And then Jenny Lawson and I pretended to be angry pandas together…

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.

This is the face you make when your phone is going to die any second, apparently.

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.


  1. Oh my goodness Josh, we totally share a brain- I think I have lived that same scenario (of a dead battery at a critical moment, not pretending pandas at Costco) seventeen dozen times! The rigors of KEEPING TRACK of a cell phone, let alone staying on top of CHARGING it… EVERY DAY… with ADD…. what was I saying?
    I have a whole fleet of guardian angels in charge of my cell phone and wallet, I leave them all over town and always seem to end up with a dead battery at the most critical moments!
    Love the post!

    Lisa Huish

    1. You don't ever have to be disappointed at a dead phone and missed photo op again! Just ask the nearest stranger to snap a pic of you on their phone and beg them to email you (which they can likely do on the spot from their phone as well!)

  2. May I add another "I LOVE this!" too?
    So happy for you that you captured this moment of pure mortal awkwardness and joy:)
    I really am beginning to think I have ADD.
    Love to you and Lolly.
    My first WEED post!!!!!
    Yeah, baby!

  3. I've always been afraid of meeting someone famous, or someone who I really admire (or both), because I'm sure I'd be just like that. The encounter would go like this.

    Famous person: Hi! How are you?

    Me: Duhhhhhhh… (drool on shoes, trip on shoelaces)

    I'm even more afraid of BEING someone famous, because then the encounter would go like this:

    Rabid fan: Oh, Zyzmog! I've always wanted to meet you! You're as cool in real life as you are in the media!

    Me: Duhhhhhhh… (drool on shoes, trip on shoelaces)

    I don't know which would be worse. (p.s. You seem to be handling fame pretty well. Congratulations!)

  4. When I attempted to become a world-famous food blogger, I wrote this entire post about Lisa Schroeder and her lovely restaurant, Mother's Bistro, in PDX, which spurned a meeting between the two of us at her restaurant (of course), and I definitely did not bring a camera. Like, at all. Because that's what you do when you meet the woman whose restaurant is your absolute favorite. It just is.

  5. Angry pandas. Of course! 🙂

    (I'd say I loved this post, but most of the time I was cringing because of the anxiety of pseudo-living those agonizing moments of self-torture. But the angry panda/t-rex moment made up for the cringing. So in the end, I think the plusses outweigh the minuses of this post. The end.)

  6. Hahahahaha!!! That is so amazing! I can't fully relate to the charging thing, but that's probably because being a teen, having your phone charged comes just after keeping your heart beating and just before breathing. 🙂 But I can identify with the berating self and with the forgetting vital things.
    I love your blog, by the by. Have been following it since someone gave me a link to the viral post and I fell in love with your family. Thanks so much for having a funny family and for being such sweet people!

    1. Oh geez. What a gaffe! Thanks for pointing that out. And you're totally right about the Hollywood portrayal mis-representing the disorder. I had a client who had it, and it's so much broader/different than the picture seen in the media.

      I hate when I make huge old mistakes like that. Thanks for the heads up!

  7. And most people with Tourettes don't swear uncontrollably. I mean, I do. But because I enjoy it. Not because of Tourettes. Hollywood has brought a lot of ignorance on the subject.

    1. I didn't know that about Tourettes, that you don't actually swear uncontrollably. Sounds ignorant, but really I guess I let Hollywood lead me blindly with out doing my own research.
      Thanks for sharing that. Really.

    2. It's true, anon. Coprolalia (the spontaneous utterance of socially objectionable or taboo words or phrases) is the most publicized symptom of Tourette's, but it is not required for a diagnosis of Tourette's and only about 10% of Tourette's patients exhibit it.
      Of course it's just one of those things that's terribly fun to talk about and speculate about. A disease that makes people swear uncontrollably? Who wouldn't try to play that card? I try not to take offense because none is intended. It's just one of those things that's terribly interesting to talk about so it makes sense. My big fat Mormon family (about 13 aunts / uncles and some cousins- too many to count) participated in a study about Tourettes at the U of U. Many people who find out about our family history are surprised to learn that none of us swear uncontrollably. Except me- the lapsed Mormon. But I could totally choose to control it if I didn't enjoy swearing so much.

      None of this is to take away from the fabulousness of meeting Jenny Lawson and pretending to be an angry panda. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go and search ebay and ksl classifieds as I'm trying to procure one giant metal chicken.

    3. Quite frankly, I amazed Mormons don't think having tourette's is a sin. Or that you can have Tourette's as long as you don't act on Tourette's

  8. My husband took me to meet my favorite author Markus Zusak and I totally biffed it. I had practiced all the things that I wanted to say but when push came to shove, I was completely starstruck and my husband had to carry the whole conversation. I wish waiting in line again had been an option haha.

  9. AH! That is so fantastic, I don't know where to begin! I'm a huge fan of Jenny Lawson AND of you, so when I saw your footage my brain basically just melted on the spot.

    And if it makes you feel better, I totally blanked out and made an idiot out of myself when I got a book signed by David Sedaris. I'm going to share the link of my I'm-such-a-moron story because what good is the internet, if not to enjoy one another's humiliations? But be warned that I probably swear even more than Jenny!

    1. I don't know much about David Sedaris, or his relationship status. Since I see no purpose in you informing us who it is that he likes to date, I can't only assume you're using "gay" as a derogatory term.

      Don't do that. Gay is not a bad word, or a word that should be used to talk down to or insult someone.

    2. actually, he is gay and lives the gay lifestyle. He's been in a relationship with his partner, Hugh, for years. he writes about Hugh a lot.
      I'm just honestly thinking that no one ever told him about mixed orientation relationships.

    3. I can help you out. David Sedaris's relationship status is that he lives wih his long-time partner Hugh Hamrick and is therefore…gay!

      Let me also point out that not only is this blog read by many people who jump to assumptions it is also read by many people who will introduce discussions about sexuality.

    4. Hi… 🙂 Just for the record, I wasn't seeking to introduce a discussion about sexuality. David Sedaris's sexuality didn't even cross my mind when I posted (although I am aware of his orientation) – my thoughts were as simple as, "That is so hilarious, and it reminds me of when I acted like an idiot this one time!" I'm a simple gal, no deep thoughts or ulterior motives here.

      Just wanted to make that clear. I enjoy this blog very much and would hate to see the comments derail in a negative way because of something I wrote.

    5. but if david sedaris had been told about mixed orientation marriages, he might have chosen that. that was my point. further, since living the gay lifestyle is a sin, why on earth would you enjoy the writing of someone who lives the lifestyle? would you enjoy a murderer's writing? A pedophile's? Consistency, people, consistency

    6. But he is blatantly continuing to go against God! We'd excommmunicate him if he were a Mormon so why would we continue to enjoy his writing? We need to condemn consistently is all I am saying. Same goes for actors – I hope no one watches and enjoys the TV show "How I met your mother' since one of the actors on there is with a man and they have children!

  10. So speaking of your vlog, I had a dream the other night that you and Lolly made a music video. I can't remember the song exactly (don't know if it was even a real song), but the lyrics said something to the effect of, "People didn't think we could do it, but we did it anyway!" (And no, it wasn't Shania Twain's "You're Still the One. It was much more upbeat than that.) There was lots of footage of you guyssinging and dancing at basketball games and in the library in your house. It was pretty amazing, so I think you guys should do it for realz. And if you don't already have a private library, you're going to need to get one for this video to work, so get on it!

  11. I love this because I originally started reading your blog from the link on The Bloggess' page. You two are the only bloggers I really follow, and having you together in a moment of silliness? It can't get much better than that.

  12. I messed up my one chance to meet Weird Al Yankovic in 1993 at the Meadows Mall in Las Vegas. I worked in the dollar store there at the time and Weird Al was going to perform a concert later on that day. He was signing autographs in the music store (this was back when people bought their music in stores) and I TOTALLY wanted to meet him. I mean, what teenage girl wouldn't right? I wanted him to sign something for me (preferably my chest) but the assholes (tourettes card) at the store told me I had to buy something. But I had left all my money at home! I jumped into the family mini van and raced home and back all in 30 minutes but alas, Al was done signing autographs when I got back.
    He's performing in Wendover this weekend but we can't get a babysitter for the kids. So this will be my second time of failing to meet Al. I really wanted to throw my giant cotton panties at him. But no…

  13. Isn't it the weirdest thing how in real life you're like "hey! I'm funny and quick-witted and debonair and all that other shit!" But as soon as you meet someone who's famous or has any amount of credibility to their name, all hell breaks loose and your brain turns to diarrhea? Same thing happened with me when I met Cesar Millan. I had two solid hours of waiting in line to come up with something impressive. The second I got to his table I was *this* close to tears.

    I hate myself.

  14. Funnily enough, I found your blog because Jenny (The Bloggess) had a link to your blog on her blog once. You are the two blogs I read religiously. I love you both. I was feeling sorta sad and crying a couple minutes ago. Thank you (& Jenny) for making me smile.

  15. I am containing my fit of ENVY in my cubicle. I love the Bloggess and Victor! I Feel like I know them after reading her memoir. I kept hoping she'd make it to SLC.

    Keep doing what your doing, Josh. You and your family are amazing.

  16. Know what I love about Jenny Lawson? I just followed her on Twitter, no connection whatsoever. My parent's home was destroyed in the wildfires around Austin last September. She read a tweet of mine about it, sent my parents money! Who does that? Jenny Lawson. That's who. So jealous you got to meet her!

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