This 1960′s letter from Leonard Nimoy to an interracial girl made me tear up. It’s already been shared all over the Interweb, but I had to screengrab it. I absolutely love this quote, “It takes a great deal of courage to turn your back on popularity and to go out on your own…Now, there’s a little voice inside of us that tells us when we’re not being true to ourselves… Spock learned he could save himself from letting prejudice get him down. He could do this by really understanding himself and knowing his own value as a person. He found he was equal to anyone who might try to put him down-equal in his own unique way. You can do this too if you realize the difference between popularity and greatness. It has been said that ‘popularity’ is merely the crumbs of greatness.”
Hey there. I can’t believe that its Labor Day 2012, and I finally have a chance to blog. Truthfully, it’s the first time that I’ve had a chance to think about something not related to my day job, acting, comedy, writing, and just life obligations. I let stress and wanting to be a jackie of all trades (my own term get in the way of being creative, to be honest.
I think the best ideas come to you when you’re just not putting too much pressure on yourself to be great and amazing. I recently watched a Michael Jordan documentary about the period of time in his life when he decided to quit the NBA after winning a championship and go play minor league baseball. Remember that? If not, no worries. The moral of the story is that he took some time away from something that he gave his whole life to, and took a step back to do something else completely unrelated.
He wasn’t great at it at first, but he wasn’t doing it to prove anything to anybody. He just wanted to try it out because it was something his father dreamed for him before he passed away. Jordan tried his hardest and realized that he was meant to go back to basketball.
Anyway, this drive and time away caused him to go back to his NBA career and have moments like the one below. In the end, it made Jordan a better teammate, better shooter, better player. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that when life veers you in a different direction, maybe its because you’re supposed to learn something to make you stronger.
As a kid, I remember watching the LA riots on TV, feeling sick to my stomach as I watched the rioting. Knowing that misunderstandings were really underneath the fear and looting, I always wondered about the stories of those who were actually here. The ones who got hurt. The ones who were affected. The ones who had to protect themselves when the police didn’t come to their rescue.
20 years later, I’m not sure how far we’ve come, but we have moved forward. Check out some of the essays in the issue including those from John Ridley and Matthew Segal. Good stuff.
I’m one of those gals who are cool with being solitary as long as I have an almost infinite playlist with old and new tracks, with lots of hip hop and pop mixed in there. Music has always been a solace for me in the worst of times and even in the happier moments of my life. Some tracks speak to your soul and can be the door for you to escape into your head, you know? Whether its some embarrassing 90′s pop song, an old Wu-Tang rap, or the newest hit from a former Disney star, I’m such a music whore. But some tracks like this one, “I Need a Doctor,” produced by Dr. Dre and featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, strike a chord.
Skylar Grey, formerly known as Holly Brook, was also the sweet-voiced siren in the chorus of Fort Minor’s hit, “Where’d You Go,” and is now back penning hits with Eminem, Rihanna, TI and Christina Aguilera. Here’s “Where’d You Go.”
Why did she change her name? Grey says, “Spiritually, it represents the unknowns in life, she says. “People seem to be afraid of the unknowns, but I’m the complete opposite. I dive into the unknown because I feel like that’s where all your possibilities come from.”
I loved this quote too! “When I was young, my voice was so strong, and I would annoy people because I had such a loud little voice. And then it changes, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to sing again, because I thought you had to sing like Christina Aguilera to be a singer. And then people started commenting, ‘No, your soft one is actually pretty cool. You should try doing some stuff with it. And then I started listening to people like Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan, who use their softer voices to make great music. And I thought, well, it’s possible.”
Hey there, I’m sending a shout out to the blogosphere right now to see if anyone is listening. I remember the days when I’d post every day, even twice a day, but these days, I’m spending more time with my booty in my car, hustling from gig to gig.
You know what’s weird? I’ve been doing a lot of writing whether its little tweets, jokes that suck, jokes that are sort of funny, jokes that make me go, “Geez, am I just a negative nancy?” You know when you’re going through a ton of life changes and you freak out? Um, yeah, that’s me lately. A big ball of right-brained creativity that doesn’t know exactly which path to take.
I celebrated a birthday recently which was cool, chilled with some close friends and my boyfriend. We had sushi and chocolate cake. Yum.
My last meal on earth would have to consist of some of this delicious cuisine.
And comedy! Open mics! Working on making some B jokes into A jokes. Ah!! Have a few shows coming up…would love for you to come by.
Oh, and I’m so in love with Katy Perry’s, “Firework,” song. My boyfriend tells me to put it on autoplay everytime I get down on myself or face the insurmountable obstacle of the day. It really does put you in a better mood, even when you’re singing really loudly to yourself in the car and forget that your windows are down. And the college guys in the car next to you stare at you and burst out laughing. Ew, rude.
Have you seen this interview with Amy Chua, who talks up her views on “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” and her childbearing technique? I watched this interview several times and had a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions about this topic. West vs. East. East vs. West. Nurturing creativity vs. Drilling math/science/piano skills into your child.
Then, all I could think about was Sarah Chang, the famous violin prodigy. She and I were childhood friends before she got accepted to Julliard when she was 5 years old. My last memory of her was backstage at a prestigious New York concert hall. We were both playing with our Barbie dolls and being giggly young girls when her father came into the practice room and gave her a stern nod. The girl needed to do one more warm-up before the dress rehearsal performance. Sarah was every Asian parent’s dream child; obedient, extremely hard-working, ridiculously talented, dedicated, and more importantly, she was exactly what her parents wanted her to be. For her Korean parents who grew up struggling in South Korea, their now-famous daughter Sarah Chang, was their reward from God. Their suffering was appeased by her success.
But as a little girl, I remember how tired she looked for a 7 year old girl. Somehow, I knew that I wouldn’t see her for a long time and that our paths wouldn’t cross for quite some time. My mother would always talk about Sarah when I was growing up, and though she made me take piano lessons, extra Academic courses, SAT courses, and basically any sort of school besides regular school, deep down I know it killed her inside that I wouldn’t ever be a famous violinist or pianist.
Amy Chua talks about forcing her daughters to perfect their piano skills through repetitive practice and nasty words, but that only breeds anger and resentment. Chua mentions how her father raised her in the same way and that she turned into a high achieving individual (A Yale Law School Professor), but at what cost? She comes across as cold, unemotional, and almost calculating. The saddest part is that she doesn’t even realize it.
I grew up with pressure from my parents to be someone that I wasn’t. I’m right-brained and artistic, but I suppressed it for many years because my parents wanted me to be more math or science-oriented. I thought that life was about never getting what you wanted. I thought that life was about a constant struggle, striving for something you could never be. It took several bad eating disorders, many difficult life experiences, lots of music therapy, and doing stand up comedy to help me realize that it’s okay to be me. It’s okay to have your own dream and to want happiness for yourself. It’s okay to dream big even if it seems to be out of reach.
I haven’t seen Sarah since I was 7 years old, and she is now a world famous violinist. Check out her below as she plays the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto Mvt.1 Part2. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could share the stage someday? I’m not exactly sure how that would work, but maybe I can do a set that would incorporate the Asian girl violinist and the comedienne who was like, “Uhhh…yeah, I quit Violin. I was too busy watching cartoons. See, this girl actually LISTENED to her parents.”
I’ve had a really stressful couple of days in many ways. For me, I usually deal by burying myself in work and also listening to as much girl pop music as I can. Think back to Britney, Madonna, Nelly Furtado, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, and right now this track, “Strip Me,” from Natasha Bedingfield.
Her song, “These Words,” were on my playlist when I decided that I’d had enough of New York City and bought a plane ticket out West with the very last of my savings. The impulsive, crazy side of me usually wins when it comes to huge life decisions. Is that bad? Yup. Am I glad that I moved to LA? Hell yes.
I remember the cab ride to JFK Airport, having 2 bags next to me, crouched next to my best friend, Annie, with whom I had worked at the same nightclub at Manhattan’s Meatpacking district, for over a year. Here was our conversation: ANNIE: Are you really going to move to LA, Kat? You’re crazy.
KAT: Annie, I think I should take the subway to JFK. I’ll save $12.50.
ANNIE: YOU ARE PSYCHO! I”m not letting you take 3 huge bags on the train with you to LA. You’re going to get mugged and you can barely carry one bag.
KAT: Oh my God, Annie. I can’t believe I’m doing this.
ANNIE: I believe in you. Kat. Don’t become a crazy LA girl, get a fake tan, dye your hair blonde, and get a boob job. Or I’ll have to come out there and kick your ass.
And we pinky promised. So far. No silicone in my boobs.
I hate racism. I hate prejudice. I hate discrimination. I saw a lot of it against my parents at their store on Germantown Ave in West Philly. I saw a lot of it against my brother and I when we were at school or on the school bus. I even experienced discrimination at the local mall, and from my high school swim coach. She would say the most awful things in snide ways to me. I never told anyone because…well, I figured, “No would would care. And no one wants to hear it” In high school, my friend and I went to the King of Prussia Mall to apply for jobs at Abercrombie and Fitch. We were incredibly excited to possibly start working at this super cool new store which featured peaches and cream models with abs of steel. And then the store manager offered my Caucasian friend a job application and didn’t give one to me. I remember thinking, “Wait, what just happened? This isn’t the 1950′s. Aren’t we all equal here? I’m American too.”
So, when I went to a West Hollywood Starbucks this past weekend, I was really shocked when one of their employees mocked me by bowing down to me and saying something inaudible. (I’m guessing he was doing a fake Asian accent) I mean, seriously! This is 2010, not 1950. I was really taken aback because it wasn’t like a joke or anything, and this kid thought that he could just insult me and not be reprimanded. I’ve made jokes about racism that I’ve experienced in my stand up, but the truth is that this incident pisses me off as much as the Rosie O’Donnell Ching chong incident. (See video below)
And unfortunately, the Asian way is to be silent and just to ignore things. Why is that? I don’t know. All I know is that I’m born and raised in America and grew up knowing that you HAVE TO SPEAK UP WHEN YOU ARE WRONGED. So I am speaking up. I contacted the store manager, the Corporate office, the NAACP, and basically everyone I need to in order for this employee to be disciplined in the proper way. I don’t want anything out of this whole sad incident except people understanding that it isn’t right to make racist/discriminatory remarks or gestures.
My friends have all told me to let go of the “Abercrombie and Fitch” incident, but it’s hard to forget that. I really regret not doing anything then. I should have spoken up. Yeah, I was just a kid, but still. Anyway, I’m waiting to hear what the Corporate office will do about this disappointing incident.
Yo. My name is Kat Ahn, and I started this blog to maintain my sanity while working at a tech start-up. Who am I? A Philly-born Actress/Writer/Performer. A former people pleaser who has a penchant for drawing bad stick figure cartoons and rapping spoof songs. Did I mention my parents' own a cheesesteak shop called Boo's? True story.
Meghan Moeller at Principato Young Entertainment
(310) 274- 4474