Miss Indian American

Okay, so I’ll get right to the point. Really America? Not the country itself, but the self-proclaimed “forward” thinking people who so fearlessly used twitter and other social media outlets to lash out anonymously against another child of this country. America is NOT for white people only. America is for IMMIGRANTS. America is a country built FOR immigrants BY immigrants. This country was not built with one race, ethnicity, or gender in mind; it was built as a refuge or all those who were unable to be themselves elsewhere.

Don’t believe me? Read the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which gives FULL U.S. citizenship and thus rights to a person born on U.S. soil or naturalized by the federal government. Yes, that means if you were born here in this country or were naturalized by the government, you too are an AMERICAN. The Constitution is not race specific, it is not ethnicity specific, and it is not gender specific.  All can revel in the sheer brilliance and Utopian ideology of our forefathers. 

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I am specifically talking about the historical and monumental decision to crown the very first Indian-American Miss America, Nina Davuluri. I do understand that it was not necessarily the majority of the populous of that indulged in racist, demeaning, and disgusting behavior. However, it’s logical to assume younger generations use social media outlets. It’s also safe to assume those young people grew up in progressive times and boast progressive ideals. Ergo, it’s UNACCEPTABLE for the country’s young people to be filled with such hatred and use anonymous social media outlets to spew hate.

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I am Indian. I am also American. I don’t believe that being Indian makes me less of an American or vice versa. For me a huge part of the beauty of Ms. Davuluri’s victory is that America has progressed to the point where diversity can be openly celebrated. I also personally believe that Ms. Kansas was highly qualified and should have been a top contender. If she would have won…I would have been really happy. So would have social media outlets. There would be a fraction of the backlash, if even that. By focusing on Nina Davuluri’s SKIN COLOR, people tried to take away from her victory and make it a race issue. Miss America is about celebrating diversity and the achievement of women in this country.

Maybe I’m just using social media to express myself as those people did…The difference is between using hate or love as a platform. I may have even offended some people. If so, I apologize. It was totally unintentional. Please leave comments as I’d love to have some real dialogue about this topic. If I see hate I will delete it and report you, so please keep the hate outta here!

Darwin & Mozart Take Over the World

Sometimes I have the urge to write, the emotions to write, the insistent itch in my fingers to get the thoughts out of my mind, soul, and body and on to paper..or e-paper in this case. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes those words are not ripe enough to be plucked from my mind, harvested in my thoughts, and then be distributed across the internet for whomever to read. Writing often feels like a sales pitch, especially when writing for someone to read. In essence it is.

Why you ask? I shall tell you.

It’s a sales pitch because you want the reader to relate to your words, disagree with them, be enraged by them, find them to be a soothing balm in their otherwise painful life, or elicit a giggle from them. One writes to evoke any type of emotion from the reader. One writes because it is an outlet for emotions; the keyboard is a palette and the words colors.

Music has that same effect on people. Music can transport you to a time and a place deep in the boroughs of your heart. Music can entice emotions and scents once forgotten. Music can force the heart to beat and blood to violently pump through the veins in rage. Music can calm a raging tempest, bring empires to its knees, rally a generation to fight back, and even bare ones fiercest kept secret; their soul.

Together, words and music can placate nations or be used as a weapon. It depends solely on how one chooses to use their words and music. For lack of better words, for good or for evil. It may not be as black and white as I have made it out to be, but my words are used in such a way, that the idea seems possible to some. The gravity of truly understanding the effect words and music have on people and to continue to use them to influence others is comparable to the red pill of the matrix. Once you have seen its potential, it’s impossible to walk away from it. 

For me, words became a source to connect with people. I didn’t realize their true potential OR what I could do with them until I wrote “Burgers and Chai”. (http://brownie26.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/burgers-chai/). That ONE post changed EVERYTHING. No longer was I just an 22 year old woman, I was now one more voice vying to be heard through the white noise of life. One more voice trying to share my story. One more voice that was heard.

Music and words alike are mesmerizing, beautiful, intangible masterpieces. Not only for what you read or hear, but more importantly their effects. Those two sublime forms of expressions can literally shape a person. The implications of that are phenomenal and awesome.

Think on that. I know I will.

Personal Pleasers

By definition of this interesting article I was reading earlier, a “People Pleaser” is:

“…a person who commits themselves to boosting the well-being of other people, even when doing comes at an emotional, physical, or economic expense.”

Somehow that struck a chord with me. As I continued reading, I read that people pleasers will comply with requests because they want to make people happy, gain approval, etc. Basically it’s because they can’t…no, can’t is the wrong word. It’s because the don’t want to say no.

“They find it virtually impossible to deny any request, even when doing so causes chaos in their own lives or best-laid plans.”

WOW. Doesn’t this sound familiar. I will not bore anyone with the details of the article, though I found it to be fascinating, but I do encourage you all to go and read it. Then come back and tell me if you fit the profile. I feel like society demands us to please. We’re conditioned from an early age to do so. Do something right: get a treat. Do something wrong: get punished. Why does it always have to be so black & white.

I have 2 questions: Why is it such a bad thing to say no? Why are the people that do what they want called selfish?

Lately I’ve been having problems with black & white worlds. There is a world of color around us, so then why is it so difficult for people to compromise and find some kind of middle ground. Ideally, it’s the most logical thing to do. I think there is more than meets the eye to the “gray area” we all so lovingly use as our scapegoat when we don’t want to be heartless enough to say no, yet not giving enough to say yes. This gray area enables us to not have to choose. The gray area allows us to be personal pleasers. By using the concept of the gray area, we can get out of pleasing others without the shame and guilt that can accompany someone whilst saying no. We  can also we feel the sense of pride and accomplishment that accompanies not saying yes.

Where does it leave the rest of us? Those that are decisive in their actions and words. Those that do not waste time with the frivolity of fancy language and games.

I feel that people pleasing and the lack of is a way we avoid living our lives; by completely focusing all of our time and energy on something or someone else, we can effectively avoid making any wrong decisions in our lives. We can relieve others of the responsibility of pleasing us.

But to what end?

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1743556/the_people_pleasing_personality_please_pg3.html?cat=72

It’s Getting Personal.

I know I know I know. I slacked. Not like a little bit, but truly a horrendous amount. I haven’t written anything since 2011. Well you know what? It’s because a dog ate my computer. A tornado blew my passwords away. A monkey told me blogging was evil. I got busy with City Year. I was too tired to write. I didn’t have anything good to write about. I was without motivation. I….those are all terrible and tired excuses.

Truth is, I just didn’t think it was that important anymore to write. I had a muse, if you will, that inspired some amazing thoughts in my head…once that muse as gone…well I associated my writing, my blog, with that muse and it brought on painful memories.

Sidenote: You’ll notice that this is probably one of the rare times that I am talking about myself in my blog. I’ve tried all this time to not get personal, to leave ME out of my blog, but I think you’ll see a little of that changing.

Back to business, SO what have I been doing for almost two years?

I was in City Year. The best decision of my life. I met incredible people, I worked in a diverse environment, I was surrounded by positivity, compassion, tolerance, and IDEAS. I thought I was going to move to San Antonio, work in an at-risk school with underprivileged kids and change their lives. I was wrong. They changed mine.

Whilst pulling twelve hour days, often 8 days a week, I was planning for my wedding. Yes, I got married. How time flies and things happen. I moved from sunny, beautiful, perfect, bustling Houston to Kansas City, MO. Was it worth it? Hell yes. Do I hate the winters? Boy, do I ever.

My wonderful husband and I were having a very candid conversation last night, and he asked me why I looked so unhappy. I commented that since moving, I hadn’t really found something I could put all my energy and stress into. I have began crafting, and below is the result of one of my recent endeavors.

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This is a thrift store table that I refinished and painted.

Anyways, he questioned me on why I didn’t write anymore, and I just gave him excuses…but the truth is…writing has always been my release. The only way I know how to get emotions out of my body and soul, is to write them down, put them somewhere, and let go of whatever it is I am feeling.

Et voila! Je suis ici!

I am going to challenge myself to really commit back to one of my true loves this year! Wish me luck, and I hope you’ll support me on this journey.

Until next time, you stay classy San Diego.

City Year: A Positive Can-Do Lifestyle

City Year is an education based non-profit organization that takes 17-24 year old young adults from all over the country and gives them the opportunity to serve in inner city schools with at-risk youth. With specialized small group and one on one interventions in Math and English, we aim to help reduce the drop out rate. (The views and opinions below do not reflect City Year or Americorps.)

 

“Yup in my white tee, name tag so you know me I got spirit you can hear it, and a smile for a while…”  As my team hollers our readiness check at the top of our lungs while the sun sleepily rises around us encircling our school in a goldish halo,  I can’t help but feel a profound gratitude for where I am in my life.

City Year San Antonio has been the biggest blessing in my life, but it has also been the hardest commitment I have ever made.  I first heard about City Year from a friend of mine that had taken on a year of service in New York. Intrigued, I perused the site (www.cityyear.org) and decided right then and there I had to apply. I applied, got in, and made my merry way to San Antonio, but I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. After I arrived in San Antonio, myself and the other 80 new corps members from different parts of the country came together at the historical Barbara Jordon Community Center in the Eastside of San Antonio for Basic Training Academy. Whilst at BTA we were put through two weeks of intensive training and ice breakers. We were trained in math & English tutoring, behavior modification, working with children, and the social, emotional, and psychological needs of students. We were also forced out of our comfort zones to meet and get to know a room full of strangers, share personal stories, and create a bond that has become the foundation for all the corps feels and accomplishes. A lot of the trainings were frustrating because they were so abstract, but little did I know how useful they would really be.

Most of the students I work with have little to no consistency in their lives; they come from homes where one or both parents are missing or are just generally unavailable. There is mentality that many of my students cling on to and that is the mentality of being ‘tough’. Their surroundings force them to grow up too early, and many of my 11-13 year old students already have gang affiliations and know more about drugs then I could ever imagine was possible. They live in areas where crime is rampant, education is an option, and diversity is non-existent. With that said, my students are my pride and joy.  They are unbelievably intelligent, excel at sports, and have amazing insight into the world around them.  They make the long hours, the constant hard work, the unending planning and executing worth it.  All my students need is someone to listen to them, someone to believe in them, someone to tell them that they are worth something and that their opinion matters. City Year has blessed me with that opportunity. I am able to wake up every morning at obscenely early hours and saunter into work with a smile on my face because I know that what I am doing matters.

City Year’s methods are proven to help increase attendance in schools, decrease behavioral problems, and increase students’ grades with our 1:1 and small group intervention methods.  This is because City Year is incredibly data driven and we track all the time spent with students and our intervention methods. That way, we can talk to other sites and trade best practices. Corps members receive training in how to effectively teach and tutor material that is imperative for students and we have the freedom to implement our methods in fun and creative ways that allow our students to understand that learning is fun and does not have to be monotonous or a chore. Corps members run before and after school clubs and tutoring for students and we also have lunch clubs.  Not only do corps members aim to increase students’ educational opportunities by providing the necessary tools, City Year also focuses on community betterment via community events like block parties, game nights, parent engagement activities.

 

I could talk about City Year all day every day, and not just because of the work that I do, but also because of the people I have met. I came into City Year thinking I was going to impact people and change lives, but because of the opportunity I was fortunate enough to receive, my life is changed every.single.day. I learn something new from the people around me, I’m taught to breakdown social and economical barriers because of where I serve, and most importantly, I am finding myself. When I am older and I look back on my life, I can say with certainty that City Year will be my biggest accomplishment, and my most difficult endeavor in life.

Review: City Lights

I check the clock…5:36 pm…then I do a double take. This cannot be possible. I have been jamming in my tattered maroon Oxford University jumper for 2 hours now? To the exact same set of music on repeat? Preposterous. Or is it?

“I stunt, I ball, boy I do it all.”

Listening to City Lights for the umpteenth time , I would have to wholeheartedly concur with those words.

This mixtape has serious swagger. That is not my opinion, that is a fact of life. Every.single.track has its own unique flair and beat. Just when you think you know where the artist is going with his message, Rated-R throws you a colossal curve ball that has you second guessing everything you thought you knew about him.

From the dynamic and humbling introduction to the smooth and stylish outro, the artist does a phenomenal job of taking his listeners on a soulful, sexy, and hip ride. The kind of ride that has you begging for more and has to be taken multiple times for the full effects to be absorbed. Rated-R’s City Lights seamlessly balances sultry tunes with unfeigned and honest pieces that quickly alert the listener that there is more to this young artist than meets the eye.

The tracks that stuck out to me the most include: Sunday, How I Do It, No More ft. Iten, and Not Yours. To me, they are the very embodiment of the balance that makes City Lights incredibly unique and undeniably unforgettable. Not only do the lyrics have a harmony between being meaningful and provocative, they also include beats that are to die for. Each track had me bumpin’ and grindin’ in my seat, but also held the ability to bring me back down to a more calm state of mind with its symmetry. Drake’s influence on the artist’s style is noteworthy, via the subtle tribute in Ride It ft. Real T, TYC:

“She fancy yeah, she fancy yeah”

City Lights has become an instant favorite in my book, and I cannot wait to hear more from this clearly talented and ambitious young artist. Mad props to you Rated-R; stay true to yourself and you’ll continue to produce work that is brilliantly humble and outlandishly confident all at the same time.

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Since facts of life cannot be disregarded,

visit:http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/en/view-album/25560-city-lights

and download City Lights!

Also, you can follow Rated-R on his twitter: rlratedrlott

New City.New Life.Same ol’ Me.

So some of you may be wondering where in the world I disappeared to. What happened was, I was enjoying the mundane banalities of everyday life (no, not really), and then one day, got the sudden urge to make a change. SO I actively engaged in some self-reflection and decided something equally outrageous and life-altering was in order. Queue the months of my Houdiniesque disappearing act. As I smugly hum “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego”, I realize I should have kept some kind of journal about the alterations that ensued once the initial decision had been made to enact said change. Well here I am now, excitingly, albeit belatedly, relaying my thus far amazing adventure to you my dear stalkers.

I moved cities at the end of the summer. Yes, it was exhilarating. Yes, it was equally as terrifying. Prior, I had never lived away from my snug and cozy home. I had never ventured out of the city in which I grew up. Each street held a precious memory, each stoplight carried a hilarious story, each fluttering of the breeze accompanied a lingering laugh, every thunderstorm encompassed a torrent of emotions, and in each star I viewed from my bedroom window, there lived a hope, a wish, a desire. Leaving all of that behind was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Not only for the reasons above, but also because of the people I was leaving. My heart and soul beat solely out of love for my baby brother. He is the light of my life, the reason I am who I am today, and the reason why I chose the path I have in life. He’s influenced my entire life, and that sweet, charismatic, brilliant boy doesn’t even know it. His purity shines through him in a effervescent glow and I pray every day that he never loses it.

Continuing on, the new city I moved to is absolutely wonderful! Honestly, it truly is. Hills galore, so much local art and culture I can hardly bear it, and a unique demographic that has my senses tingling and my heart fluttering. If ever a city was to win my heart over so quickly, I’m glad it’s this one. Every.single.day I see sunrises that take my breath away, every afternoon I smell smells that bring goosebumps to my skin, and make my stomach growl and protest in a very unladylike fashion, every evening I experience the buzzing nightlife; a city filled with millions of souls searching for an unforgettable adventure. I love this city and all the memories we have to offer one another this year.

Now, back to this colossal change I keep harping about, but have yet to tell you of. Shall I delay any longer? No you say, so be it. *drum roll please* I’ve began working at a non-profit organization in this new and beautiful city. It is a brilliant organization that seeks to lower the dropout rate in the country by serving in inner-city schools as coaches, tutors, and role models. The hours are grueling and the pay is miserly, but the challenge…oh the challenge to actually be on the front line and make a difference? Make a real difference…I live for it. This organization is not something you can just do. You have to LIVE it, BREATHE it, ABSORB every aspect of it. In order to truly understand the type of impact you can make, you have to be willing to be told you’re crazy. Because if I really sit back and think about it, all of us that are in this organization have to be at least a little crazy..the good kind of course.

Speaking of people, I am utterly and completely in love with the people I’ve met here thus far. Never in my life could I have imagined that within this world of 7 billion or so people, I would meet a large group of young adults that had the same idealist mindset that I do. We encompass an ideology that is idealistic, yet realistic. Contradictory? Not really. These people I work with strive to make a difference, yet they understand that change does not happen overnight. This task we’ve taken on is a marathon, not a sprint. I am crazy about the people I’ve met, the people I work with, and the lives that are being changed by the goodness around us.

All in All, the transition has been mind blowing, and the stories unending. I will definitely be back with more to share, you can count on that. At the very least, I hope your appetite has been wet for the incredible journey ahead.

You stay classy San Antonio.