“Rufino” from Self’s Collection MAYOR OF THE ROSES

There were fourteen years before self’s first and second book.

The first was published by Calyx Press in Corvallis, OR.

The second was published by Miami University Press.

The third, The Lost Language, is only available in the Philippines.

The fourth is an e-book published by Vagabondage in Florida.

There’s also an anthology she co-edited for Calyx Press: Going Home to a Landscape.

Recently, she got an email from writer and teacher Susie Hara, who said she had liked the story “Rufino” in Mayor of the Roses.

It was the last story to be included in the collection. She threw it in at the last minute.

Rufino was a real person.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Towards the end, he couldn’t wear any clothes. They had to cover him in banana leaves.

It was in July he died — I couldn’t believe it. A voice on the phone told me.

“Rufino died na.” It was my mother speaking. Naturally, she had to be the one to break the news.

I was staying in a friend’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the mornings, fog blanketed the hills. We heard the mournful mooing of invisible cows. One or another of us would look east, toward where we heard Neil Young had his ranch, wondering whether we’d catch a glimpse of his pink cadillac that day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 20 March 2017

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Niall Leavy Brochure from a 2009 Exhibit Called “Inner Light”; copy of self’s book Mayor of the Roses: Stories, Miami University Press

Niall was here last year. Saw his work at Open Studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

At the opposite end of the table, self’s book from Miami University Press (There’s another story collection that came after this one: The Lost Language. Self’s Dearest Mum gave copies to all her friends as a Christmas present, but painstakingly tore out all the stories she didn’t like, lol)

You will notice that today the writing table is square. That’s because there are two of them in her unit, and she switches back and forth between them, depending on her need for the scissors, lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIT’S END: A Novel About a Novelist and Her At-Loose-Ends Niece

Self is on pp. 172 – 173 of Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End.

She has been enjoying it, not least because the characters are Democrats (They wear their political affiliations on their sleeve. But of course they do: they live in Santa Cruz, CA).

A character owns a pair of dogs named Stanford and Berkeley. Self almost dropped the book because of that but she’s so glad she didn’t.

Anyhoo, the book makes her all sorts of nostalgic for Santa Cruz, CA. For its wooden roller coaster and its Boardwalk and its blue and pink cotton candy and the Ripley Believe It Or Not hall of funhouse mirrors.

Sample dinner conversation between a famous mystery writer and her niece, Rima:

“I remember once when you were about four years old. We went out to eat and you told the waitress you wanted a petite filet mignon. She just about dropped her pencil.”

“I was always saying something cute after you left. Hardly a day went by.”

“This puts the Democrats in very good shape for 2008.”

“There’s even corn in the toothpaste now. Did I mention that?”

Something wet landed on Rima’s ankle. Stanford was drooling; it brought her back to the moment.

Regarding that petite filet mignon: when self still lived in Manila, Dearest Mum’s youngest brother married a nineteen-year-old. The first time self met the prospective bride was at dinner in San Mig Pub in Greenbelt Park. And the teen-ager ordered — steak tartare. Dearest Mum was so impressed she couldn’t stop talking about it.

Until that moment, self had never laid eyes on a steak tartare. And she’s never had a yen to order it, either. That means self will probably end her days without ever tasting this singular delight, boo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Nostalgia: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 30 September 2016

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is NOSTALGIA:

  • What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

The Philippines, specifically Bacolod City, where her father grew up, is the locus of all of self’s nostalgia. And of course, Dearest Mum, who met self’s Dear Departed Dad when she was a young pianist in New York City, and Dear Departed Dad was in Georgetown Law School.

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The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Negros Occidental: The Philippines. Self’s grandfather built this house, at the time the tallest structure in Bacolod City. Self’s father was born in this house.

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Dearest Mum, in Her Early 30s

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Bacolod City, Negros Occidental: June 2012

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

BRAZILLIONAIRES, Further Thoughts

Reading about Brazil is a lot like reading about the Philippines. A lot.

It’s not just the income disparity (Can you believe the Philippine president called POTUS a name — a pretty potent term that you only reserve for your worst enemy! Blush blush!), it’s the chaos.

Yesterday, there was a message from Dearest Mum on self’s cell phone.

She didn’t think anything of it but today she returned Dearest Mum’s call and how self knows that this is real: the maid, someone self has never met, asked who was calling, and when self said BATCHOY (Childhood nickname. Means FATSO. Even her college professors at the Ateneo called her this. Funny, when it’s self’s birthday on Facebook, her Filipino friends greet her saying BATCHOY and then her American friends scratch their heads and say, Mind explaining who BATCHOY is? LOL), the maid said, Oh, yes! Your mother has been waiting for your call!¬†

Which made self all kinds of guilty.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Gaah, this book. Doling out the suspense in teaspoon-size increments.

Anna is the current wife of Tom, who used to be married to Rachel. These three live near each other (Can you imagine? Bring on the pain!). The women in the story get their own points of view (Is this a feminist novel?) The male characters are either: a) louts; b) stinking ex-es; c) handsome unscrupulous jerks or d) clue-less. Hey, maybe this IS a feminist novel!

One day, when Anna is stuck at home minding the baby, she feels nostalgia: “I miss being a mistress.”

Yes. One day Anna’s flirting with Tom at an office party. Next thing you know, she’s a lonely stay-at-home mom.

On the idea of mistresses: there are a lot of them.

In Manila, self was included in an anthology of short stories all dedicated to “the mistress.” The title was Querida, something like that. (Suddenly, self realizes she never got her contributor copies. Why?)

This was Dearest Mum’s reaction to a short story self had written: “That’s not realistic,” Dearest Mum said. “There’s no such thing as an ugly mistress in Manila.”

Oh, Dearest Mum, you are hysterical!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

WIP: Memoir-ish

This is what I know of her past: She played in Carnegie Hall when she was just 14. I have the picture. It’s black and white, and in it my mother is round-faced, and her thick, curly black hair is held back by a hairband. Behind her, there is an orchestra.

To hear my dear departed aunt Terry tell it, my mother’s family took the train all the way across the country, starting in San Francisco. They wound up in Flushing. Self’s mother went to Curtis. She became classmates with the pianist Gary Graffman.

Honestly, self should do more with this story.

Stay tuned.

Numbers: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 3 June 2016

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Dearest Mum Playing Solitaire: March 2016

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Self-explanatory, really

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Chinatown, San Francisco

Sentence of the Day: From Thad Carhart’s THE PIANO SHOP ON THE LEFT BANK

Self has an inordinate interest in pianos because her mother was a concert pianist: admitted to Curtis at 11, friends with Gary Graffman (who had self and her mother over to dinner at his apartment one night), winner of the New York Times International Piano Competition when she was 14. Dearest Mum played in Carnegie Hall.

Dearest Mum had not one, but two Steinways, one flown into our home in Manila through Clark Airbase.

As far as self knows, Dearest Mum is the only pianist in the world who has two Steinways.

Here’s a sentence from the book self is currently reading, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart:

No one knows exactly when the piano was invented.

Why is that interesting to self? Who knows. It just is.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Music: Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge Week 28

The Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge this week is MUSIC.

Here’s a picture of the main stage of New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Took my first tour ever, December 2015. We were only allowed to take pictures when the musicians weren’t rehearsing.

Dearest Mum played a concert here after she won The New York Times International Piano Competition, when she was 14:

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The Main Stage of Carnegie Hall, in between rehearsals: December 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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