If you live in Toronto and you’re on any social media platform, it would be hard to miss that Judy Blume was in town earlier this week. There were pictures of signatures, far away images and many exclamation marks. The queen of children’s and adult literature graced Canada with her presence on Monday and Tuesday while in town to promote her new book, In the Unlikely Event.
9:05am I knew I was going to see Judy Blume. I had a ticket to her Toronto Public Library event that evening, so I was kind of prepared, but then I got to work Monday morning and opened my email. In it was an email from Judy Blume’s publicist that read, ‘A Toast to Judy Blume’ with instructions to come to our newly minted large boardroom at 10:15 to toast the talented author we all fell in love with at ten years old. I’m not going to lie, I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. After eight years of working in publishing, I’ve met many people that I admire and I get a thrill out of it, but this was Judy Blume. Judy “freaking” Blume.
10:10 I walked into our boardroom and from a distance I could see her standing in the lobby of our publishing house. Then I shook and then I cried a little. I even poured a little bit of mimosas on myself.
10:15 She walks into the room and I’m about 5 feet away from her. I am dying inside.
10:16 The toast begins where we all acknowledged the talented woman she is and how much of an impact she’s had on us as children, teens and adults all over the world. Her response was so humble and genuine, she smiled with grace and beauty as we all gushed. She sings the praises of George, her husband of thirty-five years, who is clearly more to her than just a partner, he seems to be her best friend. She’s then shown the I Heart Judy Blume buttons and she seems embarrassed but humble.
10:20 She gets behind the desk to sign books and everyone scrambles to grab a copy of In the Unlikely Event and an I Heart Judy Blume button. Two lines form, confusion ensues, we all figure it out. Luckily, I’m in the line near the beginning, you know, “lean in” and I’m going to be like the 9th person she meets. I counted.
10:24 I get up there and tell Judy Blume that I had a hard time deciding what to wear to meet her. She looks at my dress and proclaims, “oh dear, you make an excellent choice”. She then says, “I feel so silly, because I wore the same shirt as I did that’s on my book jacket”. We laugh. I tell her how much I love her and she says thank you and proceeds to sign my name and the words “Love, Judy Blume”.
10:25 I walked out of the room and make a gawking face to my pal beside me. Did that just happen?
10:30 Run around to every one around me and talk about our Judy experience.
10:45 Sit back down at my desk and “try” to answer emails.
11:53 Get a call from my Mom in London, England, because she thinks she spots Ryan Gosling at the villa their visiting, which is equally as beautiful as the Ryan Gosling doppalganger she has spotted.
12:49 She has taken a photo. It is not him.
2:00 Meet with Judy’s publicist and the other team members who will be helping to operate the Judy Blume Toronto Public Library event that evening. Determine that my role will be to leave at 4pm to go flap books and be the picture taker at the event.
4:00 Leave office to head up to Yonge and Bloor to get a bite to eat before the big event.
4:30 Head over to the TPL to see an already huge line of other die-hard Judy Blume fans.
5:00 Grab a set of post-its, a sharpie and start walking through the line asking people their names to flap the book.
5:05 Answered several questions about how others could get their hands on an I Heart Judy Blume pin.
5:30 Line is flapped, now just walking past crowd who are so, so excited!
6: 10 People start being let into the Appel Salon to take their seats. I stand by the women handing out the buttons to just see the excitement on people’s faces
6:40 Take my seat.
7:00 Judy Blume comes to the front of the room with host Rachel Giese.
7:01 Judy gets introduced and receives a standing ovation.
7:04 A conversation between Judy Blume and Rachel Giese commences and they talk about her influence, how she categorizes her books, the movie Tiger Eyes (that she made with her son), her children, the events that inspired In the Unlikely Event, George and more.
7:40 The Q&A begins. People gush. People cry.
7:45 I run to the back of the room to take my photo taking place.
8:05 Judy Blume is brought to the back of the room to sign books.
8:06 Her sharpie is in place, she raises her hands in triumph and says “okay people, let’s do this!”
8:10 People come up to meet her and I take 6-8 photos on everyone’s iPhone.
9:20 I have not dropped one camera or one phone. Huzzah.
9:45 The line is coming to an end.
9:50 Everyone is gone, but the publishing crew, the library staff and Judy Blume and her husband. We know she’s tired and that she has a busy day tomorrow, but her husband insists on taking a photo on their camera. That’s right people, Judy Blume has a photo of me on her camera. This fact alone, weirdly gives me so much joy. Sam, our lovely publicity intern manages to get her phone in this mix and we get this incredible picture of us with Judy Blume.
9:51 Judy Blume raves about how amazing the night was and how much fun she had meeting her Canadian fans. She tells us about the day she has planned tomorrow. Up early for Canada AM and The Social and then it’s home for a vacation and then off to the UK in a week.
9:54 We thank her for everything and say goodbye.
9:55 I force Sam to stop what she’s doing and email me the picture on her phone.
9:58 Jump in cab and head home.
10:30 Go to sleep thinking that this is a day I’ll never forget.