Category Archives: Cultural Issues

Is Your Life a Slot Machine?

How much of your life do you consider blind luck, and how much do you attribute to the choices you have made? Muslims are fatalists. They believe what’s ordained is ordained; and no one but God can alter anything. Each event, small or large, long before it ever happens, is written in The Book. MyContinue Reading

When You Hit The Bottom Hard, The Only Way Is Up

As you may know, I love a good Starting Over story.  You know the kind: one minute you’re riding high, the next, you’re flat on your back wondering what hit you. What fears prevent you from letting go of your old life? What if they actually happened?  Sahar Irwin tells us about hers, and howContinue Reading

Steady Through the Storm

The summer I came back to the States, the fall I chose never to go back to Iran, I told myself that if I could just get away from my husband’s family, just gain a little control, then all my troubles would magically disappear. I understood that if I refused to go back, I wouldContinue Reading

Brought to You By The Axis of Evil

We make commitments to others in order to appear nice, and then we kick ourselves when they are inconsiderate enough to take us at our word. When I lived in Iran I often found myself irritated by tarof, traditional Iranian etiquette. Stopping by someone’s home unexpectedly, as is the custom there, my husband and IContinue Reading

Six Qualities to Consider When Choosing a Mate

I used to think that women, like me, were guilty of being non-selective when it came to choosing a mate.  That any warm body that paid us a little attention could end up walking us down the aisle.  But lately I’ve been noticing that men–particularly young men, and the recently divorced –are just as susceptibleContinue Reading

The Underbelly of Expatriate Life

The Underbelly of Expatriate Life

When I was young, I fancied myself a global citizen. A Margaret Mead type, who gravitated towards exotic cultures. Impressed with my “intimate” knowledge of obscure peoples, of my ability to hang out in their communities like the team mascot, I turned my nose up at my suburban upbringing. The very people I spent theContinue Reading

James Dean in Drag

“He’s hypnotized you,” Mom said when I told her I was going to marry the Iranian and move to his country. “Do you have any idea how they treat women in Islamic countries?” I regarded her through narrowed eyes because my mother, who considered Raman noodles foreign, had zero understanding of different cultures. She wasn’tContinue Reading

Mr. Right

I’m disappearing to a writer’s conference for ten days. So here, because time is not my friend, is a segment from my book The Lost Girls of Shiraz. A draft, but a taste nonetheless. He’s so sure of himself, this man beside me. So comfortable in his own skin, so confidant in his opinions, soContinue Reading

The End

So much time has passed, but the two and a half years of illness are still fresh in my mind. I can still hear his voice calling me from the hospital after exploratory surgery.  From the tone, I know something is terribly wrong even before he tells me.  He’s supposed to be in Canada orContinue Reading

The Other Half

 I’m back at the small confectionary shop in Iran where Hannah, my husband’s niece, and I order frozen noodles. “One of the girls in my study group had a really hard time breaking her hymen on her wedding night, ” Hannah says, staring out the picture window at women in black chadors, girls in schoolContinue Reading