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Sedaris, David

A couple of months ago I noticed on David Sedaris' facebook page that he was going to be going around the country on a speaking tour.  I'm not sure how to describe him exactly, but he's a humorist who writes essays for a lot of different magazines and he's a contributor to NPR.  I came across his book "Naked" a few years ago and was instantly drawn into his weird little world.  He's a smart guy with an interesting way of seeing things, and you'd never know to look at him that he's got such a wicked sense of humor.  I've been a fan ever since that first book and have bought all the others since. 

So I noticed that he was going to be speaking in Northern California at a couple of universites, but both of those were going to be on week nights, and while I was trying to figure out how to pull off the logistics of a long drive and work, a new Sacramento date opened up on a Friday night.  I quickly called Chris to see if he was interested, and while he wasn't familiar with David Sedaris, he decided my interest was good enough and he said to buy him a ticket.  I got tickets, booked a room in Sacramento and took the afternoon off work for the drive.  It's not far, only about two and a half hours, but those hours are some of the dullest, most bleak hours you could ever spend.  There is absolutely nothing of interest to see practically the entire way, unless you're really into miles of farms that are growing what appears to be weeds, but at least it's an easy drive.

We got to Sacramento, checked into the room and wandered around downtown to do a little shopping.  A couple of hours before the show we grabbed some dinner at the brewery next to the theater, and while our table was literally smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant and under a huge light fixture that made us look like we were on stage, the meal was pretty good.  It was VERY cold outside and we walked around for a bit and decided to go to the theater early and get out of the wind.

Just as we got into the lobby they began setting up tables for book signings and some random woman declared that she was going to go ahead and just start the line.  We jumped in behind her and an orderly queue quickly grew.  She mentioned that she had seen David several times before, and always had him sign the same book each time.  I thought that was pretty cool and then Chris told her that he hated her because he thought it was cool too.  The two of them were BFFs in seriously like 30 seconds.  I don't know how he does that.  He bonded with a total stranger over a writer he'd never even heard of. 

Within just a few minutes David Sedaris arrived, trailing a small crowd, and took a seat behind the table.  Chris' best friend held out her book for him to sign, and no sooner had she stepped away that he said he thought that was really weird, to have the same book signed over and over.  I brought two of my first editions of his books ("When You Are Engulfed In Flames" and "Holidays On Ice"), and told Chris to get one signed for me.  He told him his name was Matt, and David wrote "To Matt, With Friendly Friendship".  I stepped up and told him my name was "Matthew" and he said, "Oh!  Like Matt and Hugh!"  Hugh is his husband of many years, and I nodded and grinned.  He drew a little candy cane in my book and colored it in, adding that he could have left it for me to do myself when I got home but he wanted it to be complete for me.  I told him that made it more magical and he laughed.  That's going in my lifetime highlight reel, y'all.

Also?  He invited us to take a postcard from a stack he had with him.  They were ones he'd had made that amused him, so we each grabbed one that was a picture of the skull of a Pekinese dog, like from a science museum.  Weird, random, and just plain cool.  There was another one with owls on it titled, "Let's Explore Diabetes in Owls", which he explained later during the show.  He wants that to be the title of his next book, and I wish I had snagged one of those.

I clutched my books like I'd just gotten one of Elvis' silk scarves and we wandered off to our seats.  He spoke for about two hours and read some of his essays as well as some new things he was working on.  Naturally he was funny as hell, and it's really great to get to hear a writer read his own work, in his own voice with his cadence and inflections.  I loved it when he'd start laughing as he'd tell these stories, really getting into it.  He also talked about how it was his own personal crusade to stamp out the overuse of the word "awesome", something I have sprinkled generously throughout my vocabulary.  There was even a note on his signing table that said "AWESOME FREE ZONE."  I can't promise to drop the word altogether, but I'm taking it under advisement.

At the very end of the show he mentioned an incident that happened in the lobby earlier when he was signing our books.  A woman stepped up to take his picture and he asked her not to (there were signs that told people not to do that), and scolded her just a little.  He said he wanted to apologize to her because he felt he had been rude, when really he just doesn't like people to take his picture without asking.  I gotta say, I thought that was a really cool thing to do.

After the show it was pretty late, so we headed back to the hotel and crashed.  We woke up WAY TOO EARLY the next morning and figured since we were already up, we may as well wander around downtown and look for something to eat.  Sacramento is quite a lovely city, and she is so often overshadowed by her flashy big sisters of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.  There are lots and lots of trees, gorgeous in their fall regalia,  the streets are easy to navigate and the entire downtown looks like a sleepy eastern college town.  And you simply cannot beat the magestic state capitol building, which I unfortunately couldn't get a picture of because I was driving around it trying to figure out where we were going.  Here's a tree instead:
We'd read about the city's best donuts in a magazine and were able to finally track down "Dobots." I had a vanilla bean donut and Chris had the chocolate and chili, with a cup of coffee. The coffee was amazing, and I need to call them and find out where they get it because it may honestly be one of the best coffees I've ever tasted.
Once we finished our sugar blasts, we decided to head across the river and hit the IKEA in West Sacramento.  They didn't open for another half hour or so, and when I got back into the car to start it up, I heard an ominous "clickclickclickclickclick" but the engine wouldn't turn over.  I knew I was going to have to replace it, but I thought I still had some more time on the clock.  Thankfully, the Auto Gods were smiling on me and there was a Walmart right next door with an auto shop and they were able to take care of me with a minimum of fuss and cost.  I've never been so happy to see a Walmart in my entire life, I kid you not.

We spent some quality time at IKEA and picked up some cool things and then drove over to the Arden Mall for a little more shopping before heading home.  I didn't find anything I couldn't live without, but we did wander into an "Urban Outfitters" and they had a huge display of these clunky retro cameras that I instantly fell in love with.  The Diana camera is famous for taking wonky photos, as is the Holga camera.  The photographer has little control over how the pictures turn out, which often leads to some pretty amazing accidents.  I didn't buy one of the cameras there, but I found some online much cheaper and I think I'm going to have to indulge myself.  The camera colors are these vivid retro hues and it was totally love at first sight.

We got home in the early evening, very tired and hungry and a little snippy after such a long and busy weekend.  Still, it was so much fun and I'm so happy I got to meet someone I've been a fan of for so long.  I'm also happy I've only got a three day work week and then the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving, is on Thursday.  I'm going to eat until I can't breathe, I promise you.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
I am of course insanely jealous that not only did you get to have an overnight trip out of Dodge, BUT that you got to have one-on-one time with David Sedaris AND he personally drew a CANDY CANE for you. (Does that have any significance? I can't remember him writing about them.)
Nov. 21st, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
He drew the candy cane in my "Holidays On Ice" book because it's about Christmas. This is perfect because it's also my most favorite of his books, particularly the part about the time he was a Macy's elf.
Nov. 21st, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
Wow! What fun, you lucky thang!
Nov. 21st, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
Right? Lucky indeed!
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
Sedaris is an interesting guy. For a couple years he lived about five miles outside of Montpellier. I met him when he ended up walking into a restaurant owned by one of my best friends. He's so shy in general (and non drinking, which is unusual for expats in this town.)

He also has a way of just not saying anything for a while and then out of nowhere saying something very dry, but very funny. After the initial meeting we'd run into him in town every so often. He's so much more laid back than his sister it's sort of astounding.
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
That's an interesting insight. He absolutely struck me as someone who's taking everything in, all the time, and not missing much.
He does indeed seem to to be so different from his ball of lighting sister, and yet they've got that same skewed view of things that makes them such fun to keep an eye on.
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
He's also so tiny!
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Isn't he? I'm 6'4 and I think it's a good thing he was seated and I was standing up otherwise I would have looked like a giant beside him.
Nov. 21st, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
I'm barely 5'9'' and felt like a giant next to him.

It was like the opposite of when Rome Girl and I met James Ellroy, who is giganticly scarily tall. Rome Girl is barely 5'1'' and sorta came up to his belly button.
Nov. 21st, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
So, I am doing list-format because the high class boxed pinot noir has kicked in:
1) Holidays on Ice is a major tradition in this house. We listen to him reading it every christmas eve on our boxed CD set.
2) I was glad to hear you mention Chris. I hadn't heard his name lately, and was afraid to ask...
3) As a bay area person, I think of Sacramento as a great place to go to for CEU's or an erotic massage, and not much else.
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Mmmmm, boxed pinot...

1) I reread Holidays On Ice at Christmas too. It's just so much fun.
2) I don't write much about Chris in LJ. He doesn't often read my blog anyway, so this would be the perfect place to vent my spleen!
3) Sac gets such a bum rap. She's not as gorgeous as SF, but she does have her charms.
Nov. 21st, 2011 10:19 am (UTC)
Lovely photo!

D'you know, I think I have a deficiency. You aren't my only LJ friend who lurrrves David Sedaris - the lovely and talented grammardog even sent me some CDs of his stuff, like five of them, which was super of her. And yet... and yet... I just don't get it. I know this has to be a failing in me, because SO MANY OTHERS love him so. I get that he's dry, I get that his humor is sort of rambly slices of life-stories, but the few bits I've listened to have, I can only assume, somehow zoomed right over my not-getting-it brain.

I apologize for this, deeply. BUT I love that you had such a fabulous time, and little personal moments and wonderful glimpses of the man himself (I love the photo apology story too), and that it was such fun!!! That's what's important :-). I just wish I could share in the joy, dammit.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm donuts...

Another LJ pal takes photos with a Holga and I love them. Photobucket had a whole section of photos taken with Holgas but it tried to give me evil dribbling viruses so I had to yank the plug from the wall, stomp on the Photobucket screen and shout a lot before it would go away. So no more Holga photo viewing for me. But they are super for what look to me like hazy old-timey photos and I love them. I'd get one but if a mere web page nearly killed my computer, what would an actual Holga do to ME? :-D

Yay for a great experience, lots of after-show goodness with the donuts and the shopping, and a HUGE YAY for a 3-day week and my favorite holiday of the year! Enjoy the turkey goodness!
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
I don't think you have a Sedaris Deficiency at all! In fact, while Chris liked the show, he decided it wasn't his bag. I totally understand that he just isn't for everyone.

I'll be sure to avoid any Holga viruses on Photobucket! I wanted to go poking around and see what I could find, but now I'll be extra careful. That's all I need, a virus on top of my other woes!
Nov. 21st, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
love sedaris! haven't read any of his latest works, but naked remains my favorite of his compilations.
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
If you enjoyed Naked, I think you'll be utterly swept off your feet by "Me Talk Pretty One Day."
Nov. 22nd, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
This post is, dare I say it, awesome! ;-)

Sounds like a lovely trip, Matt. Much like yummydeb, I've never quite gotten into Sedaris. But after this post, I'm motivated to give it another shot.

Enjoy your holiday, my friend! :-)
Nov. 22nd, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I hope your holiday is filled with too much food and more fun than you can handle!
Nov. 28th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Matt! It was wonderful. Hope yours was, too!
Nov. 24th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Nice post. Glad you had a great time :)
Nov. 24th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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