Is It Worth It?

Self means, to fly home, simply on hope.

Self has just returned from watching a sad-eyed Audrey Tautou (waif-like, but somehow hard, too, especially around the mouth) in “Coco Before Chanel.” The movie was wonderful, and the original score was composed by Alexandre Desplat, the same composer who did the music for “The Painted Veil” (one of self’s all-time movie faves). Had a wonderful serving of peanut butter cioccolato before the movie (At the Aquarius on Emerson in downtown Palo Alto  —  but of course dear blog readers might have guessed, just from the mention of the gelato!).  And now that she is home, she seems to have been sand-bagged by the most awful doubt about her upcoming trip to Manila.

The weird thing is, self keeps asking herself:  What is she doing spending the holidays there, when son and hubby are here?  Does that make any sense?  She will be with other people’s children, in other people’s houses.  What a lonely feeling that will be, especially during Christmas!

When self went home with son, in 2006? She almost didn’t go. Because her whole family came here, to the Bay Area, earlier in the year. And it drove self crazy. They brought a maid, but the maid didn’t know how to cook.  So self ended up cooking for everyone, including the maid.  And she was still teaching four classes.  There were a few times when she still had to cook after getting home from a night class, close to 10 p.m.

When self confided her doubts about the 2006 trip to Ying, her wonderful sister-in-law brushed all self’s doubts aside and said simply: You’d better come.  And self did indeed end up enjoying that trip.  She and son went to Boracay.  They went to Bacolod.  They even went to Puerto Prinsesa!  And saw the St. Paul Underground River!  And made friends with a very nice young couple named Kat and Dexter who have since moved to Read the rest of this entry »

Aung San Suu Kyi Biography Reviewed in Upcoming Issue of Women’s Review of Books

Self’s review of Perfect Hostage, the Justin Wintle biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, is forthcoming from the Women’s Review of Books in the November/December issue.

Among the highlights of the current issue (September/October 2009) are:

“Anomie in the New China,” Xujun Eberlein’s review of Leslie T. Chang’s Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

    In an intimate, nonjudgmental voice, Leslie T. Chang’s refreshingly rendered Factory Girls opens up the fascinating and gritty world of female migrant workers. While many of the young women find economic improvement, their rudderless lives raise the question of whether this new migration is a progression or regression in Chinese women’s emancipation.

“Sticky Tables,” Rebecca Meacham’s review of Antonya Nelson’s latest story collection, Nothing Right: Short Stories

    My introduction to Antonya Nelson’s fiction began with shooting dogs. Specifically, it began with one dog, a fictional pet in a short story I was revising during graduate school. As a writer, I was itching to try something stark and violent. In my story, a suburban couple required an irrevocable act to divide them. My new ending seemed perfect: in the last scene, for various reasons, the husband would shoot his wife’s dog.

Also featured:

  • “Woman of Valor,” Sherrilyn A. Ifill’s review of Mia Bay’s To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells; and Paula Giddings’ Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
  • “Girl Delinquents,” Miroslava Chavez-Garcia’s review of Catherine S. Ramirez’s The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory
  • “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” Martha Nichols’ review of Heather Jacobson’s Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference

Participate in the on-line discussion about these articles on the Review’s new web-blog, Women=Books.


The Kazuo Ishiguro book is done. Self read straight through to the end, about an hour ago. It took her two days. At the end, self feels not inclined to read another Ishiguro book.

Now she will have to look for Luis Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter. The bad thing is, she thinks she may have already checked it out, previously. But she can’t remember anything about it. That happens, sometimes.

It takes a long time for self to decide on which books to read. Suffice it to say, it takes her sometimes a week to find them. After she finished Ruth Rendell’s 13 Steps Down, she had only one other book to read, Ishiguro’s. Self hates being in that position, so she spent the last two days scurrying around, calling bookstores to see which books are still in print, or checking to see whether her local library carries them. She doesn’t feel “safe” until she has at least five books stacked on her bedside table. Now there are only three.

And how many books can self bring back to Manila? The trip looms. Her thoughts are anxious. She wants to fill her bag with books, no clothes. She hates the thought of the long, long flight ahead, on Asiana.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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