Sitting Pretty

First of all, dear blog reader, know that self is presently esconced in Best Western somewhere adjacent to San Diego State campus. Weather is a bit overcast but breeze is balmy (not frigid, as it was when self left the Bay Area). And best of all, wireless networks in this area apparently work, so self is able to blog in privacy of hotel room.

Was met at airport by Prof. Victoria Featherstone, taken to campus, where did extemporaneous talk to class of very bright, tanned young things (one Filipina, who after my talk did not congratulate me but slunk out in a pod of other students, as if needing to be shielded from self — !!), then was treated to fab lunch at Sala Thai in shopping center that reminded me of the ones back home.

Am enjoying this trip hugely. Firstly, while waiting for my flight at San Jose airport, consumed one whole cinnabon. And was just buried in a People Magazine article on Britney Spear’s fondness for hats, when heard voice by my ear saying, “Is that you, Professor Villanueva?” Looked up, mouth full of cinnabon giving me rather a chipmunk look, and saw former student.

Oh, what joy! What a place for a reunion! How are you’s all around.

Know that we were so engrossed in conversation that self completely missed call from niece, who was inquiring why her cell phone was suddenly full of messages from relatives she had never heard of (felt like telling her this was all Dearest Mum’s doing, who is anxious not to have niece too much within self’s sphere of influence, as niece may end up, after four years at Stanford, becoming weird, saturnine, laconic, and morose — definitely not the kind of female that can be trotted out at parties).

Anyways, successfully slid People Magazine out of sight without (I hope) student noticing.

But, dear blog reader, know that I FORGOT the book I was reading, with the page bookmarked to Charles D’Ambrosio’s story, so cannot impart how it ends until tomorrow evening, when self gets back to Redwood City. In fact, my only reading material at the moment (aside from People Magazine, which self surreptitiously slid into carry-all when student wasn’t looking) are The Daily Aztec (really, what a curious mascot for a school) and, well, e-mails from students (especially from Princess of Los Altos and sidekick JP, who I both gave B’s to, which grade — too good for them, but live in fear of hearing from Dean — they profess to regard as serious affronts to their intelligence).

Oh well. Do not expect any Filipinos at tonight’s audience, as someone reminded self it was HOLY WEEK — and no self-respecting Filipino would have scheduled a reading then.

Even if no one shows up tonight, however, self thinks hotel room and free meals and getting away from pesky dogs and being in a place where self can read People Magazine to heart’s content is, how to put it — absolutely priceless.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Day of Laurie Okuma Memorial Reading, Eyebags Tremendous

Fell asleep 1 AM, trying to finish work on syllabus for new course self will be teaching on Monday (Women Writers class cancelled yesterday by Dean due to low enrollment, but still have that 1C that meets at 8 AM, aaaargh!). Also attempted to revise syllabus for UCLA on-line nonfiction course, which self is teaching next month. UCLA kindly gives me access to another instructor’s on-line class so that I can observe. So, last night, because finally had some time, not out with Dearest Mum (who’s at this very moment on plane winging home to Manila: self cannot stop thinking of Dearest Mum on plane, curled up in fluffy red blanket and matching plush slippers, which she proudly displayed before tucking them into carry-on), entered instructor’s class, and then saw instructor had pages and pages of dense lecture notes uploaded (gulp, must get cracking on this sometime in the next few weeks).

Hubby home at 6:30 or 7, self still hard at work (trying to find flight info for today’s flight — ha ha ha!), e-mailing VCCA (I accept, I accept! Thank you so much!), e-mailing professor at San Diego State, doing very belated contacting of people to come to reading tonight, e-mailing students (usual “What’s my grade” requests), e-mailing Women’s Lit students at my other college, etc. etc.

At least, managed to finish Kelly Link story, which ended on very strange note: husband returns home after missing yet another dinner party hosted by wife, sees hundreds of rabbits on lawn, “They’ve been waiting for him, all this time, they’ve been waiting.” He seats himself down on his rabbit, finds himself holding a spear.

Story ends thus: They’ve been waiting for a long time, but the waiting is almost over. In a little while, the dinner party will be over and the war will begin.

@@!!##

Next in the collection was fantastic story by Nathaniel Bellows, who I have never heard of before and whose story, according to Contributors Notes at back of book, is about “two versions of loneliness.” Parent’s of 14-year-old boy hire elderly woman to be his companion while they are out of town; boy is creeped out by piano teacher who finds excuses to touch him in the guise of teaching him proper piano technique. Had one of those hanging endings where you’re not exactly sure what is going to happen next, but elderly woman tries to help boy by informing his parents, boy scoffs at elderly woman’s concerns, but deep down wants to cry.

Before finally conking off last night (or should I say, early this morning, since self didn’t/couldn’t actually get to sleep until 1, and it’s only 5 AM now — !!) began a story by Charles D’Ambrosio, whose name sounds familiar, who I imagine to be someone very old, about as old as Richard Ford, since it seems I have been hearing his name forever. But turns out he has only three books, unlike others in the anthology who have six or seven. So, conclude he must be self’s age. Must ferret out this information, am completely obssessed/ chagrined by self’s lack of production (But hopefully residency at VCCA this August will change all!!)

D’Ambrosio’s story concerns a pair of low-life petty crooks, am somewhat surprised as expected someone with that name to be writing more stately stories, but just goes to show how my inferences are (mostly) wrong. In addition, he is not the East Coast author I imagined him to be when I heard his name: he lives in Portland. His story is of the kind that self was often exposed to during years spent in workshop at Stanford Creative Writing Program: two down-out-and-out people, going on extended road trip through America’s heartland. Since couple stumble on lonely farmhouse after car breaks down, have two alternative possible endings in my head: either “Deliverance” (urbanites encounter the dangers of intruding on the locals), in which case keep expecting the farmer or his wife to come out with the hatchets; or “In Cold Blood”, in which case expect coked-up couple to do away with farmer and his wife. Which is it? Can’t tell you now, as hubby is yelling that I have to “get going”, if I want to get car to long-term parking at San Jose and beat rush hour traffic. Self will not be able to take advantage of car pool lane, so the earlier I get going, the better.

So, so bleary-eyed. Am sorry that will be presenting this face to audience tonight, fervently praying for “atmospheric” lighting at Malcolm A. Love Library, where reading is to be held. Also, have decided to bring laptop with me on its first out-of-town foray, yes!! Hope the little thing doesn’t get all too nervous about leaving confines of happy home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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