Friday, October 5, 2012

Blogging from New York

Apple crumb cake a la mode at Veselka's, East Village...

My first report from the JASNA conference in Brooklyn.  Every minute busy, exciting, packed, stimulated - never enough sleep, body aching from hauling up subway steps and walking on punishing concrete. In the debate that's pressing to my contemporaries, the die-hard New Yorkers swear this is the only place in the world to be old, with the cultural offerings and services, you live in an elevator building and take cabs. The other group (into which I fall) says that this is the last place you'd want to grow old, it's overwhelmingly physically punishing and assaultive.  Picture me trekking back from Brooklyn to the Village every night after an incredibly packed day, dragging my heavy bag, knee aching, huge young people bashing into me so that I feel like I'm in one of those games where you have to dart to avoid collisions, and getting the worst of it. Moreover it's mortifying to remember that only a mere few visits ago I was one of the darters myself!

But the conference itself is sheer joy.  There's something about being part of a far flung community for thirty years, coming together yearly, keeping in touch via internet; it's all explosions of "THERE you are!" and "Eeek!  You are the very and only person I have been wanting to SEE!"  Here, I say in all modesty, I'm known to all and it's the only niche in my life where I approach (dare I say it!) mini-celebrity status.  And now, burgeoning out with my new play ventures, there's a walking-on-air exalted feeling about it all, which quite counteracts the ache in my subway-stubbed stumps.  So, on with the picture show...

Washington Square Park at night.  The same spot where my icon picture was taken in 1962.

Thrifting with Hunter Elementary School friend Debbie on the Upper East Side.  The kids in us definitely come out!

Grand Ballroom.  Play venue, 800 seats.  It's big!

In rehearsal.  Joan Ray as the Judge, Miriam Fuller as Mrs. Bennet

Jonathan Ross as Willoughby, Beatrice Nearey as Court Clerk (in rehearsal)

Jonathan and Miriam - Willoughby and Marianne

A dozen Austen authors at the publishing panel.  My, we look glummish!

Ellen Moody and Paul, breakfast in the Village

Syrie and English Jane Austen Society President Richard Knight

Syrie and husband Bill James, always well costumed

Me and blogger Vic Sanbourn

Sad little kittens being sold on 14th Street

Oh, would that I could take you home!

Notes on the rest...Anna Quinlen's talk was magnificent, witty, deep, intelligent, readerish, moving.  From reading Jane Austen, she said she learned that "Some women could live forever."

Other break-out sessions, Tim Bullamore,  London obituary writer, also editor of Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine, was witty; Miriam Fuller gave a rouser about "coded sexual indiscretion" in the novels.  And the day was rounded off with dinner in an excellent Italian restaurant, Queen, with a party that included by Elsa Solender (former JASNA President), humorist friend Gene Gill, simpatico Susan Schwartz, fascinating musical theater genius Amanda Jacobs, a group from Chawton House Library, and more.  Talk about stimulating conversation!  But that's life at this AGM.  Tomorrow is the play.

The weather is horrible.  Muggy, humid, foul, there are fleas.  You'd think it was Rome in August.


Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Thanks for the update for this JASNA stalker. Fleas? Bad weather? What happened to that romantic autumn in New York that we see in the movies.

I am so glad you met Vic. Syrie and Bill's plaid outfits are so clever. Glad Ellen could join you too. Have fun. best wished for the play tomorrow. Break a leg.

Cheers, LA

Rita Watts said...

Since I couldn't go, reading your blog is the next best thing! Thanks for sharing!

Jane Odiwe said...

I wish I was there-thank you for all the lovely photos! I wonder if you'll be able to resist taking one of those kittens home...

Sallie Tierney said...

How exciting to be in New York with so many Janes and Darcys! But I can relate to the fleas - we are having a terrible year for them here in the upper left hand corner. I'm in full battle mode.

Sharon Lathan said...

So Much Fun!! Wish I could be there with all of you. Keep up the reports if you can, Diana. We are enjoying the ride along with you.

Barbara said...

Whether walking on air or on punishing concrete Diana walks on to stardom! Well done.

genevievejoyner said...

Lovely blog on JANSA. I was in the emporium as a vendor most of the time....but I agree the weather was SOOOOOO "Rome in August"!!!

Susan Heim said...

I love Anna Quinlen's quote: "Some women could live forever." I've always regarded that as a great reason to be a writer!