November 17, 2014
A Late Sunday Evening Hello…from New York City,
♫♪ Hine ma tov uma na-im Shevet achim gam yachad…
To my surprise and delight, my week started out with a ride on the crosstown bus with twins Jack and Josh, who are almost 4. The last time I saw these two was with their nanny. They were both busy eating raisins out of a box. Josh, ever so carefully one at a time, while Jack trying to fit as many fingers in his box as possible. This time, squirmy Josh kept his legs sprawled out so Jack couldn't sit on the only seat by me, causing a slight ruckus of whining from them both. The game of ducking heads in the tunnels as we went through Central Park, they call the kids jungle, changed the tune coming from our bus. Thank goodness there were four tunnels! All this time, Jack hung onto his LL Bean catalogue page, rather importantly, sharing his “L” lesson, in between singing his song, after all the tunnels disappeared from sight. These two are so adorable. Later that day, guess who was on the same bus as me? Yep, they came and sat by me on the bus ride back too. Jack couldn’t wait to sing his song to me again. ♫♪ Hine ma tov uma na-im…
I love looking up at the sky and breathing in the morning air as I walk the three blocks to work after getting off the bus. It still amazes me, the beauty of the buildings, the yellow blurs from taxis going by, and the honking of the horns playing their musical tunes of “hurry-up”. Why do I keep telling myself, I'm in New York? Feels incredible! Today the lady on the same bus ride with Jack and Josh this morning, sitting near us, mentioned it was Sesame Street’s 45th birthday! Good ‘Ol Synchronicity, knowing that occasionally, creeping into the forefront of my mind, was my interview with Sesame Workshop coming up later in the week.
It has been a rather crammed packed week with many train rides, often feeling like an ant, emerging out into the open from the tunnels below, going from the rattling and whoosh of the trains going by, to the majestic of the skyscrapers with a completely different ensemble of busyness and a welcoming melody of life. There is an endless array of aspiration that New York offers, a tremendous variety and sources of excitement to fill ones creative spirit. I have found inspiration in an abundance of supply for that which is beckoning inside—books, kids, and writing. Some of which are:
Exploring ‘The New School’ off of 14th Street, in Greenwich Village, which hosted New School students along with SCBWI members, a free agents panel. I sat in an auditorium with an entourage of writers drenched in the litany of literary discussion, in learning how agents deal with submissions. It was nice to put actual faces to agents that I’ve researched and read about. Agents from Pippin Properties, New Leaf Literary, and Trident Media Group were there, who deal mainly with children’s literature.
And yes, Sesame Street. A very basic interview, but one that I interjected “Jane” into easily. A once in a lifetime experience going through security, up the elevators, out into the world of Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Elmo…only in New York. The adrenaline crash left me sitting out in the plaza of the Lincoln Center, across the street, while I took some time until I could start to feel like myself again. This was like all of my New York City moments rolled into one huge ball of Bata Bing emotional joy. I was zonked out the rest of the day.
You may get excited waiting to see your favorite band in concert, a movie, maybe a ball game as I do in attending kid’s stuff like meeting some of my favorite authors and illustrators from my favorite children’s books at the Eight Annual Children’s Book Fair. Who would of thunk that there are over 30 published children’s authors living in Brooklyn? Ya, I know it’s New York.
Upon entering the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum this last Saturday, instantly I was surrounded by chatterings from children perched on their tiptoes, tucked under their parent’s arm, leaning over tables—tables with little stack of books, displaying fanciful illustrations beckoning to be picked up and read. Amazement spread over my face to see so many Brooklyn children’s authors all in one place. Shifting my way in and around each table, peering through every little gape of space, I began searching for my favorites. Amongst over the 30 authors, I found Melissa Guion (Baby Penguins Everywhere), Sophie Blackall (Ivy & Bean), and Abby Hanlon (Dory Fantasmagory), that I just had to talk to. Looking back over my shoulder upon leaving, I took in one last blast of sweet childhood joy from the chorus of little voices booming all around, with towers of balloons that seem to dance as they floated in the air. I could hardly wait to open each book, reaching into my bag, taking one out at a time. Peering at the autographs, I was touched by the special notes inside, feeling my heart bursting with immense satisfaction that my eyes watered up as I sat on the train ride home.
Tonight, on the train I just happen to have Brielle and Aston(two little ones with their mom) who were on their way to Symphony Space on the UWS too! They were incredibly sweet… "Oh I'm going to sit by you. Will you walk with us?”
This was the night for the Terrific Tails! A Celebration of E.B. White (aka, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet Swan) with reading performances by Jane Curtin, David Hyde Pierce, Liev Schreiber, and Naomi Watts to name a few. BTW Jane Curtin was hysterical with her interpretational reading and character voice. To be in a theater, stage in center, balcony above, to people filing in with a murmur of anticipation all in celebration of EB White, was nice. I knew this would be a moment to surrender all thoughts, to capture the essence of an author, who made a lasting contribution towards children's literature.
I turned and there beside me, they were Brielle and Aston, the happiest as little bugs could be, beaming up at me as if I was made of magic. Chattering away more excited about riding home with me than the show. I was touched by two angels tonight! It's easy to sniffle to keep the drips at bay, but the eye tear ducts are completely different. I’m afraid my pupils sat in puddles for most of the train ride home. Thoughts kept filling them back up. Dang it! Lil voices echoing my name “Jane"!
And lastly, to my absolute BEST DAY of the week event, was this past Friday for the Open House at Random House! Out of all the places, experiences, and environments I’ve been in since arriving in NY, this one resonated with me the most. I could feel my heart beating with excitement all day long. I usually get a rush of excitement walking up the subway steps to see where I’ve been placed this time, but not this time. I was excited before I even got off the train! I walked my way down Broadway to Random House for the big event. I was greeted in the book-lined lobby, given my credentials for admission, and sent up to the 2nd floor to gather my limited edition Lands’ End tote bags full of–what else?–books! Including “Duck & Goose” by Tad Hills, “Love Lashes and Lipstick" by Mally Roncal, “There Was a Little Girl” by Brooke Shields, and “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, all who would be speaking during the panel sessions, doing books signing plus other authors and more stuff. (I’ll put a picture of my goodies below in the comments).
Besides meeting the president of Random House after leaving the 14th floor from the cocktail party, I was deeply moved by the panel session of “Unbroken”. All the executives(Random House Team) who had their hands on the production and sales of this book were on the panel. It was one of those moments when you got to experience a once in a lifetime occurrence over a pretty phenomenal book. Some of them could hardly talk without showing emotion or tears, describing their role of bringing this book to life, along with a first time preview screening of the movie, being brought to the big screen by actress and director Angelina Jolie.
I was pleasantly surprised by the whole encompassing experience, including the candid discussions of the panel members, talking with the authors, (I had a great talks with Tad Hills, Mally Roncal, and Brooke Shields at the book signings), and the stirring of my interest in all of it. I felt like a princess at a royal ball, treated to many surprises and a little of Fairy Godmothers’ magic. I could ramble on forever about all the details, but my eyes are getting pretty heavy by now as the hour slips into midnight here.
I can’t forget to talk about my Miss Penelope. She or we, took a vacation from doggie adventures this week. That's ok because when I teased her on one of our walks with the choice of the subway steps right at the park entrance, she chose the park as her direction to go. I'm sure she and her furry house guest managed to have a few adventures when left alone. There is always a rug to straighten, a curtain to close, chair pads to be picked up, blankets to be unraveled, and two innocent sleeping culprits waiting my arrival when I come home.
I'm purely touched by New York. What you give seems to come back in the most heartfelt ways. And this, I say thank you.
Hugs and doggy kisses,
Jane and Penelope