My little musings on this site are usually rooted in frustration. It’s what inspires me, and has since I was young. Certain teachers hassled me for my “bad attitude,” but I never really saw myself as being negative, just honest, a little snarky, and sarcastic. What joy is there in life if you can’t make fun of it?
I like to think that over the years I’ve developed my own voice, but the one writer I always aspired to be like was Dave Barry, a humor columnist for The Miami Herald. He’s rarely serious, other than a few notable moments, like Hurricane Andrew, 9/11, and his brother’s diagnosis with colon cancer, which makes his columns about those things that much more poignant, has a conversational style of writing, often drawing from his own life, and is pretty much nothing short of a genius.
If you’re not following his coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London, you should be. Check out his updates at miamiherald.com where you’ll find fantastic lines like this. “The word “equestrian” comes from two Greek words: ‘eques,’ meaning ‘horses,’ and ‘trian,’ meaning ‘being ridden by people with large inheritances and names like Edwina Ponce-Twickendale.'”
Along with his humor writings, he’s written, along with Ridley Pearson, a series of children’s novels, published by Hyperion Books, the first one called, Peter and the Starcatchers. I took David and Cameron to one of his tour events at a local bookseller a few years back, and he was quite charming and funny.
And a couple of years ago, I was turned on to The Bloggess, a blog written by Jenny Lawson, who is cute as a button, funnier than anything you’ll ever read, and swears like a sailor. Like Dave Barry, she also writes about personal experiences and living in the Texas Hill Country, but is more raw, and very open with her difficult struggles with anxiety disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression.
Jenny recently completed her first book, a memoir entitled, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, published by Penguin Group, and has had tour dates in various cities. Last night she was in the Twin Cities and my friend, Julie and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear her do a reading and Q&A session, then briefly talk to her while she signed books.
Favorite quote of the entire book: “Also, when I read this paragraph (about her mom grabbing a rifle from the gun cabinet to kill a rattlesnake) to people who don’t live in the South, they get hung up on the fact that we had furniture devoted to just guns, but in rural Texas, pretty much everyone has a gun cabinet. Unless they’re gay. Then they have gun armoires.”
I have my own designs on putting together a book, and I know it took her many years to finish hers, which gives me a bit of hope. She has certainly influenced my writing, though my style is to maintain more of a redacted view of my life, highlighting things that are funny, annoying, or cute, with a little heart, but never ever sappy, never too emotional, or too revealing.
Also, Jenny has a soft spot for outcasts and weirdos, so she may not have condoned Julie and I commenting on some of the odder individuals who showed up for the event. But seriously, who puts on a long pajama tee-shirt over their clothes halfway through a book signing? And dreadlocks on a pasty white 350-pound woman, show that you no longer have an interest in showering, and that’s just gross.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012