Book Review: Eligible

When I was about 12 years old, I walked into a video rental store with my dad on the search for something for the both of us to watch together. An employee in her mid sixties insisted that we rent Pride and Prejudice, a movie that had just come out starring Kiera Knightley. We rented it. We hated it. But don’t worry! Three years later in my English class, I found the book. I read it and loved it. I watched the movie the lady at the movie rental store recommended and have since watched it enough to almost memorize every movement. I even took a class called Jane Austen in Film when I was in college, and I wrote a detailed paper on the 2005 film. Pride and Prejudice is one of those timeless stories to me, which is why I jumped at the chance to read a modern retelling called Eligible.sittenfeld_eligible3 I liked Curtis Sittenfeld’s book, but not as much as the original. However, let’s be honest- it had a lot to live up to. I wouldn’t read it if you’re looking for any type of surprise; Sittenfeld follows the plot very carefully. Therefore, there are spoilers ahead because all of the major plot points occur in the retelling.

At times, Eligible was a little heavyhanded, but this is to be expected with satire. Like in the original, the characters and their hobbies were a bit outlandish. Lydia and Kitty are Crossfit junkies. Calm, level-headed Jane is a yoga instructor. Mr. Collins, known as “Willie” in Eligible, is a step-cousin with a proclivity for tech startups. The most humorous and thought-provoking twist was the inclusion of reality television- Chip Bingley is on a dating show that eventually airs his wedding with Jane Bennet.

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My beloved edition of P&P from my trip to England alongside Eligible

An interesting turn in the book was the take on the character Wickham. Instead of Wickham being a quasi-love interest for Lizzy and Lydia like in the original, Sittenfeld divides him into two men. Jasper Wick is Lizzy’s love interest at the beginning of the book; he is married, but both he and his wife participate in extramarital affairs. He knew Darcy when they both attended Stanford, and Darcy was on the board that got Jasper kicked out during his last semester. When Lizzy finds out about his misdeeds, she basically ghosts him by ignoring his texts, which seemed slightly immature for a 38-year-old woman. Ham Ryan is the other half of Wickham; while he never shows interest in Lizzy, Ham is the owner of the Crossfit gym Lydia attends. Like in the original, Ham and Lydia run away together and elope. The translated drama from the original is Ham outing himself as transgender to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Instead of being a marriage of convenience (they had to get married for the sake of their propriety in the first book), Lizzy observes that they genuinely seem happy together and in love.

Many people see Pride and Prejudice as a representation of the social customs of its time, which makes me wonder- since the original is a “novel of manners,” is the world of reality television the manner in which we live now? Will people look back on this generation and use reality television as a label?

 

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Sisterhood: Something I Lost and Found Again

A lot of my closest friends have gotten engaged or married this summer, and every one of them had or will have their sister standing beside them as they take their vows. I’ve got to admit, it makes me a little sad if I dwell on it because it reminds me of a little hole I carry around. One day I’ll get married, and my elder sister won’t be there beside me after I walk down the aisle because she passed away unexpectedly when I was a freshman in college. The last thing she told me was that she was proud of me, but I didn’t know she was saying goodbye.

It took years to find a semblance of peace after her death rocked my family. But with my sister leaving this world a little earlier than expected, I’ve had the privilege of creating my own patchwork sisterhoods. Right after Alicia passed away, I went back to college carrying so much more baggage than just my suitcases. I became an RA then, arguably during my least emotionally available period of young adulthood so far. But my fellow RAs, especially my friend Emma and our leader Felicia, embraced the mess and became like my sisters. They sat with me on Felicia’s couch and cried with me as I finally started dealing with the pain I’d bottled up after my sister died.

And I keep making more tiny sisterhoods. Finding those women who validate me but also pull me up by my bootstraps. Ladies like Emma and my dear friends Katie and Caroline and Britt and others who have lived with me in the last few years. Friends who understand my brain and my mental illnesses. Ladies who have been my friends for years who had become like sisters when I didn’t realize it. Older friends who give me life advice when things start going to ashes. Women who tell me they’re proud of me.

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Yesterday, I posted the picture above after my best friend Lindsey chose her wedding dress (!!!). And her sister commented, “If I can’t be there I am glad her other, other sister is! Thanks so much Annette for being amazing!” Gosh, it made me cry. Thank you to all of my sisters out there. I lost my biological sister, but I didn’t lose y’all. This post is a love letter to all of the women who have embraced me and been my sisters when I thought that wasn’t possible anymore.

Joint Podcast and Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

Let me make one thing clear: while I’m a creative, I have no desire to be an entrepreneur. Sophia’s quips and stories about her business growing were interesting to read, but I don’t aspire to build a clothing empire or even own a juice shop. However, since she’s a badass lady, a lot of Sophia Amoruso’s tips and tricks apply to any woman who wants to take control of her life. So while the podcast and book are better for you marketing majors out there looking for your big break, I’d recommend it for any 20-something trying to make it through proverbial pressure that creates a diamond.

 

THE PODCAST, #GIRLBOSS Radio

Each episode starts with a #girlbossmoment, a time when Amoruso shares listeners’ moments during the week when they felt the most in control of their life. This could include quitting a job (like me!) or taking time for self care. Then, Amoruso brings on a guest. Most of the guests are business owners and entrepreneurs (such as Glossier’s Emily Weiss and Poo~Pourri founder Suzy Batiz), but she also talks to nonprofit geniuses and cultural phenomenons. She always asks them what their first job was out of high school or college. Every guest I’ve heard so far has had a very unglamorous first job, which makes me feel way better about my life. I always learn a lot about ambition and drive and getting my hands dirty, and I’ve heard of so many cool ladies for the first time whose brands I’ll now support. The podcast is great, and it’s a good length.

 

THE BOOK, #GIRLBOSS

Which came first, the book or the podcast? In this case, the book, and I hear rumors that there is a Netflix Original TV show in the works! In the book, Amoruso details the misfortunes and hard work that led to her clothing empire, Nasty Gal. Personally, I’m a little bitter that they don’t carry plus sizes; it’s always hard for me to get behind clothing lines that ignore a significant part of the population. So her journey to success as an entrepreneur was possibly good for something to talk about over dinner.

My favorite part about the book was Amoruso’s general advice on being a badass lady. Since I’m currently trying to train my brain in therapy, I loved the quote, “Magical thinking is the alchemy that you can use to visualize and project yourself into the professional and personal life you want…. I’m talking about visualization that works when we actually get off our asses and do stuff. Fortune favors the bold who get shit done.” Easier said than done of course, but it’s something I’ve been working on for months that is finally working, so it was affirming to see her put it in words,

 

To wrap it up, my #girlbossmoment of the week is starting my new job tomorrow! I’m super nervous and questioning every decision I’ve every made, but as Amoruso says in her book, “Fortune favors action.” So I’m making moves.

 

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. -Willa Cather

When I was in the eye of the storm this summer, I comforted myself with the phrase, “One day this pain will mean something.” And it’s starting to mean something.

I learned how to deal with the end of a serious romantic relationship with the least amount of bitterness I could bear. Time heals all wounds. Do the least harm possible. The end of a relationship doesn’t hinder the ability to love in the future.

I learned how to walk away when the universe was telling me it was time to leave my job. Everything pressed at me, but fear was winning. And then it wasn’t winning anymore. And the fear didn’t matter. I walked away from something that wasn’t meant for me. As of right now, I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be working in two weeks’ time. I’ve had interviews and met amazing people with the same heart as me, and I’m excited to see where I’ll end up.

I learned how to tell my truths through this blog, both to people I know and strangers from across the world. What a weird thought- people are reading these vulnerable words over their coffee or they’re scrolling through while they sit in traffic. Hi. Thank you for reading.

I learned how much pain I could take. How many terrible thoughts. How far I could bend without breaking. How much I could break before healing. I learned I can take more than I thought I could and still survive.

Every month this summer, I seemed to shed off another old part of my being. June saw me rid myself of the identity as a girlfriend and saw the new independence and freedom of travelling to three new countries. In July, I left Greenville for good and moved back in with my parents. In August, I quit my toxic job. And I’ll still molt in shreds for a while; we all heal at different paces, and I refuse to deny myself the space. I’m still trying to unravel a knot I tied with my own hands. However, I’m speaking it into reality: this is going to be a good fall, crisp and new.

Oregano. Basil. Rosemary. 

Do you ever have weeks of your life that you feel like you’ll always remember? Not whole seasons, just a handful of days with so much packed in that they’ll be burned indelibly into your memory.

This is the good stuff. The in-between. I’ll always remember these weeks of eating grapes and muffins for every other meal. Singing 00s hits on the eve of my friend’s wedding. The dog days of summer. Quitting my job and interviewing for jobs I actually want. Job offers on the way to the beach. Pictures in front of an old window, feeling like a badass. Flirting with strangers. Dreaming of the Grand Tetons. Weeping in the best ways. Helping my childhood best friend shop for her wedding dress. Bouquets of flowers in clear vases. Pasta dinners and fresh bread broken with friends. Mixing herbs in a blue bowl. Oregano. Basil. Rosemary.

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Relapse and Big News

Recovery from a mental illness isn’t easy. And I’m so envious of people who can start a medication and feel better right off the bat. But I’m not one of those people, and that’s hard. So here’s a life update.

Though I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist on the reg since January, we still haven’t found the medication that is the right fit for me, which is honestly discouraging and demotivating. Medicines that affect serotonin make me violently ill. So a few weeks ago, my psychiatrist decided to start me on Wellbutrin, which stimulates dopamine, the alleged “good feeling” hormone. However, it made me feel terrible. My depression returned with a vengeance. My terrible thoughts came back. When I wasn’t catatonic, I was weeping uncontrollably. When I wasn’t weeping, I was throwing up because I was so anxious. I went almost two days without eating at one point. I couldn’t sleep. Or read. Or journal. Or do yoga. And obviously, I didn’t have the energy to blog. After two weeks of misery,  my doctor took my back off of the medicine, and we’re trying something different (again).

And I’m still crawling out of the pit. This week, I could finally listen to podcasts again! I went to a work event and had fun instead of hiding away with a churning stomach and sense of dread. I’m starting to enjoy my plants again.

In the middle of the fog, one thing became clear: my mental health is THE priority. It’s the foundation for everything. I haven’t written about my job much because in the words of Destiny’s Child, “You know I’m not gon’ diss you on the internet/ ‘Cause my mama taught me better than that.” But suffice to say, it’s not a good environment and it’s not a good fit for my personality. So last week, I quit my job. New things are on the horizon, and hopefully my mental health will keep improving.