Sunday, April 30, 2006


Thanks to all who have e-mailed me about my blog. I am going to continue blogging at; though I am still trying to figure out the restructure. There was just a little too much divulging here at pacyworks...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

goodbye for now!

i've decided to temporarily stop posting for a while. perhaps i will come back later...but i think i have probably whined enough to last for a long time!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

welcome to fabulous las vegas

Last month, Robert got great results from his latest scan. His tumors had shrunk to the point that the doctor said he could take a month off of treatment. After doing chemo for over a year now, getting a month off is like finding a puddle of water in the middle of a desert.

Which is pretty much what Las Vegas is. With this month of freedom, we quickly planned a celebratory trip there. We had wanted to go to Europe, but settled for Vegas and the Paris hotel instead. Complete with a Eiffel Tower replica, what more could you want? I admit, I always feel slight twinges of guilt as I enjoy the sparkling fountains and the faux canals, considering the scars which were probably forced upon the earth to create this man-made oasis. But in the end, where else can one meet a klingon, see breath-taking shows (we love cirque du soleil, by the way--go see KA) and lose money yet still feel happy? So, I gave in to the sheer decadence and had a fabulous time...just like the ad says.


During my panel discussion (with my editor Alvina Ling and YA author Justina Chen Headley) at the North American Taiwanese Women's Association conference in Houston, I discovered that my book ,"Year of the Dog" is controversial. This was a bit of a surprise to me, as "Year of the Dog" is almost a memoir, filled with my personal childhood stories, interwoven with my mother's. I thought it would be an easy fit with the Taiwanese women.

But I had underestimated how deep politics run in people, so deep that it even effects their view of children's books. In my book, I easily interchanged the labels Taiwanese and Chinese--the two nationalities that I was considered as a child and which had blurred to mean the same thing to me. This, to some of the conference attendees was a gross mistake. The Chinese were the enemy.

When one or two of the women approached me later about the subject, I tried to defend my position. How I was trying to write books true to my experience, that my book was not about politics of Taiwan vs. China, but about being Asian American. That it was the Asian-American identity I was portraying, not the Taiwanese identity.

"That is because you are 2nd generation and don't know," one woman said to me, shaking her head, "You don't know. We remember. We saw the blood, we felt the oppression. If you did, you would never call yourself Chinese."

In the recent years, I have finally felt that I have come to terms with my identity. This is what has enabled me to write my stories and talk to kids about my experiences. Now, suddenly, I felt like that rock was being shaken.

"I can understand why it bothers some of them," Alvina said to me, "To them it is as if a Holocaust survivor wrote she was German. They feel like it is an insult to what they've suffered."

This fills me with mixed emotions. I would never attempt to downplay the suffering that the older Taiwanese generation felt by the Chinese, but I can't help feeling that there must be a way to remember without bitterness. The deepest and most hurtful racism I have felt in my life has not been from Caucasians, but from other Asians. Asians make up a huge percentage of the population, but they are rarely a force in American politics, media or children's books. There's no Coretta Scott King Award for Asian picturebooks (if there is, few have heard of it which goes to show how much less importance it is given). And perhaps that is because we cling to our specific labels so tightly. Maybe if the different Asian races could relax and bond together as Asian-Americans, we'd actually be a force in the US. Or, at least,be able to enjoy my book.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Recently, a good friend of mine announced that his book was going to be made into a Dreamworks movie. I'm thrilled for him and I foresee great things--blockbuster, Oscars, NY Times bestseller etc.

But, the thing about your friends' triumphs is that it always makes you evaluate your own. Experience and cancer battles have matured me to the point where I do not begrudge another's accomplishments (and, heck, if they're going to make a movie from someone's book I'm glad it's one of my friends--someone talented and goodhearted), but nothing has made me immune to desiring my own success.

However, how does one define success? Do you measure it by your income, your book sales? The compliments of your publisher and peers? Your personal contentment and enjoyment? The approval of readers and fans?

Perhaps it is all of the above, or perhaps it is none. For me, I have slowly come to realize that there is no definite answer and that waiting for the bell to ring to tell me I am a success is never going to happen. That "making it" is such a nebulous thing that it is a fruitless goal to strive for.

Instead, it is in the small miracles which I search for satisfaction. Just as cancer makes one suddenly appreciate simple things like hair cuts or hunger; I am finding fulfillment in a drawn picture sent by the precocious Zoe and this forwarded e-mail from a teacher:

"By the way, I left the donated Grace Lin novel, Year of the Dog on the Display table. You've GOT to read it. I gave my daughter a copy as part of her CNY gift last night with her Hong Bao and we're on Chapter 8, already. It's really funny. I can see that my daughter totally relates to it from the perspective of being Asian in a very white community and as far as knowing the Chinese customs & traditions that are being discussed in the book and being able to catch the humor of various situations. She loves it. She said she can't wait to read the next chapter but doesn't want the book to end. I feel the same. Grace Lin is every Chinese Girls hero! She's mine, that's for sure. I love everything about her and this new book makes me want to just reach out and hug her for writing it. It speaks to "my daughter" in a language that she understands as a Chinese-American girl growing up in a white society. Read it."

While these things don't dazzle the way a major motion picture does, they do shine. And it's enough light for me to know where I am going.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

souvenir from albany

My recent school visits and "Year of the Dog" promotional events in Albany has resulted in a nice photo in the local paper. Too bad it hasn't affected my Amazon ranking. Like a seesaw, those numbers have a direct correlation with my well being. Sadly, as it rises, my morale falls. sigh.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

welcome home

Well, my constant travels have left Robert alone too long. In retaliation, he has decided to destroy our home. He calls it a renovation, however the chaos it causes make me want to call it a couple of other names that are not that polite...

But it will be beautiful when it is done, I know. Robert would not stand for anything less. I, however, exhausted from my recent trip in Albany and getting ready for one in Houston, would simply settle for a place to sit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

happy birthday, garbage truck

Events with young kids provide countless anecdotes of funny behavior. My recent trip to Chicago where I mixed a family visit of my niece with some Year of the Dog book events was no exception. 33 month old Lily, adorable by any standard, filled the trip with memorable moments (including when she decided to give my presentation with me) but this is my most favorite.

"Happy Birthday," Lily sang, as my older sister Lissy, Robert and I drove home from the event.
"Happy Birthday to who?" I asked.
"Happy Birthday to Auntie Pacy," she sang (I'm Auntie Pacy, by the way).
"Thank you, Lily!" I said.
"Happy Birthday to Mama!" Lily sang, "Happy Birthday to Grandma! Happy Birthday to Grandpa!"
"How about Uncle Robert?" I asked, "Happy Birthday to Uncle Robert?"
"Happy Birthday to..." Lily sang, "Garbage Truck!"
"Garbage truck!" Robert said, "I don't get a Happy Birthday?"
"Happy Birthday to Airplane!" Lily continued, "Happy Birthday to Car! Happy Birthday to Houses! Happy Birthday..."

Needless to say, Lily wished everyone and everything in the world a happy birthday except for Robert. He was very hurt which she (and I) just found hilarious.