last night i got to drink beer with leesa at one of my favorite places in the world, or at least champaign, which is also the world - the mike n molly's beer garden - and point out the grape vines covering the brick wall to the north, tell her about the little tinkling noise and movement that came showering down a few weeks ago in the wind, how andrew and i thought it was drops of water, leftover rain bouncing downward through the leaves plinko-style, how mysterious it was, until i held my hand out and several furled green seeds gathered in my palm.
two days ago caleb emailed me and asked if i would host the reading with leesa and ruben quesada and myself and roxane gay and i said yes. i will admit that i don't HATE that he said he would owe me a huge favor since i agreed, so i'm excited to announce that i'll be HEADLINING THE PYGMALION LIT FEST just kidding guys just kidding
i was a huge ham as always and i both love and hate that about myself as always, but it's obviously a part of my personality that isn't about to change. mike was running sound (with syd as an assistant, dressed all in black with a coffee in-hand, classic sound dude) and he handed me a wireless mic right before i introduced roxane so of course i just walked around the stage because i could and pointed out that i was walking around the stage because i could. then i started to introduce roxane and the batteries died about five words before the end so i just shouted the big conclusion PLEASE WELCOME ROXANE GAY-AYYYY oprah-style, which i also have to admit i did not hate.
ruben quesada is a delight and his poetry is powerful and he read a take on ginsberg's "america" that involved him playing songs from his phone and mouthing the words and i was like "i want to sing along" but i didn't because shut up lindsey. leesa read her story CREPUSCULAR, which is one of my favorite stories of hers, and people laughed at the funny parts. leesa is like me in that she thinks she has no idea what she's doing when she's reading but she's a performer. we're planning to do a little tour together next spring and it'll be called the LEESA AND LINDSEY YUK IT UP LOLZ AMIRITE AMIRITE tour 2015 or something very similar and we won't even read our fiction, we'll just invite people to come out and listen to our spotify playlists while we drink cold beer and crack each other up for a couple hours and then get up and leave. deuces.
after the readings i went up and went into a fugue state where i said a bunch of things about buying roxane's and leesa's books and putting your money where your mouth is and then i got money from the ATM to buy BAD FEMINIST and thought "oh i'll just wait til that LINE dies down" and chatted with carly for a few minutes annnd by the time i wandered over to roxane she was like "sorry" BUT then she handed me her phone and asked me to type my address so she can maillll me a signed copy with some swag. point being, i held roxane's phone and i didn't even tweet a selfie of myself so YOU'RE WELCOME, NOTED CULTURAL CRITIC ROXANE GAY.
i don't like to admit when i'm intimidated but um i just finished AN UNTAMED STATE last week and i will say that looking out into the crowd and seeing roxane listening while i read was not NOT an intimidating experience. since syd was there i read an older story of mine called MONOLOGUE that was published in storm cellar a couple years ago b/c it's the rare story of mine that doesn't even have a kiss in it, let alone some rushed and explicit sexual encounter between two disparate parties (my specialty). i felt a little eh about that decision because i like my recent writing so much more, BUT both syd and his friend who came told me how much they loved it afterward, and the friend and i talked about writing and sufjan stevens and rookie and tavi gevinson while i drove her home, and as we pulled into the driveway syd said "she really looks up to you" and told me again how much he loved my story--everyone's readings, in fact--and then i ate leftover pizza and texted leesa and watched top chef reruns and if that isn't the perfect conclusion to that funny, sweet, weird evening, i don't know what is.