week of epic

This week has been all kinds of epic. First there was Monday night. The Empire State Building has a new LED system featuring 17 million colors of lights. The old lights only came in 10 colors. Ten. That’s how serious this is. Now the ESB can do cool light effects like sparkles, ripples, sweeps, and strobes. To debut the new lights, the Empire State Building did a light show choreographed to two Alicia Keys songs. Of course Empire State of Mind was one of them. That song is my heart. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded all over again of how much I love New York City, how anything is possible here, and how fortunate I am to live in the greatest city in the world.

My roof is closed for the season. But my doorman Eddie liked how excited I was about the light show, so he opened the roof for me. I told a neighbor about it and a few of us ended up there at 9:00. The night was crisp and clear. The city lights were so sharp you could feel the intensity of every single one. When the light show started, I already knew it was going to be something I’d remember for the rest of my life. I was the only one on the roof watching through the air instead of through a lens/screen. I just wanted to enjoy the Now in a way where I was connecting to this monumental event in real time. Not worrying about documenting. Photos and videos are only able to transmit a fraction of the beauty of that light show. But this video shows Alicia Keys introducing the show and reacting to the choreo. I can’t wait to see all the gorgeous new colors and combinations every night!

Week of Epic continued on Tuesday when…are you ready for this?…my front closet doors were finally installed. Do you know what this means? Dude. My apartment is DONE. Five months after I moved in. Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been excited to share before and after photos of my new place with you. And now I can! I think the first home life post should feature the front closet. Since it’s such a drama queen and all.

There’s more, friendly neighbors. The epicness rocks on into tomorrow, November 30, when the YA for NJ auction begins at 8:00pm EST on eBay. (Update: The listing for a complete set of my books can be found here). It will run for seven days. I am beyond impressed with Kieran Scott. She whipped this auction into shape in like three seconds. There are over 200 listings of signed books, book collections, author visits, and lots more swaggy stuff. All proceeds will be given directly to help Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey. Snaps for everyone who bids on items for this important cause.

When this epic week is over, it will be December. Which totally blows my mind. It seems like just yesterday I was making epic wishes for 2012 on 11.11.11. Now it’s almost 12.12.12. Another auspicious day when a majorly epic event will be happening for me. Until then, see you next week for a ginormous contest you won’t want to miss…and my first apartment before and after photos!

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connections

When I was writing Keep Holding On, I hoped that someone would take Simon and Noelle’s zine idea to the next level. That person is Alex, the creator of Courage for Tomorrow. Courage for Tomorrow is a new online magazine inspired by Keep Holding On. Alex and her team are always there for anyone who needs to vent, connect, or talk. If you’re feeling alone or hopeless, please reach out to them.

Also inspiring connections: Love Is Louder. By expressing your action with a photo, you can share ways in which you’ll work to prevent bullying and help others. I’m also in love with Love, Yourself. Love, Yourself encourages you to focus on the positive things in your life instead of fixating on the negative. To contribute to this blog, write a letter to yourself. You’re not allowed to say anything negative. Remind yourself of the goodness in your heart that makes you an amazing person. Snaps for We Stop Hate for founding this beautiful project!

Friendly neighbor Kieran Scott wanted to create her own beautiful project. She is a Jersey girl who was devastated by the destruction Hurricane Sandy caused when it pounded the Jersey Shore into oblivion. So Kieran sent an email to some of her YA author friends, asking us if we would donate to an auction for Sandy relief in New Jersey. Of course we jumped on board. As of now, Kieran has gathered 170 YA authors to participate in her upcoming auction, YA for NJ. The auction will begin on November 30 and run for seven days. All proceeds will be donated to The Community FoodBank of New Jersey. You can like the YA for NJ Facebook page for updates.

For those of us connected as vegetarians: Happy Tofurky Day! Enjoy those sides and desserts. You know they’re the best part.

Thanksgiving sugar cookies

doors

As most of you know, I bought an apartment this spring and did an almost complete gut renovation. The renovations took a bit longer than promised. Like, five weeks longer. While I was living here. A team of Hungarian contractors pretty much lived with me for the first half of July. While I had no shower or bathroom door the first week. Yeah. We bonded.

My apartment should have been done a while ago. Everything is finished except for one thing: front closet doors. I’ve been waiting for these doors since July. They were supposed to be installed back in August. Then special hinges were being handmade:

Magnificent handmade hinges

The hinges were badass.They took a month longer than expected. Then the doors were supposed to be installed right before Sandy. Then the day after Sandy hit. My building lost power for four days. My carpenter’s workshop experienced flooding. After all of this, the doors were promised to be installed this morning.

I wasn’t surprised when my carpenter called me this morning to say he wasn’t coming. The closet doors are magnificent. They are so magnificent I almost can’t believe I’ll ever get them. I saw them on October 10 when my carpenter came to temporarily install the doors. He had to make sure they were a perfect fit. I’ve never seen such beautiful doors. Solid maple, about 150 pounds each, to float on special hinges that will make the doors look smooth and streamlined. No frame. No visible handles. Magnificent. The doors were then whisked away to be painted. They’re going to be glossy white, which requires several coats of very careful spray painting. I was so excited for today when I could finally welcome the doors home.

Then the call came. My carpenter’s assistant put the latch pulls on the wrong way. They have to fix the latch pulls and repaint. They might be installed next week. Or in 2013. I really can’t say for sure. But here’s the thing. They’re just doors. So many people lost everything they had in Sandy. People are still living without homes. Living without power or heat or water. Trying to find enough food for their families every day. I have a home. I have power and heat and water.

They’re just doors.

Which is why I was not upset when my carpenter told me the news. Is it frustrating that my place still isn’t done five months after I moved in? Sure. But perspective is key. The doors will be finished. They will be installed and will be even more magnificent than before. And then I can finally – FINALLY! – share photos of my new home with you. I’m planning this whole thing for you guys where I’ll do separate posts for each room so you can see all the before and after pictures. Anyway, I told my carpenter the important thing is that we are safe and our homes are safe and that’s what maters. He was relieved to hear my positive attitude.

Having a positive attitude is extremely important. Getting angry about things over which I have no control would not only make me miserable, it would make the people I’m taking my anger out on miserable as well. That’s not good for anyone. Laughing at the ridiculousness of the Doors Situation (a cousin of the Stove Situation) allows me to keep a positive perspective. By putting positive energy out into the world, we not only create goodness for others. We create goodness for ourselves. It’s a karma thing.

Positive energy opens doors. For ourselves. For others. In ways more magnificent than we could ever imagine. Choose to share positive energy with the world…and watch how many doors open around you.

mocha sprinkles

One week ago tonight, I was sitting in front of my windows waiting for the power to come back on. I was at the windows when the lights went off. I wanted to be there when they came back on again. So I lit some candles, zipped up my hoodie in my freezing apartment, and listened to my iPod. “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” was obviously up first. A few songs later, the lights still hadn’t come on.

I had a Knowing that if I played “Empire State of Mind, Part II” the lights would come on. Less than halfway through the song at 7:03 pm, they totally did. Which was such an overwhelming experience I can’t even tell you. Same with standing on Irving Place at 5:30 pm, immersed in the dark zone. Power south of 14th Street had just come on. I live on 18th Street and was still waiting for power in my neighborhood to be restored. Standing in the middle of that dark street with lights blazing at both ends…it was a sight I will never forget. And one I hope to never see again.

What was it like here in lower Manhattan compared to midtown during the four-day power outage? As always, Jon Stewart captured the scene perfectly.


Not just any sprinkles. Mocha sprinkles.”Serendipity has run out of mocha sprinkles. Which begs the question, Jon: Where the f#!@ is FEMA when you need them?!”

That’s how we do in the 212.

every day by david levithan

Two summers ago during a heat wave, I was having lunch with David Levithan at what would become one of my fave restaurants. David has a knack for knowing good places like that. He was telling me about an idea he had for a new book. It was about a soul named A who wakes up in a different body every day. A doesn’t know why this happens. It’s the only reality A has ever known.

David said that he hoped no one else would have the same idea and write about it before he did. I was like, “Um…yeah. I think you’re good.” See, David Levithan doesn’t understand how unique his ideas are. He doesn’t understand that even if someone else did write a story about being in a different body every day, it wouldn’t even touch the brilliance of his.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day rocked my world. Not only because the idea was so eccentric. Not only because the writing is so beautiful. This book takes us out of our own physical elements and exposes us to the enormity beyond. It makes us question what really matters. It is, in a word, a revelation.

I was very fortunate to attend the pub day event for Every Day. In a stroke of supreme non-coincidence, pub day also happened to be David’s 40th birthday. He read excerpts from things he’d written when he was 10, 20, 30, and then he read from Every Day. The mega reading was affirmation of the obvious: David Levithan is, and always has been, an extremely gifted writer. And I have to say it gave me a little thrill when he took out a Garfield folder that was holding his 10-year-old writing and artwork. I had the same folder set! Plus a Garfield garbage can! Such a super fun throwback moment.

David and I grew up close to each other in New Jersey. Our ages are less than a year apart. In Every Day, A wakes up in a different person’s body not too far away from the previous person. The people are always the same age as A. Makes me wonder if we knew each other back then, in some strange way I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time…

take me there indonesia

An Indonesian reader on Twitter told me that their edition of Take Me There was just released. I often find out about foreign edition publications this way. I knew it was coming out. But I didn’t know when.

How much is this cover blowing me away?

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti, Indonesian edition

Dude. Copies of the note. In the halls. All over the school when they snuck in. What is it with my Indonesian publisher zeroing in on the coolest parts of each book and creating gorgeous covers around them? Like how the So Much Closer cover featured origami unicorns. Love. IT.

Snaps for Indonesia. You guys totally get me.

light

Woot! We have power! Lower Manhattan is in the light, baby!

It has been a crazy four days in the dark. Fortunately I have good friends who took me in on the Upper West Side. When I heard that power was coming back on for lower Manhattan tomorrow (maybe even today), I came back home. Checking on older neighbors who stayed on high floors this whole time was priority. Everyone was fine. So then it was time to do something I’d been dreading all week before I lost the light…

Food thrown out after Hurricane Sandy

These were the contents my refrigerator. Tofurky, Smart Bacon, cheese, fruit, vegetables, carrot juice, eggs, pumpkin butter. I had to throw it all out. Same with everything in my freezer. As you can see, my freezer was basically aisle three of Trader Joe’s:

Food thrown out after Hurricane Sandy

What hurt the most was throwing out those Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets. They are seriously delicious. And of course the Quorn. Quorn is this vegetarian’s BFF. Oh, and you know it hurt to throw out the popsicles. But as I was filling garbage bags with all of this food that had gone to waste, I had some serious perspective.

I am alive.
My home is safe.
None of my friends were hurt.

Perspective made it easier to see this when I was done:

Empty refrigerator after Hurricane Sandy

I’ll be doing a detailed post next week of reflections over the past four days without power. Including how magical it was to watch the lights come on. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the light!