Sunday, April 4, 2010

Family stuff

Exactly 21 years ago doctors were telling me I was not in labor, go back to sleep and wait for induction in the morning.
The baby was two weeks overdue and I was anxious to hold her.
But they were wrong. I was in labor, and the baby came so fast she caught everyone by surprise, especially her daddy who was running down the hospital corridor toward our delivery room when he heard a baby cry... his newborn daughter.
Katie has been surprising us ever since.
When she was three, she was that kid who'd take all her clothes off and dance on the picnic table at camp.
She chewed out Santa Claus, telling him he was too fat.
She helped unpack Christmas ornaments, held up a cherub ornament and called it a "kid butterfly with no clothes on."
I captured all these moments in cartoon cards I sent to my ailing grandpa. He died when Katie was four, and the family gave me the big box of cartoons I'd been sending him since Katie was a tiny infant. There it was, all of it: Katie's hilarious early childhood in cartoons.
I thought this meant I had a future in comic strips, but after two particularly heart-rending rejections I gave up and tried kids' books instead. That worked out better.
Maybe someday those letters to Grandpa will be a book.
I'd also like to do a book just on Katie. Here's one idea that hasn't panned out yet:

There will be more; Katie's a very colorful character.
For fans of Ellie McDoodle, Risa is absolutely Katie (right down to one of the surprises in book three, coming out in August, where Risa sneaks an evil pet into the house).
Happy Birthday, Katie!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Texas, here I come!

Next week on Sunday I am flying to Texas to visit John Cooper School in The Woodlands, and then I'll travel with the librarian there to San Antonio to sign books at the Texas Library Association conference. I'm so excited about visiting Texas!
I was afraid, nervous, at first. I'm always nervous to go on stage, and always nervous to travel a long distance for a book event.
It's not that I'm worried about my safety; I am a neurotic person, angsty and self-doubty about performance, not about flying. I worry about giving the audience the best possible event. Maybe I figure if I blow it locally, I can always go back and do another presentation later, to mend things. But out-of-state travel is a bit more expensive.
To my credit, I haven't blown an event yet.
They've all gone very well, and there have been hundreds. (wonder when I'll hit the thousand mark? should I pay attention to such things? hmm. I vote no.)
The teacher in charge at my last event called my presentation "Phenomenal." (I should get that in writing; the one thing I neglect to do is get testimonials...)
Phenomenal is a nice word. I'm going to try to hold onto that as I prepare for the Texas presentations. Phenomenal. :)

Ahh, Texas. I've been there twice before. Once as a layover on my trip to Mexico when I was 15, and once with my youngest when she was 9 months old, for Chickapalooza, a trip of moms and babies visiting moms and babies in Austin, Post and Altus, Oklahoma.
Our babies are turning 13 this spring. I should dig up that sketchjournal...

Of course I'll bring a sketchjournal with me on this new trip and draw the whole time.
Here are some sketches from the air from recent trips.
The first is on the way to Boston (maybe I was hungry?).

Second spread is take-off from Lansing heading to Santa Fe.
Third spread is that same trip, heading home again, flying over Colorado.A couple weeks ago while sorting stuff from my mom's attic, I found my wings -- the pin I got when flying for the first time. They were from the Mexico trip, 35 years ago. American Airlines.
Now the airlines give stickers to first-time flyers.
I found all the papers from that trip, all the pre-planning, even my luggage tags.
And a ribbon rose with 16 streamers, from a Tuna -- a traveling band of boy musicians.
Our Spanish teacher told us ahead of time that Tunas travel around Spain (sometimes Mexico) and girls sew ribbon roses for them and pin them, and then the boys pin the roses on girls they meet on their travels.
At our hotel in Acapulco, a Tuna band was playing and we stood above them on a balcony, swooning. They played a lot of songs we knew so we practiced our Spanish (I used to dream in Spanish back then, I was so fluent -- had an excellent teacher) and we sang the songs along with them.
Then we raced down to meet them, and one kissed me (woo!) and pinned his ribbon rose on me. The rose is about 2 1/2 inches wide, with foot-long ribbon streamers sewn to it. It's spectacular, even after all these years. Needs a good cleaning, though.

Who knows what this trip will bring? No ribbon roses, no kisses from Tunas (those are for teens, not married moms turning 51), but definitely a full sketchjournal.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Break-- got your journal ready?

Will you be home during Spring Break?
I'll be at the Ann Arbor Library, Pittsfield branch, on Tuesday, April 6, 2 til 3pm, for a program on journaling, cartooning and whatever else the audience throws at me.

Come join us - we'll make sketchjournals and draw in them together.
I promise it'll be great fun!

Planning to go somewhere else?
Bring a journal with you!

I still have my sketchjournal from my high school Spring Break trip to Mexico. I was 15 -- what an amazing trip.
I swore I'd go back every year, but in 35 years I never got a chance to revisit Mexico. Life interfered.
But I still have my sketchbook from that trip, so I can go back in time and feel what my 15-year-old self felt, and it's like being in Mexico all over again.

This is a page out of my sketchjournal from when I was 15. It's one of my favorite parts of Acapulco, the market. I bought one of those white blouses with colorful trim -- mine was white with green embroidery. It's long gone, but the picture of it survives. :)