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Just who is this Mimi Smartypants, anyway?
She's 30 (but looks younger), 5'1" (but looks taler). She's never faced a situation she couldn't comment about -- especialy online! She lives in Chicago with her husband, LT, and her large cat, The Cat -- not to be confused with Kat (female friend, good for fashion advice, philosophical discussions, and getting into trouble in bars). She's never had a cavity and likes to look in other people's medicine cabinets. She's witty, urbane, ...
Just who is this Mimi Smartypants, anyway?
She's 30 (but looks younger), 5'1" (but looks taler). She's never faced a situation she couldn't comment about -- especialy online! She lives in Chicago with her husband, LT, and her large cat, The Cat -- not to be confused with Kat (female friend, good for fashion advice, philosophical discussions, and getting into trouble in bars). She's never had a cavity and likes to look in other people's medicine cabinets. She's witty, urbane, outrageous, an international sensation; she's got a unique, smartypants take on ordinary life and its rampant surreality. And absolutely nothing is sacred or taboo -- not men, marriage, beer, religion, sex, marital aids, or motherhood.
Get ready world -- because Mimi's going to explain it all to you!
How do you start something like this? There is a huge temptation to get all Holden Caufield and reject the notion of autobiographical beginnings while simultaneously and sneakily giving an autobiographical beginning. Or we could be flirtatiously postmodern and talk about the book you are right now holding in your hands, book qua book—no, that's horrible. The most literary and novelistic thing would be to have some witty and revealing Prepackaged Character Sketch all at the ready, so you could tell within a few pithy sentences just what sort of narrator you will be dealing with here. I seem to be fresh out of those, however.
I don't even know precisely what "this" is. All I know is that once I turned thirty it seemed that I no longer knew what the rules were, was no longer sure of my attitudes toward anything, and no longer felt as if I had all the time in the world to decide how to live. Not to worry, this is not going to be some standard landing-a-man, starring-Meg-Ryan, dumb-ass romance story (I am married). Nor will it be plucky-career-girl-climbs-to-the-top (I am not at the top, exactly, but I am gainfully employed in the publishing field). I turned thirty, and I started keeping a diary. Not some sort of every-single-day "Dear Diary" thing, but just a way to capture this odd time in my life, when I am unequivocally an adult but not quite feeling like one. When I own a home and have a pension plan, but I still go out to punk rock shows and, through some primeval instinct held over from the student days, drink too much of the cheapest possible beer. When I have a job that I love, that pays me well and promotes me often, but I still break out in a rash when people refer to it a "career." I wrote this diary on my morning commute, as the El train rattled past the tired faces of Chicago buildings, all the fire escapes like crooked teeth. I wrote it at work, when I was supposed to be working. Sometimes I wrote it at home, after much wine-with-dinner. If you are hopelessly nosy and curious like I am, you might want to read it.
Definitely the most adult thing my husband LT and I have done yet was buying our condo. Getting married was a piece of cake compared with all the frightening mortgage-speak, the signing on the dotted line, and the vague freaked-out feeling that ohmygod I don't even know what I am doing next week, and I just took out a thirty-year loan? I am very happy in the new place, not least because the old one was so very small. I don't care how much in love you are with your spouse, there are going to be those moments when you think, My god, you are always here.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY NEIGHBORHOOD
There are these benches, at least one on every block and sometimes more, that exist solely as parking places for old people. In nice weather each bench is overflowing with the elderly, and those who did not get there early enough to snag bench space sometimes bring milk crates or lawn chairs or other auxiliary hanging-out equipment. The benches are not segregated by ethnicity but by gender, alternating babushkas and stooped-over old men (sometimes with chessboards). I also should point out that these are not bus stops, they are not in green park-type areas but right up against the street, and no other neighborhood in Chicago, to my knowledge, has these no-purpose benches. It is specific to Devon Avenue.
I can walk to amazing Indian food, wonderful sushi, and a twenty-four-hour diner. Down the street there is an Uzbekistani restaurant. The urge for Uzbek food has not yet struck, partially because I have no idea what Uzbeks eat, but there it is. There are also lots of kosher bakeries, which make the whole neighborhood smell like cinnamon sugar. Mmmmm.
Speaking of cinnamon, there is a synagogue less than a block from me that has a spiral-shaped roof. I think the builders meant for it to look like a Torah scroll, but to me it looks like a giant cinnamon bun, so I call it the Cinnamon-a-Gogue, which is very fun to say and makes me happy. Also, the end of my street features a giant light-up menorah, making it incredibly easy to give directions ("turn left at the giant menorah").
Watching the teenage Orthodox boys, in their black hats and suits, give each other soul-brother handshakes when they meet on the street.
The store called Islamic Books and Things, which is right next to a Russian bookstore, which is right next to a kosher bakery, which is right next to a Pakistani butcher shop, which is right next to an Indian candy store.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE SO MUCH ABOUT MY NEIGHBORHOOD
It is filthy. Much filthier than the rest of Chicago. Our streets are rarely cleaned and there is a lot of garbage and debris on the sidewalks.
The drugstore a few blocks away, which is a special circle of hell Dante must have forgotten to mention. Never think you are going to pop into this drugstore for "a few things" because you will be there the rest of your life. I know you think I'm exaggerating, but trust me.
The #155 bus does not run twenty-four hours, although it definitely should.
An overabundance of small children, especially in the summer. They like to play this game called "Run Around and Scream a Lot." I think they are really into historical reenactments, only instead of the usual Civil War battles, they focus on free-for-alls like the Attica prison uprising or the Watts riots.
I don't drive, so this doesn't really affect me much, but traffic on Devon is atrocious, particularly on the weekends.
Excerpted from The World According to Mimi Smartypants by Mimi Smartypants Copyright © 2006 by Mimi Smartypants. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted December 9, 2008
She is license-less so she rides the train in her morning Chicago commute. Thirty year old Mimi Smartypants decides to keep a journal of her thoughts on any topic. Mimi might type on her web blog a tirade about her family or friends, especially those Y carriers, raves on the latest punk rock group, or just how well her pension plan and other investments are doing. Nothing is sacred to Mimi except perhaps Browned Eyed Girl Van Morrison at least before he became famous. Mimi Smartypants sees the world from her 5¿1 towering height as medicine chests worth exploring or her take on home décor (aside to Mimi: try being a book reviewer ¿ worse on the home than rugrats or terriers). --- Ms. Smartypants amusing reflections on life are fun to follow (easier to read in book form when riding the C-TRAN than using a computer on the Clayton County public bus system) as she pulls no punches when she knocks an icon down, but does so with humor. Readers will be amused by her observations and those who want more can do so at her bloggering site Smartypants.Diaryland.com which is filled with droll musings on the world according to Mimi Smartypants. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.