Scarlet Meyer
Updated Jul 09, 2015 @ 8:42 am
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Happy birthday to the beautiful, brave, and brash Dorothy Parker! Born today in 1893, Parker was a trailblazing poet, short story writer, critic, satirist and screenwriter known for her biting wit, her ageless wisdom, and her unflinching dark humor. Parker sold her first poem to Vanity Fair at age 21, and her career quickly took off from there. She went on to be a regular writer at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker (among many other publications.) She also was a founding member of NYC’s famous Algonquin Round Table, a famous group of literary minds who met regularly at the time. As she began to publish books of her own poetry and short stories, her talents as a poet and a satirist became more widely recognized. Always an activist at heart, Parker spent some of the last years of her life supporting the Civil Rights movement. At her death in 1967 her estate was bequeathed to Martin Luther King Jr.

By and large, Parker was an incredible talent who was decades ahead of her time. Even today her life and writing is fresh, shocking, and crazily intelligent a thousand times over. Though her life was often tumultuous and she struggled with lots of heartache and depression throughout it, her razor sharp brilliance always came out on top. Here are some my favorite bits of wisdom I’ve gleaned from this brilliant woman:

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

This Parker quote always makes me smile, because it reminds me a lot of how I was raised. Growing up, if I would dare complain to my mother that I was bored she would simply reply, “well, then, you’re boring.” This would drive me crazy every time, because she’d found a way to remind me that my problem was all about my own perception. Ever since then I’ve made every effort to always be curious, and to constantly wonder about the world around me. Living this way, I know that Parker was right. Curiosity cures your boredom, but then you’re stuck with all this curiosity. And how crazily wonderful is that?

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly cuts clean to the bone.”

Famous for her clever puns and plays on words, Parker always got straight to the point. And as always, she nails it especially well in this particular quote. While beauty is only skin deep, a person who is truly ugly—mean and ungenerous in spirit and attitude—will be ugly everywhere. It’s important for us as people living in this world to be kind, from inside to out.

“The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

I love this particular quote, because it gets me every time I read it. It’s so simple, and yet so clever. And it reminds me to get up every day with my greatest tools at the ready—wit and intelligence. I try to remember it every day as an empowering mantra before I go out and face the world. It only works about half of the time, but having Parker on my side every morning makes me feel all that more ready to face the day.

“And if my heart be scarred and burned, the safer, I, for all I learned.”

Parker was known for having a rocky love life. She got married and divorced several times. She took on many lovers, and her heart broken quite a bit. But even through all the pain and heartbreak, Parker new one of the most important lessons of love—it’s essential to stay open and let yourself to be vulnerable. Even when you know it’s going to be scary, and even when you know you might get hurt. It’s better to risk love than to never love at all.

“Take me or leave me, or, as in the usual order of things, both.”

I really enjoy this quote, because I find it applies to most relationships in our lives. We can spend our lives trying to please everyone, but the truth is it’s impossible to make everyone happy at the same time. If anything, Dorothy Parker’s life is a testament to that. It’s much better for us in the long run to be ourselves and let people decide to appreciate us, or to not, or to eventually change their mind about us. It’s not our problem either way, because we’re too busy living our lives, just like Parker.

So happy birthday to Dorothy Parker, one of the most badass babes the planet has ever seen! May her wit and wisdom bring you as much joy as it has to me.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]