Books, celebrity, Halloween, Politics, pop culture, social media, television

THE CATCH-UP: 9/18-9/25

This is a new little column I’m starting. I read a lot (a lot, a lot) and there are often some great articles and videos that I stumble upon during my week. I thought I would create a space to round them all together.

The Catch-Up

1. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Donald Trump Is The First White President”

I love Ta-Nehisi Coates. His writing at The Atlantic is always really beautiful and thought-out and timely. The one thing I will say about this piece in particular is it’s a little dense, so I’m linking an interview Coates did with Chris Hayes here.

2. Vox, “Treating hurricanes like war zones hurts survivors”

“The Strike-Through with Carlos Maza” is one of the great explainer series that Vox does. In this one, Maza dissects the way that the media portrays natural diasters as an “us-versus-them warzone.” He also examines the negative effects of doing so, like painting looting as a much more powerful threat than it actually is, which stops people from evacuating dangerous situations.

3. Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, “Who Did the Real Housewives Vote For?” 

This should be dumb, but I read through this entire piece. Nothing is actually confirmed by the writer except for what the Housewives have already confirmed, but it’s still fascinating. We watch these extremely wealthy women live out their lives every week, and it’s a grim fact to realize their politics might not align with yours.

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Books, Essay, Life


The other day, I asked my friend, “Did you even read Harry Potter?” We’re best friends, so I know a decent amount about her, but this was something I don’t remember us ever talking about.

Watch, she’s gonna text me after reading this and go, “Actually we did talk about it on xyz.”

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan – I think the world divides pretty cleanly into fans and non-fans, and usually it comes down to your level of physical fitness in middle school. Despite doing essentially every sport imaginable as some sort last-ditch effort to butch me up, I was not a ~jock~. My parents also severely limited my screen time (a wise decision, because I think my eyeballs would’ve been fried out of my head by now).

So I spent my time in one of a few ways: creating dresses for Polly Pockets (this is a real thing, I really did this), practicing piano, and reading. Reading like “reading under my desk after tests” reading and “bringing three books on vacation” reading. It’s the reason why I am so good at writing (I think) and also the reason why I say things like “I AM THE PROTAGONIST” (see above).

Harry Potter was one of my ultimate favorite series. I’ve probably read the entire thing more than twenty times, and own two sets (one weather-beaten and held together by tape and a prayer; one that came in a “trunk” set for Christmas).

Obviously the follow-up question was, “What house are you?” She’s Gryffindor (because she’s basically Hermione Granger), but that’s not actually important because she’s not the protagonist in this story – I am.

I told her that when Pottermore originally came out (after I did…copycat) I took the Sorting Hat quiz and was placed in Ravenclaw. This fits – I’m smart, clever and more than a little socially insensitive. Also I look amazing in blue. I was happy to be in Ravenclaw, even though everyone secretly wants to be in Gryffindor because Harry Potter was in Gryffindor.

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Books, Review

Review: Live Fast, Die Hot

Jenny Mollen’s new book “Live Fast, Die Hot” proves that you can be crazy, hot, and vulnerable and not end up dead.

by Danny McCarthy


Jenny Mollen’s book of humorous essays, Live Fast, Die Hot, reads like an extended love letter from a hyperactive, hormone-addled teenage youth. The recipient of the letter: basically everyone Jenny comes into contact with. Manhattanite mothers on the playground. The liaison connecting Jenny to the isolated Atlas Mountain weavers of her Beni Ourain rug. Her drug dealer. But most importantly, as it becomes more evident in the latter half of the book, the recipient is Sid, Jenny’s two-year-old son.

In nine semi-independent, semi-chronological essays, Jenny explores the truth behind an age-old lie: You may be an adult, but that doesn’t mean you have your shit together.

Jenny decidedly does not have her shit together. In her second chapter, Jenny’s new night nurse describes her as the “least prepared parent she’d ever worked with.” In another, Jenny starts stalking her New York City neighbor to get them to stop smoking on their terrace, because the smoke blows towards her baby’s nursery.

Jenny’s antics are misguided attempts to make everyone like her, holdovers from lackadaisical parents—in one essay, Jenny steals the favorite toy of her mother’s prized dog Rocky because she’s jealous of the attention he’s getting. The current running underneath that manic desire to woo everyone is a softer desire to be liked. While going on Tinder to try and find other mommy friends, Jenny stops her husband, Jason Biggs, from helping her.

“It still irks me when I am brushed to the side as people clamor to talk to him,” Jenny writes. “This is why I didn’t want Jason making a Tinder profile. Because I knew if he did, he’d probably have more mom friends than me.” Jenny blunts the anxiety with humor, like when she stoppers that insecure moment by saying, “Unlike my goal of dying with more Twitter followers than Jason, having more mom friends was something within my reach.”

That vulnerability cuts the more outrageous stories, and carries the book. In a flatter essay, Jenny hates her husband’s dog—a holdover from his life before her—and manages to eventually pawn him off onto an Instagram friend. We forgive her more narcissistic moments because we’ve seen the good.

It doesn’t become entirely clear what the book is about until the last chapter. Jenny is deep in the Peruvian jungle, hallucinogenic tea coursing through her. Drawn to the jungle with the promise of enlightenment and an appearance on her friend’s Netflix documentary, Jenny goes on the trip to drink ayahuasca.

After drinking the tea, shitting and vomiting herself dry, Jenny sees a vision of her and Sid, doing a synchronized ice-dancing routine. And after looking into Sid’s eyes, she is overcome with emotion. She realizes, “‘He loves me,” I wept, like I was a contestant who’d just been proposed to on The Bachelor. He already loves me. Because I’m his mom and I’ll always be his mom.’”

Every psychotic thing—stalking her neighbors to get them to stop smoking; traveling to the Atlas Mountains to prove she could be independent; meeting weird, cold Manhattan moms so that Sid wouldn’t be excluded in preschool—becomes elucidated as Jenny’s attempts to combat her “feelings of unworthiness.” Her frenetic love for her son is her wanting to impress him. Jenny might be obsessed with getting everyone to love her, but she’s not a total megalomaniac. Hopefully.