Lost In The Story

The previous lawyer had his offices ransacked in March.  Self was here in March; no one told her anything.

What was the object of the search?  Who knows.  Three Bacolod lawyers shared the space, so it could have been any of the three who was the object of the break-in.

She wondered about him because he could never seem to remember what documents of self’s he had in his files.  She paid him well, but he was too busy to return her calls or even to be of much help.  He kept emphasizing how she must enjoy Masskara, as if that were the sole reason for her visit.

The saga continues.

Today, for the first time in weeks, self resumed reading Valerie Trueblood’s collection Marry or Burn.  How she loves these stories, each of the ones she’s read so far.

In the one she’s reading, “Choice in Dreams,” a woman is in love with someone else’s husband.  Mike, the object of her love, appears in her dreams.  One day, Mike drops by unexpectedly:

One day the doorbell rang.  When she opened the door, with the chime still hanging in the air, there he was.  “Come in,” she said after a second.  He walked in unsteadily — nobody knew anymore which caused the gait, illness or liquor —  and sat down at the kitchen table.  He asked if Jeff was there, but of course Jeff was at work, it was daytime.  Like many people who work on their own, like Molly, in fact, even without alcohol Mike often forgot whether it was the weekend or not and where people were who did go to the office.  It wasn’t that he didn’t work hard.  He was always on the track of somebody who could put him on the track of something before his deadline, and his big eyes, too big for a man really, almost in a class with Peter Lorre’s eyes, were always searching down a street or around a room or over the planes of a face.  If it was your face, those eyes were a snare.  They were the famished, dreaming organs you see on posters of ragged children.  They had down-sweeping lashes, black and thick, that acted on Molly the way the forest in a cartoon draws the scared kids in on tiptoe.  Her body followed her eyes, her mind swayed.  She stepped closer.  Even a man —  Jeff, for example, ordinarily a man of few words — would talk more freely, and in a more fervent way, with Mike as his listener.

*     *     *     *     *

Self’s Bacolod family is enormous.  Radiating out from her great-grandfather Basiliso who married a Montero, the only child of a friar, there are 68 registered heirs whose last names consist of:

Villanueva * Lacson * Fermin * Sichon * Varela * Azcona * Gamboa *  Parreño * Abueg * Fuentebella * Salacata

None of these families knew anything about self, nothing at all.  None of them care to know now, either.

“B______ is not an evil person,” she remembers overhearing her Manong Teddy say, March this year.  Like it matters to anyone in Bacolod, what good or evil is.

The only thing that matters in Negros is power.  It’s as simple, as naked, as that.

Like anyone cares that self is a writer.

“You want to have a reading in Daku Balay,” Cousin Elenita asked her once.  It was a fake invitation, as was the one she offered six months later, for $98,000.  “But you have to come in person to receive the check,” Elenita said.  Self declined, recognizing this offer as just another bait, just another temptation dangled before the too-needy, too-hungry California writer, to see how low they could get her to stoop for the filthy lucre.

Listen up, Cuz:  Writers love truth more than money.  That’s what makes them such a subversive force.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Accomplishments: Last Tuesday of October 2012

Amazing, there are crosswalks on Lacson Street.  How is it that self never saw them before?  It took the kind proprietor of Burloloy, a jewelry store on Mayfair (She went there to shop for Christmas presents and other fabulous indulgences.  Cousin Mae introduced her to the designer, Richard, in March), to point them out.

Self was complaining that every time she crosses Lacson Street, she feels as if she is taking her life in her hands. She’s been wanting to go to Burloloy since she first arrived, she told him, but she just never managed the energy to walk to Mayfair.  Richard took her to the sidewalk and pointed.  There, before self’s disbelieving eyes, was a crosswalk.  Wide as all get-out.

Bacolod fries her brains!  Disorders her thinking!  Makes her crave masahe every day!

Today self had a one-hour Swedish massage in Bacolod Spa (Only 250 pesos:  about $6!).

She got rice cakes and turon from the Bacolod Organic Market.

She bought the Negros Daily Bulletin (Front Page Headline:  DRIVE VS ILLEGAL ACTS DOES NOT EXEMPT COPS!) and the Visayan Daily Star.

She finished the Valerie Trueblood story, which she will use to end this post.

And she found out that burloloy = the Tagalog word butingting. 

Richard is a jewelry designer. His fabulous creations can be found in Burloloy, a shop in Mayfair Bldg., on Lacson Street

Anyhoo, self bought this fabulous burloloy for 280 pesos (about $7).  Isn’t it bee-yoo-ti-ful, dear blog readers?  Goes so well with her neon pink blouse!

Richard P designed this fabulous necklace that self wound up buying.

You know, it just feels so right to be buying things like this in Bacolod, when ordinarily the words “bling” + “self” simply do not go together!  Especially back home in good ol’ Redwood City!  Where the most significant outings of self’s day are to the library or to Redwood Nursery!  Lately, the biggest thing on self’s social calendar is a movie at the local Century 20!

The other thing self noticed about herself when she is in Bacolod is that she likes to use her brightest, reddest lip gloss, almost every day.  Sure, Bacolod is a grungy provincial town, not particularly beautiful.  But self feels vibrant when she is there.

Anyhoo, self promised to end with a quote from the Valerie Trueblood story, “Suitors,” and she shall.  MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

What were those big white flowers in the next field?  Where?  There, in the grass.  He threw back his head and laughed.

The laugh, Lali had said, is an attribute of the man, and if you delight in it, go forward.

“Flowers!  Those are calves.”  He was still laughing, bent over with it.  “Herefords.  That’s their white faces.”  The calves were lying down, hidden in the thick grass.

“I’m a vegetarian,” Meg said.

He remembered she had mentioned that.  He had a good recall, it turned out, for everything she had said at that first meeting.  He was ready to change many things, though the difficulty would be in changing himself.  Never mind that, she said.

The next story in the collection is called “Choice in Dreams” and begins:

Molly was hoping to have a dream in which she didn’t disgrace herself, in which she got to be an innocent tourist.

Ooooh, it slays her.  It simply slays her.

Stay tuned.

The Future, II: Reading Valerie Trueblood’s “Suitors”

Last night, having dinner on Sixth Street with her cousins, self discovered that the wife of her Manong Monching was in the iconic Peque Gallaga movie, Oro Plata Mata.  Manong Monching’s wife has a few seconds in the party scene, filmed in the Gaston House in Manapla.

Self nearly faints.  Vicky is so pretty.  She has short hair, like a boy’s, and very fair skin.  She has two gorgeous daughters.

Self thinks about all the books she lugged to Bacolod in her suitcase and girds her loins.  She will make one last attempt to recover her equanimity and read.

This morning, she’s reading a wonderful Valerie Trueblood story, “Suitors,” which is in the collection Marry or BurnThe daughter in the story, Meg, reminds self so much of the placid daughter in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.  But, in contrast with the Coetzee novel, this Valerie Trublood story is about love.  Love which flowers unexpectedly in the hearts of the most ordinary, plain-looking people.

Meg has acquired two suitors through a dating service.  She chooses Kevin.  The “Lali” in the excerpt below is the manager of the dating service Meg used. “Sam” is the narrator’s husband, and Meg’s father.


One day Kevin was standing in front of his high school juniors happily scanning “The Wanderer” when his aorta burst.

In Marfan’s syndrome the aorta can be as weak and decayed as a strand of old kelp, and no one will suspect it.

After he died Meg stopped going to work.  She locked the door on the apartment where they had lived, without even cleaning it, let alone subletting it while there was no salary to pay for it, and came home.  It may sound as though we were the kind of parents who secretly wanted their daughter back, but in this period we came close to telling Meg she might be happier staying with Lali, who had invited her.  Because there was nothing we could do but get up and go through the day with her, while hopelessly trapped in the parental obligation of rescue, with Sam already wandering the house new to his retirement and susceptible to despair.  She had not come home to be with us, though, so much as to be as she had been before, thereby repudiating, even obliterating, the happiness of two years.  Finding this impossible, she mourned with a silent concentration.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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