Just to clarify, I was not in literal death match.

A few days ago I was very proud of myself because I actually managed to leave the house like a fully functioning person to take part in the San Antonio Literary Death Match, which I had accidentally tweeted as “Come join me at the Literal Death Match!” until someone was like, “Um…what?” and I quickly realized that perhaps my brain wasn’t entirely recovered from this latest bout of depression fog.

But I had the energy to be a judge, which was very nice, except that when I got there I realized that the other judges were specializing in the artistic intangibles and entertainment but I was the “literary merit judge” and had to have multiple literature references for every presenter and that’s when I panicked a little and considered running because my mind instantly went blank of every author I’ve ever heard of before, including myself.

If I was less nervous I would have taken a better picture of them setting up but I was afraid and was hiding behind some bushes so just use your imagination.

I immediately sat in the wrong place on stage and began to panic as it would soon be clear to everyone that I was not prepared for this, but instead of just faking it by pretending to be qualified I instead informed the audience that I had placed second in UIL Literary Criticism my junior year of high school but that I was pretty sure that was only because I referred to everything as “Kafkaesque” because I thought it sounded smart.

Then I gave each of the authors actual feedback on what I loved about the work they presented and how it affected me, but I was too panicked to come up with multiple literary comparisons so instead I pronounced each author as “incredibly Kafkaesque” and then compared every single one to a book from The Baby-Sitters Club series, except I haven’t read them since middle school so I just made up all the plots. Other literary judges at past events may have referenced Maya Angelou or the Brontë sisters, whereas I found myself saying things like, “Your complicated but fascinating main character reminded me very much of Baby Sitters Club #108 when Stacey was exploring her sexuality and recent lupus diagnosis” or “I think we all can agree that your work, of course, captures the excitement and titillation of Baby Sitters Club #806 where Dawn finds out she was switched at birth with Claudia and has an exciting summer romance with hot lifeguard who unfortunately later turns out to be a serial killer.”

Luckily, the audience was kind, the event was funny and light-hearted, and most of the people there either understood that I was insane, or were suddenly really interested in checking out those Baby Sitter club books that don’t actually exist at all. Also, I’m now wondering if I said “Baby-Sitters Club” or “Adventures in Babysitting” which was a movie I liked in the 80s.

Regardless, I had fun and met wonderful people and then panicked and ran away very quickly as soon as it was over but I call that a win. And you should absolutely check out the books of the authors (Jonny Garza Villa, Kimberly Garza, Rubén Degollado and Bobby Finger) because they are all amazing and exactly as Kafkaesque as you would like them to be.

45 thoughts on “Just to clarify, I was not in literal death match.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I reused the same Kafka research paper in college three times 🙂 I didn’t realize until the third time that it’s considered plagiarism which is bullshit cuz how can you plagiarize your own work??

  2. Sometimes, we show up, we make some funny for the people, we go home. I hid in the dark kitchen during most of a story-telling show last night while all the other performers had the grace to fill open audience seats.Line cooks glared at me a lot, but I wasn’t in a tail spin of self-loathing by the time I hit the stage.

    We take the wins where we can get ’em.

  3. I so needed this as I’m trying to get on a call with someone to help me set up deduction codes & this man has only ever seen me at my most feral aka trying to set up something I don’t understand while stress eating Doritos because I went to school to be a DJ and tripped and fell up the ladder into HR Management

  4. Oh Jenny, I love you so much! In a completely platonic and non-stalkerish way of course.

    This was exactly what I needed to read today.

  5. I am glad you could be there, and I am betting everyone else was glad too. ❤️

  6. Omg now I want to write something just so you can compare it to a babysitters club book that doesn’t exist. That’s now a life goal lol

  7. Sometimes forgetting everything and making up stuff on the fly is just what humorists do, I’m glad you managed to make everyone just as confused as you felt with some humor. Just think of how much you made their brains spin….

  8. This is 100% on-brand and anyone who invited you without realizing what they were in for just hasn’t done their homework, and that’s on them. I LOVED every bit of this. It reminded me of Adventures in Babysitting Club #432 when Darlene got invited to be the grand marshal in the Apple Butter Day parade but when she got there, she realized they thought she was another Darlene who was a rodeo trick rider and then she had to pretend to be recovering from hip replacement and that’s why she couldn’t ride her horse instead of the back of a convertible driven by the mayor’s handsome cousin who was just visiting from an East Coast university. It was just like that. Except more Kafkaesque, obviously.

  9. I am just going to guess that the authors were as terrified as you were, and SO relieved to be compared to the Babysitters Club and random Kafka, as opposed to, say, Joyce Carol Oates (whom I do not like and do not understand). You probably saved some poor writer’s life out there, Jenny.

  10. I think both the Lords of Hell AND the babysitters club would be fine with this. And now I would like you to write an Adventures in Babysitting and a BSC cross over please, it could be a “super special”!!!

  11. As someone who nailed her standardized national high school achievement test in English 40 years ago only because one of the essay choices was about The Metamorphosis, I approve of everything you did. (And I probably used long, convoluted sentences on the test too.) Next on your itinerary: Science Fair Judge! 😉❤️

  12. I was a *huge* BabySitters Club fan as a kid (there’s actually one I still read every few years) but I must say your made-up plots sound *much* more interesting than most of the books! I’m glad you were able to go even if it wasn’t perfect.

  13. I hope you were well-mic’ed (you know, the microphones picked up everything clearly) and that the audience didn’t miss a single syllable of what was undoubtedly the best afternoon of their year, if not their lives!

  14. Love This, Love You, Kafka not so much…but Literal Death Match was made for you! Wish I’d been there.

  15. I’m thinking they knew just what they were getting into when they invited you, and I’m also guessing that you were a fantastic highlight of the whole shebang.

  16. OMG, Jenny! I LOVE reading EVERY SINGLE THING you write because I always somehow end up feeling a little less like a ScrewUp and more like Other People…or at least like OneOtherPersonOnThePlanet. Thank you for sharing all of the fears and insecurities because the rest of us think it’s JustUs.

  17. They do exist! You are a literary genius after all. The Baby-sitters Club Graphic Novels #1-7: A Graphix Collection: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix) https://a.co/d/07Ti4sH

  18. When I was pregnant I worked in a bookstore because my friend, the owner, was annoyed she paid all that money to the state for taxes and she wanted to feel that it went to someone she knew for maternity leave (I just wasn’t teaching that year. See? Other people are out here with convoluted plots too). ANYWAYS. I was the go to person for any Babysitter Club Books. It was well know that I knew those puppies and could get you the next one in the series with minimal description! It’s pretty much safe to admit now that the twins are now 37, I had never read a single book in the series but only memorized the descriptions on the back of the books.

  19. I’m sure everyone loved it. People just have to have thought that you were doing a comedy bit.
    I would have thought that.
    But I’m weird.

    Also: “Pretend you’re good at it!” 😁💛

  20. Hi Ms. Jenny! Truly a win! You showed up. Sorry for missing the festivities (hope you don’t mind, I sent you a message via Facebook). Enjoyed my visit to Nowhere.

    (Yay! I never read my facebook messages so thanks for letting me know! ~ Jenny)

  21. The world could use lots more judges like you, Jenny. More joy than judgement. When I was in VISTA training (domestic peace corps, 1967), I froze & went completely blank when we were all asked to tell our funniest memory. I concocted a ridiculous, completely untrue tale based on a pun and (surprisingly) got away with it. Cringworthy stuff. Reading your joyful judging adventure brings it all back & makes me smile. Thanks for all the ways you lighten our loads.

  22. I LOVED the Kafka – deKafka joke and I fully plan to share it on to other people today. Pete and Jenny, you made my morning. Starting the day with a good laugh makes the meetings not seem quite so long.

  23. i love you so much. I babble all the time, and I hate it, but you make me feel that I am in admirable company and not alone in my confusion and oddness.

  24. Adventures in Babysitting is such a great movie! And nobody reads Kafka on purpose anyways. Well done Jenny, keep em guessing!

  25. Maybe it’s a sign from the universe that you should create a series of faux-Babysitters-Club books.

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  27. The picture from the bushes is all of us. Or some of us, but I feel it. I’m sure you were the judge we all want when we’re feeling our most Kafkaesque. Thanks for being you.
    But now I’m going to check out Gloria and the exciting moneymaking opportunity, listed right above, because I’m sure that’ll be life-changing.

    (I was just about to send her to spam but now I’ll leave her so you don’t look crazy. Gloria deserves a break. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  28. I was there! You were excellently on brand. And I think it’s a shame those Baby Sitter’s Club books don’t exist. I’d read them.

    (You have no idea how much of a relief this is to hear. ~ Jenny)

  29. Okay, but collectively we all realize that we’re now going to have to crowdsource these Babysitter Club books Jenny made up, right? We’re going to have to set up a discord or something and start writing these things because they have been spoken in to existence and therefore we must now make them materialize.

  30. I completely understand this as a librarian with anxiety that freezes every time someone asks for recommendations! Books? Authors? Whosit? Whatsit?

  31. Oh! Well my jaw dropped when I read Dawn and Claudia had been switched at birth!! Great to know it was all made up 😂 Jenny is hilarious

  32. Maybe we could write a series called “Babysitting the Adventure Club” about an intrepid bunch of nannies/mannies who are left in charge of a group of kids who have a TARDIS that looks like a large metallic chicken.

    Jenny, it sounds as if, despite your anxiety’s best efforts, you were charming and funny and warm and encouraging, and what better gift could there be for authors? You rock.

  33. If you ever get the chance, go to Prague. They are kafka crazy there. Museums, shops, memorials, art pieces. It was insane, and wonderful, and I would go back tomorrow if I could

  34. OMG LIT CRIT SISTEREN PRIDE!! (UIL ‘00 – ‘02, myself. Kaftaesquely high fives!)

  35. Now you have absolutely no choice but to write these Babysitters Club books. No choice. Your hands are tied in this matter. I will be waiting.

    I have read Bobby Finger. I will have to check out the others.

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