Falling In Love With Cities and Dead Musicians

When I was nineteen, I fell in love with Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And by proxy, I fell in love with Austin – this weird little music-loving burg in the heart of Hill Country. The place Willie has a street named after him.

I’m going to Austin next month for Austin City Limits.

Image by Brooke Weber.

Image by Brooke Weber.

To say I’m excited is an understatement akin to saying the Beyhive can occasionally be a little intense.

I’m going to Austin with two of my favorite people, I’m going to see Outkast and Pearl Jam and Gaslight Anthem and Benjamin Booker and holy fucking shit you guys, I’m going to see The Replacements live.

I’m going to eat ALL the food because Austin is the land of migas and tacos and vegan Frito pies. I’m going to drink Shiner Bock while listening to bluesy boogie rock and I’m going to take a shitload of pictures. I’m gonna be talked out of buying a pair of cowboy boots and talked into taking one more shot (which is always the best/worst idea).

And I’m going to leave a fresh pack of guitar strings at the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial at Lady Bird Lake.

It’s a bit silly, really. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to use them and odds are, they’re going to be stolen like, five minutes later.

(To the dude that’s gonna steal the strings: Play Lenny and if you don’t know any SRV, play a little Willie and if you don’t know any Willie, but the damn strings back)

But, when I was nineteen, I fell in love.

And love isn’t rational.

So, you leave six slinky strings for a man long gone and hope that somewhere amid the chaos and calm of the universe, he knows that you’re grateful for all the love he passed your way and that even though you never knew him, you miss him.

Love in the Time of Adulthood or, Unsubscribing to the Carrie Bradshaw Bullshit

I was 13 when William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet came out and like every 13-year-old girl with pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio plastered all over her walls, this movie became my everything.

I owned a copy on VHS, both soundtracks, posters and every magazine with Claire and Leo on the cover.

It was marketed as, “The greatest love story of all time….for our time,” and when you’re an awkward 13-year-old with glasses and frizzy hair, you buy this.

“This is the most romantic thing ever. They’re soul mates. They love each other. It’s destiny!”

However, when you’re an adult with D&G glasses and access to a flat-iron, you see things a little differently.

It’s less impossibly romantic and more, “Oh my God. You dipshit chowderheads. You’ve known each other for THREE DAYS! Throw a solid month at it before you decide to start fucking about with daggers and poison.”

My concept of love came directly from the movies.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys and don’t let television and movies set the standard of what love is for your highly impressionable teenage daughter.

I thought that in order for it to be real – love needed to be like the movies. I believed the Carrie Bradshaw Bullshit.

What’s the Carrie Bradshaw Bullshit?

Pretty much everything she has ever said but this in particular:

cb

As an impressionable teenager, I understood this completely.

As an adult? Yeah. I’m gonna let my girl Lana Kane sum up my thoughts on this one:

lk

Let’s stop and think about this for a second.

Ridiculous? Really? Monkeys wearing tiny little pants are ridiculous. The price of fresh juice is ridiculous ($11 for a cup of pulverized fruit? Seriously, bro?). The fact that the chairman of the FCC used to be a lobbyist for the cable industry is ridiculous.

Any decent relationship shouldn’t be considered ridiculous. You’re looking for an adjective? Try happy. Try uplifting. Try amazeballs. Try anything but ridiculous.

Inconvenient? Like ATM fees and pop-up windows and when you realize you forgot something at the store and need to jackass all the way back to get it? Like that? This is something that you want to cultivate? OK, knucklehead. Enjoy that.

If a relationship is a pain in the ass and a chore, why are you engaged in it?

Consuming? You know what they used to call tuberculosis? Consumption. Look, there is nothing wrong with being into the person you’re into but I’m good without the symbiosis. You were your own fully-fledged person before your significant other came along and you should hold onto that.

If I wanted a tapeworm, I’d eat a raw slab of ham.

Can’t Live Without Each Other? I assure you, you can. And you will. Because unless the person you’re in a relationship with happens to be your conjoined twin (and that’s just a whole ‘nother kettle of crazy that I’m not going into), odds are – you’re gonna be just fine. You’ll endure. Because that’s what people do.

Despite all this, I like to believe that I’m still a romantic. My perspectives have shifted like the colors in a kaleidoscope and I just happen to be a realist/not a fucking idiot about the whole thing.

Admittedly, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing but I know this much to be true:

1. Be kind. You learned this as a toddler and it’s still applicable today.
2. Knock off the shit. Welcome to the big leagues. You are no longer in high school and here, we use our words. Don’t employ the silent treatment to punish someone. Don’t ignore texts and phone calls. You’re an adult. Talk it out. Be honest. Be generous with compliments, quick with apologies and sincere in both.
3. Make out. Like, a lot. Like, a whole lot.
4. Try. Put in the effort for no other reason than the other person is worth it.
5. Seriously. Goddamn it, babies. You’ve got to be kind.

I was in this restaurant once – eating solo while reading a book. I looked up and saw this middle-aged couple. Nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary – just two people sitting across from one another, holding hands.

Just happy to be there.

Romance is the little things and that’s what I want.

Yeah, you could be with someone who’d die for you…but wouldn’t you rather have someone who’ll live with you?

Shame Shopping Or, What’s Important In A Dress Is The Woman Who’s Wearing It.

I have a shameful confession to make.

Actually, I have multiple shameful confessions to make:

- I really like that Kid Ink/Chris Brown song.
– Sometimes when I get really sad, I’ll shame-eat a Burger King veggie burger and onion rings.
– I can’t remember half the character names on Game of Thrones and refer to them by their attributes (super cute political powerhouse queen regent, creepy bastard fuck who flayed Lily Allen’s brother, Lily Allen’s brother, kid from Love Actually who I love…)

But this shameful confession is far worse (don’t worry, Mom. I didn’t murder anyone or eat pork).

I buy clothes from Forever 21.

I know.
I KNOW.

There are a litany of issues with shopping there. Two of the biggest being their unfair labor practices and the fact that I am 31 and therefore, SO not their target demo (anorexic teenagers with a penchant for text speak and garish prints that look terrible on everyone).

But society insists that I wear clothes, Forever 21 sells cute little frocks for $10 a pop and I am only human.

It’s an unfortunate state of affairs. Especially for the girl who is 100% on board with the No Pants Revolution, but that’s the way it works….for now.

Look, I would love to be the cute girl who rocked Madewell and Kate Spade but here’s the deal – I can’t justify spending $158 on a dress when I could take that $158 and spend it on premium cable, gin and cheap tacos.

Priorities, y’all.

Since actually visiting one of their stores is as much fun as a surprise pap smear, I opt to buy my clothes online.

This is alternately a wonderful and terrible idea.

Wonderful because I don’t have to actually go into the store, battle a gaggle of judgy middle schoolers and have my eardrums assaulted by Iggy Azalea dubstep remixes.

It’s terrible because I don’t actually get the opportunity to try anything on and I just have to trust that the item I’ve chosen will fit.

I recently bought a few things and was understandably excited when my order came in.

Polka dots! Peach teardrop earrings! Sandals that are undeniably uncomfortable but super cute! That stupid thing to make a sock bun with!

I try on two floral print dresses and so far, so good. They fit well and I can totally wear them with my nude heels.

Then, I try on dress #3 and I go from looking like cute girl in a floral print to a monstrous sea cow…in a floral print.

Forever 21 and I disagree on many things and the definition of ‘medium’ is one of them.

So, I head to the store to return the dress and dear God, it is exactly the fresh hell that I envisioned.

Why are you wearing a Wu-Tang shirt? You don’t know the glory of the RZA, the GZA and M-E-T-H-O-D M-A-N.
Dear God, they make Frappuccinos that big now? Who needs all that sugar?
Little girl, does your mother know you left the house wearing that?
Wait, how did you get your sock bun to look so good?

After a solid half hour of furious rifling, I managed to find another dress that didn’t make me look like a pregnant dugong and switched out my purchase but I’m still having Kurtz-ian flashbacks – “The horror….the horror….”

Am I going to stop shopping at Forever 21? Probably not because $10 frocks and the fact I value HBO over clothing BUT I’m definitely going to try to make the attempt to seek out better retailers.

Any and all suggestions would be much appreciated.

Now if you’ll excuse me, one of these goddamn rings turned my finger green and I’ve got to scrub off the evidence…

I’d Paint My Body ‘Til All My Skin Was Gone Or, Wear Your Heart On Your Skin In This Life

sailorjerry

I have wanted a tattoo since I was in high school but never really took the leap and actually got one because:

- Pain. However, the older I get, the more I realize that Westley was right (as he always is because there is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world and true love doesn’t happen every day) – “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

- I’m flighty. Like the flightiest little bird that ever took to the skies. If I’m going to get something indelibly inked onto my flesh, it damn well better mean something instead of just being a flight of fancy.

Over the years, I’ve thought the following would be good tattoos: stars, the nataraja, a number of quotes from The West Wing (including Josh’s line about how President Bartlet’s a good man with a good heart and he doesn’t hold grudges. That’s what he pays Josh for), various words written in various languages that are not English and a Sailor Jerry style swallow.

These are all terrible ideas.

Among my less terrible ideas – the last lines of The Great Gatsby:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

But that’s a whole lotta text for a girl that doesn’t have a whole lotta real estate on her body.

Also, Baz Luhrmann did his level best to ruin Gatsby for me with his stupid plastic zebras and fixation on ALL THE WRONG THINGS (the shitty millennial music video aspects of the story – Pretty people! Money! Champagne! – instead of focusing on how the hope that sustains a man is the same hope that will destroy him. J.R. Jones was so right when he called it, “a ghastly Roaring 20s blowout at a sorority house.”), so my veneration has waned a little.

Among my decent ideas are Bruce and Bukowski.

There’s a lyric from Badlands that I’ve been chasing around my head for years – “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.”

Happiness should be the default setting for humanity but as I grow older, I realize that this is not the case. Happiness is often hard won and the pursuit of it is something that people feel they have to apologize for.

Yeah. That’s bullshit.

Your happiness matters. You should strive towards it and to hell with anyone who begrudges, condemns or demands atonement from you for being glad you’re alive.

It’s tough, though and every now and then – you need reminding of this very simple fact. Every day, you wake up to absolution.

I’m sure there’s at least one cautionary tale about dating someone with a Bukowski line tattooed on their body.

Hell, if I was dating a guy and I found out he had a Bukowski tattoo, I would consider it:

A) a massive car dealership sized red flag. Like dude. No. This is going to end badly. Danger Will Robinson. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
B) ridiculously hot.

What? I am large; I contain multitudes.

For all his piss and vinegar and bile, Bukowski had this sense of hope. He kept it caged like the bluebird in his heart and the booze and the cigarettes and the whores and the broken hearts couldn’t keep it from singing out:

What matters most is how you walk through the fire.
Life is as kind as you let it be.
It has been a beautiful fight. Still is.
We have all this beauty in the world and all we have to do is reach out and touch it.
No one can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving

And of course – Hey baby, when I write – I’m the hero of my shit.

I probably wouldn’t get those last lines inked on me (despite the fact that I am certainly the heroine of my shit) but the rest of his work? Definitely worth deliberation.

I don’t want a tattoo because it’s cool or because a majority of my friends have one (those days have long passed me by). I want one because it would be a conscious decision I made regarding the state of who I am.

I’ve got scars I never requested. Tiny marks from wounds that never healed properly I never sought out. Freckles that have bloomed all over my neck and decolletage, giving me the appearance of an Everything Bagel. Even my pierced ears were a decision made for me as a child, but a tattoo?

That’s an alteration I have full control over. A permanent addition to a body that has served me well for the past 30+ years. A body that has survived hell and heartbreak and sickness and scrapes. A body that I don’t always love (as evidenced by my penchant to yelp out, “Oh, what in the unholy fuck is that all about?” while looking in the mirror) but manages to surprise me more often than not (yoga has made me realize how alternately strong and weak I am).

A body that is completely mine.

And what better way to honor it than by adorning it with something I love?

Don’t Panic Or, Teddy Roosevelt Was Right

​M​y 31st birthday is less than a week away and when I realized this, I freaked out.

Actually, no. To say I freaked out is stretching the truth to the point of breaking it.

I went full Muppet.

kermit

You never go full Muppet.

And in between the panicked screaming, my inner monologue kicked in:

Dude. You have no idea what you’re doing, you know that right? Oh and everyone else knows it too

You know what everyone else’s lives look like? Anthropologie spreads. They’ve formed their lives on the bedrock of financial stability, they’ve got super cute and precocious kids and they are so stupid in love that they make McAdams and Gosling from The Notebook look like DiCaprio and Winslet from Revolutionary Road.

They never eat popcorn for dinner and they stay skinny no matter what they eat but they also order steamed vegetables as a side instead of saying things like, “Yeah. I want to shovel as many cheese fries in my face as you’re legally allowed to serve me.”

They can do crow pose without crashing on their faces, their nails are always manicured and they all know how to do that stupid sock bun thing. And tie it up with a bow.

Regina George ain’t got shit on my inner monologue.

​Then I stopped, I took a deep breath and I ran Regina George over with a damn bus. ​

reginageorge

Dudes. My life is awesome.

I live in paradise where the average yearly temperature is 75 ​degrees. ​​ I am rocking the hell out of pigeon pose in yoga, I love where I work, I talk to my best friends every single day, there’s a solid chance I might be going to Austin City Limits this year, I’m definitely seeing Lionel Richie, Cee-Lo and The Bangles live, I’m never more than 24 hours and a phone call away from fancy gin cocktails or amazing tacos and I get to hang out with cute boys and their cuter dogs.

​Oh and when I eat popcorn for dinner? It’s fancy as fuck because I top it with chili powder, cumin, salt and fresh lime zest. ​

​I could focus on all the things I don’t have or all the things I should have but Roosevelt was right – comparison is the thief of joy and when I’ve got so much great stuff in my life, how could I possibly not be ecstatically joyful for every damn minute of it?

So, here’s to 31. Here’s to appreciating the good, living a life beyond compare and being happy, wild and free like all good things.

And gin. Because God, what are we – savages?

Sometimes You Just Have To Put On Lip Gloss and Pretend To Be Psyched Or, Mindy Kaling is My Spirit Animal

I was never a Carrie.

Nor was I ever a Miranda, a Samantha, a Rachel, a Monica, a Summer, a Cordy, a Sookie, a Veronica or even a Liz Lemon (although I can relate to night cheese).

The women on television were merely that – women on television.

Growing up, I didn’t have on-screen role models.

If I wanted to see a dusky, doe-eyed dame, I had to resort to Bollywood…and I’m the girl least likely to twirl around on a mountaintop with some swarthy young suitor, coyly waiting for a kiss to be blown in my general direction.

Despite the fact that I grew up in a town where everyone looked like me, the people on the telly were mostly white, sometimes black and all my little dollies had blonde hair because they didn’t make Cabbage Patch Kids with tawny skin and dark brown eyes.

And this was the norm.

Twenty years later, The Office introduced Kelly Kapoor.

Initially a throwaway role intended to highlight Michael Scott’s racism, Kelly Kapoor grew into a much larger character and is responsible for some of the show’s funniest moments (watch any interaction between Kelly and Ryan).

And for the first time, there was a character on network television like me.

I’m not even talking about the implications of someone who looks like me (although, that is huge because fucking finally, right?) but at long last here was an Indian character who didn’t have a thick accent nor an advanced degree in engineering. An Indian character who wasn’t a spelling bee winner or a mathlete (no disrespect to math enthusiast/bad-ass MC Kevin Gnapoor). An Indian character who didn’t drive a cab or work at a 7/11.

There was an Indian character like me – someone who likes pink (the color), Pink (the singer) and basically anything that’s awesome. A smart girl who wasn’t a nebbish social misfit. Someone whose middle name was her father’s name and she hates it! She hates it!

The Office ended and Mindy Kaling went on to create, write and star in The Mindy Project – a sitcom where she plays a doctor, briefly dates Timothy Olyphant and names her bad-ass alter-ego, Beyonce Pad Thai.

Sista did it for herself.

And now, not only is there someone like me on television, but there’s someone in the public eye who is like me.

A curvy Indian woman who likes to play dress-up. .

An Indian female writer (who named her character ‘Mindy Lahiri’ after one of my favorite writers, Jhumpa Lahiri) who can opine about both Modern American literature and how the series would have been different had Neville Longbottom been The Chosen One.

Someone who consumes pop culture like popcorn and has probably had popcorn and wine for dinner more times than she can count.

Someone who fangirls the fuck out over a pair of glittery Jimmy Choos and the ridiculous jewelry at Forever 21 that turns your fingers green.

Mindy Kaling is totally the girl I’d most like to get dosas and gin cocktails with. Because Indian food is fucking delicious and I’m sure that both of our mothers probably made way better sambar.

Mindy Kaling is my long-awaited role model. Mindy Kaling is my homegirl. Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.

And this isn’t just because she likes the same shit I do or because I can relate to being a curvy brown girl.

Mindy Kaling is my role model because she did it.

She grew up in the same era as me and instead of resigning herself to the fact that people like her aren’t represented in the media, she basically said, “Fuck that noise” and wrote her own damn fairytale.

And because of her – I’m not a Carrie or a Charlotte or some sniveling whiny little cry Buffy.

I’m a Mindy.

mkal

And that is fucking awesome.

So, This Happened…

This week was kinda all over the place.

I got some bad news, got some more bad news and spent several hours just being quiet, sad and introspective.

BUT, a lot of good things happened too and since 2014 is the year we aspire towards happiness, we’re gonna focus on them:

- Piglet races. How did I go thirty years without experiencing this glory? Cute little piggies dash towards victory and little nibble bits of Oreos. It’s the cutest thing in the world and the fact that I didn’t steal one, bring him home and rename him Harry Trotter? Nothing short of a miracle.

- I hung out with rad people and discovered that little girls who eat ribs and rock Hello Kitty are even more awesome than they sound.

- I know that everyone’s all about bowing down to Queen Bey, but hand to God – I just don’t get it. She’s fine. She’s got a killer body. Her Superbowl halftime show was perfectly serviceable, Crazy in Love is totally my jam and I am all about the Carters because THIS:

blueivy

But Queen? Really? Yeah, no.

D and I had a pretty epic conversation about that this week and basically decided that if there’s gotta be a queen, it’s gonna be Diana Ross.

She’s all big hair, big eyelashes and badassery and Bey? Watch the Throne but don’t take a seat because that space is occupado. Seriously. Listen to anything Miss Ross did – solo or with The Supremes – and then, come at me.

Also, Prince is King (because obviously), the Right Reverend Al Green has been elevated to Archbishop, Aretha is High Priestess and Janet is a straight up Warrior Goddess because seriously bro, what HAVE you done for me lately?

- This Week I Ate: Cupcakes for Paps’ Birthday (edible glitter, y’all), vegetarian pho with a super flavorful broth (which is a total rarity), a ridic amount of Mom’s lemon pickle, a deep-fried buckeye (a glob of chocolate-covered peanut butter about the size of a child’s fist, covered in batter and deep-fried), a piece of toffee enshrined in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt (pretty sure I now know what crack feels like) and a garbage-ass coconut cream pie Larabar that tasted like lies.

- Holy Shit, I Love: Shimmery gold nail polish, the Lana Del Rey cover of Once Upon A Dream from Maleficent, pretty much any conversation between Raylan and Boyd, Bonkers Awesome with Joy the Baker and Mindy Kaling’s Instagram because cute shoes, cuter puppies and consistently fucking fabulous eye-makeup.