Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Since I've been gone...

I fell off the grid.

I thought it would be fitting to come back here this afternoon, seven days after my blog's five year anniversary.

You see, back in November, my life kind of turned upside down. I was already incredibly unhappy at the time. My depression has snowballed over the past few years. I stopped being interested in things that interest me. I had no desire to write anymore. To read books from my favorite authors. To even hang out with friends very much. Nothing inspired me.

Then, I found out by accident that I'm pregnant.

I was covering a city council meeting and right when the big issue came up, which was supposed to be my big story, I ran to the bathroom and threw up for more than an hour. I thought I was dying.

My dad took me to the hospital. We found out that I wasn't dying, but in fact doing the opposite by creating life.

Since Rian still has another semester of graduate school left and he's living on campus two hours away, I gave up my apartment and moved back in with my parents so I could use my measly freelance journalist paycheck to pay off my debt and save up for my inevitable medical expenses.

It has been a huge shock and it took me several months to come to terms with my situation. I found out a little while ago that I'm having a boy. I'm due in late June or early July.

Well, now that the shock has worn off and the distraction is no longer a novelty, I'm back to facing my pre-pregnancy demons.

I need inspiration. I long for creativity. I wish I could regain that passion I used to have for, well, anything.

But instead, I go through the motions of everyday life. I do my job. I watch television. I spend most of my time staring into space, not really thinking about anything until I realize half the day is gone.

Exciting, eh?

What do you do when you need to get out of a slump? When you seek creative inspiration? When you want to jumpstart your ambitions?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Choose Your Own Chick-Lit Adventure!

Have you ever wanted to write your very own chick lit novel? Have you ever dreamed of being the next Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Weiner? Well, guess what. You can be! Your hand-crafted chick lit novel is only one simple little recipe away.
I've provided all the main ingredients. The rest is up to you! Have fun!

What is your heroine's name?

A. Emma

B. Jane

C. Elizabeth

D. Sophie

Where does she live?

A. London

B. New York City

C. Los Angeles

D. Toronto

What is her job?

A. Journalist

B. Publicist

C. Fashion Blogger

D. Casting Agent

Who is her sidekick?

A. Fabulous gay bestie! (he's a hair stylist)

B. Straight male best friend (your heroine has known him her entire life, but would NEVER fall in love with him...or would she?)

C. Chubby female best friend who is married with two young children (she envies your "glamorous" single life!)

D. Thin, sarcastic dark-haired best friend who is an attorney and dresses in all black (she's cynical of men and never wants children)

What is your heroine's main goal?

A. Fall in love

B. Get promoted

C. Be famous

D. Lose 20 pounds

Who is your heroine's enemy?

A. Her perfect, gorgeous engaged little sister (that spoiled brat!)

B. Her overbearing mother ("When are you going to get married? You're nearly 30!")

C. That tall ice-cold blonde bitch co-worker (she wants your job...and your man)

D. The ex-boyfriend (he cheated and now he wants a second chance? Yeah, right)

Who is your heroine's love interest?

A. Her hunky boss (he's sophisticated, charming, and filthy rich)

B. Her straight male best friend (she's adorably oblivious that he's her soul mate)

C. That annoying businessman who spilled coffee on her at Starbucks and now appears everywhere (she despises him and refuses to acknowledge that she's attracted to him)

D. That casually cute Jeep-driving vegan with moppy brown hair (he's secretly wealthy!)

What is your conflict?

A. Your heroine tells a little fib that snowballs into a hilarious avalanche of disasters!

B. It's a case of mistaken identity and your heroine doesn't realize it until its too late.

C. She's chasing after true love, without realizing it's right under her nose.

D. Fish out of water scenario! Your heroine is shipped off to a foreign country (or a different time period) and she has no idea what to do! Poor girl.

What is your book's ending?

A. She falls in love

B. She falls in love and gets promoted

C. She falls in love and gets married

D. She falls in love and gets pregnant (oooh, sequel alert!)

What is the title of your book?

A. Confessions of a Thirty-Something

B. A Chocoholic's Guide to Dating & Other Disasters

C. Must Love Martinis

D. Tripping in Heels

Now, tell me about your book!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

That One Word

He was the most physically perfect human I had ever seen in real life.

Yellow blonde hair. Baby blue eyes. A chiseled face that couldn't have turned out more beautiful had it been crafted by a meticulous sculptor.

But he was filled with hate.

In middle school, that hate was directed at me.

You see, Jake was the most popular boy in school. He was at the very top of the food chain. Even his cool friends didn't seem as cool as him. None of them, not even the beautiful cheerleaders, could match him in the looks department.

It was my first day of eighth grade. I had just transferred from another school. Because of our last names, Jake had to sit next to me in homeroom. He took one look at me and sneered, "I have to sit next to the squaw, great."

I was so stunned and mortified, I didn't even correct him that I wasn't Native American.

Jake seemed so repulsed by the mere presence of my face that he couldn't help his outbursts every time he saw me, whether it was in class or in the hallways.

I had dandruff. My long brown hair was ratty. I was weird. Shut up, what you are looking at squaw?

All his words.

Of course, I wasn't the only victim.

Other kids were disgusting for being "fat." Another girl had "Muppet lips." The boy sitting behind us in homeroom "smelled" because he was "poor."

Out of all his insults, the one that had the greatest and most long-lasting impression on me was when he glared in disgust at my face during homeroom one day and called me "ugly."

It broke my heart.

Nobody had ever called me that to my face before. It confirmed my biggest fear, the one gnawing at the back of my mind since elementary school. I was ugly.

It's amazing how one insult, no matter how untrue, becomes your truth. Your shrunken confidence allows it to scar you, to brand you.

A billion people afterwards could tell you you're the most beautiful woman in the world, but you'll never believe them. Because when you were 13, the most popular boy in school called you ugly. And you believed him first.

A year later, in high school, Jake and I didn't have any classes together and he eventually moved on to mocking the physically and mentally handicapped kids. When he passed me in the hallways, he pretty much forgot I even existed. I was relieved.

My dad's job was transferred to another state and I moved away at 16, never to see Jake again.

But I still see Jake's face and hear his words when I want to forget them. I don't believe people when they say I'm attractive. Instead, I see Jake telling me otherwise. Even now, in my late 20s.

I don't know what angers me more: the words themselves or that I allowed those words to destroy me.

I was visiting a childhood friend at the hospital a couple days ago. She had her appendix removed.

I was sitting by her bedside, reminiscing about people we used to know in middle school, when she suddenly exclaimed, "do you know about Jake?"

I looked up, startled.

"Know what?" I asked.

She pulled out her iPhone and showed me Jake's Facebook profile. I had never seen it before because, obviously, I would never friend request him.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Jake is gay.

Not just gay, but he's an entire fruit salad.

Photos revealed him kissing a haughty looking male model next to a Fashion Week runway, drinking a pink cocktail on a sandy beach, and straddling a pole at a gay bar. His interests include "poodles," "fashion," and "cuddling." A status revealed he's "here and queer and you bitches better get used to it." He lives in New York City and he works for Google.

During high school, Jake always dated the cheerleaders. It never occurred to me that he really wanted the football players.

Seeing the de-closeted Jake in front of me, on that little screen, didn't change my opinion of him. That look, that mean streak, that blinding arrogance, remains in his icy blue eyes. He might be gay, but he's still Jake.

He's still the boy who ripped my heart out and left it bleeding in my hands with one little insult.

And I still haven't put it back.

I hope one day I do.

Because I want to believe I'm beautiful.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I've been exposed.

Several months ago, a blog friend of mine accidentally posted a link to his lingerie blog to his personal Facebook page.

It freaked him out so much, he deleted his entire blog. This was a good blog too. An encyclopedia of lingerie, I used to joke to him. It was one of the most impressive fashion blogs I knew. Several years had been put into it.

My friend had good reason to freak the fuck out. He was an alpha male with an explosive secret. If I remember correctly, only his wife knew about his guilty pleasure: wearing pantyhose underneath his jeans. His friends, his family, and his coworkers finding out about it? That would have ruined his life. I felt bad for him. While I was deeply saddened he was leaving the blogosphere, I understood he really didn't have a choice.

There's nothing like a cold splash of water in your face to wake you up.

Recently, I discovered that somebody I didn't want to find out about my blog found out about it.

Of course, my situation isn't as worrisome as my friend's. In fact, I really don't have a big secret to hide at all.

But my privacy has been compromised. A large group of people I didn't want to know my inner most thoughts now know this blog exists. My soul is exposed.

I have always been comfortable writing about my life on this blog. It's kind of like getting to be naked in public and not worrying about it. That feeling is incredible. It's freedom.

But now that feeling has been snuffed out. My privacy has been violated.

I suppose it's my fault. I started this blog anonymously, but with photos and stories and whatnot, it eventually got more personal. I kept that distance from any identification, however. But I grew careless. I linked it somewhere I really shouldn't have. Silly me.

It's the same mentality that has kept me from completing my memoir. Some of my stories are so intensely personal, so morbidly raw, that I can't bring myself to write them down next to my name. So I leave the book unfinished, sitting immobile in a folder on my laptop. I'm not ready to have everyone in my life exposed to everything in my life.

So, what do I do now? I thought seriously about deleting this blog. But that would be pointless. They've probably already read everything. And why should I delete something I'm proud of?

I've thought about abandoning this blog. My readership has dwindled significantly. I'm not passionate about doing biographies anymore. I already spend a lot of hours working on stories for a newspaper and getting paid shit for it. The thought of putting even more hours into a doomed starlet post, and not get paid anything for it, makes me want to vomit.

But a part of me is so attached to this blog. It's like my child. How can I give it up? I just can't. It makes me so sad to even think about it. Even if it has become a ghost town. Even if I don't post here very often anymore.

I really shouldn't let this group of people, who now know this blog exists, win. I mean, I need to stop giving a fuck what everyone in my life thinks about me. I need to have courage.

Because this is ME.

I shouldn't be ashamed of being human. Of having feelings and experiences and thoughts that aren't pure, perfect.

I'm a romantic. I'm a bitch. I'm a storyteller. I'm hurt. I'm exhausted.

But more importantly,

I'm hope.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Pretty Girl Complex

You know a girl like Sara.

A pretty face without much substance.

She's not very smart. She's not very witty. She's not very original.

Sara lacks that special core, that uniqueness. Her personality is based solely on how people react to her outer beauty.

Growing up, she didn't take time to nourish her soul. She didn't read books. She didn't treat people nicely. Everyone kept saying she was beautiful, so she knew that was her power. That's what made her special. That's what made her better than everyone else.

Boldly placing yourself on top of a superficial pedestal is easy when you think everyone else is beneath you. Beauty trumps brains. It trumps money. It trumps creativity.

Sara craves people worshipping her. She only feels human when men are fawning over her. She only feels worthwhile when other women are jealous.

While most people have hobbies, Sara spends a lot of time staring in the mirror, putting on makeup or just admiring herself.

Guys are obsessed with her. It makes their day when she flirts with them. They tell their girlfriend "she's not my type" but secretly wish Sara was in her place. They would ditch their girl in a second if Sara batted her curled Maybelline eyelashes in distress. It would make their dick feel bigger to have such a stunning girl on their arm. A girl who looks like she stepped out of a movie.

While Sara is flaunting her youthful, trendy beauty, other girls her age feel invisible.

They don't realize they're attractive too, but in a more fascinating way. They're most beautiful when you take the time to study every crevice of their face. Those oddities in their features, the kind that might seem imperfect next to Sara, are what make them perfect. These girls have bumps on their noses. Freckles on their cheeks. Gaps between their teeth. Dark, creamy skin. Their beauty is so poetic, it's mesmerizing.

But immature guys don't pay attention to real beauty. They're programmed to want the obvious, whether its Heidi Klum or Megan Fox.

And while most girls hate Sara, they don't realize how much it would suck to be her.

Guys don't chase after Sara because she's interesting. They chase after her because she won the gene pool lottery. They don't want to learn everything about her. They just want to fuck her.

Eventually, Sara will no longer be able to triumph over the other girls.

Even her beauty won't hold a candle to reality.

Men might be attracted to shiny objects, but they get bored with them quickly. Real men want a partner who can stimulate them physically, mentally, and emotionally. They want someone with fiery passion. They want someone who can make intelligent conversation. They want someone who can make them laugh. They want someone who shares the same interests. They want someone who isn't bloated with arrogance. They want a lover who is their other half.

A best friend and a soul mate, wrapped up in one.

It might take a while for them to figure it out, but they eventually do.

And that's why it sucks to be Sara.

She never wins in the end.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oh, Frankie!

When I was in middle school I had virtually no self-esteem.

Of course, I wasn't alone. But when you're 13, it feels like it.

I had been a really cute kid. But then things drastically changed. My teeth grew in severely crooked, thanks to a gum surgery (a benign tumor was removed). My front teeth grew in sideways. When I opened my mouth I looked like a freak. I stopped smiling when I was nine.

I hadn't grown into my nose yet. It was wide and had a hump and not at all like the dainty little upturned noses my blonde peers flaunted.

My hair was long, stringy, and frizzy. The humid south Florida weather promised I would never see a good hair day, no matter how many products my mom gave me.

I was pretty damn miserable.

I had crushes on boys, but they were pretty cruel to me when they found out. One popular boy even shouted "woof!" when he discovered I had the hots for him. If that doesn't shatter a sixth-grader's self-image, I don't know what does.

I suppose you could say being an awkward, unattractive pre-teen developed my character. I became extremely sarcastic. I didn't have many friends. I holed myself away at home, spending weekends writing humorous stories and fake magazine articles on the computer, instead of going to the mall with other girls my age. The Jennifer you know today was founded on that time period.

But I desperately wanted a boy to like me. I didn't even want a boyfriend. I just wanted a boy to LIKE ME. I wanted to feel pretty. I wanted to feel like I wasn't the biggest loser on the planet.

On the first day of seventh grade, that changed.

Frank, the new kid, sat next to me in algebra class. He was cute, in a non-threatening sort of way. He didn't use hair products and he didn't dress like a douchebag. He wore flannel. He had a strange accent. He had kind eyes.

I cracked a joke in class, and while my other classmates stared at me blankly, Frank laughed. Not at me, but at my joke! I couldn't believe it! It was a miracle!

Later that day in the cafeteria, my friends and I looked up to see Frank holding his lunch tray, hovering over us.

"Can I sit here?" he asked.

I nearly knocked my milk over the table, I was so eager to make room for him.

"Everyone here seems really superficial," he said, narrowing his eyes at a group of popular girls applying makeup at the next table. "I'm from New Jersey. I'm not used to palm trees and all these fancy houses."

After the girls I was sitting with went to hang out in the sunny quad, Frank and I talked. He was so easy to talk to, which surprised me. Other than my cousins, I didn't have much experience talking to boys my own age.

We became fast friends. He ate lunch with me every day. He laughed at all my jokes. He talked a lot about New Jersey. He was clearly very homesick. I didn't mind though because I didn't know much about the east coast. I found it all very interesting. I couldn't imagine not going to Disney World every weekend. I couldn't imagine a beach without palm trees. It all seemed very odd and exciting. Industrial and cool.

We started hanging out after school. I even went to a school dance with him, as friends, and taught him the Macarena. I couldn't believe Frank had never done it before! It was like hanging out with a Martian! Even President Clinton knew the Macarena!

And of course, from the moment we became best friends I knew I was madly in love with him. I had never been treated so nicely before by a boy who wasn't a relative. He made me feel so special.

Suddenly, my life changed.

My parents took me to Bennigan's for dinner during a weeknight. I should have known something was up because we only went there for special occasions and never during the week. I was halfway through my delicious hot wings when my parents dropped the bombshell.

We were moving to Nebraska.

Haha wait, what?

My dad had been offered a much better job up there in Omaha. One he simply couldn't turn down.

I was devastated.

I awkwardly parted ways with my friends. Saying goodbye to Frankie was the hardest. He promised me he would write.
And guess what. He did.

For a month, we wrote each other once a week. Neither one of us had e-mail back then. It was all snail mail, which, looking back on it, made his correspondence even more impressive.

But I was miserable in Omaha. I thought about Frankie all the time. I slept with his letters underneath my pillow. It was torture knowing he was there and I was here. That I was in love with him and he didn't know.

So, I decided I needed to tell him how I felt.

I recorded myself singing "Don't Let Go" by En Vogue onto a cassette tape and I mailed it to him.

It seemed like a really good idea at the time. It seemed so rational!

I didn't take into account that my singing voice sounds like a dying cat. I didn't realize that my wailing "there's gonna be some LOVE-MAKIN', HEART-BREAKIN', SOUL-SHAKIN' loooOoooOoove" was severely inappropriate.

After I mailed him the tape, I never heard from him again.

I was crushed.

At the time, I couldn't figure out why. Didn't he like me back? Wasn't my message obvious? Did he not like R&B?

I was flummoxed.

Of course, looking back now, I realize that I pretty much made the worst decision in the history of the world. And I laugh hysterically thinking about it.

Oh, man. Poor Frankie. I wish I could have seen his reaction when he hit play. I must have scared the shit outta that poor boy.

I wonder if he still has the tape.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Miss America (behind the backlash)

Yesterday, history was made in my country.

The first woman of Indian descent was crowned Miss America.

As an American who also has Indian blood, I was incredibly proud. But that taste of victory was short-lived. From the moment Nina Davuluri was named the winner, articles started to appear all over the Internet revealing racist tweets against the 24-year-old.

There was no time to smile. No time to feel pride. Nope. It was here's the crown, and then a barrage of hate.

What really pisses me off is that these racist tweets only represent a tiny, pathetic little fraction of the United States (.005 % of the population) but when you put all those tweets together, they seem like the entire country is on a full-blown rampage against brown people. Because the media magnifies it and blows it entirely out of proportion.

What a lot of people don't realize is these articles are meant to shock other Americans by saying "Look! There are still people in this country who are jaw-droppingly ignorant!". That's all.

But, unfortunately, now the entire world is horrified of people in the United States. They don't understand that these tweets represent a tiny percentage of uneducated Americans.

I think it is very important that people all over the world understand that most of these racist people on Twitter do not really hate Indians in particular. It's a general racism which stems from something much more abstract and complex. These people are uneducated. They were raised in a hateful environment. These are people who can't afford to go to college. They are not book smart. They couldn't point out France on a map. And seeing more and more brown people come here and do incredibly well (i.e. become doctors living in huge houses) makes them bitter.

These racist people were not raised to do well in science and math. They were not encouraged to do well in school. The only jobs they could find were menial work (like tele-marketing) and then those jobs got shipped over to India.

Oh, and then the 9/11 terror attacks happened. Brown people all look the same to these racist people. They don't know the difference between Iraq and India. A brown person with a funny name is an Arab to them. A Hindu is a Muslim. Even with the world at their fingertips, they don't bother to educate themselves about these things online because they DON'T CARE. They just want to hate.

What is more ironic is that the way the majority of Americans view these hate-spewing rednecks is the same exact way the majority of Muslims view the terrorists. They're disgusted, horrified, and angry. But, the rest of the world clumps them all together anyway.

Please don't clump all Americans together. These tweets do not reveal reality. They reveal circumstantial stupidity.

What breaks my heart is that these few people who tweeted racist remarks are stealing the spotlight away from the winner.

Our Miss America plans on being a doctor. Did you know that? Probably not.

There are millions of little girls out there, of Indian descent, who watched television last night, mesmerized by a dream coming true. Proud of where their parents and grandparents came from. Excited for the future because another Indian-American girl proved right there on camera that anything is possible.

You can be Miss America. You can be beautiful. You can be a doctor.

That's the real story.