Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ain't Nothin Gonna Break My Stride

I had the strangest dream.

My alarm went off at 6:45am, as usual. I opened my eyes and reached for the alarm clock on the nightstand next to my bed.

Oddly, it was my magic phone going off, on the coffee table by the couch, not my couch but my brother, Mike's couch the one in his New York apartment on the Upper West Side.

I turned the phone alarm off so as not to wake Mike and my sister-in-law, Bricken.

I quickly and quietly got dressed and headed to midtown.

I was in a big rush. I had an inexplicable fear that wherever I was going might run out of bagels before I got there.

Next thing I know I am in a place that looks like the briefing room on the Starship Enterprise.

There are tables and chairs set up before a podium and presentation screen.

The troops file in mostly dressed in black and wearing especially hip eye glasses. The woman next to me introduces herself. She says she is from New Haven but she has a distinct Argentinian accent.

Here come the speakers. Instead of Captain Kirk it is famous, children's book illustrators one after another giving us our instructions in the form of Keynote presentations.

Here are some of the instructions:

Win a Caldecott

Change your name to Mo

Be awesome

Don't be boring

Say, "Yes"

Fist bumps instead of handshakes

There was talk of British Pop stars, red pandas, roller derby, clones.

Everything seemed to have some relation and significance. I was taking notes as fast as I could but when I looked at the paper there were only drawings of pie and the back of the head of the guy in front of me.

In that dreamlike way, it was suddenly nighttime and I was with my brother and sister-in-law on the balcony inside a crowded Manhattan night club. I looked at my phone which was telling me that it was almost 9:00 pm and that I was needed back at the ship.

On my way out of the club I saw Paul Zelinsky and we had a brief awkward conversation. It was like running into someone that you think you went to high school with but you aren't sure if it was summer camp or maybe they work at your bank.

Back on the Starship with my Mike and Bricken in tow, we passed by two giant, white sculptures of heads on our way to a room larger than the one from earlier. It was full of rows and rows of tables which were covered with hundreds of artist portfolios, neatly arranged with stacks of postcards next to each one. The letters, scbwi were glowing on the far wall.

Before we had time to be overwhelmed we were  told to take a portfolio and report back tomorrow.

Now, like the movie, "Groundhog's Day" it is 6:45am and the magic phone is ringing again and I am still in New York on Mike's couch.

Due to the bagel imperative, I get ready quickly. I zip up my cute but slightly painful high-heeled boots and walk four blocks to the subway.

Down the stairs on to the "1" train, up and down several M. C. Escher flights of stairs to the "S" train, yes the "S" train.
This is how I know it is a dream.

I see my husband's sister, Patty working at a bakery in Grand Central. I ask her to pinch me, she hands me a croissant and says, "It's good to see you.".

Things got pretty weird from there.

I've got my bagel and I am in yet another even larger room with the same Starship decor. Instead of hundreds of troops now we have got a couple thousand with a wider variety of eye wear.

The first speaker is Chris Crutcher who launches into one of the saddest stories I've ever heard. Before I can wipe away my tears he is telling one of the funniest stories I've ever heard.

Here come the big guns up to the panel. These are the people who invented the middle grade series and the book fair and published Harry Potter. We are all listening very carefully to what they have to say.

We are all about to go off on our individual missions when, surprise, Henry Winkler is here with a brief motivational speech. The crowd goes wild.

Up and down more stairs to a crowded room where Dr. Seuss' art director is giving us trade secrets and her email. This can't be happening?!

Granola bar for lunch and I am back in the big room. A young adult author (who looks like a young adult herself)  is talking about love triangles which are actually love Vs. They can be between two boys and a girl; two immortals and a non-immortal; three boys; a vampire, a werewolf and a human.

This is when I fell into a dream within a dream.

More secrets from from an art director at Harper Collins.

A session on multiculturalism in a room full of people of color. I was representing light pink.

The magic phone is alerting me that I am late for the cocktail party downstairs in the room with the heads. The word, "cocktail" gets my attention and I head into the party making a beeline for the bar. The bartender hands me the much anticipated glass which is filled with, mashed potatoes.

I drink it down since the granola bar from lunch had left me hungry and I look for a beer.

Beer in hand, I see Roxy Munro. I say, "Hi Roxy!" She is giving me the same quizzical face that Paul Zelinsky had given me the night before.

"On the Internet, you told me to say, "Hi" so this is me saying, "Hi"."

Like a secret agent hearing the correct password she accepts this odd sentence and comes over to talk with me and generously shares her intelligence.

Later, I take a stroll around the room to see what I can see.

I meet two women from the Carolinas who get me laughing so much I wish I hadn't drunk all those potatoes.

The phone is telling me to leave the party and go upstairs to a small room full of illustrators who have had a few potato cocktails themselves. As we are sobering up we have an I.A. (Illustrators Anonymous) meeting with shared stories, applause and not very many tears.

I hand my postcard out to anyone who will hold eye contact with me for more than a few seconds.

A couple of Canadians, one who had a German accent, went with me to the bar down by the big head statues. We sat at a long glowing table, full of illustrators that had come to life from the Internet.

 I had my $12 beer and headed back to the Upper West Side.

6:45am, still in New York.

This time things have changed.

Lemon poppy seed bread instead of bagels.

I am in disguise today. I am wearing my hair up and no one recognizes me, not even Paul Zelinsky.

We are in the big room again.

Awards are given, not to me.

The couple thousand of us sing, "Happy Birthday" to Lin Oliver.

Here come the Bookmakers Dozen. One of the thirteen of them stayed home so that if there was a catastrophe on the dais the order of succession could continue.

Next up, four heavily guarded agents are telling us, in so many words that they are looking for awesome, well written, well executed work.

Last speaker of the day was the adorable, Kathryn Erksine. She gave a powerful talk about keeping our focus. She had a slide show that included nurses, Scottish kilts and bottles of wine. She left us inspired and handed out candles at the end.

The feeling you get of semi-consciousness just before you wake up was starting to flow through me. I knew the real world was just beyond the dream I was still in.

I got some autographed books and post-it notes.

Dan Santat gave me some advice about working in Photoshop, shook my hand and wished me, "Good Luck".

I drove straight home to Cape Cod, without stopping. It was a good thing I was in a dream or I might have fallen asleep.


The distinct sound of the alarm clock, not the magic phone was going off. My daughter came in and gave me a much needed, good morning hug.

I was home and awake.

I am not even going to try and analyze that dream.

All of the characters are safely back in children's book jackets and the Internet where they belong.

I am in the art studio with my butt in chair, where I belong.


Zoe said...

Love it! I feel like I was there!
Thank you soooooooo much for the Sophie Blackall book!
I can't believe you know Paul Zelinsky. You completely do know him now because next year he will think you look familiar, the year after that you will be having coffee together and discussing your favorite art supplies. You are so glad I wasn't there with you because I would have started singing "Shuffle-o, shuffle-o, greasy little buffalo..." and embarrassed us all.
Also, nice pie.

atlanticmo said...

Thanks, Zoe.
I think you could do whatever you wanted, they hold children's librarians in pretty high regard.

krispie said...

Love this. I feel like I was there with you. Glad you made it again this year. I also love the fact that you still take notes in the same way you did in 1986. :)

Scratch Pad Books said...

Loved this! Made me wish I was there. Your writing is a s wonderful as you drawing!

EGE said...

That was awesome, Moira. I'm so impressed with your stick-to-it-iveness.

(But I don't like that my word verification word is "monstat." Dangerously close to nasty.)

atlanticmo said...

OMG! I forgot to mention the lady with the necklace made of orange safety whistles, one of which I blew while it was on her neck in the middle of the gala.

Michelle Munger said...

God, I like the way you think...I think I was in your dream, but mine ended with me running out of money on Broadway about to see the musical Mamma Mia before I woke up.

And don't forget...fistbump.

Antje said...

I love your dream! Have the weird feeling I was in it... aka the Canadian with the German accent.