YHL in PDX! or Fun with John and Sherry

I have been a reader of John and Sherry Petersik’s blog, Young House Love, for years and years. They have an awesome, no-holds-barred attitude toward home improvement (DIY in particular) and their successes and failures along the way. What makes YHL so fun to read – even for someone like me, whose do-it-yourself experience is all vicarious – are three things: their candor, their humor, and their “You Are Here” perspective. After reading for a pretty short time, you feel like you’ve met John and Sherry; after not-too-many months, you are sure you know John and Sherry.

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I’m obviously not the only one who feels that way, either. We arrived at Rejuvenation Hardware in SE Portland at about 12:03 for a noon book signing – yeah, they wrote a book, and it’s awesome – to find the line out the door and down the block.

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Who are “we”? Quinland and I, of course. (David has no interest in home improvement beyond wishing Q and I would keep our stuff in order.) I introduced Quinland to Young House Love when John and Sherry began posting hilarious things about their daughter, Clara, on their family blog, Young House Life. Q was instantly hooked, and in fact often knows the scoop on the Petersiks young and old before I do. (To her great delight, I might add. She likes to beat me to the punch whenever possible, in all things.)

When we got to Rejuvenation, the 15-minute talk that John and Sherry give at these events had already started. I panicked. I didn’t want to miss a thing. We barreled into the store (right past the patient folks in the queue) and hid stood near the playhouse under the stairs to hear John and Sherry speak. They were right there. On the stairs. In fact, they later Instagram-ed a photo of those very stairs.

Have no fear, those of you who are wondering about my manners or morals; we went right back to the end of the line as soon as the speech was over. I would never actually take cuts in a line! In fact, this whole escapade made us lose our place and then some, so it was all fair and square.

John and Sherry look and sound JUST like they do in their online videos, which for some reason Quinland and I both found strange. (I have no idea what we expected; they have some mad video skills, after all.) My fangirl mania reached manic heights at this point, and I sheepishly asked to step in front of someone to snap some photos with my phone. Please note that John and Sherry look very LITTLE like they do in these photos, which is not strange, since my photography skills leave something to be desired.)

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Sherry is gazing intently at John as he talks about the whole book process, good listener that she must be. She was all kinds of animated during all the moments I did not record for posterity.

Let me explain a little about the signing process. Nothere is too muchLet me sum up. 

Lots of people gathered in a massive line that snaked all through the shop from end to end and then doubled back past a table stacked with their books – where you could also sign their guestbook – and on to a meet-and-greet table where you could hand your book to J & S to get it signed, hand your camera to an assistant to snap a picture of you all, and then babble incoherent nonsense to the oh-so-patient authors. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

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Q managed to brave the line with me for about thirty minutes. We moved so rarely during that time – every five minutes or so, we would take one step forward and cheer, “Someone else got their book signed!” – that she became discouraged. She knew that David was heading downtown to go to his friend Rich’s birthday party at Ground Kontrol, and she began to debate. Sixty seconds with John and Sherry, or a couple of hours of Centipede and Space Invaders? Classic video games won the day. I daresay that if Clara had been with them, she might have braved the line… but no matter. A car pulled up to the corner and swooped her away.

I amused myself from then on by chatting up all the people around me in line – the high school teachers behind me who had driven down from Seattle, the sweet couple from Hillsboro in front of me who held my place as I scouted the line and peeked around the store. (There were some awfully cool things to be seen, including these globes, which I want desperately but can’t justify buying. But look how the light shines through them! Love.)

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The poor girl behind us had been deputized to buy four books for her friends and had cramping arms to show for it. I lent her my Thirty-One bag and crammed all my stuff in my purse for the duration. Sore arms are no joke.

Why did I have an extra bag? Well, I’d decided to bring a little flip-photo album for Clara as a tiny way to pay back John and Sherry for all the entertainment I’ve gotten from YHL over the years. It’s always amazing to me that blogs are free to all, and yet they give more value (more frequently!) than magazines. For a reader and DIY-drooler like me, that’s worth quite a bit. Of course, I was inadvertently mocked by my new friends in line behind me. When we got close enough and they saw that pile at Sherry’s feet (visible in the last photo of J & S, above), she was all, “Oh, my gosh! I think people are bringing them presents! What’s up with that?!” This made me squirm a bit and actually made me debate whether I’d have to brave their scorn by signing the guestbook. (I still signed it: PDX ❤ YHL. But with a real heart.)

Finally, after two hours in line, it was my turn. I walked up, mumbled something about how Q wanted to meet them but couldn’t hold out, asked them to sign my book on the wrong page, and got my photo taken.

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They were so sweet, just as though I had spoken coherent words instead of nonsense. They signed next to their photos as I had asked, yearbook-style (John even wrote, “Lori – Have a great summer!”) and kindly slipped my now-embarrassing gift under the table to open later. (I included a note giving them explicit permission to regift or thrift it. No sense cluttering up that beautiful home if it’s not a good fit for Clara.)

Thus ends my fangirl extravaganza. Those of you who are not as easily starstruck as I may not get what all the fuss was about… and that’s okay. I get the whole polite-distance thing, I really do. It’s just not me. I’m a gusher. So I had to give a great big “Thank You!”…

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…to the Petersiks for flying all the way out here and for making Portland one of their few stops. (Heck, Southern California didn’t even rate.)

I got a kick out of wandering the halls and aisles of Rejuvenation, too. Look at this gem:

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I want it. Remember what I said I wanted in my home? Colorful, whimsical, welcoming? I think this works.

Spill: are you as starstruck as I am? Do you go to book signings? Hang out after poetry readings? Get movie-star autographs? Try to get backstage at your favorite band’s show? Are you incredibly disappointed that you didn’t meet John and Sherry on the book tour? Tell all…

8 thoughts on “YHL in PDX! or Fun with John and Sherry

  1. I completely get it Lori!! If I got the chance to meet them in person I would be a total fan girl too ;). I’m so happy for you that you had the chance to go to one of the signings (and just a teensy bit jealous too!). xx

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    1. Hi, Tamsyn! Hope you are well and that the physical and mental stress of having a newborn hasn’t sent any MS symptoms off the rails. I haven’t been commenting, but I check you out regularly in my reader. Lincoln is adorable and I love seeing him grow, and Max’s haircut is so grown up!

      I’m always glad to hear that someone else is as big a fan of John and Sherry’s as I am. Now we need to set up a meeting with Katie Bower and I’ll be all set, lol!

      xo,
      Lori

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  2. I met them, too when they were in Palo Alto! They are so super sweet and so gracious. I told myself I was going to say something witty when i went up to meet them, instead I kind of stood there like a robot until John asked if he could sign my book. We then talked about the weather (laaaame!) and how I’m from VA, too. But how cute are they?

    And that’s so sweet that you brought a flip photo book for Clara! Not weird at all and I get your justification of it.

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    1. Thanks, Maria! I need all the reassurance I can get that I am not a freaky stalker. Though I might be, just a teensy bit… since they don’t know me and all. Oh, well! I know them, right?

      I’m so glad you got to see them in Palo Alto! They were absolutely adorable – I totally agree. So gracious and so charming, and they looked as fresh after two hours as they were at the beginning, and just as excited to see each new person.

      xo,
      Lori

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  3. I had the opportunity to meet George St. Peirre. My favorite UFC fighter. He was at the UFC fan Exp in Vegas when Tim and I went there for a fight in July. The first day I waited in line for 5 hours with hundreds of other fans for a chance to meet him and get an autograph. He was only signing for 2 hours and I didn’t make it. Just barely though by like 15 people. So I knew I would regret it if I didn’t want in his line again the next day. So I did. I waited 5 and a half hours and I just barely made it by 10 people to get a picture with him. I was so star struck and giddy I could barely say hi my name is Whitney. He signed the autograph card. To Windy From George St. Peirre. He is French Canadian so I decided it was a language barrier and not my inability to state my own name. All in all it was worth the long hours with no food or bathroom breaks to meet my favorite fighter.

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    1. It’s such a good thing that I wasn’t eating or drinking or I would have spit all over my monitor when I read “unable to say my own name.” Isn’t it so funny how we completely freeze up in situations like that?

      You are amazing to have spent 10 hours in line. The only times I’ve done that were for the Rose Parade and to try out for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

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  4. I always try to play it cool, which means I wil only run into stars I truly adore with spinach in my front teeth or a huge whitehead on my nose, black circles under my eyes — you get the picture. So then, I act calm and “Hi, nice to meet you” and it actually just tests their politeness scale: do they laugh? act like the spinach/whitehead/mascara is not there? turn into a friend/confidant? (hey, there’s some crap in your teeth…)

    Seriously, though, I generally don’t recognize famous people. I have literally bumped into Ryan Phillippe and didn’t know it was Ryan Phillippe (though he was polite and friendly, and I was polite and friendly) until all my friends said “Oh my God, you just bumped into Ryan Phillippe!” Doh!

    I like the idea of actually purposing going to an event to see a celebrity I admire. I used to take my boys to wait in line for baseball players to sign their stuff. Then Adam Kennedy dissed my five-year-old and all the other kids waiting (still hate that guy) while Tim Salmon went out of his way to make sure that no child was left disappointed. My son was so sad that his brother got a signature and he didn’t that I went home to write a nasty letter to Mr. Kennedy (my sister will tell you I am a famous letter-writer; not my kindest trait) and finally decided, he was too arrogant to care what kids or fans thought anyway and wasn’t worth my energy. But I will tell you, my son was sad and disappointed and confused by this unfairness for a very long time.

    I guess celebrities carry a lot of responsibility, and can have bad days, but come on… I am glad that all of you posting here had good experiences.

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    1. I know we talked about this comment, so it totally felt like I had replied!

      It is such a nice feeling to know that a famous person went out of their way to be kind. We always had such nice interactions with Miles Hunt, and I’ll never forget him describing how starstruck he was by Paul Weller. It’s like he was able to channel that feeling when he became famous. I wonder if Adam Kennedy had some horrible experience as a fan and subconsciously took it out on the kids. Hmmm….

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