Today is the Day

Today is the day of the panel for the Edgar P. Richardson Symposium in the National Portrait Gallery (Starts at 12, with the Welcome, and then self’s panel at 12:30. Terry Hong moderates, Bao Phi and Marie Myung-Ok Lee are self’s co-readers.

Today is also the day of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. There will be decorated floats. There will be colorful helium balloons. There will be marching bands. And a crowd of spectators that reports project may reach 100,000.

(Self, you better not go to this one, or your hair will get mussed in the course of the festivities, and you will arrive at the National Portrait Gallery bedraggled. Absolutely bedraggled)

Self walked past the National Portrait Gallery last night, when those three lively gals — Krista Aniel, Sandra Vuong, and Molly Higgins — took self to the OMG BEST gelato place in the planet: Pitango Gelato on 7th Street. Self ended up totally pigging out on raspberry and mango sorbet. She even got a pint to take back with her to the hotel, where she wiped it out.

Before the gelato, however, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program people and the American Literary Review people hosted a dinner for the writers and various guests at Burma, a restaurant in the Chinatown area, just a short walk from the hotel. Seated across the table from self were (aside from the three aforementioned ladies): Garrett Hongo, Roy Kamada — Roy Kamada! He exists! He actually exists! Self has been reading his name on the group’s e-mail lists FOREVER! She high-fived him yesterday — a very elegant woman named Kiyoko (Mori?) and Gina Inocencio. There was also David Henry Hwang floating around somewhere (He was in shades of black and grey– informal but elegant), and Ed Bok-Lee.

At some point, self asked someone to snap her picture standing next to Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program Director Konrad Ng because: (1) He was in a very natty suit; (b) He looked like he might be photogenic; and (3) She had just been informed that he was the brother-in-law of the President. So, as Konrad and self smiled for the camera, self hissed at him, “I’ve always wanted to meet President Obama! I am serious! HALF the island of Negros wants to meet Obama!” And he hissed back: “I’m his brother-in-law!” And self responded: “I know! That’s why I asked someone to take our picture together!”

Self is having SUCH a great time here! She LOVES everyone she has met. She has decided to read “Jesters,” the piece that appeared in Used Furniture Review. Here’s a teensy little excerpt (which probably sounds crazy ON THE PAGE, but is actually a lot of fun to read aloud):

* * *

H FOR HELL, heaven, either of which leads to jeers, make-believe, ogres, always ogres, falling, black space — how frightened you were of Mrs. A — Mrs. A hated, hated. Hello! There is always someone new coming. Hello and hello and hello! Please be seated, please be quiet, how the hell, how the hell are you expected to know?

Illusions, you say everything is this, one must yield, always yield. Yield to the I. The I most precious. Without the I everything is illusion, fiction, de-lusion.

Jesters’ knots, make-believe, primeval, ogres, ogres are primeval, silence most telling, sleights of hand, snarled wisdom, sprinkled like pepper, sprinkled like salt, filled with shades, the past is elusive — oh!

Knots, knots, always more knots . . .

* * * *

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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