Claudia is moving to California (I’m Claudia)

nida chowdhry, drawing, doodle, moving, new york city, nyc, koreatown, los angeles, socal, california, moving alot, lahore, pakistan, immigrant, writer
A map to further confuse you

I’m definitely experiencing a JT/Britney breakup worth of emotions (audience perspective) as I surround myself with packing boxes, preparing to move for the ::counts on fingers:: two, three… five… fifth time in six years.

This time, my mini-family unit (male partner man and feline companion) and I are heading back to California to be closer to family. I hesitate to say for good because as I’ve just mentioned, our track record says otherwise. Either way, we’re movin’, on the move again.

This is a joke of some sort at this point because as it turns out, the last time we moved – from Koreatown, Los Angeles to Jersey City, New Jersey where we’ve been for two years now – I must have forgotten to post a memo because everyone in California thinks I’ve always been in New York and everyone in New York thinks I live in California. We basically exist off the grid so we get what we don’t post (a new phrase for the modern century).

I only recently realized this because after being in a hole for two years working with Yumna and our team to make Unfair & Ugly, I resurfaced in the city to make friends again and realized people thought I was visiting New York, and I was like, Nope, I’ve been living here… writing and editing… under a rock… that’s where I’ve been… 231 Under A Rock, Jersey City, NJ 07306.

It’s almost like I haven’t existed anywhere, except a plane in my mind. Hehe. There’s more truth to that than you can imagine, which is an insult to you because you could be very imaginative for all I know.

It’s been like 35 degrees here for weeks and I’ve been dreaming of palm trees and 405 traffic that will deliver me to the relative ease of suburban errands. I imagine this new Nida that will jog on the beach and wear yoga pants to do yoga, then switch into any kind of fashionable, layered look that has that just-threw-it-on fabulousness because the weather is temperate AF year-round so I can wear what I want when I want, unlike NYC’s sweaty armpit subway weather that turns into frigid bone and soul crushing cold (sorry Minnesota, Mississauga, and other such places to whom I sound very spoiled right now).

I like to think of myself as having a gruff grimness from my five years in New York, and that I’ll bring it back with me to California, like when Claudia from the Babysitter’s Club (you know, the one Asian person in all of middle school book land, with the exception of Joy Luck Club) moves to C… oh wait, they’re in Connecticut?!! I assumed they were in California. Whatever, same difference.

Wait… you’re telling me it was STACEY who moved from New York to Ca..Connecticut? AND BY THE WAY I HATE THAT STATE NAME… the spelling used to BAFFLE me. It’s all con-ne-ti-cut but it has an extra C in there that you’re not supposed to pronounce. That is some confusing ass settler colonial bullsh*t.

WHAT? Connecticut isn’t an English word? It’s derived from an Indigenous word? Hold on, let’s google this. “The word itself was translated from the Indian (<-more colonial confusion) name “Quinnehtukqut” and means “beside the long tidal river.” THERE! THAT! THEY ADDED THE DAMN C IN! I KNEW IT WAS SOME BULLSH*T!

So WHAT if it’s Stacey who moved from New York to California. I’m rewriting this and it’s now cool Asian Claudia who is the gruff rough-around-the-edges black-clothes-wearing fast-paced impatient character who is now in the land of suburbs. And I’m Stacey-Claudia people. I’m Stacey-Claudia and I’m moving (back) to California. With my closet full of mono-toned clothing, of which I had to expire all the tropical colored clothing so as not to stand out among the throngs of unhappy faced people of New York.

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California Nida vs. NYC Nida

I’m coming back, with my angry, ‘don’t you take that leering holler a step further’ b*tch face on lock down (look it up it’s a real facial expression).

I’ve taken my bad LA traffic driving to another level of training on the lawless streets of New Jersey and the international cab drivers of NYC tour.

I’ve shed my naivety and distrust everyone more equally than before – ah, the sweet urine-stained scent of “open-minded” “liberal” “progress.”

And I distrust botox in an amount that should last me for at least five minutes in LA. I mean, we should all be lucky to age like Cher in Mamma Mia! 2, I guess. Did you OBSERVE how she STOLE THE SHOW?! What a legend.

I’m looking forward to fitness Nida, filming more Stranger Magic projects, and beach-proximity.

“Oh the places you’ll go”

– Cat Stevens

UPDATE: I’m in California and I feel colder than I did in New York. I momentarily considered purchasing a puffy jacket. The suns out. I have a car and it’s attached to my body now. I’m glad to be back, peace and blessings, hashtag prayer hands.

UPDATE UPDATE: It’s sunny now, hallelujah, this is the California summer, I mean winter, I dreamt of on those frosty days.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: It’s 1 degree in New York right now. That was a close one.

Beyonce Is Muslim, Now (And So Is Everyone Who Voted In Midterms)

When I was growing up, there were like three people proud of being Muslim in American media: Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and honestly, I can’t even remember. Non-Muslims looked at me with confused, empathetic eyes that said, “You’re like, Kwanzaa, right?”

Then, one by one, I found out about the secret Muslims: Dr. MEHMET Oz, Shaq, Ice Cube (for U.S. actor & rapper see > Ice Cube), Ellen Burstyn, Iman, Cat Stevens, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled, and the inventor of Lasik.

dr oz muslim 2

Except they weren’t secretly Muslim at all. Their Muslimness was just obscurely reported. They were known as ‘TV Host’ and ‘Doctor’ and ‘Rapper’, and their race and religion were a tiny footnote on their Wikipedia page, like they were a White person accidentally trapped inside a Black or Brown body. Whoops! Not the first time that’s happened. Continue reading “Beyonce Is Muslim, Now (And So Is Everyone Who Voted In Midterms)”

My Solo Trip To Paris

Solo trip to Paris
I went to Paris this summer for the first time, and I traveled alone, on purpose.

I’ve taken flights by myself before, but I had never gone on a solo trip. I was too scared or too broke or too woman or too excuse-ive. And now I was worried.

I imagined myself at 80-years-old, afraid to do things on my own. What happens when everyone I love is dead and I’m like… Damn, what now? I don’t want that! I want to be 80 and be like, Yeah, bitches, I’m in Italy! Smell ya later!

So this summer, after I talked my sister down (“Have you seen Taken?!?!?!?!?!”), and on the way back from a trip to Egypt with my beloved friend, I planned a short solo trip in Paris all for myself. Continue reading “My Solo Trip To Paris”

The Midi Dress

Midi dress, zara, print, tribal, pointed shoes, stud shoes, gold, black, multi color, hijab, Hijabi, modest fashion
I took this picture on my last trip to California. I was window-shopping and feeling uncomfortable and afraid because I was wearing a midi dress for the first time – not in New York where no one knows me, but in SoCal where I’m bound to see someone I know wherever I go.

I was taking a step towards dressing how I want to, and a step further away from the dress code I was raised to follow. I had willingly (and mostly happily) followed it as an adult, but now I wanted something different.

And I was petrified that I might run into someone who might talk shit about me and pass it along the grapevine. “I hate when hijabis take off their hijab and start dressing all slutty.” I’ve heard that so many times.  Continue reading “The Midi Dress”

Toaster Oven

nida_chowdhry_toaster_oven

I bought a toaster oven five years ago who cares I know.

But the other day it started burning, like whenever I would toast something I thought a fire would start. And I was like, “Oh! This is a grease fire waiting to happen!” As I learned to say in the retirement home I live in.

I was like, oh great, I need a new toaster oven.

So I went on amazon. What. There are so many toaster ovens. How do I choose? Do I buy one for $60, or do I buy one for $150? Will my life be better with a luxury toaster oven? Continue reading “Toaster Oven”

Boxes


I try to put myself in a box. All the time. Everyday. There are so many boxes I try to squeeze myself into. They’re scattered all over my living room floor like an Amazon prime-shipping addict (also true). 

There’s the “occupations” or ways that I occupy my time: writer doodler actor producer boss manager business owner thinker critic performer improviser director seasonal entrepreneur trailblazer filmmaker person who still doesn’t get paid for her work etc. 

There’s the identities and perceptions: woman, woman of color, brown person (who still benefits on the colorism scale), muslim lady, why does everything have to be about race?, why? in general, skinny, etc.

There’s my personalities: dork shy fierce intense scary brooding thoughtful downer silly funny sequined reserved open closed bold ambitious fire…

And then there is me trying to pick a lane in myself. Trying to cut away parts of myself to conveniently explain myself. Trying to squeeze my big huge fabulous amazing-ass self into the tiniest most convenient box possible. 

So to myself, today, I say: you are already the box you were meant to be in: yourself. This is your skin, your body, your gifts, your human spectrum of good and evil, your mission, your life. The world has limiting ideas of and for you. But you are limitless in your own way. You will never fit in another person’s shadow or box or self. Please try to stop trying. And recycle those damn boxes for God’s sake.

I’m hosting #TodayIMet!

I’m excited to share that I’m hosting a new show called #TodayIMet, a conversation series that goes beyond small talk. It’s the first show Yumna Khan and I made for our company, Stranger Magic Productions.

In Episode 1, I speak with Linda Frost, my teammate from ImprovCity. Linda is fearless and bold, funny as hell, and the kind of person that makes me feel comfortable being human. We talk about falling in love at forty, gender expectations for growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, the importance of female friendships.

Throughout the conversation, I was humbled and surprised at how similar things are for women of all ages. My favorite quote from Linda was, “Be comfortable in your own skin. I’m still working on that, by the way. Just being able to say it isn’t the same as being able to do it.” 

I hope you enjoy Episode 1. Please do share your thoughts in the comments. I can’t wait to hear from you!