In 2014, I was back from an extended blogging hiatus and trying to find my writing legs. It was when I first realized I needed to make the shift from Fiction to Nonfiction. Prior to that time, my Fiction was a jumble of the anxieties I was trying to sort without accepting or owning. In fact, I wrote a 192 page cycle of short stories as my MFA thesis that was based mostly on my family’s nonfictional experience with the Lebanese-American diaspora on both continents. It is a series of
Our experiences impact how we became who we are, but our experiences do not define us. For example, I have children, but I am far more than a mother. I was abused, but I am far more than a victim or a survivor. I have had work published, but I am not only an author. In fact, I’m not even the same person I was when I wrote the published piece. Writing it changed me. Instead, I am all of these at once, but I am also something else: I am
I sing in jazz clubs under the name Shadia. My following saw a swell in my mid-twenties. My voice has always been husky and a bit low. I love singing under dim lights to live music. I love having a secret life, somewhere I can go when parenting becomes too much. When I’m tired of the sun or the rain or the busy-making of today’s “music.” What I like about performing is that I’m seen, but I’m also part of the background. My voice is a prop for falling in
When I was 16, I started letting people believe that I was white. In 1996, my family relocated upward from the Bible Belt. We moved from the southwest corner of Arkansas to the Midwest. At sixteen, I experienced a new definition of self — which, for me, meant shedding my ethnic heritage and the abuse that came with it. My coming of age was more than an exit from youthful innocence. It was an escape. Read more of “Why I Passed For White” in Medium’s The Archipelago.