Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays, everyone!

**Retrieved from Friendster blog**

Hey all, so it's Christmas Day (and yes, I do still say "Merry Christmas" sometimes instead of Happy Holidays, but I do prefer saying "Happy Holidays" because there is more than one holiday celebrated in December, and I'm not religious), and I'm at my parents' home in good ol' Diamond Bar, CA. It's good to be here, to relax, to make up all the sleep I've lost from working and partying and traveling and overextending myself this past year. I haven't felt this relaxed in a long long long as* time, and it's great. I can take a deep breath, relax, and revert to being a kid again.

I got the most painful "deep tissue massage" ever (was really a cross between reflexology, acupuncture, cupping, chiropractic adjustment, and physical therapy), went to see the Blind Boys of Alabama at the Disney Concert Hall (great venue), got my hair cut, played tennis with my dad (he beat me 1-6, 0-6, but any time I even win one game from him, I consider it a victory), played video games and poker with my siblings (Erika won both), woke up early this morning to go jogging (it's hard jogging in this neighborhood, lots of hills), ate breakfast with my parents, and am now waiting for everyone else to wake up.

Life is good.

We had hot pot last night, and then I got out the Peppermint Pig that Rebekah gave me for Christmas. Apparently, there's this tradition where you pass around this peppermint pig-shaped candy, people hit it with a little hammer, and then share stories of the past year. Rebekah told us this at lunch one day, and none of us had ever about it before. It was fun, though, killing that poor pig, and it started us all telling stories about the past year and our earliest memories. I don't really have any memories from before age 4. Felix has a vague memory of almost drowning when he was 2. Ben remembers peeing in his diaper?!? Felix remembered trying to stick keys into an outlet. Ben remembered having a nightmare and me comforting him and draping a Charlie Brown comforter over a chair near his crib and telling him to look at the comforter and dream about Snoopy, and he did. We told the story about Ben, as a baby, being in the back of the station wagon (funny how that was considered safe and acceptable back then, to have a baby crawling around in the back). We were on the highway, stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. We always had a bunch of old tennis balls rolling around in the back--I guess for us to play with? And at one point a car pulled up next to us and a guy leaned over and said, "Did you know that you have tennis balls coming out of your back window?" we looked behind us and saw baby Ben happily throwing tennis balls out of the window.

Ah, memories. Ah, family. I also, as usual, look through old photo albums and read old diaries whenever I'm home. It's funny to see how much and yet how little things have changed for me. How things that were so important, dramatic, emotional for me in high school and college are now so far in the past as to be almost forgotten. But they've still shaped me into who I am today. And in ten years, I'll be reading my diary about all the stuff that happened in this past year.

I love to use the end of the year to reflect on what has happened in the past year, and to make new goals and resolutions for the coming year--but that's another post.

Okay, just wanted to say Happy Holidays to everyone! If you're in LA, drop me a line, let's hang out! I'll be back in NY on January 2nd.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Editor, Editor

**Retrieved from Friendster blog**

My promotion at work became official at the beginning of December. Not to toot my own horn (okay, for exactly that reason), here is the announcement that my boss wrote about me:

As Alvina Ling started her career here as my Editorial Assistant in 1999, I am especially proud to announce she is being promoted to Editor. Alvina is a talented, committed, and passionate editor and has been an extremely valuable role model and supportive mentor to our junior staff. 2006 promises to be a big year for her as she has an impressive fifteen titles on our list and two of her picture books, Flight of the Dodo and The Sound of Colors, have just been nominated for Borders' "Original Voices" award รข€“ a remarkable feat given that only six candidates are selected each year. Alvina is a champion of multicultural literature and in the next year alone she is introducing works by six up-and-coming Asian-American, African-American, and Mexican-American writers and artists. Finally, Alvina scored a major coup this summer by doggedly pursuing and ultimately successfully luring Jerry Spinelli, author of our #1 bestselling backlist title, the Newbery winner Maniac Magee, back to LB after a nearly 20-year absence. During a discussion of one of Alvina's notable acquisitions, Year of the Dog, I discovered that she was born in the Year of the Tiger and I found the following description remarkably apt: "Tigers are sensitive, given to deep thinking, capable of great sympathy. Although they are magnetically charming and fun to be around, tigers are courageous beyond compare. Tigers are born leaders and will fight the good fight to the bitter end if the cause is worthy." It's a jungle out there in the world of children's books and I'm grateful Alvina is on our side!

So, I've known that this was coming since September, so it was a bit anticlimactic, but this achievement has been significant for me because becoming a full editor was my long-term goal when I became an editorial assistant over 6 years ago, and now that I've accomplished that, I'm a bit at a loss as to what my next long-term goal should be. I don't know how high I want to rise. There are some administrative duties of my job that I enjoy, but I would hate to have to worry about PROFIT all the time. That's not why I got into publishing. (more on this in a future post, I'm sure)

My friend Grace reminded me in one of her recent blogs that we should try to savor achievements, that when you achieve a goal, don't think so quickly about the next step:

I think I was guilty of that when I skydived. (skydove?) I was already excited to think about the next thing to add to my list.

So for now, I think I will just savor my editorship. I have arrived. I will continue to do the job that I love. I'll think about that next step later.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far! I know I've been having a blast. December is chock-full of holiday parties. Lots of yummy foodBacon_chesnuts(chocolaty baked goods, mulled wine, stinky cheeses, special holiday coffee drinks at Starbucks, gingerbread cookies, tarts, bacon-wrapped chestnuts, etc., etc.), great conversation, old friends, new friends, presents, party hopping, Christmas trees named Douglas, beautiful lights and decorations all over the city, snow, cheesy Christmas music, etc etc. Of course, it's not all fun and games. I hate the crowds, Douglas_1how slow tourists walk, a lot of the holiday music blows chunks (Little Drummer Boy--ugg), I feel like I'm constantly on the go, that I have no down time, that the time I do have is divided too thinly. But I'm going to my parents' house in CA for a good ten days at the end of next week, and I'm looking forward to the summer vacation feeling of when I was a kid. ("Mom! I'm boooored!")

I went up to Boston this past weekend for the end-of-auction (Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure) party, and once again, we ended up bringing in over $100,000 for Dana Farber Cancer  Research! Thanks everyone who participated, thanks everyone who passed on the word, and thanks everyone who thought good thoughts. I won three snowflakes myself!

This post has been somewhat rambling, so I'll end quickly with some recommendations for children's picture books that make great gifts. And yes, some of these are books I edited (*), some are books by friends (!), some are books published by Little, Brown (#), and some are not (X), but all are books I love:

Slide, Already! by Kit Allen X
Francine's Day by Anna Alter !
Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown *
Santa Baby by Janie Bynum *
Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka !
My New York by Kathy Jakobsen *
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats X
Tickle the Duck by Ethan Long #
Robert's Snow by Grace Lin !
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell #
Zen Shorts by Jon Muth X
The Peace Book by Todd Parr #
One Grain of Sand by Linda Wingerter ! #

There's probably more, maybe I'll add more later, but for now, Happy Holidays!