You know how sometimes you read a book, and it is so funny and awkward and true that you almost feel bad laughing out loud or sympathizing? That was me while reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.
I must admit, I have not read her first book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, though I do own it. Now I will move it to the front of the TBR list.
This is a collection of short stories/essays/journal entries/conversations from Jenny’s life. If you aren’t familiar with Ms. Lawson, just follow her blog for a taste of what you will find in her books. If you want fun Jenny Lawson swag, go here. Let’s start with the cover- a picture of a happily rabid raccoon, which is an actual taxidermied raccoon that she owns. And poses with her cats. And sleeps with. And uses to scare her husband. I’m hooked.
Then there are the stories. She makes it known from the get-go that she suffers from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses, all which rotate through her like a diseased carousal. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. Some days her scalp is erupting. Some days she is crying in the middle of the grocery store. Some days her daughter points out her introversion and awkwardness to a room full of adults. While these are all situations that many of us can sympathize with, we certainly don’t do it with the candor and hilarity that Jenny does.
In addition are conversations she has with her husband, a seemingly sane, albeit boring-jobbed work-from-homer (much like my own husband). From naming their new cat Mr. President, to her new support pony (Pony Danza!), her gall bladder surgery and a nurse named Labia, and their visit with the accountant, their relationship isn’t that different from many of the ones we have with our own spouses- theirs is just WAY more colorful.
But she also steps back from ridiculously funny and gets ridiculously real. She shares the heartbreak of her illnesses. Of her joy in seeing none of the signs of them in her daughter. Of what it feels like to accept an invitation and immediately regret it. To feel like a hypochondriac. Imposter syndrome. To panic in the face of a life perceived to be wasted. All the things that even those who don’t suffer from mental illness can and do feel on a regular basis.
For the funniest bits, see their trip to Japan and her Japanese toilet commentary, her trip to Australia in kangaroo and koala costumes and bloody hotel carpeting, their new house in the country club and the swan attacks, 3 cat skins, and all the opossums. LOTS of opossums.
“You may ask how I know and I’ll tell you how. It’s because right now? YOU’RE READING. That’s what the sexy people do.”
“…that usually your kids’ positive qualities come less from your making them awesome and more from just not intentionally squashing the random things they’re inherently born with that make them awesome.”
“I believe it was Sartre who said, ‘Hell is other people,’ and I suspect he wrote that after spending an hour with overinvolved parents who won’t stop yelling at coaches, instructors or crying four-year-olds who really just want a snow cone.”