The Great Gilda Cordero-Fernando

(Read all the way to the end; this post has many digressions)

Re-reading a fantastic short story, “Hothouse,” by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, a mimeographed copy of which self just pulled from a closet overflowing with old files.

Thank you, Jennie and Marie Kondo for inspiring self to organize! She had to drop everything and leave for Manila for two weeks, supposedly Dearest Mum was at death’s door but for the second time in 18 months self flew home, burdened by great and tragic feelings — and this time she made sure to choose the longest flight, 19 hours and one stop-over, because she had a little tickle of doubt that perhaps the emergency wasn’t really an emergency — and sure enough she arrived in Manila absolutely wrung out, made straight to Dearest Mum’s, and found her quite cozy and well, TV blaring a Korean tele-nobela, she surrounded by a nurse, a kusinera, a driver, and miscellaneous. Honestly, self nearly had a nervous breakdown (or were those tears of joy?) at the sight.

Anyhoo, back to the closet cleaning. Back to “Hothouse!” Apologies for the longest digression ever! Self arrived home and discovered little grey hairs framing her face, new ones, a veritable halo. This is what she gets for flying home in the middle of rainy season, when Manila traffic is at its most chaotic.

Also, regarding rainy season: mosquitoes rule! Around both her ankles: bracelets of itchy red dots! There were big signs at US Immigration warning of a worldwide MEASLES EPIDEMIC and self was practically fainting with anxiety at the thought that an Immigration Officer might rise up, peer over his safety glass, take one look at the disgusting array of red dots circling both her ankles (She wore her last clean item of clothing: wouldn’t you know, a dress, so there was NO HIDING THE EVIDENCE) and shout, QUARANTINE! In fact, the US Immigration Officer was very nice (She got the single Asian Immigration Officer on duty, HALLELUJAH) and though he looked at her as though he had serious misgivings, eventually he stopped counting the number of visa stamps in her passport (She’s been all over the world, literally, the last decade) and LET HER IN to the most holy, beautiful (forgive the hyperbole) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Apologies again for that second — or third — digression. Here’s the opening sentence — FINALLY!!! — of “Hothouse.”

  • For a long time while I lived with Tia Dolor and quite a few years afterwards, I looked with condescencion upon her graceless way of life.

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Son of My Father”: Story # 20 in Carlos Bulosan’s THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER

Make no mistake, this father of the narrator’s, to whom Bulosan dedicates 25 (memoir-ish) short stories, would be no one’s idea of a good father. He drinks, he gambles, he sleeps with the neighbor’s wife, he gives the family home to a Mexican beauty he has a crush on. But here we are.

Bulosan treats all his father’s foibles with such affection and humor. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE, BULOSAN MUST BE A SAINT.

From The Son of My Father:

“You are a tragedy, Simeon!” they said.

It was true. Father was a tragedy. My brother Osong was not his spitting image at all. Osong was tall and fair of complexion. His bones were sharp and the hair on his legs was thick and long. He spoke several languages and dialects. He did not drink anything that had alcohol. He smoked American cigars and cigarettes.

Father was small and dark. His bones were soft and the only hair he had was on his head. And it was nothing to brag about, either. He could not read or write.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: London Smiles

Self just got back from a trip to Ireland and England.

The last week of May, she met up with Amy Toland of Miami University Press and took her to her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street. Self has been coming here since 2014, Julie is an amazing cook!

DSCN9990

Julie, chef of Chez Nous on Hanway Street in London; Amy Toland, Managing Editor of Miami University Press

This cheeky picture of Harry and Meghan was hanging on the wall of a wee cheesecake shop on Drury Street:

DSCN0238

Son was in London for work. Self spent time with her daughter-in-law, Jennie. Here’s Jennie in a London cab:

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Love the prompt from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

Stay tuned.

Back in London!

Prague was very pretty but people do not speak English there.

London is adorable because as usual there is traffic and the skies are grey.

It’s another Bank Holiday. OMG, so many of these! Can someone please explain what is going on?

The last thing she remembers doing in London was watching John Wick 3 at the Odeon on Tottenham (Five Stars!) and meeting Jennie for dinner at Chez Nous immediately after. Then walking with Jennie down Great Russell Street and pointing out the British Museum and the Antiquarian Bookseller and paying a very brief visit to the Bloomsbury Hotel (The lobby looks like most of the space is taken up by a bar. Or mebbe it’s always been that way and she’s just mis-remembering?)

In Paddington, she used an ATM to withdraw pounds. A message told her: PUT YOUR CASH AWAY QUICKLY.

Then, as if she needed another reminder, the PA system began to squawk: THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS HERE.

She dashed into an exit elevator like her pants were on fire. GOTTA GET OUT OF PADDINGTON I’M SURE I’M BEING STALKED BY SOMEONE WHO SAW ME USE THE ATM.

The taxi rank was beautiful: it snaked all the way back, looked like at least 50 taxis, each moving smartly forward evey few seconds. She wished she had the wherewithal to take a picture. But she was SO deathly afraid of pickpockets. Seriously, though, that is some serious taxi business going on at Paddington.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland

Self’s new literary crush is Northanger Abbey‘s Henry Tilney. In his exceedingly dry wit, he is the perfect foil for our heroine, she with the unquenchable thirst for the Gothic, Catherine Morland.

p. 177:

Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains — and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your curiosity in so favorable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly arise, and throwing your dressing-gown around you, proceed to examine this mystery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Oh, Catherine!

While riding with Henry Tilney in his curricle, Catherine shares her thoughts on their destination: the family seat, Northanger Abbey.

Catherine: Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?

Henry: And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors of a building such as “what one reads about” may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?

Catherine: Oh! Yes — I do not think I should be easily frightened, because there would be so many people in the house — and besides, it has never been uninhabited and left deserted for years, and then the family come back to it unawares, without giving any notice, as usually happens.

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

John Thorpe and Catherine Morland, pp. 137 – 138

There are books self picks up while traveling that she calmly gives away at the end of her trip. But self will keep her paperback copies of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey forever (Even though Persuasion fell short of her expectations, it is still so Jane!).

John Thorpe is such a lazy suitor. And for a girl who’s the youngest of this group, who’s never had a suitor before, Catherine Morland isn’t doing too badly:

John: But I say, Miss Morland, I shall come and pay my respects at Fullerton before it is long, if not disagreeable.

Catherine: Pray do. My mother and father will be very glad to see you.

John: And I hope — I hope, Miss Morland, you will not be sorry to see me.

Catherine: Oh dear, not at all. There are very few people I am sorry to see. Company is always cheerful.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dear, Sweet Catherine!

A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

Northanger Abbey, p. 122

Self loves this book. Loves, loves, loves it.

She hardly remembers anything from the first time she read it, it’s a good thing she decided to read it again. Catherine’s innocence, her enthusiasm for the “horrible” — who would have expected such an entertaining tale to be spun from this?

Catherine confides in her new BFF Eleanor Tilney that she is very much looking forward to the arrival of “something very shocking indeed” (p. 123) and that “it is more horrible than anything we have met with yet . . . it is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder and everything of the kind.” (p. 124)

Eleanor assumes that Catherine is talking about a “riot.”

Eleanor: Have the goodness to satisfy me as to this dreadful riot.

Catherine: Riot — What riot?

Henry hastens to explain: “Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out . . .”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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 cafĂ© 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.

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