Appleton, Day 1

So why am I here? Because the good people of Appleton, WI turned SPEAK into a community project. *blush* This morning I am speaking at Einstein Middle School, this afternoon I’ll be at Appleton East High School. I’m giving a public presentation tonight at the Appleton Public Library from 7 – 8:45 pm.

Yesterday was a long day. It took 11 hours to get from my apartment in PA to the hotel here, but that’s because I had a wicked long layover in Minneapolis. If you have to have a layover, that’s the place to do it. It is fairly peaceful (as airports go) and has a very nice bookstore if you “happen” to finish reading all of the books in your backpack. Stuck in an airport and forced to buy a book. Tough life.

The best quote of the day came from one of the Northwest Air stewards. At the beginning of our flight from Philly, it was announced that meals were available for purchase. The two guys on the other side of the aisle were excited about this – they were hungry. So the steward comes through the cabin, offering his goodies for sale. The “meal” cost $3.50. It contained some cookies, crackers and artificial processed cheese food, and a stick of beef product and chemicals.

“Where’s the meal?” asked the hungry flyers.

“This is it,” answered the steward, with a sigh.

“But we want sandwiches.”

“To get sandwiches you have to fly to Hawaii.” (that’s the best quote IMHO).

The guys bought the snack box. Good thing they did because when the free soda came around, it was not accompanied by itty-bitty bags of pretzels or nuts. I would like to point out (in defense of Northwest Air) that we were not charged for napkins. And while the seat had the comfort level of a wooden bench, the landing was incredibly smooth, and I give out lots of bonus points for that.

Time to go. More sights and sounds of Appleton later.

Off to Wisconsin

The weekend went way too fast. It was beautiful up North. The snow is finally gone and trees are just getting ready to explode. I planted some pansies and attacked a small corner of the yard with a rake. BH grilled steak and we enjoyed great sunrises and sunsets. I read a lot, too (oh joy, oh bliss!!) – Wicked by Gregory McGuire.

I left yesterday morning and drove down to Moravian to hang out with Stef and her friends. They made me a cake to celebrate PROM on the NYTimes list. It had bookworms on it *grin*. Got back to Horsham in time to pick up Mer, from her Ohio band trip. They wound up in 15th place out of 40 bands which is very respectable. It was sad to watch the last of them milling around the parking lot…. sad, because band is over for the seniors. It’s the beginning of a long list of “lasts” for a group of kids who really loved high school. (Yes, there are such people. They are rare, but they do exist.)

Time is a particularly painful thing for middle-aged moms and high school seniors. I should stock up on Kleenex.

I need to pack the dreaded suitcase again. Today’s trip takes me to Appleton, Wisconsin. More details later.

Big Apple, Day 2

Well, that was fun!

Tuesday was Brooklyn Day. The plan was for me to be picked up at the hotel and driven to the library. It was a great plan. The one part that didn’t quite work out the way we planned was that several of the roads and exits we were supposed to take were closed due to construction. My driver, Donna (who is the sexual assault awareness expert writing the SPEAK/sexual assault curriculum for New York City schools) is from Jersey. I am from Philly. We had no freaking idea where we were in Brooklyn. We needed a hero.

And we got one – Rickie, the janitor at the King’ Bay library. Thank you, Rickie. Thank you, thank you, thank you. He talked us through the confusing streets and parkways and avenues. We got to the library late, but everyone was really kind about it.

And then I got to talk with the students from Sheepshead Bay High School (Home of the Sharks). Wow – they were fantastic. I had so much fun hanging out with them. Brooklyn is definitely my new favorite place. Let me pour a few more gallons of gratitude: thank you very much to all the students for their respect, smiles, and great questions. Thanks also to the teachers (who were much nicer than I remember any of my teachers being!) and Alan, the school administrator whose title I forgot (sorry) for making the experience rock.

Image hosted by The only thing was they weren’t exactly thrilled that I took their picture. They were much happier looking in person that they appear to be here.

We did not get lost heading back to Manhattan, thanks to Rickie again. However…

A Note To Amtrak
Yo. I like trains. I think public transportation is fantastic. And I’m cheap. Normally I take NJ Transit to get from Trenton to New York. It costs $14 one way. But I was given Amtrak tickets for this trip, and I wasn’t going to turn them down. Amtrak trains are much more comfortable than NJT trains, and are not as crowded. They are also outrageously expensive: $41. So imagine my surprise when I got to Penn Station to find out that I had to stand in line for an hour because Amtrak has no signs explaining the whole reserved/unreserved ticket thing, because they didn’t have enough staff working, and because the staff that was working was ill-informed. Next time, I’ll go NJT.

Thank you for indulging that rant.

For those of you who had money riding on this, my cup of tea at the hotel only cost $1.48. The banana, however, cost $1.50. It’s hard growing banana trees in the city, I guess.

The good news was I got home in time to watch the final Parent Performance of Mer’s drum line team. They spent all last night on a bus to Ohio. Their preliminary round is at 8:30 tonight.

I have a day of laundry and packing. I’m going to escape up North to spend a couple days with Beloved Husband, Number One Son, and the Creature With Fangs.

Brooklyn Info

Finally back from speaking… if you’re near Brooklyn, here is where you can find me between 10 am and noon tomorrow:

Kings Bay Library
3650 Nostrand Ave. (near Ave. W),
Brooklyn, NY 11229
t. 718-368-1709

The crowd should be small and nice.

Big Apple, Day 1

So I wound up bringing my computer to New York after all. I answered a ton of email on the train. Of course, my computer is having a hissy fit about the Internet server here at the hotel and I can’t mail out anything, but at least it’s written.

I spent the morning at Teen Central, an amazing part of the Donnell Library on 53rd Street in New York. Are you are teenager (in spirit or in body) in this Big City? Then you should go here. It is filled with books and music and computers and is staffed by terrific librarians.

Image hosted by The YA library staff has one bathroom. By moving the beads to either Neo or Wonder Woman, they turn it into a men’s or women’s bathroom.

Image hosted by We had teens from six different schools, I think. Thanks to the administrators who let the students come, the teachers who accompanied them, the New York Women’s Agenda for making the whole thing happen, and especially the teens. You guys were a great audience. Thanks also to my buddy Cara and her group for the amazing goodies!!

Image hosted by This is Roz Abrams, who is smart and powerful and sweet all at the same time. She is the co-chair of the New York Reads Together program (along with doing fifty million other things). In a couple hours I’m giving another presentation. I think this one is for adults, and I’m told Roz will be asking me questions. This is going to be fun.

I’m speaking some place in Brooklyn tomorrow afternoon, then I race home for the Parent Preview performance of Mer’s drum line. They leave for the World Championships Wednesday night. Go Hatters!

Right now I’m going in search of a very large cup of tea to drink while I sit and read. I’m taking bets on how much the tea will cost.