Let’s Pretend I’m Really Cool

You should go buy this book.

Last night I got to go see Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) read some of her recent, New-York-Times-Best-Seller-Phenom-Amazing book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” If you’ve never read her, stop reading this immediately and go read her instead. You can come back later when you have the proper amount of humor in your life.

Done? Good.

Anyway, so I was all excited to go to the reading, because she’s hilarious (as you now know), and charming, and I just thought it would be super fun to actually see her in person. I was going solo, so I brought my camera to record all the hub-bub, and write this post to fill you in. Because I care.

I was all ready to be cool, meet some folks, say something kind and witty and flash a winning smile at Jenny while she signed my book and then I’d be on my way, feeling awesome about my ability interact with other humans.

Lovely plan. Slightly deterred by the fact that the second I stepped out of my car all of my social skills seemed to have dropped out of my body on to the pavement, where they were run over by a white truck.

Uh oh.

Not to be shaken, I grabbed my camera and thought, “If I can get in a groove with shooting, I can hide behind the camera and no one will be the wiser.” So I immediately set about taking pictures of the Barnes and Noble store, and the poster hanging in the window. Well, that is to say, I did that after I got myself untangled from whatever sailor’s knot I had unwittingly tied around myself with my camera strap and my purse strap. That struggle lasted longer than you might imagine for an adult.

After fighting my way free of the things I put on my body myself, I popped inside, found the book, wandered around then—lo!—discovered that even though I was nearly an hour early, there were no more seats to be had. The woman is VERY popular. Because she’s kind of kick ass. The fine folks at the Barnes and Noble store were unaware of this, apparently. The 25 chairs they managed to grab from their cousin’s house (I assume) weren’t really going to cut it. So then I scurried over to buy my book (yay!) (oh, wait…dang! Full price hard back is pretty pricey. Oh well. Yay!), and to try to find a good perch.

I came across two lovely ladies that contributed to the HOPE 2012 Relay (hi Shelly and Erica!) and exchanged some awkward mumbling of some kind, but tried to make up for it with a hug. (Hugging makes up for awkwardness, right? Or perhaps it makes for more awkwardness. Shrug.)

And then I took pictures of metal chickens. There were LOTS of chickens. Because of this.

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And after the chickens, I thought I’d take a pic of everyone holding up their books. So I went up front, and said, “Hey, can everyone hold up their books so I can take a picture?” Which everyone seemed on board for, so I should have stopped there, but then I continued, “I mean, you don’t have to…I’m a stranger and you totally don’t have to do what I say,” and a couple of people lowered their books a little, and then I said, “but it’s awesome and you should and so…” and then finally just snapped the picture because I could tell I was losing them because I wouldn’t SHUT MY TALK HOLE.

Let’s back up to the chicken thing. During the Q&A, I managed to raise my hand and ask a somewhat coherent question, which was, “What is your favorite part about publishing a book, and having it sell so well, and now being on tour?” Her answer was basically that she loves the community that has been created around her work and her openness about mental illness (anxiety, depression, OCD, self-harm, etc.). Which brings me back to the chickens. People that read Jenny’s work are in love with her, and with each other. Which might sound strange and cult-y, but it’s not. One of the very first things I noticed is that there’s no judgement in the room. None. People laughed A LOT. They smiled. They took pictures with chickens. They were just open, accepting, and awesome. And that was all before Jenny even got there! It was a weird and magical feeling, and—yeah—I can see why that would be her favorite part. It’s really, really special.

So Jenny read a section of her book (like a boss, I might add), did the Q&A, and then it was time to line up for the signing. It was a LONG line. So, I had a long time to think about the perfect thing to say to make her feel appreciated without being slobbery with my emotions, and funny, but not too funny like I was trying to pander for laughs or anything. I considered telling her about/apologizing for sending her a facebook message in all caps (True story. It seemed like a funny thing to do at the time.), but quickly decided against it.

It’s possible that I was over thinking it, because by the time I got up there, I handed her my book, then just started taking pictures like a paparazzo on meth, then apologized for that, and she said it was okay and that she has photographer friends that do the same thing, and then I kinda didn’t respond because I maybe forgot she was talking to me and then I realized THAT so I said, “Heh. Heh,” which is more sounds than words, and then I said, “It was great meeting you, my name’s Melanie—but you know that because you signed my book—and I know who you are, so there’s that, and travel safely, and thanks for coming to,” and this is the worst part, “SUNNY SAN DIEGO.”(Ohmigod I don’t even say “sunny San Diego.” Like, ever. Because I’m not a 92-year-old man.)

She smiled and said thanks graciously.

And that’s the story of me being SUPER COOL.

(Bonus? When I got home, I ripped the title page trying to remove the post-it. Because I wasn’t done being awesome.)

Okay, tell me stories about you looking being übs cool. Blogging is a two-way street, after all. Get a-drivin’.

Let’s Pretend I’m Really Cool

51 thoughts on “Let’s Pretend I’m Really Cool

  1. You’re post is as hilarious as Jenny herself. Totally bummed I missed her this week. I was all set to go. I even have my book purchased. Then my daughter banged her head on an end table, ruining the plans. She’s fine and I’m still pouting about the book signing. Great pics! I feel like I was there. … We should meet up sometime!


  2. Heh. I sort of think all the people who have been able to keep their shit together at the Jenny Lawesome Tour of Misfits were probably the ones who were spies and clearly were not followers. I can almost guarantee that you fit right in with everyone there thereby making you not-awkward at all.


    1. It’s all about comparison, right? So I think I’ll get a pet squirrel, feed him uppers, and take him everywhere with me. That way, when I do something awkward I can just say, “ohmigosh, did everyone see my squirrel? He is MESSED. UP. Poor little fella,” and I’ll look pretty with it by comparison.

      Good thing I’m a thinker. Got this under control.


  3. I’m so glad to hear how a booksigning of the legend that is Jenny went. I felt so awkward, I chickened out and didn’t even go. Granted, it was in Denver (and I’m not), and raining-ish, but it was doable. But, it was on a Monday (don’t we all just hate Mondays?) and I’d have had to go by myself. I pictured a line around the block starting hours earlier and the place stuffed beyond capacity and hyperventilated just thinking about it. She is a rock star. But, I’ve felt sad ever since because I had the chance and let fear (and work) keep me from doing something I really, really wanted to do. So, having awkward moments are absolutely nothing beside not even being able to get yourself to the event to be awkward. Maybe I need a metal chicken or some humanely taxidermied critter to boost my self-esteem.

    To Kimberly who left a comment, I read a lot of blogs all the time but I don’t “follow” them or even subscribe because I find it easier to just bookmark them and check to see if there’s a new post. So, maybe you have a lot more readers than you think. I know I don’t, but I just started and it makes it a little easier for me knowing that probably no one is reading it anyway, so I might as well be totally honest. Not exactly there yet, but soon.


    1. Here’s an interesting note for you: Jenny said that she has incredible amounts of anxiety during all of her appearances (she actually said she took too many anti-anxiety meds before coming out and she felt high—so funny). I mention it, just because she’s pushing through anyway. I’ve been thinking a lot about doing things even when I’m scared or intimidated or whatever. I’m not *actually* doing that yet, but I’m thinking about it.


  4. Awesome, Melanie!

    I’m SO exactly like you! I always try to think of the EXACT perfect thing to say and then end up mumbling unintelligibly. I do this for ALL situations, including when something horrible happens, like if someone dies or finds out they have cancer. And then I say the MOST wrong thing I could possibly say, and regret it forever and every time I think of it I cringe and beg God to please erase it from my memory.



    1. I want me to have my own television show, too. I guess I should probably write something. That seems like the logical first step. (Also, I have yet to watch Girls but it’s totally the “it” show. Disappointing for you?)


  5. I just wrote a beautiful, vulnerable comment about how we are sisters in awkwardness and you are a talented writer and Jenny is awesome but the internet just ATE IT and now I’m going to hide in the corner and cry. Just know it’s out there somewhere.


  6. normalfornorfolk says:

    I am so terminally uncool, I just stay out of the way. I would probably made my boyfriend go and get my book signed while I hovered in the doorway. I think the most painfully uncool thing I have ever done is come inches away from having an accident when I desperately needed the loo (and we’re not talking wee wee’s)….Oh yes, that was me…..having so much fun I nearly c!*pped myself…..


      1. normalfornorfolk says:

        lol Tell me about it! I have to laugh about it though, because if I didn’t tell people, my boyfriend would…He is good like that… :-)


  7. Melanie, you’re hilarious and a talented writer – I know one when I see one. :) I too am SUPER awkward, but I’ve learned to embrace it – like, if we’re meeting and you’re a totally normal not-insecure person, I giggle, say something inappropriate (not “funny inappropriate,” but something that has absolutely no bearing on reality/the present situation), then proceed to act like you’re the one with the problem. That’s how I cope; laugh about it. Sometimes later on the other person admits “whoa, I had no idea you were nervous, you seemed fine,” which just reflects on what a totally messed up place my head is.
    ANYWAY, I am so excited on your behalf you got to meet Jenny! I am very angry at myself for not skipping work and driving down to San Diego to see her. Stupid job. Maybe she’ll come back to Los Angeles???? In any case, thank you for sharing.
    And if we ever meet, I will give you an awkward hug and then we can joke about each other’s insecurities and it will totally not be weird at all, because we both understand.
    Wow, this is not a comment – it’s a novel. I shouldn’t be allowed on the internet if I haven’t slept.


    1. I say, the more awkward hugs the better. I mean, if you’re gonna have them, you might as well have a LOT of them, right? Thumbs up. (And yes, you totally should have skipped work. Maybe you should skip work today to make up for it. Though this might not be the best career advice you’ll ever get.)


  8. Great story! I once embarrassed myself in front of Randy Travis, which in light of recent events is something I no longer feel embarrassed about. So maybe Jenny will get arrested in the buff to the benefit of your self-esteem. Before I get hate mail, just kidding!

    I bet you were tons cooler than you think. I happen to think you’re pretty cool. I wouldn’t say uber cool, but that’s a spot reserved entirely for David Bowie in my book.


  9. Kelly Fig Smith says:

    Ok. That was funny as hell. I can so relate! Remind me to tell you about meeting Adam Duritz sometime. I will brill . . . ;)


  10. You lady are TOTALLY hilarious. I have many similar-ish stories to yours, many of which seem to have occurred within a job interview setting. Yep. Not a place where you need to be cool as such, but perhaps at least appear a little teeny bit together. (For context I am an academic) The story that springs to mind is the time I went for an interview and a friend of mine was on the interview panel (think that sounds advantageous? Think again and read on). I arrived at the interview laden down with three heavy bags containing laptop, my entire work history, cv, articles I’d published etc (just in case I forgot what I’d been doing for the past 15 years lol) to be met by the very senior person who would be my boss if I got the job. I fumbled about for so long picking up the bags he carried them for me, commenting on their weight. I went into the room and saw my friend, and the awkwardness of the situation hit home. I had to find a balance between my interview persona and the real, ridiculous, haphazard me. You can guess which way the balance tipped… I proceeded to stumble over my responses to fairly straightforward questions that I have answered many, many times in interviews (I’m employed on short term contracts, I hasten to add). As I stuttered along talking gibberish I noticed a magpie outside, which I am embarrassed to say, I saluted. In an interview. I waved at a bird in an interview to stave off bad luck. Sigh. Not content with that I went on to fiddle about with my pen (why was I holding a pen? To note down extra long questions? To prepare my answers before responding? Or as an opportunity to make myself look a fool? I think you know…). I have a weird tendency to occasionally and entirely unintentionally fire my pen from my hand like a rocket for no apparent reason. I’ve done this in lecture theatres (as a student) and watched, along with 100 fellow students as the pen tumbled noisily like a waterfall down the steps. And now I’ve done in an interview. The pen flew through the air and landed under the table. Ok, embarrassing, but clearly not embarrassing enough for me. So I crawled under the table, right under, to retrieve it. Let me remind you that I wanted this job. The interview panel, including my friend, were incredulous. I think I made an impression though because I got the job! I probably have my friend to thank for that. I imagine she tried to reassure the boss that I am not completely unprofessional. I don’t know because we rarely speak of it. I still blush just thinking about it. :-D


  11. The hugging totally made up for, what I assumed, was *my* solo awkwardness. haha After you walked away to take pictures, I was mentally scolding myself for not coming up with a single conversation starter…but that’s just not within my capabilities. Great job with the pictures! I totally didn’t hear you ask us to hold up our books…I’m glad I’m not in that picture looking like a goober hugging my book to my body while I sat nervously waiting and not paying attention to anything going on around me. But I *was* happy to see my Jefferson Peabody cross stitch still chilling on the table for your signing!


  12. That was the most entertaining recount of a book reading I’ve ever read. Only you (with a little help from Jenny) could make something so seemingly blah a fascinating account of people trying to connect with one another, to various degrees of hilarity and success.


  13. heysheila says:

    I saw Jenny in Austin, and you’re right she is charming. People respect her for the openness that is her {and her blog}, and we want to be together to feel what it’s like to be close to her.
    Someday I’ll share a story with you about how super cool I am, but I’ve got to narrow it down yo. I’m torn between the time I ripped my pants at work and when I fell up the stairs in front of my boyfriend now husband. Stay tuned…


      1. Ok. Here goes. Ripped Pants.

        I had just gotten a new job in a local restaurant. Basically I was making pizza a few shifts each week and waitressing as well, just not at the same time – this was a classy place to work folks it was in a lovely old building with hardwood floors, and an open kitchen. My first solo pizza shift after training was for a busy lunch. I made the first pizza, placed it in the pizza oven and moved on the the next order. When said pizza was done I pulled it out with pizza board, and promptly flipped it over cheese side down on the waffle floor mat. It was a huge mess. And too hot to scoop up right away. I looked at it in shock then calmly alerted the waitress to let the customer know there had been a mishap and I would re-make their pizza. See, when you work in an open kitchen there is just no excuse for shouted expletives. And if that wasn’t enough embarrassment for one day, I bent down to start cleaning it up, and R – I – P there went the seam up the back of my pants {or was it down?}. Luckily I worked with a really nice guy who saw the whole thing, and instead of laughing {which is what I would have done} he asked me if I brought a jacket with me or anything else I could tie around my waist. Brilliant. I worked at that restaurant for four years, good thing first impressions can be overlooked.


  14. Hey, I go through this every time I write a blog post! At least you have people that follow you and read you regularly (like 500+)! I’ve almost convinced myself to take down my “join me” widget because it’s starting to effect my self-esteem! The peeps that I follow come check me out but they usually never join:-( I must not be their “cup of tea”!


    1. A couple of things to make you feel better (not that you asked, but still): a) the follow count here includes all of my Facebook connections, since I use WordPress’s “Publicize.” b) Your google follow counts won’t include people that subscribe via RSS, (which is how I usually follow blogs) so there may be a lot of readers you don’t know about. c) it’s impossible to write to make people happy/get followers/win the awesomeness contest, so you just gotta write to write and let whatever happens happen.

      Keep your chin up, and your fingers on the damn keys. *high five*


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