Many Excitements, Including Justified 4.10

What. An. Exciting. Week.

Self cannot begin to tell dear blog readers what an exciting week it’s been.

First, she pigged out at Max’s (son’s favorite Filipino restaurant) in South San Francisco, with Diane.

Just a few days earlier, she went on a hike with Stella K and Tina B, in Edgewood Park & Nature Preserve (Self knows that Stella and Tina, both serious hikers, went on the slow and easy in deference to self’s great age.  Thanks, gals!)

Yesterday, since The Man was in a most irksome mood, self let him be and entertained herself with watching three back-to-back episodes of “The Walking Dead.”  Whoa.  This is a great show.  Why had self never watched it before?  Ah, self, you are so behind-with-the-cultural-flow!

She bought tickets to the San Francisco Ballet, which is probably only the second time she’s ever bought tickets for the San Francisco Ballet.

She heard from Zack.  He is imminent.

The Ancient One is still alive (though getting whinier with each passing day)

And now, self will begin sharing her reflections about Justified 4.10

This one was memorable primarily because Deputy Rachel Brooks is back!  Bringing her sass right into Our Man Raylan’s face!  She tells Raylan that she puts up with his shenanigans is because he’s “easy on the eyes”!  What a straight-talking girl!

Johnny Crowder maintains people want to move to the suburbs because there ain’t no niggers there.  He says this right in front of Our Gal Rachel.  She doesn’t bat an eyelash.  She’s such a cool cucumber!  Self loves that Raylan’s team has two cool cucumbers:  Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson!

And —  Drew Thompson is finally unmasked!  You’ll never guess who it is, dear blog readers!  No spoilers here.

This episode was very easy on the killings.  As a matter of fact, self doesn’t think there was one fallen body —  what is happening?

Boyd Crowder and Ava utter the unthinkable:  each says, into a phone, “I love you.”  Bo-ring!

Ella May survived yet another episode!  Self loves her durability!  Her unexpected tenacity!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library # 30: Son’s Room # 11

Self still lost in the thickets of son’s room.  But the end is in sight!

The number of books on the 2nd shelf above son’s desk:  47

1079 + 47 = 1126 Total Books Counted Thus Far

Some of the titles:  The Father, a poetry collection by Sharon Olds;  50 Stories From Israel:  An Anthology, edited by Zisi Stavi;  The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene;  100 Cases That Every Scots Law Student Needs to Know, edited by W. Green;  Drive-By Vigils, by R. Zamora Linmark;  Pinoy Capital:  The Filipino Nation in Daly City, by Benito M. Vergara, Jr.;  The Best American Travel Writing 2011, edited by Sloane Crosley (“Treason only matters when it is committed by trusted men.”);  Word Painting:  A Guide to Writing More Descriptively, by Rebecca McClanahan;  Winterbirth:  The Godless World, Book One, by Brian Ruckley (This one self picked up in a bookstore in Edinburgh);  If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly:  Poems, by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Here’s a short passage from Winterbirth:

The great column was led by a hundred or more mounted warriors.  Many bore wounds, still fresh from the lost battle on the fields by Kan Avor; all bore, in their red-rimmed eyes and wan skin, the marks of exhaustion.  Behind them came the multitude:  women, children and men, though fewest of the last.  Thousands of widows had been made that year.

It was a punishing exodus.  Their way was paved with hard rock and sharp stones that cut feet and turned ankles.  There could be no pause.  Any who fell ill were seized by those who came behind, hauled upright with shouts of encouragement, as if noise alone could put strength back into their legs.  If they could not rise, they were left.  There were already dozens of buzzards and ravens drifting lazily above the column.  Some had followed it all the way up the Glas valley from the south; others were residents of the mountains, drawn from their lofty perches by the promise of carrion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library # 24: Son’s Room, Part 5

Still with the book tabulation project.  Still counting books, still in son’s room (which she’s filling with her own books, spreading like an amoeba)

The top shelf of a bookcase in son’s room has 45 books.

799 + 45 = 844 Total Books Counted So Far

Books on this self include:  Living to Tell the Tale, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez;  Tilting the Continent:  Southeast Asian American Writing, edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Cheng Lok Chua;  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John BoyneThe Evolution of a Sigh, by R. Zamora Linmark;  Filipino Woman Writing:  Home and Exile in the Autobiographical Narratives of Ten Writers, edited by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo (Chapter 1:  Writing and Re-writing the Self, begins: “In this country, autobiographical writing is not quite recognized as a literary genre.”);  When the Elephants Dance, by Tess Uriza Holthe;  Language for a New Century:  Contemporary Poetry From the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar (Browsing through, self really likes a piece by John Yau, In the Fourth Year of the Plague, that begins “Oil began dripping from the black and violet clouds bunched together near the top of the back stairs.” And, as well, a beautiful poem on Baguio:  “Hill Station,” by Luisa A. Igloria);  The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston;  Black Robe, by Brian Moore;  Homebody/ Kabul, a play by Tony Kushner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Short Story: Susan Straight (Which Turns Out to Be a Novel Excerpt — Thanks ONE STORY!)

Today, self finally got to the end of the Susan Straight story (in One Story) she began several weeks (perhaps even months) ago.  Time blurs somewhere around October and doesn’t stop until — until now.

Self finished the story and it was so gut-wrenching.  Honestly, she had a hard time keeping down her Apple Danish at Pamplemousse.

Afterwards, as soon as she got home, she googled Ms. Straight and found that she’d had a very busy decade, even managing to become a finalist for the National Book Award.

The story in One Story was “Something Like Sanctified.”  Read more about it here (from another One Story reader).  Found out it’s really a novel excerpt.  Oh.

This evening, self is googling Lorrie Moore because she just began Moore’s 2009 novel, A Gate at the Stairs.  She’s crazy about the writing.  She looked up reviews and they were somewhat mixed.  The Guardian gushed.  Something about Moore being “the critics’ darling” (which self has no doubt is true).  The review referred to her as “a master of the short story.”

Here are some other short story writers self relishes reading:

  • Lydia Davis (Of course!  The Mother of the Ironic Short Short)
  • R. Zamora Linmark (Master of The Hyper-Emo / Poetic Short Short)
  • George Saunders (Master of the Break-Your-Heart Story)
  • Lysley Tenorio (WOW.  And self does mean WOW)

She also still loves Rosario Ferré.

A recent Ninotchka Rosca story (“The Goddess”) left her cross-eyed with envy.

Self is sorry:  she just can’t seem to get into Alice Munro.  Aaargh!  Self knows this marks her as a Philistine.

She will always and forever adore Kafka.

At one time, she was also crazy about Isaac Babel.

And let’s just throw this in:  The best novellas self has ever read have been written by Jim Harrison and Irene Nemirovsky.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fall 2012: Exhibits and Movies To See

Currently at the de Young:  Rudolf Nureyev, A Life in Dance.  Self really really wants to see this!

Opening at the de Young on January 26:  Girl With a Pearl Earring:  Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis and Rembrandt’s Century.

Zack saw Cloud Atlas and said it was awful.  Any movie with Tom Hanks + Halle Berry is, to self’s thinking, a miss.  These two still do not seem to have come up with the right formula for how to age their careers gracefully.

But here are some current movies self dearly wants to see.  The capsule reviews are by San Francisco Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle.

  • Argo:  That Ben Affleck can direct a film this smart, this gripping, is no surprise any longer, but still — his account of a rescue effort during the Iran hostage crisis is as precise as it is suspenseful.
  • The Details:  A rare thing, a moral study masquerading as an arch comedy, it’s the story of a mild-mannered doctor whose life begins to fall apart seemingly because of a run of bad luck, but really because of his own moral slackness.  A smart and very interesting film, starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks and a remarkable Laura Linney.
  • A Late Quartet:  The simmering life disappointments and age-old resentments within a classical string quartet come to the surface when the oldest of their group (Christopher Walken) develops Parkinson’s disease.  The film is low-key, but with extraordinary performances (Imogen Poots, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener) and incendiary moments.
  • Lincoln:  An amazing film from Steven Spielberg, featuring one of the year’s best performances, with Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, working every possible angle to pass the 13th Amendment in the waning days of the Civil War.  It feels like history come to life.  Wonderful.

The Man says The Ancient One pees indoors about twice a day, on average.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Mesa” at Greenbelt Five: Indulgence

Zack and Sol Jo. Sol Jo has been managing Mesa in Greenbelt 5 for two months.

Yesterday, Saturday, self was there twice:  She had lunch there with Zack, and then dinner with her niece, Camille V.  Actually, if she’d known there would be a mass in the gardens of Greenbelt, she would have come earlier.  As it was, she caught just the tail-end.

For lunch, she had Laing two-ways (topped with crispy adobo flakes —  Yuuum!!), garlic rice, and a ripe mango shake.  Zack had crispy pork sisig with egg.  The server, a very young woman named Joanne, tossed the sisig in the rice right at our table.  It’s something like what they do in House of Prime Rib in San Francisco, wheel out the food on an enormous cart, then do a lot of whiz-bang preparation, table-side, for the edification of the customers.  Only, this is of course not prime rib:  it’s pork sisig.  Bill for everything (including dessert, a concoction called “crispy leche flan”) was 635 pesos, or about $15.

The “Crispy Leche Flan” at Mesa: Sinfully Delightful! Accch, Self’s Pants Are Bursting!

Chef Alvin Arrogante (Is that a great name, or what? Simply cries out for fictional treatment!), Self (Post-luch: She looked a lot slimmer just an hour earlier), and Mesa Manager Sol Jo (Real Name: Maria Soledad C. Jo)

Next, dinner:  while waiting for niece Camille V, self ordered:

  • crispy pata
  • crispy whole squid
  • 2 way laing
  • garlic rice
  • green mango shake

By the time Camille arrived, the table was crammed with food, and self had finished her green mango shake and her third serving of the crispiest, fattiest, melt-in-your-mouth delicious crispy pata she has ever tasted.  The version she has to settle for in Goldilocks and Max’s in South San Francisco are but poor, guttering flames when judged alongside the HUGE crispy pata servings at Mesa.

Camille’s eyes nearly popped at the site of self tucking in to all that food, by herself.

“Ma’am,” said the young waitress.  “Hindi ba dito ka rin nag-lunch?”

Why, yes, self admitted.  She’d just been in Mesa a scant five hours earlier.  Ouch!  Her jeans are really pinching her!

Anyhoo, after dinner, Camille suggested we go elsewhere for coffee.  And as we passed Café Havana, she pointed out a couple of “Ladies of the Night,” and self’s jaw almost dropped open because she never expected to see such pros wandering around in Greenbelt.  You can always tell a pro because their faces are hard.  And their strolling has a certain subliminal purposefulness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Continuing Dialogue

Self knew that there would come a point when Bacolod would seem less like a discovery and more like a disturbance.  “You can only be discovered once,” a friend told her a long time ago.  Similarly, self feels she can now say: “You can only discover a place once.”

But in self’s case, she got to discover Bacolod twice:  first as a child, spending summer vacations there, and then as an American and a writer, searching for pieces of her identity there.  Not many people have that opportunity.  She is lucky.

Self is also deeply grateful that Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father was in her suitcase!  His experiences in Kenya so closely resemble self’s own, it’s positively uncanny.

She’s trying out a new driver tomorrow.  Woot hoot!  It is really incredible that this city is so dead on All Souls Day.  Virgie’s, Pendy’s, Bob’s, Calea —  all her usual hangouts —  are closed.  She is so grateful that C’s, next to L’Fisher, was open, because when Zack messaged her and asked, Whacha doing?  She was able to reply:  “I have just had lunch of sans rival and brewed coffee.”

It is also incredible that she has not encountered, on this trip, a single mention of aswang or mangkukulam or any of the various Filipino ghosts that fed her imagination as a child.  Mebbe it’s because she wasn’t able to get out of the city much?  Unlike in March, when she returned to Siquijor with Zack?

Barack mentions a Kenyan form of witch called “a night runner.”  The lights go off, and people might say it is caused by the supernatural, by night runners.  A history professor named Rukia tells Barack that she has a daughter, and this daughter has “no use for night runners.”  Her daughter’s first language is “not Luo.  Not even Swahili.  It is English.”  But, Rukia says, “In the end, I’m less interested in a daughter who’s authentically African than one who is authentically herself.”

A cousin told self yesterday that people here think her frequent comings and goings are due to the fact that she has “nothing better to do.”  So she fills up her time with little invented dramas that put her center stage.  Over there, in America, no one pays attention to her.  It’s only in Bacolod that she gets the attention she craves.  Because why on earth would self keep wanting to come back here?  Is it only that she wants to keep messing with people?  Why not just shut up and blend into the great anonymous US of A?  Her visits here are so tense and stressful, so why does she keep insisting on coming?

Who knows, maybe these people are right.  She will certainly give that question very serious thought, in the coming year.  Maybe self really is nothing more than a bored, attention-seeking weirdo.  Maybe she is like the Emily Van Camp character in “Revenge,” dedicating the rest of her life to getting even.  In that case, self will very happily yield the stage to her brothers and Dearest Mum.  From now on, she will spare herself the travesty and visit Bacolod only every other year.

But, Oh my goodness, can you see what has happened here?  Self has gotten herself all tied up in knots.  When, actually, the decision of when and how often she should come to Bacolod is hers and hers alone.  Shut up, people!  Since self isn’t begging for handouts from any of you, can’cha all just sit back and endure her presence for a mere month?  Is that really too much to ask?  Hey, she’s certainly making Bacolod famous, over there.  So many of her American friends check in every day, just to see what new encounters self shares.

Yesterday, she actually got to hear the fabulous Ida’s voice on the phone, for the first time in almost two years.  “This is Ida,” went the voice (sounding much less robust than it sounded in her imagination.  If self hadn’t known that was Ida on the other end, she would have thought it was a mouse!).  “And this is Batchoy,” self replied.  “Ma’am, this is Ida,” went Ida.  “And this is Batchoy,” self replied.  “OK, just cut the crap.  I need 10,000 pesos.”  The answer was very direct:  No.  “OK, make it 15,000 pesos.  How about a loan?  Just 15,000 pesos.”  This was highly amusing to self, because this caused Ida some distress.  Self knows because she came running back to the office (She was with Elenita, somewhere near Mandalagan) and then closed the door to her inner sanctum.  Great!  Self briefly contemplated kicking the door, but decided to remove herself from the premises, especially as Ida’s swarthy brother suddenly materialized by her elbow, and having a man she doesn’t know stand that close to her is, quite frankly, ICCKY.  Even, unbearable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Siquijor: Wearing the Earrings Jennie Made

Self asked Zack to take her picture. She wanted to show Jennie that she was wearing the earrings Jennie made.

In February, just before leaving for Bacolod, self paid son a visit.  She had a fabulous time! On the day she left, Jennie presented her with the earrings, which she’d made herself.

Self was so touched, she told Jennie:  “I’ll wear them every day in Bacolod.”

Then she figured she needed a picture, to show Jennie.  And since she was usually by herself in Bacolod, except for the week that Zack joined her, she never did get to have a picture of herself wearing the earrings.

So there were Zack and self, in Siquijor.  We’d just gotten off the ferry, and walked up the hill a little way, to get to the market and catch a jeep that would take us to the town of Lasi.

Before catching the jeep, we stopped to investigate a pizza place.  This restaurant actually had “Pizza” on the sign, but we were told the pizza had yet to be made, and since we were in a hurry, we ended up ordering from the turo-turo.  Very delicious food, though!  Self had banana palm hearts in coconut milk and sauteed kangkong and plain rice.

And that’s when she said to Zack, “Quick, take my picture.  I have to show Jennie I’m wearing her earrings.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Bataan Day/ Discovering a Book List

Bataan Day is tomorrow, April 9.  It is the 70th anniversary of the surrender of combined U.S. and Filipino forces to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

How sad is this day?  The husband’s grandfather, a brigadier general, was one of those who surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula.  He made it as far as Fort Santiago, but disappeared shortly thereafter.  No one knows what befell him.  He was simply gone.  His eldest child, the husband’s father, was 16 years old.

Self was reminded of this very important anniversary by Hyphen Magazine.

Self also discovered this list of novelist Abha Dawesar’s Favorite All-Time Books.  It is a very eclectic list. Self decides to print it out so that she can start reading the books on it.

Towards the bottom of the list, self finds her second collection, Mayor of the Roses.  It follows right after Zack’s second book (after Rolling the R’s), Primetime Apparitions.

Mayor of the Roses, the title story of self’s collection, was published in Hyphen Issue # 6.

The list appeared in Hyphen Issue # 7.  Which must have been some time ago, for now Hyphen‘s current issue is # 24.

Self is tickled pink to be included on a list that begins with:

  • The Symposium, by Plato
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  • Notes From the Underground, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: A Poem in Eunoia Review and Another In The New Yorker’s Feb. 13 & 20, 2012 Double Issue

Self didn’t even know The New Yorker ran a double issue in February.  Must have been because she was so busy recovering from her India trip and packing for Bacolod!  Also in the issue is a short story by Famous Author Michael Chabon.

Self does eventually manage to get through all her back-logged reading.  She may work slowly, but she always gets to where she needs to be, in the end.

Anyhoo, here we are, it is Good Friday.  Self tries to imagine the processions wending through the towns and villages of Negros.  She so wishes she were still there, boo!

One of her last conversations with Zack went something like this:

“Do you think I’ll be all right?”

Zack’s deadpan response:  “Yes.  You’ll be home soon.”

By “Home” he meant:  California.  BWAH HA HA HA!

And self did leave, and she really was all right.  Zack, you are a genius!

Today self is happy:  she planted four gladiolus bulbs, discovered that a bag of bone meal that had been left in the rain for the past six weeks was crawling with smelly white grubs, and began reading above-mentioned double issue of The New Yorker.  She also has coffee ready and waiting for her in the kitchen.

In a jiffy, she’ll have to leave to return Atonement to the library, then mail out three stories.  She also has to get more toner for her HP laser printer.  Tomorrow, self, the husband and possibly Niece G will be going to see the exhibit “The Splendor of India’s Royal Court,” in the Asian Art Museum.  The exhibit’s last day is this Sunday, Easter Sunday.  If the weather holds, it should be a very, very nice weekend.

Without further ado, here is the poem from the Eunoia Review (which self reads pretty regularly).  It’s by Aaron Poller, who is described in the author bio as “an advanced nurse psychotherapist.”  Self will only post the first half; that’s so dear blog readers will be encouraged to check out the review:


      by Aaron Poller

I waited on the verge for disaster,
the next thing about to happen. Though

I looked, kept faithful watch, it did
not show. A trick of the imagination,

a mind unhinged, unsteady. That being
said, time folded upon itself, labyrinthine,

modest, having a frank talk with myself:
this week an earthquake, followed

(That’s the first half. Go to Eunoia Review to read the rest!)

* * * * *

And here’s an excerpt from Gerald Stern’s poem in The New Yorker. Self will also not post the entire poem, as she thinks it might be considered infringement of copyright or whatever.


by Gerald Stern

You can say what you want but I love Nietzsche most
when he stood between the terrified horse and the coachman
and intervened though I have pity for his sudden
madness even if he hated pity for he was
human then nor could one word matter anyhow,
and when he went insane, as I understand it,
he suffered from shame and sadness in different cities
for which we have the very late letters his vicious
sister never burned, and though I know
it wasn’t Heine or Emile Zola I thought
it had to be either Gogol or Dostoyevsky
who threw his arms around the bleeding horse;

(Isn’t that magnificent, dear blog readers? Self is so inspired!)

Stay tuned.

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