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.


Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!


The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Contrasts 10: Still in Squaw Valley

Still mostly working on photographing the contrast between sunlight and shadow.

Squaw Valley is amazingly beautiful, even without snow.

The Village, Early Morning:  Sunlight and Shadow

The Village, Early Morning: Sunlight and Shadow

From My Balcony

View From the Balcony of Self’s Unit

And now for something completely different:  Self was fascinated by this woman’s hair (and also her striped knit cardigan).  The woman sat directly in front of self during the Tom Barbash/Christine Meldrum/Mark Childress/Amy Tan reading, a few nights ago:

A member of the audience during the Barbash, Meldrum, Childress, Tan Reading the Other Night

A member of the audience during the Barbash, Meldrum, Childress, Tan Reading the Other Night

Loving it here.  Every moment.

Stay tuned.


Three-Picture Story: AWP Book Fair, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge was THREES: Telling a Three-Picture Story.

It’s a good thing self is at the AWP 2014 conference in Seattle. She has lots and lots of material. Today, she wandered the Book Fair with her roommate, poet and Director of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, Luisa A. Igloria.

Stopped at the table for the Hugo House.  Found out that they’re hosting readings every night.  Tonight’s features Roxane Gay (editor of PANK magazine, which just accepted one of self’s stories for publication, Happy Happy Joy Joy!), John Haskell, Leslie Jamison, Brett Fletcher Lauer, and Amy Leach.

At the Hugo House Table, a "Reaping" of Sorts!

At the Hugo House Table, a “Reaping” of Sorts!

The Richard Hugo House in Seattle had a table at the AWP Book Fair.

Luisa reaches into the bowl to find her fortune.

Luisa and self each picked one.

Luisa and self each picked one.  This was self’s (!!!).  She likes!


Self realizes this is a four-picture story.  But she’s never been good at following directions.  Never.

Stay tuned.

First Reading Attended at Kepler’s Since Who-Knows-When

Self hasn’t attended a reading at Kepler’s in who-knows-how-long.

It’s been a Menlo Park mainstay for decades.  Self knew it first as a small purveyor of paperbacks, in a teensy shopping center off El Camino.

They moved to a much nicer space after son was born, right next to Cafe Borrone.  Self gave a reading there for her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila.

For a while, there were fears it might close.  But loyal patrons saved it.  Now, the store soldiers on.

There were so many things happening this weekend:  the ballet, Zack’s reading last night at the Bayanihan Community Center.  Self couldn’t make it to Zack’s reading because the ballet was happening —  So sorry, Zack!  But this afternoon, when she saw that Tremors (The University of Arkansas Press), the anthology of Iranian American writers that Anita Amirrezvani co-edited with Persis Karim, she dashed over, and was so glad she did.

  • Seven readers:  six women, one man.
  • One rude heckler (He tried everything to disrupt the event:  clapping loudly, muttering things under his breath, even belching), unfortunately seated directly behind self.
  • A fellow Stanford Creative Writing Fellow, Sharon May (whose story, “The Wizard of Kaho-I-Dang” was set in Cambodia, and told from the point of view of a man).
  • And the very charming Anita Amirrezvani herself, whose first novel, Blood of Flowers, self remembered being so enthralled by, and whose second novel, Equal of the Sun, has just been published by Scribner.

And here they all are, post-reading!

Anita Amirrezvani (the tall woman in the center), with the contributors to the Iranian American anthology, TREMORS, at Kepler's Books Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013

Anita Amirrezvani (the tall woman in the center), with the contributors to the Iranian American anthology, TREMORS, at Kepler’s Books Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013

Aren’t they all just radiant?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Announcing: Launch of the Anthology NEW CALIFORNIA WRITING 2013

Just heard about this from the fabulous Donna Miscolta.  Self is going, for sure!

Come to the launch for the 3rd of the Heyday series on New California Writing, edited by Gayle Wattawa and Kirk Glaser:  New California Writing 2013:  Shifts and Rifts.

When:  Thursday, Apr. 11, 6 to 8:30 pm

Where:  California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco

Tickets:  $5 general admission, $20 book + admission

6 p.m. reception will have free tacos, beer and wine!

Readings begin at 6:30.  Featured readers:  Jodi Angel, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Elizabeth Creely, Chieun “Gloria” Kim, David Mas Masumoto, Zara Raab, Greg Sarris, Stephen Gutierrez, Robert Hass, Kevin Hearle, Sylvia Linsteadt, Donna Miscolta, Juan Velasco Moreno, Keenan Norris

The official announcement is here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Save the Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 2 p.m. at Berkeley Central Library, Staged Reading of Filipino World War II Novel

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2 p.m. at Berkeley Central Library, Community Meeting Room, 3rd Floor, 2090 Kittredge Street, Berkeley

A Staged Reading of In Her Mother’s Image, a World War II novel by C. Gaerlan

From the press release:

This is the story of an estranged mother and daughter set mostly during World War II Philippines.  The war is seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old child, Chiquita, who bears witness to an act of betrayal committed by her formidable mother, Consuelo.  The emotional toll of the war is palpable even after the passage of 30 years, when Chiquita returns to the land of her birth.

Admission is FREE.

In Her Mother’s Image is part of the Bataan Legacy Project, whose aim is to spread the true story of Bataan and the sacrifices of the Bataan/ Corregidor defenders as well as the entire Filipino nation.

Stay tuned.

Self’s 2012 in Pictures: # 9

Washington, DC:  on the anniversary of Pres. Abraham Lincoln's assassination.  Will you just look at that line waiting to get into the Ford Theater ???

Washington, DC: on the anniversary of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Will you just look at that line waiting to get into the Ford Theater ???

In April, self was invited to participate in a group reading at the National Portrait Gallery.  It was a great trip.  For the first time in who knows how long, The Man elected to come along.  The reading was co-sponsored by the Asian American Literary Review and the Smithsonian Asian-Pacific Program.  A great time was had by all.  The weather, all the days of her stay in DC, was just gorgeous.

Just in Time for the Holidays: A Thought from Robert Greene

We are in the thick of the holiday season.  There are so many bad-tempered drivers on the road.  We are expecting a storm.

Yesterday’s reading by Lysley Tenorio was fun.  He wore a paisley blue shirt and very intellectual glasses.  Rashaan was rocking an embroidered top, patterned black tights, and boots.  Barbara elected to go for the all-black look.  Edwin Lozada was in a tweed jacket.  One of the consular officials wore a necklace of multi-colored pearls.  Niece G wore a very fetching blue plaid blouse, a colorful Indian-looking scarf, and jeans.  Niece surprised self by saying that she would like to go to Manila to lose some weight (Niece, you are gorgeous!  You do not need to lose any weight!  It is self who must lose weight!  But she thinks Manila is not the place for her to do it!  Not with Mesa in Greenbelt 5 issuing its siren call:  Crispy Leche Flan!  Crispy Leche Flan!  Crispy Leche Flan!)

Now, either out of recklessness or sheer exhaustion, self knows not which, she is back to reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power.  She flips open the book at random and lands on Law # 13:

When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.

There is always a fairy tale that illustrates the wisdom of the law.  This one is from Aesop’s Fables.  It is called “The Peasant and the Apple Tree.”

A peasant had in his garden an apple tree which bore no fruit but only served as a perch for the sparrows and grasshoppers.  He resolved to cut it down and, taking his ax in hand, made a bold stroke at its roots.  The grasshoppers and sparrows entreated him not to cut down the tree that sheltered them, but to spare it, and they would sing to him and lighten his labors.  He paid no attention to their request, but gave the tree a second and a third blow with his ax.  When he reached the hollow of the tree, he found a hive full of honey.  Having tasted the honeycomb, he threw down his ax, and, looking on the tree as sacred, took great care of it.  Self-interest alone moves some men.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Wednesday of November (2012): The Philippine Consulate, 447 Sutter Street, San Francisco

There was a purported storm!  Supposed to hit the San Francisco Bay Area with a powerhouse punch!  It was all over the news yesterday and this morning, but when self drove to the City, the weather was practically balmy.

Self had occasion to thank her lucky stars that she lives in California!  A sentiment with which Niece G was in wholehearted agreement, having just come from spending Thanksgiving in New York, which according to her was a frigid 38 degrees.

Tonight, niece and self spent the evening in the cheery confines of the San Francisco Consulate at 447 Sutter.  This is a nondescript building, with some very fab posters of Philippine beaches adorning the various antiseptic hallways.

Who knew such fun was to be had in that consular place?  It was a reading for Lysley Tenorio, whose book of short stories, Monstress, has just been published (and, dare self say, blurbed by some very A-list writers).  It was a surprising evening in many ways, not least because Lysley was rocking a blue paisley shirt!  He read so well, he earned the undying adulation of Niece G, self, and all the consular officials!

Rashaan Alexis Meneses (soon to be in Hawthornden) was there, too, rocking a sort of hip Filipino look, with an embroidered top she said she bought from H & M, and a ‘do that was vaguely 20s Flapper!  And intricate patterned black tights!  And boots!  Self wondered why she can’t dream up outfits similar to Rashaan’s.  Must be because she is hopeless at shopping.  She definitely has inherited none of Dearest Mum’s genes in this regard.  Maybe Rashaan can accompany her some day, as a sort of fashion consultant?

And the story Lysley read was about a faith healer named Papa Felix.  Papa Felix’s performance hinged on procuring chicken livers from Chinatown!  And the story was just so ha-ha-ha funny!  But poignant, too!  How’d Lysley pull that off ???

Afterwards, Niece and self lined up to have our copies of Monstress signed, like a couple of bloomin’ acolytes, and we started to run off at the mouth a little, and you know what?  Lysley is very nice!  He even pronounced self’s name correctly!  That is, he said:  MAH-REE-YA-NEH!  Pronouncing, or should self say enunciating, with all the syllables so phonetically clear and crisp!

Not to mention, self got a copy of Barbara’s latest book!  She can’t wait to read it!  Barb was looking very hip in all black!  You can only get away with all black if you are a true celebrity!  Like Barbara!

The final cap to the excellent evening was that self got a pound of whole beans from Philz Coffee on 24th and Folsom.  They don’t list the coffee blends on a board, one is expected to have 20/20 eyesight and be able to read the labels on the bins behind the sales counter.  Self asked the salesperson to recommend a dark roast, and he recommended “Ether.”  It is so nice to know that, nestled in self’s freezer at the moment (She always freezes her whole beans), is a lb. of this fabulous Ether.  She has to wait until she finishes her current Ethiopian coffee supply, she is a firm believer in the pleasure of delayed gratification.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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