Lovely London

Self was supposed to go on an Old Parish Maps walk of Clerkenwall but she bailed because she wanted to take things slow today, after that loooong train journey from Cornwall yesterday.

She had an early breakfast, then set off walking. Soon, she found herself in front of the British Library, but instead of going in, she went next door, to St. Pancras/Renaissance Hotel, and inquired at reception if they could ring her son’s room.

He did not pick up, probably because he’s just arrived in London. She told the receptionist to let son know that his mother had stopped by. Then, she twirled and waltzed out without waiting for a response from the receptionist.

She wandered on Leigh Street and found North Sea Fish was closed. She walked down Marchmont Street and stopped at a café for very yummy hot banana bread with yogurt. Topped that off with red bean gelato. Picked up a couple of flyers from LSE (London School of Economics, Dear Departed Sister’s alma mater), returned to Russell Square (one side of which was sprouting police cars, she wonders why) and resumed reading Northanger Abbey.

UGH, the horrible stress inflicted on poor Catherine Morland (so far, self’s favorite Jane Austen heroine — yes, a better heroine than Emma or Anne Elliot) by manipulative Thorpe sibs Isabella and John! In the latest situation, they have conveniently dismissed Miss Eleanor Tilney (sister of that elusive love interest Henry Tilney) without checking first with Catherine whether she intended to keep her appointment with Eleanor. Catherine, on learning of the Thorpes’s horrible presumptuousness, goes running full tilt after Eleanor (and why should she not? Henry Tilney is quite a fetching man! Self too would go running if someone told her that Timothy Olyphant or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were just around the corner!).

p. 111:

Thorpe would have darted after her, but Morland withheld him. “Let her go, let her go, if she will go.”

“She is as obstinate as — “

Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper one.

lol

Morland refers to Catherine’s older brother, James. And a wonderful older brother he is, too. He’s in love with Isabella Thorpe, who’s a ninny. If not for that, he would be self’s third-favorite Jane Austen suitor, after Mr. Knightley and Henry Tilney. He most certainly is self’s favorite Jane Austen brother.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

John Thorpe, Villain: NORTHANGER ABBEY, pp. 48 – 49

Self might as well tell you who the villain is; you will enjoy this novel so much more as you read: That is, you will be so much more aware of the dangers posed by hypocrisy, and insincere flattery, carelessness and a sense of entitlement. Self advises all blog readers to take notes, in case any of your acquaintance or any members of your immediate family exhibit similar behavior (Every family has its own villains, don’t deny it):

“Ah, mother! How do you do?” said he, giving her a hearty shake of the hand: “where did you get that quiz of a hat, it makes you look like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days with you, so you must look out for a couple of good beds some where near.”

This address seemed to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother’s heart, for she received him with the most delighting and exulting affection. On his two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly.

You can always tell who the shallowest men are in a Jane Austen novel because they pass the silliest judgments on women’s appearance.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Laughter of My Father, by Carlos Bulosan

One of our foremost Filipino writers was a migrant worker who died at 40 of tuberculosis, in a Seattle boarding house.

His name was Carlos Bulosan, and The Laughter of My Father was one of Dear Departed Dad’s favorite books (Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino found this copy for me, previously used naturally!)

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Reading it now, self can understand why. She’s reading the Bantam edition, published August 1946.

p. 2:

Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go into the living room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes with his fingers and making faces at himself; then he would rush into the kitchen, roaring with laughter.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Cousin’s Farm, Oliva Dos, near the town of Murcia in the Central Philippines

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Near Murcia, Negros Occidental, the Philippines

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Path cleared for a tractor, Oliva Dos, near Murcia

Self lived the first 20 years of her life without knowing there was another Murcia. In Spain.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Antonio Vivencio del Rosario Archives, University of Santo Tomas, Manila

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Main Building, University of Santo Tomas, Manila: January 2018

The University of Santo Tomas is the oldest university in the Philippines. The first book printed in the Philippines, the Doctrina Christiana, is housed there, in the Antonio Vivencio del Rosario Library (named after self’s great-great-grandfather). At the opening, self’s great uncle, who donated the money for the archives, cited a thesis self had written in the Ateneo de Manila, which traced the del Rosario family history back, four generations. But self wasn’t there. Her brothers went, and great was their shock when they heard her name mentioned as the reason the archives exit. (Self couldn’t go because — well, she couldn’t afford the airfare. Husband was out of work. None of her family offered to make up the fare)

She FINALLY got to drop by in January 2018, met the librarians, and took pictures. The archives survive on the generosity of individual donors. Three full-time employees are responsible for digitizing the vast collection.

“How many books have been digitized so far?” self asked.

The answer: 150.

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Self is thinking about the archives because today she decided to try and work on her 18th century novel-in-progress, Blue Water, Distant Shores. Her novel — a product of over-reach, self is no historian — is about a Spanish priest who, in 1736, is sent to the Philippines to fight demons. She’s reading about books by the early missionaries, books like the Ilocano catechism of 1621, translated by Fray Francisco Lopez.

“Your books should be here, ma’am,” she remembers the librarians telling her. “We’ll add them to the display.”

What? No . . .

On second thought! She’ll contact her press right now. Please send copies to the Antonio Vivencio del Rosario Archives in University of Santo Tomas, stat!

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Found these copies of self’s third short story collection in the National Bookstore in Gateway Mall, Cubao, Metro-Manila! (January 2018)

Afterwards, self dropped by the Program in Creative Writing, and got to pose for a picture with the professors:

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University of Santo Tomas, January 2018: Creative Writing Program Director Jing Hidalgo is on self’s right.

Dearest Mum’s only response, when self showed her the pictures: Why are you so short?

lol

lol

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

For NOVEMBER ROAD, Memories of a Long-Ago Las Vegas

Lou Berney’s thriller, November Road, is nearing its mournful denoument. The killer’s getting closer and closer.

NOOOOO!!!

Before we get there, however, there’s the 1963 Las Vegas Strip, where Frank Guidry discovers his past and Charlotte discovers her future.

Las Vegas was the one place self associates with “family vacation” — the one place we returned to, year after year, for about five years. We’d stay at a hotel — either the Bellagio, the Venetian, the Paris, or the MGM Grand — and loll by the pool and take in a show. We’d grow fat at hotel buffets. Here’s a picture of self and son, taken about 15 years ago, at Hoover Dam. How ironic that this is the ONE picture she has of a particular trip. And it’s not even IN Las Vegas.

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With Son at Hoover Dam, Just Outside Las Vegas, a Lifetime Ago

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CHARLIE CHAN IS DEAD, Vol. 1

For the workshop this weekend, re-reading some old stories to show different ways of writing memoir. In particular, thinking of a story called Lenox Hill, December 1991, which Jessica Hagedorn included in the anthology Charlie Chan is Dead.

When Jessica contacted self to solicit a piece, self had nothing, nothing, nothing.

Her sister had died just the month before. She did keep a diary, though.

The diary became the story. The first story in what later become a cycle of grief stories: Mayor of the Roses (Miami University Press)

For a while, a course called Ethics in Medicine, taught at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, included the story in their syllabus.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sunday Read: Philippine Religious Imagery in Ivory (Exhibit Catalogue, Intramuros, Manila, 1982)

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Self’s childhood home in Manila was crammed with santoses (religious statues). Dearest Mum collected them.

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L: San Vicente Ferrer R: San Pedro Martir

The santos carvers were unknown. It was an industry, like making furniture. The head and hands of the figures were usually ivory.

The caption for San Pedro Martir reads, in entirety:

  • Ivory head and hands on batikuling body. A bolo (machete), now missing, the instrument of his martyrdom, was originally embedded in his cranium. He is usually depicted holding a palm of martyrdom, also missing. 19th century.

Batikuling is a Philippine tree, presently listed as endangered.

Stay tuned.

 

Kudos, p. 55: A Hamster

Whenever mice or hamsters enter a story — any story — self’s satisfaction quotient goes up 300%.

It happened in Dave Sedaris’s piece on how hard he had to try to kill a mouse (Self isn’t sure which collection contained the piece, she thinks it might have been Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)

It happened in Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. Self was on the fence about this novel until she got to the section where twins Ava and Zelda adopt a small clutch of baby mice. That’s when she realized the book was a gem.

It’s happening in Kudos. Oh JOY! The hamster page is 55:

The solid fact of the hamster made all the difference. She could describe them petting it and fawning over it while its imprisonment got increasingly on Linda’s nerves, and the way it solidified their bond so that Linda felt left out. What kind of love was this, that needed the love object domesticated and locked up? And if there was love being handed out, why wasn’t she getting any? It occurred to Linda that since their daughter had found a satisfactory companion in the hamster, her husband might have taken the opportunity to round that situation out by returning his attention to his wife, yet the opposite was the case: he could leave the child alone less than ever. Every time she went near the cage he would leap to his feet to join her, until Linda wondered whether he was actually jealous of the hamster and was only pretending to love it as a way of keeping hold of her.

The Economist really messed up by not mentioning the hamster passage in their review of Kudos.

Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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