Birthday Eve, Babysitting, Zombieland, Summer Reads

I have three more hours of being 21 years old. Technically, I’m already 22, at least by eastern time zone. While I was in college, I was often told that there’s nothing to look forward to after one’s 21st birthday, but I definitely disagree. You can be exciting and happy into adulthood as long as you find something you love and never give up on it. We’ve only just begun.

Right now, I’m watching Zombieland, and I’m not sure what I think about it yet. The film is definitely meant to be a comedy, but I’m not laughing. The main character, played by that adorable awkward curly-haired guy from Adventureland, has an endearing manner of speaking. I can’t wait to see him play Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook creator, in The Social Network. Did you know that Justin Timberlake is also in the Facebook movie? No offense to any JT fans, but I never fully understood his appeal. Why is he still famous? Why was he selected to act in a movie about a brilliant Harvard University student?

(from left) The guy with the fro is hilarious. Same with the pseudo cowboy.

Today, I babysat my nephews again. We returned to the school yard playground, walked through Willow Glen, got Jamba Juice, and then played outside with Chico, my brother’s Chocolate Labrador. I taught the boys how to do a cartwheel. The boys were funny and well behaved, even though they would get into spats every time I turned my back.

“Sawyer hit me!” Luke would say, even when Sawyer merely threatened him with a tight fist.

On the car ride back from Los Gatos, I said to the kids, “You boys are way too cute.”

“Sawyer not cute,” Luke, who is two years old, replied. Not nice!

The kids requested to watch Up, an admittedly adorable movie, but I made it clear that there would be no television while I babysat. Though I appreciated the humor of All That, The Amanda Show, and Kenan and Kel when I was little, I also spent the majority of my days running around outdoors with other little kids. My parents worked full time, so I was always at afterschool daycare until 5 or 6 p.m. I roamed the jungle gyms, jumped in sandboxes, played tag, and arrived home every evening with my fingernails caked in dirt. I loved the mud, even though I was horrible at competitive sports. By the time I got back to my house, I was so burned out from all the schoolyard activity that I simply wanted to relax in front of a Nickelodeon program for a half hour before dinner.

Basically, I had the greatest time tiring myself out outside when I was younger, and I’d like the same for my nephews. I have nothing to worry about, either. They have lots of energy as well as no desire to just sit around all day.

No matter what stage of life I’m in, I’m in the process of reading five books at once. This summer, I read J. Courtney Sullivan’s Commencement, Jodee Blanco’s memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me…, Heart of the Matter, Charlie St. Cloud, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, which is a sequel to Eat Pray Love, and Laura Bush’s memoir.

Of everything I’ve read, Commencement tops the list. As a nonfiction writer, I find fiction writing to be worse than pulling teeth, but that’s mostly because I’d rather read and write about what’s real. It’s also damn near impossible to come up with legitimately impressive fiction, and that’s exactly what Commencement is. It tells the story of four girls that became best friends at Smith College. The women remain close beyond graduation, but when one of them gets married, they get into a fight that causes them to stop communicating entirely. I like the book because it shows that the grass is always greener.

Laura Bush’s memoir wasn’t informative nor was it entertaining, and Committed wasn’t nearly as powerful as Eat Pray Love. I enjoyed Charlie St. Cloud because ghost stories have always been of interest to me. Please Stop Laughing at Me… is a memoir of a girl who got picked on constantly in middle school and high school. It’s one thing to be bullied. Most people know a little something about that. Jodee Blanco, the author, was physically assaulted by her harassers, most of which didn’t remember that they mistreated her when they all met up at their ten year high school reunion. It’s funny how certain people have selective memories like that.

If you can’t tell, I love reading memoirs. Suggest away if you’ve read anything particularly fascinating. I wrote earlier on that I get my writing inspirations from the works of Elizabeth Gilbert, David Sedaris, Jeannette Walls, David Foster Wallace, and even Chelsea Handler. Sedaris is still my favorite of all time, and I made this known to him when he visited my college town several months ago.

On the drive from Tucson to California, I listened to Sedaris’s audio version of Naked, one of his many autobiographies. Naked focuses mostly on his obsessive compulsive habits, some of which included licking the classroom light switch before and after his teacher gave lessons, rocking himself back and forth for 45 minutes in bed, and touching his ear to the asphalt ten times on the way back from school. If his routines were disrupted in any way, he had to return to his elementary school and begin again.

I actually don’t find OCD to be funny, but Sedaris can make a great story out of any experience. In Naked, he also talks about his unusual Greek grandmother, who referred to Sedaris’s mother as “the girl” out of disrespect.

Personally, I prefer Sedaris’s other books, even though I read and listened to Naked. The best Sedaris autobiography is definitely Me Talk Pretty One Day, although the essay That’s Amore, which is from When You Are Engulfed in Flames, made me laugh so hard, I was crying hot tears for twenty minutes straight. The rest of the book is marginal, but That’s Amore is explosively hilarious. Sedaris, please teach me your ways.

Can’t wait to be in D.C. August can’t get here soon enough!

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