Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Available for purchase here.

As the name of this blog would imply, I’m a bookworm. I was a shy, quiet kid whose idea of an outdoor activity was taking whatever I happened to be reading out onto the patio. I slipped paperbacks into the pocket of my pink windbreaker (oh, 90’s fashion, how did we ever allow you to happen?) so that I could catch up on the exploits of Kristy and Mary Anne or Elizabeth and Jessica. So, in the lexicon of pop culture, there is perhaps no fictional figure I ever identified with as much as I did Matilda Wormwood.

I never owned my own copy of Roald Dahl’s childhood masterpiece, because, like his heroine, I had a deep and profound adoration for the mysticism and magic of the public library, but I did check out their copy so many times that between the years of 1994 and 1997 it’s possible no other child in Northeast Philadelphia got to read it. #SorryNotSorry.

Mara Wilson played Matilda in a film version so perfectly written, cast, and executed that I almost shy away from watching it as an adult for fear that my overly critical brain will pick apart this gem from my childhood. Wilson’s face is the face of 90’s nostalgia, playing the sweet, cute, curious kid we all empathized with in our favorite movies.

Wilson’s memoir touches on the years between her child star years and her re-emergence as an adult, working as a fresh and funny playwright, author, and storyteller. Her history is eminently relatable–she came from a sweetly stable life in suburban California where child acting was simply one option for after school activities, and she grew up with all of the awkward dithering of navigating the hierarchy of middle school friendships and the horror of first crushes, while she still manages to tell her story of growing up with OCD and the power of story in helping her realize that she had a treatable condition that didn’t have to consume her.

No memoir ever put to paper was written absent of tragedy, but Wilson’s was not the product of the excesses of fame or the indulgence Hollywood has for addiction, but simply from the loss of her mother at a tender age, due to breast cancer.

I can’t imagine my world without my mom now, so for Wilson to peel back the layers of her loss and share with the world how not having a mom right before the age a girl needs her mother the most is one of the most daring and empathetic aspects of her personal story. And the way her family and acting community extended their kindness towards her to help her through the loss is proof positive that all is not ever as dark as we perceive it.

Wilson is more clear-headed about her position in life than most people our age in general, even more so for someone who was processed through the fame machine. She’s been her own advocate for her mental health, survived great personal losses, and had to adjust her professional expectations all while balancing high school, and now, as an adult, she’s telling her story the same way she once consumed them. She is, in fact, much more like Matilda than anyone could’ve guessed twenty years ago.

You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart

Available for purchase here.

It’s a weird thing falling in the no-man’s land where there’s no collective agreement as to whether or not I’m a millennial. I have a fair amount in common with the Gen X’ers, but Ben Stiller is the only one in Reality Bites that I didn’t think was a tool, and he’s playing the father of young adults these days, while I’m still trying to master young adulthood. However, young adults are getting their entertainment through YouTube these days, while I go one there to play lyric videos while I’m writing. So the point is, I’m a little out of touch.

I discovered Mamrie Hart in an almost quaint way–wandering the humor section of my local bookstore. The summary on the back cover was enough to make me fall instantly in love–she’s funny, crass, bawdy, and provides killer drink recipes and a built-in game. She’s all I’ve ever wanted to be, and she gets paid for it. If this was a tweet I’d hashtag LifeGoals here.

In the ever expanding world of comedy, women have long been accused of not being funny. Not the women of Carol Burnett and Gilda Radnor’s era either–modern working women like Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling have had to deal with sexist rhetoric even while they’re OWNING the comedy market. But Hart is different. Maybe it’s the medium, but more likely it’s her own unique voice getting a chance to shine, because of those comedy giants that came before. She has as many stories of road trips, drunk shenanigans, and surprise nudity as any frat guy, with wit, charisma, and intelligence to spare.

Make no mistake, I’m still using YouTube primarily as a means to listen to Robyn and Def Leppard in between Against Me!, My Chemical Romance, and my zillionth sing-along to American Idiot the musical, but the next time I’m considering Netflix and Chill (literally, and by myself), I might click on YouTube instead. Because Hart’s right. I do deserve a drink.