Jen Lancaster was living the sweet life-until real life kicked her to the curb.
She had the perfect man, the perfect job-hell, she had the perfect life-and there was no reason to think it wouldn't last. Or maybe there was, but Jen Lancaster was too busy being manicured, pedicured, highlighted, and generally adored to notice.
This is the smart-mouthed, soul-searching story of a woman trying to figure out what happens next when she's gone from six figures to unemployment checks and she stops to reconsider some of the less-than-rosy attitudes and values she thought she'd never have to answer for when times were good.
Filled with caustic wit and unusual insight, it's a rollicking read as speedy and unpredictable as the trajectory of a burst balloon.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when she decides she must get a temp job to bring in money. She is temping as an executive's assistant and the receptionist is giving her the lay of the land...
“This is a Lucent PBX with Audix voice mail, right? I used this kind at all of my old jobs, so I'm pretty familiar with them."
Completely ignoring me, Pat continues to demonstrate every single one of the phone's features, half of which she describes incorrectly. I don't bother taking notes because I've used this system a thousand times. I have no need to transcribe an erroneous refresher course. "Hey, you should be writing this down."
Like I said, I've used this system extensively and--"
WRITE IT DOWN," Pat growls. "If you screw up the phone, Jerry's gonna be on my ass."
No problem." I'm slowly learning to choose my battles and figure this isn't the hill I want to die on. I pull a portfolio out of my briefcase and begin to take notes.
When the phone rings and Jerry isn't there to answer, you pick it up and hold it to your mouth like this. You say, 'Hello, Jerry Jenkins' office.'"
I write: When phone rings, place receiver next to your word hole and not your hoo-hoo or other bodily aperature, and say, "Shalom.”
The second book I read was Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, Or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-centered Smart-ass Phase. I didn't connect with this one as much, but it was still just as funny. She writes about her childhood and college career and how she completely screwed up in college and basically flunked out and went in to crazy credit card debt. Ok, I can relate a little to that last part...at least about almost flunking out. Let's just say, my first semester was not an easy one.
Before she was bitter, before she was lazy, Jen Lancaster was a badge- hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn't know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this hilarious and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life-and wardrobe-and reveals a young woman not so different from the rest of us.
Prepare to take a long walk in her (drool-worthy) shoes in this hilarious and heartwarming trip down memory lane.
Here are a couple of good quotes from Pretty in Plaid...
“As I examine my life through this book, I can't help but wonder if my mother was right. Maybe I really was what I ate. And maybe if she'd let me eat a little more sugar, I'd have come out sweeter.”
“Seriously, our nation is never going to be on the same page on issues like gun control, welfare, the economy, the environment, etc. I doubt we'll ever come to terms on tastes great or less filling and hybrids versus Hummers, and there will always be Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, and never the 'twain shall meet. Fortunately, all it takes for us to be of one mind is some buttercream frosting.”
The third book I've just finished is My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto. I absolutely, 100%, completely related to this book. After many embarrasing situations where Jen can't "keep up" with the cultured crowd, she decides she needs a renaissance or Jen-aissance. A time to give herself some culture and make herself more well rounded. The hilarity that ensues is just too much. Have I mentioned that she cracks me up?
Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.
In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.
There are seriously 7 more books of hers that I am now dying to read...I already have another queued up in my library app. I seriously hope to meet her someday.