Thea Ivens Had This Great Idea

And that was, in her own words, “to connect, participate, collaborate, and create an audience for Filipino American artists and strengthen the diversity in the field of arts.”

And so she created this website: Filipino American Artists Network, which as far as I can tell she runs single-handedly.

And the website has a Fil-Am artists calendar which is called “FilAm Events.” Check it out here:

Better yet, post a listing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Upon Self’s Arrival in Mendocino —

Self had barely made it out of the city when she got the news: son had tried using his credit card, and it didn’t work. Naturally, this left him quite out of joint, and he called home. As luck would have it, hubby had persuaded son that he did not need both his debit and his credit card, that one of them would suffice. And he actually made sure that son took the debit card out of his wallet and left it at home (under the impression that if son had both, he would go bananas and start charging expenses right and left — ah, how little the man knows sole fruits of self’s loins!) So, you see the problem. Anyhoo, hubby seemed completely animated by the dilemma, in fact he appeared more animated than self had seen him in months. Hmmm, self thought to herself, must make it a point to leave home more often!

And then, upon perusing her e-mail (What joy, self’s host has wireless), she saw a friendly reminder from Yahoo Calendar that she was scheduled for a tooth extraction, a few days after getting back from the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. This is something self has successfully avoided thinking about for six months. But, there’s no getting around it. (Sigh)

Then, something from brother-in-law about Dearest Mum’s bank account. Which self thinks she can just pass over without reading, for now.

Also, an e-mail advertising very fun music festival in Garden Valley. Where the heck is Garden Valley? Self has to read the fine print before she learns it is “45 minutes north of Boise, Idaho.” How did self get on this mailing list?

And, finally, a reminder to get self’s grades in for her UCLA Extension class, which officially ended today.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Good Dog, Gracie!

It’s the day before you have to leave for the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Office is a mess of papers, books, and clothes. You’re on the phone to your host, DR, who’s giving you directions: “Turn on Little Lake Street; make sure you’re heading towards the coast; a little white house; right across the street from the Mendocino . . . ”

Gracie starts yelping and whining. You opine that the li’l crit must sense your imminent departure. But whining reaches fever pitch and it’s driving you bananas. “OOOFFFF!” you yell, the minute you get off the phone. But– hold on! You recall that the last time Gracie set up this much fuss, you followed her to the backyard and saw her proudly prancing around a mouse carcass bitten in two, minus the head.

This time, you go to the living room and — wherefrom that drift of wind, wafting invitingly across your cheeks? When living room’s windows are all shut tight, per hubby’s explicit instructions? But — NOOOO! Front door is invitingly open. And you are at first stunned and then deeply chagrined, because you know for a fact that Bella, the other beagle, has walked right through that inviting space, and is now lost to yourself and hubby, forevermore. Worse, you know that you will now have to forego packing, planning, resting etc etc in favor of calling the neighbors, walking up and down the streets yelling Bella’s name (much good that’ll do, since the li’l crit long ago became stone deaf) and driving to all the nearby pounds.

But Gracie, who sometimes drives you crazy (like this morning, when she set up whimpering at 6 a.m., when you felt as though you had just fallen asleep like, maybe, forty winks before), is leaping around like a crazy animal, and though you, standing there in stunned befuddlement, take many unforgivably long moments to be roused to your senses, you finally get the idea and fasten Gracie’s leash and, quicker than you can say “Peter Piper picked a pot of pickled pepper,” she’s pulling you out the door, pulling, pulling, pulling. She stops once or twice, distracted by a bird, a stray cat. But after a few moments she pulls forward again, and always in the same direction. Then she stops dead.

You look up the street. You look down the street. You yell at the top of your lungs (anguished yells, ala Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire”) “Bellaaaaa!” And then, suddenly, you see Bella. In a neighbor’s front garden, behind a gate. No neighbor in sight, so who knows how Bella was able to walk in. You push the gate latch, and it swings open without resistance. And that pesky Bella is more interested in smelling the flowers than coming to you, and you have to go chasing her with the leash, and let me just tell you, dear blog reader, that it is quite a job to leash a dog who is trying like might and main to get away, while the other one is prancing about like a dervish. But finally you manage to get the leashes on and straightened out (Still no neighbor– thank God!) and you walk both dogs home.

Now, quite exhausted, you need to take a few moments to collect your thoughts. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

By Preston Mark Stone, Whose Mother is Filipina

White Power

To explain, for instance, this gas station clerk
who speaks to me in emphasized English, as though
my native language were something he heard in a
movie. I have to go back to my neighbors in Bakersfield,
who listened to metal and shaved their heads

because their neighborhood was filling up with spics,
niggers, fags and me. “Go back to the jungle!” they’d shout
at fruit pickers and drag queens, and I wondered what
imagined world they fought, what tropic in which
people swing from banana trees like crazed gay
Mexican lemurs. “Go back inside,” their mother told them

when she saw me watching from my porch, my face
brown with California sun, my eyes like slants of rice grain.
They vanished into their cluttered besieged house, the deadbolt
dropping as the door shut. To understand the deadbolt,
I have to go back to high school, to a boy who called me gook

every afternoon as he walked past me. His father was a veteran,
his brother a marine, my face the enemy’s face.
Every day for a year, he strolled by me and looked straight ahead
as he said gook in emphasized English, or chink, rice nigger,
slant-eye, Chinaman. The afternoon I caught him alone

and saw the swastika drawn on the back of his hand,
I punched him in the face until he curled up on the floor, arms
shielding his temples, and then I kicked him until
the police came. To explain why I was crying when my boot
met his belly, I have to go back to my first neighborhood

where, when I was eight, white people moved in.
Their sons were a little older, and loved to play cowboys
and Indians. They were the blond and fair frontiersmen,
the rest of us hordes of small dark Cherokee struck down
to make America. You two are Indian scouts, they said.
and you over there, you’re braves. Everyone was a cowboy
or an Indian, except for a little girl and me. We don’t need
no more Indians, they said. Too many
damn Indians already. You two, you’re horses.

We giggled until they pushed us to our hands and knees
and ordered us to eat grass. A year later, I would fight
one of them until he made me cry, but there on all fours,
I ate the grass. The little girl bawled, her mouth green
as money. Get along, they said. They drew
their pistols, and they rode us.

    — from The Missouri Review, Winter 2007

Brain Cloud: Call to Son, Mountain View Farmers Market, Woodside Bakery, Call to Ying

It is Sunday. You made yourself go to the Mountain View Farmers Market because the last time you went was who-knows-how-long-ago. Before you left the house, you did as hubby requested and called sole fruit of self’s loins (even though your last call was only yesterday, and calling two days in a row significantly lowers your “coolness” quotient, which you have been steadily stoking ever since son got to Spain, because you know about the Guernica and the black Goyas). So you called and son was in the Prado (Oh miracle of miracles, self has raised a child who goes to museums of his own accord!) and he was (as you suspected) none too pleased to hear from you again, and as soon as you had hung up you turned to hubby and asked, What time is it there? And hubby said, 6:30 p.m., and since self had distinctly heard a guide talking somewhere in the background, it was a matter of no small amazement to self that the museums were still open at that hour.

And then you were in Mountain View. And the thing you never expect to happen happened: that is, your mind went wending down all the highways and byways of memory, and you thought of son’s 11th birthday party, which we celebrated at Colonel Lee’s Mongolian Barbecue, and this you remembered as you wended among the booths in the (exceedingly crowded) Mountain View Farmers Market, and it seemed to you that the cookie lady had grown much grayer since you’d last seen her (only a few months ago!) And then you wended your way home bearing peaches and organic tomatoes and seven different cookies (pecan, chocolate chip, coconut macaroon, you name it) and a 12 oz. package of artichoke, gorgonzola and walnut ravioli (for dinner tonight, $8.25) and you were so pleased with yourself.

In the middle of the afternoon, hubby, who’d been declaring all summer that he was fat and wanted to take up bicycling again, announced that he was going to actually go biking. You waited but he did not move from his computer and was still there an hour later. So, finally, you suggested dropping by the Woodside Bakery for some coffee — a little change of routine. And after much dithering hubby finally decided that that was exactly what he had in mind to do. And after you had gotten your iced coffees (which was such a bargain, really, only $3.50 for two) you walked across to Emily Joubert, one of your favorite home and garden stores and, as luck would have it, there was a 50-75% off sale of selected items, and you got yourself a big throw pillow (originially $83) for $20, and a beautiful handmade ceramic bowl (called “Small Rain,” how lovely is that) for $13.75, perfect for holding the peaches you’d bought in the farmers market that morning.

And you can’t end this post without mentioning that today you finally got to talk to Ying, for the first time since her bone marrow transplant. And she sounded much the same as she always does (in fact if you closed your eyes you could very well imagine you were in Manila, both of you, sitting across from each other at the breakfast table). You asked her if you could send her audio books but she demurred. And you asked her if she was eating and it worried you exceedingly when her voice faltered because you knew she was going to tell a fib, you just knew it, and you told her that she mustn’t lose anymore weight, and you also told her this really stupid thing, “You will pull through,” which is something you swore you would never ever say to anyone who is sick, it is totally asinine, but Ying only laughs. And you hear the doubt in her voice (which makes you want to smack hubby, who is standing right next to you, smacking his lips because he’s just stuffed his mouth with a slice of prosciutto slathered with melted butter).

And after Ying tells you that she is being fed intravenously, you turn your attention to dinner. And the memory of Ying stays with you while you cook: lentils, rice, curry.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

(July) Saturday Morning, Redwood City: E-Mail from Son, Among Other Things

Self super-excited because a) she got e-mail from son, informing her of his latest whereabouts; b) she got a new comment on her blog and c) she found another passage to quote from Eichmann book (in which she has lived intensely — except for yesterday afternoon, when she was wandering around downtown RWC with Gillian — all of the past week)

First, son has kindly listed for self his latest itinerary:

    It’ll look like… 2 nights Madrid. 2 nights Granada. 3 nights Barcelona. 0-2 nights Carcassonne. 3 nights Paris. 1-2 nights Florence/Milan/Venice/Ravenna. 3-4 nights Rome. Then home.

He also sends picture, and even though son is naturally the only person whose shoulders hunch up (as if he is tense — something he must have inherited from self!), he has a big smile on his face and so do the 26 other American students in the picture, including one man who son said was a complete stranger who sidled into the photograph at the last moment, but who seemed pretty happy anyway as he held his full glass of wine aloft.

Now to Eichmann (Self already on the last 80 pages, for those dear blog readers who can hardly wait for her to get over this period). Here are the list of witnesses at the trial and the countries from which they originated. An effort was made to obtain witnesses from every camp. Self is surprised that there were not more:

“five witnesses from Prague . . . just one witness from Austria . . . one witness each from France, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, and Soviet Russia; two from Yugoslavia; three each from Romania and Slovakia; and thirteen from Hungary. But the bulk of the witnesses, fifty-three, came from Poland and Lithuania . . . sixteen men and women who told the court about Auschwitz (ten) and Treblinka (four), about Chelmno and Majdanek . . . four witnesses for Theresienstadt and one for the exchange camp at Bergen-Belsen.”

Among these witnesses was “the father of Herschel Grynszpan, who, on November 7, 1938, at the age of seventeen, had walked up to the German embassy in Paris and shot to death its third secretary, the young Legationistrat Ernst vom Rath. The assassination had triggered the pogroms in Germany and Austria, the so-called Kristallnacht of November 9, which was indeed a prelude to the Final Solution . . . ”

Arendt calls Grynszpan “a psychopath, unable to finish school, who for years had knocked about Paris and Brussels” (aren’t all these assassins psychopaths? Self means: Sirhan Sirhan, et al?) And the irony is that his victim, Vom Rath, was “a singularly inadequate victim, he had been shadowed by the Gestapo because of his openly anti-Nazi views and his sympathy for Jews.”

Is not that the irony of all ironies, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

July 2008: A Round-Up

Now that July is limping along to its end, and there will be no more of it until next year, self thinks this would be a good time to evaluate how the past few weeks have gone.

This month, self received excellent news about various Filipino writers:

    JoAnn Balingit, it was announced in Filipinas Magazine, became Delaware’s first Filipino American poet laureate.
    Luisa Igloria’s panel proposal for the Chicago AWP was accepted (“Archipelagos of Dust”), and self learned that she will be presenting along with Luisa, Karen Llagas, Grace Talusan, Reine Melvin, and Angela Narciso Torres.
    Paolo Javier launched LMFAO, published by OMG! press.

Self read: at the annual Foothill Writers Conference.

Self discovered a writer named Anis Shivani in Flyway.

Self was more than usually surprised this month:

    Elisabeth Hasselbeck broke down and cried on “The View.”
    Hubby belatedly informed self that his office was moving from Mountain View to south Fremont.
    Dearest Mum informed self that there are “no plain mistresses in Manila.”
    Self actually enjoyed seeing “Wanted.”
    Dearest Mum scared self exceedingly with tales of how “depressed and weak” Ying was, but each time self called Ying, self found her feeling “up” and perky.
    And, just this morning, self awoke to hear news of a Qantas jet landing in Manila with a gaping hole in its fuselage (thereby putting self’s feverish imagination in mind of “The Twilight Zone” movie in which John Lithgow goes absolutely bananas because no one will believe that he’s seen a gremlin on the wing of his plane)

As for books self read:

    The whole world knows already about self’s exceeding admiration for Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.
    Self read another good book: Scott Huler’s Defining the Wind, an account of how the Beaufort Wind Scale came into existence.
    Self re-discovered the philosophical writings of Mencius.

Most important of all, self discovered that in spite of everything, she is still able to write. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Still Reading “Eichmann in Jerusalem”

Self is making deliberate effort to slow her reading of this book, as she knows it will be quite deleterious for her mental state to continue this “staying-up-until-4 AM” behavior of the past two days. In order to get her mind nice and rested for bedtime, self has now limited herself to reading only one chapter a day. And not after 10 p.m. That way, the last images in self’s brain as she lays her head down to sleep will not be of cattle trains or gas chambers. Let’s see if that works tonight!

However, it is at present only 9:12 p.m. So self can certainly still continue reading. And right now, in Chapter VIII, Arendt describes how it was that a perfectly ordinary man named Becher came to join the S.S.: “because he was actively engaged in horseback riding.”

(Dear blog reader, there are so many points in this book that cause self’s jaw to hang open, simply hang open — from absolute disbelief)

Thirty years ago, Arendt explains, horseback riding “was a sport engaged in only by Europe’s upper classes. In 1934,” Becher’s riding instructor “had persuaded him to enter the S.S. cavalry regiment, which at that moment was the very thing for a man to do if he wished to join the movement and at the same time maintain a proper regard for his social standing.” As an S. S. man, Becher became “the principal buyer of horses for the S. S. personnel department, a job that earned him nearly all the decorations that were then available.” In fact, Becher possessed an excellent nose for business, and was on the way to amassing for himself quite a tidy fortune by taking “possession of Jewish property.” The one thing that stood in his way, however, “was the narrow-mindedness of subordinate creatures like Eichmann” (Pause for breath: HA HA HA HA HA!) who, according to Arendt, “took their jobs seriously.” Eichmann could never make money because he could never extract more than a minimal amount from any Jew — “not, of course, because he wished to save more Jews,” Arendt writes, “but simply because he was not used to thinking big.”

Who knew, dear blog readesrs, who knew what a hilarity this book would turn out to be? Stay tuned.

Still Compulsively Reading

Hannah Arendt’s fitfully brilliant Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Even though it kept self up till the wee hours (4 a.m.) for the second night in a row (this is getting serious, dear blog reader, but self quite helpless to disrupt the process — when self is into a book, she simply has to plow on, like a galloping rhinoceros). But, at least, she did manage to get back to sleep after feeding the dogs (6:30 a.m.) and, when next she opened her eyes, bright sunlight was streaming in from all the windows.

Here’s the latest (appalling) quote, from pp. 109- 110:

    It has frequently been pointed out that the gassing of the mentally sick had to be stopped in Germany because of protests from the population and from a few courageous dignitaries of the churches, whereas no such protests were voiced when the program switched to the gassing of Jews, though some of the killing centers were located on what was then German territory and were surrounded by German populations.

And, about this whole gassing thing? It was also apparently considered a viable option for good Germans in the unlikely event of a German defeat:

In “the summer of 1944,” a female “leader” came to Bavaria “to give the peasants a pep talk.” She “faced frankly the prospect of defeat, about which no good German needed to worry because the Fuhrer in his great goodness had prepared for the whole German people a mild death through gassing in case the war should have an unhappy end.” (p. 110)

And, truly, the book’s subtitle is so apt, for who knew that the hated Adolf Eichmann had been, in a former life, a vacuum cleaner salesman, and that Joachim von Ribbentrop, head of Hitler’s Foreign Office, had been “a former champagne salesman”??? (p. 112)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Quotes of the Day (And What a Long Day It’s Been)

Self did the following today:

    Watered, 9 buckets.
    Sawed dead branches off one of the maple trees.
    Read e-mail from Stella K about “The Romance of Manong Rubio.”
    Read, read, read, read, read.
    Cooked dinner.
    Swept living room and dining room.
    Wrote (a little).
    Continued reading Eichmann in Jerusalem

Regarding the last, here are a pair of fascinating quotes:

“What he had done was a crime only in retrospect, and he had always been a law-abiding citizen, because Hitler’s orders, which he had certainly executed to the best of his ability, had possessed the force of law in the Third Reich.” (p. 24)

“Repentance is for little children.” (p. 24)

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