I haven’t finished Jen Lancaster’s newest memoir, I Regret Nothing, because as hard as I tried I no longer have the ability to stay up until 4 in the morning and read a book the day it came out and still function in society the next day.
I would be sad about the loss of this superpower, but I’m figuring that listening to my body when it says, “turn the light off and close my eyes you asshole,” is probably better for me, because books don’t magically disappear off my Kindle the next morning.
But I’ve put a bunch of stuff on the backburner for this book, because there are books and writers that I like and then there’s Jen.
When I was in college, I was introduced to Jen in the weirdest way possible. Both Katie and Katherine sent me links to her work and asked, “OK, have you been writing under a pseudonym, this sounds just like you!”
The piece in question was about why being Team Jacob is the only acceptable reaction Twilight. This was even before Taylor was cast.
As I read her blog, “Jennsylvania” I was thrilled. I’d been taking a “non-fiction writing” class, and as much as I liked the various essayists we were reading and basing our work on in that class, none of them spoke to me the way Jen did. I read all of her books that were out at that time. (Bitter is The New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and Such a Pretty Fat.) And waited in anticipation for the next ones. When depression kicked my ass so hard I had to leave school, move home and get a job, Jen was there for me. (Through her books, not literally.)
And then I started blogging. So much of my voice is my own, but a lot of it is influenced by Jen and her style. She would be appalled my many of the things I do. (She has expressed her distaste for adults who wear costumes more than once, and I obviously disagree on that score.) But my decision to go to Vegas this winter had a lot to do with her. (Jen is obsessed with Vegas, she was married there, and in Pretty in Plaid details her first solo trip, which I remembered when I was picking a vacation destination.) Anyone who’s been around for a while knows I used to treat the whole thing like kind of, well, nothing. My update schedule was, “Once a week, maybe, if I feel like it.”
Obviously that’s changed, and I’m glad it has, I really am. But the change came because of Jen Lancaster.
I went to a reading and signing of The Tao Of Martha at my local book store. I was so excited and was clutching my copy of Pretty In Plaid to have her sign. (Which in particular helped me feel better about my protracted academic career and 3 year search for something that felt even VAGUELY good after college) This was pre my convention days of running into my idols on a show floor and having to be cool and not super weird, and back in the shouting that “I’ve seen Camp 17 times” at Robin Dejesus after a performance of In The Heights days, so I was a little freaked that I’d word vomit all over my hero.
I walked up handed her the book, she said, “nice pants!” (I was wearing a pair of Lilly Pulitzer capris, on purpose, because I am a huge dork.) And I smiled and took a deep breath and said.
“I just want to say that your books have meant so much to me, and I’m a blogger and before you I just thought that blogging was bullshit, and then I saw that it wasn’t and it’s been great, and I just wanted to thank you.”
“Blogging is bullshit,” she grinned, “until it gets you somewhere. What’s your site?” I gave her the link and she asked what I write about. I explained it the way I always do and she laughed.
“So which Avenger would you make out with?” She asked. I laughed.
“It depends on the day,” I sighed, “but either Thor or Captain America.”
“I’d pick Captain America,” she said, “I mean, I like Thor, but I think that’s just the hair.”
We parted ways.
The new book is about creating and checking off items on a bucket list. I don’t think I’m ready to follow that model, but I’m really enjoying reading the book and seeing her journey this past year. I still read her blog posts, mostly on facebook.
But that’s why I’ve been sort of disengaged (at least for me) the past few days. I’ve been reading this book, and I’m thrilled.