I've heard -- we've all heard -- actors and actresses repeat that well-worn line around Oscar time: "It's a thrill just to be nominated." And I've thought yeah, yeah, yeah. Click. (That's me hitting the mute button on the Today Show.)
But then it was my turn to be nominated for an award described by Publisher's Weekly as the highest honor in romance writing, and 2000 people attended the formal ceremony in NYC, and the nominees' names were announced by category, and our book jackets and head-shots were flashed on two enormous screens, and music played, and Meg Cabot hosted, and I will say for all eternity that it was a thrill just to be nominated.
My husband accompanied me to NYC, but we approached the trip as a working week for me since between meeting my agent, publisher and editor and all the individual events for the RITAs, including the rehearsal, there was very little time left for sight-seeing. But we did manage -- as we do everywhere we travel -- some marathon walks. Miles each day just to see what we could see.
I'd been to New York before. Couple times. But I was young. On one trip, I saw Yul Brenner on Broadway in the King and I and thought he was the most beautiful man -- in his sky blue silk costume and matching paisley-shaped eye make-up -- I had ever seen. On another trip, I had tea with my mother in the Palm Court at the Plaza and wept continuously over my new and, at the time, entirely too short haircut. I've seen the Statue of Liberty, taken a carriage ride through Central Park, attended the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show, eaten chestnuts from a street vendor, ridden in the jump-seat of old cabs, toured the wine cellar (a former speakeasy) at 21 and even looked out the windows at Windows on the World. Oh -- and I saw a transvestite there for the first time when I was nine. He was dressed entirely in pink, and I longed for a similar outfit. Especially his shoes. Pink Candies. Remember those?
So while it had been quite some time since I'd been there, I had a notion of what the city was like. But here are a few things I did not expect at all on this trip:
1. That I would take the subway
4. and not get mugged or murdered on it.
5. Fresh fruit carts about every 2 blocks.
6. Television screens in cabs.
7. The relative ease of navigating the city.
8. That I would agree to pay $6 for a bottle of water and a Diet Coke.
9. Trees on terraces 40 stories up.
10. The general chaos and sensory overload of Times Square.
11. That I would try rice pudding, at my editor's suggestion, and really like it.
12. That, in general, the people -- including the drivers -- are not rude, and there's no offensive "New York City attitude" so often portrayed on television.
13. How quickly I lost the sense of intimidation I arrived with.
14. How much I missed seeing green grass, making Central Park a soothing pleasure.
And now for the trip in selected pictures:
|We arrived at 10 a.m., but our room was not ready until 3 p.m., meaning I was in the wrong shoes for the amount of walking we did that day, so this is me preemptively applying moleskin to my feet about 3 minutes after setting out to see the city.|
|Registering for the conference.|
|Tim in Times Square.|
|Irish pubs abound. We didn't stop into this one, but I like the name -- if not how it's spelled.|
|My first subway ride. Tim took the picture. The subway is NOT the place to hand total strangers your camera.|
|Little Italy. We felt relieved to find it after getting slightly lost in Chinatown.|
|My outfit for the Champagne Reception for the RITA nominees, thank you, Ann Taylor. Also, thank you, RWA, for the excuse to drink champagne in the middle of the afternoon!|
|Our first time to relax after 2 days there. Dinner at Pane e Vino on the Upper East Side.|
|Tim in Greenwich Village underneath an awning that reads: Red Bamboo, Vegetarian Soul Cafe. We didn't dine there.|
|Classic. Me, a writer, digging for a pen at bottom of my purse, which weighed -- I checked at home -- exactly 6 pounds.|
|The 59th St. Bridge. As someone who listened to tons of Simon & Garfunkel growing up, I HAVE to do this . . . bah dah dah dah dah dah dah . . . feelin' groovy.|
|Tim and I right before the RITA Awards ceremony.|
|Me with YA author and last year's RITA winner for Best YA Romance Simone Elkeles. Bad picture of me. Good one of her. She's a riot; her books are fabulous; I adore her!|
|Andrew Carnegie's mansion. Could not wrap my head around the idea that this was once a single residence.|
|Yes, Tim took a picture of our feet. Mine are the two covered in moleskin!|