The Truth is Out There (aka: Happy Alien Day!)

At last! An official day to celebrate the visitors to this planet — those of the the third kind instead of the first kind. The ones the rest of you usually forget all about, thanks to that mysterious flash of light from the men in black suits. But not today. Today, the world is aware and in awe of the aliens who walk among us.

Yes. Today is Alien Day.

Sorry, immigrants. Not that kind of alien. Today is for the beings from galaxies far, far away. And also this galaxy, seeing as how some of us are from Jupiter. (Trust me folks — if you could meet my family of origin, you’d probably agree that I must be from Jupiter, too). So what shall we do to celebrate the rest of this glorious day? Sing Katy Perry songs? Paint our faces green? Watch The Martian? (Okay fine, Matt Damon played an immigrant to Mars who got stuck on the planet, not an actual martian).

I know — how about a list of the Top Ten Best Aliens? Starting with:

10. The aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s the earliest alien film I can remember, and I used to walk around humming the music they played to communicate.

9. The aliens from Men in Black. Loved how easily they disguised themselves as humans. Most of the time.

8. The aliens from Aliens, for scaring the heck out of all of us with their tendency to hibernate inside of people’s bodies, then hatch from their abdomens like little demon babies covered in goo.

7. The aliens from Toy Story. Who doesn’t love their passionate worship of The Cla-a-a-aw?

6. The aliens from Independence Day, for looking exactly as we all imagined the Roswell aliens must look.

5. Seven-of-Nine. I know, I know, she started off as a human. But once she was assimilated into the Borg, most of her humanity was stripped away. Eventually, she became a highly intelligent badass who was more alien than human, but learning to embrace more of her humanity every day.

4. E.T. With his adorable weird face and love for chocolate, how could he not worm his way into our hearts? Glad you made it home safely, buddy.

3. The aliens from The Arrival, for having such super-amazing technology and learning to communicate so well.

2. The aliens from the Star Wars franchise. Especially Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca. I’d totally count C3P0 and R2D2 if I knew whether droids could count as aliens or not.

1. Superman! Especially as portrayed by Tom Welling in Smallville, followed closely by Christopher Reeve. Other than his alienness and unfortunte allergy to Kryptonite, Clark Kent is pretty much the perfect man. Plus, he can fly.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this brief Alien Day blog party. May you always treasure the strange who walk among you, and never stop believing that The Truth is Out There. Now, if you’ll all just look in this direction and face the rod I’m holding in my hand…


She Be Talkin’ Like a White Girl

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a community where nearly everyone spoke a foreign language. Some families spoke Spanish, some spoke Arabic, or Hindi, or Swedish, or Chinese. And then there was my family, who spoke…well, I am still trying to figure that one out.

Now, I mean my family no disrespect. For better or for worse, they are my family, and I love my parents and siblings dearly. But when I was a kid, I often felt as though my family and I spoke completely different languages. A typical childhood conversation went something like this:

Sister #1: Ain’t y’all got nothin’ better to do than sit up here watchin’ TV?

Me: Well, you should not assume that we are all watching television. In fact, I happen to be reading a novel.

Sister #1: (tongue click) Don’t get smart.

Me: Fine. I’ll get stupid instead. And  by the way, there’s no such word as “ain’t.”

But I was wrong. There was a such word as “ain’t.” My family and relatives used it all the time, and to me, it was even more annoying than listening to static on the radio. They also insisted upon dropping their “g’s” at the end of verbs, and adding words where words were unnecessary. “That dog be barkin’ all night long.”

“Barking,” I would correct. But they didn’t care. My family was quite comfortable with their style of communication. As usual, it was I who was the alien.

“Why you gotta be talkin’ like a white girl all the time?” my relatives would ask, convinced that black people were supposed to speak what I considered to be a substandard form of the English language. “Cain’t you speak like regular folks?”

But no, I could not. Even when I tried my best, I was unable to code switch. Whenever I attempted it, my family would laugh at me.

“She be talkin’ like a white girl tryin’ to sound like a black girl,” they would say. I couldn’t win. So I gave up and continued to speak in my proper, alien, almost-perfect-English language. Until high school, that is. Because I finally learned how to code switch. Well, not to the language spoken by my family. But being a typical Northern California teenager, I became a fluent speaker of Valspeak. ‘Cause like, it was sooo rad, y’know?

“You talk like such a white girl,” my family still told me.

But it no longer bothered me. I just shrugged and said, “As if! Omigawd…what-ever!

MOVIES FEATURING MY FAMILY’S LANGUAGE: Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Boyz n the Hood

MOVIES FEATURING VALSPEAK: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Encino Man, Wayne’s World, Clueless (I also highly recommend the song, The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun)

My Mom, My Sisters, & Me, 1997 (I'm the one in red)