“Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham

I was visiting NYC and stopped by Quimby’s. This book was jammed in between a handful of others at discount price. The title (Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tell’s You What She’s “Learned”) and the raving reviews on the cover intrigued me. Since it was only five bucks, I figured it would be worth the gamble. Disclaimer: I had no idea who Lena Dunham was or what her shows were before this book (in truth, I still don’t know lol).

The memoir is narrated with a devil-may-care attitude, brushing through vignettes of Dunham’s life. Although I don’t typically read melodrama (I don’t find it fun or funny), I was drawn in because of the author’s lighthearted honesty. Whether she’s analyzing an e-mail sent to an ex she was obsessed with (been there, done that) or recounting stories of therapy, molestation, OCD/ED/depression, and more (same), Dunham’s authentic, outrageous accounts are charming. I completely understand the casualness at which she speaks about seemingly heavy topics. (How else do you talk about shit like mental illness and rape without making everyone feel awkward?) Despite differences in our activities and beliefs, I connected with her on the core. She tries not to take life too seriously, as we all should.

It wasn’t a deep book or anything, but every now and then, a chapter would leave me in a reflective mood. I think if you wanted to, you could cut into her words and psychoanalyze her (as I did a few times), but this memoir is a casual read and should stay that way. It’s witty, humorous, and above all, authentic. Even if you’re not into ~drama~ like I am, you’ll probably still connect with Dunham. If I don’t have a tough time finishing a book (especially a “flippant” one), it’s alright to me, so check it out if you’d like some entertainment.

I’d give this 3 out of 5 pills in the purse.

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“The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America” by D. Watkins

I stopped by a Marxist/anarchist bookstore some time ago and picked up The Beast Side by chance. Why was I there? I like to indulge in fringe groups for fun. Plus, the place had, like, a vegan café, man! (I didn’t even eat there though. 😢)

Anyway, the book has a cover and title that drew me in. I read the first few chapters and found it quite engaging. The author, an East Baltimore ex-drug dealer gone English professor, wrote short but powerful essays about being black in the ghettos of Baltimore, from dealing drugs and getting shot, to the broken school system and detachment from pop culture. Hooked, I decided to buy it. I wish I had just stayed and read at the store, though, because, while the first half was stirring, the second half was full of typical far-left rants.

I try my best to be impartial and sympathetic to all causes. Seeing as D. Watkins is a Salon writer, I expected a heavy liberal slant. But, damn, it’s one thing to ramble about biased politics, but another to repeat the same things over and over.

I shit you not, the second half of his book is dedicated to essays after essays of Freddie Gray. I get it, he was from Baltimore and close to you, but these chapters say the exact same thing over and over. I was genuinely sympathetic to inner Baltimore community despite some of Watkin’s questionable statements, but he lost me when he went on the same rant for scores of pages. He wasn’t beating a dead horse; he was throwing one off a mountain, climbing down, carrying the battered and bleeding corpse back up, and throwing it down all over again. I really wanted my time and money back at the end. It was that annoying and redundant.

I won’t get into the logic behind these essays — I’m sure you, dear viewer, can do so yourself. I will just mention, though, that Watkins criticizes non-white cops throughout the book, blaming racism to all the deaths. In a later chapter, he briefly mentions that black cops kill black folk too because “it’s about class and power.” But the paragraph that immediately follows goes back to bashing whites. Ah, what perfect reasoning. Welp, you can’t argue with mental gymnastics.

Putting aside the anti-white, leftist rhetoric, though, the book is a great way to feel and understand a bit of East Baltimore. I have no idea what I would be like if I had grown up in a culture where the drug hustle is romanticized, where guns are pointed at you as a five-year old, where the food you eat is total crap, where there are some racial tensions, where your friends and relatives get popped regularly. I don’t blame the hatred the community may feel towards those in power. With so much violence, it’s almost impossible to grow up with a level-head and not misdirect your anger. What to do about it, though, is a different topic.

Give it a read if you’re curious. It’s pretty engaging. Feel free to skip the second half, though. And, remember, there’s a heavy left bias (if you couldn’t figure that out, you need to do some critical thinking and ask how you got stuck in a hive mindset).

I’d give this 3 out of 5 guns traded in for laptops.

“So B. It” by Sarah Weeks

Spoiler-free, folks! Super short because I finished So B. It a while ago and did not take notes. The synopsis is as follows:

Although she lives an unconventional lifestyle with her mentally disabled mother and their doting neighbour Bernadette, Heidi has a lucky streak that has a way of pointing her in the right direction. When a mysterious word in her mother′s vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi′s thirst for the truth leads her on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past.

I read this book years ago as a kid. I remember it being especially poignant, because I bawled my eyes out at some point. When I came across this book again, I decided to give it another go and see if it still has the same effect.

Unfortunately, it did not. It was certainly engaging at times, but I don’t remember where the big feels punch was. Maybe my expectations lead me to scrutinize the text too much. Regardless, it’s a coming of age story that I’ve probably outgrown. I don’t regret rereading it, because it gave me a glimpse of childhood again. It’s short so you could ram through it in a few days if you’re really interested, but it’s probably not worth it if you’re not a tween.

I’d give this 3 out of 5 kittens on the bus.

“The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan S. Rubin

I came across The Maker’s Diet by chance and gave it a go because diets, fad or not, interest me. I had read 3/4ths of it before I misplaced it somewhere in the city. It wasn’t worth finishing from my perspective, so I didn’t bother to get it back. Here are some of my notes and impressions from the book, written in order of the content. Note: I am not religious.

  • The author hit the jackpot with health problems y i k e s. But damn, he made quite a transformation. 👀
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Hello daddy… 😏💦😩
  • Holy crap… Five pages into this book and Rubin has mentioned God more times than I think about dick in a day. I get that ~God is your savior~ but do you really need to mention Him every other sentence?
  • Pigs are disease-spreading garbage, apparently.
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At least this vermin is cute! 😍
  • Primitive people are super healthy. Just look at their teeth!!
  • Agriculture sucks. Industrialization sucks more. Best to go back to the Adam & Eve diet of eating straight off of trees.
  • Each minute asleep before midnight is like four minutes asleep after midnight.
  • Rubin’s grandma poos regularly!!
  • The author throws down as many biblical verses as possible, relevant or not. It’s just making him look like a religious zealot. (Isn’t he tho?)
  • The Jews were such clean people!! God blessed them with hygiene!
  • We need to eat dirt. What kind of dirt? Well, Rubin is selling some packaged dirt at your convenience! You just need to dish out a shit ton of money. He is also selling stuff from his “cleanology” brand, which lets you clean your nails for just a dozen or so dollars!
  • Showering is pointless. You gotta bathe in your grime!
  • Vaccines cause autism.
  • EMFs from your phone and computer will kill you.
  • Synthetic fabric will kill you.
  • Using hygiene products will kill you.
  • Aerobic exercise will kill you.
  • Any diet that isn’t God’s diet will kill you.
  • Rubin said swallowing (in some cases, but who cares about context?) is not good. So, boys, stop asking me to swallow!!!!! 🙄
  • Don’t eat anything with pesticides, herbicides, animal growth hormones, antibiotics or any hybridized and irradiated GMO foods. AKA everything in the grocery store. Buy from the author’s expensive natural food shops instead!
  • Wow, you have an entire chapter of just testimonials. Seriously??? Waste of paper.
  • On page 141, Rubin literally rewords pooping 5 times. I wish I still had my book just so I could quote it. 😿
  • What Rubin experiences as mindfulness is all credited to God. What else is new?
  • “Placebo is based on beliefs of falsehood, faith on truth.” Uh…

Jokes aside, The Maker’s Diet makes mostly solid points, emphasizing the importance of…

  • Sleep
  • Your gut
  • Getting appropriate nutrients
  • Eating naturally
  • Mindfulness and positive thinking

The only thing new to me is Rubin’s argument against eating pigs. I can see how pork offers less nutritional value, since pigs eat almost everything and anything, whereas, say, cows are strictly herbivores who (should) eat grass. Other than that, this book is just a natural/clean eating diet with lots of religiosity sprinkled in. An okay read if you’re bored, but don’t go out of your way to pick this book up.

I’d give this 2 out of 5 GMO, pesticide, herbicide, antibiotics, and hybridized-free overzealous Christians.

“God-fearing Christian”

I am not religious, and I admit to having little to no understanding of the widespread religions. I’d like to believe, however, that the core of most if not all religions is that of compassion and love for all (yourself, others, and the world around you).

Why then is it a compliment to say you fear God? If God is love, why would He inspire fear in us?

From what I understand, God is our “Father,” a figurative daddy who’s ready to punish us when we’re being bad. 😜😜😜 Jokes aside, a father must be stern with his children at times. While his actions may intimidate, they come from a place of love.

People operate on different levels of consciousness. Some folks live life only through conditioned responses. Buried by ignorances, their minds are too deep in shit to be aware of anything besides their ego, let alone a higher power. These people, whether they blame others or themselves, see the world through a lens of hatred and dissatisfaction instead of love and acceptance. They don’t know that they are used to fear, thus unconsciously seeking it out. Although they will deny it, they can only respond to stimuli they’re used to (fear). Thus, one could argue, you must “speak their language” to reach them.

Fear and other strong, primal emotions fuel people into a state of vulnerability. People can either continue to resist and run, or surrender to reality. The former will live ignorantly and experience more and more pain until they are triggered into acceptance or until they die with misery. Those who surrender to reality let in love. In this case, the love of God.

Can people learn to love without a trigger? Maybe. I’d like to believe so. But at the same time, only those who have faced hardships and loss seem to understand the true meaning of love. It’s akin to being sheltered and raised in a bubble — you don’t truly know what the world is until your perception of it crumbles before you.

So perhaps God must incite fear in those who are metaphorically asleep so they can hear Him. He is using fear to catalyze our awakening.

But, I wonder… If He can use fear as long as the intentions are pure, does that imply that humans can and should as well? Are violence and scare-tactics commonly used in social movements justified so long as the crowd is well-intentioned? Is war truly peace? 🤔🤔🤔