As Clueless As I Ever Was

Now that I’m supposed to be an adult, I find myself trying to read more “grown up” novels.  You know, less “Divergent” and more “Gone Girl.” But it’s been a bit difficult to find books that are both intriguing, fun to read, and relatable. While books like the aforementioned are great in their own way, they didn’t necessarily strike a chord with me. They weren’t relatable.

I want books that are like my favorite TV shows and movies. You know why I love shows like “Friends” and “New Girl” and movies like “Silver Linings Playbook”? They are all about characters around my age who are still trying to adjust to this whole “adulthood” nonsense.

Which is why I was thrilled when I discovered fiction author Jonathan Tropper after seeing the film adaptation of one of his books, “This Is Where I Leave You.”  You probably remember seeing trailers for this movie. It stars Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, the guy from “Girls,” and the congressman Kevin Spacey murdered in “House of Cards.”

Anyway, after seeing “This Is Where I Leave You,” I dug around amazon.com searching for more of Tropper’s books.  Turns out his works have a common theme: around 30-years-old-ish characters who have no idea where their life is going. I settled on “Plan B,” a story about a group of 30-year-old friends from college who are are all going through different types of quarter-century crises. The books had a couple of great passages that really articulate what it’s like to be a mid-20-something or early 30-something.

“Thirty… shit. It’s a nice round number to arrive at if you have it all together. Success, love, a family, the overall sense that you actually belong on the planet. If you have all that, you can wear thirty well. But if you don’t, if feels like you’ve missed the deadline, and suddenly your chances of ever getting it right, of ever achieving true happiness and fulfillment, are fading fast. You realize that all your hopes and dreams up until this point were actual expectations that, still unrealized, have become desperate prayers…”

The book was a good, fun, and occasionally thought-provoking read that often reflected some of my own thoughts about transitioning from higher education to the “real world.” It also reiterated something I realized lately: contrary to what we believed as kids, adults have no idea what they are doing and they are not in complete control of anything. Kind of a terrifyingly comforting reiteration to get from a book, but I’ll take it. I suppose it just confirms that we’re all just winging it.

Learning How to Read for Fun Again

Somewhere in my parents’ attic sits a cardboard box filled with dozens of books from the “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” series. My first-grade self stumbled across the series at my elementary school’s book fair.

This cover is absurd. Ways you can tell Karen is about to drown: 1) Where’s your oxygen tank, Karen? 2) Where’s your wetsuit, Karen? 3) What’s up with those two fish next to you that look like a bulldog’s head, Karen? 4) Where’s your scuba diving buddy, Karen? It sure ain’t that platypus/stingray hybrid creature in the background.

I LIVED for the book fair. I didn’t want to be a kid in a candy store. I wanted to be a kid in a book fair. Buy ALL the books, buy ALL the bookmarks with fuzzy animals on them, and buy ALL the pencils! Anywho, I don’t remember exactly how I realized that “Karen’s Island Adventure”  would be a good read (I do, however, remember that I learned how to spell the word “surgery”  while reading the book. For about the first half of it, I didn’t understand how Karen’s friend could possibly be having heart “sugary.” I thought the doctors were going to cover it in sugar, which made absolutely no sense. Yeah, I was dumb), but since I was like 6 years-old, there is an astronomically high probability that I just thought the cover looked pretty. That’s right, I judged a book by its cover. And guess what? It paid off, because I flew through that book in a day.

And so began my addiction to Ann M. Martin novels. I had always been a voracious reader. My mama taught me well. Bedtime stories were a must. I always checked out lots of books from the library. I borrowed “The Rainbow Fish” so many times that my parents bought me my own copy. It is now one of my most prized possessions. But I digress. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, my personal “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” library.

I eventually graduated to the “Baby-sitter’s Club” series, but by that point, I had to check them out from the library because my “little” collection was getting rather expensive to maintain. I was so obsessed that I modeled my handwriting after the character Stacy’s handwriting (I know, I was nuts).

I began dabbling in other series, and pretty soon, I was a fixture at the local library. I loved going to the library so much that I signed up as a volunteer shelver every summer during middle school.

Surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books was like being in heaven. I was like a less cultured Rory Gilmore (“Nothing, nothing smells like that.”  “I’m sorry, did I just see you smell that book?!”). To this day, I love the smell of books. Once again, I’m nuts.

Somewhere along the line – probably the latter half of high school – I stopped reading as much. To make a long story short, I just didn’t have enough free time anymore. Plus, Facebook was invented. #loser #procrastination

By the time I reached law school, my love of reading was dead (#RIPBooks). After reading cases all day, the last thing I wanted to do was read some more. My hands were cramped from scribbling so many handwritten notes in the margins. You should see my law school textbooks from my first year. I switched up my pen colors and highlighter colors – because that was one of the few ways to make the textbook look remotely happy and fun – and the result at the end of the year was a collection of rainbow-colored papers. Yes, I am a nerd.

Torts-textbookExhibit A: making a law textbook look slightly cute by using a purple highlighter and pink pen
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Hermione Granger’s Parents Probably Went to Jail

While listening to a mashup of the best Harry Potter soundtrack songs during a study session last night, I had an epiphany: Hermione was responsible for (likely) sending her parents to prison or a mental institution.

Remember how she erased her parents’ memories of her at the beginning of Deathly Hallows? Well, she didn’t erase other people’s memories of her. What about her neighbors? Her parents’ friends? Her extended family? They would all still remember her, and what would they think when her parents denied she ever existed? They would have become concerned once they saw that any trace of her at her parents’ home had been erased. Eventually they would have begun to suspect that her parents hurt or killed her. And then they would have called the police. The police would have called in some psychiatrists. There would have been some sort of hearing, maybe even a trial. And then the Grangers’ would have been carted off to either a prison cell or a hospital.

NOT COOL, HERMIONE.