I haven’t mentioned this yet on the blog, but this past October my very first picture book, The Kraken’s Rules For Making Friends, was published! The novelty of seeing my name in print has not worn off (I secretly hope it never does). The sheer amount of work that goes into writing and illustrating a 32 page children’s book is quite absurd, so forgive me if I bask and revel a bit. (side note – I will be posting about my path to publication in the near future, as it’s an unusual journey, until then check out this interview) Shortly after the Kraken was released I began visiting schools, libraries and bookshops to read/promote my book, and my most recent story time took me to the publishing hub of the world – New York City!
Though it was thrilling beyond belief to go to NYC for a book event, if I’m being honest – that wasn’t the most exciting part about my trip! My reading was on Sunday, and we (my always fun mom, sister and I) had flown in on Friday evening to catch The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret at Joe’s Pub @ the Public (always worth it to see this man in drag sing Purple Rain like a sweet hairy angel from above).
Again, book event – thrilling. Martha Graham Cracker – spectacular! BUT the best was yet to come! What started out as an ungodly early day on Saturday turned out to be so unexpected and phenomenal! We were up before the sun and bundled against the cold for our trek to 30 Rockefeller to try and get standby tickets for the Saturday Night Live show that evening. Having heard that they are near impossible to get, we didn’t set our hopes too high. We arrived at the back side of the building a little after 6:30am and got in what we thought was the standby line for SNL, but – we shortly found out- was the line for the Today Show. Ugh. We had wasted precious time, and I could feel our chances dwindling by the second. The line for SNL tickets was impossibly long, nevertheless we joined it at the end and stomped our feet to beat back the cold. A mere 10 minutes after we had gotten in (the right) line an NBC Page and Security Guard came out to cut the line off – we had made it by 10 people! IDs were checked and blue standby tickets issued that instructed us to return to 30 Rock that evening – though they were sure to inform us that this did not in any way shape or form mean that we would get into the show. It was now a little after 7am, and not having had anything to eat we wandered over to have breakfast with Broadway at Ellen’s Stardust Diner – where the servers (like most servers the world over) are trying to break into another field entirely, but these specific ones were shooting for the Broadway Stage. In between taking orders and busing tables they took turns with the mic and belted out tunes ranging from Sinatra to Cats. It was a bit early, and a bit much, for my liking, but the wait staff/singers/actors were undeniably good and entertaining. The food on the other hand, was mediocre at best, but that is not why people wait in line for hours to get into this greasy spoon. It’s the most reasonably priced show on Broadway, though there’s not really a plot and you have to just about choke down the coffee. Moving on…
Because we were out so late with Martha the night before, and up so early to get the standby tickets, naps were had by all and then it was time to head back to 30 Rock. We had opted to try and get into the dress rehearsal, seeing as that is longer than the live show because they test out all of the sketches and then decide which to cut. Thankfully this time around the line was indoors, and we were giddy with excitement at being one step closer to getting into the actual show. Security guards and pages went around intermittently warning us that just because we’ve come this far doesn’t mean we’re getting into the show. Yeah, yeah, we get it! After about 20 minutes of this, they counted out the first 30 people and led them through a secret door. We were numbered 61-63. Another 5 nerve-wracking minutes went by before the guards came and counted out the next 30. Damn I thought. We just missed the mark by 3! But alas! Not everyone with the blue standby tickets showed up, and we were swept in with the second wave of 30! Up, up, up we went through the winding underbelly of 30 Rock, through security and finally emerged at the SNL lobby. “Just because you’ve made it this far doesn’t mean you’re getting in!” was still being shouted by the pages, but at this point all of their yelling had little effect as the entire group of 60 were positively shaking with anticipation. Chris Farley impressions could be heard coming from the front of the line, while the gentleman in front of us did a spot-on impression of Kristen Wig’s Target Lady. Here came the pages! “Quick, put this bracelet on and enter elevator number 7,” they urged us as they passed out wristbands. We had made it! I don’t really know how, and I’m pretty sure it was a fluke, but it HAPPENED!
We were ushered to our seats, and YOU GUYS – the stage is SO. SMALL! Michael Che came out and warmed up the crowd, explaining what was about to happen and – just as my sister snapped a picture with flash – he pressed the ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHY rule. The show started, and for the next 2 hours my jaw was on the floor. Not because the acting was so good (it was), or the sketches so funny (they were), or because Bryan-freakin-Cranston was there (he was!), but because the SNL Prop Team was masterfully and magically transforming the sets, silently and swiftly in what looked to be the size equivalent of an extra large bedroom in a matter of 90 seconds. Truly. If the MIT brains ever wanted to do a study on space efficiency then there is no better place for them to go than SNL. Sets that were flat packed against the walls were unfolded and laid out in a race against the clock as they counted down to AIR. An empty corner one minute became a fully stocked bookshop the next. My mind was blown, and just as fast as we had been brought in to the stage area, it was over and we were being taken back out the way we came in. We rushed home – well not home. We stopped at McGee’s Pub (HIMYM), then rushed home to watch SNL live. It was fascinating to see what they had changed from the dress rehearsal, Kate worded that differently, that sketch didn’t make it, etc, etc. We were drunk with excitement (and also actually drunk from McGee’s) and so passed out immediately after the show ended. What a night!
The next morning was my book event – the ACTUAL reason for our visit, and it went splendidly. I was so happy to see a full house, and some familiar faces to boot! My loverly boss and co-workers from the Free Library of Philadelphia took the train up to NYC for a quick visit. We ended Sunday with an evening at the theater seeing Oh, Hello! (Loved it! Great show!). All-in-all it was a jam-packed weekend, and the New York gods couldn’t have been kinder to us!