Subtitle: Sometimes it pays to have ADD.
So, yesterday was a big day for me. I went to a book signing to meet one of my idols, Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess (<—click that link if you want to read one of the funniest blogs you’ll ever read, but with this caveat: the woman swears like a sailor on death row with Tourretes. You have been warned). She recently published her first memoir. She has worked on it for ten years, and it has now spent as many weeks (or thereabouts) on the NYT Bestseller list. She pushed through all her fears, ADD, and anxieties and made it happen, which is beyond inspirational to me. And last night was her very last stop on the very last leg of her very long book tour. And she happened to be? In Seattle.
So, of course we drove out to the Costco in North Seattle where the book signing would happen…
Lolly planned to do some Costco shopping anyway, and then we thought we could get dinner there and make an awesome night of it. Cuz, you know, Friday night at Costco? That’s… basically the only thing you can look forward to in your early 30’s with three kids. (I accidentally just wrote “two kids.” Wonder which of my children my subconscious just forgot existed.)
I was actually pretty nervous. And the van was incredibly hot. And we were all uncomfortable. And Lolly was making me film everything for her Vlog endeavors (get ready for some scintillating footage of us in a hot car. We are seriously the most boring people on the planet. Knowing Lolly she’ll make it interesting somehow, though.)
We arrived and I got in the long line that wound up and down several aisles. About one minute in, I realized my phone was at 1%. Really? I’m about to meet one of my favorite writers, someone truly inspirational and iconic in my life, and my phone is going to die in line so that I can’t take a picture?
I snapped one shot of me in line, then posted a quick tweet about where I was and how lame it was my phone was dying.
Then my phone died.
I was cool with it at first, and I even thought that maybe they wouldn’t have allowed photos anyway. But that just made it so that when I got to the front of the line and I saw that there was a lady there for the express purpose of taking pictures with people’s phones I was sorely, sorely disappointed. I was already nervous, but then the beating myself up for not remembering to charge my phone became all consuming. That old familiar ADD voice, saying things like “why are you so stupid? You knew this was important. Why didn’t you remember to plug it in? You’ll never get this opportunity again, and you blew it. When will you ever learn?” By the time I got to the line I was a total mental disaster, which made my encounter with Jenny totally… awkward. Thankfully she’s probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met. I’m not even joking. She was so upbeat and nice, and pretended she didn’t even notice I was a total freak. It must have been hard. Here. Let me just transcribe our conversation:
Jenny: Hi there!
Me: How are you?
Jenny: I’m so good! Thanks for asking!
Me: *awkwardly hands her the book* (They had had someone come around and write down our names on a post-it so Jenny could spell people’s names right.)
Jenny (seeing my name on the post it): Oh, I know you!
Me (stunned that she recognized my name): Yeah, hi! …How’s it going?
Jenny: I’m so good! This has ben so fun!
Me: *tries to think of a way to recover from asking “how are you?” twice in five seconds but instead can’t stop thinking “YOU FORGOT TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE, DUMMY!” over and over and over*
Jenny (signing the book): Can you believe how many people came to Costco for this? It kind of blows my mind.
Me: *tries to think of something cool to say, but can’t stop thinking “YOU FORGOT TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE!!” over and over and over and over*
Jenny: I feel like I should be handing out samples. Like maybe ripping pages from my book and just giving them to people.
Me: Totally. You can just use mine if you want!
Jenny (laughs): Perfect!
Me: *tries to think of a way to recover from basically saying I wanted her to tear my copy of her bestseller to shreds and hand it to strangers as samples, but can’t stop thinking “YOU FORGOT TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE!!!” over and over and over and over instead*
Jenny: Well, it was nice to meet you in person, finally!
Me: You too! *awkwardly stumbles away*
I’m not even exaggerating. That’s pretty much exactly how the conversation went down. As you can see, Jenny Lawson is incredibly sweet. And I am incredibly distractible and awkward and self-punishing.
I seriously spent the next ten minutes walking around Costco in a daze of disappointment. Disappointment that I hadn’t charged my dang phone, and disappointed that in meeting someone I idolize a bit, I’d been so distracted that I didn’t get to tell her how awesome I think she is. I had that conversation play back in my head in blog-form and I was like “this will be the saddest blog post ever.”
But then, angels sang…
I remembered that Lolly had had us bring the video camera!
Now, I’m not the kind of person who feel comfortable being an “exception.” I don’t like asking special favors, and I don’t like drawing attention to myself at all. I’m a rule-follower, and I prefer to blend into the background. But, I found Loll and I was like “do you think I should go back over there and ask if she’ll let me record us? I mean, I’ll likely never get this chance again. Carpe Diem, right?” She said I should go for it.
I was still unsure, but the thing that made me actually do it was Jenny herself, even though this might sound totally cheesy. If you’ve ever seen her speak (which I have online), you know that one of the things she advocates is to do the crazy impulse that crosses your mind! Do that silly thing you think of because you only live one time, and you have to seize and create the good moments in order to make life the amazing, joyful thing it’s meant to be. I remembered that, and it made perfect sense. This was one of those moments for me, and how fitting was it that it involved her?
I grabbed the camera, and headed back over there. When I got back to her table, the line had ended. People had started breaking things down. I stood there sheepishly, but then someone said “go ahead” and pushed me towards her table and there I was talking to Jenny again, explaining how I’d let my phone battery die and how I’d been beating the crap out of myself for not getting a picture, and would she feel comfortable if I recorded us?
Her response? “Of course! Let’s pretend to be angry pandas!”
I guess I’ll let the footage speak for itself.
Isn’t she awesome? And that’s not to mention the fact that that was the second time we did that, because the first time I’d been so flustered that I hadn’t pressed “record” when I handed it to the lady. (That’s why I sarcastically called myself the coolest person ever, for the record. Awkward things to say on camera FTW!)
It was really a neat moment. I loved that I got that footage, of course, but I also love that I was able to go back and be more myself, and connect for a few seconds in a more authentic way.
Thank you, Jenny, for being so incredibly nice, and for letting me have a “The Bloggess” moment of my very own where I got to do something crazy and spontaneous and nerve-racking, and it became an awesome moment that I’ll probably remember forever.
Also, as I was walking away, this guy came up to me and was like “hey, did you want to try to get a picture? Because I have a phone charger on me…” So we busted out my phone and put it into his portable charger (which I didn’t realize existed), and as we were talking I realized “Wait, is this Victor?” (Victor is Jenny’s husband.) So, I asked him, and it was him! The charger didn’t end up working, but seriously, the guy was a total champ, and meeting him was an added bonus. I honestly don’t know if I’ve met nicer people.
Anyway, the lessons:
1. Jenny Lawson is one of those people you meet in real life who is as nice and pretty and funny and cool as they are online.
2. Victor is awesome as well.
3. Sometimes ADD makes things complicated, but sometimes it has its own rewards, too.
4. #3 isn’t true unless you’re willing to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone.
5. Pandas, T-Rexes and velociraptors have a great deal in common.