***warning*** this got out of control. We'd call it a "longish" post...
I thought I'd seen it all in Northampton what with the Dalai Lama sighting. Silly me. The Jacob Javits Center in New York is where it's at. Where else can you find LL Cool J, Dr. Ruth, Sandra Boynton and god all under one roof?
So, what's BEA like? Schwag. Endless schwag. Free books every five feet. Or less. Who's there? A whole lot of people. Like a wicked whole major lot of people.
Probably more people than I have ever encountered in one place before in my life, and I think that'll include Disney World (in December, anyway). Most importantly, I saw people with names like Stephanie, Laurie(by the way I LOVE this book!!), Ann and Kay, Debbie Stoller. Yeah, there were "celebrities" too, but who cares when you're in the presence of knitting greatness?? I got free books, some signed. Mr. Wonderful even got some. I found a book on cycling mishaps, kayaking adventures, and a bunch of travel books on NY (hint, hint...a nice long weekend in Manhattan would be fun, darling...).
My handler Amy Greeman deserves a medal for putting up with me. Lookit her, calmly reading her Times at Starbucks while I obsess over my laptop. I have some...peculiarities of character, which can make me an interesting bunkmate. First, I am obsessed with my email. And the lack of (scary, as in "we will be spamming you for life if you connect through us") Internet access in the Gershwin was equivalent to physical starvation. I spent a lot of time chasing free Internet or buying not-cheap Internet. Anything to connect. I have the same affection for my cell phone, so when I discovered that I'd brought Mr. Wonderful's charger by mistake there was a small crisis. Then nearly more of one when it was discovered that a cell charger in Manhattan is not $14.99 like at Wal-Mart.
I saw the book cover, which nearly put me on the floor (note: this photo was taken on Saturday, long after I had adjusted to the cover's presence in the booth). I sneaked onto the BEA floor Thursday during set up to get a preview so I would not bawl in public, smack in front of the Storey booth, when I saw it for the first time. Good call, I think. Mr. Wonderful was supporting me long distance via cell phone as I trawled the floor in desperate concern that I find the booth and that the cover be up. There was this very awesome surreal, slow-mo moment there as I stopped, turned, looking and not finding, and all of a sudden whispered "Oh my God" while crying. There it was, larger than life, right in front of me. It's the first tangible evidence that I really actually wrote a book and someone really actually is publishing it. I should show you the marketing piece. It's something else entirely! Blogless (let's work on that, shall we?) Katy arrived and after a few tries, we did meet up Saturday. It was very good to see a second well-known face. Friends, when you're in the middle of your first trade show wearing an author badge for the first time, feeling a little overwhelmed and slightly confused are a huge gift.
Everyone MUST buy at least one copy of Crazy Aunt Purl. I love it. Love it, love it, love it. And in person she's a warm, wonderful Southern girl. Could just eat her up. She reminds me a little of someone else, another bubbly and happy person that I know and love, not the kind that make you want to scream but the kind that make you want to just hug them.
New York cabbies are something else. Now, this is my first big city cab experience. Whenever we go to Washington we use the metro or our feet, so the whole cab thing was new to me. I managed to learn how to say "27th between 5th and Madison, please" just in case I got separated from Amy and needed to get back to the Hotel Gershwin. Oh, the Hotel Gershwin. I actually think I'll go back. Totally odd, funky pop-art place, complete with original, signed chicken soup can in the lobby, preserved in a plastic box. I walked down the Creepy Stairs (didn't know that, didja Amy? I had to, man) one morning while Amy was showering, and discovered that every floor is painted in a different colorway. It's clean, reasonably comfortable for Manhattan, and cheap - that's a big plus. There's no Internet unless you 1.) pay for it and 2.) allow them to spam the ever-loving heck out of you. At Hampton Inn, wireless if free. I missed the Hampton Inn. But the Hampton Inn is $300 a night. I opted for the Starbucks around the corner for Internet, $10 a day on T-mobile. Also there's this most wondrous place called Cafe 28 around the corner that has everything from soup and sushi to fresh fruit and soda, wine, eggs, coffee, you name it. A veritable treasure trove of a place. If you were out to save a buck or more you could eat entirely at this place 3 meals a day and not run out of options. They even have a hot bar in the back, by the soda cooler. And organic chocolate at the front, by the power bars.
One morning I decided I was a great grown girl, and I walked, all on my own, from the hotel up Madison to 39th and back again, in search of quickie business cards. I have no cards, and this is an issue apparently (Nobody told me. Who knew? Now I know, cards shall be forthcoming!). It was early, and not a lot of people were out and I loved it. All the stuff I've heard all my life about New Yorkers was all wrong, or at least significantly mistaken in most things. The cabbies are polite, and they drive maniacally well, if fast and a little frenetically. But they do the job and they do it well. Some are downright chivalrous, tsking when we're grabbing luggage out of the trunk and taking it from me, and this is after we've paid them, so it's not like they're tip seeking. The "regular" people, like the guy cleaning the street at 7am, seem for the most part warm and welcoming. He stopped spraying the sidewalk for me, and gave me a big smile and a "You're welcome, have a great day!" to my little New England "Thank you". The speed people move at is a little intimidating for a country girl, but if you just move at your own pace, and let them all fly by you, you'll see a lot and feel a lot that they're missing.
Shopping - I have never seen so much extraordinary stuff in my life, some of it causing me moral qualms and reinforcing my opinion of excessive, scary consumerism and American culture. I saw a $7.5 million necklace at Cartier, and diamonds as big as grapes (like green Thompson, not little champagne grapes...) at Tiffany's. Tiffany's diamonds do shine brighter and sparkle more, so you know. There IS a difference. I tried on a pair of $1200 Versace stilettos. Despite the attentive and supportive salesman, I managed to pass them by. He worked for it, too. It's the first time I have allowed a shoe like that on my foot in about 15 years. They were very pretty and sparkly. And entirely too high for me, as in "plummet to your death if you misstep" high. $1200 for a shoe. For $1200 I could feed a small country through Heifer International. Yes, I went to the American Girl store. It was a trade-off. It was that or Disney, and Amy drew the line. Her choice, remember! This too was distressing. I remember Pleasant Company, pre-Mattel, who repaired Samantha for free when Kioshi chewed her arm to pieces, and returned her in a johnny with a hospital wristband. I remember the comfortable history education disguised as play, and the high quality. I own the AG dress patterns, which are excellent. I remember when Bitty Baby had a hand-crocheted layette. Somewhere around here are Samantha, Kirsten, Josefina and Addy. And maybe Molly. And their books, too. And Bitty Baby, of course. This new version of AG is not what I'd like to remember. OK, the doll holder in the bathroom? That's cute.
Last but not least, I confess. I saw the peep show at the Museum of Sex. We had to walk by it over and over, day after day. What's a girl to do but peep? That was one hot chick let me tell you. Un-Bee-Lee-Vable had I not seen it with my own eyes. Totally worth the look! It's something else. Not sure I'd put myself all out there quite like that, but hey, what do I know!? Here’s the attention getting peep-show window, and you can (and you should!!) click here for the actual show – remember, this is a G-rated blog! I did see people entering this establishment to see the current exhibition, entitled Kink. I love sex, I'm actually a big fan. You could ask Mr. Wonderful about this, but if he answered with anything but a blush he'd be killed. God made sex, even wrote a whole book about it, sex is good. I am, in fact, the person my oldest and dearest friends come to when they have clinical sex questions. But my "old-school" notions of sexuality very deeply involve concepts of privacy and intimacy, so the idea of walking through a museum of with displays requiring warnings not to touch, lick or mount with a bunch of strangers is not my kind of thing. A peep show I can cop to. But pay $14.50 to wander through a public exhibit? Not so much my kind of thing.
So that's it in a nutshell, leaving out tons of things, like Hamachi sushi in Grammercy Park, Waitress at Lowe's, the Thursday marketing conference that made my brain hurt, the overwhelming feeling of BEA and yesterday's post combined that forced me to stop, sit and knit multiple times right where I was, the invitation to TNNA from Unicorn Books to sign in January, the incredible beauty of Grand Central, the sadness at the $18 "ride to the top of the Empire State Building" that I just could not make myself pay for, then surreal feeling of the Wedneday I had followed by the weekend I had, followed by the Monday and Tuesday I am currently having, the peace that falls over you when you see a friendly face over lunch (a $7.95 salad the size of my fist) and can talk without reservation about the insanity around you, the feeling of needing a handler, the lack of knitting time, and the pressure of needing to wear things that 1.) are not denim, 2.) are ironed and 3.) match.