I’m not sure if this is the Great Cold of Schenectady, Part II, or some new-fangled Pittsburgh bug, but the symptoms hit again Sunday. I do not feel like death, but I have that hesitant, lurking feeling, like a viral stalker is hiding behind the potted plants, waiting for me to stop drinking fluids so it can pounce on me and suck out all my energy and refill my sinuses with quick-hardening cement.
If you think I am a slightly hysterical, near-hypochondriac now, you should have known me as a kid.
I didn’t have too many things to do on Sunday, besides blow my nose. Beth and I had long, long conversations about the standard high school curriculum, what I don’t like about it, and how unprepared so many kids are for college and real life. We sat in the lobby of our hotel which she called a giant living room. It is decorated for Christmas, which normally would irritate me, but it doesn’t here because this feels like some other-worldly place in which everyone loves books and cares about teenagers and it is OK to have Christmas trees in giant living rooms.
Last night was the big ALAN reception. ALAN stands for The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. It is a part of the National Council of Teachers of English. If you teach English, Language Arts, Writing, Reading, etc. to teens, you really should belong to this group. They will enrich your classroom and help keep you inspired. If you are a new English teacher and the thought of paying dues to join something makes your wallet whimper, then ask the people who love you to give you a membership as a holiday gift. But really, it’s not that expensive, and you do not have to join NCTE to belong to ALAN (although you probably want to!).
So anyway, we went to the ALAN party, which rocked the house. The room was crammed with authors and teachers. I was glad we got there early because I had been craving cheese all day and I was able to snag a couple pieces of Havarti before the mob hit the door. I lost count of how many people I talked to and only remembered to take a couple of photos. Thank you so much to all of the teachers who shared their stories of how they use my books in their classes.
One of my favorite people in the whole world was there last night, Walter Dean Myers. If you have not read his books yet, you must. Put it on this week’s to-do list. He is one of the finest American authors alive today. Not surprisingly, he also has a talented son, Christopher Myers, who illustrates as well as writes. Chris wasn’t there last night, but Walter was, and it did my heart good to see him again. But I am an idiot, so I forgot to take his picture.
On the left is Lori Goodson, who helped hold the butter plate I photographed on Saturday night. With her are some teachers from Kansas who gave their students interesting, imaginative assignments (yay!) for SPEAK. I apologize to Roger, far right, for not returning the green pen he loaned me.
It was wonderful to see Jen Bryant again. Not only is she a great author and a friend, but we are distant Holcomb cousins, which is fun.
Rock star English teachers from Georgia.
By the end of the evening, I was floating towards the ceiling with giddiness. Beth had to grab my ankle and tie a ribbon to it so I didn’t get stuck way up at the top of the lobby of the Westin. Thus secure, we trooped out into the night and had a late dinner with a bunch of folks including my editor Sharyn (sdn), and Lansdale homeboy Kevin O’Malley.
There is one word on today’s schedule: quiet. I give the 8am ALAN speech Tuesday morning, then I hit the road; first to Millersville to hang out with Meredith, and then the long drive home to my Beloved Husband and a fire in the fireplace.