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Navigating My Thirties, One Drunk Baby Shower at a Time
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The Author of This Book Took My Virginity: A Foreword by Shane Dawson
It was a hot summer’s night in the magical city of Hollywood and an even hotter summer’s night in the one-bedroom apartment of struggling actress Lisa Schwartz. This wasn’t because the people inside were having heated, passionate sex, but because Lisa didn’t want to pay for air-conditioning and would rather occasionally put her head in the freezer and her tits in the fridge. I watched her do this one night as I sat bottomless on the couch with a large ice cube wedged in at the top of my hairy ass crack. As I adjusted the towel underneath me to make sure I wasn’t getting ice-poop-sweat drips on her couch, I thought to myself, Tonight’s the night. I’m going to lose my virginity!
Me: “Lisa? Are you almost numb in there?”
Lisa: “Yeah! I’m just gonna grab a cold bottle of Tito’s to straddle. You want anything?”
Me: “Maybe some more ice.”
Me: “And another towel. Something earth toned.”
Lisa sat down next to me with the hardest nipples I had ever seen. Even harder than mine when I found out TLC was rebooting Trading Spaces with all the original designers coming back! Neighbors switching houses and letting each other redecorate their living rooms?! Talk about drama with some “roomspiration” on the side! I’m PINTERESTed! You’re probably thinking that’s something a straight guy wouldn’t watch… and you would be right. But no spoilers—I’ll let Lisa tell you more about that later in this book. Back to the hot summer’s night of 2012.
Me: “When do you think you’ll get air-conditioning?”
Lisa: “When that thinner, younger version of me stops booking every fuckin’ commercial on TV.”
Lisa: “Her name’s Amy. I saw it on the sign-in sheet. I hope she gets fat from all those yogurt commercials she books.”
She shoved the cold bottle of Tito’s in between her legs and let out a grunt.
Lisa: “I need to book something soon. The number in my bank account’s getting scarily close to the number on my scale, and I like to keep those far away from each other.”
Me: “You could always gain a thousand pounds!”
She stared at me unamused. I dripped.
Lisa: “I wonder if they’ll bring back those Dove commercials where they have all the big ladies talk about how much they love their creases. I could pretend to love my creases too if I got residuals.”
As Lisa rotated the thawed part of the Tito’s bottle away from her now purple vagina, I looked into her eyes and saw something she always seemed to have lingering in there: uncertainty. She was constantly battling voices inside her head that were screaming that she wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, talented enough, or, most importantly, successful enough. It was something that would send me into a whirlwind of confusion because I didn’t understand how somebody so beautiful, so talented, so hilarious, and, most importantly, so good could be so hard on themselves.
The first time I saw Lisa was a few years prior, and I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen in my entire nineteen years of life. We were total strangers, sitting across from each other in a seedy audition room in the slums of Hollywood. As she stared at her script, I stared at her face and couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky she was to be so fucking beautiful. I thought about how all the other girls in the room were probably looking at her with spite and how the guy with the six-pack sitting next to me was probably going to be making out with her on set later, after they both inevitably got the job because, why wouldn’t they? Now as I look back, I realize while I was thinking about how perfect she was, she was thinking about all the things she wished she could change about herself. Even to this day she doesn’t realize how incredible she really is. But once again, no spoilers. I’m sure she will give you lots of insight into what goes on inside her head later.
Me: “Should we… go to the bedroom?”
Lisa: “I’m too hot to dry hump. Can we do it after my sweat crystalizes?”
Me: “Well… I was thinking… maybe…”
Me: “Maybe we could try… to…”
My heart started to race and I felt like I was going to pass out more than I already had in this $1,200-a-month walk-in oven.
Me: “Not… dry hump…”
Lisa slowly ripped the Tito’s from her inner thighs like a child’s tongue off a frozen street pole. She placed it on the coffee table and took a deep breath.
Lisa: “You sure you’re ready?”
(Quick backstory: I always said I wanted to wait till marriage to have sex for religious reasons. The truth was that I was nervous about my oddly large balls and my penis’s resting state. I don’t want to go into detail, but it kind of looks like a feeder mouse. Don’t worry—when it’s hard, it’s perfectly slightly below average and weirdly red.)
Me: “Well… I was thinking… I wanted to wait to have sex with the person I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with… and I know I want to spend it with you.”
The uncertainty that was usually always somewhere in her eyes disappeared. We had only been dating for a few months, but the connection we had was so strong that we both knew it was going to last forever. A tear rolled down her cheek and then one rolled down mine. I was more sure that I wanted my first time to be with her than I’ve ever been sure of anything in my life.
Now, I’m not going to get graphic and tell you about how the sex was, but I will tell you this: Her room was ten degrees hotter than the rest of her apartment, so my ass sweat soaked through all her bed sheets and caused her mattress to mold. I know, a true love story. There’s nothing more romantic than having your girlfriend ask if you peed the bed or if it was just a puddle from your back fat and ass sweat. You know, just like in all the good romance movies.
When we realized that night that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives, we weren’t wrong. We might not sweat naked together in a humid apartment in Hollywood anymore, but I still consider Lisa my family. My first love, my first time, my first real relationship, my first partner in crime, and now my first book foreword.
The reason I decided to tell you this story wasn’t because I wanted to brag about having sex with the author of this book or to give you vivid details about the shape and general vibe of my penis. It’s because I waited twenty-three years to make love to someone who I didn’t think existed. Someone who would make me feel comfortable enough to take off my clothes for the first time even though I hated my body. Someone who I trusted enough to share so much of myself and so much of my life with. Someone who could make me laugh harder than anyone I know and cry with me when I didn’t know who I was. Someone who I could talk to for hours and not be constantly thinking about my next meal. Someone who said they didn’t mind my big balls because they were “big just like my heart.”
This book isn’t just written by a funny woman with stories to tell. This book is written by a woman whose stories are worth telling. I’m so proud to introduce this book to you, written by a woman who is hilarious, dark, wise, insightful, and has always been good enough: Lisa Schwartz.
Raised on Seinfeld
You know, if you take everything I’ve accomplished in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent.
Entering your thirties SUCKS. Ok, that was dramatic. Not EVERYTHING about it sucks. You’re finally in charge of your own life and can do all the things your parents told you not to do, like have popcorn and wine for dinner, or stay up for hours watching shitty reality TV shows while ordering useless products on Amazon Prime. (I was desperate to try an LED rainbow showerhead precisely because my parents refused to buy me one when I was younger. As it turns out, they were right for saying no. It was a complete waste of money, and now I shower underneath a dull, red flashing light.)
As entertaining as these snack-induced comas, Bachelor binges, and tipsy online purchases can be, hitting your thirties is far tougher than any guilty pleasure or useless purchase can mend. The minute you turn thirty, everything starts to change. The bills on your desk get higher, your metabolism gets slower, and your friends get married and have babies. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love my friends. I want the best for them, including a wedding with an open bar and little humans I can give back when they start to cry. However, these sudden surges of change sent my brain into a marathon of questioning. If they are settling down and having kids, am I supposed to? Do I want to? If I do, do I have to do it now? I was just about to finally start Game of Thrones!
This thought cycle usually leads to a period of binge drinking and sleeping with random dudes as a “fuck you” to living life the “right way,” followed by a sob session with a therapist who I’m certain counts the minutes till we’re done, topped off by a plate of fries with a side of “I should try to be like everybody else. Right?” Shit, I’m exhausted and we’ve only just begun. Welcome to your thirties.
There are plenty of books out there to help see you through your “quarter-life crisis”—see Chicken Soup for Your 25-Year-Old Soul Who Is Still Living Off Top Ramen and Trying to Figure Out Which Minimum-Wage Job to Stick Out, aka The Holy Bible for Student Loan Victims and Soon-to-Be Struggling Artists—but no one warns you about the thirty-life crisis, when the microwaved noodles and cater waiter jobs of your twenties start to feel like a quaint walk in the park and when the proverbial umbilical cord to a noncommittal life of partying and dreaming gets cut off by wedding invites and 401(k)s. Sadly, the dream boards made with the assistance of that epic joint are thrown into the trashcan as your friends succumb to the once proclaimed enemy, “the man.” Not to mention the “where are we going to eat” conversations turn into “where is this going” in the blink of an eye. In just one decade, inquiring about your relationship status shifts from being perceived as clingy and even crazy because you have “so much time” ahead of you to being the norm and even a societal expectation because you’re “running out of time,” you old hag. Holy hell, where is the book for that?
Don’t freak out—I promise it gets better. If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of your age wearing you down, or have felt like you were on a different path than the people around you, I got your back. It took me thirty-five years to accept the fact that I can’t do life like everyone else, even if it would be easier for me to just climb the corporate ladder, settle down, and pop out a kid or two. Every other moron is capable of doing it; why can’t I? The answer: Seinfeld.
Seriously. Every Thursday night, my family and I turned our dining room chairs toward the TV and watched Seinfeld intently. It didn’t occur to me until just now that I was far more influenced by this show than I ever realized. Think about it. The four main characters were single, independent misfits in their thirties. They lived alone, overthought everything, and made love look tedious. Seinfeld laid my life out before me—I just didn’t know it yet.
One time someone told me I reminded them of George Costanza. At first, I was totally insulted. I look way better posing in my underwear on a couch. But then I realized they were right. I’m a tiny neurotic Jew with a knack for doing things the wrong way, and I have been known on several occasions to dig a dessert out of the trashcan.
Of course, a TV show can’t be the only explanation for an aversion to the norm. Personally, I like to blame my parents. (That’s what they’re there for, right?) The reality is mine are actually delightful humans. But they are just that—human. Without knowing it, their innate fears and overt neuroses rubbed off on me at a very young age. For example, thanks to them, I will NEVER check my bags at the airport curb, I will ALWAYS have an “out” for every social event, and I will NEVER be fully comfortable in large crowds. I’m a real good time. On top of all that, my parents’ divorce inadvertently hindered my shot at ever trusting in true love. Because I saw firsthand that a beautiful couple, with a good family, steady incomes, and great senses of humor, were capable of falling out of love, I was left incapable of believing in eternal love. At least my skepticism justifies my three-dates-and-quit rule.
I know I sound like a millennial (if only I still looked like one), complaining and blaming everyone else. I am. But I also take full responsibility for my relentless desire to overanalyze life, all for the sake of figuring out what the fuck we are expected to be doing here. The impetus of my thirty-life crisis.
Through my various awkward experiences, which I’m probably going to regret sharing, I hope that I can give comfort to those going through this less-documented rite of passage. The neurotic ones trying to take the unconventional path while still questioning themselves along the way. The ones who have had to parent a parent, unprepared, as they lay sobbing in your arms. The ones who have finally accepted they need help because leaving the house has become increasingly more difficult. The ones who relate to being called crazy on a first date, or who have had to explain to a grandparent, time and again, why they’re still single. The ones who talk to their pets, dance to the music playing in their heads, and can’t wait to get home to rip off their Spanx. And especially to the ones who are exhausted by the tears and are desperate for the giggles. In the end, the only way to deal with the toughest shit life throws at you is to laugh.
Even though my thirties have been one hell of an emotional roller coaster, at least I can share with you what I’ve learned so far and chalk my many failures up to research. You’re welcome. Also, thank you. My breakdowns now have a purpose.
Finally, a warning: This book will be unfiltered and often unladylike. It has to be; it’s real. It’s funny at times, sad at others, and humiliating, to say the least. I’m not holding back, because humans need to know that other humans are just as fucked up as they are, and that’s ok. In fact, sometimes it’s downright awesome. After all, why do you think Seinfeld is still so popular? I’ll always find solace in George Costanza. For I am Lisa Schwartz, “Lord of the Idiots.” Let’s do this.
Gender-Reveal Party—Yes, It’s a Fucking Thing
You gotta see the baby!
—Jerry Seinfeld as every annoying
Change is hard. I’ve never been good at it, no matter how many pillows with inspirational quotes I buy. Intellectually, I know that change is inevitable and usually leads to the next awesome chapter in your life. Yet, even knowing this, any shift in my routine throws me for a huge emotional loop.
Growing up, all I wanted was a dog. I would beg my parents, daily, to let us have one. After a couple of years of incessant begging, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was ten at this point, and being in double digits meant getting shit done. I did extensive research on the breed I wanted and made a list of all the things I would personally do to help take care of it. Funny how that list magically disappeared when the dog arrived. Nevertheless, my parents fell for my master plan. To seal the deal, I had found an ad in the PennySaver for a litter of the cutest miniature schnauzers. For the record, I endorse rescuing dogs, but at that time that wasn’t as common. Plus, we’re Jewish and allergic to everything, so finding a hypoallergenic dog was a box on the list I needed to check to ensure victory. It worked! Within hours, we were in the car, headed down to the middle of nowhere to meet the puppy of my dreams. Everything was going just as I had planned.
We had tickets to see a play on the night we finally brought the puppy home. Being the Schwartzes, we weren’t going to waste money and not attend. So, we set the pup up in his new crate and headed out. In the car, I started to cry. Then, I panicked. Before I knew it, I was basically hyperventilating. It wasn’t that I was upset we had left the puppy at home; instead I was having a full-blown anxiety attack over the fact that we got the dog in the first place.
“What if everything changes? What if everything is different? What if it was a bad idea? What if… what if…?” I shouted with boogers and tears sprinting down my face.
I honestly don’t remember my parents’ response. I was too worked up to listen, with my brain was going a million miles a minute. It was totally absurd because I wanted the dog so badly, but once I got him, I freaked out and immediately thought we should give him back. That, my friends, is what my OCD looks like (diagnosed, unfortunately not a hyperbole). A spiral of thoughts, loss of emotional control, full-blown panic, a complete aversion to change.
I ended up loving that dog. Max Farfel Schwartz. A gray miniature schnauzer with a terrible disposition and giant balls. Guessing the former had something to do with the latter. Max was my best friend and a huge part of my teenage life. He died when I was in college. Apparently, he went blind and kept walking into the pool. There was always a cover on, though, so he never fell in. He just stood there in terror, like Jesus walking on water, but the neurotic version. Eventually my parents had to put him down. Shortly afterward, they had to put down their marriage too. I don’t think the former had anything to do with the latter, but I’d have to ask. All these years later, my brother and I still sign Max’s name on cards. Always accompanied by a little paw print and an “RIP.” I’m not sure if we do it as a joke or as a serious in memoriam. Probably both.
I use this story a lot when trying to explain my reactions to change. Most people are able to go with the flow, or at least try to. To see someone, like me, freak out over the smallest and often most unexciting things is hard for many to understand. As absurd as the dog story is, it paints a picture of how I operate.
When I turned thirty, change started coming faster and more often. With that, my panic attacks came stronger and lasted longer. It wasn’t that I was upset that I was getting older; I was upset that everything was shifting. My friends were getting married and having babies, and the dynamics of the friendships were evolving. It was all freaking me the fuck out.
Randi, Jessica, and I had been friends since we were in middle school. We met doing children’s theater and spent our summers having slumber parties and rehearsing our jazz squares. We stayed loosely in touch during high school and college, and then reunited once we all moved back to Los Angeles. When we did, it was like we had never left. In fact, our bond became even stronger. Ever since then we have been like the Three Amigos, Charlie’s Angels, the Powerpuff Girls, or some other cute trio reference.
I’ve always done better in a group of three. Growing up it was Caitlin, Kit, and me. Now Randi, Jess, and me. I think there is some sort of buffer with three. One-on-one, you have no choice but to reveal everything about yourself. With three, sometimes you can go a whole hangout without ever really focusing on you. It’s a nice escape from the antagonistic self-analysis I do on a daily basis.
The three of us spend copious amounts of time together. We travel together, laugh together, cry together, and eat unhealthy amounts of French fries together. We’re like the cast of Now and Then. Except there are only three of us, and I call dibs on not being Rosie O’Donnell. These ladies are my heart, my soul, and my one constant amongst all the change.
Randi is a preschool administrator, and a very good one at that. She is tremendously patient, humbly brilliant, and she has a heart of gold. I don’t exactly know what that means, but it seems appropriate. She is subtle and thoughtful, but give her a glass of wine and the performer in her arrives. With Randi, I am comforted by our parallel anxieties and our need to please others. I can confide in her when I’m feeling overwhelmed or upset. Most of the time, we just have a silent understanding that we are on the same page. We appreciate the art of shopping, decorating, and hermitting. We have an ongoing battle over who uses WebMD the most. Now we have a secret book club, mostly because we don’t want to deal with other people. Randi, this book better be next month’s pick.
Jessica is like no one I have ever met before. She enters a room, and everyone knows she’s there. She’s eccentric and hysterical. Crazy but stable. She is the life of the party but half the time would prefer to be home in her sweatpants, cutting her cuticles obsessively. When I’m with her, I don’t have to worry about holding a conversation, or keeping things interesting. She takes me out of my comfort zone and gives me permission to let loose. A good time is built in anytime Jess is around. What I really love about Jessica is what’s underneath all that. She’s authentic and unapologetic. She’s the least judgmental person I know. She’s constantly just trying to figure out what we are all doing here and why. Also, whether or not a parallel universe exists, which we’ve spent hours on the couch talking about. Our conclusion: abso-fucking-lutely.
I feel like I land somewhere in between the two of them. I think on the outside I’m more of a Jessica, but inside I’m a Randi. When I’m with both of them, though, I finally feel like myself. For a socially anxious oddball, this is the greatest gift I could ever receive. These women have made me the woman I am today, and I am beyond grateful for our friendship. Except for when Jessica doesn’t have coffee in the morning. It’s not pretty, and I don’t want any part of it.
When we entered our thirties, we started to collectively feel the changes around us. With every baby shower invite, we held on to each other a little tighter. We also started drinking a little heavier. As our friends started getting pregnant and our social circle starting changing, we noticed we were no longer the center of the party. In fact, we were the annoying girls that needed to put down the champagne and invest in a cardigan set. We knew it, but we weren’t about to do it. Instead, we would sit in the back of the room at every baby shower and roll our eyes as we pounded the drinks we’d snuck in. We weren’t ready.
No matter how much we wanted to slow everything down, these ridiculous events were being thrown at us left and right. We had no choice—we had to suck it up, put on our floral-print dresses, and show up with some bullshit gift we got off some bullshit registry. Which, by the way, I don’t think is very fair. You had an engagement party, a bridal shower, a bachelorette weekend, and a fucking wedding. Now you’re having two baby showers, a baby naming, and then a birthday for every year that kid is alive. What next? Am I going to have to celebrate your vagina snapping back into place after you push that third child out? FUCK YOU. I’m broke, with an unjustifiably loose vagina, and I haven’t received a real gift since my fucking Bat Mitzvah, where I mostly received weird coins that are still sitting, dusty, in some cabinet at my dad’s house. You know what? I’m going to get me a registry and make you buy me shit if you keep inviting me to these ridiculous parties where all you serve is iced tea and little sandwiches. Give me a full-size sandwich and a glass of wine or I will go insane.
Which, I admittedly did more often than I’d like to admit (but do in this book). I would like to point out that this time was absolutely valid. This time exceeded all the other times, and then some. This time pushed the celebration limits to such an extreme that I nearly lost my mind. I certainly lost my pride.
It was a perfect summer day. The kind of day you want to spend drinking with your two best friends by the pool, laughing about the shitty date you went on last night with the guy who dropped the “I live on my ex-girlfriend’s couch” bomb, and planning the next time the three of you can ditch town and drink your body weight in wine. Oh, glorious summer—the sun was bright, the energy was electric, and the three of us… were stuck going to a gender-reveal party. Yes, insert that record scratch. I did, in fact, say GENDER-REVEAL PARTY. As if the two baby showers we had attended for this fetus wasn’t enough, we had to pretend to care whether it was coming out with a penis or a vagina. Let me tell you, there are very few things I actually care about. Teeny-tiny private parts are certainly not one of them.
In recent years, I have come to realize the power of saying no. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. I’m an adult and I owe that decision to myself. The power of no is a strong and an empowering thing. The power of obligation and guilt due to years of friendship, however, is stronger. So, we pulled ourselves together and went to the damn party.
We were supposed to dress in the color that represented the sex we thought the baby would come out as. Really, we all just wanted to wear black, but Randi wore pink, I wore blue, and Jessica wore yellow. She claims it was because she’s against gender identification, but I’m pretty sure she just didn’t read the invite.
- On Sale
- Aug 27, 2019
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Grand Central Publishing