Daily Archives: August 10, 2011

Vida Giveaway: winner!

Ziggy the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

There’s a winner of a signed copy of Vida by Patricia Engel!

Here’s the video of the drawing (sorry for the slight jostling; as usual, I was holding the camera up with my left hand and “self-taping”):

And if you don’t want to bother to watch the video and stare at me in front of my bookshelves recording myself as I pick the winner live…the winner is…



*drum roll please*


*drum roll*

*drum roll*

The commenter named sunny!
whose comment was:
“I want too! Ooh!! Cool giveaway! Immigrant story? You know, we all have LOTS of these?? Sadly? Anyway. I was super little.. 6 years old maybe? I just remember grown-ups being giants.. I came about to their waists. My mother was in a car accident, it was NOT her fault — someone rammed into HER — cops came and sided with the other person, a white woman, while my mother struggled to communicate what happened. Then my father was there, who speaks slightly better English, he kind of got into a spat with the officer, and the cop said, words I won’t ever forget, “I can’t understand her [my mother]! She’s speaking Asianese to me or whatever it is she’s speaking! Tell her to speak English for chrissakes, it’s America.” Ultimately we had to go to court for the whole incident and I recall the trouble my parents had communicating to their own lawyer. That was when I decided I wanted to become a lawyer someday, to be able to advocate for people like my mom and dad.”

*cymbal clash!*

Congratulations to Sunny–and thank you for supporting Patricia Engel’s book. I hope all of you who wanted a copy and didn’t win, still manage to find yourselves a copy soon.

I assigned each of you a number, in the order of comments, and used a random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 17, as there were 17 entries. The generated number was matched with the assigned number of the contest entrants.

The winning number was 7.


The wiener dogs reading Vida are Scarlet the Wiener Dog and Ziggy the Wiener Dog. I rescued both of them at separate times many years ago and they are now 18 and 14 years old, respectively. (And I wrote a blog post about them as part of my Alphabet History project).


Filed under Giveaway, Reading

V is for Value


V is for value.

*value |ˈvalyoō|


1 the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance or preciousness of something : your support is of great value.

I deactivated my Facebook account. I plan on returning to Facebook, but I’m not sure for how long I will be away; even though I initially planned on returning to Facebook by my birthday, I am enjoying the silence and peace and even the Leo in me wonders if it’s even worth it to return to Facebook for birthday wishes. (But let’s face it, the best thing about Facebook is all the birthday wishes on August 19 one’s birthday)!  

While I valued many of the interactions on Facebook, they are superficial interactions that left me dissatisfied, and worst of all, insecure; the frequency with which I bantered on Facebook walls never seemed to deepen friendships.

Now, I’m not devaluing the worth of friendships built on the internet. I met my husband online years ago on a UNIX chat server, where we messaged each other for hours on end, held long and written discourse on matters that delved into the deep, because sometimes writing does that–it allows us to go to the heart of the matter and quickly. But there is something about FB that distills interactions to small talk. And a relationship cannot be built on small talk. 

And so Facebook started to decrease in value, and in fact took away from things that were more important to me: like my writing, my sense of wellbeing, my psychic safety. Thus, the break.

• the material or monetary worth of something : prints seldom rise in value | equipment is included up to a total value of $500.

The economy is teetering. Our country has had its credit rating lowered. The Dow has plummeted in response. What is the value of our money?

• the worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it : at $12.50 the book is a good value.

I have gotten a bicycle here in California, the value of my health and the environment countering that of the convenience of my car. I want to be in excellent shape by 40. I want to be strong. I want to be fast. I want to be lean. I want to be more powerful at 40 than I was at 30. 

I live in Berkeley, and hills that were completely invisible to me as a car driver loom ahead of me on a bike. Too many times this week, I’ve said to myself, “I had no idea there was a hill there.”

But I like how it makes my body feel. I like the wind on my face. I like that it is good for my health. I like that it’s helping me shed weight (or at least, keep the weight that I lost walking around in NYC, off). I like that I’m giving the environment a break from my automobile. My bike is good value.

• the usefulness of something considered in respect of a particular purpose : some new drugs are of great value in treating cancer.

I edit and revise my novel. What is this word/scene/character’s value in the context of the novel? 

It’s hard to cut words, but I do. At this point, I’ve cut more words than are in the current version of my novel.  

• the relative rank, importance, or power of a playing card, chess piece, etc., according to the rules of the game.

I cleaned out my closet. Rummaged and evaluated the value of each item. What was its value to me? Would it be of more value to others?

Throwing away too-large clothes and telling myself that I will stay fit is a sign of hope. There is value in that, too. There is value in giving things away. There is value in editing down. There is value in making a promise to myself. 

I edit and revise my body–my body, I realized, is valuable. It failed me in the past, but it can be strong. It can be an asset. Taking care of my body gives me value. It gives my writing value. I’ve lost ten pounds this year, a goal I’ve had for awhile. I’m aiming for another ten pound loss, done in a healthy way. I started doing yoga. I got an activity monitor (a fitbit), which keeps me accountable. I don’t count calories (I counted them for a week, and it made me crazy, so I stopped). I just make sure to keep on moving, at least five miles a day. I have come to value my body.

2 ( values) a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life : they internalize their parents’ rules and values.

Compassion. Straightforwardness. Loyalty. Bravery. 

3 the numerical amount denoted by an algebraic term; a magnitude, quantity, or number : the mean value of x | an accurate value for the mass of Venus.

There is sometimes a missing piece–the kind that has had me waking up on a bright and perfect morning in an organized room with a restless anxiety. 

4 Music the relative duration of the sound signified by a note.

I cannot sing well. My voice has no value. But it does not mean my voice has no value.

5 Linguistics the meaning of a word or other linguistic unit.

• the quality or tone of a spoken sound; the sound represented by a letter.

Shall vs. Will. 

6 Art the relative degree of lightness or darkness of a particular color : the artist has used adjacent color values as the landscape recedes.

The value of my denim jeans diminishes over time.

ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French, feminine past participle of valoir ‘be worth,’ from Latin valere.


Joining Heather’s Abecedary and Fog City Writer in working through the alphabet with short, memoir-like pieces. Except I’m going to go in reverse, beginning with “Z.” It’s called Alphabet: A History.


Filed under Alphabet: A History, Memes