Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pride and Prejudice - Indian Style

Reena was having one of her usual tantrums. Hanging out with her was a chore in a lot of ways, but especially when she got into it with her parents. Ever since we were toddlers, I had witnessed countless shouting matches that seemed to spring up out of the most minor disagreements. Now, instead of terrible 2s, she was displaying the terrible 12s for all to see at this Toledo A&W. While I could certainly dish out some first-rate brattiness to my parents, I was no match for Reena.

"Reenaaaaaahhh... just ask them to switch it, bheta," her dad said with a look of concern.

"NO-WUHHH!" she exhaled as she rolled her eyes. 

"Okay, I'll do it..." he grabbed the hamburger that wasn't a cheeseburger and stood up.

"No! Dad!! Don't!"

"But you need to eat, Reena! We have another couple hours until we get to Cedar Point and I don't want to stop again!" he made his way toward the counter and waited behind a family staring at the menu. 

"Ughhhh, sooooo embarrassing!" Reena moaned as she buried her face in her hands. 

"What's embarrassing?" I asked.

She looked at me with an expression that suggested I was a crazy idiot for not already knowing. I stared back at her with an expression that suggested she was annoying the shit out of me. Reena and I were "forced friends" since our fathers had practically grown up together back in India. That bond led them on similar paths in finance, coming to America and settling down in metro Detroit.

"Are... are you embarrassed of your dad or something?"

"NO!" she snapped, "I just don't want him talking to them... ya know, with his accent..." 

"Seriously?"

"Uh... YEAH, it's so embarrassing!"

I looked down at the pathetic side salad in front of me not knowing what to say. I had decided to become a vegetarian a few months earlier, so stopping at A&W wasn't the greatest option for me. In addition to the semi-wilted lettuce and wrinkly cucumber slices, somehow the salad tasted like root beer... which I despised. 

Reena peeked through her fingers to see her father explaining to the teenaged cashier that his daughter wanted a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger. The interaction played out with no obvious embarrassment indicators, but that didn't stop her from re-burying her face into her hand basket as if she were watching the latest Freddie Krueger flick. 

"Here you go, Reena," her dad returned with a smile and set down a fresh cheeseburger. She silently unwrapped it and took a bite, not making eye contact with him. "How's your salad, Sheevani?" 

"Really good! Thanks!"

I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. He had no clue how much he embarrassed his daughter... just by being himself. Sure, millions of daughters are embarrassed by their dads in so many ways... my dad's jokes and stained shirts often sent me to mortification station, but Reena's shame was on a level that I had never considered... she was embarrassed of being Indian. 

-------------------- 

A few weeks ago I listened to an episode of Armchair Expert, a podcast that has become a personal soundtrack of mine within the last year. Hosted by Dax Shepard, the show features guests that range from actors to neuroscientists and covers a wide range of topics. The co-host and producer, Monica Padman, is Dax's former nanny and dear friend (or soulmate as he describes her) who happens to be Indian-American. This particular episode featured the comedian Hasan Minhaj. Whenever they have guests of Indian decent, Dax always makes a point to mention that Monica is 100% Indian and that she may be able to relate to the guest's upbringing or past experiences.  

During Hasan's episode, he talked about how profound it was to see the billboard for Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, not only as an aspiring comedian, but as an Indian kid. Seeing two Asians as the stars of a major motion picture, and one of them being Indian, was an immense source of pride and possibilities, he said. Almost on cue, Dax brought up how Monica had the opposite reaction when Bend It Like Beckham came out. Both Hasan and I were confused. Monica explained that growing up in Atlanta, she chose to distance herself from being Indian and fully immersed herself into "being white," which apparently meant joining the cheerleading squad and loving the show Friends. When Bend It Like Beckham came out and the poster was everywhere, she "hated it." Monica felt that since she looked like the girl on the poster, people would think of her as Indian... and that wasn't something she wanted. She is quick to admit how that attitude isn't something she's proud of today, but back in 2002 at the tender age of 14, she was mortified to be "outed" as an Indian girl by a movie poster.

I have to admit, this really annoyed me. I scrunched my face as I listened to Monica open up about her past emotions about being Indian. My entire body was full of judgement. How dare she! Being Indian is awesome! Oh, oh, are you too good to be Indian, MONICA?!? No wonder you pronounced it TAN-doori chicken! Then I pulled myself off my high horse to dig into my own relationship with Indian pride. Have I always proudly waved my metaphorical Indian flag? 

Spoiler Alert: No.

As I wrote about in a previous post, I felt a sort of split identity growing up in a very white suburb of Detroit. During those years, I yearned for Indian kids at school as sort of a community touchstone in the hallways. But, as kids usually do, I figured out a way to fit into both worlds and make the best of my white weekdays and brown weekends. 

The Nose Knows
Here's some math for you:

SMALL HOUSE  + WORKING MOTHER WHO COOKS INDIAN FOOD BEFORE WORK + NO CLOSET DOOR + 90s GRUNGE ODOR ABSORBING FLANNEL STYLE + THICK ASS HAIR = SMELLING LIKE INDIAN FOOD AT SCHOOL

Sigh, I was the smelly kid. In 7th grade at the onset of puberty, I was the B.O. smelly kid, but once I got that sorted out, the smell was my delicious yet pungent home cooked dinner. Demanding my mom start cooking after I left for school was certainly not an option, and probably wouldn't have helped anyway. During that time, I also had an obsession with anything peach scented; shampoo, body splash, lotion, Lip Smackers, you name it. My fellow students at Kimball High School were no doubt inundated by a curious peach masala odor as I walked by... and I knew it. I knew it and I was embarrassed by it. I'm not saying that people ran away plugging their noses, but I certainly considered my spicy aroma a mild annoyance. 

Same with having friends over to my house. Look, I love it, but for folks who have little to no experience with Indian food, that smell is a full-on assault on your nostrils. I can still picture my brother's (super cute and popular) friend standing in our living room struggling to breathe as my mother was cooking in the kitchen. He was as meat-and-potatoes, All-American boy as you could get (which also meant I had a HUGE crush on him), so suffice it to say, he wanted to get the hell out of our house while all that masala popping was going on. 

I think anything that sets you apart from the crowd during your formative years can be embarrassing... for me, it happened to be of the odiferous variety specific to the foods I absolutely loved eating. Smelling like an Indian restaurant didn't ruin my childhood by any means, but there were many days I wished I just smelled like Tide... and peaches. 

Did You Say 'Vet' or 'Wet'?
Oh, the Indian accent. As evidenced by the opening story, it is probably the most popular thing for us first-gen kids to be embarrassed by. However, for me personally, I can honestly say I don't remember being ashamed by how my parents spoke. In fact, what I learned through their accented interactions was how ignorant and impatient some people could be. My parents studied the English language both in India and after they arrived in the United States, so while an accent is there, they were and are not difficult to understand. Unfortunately, some nasty folks tend to shut down if there is any hint of an accent.  

When I was around 8 years old, I witnessed an incident at the post office that I have never forgotten. I was with my dad and the postal worker behind the counter was clearly a bigot who hated foreigners. Since my dad was brown-skinned with an accent AND asking about the best way to ship something to his family in India, the odds were stacked against him to receive pleasant customer service. 

"Sir, I cannot understand you... speak English!" the man kept repeating. My father spoke slower and slower, enunciating each word only to get the same venomous response. Finally my dad called the man an idiot and we left. As Daddy led me out by the hand, I turned to look at the mean mailman who was giving my dad the finger as we walked out. I was so frightened and wanted nothing more than to hug my dad for the rest of the day.

I have to admit, there have been times when I've been embarrassed by an Indian accent, but not as extreme as my old friend Reena. A cringe here and there, but for the most part, the Indian accent feels like a hug. Sure, I'll have some WANILLA ice cream. Yeah, I'd LOVE the op-PORCH-U-nity to meet you. No problem, I'll give you a ride home from your cologne-no-SCOPY. 

Janak Desai vs. Panera Dude
This story is a Desai Family favorite.

It is the year 2000 and the first Panera Bread has opened in Madison Heights, Michigan. Upon hearing about this bread-centered food establishment, bread-lover Janak Desai decides to call the shop and ask if they also... serve breakfast. 

(This conversation was only observed from Janak Desai's side, and the following is what was heard)

JANAK DESAI
Hello yes... this is Panera?

Okay, hello... I was wondering, do you serve breakfast?

Do you serve breakfast?

Breakfast.

Breakfast.

Break-fast.

BREAKFAST.

BREAK-FAST!

BREAK! FAST!

No, BREAK ----- FAST!

...
...
...

YOU KNOW, YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING AND YOU EAT BREAK-FAST!

(hangs up)

Stupid idiot.


Damn, Meena!
Honestly, the harshest critics of Indians I've ever known... are Indian. After a large community event; a Diwali dinner, Indian wedding, my many dance performances... my parents were the first to criticize or be embarrassed by something the Indian organizers got wrong. Criticism was there no matter what, but if something was done in front of white people in an unflattering light? Oh man, my parents were so mortified. I swear, my dad could have written a novel about every Indian restaurant in the metro Detroit area and how they only catered to the lower standards of Indians. Anything from the owner's elderly father (who barely spoke English) at the host stand to the poor lighting, Daddy would notice and point out how it "looks bad" to Americans. 

I don't mean to sound like my parents were out to hate on their own community. Quite the opposite, actually. Coming to the United States meant they had to assimilate in so many ways. My dad went by Jay instead of Janak at the office. My mom wouldn't dare wear Indian clothing except to the temple or Indian parties. My parents made a point to speak English at home so me and my brother wouldn't go to school with an accent. While they accepted these things as part of being immigrants, they also wanted to represent Indians in the best light. It was because of their pride that they would be embarrassed when Indian events were disorganized, too loud or left behind a mess. They knew the beauty in their culture, and they only wanted the Americans to see that beauty shine through.

-------------------- 

I'm trying to be less judgmental as I get older. Monica Padman's comments on that podcast episode elicited a lot of judgement, and it was not fair. Her experience as a first-gen Indian American is completely different than mine... she's 9 years younger than me, grew up in the south and her mother came to the United States at the age of 6. I have no idea what that's like and I have no right to judge her decision to distance herself from her Indian identity. Rather than judge her, I choose to feel lucky that I was never ashamed of my Indian heritage. 

It is common for people of color, especially those who look "ethnic" to be asked, "What are you?" For some folks, this question is offensive and I completely accept and understand that perspective. Personally, I choose to appreciate their interest in my background because most of the time they are just that... interested. Plus, that question gives me the opportunity to smile and proudly say, "I'm Indian."

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bod Squad

I untangle my earbud cords as I make my way up the stairs. Hope the Lifetime wi-fi isn't shitty today, I've got some Xfinity On Demand to enjoy during my 45 minutes on the elliptical. As I make my way across the gym floor, I pass one of the group fitness studios where the bass is pumping and I can hear the microphoned instructor yelling from the mini-stage:

"COME ON! DON'T GIVE UP NOW! PUSH! YOU CAN AND YOU WILL!!"

I glance over to the darkened studio (why is it so damn dark?) and see a bunch of bodies jumping with knees up high and then some fast push-ups on a bench after which some hand weights are launched overhead followed by squats and other horrid movements. People are breathing hard, dripping with sweat, cringing from what I can only assume is "feeling the burn." They. Look. Miserable.

"F*ck all that," I say to myself. No, my tepid leg ellipses at one speed and elevation is allllll I need. So what if I'm not seeing any results... or breaking a sweat... or I'm bored beyond belief 5 minutes into my workout? It's fine... better than nothing, right?

Yup... I'm totally okay with being mediocre in yet ANOTHER area of my life...

Ah, crap.

--------------------

I'm not what you would call an "athlete." As a very young girl, there were a few years of gymnastics thanks to the popularity of Mary Lou Retton. Later, the closest I got was running track in 7th grade and I could barely make it through the light 10-minute jogging warmup. For most of my childhood, my physical activity was in the form of Indian dance, which is a workout, but not quite on par with playing soccer or perfecting basketball drills. Plus, I wasn't into the competitive team sports thing. Dancing on stage in a pretty outfit was more my jam.

I had many friends on different sports teams in high school and while I supported them, it all seemed like a big hassle to me. Practice before and after school? Games multiple evenings a week? Weekend trips for tournaments? Ew. Little did I know how much I probably missed out on that camaraderie and rush of physical accomplishment. I suppose you don't miss something you never got to experience.

Today, I'm a tad obsessed with getting to the gym and feeling that endorphin rush that comes with a tough workout. Sometimes I cannot believe it, especially when I look back at my lifelong aversion to anything that increased my heart rate. While I struggle with loving a lot of things about myself... I'm damn proud that I've become an active person.

WHY I SHRED THIS BOD 5 DAYS A WEEK:

  • I Got Time
    • I remember the days of being at an office 5 days a week for at least 10 hours a day. A workout was the absolute last thing on my mind as I drove home excited to unwind on my couch with a bowl of pasta. Getting motivated was hard enough when I wasn't a mother, but add a couple kids to the equation? Sorry gym! Exercise was knocked further and further down the list. I had had spurts of fitness in the years prior, but with the sole purpose of looking good for beach vacays or my wedding. An ongoing exercise routine while maintaining a job, husband, house and kids? Shya right. 
    • Cut to leaving my job in the spring of 2015. Since I knew this new venture into full-time motherhood was going to be designed completely by me, I pledged to get in shape. The years of sitting at a desk had certainly taken it's toll and more than wanting to fit into my size 8s with ease again, I wanted to have more energy. I mean, I was going to be with a baby and toddler all the live long day, energy was a higher priority than a six-pack tum tum. Oh, and Lifetime had a childcare center. Yup, no excuses bitch.
    • These days with both kids in school full time, I have the luxury to invest some time in myself, so why wouldn't I? Even with taking on more projects with my comedy, writing, acting, volunteering... I always try and work around my beloved classes at the gym. I treat it as a part of my regular routine, and gym time is non-negotiable.
  • Group Fitness Friends
    • Once I got over my fear of those group fitness classes that intimidated me so, I never looked back. Back when I was a fresh stay-at-home-mom, my neighbor Michelle, was an instructor at Lifetime, where we had been absentee members for years. I started going to the classes she taught and, turns out, it wasn't so scary after all. Also, she kept an eye on my attendance, so I felt sort of obligated to be there... but not in a "ugh, I guess I'll go" kind of way. She made the classes so fun and comfortable for me, so it was no chore. I quickly learned she was one of many incredible instructors, so I added more and more classes to my schedule.
    • Sweating together is very bonding. Some of the closest friends I have today are from the gym and I know it's because we are in the cardio/strength/yoga/cycle trenches together. It's probably the closest I can relate to that team sport feeling I skipped back in school. Except instead of competing against another team, we all compete with ourselves while being cheerleaders for each other. When we moved from Michigan to Colorado, I was so sad to leave my Lifetime Novi family. In fact, stepping foot into my new Lifetime location was almost like being the new kid at school. I remember sitting in a yoga class with a lump in my throat as I watched a group of ladies chatting before the practice started. It's almost two years later, and I have found my new Lifetime family... and these ladies are just as fabulous as the ones I left behind. We text each other to save spots, check on each other if we don't show up... and support the hell out of each other in and out of the gym.
  • Results Oriented
    • After having two kids and being smack-dab mid-30s, my body took that natural, annoying route of slowing metabolism and overall softness in the famed "problem" areas. I dove into all that fun in another post. Since I also knew I was shutting down my womb for good, I had this urge to get in the best shape I could. The only changes I wanted to inflict on my body were in the form of toning, strengthening and glowing from all the fitness resplendence.
    • I know this is a shock, but my underactive elliptical workout I had been doing on and off for years wasn't doing a damn thing to keep me in shape. My stamina sucked, I could barely do 5 squats without feeling like my quads were liquid fire and I had the energy of a sloth. I knew I needed to step it up if I wanted to see any sort of results, but as described in my opening story, I was intimidated to try those MUSCLE SHRED ALPHA CARDIO INTERVAL HOT VINYASA FLOW RESISTANCE HIGH INTENSITY X-TREEEEEEEME classes... or whatever. 
    • Michelle, my fitness instructor neighbor, assured me that the classes would be just what I needed to see the results that had eluded me. The results I had my sights on were the usual things... weight loss, inches lost, energy found. I wasn't interested in measuring the results, but more feeling them. If my jeans fit better, great. If my face didn't resemble 3rd trimester puffiness in pictures, awesome. If I could sit on a couch and read a book without passing out 4 words in, sweet. What I'm saying is, I went into my group fitness journey with realistic expectations. 
    • Michelle was 100% correct, once I started combining different formats like cardio and strength training, I saw results like I had never seen before. That, in itself, was enough to get me hooked and keep me coming back. Another bonus from being at the gym on the reg, was learning so much about nutrition. The diet side of my fitness could still use work, but even the changes I've made since learning that one workout doesn't allow me to mouth-pound a Coldstone Gotta Have It treat have made a difference. Just being at the gym and making small-talk with nutritionists, trainers, instructors and other members has educated me about nutritional options to keep my bod in tip top shape. Intermittent fasting here I come!
  • Genetics
    • You know those medical forms you have to fill out when you see a new doctor, where you have to list all your family history? Yeah, I tend to run out of room on those forms. I love and miss my Dad terribly, but dammit if he didn't leave behind some scary shit to worry about with my health. One of the things he was adamant about later in his life was to encourage me and my brother to take care of ourselves. He admitted that as he aged, he didn't really take care of himself, especially physically, and that was probably a big reason he suffered with so many health problems. I was his stubborn daughter, but that advice I have actually followed. When I'd see the amount of pills my father had to ingest on a daily basis, I told myself I'd try to avoid that at all costs. Sure, some of the afflictions may occur no matter what due to simple genetics, but if I can help prevent a few of them, why wouldn't I try? Now, I could take after my mother, who at the age of 70+ (that's the only way she allows me to say her age), only takes one pill, looks amazing and still works out, but given that a lot of my tendencies are reminiscent of dear old Daddy... I'm not taking any chances. 
  • Lead by Example
    • My kids are NOT a fan of the Lifetime Child Center anymore. At ages 8 and 6, they complain about the dumpy diaper smells emanating from the infant area, the toddlers having accidents in the bathrooms and the overall mayhem of a thousand kids trying to play with 4 items. This is only an issue in the summer since they are in school full-time, but they know that many hours of their vacation will be spent at the gym with me. As I said earlier, it's non-negotiable. And seriously, I'm asking for 2 hours at the most. While I will hear some whining in the morning, they know it's futile. "Mama will be very grumpy if I don't go to the gym... do you want Mama to be grumpy?!" Beyond threatening them with bitchiness, I have explained why I go and that staying healthy is really important. Both Paul and I work out multiple times a week and it's a normal part of our family life. The great thing is I've seen them apply this to their own lives as well... they will ask if what they are eating is healthy, they don't hesitate to be active and they make the connections about health and happiness. In a world where electronics are dominating the lives of, well, all of us, I'm hopeful that laying this foundation will establish some good habits for the rest of their lives. 
--------------------

I'm lucky to be healthy and able, it's as simple as that. As long as this body can move, I'm going to keep moving it, dammit. Every day in the locker room, I see women who are at least 30 years older than me putting in the time to be active and it inspires me more than the hottie with the perfect waist-to-ass ratio. I mean, my eyes may linger a bit longer on the hottie, but those old broads with their roller bags... they give me hope. With any luck, one day I'll be the that old lady who has a full conversation with my gray bush out... #goals. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Whine Country

I scan the rectangular sign above the rack that so lovingly provides the 30% discount price for the shirt in my hand. Hmm, $31 for this shirt? Sure, why not? After all, it is Vera Wang.... for Kohl's. These days, with most of my free time spent with an infant on my hip, I cherish my lunch breaks from the office with leisurely shopping trips. Glorious one-hour respites where I can breathe in the retail air; an intoxicating mix of rayon and Jennifer Love Hewitt perfume, and feast on the frivolity that is quickly escaping my world. 

Thank goodness Vera Wang makes some sweet-ass flowy tops that properly hide my 5 month old post-baby midsection with some style. May as well look for some beaded dangly earrings to complete this boho-chic look. Sure, I'm a mom now, but this style won't scream it. YES, I see earrings are also 30% off! Oh, Kohl's... you and your inflated base price with perpetual discounts to trick customers into thinking they are getting a deal... I fall into your trap every damn time. 

With 4 shirts hooked onto my right pointer finger, I walk over to the labyrinth of jewelry racks, bopping my head to the Colbie Caillat hit playing over the sound system. 

"Oh, excuse me!" I say to an elderly woman I almost knock over in my retail therapy haze.

She smiles and makes her way past me when I notice the loot in her Kohl's cart. Laying atop a Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl and clearance rooster oven mitts are 2 of the same Vera Wang shirts I'm carrying. I freeze and a wave of panic washes over me as I realize that I have the same taste as this woman who is easily in her 70s. Sure, the shirts could be for a super cool and trendy daughter, but herein lies the danger of shopping at Kohl's; the unintended twinsie moment with a woman who's easily 15 years post-menopause.  

Do I sound like an agist jerk? Yes, I do. Do I care? Not really. I quickly replace all the Vera Wang for Kohl's tops and speed walk out of the store. So much for the relaxing shopping trip. I'm still young, I'm still young, I'm still young...  

--------------------

That Kohl's experience was back in my early 30s, newly mom-ed and trying to figure out who to be after my life was flip-turned-upside-down with so many changes. I'm not sure if all new mothers went through what I did, but all I knew was I was obsessed with not "seeming" old. With a changing bod and an avalanche of grown-up responsibilities, there was this desperation to show the world that I was still... um... well, "cool" sounds so lame and ironically dated, but that's the only way I can describe it. Hey, at least I didn't say, "hip."

Always Be the Baby
I was always the youngest... not only in my family and extended family, but also at school. With a late September birthday, I was the last one to get my drivers' license, turn 18 to get into the clubs and 21 to drink. I always longed to be older... it just seemed more fun and way more exciting. When I think back to my childhood into my teen years, I remember a persistent feeling of urgency to get to that next milestone. At 14, I yearned to be 16 so I could drive... at 16 I couldn't wait to be 18 and considered a legal adult, at 18 I couldn't wait to be 21 so I could legally drink. Beyond 21, however, the milestones became less attractive... unless you count the age of 25 so that you can RENT A CAR!! SCORE!

With the combination of being the youngest and a keen observer, I would notice the stark transitions of folks in my life as they aged. There were relatives I would see as teenagers and then a few years later, married with kids. In my youthful eyes, I would wrinkle my nose at how "lame" they seemed after settling down. Of course, "lame" was just my way of saying, "old." Even early in my professional life when I was the youngest in my department, I saw people in the office who I assumed were 40 (my "scary age" as a 23 year old). To my surprise, many times I would find out people were WAY younger than I had estimated. They had been in the adult, corporate world for only a handful of years, and I could have sworn they were on the verge of an AARP membership. The term, "24 going on 40," was used for those who acted so old for their age. That will never be me, I thought. 

Oh Right, You Weren't Born Yet
"Jake, your hat reminds me of Benetton!"

"Reminds you of what?"

"Benetton. Benetton? The United Colors of Benetton?"

"What's that?"

"It was a store! Like, a really popular store... back in the nineties... it was in every mall... I loved their perfume back... in.... high... school..."

Blank stares abound. 

Today, I'm used to being the oldest in the group. Since I started my career as an improv and sketch comedian in my early 30s, I'm usually the oldest, which has been a wake-up call for someone who was used to being the youngest in most circles. When I started getting heavily involved in the comedy world, the obvious divide was with free time. I was a mom and wife, while most of my peers were in their carefree 20s. But beyond the scheduling contrasts, my advanced age would show in more subtle ways. I'd refer to a show or movie from my childhood that most of them hadn't heard of, or they would talk about a current singer/band that I couldn't pick from a line-up if my life depended on it. These things would come up sporadically, but would be clear reminders that I couldn't rely on my improv buds to bond with me over my middle school Blossom obsession. 

I mean, what did I expect? Time marches on. However, instead of dwelling on it, I've made the conscious choice to distance myself from the cliched melancholy about getting older. Believe me, I went through a lot of distress when I found my first gray hair and approached 30, but part of me knew I was societally conditioned to feel bad about myself as I got older. Just as we marvel at women who can shrink back to a size 4 shortly after giving birth, we worship those who look SO young for their age and need to know all their secrets. I'm 100% guilty of all of this too, so I'm not here to say I'm better than any of that. In fact, I subscribe to most of it... except the notion that getting older means I should be drenched in shame. 

As a 40 year old, I color my grays and practice skincare routines that minimize wrinkles, but those personal choices do not mean I'm embarrassed about my age. It's not about tricking the world into thinking I'm younger, for me it's about feeling like myself and at present, myself doesn't feel like a gray-head with wrinkles. I also recognize that this notion of "myself" is ever-evolving and someday that feeling could be all about rocking a gray head of hair with reckless abandon and giving in to the sags and wrinkles of my face. All I know for certain is that I won't treat aging like the enemy, but rather an inevitability that I will approach with acceptance and humor. 

The Tweet Heard 'Round My Head
The Netflix movie, Wine Country, solidified my footing in the 40+ club. And I couldn't be prouder. As a ridiculously huge fan of Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and others in the cast, I was looking forward to this movie about a group of women spending a 50th birthday weekend in Napa, and the hilarity that would ensue. I'll admit, when I watched the trailer, I saw some of the cheesiness and low-hanging-fruit humor that could make it a disaster, but my faith in the cast of amazingly talented women kept me on track to watch it the night it was released. 

I was NOT disappointed. Look, it's not on par with Bridesmaids or The Heat, but for me, it scratched that exhausted-mom, wine-loving, life-reflecting, badass-women-loving-bitch itch I so needed. As a friend said to me, "It's a B minus movie, but it spoke to me." As I'm getting older and more aware of the shittiness in the world, a 1 hour 43 minute romp of lady silliness is a welcome escape. A network of at least 7 of my friends were texting about this movie and how much we loved it. Since its release, I've probably watched it over 10 times... it has been the perfect wind-down, dildo-joke-laden lullaby at the end of the day to send me off into dreamland. 

A couple of days after I watched it, I saw a tweet that annoyed the f*ck out of me. I tried to search for it for this post so I could illustrate what it said verbatim, but after 7 minutes of searching for a tweet that was over a month old, I was pissed I had wasted that much time on a whiny a-hole who clearly has a chip on his shoulder. So, instead, I'll paraphrase:

"Wah wah, Wine Country was full of bad jokes, wah wah, I didn't like it because it had one scene that made fun of millennials, wah wah, I'm disappointed in these women who used to be funny, wah wah, I expected more as a 20-something dude who needs everything catered to my enjoyment... WAH F*CKING WAH."

I think you get the gist. Now, I want to be clear that I do not expect everyone to like this movie. In fact, I talked to some women who didn't like it, one of whom had to turn it off 20 minutes in. My reaction wasn't, "YOU'RE CRAZY!" but rather I recognized that not everything is going to appeal to everybody. The women I know who didn't love it, are much younger than me... so it makes sense. Back when HBO's "Girls" came out, I was baffled that it was a success. I watched the first season because I bought into the hype that it was a genius show and Lena Dunham was some comedic prodigy to whom we should all bow. Nope. I hated it. It was the first time I had to recognize that perhaps... I was too old to get it. At 33, I can admit that it stung... but eventually, I fully embraced that I had crossed over into an era where certain things were un-relatable due to my age. 

What bugged me about this tweet was the ignorance that perhaps, god forbid, Wine Country wasn't made for his enjoyment. He probably knew the premise of the movie, so I'm not sure why he felt it would appeal to him. More-so, after watching the movie, maybe he could have just said, "Oh, I bet my mom would like this, but I find it unfunny," instead of insulting the women who have been groundbreakers in the world of comedy, all because he was butthurt over one scene that made fun of his generation. In an industry that pretty much erases women after the age of 45, a comedy featuring a cast of women who are pushing and past the age 50 is a feat in itself, not to mention the film was produced, written and directed by women. If they call out some mild absurdities about millennials in a single scene buried amongst 58 other scenes that all make fun of themselves, stop whining about it. 

Back to my "Girls" example, I never chided people for loving the show. I knew loads of people who revered it as the best show on television. I just simply accepted that it wasn't for me and that it did speak to others. Watching "Everybody Loves Raymond," was torture for me, but my parents laughed so loud the windows shook. I'd rather watch paint dry than see a Jay Leno stand-up show, but the 60 and over contingent would beeline right to that casino theater. I seriously cannot listen to the current pop music without dry-heaving. The term, "Social Media Influencer," confounds me. And it's all fine. It's just not for me.... it's not meant for me. I don't get it. But, I won't ever spread negativity and say those examples are bad because, clearly, they are hitting the right notes with the people for which they are meant. Spreading negativity doesn't do any good. Unfortunately with social media, we get mired down in voicing any and all opinions we have, but that's a whole other post I will never write... because it would bum me out too much. 

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A question I often get asked about my children is, "What age has been your favorite?" My answer, which is 100% the truth has always been, "Their age right now." As a parent, I love witnessing each year of their lives, because it never fails to amaze and fascinate me. Turning that philosophy inward, I can honestly say that about my own age as well. Sure, life has gotten tougher and more complicated in many ways, but I have to also recognize all of the beautiful growth experiences that came along during the years. I'm a 40 year old woman and I wouldn't have it any other way... well, until I'm 41... and then I wouldn't have it any other way... and so on and so on. Of all the things I will worry about in my life, age will not be one of them.  

To quote Lady Sunshine from Wine Country, "Get over all your shit, because it is later than you think."