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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Bloggess book tour: Could you hear me laughing all the way in San Jose?

Have you ever heard of the game where you create an imaginary/dream guest list for your ultimate dinner party? The 6-10 people you'd want to invite can be living, dead, or even fictional characters. Well, ever since I discovered her blog, Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) has been on my short list of people I'd love to sit down and have dinner with or at the very least, meet someday.

You can see how happy I was that it actually happened!

Hubby often points out the cartoons of me have closed eyes. I always tell him that's what my eyes look like when I smile really big. ↑ Proof

I tweeted a bit while waiting for the event to begin so I've included the tweets in this post.

Her book tour for the paperback edition of Let's Pretend This Never Happened was scheduled to begin yesterday at 7:00 PM. I got there at 3:00 PM to beat any rush hour traffic and to get a good seat.

The first thing I did was purchase a copy of her #1 New York Times Best Selling book.

Then I got me some classy snacks. I hadn't had a mocha in probably a year but it was a special occasion so I indulged.

I assessed the seating situation. There was a table and chair for her. . .

. . . and 16 chairs, four of which were reserved, for the audience. I took a seat in the second row and saved one for my friend Keith who was meeting me when he got off work.

For the first two hours I was on my own. Eventually others began arriving around 5:00 PM. Melody, to the left of Keith, was the second person to show up. We had fun chatting as the seats slowly filled up.

It seemed like EVERYONE who arrived looked at the 16 chairs and said "Um, do they realize how many people are going to show up for this?" The funny thing is, they did. I heard two employees talking and one said to the other that 50-200 people usually show up for Jenny's book tour stops.

Eventually a microphone was brought out and set beside the table.

And a pile of Sharpies and some stickers appeared.

When an iced soda was added to the table it felt even more exciting because we knew she must be in the building.

Around the same time I started to feel shaky, like I was about to have an anxiety attack. At first I thought I was just excited. Then I started wondering if I was channeling Jenny because I knew wherever she was she was probably having an anxiety attack at the thought of having to come out and speak. Then it occurred to me that it was probably all of the caffeine in the Frappucino. Of it may have been a combination of all of the above.

I wanted to give her a gift because she's brought not just laughter to my life but also a sense of compassion and understanding.

Like Jenny I also have anxiety issues and we both suffer from depression. Thankfully we both figured out there's no shame in seeking out help. I haven't had a severe bout of depression for over a decade and hope I never do again. My anxiety flares up rarely and only momentarily. I can recognize what it is when it happens now and am able to wait and let it pass.

That Jenny openly and honestly shares what her experiences are like on her blog has been part of the magic of how people are able to relate to her.  When you suffer from different types of mental illnesses you think you're the only one and society has always dictated you should feel ashamed. But Jenny makes it ok because she makes people realize they're not alone, though she credits her readers who leave supportive comments for making other readers feel less judged and more accepted. The simple truth is she and her blog give hope to the hopeless and because of that, she is helping to improve and save lives.

By 6:00 the place was filling up. The 16 seats had grown to 20 when an additional row was added. This created one front row seat that wasn't reserved. I pointed this out as I told Keith he's lucky I'm such a good friend or I'd ditch him for that primo seat. Suddenly it was like we were on Survivor but instead of voting me off the island everyone voted me to the front row since I'd been there the longest.

As we waited Keith got bored so he took out a Sharpie and began filling in the Reserved signs with names of people who he thought might/could/should show up like Will WheatonNathan Fillion, The Doctor, and The Companion (who turned out to be her sister.) HA!

Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, it did :D

So from this, our group of 20 chairs, the crowd grew to this. . .

There was easily more than 100 fans in attendance.

This is the picture Jenny took when she came out. There were even more people to the right, a whole pile of them. The place was packed! And for once I didn't mind being photographed probably because I was high on life and still feeling a little wacky from the buzz I got from that Grande Frapuccino. It's also the reason I'm still awake and writing this post at 3:00 AM the following morning.

That's Keith one row behind me and to the left of me. And our friends Jon and Tamzen were there too. If you know them they're tiny but I think you'll be able to spot them in the crowd.

The Bloggess: Inappropriate in more ways than one but not always her fault.

The first thing Jenny told us was that she was about to embark on "The most drunk book reading ever" because she thought the drive to Eastridge would take much longer than it did. So instead of wearing off in time, she arrived a bit buzzed. But if she hadn't told us I don't think anyone would have known because we were all laughing too hard to notice.

And it wasn't lost on the audience that some of the evening's inappropriateness was because  Barnes & Noble had set her up right in front of the children's department, note the Barnes & Noble Jr. sign over her shoulder. Now, there's one thing that anyone who's ever read her blog or book knows and that is that Jenny swears a lot LOT. She gave fair warning that the profanity was about to commence and warned parents with kids they might want to exit before the reading began. Oddly, there were two groups of kids who not only stayed but seemed to be watching her presentation. With the final words "Sorry kids, you're about to learn a lesson" she began reading "The Psychopath on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door."

And then we laughed and laughed. We laughed out loud. Some laughed until they cried. What we all learned is that The Bloggess is as funny in person as she is to read. She is storyteller + comedian + performer in perfect portions. Her anxiety to public speak and be amongst her fans is what makes her really real in a human, connecting, and endearing way no matter how many time she said "poo" or "hippopotamus" (code for curse words a book store once imposed upon her).

Along with the kids another small audience member was Jenny's famous, haunted, stuffed monkey Copernicus.

After the reading she had a Q&A session. A few things that intrigued me most were:
  • There's an extra chapter on the audio version of Let's Pretend This Never Happened. It was cut from the book but she snuck it back into the recording. *Note to self: Purchase audio book.*
  • She was tricked into singing all of the chapter titles on her audio book. LOL
  • Her next book is due out in 2014 and is a light hearted look at mental illness. Turns out writing an entire book about mental illness is harder than one would think but I have every confidence in her that not only will she succeed, it'll be another best seller. So many people will be able to relate and that's a good thing.
  • Victor (her husband) is even more exasperated more of the time than she lets on in her blog or the book. And she never writes about any situation that is ongoing. Beyonce? She wrote that post weeks after it happened.
  • One in ten people experience their tongue turning black when they use Pepto Bismol. Jenny is in that special 10% group. *Note to self: Buy Pepto Bismol to see if my tongue turns black too.*
  • That her favorite mantra when she's scared that she isn't good enough to do something was given to her by author Neil Gaimen when she was attempting to record her audio book. As the director called "cut" again and again it was Neil telling her on the phone to "Pretend you're good at it" and the next thing she knew, she was. She'd even written it on her arm before coming out to speak because like most of us, public speaking is something she doesn't think she's good at. I, and I suspect everyone in the audience last night, would beg to differ.
  • Her explanation of ethical taxidermy which means she does her best to verify that the animals she collects died from natural causes before they were preserved. BTW, her dad is a professional taxidermist so she grew up around stuffed animals. 
  • She is hoping to get a pony service animal. She also wants to put little sneakers with wheels on its hooves so if it gets scared when she takes it on a plane she can just pull it down the aisle.

The Flirty Girl meets The Bloggess!

She seriously has the best smile ever. It's warm and welcoming and she gave one to every person in line. She was fantabulous! Her sister Lisa took this photo of us together with my camera so I told her I'd give her a photo credit :D

Jenny signed all kinds of stuff including books, a t-shirt, an e-reader, and a shipping box for Keith's Penis Reduction Pills. She was soooooooooo AWESOME.

As I walked away I looked in my purse for my keys and realized I'd been so star struck to meet her I forgot to give her the gift I'd brought. Doh! I had to go back and sneak it to her between signings.

On my way out I noticed the display that was piled high with books when I arrived looked like a pack of book wolves had ravaged it.

Thank you Barnes & Noble Eastridge for hosting The Bloggess, curse words and all. It was a singularly fun experience that I hope you'll repeat next year when her second book comes out.

Phoenix Arizona she'll be at your Barnes and Noble at the Desert Ridge Marketplace tonight on the last day of her current tour. CLICK HERE for all of the details then go and have fun!

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