Reading for the Day: DARING GREATLY

Jennie invited self to attend a Women in Business Workshop yesterday on the Claremont campus (Self doesn’t know why, but she never noticed before how beautiful the campus is!  Especially Scripps).  Here’s Jennie looking oh-so-prepped in black jacket, purple top, grey tailored pants, and pumps.

Jennie, Yesterday:  Scripps College

Jennie, Yesterday: Scripps College

Anyhoo, the workshop was so very, very interesting.  Every participant got to take home a free book.  There were stacks of choices.  Self picked Doing Greatly:  How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

The Introduction talks about the value of living “wholeheartedly.”  There’s a list of 10 Guideposts for living “wholeheartedly”:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity:  Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Compassion:  Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit:  Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy:  Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivation Intuition and Trusting Faith:  Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity:  Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest:  Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness:  Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work:  Letting Go Self-Doubt and “Supposed to”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance:  Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control

One of the great things about visiting son is that, since he and Jennie are psychology grad students, there is no dearth of reading materials that address various subjects having to do with self, the psyche, etc.  The speaker yesterday, Michelle Bauman, is a Personal/Business Coach.  She talked about how most people’s mindsets lie on a continuum between “fixed” and “growth,” and how the proportion between one or the other changes as we learn from experience.

They served lunch.  Ohh, the mango and coconut mousse was so great.

Seated next to self was a striking woman who introduced herself as “Music Watson.”  Self couldn’t resist asking her where she got her first name.  Her response:  “My parents were hippies.” Self asked if that meant they liked Carole King and James Taylor.  She said, “More like The Doors.”

Yesterday, in the milling around between panels, a student named Yael, who self guessed (correctly) was from Tel Aviv, and was a grad student in Information Systems, came over and introduced herself.  Then another student came up.  Self thinks this is because they assumed she was a Claremont professor.  Self was wearing black pants, a black jacket, grey pumps, black stockings, and a beige top.  I guess no one could be blamed for thinking she was a professor!  She bought the clothes special for the trip, when Jennie told her the attire for the Women in Business event was “business casual.”  A saleswoman in Anne Taylor Loft on Santana Row brought out the grey pumps, on sale for $19.95!  Self used her own black jacket, but she did buy the black pants which —  she didn’t notice until yesterday — had zippers down the calfs.  Cool!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

An Unusual POV 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The vaporetto stop on Ca' San Toma, early morning

The vaporetto stop on Ca’ San Toma, early morning, May 2013

San Marco Cathedral, early morning.  Self was waiting for the rest of her tour group to arrive.

San Marco Cathedral, early morning. Self was waiting for the rest of her tour group to arrive.

The Lion of Venice in San Marco Square, April 2013

The Lion of Venice in San Marco Square, April 2013 (That appears to be a pigeon resting on the lion’s head.  Self just noticed it a few minutes ago!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea 2

What kind of emotions does the sea or ocean make you feel?  Do you remember the first time you went in the water?

— The Daily Post Photo Challenge Prompt for the Week

*    *     *     *

When self posted her first set of pictures on the theme of “Sea,” she forgot to address what emotions she felt while at the shore.  Because for sure she felt many intense emotions — the sea always conjures them.

She explained to someone who left a comment on her first “Sea” post that the archipelago she referred to in the post was the Philippines, which is said to have 7,100 islands.

The sea or the idea of it permeates all of self’s writings.  For instance, here’s an excerpt from her “Don Alfredo & Jose Rizal,” which she first began to write almost 10 years ago, and which Sou’wester published in 2007:

George Dewey.  I would always think of him in connection with the man who had invented the Dewey decimal system, but this was not that man.  This Dewey was an Admiral, an adventurer with dreams of empire, who entered Manila Bay on 1898 on a great American battleship, guns pointing at the crumbling embankment of Manila’s old city, Intramuros.

I suddenly pictured the blue water of the bay, the panic of the few Spanish soldiers watching on the gray stone battlements.

The residents of the city would be sleeping, peaceful.  Their breath rising in stagnant clouds over their heads as they slept beneath the mosquito nets draped over their mahogany four-posters.  The dogs would be sniffing in the lanes, the pigs rooting in the backyards.  Roosters would be crowing from various parts of the slumbering city.

Six o’clock in the morning but already the day would be hot, the sun’s heat falling like shards on the still-empty streets.

And now, back to the WordPress Photo Challenge.

A private piece of the wonder that is the island of Siquijor

A private piece of the wonder that is the island of Siquijor

Self has said it before, and she'll say it again now:  Nothing is as beautiful as a Philippine sea.

Self has said it before, and she’ll say it again now: Nothing is as beautiful as a Philippine sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background 4

Venice, April 2013:  A mysterious courtyard

Venice, April 2013: A mysterious courtyard

Not sure if this photograph qualifies for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge Theme:  In the Background.

You decide, dear blog readers.

Here’s the WordPress prompt :

In the Background

The places that we pass through day after day, or even once in a lifetime, leave in their small way, echoes and traces of themselves upon us.  But so often when taking self portraits or pictures of friends, the places themselves become a soft blurred mush of indistinct semi-nothingness, the limelight stolen by our smiling faces.  In today’s challenge, let’s turn the tables.  Take a picture of yourself or someone else as a shadow, a reflection, or a lesser part of a scene, making the background or . . .  the foreground the center of attention.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Possibly A Site For Future Wanderings

Half of the time —  no, make that 75 % of the time —  self lives in the future.

That future is not always a bright and rosy picture.

But, self reflects, it is better to have a future, any future, rather than the alternative.  Isn’t that so, dear blog readers?

This morning, self is in a reflective mood, having capped off a wonderful weekend of movies:  three from CAAMFest and one in Palo Alto’s Aquarius (“Emperor” —  five stars!  And what a performance by Matthew Fox!)

For some reason, one of the things she took away from the festival was a mention of a bed-and-breakfast in Vigan.

Self has never been to Vigan, never.  Not even once.  Though she knows her sister’s kids were taken there, one summer several years ago.

She decides she might as well try going on her own.  She looks up the inn, and came up with this.

What is the meaning, self wonders, of the houses in garish blue and yellow paint?  Perhaps blue and yellow signify good luck?  Or perhaps those are the province’s national colors?  Or perhaps people just think blue and yellow are cool?

Which reminds self of the time the Colonel took her from Bir to Amritsar.  The car played only Elvis music because Pratibha, the Colonel’s wife, is a great aficionado of Elvis songs.  So we entered Punjab (to the tune of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree”) and there, for the first time in India, self saw turbans.  Many, many turbans.  It was amazing, there was no warning that we had left Himachal Pradesh.  There were simply, suddenly, everywhere, men in turbans.  And not just any turbans.  Turbans in all colors of the rainbow:  pink, yellow, green, you name it.  And some of these turbans had printed designs, like flowers and stripes.  Self asked the Colonel whether the colors had any significance, and the Colonel replied, “It is a matter of personal taste.  Some people like the color yellow, others like the color pink, and so on.”


How fabulous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self’s de Chirico Moment

SFMOMA: View From 4th Floor Walkway to the Roof Garden and Blue Bottle Café

SFMOMA: View From 4th Floor Walkway to the Roof Garden and Blue Bottle Café

Self loves Giorgio de Chirico. Loooves him. There was a de Chirico in the SFMOMA yesterday.  It was years and years since she’d seen one up close.  It was a relatively small painting but, the minute self caught a glimpse of it across the gallery, she knew it was one of his.

Lo and behold, it was mid-afternoon, and walking around the galleries had made self exceedingly thirsty.  So she told The Man she would get a drink at the Blue Bottle Café on the 4th floor.  And on the way there, she looked out the large, plate-glass windows on her left, and saw square buildings and long, rectangular windows and thought:  de Chirico!

Another set of Windows Glimpsed at the SFMOMA!  Self absolutely loves windows!

Another set of Windows Glimpsed at the SFMOMA! Self absolutely loves windows!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Saturday of 2013: At the Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum, Interactive Installation:  Viewers write notes to the person or thing or place they miss, then pin them to the tree.

Asian Art Museum, Interactive Installation: Viewers write notes to the person or thing or place they miss, then pin them to the tree.

Took son and Kramer to the Asian Art Museum today and caught “Out of Character:  Decoding Chinese Calligraphy.”  Also walked from the museum to the Shooting Gallery, and saw “Steppe Warriors:  New Works by Zaya,” which closes today.

Zaya’s paintings were exquisite in their detail and stylization.  Self loved the kinetic depiction of horses and waves.  Self’s favorite of the dozen or so paintings was one depicting the Mongol invasion of Japan.  On the upper right hand corner were a group of Japanese notables, all dressed in sumptuous kimonos, sitting with extreme poker faces as they watched the arrival of the ships bearing the Mongol army.  A few soldiers had already been engaged:  it seemed the Mongol invaders had the upper hand, for armor-clad Japanese soldiers were already shown expiring on the ground.

And here are a few observations about the calligraphy exhibit at the Asian Art Museum:

  • There was one monstrous scroll painting: Self wished there had been more.  She must confess to feeling a wee bit disappointed:  she loves the huge calligraphic “slash-and-burn” hanging scrolls because there is such power and concentration in each gigantic stroke of the brush.
  • Much of the calligraphic artwork on display was on loan from the private collection of Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo.  Self never knew that Yang was born and grew up in Taiwan.  Funny, she always thought of him as an Asian American Stanford kid.
  • There is a behemoth of a book in the gift shop, Five Centuries of Chinese Painting, written by self’s former Stanford professor, Michael Sullivan.

Here are a few notes self scribbled from the (free) audio tour:

  • In calligraphy, the creative act is visible.  This visibility is central to the work.  And it’s also what makes calligraphy such an exciting medium.  The Man said he wished he knew what the characters meant.  Self was so absorbed in imagining the power of the brush stroke and in examining the geometry of the individual characters that she forgot she was looking at representations of language.  Whenever self sees calligraphy, it moves her.  She thinks:  Slash and burn.  Slash and burn.
  • The exhibit included modern artists who had been inspired by calligraphy.  One artist, Brice Marsden, said, “I use the form of calligraphy, and then it disappears.”  Funny, that’s how self begins some of her favorite short shorts.  She begins with the structure —  perhaps from a story or a poem she is currently reading.  As she writes, the model disappears, melts away.  All she is left with are the bones of her story.
  • She’s not sure if it was also Marsden who said:  “The act of creativity existed in the mind before the brush touched the paper.”  That’s right!  That’s how self begins most of her short stories!  She’ll be washing dishes or doing laundry, and then, SHAZZAM!  The first step of writing is in her mind —  usually as she’s doing homely chores.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Now Playing, Saturday, 15 December 2012

Self is offering up tomorrow’s mass for the victims in Connecticut and their families.  It’s too horrible to contemplate.

*     *     *     *     *

The rest of this post is for people who still feel able to go see a movie.  It’s from the capsule reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Flight:  One of the best plane crash sequences in all of film highlights this drama about a gifted pilot, suffering from alcoholism, on a collision course with authorities and his own illness.  —  Mick LaSalle
  • Hitchcock:  This account of Alfred Hitchcock’s making of “Psycho” is brisk and entertaining, and it does right by his wife, Alma Reville, who was an integral part of his creative process. —  Mick LaSalle
  • Killing Them Softly:  Brad Pitt stars as a hit man who has come to town to straighten out a crisis of confidence within a gambling community, in a clever, dramatic and yet often very funny drama with parallels to the 2008 financial crisis. —  Mick LaSalle
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower:  The film depicts the loneliness, anxiety and all-out quivering mess of adolescence in a manner not often seen since John Hughes’ heyday.  — A. Biancolli
  • The Sessions:  Even if it seems like the last thing you’d want to see, you’d probably enjoy it —  and remember it.  —  Mick LaSalle
  • Wreck-it Ralph:  This tribute to arcade gaming is delightfully off the rails, offering a merger of styles and grown-up friendly themes that is reminiscent of Disney’s 1988 homage to noir, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” —  P. Hartlaub

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Saturday Reading (1st of December 2012): The New York Review of Books, Oct. 11, 2012

Self is engaged in the following activities:   a)  trimming clematis henryi, in rather strenuous rain; b) chopping up empty boxes that she’d been storing in her shed “for future use” for at least a decade; c) trolling the web and d) reading the Oct. 11, 2012 issue of The New York Review of Books.

Among the trove of riches contained in this issue of the review, self makes the following discoveries:

  • The Library of America has published a two-volume anthology called American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s, edited by Gary K. Wolfe.  Among the nine are these titles:  The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber; The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett; The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth; More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon; and Who? by Algis Budry.
  • iUniverse took out a large ad, and among the books featured in the ad was this one:  If You’re Gonna Be Stupid, You’ve Gotta Be Tough! by Bob Cole (An excellent piece of advice, which self will take to heart!)
  • Directly beneath that ad is a smaller one by Trofford Publishing, which features this exceedingly interesting book:  Romantic Resumes:  What Graduate School Did For Lovely Young Jane Doe, by Veronica Verity (What a great pseudonym.  That is, if it really is a pseudonym.  A writer can’t really have a last name like “Verity,” can she?  Are there any people in the world with the family name Verity?  Pray tell!)
  • Gary Wills has an excellent review of Through the Eye of a Needle:  Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350 – 550 AD, by Peter Brown (Surely one of the plainest names ever to be sported by a professor anywhere in the world.  Unless there is a professor somewhere with the name John Brown?)  Self is so excited, she immediately decides to add the book to her “To Read” list, until she happens to glance at the number of pages:  759.  Gulp!

Plus, there is an amazingly funny article written by Ian Johnson, on a Chinese writer named Yu Hua, apparently a celebrity in China, who hosted a raucous dinner party with local notables at which Johnson was in attendance.  At the end of the party, “when the wine bottles had been emptied, the prawns sucked dry, and a bottle of grain alcohol lay on its side, the guests staggered out to their government-issue Audi A6L limousines, windows tinted and doors held open by drivers in dark aviator glasses.  Yu saw them off with a wave and then wondered aloud:  Who the fuck are these people?”

And self is not yet done reading!  This issue might take her the rest of the weekend to get through.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Front Porch: Greenery

Oh, what gorgeous weather we in California have been enjoying, this Thanksgiving weekend!

For which self offers up fervent thanks.

In the summer, self decided to fill her empty terra cotta pots with plants (Some of these have been sitting empty for YEARS!)  She bought a wee cell-pack of “King” Coleus from Home Depot. Just look at them now! 

There are years when — out of sheer laziness — self keeps the pumpkins on the front porch until January!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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