Monday, July 30, 2007

Fireflies and bats

I usually prefer to run in the morning, when I'm fresh and everything's quiet and new. I like to start of my day with exercise, and then feel good about it for the rest of the day. But lately I've been running more often in the evening. Tonight, the sky was a soft pink and purple, the clouds that had been threatening rain now glowing with the light of the setting sun. And what I love about running in Central Park at twilight is that when the sun starts to set, the fireflies come out.

Fireflies remind me so much of my suburban childhood, living in the northeast, running around in the backyard with the neighborhood kids while our parents sat in lounge chairs closer to the house. We'd catch fireflies in our hands, open the palms a crack and peek in, hoping that the firefly would light up, but knowing that it wouldn't. Noting how odd it was that such an ugly bug could make such a magical light.

I didn't see fireflies anymore after we moved to California--I suppose because of the climate. I didn't see them again until five years ago, my first summer of living in NY (never noticed them in Boston, for some reason). I was on the West side, heading home after watching a friend's softball match. They were out like crazy in Riverside Park. Sparkling, almost like Christmas lights. They were there on my walk home through Central Park. So beautiful.

The bats also come out at night. This reminds me of one night while living in Taiwan, standing across from Da An Gong Yuan (Big Peace Park) at twilight. One of my friends looked up into the streetlight. "I love watching the bats," he said. "The what?!" I had never noticed any bats. I looked to where he pointed, at what I had always thought were birds flying, but sure enough, they had the erratic flight of bats. Kind of creepy, really, but also cool. Observing nature in the city.

Bats fly jerkily in the lamplights of Central Park, too. I wonder if any of the bugs they're catching are fireflies.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Party pics from my rooftop birthday party

I made this using my cousin's new site, It's in beta testing right now, so not open to the public, but I think it's launching on August 14th. It's really cool!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Editorial letters

I posted over at Blue Rose Girls on Monday, and there's a nice discussion going on regarding editorial letters here.

And also, am cross-posting this on both blogs (meant to do this ages ago!):

My former colleague Amy Lin (formerly Amy Hsu) has launched editomato, " a small, online business offering developmental editorial services to children's book writers aiming to be published in the trade market." Amy is an incredibly fantastic and well-respected editor with superb taste, and when we worked together, I relied on her heavily for editorial advice and support. She left the company to move away to where her husband lives. How dare she.

Amy was responsible for getting Patrick McDonnell on our list, and edited his NY Times Bestselling The Gift of Nothing. She has edited such beautiful books as What Are You So Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld, Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith, The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith, and after her departure freelance edited Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass and Exploratopia by the Exploratorium.

So, if you want a great editorial letter, check out her site! It's adorable and nicely designed, to boot. Plus, she's a great friend!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another New York moment

I wrote most of this last week, but didn't have a chance to finish. It seems anticlimactic to write about now, but here you go:

Last Wednesday night, a little before 6 pm, I was at work. T.S. (I just read that he also blogged about the experience on his blog) had just come over and we were talking about when to have our belated birthday Karaoke celebration. All of a sudden there was a crash, like loud thunder, and our lights dimmed for a second and I heard people gasp. I didn't think too much of it, as it had been thunderstorming all day. But then there came a low rumbling, like thunder. We paused for a moment, then kept talking, but the noise didn't stop. It was unsettling. "What IS that? Is that thunder? What IS that?" I kept asking. T.S. started walking away and then back to the window. We couldn't see anything. "You're freaking me out. That noise is freaking me out" T.S. said. I heard someone mention a fire in the building next door, smoke visible from their window. I couldn't see anything. Then our fire alarm started sounding. Connie stood up. "That's it, I'm leaving!" The fire safety director announced that there was a fire alarm on the third floor, and to stand by. People started gathering up their stuff. I went back and forth between my desk and the hallway, undecided. It was probably nothing. But what if it was something. Should I take my bag? Should I turn off my computer? I had just heated up some pasta, and the bowl of unfinished pasta was sitting on my desk. Should I go wash it out?

We looked down the hallway and A was gathering everyone up telling them to go to the emergency stairs. I grabbed my bag. "There was a lot a smoke" L said worriedly. We stood waiting for an announcement. "You should start walking down the stairs" C said, to A, who is over 8 months pregnant. That's when I started thinking, A is pregnant. M has two kids at home. L's fiance is a fire fighter. What if this is something big. What's going on?

We looked into the stairwell, and there were people going down the stairs. "Did someone tell you to go down, or did you just decide on your own?" A asked. They had just decided on their own. "We should go down" C said. "But they said the alarm was on the 3rd floor, what if we're walking into a fire?" A asked.

We pondered that and waited a little more. Then someone made the decision that we should start going down. For some reason, at that moment I decided to go back to my desk for my umbrella and galoshes, and by the time I started down the stairs, probably 2 minutes later, everyone was gone. I saw a few people I knew in the lobby, but wandered around a bit aimlessly, looking for my department but not seeing anyone. I realized I had a voicemail on my phone and tried to call. It took a few tries, but I eventually got through. It was from my roommate Rose.

"I'm on the bus right now and someone said there was an explosion in your neighborhood. I'm calling everyone I know who works in that area to see if they're okay."

I decided to go outside. People were milling around all over the place. "Someone must know what's going on." one woman said to another. They saw me with my cell phone. "Do you know what's going on?" they asked me. "I don't roommate said there was an explosion..." I wandered to Lexington Ave, thinking I would just walk home and turn on the news, and then I saw it. Billowing white smoke, and a lot of it. Everyone was on the street, watching. On their cell phones, taking pictures. I took a few pictures, too.

I stood there for a while, unsure of what to do. Nobody seemed to be panicking. Just curious. But everyone was on their cell phones, but none of my calls were getting through at this point, just like during the blackout. I overheard a woman talking about a manhole cover, another mentioned a steam pipe, another mentioned a transformer.

I had a kickball game scheduled for later that night on 137th and Riverside. I wondered if it would still be going on. Was the whole city in chaos? Should I just go up there? I amazingly got through to Meghan who was planning on playing kickball with us that night. "Where are you?" I asked. "I'm stuck in traffic in my car..." "Are you still planning to go up to the park for kickball?" "Well, I was planning on it." "Let me try to call my teammates and see if the game is still on." I had the thought: I would feel weird playing kickball if a serious tragedy had just occurred. I decided to call my parents. I figured I could get through more easily to them since they were in CA. I got through to my dad. "Dad, there was an explosion near my work and a lot of smoke...can you look on the news and let me know what's going on?" He checked the internet first, nothing. Then CNN on the TV. Nothing. "Oh well, you're safe, right?" he said. I was. "I love you!" we said. I tried calling my friend Alexis, who was also co-captain of our kickball game. "Do you know what's going on?" I asked "Well, the game is still on, I don't think it's going to rain." "No, I mean, what's going on with the city?" "What do you mean?" I told her about the explosion, the smoke. "No, I'm here in Times Square eating dumplings. Didn't know about any of that! Although I did hear a bunch of sirens."

I decided that if the West side of Manhattan was oblivious, things overall were probably fine. My dad called back "It was a steam pipe explosion." He read me an article on CNN. He paused. "So, it's not terrorists. You're okay." It didn't occur to me exactly that I needed to hear that. I didn't really think it was terrorists. But still.

And so I walked over the Columbus Circle to catch the train. The day ended normally, with a kickball game (we lost, yet again), and happy hour drinks. The next morning, the streets on the way to work were emptier than usual, but by the following day, for the most part, everything seemed back to normal.

Just another NY story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How do I know if I'm a good editor?

I usually mean to cross-reference my Blue Rose Girls posts here, but always forget. Anyway, yesterday I wrote a post in anwer to a question Sara asked a long time ago, check it out here.

How many readers of this blog also read the Blue Rose Girls, by the way? Maybe I don't need to cross-post. (FYI, I post every Monday over there.)

My birthday weekend

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. I celebrated by having a third annual rooftop/terrace party at my apartment on Friday the 13th. I got back from CA late Wednesday night, worked Thursday and Friday, and then prepared for the party. It was a great turnout, although I tried to keep it a bit smaller than past years because my roommates were a little concerned about the roof caving in.

My brother Felix came up from DC for the weekend, which was great. I had coworkers, Randoms, Kidlit people, kickball people, and other friends, a nice balance and mix of folks, I think. I had been checking the weather obsessively, and it threatened scattered thunderstorms and showers, but after feeling a few tiny drops around 8 pm, the sky cleared up and it was the perfect night to be outside.I made four pitchers of sangria, four avocados worth of my "famous" white bean avocado dip, and supplied hot dogs for the grill. We had two Libertarians and a Communist, children's book authors and librarians, editors and designers, scientists and teachers and copywriters, etc. And cupcakes, of course! And I collected a great candy stash for yesterday. As usual, I don't feel that I got to talk to any guest a significant amount, as I was running around a lot, but I had a fantastic time--I love throwing parties. And late-night the party turned into a mini dance party, which was fun. A late-night diner run with the last guests, and then my brother and I walked back to my apartment as the sun came up.

Also saw Sicko that weekend (so sad!), went out to Williamsburg for a mellow party Saturday night, had dim sum with my brother on Sunday before putting him on the Chinatown bus, managed to squeeze in a quick run, then met up with an old friend from when I lived in Taiwan who was in town for a few days. I hadn't seen her in about nine years, and it was great to catch up.

And then on my real birthday, I went to work and ate candy. A ton of candy. And then saw the Decemberists at SummerStage. Once again, it had threatened rain earlier in the night, but it was a gorgeous evening, and a great concert. And I almost finished the huge lollipop.

I've never dreaded turning a certain age, but for some reason I was less than excited to be turning 33, but after reading this blog post over at the Disco Mermaids, I felt a bit better about it.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone, and thanks to all who helped me have a wonderful birthday. Till next year...

Friday, July 06, 2007



Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

via Fuse #8


Ah, to have time to do Memes. Just a random one I read today. Nothing too exciting, I'm afraid. Today I ran 8+ miles on the treadmill (gotta get training for the August half marathon), got a hair cut (shoulder length), went to lunch with my parents (tempura soba and salmon sushi), went with my dad to buy goldfish for the pond, and now am resting, about to read. Hurray for vacation!

1. Your name spelled backwards: anivlA
2. Where were your parents born? Both were born in Taiwan, in the Tainan area
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? probably music
4. What's your favorite restaurant? I haven't been there in a while, but possibly Cafe Mogador. Oh, am loving Le Pain Quotidiens lately.
5. Last time you swam in a pool? I think it was in a hotel in Taiwan
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes, in junior high.
7. How many kids do you want? 1-4
8. Type of music you dislike most? I don't know if I hate any kind of music with a passion, but I probably listen the least to country and rap.
9. Are you registered to vote? Yes.
10. Do you have cable? Yes.
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? Yes--owned one in Taiwan.
12. Ever prank call anybody? Yes, in high school.
13. Ever get a parking ticket? Yup.
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Both. But at this point, I guess I'd try the former since I've done the latter.
15. Furthest place you ever traveled? Australia
16. Do you have a garden? Nope, but I've been enjoying my parents' garden since being home
17. What's your favorite comic strip? Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Mutts
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Yes.
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? I take showers, usually in the morning
20. Best movie you've seen in the past month? I guess Knocked Up. Waitress was good, too.
21. Favorite pizza topping? Black olives
22. Chips or popcorn? POPCORN!!!!
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? I don't really wear lipstick, but I guess maybe a neutral shade when I do? Or coral?
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? Wow, that's a weird question. Is that what the young 'uns are doing these days? No.
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No, thank goodness.
26. Orange Juice or apple? Orange, I guess.
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Had dinner with my mother, younger brother Ben, and his girlfriend Susan last night at some Taiwanese restaurant in Hacienda Heights, don't know the name.
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (looking forward to eating on on the 16th)
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? Ummm...I think I voted within the last 4 years, but don't have a strong memory of what it was for or who/what I voted for.
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? No idea.
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Umm...I actually don't think so. I've won medals and plaques, though.
32. Are you a good cook? I'm decent.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes.
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Yes--I ordered the Egg Wave! (lets you microwave eggs--not a good purchase)
35. Sprite or 7-up? 7-Up, I guess. I don't really drink soda, and if I do, then it's usually Ginger Ale.
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? I had a red and white striped polo shirt and apron when I worked at Mrs. Field's Cookies.
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Pepcid AC. ;)
38. Ever throw up in public? I must have, but not recently.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? True love with a millionaire. Just kidding. True love.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Not really. Like at first sight, though.
41. Can exes be friends? Yes, but not easily.
42. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? Tanya when Leesie was born.
43. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? Yes!
44. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Wayne
45. What was the name of your first pet? Pippy (parakeet)
46. What is in your purse? Wallet, iPod, camera, book, sunglasses, pen...
47. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
48. What is one thing you are grateful for today? Being with family, enjoying my parents' house

via Amy, dig?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Diamond Bar

I'm at my parents' house in Diamond Bar, CA. (On Tuesday at work I was talking to an author who said, "Oh, are you going to Gold Bar?" haha--wrong precious substance.) I lived in this city from 8th grade through high school. It's a pretty nice place to live, I suppose. It's beautiful, with rolling hills, lots of green, flowers, wilderness, wildlife, peaceful. I don't like the car culture, though, but that's just me. I do like visiting--my parents' house is spacious yet comfortable, and the backyard is full of fruit trees, balconies, paths, ponds, swings, even a tennis court.

I played tennis with my parents and my uncle this morning, and then went for a short run/walk around the neighborhood (Snoop Dog lives in my neighborhood--I know which house is his, but have never seen him. There's always a car with a guy--body guard--sitting outside of it.). Saw two rabbits hanging out, they didn't seem afraid of me. I think one of them was named Peter. ANYway, Diamond Bar is about 40% Asian, which you can believe was a huge shock when I moved here from Upstate NY, where you could count the number of Asians in my school on one hand.

Last night I arrived around 7 pm, and I went with my parents up to this community center up on a hill to see the fireworks. (My fellow spectators were probably 75% Asian.) You could see the fireworks displays sprinkled all over the horizon. People kept saying things like, "Oh, do you think that's in Rowland Heights?" and "Is that in the City of Industry?" or "Maybe that's the Disney Land show." Typical Southern California. It made me realize what a different world I live in now. I feel lucky to have lived in many different places.

I'm back home primarily for a family reunion in the San Diego area that starts on Sunday--my cousin Jimmy is being ordained as a minister. For once, I hadn't made plans in advance to see any of my friends--I've been so busy, and to be honest, am feeling a bit burned out. But after a relaxing evening and morning here, I sent out an email to my friends--"I'm here!"--it's last-minute, so who knows if I'll get to see any of them. But I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and seeing all of my cousins' little kids--there are a few new additions I haven't met yet.

Anyway, there wasn't really a point to this post, but as I vowed to post once a week, I wanted to check in. I hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July!