51. Bitter Is the New Black – Jen Lancaster
I am generally bitter and frequently wore all black for a period of time. So, this title spoke to me in spite of the book’s cover, which is totally chick lit-ified and therefore said, “this book will be fluffy and possibly attempt to force you into being wistful about shopping and romance.” Thankfully the subject matter leans more towards the bitterness than the wistfulness. Until the end when essentially it all works out and the author continues to write books for a living. Jerk. Two-income household jerk. That’s of course said in jest, and not solely out of bitterness. Definitely in good-spirited jest. Definitely.
Anyway, Jen Lancaster has a high paying corporate job and then she is removed from said corporate job and gets to deal with the shitastic reality of signing up for unemployment, having that unemployment money run out before being gainfully employed again, essentially taking her frustrations out on her husband who seems nice, etc. It sucks losing your job. I remember the first time I quit a job without having one lined up – it was 2008 and it was fucking terrifying because my education has never been an indicator of me either getting a job or being paid in relation to my educational level, regardless of what any statistics say. I have heard that whole “you’re overqualified” schpiel a few hundred times in addition to the “why are you applying here?” line of questioning. It’s funny, you get a few degrees, and it doesn’t actually eliminate your need to eat and have shelter and go to the movies once in a damn while. Miss Lancaster was also accustomed to being able to buy things with recognizable names on them like handbags and shoes. I have never been accustomed to any lifestyle besides being able to live in a space that is somewhat compatible with my breathing and guinea pig needs. In addition to the going from highly paid to kinda paid and having to sell some of her named objects, she also has a husband and they have pets. I only distinctly remember the existence of one pet in the memoir, a particularly sweet sounding pitbull, and all I can say about that is that it costs a lot to own a gigantic muscular dog. They need to eat things. The main consideration I would have if I lost my current jobs would be feeding my pigs. They are demanding and produce is expensive.
So she has a shitty time for a while and finally realizes that it can be embarrassing to be so materialistic, but the lessons of being a poor person don’t really seem to stick with her, which is probably because she is a Republican. They seem to have an easier time idealizing their own journeys to wealth and while she’s not necessarily idealizing in this particular book, having read one of her later works (which I did like, mind you), I can see how this experience for her is kind of like that time Tyra Banks was homeless on her talk show for like three hours but thought her experience was much more profound to discuss than the experience of a person who was actually homeless. Make-up dirt is not the same as four day grunge from sleeping outside and trying to clean oneself in a public library bathroom.
Also, I cannot remember if she screws up her credit card in this book by purchasing things under the influence of Ambien (it might have been in My Fair Lazy, which I liked, it was about TV at times), but I keep thinking about that while I’m writing and I just wanted to shoehorn in that a combination of her accounts of Ambien-laced shopping, the Ambien walrus from Toothpaste for Dinner, and one acquaintance’s tales of madness have made me sure I’d like to never try Ambien. Or Lunesta, apparently it leaves a terrible taste in your mouth. That’s great. Bitter, even.