Writing in Himachal Pradesh

India is cold.  Exceedingly cold.

Self knows that whenever she thinks of India now, she will remember:

  • Shivering in Dharamsala (and there was even a power outage, self’s first night in the Snow Crest Inn!  One of the brothers who run the inn told her that was nothing:  last year, they had no electricity and no heat for twelve days)
  • Shivering in Bir

At the same time, self will also remember:

  • Working on “The Peacock” in her little cottage in The Colonel’s Resort, and staying up late at night to write.
  • Starting a new story in Dharamsala and getting it up to 8 pages in Bir.

She doesn’t know why it is, but traveling, instead of being a distraction, focuses her mind to a razor point.

The books self brought with her on this India trip were:  James McBride’s Song Yet Sung (great) and Owen Sheer’s Resistance (sad).  The Colonel’s wife, during the road trip to Amritsar, was curious about Resistance.  When self pointed to the author’s photo and said, “Isn’t he good-looking?”  the Colonel’s wife responded with, “I have a cousin who looks like that.”

Self thinks that she has seen the most gorgeous specimens of physical beauty —  of both genders —  in India.  While Freida Pinto (of “Slumdog Millionaire”) is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses in the current American cinema, Indian villages are filled with young women who can certainly give Pinto a run for the money.  Self’s just saying.

The Colonel remarked that he would see self’s room lights burning all night.  That was because self was over-stimulated to such a degree that she could not stop reading and/or writing.

Two days after getting back, self went hard at her World War II novel.

She still needs to get back to those Smithsonian people, about the event in April, for which they are flying her to Washington, DC.

She still needs to revise her mail-order bride story (appearing this July from Vagabondage Press)

She got a slew of rejections while in India.  Another rejection came yesterday (from Epoch:  She sent them a science fiction story, they sent it back in a matter of weeks — BWAH HA HA HA!)  Today, there was an e-mail (form) rejection from Boston Review (Say, is that the one where Junot Diaz is an editor?  Self thinks it is).  She also found out (yesterday) that her story “Ginseng” will be included in a new Philippine anthology that will focus on the querida (mistress).  She was kinda hoping the editors would take “Tagaytay,” as it’s a newer story, but the Villain in that story was a sleazy Ateneo professor and self knows in real life there are no sleazy Ateneo professors.  On the other hand, just because self has not personally made the acquaintance of a sleazy Ateneo professor doesn’t mean that these types do not exist!

She decides to steel herself against submitting to a short story collection contest.  She never knows which of her stories belong together —  She’s written tons of them, but still has no idea how a collection is constructed.  So, unless she figures this out sometime, she will refrain from joining further contests, for it will only lead to feelings of futility.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

REVENGE, Episode 13 (“Commitment”): Addictive Silliness

  • “What’s your game, young lady?  You’re too smart to be a grifter and too polite to be a lackey, which must mean you’re an opportunist.”

—  Mr. Grayson speaking to his wife’s “pet bird,” the preternaturally refined, infuriatingly skinny party planner Ashley  (Note to blog readers: the characters on this show speak much too quickly, alas!  Self’s quotes are therefore necessarily para-phrases)

What happened to Tyler while self was in India?  He can’t possibly have gone bye-bye?  Noooo — !

  • “Seriously, Ems, why not let him see the tape?  After all, he’s already added pyromania to Amanda Clarke’s long list of felonies.”

—  Nolan Ross, billionaire tech whiz, Hamptons misfit, and possessor of the most outrageous blonde flip this side of —  the young Hayley Mills???

  • “Don’t let the blaze you start ever dictate when you finish.”

—  Grandpa Grayson, the most inconvenient Grandpa in the history of prime-time soaps

  • “Daddy, do you remember when Justin ____ broke up with me on my Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party?”

—  Charlotte Grayson, Daniel Grayson’s younger sister and SPOILER ALERT also (TA-RA!)  the half-sister of Amanda Clarke

“Revenge,” you are the ne-plus-ultra of television cheese, and not since perhaps “Nip/Tuck” has a television show ever made self laugh so hard.  BTW, Episode 13 makes particularly outstanding use of Arch Villain Madeleine Stowe aka Victoria Grayson’s pout, always enhanced by vermilion lips.  (In a previous episode, Ashley the party planner asks Victoria, “Which of these would you like to wear for the party?”  Victoria responds, with a dismissive wave of her hand:  “No more bandage dresses!”  Ashley doesn’t even skip a beat: “Right.  I’ll burn these immediately.”)

Stay tuned.

Surprise, Surprise!

It is very sad that self did not get to see Udaipur, but self is sure she will get to see it, some other time.

More important, self learned after arriving in New Delhi, a few weeks ago, that she felt very much at ease among Indians.  That is, self discovered that there were many similarities between the people she met in India and the people she knows back in California and the Philippines.  Self learned that Indians eat several times a day —  almost as often as Filipinos.  And their food is not strangely exotic —  in fact, it is bloody delicious!  And since food is practically her # 1 issue whenever self visits a foreign country, the food issue not being an issue helped self relax right away.  Plus, the open-air markets remind self very much of Manila’s Divisoria.

Upon her return, self found answers to several questions that had lately pre-occupied her.  To wit :

  • Is Mitt Romney still the most likely Republican candidate to run against Obama?  Ixnay!  Rick “the vest” Santorum has surprisingly trumped Mitt “the hair” Romney!  Santorum cleaned up in three states!  Wow!  As recently as a month ago, self could never have anticipated such a remarkable development!
  • Is Silicon Valley still a “happening” place?  In a Letter to the Editor written by a Los Altos resident and published in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, William Burke calls Silicon Valley “the heart of enterprise and inspiration of the world, home of Apple, HP, Cisco, Google, Facebook and many more.”  Wow, let’s be proud, San Francisco Bay Area residents!  Moreover, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco just declared Proposition 8 (ban on same-sex marriages in California) “unconstitutional,” which means there will likely be many dramatic about-faces and hand-wringing in the months/ years to come, at least until the issue is addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  More material for blog!  Fabulous!
  • Is President Noynoy of the Philippines still a Mama’s Boy?  Ooops, self meant:  Is Noynoy ever going to get married?  Apparently, the answer is yes!  The love interest had a photograph on p. 1 of Philippine News.  She is, of course, very pretty.  In the Philippines, 87.8 % of the time, appearance = destiny.
  • Does Bella still have all her marbles?  Self is happy to report:  yes!  Exhibit A:  when self crept into the house, the Ancient One lifted her head and began wagging her tail in a most vigorous manner.
  • Are there any upcoming movies self is interested in seeing?  Yes!  Self just saw a preview for a Ryan Reynolds/ Denzel Washington thriller, and another for a Jonah Hill/ Channing Tatum comedy, and yet another for the “Prometheus” movie, starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson (Self thinks Worthington looks so much better when his hair is long)
  • What is current Sam Worthington vehicle “Man on Ledge” like?  It has Elizabeth Banks!  Yes!  And Ed Burns!  And that guy from “Hurt Locker” who is suddenly all over the place —  no, not Jeremy Renner, the other guy!  The one who played the uptight dude!  Anthony Mackie!
  • Is America going bananas over the upcoming holiday, Valentine’s?  Yes!  Her neighbor two blocks down the street has hung paper hearts on her gate, and heart-shaped sugar cookies are stacked near the entrance of Safeway.  Today the talk shows were focused on a “Valentine’s Day” theme.  Such as:  how to keep your bouquet of tulips looking fresh, tips from a Sunset Magazine editor.
  • Does the house need a good sweeping?  Of course!  Even with the Ancient One being kept in the San Carlos Pet Hospital (until two nights ago), there are gigantic fur-balls nestled in the corners of the living and dining room.
  • Did self get to watch “Justified” Season 3 Episode 4?  Yes, she did, and though she loves the lackadaisical criminals, and the comedic mayhem, and the face and stance or maybe just about everything of Timothy Olyphant, self thought last night’s episode dragged just a wee bit.  Dewey gets stuck in the neck with a syringe, at least two times.  Both times, self was expecting him to wind up in a body bag, which he does.  But SPOILER ALERT! not permanently.  Neal McDonough, as this season’s potent Evil One, gets to utter some lines of Quirky Bad Guy dialogue.
  • Since self has read six novels in a row since the start of 2012, will her next book be yet another novel?  Ixnay!  Self began delving into Adrian Goldsworthy’s Caesar:  The Life of a Colossus.  Although she has yet to arrive at any bloody parts, and is stuck on a page which describes in minute detail the power held by the Roman Senate, she is sure that very dramatic scenes are there, simply lying in wait.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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