Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How much do I love E. L. Konigsburg?

So, I am not really a fan of authors. No, I don't mean that I don't LIKE them, I just mean, that I am not a fan in the sense that....well, I'm just more interested in their books than them. Although some authors have very funny blogs and I would kinda like to meet Sarah Beth Durst who sounds cool...

Anyways. But E. L. Konigsburg is an author I feel very strongly about. I don't think I actually read her best-known work, Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler until I was older and it was ok, but when I was a young teen I read T-backs, T-shirts, COAT and Suit. It moved me profoundly and although I have not read it in many years I still take pieces of it out in my head and think them over.

So when I found out that E. L. Konigsburg was going to be speaking at a children's literature conference in Indianapolis when I lived in Champaign a few years ago I decided I must go.

This is how I went (I should say, first of all, that this was January):

I walked two miles to the bus station.

Took the Greyhound bus to Indianapolis and arrived around 10pm. Only it was really 11pm because I didn't know there was a time change.

Slept in the bus station until almost 6am. (If you are going to spend the night in a bus station, which I have done a couple times, I highly recommend Indianapolis. Someone has kindly broken the arms out of the long pew-like seating so you can almost lie down and sleep for half-hour stretches. Half-hour stretches because that's how frequently the train rumbles by overhead.)

Set out to find a city bus to get me to the college where the conference was. (I tried to call the bus company before I left to find out about schedules but I couldn't get anyone and there was only a very vague map on the internet)

Walked for about an hour (did I mention it was freezing cold and snowing?)

Got on a bus.

Was dropped off and told to walk a few streets over for another bus.

Got on another bus.

Was told it was the wrong bus, the other driver had directed me wrong, walked back and got on another bus.

Walked about a mile and finally found the college.

And then...at last I was rewarded! There were some other people there - Ed Young, who seemed very shy but was rather charming to listen to and April Pulley Sayre (I think) and somebody else but I was sort of dozing off by then....

And I heard - and saw! E. L. Konigsburg. A very dignified and firm lady, older than I had realized, but very authoritative and very centered. Most notable quote from her talk...."Multi-tasking is adultery of the mind". She talked about having space in life and art. It was gorgeous and worth the trip.

But the trip wasn't over. I hitched a ride with a very sweet school librarian to the nearby Half-Price Books (hey, I had to wait SOMEWHERE) and hung out there from around 5 to 9.

Then I carried my bags of books about a mile alongside a completely unlit and very deserted highway until I arrived at the bus stop at a hospital.

Did I mention it was snowing? Unfortunately, I was not alone. Despite the prominent NO SMOKING sign inside the bus shelter, I was quickly joined by about 10 smokers. So I spent half an hour sticking my head out of the shelter to breathe, until my lungs started freezing, then squishing back inside to warm up....

Bus finally arrived and I gratefully climbed on board, told the driver where I was going...."Oh, I can't take you there, they blocked all the streets off for ---- (some football rally or something).

I got dropped off in almost completely unlit streets and joined hordes of partially drunk fans.

Walked about half a mile and arrived at the bus station at around 10.

Went back to sleep on the semi-comfortable pews until 3am.

Took bus to Chicago (yeah, I know, but I had to go to Chicago to get to Champaign). Bus stops partway with broken window. Did I mention it was still snowing? Fortunately, the bus contained a fellow Texas, albeit from the western portion of the state who cheerfully proclaimed "duct tape and baling wire will fix anythang" and he had duct tape in his suitcase. Probably baling wire also, although that was not required.

Arrive at Chicago knowing I have an hour until I catch the next bus. Ask conductor I pass where bus is, as I am the kind of anal person who likes to sit right in front of the door. "Oh, that's us we're leaving". Ticket agent neglected to take into account time differences.

Arrive home around 10am and collapse.

But it was worth it all, yes.

Anyhow, the reason I am thinking of this now is that I finally located a copy of Konigsburg's TalkTalk, a book I have been longing to read for years but could never find....I have dipped into it a bit and it looks special.

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