Last night I participated in what I'm calling my first ever LA "thing" (even though the event took place in Beverly Hills, but I don't think that's relevant).
Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, aka hilarious woman, aka bringer of Wil Wheaton collating paper set out on a book tour this week for her newly released title "Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir".
To my delight, and slight trepidation, she had an LA spot scheduled, and so I decided that I had to attend. I'm not a long time reader, but I am a huge fan, and it's not really my fault that I'm not a long time reader because she started her blog ten years ago, and I can't help it that her content is wildly inappropriate for teenagers even if I had discovered her corner of the internet when I was sixteen.
See what I mean? Not about the depression thing. The sex thing.
It's generally inappropriate for teenagers to read sex columns. Right?
So, armed with my audio book and the address to the Writers Bloc LA location, I set out in rush hour traffic snorting and screaming with laughter to Lawson's hilariously narrated memoir. As I inched along 110 North, my exit for 10 West slowly coming into sight, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in the car. alone. attending an event. alone. This is when I started to feel a little panicky and extremely aware of the fact that I hadn't been in downtown LA alone before (I don't care if I ended up in Beverly Hills, that's not the point!).
I was determined to remain calm and upbeat, because if The Bloggess could kick away her crippling social anxiety and intense fear of public speaking, then I could keep my fear of going place alone and feeling like a loser in check.
After circling the block once and running a red light at an unprotected left, I parked under my destination and walked confidently to the elevators while feeling so proud of myself for arriving early in spite of traffic. Once in the lobby I inquired as to where the Writers Bloc speakers would be that night and I was met with some... confusion and silence from the guy at the front desk. He asked me a few probing questions that I was unable to answer, and then he called for some advice from someone else.
It's times like these I'm sure front desk workers wish they didn't have to deal with the public. When you're on the phone it's so much easier to put someone on hold and then transfer them without their knowledge.
It turns out that my phone directions had taken me to the Writers Guild of America, West, and I wanted a different building that was about fifteen minutes away in Beverly Hills. I nodded and thanked the man, legitimately holding back tears while feeling incredibly stupid and more worried that I was going to arrive late and not be allowed into the book reading and Q&A with The Bloggess.
Juanita the Weasel, appropriately acting out my desperation.
Fortunately for me, and my bladder, I made it to the correct location in record time. Except then I got lost in the parking structure.
It was kind of poorly signed. There were indicators for stairs, elevators, and exits, but nothing telling me where to go to get into the building. (I realize that I listed 'exits', but those were vehicle exits, not pedestrian exists. Totally different.) I ducked into a stairwell and went up three flights, ending up on the roof of the parking structure. Completely baffled, I ran to the elevators that were on the opposite side of the parking building and rode them down to the first floor, where I was greeted with the worker who had given me my parking stub upon entry.
I stared at him confused for a moment, unsure of how to best phrase the fact that I was lost in a vertical building with no where to even go in order to get lost, when he kindly directed me to walk straight ahead and then turn right. I thanked him.
After a quick trip to the restroom and a cursory glance around the theatre, I took a seat in the front row, stage right, and hoped that Lawson would be seated in the chair on stage left (she wasn't). After some mild fidgeting and ultimately relaxation, The Bloggess herself appeared along with Soleil Moon Frye, the moderator for the evening, and a woman who was the head of the theatre. Brief introductions were had, everyone's clapping for Lawson drowned out the introduction for Frye (for which I felt bad), and then the evening was kicked off with Lawson doing a reading from her memoir.
They're not looking at me, but that's them I swear. Jenny Lawson
is the one sitting closest to the front of the image.
I've been listening to her narrate for the past few days, which has been entertaining enough, but to hear her read her own stories out loud and in person was a new level of hysterical that I didn't think was possible.
She paused to great comedic effect in all the right places, and I really could have sat and listened to her read all night. Everyone in the theatre laughed loud, and hard. I felt so comfortable with the audience, so many other people with full, booming and appreciative laughter.
Frye asked Lawson a few questions about her inspirations, her reasons for starting the book, and further information about certain stories within the memoir. Suddenly it was time for an audience Q&A, and my heart started pounding. Only two people stood up to ask a question and I felt stricken with fear that The Bloggess would feel down trodden about no one having questions for her. My mind raced, placing myself in her shoes and imagining how horrible it would feel to be up on stage, nervous and ready to bolt but drugged into submission, and watching as no one wanted to ask me anything.
(Update: It's worth noting that out of everyone who did eventually get up and ask questions, probably half of them expressed extreme nerves and social anxiety. There wasn't a lack of questions because of a lack of interest: more like, everyone in the room wanted to talk and ask questions, but we were all simply too paralyzed with fear. We were unified in so many ways)
I couldn't think of a single. damn. question. I mean, she's so candid and open that what could I even ask that she hadn't already shared? All I had were 'Thank You's for her, and so with sweaty palms and shaky legs and a pounding heart I walked up to the microphone and waited my turn.
This man shared a video of The Bloggess, which gave me the strength to even obtain
this signed photo. It then, in turn, gave me the strength to go to the microphone.
It's kind of surreal to have the important people that are up on stage turn and look you right in the face and give you their attention.
I started out by thanking her for her coverage and candidness regarding mental illness, and went into a story about how she has inadvertently given amazing relationship advice to polar-opposite couples. If you're familiar with The Bloggess, then you'll know that she responds to her husband in the most baffling, and astoundingly hilarious, ways. It truly seems like a great method for keeping things light hearted and happy.
The audience liked my comment, and I received laughter. After sitting back down the woman in charge of the theatre (who happened to be sitting next to me) told me that she liked what I said.
Once the questions were finished everyone was rounded into the lobby to await the book signing. The line was incredibly long, so I stood off to the side and read The Hobbit. In the middle of the mix I almost banged faces with Frye, who told me that she, too, liked what I had said, and then asked me where Jenny went. I pointed to my right and smiled, then immediately remembered to say (more like shout), "I really liked you in your episode of Friends!" and she smiled and said thank you.
Almost a full hour later I was at the very end of the line and sneaking ever closer to the signing table. The kind people around me had invited me into their jovial conversation, and we were accidentally joined by Lawson's sister and niece. A pleasant bonus, to be sure.
When it was finally my turn, Lawson signed my audio book case and I immediately blurted out my story about telling Wil Wheaton about loving The Bloggess. Then I told her that at PAX this year hopefully I could tell Wil Wheaton about telling The Bloggess about meeting Wil Wheaton and telling him how much I loved The Bloggess.
She seemed to like my story well enough.
a. I didn't say good-bye to the nice people that I was with in line.
b. I should have used the bathroom.
"The night's adventures aren't over yet!" I thought to myself, and then left the parking garage.
It was at this point that my phone decided it didn't want to locate me via GPS, so I just... drove down South Doheny until my phone decided to cooperate. I could have easily panicked about being alone downtown LA (Beverly Hills, whatever), having to pee, hungry, and with no idea how to get back home. But, I was on a Bloggess high, so I decided to ride out the wave of potential crazy and see where it carried me.
As luck would have it, I ended up going West and was dropped nicely onto the 405.
Probably one of my best nights ever.
*Please note that the images that aren't taken with my cellphone were all borrowed with love from thebloggess.com