I received an email from my dear friend Susan one day with the subject: "have you been listening to Serial Podcast?". And in the body of the email she wrote: "So good!", included the link and signed off xx, S. I hadn't listened to Serial yet, I replied, as I was in the middle of reading Lena Dunham's memoir which I was busy feeling hot and cold about. I loved the fact that it (the book) was illustrated and full of advice, but hated the fact that at the turn of a page, I could be reminded of every bad decision I had made in my twenties. And so while processing Lena's advice, I took to Susan's and started listening to Serial in the studio. Six episodes, one bike ride and two dinner parties later, I realized this (Serial) was what it was to be part of something and that my twenties were not so bad.
Susan and I checked in regularly about Serial and other things like Lena Dunham and Miranda July and how their writing compares and what it is to be someone with a memoir and the all the ways to tell a story. And that we adore Miranda July. She's a weirdo we both agreed. The good kind.
When I saw that Miranda was scheduled to be in conversation with Adam Savage for a City Arts and Lectures, I bought two tickets, Susan as my date. I hadn't even realized the reason MJ was here was to talk about her new novel until halfway through the evening because all I had been thinking of relating to MJ was this excerpt from her film the FUTURE, "A Handy Tip for the Easily Distracted" As far as I was concerned, she could have made this and only that for me to be a lifelong fan. But the conversation was great and she talked candidly and generously about being a new mom and what actually getting to writing looks like.
Two weeks ago, Miranda July was in town again for this audience participation performance art piece at Brava Theatre for the San Francisco Film Festival. My friend Christina whom I met through Susan, got tickets and we met for dinner ahead of time. It was April 28th. Some things had changed in the short time since I had seen her last in conversation at the Nourse Theatre. We had a lot to catch up on. And all of a sudden it was 7:45pm. We rushed out of dinner and hustled to the theatre, eating a warm pretzel we had ordered thinking we had time, on the way.
We arrived at the theater. It was 8:01. Woops, the show was at 8:00. The doors were closed and they were denying latecomers entry, explaining that the performer is strict when it comes to people trickling in, for fear of it disrupting the show. As someone who runs 10 minutes late, I was 9 minutes earlier. Since when were things on time, I thought to myself. I stood for a bit studying the bouncer's face, convinced that surely this was part of the piece...getting nervous even at the thought that we would somehow be brought up on stage and shamed in front of the audience. Christina though was thinking something different . But wait, I always figure out a way, she thought. Then, a man came from the back to let us in . . . approaching the doors with false hope. Was there a chance? Nope. It was only to get our money refunded. Really, 8:01? ONE MINUTE? Other would-be viewers were slamming doors with a huff, shouting at the bouncers. Christina and I stood there looking at the man who could have let us in but gave us money back instead, then looking at each other and then at the others who wouldn't be seeing MJ tonight either. But I drove to work today, thought Christina. I just listened to nothing but MJ's book so I could finish it in time for tonight. As if she would have known if I hadn't, I thought to myself.
As we walked away, disappointed and perplexed, we couldn't stop thinking about the significance of all of this. We look to signs in times like these, when everything has changed because someone we love is gone. We go to things we know she would have loved because it makes us feel closer to her. And so what does it mean when you are one minute late, missing this thing that was meant to be significant? Is there something bigger that we are meant to experience by not seeing MJ? We walked down the street trying to laugh at the nonsense of it all, grateful for at least getting to be together. With everything that has happened from one Miranda July event to the next, everything holds a heightened significance. A black cat I've never seen before sits on my porch waiting for me to get home... Susan? The sky on a Saturday opens in an unusual way, turning to a shade of pink... a sign.
We wondered what the message here was. Don't be late? That one minute matters? That dinner was the important part, not the show? Were we not meant to see Miranda July? As we walked back down Folsom Street, we passed a golden retriever puppy who jumped up on me, licking my face as his owner explained he named him Bart Simpson. Because he's a jackass, he said. See, we would have missed this moment if we were at Miranda July, I reminded Christina as I tried to wipe the dog slobber off my chin and the lingering disappointment off the night.
What would Susan do in this situation?, we continued to pondered. Laugh? Cry? Find a clever way in through the back, ending up on stage and stealing the show?
Things are exactly as they need to be, she would say. This is the one minute that really