Yesterday afternoon I felt so down. It didn’t start out that way. Snark, a wonderful blogger who laments today’s soap operas was very gracious and plugged my blog on his website. At first, it was exciting, and then I started to hit the refresh key way too much.
Then I got a phone call to a credit card company I owe money to. Thankfully, I have the money, but I’m at the point where I’m trying to think of friends I could borrow money from, but I couldn’t think of any. I then made the mistake of watching the news and hearing about how gas prices are going up, there’s a shortage of rice, everything is going wrong, and it’s beyond my control.
I went to bed for an hour. I re-read Eckhart Tolle, who said we react from our ego, and if we have money issues it’s part of our pain body. I debated asking Eckhart for money. I knew he would tell me to breathe instead.
I was planning on going to a reading by Marc Acito, a comic novelist I heard about in Ariel Gore’s book How to Be a Famous Writer before You Die. But it was all the way in the City, which involved things. Like getting up, Putting on clothes. Getting on BART. Eating. Going to the bookstore. I didn’t want to do any of those things. But I thought, you need to get up, you have to get up. Yes, things are hard, but just get up.
I did. I brought the mail to my landlady, I walked to BART. I went to the Rockridge library, then back to BART. I managed to walk to Lori’s diner and had a grilled cheese sandwich. Then I walked to Borders.
I love Borders. I try to get most of my books at independent bookstores and book sales, but I love how there’s no clocks, how large everything is. Just stepping in the store made me feel better. I head up to the fourth floor for the reading, hurrying because I was running late. One problem: it was 7 and there were three people there.
I felt so glad I came. I mean, I know I’m just one person, but I know it must stink to see so many empty chairs. Anne Lamott wrote about it in Bird by Bird how when you read to an empty house it’s usually the employees, and then there’s a homeless person, but the homeless person is usually there for the free brie cheese they are serving. I sat down, and more people came.
Finally, Marc Acito came, and he talked about his new book Attack of the Theater People which is a sequel to his first book How I Paid For College. His narrator Edward gets kicked out of Julliard because he’s too “jazz hands.” Too musical, too much. Then Marc said something I could relate to: there are no happy endings in life, just a lot of “Yes, buts…” and “No, howevers…” It reminded me of what Mrs. Trotter said to Gilly in The Great Gilly Hopkins: “…all that stuff about happy endings is lies. The only ending in the world is death. Now that might or might not be happy, but either way, you ain’t ready to die, are you?”
He read from the new book, about how Edward accidentally blinds a woman while working at a perfume guy at a department store. I found myself laughing, feeling better. Suddenly the fact there’s a shortage of rice didn’t matter anymore. He also said that the letters that meant a lot to him were the ones from sick people who read his book and said “Thank you. I needed to laugh.”
He talked about failure, how of course there are times in our lives we learn more about failures than successes. Of course, it’s true. If I hadn’t failed at being a pre-school teacher in a lab class I would’ve never gone to Mills, never would’ve graduated college.
He also talked about a book he wrote that just wasn’t working, partly because one of the characters was a homeless dead girl. His agent told him: “Homeless dead girl? Not funny.” So after mourning for a while, he wrote the new book. He revived the homeless dead girl, and then turned it into a play that will make its debut in November.
After he was done, he walked up to me. “How did you find an advance copy of the book?” he asked. “That’s so rare.” I told him I found it at a thrift shop that helps the hospices in the area. He signed it, and then I promised him I would blog about the book, and I plugged Red Room. He perked up. “I have to join that site. I’ve heard so many good things about it.”
I told him about my mystery. He listened, interested. I just wanted to kiss him. There was part of me that wished he wasn’t gay and in a relationship because he helped me so much. I had to get out, get out of my sadness, my worries. As Carole King sang, you have to get out of your bed with a smile on your face, and show them all the love you have. Especially now.
So Red Roomers, if you live in the Bay Area, if you’re depressed about rice prices, if you need a pickup, go see Marc Acito at a Great Good Place for Books at 6120 LaSalle Avenue in Oakland. You will laugh, you will cry, and most of all, you will break into….
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries