More from over here

I stayed up much too late watching the international coverage of the horror in Virginia. I can’t even begin to understand this.

And I feel sort of weird feeling chipper and talking about something else, like my experience here. The shootings were the topic of every conversation last night. While I was working out in the hotel gym, Poles kept staring at the TV screen to catch the latest and walking away shaking their heads.

Maybe by working harder to connect with each other, we can stop the madness.

South Carolina weekend

When the sun came up this morning I staggered out of bed. Time has flown since Thursday. What, it’s March? No way!

I took the long way to South Carolina, impeded by the snowstorms that affected Philly and Laguardia. Got in four hours late, but I made it and that was all that counted. I knew I was going to like the community when we passed a Mrs. Smith’s pie factory on the way to the school. If I lived there, I would erect a house of worship next to it.

Mabry Jr. High was wonderful. The kids were very forgiving when I asked them to repeat things fifty times because my dumb Yankee ears struggled with their accents. I took a couple of photos and have stuck them behind the jump. Thank you to librarian Michelle Pope, asst. principal Crystal McSwain, Kelly Wright, and all of the teachers and kids who were so much fun. Friday night I went to a reception for Jamboread where I got to meet luminaries like Spartanburg’s mayor, the library board, etc. I always feel awkward at events like that, but a number of librarians were there as Emergency Conversational Partners and that helped.

Saturday was Jamboread. “What is Jamboread?” you ask. It’s an amazing book festival sponsored by the world-class Spartanburg, SC library system. Four authors, 6,000 book lovers, puppet shows, face painting, and a guy in a mouse costume. Along with Christopher Paul Curtis and me, readers got to listen to illustrator Janet Stevens and Andrew Clements.

I knew the day would rock when I walked into the teen section of the library and found the opening line of SPEAK painted on the wall, along with other notable quotes. Yeah, I puddled up. I wanted to throw myself on Susan, the YA librarian, and sob, but I didn’t want to scare her. I ate breakfast with the winners of a poetry contest. Note to world: Spartanburg is the home to the poets of the next generation. These writers blew me away with their talent. The bagels were good, too. Many thanks to everyone who made the day fly, especially Leslie and Margo.

Random Spartanburg notes:
– The Miss South Carolina pagent was going on and all the participants were staying in my hotel. I saw Miss South Carolina, wearing her crown and surrounded by an adoring throng, getting out of an elevator. I do not understand pagents. Must explore this.
– Grits. Which I am strangely fond of.
– Did I mention who I had breakfast with yesterday?
– This country would be much better off if all mayors supported libraries as much as the Spartanburg mayor does.
– Back to the pagent thing. I lied, I do understand it. I want a crown.

Photographic evidence


Well, that “week” went fast. I leave again in a couple hours for South Carolina.

Let’s hit the rewind button, shall we? Yesterday… yesterday was a bit of a fog. I planted my rear end in front of the computer from breakfast until 9:30pm. I ate in front of the computer. Drank coffee and tea there, too. Spend all that time doing one last pass through TWISTED, checking for loose ends, stray mistakes, creeping errors. Now it is DONE…. until I hear from the Editress who may want more revisions. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday was a school visit to the schools closest to my house, Mexico Academy Middle School and the High School, in snowy Mexico, NY. Rest of the week and my conference in Washington after the jump