Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New York: The City

Since Blogger hates me (CURSE YOU, BLOGGLODITES!), instead of a well-ordered post, I'm just going to share some observations with you. And some stories. And some other third thing, since lists are better when they come in threes.

The People
One thing I've frequently heard is that New Yorkers are rude. I found this to be categorically untrue. People were helpful, polite, and downright friendly. This may have had something to do with the fact that we were carting around one of the cutest babies in existence. Everyone--and I do mean everyone, from people on the subway to random old men on the street--stopped to give him a smile and comment on what a cute baby he is. Maybe New Yorkers just aren't as baby fatigued, but my sister said no one acts like that in Utah.

Some New Yorkers are so nice they dress up just to make me happy:

The best part? He was like 50! So cool.

On our way to the airport we had some subway issues; someone at one of the stops saw our luggage and told us we were on the wrong train and to get off quick. He was right, and there was no other reason for him to tell us than the fact that he was just a nice person. New Yorkers, you rock. Check this out:

Even the signs are polite!

The Food
One thing everyone was very concerned with was that I take advantage of the great food New York has to offer. We had people sending us pages of places to try. And they weren't wrong--from the lunch with Editor Erica and dinner with Agent Michelle, to the breakfast I had with a certain lunar rat (who, by the way, is rather less furry in real life than her icon would lead you to believe, and who can also tell you the types of food on any block in the entire city)--everything was yummy.

And talk about variety! Anything you could possibly want was there. Behold:

It was like a taste of heaven.

The Celebrities
As Saturday was winding down we all kind of wondered why the closest we had come to seeing a celebrity was hearing a nanny talking about running into A-Rod again in the hallway. It's New York, after all. Celebrities should be easier to spot than rats on the subway rails, right? So when we were walking in the rain past Trump "Way too fancy for peasants like us to even look in the windows" Tower, I noticed a rag-tag group gathered around someone by the stairs. Since the group's clothes weren't made of spun gold, I didn't think they were checking in. Which could only mean one thing: FAMOUS PERSON. Sure enough, they were all asking for signatures from and pictures with this guy:

I know! Amazing, huh?

Wait, you mean you can't tell who that is? Really? It's not like it was raining, I was embarrassed to be taking pictures of the poor guy, and I accidentally had my camera on the landscape setting or anything.

How about now, can you guess this time?

Seriously, it's so obvious! How can you not tell?

Okay, okay, fine. How about I just tell you in the form of our conversation.

"Hey, look, it's The Rock!" I said.
He looked up, chiseled features shifting from a blindingly white smile to a scowl. "What did you just call me?"
"Umm, The Rock?"
He sighed. "Look, girl, I'm not a wrestler anymore. I'm an actor. A thespian. And I'd appreciate it if you'd show a little respect by addressing me properly."
I shrugged, uncomfortable. "I'm sorry. What should I call you?"
"Mister The Rock."
So Mister The Rock and I went to dinner. He's a super nice guy in real life. Also, a soprano--turns out all of his movies are dubbed.

In further celebrity news, if you ever go to The Museum of Natural History, I will tell you right now: Ben Stiller is NOT a security guard there. You can't believe everything you see in the movies.

"Don't I know it!"

The Park
Walking around the city was fun, especially when we got to see random, iconic stores or buildings. But skyscrapers get a little old. And sadly a lot of things in New York look really cool from far away:
But when you get closer, they're just kind of...dirty.

Oh, the humiliation.

My favorite part by far was Central Park. We timed our visit just right--most of the trees were still green, but the leaves were starting to change. It was gorgeous. We didn't even mind the drizzle.

But I should warn you, there are some very scary parts to Central Park. First of all, watch out for the squirrels. We were walking down a path, minding our own business, when we heard a cracking sound in the tree above us. My sister had the presence of mind to stop pushing the stroller, and just in time as SPLAT! a squirrel fell straight out of the tree and landed on the sidewalk in front of us. How often do squirrels fall? I have several theories. One: It was actually a hit job gone wrong, and we only narrowly escaped death by bushy-tailed rodent. Two: Even the squirrel appreciated how cute my nephew is and wanted to hang out with him, but sadly missed the stroller. And Three: The dang thing was drunk.

The other scary part of Central Park? This:

Mother Goose? TERRIFYING.

But really, even though we walked across what felt like half the city, it was worth it.

Fall: Not something San Diego knows how to do

Central Park, or the entrance to Rivendell?

To sum up: New York is awesome. And I'll leave you with a final photo as proof.

Until next time, Kind New Yorkers and Lunatic Squirrels

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Post Nearly as Long as the Tunnels in New York

(In fact, I've heard that if you were to take this post and lay it out letter by letter, it would stretch all the way from Long Island to Orlando. Incredible!)

So this one time, last weekend, I went to New York. And it. was. amazing. So amazing, in fact, that it can only be told in pictures. For the sake of my oft-failing memory, I'll take you chronologically along with me. It'll be like you were with me the entire time. Only you won't need an umbrella. Also, you won't have to wait in any lines. Or spend any money. Or smell the subway elevators. Pretty much your part of the trip rocks!

In order to get to New York I had to fly across the entire country. And in order to accomplish this, I had to stop in Memphis. Which is very green, very flat, and shockingly sexist. Evidence:

Sorry men--in the event of a tornado, you are out of luck.

Also, I may or may not have gotten strange looks taking pictures of the sign outside of the bathroom. The things I do for you. After a brief but entertaining stop, it was straight on to the Big Apple. I don't recommend flying in at night, since you can't see a darn thing. But I do recommend taking your first taxi ride, complete with driver muttering to himself in another language the entire time. What did he just say? Am I supposed to respond? Is he talking to me? Is he talking about me? Am I going to make it out of this alive?

Good times.

I got to the hotel just in time to go to bed and dream sweet HarperCollins dreams. (Another word of advice: don't invite my mom and little sister along if you ever go to New York. They hid in the hall waiting for me to get there and then jumped out behind me screaming, "WE'RE GOING TO MUG YOU!" That myth about New Yorkers being rude? Completely untrue. That rumor about my mom and sister being horrid, horrid creatures? Absolute fact.) The next morning I took my very first subway ride, which I neglected to take pictures of, mostly because I was completely paranoid about ALWAYS BEING ALERT AND AWARE so as to avoid having everything I owned stolen. Or something like that. I took those posted subway warnings very seriously. (However, I ignored the warnings not to look on the rails and did, in fact, see a rat wandering around. I was strangely delighted by this. Emphasis on strangely.)

Subway successfully conquered, I walked out onto the street to realize that, without mountains or the ocean, I am directionally clueless. North? East? West? South? THERE IS NO HORIZON. Fortunately I had Editor Erica on speed dial and it was a few short minutes until I was standing in front of this:

Yes, yes it was beautiful.

I was tempted to take a picture in front of it, but, well, I just couldn't bring myself to. I already stuck out like a sore thumb, my cheerful pink sweater adrift in a sea of black. New Yorkers are very stylish, but really--COLOR. Come on, guys, it's fun! Trust me! Almost as fun as giggling while you take pictures of the HarperCollins Column. And almost as fun as getting to meet your incredible, delightful, adorable, beloved editor for the very first time. And almost as fun as crossing paths with the President and Publisher of Harper Children's AND the CEO of HarperCollins as soon as you walk through the door with said editor.

What can I say, Erica and I have good timing.

So, sufficiently starstruck (look at it this way: in an [admittedly imperfect] analogy where authors are the movie stars of the publishing world, people like Susan Katz and Brian Murray are the brilliant directors authors drool over the chance to work for), Erica and I continued on our day, which included:
  • Filming an interview to be edited (yay film editors! I love you!) and posted on several websites sometime in the future, helped along by the fabulous Erin and her purple shoes of cheery brightness. She didn't even get mad at me for being a habitual fast-talker. Best part of the video? The fact that my feet hung a full six inches above the ground from the chair I was sitting in. Hopefully they didn't do any full body shots.
  • Meeting my seriously-so-awesome-I-can't-even-believe-it agent, Michelle Wolfson, who also happens to be a) very pretty and b) very short, for a yummy lunch where we bonded over stories of sleep lost to children and may have accidentally convinced Erica to never, ever have kids. Sorry, no-longer-future-grandparents of Erica's no-longer-future-babies. My bad.
  • Attending a Meet and Greet with fifteen women so impossibly intelligent and friendly I can't believe I get to work with them, from subrights (YAY POLAND!), marketing (such innovative and exciting ideas), and publicity (awesome author publicity being one of the reasons I always wanted to go with HarperTeen), to sales, editors, and publishers (Susan Katz gave me her card and I am looking into having it framed). Seriously, they are all rock stars, and I feel ridiculously lucky that I get to work with them. We talked about a lot of things, from questions regarding my writing to my thoughts on blogging. (I mean, I'm such a spotty blogger, clearly I don't really care that much...oh, wait. Look at my hundreds and hundreds of archived posts! Except don't, unless you have a dozen free years.) What impressed me is how good they all are at their jobs, how passionate and dedicated they are to children's literature, and what a positive, exciting working environment Harper has. (Sorry if I melted your screen with the sheer power of my love for Harper. It knows no bounds.)
And I apologize, but I didn't ask for a group picture. Once again, that whole trying-not-to-look-TOO-dorky thing going on. Plus, just because they like my blogging doesn't mean they want to be featured. Next time, maybe? But Erica, Michelle, and I did pose. Erica was highly pleased to be the tall one for once.

See? I told you Michelle was short! Also, aren't they CUTE?

After a wonderful day at Harper (including seeing a VERY SECRET cover [sadly not mine] that is awesome, and that I may or may not have slightly jumped up and down over seeing because really, how cool is getting sneak peeks?), Michelle and I bid Erica and her cubicle-of-cute-puppy-pictures a very fond farewell and walked a couple of blocks to meet my film agent, Jon of CAA.

We had a great chat with him (not hard, considering he's smart and charming). In fact, the three of us together created such a dangerous maelstrom of awesome (or is it Maelstrom of Awesome? I can never figure out the capitalization rules for hyperbolic statements) that the FDNY showed up, just in case the place spontaneously combusted:

Thanks, guys. Next time we get together we'll give you more warning. Also, your outfits are very shiny.

After a great chat during which he marveled at my youth (twenty-six is the new twelve!) and asked where I got my ideas (sheer and utter boredom), we all went to the subway. Hopefully Michelle and I didn't give Jon a complex, considering he had about fifteen inches on either one of us. Thus, no picture, because I don't think there's a frame wide enough to cover the distance between our heads. Still, he's wonderful and I'm lucky to work with him and my other film agent. Yay agents!

After a quick trip back to the hotel to pick up my mom, sister, and adorable nephew (who, it should be mentioned, recently won the So Good It's Ridiculous award in the six-month-old category), we met back up with Michelle, where she was her delightful self and forced delicious food on us until we were fit to burst. I was tempted to ask if I could bring her back with me--after all, we could probably share a seat on the plane and no one would be the wiser. Sadly, I decided her adorable kids would miss her too much. Kids, honestly. What's with this whole needing-their-parents thing? So, one last shot with Michelle, an agent made entirely of awesome:

Aaw, so cute again!

Finally, I went back to the hotel, exhausted but thrilled with all of these amazing people that have become part of my professional life. I still can't believe my luck and the series of events that led me here.

And you probably can't believe you've been reading this long and it's only day two. So, in the interest of preserving your precious eyesight, I'll split up the strain and post about my futher New York adventures tomorrow, including but not limited to Attack Squirrels, Famous People, and Polite Signage.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In Which I Attend my Very First Concert

(...and proceed to totally fangirl out on you. My apologies.)

Some of you may be aware that I like Snow Patrol. A lot. Not only do I think their music is great, but I think that Gary Lightbody is a brilliant lyricist.

Hallo, Gary, thanks for the brilliant lyrics. I like your shirt.

Also, he's Irish; what's not to like? So you can imagine my excitement at not only going to my very first concert, but seeing my very favorite band for said very first concert. Plain White Ts opened for them, and they were good (although, honestly, "Hey there, Delilah, if I hear this song one more time, I will have to bang my head into the dashboard and I'll bleed, you know it's true. So overplayed are you, are you..."), but I thought, hrm, maybe concerts aren't so awesome after all.

But then these guys came on:

Oh, hey guys. Nice job! Seriously. Especially you on the piano, and the drummers.

And it was. so. awesome. I'm pretty sure I had a ridiculous, idiotic grin on my face the entire time. Now I get the appeal of live shows. Plus, the lead singer was hilarious. He probably could have said anything in his accent and we (the audience, which was awesomely diverse, including a seventy-something-year-old couple near us--Old Couple, you are Impossibly Cool and made my night) would have loved it, but he was seriously funny.

(Example: someone threw something on stage and he picked it up. "It's...an inhaler. So this means that whoever threw this, when I chase you down, you aren't going to be able to outrun me." Further example: "San Diego is a very sexy city. You're all beautiful. I think it's because you play outside, and you swim in the ocean, and you live in the sun. In Ireland it [freaking] rains all the time. So we have to start bands." YAY IRELAND FOR RAINING ALL THE TIME. I owe you one, you beautiful country you.)

He was very charismatic onstage. The whole band looked like they really enjoyed what they were doing, which, when you think about how many times they've played those songs, says something.

Hey look! There's me! And my cute sister. And Wonderful Lauren, who made the whole thing possible. Yay Lauren for buying too many tickets!

The company was great. Lauren and I had a great talk that proved we think Way Too Much about Snow Patrol, and we got to analyze lyrics and CD themes together and talk about how brilliant they are. While everyone around us just went ahead and had another beer.

So, all in all, a rousing success.

No, Snow Patrol, San Diego (hearts) YOU!

And, just for kicks, here's a little clip. So. Good. Fortunately you can't hear me singing along. Now I'm going to go plot how I can be famous so that someday I'll get to meet them and gush about their music and they will be like, "Who is this tiny girl and why does she talk so fast and please can we leave now?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Arguments! Excitement!

So, Hot Stuff and I got in an argument the other day. For anyone that actually knows us, that's probably shocking information. We've been together eight years now without a fight to our name. (I might come across as a little, I don't know, high strung? but in real life I'm pretty chill. Trust me. No, seriously, I'm chill! Fine, don't believe me then. Shut up.)

We were driving to church and talking about the Snow Patrol concert I'm going to tomorrow (SNOW PATROL! TOMORROW! EEEEEEEEEEE! Ahem, sorry).

Hot Stuff: Someone at my work said that she used to like Snow Patrol, but they sold out.

Kiersten: What?? What on earth is she talking about? What, they weren't allowed to get popular? I'd say if anything their last CD was less mainstream than the previous one. A lot of their songs were really different sounding. Besides, which is worse, a band making the same songs over and over again, or growing and changing? What's the point in buying their music if it never changes?!

Hot Stuff: Umm, you realize I have no idea what you are talking about.

At which point I laughed, because I was totally arguing with his absent coworker through him. And he doesn't listen to music much at all. NPR guy, through and through.

Anyhow. Anonymous co-worker of my husband: YOU ARE WRONG. It's the same as people who don't like new books by their favorite authors because it isn't the same as the previous one.

It shouldn't be the same!!

GAH!

(Remember what I was saying about being chill in real life?)

Anyway. I'm going to leave you with a couple of presents. After all, my life right now? Pretty stinking cool. I'm going to my very first concert tomorrow, and then next week at this time I'll be hanging out at Harper. Oh. So. Cool. My apologies to whomever's life it is I've taken over, but I'm not giving it back.

Present One: SPARKLES



Present Two



Present Three



There. You're welcome. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grr...Argh...

Some days I feel like Joss Whedon's Mutant Enemy puppet. Except that would be nicer, because then someone would be walking me around, instead of me having to expend the energy to do it myself.

Last night, instead of finishing the Sequel chapter I was working on, I got to sit in Nayna's room and wait for her to stop crying. She had been watching one of those pretend nature programs set in prehistoric times. Normally those don't bother her, but for whatever reason the carnivorous bird chick hatching and then being attacked by giant ants touched a nerve and the poor little thing just bawled.

Hot Stuff and I felt awful for letting her watch it. We should have known better--she's only five! I used to cry over nature shows when the cute animals would get eaten, too. Granted, the little bird puppet wasn't exactly cute, but she liked it well enough. Fortunately, after about forty-five minutes she stopped crying and informed me that the mother bird had left someone to watch the baby bird, and they scared away all the ants.

(See? Storytelling = quick emotional bandaids!)

Of course, Hot Stuff and I felt a little less guilty for damaging her delicate sensibilities when I showed him her drawing from earlier that day:

Hunters Versus the Mammoth

Look at that technical skill! I love how the trunk is coming up over the mammoth's back to show action as he throws the screaming, terrified person up in the air. You'll notice the abandoned spears on the ground, and the look of abject fear on the second person's face. I didn't ask her what the red streak on his shirt was.

She did inform me yesterday that she only likes extinct animals. Apparently her pity only applies to them, as well. People are fair game.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unreal

I've been thinking lately about how we create our own realities. I don't live in the same world you do. And I don't mean in a bizarre metaphysical sense, like I've somehow achieved a higher state of consciousness. Although sometimes after a sleepless night and a couple of Dr Peppers I think I come pretty darn close.

Well, to a higher state of consciousness or to being certifiable. Either/or.

What I mean is this. You could live in my apartment complex. You could have a five year old daughter and a three year old son. We could come from the same race, religion, socioeconomic background, have the same level of education, so on and so forth. And still we would live in different worlds.

Politics is an easy example. There is one politician on the national scene that quite honestly makes me sick to my stomach. How anyone alive could think that [redacted] is an intelligent, sane person and should ever be given any level of power over more than, say, a family of hamsters (and even then, I quite like hamsters and would worry about them), is beyond me. And yet there are people--many people--who think that [redacted] is the [insert political mumbo jumbo along the lines of "the future of the party" here]. It boggles my mind. Just as, no doubt, my intense aversion to [redacted (but redacted would be a pretty cool name, right? Especially if you spelled it with brackets)] puzzles these people to no end.

We live in the same country, have access to the same news articles and information, and come to completely opposite conclusions.

Same world, different realities.

This is also why, when new moms get told how easy they have it with their newborn, I like to let them know that there's no such thing as an easy baby. Just because someone else had it harder, doesn't mean you can't struggle. I mean, my babies were DEFINITELY harder than yours and I'll tell you stories that will make your blood run cold, but the point is, that doesn't make your experience any easier.

What's funny is this applies to fabricated realities, as well. I carefully crafted every aspect of Paranormalcy, created the entire world. And yet readers come away with completely different views. One character in particular, Reth (whom I think is absolutely delicious), inspires reactions that range from "Can I have his number?" to "I feel sick every time he shows up." Same book, same words, opposite reactions.

And in case you were waiting for a point to this post, there isn't one. I just find the human experience in all its variations fascinating. The more I realize that my world isn't the world, the more willing I am to accept people, even when they are idiots and like [redacted].

(But seriously, people, [redacted]? Really? I still don't get it.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see about having my name changed to [redacted].

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Hot Stuff Rocks #482

The other night Hot Stuff and I were watching Phoebe in Wonderland. It was an interesting movie, made more so by their very honest portrayal of the emotional balancing act motherhood is. At one point Felicity Huffman, the mom, was crying, saying, "I don't want to get to the end of my life and have nothing to show for it, nothing important."

Hot Stuff shook his head. "See, people don't get it. It's not about being important!" He paused slightly, and I smiled at my husband's wisdom, assuming he was going to say something along the lines of it's about living a good life regardless of how many people care. However, he continued: "It's about destruction and conquest! Just look at history! Those are the only people who matter."

Yes, folks, he's fun to watch movies with.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some destruction and conquest to plan.