11 December 2009

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Watching: Since I make a dance show reference below, here's a clip from the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (LXD) on SYTYCD. The three guys flipping at the 1:25 minute mark are ridiculously together. Like stunning. If you haven't seen the LXD trailer, watch it now. This show is going to be amazing.

Debs West Coast visited two high schools the other day, Casa Grande and Petaluma, as part of Holidaze of the Debs. The first event involved arriving at eight fifteen in the morning. The last time I was up doing something at eight in the morning? Maybe 2008? I tend to not sleep until the sun rises and I knew getting up and driving an hour north was going to be rough. I tried to pass out early, I really did, but only succeeded in lying around fitfully until five, when I finally dozed off. I guess you can't change a night owl's habits in one day can you? An hour and a half later, my alarm rang and I bolted out of bed, fueled by panic and the adrenaline of needing to be somewhere. This had to be the first time I was up before George, who is usually groggily rising for work just as I'm about to sleep. With music blasting (I played the Full House theme song as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge of course) I jammed up the 101 and arrived just on time. My day was already a success!

Casa Grande book club members were assembling in their beautiful library -- decorated with various student-created graffiti paintings that said "read" -- and waiting for us were homemade scones prepared by their cooking class. Oh and a banner that said "Welcome Fantabulous Debutantes!" A banner, made for us! Ms. Koval, their teacher/librarian was amazingly nice and enthusiastic and actually, if I had an educator like her I think life could have been so different. The CGHS book club site, "Big House Book Club," is all up on technology and from the looks of it, they do all sorts of fun activities. The whole thing just looks super fun to be a part of. My high school lunch days of finding a corner to read (ahem, alone) could have been done en masse. I don't recall school libraries or librarians being this cool back in the day, do you? There was this article from the Times a few years ago about how a stereotypically nerdy profession was becoming very cool and I'm gonna have to agree. Were there even school book clubs, much less cool ones, back in the day? I don't recall any.

I don't know if you know this but high schoolers can be intimidating. A bunch of high schoolers gathered in a single room staring at you is straight up frightening. I think it's because they're looking at you, oftentimes with this penetrating expressionless face, and you have no idea what they're actually thinking. It's a skill perfected as you advance through school (and a valuable skill indeed), and high schoolers are definitely peaking in those powers. As we got up to talk about our books, do a short reading, share our paths to publication, and answer some questions, I was reminded of how eloquent my fellow Debs are. They know what they're going to say, they say it clearly and with practiced gusto, and they're great at syncing their minds with their words. My introductions usually start with, "Um, this is Exclusively Chloe. The cover is pink and it has glitter...um..." Probably need to work on that a bit.

Also, where do you look when you're facing a crowd? I chose to look down, at people's feet. I can give you exact descriptions of every person's shoes in the front row, no lie. Semi-Ugg boots, black Chucks with purple laces, diamond Chucks with white laces on one foot and black laces on the other, etc.

This being my first high school visit, I wasn't sure what to expect afterward. Dead ringing silence? High fives all around? Detention? What I found out is that after being all intimidating and scary, high schoolers then turn all super nice and friendly and ask you to sign things. After chatting it up with some of them and learning about stuff like whether or not the title of book club president is an elected or volunteer position, we all took pictures, said thank you's and good bye's, gathered our stuff, and headed off to the next stop. Lunch.

Post-food stop, we went crosstown to Casa Grande's rivals, Petaluma High. It's the Gauchos versus the Trojans. Green versus purple. East versus west. Brother against brother. Actually I have no idea if those last two are true, I just like rivalries. The student reporter from Casa Grande told us how their newspapers face off every year for awards and r.e.s.p.e.c.t. I'd like to imagine that it's epic like ACDC versus Miley and Mandy. I think one downside of attending a small private school was that we didn't even have a journalism class. (Or did we?) I think my next book features the editor in chief of a school newspaper so I grabbed copies of both the Gaucho Gazette and the Trojan Tribune for research.

The front page of the Trojan Tribune said that their econ teacher was coming out with a book, his memoir, "Game, Set, Life: My Match with Crohn's and Cancer." I got to briefly meet Mr. Street at our event and since we had only a very short time with the Petaluma students, just half an hour, when they wanted to stick around for more, he gave them permission to miss some of their next class. Keep in mind this was the week before finals for both schools. If I was about to be in finals I'd be like, "Peace, I'm off to class!" so it was cool of everyone to stick around. Talking to us was better than studying for finals, yes!

After our long but exciting day, I've decided that high school visits are fantastic. There are so many aspiring writers, book clubs are now cool and awesome, teens have some really great questions about writing and getting published, and yes it's true, like Whitney said, "Teach them well and let them lead the way." Or just make them late for their next class. Either works.

So thanks to both schools, Copperfield's Books for setting it all up and then inviting us to check out their wonderful store, and of course to my fellow Debs because group events are great together. Lauren Bjorkman (My Invented Life), Cheryl Renee Herbsman (Breathing), Malinda Lo (Ash), Sarah Quigley (TMI), and C. Lee McKenzie (Sliding on the Edge) who was there in spirit.

Recaps of the week's various events so far from Cheryl, Lee, and Malinda. We got one more event this Saturday at Barnes & Noble in San Bruno. This one's at two so I'll definitely be fully awake, I guarantee it.

Photos from the events are located here.