Thursday, December 2, 2010

How To Be Cool: Tips From A Secretly Timid Art School Drop-out

This Tuesday, after hastily finishing a five page paper on the reunification of Germany in 1990 (oh and might I say it is a delightful diatribe on that subject, full of fun facts and quotes, to share with your friends slash family! It would not be going too far to describe it as a romp) slappin' on a dress and some leggings and chugging a Dogfish Head 90 Minute (why do you taste better than love ever did??), I headed down to the Coolidge Corner Theatre and watched my friend Katie deliver a quite hilarious introduction of the one and only Amy Sedaris, who then showed us how to do some crafts and fielded questions from the audience. Both ladies were delightful, and I was seated pretty far back but if you asked the front row I'm sure they'll confirm that Amy moves with the undying grace of the ages and smells like sweet lotus blossoms falling on a temperate spring pool. I don't know, I'm guessing.

Afterwards I let myself be carried off with the crowd to the Booksmith to get my book signed. I always have a lot of bravado when I get in the line, and then as I get closer and closer to celebrity, I slowly remember that I am naturally a shy and apologetic person and by the time I get to the fame I've compromised myself down to not making eye contact, barely muttering a response to any and all questions asked of me, and shuffling out of the line as fast as I can so not to get in the way. You might not think that this would be my survival technique dujour from meeting me or reading these online blog posts, but I am meek, internets. I am a quiet coyote. I'm a note leaver and a letter writer, the type to avoid confrontation at any cost. I fully intend to inherit the earth.

Sometimes I make it pretty far with high hopes ("I'm gonna ask for a picture and tell him/her that I loved him/her on that one thing they did and they'll laugh and we'll probably be BFF 4 life and get each others initials shaved in the backs of our heads...") and then the Famous People Handlers are so businesslike and they don't smile and they manhandle my property in some way to make sure I don't have a bomb or chloroform and I totally lose footing. Then its just all downhill from there, I start babbling and making that nervous laughter that sounds like a dying pelican because I can't stop breathing and laughing simultaneously so at this point I'm alternating between some kind of half hearted giggle and taking huge, life affirming gulps of air...

So the moral of that story is I was too shy to ask for a picture and now I regret it. At least I got to bask in the sunshine of Amy's presence for a few cherished seconds, and I have a personalized signed copy of Amy's book. The inscription reads: "Zoe - Keep sharing your needles, skein brain." Although, to be honest, when she asked me if I crafted and I said "I knit. A little." What I meant was, I once knitted a scarf in 2007 that is too wide and has little fuzzies wherever I switched colors because I don't know how to do stripes and I haven't really picked up the needles since because I am unable to learn things right now that don't have to do with getting a degree or getting paid. Details.

Actually the meat of this blog post ("What? It''s not over?" I hear you, trust me, imagine living in this brain. Its like an over-loud sports bar all the time except playing on the speakers is not sports announcers, its my own constant neurosis and narrative. Its like I'm trapped in a Seinfeld episode that won't ever end.) is this: lets talk about my top 3 Brookline Booksmith Public Reading experiences.

Picture, if you will, if you can, 2002. I'm 13, maybe 14. I'm dumpy, I'm awkward, and I'm accompanied by my mom at Margaret Cho's reading of her autobiography, "I'm The One That I Want". First off, it's 2002, I assume the Booksmith and the Coolidge Corner Theatre have not yet formed the love bond that they have now, but even in addition to that Margaret is not yet a superstar, so the reading is in the Readers and Writers room, downstairs in the bookstore.

I am mere feet away from Margaret Cho as she reads from her autobiography about all of her sexual adventures and misadventures and wetting the bed, all the trappings of future stardom. I've just started 8th grade and moved to Winchester street, and all these new things are happening to my body! Hair in new places! Weird feelings! Zits, argh!1!!!Cho's sexplicit (I just made that word up, move over Shakespeare/Sarah Palin) life is something I have trouble relating to but I read the biography and loved it because I love Margaret, she is so funny and honest, and aside from all the underground S&M dungeon stuff, an excellent role model. After the reading we got to meet her and have the book signed, and my mom mentioned how much we loved a stand up show she did at the Wang, and I was deeply and fundamentally embarrassed by her sheer existence. This was neither the first or last time that would happen. You are embarrassed by your parents until you become them, and then you have to be embarrassed by yourself like an adult.

My number two greatest all time Booksmith author talk was Linda Barry circa 2007ish. Linda Barry, if you don't know her, is absolutely amazing. I found out about her when I was 10 and preferred reading cartoon anthologies at the Newton Public Library to (ugh) talking to children my own age (gross). That reading could be a blog post all of its own, how she started out singing to calm her nerves, or how she's so great because she promotes art as something accessible to everybody which I totally dig because in all facets I'm a dabbler and a dilettante which makes me suspicious about anything you need training for.

I was still in art school at the time, trying to figure out if I belonged there, (and if not there, then where?) so I was asking myself a lot of questions about drive and motivation. Barry is so passionate in person, the way she talks about learning how to draw and express herself through art made me think about my own expression and art, who I created for and why. She was inspiring and hopeful, and I've always thought I should write her a letter but I never have.

Amy Sedaris can go in as my number three favourite all time author talk, although I have been to many more. Because she was amazing but also because I've already made this post too long and I'm going to get those awkward responses to it that are like "Ohh, loved the blog post Zoe, only took me half an hour to read it, its the perfect length since I don't have anything better to do in my life than read your gargantuan cyber natterings. OBLIGATORY EYE ROLL." And I'm like "I'M SORRY ITS AN ADDICTION" and then they're like "You already have an addiction its called alcoholism" and I'm like "oooh, low blow, Mom, low blow. Hand me that bottle opener."

Sorry. Those...those are my issues. We've gotten off track somehow.

Thanks for reading, ya'll are the salt of the earth. Keep on craftin' on, and come to the author readings, because its a cheap way to briefly touch the flickering flame of celebrity, and then years later you get to say you hobnobbed with so-and-so in the Brookline Booksmith basement before they blew up (figuratively or literally, both are equally impressive). That is plus a million cool points right there, and if we aren't striving for maximum cool then what is even the point of getting up in the morning???? Stay classy, 617.


Katie said...

thanks for the ups. your posting rules. <3

Zoe said...



Paul Theriault said...

that's it, z is the queen of this blog. anyone surprised?
that was a great half hour i just spent, z, except i was horrified to see that you, quite early on, left out an apostrophe. i won't tell you where.

Zoe said...

(lawl see what I did there!?!)