Permission to wander

‘Little Weirds’ by Jenny Slate

3 minute read
A perfect breakfast routine. (Photo by Christina Anthony.)
A perfect breakfast routine. (Photo by Christina Anthony.)

With the COVID era’s slower morning routine, my eternal goal of starting each day with a cup of homemade chai and a book is finally attainable. One of my recent favorites is actor, comedian, and writer Jenny Slate’s book, Little Weirds. Published in November 2019, the memoir-in-essays includes brief one-page musings as well as longer stories covering all of the “little weirds” that live in Slate’s mind.

Intention, clarity, and heart

After following Slate’s multifaceted career for many years, I know her relatability isn’t a façade. Both her spoken and written words always seem beautifully crafted, as if she’s formed a habit of speaking with intention, clarity, and heart. Wonderfully vulnerable in her honesty, Slate covers topics of friendship, self-love, divorce, freedom, and just being a total weirdo.

Reading Little Weirds feels like taking a stroll down a beautiful path lined with her colorful, warm, and sweet aesthetic. Slate’s essays are a deep dive into her vivid imagination, indulging in the parts of herself that are distinct, alive, and demanding to be freed. She gives herself permission to let her mind wander, leaving me—a comic and writer juggling five jobs and hustling on the scene— craving a better balance of productivity and indulgence.

New daydreams

Particularly enchanting is the essay "Daydreams/Tides," a story about losing love, desiring love, and realizing that chasing love will not always serve her. I was so moved reading this essay that I needed to reread it out loud to myself so I could hear her carefully strung-together words and not constrict them to the page. Slate doesn’t deny herself dreams of romantic love, but following her divorce, she understands “the structure of what I wish for and the images that usually come together for me to be happy have to change now.” Her daydreams beautifully dissect the significance of romance with lovers and romance with your own self.

Little Weirds is tender and forgiving, almost like talking to a close friend full of compassion. While vulnerability can sometimes be viewed as weakness, Slate embraces the corners of her thoughts and feelings that are soaked with pain. Her essays and stories are feminist and empowering in their nature, urging women to combat toxic masculinity and seek safe spaces to place their love.

I am enough

Reading her book reminds me of personal moments of self-doubt: all the times I came out on the other side with wounds and scars, but reborn and re-energized. In 2016, I decided to leave San Francisco, my comfort zone and home of eight years, to move cross-country to Philly. I didn’t have a job or know anyone here, but I always believed in my ability to float instead of sink. Before moving, I backpacked solo through Southeast Asia for two months—a spontaneous, challenging, liberating, gratifying trip. Traveling abroad always serves as a detox and reset for me, breaking up whatever monotonous routine I was living. Reading Little Weirds felt like a mini-vacation, a reset and reminder of the beauty in new beginnings.

When I returned to the US, I had shed old skin and was back in touch with my spirit. I distinctly remember my first week back, looking at my reflection and staring intently into my own eyes, before saying out loud, “You are enough.” I cried grateful tears knowing the love and care I can give myself. That feeling of self-love and self-awareness is spread on every page of Little Weirds. Slate is chasing a feeling, processing pain, and looking toward the future with bright eyes. She’s unafraid of encountering darkness because she believes in her light and knows it will lead her through.

What, When, Where

Little Weirds. By Jenny Slate. New York: Hatchette Book Group, November 5, 2019. 224 pages, hardcover; $24.30. Get it here.

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