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Dec. 5th, 2012

02:13 am - Photos: LA Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012

Hi, Everyone!

Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 took place this past weekend. I took an even dozen pictures. Check them out on Facebook here, or by clicking the image below:

Karol and me, chief organizers of this year's Kid Lit holiday event
Karol and me, chief organizers of this year's LA Kid Lit holiday event

About 50 people were there at the height, with several of us lined up before the bar opened, and others hanging out until Happy Hour's bittersweet end three and a half hours later. I didn't bring my flash, though, so I didn't document most of it. (Deliberate strategy, honestly.)

20121201-KidLitHolidayHappyHour2012-16
Last partyers standing! Closing down LA Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour 2012.

Others have posted their pictures at the Kid Lit Holiday Happy Hour--and Book Drive!--2012 Facebook page, so check those out, too. And Karol and Charlie will still be collecting books for the book drive at tonight's SCBWI-LA Westside Writers Schmooze in Santa Monica.


I also took a few token shots at the screening of Library of the Early Mind that happened just before this, at the Santa Monica Public Library just a couple blocks away. I was so happy to see this film at last--and to see so many familiar faces gathered there!

20121201-LibraryoftheEarlyMind-220121201-LibraryoftheEarlyMind-3
Free screening of Library of the Early Mind, a 2010 documentary exploring the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. Above, Lee offers a few words of introduction on behalf of SCBWI Los Angeles, who co-sponsored the event with the Santa Monica Public Library, and Karol gets mad props for making this screening and partnership happen.


As I wrote on the screening's Facebook page,

"Thank you again to the Westside Writers Schmooze (Karol and Charlie!), SCBWI-LA, and the Santa Monica Public Library for putting this together. Those of you who didn't make it, don't despair. Apparently you can also watch this movie on Library of the Early Mind's Web site--for a $5 rental fee. :) But it was so great to watch it with this vibrant group!"


Happy Holidays, Kid Lit Community!!

Cheers,
Rita

P.S. Special thanks to D for helping me decorate boxes for the holiday book drive, engaging with the movie (yay! I'm glad he liked it!), and then keeping me supplied with food and drinks throughout the Happy Hour, when he knew I would be too scattered to feed myself. I'm lucky, I know.

Aug. 23rd, 2011

12:11 am - Photos: The 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference

Hi, Everyone! My 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference photos are up!

SCBWI's 40th Anniversary dessert. Delicious. (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)
Our 2011 Golden Kite Awards Luncheon dessert celebrating SCBWI's 40th Anniversary. (Hand modeling by Mara Bushansky)


Bruce Coville's opening keynote (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)LGBTQ Poolside Chat (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Editors Panel (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Paul O. Zelinsky at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)High five! Joey Spiotto and Ken Min at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)The House That Witchy Built, by Dianne De Las Casas (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Laurie Halse Anderson, 'Daring the Universe' at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Judy Blume and Richard Peck at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)

You can view all 257 photos—with captions—in three places on the Web:

     On SCBWI's official Flickr photostream
     On my Flickr photostream
     And on Facebook in two albums: SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference—Fri. & Sat. and SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference—Sun. & Mon.

The Facebook tagfest has already begun, which I find pleasing. But please know that I am your professional ally: if there is any photo you are not 100% comfortable with, notify me immediately (privately), and I will make that photo disappear. (You can untag yourselves, too!)


My personal conference highlights this year include:

1. Celebrities.

Judy Blume showed up as a surprise guest speaker. (I know, right?) She is so nice and down-to-earth in person, insisting she's a writer just like the rest of us, and that every next book is as scary to write as her first.

Judy Blume in conversation with Lin Oliver (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Judy Blume at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)
Judy Blume in conversation with Lin Oliver at the SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference

I was astonished to learn that Tiger Eyes, my favorite Judy Blume book (though all of them were my "favorite" at different times, this was my final favorite), is coming out as a movie later this year. I got to chat with her a little afterwards, and it sounds like it will be gorgeous.

Judy Blume also came to the LGBTQ Poolside Chat Friday during lunch, before everyone knew she was in attendance, and sat right next to me. (The woman on my other side started freaking out, mouthing Judy's name, which is how I caught on.) Afterwards, she went up to Lee and congratulated him on how great the discussion was.

Lee Wind and Judy Blume at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)
Lee Wind and Judy Blume at the SCBWI 2011 Summer Conference


1b. (Celebrities, cont.) Gary Paulsen, teller of true tales.

Gary Paulsen at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Gary Paulsen at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)Gary Paulsen at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)

I was blown away to see Gary Paulsen's name in this year's lineup. Hatchet is the book I couldn't help but buy for friends who don't even read! I was like, But you'll like this book!

I've read a book of his autobiographical anecdotes before, so I had some idea of the superlative stories we had coming. But it's impossible to be truly prepared. He shook everyone alive, getting away with wild pronouncements onstage because . . . he lived this life.


2. David Small dancing for a good two minutes at the end of his talk for the sake of dancing. The emotional arc of it! Taking us into the dark places inside ourselves and then bringing us up, up, back into the light. Incredible.

David Small at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)David Small at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)David Small at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)
To the tune of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)"

Standing ovation for David Small at SCBWI LA 2011 (photo by Rita Crayon Huang)

Almost all of the speakers got standing ovations this year. The fever pitch of the four days was overwhelming.


3. Of course, my writer hero of middle grade fantasy Bruce Coville delivered a killer opening keynote, "Ripples in the Pond: Why What We Do Matters . . . and Matters . . . and Continues to Matter." It made the woman sitting next to me cry four times.

Bruce Coville postage stamps-1 (rhcrayon) Bruce Coville postage stamps-2 (rhcrayon) Bruce Coville postage stamps-3 (rhcrayon) Bruce Coville postage stamps-4 (rhcrayon)

On an unrelated note, Beard Papa's makes the best cream puff I have ever had.
Beard Papa.27_beardy_lgl
(Beard Papa's! A trendy Japanese chain with locations in New York, LA, SF, and more.)


4. My Newbery pajamas for the 40 Winks Pajama Party/Anniversary Poolside Gala

So proud of my Newbery pajamas (photo by Rita Crayon Huang) 
Brand new Newbery pajamas!! My What-shall-I-wear-to-the-Poolside-Gala dream come true.

My husband made these! (I know, right?) I came up with the idea but ran out of time. D said if he did this for me, then I had to give him full creative control, and he stayed up late three nights in a row ironing on 42 1/2 medals. It turned out way better than how I was planning to do it. He even misaligned the pattern along the seams, so it looks like a real print!

I'm going to write in these pajamas, sleep in them, dream in them . . .

There was a pseudo-Asian vibe going on with the gold medallions (completely intentional on D's part), so I'm not sure how many of the compliments I got came from people who saw they were Newberys. Some people called it from afar, though, including Alice Pope, who included me in the SCBWI Team Blog party pix. Thanks, Alice!


Some increasingly personal highlights:

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (rhcrayon)
Writer buddy Sara Wilson Etienne in her awesome Max costume. Sara is the reason we're all wearing awesome, orange lanyards. Harbinger comes out 02.02.2012!

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (rhcrayon)
My hilarious friends Karol Ruth Silverstein and Charlie Cohen. Karol won two of the joke contests this year! (We had to come up with Twitter posts from famous children's book characters. Tell 'em what you said, Karol!) 

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (photo by rhcrayon)
Crayons!! Harold Underdown wasn't the only one excited about this posse at the party. A purple inflatable crayon is how I got my name! (The group is dressed as Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and they placed in the costume contest.)

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (rhcrayon)
Oh my. Look at me covering myself in Newbery medals and rubbing up against Linda Sue Park. As if.

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (rhcrayon)
My writing group—Lee Wind, Sara Wilson Etienne, and me—at the SCBWI 40 Winks Anniversary Poolside Gala

SCBWI LA 2011 Party Time! (photo by rhcrayon) 
Hilarious superheroes coming your way


And so much more. I was going to include more pictures, but the whole conference is highlights. Please scroll back up to view the full set, via those links.

Happy 40th Anniversary, SCBWI! Kudos on a mind-blowing Summer Conference.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

rita

SCBWI LA 2011 Pajama Party Time! (rhcrayon)

All photos in this post by Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2011, SCBWI. With special thanks to Jeff, Mara, Sonya, Meg, Laurent, Frank, Debbi, Michael, and everyone who so generously offered to take my camera so I could be included, too. Thanks, everyone! I appreciated that!

May. 12th, 2010

03:40 pm - The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (Yes, And: The Book of Love)

I have tons of books I want to tell you about, that are so amazing.

Right now, though, I just want to share one book. It's online, and you can read it here:

Read it online at http://www.read.gov/exquisite-corpse/Book/#page/4/mode/2up
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, by so many of your favorite children's book writers.

This is the most hilarious story-go-'round ever, being played by an awesome line-up of children's book writers!! Linda Sue Park, M.T. Anderson, Susan Cooper, Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale . . . just to name a few. Irvin, AJ, e, Anna, Benji, D, and others and I have sometimes played the hilarious storytelling card game "Once Upon A Time," which requires a group to weave disparate elements into one coherent narrative, each of us taking turns while keeping our storytelling cards close to the chest. In The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, Jon Scieszka lays out all the starting pieces and then you see what the masters do. (Also, I wanted to write a paragraph just now that put my friends in a continuum with my writing heroes. Sweet!! It's like we're playing together!!)

Warning: The book is not finished. I did not know this when I started. I got to page 150 before hitting the "To Be Continued" placard. You cannot believe how fast the chapters fly. (You read one writer's cliffhanger, turn the page and see the next author's name, and of course you have to find out what that person does!) They're adding new installments every two weeks.

I should have known by page 130 ("of 150"), that I'd stumbled upon this midway. I only suspected it at page 140—but still wondered if the last writer might not have found a brilliant way to wrap it up. That's how amazing each installment has been.

(And some of them take multiple turns! So you really don't know what's coming next.)

I can hear every author laughing at each next author's contribution. I can feel them ribbing each other around the room. Everyone's playing together!! It's, um, it's, well, it's, er, exquisite!!

(Your turn!)

r

P.S.
Read more about the project at the Library of Congress Web site. Apparently the book will be completed within a year of its inception. So they've got nine more episodes to go.

You can also listen to it at that link.

With thanks to Linda Sue Park, whose blog tipped me off!

Scratch My Back, the new album from Peter Gabriel. Image from http://petergabriel.com/discography/P.P.S.
This reminds me of a game Damon and I have been playing lately. We just saw Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl (amazing), and during the show—as on the new album—he does a haunting, beautiful version of the song "The Book of Love." (Listen to it here!)

Now, Damon and I do not know the song very well. We heard it a couple months ago (when C first got the tickets) and then we heard it at the show. After the concert, of course, we wanted to sing it. But we still don't know the words.

So we've been making them up.

The game is that you can't stop to think of new lines, or mess up the rhythm of the song. You have to sing whatever comes out of your mouth. In a growly, speak-singing, Peter Gabriel voice.

"The Book of Love is big and heavy . . . I can hard-ly pick it up . . . "
"And I-I-I-I-I! I love it when you sing to me . . .
And youuuuuuuu! You . . . " (etc.)

The format of the song is really simple. You talk about the Book of Love for a bit, and then you do the "And I-I-I-I-I"–"And youuuuuuu" bits.

My favorite is that for some reason, Damon always thinks of juice whenever he's trying to think of something green. As in,

"The Book of Love has a green cover . . .
It's made of grass and juice and things . . ."

All of this will be remedied as soon as we own the album, of course. But the game has been so fun, I've actually put off buying it for a few days.

"Yes, and—"
The Book of Love is almost finished . . .
though it ne-ver will be done . . .

(Your turn!! Your turn again!!)
r
 

Jun. 12th, 2009

04:26 pm - I Want To Know What Love Is . . .

OH MAN. I have to tell you. Lots of times I wonder what a lip reader would think if he or she saw me in my car. Others would see my lips moving, but maybe they would think I had a Bluetooth headset. But a lip reader would know: cheesy love songs.

Today I was sitting in a café, in my usual sunny window, and I’d had a great writing session all morning but now my brain was fried. And I looked right out the window—the same window I sit in every day--right into people’s cars.

Lots of people were singing! Driving by; stopped at the light; heads bobbing—no lip reading necessary. Singing and car dancing.

I am so happy.

Feb. 4th, 2008

11:49 pm - Chinese New Year and Christmases Past, Present, and Hypothetical

Thank goodness I'm Chinese.

The window of opportunity between New Year's and Chinese New Year has always given me an excellent, extra grace period in which to ramp up for the new year, and I always need it. Damon has three families, all of whom have super intense holiday traditions, plus my family does Christmas, too. By the time January 1st comes, I am worn. Out. It takes all my energy every year not to become a Bah, Humbug.

(I love the actual people in these families, which is what ends up saving me.)

Some years, if Damon and I don’t get to do holiday cards, we send out Chinese New Year cards instead. I always like to take this time to clear my “debts” (here redefined to include whatever things I still want to finish in the old year), clean my house (literally and figuratively), brainstorm resolutions, and go!

This year, I've decided housecleaning includes this blog. That is why, with the Year of the Rat only a couple days away, I'm going to blog about Christmas.

Christmas was actually not as long ago for me as it was for you. Damon's three families did the whole thing on time, but my family just did Christmas two weeks ago, with the meal and everyone and presents. For ritual, we just have four stockings—unmarked and unpersonalized—tacked over the fireplace very gingerly, in a way that won’t support any weight. Those stockings represent me, my brother, and our two spouses.

The stockings always look sad and empty, and two of them aren’t even “stockings”; they’re red-and-green velvet wine bags that my parents got at some holiday party. (The wine bags actually look nicer than the other two, “real” stockings we got for $1.99 apiece from a drugstore twenty years ago, so even though I make fun of them, I appreciate them, too.) These stockings excite little interest in my brother and me every year, which disappoints my mom—every year. She always has to urge us to go look, and when we do, invariably, there are red envelopes waiting inside, each containing 50 bucks—sometimes 60—in crisp 10- and 20-dollar bills.

“Ohhh!!!” my brother and I and our spouses always say, surprised all over again. “Thanks, Mom!”

“Don’t thank me!”



Thank you, Santa!!

This year, after so many years of her hinting, “Santa might have left your something. Don’t you want to look?” we finally knew what to expect. The four of us gamely went over to the fireplace and did a whole round of, “Heyy! Here’s one for you! And here’s one for you!” handing out red envelopes, my mom beaming on.

Then, at the end of the night, we discovered that one of the envelopes was short. (One of the stockings had 40 dollars, not 60.)

“MAMA CLAUS! MAMA CLAUS!” three of us sounded the alarm, my brother protesting and laughing the whole time (“It's not a big deal!”). My mother came running. I don’t think she liked the “Mama Claus” moniker much, but she liked our message even less. “One of the stockings is 20 dollars short!”

“What?! NO!!” She looked aghast, her eyes growing huge. "I put it back!!"

“Busted! So busted!!" we howled. "Dipping into the Christmas stockings!” But my mom was adamant, taking the red envelope jointly in my brother’s hands. “Are you sure you looked? Look again!” Accusing my brother of total incompetence. And lo and behold, “Oh—OH!” my brother cried out, whipping out a crisp twenty. “A-HAHHAHA! It was stuck in the lining!”

We were dying. Why is my family always like this?

“Awwww,” my mom said, shamefaced. “Why’d you trick me to confess? I needed cash one day,” she said, now triumphant. “But it didn't make sense. I took much more than twenty.”


A recent blog entry by my friend Julie has given me food for thought on the cultural mishmosh of our lives. She mentioned, just in passing, that Santa Claus brings presents for her two (soon to be three!) kids. “Believing in the chubby bearded guy was Kevin's tradition growing up, not mine, but the kids hear about Santa from school, daycare, and pop culture, and I don't see any harm in it, so we're preserving the tradition as long as the kids keep believing,” she said.

That’s all she said, but it was the first time I’d ever considered the Santa dilemma from the us-as-parents' point of view. Usually, I think of it from the kids’ perspective. (Santa still leaves me presents, after all—at three households these days, no less—and with very different cultural implications at each. The Santa that brings socks and underwear is different from the Santa that individually wraps little toys and chocolates, who is different from the Santa with the red envelopes.)

When I think about the Santa dilemma, I always think back to the raging debate I first heard in the halls outside my first grade classroom, back in the day. Some of my classmates were arguing—violently, ganging up on each other—that Santa wasn’t real. Others still believed.

I don’t remember actively believing in Santa as a small child, myself. I don't think I'd even considered the question up until that point. Presents from Santa appeared in my house, too, but without a lot of fanfare, and for some reason I'd never been that curious. So when I heard my classmates arguing—with all the scorn and hope that came on both sides—I felt neutral. Unsurprised. I hadn’t put that much thought into it, but the explanation (“my dad says it’s all our parents!”) suddenly made sense.

I mean, I might have been a little disappointed. Shocked, upset. It wasn’t like I was looking to be randomly disillusioned that day. But no one was paying attention to my reaction at that moment, so I was able to take my struggling emotions home in peace. And let's be honest: My parents never tried that hard to make it real. The “From Santa” tags were always written in their handwriting—something I was quick to point out in subsequent years. (Occasionally, after that, however, random unlabeled presents would also appear under the tree without “From Santa” tags, which would “surprise” my parents. This became a new source of aggravation for me.)

The darnedest thing is that my parents never gave it up, either. Just look at the stocking story I just told: my mom balked at us calling her “Mama Claus.” Even now, when Santa’s not bringing us wrapped presents anymore, you’ll never get her to say Santa’s not real.

(I'm sure I could get any of Damon’s parents to say it, despite how elaborately they do it up.)

I went through a phase in 2nd grade—and off and on even through 4th grade—when I was hellbent on proving Santa wasn’t real. I ransacked the house to find where extra presents or extra gift wrap might be hidden. I never found presents, but I did eventually find extra rolls of wrapping paper that matched Santa's—hidden high-up in a closet in the guest bedroom. My parents were completely bland about it, admitting nothing.

I remember the wild, irrational hope coming to me at times during that campaign—long after the early years when I neither believed nor felt the issue mattered. In that 2nd-through-4th-grade phase, it suddenly became important. I needed to prove it. Suddenly, I was going to make them say it.

But othertimes, because I couldn’t—and because they wouldn't—I’d still think, Could it be . . . ? And something huge in me would grow, irrational.

If I had a kid today, would I play Santa Claus? Would I—could I—dare I not?

I don’t know.

(Maybe my kids will have to be extra good, and I'll just hope irrationally with them!)

I do have this philosophy that love—and magic—is created whenever two or more people play a game using the same shared rules and definitions. But that is a blog entry for another time.

love,
r


What do you guys think/ remember/ plan to do—about Santa Claus?

Aug. 2nd, 2007

02:19 pm - Pre-SCBWI-LA: A Melrose Moment

Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The place where dreams come true.

One outlandish dream, anyway.

Tomorrow is the big, national children's book conference we all await breathlessly every year: SCBWI-LA! So what did I do this morning to prepare?

I went shopping and got a haircut.

That wasn't my plan, of course. My plan was to meditate my book all day—perhaps go into a deep trance that would drop me like a stone through water, down, down into the heart of my manuscript—so that I would be Middle Grade SUPER WOMAN!! by tomorrow. Also, I hate shopping under pressure.

But there's this thing that happens to my brain. It's like with makeup. I never wear makeup—unless I'm nervous. Or meeting people for the first time. Or about to hang out with a lot of people. All of which applies to the super conference.

So, after meeting with Gregory K. of GottaBook this morning to hash out our carpool arrangements (YAY!! Carpool Buddies!!), I planned to zoom back to my apartment and begin meditating.

Instead, I zoomed over to K-Town and got a haircut. Rachel exclaimed over how long my hair had gotten. That's because my last haircut was over a year ago, before last summer's conference.

Then I zoomed over to Melrose for clothes, because, as with makeup, I normally don't wear any. That is to say, I wear the exact same thing every day. The last time I bought new clothes was—you guessed it—the night before last summer's conference.

(Okay, I did get a couple outfits the last day of our South America trip, so that'll help this year.)

I'd pretty much resigned myself to wearing the exact same clothes as last year for at least two of the four days. (It only matters because I take lots of pictures. But I'll live.) But what about the Saturday night gala, "By the Light of the Silvery Moon??" I don't own any silver! I don't look good in silver!!

Ah, Melrose. Beloved Melrose. Only ten minutes and ten dollars later, I had a silver top.

Thank Goodness! Jo Whittemore was making me nervous there, what with the gorgeous dress she just bought and me having nothing silver at all!

I should have taken my ten-dollar top and run. Instead, the woman pointed out eight-dollar earrings. And then I saw $18 (silver!) shoes.

Ok, ok. That was great, too. I should have taken the top, the earrings, the shoes, and then run. Only 15 minutes and 36 dollars in, now I had a whole outfit! Perfect for future parties, too. I could not have asked for better.

That's when I saw it.

Pants I could not possibly wear in polite company ever.

And an even crazier top to match.



"Tank" top with silver sequins and sheer, drapey, not-quite-connected sleeves, $18.
Skin-tight, white-and-gold, shimmery lame lamé pants, $13.50.
Leafy earrings I just had to throw in, $5.
Total cost of the Dream, $36.50.
Happiness it has brought me today, Priceless.

This is not for the conference. This is for Irvin. Irvin and I once had a dream—a beautiful dream—of a party we would one day hold in the future, wherein my important lawyer husband would throw a dinner party for even more important lawyer guests, and I would answer the huge front door of our gigantic, beautiful house wearing an outfit just like this, offering everyone hors d'oeuvres on a silver platter before scampering up a long, dark blue curtain rope to do Cirque du Soleil-style tricks.

"What does she do again?" the guests would whisper in mortification.

"Some kind of writer!" someone else would hiss.

In this dream, my husband (then boyfriend) Damon and I were very rich. He was only beginning law school at the time of dreaming, and I was only two days away from beginning my new job as Assistant Editor of a magazine that didn't pay much. ("The pay is low but the love is free," is what Calvin used to say, and he thusly dubbed my quarterly journal about architectural history "the free-love magazine.")

And now, because of this mad dash to find something silver for SCBWI-LA, I am one outfit closer to achieving that dream!

It's been nine years since we've had that vision. Damon just stopped being a lawyer, after five successful years. But he still has lawyer clients. That part of the dream is still intact. We're not rich yet, but I'm going to need some time to get into Cirque du Soleil-style gymnast shape, anyway. One step at a time, baby. One step at a time.

The top was originally $256 but had been reduced (Oh, Crossroads, how I love thee) to $18. That's as much as anything I was buying for the conference proper. But I took one look at those pants, and I recognized the dream.

Could I leave those pants in the store?

I could not!!

At Crossroads there's only one of everything, too, and it either fits you or it doesn't.

(It didn't.)

(But I can squirm into them, and that's more or less the idea.)

Everything else is still wrong with the dream, but on the night Irvin and I came up with it, we were more fabulous super beings and superfriends than we'd ever been before or since—as evidenced by the fact Irvin immediately picked up an admirer who two days later confessed he wished he "had a Rita in his life." Irvin and I were actually attending a gala event at the time (thrown by the art college/publisher of my "free-love" magazine), for which the line wrapped around several industrial blocks but for which we—because I clutched a "V.I.P." pass—got bowed to and apologized to and waved right in! That was pretty much the end of us.

There were, in fact, white-clad gymnasts scampering up and down long, dark-blue-curtain ropes to the ceiling beams doing Cirque du Soleil-style tricks, all night, and people offering hors d'oeuvres. Irvin and I walked in slo-mo side by side, synchronized to the electronic beat being spun by multiple DJs through endless rooms pulsing with green laser lights, art, and costumed art students, both of us unsmiling, both of us wishing we were Trinity from The Matrix. That was when we came up with The Dream.

We had a name for the look we envisioned, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for a blog intended to be children's-book friendly. (It was two words, the second being chic, and the first being the name of a drug that begins with h.) To achieve this look I would also don too much eye makeup, laugh in a deranged fashion, and be a whole lot skinnier than I am now.

I've been living coffee-free for over three years, mind you, so the only drugs that could realistically become part of this dream are green tea and chocolate.

(And don't say chocolate goes counter to getting into the scary body shape I'm envisioning. I'm not listening—la la la!)

And now! Here I am at home, madly blogging about today's mad shopping escapade. I've now invested two hours and thirty minutes into this insanity, because I got to Melrose by 1, got home by 2, but have blogged for another hour! Still not bad.

Must calm down and go meditate now.

See you all tomorrow!!!

Love,
Rita

P.S.
Even if I did wear this outfit to SCBWI-LA Saturday night (which I'm not going to), it wouldn't hold a candle next to what the Disco Mermaids are sure to wear.

P.P.S.
The title of this post, "A Melrose Moment," is actually a reference to Irvin. The first time he ever went shopping on Melrose, a guy in a blue feather boa kept urging him to try on the most outlandish clothes. Cow print leather pants, etc. And Irvin would demur. And the guy kept saying (in a deep-throated, smoked-way-too-many-cigars voice), "Just try it! Have a Melrose moment on me!"

And so he did.

And so have I.

The End. :)


I think I need a pedicure.


Jun. 22nd, 2007

01:03 am - Tuesday Night and "The Circle"

[This post is from June 6th, due to technical issues. More entries to follow!]



 
(Go to Sacha Sacket's MySpace page to listen to some songs!)


Tonight we went to an awesome show at the House of Blues: Sacha Sacket!!!!!!!!! I am now a fan!!!

I can't stop listening to the CD. After the show, I was all, "Whatever you're selling, I'm buying!!" He had Shadowed, the album previous to the upcoming. We took two. =)

To Damon I was like, "Look! You just changed jobs, and already our lives are cooler!"

Damon and I had never been to the House of Blues before (scandalous, I know), even though it's totally close to where we live. We were so excited. We're connected to the band, and this was an industry showcase, and we were excited by every aspect of this night. Supposedly we're getting dinner with Sacha soon, too.

(I knew Sacha wasn't aware of this when he sold us the CDs, so I tried to play it cool—for me, anyway.)

It was killing me I hadn't brought my camera. Other people were totally taking pictures.

The show was pretty short. We were exhilarated, and I couldn't believe how little time we'd been out of the apartment. We couldn't wait to listen to the CD as soon as we got to the car. 

Somehow or other, Damon confessed he'd felt nervous before entering the club. I didn't get why, as we'd heard plenty of bands play before, and here we were linked to them to boot. But I decided to give him a pep talk.

"You just have to think about The Circle!" I told him. "You're someone who goes outside The Circle regularly. Just remember that."

Damon had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to remind him. Back when we were planning our wedding, I'd used a thin, dumbed down circle metaphor on my mom, regarding our guest list. "Imagine a circle, Mom," I'd said. "Some friends and family are in the circle; and some people fell out of touch with us years ago."

"But a wedding is a way to bring them back into the circle," my mom had rebutted immediately.

I was stunned.

It's not that I disagreed with her. That's why I was stunned. I'm normally a very inclusive person, and here was my mom, suddenly the beneficent one between us, reaching out to all those who had fallen out. Saying what I would say!

More stunning, however, was that my mom had just responded to something I'd said using the same metaphor. I couldn't believe it. It was like, for one moment, we actually spoke the same language. (We technically speak two same languages, but cf. here my reading from Karen and Ben's wedding, in which I delineate my belief that love is sharing a language you've "invented," e.g. out of codes, mutual experiences, and metaphors. [I said it better at the wedding.])

So then, at my mom's birthday dinner recently, I gave a toast that mentioned a certain career switch she'd made years ago. Only as an adult did I suddenly realize what a huge leap it was to go from accounting to computer programming. At the time, my mom had talked like it was a promotion.

My mom nodded and totally responded.

"My coworker at that time told me something that really helped me," she said. She drew on her palm with her finger. "He told me, 'Imagine there is a circle. Some people never go outside the circle—their whole lives! You have to ask yourself if you are someone who can go out of the circle.'"

WOW! Circles again! This memory was right there for my mom, too, close at hand, all these years. My mom relates to circles!!

Thus, I think about my mom and "the circle" often.

Damon was all, "You're someone who goes outside the circle all the time."

I could not agree with this. I stay within the sphere of my existence pretty consistently, even if trying new things and traveling is part of that.

To which Damon replied, "Some people never go in the circle." Teasing me.

"That's not true," I protested. "I had a job at [Company Name redacted]. I've seen what that world looks like."

"Some people peer inside the circle," he amended, "and they don't like how it looks." Making me laugh. 

I could have kept protesting, but at this point we'd reached our car and realized we still needed parking validation. "Let's go in Virgin for a second," I said.

The moment we set foot inside Virgin Records, Damon and I saw this new Tiffany CD on display. We stopped, each picked up a copy, and studied it diligently. "Huh! Tiffany has a new album!"

I'd already walked away when Damon hurried over. "Hey," he said urgently. "Tiffany's here. In the store."

What?

I looked at D's face and the conflict there, looked across the store, and looked at his face again. "Let's buy a CD and get it signed!" I said. "Come on! Let's do it!!"

I am such an easy sell.

The store was shutting down, and we were last in the autograph line. A couple guys asked Tiffany to do a personal message on their fancy video phone, and she was super hilarious and spontaneous for them, so we decided it was okay to get out D's camera phone, too.


  
Another reason to carry a camera at all times. Ayyy! 
Apparently, I am
terrible at using camera phones. (Sorry, Damon!!)


Did you know? Tiffany is one of only six solo female artists to have pulled two or more Hit 100 No. 1 singles from a debut album in the last 20 years?
I did not know.
 

As soon as we exited the store, Damon shouted, "This night is crazy!"

"The things that happen when you go outside the circle," I said, shaking my head. According to the clock in the car, we had only been outside the apartment for an hour and forty minutes.

"Put in the CD!" Damon said. "What do you think she sounds like now?"

I had just picked up Sacha Sacket when I realized he meant Tiffany.

"AWW! LOOK WHAT JUST HAPPENED!!" I shouted as Damon busted up and started shouting, too. "One minute we're all, 'Yeah, Sacha Sacket!! We love you so much, you rock!! We can't wait to tell everybody in the world about you!!' Fifteen minutes later, we walk into Virgin, and 'OhmiGod, everyone, TIFFANY'S SIGNING CDs!!!' Now you've forgotten all about him!!!!"

I had to shout, because D was sputtering and laughing, trying to interrupt. "No! That's not what happened! I'm totally excited about the Sacha CD! I just meant, because this one was already opened!"

"Fame is so fickle," I mourned. 

I immediately wondered if I should change this to fans. I decided no.


I have even more amazing news to share regarding the music scene (What? Even more amazing than a new favorite singer and a Tiffany sighting, all in one night?) but I have to save that for its own, super special post. It is too cool, and you can't wait.

Love,
rita