In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns), Mindy Kaling talks about how she used to get out of chores all the time by holding up a book and saying, “But I’m just enjoying Little House on the Prairie so much!” She says it’s the soft spot for her immigrant parents. I had an immigrant parent too, but I think every parent wants their kid to read, and I’ve always found great comfort behind books. So when I got home from my trip I sprinted through the last 2 hunger games books and picked up Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, which I had given to my mother for Christmas.
After my trip to Afghanistan it was good to get back in my comfort zone and it turns out, Mindy Kaling’s humor falls squarely in my wheelhouse. Kaling was, like me, a child of middle class immigrant parents (her parents were from India but met in Nigeria, my father is from Nigeria but met my mom in an Indian religious group). She is also a pop culture nerd who grew up trying to impress her older brother (or rather trying really hard not to embarrass him). She went to prep school and then Dartmouth but worked with a bunch of guys who went to Harvard and could never shake the feeling that everyone was hanging out without her.
When asked on WTF whether the title of her book is an actual fear of hers, Mindy Kaling said yes. For me, it isn’t a fear, it’s a pretty safe assumption; I don’t get out much so if anyone’s hanging out, they’re hanging out without me. But who needs friends when I have books! Seriously I don’t think I’m missing out on the drunken conversation and sad groping, but yeah I know you’re all hanging out without me.
Another thing she mentioned on that podcast is that she often forgets that she’s not a jewish boy, Mark Maron laughed, but this is something that happens to me all the time. When I went to school in Chicago I had this strange realization one night that the people I felt most comfortable with were nerdy Jewish stoners from Northern California. How often do you look at your own face? It is really easy for me to forget that I really don’t look anything like these people.
I got into the Mills Computer Science Masters program and went to a lecture from someone who works for Wikimedia. I would describe the crowd as ‘lesbian nerd,’ this is another place where I felt quite comfortable. I feel very comfortable around data (I don’t really like sports but I just read the ESPN analytics issue cover to cover). When I was in Afghanistan we met many people but the ones I felt most comfortable around were data analysts; so many of our other conversations seemed anecdotal. I’m not great at probabilities but I find comfort in spreadsheets and statistics and the people who use them.
Mindy Kaling is not the same kind of nerd I am, (she studied latin in school and became a comedy writer), but I think we’re a similar type of nerd. I am so glad that she is successful because I feel like it’s a triumph for dorky, irreverent brown girls everywhere. Mindy Kaling speaks for me.
I went back through my blog and found like a gazillion typos. Please email me about typos, it’s embarrassing.