— Noted.

Miranda July.

I recently recounted the time I saw Miranda July at the School of Life in London. I wrote about it at the time on my travel blog, and have decided to copy it here.

Went to the School of Life today, where Miranda July was talking on the topic of strangers. The crowd sang a “hymn” before she came up, which was Frank Sinatra’s, “Strangers in the Night.” She had asked a few people in the lobby coming to the talk if they had any object with them that they would be willing to part with. The first object was a pair of tweezers. She placed it on a tiny revolving cushion that was projected on a big screen and asked if the person who brought the tweezers would come up on stage. A guy came up and sat opposite of her and she asked a bunch of questions that extended from the object and became almost uncomfortably personal. It went something like this:

Miranda July: What do you do with these tweezers?
Tweezer-owner: I use them to tweeze stray hairs along my beard.
MJ: So, someone who knows you very well would be able to tell by looking at your beard if you’ve tweezed or not?
TO: Yes. Probably.
MJ: Who would that person be?
TO: Probably my best friend.
MJ: Is your best friend here?
TO: No.
MJ: Are you in a relationship?
TO: No.
MJ: When was the last time you were in a relationship?
TO: Maybe 3 years ago?
MJ: How long did it last?
TO: About 3 months.
MJ: How long was the longest relationship you’ve ever been in?
TO: About 3 months.
MJ: Are you looking for love?
TO: Not really.

It went on, but that’s the gist. After the interview was done, Miranda July took the tweezers, put them in an envelope with a certificate and auctioned it off to the audience. It went for £100. She even warned the bidders to take a moment and think about it and not get caught up in the frenzy of it, but they couldn’t help themselves.

The next object was a tube of peppermint cocoa butter with Vitamin E, or something like that. A quiet Indian girl went up on stage and she gave super short answers that showed she didn’t want to give anything away, but was completely honest. It was revealed that she had some kind of falling out with her family who all lived in London and would probably never speak to them again. We found this out in like 10 minutes. Her little tube only auctioned off for about 40 quid, which says something about our reaction to something really sad.

The last object was a birthday card for a 60-year-old father that was given to him by his daughter. It was handmade and the gift of the card revealed that they would go to the School of Life talks together for 3 different talks. Miranda July asked him how close he was to his daughter, and when he answered, “Very close,” Miranda started to cry and said, “But how do you do that?” The card auctioned off for something like £90, and Sandy finds out later that the daughter bought the card back for her dad.

At the end of it all, Miranda takes the money that was made (and was all cash) and asks us all to think about a moment in the past or present when a sum of money like £230 would have seemed like a lot of money and would have helped a lot. She then tells us to close our eyes, put our heads down in crash position, and hold our hands around our head to block our view and asks if there is anyone to whom this sum of money could really make a difference, if they would please raise their hand without saying a word. And then she tells us to sit back up and lets us all know that the money was donated to someone who really needed it.

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