Friday, May 28, 2004

I Am Spent

I just spent my daily allotted blogging time posting on my family blog. So, you know, if you're feeling my absence (or even if you're just acutely bored), drop by over there...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Cousin Appreciation Day

I've always had a special little place in my shriveled up Grinch heart for each and every one of my 42,000 cousins. Sure, your siblings will take bb gun bullets for you, but they also do stuff like look you up and down before you go out and say, "Are you gonna wear that?" Cousins, due to their once-removed status, are consistently nicer than siblings.

It used to be that our house and my Lola's house (both on the same street in Daly City, once upon a long time ago) served as a weekend hub of sorts and we could eat pancit and play kickball and butt's up (bloody 'ell! ouch!) and shove puto in our pockets to eat later and be forced to sing ('Look at me/I'm as helpless as a kitten/up a treeeee') against our will. But even before I was through with high school, many of the families scattered too far away for these weekend check-ins. Weddings, funerals, and the family reunion (finally instituted fifteen years ago) were the only time I spent with my gaggle of cousins. We knew each other, but we didn't know each other. Anymore.

Enter the family message board! Gads, I love the internet. Without it, I wouldn't know that Luj left yesterday for the Kauai Music Festival with freshly written songs stuffed in his backpack. Wouldn't know that Gica is now a certified Holistic Healthcare Nutritionist or that someone has just mysteriously wired $10,000 into her bank account. I wouldn't have known about my Ate Cristy's twisted love of Stephen King novels (I do know, from childhood, about her obsession with Jesus Christ, Superstar. And Alice Cooper). Wouldn't have seen pictures of Morris with his almost-new son on their first trip to the Philippines. And that's just the tasty layer of grease on top of the adobo, my people. There's so much more.

I like my cousins. My cousins are good.

Monday, May 24, 2004


And once again: Tha-wack!

That's just the sound of me being hit with another rejection. The journal in question obviously hasn't received Barbara Jane's memo re: SUPER BOMB-ASS PINAYS. The editor said, "It was a good read," the implication being "but not good enough, suckah!"

So you know what I did? I printed up a fresh copy and sent it right back out again.



Bad Grammar Begins at Home

On five out of seven mornings, Lea opens her door, navigates her way across the hall, opens our door, and arrives on my side of the bed with her mother lode: one Dora the Explorer pillow, three (always three) books, and her "baby," which is female but which she nevertheless named "Lolo." The bed is taller than she is, so she launches each of these items overhand using my head as her primary target. I don't so much mind the pillow hitting me, but when she lands Goodnight Moon across the non-existent bridge of my Filipino nose, I surrender and pull her up on the bed.

That's all she wants, really. I often try to palm her off on the spousal unit, but she's all about mama, mama, mama in the morning. And she's ridiculously sentimental. She just lays her head on my chest, stares at me like I alone invented chocolate chip cookies, and runs her fingers all over my face. "Nice lips!" she'll say. Or, "Why do you have brown eyes?"

Sunday morning, after this little face navigation exercise, I said, "You're a sweet girl, Lea."

And she said, "I are?"

Too sleepy to rap her knuckles with a wooden ruler and correct her, I just said, "Yes."

Monday, May 17, 2004

Tired Wings

Gonna take a little break from tending this Nesting Ground, my lovely people. With any luck, I'll be back in a week or so. **Looks at the calendar, glances at her watch**

Yes, a week.

Friday, May 14, 2004

How Not to Host Playgroup

You know, it's not too tough to host playgroup. It's not art; it's not even a skill. All you have to do is mastermind one fairly directed activity and then have at least three different parts of the house completely open for the kids to play. And if you are blessed with sunshine, it's laughably effortless: pull out the trikes and the balls, open up the sandbox, and you're in business. Oh, and snacks. You gotta have snacks. But they must be the kind of snacks that do not wake the beast that slumbers within every child. In other words—for the love of all that is holy and pure—no chocolate.

In case you haven't guessed, I just returned from a form of torture unique to mothering: a woefully (yes, that is 'full of woe') bad playgroup session in which our hostess—on the loveliest day of May so far—cruelly held six preschoolers, two infants, three mothers and one nanny hostage in a 10x15 foot room littered with horrible plastic toys that created a cacophony of the world's most unpleasant sounds. Was she not aware of my delicate sensibilities?

And then, in a move that I felt certain was some sort of prank for the new HGTV show "Punk'd for Mothers" (hosted by an increasingly desperate Cindy Crawford), there suddenly appeared before us a platter of 100 brownies and a small bowl of baby carrots. I looked at my watch: 10:00 am. By 10:15, despite all of us pleading with our children, the baby carrots were untouched, half of the brownies were gone, and Vida's left arm and right eye were twitching. Our hostess, who I now felt was deliberately trying to ruin my life, remained oblivious, and none of us was bold enough to ask her to take the chocolate away. There was only one option: I looked at the other mothers, and they looked at me. We glanced at the nanny, who intuitively understood our desperate need to stop. the children. from ingesting. more sugar. We passed the plate around over the kids' heads, each grabbing our share.

And that is how I ended up eating eight brownies for breakfast. Got milk?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Risa Sets Her Sights

Risa's getting married.

To David.

She declared this a few months ago on her first day of preschool, and damn if she isn't inching closer and closer to snagging her man. "Do you want to know who I'm going to marry?" she asked.

I tried to remain vaguely disinterested. "Um, sure."

"It's David." Giggles, batting eyelashes, quick exit from the table.

The thing that compels me to go "awwwww" about this is that David is so not the Cute Boy in Class (that honor would go to the swarthy Alexander, who left gold chocolate coins in everyone's cubby on Persian New Year). Oh, no. David looks...worried. All the time. He has little bags under his eyes, a squeaky voice ("May I have your attention, please?" he pipes during Sharing Time), and an endearing—if not particularly cool—attachment to his stuffed, purple bunny.

Anyhoots, I'll keep you posted on her progress (you're riveted; I can tell), which so far includes getting cozy during Celebration Time (also known as sitting in a circle and singing), holding hands on their way to use the potty, and some sort of private hand-clapping game that she refuses to detail for me. She did tell me one thing of note when I asked her why she wanted to marry David. "Because...I think he's gonna be soooo handsome when he grows up."

Remember that, my people: It's all about potential.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Allow Me to Unveil...

...the new—and as far as I can tell unintentionally ludicrous—message in front of that church near my Safeway. Ready?...

"A good scare is better than good advice."

I'm taping it on my bathroom mirror right now because, man, that one's really gonna see me through some tough times. And anyways, I've had my hand-lettered "I'm pink, therefore I'm Spam" sign up for far too long now.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Where The Hell is Milpitas?

I got lost on my way to the reading. Unfortunately, I am not the kind of driver who can easily assess herself out of being lost; I'm the kind of driver who gets on and off the freeway, driving in circles like a lunatic. But I am also the kind of driver who leaves her starting point with far more time than needed to arrive at her destination, so I managed (with a little help from a nice man at a gas station in Palo Alto) to steady my rocking boat and arrive on time.

Still, I had that whole adrenalin-pumping thing going, which for me results in the odd combination of a rapid pulse and really, really messed-up hair. Lucky for me, then, that the first face I saw was that of one of my oldest friends in the world, my Daly City sista Karen. She's like a rock, this girl, and I was soon set right.

We (being you and me) all know that I could conceivably talk about myself all day, but I must stop now to throw flowers at the well-shod feet of poet Angela Narciso Torres who arranged the whole to-do and brilliantly forced Borders to see that a reading for Going Home to a Landscape was just what they needed.

But it was weird to read at Borders. There are so many distractions: the wandering customers, the intercom, the employee who didn't have a problem schlepping a ladder through our little piece of staked out literary territory. This made it all the more gratifying, though, to see that there were people who actually managed to pay us some mind. All except that one woman sitting smack in the middle who was either sleeping or so repulsed by our appearance that she couldn't bear to look at us. Pffft.

I had read with all but one of these poets before, and as usual they were stunning. If you ever have the chance to see Angela, Miz Barbara Jane, or the lovely Arlene Biala, you must.

This was the first time I'd met Luisa Igloria, so it was very special to listen to her and get a feeling for her work and energy. She brought along copies of Not Home But Here: Writing From the Filipino Diaspora (Anvil, 2003), which she edited and which includes essays from some wonderful writers. It looks to be a great read, so show some support, wouldya?

There were some beautiful brown faces in the crowd—it feels good when Pinoys come out to help us celebrate this book. It's especially nice when they buy a copy and ask us to sign it. And it's even more especially nice when they buy an extra copy for their mom and ask us to sign that, too.

Okay. If I ever have to go to Milpitas again, I know how to get there.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Change of Scenery

The indefatigable Ian C. has retired his dancing shoes and is now giving advice on How To Lose a BlogStalker and on (hey I could use the help, actually) How To Live.

So here's to new blogs, new bloggers, and the readers who love 'em...

P.S. A full (well, almost) accounting of the Milpitas Borders reading to follow. Cuz you're checking for it every ten minutes, right? Right? Oh, never mind.

Friday, May 07, 2004

My Head Hurts

'Tis time to discuss the phenomenon known as The Ponytail Headache. What is this? I once asked my brother-in-law, who is a doctor, to explain.

I said, "Why is a ponytail so painful? Even when it's not very tight? And then why, when you finally release your hair from the elastic, is there a ghost pain that requires much vigorous and uncomfortable rubbing on the spot that was formerly ponytailed?"

It was a sincere quest for knowledge, but he only laughed and backed away slowly. I took a step forward in pursuit, but he held up both his hands, which I believe is the internationally-recognized sign for "Keep away, crazy girl."

This happens to me quite a bit.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I Am Funny. Yes I Am.

At the end of every preschool day, my twins and their mop-headed co-horts sit in a circle and sing a bunch of songs. Harmless little ditties about dinosaurs or three-cornered hats; baseball and spaghetti; cookies, elephants, the moon. During one particular song the kids are called on to compose little rhymes like, 'Have you ever seen a cake/inside a lake?' or 'Have you ever seen Teacher Jon/mowing the lawn?' They are unfailingly eager to do this, all of them shoving their little hands into the air just begging to be called on. My favorites are always the ones who wave their hand like crazy and then, when called upon, immediately forget what they were going to say.

Risa and Vida like to practice for this song. They invent their rhymes, offer each other constructive criticism, and dissolve into hysterics when they think of something they deem particularly good, something like, 'Have you ever seen a monkey/being super duper funky?' Today I called from the kitchen, 'have you ever seen a frog/sitting on a log?' and was met with a silence that is fast becoming the norm around here.

"Did you hear me?" I said.

"Yes, we heard you!"


Vida walked into the kitchen to deliver the bad news. "Well, Mom, frogs do sit on logs. So that isn't really that funny."

That's the kind of day I had. Somebody help.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Look Out Milpitas

Okay, so maybe it's true. Maybe we are invisible. After all, the Borders in Milpitas "forgot" to announce our reading in their printed stuff; that's not good. Still, they'll be no missing us once we're there—just look for six Pinays in varying shades of lovely brownness. If you're still confused (and I have no idea how that could happen), we'll be the ones reading out loud from Going Home to a Landscape. Here you go:

Borders @ McCarthy Ranch Marketplace
Milpitas, CA 95035
Saturday, May 8th

Arlene Biala
Luisa Igloria
Veronica Montes
Miz Barbara Jane Reyes
Angela Narciso Torres
Marianne Villanueva

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Let's say you're tending to a crushed and bleeding heart. Or trying to figure out your place in this tricky game of mah jong we call life. These are the turning points that require a steady hand and a quiet mind, my people. Moments that require a sustained, contemplative, even catatonic state. Or, you could go shopping.

You could buy a stack of books that almost stands—rather amusingly, I have to admit—as tall as your youngest child. A pair of $200 jeans; a pair of impractical and absurdly overpriced shoes; two tops; six notebooks from Japan (it says right on the front that they will "make happy your life," and, well, who knows?); and one ham, swiss cheese, and butter sandwich for good measure. You could eat the sandwich while sitting in the sun with your shopping bags gathered like loyal dogs at your feet. You could slip on your headphones and listen to Dave Matthews sing sweet like candy to my soul/sweet you rock/and/sweet you roll. You could brush the baguette crumbs from your lap, stand up and go home.

Works for me.