I would like to say for the record that I am not a workaholic. Even though I am posting this on Thanksgiving morning, I am not crazy. We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday so that various offspring could climb over to other branches on the family tree today. BH and I and the kids were going to get up early to run in a Turkey Trot 5K, but it is sleeting and snowing and the fire is warm. We’ll run later, when it isn’t life-threatening.
So I am bloated on pie and mashed potatoes made with an alarming amount of butter and the only thing I am capable of is blogging.
A couple observations about Manhattan:
1. Some of the new signs indicating the bike path through Central Park have a helmet painted on the head of the stick figure. They made me giggle.
2. Every third person in Manhattan now owns a dog that is the size of a loaf of bread.
3. There are halal food vendors on the street. (God, I love this country.)
4. Pigeons make a great sound with that first swoooosh of their wings.
5. I had one celebrity sighting: Camille Paglia on 58th Street. At least, I am pretty sure it was Camille Paglia. When I was running in Central Park, I saw a woman who was Gilda Radner’s doppelganger. Obviously, it wasn’t Gilda, unless she has taken to haunting Central Park.
A number of other authors and teachers blogged about the festivities: Jen Robinson, Susane Colasanti, She Who Knows Most Everything Teri Lesesne (who has posted Powerpoint presentations with terrific book recommendations), Jo Knowles, David Lubar, Linda Sue Park, Cecil Castellucci, and Sara Ryan. (Did I miss anyone?)
Highlights of the trip for me:
1. Meeting hundreds of friendly, kind, generous teachers who took the time to tell me about their experiences sharing my books with their students. And seeing the many teachers and professors who have become my friends. I am so very thankful for all of them.
2. Listening to the performances of the incredibly talented poets from Urban Word NYC.
3. Learning to identify Garret Freymann-Weyr, Ann Angel, and Jo Knowles. I am really bummed that I didn’t get a chance to have coffee or wine or pastries with them. Maybe we should get together and have coffee and wine and pastries. I apologize for messing up their names in my earlier post.
4. Getting up to the podium to speak and not being wretchedly anxious for the first time ever.
5. Signing 90 quizzes about SPEAK for a new teacher named Dena from Long Island.
6. Savoring the outstanding coffee in my hotel.
7. Seeing the first sketches for the CHAINS cover.
So I don’t have any photos from last night’s reception because a gremlin hid my camera. (I found it this morning in a place I looked ten times last night.) The party was loads of fun and a bunch of teachers promised to send me pictures.
I hung out at ALAN most of today, camera in hand, and promise I will post them later.
What – you don’t know what ALAN is? ALAN is THE GROUP YOU MUST JOIN if you teach English, reading, literature, and/or language arts to middle or high school students, or if you are an author for the same kids, or if you are a YA librarian. It is a group of smart, passionate people committed to keeping teens involved in reading. The ALAN workshop is always two days of author talks and professional workshops at the end of NCTE. I’ll be speaking there tomorrow.
Right now I have to change for an editorial meeting and another reception. I thought I’d leave you with this first draft of a poem that dropped into my head as I walked up 8th Avenue. Read it as you enjoy the fireplace which is in the library of my hotel and is burning in front of me as I type this.
applaud loud the
crowd of teachers unbowed,
proud to defy the lowering clouds
that darken the horizon.
ALAN, a peal
of pure song singing silver
and gold foretold by storytellers
old, old to rekindle the hope of
children on the edge.
Yesterday was a very, very intense day. Wonderful, every single minute of it, but wicked intense. I feel like an apple that was peeled with a dull knife and left on the counter overnight.
It’s weird because I used to be a profoundly shy person, and then I learned how to be brave and extroverted, and now I actually love hanging out at conferences and meeting hundreds of people, but then I have moments like this when I feel shy again. Balance, I guess, is the key.
The highlight of yesterday was booksignings, an hour at Anderson’s Bookstores booth, and then an hour at the PermaBound booth, where the line stretched forfreakingever.
I was thrilled when Ms. J. from Hawaii showed up! I met her on my MySpace page when she wrote asking some questions her students had about the symbolism in SPEAK. Her MySpace photo has her sticking her tongue out, so it seemed appropriate.