Thursday, October 27, 2005

Food and life

**Retrieved from Friendster blog**

Starting last Thursday night, I attended three formal, catered dinners in a row, spanning two coasts: The Guthrie Awards/Huntington's Disease Dinner (in NYC), the SJSU Homecoming Gala and Gold Awards Ceremony (in San Jose, CA), and then Denise and Roy's wedding (in San Francisco, CA).

Aside from adding an inch or two to my waist (great food!), I felt that each event was inspiring in its own way.

The Guthrie Awards, Main course: prime rib and shrimp 
At the first dinner, the 9th Annual Guthrie Awards Dinner, my boss was one of five honorees, along with the Time Warner Book Group. I had attended the dinner three years earlier when Paul Simon was one of the honorees and enjoyed myself, so this year when Megan extended the invitation, I jumped at the chance to support her and see her celebrated, and also to attend a nice event, even though I was to fly out to SF early the next morning.

Megan was being honored for her commitment to publishing books that celebrate the diversity of the world and focus on social issues. It was heartwarming to see that an organization outside of the publishing community looked upon the work we did as being valuable and important.

Megan's speech was well-written, powerful, engrossing, and touching, as she talked about her son Leo and how he was on his way to being a compassionate human being. Listening to her speech also made me think about my own career. When I had first interviewed with Megan over six years ago, I remember being so excited talking to her, because I saw even then her commitment to publishing diverse voices, and that was extremely important to me.

I see children's books as a powerful vehicle for influencing young children, and making a difference in their lives. And even though I'd like to think that the greatest reward for my work is knowing that children are reading and loving the books I'm working on, it was also nice to see that it can be rewarding in a formal, public way as well. And I have to admit, I want to see myself up there giving a speech ten years from now. I want to do great work, and I want to be recognized for it.

The dinner was also inspiring in another way--Nora Guthrie (Woody's daughter) spoke as well, and she was so exuberant and scattered and funny, and her talk left me feeling like I had just been given a pep talk about life. Two things in particular: 1) There is so much more good in the world than bad, it only just doesn't get reported as much, that there is really no reason to be depressed. I have always believed this, but it was nice to be reminded. 2) everyone should try to love as many people in their lives that they can, that at the end of it all, we aren't going to be judged by whether we found a cure for cancer or wrote an award-winning book, but by the number of people we've loved. It was a nice sentiment.

SJSU Homecoming Gala and GOLD Awards Ceremony, Main Course: fish 
The next day I flew out to SFO and then later that day drove down to San Jose State University with my cousins Jeanne and Rich. My sister-in-law Erika was being honored as a Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD). Incredible. When you think of how many people graduate each year, and then multiply that by ten, and also consider that she is a fairly recent graduate (2004), it's an amazing honor. Erika was being recognized for her work as a crisis counselor and client advocate with the YWCA Rape Crisis Center, as co-founder of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, being on the board for the Pro-Choice Coalition of Santa Clara County, and much more. It was great to see her honored and go up on the high stage with her image projected on huge screens. The night was also surreal because Dana Carvey was the entertainment--he was really hilarious, actually, but random. It was quite an enjoyable night. And it made me realize that I need to do more. I'm in a period of my life right now where I'm concerned about having fun, enjoying life. But I know I need to start to focus again on doing good, on accomplishing something worthwhile, helping people.

Denise and Roy’s wedding, Main course: pistachio crusted sea bass 

Dsc04867And then the next day was Denise and Roy's wedding. Denise is a friend from when I lived in Taiwan, and she is also a UC Berkeley grad, although we didn't know each other there. Roy went to my HS, although I didn't know him well. (They were introduced by another mutual friend).

It was an interesting night, because people from different circles had collided--I had friends there from HS, college, Taiwan, and also my parents know Roy's parents, so there were a few of the older generation who I knew as well.

I was feeling a bit down about the wedding at first--my best friend Jen was unable to go at the last minute because she was on-call (med student), so I was without my "date." I was treating James as my pseudo-date, but I knew he was going to leave a bit early. To be perfectly honest, I'm tired of going to weddings alone. Even when I was dating Will, he never traveled with me to weddings of my friends. Being the only single person at my table was tough, even though I had other single friends to hang out with. As usual, I fled to the bathroom during the bouquet toss. I hate that sh*t! But I loved seeing old friends, the alcohol flowed, and in the end I had a ton of fun. And most importantly, it was so wonderful seeing Denise and Roy so happy and in love. I remember it wasn't so long ago that Denise was a somewhat bitter, single, thirtysomething [correction from Denise--"I am the founder of the bitter twenty-something single women group"--her attitude changed when she hit thirty]. There's hope, people!

 This was also the first trip to CA in a while that made me actually want to maybe move back someday. Staying with Jeanne in the Marina was awesome. We walked along the water to the Golden Gate Bridge my first morning there, and I Dsc04881jogged the same path my last morning there. I had fresh, steamed crab at Fisherman's Wharf. Took the BART into Berkeley and walked on campus. Met up with old friends. I could see that being my life. Then again, when I got back from Montreal I wanted to move there, and the same when I got back from London, so who knows. 

Home, Main course: popcorn with rosemary olive oil 
And now I'm back in NYC and am reminded why I love it here so much, despite arriving in the freezing rain yesterday. Today was a beautiful, sunny, cold fall day. I went jogging in Central Park with Rose tonight—I never jog in the dark by myself, so it was a nice treat. I love the city at night—it’s quieter, the lights are beautiful, the city seems cleaner. Sometimes I think I could live here forever. Then again, maybe in a few more years I'll get restless and need to find someplace brand new to explore. I’m open to the possibility. I wonder where life will lead me. I wonder what I'll eat for dinner tomorrow.

 October 27, 2005

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