memoir

White Girl Problems -AND- Psychos – Babe Walker

 

 

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“Everyone makes fun of me during group sessions. Their nickname for me is ‘White Girl Problems’. I know that Jackson and the rest of the cast of Trainspotting think that because I grew up in Bel Air, they know what I’m all about. They don’t. My life is not a joke, and that nickname is actually so f*cking rude.”

“By the time we sashayed through the door, all the pieces of my quest to lose my virginity were falling into place. I could see the finish line in the distance. I could hear the cheers of my loved ones on the sidelines; they were handing me cups of water that I was pouring on my head. They were throwing me PowerBars, and I was slapping them, because everyone knows PowerBars are nothing but carbs and sugar, with barely less regret than a Snickers bar. P.S. I would never run a f*cking marathon.”

“Genevieve thinks I’m crazy to spend so much money on my teeth, but Genevieve doesn’t know what my nightmares look like.”

“However, the most important thing I can leave you is the following wisdom: Never accept a marriage proposal from a man in open toed shoes. He’s either gay or a gypsy. Never cry. It causes swelling. Doctors, lawyers and princes come and go. Oil money lasts forever. Get your first face-lift by the time you’re forty-two after that it’s too late. Don’t go to bed with a full face of makeup on, unless you think you may die in your sleep. You should never have to work to make a living. You’re smarter than that. I miss you already, my love, and I’ll be watching over you. So spend my money with good taste. I deserve that.”

 

This week I read both White Girl Problems and the upcoming sequel Psychos (to be released April 29th). We’ve all laughed at the hilarious Twitter account that catalyzed the development of these books, but in order to properly understand the sequel I figured I should read the first one as well. As per the publisher’s request I did not include any quotes from the much anticipated Babe Walker follow up, but did include a few quotes from WGP to give you a feel for the tone of both of the books.

Normally, I am not into this kind of stuff. Ignorance and entitlement are two traits that I usually loath, so I was a bit worried about reading two whole novels that are rooted in that stuff. Right off the top I do have to say that I feel this book should be called Rich Girl Problems, instead of White. Just sayin’. Other than that, I have to admit I found these books entertaining. I couldn’t help it. If you can sit back and enjoy them without judgement, and focus on the fact that they’re a great satire on the ridiculously wealthy youth of today, they’re actually really funny.

In White Girl Problems we meet Babe Walker, a fictional twenty something daughter of a wealthy entertainment lawyer (he bankrolls her ridiculous lifestyle) who is obsessed with shopping, fashion, not eating solid food, and trying to maintain control of her alter ego Babette. After she spends nearly $300,000 at Barney’s during a mental breakdown she realizes it’s time to go to rehab for her shopping and/or substance abuse issues, but mainly her shopping. She pens this “memoir” during her time in rehab, and it covers a full range of topics. Some of the chapter titles should give you an idea of what these topics include:

Sorry For Texting You 93 Times Last Night

My Vagina is Bullsh*t

Every Job I’ve Ever Had Is The Worst Job I’ve Ever Had

I’m sure you get the drift.

Psychos, the much anticipated follow up, takes place after Babe gets out of rehab, and her dad has taken the manuscript for the first book and gotten it published. It ends up being incredibly successful, and kind of changes Babe’s life, since now she’s more than a socialite, she’s actually kind of a celebrity. I preferred this one to the first one. I felt like Babe was a much more likable character because she really was trying to get better post rehab, and she was able to step back and realize her ridiculous behavior more. Well, just barely, but she tries. In addition this one had a much better flow and I found was easier to read. I can’t include any quotes or plot points, but the tone is a slightly more mature one than that of the first book.

With summer just around the corner, I would recommend these as some great beach reads. They’re light, funny, and completely ridiculous. But, sometimes you just have to stop taking life so seriously and read something silly. I don’t think these books are for everyone, but I am someone who usually can’t stand listening to entitled people complain and I still enjoyed them. If Babe gets too annoying for you, just remember that these books are written by two males and one female as a SATIRE. They’re supposed to be absurd and larger than life.

 

Happy reading lovelies!

OMPP

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape – Jenna Miscavige Hill

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“Later on after the criminal charges against the Church were dropped, it was explained to Scientologists by my Uncle Dave that a conviction in this case would have endangered the Church’s tax exempt status, and thus its hold on the copyrights themselves, which would have been catastrophic to the Church.”

“In addition to calling out people publicly for mistakes, they often also made mention of highly personal things that were unethical, like that person’s masturbation habits or some other personal thing that would embarrass him or her. Usually these announcements were gruesome exaggerations of the truth, but what made them worse was that they were always sent out to the entire base of 500 people, so everyone knew your business.”

“LRH said that trying to study past a misunderstood word was the prime factor in stupidity, and was at the root of all wrongdoing and misbehavior that might lead to criminality.”

“Either way, I did what any good Scientologist was supposed to do: I didn’t question it.”

 

I’m going to be honest, other than Tom Cruise’s ramblings and couch jumping episodes, I didn’t know much about Scientology before reading this book. I knew that it had several celebrity endorsers, and that it was a relatively new “religion” as it had only been invented in the late sixties by a science fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard.

Yes, that’s right, I said invented.

It was only after LRH (since everything in Scientology is referred to by acronyms) failed at selling the idea for the basis of Scientology as a MOVIE SCRIPT, that he began to push it as a religion. He has even been quoted as saying, “You don’t get rich writing Science Fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology. Beyond Belief is her story about being brought up as a Scientologist, and how she eventually escaped what can really only be classified as a cult. Sorry, not sorry.

While I found the content of this book to be fascinating, initially the prose was flat, boring, and difficult to get through, especially for the first half. I feel this is because of the way children of Scientology are raised to learn, speak, and accept authority. The second half of the book however was much more interesting, and it seems her writing comes alive when she does. Once she really starts to accept the simple fact that she has endured years of brain washing, child abuse, and intentional isolation from family and friends, the writing felt passionate, inspired, and strong, and I began to really enjoy it.

Her story is one of courage and strength, and I find it extremely admirable she has cofounded the website http://www.exscientologykids.com, to help and support those who wish to leave the organization. Regardless of if you know a lot about Scientology already, or you don’t know anything at all, I do recommend this book. I found it eye opening, and it inspired me to do a great deal more research into Scientology. By the way, if you haven’t checked out the South Park episode on what Scientologists really believe in? Please do. It’s a brief but precise explanation of Scientology at its finest.

The whole concept of Scientology would almost be humorous if you didn’t know about the horrible living conditions, child abuse, and exploitation of the people currently stuck within the confines of the organization. Read this one and be prepared to have your world rocked.

Until next time,

OMPP

I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag – Jennifer Gilbert

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“I’ve been to crazy parties where kids decimated the liquor cabinets and desecrated the bedrooms.”

“I saw the shadow side of having fixed expectations. They are an awfully hard thing to live up to. If you spend your time measuring your reality against your fantasy, you’re inevitably going to lose the joy of just being in the moment.”

“The club filled up, and Prince came on around three in the morning, in a space no bigger than my living room. I still remember the exhilarating feeling of walking out onto the streets of Paris at 7 AM, sweaty from dancing all night, the sound of street sweepers and the smell of croissants just coming out of boulangerie ovens. It was magical.”

“Outsource everything but your soul. Identify the ‘soul’ of your business (which most of the time is the thing that makes you supremely happy) and hire everyone else to do the rest.”

“You can’t control what may happen to you in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens. It’s a very simple yet powerful statement. Instead of fearing what will happen for my children in the future, I can just love them for who they are now. Instead of fighting my body, I can give thanks for it. Instead of questioning my husband’s love, I can accept it with open arms. And instead of worrying about life and what it has in store for me, I can throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride.”

I really, really enjoyed I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert. I have actually been pursuing a career in the event planning industry for a little while now, trying to learn the ropes and what not by taking courses and reading books, so a memoir from one of the top event planners EVER seemed like a no brainer for my next read of the year. I didn’t even bother reading the jacket, as the title alone had me hooked. (I wasn’t feeling well this week and had the book with me while waiting at the clinic – even the doctor commented that it was an awesome title!)

What I thought was going to be a fun little light read about the dreams and nightmares of event planning became much more serious when the author shared a very intimate secret; at twenty-two Jennifer Gilbert was the victim of a random and brutal attack that left her alone and nearly dead from over thirty stab wounds (with a screw driver!?). Suddenly, the book’s tag line, ‘A Memoir of a Life Through Events – the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t’ took on a whole new meaning.

After the attack, Mrs. Gilbert chose to move past what had happened by becoming an event planner. She believed she would never feel joy of her own anymore, so decided to celebrate as many events for other people that she possibly could. This memoir is the story of how she rebuilt her life after being attacked, and it was an extraordinary read. The whole thing is written with such a genuine honesty that you really root for her success, and rather than coming across as preachy, her quotes/messages/mantra’s feel as though they’re coming from your best friend. Additionally, for someone trying to break into the event planning industry she has some extraordinary entrepreneurial advice.

I don’t want to say much more as I really want you guys to check this one out sometime. Bravo Mrs. Gilbert. Bravo.

Until next time,

OMPP

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby

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“But I see in the clothing a symbol of continuing life. And proof that I still want to be myself. If I must drool, I may as well drool on cashmere.”

“In one section are a score of comatose patients, patients at deaths door, plunged into endless night. They never leave their rooms. Yet everyone knows they are there, and they weigh strangely on our collective awareness, almost like a guilty conscience.”

“The city, that monster with a hundred mouths and a thousand ears, a monster that knows nothing but says everything, had written me off.”

Over the weekend I was really trying to be productive, however as per usual, the internet happened. I did however come across a list of “32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life”. Yes, I know, it’s on BuzzFeed – but still interesting nonetheless. I decided to read the first book on their list (one that I had heard a lot about for many years) and go from there.

For those of you who haven’t heard of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, it’s really quite a fascinating memoir. At forty-three-years-old, Bauby, the editor of French Elle magazine, suffered a horrible stroke that left him completely paralyzed. I mean completely. A once witty and outgoing man, Bauby now found himself unable to move anything, except his left eye. This memoir was written was composed by him blinking his left eye when his transcriber recited the letter he was looking for. Originally written in French, apparently the book took about 200,000 blinks to complete. Unfortunately it was published only two days before his death in 1996, so Bauby never really got to see how his poetic and endearing memoir would go on to become an international bestseller, and greatly impact many people across the world.

I can’t even imagine how anyone could remain so positive when their entire life is taken away from them unexpectedly in a matter of minutes. This beautifully written memoir truly is a reminder of how special life is, and how we must do our best to appreciate every moment we have with the ones we love. Bauby reminds us to stop and smell the roses, to not sweat the small stuff, to make time for people and not things, and he does it in such a sweetly sardonic way that as a reader I felt torn between savoring every page, and devouring the whole thing in one sitting.

Lovely. Just lovely.

xo.

OMPP

What Falls Away – Mia Farrow

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“I discovered that whatever your losses, you can still for the most part choose your attitude. If you have your health, a little courage, and imagination, then you have the internal resources to build a new life, and maybe a better one.”

“In New York City, Dali had accumulated an eclectic assortment of companions, including a beautiful hermaphrodite, a ballet dancer, a scientists, a woman who resembled George Washington, a dapper little man who managed some aspect of the Dali’s affairs – el Capitan as he was called – who had an accent, wore a uniform from no known place, and was usually accompanied by an ocelot.”

“I have respect for life in any form,” Frank said at that time. “I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, and everything I can see. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. I don’t believe in a personal god to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.”

“… how cavalier we are with time, as if it were not irreplaceable.”

“The last time we spoke, I told Woody I thought that something in him must have ruptured. I don’t know why I bothered saying again how much he’d taken from all the kids, and maybe from Soon-Yi even more than from Dylan. When I begged him for the children’ s sake to stop the publicity circus, he told me “he hadn’t even begun; that I was already the laughing stock of the country” and that “by the time I’m finished with you, there will be nothing left.” When I howled at him that in court he wouldn’t be able to say things that weren’t true, he replied, “It doesn’t matter what’s true; all that matters is what’s believed.”

This book was an interesting choice for me, as I never really was a big fan of Mia Farrow, and to be honest knew very little about her life. But that, in addition to her son Ronan Farrow’s recent tweet after the Golden Globes this year in which he stated “Missed the Woody Allen tribute — did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”, had me really curious about what exactly the real story was.

I have always been a huge fan of Woody Allen’s movies, even dressing up as Annie Hall for one of my character classes when I was still living in LA. However I, like most people, do not take allegations of child abuse lightly, and felt a weird juxtaposition of emotions concerning the man, and his art. I began this book not knowing if it would give me more of an opinion on the situation.

What Falls Away is an interesting and very personal look into the lives of many of Hollywood’s “greats” during a golden era. Born to famous parents herself, Mia was brought up playing with Bette Davis’ daughter, spent a great deal of time with Salvador Dali as a father figure, went to ashram’s with The Beatles, married Frank Sinatra, a man very much her senior while still a teen, and was even toasted by Dean Martin with, “Hey, I’ve got a bottle of scotch that’s older than you.” Her twelve year relationship with Woody Allen ended after thirteen movies together, and what would remain a lifetime of controversy.

Many of the anecdotes Ms. Farrow discusses are interesting, even inspiring. I especially enjoyed the story of Dali showing up on her 19th birthday with a beautifully painted glass container that held a rat consuming a lizard, stating that it was “violence in a bottle.” I found myself eager to know more, even if I found her writing, at times, to be simply too eager at sounding poetic, resulting in a convoluted attempt at masking the prosaic. That being said, this happened infrequently, and didn’t alter my experience reading the book. Additionally, while I greatly admire Ms. Farrow’s humanitarian efforts, and the fact she has raised 14 children, most of whom were adopted and special needs, I found her diction concerning these adoptions a bit perplexing; are you searching for a new member of your family or playing ‘eenie meenie miny moe’ from a catalogue of the third world? If any of you read it, you’ll see what I mean.

Even doing my best to remain objective and take everything I read with a grain of salt – after all, there are always multiple sides to every story and Mr. Allen was never convicted of molesting his seven year old daughter, I must say that What Falls Away made me take a step back and view both him, and his art in a very different light. Even if he didn’t molest his daughter, he did most definitely carry on a sexual relationship with his nineteen year old step daughter while he was still in a relationship with her mother. Historic movie genius, or sick and twisted child abuser: it’s a weird dichotomy to say the least.

Check it out folks – it’s an interesting read.

Xo

OMPP