Adventure 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self saw a production of “Titus Andronicus” in the Globe during a week in London, en route to Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in late April 2014. When she told her friend Joan McGavin that she was going to see it, Joan said: “Bring a bucket. Loads of gore.”

And indeed, Joan was right. There was indeed loads of gore. The production was a bit Quentin Tarantino-ish. But it was still bloody great.

Titus Andronicus at the Globe:  Wild, Bloody, Great

Titus Andronicus at the Globe: Wild, Bloody, Great

Then self proceeded to Ireland, where she had many more adventures. Including, her first actual acquaintance-ship with real swans (as opposed to the swans in Hans Christian Andersen or the Grimm brothers’ fairytales). Here is a picture of a loan swan, powering across a blustery lake, early May 2014:

Sighted Yesterday, on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

Sighted on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

She was so impressed with this swan that she started to write a story about swans which evolved into a story about Noah’s ark, after she saw the Darren Aronofsky movie “The Ark.” The last rejection letter she received for her ark story was just last week:  “Sorry,” quoth the young man, “Revisionist Bible stories aren’t really my thing.”

Self’s most recent adventure was attending the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, this past July.  She’d been hearing about it forever. Last year, she finally bit the bullet and applied. And she got in! And they offered her partial aid.  She is so glad she went soon after getting back from Ireland. For by the time she got to Squaw Valley, in early July, she was fit, mentally and physically, from six weeks of traveling all over Ireland and England. And she made so many new friends.

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



“How To Train Your Dragon 2″

Today, self was where she usually is in the summer:  watching a movie!

Her face is so familiar to all the concession stand people at the downtown Redwood City Century 20 that she regularly gets asked:  “So what movie are we seeing today?” And then she gets to hear what they think, if they’ve seen the movie already.

Today she saw “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Saltiness of Language

Today self finally got to see the Book of Kells.

It’s cool that you pay 5 euros (about $7) for an audio tour but you get to keep it.  The device is about the size of a cigarette lighter.

Self’s advice for anyone who wants to see it is:  go in the morning, first thing.  Self got to the exhibit at around 1 p.m., and it was packed.  Everyone wants to gaze reverently at the book itself, under glass, so you feel guilty about lingering.  Plus if you’re as diminutive as self is, you’ll be trampled.  Honestly.

Afterwards, she went to Bewley’s, where she re-lived memories of having tea and scones with the writer Catherine Dunne (through the kind intro of Zack Linmark, who connected Catherine and self on FB) on only her second day in Ireland.

Today, she got a seat on the second floor of Bewley’s and had some tea.

She’s been reading Catherine Dunne’s newest novel (which she autographed, such a thrill), The Things We Know, which begins on a boat:

We had just heeled over, at a good forty-five degree angle.  The spray soaked the two of us and small pools of water blistered across the deck.  They glinted up at us, filled with late afternoon sunshine.  We were in our element.

The husband and wife on the boat are in some kind of emotional crisis.  The husband describes his wife:  “She seemed brittle, her eyes had darkened like seawater.”

There is a kind of pungency to the Irish voice.  It doesn’t matter who is speaking, conversations just naturally seem to veer towards the darkly comic.

For instance, this morning she overheard the following conversation:

Man:  Lovely day.

Woman:  Isn’t it.  A lady was murdered.  She was having an affair apparently and her husband found out.

Man:  Well she won’t be doing that again.

Stay tuned.


First Saturday in June (2014): Reading The Guardian On the Train From Cork

The Guardian really likes Tom Cruise.  Self remembers reading rave reviews for some movie he did two years ago (“Oblivion”?), and now they’ve given “Edge of Tomorrow” (a kind of “Groundhog Day”/ science fiction mash-up) a positive review. OK, mebbe self is confusing The Guardian with  Here, anyway, is the link to The Guardian review.

Self is back in Dublin.  The train trip from Cork was very long.

Yes, she’s just been taking lightning trips all over Ireland.

Today was a beautiful day.  Not even the smallest cloud in the sky.

She met a Read the rest of this entry »

Random in Ireland

It is a beautiful, beautiful day here in County Cork.

Self added a few names to the list of Irish places she needs to check out (if possible, all within the next week — bwah ha haaaa):

  • Skibbereen
  • Kenmare
  • the Dingle Peninsula

She’s also adding two more names to the list of Irish poets she wants to read:

  • Ciaran Carson
  • Michael Longley

Finally, a series of random observations:

A young woman at the dinner table last night had a tattoo on her forearm that said:

Living is easier with your eyes closed.

It’s from the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields.”  Self loves it.  She thinks she will make that her life motto.

In her B & B in Inchicore, self heard this song playing on the radio one day:

City girls just seem to find out early . . .  You can’t hide your lying eyes. And your smile is a thin disguise.  I thought by now you’d realize.  There ain’t no way to hide your lying eyes . . . 

It’s an old Eagles song, who would have thought she’d encounter it again in Dublin?

Tomorrow, self is moving on:  to Café Paradiso in the city of Cork, which until recently was just a restaurant until the proprietors decided to add a handful of guest rooms to the upper floor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.   Stay tuned.



Oxford, Self, and “The X-Files”

The following Mulder/Scully exchange occurred in the Pilot Episode of cult TV show of the 1990s, “The X-Files”:

FBI interviewer:  Are you familiar with an agent named Fox Mulder?

Scully:  Yes, I am.

FBI:  How so?

Scully:  By reputation.  He’s an Oxford-educated psychologist who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult, that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988.  Generally thought of as the best analyst in the violent crimes section.  He had a nickname at the Academy:  Spooky Mulder.


That was a great series, dear blog readers.

Self hugely enjoyed the episodes on such grotesque and apocryphal creatures as the Jersey Devil, Chimera, and Incubus.

But it’s the mention of Oxford that really gets her attention, because it reminds her that Mulder was supposed to be some sort of genius who, yes, did indeed attend the august institution that self has been ogling for the past few days:

Christ Church, Oxford's oldest college, from across a meadow

Christ Church, Oxford’s oldest college, from across a meadow

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twist 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

It was the first sunny day in Dublin in almost a month.

And what does self decide to do?  She catches the Luas from Black Horse Station, gets off at Abbey Road, walks around a little bit, then decides to pop into Clerys, where she ends up spending almost the entire afternoon shopping for “dress-up” clothes (She didn’t think to bring any from home because, you know, she was on a residency. One’s mind is supposed to be completely focused on work)

The first saleslady self approached was a young woman who wasn’t really enthusiastic about her job but showed self an array of floaty chiffon tops and thin cardigans.  The problem is, the mediums looked baggy, and the smalls were too tight.  And she hated the peek-a-boo necklines.

She moved on to another section of the department store, where an older lady showed her an array of simple black skirts and black and beige tops.

She ended up buying a flesh-colored top and a simple, black, pencil skirt that had a kind of weave pattern:

Black Pencil Skirt Self Bought From Clery's Today

Black Pencil Skirt Self Bought From Clerys Today

Top From Clery's:  It reminded self of the Filipino patadyong.

Top From Clerys: It reminded self of the Filipino patadyong.

Finally, since we are on the subject of “twists,” here is self’s go-to cardigan of the moment.  Ironically, it came from Baguio, and she’s owned it for about 20 years:

One of self's favorite items of clothing is this heavy cardigan, knit in Baguio.  She's owned it for at least 20 years.

One of self’s favorite items of clothing is this heavy cardigan, knit in Baguio. It’s gotten very hard use here in Ireland.

Tomorrow, 8 a.m., self takes the ferry to Hollyhood, Wales.  She asked someone what the ferry ride was like.  The answer:  “Depends on the weather.  I’ve been on rides so bad the water was pitching over the bow. I’ve had others where the water is as smooth as a plane of glass.”  Ah, the Irish have such a way with words, don’t they? The ferry ride is 3 1/2 hours.  Self prays the water is not “pitching over the bow.”

Must be why she began yet another short story last night.  She was up until the wee hours, writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Announcing: Updates to the “About This Blog” Page!

It’s been a while.  She tends to get very self-conscious, writing about herself.  Posing for photos.  Especially with groups.  Her right eye starts to twitch.

But all of that is water-under-the-bridge, because she’s in Ireland, and no one knows or cares what her persona is over there in America, or what her “issues” are (which must be why she’s writing hours and hours and hours every day)

As the very funny Irish playwright Abbie Spallen told her:  “You come from CaliforniaThe land of therapy!  For heaven’s sake!”

So, stuff it, self.  Just.  Stuff.  It.

So she updated her “About This Blog” page, and even added a picture she took in her farmyard cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

Photo on 5-16-14 at 1.42 AM

And BTW, here’s a list of 17 Irish Independent Bookstores You Must Visit Before You Die.

But the list isn’t complete, because they missed Kenny’s in Galway.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

On the Move 4: Dublin

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is very interesting.


Self lets the various photo challenges direct/focus her attention. Since this week’s was all about KINETICS and physical ENERGY, self decided to return to Dublin and see what she could possibly forage for (photographically) there.

Amazing: once she was close to the city, her whole attitude began to metamorphose. The city’s energy began to infect her, so much so that she wanted to engage every single person she met in a lively conversation. She’ll probably pass out tonight from exhaustion. Especially since it took a combination of taxi/bus/bus and three hours to get to the city from Annaghmakerrig.

Cab Ride: The cabbie was from Nigeria. He LOVES Ireland, even the cold wet winters don't bother him. "It's not as bad as London or Germany," he said.

Cab Ride: The cabbie was from Nigeria. He LOVES Ireland, even the cold wet winters don’t bother him. “It’s not as bad as London or Germany,” he said.

Snapped from a Bus: There's the Liffey River!

Snapped from a Bus: There’s the Liffey River!

Strolling Along Grafton Street (After Coffee at Bewley's)

Strolling Along Grafton Street (After Coffee at Bewley’s)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Kyi May Kaung: Berlin, 2005

In October 2005, self and a bunch of other Southeast Asian writers were flown to Berlin to give a reading at the House of World Culture as part of a conference called “Sending Signals.”  Musicians, writers, film-makers, and visual artists from Burma, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines were gathered in a hotel at the edge of the Tiergarten.  That was also where self met the writers Linh Dinh and Rattawut Lapcharoensap, and where she met a poet from Burma, Kyi May Kaung.

All these years later, self still keeps in touch with Kyi.

Self once saw an Escalade in the Costco parking lot with the license plate “Myanmar.”  She couldn’t believe it and rushed home to call Kyi.

Her somewhat acerbic response:  “If the license plate was Myanmar then I am 100% sure the car belonged to a member of the ruling party.  They’re the only ones who refer to Burma as Myanmar.”

That was a moment.

In December last year, self asked Kyi if it would be OK to post some of her poetry in this blog.  Kyi sent over six poems.  Self doesn’t know why it took her three whole months to get one of Kyi’s poems posted but here, at last, is one:

Travel warning for Burma — some places may be closed.  Ethnic cleansing going on — in 1962 they called it “cleaning the Augean stables.”

Actually, that wasn’t poetry.  That came from one of Kyi’s tweets.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



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