What a whirlwind of a week. (Well, month, actually.)
The countdown to book launch included a trip to Orlando to attend the American Library Association’s national conference, a last minute invitation to my home town for an event at the Queens Museum, a three-author book birthday celebration at the venerated Harvard Coop in Cambridge, MA, and a launch celebration to end all launch celebrations at Barrington Books.
I’m exhausted. And exhilarated. And grateful. (More on all of the above events soon.)
But first, Forest Hills. . .
I grew up there, but don’t get the opportunity to return often, because most of my friends and family live in Manhattan now, or Brooklyn, or places far from New York. So when my editor asked if I’d be interested in joining the Queens Museum Children’s Book Celebration, I said yes without blinking—for many reasons—including wanting to visit my old neighborhood. To be honest, I don’t call it “going home” anymore. Home is where I live now; where I’m raising my children.
Yet standing on the sidewalk outside the apartment where I lived for seventeen years, I found that like an old friend, Queens and I have an undeniable connection. Nabokov said, “One is always at home in one’s past…” It felt like I’d walked though time. Not because everything looked the same. In fact, much was different. But stretched over the bricks and up the fire escape into the window of my childhood bedroom—was my past, echoing in the sounds of traffic on Yellowstone Boulevard, and reverberating off the back wall of the little league field, where my dad once coached football.
I delighted in what remains unchanged (Eddie’s Sweet Shop) and what has been transformed (Austin Street!). I reconnected with a few old friends who are still living in the area. And I felt the presence of those gone to me now, despite having left Forest Hills themselves, years ago. As I headed back over the Whitestone Bridge, I made a promise to return more often. I hope I keep it.
Next, Simon Le Bon. . .
The night after the BBooks fete, I could have put on my jammies, grabbed a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough and caught up on Game of Thrones. And that’s exactly what I would have been doing, had it not been for the fact that my dear friend Jill got us all Duran Duran tickets months ago. Tired as I was, there was no way I was going miss the chance to see one of my favorite childhood bands play live.
When we arrived at the venue, Jill mentioned she thought our seats would be good, but we had no idea how good until an usher escorted us to the third row. THIRD. ROW. Having visited Forest Hills the week before, my nostalgia needle was nearing full tilt; but seeing Simon Le Bon sing Say A Prayer three feet from where I stood, pushed it the rest of the way over. Coincidentally (or cosmically?) I ran into an old elementary school friend (who had come to the Queens Museum event) at the concert venue.
And can we just talk about Simon Le Bon for a second? He’s still got it. My friend Michelle and I used to argue over who was hotter, Simon Le Bon or Nick Rhodes. I always chose Nick, because well, everyone loved Simon, and I liked to be contrary. (Nick wasn’t at this show so the score will have to remain unsettled.) I thought seeing Duran Duran would make me feel a little… old. But it didn’t. It reminded me that age is irrelevant. Talent and passion are what make a person “hot.”
Simon Le Bon’s past is the reason he’s a megastar. And in the present, he’s still rocking it and reinventing himself.
These past few weeks, the universe has shown me in countless ways that while my past doesn’t define me, it’s part of me. Some of it’s painful; much of it’s beautiful. For the present, I’ll keep rocking it—and reinventing myself. Not a bad mantra for a writer.
And finally, a giveaway winner…
On Monster Trucks book launch day, I said I’d mail a book to one reader who commented on my behind-the-book post. I numbered each comment and used a random number generator to pick the winner. And the winner is. . .
Sandy, please email me your mailing info and I’ll send your book out. Congrats!