Open Letter to Jen Lancaster

A book/s review

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From my desk, to the desk of Miss Jen Lancaster

RE: Your books

Dear Jen~

First of all, I am not completely sure what an “open letter” is, but I have been seeing them around a lot lately.  Mostly to politicians, (specifically Hillary Clinton).  It it seems to me if you want to write a letter to a public figure, this is how you do it now.  Honestly, I doubt you would see this, but at least I can get a few things off my chest.  Isn’t that really the point, after all?

Let me start by saying I love you and that you make me laugh.  So, I hope you don’t consider this hate mail.  I certainly won’t be making threats of any kind, that’s for sure.   I do find myself a bit annoyed at times, and not unlike you, I supposed I can be a little bit narcissistic and bitchy myself.  More importantly, I have no doubt that I am no match for you when it comes to snarky and witty comebacks.  Basically, I want to make sure I do not suffer the wrath of Jen!  Maybe that’s something you learn in a sorority house?  I never had that opportunity.  I was never any good at it, either.  Being mean, that is.  Well, not without feeling EXTREMEMLY guilty after.  Most of the time though, I have to work my way up to it and be really mad first.  In fact, I have spent many a sleepless nights going over the things I SHOULD HAVE SAID to some idiot who hurt my feelings or pissed me off.  They say it’s fight or flight?  I say freeze.  I have a hard time being able to say anything to someone who has just been rude to me.  Instead, I often just stand there, and say absolutely nothing at all.

So, I am hoping that the fact someone has bothered to write you an open letter comes more as a compliment than anything else.  Honestly, you’re now up in the ranks with Hillary Clinton, right?!?  (In my book, anyway.)  Considering I haven’t even heard of you until a few weeks ago…and have known about her for years….I’m jes sayin’.  Some of us still live in caves and whatnot, and have yet to be graced with your narcissism and wit.  At least I do have indoor plumbing though, except for Saturdays, when I visit the neighbors.  I’m serious.  It’s a way of life I doubt you’d even begin to understand. You should come visit sometime.  I’m sure you’d find plenty of things to laugh about, especially after you’ve pumped your own water out of a well and used the outhouse.  Again.  Serious!

I do wonder, though…does the fact that you point out you are narcissistic, surly, and other adjectives of the like, make it ok?  Or is it that you turn it into something funny that makes it alright?  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  You ARE funny.  I will give you that!

But herein lies the rub.  I call bullshit.  When I first read Bitter is the New Black, I felt as though I could identify with you in how it  feels to be poor, look for work, and to struggle financially.  I also found hope in the fact that if you can become a writer that easily, maybe I can too.   (Though, as I said, I’m no match for you; so I’m not holding my breath!)  You admittedly did not know how you had jobs in the dot com business that paid so well, or even possibly deserved to make that much (as did many others)…and you lost said job and struggled for a couple years.  That, by no means, says you truly even begin to understand what it’s like for a woman to struggle for a lot of things pretty much her whole life.

Case in point, myself.  I have learned how to, and STILL do, cut and color my own hair, simply because it’s more economical.  I also shop at Good Will and other second hand stores, and wonder if you have ever been in one.  Though, admittedly, I love Target just as much as you do, that’s more of a splurge for me.  Wal-Mart is more my price range-if I don’t go without entirely.  Going to ANY of those fancy stores you mention are just not even fathomable for me.  Mainly because there are none around here, but even if they were, I can’t see using my rent money for a pair of jeans.  Bottom line though?  You were able to walk away from being poor in just a couple short years.  There are a lot of us who have lived our whole lives like that, and most likely will die that way too.  Of course, that just isn’t as funny.

While you can laugh and joke about expensive hairdos and clothes…I personally, have NO IDEA what you are talking about sometimes.  For instance, what in the hell is a twinset?  At one point, I had to wonder if you were talking about your “girls,” but I realized that wasn’t it, since it was something you wear.  And you want to talk about being lazy?  I don’t want to look up what twinset means!

While I’m at it, PUSILLANIMOUS?  Really?  This is a word you used on page 62 of your book, Such a Pretty Fat.  Is that a word you actually use in your vocab?  Or did you dig out your thesaurus for that one?  If my Words With Friends Game ever gave me enough tiles to spell that out, I might check the dictionary function in there to see how rare it is; but I’m guessing it’s not real common.  Either that, or I am a bigger idiot than I thought.  This was a word I actually bothered to look up, it was so…bizarre.  Now, “anthropomorphic penguins?”  That was a nice touch, but, as an anthropology major, I happen to know what it means.  (Actually, I minored in it, as the cheap ass school I went to did not offer it as a major, and I could not afford to go to a bigger school.)  Had I not known what it meant, I would have perhaps been equally annoyed.  I am also relatively certain this isn’t a commonly used word either, due to the quizzical looks I get from others when I tell them what I studied in college.  Am I calling you pretentious?  I haven’t decided yet. But I really have to wonder.  You did point out you would rather watch TV than discuss philosophical prose…but at least you CAN.  I know that Socrates taught Plato, who then taught Aristotle.  That’s about all I can remember.  I never even heard of the dude you mentioned, though I have heard his angle.   Still, you out-right mentioned you grabbed your thesaurus to write.  I have to ask.  Is that really necessary?

Maybe it’s that you worry about the fact you only went to a “state school” like PURDUE and felt ashamed by it, compared to the cohorts around you; when someone like me went to community college and then transferred to a Satellite University in order to get my degree.  Obviously, my education was not nearly as good as yours…even though I was basically a straight A student.  (Ok, that ONE class I failed WAS reeeeally hard; but I was also reeeeally sick. So, I missed a lot of classes.  Besides, everyone hated that prof, and I wasn’t the only one who took her class more than once.  Yes, I had hoped I could take it from someone else; but no one else taught it, and it was required for my degree.  So, I struggled through it with a solid B the second time.  And it’s not my fault astronomy is so…out there.  I said “basically” a straight A student!)  I did graduate Summa Cum Laude somehow.  Do I sound pretentious now?  Yet, if your “mediocrity” sucked so much…how much more does mine?

Maybe I just didn’t read enough…you did say you were a voracious reader.  It’s obvious, you appear to have a great vocabulary.   Maybe I wouldn’t be so “put out” by having to look up some of the words you use, except, I am currently looking for a job again myself;  so while I had Bitter on my Kindle and could just press a word to get the def, I am now broke and have resorted to tracking your books down at a library.  As you well know, when you’re broke, there’s no point in buying a book when I can get it, and read it, from the library, for free.   (I had to go to two different ones to find your books.)    Only now, I can’t simply push my thumb over a word to find out what it means.  Which means I have to actually do some work if I want to know what new word you’re taunting me with next.  Boo.

By the way, as someone who loves books, I was very disappointed to find that I could not share Bitter with my mom from my kindle to hers.  Isn’t part of the joy of reading supposed to be in the sharing?  I mean, that’s basically the whole philosophy of the library, after all.  I have since decided if I buy any more books (by anyone) I will buy a real book and then I can loan it to whoever I want, as often as I want.  (And twice on Sundays.)  Especially since I supposedly “bought” it.   Shouldn’t it be mine to do with as I please?  I loathe the day libraries ever become extinct….and being able to buy a REAL book.  I’ll use my kindle for games like Words With Friends or something.  It was a gift, after all.  And by my standards, an expensive one.

Could it be that, as you said, you are a well rounded person, and like to keep up to date and informed; while I, simply am not?  I again, had to “Google” your references to foie  gras, and the like. (Which, by the way?  Eww.)   While one should never knock something they have not tried…honestly?  When could I ever afford to?  Though, I can’t see myself spending my hard earned money on something that sounds so…again, eww.

Perhaps your books are still “geared” toward a more hoity-toity population you are accustomed to.  I find myself increasingly having no idea what you are talking about as I go along.  I consider that I could quite possibly chalk it up to the fact that since you have always had more money than I have (except for a couple hard years) you have had more opportunities to learn a few things more than I.

Visiting Chicago only once, I can say it definitely made an impression on me.  I had gone to Wisconsin to visit a friend from high school and she was kind enough to take me there for a couple days.  She took me down Michigan Avenue, and some of those stores?  I will never forget!  Especially Ralph Lauren!  I mean, wow!  As a small town girl, saying I’ve been there once?  Was a big deal!

The other possibility is that I am not only one who has been left without the experiences you have had, but I am also just too blonde at heart.  I have this vision, where, because you are so narcissistic, you keep Googling your name, and miraculously you see my crappy blog.  (I am also not Tec savvy, at all; and I have no idea what they are talking about with their so-called “helpful hints” to make your blog awesome.  So, good luck navigating around all the weird stuff!  My brother informed me a couple days ago that I don’t even know the basics about computers and the internet.  So, apparently, I am on the verge of being a lost cause.  I don’t know where he thinks I would, could, or should learn this stuff, but that’s not HIS problem!  And at my age…I don’t see a bunch of computer classes in my future!)  But you somehow find and read my letter to you, and at first you are mad; but then you realize this is a tribute to you,  (Which those who read this, but have not read you may not understand) and we just laugh and laugh!  Within moments, we become best friends!  I also have this day dream where we are giggling while we hold hands and skip down Michigan Avenue.  (Albeit, out of breath.)  Only, when you speak to me, (after you catch your breath) it sounds like the teacher on a Charlie Brown episode.  I turn to you with my face distorted trying to figure out what the hell you are saying, and end up tripping over my own two feet and smacking said distorted face on the sidewalk.  (Leaving said distortions on said face more permanent-for at least a week, anyway. By which time, I will have also caught my own breath.)   Either that, or I am trying to chew gum at the same time.  I’m not quite sure.  That part of the vision gets hazy.   You are kind enough to teach me about fashion and how to dress, though; and I feel so much better with my new mask, which of course, matches my new twinset perfectly.

While I am just as bad as you when it comes to the desire to watch TV, I never watched the same shows as you did anyhow.  So, I couldn’t relate there, either.  I have been, and still am, a bit of a recluse, but I don’t watch TV like I used to.  (I wonder if the word recluse only applies to wealthy people?)  In fact, I have one, but no cable, or antenna, (because there’s no signal here in the sticks) so I can only watch a DVD or one of my few Blu Rays on it.  Besides, I’ve decided I should get more in touch with nature…or something.  Still, TV aside, if I had two dimes to rub together more often, I would probably leave the house for other things than work, and go on a REAL vacation every year.  But, movies, and eating out, and travel, and just about everything  (except the library) including fishing, takes money…money I don’t really have.  So, I stay home and watch a few B movies on my laptop here and there, read, and I started writing blogs in my “spare time.”  I guess we have that in common!  Plus we are the same age.  Bonus!  Yeah, I Googled you.  But I’m not a stalker.  Honest!

Given the fact that I do struggle with being so simple sometimes; at least I don’t go around using the word irregardless, like so many people do.  I also know the proper usage of their, they’re and there.  Also, unlike a President who shall remain nameless, I know how to spell potatoes.  (He went to an Ivy league school, if I recall!)  I get really mad at myself when I found I have made an error of my own and didn’t catch it, too!  I am basically a spelling and grammar Nazi, and just like you with the way people dress; I struggle not to correct others with their English skills.  In a way, I can relate to that.

So, regardless of how annoyed I get with you, (See how I used the word regardless there?) I can’t stay mad at you.  You are one witty woman and you deserve what you have worked so hard for.  (I have a feeling it’s hard for anyone to stay mad at you.)  Truth is, I can’t put your books down, and I am already reading your third one in as many weeks.  ( I still have to look for a job, after all.)  Plus, in reading your memoirs, it is clear that you are not completely soulless, and you do have your moments of compassion. (Besides, anyone who loves and adopts dogs, is good in my book.)  I am reading them in order, and am looking forward to your next adventure.  It looks like I only have about 9 more to go!  You sure have been busy!

And if I don’t find a job real soon, there’s plenty of reading material awaiting me during the times I don’t have it in me to blog.  I will continue to write about my own “adventures” as well.   Though sadly, they aren’t as funny.  Double boo!

In all reality, I am quite possibly jealous.  It seems like even though a lot of us also work our asses off, we just can’t seem to catch the breaks that other do.  Namely me.  Though, I hardly think I’m the only one.  Or, maybe I should stop being so…dare I say?  Bitter?

So, I resolve to “get over it” and decide at least you make me laugh and brighten my days. Plus, you give me hope in the American Dream, and you inspire me.  I supposed that makes up for any negatives here.  Most of all, I have to admire you, because you had the insight to realize that Bitter really IS the New Black!

Best regards,

~L

(Another bitter woman.)

P.S.  I fear my parents will kick me out when I can’t make rent, and the bank will come and repossess Tawanda. (She’s my truck.)  Would you consider spottin’ me a loan?  I mean, since we are besties, and all?

P.S.S.  I really do love you!

2 thoughts on “Open Letter to Jen Lancaster

    1. Ok, excuse me. VICE president. Apparently the fact that this is meant to be funny was lost on some. And since we are at it, let’s just pick it apart, shall we??
      This event happened around 1992, roughly, so it’s been….what? Twenty-four years since the event, and since I am getting older and having hormonal problems that make me pissy and forgetful, you may have to forgive the fact that my total recall is not what it used to be.
      And since I am NOT in said community college or Satellite University any longer, you may just have to forgive the fact that I wasn’t writing a school paper for which a reference or fact-check about the situation before I wrote it down would be necessary. (Read “get over it.”)
      In my writing, I used the words, “if I recall” which, in my mind, should clearly point out that I was relying on a mere memory. I did not use quotes and again, that was in my mind another indication that I did not check my facts. Which apparently everyone is required to do before they even write their names anymore. Am I who I say I am? Hmmm…Or am I someone else. I better do a fact check first…hmm…what if I just WANT to be someone else? Can I do that too?
      And let’s not forget the ABUNDANCE of crap that goes around the internet that actually try to give every appearance of being legit and factual, yet aren’t! Which, by the way, I never tried to do.
      And let me just ask this. Dan did misspell potato, but did NOT go to an ivy league school. So, why didn’t you correct me on that too?
      Is it possible I had him confused with another President who DID go to an ivy school and just happened to be a bit of a idiot as well?
      I suggest this:
      YOU DON’T KNOW!
      But thanks for trying to point out what you deem to be a blunder on my part. Where would the world be without people like you to go around pointing out everyone else’s “mistakes” on completely inconsequential matters no one cares about anyway.
      In the words of Thumper from Bambi…if you can’t say nuthin nice, don’t say nuthin at all. Or maybe it wasn’t Thumper, I am not sure, exactly. But I know someone said it…I was only five when I saw the movie and it’s not in quotes, so…maybe you can just…
      Look it up.
      But just so you are happy, here ya go, Missy.
      Dan was the VP from ’89-’93 and did NOT go to an Ivy League school. There was a bit of a “to do” on the news and such that he misspelled potatoes while attending a spelling bee in New Jersey.
      To remove any sarcasm (as my article was full of) and be fair, it was also stated that he was only repeating what was handed to him on a queue card and the word was misspelled on said card. And then there is this.

      “The spelling of potatoe, while not terribly common, existed for almost the entire 20th century. For example, the New York Times was still occasionally spelling potato with an –e in 1988.”

      http://blog.oxforddictionaries

      I hope you feel better now.
      And oh, have a great day. 🙂

      Like

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