Today’s Feature, May 23-24, 2007: Stephanie Klein

January 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm (Today's Feature)

Warning: The following feature may cause extreme laughter, joy, and
rousing insight. Ok, so maybe the warning sounded a little “off” but
as I got to know Stephanie Klein, I had a hard time finding exactly
what to say…mainly because I only allow myself a few paragraphs. I
have bestowed upon myself the task of writing a brief blurb every 48
hours about the unique talent featured on PensEyeView.com, in hopes to
give the readers a heads-up opinion on the our artists. Not
surprisingly, my fascination with showcasing great talent to the
world, allows me the ability to write for hours on end about how
amazing these people are. Such is the case with Klein…it was a no
brainer. I just hope I can do my best to put her whacky, lovable and
passionate mind to paper (via the web).

Klein has been called the real life combination of Carrie Bradshaw,
Bridget Jones and Elain Bennis (yes fellas, such a woman does exist!)
and rightfully so. She has been featured in Marie Claire UK,
Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, The New York Post and USA
Today, to name a few. Why all the attention? It all started when Klein
created her blog-“Greek Tragedy” in January of 2004, with the goal of
writing something new every day. That little experiment has produced
two memoirs; “Straight Up and Dirty” (now available) about her failed
marriage and life there after, as well as “MOOSE” (soon to be
released) about her days at fat camp, along with writing a pilot for
NBC Universal. Not bad for a woman that not so long ago, wasn’t sure
where her life was going to take her. In “Straight Up and Dirty”, she
details the fall of her marriage as only a woman with so much inner
strength and sense of humor can explain. She does it with such grace
and courage that even when you are laughing; you have to pause to
realize that all the bad things really happened as well. You also want
to meet her ex-husband. I don’t know what I’d say if I did but I just
wonder what he is saying now.

She shares the same honesty in her books as she is on her daily blog.
Everything from a fight with her husband over throwing a dinner party,
to “100 things About Me” (I highly recommend checking out). However,
it is this honesty and openness that has turned this one time
“Manhattan party girl” into a determined mother, who has made a
business out of running and showcasing her life. Whether you dig her
stories or not, you have to respect anyone who can just pick up and
go, even after going through what Klein has endured. Everyone, one
time or another has either been in Klein’s position or has been the
person Klein would lean on. It is that raw emotion that makes her
writing so enjoyable and fascinating. “Greek Tragedy” though?…Ok, I
get the symbolism but if we are talking theatrics, I prefer to use
Renaissance Woman; encompassing a revival of learning through the
development of art, literature…and the hysteria of the Manhattan
singles scene. Read her XXQs to find out more.

XXQs: Stephanie Klein

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did StephanieKlein.com begin?

Stephanie Klein (SK): It began as a showcase (a.k.a. resumé) for my
advertising portfolio, then morphed into my blog, GREEK TRAGEDY. In
January of 2004, I was working full-time as an interactive art
director, in Manhattan, designing web sites, and by night I was
posting–let’s face it–my angst online, frustrated that I didn’t know
how to make myself happy. As a New Year’s resolution, I promised to
write every day. Having a blog enabled me to create an online
scrapbook of my life, complete with drawings, photos (I use a Nikon
D100), and my daily musings. As more people began to stop by, I
expanded the content to include lifestyle, fashion, photography, and
food–all passions of mine.

PEV: Have you always been interested in art and writing?

SK: In fourth grade, outside Mrs. Kalb’s classroom, in the green cold
tile, I was given a large piece of paper. The top half of the page was
blank and intended for drawing a scene, and the bottom half of the
page was lined. I remember writing about the scene I drew and
thinking, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” I went home
that day and told my parents I would be a writer.

PEV: Did you ever think you would make a living off telling people
(very open) stories about your life?

SK: I always knew I’d be a writer one day, and when I read things by
other writers, I was always struck by the truth they revealed. That’s
when I realized how powerful truth can be in the telling of our own
lives. I always hoped I’d find a way to make a living at writing, even
though I didn’t pursue that straight out of college. I majored in
English with
a concentration in writing, but after graduating, I turned down jobs
in publishing because they didn’t, quite simply, pay enough. I
couldn’t afford to work in publishing and have an apartment (with a
roommate) in Manhattan. So I began my career in advertising,
designing, not writing, ironically enough. I didn’t have any hope when
I began the blog other than trying to make myself 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. And in a very short time, less than five months, my blog
was featured in a newspaper in London, where I was paid for my posts.

PEV: Being so open with your life, is there anything that you regret posting?

SK: Regret is a funny thing. I don’t think we even think to regret
anything unless we realize we’ve hurt someone. Sometimes that someone
is ourselves, our bodies. Too much drinking or eating. Mostly though,
when it comes to regret, it’s about how our actions influenced others.
I took down one post a long time ago that I regret ever posting. It
was about a birthday party I attended, as a guest. I described the
larger than life birthday boy as looking like he’d eaten Mr. and Mrs.
Claus. It wasn’t the nicest thing, and as chance would have it, he
stumbled upon the entry. When I learned of this, I took it down. I
realized it’s easy to be passionately mean. It’s harder to be
compassionate. I also wrote something once about my married sex life,
but quickly took it down because I knew it might upset my husband. You
know, do onto others and all that.

PEV: Do any of the people in your life (ex-boyfriends, your
ex-husband, co-workers, etc) that have made it as a “feature” in your
writing; ever respond to what you’ve said?

SK: NO! How awesome is that! I don’t spare many details in writing
about my sexual encounters in Straight Up and Dirty; it’s true. I
write detailed accounts not to humiliate anyone, but really because
that’s just part of being a single woman. It was merely a component of
my life at the time and deserved as much attention as the other things
going on at the time. I did, howerver, take care to change all the
names, to save people some embarrassment. It’s funny, really, because
after the book was published, men I had dated read the book. Some of
them approached me complaining that they didn’t make it into the book.
“Why,” they asked, “didn’t you write about me?” “You obviously weren’t
that bad,” I replied, touching them on the arm, ensuring them with the
tone of my voice that it was a good thing. One man, however, “Mr.
Manetti” from the book “whose last name sounded like it meant small
penis in Italian” approached me at a bar one night, after the book had
been written, asking if he was in the book. I didn’t have the heart to
tell him he was featured in the very first chapter, so I assured him
he was not. So, no, no one has come up to me complaining about
anything I’ve written in the book. Not even my ex-husband or
ex-mother-in-law.
Explain the phenomenon with blogging and why some last longer the others.

Luck certainly has something to do with it. But I think people stay on
http://www.stephanieklein.com 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. I think you need to post often and regularly too, for
your blog to thrive.

PEV: How did your first book Straight Up And Dirty come about and how
long did it take you write?

SK: I’m not sure how long it took, but not very. Six months probably.
You know, there’s dedicated time, and then there were the times when I
just thought about the book without actually doing any writing. I
decided to write Straight Up and Dirty at my literary agent’s request.
Here’s how it went: I was working on writing a memoir about fat camp
(which is now a memoir titled MOOSE, coming out in 2008), but with the
popularity of my blog and it’s mostly dating/relationships themes, my
agent recommended I go with that. So I wrote about moving on from
divorce, culled a few of the blog posts, and composed Straight Up and
Dirty. And from there, NBC got it into their hands and decided to
option it. Now I’m writing the television pilot for the series.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

SK: They are of course so excited. At first though, when the blog
really took off, some friends felt the blog cheapened our friendship.
That is to say, they were upset that I was sharing such intimate
details, things normally reserved for only close friends. We feel
close to
people when we open up, when there is the sharing of secrets, but I
was sharing my secrets with the world, which made some of my friends
feel less special. They are all over it by now though and regularly
can be heard saying, “you HAVE to put this on the blog!”

PEV: How did if feel to see Straight Up And Dirty in a bookstore or to
see someone in public reading it?

SK: Giddy. I was so excited I most definitely squealed. I still have
not seen anyone reading it yet. Though I have friends in other cities
who’ve spotted people reading it and took and sent me their photo. If
I spot someone reading it, I will absolutely go up to them and ask
them what part they’re up to.

PEV: Drawing, writing, photography. if you had to pick one, which would it be?

SK: It’s all storytelling. Just different mediums. I would choose
writing if I had to choose just one.

PEV: Do people ever approach you in public about your work?

SK: All the time, and I love it. It’s pretty exciting hearing how your
experiences and writing has influenced the lives of others.

PEV: You are often compared to Seinfeld’s Elain Benis and Sarah
Jessica Parker’s character on Sex & the City”. Do you think it is a
fair comparison?

SK: I think I’m a bit of an animated spaz like Elaine, and I have the
same hair and quirky mannerisms. People say I talk like her, the same
cadences and facial expressions. As for SJP, it’s more like a
comparison to her character on Sex & The City. I’d never have the
nerve (or inclination) to wear half the things SJP did on set. I’m of
course tired of the comparison. At a certain point it works against
you, always being compared to an old television show. You never knew,
on Sex & The City, that any of the girls had family until a family
member died. The show didn’t address family, the importance of it in
critical times. I believe in Straight Up and Dirty, I highlight how
important my family was, particularly my father, in getting me through
my hardest times, through divorce, abortion, and moving on. HOWEVER, I
recently watched a re-run of Sex & The City, and it’s a great, great
show, so I guess I should be flattered. Though people need to
remember, what I write is memoir, not FICTION. I write about my life,
my sex life, my city life. New York. Austin. I believe whenever a
cosmopolitan woman writes honestly about her life, she’ll either be
compared to “Carrie Bradshaw” or “Bridget Jones,” both fictional
characters. My stories are all real.

PEV: What has been the most difficult part of managing the material on
your site?

SK: Not repeating myself.

PEV: What has been the best part about creating your blog and
publishing Straight Up And Dirty?

SK: The people I’ve met, the lives I’ve had a part in changing. You
have to remember I moved from NYC to Austin without knowing a single
person. I’ve made friends, almost all of them, exclusively through my
blog.

PEV: Do you find it a challenge or get stressed about keeping your
blog interesting?

SK: Yes, to a certain degree you know people are hitting their refresh
buttons waiting. Sometimes I have nothing to say. I’m busy living, or
I’m busy writing my TV pilot for NBC Universal. Or I’m busy writing my
second memoir, MOOSE. So after doing all that writing, the last thing
I feel like doing is an interesting or controversial blog post. But I
push myself. It was after all a New Year’s resolution to write more. I
do wish the journal I kept, the handwritten one that no one sees, I
wish it made for more entertaining reading. I went here today. Blah,
blah. It’s boring, but it’s important to me because one day, I’ll want
to look back and remember how my days were spent, not just how I felt
about lactivists, expectations, happiness and disappointments.

PEV: You have become quite a fashion expert. What is the biggest/worst
fashion faux-paux (men and women)?

SK: A woman in stockings and a skirt wearing running shoes on her
commute. There is no excuse for this hideousness. For men, a
mustache. Eww.

PEV: What is the worst pick up line you ever heard?

SK: “I love your red hair. Do you have any Irish in you?” “No.” “Want some?”

I think pickup lines are intended to be funny, intended to break the
ice. But guys who rely on them tell me a lot about what kind of man
they are. No woman wants to recount their “how we met story” by
admitting his first sentence was, “Was your father a thief? Because he
stole the stars and put them in your eyes.” So lame.

PEV: Do you recommend people creating a blog, or as you say, your
“angst online”?

SK: It depends what your intentions are in starting it. If you want to
do it because you think it’ll be fun, then sure. But don’t start one
hoping to get rich. You’d be doing it for the wrong reasons, and it
would show. Also, realize you have to have pretty thick skin. There
are a lot of e-holes out there who say mean things hiding behind a
cloak of anonymity.

PEV: What do you like most about New York City?

SK: I live in Austin now, with my husband and twins Lucas and Abigail.
In New York, I was single. Basically, what I miss about New York is
the food. I miss the energy, watching people as soon as I stepped out
of my apartment door, people going places, strangers with their own
dramas, carrying flowers and bread, with appointments and deadlines,
and of course, dates. I miss happy hour with my girlfriends, how my
weekend consisted of running errands like, “buy more nice underwear,
get pedicure and bikini wax, and much more red wine.”

I wasn’t just single; I was a dater. There’s a difference. We all know
plenty of single people who are happy with their situation and don’t
feel propelled to quickly find someone. I was not one of those women.
I was an online dater who booked two, sometimes three, dates in a day.
I would shop for the life I wanted. I made an effort to go out, even
when I felt like staying inside. I went to the gym a lot. I bought
more $300 tops than any woman should consider. I carried a debt of
about 15k on my Amex. I led a mildly extravagant lifestyle (spending
$50 for order-in sushi at least four times a week). I wasn’t jet
setting off to Capri. I was being dragged downtown to Cain and other
crap NYC hot-spots that thought they were cool because they served you
drinks on beds. It was not cool. It was work, and it was depressing.

It was fun when you met someone you liked, but then, along with that
thrill came the anxiety. I’d analyze his emails, and deconstruct our
conversations. Do two Instant Messages and an email equal a phone
call? I became very anxious when I liked someone and depressed when I
didn’t like anyone. I made dating a hobby and spent entirely too much
energy doing it.

I do not miss that life. Not that exact one. I miss my one bedroom, as
crowded and claustrophobic as it was. The halls there and letting my
dog Linus rip up and down them. Walking to Riverside Park, even. And
I’m not a park girl. The proximity of my flat to Fairway Market. The
buzz of people going places. The nail salons! My bedside table. My
green wall. The way everything was mine. I miss living near all my
friends, watching shows, cooking dinners, meeting almost nightly for
our wine at different spots throughout the city. I don’t miss being
single, and I completely understand how it feels to still be looking.
And the only bit of advice I can offer is, try to see your life as an
adventure. Imagine that you’ll be married in less than a year. What do
you want for you right now, knowing that soon your life will never be
the same? Will you ever have the chance to travel alone? I know it
sounds scary or lonesome, but really, you live this life only once.
Why wouldn’t you dare to do something that scares you a little? What
is it that you think you might miss about your life right now, as it
is? Do more of it. Because chances are, that’s exactly what will
happen. I’m not sure it’s ever exactly as we planned. Thank God.

PEV: So, what is next for Stephanie Klein?

SK: Now that I’ve become a homeowner, wife, and mother of two all in
one year, I’d like to just enjoy it. As for work, I’m writing my
second memoir MOOSE while also attending to the TV show for NBC based
off my first book. And of course, I’m writing magazine articles and
contributing to anthologies. Next stop? MOOSE the TV show.

To find out more on Stephanie Klein, check out: stephanieklein.blogs.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: