Friday, July 28, 2006

Best. Mac and cheese. Ever.

I was excited for my Boston trip, not just because I'm seeing a bunch of old friends, not just because it's my first trip up there with Sachin, and not just because we're going blueberry picking and blueberries are my all-time favorite fruit. No, I was even MORE excited for the trip because we were able to squeeze in a quick trip to Silvertone last night for the best mac and cheese ever. It's creamy, the spiral pasta is perfectly cooked, the bread crumbs on top are crispy and seasoned, and the greens on the side get slightly wilted and are perfect that way.

Have I mentioned that I love the mac and cheese at Silvertone in Boston? It's one of the reasons I was sad to leave Boston, and I haven't found any mac and cheese as good in New York yet, and believe me, I've tried. Even went to the new mac and cheese restaurant S'mac in the East Village, but although it was solid, it just didn't compare. The closest I've gotten is by making it myself, but seeing all the butter and cream and cheese that goes into it was too gross for me. Sometimes I don't want to know what I'm eating.

Suggestions welcome. A few people have recommened the mac n cheese at Brother Jimmy's, so I'll have to try it. And yes, the fried mac n cheese at Mo Pitkin's is great, too!

We're at Grace and Robert's beautiful apartment right now, heading to brunch soon, maybe to Johnny D's for their jazz brunch. I haven't been there in a long time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another book quiz...

This one was more difficult than the last, but still pretty short. I haven't read this book, have any of you? I lifted this from an old post from this blog that I've visited a few times, and no, I don't know who E for Editrix is.

Which literature classic are you?

Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose. You are a mystery novel dealing with theology, especially with catholic vs liberal issues. You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that learning is essential in life.
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No Candy and Me

It's been a week and a half since my birthday, but I wanted to say thanks to everyone who made it a great birthday weekend, even birthday week. I don't actually care too much about my birthday, but then again, it's nice to throw a party, and it's nice to see and hear from family and friends. I used my 2nd annual rooftop birthday party this year to also start raising money for Fred's Team. As I've mentioned, I'm running the NYC marathon this November and am raising money for pediatric cancer research. I'll be starting my big fundraising push after I run the half marathon in NY at the end of August, but in the meantime if you want to help me out by donating, you can do so here. I'm running in honor of Grace Lin's husband Robert, who was also the inspiration for the Robert's Snow fundraiser that raised over $100,000 for the past two years. We're not having that fundraiser this year, so if you want to contribute, please donate for me running over 26 miles!

I raised $431 dollars from having a raffle at my party (thank you to everyone who contributed), and when added to the internet donations, over $600 (raffle money isn't yet online) so far. So I'm closer to my $2500 goal. A great birthday present! And on my actual birthday, Sachin surprised me with tickets to see The Producers and took me to a wonderful dinner at Gramercy Tavern--the perfect cap to the perfect weekend, which started off with a cupcake surprise from Grace.

But all that wasn't what I was intending to post about...what I really wanted to post about is CANDY. Candy, candy, candy. For the past two years, I've eaten tons of candy at my birthday party. Most of my friends know why, but a few asked me, "What's up with all the candy?" Well, here's the story. About five years ago I went home for the Christmas holiday. Whenever I go home to Southern California, my mother inevitably takes me to a new doctor or two she's seeing. It may be reflexology, chiropracy, or accupuncture, etc. At any rate, this trip she took me to see two different doctors, and as they were pushing the pressure points on my feet and measuring my energy levels through my fingers, respectively, both doctors asked, "Do you eat a lot of candy?" "Uhhh, well, no, well, maybe, well..." Well, yes, actually, I do. At that time, up until recently I had been roommates with Grace and Jon, and we all loved candy and sweets. There would be pound bags of Smarties everywhere, chocolate, sour candy, nerds, everything. I also had a candy drawer at work, and would eat candy throughout the day. I've always had a sweet tooth, partially spurred, I think, because my parents never had sweets in the house and forbade me from eating candy. So of course I ate it every chance I had.

Well, even though part of me suspected that my mother had tipped off both doctors, I realized that I really did eat too much candy, and it couldn't be good for me. So I decided to stop. Just like that, cold turkey, as one of my New Year's resolutions. I had guidelines, of course, and I didn't give up sweet things altogether, just candy. Candy was defined mostly by whether or not something was found in the candy section of the supermarket, and also by the intent. For example, mints were okay, because the intent was to freshen my breath. Also, if it was an ingredient in another type of food, it was okay. So, for example, I could eat chocolate chip cookies, or even cookies with M&Ms in them, or ice cream mixed with Butterfingers, because the candy in those examples was secondary to the main ingredient. So for one whole year, I didn't eat any candy. None. And to be honest, to my surprise it wasn't that hard. It was hardest when the candy was free (it's extremely hard for me to resist free food of any kind, even when I'm not hungry), such as in the many candy dishes people had at work. So anyway, because I did so well I decided to continue my resolution the following year, but as a reward (because a lifetime without candy seemed a dark life indeed) I decided I would eat candy one day a year, on my birthday. This proved successful, and for the last three years, for my last three birthdays, that is what I've done. (The picture above is from my birthday last year.) I start eating candy at midnight the night before my birthday, and continue until midnight the night of my birthday. And I enjoy every piece. This year, I started with Grape Heads that my friend Mat bought me (under my specific instructions--I had spied them in a convenient store on the corner of the where he was staying at the time). I also overdosed on Rainbow Nerds, chewy Spree, Bottle Caps, SweetTarts, M&Ms, this funny "make your own ice cream cone" candy (pictured here) that Saho brought me, and more. I think I'll continue this resolution for as a long as I can. I enjoy the candy more that way--I don't take it for granted (although I must say my teeth and sides of my mouth do take a beating). It has been tempting to watch my coworkers eat the candy in front of me (I've been bringing the leftover candy into work--and there's still more!). But I AM STRONG! I AM WOMAN! And I like to abide by the rules of my own making.

On a related note, CANDY AND ME is a book by Hilary Lifton that I read a few years ago. It's a "candy memoir" about her life and the role candy plays in it, and it's funny, poignant, fully enjoyable, and a book I totally related to. I liked it so much that I went to the Web site for it after finishing the book, and even posted a few of my own candy memories. Mine are about Alexander the Grape (now called Grape-Heads), and Sugar and Jello Mix. See them here. The author got my permission to print my Alexander the Grape candy memory in the paperback edition of her book, but I'm a little ashamed to say that I haven't actually bought/seen a copy to check to see if it's there. I will, though!

I'm going up to Boston this weekend to visit with Grace, Anna, Libby, Meghan, and Linda (I hope), and I'm going to overdose on something similar to Alexander the Grape--it's small and round and cute and delicious: blueberries! We're going blueberry picking. Perhaps my next post will be Blueberries for Al.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blog wishes (and caviar dreams)...

I wish I knew if I even wanted people to read this
I wish I knew what I wanted to do with this blog (personal? professional? a weird mixture like it is now?)
I wish I knew what people would like to know about (tell me!)
I wish I could post regularly (I can, I should)
I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller
I wish I was funnier (What did the monkey say when the train ran over its tail?)
I wish I knew HTML
I wish that people who read my blog would buy the books I wrote about :)
I wish I had thought about all of this before starting a blog

(answer to joke: "It won't be long now!" yeah, I know, groan.)

The word "wish" is looking funny to me right now, like it's a made-up world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vegas, baby, Vegas

I had used the title (Vegas, baby, Vegas) in the subject line in an email I sent Sachin when we were planning the trip, and weeks later he asked me if it was a line from a movie. Uhh, helloooo? Swingers! But he had never seen it, and thought it a weird coincidence that I used the same exact line as his friend who had sent out an email about his bachelor party a few months earlier. Anyway, Swingers was actually on tv while we were there, but we only caught the end of it. I love that movie.
Just wanted to share some pics from our Vegas trip for, as I mentioned earlier, my brother Felix and his wife Erika's renewal of their wedding vows. The ceremony was sweet and silly and appropriate, and we had a fun dinner afterwards at Quarks, the Star Trek-themed restaurant where we had a little too much to drink and got a bit nauseated afterwards on the ride.

Sachin and I hiked to In-n-Out on our first day there--had to do it (his first trip--to both Vegas and In-n-Out). I didn't think we could walk there, as I had always driven there before, and other people expressed doubt that we could walk there as well, but as we were carless, we took on the challenge. It's hard to walk in a non-pedestrian-designed city, and it proved to be an adventure, but we made it there and back (had to climb up the sides of a freeway overpast to do it), and it was worth it.

Also ventured out with my parents to Old Town/downtown Las Vegas, where I had never been. Pretty cool. Overall, I ate too much, drank too much, sat in the sun too much--in other words, the perfect vacation.

Now on to my birthday festivities!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another star

I'm very happy with how the books I've edited have been received so far. This year I had four starred reviews for four books: Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley, and Firegirl by Tony Abbott. I got more good news last week: Firegirl got its SECOND starred review!

So I'll take this opportunity to write about Firegirl just as I've written about Year of the Dog, Nothing But the Truth, and others.

This one came to me the traditional way, from an agent, but the interesting back story to how that came about is that it was sent to me because the agent, George Nicholson (a legend in the children's publishing field) was impressed with the work I had done to acquire Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown, which was represented by his then assistant, Paul Rodeen. So I would never have gotten the opportunity to work with Tony if I had not met Peter at that illustrator party so many years ago. I like thinking about what events and connections had to have been aligned in order for something to happen.

So George sent Firegirl along to me. Tony Abbott is fairly well-known for his commercial, paperback-original series with Scholastic, The Secrets of Droon, but Firegirl was something completely different. I don't remember what George said when he sent it over, but I do remember sitting in bed one night and starting to read the manuscript. I had no idea what it was about (I generally don't like to read cover letters before diving into the manuscript, which sometimes has proven problematic because there is oftentimes a due date or other pertinent information in the cover letter)--and I actually thought it was going to be a science fiction or fantasy novel, partially because of the title, and partially because the agent must have mentioned that his previous series was fantasy. At any rate, I had that delicious feeling of anticipation when you start to read a book or watch a movie that you know will be good but you have no idea what it's about. I distinctly remember feeling my heart beating faster because I was realizing the manuscript was special from the first few pages, even before getting to the part where Jessica joins the narrator, Tom's, seventh-grade class. I remember actually laughing out loud at Tom's fantasy sequences and thinking, wow, that's what I do. That's how I think. And then came the part where Jessica joins Tom's class, and that sealed the deal for me. Jessica, you see, is a severe burn-victim, and ultimately this book is about how her presence, even though she's only there for a short time, changes Tom's life forever.

My initial impression was right--this manuscript was special, from beginning to end. I found it to be compelling and quietly powerful, most of all because it was a novel that showed that even the smallest of gestures can make a powerful difference in a person's life. I brought it that week to our editorial meeting, where another editor wholeheartedly and passionately loved it as much as I did (thanks, Sara!), propelling it to our publications committee meeting where it went on to easily be approved. It was really interesting to see how much the novel touched everyone, and more than one committee member recounted a similar instance in their childhood that affected them.

We signed Mr. Abbott up to a two-book deal, and I hope Little, Brown will be his home for his literary fiction. Firegirl took very little editing on my part--my comments were all very small ones, and the changes that Tony made were subtle. It came to me in almost perfect shape, so I cannot accept any of the praise that it has been getting, except to say that I recognized this beautiful, wonderful book. Aside from its two starred reviews, it's received many other glowing reviews, including this one. Some say it has Newbery potential, but I'm not even going to dare to hope, although I certainly think it deserves it! (Then again, I think all of my books deserve Newberys and Caldecotts. Someday, someday... it's on my list of things to do before I die.) Oh, and since I'm talking about this (literally) beautiful book, I would also like to give props to the designer Tracy Shaw for the perfect jacket design.

Tony is working on his second novel now which is due out next Fall of 2007, and I'm very excited to say that although it's completely different, it's wholly as wonderful. I have no doubt that he is a future Newbery winner many times over, and I know he has a long, incredible career ahead of him. I'd be honored to be along for the ride!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Trudging on.

I did the full park loop the morning of the Fourth. I didn't wake up as early as I would have liked, because I had gone out on the lower east side to hang out on my friend's rooftop and drink beer. (Also saw Devil Wears Prada that night--liked it! It was exactly what I wanted/expected.)

I wasn't going to go out that night, because I knew I wanted to run in the morning, but I also don't want to start resenting my running. After talking to some people who have trained and run the marathon, some commented that they never want to run it again because it took over their lives. I don't want this to take over my life. I don't want to regret or resent entering. Then again, I also don't want to die when I actually run it. Everything is about balance.

I left my apartment around 9:30 am. It was 79 degrees out when I woke up half an hour earlier, and 81 degrees and rising when I left. But it didn't feel as hot as Saturday--it was overcast and pretty breezy. But I still felt like I was wading through water, sluggish, slow. But as I ran slowly around the Park, I realized that it's so much more rewarding if it's hard. That's obvious, I guess, but when I'm running after not enough sleep, 60% humidity, rising thermometer, I feel that I'm accomplishing something more. Like acquiring a book when the negotiations were a struggle, finding new love and hope after your heart was broken, writing that editorial letter when you didn't know where to start, having fun at a party you didn't want to go to, making it work in a brand-new city or brand-new job. One of the most beautiful moments of my life is getting on the ferry to Cosa Mui in Thailand about 9 years ago after a grueling 10-hour, crowded, uncomfortable bus ride from Bangkok. After waiting, exhausted, in the ferry station for about an hour, we finally got on the ferry to the island and suddenly everything was transformed. The water was impossibly blue, the sky equally so with perfect white fluffy clouds. We could see schools of glittering silver fish skim the surface of the water, and life was good.

My brother and his wife are celebrating their five-year anniversary this weekend in Las Vegas (101 degrees and counting!). They've had some challenging moments in their marriage, especially in this last year, but they've said that will make this celebration that much sweeter. I'm looking forward to being there to share it with them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Yeah, I'm still at the library and it's pretty quiet, hence the multiple posts and web surfing. This was a REALLY short quiz.

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


I saw the movie Wordplay last night--it had been recommended by several friends, and it seemed like my kind of film: Wordfreak meets Spellbound, with Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton thrown in--how can you go wrong? Despite the fact that for some reason the volume in the movie theater was uncomfortably loud (I watched half of the movie with my fingers in my ears--am I just getting old?), I found it utterly delightful and inspiring, even touching (one woman talked about losing her husband to a heart attack right after the annual crossword tournament. So sad. ) I don't do crossword puzzles myself, but I found myself involuntarily answering some of the clues in the movie. Maybe I'll check out Monday's NYTimes crossword puzzle. Oh, one thing that bothered me about the movie is that parts of it felt almost like an ad for the New York Times--I had to wonder if they helped fund the movie or something.

And just to give a quick running update: I was able to go to bed early last night and wake up this morning to run before coming into work at the library where I am now. I think I need to start actually scheduling in my training--I hadn't run since my symbolic 26 laps over a week ago. I ran past my coworker Sarah in the Park--she's also training for the marathon.

I got a late start so didn't do the full 6 mile loop as planned, instead cutting out the bottom loop and running a little over 5 miles. It was only 75 degrees out at 9:30, but it felt hotter. I guess I'll have to start running earlier to beat the heat.

Happy Fourth and long weekend, everyone!