To find your head
Loaded with sleep,
Branching my chest.
Feel the streams
Of your breathing
Dream through my heart.
From the new day,
The nape of your neck.
* * * *
The book was given to self this spring by a priest in Dublin. She hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years. He used to work in the Philippines, then in the San Francisco Bay Area. He retired to Dublin. He’s 92 now and suffers from pleurisy. Yet he and a fellow priest managed to drive self from Dublin to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamakherrig.
The trip was epic. The priests told self things like: a lir is a swan, a kill is a wood, a dun is a fort. The younger priest, self discovered, was from Cavan. (Which is why in her story “The Elephant”, just out in Your Impossible Voice, the main character, a ship’s captain, hails from Cavan.)
Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.
She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods? OMG, why?
She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .
She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.
Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.
Self decided to add a few new bookmarks, one of which is the home page of Red Hen Press.
Another add is Curbside Splendor E-zine. Self doesn’t know how she stumbled upon Curbside Splendor, but she finds herself reading all the way to the end of the featured essay, by Joey Pizzolato. This is a mighty rare occurrence, as self’s brain is usually darting in four directions at once.
She just wrote a Facebook post on Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying, which could be why she reads Pizzolato’s post (on what love is, or what it looks like) with great attention:
As writers and readers, we are drawn to love because we cannot precisely define it. Because, like the soul, or consciousness, we cannot pick it up or turn it over in our hand.
Below is an excerpt from The Economist obituary for Maya Angelou, who passed away May 28 this year, at the age of 86. Self found out about Angelou’s passing in London. She and an old school friend, Doris Duterte Stanley, had walked to King’s Cross from Euston Station, where self’s train had just arrived from Wales. In the lobby of King’s Cross, a gigantic video screen flashed the words: MAYA ANGELOU DIES AT 86.
(Self is so way behind in her reading of The Economist. At what point does she say Enough and quit her subscription? One more year, perhaps . . . )
When she was asked what words brought her comfort, she said, “Love.” And, after love, “Forgiveness.” Forgiveness did not mean you would seat your enemy at your table and feed him cornbread and fried chicken (though cooking food, and sharing it, often made peace). But it meant you could move on. In the words of “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s inauguration:
Do not be wedded forever To fear, yoked eternally To brutishness.
How could you possibly expect writing like this in a spy thriller? Alan Furst’s writing is so good it is impossible to skim:
Spring died early that year, soft rains came and went, the sky turned its fierce French blue only rarely, a mean little wind arrived at dusk and blew papers around the cobbled streets. The end of April was generally admitted to be triste, only the surrealists liked such unhappy weather, then summer came before anybody was really ready for it.
Why, she wonders, does she keep churning out short stories, when she really ought to be concentrating on a novel, since that is more liable to capture the attention of literary agents and/or big mainstream publishers?
Nevertheless, self is proud about today’s accomplishments.
Both stories were begun ages ago. Suddenly, today, self knew exactly what each story was missing. She had put up the framework, but she didn’t know the story. Not until today.
Because of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, HUMANITY, self has been re-visiting the pictures she took on her first (so far, her only) trip to India, January 2012.
She’s so glad the theme allows her to publish photos she’s never posted before, like the one of the roadside market on the road to Kasauli from New Delhi, and the one she took in a night bazaar, just outside the Red Fort in Old New Delhi.