Monday, August 1, 2016

DIY not let yourself be charmed by a makeshift bride? Something New, by Lucy Knisley
Something New: tales of a makeshift bride
Lucy Knisley
First Second, 2016
ISBN: 9781626722491

Legend tells of a time in the lives of those of a certain age in all the lands of the worlds (all of them). I imagine that age, location, and customs are society specific, but I also imagine that all of us who choose a life outside of hermitage encounter and experience what I’ve taken to calling “the Bubble.” Specifically, TheWeddingBubble.  In meteorology and virology I believe this is called a cluster event, except hopefully in the case of TheWeddingBubble, there’s at least 75% less tornadoes and norovirus (actually maybe 100%, really).  It’s not necessarily a one time event either - like seltzer or champagne (this is about a wedding book, after all!), one can have many bubbles.  

For me, this is a TheWeddingBubble year.  I have five wedding between April and October, and friends, I am single.  These are all my people.  I’m hoping this is working out for the budgets of my friends, but oh brother, is this putting the hurt on my own budget.  It makes it sometimes hard to feel the warm fuzzies usually associated with the celebration of love when you consult your credit card statement and realize that with what you have spent on clothes, bachelorettes, bridal showers, beautification, transportation, hotels, and yes, gifts, you could have bought your own self the gift of a brand new laptop, or made a sizeable dent in your own freedom fund (aka those pesky student, car, and other loans, retirement funds, future home savings, rent bills etc. that just don’t seem to pay themselves).  That does not include time, which is certainly also a finite resource, or the guilt you feel for saying no to any part beyond the actual wedding day; both expectation and disappointment can chafe, for all parties. Our American (and maybe Western) cultural expectation of more more more for weddings is as stressful as it is celebratory.  

As I’m entering in yet another credit card number, the cynical economist who took up shop in my brain when I turned 30  (is this just me?) sometimes likes to nastily channel my deep fears and whisper: “but will you ever see a ROI?” We’ll call that hateful punk the Grinch.  The Grinch lives a cynical existence, and often runs on a hamster wheel in my brain, generally at ungodly hours.  I’m not a huge fan. The Grinch, however, exists in direct opposition to another side of me whose heart becomes so full at the weddings of beloved friends and family that she has cried, secretly or publicly, at all of them, and not just because my people like their weddings wet (you know what kind).  Let’s call her Moaning Myrtle. Myrtle is so deeply happy to see her dear friends happy.  She is honored and thrilled to be included in the revelling, because it’s an outward expression of the, love, joy and excitement she feels on the inside: a bit like a soda you shook before opening.  Myrtle is so happy she needs to lock herself in the bathroom stall and cry for a few minutes about how wonderful this all is, you guys.  It’s beauuuutiful!  

The Grinch, Myrtle and I have spent the year in a dance off that I imagine might resemble this contemporary version of the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker.  We are joyful, and so we dance. We love weddings! We love our friends! We also like to pay our own bills and have some vacation time we select for ourselves!  So we squat and jig at each other, a bit aggressively, at ungodly hours (that damn hamster wheel), spinning and dancing  around each other for dominion of my brain.  

All of that exposition is to say that we three were very excited to learn about Lucy Knisley’s newest graphic novel, Something New.  A person against the excess of wedding culture? The Grinch perked up.  A charming love story?  Myrtle peeked out.  Lucy Knisley as the author?  I was in, and we all agreed we needed to read this book.  If you’ve read Knisley’s Relish, you’ll recall how welcoming, engaging, and delicious both her personality and her art are.  If you haven’t, I’m assigning it to you for extra credit!  Knisley is youthful, approachably quirky and nerdy in her narration and references, and is the kind of author you imagine might be fun to get a beer with.  Something New does not disappoint, even if you’re the Grinch.  Myrtle was audibly into this, moaning from her stall throughout. The Grinch was pretty content to rage against the man with Knisley, and I was delighted by all of it.  

This work is the story of Knisley piecing together her own wedding, a very DIY affair.  She not only points out the expectations of a bride and how difference the experience is for men and women involved in wedding planning, but gently and firmly asserts some feminist points.  As with Relish, as she narrates she gives ample tips (and a few recipes, either for crafts or treats!).  Her handy guide to whether or not you should accept a wedding invitation is one I want a copy of, and her dress safari and theme wedding guide are things I want to give to all my lady friends currently planning weddings and in need of a laugh.  She had my heart in her ink-stained fingers when she defined, described, and gave a detailed recipe for poutine, nectar of the (Canadian) gods. Yes and please, I would like to eat that any day, but especially at a wedding!

In short, we all three needed to read this book.  Myrtle needed a good moan, I love Knisley’s style and was craving a good read, and the Grinch...the Grinch experienced some positive feels.  You could say our heart grew three sizes, which is generally about the point Myrtle loses it, but importantly it burst our TheWeddingBubble blues for a bit and reminded us what’s at the heart of all this.  Sure, he’s still there and probably will resurface next time I look at my credit card despairingly and wish the cost could just be my earnest feels, but Knisley talked him down a bit, and reminded him about the important things, like the rarity of these moments, how delicious they are (and poutine is), and how special they can be and honored I feel to witness them. I thoroughly recommend it to all the ladies (and gentlefellows brave enough to wave it around): those young, old, gay, straight, blushing brides, bridezillas, newlyweds, perennial bridesmaids, mothers of the ___, officiants, sisters, photographers, caterers, hairdressers, humans who do weddings.  It is quick, it is charming, and it is your next summer reading assignment, especially for those of you who have never read a graphic novel! But for the record, the Grinch, Myrtle and I all agree on the following. Traditional women of another generation: nobody wants to watch a grown woman feign excitement over hand towels. Let's cool it on the showering, okay?

PS.  If there are any editors or authors named Lucy Knisley who read this, I will jump at the chance to read an entire book of Knisley’s renditions of her bridesmaid Nelly’s movie-plot descriptions.

1 comment:

best dissertation said...

A fun to read story. A different genre then that of I usually reads but its good for a change and I m glad I tried this. Keep sharing more of such stories

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