Poem for the 2nd Sunday of August (2014): Angela Narciso Torres

Angela Narciso Torres was one of the contributors to Going Home to a Landscape, the anthology of Filipino women’s writings co-edited by self and poet Virginia Cerenio and published by Calyx Press in 2003.

Her poetry collection, Blood Orange, was the winner of the 2013 Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry. Her recent work can be found in the Cimarron Review, the Colorado Review, and Cream City Review.

Here’s the title poem:

Blood Oranges

At the river’s edge –
strewn seed, vermilion
petals from blood oranges

we ate. A branch
stoops from the weight
of phantom fruit. Falling,

the leaves exhale
the spicy-heavy air,
its punishing sweet.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

California Highway 1: The Lure

Self is headed back to southern California pretty soon.  She loves, loves, loves it.  Just the feeling of driving, never mind that the freeways feel bigger and everything’s so much farther apart than in the San Francisco Bay Area. (No, self likes that places are farther apart!  She can take longer to get there!)

Condé Nast Traveler’s July 2014 issue has a letter from the editor about what California’s Highway 1 means to her.

Well, it means something to self as well.  When self was 13 and her Dear Departed Sis 14, our parents took the whole family for a driving vacation in the States.  We lived in Manila, but Dearest Mum’s parents and younger brother and sister lived in San Francisco. Dear Departed Dad always had this dream of taking us on a cross-country road trip — in an RV. This was a sort of specious dream, since self’s Dear Departed Dad had no idea how to change a flat tire or how to hook an RV into one of those things that drains waste. And he’d also never driven anything bigger than a club wagon, and we all know that an RV is a completely different animal from a club wagon.

Anyhoo, we did make that driving trip, borrowing a car from self’s maternal grandparents, and we snaked down Highway 1 all the way from San Francisco to San Diego, then snaked east towards Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. And Dear Departed Dad allowed self to choose the stations we listened to, and self fell in love with America’s “Horse With No Name.”

Son attended Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo, but only once did we ever venture farther north than San Simeon on Highway 1. And oh man. We got stuck in a humongous traffic jam, that took hours to sort itself out.  And son swore that would be the last time — ever — he would take Highway 1 to the Bay Area. Self felt rather demoralized by the incident, to tell you the truth.

The last time self was on Highway 1 was just recently.  She was lost.  She was coming from Skyline College, took a wrong turn somewhere, found herself on Highway 1, then just kept driving south.  The views got more and more spectacular, and self was all excited, wondering if she’d actually make it as far as Big Sur.  But she didn’t.  Anxiety began to creep in, and self doubled back and went home.

Here’s what Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Traveler, has to say about her memories of Highway 1:

There is something about a road trip in one’s home state with a sibling or childhood friend that makes you feel like you’re 17 again.  We packed a cooler, sang along to Adele’s “Someone Like You” over and over, and analyzed our parents for the umpteenth time, telling the defining stories of our childhood to each other as though for the first time.  It always strikes me that no matter how many digital memory-keeping advances we make, a family’s mythology only really evolves in an oral tradition.

After the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, self was on an absolute high.  The last day of the conference was on her birthday. She drove down with another conference participant, Heather Lee.  Heather just sent self a CD where she put all the songs we listened to on the drive from Squaw Valley.  It includes songs by Pherrell Williams, Johnny Legend, Coldplay.  Self likes to think of that CD as her “Happy” CD. She’s just decided she’ll bring it along with her to southern California this time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Zigzag 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s photo challenge on the WordPress Daily post is ZIGZAG:

Share a photo that foregoes the straightforward.

Self’s grandfather, Generoso Villanueva, had this house built in the 1930s. At that time, it was the tallest structure in the city of Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental. It had a working elevator, and a spiral staircase that wound up three floors.  The floors were Carrara marble, shipped from Italy.

The Daku Balay:  Burgos Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The Daku Balay: Burgos Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The old houses in the province of Negros Occidental tended to look like this (He was such a groundbreaker, self’s grandfather!):

Zigzag Wooden Bannisters:  Lacson House, Talisay, Negros Occidental

Zigzag Wooden Bannisters: Lacson House, Talisay, Negros Occidental

And this last picture was from a trip self took to northern India in January 2012.  The story of how self got to this precise location — well, that’s a book.

Self flew into New Delhi, accidentally wound up alone in the hinterlands of Himachal Pradesh, and then hired a car and driver to head due north, eventually arriving at — TA RA! — Dharamsala.  Which was a weird place, full of Korean tourists.  And red-robed monks caressing white Akitas.  Self remembered buying a box of tea that supposedly had calming properties.  Honestly, the entire trip was like a hallucination.  Only she had these great photos to show afterwards.

On the road to Simla: the road hugs a steep cliff: January, 2012.

On the road to Simla: the road hugs a steep cliff: January, 2012.

 

Summer Lovin’ 2: Mitchell’s Ice Cream Parlor, San Francisco

Self had a writers group meeting (YAY!).  It is so much fun to talk about each other’s work; it’s been months.

Because self had a little time to kill before the meeting started, she decided to pop into Mitchell’s Ice Cream Parlor on San Jose Avenue.  The line was out the door.

She had to take a number:  Her number said 013.

The digital counter said:  088.

It took about half an hour for her number to come up, so she busied herself taking pictures.

For what could be more relevant to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme — Summer Lovin’ — than ice cream?

The inside of Mitchell’s is covered with murals like this one:

DSCN6748

Self tried her best to be unobtrusive while taking pictures of the clientele:

DSCN6747

DSCN6746

She just can’t help it:  people are more interesting to her than almost any other subject.

Self means:  ordinary people.  Just standing around.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sebastian Barry’s THE SECRET SCRIPTURE, pp. 28 – 30

Must. Get. Through. This. Novel. At. All. Costs.

Because the next novel on her list is Richard Price’s Lush Life.  But she can’t get to it until she finishes this one.  That’s been her vow.  So, this morning, she manfully addresses “the book in question.”

The main protagonist, Roseanne McNulty, is an inmate in a mental hospital.  As she approaches her 100th (!) birthday, her doctor tells her that she may have one chance left for freedom: the old hospital is being torn down, and old records are being examined, hers included.  The doctor has suspected for quite some time that Mrs. McNulty was wrongly institutionalized; she’s not, in other words, mentally defective and neither is she suffering from some psychological disorder.

In the passage self is reading, the doctor decides to confide his thoughts about her incarceration to Mrs. McNulty:

Dread, like a sickness, a memory of a sickness, the first time in many years I had felt it.

“Are you all right, Roseanne?  Please don’t be agitated.”

“Of course I want freedom, Dr. Grene.  But it frightens me.”

“The gaining of freedom,” said Dr. Grene pleasantly, “is always accomplished in an atmosphere of uncertainty.  In this country at least.  Perhaps in all countries.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Workshop, 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Conference

The Squaw Valley Writers Conference ends tomorrow morning —  WAAAAH!!!

Self had the greatest time.

Here’s a picture self took at the end of the last workshop today:

Members of Workshop # 6:  Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today's Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

Members of Workshop # 6: Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today’s Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

The week simply flew by!

Self bought a copy of Michael Jaime-Becerra’s story collection, Every Night is Ladies’ Night:

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today.  He's a fantastic teacher.

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today. He’s a fantastic teacher.

Here’s an excerpt from “Lopez Trucking Incorporated,” one of the stories in the collection:

Evelyn’s going nuts in the passenger seat because Mario still isn’t done with her wedding dress.  My sister’s too nervous to drive, and since I’m the only one home, I’m taking her for her fitting.  Evelyn’s wedding is in four days, on Saturday, and she’s the kind of person who plans everything in her life, from buying wrapping paper for next year the day after Christmas to ordering all her keys by color and size.  She gets her craziness from our mom, and while I’ve had sixteen years to get used to it, Lupe’s only had two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Contrasts 8: Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the City.  Self was there to have dinner with friends at Roam Artisan Burgers on Fillmore Street.  It just so happened to be the last day of the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Since the theme for this week’s Photo Challenge is the same as last week’s — CONTRASTS — self chose shots where the contrast between light and shadow, or the contrast between two different colors, was most dramatic.

The perfect place to watch the Fillmore Jazz Festival:  Roam Artisan Burgers, 1923 Fillmore Street.

The perfect place to watch the Fillmore Jazz Festival: Roam Artisan Burgers, 1923 Fillmore Street.

Most of Fillmore Street was closed for the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Most of Fillmore Street was closed for the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival.

The colors of this poster are so vibrant -- like the jazz festival itself.

The colors of this poster are so vibrant — like the jazz festival itself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Between 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s photo challenge is “Between.”

Here are two shots self took today, because she was thinking of the challenge:

Claremont, CA:  Downtown Farmer's Market

Claremont, CA: Downtown Farmer’s Market

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Self loves the apple cider and always gets some every time she visits son.

She’s also bought things from the spice vendor.  And Jennie gets hummus and other salads from a Mediterranean food vendor.

Self decided to throw in a picture from when she was doing a residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in May.  She was looking for shots of “between” that represented actual spatial demarcations:  between stalls at a farmers market or between walls or between earth and sky.  She looked through a whole lot of her Ireland pictures before settling on this one.  She was going to say it was an example of “between earth and sky.”  But now she thinks, not really.  It’s more of the way sunlight breaks through the clouds on a typical Irish spring day.

From a Farmyard Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland

From a Farmyard Cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Split-Second Story Five: A Tale of Two Universities

The WordPress Photo Challenge prompt reads, in part:

. . . we want you to become a documentary photographer and attempt to capture a candid moment of a person, place, or thing.

Here’s another set of split-second stories (love the prompt!)

First, Oxford, where the Saboteur Awards were announced on Saturday, May 31:

Jenny Lewis, Poet, Professor of Creative Writing at Oxford University, graced the Saboteur Awards 2014 to cheer self's being on the short-list for Best Novella of 2013!

Jericho Tavern, Oxford, last night:  Jenny Lewis, Poet, Professor of Creative Writing at Oxford University, graced the Saboteur Awards 2014 to cheer self’s being on the short-list for Best Novella of 2013!

Then, Cambridge, where self had been for just two days prior:

Open Market in Front of Great Saint Mary's, Cambridge, England

Open Market in Front of Great Saint Mary’s, Cambridge, England

Streets of Cambridge, England

Streets of Cambridge, England

The adventure continues, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

Twist 2: Walking Around (Still in Annaghmakerrig)

An old stone lintel next to a very big fern: on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

An old stone lintel next to a very big fern: on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

There’s a stone lintel that self passes whenever she goes to the Main House.  She finally decided to take a closer look at it today.  She was going to post a close-up of the carving, it looked like a piece of Mayan art to tell you the truth.

But her internet connection has been wisping in and out.

Instead, she’ll post an excerpt from a piece called “Shaft,” by Anne Enright.  It was in a hard-bound book she found in the dining room of the Main House (a compilation of writings by all the various residents who had been at the Centre, over the decades):

I always look people in the eye, you know?  This is just the way I am.  Even if they have a disability or a strangeness about them.  I look them straight in the eye.  And if one of their eyes is damaged, then I look at the good eye, because this is where they are, somehow.  I think it’s only polite.  But I am not always right.  Some people want you to look at their ‘thing’ and not at them.  Some people need you to.

There was that young transvestite I met in the street once: I used to know his mother, and there were his lovely eyes, still hazel under all that mascara and the kohl.  Well, I didn’t know where else to look at him, except in the eye, but also, I think, I wanted to say hello to him.  Himself.  The boy I used to know.  And of course this was not what he wanted at all.  He wanted me to admire his dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

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