Tightrope walker

Today I turn 38.

Marc Davis' concept painting for Disney

37 was a hard year, but a good year.  It was a year of hospital beds and wheelchairs, of worry and mental illness, of fear and more fear.  It was also a year of being ridiculous and silly, of finding drugs that helped more than hurt, of laughter and finding my tribe, and of being furiously happy and stepping out onto shaky  limbs I never dreamed I’d reach.

I got this print last week.  It’s the concept art from The Haunted Mansion.  The girl in the final version they used looks very different – wan and bereft and abandoned.  But this one was peculiarly contrary.  It was perfect.  When I saw it in the shop I knew I had to have it because it was the first time I saw a painting that seemed so perfectly “me.”

Victor stared at me, baffled, and pointed out how wrong that seemed.  “It’s a girl on a frayed tightrope about to fall into the mouth of an alligator.  That’s pretty fucking bleak even for you.”

But that’s not what I see.

I see a girl intent on enjoying the sun while it still shines, smiling vehemently,  indignantly, and entirely celebrating a shining perfect moment even as alligators swim underneath.  Victor said she seemed oblivious, but she’s not.  She knows the alligator is there.

The alligators are always there.

They remind her to smile and enjoy those perfect moments whenever they arise, because life without fear is not a life fully appreciated.  She smiles – not because she’s unaware of the alligators – but because she’s aware of them and because she knows how wonderful it feels when they release their jaws from your ankles.

If you look online you’ll find a lot of critics who claim that the original tight-rope walker’s too-open eyes suggest that she’s just bat-shit crazy…too numb with fear to even understand the danger.  Her mind has snapped, and now teeters slowly, detached from reality.  I can’t argue with that, because that fits with my personality a bit too comfortably as well, but I still prefer to see what I see…a girl who has won a battle.  A girl who appreciates those moments between maulings.  A girl who knows all too well the dangers and pain around her but who has made a conscious and complete decision to be furiously happy in spite of it all.

A girl who knows how to wield a parasol like a fucking ninja.

I see me.  Proudly.

Happy birthday, me.

Look out, below.

643 thoughts on “Tightrope walker

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Happy birthday Jenny! May you smile and shine even when the alligators are swarming below!

  2. Have a fan-fucking-tastic birthday. Thank you for being there with us and and showing us to believe in our own awesome.

  3. When I left you that FB comment about crocodiles, I had not idea that was an actual “thing”. I recommend also always carrying around a flank steak. Just in general, that seems like wise advice.

  4. Happy Birthday….. I believe that painting is in the Haunted House at Disneyland…. I loved it then and I love it now.. and I love your interpretation of it. I’m going to carry that on with me for the rest of the day.

  5. I haven’t figured out how to teeter yet… the alligator may also have gotten a couple of my toes 😉
    Well done! And Happy Birthday!

  6. Never stop reminding yourself that no matter what alligators are below, you’ve already won the battle. Happy birthday.

  7. Have a wonderful birthday. You’re an excellent writer and you make me laugh out loud. Thanks for all the laughs. Have a wonderful year. Don’t worry about the alligators so much.

  8. ::HUG::

    I love this post. And I lurv you for posting it. Happy birthday, Jenny, and may year 38 be as amazing as you are.

  9. Happiest of happy birthdays. That is a wicked painting – I love your perspective of it! May you be wielding your parasol ninja-style forevermore!

  10. Happy Birthday and may all your future alligators be tiny… or at the very least may your parasol have a nice sharp spear on the end of it.

  11. It seems to me that the alligator is smiling too. The thing about the gators is – sometimes they bite and sometimes they just smile while you ride them. Happy Birthday! May 38 bring you toe shoes and brollies in abundance.

  12. I like what you see Jenny. Fear is not a bad thing if you embrace it and not let it swallow you…alligators be damned. Smile while the sun shines! Sieze the day…and all that! Happy Birthday to you girl – may you have many more. You make me laugh and you make me cry. Can’t ask for more than that!

  13. Happy Birthday Jenny! Wishing you a wonderful next year where the alligators never get you.

  14. Absolutely beautiful. I hope that you have an amazing birthday, because you deserve it so much. I hope you hang this pic right above the fireplace, Victor will grow to love it 😉

  15. I, along with many others, enjoy reading your blog. You never cease to make me smile and I thank you for that! Happy Birthday to you!!! Looking forward to hearing about your gift from Victor 🙂

  16. Happy Birthday, I was going to say Happy Fucking Birthday, but Chell beat me to it! dammit.

  17. George Sand: “She seems not to mind that she’s being devoured by a tiger..”

    Claude Debussy: “It’s better to feel something than nothing I think…”

    George Sand: “…even if it’s teeth.”

    This exchange took place between characters in the BBC movie “Impromptu” staring, among others, Hugh Grant and Mandy Patinkin”

    I love this scene.. it reminds us that sometimes feeling pain isn’t so bad when compared to the alternative of feeling nothing.

    Besides, after 20+ years of chronic leg-pain following a motorcycle accident when I was a dumb kid, I recognize that as bad as the pain gets, it makes not feeling it seem *SO* much better.

    Just my 1/50 of a dollar.

  18. Happy birthday! I have to say I love this version of the Tight Rope Girl much more than the current one. And I enjoyed seeing the painting through your eyes.

  19. Happy Birthday! I like both versions. The non-smiling looks bad-ass to me, like she’s sighing and about to jump, flip upside down, and block the jaws with that umbrella. The smiling version knows to enjoy the moment while it lasts. I love the Haunted Mansion so much.

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday and 38th year.

  20. I love your blog. I love your attitude. I can’t wait to read your book.

    May your 38th year be full of good food, good friends, good music, and good booze. May you see more sunshine than clouds (both literally and figuratively), more success than failure, and more meaningful work than idleness – and may you weather it all with the same hiliarious outlook & fantastic self-awareness.

    Ps – keep pinning.

  21. I immediately saw what you saw, and am appropriately jealous that the picture is yours. HAPPY FUCKIN’ BIRTHDAY, my dear! May you always stay above the alligators and wake up on the right side of the grass….cheers!

  22. Hear hear! Keep on keeping on. Was just talking to a friend today about that very thing. It’s not fear, it’s being ruled by fear that robs you. Happy birthday! I beat you by a few months. Not so bad out here.

  23. She’ll beat that gator senseless with the parasol if he tries to mess up her pretty pink slippers. I see that picture much the same as you. Wishing you a spectacular year, Bloggess. Happy, happy birthday 🙂

  24. Happy birthday to you indeed! Thank you for adding so much levity and believe or not, sanity, to my life. Now I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. 😉

  25. Happiest of Birthdays to you! Just remember, alligators can be either a) put to sleep by rubbing their bellies or b) sticks can be used to keep their mouths pried open – unfortunately, both require handling the beast

  26. Happy birthday! I hope that you know you have been my tightrope, keeping me from plunging into the alligator’s mouth, many times this year. Only health and happiness for you in 2012!

  27. Happy Birthday! Please know YOU are the sun to a lot of tightrope walkers who are trying to avoid their own alligators … and for that, they ( and the people that love them) thank you, for being “you” as only you can do you – whether bat-shit crazy, hopped up on bad meds, being perfectly sane, enjoying life on the good meds, drinking wine slushies at midnight, finding the beauty in the midst of the bleak, standing up for yourself against the (very few and clearly deluded) haters, and/ or just being general all around awesome on every post you write, on every site you write! *cheers*

  28. This made me smile. Fuck yes, go you 🙂

    And happy birthday. Much love, ya mad wonderful thing 😀 <3

  29. Two of my favorite quotes are:
    “why worry about ants when you’re being trampled by elephants” and
    “how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time”
    Somehow I combine them into one thought that even though I’m being trampled by elephants I can eat them one bite at a time (and mop up the crumbs with the ants)
    So I do get your thoughts on the girl and the alligator.
    Enjoy the day!

  30. Happy Birthday, Jenny. That girl from Haunted Mansion has always been my favorite. I love your blog, I love your insight. Have a wonderful year.

  31. Happy Happy Birthday. You are amazing. I look up to you more then anyone. Never give up on your tomorrows, but never forget today. <3

  32. Have a fantastic birthday! The alligators will never know what hit them. You, dear heart, learned how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Alligators ain’t got shit compared to that. Keep on smiling. And if the rope breaks, Mary Poppins the hell outta that parasol. xoxo

  33. Happy Birthday! Your blog brightens my day every time I read it & you inspire me to embrace my silliness whenever the mood strikes b/c who the fuck cares if no one else is amused?! Thank you!

  34. You really make me violently happy. I love your outlook.
    Have a great year, friend.

  35. Watching you come out on top this year makes me see things very differently for you, too. I am so proud to know you. You’re just such an ass-kicker.

  36. Rather like the Fool of the Tarot, enjoying life despite being on the precipice. You have to forget/ignore stuff to be happy.

  37. Welcome to 38! I’ve been here for a few weeks. So far, it hasn’t been horrible.

    As with all art, it’s open to interpretation, and I prefer your version over all the others. And thanks for putting all your thoughts out there, they really help me see things from an angle I never would have before.

  38. I guess I’m on the crazy train in the seat next to yours because I saw the picture before I started reading and knew “I want that”. It makes absolute sense to me and not in a bleak crazy way. In a this-is-life way.

    Happy birthday and I’m glad you’re entering 38 on a high note. Enjoy!

  39. Happy Birthday! Your pre-christmas post made me tear up, and now your birthday post did as well. Thank you for a year of laughter and THANK YOU for all of the awareness you bring to mental illnesses. That sounds bad, but I seriously mean it.

  40. You know, just when I think I know the tone over here, you go and write a gorgeous post like this. If your ability to write was ever doubted, show this to them because DAMN, woman. You’re hiding a fountain of amazing under there, and I’m so thankful you’re willing to share it with us.

    And I get it. The painting, that is. We’re not gonna get out of life alive, anyway, so why not enjoy our time while we can? I know what a life of pain and uncertainty feels like, and on my good days, I know that alligator’s waiting for when I’ll crash. But that doesn’t mean every day will be greeted with sorrow. It’s the spaces in-between that hold happiness.

    Happy birthday, darling! Let’s hope it’s zombie-free and full of cake.

  41. Your 37th year was identical to my 29th.
    Happy birthday. I hope your 39th year is a good as the first three months of my 30th (and that’s pretty f’ing good).

  42. I like her “bring it, alligator.” face while rockin’ the bun fun hair. It looks more Chuck Norris than batshit to me.
    Happy birthday, tight rope walker. May the alligators below be full and lethargic, and your roundhouses strong and well placed.

  43. Happy Happy Birthday Jenny. Thank you for all that you do! I hope it’s a wonderful day for you. Much Love to you! :o)

  44. Happy Birthday Jenny! You made me #furiouslyhappy this year 🙂 I hope your next trip around the sun is as awesome as your other ones have been and then some.

  45. HBTY, HBTY, HBDB(J), HBTY, AMM! Hope you have a fantabYOUlous day! thanks for putting laughter into my life!

  46. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY Birthday. May 38 shine bright…. but not in a “head towards the light Carol Anne” Poltergeisty kind of way.

  47. This is probably the best blog entry you have ever made. And that is REALLY saying something. It’s just perfect in every way.

    Wishing you the Happiest of Birthdays and a fantastic 2012.

  48. Happy Birthday Jenny. I remember the painting as shown above, from my childhood. Not sure where I saw it, maybe the Disney HM soundtrack album I had, but it’s always been hauntingly impressionable in my memory. I don’t even recall the one they went with.

    Anyhow, I wish you all the best for the next year in your saga. I hope it is a good year with only FUN batshit crazy moments. More Beyonce, less hospital.

  49. A very happy day to you lovely lady! Thanks for the screams, gasps, and tears (all of laughter)! As Beyonce would say “Happy Birthday, Motherfucker”.

  50. Her eyes tell me it’s the alligator that should be worried. Sometimes what looks like an easy snack is the end of you. Great link on te faces, I’ve never cared for her before. Seeing her original art showd what is missing – all her fight and internal fire.

  51. Happy Birthday, Jenny! I feel like I know you just from reading your blog. I too, loved your interpretation of the girl on the tightrope. Do you know the picture of the telephone wire w/all the birds sitting on it. Well, that is another tightrope simile. Every time one of the birds takes off or lands, all of the rest have to readjust their center of gravity(or whatever). They are constantly balancing and re-balancing. I like to think of it. I hope you have a much better year in 2012 healthwise. Love you. Donna

  52. Happy birthday, and thanks so much for the girl above the gator analogy. I’ll try to remember my umbrella the next time I get the friggin’ arthritis flareups.

  53. happy, happy birthday. i hope the coming year brings less hospitals and less pain, but more of your tremendous zeal and zest for life. your attitude makes me smile every day. i’m thankful for the gift of you.

  54. The girl in the final print looks much more depressed and melancholy, like she knows what’s about to happen and it’s just her luck, whereas the one you posted seems content with things as they are and is just going to enjoy what time she may, or may not, have left. I love your concept one much better than their final print. I feel happiness from this one and sadness from the other.

  55. This post was a post of triumph and inspiration. I loved it. Thanks for having the courage to not only be snarky and hysterical, but also vulnerable and real.

  56. Happy Birthday! And I see a girl who goes on despite the danger. So maybe we are just optimists instead of pessimists and that is a battle in itself.

  57. As someone who has been trying to extract her ankles from the alligator’s jaws for the last few months, let me just say a heartfelt thank you for reminding me that it is possible to pull free and get back on that tightrope.

    Oh, and a furiously happy birthday to you!!

  58. Happy birthday, and loved the post. I’ve been dealing with anxiety for the past few years, made worse when I was hit by a drunk driver last fall. I think I need to get a print of that picture to put up on the wall…

  59. Happy Birthday Ms. Lawson! You’re an inspiration to many. I love your interpretation of this picture. The Alligators ARE always there, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the sun.

  60. I feel like u describe me or how I’m feeling when u talk. It’s great to not be alone. Thank you!

  61. Happy Birthday Jenny! We all feel like we’re walking on tightropes through day to day life most days, trust me, it’s far more normal than you think.

    Hope you have a lovely day, and hope 2012 is a better year for us all.

    Now where are the cocktails to celebrate?

  62. Happy birthday! Your interpretation of the painting is perfect!

    Your post made me think of my own situation. Grew up pretty much poor but loved. Only one in my family to graduate college which I paid for on my own. @28 I was diagnosed with MS. They caught it early, so other than injections for life I should be okay. @35 I found out that I have a bicuspid aortic heart valve. So one day I must get an artificial heart valve, but not today. These conditions result in me spending more time with doctors and getting medical tests done than I would like, and I still have to deal with all of the day-to-day crap that everyone faces. Yet I have plenty of good things in my life that trump all of the bad things IMO. That’s just how things have played out for me. My tightrope to walk and my alligators to be aware of.

    But there are alligators out there for everyone. Some of us have just been nipped a little bit more than the rest at an earlier age is all. This isn’t always a bad thing, because it teaches us to wrestle alligators, and sometimes alligators learn not fuck with us if they don’t want to end up as a handbag.

    I guess what saying is that I see girl who is happily ready to free fall just so that she can jam a parasol into an open alligator mouth in order to distract the beast long enough for a special forces style neck snap. 😉

  63. HaPpy BirThdaY! Hope its fabulous just like you! Thanks for letting us know we arent alone in bat shit crazyville

  64. Happy Birthday to one unique, wonderful, awesome lady! I follow you religiously and am never disappointed. You keep things in perspective and are able to laugh and poke fun at anything and everything! I’ve laughed til tears rolled down my legs and cried with tears of joy and sadness. Your perspective is one that everyone should have. (That and a glass of wine and great meds). Keep up the good work and know that there are others like you out here who face the same painful, giant obstacles who would wallow in self despair if it weren’t for you showing another way to look at life.
    Happy fucking birthday to one of me heroes! May 38 bring you more victories!

  65. From an Army wife and mother to autism, I get every undertone and every obvious clue from this picture. And I admire every word of truth you share about it.


    Happy Birthday, J. You are a gift to all – especially the bat-shit-crazy part that allows us to know we are not alone ;0)


  66. Happiest of birthdays and all the days that follow.
    And if anyone can get the alligators to join their parade, it’s you, The Bloggess.

  67. I love that picture. I have to admit though, I saw what Victor saw at first…I like your version WAY better. The happiest of birthdays to you Jenny – you deserve it and more. Thank you for making my year better, in so many ways.

  68. Happy Birthday Jenny! I think when I found you I found my tribe! I hadn’t ever before found anyone who was able to describe so perfectly what depression can feel like. You seem to be my “mental illness twin!” 🙂 I appreciate your crazy sense of humor and the fact that you openly talk about problems that people often hide. Thank you for everything!

  69. One of your BEST posts. I knew the painting even before you said it… one of my very favorites 🙂 Happy birthday, and best wishes for 2012

  70. Happy birthday, Friend. Wishing you less alligators, maulings, zombies and more sun, more opportunity for furious happiness and the courage to walk through fear and shine on the other side.

    I *heart* you.

  71. Here’s wishing you a magical, enlightening moment for each and every laugh and “aha” you’ve generated in others. Be prepared for a gazillion moments in the coming year!!! Happy 38th Bloggess, you truly rock!

  72. Happy birthday! May today and every day be filled with the strength “to be furiously happy in spite of it all.”

  73. I love it! I love her! And most of all, I love you! Happy Birthday, Jenny! May all your wishes come true!!! <3

  74. In Florida, they feed alligators marshmallows. I feel like there’s a lesson in there somewhere. In any case, happy birthday. May your rope stay steady and your alligators full of marshmallow fluff.

  75. Love this! Happy Birthday to someone who makes me laugh so hard sometimes I scare people. 🙂

  76. happy birthday, jenny, and thank you for this. we all have our own alligators. mine is type 1 diabetes. it has taught me to appreciate the moments between the maulings indeed. beautiful post. <3

  77. I have been reading your blog for a long time. I thnk you are brilliant and funny and you always make me giggle so thank you. I realize TODAY why I like your humor so much. It is my birthday today too! We share the same birthday! Happy Birthday!!! and Happy New Year!

  78. Happy Birthday Jenny… keep smiling and we will all be here making the tight rope just a wee bit stronger!

  79. Happy freakin birthday from one member of the late Dec. birthday havers tribe to another. May your rope not fray anymore than it needs to.

  80. My daughter’s latest favourite film is ‘Strictly Ballroom’, and I always thought that catchphrase ‘vivir con miedo es vivir a medias’ (to live with fear to half-live) wasn’t quite right. Living IN fear is very different from living WITH fear. Living in fear = bad, because it overshadows everything. Living with fear = essential to, as you say, appreciate every minute. Finding the balance is, for me at least, the tricky bit. Maybe that’s the tightrope the girl’s on… Anyway, Happy Birthday, and many more!

  81. My 36th birthday is tomorrow and I was feeling a little bit blue. Thank you for making me feel better! Have a wonderful birthday.

  82. Just wanted to say that despite the brain damage from years of cerebral trauma, that I truly enjoy reading your stuff. Happy freaking b-day.

  83. Happy Birthday, hope 2012 is a great year for you, Victor and Hailley and all your followers. Life without some fear would be a mundane life, the trick is to accept that fear is part of us and get on with life.

    Having been shot, crushed my spine, been trapped down a flooding pothole and been in a canoe sinking in the middle of the English Channel I have known fear and life has been more interesting because of it http://tomstronach.blogspot.com/2011/08/from-parachutes-to-shootings-to-polyps.html

  84. Happy birthday, you, indeed. You brought the awesome into awesomesauce and I know this year was made that much brighter because I finally found your blog (and you!). And that tightrope walker girl really does look like she knows more than a thing or two about handling ‘gators.

  85. Happy Birthday, Jenny.

    Muffin, you don’t know it, but you inspire me… every damn day. If you can do it, so can I, damn it. Some days, the only laugh I have is from reading what you write. Other days, I get passed by a dead manatee on the interstate. Anyway, thank you for always being there – even when you don’t want to be.

    This has been my year 30, and like your 37, it has blown, and I’m ready to bid it a not-so-fond-farewell. There’ve been far too many doctors and hospital beds and medications for both of us. I can only hope that our next year brings us much more joy and absurdity, and much less pokey-proddiness.

    Thanks for keeping it up, Muffin. XOXO

  86. Yes, the alligators are always there. Circling, hungry bastards. Takes no skill. But enjoying the sun and goodness despite their circling, hungry bastardness? Takes a gift, it does. Happy birthday. Thirty-eight totally rocks (and I can attest to its rocking the last two months in which I’ve lived in thirty-eight-ville).

  87. Honey sometimes bat-shit-crazy is the only thing that gets a girl through the day. I am with you on both sides of the argument. I see someone determined to see the good in a day that threatens to swallow her whole, willing to accept that she’s got an umbrella to slow her descent should the rope snap. I also see someone who has learned that we cannot attach ourselves to every single possible disaster in the world without losing our ability to cope completely. Crazy? Maybe. Happy? For sure!

  88. Happy Birthday Jenny! Thanks for all of the laughs, the tears, the hope, the joy, the excitement, and the opportunity to escape my own boring life every day to revel in yours. I hope 38 is the best yet.

  89. Happy birthday, Jenny! You have truly made my life better for finally having discovered your website this year and I thank you for that.

    P.S. I understand you might survive an alligator attack by going for its eyes. Just in case you need to know.

  90. Happy Birthday Jenny!! Your blog usually, if not always, makes me giggle like a maniac. Your blog is the only one I read religiously. And I mean that. Like some people read the Bible, I’ll go back and peruse my old favorite entries. So you’re kind of like my Jesus. Or also maybe my Moses. Depending on which Testament you like best. So Happy Birthday, Jesus Jenny!! May your next year be your best year!

  91. That is, by far, the best damn “Happy Birthday to me” posts I have read. Ever. Like, ever in the history of ever.

    You are my hero, Jenny. Happy birthday! I hope your 38th year is filled with love and joy, no killer ovaries, less bathroom parties (unless, of course, you plan it that way), and all the wonderful success you deserve!

  92. I don’t see a wide eyed crazy girl. The shadowing around her eyes, the tilt of her head and the smirk say to me “just try to eat me alligator. I’ll kick you in the f-ing uvula on the way down!”

  93. Hope you have the happiest of Happy Birthdays.

    I love all your posts, but this one is my favorite post of all the posts I’ve ever read. EVER!! I’m sitting here teary eyed because of this post. My mom passed away right before Thanksgiving & I’ve struggled with the times I’ve felt happy since then. What you’ve written has opened the door for me to feel okay with actually feeling okay.


  94. Whoops, I think I just gave away which Testament I kind of gravitate to. But only because I was raised that way. So I amend my comment to say Happy Birthday Moses Jesus Jenny! Just to cover all bases.

  95. Happy birthday! Love your blog and love you (in a completely non-creepy way, promise)! You’re hilarious and inspiring. I hope this is a great year for you!

  96. Happy Happy Birthday Jenny!! Thank you for all of the laughter, wisdom, compassion, and for adding a little light to my day when it’s been a hell of a day! May 38 be a fabulous, fabulous year for you! (Raises wine slushie..)

  97. Maybe it’s just me but I think the girl has the upper hand really. I mean that alligator has its mouth wide open…that girl has a really pointy and dangerous umbrella. Whenever the girl feels like it…she’ll just teach that dang alligator a lesson…a lesson of innocent-looking-little-girls-carrying-umbrellas-are-really-ninja-assassins.

    Happy Birthday!

  98. Happy Birthday from over the pond! Thanks for the great posts, the wonderful site, and for making me think while making me laugh. Big hug to you & the family.

  99. Happy Birthday, Darling! The picture? Perfection. Always 5 steps behind, this one, but always delighted by your words, your optimism and your blissful insanity! CHEERS!

  100. Happy Birthday! I hope it is the best one yet, and wish you many many more to come!!!

  101. Happy Birthday! That picture is gorgeous, as is your interpretation of it. There’s always beautiful in the absurd, you just have to look harder to find it.

  102. Wonderful birthday blog! Happy Birthday Jenn! You inspire alot of us, and me today! My cousin and friend are fighting their alligators..& this alligator will not win!

  103. Happy Birthday, Jenny. And Happy New Year — 2012 is gonna be great! I said so, that’s why. Love the picture and your interpretation. : )

  104. Happy Birthday Jenny! You’re a great example of someone not falling into the alligator’s mouth. Keep up the balancing act. You do it beautifully.

  105. Your interpretation is so beautiful. It reminds me of a story I once read. A very health conscious woman who was running one day and fell over a cliff but managed to grab a branch or something. It had delicious-looking berries on it, but she couldn’t eat them becuase of the calories or something stupid. Around both the top and bottom of the cliff, tigers began to surround. She couldn’t climb up or drop down without being eaten. So she decided to eat the berries and let go, so she was supremely happy until she died.

    Keep in mind, I butchered the story because I can’t remember it word for word, and google isn’t helping me any.

    Anyway, I hope you’ve had a superb birthday!

  106. Happy Birthday – heroically facing alligators is something to be proud of. Being batshit crazy is the guy who sticks his head in the alligator’s mouth. You have a tightrope for goddess’ sake!

  107. Like the other commenter named Pat, I was immediately reminded of the Fool card in the Major Arcana of some tarot decks. Specifically, the depiction of the Fool as standing or even dancing on the edge of the precipice. But I don’t really know much about the tarot, so I decided to look up the Fool on Wikipedia. And here’s what I found:

    “The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool’s wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or ‘crazy wisdom’.”

    That’s certainly our Jenny. But there’s more:

    “He is seemingly unconcerned that he is standing on a precipice, apparently about to step off. One of the keys to the card is the paradigm of the precipice, Zero and the sometimes represented oblivious Fool’s near-step into the oblivion (The Void) of the jaws of a crocodile, for example, are all mutually informing polysemy within evocations of the iconography of The Fool.”

    I think there’s definitely a connection here.

  108. You make me laugh mostly! But today a cry. This was my 38, my first child, hospitals, diapers, illness, sadness but above all joy, strength, and love! Happy Birthday! Welcome to 38!

  109. Happy Birthday, Jenny. I love looking at this picture – and the world – through your eyes. Keep on telling your tales and I’ll keep sitting here by your knee, listening. Happy New Year, too!

  110. ??Happy Birthday, Jenny.?? I can soooo totally relate to your perception of the picture. See the glass half full, no matter how many fucking pills it takes! I would love, love, LOVE to have some good acid/mushrooms and maybe then I could be friends with the alligators.?

  111. Happy Birthday to you! And I think you describe the tightrope walker’s situation perfectly? Have you ever read “Swamplandia”? The image also reminds me of that book.


  112. Happy Birthday Jenny!

    You share a birthday (and the same first name) with my wonderful wife. She turned 38 today, too! I feel blessed to have both of you in my life. Please keep on writing and sharing your joy with the world!

    (If you are ever up in Dallas, I will drop everything to take y’all out for drinks!)

  113. Happy Birthday Jenny ! I see the same thing you see – and hope to compare it to my own self one day – Peace

  114. We all have alligators (life) waiting below just hoping we trip up a little so they can snap.

    And we all have parasols (you) keeping us afloat and drifting us on through life giving us hope of a little more sunshine.

    Happy birthday, sweet parasol.

  115. Happy Birthday, Jenny. You inspire me. “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” ~John A. Shedd

  116. May you continue to be “furiously happy in spite of it all”, that’t the best attitude one can have. Happy, happy not just birthday but everyday.

  117. Happy Birthday, Jenny! This year (year 27 for me…my 28th bday is about a month away) was a hard one for me too – all of a sudden I was battling anxiety and depression – two illnesses I’d never had to fight before. It was scary for me, my family, my friends. Every day I learn a little more how to keep a smile on my face and live with the anxiety that I thought would surely be the end of happy, smiley, confident me. Every day is brighter. Your blog has really helped me – It’s nice to hear what other people deal with – to know I’m not the only one (because some days it sure as hell feels like it!). I hope year 38 for you is fantastical – you deserve it!

  118. Happy Birthday!

    Funny, when I first looked at this, I saw a girl/woman looking back with a ‘f*ck you–see what I can do and you can’t” expression, not bat shit eyes. But maybe they are the same. No. I am going with what I saw first.

  119. Happy Birthday! I’ve never left a comment before, though I’ve read you for a while now, but the post inspired me. I think you’re right that she’s happy – probably because she’s got a knife or shank on the top of the parasol, and if the rope breaks she’s gonna stab the life out of the alligator 🙂

  120. Happy birthday! My brother-in-law hunts alligators, by the way. For real. He brought home the feet to his kids once. They freaked out.

  121. And where did you get the print? I’ve been looking for one for the longest time.

  122. Happy birthday Jenny!! 😀 I saw exactly what you said in the picture; a girl who is happy in SPITE of knowing what could come next, ignoring the ‘might happen’ and enjoying the NOW. Lovely!!! congrats!

  123. Bless you, Jenny. You’ve made me cry tears of joy yet again! Happy birthday, and wishing as many more as you’d like.

  124. Just like the story about the tigers and the strawberry. All we have is this moment, so we might as well enjoy it. Happy birthday, Jenny!

  125. I like your version better than the other. I think she is alot of us. My year has been a difficult one with chronic fatigue syndrome and stress and even a couple of anxiety attacks but a happy one none the less! I want a poster or painting of this to hang on my wall!

  126. Happy Birthday Jenny! I think if you have a smile on your face while the gator is snaping at your feet you are already the champion of your life.

    P.S. You honestly have no idea how much this post means to me today, I have been having a terrible day and that gator is at my feet right now. In about an hour I will sit down with my new boss and discuss whether or not I’ll have a job in three days. My old boss is retiring and I have a feeling the new guy doesn’t see any worth in me. I really hope I’m wrong. So heres to the smile on my face.

  127. Oh sweetie – Thanks for the joy and the sense of understanding you send out into the world!! May it always help you to keep your balance knowing that so many of us have your back (or maybe in this case your elbows).

  128. What a fabulous way to celebrate your birthday! Thanks so much for this; I’m so very glad I found you this year and am looking forward to sharing your adventures in 2012. Much health and happiness to you and your followers!

    Hippo birdie two ewes! Hippo birdie two ewes! Hippo birdie two ewes! Hippo birdie two ewes! 😀

  129. Love love love this! The original Disneyland is one of my favorite places, and The Haunted Mansion my favorite among all attractions. When I was a girl I thought the creepy lady at the end “…hurry baaaaack…” was the Virgin Mary. Apparently I’m fucked up too.

    Happy Birthday Tightrope Girl! Swing that parasol like a ninja!

  130. It’s taken 38 years to make you what you are–a mother, a wife, a friend, a blogger, a fucking tightrope walker. You are not pain–physical or mental. You are you. That is enough. In fact, that’s fucking fantastic. I hope I can be as accomplished when I reach that age.

    Right now I’m walking the rope, but dammit if I’m going to look down.

    Happy Birthday!

  131. I love reading your blog because your stories are funny, often outrageous, and bring laughter into even a bleak day. Then every now and then you get serious or sentimental, and it just hits home. Thank you for sharing so much laughter and insight.

    Wishing you a very happy Birthday!

  132. her look to me says “i dare you to question me”

    i like it.

    happy birthday to you

  133. The happiest of happy birthdays to you…with Wil Wheaton leading the charge no less!
    I wanted to send you a little poem for your birthday, and now that i have seen your post it’s alarmingly apt. (I discovered it the first time I lost my mind and consequently have written it on the back of my discharge papers)

    “Constantly risking absurdity
    and death
    whenever he performs
    above the heads
    of his audience
    the poet like an acrobat
    climbs on rime
    to a high wire of his own making
    and balancing on eyebeams
    above a sea of faces
    paces his way
    to the other side of the day
    performing entrachats
    and sleight-of-foot tricks
    and other high theatrics
    and all without mistaking
    any thing
    for what it may not be
    For he’s the super realist
    who must perforce perceive
    taut truth
    before the taking of each stance or step
    in his supposed advance
    toward that still higher perch
    where Beauty stands and waits
    with gravity
    to start her death-defying leap
    And he
    a little charleychaplin man
    who may or may not catch
    her fair eternal form
    spreadeagled in the empty air
    of existence”
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  134. Happy Birthday! Love love love the picture. It reminds me ever so of the tale of the Monk and the Strawberry; a tale which some days gets me through.

  135. Happy Birthday Toots! And remember, we’re all bat shit crazy. Some of us just prefer to embrace it. Love you!

  136. Happy Birthday!!! May you have as much joy in this coming year as you bring to all of your fans. You do make me feel old though as you are several months younger than my daughter. She says she loves having birthdays because 4 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m trying to adopt her bday philosophy.

    I just finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so my first thought of the print was that she would shove the parasol into the alligator’s mouth and then float away laughing.

  137. Happy Birthday Jenny!

    That picture is the best, how could you not have it? You start out not realizing that foyer is an elevator and the the floor starts to quiver right before it begins going down. All the pictures seem so tranquil but then there’s a shrill scream….but the kind where it sounds like she’s enjoying herself. Haunted Mansions are awesome, like Halloween everyday!

  138. Happy birthday! I found your blog a few months ago it has consistently been one of two things that could make me laugh no matter how bad my days have been. Your approach to the rough patches make me respect you even more. Thanks!

  139. Holy shizz, yes, Jenny. Yes yes yes.
    I see her in a beautiful dress, on a lovely day, not taking a damn thing for granted that moment, because that’s one hungry SOB patiently waiting for her to fall.
    I get that.
    Also? Thank you for the whole Furiously Happy thing. It really captured what I’ve felt for ages, since I was a kid in a world that I didn’t fit into, didn’t understand. When I saw your video? It was like being handed a gift of understanding. For that? Thank you. So even though my own birthday is in another week, you don’t have to send anything. You already gave me enough.
    Happy, happy birthday. I hope 2012 is so awesome for you that it kicks 2011’s ass.
    Which I think it just might.

  140. Happy birthday. What a brutally honest and uplifting birthday post. May 38 be the year the alligator sinks lower into the water and closes his brutal mouth at least some of the time.

  141. Happy happy birthday! May your day, and the coming year, be filled with everything that makes you smile.

  142. Seriously, happy birthday. I hope this year is full of opportunities to weild your parasol (aka pen/keyboard) like a frekin ninja.

  143. I love this post-I feel the same way about 2011. Felt like I walked thru hell in my bare feet.

    And I love your description of the painting (who knew there was a blog dedicated to the Disney Haunted House?). I love this girl’s expression too, because honestly, to get through tough times, you need to be a little batty, or you really will go truly nuts!

    Happy Birthday and here is to a better 2012!

  144. I see someone who knows herself better than anyone… who is perfectly armed with her innocuous looking parasol of death because she sees the truth of herself and of the snarling alligators that surround us all in this world. I see someone who deserves the biggest happy birthday intenet hug EVER!


  145. Happy Birthday to you! The Internet is a funnier place because of you, which means the world is a better place too. Thank you!!

  146. Happy Birthday! Love your post today..of course I love them all..even the ‘not real’ ones but to me they are pretty real and always hilarious.

  147. Oooh… Would it seem insentive that I sent you an alligator for a birthday present then? Damn… Um when he arrives, just stick him in a ditch and throw a tight rope over it. It could be a living metaphor.

  148. Happy birthday Jenny, and to me too. I’m adding you to the illustrious list of people I share my day with.
    I hope 38 is a great year for you!

  149. I love that version of the print. It’s so much better than the “I’m bored and about to lose a torso” look.

    Hope your up-coming year is wonderful in all the ways the past one sucked eggs.

  150. Happy birthday! I love this post and the sentiment behind it! You’re right, the alligators are always there, but we need to just live life joyfully anyway!

  151. Happy Birthday Jenny,
    Thanks for the view you give this painting, now I can see it too. You have a gift!

  152. Jenny, I’d say I wish the alligator’s would become extinct, but… well… that’s not reality. From what I can tell, you seemingly channel your alligators better than most. Happy Birthday kind lady!

  153. Happy Birthday, Jenny! Glad you are able to look at the bright side of life, even if life’s a bit off kilter.

  154. Happy birthday! That is a fabulous picture – I’ve always loved the version at WDW as well, but the original does have an interesting and different take. She is a bit crazy, but it’s a crazy you want to kind of be around?

    Anyway, welcome to 38 – I’ll be joining you there in two days!

  155. Happy birthday, you beautiful furiously awesome woman. I see you with your eyes wide open, just like your heart. I see you as someone who knows that keeping those flaws, those bat shit crazy moments out in the open keeps that alligator right where he belongs.

  156. Happy Birthday! I always thought that was the best of the portraits in the Haunted Mansion. 🙂

  157. I’m older…just a little…and had a rough year (well, the last month anyway–doctors, tests, meds, waiting for results… still waiting) but what are you going to do. Fear the alligator or give the tightrope a little test jump? I know which one is more fun…and it annoys the alligator.

  158. You are my hero. Because:
    even with pain, you see the light and create happiness in the world.
    You make all of us laugh, uproariously, even with your pain.
    And, I think it would be awesome to be your friend and go on adventures with you. Which I do, every time I read your blog.

  159. Happy Birthday! I think your interpretation of this print is perfect and is the perfect example of hope God Bless you dear.

  160. I’m a major Disneyland fanatic, and now every time I visit the Haunted Mansion I will think of you! I love it!!! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  161. The girl on the tightrope has always been my favorite part of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. I love your take on this, because I see her the same way. It’s not that she’s unaware of the danger. She just chooses not to let it ruin her.

    I hope you’re having a very happy birthday!

  162. Happy Birthday JENNY
    Your card is on the way. We have enjoy all of those 38 years.
    Love you,.
    Granny and Papaw

  163. Loved your blog and your view on the painting. Everyone sees something different which is what makes art so great. Have an amazing birthday and I wish you many, many more.

  164. “the alligators are always out there.”
    Best. Metaphor. Ever!

    Happy birthday, Jenny! Here’s to another year of defeating them!

    Love you!

  165. Happy birthday. Thank you for this post. I’ve faced a lot of gators. I’ve felt like I was on a rapidly fraying tightrope more than a few times. I often can’t believe my own life. I couldn’t make this shiy up. I’m originally from a podunk town in Texas and I am completely in love with “Doctor Who”. In short, I think we were separated at birth (although I was born in October of 1980-I’m sure there’s some work-around the time-space continuum..) and when I read your blog…I just feel like I’m not completely alone. I’m *not* the only one. I’ve been made to feel like I don’t belong on this planet, or even in my own family, my whole life. You make me feel less abnormal. Which is miraculous to me. Thank you, again. <3

  166. Happiest of all happy birthdays to you. You kick ass in everything you do; you inspire me to be furiously happy; you gave me the courage to blog and the word “douchecanoe.” You are the internet’s best thing. I say this a lot, to a lot of people, but it’s absolutely true, in this case: you, Jenny, win the internet. Not just today. Every day.

  167. We share the same birthday!! Today is my birthday too. So I am guessing you and I also share similar mixed emotions (love/hate) about having a birthday sandwiched between Christmas and New Years? I enjoyed your post, and hope you have a joyful birthday.

  168. Awesome post! Except that’s not really a parasol, it’s a Sonic Screwdriver with an incredibly fashionable ninja-shade attached. Those alligators are never gonna know what hit ’em.

  169. Happy birthday, Jenny. I’m flattered to share both my birthday and my first name with you, even if I happen to have you beat by a year. You keep at it with those ninja parasol skills, you hear?

  170. Happy birthday! You deserve it.

    I love the picture, and I love the various interpretations. Interesting how we can all take away something different from a single piece of art, even if it isn’t what the artist ever intended. (I have no idea what the original artist actually intended- probably the bat-crazy bit).

  171. I love this!
    Happy Birthday!

    So, I suppose life is what we make of it! (too bad I am a horrible crafter), maybe I can cook something good….

  172. Heres wishing you a very happy birthday. I’d even sing you my birthday medley if I knew your number. But it would be creepy to ask as you don’t know me . And for all you know I could be a terrible singer!

  173. Happy birthday! Thanks so much for being you…and for helping me feel okay about being me. 🙂

  174. I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and have almost choked laughing many times. You rock! Just keep doing what you’re doing and walk the tightrope! Happy Birthday!

  175. Dear Bloggess,
    I 100% love you. Your blog is the best thing on the internet. Have a birthday as wonderful as you are!

  176. “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”
    William Arthur Ward
    Or you can just beat the living S%#! out of the alligator with the parasol.

    Happy Birthday 🙂
    MOMFiusa – AKA Lisa

  177. Happy Birthday, Jenny! Thanks for giving us another year of laughter and love and incredibly poignant insights (and also, some kick-ass Christmas presents courtesy of your online store).

  178. I worked at the Haunted Mansion so whenever I see any Mansion merch I flip. So this post makes me extra happy. Happy Birthday!

  179. Happy Birthday, Jenny. I hope year 38 is wonderful for you. Thank you so much for being you and for refusing to give in to the alligators. <3

  180. The Happiest of Birthdays to you, Bloggess! There is much to be said for anyone who can wield a parasol like a ninja.

  181. Happy Birthday

    Your version/vision of the picture is the way more of us need to look at life. There are alligators everywhere, but take your joy where you can find it.

    Thanks for reminding me.

  182. Jenny, from one Jennifer to another…Happy Birthday. That was a positively beautiful posting. I loved your outlook. I hope your 38th year is even better. Thank you for writing. It makes my life better.

  183. Happy Birthday! Wonderful post and thanks for sharing the wisdom of what you see in the painting. May 2012 bring you much sunshine and happiness.

  184. Happy Birthday! They say life turns on the 7s. 35 kicked me in the pants, but by 38 I had it mostly figured out. I hope that is the way for you.


  185. Happy, happy birthday Jenny! Thank you for being inspirational, encouraging, and just a little bat-shit crazy.

  186. Too funny. As a child who grew up in Central Florida, all I needed to do was take one look at that face, her Princess Leia/turn-of-century do and parasol to know where that picture was from. Happy Birthday. Seeing the that picture, I’m transported to sinking down in the room in the dark surrounded by sweating, smelling, often rather large people. But I loved it. Heck, even at my age I love it. Things are scary, but we face fear and march on through. (with our parasol.) You’re a baby.

  187. omg, I love you. I am having a really crappy day and this is just exactly what I needed to see to make me feel like everything will be ok again. I am so glad that your birthday made me feel better. HAPPY BIRTHDAY you lovely wonderful woman.

  188. Happy Birthday Jenny. Thanks for all the furious laughter and inspiration. You’ve earned the Blogess title. Wear it proudly for the rest of us who’d love to have your domain. 🙂

  189. Have an awesomely awesome anniversary of the day you turned 35!!! I believe that people who go through what you’ve been dealing with and come out the other side are the strongest, bravest people in the world!

  190. Happy Happy Birthday!!
    2 things :
    Can I use your card even though my birthday is next week? It still sucks to be within close proximity to the birthdate of the sweet 8 oz Baby Jesus.

    Your perspective gets me through some of my worst meltdowns – your writing makes me laugh so hard that I cry out of mirth instead of insanity.

    You are AWESOME!

  191. Happy Birthday!

    I love this print. I was intrigued by the suggestions about her too-open eyes. Yeah, she could be mistaken for being bat-shit crazy, but to me she looks like she’s doing that visible kind of sigh. The kind that the coyote gives in The Road Runner before the piano drops on his head. The “weeeeellll…. shit….” moment. Where you know what’s coming. I know that feeling. Too well. 🙂

  192. You are amazing. You can make laugh out loud (inappropriately) at work. Then, three minutes later I’m tearing up because you have expressed the most beautiful, hopeful and impossibly strong idea.
    You are amazing.
    Thank you for being 37. Everything that brought you to here, made you touch my life today.

  193. Hi Jenny. I look forward to reading you every day, but rarely comment because so many others get in first. I have to wish you Happy Birthday though and thank you for all the fun and the insight and the candid vulnerability. This wasn’t a great year for so many people, so I’m hoping for a better one for you and them too. Lots of love from far away.

  194. Happy Birthday, Jenny! You’ve brought me to tears many times this year, mostly laughing so hard I’ve almost fallen off the couch. I’ve been moved and amazed by the humor you have shown in the most difficult of times. You are an inspiration. May this new year bring you joy, fantastic new adventures, and a cousin for Beyonce…

  195. happy birthday from Perth, Western Australia.
    You are a delightful lunatic!! Thanks for your humour this year and will keep following you in 2012!!

  196. Thank you for sharing your life with us, all the laughter and the tears as well. Happy Birthday.

  197. I love the entirety of this post, but your closing salvo, “Look out, below” encapsulates every bit of the “fuck you, I’m fine” sentiment that I love about you and hope I am projecting every day of this life I’m given.

    Happy, furiously happy, birthday, Jenny!

  198. Fabulous Jenny,
    Hope it’s a birthday as joyful as you have made so many of my days (and nights) when I’m up reading your posts long after I should be sleeping! Your post and so many of the comments remind me of one of my favorite Story People prints by Brian Andreas, titled “Tightrope,” which goes “Most people she never tells about the tightrope because she doesn’t want to listen to their helpful comments from the ground.” That’s been me on many occasions as I have navigated the alligator-infested waters of domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, financial issues, midlife dating and more. But still there is the laughter, and the memories, both those past and those still to be made. Here’s hoping for another year of good ones to treasure! Best wishes –

  199. Happy birthday to the most wonderful person I’ve had the pleasure to come across.I love you, we all love you. Those aligators can suck a tit!! But not your tit,though. Those should remain safe and sound and furiously happy.

    I’m kinda drunk.

    Happy birthday, Jenny!!

  200. Cancer is my alligator…I am with you. We fight like a ninja and live furiously happy despite the shit that the future may bring our way. Happy Birthday, and here’s to an awesome year ahead!

  201. Cheer Jenny!! I’m sorry you have had to suffer so much. But as a consolation, please know that you make my days a little brighter….I think you make everyone’s day a little brighter. It seems that most great artists have been tortured souls in some way. I don’t know why this has to be. But I do know that you are beautiful and amazing, and you have helped me find my smile when I have been down in the deep hole of depression.

    Love to you and your family. Happy Birthday!!!!!

  202. Happy Birthday! The world is a brighter, less scary place because of you. May your birthday be awesome.

  203. Happy Birthday to you!

    You’re right about the alligators always being there, but sometimes you can kick them in the eye on your way to the roar, and I see it in the tilt of the girl’s chin that she’s not being eaten without getting a few good kicks in. You damn betcha.


  204. Have a fantabulous birthday, and remember that alligators only eat shit, not really cool chicks.


  205. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your awesome and unique charm. I look forward to your post and have shared them with many of my friends! Here’s to another year smiling no matter what is nipping at your heals.

  206. Happy Happy Birthday Jenny!

    I was going to send you a picture of my corgi collating papers, you know so you could have an animal picture too, but as he has short legs, it wouldn’t really have worked out.

    I am insanely jealous that you have that picture, but in case you didn’t know, there’s a Disney pin of the same picture except it has Minnie Mouse as the girl and the crocodile from Peter Pan as the alligator.

    Oh oh and one more thing, check this out:


    Yes, you are that awesome!

  207. That is a truly beautiful way of looking at it. I have to admit that while I do read your blog because of your outrageous sense of humor, I also read it for posts like this. You speak to so many people. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Happy Birthday.

  208. Happy Birthday Jenny! We all walk a tightrope… its called life. I say walk tall with that parasol Sister! Thanks for making me smile and laugh on days where getting out of bed is like the girl on the tightrope- Someone wants to look up your skirt and wrong step and your gater chow! Truth be told don’t we all have that bat-shit crazy thing going on… oh maybe that’s just me. Hummmm … Smooches Jenny on your special day! You make walking the tightrope so much fun.

  209. Happy birthday hun!!!! This post seemed pretty perfect to the day I’ve had thank you! You always make my days brighter! And I can’t wait to read much much more next year! Happy bday and happy new year!!!!

  210. May the coming year have more laughs and love than the last one and may the wind blow your skirt and the parasol shade you from the harsh light! Happy Birthday, Jenny! Your fearlessness inspires me daily to do what scares the living hell out of me. *hugs*

  211. Happy Birthday! That picture immediately reminded me of you – and a bit of Hailey, who looks at the world with wide-eyed wonder…

  212. Happy Birthday, you brilliant broad. And by the way, I must disagree with your post about the “best Christmas card ever”…. that title goes to your Beyonce card, which I bought and now wish I’d bought in massive bulk. For that alone, you can be proud of your accomplishments this year. For giving us Beyonce.

  213. Happy Birthday, Dear Bloggess!!!! Your readers are fabulous. Based on their comments, I can’t decide if you would turn your alligator into cowgirl boots for yourself, or charm him into prancing along behind you in a fabulous New Orleans wake-style parade, with a big grin on his face like the crocodile from Peter Pan. Either way, we all know you will conquer your alligator. Every alligator. While your growing fandom cheers. Sending you much love on your birthday and beyond.

  214. You’re supposed to run in a zigzag from crocodiles. But I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re on a tightrope. Maybe you could practice running on tightropes? Start small, with string or something. And then Victor would be like, “Why are you running in place on string?” And you’d be all, “Because of the crocodiles.” And then he’d sigh. You know the one.

    Happy birthday, Jenny. And many more.

  215. I read your blog because it is funny. So funny that I wake my husband up with my laughter. But today your post was more than that..it was inspiring. I am going to keep that image in my mind and acknowledge my fears with a smile. Thank you for reminding me to be brave.

  216. Hi Jen, Happy Birthday.
    I only just discovered your blog via a friend of mine that I’ve never met. She seems to like some pretty good stuff and from a quick little scan, your site is certainly one of those.

    Love the alligators but in Australia we only have crocodiles and relatives.

    Keep on blogging, I’ll try to visit occasionally. I like your style.

  217. Happy Birthday and many, many happy returns of the day! May you only have good time, good reviews, and good adventures!

    And may all your hugs be incomplete strangles!

  218. My 36th is tomorrow – and this past year has been a cluster-fuck of shittiness… For a lot of reasons. But reading your blog has helped me know that it’s ok to be a little bit off your rocker…it’s ok to have medical/mental issues… And reading your blog has helped me to know that even though people have their battles, there’s always some way to find humor and growth in it… Have a happy one – here’s to a better year for everyone!

  219. Have a great birthday and fantastic 2012. You deserve it. The suckage of 2011 has been truly amazing which can only mean good things for ’12; right? Come on, join my delirium. I’ve smiled sharing yours!

  220. She’s a dreamer, like you. Underneath the anxiety and rheumatology issues, she’s still a dreamer. (I can relate I have both illnesses and I’m a dreamer too) Happy Birthday, Jenny. I still see you with your own talk show in the 4pm time slot. The new Oprah. But, only if you want it…..Stay true to your dreams, whatever they are. Love, Laurie F.

  221. Happy birthday, Jenny. I love the print and your interpretation. Thanks for adding to my smiles while I deal with my own alligators. Hope 38 and 2012 is a kickass, rocking, chicken-knocking-on-your-door kind of year.

  222. I too see happiness in her face. And another happy birthday wish to you Jenny. Thank you, I’m glad I found your blog once upon a time and since it’s been a great, hilarious ride. Many hours sat reading aloud your posts and laughing hilariously with the love of my life, I honestly think you’ve made (over the internet, wtf?) a deep impact on my life and she now plans on singing Don Gato to me at our wedding (personally, I want it to be our song we dance first too). So, again, thank you and happy birthday. You are fucking awesome dude. And Victor gets props for being unintentionally hilarious.

    In reading thru the posts made: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all ya’ll today/tomorrow/this week. Hopefully it’s all good!

  223. “The alligators are always there.” Whoa… heavy, man. Great post! Happy b-day. AND. Thanks for introducing me to Tim Minchin a few posts back. I’ve become slightly obsessed with him.

  224. “Our best thoughts come from others”~Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Whenever I have read something you’ve written, or watched you survive the Zombie Apocalypse for the millionth time, I have always taken away more laughter and other ways to look at life. And I gives me great hope and joy to know that I can find a kindred spirit in you, even if you don’t know me.

  225. That picture is so perfectly you. You were the best and brightest find of 2011 for me, and you’ve brought so much joy and laughter in the lives of everyone I know.

    Happy Birthday and Happy early New Year’s Eve! xo

  226. I sent this to my friend who tragically lost her kids in october of 2010. Because nothing explains her more than that line: ‘A girl who knows how to wield a parasol like a fucking ninja.’ Thank you for your words today, for expressing something so few understand, thank god. And happy birthday, keep enjoying the sun while it shines.

  227. “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

    That’s what the picture reminds me of. =)

  228. Happy freaking birthday! I hope it was fantastic! You are hilarious and a great inspiration! I am so glad I found your blog! I always look forward to reading your updates!

  229. I love that you found a story in that image that not many others would see. It’s an awesome image. I think I need to make it my computer background now.
    Keep swinging that parasol.
    Happy birthday!

  230. Happy Birthday!! I rarely comment. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I commented on your blog. But I’m constantly dropping by to see what you’ve been up to. 🙂

  231. Happy birthday, Jenny! Your blog has truly inspired me. I have a chronic condition, so I know how hard that is. Here’s hoping your new year is awesome and gator-free. 🙂

  232. There’s a movie called “Juliet of the Spirits” directed by Frederico Fellini and starring his wife, the actress Giulietta Masina, as Juliet. She hates the ending of the movie: Juliet walks away from her hectic life where husband, relatives, potential lovers all pull at her like she’s the rope in a tug-of-war, out into an empty field. Fellini meant the character to end lonely and alone, empty; an anti-feminist ending (thus pissing off his wife.) But when I saw the movie, I saw a woman stepping away from all these self-centered haters and forging a new life for herself, finally free of their emotional leeching, her head held high!

    I like our versions of what we see better. Happy Birthday!

  233. Happy Birthday Jenny! I’m an avid stalker here, on Chron.com and on Twitter. You brighten my days with your off kilter view on life, and teach me to remember that laughter can cure a lot of ills and carry you through a lot of storms. Thank you. While it’s your birthday, and you don’t know me from a blade of grass in your yard, please know that every day that I “know” you in some peripheral way you are a gift of inspiration to me.

    May your 2012 be even better and more furiously happy than your 2011!! <3

  234. So very glad it’s your birthday! Glad you were born.

    Also? The tightrope walker? I think there’s some land in front of her and she’s considering how to swing the rope and leap, using the umbrella to help her land on the couch or whatever. Tight rope walkers are limber that way. And if you look at where the picture is hanging, it’s right in front of a couch or something, or at least, a floor, which is a nice stable thing to land on. And not at all far away.

  235. I love that picture too. It seems like something we would have in our house next to our picture of Jesus drinking in a bar.

  236. I continue to find kinship. Happy birthday, Jenny! I’ll join your 38 in 28 days. May 2012 bring fewer alligators, hospitals and wheelchairs…unless we’re driving them.

  237. I know you hear this often, but I have to say it anyway. You are inspirational to so many. I love your hilarious posts, but I also adore those times when you are simply a human struggling with depression and are brave enough to write about it. Thank you for allowing your readers a glimpse into your life. Because it does help.

  238. First time commenter, not just here but on any blog. I’m more a lurk and read and giggle, sometimes manically, in my own little world. But I love this so much I have to tell you.
    While the drugs, hospitals and wheelchairs do not resonate so closely with me, the hard year does, and I’d like to think that I’m like this little girl too. Standing on a frayed rope, pretty dress, still accessorised, crazy eyed but determined to smile in the face of life and its nasty ass attitude.
    Thank you for making me and a zillion others smile with your wit and crazy life, with Beyonce and Cornucopias and Victor (off topic- Victor is totally becoming my poster boy husband).
    I hope 2012 has your tightrope girl kicking Mr Alligators ass, I know this version of tightrope girl plans to at least wrestle with him a little.

  239. shit, forgot to say happy birthday… got all caught up in end of year revelry and optimism for a better 2012.
    Happy Happy Birthday to a woman talented beyond words, or with words… Have some cake

  240. Very happy birthday to you, and YES!!! I totally see what you see! I am also a girl who appreciates those moments between maulings. Well said.

  241. I am right there with you, Jenny (aka The Bloggess) – seriously and in more ways than one. Happy Birthday! Thank you for your BRAVERY and GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. Thank you for reminding us the THE RAT BASTARD DEPRESSION IS A LIAR! Thank you for making me laugh so hard that I purchased a package of Depends – even though I’m not nearly old enough to need them (unless I’m reading your blog – or sneezing). Happy 38, Jenny! You are a treasure to many, but to me, you are a jewel encrusted life raft

  242. I see a blindly happy alligator. I see a girl who took a chance and is OK with the results. The look on her face is one of serenity; the calm before the storm when she goes ape shit crazy.

    Because in the end she’s going to walk out of there with a new handbag. She’s not happy OR crazy. She’s determined. And probably crazy. Butlife makes you crazy. The only sane people are dead.

    Happy birthday!

  243. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY!!!!!! I don’t suffer from arthiritis yet, but the carpal tunnel and partial separation in my shoulder have taken to trying to drive me to do something stupid lately. I needed this post today. Thank you. 🙂

  244. Ooooo, we’re birthday buddies! Well, I’m 37 today, but hey!

    Love the picture – it definitely exudes a sort of chaotic joy in the face of uncertainty and danger, and ain’t that life indeed!

    Thanks for all the laughs your blog has given me over the past year, and may this year be happy, healthy, and crazy fun for you!

  245. I am pretty sure that the particular alligator below you in that picture is just really happy that your darling shoes or slippers match the inside of her mouth. So I am also pretty sure that that particular alligator does not want to eat you or your shoes/slippers. So even if you jump on in in your 39th year (that is how it works, right? When 38 it is your 39th year) so even if you jump on in this year, you and that alligator can be friends if you lend her your slippers/shoes. You do know how to jump on in, OBVIOUSLY, because you are awesome and are making a mark. A very funny mark that makes so many people happy. I less than 3 you, aka heart, you.

  246. Happy Birthday Jenny – I didn’t (yet) read all 440 comments from those who beat me to the punch, but I want you to know that you make me happy and I’m a fan-for-life… You (and Beyonce, etc.) are a bright spot in my universe. Rock on — xoxo

  247. My favorite post thus far…

    I love the transparency. Thank you for sharing…and I bow deeply to you and your journey.

    Prevail~Tattoo Girl (sending glittery Magic, Light, and Goddess blessings flowing strongly your way)

  248. Happy birthday Jenny. And I want to thank you, along with all the other commentors, for your hilarity and honesty and truth. It’s been a long time since I’ve truly fought the nasty bitch of depression, but I know the side of myself that can go there oh so easily. I feel for you every time you report pains or uncertainty, and even though you don’t know me, I would give anything to be able to hug you and remind you just how fabulous you are, every minute of every day. Because no matter what you do every day, you are making someone happy, and that is a truly wonderful thing. Love you so much girl. Thank you.

  249. Happy birthday Jenny, and many happy returns of the day. Here’s wishing you a year free from pain and that asshole depression, glorious days with Hailey and funny conversations with Victor and that all your dreams come true. I’m so looking forward to reading your book. I hope it’s a best seller.

  250. Happy birthday girlie. I love the picture. I guess you “have to be there” to get it…and I do. Although the alligator is always there, she is going on with life and making it the best she can….even when the rope is kinda frayed. I hope you had a wonderful day!

  251. “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.” ~Khalil Gibran

    Happy birthday, Ms. Bloggess

  252. Happy Birthday Jenny! Thank you for making laugh, making me cry, and realizing that I can create my own normal. You are amazing!

  253. One day “THEY” will realize that US who THEY are saying are “Bat-Shit_Crazy” are really the sane ones and WE are a legion of sanity who know that THEY are the crazy ones. then WE will be THEY and THEY will be the bat-shit crazy ones…. Of course.
    Happy Birthday. My tightrope too is fraying or as I put it.

    “My Fuse is short and it is already burning”

  254. I hear you & also am one who appreciates those moments between maulings & who knows how to wield a parasol like a fucking ninja (alright, maybe not as ‘good’ as a ninja -> but I can sure beat a cockroach to death with a slipper, rolled up newspaper, a can of raid and a hot fireplace poker … those f*kkaz really don’t die very easily, do they?).

    You are a bright and shining star!
    Wishing you a very loving, peaceful & Happy Birthday!!!

  255. Hi, Jenny. What a great post! I saw all the tweets yesterday about birthday stuff, but didn’t read the post until now. I like how you can share the crazy, fully commit to the crazy, and turn the crazy all the way up to 11, but there’s more! 🙂 I really appreciate your heartfelt words. Happy Birthday.

  256. Happy Birthday! And thank you so much for all of your writings. So many of them have touched me in ways I could never relate here in a simple comment. But know that you are loved by someone who has never met you F2F and if you showed up at my door in a blizzard, I’d make you hot tea and let you sleep with the electric blanket and the warmest cat I live with.

  257. Happy birthday.
    Your text made me cry. In a good and necessary way. I hope to get to your point of view one day.
    Thank you for everything.

  258. Dear Jenny
    You continue to break my heart with your beautiful honest posts, and I thank you. I would also like to thank you for the posts that make me wee myself.
    Lots of love
    Angela xx

  259. Happy birthday beautiful lady. 2012 can only get better right?? I hope you know the difference you make in the lives of us all. When the alligators are snapping please keep in mind how much we all love you and the joy you bring us. Even when you talk about the tough stuff. Just knowing there are others who feel crazy and lost makes all the difference. Keep wielding that parasol like a ninja xx

  260. Happy Birthday Jenny, I hope it is Ninja-rific, as in it sneaks up and surprises you with something awesome.

    I hope you remember in your darkest times, that you are often the parasol in a lot of peoples lives that stops us toppling into the alligators jaws. Your blog always, without fail, makes me stop and smile no matter how craptacular my day has been! In fact, your blog is my second port of call when things are getting me down (first is ALWAYS Mr J. Walker, sorry, I think it is a bit like your wine slushie thing!). I just thought you should know, on your birthday, just how much you touch peoples lives and the benefit of your writing.

    I sincerely hope Victor bought you some bath towels for you birthday, preferably with Beyonce embroidered on them!!!

  261. Happy Birthday Jenny

    The true beauty of art is the different interpretations each person see’s. The artist may have one vision in mind when he paints, draws or sculpts it but true art makes the viewer see wonderful, beautiful things that are meaningful to them.

  262. Happy Birthday! I love that picture. It’s my favorite of them all in the haunted mansion and, yes, she knows the alligator is there.

  263. Happy birthday! I’m sorry I missed it, but I did drink a 20 ounce Margarita that evening, so let’s just say I raised the glass in your honor, and not simply because my kids are with their grandparents and I could drink with impunity the next morning. :o)

  264. Happy Birthday! I love the picture and I love that you can see the positive in it. Best wishes for a better year and for happy (& funny) times. Dawn/Quilted Noodles

  265. Happy birthday! I really love the way you choose to see that print. Your perspective is f*cking awesome 🙂

  266. Love the post – HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are awesome. Enjoy your day!
    Love the philosophy on this girl’s outlook on life – I share it 100%. Have a great day!

  267. You just made me cry. That was beautiful. You are such a talented writer. I can not wait to get my hands on your book. I wish you the absolute most joy possible on your special day and EVERY day. You make me laugh on a daily basis. God Bless you for the being the Best kind of Fucked UP! Furiously Love You. Happy Birthday Bloggess, Goddess of all the interwebs

  268. The alligators are always there.

    You need to make a kit to cross-stitch this for a pillow or wall hanging. I bet you could sell them in your store. Beyonce recommends….

    Happy Birthday, from my bathroom to yours!

  269. Happy Birthday Jenny! You make me smile daily. This particular blog hit home with me like none before as I’m in the same place as the girl on the tight rope.
    Hugs for a Happy New Year!

  270. I love the picture. The first thing I thought when I saw it was “That girl is going to kick some alligator ass with her parasol. Poor gator.” I don’t think her eyes look crazy or scared or oblivious. She just looks ready.

  271. Happy Birthday and I love your vision of this picture – it fits so perfectly and it sums up life perfectly.

  272. I hope you have a super fantabulous fantastic wine induced crazy ass fun birthday. I enjoy reading your blog with every bone in my body and It so beyond helpful to see someone else struggling with depression and anxiety and not acting as if everything is ok. Sometimes it’s just not goddamnit…but it will be….just like the girl. Sometimes it’s not perfect but she knows it will be.
    Happy Happy!

  273. Happy Birthday!
    I love your description of the picture, true for me too
    Best wishes for your 38th year xoxox

  274. Beautiful sentiment, you struck a nerve with me.
    Go Jenny, it’s your birthday.
    Go Jenny, it’s your birthday.

  275. Happy birthday, Jenny. I can’t tell you what a chord you struck with me with this column. Wield that umbrella, girl!

  276. Just wanted to add my take on the girl – I think he was going for that look cartoon characters get right at that moment when they see what’s about to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  277. First of all – happy birthday a day late!

    Secondly – I think that it’s the alligator that it oblivious. He thinks he’s got a free meal. His eyes hold only anticipation and excitement. His guard is down. The girl, however, knows the score. She knows that the rope isn’t strong. She knows that she’s only a few feet from those razor sharp teeth. But she also knows, as you pointed out, that she’s a fucking ninja with the parasol. To me, her wide-eyed look out at us is a split second glance of “Oh yeah? You think I’m helpless? You think I’m scared? Okay. Go ahead and think that. We’ll see who walks out of here with new alligator shoes.”

    You rock, Jenny. I love that you share your life, your struggles, your furious happiness and your amazing brain with us.
    You rock, Jenny.

  278. Your birthday is the day after mine. And I turned 28, so we’re almost exactly ten years apart. I don’t know. It seemed like a cool coincidence to me.

    To make this more about you and less about me – very well-written and I like your take on the painting.

  279. Happy B-Day Jen. Thanks for who you are and what you do.
    Screw Victor and all these other people. You make ME happy!
    LY MI

  280. I absolutely love you.
    It’s real, and, so perfectly you, the way you describe… so awesome to decide to be happy despite, or in spite of all the alligators just waiting
    As a bonus, all those people who are superficially positive, just to say they are positive are really pissed because that is so expletively and awesomely positive and real so courageous and absolutely insane by the standard population
    You are a hero 🙂
    with a mask, and shiny gold underwear outside your bright red tights, and everything

  281. What you don’t see in that picture is the conclusion to the story…that she takes that open pararsol and shoves it into the alligator’s mouth, just as the tightrope breaks, and then swims to shore happily like the true ninja that she is. Those bat-shit crazy eyes? Those are just saying, “Watch this, mother fuckers!”

  282. OOOH! I’m a day late. This would not surprise you, if you knew me.
    BUT! Happy Birthday, my dear one!
    I am so excited for you to see what 38 will bring.
    I wish for all of us much love, more fun, and more time between alligator maulings.

  283. We’ve not met but happy belated birthday!

    Funny, what I see in the girl’s face is serenity. She knows she’s perfectly capable of evading the alligator, should she choose, or kicking it’s ass, if that’s the way she wants to go. So she can ignore it because it is, in the end, not the threat everyone perceives it to be. She’s aware of it, yes, but not intimidated. I love that! Thank you!

  284. Happy Birthday to someone that makes me laugh out loud, to someone that has a kind soul, to someone that endures unimaginable pain; but continues to shine while holding her umbrella on the tight rope. You are such an awesome woman – your daughter is one very lucky little girl to have such an awesome mom.

    Happy Birthday from someone that truly loves your thoughts, your antics and your desire to share.

    May 2012 bring you more days of laughter and fewer days of pain.


  285. Many happy returns!
    I can totally relate as to why you love this picture.
    Hang in there. The alligator is going to die from hunger.

  286. Happy Birthday! And imo, this girl looks like when the rope finally goes, she’s going to swan dive right into that alligator’s open mouth, pointy-end-of-the-parasol first, all suck on this, motherfucker.

    Hope you have a lovely time at the Portlandia premiere.

  287. Happy Belated Birthday, Jenny!

    I find that those gifts we buy for ourselves, esp. the ones that others don’t understand or can’t see why we would want them, are the ones that often make me the happiest.

    I hope your concept print does that for you, that it gives you a bright spot of joy every time you look at it, much like your blogs do for so many people.

    Cheers to you, lovely soul.

  288. Happy Birthday, Jenny! I, too, do not see a scared girl in this print. Instead I see a defiant one. One who knows there is danger and can still find something to smile at. Keep smiling, Jenny, because I sure as heck know you make me smile no matter what! Blessings to you for this coming year!