Reflections 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

L'Fisher Chalet, Dear Departed Dad's Hometown of Bacolod

L’Fisher Chalet, Dear Departed Dad’s Hometown of Bacolod

Museum, Abe's Farm, Magalang, Pampanga

The E. Aguilar Cruz Museum, Abe’s Farm, Magalang, Pampanga

Self's birthday last year: she celebrated with Niece G in San Francisco restaurant SPQR.

Self’s birthday last year: she celebrated with Niece G in San Francisco restaurant SPQR.

 

Claremont, Day 3: Yoganette Studio, West Covina

Niece, Llana, chatting with Andrew and Jennie after the yoga workshop at Yoganette, West Covina.

Niece, Llana, chatting with Andrew and Jennie after the yoga workshop at Yoganette, West Covina.

Attended 2-hour yoga workshop at Yoganette in West Covina.

Self had such a workout!  She sweat buckets.

One of the workshop leaders, Llana, is the daughter of her Bacolod cousins, Mae and Manong Eddie Villanueva.

Llana was a great teacher:  kind and patient and very helpful.  Plus, she has a great yoga voice.  Hypnotic.  Self could feel her neurosis spinning out of herself, slowly but surely.

How self would love to say she lost 5 lbs. in two hours.  Dream ON, self!

Llana chatting with us after the workshop.

Llana chatting with us after the workshop.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Juxtaposition 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self has really enjoyed this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition.  Who knew that theme would resonate so much with her.  Below is an excerpt from The Daily Post site:

Juxtapositions are all around us.  Maybe there’s one bright yellow flower in your vase of pink daisies, or you have a shot of your kids, one smiling, one making a face.  Maybe you spied a vintage car parked outside a sleek, modern building, or a new car in front of a run-down house — or one of a thousand other things you wouldn’t think of until you see it.

Self is exceedingly fond of this particular set of juxtapositions: a jeepney in front of books; a friend from grade school days in Manila; skyscraper and sky in Miami.

Someone -- self doesn't remember who -- gave us this little jeepney a long time ago, and it's been on her bookshelf ever since.

Someone — self doesn’t remember who — gave us this little jeepney a long time ago, and it’s been on her bookshelf ever since, a potent reminder of home.

Selfie! The woman with self was one of her best friends in Manila.  Now she lives in San Gabriel.  She hasn't aged a day.

Selfie! The woman with self was one of her best friends in Manila. Now she lives in San Gabriel. She hasn’t aged a day.

Miami Sky  (Driving South on Brickell Ave.)  Self was there the week before Thanksgiving.  She found the city stunning in every aspect.

Miami Sky (Driving South on Brickell Ave.) Self was there the week before Thanksgiving. She found the city stunning in every aspect.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

At Some Point, Self Just Knows

There will be no Literature NEA Fellowships for self, unless they dream up a post-humous award.  But for what?

This is self’s 6th or 7th NEA rejection.  She thinks she began applying in 1991, after her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx Press.  There was a period of about a decade when self’s confidence was so low that she didn’t even try.  Then, when Niece G enrolled at Stanford, she urged self to keep applying.  Since Niece G’s forceful intervention, self has applied three times.  At some point, it starts feeling really, really . . .  draining and exhausting and humiliating and all of that.  It’s a bear to master the application program, and of all things, during this last round, she was contacted by an NEA staffer to say that her application was incomplete and she had 24 hours to send in her supporting materials.  What?  She checked and double-checked and made sure she submitted everything well before the deadline.  She began sweating bullets and spent an entire day in a state of high nervous anxiety.

This year’s awardees include eight from California (which self thinks is the most number of fellowships awarded to any state).  The next state with the most number of awardees is New York, with five.

*     *     *     *

No One Story acceptance, after XX tries — this is embarrassing.  Shhhh!

She still loves One Story, and keeps up her subscription.

*     *     *     *

The phone rings:  it’s a 202 area code!  Has self won something?  She picks up.  A computer says:  Do you need dental care?  Did you know that . . . 

Of course self needs dental care!  Her teeth are so bad, she’s still paying her dentist $300/month for some crowns, even though she hasn’t been in to see her dentist in a year.  At this rate, she’ll finally get her “balance owed” down to “0″ sometime in the spring of 2014.

Ah well, ah well.

*     *     *     *

Did dear blog readers know that they can obtain one of Stella Kalaw’s fantastic prints through Fraction Magazine, on sale through Dec. 31?

*     *     *     *

What about the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines?  Self decided to look at The Huffington Post.  The most recent post is dated a month ago.  It’s about climate change.  It’s well worth spending a couple of hours reading through each post.  There is a mosaic of perspectives including from the Global Fund for Women in Menlo Park (They donated $500, which is a drop in the bucket, but hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth)

Gerry Ruiz, a photographer who lived in Tacloban, has a Facebook page.  Follow the photographs.  There is a definite arc of hope (not to downplay the extent of the devastation, of course).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The World As It Appears in December 2013

The post office is a sad place now.  Only a year or two ago, lines, especially at this time of year, would be snaking out the door.  People would be coming to blows over parking spaces.  Self hated the feeling of being entrapped in a confined space, along with someone loudly sniffling or coughing.  Now, she breezes in and out in five minutes.  Five minutes!  Who knew?

The other thing about now is that, only after experiencing Hunger Games mania “for reals” (as opposed to just reading the books because Niece G said they were good, so much better than the Twilight series), self has finally come to an appreciation of what the literature of YA means:  it means, specifically, no sex scenes (In the Mockingjay epilogue, Peeta and Katniss do things that evoke “hunger” — years later, they gambol in a field of dandelions with their two children).  It also means, no four-letter cuss words (How Jena Malone got away with her piece in Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a story in itself).  And for the first time, self does not think of YA as a sub-category of literature.  Suzanne Collins, you are genius!

Self is back to reading the Wall Street Journal.  She started reading it regularly several years ago, because she liked Joe Morgenstern’s movie reviews.  She also liked the book reviews.

In the Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 issue, there is a fascinating review of a book called Skull in the Ashes, by Peter Kaufman.  It is the story of an actual crime that occurred “on a freezing February night in Iowa in 1897.”  Iowa!  Well, let’s have at it, WSJ book reviewer!

On the night in question, “a fire razed the general store in the small settlement of Walford.”  It is about a murder that would never have been solved if it were not for “the county attorney, a sharp young Irishman named M. J. Tobin,” who “used the latest forensic techniques to establish that the skull belonged to a local farm laborer,” and not to the ostensible victim:  widely thought to be the store owner, Frank Novak.  It turned out that just before the fire, Novak “had recently taken out the huge sum of $27,000 in life insurance.”  Novak, it turned out, “was massively in debt, with a serious gambling habit.”

The insurance companies hired a detective, “its most hardened tracker . . .  a veteran of the Apache Wars,” to pick up Novak’s trail.  The detective traced Novak (who had been traveling under a series of assumed names) all the way to Juneau, Alaska, and down the Yukon River.  Finally, in Dawson City, “an anarchic settlement dominated by saloons, brothels and gambling dens where wealth and debauchery rubbed shoulders with treachery and despair,” he got his man.

The next part of the book is about Novak’s trial.  Since “there were no witnesses to the alleged murder and no traces of his presence at the crime scene,” it was left to the county attorney “to create a chain of facts so robust that only a deliberate homicide by Novak could account for them.”  His opponent was Thomas Milner, “a brash, attention-seeking character . . .  who advertised himself in the local newspapers as ‘seldom licked, never surrender.’ “

Sounds like a very fascinating book!  You’ll have to read it to find out how the trial turns out!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Grand: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self chose these three photos to interpret this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  Grand.  They are all Grand (i.e. Awe-inspiring), but for very different reasons.  The first was taken with her cellphone, which perhaps accounts for it’s odd shape.

Apple Store, University Avenue, Downtown Palo Alto, the Sunday After Steve Jobs Passed Away

Apple Store, University Avenue, Downtown Palo Alto, the Sunday After Steve Jobs Passed Away

Kanlaon, Negros Occidental

Kanlaon Volcano, in Dear Departed Dad’s home province of Negros Occidental

Lydia Davis signed 2 copies of her COLLECTED STORIES: one for self, the other for Niece G

Lydia Davis signed 2 copies of her COLLECTED STORIES: one for self, the other for Niece G

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Chan, You the Man!!!

White House Down superlatives:

  • Chan.  Doing his best Bruce Willis impersonation.  He even strips down to the white tee (which, in true Die Hard fashion, becomes filthy!  Filthy!  Fabulously filthy!)  Note to Any Would-Be Terrorists:  If preparing to assault a high-security facility, the best way to create a diversion is to make sure Chan Read the rest of this entry »

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is to post shots taken during “The Golden Hour” — Here’s the prompt:

In photography, the “Golden Hour” is the first and last hour of sunlight of the day . . .  go out and snap a photograph, wherever you may be, during this Golden Hour –  and pay attention to the natural light around you.

Love the theme!  Here are a few of self’s “Golden Hour” shots.

Golden Hour 1: Free concerts in Stafford Park, Redwood City, every Wednesday throughout the summer, 6 to 8 pm.

There was a crowd, as always.  We had a good vantage point, near the hot dog and hamburger stand.

There was a crowd, as always. We had a good vantage point, near the hot dog and hamburger stand.

Golden Hour 2:  A Philippine beach at sunrise

Sunrise, Bantayan Beach, Dumaguete

Sunrise, Bantayan Beach, Dumaguete.  Self visited Dumaguete for the first time with Niece G and son, when they were about seven.

Golden Hour 3:  New York City, not quite dusk

New York City Skyline (2006), viewed from the rooftop terrace of the Metropolitan Museum

New York City Skyline (2006), viewed from the rooftop terrace of the Metropolitan Museum

That’s it!  But, self hastens to assure dear blog readers:  these definitely won’t be the last posts on this theme!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Memories of: The Guardian, Friday, June 29, 2012

A year ago, self was just winding up a writer’s residency in Hawthornden, 45 minutes by bus from Edinburgh.

The Guardian pull-out section that day had this as the cover article:

FROM HIMBO TO HIGHBROW: 

How Matthew McConaughey reinvented himself

Yes, it seems the folks at The Guardian were extremely involved in examining Matthew McConaughey’s chest.  Inside, a photo of bare-chested McConaughey in a scene from Magic Mike.  OMG, one day that photo will be iconic:  McConaughey’s outstretched arm, the cowboy hat, the ornately carved belt, and The Feature itself:  the supremely well-articulated chest.

Anyhoo, perhaps because self couldn’t get over the fact that she was reading such an article in Scotland, of all places, while in the company of very serious writers, she slipped the pull-out into her suitcase.  And forgot all about it until –  TODAY!

The sidebar to the article in The Guardian is a list called “Himbos Go Arthouse:  The Hunks Who Got Serious”

Of course, the first name on the list is George Clooney.  It cites two early movies: Red Surf and Sunset Beat.  Somehow, he overcame those rough beginnings to become a “heavyweight A-lister.”

The next name is Brad Pitt.  “Catnip for the Diet Coke crowd,” The Guardian calls him.  He “still hasn’t removed the himbo yoke, but he wears it with cred.”

Third is James Franco.  The Guardian calls him “hipster himbo numero uno.”

Fourth is Brendan Fraser.  The Guardian says:  “lunkish jock . . . mum-bait in The Mummy and George of the Jungle.”

Yesterday, self and Niece G text-ed each other about possibly seeing a movie together before Niece heads back to New York.  Niece tells self she just saw a Wikileaks documentary.  Self responds:  “How about White House Down?  Chan is The Man!”  Niece G’s response:  “Tita!”

LOL LOL LOL

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 5

In five more days Christmas 2012 will be over!  Over, over, over!

Self feels like singing.

No more traffic!  No more lines!  No more snarling soccer moms barreling along the streets in their behemoth SUVs!

Anyhoo, back to the tabulation of her books.

Last night, the count was up to 145.

Now, she turns to a small pile behind the pile she tabulated last night.

In this small pile, there are also five books.

She will not list them all, as she’s quite behind in her reading and writing today.  She spent the whole afternoon in: a) Costco and b) Stan-fuhd.  Speaking of Dear Old Alma Mater, they have added so many new buildings!  Self’s jaw dropped at the sight of the new Bing Auditorium.

She called Niece G to wish Niece a Happy Belated Birthday, only to be told (by txt msg) that Niece’s birthday isn’t until DECEMBER 27.  Oh thank heavens.  Self thought she had missed it.

Anyhoo, back to the book tabulation.

In this pile, there is a book edited by one of her former teachers, Arthur P. Wolf.  The book is Studies in Chinese Society, and self remembers it very well because it was her first required text in the graduate program in East Asian Studies.  And she was always in an agony of trying to call up quotes (to make herself sound more intelligent) during class.

The second book is a novel, First Person Plural, by Andrew W. M. Beierle, who she read with at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, early 2010 (Can that really be almost three years ago?  Heavens!)

And in this pile is a Very Very Special Book:  Hokusai:  One Hundred Poets.

It is the biggest, heaviest book that self owns, and it was a Christmas present from sole fruit of her loins, several years ago, when he was an undergrad in Cal Poly.  And it cost him a lot of money.  And he/we were all very strapped for funds at that time.  But such is love!

Cover Detail, HOKUSAI:  ONE HUNDRED POETS

Cover Detail, HOKUSAI: ONE HUNDRED POETS

Thank you, son!

From the Introduction:

Hokusai is one of the greatest artists of any time or place.  He was born in 1760, in the Katsushika district of Edo (now Tokyo) and lived into his ninetieth year, dying in 1849.

The last of his great print series was the One Hundred Poets.  Begun in the artist’s seventy-sixth year, the prints have a greater richness of color and more wealth of detail than the prints of any other series in this large format.

145 + 5 = 150 total # of books counted thus far

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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