Boo yah kashah! I waited in line to meet Haruki Murakami today, and to get my books signed (they originally said we could get the new “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” book + 3 other books signed, but alas, they limited the number further. I’d wanted to get another book signed for a friend as a surprise, but alas that was not to be). The BART train was delayed, but I finally got there, about an hour pre-signing.
The line went up Van Ness Avenue and then wrapped around onto Turk…where I got in line. I befriended (or rather, was befriended by) other Murakami fans adjacent to me in line. I brought my laptop (in case I wanted to write), my journal, an issue of New York Magazine, an iPod, and my crackberry…but none of it was really necessary (or effective). The people around me were so excited, the chatter was endless. At one point, I put my headphones on and turned on my iPod, but to no avail. I was still hit up for chatter. I had my headphones on, with my iPod on, and I texted on my blackberry…to no avail. I was still hit up for chatter. I was feeling introverted, but I guess I had to come out of my shell.
The small talk gods were demanding, and so I gave up all my accessories and gave in to the will of the crowds around me, gave in to the social nature of people standing in line for one common goal, with one common interest.
I just wished the people around me–I just wished I could get something out of the chatter. It felt very meaningless, this surface talk.
I stepped out of line briefly to check out the line–wow! Thirty minutes before the reading, the line now snaked all the way back to Franklin. 300+ people in line to see Murakami.
The small talk gods, however, had something in store for me, and rewarded me for my patience and participation. The woman in front of me started talking about little Korean and Japanese dolls, these ball-jointed dolls, and BING! I was intrigued! Her passion was intoxicating! Her male companion (he was so funny–he didn’t get a book to have signed until I noted that he could sell it off on eBay for profit–zing! he was off to get a copy) finally came alive and looked up from his book! They became totally engaging, interesting people!
The dolls resonated with me because it resonated with the novel I’m writing. I have been struggling with one facet of the storyline–looking for some Korean historical connection/link to my protagonist’s dilemma (sorry for being cryptic, but I don’t like to talk about my novel’s details). OMG. What a gift! In a line for Murakami! In the most unlikeliest of settings, really, from the most unlikeliest of people, total strangers.
They shared information about the dolls, about the culture of the dolls. They were sharing the information with me because they love this particular doll culture. I was listening because I felt it was a huge gift, an answer to my novel’s dilemma. I thanked them for gifting me with something of great value.
The line began to move as we discussed these dolls. And before long, i was in front of Murakami (with very little fanfare–except for the fact that one person in line ahead of us tried to take a picture and he was almost body tackled by several other fans! Murakami is notoriously camera shy and has been known to call of his book signings when someone takes out a camera).
As usual, I get tongue tied around Famous People I Admire. I mumbled “Thank you for coming here,” and he quickly scribbled his autograph and my name on my books. I stood, 2.5 feet away from Haruki Murakami, as he sat and signed books with admirable cheerfulness. I’m sure all he saw of me was my red tshirt covering my potbelly and muffin top.
And then, in less than a minute, the moment was over. He said Thank You and I said Thank You and then I was exiting. The line usher smiled at me and I waved, and then I was blinking in the sunshine, the Blue Angels screaming overhead, the cars rushing forth.
I.met.Haruki.Murakami. My favorite writer.
p.s. I also did hear him speak last night at Zellerbach–and scribbled a 99% accurate transcription of his reading/conversation. Thrrrrilling! I’ll have to post some highlights of that talk up soon.
p.p.s. I am not sure if it’s the advent of Autumn (my favorite time of year), my friend’s visit last month, my recent vacation or what…but my head is filled with a kazillion ideas! I almost can’t believe I have to go to work this week, I feel so primed to sit and write all week.