Lessons from Muni

I’ve been riding Muni (the local San Francisco bus) for over two years now. There’s never a dull moment and you’re always bound to disembark with a story. Here are some lessons I’ve learned while riding the bus:

– Don’t cut your nails on the bus. I assumed this was a unspoken rule, but apparently not. No one needs to hear the sound of nails being clipped or having nails strewn all over the bus. So just don’t do it.

– Respect the personal space. If there are ample seats on the bus, there is no need for you to sit next to me.

– Don’t sit on the outer seat of the bus if the inner seat is available. I will come sit on the inside seat, with my purse and other bags hitting you in the face, while most likely stepping on your foot. It’s so much easier for you and me if you just slide over.

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– Be accommodating. No one dreams of being on a crowded Muni. So try to make things easier for everyone and be accommodating. Move to the back of the bus, slide on over so a fellow passenger can get a better grip of the pole, make yourself as flat as possible when people are trying to exit, etc. These things may be small, but they really help and I’m always appreciative when I am on the receiving end of them.

I spent a long time being annoyed or irritated when I was on Muni. But then I realized I rode it every morning and evening and I had a bitter Muni taste in my mouth long after I got off at my stop and that was no way to start/end my day. I realized that just as I didn’t like Muni, nor does anyone else (I know, duh). Once I had this quite obvious revelation, riding Muni has been more tolerable.

– Lastly, Muni has taught me that there are so many different types of people out there. It is so easy to be in your own little bubble and only associate with people of the same profession, socioeconomic status, age group, race, etc. Living in the city and subsequently riding Muni has opened my eyes to the different ways people live their lives. You see people that are young, old, professionals, retired, happy, sad, and so on. You see them every morning and every evening, wondering where they are going and where they are coming from. What a ride.

Young Adult Fiction for Adults

Ironically enough, as I approached my late 20s I became more and more interested in the young adult fiction genre of books. Growing up, all I would read was The Babysitter’s Club and then I progressed onto Sweet Valley High. While they were fun books to read as a high schooler, they seem like nothing compared to the young adult books being written today. The Fault in Our Stars, Paper TownsEleanor and Park, and most recently, Fangirl are just some examples.

What I love about these books is that the main character is almost always a misfit or an outcast in their high school. Yet that doesn’t faze them one bit. They are confident and fully embrace their quirks. Some come from happy families, and some not so much. It’s quite a drastic contrast from the Wakefield twins and the world of Sweet Valley I was accustomed to as a teenager.

fangirl

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (now one of my favorite authors), tells the story of twin sisters who are in their first year of college. Cath writes fan fiction for a Harry Potter like saga called Simon Snow and resists change, so adjusting to college life is a struggle for her. Meanwhile her twin Wren is having the time of her life, attending parties, and meeting many new people. Sad, confused, and feeling like she doesn’t belong Cath continues to do what she loves to do: write. She doesn’t change who she is to fit in and by the end of the book she’s found like-minded people who care for her just as she is – a valuable lesson to learn no matter if you are 18 or 28.

As a 28 year old, books like Fangirl might be considered a guilty pleasure for me but I feel like that does them a disservice. These are the types of books I would encourage my nieces to read as they get older. They are genuinely well-written books, with engaging, well-liked characters, and a cozy, comfy plot. They make you feel those warm fuzzies; they make you cry and they leave you so engrossed you just might miss your bus stop (more than once).

Have you read any recent young adult books? Did you enjoy them or not?

Diversity on TV

I feel like it’s been a really good year in terms of diversity in television shows on primetime networks. Considering it’s 2015, I would say it’s about time! Along with Jane the Virgin (which I talked about previously), I’ve recently started watching and enjoying Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish.

Fresh Off the Boat is about a Taiwanese family and the struggles they face trying to achieve the American Dream. It’s devoid of cultural stereotypes (for example, one of the kids loves rap music), accurately portrays the confusion many immigrants face, while also being hilariously funny. Another thing I enjoy about this show is that it’s based in the 90s, which feels like an ode to the greatest decade.

It’s a relatable show for any immigrant or children of immigrants. In this week’s episode the oldest son is forced to be friends with the only other Chinese guy in his class, except they have nothing in common. It’s really refreshing to see a show that doesn’t portray all minorities as similar.

Black-ish is about an African-American family that is trying to keep the Black culture alive with their children. Again, it’s a show devoid of stereotypes (the mother is a doctor and the father is high up at an advertising agency) but maintains its authenticity. It’s pretty awesome to see the mother wear her hair au naturale and curly. (It was only after reading this article that I realized we usually only see straight-haired women on TV!)

Do you enjoy Fresh off the Boat and Black-ish? What are some similar types of shows out there? I’d love to know so I can check them out!

Women of the World

I traveled to India and Singapore last fall. Before I left, I decided to attempt street photography for the first time. I wanted to capture images of how women and girls, halfway around the world, lived their lives. Here are some of those photos.

Pop Culture, with a Twist

It’s been a while since I updated this little old blog of mine..I’ve always had the intentions of writing a post but was going through a bit of a writers block. Anyway, I’m back and talking about some of my recent favorites in the media/entertainment/pop culture realm.

Jane the Virgin

I’m ashamed to admit that I dropped the ball on this show and only started watching it over the holidays. Jane the Virgin is the story of a twenty something woman (and a virgin) who gets artificially inseminated at a routine gyno check up. I know the plot sounds like a telenovela and that’s half the fun. The show pokes fun at its dramatic, telenovela ways many times.

More than that, what I love about the show is that the cast is mostly people of color and one of the main characters (the grandmother) speaks only Spanish! It’s a smart, refreshing, and funny show. Not at all something I expected from the CW but I am pleasantly surprised. Oh yeah, and who can forget when they mentioned immigration reform and urged the viewers to look it up?

I missed the Golden Globes this year but when I heard that Gina Rodriguez (who plays Jane) won for Best Actress, I immediately looked up her speech.

“This award is so much more than myself..it represent a culture that wants to see themselves as heros.”

I need more people I know to watch it so I can gush with them about it. So get to it!

Chrissy Teigen

Okay, this girl is one of my all time favorites. She rose to the top of my list pretty quickly..pretty much after one day of me following her on Twitter and Instagram. She’s smart, absolutely hilarious, amazingly witty, and always has a comeback to those that are downright rude or mean to her on social media. She’s a model that loves to eat (!) and she seems to have the best relationship ever with her husband, John Legend. See what I mean? She doesn’t shy away from hot topics like gun control but never takes herself too seriously.

There’s something really refreshing about a woman (a supermodel no less who are generally paid to shut up and look pretty) speak her mind without any hesitation.

Gilmore Girls

There are no words to describe how much I love this show. Most of my friends know this already to the point that I had multiple people inform me when Netflix decided to finally add it to Instant. I watched it the day it came out (October 1st, best day ever) and I’m still making my way through the series (for the second time).

It is weird..I was Rory’s age when I watched the show for the first time and now as I’m watching it again I’m closer in age to Lorelai. I remember relating so well to Rory when it came to high school drama, the whole college admissions process, and moving away from home for the first time. Now I find myself in a similar boat as Lorelai (minus the having a kid bit) what with wanting to figure out her career and working on settling down. I think this really speaks to how well made this show is that I can watch it 15+ years later and still have it speak to me, albeit in a completely different way.

Not everything has changed, though. I am still gushing over Jess and Luke like I did when I was 16 and I still don’t want to talk about season 6. Not now, not ever.

Are you watching Jane the Virgin or Gilmore Girls? I’d love to hear your take on the shows!

Return of the Blog

I’ve been telling my friends and family for a long time now how I want to blog again and I’ve been telling myself the same thing for even longer. It’s been a little less than two years since my last post, so please bare with me as I get back into the groove of things.

Last week I read an article in which the Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi says that women can’t have it all. As we enter our late twenties (gulp) this topic has come up amongst my group of friends a few times. And yet, none of us are married and we definitely don’t have kids. I think this goes to show just how much “having it all” is something that is on every young woman’s mind, no matter what stage they are in life.

While I do respect Nooyi’s candor, women are so often told that they can’t pursue certain careers, hold positions of power, or even worse, they grow up internalizing these same beliefs, that for her (especially as a South Asian woman) to state women can’t have it all does nothing to contribute to the conversation. Instead it makes us women believe that this is our fate and that nothing we can do will change that. I wouldn’t want Nooyi to lie and say that having it all is easy, but she should keep in mind that she is a role model for many and that her words have an impact.

It is also worth noting that these kinds of questions are asked to women only. You never hear of a male CEO getting asked how he balances his career and family life. It’s a shame that it’s 2014 and yet these same questions are being asked. The way that we portray gender and gender roles in the media is something that desperately needs fixing.

What do you think of Nooyi’s interview?

The Mindy Project

I’ve long since been a fan of Mindy Kaling, from her work as Kelly Kapoor on The Office to her recent book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. But what I’m most excited about is her newest venture, The Mindy Project, where she is the first Indian American to star AND write in her own show. That is a pretty huge deal!

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in an area that is tolerant, liberal, and open-minded but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get asked some inane questions like “Do you speak Indian?” or my personal favorite “No, but like where are you really from?” after I mention that I was born in the US.

Even though it premiered last night, I caught the pilot online a few weeks ago. I loved it and I found it especially refreshing that it represented Indian Americans exactly as we are: just like everyone else. No we don’t have accents nor do we have arranged marriages.

Did you see the pilot? What did you think? If you haven’t seen it yet or read her book, I highly recommend that you do!

Mindy Kaling has made it in an industry where there are so few minorities and women, which is not an easy feat.

And because this video says it better than I ever could: