Stephanie Klein, Straight Up and Dirty
Stephanie Klein has gotten so much attention from her popular blog Greek Tragedy, that publishing powerhouse, Judith Regan offered her a book deal. The result is a memoir with a fabulous title, Straight Up and Dirty. It is raw and honest. Nothing is off limits from bikini waxes to sex talk.
The book swings back and forth from present day to past when Stephanie was in a marriage that wasn't happily ever after. She has legions of fans eagerly reading her innermost thoughts both online and in book form.
What is your most painful childhood memory?
Well there was the time I broke my nose in the fourth grade which involved going to the hospital, so it seems it should be right up there with painful childhood memories, but the truth of it is, what hurt me most was being called "MOOSE" by the older boys when I was overweight in eighth grade. I came home after school crying one day, and when I confided in my father, instead of hugging me and telling me I was beautiful no matter what, he actually laughed. When I recount this memory to him now, he responds, "what, it was a funny name." It was tragic.
What has shaped you most to become the woman you are today?
Cheese doodles. Definitely. Oh, what else? I don't think it comes down to a moment as much as it comes down to the people in our lives, namely our parents. My father is my best friend and always encouraged me to be honest at all costs, and I think that shows up in my living, and certainly in my writing.
How did you meet "The Suitor" and what made him different than any other man? How did you know you were in love with him?
I met him online. I had an ad up on nerve.com, linking to my blog (www.stephanieklein.com). He found my list of hundreds of things about me and emailed me clever responses to many of the items. I eventually agreed to meet him in person, though I really wasn't ready for a relationship. So we spent a lot of time together as friend boy and friend girl, until one day I declared, "Okay, I'm now ready to date you." To which he rolled his eyes and replied, "We've been dating for months, Stephanie."
I knew I was in love with him in a specific moment. I climbed into bed with him one night, turned to him, and said, "this feels like home." And I didn't mean it in some cheeseass way. I meant being with him reminded me of the comfort I felt growing up, slipping into bed between my parents, rubbing my mother's feet with Kerri lotion.
In a moment, beside The Suitor, I felt my childhood, the comfort of being with someone without having to do anything.
In hindsight, do you think you could have worked things out withGabe? If you could go back in time, would you undo your marriage to him or was that experience something that helped you grow as a person?
I love the "if" game; I really do. Especially when time travel is possible. We're all tempted to rewind and undo, and when we're going through it, we want time to fast forward, so we can awake over it. Bottom line, when we're in pain, we do the most growing. We leave our comfort zone and are forced to stretch.
I regret how long I stayed, but I don't regret going there at all. If we didn't make mistakes, we wouldn't learn how to make things right. As for working things out with Gabe, the answer is still no. It takes two people to make a relationship work, not one person and a nightmare of a mother-in-law. He wasn't willing to work on anything more than his golf swing, and that's no way to be a martyr.
What is the biggest lesson you learned over the past few years?
That you're not a failure just because a relationship doesn't work out. I've been in relationships before where I've actually heard myself confide in a friend, "Would I still be okay if it were just me again? People kind of expect us, but would I be a failure if it didn't work?" Holy shit. I know so many of us think it, feel it, worry about it. And it's fucked up. You're not a failure when a relationship ends, the same way you weren't a success when it began. I measured my worth, for way too long, on the merits of a romantic relationship, instead of valuing myself based on my female friendships, or the stuff that puts the "self" in self-esteem.
One of the things I like most about your blog is the photographs you take. How did you get started in photography, do you know your way around a darkroom? I was always intimidated by the art of photography because of the idea of a darkroom and chemicals and pans.
I was working in advertising full-time, responsible for choosing artwork for my clients. I was drawn to photography after combing through so many portfolios, so I began to take classes at night. I began with film photography, and color transparencies (slides) and yes, learned how to use a darkroom, but given that I worked as an interactive art director, I became impatient, so I eventually switched to a digital SLR. I was already comfortable using the digital darkroom that is Photoshop, given that I was a web designer, so it was a natural transition.
What are five words you would use to describe yourself?
Honest. Passionate. Brassy. Foodie. Vulnerable.
What would I find you doing on a typical Friday night?
It depends which state I'm in, not just state of mind, actual US state. I'm between Austin and New York a lot, so that changes what I'm up to. In Austin, I suspect you'd find me lakeside, eating a burger on a picnic table, listening to live local music. That or movie hopping like it's my job.
In New York, I'd be having a girl dinner at a lounge, tasting tapas, sipping champagne. Going home hungry and ordering in a burger.
Did you hope to inspire others when you began the blog? With the success of the memoir, will you continue it?
I didn't have any hope when I began the blog other than trying to makemyself happy. I began the blog because of a break-up, and I realized all that energy I'd been putting into dating and into men wasn't working out so great. So I made a New Year's resolution to write daily because writing always made me happy. It's one of those activities where I don't notice the time passing.
As time went on, and I realized people were actually reading it, my tone might have changed every now and then, but at the end of the day, I keep the blog for me, as a tool, as my gym. It's "throat clearing" for me, the writing I do to get to something else. So I imagine the blog will absolutely continue, since it has very little to do with the fact that I'm a writer. It has to do with living.
There are millions of blogs out there in cyberspace, what do you think makes yours so relatable and popular?
Luck certainly has something to do with it. But I think people stay once they stumble upon it because I'm just honest. I write about my insecurities, the things we all worry about. Rejection. Jealousy. Self-esteem issues. My obsession with food. It's not just my anecdotal humor or observational prose; I write about what touches me, which in turn drives people to think and react, even if they disagree.