"The flip side, of course, is a lack of ambition."
Tattooed across her heart is a kind of disclaimer of ambition, the words: "I want no one else to succeed."
"It's a line from 'There Will Be Blood,'" she explained, "and it's the truth! I truly hate to see other people doing better than I'm doing. And sometimes I think that's all I'm seeing. It's probably borne out of jealousy."
So why start a blog then? I asked.
"Because I wanted to bang a dude! Women are like, 'You know how many women you are reaching with this blog? How many people you speak truth to?' I'm like, 'And do you know I did this to have sex with a guy?'"
"Weird reason," I said.
"Really?" she asked.
"Kind of," I said.
"See, to me, that sounds so normal! I met this dude on MySpace and he was dating this woman who was a writer and a poet and he was, like, all, 'Nikki, Nikki, blah blah,' and I'm like, 'I can do stuff!' So started the blog and banged that dude, who is probably homeless now, and I am completely fine with that. Year later, we're over, and my friend said I should keep blogging. I did, then started reading and performing. And I'm good. I'm not afraid to be embarrassing. The first story I ever (performed) was about this guy I dated who would …"
She described in great detail a sexual fetish, then asked: "Do you know what that is? Ever heard of that?"
No, I said.
"Good, you're normal," she said. "Anyway people started bringing signs to shows, reading, like, 'GO SAM!' I'm all, WHAAAT? You guys are dumb! But I love it. I'd do this story about this African dude I dated who …"
When she was finished explaining another ambitious sexual fetish, I asked: "Samantha, Don't you have any nice stories that some nice family in Lake Forest can read over their breakfast dish on Sunday morning?"
"Yes!" she said. "There's a story in the book about moms. They love me. I never pretend they don't …"
And she got graphic again.
Said Keith Ecker, who co-hosts with Irby the Guts & Glory reading series at Powell's Bookstore in Lincoln Park: "Sam is not being disingenuous when she says she doesn't want more out of being known. She is by no means someone who is trying to climb the fame ladder and appeal to the widest possible audience. I think that's because it's a passion, and once that becomes a job, then it could start to feel like a job."
In fact, when I told Irby that I heard there was some tension between her and Curbside, she said: "How did you know that?" Then she went on to explain a combination of condescension she's felt from the publisher (Giron gave an interview recently in which he referred to Irby as "not really a writer") and a basic unwillingness to do what authors do with new books. Reasonably enough, Curbside wants her to tour with "Meaty." It presented her with an itinerary of East Coast book festivals and appearances, but she turned Giron down flat.
"I don't want every story about me to be how I am hobbling into every reading," she said. "The truth is, I have no aspirations for my writing! And I still don't. I like that people can read this book but I have a job and I can't leave for two weeks to tour. Plus, health issues. I would never have written a book if I knew I would have to take a box of books and sell them to people! I've gotten calls from TV producers asking if I'm open to my blog being a show, but I don't want to be a character! I don't want the world to know what I look like! I hate myself, and that's where the comedy in this comes from. If I could control things, fine. They're already talking to me about a second book and I don't want to do a second book. I need therapy."
She sat silent.
Then rallied: "See, I bring laugher to hearts of billions! Maybe! But I like comfort! Some dude said he would make me pancakes twice a week, I'd be like '(Expletive) this stupid blog forever. B------- Gotta WHAT?'"