You are Not Famous. You are not Cool.

I was answering some questions for an interview with a new Pacific women’s magazine that’s coming out soon and got stuck on one of them.
                                            “How does it feel to be successful?”
Umm…I don’t know. Because I’m not successful yet. Especially not as an author. I’m very successful at making cookies. And teaching lessons. And bribing my children to listen to me. But when it comes to being an author, no. Not successful yet. Take the following as evidence…

Some of you may know that I’m related to a very famous person – and NO Pele/Peta/Josh I’m not talking about either of you. ( Even tho you are each very wonderful siblings and have wonderfulness and university degrees coming out of your ears, you are most certainly not famous.) I’m referring here to my Dad’s younger brother, Prof. Albert Wendt – award-winning novelist, poet, artist, academic. His books have been read all over the world, made into movies and are studied by anyone and everyone even vaguely interested in Pacific literature. Now, I don’t often mention that I’m related to a famous person. Because I don’t want to be jumping on that ‘famous relative train’…you know that one where every Samoan tells you that the Rock is their cousin? And their sister is Troy Polamalu’s hairdresser? And David Tua is from their village? And that piece of Sonny Bill Williams that’s Samoan (most probably his left ab) – is related to their uncle…Yeah, that train…I’m not riding on it. Truly. Because I promise you that I am not related in any way to Troy, David or Sonny. (Especially not Sonny. Alice Burgess knows why.)  No, I’m just related to Uncle Albert,  a man who looks a lot like my Dad…and has family toonai with our fifty cousins every once in a while…and is super cool enough to wear really funky kicks (purple running shoes) when he goes to literary events and can surprise a Twilight addict (me) because he’s actually read the Twilight books…


Anyway, last night I went to an awesome event organized by the Auck women of PACIFICA. It was a ‘Women of Influence’ evening with the theme, Dare to Dream. I was excited about listening to powerhouse Pacific women share their success stories.  But I also wanted to be comfortable while I was listening to them. So I  put on my old denim jeans, a gangster black jacket that the Hot Man got from the nightclub he used to work security for, and my new black Nike shoes. (Which are like…the coolest shoes I’ve owned since my little sister gave me her old leather boots and I would wear them and pretend I was the chick in Matrix.) 
But Big Son said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Don’t you want people to take you seriously? You have to dress up, you’re trying to be an author. And you’ve got a new book coming out next week.” Methinks that Big Son was channeling my mother…


 I whined, “But Uncle Albert wears really cool purple kicks when he goes places.”  And I thought about Seal’s gorgeous red suede shoes that he wears on that Aussie show, ‘The Voice.’ With black jeans and yellow fingernail polish…


 And Big Son replied, “Yes, but you’re not Uncle Albert. He’s famous and you’re not. He’s cool and you’re not.”  Seal is famous and cool too. And I’m not. 
Ouch. Must teenagers always be so direct? And brutal? Have they no compassion? Apparently not.
I got changed. I put on sensible clothes that I wear to church. I didn’t wear the new Nikes. I went to the event with my beautiful cousin Fiona Wendt. It was a fabulous evening, co-ordinated by another beautiful cousin of mine, Sina Wendt Moore.  I had a great time. I met my Twitter friend Moana Leilua and was very jealous of her shoes – zebra print Docs. And at all times, my quiet, restrained, boring shoes reminded me that…’You are not famous. You are not cool.’


What do we learn from this? (because we always have to put this moralizing bit in to justify writing and then reading an inane, fluff-filled piece of babbling) 
1. Lani Wendt Young is related to a very famous person. And  has some very beautiful and talented cousins too. 
2. According to Big Son, Lani Wendt Young is not famous. Or cool.
3. If Lani Wendt Young EVER becomes famous and cool? She will not share her famousness with Big Son. She will most definitely not buy him any super cool shoes with her rich famousness either. 
4. I think I now know the answer to that interview question. I may be wrong, but I think that success feels like red suede shoes. Purple kicks. Zebra print Docs. Black Nikes and second hand gangster jackets. So if you ever see me wearing any? With faded jeans and a gangster jacket? Then you will know that I’ve done it. I would have achieved the pinnacle of success. That epic moment in history when my children give me permission to dress like that in public. Because they think I’m famous and cool.
                I shall live in hope for that cataclysmic day.

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16 comments

  1. Just so long as it's not a meat dress! I'm still not convinced Gaga pulled that off as famous as she is. Someday, I bet you'll reach that famousness. I have a feeling you're going to rock the world with that fashion sense. 😉

  2. I think you're both cool and on your way to becoming very famous. And I know I suck for not making it over here more often. My kids are trying to kill me. You wouldn't happen to have room for a few more toddlers at your house? I'll pay for the flight.

  3. I think you're famous and cool….LOL I say to me friends "have you read Telesa yet?" "Yes oh I love Daniel""Well the author and I follow each others blogs!""Oh cool!"so big son knows you as a not-so- famous Mother, but my friends and I think you're pretty FLY Ms. Lani Wendt Young 😉

  4. No way your uncle has read Twilight! Big props to your uncle. But leave it to your kids to keep you humble. It probably doesn't mean much, but her in San Diego in my circle you are the bomb.com. But seriously even if you haven't yet earned the right to wear whatever you want to these event, would your mother ever let you forget about it if you did? Moms and sons are the best aren't they. lol Well, if you don't think you are "famous" author yet then at least know that you have affected so many of us with your "dare to dream" mantra. I don't know why, but lately when I think I can't do something, I hear a little voice in my head, "dare to dream right?" Yup, that's because of you Lani. And when I think that I can give up diet coke, I hear "dare to dream right"…Yea dream on because the dream of giving up diet coke is always an epic fail. haha!

  5. Well, If it makes you feel any better, I think you're cool and famous!!! I got the 2nd book in the mail this past weekend and little sis was jealous. "Oh you have her second book?! Did she send it to you or did you buy it? She's so cool!! I wish I could meet her. I think she would love me. I want to be her friend. Is she ever coming here? If so can we go? Please? I want to meet her. And if we go we have to go early cause I dont want to be in a line. And I want her autograph!!! You think she'll sign my nook? and…and…and…." <—- thats little sis. I eventually have to end up cutting her off because she babbles a lot. Then I turn into the cool sis who knows an author (yes, I ride on your cool leather coatstrings…)I say all this to say, you may not be Rowling or Meyer famous, and you may not be Professor Albert Wendt cool, but to those dedicated Telesa followers and brown people (all types of brown) across the world, you are the cool and famous, and an inspiration, oh and you write cool stories too!

  6. I hear you – that meat dress was just scary and nasty. It traumatized me. And i wasnt even anywhere near her. Ugh. Thanks for the vote of confidence TL – if it ever happens, I'll probably be 90+ and in no state to wear purple kicks. With gangster jackets. Hey, wanted to tell you that Ive been enjoying the Maori weaponry blogposts. I like how you're profiling this side of the world in your weapons features. Have you considered doing one on Samoa? I dont know any trad samoan weapons…but Im sure there were some super cool ones.

  7. Paige – my goal is to be even half as funny as you are when you blog! Hmm theres no room in this inn for any more children but I have a better idea, lets send ALL our children away to Disneyland TOGETHER and you and I check into a spa. OR something equally luxurious and deluxe. Somewhere we can sip cocktails all day while writing great blogs. About our children…

  8. Yes he has! I was a toonai with him and it came up somehow and he was reading the series and I confess, I just about fell off my chair hearing that. I shouldnt have been surprised though, amazing writers read everything from all diff genres. Youre right. IF my mum caught sight of any pics of me dressed homie style at a flash event, I would never hear the end of it. Ever. Youre trying to quit Diet Coke? woo hoo! Go girl. Let me know if you succeed. I need serious help with my addiction.

  9. Oh yes, defn name drop me – because the Rock is my cousin you know. And So is Troy. And me and SBW go waaaays back. And David Tua's son beat my son in the 200m at WEst Auck athletics last month. And ONE of those is actually TRUE! So lets all name drop that 'Lani Young's son ran in the same race as David Tua's son!'

  10. Ahhh!!! I just saw that. I was to excited to get started on the book that I didnt read anything prior to the chapters. I'm too excited right now I could die!!! I'm going to show everyone, and then they will think that I am a famous blog writer!!! And I wont tell them otherwise!!! Yayyy!!! You just made my day. Thanks so much.

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