Canadian Adventures: Rochester, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Toronto

Sunday 3rd August

We got up early on Sunday and had breakfast at Pershing Square – where we often eat breakfast if we’re in New York as a family. It calls itself the ‘busiest breakfast in New York’ and I wouldn’t argue against that! The food is good, portions are generous, and turnaround is quick.

Having packed up the rest of our stuff, we went to pick up the hire car at the airport. Delays ensued but we finally got on the road at about 11:30, and began to leave the city behind us. Some of the views back at Manhattan from the north were beautiful, but I felt another pang of sadness when the last tips of skyscrapers and glimpses of bridge down the Hudson finally disappeared.

 

Where are we going?

Where are we going?

Rather than taking us straight north, through some of the scenic bits of upstate, our Satnav took us west through New Jersey. It was quick, but…scenic? Not so much. We even got as far as crossing into Pennsylvania, before we finally started heading back North. At least I can add two more states to my checklist, which now stands at, er, 7/50.

My almost namesake

My almost namesake

As we re-entered New York State, the heavens opened. It was the most prolonged, and worst, rain I’d seen since being in New York, and it lasted for ages. We bypassed Syracuse – not much point in stopping if we couldn’t leave the car without drowning – and carried on to Rochester, which was our earmarked destination for the night. We stopped briefly at a service station when the rain became too heavy to drive in, and watched people running, screaming from their cars.

We used the service station WiFi to find a place to stay in Rochester, and ended up at a lovely little hotel in a quiet, tree-lined street full of large detached houses with yawning front porches, and which generally felt like a million miles from NYC. A late dinner was followed by the best night’s sleep I’d had in months.

Cosy fire outside

Cosy fire outside. And a TV?!

Monday 4th August

My birthday!

We had a lie in, and then had a late breakfast. Sitting by the window, with the sun streaming in, Rochester innocently pretended that yesterday’s rain hadn’t happened. After all that’s happened in the last couple of months, it felt like a very odd place to be waking up to on my birthday, but not in a bad way. We packed up soon after, and hit the road again.

IMG_5643

Rochester to Buffalo was a drive of about 45 minutes. They call Buffalo the ‘architectural’ heart of New York, and this proved true by some of the impressive buildings we saw. More impressive however, were the famed Buffalo chicken wings I ate at lunchtime. I’m remembering them now, as I write, and can hear my stomach rumbling. Why don’t I have any right here?!

CHICKEN WINGS

CHICKEN WINGS

Next up was Niagara Falls which I was very excited about. We’d heard that the Canadian side was by far the better viewpoint, so instead of driving up through north-west Buffalo, we went south-west and crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada. The queues to get across the border were huge, and everyone seemed to be going from the US into Canada, rather than the other way (it felt a bit like we were fleeing a natural disaster or something). Eventually we got across, and I set foot on Canadian soil for the first time in my life. It was in a customs car park, but still.

CANADIA

CANADIA

 

 

We drove on to Niagara. It becomes clear when you’re nearing the Falls by the sudden increase in volume of cars, touristy shops, and big hotels. When we looped down another road, the roads were immediately full of people, and beyond them, our first glimpse of the Falls. We parked the car and then walked to join the crowds.

It’s easy to see what brought them there. Horseshoe Falls was directly in front of us, with American Falls to the left. Between them, a fifth of the world’s fresh water flows over a height of around 51 metres. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was very impressed. I don’t think photos can really do it justice – it’s something you have to see in person. I did find it funny to see the boats way down below, which take tourists in waterproof ponchos up close to the Falls, where they get soaked through and scream. After walking up and down, taking it all in (and confirming that this side had the much better views than if we were in Buffalo), we set off for Toronto.

P1170461

 

P1170485

 

Would not want to be on that boat. Would you?

Would not want to be on that boat. Would you?

 

About 30 minutes after we set off, the rain began again. And got worse. And worse. And worse. By the time we’d reached Burlington on the Queen Elizabeth Highway, the traffic had slowed to crawling, and then stopped completely. We thought there must have been an accident ahead – it later turned out that they had to shut the highway because of flooding. In any case, plans for my birthday meal in Toronto quickly evaporated. Instead, we passed around a pack of Cheetos and some popcorn as we inched our way forwards over the course of three hours. By the time we got to Toronto it was midnight, and we had to drive around before we found a hotel that had space for us. All the roads seemed to be undergoing construction, which made it difficult to get around. We eventually found a hotel, and were just thankful to be off the road. It was certainly a birthday to remember!

Eaton shopping centre

Eaton shopping centre

Our time in Toronto was brilliant. The next night, I was treated to a great birthday dinner at Canoe restaurant, which is very high up with a great view over the city. We did some of the touristy musts – including the CN tower, Eaton shopping centre, Chinatown etc – as well as plenty of wandering around, seeing the Toronto University campus (beautiful), and I just enjoyed a switch off from the intensive months of the course. My mum and I also spent a day at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, where we saw some great matches and players, from Djokovic and Dimitrov, to Berdych and home favourite, Raonic. We rushed to the practice courts to see Federer too, of course. On our way to the tennis we walked through York University campus, to be confronted by a sort of big, tailless beaver thing. It ran right up to us and got up on its hind legs, and up close I recognised it from my trip to the Natural History Museum as a groundhog! I was mildly concerned that touching it would result in rabies, but the people around us were encouraging, and said that it was the local neighbourhood groundhog, Len, so I petted his head. Realising we had no food, Len moved on a passing family, whose daughter shrieked and tried to hide in some bushes, as if she were being approached by a bear.

View from Canoe

View from Canoe

 

 

Night!

Night!

 

 

 

City Hall

City Hall

Campbell House

Campbell House

Chinatown

Chinatown

Justice building

Justice building

 

Len the groundhog

Len the groundhog

 

 

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Rogers Cup

Rogers Cup

 

ROGER!

ROGER!

Too soon, it was time to fly home, only to find our flight delayed. We eventually set off from Toronto at around 11:30pm on Friday – after enjoying the pretty snazzy airport, where every table comes with an iPad – and arrived back in London the following day. The sun was shining, which almost never happens when you come back from holiday!

Arriving home again felt a little surreal, especially because the last two months haven’t really sunk in yet. My task for the rest of the weekend was just to sleep, rest, recover before going back to work on Monday.

To be continued!

Hey, London

Hey, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New York Publishing Adventures: The End of the Columbia Publishing Course 2014

British/American Dictionary

Gnarly – I think we might use this word here too. It’s used to describe something as either difficult or unpleasant, but can also be used to mean good. E.g. ‘that vodka was gnarly’ = bad vodka.

Burglarized – this one makes me laugh. It sounds much funnier than ‘burgled’, because it makes it seem like the homeowner is the active participant in the verb. It also makes me think of burgers.

Monday 28th July

After the relaxed weekend, it was something of a shock to have to get up early, in time for the 9am career fair (how on earth am I going to get used to getting up at 6:30 again for work!?), and also to dress in a suit.

The career fair took place between our lecture theatre and Stabile, the ground floor common space, both of which had been filled with rows of tables. In fact, it looked a lot like a book fair layout, helped by the fact that every major publishing house and magazine had a stand there, from Penguin Random House and HarperCollins to New York Magazine and Condé Nast. The idea is that students go round to tables of interest, network like their life depends on it, and try to impress the company representatives enough that it might lead to something; from the publishers’ point of view it’s a meat market of promising potential employees.

I wasn’t sure how to manage it myself, not actually looking for a job. I decided to just go to the companies that interested me, to strike up conversations. Cue a few HR people to glaze over the instant they realised I was a) employed and b) British.

Nevertheless, I did have some fun discussions. Jordan Hamessley from Egmont USA compared notes with me on our favourite books set at sea, and I cooed about The Fault in Our Stars with the Penguin Random House table. At Condé Nast, I used my internship in the London office to start a conversation, which was in large part a ruse to grab a branded lip balm from their table. The amount I use lip balm, this should last me the best of a decade. There were two awkward conversations. One, with New York Magazine, when I realised halfway through that I’d been referring to it as The New Yorker (I smiled and excused myself); the other was with Scholastic, whose HR person told me they weren’t accepting resumés to look at, and that I should go into IT if I wanted to get hired (I gleefully told her this wouldn’t be necessary).

Later in the day, Jon and I went to get a few bits that we needed, and headed to the top of 5th Avenue, not a long journey from the dorms. A fruitless trip for me, but good to get a break from campus. We got back, got dinner, and joined Ryan, Carolyn, Gaia and Melissa to eat it. It was then time to get ready, because the evening was Carolyn and my joint birthday celebration!

My birthday (4th August) and Carolyn’s (5th August) would be after we’d left the city, so we thought it would be fun to do something to celebrate with our new friends while we could.  I’d booked the rooftop of Pera (the place in Soho we ate at a couple of weeks previously, where we inspected the roof), which, much to my surprise was free, on condition of a minimum spend. I was a bit nervous about this until I realised that 50 thirsty students would get past the limit no problem!

A bunch of us set off together from the dorms, and arrived bang-on 9pm, where some of the others were already waiting for us. We went up to the roof where the night-time view was absolutely stunning: the imposing Freedom Tower to the south; the bright lights and skyscrapers of midtown to the north; some rich people in their swanky apartments just across the road (bet they regret floor-to-ceiling glass windows now!). We had a fantastic night. Gaia and Melissa bought a flashing pink crown for Carolyn, and a disco, Brit-ish, tophat for me, as well as a cake with Jon and Ryan. I gave Julianna my camera and tasked her with taking photographs. The ones that would prevent my friends from finding employment are not included here. The cocktails were great – and they made a few of them ‘extra special’ when they knew it was my birthday – and it felt very New York!

Uptown view from Pera

Uptown view from Pera

 

Downtown view

Downtown view

 

 

Birthday hat! With Melissa and Alyssa

Birthday hat! With Melissa and Alyssa

 

A healthy table of drinks!

A healthy table of drinks!

 

Olivia, Ashley, birthday girl Carolyn, Laura, Xian, and Alyssa

Olivia, Ashley, birthday girl Carolyn, Laura, Xian, and Alyssa

The rooftop closed at 12. We briefly stopped in at SOBs, which was closing, but also probably wasn’t our best choice of club. Instead, we went back to campus and continued celebrations on the 3rd floor until the early hours, and until some of my friends accidentally locked themselves out of their apartment. Sitting in the corridor waiting for the warden person to come to the rescue, we were suddenly sleepy, and the night drew to a close.

Tuesday 29th

After a sleepy morning, I had to get over to the Upper East Side for 2:30, to help move furniture. That evening, the class of 2014 was invited to Christopher Cerf’s house for dinner, the very final CPC event, and another tradition for the course. His house, in a beautiful spot in the 60s, was apparently full of things that would need clearing to make space for the party.

Alyssa, Sam, J.D. and I got there, with Shaye, Stephanie and other helpers, to find an amazing house which did indeed have boxes and things everywhere. We cleared space in the main room downstairs and in the amazing library room upstairs. The process was fun, mostly because we kept uncovering Emmy awards that Christopher has won, scattered about the place (as you do), and rare and beautiful books, including some first editions. I wish I could include pictures here, but I don’t think I should!

Once finished, there was an awkward amount of time left to get back to campus and change etc, so I decided to stay out, and had brought a change of clothes with me. Alyssa and I wandered up to the Park, and sat by the zoo for a little while, before walking past the Conservatory Water with the tiny sail boats, where jazz was playing, up to the 80s. Alyssa went off to get ready and I looped back, further in the Park, and sat down to read.

Conservatory Water

Conservatory Water

I read for too long, and had to hustle to get back to the house in time. I realised I was all sweaty and still in my shorts and t-shirt, so dashed into Bloomies to get changed in their fancy restrooms. More appropriately attired, I headed back, bumping into Alyssa again on the way.

The party itself was great, with a crowd comprised of this year’s class, some alumni, speakers from the course, resource people, and some other guests. It was a great mix, and a really fun occasion. I made several trips to the snack tables, where treats included mini-chicken skewers, and chips and dip, ably assisted in the snacking by Julianna. The outside patio was particularly popular, as there was more space to mingle, which I tried to do as I realised it might be the last time I see some people for a very long time. After what felt like far too soon, it was time to leave, and the 140(?) strong group began filtering to the sidewalk, after thanking our host profusely. People began splitting off to go different ways. A bunch of us (Marc, Kira, Ryan, Erin, J.D, Andrew, Xian, Claire, Nicholas, Concepcion, Mackenzie, Sam, Nicola, Mary) walked to a nearish bar where we spent an hour or two, around long tables and a glass of wine. Again, too soon, it was time to head home, and begin the awful process of goodbyes 😦

Okay, one photo of the Cerf party. I can't claim credit for this one!

Okay, one photo of the Cerf party. I can’t claim credit for this one!

People were still up back at the dorms, so I joined the living room of 5B for a while, though some more goodbyes beckoned.

Wednesday 30th

Wednesday was a strange day, as people started to leave the dorms in earnest. Melissa had to leave at 7am, and I’d gone to bed before she’d done her farewells, so I missed getting to say goodbye to her. In a way I think this is the way to do it, so it’s less like a goodbye at all!

I escaped all this by going to the Natural History Museum with Marc, his friend Jamie, and Jon. We met at the small mammals exhibit, and they scoffed at my lack of knowledge about North American wildlife (who knew that groundhogs are real things?). We saw the large mammals, though we were just as interested in the scenery as the animals, and it struck me how little of America I’ve actually seen, having never been to those sprawling landscapes that the museum was showing.

All the fish

All the fish

 

 

Rather large whale

Rather large whale

We saw the marine exhibit and, of course, the dinosaurs, where we got up close to the T-Rex. I asked a man standing there to take a picture of all of us. His badge said that his role was ‘fossil advisor’ and he seemed a bit miffed that I’m asked him for something as trivial as a photo. He was even less happy when I asked him to take it again (he had cut off the T-Rex in his first attempt. Photographer, he ain’t). After that, we took a break outside and ate hot dogs in the sun.

Friends and a T-Rex

Friends and a T-Rex

My parents called to say they had arrived in the city, so I headed back to the dorms briefly before setting off to see them at their hotel in midtown. We stayed in the room for a while, catching up on the last two months (it seems like it has been much longer but also like it has flown by without me noticing.

I went most of the way back up to campus to have dinner with Ryan, Jon, Carolyn, and Gaia at a pizza place. Later, Gaia, Ryan, Jon and I went for a wander round campus, and sat by the Alma Mater statue until much later than we’d intended to, but everyone wanting to spend time together before Gaia and Carolyn’s departure the next day.

Thursday 31st

To thank us for helping to move things at the Cerf house, Shaye took J.D. and me to lunch across the road. Shaye’s holiday was the next day, and you could see the visible relief etched on her face – if anyone’s due a holiday, it’s her! We talked about the course, but also about New York more generally, a little about Shaye’s career, the future, and upstate New York, which I’m about to see for the first time. Lunch – a steak sandwich and some watermelon-lemonade – was fantastic. We walked with Shaye back to her office, then it was time to say goodbye to her and to Stephanie. Shaye made me promise to come back to New York soon, and to visit when I do, so I guess that’s one of my trips for next year sorted!

My parents came up to visit campus after that, giving me just enough time to clean my bedroom. After inspecting my digs, we had a walk round campus, which meant I could introduce them to Carolyn, Jon, and Ryan, before they headed back to the hotel.

Gaia and Carolyn were busy packing up their last things. We surveyed the scene in their flat, with Cara, Leora, Jess, Olivia, and Alexis. I went to get Chipotle with Gaia and Alexis just before Gaia and Carolyn had to leave. Goodbyes were bad – big group, a taxi waiting, people crying. It was different for me, knowing I’ll see Gaia and Carolyn soon in London, but still hard. We stayed in the road, waving, until the car was out of sight.

Jon, Ryan, Alexis and I went to sit by the statue – becoming a regular spot in the last few days – where we found the owl hidden in the Alma Mater’s robes (it’s a thing)

Friday 1st August

I went to see my parents again on Friday morning, and take some of my stuff over to their hotel. Jon was moving things into his flat, so we shared a taxi. After dropping off my stuff, stealing some of my parents’ food, and buying a questionable chicken sandwich, I helped Jon take his bags over the Brooklyn.

The journey didn’t take too long, through traipsing through the streets with suitcases wasn’t ideal. We spent some time on the roof of Jon’s apartment block, enjoying the views back over Manhattan, and had time for a quick sample of the ping pong table before we set off back to the island, stopping at Grand Central Market for food on the way.

Manhattan in the distance

Manhattan in the distance

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

That evening, we had our final rooftop gathering on Hogan Halls. It was fun to have most of the remaining group together, but I was also sad at the prospect of not seeing them again for a while, and at the course being over. Between leaving the rooftop and going on our night out, there were plenty of individual goodbyes to be said, which didn’t help the sadness factor. Actually, some supervisor lady came out and shouted at us and told us to get down from the roof – turns out we were never meant to go up there, whoops. Do we care?

Goodbye, Hogan rooftop!

Goodbye, Hogan rooftop!

Our final group heading out – me, Ryan, Julianna, Jon, Cara, and Alexis – had to walk twenty blocks, as the 1 train wasn’t stopping from 103rd to 116th. We went to midtown, to Beer Authority, directly opposite the New York Times building. The rooftop had just closed, but we still got a peek at the view, before bagging a big table downstairs, where we were joined by Maggie, and later by Dmitriy.

Julianna, Ryan, Alexis, Dmitriy, Jon and me. Maggie the photographer?

Julianna, Ryan, Alexis, Dmitriy, Jon and me. Maggie the photographer?

We had a good time, and I was tutored in perfecting the New York accent by Maggie and Julianna, though I still need some work, I think. After goodbyes to Maggie, Cara, and Dmitriy, the rest of us headed back, in a fairly sombre mood. Julianna, already moved out of halls, had the unenviable pleasure of staying on our couch.

Saturday 2nd

I left very early on Saturday morning. We had to be out of the dorms by 11, but I was going to have breakfast with my parents, and I was also keen to avoid the trauma of more goodbyes. A slight crimp in the plan was the intense stomach pain I woke up to at about 4am (having gone to bed at 3), which kept me awake on and off until I got up at 6:30.

Jon was leaving at the same time, so we carted our luggage down to the reception area. We gave Maria, the night shift security lady, big hugs because she was the nicest person you could hope to meet. She said that it if we’re ever in trouble in New York, we should come back to her here. Mild concern that she thinks we might be homeless, but a really sweet offer.

After two months of sun, New York chose that moment to reproach me for leaving, and unleashed the rain clouds. We found Marc and Jamie by the door to the street, and we all just stood there, slightly numb from sleep, without an umbrella between us, wondering how to do this. Summoning energy, we shuffle-ran down the street and across the road to shelter under the awning of Book Culture, then Jon and Jamie went to hail a taxi – both going to LaGuardia. Mercifully, there were lots of taxis, so they got one quickly, and we had time for a brief goodbye before they were off. Marc and I returned to Book Culture to regroup, before venturing to the curb again. Another cab followed suit, I said goodbye to Marc, all of us soaked through by this time, and left Columbia.

By the time I got to my parents, I was feeling much worse, with a full on cold descending. I promptly fell asleep and woke up again at 11. We had a slow rest of the day, venturing to the Boathouse at Central Park when the weather got better. In the evening, Ryan and I met up at Bryant Park, before having dinner with my parents there – quite fitting it was the first and last place I visited on this trip to New York. After my last goodbye of the course, to Ryan, we went back to the hotel for the final sleep in NYC.

The Wallaces and Ryan

The Wallaces and Ryan

 

So that’s it! I had the most incredible seven weeks, and an experience I’ll never forget. To anyone thinking of taking the course in 2015…do it! I’ve come away with incredible contacts, and got to meet some amazing people in the industry. Most importantly of all, I’ve come away knowing over 100 people who will be going into publishing, with whose careers my own will certainly cross many times, and I’ve made some brilliant friends.

I want to go back to one lecture briefly, the one with Joanna Rakoff, the author of My Salinger Year. The book documents her first year in publishing, as an assistant, and how she responded to J.D. Salinger’s fanmail. I started my blog before I got into publishing, and stopped after I got my job at Penguin, which wasn’t so much a decision, more that I didn’t make the time. Listening to Joanna, I wish that I’d documented my first year in publishing, and while I can’t go back and do that, I can promise to keep up my blog and document my second year in publishing. So among everything else it’s done for me, thanks for that too, Columbia Publishing Course.

Tig

p.s. here is a link to CPC Super-Grad. Every year the USA’s main publishing news website, Publishing Trends, compiles the best parts of the students’ biographies into one ‘super’ biography. Enjoy! http://www.publishingtrends.com/2014/08/columbia-publishing-course-2014-super-grad/

We'll always have Columbia

We’ll always have Columbia

 

 

New York Publishing Adventures: Summer in the City

British/American Dictionary

Cover – When we’d go on nights out, people started talking about where had ‘cover.’ I thought they were talking about physical shelter from the elements (as opposed to rooftop, I guess?), but no. Cover = entrance fee.

Gormless – This is one of my favourite words, but turns out it means nothing over here. Which is sort of ironic. For you Americans, gormless means something between ‘stupid’ and ‘blank,’ often used to describe a facial expression.

Monday 

On Monday morning we had a class trip to Time Inc, whose offices are in the frantic centre of midtown. We all looked SHARP, in shirts/suits/nice shoes, and as we walked down the street we hoped that passing people might think us to be high-earning Manhattanites, off to our important power-jobs in the city. After passing security and getting our badges, (and going in two wrong entrances), we had to navigate three separate elevator banks to get to the 8th floor. A big sort-of ballroom had been laid out for us, and we claimed some tables, where we found Time goodie bags waiting for us. Free things = happy CPC students.

Jon and Melissa inspect their swag

Jon and Melissa inspect their swag

The editor of InStyle, Ariel Foxman, took to the stage with our classmate Lia, to be interviewed. He talked about making the move from Random House to magazines, and was passionate when he talked about his job. At the end, he took a selfie with all of us:

Ariel Foxman selfie!

Ariel Foxman selfie!

After that, we were split into groups and began a tour of various magazines/departments in the building, which was akin to a trip through Wonka’s chocolate factory with the complexity of corridors and lifts. The offices are beautiful though, and it was great to snoop around and get insights from the employees who talked to us. Below are some sneaky photos that I’m 100% sure I was allowed to take. At one point we were shown the samples room for InStyle, where the junior editors work. The majority of the room was heaving with shoes, bags, accessories, clothes – all thrown together in piles of chaos. The assistant casually introduced the interns who were sitting to the side, and explained that their job was to list the stock of the samples that come in. The interns turned to face us with harried looks, fear and pain upon their faces. We left.

What even.

What even. I mean, how?

 

Time filming studios

Time filming studios

Other highlights of the day included a tour of some of the Time archives – including milestone moments like the JFK assassination and coverage of Princess Diana’s death – and seeing some of Time’s most famous photographs, and, of course, an Oscar. We then had a speed networking event in our original room, then it was time to head back to campus.

Time's Academy Award for the documentary 'The March of Time' in 1937

Time’s Academy Award for the documentary ‘The March of Time’ in 1937

That afternoon, our speaker was Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year which we all got a copy of from Knopf. She was alongside her editor, Jordan Pavlin, who opened the course what felt like months ago. I’ll talk a bit more about this in my next post.

In the evening we the publishing director of Bloomsbury USA, George Gibson. He said that you learn more as an assistant if you start at a small publishing house, and don’t get much exposure to other departments if you start at a big company. As an assistant today, I totally disagree!

Tuesday

I’d been looking forward to Tuesday for a while, because it was time for me to say hi to friends at Penguin! I arrived at 345 Hudson, got my pass and made my way upstairs, where I talked to the receptionist, Tito (“Hey, Tig is kind of like Tito”) until the lovely Julia came to get me. Julia is the editorial assistant for Puffin US, so she is pretty much my closest equivalent over here. She introduced me to Eileen Kreit, the publisher of Puffin, and I set up camp in her AMAZING OFFICE WITH THE BEST VIEW WHAT.

Eileen's view. She claims it is possible to do work in here

Eileen’s view. She claims it is possible to do work in here

With the straight on view of the Freedom Tower, I couldn’t help thinking about 9/11. As if she read my mind, Eileen told me about how she was here when it happened, and saw the whole thing through the window. It still gives me goosebumps.

Eileen introduced me to loads of people in her department, including Dana, the assistant editor who I email all the time, and designers, and the MD of the Children’s Division. I then got to sit in a fun Covers meeting, where I got a sneak at lots of upcoming titles and also saw some new Classics covers – Classics being the project that I work on with the US team. I wandered around (guided dutifully by Julia) to see other people I knew in the Viking team, and got to say hi to Jill Santopolo, who was one of our wonderful resource people during book workshop.

I spent most of the rest of the day with Julia and Dana, comparing notes, chatting and generally preventing them from doing their work. We may have arranged some book swapping… It was great to meet them!

Wednesday

In the morning we had more talks from HR people, then our website/magazine evaluations. Ours went well, but there wasn’t a whole lot for me to say, as they didn’t go into much detail about the story ideas. After that was Sherry Hour, before a fun panel in the evening, comprising of last year’s alumni.

The plan was that after the panel we would all head to the bar, with the course organisers and the alumni. As the talk finished though, the skies opened with torrential rain, lightning, and the loudest thunder I have ever heard. It sounded like bombs going off, and I could feel it reverberating in my chest. People screamed and ran down the streets. Jon and I, soaked through, arrived at the bar eventually, which was too packed and noisy to hear much, stayed for one drink and left with some of the others.

THUNDER RAIN LIGHTNING

THUNDER RAIN LIGHTNING

Thursday

Another day of fun! This time I got to spent my morning at the Random House offices on Broadway. Their offices are right in the heart of midtown, a stone’s throw from the hell of Times Square. I spent the day with Beverly Horowitz, publisher of Delacorte Books, and her team. Beverly is amazing, and is a fountain of knowledge. She’s also tough – I don’t think you last at Random House as long as she has without that quality. She’d laid out some cornbread (yes!) for me and spent ages answering my questions and showing me what she has on her list, before introducing me to the rest of her team. I met the designer, Ray, who is working on Stone Rider with our designers in the UK, so I got to see the first concept of the cover, which I’d just missed by leaving home when I did.

Beverly took me to Hot Titles, a sales-led meeting which goes over how front-list and backlist titles are faring. This was fascinating to see, and some of the numbers were incredible. Later, I got to go to another Covers meeting, in a gorgeous boardroom, which meant some more sneak-peeks of upcoming titles. Set up at my own desk I had a look at some TI sheets, snooped around more books, and chatted with the Delacorte team. I had a good wander round the building too; some more pictures below! When it was time to leave – and finally let Beverly get on with some work – I found that there was a box of 15 or so books that they had put together for me. Eyes wide, they asked if they should ship it to me or give to me to carry. I chose the former. Thanks, Delacorte!

Room with a view

Room with a view

I went exploring at Knopf

I went exploring at Knopf

Breakout areas

Breakout areas

RH Children's

RH Children’s

The reception, full of books!

The reception, full of books!

My desk!

My desk!

I was back at Columbia in time for the editor of Lucky magazine, and then after dinner it was time for our final lecture. According to CPC tradition, it was given by Christopher Cerf, an all-round man of the media, one-time senior editor at Random House, and son of the founder of Random House. He was very entertaining, both with his stories of old-world publishing and his memories of the company, through to the videos he showed us of his work on Sesame Street and Between the Lions – an endeavour to teach literacy to kids. I couldn’t believe it was the final lecture, and it was just as well that we were so entertained, or it might have been more melancholy.

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The main part of the course being over meant time for celebrations, naturally. I went to the well-trusted ‘Amigos’ with Alyssa, Andrew, Roxanne, Leora, Sam, Nicola, Erin, Alex, Elizabeth, Julie, and Julianna, where we partook in bloody marys and margaritas, and shared some entertaining and vaguely worrying childhood stories. After Amigos, a bunch of us went back to the dorms to review our high and lows of the course, over some wine. Our conversation attracted a revolving door of cameo visitors: Cara, Jon, Melissa, Carolyn, and Alex. Someone wisely suggested taking the party to the roof, where we stayed until much later than anticipated, sitting around on the gravel and talking.

Sunset on Hogan Halls

Sunset on Hogan Halls

Friday

Friday morning was free, the day instead focused around our ‘Disorientation’ lecture. Shaye gave an overview of her thoughts on the course, and told us that we were a wonderful class. She got teary, to a chorus of awwws from the audience. The disorientation then became our graduation ceremony, as Shaye called us up to the stage, one by one, to receive our certificates. It was so great to see everyone going up and getting a big hug from Shaye, and it was a really fun celebration.

When it was my turn (at the end, as usual – Wallace), I got to the steps to the stage and looked up at Shaye, opening my arms as I worked out how to hug her (which arm is going where? Over or under? Do I grab the certificate first? Please don’t let this be an awkward hug), and tripped on the top step, falling flat on my ass on the stage in front of her. I wasn’t really aware of much in those microseconds, which felt like an eternity, other than the fact that the applause had died away to a stunned silence, and I looked up at the front row of people who all had frozen ‘o’s of surprise on their lips. I got up, brushed myself off (face burning I’m sure) and got a massive hug from Shaye, which made it all worth it. Someone – I think Ian? – started up a second round of applause, and there were some whoops with the laughters, so that felt pretty good. My friends, of course, were falling out of their chairs with laughter, because they are good, supportive people!

The ceremony was followed later by our final sherry hour. It was a very jolly one, with everyone taking lots of photos. We managed to get a selfie Shayfie with Shaye, which is pretty much the best photo ever.

Shayfie! With Ashley, Jon, Shaye, Gaia, and Melissa

Shayfie! With Ashley, Jon, Shaye, Gaia, and Melissa

There was one more treat to come: a banquet! Now, understand that the cafeteria has been our dear friend throughout the course, but sometimes a friend that we have wanted to punch in the face. Great meals (and regular pizza) have sometime been followed with suspicious concoctions and dubious chicken, so we were a touch sceptical about the banquet being in there. We were wrong to be. We arrived to find round tables, bedecked in white tablecloths and silverware (real cutlery for the first time – woohoo!), and some delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Carolyn and I bagged a table, and to our delight we found that Shaye was joining us too. Ashley, Francesca, Jon, Ryan, and Melissa rounded out our happy table, and Shaye’s presence meant that bottles of wine found their way to us in abundance.

Final banquet

Final banquet

The meal was delicious. Our table was hilarious, as we told Shaye about some of the things we’d discussed and done during the course, while she spilled on some of the behind-the-scenes gossip. There were speeches galore, with people standing on tables and chairs; many toasts were made to Shaye and Stephanie; people spoke about how much the experience of the course meant to them; flowers were presented; tears were shed…The whole thing was such a fitting and wonderful celebration of our time together, and though it was bittersweet to be ending the course, the mood was jubilant, anticipating the future. 3C hosted another great party, where there was some cheesy music, dancing, talking, and some more use of our lovely rooftop. Julianna, Alexis and I took a walk around campus afterwards, enjoying the peace and quiet, and the serene view from the Alma Mater statue, free for once of all tourists and students.

Saturday

A lazy day of catching up with things. Carolyn, Jon, and Melissa went to queue for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park, and got them this time! This is involved them getting up at about 4:30, while I didn’t have to lift a finger, so they are pretty awesome for doing that.

I sat around, reading and working, with Marc and Jon in their apartment, then Marc and I went to sit outside on campus to actually enjoy some fresh air. It was brightly sunny, but also raining pretty heavily at the same time, but somehow where we were sitting under some trees we were untouched by it. Carolyn and Kira joined us, but soon we had to get ready (and get snacks!) for Shakespeare in the Park.

I set off with Carolyn, Jon, and Carolyn’s friend Mike, and made it to our seats in the Delacorte theater in plenty of time for the start of the show. Gaia and Melissa were sitting further away from us so we spent some time trying to spot them. The theatre is beautiful, with a view of Belvedere Castle straight ahead, and a balmy New York evening above. It was a production of King Lear, starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening (and also Jessica Hecht – Susan from Friends). It was good, and worth seeing for the whole experience, but not outstanding. Bening fudged her lines several times which was a bit awkward.

Sunday

On Sunday morning I went for a walk in the Park, then got the subway to Herald Square. There was an amazing food market, with a variety of stalls stretching for a whole block. I did a spot of shopping, then met with Carolyn and her friend Geena. We got crepes from the market, then wandered around Macy’s, mostly for the air conditioning.

Herald Square market

Herald Square market

We got the subway down to Christopher Street to meet with Jon and Melissa for ice cream at this tiny place which served the most amazing  toppings. The others all had sundaes and I was pretty jealous. We then walked to Golden Unicorn in Chinatown where we met with Gaia and Ryan for a massive dinner, then rolled ourselves home.

The blogs aren’t over just yet – a couple more to go!

Tig x