Beirut suburb that was founded by the survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. He did not live in Burj Hammoud but visited once every few months to collect rent from tenants. He was living in Niha, al-Chouf, his hometown, and the trip back then consumed an entire day given the nature of the roads and unavailability of affordable methods of transportation.

One day, my father arrived in Burj Hammoud and went to visit his friend Jean.

Jean was the son of genocide survivors who came to Lebanon to escape the atrocities of the Turks and secure a safe future for their children in a hosting country. The Armenians became an essential component of this country’s fabric: They got naturalized and contributed to the country at the political, economic, social, and cultural levels.

Jean related to my father the family’s desire to leave Lebanon for good and return to Armenia. Armenians, by the thousands, were preparing to leave, and his entire family wanted to go back: grandparents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and their respective families. As everyone was preparing to leave, property prices dropped, and Jean offered my father several houses for the price of one.

My father showed skepticism: “What if conditions back home are difficult? How will you work? You will have to start from nothing, do you realize that?”

Jean: “Yes I do, Saiid, but it is worth it. There is nothing like home. We want to go back to our home country.”

My father was outraged: “But this is your home! You, your sisters, brothers, and cousins were all born here; you own land and you have your own business; you are Lebanese Armenian.”

Jean: “No Saiid. There is no place like home. My father wants to go back. We owe it to our country.”

Saiid: “This is your country Jean! You have Armenian schools, churches, newspapers, radio stations, and restaurants right here; you have a little Armenia in Lebanon. Why do you want to leave?”

Jean: “You will never understand, will you? The longing to go back home is greater than anything else. We want to go back to our roots. If one loses his land, one loses his heritage.”

My father shook his head: “What if the conditions in Soviet Armenia are bad? Are you willing to risk everything and see your children starve?”

Jean: “My brother is going there next week. This will give us a head-start. We are artisans after all, and we can work anywhere.”

Saiid: “Why don’t you ask your brother to write back and tell you about the situation?”

Jean: “Oh no! No one is allowed to do that. The censorship is great! This is Soviet Armenia, and that would be considered treason!”

Though Armenia became briefly independent in 1917, it fell under the Soviet rule until 1991. Heavily exercised censorship prevented Armenians from relating any information about the situation in Armenia to Armenians abroad. The soviets insisted on painting a beautiful image about Armenia to encourage repatriation, but they didn’t hesitate to exile returning Armenians to Siberia.

My father said: “Jean, are you telling me that you will sell everything and move to a place you do not know in what condition it is? Are you willing to risk your life and the life of your children to go back to your homeland?”

Jean: “Saiid. It took Odysseus ten years to make it back home but he wasn’t deterred. Nothing could lure him from returning home. No land; no amount of money; no woman.”

Saiid: “Odysseus had a home and a wife to go back to. It is not like he was going back to nothing.”

After a short pause, my father continued: “If your brother cannot write back and tell you about the situation back there, why doesn’t he send a message in some other form?”

Jean laughed: “You and your creative mind! Are you going to think up a secret way of communication?”

My father responded in all seriousness: “Yes. I am going to.”

After a longer pause, my father said: “Since you say your brother might risk his life if he relates any news to you about Armenia, you should think twice about going back. This alone is a sign that something is wrong. He doesn’t have to report things in writing. Have him instead send you a photograph of him.”

Jean: “Of him?”

Saiid: “Yes, of him. If the situation is excellent, he should send you a picture of him standing up. If the situation is mediocre, he should send a picture of him sitting down. If the situation is bad, he should send a picture of him squatting. This way, you will know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Jean liked the idea. It was smart, and it did not put the life of his brother at risk.

Four months passed before my father could make it back to Burj Hammoud for a day.

As he walked down Arax, the main street, he saw Jean running toward him.

“Saiid! Saiid!” Jean yelled.

“How are you doing my friend?” asked my father.

“Come with me,” Jean panted.

“Where to?”

“Just come. I need to show you something very important.”

“Did you hear from your brother?”

“Don’t ask questions. Just come.”

“Tell me! What is going on?”

“I will not say a word. Come. Hurry up!”

My father complied and had to run to keep up with Jean. After 10 minutes of running through the streets of Burj Hammoud, they reached Jean’s house, climbed up the stairs to the third floor, and let themselves into the apartment before Jean locked the door behind him. He led my father to the bedroom, reached for a key on top of the closet and opened it up. He brought out a small tin box, reached for a small key hidden in his shoe, and opened up the box. He took a photograph out and handed it to my father.

My father sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the photograph. It was a photograph of Jean’s brother in Armenia. He wasn’t standing up, he wasn’t sitting down, and he wasn’t squatting. He was spread face down on the floor.

My father was dumbstruck. He looked up at Jean and saw tears in his eyes. My father sighed and shook his head.

“We would have sold everything and gone there had it not been for this photograph,” Jean cried, “we could have lost everything.”

“Did you tell anyone?” my father asked.

“No. Just immediate family,” replied Jean.

“You should. You should help people by telling them.”

“I am afraid someone would hurt us.”

“You are safe here. Your brother can come back claiming the need to pick up his family.”

Jean nodded.

“I guess I have to,” he said.

The two friends hugged.

Jean did just that. He told his neighbors and friends, and he told strangers on the streets. In short, he told anyone who would listen. Word spread that Armenia is probably lost forever, and the Lebanese Armenians stayed in Lebanon.

I listened to this story dozens of times, but it was not until my father passed away in 2010 at the age of 85 that I realized that the Armenians still talk about it. It has become another story of survival and a part of the Lebanese Armenian heritage.

We always have a choice in life, but sometimes we heed the call of heart more oftentimes than we ought to. I understand one’s love for one’s land; however, I have come to understand that home is not always where the heart is. Home is, most times, where we are safest.

Goodbye, My Mentor

I could not sleep last night. I kept tossing and turning until 3:00 am. When I decided to finally get up and check my phone, I learned of the passing away of Dr. Kristiaan Aercke.

I met Dr. Aercke when I was sixteen years old, and he was my first mentor and biggest supporter throughout my academic career. I took six courses with him in my two semesters at LAU, and I fell in love with literature all over again because of him. I then decided to leave to California, and Dr. Aercke wrote a magnificent recommendation letter for me to submit wherever I was going. I remember asking him for five letters although I needed only four, and I opened one up to see what he had written about me. When he found out, years later, what I had done, he rolled his eyes at me in a manner only Kristiaan Aercke is capable of: Very dramatically in the most undramatic way. When I came back to LAU to finish an MA I had started at SJSU, Dr. Aercke was there to welcome me back. He taught me courses and stepped in when my thesis advisor bailed out on me towards the end of my thesis journey. Throughout that journey, he made sure I was doing a good job. He made me put my work on hold in order to publish, saying “you can always come back to this thesis, but you will never have this chance to publish in this reputable journal again.” I remember citing Freud in some paper “as cited in,” and Dr. Aercke gasped when he read that. He sent me home with all the works of Freud to read over the weekend so I never ever cite Freud “as cited in.” He knew what I was capable of even before I knew. As a Chair, he encouraged me to pursue every single opportunity available, and he was the one who sent me to AUB with a pat on the back saying that I have more room for growth there. In 2017, I emailed him to let him know that I was applying to IUP for a PhD in Composition and Applied Linguistics, and he made sure IUP received his letter of recommendation overnight. In short, he was what a true mentor is: Available, supportive, kind, considerate, and sees potential where no one else does. He believed in me more than I believed in myself.

I had been wanting to visit him for the longest time, but COVID-19 prevented me from doing that. I wanted to email him or call to let him in on the good news about achieving candidacy, but I thought I should hold off until I am ready to defend my chapters: I wanted to invite him to the defense. I knew he would come. I was sure of it. What I did not know, is that life had other plans for us. For him.

At LAU’s First Annual Poetry Competition I had organized with the help of Dr. Aercke who was Chair of the English Department back then.

Teaching in the Time of Corona: How to Switch to Online Classes

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A screenshot from one of my online class sessions

When I showed no hesitation to teach online classes, a friend asked me to write a blog post about how I would transition to online teaching saying that I would be helping many who are not all that experienced with online tools and teaching. I was not all too excited about writing this at first, but I thought I need to share my experience (especially since it is a positive one) with my colleagues who seem to be anxious about navigating such seemingly treacherous waters.

Let me begin by saying that this shift to teaching online has taken the world by storm. It seems that academic institutions around the world might have seen this as an opportunity to shift higher education from face-to-face to online learning, but the way instructors have been thrown into this whirlpool of digital teaching has aggravated anxieties.

So let me get straight to the point; the most burning question that academics nowadays seem to be asking is: How do we shift to online teaching when we have never been trained to do so before?

First of all, let us deal with three misconceptions surrounding the issue:

-Misconception #1: Online classes should be synchronous. Meaning, they should be taught live. We should be able to deliver them as if our students are in class and we are there passing on o­­­­­­­ur wisdom to them.

-Misconception #2: Online classes should be delivered orally. Whereas oral components in online classes are important, the entire content should not be delivered orally as I will illustrate below.

-Misconception #3: Online classes should last as long as regular, face-to-face classes do. An hour-long class should be an hour-long online session.

These three points mentioned above are misleading for several reasons:

First of all, online classes, especially in countries where the internet is unreliable, are better held asynchronously. In Lebanon for example, internet connections are weak and drop with the frequent power outages the country experiences on any given day. Also, Internet bandwidth is not unlimited, and students can get charged hefty sums for connecting from home. Because of the quarantine, students won’t be able to connect from cafes and other places, and most libraries are shut down. Therefore, it is better if instructors do not use Zoom or Skype to hold online sessions. They should not plan to deliver their classes like they would deliver in-class lectures.

What should we do instead?

QuickTime Player allows you to record video lectures or even screen recordings. These can later be shared publicly or privately on YouTube for those students who wish to go over the sessions one more time to clarify some points or revisit some concepts.

Second, we presume that since we deliver lectures orally, we need to deliver oral presentations when we move our classes online. This is not necessarily true or beneficial. When we change the medium of instruction, we should think about changing the delivery method. Synchronous and live oral presentations work well when there is a live audience, when one is delivering a presidential speech on TV, or when one is commenting on a football game during the World Cup. When it comes to teaching, we need to give the students the option to learn in their own time and at their own pace. When students listen to a lecture online, they might miss important information because of a lag in the internet connection or because they could not process the information quickly. Some might argue that students can be more focused on the lecture, but we cannot tell for sure what other stimulants in their surroundings might distract them. In class, we have control over the lighting, temperature, and setup of the class, but we cannot control any of that when the students are online. Therefore, it is better that our online sessions consist of prerecorded sessions, but I do not recommend that the lecture be substituted with another online lecture be it a Zoom session or a voiceover PowerPoint presentation. All these are beneficial tools, but they should be used wisely and frugally.

Third, Online classes should not last as long as face-to-face lectures or workshops. It is best if the lecture part is no longer than five to seven minutes. Think of it: When you receive a message on WhatsApp or any other chat app and it is longer than five minutes, you groan and moan. You prefer short, straight-to-the-point messages that sum up all you need to know in just a few minutes. TED says that the most successful TED talks are those that are between six to nine minutes long. If the talk is filled with engaging points and details, it can go up to 12 or 14 minutes but should not be longer. TED talks that are longer than 17 minutes are not watched in their entirety. As a TEDx co-curator and speaker trainer, I advise my trainees to keep their talks short and concise. This is why I suggest you keep your lecture (video presentation, screen recording, voiceover PowerPoint) to under 10 minutes. Better yet, break up your lecture to two presentations that are no longer than seven minutes each. Follow these up with exercises and supplement them with written material. Your online session should be diverse to suit the learning needs of all students: the auditory, the visual, and the kinesthetic. It should have a short video (presentation, talk, etc.), it should have Word docs that detail what the audiovisual material addresses, it should include exercises, and it should ask for feedback in the form of group work, homework, or even video presentation that can be recorded on a phone and uploaded in two simple steps to YouTube. The approach to teaching an online session should certainly be different.

Another important point to keep in mind while planning your online session is to plan for one online session a week  This means that if your class is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays or on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, it does not matter. You should hold one online session per week that requires three hours of work or more. But how do you know how long it’ll take students to complete the session? Calculate how long it will take you to complete the session and multiply that by three. If you think it will take you 10 minutes to watch the video and understand the content, think it will take twice as much or three times as much for others to accomplish the same task. You know the material well, and you should cater to the student who is least comfortable with the material. Those who know the material well have the advantage of being able to finish the sessions early and successfully.

Finally, try to rely on outside sources–do not plan to record all the sessions yourself. There are tons of available sources out there from teachertube.com (YouTube for teachers) to Khan Academy. You should rely on these sources. Unless you are teaching a highly specialized graduate course, rely on what is out there to help you teach your material. Make your prompts as detailed and as clear as possible, and write those yourself, please. But do rely on outside sources to deliver the content. Diversifying the material by bringing in outside sources keeps students engaged. Also, add optional readings for students. Most won’t look at those, but those who do not understand the material might want to check other sources. You want the recommended/extra readings to come from you.

Online teaching should be approached very differently from the way we have approached face-to-face teaching for thousands of years. The skills required for that are different, so we need to revisit our teacher identities as we revisit our classes and restructure them. When we talk about teacher identity, we talk about a whole body of literature that deals with the identity and the persona we think of as teachers and how we want to present ourselves. We are deprived of that on-screen, but it is an opportunity to hone this identity online and from it behind a screen because it helps us reconsider the teacher image we wish to portray and present. Here, we are moving from the role of conductors to facilitators. We should remember that there is no classroom management in an online classroom that depends on our character, voice, body language, and image. Our classroom management shifts from that to how well-organized and well-executed the online sessions are. Here, online classroom management is delayed and even removed. What ensures that we captivate the students’ attention is how well and thought-out our online session is.

This is not the first time instructors in Lebanon had to urgently shift to online teaching in the past five months since we did that after country-wide protests erupted in Lebanon last October halting work, businesses, schools, and universities. Online teaching is not easy. But, it is not difficult either. After a while, it becomes fun to plan and teach.

If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments below.

#corona #Covid19 #teachingonline #teacheridentity




How Ellen DeGeneres Ruined it for Me

If I can wear a tuxedo to a wedding, I would not say no. I love gender-neutral clothes, and I would love to wear a shirt and tie to work. Maybe even add suspenders. A flowy skirt with the hem reaching below the knee can work too coupled with comfy leather brogues. Something right out of the 50s.

I try to wear gender-neutral clothing as much as I can, but it is not always met with approving eyes. And it all started with Ellen.

When Ellen DeGeneres became internationally famous after the debut of her own talk show, she became the icon of this dress style. My dress style. She dons slacks with shirts,  blazers, and comfy sneakers to work, and she rocks the look.

Now when I go to work or to a conference in gender-neutral outfits, I look gay to others. I “look like Ellen.” It does not help that I love to rock a pixie haircut and value my comfort above all else. I love motorcycling outfits, for example, and prefer men’s jeans to women’s any day. Old Navy sweatpants bought from the men’s section are my all-time favorite, and my dream is to be able to afford an aviator jacket with a wool collar that I can wear until I grow old.

This makes me look gay, and that is not just me saying this. It is what others presume. While men shoot me confused looks that try to assess whether I look attractive in spite of the attire or not, women size me up and judge immediately. On the other hand, gay men appreciate the look because they presume I am no competition. But this all won’t change my affinity for men’s clothing.

I grew up loving gender-neutrality and appreciating it. Before I was identifiable as a girl, I used to pretend to be a boy so I could play football (soccer) with other boys without getting bullied or receiving special treatment–“Take it easy on her! She is a girl!” I hung out with my cousin who was exactly my age and made him promise not to tell others that I was a girl so I could hang out with the boys like I was one of them. I even had a boy’s name picked–something that I could remember to answer to. I never understood girls, and I never appreciated girl time. I was not into dolls (I thought only boys should play with dolls because girls were all boys were interested in), and I could not relate to girl issues. I hated pink, and I always wore my hair short because I got used to it short. It was curly, and my mother cut it short so she does not have to deal with combing it.

So how did Ellen ruin it for me?

Ellen made this gender-neutral style gender-specific. She removed the neutrality out of it.   This fashion statement became associated with her and ceased to be for everyone: Both men and women who are cisgender, trans, and non-binary. Designers took a style for all and slammed it shut in the Ellen compartment. It is not necessarily her fault, but it is a responsibility I hold her accountable for. Ellen can introduce more pizzaz to her wardrobe that would suit her show all while showing that she can have a diverse wardrobe. She can be a bit less like Letterman with decades of suits donned on for his late-night show and more like Meghan Rapinoe who can go from jerseys and soccer shoes to sequined little numbers in hours.

I refuse to give up this style to Ellen, just like I refuse to be tagged with a label just because I look some way or speak some way. I insist on holding tightly to the right to wear gender-neutral clothing all while being cisgender. I refuse to allow anyone to monopolize a style. To me, it is like saying whiskey is only for Scots.


Photo Credit: https://images.app.goo.gl/dJtCsxi8q4mDMfKN6


My Experience at the BSP

For the past few days, I have been at the Bhava Spandana Program organized by the Isha Foundation in Lebanon. It is an intensive residential program in yoga and meditation, and it requires Inner Engineering as a prerequisite. In this post, I will not write about the program but rather about my experience of the program.

The program, as I mention above is intensive, and it is also intense. It felt like a rebirthing process more than anything, and I feel completely reborn after this including feeling new to this world. My experiences with everything seem completely new and almost alien to the extent that I feel I do not recognize the life paths I was on. My job feels alien and my studies feel like someone else’s. It does not help that I had deleted (by mistake) all my files off my personal laptop before leaving to the program. I wonder if that was somehow done intentionally, but it is a metaphor of what happened to me in the program, for what was left of me were the essentials. Even my body is suffering and feels alien to me. I can feel muscles I have not felt before.

What we went through in this program are fierce yoga and meditation exercises that metaphorically broke every single bone in the body. These exercises pushed me to the extreme, and what came out on the other side is a transformed being. I am yet to realize the extent of this transformation, but what I know for sure is that the good in me has been multiplied tenfold.

One of the exercises was a moment of birth for me, and the silence afterward felt like the first year of life. Taking a shower after that felt like a baptism, and I could feel every single drop falling on my head and body. Eating was also another mind-blowing experience. Flavors were bursting in my mouth, and I was satiated after eating only a few seeds. The grape that exploded in my mouth was euphoric, and I could not hold back the tears. I shed more tears in this program than I have during my adult life.

All forms of life I was observing around me were seen as if for the first time. After that, it was all a whole new world to me. I saw life with a fresh set of eyes. I realized that we go through life noticing the beauty of what humans create from science to technology to art, but we never notice the beauty of life. Every single lifeform from flowers to grass to ants to bees to insects to petals to humans is a great piece of art that we are seeing and missing. We become oblivious to everything around us. Just like a filthy rich person who stops seeing the luxury he is surrounded with or the person who has so many clothes and does not know what to wear because of the abundance of choices, I was going through life oblivious to the blessings I live in. My world was engineered, but my inner workings were chaotic. This is what happens when we have a lot. We stop seeing. We become immune and immunity here is not positive. Every form of life is striking, and we need to remain in awe. If we can remain in awe, we experience the “awe”someness of life.

What changed in me as well is that before BSP, I felt that my life was lacking love. I had no partner to love. I had friends and family to love, but no relationship. Now, I feel that I have so much love in my life and so many people to love and be in love with. I have 89 new partners I am head-over-heels in love with (every single one of them). The love I was given and the love I gave was equivalent to all the love I felt my entire life from life partners.

The process is not easy, and I had to dive headfirst into it, but I was ready to do so. Even my life was ready for it, for everything that led to BSP was in place. I had just moved apartments and had endured an end to a relationship that had lasted for six years, six months, and six days.

Yesterday, I was born again. My new birthday is September 15, 2019. Today, I am one day old. I came to this life with so much realization on how to carry on. Yesterday, I left in Bzommar heaps of Karma. I also shed a lot of skin and flesh and even left a bone or two on the ground somewhere. I felt cold and naked, but I was free. I was free of my old self, and there is no larger sense of freedom than that. Sadhguru gave birth to me this time, for I was born out of his womb, and Isha is my new last name.

Shall I go back?

Recently, I have been writing for several hours a day in a small diary for a retreat I’ll be going to soon. That got me thinking: Maybe I should come back here and write! Maybe a blog or two a week. I was also thinking I should force myself to write a blog a day as part of my reflexive writing exercise that will grow into a published *something* soon. So why not start here and now?

Women Flipped Election Results!


Yes, I am very happy with the results of the mid-term elections, although I am disappointed that the Democratic Party did not pick up more seats in the Senate. They, in fact, lost two! Why am I happy despite the loss of two seats in the Senate? WOMEN WON 26 ADDITIONAL SEATS!

When I voted, I voted for women Democrats and Liberals. I purposely voted for women because I strongly believe that we need to level power control around the world.

Every time a woman wins a race, I am happy. Every time a woman attains high administrative levels, I am happy. Every time a woman accomplishes anything, I am happy.

Women have not been supporting each other for decades. They have been plagued with jealousy and futile competitiveness based on superficial values and concerns.

Enough is enough.

It is time we start being each other’s biggest supporters. It is time we celebrate each other. It is time we take control of the world in an equal fashion to men.

I am fed up hearing women discuss shallow matters instead of concentrating on their potential in making a huge difference in the world. We need to stand together and make sure that we save this planet for the future generations–a planet almost destroyed by men’s wars, greed, and cockfighting.

Hold Your Tongue!

Should we allow our students to speak in a language other than English in an English class?

I forbade my students from speaking in any language but English in class. Whether it was to talk to me or during class discussions, the only words students were allowed to utter were English words.

Until this semester:

I happen to have a group of French-educated students in my English 102 at the American University of Beirut who find it difficult to form coherent sentences in English. While doing a class activity and some research using the Wadsworth Handbook, these students were struggling with discussing the material. The activity was taking longer than it should, and its purpose was not being achieved. It dawned on me that maybe if I let them speak in their preferred tongue, they can accomplish the task faster and more efficiently. I did. I allowed them to speak in French or Arabic, and the end result was that they successfully completed the work.

While learning German and Italian (the last two languages I attempted at conquering—and miserably failed, I should add), I found it crippling to decipher the language using the language itself. It was easier to treat the language like a mathematical equation and solve its acquisition challenges using a different yet preferred language. I am not sure whether it was my age or my schedule which deterred me from pursuing these languages any further, but I feel that being able to discuss a language in another language employs a comparative skill which aids with the learning process.

This makes me wonder whether we, instructors of English, are hindering the language acquisition process by demanding that our students converse in a language which is somewhat easy to read and write but challenging to speak in.


A Single Sentence

Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang, came the thumps from the shoemaker’s place syncopating harmoniously at times with the taps of the hammer on the roof of the house adjacent to the woodshop where the electric sawing machine drowned all noise temporarily for a few seconds at a time only to subside and give way to the shrieks of the fruit vendor wheeling his squeaky carriage down the cobblestone pathway passing the antique Dabbous shop where Um Kulthum’s scratchy record hollered from the ancient copper trumpet of the record player to which hookah smokers slammed the backgammon stones down the wooden tables before I slammed the window shut.

Only Adam Ate the Apple


Sometimes I doubt that knowledge has been bestowed upon women. When faced with situations with some men, I doubt that I have ever existed on this planet. I ask other women about their experience in handling such situations, and I discover that they are far better misinformed than I am.

When a man spots a woman he likes, he sets her as his target. He calculates her movement, speed, direction, and when he should fire to kill. Sometimes she surprises him by an occasional stop at a kiosk, a display window, or a nail parlor, but he has scenarios for every move, every step, and every word she utters in self-defense. Men are prepared for war, while us women are still domesticated. We did not start out on the battlefield, and we have no experience in hunting. Our experience lies in luring the hunter indoors, but we have to cope with the consequences as a result:

If the inside has no windows lest he spots a target to hunt, he will be bored, and there is nothing worse, I repeat, nothing worse than a domesticized man. He thinks he knows how to do everything better, and he tries to improve everything that you do. You make him the king of your heart and he wants to become the king of the territory including you, your brains, and your body.

If allowed to roam outdoors, the man will spot, set target, and fire, and he will do all this without you noticing, if smart enough.

If he can, he will.

However, if you are walking outside trying to enjoy the state of singlehood you have finally come to terms with without wanting to be pursued by a man, especially the wrong kind you dislike, detest, disdain, or abhor, you find yourself being chased by all kinds of wrong men: the failure who gets attracted to your success and wants a woman to hunt and play house at the same time, the sleazy who does it because he can, the playboy who needs to add to his score, the arrogant who underneath it all has an inferiority complex and belittles you to feel better about himself, the married who was left to roam outside alone, and the older-married man who wants to prove to himself that he still can.

The worst step any woman can take is to try to reason logically with the man she is letting down. Men in this situation become like two-year-olds with the question “But Why?” After a few “but whys,” men find a logical loop-hole and jam their fingers in it.

“Will you go out with me?”


“But why not?”

“Because I am not interested in you.”

“But why not? Am I not a handsome man?”

“Yes you are, but I am not interested in going out with a man at the moment. I am busy working on myself.”

“You are thirty four years old and haven’t finished working on yourself yet? Were you a late bloomer or something?”

“No I was not, but I am not currently interested.”

“But why?”

“Because I feel that your intentions are different than mine.”

“Why? What did I ever say? All that I am asking for is a date! Why do women always jump to conclusions?”

“Because a man’s intentions matter!”


“Because I do not want to waste my time on an unserious person.”

“But why? Are you looking for a relationship and marriage?”

“No! But I do not want to get involved with someone whose intentions are clearly to nail me only! Why go out for a cup of coffee with someone I know is only interested in my ass! Someone who wants to fool around and not the serious type! It does not matter whether I want a relationship or not, what matters is that I don’t go out with a guy who is not serious lest I like him! I do not want to have my heart broken, so I avoid the end-result before I ever start!”

“Jeez woman! Pull yourself together! You have serious issues! All I asked for was to go out for a cup of coffee! And now you wanna drag me into a marriage?”


What is worse than hearing those words is believing them. Some women fear being alone, and they go out eventually with this guy because they stupidly think they can change his mind about commitment and make him stay. They end up with a broken heart and many scars.


Adam knows it all. Adam knows that whether it is Lilith or Eve, a woman wants to get married whether she knows it or not. He, one the other hand, wants sex.

Sex helps man prove himself to himself. It does not do the same to a woman.

I say only Adam ate the apple because he became aware of Eve’s nakedness. Ever since then, he strips her naked with his eyes every time he sees her because this reminds him of the original encounter with knowledge. When he sees a naked Eve, it all comes back to him. It is the return to the womb. Yes, a woman delivers a man to life, and he spends the rest of his life trying to go back to the womb. She delivers him to salvation when she allows him to penetrate her.


Dogs mark their territory by pissing, men by fucking. Men wish to expand their territory as much as possible, and fidelity is man’s worst nightmare. Only a man who is afraid of being cheated at refrains from cheating, otherwise, he will seek out a woman to screw without his woman ever finding out. Yes! Men cheat simply because they can.


I decided to join an online dating service to try and meet someone, but the webpage which included almost all countries around the world, excluded most countries in the Middle East including Lebanon. I tried joining by using my address in the U.S., but it kept deleting my account after I would have spent hours filling in the information.


“Damn You Israelis!” I would yell to my laptop screen every time I read: “Your profile triggered our security system and was deleted. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Why the discrimination? Why are Israelis allowed to join this dating website and Arabs aren’t?


I searched the internet vertically and horizontally until I finally found a website based in Orange County and especially designed for Arabs. I filled out a profile, posted some pictures which didn’t appear until days later after getting approved by the administrators, and sat there waiting to catch my first fish—bait and switch; shock and awe. I started receiving messages and flirts from many people who didn’t fit my criteria but who messaged me anyway. Some asked for a date while others asked to marry me, especially men from the Gulf looking for their third or fourth wife and waste no time in getting to know someone.

“Why talk? All I want is for her to be available for me twice a week for the making of the sexing or for the making of the babies Insha’allah!”


Until one day when I got a message from an anonymous with no picture. After having been on that website for a month, I learned that people with no pictures are married men who don’t want to be recognized by their wives. They use fake names, fake info, and post no pictures. While most divorced men state that they have never been married and have no children, married men state that they are divorced or separated (if they want to play it safe).


I received that message and decided to ask the guy why he doesn’t have a picture.

His response came with a scenario that I couldn’t chew well let alone swallow: He is too handsome and cannot handle all the attention he gets from the females on the website. He didn’t leave it at that and how I wish he did because I could have taken that as a joke, but no. He added that he was stalked by one woman and was forced to close down his account and open another under a different nickname with different information. I respectfully replied that I cannot correspond with someone of whom I cannot form a well-defined mental picture, especially since this is a romantic dating website. I had to see what he looked like. He responded saying that he can email me a picture if I want to, and he asked for my cell-phone number so he could call me to which I responded with a firm “NO.”


Then came the reply: “Why do you think you are better than everybody? You do not wish to correspond with someone who doesn’t have a picture up? I think it is far worse not to want to give me your phone number. I mean, you are pretentious and with low self-confidence. You seem like you have no experience, and I hope you stop messaging me.”




Excuse me? What happened here? Last time I checked, I did not suffer from epilepsy, so did something happen in his dimension that I am not aware off? Was his house swept off with a tornado? Did a tsunami flood his head and confuse the order of women and relationships in there?


I then realized that this guy knows how to play it well like any Lebanese guy, but he played it too soon. Yes, I read in some online newspaper that Lebanon was voted one of the top 10 most romantic countries in 2012 based on an analysis of how the men treat the women. I realize we are in there with the French and most importantly the Italians, but I also know it is not because the guys know how well to treat the women, but how well to lie through their teeth to the five women they are involved with at once. This guy knew the art of guilt-trapping because any response he would get out of me he knew how to reply to, but he played his cards too soon. He was not a poker master, and he failed just because I was a little bit more experienced than he assumed.

This is one loophole in men’s thinking: they generalize. Just because many women are completely ignorant and living in the dark, this does not mean that most women can afford their intelligence being insulted without them noticing.


Maybe, after all, Eve did retain a bite.



Missing “member” of a family:


Two days ago, I received a call from my friend Joumana who, in disbelief, shared the story of the girl from Baisour whose brothers decided to amputate the “member” of her groom because she had eloped with him (the groom) early July and because he is from a different religion.

Joumana and I did not know whether we should stop breathing at the ghastly spectacle (we both have very active imaginations) or hysterically laugh in disbelief at the horrific story that is more likely to occur in a jungle than in a country which has recently approved civil marriage with an overwhelming support (almost 45%) from the Druze sect to which the girl belonged.

The brothers of the girl allegedly had a problem with her marrying a Muslim (or anyone from a different sect for that matter), while others argue that it has to do with the age-gap between the girl and the guy for he is 39 and she is 19.

After convincing the newly weds to come over for dinner, the brothers kidnapped the guy, beat him to pulp, and dragged him to the town square to kill him. One of the brothers who works as a butcher, cut off the “member” in hopes to cut the family off the one member who isn’t welcome. Many questions come to mind: Who were they doing a favor to here? Who benefited in the end? What happened to the girl who has been missing since then? Was it that shameful to them that they had to commit crimes and end their lives for it? Does anger ever have limits? Will the law consider this an honor crime and sentence the brothers to a measly number of months in prison?

It took the Lebanese only two days to start circulating jokes about the story:

Insurance companies are now offering policies that cover “members” who wish to marry girls from other religions. The policy covers the entire region except Baisour (the hometown of the girl). Prices vary depending on the size of the member.

In utter disbelief, my sister asked me, when I told her the story, whether the guy died as a result of the amputation. It is a “sensitive” case, but people do not die when their private parts get cut off.

What upsets me even more is that this case shook the country, but no one is paying attention to female genital mutilation happening all over the Arab world and depriving women from ever enjoying intercourse. It ends their sexual life completely. Sex becomes painful and an ordeal. One guy got mutilated in Lebanon, and the entire country is talking about it. Thousands of women get genitally mutilated every year, and no one dares utter a word. What a shame!

I am not trying to say that what happened to this man is not a crime. It is the ugliest of crimes. I am, however, concerned about the girl, his wife. Where is she? Who knows what about her? What happened to her? He lost his member; did she loose her life at the hands of her brothers?