Friday, July 31, 2009

Biraciality and other odds and ends

So I'm just barely now reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, a birthday present from my dad last year (before the election was over), and I'm honestly impressed. (Although I do feel kind of dorky reading a book by the president. USA! USA! USA!)

I mean, I'm not even past the introduction and I'm nodding in agreement. Let me quote this paragraph:
When people who don't know me, black or white, discover my background (and it usually is a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose -- the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds.
And let me say that I have had exactly this feeling before.

Another thing I watched recently is volume two of The Black List on HBO. (No, I have not yet fully clued in to the fact that I can't afford cable anymore. Petty indulgences are the American Way!) Here's the trailer.

Anyway, Maya Rudolph is in it, and she talks about being biracial, and how everyone always wants her to choose, and actually, she doesn't have to choose, thankyouverymuch. And I've had that feeling too.

Which made me think of the several occasions that I've had to choose, for Abbie, when filling out this or that government form for this or that government program. The first time I had to fill in the little spot next to "race" I didn't know what to put for her. I mean, she's Irish-German-Italian-Afro-Cuban-Chinese. Where's that bubble? I remember trying to explain to the lady behind the desk and getting a blank stare in return, and an insistence that I had to fill in something. I just put "white" on these forms now, although it doesn't feel right at all.

Anyway, back to my book, although I hope to leave enough of it for beach reading. Have I mentioned I'm going here in a few weeks? (Thank you, Dad! Best graduation present ever! Summa cum laude, bitches!) Any recommendations for nice places to eat on Kauai that are also cheap and not touristy? I hate being a tourist, it makes me think of this movie (come to think of it, though, I don't know that, other than a honeymoon in San Francisco, I've actually ever been a tourist). Although, damn, do I need a vacation like, right now. I think my mind is already there, waiting for my body to join it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So I'm going to Kauai in August.

My graduation present from my father and stepmother is a trip to the ludicrously beautiful island of Kauai.


Which means I have to buy a bathing suit.


What I really want is this but even Esther Williams thinks I'm too fat to wear it.

Actually strike that. What I would actually feel comfortable in is this, but I don't feel like giving my money to people who think the clothing choices of women serve as "stumbling blocks" to others. I'm considering this paired with these as a substitute, but since I can't afford any of it and am only getting a bathing suit because my sister is making me and my mom said I could put it on her Lane Bryant card, I will have to go with one of these, none of which I like and if I might like a few of them they don't come in my size.

Sigh. I don't *need* a bathing suit, do I? I'm not even a good swimmer.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Meant to post this last week.

But I've been busy. There are a few lingering things I wanted to say about Michael Jackson. For posterity, I guess.

I was a kid in the 1980s, when Michael was at the (post-pubescent, anyway) height of his stardom, back when his fey elfin qualities seemed cool and not creepy, and before his obvious taste for facial plastic surgery went beyond affectation and into the realm of disturbing self-mutilation. My father bought "Thriller" (on cassette tape!) the day it was released and played it relentlessly. Like many black kids of the 80s, Michael Jackson was an icon of my youth. So the news of his untimely passing should have been more striking to me than it was.

But it failed to elicit more from me than a sense of confusion, that such a character, a creature made entirely of tabloid photos and courtroom allegations, would die so suddenly. One half expected a 90-year-old MJ to have himself cryogenically frozen alive, awaiting a future where new noses could be grown from stem cells and doctors had discovered a cure for vitiligo. To die of cardiac arrest at age 50 didn't seem *weird* enough. But it wasn't sad, per se. I think what happened is that the cool, slick Michael of my childhood died long ago, right about the time Elvis's daughter dumped him and he started naming children he conceived via surrogate after himself. The Michael that influenced Usher and Justin Timberlake was already long gone.

That is, until the final moments of his circuslike, televised funeral service, when his eleven-year-old daughter began to cry for her lost daddy, whom she loved so much. Then I realized that Michael was not a lost style icon or misguided pop star, but just a regular human being like the rest of us who left behind a saddened family in the wake of his departure. This is the fate that awaits us all. The transformation of the young, stylish, talented Michael Jackson into the bizarre Norma Desmond-like figure of the latter half of his life was tragic, but it can't compare to the loss of a child's father.