I started Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened when I boarded the plane for New York City for BlogHer ’12. And I just finished it today (almost 4 months later). I stalled on completing it because I was afraid it would make me suicidal to see how funny and excellent her writing is.
So, as soon as I read the last page, I called 911 and told the operator that I was despondent because there was no point in living any more, even for my passion– writing– because Jenny Lawson had already done everything worth doing in her recent memoir and her wildly popular blog.
The operator asked me if I had a family. “What about them?” I asked. The operator seemed to think that maybe I should consider living for them, instead of being a selfish coward by doing myself in just because Jenny Lawson is funnier than I am, had a wackier childhood, has a much more colorful array of stuff to write about, and is staggeringly talented.
“But, I grew up in boring old Dallas. My parents’ hobbies were 12-step meetings, antique-ing, and collecting wooden statues of praying monks. I can’t compete with taxidermy; Wall, Texas; and wire chickens!”
The operator was not impressed with my plaintive cries.
“Actually, collecting wooden statues of monks praying is the same thing as antique-ing, so really they only have 2 hobbies between them. Goddamn it! It’s worse than I thought.”
911 operators are really obsessed with family. She kept bringing the conversation back to my children– “how old are they? what are their names?”
I hate being distracted from my pain, so I answered her questions and steered the conversation back to Ms. Lawson, the darling of the blogging world, who is not only wildly successful, but by all accounts, sounds nice as hell.
I read every single word. Even the acknowledgements were hilarious, and turns out that Ms. Lawson thanked Brene Brown, whose book I read a few weeks ago. Those two know each other? If I lived in Texas, could I be friends with them? When I thought about how sad I would feel if I lived in Texas and wasn’t friends with Ms. Lawson and Ms. Brown, I started feeling depressed again, but didn’t call 911, but that operator should not have been so shaming to me. I was in pain. I thought 911 operators were trained to deal with “cries for help.”
Of all the bloggers-turn-book-writers I have read, and I try to hit them all, there is something about Ms. Lawson’s that got me the most. I know I wasn’t supposed to be crying at the end of those stories about her smuggling a stuffed alligator or being attacked by wild dogs, but I was.
Because she did something magical in her memoir, something I don’t know if I will ever be able to do. But, with her book as my north star (or white whale, if you prefer), I will trudge through the rough drafts and crappy blog posts. Because she set the bar almost higher than I can see, but not so high I’m not willing to make a running leap for it.
I guess she’s an idol of sorts, even though my first two books are fiction and not supposed to be funny, unless I find an agent who thinks they are hysterical, in which case, comedies– they are totally comedies.
As for Ms. Lawson’s book, you should read it– it’s seriously funny and light without being vapid and the writing is sharp and insightful. I want you to read it and love it, but before you tell me how much you love it, just be sure I have taken all my medication and can tolerate your gushing over her.