Saturday, October 30, 2004

Can't I Just Mind My Own Busy-ness?

Yesterday I careened through cyberspace on a foolhardy mission do what, exactly? I have no idea, but it didn't keep me from making myself available for a possible blog pummeling. For gory details, see here. Fortunately, though, I ran smack into A.D.T. in N.Y.C. who finds me, um, rational and intelligent.

Shall I argue otherwise? I shall not.

And so it is with unabashed enthusiasm that I proclaim the unemployed (but nevertheless charming) A.D.T. as the newest member of my blog kickball team.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

My Huntsman Lives!

So, yes, my huntsman is a bodyguard, but before he was a bodyguard he was a houseboy. Named Nino for now. And here he is with Eva and Arturo Sy on the day my Snow White was born:

The day that Eva Sy gave birth, Nino was cracking ice as she labored, timing the downswing of his pick with her cries. She had insisted on delivering the child at the Alabang house rather than the hospital, and because Arturo Sy could deny his wife nothing--including mountains of fake snow in the gardens at Christmas, cheese imported from France, and a whole room given over to her hobby of stitching fine linens with golden thread--he had eventually agreed with an “Okay, okay,” and a flick of his wrist.

Eva wanted only her mother, who was visiting from Sweden, and the local midwife--toothless, barefoot, and with strings of fat nara wood beads encircling her neck--to attend to her. In the beginning, Eva thought she would go mad with the constant clack-clack-clacking of the beads; but as an hour grew to eight, then, twelve, then sixteen, the sound brought comfort, as did the midwife’s hands as she moved round and round the bed, smoothing Eva’s sheets, massaging her lower back as she lay on her side, wiping her brow.

Nino once heard a maid--a girl of just sixteen--give birth in one of the rooms behind the cocina. She had made the sounds of someone working to climb a mountain or to outrun a man bent on murder. But the noises from Eva Sy were like the screams of the aswang that can be heard in the fields at midnight, screams of pure terror that tore though the house like a terrible wind. The worst of these was followed by a silence and then frantic shouts to fetch Dr. Lim from the other side of the subdivision.

Eva was dead before he arrived.

Just wanted to prove to myself that I really was working on it. Now it's after midnight, and really I must go because I have to wake up early to get Risa and Vida ready (this entails wigs and make-up; I don't mess around) for their Halloween preschool parade which ends at a senior citizens' home. There they will sing a slew of Halloweeny songs. They are not particularly uplifting songs, but I seem to be the only one concerned about that. I mean, what do you think of this (the children have been directed, mind you, to look very sad throughout this little number):

Oh once I had a pumpkin,
a pumpkin, a pumpkin,
Oh once I had a pumpkin
without any face.
With no eyes and no nose,
and no mouth and no smile,
Oh once I had a pumpkin
with no face at all.

Methinks this is no way to spread cheer...

Kerry & Springsteen

I had no idea that Madison, Wisconsin, was so. freaking. beautiful.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tsismis Makes the World Go Around

Oh no! Miz Barbara Jane reports that one-of-a-kind Marianne Villanueva was making tsismis about writing groups. And guess where I'm going in an hour? To my writing group with one-of-a-kind Marianne Villanueva.

I shall pin her to the wall (this will be simple, as Marianne is quite petite) and force the truth from her! To save herself, she will say, "Naku, Veronica! I had too many Wyder Ciders! It's all Barbara Jane's fault!"

We shall see, my people. We shall see...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

First-Ever Toy Purge

In preparation for the seventy-five metric tons of gifts that family and friends so kindly bestow on our three children (the twins' birthday is on December 29th, making things even more insane) during the holiday season, we will soon be conducting our First-Ever Toy/Book Purge.

This year, our purge will benefit Books for the Barrios, the much-lauded organization in Concord, California, that has so far shipped nearly 5 million pounds of books and other educational doo-dads to barrio schools in the Philippines.

So attention Delfino Clan: if you have things you'd like to donate and your house is somewhere between mine and Concord, I'll be happy to pick your stuff up. If a still-warm bag of pan de sal awaits me, so much the better. Here's what they need:

• Games and Puzzles
• Toys, Stuffed Animals and Tennis Balls (tennis balls?!)
• Athletic Equipment
• Crayons, Pencils and Scissors
• Clean Scrap Paper
• Children's Storybooks
• National Geographic Magazines
• Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
• Computers (Pentium I or better)
• Little Girls Dresses

Ready? Set? Purge.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

For the Men in Your Life

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Shall I quote from the poorly translated Portuguese? Yes, I think I shall: It is the Latin spirit of Antonio Banderas exceeding barriers to seduce the world...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Not Quite Redeemed by French Fries

Of the 100 facts that The Nation presents in its Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration, only one failed to raise my ire:

#62. At the behest of the french fry industry, the Bush Administration USDA changed their definition of fresh vegetables to include frozen french fries.


Unfortunately for the GOP, this single good deed in a roiling sea of evil and mind-numbing greed is not enough to sway my vote.

I think The Nation should have included this fact instead: when the sister of James Byrd--the Black man who was tied to a truck by three white men and dragged along a Texas road to his death--stood in front of Bush in tears and begged him to sign a hate crimes bill, he refused. Without--as Molly Ivins pointed out--even offering her a tissue.

Is that what they call a "compassionate conservative?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Odd Ball

"Mother, am I odd?"

So said Risa and, I have to tell you, the question gave me pause. Because I have often felt that she is, indeed, odd. Or maybe 'quirky' is a better word. Anyways, to buy time I said, "Why do you ask?"

"Someone said I was odd."


"I can't remember."

"Oh. Well, you're not odd; you're just Risa."

But then night before last as I was putting her down for the night, she said, "Can you take a picture of yourself at this number (translation: at this age) and then give it to me?"

"Sure. Why?"

"So that when you die, I can remember you like this."

I got goosebumps. Then I thought isn't that sweet? And...odd?"

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Making Exquisite Sense Today...

...when it is dark and raining, there is Play-Doh in my hair, and my darlings are flinging themselves off the bookshelves:

What cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson writes in Composing a Life...

It is time to explore the creative potential of interrupted and conflicted lives, where energies are not narrowly focused or permanently pointed toward a single ambition. 

These are not lives without commitment, but rather lives in which commitments are continually refocused and redefined.

In another one of her books, Peripheral Visions, I was fascinated to read the following about the Philippines:

...on my desk I put a small, carved figure of Christ, one of hundreds detached from crucifixes and sold in Manila as antiquities, usually armless, with their pointed European noses sliced off during the era when Filipinos rebelled against everything Spanish. I wondered sometimes, seeing these mutilated images that redouble the Spanish preoccupation with suffering, about the limits of empathy across cultural lines. This cristo has drops of blood carved in the wood, running down its side.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Big Fresno Fair

Maybe they call it the Big Fresno Fair because the ewes, bred to give birth while at the Big Fresno Fair, are heavy with their lambs, and the ones who have just given birth, are heavy--alarmingly, uncomfortably, almost comically--with milk. At the sight of one of the latter, my sister-in-law said said, "She better feed her baby soon or something bad is going to happen."

(Allow me to stray briefly from my Big theme to note that there was a lone black baby sheep amongst all the white ones, unclaimed and utterly alone, chewing on a stick. I almost broke into sobs, which is one of several hundred thousand reasons why I am thankful I was not raised on a farm.)

It's possible that the Big Fresno Fair is named in honor of the cows. Every year, in my official role as Mistress of the Obvious, I wander aimlessly around the Livestock Exhibit and say something brilliant about how big the cows are. I say, "Damn, those cows are big."

Perhaps they call it the Big Fresno Fair because when you leave, you are bigger. You are bigger because you ate several fried things. You are bigger because you bought the still-warm kettle corn in a bag almost as tall as you are. You are bigger because even though you didn't eat the fry bread, funnel cake, cinnamon rolls, fried zucchini, onion rings, caramel apple or chocolate-covered frozen banana, many other people did, and you feel big by association.

Or maybe it's called The Big Fresno Fair because calling it The Medium-Sized Fresno Fair would be just plain silly.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Virtually Yours

So this is me, virtually. Do note the tiara.

Me, Virtually

Now you try. And don't forget to post it!

Happy weekend one and all...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Vespertine Press Is Nice

When I submit work to a journal, I often feel like I'm sending it to a black hole where it moves slowly but surely to the bottom of a pile until the paper it's written upon finally disintegrates, and it's as if it never existed at all.

For real.

And I was beginning to feel that Vespertine Press, a new Asian American literary journal that the charming Barbara Jane (see her? she's the one with lots and lots of lip gloss...) brought to my attention oh so many months ago, was one of those black holes. Briefly at the end of July, their web site basically said that if you hadn't heard from them by August 1st, you should stamp the word "REJECTED" on your forehead. And so I did. Consider myself rejected, I mean. And then just a few weeks ago, I checked the site again to see if the first issue was available for purchase because rejected though I was, I know how important it is to support "minority" (pfffft) literature.

What do you suppose I saw? A message saying they were still considering their 2004 submissions. Hmmmm. Now what's a writer to do? After a week of doing nothing, I finally sent an e-mail asking them--kindly, ever so kindly--to clarify the status of the submissions, as I was simply trying to keep accurate track of my manuscripts.

Two days later, I received a lovely reply from publisher Mamie Ju Raynaud. Why lovely? Because the first line said, "I remember your story!" It proceeded to get less lovely because, well, my story didn't make it into the journal (which, by the way, is experiencing some production delays). But then it got lovely again because she said I made it through a couple of rounds with the editors.

She also mentioned that--strange, is this not?--all the prose submissions that they really liked ("Yours was one of them," she said, pushing the e-mail back into the lovely realm) revolved around death or a funeral. And she didn't stop there! She went on, inviting me to re-submit the story ("If it's not taken by another publication," she said in a distinctly lovely way) next time around.

I'm not too proud to say that I have never been so thoughtfully cared for by a literary journal. And I'm a rejectee! Imagine the silk slippers and scented candles the Accepted Ones will receive! This is the proper care and feeding of writers, methinks. So let it be known throughout the land: Vespertine Press is nice.

Oh, and get this: Mamie closed her e-mail by telling me to feel free to write her any time with questions. Am I mistaken in thinking that most editors, due to the fact that they are already drowning in mail both solicited and unsolicited, will do their hot-diggity-darnedest not to encourage such communication? Told you: nice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Happy Ver Sary

We don't look like this anymore. But after thirteen years, that hardly seems to be the point.

With many thanks to the spousal unit for kinda liking me.

No matter what.


Originally uploaded by ver.

(Most) Novelists Are Cool

And the proof is right here. Will ignore, for now, the fact that Amy Tan appears to be the lone AsianAm represented. Or perhaps I was scrolling too quickly...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Dog Days

I am intensely uncomfortable around animals. Dogs (particularly giant poodles), cats, birds (particularly swans), goats, lambs, like that. Make of this what you will--I'm sure it reveals some deep character flaw and that it will prove to be the straw that broke the camel's back when Judgement Day arriveth. Though I'm sure they sense my anxiety, I try not to display it in front of my daughters. After all, the last thing anyone needs is four females shrieking in unison when a hamster breaks free of its cage.

This is all by way of telling you about the canine (mis)adventures that Lea and I have had in the last month. Without further ado:

1. Pug Off!

I hold Lea's hand when we're out because 1) it's kinda nice and 2) she is far too busy looking around to realize that she's about to walk into a pole, garbage can, some strange man's leg, or whatnot. The other day, despite the fact that I was holding her hand, she careened into a pug (he came up to about her knees) with such force that they bounced off each other. If I'd had a video camera with me, I tell ya--Bob Sackett would be all over me by now. The best part is that they were both pissed. The pug's owner and I just smiled at each other and dragged our angry children away.

2. Relax, It's Just a Pitbull

When we first passed the pitbull, it was sunning itself contentedly at the feet of its master, who was eating breakfast in the outdoor seating area of a little cafe. Twenty feet past it, we heard low barking and an unfamiliar clatter. Turned around to see the damn thing running right at us, dragging a chair with it. Its genius owner had tethered it to a flimsy plastic chair. I scooped Lea up and turned my back, half hoping it would just disappear but knowing that if it didn't, I would rather have my back mauled than my front. And I could just drop my body right over Lea's. The owner was--big surprise--little help. She just screamed, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" and attempted to run after it in her high heels and movement-restricting jeans. Luckily, the Evil Beast got itself tangled up around a parking meter before it reached us.

3. Lea's First Joke

Big dog at the playground. Big like a pony; I think it was a St. Bernard. Whatever the case, it stood about 3 inches taller than Lea. I will always remember this dog because it's one of the few that didn't immediately strike fear in my heart. Don't get me wrong, I didn't pet it or anything, but it had such a peaceful vibe. Just a big, dopey dog. When we walked past it on the way to the car, Lea said, "Whoa. Mom, you better put a diaper on that dog." And then she started laughing. She laughed so hard she couldn't walk. I had to pick her up and put her in her carseat, still laughing.

And, well, that's all.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I Can't Hear You, I Have a Banana In My Ear

Okay, I'm open to the idea that this is just a conspiracy theory, but it would explain a lot about the President's bizarre debate tics which--and I sincerely mean this--don't make him seem "folksy and endearing," but frighteningly off-balance.

For example, I couldn't figure out why Bush's eyes were constantly darting around during the debates. I thought that's a weird way to try to convince people of your focus and unwavering commitment to your mistakes. But now it makes perfect sense: his eyeballs won't stay put because he's hearing voices.

Have you guys noticed any other odd things he does that could be explained away by the fact that he's using an earpiece? I'm thinking now of the way he is silent for a number of seconds and then suddenly just blurts something out. I dunno. He's either being fed information or he's plain old weird. And I'm talking bad weird, not good weird...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Research, Procrastination, or A Little of Both

I have been working on my Huntsman story. I have. But when I'm not, I'm reading Gregory Maguire's Mirror, Mirror, which places Snow White (called Bianca de Nevada here) in Tuscany during the 16th century. Just forty-three pages in, and I've already been privy to three or four points of view, including a dwarf's. But no Huntsman yet. I'm ambivalent about the little woodcut-inspired illustrations in this novel. They're a bit gimmicky for my taste, and they don't do much to enhance my reading experience. In case you wondered.

And then of course there is this compulsively clickable hypertext version. It is An Evil Trap sent to derail me. Unfortunately, knowing this does not keep me from succombing to its siren call.

Wish me buena suerte...

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Imagine my chagrin when a fellow student, uncomfortable with the number of writers in the group, showed up at Meanings of Motherhood class brandishing a self-styled document declaring that what is said in class must stay in class, and that quotes--whether attributed or not--were strictly forbidden. She had typed out each of our names and was now asking that we sign the paper.

A journalist (one who will not mind being quoted here) sitting beside me said that her code of ethics would prevent her from using the class for material without consent anyways. I signed the damn thing smiling and thinking to myself I'm a fiction writer, and I have no ethics.

That said, this is the last you will hear of my little foray back into the classroom. (Is that a collective sigh of relief I hear?)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Oh Cheney, You So Shady

Egads, I love this roundup of various media reactions to last night's debate.

And, yeah, it's from the Kerry-Edwards Blog. You got a problem with that?

Makes Sense, Actually

What do many people do while drinking coffee? Read.

And so my cyberpal Tracey found an intriguing little spot for some of her flash fiction: the label on a can of Storyhouse Coffee. It's almost too adorable. They also accept poetry, non-fiction, graphic art, or whatever tickles their, um, funny bean.

Welcome to the blogosphere, T!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Broken Sword, Flying Snow

Left my brother with the kids and snuck out to Emeryville with the spousal unit to finally catch the visual majesty of Hero.

I'm still recovering.


First Meeting
Originally uploaded by ver.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Tommy Used to Work on the Docks

In an effort to preserve parental sanity, we play as little "kid music" in the car as possible. If Risa and Vida have a hankering for such offerings, they are free to don their headsets (Lea can't get the hang of it--she always ends up with the spongy earpieces on her cheeks) and bliss out to Raffi. Otherwise, they listen to what we choose. So. On the way home from preschool the other day, I was flipping through radio stations when I heard the deliciously cheesy synthesized opening of a Bon Jovi classic. It was irresistible, especially when Jon's voice broke in with the unintentionally amusing, "Tommy used to work on the da-ah-ocks." For kicks, I stopped hitting the search button.

I checked the rearview mirror frequently and saw that all three girls were listening with great care. When it came time for the uber-corny, "...Take my hand and we'll make it I sway-yer/Oh! Oh!/ livin' on a prayer," lines, I sang along at the top of my lungs and flung my hair around. Not to worry--it was a residential area with very little possibility of an outright accident (almost took out a mailbox, though). And when the song finally reached its "We've gotta hold on to what we've got/it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not" ending, I switched off the radio.

"Did you guys like that song?"

Polite silence. And then Vida, unofficial spokeswoman for all three, softly said, "Mom? Not very much."

As if she was worried my heart would break, as if my well-being depended on her answer.

This gig just cracks me up, I swear.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

An Afternoon at AACP

It was a tiny group at AACP, but the vibe was pleasant and the food was good and, really, what more can you ask? Marianne Villanueva successfully lightened the load of Going Home books in her rolling suitcase, and that is always good news.

Oscar Peñaranda was MIA (he sent his regrets via T'boli publisher Eduardo Datangel), leaving me to wonder what in the world Barbara Jane, Eileen, Jean, Michelle and Leny did to him at the embassy on Friday evening? But it was such fun to meet the delightful Liza Erpelo who teaches English and coordinates the Kababayan Program at Skyline College. At one point she made me laugh uncontrollably in the middle of someone else's reading (Lord, what bad form...), and it reminded me of when my cousin Jodi used to--on purpose!--sing inordinately loud and off-key at Mass until I laughed so hard the pew started to shake.

Then there was the trio of mighty manangs from FAHNS with old-school Bay Area stories to share. And I am so pleased to say that I now know poet Tony Robles, whose relaxed reading style I admire. It's like catching up with an old friend at a cafe and letting your coffee grow cold (I don't drink coffee, but that's entirely beside the point...) because you're too busy listening to bother taking a sip. I hope he doesn't mind that I'm about to share a poem that poet and teacher Nick Carbo particularly enjoyed in 2001:

Ode to the Sandwich Makers
by Tony Robles

In the financial district
the construction never

concrete slabs, frozen
tongues piled silently

held in place by

Papers stacked
and shredded

confetti on the 1st

In the midst of this
stone graveyard is
a deli

12 noon, the
line snakes from
the door

Inside, 7 sandwich
makers behind
a glass counter

all Asian


With the grace of
a blackjack dealer,
they stack the salami,
ham, cheese

on bread of

white, brown, sour,
or wheat

Any sandwich, any way
you like it

Meat piled thick

sealed with
strokes of

perfectly with care

The line
moving quickly
like at the

These dealers,
these sandwich

these builders

Taking the order

buildings of

among the


And I picked up two copies of The Forbidden Book which, as others have pointed out, is stunning. I think it's appropriate that it's not easy to get your hands on it; it's forbidden, after all.

Anyways, if you're heading down the peninsula, stop in at AACP and let Leonard and Florence show you around. Good people, them.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Reading, 10/2, AACP - Revised

As expected, a few changes in the line-up for the reading at Asian American Curriculum Project in San Mateo:

12:50. Introduction by Vangie Buell, President East Bay FANHS.

1:00. Frank Samson of DeAnza College discusses The Forbidden Book

1:45. Then me for Going Home to a Landscape.

2:30. Vangie Buell, Liz Megino and Marie Yip for Seven Card Stud with Manangs Wild.

3:15. Discussion and signing.

3:30. Poetry from Tony Robles and Oscar Peñaranda.

4:00. Oscar Peñaranda reads from his new book of short stories Seasons by the Bay.

4:45. Q & A and signing followed by a discussion about publishing and the state of Fil-Am literature in the schools and the public library.

all on Saturday, October 2nd, at:

Asian American Curriculum Project
529 East Third Ave/San Mateo, CA/94401

Man. That's a lotta stuff.

Money Money Money Muh-nay!

This from last night:

So far, even typically hostile TV pundits -- and some Republicans, including John McCain just now on CNN -- are saying John Kerry more than held his own against Bush tonight. And apparently Kerry's strong performance has many Americans digging into their pockets. The Kerry campaign just sent this one line email to reporters: "As of 10:41 p.m., the Democratic National Committee is receiving 5 online donations per second." -- Geraldine Sealey

Did you notice that the campaign pointedly neglected to credit my blog for the last-minute donations? Shall I quibble? I shan't.