Transition 2: One Day in Venice

The whole of 2015 has been about travel, travel, travel.

Writing, too.

But here are pics from the day self and her niece Irene went to Venice, early this month. Venice is only two hours away from Florence by fast train. Self and niece are such adventurers!

The train pulled into the Ferrovia Train Station, across from the very old church of Santa Lucia. From Ferrovia, we took the vaporetto to San Marco Square, where we shared a dessert at one of the outdoor cafés.

2nd post on this week’s WordPress Daily Post theme: TRANSITION


Niece and self shared a sundae at an outdoor café on San Marco Square, early November: The weather was beautiful, like fall in California!

Self took these pictures from the vaporetto on the way back to Ferrovia (which lurched so much: hence, these blurred pictures), late afternoon:


On the Vaporetto to Ferrovia from San Marco: early November


Another From the Same Vaporetto Ride

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



The Amazing-ness of George Eliot

This novel gets self every page. Every single page.

Middlemarch, p. 707:

“I think we must not set down people’s bad actions to their religion,” said falcon-faced Mrs. Plymdale.


Directions for the Journey to the Meaning of Reality

While self was wandering around Florence, early this month, she stumbled into the Palazzo Vecchio. Milling about in the lobby were participants in a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Luigi Giussani. It was the first she’d ever heard of this man who, one of the conference staff told self, was a much admired teacher and writer.

Self walked away with a brochure of his writings, and wasted no time opening the brochure. She was very struck by this statement:


Then, she read a discourse on the meaning of the word “Thing”:

I would be amazed by the stupefying repercussion of a presence which is expressed in current language by the word “thing.” Things! “Thing,” which is a concrete and, if you please, banal presence which I do not myself make, which I find. A presence which imposes itself upon me. At this moment, if I am attentive, that is, if I am mature, then I cannot deny that the greatest and most profound evidence is that I do not make myself, I am not making myself. I do not give myself being, or the reality which I am. I am “given.” This is the moment of maturity when I discover myself to be dependent on something else.

Self has a story in the New Orleans Review called — THING.

The consonance of her Thing with Monsignor Giussani’s discourse on the word Thing is super-mindblowing! It’s as if self’s frail tendrils of story, and this always-churning imagination of hers, has transported her across the ocean to Italy, simply so that she can receive a brochure at the Palazzo Vecchio where a teacher and philosopher tries to explain the meaning of Thing. Of Thing-ness.

Self’s story is about humanoids in the post-apocalyptic Earth. Where no one looks human anymore. Hence the use of the generic to describe that which-is-neither-here-nor-there. That which is thing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Quote of the Day, MIDDLEMARCH, p. 595

It is certainly trying to a man’s dignity to reappear when he is not expected to do so; a first farewell has pathos in it, but to come back for a second lends an opening to comedy . . .

MIDDLEMARCH: The Moment When Lydgate — !!


With the whole weight of town opinion solidly against him, his own wife cold and ready to break camp at any moment, Tertius Lydgate (who the now widowed Dorothea loves) goes to Dorothea. He tells her how his reputation has been sullied by his association with a man of ill-repute, Bulstrode. He sees no other recourse tham to leave Middlemarch.

Dorothea never wavers. Tell me, she urges Lydgate. Tell me all.

And he does.

What a moment! Almost like the one in Mockingjay Part 2 where Katniss seizes Peeta’s face and tells him: STAY WITH ME.

Here’s how Eliot writes the scene (There are many threads. Self will not explain them other than to say: Self is on p. 727, people. Do not expect her to summarize the previous 727!)

  • The searching tenderness of her woman’s tones seemed made for a defence against ready accusers. Lydgate did not stay to think that she was Quixotic: he gave himself up, for the first time in his life, to the exquisite sense of leaning entirely on a generous sympathy, without any check of proud reserve. And he told her everything, from the time when, under the pressure of his difficulties, he unwillingly made his first application to Bulstrode; gradually in the relief of speaking, getting into a more thorough utterance of what had gone on in his mind — entering fully into the fact that his treatment of a patient was opposed to the dominant practice, into his doubts at the last, his ideal of medical duty, and his uneasy consciousness that the acceptance of the money had made some difference in his private inclination and professional behavior, though not in his fulfillment of any publicly recognized obligation.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Transition 3: Further Adventures in Italy

First “transition”: a dish about to be consumed


A bowl of navy beans and pasta, which she was told was very “Venetian.” She had it for lunch at the Florian Café on San Marco Square.

The whole of Venice itself is in transition. The houses rest on pylons that are thousands of years old. They look as if they could sink into the sea at any moment:


On the Venetian Lagoon, early November

And, finally, here is Pisa, as the sun sets across the Field of Miracles:


Because self and her niece had so much fun, when her niece suggested another trip in 2016, self immediately said, “I’m there.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dearest Mum, Who Played in Carnegie Hall

When she was 14 or 15. She won The New York Times piano competition.

This Manila newspaper article focuses on her fashion style. She picked out the clothes herself. The article describes her clothing choices as very “atonal.”

nena del rosario 001

Nena del Rosario Villanueva

Dearest Mum had the tiniest waist: 23 inches all around. Alas, self did not inherit Dearest Mum’s fabulous figure. That honor went to self’s older sister.

Growing up, self resisted all attempts to get dressed up. Even after she started giving readings. “It’s about what’s inside,” she remembers saying to Dearest Mum. “No one has the time to figure out the inner you, so why don’t you just make it easy for them,” Dearest Mum would retort.

Self is so perverse that she continued to dress badly. On purpose.

Now, self is finally beginning to come around to Dearest Mum’s way of thinking.

Years and years later, self is in VCCA when she peeks into an artists studio and spies Drew, playing on a piano. She strikes up a conversation. Eight years later, Drew composes a full-length opera based on one of self’s novellas.

Would you believe, self missed a Nov. 19 concert in Carnegie Hall; the violinist played an original composition by Drew. Sometimes self is very, very stupid.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Transition: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is TRANSITION.

Some examples from The Daily Post:

  • a photo of your little one’s first steps
  • a sunset scene, as your world passes from day to night
  • waves kissing a shoreline, the space between land and sea

Self took this picture during a stopover at the Zurich airport, early this month:


Sunset: Zurich International Airport, early November

And here’s a picture self took from a cab as it crossed a bridge over the Arno River in Florence:


Crossing the Arno River, early November

The leaves in Florence were turning, when self and her niece were there in early November:


Park, Florence: Early November

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


The Final Post on TRIOS: the New Whitney Museum, Cork, the Lake at Annaghmakerrig

It is the day after Thanksgiving. Snap out of your food comas, everyone!

Self must say, this year’s Thanksgiving was brilliant. Self ate more than she’s ever eaten in her life. Her friend was up at 6 a.m. because she and her daughter are going to the mall. But self has an on-line class to get caught up on, so she chose to stay behind.

Before delving into her student pieces, however, self peruses her archives so that she can make one last post on WordPress Photo Challenge this week:  TRIO.

Self took the first picture in a museum she considers one of the best in the entire world: The new Whitney Museum. On exhibit right now: a retrospective on Frank Stella.


On the 6th Floor of the New Whitney Museum (Didn’t take down the name of the artist, boo)

The second picture is from one of self’s happy places: Café Paradiso in Cork, Ireland.


From a Book on Dublin-born Artist Sean Scully, which was in Self’s Room in Café Paradiso, Cork

And finally, a picture of the Mother of All Happy Places, a place that signifies peace, happiness, mindfulness, inspiration: the lake in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig.


3 Metal Bars Sticking out of the Lake in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

Fan Fiction: Synth, Chapter 2

KTNS-12 is an android, only two days old, when Alma Coin decides to try negative reinforcement to get her compliance to a command and slaps her.

KTNS-12 doesn’t give an inch.

The story is told in first-person, and the writing is wonderful.

No, I say with my body. Back off.

Alarm flashes through those colorless eyes as Coin realizes her mistake, and instinct keeps my gaze locked on hers until she turns away in defeat.

I will not be a pawn, I decide. I am a Queen in my own right, standing alone but proud on my side of the board. Or, at least, I will be in time, once I have experience to match knowledge.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wretchedness in MIDDLEMARCH

Self loves the word “wretched.” One of her UCLA Extension students used it in a writing assignment, and she thinks it is probably becoming one of her favorite words. It says so much, “wretched” does.


She’s on p. 666 of Middlemarch. Poor Lydgate. Poor, poor Lydgate. He is riding home to his cold wife, Rosamond. She is the fairest woman in all Middlemarch, everyone considered it quite a feather in his cap when he married her, but after only a very short time, they have proved to be disappointments to each other. The cause of this disappointment and estrangement is money. Rather, the lack of it. The awful degradation of destitution. Apparently, it’s an awful humiliation. At least, it is to Rosamond.

Lydgate, after seeing a patient, returns home in a very miserable state of mind. His wife doesn’t even bother getting up to greet him, just lies on the bed, pale and still. And what does the poor man do?

He goes up to her and says, “Forgive me for this misery, my poor Rosamond! Let us only love one another.”

His wife looks at him silently, “blank despair” on her face. Finally, she tells Lydgate she will return to her parents.

“Do you object?” she asks her husband.

“Do as you like,” he replies.

She tells him she will not leave immediately. “I shall want to pack my clothes,” she says. “I won’t go till tomorrow.”

And that is all.

Only a Matter of Time

Self is teaching an on-line class for UCLA Extension’s Writers Program, and it’s nonfiction. Now that the holidays are near, and the writing prompts get more complicated, she worries that her students will fall apart. Self is like a mother hen, clucking over her chicks, constantly admonishing, Don’t let the thought of carving the bird deter you from your writing tasks!

She begins each course with instructions on doing daily writing, emphasizing the importance of dailiness to honing the writing “muscle.”

Now, in the fourth week of the class, a student turns in an assignment about “a better version of you,” a version that carries a notebook around town (Los Angeles), “the notebook is like a travelogue of sorts: city skylines of home and away fill the pages, each thoughtful stroke of her pen drawing a connection to the past. She is always inspired and she is, above all, hopeful.”

Way to go, oh resourceful UCLA Extension writing student. Way to go.


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