Elemental 2: The New Bay Bridge

Crossing over after a writers group meeting in Alameda. It was a typical foggy summer evening in San Francisco. Traffic was heavy on the approach, but thinned out on the bridge itself, typical for a late Sunday afternoon.

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Good old San Francisco has so many problems. Hardly even works as a city. But views are great.

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The City is best seen during fog. Just self’s humble opinion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: Laura Jean Baker

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Moon Over Park Avenue, New York, May 2016

Human Weather (an excerpt)

by Laura Jean Baker

August made a habit: warming our bodies
to the point of sacred.
On Dog Star days for twenty years
we loved to our dew point,
honeyed our moon,
and kneaded our bodies
into the wholesome shape of babies.
Girl-boy-girl
slid into the not-yet warmth
of every other May.

Better late than incomplete,
we made our last
between Autumn sheets; a boy named Frank,
he’d skid across the cusp of June and July.

The poem originally appeared in Calyx, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women, summer 2012.

About Laura Jean Baker: she earned her MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry, fiction, and memoir have been published in The Gettysburg Review, Connecticut Review, Cream City Review, Third Coast, Confrontation, and War, Literature, & the Arts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Verge on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: “Stormborn”

Self had to sign up for Amazon Prime solely in order to be able to watch Game of Thrones Season 7. She got the first week of HBO free, but now she’s being charged $14.99/month. It’s all good because if she weren’t able to watch GoT Season 7, especially now with confirmation that Gendry would be returning (At last! My Gendry is in the House! Gendry is back, people!), she would just die.

Under the foolish assumption that having HBO deliver the show directly to her feed means she can watch Episode 3 about 12 hours ahead of anyone else, she keeps checking her Amazon link to make sure it is “good” and that the signal is strong. As of right now, there is nada.

So, here she is, all lonesome and frustrated and wondering how she is going to fill the next 12 hours. And then she stumbles on The Verge. Wow, whoever writes the show re-caps is so on point!

There’s this:

We’re back in King’s Landing before you can say “the feature-film debut of pop sensation Britney Spears,” and it seems to me like we could have just stayed here and held off on the 90-second greyscale explainer video until later, but it’s not my show. Cersei and Qyburn take a stroll through the Red Keep’s basement collection of skulls, where he unveils his dragon-slaying plan: a sinister-looking mechanical crossbow loaded with an enormous spear, which he claims “the finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing” have been working on for months.”

  • Wait a minute: Did Qyburn actually use the words “finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing?” Or did he just say “finest blacksmiths”? Because there is a difference. At this point, any mention of the word “blacksmith” has self going waaaay waaaay back in time, to Seasons 2 and 3. Because reasons. Anyhoo, end of digression.

I don’t know, I mean, it’s just a crossbow loaded with a spear. It looks to be only about 1.5 times larger than the one Joffrey was using to pick off prostitutes six years ago. But it successfully shoots a centuries-old dragon skull that is sitting perfectly still . . .  on the ground . . . about 15 feet away. Oh baby, here is a foolproof plan if I ever saw one. And artisanal!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SATISFACTION: Best of Self’s 2017

  • Share a photo of something that brings you satisfaction. It can be monumental, minor, or something in between.

Jen H., The Daily Post

For this post, self decided to kill two birds with one stone. She’ll look back at her fondest memories of 2017 (thus far) — the moments that gave her the most satisfaction.

 

Going to the Globe and seeing Tristan and Yseult; sorting through old photographs of Dearest Mum; seeing the Eiffel Tower up close; reading her story First Causes at Sixth Engine in Washington, DC; watching Mayerling at the Royal Albert Hall; visiting Cork; Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

For The Daily Post Photo Challenge COLLAGE: July 2017, So Vivid

Everything Summer 2017:

 

 

  • Discovered an old stash of photographs of Dearest Mum in her younger days.
  • Explored the inside of son’s closet in 2431 Hopkins Ave., Redwood City.
  • Rediscovered one of self’s most treasured books.
  • Had dinner with Jennie, son’s fiancée, at Himalayan Café in Old Town Pasadena.
  • Found artwork by son (when he was in grade school).
  • Got a Birthday present (for self) from son and Jennie: Nude Awakening (Self is so WOKE!).
  • Amused by a giant stag at the end of a driveway in the Pasadena hills.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

BARBARIAN DAYS: Sri Lanka

This memoir is like Jack Kerouac, but much much more enthralling. The author and his buddy, Bryan, go all around the world, living hand-to-mouth, and experiencing culture from the bottom. Only young Americans would be so laissez faire.

But, enough of digressions. Below, an excerpt from p. 289:

We pushed on, always edging west. We caught a ship from Malaysia to India, sleeping on the deck. We rented a little house in the jungle in southwest Sri Lanka, paying twenty-nine dollars a month . . .  I resumed work on my novel. We got Chinese bicycles, and each morning I rode mine, board under arm, down a trail to the beach, where a decent wave broke most days. We had no electricity and drew our water from a well. Monkeys stole unguarded fruit . . .  A madwoman lived across the way. She roared and howled day and night. The insects — mosquitoes, ants, centipedes, flies — were relentless.

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Night descends on a Philippine Sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading BARBARIAN DAYS, p. 227

My fears were unnecessary. Nothing too heavy came. Instead, I caught and rode so many waves, through four or five distinct phases of the day, that I felt absolutely saturated with good fortune . . .

— William Finnegan, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

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Albion, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from the Novel-in-Progress

Excerpt from a letter Matias writes to his Superior in Madrid, dated the 29th of October, 1757:

Your Reverence,

The ship lumbered forward, like a mighty beast. Finally, we sailed into a beautiful natural harbor. I was eager to be down the gangplank and standing on the pier. The Archbishop of Manila sent his carriage to fetch me to his residence, which sits directly behind the magnificent Augustinian church. The Archbishop has informed me that there are representatives of many religious orders within the walls of the Old City: There are Franciscans, Dominicans, Recollects, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, as well as the Society of Jesus. In other words, within this very small city, there are enough priests and nuns to tend to the souls of the natives in the most meticulous fashion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More BARBARIAN DAYS: In the South Pacific

The cast of characters in William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is very New Age-y hippie. It’s been a long while since self has encountered one of these, which means San Francisco has really changed.

Anyhoo, Finnegan and a friend go bouncing all over the South Pacific, searching for good waves. And they have very, very interesting encounters.

With an American missionary who is also a surfer. With locals who take an “anthropological interest” in the author and his traveling companion, Bryan. Finnegan and his friend are so obsessed that when they find a good surfing spot, in Tonga, they surf every day.

Surfing seems magical when you’re just watching. Here’s the reality:

  • My hands and feet were a salad russe of coral cuts, and Bryan had a large, raw scrape on his back, the dressing on which I changed twice a day.

There’s a type of pairing I’ve seen on Boracay:

  • One of Parker’s oil field managers was a big, thick-spectacled Texan named Gene. He had a face like a turkey wattle, a scary smoker’s voice and a local girlfriend who was seventeen. Gene was pushing sixty. His girlfriend was a knockout but not happy. I overheard her telling the wife of a Parker executive that she was a half-Fijian orphan, and therefore a social outcast in homogeneous Tonga. She had turned to prostitution, she said. She was now desperate to get away from Gene. “Help me! Help me!” she pleaded.

As for the king of Tonga, Tupou IV: “He was an absolute monarch who weighed, reportedly, 440 pounds.”

Fascinating stuff.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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