Thursday, May 9, 2013
Armchair BEA nomination, which had me laughing over the preposterous oddness of it, and so grateful for the support of friends. And then a run to the train station beneath rain clouds, a serendipitous conversation with the poet Catherine Staples (now releasing her first book), a rainbow over the city, and a dash to the University of Pennsylvania campus, to return a nearly overdue book. The campus was as quiet as I had ever seen it. The only noise the noise of reunion tents being hammered into place.
From the campus I flew beneath blue-ing skies down Walnut Street to Tavern on the Green, the bar where my son placed his bets on the college basketball tournament several weeks ago. That son, whose actual job involves making very smart decisions about things that can't be entirely predicted, happened to win. Guessed every outcome correctly, earning the prize of $250, three crisp bills that had to be collected in person. Since this boy is now a New Yorker, the collection privilege was all mine. I slipped down the Tavern stairs (breathless and damp). Announced my intention. "I am J's mother," I said—the most important thing I'll ever be, no matter how old he insists on becoming. I was rewarded with an envelope that I will hand deliver this weekend when I see my handsome, so happy son.
But I digress. For now I was running again, back up Walnut, and north, to a restaurant my friend Jan Shaeffer had recommended, a place called A Kitchen. Jan, I'd said, a really important and wonderful person is coming to town and it's so necessary that we meet at the right place.
(Jan, who leads St. Christopher's Foundation for Children, knows EVERYthing, and I often ask her to tell me more.)
Jan, you were right. The meal was innovative; it was perfection. And the company—well, how do I even talk about Patricia McCormick, who is gorgeous inside and out. Greatness is only partially what someone can do, what someone has produced, and anyone who has read this blog, or listened to me talk, or read my Publishing Perspectives interview with Patty, or read my New York Times review of Joyce Carol Oates' new book (where of course I talked about Patty), knows that I think Patty's work spells greatness, that I think her work endures. But even if Patty had never written or published a word, her greatness would be transparent. She is breadth and depth. She asks, and she listens. She stands beneath the dark skies, shining. She leaves you slightly off balance.
To the skies that drizzled, then cleared. To rainbows. And to my brother, with whom I spoke by phone while watching the trains glide by ahead of midnight.
This afternoon I'll be honoring another friend, the very important Mike Yasick, whose red pants and enormity of soul I remembered here. We lost Mike far too soon in March, and this evening he is being honored by his former employer (and my client) Shire at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia's Winemaker's Dinner. The Mike Yasick Literacy Center at the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys and Girls Club is being inaugurated this evening. I am bringing every YA book I've ever written, and signing them to Mike.