Mara Wilson Writes Stuff

Hi. My name is Mara. Sometimes I write stuff.

What No One Ever Tells You About Being Mildly Famous

I woke up this morning feeling sick to my stomach. Usually when I’m feeling ill I like to rest up and imagine my white blood cells as tiny warriors in the most just war ever. (“Fight on, little guys.”) But today that wasn’t enough, and after many failed attempts at keeping food down, I ended up at the ER.

I’m completely fine now: I was set up on an IV and after some rest, felt much better. One of the nurses said they’ve been seeing a lot of twenty-four hour stomach viruses. But to make sure that’s what caused it, I was given a couple of blood tests. So I was lying in the hospital bed, in a gown and pajama pants, my face pale (and on any given day when healthy, I am paler than a friend of mine who was once mistaken for having albinism) and my hair tangled, when my phlebotomist said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like the girl in that Christmas movie?”

Let this henceforce be known as Mara’s First Law: If you ever become mildly famous, you will only ever be recognized when you are looking and/or feeling terrible. 

Armond White Reviews an Elementary School Holiday Pageant

Note: I, not Armond White, wrote this about a year ago. In real life, I share almost none of this man’s opinions (though Google has informed me that we both love Motown and Scott Pilgrim Versus The World.) Additionally, a friend recently pointed out that this was reminiscent of the story Front Row With Thaddeus Bristol. While I adore David Sedaris, I don’t recall ever reading that particular story (I believe it’s in Holidays On Ice, which I don’t own), and any similarities are completely unintentional. Sometimes two different people just have a similar idea.

 

HOLIDAY ABOMINATION

A REVIEW OF P.S. 134’s “HOLIDAY CELEBRATION”

BY ARMOND WHITE

There is only one conclusion that can be made after viewing P.S. 134’s so blandly titled “Holiday Celebration”: Lamentable as it is, I must contest that the nihilism rampant in this paradigm has “trickled down” into the deepest recesses of our elementary schools in a manner that would incite the late Ronald Reagan (a petty fascist, despite an excellent turn in the extraordinary Bedtime for Bonzo) who foolishly and cruelly insisted the spendthrift bourgeoisie’s capricious consumerism would ultimately benefit the proletariat, to writhe in ecstasy.

I was assaulted from the moment I walked into P.S. 134’s grounds. The sickeningly pastel posters, most likely recycled from last March’s vomit-inducing Spring Celebration, boasted of the PTA’s Bake Sale flanking the auditorium. Others may cower at the thought of excoriating a supposedly benign association, but I will fearlessly and proudly proclaim that I detest the PTA. The naïve sanguinity that we can effect change by the acquisition of sugared consumptions is reminiscent of the most defeating kind of Menshevik thought. How this antediluvian so-called organization is allowed to continue their fetid pimping of diabetes-inducing, non-refreshing “refreshments” is a testament to the indolence and complacency of liberal thought in today’s education system.

Would that the onslaught ended at the entrance. The most disgusting offense of the night was undoubtedly Mrs. Foster’s second grade class’ presentation of a song dubiously titled “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” Here we have it: the sophomoric embracement of nihilistic values already underway, a veritable basking in the decay of morality, like swine undulating in their own filth. I bravely stood up to insist that the commemoration of an extramarital osculation is verily the anti-apotheosis of Christmas, but was repeatedly interrupted by one of the swinish, bowl-cutted matrons overseeing the slaughter, “please sit down, sir,” “sir, the children are trying to sing,” and “sir, you’re making a scene.” And we wonder why the youngest generation is running wild on the internet! (More accurately, others wonder. I have always known.)

Nearly as offensive was Mr. Costello’s third grade class. While other critics (e.g., Carla Lopez at the P.S. 134 Tiger Times, Roger Ebert) would so ostentatiously and obsequiously lap up the metaphorical cream set out for them by the Christmas industrial complex, I, as a solitary beam of righteousness and clarity, must aver that there was never anything “famous” or remarkable about Rudolph. I suppose someone, perhaps Mr. Costello or her thoughtless peers, thought Jennifer Thompson’s overfetchingly vociferated additions of “like a nightlight!” and “like Columbus!” were “cute.” I maintain that they are the vocal equivalent of pouring salt into an open wound. Her addition that Rudolph will go down in history, “like Columbus” may have been prescient, however: Columbus’ genocidal conquest has much in common with Rudolph’s commercialized trampling of the true spirit of the Nativity.

Ms. Gupta’s fifth grade class attempted to forgo the saccharined, excrementous commercialization with a secular carol, but I am afraid their endeavor was no less odious. “Let It Snow?” When so many die of hypothermia? It need not matter, however: the singers have a “fire” that is “so delightful,” and their love to keep them warm (a scandalous image to implant in the minds of children,) and thus the suffering of others matters not. White bourgeois privilege strikes again! I took it upon myself to confront Ms. Gupta about her selection, yet her response was “it’s all in fun.” Fun. Once again, I find I must congratulate myself on being the only human alive aware of the Manichaean struggle between commercialism and quality.

By far the only presentation of quality jocundity to be witnessed is Ms. Jefferson’s Kindergarten’s class. The towheaded Christine Lister’s extension of her most diminutive finger into her nasal cavity as the music swelled was topped only by Roland Martin’s choice, in a moment of meta-theatricality, to urinate onstage, subsequent to his repeated cries of “Potty” and “Mommy, I have to go potty” were utterly piquant in the night’s otherwise alternatingly hebetudinous and abhorrent mélange. Martin’s candor and taste for spectacle (not to mention the teal and orange color scheme of his apparel) brings to mind a young Michael Bay, and I wish him the best in shaking the foundations of the bourgeoisie.

An Open Letter to Adele

Disclaimer: I wrote this about a month ago, before I had seen the frighteningly accurate SNL sketch. (In fact, it premiered a few hours after I wrote this.) And yes, I know that Adele herself does not control how often her song is played. Have you ever noticed how perfectly your tongue fits into your cheek? 

Dear Adele,

I want to congratulate you on the success of your single “Someone Like You.” I am sure by now you know how popular it is, but I thought you might like to know that I heard it on the radio no less than six times yesterday. This is even more impressive considering you live and work in London and I live and work in New York City’s outer boroughs. You are an international success, and I believe it is well-deserved.

All this considered, I have one request: please move on. For your sake, for my sake, for the sake of women* everywhere, please move on with your life already.

You have managed to capture the feeling of utter hopelessness perfectly. It has been said, by the late Bleeding Gums Murphy, that “Jazz isn’t about making yourself feel better; it’s about making other people feel worse – and making a few bucks while you’re at it!” And you have done so. But there are songs that express sadness, and there are songs that drown you in it. I don’t know if I, or anyone else who has had their heart broken (i.e., almost everyone) can take it much longer.

I should mention that I have only recently heard of you. While my own musical taste is eclectic, it is not based on what I hear on the radio. This is not because I am too pretentious to listen to the radio, but because I do not actually own one. I’ve always been a few years off: I was the only twelve-year-old I knew who eschewed boy bands in favor of They Might Be Giants. I could blame it on my three older brothers, but I think the truth is that I was born forty years old. Ironically, I know a lot more about contemporary music now that I’m a little older (sixty-four, counting my age at birth) because I work with children and teenagers. One of my jobs is with a fantastic nonprofit program that works with at-risk youth to revitalize New York City public schools. It can be hard work, but nothing motivates teenagers more than music. The kind of music matters: it has to appeal to the students, and it needs to be upbeat.** Thus, we usually listen to R&B or top forty stations, and yesterday, your song was dominating both. Every time it played, I was reminded of my own misery, and worse, my own embarassingly desperate behavior after each and every break-up, going back to the time I was fifteen and dumped by the kid who played the little brother in Halloweentown.*** Eventually, every time I heard those four familiar piano chords, I would manually change the station.

I had to remind myself that things could be worse: your song has replaced Katy Perry’s “E.T.” as the standard song every top forty station is obliged to play every twenty minutes. You are clearly more talented than Katy Perry, whose lyrics are about as deep as a wading pool, and it is refreshing that you do not need to resort to autotune or pseudoscientific terminology**** or faux lesbianism***** to further your career. But I had to ask myself, what makes a young woman write such a mournful tune? I went home and looked up the story of the song, and was dismayed for a few reasons. First, you are younger than I am, and my knee-jerk response as a naturally maternal person is to be concerned when someone younger than I am experiences pain (I imagine this will become a problem as I grow older.) Second, your ex-boyfriend does not sound like a prize catch. In my experience, someone who jumps into a new relationship directly after a break-up is rarely stable, and he seems to have jumped into an engagement. That cannot be healthy. But neither can “turn[ing] up out of the blue, uninvited.” You’re a beautiful, young, talented, woman — and you’re also dominating the world with your music. You’re better than that.

A few years ago I was in a long-term relationship with my first love. I thought that we would be the one couple out of a million who “made it”: that is to say, met when they were young, dated through college, and subsequently got married. We were not, and we did not. I was devastated. But wondrously, when I think of him now, between the pleasant memories and the indignation, what I most feel is an overwhelming feeling of relief. I am glad every day that I did not marry him. You, too, will come to realize that your ex had faults and differences that would have ultimately made you incompatible. There is something beautiful and poetic in loss, but there is also something beautiful and powerful in moving on.

Adele, I promise, one day you will realize you don’t WANT to find someone like him.

Sincerely,

Mara Wilson

 

*Actually, for the sake of anyone, regardless of gender.

**I learned this first-hand after attempting to build a set while someone put on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. It’s a beautiful album, maybe even one of my favorites, but not something that gets you working. Crying into your pillow and hoping that someday Brian Wilson finds the prescription drug cocktail or behavior therapist that can help him recover, sure; working, no.

***Do you know who that is? Yeah, fortunately, no one else does, either.

****The word “natural” means everything that exists in the natural universe; nothing can be outside of it. Therefore, the term “supernatural [sic]” is a misnomer, and the description of extraterrestrials as “supernatural [sic]” is doubly incorrect. But I digress, and by now I am sure this is not very interesting to you. If it is, let me know, because then we could be friends.

*****Have you ever heard of Jill Sobule? She’s a terrific singer/songwriter who wrote a song titled “I Kissed A Girl” thirteen years before Katy Hudson decided she wanted to ditch her Christian rock roots, piss off her parents, and appeal to the lowest common denominator. It’s simple and heartfelt. She’s written a lot of other hilarious and beautiful songs. She’s a singer/songwriter to know.

******Apologies for the excessive footnotes. I blame compulsive adolescent re-readings of Good Omens.

For the record…

Yes, I am THAT Mara Wilson. Unless you are thinking of one of the many other Mara Wilsons of the world.