I saw the Bloggess!!
(an unintentional homage to Jenny Lawson)
I don’t mean to be a name dropper but I’ve seen my share of celebrities over the years. When I was 16 my parents sold our house to Garrison Keillor. I had no idea who he was but my grandfather sure thought he was the shit! I used to babysit Nick Swardson of Grandma’s Boy and Reno 911 and bunch of other movies. I ate lunch in the same restaurant as that woman who sang the song Downtown…. what’s her name*??? And, I stood behind Kevin Garnett or maybe it was Kevin McHale** at the Giant Slide at the MN State Fair once. So, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some pretty well known celebrities, I don’t get star struck very easily. At least I didn’t until I learned Jenny Lawson was coming to town to promote her new book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.
In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety?
I learned she was coming a couple of months ago and immediately put it on my calendar. She was going to be at the University of Mn Bookstore in Coffman Union – a place had I spent maybe less time in I might have actually graduated after 7 years. Maybe. Anyway, I know Coffman, I could do this.
And at the time it seemed so simple. How can attending a book signing be a challenge you ask?
Because, like The Bloggess, I also have a fair amount of anxiety. It isn’t crippling but it gets in the way of a lot of things and makes them much harder. It’s gotten much worse over the years as I’ve isolated myself more and more. At the end of the day, 7pm for this event, the last thing I want to do is go out, even if it’s for something I really want to do.
Does that even make sense?
So, by 7pm the idea of getting in the car, driving to campus, finding a place to park and then walking in late to the event (because I will be late, trust me) doesn’t sound like fun to me no matter who is there.
I even tried to justify not going by telling myself that of all people, The Bloggess will understand. She knows what it’s like to take to bed for a couple of days (I don’t, I’m a single mom and my kids still expect me to feed them and drive them to school and yell at them for not changing the toilet paper roll. If I were to take to bed I’d have to call one of their dads and there’s no way either of them would step in. In fact one of them would probably threaten to seek custody if I were to ask.) so she’d be totally ok with it if I didn’t show up.
No, she doesn’t know me (though she did wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook last year because, you know, we’re FB friends), she had no idea that I was going to be there so why I felt bad for not going to her event I really don’t know. I’d already bought her book (and you should to, you can get it here) so what more could she want from me?
Sheesh, she’s demanding!
I forced myself to go anyway. As I said before I’ve been isolating myself for a while now and it’s getting old. I know I should go out and spend time with people my own age so I’m really thinking about making an effort. This seemed like a great opportunity a few months ago. Now that it was here not so much. Besides, even though I know I should get out more it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t really like people that much so I’m not really sure where the payoff is. Anyway, I forced myself out of the house, into the car, on to the freeway, and into the parking garage where I thought I got a really good spot because it was right by the entrance to the parking garage and I could see Coffman Union just across a short walking bridge. The trouble was the parking garage is on sea level, or down by the river, while Coffman is on top of the hill. I had to walk up about 15 flights of stairs (okay, 4) to get to the main level entrance of Coffman. By the time I got to the top I was so winded I was sure I was going to pass out and even had to fake a phone call outside before I walked in.
When I got to the bookstore (in the basement so I’ve basically come full circle but thank God they had an escalator) the event had already begun and there was no place to sit or stand. I made a beeline for the only spot I could find that was not going to get me called out for being late. I stood between a rather large Norwegian man with red hair and some women who looked as though they majored in Women’s Studies. I immediately dug in my purse to find my phone so I could take pictures but got distracted wondering if I left my keys in the car knowing full well I locked the car because my son gets upset with me for leaving it unlocked.
Now I had to find my keys.
Except when I tried to open my purse I got my sweater caught on the zipper and now I couldn’t move without pulling the thread out even more which happened to be right under my arm and the last thing I wanted to do was lose the arm of my sweater while trying to quietly and politely listen to Jenny Lawson talk about passing out at the gynecologist office. She kept repeating the word vagina which I don’t mind but while I’m at this event I’m composing this blog post and I fear using the word ‘vagina’ is just going to get more strange traffic here because believe it or not 70% of my traffic comes from people searching for the word ‘vagina’ and usually something really strange like ‘with teeth’. So, I’m worried about her excessive use of the word vagina and I still haven’t managed to free myself from my purse.
Of course I’m sweating at this point.
Everyone is laughing, the room us beginning to spin a little and I’m wondering how long do I have to stay here before I can leave without being obvious.
The answer is I can’t so I try to make the best of it and search for my phone again so I can get some pictures. I pull out my phone but realize no one else is taking pictures. I figure I must have missed the announcement about not taking pictures because there is no way a room full of younger women can resist taking pictures of anything.
And then I see one of the Women’s Studies woman pull out here phone and start taking pictures.
I take half a dozen grainy pictures (actually only three, and they all pretty much suck but I didn’t want to get busted for taking pictures when I wasn’t supposed to — though, I’m not sure if that was a rule or if people were just really polite) before I see the sign in front of me that says “This line for people who have already purchased a book” or something similar. In my haste to go unnoticed I got into the priority line for people who purchased the book in advance and bought a ticket to get first in line for a signing. I have purchased a book but not through the U of M bookstore. I got mine at Barnes and Noble and it was currently sitting on my dining room table, probably with a cat on top of it.
I have to get out of here. I already know I’m not going to stand in line for three hours to get the book signed (obviously, because it’s at home with a cat on it). I could buy a book and get it signed but I’m going to be last in line because I’m Minnesotan and even though I have budged into the first part of the line I’ll feel too guilty if I stay here (even though there isn’t any other place for me to go at this point).
I’m freaking out and now my phone is vibrating in my purse. It’s my 12 year old daughter who wants to know where I am and can I pick up some food on the way home? I tell her yes but feel bad that I am leaving even though I wasn’t really here, and am looking for an excuse to leave.
Something as simple as a book reading/signing should not cause so much anxiety that I need to go home (after picking up something to eat for the daughter, of course), but it does. I feel bad about it, again. This is not the first time I’ve left something because I started to sweat or my stomach started doing flip flops and my chest got all tight. It probably won’t be the last time either.
I’m upset with myself for leaving (though on the way out I purchase another book) but am actually pretty proud I even came out because I nearly talked myself out leaving the house.
If you’ve made it this far and would like a chance to win an unsigned copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, Furiously Happy please leave a comment below.
Apparently I have a fair amount of anxiety, and sometimes it wins. Also, book giveaway, leave a comment.
* Petula Clark
** It was Kevin McHale, though I had to google it to see which one he was.