Back to Work

Below, page 1 of a very, very old work-in-progress. Self was clearing her closets when she stumbled across the hard copy yesterday.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DEAR DEPARTED DAD.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50: TREES

Self is joining a new Photo Challenge: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 : TREES.

Thanks to viveka of My Guilty Pleasures for making self aware of this photo challenge.

The pictures below are from a trip to Prague that she took in late May with her niece, Irene.

1.  Trees, Prague, May 2019 (next to the Spanish Synagogue)

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2.  Last Sunday in May 2019: Walking by the National Theatre, Prague

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3. Afternoon Cruise Along the Vltava River

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Philip II of Spain, Habsburg

The man after whom self’s native country is named is Philip II.

She’s been writing a story about him for the past couple of years. It begins with a physical description and all of a sudden, self itches to see actual portraits (You’d think she’d have done this first thing, but noooo, self always has to do things the hard way)

So, here he is, dear blog readers: Philip II, King of Spain and Portugal, King of Naples, Ruler of the Spanish Netherlands, and Duke of Milan:

Born in Valladolid, 16 January 1556, died in Madrid on 13 September 1598. He was 71.

Stay tuned.

Certain Favorites: ONCE UPON A RIVER

Trying hard to keep this post spoiler-free. Don’t worry, she’s only a third of the way through this novel. She’s not giving away any big secrets or anything.

We are at a Vaughan chapter. Self has to admit, this character is one of her favorites. (How lucky is she that she just finished Northanger Abbey and then stumbled into another great novel. This doesn’t happen often. That is why she appreciated discovering Phillip Pullman and reading His Dark Materials all in one go.)

Setterfield is really good at describing sows, pet pigs, etc First there was Maud the Sow, who was kidnapped (Who kidnaps a sow? a character asks. Yeah, WHO?). Martha, a pig, Maud’s daughter, becomes a replacement confidant for one of the characters (There are so many pigs on farms in the Philippines and no one’s ever written about them. Or turned them into characters. Why not give it a try, self?)

Vaughan had a disorienting encounter several chapters ago with Mrs. Constantine. He lost his daughter — “taken” — when she was four. He’s just been going through the motions ever since. Then someone rescues a man and a four-year-old girl from the river. A servant tells his wife the news before Vaughan gets a chance to tell her himself, and then his wife takes off, just like that, to the inn where the drowned/rescued girl has been taken.

These actions, while thrilling, are so perfectly in character. Self finds herself nodding over the pages, saying “Yes, yes. Go on.”

As for Vaughan, he couldn’t go on. He went on.

As for the man who was rescued with the little girl, he has remained unconscious for all these pages. He made a big, dramatic entrance in Chapter 1, lost consciousness, and has been lying flat on his back on a table at an inn since forever. All self knows about him is that a nurse practitioner (or whatever you called healers in that time, in England) came and examined his entire naked body very thoroughly, and deduced that his injuries were survivable, and also that he was a photographer.

She only heard of Diane Setterfield at the Fowey Festival of the Arts. She went to Bookends of Fowey and asked if they could recommend a book by Setterfield “to start with.” Once Upon a River was out of the question because it was hardcover and very thick, and self had still weeks of travel to go. She bought it, though, just before leaving London.

In another piece of luck, self has been back from London for two whole days, and her weirdo neighbor has not made a peep (until this afternoon, when she heard muffled stirrings from the other side of the fence. UGH. She’s confident he’ll never discover this blog, because he doesn’t seem to do anything all day, and has no friends. He has stuffed animals lined up in his living room window, and seems to think self has a crush on him. She’ll be really distressed if he shows himself, frankly. It will ruin her plans for the summer, which are: to remain entirely, unreservedly, stress-free. One day when she was running out of conversational topics with Dearest Mum, resident of Manila, she told Dearest Mum about this neighbor. True to form, Dearest Mum giggled and said she was so happy to know that self had an admirer!!!)

Something is going to happen. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feet and Legs

It’s been a while since self participated in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week’s is FEET AND LEGS!

Here are some pictures from self’s current trip that relate to the theme:

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Socks from the V & A Gift Shop: Saw the Mary Quant Exhibit

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Cork, Ireland, May 2019: Her ballerina flats have gotten very tattered on this trip, she may have to discard!

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Paradiso, Cork, May 2019: She bought the Converse sneakers in London within days of her arrival. They have taken quite a beating since this picture was taken: scuffed and smudged everywhere.

Trips really do a number on her shoes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland

Self’s new literary crush is Northanger Abbey‘s Henry Tilney. In his exceedingly dry wit, he is the perfect foil for our heroine, she with the unquenchable thirst for the Gothic, Catherine Morland.

p. 177:

Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains — and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your curiosity in so favorable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly arise, and throwing your dressing-gown around you, proceed to examine this mystery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Comedy of Manners

Persuasion, p. 39:

  • The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration, perhaps of improvement. The father and mother were in the old English style, and the young people in the new. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove were a very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable, not much educated, and not at all elegant.

Poetry Friday: Kristin Dimitrova

Self spent all morning in the Blue Room, reading poetry.

Photo on 5-9-19 at 7.11 PM

Lina’s Eyes

from Dimitrova’s collection A Visit to the Clockmaker (Southword Editions, 2005), translated from the Bulgarian by Gregory O’Donoghue

Lina, my blind colleague
always came to classes
with her mother.
They’d take the front seats
& while her mother jotted notes
Lina listened with a solemn face.
(I heard it was a medical mistake —
the nurse pushed the wrong button,
the technicians did not repair the laser?)
Once I dared meet her gaze,
peeped out of my eyes
& waved a signal lamp as
they do directing aeroplanes.
I saw just two blank windows.
Behind the masonry a prisoner
walked to & fro hoping to get
used to the darkness.

 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco 1958

Self stood beneath the wisteria on her front porch and thought of this poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

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Wisteria: Evening, 28 March 2019

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

— from I am Waiting, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The rest of the poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Can we all agree that 1958 sounds a lot like 2016.

Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress, First Draft

“Your Holiness,” Matias said, trying to mask his excitement by imbuing his voice with a tone of the most abject humility. “You have not yet informed me where I am to be assigned.”

The Bishop acted as if he was surprised, but he was not; he had left this piece of information for the last, deliberately.

“Do you know the island called Isla del Fuego?” the Bishop asked.

Matias’s throat contracted. “I do know it,” he answered, carefully. “I believe the natives call it by another name.”

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Self’s novel-in-progress, Blue Water, Distant Shores, is 340 pages of conversations between the Bishop and Matias. And between Matias and his native guide, Diego. Oh, and a few letters. That is all.

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 Items

It’s a good day whenever self can participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. The week’s Fun Foto Challenge is 2 ITEMS OR THE NUMBER 2.

Here are a couple of pics with ‘2 Items.’

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Whipped Cheesecake, Drury Lane, London, May 2019

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Bridge Near Prague’s Jewish Quarter (No time to look up the name of the bridge, self will just wing it!), May 2019

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These two windows were directly across self’s in Hotel Aria, Prague, May 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Report of the Bloody Uprising of 1649 in Samar Province, the Philippines

  • In the bay of Carigara, in a place called Caragono, two galleons were built, one after another: Nuestra Señora de Guia and San Francisco Javier. The labor was paid for the first, but for the second, payment never came.

— paraphrasing from Fr. Francisco Alcina’s report to the Jesuit provincial in Manila. (Fr. Alcina became rector of Samar at the “martyrdom” of his predecessors. He later wrote a groundbreaking work: History of the Bisayan People)

Scarecrow

Somehow, the 13-year-old narrator of Hindsight manages to make a friend, a boy named Scarecrow. They meet at the shelter.

“Let’s go get pancakes,” she tells him.

His eyes widened. “You have money?” he asked.

I nodded. “Just a little,” I lied.

As night falls, Scarecrow takes the narrator to his “squat” — “over a small fence” and then through “a large, empty apartment complex” to the parking garage and “a storage closet . . . on the wall.”

“Do you like me?” he asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. I was in uncharted territory and sinking fast.

He tried to kiss me, but I started to cry.

So instead, he held me in his arms, and asked me what had happened. He somehow knew.

This story is almost unbearably sad, but the narrator’s friendship with Scarecrow has an innocence. Scarecrow takes the narrator on a tour of Hollywood: his favorite breakfast place, Tommy’s (“They make breakfast all hours of the day. Pancake special: $1.99”) and Mann Chinese Theatre. It’s a very sweet interlude.

Unfortunately, they return to the shelter for breakfast the next day and someone reports them. Scarecrow’s 19 and the narrator’s only 13. They’re both arrested and the narrator is taken to a facility in a police car.

UGH. She’s put into an orange jumpsuit and told, “You’re a 601.” She’s put in a cell and the guards are tall, beefy women.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

“Go Home, Kid”

The narrator is directed to a youth shelter by a kindly African American woman who spots her wandering around aimlessly — hurt, exhausted, bleeding. She finally gets promised a bed for the night. Horrible things have happened to her, her first night in LA. Self won’t get into it.

Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Streets of Hollywood, p. 55

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Thirteen.”

She probably heard a touch of that Southern accent on my one word . . .

“Go home, kid,” she said, and then she stood up and walked away.

My God, self thinks. All this happened to my student. At the very least, she should have received medical treatment. She should have been tested. A rape kit. Fluids. She was starving. None of that happened.

Self stayed up till the wee hours, reading.

Stay tuned.

13 and a Runaway

Self is absolutely riveted by this story about a 13-year-old runaway. She has a bipolar mother, an abusive father (who’s already gotten her committed once and keeps threatening to do it again), and an indifferent stepmother. Plus, her only other sibling at home has gradually withdrawn.

She catches a bus from her home in North Carolina to LA. As the bus winds its way through her hometown, she spots her mother’s car, heading in the opposite direction. Her mother, her frail, bi-polar mother, is looking for her. The narrator can’t get the look on her mother’s face out of her head.

Hindsight, p. 52:

“I needed to forget the look . . . I needed never to find out that my mom baked a plate of cookies and left them on the table, window open, so that I might smell them and come inside.”

This mother story makes self tear up.

And then, on p. 54, the 13-year-old is in Los Angeles.

“An older African-American woman walked up to me, perhaps seeing me in a way that no one else had ever truly seen me.”

That African American woman’s kindness saved the narrator’s life. She directed the narrator to a youth shelter.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Carlos Bulosan, Filipino Migrant Worker

Excerpt, Chapter XXIII, America Is In the Heart, a memoir by Carlos Bulosan:

When I went to the kitchen to wash dishes to pay for my food, the woman threw her hands up and said: “That is enough! Go home! Come again!”

I went again and again. But I had no home that winter. One of my companions died of tuberculosis, so Mariano burned the cabin and left town. The nights were cold. Once in a while I could hear church bells ringing, and I would say to myself: “If you can listen long enough to those bells you will be safe. Try to listen again and be patient.” They were my only consolation, those bells. And I listened patiently, and that spring came with a green hope.

I went to Seattle to wait for the fishing season in Alaska.

And that was where Carlos Bulosan died, a victim of tuberculosis.

Stay tuned.

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