I’ve been wanting to read Rachel Bertsche’s book MWF Seeking BFF now for awhile. For one thing, my book club chose it several months ago (while I was still in China), and when I read the synopsis, it sounded unlike anything I’d heard before. It’s a non-fiction book about a girl (about my age) who moves to Chicago to be with her boyfriend, and then realizes that now all of her college friends and former BFFs (“best friend forever”s) are many states away, and she has no one to call to put in a little face-time. Because she knows very few people in Chicago, she starts a year-long aggressive friend search, “asking out” girls in the store, at restaurants, at friend speed-dating venues, and even places a BFF want-ad of sorts on her blog. It’s just the sort of situation that I’ve found myself in after moving away from all of my friends in Tallahassee, and her aggressive friend search is just the sort of challenge that I should also rise to (if I’m brave enough). She comes from a place that I can relate to as well, because she’s not one of those people who usually chats up other customers in the grocery store line. She generally keeps to herself, and tries to wait for friends to magically come to her….but that tactic simply doesn’t work (don’t I know it!). She actually does a lot of research about how to forge connections with people and the different health benefits of having a close group of friends to rely on, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from her arduous studies. The most important thing that I took away from her book is that if I want to make friends, I’m going to have to get a lot more bold about putting myself in situations where I can meet new people, and “asking out” girls who I think might be potential friends. It’s a little bit scary, but unless I want to sit at home in my pajamas every night, watching The Voice, it’s something I need to do.
It seems almost serendipitous that I didn’t read Bertsche’s book until now, right after I’ve made a move and suddenly find myself friendless in Pittsburgh. The other thing that really intrigues me about her is that she is a real-life success story of a blogger-turned-bestselling-published-author. It’s true, she had worked for different magazines before and had articles printed in different high-profile editorials, but this is her first actual book, and it started as an idea that she was blogging about. In fact, after finishing the last page of MWF, I immediately went to check out her blog on WordPress and saw that she is still writing posts about friendship, and many of her loyal fans are begging her for a MWF sequel.
So, she is basically my hero.
And what better time than now, while I’m unemployed and haven’t yet started grad school, to follow in her footsteps and get to work on turning my China blog into a book? I’ve actually been doing a lot of research lately about the process of trying to get published, but that’s for another post.
Back to what I was saying about the friend search…in her book, Bertsche mentions using a website called MeetUp.com to find events to attend where she could find potential friends. After reading about it, I put my book down and logged onto the site. I was worried that MeetUp was for Chicago only, but I found that Pittsburgh has its own network as well. They have everything from people who participate in extreme sports to people who like going to wine tastings…just about any random interest you might have, there’s a MeetUp group for you. Of course, I immediately started perusing the different book club groups in town.
MeetUp lists several different types of book clubs in Pittsburgh, and once you choose which one you like, they are broken down into even smaller groups according to different areas around town where they meet. I took a look at the “Non-Boring Books in the Burgh” and found that, ironically, their reading list looks incredibly boring (to me, at least). I mean, who actually reads Kafka for fun in their spare time? “Pittsburghers Who Love To Read” is currently working on a Jeffery Eugenides tome since the author plans to come to town this month to give a lecture at Carnegie Music Hall. A quick Google search on Jeffery Eugenides reveals that he is the author of The Virgin Suicides and the recently released Middlesex, and both books look to be a little outside my comfort zone. I don’t like reading books that are guaranteed to leave me feeling disturbed long after I finish the final page. So, a hearty “no thanks” to that group. Finally, I found “The Pittsburgh Chick Lit Book Club,” whose reading list is definitely more to my taste. This month we’re reading How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue, and we’re going to meet on Friday, October 17th.
And yes, the idea that I’m going to drive downtown by myself to the Crazy Mocha Coffee Company to sit and talk with a handful of girls who I’ve never met before freaks me out. Not in the they-may-be-potential-serial-killers way, but the I-may-be-incredibly-awkward-and-have-nothing-intelligent-to-say variety. But Rachel Bertsche confirms that when you have no friends in your new town, attending events like this is one of the best ways to meet people. And if I meet a girl in the group who seems very friend-worthy, I need to be bold enough to exchange email addresses or phone numbers with her and suggest that we grab coffee or dinner sometime.
After all, every friend starts out as a stranger. 😀