how it really is

Whenever I hear about how some school got caught allowing cell phones (which are not allowed in New York City public schools, but it’s kind of a joke because most kids bring them and use them in school anyway) or how one student was found in school with a weapon or how one teacher said something inappropriate about the president and there’s this whole 20-minute discussion about it on NPR and people call in and are outraged over it, I want to tell everyone how it really is.

News flash:  This is what goes on here.  Every day.

Take recycling.  There was a discussion a few weeks ago on NPR about how this one school doesn’t recycle.  Everyone was so shocked that this school threw out all of their paper, cans, bottles, and other recyclable items.  And I really wanted to call in and go, “I know another place that doesn’t recycle.  It’s called the Bronx.”  It seems like the people who decide what’s newsworthy aren’t looking at the big picture.  The school I taught at never recycled anything.  Disgusting amounts of paper, bottles, and cans were thrown out every day.  This is the case in most schools and colleges here.  Blue recycling bins are used as garbage cans.

Which is why I was so thrilled to hear NPR today.  This time when they reported on a school and city issue, they definitely had a better clue.  For 18 years, it’s been the law in New York City that every building (residents, schools, institutions, agencies, commercial businesses) must recycle.  NYC had a goal that by 2007, 25% of its garbage would be recycled.  We didn’t reach that goal.  Only 16.5% of all garbage is recycled.  And the stat is even worse for our schools – a pathetic 9.5% of all garbage is recycled there.  Sad, but true.

You can listen to the NPR story here.

things with heart

So first I have to say that the first pass pages of Take Me There have been proofed, discussed, and passed on to the fabulous people in charge of making a book.  It’s done, baby!

Next is a snarky rant entitled, Here’s Something That Shouldn’t Matter So Much, But It Does Anyway.  The other day, SP saw David Schwimmer go into a store in SoHo.  Not fair!  I heart Ross!  [Side note:  Isn’t it interesting how love was translated into the heart symbol, but when the heart symbol was recently translated back into slang text, it turned out to be “heart” instead of “love”?  Anyway].  Everyone always gets to see my fave people and I’m tired of it.  Like, my friend Michelle saw Jon Stewart at the mailbox.  Not fair!  I heart Jon!  She doesn’t even like him!  I mean, yeah, okay, I saw Matthew Broderick in the neighborhood, but even then my friend Allison had to tell me it was him after he had already passed us.  And of course that just reminded me of SJP and how I missed the taping of a scene from the Sex and the City movie a few weeks ago when Carrie’s street was all lined with traffic cones.  Because even though I knew it had to be for a scene outside her apartment because, duh, that’s her stoop right there, the filming notices taped to the trees said it was something else to fool people and I was fooled because I am an idiot.  Grrr.

Moving on to something that has chilled me out recently…I just finished watching season one of Friday Night Lightsand it is amazing.  Sarah Dessen is always saying how incredible this show is and she is right.  The last ep looked totally blurry because I kept getting verklempt at every other scene.  It’s like butta.  This show has so much heart and emotion and you just fall in love with the characters so intensely that you wind up cheering for the Dylan Panthers, even if you’re someone like me who doesn’t know the first thing about football.  Trust me, it will make your Netflix queue happy.


Your TGIM thought of the day is brought to you by Pablo Picasso.  He created my favorite sculpture, She-Goat, which currently resides in the sculpture garden at the MoMA.  Actually, she’s been there for a while, because the first time I saw her in the garden I was in college.  But now she has a snazzy new sculpture garden to live in, which rocks.


Isn’t She-Goat sweet?  I know.  He used all of these recycled materials to make this sculpture, like flowerpots and a wicker basket.  This is one reason why he was the man.  So I thought I’d share this springtime Zen image with you, for a relaxing moment on a Monday.

And not just any Monday, but Cyber Monday.

that’s hot

Here’s a list of things that are hot.

1.  NCTE and ALAN were absolutely amazing.  I was like a high-quality sponge.  Not those bootleg discount garage sale 99-cent store ones, but a sponge that can retain a lot.  I absorbed so much brilliance from authors and panelists that I know this draft of book three will be better because of it.  Everything is connected and all.

2.  If you’re wondering what my next book is about, you can read an excerpt of Take Me There on my website.

3.  The Rockefeller Christmas Tree has green lights this year.  And I don’t mean their color is green.  The lights are energy-efficient LEDs.  By switching to these lights, every day the tree will save as much energy as a family uses in a month for a 2,000-square-foot home.  Also, a green roof was installed at Rockefeller Plaza that will prevent over two million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

4.  I am currently ranked #5 on the Facebook Dawson’s Creek Trivia Challenge.  Actually, that’s not hot.  It’s unacceptable.  Any ranking other than #1 is a lame ranking.  It’s just not good enough when I’ve seen those eps so many times that I can play them in my head.  There’s love here, people.  But then the page also says I’m ranked #1 out of 11,928 players, so I’m not sure how it works exactly.

5.  Teens from Urban Word NYC performed today at ALAN.  They blew the whole entire room away.  I want to use part of Jamila Lyiscott’s piece in book three (she’s trilingual – if you were there, you know what I mean).  An excerpt of Tatyana Fatima Cabrera’s “Rebel” is featured in Take Me There and I want to keep getting the word out about these incredible teen voices.  Tatyana was my student and the winner of NYC’s biggest poetry slam and will be featured here in an interview soon.  Go on with your fine self, sista girl!

words of wisdom

I had a most awesome NCTE experience today.  Some righteous authors have inspiring words of wisdom to share with us, neighbors.

Laurie Halse Anderson reminded us that “fear is the child of ignorance.”  She also talked about how hard it is to respond to all of the fan mail she receives.  Like, right now she has about 500 letters at home and it will take months to get through them all.  I loved how she was knitting (very politely, under the table) on the panel while listening to other people.  At first I thought she was doing origami (it was really crowded and I had a bad seat – so crowded that Sharyn November was standing in the back!), but then the knitting needles clicked into the scene.

But what I really loved is what she had to say about the books she had to read in high school.  In front of everyone in this room packed with English teachers, Laurie admitted that she never finished reading an assigned high school English book because she hated them all.  See, this is why we’re kindred spirits!  Me too!  Well, I finished them, but I was hating the ancient hoo-ha of language so dry I needed two glasses of water just to get through a chapter.  When kids read Speak, they have an emotional response.  They make a connection with a depressed character because all teens are depressed on some level.  Like Laurie said, “Kids don’t cry and need resources when they read Moby Dick.”  Rock on.

Laura Zeises said how she recommends bibliotherapy for some of her college freshmen by encouraging them to read teen novels.  How cool is that?  Most of the teen novels I’ve read have been in the last two years and they always make me feel warm and fuzzy.  Or snarky and angry.  Either way, it’s all good times.  And I just love that word:  bibliotherapy.

Brent Hartinger really made me think about the way haters have access to authors’ private info.  Because Brent dares to write about gay teens, he receives hate mail from evil beings.  These beings can find him and hurt him, which I hope never ever ever happens, but evil is bad like that.  Brent shouldn’t have to worry about that kind of ridiculousness.  He should be able to write honestly and help teens survive.  On the silver lining side, he talked about all of the fabulous email he gets from kids who feel better about their lives because of his books.  He’s amazing.

E. Lockhart made an excellent point about censorship.  When a book or topic is censored in school or by a parent, the message given to our kids is this:  We cannot talk about this topic.  Do not talk to me about this.  You are on your own.  And these kids are left to fend for themselves, dealing with really hard issues and most times having nowhere else to turn for help.  If a book includes content about sex or drugs or abuse, that book should not be censored just because a few adults decide it’s inappropriate.  Why should it be inappropriate to talk about issues that teens are dealing with in their lives?  The issues are real.  That’s the exact reason why kids should have access to related information.  Kids connect to characters in books who are feeling the same pain, which helps kids feel less alone.  And gives them hope.

And Carolyn Mackler told us how books saved her as a teen.  How she turned to books and found friends there.  I feel the same exact way.  Books saved me and helped me to survive and made me feel better, and knowing how so many kids don’t even like to read breaks my heart.  But knowing there are other people like me out there, who write for teens because they want to help them deal with the absolute hardest time of their lives, makes me happy.

vintage viewing

Aside from real-life experiences with real-life people, there are few things as sweet as a viewing of Dawson’s Creek episodes.  I just feel like I’m hanging with the gang, seeing what’s up.  Even though I already know what’s up because I am a DC fanatic and trivia expert.  I know every single ep like I wrote it.  Which reminds me:  I have to stop playing the Dawson’s Creek trivia game on Facebook.  But I can’t help my new addiction…no one told me that Facebook had so many fun apps!  Where was the warning about this?  I have achieved Stud level and am on my way to the highest level, whatever that may be, but it’s too easy to get swept away into the time suckage of it all.  Must.  Stop.

Joey Potter and Pacey Witter

My So-Called Life, the most amazing teen show to ever exist, was recently released again on DVD.  Suckily, the first time it was released as a limited edition.  So if you wanted to buy it, you could find it for hundreds of dollars on eBay or something equally insane.  But not anymore.  I ended up paying full price for it, though, because of course I was horribly sick with this severe cold thing that half of New York’s population apparently just had during the whole week of the sale and couldn’t schlep it over to Circuit City (where it’s cheaper than at Best Buy).  Worth every extra penny.

I’m currently viewing Season One of Friday Night Lights.  But next up on my Netflix queue is All in the Family.  There’s something about that show that always made me feel safe and happy when I was a kid.  I’m sure watching it now will bring that all back.  Kickin’ it old-school has its benefits.

moment of zen

I took this photo in my hometown when I was in high school. I thought the scene was so cool.  In a fascinating twist of scale, someone decided to put a bench under this tree:

Peapack, New Jersey tree

I mean, how awesome is this?  Here’s a sweet park and a gorgeous tree and it’s all nice out…and you have a personal bench right under this huge tree!  Totally brill idea.

I like the concept of taking space and creating your own peace within. In a way, you can exist in your own world within the world, extricating yourself without removing yourself from your surroundings.


new stuff

There are some new When It Happens items on my website.  You can hear an iMix of the songs mentioned in the book.  Careful readers will recall how I kicked it old-school with those.  You can also find out how Sara, Tobey, and Chez (Sara’s koala bear) answered when they played the Game of Favorites.  Fun times.

The galleys of Take Me There arrived today.  The spine is a striking shade of green, so you definitely won’t miss it on the shelf.  It will be released on May 15, 2008.

Aaaand it’s officially cold.  There’s a frost warning tonight, which means time for outdoor plants to come in for the winter.  Which is so unfair since there’s still way more than a month of fall left.  The good news is that seasons are cyclical.