I’m living in a garden-basement room of a house in a fancy neighborhood in berkeley while I’m teaching for these 6 months, and in the adorable neighborhood market I saw Michael Chabon. First I thought: why do I know that guy, just b/c he looks like people who live around here? Is it actually Andres Dubus III? If it is Andres Dubus III should I remind him of the time I waited with him on a really long line for a bathroom? But I know it makes sense that it’s Chabon, b/c of the neighborhood, so I decide yep that’s the one it is.
So do I say hi b/c I recognize him (to make him feel good about celebrity? to make me feel good about recognizing a writer? what exactly? B/c I know a funny anecdote about his wife? Are they still together? I have no idea)/
b/c I am a writer if not a writer like him (hey us littler working-away-ers appreciate all we have in common, the fucked up back, the weird affection for office supplies…some general solidarity? but only for me with my credentials, not the one who runs up to you and says ‘I wrote a novel will you read it?’ (not to mention ‘I have a novel in me will you write it for me’?)) even though I loved Mysteries of Pittsburgh when I was 20 (but not the end, which I have now forgotten), I have only picked up a few things since and didn’t really connect / “connect”– read some, put it down– but say I was his biggest fan, even then, I don’t get what it would be about–
well, it would be about “thank you” like I said to Sissy Spacek, very quietly, when I saw her at a wine and cheese thing at a bookstore in Virginia, and feel really good about. But I think I feel good about that b/c I am not an actress and I don’t make movies. And what I feel about Sissy Spacek is very specific and true to me– or it feels pure b/c I’m not in movies. What I feel for Michael Chabon is “you are very well known in my world, and I am confused about what that is about in book culture.”
and the time I was around a true superstar whose work I /have/ read a lot of (though sure as hell not like some people, I scold myself) and who has been asked so many questions why don’t I just look up anything I want to know that she thinks? And who in the world hasn’t thanked her, she doesn’t need more thanks from strangers, she needs real things that I don’t have for her, and being near her human form — I just struggled and struggle with it. In fact, it feels so private that if I ever write an essay, if I ever write anything I’d only publish posthumously, that might be it.
holy cow then two days later I saw him again, at the bougie taco place I like!
Update several months later– wow I finally met Dave Eggers and realized it’s HIS wife I know a funny anecdote about– NOT Michael’s. Well, that’s literary life ain’t it though.