NY TIMES best selling comedic author on finding your truth, sex after baby and the identity crisis that comes with motherhood
by Colleen Crivello
SHARE THE LOVE (& THE STYLE)
In light of recent events, I don’t know a more well-suited or outspoken mom to represent our Mom Crush status this week than my incredible friend Jenny. Expressive to no end, a two-time The New York Times best-selling author and the funniest girl I know – she says what you wish you could, is down for a prank at a moment’s notice and is always poised for the next adventure.
Jenny and I first met over dinner at the home of Mom Crush Stacey Bendet. We instantly hit it off and spent the entire night glued to one another. After dinner I promptly went home and did what every self respecting woman would do – Instagram stalked her (obvi)! Once I had a firm handle on just how hilarious she is, I texted her and said we should be friends – and so we became.
Amidst her writing the screenplay adaptation of her latest book Live Fast and Die Hot (her part to be played by… drumroll please… Anne Hathaway) we stopped by Jenny’s house to chat about the road to discovering her voice, how marrying actor Jason Biggs actually ignited her writing career, sex after baby and the identity crisis that comes with motherhood. @jennyandteets2
Photos by: Lindsay Brown @lindseabrown
On getting her start as a writer: I grew up in Arizona, went to UCLA and then became an actress for what felt like a lifetime. I was constantly frustrated with the roles I was getting – I didn’t want my career to be defined by servicing some male actor on some random TV show. Although, looking back I often wonder if the role that I was craving even existed. What was I chasing? There are actors that I’ve watched the trajectory of their careers and I have thought ‘Would I have wanted those roles or that life? Would that have made me happy?’ And truthfully, I don’t think it would have. Through my acting roles I was trying to paint a picture of who I thought I was or wanted to be and at the time I certainly didn’t think that I was funny. Then when I married a famous actor, I became super competitive with him and felt completely eclipsed by his celebrity. Anywhere we went strangers would asked me to hold their baby while they took a photo with ‘Jason Biggs,’ or even worse they would ask me to take the photo! I freaked out – that couldn’t be my life! With an ever increasing annoyance, I started lashing out on Twitter. In jest I would sometimes Tweet things like ‘If you hate Jason Biggs – follow me!’ I was needing to be heard and at the time Twitter was the perfect platform. Somehow through that, I found my voice – a comedic one – then the whole thing exploded! I ended up publishing a short story for Playboy, then writing and giving sex advice for the Playboy and Smoking Jacket websites. Years prior I had remembered my agency telling me that they had a book department, which at the time I couldn’t have cared less about and now suddenly seemed so important. I called my agent and told him that I wanted to create a book proposal. A bunch of people passed on it and others called my agent to report back on how appalled they were at the scandalous nature of the book – it was definitely out there. Looking back I wonder how I had the balls to say most of what I said – I think it’s mainly because I thought no one was listening and therefore I could say whatever the fuck I wanted. Finally, this guy from St. Martin’s Press took a gamble on me and decided to publish it. So it all began!
On her first book and having a baby: It was insane – my son was born in February and my first book, I Like You Just the Way I Am: Stories About Meand Some Other People, came out in June, so 2014 was just a crazy year! I felt like I gave two births. The book made The New York Times Best Seller List the first week it was released and then I sold it as a show. Shortly after Istarted the second book, Live Fast and Die Hot, which just launched this past summer with a show and now a movie to follow – it all kind of snowballed. It really took me hitting rock bottom, sitting there thinking ‘this isn’t working out the way I want it to’ and then being mad enough do something about it in order to find my truth.
On hitting her stride: We recently shot the ABC series for book two and I finally felt like the roll I had been craving all those years ago was the one that I created for myself. I basically had always wanted to have my own show and for it to be in my voice. It was simply a really roundabout way of getting there. And now that I’ve done that, I kind of realize that acting sucks and I wonder to myself why I ever wanted that. But I had to go through the whole thing in order to be where I am now because I couldn’t let go of that idea until I got it. And funny enough when I did get it – it made me realize that there is no power in it.
Choosing her life path: In life it’s hard to know what you want until you have the resources to make choices and understand through experience what you’re truly good at. Unfortunately that often comes from struggling through what you’re not good at… at least in my case I found this to be true.
On landing a movie deal with Anne Hathaway: It’s super exciting and also kind of stressful. I’m thrilled because no one ever thought it would happen. I remember everyone had said that I was going to have a harder time making The New York Times Best Seller List with the second book than I did with the first. When I didn’t make the list the first week like I did the first time, I was devastated. Beat out by three of Bill O’Reilly’s books, the Hamilton book and someone else crazy, it left me gutted and confused. I felt like a total failure, then something happened and this wave of sales came. I ended up making the monthly list and then Anne Hathaway came aboard and suddenly the whole thing turned. It was a strange turn of events as it felt like a defeat and then it exploded.
Your first book was… A collection of short stories about all of the wild stuff I’ve done – basically a manifesto about embracing your inner crazy. I expanded on this idea I have that all women are basically batshit, should own it, stalk everyone and behave however they want because people are judging you anyways. So why not? Recently this girl came up to me and said ‘I used you in an argument with my boyfriend last night when he demanded to know why I was looking at his emails and I told him that all women do it! Get over it!’ Love that – there’s no longer any reason to lie about it. ‘Yeah I fucking looked and I’m going to again so you better not be doing anything shady.’ I’m living in the perfect time for my personality – with social media, stalking has become a breeze.
Your second book was… I like to think of it as a postpartum romantic comedy and my baby is my love interest. I feel like the second book was my reaction to motherhood… to run! I think it’s because I was never the narcissistic object of my mom’s affection and instinctually I knew that if I ever had a kid I would have to give him all of me and that terrified me. After all if I’m giving someone all of myself then I’m set up to be in competition with that child, bringing to surface questions like ‘Who’s going to take care of me?’ In addition, I didn’t know how to balance those feelings with massive amounts of guilt and as result I tried to outrun my own vulnerability by doing Aioaska, going to Peru and moving to New York, etc. Writing the book definitely helped me come to terms with it a little and even more so as I’m writing the movie. Although I still have moments where I ask my therapist, ‘What was I trying to achieve by doing this… this couldn’t be all about my mom??’ And my therapist will answer ‘This is ALL about your mom – it’s all about the type of mom you had and that’s why you’re so scared of the world.’ Truth is, I’ll always be afraid and I actually think that’s what makes me a good mom because I’m wanting to do it right. And yes my own mom ran from her anxieties and I was doing the same thing in a different way, but what I realized was that just being there is doing it right.
Mom fears:I hate living with fear and anxiety about raising Sid, but in truth I think all moms have a degree of anxiety and guilt about how they’re raising their children. I’ve learned that’s just part of it. I don’t think enough women are talking about this either and everything seems so perfect from the exterior. It’s easy to end up feeling alone and isolated in your anxieties and think ‘I’m failing’ when in reality all moms are feeling this way to some degree. As much as I think social media is fun to stalk your boyfriend it also sets up a system of comparison where life as a mom looks like a breeze according to someone else’s social feed. I always say to Jason that all I want to do when I’m not with our son is see him and when I am with him all I want to do is get away – it’s this crazy thing. I find comfort in knowing that we all have these major fails.
A major fail: I had him in the pool one day and he bit me – my instinct as a human was just to dunk him until he let go. It was so fucking dark. It was like I was being attacked by a squirrel or something – dunk it, get it off! He came up so shocked and I really had to check myself.
On postpartum:You know I didn’t think that I had postpartum at the time but now that I look back I think for the first two years of Sid’s life there was something psychologically wrong with me. I definitely wasn’t completely comfortable in the new role – it’s such a hard transition. Now he’s 2.5 years old and only for the last six months have I felt like ‘I got this.’
On meeting Jason:We did a movie together and then we were set up on a blind date by the producer of that movie. After which we ended up being in Boston together for three months filming and got married six months later. It was a whirlwind! Although I definitely have to say, at the time I didn’t know it was the right decision – I was young, we were partying and there was a lot of passion. In no way did I know that he was my soul mate until about two years in – I’m definitely confident that I made the right decision.
Sex after baby:I feel like sex after a year with anybody is just different whether you’ve had a baby or not. There’s no mystery and it’s always available. I recently watched this movie about Hemingway and the war photographer that he married and they were so into each other because they were in these war-torn areas and the buildings were blowing up around them. I said to Jason that if the world was exploding around us, he would be so HOT and I’d totally want to fuck him – but until then, it’s just the two of us and hand me the Pirate’s Booty. Sometimes being stoned helps but sometimes that can backfire too and I’m like WOW I’m way too high, so just save your energy. Sometimes I think trips away together can spark some magic but then I come back and I’m like ‘eh, still just you.’ I think it’s important to rely on humor and good conversation.On her next book – related to motherhood? You know it’s so horrible – some nights I think I’m going to get breast cancer and so the book will be about breast cancer. Then other nights Jason won’t text me back and so I immediately assume he’s dead and therefore my next book will be about my life as a widow. At this point I don’t really know what it will be about – we’ll have to see. I definitely feel like I have some more living to do because sad to say, I don’t have anything that interesting to talk about right now. One idea I have been toying with is I have all of these perpetually single girlfriends that just can’t seem to find love and I always say to them, give me complete access to your phone and digital footprint and I’ll make a guy fall in love with you. Mostly because I feel like if they would just listen to me and stop doing those stupid things that girls do they’d essentially gain the upper hand – I believe that all guys come groveling back in the end if you just work the situation correctly. Maybe the book could be about the Female Game, titled something like ‘He’s just not that into you – YET!’I could be the female Neil Strauss.
Most eccentric thing in her closet: It was Jason’s ex’s caftan but I just donated that to The Broken Relationships Museum in LA – you can watch it on Chelsea Lately on the ‘Relationships’ episode. Now, it’s a belt I bought online that’s pink and bejeweled – I thought it would make me look very cool but instead just makes me look like a rodeo queen. I’m giving it to my nanny to take to Guatemala over the holidays – she’s going to kill it in Guatemala with that belt.
On being jeans obsessed:It’s an amazing time to be jeans – anything goes! But as a consumer it’s really hard to know where you fall in the jeans spectrum. For awhile it was only boot, then straight, followed by only skinnies and boyfriends and now anything is relevant. It’s so exciting but it’s so hard to know where to commit your money, time and energy so as a result all I do is spend my money, time and energy trolling the internet to try to find the perfect jeans. My next obsession might be to start cropping things – I want to wear crop tops more. The fact of the matter is whatever we wear now we’ll look back and hate it in 10 years.
Your teenage style was…Sort of the same. I was always a little lesbian chic because according to Jason if we’re not in dresses and aprons, it’s basically lesbian chic. I would wear a three piece business suit or a button down with trouser pants and a vest plus a lot of blazers with jeans. I don’t know what I was thinking; I thought I was a business woman.A recent beauty discovery:LP50 by Biologique Recherche Toner – it changed my life. I consistently had one or two zits on my face before and now that I use this toner nothing comes to the surface – it’s really shrunk my pores. Although I have to say, it numbs my whole face, so be prepared for that.
Daily skincare routine:Biologique Recherche lotion and toner and then I use these Colostrum drops that they sold me on which I have no idea what they do. You know when you get a facial and they sell you on the dream of younger, better skin and you’re willing to spend any amount of money to secure that dream – that’s basically why I use the Colostrum drops.
On fitness:About five days a week -Barry’s Bootcamp, weights and a run. I like lifting weights a lot because I don’t think that anything makes you as skinny and running feels pointless after awhile.
On wearing makeup:Right now I love the TempTu – an airbrush machine. Do you remember Total Recall and you could just paint your nails by tapping on them? This is like that – one spray and you’re ready to go! I use cheap drugstore mascara because I’m over the expensive stuff plus it goes bad so fast. Sometimes I finish with the Kylie Lip Kit because I can’t be bothered to reapply my lipstick throughout the day and this stuff is basically like paint – although it’s SO drying.
Botox – to do or not do?YES! Do! I would say that you should do it as soon as you start contemplating –in moderation and don’t do the lip! I hate the lip; it never looks real. Actually now that I live in NY from LA I don’t do Botox nearly as much. Plus, recently someone told me that your child starts to not understand your emotions because nothing moves and that idea killed me so I’ve definitely toned it down. I also don’t have a doctor here that I love except my friend Oren and he’s busy separating conjoined twins, so I feel awkward bothering him to fill my face.
A typical day of eating is…I was really into oatmeal for awhile but then realized I have no self control and was over eating about a 1000 calories as my first meal of the day! As a result, I’ve gone back to eating an apple and almond butter in the morning and then for lunch a salad and a night is where I sort of lose control of the whole thing. For example, I’ll eat a healthy dinner and then load up on Pirate’s Booty afterwards and completely obliterate my healthy day.
On practicing wellness and self care:I talk to a therapist once a week plus Jason and I talk to a couples therapist every other week. We’ve done this pretty much since we met – it’s very LA. Also working out is a must and I think it makes me a better mom – both for endurance and the mental piece. It’s like my Zoloft. I have to do it.The app that most changed your life:Twitter
Makes you feel sexy…Something tight like Spanx that sucks in my stomach and makes me look like I didn’t have a baby. Oh and dark lighting! Also filters make me feel sexy.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as your dinner guest and what would you make them? I want to say Woody Allen although I think he’d actually be a really annoying dinner guest and now that I know everything I know about him I wouldn’t want Sid home when he came over – but I really want his opinion on my script. Maybe I could just email him the script and send him Postmates delivery for dinner and we could Skype.
Your wildest adventure… Probably going to Peru and taking Aioaska both for the adventure of it all plus the inner journey I had to take once I was on the drug – it was a mind fuck. I came away from that experience really feeling like I needed to work less and prioritize the people that love me. Then a month later I was back to being a workaholic. As it goes…
Greatest possession you’ll never throw away…I’m not into possessions. I don’t get attached to things because deep down I think I want to feel that I can walk out the door at anytime. And the same goes if I lose something – I don’t give it a second thought. Jason on the other hand is a packrat. I think it’s because I was moving so much as a kid and everything was ephemeral in general. Even if I lost my wedding ring I would just go through the process of filing the insurance and truly let it go. The wildest part about all of that is nearly every time I lose something I almost always get it back. However, if I lost Teet’s (my deceased dog) ashes I would be upset – he’s in a brass pineapple right now in our house.
On motherhood:Don’t force the potty training – they just end up hating you. I was rushing Sid because I was trying to keep up with other moms and then I realized that he wasn’t ready so I’ve taken a step back. I think that’s good advice in general – don’t worry about how other people are parenting, do what works for your family.
One tip:If you’re trying to start something, social media is invaluable. Whether you want to post or not, you have to because followers will equal some form of currency. Just start posting, you don’t even need to know what you want to do right now but just start putting it out there. Eventually it will translate into something.