At WORD, I handsold Carver, Rebecca Lee, Saunders, Isa Does It, and myself to:
Also Michael Northrop and Molly D stopped by, and I met Amy Shearn and Myke Cole.
This all happened in an hour! A magic hour!
I went to Tao Lin’s reading last night in Williamsburg with my friend Vannesa, a crisp, forthright New Zealander. I was interested to see what she thought because she had never heard of Tao and also she never goes to literary events, even though she is a lover of books.
Her first response to the event was, “It’s a real intellectual group wank in here, isn’t it?” She also said, “It’s like they don’t even care what the answer is, they just care about how they’re asking the question.” There were some rude questions. Someone asked him if he was retarded. Absurd and inappropriate.
I wonder if people realize that speaking in front of a group of people is hard. I wonder if people realize that most writers are happiest spending time alone with their books and their notebooks and their laptops and also their brains. I wonder if people know how tiring it is to have to answer questions (often the same ones over and over) all the time.
It is an honor and it is a privilege to have people give a shit about your books enough to come see you speak in public, but it is also hard and not everyone feels comfortable with it, and even if they do feel comfortable, it is still exhausting. That is the deal. That’s why this is a job.
This is not a complaint, this is just a fucking news flash.
Stop being weirdos, weirdos. Be nice.
I got on my bike to go to the cafe this morning, but I ended up in the tiny park on the waterfront instead because it was so nice outside at last, and it has been a good couple of days, weeks, months, and I was in fine spirits. I sat there and read my book for a while, only being distracted by all the dogs and their owners walking peacefully on the path behind me, because I love dogs and can’t help but look at them.
Eventually there was an argument amongst the dog owners, which is not surprising. There is nearly always an argument amongst the dog owners in New York City. I wonder sometimes if it is one every minute or one every ten minutes or six hundred a day or what. I would like to see statistics on that. I wonder if there is a file somewhere, perhaps at the desk of a city employee who has been tasked with establishing the real truth.
In this instance the argument was between a young woman walking her dog on the grass, and a middle-aged couple walking their dog on the path. There is a sign at the entrance of the park that says, “Please do not walk your dog on the grass.” The middle-aged couple, with their thick and lovely accents, pointed out the sign to the woman. They explained that it had something to do with seeding the grass. The man asked her to follow the rules and added, “I live in this neighborhood.”
The young woman engaged in the criminal act of walking her dog on the grass replied, “The sign only says, ‘Please.’ It doesn’t say, ‘Don’t.’”
The middle-aged couple started laughing at her. I mean, it was pretty funny. Her argument was terrible. Her argument went against all the rules of society. She was from another planet, I thought for a moment. Like she was an alien in human form sent here to make ridiculous arguments on a beautiful spring day. She added, “And I live in this neighborhood, too.”
The man said, “I feel sorry for you, miss.” They kept walking and chuckling. They weren’t even that mad in the end because she was being so dumb.
I felt sorry for her, too. I know what it’s like to get busted for something minor and then feel embarrassed and then argue a stupid point to try and get out of it, but I try to admit when I’m wrong lately because I end up feeling way better about it all later on, late at night, right before bed, which is when I really have to answer to myself. But sometimes it is important to witness when people do things wrong in order to know how to do things the right way. I am constantly in need of reminders of how to behave myself. So I guess I was glad I saw the argument.
Later I biked past the bookstore and knocked on the window and Emily came outside for a minute and chatted with me. “I am having a great day because I have already witnessed the frailty of humanity,” I said excitedly.
In conclusion: Ha ha, what a dumb argument. And also: life is bittersweet and beautiful.
Have a nice day.