Reading List 2016, Updated

Just finished:  The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart (Charming)

Starting: The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason: a novel set in Burma

Then:

  • The Piano Player, by Kurt Vonnegut (Nephew’s favorite writer)
  • Road Dogs, by Elmore Leonard (One of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters (Another of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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.

 

Vibrant 4: 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge # 5

The past week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is VIBRANT. Self has been having so much fun with it. In the past week, she’s posted pictures of Mendocino and Venice. Now, she’s posting photographs she took during an exhibit of Chinese artists that she and her niece, Irene, saw when we were in Florence, November 2015.

The weather was glorious: it never rained. And Florence, self doesn’t need to tell dear blog readers, is enchanting.

We got ourselves a Museum Card (Would you believe, there are 64 museums in Florence?).

As we were walking towards the Duomo on one of our earliest days in Florence, we noticed this museum and went inside.

Now, self can no longer remember which museum it was, but there was an exhibition of Chinese paintings which totally blew self away: International Tour of the Works of the Twelfth China National Exhibition of Fine Arts.

The oil painting below is called “Scenery with Six-Tusked Elephant.” The artist is Lin Jianfeng.

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Lin Jianfeng, Artist From China: Seen on the International Tour of Chinese National Artists, November 2015, Florence

The second painting, self has featured on this blog before. It is by Liu Kongxi: “Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18):

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“Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18)” by Liu Kongxi

And the last painting: Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

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Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

As Jen H. says on The Daily Post, “Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.”

Self thinks these three paintings do fit the bill.

Stay tuned.

Optimistic: 2016 WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge # 4

This week, the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge is OPTIMISTIC.

“How do you fuel the fires of optimism?”

Self’s answer is: by traveling. Because traveling makes self rely on a very specific skill set: adventurousness, curiosity, and determination.

And every time she goes on a trip, she has reason to confirm that she still possesses each of those qualities, in spades.

Here, a picture from a recent trip self and her niece, Irene, took to Italy.

The entire trip was Irene’s idea. Self cannot thank her enough. We used Florence as home base and explored outward.

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San Marco Square, Venice: November 2015

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Irene and Self! San Gimidgiano, Italy, November 2015

It never rained, not once. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm. Almost T-shirt weather!

Irene is a woman of great energy and positive drive. A great traveling companion.

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Oh what a perfect time was had by all! Florence, Italy, November 2015

That trip was surely one of self’s best trips, ever!

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.

 

 

Now: Other WordPress Blogs

It’s almost New Year’s. Self thinks 2015 was her most adventurous year. And that’s saying something. Because she has been traveling a lot since 2011. To Dharamsala. To Dublin, Cork, Galway and Northern Ireland. To Bacolod. To Venice. To Florence. To Edinburgh. To London. To York. To Boston. To New Hampshire. To Banff. To Calgary. To Minneapolis. To Culver City. To Venice Beach. To Virginia.

Funny, it is really ending with a bang. She got a piece picked up in December. And the week after, she began posting a new fan fic story that she thought would be a one-shot but has since turned into 30 chapters. Pure seat-of-the-pants writing. Everlark modern AU. But it starts off with Cheating Peeta. Self is the Mistress of Angst, for sure. It’s like she did her own personal NanoWriMo only in December rather than November. Who’d have thought?

2015 was the year she got her first tour of Carnegie Hall, the place where Dearest Mum gave a solo recital — when she was 14 years old. Which would make the year 1948.

She remembered Dearest Mum taking her to the Russian Tea Room, when she was 21 and a new grad student at Stanford. Self remembered she had French onion soup and cheese blintzes. She asked for the same, when she dropped by the Russian Tea Room earlier this month.

Self doesn’t have family over, she didn’t even get a tree this year, so she has no heartwarming holiday pictures to share. Instead, here are five other WordPress bloggers whose posts on the Photo Challenge — NOW — resonated the most with self:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tell Your Stories, My Dear, You Have So Many of Them

So here’s yet another one.

Dearest Mum was a child prodigy who won The New York Times Piano Competition when she was 13 or 14. Self will find that New York Times article if it kills her! Kills her! She played in Carnegie Hall! Self has a picture of Dearest Mum standing on the stage and taking a bow. She’s in a cute little black dress, white socks, and black Mary Janes. And behind her is a full orchestra.

Carnegie Hall is celebrating its 125th Anniversary with Carnegie Hall Stories. If you have a story that involves Carnegie Hall, now is the time to drop them!

The closest she has come to writing about this family history is in the story “Lizard,” when she has Dearest Mum presenting with a kind of incubus stuck to her back. So heartwarming, self always goes for the cozy and reassuring, in life as well as in art!

That story’s in her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila.

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Sentence of the Day That Is Not By Mary Gaitskill

In her depressed mind, she sharpened these darts, burnished those grudges until they glistened like copper shields.

— Chris B, Nephew, Teacher, from his novel-in-progress

Chris is in his early 20s, and is the younger brother of Niece G. He went to Tufts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Notes to Self

Brrr, brrr, brrr.

It is cold in New York City.

Christmas lights down the avenues.

Self met up with nephew Chris and he told her that he and his sister just invested in their first piece of New York real estate.

Self was astounded, simply astounded. How is it that these kids can afford to buy and assume their first mortgage and they’re still in their 20s? While self is still meandering in her usual thickets of she-doesn’t-know-what.

Anyhoo, just for fun, self began combing through her archives and found these photos she had taken in AWP Seattle, 2014.

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Oh, fan fiction. Yesterday she started writing a drabble about a Cheating Peeta. As in: Peeta cheats on Katniss. Yeah. And he lives in San Francisco. And his mistress is Delly. Who loves wearing pink.

Must be all those Mary Gaitskill stories she’s been reading.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Transition 3: Further Adventures in Italy

First “transition”: a dish almost consumed

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A bowl of navy beans and pasta, which she was told was very “Venetian.” She had it for lunch at the Florian Café on San Marco Square.

The whole of Venice itself is in transition. The structures rest on pylons that are thousands of years old. They look as if they could sink into the sea at any moment:

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On the Venetian Lagoon, early November

And, finally, here is Pisa, as the sun sets across the Field of Miracles:

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Because self and her niece had so much fun, when her niece suggested another trip in 2016, self immediately said, “I’m there.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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