The first thing I remember from my initial call to Lilibet was her talent for setting the dramatic to a well-lit narrative; one where all the places and players are carefully examined, illustrated, and given vibrancy by their all-too-human quips (we also share an addiction to bulleted lists and numbered collections, handwritten notes and a continued affection for late cinema sage Syd Field).
The second, was her immediate -- and sincere -- reply when I asked:
"What was it like to spend part of your life on exhibit?"
"I loved being a fly on the wall, especially when people didn't think I could hear what they were saying about the girl in the box," she said.
What I've come to understand, and admire since, is how much she's willing to project of her life to the page and the images therein -- even when the character she portrays is occasionally critical or peculiar in her insecurities.
Life in a Glass Case
Described as a "self-effacing and wryly humorous young voice in the tenor of Sloane Crosley and Lena Dunham" and a "camera-ready California girl", with a touch of Golightly and a self-professed love for Didion, Lilibet's first book, Box Girl: My Part-time Job as an Art Installation premiered in March 2014 to a remarkable degree of accolade (garnering praise from from Harper's Bazaar, Flavorwire, Buzzfeed, the LA Times, and Time Out LA, among others).
Which led me to wonder: how had her life changed to fit this new and highly published image?
"If Instagram or Facebook were actual reality," she remarked, "everyone I know would always be on some fabulous vacation or at some awesomely hip concert or about to eat some incredible meal... We're so aware of being watched, it's like we tailor our online behaviors to present the version of ourselves that we wish ourselves to be.
It's so funny that sitting in a box wearing very little clothing didn't unnerve me; but sort of grossly over-exposing myself on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter really does."
Life Outside the Box
As for where she intends to go next with her writing and her audience -- particularly women who are building careers, having children, and at the beginning of a new chapter in their lives -- Lilibet says:
"I kind of laugh about some of these things that I used to consider really, really big troubles in my twenties, when, let's be honest, my biggest issue was having enough money to pay my bar tab, and how they're a bit trivial compared to the life you live after 30.
What I love most about essays and works based on personal experience", she notes, "is that they ask questions of both the reader and the writer--what Phillip Lopate called 'glorious thought excursions', where you can see the writer untangling her knots on the page."
Toward that end, Lilibet plans to give readings and talks about the challenges facing female millennials at various upcoming events, while also leading online discussions on Goodreads about the same themes.
"My hope is that the people who read my work -- whether they're Millennials, parents of them, or young women trying to build their careers -- can learn from my various mistakes and misadventures as I continue to write about them."
To hear more about Lilibet and the story behind Box Girl, you can listen to our conversation on Episode 2 of "In Character: The Life We Live Behind Glass."
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