Combined Essences, New York and Mexico City

Yes, despite the last New York post being made on April 6th 2015 f0llowing a whirlwind of experiences in New York City in March of 2015 – amid the advent of Into the Woods, Blue Moon, and sandwiched in between there, seeing Scott Westerfeld in New York as well as in Mexico City, yes.  Yes, there was alot of experience that had not been touched upon yet, and I will try to pick up exactly where I left off so many weeks ago – with combining the experiences of Mr. Westerfeld and some amazing others – and combine them I will be able to 🙂

As I left Mr. Erick Gordon’s appointment with ideas and tons of creativity, I headed immediately to the Union Square Barnes and Noble – where I had picked up an events calendar from the Barnes and Noble on Broadway and literally stumbled across the fact that Cathleen Davitt Bell, Holly Black, Heather Demetrios, Kevin Emerson, Kathryn Holmes, and yes, SCOTT WESTERFELD would be premiering their YA books!  Had it not been the fact that Mr Westerfeld and Ms. Larbalestier were COMING TO MEXICO CITY in a few weeks, this would not have caught my attention, but for the past few months to a year – I had been relaying correspondence to them to get them to come to Mexico City and – WHAT?  In New York on my next to last day?  YES I was going to be there!

I rushed between stations, stops, adding money to my metro card, stopping along the way in coffee shops to make sure I was getting the directions correct to the Barnes & Noble amid a snow-covered New York.  Finally, I made it, I rushed the desk, asked which floor (like 4 floors to this Barnes and Noble!) – bought Mr Westerfeld’s Afterworlds and Heather DemetriosI’ll Meet you There, no idea what the book was about, and sure enough, all the authors were onstage performing their books!  THIS WAS GREAT!

I loved every minute of actors acting out their plot – and since it seemed this was a yearly event, this was something to definitely keep an eye out for every year!

Following the very inside look into all the author’s books via their acting  – (hysterical) we were able to go up and get books signed.  I did not know later I would come to love Heather Demetrios’ book I randomly purchased, and I approached Mr. Westerfeld.  In introduced myself and he paused, and said, “Harry Brake from Mexico City?!” and I remarked how much a coincidence, and a cool one, that it was he was here the next to last day and now much we were looking forward to seeing him at ASF.  Amazing still how coincidences like this occur all the time and make me absolutely believe they exist for a reason.  Leaving that night with much excitement over having that experience, I noticed the beauty of the night, the snow, and took thousands of pictures, some very special ones for the MUN press I worked with in Mexico City that would become gifts.

I realized as I descended into the metro and had been jarred , that the jarring?  Yes, that was after a few minutes’ realization enough for me to realize the Columbia award we had won and I had been carrying under my arm?  GONE.  Literally into thin air and I had been hanging onto that ALL NIGHT!     Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.02.48 AM

Have you ever become so sick of your stomach that everything is just a panic?  That is exactly what occurred in my stomach over the next hour – imagine the one amazing award we won and have traveled so far to obtain – and in a snap – poof.  Gone.  I can’t even really put words to it other than you knowing how the rest of my night went.  All the way back to the hostel, I felt so incredibly sick, and despite it being a framed symbol, and not the actual act of winning I should have realized, I couldn’t.  I had been so proud, so incredibly beaming of that one icon we received from Columbia, with it gone it felt like may rugs had been taken out from under me.  I delegated myself to reaching out to Columbia before I left the next day and immediately seeing about a a replacement but knowing, the original award we received was the original and was out there somewhere, probably to be discarded unless of value monetarily due to the frame (obviously not making me feel any better!).

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.02.11 AMFast Forward to Authors Among Us, April 20th, 2015 in Mexico City – an amazing amazing day.  Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalesiter, and Alaya Dawn Johnson ALL here for an event Repentino. created titled, Authors Among Us.  Arriving around 10:30 AM, we toured the campus briefly, visiting Ms. Ramon’s class talking about The Road, interviewing with Garrett Kelly, lunch on top of the roof of the WEC thanks to Ms Castelpietra, Tracey Bryan, and Kristen Dixie, talking to Slippery Rock students, Middle School students, and librarians, then into the FAC for meet and greet sessions and autographing, a panel discussion, back for more autographing and discussion in the lobby, and believe it or not, Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.26.52 AM

dinner at Sobrino’s with students Pablo, Lucia, and Minji as well as Ms. Dixie and myself.  Sound like a dream?  It was but on top of that, the amazing professionalism, organization, and energy the Repentino. staff brought to pull off such an event – maybe that is the even more amazing (yet it should not be) reactions I walked away with.

Of course the privilege to be among such renowned authors was a one of a kind experience and had me walking around pinching myself to make sure this was happening, and yet, not hard to believe with the professionalism and expertise the Repentino. staff maintained all day.  The discussion was absolutely amazing – and will be posted shortly – but issues of gender, respect to women as authors and contributors to the literary realm, as well as Earth Day issues recognized this week that started when they arrived, I can only say a whirlwind of essence continued from that very night I saw the chance to see Mr. Westerfeld on stage in New York weeks before the real deal for us, at ASF.

Starting traditions are difficult but in bringing the artists Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, and Alaya Dawn Johnson to Mexico City, I believe it is vital to bring as many Young Adult authors in person to Mexico City to encourage the opportunities to show reading is one aspects of the arts.  Interviewing, doing an international Twitter Chat, connecting authors to real world issues such as Earth Day, gender respect, as well as roles of genders in writing were just a few of the topics that came out of this particular experience we titled, “Authors Among Us.”

Of course, this was a dream to have such n event, but the reality was a Repentino. staff that could pull it off.  Pull it off they did.  The idea and importance to include Middle School students as part of this experience was important, and seeing the staff of Repentino. come together and create a successful event that would set down some exciting experiences of question and answer, establishing traditions of meeting authors that strive to make an impact, and potentially create future writers thanks to the inspirations of these authors, I couldn’t help but think how grateful we were to be able to interact with these authors, as well as have our start with one of our own, Adi Alsaid who still is on the fast track to writing.

That day truly was an anxious one for me, as well as many others, but so many aspects of the day made it so valuable and unforgettable.  From the arrival and actually seeing the authors arrive, to seeing them stop by the Middle School and visit with Ms. Ramon’s English class talking about The Road by Cormac McCarthy, to interviewing with Mr. Kelly Garret representing ASF, to lunch on top of the Fine Arts Center thanks to an amazing lunch preparation from Ms. Castelpietra, Ms. Bryan, and Ms. Dixie, eating with our editor in chief of Repentino., Alia, then to the actual author event of signing, meeting, greeting sponsored by Porco Rosso, and then a panel discussion in the Fine Arts Center with the help of the Tech Club, to the dinner that Lucia, Pablo, and Minji attended with myself and Ms. Dixie at Sobrino’s – the depth and planning was grueling at first to make sure all would go as planned, no major hitches.  Yet again, with a staff excited, motivated, and energized, a financial ASF group that supported us, as well as the administrative staff, it coming together was a gift that allowed so many individuals to share pleasure in the act of reading.

Truly, this is why Repentino. indulges in promoting reading, as Repentino. and our libraries have much in common, as well as National Writing Month, as well as setting up opportunities for authors to visit Mexico City and swap ideas, creativity, and dreams with to-be authors.  In this case our guests were so gracious and not in the least afraid to express their bold beliefs about the world around them.  It was ironic, the three times I did travel to their hotel to drop items of or to arrange travel plans, they were in the lobby at the same time as I, and we joked that it was ESP.  Yet, when I finished Mr. Westerfeld’s latest book Zeroes, I thought wow, the authors were able to bring their own superpowers of knowledge, intuition, and writing and give out pieces of wisdom to all within their reach.

If as a group Repentino. can continue to reach into the possibilities and dig out more chances to show how the arts in all forms can reach diverse groups of believes, cultures, and individuals, then the existence of Repentino. would not have been in vain and not just for recreation, but with the purpose to move students forward into the world and make a definite difference. In seeing the group in fact make such a success of this event, who is to say we cannot continue to be known as ASF to bring big names in authors to the campus in the name of encouraging literacy, the arts, and creativity in all disciplines?  This should be the aim, to bring a purpose to what each talent students brings to the table, no matter what that talent may be, and have a means to allow that talent to reach the outside world.

We said at the beginning of the 2014-2015 year for Repentino. that we aimed to bring the magic of New York to Mexico City since we did not have a major staff number attending the CSPA Conference in New York this year.  I felt in looking back as this year winds down, thanks to a committed and devoted staff, we have done that to a small degree.  From the chances at making an impact through awards, nominations, presentations, creating events that bring reality to our doorstep, being involved in initiatives that invoke change here and around the world, that is not a bad track record for the year of 2014-2015 for Repentino..

I feel it is even more magic to involve staff, both past and present, in this experience.  Lucia Ocejo Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.35.48 AMwas able to produce some fine poster designs that would go on and represent excitement of this event and serve as prizes for attendees, the social media did buzz among our current staff as well as our staff from past years and everyone helped spread the word of our guests coming to Mexico City.  By creating a Twitter Chat(#authorsamongus2015) , individual Twitter accounts for our guests just in Mexico City, as well as promoting their writing through themes that had been discussed on campus here at ASF, we tried to provide as diverse an approach as possible to represent the many areas that literacy, writing, and social issues can soak into.  When each of us can travel to a conference and extend it’s effect for months after, I think the school itself makes back the investment from sending individuals to various trainings and conferences, and that is my hope that occurred from this particular excursion to NYC 2015!  One more day remained in New York and some very cool things occurred that last Saturday in New York so stay tuned!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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