I meet SARAH DESSEN!!!!I woke up with such a headache this morning – in retrospect I don’t think that I drank enough water yesterday to keep up with the heat. It is so unbelievably hot here – 97 degrees and tremendous humidity. If I wasn’t putting about half a pound of Aveda Anti-Humectant Pomade in my hair, it would be frizz city and I would resemble little orphan Annie. I decided to stay in bed a couple of hours (after all, I was just going to go to the exhibit hall and it isn’t as if they had a new BOBBLEHEAD (are you listening Greenwood Press) for me to get. I’m sure all the pens will wait.
I had a lovely continental breakfast in the Club Lounge (this city might be a little seedy but it can do pastry just fine). I headed to the convention center to do a little reconnaissance and figure out where my afternoon session would be. So I’m toodling around and I hear a name, “Sarah Dessen”. Excuse me? A kind stranger mentions that Sarah Dessen is in the Scholastic Booth. Right now. Cut to crazy turquoise streak of light (me) running through exhibit hall (the size of three football fields) to Scholastic Booth.
I expected there to be crowds of people around her, but there she was, just like her pictures on her book jackets, sitting at a table with a pen and no one around, looking a little self-conscious. “Oh my God, are you Sarah Dessen!?!” I burst out. She perked up, “Why, yes, I am!” I won’t hide it; I gushed. I told her all about my Library Advisory Board girls, about how they fight for her books, about how they don’t even get to fight over them until I read them because I have first dibs, about how “Someone Like You” is my favorite, blah, blah. Authors must be okay with people blathering about how great they are since she just smiled and laughed in all the right places. I told her that I thought she was a lyrical writer who really touched the lives of her readers and she said, “You know, I never get tired of hearing that. Thank you so much for saying it – it will help me write when I feel stuck.” She also said, “Be sure to tell all your Library Advisory Board girls ‘thank you’ for reading all my books – they sound really cool.” Did you hear that, girls? Sarah Dessen thinks you are cool!! And she’s right!! She let me take my picture with her, which was really nice. I look like someone who has been tortured by hell-like heat and has no make up and an idiot smile on her face, but whatever. It’s Sarah Dessen!!
I got on the different bus that would take me to the Hilton so I could get to the Margaret Edwards luncheon and hung out in the lobby reading the companion book from my budgeting pre-conference yesterday (I had paid a visit to the ALA Bookstore after Sarah Dessen). I looked over to the Hilton gift whop and was stunned to see that they sell wine and liquor – in the gift shop! What is with this city? On Canal Street near my hotel there is a store called “The VooDoo Mart” that sells (brace yourself) liquor, fresh fruit, and feather boas. I’m not kidding. Do people really require feather boas for scotch and/or banana consumption here? I mean, it seems festive, but weird.
Anyhoo, the Margaret A. Edwards Luncheon started and I was so excited to see Jacqueline Woodson in person. She is such an amazing writer (and she was sitting with Walter Dean Myers and An Na – pretty illustrious company) and deserves such great recognition as this. I sat with nice people (of course, everyone is nice here) including a lovely librarian from a private school in Baltimore, Maryland and a public librarian who serves teens in the Hamptons on Long Island. Good food, nice company. I was sorry I had to duck out early in order to get to my afternoon session in the Convention Center. As I was schvitzing in the heat outside waiting for the bus, a friendly voice called me over to share a bench in the shade with her. We had a nice chat about the weather and then moved onto the bus and talked about the city, quilting, you name it.
I hustled to the session room (I felt like I was walking back to the Hilton, it took so much walking to get there) and took a seat in the back. What an interesting session! Nancy Everhart (fellow NBPTS member) was there, along with a library science professor, and a student. They all work together in Florida as part of a new project LEAD, which is funded by an IMLS grant, and basically seems to offer a core curriculum with a MLIS program (there are post-Master’s certificate and degree programs also) that prepares students to undergo the NBPTS process. It can even be done online, so it is definitely something I should look into when I feel ready to try for certification in a couple years (preferably after the library renovation). The student, Rachel, gave a great perspective on the reflective writing piece and how she feels that these classes (taken as part of her MLIS) will prepare her as a practitioner for Board Certification. A really great session.
I didn’t want to be tempted by anything in the exhibit hall until I figured out if I could ship it home (my suitcases were rather full – it turns out that 7 days worth of clothes and stuff is actually a lot!). I located the post office which is a UPS store that rents boxes (very important, since you can keep coming back and loading them up until they’re full and ready to ship). I’ll be all set to tackle at least part of the exhibit hall tomorrow. I saw these great stuffed alligators that I totally want to get for little Thaddeus.
I headed back on the bus to the hotel and realized that I felt exhausted (the heat again) so rather than go to my room (where I would never have the energy to leave) I headed across the street to The Palace Café again. I sat in my favorite seat with a view of the pastry chef working and ordered the Palace Potato Pie, which is shredded pork topped with mashed potatoes, topped with spinach and melted cheddar cheese, served on a bed of onion gravy with garlic breadsticks. Paging heaven – an angel just landed on my plate! Follow it up with the Creole Cheesecake (made with a soft Creole cream cheese) and covered with a local citrus preserves, and you have a meal to dream about. The creaminess of the cheesecake with the acid of the preserves was an unbelievable mouth combination. Back to the room to collapse in a heap and I’m all set.