Growing up an immigrant kid in the United States wasn’t really that hard, especially if you were an Arab kid in the 90’s.
First, there was all the room in the world to play outside instead of being confined to riding your bike in the halls of your apartment building. The fast food and candy tasted awesome when you could get your hands on them, and Nintendo was starting to get some real competition from Sony, so both companies were stepping up their game up.
But it wasn’t all lollipops and Sonic the Hedgehog; making friends was a different story. Most girls throughout the 6th grades of America understood the hierarchical system of cliques. Though complicated and intricate, no matter where you fell on the spectrum, you could be sure you’d have a friend to hang around the mall with on Saturdays. Unfortunately for my 12-year-old self, going to the mall with your family was well-known as social suicide for a pre-teen, and I didn’t get that memo.
The whole first year of my transition — waiting for our parents to follow us to the US plus moving 20-miles closer to LA — was tense, especially because I was utterly friendless. I once seasoned a steak dinner with my tears on Halloween night because I didn’t have anyone to go trick-or-treating with.
By sixth grade, I spent my recesses with a freakishly tall Chinese bookworm named Lydia and an obese horse-lover named Lisa. They never went out. Ever. On my 10th birthday, Lydia got me three unwrapped magnets that I had seen on her refrigerator weeks earlier. She just plopped them onto my kitchen table and said, ‘Here you go, Happy Birthday’.
So, on the day that Kristen Garcia asked me to come over to her house and hang out, I jumped at the chance to make a real companion. She also didn’t have many friends and I just figured people brushed her off like they brushed me off. I didn’t think twice about the offer.
I arrived at her house in the mid-morning, freshly showered with straightened hair half up in a barrette* I wore a shirt with matching shoes that I designed with hot pink puff paint. We may have left the Middle East, but I’d be damned if I left my Lebanese fashion-sense and cleanliness behind.
Kristen, on the other hand, was not as prepared for our friend date. She was wearing once-white pajamas dusted with a faint layer of dirt making them greyish. We spent some time in the kitchen before her mother burst in screaming,
“KRISTEN! YOU HAVEN’T SHOWERED FOR THREE DAYS! GET YOUR BUTT IN THERE NOW!”
I was horrified. Kristen casually yelled back while urging me to scurry up the stairs with her into her bedroom.
That’s when it all clicked. Kristen was the girl at school no one hung out with because she was The Stinky Girl. How was I supposed to know!? I was a fucking immigrant, remember? All those grown-up chats and whispers about American girls being dirty started to make sense. That’s what they must have meant!
*(Side Note: A few weeks earlier I had gotten my curly hair cut and was inspired by the hair style book at Super Cuts to get bangs. Not only did the cunt of a hairdresser not stop a clearly curly-haired girl from getting bangs, she asked if I wanted them blunt or feathered and I didn’t know what either meant so I went with feathered because it sounded cooler. From that day on, unless I straightened my hair every day, I sported a cool patch of pubes on my forehead.)
The selection and preparation (and consumption) of food is an effort I take seriously. Making and sharing good food is a wonderful part of life.
After growing up in California for most of my life, living in Lebanon for the past few years changed my relationship to food markets. Hole in the wall fruit & vegetable shops, corner butchers and family-owned neighborhood mini-marts are pr... [more]
It’s easy to feel like the world is turning into a cold and terrible place. Just a quick look what’s happening in the Middle East is enough to dim even the brightest heart.
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So, hating on Israel just makes you an anti-anti-semite?
We all remember the bitter Arab/Israeli wars. The record battles, the name-calling. First Israel tried to take hummus. Then it was tabbouleh, shawarmah and baklava. But was it all a cover up for the most controversial thing they took? Anti-semitism.
The fact is, Palestinians are semites! So, what... [more]
Featuring Beirut’s Motorcycle Gang, The Aref Naja Crew!
Does this tiny love story reveal the true nature of men and women in relationships?
[SPOILER ALERT: watch video first!]
Norway’s most popular publication, VG, published a short documentary featuring the tumultuous tale of kindergarteners in love. At the most basic level it’s super cute, but the story unravels to reveal the sad and awkward reality of male-female views on dating, no matter the age.
The story opens in the Spring with four-year-o... [more]
Watch them in concert this Saturday
…and don’t forget your life jacket!
Ich was going to become famous by solving a world problem! But which one? Clooney’s got Darfur, Sting’s got the Amazon, and Bono’s got AIDS! Luckily, there was still one shithole left to fix: the Middle Earth. – Brüno
You know you’re a superstar when you’re asked to publicize world issues like the war in Syria. Angelina Jolie rec... [more]