Monday, July 13, 2009

on losing the card and stuff

Okay, so here's how it happened. The evening before, I got into a pretty serious discussion about the bias against boys in literacy/language arts instruction in schools and in the overall field of YA literature in general.

As one very notable person present at that dinner said, "The YA section in the bookstore is pretty pink." Yeah... and if you look at a lot of the book covers, you get the impression that YA equals soft core porn, too.

But that's all coming up in another blog. I promise.

Yesterday morning, I was fortunate enough to participate alongside a number of very gifted and noteworthy authors at the ALA YA Authors' Coffee Klatch -- an event where hundreds of librarians get to meet and chat with some pretty successful and popular writers.

Okay. Well, I'll talk about that later, too, because the really remarkable events of the day actually occurred just before the YAACK (a rather fitting acronym). I was ushered into the "Green Room" just before the event, and me, being the antisocial, internally agonizing person that I am, sat back quietly in a corner and just watched all the other authors bumping around and having a good time.

Since I give off the strong "serial killer" vibe, nobody sat near me, and the place was getting pretty crowded. So, along comes Sarah Dessen and E. Lockhart and they sit to my right. Let me just interject here that they are very nice, pleasant ladies. Julie Halpern, my friend, comes in and sits on my left.

Julie's got a new baby, and eight-month old little girl who is ridiculously cute and just a bit larger than a plump potato bug; and I start talking to Julie about kids, and how I miss mine, how fast they grow up, etc. You know, kind of giving fatherly advice to Julie because she's so damn young and adorable herself, and my kids are 12 and 15.

Well, anyway, Sarah leans in and says something like I'm sorry for eavesdropping, but I miss my baby, too (she has a fresh one as well, a 22-month-old little girl).

So there we were, in a corner of the Green Room, with me blocked on the left by Julie Halpern; and trapped on the right by Sarah Dessen -- talking about babies. No. Let me be more specific: we were talking about breast feeding, the inconvenience of pumping breast milk when working or touring, and the advantages of particular brands of breast pumps.

What could I do? The conversation lasted for a good fifteen minutes. Finally I held out my red place card that directed me where to go when the authors made their entrance, and I told them both, "Here. This is my man card. You may rip it up now."

But honestly, Julie and Sarah are both so witty and -- just nice -- being in the Green Room with them was just the beginning of a really fun, great day.

And I'll tell about the rest of it later on.