I really, really enjoy author and memoirist Jancee Dunn.
A long time ago I was flying back home from visiting a library conference in Boston, and I remember sitting in Logan Airport, where my flight home was slightly delayed, and fretting that I would miss my connecting flight at O'Hare. You may not know this about me, and I largely try to keep pretty calm about things, but when I fret, it's Olympic-level stuff. (Mr. CR is no slouch at fretting either, although his fretting more resembles the soul-sucking weariness of worrying, while my fretting is often a more jittery affair.) So I sat in that airport fretting, praying, shifting in my seat, fretting some more, and looking at my booking tickets and my flight times a million times.*
And then I took out a memoir I'd picked up at the conference, titled But Enough about Me, by Jancee Dunn, which was a thoroughly enjoyable romp through her New Jersey adolescence and her eventual work at MTV2 and with Rolling Stone. The title of the memoir was perfect; it was in fact a memoir about her own life, but Dunn is so personable, so unassuming, so quietly funny, that you really do want to hear more about her. More importantly: her book was so great that it completely took my mind out of the airport and off flight times, which was a blessed relief. (I made my plane at O'Hare, by the way, but just barely.)
So it was my very distinct pleasure to stumble upon her new collection of essays, Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask. I brought it right home, and, even though I was fretting about other things this weekend, she once again did me the very great favor of lifting me right out of my life and into hers. It certainly doesn't hurt that I think we have a few things in common; here is how she starts the essay titled "Don't Be Weird":
"I ask you: If my definition of total happiness is a long trip to Japan, or India, or Morocco, then why is it that I can't manage to leave my apartment when I'm in America? I never want to go anywhere. I can barely cope with a trip to the dry cleaner." (p. 128.)
Now, I'm not taking any long trips to India, but her phrasing of "I can barely cope" about the drycleaner visit is perfect. Just perfect. When you share that characteristic, it's not that you don't like to go out, or don't feel like you should go out, it's really like you feel you literally can't cope, even with something that isn't that hard. So I know Jancee knows of what she speaks, and I love her for it. This collection is not as strong as her earlier memoir, and it's got a bit of a "slightly older woman wondering if she should have a baby" arc to it that readers not interested in kids might find a bit trying, but overall? Great stuff. And another wonderful way to avoid the frets. I'll take it.
*All over the slight possibility of missing a connecting flight home from a city that is a mere three hours' drive away from where I live. I know. Ridiculous. You start to get the picture why I don't travel, or even leave the house, a whole lot.