I’ve been in a weird mood these past few weeks. I got really sick the weekend of TCAF, and the running I had been struggling to do pretty much stopped altogether. I’ve gone from 6 exercise dates a week to barely 2. My weight is up, my energy is down, and I have no idea how I’m going to crawl out of this hole.
That being said, TCAF was awesome as usual. This year was a significant improvement over last year, as we kept the kids in the Owl Kids area for most of the morning, and we were able to make short runs to the other areas whenever Maggie escaped our clutches. We tried to be there in time for free comics, but Sage gets extremely car-sick these days, and, well. We had to stop at a Tim Hortons and rinse off his pants, if you catch my drift. (The funny thing was that he was wearing his pants backwards, so if I didn’t have to soak them to get the slime off, we could have reversed them and kept going.) When we got to the library, Mason dropped me and Blake at the door and took the youngest two on a quest for pants. They rejoined us in an hour, with a pair of snazzy green pants that Sage had insisted on. He clearly gets his fashion priorities from his Meema.
While they were shopping for replacement pants, Blake and I went to the Bill Amend panel. Blake gets periodically obsessed with Foxtrot so I thought it would be a good opportunity to hang out with a high-profile creator. He was totally charming and funny, and I feel like I learned a lot about the Foxtrot dynamic. I was kind of amused when people asked if there were any rejected storylines; it seemed like they were hunting for a Foxtrot that was too edgy for The Man. His answer was a little baffled; he’s been doing it for more than 20 years, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to work to format.
The kids enjoyed the presentation from Dave Roman, and we stuck around until the star of the weekend showed up to read his kids book. I was so amazed to be sitting in that room, watching Art Spiegelman read to my kids, while they followed along in their own copy. I was even more amazed that the room wasn’t full of people without kids, following the artist. I expected to have to prove my bonafides, as I did at World Con before Neil Gaiman’s children’s reading. But…I didn’t.
While the kids were thus occupied, I was able to make several runs through the second floor. Most of these trips were occasioned by Maggie, who likes to run as if constantly chased. I feel like I’m going after a sparking line of gunpowder, desperate to catch up before the explosion. I had several fly-by conversations with Gene Ambaum (about whom, more later) from whom I bought the latest Unshelved collection; made my annual purchase from Lucy Knisely (Relish, which was absolutely delightful); made my annual Skullkickers purchase from Zub; spent 1 and a half minutes talking to Beto Hernandez about Marble Season; bought a gorgeous Adventure Time print from Scott C.; tried to distract Maggie with a picture of an owl and ended up buying a poster that accompanied a small and hilarious book called “Owls Make Lousy People“; bought a small booklet called “A Brief History of Everyday Objects” after Maggie wrecked the price tag; and found an early copy of What Makes a Baby. Most of my conversations and purchases were random, caught-my-eye-while-I-should-be-looking-after-my-escape-artist-baby choices. The great thing about this year was that the people seemed both less dense and more polite. Whenever Maggie would take off and disappear in a forest of legs, as for example when I was trying to get Lucy to draw me cheeses, I could find her by watching people’s heads turn. People seemed more alert this year, more helpful. It may have been because I wasn’t feeling well, but it seemed to be a welcome change.
I was feeling so good that I started talking to a girl reading Adventure Time, asking her if she knew the writer was right around the corner. When she wanted to go, I offered to take her if her mom would watch the boys. Blake is so oblivious to Ryan North at this point that it was nice to be with someone who liked him as much as I did, someone who was thrilled to be taken to his table and who would thank me politely afterwards instead of just getting distracted by another display.
As the day went on I got sicker and sicker, the kind of sick where you don’t realize how bad it’s getting until you see that it’s after 2 and you haven’t stopped for lunch. We fled the main part of TCAF, but managed to find a late brunch at a local restaurant that was also hosting panels.
But the real reason I was so happy with this year’s TCAF was because I got to attend the second annual Educators and Librarians day on Friday. I got paid my normal wage to go to a less-crowded version of TCAF, watch some of my favourite authors speak on educational topics, eat lunch, network like a mad bastard, and take home a huge tote of comics for my room?? Oh yes. I did. It was even more awesome than that, because my friend was there with me, and she was just as excited as I was.
We are implementing the International Baccalaureate program at Bat Masterson in the near future, and it just so happened that I went to the closest school with the same program on Tuesday, so that we could get resources from people who were already doing it. This is the high school that I would have gone to myself if my parents had kept me in the Gifted Program past grade 5; let’s call it Michael Enright Academy. At MEA they are convinced that they are God’s Gift to Scholars, and by the end of the day I was both revolted by the retrograde teaching styles and horrified by the amount of work ahead of me. I likened it to being a cup, filled by a toddler. My brain was full by 10am, but they just. Kept. Pouring.
On Friday, at TCAF, I met teachers and librarians involved in this program, and they gave me some encouraging tips on how to use graphic novels as part of the overall literacy culture. I met the librarian of UCC, who was very encouraging and offered to introduce me to my private school counterparts. (Kind of terrifying and awesome at the same time.)
I also had a great time with Gene Ambaum, the writer behind Unshelved. His talk about the strip started with the Unshelved Library Simulator, in which I was privledged to participate in the form of a screaming baby. (I started as a merely wailing baby, but Gene cut me off. “That may be how babies cry in an English classroom, but in libraries they cry loud enough to shatter your ear drums.” So I screamed.) There was also a homeless person, an older couple fighting, shuffling feet, and tapping. Glorious. I was rewarded with a hat that says “Library”, but I would have done it just for the experience of screaming in a Reference Library.
My last talk of the day was with Tory, who taught me some interesting things about how graphic novels could support a struggling reader in keeping up with his or her social group. (We also got into an argument about the feminist qualities of Hereville, but that’s neither here nor there(ville).)
By the time I left for the day, I was walking on clouds. I decided to walk to Sage’s daycare, just to prolong the good feeling. Of course, walking several blocks with two heavy bags tends to deflate the most ebullient of moods, and so I was back to normal when I picked him up. With him was his stuffed overnight backpack, a wrapped present and a bean plant for his mother. At this point it was up to me to get a five year old, a heavy backpack, a packed book bag with poster, a heavy purse, a present and a bean plant to several diverse locations, including:
- a pizza joint (for his supper)
- Caplansky’s (for my supper)
- onto the streetcar
- into the subway and on the train
- through Union Station, where we were to wait an hour for the next train, time we used to eat our suppers
- on a commuter train
- into my dad’s car, which took us
The best part about all of these planes, trains and automobiles is that when we got to my dad’s car and he saw the bean, he said, “I don’t think that’s going to make it home.” Really, Dad? I’d be very surprised if it couldn’t survive a short trip in your car, after everything else it’s been through. (Including being identified as “Sage.” “It’s a bean,” I explained, pointing at my son. “He’s Sage.”)