Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Post That Happens When It's 9:00 PM and I've Already Watched All My Netflix Stuff

I became fixated on using the word "susurrous" in the final paragraph of a story I'm writing, but when I read it out loud I tripped on my tongue.

The second time I read it out loud, I couldn't stop thinking of Dr. Seuss.

On my third try, I sounded inebriated.

On my fourth, I realized that "susurrous" isn't really my kind of word.

And so I switched to "thrum," which is much more Ver-friendly.

I've been working on the one paragraph for a few weeks now, and I'm only now noticing that I've never used these particular words in a story before: the aforementioned "thrum," but then also, "shards," "chess," "lover," and—I think—"blood."


Trip to Ranch 99 resulting in happiness in the form of...

1 box Philippine mangoes
2 packs Orientex pork lumpia
1 large bottle Maggi
1 bottle peanut oil in which to fry Orientex pork lumpia
2 packs fat ol' snap peas
2 pineapples


I spent part of this afternoon paper screening 10 applicants to fill the position of Principal at R & V's school, and I am in stupified awe over some of the things that showed up in Statements of Qualifications and Letters of Recommendation. Such as...

"I really do like people." To which I say, "Wha?!"


"She spends endless amounts of time thinking of ways to improve student achievement." To which I say, "Um, so do I. That doesn't mean I can be a freaking school principal.


Many thanks to Sunny for providing me with ten minutes of wholesome Internet fun via The Face Transformer. Like Sunny, my transformation into a white person was sooooo disturbing. More disturbing, even, than when I morphed into an ape. I should also mention that I do not make a pleasant-looking West Asian. The comic book versions were much easier to deal with. Allow me to present...

Modigliani Ver:

Mucha Ver:

Manga Ver:


I'm going to eat some ice cream now. Vanilla sprinkled with granola and chocolate chips and chunks of the aforementioned mango and pineapple.

You're so jealous.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Brief Tale of Melancholy

My hands are covered in blue and green Sharpie pen marks, and I don't know why.

But this is beside the point, the point being that I was in a state of inexplicable melancholy this morning as I walked into Target to pick up the things that I always forget to pick up: dishwashing detergent, ziploc bags, band-aids. I sunk deeper into my gloom as I made my way around the store appalled by the poor food choices (this, however, did not keep me from picking up Lea's favorite chocolate chip muffin mix) available and—even though I am completely backed up in the reading department and had no intention of purchasing reading material—the equally poor book choices. No offense, but is Jodi Picoult the only writer in the entire fucking world?

The checkout lines were so long, and the woman in front of me was purchasing seat cushions that so deeply offended my aesthetic sense (why must anything at all have a mustard yellow fern motif?) that I switched to a line that was even longer. But just then one of the express line checkout ladies called me over. Me? But I have more than ten items, I said. And she said, It's okay, it's okay. And so I pushed my cart over to her and vocalized my thanks. I looked at her nametag. Her name was "Pie."

And just like that, my melancholy lifted.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Give or Take 25 Years

Today, a rare mid-week venture into the city for lunch with one of my oldest friends. And the best part is that it was at a restaurant that we used to frequent quite often, but never together. For both of us, though, the circa 1982 ritual had been the same: shopping at Esprit and lunch at San Francisco Bar-B-Q, which just happens to be the craziest yummiest Thai barbecue around. Plus, it's so cheap that they practically pay you to eat.

But getting back to the Esprit thing.

I loved that place. I loved that the exit we took to get there was called "Mariposa." I loved the huge industrial rolling racks with the bins that overflowed with endless amounts of garanimals-for-teens outfits. I loved the cement floor and the big posters and the even bigger mirrors. I loved the sassy people who worked there. I loved the way my Dad sat near the entrance falling asleep in a chair while I blithely did major damage to his checkbook. I even loved the communal dressing room filled with half-naked females flinging clothes all over the place. It is any wonder that some of my least angst-ridden high school moments occurred while I was dressed in head-to-toe Esprit?

I have to go now, as I am swooning in an 80s reverie and in danger of fainting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nobody Wants Me, Everybody Hates Me, I Think I'll Just Eat Dirt **

Well, Tony Robles said (in the nicest possible way that it could be said but damn, Tony!) this would happen once I turned forty: he said I would become "old and irrelevant." And so it has come to pass.

Lea had a playdate today here at our house. They needed me to make lunch for them, of course.

And then they never needed me again.


*drag wasted body across the floor*


There was a time when my cheeful, guiding presence was absolutely required during a playdate. I had to oversee art projects, take my place at the tea party, engineer a fort, read a story, help ease the way through misunderstandings. Well, no more. In fact, when I went upstairs to check on Lea and her friend, they looked up briefly from their world o' dolls and stuffed animals and said, "We're great!"

Translation: take a hike, old lady.

I then retreated half-heartedly into The House of the Spirits where Esteban Trueba, angered by the illicit love affair between his daughter Blanca and the peasant Pedro Tercero Garcia, beats his wife Clara until all her teeth fell out. *more weeping*

**This upbeat ditty was sometimes jokingly sung by my mother during times of...what? Um, Mom? Why did you sing this?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Spineless Blogging Or, If You Prefer, Blogging Without Balls


I just wrote a whole big ol' long entry and then decided not to post it. I've censored myself plenty of times before even typing the first word, but this constitutes the first time in at least a year that I opted not to hit "publish" on a completed post. This makes me think of the charming AD and how he sometimes publishes and then un-publishes a post. And it brings to mind, yet again, the idea of boundaries and what we choose to reveal and not reveal about ourselves here in blogland.

In the post-that-will-never-be, I referred to the recent Helena Maria Viramontes interview in P & W and how I was intrigued by the way she likened the act of writing to the act of prayer. Now, maybe I have heard this analogy before and maybe I haven't. Regardless, this is the first time that it caught my fancy. Like prayer, writing requires stillness, reflection, reverance, and a desire to locate truth in what can be a confusing existence. Like prayer, the act of writing can be communal or personal. So, I like this idea of writing as meditation, writing as prayer.

The rest of my post-that-will-never-be was inspired by the book Parenting Beyond Belief. Well, really, since I don't have the book yet, it was inspired by the website's FAQ, which can be found when you scroll down here, and included complaints about insufferably creepy things like...female servitude, intolerance, absolutism, fear mongering, hypocrisy, and the curbing of inquiry. Regarding the latter: I was once at a service (non-Catholic, by the way) where the priest declared rhetorically and with infuriating pomposity, "I don't care what you think; what do the great thinkers say?" It was all I could do to keep from reaching into my purse and ninja starring him with my trusty Pigma Micron Pen.

And so, anyways, what you just read was my original post minus, um, balls.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Various & Sundry Items, Including the Need For a Time-Freeze Machine

UPDATE AND/OR LATE REALIZATION: The wording of this post's title was subconsciously stolen from Barbara Jane. I find this amusing.

Oh, my. I see I have been neglecting my duties here at Nesting Ground. First of all, I'm a big huge loser for not being able to make it to tomorrow's Bay Area appearance by tireless Comfort Woman activist and writer, Evelina Galang. If you are not in my loser club, I hope you can show your support:

Emergency Meeting and Informational Session on House Resolution 121

Special Presentation and Reading Featuring M. Evelina Galang
Along with Barbara Reyes Bermeo, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Claudine delRosario, Korina Jocson, Jocyl Sacramento, and Michelle Ferrer

Date: Tuesday May 15, 2007

Time: 6-8:30 P.M.

Location: The Filipino Community Center / 35 San Juan Avenue @ Mission / San Francisco

LABAN! is the war cry of the lolas when they are on the streets of Manila. LABAN MGA LOLA!


I have been absorbed in...

...oddly gratifying domestic pursuits, such as the cleaning of baseboards and the dusting of tight corners.

...Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits. I bought the Everyman's Library edition because I'm obsessed with the gold ribbon bookmarks and perfectly sized pages. One day I will have every book in the catalog, and I'll take a picture for you.

...the final paragraph of my almost-done story, plus another section that may or may not belong in said story.

...the assembling of cake-making ingredients because cakes must be baked, dear ones, for the cakewalk at R & V's school carnival this weekend. Confession: I had no idea what a cakewalk was until last year.

...beginnings and endings, inspired by my cousin Lui's graduation from USC last Friday. I made the trip to LA, of course, and screamed myself hoarse as she crossed the stage to snag her diploma.

...locating a time-freeze machine and deciphering the instructions as quickly as possible. The reason? My firstborns:

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lunch At the Nest


For Lea: grilled cheese (do this and thank me later: sprinkle some cheese on the exterior, too, to create a crunchy cheesy crust), orange juice with sparkling water, and grapes.

For me: last night's leftover Joe's Special (is this something that everyone makes? or is this strictly a San Franicisco thing? I am too lazy to Google) over rice with a side of Lay's thick-cut sea salt potato chips, and Diet Coke over ice.


Post-lunch activities:

Lea: cutting out tin foil stars and gluing them to black construction paper. She thinks this will function as a "night light" in her room. When she says "room," it still sounds like "womb," which strikes me as not only accurate, but also sad. Because by this time next year, she will no longer be talking like this.

Me: thinking on the very kind e-mail received from Craig Perez of Achiote Press. He wrote to thank me for attending the recent reading, and then said he'd found his way to Nesting Ground and deduced that I'm a writer of sorts, and would I consider submitting to Achiote Seeds? And I said, oh pity I am but a lowly fiction writer, but if you ever do a poetry/fiction mash-up, I will be first in line to submit. And then, as a sort of see-what-I-mean, I closed my e-mail with a little thing I do sometimes, this little thing being taking a line of poetry and using it as a springboard for a fiction vignette. And then Craig wrote back to say, hey, I really liked that, would you contribute a bunch of those for the Winter '07 issue? And I said, hey, sounds like fun, but let's make it tentative in case you don't like what I send you, I'd hate to box you in, etc. etc. So this is where we stand now. But suddenly I'm thinking what if poets don't like that I do this? It's one thing to do it in the privacy of my own writing practice, but another to do it in the public space of a journal even if their line would, but of course, be celebrated as theirs.

So I began to wonder why I started doing this sort of thing in the first place, and I realized it was because prior to starting my blog and being so warmly welcomed by a group of poets, I hadn't read much poetry. The reason: I am actually quite a lazy reader. By this I mean that if I cannot locate a fairly obvious personal access point to printed matter, I will not read it.

[pause to make a pot of adobo]

But, funny thing, once I began to inhabit a virtual world filled with such nice and lovely poets, I was no longer willing to give up so easily. And, I have to admit, it's tough going at times. So this whole thing that I do—this taking of one line—somehow helps me find my way into a poem when I otherwise cannot. So sometimes it is that. But sometimes it is just that I like to see what effect the poet's word choice—because they are so precise, the poets, aren't they? they are x-acto blades; I am butter knife—will have on my own.

So, anyways, I think I will definitely move ahead with this project for Achiote Seeds. Which means I'll be e-mailing poets to ask their permission.

Feeling sheepish 'bout that.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why It's Impossible To Argue With Lea, Who Is Five Years Old

Reason #1, which isn't so much a reason as an example of how she flummoxes me by saying things that don't have anything to do with the subject at hand, but which nevertheless disarm me to the extent that the original subject becomes somehow irrelevant:

Me: Lea! You cannot slap Risa on the back when she's brushing her teeth. Lea! Did you hear me?!

Her: This is a silent protest.

Me: What? What are you protesting? In fact, you can't slap her on the back ever.

Her [turns to face the wall]: I repeat: this is a silent protest.

Me: Where did you learn...


And then there's this one, the backstory of which begins with what she refers to as "comfy pants." She will only wear comfy pants, i.e. yoga pants or soft cotton sweatpant-like pants. And they have to be full-length; she will not abide cropped comfy pants. This seems a small thing, but trust me when I tell you that there are moments when it is a thing so big, so overwhelming, so all-encompassing that it threatens to take over my entire life.

Me: Time to get dressed.

Her: Okay, Mom!

Me: A skirt, okay? Or some jeans?

Her: [silence]

Me: Okay!

Her [emerging from her room wearing, of course, comfy pants]: I'm ready to go, Mama!

Me: Oh, man. Come on, Lea. You've worn comfy pants every day for, like, thirty days. Please go and put something else on.

Her: I'm not a man, actually. I'm a woman.

Somebody help me.