My challenge today was to write a book review and to be honest, I'm kind of cheating. Technically, I wrote this review almost three years ago and posted it to my tumblr blog. But since I bet no one actually read it back then, I can get away with it, right? I recently came across this article and as I reread it, every word rang as true for me today as it did when I wrote it. I love this book enough to share it again and hope it inspires you to read it, as well. I did make some edits, so I'm not totally plagiarizing myself!
So I read Tina Fey's "Bossypants" and I’m sure everyone is thinking, “That is so three [now six!] years ago!” But I can say that this book found me at just the right time in my life. If I had read this book as an 18-year old—when it came out—it would have meant absolutely nothing to me. I may have even been put off by some of the “adult” content that made my innocence blush (which secretly, and perhaps guiltily, also made me laugh.) And the hype has finally died down enough to actually find a copy in the local library.
I couldn’t put the book down. I held my pee for an extremely unhealthy amount of time because the baristas at the downtown Starbucks give you dirty looks when you take literature into the bathroom. But they don’t bat an eye when I take my peppermint tea in there. Now, that stuff can destroy a bathroom, if you know what I mean. Just ask Dr. Oz. But I digress. If you haven’t read this book yet, here’s a list of topics that resonated with me. I believe they sum up the book fairly accurately.
1. Stories of working at the YMCA - I, too, could write a novella on the subject after spending more than two years working at one. However, Fey has me beat simply by the fact that her YMCA was located just outside Chicago.
2. Stories of trying to impress boys - I was having a flashback as Fey wrote of the time she climbed “Old Rag Mountain” in Virginia in the middle of the night, hoping to impress a guy who had his sights set on some other girl. It reminded me of the time I did the same thing in Oregon, hiking for hours in little white Keds sneakers to show off for a college crush. Thankfully, our hike was in the middle of the day and it did end in a kiss! - but ultimately heartbreak, all in the same day.
3. Maxi pads - Enough said.
4. Improv - Women like Tina Fey are an inspiration to female improvisers everywhere. I know what it’s like to be told, “Women aren’t funny.” Well, I didn’t start doing improv to be funny. I started to become a better actor and continued because I fell in love with the art. There’s nothing like creating, in the moment, a brilliant story with a group of brilliant people. Except maybe creating a brilliant story with a group of brilliant people and get paid brilliantly for it. I especially love the improv concept of "Yes, and . . ." - meaning you are always accepting and adding to the scene. I wish everyone were as accepting and supportive as improvisers. Especially my parents while I was growing up. Instead of hearing, “No!” all the time, at least once I would have liked to hear, “Yes! You can paint your bedroom walls black and Sharpie-tattoo angsty lyrics all over your body … AND, while you’re at it, start calling us by our first names. Mom and Dad just sound so lame.” Think of how great I could have grown up to be!
5. Inflated vocabulary - This isn’t so much a topic of her book as it is something she does. I felt intellectually stimulated every time she used words like vacillate, interstitial, and Gifted Program. I was the same weirdo (is it OK to call Tina Fey a weirdo?) who was quite sesquipedalian. I was the only one in my elementary school class who had seen Back to the Future, so I took advantage of that by BS-ing stories about the space-time continuum and flux capacitor - blah blah blah - just to sound smart. I sounded more like a smart-ass. Kids literally ran away from me. And I literally ran after them, spouting off as many complex words as I could. And I’m not being facetious. I highly recommend this book, if nothing else, for the educational value it provides.
The more I read, the more I began to feel that I was Tina Fey. Although, she will undoubtedly deny this. I feel this way every time I see an intriguing movie or get sucked into a vivid book. I’m inspired to the point that the characters I fall in love with become a part of me. It’s the feeling that convinced me I was going to become an actor. Here are a few of the people I have become throughout the course of my short life: Marcia Brady, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen (during my rebellious phase), Lizzie McGuire, Daisy Duke, a Cheetah Girl (does anyone know what that is anymore?), Marty McFly, and a Canadian. I even bought the book, “So You Want to be a Canadian?” Then I realized Michael J. Fox isn’t actually my age. Curse those reruns.
I took on their mannerisms and mimicked their accents. I dressed like them and reacted to situations as though I were them. It was truly annoying to everyone around. Some adults urged me to “be normal” and “be yourself.” Then one day I realized: I AM being myself. I can’t say the same about “normal.” I never pretended to like things I didn’t actually like. I never went so far as to have surgery and cut my hair during those Marty McFly days. I was and am An Actor. An observer of human nature. An entertainer. I remember seeing Baby Mama in the theater and thinking, “I am Tina Fey.” She was immediately inducted into my hall of fame of characters. Do I sound like a crazy stalker yet?
*Random fact* I once yelled out, “Tina Fey” in response to the ask-for: “What is your spirit animal?” at an improv show. Needless to say, they accepted it and it was the best scene ever.
When the book was finally over, two short days later, I felt lost. But I also felt incredibly hopeful that my future is going to be everything I dreamed of and more. If Tina Fey can find success despite leaked photos of her with a shag haircut, I can be President … not that I’d want to. I already take it personally when preschoolers are mean to me. I don’t think I could handle half of the population doing the same.
So go read this book. 100% of women will find something to relate to in her stories. 100% of men will at least be entertained. You can find all this awesomeness for FREE at your public library. If you do not have a library card, one will be provided to you at your public library.
Now, it’s time for me to take a deep breath and go read Amy Poehler’s new book!