Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Current Fan Fiction Fave’s Everlark Ship Still Not Yet Ready to Sail, in the Meantime at the Cineplex . . .

Oh, fan fiction.  You have self on pins and needles all the time.  All the time.

The Fourth of July weekend is coming up. On the Monday following (July 7), self sails off to Squaw Valley for the Writers Conference.  She just arranged to share a ride with someone from Benicia.  Excited!

This afternoon, self casts a very cursory look over the summer movie offerings.  She still wants to see “22 Jump Street”, though The Man saw it while she was in Los Angeles and declared it not good at all.

She still wants to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” as she loved the first one.

She’s seen “Edge of Tomorrow.”  Oh, that was good!  Emily Blunt is packin’.  It is so great when an actress with proven dramatic chops switches gears.  Blunt’s Full Metal Bitch deserves a place on the pantheon of Female Action Stars — maybe not quite on the level of Femme Nikita or Ripley, but definitely equal to Scarjo’s Black Widow.

She still wants to see “The Fault in Our Stars.”  Son and Jennie saw it and liked it, though Jennie maintained that the book was better.

She saw “Maleficent” down in Pasadena, with Son and Jennie.  3 1/2 out of 4 stars.  Self found Jolie’s razor-sharp cheekbones a tad distracting.  So was her lightning-fast change into leather pants in the movie’s climactic confrontation.

“X-Men:  Days of Future Past” — four out of four stars!  Magnificent!  Love the Vietnamese-talking Mystique!  Love J-Law/Mystique in 70s bo-ho hippie attire!  Love unrequited angst between J-Law/Mystique and McAvoy/Xavier and also with Hoult/Beast, and the jealous macho-ness of Fassbender/Magneto!  Not to mention, Ellen Page is one darn cute actress!  She hasn’t been this cute since “Juno”!

Finally, self still wants to see “Godzilla.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Split-Second Story Eight: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

It has been heaven here, absolute heaven.

She was greeted upon arrival by Justin Green, one of the two co-owners, just two nights ago.

Her trip continues.

Self moves today to a place in the city of Cork itself, a wee bed-and-breakfast called Café Paradiso.

On the Grounds of Ballyvolane House, County Cork:  This MUST be a goat.

On the Grounds of Ballyvolane House, County Cork: This MUST be a goat.

The path was muddy, the soil clay-like in consistency.  Ireland really IS a bog.

The path was muddy, the soil clay-like in consistency. Ireland really IS a bog.

Self came across a sign that told a sad, sad story of a dastardly murder committed in these parts (in the long-ago eighteenth century).  The perpetrators were summarily executed, one by hanging/drawing/quatering.  The other was accused of being a witch and burned at the stake. The place was subsequently known as “The Hag’s Cross.

DSCN5767

This morning, pouring rain, boo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Letters: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Today, dear blog readers, after enduring a 10-hour trans-atlantic flight to London and NOT EATING, self feels quite exhausted.

The Penn Club, where self is staying, is only 1 block from the British Museum, so self will perhaps check out the Viking Exhibit which just opened.  She is meeting Joan McGavin there tomorrow afternoon; we are attending Jenny Lewis’s reading of her new poetry collection, Taking Mesopotamia.  To think, self met these two less than two years ago, at Hawthornden.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is LETTERS.

The prompt:  “Share a photo with letters —  no matter the alphabet.”

Here’s her first take:

Paris Souvenir Placemat:  Bought this one in Montmartre, July 2013

Paris Souvenir Placemat: Bought this one in Montmartre, July 2012

The cover of Phoebe Literary Journal: A few years ago, they published self's flash fiction, "All the Missing."

The cover of Phoebe Literary Journal: A few years ago, they published self’s flash fiction, “All the Missing.”

I amsterdam letters in -- Where else? A public square in front of the Rijksmuseum.

I amsterdam letters in — Where else? A public square in front of the Rijksmuseum.

Anyhoo, she finished writing a 10-page story on the plane:  It’s called “Sand.”  Reading it aloud, self finds herself chuckling in several places.  So she must still be in satirical mode.  This doesn’t happen all that often, so she is completely psyched.

Today she will go out and about.  There’s a verdant green park at one end of the street which she plans to stroll to when it gets light.  The Russell St. Station for the underground is somewhere nearby.

The first order of the day is to find out how to get to Salisbury, for that is where her tour of Stonehenge starts.  But first, breakfast.  And coffee.  Tons of coffee.  Ugh, she is still so bleary-eyed, as dear blog readers could probably tell, since almost every fourth word of this post was mis-spelled and it’s taken self almost 20 minutes to correct them.

It’s just as well her two favorite stories on fanfiction.net haven’t updated yet with new chapters, or she’d probably spend the whole morning inside in her room, avidly reading.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Joan McGavin, Jenny Lewis, Stonehenge, and Lord Burton’s Collection of Trophy Skulls in the Royal College of Surgeons, London

Self was going through some folders in her closet (Every time she returns from a trip, she puts her trip mementos in its own folder in her closet).  In one folder, she discovered an index card on which was printed:  ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS, LONDON (BURTON’S COLLECTION OF TROPHY SKULLS)

!!!!

Is she ever glad she decided to go through her folders today!  Or she would completely have missed this index card.  And she would never have thought to include the Royal College of Surgeons on her list of London Must-See Museums!

She’s read nearly all of Burton’s books.  He was quite a writer, though of course very much of his age regards racial distinctions and manifest destiny and so forth. But since she has read his books, what a pity if she left London without even taking a glimpse at his trophy skulls!

She can’t help being a little bit giddy at the thought that she will soon be in the UK.

She decided to sign up for a tour of Stonehenge, the day after she arrives.  The tour starts from Salisbury.  Self doesn’t even know the train schedules, but she is determined she will get to Stonehenge, no matter what.

She’s meeting up with two former Hawthornden residents:  Joan McGavin and Jennie Lewis.

Jenny has a new poetry collection out, Taking Mesopotamia.  There’s a reading at the British Museum on April 27.  She and Joan are going.

Then self is spending a few days with Joan, who teaches at Winchester University.

Another writer whose work, incidentally, self loves, is Morag Joss (Self can never get over her Half-Broke Things.  Still one of her favorite mysteries).  Two years ago, at Hawthornden, Joan informed self that Ms. Joss teaches at Winchester University.  Self’s heart is thudding in excitement, just thinking about this.  She starts daydreaming about bumping unobtrusively into Morag, perhaps in the teachers’ lounge.  That is, if English university professors hang out in teachers’ lounges.

Then, Dublin and the Tyrone Guthrie Center.

Penny, too, will be in Dublin, the second week of May.  She wrote a play, and it’s being staged there.

After she’s done with her stay at Tyrone Guthrie, she’s taking the train to Cork and staying in a country home.

And —  GAAH, self is so excited.  She’s packing very light:  all jeans and sweaters and mebbe one pair of ballet flats.  She’s bought The Man gift certificates to Biancini’s and Trader Joe’s, and lavished presents from See’s and what-not. (Just think, she told The Man, if any of her applications for visiting writer positions become successful, she’ll be spending far longer than a month in another place:  most visiting writer residencies are for a year!  Subtext:  So quit griping!)

She’s decided to bring only two copies of her collections.  Because the point of this trip, she keeps telling herself, is more discovery than self-promotion.  (Although, perhaps self would do well to devote a little more time to marketing herself, as look where she is now:  agent-less and still joining literary contests in the vain hope that she can get a book contract by winning one of those)

Self and The Man watched Muppets: Most Wanted last Saturday, and aside from being the most gloriously FUN movie self has seen in a long while, she very much appreciated the fact that a bank heist involved the Irish National Bank and was to go down, supposedly, in Dublin.  Is that synchronicity, or what?  Because self, too, will be in Dublin, in a very short while!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Claremont, Day 2: Plan for the Day

The plan for today is to visit the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.  Self is so glad that son and Jennie were down for that, as she’s been wanting to visit the museum for a while, ever since she read a write-up about it in the Wall Street Journal.  The article focused on a new exhibit called “Becoming Los Angeles.”

The exhibit, which covers “14,000 square feet of gallery space . . . tells the city’s history primarily through a display of 250 objects and images, from canoe carvings of the Gabreleño-Tongya people to a Stratocaster guitar (As the first museum in the city, this one became the repository for family heirlooms, keepsakes and homely artifacts that might otherwise have been lost to history — and in that catch-all function alone broadened, from the outset, the definition of a natural history museum.”

There are “six major sections” that comprise “key moments in the Los Angeles story.”  There are “artifacts from the Indians who cruised the islands off Los Angeles in sewn boats and first greeted Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542,” and “a series of paintings” of the first “Spanish missions in California . . . by the British landscape artist Edwin Deakin.”

There’s more, lots more, but self has to check on her on-line writing class students.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

BLGF, Skopjle II: These Are Albanians!

Self is taking off to see Sole Fruit of Her Loins This Weekend. Jennie said to bring BLGF, but honestly, it weighs around 5 lbs. And she’s not planning to check in any luggage.  So, that means . . . . .

Anyhoo, here’s probably her last BLGF post until Sunday.  It’s just as well.  She hates to read without full concentration, and RW’s prose is so lush, it’d be a crime to read in snatches.  Self allots herself about two hours at a stretch.  That means no getting up for coffee or tea or TV or even to answer the phone.  She just reads.  That’s been her regimen for about two weeks now.

(She did dash to Barnes & Noble yesterday, just for a few moments, to look for Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters.  She also looked up Owen Wister’s 1902 novel, The Virginian, and found it!  Sandy said she remembers a television adaptation from way back when she was a little girl)

Right now, she’s on p. 646, in the chapter Skoplje II.

There are about 75,000 inhabitants of the town, of whom over 10,000 are Turks who gave the town its colour in the first place.  There are fewer minarets than there are in Sarajevo, but they are potent.  And because there is so strong a Christian element in the town, there are constant dramatic disclosures of the essences of Christianity and Islam, each being shown up by its opposite.  Soon there came past the window some Albanians, to begin the revelation.  Though I had my back to them I knew they were on their way, for a look of fatherly concern on my husband’s face told me that he had just caught sight of his first Albanian.  “They are not really coming down,” I said.  No Westerner ever sees an Albanian for the first time without thinking that the poor man’s trousers are just about to drop off.  They are cut in a straight line across the loins, well below the hip-bone, and have no visible means of support; and to make matters psychologically worse they are of white or biscuit homespun heavily embroidered with black wool in designs that make a stately reference to the essential points of male anatomy.  The occasion could not seem more grave, especially as there is often a bunch of uncontrolled shirt bulging between the waistcoat and these trousers.  Nothing, however, happens.

Oh, that RW, she cracks me up, she really does!

Stay tuned.

Southern Vivid

In a few days, self is hopping on a plane and heading south to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins.  It’s been an age, almost a year, since she’s been down there.

Which is a pity because self hugely enjoys the southern part of her home state.  Movie nut that she is, how could she not?

The southern part of California is like the northern part, only everything is bigger and the weather is always warmer.   South means huge palmettos, gardens as lush and colorful as a Rousseau painting, Vroman’s, and The Huntington Botanic Gardens.  It means Claremont and driving and malls that feel shiny and new and women with great tans and poodles.

It means cavernous movie theaters where you get to pick a seat based on a seating chart (Just like in the movie theaters in that mall in Magalang, Pampanga!)

Anyhoo, travel energizes self.  Always.

And, son and Jennie are there.  Which means self will not be alone, as she usually is during her hectic peregrinations.

Now, she will have dinners to share and people to talk to.  She will discover new restaurants (though the milk shakes down south are humongous.  Those could keep you going two full days, at least)

And you know what else is down south?  Her Villanueva relatives from Bacolod —  woot hoot!  For some reason, they all settled down there.  All except for niece Ri Na, who’s in Sacramento (Must visit her soon!)

Yesterday, self received both good news and bad news.

The good was that she got an e-mail from the editors of the Crab Orchard Review that her short story “Crackers” had been accepted for their special issue on writing from The West and Beyond, which is planned for publication in September this year.

Right after that, she got two contest results, and naturally she did not win or even place.

Back to the good.

Ever since self got that e-mail from Crab Orchard Review, she’s been checking her “in” box almost every two hours, just to make sure she didn’t dream the whole thing.  Because, folks, she’s been sending her stories to this particular magazine for decades.  She sometimes panics and thinks:  It’s a mistake!  They didn’t mean to put self’s name on the acceptance letter!  Someone will apologize and say, That letter wasn’t meant for you!  It was meant for someone else!

Anyhoo, self still hasn’t gotten the retraction, so she still feels pretty great.

Deciding which books to bring along is harder than the decision about what to wear.  First of all, BLGF is 1000-plus pages and is, moreover, hardcover, so if self decides to bring it she will have to check in her luggage.  Must. Discuss. With. Jennie.

Self happened to glance at her text messages just a minute ago, and there’s another message from Jennie to dress “business casual” for an event she’s taking self to.  Oooh, fun!  Self asks Jennie whether that means a suit, or can she just wear a skirt and sweater?  Does she need to bring along pumps?

Self had almost decided to leave BLGF behind, in favor of some less prodigious paperback, when she gets yet another Jennie Text:  Bring your books!

YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Mondays: Quote of the Day (3 February 2014)

Self just can’t get over having to type year “2014.” It feels momentous because of Philip Seymour-Hoffman.

By sheer coincidence, the story self has been reading in The New Yorker of 20 January 2014, by Akhil Sharma, begins this way:

As far back as I can remember, my parents have bothered each other.  In India, we lived in two concrete rooms on the roof of a house.  The bathroom stood separate from the living quarters.  The sink was attached to one of the exterior walls.  Each night, my father would stand before the sink, the sky above him full of stars, and brush his teeth until his gums bled.  Then he would spit the blood into the sink and turn to my mother and say, “Death, Shuba, death.”

“Yes, yes, beat drums,” my mother said once.  “Tell the newspapers, too.  Make sure everyone knows this thing you have discovered.”  Like many people of her generation, those born before Independence, my mother viewed gloom as unpatriotic.

The title of the story is “A Mistake.”

Self fervently wishes that 2014 will turn out to be a good year.  She did finally do some things she’d been wanting to do for months:  she decided to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins this coming weekend, and she signed up for yoga classes (which have been extremely fun).

And while yesterday turned out to be a terrible day for Peyton Manning, it was good for California because it rained steadily (at last! Though we’ll need lots more to get through the drought).  Self and The Man caught the Oscar-Nominated Short Films (Animation) at the Aquarius, and afterwards had coffee around the corner at La Boulange.

Of the short animation films, self’s favorite was Feral, directed by Daniel Sousa.  The Man said it was “too dark,” but self liked that it was.  The one she found the most corny was Room on the Broom, an entry from the UK which featured some very heavy hitters doing voice work: Gillian Anderson, Sally Hawkins, and Simon Pegg.

Which brings us back to Philip Seymour-Hoffman.  Self found out while perusing the web, late last night, and it was terrible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Beginning 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

What does the word BEGINNING mean to self?

The first sentence of the prompt on the WordPress Daily Post says it all:

HELLO 2014.

It means discovery and inspiration, whether that means a fresh take on dressing (White on white looks so good in the summer!), or a monument in the town of Vicenza, to a man who set out with Magellan on “the first voyage around the world,” and memories of New Year’s Day (2012).

White on white is fabulous. I'll try this look soon as the weather warms.

White on white is fabulous. Self snapped this picture in Stafford Park, during the Wednesday evening summer concert series.  She can’t wait to try this look soon as the weather warms.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan's voyage around the world, only one of 33 survivors.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta's hometown.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan’s voyage around the world.  Pigafetta was only one of 33 survivors who made the voyage home. Magellan died in the Philippines.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta’s hometown.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park:  Watching last year's Rose Bowl.  Stanford won, ending many years of drought.  That was a lot of fun.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park: Watching last year’s Rose Bowl. Stanford won, ending many years of drought. That was a lot of fun.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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