Along with a very recent Sia haircut, Lena Dunham has debuted a hefty excerpt from her forthcoming memoir in this week’s New Yorker called “Difficult Girl,” in which she recounts having to go to child therapy, college friendship, being both prohibitively anxious and sex-obsessed, and the fact that she once had really amazing screen name.
Not That Kind of Girl won’t hit shelves until September 30, but here are a few choice excerpts to hold you over ’til then:
The opening paragraph:
I am eight, and I am afraid of everything. The list of things that keep me up at night includes but is not limited to: appendicitis, typhoid, leprosy, unclean meat, foods I haven’t seen emerge from their packaging, foods my mother hasn’t tasted first so that if we die we die together, homeless people, headaches, rape, kidnapping, milk, the subway, sleep.
On sex-obsession and anxiety:
The work we’re doing together helps, but even three mornings a week isn’t enough to stop the terrible thoughts, the fear of sleep and of life in general. Sometimes, to manage the images that come unbidden, I force myself to picture my parents copulating in intricate patterns, summoning the image in sets of eight, for so long that looking at them makes me nauseated.
“Mom,” I say. “Turn away from me so I won’t think of sex.”
On meeting her later years–BFF as a child, Audrey Gelman and the screen name to end all screen names:
What happens over the next few months is like the plot of a children’s movie, the kind where a dog finds its owner in spite of insurmountable odds and prohibitive geography. Through shrewd detective work, Audrey discovers that her camp friend Sarah is my school friend Sarah, and begins passing me notes. They are fat envelopes, decorated with puff paint and star stickers. Inside the first one is a letter, in the kind of fun teen scrawl they use in “Saved by the Bell”: “HEY YOU SEEM AWESOME! I bet we’d get along. My mom says we would if we could meet. I love shopping, the Felicity soundtrack, oh, and shopping. Here’s a pic of me at the Wailing Wall after my Bat Mitzvah! INSTANT MESSAGE MEEEE.”
I write back an equally effusive note, laboring over which picture to share, before finally settling on a shot of me lounging on my sister’s bunk bed in a vintage crop top that reads “Super Debbie.” “I also luuuv the Felicity soundtrack, animals, acting, and DUH SHOPPING! My screen name is LAFEMMELENA.”
We bond immediately, more over what we hate than what we love. We both hate lox. We both hate boys in cargo pants. We’re both sick of kids from Long Island saying they’re from New York. We spend the first few weeks of the school year riding our new red bicycles around town in impractical shoes and too much lipstick, unwilling to let go of the idea that city girls do it differently. We can barely hold in our peals of laughter when a boy named Zenith arrives at a party in a shirt that says “P is for Playa.” We set our sights on senior boys who run ironic literary magazines and we try to avoid using the bathroom next to anybody but each other.
On a recent vacation, I call her from the Arizona desert, wearing only my underwear, baking my flesh by a plunge pool. I spend the majority of our session telling her about the furniture shopping my boyfriend and I have done that morning. Our first time making real aesthetic choices as a couple, we successfully selected a coffee table, two bronze deer, and a pair of torn leatherette barstools. Unable to resist, I threw a Cubist ceramic cat into the mix.
“I really feel like we have similar taste!” I gush, ignoring how unsure she sounds about the addition of kitschy metal animals to a living room.
Read the whole thing here, (but it’s a bit long, so if you’re currently “working,” we recommend you only read the far more interesting first half) .
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa.