House

Today is a strange, strange day, dear blog readers. Self is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow morning. Early this morning, saw e-mail from United urging self to check in for flight on-line. Ignored e-mail, went to xxxx community college. Told Dean self would be “absent” tomorrow. She said, Does your class know? Have you signed the forms? Stupidly, self said yes.

Turned out, after quick check, hadn’t. As self was leaving the office, the administrator handed self a thick wad of papers to sign, in quadruplicate.

Self has been feeling sick since this morning. So, the neck aches terribly. So, self wants to throw up. Chews gum all day to fight off nausea. Notices strange things, such as: what look like bits of speckled blue paint, scattered next to hose in the shed in the backyard. Peer closely, hose has a two-inch hole. Tell hubby (his last week at work; next week he moves from Fremont to Mountain View start-up) and he says, without any hesitation at all, “AAAh, looks like we have a rat.”

Last night — did I tell you? — driving home from my night class, headlights picked out a rat crossing the street right in front of our house. Maybe that is the culprit who chewed up the hose. A brand-new hose, too. Nice and thick and bright green.

After getting back from xxxx community college, think self should start cooking something in the crockpot if it’s going to be ready for tonight’s dinner. Bought corned beef, carrots, cabbage from Safeway, to make hubby’s favorite dish. But, instead, am on living room couch, reading “Formula”, story by Stephanie Dickinson in Blue Mesa Review that has self hanging on every word. See, the protagonist, whose name is Memory, has found a baby all covered in rash on a tent by the beach. And Memory steals the baby. And gets her boyfriend to drive them to a motel room in the middle of nowhere. And boyfriend disappears, leaving Memory with baby whom she has re-named “bebé”, and bebé’s head is covered with scabs that cause her to scream at the slightest touch, and next door is a man in a wheelchair who may have the hots for Memory, only she doesn’t trust him so she locks her door and he gets mad and plays the J. Geils Band song Freeze-Frame over and over at full volume (Wow, even I know that song) until the Vietnamese proprietress named Song comes and bangs on his door . . .

Well, you get the picture, dear blog reader. Looks like hubby’s fave dinner is not going to get made before self gets to Honolulu . . .

In the meantime, have flat-screen HDTV on to a show where everyone is walking around with bulbous, speckled, bald heads, something like a turtle’s. They are on earth but everyone on earth has morphed into these bulb-headed people. Have no idea what self is watching, but whole day is bizarre so this show just fits right in, fits right in, dear blog reader . . .

Report on Having Almost Finished Best American Short Stories 2005

Tomorrow self is leaving for that Filipino writers summit at University of Hawaii. Will be gone almost a week.

Have been so busy haven’t even begun to pack.

Yesterday was first day of spring quarter at xxxxx community college. Self would like to write a long post about the very interesting students who seemed to have landed in self’s section. About the girl from Bangkok whose voice is musically British. About the two Indonesian students who talked about Jakarta and Surabaya. About the student from Hong Kong who was asked by another student if she knew how to pronoucne “Nihon” (!!@@); she didn’t. About the boy who grew up in Russia who, when asked to say “My teacher is wonderful” in Russian came out with the most beautiful string of sounds self had ever heard.

But now is not that time, as neck aches (supremely) and self is leaving for Hawaii in less than 24 hours.

Also, since self is trying her darndest to finish Best American Short Stories 2005 so that self can get started on another book on the plane.

Am almost finished with Best American Short Stories 2005, so if self is lucky, if there are no further interruptions today (from student e-mails, for example), may actually achieve that goal.

This morning, since self is 3/4 of the way through this tome, here are some thoughts self would like to share with you:

    Among the thousands and thousands of stories that were culled down to the 20 that were actually included in this book, why are there two about receiving piano lessons? Self has lived 20-plus years in America and only encountered a handful of people who confessed to taking such. Perhaps people who write about piano lessons (so, protagonists are not in Juilliard or Curtis; they are in middle school or high school — in other words, misfits in the general hierarchy of school life) are exceptionally talented; or perhaps editor (who will remain nameless now, since self was flamed a few days ago when daring to pronounce judgement on a story, was pronounced “totally stupid” by anonymous commenters) himself took piano lessons and is re-living his youth. Or perhaps pool of people who have taken piano lessons in youth is actually much much larger than self has realized. (Note to self: must try writing story about taking piano lessons, very soon!)
    Why has self gone 3/4 of the way through this book and encountered only two Asian American characters, one called “Happy Chang” and the other a Mrs. Tanizaki, piano teacher? Hold on, self hasn’t even encountered a single African American character. Oh, and hold on yet again, of the 20 authors whose works are on display, why are only six women? Of the six, one is Alice Munro and the other is Joyce Carol Oates and the third is Lynne Sharon Schwartz, who are “classics” and therefore do not count, which leaves only three of the “emerging” category.
    Oh, self does see that African American will be encountered shortly, as a few stories on, there is an appearance by author Edward P. Jones. ONE author, in a book of 20, is actually not Caucasian. And maybe author Rishi Reddi, whose story is second to the end, will surprise with her non-Caucasian-ness.

Why? Why? Why?

So many questions, dear blog reader, so little time.

* * * * *

Yesterday, self finally conceded to calling Dearest Mum, who’d finally winged her way home after a month of wreaking havoc on self’s sensibilities, and Dearest Mum reported that beloved sister-in-law Ying had been delivered of baby girl.

“The baby is so cute!” Dearest Mum exclaimed. “So white! And her nose is only the littlest bit flat!”

At which self could not help but reach for her own nose, and started to feel its bridge with two forefingers, wondering whether it met the requisite criteria — but alas, nose felt flat as a — as a — pancake ??

At night, in Women’s Lit class, discussing a story by Princess Perry, could not help wondering about images of beauty or ugliness we have absorbed from somewhere. Perry’s story is about African Americans who constantly evaluate the lightness or darkness of each other’s skin. Student declared she could make no sense of such distinctions. Well, self could, dear blog reader. And class discussion brought up memory of conversation with Dearest Mum, which would have flown off into the ether of self’s unconscious without much comment if class discussion had not occurred.

I set it down here, for you to make of it what you will.

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