I’m at the edge of my seat, clutching my phone because I can’t think of anything else to clutch. Between breaths, I glance at my colleague next to me who sometimes smiles back. The synagogue is full–top to bottom full, a life-size menorah lights the stage. It’s my second time entering a synagogue. The first was a side room to take my SAT, yes back in 1997. Her leather pleated skirt drapes over her crossed, stockinged legs and I cannot, cannot speak. There’s only one other person on this planet with whom I could share this intensity of nerves and thrill, but she is on the other side of the country now. So, I try to relax a bit, slide my elbow on the back of the chair, lean back, wiggle my shoulders down. Nothing works. I’m sitting so close, so close to Abbi Jacobson.
Star struck isn’t even close to the energy I’m swimming in. It’s Thursday night, I’ve taught a full day, drove out of DC and back in just for this. It’s getting closer to my bedtime, but I don’t care. Abbi is talking and I am listening. There are few people who get me this focused and inspired and energized, on a Thursday after a day’s work. Abbi is definitely one of them. As she tells us about her new book, Carry This Book, I listen, imprinting every word to my innards. “I made mistakes while making this book,” she says, “but I chose to keep them in there.” Then, “okay I did Photoshop one thing: I misspelled Hillary’s last name and had to add the ‘h’ in,” she confesses and the crowd laughs on cue.
I simmer in this idea of mistakes in art and whether it’s okay or not to leave them in. My career is built around finding mistakes and teaching my student writers to find their own too. It’s different, I know, but still can’t help considering the idea. “There was this one night, when I was coloring with a pink Prisma marker and ran out. I picked up my box and dug for the same color. I didn’t have it. So, I decided to use another color and then add a comment about it in the book,” she confesses again about her “mistakes”. I think about the relaxation coloring book I’ve been using to learn to change my thinking/dwelling habits of mind. It is impossible to finish a page without a mistake and each time I do it, I practice looking at it from a distance to see its true beauty.
Something about sitting in her presence and listening to her share openly about the fuck-ups in her published illustrated book, makes me want to create. I want to rush home and draw and write and move! It’s been a few months since I’ve felt this way and it’s got me at the edge of my seat.
When she describes the period of time that she was working at night on this book and writing/acting/producing Broad City during the day, I’m reminded again that it’s easy to look at the shiny thing and want it, completely another thing to create it from scratch. While she walks out, down the aisle far away from me and I try to click as many pics as possible, mostly because I don’t want it end, I am full again. Spinning, but in slow motion, in a sparkly web of creativity. I can’t wait to make a mistake and comment on it. I can’t wait to feel like an artist again. It’s Thursday, October 27th. 8:15PM. I am alive.