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:


The Main Stage of Carnegie Hall, in between rehearsals: December 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



The Gloaming, the Dying

Self absolutely hates the fact that, when she sat at her desk this morning to begin her tasks for the day, the first thing she saw after logging on was this:


Oh Ziggy Stardust!

Mourn, mourn, mourn.

In honor of his passing, today Food & Wine posted a recipe of what was apparently Bowie’s favorite dish: Shepherd’s Pie.

The Year 2015: Very Stream-of-Consciousness

First Margarita Donnelly Prize for Prose. Mary Gaitskill. New York, New York. Carnegie Hall and Dearest Mum (Last night, front row seat, Trio Solisti. They killed Brahms. Absolutely killed it. Three standing ovations. From a New York audience. No joke). Florence & Venice with Niece. “Crackers” in Crab Orchard Review. Fan Fiction (self’s WIP: about Peeta as a prostitute!!!) garners more hits. London-Ireland-York (the last for the first time). Central Park walks. Middlemarch (swoon). Writers Group meet-ups. Twitter Hashtag Games & Folklore Thursday. Victorian Steampunk and Shadowhunters. Believing in dragons. Stay tuned.


Carnegie Center’s Weill Hall, Before the Trio Solisti Concert Last Night

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.


Manhattan Stories

Shirtsleeve weather, yes!

Lost wallet twice. Got wallet returned twice. Nothing missing.

The soldier in camo who returned self’s wallet (the first time she lost it) found her on the PATH train platform for Hoboken. She had just been about to board the train. She’d just discovered her wallet was missing. She had five seconds of gut-twisting fear. Then the tap on her shoulder.

The soldier was young and didn’t even stick around for self to say “Thank you.” She had to shout it to him across the throng. He heard her, though, because he half turned his head and smiled.

Missed Drew’s concert at Carnegie Hall. To make up for it, she ate lunch at the Russian Tea Room. Cheese blintzes and French onion soup, just like what Dearest Mum ordered for her, 30 years ago. Was it worth it?

Self is determined to work on a story self is writing about Dearest Mum, will post on or on twitter #CHstories. Thinking of trekking to where Dearest Mum lived before she got married: Might have been Elmhurst. Might have been Flushing.

In fact, she did write this story. It is finished. She sent it to McSweeney’s two years ago. When she checks Submittable, it says “In Progress.” Self might as well take that as a rejection.

Black eyeliner a must because self gets so little sleep here. The city is like liquid fire. Fire! So, rim black around her eyes, please don’t look at self’s eyebags.

Last night, she was in the East Village, Avenue A. The streets were thronged with people in Santa costumes. She lived on 8th and 1st in the early 80s. She no longer recognized anything.

A young woman got up to read a piece about training in a police academy. “You’re going to be raped,” an officer whispered into her ear. How could he have known that she was raped, five years earlier, at 18.

Then another woman, reading about her hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey: “If you go to Bayonne, it’s because you live there, or you know someone who does.”

Self is also still reading student pieces for her UCLA Extension Writers Program class in Nonfiction writing.

Cacophony, yes?

A woman last night said to self, “You seem very nervous.” Which is probably why self keeps dropping her wallet. When she finally does lose it for good, self has decided, she will head straight to JFK and fly to the Bay Area.

But first, to write.

And it is fan fiction, all the way. Capitol Peeta! She has sworn. She will not abandon him on a train platform flanked by his handlers,  Tweedledum and Tweedledee. She will write this, even if it kills her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Dearest Mum, Who Played in Carnegie Hall

When she was 14 or 15. She won The New York Times piano competition.

This Manila newspaper article focuses on her fashion style. She picked out the clothes herself. The article describes her clothing choices as very “atonal.”

nena del rosario 001

Nena del Rosario Villanueva

Dearest Mum had the tiniest waist: 23 inches all around. Alas, self did not inherit Dearest Mum’s fabulous figure. That honor went to self’s older sister.

Growing up, self resisted all attempts to get dressed up. Even after she started giving readings. “It’s about what’s inside,” she remembers saying to Dearest Mum. “No one has the time to figure out the inner you, so why don’t you just make it easy for them,” Dearest Mum would retort.

Self is so perverse that she continued to dress badly. On purpose.

Now, self is finally beginning to come around to Dearest Mum’s way of thinking.

Years and years later, self is in VCCA when she peeks into an artists studio and spies Drew, playing on a piano. She strikes up a conversation. Eight years later, Drew composes a full-length opera based on one of self’s novellas.

Would you believe, self missed a Nov. 19 concert in Carnegie Hall; the violinist played an original composition by Drew. Sometimes self is very, very stupid.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields”

Somehow, the theme of these “Strawberry Fields” lyrics feel soooo familiar:

Always, no sometimes, think it’s me
But you know I know when it’s a dream
I think I know I mean a “Yes” but it’s all wrong
That is I think I disagree
Let me take you down, cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Connected: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge is:  CONNECTED.

Which is fabulous, as self recently had occasion to quote E. M. Forster in one of her UCLA Extension Writing classes:

Only connect.

Only connect.

Only connect.

Two simple words which mean so much.

Here to celebrate connectedness:

(1) Self met the musical composers/performers Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre this past summer. Here they are rehearsing a new piece:

Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett rehearsing a new piece at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, this past summer

Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett rehearsing a new piece at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, this past summer.

(2) Language connects people. Here, a snap of a page of the Oxford English Dictionary, which self found in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. She kept the dictionary open to the page defining “circumlocution” (a most fabulous word):

The Oxford English Dictionary in Self's Cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

The Oxford English Dictionary in Self’s Cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

(3) The Banff Writing Studio (April/May 2015) brought together 24 poets and prose writers for several weeks: This was the official portrait, self’s picture of a picture. Since she was the shortest writer in the program, she was in the front row (in pink and red). The writers were brought to Banff to work on book-length projects. When she arrived in Banff, she had 60 not-so-good pages of her novel-in-progress. When she left, she had 100 pages. Today, she got her manuscript up to 166 pages! Amazesauce!!!

2015 Banff Writing Studio Official Portrait: a picture of a picture, BLURRED!

2015 Banff Writing Studio Official Portrait: a picture of a picture, BLURRED!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 3rd Monday of August 2015

Step one, you say, We need to talk.
He walks, you say, Sit down,
It’s just a talk.
He smiles politely back at you,
You stare politely right on through.
Some sort of window to your right.
He goes left and you stay right.

— The Fray, “How To Save a Life”

Self loves these lyrics. They are so, so — insouciant? Nonchalant? Diffident? What?

Dare self say — American?

That’s an entire flash fiction. Right there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 3rd Sunday of August 2015

Listening to The Fray, which in self’s mind will always conjure memories of San Luis Obispo, California.

Because that is where self first heard their songs.

I found God on the corner of First and Amistad
Where the west was all but won.
All alone, smoking his cigarette.
I said, “Where you been?”
He said, “Ask anything.”

— The Fray, “You Found Me”

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