Archive of ‘Friendship’ category

Letters to Myself: When I Have a Teenage Kid

When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.

So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”

1)   Don’t wear saris when I pick my kids up from school. Try to be cool like the other moms and wear jeans.

Not wearing mom jeans = uncool!

Under the Bleachers and Far Away

“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.57.14 PM

The other night I was talking to an old friend about nothing and everything. We somehow ended up talking about a reality show, since everything in my life has about two degrees of separation from the Bravo Network. The subject moved to the storyline of one of the the women that appears on this show. I don’t know her, but she seems like a really sweet woman with an amazing personality, which says a lot for anyone represented on reality television. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of them DON’T seem like real “quality” people. Quite the opposite, even.

Anyway, I would guess that this woman is about 40 years old. I can’t say for sure, but she seems so nice, like she would give you the shirt off her own back.

Apparently, however, she has a reputation for not having a shirt on her back.

“Yeah, I heard she used to be a real slut in high school,” my friend mentioned casually. “My friend Rich went to high school with her. Apparently she used to have a reputation and used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Hmmm.

I thought about the woman in question. For the past few years, she has lived her life on television and allowed people to see her as a mother, a friend and a wife. This is reality television so take it for what it’s worth, but she seems kind, she seems loving and she seems like she works hard to have a good life.

But for whatever reason, to some people, she will be known always as the “girl who used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Over twenty years ago.

The whole conversation made me sad. I don’t know, nor do I care to know what choices this woman made about her sexuality when she was younger. I doubt they define her and I highly, HIGHLY  doubt that any male who participated in the activity is still remembered by anyone for whatever it was that he did under the bleachers with her.

Which takes me back to how I started this post. When I was a little kid and played dolls with my female friends, we talked about our dreams.

“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.”

“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.”

“When I grow up, I want to get married and have two kids named Chanel and Coco.” (Ok, ok. Only once).

You know what I didn’t hear?

“When I grow up, I want to be a whore.”

“When I grow up, I want to be known as the girl who gives guys a good time.”

“Maybe if I work really hard I can become a pole dancer one day.”

No, these are not things that I hoped for as a young woman. I don’t remember any of my friends having those aspirations either.

The names that women are called for choices they make around their sexuality are brutal and meant to debase. We might not live in the day and age of a Scarlet Letter, but society shows a woman a huge double standard when it comes to her sexuality. It’s no wonder that the names women get called who are deemed as “too sexual”  carry such a stigma. They are meant to cause shame. They are meant to devalue her.

Which is why, as a woman, I make a conscious effort not to look at another woman as “a slut”, as “a whore”, or any of these other terms that get thrown around a little too comfortably and reduce a woman’s identity to the lowest common denominator. Society might be telling me to call her such a name.

I choose not to.

We’re playing on the same team here, sisters.

When I look back at high school and I look at the girls with a “reputation”, I see things a little differently now. They weren’t professional hookers at 16. They were lost and they were confused and they could have done with some light in their life.

To any girl I may have judged in high school because perhaps I’d “heard things about you,” I’d like to apologize. I look back at the young women you were and while we may not have always run in the same circles, I certainly judged you. I regret that and wish that instead, I had extended a hand in friendship and supported you.

Maybe if you been given a little more light and less judgement in your own life, you might not have mistaken love as one night of the quarterback’s affections.

I made my own mistakes later in life, I will admit. My college years were fueled by insecurity, pain and alcohol. I don’t really want to know what names I might have been called. I do know that my sorority named me “Most Likely to Hook up at a Mixer” which wasn’t even fair because I didn’t even go to mixers.

I don’t think that those years define me, but they certainly play a role in shaping who I am today. The sum of my parts are not comprised by my best days alone. They include my mistakes and my weaknesses, which I believe I continue to learn from.

I hope one day I can watch my Bravo television in peace, with my glass of wine in my hand, the kids tucked into bed and the dishes miraculously done. Where I can watch a woman act like a moron on national television while she drinks too much chardonnay, flips over a table and pulls her friend’s hair weave in a cat fight.

Just doing what they do on any given Tuesday.

Just don’t tell me what she did under the bleachers 20 years ago. I don’t care.

And neither should you.

XO.

Kiran








Why Don’t We Just Chill?

I don’t have many friends who are models or on television. I do have a handful of friends who I sometimes get a get the opportunity to see unexpectedly, like when I’m waiting for a route canal and open a magazine at the Dentist’s office. This never becomes dull – I get excited every time. I still think it’s cool when we see our friend Craig peddle pretzels in commercials on television or notice my friend Sang’s cousin, Gene, on the Tempur-pedic brochure at the mattress store. In fact, I am pretty sure the reason we bought a Temper-pedic bed was because Cousin Gene looked like he was having so much fun on it. In a PG kind of way, of course.

The other person I see from time to time is my friend, Jennifer.

THIS is Jennifer.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 4.44.41 PM

Every once in a while I’ll open a magazine and see that beautiful face smiling back. Every time, it’s a wonderful surprise.

Jennifer and I met almost 12 years ago when were being whored out for charity.

Ok, well, not exactly. We were in a “Buy a Date” auction to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. So, not “technically” whored out, but yeah. Pretty much.

Jennifer moved out to Los Angeles about 7 years ago. We’ve stayed in touch, mainly so I can tell her how excited I am every time I see her in a magazine or on T.V. (“Hey, that’s my friend Jenni! I KNOW her!”). I love her perspective on racial identity, feminism and just, you know.

Being awesome.

I wanted Jennifer to share something with you today. She is on an amazing journey – one that she is documenting to share with women everyone.

Check it out.

I don’t remember exactly how Kiran and I got roped into the “Buy a Date” auction.  I do remember that some blonde chick convinced us it was for a good cause so we agreed to do it.   Now that really I think about it, I agreed to do a lot of crazy things in my mid-twenties.

Wearing a red strapless gown and a “Hello My Name Is” sticky badge with a number instead of my name, I watched as The Ballroom filled with people. I was seriously regretting my charitable contribution.

“What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t do this.”

Thank goodness for Kiran. Looking completely amazing in her black slinky dress, she oozed the confidence I longed for.  She gave a quick pep talk and I was almost convinced I’d survive the evening. We made a pit stop at the bar for a couple shots.  Now, I’m ready.

“Let’s do this.”

As I watched Kiran sashay her way across the stage, I admired her fearlessness; it gave me the courage to attempt to do the same for my turn on stage.

Honestly, after the MC announced my name, I don’t remember one second of my time on stage.  The only reason I know I came out from behind the curtain, didn’t trip over the hem of my dress and fall flat on my face is because someone gave me a picture a couple weeks later.  Yes, an actual Kodak piece of paper.  The photo showed me, with a real smile not the terrified one I imagined, standing tall center stage.

I’m so thankful to have a friend like Kiran. Her beautiful spirit has inspired me in more ways than she probably knows.  She’s a thoughtful, supportive friend and a loving, hard working mother who dares to share her authentic self, which is one of the boldest things anyone can do.

I am honored by her invitation to contribute on Masala Chica.  Here goes nothing:

After ending yet another relationship, shortly before my 35th birthday, I had a serious freak-out moment.  Actually it was more than a moment.  It was like a panic month…or three.

Talking to my therapist about marriage, babies and all the grown up stuff people do, I felt behind, like time was running out.

You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally is in her bathrobe crying and saying, “And I’m gonna be 40…Someday.”  Well, that blubbering chick might as well have been me.  Forty was five years away, but looming.

The cold hard truth:  My biological clock was ticking, ticking so loud that everyone around me could hear it.  I had to figure out a way to slow it down.

After weeks of research and soul-searching, I decided to freeze my eggs.

Recently having its “experimental” label lifted, egg freezing is technically known as oocyte cryopreservation.  It’s a break-through technology where a woman’s eggs are extracted, stored and frozen indefinitely.

Unlike men, a woman’s fertility begins to decrease significantly after the age of 35.  In other words, as a woman ages so do her eggs.  Women over 40 have a two out of five chance for a successful pregnancy.

You know what I find the most fascinating about this information?  I didn’t learn it until I was 35!

Women spend the majority of their lives practicing pregnancy prevention.  It’s just what we’re taught.  No one talks about FERTILITY until they’re the position where it has drastically diminished.  So the question becomes – how do we get women to start the fertility conversation sooner?

To get and keep the conversation going, I decided to share my egg freezing journey in a documentary film titled Chill. The goal of the film is to empower and inform women about the reproductive options science and technology have made available today.  Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, we are no longer strictly limited by the time frames of nature.

I know egg freezing isn’t for everyone, but it’s important for women to know it’s an option.  I chose to do it because I didn’t want to feel pressured to find a partner just so I could have a family. I also wanted to preserve my chance to have biological children.  By freezing my eggs, I’ve extended that possibility.

There have been some notable changes since my eggos went into the freezer.  First, I learned more about fertility in the last year and a half than I have in my entire life…Did you know our ovaries have follicles?  Yeah, well, I didn’t until about a year ago.

Seriously, most of the changes I’ve noticed are emotional.  I no longer feel rushed to choose a partner.  Most of all, I have less anxiety about what the future holds for me when it comes to family.  I’m so grateful to have taken this journey and I look forward to sharing it with you through Chill.

To read more about my egg freezing experience, check out the Chill blog at http://www.chillthedocumentary.com.  If you’re interested in spreading the word and supporting the film, check out our Indiegogo Campaign. Thank you!

I am glad I got to bring you Jenni today. I think it’s amazing that she is documenting her experience to help other women who might be going through this as well. Help her voice get a little louder and the documentary get more support by sharing this.

Love,

Kiran








How honest are your friends?

“And this wasn’t lying, not really. It was leaving out.” – Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis


A few years ago, I wrote a post about how good friends know what to say to each other in tough situations. They know the difference between being painfully truthful and kindly, gently delivering a message. Other times, they might even tell little white lies to help you get the message. Well, I called it lies, but I realize now what I meant was not necessarily lies… more like, omission?

On Loyalty

This post is a departure from my normal shit. Sometimes I need to get serious. Curses have been kept to a minimum (don’t worry, I will still find a way to insert them). Oh and hoo hoo = vagina. Enjoy.

When our son, Nico, was born, John’s best friend, Craig, and his family bought Nico several gifts the day we returned home from the hospital. One of those gifts was a beautiful, plush blue dog blanket that looked so lush I wanted to rub it against my own cheek and fall asleep. What can I say? I was tired. Pushing a baby out of your hoo hoo can be exhausting.

I thought it would be bad form to steal one of Nico’s first gifts, especially since he was only three days old. Let him develop his motor skills first, I reasoned, so he at least has a fighting chance of defending his belongings.

The truth is, we were incredibly touched by the gift. Craig’s own son had the same blanket since he was a baby. He and that blanket were inseparable. In a moment of creative inspiration, his son called the blanket “Blue Dog.” Craig’s son and Blue Dog went everywhere together. Blue Dog slowly became worn down and in a cruel twist of fate, was decapitated. Realizing that a headless Dog might be somewhat disturbing to their child, his parents quickly bought a new Blue Dog to replace the old one.

But as you probably know, nothing could replace the original Blue Dog.

Nico quickly became attached to his blanket. So inspired by the name our friends had used, we decided to keep the tradition alive and dubbed him Blue Dog as well. At night we would hear Nico gurgling to the dog nonsensically, chattering away about the things that are generally on a child’s mind. When we would check on him, we would find the blanket nestled in his arms. If we ever tried to take it away, Nico would hold onto it, not letting it go even in his sleep.

Nico and Blue Dog in happier times

Knocking, but Nobody Answers

This is a hard post to write. It’s about something that has bothered me for a while. It’s been in my head, but I haven’t unlocked the door on my thoughts to fully get the words out here until now. I get upset every time I go there. My heart hurts, I get a little achy, my throat gets choked up and the tears well up in my eyes. OH. FUCK. I’m losing it already. See what you made me do? Now I have boogers all over me. I never cry pretty. Where are the damn tissues?

Moving on Up? Or Laterally?

Oh – you don’t think I can? Oh because I never have matching socks? hmm. You are right. But can i STILL have a cape? I would really like a cape? Bueller? Mmmm, Bueller?

Not quite sure yet. What I do know is that if you “follow” Masala Chica through the wordpress.com “Follow” functionality, the nifty button that I used to look at with nary a glance and you still want to follow? Well – if you want to continue to follow the blog – can you manually add http://masalachica.com to your reader or subscribe through the feeds.

They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Hells, yeah. I miss you guys. Come back! I got this snazzy new site – seriously pimped it out hardcore – and nobody is showing up. It’s like having a party and sitting around and eating all the cake by yourself because nobody came. Then you go home and drink more because you feel fat which makes you feel fatter.

Nothing good comes of it except swollen ankles and a hangover in the morning.

Sad visual, right? Yeah, no shit.

Don’t make me have fat ankles. That’s just cruel.

Remember. YOU can change the world. Or just give me an ego boost. Which one is easier?

That’s what I thought.

Have a great weekend, peeps.

Kiran, OUT.








Normal

When I was pregnant with my first child, Shaila, I had no idea what pregnancy would be like. My symptoms didn’t seem to fit the bill for what most of my friends went through.

For example, instead of gaining weight, I lost it. The day she was delivered, I actually weighed less than I weigh today.

I fainted frequently. Once on a plane going to a business conference. They almost landed the plane for me because they thought I needed immediate medical attention. I assured them that they didn’t need to, so they booted out the people sitting in my row so I could lie down. Little kids would come up to me and poke me to make sure I wasn’t dead.

I couldn’t walk straight for months and without pain. I heard about things like – ok – this is embarrassing – hemorrhoids – and stuff – but I mean, this was ridiculous. I could have sat in a vat of Preparation H and I would still have been miserable.

I STILL think I walk a little funny.

But no matter what, I remember the excitement. The anticipation. Getting excited for my visits with my doctor and the ultrasounds. My god, the ultrasounds. Could there be anything more exciting than getting your belly lubed up to see that amazing little heartbeat? To see the flutter of tiny feet?

I liked my Doctor well enough, but I felt like her nursing staff was pretty cold. I know that they have been through and seen all of this a million times, but for a first time mother, it’s all new. I even remember asking the nurse if there was a special way I should pee in the cup. You know – something different I should know about. She looked at me like I was speaking another language and ignored me.

And maybe I did ask some stupid questions. I think John did too. We just weren’t prepared and those appointments felt like a lifeline to the child we hadn’t yet met.

I remember when they did my blood screening to test me for any indication of Down Syndrome. No biggie, I thought.

Just another test.

I received a call a few days later. I was in a meeting at the office so I let it go to voicemail. When I came back to check the message, I found there was a message from a nurse from the office. This is what I heard:

“Hi, Mrs. Fer-nan-dee-nez.” It’s Ferrandino, people. Ferrandino.

“We’re just calling you to let you know that your test for Down Syndrome came back abnormal. Call us back so we can schedule an ultrasound. Have a great day!”

My heart started pounding and I went into a panic. What does this mean I thought? I settled into a private office and called the office back. When the nurse got on the line, she told me in a dry voice – very dry – that yes, my tests were abnormal, but that they could get me in for an ultrasound in ten days.

Me: But what does abnormal mean?

Nurse: Your numbers came back higher than normal.

Me: How much higher?

She gave me some numbers which basically could have been Greek to me. I told her I needed to talk to a Doctor right away. Like ASAP or this bitch (me) was gonna go apeshit on them.

When a Doctor from the practice called me, she gave me more information. She also explained that they like to verify early to give the mother a chance to decide whether to keep the child or terminate in the event that Down or something more serious is confirmed.

I remember being in a daze and crying and calling John and us being in shock. When I called my brother, who is a Doctor, he kind of calmed me down – he explained that the test puts out a large umbrella and there was a high likelihood that my child would not have Down Syndrome. That relieved me. My child could be normal.

But of course, I didn’t go home and just relax. I went on boards for parents of children with Down Syndrome. I read their stories. I cried. I cried for them. Not just tears of sadness, but of happiness – because all of these parents loved their children like crazy. Because you got the sense that each of the families with a Down Syndrome child seemed to take it more as a blessing – that they had been chosen for this for a purpose.

To love that child uniquely. As only they could.

When John and I discussed what we would do if further tests came back positive, we both agreed we would want to keep the baby. That we would want that baby no matter what and we would re-define what normal was going to be.

It ultimately did not come down to that. Shaila did not show any markers during the ultrasound. When I was pregnant with Nico I told them I did NOT want the test. That it would not change my decision.

This year, one of my best friends in the world welcomed a beautiful baby girl into her family’s life. The baby is beautiful. She is perfect.

She has Down Syndrome.

She does have some health complications that need to be addressed and until she is fully stabilized, I don’t think my friend and her husband will get much rest. They both work full time, have a two year old in tow and are in and out of the hospital for procedures. Right now, life is really, really hard.

But they are blessed. And the baby is blessed to be born into that wonderful family.

Nobody is making light of the challenges that lie ahead. Nobody is that naive. But my friends will do whatever they can to make sure that baby loves her life. And while she is blessed to have them, they are equally blessed to have her. Because she will also make sure that they love their lives too.

As John Franklin Stevens, a Special Olympics athlete, so eloquently said in response to Ann Coulter’s hateful tweet the other night in which she referred to President Barack Obama as a “retard”:

“…Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”

In speaking and hearing stories from mothers of childrens with Down Syndrome, both joy and loss are felt at the same time. The love for that baby in your arms. But the loss of certain expectations of the kind of life that baby will now lead.

One of the hardest things I think parents of children with special needs have said they deal with is fear of how their child will be treated. And you think to yourself, maybe kids can be cruel, right? But over time, through education, people learn and understand and appreciate and love. Isn’t that what growing up is about? Overcoming ignorance?

But when you see dumb shit like this?

You realize that ignorance knows no bounds. And ignorance has a voice. A very loud one.

I received some criticism of the letter I wrote to Ann Coulter yesterday (which I am sure she is just continually mulling over). Some said that I was TOO nice. But a few asked if I was just as bad as Ann Coulter in mocking her.

I don’t know. Am I?

Perhaps I am. And if that’s the case, I apologize.

Oh, who am I kidding? NAH. She is like the spawn of Satan, people. For anyone who said my letter is as bad as half the shit that comes out of her mouth, get a freaking reality check.

I know that you cannot fight hatred with more hatred. Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau all taught me that.

But for now the thing that’s first and foremost in my mind is that she owes people an apology. President Obama can take care of himself. But for the individuals and families who deal with the challenges of special needs EVERY DAY, she most certainly should be apologizing.

One thing I have learned is that there is no normal. Parents and families will love their kids no matter what – and normal is redefined for every family every day.

Ok. I will stop writing about her now. I am done. My lips are sealed. I will not mention her name on this blog again. PROMISE.

Until the next time she says something horrifying.

Which, gosh. Could be any day?

Ah well.

Kiran








1 2