This Afternoon in the Bayanihan Center

Well, as dear blog readers know, have terrible insomnia, so was awake at 2 AM and wrote e-mails (lots) until was too groggy to go any further, and napped a little bit before having to get up for the day. What this meant was, had terrible eyebags and this was the day I had to go to the City to participate in Literary Salon: Lamon at Bisyo.

Was really worried that I had nothing to read, and briefly toyed with the idea of backing out. But, figured, I should at least read something, even if unrelated to the theme. (Why do I suffer from such qualms? I should just grab the opportunity by the throat and wring every last vestige of life out of it …)

Decided to park in the Fourth & Mission garage, because was considering going to the Museum of Modern Art after the panel. Today was noticeably cooler than yesterday; saw usual assortment of drunks and homeless people walking along Mission. Asian man scattered buckets of lysol right in front of me on the sidewalk, too late to avoid, shoes received plentiful dose of lysol from wet pavement, imagined myself walking into Bayanihan Center and everyone sniffing.

Met a fellow writer named Philip, one of the writers presenting, and we talked about manuscripts and such. I had brought 120 pages; not that I planned to read them all, of course not. But I figured, I’d see what the others were reading, and then was sure I could find something in those 120 pages that would fit.

Which was exactly what transpired.

We all sat in a circle, JT in the middle. He began by asking me to share with the group what I had found in my research on “vice, excess, gluttony”. I told him that it wasn’t exactly research; all I did was google “vice, excess, and gluttony.”

“So?” JT said. “What did you come up with?”

I came up with a site from the Newman Center; explained to the group that I hadn’t realized until just then that the writer of the article I found was a priest, the Reverend something-something. At which, group got into a very curious discussion of whether the word “Reverend” belonged to a Protestant, possibly Evangelical clergy member, or to a Catholic.

“The Newman Center’s Catholic,” I said (at the same time wondering, how did we get here?)

So, anyway, read my little paragraph about the five kinds of gluttony, which I will now share with you, loyal blog readers:

The first kind of gluttony is being overly picky about the food you are served. An example of this would be my son, I said (recalling times when son would have nothing else to eat except McDonald’s happy meals; this, of course, was before the movie Supersize Me showed us all how people who eat Big Macs regularly eventually develop heart disease. Naturally, I mentioned none of these reminiscences, which were then flashing through my mind with surprising rapidity, brain on overdrive — must be the tension! — all synapses firing away).

The second kind of gluttony is being overly fussy about how food is prepared, I continued. An example of this would be my husband, who once, when I asked him to beat a couple of eggs for a dish I was making, insisted he could only do it if I found him a wire whisk.

The third kind of gluttony is overeating, and the guilty party is myself.

The fourth kind of gluttony is eating at inappropriate times. Hmmm, I thought, this would apply to my students, who constantly come to my class with all sorts of brown bag food, even, sometimes, Happy Meals.

And the last kind of gluttony, I told the audience, (who were extremely silent, perhaps in amazement at my erudition — if self had known I’d be delivering the gluttony lecture, would at least have taken notes as I read!) is wolfing one’s food, uncouth table manners due to over-intense involvement with the food.

Dear blog reader, it is a miracle that I even uttered the above with calm and equanimity, and made out as though I had spent days and days researching the topic, when all I did was google, five minutes before leaving the house. So, anyway, was relieved when JT called on Lolan Sevilla to read, and her piece was from her chapbook. Before she started to read, Lolan asked audience to tell her whether they wanted to hear about sex or gambling. Majority wanted to hear about sex, so Lolan read an extremely intense, lyrical piece about having sex with another woman.

And so forth and so on, each reader bringing to the fore examples of scintillating writing about various excesses, though I believe hands-down champ has to be JT, who deliverd the raunchiest reading ears have ever yet encountered, complete with hand gestures. JT, you’re such a card! It is really strange for me to listen to readings about sex when I am in a room surrounded by other people. (Can’t help wondering if we all have the same scenario playing in our minds. Probably — aren’t writers constantly visualizing? Unfortunately, not comfortable enough with the rest of the audience to want to imagine what they must be visualizing — or maybe not visualizing — perhaps it is only I who can’t help imagining eruption of bodily fluids, extreme nakedness, extreme physical activity among sheets or on the floor, etc. etc.)

Afterwards, we all helpfully trundled our folding chairs to a small back room, and grabbed whatever we could of the food that was left over from the reception. I was lucky enough to snag an unopened bag of shrimp chips, which I managed to finish even before getting home, with one hand on steering wheel and the other firmly imbedded (that word again!) in bag of shrimp chips next to me on passenger seat.

Example of Gluttony # 5: There are indeed some people who just can’t seem to maintain equilibrium without having something in their mouths all the time

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