the end of the good day
Well, even if certain persons who said they'd come (ahem, Picasso? Snufkina? Do I need to tattoo these things on your tender skins?) didn't make it to the reading, others did: Thread (who brought a very patient friend), Princess, my odd artist, and Timbre (!) who I had no idea was going to be there. His presence was actually very interesting; all three of us who read were dealing with how our various childhoods had intersected with the African-American communities in our towns, and his was the only black face in the audience. His were also some of the most intelligent comments afterwards, as it happened, and then he took me out for a burger and said more smart stuff to me, and I struggled to keep up as I shoveled fries into my maw and tried to keep from passing out from exhaustion and all that adrenaline draining back out of my bloodstream.
The whole experience was intense. I'm trained as a public speaker; I competed in high school and so on, but it's been a long time, and I made some on-the-fly changes to what I read that made me stumble in a few places. I was also the last up, at my suggestion. The two women who read before me had much sadder pieces, and I thought we should end on an up note, so I agitated to be last. I also wanted to give Picasso, who is perhaps even more notorious than I for lateness, a chance to show his mug. But, no go. So I stood up and delivered my four minutes, and people laughed at some stuff, and afterwards I babbled senseless answers to some questions and autographed (!) a couple of books. I know you semi-famous authors of my acquaintance are probably yawning at the newbie, but it was damn cool. I mean, the last time I read something in public, it was my father's eulogy; I'm pretty rusty. Although people laughed at that, too, against their will (but not against my intent), so I apparently still have some chops.
And, here is the coolest part: someone approached me afterwards. She hadn't caught my last name, so I told her again. I've seen your writing before, she said, maybe in Kitchen Sink? I told her that my biggest piece for them had been the article about the history of ramen, and she said, that was the Blue Issue! (KS themes their issues according to some arcane logic known only to them). I read that one!
And then she gave me her card, and mentioned that she's starting a San Francisco magazine. A glossy. To go up against the content-free 7x7. Snippy and totally committed to the Bay Area.
Well, heck, I'm both of those things. And she needs writers. Ha!