Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

I just finished Jenny Lawson's (aka The Bloggess) book Let's Pretend This Never Happened. For a memoir of a blog writer that I only started reading this past year, it really got me thinking. 

The book, like all memoirs, tells stories from defining moments in her life. They are stories that at the time they happened probably felt traumatic and life ending (like when she got her arm stuck in cow's vagina), but then you look back and laugh. Those kind of stories. And you do laugh. Because it's a funny book.

I started thinking about my upbringing and how it is somewhat outside the norm and how I've always thought about writing these tales down. The ones I can remember. Which are shockingly few. But none of them are all that funny. No matter how I try to spin it. They are just kind of sad. Like a 6 year old girl's mother lying in a hospital bed in the living room while she dies of breast cancer so she can be with her family during her final months. Or a drunk father throwing empty beer boxes at her friends.

There were a few funny moments in there. Like when my brother snuck a firecracker into one of my sister's cigarettes that she kept hidden in her nightstand. Every night she would sneak a cigarette and every night my brother would lie in bed waiting for her to get to the "special" one. And then one day she did. And luckily she still has a face.

There are snippets of other times: Same brother - annoyed with me complaining that I wanted his Snickers and not my Three Musketeer bar  - just switched the wrapper and I was happy. Or how I refused to ride the swings at the park because they had "bird chit" on them. Or how I thought my sister was actually going to really take me to prom with her and I got all dressed up in a flower girl dress from a wedding I was in (and truthfully, I wasn't even in that wedding but they bought me a flower girl dress anyway because I wanted to be in it and was jealous and was such a brat), posed for pictures with her and her date and then freaked the fuck out when I didn't get to go along.

Okay. That last one was sad. And, also, I don't remember exactly what kind of candy bars we were having. I mean who remembers those kinds of details? Memoirs always must be embellished, right? 

And then there is the overall theme of the book and that is Jenny's General Anxiety Disorder (her doctor's diagnosis). Not just social anxiety, but general anxiety about everything. She starts talking about situations she's in and how she reacts to them and I can't help but see a bit of myself in those situations. Any sort of social function tends to make me freak out a bit - and I know that's true for most people, I think. But I absolutely cannot have a conversation with anyone that I haven't known for at least 10 years and that I see on a regular basis. Which really limits the people I can converse with down to, like, 5 people. There are people that I consider friends - close friends even - that if I'm left alone with them, I get super uncomfortable and nervous as I get so worried that I will say something wrong that will make them dislike me. It's awful. I feel like I'm coming across as trying too hard, which I probably am, because I am. And nobody likes a try hard.  

I would say that I have nowhere near the eccentricities that The Bloggess has. Though maybe I would if I was more comfortable with myself and wasn't so concerned with what every last person thought about me. I admire her ability to just be herself in any situation. And I know that the fear of being herself in social situations makes her act the way she does, but she does it anyway and she's turned it into a positive and made a career out of it. 

Either way, the book has inspired me to try to just be myself - even if myself is the brooding girl who sits in the corner and talks to no one. And to try to remember moments from my past and write them down when I do remember them. It'd be a nice project to get that all down and look back and reflect. 

So thanks, Jenny. I enjoyed your book. It was a really good read and I highly recommend it to others. 

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