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.
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:
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.
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.
Self is reading her UCLA Extension students’ work (This is not work; it is fun).
They had to hand in their final assignments yesterday, and self has to send feedback over the next few days.
Since it is just herself and The Man at home (Sole Fruit of Her Loins is attending a swing dance contest in Palm Springs, and Jennie is driving home to Las Cruces New Mexico), self does not feel any pressure at all to have a Thanksgiving table laid out. She did, however, buy a prime rib roast; The Man says he will barbecue it in the backyard.
She has looked at the movies currently showing and is very excited to see that Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” has arrived at Palo Alto Square. Moreover, “All is Lost” is still showing, as is James Gandolfini’s last movie (whose name self is blanking on at the moment; it’s a romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
She looks over her reading list and adds a couple more books: Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family; a novel about Guatemala by Sylvia Sellers-Garcia, When the Ground Turns In Its Sleep; Alix Kates Shulman’s 1972 autobiographical novel, Memoirs (more…)
It is still dark outside, just a little past 7 in the morning.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Here are the next set of books, from a pile next to the chair next to the bookcase in the dining room:
428 + 20 = 448 Total # of books tabulated thus far
Titles include: Cloud 9, a play by Caryl Churchill; Author Law & Strategies: A Legal Guide for the Working Writer, by Brad Bunnin & Peter Beren; Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard; The Blood of Flowers, by Anita Amirrezvani; Making Home From War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement, edited by Brian Komei Dempster; Archipelago Dust, by Karen Llagas.
Self wanted to see “Jack Reacher,” but The Man was in an awful hurry, and self still had to pick up a replacement contac lens from the eye doctor. The Man ended up watching the movie by himself. Then, self wanted to watch “Jack Reacher” today, but The Man says he’d rather watch “Hitchcock.” Self isn’t all that enthused about “Hitchcock.” Should she just go by herself and watch “Jack Reacher”? But what about scary/disturbing opening scene? Self doesn’t need a new nightmare. The one she had two nights ago. In that dream, a little girl of about seven or eight starts clinging to her, as if self owed her something, when actually self didn’t know who the girl was, and plotted to escape from her. The little girl’s face at some point turned black, and her lips turned green, and, and — SELF, CUT IT OUT! THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME FOR YOU TO MULL OVER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LITTLE GIRL’S APPEARANCE IN YOUR DREAM, TONIGHT!
Naomi Watts was the guest on Letterman last night. The musical number was by Darlene Love. When Love began belting it out, self almost felt like getting up and daaancing!
It was so very nice to see Naomi Watts. Self loves her. Looooves her. She loved her in King Kong, and she loved her in The Painted Veil. She also loved her in The Ring, even though self kept her eyes closed for about a third of that movie.
So, Watts was on Letterman last night, and she looked grreat. Her hair was long and straight (like it usually is), her skin looked fantastic, and she was wearing the greatest shoes! Granted, most of the time the camera didn’t show her shoes. But when she was walking to her seat, she did have the cutest shoes.
Her gold cuff bracelet were pretty fab, too.
This morning, self left a message with son. He and Jennie are driving to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to spend Christmas with Jennie’s family. When son called back, he said that they were already in Phoenix. “Be careful!” self kept repeating. “Be careful, so many loonies out there!” She was thinking of Newtown. She’s pretty anxious right now. Eeek! The Man even had a (rare) nightmare last night. Self had to turn on the light. He was so agitated.
Then she asked son which movies he’d want to see when he comes up, 2nd of January. “Did you want to see Guilt Trip?” she asked hopefully. “No,” son said. He sounded most definite. He said he and Jennie had already decided they would see Les Miserables together, on Christmas Day. And they’d already seen Silver Linings Playbook.
“Didn’t you just love it?” self burst out. “That Jennifer Lawrence is such a cutie pie! She got nominated for a Golden Globe!”
“Yes,” son enthused. “And so did the movie!”
Awww, it was just the cutest film. Self will root for it come Oscar time.
Jennifer Lawrence and Naomi Watts are self’s two most favorite actresses (Except she doesn’t like Jennifer in Hunger Games. Jennifer should, in self’s humble opinion, just leave those action roles behind. Drama and/or comedy are really her forte).
And self also likes Keira Knightley. She wants to see Anna Karenina (only it is sad and will probably make her cry).
Others whose movies never (or almost never) misses: Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks, Kate Beckinsale, Emily Blunt.
Franklin Street Café for breakfast: the biggest plate of Eggs Benedict and potato wedges and cups of coffee.
Redwood City Farmers Market: 1 big eggplant, five onions, five nectarines (meltingly sweet), 1 1/2 lbs. of seedless grapes
At home: green tea and red bean ice cream bar from Marina Mart. Verdict: Self has yet to find a good ice cream bar from the oodles of Asian brands that are sold in Marina Mart.
It is no longer summer. Can self say that? Because it is already September.
The Man bought four huge bags of organic planting mix from Wegmans. Everything was on sale except for soil.
Self bought a Bauer’s Dracaena with reddish leaves (Original price: $17.99. Since yesterday was the start of the Wegmans annual sale, it was 30% off). Then found out afterwards that it is not frost-hardy. This is what comes of wanting to buy plants at the Wegmans annual sale. She gets very adventurous. And the plants all die.
Still reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. Self had high hopes after reading the first essay. After two more essays, self began to find the book a little too precious, a little too superficial. She stuck with it, though, which was good, because later she encountered essays about living in New York, and about Ephron’s divorce(s), and those were great. Now, self is close to the end, and she really really likes it. This would be an excellent book to give her Manang Elenita, if she and self were still on speaking terms. Here’s the opening to an essay called “Considering the Alternative” : “When I turned sixty, I had a big birthday party in Las Vegas, which happens to be one of my top five places . . . One of my friends threw twelve passes at the craps table and we all made some money and screamed and yelled and I went to bed deliriously happy.”
Of tangential relation, since self is trying to give a vivid picture of the state of her life, her UCLA Extension “Essential Beginnings” class is officially over. And boy, was this last class full of beans. They kept her on her toes every single day.
Finally, why does The Man make margaritas every single afternoon? Self can hardly see straight, and now it is time to prepare dinner. (Self, quit’cher complaining! Is it not a boon to be slightly tipsy while in the midst of food preparation? As long as one does not get clumsy with the knives!)
This past weekend, the History Channel showed a number of war documentaries. Yesterday, self finally got to watch Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima. She had refused to see it when it was showing in theaters, out of some vague, unfocused sense of loyalty to the husband, whose grandfather, a brigadier general in the Philippine Army, was taken from his family by the Japanese and never returned.
But, darn if she didn’t find herself so absolutely moved by the film. In fact, she told the husband, she was more affected by that movie than she was by Saving Private Ryan.
Self is on the War, Literature & the Arts e-mail list, and this evening there was a message in her “in” box about a new post. So she eagerly went to read it, and it was absolutely fascinating. James Moad II, who edits the blog, used to teach in the Air Force Academy. Self thinks he is very brave. He writes, “Of course, war is not moral, and maybe that’s the tragedy of it all for those who have to fight.”
He recounts a time when he was still teaching in the Air Force Academy, and he got a call from a concerned parent whose daughter was experiencing nightmares after reading one of the books Moad had assigned in his War Literature course. The book was called Tiger Force and dealt with American atrocities in Vietnam. Self has read quite extensively about American atrocities in Vietnam, and can certainly see why a young person might suffer nightmares after readings like that, but Moad reminds his readers that the student was enrolled in a Military Academy, after all.
Moad (in passsing) mentions “the anger of Odysseus upon his return home in The Odyssey” (which reminds self very much of the anger of returning Vietnam War veterans, whose sacrifices went largely un-recognized), and about Plato’s The Cave (“about how focusing on moral certainty can keep us from seeing reality”) and it’s just a really great essay, which reminds self that she took son and Niece G on a tour of Corregidor when they were about seven or eight years old. That was a great tour. The guide seemed to speak with such passion about the events of a long-ago time. The tour ends at a memorial, on a bluff overlooking the sea. And what self remembers most clearly were that there were a few very old American veterans on the tour. At that memorial, they all broke off to stand singly, and stared out at the sea, and some were visibly weeping.
And self thinks that every returning Filipino must be required to take this tour. But why leave out the rest? Let’s just say, every Filipino who is in high school or college in the Philippines, must be required by their schools to take the Corregidor tour. If Israel can require its citizens to spend time on a kibbutz (or the Israeli army), certainly the Philippine government can require its people to honor the sacrifices made on Corregidor.