The Grrl Genius Guide to Life: A 12 Step Program on How to Become a Grrl Genius According to Me!

by Cathryn Michon

Published by Bluff Street Books

192 pages, 2001

Buy it online


In The Grrl Genius Guide to Life, standup comic and Grrl Genius Club founder Cathryn Michon explains why she is a genius and demonstrates how you can become one, too, by following her easy 12-step program.

The first step in the program is the most important: Admit that you are a Grrl Genius. Acknowledge that you are beautiful, intelligent and talented -- and that you are the only person in the world who can decide just how great you are. In subsequent steps, you will learn to embrace the domestic arts, love your Grrl Genius good looks, celebrate your sexuality, appreciate your Grrl Genius mother and pass the Grrl Genius message on to others.



The following is an excerpt from the book The Grrl Genius Guide to Life by Cathryn Michon

Step One

"We Admitted That We Were Grrl Geniuses"

It takes a lot of time to be a genius, You have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.
-- Gertrude Stein

I know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.
-- Margaret Fuller


The Grrl Genius Guide to Life is a twelve-step program that will show you how to become a Grrl Genius, according to me, Cathryn Michon, Grrl Genius.

Oh yes, make no mistake, I am a Grrl Genius, and you can be one too. All you have to do is take the first step. All you have to do is admit that you are a genius. Also you must be willing to acknowledge the genius of any other Grrl who takes the leap of faith and admits her genius.

I took the "Great Grrl Genius Leap Forward" and proclaimed myself a Grrl Genius based on no actual evidence whatsoever. I discovered that I was a genius because I said I was! Truly it was as simple as that, and my life has changed dramatically for the better since I took this simple, seemingly bizarre first step.

Why did I take this radical action? Because I simply woke up one morning and realized that I was sick to death of feeling like a fat, wheezing pig and a loser for many, if not all, twenty-four hours of the day. I knew logically that I was neither a loser nor fat and wheezing. Still, my first thought on waking up was usually that I was ten years and $10,000 behind. I never felt pretty enough, good enough, talented enough, or smart enough.

I thought that part of the reason for this might be because I live in Los Angeles. For one thing, Los Angeles is the global epicenter of female-body loathing. In this gleaming metropolis, through the media of television, film, and popular music, billions of dollars are made exporting revulsion for the natural female form throughout the known world.

It seems that every woman in L.A. has been surgically altered. In Los Angeles, the ideal woman is a modern Minotaur, a mythical creature whose bottom half is from a completely different species than her top half. If you're the ideal L.A. woman, you're concentration-camp-victim thin on the bottom, but on the top you're supposed to have two happy, shiny beach balls of pleasure and joy. On the bottom you're supposed to be so thin that you can no longer menstruate or bear live young or have an opinion of any kind. On the top you're supposed to be able to lactate enough milk to fill all the latte orders at your local Starbucks.

This is completely unacceptable.

As a Grrl Genius, I feel it is my duty to point out that no woman exists in nature who has the ass of a seventeen-year-old boy and the udders of a Guernsey cow. It just doesn't happen.

Then I realized it wasn't just living in L.A. that was giving me terminally low self-esteem. Apparently women all over America have been feeling like fat, wheezing pigs and losers. In a recent People magazine poll, 91 percent of women said they were "dissatisfied" with the way they look. I was sick of being depressed because I could never live up to the impossible ideals that assaulted me on television and in movies and magazines. My career was no compensation for this gnawing feeling of inadequacy. I liked my career okay, but I felt I was nowhere near as successful as the men I worked with.

I wanted to blame men or the media or society, but that always makes me crabby, and I was sick of doing it. Then, I had a life-altering revelation. This was the revelation that started me on my personal "Journey to Genius." The sky opened up and a giant beam of golden light enveloped me, and a deep, mellifluous voice that sounded very much like Maya Angelou's began to speak to me --

Okay, that's not what happened. My giant revelation came as I was naked, eating Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge and caramel sauce and covered in slivered pecans. It's the most incredible, delectable dessert. It's a magnificent combination of pecan pie and ice cream and chocolate turtles, all in one, as well as being a delightful and disease-free substitute for sexual activities of all kinds.

By the way, I invented that dessert, which really ought to be proof enough of my genius for any of you who are doubting me so far. Please see the "Grrl Genius Appendix" for the (brilliantly simple) recipe.

The life-altering revelation I had while eating that fantastic dessert was that it wasn't men or the media or anybody else who had the final say on whether I was pretty enough, good enough, talented enough, or smart enough. I realized, as I sat in my kitchen, warm golden droplets of caramel sauce occasionally dribbling onto my breasts, that I was, in fact, the boss of me. Sure, maybe it was the sugar talking, but the revelation itself was very real. For maybe the first time in my life, I actually understood that I was, in fact, the only person in the world who could decide how great I was or wasn't.

So I decided to be a genius. A beautiful, talented Grrl Genius. | August 2001


Copyright © 2001 Cathryn Michon


Cathryn Michon is an award-winning actress, writer and standup comic. She performs in comedy clubs throughout the country and her standup show The Grrl Genius Club is seen monthly at the Hollywood Improv. She is also one of the rare Hollywood writers to succeed in half-hour comedy (Designing Women) and drama (China Beach, Sisters). As an actress, she has worked in the theater since she was a child and has done many guest-starring television roles. She is also a playwright and the coauthor of Jane Austen's Little Advice Book.