Most recent grads can agree that no matter how prepared we try to be, the world is pretty tough to make sense of after leaving the cozy confines of campus. When best friends Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale graduated from Brown University, they had no idea what to expect from post-college life, and on their last night on campus before setting off for opposite sides of the world, the two made a pact to send each other honest weekly accounts of whatever adventures came next. Their emails zigzagged between New York, Paris, Beijing and Melbourne as Jess and Rachel faced the thrill and confusion of life in the “real world.” Among the ups and downs of new jobs, relationships and time zones, the one thing that remained consistent was their weekly letters.
Now, the two have compiled those letters into Graduates In Wonderland, an addictive and wildly relatable memoir of the roller coaster that is life in your early twenties. From the very first page, it was hard not to wonder whether Jess and Rachel had taken a peak inside my own mind. In between their fast-paced adventures and mishaps, they share quiet doubts and questions with the kind of honesty that only exists between close friends. Not only does this book serve as a reminder that none of us are alone in feeling lost every now and then, it’s also a gentle nudge to stop what you’re doing and give your best friend a call. Jess and Rachel spoke with me about some of their thoughts on living abroad, youthful idealism, true love, and the importance of quality friendships.
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I guess, in our post-”Harry Potter” world, a lot of people would be really excited when a new movie comes out starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Alas, I am not one of those people.
When I heard about the cast for the new rom-com “What If,” I was more excited about Zoe Kazan. The Yale graduate does things like tweet about Criterion films and how “Boyhood” reminded her of Truffaut’s Doinel stories. She a star of stage and screen, appearing in shows like “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” and films like “It’s Complicated,” “Revolutionary Road” and ”Ruby Sparks.” In fact, it’s “Ruby Sparks,” which she wrote herself, that made me a Zoe Kazan fan — there’s something very badass about writing yourself a lead role in a movie.
In “What If,” Kazan is a leading lady once again, playing Chantry, a young woman with a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) who befriends her cousin’s aimless pal, Wallace (Radcliffe). As their friendship gets closer and closer, Chantry and Wallace both start to wonder whether it’s possible to remain friends when you’ve got romantic feelings. It’s super emotionally realistic in a way most rom-coms usually aren’t.
Earlier this spring, I met up with a bubbly Kazan to chat about “What If,” rom-coms, feminism, and femininity. Our conversation is after the jump:
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Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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Mother’s Day is when advertising distills motherhood down to home-cooked brunch, a bracelet, or a fragrant bouquet. But for far too many people, the relationship with their mom is a complicated one. Not all mothers have been nurturing and caring; not all daughters and sons have overcome the trauma of their childhoods as adults. There can be a lot of love in a mother-child relationship, but also a deep well of pain. That’s why The End Of Eve: A Memoir, by Ariel Gore, is the perfect antidote to Mother’s Day.
Several years ago, Gore, who is the editor of Hip Mama magazine, was happily in a relationship with her partner and raising a college-aged daughter and a toddler son, when she got some news. Her narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother, Eve, announced she had cancer.
So, Gore and her family picked up their lives and moved to spend the last couple of years caring for Eve — who, in turn, made everyone’s lives difficult in every possible way, like reporting Gore and her partner to Child Protective Services for (nonexistent) child abuse. But Gore was dedicated to both caring for her sick mom and trying to keep her relationship with her girlfriend together.
As a memoirist, Ariel Gore is gifted: she is able to tell a heartbreaking story of illness and betrayal with the perfect mix of respect, humor and irreverence. I called Gore at home to talk about The End Of Eve, which I absolutely devoured. Our conversation is after the jump!
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Last week we published an article called “Why I Stopped Washing My Hair (And So Should You!)” by Rebecca Vipond Brink. The post generated a lot of discussion — and a TON of questions. So we brought Rebecca back to answer all your most pressing no ‘poo questions, from worries about unwashed hair smells to detailed instructions for that baking soda scalp scrub. Read on for the lowdown on the no shampoo lifestyle… Keep reading »
You have to be living under a rock to have never seen an Essie nail polish: they’re a staple of modern woman-dom, a nail paint that you can find in nearly every pharmacy and even J.Crew!. But did you know that there’s a real Essie behind the global brand?
Essie Weingarten is the founder and president of Essie Cosmetics, which she started back in 1981 while she worked at the famous department store, Henri Bendel. Weingarten debuted just 12 polishes in Las Vegas and they became an instant hit. Throughout the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, she grew her brand up to 900 polishes, even gaining the Queen of England as a fan. (In fact, Kate Middleton wore Essie polish on her wedding day!) In 2010, she sold the company to L’Oreal and still reigns supreme as global creative director.
Weingarten’s newest project is joining AOL as a beauty expert where she’ll dole out advice on polish and nail care. Fans can submit any and all questionse via Twitter starting in May using the hashtag #AskEssie and tweet @AOL + @essie. I had the chance to call up Essie Weingarten and ask her some questions of my own (and was very glad to be on the other side of the phone where she couldn’t see my nails were bare and bitten — oops). Keep reading »