Tuesday, March 30, 2004

My Kingdom For Some Sleep

I cannot go to sleep at a reasonable hour when the spousal unit is gone hopping on a plane-a-day for work stuff. Into bed at 1:30 and up with the kids at 6:30 makes mommy a very crabby girl. I feel like there's cotton stuffed into my head and behind my eyes. Purty.

Last night I was enjoyably sucked into the new PBS documentary The New Americans, which was made by the same team that created the angst-filled, heart-crushing, and lovely Hoop Dreams. In this new one, the filmmakers track different subjects as they leave their homelands and arrive in...ta-da...America, where they promptly discover that, damn, this is hard. I had my knees up to my chin and my Kleenex box at the ready to help with my weepies. Anyhoots, can't wait for the next installment.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Thumb Twiddling

Filipinas asked me to write an essay about Daly City for their "Hometown" column, and I thought no problem and said yes right away.

Now, of course, I who misspent (well, sort of) my youth at the long-gone Westlake Bowl and was a proud, productive, a-bun-on-either-side-of-my-head member of the Daly City Crickets gymnastics team, cannot find a proper way to broach my subject.

I'm being sidetracked by recollections: the horrendous blue and Pepto-Bismol pink walls at Our Lady of Mercy; picking out my first pair of Adidas at Shoe Fair and eating Toto's pizza afterwards (oh, and Shakey's! There was a Shakey's pizza, too!); the 7-11 on 87th St; really, really bad dances in the cafeteria at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School. It's all a bit much.

Just putting it all through the filter, as it 'twere. Don't mind me.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Fountain of Useless Pop Culture Knowledge

I am brilliant in only one respect (well, two if you count the fact that even after eating, let's say, the greasiest hamburger and fries ever made, my lipstick remains intact. It's a gift): my ability to recall and ramble on about useless bits of pop culture past and present. I'm currently wondering about these two things:

1) The Beverly Hills 90210 Reunion Special. What I'm wondering, specifically, is why? Why, instead, is there not a China Beach Reunion Special wherein I could learn all about what became of Brian Wimmer (I know, I know: that's what the Internet is for...), who played Boonie Lanier? Crushes aside, I loved China Beach as much as Gura loved Kung Fu, dammit, and I want my dang Reunion Special.

2)Pimp My Ride. I don't care if it's for teenagers; it's hilarious. Who could not crack a smile after witnessing the pure joy on a nineteen year-old's face when he sees that the trunk of his formerly barely-running car now contains a karaoke machine with a 19-inch screen? It's too freaking cute.

Okay, then. Feeling a little ridiculous at the moment...

Thursday, March 25, 2004

What's That Smell?

Was it the late Michael Hutchence (of INXS fame) who had that horrible condition whereby you have no sense of smell and can therefore not taste (or, I imagine, enjoy) food?

Okay, well I don't have that. But I do have a persistent stuffed-up nose, which I would normally let go without comment (stop yer snickering...) except for that I happen to have a pot of adobo simmering on the stove. My nose is so stuffed up that I cannot smell the adobo. Now that is one helluva stuffed up nose. The bad—or tragic, depending on how badly you feel like eating adobo—part is that it will be nearly impossible for me to adjust the seasonings properly once it's cooked.

But what is worse: 1) not being able to taste adobo or 2) not being able to enjoy the scent of your daughters emerging from their bath, freshly sprinkled with Nenuco? I'd have to go with the latter.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Reasons to Smile

Reason #1. Tix to see the sublime Seal at the Warfield on April 19th.

Reason #2. Aforementioned tickets were free because of capitalism's finest brainstorm ever: American Express Reward Points.

Reason #3. Hair? Freshly cut, freshly highlighted. Don't hate me because I'm...kinda cute.

Reason #4. Two nights in a row Lea has slept straight through 'til 5:30 am (the luxury of this, people, I cannot even begin to explain...), at which time she scales the heights of our bed, climbs over me, says, "Scratch my back, please," and falls back asleep until 7:30.

Friday, March 19, 2004

What Bliss Is This?

Lunch today: four slices extra-crispy fried Spam snuggled between two slices extra-soft crushed wheat bread. Diet Pepsi over crushed ice.

Leave me to it.

What A Tangled Web

I routinely tell my daughters (just the two older ones) that if they do not take their nap, The Green Witch will take them away on her bus, and they will have to live in her Castle of No Love where they will only be allowed to eat the two foods that they so far loathe most in the world: green bananas and celery.

On those rare occasions when this story alone is not enough to convince them of the necessity of taking a nap, I will leave their room and close the door behind me. After a few minutes, I take a running start and open the door with the velocity of...of...of...something and with labored breath report that The Green Witch has just rung our doorbell. "She told me you weren't asleep, but I told her you were, and then she said, 'oh no they're not missie, you just go check,' and oh my gosh I can't believe it! I can't believe she's right!"

Then they start to scream while I say, "Hurry! Hurry!" and tuck in their blankets. Then I kiss them each on the top of the head, and they sleep for the required two hours.

Lasting damage, you think?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ain't No Party Like a Daly City Party

Okay, maybe that’s overstating it, but it was a good Going Home to a Landscape reading. A better word is 'gratifying.' The library staff was happy to have us, and it showed in the fact that they brought us an audience (and that they brewed coffee, served cookies, set up a display of Filipino and Fil-Am books, gave us parting gifts and took about seven thousand pictures): forty-two people seated, a handful of others standing. Poet Angela Torres pointed out that it's nice to read at the library because you know that everyone there has a true love of reading. It's terrible when it seems like someone's listening only because it's too crowded at the magazine rack or because it's taking too long for their latte to come up. Not that that's ever happened to me. Ahem.

It was a treat to hear Marianne Villanueva read. At so many of these events she has acted strictly as MC, which is a disservice (although she’s hilarious. At the Bindlestiff fundraiser, she confessed—with a straight face—that her childhood aspiration was to become a bomba star) because her story, which she constantly refers to as "depressing," has a haunting/haunted quality that keeps you thinking for quite some time afterwards.

Next up was the quiet, fiercely intelligent poetry of renaissance woman Jean Vengua Gier. She read from Going Home, and then also read parts of "Marcelina," her 1930s-California-fieldworkers-violent crime poem from Babaylan, which she had never read to an audience before. It sparked an interesting conversation later during the question and answer session.

All I have to say about my own turn at the podium is 1) why do I never take a moment beforehand to practice the unintentionally tongue teasing line, “…I longed to shine the tarnished brass latch loose on its hinge?” I didn’t screw up, but the threat of it derails me almost every time. And 2) why have I never taken a moment to ask someone how to properly pronounce the word “capiz?” Is it CA-piz or ca-PIZ? Will one of you kindly put me out of my misery? Grazie.

Angela Torres read next, which was perfect because—as I’ve told her before—she bats clean up beautifully. She read from the anthology, and then read two newer pieces. Both were wonderful, but "Thursday, After Dinner at L'amie Donia” almost killed me with its loveliness. Apparently it has the same effect on other people, especially if those other people happen to be judging the James Hearst Poetry Prize, for which it recently took second place. You can read it yourself in the March/April 2004 issue of the North American Review.

We talked story and signed books for an hour afterwards, which induced heavy mother-guilt in both Angela and me (I also had daughter-guilt, since my parents were serving as babysitters). Several people bought more than one copy of the book, and one of them even brought along her clothbound version for us to sign.

I drove home on 280, listening to Seal IV and humming.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Dads Rule

Lea's 2-year-old birthday extravaganza—let's just call it All About Elmo—happened last night (this, despite my ongoing battle with pollen), but I was the one who received the best gift. My dad brought me a...ta-da...Jollibee baseball cap. Not that I'm a huge fan (though I will admit, as long as you don't tell anyone, to once eating two mango pies in one sitting) or anything. I am just deeply in love with the word 'Jollibee' and the accompanying logo. So Dads rule.

Which unearths another memory. In an uncharacteristic yet chivalric nod to, I don't know, medieval times, Andrew chose to ask my father for my hand. In a characteristic yet sexist nod to, I don't know, the 1950s, my dad's response was something like, "You realize you're going to have to buy all her shoes now, right?"

I could hang around all day, but I need to blow my nose.

Friday, March 12, 2004


I have much to report on the Daly City reading, but I am currently incapacitated by a violent allergic reaction to yellow acacia. It's un-pretty. Still, I have worked up enough energy to tell you this: for reasons unclear to me, I fled in fear from the Filipino Channel reporter who requested an interview with each of us. I think it was the size of the camera.

As I left the room, I fancied I was J. Lo at the Golden Globes, refusing all questions with a haughty turn of her overly-coiffed head. Uh-huh. I really did that.

Monday, March 08, 2004

No Mas Masa's, Please

Still recovering from a good friend's 9-course, 4-hour birthday dinner at Masa's in the city (San Francisco, that is). It started with a white demitasse cup of Italian butterbean soup laced with white truffle oil and ended with me slumped over and sucking on a pink homemade lollipop. In between, I ate every food known to man: crab, lobster, foie gras, bone marrow (deep fried), sea bass, another soup, beef, duck, blood orange sorbet, and who knows what else. But, for the love of Bambi, I passed on the venison.

Since I don't partake of spirits, I'm always sooner or later faced with the mildly embarrassing task of asking some impeccably dressed waiter for a Diet Coke. "With lemon," I add, as if this additional request will keep me from looking like an uncultured moron. I'm always certain that the staff will instantly report me to the chef, who will emerge from the kitchen red-cheeked and screaming "Mon dieu! This Daly City bumpkin ees ruining my men-oo!"

All in all, the evening was lovely, albeit a bit of culture shock for someone who these days usually just ends up eating the discarded crusts of her daughters' peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. While standing.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Thursday, March 04, 2004

This Just In...

In what one of my dear friends describes as a classic Parent Trap moment, Risa and Vida were caught switching nametags on their first day of preschool. Another mom ratted them out to me while good-naturedly patting me on the arm and saying, "It was really cute, though."

Dear God, what's next? Cigarettes in the bathroom? Pilfering apple juice? I'm not ready for this, I tell you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Laughter In the Morning

Who is this guy? Whoever he is, he almost just made me spit out my yogurt. Check out his Poses I Would Like to Do if I Were a J. Crew Model (Which I Will Be Someday. You Just Shut Up).

But why am I dilly-dallying here? I have to get the twins to preschool—each with a sharing object and an instrument (Risa on bongos; Vida on tambourine)—and the littlest one to Half Moon Music. I'm consistently embarrasssed at Half Moon Music and yet...I go. Every week. If you've not much else to do, you can read about my music misadventures right here. I'm sure this is all somehow connected to my karaoke phobia.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Cookie Monster

Small female children keep ringing my doorbell and insisting that I ordered various amounts of Girl Scout cookies. I am not one to question the honesty of anyone under the age of ten, so I just nod blankly and write out a check. Then they hand me cookies. I have so far amassed twelve boxes, and something tells me there are more to come.

Trefoils anyone? Thin Mints? Do-Si-Dos. Just lemme know.