7 Quick Takes about wearing triceratops hats, signing Kindles, and standing in the middle of Times Square wearing an epic selfie t-shirt

June 6, 2014 | 16 comments

— 1 —

7qt264-kkplaneI am sitting in the Chicago airport, headed home from the NYC book tour trip, and I promised myself that I will not use the entire post to complain about air travel.

I will merely note that I just got off of a flight whose terribleness was at a level that is difficult to describe. I declared to the man on my right, the woman across the aisle (though, sadly, not to Twitter since the plane didn’t have wifi) that this would be the last time I willingly allow myself to be shoved into a metal container that is launched into the air.

You know the scene in the old King Kong movie where the giant ape grabs an airplane and angrily starts shaking it like it’s a toy? That’s what it was like to be on the plane I was just on. In fact, that may have been what was actually happening, but I wouldn’t know since I was stuck in an aisle seat and the window seat people had pulled their shades because they were evidently not remotely curious about the events occurring outside the aircraft.

I suppose I will go ahead and take my connecting flight back to Texas, but I was pretty much ready to jump into cab here in Chicago. When the driver asked me where I’m headed, I’d casually say, “Austin.”

— 2 —

Let me start my coverage of the New York trip with a bang:

Remember how I said that part of the prize for the Epic Selfie contest was a picture of me wearing a t-shirt bearing the winner’s image?


BEHOLD: Jenna‘s awesome picture…on a t-shirt…in Times Square!!!



When I say that a selfie contest is going to be epic, I mean EPIC.

(And huge thanks to the amazingly competent and understanding folks at Big Frog Custom T-Shirts who aren’t phased at all when people call and say, “If I email you a picture of a woman lying on the ground holding a book while screaming at a drawing of a scorpion, could you have that made into a t-shirt before my flight leaves in 48 hours?”)

— 3 —

The New York trip was so great. It began in Stamford, CT, where evidently there is something in the water there that makes everyone awesome.


My new friend Lisa Kotasek introduced me to a bunch of wonderful folks, in addition to driving me around and playing event organizer. We had dinner at Columbus Park, where I had the most delicious food I have tasted in a very long time, and the restaurant even made a special blue SOTG drink for us!


— 4 —

On Wednesday,  First Things hosted a lovely reception where I gave a talk and signed books. At that event, I experienced both one of the best and one of the worst moments of my existence. First, the best:

Remember Julia’s picture from the Epic Selfie Contest that I said made me laugh to the point of tears every time I saw it?


Julia came to the First Things event! And SHE BROUGHT THE TRICERATOPS HAT! Obviously, I had to put it on and start taking pictures.


(I’m sure this happens all the time at First Things lectures.)

— 5 —

And now for the worst moment:

I knew that Kelly Mantoan was coming, so I had a t-shirt made of Kelly’s entry into the Epic Selfie Contest! (For those of you need your memory jogged, it’s a picture of her holding my book, a Devo hat photoshopped onto her head, striking a pose like she’s in the Whip It video.)

My big plan was to surprise her by putting the t-shirt on over my dress clothes — and of course taking a picture with her! I went to great lengths to get these shirts made before I left Austin, so you can imagine my despair when Kelly arrived at the event, I ran over to my bag to get the shirt…and realized I forgot it back at the hotel on the other side of town.


Maybe God was looking out for me there. I can imagine the esteemed board members of First Things turning to see me wearing a triceratops hat and a t-shirt of a someone dressed up like Devo over my clothes, and turning to one another and saying, “Who did Ignatius Press say this woman is again?”

— 6 —

I had a blast at all the book signings, but the coolest moment was when a great gal had me sign her Kindle!


She collects the signatures of authors whose ebooks she’s read, and it was an honor to have mine be one of them.

— 7 —

This post would not be complete without this picture, which I found when I was going through pictures of the trip. It was taken by my nine-year-old son the day before I left. Joe was on a day trip so I was on my own with all six kids, and I thought that “maybe it would be fine” take them all to Mass by myself. You can see how well that turned out.


Seeing that picture made me homesick. As wonderful as this book tour trip has been, it’ll be good to get back to the chaos.



  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I think my mom can still beat you on all bad flight stories. She had one so awful, with so much turbulence, that a lot of the passengers were being sick, and they ran out of bags to be sick in. The pilot came on the loudspeaker to say, “The flight attendants cannot help you. If you are going to be sick, use the blue blankets.”

    Truly awful.

    • Kathleen Basi

      That IS awful! My best/worst story, because I fly hardly at all, is that I was flying into Phoenix and the plane touched down and immediately lifted off again. Like, we were on the ground for about two seconds. I think there was another plane on the runway.

  2. Samantha

    This blog is a lot of fun! Come out to the West Coast! You know you want to relive that awesome San Francisco experience! 😉

    PS. I think you “know” my sister. She told she has written back and for with you a few times. She is a blogger, too. I blog as well, but not recently.

  3. Michelle

    But they have shoes!! Ok, enough of that dead horse I guess.

    This entire post made me cry again. How do you stay grounded with such an outpouring of plain old love?

    And, I just watched you on Bookmark. You were excellent. I wasn’t expecting it yet, so it was a nice treat.

    Well, have a great weekend.

    PS. Sorry about your flight. I hate flying, but especially when I’m pregnant, which is often.

  4. TheresaEH

    I just flew to and from eastern Canada. There is no way I would survive a plane ride no matter how brief without valium! 😉 the selfie photos are just great.

  5. Julia

    It was so great to meet you!!! I just showed my son the picture above and he laughed, and then got serious and said, “Hey! She’s wearing my dino hat. Who IS that?” I had to then show him that I had brought the triceratops hat home afterward — I am not yet at the point of giving away my children’s old Halloween costumes to my favorite authors…

  6. Kathleen

    I’m SO disappointed not to have made it to any of your NYC events while you were here. Sounds like the trip was fairly epic itself!

  7. Kathleen

    Can’t wait for your DC trip! I am planning on camping out at the CIC overnight to insure a first row seat… Our book club is discussing the book this Thursday and many of us will be there that night!

    I invited Michelle Obama and Nancy Pelosi… so we’ll see if they show up! I promised them that I am “real America” and that this would be the perfect photo op…

  8. Rita @ Open Window

    So if I had taken six children to Mass by myself, that would DEFINITELY be the lead. That is, if I were not curled up in a corner somewhere moaning. Wow. I think it might be more impressive than writing a book, except that #SOTG is no ordinary book. I’m happy you survived your horrible flight. We did actually fly home from China once on a dreadfully turbulent flight, landed in Chicago, and found out that a snowstorm on the East Coast had canceled all possible flights home. My husband looked at me and said, “Then we’re driving home.” I thought was crazy, but we rented a car with a carseat (for our new son who had never been in one) and drove home to Baltimore. After the horrible flight from China, a day and a half of driving seemed like a gift. P.S. I can’t wait for you to come to D.C.! You’ll tell us when the dates are confirmed and maybe, just maybe, we can coax you up to Baltimore?

  9. Rhonda Ortiz

    I finally started reading your book last night and, after fighting the old shut-eye for ten riveting chapters, crashed.

    I woke up this morning with the sound of your and Joe’s voices in my head.

    Is that too creepy and stalkerish to admit online?

  10. Sara

    The bookstore in #6: I want to go to there. Can’t wait to come see you in DC!

  11. Smoochagator

    Oh my goodness, that picture of you with the children hanging off of you is pretty much darling. As an aside: your oldest is NINE now? Holy cow! That happened fast!

  12. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    Dying and dead. That shirt just made me well up with tears of pride and hilarity! I can only imagine how much money you were offered for that shirt seeing that you were in one of the fashion centers of the world. I hope you made bank!

    Also, I should let you know that I spent my winnings right quick after you sent them. I got me a fancy new dust buster. And now you’re all like, “Jenna! Really? Not something more fun??” Jen, you have six children. You know exactly how fun a dust buster is. In fact, it is beyond fun: I’m pretty sure you saved my life.

  13. Angie

    Hey Jennifer,

    I have just gone to the first place I could find to leave you a message, as I must had to say a big thank you for your wonderfully engrossing book. I downloaded it last night and less than 24 hours later have finished it. So many good things, I loved it all (apart from the negative comment about cilantro haha).

    I hope to share it with my family and recommend it with many people. And now back to all the things I should have been doing instead of enjoying myself so much 🙂

    May God bless you and your family.

  14. Louise

    Isn’t complaining about air travel part of the journey? lol

    Everyone has a nightmare flight, or ten. You’ll have a dream flight again soon and all will be forgotten!

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