{going, going, gone}

For the very first time, my suggestion won the nomination for next month’s nostalgic English majors’ virtual book group—Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I managed to snag a library copy and realized yesterday that it was due today, which meant I had to speed-read it and must now take super copious notes to retain anything for next month’s discussion.

WYGB centers around eccentric and agoraphobic Bernadette Fox-Branch and her teenaged daughter, Bee. According to her husband, Elgin Branch, Bernadette is a genius; according to the Seattle private school community, she’s a menace. To Bee, she’s simply a best friend. After Bernadette disappears right before a family vacation to Antarctica, Bee compiles personal and professional emails, newsletters, and memos in an attempt to find her mother and discover why she ran.

Semple’s strength here is definitely her humor. As a past writer for Arrested Development (among other hilarities), she deftly skewers Seattle’s upper-middle class community, especially private-school parents and Microsoft, where Elgin works. Bernadette’s rants on the “bike-riding, Subaru-driving, Keen-wearing” people who surround her were both amusing and bittersweet with homesickness for the granola-filled PNW. (Although Seattle is definitely a different brand from Oregon—for starters, Seattleites have money.)

Sometimes these cars have Idaho plates. And I think, What the hell is a car from Idaho doing here? Then I remember, that’s right, we neighbor Idaho. . . And any life that might still be left in me kind of goes poof.

I must admit that as much as I enjoyed it, I’m a little hard-pressed to think of discussion topics for WYGB. Aside from the fact that I believe we all hail from the PNW (and certainly went to college there), I’m not sure what else there is for a handful of starving ex-English majors to really sink their teeth into. In itself a worthy academic challenge, I suppose. Really, though, I’m pretty sure we could spend the entire time calling out the hysterical Seattle stereotypes. As the NYT points out:

[Galer Street School] gives three grades: S for “Surpasses Excellence,” A for “Achieves Excellence” and W for “Working Towards Excellence.” So every kid is some kind of excellent.

BAHAHA. So funny because so true. God, I love the PNW.

{just enough to make me blush}

Note: I am writing this while waiting at a gate at the Eugene Airport… Thank you, free wifi!

The Misanthrophe’s [that’s MIS-un-thrawp, because yes, I definitely had to look it up] Guide to Life was a birthday present from my old roommate, who has known me for almost six years and lived with me for almost one, so knows me better than anyone ever wants to or indeed should. So while this b-day gift might’ve given my new roommates slight pause, it was no surprise to me, and I immediately bumped it up to the prime spot on my reading list.

This book is the brainchild of the 2birds1blog bloggers, whose snarky tint of comic brilliance I have been known to enjoy in the past (I just audibly snorted in the Eugene airport reading Mole Day!, which my high school chemistry teacher also def celebrated, although with less disasterous/hysterical results). Being self-proclaimed Misanthropes since childhood, they wrote this set of rules for other people chronically annoyed by small talk, phone calls in public places, and other people in general.

I enjoyed it, but then I am a Misanthrope (albeit a mild one—I hope). I also tend toward a sense of humor that verges on the offensive while I’m in the company of others, and wildly crosses that line when I’m alone. Even as I laugh at South Park while home alone eating leftover casserole, a part of me is always wide-eyedly blushing about the fact that other people are seeing this too. An offensive book, on the other hand, is perfect for me, since I like to myopically imagine that no one else in the world has read these words and understood them as I did. Perf.

I liked a lot about this book, but nothing that I feel super comfortable sharing in a public blog, since I do have a v. v. small amount of class. So, as a viable alternative, here is a list of reasons why you should not read this book:

  • You enjoy the company of others.
  • You have a glass-half-full outlook on life.
  • You are made uncomfortable by flippant threats of violence.
  • You are sensitive of hipster racism (and other varieties of hipster prejudice. Which, after rereading that article, includes liberal sexism? I have no clue.).
  • Your extreme PC-ness has choked your laugh-producing vocal cords and you now have no sense of humor.

Note: If any of the above apply to you, you probably aren’t reading this blog in the first place. So no harm done.

{general hilarity and wanton sentimentality}

So after a week of reading The Talented Mr. Ripley (and subsequently blogging about it) and an afternoon at work spent collating photocopies for 4 hours, I decided to settle down for an evening of fun, low-stress girl reading. As I mentioned earlier, I purchased Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? a couple of months ago after falling in love with an online excerpt. I killed it tonight in one sitting, in a feat only mildly more impressive than the Friday night a couple of weeks ago when I killed a DVD of Sherlock Holmes, an unassembled IKEA bed, and a fifth of Bailey’s in one sitting.

Mindy did not disappoint. The book was hilarious, relatable, and informative. (Did you know that she got her start playing Ben Affleck in a play she wrote with her best friend called Matt & Ben? I didn’t.) Within the first few pages, her descriptions of herself as a chubby androgynous Indian kid had my (male) roommate of two weeks glancing at me politely yet quizzically across the couch, as one regards a slightly deranged person, as I laughed uncontrollably. To make matters worse, I was self-conscious enough to attempt to temper my laugh into a silent blowing of air rapidly through my noise, which I can only imagine is how a huge douche laughs. (Except, sadly, I don’t need to imagine it, for I know it to be true.)

Anyways. I would venture to recommend IEHOWM? to any young female in need of a bit of hilarity and a solid kick in the pants. Or young man, for that matter. After all, it was Mindy’s uncannily accurate analysis of the man vs. boy debate that got me hooked in the first place.

Hilarity aside, I also loved this book because it allowed me to selfishly and egotistically believe that Mindy gets me, and only me. She has that enviable quality in her writing that made feel at once exactly like her and importantly unique. Her humor is spot-on and often hilariously self-deprecating, but she also makes no secret of the fact that she’s a pretty romantically conservative gal who wants to find a good man and settle down. In the midst of my ever-engrossing journey to emerge on the opposite side of quarter-life crises years without a regular therapist, Mindy makes me feel like everything is going to be fine, but it’s also cool if everything isn’t.

All incredible cheesiness and regurgitated tropes aside, IEHOWM? is definitely going to a prime spot on my bookshelf (to be purchased from IKEA at a date immediately following my first paycheck!) and indulged in regularly.