Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Everything is Going to be Great, 45/100

These people. These people with their European tours. Backpacking through Asia. "Finding themselves" by traveling abroad.

How exactly are they affording it?

I somehow managed to travel to Japan for 2 measly weeks after graduation, and it took me 2 years to pay for those 2 weeks. I'd like to make my way to Europe, but damn y'all, I'm rationing toilet paper at this point.

Rachel Shukert's 2nd memoir (she's in her mid-twenties and already has two memoirs, so yeah, she's had some adventures), Everything is Going to be Great: an Underfunded and Overexposed Grand European Tour was an absolutely hilarious read. Filled with sometimes nearly unbelievable tales of sexual escapades (sexcapades), affairs, cultural misunderstanding and uncanny coincidence, you might wonder if this is truly a memoir. Or more like very creative non-fiction. I suppose my life and experience are just so removed from hers, that I can't imagine so many things happening to a person so young. As she says at some point in the book, she feels like she's lived her entire life before the age of 24.

Well, as long as my life stays sheltered here behind my apartment door, buried under a duvet and covered in Cheeto dust, I may as well live vicariously through Shukert's.

And oh, the adventures she has! She travels with a theatre troupe through Zurich and Vienna, ends up in Amsterdam living with two gay roommates (and somehow not having to pay rent), and meets a whole cast of colorful friends, including two vampires and several potheads. Dental emergencies lead to orgies and near-prostitution, stolen bicycles bring about karmic retribution, and yelling "who wants to go to a comedy show?!" outside the Anne Frank house is revealed to be a bad idea.

But you have to admire just how honest Shukert is in regard to revealing her own mistakes and personal faults. There are a million instances reading the book when I wanted to yell "What in the hell are you doing!? Don't go in there! Don't have sex with that person! Run away!" If this were a moralistic Victorian novel, she would have been killed off or forced into prostitution by the second chapter. But it's nice to read something from a female author where she didn't feel the need to censor herself.

In a Wall Street Journal blog post, Shukert talks about this censorship and how it relates to Eat, Pray, Love: a novel which her own is often compared (falsely, in my opinion). She notes:

Women are constantly judged, so we reflexively judge each other. We’re too fat or too thin; too sexy or not sexy enough; too uptight or too lazy, too feminist or not feminist enough. But in our hypercritical judgment, we miss the entire point of feminism, which was not to transform us all into high-achieving super-beings (or sympathetic victims), but about the universal recognition of the fact that women are as fully human as men.

This means accepting, each other, and ourselves, for what we are warts and all.

We are none of us perfect. And that’s what makes us great.

Here here.

Anyway, I have about 5 million passages I want to share with you. You, the internet. Hope you can handle it.

Shukert, attempting to discuss feminism in French with a local whilst inebriated:
"But I have more to be talking. Simone de Beauvoir, she is talking very beautiful about the feminism. But in the true life? She is washing the underpants of Sartre and then she is making of the tears when he is doing the sex with the others of the women... A woman who is true feminist, she is not doing of this. Hear me Benoit! Me, I do not care if you are erotic...but I am not doing the washing of the shit from the underpants of a man!"

I finished the rest of the wine and smashed the empty bottle against the cobblestones, for punctuation. The shattered glass sprayed my legs, leaving a spatter of tiny red spots of blood against my bare skin.

"I am not even washing the underpants of me!"

I know what's wrong with me." I said to the student psychiatrist the university had provided for my care. "Don't think I don't know. My gargantuan sense of entitlement is matched only by my formidable laziness. I have no self-discipline. My eyesight is bad and I hate my boobs. I habitually shoplift small and valueless objects such as non-dairy creamer and pre-made California rolls. I am paranoid, insecure, and pathologically jealous of what other people have--for example, parents who are rich and powerful. I yearn for the approval of others, even though I don't think I like other people very much, apart from the uninterested men with whom I periodically become obsessed. I am addicted to Diet Coke, which I'm told will give me neurological problems and bladder cancer. I'm a terrible hoarder. The only thing I seem able to get rid of is alcohol, which goes down my throat.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman who spends a lot of time alone is going to find herself on the receiving end of all sorts of attention from strange, often sinister, men.

Talking with one of the Dutch vampires:
"Sebastiao and I are not bound by sexual jealousies in the way of mortals. But this girl, I have known her before, in school, and she is listening to the music of Nelly Furtado. I do not believe she is a true Child of Hell."

A backyard is nothing but a little patch of dirt and rocks and sky. And the world is a vast, terrifying and wonderful place, filled with things we don't yet know we need. Nothing comes to us until we leave our little patch of dirt and go find them.

Great, except to leave a patch of dirt for another patch of dirt one needs a patch of money.

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