Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 5/5 cats
my love for jenny lawson is NOT AT ALL creepy
jenny lawson, i wanna make you blts and braid your hair. i am really shitty at braiding, and my fingers will be covered in mayonnaise after making you all those blts, so it will probably get a little messy and crazy, but it’s the thought that counts!! and since your book is basically a manifesto of owning one’s messy and crazy bits and alchemizing* them into comedy gold, we should be all set.
this book is a little more personal that Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir; a little more serious. that’s not to say i didn’t bust out into indelicate snort-guffaws many times while reading this, because i totally did, but in between all the laughter there’s a lot of brave and honest stuff about managing mental and physical illness through anecdotes that are not at all humorous.
and none of that is a criticism – i think it’s astonishing how well she is able to write about her own obstacles; how clear-eyed she is in describing the debilitating emotional symptoms of disorders impossible for people who aren’t fellow-sufferers to understand, while offering a platitude-free example to those who are that yeah, you can live through this shit.
she’d probably hate it that i’m calling her brave, but she is. it’s not easy to share this much of yourself and unleash it into the world to complete strangers. and while i’m not on any medication, nor am i seeing a therapist, i still recognize a lot of myself in her stories. and maybe i’m not brave enough to elaborate on that, or maybe i’m just not comfortable suggesting that my problems are in any way comparable to hers, but i know a lot of people who will see themselves in this book, and that it will help them and make them laugh in equal parts. and i’m sure doctors would disagree with the adage that laughter is the best medicine, but it’s not the worst. the worst is that antidepressant they advertise on teevee with the disclaimer about its side effects including depression and thoughts of suicide, because how is that helpful?
so while it feels strange to say about a book so full of voodoo vaginas, dead raccoon rodeos, and japanese toilets – this is an important book. it just also happens to be really fucking funny.
her late-night musings
If you put a bunch of chameleons on top of a bunch of chameleons on top of a bowl of Skittles what would happen? Is that science? Because if so, I finally get why people want to do science.
the wisdom she learned from her father
You don’t have to go to some special private school to be an artist. Just look at the intricate beauty of cobwebs. Spiders make them with their butts.
her assessment of australia
People warned us that everything in Australia wants to kill you, but I think they’re overreacting. Australia doesn’t want to kill you. It’s more like an exclusive club for people who care very little about being alive. Australia is really a lot like Texas if Texas were mad at you and drunk and maybe had a knife.
and her scoffing at bruce springsteen, dismissing him as “obviously not the boss of scientific accuracy.”
i mean, he’s probably never even conducted any chameleon/skittles experiments.
but it’s her tales about how unfit she is for the adult world that were the most dangerous to my tendency to laugh-pee, particularly the chapter that involves her meeting with maury the financial planner and victor – aka mister jenny lawson.
Maury asked me if I had life insurance and I assured him that I didn’t because I didn’t want Victor to be arrested. There was a pause in the conversation.
“She thinks life insurance is only taken out on people about to be murdered,” Victor explained stoically.
Victor sighed, but frankly I’m not really sure what he’d expected. It was my job to accidentally make money and his job to make sure that I didn’t lose it when I was doing wobbly cartwheels in the parking lot after the bars closed. Our roles had been clearly defined.
“We can come back to wills later. How about retirement plans?”
Victor spent the next several minutes speaking in a combination of words and letters that I’m pretty sure means “I have a retirement plan and it’s quite good.”
Maury looked at me expectantly.
“I have a drawer I put change into.”
Victor put his head in his hands.
“Not quarters though. I use those for gum.”
all of this seems entirely sensible to me. and familiar. i don’t like dealing with forms and grown-up things, either. and i like gum and cartwheels.
poor victor also has to deal with her clutter of dead animals, her plans for a living cat/tax write-off called “the president,” and her delightfully irrepressible spirit as the book’s cover-model, rory the raccoon, sneaks up over victor’s shoulder during business-related skype calls.
i want a rory photobombing me, too.
oh! dreams do come true!
i just fucking love her – the parts where i can nod along: her boredom with financial matters, her fear not of flying but of getting to the plane, her anxiety over small talk and hiding when the doorbell rings, her love of cheese despite being lactose intolerant, and also the parts where i may not be able to relate, but i want to bake her a pie and try to make things better for her.
although it seems as though she is finding her strength all on her own
You learn to appreciate the fact that what drives you is very different from what you’re told should make you happy. You learn that it’s okay to prefer your personal idea of heaven (live-tweeting zombie movies from under a blanket of kittens) rather than someone else’s idea that fame/fortune/parties are the pinnacle we should all reach for. And there’s something surprisingly freeing about that.
It is an amazing gift to be able to recognize that the things that make you the happiest are so much easier to grasp than you thought. There is such freedom in being able to celebrate and appreciate the unique moments that recharge you and give you peace and joy. Sure, some people want red carpets and paparazzi. Turns out I just want banana Popsicles dipped in Malibu rum. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure at appreciating the good things in life. It means I’m successful in recognizing what the good things in life are for me.
but this is a jenny lawson book, and i’m not going to close a review with something sedate and rational like that. should i quote a portion from her one-night-stand with a sleep clinic? or from the story containing the frantic exclamation I’VE SWALLOWED A LEPRECHAUN AND IT’S EATING ITS WAY OUT OF MY CHEST? or her realization that everything in the world either is or isn’t pandas?
no, i will quote a passage from the appendix, which in the jennyverse is located in the middle of the book.
I realize that it’s weird that this appendix is in the middle of the book instead of at the end where appendixes are supposed to be, but it works better here, and technically your appendix is in the middle of your body so it sort of makes sense. Probably God had the same issue when Adam was like, “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but it sort of hurts when I walk. Is that normal? Is this thing on my foot a tumor?” And God was like, “It’s not a tumor. That’s your appendix. Appendixes go at the end. Read a book, dude.” Then Adam was all, “Really? Because I don’t want to second-guess you but it seems like a design flaw. Also that snake in the garden told me it doesn’t even do anything.” And God shook his head and muttered, “Jesus, that fucking snake is like TMZ.” And then Adam was like, “Who’s Jesus?” and God said, “No one yet. It’s just an idea I’m throwing around.” And then God zapped Adam’s appendix off his foot and stuck it in Adam’s midsection instead in case he decided to use it later. But the next day Adam probably asked for a girlfriend and God was like, “It’s gonna cost you a rib,” and Adam was all, “Don’t I need those? Can’t you just make her out of my appendix?” And the snake popped out and hissed, “Seriously, why are you so attached to this appendix idea? Don’t those things occasionally explode for no reason whatsoever?” and God was like, “THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, JEFFERSON. I’M STARTING TO QUESTION WHY I EVEN MADE YOU.” And Adam was like, “Wait… what? They explode?” And God was all, “I’M NOT NEGOTIATING WITH YOU, ADAM.” And that’s why appendixes go in the middle and should probably be removed.
when i die, i am leaving my body to jenny lawson, and she can stuff it and do whatever she wants with it. hopefully it will involve wings.
maggie gets into it.
* j-law’s not the only one who can make up words!