finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Story Diary

With everything happening these days in Iraq. I am reminded of the small book I wrote 2 years ago called, Story Diary. It was published as part of the Veterans Book Project.

It speaks to my experience in the Middle East in the fall of 2009 meeting with hundreds of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It was a life changing experience and created in me a need to advocate for refugees. I am currently writing a larger book, a memoir, about the experience of falling in love with one particular refugee. The book is called Three Days in Damascus, hopefully published soon.

But in the meantime, here is an excerpt from Story Diary.

The next house had eight people living in one small apartment and they were all fighting to talk, to tell me their story. I couldn’t keep up and my head was pounding, spinning. So many voices and translations and stories.

When will this stop? I’m so tired. 

An uncle died. Someone worked for US. Want to see my papers? They killed the child. Neighbor kidnapped. We need help! We have nothing. I realize I must have stopped listening because suddenly someone starts to sing and laugh and then the father rises to dance and the brother and the children join him and then the mother rises and before I know it all the family members are up dancing, doing the traditional Iraqi dance, the Debke and then I am dancing. We are all laughing and singing and dancing. What happened? How am I dancing right now? All I feel is joy and release and happiness. And then I accidentally knock over my teacup. It shatters and I stop dancing, horrified. Everything stops. But then the mother grabs my arm, looks me square in the eyes 

"No! Dance!" 

And so we did.

Full book available via my website or via me personally, $20 if you are interested or free online at

Also, here is an Op-Ed in tomorrows New York Times about the situation in Iraq for refugees, written by my colleague Kirk W. Johnson. It's clear and concise and brutally reminds us how we have abandoned are Iraqi friends.

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