Age of Nonsense

Since I was a child, I have never felt like I’ve been the right age. Part of that may be attributed to the fact that I have three older siblings, but I’ve also just always felt a bit like a misfit in my age bracket.

When I turned 14 I was eager to get my first job. In New Jersey, you can’t legally work before then, so I had previously stuck to babysitting. Everywhere I tried to apply seemed to tell me the same thing: they only hire at 16. When I was 16 I went around again with two more years of babysitting under my belt, some volunteer work, and everyone told me the same thing: they only hire at 18. Then I turned 18 and everywhere I wanted to work wanted me to have 1-2 years of experience.

Now I’m at the ripe age of 20. I’ve had a few jobs at school and when I’ve been home in the summers. I have a resume I am constantly updating and distributing. Yet I still have this nagging feeling that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Nay, I know I’m not where I want to be.

I spent the first half of my life wondering when I was going to be old enough and now here I am wondering if I’ve earned my admittance into the twenty-something club. Maybe I’m a victim of my own generation. We have this obsession with infantilizing ourselves by calling everyday tasks “adulting” and accepting defeat as these millennial babies that no one wants near their workplace. I know I’m not a part of that. I’ve been doing my own laundry since before I could remember. I am confident that if I had a full-time job I could support and take care of myself.

The problem is I’m in the weird limbo that is college and I can’t figure out exactly what that means for me on this societal timeline. I’m supposed to have job prospects. But I’m also supposed to still be learning. I’m supposed to be getting my life together, but it’s also apparently cool to be letting it fall apart.

I’ve written before about how I don’t really believe in this concept of “wasting time,” yet here I am feeling like I’ve wasted so many years. People younger than me have incredible internships and are starting their careers and I feel like I missed my window of opportunity. Is it possible that in the blink of an eye I went from waiting to be old enough to wishing I had more time?

 

Rules of The Dance Floor and Life

It’s summer, which for a lot of people means weddings, barbecues, and other parties of the like. In the summer I work at an event hall, and that means I see a lot of these events and a lot of dance floors and P!nk once said, “If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor.” I have compiled a list of my own rules for the dance floor accompanied by what they mean in the metaphor of life.

  1. Do not be the person texting on the dance floor. I see this all the time with people who are near my age. You’re dancing and having a great time, but then your friend who is somewhere else texts you about her boyfriend troubles or your own boyfriend is texting you making sure you’re not stepping out on him or hatever it may be. 90% of the time, it can wait. You look dumb trying to dance and have fun while staring into a screen. In life, need I say much more? Yes, technology is great. We all love our iPhones and Snapchat and everything. But take a minute and look up sometimes. You don’t need to keep everyone updated on every second of your life. Enjoy the moment in which you are present with those who are around you in real life.
  2. No one cares about your diet on the dance floor. Stop thinking about how many times you went up to the buffet. Stop wondering how long you have to Dougie before you burn off that piece of cake. Have fun. On an everyday basis, no one wants to know about how restrictive your diet is. If it makes you happy, and you enjoy what you are or aren’t eating, do it. But if you go to dinner with me, I’m getting a burger regardless of whether or not you’re just having a salad.
  3. It is [almost] always acceptable to be the first person on the dance floor. So in reality, if it’s a wedding and the dance floor is not open yet because they’re waiting to announce the bride and groom, do not be the first person on the dance floor. However, if the DJ says the dance floor is open and everyone is just looking around, be the first person. Everyone will silently thank you. Similarly, if you’re the only one willing to start something new, you should probably do it. There is a word derived from an indigenous language of Tierra Del Fuego known as Mamihlapinatapai, which refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.” We don’t have a word for this sensation in the English language, but we all know exactly what that is. Pro tip: be the initiator.
  4. If a dance circle opens up, take a turn in the center. I know not everybody loves being the center of attention as much as I do, but I think it’s always a good idea to take a step outside of your comfort zone, even if only for a minute. Take the spotlight sometimes. Even if you’re really bad at dancing. If you’re having fun, no one cares that you don’t have the best rhythm.
  5. Even if you hate the song, if everyone’s dancing, and you are otherwise having a good time, dance with them. You all know how much I hate Taylor Swift. But if I’m at a party, and Shake it Off comes on, you can bet I’m getting down to this sick beat™. It’s not worth my time to stand in the corner refusing to dance solely because I can’t stand the singer. Obviously in life, if you hate doing something or you are uncomfortable doing it, don’t do it. But if it’s something so minuscule as dancing to a Top 40 song, you might as well sing along.
  6. Learn the words to Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 40 years and still don’t know the words, or the gist of the words, do it now. Period. It’s basically the National Anthem. Just do it.
  7. Being single on the dance floor is usually more fun anyways. I have danced many a dance floor without a date. It’s fine. Don’t pout about it. Own it. When Single Ladies inevitably comes on, own that. Every living human being born not as a conjoined twin has had to be alone for some event in their life, and they have survived. You will survive if you make the most of it. It is okay to embrace singularity. On the dance floor and in life. It is okay to be alone. You’re never even really alone, there are 7.1 billion people in the world. Some alone time does us some good sometimes, anyway.
  8. Have a go-to song. On the dance floor, for karaoke, for the worst days of your life, have a go-to song. Learn a dance routine, learn the lyrics and the harmonies, make it your own. Get it tattooed on your body forever, if that’s what you’re into. Impress your friends with a flawlessly memorized Nicki verse, or some perfectly nailed choreography. This goes great for when you put #4 in practice. In life, you should figure out how to make yourself happy. Find your ultimate happy place that grounds you and brings you back into yourself for when the inevitably crappy things happen throughout your life. Find the thing that’s going to help you say “I’m okay. I’ll get through this.”
  9. Dance like nobody and everybody is watching at the same time. There is a psychological phenomenon called the imaginary audience when humans tend to believe that everyone around them is noticing them. Like when you’re having a bad hair day and you think surely everyone will notice. Truth is, no one really notices, and if they notice, they don’t care. So when you’re dancing and you don’t actually know how to dance, dance anyway. But don’t be afraid to show off if you are a really great dancer. Use the dance floor as a stage every now and then.
  10. What happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor. Have fun. Life is short. Embarrass yourself, laugh about it, move on. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

 

xoxo,

Kam

Why is That Girl Crying About the Black Eyed Peas?

Spoiler alert: I’m the girl.

We all have that one song that whenever we hear it, wherever we are, we are sent into an emotional trance be it ecstasy or dejection.

For me, one of those songs is “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. I am not kidding. And the trance I go into is not necessarily happy. Every time that song plays I fight back tears. I was working my catering job last night for a Bar Mitzvah. The DJ played that song, and I had to tell myself, “Kamaron you are NOT about to cry in front of these 13-year-old kids.”

I sound crazy at this point, I realize that, but I’m so serious and I’m not totally proud of it. The Peas literally sing the days of the week in this song. It’s not exactly a lyrical masterpiece. Yet what it evokes in me would suggest something like that notion.

I remember when the hit song came out. It was huge, and 7 years later remains iconic. The song marked the unofficial (and shortlived) comeback of the Black Eyed Peas. It was regarded as the most successful song of the 21st century until it was surpassed by Pharrell’s “Happy” in 2014.

For me it means a lot more than the records and its cultural significance, though. It brings me back to middle school and the year following the untimely death of my father. I was getting ready to transition to high school and leave all my friends behind when I transferred into a private school. It was this moment of uncertainty for my life, but then will. i. am proclaimed, “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

That obscure but simple message is the tale as old as “Don’t worry, be happy.” BEP assures us, we don’t really know what the future or even the night holds, but they’ve got a feeling it’s going to be good, so we should enjoy it.

Maybe it’s just a catchy pop song. Maybe it’s just one of those fun songs we’ll keep playing at weddings and basketball games until we’re dead. Maybe I’m reading way too far into it, but maybe who cares? I’ve gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.

I’m Different, Yeah, I’m Different

Peter Griffin, of Family Guy fame, once sang a song that speaks to me on many levels:

What makes you so special/The fact that you are special/But if everybody’s special/that kinda waters it down/So some of you ain’t special/I can tell you who is special/like you and you ain’t special/ and you are, and you’re not.

We’re all pretty much raised to think that we’re something special, and have the ability to change the world. Every parent thinks their kid is the greatest thing. Even if you have siblings, your parent likely brags like “My kid is THE best!” And you ask them which one and your parent is like “All of them . They’re all the BEST.”

I have this weird complex in my head that I always felt like I was actually super special. Like I will be a celebrity or something because my brain can’t function as an average person. This is a real thing that goes through my head.

But I’m in college now, and I’ve met all these people that are incredible human beings. I sit in my writing classes and think How am I supposed to compete in the industry with these people? I sometimes wonder about people who went to my school like JJ Abrams. Did his professors and peers know he was going to be a huge Hollywood director? I don’t even really want that kind of fame I just want to be better than a lot of people.

But then I think about the average people. The ones who kind of just keep their head down, work hard, and live out the American Dream. By that I mean, they graduate, they get a job, settle down, find a spouse, have kids, then work until they die. That’s an “average life,” right? It’s not a bad thing. Some of us look at that and think it looks miserably boring, but like that’s what most people do and that is what life looks like.

That freaks me out a little bit, though. I don’t want to be average. I have to be special.

There’s nothing wrong with being average, though. We need average people, or else nothing would get done in the world. We all have our talents and gifts. I just like to think that my talents and gifts are going to put me on the map. Like Peter Griffin said, “If everybody’s special, that kinda waters it down.”

I’m the worst. 🙂

xoxo,

Kam

The 2016 Oscars

I will preface this post by reminding everyone I am a feminist. I am a mixed black and white woman who believes in equality. I would agree, The Academy Awards this year was unnecessarily white washed.

I watched the Oscars at an event in New York City called Every Single Word: The Oscars at the Bowery Ballroom. The event was a live commentary featuring: Franchesca Ramsey (MTV’s Decoded; Creator of “S*** White Girls Say to Black Girls”), Danielle Henderson (creator of Feminist Ryan Gosling), Sean Rameswaram (WNYC Host), Crissle West (co-host of The Read; Drunk History), Naomi Ekperigin (writer for Broad City & Difficult People), and Bowen Yang (Broad City). The event will be hosted by Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale; creator of Every Single Word). It was awful.

While I have not read or seen most of the work of these writers or comedians, I understand they are all pretty accomplished and well known in their fields. What I saw of them last night makes me not want to read or see any of their other work, frankly. I understand the need for dialogue and debate about the racism at The Oscars and the systematic issues at play—this event was not that. It was unproductive heckling.

I can’t remember the last time I was in a room full of so much hate. The host opened the show with a lot of sarcasm about what we were about to watch, and an explanation why we were all here to watch it. He asked all the straight white men in the room to identify themselves so everyone could laugh at them. He handed out tally cards for people to count the times certain inevitable things happened such as “the word ‘diversity’ is mentioned.” He even handed out confetti poppers to be exploded every time the camera shows “white guilt.” I understand the point, sort of, to uplift people of color in this space, because we have been put down in the world’s arena. I did not feel uplifted. I felt uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because my “white side” was feeling the “white guilt,” but I think it’s more because the whole event was overkill.

I went to this hoping for a respectful conversation about the real issues reflected in the Oscar nominations. What I got was a room full of hatred towards anyone not of color, or maybe in the LGTBQ community. I don’t think that was the point, but that is what I felt.

The panel hated Chris Rock’s monologue, exclaiming he “sold out” and felt he made a mockery of the situation. I felt he did a good job as a black comedian hosting essentially an all-white party. Someone just said to me earlier in the week “We make jokes about the things we feel most uncomfortable about. It’s how we cope.” That’s how I felt about Chris Rock’s jokes, but apparently was wrong.

My ~favorite~ part of the evening may have been when Vice President, Joe Biden, came out and the panelists talked about how sexy he is and how they would or would not sleep with him as he spoke about sexual assault. Yet every commercial break the host showed clips of past acceptance speeches where men were sexist because they said the women were sexy. Joe Biden was one of many figures who made the panelists ask each “would you or would you not do?”

If we take out the fact that I was very hungry and physically uncomfortable in my plastic folding chair for four hours, we still have the same result. The event was a screaming match between these panelists and a screen, and it had little positive effect in my opinion. My colleagues seemed to enjoy it, and I’m glad they did, but I did not. I think screaming about how much you hate white people is not going to get us any further towards equality. You cannot beat hate with hate.

xoxo,

Kam

Time

First and foremost, let us all take a deep breath and remember that time is a man-made concept.

I’ve been thinking about the future and life in general lately, and it’s insane. That’s the best way I can describe it. Life is insane. You’re born, you do some stuff, then you die. And whether or not that matters does not matter. Whether you believe each life is equally meaningful or completely meaningless does not matter because they mean the same thing. Stay with me.

If you want to believe my life as a contribution to this earth means equally as much as Mother Teresa’s great. But that belief, I think, means the same thing as the belief that every life is meaningless. Because if we all mean something, we cancel each other out. You need me, and I need the next person, so it’s a random cycle of meaning that doesn’t mean anything.

What does that have to do with time? Well, I think our culture revolves around this idea that we’re running out of time. “Life is short.” “If you’re not living you’re dying.” “Time is money.” Everyone is at least a little obsessed with this hourglass inside of us because we’re afraid that time is going to run out before we get to accomplish great and amazing things.

I once read this thing probably on tumblr or whatever that said “I wish people would stop saying life is short. It is literally the longest thing you will ever do.” That’s a fact. The longest thing I, Kamaron, will ever do is my life however long that may be. So what is the rush? I’m not saying slow down and live every moment like it’s your last–that’s a whole other thing I don’t really subscribe to–I just think we should stop overthinking the time thing. Think outside of yourself. Sure, you could die at any second, but you know what? The world could stop spinning at any second. Who knows?

I think it’s really important for young people to wrap their heads around this. We get so caught up in what other people are doing faster than us that we lose sight of what we want. Goals become should-have-dones, and life is just a race to the graveyard. Yes, some things are time sensitive. But there isn’t going to be a time when your days move faster than days before them. Sure there are times you feel like all this time has passed, but that’s all in your head.

I don’t think it’s really possible to “waste time.” You gain something out of every moment. Whether it’s a lesson learned in time management or a moment when you just unwind, you got something. I told a professor last semester I needed to prioritize my time better and not just watch Netflix and she said, “Yeah, but if Netflix is what you need to do to relax and rejuvenate, then you need to do it sometimes.” No, this whole idealistic stream of consciousness wasn’t an excuse for me to keep watching Netflix, but she was so right. There are times when you have to buckle down and work towards a goal, and there are times when you need to take a break and give yourself the space to feel at ease.

 

xoxo,

Kam

 

 

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

In my post about The University of Missouri, I mentioned that I agree to some extent that my generation is overly sensitive or “too coddled,” as many are saying. I wrote then, and stand by my word, that this does not apply to what happened at Mizzou and what continues to happen with racial injustice across campuses and cities around the country. However, I do want to share my thoughts on when it does apply and why I think this is happening.

I guess my first point is the fine line between raging against a longstanding system and being too sensitive. The reason I don’t think Mizzou had to do with sensitivity is because racism has and continues to be a system on which our country operates. That is a fact. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. When students say, “Hey I’m not going to be a pawn in this system anymore,” they are choosing to stop complying with the mechanics of this system and trying to make a change. When a student says, “This is offensive I don’t want to hear it,” they are being too sensitive. I mean this especially in the case of education. Like if a student says, “I’m not reading Huckleberry Finn because it uses the N-word,” I would say that’s being overly sensitive. That is inhibiting their own education because certain things were more acceptable in that time period. Do you see the difference?

People now are just looking for someone to blame. A lot of fingers are pointing at me and my generation for just being too sensitive and overly coddled. This is funny because last I checked we didn’t raise ourselves. Not to say that parents are to blame either. But we have to look at the timeline of my generation.

We are the participation trophy generation. Since I started t-ball at age 5, I was showed that if I showed up, I would get a trophy. Our coaches (who were often our parents) told us that everyone was good enough no matter how much better or worse you did than the other kids. There was still a prize at the end of the season.

We are the “No Child Left Behind” generation. I had my first standardized test in 3rd grade. As a ten-year-old, I was responsible for determining the funding my school received. Maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but I’m pretty sure I’m not far off. From then on, I was a test score before I was a student.

We are the selfie generation. Yes. Social media has doomed us all. Myspace came out when I was 7. Facebook the year after. So by the time I was old enough to join, I could already have 100 people be my “friend” and pay attention to whatever I wanted to say. In a way, social media is a lot like a participation trophy. Anyone can join, and at least one other person will likely give you a thumbs up just for typing the words, “I farted.”

It’s no wonder we’re soo messed up. We are the first generation that has hardly lived in a time where we couldn’t send a message to millions of people in an instant. We have become dependent on that ability to gain attention without working towards acclamation.

This is not to say my generation is a generation of underachievers. I think we will end up being a generation of amazing overachievers, but we’re not quite there yet. We need to figure out how to use all this power for good. I think we’re starting to do that, every time we post something and say, “Why is no one talking about this?” Every time we use our smartphones to help our parents and grand parents, we’re using that power for good. Every time we post meaningful things online we’re using that power for good.

I think the misuse of that power is a big source of that oversensitivity. If we’re not being praised for insignificant action, we play the victim because it’s an easy way to gain that attention back. I think it’s stupid. I think it’s childish. And too often, it’s not just annoying to other people, it’s inhibiting our own growth. We use these catchphrases we learn online like “politically correct” and “triggering” to describe situations that have nothing to do with such adjectives, and suddenly we’re putting ourselves in a corner because the world is “too offensive.”

Look, friends, it’s easy for me to say it because I have always been tough-skinned (I’m the youngest of 4, I had to be), but grow up. If you feel attacked, don’t cry about it, do something about it. If you feel opposed, form an argument. If you feel like someone doesn’t understand you, try to understand them. We have all our priorities messed up, and this idealistic society we think we’re creating is not going to work. There’s always going to be a hater, but crying in the corner isn’t going to get rid of them.

xoxo,

Kam

 

In Retrospect…

I recently started binge-watching an iconic American tv show from the late 90’s, and I noticed something. First, there are no characters of color. Every once in a while one will pop up in some exoticized fashion, but will never stay for more than an episode. Second, there is only one recurring homosexual character, and he is so minor, he doesn’t even have a plotline. Finally, in one episode a group of transgender women are verbally harassed and called “trannies” and made a spectacle of. And I keep thinking, “How did they get away with this?”

Then I thought about the history class I’m taking this semester. We had a discussion about Christopher Columbus and the horrible genocide he committed and all the atrocities he brought to this land in the name of discovery. My class got into a bit of a heated discussion about whether or not Columbus knew what he was doing was wrong. Slavery was acceptable and normal in those days. And racism wasn’t even a term it was just the brown natives who weren’t really “people.” But we read an account of someone who saw what Columbus was doing and said it was horrific. So arguably, Columbus was capable of seeing his actions as what they were- horrible.

I compare the two events because I want to talk about hindsight. We look back at the past and say “Wow slavery was awful,” and “Man Columbus was a terrible man.” While both of these statements are true, very few people would have agreed with us in 1492. And now watching this 90’s TV show I think, “So whitewashed,” “Ugh so transphobic,” when in reality the creators likely didn’t know any better. The race thing, I mean, they did know better, but it wasn’t as big of a talked-about issue back then. Of course, that doesn’t make it okay, but to my knowledge Viola Davis wasn’t a household name back then.

Either way, my point is: change takes time. I have seen posts on tumblr and places about how terrible 90’s television was because it was homophobic and all white cast. And while I’ll agree it sucks Danny Tanner never made it out of the closet, it was a different time. We should have known better, but we didn’t. We do now. It’s getting better in some areas- TV casting at least a little bit.

Today’s society is changing every minute. It feels like every second there’s a new gender identity I have to recognize or a new social justice issue I have to be sensitive to. I’m not complaining, I just want the victims to know that I’m trying. I can’t speak for everyone because I know there are and always will be people who aren’t willing to change. But for those of us that are trying, give us a break, and help us to learn. I’m gonna make mistakes, I already have. But correct me, and help me learn from it and I’ll know better next time. Acceptance is a learning process, not a permanent engraving on the brain. For those of you not willing to change, try it out. You might like what you find.

xoxo,

Kam