Where am I?

Sometimes I wonder…

Actually, I’m in PA again. The great part about this trip is that I am able to see two of my daughters while on the road. Hung out w/ Stef last week, have been bugging Mer and her friends all weekend. The weather was cruddy yesterday, so I dragged Mer to a fabric store. I have decided it is time to get a hobby for the first time in a very long time. We fondled the fabric and contemplated cloth. I fantasized about quilting. When we went back to her dorm, she – being a practical child – handed me her pants that were in need of repair.

Being away from home so much makes you random. Random thoughts:

Oh my goodness.

My computer is still in critical condition. In fact, they had to airlift it to a trauma center in Texas. The tech guy muttered something about a motherboard. My computer had a major stroke. Thank goodness I bought the warranty. If the surgery goes well and there are no complications from the anesthesia, I’ll have my baby back in my arms in two weeks.

Warranties = health insurance

Maybe I should buy a typewriter.

I want to write poetry about frustration for forty-eight hours. I want to be very, very quiet for a decade or so and let all of my words come out my fingertips. I want the perfect croissant and the perfect cup on black coffee on a street in Paris that smells like flowers. I want to go back to waking up at 3:30 am and going to bed at sunset. I want to talk to my grandparents, but they passed over long, long ago.

I wish I could be three years old for five minutes so I could have the mother of all temper tantrums on the floor of the hotel lobby.

A student at Agnes Irwin asked me which superpower I’d like to have. First thing out of my mouth? Being invisible. My inner introvert really is ready to melt down.

OK, randomness over.

Bensalem Middle Schools tomorrow, Newtown Friends School Tuesday…. driving home (no speeding ticket no speeding ticket no speeding ticket) Tuesday night. Driving to Rochester for three more days of not writing on Wednesday.

What super power do you want?

Wind-up Author Doll

A rather busy week. In fact, it’s been a blur. I am writing this from a library computer… I’m afraid if I wait too long to update, I’ll forget everything.

It’s already beginning to fade…….

Thanks to everyone who came to Moravian College Tuesday night. It was my good fortune to sit on a panel with David Lubar (one of the funniest guys on the planet) and new author (also a great guy), Paul Acampora. The highlight, of course, was hanging out with my daughter, Stef.

A couple of packed days and nights of school and library visits have followed. Today I am at the Agnes Irwin School just outside Philly. I spoke here a couple years ago, and it has been a delight coming back. When I’m done, it’s back on the road to Lancaster, PA, where tomorrow’s school awaits, as well as daughter Meredith and her friends at Millersville.

I’m still anxiously awaiting word on the condition of my computer. Maybe I should start a vigil. Oh, and there is a case of bubonic plague in Los Angeles. This is the kind of thing that freaks me out.

In honor of National Poetry Month, a quick haiku:

The bubonic plague
infecting with tendrils gray
Powerbook weeping

Not great, but it’s a start.

Happy Easter/sick computer

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!!!

(end of happy part of post)

So the good news about my computer getting sick? It didn’t happen until after my last presentation in Ohio. And it’s an Apple Powerbook, so we just drove to the store straight from the airport and the EMTs took my poor baby out of my arms, started CPR, and promised they would do their best.

More good news – all it needs is a new power port, the thingie where you plug in the electric cord. Given how many thousands and thousands of miles the computer has logged this past year, it’s amazing it lasted this far. Even more good news – I should be able to pick it up on Wednesday.

Bad news – I leave Monday for a week-long speaking tour in PA. Without my computer. Without my computer that has most of my notes and emails pertaining to this trip.

So Easter Day for me is being spent pulling together the fragments of info I have (hotel reservations, contracts, etc.) to figure out what I don’t know yet and writing lots of pleading emails on the computer I am using right now (which belongs to BH, who is busy cooking Easter dinner so I can do all of this scrambling. Yes, he is the best husband on the planet. No, you can’t have him. I have a lifelong warranty on him. Mine. Mine!)

And before you yell at me, yes, I have everything backed up. Of course I do. But there is no way to access the backed-up info because it is all Mac OS X based and BH’s computer is a Microyuck Windows-based operating system. And I couldn’t afford to buy a new Apple just to access those emails.

So I probably won’t be posting much here this week. I look forward to seeing whoever can come to the Moravian College gig on Tuesday (call their library for details). Also, I’ll be speaking at the Northeast branch of the Philly library on Wednesday night – call them for the time, too. The rest of the trip will be at schools, plus I get to hang out with daughters Stephanie and Meredith!!!!

::dances wildly across the floor, causing rabbits to flee in all directions::

I’ll be home a week from Tuesday night, leave Wednesday for Rochester.

(I can’t wait until I grow up because then I’ll be an author and I will stay home and write every day.)

But really, Happy Easter.

The SPEAK house

I’m back in Columbus, OH, where they filmed SPEAK. The librarian at Columbus School for Girls, Beth Abramovitz, generously drove me to the street where the House of Speak is so I could see it.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Ta-da! (Yeah, I think they’ve painted it.)

Thanks to the young women at CSG for being so sweet and energetic yesterday. The day flew by. But (for a change) I remembered to take some photos.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I am the one not wearing a cute plaid skirt. (I’m not sure I could ever wear a uniform… too rebellious.)

I was lucky enough to be invited to a cool Seder dinner for Passover last night, too. Many thanks to the family that opened their home and their celebration to me, and to Beth for arranging a great day and evening.

As I was being driven back to my hotel, the moon was full and fat, and the spring wind was blowing and I was exhausted, but feeling content and grateful.

I’m off to one more day of Columbus (why do so many of the big cities of Ohio start with “C”?). Home tomorrow!!

Amazing Timken Experience

Days like yesterday give me faith in the American High School. Yeah, I really just wrote that. I can’t believe it, either. I have lots of faith in teenagers and good teachers, but I have been in way too many schools where administration was a weak link, and the kids suffered from a lack of vision and compassionate adults who were willing to fight for them.

Let me tell you about Timken High School in Canton, OH.

If you look at the statistics, you’d sigh. Many of the kids in this school come from what is politely called “underserved” areas, meaning their families struggle with poverty, unemployment, and a host of other concerns. These are the kids that are usually forced to accept the bottom of the barrel. Not at Timken. It has brilliant administrators (yes, I put those two words next to each other!) who have crafted a high school that offers all kinds of academic and vocational programs for their students. The school is divided into academies: a Technology Academy, an Arts Academy, and a Service Academy. Along with the elements of a traditional secondary curriculum, kids are given loads of opportunities for real-world education, and can take classes that will feed directly into post-secondary training to prepare them for jobs. I really hope some smart reporter looks into the innovative and practical things that are going on there.

My presentations were unique, thanks to the handiwork of Lynn Rudd, who coordinated my visit. Speak was chosen as an “all-school reads” book. Yep – everybody read it, including the guys in the auto body classes. Students made magnificent artwork based on the book and discussed it all over the place. Instead of just having me blather on in the auditorium, Lynn set up an extravaganza. The jazz band played while students took their seats. A beloved principal and one of their top seniors (who will study broadcasting) interviewed me on stage. And when the show was over, a punk/rock band played as students left. If any of you teachers out there are looking for information about this innovative format, or how to pull off a whole school reading the same book, please give Lynn a call.

Yes, like many schools in America, Timken is struggling. They have received a lot of attention because of the number of pregnant students at the school, an issue which they are addressing head-on. (Many of the administrative and curricular changes are recent.) Resources are stretched. But the faculty there is committed to their students in a degree which I rarely see. The kids are fantastic. People there are all working hard so that every student has the chance to grow, strive, and become the best person they can be – regardless of income or background. I left there feeling energized and uplifted by the people I met. So thank you, Timken!!! Thank you very, very much!

Oh, and when I was in the Canton/Akron area, I got to drive past the NFL Football Hall of Fame. It does not look as imposing as the photos make it look. In fact, it looks rather like the kitchen tool you use to squeeze lemon juice from a lemon, or maybe a painful medical device. I was amused.

Now I am in Columbus for a couple more days. I think I’m going to get to see the house where they filmed the Speak movie tonight. Will take photos.

(Note to a couple friends of mine who are trying to reach me by email – these hotel internet services are weird and I can’t send email out, plus I am really busy. Call me at home on Friday afternoon, or I will email you back then.)