"How's my butt?" "Good! I mean, fine. It's fine." - Sarah and Derek in Save the Last Dance

10:10 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

We are still riffing off STLD. Every other line we give the crazy homegirl "Aiight" and I've asked Kitty twice, "How's my butt?" so she could do the next line, "Good! I mean, fine. It's fine." and we've been practicing hand gestures from the funky modern audition piece for Julliard. Kathe has said that she wanted to use her shirt for a doo-rag (a la Julia's Gap shirt prior to her first entrance to Steppes) multiple times today or French braid her hair in a complicated fashion that could never be done on a person by themselves. It's just too much fun.

We went to a copyright session this morning and had plenty of time to contemplate all the egregious violations our school participates in (and it sounds like we are like every other school in that respect). We got an early lunch (California Raisin Brioche French Toast with apricot butter, yum!) and hit the vendors since after noon is when they put their books at half price which really saves us uber $$$$. We scored more free stuff (the big eyes really works on the male vendors) and when it hit noon cruised around. Kathe stationed herself at the HarperCollins booth (they don't sell their books, they let librarians pick one for free) and justified herself as queen of free booty when she just kept going to the end of the line and working it over and over again. She ended up with something like 8 free books! Go, Kitty Kat!

In the meantime, my Jeopardy-won rolling tote (nicknamed "Rolly") and I cruised around picking up all our Oxford University Press reference books, with stops at Libraries Unlimited and Scarecrow Press. I began testing the structural integrity of Rolly, and actually stopped to scam a coffee mug and Starbucks gift card from Columbia Press, when I spotted a familiar figure. Polka-dotted woman from the "Exhbit Hall entrance" was adjusting her knee-highs in an equally as unflattering dress. When she finally finished testing her elastic, she straightened up and glanced over catching my laser-like gaze filled with contempt. She actually blanched and looked around panicked. I simply gave her an icy smile, glanced at my overflowing Rolly and walked on. She scurried away and disappeared in the direction of the Baker & Taylor booth, undoubtedly to change into her cat costume.

Kathe was still working the HarperCollins line to great effect, so I parked myself in the Facts on File press booth which was across from HarperCollins and managed to get some other really good titles. With all our stuff, we knew we had to get some serious packing happening and ship these puppies out, so we headed to Sack Sitters. Approximately four million other librarians appeared to have the same idea, so we spend the next two hours pushing six boxes of books and free stuff around, snaking ourselves through the heinously long line until we got to the table and could ship the g-d stuff. Kitty actually lifted this one box that weighed 55 lbs! She's wicked strong. Since I couldn't pack Rolly in a box or my suitcase, I spotted a group of three librarians totally weighed down with stuff and gave them Rolly to help out. It was so great how grateful they were and I felt like I had done a nice mitzvah to help them. God rewarded me by having me see lots of cute puppy dogs outside the convention center where I got lots of puppy kisses! There's a Pet Expo across the way and they were headed there and I wished I had Bugsy with me to check out the doggy fashions.

We had afternoon tea at the hotel since we knew we'd be eating late at the closing gala and we met a really nice librarian, Karen, from Texas, who ate with us, and we learned all about her interesting school district and the challenges she faced. We boarded the bus (I had changed midday into jeans and sneakers for my sore feet) and headed a few blocks to the Heinz History Center. The place was PACKED with librarians and we had a nice, if crowded, meal. Lots of friendly librarians and we had fun looking around at all the exhibits (some silly pictures were taken) and the gift shop. I got Ethan a little present and some fun rulers (which will be prizes for Women's History Month) and boarded the bus for home. I think some of the librarians had had too much of the open bar as they started singing "99 Librarians" but the syllabic rhythm was off or they had drunk too much happy juice, because it was pretty garbled. We were hoping for a TNT encoure of STLD, but the network were showing Legally Blonde instead which we really like, so we're making due. I feel completely wiped out, but at least we don't have our author brunch with Jerry Spinelli until 9 am and it's right in the hotel. I hoping we have a little picture taking time before we have to go to the airport tomorrow!

This is JEOPARDY!!!

2:39 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Very productive today. I went to two great sessions, the first one was about marketing your libraries to your users needs (great ideas for the Library Advisory Board to get in on) and another on action research and how to do good assessments that offer good data that can drive your program. The sessions were packed and as I was rushing from session to session, I saw her. Snarky little librarian. I gave her a look of death with a lot of confident body language. She visibly startled and looked quickly away. She fears me. Life is good.

Lots of walking around in my high-heeled boots (I'm beginning to get blisters), but I visited dozens of vendors and we got lots of free stuff - pens, totebags, little gizmos, etc. (I have a really great pen for Elizabeth B. with bubble stuff in it! She can blow bubbles out the window!!) After another lunch at the Fish Market (Kitty had sushi), we went back to the exhibit hall to do some reconnaisance. Kitty hustled off to her next session, but I had signed up to play Classroom Jeopardy at the Brodart booth at 2pm, so I went in line and dropped off our stuff at the Sack Sitters shipping people (who babysit your stuff for you until you're ready to ship it.)

Well, I went back at two and sat through the sales spiel for the Jeopardy game (which we are so getting - it's awesome) and four other contestants and I played the game. It was neck and neck between me and this nice blond woman, with her finally pulling ahead by a few thousand dollars. But wouldn't you know, her strategy was off for Final Jeopardy and I ended up winning because I bet the farm!! As Jackie would say, Hoo-HA!! I got a free rolling tote which saved me from needing a chiropractor from my heavy free booty from the vendors, but I had to come back at 4pm for the Tournament of Champions to see which of us would win the free Classroom Jeopardy game. I showed up and, hey, I'm a team player, so I was woo-hooing the other players when they got the right answers and everyone was having fun except the guy standing next to me (player #2) who was this massive fellow with dead eyes who was SUPER SERIOUS about the game. He was smashing the button of his buzzer and really belting out the answer (regrettably always in the form of a question) but I stayed only a few thousand behind him up until Final Jeopardy. He flubbed the final question and things looked good for me but he bet wisely and won by a paltry $300. Oh well. He clearly has issues he's wrestling with and all my angst is channeled towards snarky librarian.

We were so tired that we went back the room and I took a cat nap before we went down to dinner. Kitty and I figured we would crash early when I was flipping around on the remote and I found it. Save the Last Dance was on. I have a thing for STLD. It largely centers around the wooden performance of Julia Stiles and the ridiculous lines she has. ("WhatEVER, Nikki.") Kitty is of the Lorelei Gilmore approach to these movies, so we stayed up until midnight watching it, commenting on Julia's ever changing hair styles, her performance, and the really bad body doubles for the dancing. We shut off the lights finally and giggled about it till we fell asleep.

Coach WHO?

10:06 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Okay, I'm a little cranky so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Kitty and I went to the Exploratorium which is where many school librarians present their "best practices" in some form. We went into this room and first noticed that there were AMAZING free munchies in the center of the room, so - forget about the posterboard displays - we chowed down on some really nice lemonade and super chocolate brownies. Sated for a while, we then milled around to take a gander at people's work. Unfortunately, I'm shallow enough that I was distracted by what some of the people were wearing, so I kept glancing around and not paying attention. I mean, fanny packs??? A fanny pack wouldn't look great on Nicole Ritchie, so say nothing of someone less anorexic. And what is with flood pants? With knee socks?? And really unattractive clogs?? And, brace yourself, I actually saw someone in PEDAL PUSHERS. They were denim. Worn with knee socks. I've seen more attractive lederhosen on 80-year-old Bavarians. I think someone should let librarians not under 19 wear pedal pushers. No librarian is under 19.

We finished a little early because there's not much to see that is all that earth-shaking, so we decided to get a nice lunch at a local restaurant which revivified us. BECAUSE WE WERE GOING TO SEE LEVAR BURTON!! Yes! We got a seat on the floor in the ballroom (they ran out of chairs so we sat down on the floor) and listened to the chair of every forsaken committee in the ALA (and the Lt. Governor's secretary's hair dresser, or some similar weird permutation) and then they started the big build-up. "It is my extreme pleasure to introduce someone well-known to all of use as the coach (LeVar coaches people?) who locked out his basketball team out when their grades fell (whaaaa???). The man who Samuel L. Jackson is playing in a wonderful recent motion picture (LeVar is playing Samuel Jackson, huhhhh?) - COACH CARTER!!!!" What the f***?! Where the h*&% is LeVar Burton??!!!

Turns out Mr. Jordy "Precious" LaForge felt that his butt was more valuable "directing" a project and cancelled, so Coach Carter (who I'm sure is a very nice person) is high fiving and whistling (he actually had a whistle) down the center aisle. Puhleeze. I stalked out with Kitty behind me going "I want to see if he looks like Samuel Jackson!" (Conclusion, Coach Carter was better looking than Samuel, who is certainly a fine looking man.)

So we went to stake out our spot in front of the exhibit hall. It was 4 pm and the hall didn't open until 5:30 pm so we were the first ones there. YESSS!!! We asked the security guard guarding the opening where was the spot we should be and sat where she indicated. We got our our exhibit hall maps and began checking the material to figure out where we should go first. Answer: Greenwood Press's booth. Why? JANE AUSTEN BOBBLEHEAD DOLLS!!!!!

Of course, our magnetic personalities, witty banter, and obvious organization drew a crowd who we made friends with them and told them all about our tradition of being first in the exhibit hall. They were charmed and made fun comments and we were having a great time until... she appeared. This little (4 foot 9 inches tops), older librarian gave this smooth look into the exhibit hall in the space in front of us (a large area designated as to remain clear by the security guard) and then STAYED IN FRONT OF US. She cut the line!!! And she has the gall to signal her friend to come join her. In front of us! So our little group had to stand (it's only 5 pm, we are going to have to stand for a half an hour) and get behind this woman. But I'm not going to let this pass. I get alongside of her, look down (remember she was short), and say, "Excuse me, but my friend and I have a tradition of being first into the exhibit hall. It's why we came at 4 pm and sat down. Would you mind getting behind the other people who were here first?" No response. Not a flicker. I'm ticked. "Are you purposely not looking me in the eye or answering? Or you actually trying to AVOID me?", I asked. She whispers back, still NOT LOOKING at me, "I can't believe you're actually talking to me about this." Is she sh*****g me? She cut in front of 40 people who were all waiting for freaking LEVAR BURTON who didn't show and then got convention center rug imprints in our librarian butts waiting to be first in the exhibit hall!!! That's why I'm talking to her!!

I actually considered starting a rumble, or at least a firm shoving match, but by now there were a ton of librarians all crowding around, jockeying for position, so it would have involved others. So I decide to let it go and simply burn this woman's face into my brain so she can be on my "go to hell" list forever. No sooner do I decide this then a mousy woman in a red dress with white polka dots, actually says to me in a snooty way, "You know, you shouldn't engage in any behavior that you wouldn't ask your students to do." I just looked her and said in a VERY distant voice, "I believe that's what I'm doing." I would open up such a can of whoop-ass on any student who tried to cut a line of deserving people who had been waiting for an hour!!! The exhibitors were trying to get to the door through the throng of now-packed in like sardines librarians (thank you, short, snarky line-cutter librarian) and an exhibiter comes up to me to squeeze by and of course, I let him. Polka-dots snipes, "I think you should at least plan on letting the exhibitors through." Me. Raised eyebrow. "I believe that's what I'm doing."

They finally let us through, little snarky librarian is first through the door (but I know Kathe and I were the first people through who deserved to be there) and she goes right to the Greenwood Booth that has the bobbleheads!! And she's first!!! Okay, I'm second but just to show you that good karma pays off, I was chatting up the Greenwood rep about the Jane Austen encyclopedia that just came out and - she gave me two extra free bobblehead dolls!! Justice.

We worked the room with lots of free stuff which was good. We cut out at 6:30 pm and went back to the room to prep for the Independent School Section Networking Reception. I called Ethan, who helped me adjust the laptop to accept the wireless network at the hotel (still no internet based FirstClass or Exchange so no work email which is frustrating) and Kitty checked on her little man, Thad, who's perfect of course building forts with his grandmother. With things good on the home front, we located the networking reception in one of the function rooms. We had paid for $29 each for this reception so I expected a nice spread. Um, no. There was a cash bar (we couldn't even soft drinks for free and had to beg for water) and only a cheese block and crackers with some whole grain crackers! I actually pinched the grapes which were a garnish for the platter, I was so hungry. Then we looked around - NO CHAIRS!! There was about 20 more people than chairs (Kitty Kat quote of the day, "Pittsburgh is the city of rivers, but not the city of chairs.") so we decided to sit in a corner on the floor but were saved by a nice group of librarians who found us a chair which we both sat on, eating our cheese plates.

We passed a nice night and a great time talking to the other librarians, but I'm definitely of the opinion that it wasn't worth $29. We ordered dessert back in our rooms and watched Sex in the City again for solace. Verdict of the day? I had a great time with Kitty and it was an adventure. I love Pittsburgh - it's so beautiful - but I'm keeping an eye out for little librarians.

We are in Pittsburgh!!!!!

11:21 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Well, Kitty and I arrived safely in Pittsburgh last night. The plane ride (and it was a PLANE with propellers and everything) was quick, if noisy, but the real adventure came when we got in the shuttle to go to our hotel. Our driver was, oh how shall I put it, a MANIAC. He didn't signal, drove 80 miles an hour everywhere, and began referring to his days in "combat" (he appeared to be of an age that he could have been in "Nam") so I thought he might be having a flashback involving post-traumatic stress disorder. Kitty almost crossed herself at one point, and she's not even Catholic!

We settled into our hotel (a nice room but the bathroom could be better - we need more countertop space - jeez, we're two women here!) and were so tired that after we called home, we got room service. The food was really good and we changed into our pajamas and watched Nanny 911 and Sex in the City. We hissed every time ESPN went by!! Yeah, girls night out!! Kitty invented a librarian "gang sign" and we practiced "throwing" it at each other so we could signal to each other when we thought another librarian was going to go by.

We slept a little late, called the school to figure out a snafu with the school credit card (which was the hotel's fault), and went down to the chi-chi Terrace Room restaurant for a nice breakfast. How elegant. We then walked leisurely down to the Convention Center (which is an easy two city blocks away) and admired all the great cityscapes. Pittsburgh is a BEAUTIFUL city!! I'm so impressed by all the historic buildings intermingled with the clean, steel skyscrapers. We're taking LOTS of pictures for everyone to see. Soon, the Exploratorium will start opening up and we'll get to see the presentations from other librarians about some best practices that have worked for them, so we're excited! Talk to you soon!