Saturday, December 30, 2006

What I'd like to try/learn

In anticipation of New Year's I've started a list of things I want to try someday. I'll continue to update this as I think of things. Although there will sure to be overlap, this is not exactly the same as my list of ten things I want to do before I die, or my New Year's resolutions. How, I'm not really sure. I guess because I'm not putting a time limit on this, and some are definitely pipe dreams. But you never know!

Someday I'd like to try/learn:

1) rock climbing
2) mountain climbing
3) horseback riding
4) hand gliding
5) knitting (well, I've tried, but not successfully yet)
6) SCUBA diving
7) Bungee cord jumping
8) learning to drive stick shift (and remembering how)
9) a triathlon
10) going into space
11) taking a painting class
12) ballroom dancing
13) writing a book
14) flying a plane
15) water skiing
16) to play guitar
17) to play a drum set
18) being a parent
19) to make pottery
20) being in a rock band
21) playing clarinet in an ensemble or orchestra (as an adult)
22) zip lining
23) to sew my own clothes
24) carpentry
25) getting over my fear of spiders
26) HTML
27) to be a better photographer
28) cliff diving

and just for fun, here's an incomplete (of course) list of Things I've Tried/Learned:
1) skydiving
2) snorkeling
3) running a marathon
4) jet skiing
5) parasailing
6) riding a motor scooter
7) gymnastics
8) ice skating
9) skiing and snowboarding
10) playing piano, violin, clarinet, and saxophone
11) taiko drumming
12) radio news anchor, producer, engineer, and deejay (in college)
13) yoga
14) public speaking
15) marched in the Fiesta Bowl Parade
16) helped decorate a Rose Parade float
17) biking

What are some of the things you'd like to try someday?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays, one and all

As a Christmas present to himself (and the whole family, I guess), my father purchased a brand-new, state-of-the-art Karaoke machine. Now, we already had a Karaoke machine, but I guess it was time for an upgrade. (For those of you who wonder where I get my love of Karaoke and singing, it's in my genes!)

So two night ago, before waching a video, the family settled down to test out the new machine. As Ben sang U2's "With or Without You" my father looked and listened to the lyrics, shook his head sadly and said, "I can't live with or without you? Aw,!"

So true.

It's been great being back. Despite a brief bout with what seemed to be a 24-hour bug which I'm blaming on exhaustion, things are looking up. Got a massage, facial, and haircut; went shopping; am eating lots of good food; watched movies (United 93 and Pursuit of Happyness); played games; picked fruit; read; good talks. Oh, and sleep. Lots of sleep.

Merry Christmas greetings from Southern California, where it's finally warm and sunny and Southern California-like. I wish everyone happiness, health, and peace.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Adventures of Alvina and the Airport

I know it's crazy, but I think I forgot that it was the holiday season. I forgot why I went to so many parties these past two weeks, why I was eating so many fattening goodies, receiving holiday cards, I think I forgot why I was flying home. I must have, because that's the only explanation I can think of for my brain freeze.

Yesterday was my last day in the office, and I was flying out of Newark to Los Angeles at 7:35 pm. All fine and dandy, I've taken the NJTransit to the airport plenty of times. I checked the train schedule and saw that the 6:11 pm train got me to the airport by 6:38, which was a little less than an hour before my flight. Good enough, right? But since I had the check luggage due to the whole "no liquids" thing, I thought I'd play it safe and definitely try for an earlier train. In my mind, told myself I'd leave the office at 5:45 at the latest.

5:30 pm: I've happily finished an editorial letter I've been meaning to send for over 3 weeks now. It was looking like it might not happen before the holidays, but I felt good that it was done, that despite my lack of motivation this past week, I had accomplished something.

5:35 pm: Changing my outgoing message, setting my out-of-office email message, pleased that I'm doing this all in advance. Sorting through old emails...

5:38 pm: Suddenly realize that I'm planning on leaving at 5:45 pm to catch a 7:30 pm flight in Newark. That can't be right! What am I thinking?! Plus I need to pick up a prescription before I leave. I grab my stuff, yell "Bye" to my assistant and a few other people as I rush down the hallway.

5: 41 pm: I interrupt an old man talking to the cashier at Duane Reade. She is thankful for the interruption.

5:44 pm: I run onto the D train

5:55 pm: While running down 34th Street towards Penn Station, I answer a call from my best friend and gasp, "I'll call you back! I'm trying desperately to catch my train! I mean bus! I mean plane! Ahh!!"

6:01 pm: I look at a sea of people with suitcases trying to cram onto the 6:03 train to Newark airport. Sh*t. It is ONLY NOW that I remember that it is the holiday season. Holiday travel. Long lines. I look at the line, decide I won't make it on and might as well save some money to buy a ticket in advance for the next train. I look at both the super-long ticket machine line and just-as-long ticket counter line, and get in the ticket counter line. By this time, I'm sweating profusely. I take off two layers.

6:08 pm: Get my ticket, am told to go to gate 13 NOW and run. There's another sea of people trying to get into the tunnel to board. In my experience, I know there's an entrance on the other side, and once again, I RUN.

6:11 pm: Am on train, still sweating. Cram my suitcase into a little nook and settle in. Peel off another layer. My T-shirt is drenched. I feel sorry for the people around me. Will I make it? Will I make it?

6:13ish? Train departs. I decide not to look at the time any more. I'm trying to be zen. I can't control how fast the train goes. What's the worst that can happen? I miss my flight and have to go standby during the holiday season. Have the shlep from the Upper East Side to Newark. Augh. But it could be worse, I could be flying through Denver. I'm feeling pessimistic at this point. Picturing the long airport check-in and security lines. Hope that people will be calling certain flights up to the front. Wondering how I can face my mother when I call to tell her I've missed my flight. I had missed my connection during my last trip to LA--that time was not my fault, but still, this is not the kind of person I am. I'm responsible. I don't miss flights. Then again, I wonder how many times I have to miss flights before I become the type of person that misses flights.

6:40ish? Get off the train, run toward the Airtrain. For some inexplicable reason, the only escalator is going down, so I join the rest of the people and lug my suitcase and bag up three flights of stairs. Only slightly out of breath at the top--thank goodness for the marathon. Run and get on the Airtrain. Still haven't checked the time. It's out of my control, I'm just going to go as fast as I can.

Exit at Terminal C. I see a clock as I run. 6:46 pm.

Long snaking lines to check in. Damn that liquid bomb threat! I never used to check luggage. Should I toss out my liquids and check in electronically? Do I even have time for that? But I need my lotions, I need my contact solution, my prescription toothpaste, my shampoo. I get in line, looking for someone I can plead my case with. Commiserate with the woman behind me whose flight was scheduled to leave at 7:05, but was delayed 55 minutes. She isn't sure if she's too late to check in. The man she's with is looking into it. I'm kicking myself most because I know it's all my fault. The trains all lined up for me, I am not unlucky; I'm just an idiot.

I have about 15 minutes to make it to the front of the line. Will I make it? Should I be an aggressive bitch and cut in line? 5 minutes later, I've gone one row in the 4-row snake. Doesn't look good.

And then, from the heavens, I am saved.

"blah blah lines..." says an announcement.

"Skycab!" the woman says.

"Holy sh*t!!" I'm off again, trying to beat all the other desperate passengers who heard the same thing. Out the doors, into a line, I'm second in line! Look at my cellphone. 7 pm. I have 5 minutes before the 30-minute check-in cut-off. Have I actually made it? I'm am so happy for the Skycab. I am so happy I'm not one of the desperate passengers behind me offering to bribe the Skycab to check her in.

7:02 pm. 3 minutes to spare! I'm handing the kind man a $5 tip to take care of my tiny rolling suitcase, and am running for security, praying that my luggage makes it on, too.

7:05pm: After going to two different wrong security lines, they push me through the shorter line.

7:10: I'm through! It's at this point that I realize I've made it. I stop to pee. I stop to buy a banana. I stroll up to my gate--there are still a few people boarding, but it looks pretty empty. I cram the rest of the banana in my mouth, throw away the peel, and get in line just as they announce the final boarding call and the standby passengers for the flight.

I'm tempted to high five the flight attendants and yell gleefully, I MADE IT! An overwhelming gratefulness and peace comes over me. Disaster averted.

7:15 pm. I'm seated at the window seat. I hope I don't smell too bad. The plane is hot.

7:25 pm: An announcement--all passengers are on board, but not the luggage, and they aren't going anywhere without the luggage. I look out the window and watch as they load the bags, and hey, there's mine! It made it on, life is good.

A brief thought goes through my mind--what if this plane crashes? I rushed to make a flight that resulted in my death. I shake the thought from my mind.

It was exciting, it was an adventure. It's the ol' "It's the hard that makes it great" line. And you know what? Fine, the marathon was great. All the drama with relationships will make it great when I find the right person. Actually making it on the flight was great. But I'm tired of hard for now. I'll settle for "fine" and "good" for a while. Give me easy for a bit, please.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

iTunes and hipster parents

Two weeks ago, on December 7, I received an email to my gmail account telling me that I received a $25 gift certificate to iTunes from ?. I suspected that it was spam and was also enundated with emails at the time and didn't examine it further. But a week later I remembered it, brought it up, and it seemed legit--the email was from I decided to open it at work in case it contained a virus, but there were no attachments, just links, and it worked through iTunes. So now I have a $25 credit and have no idea who (from whom?) it's from. Is it from someone I know? They had to have had my email address to give it to me, I think. Was it just a random act of kindness? Will someone step forward to claim responsibility at a later date? Was it an early Christmas present?

At any rate, if the anonymous donor is reading this, thank you very much for your generous gift, I greatly appreciate it. I haven't yet purchased any new songs, but I hope to soon.

And the second thing is my friend Chris wrote this article about hipster parents and musical taste that I liked. And yes, the picture bears a remarkable resemblance to him.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Congratulations to Yul and random happenings

My man Yul won $1,000,000. He actually won. He won Survivor. How crazy and great is that? He played the game extremely well, and there's a great video on where he talks about how the game went down--he made the comment that the game could have very well come down to the white alliance picking off the minorities one by one, but they managed to get one of them to flop, and that completely changed the outcome of the game. That certainly was the turning point. He also talked about what he was going to do with the money, and one cause he said he was passionate about was minority bone marrow awareness because of a friend who died in college from leukemia because he couldn't find a match. As a side note, Justina Chen Headley's next novel Girl Overboard coming out in January 2008 also addresses this issue--one of the main character's friend's younger sister, who is hapa, is unable to find a bone marrow match because she's biracial.

Our mutual friend James's birthday is today. I wonder if he'll get a nice present.


Last night I went out with my roommate Rose for happy hour drinks in the 'hood. We were planning to just hit our regular spots a half a block away from our apartment (although places I haven't been in over a year!). We walked by the Banshee which was empty, went back to Session 73 which was closed for a private party, and then back to Stir, a martini bar I had gone to only once before with Tracy when I first moved to the apartment. We had two drinks before moving on, and decided to check out Session 73 again--no doubt there would be people there completely drunk from their office holiday party, and that should be good for a laugh. Was it ever. We walked in, and saw one guy dancing alone crazily on the dance floor. All other eyes were on us. We made a beeline to the bar for a drink, and immediately I turned around and there was a big guy standing behind me with glassy eyes. Just standing there, not speaking. He came up and stood right between Rose and me, but wasn't saying anything. "Uh...hi." we said. No answer. A grunt. Then he sat down on the stool that Rose was standing right behind, so it looked like he was sitting on her lap. I couldn't stop giggling and had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom. Sorry, Rose. When I got back, thankfully he was gone, but there would be more of the same. Turns out it was a hedge fund office party. And every time a guy started talking to us, a girl would come up and swoop them away. Haha--I guess I would have done the same with my guy coworkers--you can't help but feel protective/possessive. One guy--really, really drunk and still drinking Long Island Ice Teas--kept talking to me, but couldn't remember things I had said from ten seconds ago.

"'re a student."
"No, I just told you I was a children's book editor"
"So...where do you go to school?"

and then

"So, do you want to walk me home?"
"Why not?"
"Uh, because I live half a block away from here."
"Can I walk you home?"
"Why not?"
"Because I'm here with my roommate, and we'll walk each other home."

and a little later,

"Our company makes billions of dollars. I made a billion and a half this year. I could buy you some lloiud vitoiuoid"
"Uh, what?"
"I could buy you some Looouuuiiee Viiitoooon"
"I'm sorry, I can't understand what you're saying"

I finally realized he was telling me that he would buy me some Louis Vuitton. Uh, okay. "I don't care about labels" I said. I mean, I had to google it to figure out how to spell it, for pete's sake.

Anyway, I hadn't gone out like that in a loooong time, talking to random guys at bars, getting hit on, and it was fun and entertaining, especially knowing that nothing would come of any of it.


In other news, besides having a weekend full of fun parties, the Randoms, and other friends both new and old, I finally received my refund from the MTA today. A month or so ago I tried buying a $20 Metrocard and it took my money and also ate my card that had just $1 on it (leftover from trips to NJ or on the Airtrain or something). I followed the directions on the customer service line, and finally today received two letters and a Metrocard. One letter said that it was refunding my $20 to my credit card account, and the other said "enclosed please find a Metrocard with $1 on it." Great. Reminded me of when my old roommate Jon received a refund check from the IRS for ONE PENNY. $0.01. No kidding. Anyway, for some reason, the Metrocard I've been using also has and odd amount on it, so I have two Metrocards that I will have to use to go to NJ on two separate round-trip journeys, or separately for one leg of a JFK Airtrain trip--except of course I'm flying out of Newark this time.

Speaking of, I'm off on Thursday evening for Southern California where I'll be until the 29th, then back to the city for New Year's. No doubt I'll write more there, update my blog to beta, learn how to add links to the side of my blog, and figure out how to cause World Peace.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Answer to query and Blue Rose Girl weekend

I answered the query that someone asked in the comment section below over at the Blue Rose Girls blog this morning. Check it out here. Also, as a reminder, since I'm so inept at adding links to the right of my blog (maybe my brothers can help me out when I'm home for the holidays?), the Blue Rose Girls blog is where I post most of my children's book-related musings. As I've said before, I'm happy for people to read this blog, but if you haven't already discovered the BRG's blog, you should check it out now! (As you can see, I'm very good at putting links within my posts!)

I had a wonderful weekend going up to Providence on Saturday for the RISD alumni holiday sale where fellow BRGs Anna Alter, Meghan McCarthy, and Grace Lin were selling their books, prints, and crafts. Libby Koponen and Elaine Magliaro also came up/down (respectively) for dinner after the sale. Grace passed out more of her yummy cupcakes, and I stuffed myself on soup, pate, and seafood mac and cheese (delicious, but not as good as this).

Then it was down to CT to hang out with Libby: calming yet stimulating talks, great home cookin', tea with honey and milk. And then on Sunday we went for a wonderful 10-mile bike ride through town and along the beach. I saw one thing I'd never seen before in my life, although I've heard/read about it many times. I watched as a seagull beat its wings against the gusty wind going up and up with something big in its beak which I quickly realized was a clam, release it to the rocks below, successfuly shattering the shell, and then swoop down to eat the meat inside. It was pure nature at its finest, and I was delighted for a long time by it. Heck, I'm still delighted that I saw it. Seagulls are both frightening (Finding Nemo! Those eyes!) and fascinating. My parents had the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull around the house when I was growing up, and I loved reading it and looking at the pictures, and it made me want to fly. I loved watching the seagulls float in the wind, soar, dive. I told Libby then that I hoped to someday take flying lessons. I think I started thinking about it back when Linda had posted some flight and plane-related posts. Not quite the same as flying like a seagull, but I think I'd like it.

Here are a few pics.

Me and the official BRG lender bike:
Libby showing off her new scarf (made by Grace) and her beautiful blue bike:
And the sea (complete with Christmas tree on the pier):
I had a lot of time to think about this past year and figure some things out on the bus ride up to RI, and then the train ride back to NY from New Haven Sunday night. It was exactly what I needed. I'm now looking forward to my tradition of writing down all of my New Year's resolutions and wishes, and am looking forward to starting fresh next year. But now, let the holiday madness begin!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Taiwan pics and randomness

...and added them to my post below, as well as a couple more fun facts.

And what else. I'm tired. Work has been crazy every since I got back. Deadlines everywhere. Updating title fact sheets. Preparing for focus meeting. Writing catalog copy. Editing. Preparing acquisition meeting proposals. Reviewing copyedited manuscripts. Reading manuscript for edit meeting. Writing flap copy. Finalizing cover specs. Answering emails. Answering phones. Putting out fires. Not answering emails. Trying to ignore the smoke. Wanting another vacation.

And I'll stop before I have a repeat of this other post. But I feel the same way. There's too much to do. And I feel bad because I'm letting deadlines I've set for authors slide in exchange for keeping the in-house deadlines. Once again, Connie has been a life saver, doing most of the work, keeping me on schedule. Props to Connie! Woo-hoo!

I've managed to have some fun--went to our monthly Karaoke outing last night--although tonight I was planning on going out but was too tired. Watched my man Yul continue to kick ass on Survivor. Not to jinx him, but he could actually win this! He has a 1 in 6 chance now (And did you know that you can watch full episodes online?). I'm catching up on one of the best shows in television, Dexter on Showtime On Demand right now, and will go to sleep early. Twisted, disturbing, and brilliant. Kinda like your mom. (Oh, sorry, that's the kind of thing my friend James would say.)

Okay, I'm obviously delirious. Time for bed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cool blog

I found this blog on Gothamist. Very creative. I think Linda would get a kick out of it. Heck, I think she's a RISD grad, so maybe they already know each other. I love the video of the subway swing, because it's so carefree, and also classic New York--most of the bystanders don't even flinch/react to such a strange occurence, and others immediately jump in and want to try. That's one of the things I love about New York.

I found the setting her hair free a little gross, though, although the spirit of it is nice, I guess. But ugg, imagine finding a braid of human hair attached to a deflated balloon on the ground?! Or what if you were swimming and your arm caught on it. Yuck! It reminds me of the story my friend once told me about a college boyfriend who gave her his chopped-off ponytail in a paper lunch bag for Christmas one year. What was sad is that he really thought it was a romantic gift, because he knew she never liked his ponytail. Again, nice sentiment, but *shudder*.