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August 24, 2004
the cat's pajamas
It usually takes about 2 hours to get to San Diego, so Anne and I left at 10, leaving ample time to arrive for my 1:30 signing at Mysterious Galaxy.
We hit our first traffic jam in Norwalk, on the 5, where it took thirty minutes to go ten miles. No wreck, no construction, just congestion. Not a good sign.
We hit our second traffic jam -- in the carpool lane, no less -- in Santa Ana. I growled and snarled, and felt my shoulders tighten as we sat motionless while the cars on the regular freeway streamed past us at 80 miles per hour.
Ten minutes later, when we'd moved the quarter-mile past the merge that created the carpool jam, we stayed at normal freeway speeds right until about Irvine, where we stopped, and didn't move more than a few miles in close to twenty minutes. If the traffic was this bad, this far north of our destination, I knew that there was no way we'd get there on time, and we were already too far down the 5 to try an alternate route.
"Argh! This is like the fucking 101 freeway at 5 PM on a Friday afternoon!" I said.
"We're going to be fine," Anne said. "We've still got a lot of time to make it there, and the traffic can't stay this bad the entire way."
Well, it turns out that the traffic could stay that bad the entire way. For the next three hours, we crept along at 30, or occasionally 45 miles per hour. It was the most infuriating drive of my life, made worse by the knowledge that I was not just going to be a little late, but I would be extremely late.
"Goddammit! This is such bullshit!" I said, as I hit the steering wheel for what seemed like the hundredth time. "I am so fucking unprofessional, and inconsiderate, and just --" I hit the dashboard this time "STUPID!"
Longtime readers of this blog are probably aware of how patient and understanding my wife is. When I freak out like this, she knows that it's not about the traffic.
"We can't make the freeway move any faster," she said, calmly, "and all you're doing is stressing yourself out worse and worse."
As usual, she was right. As usual, I was too furious to listen.
"There are lots of people waiting at Mysterious Galaxy, right now, for me to show up, and I'm currently letting every single one of them down!" I shouted. "Hey! My blinker means that I want to get out of this lane, you stupid fuck!"
I looked at Anne. "Apparently, turn indicators now mean, 'Please speed up so I can't change lanes.'"
"Look," she said, "I don't want to listen to you freak out any more. So you need to stop now. We'll get there when we get there."
I fumed for a few minutes. It was one thing to be angry with myself for the poor planning that put me in this position, and it was one thing to be worried that I was screwing up a very important appearance . . . but it was another thing entirely to be upsetting my wife, who was just along for the ride.
We rode in silence for the next several minutes, as we crawled through San Juan Capistrano, and I calmed myself down.
"I'm really sorry," I said. "The traffic isn't your fault."
"I know," she said.
"I'm just upset that I was so wrong on the planning," I said.
"We should have just taken the train," I said.
"I'm never making this drive again," I said.
The traffic remained heavily congested all the way down to San Clemente, where it suddenly and miraculously opened up until somewhere around Encinitas, where we slowed back to a crawl again. I called the bookstore a few times to give them updates, and tried to remain positive, even though I was pissed. Maryelizabeth, from Mysterious Galaxy, was very supportive and encouraging on the phone, and assured me that the crowd wasn't as upset as I was, and told me to just get there as soon as I could . . . which ended up being an hour late.
When I got to the store, I felt embarrassed, and had a hard time holding my head up when I walked in, even though the crowd applauded. It was even worse that I had to go straight to the bathroom, at the back of the store, before I could do anything.
After seeing a man about a mule, I took the podium, and started my reading. I was genuinely surprised that so many people had waited so long to see me.
"I'm really happy that you all waited so long to see me," I said, "I wouldn't wait an hour for me, that's for sure!" Then I promised that I wouldn't suck, and I began to read.
There is a fantastic account of the event in a weblog called "brianstorms," that actually captures the essence of the whole thing, and has some nifty pictures of me and The Shirt, and since I'm on a deadline for Dungeon right now, I encourage everyone to go read it (and you'll probably end up bookmarking the blog just like I did. It's incredibly well written and very interesting.)
When all was said and done, the event was a lot of fun, and I think I did a good job with my material. This was only the third stop on the Geek Tour, but I'm already enjoying performing the material even more than I enjoyed writing it. Each reading (which I actually approach as a performance) is different, as I discover nuances in the material that I didn't even know were there, and I'm keeping notes in my reading copy, so if O'Reilly ever does a second printing, or a paperback version, I can make some changes to improve it.
Before I left, I signed a ton of stock, so if you're hoping for a signed first edition of Just A Geek, or a signed first O'Reilly edition of Dancing Barefoot, you can get them from Mysterious Galaxy.
And if you're able to actually get into the store, you can see the best thing of all: I'm on the shelf right next to Ray Bradbury, and that, my friends, is truly the Cat's Pajamas.
Posted by wil at August 24, 2004 09:50 AM
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Tracked on August 25, 2004 06:27 PM
I frigging hate traffic.
But Wheaton is cool and worth waiting for.
jeez! a signed copy of just a geek from that website is $24.95...which is the same ammount that I paid for an unsigned one... :(
The 5 is the most schizophrenic road I've ever driven... you can be going 110, and some f'n truck pulls into the left lane, and everyone slows to 50...
Anyway, glad to see the tour is going well, traffic be damned. You gotta get up to NorCal quickly, San Francisco and Marin County needs some Wheaton blood!
I am so happy that you put the link to that brainstorms blog cuz that article or whatever was really great. I feel like I was almost there! You are so friggin awesome and cute as a button! I am so glad that you exist.
Thank you for being so cool and sharing yourself with people. It's nice. I like that you share your frustrations with wwdn. It's great. I like it when you get all frustrated! hehehehh.
Living in Arizona, San Diego is not that far away, though I have to admit, I go there very rarely. However, I just happened to be in San Diego over the weekend. We left Sunday morning.
Had I known about the reading, I think my wife and I would extended by one day so we could have caught it. Grrrrr. I can't believe I missed it by a day. Oh well.
Any chance of swinging out to Arizona?
GRRR!!! for traffic between LA and San Diego. I have to make that drive next week and I'm not looking forward to it. (But first I have to drive from SJ to LA...blech!)
Cool about being on the shelf next to Ray Bradbury! I once figured out that when my novel gets published, I'll be (alphabetically) next to Tolstoy.
I hope travel to your next reading is much less frustrating, and that you make it to the Bay Area soon.
I've sat in 9 hours of traffic trying to get past NYC so I feel your pain. Despite that, I am very happy that you are having a successful campaign for Just A Geek. I am going to try and order a signed copy from Mysterious Galaxy!
Keep up your awesome life, Wil, and never stop writing!!!! Since you were so tickled by your book being near Ray Bradbury here is a nice little quote from him on writing: "To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God every turned out and sent rambling."
It may take 2 hours normally to get to SD. But, traffic is always packed coming down here on Friday..
That drive is getting worse every time I take it. It's never a construction or accident, either, always just conjestion. I don't have to start as far up as you (I'm in Santa Ana), but it still shouldn't take me 3+ hours, like it did for Comic Con, and like it did for you.
Of course, bitching about the traffic is like bitching about the weather...not much we can do =) Glad you had a good reading, and looking forward to seeing you at any future OC gook stop you might make.
What exactly is a TotalFarker and does that make your mom a MotherFarker? :D
Mercury is in retrograde, and will continue to be until September 2. This means snags in plans, delays, breakdowns in communication, etc. At the beginning of Mercury Rx, I just expect that things are going to be a little bumpy and I psych myself up to roll with the punches. But I understand how it is when you don't want to inconvenience other people; since I don't have an Anne, when I begin to feel that kind of stress, I breathe deeply and remind myself that always arrive on time. You are always exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there.
Don't beat yourself up for things you have no control over. Just be you, Wil. You're well loved and appreciated, and people know you're not a fuck up.
Thank you again Wil for coming down on Saturday! It was truly great to hear your stories.
Being one who makes the commute from San Diego to LA quite often I know exactly how it goes. Traffic sucks and there is nothing you can do.
Thank you again!
Wil, it was great to have met you at your signing. You might have been totally frustrated and ashamed at being late, but from where I sat, it totally didn't show. You were thoroughly entertaining, and I would have waited even longer for a chance to hear you read from your book. Good job!
I don't know if this helps, but what would wesley do in a case like this? Consult your inner geek. Do that ricky thing of changing drivers in midtraffic so ann drives, if you don't like talking and driving. They have a speakerphone at the other end. This is if you don't have the wheatonmobile wired for full video. Then, you can take questions and answers from the audience while driving, or do some reading, or make sarcastic comments about the other drivers. In short, "phone it in."
Which leads up to my next point. You probably won't be able to come to starbase indy in september, a small trek con. But, why not make an infomercial for the book, that we could show at the con? And maybe have some kind of telepresence, digital signatures, where you email an autograph with what the fan-buyer requests, it prints out and fits nicely nicely as a frontpiece to the book.
Of course, if you are willing to come to indy for the con, if we provide airfare, a local tv interview, a book signing at borders, and a comedy club appearance, I could get right on it.
They already have a writer guest of honor lined up, but i think "special suprise guest" would do.
Obviously this is too much trouble to do for one con, but done once, an infomercial can be shown at every con. Maybe a packaged videorental of the 'wil wheaton film festival' running next to the anime room. Maybe a stack of pre-signed books.
I have a friend, nancy lebovitz, who makes her living going to cons selling caligraphic buttons. She only does buttons, but i could ask her if she could fit an autographed "just a geek" onto her table. Or basicly walk into any con you go to, ask the dealers if they'd like such an arrangment. Is there a marketing guru at O'Really that you coordinate this stuff with?
The won't fund a book tour. But they might provide a few new toys if you need equipment do make this happen. The 2005 version of the video toaster. How about autographed copies of the O'Riley catalog? That's be kind of win-win, especially if you give them away to the charity auction at cons. All for now.
-an arbitrary aardvark.
Ugh, lordy. Traffic sucks so much crap. Luckily, I don't live near any HUGE cities, so it isn't too bad around here.
So, any chance of the geek tour making its way towards Michigan?? ;oD We have corrrrrn!!!!!
I feel your pain. I went to Sacramento some time ago and hit a rather long agonizing traffic jam. Apparently, the cause was a toll both on a bridge. A bridge I sat on for lose to an hour. Being new to California, I kept thinking "Ok, if an earthquake were to happen now..I'm on a bridge..that can't be good."
Anyways, way to go on a kick ass job at the signing. Rawk.
Wil. I would wait an hour to see you. I've waited less for W.F. Shatner
When going to San Diego for the Comic-Con, I either take the 210 to the 57 down to the five (yes, it's roundabout but you do miss Downtown and that whole Downey stretch of the five) or, if I'm feeling adventurous, I'll head way out east and take the 15 down. I hate traffic jams and will go out of my way (literally ;-) to avoid them.
Dude, you and I are totaly in sync when it comes to driving, being late, and temper tamtrums. I know I have been in the car raining metaphorical death upon Mr. Stupid F. Driver in front. I live in the south, and I think the drivers here are still getting used to the concept of the Traffic Light. Thank your lucky thing of choice for our wives: paragons of patience who know when to tell us to shut the hell up (in the nicest, most patient way possible). More power to you, Wil Wheaton.
Hey Iam glad you made it safely. just remember to take it one day at a time and that you dont have to please anybody but your self.
Wil, I'm so there with traffic like that. I'm in Dallas, and while it's nowhere near as bad as where you are, we have our hell roads. My wife does the same things to me that Anne does to you. ;)
Sorry I missed the signing, but I did make my way down to Mysterious Galaxy and pick up signed copies of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek at lunch. I also was completely unable to resist buying the latest Dune paperback. Maybe this one will be better than the last.
Looks like we're both "frustrated drivers" at heart. I'm also one of those "if we leave now, we'll get there just in time" sort of people. Assuming of course that traffic conditions are just perfect of course. When the unexpected happens, like say crappy traffic on the 5 (happens in Oregon and California it seems), or an accident or two, then that can throw things into the tailspin of dispair. That's kinda what happened up in Portland to me, plus taking wrong exit brought out my innate ability to swear a blue streak. But it's worth the drive to hear you talk and it'd be worth the wait if you were late, and man, would I sympathize!
One day I should write in my own blog about my first visit to the San Diego Con while I was staying with friends in LA. We decided to take the PCH down all the way to San Diego and not the 5. Yeah, I now know you can't really do that. Whoops! :)
Wil, I know where you are coming from. When I was in the CA Air National Guard, I had to drive from San Diego to Oxnard once a month (ask Mr Dorn about the base). I'd get up and be on the road by 3:30am on Saturday, so I could make Oxnard by 7am. Sucky drive, and made worse that my return trip late Sunday afternoon was to either take the 101 to the 405 (can you say parking lot?), or take the 1 down to Santa Monica, and jig over on the 10 to the 405 from there. If I got home by 9pm I was happy. Good luck on your future trips!
Just wanted to say thanks for a great performance. And we didn't mind waiting.
BTW - Traffic on the 5 in SD sucks on a regular basis.
Regardless, I had a great time, and so did my fiancee!
When I read about the traffic jams, I appreciate that I live in one of the smaller capital cities in Australia.
When I read about your appearances and know I will never get to one, it makes me a sad panda :(
PS Just finished the book last night and enjoyed it all, thank you :)
Great story. It takes most of us a real long time to learn that bitching about traffic does little to make it go away... just like little sisters.
So when are you gonna visit us in the East. I'm down here in the Fort Luderdale, Florida area. Come on Down! The weather's wonderful (if you like hurricanes and thunderstorms).
You could even do a signing in the same Borders bookstore that kicked Michael Moore out for trying to get the workers to start a union! Okay, that's a long story. I'll tell it to you when we meet... In Lauderdale!
Wil, the section of the 5 from Norwalk/Downey to LA and Anaheim (both directions) sucks no matter when you try to drive it. I think it's just because there's too many interchanges around there.
Wanted to second the request for some NorCal appearances. Even Reno/Tahoe. I'm good either way...
Deep breaths, Wil! I don't think you realize how devoted us fans are to you. It's great to hear how devoted you, in turn, are to us!
ok, this is about wil's ibook. he doesn't have comments there, so it goes here. : )
i purchased a 12 inch powerbook last year and haven't had a single problem with it. granted, i use the programs it came with, but i highly recommend the powerbook. it gets a little warm but doesn't have that pesky burning your wrists when you type problem. if you can live with a 12 inch screen, it's perfect for writing. the keyboard is spaced very comfortably.
if you need the 17 inch screen, let me forwarn you that while it is unbearbly freak'n cool, the thing is heavier than crap, doesn't fit in any inexpensive computer bags, and heats up like you wouldn't believe. you have to keep it elevated to circulate air under it to cool it down. word to the sufferers of a similiar fate, a thick, square dowel rod wrapped in felt is just as secure as a $35+ plastic support and saves you $30+. i also lost windows all the time because the screen was just so large it was hard to keep track of everything. but worst of all, it's uncomfortable to type on. the keys are so far away from the edge that it needed to be at an angle (provided by the dowel) to not get wrist pains. trust me, i had to use it at work to write my thesis proposal. pain in the tookus.
take some of your book proceeds, and invest in a decent computer. it will pay off over the long run.
the traffics not much better in NY. but you guys are lucky...I'd do anything to be able to see California, or to be able to get out of NY. I want to go to UCLA and live in Los Angeles. I guess there's no chance of Wil coming out to long island's star trek convention... :(
I would wait two hours for you in a rainstorm without an umbrella. We all love you! Thanks so much for sharing your life with us.
All I have to say is... I hate the 5 with a passion!!! There is no such thing as flowing traffic on the 5 no matter what time of day or what day it is!!
Glad everything turned out alright, though. People are understanding... remember that. :)
I have a really cool picture of Wil in The Shirt.
After seeing him at Trek Expo, I d definately wait an hour to see him again.
Sorry about the commute from hell. Traffic sucks no matter where you live. Brian was right on his blog about you getting that next big role one day. I can totally see it happening. You are too good an actor to be looked over. If some start-up indie director was smart he's snatch you ala Tarantino when he snagged John Travolta for Pulp Fiction. I really admire you and would love to talk to you about improv someday. Still reading the book and loving it. You go Uncle Willie!!
Holy Cow, Wil... I wish we'd talked before you made the drive. I go back and forth between L.A. and Behind the Orange Curtain all the time... I give myself two hours to get to Santa Monica or (this end of) The Valley... and sometimes that's not enough.
And the 5 seems to be perpetually jacked up through Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, and Buena Park... there doesn't seem to be any reason for it (other than the freeway goes from wide south county goodness down to three lanes...) just over-reactive braking and random slowness. Intensely aggravating, I agree.
Unless you're driving at 4am... well, you know the name of that tune.
Congrats on the Bradbury placement... I can picture you, circa Stand By Me, as the protagonist in Dandelion Wine.
Don't drink the lemonade.
You sound like me on my daily commute carpooling with my wife to DC each day. I let her drive in the morning as I react exactly like you do and Anne reacts just like my wife.
Commuting sucks. I miss the days when I was five minutes from my office.
My husband does the exact same thing and I can only do what your wife did. She's got the patience of a saint...cherish that woman every day! LOL
And yes, I can tell you from experience that the traffic on the 5 sucks any time, all the time. I live near Norwalk so I'm close the 5, but I try to never take it. It seems to always be backed up!
Wil, you were great. I was inspired by your reading and further inspired by your book. Yours is the only the second booksigning I've been to in 20 years (the other was Stephen King).
You probably don't remember me, but I'm Aeire's "drooling fanboy" housemate.
That afternoon served to undo some chronic blocks in my writing. I know this is So-Cal, and everyone has a book or a screenplay they're working on, and I am no exception. But now I am in motion again.
Your writing (and your reading) are extemely geuine -- and generous! You share of yourself freely and your openness and vulnerability are just plain inspiring to me.
I see a lot of me in you. Minus the whole being in movies thing.
Anyway, just wanted to say it was worth the wait (in the time I waited, I found a book in Latin about a farting dog. One of life's unexpected treasures).
your reading sounds sooo cool! being from the UK, i know i won't be able to go to one of those! Unleeeeesssssssssssssssssss, you come on over to this side of the pond!!! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!
anyway...cheers for putting the link to Brianstorms, his account was great, and really made me feel as if i was there! its good to hear that everything is going so well for you at the moment...except for that traffic! who needs it?
well, take care wil,
Now THAT was like looking into a mirror. Faced with traffic slow downs or just the general idiots that drive on our freeways, I tend to go to that same place of inexplicable rage too. Further, my wife Judy has no such place in her psyche and tends to look at me with some kind of disapproving incredulity. She can't understand why I would get so upset at things that are out of my control. Like you, I tend to go into some kind of self blaming, self loathing mode although there is no rational basis. I just know that at the time it gives a person some type of comfort thinking of all the horrific fates that can be imagined for drivers that seem to be from some other planet.
Anyway, it felt good to see that someone else manifests the frustration as I do. Judy sometimes makes me feel as though I should just go ahead and commit myself to the nearest sanitarium for in depth observation.
I'm listening to the interview archive now, and DUDE! You TOTALLY did not suck! Good interview! I'm glad my computer is holding off on having its issues with audio and rebooting so I can listen.
Back to listening... Good stuff :D
Regarding California Freeways.
It really makes me mad that we can spend billions of dollars rebuilding Iraq and back home in California we have an outdated freeway system. The government should rebuild our freeways, they should build supertrain between SF and LA. They should make air travel cheaper.
From SF to LA air travel is reasonable. However, when you fly from small CA cities, like Santa Barbara to SFO, the price to is outrageous.
PS Stop blamming other drivers. It is the fault of Government's lack of forsight planning and funding that causes the problems.
One thing I wish... I wish we could have had an audioblog of the car ride. ;)
HI WIL! ;)
Oh, man! That SO sucks! Sorry that you went through that, Wil. We really need to bug our government officials to do more to alleviate this crap we call 'traffic!'
But I can tell you one thing, Wil is SO worth it!
Don't sweat the small stuff Wil. You're worth waiting for and if you ever come visit Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - I'd wait 4 hours to meet you. People appreciate your efforts and hard work and getting to meet the artist behind the creation is always a thrill. Keep your head held high and realize that sometimes things are out of your hands and that only you can only make a grand entrance with your head held high and with an air of grace and dignity. We are a loyal fan base Wil and you should know that we'd never be upset at you for being late.
You're next to Ray Freakin' Bradbury! Holy Crap dude. Most assuredly you belong there.
And once again, The Wife is right. Take the train!!!! lol
Hey I hopped on over to the brianstorms weblog and saw pictures of you and The Shirt. What a nice review of your book signing. I almost felt like I was there, and now I found another web log to bookmark.
I'm sorry about the traffic...weren't we supposed to be buzzing around the sky in our little space crafts by now? Maybe the skies would just be as crowded as the freeways. Too bad that Scotty couldn't beam you to San Diego!
You must have close to infinite patience to so calmly sit through a tantrum like that. I know I've had traffic tantrums, and my husband has had traffic tantrums - and after a while soothing words give way to sharp rebukes about calming down.
Still - it is so warming to see how much Wil loves you, that he doesn't want to upset you with his raging.
Wil - My husband ordered me your book for my birthday (next month). Just finished it, and love it. I am now angling to get Dancing Barefoot, maybe for X-mas. It would be fantastic to see you do a reading, but I think Australia may be a little out of your way. Worst luck.
A celebrity event that only comes off an hour late? Doesn't sound like a big deal.
OMG, I have learned that LA to SD lesson so many times. Just be sure you never forget that story, or else time will pass and you'll start to view what happened as just a fluke.
IT'S NOT! IT'S JUST LIKE THAT ALL THE TIME!!
Ah, train envy!
I hope you used a cell phone & call to tell them you were stuck in traffic - letting them know helps alot & it gives them something to say to the people waiting - they can say - traffic but he is coming & knowing you are coming helps people stay for you plus gives them the ideal of when you will be there & what they can do to keep people there
Just got back from the Caribbean and am catching up on WWDN.
Traffic so sucks! And I always want an explanation for the jams. I am addicted to the traffic reports on AM radio. I can hear one every few minutes by alternating between the two biggest L.A. radio stations.
Can you believe that we had a traffic jam trying to get to the beach on the Island of Roatan in Honduras?!? We pulled up to this third world island on a cruise ship, and experienced capitalism at its most congested -- buses, vans, taxis and tour operators all trying to suck the dollars out of 1500 passengers. God love 'em. Our bus could not get through the one road to the beach and we started to melt on an old school bus in 90-degree heat and 99% humidity. Help!
The payoff for enduring that was the view from the top of the island and the snorkeling on the reef. We also had our own private palm trees for umbrellas. The Honduran beer wasn't bad either.
Well, we both lived through traffic hell for good outcomes! Next time Amtrak, eh?
ANY CHANCE OF DOING A SIGNING AT VROMAN'S IN PASADENA? Pretty please?
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