According to Beyoncé's song “Me, Myself & I,” this is how the pop star deals with a breakup: “I realized I got/ Me, myself and I/ That's all I got in the end/ That's what I found out/ Ain't no need to cry/ I took a vow that from now on/ I'm gonna be my own best friend.”
Samantha “Sam” Irby, a writer, Beyoncé superfan and creator of the popular blog “Bitches Gotta Eat,” said she tries to handle the end of relationships similarly, but with one exception: She gets angry and/or depressed before she comes to terms with her situation.
“I would like to think that (Beyoncé's song describes) how I am, but it usually takes me a while to get there,” Irby said. “I usually want to burn their house down and then I eventually get to the point where I am like OK, it's cool. It's just me and it's cool.”
In many ways, Irby burns her own house down in her new essay collection, "Meaty," published this month by Chicago-based Curbside Splendor. Fans of her hilariously candid and irreverent blog will find plenty of her usual pieces on relationships gone sour, men behaving badly and poop, the latter an emphasis because of her Crohn's disease.
On the other hand, longtime readers will be surprised to find poignant stories of her painful childhood growing up poor in Evanston; her strained, sporadic communications with her alcoholic father, Samuel; and her extremely loving yet complicated relationship with her mother, Grace. Irby, 33, the front-desk manager at an Evanston animal hospital, lost both of her parents when she was a freshman at Northern Illinois University.
The book's combination of emotional prose and Irby's usual joke-filled, R-rated rantings mirrors her multifaceted life. The stories are marked by a deep appreciation for her roots and an eyes-wide-open, comedic outlook on life, which is best encapsulated by her blog's tag line, "Tacos. Hot dudes. Diarrhea. Jams."
"You know what?" Irby said, laughing, after ordering iced tea at Metropolis Coffee. "I don't eat that many (expletive) tacos. … The best food ever is ice cream, but it is not cool to say that ice cream is the best food ever because that is such a sad fat-girl thing to say."
Irby has emphasized diet and her weight in her writing ever since she started her blog on MySpace in 2009. She said "Bitches Gotta Eat" began as a response to a lot of other bloggers writing as if their lives were "Sex and the City." She wanted to tell stories for the majority of women, whose experiences were not Carrie-perfect.
"I know a lot of people who are not getting called back (for dates) and sitting in bed eating chicken wings, and I am going to write this for them," she said, explaining the blog's mission.
She also started it to impress a guy.
"It's funny because people are like 'Why did you start your blog?' and it really was to bang some dude," she said. "I think I still write it to hopefully bang some dudes. When I started the blog, this dude was seeing a woman who was a writer ... and he would always tell me about her and I thought, man, I can write, so I started this blog to be like, look at me, I am funny and interesting. They broke up, we hooked up. We aren't friends anymore, but at least I got the blog out of it."
Irby makes an immediate impression with her frankness. She lets opinions and four-letter words fly and doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks. At the same time, she has a way of putting her company — and especially her readers — at ease.
"I (love) how unabashedly honest and open she is," Mariyam Hussain, a reader of the blog, wrote in an email. "Most people hide (especially in social media) who they really are, instead presenting an advertisement of who they want to be. Sam doesn't sugarcoat who she is to get fans, boyfriends, friends. And that is extremely liberating to read."
Moving her hand through the air, Irby creates an imaginary scale as she remarks that her blog, and by extension her book, is for women, gay men, cats and straight men, in that order.
"Men can enjoy it, but they can't laugh too hard," she said, "like some of this s--- is not for you, sir. It is for us ... I want to make women laugh. I want to make women feel less alone."
In a recent blog post, Irby wrote about why she hasn't had sex for about a year, marking what she called her "celi-bration." Readers flooded her inbox with "me too, girl" exclamations and "thank you so much for writing about this" stories.
Irby said she regularly receives emails from readers who say it's nice to know someone else is going through the same thing.
Lisa Nohner can relate.