Virtual Blog Tour: 3rd Introduction

And now, the third of the three people self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour:


Excuse the emo post. Self was introduced to Stella K almost 15 years ago, by the woman self considers her mentor, her icon, her 2nd mother:  Doreen Fernandez, who taught self Freshman English at the Ateneo de Manila, many many many oh too many years to count long ago.  Since that fateful meeting, right here in self’s home in Redwood City, California, she and Stella became friends for life.

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw is a photographer. An A-MA-ZING photographer.  You can find samples of her photography projects here.  And she writes a fantastic food blog on tumblr,  Shoots to Roots.

She was born and raised in Manila.  She earned a BA in Communications from De La Salle University and a BA in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.  Her work has been exhibited at the Singapore International Photography Festival, The Ayala Museum, and the Silverlens Gallery in Manila, Wall Space Gallery in Seattle, Rayko Gallery in San Francisco and at the UCR California Museum of Photography.  Her photographs explore narratives rooted from family, memory and places.  She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

At Some Point, Self Just Knows

There will be no Literature NEA Fellowships for self, unless they dream up a post-humous award.  But for what?

This is self’s 6th or 7th NEA rejection.  She thinks she began applying in 1991, after her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx Press.  There was a period of about a decade when self’s confidence was so low that she didn’t even try.  Then, when Niece G enrolled at Stanford, she urged self to keep applying.  Since Niece G’s forceful intervention, self has applied three times.  At some point, it starts feeling really, really . . .  draining and exhausting and humiliating and all of that.  It’s a bear to master the application program, and of all things, during this last round, she was contacted by an NEA staffer to say that her application was incomplete and she had 24 hours to send in her supporting materials.  What?  She checked and double-checked and made sure she submitted everything well before the deadline.  She began sweating bullets and spent an entire day in a state of high nervous anxiety.

This year’s awardees include eight from California (which self thinks is the most number of fellowships awarded to any state).  The next state with the most number of awardees is New York, with five.

*     *     *     *

No One Story acceptance, after XX tries — this is embarrassing.  Shhhh!

She still loves One Story, and keeps up her subscription.

*     *     *     *

The phone rings:  it’s a 202 area code!  Has self won something?  She picks up.  A computer says:  Do you need dental care?  Did you know that . . . 

Of course self needs dental care!  Her teeth are so bad, she’s still paying her dentist $300/month for some crowns, even though she hasn’t been in to see her dentist in a year.  At this rate, she’ll finally get her “balance owed” down to “0” sometime in the spring of 2014.

Ah well, ah well.

*     *     *     *

Did dear blog readers know that they can obtain one of Stella Kalaw’s fantastic prints through Fraction Magazine, on sale through Dec. 31?

*     *     *     *

What about the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines?  Self decided to look at The Huffington Post.  The most recent post is dated a month ago.  It’s about climate change.  It’s well worth spending a couple of hours reading through each post.  There is a mosaic of perspectives including from the Global Fund for Women in Menlo Park (They donated $500, which is a drop in the bucket, but hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth)

Gerry Ruiz, a photographer who lived in Tacloban, has a Facebook page.  Follow the photographs.  There is a definite arc of hope (not to downplay the extent of the devastation, of course).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Author Photos, and Other Matters of Great Importance

Self received a message from Anvil Press of the Philippines, who published her third collection in 2009 (Don’t worry; you’ve never heard of it):  They owe her royalties of 3,000 pesos (about $73)

Whoopie!!!  Her first set of Anvil royalties!  She feels so, so validated!!!

She also heard, via La Hagedorn, that Anvil is putting out a Philippine edition of Manila Noir, just out Read the rest of this entry »

Last Friday of March (2013): The Garry Winogrand Exhibit at SFMOMA

Ever since Stella K told self about the Garry Winogrand exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, self has ached to go.

She was about to go yesterday, but then she got hung up with gardening.

She went today, though.  What a gorgeous day it was in the City!

On 101, about to take 4th Street exit

On 101, approaching the Seventh Street exit (The exit for SFMOMA is the one following, on Fourth Street)

It will be clear from the above snapshot that self was doing the dangerous thing again:  snapping photos while driving.  But she just couldn’t give up the chance to document the day, the excellent weather, the freeway signs, the San Francisco skyline, and of course the traffic!

The Garry Winogrand exhibit was fascinating.  Thank you for telling self about it, Stella K!  She was fascinated by Winogrand, his “anti-journalistic” stance, his perceptivity about crowds, his alive-ness to facial expressions of people he passed on the street.  On the audio tour, his son is quoted as saying that when Winogrand would take his children on outings, he was constantly taking pictures of people they passed, and so it took a very very long time to get from Point A to Point B.  But Winogrand’s son said that he was so accustomed to his father’s behavior that he regarded it as entirely normal.

As self was leaving the 4th floor, where the Winogrand exhibit was, she decided to snap a picture of the stairs:

Stairs, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Woman Ascending the Stairs in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Afterwards, as self was walking back to the 5th and Mission Garage, she decided to walk through the Metreon.  She would have made it out without damage if she hadn’t been attracted by a colorful sign saying Cako.  When she went up close to investigate, she saw tubs of ice cream!  And she decided to try the vanilla salt with caramel swirls.  She brought her ice cream outside, to the Yerba Buena gardens, and luxuriated in the sunshine and the pigeons. It was such a gorgeous day!  Self reflected that she is so lucky to be alive, and living where she does, with pretty easy access to the gorgeousness of San Francisco.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Story “Thing” (New Orleans Review, Vol. 38.1, 2012) and the Photography of Stella Kalaw

Stella K has a pair of photographs on her site that seem to embody the ineffable.  They’re landscape photographs, but —  it’s hard to tell what’s below the horizon in the first photograph.  Could that be a city?  The ruins of a city?

The second photograph has branches —  sticks, really — rising out of what could be a marsh, a swamp, mist.

Stella’s photographs always lead self to imagine a story.  That must be because, even though self’s medium is language, stories come to her in images, flashes, fragments.

There is something really powerful that happens —  emotionally —  to self when she ponders Stella’s work.

So here’s a story, “Thing,” which is set After the Apocalypse, in Outlier Rehabiliation Center Sector V:

Caesar tells stories late at night if we can’t sleep.  He is old.  Old enough to remember a time when there were factories and pigs were processed night and day, when the smell of pig blood lingered over everything.  He remembers a time when people ate every part of the pigs:  ears, eyes, even entrails.  Pork fat was used in cakes, and in bread.  I try to imagine a cake.

The factories still cry out.  When we hear the keening sound, we know it is the herd of ghost pigs, running into walls and crying because they can never find their way out.  They are inside people’s heads, like the memories of old ways.  And when people’s heads get too full of the memories, the first ones to tumble out are the pigs, running every which way and squealing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Discoveries: Street Photography by Stella K

The latest issue of Fraction Magazine focuses on “Street Photography.”

This is an area dear to self’s heart.  Even in her fiction, self lives for The Moment.  For Discovery of the Unexpected.

She’s known Stella K for a while but only became aware of Stella’s street photography recently.

When Stella K and Tina B showed up two weekends ago to introduce self to the joys of hiking in Edgewood Nature Preserve (Amazing that it took two Emeryville residents to show self the joys of hiking in her very own backyard of Redwood City), Stella happened to mention in passing that her street photographs had been featured in Fraction Magazine.

Stella’s demeanor is very quiet and thoughtful —  even, shall we say, Read the rest of this entry »

CAAMFest Today, Sunday, Mar. 17 (2013)

Self woke up at 10:30 a.m.  Eeeek!  She had to throw on her clothes and dash out of the house.

She grabbed her Googlemaps print-out of the directions to Sundance Kabuki in Japantown.  Only later, much later, did self realize there was one crucial direction that was missing (You know how sometimes your printer gets low on memory, and then either things print out weird or documents fail to print entirely?  Well, that happened today, only self didn’t realize it until she was waaaaay far from Japantown.  Then she had to double back.  Read the rest of this entry »

Follow, Follow, Follow

A week or so from now, self is supposed to sleep in Sequoia Hospital, with electrodes fastened to her scalp, so that doctors could study her REM patterns — all in an effort to diagnose and perhaps treat her insomnia.

But now, self thinks all she needs to do is exercise more.  And stop drinking caffeinated products after lunch.

This morning, Stella and Tina took self for a hike along Edgewood Nature Preserve.  Amazing (Stella and Tina were sooo patient and waited while self paused, every couple of steps, to take pictures; This morning’s hike was probably the slowest in living memory, even though her friends were too polite to say so).


Self (wearing her favorite sweatshirt) and Tina B

Self (wearing her favorite sweatshirt) and Tina B


The landscape did remind her a wee bit of Scotland.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Collaboration: Photograph, Memory

How self loved this project, with Stella K.

She doesn’t think enough people know about it yet, so here’s a link.

The process went something like this:

Stella came to self’s house.

She looked around.

She selected the images that struck her.

She showed self the images, some time later.

Self expressed her response to Stella’s responses in prose.

Neither self nor Stella had done anything like this before, but it was certainly a lot of fun!

Now, looking back on the project, self immediately recognizes her clothing, rendered ghostly by backlighting, and also the dogs (Gracie), gazing solemnly at the photographer with large, watchful eyes.

Isn’t it fun to look at, dear blog readers?  Stay tuned.


“Thing”: Landscape by Stella, Story by Marianne

Plankton wakes me one morning.  Look, he says.

I don’t have to look.  I know because there is a feeling I have that the world is gone.  That where Caesar has been is just space wrapped in hair, skin and bones.

—  from “Thing,” in New Orleans Review, Volume 38.1, 2012

The Stella Kalaw Landscape (like no other)

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