Bloggin’ Banat

two arab-american chicks takin’ over the blogosphere

Turning 30 is Like Running Against the Clock January 9, 2010

This was originally posted on Kabobfest.

It must have been a coincidence.  I happened to come across a television show, a movie and a conversation with a friend all having to do with being female, being thirtyish and having something missing or looking for something in life.  It was like God was trying to tell me something.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching episodes of Ally McBeal on DVD.  Season 4 to be exact.  It was a show that I used to watch back in the late nineties (seems so long ago now) which I really enjoyed.  The ongoing theme of the show was that Ally McBeal, a successful lawyer, was always searching for love…for the guy.  I can’t quite remember if she ever did find the guy at the series end but she did come pretty close in season 4.  Anyway, Ally’s search wouldn’t be significant to me if it wasn’t for the fact that her age was always an issue in relevance to her pursuit of love.  I think she was 31 in season 4. Well, I haven’t found the guy yet either and I also happen to be 31.

Later, I rented and watched the film Julie & Julia about the true stories of Chef Julia Child and Julie Powell. Julie Powell is a married woman who was about to turn 30 and disliked her job.  So she decided to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a year and blog about it. Since she’s an aspiring writer, it was an opportunity for her to do two things that she loved; cook and write. Well, her blog turned out to be a big hit and she’s now a published author. The movie is based on her book.  I identified with the age issue again and wanting to already be doing something I love career-wise but not having reached that point yet.

Then last week it all kind of came together when I went to visit a good friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a long time. Among the various conversations we had, one was referencing Ally McBeal: the idea of us being in our thirties, having “big girl” jobs now and how it seemed like such a long ways away when we were in our teens. Yet, here we were.  We talked about some of the unhappy circumstances at our jobs that were uncannily similar.  We also discussed our ambitions for doing greater things that didn’t include sitting at a desk.

Regarding all of this, the most prominent factor for me is age.  Turning 30 was a big deal, and not in a good way, for Ally and Julie. It was also the same for me.  Being in my thirties, I now feel like I am running against the clock.  For example, as if being a single Arab girl at my age isn’t difficult enough, since the prime age for marriage is between 18-22 (people probably think there’s something ‘wrong’ with me), it also seems that all the good men around my age are already taken or previously married, which means they come with some sort of baggage.  Not only that, but I’m on the verge of what most people would perceive as spinster status.  I shudder at the thought.

Next comes the issue of work and what I really want to do with my life.  In college I decided to become a communications major because I figured it was the only rational way for an Arab Muslim girl like me to get into the entertainment industry.  Well, before I graduated, the second intifada came around and my focus went into a different direction. Now I still have that fierce desire to enter the entertainment world, as I did before I graduated, but I am waiting and hoping for an opportunity to knock on my door.  Again, my age being a factor, I feel like that window of opportunity is getting narrower and narrower minute by minute.

It’s not that I suddenly felt old when I turned 30.  Quite the contrary, I feel like I’m still in my early twenties and I act like I’m even younger sometimes.  But besides the fact that my biological clock is ticking away, I think the pressures I feel are societal.  And I’m not talking about finding love or pursuing a career I’ve dreamed about as being the societal pressures.  Those are things that I want.  It’s the aging factor that’s the problem. This pressure about age is not an internal concern but something that I believe society places on women.  Because let’s face it, do most guys go through all of this emotional crap? No, because they generally don’t face these problems.  For example, a man can choose the single life, never marry and be considered a cool cat like George Clooney.  And most women who enter and have success in the entertainment industry, like actresses for example, tend to be in their late teens and early twenties.  Women in their thirties are perceived to be on the verge of a decline in their career.  Even producers usually get their start right out of college.  There are always exceptions, of course.

Being in my thirties doesn’t suck. I just feel that my opportunities in life are diminishing as a result.  But I’m not giving up hope. My future outlook is like a candle. Sometimes it’s brightly lit and other times the light is so dim that it almost fades.  But, it never diminishes.  And I hope it doesn’t anytime soon. I guess I can look at Julia Child’s life as an example and see that she found love at 40 and soon thereafter pursued her passion of cooking as well as published her now classic French cookbook. I just hope I don’t have to wait that long cause turning 40 would be like dying.

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Try an Arranged Marriage. You Might End Up Happier. November 19, 2008

I came across an interesting article today about a new book by Reva Seth called First Comes Marriage regarding the success of arranged marriages.  The author interviewed 300 women in the US, UK and Canada who are in arranged marriages.  And guess what?  Most of them are happy.   first-comes-marriage-cover1

This is a topic that interests me because I am a bit old school when it comes to dating and marriage and I never thought arranged marriages were necessarily a bad thing.  However, I think a lot of people in the West, including some 2nd and 3rd generation Arab-Americans and those from Eastern cultures (you know who you are), tend to look down on arranged marriages and view them as “backwards” nowadays.  But get this-the women interviewed were all educated and career-oriented; not backwards thinking women at all.

An important point made in the article is that “arranged marriages are not forced marriages.”  So don’t think that these women who choose this path to marriage are dragged kicking and screaming to the alter.  That’s a huge misconception people tend to make here in the US and in the West in general.  And these types of marriages have a significantly lower divorce rate (7 percent) than typical Western marriages (40-45 percent).  Doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Now, I don’t think this type of marriage is for everyone. But I do think we shouldn’t automatically look down on it either.  As the book suggests, people tend to hook up in bars and clubs lusting after someone.  But that fire tends to fizzle out over time.   These people usually aren’t marriage material anyway.  The key to a successful marriage is compatibility.  And having a ‘marriage musts’ list of qualities that you desire is key.  As one of the women interviewed said: “The difference [between arranged and Western marriages] is that a love marriage is like a boiling pot that cools down over time, while an arranged marriage is like a cold pot that gradually comes to a boil.” Sexy, huh?

As with anything in life, nothing’s perfect.  Marriage is definitely one of those things.  We may never find our Prince Charming and have that Cinderella fairytale ending (although I can never get myself to relinquish that idea).  But we can end up being married and happy and maybe, just maybe, we can get there through an arranged marriage. All I’m saying is that regardless of who you are or where you come, don’t exclude the idea behind arranged marriages.  You may save yourself the stress and pain of a divorce a few years down the road.

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A call to arms against the A-rab style living room setup November 17, 2008

Filed under: Dating,Marriage,Norma,wtf — Norma @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Several months ago I was the victim of a crime committed against modernity. I was ambushed, hoodwinked, and bamboozled to boot…My family tricked me into an A-rab style living room setup. Oh, the horror! I still have not recovered from this slight against my nature and sensibilities.

Under the guise of helping a relative out with “computer problems,” I was lured to my uncle’s house only to find out there was no computer issue at all, just a guy with his family chillin’ in the living room.

Seriously, who was the genius who thought that shoving two people together in a room surrounded by relatives is a good idea? It’s like throwing pasta on the wall in front of an audience who watch to see if it sticks…

My relatives’ minds read like an inverted jane austen novel: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good job, past her mid-twenties, and possibly carrying some light luggage from past relationships (:-P), must be in want of a husband. And it’s their duty to help her out.


Don’t get me wrong – It’s not like I’m all anti setups, in the looser sense of the term, of course. I mean, if there’s some sort of gathering or function or something and somebody tells somebody else wink wink I have a niece, so maybe bring your nephew along, fine, whatever. I’ll be none the wiser and won’t mind being introduced to a fellow party-goer.

But this particular situation took the cake.

I figured that this guy must have been tricked into this setup, too, so I hightail it outta my uncle’s house probably sooner than deemed proper. No biggie, I assume – these people are here from out of state and stopped by for a nice visit with my uncle and his family. This setup, albeit a not-so-funny “haha we tricked you” moment for me and the guy, was just a bonus added onto their trip.

I was oh so wrong.

I find out later that this guy and his mom were basically on a tour of the US trying to find his special bint Arab. I was the second scheduled stop in the mid-Atlantic region. Maybe this guy should just post a profile on

Good times 😛