Joumana Haddad, born in Beirut in 1970, is a writer and journalist. She is the cultural editor of An-Nahar newspaper, and teaches Italian at the Lebanese American University. In December 2008, Haddad founded “Jasad” (body in Arabic), the first erotic magazine in the Arab world. In 2010, Haddad, currently living in Beirut with her two sons, published “I Killed Scheherazade” which discussed women’s position in the Arab world. Her new book, “Superman is an Arab,” which looks at masculinity in the region, is out now.
Q: Describe a typical day.
A: There is no such thing in my life. I hate routine. Every day is different. No road maps.
Q: What was the last thing you bought?
A: A Nespresso machine for my new house. I expected George Clooney to pop out of the box. I guess I’ve been duped.
Q: Who was the last person you spoke to?
A: My son Ounsi: “I love you.”
Q: Describe Lebanon in five words.
A: Lost. Duplicitous. Exasperating. Challenging. Motivating.
Q: If you could change one thing about Lebanon, what would it be?
A: I’d make its status law secular.
Q: What’s your earliest memory?
A: Spitting milk in my dad’s face after he forced me to drink the bottle when I was not hungry.
Q: What did you want to be as a child?
A: An astronaut.
Q: Were you a good student?
A: Excellent and over competitive. A disease I caught from my parents. Deadly yet useful. Keeps you from surrendering or over indulging yourself.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
A: Repeat the same mistakes. They made you.
Q: What is the most valuable thing your parents or grandparents taught you?
A: The love of books.
Q: How do you think people describe you?
A: Depends on the people: Bold to some, insolent to others. Frank or crude. Liberated or decadent. Pioneer or aggressive.
Q: If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
A: On a secluded beach in Cartagena. Enjoying the vacation I haven’t had in five years.
Q: What’s the best item of clothing you’ve ever owned?
A: A red dress that my mom sewed for me when I was 2. It is still in my closet.
Q: Do you read your star sign?
A: Sometimes. I admit I like mine (Sagittarius).
Q: What’s your favorite word?
A: Freedom. It is tattooed in Arabic on my forearm.
Q: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
A: Being who I am.
Q: If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be?
A: A Harley mechanic.
Q: Which historical figure would you choose to go for coffee with?
A: Hypatia of Alexandria.
Q: How do you sleep?
A: Early. I am always eager to meet my other selves in my dreams.
Q: How often do you laugh?
A: A lot. Mostly at myself. I’m my own favorite – and never-ending – joke.
Q: What’s your party trick?
A: To avoid parties.
Q: Skiing or swimming?
A: Swimming ... Can’t live without the sea.
Q: What do you look forward to?
A: The unknown that life will throw at me.
Q: Happiness is ...
A: Loving and being loved. By the same person. Or else it’s down right misery.