On Thursday, May 15, I awoke at 6 a.m. to complete a deadline and then drove my eldest daughter to school. Upon my return home, I woke up my youngest daughter, not an easy task, then piled lunch food on the counter and returned to my laptop to polish one last article and email it to the editor. My daughter made us lunch for the school field trip, while I dressed. Yes, earlier I drove my teenager to school wearing my pajamas.
Well, I was ready to sit on the bus with 50 fifth-graders and read. I was looking forward to just sitting, after a week of no more than five hours sleep. I entered the classroom, the teacher said, “There’s no room on the bus, parents will have to drive.”
I asked the other parents would they like to carpool. The men said no the women said yes. And guess who was designated driver. I’ve had the book, Fryer Street and Environs, by Marita Bonner, on my desk for almost two months, I was sure today I would read one of her short stories.
In the car we go, off to Esopus River, behind a bus driver who does not stop at yellow lights. I decided this was a good thing, at least I would get home in time to change my clothes and catch the 2:43 Metro North train.
At the river, I learned about beach combing, how to fish with a net, why catfish have whiskers, how to identify pond insects and just because the water is clear doesn’t mean its clean, just because the water is dirty doesn’t mean its polluted. And of course, the session was running into overtime 1:15 p.m. and it was a 30 minute ride home.
In the car, I call my two traveling partners, for estimated time of arrival. 1:50p.m. My phone beeped. “Angela I just can’t go tonight I have a spitting headache,” my friends said. I had expected her to drive, so I could look over my essay for the reading.
In the my house I flat ironed my hair and changed my clothes. I called my other friend and said, “let’s drive.” Again, I am behind the wheel. D and I always have fun together and there are two things we can look forward to: a)getting lost; b)me scaring the pants off her with my erratic driving skills.
“Have you ever had a day, where you know you’re wearing a red cape,” I said to D. “I have mine on.”
Well, with a GPS we did not get lost, but D held her breath several times. We arrived at our designation at 4:30 p.m. One hour before the event. “Let’s go in” I said. “The early bird catches the worm.”
Living the writer’s life
We entered Levine Greenberg Literary Agency and were the first to arrive for the literary reading. The silver journal, “The Truth about the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction” sat along the ledge of the wall. My essay, “The Last Eight Months,” had been included in the Spring 08 issue and D came as a supporter.
A black man with long dreads, silver rimmed glasses and a black hat greeted us. “I’m Michael Datcher, you know like Michael Jordan only cuter.” I introduced myself and my friend and remember my piece, as well as the editor who accompanied us on the elevator ride. “Page 26, take your three copies from the wall.”
He disappeared. The room began to buzz with music and loud chatter. I realized Michael is the author of Raising Fences. ( I read that book last year, I am honored to be at this event.) Chicken, salad, wine and beer are served. Circles of writers, agents and editors stand around. I talk with writers from Chicago, L.A. Turkey Vermont and NYC. Michael doesn’t hesitate to be my evening mentor, pointing out the people I should talk to including his agent and an editor for Simon and Schuster. I had a blast and of course showed off, (only writer wearing a two-piece pin striped suit with white collar) at the reading as they say “I popped a collar.” Yes, I pitched my book.
At evenings end, I soared home red cap and all.