Where Are the Forks?

A bunch of my friends and I lived in the same apartment building – so our parties were pretty awesome.

For whatever reason I can’t remember, I decided to call it a night around 2 a.m. and walk across the hall back to my own apartment.

Moments later, there was a knock on the door. A couple giggly drunk girls asked where the party host keeps his forks.

I said, “Um. In his kitchen, presumably?”

They looked at me wide-eyed and said, “Oh my god, where are you from?”

“I’m from here.”

They were shocked.

Later, I had to ask someone if “presumably” is that uncommon of a word and if it really is odd that it’s a part of my regular vocabulary.

Like… really?

From a young child, I took the things I learned in English classes to heart. Standard English was the name – to master it was my game. Don’t as me why. Maybe it’s a language thing. I’m the same way when learning/teaching myself foreign languages. Also, I like sounding intelligent and well read. (Correction – I am intelligent and well read. And I like to show that with my speech.) For this reason, I’ve been called things like “white girl” and “oreo.” As if proper English only belongs to white people?

Some people even thought my family was rich based solely on the way I speak.

Alas.

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The Giant Ballerina

I dance ballroom.

I started about two years ago (I was 21) and I got serious about it pretty early on.

When I was 22, I had enough money to take ballet classes (where my older brother goes, and also where he teaches advanced contemporary) to help me become an overall better dancer.

I couldn’t sign up for the adult classes because they were scheduled at the same time as evening ballroom, so I registered for an “age 7 and up” class. I thought, “Seven AND UP! So surely there will be mixed ages!”

I was wrong. I was oh so wrong.

I showed up in my baby blue leotard and pink tights, towering over all the 7-year-olds, feeling awkward as hell.

Towards the end of class, my brother peaked his head into the studio.

I heard him say to someone, “Yeah, that’s my little sis. Isn’t she so cute?”

Oh. Yes. I bet those little girls’ parents thought I was adorable.

Anyway, to make things worse, I’m kind of scared of little kids. They make me uncomfortable. The fact that I was able to suck that up and show up to every class proves how serious and determined I was. They never really addressed me, although they looked at me sometimes, probably wondering why the hell some “old lady” is in class with them.

Their tiny bodies were far more flexible than mine. Their little feet made perfect points that my feet will never achieve. But I couldn’t let that discourage me. I had to endure awkward stares from the teenagers, too. Awkward, awkward, awkward.

Unfortunately for me, I could only afford ballet for one semester. I miss it so much. And it really did help me. Let me explain how.

In the collegiate ballroom world, competition ranks are like so: Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Novice, Pre-Champ, and finally, Champ. Everyone is allowed to compete in Newcomer for exactly one year. After that, you have to move up to what many of us call “Bronze Purgatory.” Many dancers make it to Bronze and never get out. It’s the most saturated of all the ranks. You could be the best dancer on the floor, but it won’t mean anything if the judges can’t see you in that massive sea of competitors. You have to really stand out.

stand out

The more ballet I learned and applied, and the more ballroom lessons I attended (group as well as private lessons), the more I was able to connect all the things I learned. With hard work, I made it from Newcomer to Silver in two years, which is uncommon.

Sadly, due to financial reasons, among other things, this dancing queen is on hiatus – a very agonizing hiatus – and I’m itching to dance again. But, when I made it to Silver finals, I thought I would have a heart attack. I wanted to pour all my money into lessons (and, I basically did) so that I could move up to Gold. It was within my grasp.

And it wouldn’t have been possible without those awkward ballet lessons. If anything ever taught me to get the hell out of my comfort zone, it was prancing around a dance studio with 7-year-old girls.

Right now, my writing game is on hyper drive. I’m writing, editing, and submitting as much as I can, since all I have is time. But soon… soon…

soon

I will wear my dancing shoes again…

Revolutionary Dodge Ball

Gym class at my elementary school was sometimes pretty… creative.

One day, we played Revolutionary Dodge Ball. One side would be the Americans – the other side would be the British.

I chose American, because why not.

We were told that the British were very neat and tidy and never left their battle formations. Therefore, the players on the British side were not allowed to move.

The ‘MURICANS, however, did not follow rules. So we were allowed to move however we wanted.

I don’t need to tell you who won.

I’d never been prouder to be American.

My Chinese Boyfriend

My junior high was like, 99% black – or something like that – but every weekend, I went to a college prep program.

Formed a huge crush on a guy. We talked on the phone every day for hours, even though I was pretty sure his whole family hated me… For reasons I was never able to find out.

But I liked when he spoke Cantonese. And we were both interested in Japanese things. I liked to draw, and he’d admire my drawings. Oh! And we both played violin! We liked each other as people – I just happened to be black, and he Asian.

And I really was infatuated with this eyes – huge and brown and completely adorable – and his hair – jet black and shiny.

One day at school, all the girls were talking about their little boyfriends, so I decided to chime in. They all looked at me like I was Bigfoot.

You have a boyfriend? LOL. Yeah right.”

(You see, the teachers loved me. The students loved to torment me. I was the weird kid who liked Japanese things and rock music. I had a 4.5 GPA both years of junior high… due partially to my book smarts, and partially to my pathetic lack of friends.)

Anyway, as soon as I told them he was Chinese, they were just floored.

(lol wtf is wrong with her where do you even find chinese guys what a loser)

You know, after a couple years, when me dating became a regular thing, whenever my family found out I had a boyfriend, they would ask, “Is he white or Asian?” It was with a joking air, of course, but there’s always some truth to joking. Is it really that big of a deal? Did those girls really have to laugh so hard? You almost never see black women/Asian men represented on television, so whenever it happens in real life, people think it’s bizarre.

Anyone remember that show

Anyone remember that show “Flashforward”? No? Probably because it didn’t get a second season.

And is it really so hard to see people as people? Seriously, when my college prep program took a zoo trip and invited the parents, his mother kept calling him away from me. And when he and I sat on the bus on the way back, his mother glared at me. I was 12 years old! (I’m 22 now. Weird to think how that happened so long ago and how much it had affected me then…)

Sigh. I guess that was just as well. When he and I went to high school together, he turned into a complete douchelord for reasons that remain a mystery to me.

But that’s fine. No more death-stares from his mother – whoo!

Weird Anime Eyes

When I was in 8th grade, I was super into anime and manga. Manga was all I drew. All the time. Everywhere.

Towards the end of the school year, we were having a bit of a free day, so a lot of us were drawing on the board. I drew a manga face.

Another girl who could draw looked at the picture. Then looked at me. Then said, “What kind of eyes are those?”

“They’re manga style.”

“… They’re what?”

“Nothing.”

But I want to be Nez Perce!

I used to get the American Girl magazine when I was rather young. This incident happened in 4th or 5th grade-ish.

Every Thursday, I was able to leave school to go to a program for gifted students to expand my horizons (it was called Horizons – surprise, surprise).

My Horizons teachers decided to celebrate diversity by having everyone bring in a traditional dish and dress up as some sort of culture.

At the time, I absolutely loved AG’s newest doll, a Nez Perce girl named Kaya. She was beautiful, and I wanted to know more about her and her tribe. And I was extremely upset when my mother told me I couldn’t dress as Pow Wow Kaya for the class party.

I don’t know if it was because we couldn’t think of ideas or couldn’t find costumes, but my mom ended up buying me a ’50s poodle skirt costume.

I looked effing adorable, and my teachers gave me half-points for coming dressed as a sub-culture.

So I was content.

Staples

My day camp used to take trips to the JCC (Jewish Community Center). This was when I was like… 6? 7 years old?

My mom liked to braid my hair – often in cornrows. It was pretty much the norm for me and most other little girls I knew…

So one day, a girl came up to me, with face screwed up in a mix of curiosity and disgust, and said, “Are those… stapled?”

I looked at her as if she’d come from another planet.

Who the hell staples braids to their head?

Why would she even think that?

Even if she did come from another background, I mean, staples braids to one’s head would seem pretty stupid to a 6-year-old, wouldn’t it? And she see staples in my head? No.

I was shocked. Appalled.

I just sort of looked at her and said, “No,” as if she’d just asked me if the sky were red and the grass were pink.

Gosh. Even now, it makes me wonder where that question would have come from…

Swing Set

So, I was a kid, it was summer, and my day camp decided to take a trip to the zoo and the park.

At the park, my friends and I ended up playing with a trio of white siblings. It was good fun.

We decided to see who could run through the swing sets without getting hit.

One of the swingers was the youngest sibling; the other was me. The little girl’s older sister told her not to sync up with me because it would make the challenge too easy.

Then, out of the blue, the little girl screams, “I CAN MATCH HER IF I WANT. WHY CAN’T I? BECAUSE SHE’S BLACK?”

We all stared. Nervous smiles were had by all.

I’m Indian

When I was in 2nd grade, a little girl on the bus asked me, “Are you African or Jamaican?”

The question annoyed me, though I couldn’t articulate why. My mother once told me that “jasmine,” my name, is a beautiful flower from India.

So I said, “I’m Indian.”

The girl gave me a funny look and asked again. “Are you African or Jamaican?”

“I’m Indian.”

She left me alone.