Book Review: “Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham

I have to say that I am loving the influx of celebrity humor memoirs into the literary world as of late. Or at least I am enjoying their growing popularity. Most recently, I picked up a copy of “Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham from the local library (yes, those still exist. Go to yours, guaranteed you will find some gems).

not that kind of girl

Prior to reading this book, I was mostly unfamiliar with Dunham. I haven’t watched “Girls.” I don’t watch her interviews. I hadn’t read any of her stories in The New Yorker. I had read a few articles about her, but that was it. For me, reading this book was getting a peek into this woman’s mind and another humorous memoir to hopefully make me feel better about my life, as these books often do.

After reading this, I must ask, Lena, will you marry me? I know I already have a husband and all, but you are incredible.

This book, like many others in its genre, was raw and honest. Dunham didn’t hold anything back. In fact, she was just bold enough to slightly terrify me from the beginning.

The book is divided into sections based on topic: Love and Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture. Yes, she opens with the sex section. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to what section I was reading so by the end of the third essay, I was feeling quite uncomfortable.

“Is this entire book just her sexual history laid out on the page?” I thought.

Then of course I went back and looked at the section title and realized her opening with this section was quite genius. She let’s you know what you are getting yourself into from the get go. She lays it all out there on the table, all the gory details the movies like to edit out about sex. She tells how she navigated the first few awkward hook ups and perfectly documents her relationships, all messy mistakes and all.

You can’t help but giggle and smile and somehow find a way to relate her tales to your own escapades.

The rest of the book is equally as honest. There are lengthier essays that hit on heavier topics, with the perfect touch of sarcastic, dry humor. There are essays that are no more than lists. There are essays that you have to wonder if she made up.

The best part about this is that she isn’tΒ tryingΒ to be funny. She just is. She is just honest enough to make you laugh –slightly out of discomfort. She says what we are all trying to say. I found myself nodding a lot as I read this. As well as laughing out loud –maybe don’t read this book in public.

Some of her essays made me feel less alone. In “‘Diet’ is a four letter word: how to remain 10 lbs overweight only eating healthy food” she perfectly lays out early obsessions with food and documenting what you eat. Without coming out and saying it, she points out how ridiculous the notion of eating half a grape for breakfast is. How ridiculous our obsession with body image is.

I think, in fact, that the best parts of this book are the parts that are left unsaid.

The cute illustrations throughout are a plus, too.

There were passages that felt like reading out of one of my old journals. There were passages that talked about things I had never experienced yet still felt like I could relate to because she painted a perfect picture of it.

There were passages that made me feel less crazy, such as “Hello Mother, Hello Father: greetings from Fernwood Cove Camp for Girls.” She talks about how the stories we hear sometimes get blended and blurred into our own memories. Something that sounds so crazy to say out loud, but she somehow found a way to explain it and let me know I’m not alone.

Furthermore, I loved the work section where she was brutally honest without naming names. She shows that being honest and speaking your truth doesn’t mean that you have to destroy someone else. Stories often have the same amount of impact whether we know who they are about or not. Although, Lena, I can’t wait until you’re 80. What can I say, I’m curious for you to name those names!

Overall, this book is like eating a piece of chocolate cake. It begs to be devoured at once yet you want to savor it and take small, dainty bites. You distract yourself taking a picture of it, scrolling through Instagram in between bites, ponder the idea of saving a bite for your friend but ultimately eat it before they get back from the bathroom.

It’s just that good.

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Recipe: sushi bowls

There are few things I love more than sushi night. I’ve always wanted to try to make my own sushi, but the idea of rolling rice, fish and all the other yummy stuffing into a neat, beautiful ball like they do in my favorite restaurants didn’t sound so fun. In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world.

Then, one of my favorite health food bloggers Fit Men Cook posted a photo on Instagram of his sushi bowls. I kicked myself a little for not thinking of it first, but then decided to give it a try! Boy was I glad I did! I made them for my husband and my best friend and they both approved.

These were delicious, and totally customizable!
These were delicious, and totally customizable!

Ingredients:Β 

  • Filet of your favorite sushi fish (salmon and tuna are most popular, I used salmon) It is important here to make sure you get a good quality fish, especially since you are eating it raw. I got sushi grade fish from Whole Foods, a little pricey, but way better than getting sick from bad sushi! I just went ahead and got a pound of the fish, which made 5 sushi bowls
  • One red bell pepper
  • Bunch of green onions
  • Diced avocado
  • Low sodium sauce
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Brown rice (1 cup for 2 bowls)

Instructions

  • Cook brown rice as per package instructions
  • While the rice is cooking, chop up your veggies and fish. I cut the fish into small bite sized pieces.
  • Toss the fish in some soy sauce for extra flavor.
  • Once the rice is cooked, separate it out into bowls. Add your veggies and fish. Then top with a little extra soy sauce, a dash of sriracha and sesame seeds.
  • Enjoy! πŸ™‚

These are definitely a favorite, and I’ll make them again!

Intentions

My birthday was last week, and with that came a new year of life. A new year to accomplish new things, set new goals –to make 21 a year I will always remember. I at least want to feel as though I worked further toward bettering myself and reaching my goals this year, even if I’m not quite certain what my goals are at this point in my life. I might as well work toward becoming a better person so when it does come time for me to dedicate myself to whatever passion I discover, I can dedicate my best self to it.

I spent some time doing a yoga practice and meditation before I discovered what my word for this year is going to be. Chris got me a book calledΒ Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates for my birthday. You read through it a day at a time and it gives you some guidance for your home practice –it sets an intention. What is life without intention? I’m struggling with that right now as I am transitioning into being a stay at home mom when I previously thought I would be well on my way to a writing career by now. I have since realized that writing may not be exactly what I want to do with my life, at least not solely, but I’m not certain what IΒ do want to do.

I love practicing with blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters. It allows for deeper access into poses without putting too much pressure on the body.
I love practicing with blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters. It allows for deeper access into poses without putting too much pressure on the body.

For now, I’m working on being happy with where I am and enjoying all of this time I get to spend with my daughter. I know that I will cherish these memories one day. I sat in a meditation and thought a lot about what kind of person I want to be. I thought a lot of love. I thought how I want to be much more positive in everything that I do. There are a lot of changes coming up in the next year: this current transition then moving to Germany in February. While I want to see the good in everything, love didn’t seem like the word for the year. It didn’t feel like the quality I needed to work on the most.

Gratitude crossed my mind because I know that there is a lot that I take for granted most of the time. Still, that didn’t feel right. Then I was sitting there working on visualizing what I want in this life, and it came to me:Β bliss.Β Not bliss as in everything is wonderful all the time, but bliss as in finding the good in everything. There are a lot of things that aren’t going to be quite so blissful that come up this year (and every year of life). I’m not going to like living in a hotel all the time. I’m not going to like waiting on housing to give us a house once we get to Germany. I’m not going to enjoy all the parts of figuring out life in another country. Some days I’m going to wish I still had a job instead of being a stay at home mom. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful parts of all of that. Hotels are easier to clean, and you have a housekeeping service. Waiting for a house may lead to the best possible one. Living in another country is an amazing opportunity many people save for years to be able to have –my move is paid for. Being a stay at home mom means I get to be here for all of the little moments with my girl. She’s learning to count on me and will grow up knowing I’ll always be here, something that is so important to me as a mother.

There are wonderful parts of everything, even when at the moment you look around you and think, “this really sucks.” It might suck. It might be bad. But I’m challenging myself to look for all of the blissful parts that come. It won’t always be easy, but I think it will be worth it.

After I decided this, I came across this quote:Β “Bliss is not a feeling, but a state of being. In a state of bliss, everything is loved.” –Deepak Chopra

That’s exactly what I was thinking when the word came to me. That there are things to love in all things.

Having this intention helps, I think. Not just this intention, but any intention. Even on days like today, where we are stuck inside this room because the roads might be flooded from all of this ridiculous rain, I have something to work on, to work toward. What will bring us bliss? We may not get to go exploring and adventuring like we love to do most days, but we can snuggle and read stories and do yoga together. We can find bliss in the storm.

xoxo