Last Saturday was the best in recent memory. I had the chance to attend the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in downtown Chicago and meet Jenny Lawson who many of you know as ‘The Bloggess’. Printer’s Row was the last event on the third leg of Jenny’s book tour and I thought I would have a nervous breakdown when her Sunday appearance sold out in less than a day. I was happy for Jenny that so many people wanted to come see her, but I was a little stabby nonetheless.
Favors were called in and my very sweet friend Stephanie Precourt even tried to get a ticket for me, but luck was on the side of the ticketless misfits because Jenny graciously added a Saturday appearance to her schedule. So on Saturday morning Mom, Dad (he didn’t know what the hell he was getting himself into), and I headed up to Chicago and found Center Stage, where Jenny would be appearing, amid a see of books, authors, publishers, and voracious readers. It was both overwhelming yet wonderful, and I spent a little time browsing before heading back to Center Stage to ensure a spot at the head of the line because I’m selfish like that.
I was glad I arrived early because Jenny had a great opening act: an author named Sapphire who called all her characters ‘motherfuckers’ and probably didn’t realize she was Jenny’s opening act. Anyway, no sooner had Sapphire finished her rant--I mean reading--did Jenny casually walk onto the stage and begin setting up for her reading. It was sort of a pre-show watching Jenny wrap Copernicus the Homicidal Monkey around her microphone and lining up all her pill bottles on the table which created a disturbing yet festive display. One of Jenny’s readers brought up a fan for her since it was unbearably hot and as Jenny fanned herself she said in that sweet Southern voice of hers, “All I need is a pool boy up here.” I thought about volunteering, but nobody wants to see me with my shirt off. Trust me.
When Jenny officially took the stage there were deafening applause of the rock concert variety. Jenny was humble and admittedly surprised by the size of the crowd (over a hundred). For our earhole pleasure, Jenny read “The Psychopath on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door” which also happens to be one of my favorite chapters from her book. She also added little side notes during the reading pertaining to this chapter including “No one told me coffee was a laxative...I know now,” and “Pepto Bismol contacted me. They were not pleased.” The latter was in reference to her being one of the one in six people who’s tongue turns black when they drink the aforementioned antidiarrheal.
The reading was followed by a fun and enlightening Q & A section where Jenny promised to answer anything except algebra questions. I love learning about writers, about how they write and what they read. Jenny answered both questions saying that she loves Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Dorothy Parker. She also explained that, “writing is super lonely which is why I love blogging.” She addressed her anxiety disorder and told us that although she couldn’t always open up to people when she was growing up, “I always felt like I could open up to a book,” which is something a lot of us can relate to I’m sure.
Jenny also informed us that she is working on another book that will focus more on mental illness and self harm. Additionally, she’s writing a children’s book which I can’t wait to buy for my goddaughter (and myself).
The Q&A ended all too soon and I suddenly found myself in the middle of an insanely long signing line. While waiting in line I was able to see Jenny’s great generosity and patience first hand. She talked to everyone, signed everything, and took pictures with all her fans. No one was rushed and it was well worth the wait when I spoke with her. It surprised me how relaxed I was talking to Jenny. I wondered if perhaps I was getting a Xanax contact high since I hadn’t taken any that day, but I think it was just Jenny’s positive and calming aura that just let the words flow out of me so that I could say everything I needed to say to her.
We had a great day at Printer’s Row and I’ll blog about the rest of the day soon, but today I wanted to focus on Jenny and the love she so readily gives to her fans.