Project Re-Read

I recently read Shelf Discovery, which was (DUH) great. If you are a lady (and you probably are, if you’re reading this) and you read a lot as a girl (once again, you probably did), you’ll love this book. It got me thinking, though, about how I never hear anyone talk about some of my favorite books from when I was a kid. Sure, everyone loves Lois Lowry, but no one ever mentions her Anastasia series. Her writer dad! Her artist mom! Her weird genius brother, Sam! The time she wanted her name on her shirt but it was too long! There’s a lot to say about Anastasia, but that’s not the point right now. Right now, I want to talk about Alice.
The most influential books of my childhood were by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and they were about a girl named Alice McKinley. Alice is starting the sixth grade when the series begins, and as of now, she’s in her senior year of high school. Yes, I still read these, and yes, I know that a new one comes out every May. Whatever!
Alice is one of the most interesting characters in young adult fiction, and it pains me that no one ever mentions her! Everyone’s all “The Giver” this and “A Wrinkle in Time” that. But Alice was something else. Her mom died when she was little, so she lives with her dad and her (hot despite the name) older brother, Lester. She is constantly embarrassed, which I know is what instantly attracted me. I think a lot of young girls live in a perpetual state of misery and mortification, and Alice is incredibly easy to relate to. Take this passage, from The Agony of Alice, the first book in the series:

“I found a copy of a poem I had written in third grade:

There are lots of drops in the ocean,
There are lots of stars in the blue;
But in the whole state of Maryland,
There’s only one person like you.

I stopped worrying about the crayons and cringed at the poem. Do you know who I wrote it for? My father? My grandfather? Aunt Sally? The milkman, when the company stopped home deliveries. Because he looked so sad when he told us. I hardly even knew him.

The reason I worry about my mind is that as soon as I remembered the milkman, I wondered if he was still alive, and somewhere, deep inside me, I sort of hoped he wasn’t. I didn’t want anybody remembering that poem.”

Now if that’s not the best thing you’ve ever read, I don’t even want to hear it. I still feel like that sometimes. I think we’ve all written a few poems to the milkman in our time.

I love these books so much, and since I have no one to talk about them with, I decided to reread the series and write about it here. I managed to find the cover I read as a kid for the first book in the series:

Here are some things I’m excited to read again:

-Lester’s two girlfriends, Marilyn and Crystal!
-the train ride where Pamela was groped!
-when Patrick took Alice to that nice restaurant and she put the rose between her teeth!
-the stupid principal Sylvia was dating!
-the letter from their mom Lester thought he lost…it still makes me sad to think about it!
-EVERYTHING.

Creative Lady Inspiration: Miranda July

MJ
“Whenever I see people have a long answer to that question [“Are you a feminist?”], I’m just like, “What’s confusing about that?” It’s just being pro your ability to do what you need to do. I doesn’t mean you don’t love your boyfriend or whatever. And I wouldn’t go out with any guy who wasn’t a feminist. But I guess for people, especially once you kind of get more well-known, labels get really scary because it’s a reduction of who you are. When I say “feminist,” I mean that in the most complex, interesting, exciting way!”

SLBs

I am not single. Let’s get that out of the way, so I don’t let all you guys out there get ahead of yourselves and wind up disappointed. I engage in a lot of Single Lady Behaviors, though, because I do not live with my SO. SO, of course, stands for Significant Other, which I say instead of “boyfriend” because “boyfriend” makes me feel 14, and “Significant Other” makes me feel delightfully pretentious. As opposed to “partner,” which makes me feel like a lesbian professor, or “lover” which makes me feel like dying because OH GROSS.
Single Lady Behaviors (henceforth known as SLBs) include: cooking a lot of cauliflower. Lighting scented candles because your apartment smells like cauliflower. Owning scented candles. Compulsively checking the locks on doors and 2nd story windows (murderers can buy ladders just as easily as the rest of us, it’s not like you need a background check). And, of course, eating frozen dinners.
I’m not talking about this sort of thing.disgusting.
Clearly, it says “Hungry Man,” so it’s not appropriate for ladies! Also, it’s disgusting, so it’s not appropriate for human consumption.
Is there anything more “single-lady” than a Kashi frozen dinner? Kind of healthy, low-cal, and includes lots of veggies and whole grains. The box brags about how biodegradable it is, all like, “What have YOU done lately?”
Yeah, there is one thing more “single lady” than a Kashi frozen dinner, and that’s buying a Kashi frozen dinner on clearance at Target. Oh, I went there. And then I got excited about eating it and sauteed some organic zucchini to go along with it because, Kashi, you just can’t meet my vegetable needs!

Style Inspiration: Dolly and Cher

Let’s imagine you just asked me a question: “If you could look like any woman in the world, who would it be?”
My answer would be: “A cross between young Dolly Parton and Moonstruck-era Cher.”
If you said something like, “Um, that’s two people. Or not a person. Either way it didn’t answer my question,” then I would know we couldn’t be friends.
I think about Dolly Parton and Cher CONSTANTLY. I wish I had Cher’s height, her shiny hair, her bold, ethnic features. I also wish I had Dolly’s dream combo of petiteness and bustiness (I’m hoping 26 will be the year my breasts come in. Fingers crossed!). When I look at Dolly, my mind automatically starts thinking of classy, old lady words to describes boobs. Like “bosoms.” Or “chest.” At some point in the future, I’ll detail my love of these ladies, but for now…Dolly and Cher
For now I’m just glad this picture exists.