Tag Archive | teachers

2014 in Review

A festive New Year’s Eve to you, and all good wishes for 2015!

Last year, I presented a sort of photo essay recapping my 2013, so I’m trying it again for 2014. Without further ado, here is the much abridged account of what I did this past year.

In January, I attended the Linguistic Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, a conference which inspired a couple of posts. I also went to the All-California Sacred Harp Convention, which was the first convention I ever led a song at, which means for the first time my name will appear in the annual minutes! I know, it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. January also saw the founding of Datvebis Gundi, our beloved UCLA Georgian chorus, which I’ve written about rather a lot. I also ushered in the new Year of the Horse (my year!) with some homemade pork, tofu, and noodles.


Frost patterns on my window, Minnesota, January 2014. No, this has nothing to do with anything.

February was less eventful. I unveiled the Sparkers cover and, I don’t know, studied a lot of syntax, phonology, and semantics. Maybe. I also made this chickpea salad with carrot tops because what else do you do with carrot tops?


In March, Sparkers ARCs arrived. I also experienced my first ever earthquake! My family visited me for a really great spring break that involved Chinese-style lobster, a Shandong beef roll, and ramen. And I started writing Book 2.



In April, it was National Sibling Day on Facebook. I watched a lunar eclipse and churned out copious amounts of words. Also, the now infamous (er, among choir members) article about Datvebis Gundi appeared in UCLA’s Daily Bruin.

Lake Arrowhead (3)

Me and my brother at the Rim of the World (San Bernardino Mountains) (This picture is from March, but National Sibling Day was in April!)

In May, I went to a splendiferous hurdy-gurdy concert and the LA Regional All-Day Sacred Harp Singing. I also participated in the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which gained tremendous momentum over the following months and led to the founding of a full-fledged non-profit organization. You should check it out.


The Korean Friendship Bell, near the site of the Regional All-Day Singing

In June, I went to Minnesota for my cousin’s wedding. I also went to Northern Spark 2014 and rode the new Green Line train between Minneapolis and St. Paul for free on its opening night. I returned to Los Angeles just in time to move into a new apartment.


Wedding cake (See that knife on the right with frosting on it? That was my dinner knife! They used it to cut the cake (before dinner)!)

In July, I celebrated Independence Day in Los Angeles and went on various local adventures with my roommate.


A pomegranate tree in the garden of the Getty Museum

In August, I volunteered at the LA Food Bank and saw a Shakespeare in the Park production of The Taming of the Shrew in Griffith Park. I’m not very fond of that particular play, but it was a fun outing. A high school friend of mine visited me in LA, providing the perfect excuse to finally try the Persian food that is so plentiful in my neighborhood. Tahchin is really good, you guys.


Also, a finished copy of Sparkers arrived!

In September, I went to Minnesota for my cousin’s wedding. Before that, I went on an expedition to Chinatown for moon cakes. I had my launch party at Red Balloon and sang at the Minnesota Sacred Harp Convention. And on September 30th, Sparkers came out!


Me, babushka-ish, at the Red Balloon launch party (Photo by Laura C.)

I kicked off October by speaking to a group of creative writers at my high school, at the invitation of the librarian and my 11th grade English teacher. Back at UCLA, I began my second year of grad school. At the end of the month, I had my California launch party for Sparkers at Children’s Book World.

Me and Andrew

Me and my friend Andrew at Children’s Book World

In November, I threw myself into TAing undergraduate Phonology I, sketching the grammar of Maragoli (our field methods class language), and furiously revising the rough draft of Book 2. Oh, and after blithely tolerating a nice spider in our apartment for weeks, I killed it because my more uneasy roommate discovered it was a black widow. What with all the excitement, there are no photos from November.

In December, I wrapped up all the fall quarter madness and returned to Minnesota once more. After a green Christmas, it finally snowed and got cold again, and I went skating and played (very amateur) hockey on one of the Minneapolis lakes.


Our Christmas tree (Notice the abundance of book-shaped presents beneath it)

That’s it. Happy New Year!

Sparkers Launch Party at Red Balloon

Today is the official publication day of Sparkers! It’s out in the world. It’s hard to believe this day has finally arrived, and yet today also feels like any other day. I’m grateful to everyone who has taught me, advised me, cheered me on, and kept me company along the way.

Last Friday, I had my launch party at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the children’s bookstore where I met Eoin Colfer when I was in middle school. During my volunteer year, I lived in the neighborhood and loved being able to walk to Red Balloon whenever I wanted. It was a dream come true to have the Sparkers release party there.

A lovely crowd came out to celebrate with me, including much of my extended family, several of my high school friends, parents and siblings of high school friends who have left the Twin Cities, some of my parents’ friends, my 7th and 12th grade English teachers, my 5th, 9th, and 11th grade French teacher (and her friends from France!), a bunch of church members, two of my Beth Shalom housemates, my former boss at the interfaith advocacy organization, a bunch of my former colleagues from the non-profit/advocacy world, and my cello teacher. I was touched by everyone’s support and enthusiasm.

And now, a few photos from the party…




Me with books!


Red Balloon ordered this gorgeous cake, complete with edible glitter and a frosting violin


Me talking (and note Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen’s The Dark!)

friends in the audience

Friends, teachers, coworkers!


Hoping I’ve developed a consistent signature…


I’ve perfected the “little grandmother” look. (Photo by Laura C.)

Thank you to the Red Balloon staff for hosting such a wonderful party for me and thank you to everyone who came!