Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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MARCH 16, 2012 1:02AM

Tonight's OS meet-up

Rate: 44 Flag
As I exited the train and followed the crowd up the stairs and into the grimy, restaurant-packed underground halls of Penn Station, I realized something right away: since my last trip to New York two years ago, I may just have become a bit of a country bumpkin.  
There are certainly crowds in Paris - but unless you, say, try to navigate the sidewalks outside the Galeries Lafayette, there is nothing particularly ruthless or extremely fast-moving about them.  That was not the case here.  I emerged onto Eighth Avenue and almost got shoved out of the way. I used to be the shover - well, at least in my mind - when I lived here.  I picked up the pace.
I was a little early for the meet-up, so I strolled around, taking in the energy of New York.  Shops open everywhere, music and radio DJ banter spraying out of their doors, people texting while walking, eating while walking, talking while walking, no one was still, not for a moment.  Signs lit up and their electricity seemed to animate the air.  I started to move faster as memories and new impressions rushed at me all at once.  A crowd at the corner of 34th street felt surprisingly dense and huge, but I kept on for a while, then turned and retraced my steps.  A few minutes later, I passed under the Hotel New Yorker's charming Art Deco sign and arrived at the door of Cooper's Tavern, our designated meeting place, chosen by super-talented meet-up organizer Richard, Mr. Cranky Cuss himself!
The reason I took all this time to describe my impressions of returning to Manhattan is that it occurred to me that I could describe the meet-up the same way. It was big, it was crowded, it was full of energy - and it was wonderful!  It was so exciting to meet everyone in person, and there were a lot of them there to meet: Richard a.k.a. Cranky Cuss, Sharon a.k.a. dirndl skirt, Eva T. Made Vaudeville and her Lady Lucia, Joanne Harper, Jaime Franchi, Frank Apisa and his pal John, Erica K., Seth James, and Sally Allen.  
While we thought regretfully of those OSers near and far who couldn't be
there with us, it may have been for the best.  Because while the next three hours were truly delightful, there were just so many darn people to talk to!  I needed more time!  I told Jaime, Seth, and Cranky as we were leaving that the next big meet-up should be an OS sleepover!
Even so, I'm happy to say many fine conversations still were had, and many laughs as well.  
Whenever I read about a meet-up, I'm always intrigued to find out what the people involved are like in real life.  So here are my impressions:
Cranky/Richard is as kind and jovial as he is in his writing.  He's witty and charming, and also very unassuming.  And he has this hatred for styrofoam that I had not heard about before.  Luckily, no one asked to take away a meal...  I am an even bigger fan of his now than before - and I was already a pretty huge fan.  
Sharon (dirndl skirt) - Dressed stylishly in a French mariner sweater, she was kind and soft-spoken, with an air of wisdom about her. I was so impressed by how many places she's traveled to, and how she's seen Paris evolve over several decades, in her visits there.  She has an unstudied elegance that might have been intimidating to someone like perpetually frazzled and frizzy me, but when she agreed business cards for cats would be a good idea, I felt much better.
Eva T. Made Vaudeville and Lady Lucia - Eva has often told me she thinks we look alike. When I met her in person, I had to agree.  Though she's got a far nicer shape than me, and vastly superior eyebrows.  Lady Lucia is Eva's partner, whom she often speaks about in her posts.  LL is charming and has a dry wit. The two make a very nice couple, with so many interesting things to say.  I also found out that Lady Lucia used to do battle reenactments, like my boyfriend - only hers were for the Revolutionary War. Still, roughly the same time period - and now I know someone else who owns an historic replica musket that's almost as big as they are!
Joanne Harper is as sweet as I'd imagined. I just wanted to hug her all the time! She's also just as concerned about animals in real life as she is on her blog; we discussed a lot about current developments in the Caboodle Ranch case, and also about Kaco, a cat who desperately and urgently needs a home. If you live in the metro New York area and can take him into your life and heart, please let her know - this cat really needs someone.
Jaime Franchi was possibly the biggest surprise of the evening for me.  I've long admired her sharp, polished prose, and though she's always seemed nice, I thought she'd be a little aloof.  In fact, it was just the opposite: She's a hilarious, high-energy, extremely friendly girl from Long Island. Impossible not to love.  
Frank Apisa was the second person I recognized in real life, after Cranky.  He looks just like his avatar, and is as puckish in real life as he is on OS. He circulated around, joking with everyone, and was a lot of fun.  I have also never heard anyone over 16 defend the Twilight books with as much fervor.
John - I didn't know John before the meet-up, and unfortunately he left early, but he seemed quite a match for his friend Frank!
Erica K. - I was prepared to enjoy Erica K.'s company, especially after having read about her recent meet-up with fernsy (whom we all spoke about, wishing she was with us, too, and wishing her luck with her ongoing legal struggles - fernsy, I hope you felt the good vibes).  I was not disappointed.  One thing that did surprise me, though, was how polished she looked, with sleek hair and impeccable clothes.  Her avatar picture's a bit blurry, so I think that's why I wasn't expecting the smooth, defined lines of her.  I am jealous - I could never in a million years have my hair look so perfect.
Seth James is not only a prolific short story writer (penning a piece every week for the OS Weekend Fiction Club), he's also extremely tall, highly intellectual, sardonic, and very generous.  And he's obsessed with sharks...but that's another story. : - )
Sally Allen looks like her avatar, yet more doe-eyed. I envy her those eyes - she's like the Anne Hathaway of OS.  I knew she and I would have a lot to talk about, and we did indeed, and as we were talking, what surprised me was that she curses! I have no idea why that surprised me, because in her posts, she can talk about the most complex book in a fun way that makes it accessible, but still...I guess I just didn't think she'd curse.  Not that she cursed like a sailor. She probably sad two obscenities all night.  But the fact that she did, made me like her even more.
It was so incredible to meet all of these OSers in person. I'm still reeling from it.  I can't believe it happened.  And then  - it was over so fast - a run to Penn Station, saying goodbye to Cranky, then Seth, en route as they hurried to their rides home, then Jaime and I battling our way through the mob leaving Madison Square Garden after a hockey game, then a quick hug with Jaime and a rush to the platform my train was leaving from.  I got in, sat down, the doors closed, and soon the meet-up and Manhattan were behind me.
It seems like a dream.  Here are a few photos I kept looking at to prove it happened (I know I didn't take a lot, but for those of you who asked for pictures, other people took some and will be posting them soon, too, I think):

group photo
Group photo, taken by a waiter who seemed very pleased with his work...even though Seth and Lady Lucia's heads are blocked.... (Left to right, starting with the back row: Frank Apisa, Jaime Franchi, Erica K., Joanne Harper, me.  Next row: Richard/Cranky, Sally Allen.  Next row: Sharon (dirndl skirt), a mostly obscured Seth James.  Front: Eva T. Made Vaudeville, with the partially blocked Lady Lucia just behind her.)

Jaime, me, and Richard at the end of the evening.

Seth James and me.

A big Thank You to everyone who came to the meet-up, and a heartfelt "Wish you were here" to those who couldn't.  
And an extra special MERCI BEAUCOUP to Richard for organizing the whole thing!

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So, so, so cool. Loved the photos!
So cool to see you all!
It looks like a good time was had by all...and I'm glad you had safe journeys across the pond, Alysa!
Have a great trip while here visiting one of your 'loves'.
I love how you begin this with your re-entry into Manhattan. I can imagine, after living in Paris, it's rather jarring to see people doing so much multi-tasking all the time! And eating while walking--is that officially a crime yet in France (lol)?

It was wonderful to meet you and all the OSers. What a great group of warm, interesting, and fun people! I'm so thankful I could be there!
Now I'M jealous! Thanks so much for sharing this! I've never been to a "meet-up" but always love seeing the real-life photos of the people I read on OS. And how cool to be in New York!
Sitting her at home like Cinderella and feeling immensely envious at not meeting so many cool OSers. =o)

Thanks for the report, Alysa!
This was the TMZ of meetup posts: photos, dirt and photos.
great post about the OS meet up of the year ( so far)
OMg what a gathering and what fun it must have been going to NYC and having this. I am sure it was a grand time for all and I wish i could have been there. Everyone looks in fine form and more including yourself.
Cheers and more!
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
This was amazing...kind of forget that all of us are real, with arms and legs...just a dazzling post!!
Next time . . . .
I hitch my mule
& tie to a post
& go heehaw
What beauty
What memory
Thanks. Share
Great post! Love to see the faces behind the stories.~r
In the spirit of the halcyon days at the Algonquin...sounds fabulous. Feel like I was there now.
A good looking group. The fun parties always end too soon.
Hey next time you're in New York, let me know. I'm only a four hour drive away. Looks like a good time was had by all.
A fine-looking group.
Alysa, that was a huge turn-out for last night's meet-up! Cooper's Tavern was also the location for the meet-up last August and I thought the restaurant had a nice ambiance. I'm hoping to meet you next time you come through the NY area!
Oh, what a night! And you made the report so entertaining, Alysa, I again burst into sobs of jealousy and regret. [sniffle]

I can't believe you posted that horrible picture: at least you have nothing with which to blackmail me now. Let's see, vengeance time, shall I photoshop Alysa wearing a "Bush/Cheney 2004" shirt or maybe you spray painting "I love freedom fries" on the Eiffel tower? Hmm, maybe both . . .
Jealous!!!!! We need to do one of these out here in Northern California! I love seeing my friends "in person" :)
Looks like you all had a good time. It is so cool to place the faces with the names. Thanks for sharing this moment with us. R
I'm glad you had such a good time. Lady Lucia and I did, too. I know what you mean about that intense Manhattan energy. I thrive on it. Miss it now that I'm living in a semi-suburban part of Brooklyn.
I never thought my eyebrows were anything special but thanks for the compliment. As for figures, yours is like mine on a much smaller scale, which I find more attractive but, sadly, very few women like their own bodies.
OS Sleepover! We will need to tell ghost stories. Seth's will be funny.
How I envy that bottle of kethcup and that uninhabited suede jacket(To the right of dear Dreidel-- Jaime's jacket judging by the next photo) Was waiting on this post like mad and fell asleep right before it was posted.
What a bunch of beauties. Seriously, such appealing people all from one internet website? Hard to believe. Alysa, your face is just so damned cute and full of stuff. I bet that ketchup wanted to just jump on all of you --cause ya'll look delicious.

Erika is not slovenly. Very pulled together. True. Also she's a sweetheart. One of those good hearted people with tons of humor.
Jaime looks gorgeous. Like a funny flapper. Am a big fan of hers for awhile, and suspected you and her, and her and anyone would get along. Must now check out Seth James-- What a fun and dashing looking fellow. So great to see Cranky and Dreidel and then all the other lovelies that I have yet to discover.
Thanks for the sweet mention, Alysa. Very appreciated. I am hungry for more and hope the feed is full of such posts for awhile. You have wonderful eyebrows and a fine shape too, Alysa. Great intro too. Must be very jarring to be back. xo
So sorry not to have been able to make it!
What fun. Welcome home.
Awesome! Let me know if you ever get to the Denver/Boulder area!
Alysa~ you will never be "a bit of a country bumpkin"! I love hearing your impressions of hitting the street (the ability to "merge" over "shove or be shoved" is my litmus test to "am I still a New Yorker?" The game changer is all those texters who gum up the works). Wish I had gotten a chance to chat more w/all of you, but it was fun, and Alysa you are too gracious!
Merci beaucoup to you, my dear! I never thought I had perfect hair or impeccable clothes, but I did try to look my best to meet my OS pals. big hug to you! -Erica
P.S. I look like a gun moll in that photo, LOL.
Great great great! These are so much fun! Glad Cranky didn't choose the Port Authority this time.
Is Frank Aspia hot or what??? He looks like an older James Dean hahah
Cranky you are still num ber one with me..:)

vastly superior eyebrows>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>??????????:)

That made me giggle..
I wish I had been there.
Linda, Frank is a looker. The avatar photo doesn't do him justice. Has a great tan too.
Ha! Me, aloof?? I wish. I wear my heart on my shirt, pants, and flapper jacket. Loved seeing, meeting you all. Fernsy you were the talk of the town, babe. And after 2 glasses of wine, I heard myself telling Frank how hot his gray hair was. At work, will try to post something later, sweet Alysa.
@fernsy: Dashing? You're too kind but you should see me in my hat.
Alysa, you are so sweet and bubbly and full of life! It was so wonderful to meet you and everyone else in person last night. Everyone was so warm and funny and interesting. And Cranky isn't cranky at all!

I loved your introduction about coming in to New York. You truly captured the city's energy, and you are a very special addition to it!
Just missed by a week! (But I have a feeling we may meet across the pond sometime soon.) Beautifully evoked.
Wonderful to hear your impressions of not just your fellow OSers, but of hitting the Manhattan streets for the first time in ages. I used to visit the city regularly but do so less frequently now, so now I am always startled by the energy.

It was great meeting you, of course, and you were just as I imagined. And I've met the delightful Frank and Sharon before. It was especially wonderful to meet all the others, several of whom I've encountered infrequently before on OS but who now feel like friends. With every one of these meet-ups I attend, I am always surprised - but shouldn't be! - by how generous, warm, smart and funny OSers are.
Wonderful to read your post and see the pictures of this lovely group!
Fabulous! Now I so want to come back to NY.
Hey, Alysa!

I had a great time...and I want to thank you for coming all the way back to America just so we could have a party. Yer gorgeous--"the boyfriend" is a lucky guy.

My plans for last night were to spend as much time with all the good looking ladies of OS...and to get as much a buzz as possible using Vodka, now that I am not doing MaryJane.

The great looking ladies were plentiful and I talked with 'em all (although I did hog some of 'em in the back part of the "L" table set-up)...but the buzz never kicked in. Gonna try harder next time. Lots harder.

Next meet will probably be during warmer weather...and we will use the Frying Pan...the Big Apple's foremost outdoor venue. I only took a few pix...and two of them did not come out. I will try to post the ones that did a bit later.
Alysa: Just wanted to repeat how thrilling it is to see you here and how I look forward to our meeting VERY MUCH . Wish I could enlarge the font on these comments. I was more there in spirit than I can admit without looking full of bathos. How cute is the Cusster?
Sean: You are a cutie and even finer in that hat. I don't think I can spell it right but just the right amount of.... insouciance.
Jamie: Really? Hope only nice things ;(. Hear you on wanting to be aloof but getting overtaken with freindliness and effusiveness. You have a great face.xo
Thanks for the pictures!
So wonderful! Glad you could all meet up! A sleep over sounds like a good idea for next time!!!!! You all look wonderful, fun, alive with enthusiasm and remarkably like NEW YORKERS!!!!
This was so great. I felt like I was there. Thank you for making OS seem so much more real. /r
I also wish I could have been there. Your happy snappy's make it real and it is a pleasure to see these faces. Thanks for posting.
Alysa, you are a born mixer, networker, netplayer, and empressaria! I've known only a few people who are such a nucleus, so magnetic to others. This was a fun, fun, fun post. I really feel like I was there partying (ok, maybe as the waiter).
What fun! Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.
Seth, I think you look very distinguished. =o)

Lunchlady2, sounds like fun!
Alysa: very sorry we missed each other in Paris last fall. Next time.
Despite the fact that it stuns me that you all appear to have survived Richard's typically too forward behavior (he did did did dump me at the Port Authority when I refused to put out) I am delighted you had a great time.

i'm really, really regretting not going to new york for the meet-up. so many people i'd love to meet! maybe next time.
Bravo! Wonderful post and great pics. Jealousing here, but when I fully recover I will host another Philly one and/or travel anywhere.