Girl Power! (aka: Barbie, What on Earth Happened to You?)

Techie BarbieFirst of all, let me just say that I was a total Barbie girl. I was one of those girls who stubbornly refused to stop playing with Barbie dolls until long after my middle school peers had already lost interest. I adored her pink, perfect world of glittering outfits, miniature accessories, and stupid plastic shoes that would not stay on her dainty little feet. While other young teens were busy flirting with real-life boys and experimenting with styling their own hair, I was locked away in my bedroom, acting out these same things with Barbie, Ken, and the gang (including a few unfortunate punk haircuts).

Barbie careersTo me, however, Barbie was about much more than wearing cute clothes and having pretend sex with Ken (oh come ON…every girl in the history of Barbie fandom has tried that at least once). Barbie was the ultimate symbol of Girl Power. We girls can do anything! We can be teachers and doctors and zoologists! We can be high-powered office executives by day, and all dolled-up for a smokin’ hot date by night. We can work hard, and then buy ourselves a dream house, a townhouse, a pink camper, and a matching Corvette. If nothing else, the Barbie campaign of my childhood taught us girls that we could have it all and be it all, and still look great doing it.

So what on earth happened?

Computer Engineer Barbie

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave that is deeper underground than my cave, here’s the scoop: Mattel had a book, published in 2010, titled, Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. Like me, many people cheered the concept. Hooray! Barbie is helping to encourage young girls to consider STEM careers, which continue to be largely dominated by men. Good for Barbie! However, as you read the story, you are met with the sad reality – Computer Engineer Barbie is a fraud. Sure, she comes up with a cute idea for a video game, but then she explains to Skipper,

” ‘I’m only creating the design ideas,’ Barbie says, laughing. ‘I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game.’ “

Seriously, Barbie?! You’re a computer software engineer and you can’t do the coding for your own game without help from the men? What’s happened to you? And as if that weren’t disappointing enough, Barbie inserts her flash drive into Skipper’s computer and – whoopsie – ends up infecting the computer with a virus. So, does Computer Engineer Barbie use her brain and her education and disinfect the computer herself? Of course not! She calls the boys, who eagerly offer to remove the virus for her.

” ‘Hi, guys,’ says Barbie. ‘I tried to send you my designs, but I ended up crashing my laptop — and Skipper’s, too! I need to get back the lost files and repair both of our laptops.’

” ‘It will go faster if Brian and I help,’ offers Steven.”

Ugghhh!!! I am guessing that clueless Computer Engineer Barbie had fake sex with her boss in order to be hired for her IT job. Luckily for girls everywhere, Mattel has pulled the disaster of a book and apologized for supporting such garbage. And luckily for everyone, an awesome IT consultant named Kathleen Tuite created the Feminist Hacker Barbie website, where users can edit the original text of the story to create a better version. Twitter users have also chimed in, with their – uh, more colorful editions of the story, using the hashtag #FeministHackerBarbie. One of the coolest things to come out of this whole fiasco has been the number of really smart women, many with IT careers, who have stepped forward to rewrite Barbie’s airhead words (and the patronizing responses of her male coworkers) with much more appropriate and witty dialogue. Now that is true Girl Power.

No Black Brady Bunch (aka: Evolution of Black Family Sitcoms in the 80s)

Diff'rent Strokes sitcom 1978-1986

The only affluent black kids on TV in the early 1980s were the ones rescued from the ghetto by wealthy white people.

Quick! Can you name that black kid from that sitcom around the 70’s and 80’s? No, not the tall skinny ghetto kid who went, “Dy-no-miiiite!” No, not the short, black kid adopted by the rich white family, who always said, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” No, not the other short, black kid adopted by a white family, either. Come on – who was the good-looking black teen boy from the nice, intact family who lived in an affluent neighborhood? Still don’t know?

Silver Spoons mansion

White kids on TV sitcoms in the early 80s were often privileged and affluent.

It is far easier to name white, affluent teens from the same era of television: Mike Seaver, from Growing Pains; Alex Keaton from Family Ties; Ricky Stratton from Silver Spoons; and, of course, all six Brady kids. Like many black kids across the USA, I grew up watching shows such as these, starring these happy, smiling white families with clean, sparkly homes. Their almost-perfect lives were only occasionally marred by white people problems such as teen pimples, first boyfriends, and naughty little sisters who steal your favorite sweater. By the end of each episode, their problems were wrapped up in some simple, cheesy, happily-ever-after way.

In contrast, most of the kids in the predominantly Black television shows lived in run-down homes in the ghetto. Well, with the exception of Webster, and Willis and Arnold, who were rescued from ghetto life by kind, wealthy white folks (Whatcu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?). Black kids from these shows didn’t care about pimples – they were often too busy trying to help their parents find a way to make the rent that month. The themes were heavy by comparison, as black characters dealt with topics such as venereal diseases, sexual abuse, and wrongful accusations of shoplifting. By the end of each episode, these problems were both solved and unsolved, often leaving deep questions hanging in the air for the viewer to ponder.

And I don’t know – maybe I even learned something about social justice and black culture by watching those predominantly black shows. But mostly, I remember feeling a sense of shame, even at a very young age, that the people on the screen who looked the most like me came from such dreadful circumstances. Where was the Black Brady Bunch, with happy smiling kids and nice, educated parents who helped them solve their problems?

The Huxtables

The Cosby Show was like a breath of fresh air for black and white families alike.

Well thank goodness, when I was nine years old, Bill Cosby changed America’s perception of the Black TV sitcom family. At last, we had a family to represent us on-screen who neither lived in the ghetto, nor was “movin’ on up” out of a ghetto. The Huxtables were a respectable and affluent black family with five children. The mother, Clair, was a hard-working and successful lawyer, while the father, Cliff, was an obstetrician with his own private practice.  The Cosby Show dealt with both the lighthearted and the more serious issues of family life with intelligence, sensitivity, and humor. Not only Black families crowded around their televisions to tune in, as it quickly became the most successful television sitcom of the 1980’s.

Rosanne Family

After the Cosby Show’s wild success, new sitcom families, such as the Conners from Roseanne, began to represent a wider variety of American families

The Cosby Show signified a change in American family sitcoms. Not only was there a wider variety of shows featuring black families, but there was also an increase in the number of blue-collar, not-so-sparkly white family shows, such as Roseanne, which became the number one sitcom in the country from 1989 to 1990, and dealt with heavier topics than most white family sitcoms had tackled in the past. Just as many Black families cheered with the arrival of the The Cosby Show, many white families also cheered at the arrival of a family who perhaps better represented them, too. At last, American television  was veering away from the archetypes that had ruled the airwaves for so many years, and opening the door to diverse families and new ideas. And to that, I just have say, “Dy-no-miiite!”

(How’s that for a cheesy ending?)

Down Down Baby (aka: Exploring Children’s Folklore)

girls playing games It is a part of nearly every childhood. It is passed on from one generation of children to the next, and from one side of the country to the other.  From the outside, it looks so innocent: clusters of little girls clapping hands together and singing songs on the playground. So sweet, right? Surely they  are singing about rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.

Completely wrong. Chances are, those little girls were singing something like this:

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster

Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go

Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy rock!

Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy rock!

Ooh chi chi wa wa (a biscuit)

I found a lover (a biscuit)

He’s so sweet (a biscuit)

Like my candy treat (a biscuit)

 Or perhaps:

 

Uno dos ciento

East to west

I met my boyfriend at the candy store

He bought me ice cream, he bought me cake

He brought me home with a belly ache…

Passed down through the ages

 

What’s that you say? These little girls are singing about finding lovers and meeting boyfriends? But they are only children! Well, it is not so unusual. When I was studying child development in university, I came across a number of interesting books chronicling children’s folklore throughout the decades. When one looks at the songs, chants, games, rhymes, and stories shared by children, and passed down from one generation to the next, one thing becomes glaringly evident: childhood is not completely innocent. Children’s folklore is filled with adult themes of violence, sex, racism, and classism, because they see and experience these things, to some extent,  in their actual lives.  Through childish expression of play, music, and games, children often explore and attempt to make sense of the issues which confuse, worry, or frighten them.

These examples which I have shared are fairly innocuous. Truth be told, I am too embarrassed to publish some of the blatantly racist jeers and games that were common among groups of children for many years (“Open the refrigerator, take out a Coke” may ring some uncomfortable bells for a few of you). A number of other rhymes and songs were disturbingly violent.

On top of Old Smokey, all covered with blood

I shot my poor teacher with a .44 slug…

 

Fudge fudge call the judge

Mama has a newborn baby

Wrap it up in tissue paper

Throw it down the elevator…

 

And a larger number of these rhymes and games were based on issues of sex and promiscuity.

 

Apple on a stick, makes me sick

Makes my tummy go two-forty-six.

Not because it’s dirty, not because it’s clean

Just because I kissed a boy behind a magazine.

Hey boys, wanna have fun?

Here comes ______ with her pants undone.

She can wibble, she can wobble, she can do the splits

But most of all, she can kiss kiss kiss!

 

Mama’s in the kitchen, burning rice

Daddy’s round the corner shooting dice

Brother’s in jail, raising hell

Sister’s ‘round the corner, selling fruit-cock-tail

hand clapping games

 

Children’s folklore has been documented for many decades, and in countries around the world. Though there are often variations from one town to the next, it is interesting to note how little the rhymes and games have varied over time. If you were once a child – especially a young girl growing up in the USA, chances are you recognize at least one of the rhymes I have listed here, and probably a few more which you would prefer to forget about. Of course, our own children are much more sheltered than we were as children. Much more innocent, too. Surely, they only play innocent games and sing about rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.

Resources on Children’s Folkore:

One Potato, Two Potato: The Folklore of American Children by Mary Knapp

American Children’s Folklore edited by Simon J. Bronner

Children’s Folklore: A Source Book by Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, and Felicia R. McMahon

Children’s Folkore: A Handbook by Elizabeth Tucker

 

 

 

 

Chaos in Aisle One (Our Hunt for the Last Hostess Twinkie)

 So the kids and I were driving home from school today when we overheard a radio DJ mention how sad it was that the Hostess company was going out of business.

“What?” I shrieked at the radio. “No more Ho Ho’s? No more Twinkies?”

From the backseat, my 8yo asked, “Mom, what’s a Twinkie?”

“WHAT?” I shriek again. And well, okay, it shouldn’t have shocked me that my youngest child has never even tasted a Twinkie, since I am kind of a crunchy granola health nut who never buys such crud for my kids to eat. But the thing is, my childhood was very, very different. Back in the day, I ate many Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, crème-filled cupcakes, and my personal favorite, coconut-crusted SnoBalls. My diet was a childhood wonderland of sugary, spongy deliciousness. In fact, during my unfortunate teenage years, when I was lucky to have an apple to eat for lunch, I considered it a lucky day if I could mooch enough change from my friends to buy a 60-cent package of Hostess Ho Hos. Zero nutritional value, but hey, it was better than starvation.

After the radio announcement, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. Although I had not eaten a single Hostess product in the past two decades, I had a sudden urge to hunt down what may well be the world’s last package of Hostess Twinkies and split them with my deprived children.

We raced over to the nearest Raley’s Supermarket, where I grabbed the arm of the nearest store clerk. “Please,” I sobbed, “Twinkies…must have Twinkies!” The store clerk gave us a sympathetic look and pointed toward aisle one, which had all the chaos and panic of food shortage, with a crush of customers frantically clearing the shelves of every remaining Hostess product.

Okay, fine, none of that actually happened. But we did find a practically empty shelf, with no Hostess products remaining except for a bunch of Zingers. Yuck, Zingers. The next three supermarkets yielded similar results, although we did manage to score a box of Ho Hos and  some crème-filled cupcakes.

“Have you ever seen the movie, Zombieland?” the checkout bagger asked us. “It’s about these people who go on a mission to hunt down the last existing Twinkie in America.”

My mouth dropped open. Wow, a prophetic B-movie! Of course, now I must see that film, although it is probably super-lame. But here I was, dragging my kids from store to store across three towns, desperately trying to find one remaining Twinkie. Alas, we did not. I am sure that the last of the scrumptious golden Hostess icons are probably, as I write, up for auction on EBay for twenty times the original cost. How depressing.

Once we were home, the kids and a couple of neighborhood friends ripped open the boxes, made a farewell toast to the Hostess company, and stuffed ourselves with crème-filled, cakey, frosting covered goodies. To be fair, they tasted about as good as a B-movie full of zombies. But my kids danced around in the autumn leaves, munching Ho Hos, transported to a childhood wonderland of sugary, spongy deliciousness. Thank you, Hostess, for one last wonderful memory.

Let’s Be Young Forever / Por Siempre Joven

Let’s Be Young Forever

 

Your hand clasped in mine

as we tiptoe in bare feet

across the cool, damp grass to the edge of night

and leap

together beyond the veil of time

to when the sunshine warmed our skin

and the mysteries of life were only

things to be pondered

while naming the clouds above our heads

and the only sounds were laughter and music and

love was like breathing.

Take my hand, and we will

run, run, run

across the flowered fields

and fly into the rising sun

forever young

forever young

forever young with you at my side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Por siempre joven

 

Me agarras de la mano

Cuando caminamos de puntillas, descalzo

través de la hierba fresca y húmeda

hacia el borde de la noche

y saltar juntos

más allá del velo del tiempo

a cuando el sol calentaba nuestra piel

y los misterios de la vida eran solamente

cosas que se consideraban

mientras que nombrando las nubes encima de nuestras cabezas

y los únicos sonidos eran de risa y música, y

el amor era como respirar.

Toma mi mano, y vamos a

Correr, correr, correr

Traves de los campos de flores

y volar hacia el sol naciente

por siempre joven

por siempre joven

Life on the Scales (aka Parenting is a Balancing Act)

My daughter likes to watch her brother’s soccer games on one of her only days off from gym.

Today, I am being a bad parent and a good parent at the same time. You see, I am letting my 11 year-old daughter play hooky from school. I know, I know…what an irresponsible mom! But I do have a good reason. My daughter, who is now a level 8 competitive gymnast, is almost never home. Since she is required to train 22 hours per week, nearly every moment of her time is absorbed by school or training for her sport. Even when we do have moments together, driving to schools or the gym, she is usually doing homework. The sacrifice? Time together to swap jokes, talk about books, or learn how to French braid hair. Time to be silly and play pretend or even watch her pet hamster run around his cage. Sit down and eat family meals together? Ha! Five evenings per week, I hand my daughter an insulated thermos full of food to eat during her break.

Sometimes, I feel terrible, as though my kid is missing out on a normal childhood. Her brothers get so much more time to play with friends, to daydream, to bake cookies, and to lie about watching Spongebob cartoons. They get so much more of my personal time and attention. It seems so uneven.

“I don’t mind, Mom,” my daughter told me the last time I expressed these concerns. She is perfectly happy to eat from a thermos and breathe chalk dust 22 hours per week. She would rather swing around the uneven bars or do flips on a balance beam than daydream and play with friends. It is a sacrifice, but for her, the payoff makes it completely worthwhile.

This week, due to the time and financial commitment to her sport, she was unable to join her sixth grade classmates at science camp. So, rather than force her to go to school and be the only kid there, playing hangman and watching movies with a substitute teacher, for today, I decided to let her stay home. What a great morning it has been! We built structures together with Kapla blocks, did housework while listening to music, and then lounged around on the sofa, watching Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Then I taught her how to make the perfect cup of tea, while we discussed the book she is reading, Anne of Green Gables, and we ate warm slices of fresh, homemade bread. Next, we are going to paint our nails and practice French braiding hair. Bad parenting? Maybe. As for me, I call it balance.

Image

Game On! (A Family Legacy of Sport)

“Are you ready for the kickoff tomorrow night?” My mom asked me on the telephone. “Cowboys against the Giants.”

“Um, Mom, aren’t you supposed to wish me a happy birthday first?” I asked, amused.

“Oh yes. That too,” said Mom. “Now don’t forget tomorrow night.”

As if I could. I come from a family that worships at the at the altar of football . It is probably fair to say that growing up in my family, Kickoff Day in September was more revered than the first day of school, and the Superbowl was like the true New Year’s Day. Game Nights were family nights, with everyone gathered around the television, beers and sodas in hand, screaming noisily at the screen.

Okay, everyone except for me. Why? Because I preferred to sit in a corner of the living room with a book to my nose, scowling whenever the room erupted with cries of “TOUCHDOWN!” and “INTERCEPTION!” Football was a sport that grew on me over the years, like smooth jazz music and fine wines.

That said, it was impossible to avoid the influence of my sports-crazy family. From a very young age, I was taught that to speak against the Amazing San Francisco 49ers is like blasphemy. I remember standing outside on our balcony with my brother and sisters, looking toward the glittering lights of the Bay Area, blowing plastic vuvuzelas and screaming with pride that the Forty Niners had just won Superbowl XVI. We memorized the words to the We’re the Forty Niners song, which we played obsessively on the record player and sang at the top of our lungs.

Joe Montana, unarguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time

We’ve got the power!
We’ve got the heart!
We’ve got the soul!

We’re the FORTY NINERS!
We will rock you ’til we win the fight!

We’re the FORTY NINERS!
We’re dynamite!

School event on Monday nights? Nope, sorry, our family was busy. Phone ringing in the middle of a game? Ignore it. We were taught to look down our noses at Raiders fans, and to hate the Dallas Cowboys with a fiery passion reserved for the worst possible scumbags.  Ours was a San Francisco family, till death do us part.

Things are a little different today. My mother, who has long since relocated across the country, now roots for the New Orleans Saints. My oldest sisters have grown somewhat indifferent to football. And I am just a crazy about international football (aka soccer) as the American version. But a few things remain the same. In a family that has been separated by time, distance, and dramatically different lifestyles, there is still one thing that keeps us knit together, one reason to pick up the cell phone and call each other…as long there isn’t a game on.

Who’s got it better than us? NO ONE!

In honor of my Uncle Harrison (1946 – 2012), former college football star and receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Deep Fried Family Fun at the State Fair

It’s been ten years since I last visited the California State Fair. Which is kind of strange, I guess, since I live right next door to the state capitol. But here’s the problem: I hate going to the fair. Can’t stand it. Yes, I know, no one is supposed to hate the fair (or pizza, or kittens, or Easter…). Come on — the state fair. Cotton candy! Rides! Great exhibits! Family fun! What’s not to love, right?

Well, yesterday we took our kids to the state fair, since none of them could remember having been to one, and I am afraid that depriving them completely will destroy their childhood. And well, they had a terrific time.

Thanks to their enthusiasm, I didn’t entirely hate our time at the fair. In fact, some parts were kind of neat, like being able to handle sturgeons and crawdads in a touch pool, and enjoying the beauty of some gorgeous flower gardens. The county exhibits were also kind of interesting to look at, even though they were somewhat redundant. Also, despite the frightening amounts of deep-fried and bacon-infused cuisine, not all the food was completely disgusting. I actually enjoyed a great ear of roasted corn on the cob for lunch.

But still, it was sweltering hot outside, and after awhile, the crowds and noise became too much for this severe introvert. So my husband took the kids on rides while I found a quiet(ish), shady bench near a pond and immersed myself in a good book until it was time to leave.

“So how did you guys like the state fair?” I asked the kids as we hiked back to our car.

My youngest son frowned. “I only got to play one carnival game, because they cost too much.”

My daughter shrugged. “It was okay. I liked the ice cream and the snow cone, and one of the rides we went on.”

My oldest son also shrugged. “It would’ve been even better if we could have gone to the waterslide park.”

And that is what we got for $120 of family fun. So long, California State Fair! Maybe we’ll visit again in another ten years.

How a Photo and a Flower Taught Me to Love My Name

Tiare Flower (Gardenia Tahitiensis) National flower of Tahiti

The first time I changed my name, I was seven years old. Why? Because I hated my name. Hated it. With a passion. No one could pronounce it. No one could spell it. It seemed like a ridiculous, made-up name that no one had even heard of. I longed for a normal, boring name, like Jenny or Tiffany or Heather or Stephanie. Or if I had to have a unique name, why not something glamorous and beautiful, like Alexandria or Lydia? Ooh, how I hated my name! And so I changed it. I began to turn in my schoolwork with a variety of names that, at the time, I loved. Alyssa. Christine. Star. Anything but Tiare. (I assume that my teacher always knew that it was my work based on the sloppy handwriting).

When I was ten years old, I settled on my new real name. I announced to my entire family, “My name is now Jamie Katrelle.” After that, I refused to answer to Tiare. It had to be Jamie, or my new initials, J.K. I stuck with this new name for the next three years or so, until I reached high school and decided that Jamie was not such an interesting name after all. Still, I secretly loathed my name, including my middle name, La Brea, which I eventually learned means tar in Spanish. (Really, Mom and Dad? Couldn’t you have researched a little before picking a name in a foreign language?). When I had children of my own, I was determined to give them nice names. Somewhat normal names. Names that meant something, instead of names that just sounded nice to the ear, as is the contemporary naming tradition in many black families.

“But your name does mean something,” my mother informed me a few years ago when I complained. The year that I was born, she explained, she came across a Pullitzer Prize-winning photograph of a little girl falling from the fifth floor of a burning building. The child, whose name was Tiare, miraculously survived the fall. The photograph had a tremendous emotional impact on my mother. She gave me the little girl’s name — the name of a survivor. The name of a child who faced a fire and a tremendous fall, but was strong enough and lucky enough to go on living.

Of course, learning the story behind my name completely changed my opinion. Did I love the story? Well, no. In fact, the photo is very disturbing to look at. But it helped me to see that my name was not just something meaningless, pulled out of thin air. My mother loved me so much that she wanted to give me a name that touched her heart, from a story that impacted her life. My name was a mother’s gift. I could no longer hate it. In fact, I began to love my name, especially after I discovered that a Tiare is actually a beautiful, fragrant flower…the national flower of Tahiti, worn behind the ears of young women. I  also learned that my name is somewhat popular in Hawaii, Chile, and throughout the South Pacific. It is not so weird after all. My name is exotic, fragrant, beautiful, meaningful. And I am grateful to my mother for her gift.

(But sorry, Mom and Dad…the middle name has got to go. My name is now Tiare Liberty. There is no story that will make me embrace the old name).

A very disturbing image of a young girl and her godmother falling from a burning building after the fire escape collapsed. The little girl, Tiare Jones, my namesake, survived the fall.

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)