Taxidermy, Red Dresses, Laughter: Jenny Lawson
I’ve been sitting here for a good thirty minutes trying to find a way to describe to you the awesomeness that is Jenny Lawson — a.k.a., The Bloggess — author of the book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
If I tell you about how funny she is — so funny that her posts move me beyond laughter to that really embarrassing snorting thing that happens sometimes — I might potentially minimize how, sometimes, she writes with such brutal, vulnerable honesty, the breath disappears from my lungs. (Like this post.)
And then there’s the kindness. She is a vast, compassionate soul who reaches out to strangers online to share inspiration (in the form of a red dress) or to donate holiday gifts for strangers when money is too tight.
Jenny has the ability to make really weird sh*t happen in the very best way possible.
Which is why I’m having a devil of a time describing her in any coherent way. And which is why I’ll just rely on the overused (to the point that it’s almost meaningless) “awesome.” But I mean awesome in the true way: “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear; extremely good; excellent.”
Jenny has an event at Austin’s BookPeople tonight, so in a few hours, Dave and I will be standing in front of her. I’m at a total loss for words that will allow me to talk to her without sounding like an idiot. Things I think but will not say to her face:
If I could write just one blog post like you, I would be happy forever. Forever.
Remember when you made that whole Wil Wheaton collating papers thing happen? That was awesome.
Ohmygod. The red dress thing is so beautiful. Don’t you feel like a princess in that red dress and isn’t it so cool that women all over are, like, busting out and wearing red dresses and feeling pretty?! And ohmygod, wouldn’t it be awesome to have, like, a professional stylist do you up for a red carpet thing just one time so you could look like a celebrity just for one day. That would be so cool. OMG! You look so pretty in that red dress.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I need to figure out what I’m really going to say. It will probably be along the (boring but earnest) lines of “Thank you.”
If you’re unfamiliar with The Bloggess, her blog is a free-for-all of awesomeness, an antidote to the somewhat normal(ish) stuff she writes for other publications, like Good Mom/Bad Mom on the Houston Chronicle and a parenting column on The Stir. Her personal posts often include painfully hilarious interactions with her husband Victor, as well as her cats Posey, Rolly, and Ferris Mewler. There is also, somewhat inexplicably, a varied cast of humanely taxidermied animals. You see? It’s all kerflooey yet somehow makes sense.
Tonight she’s reading from her new book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I’m picking up my copy this afternoon, and I can’t wait to lose myself in her stories. I’m not the only one; People magazine gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars.
I’m writing this post because I want you to know about Jenny — read her blog, maybe pick up her book — but I also want you to find inspiration in what she does. She’s flawed in beautiful ways, and she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s written about her almost unbearable social anxiety but she keeps attending conferences and book signings. She battles depression, but she keeps finding the humor in life and writing about it. She feels insecure, but she decks herself out in a red dress and helps other women try it, too.
I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies. I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be. And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”. Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better. Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.
A wonderful conversation between Jenny and Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection (from our book club!)
Jenny on “How To Beat Anxiety” on Oprah.com(“… we all have stories in our lives worth passing down, stories that may or may not involve surviving brutal vampire-cougar attacks but that can make a lonely child—or adult—feel so much less alone.”)