Is everyone hanging out without me? I mean, yeah probably. People are hanging out everywhere right now and I’m sitting here writing this. Should I be worried? Better yet, should I be worried that I’m not worried? At 26, I’ve chosen my friends well and I’m relentlessly confident in those relationships but at say, 15? Whoa, not so much. I think most humans, especially adolescent humans, have some level of anxiety about their place in a group of friends and whether or not they feel they belong. As much as I’d love to say that feeling goes away as you grow older, that would make me a filthy liar. And honesty is the name of my game, so, sorry, but we will all struggle with that far past high school. The good news is that Mindy Kaling brings a welcomed humor to this and oh so many other concerns.
Mindy Kaling, who brought us ‘The Office’, Kelly Kapoor, and her own self-titled ‘The Mindy Project’, wrote an autobiographical account of her funniest and most memorable life experiences. Complete with snippets of real talk about high school, college, relationships, and comedy writing, she adds a sensible humor to her advice about tough issues facing modern young women. She’s not entirely gentle, though. She shoots the reader straight when it comes to making good decisions, surrounding oneself with the right people, and dealing with criticism.
I originally read this book when it was released in 2011. I’m a member and huge fan of Audible now and when I saw that she narrated it herself, I was itching to listen. I just listened to Neil Gaiman narrate his latest book, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’, and holy crap does that man have an addictively gorgeous voice. Mindy’s voice is such a distinguishing factor in her comedy/acting life. Despite her girlish high pitch, she’s looked Hollywood/the world in the face and said “I’m a badass, strong, savvy, hilarious woman, so listen the hell up, fools.” I think hearing how someone reads their own writing is the best way to grasp the tone of a book. Only that person truly knows how they want people to hear their words. Inflection is everything. And she makes the most of her opportunity to steer the reader’s ear.
There were, however, notable differences between the listening and the reading of this book. Reading it the first time, I remember laughing out loud almost immediately. While listening, it took almost an hour (out of about four total hours) for an audible laugh to escape me. Maybe I added some more flair when I created her voice in my head. Maybe because I’d already read it, I was conditioned to the humor and didn’t feel it as strongly. Whatever the case, it took me longer to get into it as an audiobook.
But nevertheless, I did end up laughing out loud, and on a train I might add, and far more than once. I relate well to Mindy because we share many of the same issues. Body image/weight, intimacy, finding a way to pursue a passion, keeping the right friends, accepting my own version of crazy. Once she became an icon, she realized she could be a beacon of understanding and mutual trial for women of all walks.
Her first few stories center around her teenage years and the comedy that was her high school experience. In hindsight, that is. I’m sure it wasn’t that funny until she became an international sensation. She reminisces about her then best friends and how, when they didn’t understand or accept her passion for comedy, she got smart and slowly drifted to the people that did accept it. And those people blew past acceptance and embraced her for her true self. That didn’t come until college, though. I relate to her there, too. I made all of my best friends in college and even in the few years following college. (And yes I’m a few years past college, please don’t call me old yet…please?) So if you’re reading this as a teenager and you’re frustrated with your friend situation, I’ll tell you this. Go to a college that is right for your interests and join something. Scratch that. Do it now. Even just one club, or intramural sport, or singing group, or play. Diversifying your friend groups will broaden your world view and expose you to more people who can change your life for the better. Get yourself around like-minded people and lasting, meaningful, fulfilling friendships will naturally form.
It seems we also have similar ideals. Firstly, she could not be more right that toe jewelry is a heinous atrocity of this Earth. What EVEN is the point of a toe ring? Ok, if you’re wearing sandals I guess someone could see it, but WHY would you WANT anyone to see that? Aren’t they also uncomfortable? It’s like you’re actively putting a rock in your shoe. Toe.Rings.Do.Not.Compute. We also agree that the perfect man is probably the handsomest guy in the AP Calculus class and that one night stands are pointless acts of indifference. On the definition of “hooking up”, however, we differ. Mindy challenges the reader to agree that “we hooked up” means “we had sex”.
Um, no. That’s far too casual for my taste. Hooking up is anything before the home run. If you cared enough about someone to go all the way, at least do them the courtesy of placing more value on the union than just calling it a hook up. Had sex, made love, knocked boots, slept together. Any of these (and more) are acceptable. Having sex is not an ambiguous act, let’s not devalue it as such.
I have a wild appreciation for authors who address their young audiences with a broad vocabulary. Mindy does this. It’s as if she’s saying, yeah, you want to be an intelligent career woman? Go look that word up and then you may continue reading. In fact, that’s a fabulous idea. There should be eBooks that make you define advanced words throughout the book and if you don’t get it right you have to look it up before you can move on to the next page. Y’ALL THIS IS A MILLION DOLLAR IDEA. You heard it here first. Unless it already exists. In which case, I totally didn’t know that, please pretend this is a brilliant, original idea.
She also mixes in relevant political and cultural references which many younger readers might not have had the opportunity to learn about yet. She balances out the serious stuff by talking about her love for pop culture silliness and it’s role in taking our minds off of our own problems. Sure, the Kardashians aren’t the greatest role models, although really they have built their own business empire and that’s kind of a big deal, but for a few minutes maybe you can turn your mind off. A respite from our own thoughts isn’t so bad every once in a while. Next thing you know, though, she’s throwing out Antonin Scalia references. QUICK! First person to comment the correct occupation of Antonin Scalia gets a virtual high five, hug, or cookie. Your choice. If you know it without googling, that’s awesome. But if you don’t and you head to Google, THAT TOO is awesome because you just learned something relevant, important, and useful.
A few other observations:
1. The word flibbertigibbet is highly underused and underrated. **sidenote: I really took this to heart and yours truly will soon be vlogging on youtube on a channel called “the flibbertigibbet” and The FlibGib for short**
2. She totally called a shark/natural disaster combo movie. She calls out volcanoes but I mean, that’s basically the same thing as the sharknado. Way to go, Min.
3. She used the term “monogom-ish”. Heh.
4. Paul Simon and the Vince Guaraldi Trio are the major musical references in this book. Mindy. I love you. And the peanuts gang. And you can call me Al.
5. The fact that she uses Amy Poehler and Will Arnett’s marriage as a model for goodness gives me all the sads now that they’re divorced.
Ultimately, there is so much truth and hilarity in this book and although I don’t agree with her on everything, I love this book and highly recommend it.
Moral of the story: love yourself, love your pals, attempt to make good decisions, forgive yourself for the poor ones. Also, that Mindy and I should be best friends. As evidenced by this video:
If you’d like a different, albeit less detailed, opinion of Mindy’s book, Hannah Hart of “My Drunk Kitchen” featured IEHOWM? (AOC) in the first installment of her walking book club series. She didn’t love it. And that’s ok! I like to think being the yin to Hannah’s yang on this isn’t such a bad thing.
Until next time…hold on to your butts.