Opinion-Sharing With the Woman Behind Kelly Kapoor

In Baby Howie, Books, Celebrity Obsessions, Christianity, Tolkien on December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

My family has always had that stoic Indian thing going on wherein one generally remains responsible and thoughtful as much as possible and avoids unnecessary emotional outbursts. (Read: all emotional outbursts.) This translates into some very pragmatic Christmas traditions, such as not wrapping our gifts to each other because they’ll just be unwrapped anyway. We are Christians, so it’s not like the holiday isn’t important to us, it’s just that it’s always been a religious occasion first, a gift-giving occasion second. I believe in this philosophy 100% myself, so that’s totally cool. (Although I will admit that once Tolkien and I got married, my family and I did start trying to throw around some tissue paper every December so as not to totally horrify him, the child of a family that recreates a Norman Rockwell Christmas every year.) Anyway, my brother Baby Howie, who you will remember is not a baby and is not named Howie, went one step further and, when ordering my Christmas gift online on Black Friday, just had it delivered directly to my house. I opened it on Dec. 3. I am proud to be the latest, very late owner of an e-reader. We will see how and if this revamps my life. And the first e-book I purchased was Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

I was going to use a picture of me reading the book, but it's an e-book. It'd just be a picture of me and a 7-ounce electronic device sitting on the couch.

I know that to be cool I should pretend it makes no difference to me that we’re both Indian and around the same age, but dude, that’s totally why I like her. Plus she writes and acts on my favourite show. (As an aside, I just love that four of NBC’s current hit shows have major Indian characters whose Indianness is incidental, not pointed out at every opportunity for cheap laughs. Outsourced excepted.) Of course her book was great and made me laugh out loud, but the thing that really hit me was how much I agreed with one of her essays, entitled “Don’t Peak in High School.”

In the ongoing debate about why kids from some ethnic backgrounds tend to do much better in school than others, the basic American assumption that high school should be the best years of your life, filled with dating and sports and parties, has got to be given some blame. I always remember my great-uncle, the father of three Ivy League grads who are now well-adjusted professionals, telling a story about how his daughter’s high school guidance counselor balked at her challenging course schedule because it didn’t “leave room for her social life.” To my relatives, the very idea is preposterous. Academics need to be arranged around a social life? Are you in school to prepare for a lucrative career or to increase your chances of getting voted “Best Legs” in the yearbook? Teen books and TV shows programmed me to think I was deprived because high school was definitely not the best four years of my life (of course, moving to a new country in the twelfth grade didn’t help), but as Mindy points out, they were wrong and we were right. You know what the best four years of my academic life were? Not high school, not even college, but medical school. For the first time I was around hundreds of driven people who had the same goals I did and weren’t afraid of people seeing them working hard, but who also believed in playing hard too. It was brain-enhancing and socially stimulating at the same time. In all, it was so much fun, and it was made more so with the added knowledge that we were all headed for a life of public service and gainful employment. As Mindy says, where are the kids from that stupid “Jack and Diane” song now? Pumping gas? The day that: 1) crowds of spectators show up at Math League events instead of football games, 2) dating is seen as something you do in your twenties to find a good spouse, and 3) hanging out with your family is considered just as cool and important as hanging out with your friends, is the day this country’s educational standings will start rising. Mark my immigrant-child words.

I also really liked MK’s anecdotes about the kindness Amy Poehler showed to her. One of the things that having gone through a major move at a crucial time in my teenage life taught me was exactly what it feels like to be a new kid on the outside. It’s really nice to hear that some people remember that even after they’ve made it big. And I think I agree with MK that the single funniest moment on The Office was when Michael is driving along smugly talking about how much he cares for his employees and then promptly breaks Meredith’s pelvis with his car. That was hilarious. But I’d probably have to rewatch all 7 seasons to make my final determination. (I’ll use any excuse.)

For the record, though, I do not agree with MK that cap sleeves should be worn by no one. Are you telling me this is not cute?

Or this?

I didn’t think so.

  1. What a great post! Welcome to the world of e-reading, my friend–THERE IS NO TURNING BACK! Except for library books, in my case, because it appears Durham’s libraries will never be kindle-friendly. I’ve been tempted to get Mindy’s book, but I’m currently reading a book about werewolves…and a biography of Abraham Lincoln (two separate books, in case that sentence was confusing).

    Regarding your point about thriving in and being stimulated by med school, I have had the privilege of being surrounded by nerds since high school. Yay, nerds! Seriously, I was so lucky never to feel self-conscious about enjoying school, wanting to learn. Again, I say, Yay nerds!

    • Hey Vric! I didn’t mean to give the impression that I wasn’t around like-minded academically curious friends prior to med school. As you know, we had a good group in college, and I have great memories of the classmates in my program that ran through elementary and high school. It’s just that by med school, it seemed like more people had learned to strike that balance between being nerds, but nerds who liked to have fun and were secure in themselves. Yay!

  2. Hey, I’m back commenting again–I didn’t even remember commenting on this before. Oops! I downloaded Kaling’s book today for my kindle; I’ve already finished it. I really enjoyed the book, and can better appreciate your perspective on it. I’m now a huge Mindy Kaling fan, and kind of wish we (you, Mindy, and our other posse members from grad school) had all gone to college together. Then there could have been pictures of us in her book!

    Well, at least there can be pictures of me in your book! 🙂

    • Hey Vric! 🙂 Uh, there better be pictures of me in your book, whose publication date is bound to be much sooner than mine, and they better be flattering ones and not that scary one of me and Tolkien you submitted to the med school yearbook. Or at least if they can’t be flattering, don’t put them next to pictures of a couple who could be models, like in said yearbook. Let there be a few pages in between.

  3. I totally disagree with the premise of this post. I peaked in high school and then managed to score a hot chick in medical school…perhaps she was impressed with stories about my “glory days”?

    • LOL! You caught me! I will have to rethink my entire philosophy. However, given that you did not begin creating and singing catchy jingles related to hypertension and other medical ailments until your twenties, I’m not sure how you can claim to have peaked in high school. You obviously had much more greatness yet to come.

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