Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling paired with Birthday Cake

Since Nashville has suddenly become the #2 Most Frequented Destination for Bachelorette Parties (behind Las Vegas) and everyone and their mother wants to live here now (…because they once saw the tv show Nashville?), the traffic here is absolutely atrocious. My compute to work is give or take an hour-long and after nearly succumbing to a panic attack behind the wheel because of this insanity– on day 2 of my new job, I decided to purchase an Audible account so I can listen to a good book instead of allowing the interstate mayhem to start my day off anxiety-ridden.

The first book on my list was Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? A theatre friend recommended it because “Mindy is hilarious and inspired me to write”. “Okay,” I thought, “I could use a little humor after binge watching Handmaid’s Tale.” Not to mention, I’ve been in a Stay Creative At All Costs phase now that I’ve started a fun-time job, so I was more than happy to receive audible reminders spoken via the voice of Kelly from the Office (whose superficial relationship dilemmas I found to be the most relatable as a then high schooler). I expected to halfheartedly chuckle a few times (look, it’s awkward to completely laugh out loud when you’re alone. I never do that no matter how funny a thing is. In fact, I almost always avoid watching comedies alone for this specific reason.) and feel a positive boost after Mindy explained that “yes, being an artist is hard, but those that stay the course and prove they belong will be rewarded in the end”.

I will never expect something so cut and dry from this genius woman again.

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My reaction to this book in three emojis:

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LOL: I laughed out loud multiple times while behind the wheel, and I swear to you that it wasn’t just a simple “ha”, but a full-body and awkward-as-hell cackle that I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done in my life. Laughing yourself silly in the privacy of your own car, regardless of the strange looks you might receive from the judgmental prude in the car next to you, definitely beats having a conniption over traffic you can’t control. Besides, you know that same old crone probably belts Shania Twain when she’s not trapped at a red light.

Thankful: As silly and cliché as this might sound, I’m incredibly thankful that people like Mindy Kaling exist in this world and are boldly using their voices. Hollywood starlets typically go hand in hand with tons of negative connotations– encouraging us normal person to scrutinize our appearance, comparing our successes, and falling victim to trashy tabloid gossip. But Mindy is different. (I’m eliminating the last name now because after listening to her book, I feel that we’re friends… or would totally be friends if she knew me and wasn’t so busy writing and starring in her own television series?) Many of her words were honest and heartfelt admissions of her fears, thoughts, victories and failings. Musings on her school days, relationships, and career path were both insightful as well as painfully hilarious. The way she laughed and prodded at her mistakes with curiosity rather than judgement struck me. As a person who tends to recount events in a shameful “I promise you I’m not that person anymore” sort of tone, I wondered if it were possible for me to attempt to do the same– to own my story and understand that it doesn’t own me. The second to last chapter, entitled “4am Worries”, forced me to reapply my mascara because, well, I cried it off. Again, maybe this is cliché, but you just don’t go around thinking that Hollywood celebrities who make way more money than you do ever lay awake at night fretting about their parents or deliberating with themselves about whether or not they’re creating art that matters. What’s there to worry about when you’re loaded? Actually, a lot.

100% Accurate: There were several chapters resonated with me as a fellow artist. And once again, I never imagine incredibly successful people struggling, but chapters like “Take This Job and Love It: How to Get Your Own TV Show (and nearly die of anxiety)” showed me that even super talented people starring in successful TV shows fear the search for the next gig. Not only that, but the road to booking the gig is treacherous for anyone. When you see the Mindy Project in HD on your television screen, you don’t also see in the description of the pilot episode: “This series was first rejected and then picked up by a different station.” You also don’t know as you’re watching reruns of the Office that the beloved character Kelly is, in real-life, off-camera stressing out because she’s trying to get everyone’s approval and avoid being replaced. This is why I believe it’s so important for creative types to not only share their art, but their truth as well. In such a savagely competitive field, we need every ounce of “Yeah, me too” moments we can get instead of thinking we’re the only ones who struggle with feelings of inadequacy.

My favorite moments

In the chapter, “Mindy Lahiri, MD, everygirl, mild sociopath”, Mindy narrates a fictional alternate universe where she didn’t move to Los Angeles and pursue film and television, but instead remained in New York and taught Latin at a very ritzy prep school. In my opinion, the dialogue in this chapter alone could be the next big Bridget Jones-estc romantic comedy. Aside from the hilarity of Fantasy Latin Professor Mindy who signs her emails with lyrics by the Pussycat Dolls, I thoroughly enjoyed this little detour from reality because I am also a person who daydreams about who I would be now if I did or didn’t make a certain choice. Having moved so many times growing up, I still to this day think, “What would my life have been like if we would have stayed in *insert city of choice*”. Would I have ever done theatre or started to write? Would I be a completely different version of myself who maybe works in admin, goes to bible study on Wednesdays and Pilates with my former sorority sisters on Thursdays, has two babies, a husband, and a dog? Okay, probably not. But still– I always wonder “What if?”

“Bad Sport” was a chapter that completely and utterly spoke to my post-audition season self. Mindy describes that she can be competitive to a fault and rather than down-playing her moments of discouragement when she doesn’t succeed at something, she does something I’ve literally never heard of any other artist do: she admits that she’s a bad sport. She gets sour and jealous and can’t silence the voices of entitlement and rage ringing in her ears. And you know what? Yeah, me too. So often I feel that I have exactly .02 seconds to be disappointed with the outcome of an audition and then I have to move on to be completely blissfully happy for the person they did choose to cast and actually grateful for the opportunity to practice the experience of auditioning. While those things need to be true in order to not completely lose your shit in this career, I loved how Mindy acknowledged that she is a human being and it takes her some time to get to those blissed-out “good for them” feels, especially when she busted her ass in pursuit of the thing she didn’t receive. She goes on to explain that as she gets older, she’s focusing on making a conscious choice to take the Path Less Bitter and replace it with grace. These were words I needed to hear as well. It’s okay to feel angry, but demonstrating grace and gratitude has actually been proven to improve over-all happiness (and it’d be literally way too much effort to Gone Girl every person who has been cast in a role you thought you were be right for).

My favorite quote

“And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”
Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?

and now… Time for the perfect Halo Top pairing for Why Not Me?….

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Mindy’s book was whimsical, entertaining and quirky, which is much like Birthday Cake flavored ice cream. Halo Top’s has just the right about of sweetness mixed with creamy deliciousness, and yet doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds with a distinct cake and icing taste. Birthday Cake tends to be a more adventurous flavor for those of you that like to stick with the standards, but who doesn’t need to get a little playful every now and then? My only criticism is that the color is beige with sprinkles of rainbow and I prefer louder and more vibrant “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY. LET’S CELEBRATE” colors.

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