Enjoyment III

Very happy, returned an hour ago from the City, Bindlestiff panel a lot of fun, was with: a trio of funny Filipinas who used to be, a few years ago, The Mail-Order Brides, and are now Professional Bridesmaids For Rent (something like the Wedding Crashers, only female); also, was with Jeannie Barroga, who I learn is now Artistic Director of the Asian American Theatre Company; and with actress Rhoda Gravador (who had to leave early because she’d promised to pick up her brother-in-law’s dog, or something like that, it’s a long story); and with singer Golda Supernova (Very funny, talked about growing up in Alaska and how you have to follow your bliss— which, I guess I’m all for that, but what I really wanted to ask her was: how does a young thing like you manage to juggle two children and all the singing and still follow your bliss? Because when I was your age and son was a toddler, it was all I could do just to clean up his poop!)

Panel topic (as described in Bindlestiff brochure): Some of our favortie Filipino American women artists speak about their own trials and triumphs juggling self, family, career and art.

To which I can only say: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Anyway, it was a very very enjoyable evening, even though a bright white light shone directly in our faces the whole time, and I was sure every pore, every wrinkle, every eyebag was exposed to audience scrutiny; even though someone asked us if we really all wanted to be artists on the level of “Britney Spears or Tom Cruise”, and I couldn’t help it, I just had to come out with: I think we can all agree that Britney Spears is NOT an artist (I should have added, “And neither is Tom Cruise!” But I would have felt guilty, since I did enjoy Mission Impossible III.)

Organizers served up a pre-panel meal of sushi and Aram sandwiches and Odwallah juice and those yummy petite brownies they sell at Costco, and even though bits got stuck in my teeth and niece was not there to check whether I had any embarrassing “tinga”, I was so happy. Even though it took me over an hour to get to the City (Passed THREE traffic accidents on the way — can never understand how people can get into accidents when all they have to do is DRIVE IN A STRAIGHT LINE) and I had to park FAR from the theatre and walk down a very deserted, dark alley . . .

Everyone, the events are continuing through July, and then the group moves to a brand new space across the street, which was made possible only by generous help from San Francisco’s mayor — yes, that same embattled mayor who confessed to having had an affair with his campaign manager’s wife, who now is in rehab for alcohol abuse, but who I can only think of in a kindly way because of the help he has extended to the Filipino community . . .

And now to bed, because have whole-day faculty retreat at xxxx community college tomorrow, and must wake up very early and present at least the appearance of being a dedicated teacher (which I am, actually, in spite of all my blathering …)!

Head in a whirl . . .

Forgive me for using this blog to belabor your ears (or rather, your eyes) dear blog reader, but my poor head is spinning, literally spinning, with all sorts of permutations and possibilities.

Was invited to read at University of Hawaii at Manoa. Oh no! Sponsors are poor, cannot cover my airfare. Never mind, I told them, I’ll apply to Poets & Writers. Having said which, immediately go to Poets & Writers website, find the number for my “area” (Los Angeles), call office, perky girl tells me readings in Hawaii are not eligible for funding.

But, but, I say, almost spluttering, doesn’t your website say you make some exceptions for cases where multicultural communities will be served? And, I mean, Hawaii is very multicultural.

Girl says, Hawaii? I’m from Hawaii. Are you reading at the East-West Center?

No, I say. But it IS at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

What department is sponsoring you? Girl asks, suddenly very interested.

Ahh, ahh, I say, let me see: Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures.

What is THAT? girl shrieks.

I go, ahhh, ahhh, I don’t know, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of them myself, but it was very nice of them to ask me, I mean …

What’s your name, demands officious girl.

Ahhh, why, are you Filipina? I ask.

No, girl says. But I’m a poet myself.

Ah, ahhh, I say, stammering. And I give her my name. Which, how stupid, I should have pretended to be one of my esteemed colleagues, perhaps a poet. Because my name does not have any effect on girl at all, it’s obvious she’s never heard of me, and our call comes to an abrupt end.

OK, humiliation does not end there. Because I determine that even though I am only part-time at xxxx community college, I learn that they do occasionally fund travel for part-time instructors, when there is a surplus in the grant budget. So, last week, in addition to laboring over NEA (which I did not complete anyway), and grading papers, and teaching, I also prepared very complicated grant application to xxxx community college. Walked it in to the Dean myself to get her approval (required).

Dean sits me down in front of her, fixes me with a steely stare, and asks, “How many classes will you be missing?”

Ahhh, ahhh, I say, I’m not even sure my spring class will make . . .

“That’s true,” Dean says. Last year, it didn’t make. It’s a Women Writers class.

She signs my application. I walk it over to the Administrative Office, in pouring rain (lost my umbrella).

Daily, I’ve been checking round trip fares to Hawaii. A month ago, when this whole process started, I could still get fares at $400. Now, today, when I check, they are $700 and climbing.

In some desperation (also because I have to leave for Bindlestiff in a few minutes), I settle on my last hope: dearest Mum in the Philippines.

Ahhh, ahhh, Mum? I say.

Yes? She goes. Am I all set? Did you tell Tito M I’m staying with him?

Ahhh, no, I say. So why don’t you just stay with us? (Accch, I said it! There! I don’t know why, it just slipped out! I’ll have to put her in son’s room, which is a mess. But I have an ulterior motive, better get it over with, now!)

And she says, “Well, OK, but just for one night.”

“That’s great!” I say. “Just so great! And, aaah, Mom, there’s one other thing. You know, you haven’t given me a Christmas or birthday present yet this year, and ah, I’ve been invited to read in Hawaii, and ahhhh, the air fare is very expensive, and ahhh, what if we went halves?”

Mum airily says, “What? No problem, no problem, go ahead.”

But, I tell her, “It really IS very expensive, so I think we should go halves. It’s — $700!!”

And she suddenly says, “When is this reading again?”

Oh, GOD! My heart is sinking! But of course, I cannot tell a lie, I have been trained by nuns of the Assumption Convent. So I tell her, “Mid-April” (off by one week, but maybe that’ll be enough to —)

“Oh,” she says. “Maybe I can go with you.”


“Ah, yes! That would be great! Um, um …”

“Listen,” dearest Mum says. “I have to go now. This phone call is going on too long.”

Oh, Okay! Bye, Mum! See you, in like, three days!

And afterwards I just press my fist against my mouth and howl, howl, howl.

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