Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wearing flowers in my hair, NATWA, and back to NY

Well, I tried to post while on vacation, but except for my two brief Blue Rose Girls posts, I wasn't successful. Although I did write the following while still in SF but never posted it, so I'll just go ahead and post now:

Ah, San Francisco. I'm having an incredible time. The weather has been phenomenal--I guess I chose the perfect week to be away from the Nor'easter-ridden East coast. Here it's been blue skies and sun (with just a few hours of rain Saturday morning)--although it's overcast today and rain is expected tonight. I've seen pretty much all of my friends I know in the area--friends from college, friends from Taiwan, my brother and cousins, have met up with Sean Beaudoin (author of Going Nowhere Faster) and illustrator LeUyen Pham (Whose Toes Are Those and Whose Knees Are These?), and agent Nathan Bransford. Am meeting up with Laura Rennert and Caryn Wiseman from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency tomorrow for tea and Samovar, and have also met up with Rita who happened to be in town at the same time (my friend through coincidences). Have gone to many a cafe, read and enjoyed one whole adult book A Perfect Mess (I hope to blog more about this later), and two and a half manuscripts. Braved the hills and have gone jogging twice. Hung out in Dolores Park. Looked at apartments with my friends who just moved back from Hong Kong. Have had Thai food, Vietnamese food, Taiwanese dim sum, Chinese dim sum, comfort food, burritos, crepes.

It's been so luxurious spending a whole week here getting to know the city, having my cousin Jeanne's place in the Castro as my home base. I've never lived in SF, just the East Bay, so I've really been getting to know neighborhoods I'd only ever been to once or twice before. As always, when I come back to visit, I wonder what my life would be like if I lived here. I think it would be pretty darn great. I'm loving the weather and the city and seeing all of my old friends. Of course, I love living in New York, but who knows what the future will bring.

Tomorrow night I'm celebrating my last night in SF with whoever can come out, and then am heading up to Seattle Friday morning.

As always happens when I go on vacation, work explodes. I've had three manuscripts with offers on the table either right before I left or while I've been here. Connie has been great holding down the fort. I have a lot waiting for me when I get back.

And what I haven't had much time to do is blog, unfortunately. But I had a brief window of time just now and thought I'd check in.

And now I must check back out. More later. Here's hoping
that Spring returns to the Northeast by the time I get back on Monday.



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In Seattle I attended the North American Taiwanese Women's Association (NATWA) Annual meeting. Last year I attended for the first time as a panelist, invited to speak about Taiwanese American Women in Publishing along with two authors I work with, Grace Lin and Justina Chen Headley. This year I attended as, well, an attendee. My mother is a former president of NATWA, and last year asked me to attend. I greatly admire the organization's mission statement, and also appreciated their attempt to reach out to the second generation, or as they say, the 1.5 and 2.0 generation, because they've rightly realized that if they don't do this, the organization is doomed to die with the membership, mostly in their 50s and up. So they formed NATWA II. Last year was the first year, and they had about 15 of the younger generation attend. This year they had about twice as many, and it was great to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. To be honest, I wouldn't have attended if my parents didn't both come. In a way, I was "guilt-tripped" to come, or as we say in Chinese, it was my instinct to be "guai," or obedient (although it's interesting to note that I always thought that this word meant "good"). But now, after attending two years in a row and meeting the amazing women who attend, I think I'm hooked. Next year the conference is in Los Angeles, so no doubt I'll go and make it a trip "home" at the same time.

After the conference I had lunch with my aunt and my parents (my father attends the conference in support of my mother as well--apparently, every year more and more spouses attend, which I find wonderful), and then spent the afternoon with Justina. She brought me to the Greenlake area; the weather was perfect for a jaunt around the lake, and then an iced tea afterwards. Then incredible sushi at one of her favorite restaurants, and then back to her beautiful home for a glass of wine by the fire and great conversation.

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And now I'm back from Seattle to an almost uncomfortably warm NY. When I left, I was still wearing a winter jacket, hat, and gloves; today I wore a summer skirt, no leggings, no coat. I came back to an office full of bright yellow plastic crates and everything in chaos. I came back to almost 200 emails, some last-minute acquisition duties, another celebrity proposal, meetings, and panic. Stayed at work till about 9 pm packing and preparing meeting materials. Trying to purge almost 8 years of work accumulation, and cram the remaining into 4 crates (I think I'll need at least 6). Lugging books I don't want to part with home on the bus. Looking at my submission pile, wishing I could have responded to all of them before the move, instead of having to pack them into boxes.

We have to be packed by 1 pm on Thursday. Then they disconnect our phone and our computers, and then we show up for work on Monday morning in the new office. This is my second office move (the first being from Boston to New York), and my seventh time moving my office/cube. I'm a moving pro, but I'm also a bit of a pack rat, and as this is the first time I'm moving from a larger space to a smaller space, I'm having some trouble. But I'm trying to be ruthless (although not too ruthless, as I've learned from the book A Perfect Mess!).

I'll try to post before and after pics soon. Goodbye Rockefeller Center, Time and Life Building, the cafeteria on the 2nd floor, Radio Music City Hall, my office, the walk through Central Park to and from work. Hello Grand Central! I'm not sure what the new office will bring for me yet (except for a cubicle--groan), but I'll have more to report after Monday.

5 comments:

Nathan Bransford said...

Great seeing you in San Francisco, and good luck with the move!

saramoohead said...

Good luck on the dark side! I hear the offices have nice new carpet.

lisagreenwald said...

Alvina, good luck moving! It's always stressful but once it's done, it feels energizing to be in a new place.

stacy said...

Welcome back. Good luck with the move, too. We moved offices about a year and a half ago. It was just across the street, but it was quite a production, so I know how you feel. Which files to keep, and all that--such hard decisions! I went from a big cube to a slightly smaller cube, myself, and it was hard to know how much would fit.

The easy part about our move, though, was that I could just take my plants and favorite books out to my car, and not have to worry about public transportation. That's about the only advantage to not having a good public transport system, being able to haul large amounts of stuff. :)

J. Patrick Lewis said...

Apropos of nothing at all, Alvina, I wanted to share with you my admiration for school librarians.
I meet so many of them on author visits. Anyway, here's a new sonnet:

xo, Pat

School Librarian Day
April 4

The School Librarian

A sign hangs on her door,
BOOKLYN, NEW YORK [sic]
WE OPEN UP THE MIND
YOU’LL NEVER CLOSE!
When you walk in, the whole library knows—
A welcome bell hums like a tuning fork.
She’ll tell you what to read and what to skip.
You name a book; she heads right to the shelf.
The rumor is she’s read them all herself.
No one has ever run a tighter ship.
These days, a job like hers is electronic
Because computers answer every need.
Librarians belong to a new breed.
But here at Booklyn, isn’t it ironic?
She still treats books like they are dreams come true.
And you had better treat them that way, too.