Written during a trip to London with my husband, this piece documents a pivotal and transformation period of time where I began to rediscover a sense of self by letting go of self. A candid journey inward, questioning what it means to be human, to be a father, to be a gay man, but most importantly to be authentic.
For a nine-year-old girl, it was incomprehensible to watch her father gather all his books to take them out of town to burn them secretly. Worried about her father being arrested by the new regime in Iran in 1981, young Shabnam had to let go of the books she had planned to learn from, one day when she grew up.
In the popular mind, older generations are generally more conservative and younger ones more open-minded and willing to embrace change. It’s a dynamic often played out in popular culture — think of the conservative administrators in Dead Poets Society who don’t take well to an upstart professor with an unconventional approach to teaching young minds. The modern history of the United States is a primer in the tension between generational values. The baby-boomer generation (the hippies and protestors and activists) are widely seen as having broken free of the traditional ethos handed down by elders and as having applied idealism and passion in the name of promoting peace and building a better world. But the real picture is far more complex than the stereotypes. In some cases, members of the younger generation turned out to be more conservative than their elders. The following family history challenges generational stereotypes by describing how a mother, who lived in New York at a time of radical upheaval, found a very different political identity from that of her progressive mother.
“Paralyzed” depicts a little girl’s first experience with sleep paralysis and how forced religion manifests in her hallucinations. The goal of this piece is to bring awareness to sleep paralysis and the odd ways it may reveal itself. Many who suffer from sleep paralysis are not even aware of the condition until they are well into adulthood, causing them to believe there could be something inherently wrong with their psyche.
“What Trees Feel Like” explores humans’ relationship with nature and asks how we tell stories about ourselves. It sheds light on how we center ourselves in our narratives and allow other important aspects to fade into the background.
“Us, The Girls” is a flash nonfiction prose piece exploring the complexities of sisterhood, my relationship to which has been based in familial obligation, close proximity, frustration, and unabiding love. It is for anyone finally recognizing the power of a bond they might have previously taken for granted.
How do we stand up for ourselves and overcome bullying? All human beings want to stand up for themselves, prove that their lives matter, and feel like they are repairing the world for others to feel pride or acceptance. How do standup comedy, storytelling, and performance serve as acts of defiance against the norm? How do certain events give us the power to fight back?
September 11th shook a nation — it still haunts the USA today. This memoir piece marks an emotional journey, and the physical complication of flying a few days after the terrorist attack to a memorial service of someone killed in the second plane. It is a reminder that life is temporary, and to live fully despite this.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.
How does art act as an indication of societal upheaval? This unique piece combines personal narrative and art history to remind us the roles we play are often conditioned by the structures we rail against.