Self’s Most Memorable Drive

The most memorable drive of self’s life took place last Saturday night, while self was ferrying Dearest Mum from Redwood City to San Jose (the Fairmont) for a dinner with Noynoy of the Philippines and entourage.

Notwithstanding that Dearest Mum arrived like a whirlwind, just as self was changing to a presentable outfit.  Notwithstanding that, in 10 minutes at self’s house, Dearest Mum had:

  • gotten hubby to iron her evening clothes for her;
  • dumped a shopping bag of stretch pants for self (newest acquisitions from Nordstrom’s Rack);
  • and changed into a wondrous glowing orange outfit, then asked self what she thought of her shell and macramé belt (“Does this look Filipino enough?”) and her new metallic shoes.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the most memorable drive of self’s entire life happened just five minutes later, when self discovered that:

  • The white Honda Civic Dearest Mum had been using, the past several days, was actually the car of her nephew who had just graduated from Santa Clara University.
  • The airconditioner wasn’t working, so self had to roll down her car windows, and Dearest Mum complained because she had just been to the parlor and paid $40 for a shampoo and blow-dry, which according to her was the most she had ever spent for the procedure, ever
  • When self attempted to shield Dearest Mum from the wind by rolling up her car windows, she nearly fell prey to heat exhaustion:  rivulets of perspiration began flowing copiously down self’s neck.  She threw a sidelong glance at Dearest Mum and saw her applying make-up and this nearly caused self to swerve into the next lane.
  • Nephew’s car windows, when rolled up, emit a disconcerting BANG!  (as if an engine were backfiring somewhere), and self, the first time she heard it, screamed WHAT WAS THAT?  And Dearest Mum yelled, That is nothing!  Don’t complain about things you can’t change!  Just hurry up and drive!!!

Self could hardly focus, just imagining Dearest Mum tooling around with blow-dried hair in a car with no air-conditioner, on what felt like absolutely the hottest day of the year.  And, furthermore, self was not invited to the dinner, so there was nothing in it for her.

Nevertheless, that was a memorable experience.  One of many memorable experiences that self will now store in the great filing cabinet of her brain, for possible future use in a short story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sooo Hawwtt Today in Redwood City!

It is so so haaawwtt today.

So much hotter than it was in New York.

Self is going crazy with the watering, for apparently hubby was so transfixed by football that he neglected to water, not even once.

Furthermore, Gracie is lame.

“What’s wrong with her leg?” self inquired as soon as she arrived.

“Nothing,” hubby said.  “She’s fine.”

The poor li’l crit doesn’t seem to be in pain, but she is definitely favoring her left front leg, and holding her right paw gingerly in the air.

Today, hubby is transfixed by Stanford vs. Notre Dame.  It’s the third quarter, and Stanford is leading by 10 points.  The Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck, is so good.  Self inquires if hubby would be interested in catching a home game at Stanford.  Hubby then cries, “Nooo!!!  It’s too hoot!”  He’s probably right, they have been at other games at Stanford, and the un-shaded seats are sweltering.  But she’s always wanted to get a tan!  Self knows she looks better with a tan, as witness all those photographs of herself taken in Boracay, Bohol, etc etc etc

In a little while, Dearest Mum will arrive in her rented car (if she doesn’t hit anything first).  Self doesn’t think Dearest Mum should be permitted onto any freeway.  Niece G said that, Thursday night, when they were heading to Redwood City, cars were honking at Dearest Mum.  Anyhoo, the plan for this evening is that Dearest Mum has been invited by Dear Sister-in-Law to attend a dinner at the Fairmont in San Jose, in honor of the Philippine president Noynoy.  But she doesn’t trust herself to drive that distance, so she is stopping off at Redwood City first so that self can take over the driving.  But, once at the Fairmont, Dearest Mum emphasizes that self is not invited to the dinner.  The tickets were issued very far in advance.  Self texts her sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law confirms that, indeed, there are no more tickets to this fabulous dinner.

That’s OK.  Self is sure she’d fall asleep listening to Noynoy.  Thing is, she has to hang around there because Dearest Mum says she wants self to be ready to drive her home.  Self thought it would be so nice if hubby came too, then she would have company while waiting for Dearest Mum.

“We could have a drink at the Fairmont,” self suggests tentatively.

“Are you kidding?” hubby bursts forth.  “Drinks at the Fairmont are expensive!  At least $8 each!”

Self wonders how hubby has come by this information, as to her knowledge he has never taken her there.

Anyhoo, if self has to wait for Dearest Mum while she attends this fabulous dinner, she’ll be damned if she waits in the car.  She darn well will go and have a drink.  In fact, many drinks!  $8 apiece or no!  That way, when Dearest Mum finally emerges from the fabulous dinner, and is ready to be driven home, self will be in trés happy mood!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Night

Niece G was with Dearest Mum.  Hubby and self were heading home from the Airport (Got in at 7:20 p.m.  Virgin America is a really “fun” airline!  Self loved the Filipino stewardess, all bubbly smiles.  For $2, she got a bright pink set of earphones, and ended up watching multiple episodes of “Two and a Half Men”) when she got the text:  Hurry!  We’re in Redwood City!  It’s scaaary driving with Dearest Mum!

So we met up and went to City Pub and had dinner of fried calamari and pub burger and steak burger and tried the beer sampler and the waiter was very nice and we had a very good time and we dropped niece G back in the City because she has to teach tomorrow and then we went home and self fell asleep at past 1 a.m. (which, she just realized, was 4 a.m. in NYC)

Before she went to sleep, she saw two dead potted plants and took them inside and soaked them with water and counted eight snails nestled among its stems and went on a rampage of sorts, picking them off, even the tiniest itty bittiest baby snail, with some wadded up tissue.

Then the li’l crits set up their whining at 6:30 a.m.  Gracie seems to have lost a little weight.  Hubby maintains that self was feeding her too much, so he halved her food.  And apparently, aside from whining piteously at 6:30 a.m. and eating her own crap, she is none the worse for wear.  Bella is per usual:  indifferent to the world, except when it comes to her walks.

The weather was cooler than when she left, and the Bougainvillea Purple Queen had undergone some kind of transformation:  before self left for New York, it was all stems and nothing growing.  Now, it is absolutely bursting with leaf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Difficulties Today: Hottest Day (So Far) of 2010

With no warning, the Bay Area experiences the two hottest days of the year.  Last night, self listened to newscast after newscast, all announcing with utmost awe:  “This was the hottest day of the year!”  Funny, just the weekend previous, self went shopping for plants, and all the nursery people she encountered complained how “short” and “cool” the summer was.  Nowhere did self encounter a person who said, “We are going to have the two most sweltering days of the year —  starting tomorrow!”

Result:  all the plants self put in the ground yesterday got fried.  Fried.  Leaves as crisp as Calbee shrimp chips.  She wouldn’t even pay 25 cents for those plants, let alone $4.50 each!  Self ended up doing strategic re-positioning.  She looked at her front yard, and noticed that the late afternoon sun was akin to the Sahara.  And the front yard was baking.  Even the trees offered no relief, for the late afternoon sun comes in at a slant (of course).  So then self ended up digging new planting holes, in spots more protected from the sun.  And she was so obssessed that she only noticed after she had set to work that she was wearing white jeans.

Self has six pairs of white jeans in her closet, none of which she has bought herself.  All of them are from Loehman’s, courtesy of Dearest Mum.  Hence, the cavalier treatment.  One of them may even be Dolce & Gabbana.

Nevertheless.  Self succeeded in moving her plants.

Now, she only has one thing to do by tomorrow.  And that is write her book review of Ilustrado.

She of course has to prepare dinner (Oh, please let hubby come home late!  As late as possible!).  She sat down for a brief respite, and heard on the news that the economy was going to get worse.  Much worse.  In fact, the housing market is going down, down, dooown.  So she called her Stanford Retirement Plan advisor, and he said:  “Don’t you know that if you want rock-solid investments, you can pretty much expect 0 interest?  Didn’t you know that?”

All self wanted to know was why she has less in her plan now than she did in 2003.  Is that such an unreasonable question, dear blog readers?  She was about to tell her advisor to move everything to a bond fund, and then her phone went “Beep!  Beep!”  And the battery went dead.  The last thing she heard him saying was, “If you’ll just hold on a minute —  ”

Bzzz!  Fried.

It is so hot that Bella, self’s older beagle, hasn’t eaten for two days.  She is, however, still alive, bushy-tailed, and alert.  Which is more self can say of herself.

On lighter note, reports today that Catherine Keener kept Keanu Reeves waiting for half an hour in some New York locale.  Result:  he was cornered by a fan who asked him to pose for a picture and then spent the next moments frantically e-mailing the pic to the internet universe.  Self only knows that if that had happened to her —

Self, the sun has fried your brain!  You are not, self repeats N*O*T Keanu Reeves!  So no need to worry about the “What if” of such a situation ever happening to you!  You may stand around, for as much as an hour, and the most you will ever get is a suspicious glance from a security guard!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Friday the 13th (of August 2010): Watched Men in Suits, Climbing the Walls Like Spiders

Oh dear blog readers, it is again so hot. So so hot that, even if self had wanted to (which she doesn’t), she couldn’t walk the two li’l crits.

Self has just returned from watching “Inception” for the 2nd time.  Downtown Redwood City Century 20 Theater was half full (not bad!)  Scanning the crowd quickly (as self always likes to do), she saw  lone men, and the occasional (middle-aged) couple. During the movie itself,  some people (men, for the most part) were even leaning forward in their seats.

Self likes studying crowd reactions.  Must be a result of all those times watching movies with Dear Departed Dad, and witnessing his responses (like when he clapped at the end of “Platoon”)  When self saw “Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2,” the one with Jessica Biehl, the theater was packed.  Self remembers not being able to raise her eyes during some scenes.  She knew she wasn’t just being wimpy because when she glanced around her, the rest of the teen-agers in her row, and this includes males as well as females, also had their eyes lowered —  BWAH.  HA.  HAAAA!

Tom Hardy is still adorable. Same goes for Leo. Ellen Page is growing on self.  She thinks it helps that Ellen is shorter than Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Are Joseph Gordon Levitt’s eyes green or brown? Whatever, they are nice.

Self decided to sprinkle some jalapeño peppers on top of the cheese dip for her nachos. Yuumm!

Best scene: men in suits, clambering around walls like spiders (Just try telling self that Chris Nolan wasn’t influenced by Agent What’s-His-Face in “The Matrix.” Just try and tell self!)

  • Cillian Murphy’s face is all cheekbones. He and Pete Poslethwaite (who plays his Dad) have similarly prominent cheekbones, so apart from the fact that both can act, this is a very nice bit of casting.
  • Self loves Tom Hardy’s semi-growl. Let’s have more movies where Tom Hardy has to growl!
  • Another nice bit of casting is Marion Cotillard vs. Ellen Page. One is all curves and sultry (semi-deranged, it turns out) looks. The other is Ariadne, who is supposed to be a Plain Jane Genius Dream Architect, who is not all that plain (at least, Ellen Page isn’t), who also happens to save Leo’s life! While Marion is “Mal” (Dum-dee-dum, what a name!) who seeks to destroy it!
  • Self loves the ballets where everyone asleep in the van has to move their arms in sync. In fact, self loves all the riding-around-in-a-van scenes.

This time, self paid particular attention to the closing seconds, as she wanted to know what made the young man sitting next to her gasp. Since self presumes everyone who was going to see this movie has already seen it, she feels she can safely discuss.  But, anyhoo, Netiquette compels self to announce:


It had to do with Mal’s “token,” the little spinning thing. Leo sets it on the table just before he goes toward his kids. He sees their faces at last! That’s a good sign! Then the camera goes back to the table: the thing is still spinning. Oh no!  Does that mean —  does that mean Leo is (gasp) still in a dream ??? But, no, isn’t it starting to wobble, just a teensy bit!

Aaargh, she hates that the movie ends without the audience knowing for sure!

Tomorrow, bright and early, self drives down to San Luis Obispo. It’s been over a year. She hopes she can get a good night’s sleep. She contemplated bringing the younger beagle with her in the car, but didn’t know if the car rental company had a regulation against bringing animals.

Self is about a third of the way through Ilustrado.  It is a pretty fun read!  Especially the parts set in Bacolod.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The House Is Too Quiet

The house is too quiet when self returns from purchasing today’s Wall Street Journal and a six-pack of Negra Modelo beer from Whole Foods. The first thing she does, after opening a beer, is turn on the TV.   Here are some things she picked up from the 5 pm ABC World News:

A third of U.S. soldiers are on prescription drugs. 80% of suicides by U.S. soldiers occur on American soil. The U.S. Army now tends to attract those with “risk-taking” personalities (This was immediately followed by a clip from the documentary “Restrepo”).

The piece was reported by Martha Raddatz.  (Incidentally, on p. 1 of the Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined “Drug Use, Poor Discipline Afflict Afghanistan’s Army,” there is this:  “…  four Afghan soldiers leaned back on some idle farm equipment and lit up a joint in full view of U. S. troops and an American reporter.”)

It has not escaped self’s notice that, for the last several weeks, her next-door neighbor and the one across the street have been erecting six-foot wooden fences around their property. Now, it seems, both fences are finished: there are no more workmen about, and self, for the first time in 20 years, cannot peek into her neighbor’s living room windows. The wooden fences present blank, inscrutable faces to her. And the neighbors, too, are inscrutable, behind their new wooden barriers.

The Negra Modelo is a writing aid. Writing a novel is such a bear. Totally different from writing a short story. Short stories are fun! She gets to the end before she loses track of the beginning. Now, she has over a hundred pages of the putative novel, and today, when self started reading from the beginning, she found that some characters switched names twice, even three times!

Self totally missed Obama on “The View” this morning. Instead, she was on a talk show featuring Oprah regular Bob Greene (Could it have been Rachael Ray?). She also, later in the day, watched “View From the Bay” and found that the guest was a former colleague at Foothill, Michele Bigley! Oh! She has written a travel book! About travelling on the cheap, with kids! She was always bubbly. Now self learns that her child is three years old. Best of luck on your book tour, Michelle!

Today’s afternoon hide-out (to escape from boiling heat of self’s tiny abode) was the Atherton Library. This is housed in a teensy little cottage, surrounded by tremendous old trees. It is so quiet that when self walked in, banging the entrance door harder than she’d intended, everyone looked up.

The library’s usual patrons are middle-aged or senior citizens, and today was no exception. After checking out her book — Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man — self settled down on a couch and began to peruse the items on the coffee table in front of her: Aside from several copies of AARP’s journal, she found many copies of The Hollywood Reporter (!!!). Self picked up the latest issue (26 July 2010) and read there all about Viacom’s octogenarian Chairman, Sumner Redstone, and his seeming fascination with an MTV reality show called “Electric Barbarella.” Also, a Comic-Con wrap-up, which featured a photo of the entire cast of Marvel’s only-just-begun-shooting “The Avengers” (Yup, indeed there is a picture of Mark Ruffalo, who has replaced Ed Norton as “The Hulk.” And there is Jeremy Renner, who self just found out will play Hawkeye). Also, something about this fall’s upcoming new show, “Hawaii Five-O,” which will include Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park (previously Boomer on “Battlestar Galactica” — YAY!).

So, having caught up on all her Hollywood reading for the day (Thanks much, Atherton Library! Though your air-conditioner seemed to be non-functional today), self wends her way home to await whatever bad news there is in her mailbox and in her e-mail.

Stay tuned.

Some News of the Day (Fourth Friday of July 2010)

Will it be warm? Will it be cool?

Last night, the weatherman said to expect “a cooling trend.” But today, during a brief weather broadcast in the middle of “The View,” the weather girl said “Expect more summer heat!” !!@@

Here’s what self does on the really hot days:   She drags buckets of water around her garden, she wrings her hands.  She drags buckets of water around her garden, she wrings her hands.

(Self, why can you not seize the initiative and see a movie?  At least, then, one can deliver crisp bon mots about one’s fellow movie-goers, and one can make smart quips about the action unfolding on the screen.  Alas, there’s nothing self really wants to see:  “Inception” sort of spoiled her erstwhile desire to see “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” or “Despicable Me.”  But, once again, self digresses)

Facebook is a fascinating place. Self must admit, her interest in it is somewhat cyclical. Today, she happens to be engaged by the following:

  • Gemma stayed up all night reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
  • Aimee took her dog for anal gland secretion.
  • Liza is at Comic-Con (Lucky Thing! Rrraaawrr!)

Not on Facebook, but interesting nonetheless, was message from the folks in charge of the annual Filipino American Pistahan Parade in San Francisco: They are still taking nominations for Honorary Parade Marshal. Here are the criteria: Must be Filipino American. Must reside in Northern California. And must be willing to participate in the parade on Saturday, Aug. 14.

Self recalls that a number of years ago, when Going Home to a Landscape was published, the parade organizers invited self and Virginia Cerenio to participate in the parade. Unfortunately, self was in Manila.  But Virginia was in the Parade! So cool!

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, Kyi informs self that Charles Jensen has resigned as Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. !!@@## He was the one responsible for bringing self over to read, last February. And the theater was packed (Not for self, silly: for the band that played after the reading) Self even taught a workshop on memoir. It was so interesting to meet people from that side of the country. And Charles seemed very young, very energetic, very forward-looking. Oh, woe!

Other odds and ends in self’s brain at the moment:

  • Is Sandra Bullock really getting back with Jesse James??!!@@
  • And, will self ever be able to get a live person on the phone at United today?  She knows they had that unfortunate incident with the very bumpy plane landing and passengers cracking their heads on the cabin ceiling, but she’s been hanging on for 20 minutes now, just so she can switch her ticket from London to Hong Kong, and it is just impossible to get anyone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Inception” : To See Or Not to See

    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer through another Sunday in self’s boiling hot cottage, or to go to downtown Century 20 and suffer through another mindless thriller …

— Kanlaon doing a bad paraphrase of Shakespeare

Self was excited when she first saw the trailers for “Inception” because, well — Leo is still hot! And the trailers were all Leo (well, maybe a minute of Ellen Page), all the time!

Then, she read terrible review on and decided no, she would not see it.

Then she read a review on “clothesonfilm” and still didn’t get excited (though those pictures of Joseph Gordon-Levitt were trés cool!)

Then she read a review on and — OK! She’ll see it, she’ll see it!

Partly because Eric brings up the fact that he became a Christopher Nolan fan, not because of the “Dark Knight” movies, but because of “Memento” (also one of self’s all-time faves)

And then, and then — self stumbled on this interview on Cinematical with Tom Hardy (who was Heathcliff in a recent TV version of “Wuthering Heights” which had self all swooning, like Cathy! If only there were moors around Redwood City!), and —  does not Tom Hardy look like Keanu Reeves, dear blog readers? Just take a look at this pose @@##!!  HOLY BUCKETFUL OF HOTNESS! It took all her self control not to run to the movie theater forthwith!

Stay tuned.

Very Very Very Very Hot Friday

Before self begins her usual list of the things she did today, self would just like to point out, for edification of dear blog readers, that it is very very very hawwwttt. Which is the only reason, swear to God, that self consented to go with hubby to the Menlo Park Guild to see “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (Hubby took the day off)

Because self’s tiny little cottage (not air-conditioned) is boiling, boiling. And anyway, the re-broadcast of “Warehouse 13” Season 2 Episode 2 (“Mild Mannered,” with apparently Sean Maher’s only appearance anywhere for the foreseeable future) wasn’t until 5.

Anyhoo, hubby loved “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” It had all the requisite attributes to be Hubby’s Favorite Movie, to wit:

  • Noomi Rapace
  • Noomi Rapace smoking. And smoking. And smoking. And smoking.
  • Noomi Rapace having sex. With another woman. A gorgeous woman. A gorgeous Asian woman (This is spectacular, considering there weren’t that many Asians wandering around the locations the movie was shot in: presumably Sweden)

Self heard somewhere that Carey Mulligan had been cast as Lisbeth Salander in the forthcoming American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” She mentioned this to hubby after the movie, whereupon he got very very exercised.

Well, self thinks Carey Mulligan is short, and that is just right, for she found out from watching “The Girl Who Played with Fire” that Lisbeth Salander is supposed to be five foot, and weigh “88 lbs.”

Afterwards, hubby declared the movie “8 1/2 out of 10.” Whereupon self opined that Noomi Rapace is the spawn of Steve Buscemi + Angelina Jolie.

Oooh, here comes Season 2 Episode 2 of “Warehouse 13”! Do you know, self thinks Sean Maher looks particularly hot in the first coffee shop scene. Never mind those purple spandex tights with the radioactive underwear (referred to as “trunks” in the episode. Articulated thus: “We’ve got to get those trunks off him!”) that endow him with super-hero powers.

Super-endowed trunks! Hoooly fab idea! Who does self have to thank for dreaming up such a thing? Must be a first in science fiction lore! It falls to intrepid Pete to tear them off Dear Simon Tam — Oops! Self means Sheldon (what a name!) The implications of such are simply too mind-boggling.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Foolish Hope

Today self mailed out a new story collection, to the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.

What can she say? Hope springs eternal, right?

Yes, hope springs eternal.

When people say, “You are so prolific!” how should self respond? Honestly, there are times when self just wants to slug them! Like writing one story every two months is so prolific! It took self 14 years between story collections, between Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Mayor of the Roses! This new collection represents twenty months of hard labor! That’s not prolific! That’s masochistic!

Anyhoo, self is keeping her fingers crossed.

(She doesn’t know why, but writing about these attempts on the blog somehow takes the edge off — ? Perhaps it’s the communicative aspect that makes it so therapeutic? That and the fact that she can’t think of anything else to write about today because it is so hawwwttt! Must be 90 degrees!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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