Earth Hates Me

True Confessions from a Teenage Girl

Contributors

By Ruby Karp

Formats and Prices

Price

$15.99

Price

$20.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 3, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

“This book is filled with juicy young person wisdom.” –Amy Poehler

The definitive guide to being a teen in the modern age, with sage advice from a modern teenager and appealing to fans of Rookie.

Earth Hates Me presents a look inside the mind of the modern teenager–from a modern teenager’s perspective. Sixteen-year-old Ruby Karp addresses the issues facing every highschooler, from grades to peer pressure to Snapchat stories, and unpacks their complicated effects on the teen psyche.

Ruby advises her peers on the importance of feminism (“not just the Spice Girls version”), how to deal with jealousy and friend break-ups, family life, and much more. The book takes an in-depth look at the effect of social media on modern teens and the growing pressures of choosing the right college and career. Amy Poehler says, “This book is filled with juicy young person wisdom.”

With Ruby’s powerful underlying message “we are more than just a bunch of dumb teenagers obsessed with our phones,” Earth Hates Me is the definitive guide to being a teen in the modern age.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

THE IMPORTANCE OF LAUGHTER

At the beginning of my freshman year of high school, four sophomore boys came to my house tripping on acid.

You are probably wondering if I had known they would be on acid when I invited them over. The answer is no, I did not. Your next question might be, was I on acid? Also no. Did I know what acid was? Well, not exactly, but I did know that my parents had been on Ecstasy when they conceived me. That counts for something, right?

To give you some context: I’ve lived in the same apartment building my entire life. We have a doorman, Mike, who has seen me grow from a tiny baby to where I am today—a lanky sixteen-year-old. He’s seen my friends come and go too. But on this particular day, Mike thinks I am also doing acid, because of the frail sixteen-year-old boy he spotted running down the stairs of my building, wearing only his boxer briefs and clearly off his shit.

How did I get to this point? I asked myself as I called my mom in a panic. One of the boys had texted me earlier that day to say that he had heard my mom was away and that we should “hang out.” I was thrilled! Small, naive freshman Ruby Karp was having the sophomores at her house. They were known potheads, but what could really go wrong?

I had gone downstairs to lead the boys up to my apartment. As I herded them into the small elevator, Mike eyeing me suspiciously, I knew something was off. Once we had entered my shoebox apartment, I pulled one boy aside and asked him point blank: “Are you guys on something?”

“ACID!” he yelled.

Clearly, my freshman year was off to a great start.

Laughter seems to be the only thing that helps me get through thinking about my (many) awkward phases of life. If I choose to laugh about my Mohawk circa 2007, I can deal with the fact that I thought having my grandma cut my hair was a good idea (which, at the time, that was not funny in the least). Laughing also helps stop me from cringing too much when I remember the time I played Annie wearing a clown wig—a clown wig that fell off in the middle of the biggest number in the show.

In the moment, none of the events that I now laugh at seemed funny. Case in point: the acid-tripping boys at my apartment. It’s no laughing matter when a friend “accidentally” gives his friends three acid tabs instead of one. That’s actually pretty stupid. Another thing that wasn’t very funny was my phone call to my mom. After describing to her in detail what had happened and who with, she had a lot of questions, starting with, “Why the fu** was a Michael Cera lookalike running down the halls of our building in only his boxer briefs and throwing trash cans on the sidewalk like a gorilla?”

The acid incident led to a fair dose of yelling and a solid punishment from my mom—not that I needed any of that, though. It was punishment enough that I became known around school as the freshman who let the stoners do acid at her house.

After I got over my embarrassment and the denial that it had ever happened, life went on. The only people who seemed to remember or even remotely care about “the acid incident” were my doorman and my poor small black pug, who was traumatized beyond belief (never let people on acid near a dog. They will pet it for hours because “it’s just so soft”). And a little while later I was even able to find the situation humorous. After watching the movie Kids, I started to see the irony in the stereotype my life was slowly turning into. And while the incident had been scary in the moment, in retrospect it had actually been kind of funny, too. While I wish my freshman self had recognized the warning signs of one of the boys’ texts that night (“Oh, you have a free house this weekend? We should hang out! Can I bring drugs and four of my friends? Just kidding, I wouldn’t bring drugs to your house. Lol :)”), I did learn something from it. I now see through the manipulation of older teenage boys. And not every sixteen-year-old has such a story to tell (where no one actually got hurt, thankfully).

FINDING THE HUMOR

I don’t go a day without smiling. I don’t go a day without laughing. And I don’t go a day without watching clips of Jim and Pam (the best love story of all time) on YouTube. These are all things that represent happiness to me. Whether you’re flirting with someone, trying to persuade someone to buy something for you, or looking at an old photo of Justin Timberlake and resisting the urge to contact him and ask how he got his hair to look just like ramen noodles, you do it with a smile. We use humor for a number of reasons: to mask pain, to escape, or even just to have a good time. Laughter is one of the most important things we have—no matter how anal of a person you are, some part of you has a sense of humor (that is unless you’re Christian Grey, the master of terrifying morals, all things kinky, and never, ever, breaking into a smile). Laughter is used to point out the good and the bad, and it’s there when you need to forget that America actually allowed a reality TV star to become the president.

In the sixteen years I’ve been alive, my life has consisted of a long series of discomforting events. I was born in a room containing the following: a six-foot-tall black man who would soon become my godfather, an Asian doctor, an Indian nurse, a Cuban nurse, my mom—a five-foot-tall Jewish woman—and my Australian father. In the background somewhere was my grandpa debating whether the abolitionists or suffragists came first and my grandma yelling about the latkes she’d left at home. From the moment I was born, my life was chaotic, but full of humor. Something I would soon grow accustomed to.

THE GOAT STORY

My dad lives in Australia, so the little contact I have with him is either a birthday phone call or a Christmas present. He moved there when he left my mom and me when I was three years old. I used to care a lot about my dad and thought he was the coolest guy ever. He was never a constant in my life, but when I was younger, whenever he called it meant the world to me.

When I was seven years old, I asked my dad for a telescope for Christmas. I begged him over email, hoping to pursue my dreams of looking at the stars. Since I live in the city, it’s almost impossible to see stars at all. I thought that a telescope would help me finally find them.

For Christmas break that year, our family friends had offered to take me on a road trip with them to Disneyland, while my mom spent the holiday in New York. This road trip was the first time I realized I got severely carsick when in a car for longer than thirty minutes, and it was also the first time I realized that I hate road trips. We had decided to go to Disneyland on Christmas day, so that morning I waited for my mom to call me from New York, to describe to me all the details of what my telescope looked like in person. After my family friends and I had road tripped our way through one too many Billy Joel albums, my mom finally called.

“So, Ruby, we got your dad’s Christmas gift.”

“Really? What is it? Did he get me a telescope?”

“Well… no. Your dad donated a goat in your name to a family in need in Sri Lanka. But like, literally in your name. He named it Ruby Karp.”

Now, I am all for giving. I’m all for helping out wherever and whenever I can. Every Sunday, my mom and I go through my things and pack one bag full of items I don’t need and bring it to Goodwill. I have been doing this since I was five. So even at that age, I didn’t need a lesson on giving to those in need. What I needed was a Christmas gift from my dad. But I didn’t take it too poorly and even smiled, knowing that in Sri Lanka there was a goat named Ruby Karp, who was helping keep a family warm and fed.

The next year, though, I was still banking on a telescope for Christmas. I spent the months leading up to the holiday dropping hints to my dad in emails, hoping he’d realize I wanted nothing more than to look at the stars with a telescope so big that it would definitely not even fit in my room. And on Christmas morning, I waited. I prayed I would run downstairs to spot the UPS guy, who would make my wish come true. But instead, to no great surprise, my mom received an email—my dad’s favorite way of communicating.

“Okay, Ruby, I got your dad’s gift.”

“Is it a telescope!?”

“Your dad donated a duck in your name to a family in need in Sri Lanka.”

It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t upset. As obnoxious as it sounds, I really wanted a telescope. Once again, I did not let it get me down. I would not let something so obnoxious make me upset. I recognized that it was nice that he even gave me a gift; it just kind of sucked that it was one of the only times of the year he got me anything—and then it wasn’t even something I really felt connected to. But it was okay. It wasn’t the end of the world.

The following year, I stuck with my wish. I was determined. This would be the year. I woke up Christmas morning, begging the world to pull through for me. Once again, my mom got an email.

“What is it this time?” I asked, already knowing what was coming.

“Your dad donated another goat in your name to a family in need in Sri Lanka.”

I was now nine years old and had a growing farm of animals, all named Ruby Karp, halfway across the world.

On the bright side, not many nine year olds can say they have three animals in another country named after them.

This was the first time I had a real moment of “Why me?”

That lasted until I realized I was being a brat and pulled it together.

My mom knew what would cheer me up: a comedy show. Laughter is the one and only thing that could make me forget about the goat situation. She brought me in and told me that I would be sharing a story during the show. The show was at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade, for anyone who isn’t from New York), called ASSSCAT. It’s an improvisation show in which one monologist tells real stories about his or her life based off of a suggestion from the audience, and then a team does improvisation based off of that monologue. To inspire the monologist’s story, someone in the audience shouts out a word. My word, as I stood up in front of the crowd, was “airplane.” The only airplane story that came to mind was that one time I saw Corbin Bleu at JFK, at the same time as I was reading an issue of TigerBeat, with his face on the cover. But then I realized my life related more to airplanes than a High School Musical story. I had so many things in so many places that were more than just a car ride away. And so, I told the goat story. I didn’t find it that funny, because in my mind, it was the sad tale of my white privileged self being obnoxious. But the audience didn’t feel the same. As I got more into the story, with each detail the audience got more and more invested. They were laughing harder than my mom when she saw my freshman year grades. People seemed to find my pain funny.

That night, I found the humor in the story. I realized that after four years of holding grudges over a missing telescope (especially when my dream to pursue astronomy had long since died), the time had come to get over it and make something of my animal farm. Most of the animals had likely been eaten or died at this point anyway. So I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. I realized I wasn’t going to get justice out of the situation. So I made it into a set and performed it wherever and whenever I could. I discovered my self-deprecating voice through that tale. And realized that the bad luck that would seem to follow me throughout my life wasn’t all bad—it gave me these stories.

Now, you may not want to be a comedian. You may not enjoy comedy. Maybe you hate laughing and think the world is an evil place. These are all things that I cannot know. But you can always attempt to make light of bad situations. Instead of blaming everyone else and hating the world because you weren’t able to look at the non-existent stars of NYC, try to laugh about it. Find the things that make your life its own little sitcom. Look for a way to escape what might feel like the worst situation ever. Let yourself laugh about what’s happening. Otherwise, you’ll just be sad and sulking about who did what to whom. Granted, sometimes grudges need to be held. Sometimes there is no humor in a situation. But, when you can, find it. It will help you hate the world a little less. You might even enjoy it a little more.

POLITE DISCLAIMER

A lot of funny things factor into high school. There’s the “ironic” shitty beer that always ends up at the parties the same four people throw; there’s doing so badly on a test that you’re happy you got any of the questions right at all; there’s the one teacher who clearly misses their high school days and desperately wants to be a student again. A lot of humor can be found in the classroom. But, in reading the nine chapters you have ahead of you, please consider the following:

1. I am a white Jewish girl

2. I am cisgender

3. I am privileged

I have grown up on the Upper West Side my whole life, and in the grand scheme of things all of my problems are a laughing matter. My issues revolve around whatever boy is telling me I’m weird or me being lazy and not wanting to walk my dog. And that’s the thing about high school: half the time, you don’t even realize how weird or dumb or annoying your problems sound. In the moment, your problems seem bigger than that time Kim Kardashian lost her diamond earring in the ocean. Most of what I talk about in this book will not matter to me in ten years. Hopefully by then I will have graduated college, started my career, and stopped binge-watching Lily Collins movies wishing I had her hair. But all of these things are beside the point. I am warning you that I can only write what I know. I have only been around for sixteen years, have only had so many fights, have only seen so many Danny Devito movies.

As I mentioned above, right now I identify as straight, but that could change. Maybe I’ll wake up one day after years of being screwed over by men and realize I never liked men at all. Or maybe I’ll wake up and realize I like women as well as men. Both are awesome things to wake up and realize, but I haven’t had that morning yet. I don’t know what it’s like to have a crush on a girl, or to be a boy having a crush on a boy. The last thing I want is for someone reading this book to feel left out. Just know that I can’t lie and tell you I understand what you’ve been through, because I don’t. I’ve only had my own experiences.

Read everything I say (or don’t—stop the book in the middle when you find the secret hidden message that I am actually running away from home and clearly not someone you should be listening to for advice) and take it with a grain of salt. I’m drawing from personal experiences and hoping that maybe you’ve been there too. Or, perhaps the entire book was a waste of a tree and it turns out I am a weirdo who is the only person who has ever been dumped by text because her fifth-grade boyfriend realized he was gay. (Five years later my tenth-grade self would receive a similar text and say, “Ugh! Not again!”)

All in all, maybe you’ll like what I have to say and take some life lessons from it; maybe you won’t. You might learn from my experiences and decide theater camp sounds terrifying and regret ever thinking it sounded like a good time. In the next nine chapters, you’ll find tales of heartbreak (hopefully you can learn from my mistakes), feminism and how important it is to us as a generation, family and what it means to us, and making sure anyone having a hard day knows other people have hard days too. Good luck. I hope you don’t cringe too much.




CHAPTER TWO

THE SOCIAL MEDIA TRAP

When I was a freshman in high school, I posted a photo of myself in a bikini on Instagram for the first time. I was in the old Jewish part of Florida with my mom and took a picture on the beach. The photo wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret model photo where I’m looking into the distance (and kind of looking like I’m in pain), or a photo of me lying in the sand in a sexy pose, somehow not getting sand in places where you don’t want sand. It was simply me, smiling on the beach while holding some ice cream, wearing a bikini top and high-waisted shorts. I posted it not realizing that it was a big deal—the women I’ve grown up looking at on social media do this all the time. (Which, by the way, isn’t a big deal at all. These women have every right to own their bodies.) So I posted the photo and then continued eating my delicious ice cream before it melted.

At that time, a popular website was ask.fm, where you could anonymously ask people questions. If you joined, you could set up your own profile where anyone (even if they didn’t have an ask.fm account) could anonymously send you questions. (A website bound for greatness!) In reality, all ask.fm provided was a forum for really mean messages and hate mail. But everyone who was anyone had an ask.fm. The link to mine was in my Instagram bio. And when I posted my bikini photo, people went crazy. I started receiving messages on ask.fm like, “You dumb f-ing whore” and “Do people lie to you and tell you you’re pretty?” This awful website started making me feel terrible about myself. My mom kept saying that I should delete my account, telling me the website wasn’t worth it. And that’s the thing with all social media: it can be terrible and our lives would be a lot less stressful without it.

But it isn’t as easy as simply deleting our Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram accounts. When you delete your accounts, you’re deleting your access to other people’s lives. You’re deleting the presentation you’ve invented of yourself online. People know my friends and me through our Instagram accounts. I flirt with the guys I like through Snapchat. I can find out what the homework assignment in math class is through Facebook. And I felt happy knowing someone took time out of their day to send me something on ask.fm. Even when it was a hateful message, my insecure freshman self secretly loved the drama and the mystery of not knowing who was sending me the message. I’ll admit it: social media is one of the most toxic and addicting things we have today. But people also get jobs off of social media and make themselves known on different apps, and practically everyone has some social media presence.

When I got those messages after I posted my bikini photo, I was too afraid to delete my account. What would people think? Would I be missing out on anything? Because that’s what social media does. Once it’s in your life, it’s so hard to take it out. You begin to fear what you’ll be missing if you delete your account. You have FOMO.

FOMO

FOMO is short for the “fear of missing out.” I think it’s one of the most crucial and real things that needs to be discussed with our generation, because it’s so present in our everyday lives. FOMO is the inability to delete Instagram because you know you’ll lose access to all the people you interact with through social media and their amazing lives. It’s feeling left out when you see a Snapchat story of all your friends hanging without you. It’s your need to go out on a Friday night so you won’t miss the chance to make another unimportant memory.

FOMO is the hardest thing to break free of. It’s a new form of anxiety that most teens like us have in one way or another. You can’t just get over your FOMO—you have to deal with it. So, when people on ask.fm are bullying you or Snapchat is making you feel like crap because you’re not at a wild party on a Friday night, it’s not as simple as just deleting the app. It’s so much more than that, because if you delete the app, you’re cutting off your access to everyone else’s lives. And once you’ve invested yourself in these apps and sites that give you an identity of your making, it is so much harder to get out. These social media sites and apps have a way of consuming our lives, of becoming the go-to when everyone is bored in a group and sitting in silence staring at their glowing phone screens. Or when an event is fun, everyone needs to take Snapchat stories of it so that they can show everyone who isn’t there how much fun they’re having—or, better yet, when they aren’t having any fun, but want people to think they are. It’s not that these apps are so amazing that they are keeping us hooked for any specific reason; but if everyone has something and you have access to the same thing they have, it makes you think you need it too. That’s what seems to be everyone’s opinion on social media: they hate it but can’t seem to escape it.

Now, almost every story I tell involves some form of social media. Maybe it’s something funny that happened on my mom’s OKCupid; maybe I accidently Snapchatted the wrong person and it was super embarrassing; maybe a friend posted this or that on Facebook; but regardless, everything involves social media now. Taking that away isn’t as simple as just “deleting the app.” Erasing any and all social media platforms could actually make your FOMO worse, because now you might be worrying even more about what others are doing because you have no access to what they’re up to.

In the middle of my junior year, I decided to do an experiment. I deleted my social media apps off my phone. I wanted to see how long I could go without social media and how it would make me feel. I lasted two days without my apps—and it was the most refreshing forty-eight hours of my life. I was on my phone less, I was more present in the moment, and I procrastinated a lot less on the things I needed to be doing. But, after two days, I got bored. I had nothing to do in moments of silence or inactivity. Was I supposed to read a book? Watch a movie? It felt unnatural to not be scrolling through my feed or going through someone’s Snapchat story. And that’s when I realized that social media was not just something I did for fun; rather, it had become a routine in my life. It had become a necessity.

If you walk past a group of teenagers out to lunch or in the park, I guarantee at least one of them is on his or her phone. If I go to a party or go out with some friends, there will always be Snapchat stories capturing the moment from someone’s phone. But thinking about this more seriously, I don’t actually believe anyone is proud to be doing these things. I think we all know that social media is addictive and can be a problem; yet, nobody can seem to get off it. We’re all so trapped in the idea that we need to know what everyone else is doing at every second that we can’t live in our own moment anymore—we don’t even know what the means in many cases. I have had way more meltdowns over what other people are doing than I should, and social media has absolutely contributed to that. Of course, when you are in high school, sometimes you care so much about what other people are doing that you barely remember to enjoy your own high school experience. I admit that I spend half my time on my phone looking at what other people are doing and freaking out about it, when I actually don’t even care that much. I just feel like I need

Genre:

  • "Generous, insightful, and funny, Karp is an excellent life coach for contemporary high-school students."—Booklist, -Booklist, (starred review)
  • "This book is filled with juicy young person wisdom."—Amy Poehler
  • "My sixteen-year-old self beamed in retroactive solidarity reading Ruby Karp's hilarious and insightful Earth Hates Me."—Natasha Lyonne, actress
  • "Ruby is one of the most intelligent, observant, and daring teens I've ever met. Knowing young women like her exist gives me hope for the future."—Sasheer Zamata, actress and comedian
  • "I hate Ruby Karp because at 16 she is more emotionally in touch, grounded, and funnier than I am as a full grown adult."—Paul Scheer, actor and comedian
  • "Karp's conversational narrative is positive, direct, and embedded with a confidence that will appeal to like-minded youth. A thoughtful blend of encouragement and entertaining personal stories."—-Kirkus Reviews
  • "Ruby's book was adorable, cute and very relatable."
    -Lola Tash and Nicole Argiris, My Therapist Says

On Sale
Oct 3, 2017
Page Count
288 pages
Publisher
Running Press Kids
ISBN-13
9780762462605

Ruby Karp

About the Author

Ruby Karp, a sixteen-year-old feminist, comedian, and journalist, has spoken about feminism on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party and at TEDx. She hosts a monthly stand-up show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and has written for HelloGiggles, Mashable, and other publications. Currently, she’s trying to make sense of calculus at high school in NYC.

Learn more about this author