I want to be best friends with @mindykaling

Mindy Kaling could be my twin separated by birth (except for that whole age and race difference. but whatever, It could still totally be plausible). Or maybe just the super awesome older & more successful sister I never had. In any case, I ADORE her & want to be BFFs with her (probably the highest compliment I could ever give you).

I stumbled upon her old blog Things I bought that I love a few years ago without knowing it was Kelly Kapoor from “The Office” (a longtime S-Dizzle favorite). I thought it was so funny and witty—when she stopped writing it, I was heartbroken.

Then, a few months ago, her new blog The Concerns of Mindy Kaling launched. I am in LOVE with it (seriously—go read it. But only after you’re finished here.) It’s basically her old format—she blogs about things that she loves (clothes, shows, makeup, people, etc.), but she has a way with words that makes you want to read more (even if it’s about faux ice cubes used to keep whiskey cold!). We write about a lot of the same topics (shoes, pop culture, dumb things that happen) and I’d like to think that our writing styles are similar (but that’s just wishful thinking on my part!).

When I found out she had written a book of essays (similar to the lovely Tina Fey’s Bossypants and the books of my other hero Jen Lancaster), I saved the date & made sure to get my copy on the first day.

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me is the book I wish I had written.

It’s funny and charming and completely relatable. At one point Mindy writes about things that make her cry (umm, hello, the WORLD makes me cry) lists Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album as one of those things. She says that listening to that specific album reminds her of her parents & being a kid and taking family vacations together. She tries to explain that listening to “Graceland” reminds her of a time lost—things will never be that way again. And it makes her sad.

Substitute “Graceland” for Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and that’s basically my life.

Sure, this album has the mega hit “Free Fallin”, but that’s not the reason I love it (or why it makes me cry). I love it because it makes me think of my dad (and my mom & siblings too). If you know me (and my family) you’d know that my dad is way more likely to listen to talk radio than music (of any kind). He’s a finance guy & would rather listen to the stock market than anything on FM radio. But he loved (loves) this album. Because it’s sort of rare for him to REALLY love an album, the fact he loves this one so much makes it special.

Every time I hear “Runnin’ Down a Dream” or “I Won’t Back Down”, I’m instantly six years old, hanging out with my mom & dad on a Saturday morning. “Zombie Zoo”? I’m eight, at a backyard BBQ and dancing with my sister and watching our parents socialize with friends. “Alright for Now”? Driving in the car with the whole fam to whatever vacation destination we decided on, singing loudly and laughing at my brother for falling asleep 20 minutes into the drive.

The point is that I have intense, personal memories attached to that particular album and I totally understand Mindy when she says Paul Simon makes her cry. Tom Petty makes ME cry, girlfriend! I get it!

Aside from listing things that make her cry, Mindy talks about growing up nerdy, her awesome relationship with her parents, choosing to go to a college where she could be a big fish in a small pond, and being able to relate to children via NSYNC (and having very serious conversations about which one she would marry). If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you’d note that I ALSO have experience with all of those things. As I’ve experienced every.single.one. (and for the record, the choice of marriage to an NSYNC member would obvs be JC. Or maybe Lance, if you don’t mind having a gay husband).

Reading her book is what I assume hanging out with Mindy Kaling would be: charming, witty, a little snarky and a WHOLE lot of fun.

It goes without saying that I’d urge you to read this book. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

I’ll leave you with Lee the D’s favorite song (since I talked about it earlier).

Since Christmas is in a week, aforementioned Lee the D and I are braving the mall today. Wish us luck!

it was a dark and stormy night…

No, I’m not talking about tonight (it’s still sort of light and it’s not so much stormy as cold). I’m talking about one of my FAVORITE books as a kid A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. After this morning’s somber entry, I wanted to write something else that wasn’t so sad.

Enter this week’s “Book of the Week.”  (I didn’t do one last week. Sorry.)

This afternoon, after wiping off the shock of the morning’s horrible news, I decided I needed to do something (other than actual studying) to make me smile. And, other than a 80% off Kate Spade sale (have you seen this? I die), nothing makes me happier quicker than a trip to the bookstore (RIP, Borders. I’m still mourning your loss).

After browsing amongst the “grown up” books, I decided to take a gander through the juvenile (not THAT Juvenile!) section, I came across this

Next to Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, this was my favorite book as a kid (and, ok, The Babysitters Club too). And I was a kid that didn’t like science fiction or fantasy (the closest I got was loving fairytales. But most little girls love fairytales, so that doesn’t count). But this was the book that made me want to be a writer.

I had wanted to be a writer since first grade, when ALL of my stories were about a little girl getting a kitten (I think I was trying to subtly get my parents to buy me a cat. It didn’t work. I’m 2[redacted] years old and I’m still cat-less). I always liked to read (Ann M. Martin was basically a crack pusher to me. If she released a book, I HAD to have it.), but I don’t think I quite grasped what being a writer ACTUALLY was. But in fifth grade, thanks to my teacher (the incredible and incomparable Mrs. Carol Watson), I began to really GET what being a writer was (mostly because she herself was a writer).

And then I read A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first book I read that made me THINK about what I was reading. The Babysitters Club was mindless fluff, and Little Women and Anne of Green Gables were pretty straightforward novels about young women (Jo and Anne, respectively) that were feisty and smart and didn’t apologize for it (sort of baby “chick lit” if you will. I was bitten by THAT bug early). But A Wrinkle in Time was different. It tried to get at something more…something deeper. And, at age 10, I couldn’t possibly understand what L’Engle was REALLY trying to get at (mostly Biblically symbolism and the battle of good v. evil, the idea of a group-think society where individual thought is not allowed), but I knew that it was more than what was actually going on on the page. I think that’s when I TRULY fell in love with the written word.

That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be the person who made people fall in love with books.

I knew I had a copy of the book…somewhere. Most likely in the basement of my parents’ house amidst the Sweet Valley High and aforementioned (argh. lawyer-talk. I hate myself.) Babysitters Club. I did manage to unearth it and dove right into the world of Meg and Charles Wallace, Calvin O’Keefe, Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who, Aunt Beast and, of course, IT. If you didn’t read the book as a kid (or have kids that haven’t read it), I can only implore you: do so. It’s a quick read (it IS, after all, a children’s/YA book), but very much worth it. For kids, it’s a fantastic adventure into fantastical world (think Narnia or Perelandra/Malacandra from the Space Trilogy) and for adults, it’s a brilliant symbolic story about the battle of good v. evil.

It’s basically the story of Meg and Charles Wallace Murry who are taken to a faraway land (along with their friend, Calvin) to rescue their father, a scientist, who has been missing for a long time. Meg is a pre-teen girl’s idol: she’s awkward and doesn’t have many (any) friends, she doesn’t fit in at school (or at home) and the one person that she feels close to (her father) is missing.  But she ends up being a kick-ass chick that doesn’t play backseat to a male character—she does a lot of the saving on her own.

In short: just read it (Or re-read it if you read it as a kid. Try it. You’ll like it.)

In other pop culture news, I am not-so-patiently awaiting this

I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it. Favorite. Show. Of. All. Time(s) (thanks, Kanye!)

I can’t wait to see what the Bluth gang is up to (hopefully finally getting rid of that stair car. or maybe FINALLY getting the cornballer approved by the US government).

Next summer is SO far away.

 

(mis)adventures in reading

I did say that I would routinely write about what I’m reading (or what I’ve read or want to read). Today, as I watch my beloved Browns play in what I can only describe as an unmitigated disaster, I figured I’d start a new bit I’d like to call:

(mis)ADVENTURES IN READING! (cue singing and unicorns and glitterbombs)

Today’s book (or books, rather) is this:

Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy.

I LOVED these books. Like, a lot. A lot, a lot. Even though they were written for a young adult (read, not a woman in her late(ish) twenties), I fell in love with the story, the characters and the country of Panem. I don’t normally read science fiction or fantasy (with the exception of C.S. Lewis’s The Space Trilogy, which will definitely be written about later) and I definitely don’t enjoy many novels of the “Young Adult” persuasion (my hatred of Twilight and Bella and Edward Cullen knows no bounds), but at the urging of my dear friend, Jessica (who I mentioned before) the Librarian, I felt I had to give them a try.

The story centers around Katniss (who will be played by the lovely & talented Jennifer Lawrence in the upcoming film), a 16 year old girl from what I can only imagine is “the wrong side of the tracks”, a la Andie Walsh from “Pretty in Pink”. But instead of a coked out James Spader, Dad Harry Dean Stanton and a sweet boss at a record store (not to mention a bitchin’ wardrobe), Katniss has a useless mother, a little sister to care for and definitely no sweet prom dress to make. She does, however, have a super hot BFF (boy best friend) named Gale that could give Ducky a run for his money. But, instead of prom, she’ll be attending the 24th annual HUNGER GAMES!

Without giving away too much of the story (because, really, y’all should read it), the Hunger Games is a sadistic competition the government of Panem forces its citizens to put on every year. The games requires two “tributes” (aka, game pieces) to be chosen from each of the 12 districts in the country. When all 24 are chosen, they are taken to an “undisclosed location” (no, Dick Cheney was not there with them), trained, fed and then set loose in the wild to kill each other. Last man (or woman) standing wins. It’s sort of like “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets “Gossip Girl” (except waaaaaaaaay better). The Capitol claims that the Games are to be a reminder to the entire country that they are the ones in charge and no one can mess with the Capitol (sort of like the Jesus in “The Big Lebowski”).

Katniss becomes a tribute along with her classmate/sort-of-friend, Peeta (who will be played by the uber adorable Josh Hutcherson in the movie). They’re to be trained by Haymitch Abernathy, the last (and only) tribute from District 12 to win the Games. Haymitch is a rude, hilarious drunk and totally my favorite character. And not just because Woody Harrelson will be playing him. Haymitch is forced to train Katniss and Peeta in hopes of keeping them alive as long as possible.

Suzanne Collins is a terrific writer, plain and simple. She was able to move the plot along quickly and still give the reader enough background and history to give us a clear picture of Panem (and Katniss and Co.) AND to make us care about what happens to them. She managed to create a teenage female character that I didn’t want to throttle (I’m looking at you, Bella Swan), but rather, wanted to be my best friend.

  seriously, Katniss. Let’s be BFFs. We can do eachother’s nails and talk about how freaking cute Peta and Gale both are and how it’s totally unfair to have to choose!

 Again, seriously? Boys definitely did not look like that when I was 16.

But back to the book(s).

The entire concept is an interesting way of looking at statism and government rule from the perspective of a teenage girl. The Capitol (well, the people making up the Capitol) are an angry bunch of SOBs that are so afraid of uprising that they kill any hint of independent thought or voice. Scary stuff. I think it was (is) an excellent way to drive home the point that government control and power can corrupt when given (or rather, TAKEN) absolutely and that personal independence and freedom is the greatest gift a society can receive.

Well, that or two super cute boys fighting over you.