Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

coverMany people like to think they grew up weird. Whether they themselves were the oddball in their square family or the straight lace with crooked kin, few can say with absolute certainty that they had a normal childhood (whatever that is). Then there is Jenny “the Bloggess” Lawson, beloved blogger and author of the memoir Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened. She not only had a very… different childhood, her peculiarity continues to this day. Her memoir chronicles her interesting life so far, with promises of more books in the future. Followers of Lawson’s blog may recognize a few of the stories, but for the most part they are new and super awesome.

cathead1I laughed really hard while reading Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened, (and while I was supposed to be paying attention in class.) Even though she inadvertently got me in trouble, I bear Lawson no grudge. I thoroughly enjoyed the childhood section of the memoir. Though her family was poor, Jenny, along with her younger sister Lisa, mostly enjoyed their time in a small town called Wall, Texas. The most interesting parts tended to be about her father. When he was not bringing home dangerous animals such as bobcats (and randomly throwing them on people), he was in his taxidermy shop covered in blood, making up fantasy animals, and hanging out with murderers and ex-convicts.

designall.dllJenny’s mother’s motto of “what won’t kill you makes you stronger” was tested on more than one occasion. From “quail” (actually turkey) attacks to radon in the well water, what the family lacked in money was made up in dangerous and potentially lethal situations. It’s a poor pamphlet on parenting, but a thought-provoking section nonetheless.

Another part in the book that would interest a small, but important section of the working world is when she worked in HR (human resources) for a religious organization. Here she reveals a close kept secret of the HR world: they are paid to look at porn. Well, actually they are paid to monitor people to make sure they are not looking at porn, but apparently people are always looking at porn. Really, anyone who has had a job can appreciate this section of the book, because we have all worked with crazy people, or know someone who has. If you haven’t, you are that person. Stop it.


Know where the line is.

We also read about Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor (a former Neil Patrick Harris look-alike), their sweet miracle of a daughter Hailey, and her cats Hunter S. Tomcat, Rolly and Ferris Mewler. However Jenny’s life is not all giant metal anniversary chickens and humanly taxidermy squirrels in cowboy hats. Though she has a sharp wit, and a stimulating mind, Jenny has more than a few issues. She has general anxiety disorder which causes her to have panic attacks, and fears crowds of people. She also has rheumatoid arthritis along with other problems that cause her no end of grief. Despite it all she has her sense of humor, and Lawson’s personality shines through every word she writes. There is no one else who is quite like her, and I highly recommend you check out this book. Though I read the book before I started reading her blog, I also would endorse her blog, which she updates regularly.

Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat

book coverIn popular blogger Victoria Fedden’s independently published memoir Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, Victoria was having a tough time. Just when she thought everything was going fine, her long-time fiancé broke up with her, stole her house (yes, apparently that is possible), sued her, and moved in with another girl. Twenty-six, heartbroken, homeless, and swamped with legal fees, she had no choice but to leave Atlanta, Georgia and move in with her eccentric parents.

Unfortunately they live in South Florida; those who read her blog Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds know South Florida is a very… interesting place. Once there, Victoria is pushed by her parents to accept a job as a hostess at the Bubblegum Kittikat, South Florida’s “klassiest” gentlemen’s club. Though somewhat shy, and more than a little nerdy, she decides to go for it, needing both the money and the distraction. There she meets the patrons, the doormen, and the dancers, each with a past and a story.

live nude girls

As opposed to dead ones.

As a longtime reader of Fedden’s hilariously weird blog Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds, I was both excited and impatient to read her first book. When I heard it was going to be about her time working in a strip club, I just about danced with joy. Like many people, I am fascinated by the darker sides of society. What would make a woman be willing to take of her clothes for money? Is there only one type of body type at these sorts of clubs, and what was it like behind the stage? I was hoping the book would be filled to the brim with weird people; I especially wanted to read more about the people who are just on the fringe of the sex industry. The bouncers, the bartenders, the hostess, the waitresses, the managers, and how they viewed things. In most novels that have strippers, there is actually very little about them, while strippers are portrayed as heartless whores who would do anything for more money, and while at times that was true there was far more to it. They are human after all.

Victoria Fedden

Just, you know, hotter.

Speaking of human, while her book is about the club, it is still solidly a memoir. Fedden is known as a funny blogger, and in this regard she never fails. However, the book it is not all glitter and crazy stories. While working and shopping to her heart’s content, Victoria is looking for love in all the wrong places and for mostly the wrong reasons, all of which she admits and goes over in painful detail. Throughout the book the reader can feel her frustration and the perfect clarity of hindsight is punishing, but like any good memoir, it has lessons that she learns and the reader learns along with her. She makes mistakes that many women can relate to, if only because the events really happened (and can potentially happen to anyone). Victoria goes on dates with guys who are arrogant, creepy (one had a mullet), and some who seem okay, but turn out to be strange in some fashion or another.

Hannibal Lecter, seriel killer, cannibal

You could say I’m a people person.

These dates are some of the best parts of the novel and though they often made me cringe, they also often made me laugh the most. As a warning there is some intimate partner abuse, swearing, some premarital sexing, undressing, and other things that people may be offended by, but it is all entertaining and nothing is unnecessarily embellished for the sake of storytelling. Throughout her memoir, I wondered if Fedden would succumb to the seduction of greed and “glamor” and finally get on the pole. Does she dance? You’re going to have to read the book to find out. It is currently available only in the electronic version on Amazon and Barnes & Noble but the printed ones are sure to come soon. So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Do you know a book or movie you would like me to review? Post it in the comments below!

Web Crush Wednesdays: Two Whole Cakes

Have you ever run into that one site that seemed as though it was made just for you?

Back when I was in college, I went through a series of months where I just felt incredibly shitty about myself. Nothing I did was right and perhaps because of my Virgo nature I judged myself about one hundred times more harshly than anyone else. I just couldn’t find my worth. It was at this time in my life that I came across ‘Two Whole Cakes’ (or ‘Fatshionista’ as it happened to be called when I first read it), a blog focused on calling out the prevalence of body policing in everyday pop-culture with some sass on the side. For those months when I read through archives in their entirety, author Lesley Kinzel became my goddess and I slowly, but surely, began to allow myself a grace I had never allowed myself before: I began to accept that I was never going to fit into those size six jeans and, more important still, that this didn’t mar my worth as a person.

In fact, the more I read, the more I realized that I was quite similar to Lesley not only in terms of the physical, but also in terms of interests. Although these days it’s much easier to find a female opinion on things of a geeky nature, it’s less so to find one from one that will openly state that they’re overweight. While this might not seem like a big deal to some, it really is. Especially when considering that the female image in video games and comics is so strictly controlled by males who, let’s face it, probably belong to the ‘no fat chicks allowed’ club. Lesley helped open my eyes to these types of issues, and after reading her site was the first time I ever thought to myself, “I can do this. I can write about this.”

But why bring this site up now? Well, for one, it’s wonderful and I really think everyone should read at least a couple of the posts on there, especially if you have any feelings on the body positivity movement. For another, I want to thank Lesley for what she and her blog have done for me in the small chance that she sees this. Also, and perhaps more selfishly, with the holidays coming and going as they do, there’s a little bit of a stigma around enjoying yourself to the fullest. What I mean is that a vast majority of us overeat during the holidays and then feel like shit about it afterwards, especially when the new year comes and there’s a whole new batch of diet commercials that only serve to remind you of dinner plates past. However, not this year! This year, I shall remind myself that indulging once or twice a year doesn’t make me awful. That gaining a pound or two is perfectly acceptable. That my body is my own and that others need to step off if they ever think telling me what to do with my body is acceptable (unless asked). So you, dear readers, if at any time during this holiday you feel like curling up on your bed and marathon-ing all of Doctor Who with a bottle of champagne and a bowl full of cookies at your side, do it. And don’t let anyone else make you feel worse for the decision.

I’ll leave you with the author herself talking explaining her blog better than I ever could.