When my friend asked if I’d go with her to the Treasure Island Music Festival, I surprised myself when I said, “Yes.” After my one and only experience at the Coachella Music Festival a few years ago, I all but swore off large-scale music festivals. Between the heat, the parades of douchery, the posers (people who literally seem as though they are just there to pose), the flower headbands, the Native headdresses on non-Natives, the spilled beer, sloppy drunken fools, the long lines to get just about anything and my general dislike of unruly crowds, I must have temporarily lost my memory to agree to this. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my friend’s face lit up as she gushed about how much she loves André 3000 of Outkast, one of the headliners of the two-day concert.
“If you having a good time, I want you to say, ‘Hell yeah, niggaaaaaaaaaa!”
“Hell yeah, niggaaaaaaaaaa!” the crowd screamed back at Lil Wayne.
I scanned the stadium of concert goers: a sea of young, white and light faces surrounded me, bopping their heads to the beat, hip-hop hands swaying in the air, phone cameras recording and repeating at Lil Wayne’s command,
Helllllll yeah, niggaaaaaaaaa!!
I looked over at my friend, who, like me, hadn’t joined the crowd.
This is the third year that Jimmy Kimmel encouraged parents to torment their unsuspecting, innocent, cherub-faced children by pretending the parents ate all the kids’ Halloween candy. These candy-nappers film the interaction as they break the news to their presumed beloved spawn, and we, as adults, are expected to laugh at the pain these helpless tykes feel at the sudden, shocking and unexpected loss of their sugar prizes. “That’s not a very kind thing to doooooo,” one sweet boy wailed at his candy-napping parent.
I marathoned season one of The Mindy Project during the summer television drought. I developed a girl crush on the lead character, Mindy Lahiri, almost immediately. She’s me. She’s my friends! Mindy’s an educated, single, professional woman in her early 30s, living in Boston. She’s a relatable blend of endearingly awkward, at times second-hand-cringe-inducingly awkward, feisty, ready to go head-to head with the funniest of dudes in a battle of quips, unabashed lover of pop culture, with a fabulous style exhibited by her flyass enviable wardrobe. And she’s brown! She’s a brown girl on TV, Indian-American to be more specific, and her brownness is not the focus of her character’s life. She gets to be “normal.”
Earlier this year I was lounging at Starbuck’s with my friend V, who is Chinese-American. A friend of hers, also Chinese-American, was getting married to a half-white/half Japanese-American man.
She told me, with some sheepishness, “You’re going to kill me, but I bought a card for ___ and ____ with white people on it.”
“Why would I kill you? It’s not like I’m some militant “black power” chick. ‘You must only buy cards with people of color on them!'”
She chuckled and nodded.
“But, let me ask you this,” I continued, “would you give one of your white friends a wedding card with a happy Asian couple depicted?”
“I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.”
– Jay-Z, “Tom Ford“, 2013
If you listen to hip-hop these days, you’ve no doubt heard all the references to molly (basically ecstasy): “I Can’t Seem to Find Molly“, “Popped a molly, I’m sweatin‘” or maybe you’re even listening to Miley “cultural appropriation” Cyrus’ latest song. She sings about poppin’ mollies in “We Can’t Stop“. [She told producers she wanted “something that sounds black.” Girl, get your life! I give major side-eye to people who reduce blackness to the sliver of sub-culture of which they are aware. You need to diversify your black exposure. 13 million black Americans aren’t all the same. It’s like if Rihanna said she wants a “white” sound for her next album and had bagpipers all up in her video. Have a seat with your pancake booty that has no business twerking.]
2008 was a difficult year for me. I was recovering from the dissolution of a long-term relationship. By the start of 2009, I was over the weeping and moaning; the woe is me, I’ll never love again; my heart has been ripped out of my chest mercilessly; men are vessels of evil; why God, why?; please can I be a lesbian? and more overly dramatic exclamations of post-breakup-life and ready to rejoin the world of the living. My friend Heidi had expatriated to London from Orange County a few years prior and kept encouraging me to visit her. I figured it was just what I needed. Since I was heading to Europe, I reasoned I should visit as many countries as I could while there. Within a 10-day span I planned to visit England, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
I have this knack for seeing famous people in cities outside of Los Angeles. I don’t remember the last real famous person I’ve seen in Los Angeles, but if I fly somewhere else, given my track record, I’m likely to see someone of note.
About 4 years ago, I was in Houston visiting the fam. My younger – too fly for her own good – sister, N, suggested we breakfast (yep, I used it as a verb) at a cozy, vibrantly decorated, restaurant called The Breakfast Klub, known for their chicken and waffles. It’s owned by a Kappa (as in Kappa Alpha Psi: black frat; famous for cane stepping; if you don’t know, now you know), so everything that would normally be spelled with a “C” is spelled with a “K”, like the “katfish and grits” dish. Kute.
I’ve been thinking about my weight since I was 13.
One day I ate everything I wanted with abandon and the next, the size of my thighs were cause for angst.
Thirteen is about when I started working out. My mom had a catalog of Jane Fonda videos from the 80s and I was Jane Fonda’s devoted follower. She looked hot in spandex and my thighs did not. Jane still looks hot today. It’s unreal. I also became a devotee of Joyce Vedral and her fat-burning workout. I thank her to this day for my interest in being fit and toned.
I’ve been known to get a little intense about my interests. My poor parents. As a teen, upon being presented with “soaked in the deep fryer” chicken for dinner, I exclaimed with dramatic horror:
I used to love getting mail. Remember back when the internet only existed in secrecy and you had to physically write letters to people? In junior high I had a French penpal. We’d write back and forth practicing our kindergarten-level language skills. My letters to her probably translated to something like:
“Hello, my French friend. How are you? I am teenager. It’s not fun as think. Have zits. How say zits in French? Zeut alors! Do go to discotechques? You are amiable. Texas hot. Thanks. Write back now.”