About the Book

YNPE contains 14-true stories about growing up girl. That’s an intentional double entendre. In one way, the stories are about the universal experiences girls have, but with unique twists.

For example, we’ve all gotten the sex talk. But in my case, I got it as a four-year-old. My Mom, being a hippie and a feminist, felt obliged to show me diagrams of reproductive organs and procedures, which inspired me to lock myself in my room for hours to produce a series of subversive, strangely sweet pornographic pictures known in my family as “The Sex Papers.” Many of us have/had massive crushes on celebrities. I fell head over heels in love with Jon Bon Jovi when I was a teenager. I swore off dating for a year and discovered that once I set my mind to something I am so tunnel vision I will literally almost die pursuing it. Turns out, that’s not such a bad thing. Because before I turned 17, I was backstage at his concert, waiting for Jon to join me.

But these are also stories about growing up, girl. Life can be a real shit show sometimes. In college, I escaped (mostly) unharmed from a random, violent sexual assault and pressed charges. My attacker was a fellow student (a stranger to me) who then became a key suspect in two unsolved rape cases. The other victims did not feel comfortable coming forward, so it was my case alone that went to the courts. My attacker plea-bargained down from a felony to a misdemeanor in exchange for probation, counseling and expulsion. Six-months later a female student was murdered and the case was unsolved. Two days later, my attacker showed up at the university office where I working early in the morning, alone.

At 23, I married my college sweetheart and divorced him at 26 after he had an affair. Before I had proof, when I confronted him with his behavior – coming home late, withdrawing affection, making me feel like I was crazy – he said, “I don’t know Jen! Sometimes I think you’re just not pretty enough for me!” Souring relationships and affairs happen every day. What doesn’t happen every day? The wife and the girlfriend meeting at a bar, getting drunk, discovering we liked each other and then setting off to confront him that same night.

The ramifications of not processing those emotions at first led to self-destructive, indulgent behavior. But ultimately I discovered that I had the power to become who I wanted to be. Stop pretending all your stupid bullshit is holding you back, I finally said to myself. You are holding yourself back. Sure, it took a fictional character on the big screen and witnessing an adult daughter calling her mother a retard at Arlington Cemetery to make me realize that, but I take my lessons where I can get them.