1. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Sometimes you just find yourself in the right place at the right time. Take last weekend. David Sedaris was in Brooklyn to kick off his 20-city US book tour for Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. (Yes, that’s the name of the book.) The terrific indie bookstore, Powerhouse Arena, hosted. They closed the store to the general public to accommodate the reading. A conservative estimate had about 300 people on hand. (This compared to my most recent reading wherein exactly two people showed, one of which was bookstore staff.)
Sedaris is one of those rare authors who is just as dynamic in person as on the page. He is engaging and witty and totally comfortable in a crowd. And did I mention hilarious? He had the crowd laughing so hard at times I thought I was at a Louis C.K. show.
Afterward we waited on a long, snaking line to get our books signed. The line was so long, in fact, that if I had known at the outset I might have left the store. And that would have been a mistake. At this stage in his career (seven million copies of his books sold worldwide) he certainly doesn’t need to be slogging it out on a grueling tour. Someone in the audience pointed that out. Sedaris said, “I love it. It’s exactly what I always wanted to do.” It was clear that much was true. He takes his time talking to each person, looking them in the eyes and peppering them with questions. It was also clear that he gets a lot of his material for future books from talking and listening to people.
No doubt this kind of meet and greet takes its toll on a person, mentally and physically. When I got to the front of the line and he mentioned his back was getting tired, I nodded in agreement, as if I knew something about signing books for three hours.
He said, “I left my back scratcher in my other bag. Would you scratch my back?”
I just stared.
“No, really. Would you scratch my back?”
I glanced at his publicist who gave me a nod as if to say, Yes, he’s serious. He does this sort of thing all the time. We can’t control him.
So I stepped up and gave his back a good scratch.
“A little to the right.”
Look for a mention of me in his next book. Until then, check out what he inscribed in my book.
Have you ever talked with an author at a book signing? Do you have any celebrity sightings?
Here is a clip of him on Letterman a while back, extolling the virtues of the Stadium Pal.
2. FOMO. This week I received an invitation to a friend’s party and was distressed to realize that I was already committed to helping another friend pick up some boxes she has in a storage unit. I’d hate to miss this party. It’s going to be fun! Things will happen! Cool things! Things that are talked about for decades! What if I become The Blitz like that episode of How I Met Your Mother? Then my mind started whirring with ways I could do both. Maybe I could arrange to go to the storage earlier in the day. Maybe we could go another day. (And the sinister one…) Maybe I’ll tell her something came up. Something far more important. Of course. Does this happen to you? Please say yes.
Not too long ago I read a blog post from Seth Godin about the fear of missing out (FOMO). He calls it a kind of “reverse schadenfreude of FOMO (the pain we may feel from others having good fortune).”
Somewhere, right this very moment, someone is having more fun than you.
Making more money than you.
Doing something more important, with better friends, and a happier ending, than you.
You’re missing out.
The only place joy can be found is right here and right now. Everyone who is selling you dissatisfaction is working for their own selfish ends.
Do you ever experience FOMO?
3. Weekly photo challenge: Pattern. I don’t usually participate in the photo challenge because I don’t consider myself much of a photographer. But this week’s theme made me immediately think of this shot I took of the floor at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Something about the colors and repeating diamonds intrigue me.
4. Back to Basics Creative Writing Class. From June 10 – August 11, I’m teaching a creative writing class through The Loft Literary Center. The class is online so you can log on to download lessons or post your work at your convenience, say at six o’clock in the morning while wearing your bunny slippers. (Hey, I’m not judging.) This will be the fourth time I’ve taught this class, and I can honestly say that the students and I have a great time. We discuss craft, read like writers and share our work in an encouraging environment.
Here’s a quick blurb from the catalog:
In this online class, you will learn the essential building blocks of creative writing (fiction or memoir). Each class is completely devoted to one element of story to help you hone your skills in that area. Through structured writing exercises and analyzing master works, we’ll examine the key components of good creative writing. Whether you need some fixes for common plot problems or want to brush up on dialogue, these targeted classes will give you all the strategies you need to succeed at the craft of writing. This class is perfect for beginners who want to look at the mechanics of writing prose.
If you’d like to find out more, click here.
5. Happy Birthday, Reggie! I consider today his birthday, but of course I don’t know when it is. Not really. Today is the day I adopted him. (Happy Adopt-a-versary! doesn’t roll off the tongue.) Five years ago today, I walked into the NYC animal shelter in Harlem to sign for a mangy English Springer Spaniel who had been brought in as a stray from the streets of the Bronx. Animal control had no information other than that. His fur was so gnarled and matted, the shelter staff figured he’d been a stray for months. He stank to high heaven. I brought him to a groomer where it took three shampoos and a close shave to freshen him up.
The shelter had red-flagged him which means that he had responded inappropriately to temperament tests, perhaps by growling or barking. Overcrowded shelter + A red flag = End of the line. Reggie had been in the shelter for three weeks and was scheduled to be euthanized. They were not showing him to potential adopters and had taken his photo off the website. I suppose someone reading this might think me bighearted or benevolent, saving a dog who was on death row, but really in all the important ways the exact opposite is true.
He has taught me more about how to be a good human being than many of my fellow human beings. In fact one of the most important lessons he has taught me is inherent in what I know about his past or lack thereof. (For more, check out My Guru Has Fur.) As much as we want answers to all of our questions, we don’t always get them. We always want to know why, how and wherefore. We want closure. Well, sometimes, that doesn’t happen. I’ll never know what kind of life he had before he ended up a stray, if he experienced some kind of trauma or simply got lost. I don’t even know with certainty how old he is. But what I do know is that none of that really matters anymore. He is a light in my life and brings me indescribable joy. And that is the greatest gift of all.
Have a great weekend, everyone!