Regrets, Dear Bro

We never did get to take you to Lobster Shack.

And, the other night, when you kept saying you wanted to see “Inglourious Basterds,” self made you watch “The Painted Veil” with her instead.

There are three big, fat juicy rib-eye steaks in the refrigerator, for self expected you home last night.

There are breakfast pastries from Whole Foods on the kitchen counter.  Self bought those for you as well.

Self never did get to give you her presents for your daughter:  the copy of Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francais, the books by Alexander McCall Smith and Sarah Vowell.

Most important of all, self never got to give you the x-rays from her dentist here, to give to the dentist in Manila who self is going to see, when she goes to Manila this December.

For some reason, self got all confused and thought you were coming back from LA last night.  She didn’t know you were planning to stay there until Saturday, when you return to San Francisco for a brief stop-over before going home to Manila.  After checking son’s room (where you slept, this past week), she saw it was so clean.  All the toys you brought for your kids were gone, and if self hadn’t been so distracted (by being finalist for Donald Barthelme Prize and then not being a finalist) she would have noticed and thought it was strange that you brought everything down with you to LA.

Self even left the key out —  but, sometime during Craig Ferguson’s monologue, she realized you wouldn’t be coming and took the key back.

Self slept four hours.  Which she supposes is not that bad, considering how many nights she’s had less sleep than that, lately.  Just before she went to bed, she decided not to finish reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s much-touted Eat, Pray, Love (because all the talk about God and self-fulfillment and following your bliss was making her queasy) and go on to a Ruth Rendell mystery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

USA Ties Costa Rica!

It has been a very very good evening: hubby came scrambling home from the office, early enough to put out the trash, and in time to catch the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between USA and Costa Rica.

OMG! Talk about excitement!

Costa Rica was leading 2-1, in the last 5 minutes.

Suddenly, OOOOHHH! A USA player (Bocanegra? Or Bornstein?) scores a goal! It’s tied! It’s over! USA scores an automatic berth in the World Cup! And now Costa Rica has to go into an elimination round against Uruguay! YAYYYY!! WOO-HOOOO!!

And self managed to get dinner on the table, even, in the midst of running back and forth to look at the screen!

Where is Dear Bro? He was supposed to be back from LA at noon today. But he never presented.

No matter. Self was able to get to the post office just before it closed, and mailed out a couple more stories.

This was a GRReat day! Of course, what would make it Super-Duper-Great would be if some of the stories self mailed out today (a really really long 30-pager, OMG; and a story told entirely in second person, more OMG; and self’s brand-newest story, which she actually had the guts to ask Dear Bro to read, and which he pronounced “grotesque” — !!!) get picked up. But, that is for the future. And self has no crystal ball. Which is why “simultaneous submission” is the name of self’s game, always.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

2nd Sunday in October 2009

The 49ers lost, the Yankees won, Boston was eliminated today.

“Zombieland” made self laugh and laugh —  she can’t remember laughing that much at the movies (but now she remembers it wasn’t that long ago, Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Soon

Pretty soon self will forget that she was ever wakened by hubby this morning

at 8:30 a.m.

that she ran out to the street (feeling like a sleepwalker), when she heard the words

The dogs have gone!  Your brother left and forgot to close the front door!

Self made it two blocks down the street

in her pajamas

and pink furry slippers

and she forgot that she hadn’t combed her hair

and that her grey sweatpants made her look like a bag lady.

But she forgot everything, and she slipped and fell

And a neighbor came to her aid and picked her up

And self realized she was all alone  —  that is, hubby (smart man!) had not followed her on to the street.

And then she saw the two li’l crits by some bushes, and grabbed them both by the collars, and they struggled mightily to get away, so self fell down

And got even more bruised.

And then she limped home.

And then hubby (who had presented from somewhere, virtually out of thin air) said, “Let’s take your brother to a movie.”

And your brother, it turned out, had been on the driveway the whole time (but hadn’t seen self flying out the door in her pink furry slippers, in fact hadn’t even seen the two li’l crits making their way down the sidewalk).

And yes, both men would like to see a movie.

And we saw the first screening of “The Informant.”

And self knows not what to make of this movie.  There were moments when she wanted to go HA HA HA, but the faces of everyone on screen looked so serious that she was constrained.

There is a reason, dear blog readers, that there were only, like, 10 other people in the audience.

Stay tuned.

Transcript of an Actual Conversation that Took Place in Redwood City this Evening

. . .  between self and one of her brothers in Manila.

Rrrring, rrrring, rrring!

Self:  Hello, nand’yan si Jun?

Maid:  Sandali lang, ho.  Titingnan ko.

Self (humming)

Jun:  Batchoy!

Self:  Jun!

Jun:  What’s up?

Self:  Ahh, ahhh, I thought I’d call since I’ll be there soon . . .

Jun:  You’re coming?  Here?

Self:  Yes.

Jun:  When?

Self:  On January 6.

Jun:  Why didn’t you tell us?

Self:  Ahhh, ahhh, I believe I told Mom.  Last June.  She didn’t tell you?

Jun:  No.

Self:  Ahh, ahhh, well, it’s a good thing I called, then!

Jun:  Why don’t you stay with us in Alabang?

Self:  Well, actually, that’s the reason for my call.  I was talking to Mom yesterday and she said that you and Myla have this vacant apartment next to the Mandarin . . .

Jun:  Unfurnished.

Self:  What?

Jun:  It’s unfurnished.  There isn’t even a bed there.

Self:  Oh.  I.  See.  (Tee-hee!)  That is funny.

Jun:  We were going to have it furnished, but we haven’t started yet.

Self:  Oh, ahhh, ha ha, it’s OK, I will stay with Yoo-Hoo then (Inside:  scream).

After this very illuminating conversation, self scurried to the living room, intent on venting to hubby.  But the Dear Man raised a hand before self could even get out the words:  “Guess what!”

On the flat-screen HDTV, an announcer was saying something very important about THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL COACH CHARLIE WISE AT NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY.

Self counted to 10.  Slowly, like so:  One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, onte-thousand-three (feeling somewhat like River Phoenix in that Indiana Jones installment where he played “young Indie” to Sean Connery’s wise old papa)

To his credit, hubby has had a very stressful day:  this morning he discovered (while self was out doing the groceries) that the reason our house is so cold is that:  OUR FLOOR FURNACE DOES NOT WORK.

Yes indeed, dear blog readers:  this product of Stanford Engineering School actually TOOK A FLASHLIGHT and peered into the depths of the canyon that is our floor heater, and pronounced that there was no pilot light.

And the whole rest of the day, he sat on the couch, lamenting our inability to have the furnace fixed because of lack of funds.  (Self thinks it is genius, absolutely genius that she anticipated this problem by booking a trip to the Philippines in three weeks.  Who knew, dear blog readers, who knew that self had ESP???)  In the meantime, self sat meekly beside hubby, the picture of wifely forebearance, trying to keep her teeth from chattering.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Freud’s Discussion of “The Uncanny”, and a Few Examples From Self’s Own Experiences

Reading, this hot Tel Aviv afternoon, Chapter Two of Barbara E. Mann’s A Place in History: Modernism, Tel Aviv, and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space, a publication of the Stanford Series in Jewish History and Culture.

Chapter Two is entitled, “The Zionist Uncanny: Reading the Old Cemetery on Trumpeldor” and begins with a series of epigraphs, one of which is:

The city is constructed by its gaps. — Stephen Barber, Fragments of the European City, 1995

A little further on there is discussion of Freud’s essay “The Uncanny,” which Mann says “is devoted to a discussion of literary works, for it is within the realm of the imagination that the uncanny achieves its greatest disturbances.”

Quoting Freud: “An uncanny effect is often easily produced when the distinction between imagination and reality is effaced, as when something that we have hitherto regarded as imaginary appears before us in reality, or when a symbol takes over the full functions of the thing it symbolizes.”

And here are self’s own experiences of this “uncanny,” since arriving here at Ruppin St. in Tel Aviv, early Sunday morning:

1.
Self’s brother is becoming remarkably like self’s Dear Departed Dad. And self didn’t get on particularly well with Dear Departed Dad, it suddenly occurs to self now, of all places, when she is staying in an apartment with brother. Last night, self, wanting to make herself useful, asked what Ying would like to eat. Self offered to fry some ground beef with garlic and mushrooms for Ying. Brother came into the kitchen and said no, he had already decided we would have pasta carbonara for dinner. Ying’s voice came floating in from the living room: “I think ground beef with mushrooms sounds good.”

2.
Self and 10-year-old nephew had lunch in a mall adjacent to the hospital. Ying developed fevers in the night and had to be rushed back in this morning. She was fine when we first checked her in, but as the day progressed she seemed to get weaker and weaker. Finally, self offered to take nephew out for lunch. So nephew led self through a glass walkway from the hospital to the mall (which surprisingly reminded self so much of malls in Manila — the busyness, the somewhat garish decorations, the vendors hawking wares on tables in the corridor). And then nephew led self to a fast-food court (Thank goodness for this plucky little boy, who only arrived in Tel Aviv a few days before self), and there self had an array of choices, ranging from Chinese and Japanese to shish kebab. Nephew chose lamb shish kebab, and self would have had that, too, except that the dish consisted of two humongous sticks, a huge mound of yellow rice, fried potatoes, and salad, and self knew she wouldn’t be able to finish it. “Why not shawarma?” nephew suggested (Truly, the kid is a godsend). And when self had the said shawarma, it tasted — odd. Well, at least it didn’t give her a bad stomach. And suddenly nephew raised his head and said, “There’s yaya. What is she doing here?” And, indeed, there was the Filipina maid self’s brother had engaged to take care of Ying, and she was in an electronics shop, chatting with a salesman. This yaya is pretty hip: She wears tight red T-shirts with sequins, and there is a very elaborate tattoo of a tiger and a rose at the base of her neck, between her shoulder blades. Also, true to that indefinable radar that tells a servant when a visitor has no status, she has ignored self ever since self’s arrival in the household. Nephew and self watched silently as the yaya finishing chatting up the salesman and then proceeded to the Chinese food stall where she bought two big boxes of food. Then she wandered off again. Uncanny, indeed.

3.
The final uncanny: the apartment itself, in a quiet residential street parallel to Ben Yehuda Ave. On the narrow walk up to the apartment entrance, self recognizes a passion flower vine: she bought one just a few weeks before leaving California. This one curls its intricate tendrils around an iron railing; it hasn’t bloomed yet. There are also Mexican orange trees. The landing itself is floored with worn and broken tiles, and everything in the apartment smells of age and wear, from the rugs, to the kitchen (tiny sink, tiny stove, chipped mugs) and the old photographs, some of them seemingly pre-war. Self’s brother tells her that he has to vacate the apartment next month, unfortunately, and has begun to look for other apartments in the area.

What final uncanniness will self experience tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the remaining 11 days of her stay? Perhaps the most uncanny is waiting, waiting for the arrival of Dearest Mum who, self just discovered, is coming after all: April 2.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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