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…