Not all of us at MomsLA are strictly mom bloggers, but a lot of us are. You don’t have to be a mom blogger to know who The Bloggess is, though. Along with only a handful of other mom bloggers, The Bloggess really set the stage in terms of capturing the voice of moms who struggle with issues both little and big. Her huge, huge following is well deserved. Her “bloggy voice” is at times wry, hilarious, dark, and deeply affecting; she may have invented online snark. I’ve read The Bloggess before I even came to terms with my own parenthood’s affect on my travel blogging, and will continue to read her blog for as long as she keeps it up. Her new book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is a joy. The Bloggess, real name Jenny Lawson, has created a terrific companion to her famous blog.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened starts with chapters relaying her childhood in a small, dusty West Texas town, and is basically chronological until it ends in present day. Throughout this book, subtitled “A Mostly True Memoir,” Jenny Lawson stays true to the voice that created her ardent online fan base. You’ll be embarrassed for her and still want to be her friend. She says that it took her eleven years to write Let’s Pretend This Never Happened — sorry, Jenny, that must have been a pain for you, but it was worth it.
As a little girl, The Bloggess wanted to fit in with the other children, but this was made impossible by several factors (including herself). Reading about the turkeys that her dad insisted were Wisconsin jumbo quail, following her from home to elementary school, made me laugh out loud. Now, not many of us can relate to having dads with frequently misbegotten plans take a dramatic turn like this, but who among us can’t relate to being completely, horribly humiliated in school? I don’t expect to see a huge show of hands here.
Jenny Lawson’s well-documented anxiety disorder makes several appearances in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but she is never self-pitying or resentful…not too resentful, anyway. She is instead aware of the hilarious situations that her occasional isolation and “nervous stomach” (as her mother put it) have led to. For example, another favorite chapter describes how she was so shy that she was the goth chick in her high school — a way to say “stay away” without having to utter a word — and ended up with her arm up a cow’s vagina in her school’s ag course. Yeah. No typo. Just read that chapter yourself, please. Turning embarrassing, somewhat self-inflicted experiences into glorious essays is Jenny Lawson’s specialty.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happen is tightly written, and most of the book’s stories take place in and after college. Meeting her boyfriend, who becomes her fiance and husband, meeting his parents and learning about extra sofa cushions, it’s all a joy to read. But the crux of The Bloggess’s book, or the overriding theme, is about trying to feel comfortable in one’s home and in one’s own skin. This may be something that a lot of us struggle with, but don’t have the courage to make public the way Jenny Lawson has. Moving into a new home and going back to her old West Texas town, seeing how it had changed, really strikes a chord. And Jenny realizing that “home” is where her family is, does as well. But not in a mushy way! More, dark and twisted. And then suddenly sweet.
Mom bloggers, and moms who blog about specific, non-daily-life-of-being-a-parent as well, will relate to The Bloggess talking about married life and motherhood. But as a blogger, what especially struck a chord with me was her recounting the first time she got together on a bloggers’ weekend in California wine country. Making Friends with Girls is a fantastic chapter. While she was initially painfully shy, she ended up having the time of her life with these other women; this is something I think every single blogger, mom blogger or not, who has been to a small conference or meet-up will relate to. Hanging out and spending quality time with “our people” is what makes the Travel Blog Conference (TBEX) valuable in unquantifiable ways for me. And coming to see that it’s all of our idiosyncrasies that make us special in spite of ourselves, this is worth knowing as well. This is how we all, eventually, get comfortable in our own skin.
There’s more, of course. Lots more. If you enjoy reading Jenny Lawson’s blog, this book will only endear her to you more. But rather than tell you about the taxidermy, the bobcat, the snake(s), and other tidbits, I’m going to suggest you go out and get Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll snort, you’ll want to write The Bloggess a fan letter. One thing you won’t do is regret buying Jenny’s book. It’s great.