Right now I'm sitting across from my dad in a Starbucks on 56th Street in Manhattan. This is the third time we've come to New York together. He likes to come here because, well, it's a lot of fun to come to New York. And also because in the late 60s when he was in the army he was stationed in Brooklyn, and it's fun for him to visit his old stomping grounds.
I also really enjoy New York. The excitement and energy of this city can be almost felt physically, and I love tapping into that just by being here in its environment. But my real reason for being here is that this is APAC week.
APAC stands for Audiobook Publishers Association Conference: it's the main professional get-together in the audiobook industry. It's a time to network with both those that we know and those that we don't know: those that we've worked with and those that we haven't worked with yet. Anyone who knows me knows (or could guess) that I'm not the most comfortable in this sort of setting. I have strategies that work for me that help me successfully "schmooze" (or somewhat successfully), and I might outline them here sometime in the future, because who knows? Maybe other people could find them useful.
Anyway traveling with my 70-plus-year-old dad and attending the series of audiobook functions scheduled for this week are two pretty different states of being. And the contrast was pretty dramatic yesterday, even though there was a common theme: I was put to work.
My dad loves connecting with people from his past. He looks them up, reaches out to them, and then arranges a get-together. Yesterday he met up with a woman he'd gone to high school with, a woman who is also the cousin of my Aunt (his sister-in-law), but someone he hadn't seen since 1958. I'll say that again: 1958! 59 years ago! She is a ceramics teacher in the art department of the City College of New York, and she needed help cleaning the studio. So my dad and I took the subway uptown and met her there. For the next hour plus, I labeled containers of glaze with a sharpie—writing the contents detailed on their labels, on their lids, and listened to my dad and his old friend reconnect as they reminisced and caught each other up on 59 years of life!
It was quiet and dusty in the ceramics studio and what I had to do was very easy and simple. Exactly the sort of task that is so relaxing it is almost meditative. Don't you love it when you know exactly what to do? That was the case here. It was also the kind of job where you so easily see the results of what you're doing. Those containers had nothing on their lids when I got started, and by the time I was done they were clearly marked. I made a difference and I could tell I'd made a difference. And as silly as it sounds, I felt a sense of accomplishment because of it. There will be New York art students who will be able to quickly grab the glaze they need, because of the labels I put on those containers. Imagining that makes me smile. But eventually all of the lids were labeled and it was time for me to shift gears back to audiobooks and audiobook people. Not only that, it was time to get all glammed up and head to the Audie Awards!
I left my dad chatting with his friend, took the subway back to our hotel, put on eye shadow (that's how you know I was really dressing up!), a dress, heels, and this suede jacket that I love and headed to the Audie Awards venue. I was going to be helping out at the event, so again I was put to work. My job here was a tad more complicated. I was to escort people who'd checked in to the event at the door, down a pretty long, steep flight of stairs past the other check-in points, and then show them where the food etc was. This meant I went up and down those stairs over and over. In heels! I never wear heels! I was sure I'd fall at some point, but thankfully all went fine.
I had never attended the Audie Awards and I'm so glad I did this time. So many amazingly talented people were there. I also loved having another chance to interact with audiobook people in my quiet way. When you are a quiet person, in a noisy crowded event, it can be tough to interact with anyone. But audiobook folks as a group are kind, welcoming, and open and I had so many terrific conversations with so many amazing people.