If you’re a Jewish person on Twitter, you probably know Sarah Solomon. Or rather, you know her Twitter persona: @UrbanJAP, a parody Twitter account about Jews. Solomon, 29, is now making the transition into IRL writing: her first book, Guac Is Extra But So Am I: The Reluctant Adult’s Handbook, comes out on April 30, 2019.
Shana Tova to everyone but your exes that still watch every damn IG story
— urbanJAP (@urbanJAP) September 9, 2018
There are ten chapters, offering advice on everything from career to dating to weddings to “personal brand.” Solomon’s tone is deeply relatable; for example, on social media, she writes, “One of the most important parts of having an online presence, regardless of its size, is deleting anything that can come back to bite you in the ass.” (Amen.)
“Post grad years are kind of a clusterfuck,” Solomon told Alma, explaining the reason behind her decision to write the handbook. “I would always give my interns advice, and they’re like, oh this is actually helpful,” she explained, and wanted to turn that casual advice into something “easily digestible and funny, with the tone and voice of UrbanJAP.”
“When I really had in mind for the book was including a lot of [other voices]; I really wanted to bring in other people’s advice. The last chapter is really important to me.” That last chapter includes words of wisdom from people ranging from Elizabeth Angell, digital director of Town & Country and Elle Decor, who writes, “Say yes more. Say yes to everything you reasonably can,” to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who writes, ““Get ‘It’ out of your system. That’s right, after you finish college, do every wild, crazy, nutty, instantaneous, outrageous thing you can do because, like Bob Dylan says, ‘when you got nothing you got nothing to lose.’”
It’s intended for everyone from college students to post-grads to those surviving their mid-20s.
In the introduction to a book focused on advice, Solomon quotes her favorite piece of advice, from Jewish comedy queen Joan Rivers: “Listen, I wish I could tell you it gets better. But, it doesn’t get better. You get better.”
“I had that quote pinned to my wall,” she explains. “If I could go back in time, I would tell myself: keep writing. Keep working. One day, it may not feel like it’s working out, but it’s all going to get easier and better. You’re not going to experience instant gratification with your goals or career, and that’s perfectly okay and normal. Shut up and pay attention to those older and wiser than you, and remain relentless in pitching and writing. And for the love of God DO NOT use Craiglist roommates without fully vetting them first. Saving money is important but so is living without crazies.”
The introduction to the book was the most difficult for Solomon to write, because she wanted to get it right.
“I had written everything else first, and I wanted to make the introduction matter. So I forced myself to write it on the notes app on my phone,” she explains. “When I’m anxious about deadlines or have writer’s block, I write with the notes app on the subway because it makes everything feel less precious.” She turned to the writer Melissa Broder as the inspiration for this style of writing; Broder, who Tweets as @SoSadToday, and is the author of The Pisces, would write poems and essays on her iPhone as she commuted.
Solomon also spent time in Riverside Park, where she would bring all her research, not check her phone (especially Twitter), and just write.
The book is dedicated to her Grandma:
“Dedicated to Grandma Eleanor,
the only person who willfully refuses
to acknowledge any of my bad qualities.
I love you more than words can ever express.
Please skip over most of these chapters.”
Why her Grandma? “My grandma is a saint. She’s a former teacher who raised four kids, and she is mine and my cousin’s biggest cheerleader. We call her ‘Saint Eleanor.’ She’s a selfless, amazing woman, and I owe everything to her. She’s definitely the matriarch of our Jewish family.”
When Eleanor found out that her granddaughter dedicated her first book to her, “she was really excited and she cried when she found out.” Solomon explains, I was like wait, don’t cry!” But her grandma reassured her, “they’re happy tears.”
And the rest of her family? “They were just happy I landed a book deal,” Solomon laughs. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve written other things before and they didn’t get picked up.”
She stared urbanJAP back in 2010 — not quite the early days of Twitter (the platform launched in 2006), but new enough to find a space for your voice. As Solomon explains, “It was during a time when Twitter wasn’t new, but there was room to grow a following. You could make a more of an impact back then.”
My weighted blanket is just generations worth of Jewish guilt
— urbanJAP (@urbanJAP) January 28, 2019
“I saw a lot of WASP accounts that kind of poked fun at that lifestyle, [and thought] why aren’t there JAP ones? I kept writing, and it helped me develop my voice.” However, now, “Twitter has become such a negative space. I really feel for anyone who started a few years ago because it’s become such a toxic environment.”
So where does she see the future of the account?
“I see it growing and maturing as a parody and extension of myself. It’s definitely taken on a life of its own but for better or worse it’s still me on the other side of the screen. I definitely tweet from my personal account @sarahsolfails a lot more, but I love my little community of @urbanJAP followers and don’t plan on abandoning them.”
What if hell is just a never ending series of all the “we should get drinks sometime!” plans that never materialized
— Sarah Solomon (@sarahsolfails) March 13, 2019
Her favorite people to follow on Twitter? “A bunch of funny Jews,” she says, laughing. In no particular order, she loves: Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss), Hannah Orenstein (@hannahorens), Kate Hendricks (@katethewasp), Alison Leiby (@alisonleiby), Alyssa Wolff (@alyssawolff) and Alex Edelman (@AlexEdelman).
She hopes, ultimately, what people take away from Guac Is Extra is that “your twenties are trial and error. To go back to the Joan Rivers quote: you’re going to become stronger and more capable.”