Saturday, December 31, 2005

Harmless Resolution #1

Drink more water.


I've been missing my space here! And I find, to my great surprise, that I'm looking forward to life falling back into its normal rhythm. Because even though it's a rhythm that often makes no sense and is way too fast for dancing, it does at least create a predictable schedule that allows me to be somewhat consistent with my writing activity (such as it is). Not that I'm complaining about the formless, go-with-the-flow, what time is it?, meandering existence of the last few weeks; it has its definite perks (hello blissage!). I'm just feeling a bit unspooled, if that makes sense.

It's time to get to it.

Whatever it is.

And with that, my lovelies, I wish you well in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Exit Stage Right

Like most of the blogosphere, I will be checking out for the next coupla days. There is still much celebrating left to do, you see, what with my little cousin turning the big 3-0 and R & V turning the big 0-6. The former is quite exciting, as we will be spending the day celebrating at Bliss Spa where I will be indulging in a 75-minute "blissage." Oh, yes I will. The latter is not so exciting at the moment, as I will be expending vast amounts of energy attempting to live up to what is now going to be called, "Risa & Vida's Really Rather Alarmingly Pink 6th Birthday Party." Their actual birthdate is this week, but to ensure the health and sanity of all involved, the party won't be for a few weeks.

And so...I'll be back before you even miss me, post-blissage...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Belated Greetings

I fully intended to blog over the holiday, post corny pictures, and bore you with various up-to-the-minute details regarding everything from large cuts of beef to not having any baking soda on hand and thus being unable to bake Tollhouse cookies at midnight last night, the way I wanted to. Without exaggerating too terribly much I will say that I was basically hijacked at scissor point and thrown into a pool filled not with water—oh, no—but with rolls and rolls of wrapping paper, a plentiful supply of ribbon and tape, and little glittery tags. Someone stood on the edge of the pool whipping me with tinsel at inapproriate intervals and yelling, "Wrap! Wrap faster! Wrap prettier! that. a. bow?!"

Ay, yay, yay.

As my way of making amends, I post yet another picture of my children, this time standing on the steps of the War Memorial Opera House just prior to taking in their first Nutcracker. A light sprinkle of artificial snow drifted over us as we walked through the doors, a lovely way to start a special night.

I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and your family, and your friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Living Color

When I woke up this morning (and, well, still) my hair was in such a bizarre tangle: curly sections, frizzed-out sections, perfectly straight sections all mashed every which way. It was kind of a Veronica Scissorhands vibe, and I'm still the heck? I'm about to tame it into a perky little ponytail, but for now I'm going to continue to enjoy the strange energy that seems to be emanating from my noggin.

You can see, then, how It was particularly fitting to open an e-mail from Bino containing the following Warhol- and Lichtenstein-izations:

I'm feeling all technicolor-ish.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The McSweeney's Siren Call

I find it difficult to resist an issue of McSweeney's, especially the ones packaged in an out-of-the-ordinary way. The issue I just picked up, for example, emerged from its shrinkwrap looking exactly like a packet of random mail, complete with a rubberband. Witness:

I haven't read much of it yet; for now, I'm just enjoying the anticipation of opening up the envelopes. There's a "Tyrolian Harvest" sausage catalog, which is pretty much killing me ("...[it] is a special time at Tyrolian Harvest, full of strong feelings, fine meats, and candles.").

Another recent favorite is encased in a lovely, tricky linen box. For reasons I cannot decipher, it includes a high-quality black comb in its own nifty little compartment. Another compartment is home to a deck of thirteen oversized playing cards, which upon closer inspection are a short story by Robert Coover. The Joker and Card #13 must be read first and last, respectively, but other than that you can read them in any order. Compartments 3 and 4 contain a very long Ann Beattie piece and, finally, a collection of fiction in standard literary journal form.

Such good, clean fun...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Holiday Cheer

As has become our tradition, we took the girls to sit on Santa's lap at Stanford Shopping Center (or is it "Centre?" I wouldn't be surprised...). There is a weird new "Enchanted Redwood Forest" set—comprised mostly of fake grey boulders—that attempts to offer up some nature education while you're waiting in line. Did you know, for example, that a redwood tree can grow up to 300 feet tall? But placed within the context of standing in line to sit on Santa's lap, do you care? Weird. I much prefer the candyland-on-crack set of yesteryear. Give me back the garish colors, the phallic columns topped with mounds of whipped cream (oh, I see. Perhaps someone complained about this?), the fake snow, and Santa's velvet chair! Maybe it was just me, but Santa looked a little uncomfortable—not to mention undignified—sitting on a redwood bench.

Ah, well.

The good news is that the operation's camera broke down and they were forced to allow the use of personal cameras, thus saving consumers anywhere from $21.00 - $50.00 in Santa fees. Yes!

Post-nap, we headed to the city for a family get-together. After a right-cheery feast of fabulous flavors, we commenced with the always hilarious White Elephant exchange. Standouts this year included a Star Wars shaving kit, a pewter wind-up ram (as in the animal) that played "Climb Every Mountain," and a pristine 4 LP set of "Clivillés + Cole: Greatest Remixes Vol. 1 - DJ Bonus Pack." Uncle J. couldn't resist an opportunity to put his beyootiful turntable to use, which in turn caused my cousuncle Paqui to revisit some of his "Krush Groove"-inspired moves. It was too much, I tell you. (Hey Delfinos—look for pix soon over at Kuwentuhan).

Today is the first day of Winter break, and the girls are quite happily still lounging around in their pajamas (um, me too). In time we'll get our act together and head over the river and through the woods to Lolo and Lola's house. Once there, we will be but a stone's throw from Clement St., home of Green Apple Books and my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches. You are so jealous it's ridiculous.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Return of the Demented Reindeer

You may remember last year's time-intensive brownie reindeer ordeal. Or you may not. Whatever the case, you'll be happy to hear that my skills have miraculously self-honed in a year's time, and I was able to whip out this wild bunch in thirty-two minutes. They are quite sinister compared to 2004, and because you need to know these things, I will tell you why: it's because I had no white frosting with which to adhere their eyes. Without the contrast, my reindeer are lacking a certain...something. Let's call it "personality." Truth be told—though R & V's classmates won't notice—it's bugging the hell out of me. Don't tell anyone; they'll think I'm cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs.

And now I'm off to clean up the mess. But before I go, a question from Lea that maybe you can help answer. She asked this while we were driving to the craft store this morning:

Lea: Mom, Mom. Can you turn the music down for a minute?

Me: Sure. What is it?

Lea: If you stick a grape in your eye, will you die quickly?

Me: [certain that I've heard wrong] If I stick a grape? In my eye? Will I die quickly?

Lea: Yes. If you stick a grape in your eye, will you die quickly?

Me: I'm not...I...I don't know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Little Known Fact

It's 11:07. I should be in bed, perhaps reading, but instead I'm sitting on the couch eating cherry pie and watching "Ellen" on the Oxygen network. Try as I might, I can't seem to feel guilty about this. I know the precise moment I will stop eating, though. It will be when Ellen's guest, the orally fixated Shakira, takes to the stage. Because if I stop eating cherry pie at that exact moment, my body will transform into one that looks like Shakira's, only with my head stuck on top.

I bet you didn't know that.

UPDATE. The one—the only!—Gura has brought my to Photoshopperific life:

Pie rules!

*strikes the laughing-my-damn-ass-off pose, which—not suprisingly—looks nothing like this provocative Shakira squat pose*

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pinoy Bloogers Unite!

I mean "Pinoy Bloggers Unite!" I'll get it right one of these days. Our little get-together was quite the smashing affair, complete with a quick but delectable dinner for Sunny, BJ, Marianne, and myself at Foreign Cinema:

For Sunny? Scallops and a sort of leek/caviar combo wombo. BJ and I both partook of some Ono and braised veggies, while Marianne—claiming to have spent herself on corned beef hash and eggs in the morning—picked away at a calamari salad. From Foreign Cinema, it was down the street and half a block to the right for Writers with Drinks, presided over by Charlie Anders wearing a pretty, classic black shift and mussed-just-so hair. La Poeta Reyes was impeccable, of course. Here's our rockstar alongside Marianne at the venue:

This guy from the comedy troupe Killing My Lobster had me so amused I was laughing "the silent laugh,"—the kind that makes you look like a deranged street wanderer. I also had the inexplicable urge to hit someone (sorry Sunny!), which I went ahead and indulged. The performer, you see, gave a poetic reading from the "Chance Encounters" section of Craigslist. "Spoke...To...YOU!," was the title of the first one. Lordy.

On our way out of the Makeout Room, who should we meet swimming downstream but...Ms. Jean Vengua! "Don't tell me," she said. "You're leaving." This was true, but we were only heading across the street to the Revolution Cafe, where we were soon met by Gladys, birthday girl Joanne, Anthem, Irene, and ob, who valiantly arrived straight from Oakland Airport, bag in tow. Wayne (possibly the world's nicest person) and Sunny kept the sangria flowing, and much fun ensued. Here are some big smiles from three frighteningly smart people—Joanne, Sunny, and Gladys:

And here are Jean and BJ, also frighteningly smart (yes, it's hard to be the simpleton of the lot, but I did my best to perform the job with grace and, um, dignity):

And BJ and Oscar checking in with the singular Rich Villar:

So, here are some things I found out while sitting at the Revolution Cafe with these lovely people:

1) Marianne is "fascinated" by Japanese rope bondage.
2) BJ is fascinated by the sound of Marianne's voice continually repeating the words "Japanese rope bondage."
3) Gladys' eyebrows are truly worthy of praise.
4) We were all talk and no walk when it came to crashing the quinceanera across the street (we wanted cake).
5) ob had the best idea re: #4. He wanted to approach the door and say, "Yo, is Maria in there?"
6) BJ can do a mean cabbage patch.

At around 11:00, we became ravenous for fried food and headed down the street to Popeye's Fried Chicken. It was closed, but we could not be deterred and wound up at La Alteña for an almost-midnight snack. Here is a picture of what Oscar and I handily consumed:

And here are some pictures of us before we dug in. The post-feast photo is not suitable for viewing (and I mean that in several ways):

So, here are some things I learned while sitting at La Alteña with these lovely people:

1) When Sunny makes uncharacteristically large sweeping motions with his hands and moves from side to side while repeating, "I'm sober," he is not. Sober, I mean.
2) If forced, Joanne could make a killer mixed CD of 80s slow jams.
3) If forced, I could return the counter after eating my entire first order and ask, meekly, for a beef taco.
4) Forced or not, I could eat it.
5) Irene and Anthem were so cute rocking their headgear and outerwear; I wish I'd taken a picture.

And then, and was over. BJ and Oscar caught the midnight train back to Oakland while the rest of us loitered for another 20 minutes before heading to our respective homes and wondering aloud who would be the first to blog. Sunny took the honors, managing to squeak a post in at two o'clock in the morning and update his flickr account! I was asleep just before one, but then Lea vomited every hour until about 6:30, so it's taken me this long to recover and leave this detailed account of a bunch of Filipinos and Filipino-friendly folks freely frolicking 'round the Mission.

*strikes the 'phew' pose*

[UPDATE. Sunny is right! The dramatic Craigslist reading was from "Missed Connections," not "Chance Encounters." Is there even a "Chance Encounters" section?! Now I'm makin' up my own damn Craigslist categories...]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Roll My R

I think I'm making real progress with my Latino outreach thing. How do I know this? Because I have been given...hold on tight, hold on tight...a nickname. Or maybe it's not, really. I'm not sure. You tell me: I am now called "Vero." And you have to roll the 'r' like really, really hard.

That's all.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let's Say...

...your partner, who takes care of most (okay, all) outdoor tasks did a superlative job of stringing lights through the trees outside your house (including 6 very groovy 1-foot-diameter light balls! You are so jealous). Let's also say that, unlike last year, he didn't wrap the power strip/switch in a waterproof contraption. And finally, let's say he's out of town for the week, and it's currently raining. Here is my question:

Would you go outside and turn on the lights?

I am blogging from bed, if you must know, and I feel like someone hammered a rusty spike through the center of my forehead. Add to this a cough and achy body, and what have you got? I'm not sure, but it doesn't bode well for the Pinoy Blogger Party. Of course, what does it all matter if I decide to turn on the Christmas lights?

I'm going to crawl out of my cocoon now to look for medication. I bet you're wondering who's watching the kids. Well, no one. But they're playing nicely together and currently require nothing of me. As usual, they're deep into some sort of role playing game. Whenever one of them needs to break character she says, "Pause movie!" uses the bathroom or whatever and then says, "Un-pause movie!" to resume the game. Even in my current state, I'm able to smile at this...

Monday, December 05, 2005

From Me to You

To the child narrating the school play: Please. I beg of you, please. Please stop tapping the microphone while you read.

To the horrible child whose mother is never at rehearsal and who therefore attempts to make all the other mothers do her bidding: I know not where your sense of entitlement originates, but Ima have a word with the woman who birthed you. You little shit.

To the person who invented garlic bread: I love you.

To anyone who's reading: Don't forget you're invited to the Pinoy Booger (I mean "Blogger." Why do I keep doing that?) Party! I hear the delightful Joanne Rondilla will be joining us, as well as Gladys, Sunny, ob (running on Ecuadorean time), Barbara Jane (um, of course) and, if we're lucky, an appearance by one Jean Vengua.

To Patrick: I swear I'm writing you a letter. I have the whole thing in my head. Now I just need my head to cooperate with my pen.

To whom it may concern: Was it absolutely necessary that four of my fingernails break in one day?

To Old Father Time: I need an extra week. Thanks.



Friday, December 02, 2005

Delayed Reaction

At one of the meetings I was required to attend for my Latino Outreach grant, there were a number of "faith" grantees—churches and church-affiliated groups who are doing secular work in their communities. I really didn't have a problem with these good people prefacing every sentence with, "Praise Jesus," but now that I'm thinking about it, I was a little ticked at the one woman who—after praising Jesus, of course—always added, "Coming from a Christian, family-centerered perspective..."

What was the point of that? First of all, I think she ought to have left her superiority complex at home in her own family-centered, Christian abode. Since she obviously wasn't making this statement for the benefit of the other faith grantees, I can only assume she was doing it to lord (get it? get it?!) it over those of us who may very well spend the afterlife surrounded by white-hot flames. Second, it was plainly divisive and, frankly, insulting. I was tempted to stand up and say, "Coming from a godless, vulgar, and violently family-hating perspective..."

*strikes the Angry Little Asian Girl pose*

(Now I'm thinking maybe I should have done what my Uncle M. used to do. Maybe I should have held my arms straight out to the side so that my body formed the letter "T" and yelled, "'T' is for tanga!"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Writing Workshop: 5-Year-Old Style

A few times a week, Risa and Vida's teacher conducts "Writing Workshop," wherein the kids (I think) draw in their journals and then—when the music begins—write stories to accompany the art. Since the rain has been cramping the girls' normal let's-go-to-the-backard-and-do-things-that-scare-the-bejesus-out-of-their-mother style, they decided to re-enact their workshop. Each completed one piece. I'd scan them, but they're on humungous paper. And so...

Here is Risa's (as it appears on the page, and then translated):

I see butrflis
I see a haos in mado
athr. Risa

I love Mom.
I see butterflies.
I see a house in [the] meadow.
Author: Risa

Now here is Vida's:


Story by Vida
One day the sun was gone and all the people were dying.

I think it's safe to assume that one of them was taking the current weather situation a little too much to heart.

So anyways, it's fascinating to witness these early attempts to create meaning on the page. Both of them have a tendency to fret over whether or not something is "right," which initially made them resistant to writing any word they didn't already know how to spell correctly. I have to bound and gag my inner editor (plus throw her in the closet and smother her with pillows) whenever they show me something because at this point they just need to feel free to write without worrying about "mistakes." Plenty of time for that, right?

As Lucy Calkins points out in "The Art of Teaching Writing," (a really very kick-ass book that has much to teach an adult writer, too) nobody ever frets about the primitive sounds a baby makes; we marvel at them, and then talk to the baby as if she is perfectly able to uphold her duties as a conversationalist. Lo and behold—one day she does exactly that. And so it should be with writing.

Now I just need to learn that bound-and-gag trick when it comes to my own stories.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Don't You Know Who I Am?

What with the rain and all, I decided to forego my usual Tuesday schedule of dragging poor Lea around on what feels like an endless—and often pointless—flurry of errands primarily aimed at keeping the house stocked with food, clean clothing, gifts for the five thousand birthday parties a year the girls attend, books (okay, those are mostly for me), and other various and sundry items, including Mach 3 razor blades, coffee filters, half-n-half, and salsa (the four things on which hinge the spousal unit's physical and psychological survival).

But like I said, it's raining and Lea was unhappy with the outfit I'd thrown on her this morning: jeans, pink turtleneck, lady bug rain slicker, and Hello Kitty beanie (what a brat! how could any sane 3-year-old bitch about a Hello Kitty beanie?!). The best thing to do after dropping the big girls off at school, then, was to hunker down here at home. And so we have spent the morning playing with blocks, practicing writing the letter "R" (I don't know why; it was her idea), and sticking marshmallows on sticks (again, I have no idea why). The marshmallow activity seemed to demand hot chocolate and cookies, and so we indulged: sugar cookies fresh from the oven (where were Izzy & Wily?!) and Pernigotti Cocoa perked up with a few drops of vanilla.

Well, the kid could not be happier. In the past hour or so she has proclaimed several times that I am the Best Mommy In The Whole World. This is downright inaccurate—I have chronicled several instances in which I am plainly One of The Worst Mommies in the Whole World—but you know what? I'm not going to correct her. In fact, I'm going to revel in her mistake. Inevitably, someone somewhere will be mean to me, thus providing the ideal opportunity for me to say, "Don't you know who I am?" Of course, they will be speechless, and I will continue, "From the look on your face, I see that you do not. I am the Best Mommy In The Whole World. Don't screw with me."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here We Go

I am suddenly panicked at everything there is to do in the upcoming weeks: the shopping, the card sending, the house decorating, the play, the dance show, the cooking, the wrapping, the parties—one of which includes R & V's 6th birthday party (tentatively titled, "Risa and Vida's Extraordinarily Pink Birthday Party")—the this, that, and that.

Okay. Writing that down did nothing to alleviate my angst.

However. While I was sitting here wringing my hands, the trusty spousal unit secured nine Dress Circle (what does "Dress Circle" mean? does it mean I must wear a dress?) tickets to SF Ballet's Nutcracker and ordered our holiday cards from Shutterfly.

All of which leads me to believe...those who do, do. And those who don't? They blog, of course.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Five Things

First of all, the ugliest dog in the world has died. If he played his cards right, I'm sure he's sitting in a suede recliner in Heaven, wearing a smoking jacket and chatting up the bitches.

Second, here at last is an amusing use for emoticons.

Third, I just made a strategic personal-care mistake. I showered and then had a silent but brief debate with myself regarding wavy hair or straight hair. I decided on straight. I blew it straight. It was kinda wonderful. But—and here is the strategic mistake part—I still have to bathe the girls this evening. The steam from their bath will make my hair all curly. I will then be forced to redo my hard work until it's straight again. Which just goes to show you (or me, at least): don't argue with nature. Or...tend to the children first. I realize this is far more than you to need to know about me, but what can I say? I feelthisclosetoyou.

Fourth, as you know, I love paper and office supplies. Here is my new favorite link in that department. Plus, the website refers to my "unique ambitions." I cannot tell you how hard this made me laugh. Especially when you consider that my "unique ambition" for today was to have straight hair.

Fifth, ob reports a surge in searches from Metro Manila. I can only assume this means we'll all be receiving some hits from Ecuador. It's only fair.

I may or may not return to nest before the holiday. If I do not, I wish you plentiful carbs and a deep, restful sleep.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Risa and Vida pass by the kitchen door and down the hallway. I thought Vida was carrying Risa like a baby. I thought this was odd. I got up, walked across the kitchen, and looked down the hallway. They turned the corner into Lea's room. Vida was, indeed, carrying Risa like a baby.

"Are you okay?" I called after them.

No answer.

"Risa, are you okay?"

More silence.

Nothing to do, then, but follow them into Lea's room. Vida was sitting on the bed, and Risa was curled up in her lap. "Risa. Are you okay?"

Simultaneous exasperated sighs. Risa spoke. "Mom, I'm fine. I'm pretending to be a cat. Now will you please go?"

Friday, November 18, 2005


You're in touch with the world, and you have a very
strong opinion on things like politics and war.
Even if you do end up changing your image in
the future, most of us will still like you.

What band from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess I should go buy some new sunglasses.

(via The Wily Filipino)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pinoy Blogger Party - Holiday Version

First, I was going to send out invitations carved on coconut shells and delivered to your doorstep by a barely clad island beauty.

Then I was going to send snail mail invitations written in invisible ink, which you would then need to hold over an open flame to decipher.

Then I got lazy and decided to send a goovite (mostly because I like the word "goovite").

Then I got truly lazy and decided just to blog it. Here's the plan, folks:

When: Saturday, December 10th @ 6:00

Where: Drinks/snacks/beats at Laszlo bar and then a quick Pinoy Parade (I almost wrote "short Pinoy Parade," but then thought better of it) to the Makeout Room for Writers with Drinks featuring our own Ms. Barbara Jane Reyes.

Leave a joyous comment if you're in! Leave a whiny comment if you're out! And since not everyone makes a regular stop here at Nesting Ground, please link away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Same Time Last Year

AD is reminiscing about where he was—both physically and psychologically—this time last year. I, lacking for anything whatsoever to blog about (make that anything that wouldn't, you know, fully ingrain the image of me as a psycho suburban mother into your supple brains), glommed onto his idea and just read through my November 2004 archives. I'm now a little disturbed and, in some ways, quite sad. Why? Because...

1) I have no memory whatsoever of having watched even five minutes of Justin & Kelly, a film I can only imagine has inspired and uplifted the spirits of thousands of confused people.

2) If things had gone just a smidge in the right (oh, wait, make that left) direction, George W. Bush would not be our Fearless Leader. He'd be a wannabe cowboy oil baron with a Presidential Library in his future. Which reminds me. I need this bumper sticker:

3) Lea is such a big girl now.

4) I still eat at the Crepevine by myself once a week. My God what a loser.

5) U.S. fatalities in Iraq were 1,117. Right now we're at 2,061. (See #2, above)

On an upnote, it was about this time last year (under rather horrible circumstances. bleck.) that I met the distinctly non-boring blogger mentioned at the beginning of this here post. I am now raising my mug of hot green tea in salute to blogpals and all their bloggy ways. Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Busy Lit-uhl Bee*

Just returned home from a rehearsal for R & V's school play, The Polar Express. I would like to officially doff my jaunty little cap to the volunteer director(s) because the only thing worse than having to watch the madness of one of these rehearsals is having to direct one.

Working backwards, I will now report on Sunday. The whole of Sunday was sucked up by my darling psuedo-niece's 2nd birthday party. Birthday parties at which the participants are all Filipino crack me up. The men stand outside talking on their cell phones, occasionally directing boys to be careful with the light sabers or other weapons they've brought, and the women? The women just walk around saying, "Have you eaten? Did you eat? You should eat? 'Sus, there's so much food!" I find this sort of gathering predictable, yet somehow comforting.

On Saturday, Marianne V. and I read together at Eastwind. Ms. Gladys, whose acquaintance I was so pleased to finally make, has a mini-report on the shared paranoia exhibited by Marianne and myself. I feel that I've finally purged myself of the paranoia, by the way, so be careful if you ever come to hear me read because I'm going to feel free to ramble 'til my eyeballs start to bleed. At which point I will refer to my reading as "performance art." Poeta also came out to see us, but was not wearing a rhinestone barrette. S'okay.

I like to read at Eastwind Books because it's cozy. This makes it a little easier to connect with the audience than at a place where the first row is, say, ten feet away. And I like reading at Eastwind because it's an end-destination bookstore. In other words, anyone walking through the door is not doing so in the hopes of picking up InStyle or, I dunno, The DaVince Code or Bergdorf Blondes. They are walking through the door because they're looking for Asian/Asian-American literature. Which means that even if they weren't planning on coming to a reading, they generally stick around if there's one happening. So anyways, the audience was nice and attentive, and they asked us interesting questions about process. I especially enjoyed that since I don't spend a lot of time considering the way(s) in which I work or, for that matter, don't work.

Afterwards, Indian food with Barbara Jane, Marianne, and my cousin Detsie. End result? Full belly. Drove home listening to some station playing several tracks off Madonna's "Confessions on a Dance Floor." I'm afraid I'm going to have to get it. Don't hate me because I'm dorky.

*said in creepy Joaquin-Phoenix-as-Commodus-voice*

Friday, November 11, 2005

It's Friday. Make Me Laugh.

Oh, never mind. I'll make you laugh.

I yanked both of these from the amusing blog of one Casey Ervin, who kindly surfs the web so I don't have to.

I kinda wish I knew this guy:

And I really wish these two had knocked on my door Halloween night:

Happy weekend, one and all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I want to eat something, but I don't know what it is. Because I'm certain that my appetite cannot be sated except by this "something," I have refrained from eating all day. Now's it's 1:15, and I'm getting pretty flippin' hungry. I tried to narrow it down. Something salty (this is common for me)? No. Something sweet? No. Savory? No. I switched to texture, and confirmed that I am not longing for anything crunchy, mushy, creamy, or tender.

I'm beginning to think that I should just suck on a lemon and call it a day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Saturday @ Eastwind

First of all: go vote!

Second: Did your best friend stand you up for your weekly Saturday afternoon "find your bliss" pep talk?

Are you looking for an excuse to avoid your co-worker's daughter's fourth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? In San Bruno?

Have you been meaning to have a slice of mediocre pizza at a mediocre pizza place situated next door to a bookstore dedicated to the sale and advancement of Asian/AsianAm literature?

Yes, I thought so. Have I got a plan for you! Why not come see Veronica Montes (that would be me) and Marianne Villanueva read at Eastwind Books in Berkeley this Saturday @ 4:00? Details right here.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Ver, I'm so there! But I'm feeling a little funny about this. How in the world can I tell the difference between you and Marianne?

The difference, dear ones, is that Marianne is a Rock Star. She wears black liquid eyeliner, a bustier, and one of those headset microphones. Her choreography, as you will witness, is second only to Paul Abdul's in the seminal "Opposites Attract" music video. I, on the other hand, have greasy hair, zero costume changes, and am forced—due to severe financial constraints—to carry around my own equipment.

See you there!

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Pox On My House

One by one, we fall.

First it is the scratchy throat. This is quickly followed by sneezing, headache, and runny nose. Lea went first, and now it's Vida. Risa's eyes will be puffy and red-rimmed by Tuesday; by Wednesday she'll take to bed. I can't completely succomb, of course, or else our lives will dissolve Seltzer in hot water. I just exist in the I-don't-feel-so-great-but-that's-okay stage, try to drink plenty of fluids, and—this is most important—distract myself. Yesterday, for example, I took two Dayquil and an Advil and then the spousal unit and I joined four other couples for bocce ball and wine tasting. Since I do neither of these things and was pharmaceuctically out of my mind, it was quite the interesting afternoon. Turns out—suprise!—I have a nice touch, bocce-ily speaking. Whether I could have done it without the drugs is a mystery to be solved on another day.

An aside: Saturday night brought another get-together with 40 or 50 of my high school classmates. My sophomore-year boyfriend—upon whom I have not set eyes in at least fifteen years—arrived sporting a mohawk and excessive neck jewelry. I do not think I'm being close-minded when I proclaim that this is probably not the most flattering look for those our age. The thing I found most amusing is that people felt that his sense of style was somehow attributable to my having dated him 5,000 years ago? Wha?!! Must I take the blame for everything? Very well, then.

*strikes the Guilty! pose*

Thursday, November 03, 2005

One Of These Things Is Not Like the Other, One of These Things Just Doesn't...Belong

A few months back I completed a grant application to do some extensive Latino outreach work at R & V's school. Well, we received the grant, and I've spent much of the last ten days in various conference settings with an earpiece on, having Spanish translated into English for me and trying to strike the right balance between wanting to help and not wanting to overstep boundaries.

I enjoy this work for the obvious reasons, but also because it's like a giant hand pushing me right out of my nesting ground comfort zone. It's an amazing experience, for example, to be the person in the room who can't speak or understand the language in use. And to be the person in the room about whom others are wondering what's she doing here? It's uncomfortable. And when I'm uncomfortable, I tend to play the aloof card. Perhaps some of you have seen me do this? Well, it's not an option in this situation since it would defeat the purpose for having started the whole thing in the first place. And yet I don't want to be seem like some crazed, annoying, and overeager nutjob, either. What to do?

In one of the meetings a woman from Mexico was talking about how the Latino community is made up of many different cultures and how some of them can't stand each other. She said, "We're not like the Asians—they all get along..."


Which Asians would that be?!!

Anyways, there is much for me to think about/sort through as I gleefully spend the grant money, so if ever I am away from my bloghome for a bit, that's probably what I'm doing.

And writing, too, of course. It's slow coming, but I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

TeeVee and Mee

Okay, is anyone else tuned into this Rx For Survival: A Global Health Challenge thing on PBS? With every second that I watch, I'm inspired to add new things to my ever-growing list of irrational fears. Mosquitoes and dead birds, for example.

To give myself a little breather from fretting about the West Nile Virus, I surfed over to VH1 for a moment. What I found there was worse than the prospect of any new and mysterious disease. In fact, in its own special way it was a new and mysterious disease. It was...are you ready, are you ready for this? do you like it, do you like it like this?...Antonio Sabato, Jr. singing "Every Breath You Take." Which led me to this conclusion: some men should just stick to modeling Calvin Klein underwear and try not to expand their horizons too terribly much.

I shouldn't be allowed to watch television.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Living It Up

My parents have been in Manila now for a week. The irrefutable proof of my adulthood is that I'm fairly freaked out about it. I do not care for this gallivanting around the globe where I cannot keep an eye on them. Unlike most of the Filipinos I know, Mom and Dad do not make an annual or semi-annual trek "home." In fact, it has been about fifteen years since my dad was last in the Philippines (and longer still for Mom). It was a work-related trip, and when the spousal unit and I picked him up curbside at SFO, he stomped out his cigarette, climbed in the car, and shut the door. He said, "I'm never going back to that goddamn place again."

Which is so, so, so my father.

While making the travel plans, he announced—with an infuriating glibness that is part humor, part defense mechanism—that he will die soon. I rolled my eyes and told him he was ridiculous, but apparently there’s no way to shake a man off the tree branch of his personal truth. I guess it makes sense, then, to return to the place where he was first loosed upon the world. He is making this trip with two of his brothers and his big sister, plus (most) of their respective spouses. I believe the last time the siblings were there together was before they immigrated. Not long after this photo was taken, I think. Dad's on the far left:

It's all very sweet, I think, and I only wish I were there to watch the whole thing happen. They are far too busy having fun, apparently, to keep us posted on the family board, but an e-mail from my Auntie L. did come in earlier today. Dad just bought a lechon, she reported, and they're gonna party at Uncle P's tonight.

That's as it should be.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Fabulous 'Hood of Love

I love my neighborhood.

More specifically, I love the people who inhabit all the surrounding abodes and who can count on each other throughout the day for conversation, a rolling pin, emergency babysitting, eggs, chicken broth, school pick-up and/or drop-off, playdates, contributions to good causes, meals, books, a dvd, outdoor heaters, extra tables and chairs, advice, recipes, the thing that plugs into your car lighter that charges your laptop, news, gossip, laughter, pressure washers, a swim, solicited and unsolicited opinions, tapemeasures, etc. etc.

I believe this is rare.

We've lived many places—Vancouver, B.C., Georgetown, Alexandria, Santa Barbara, San Francisco—but this is the first time we've ever been part of a community. If you offered me, say, a 2-hour massage and a plate of french fries, I couldn't name more than two other people (San Francisco acccepted) from each of those places. I used to hope I wouldn't die while the spousal unit was traveling for work because nobody would know. He'd return from a week on the road, open the door, and be greeted by my lifeless body splayed on the floor. Not so good.

So anyways, I appreciate this place and all these good folks more than I can say, and tonight when we hang out while the kids gorge on obscene amounts of candy, I will remember to be thankful.

Happy 'Weenie, all.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Veronica Needs.

I generally do what The Wily Filipino says because, well, he's way smarter than I am. And so this is why I googled "Veronica needs." Let me present the top 10:

1. Veronica needs a diary!

2. Veronica needs to dump Duncan.

3. Veronica needs to work on the stakeout skills.

4. Veronica needs to find the crooked man who faked the sports teams' annual drug tests...

5. Veronica needs to go.

6. Veronica needs to find someway to get the boy back before her ex-husband moves several thousand miles away.

7. Veronica needs to make extra money.

8. Veronica needs a lot of help with her English, including speaking, reading, and writing.

Unfortunately, this is where the search breaks down and things like "Veronica Zwieback can fill your realtor needs," begin to appear. Bah! Never mind, I'll just finish the list myself:

9. Veronica needs to eat Whoppers:

10. Veronica needs to stop forgetting to post this:


Maybe if your child is A Very Naughty Boy, it isn't a wise choice to dress him as a ninja assassin for the Kindergarten Halloween party. I'm just...saying.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Snail Mail & Strange Male(s)

I'm feeling like quite the lucky duck, what with the snail mail treasures that continue to appear in my mailbox. Among them, a very kind postcard from Marianne Villanueva:

and a note from The Wily Filipino himself, accompanied by artwork from Izzy:

I have the same set of notecards as Sunny, by the way, and am betting that most of us do. Let's use them, people! (I'll have to add images later because Blogger is being rude and uncooperative)

An aside: why is it that two heterosexual men on an outing together will often go to great lengths to avoid any semblance of intimacy? Today, as I engaged in my Wednesday ritual of lunching solo and people-watching, I saw these two guys arrive at the restaurant in the same car, walk in with a space of four feet between them, and take seats at the counter leaving, of course, one empty stool between them. They occasionally grunted at each other while eating. I have seen these kinds of men sit in a booth, but position themselves diagonally. Cuz heaven forbid they maintain full-frontal eye contact. This reminded me of riding MUNI and watching young males sit back-to-back and talk to each other over their shoulders. Sometimes when the bus was empty, they'd sit a number of rows apart and yell at each other. Cuz heaven forbid they share a quiet conversation.

Boys are weird.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Beasts Beneath My Window

At 2:00 this morning, the spousal unit and I were awakened by the horror-movie sounds of two animals (type unknown) either

1) making mad, passionate, beastly love


2) attempting to rip each other's hearts out for the purpose of a) nourishment; b) kicks; or c) sating their mutual beastly hatred.

Really, it was gross. The sounds were guttural, yet melodic. A cross between a newborn's cries, a gurgling brook of blood, and the stifled scream of a C movie actress about to be slain by a masked fiend with mommy issues.

"WTF? WTF is that?"

"Raccoons or something."


And then for some reason, I proceeded to have the world's longest cough attack. Not wanting to disturb the SU's sleep any further, I took my pillow, dug hopelessly for blankets in the linen closet (I produced three infant ones that the girls now use for their dolls), and lay down in the den. I placed blanket #1 over my feet and knees, blanket #2 over my center, and blanket #3 over my top, where it rested just under my chin. Then I tried not to move, for moving would upset the delicate balance of blanket coverage. Needless to say, not much sleep. At 3:25, Lea awoke screaming "Mom! Mom!" I stumbled down the hall and into her room, actually quite thankful for at least being in a bed with actual blankets. She threw a leg over me, kissed my forehead, and promptly fell back asleep. I, however, did not.

I woke up forty minutes late. Forty minutes! And yet, and yet...I made it out the door on time looking quite put together and with the children properly fed, dressed, coiffed, and jacket-ed.

This is dangerous.

Do you know why this is dangerous? Because it proves that I can actually sleep in for an extra 40 minutes and still meet our time obligations.

If there were a way to circle this back around to the Beasts Beneath My Window, I would. But it turns out...I'm not that good.


RIP Rosa Parks

Friday, October 21, 2005

More on Beauty

Thoughts on beauty are hurling through cyberspace faster than you can say "Imelda." Joanne's even started a whole blog on the subject. Gladys is putting together a panel which turned into a conference which will likely morph into God only knows what. She of the rhinestone barette and sparkly pink lip gloss is talking anthology. And Bino? Bino's not only looking for his Pinoy Holiday Blogger Party invitation, he's ready to throw his dollar's worth of centavos on the table and points out—quite accurately—that the "Miss Unibers" chapter (and, hell, the whole novel!) from Umbrella Country more than entitles him to deliver his treatise on beauty. To which I can only say...bring it, Bino!

Meanwhile, I was reading an interview with Nigerian writer Chris Abani, who has this to say about African writing:

African art must exist in an appreciative context that is outside of the power of Westernization to reduce or empower. We allow access to the Western reader but also say we don't care about what you think. This is what we are trying to show you. If you get it, fine. If you don't get it, we don't care.

And while this has all sorts of obvious applications to our writing, all the recent discussion made me think about his words in terms guessed I'm so annoyed with how I continue to choose to feel angry about being fetishized, objectified, made invisible/inconsequential, thought of as "less than," etc. etc. I want to pull a Chris Abani, at last. I want to say—and truly feel—If you get me, fine. If you don't, I don't care.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Free Falling

Seriously, I could watch this for hours. I wonder if there's a way to make it into a screensaver?

Fund Free Mammograms

Only 12 days left for the Breast Cancer Site's "fund free mammograms" campaign. All you have to do is click. Ah, so free and easy...

See how easy?

Overheard @ Safeway

One line over at Safeway, a young brown man wrote a check for a few items and handed it to the (also) brown checker-ess. Unfortunate timing being what it is, there appeared to be some malfunction in the cash register's check verification function. These things are generally cleared up in a few minutes, a person's groceries are bagged, and they make their way out to their car, navigate their way home, and consume their beer and potato chips in peace.

Not so for this guy.

For this guy, minute after minute passed until everyone within listening distance grew uncomfortable. I was genuinely feeling for him until...until...until he said this to the checker-ess: "This isn't happening 'cuz I'm brown is it?"

Fifteen seconds of silence.

The checker-ess, who looked for all the world like she could have actually birthed the young customer, then assumed a voice so frosty I will never forget it. She said, "I'm brown, too."

At this point, I was almost overwhelmed by my maternal instinct, which was directing me to walk firmly over to this boy-man, take him by the shoulders, and say, "Look at me. Look at me, right here in my eyes. Okay, this is unacceptable behavior. What's the right thing to do now?"

And he would say, "I dunno."

And I would say, "Yes, you do. Think about it for a minute."

And he would mumble a pouty, "Sorry," to the checker.

But I didn't do that. I left with my bags, and have been thinking about it ever since.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Here She Comes...Miss Whatever

Lots of interesting discussion over at Gladys' about the phenomenon of beauty queendom as it applies to Pinays. Oh so luckily, this was never a "thing" in my family, at least not amongst my generation. Our mothers and lolas, of course, held various and sundry titles. So while I find the modern concept simultaneously vomit-inducing, embarrassing, and hilarious, I confess to being awash with a nostalgic feeling of "Oh, look!" when I see, for example, this photo of my Mom at a fashion show/beauty parade of some sort.

I don't know how to account for this.

Maybe it's simply because it's touching to see pictures of your parents when they were so young. Or maybe it's because I harbor the mistaken belief that it was a more innocent time, and that the vintage cult of beauty has nothing whatsoever to do with today's bizarre abomination of what used to be a little bit of lipstick and some powder.

I guess I'm just in denial because of course objectification is objectification, and the old-school pageants surely built the shoddy runway (heh heh) for what happens in our community these days.

Anyways, this topic has always fascinated me and often makes its way into my fiction. In one of my stories, "Beauty Queens," two young girls schlep around their Lola's wake, supremely annoyed that the woman they remember as fierce, brave, and loving is, after her death, being recalled most memorably as a beauty queen.

So I'm counting on Gladys to arrive at the blogger party with her tiara slightly skewed. And her scepter? Her scepter should be used to impale...something. Suggestions?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Return of the V.

Tentatively re-entering the blogosphere, here. I've decided to take Jean's advice and not try to force things. All I get for it, after all, is a page of the world's clunkiest prose. And I'm sure you've figured out by now that I care nothing for clunky prose, clunky shoes, clunky jewelry, or clunky anything, really.

I shall now focus on the many bright moments that have happened on the premises in the last few days:

1) Playdate with Izzy and The Wily Filipino! (aka Sunny). I have to give it up for Izzy, who held her own while in the company of three extremely loud and unsubtle children. Izzy is very Zen. Here, she is a superb influence on Lea, who would normally be sitting atop the table trying to decorate cookies using only her toes:

When Sunny & Izzy first arrived, Vida said, "So, how do you and Sunny know each other?" And I said, "Actually, we don't!" We had, in fact, never met. Unless, of course, you count Sunny walking out on an event at which I was reading (something about my piercing voice and unholy delivery of material, methinks). Anyways, we became fast friends and are now hatching a master plan for...hold on to your Ashton Kutcher wedding fedoras for this one...a possible Pinoy Holiday Blogger Party. We shall see.

Now, for your viewing pleasure,one pan of the girls' Halloween cookies right before they were put in the oven (prizes, I think, for anyone who can identify what shapes, exactly, these are supposed to be):

And here are the remains, along with sugared-up smiles from 3 out of 4 playdaters:

Thanks for the pictures, Sunny!

2) A postcard from an albino monkey in Nashville! Yay!:

3) And a big 'ol fat letter from a certain poet whose certain 2nd book has just been accepted for publication by a certain publisher. Yay again!:

I was so ridiculously excited to receive a letter that I tore it open as I walked back to the house, promptly sat down on the porch to read it, and ignored all screams and pleas for help from my kids until I was finished. The sun shone through the leaves on the birch trees, and I was happy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Requesting Permission To...

...oh, wait.

I don't have to request permission.

It's my blog.

And so: I'm taking a breather, my lovelies.

To patch the holes in my bucket.

And whatnot.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hole In the Bucket

Have you ever gone to the well, dipped your bucket, and—with complete faith—hauled it up only to find it...empty? Believing it's some kind of mistake, did you dip it again? And get the same results? It's like that with my writing now.

I'll admit I haven't quite found my rhythm with this whole Kindergarten and preschool thing. There were supposed to be these pockets of time in the week for writing (that was the idea, anyway), but hell if I know where they are. At night, I'm like anyone else: my body and mind call for rest. But maybe night is my missed opportunity? I don't know, but something's gotta give.

I'm gonna go bang my head against the wall for a bit now. And tomorrow? Tomorrow is another chance.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The I-Can't-Focus-On-One-Thing Post

So much fun to read all about Michelle & Rhett's Super Gigantic Big Day right here, here, here. And look! The gorgeous bride and handsome groom found some time to get in on the blog action. I love all the pictures.


Yay! Kepler's—finest bookstore around these parts—has survived a brush with death.


Candy corn is so...1975? I believe it's time for Pumpkin Heads to ascend to their rightful place in the Halloween candy hierarchy. But you must pronounce the name of this candy thus: pun • kin • hayeds.


Lorna Dee's new book is ready, willing, and able to satisfy your every poetic desire. Special deal for blog buddies!


The "Call to Pens" circle is on the mend, people! Weez is soon to send a letter to Nick and receive one from Eileen. Phew.

Meanwhile, Bec celebrates penpal-ism.


And, finally, a picture of the little ones as they sauntered into the Big Fresno Fair:

This was, of course, well before the cotton candy.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Little House on the...OH. MY. GOD.

It's some thirty-odd years later, and I can still remember exactly where the Westlake branch of the Daly City Public Library shelved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Some kids got their jollies (do you remember that? do you remember "getting your jollies?") high-stepping it to the 7-11 on 87th Street for a Baby Ruth and some Red Vines, but I wasn't (usually) among them. No, no, no. If you were looking for me, you could find me at the library, diligently working my way from Little House in the Big Woods through The First Four Years, while keeping a safe distance from the trenchcoat-wearing Library Flasher. Ewww. Ewww.

Anyways, today whilst kickin' it with Lea at the bookstore, I decided Risa and Vida were ready for their introduction to the Little House books. I snatched up a nice copy of Little House in the Big Woods, all excited at the prospect of sharing my precious childhood memories (okay, except for the Library Flasher part) with the next generation of book lovers.

Precious memories my arse.

On page 3, Laura is menaced by wolves. On page 4, she wakes in the morning to take her customary look at the beautiful oak trees in front of her house and sees...a dead deer hanging from a branch. On page 6, Pa skins the sucker, builds a smoker, and prepares venison to last through winter. Next, heroic Pa rescues the family pig from the clutches of a black bear in the middle of the night! On page 13, Laura is covering her ears so she does not have to hear this very same pig squeal as Pa and Uncle Henry take a knife to its throat. But, and I quote, "...After that, Butchering Time was great fun."

I cannot even describe the looks of abject horror on the faces of my daughters.

And yet...I continued. By the time Pa removed the pig's bladder and blew it up as a balloon for Laura and Mary to play with ("They could throw it into the air and spat it back and forth with their hands."), I was laughing so damn hard I could barely breathe. Seeing me laugh like this made all three kids start laughing, too, and we ended up writhing on the floor, gasping for air. "Okay, okay, that's enough!" I said. "No! NO! Read some more!"

So I did. I finished off with the section where Pa skins the pig's tail and thrusts a sharp stick through the large end so Laura and Mary can get their jollies roasting it over some blazing coals. "It was nicely browned all over," exults the omniscient narrator, "and how good it smelled!"


Speaking of pigs (and other farm-type animals), we're off to the Valley for our annual trip to the Big Fresno Fair.

You are so jealous.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Got a Pen? Find a Pal.

Ah, the lovely Ms. Lorna Dee Cervantes (she really was named after Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, a small box of which I insist on purchasing whenever we're on a road trip that necessitates a stop at a gas station. And, no, I do not share.) is keeping The Pen alive! She received my letter, and has this to say on her blog:

If you're reading this, email someone whose blog you read & admire for their address now. Write & mail a letter if you're feeling blue and think they are too. Include something cherished. (post art!) Let me know if you do. ps - beware! oops, forgot BC is a foreign country! Make sure you include the correct postage. (Overheard in Blogville: "How much is a stamp?") 37 cents, last I counted, in Aztlan. And, btw, I don't count, I'm expecting something cool from Nick! Try for someone who hasn't received one yet.

Thanks to penpal Ver for this light, for keeping the pens and friends flowing.

Please indulge my impulses and allow me to channel Eileen Tabios for a moment:

Moi generates light.

And this makes me happy. But, wait, there's more happiness to announce! Hold on to your broomsticks...the wily filipino and his itty-bitty Izzy are coming over for a Halloween cookie-making playdate.

You are so jealous.


P.S. Is the rumor true? Does Nick give good mail? Do tell.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How to Go From Zero to Happy in 5 Minutes

The thing about my family's web site is that it is full of mystery. First of all, people register and we have no idea who they are. When someone finally asks, the resounding silence echoes through cyberspace.

There's also this: my cousin Luj, who rejuvenated our already considerable family devotion by putting the whole site together, has concocted an elaborate and utterly impossible to understand system of participation levels. These levels are, of course, named after food. I believe I've been stuck on "Gulaman Level" for more than a year now. And I have made 951 posts. Nine hundred and fifty-one! Should this not grant me "Lechon Level"? And what is the penultimate level, anyway? We have no idea.

But the most mysterious thing about the site is its uncanny ability to cheer you up when life is sorta sucky. Take just now, for example. Just now I was thinking, "Whoa, despite my many blessings, these past few days have been sorta sucky." So I began to idly scan the photo album, and I came upon this photo, which was like a refreshing glass of ice water thrown directly over my head. These are some of my cousins:

Look at those beeeeyooootiful faces! This made me happy. And then I listened to some Alejandro Fernandez and became happier still (I admit to this only because I have been living in fear of ob outing my little musical secret). Now, I'm fit to burst and am going off to put pen to paper.

'Til the morrow, gentle people.

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Everything's Scary"

I'm spent.

I don't know if I can emotionally stomach another morning running from preschool in tears. What's the problem, you ask? For a week now, Lea has been in freak-out mode when I take her to school. The amount of mental and physical energy this requires is astounding. By 9:30 in the morning, all I want to do is climb into bed. A brief chronicle of my descent into Hell:

Day 1: "Mama, I don't want you to go," she says. This is the first time she's expressed any sort of trepidation about being left at preschool. Believing it's a fluke of some sort, I stay with her for a few minutes. A few minutes turns into 45 minutes. For some reason, she snaps out of it at that point, and I leave.

Day 2: "Mama, I don't want you go to," she says. Again. I stay for fifteen minutes. Then I go to Teacher J. and ask him what I should do. He tells me that this is her way of saying that she loves me and if there is any possible way for her to stay with me, she will attempt to find it. When you're ready, he says, kiss her good-bye and tell her you'll see her at Celebration Time. After ten more minutes, I do this. She wraps her arms and legs around me like a monkey, and I bring her to Teacher JP. I pry her off of me, and leave her with him. I then run out of the classroom bawling. Teacher J. meets me in the parking lot and gives me a hug. "It's hard," he says. To which I silently reply, "No fucking shit." When I call the school 30 minutes later, they tell me she's having a great day.

Day 3: She will not get out of the car. "I'm scared," she says. The tears stream. "Everybody's scary." I attempt, unsuccessfully, to refute her claim. I do and say all the stuff I'm supposed to say and still she will not get out of the car. I leave her there and go into the school. "I can't even get her out of the car," I say. We talk child psychology for a few minutes. As usual, the theories are perfectly sound. Executing the "solutions" is futile because the damn "solutions" don't work. Finally, I say, "Okay. What would you do if you were me?" Three teachers say: "Bring her in." I don't see her in the car at first. Why? Because she has climbed all the way into the back and is crouching in the corner. I can't pull her out. I have to release all the seats until it's totally flat and I can drag her out. She's crying, she's doing the stiff-as-a-board move, she's begging. I manage to carry her down the stairs while she screams, "I want to go home! Where it's cozy!" Teacher JP takes her from me, and I make for the stairs, crying as usual. When I call the school 30 minutes later, they say she's doing "super."

And when I get there to pick her up, she's all smiles and cotton candy. She talks incessantly about painting and playing and singing and whatnot. When we pick up her sisters, she tells them, "I had a great time at pweeeschool." And I guess she did. And I guess this is going to get easier.

But I'm not going to count on it just yet.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Into The Cut Up Machine

Just for kicks, I sent a paragraph from my story, "Beauty Queens" through the Cut Up Machine over at Language is a Virus. No doubt it's much better with poetry, but you all know I don't have any of that.

So here's the original:

One day when I was seven years old I woke up obsessed with the word 'biscuit' (the week before it was 'crisp'). I spent some time in front of the mirror saying it over and over again. I liked the sound of it as it came out of my mouth, my tongue wrapping around the hard edges, hitting against the back of my two front teeth when the final 't' sounded. I was so overwhelmed by my love of the word that I mixed together oatmeal, flour, and orange juice and made one hundred and five small biscuits. When no one would eat them I cried and brought them to my Lola. She laid them out in her garden like a thousand gifts and held me on her lap while we watched the birds feast.

And here's the "Cut Up" (I've bold-faced what I find interesting juxtapositions):

out my that woke her eat word birds my love again. was as hundred by mouth, and on of it eat front front the on it obsessed love feast. love I hitting of hundred One wrapping sounded. tongue against teeth 't' and in sound no final against before small we her we word love garden on tongue we the two over thousand I front in hard word obsessed I together them I we again. and wrapping made I and I time time it seven her When old we by and flour, of and years biscuits. 't' When When came spent over I eat up of word tongue around and mixed I by on it brought when when I would years years them some on oatmeal, I flour, sound her mixed of was lap front

The oral fixation in the original paragraph is quite plain, but putting it through the Cut Up Machine multiplied it by five. This will no doubt amuse The Chatelaine, to whom I recently sent a blurb for her new Blurb Project. She responded, rather...I don't know...violently that "everything is about sex" with me and that she is not fooled—no she is certainly not!—by my Kindergarten vignettes.

And I'm all, "Wha?!!"

Anyhoots...if you're in the mood, put something of yours through the Cut Up Machine and post it in the comments. If you're feeling shy, there's no need to include your original.


Finally, here's a link round-up to what some of our "A Call to Pens" participants have to say about their letter-writing experience:

Bec says this, barbara jane says that, and our resident bride-to-be chimes in, too.

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Jack 'n' Poy On Steroids

Somebody created this.

I'm stunned.

All the possible outcomes read like random lines from the Mead notebook of a 14-year-old boy battling a bad case of acne and suffering from a certain social anxiety that keeps him from asking, I don't know, some girl named Sierra to the Winter Formal. Take for example, these:

Devil hurls rock, breathes fire, immune to scissors & gun, casts lightning, eats snakes, possesses human.

Air blows out fire, erodes rock, evaporates water, chokes devil, tarnishes gun, freezes dragon, creates lightning.


Speaking of things that stun me, Joanne successfully completed the Maui marathon and contributed $3,680.00 to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

Which makes me think...Joanne must not have monkey mind. Nope. Joanne is a woman who can focus. And focus is something to which I aspire.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wherefore Art Thou, Weez?

I owe my blog a post or two, but for now I only have time to say: "Weez, where are you? Stop exceeding your bandwidth! And...Eileen needs your snail mail address!"

Well, wait. I think I have time for more.

I mailed my letter to Lorna Dee yesterday, quite miffed at myself for not being able to locate a decades-old supply of sealing wax to make things all...pirate-like. Or swashbuckling English hero-like.

Writing the letter was a lesson in enforced stillness, complete with much staring off into ceiling corners. No easy task for me, as my thoughts go every which way these days. I'm fairly certain I sounded nothing like I sound here. I was noticeably un-smartass, for example. No sarcasm, no humor. Just...thoughts. It sounded much more (I think) like my private journal.

I loved taking the time to write—legibly!—by hand. I even loved my aesthetic struggle to keep every line relatively straight. Thank hooters I managed to do so, otherwise I would have gone back over and over again 'til I got it right. By the time I signed off, my hand was tired and my writing showed it.

I never could have completed my little missive during the kids' waking hours! That's quite the opposite from blogging, which I can do while simultaneously overseeing a game of dominoes, cooking dinner, answering e-mail, and IMing with my brother. All of which makes me wonder if I'm ever truly present when it comes to performing my day-to-day stuff? Monkey mind.

Poor Eileen aside, how are the rest of you doing?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Homeboy + Pixie Goth + Suburban Mom=...

...well, I don't know what the hell it equals, but I had a good time. It would take one crusty cynic to find something wanting about sitting on a rooftop in the sun-drenched Mission, staring at the stunning view of the city, eating brunch (sprinkled liberally with some kinda crazy spiced nuts), and chatting away with ob and ms. bj.

And now, a quiz:

Match the brunchers with their drinks:

1. barbara jane
2. ob
3. ver

a. diet coke
b. mojito
c. agua

And, no, there are no prizes.** Can we just once take a quiz simply for the intrinsic satisfaction? Geez.

Post-brunch, we enjoyed a mandatory visit to Mitchell's, where I felt—quite acutely—the loss of my Lola. Her freezer was always stocked with plastic tubs of Mitchell's ice cream: mango and ube, mostly. The melancholy was brief, though, as there were important decisions to make regarding choice of flavor(s) and whatnot. We had plenty of time to do this since there were approximately 400 people in line before us.

And now, another quiz:

Match the ice cream eater with their cool treat of choice:

1. barbara jane
2. ob
3. ver

a. double scoop dulce de leche y mexican chocolate
b. mexican chocolate
c. kalamansi sorbet

Yes, indeed, a most pleasant trip into the city. Many thanks to the nebulous-no-more couple for allowing me to chaperone their Sunday afternoon adventure.

**Speaking of prizes, I walked away with ob's chapbook Sorta Rican, which I am very much looking forward to reading. You're so jealous.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Picture This

How did it happen, do you think, that little boys are now more fussy than little girls about...their hair? I have highly scientific proof to back me up, so don't even attempt to refute me. What proof is this, Ver? you ask. Well, I'll tell you: Picture Day, 2005.

Imagine if you will, eighteen 5-year-olds standing in a single fidgety line. The girls either wear outfits that their well-meaning mothers clearly forced them to don (does anyone remember Garanimals?), or they wear these sort of boho chic ensembles that are charming in a "I'm-five-I-can-get-away-with-this-now-back-off" way. The thing of true note about the girls, though, is that they exude a free-flowing wildness, and that this wildness makes itself known via their long hair, which—to a girl (except for one who arrives every day with ultra-tight, oxygen-depriving braids)—is clipped on one side to keep them from appearing, I don't know, completely feral.

The boys? The boys are dressed up and apparently share the same stylist. They wear rep stripe vests and button-down shirts, pressed khakis and red cable sweaters. And the hair! The boys collectively sport more product on their noggins than I use in two weeks' time. Most of them go for the pronounced spikes made popular by that blandly cute kid in Jerry Maguire. I hear one mom say to another, "You know, he does it by himself. Ten minutes in front of the mirror every morning." And the other answers, "Same here!"

Special prize, though, goes to the two excellent and superbly shiny fauxhawks (they are basically bending it like Beckham) in the group. One must give credit where credit is due, and so I say to the mom of fauxhawk #1: "Oh my God, his hair is fantastic." She points with her chin to fauxhawk #2 and says, "It's because of that kid! He had his that way on the first day of school and ever since then my son's been telling me, 'I want it just like F's. Just like his.'"

And so I kind of like this, this gentle twist on things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Halloween? I Can Do That.

I'm all a-twitter, you see, for I have received my first assignment as Head Room Parent: The Kindergarten Halloween Party. As you can imagine, I'm all over this. In fact, I'm losing my mind. My inspiration, of course, is Martha Stewart. Because ex-con or no ex-con, the woman—and her glue gun-slinging minions—rocks the craft-bah (get it? did you get that? did you?).

And so I am currently gathering all the supplies to make a Ver-ified version of this Halloween tree:

I'm sorry. I'm probably scaring you.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jollibee Cap Off To Barbara Jane!

So, let me be honest.

It's not the easiest thing on the ego (or, okay, maybe this is just me) to meet a beautiful and wickedly gifted Pinay writer. The simple truth is that insecurity and jealousy can play some nasty, dirty little tricks. But the beautiful and wickedly gifted Barbara Jane Reyes ain't having that. What I'm trying to say—and making a mess of it, I might add—is that there are many reasons why I am pleased to call bj my friend, the main one being that we were able to become friends at all. So it's with much, much happiness (and the goofiest grin on my face) that I help spread the word:

Barbara Jane Reyes has been selected as the recipient of the 2005 James Laughlin Award for her second collection of poems, Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press). The James Laughlin Award is given to commend and support a poet’s second book of poetry. The award was established by a gift to the Academy from the Drue Heinz Trust in honor of the poet and publisher James Laughlin (1914–1997). Ms. Reyes will receive a cash prize of $5,000, and the Academy will purchase copies of Poeta en San Francisco for distribution to its members. This year’s judges were James Longenbach, Mary Jo Bang, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Her work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and appears or is forthcoming in Asian Pacific American Journal, Chain, Interlope, Nocturnes (Re)view, North American Review, Tinfish, Versal, in the anthologies Babaylan (Aunt Lute, 2000), Eros Pinoy(Anvil, 2001), Going Home to a Landscape (Calyx, 2003), Not Home But Here(Anvil, 2003), Pinoy Poetics(Meritage, 2004), and forthcoming in Red Light: Superheroes, Saints and Sluts(Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2005), and Graphic Poetry(Hong Kong: Victionary, 2005). Her first book, Gravities of Center, was published by Arkipelago Books (San Francisco) in 2003.

From the judge’s citation for the James Laughlin Award:

“If William Blake were alive and well and sitting on a eucalyptus branch in the hills above the bay, this is the poetry he would aspire to write.” —James Longenbach

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Call to Pens: The Draw

So, players, here's the draw for our letter-writing project, posted with apologies for not being able to include a picture of the names laying all askance in my Jollibee cap; the ol' digital camera is out of order:

Nick will write to
Creen who will write to
Paqui who will write to
Tracey who will write to
Gura who will write to
Bec who will write to
bj who will write to
Patrick who will write to
Ver who will write to
Lorna who will write to
Eileen who will write to
Weez who will write to...

Needless to say (this is where you wonder why, then, Ver, do you say it, and I don't respond because, well, I'm ignoring you), I wish I could be a fly in the envelope for these pairings.

So...let's see. Next step is to check out your partner's blog, send him/her an e-mail to get their snail mail address, and post a letter around/about a week from today. Filipino time, Indichica time, and I'm-just-a-regular-person-gimme-a-break-time are all acceptable reasons for being up to two days late. After three days, you're on your own.

(I don't know about you, but I'm going to spend the first few days attempting to return my penmanship to its former glory.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tongue-Eating Bug

I'm not sure I needed to know about this. The bug eats a fish tongue down to the nub and then latches on to become the replacement tongue.

Who's in charge here?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Call to Pens

The following rhetorical question does not apply to barbara jane or to ob, both of whom have been getting more than their share of what I'm about to discuss. To the victor(s) go the spoil(s), after all. But anyways...

How long has it been since a mail carrier delivered a letter—an actual letter, mind you, not a birthday card or postcard (though both of these are really quite nice)—to your mailbox? A handwritten letter, complete with random ink smudges, occasional cross-outs and, if you're lucky, doodles? If you're anything like me (and may the Greek gods help you if you are), your answer is, oh, about 43,000 eons ago. If you're anything like me, it's been so long you can't even remember.

I love letters. When I was around ten years old, I had a pen pal who lived in Scotland. She'd write me letters written on that groovy light blue "par avion" paper that folded up to become its own envelope. And even though the letters were completely mundane, even though they were devoid of color, excitement, or any proof whatsoever that she possessed an ounce of imagination, I literally jumped up and down every time I received one. Why? Because (I repeat) I love letters.

So I propose something radical. A project, of sorts. I propose a call to pens.

This is how it works. If you, too, want to receive a real letter in the mail, leave a comment anytime in the next 2 days. I will then throw the names in a hat (I really will. I'll throw them in my Jollibee baseball cap and take a picture for ya), and pull a name. That first person will have to write a letter to the second name I pull, the second to the third, etc. etc. until we get to the last name. That person, of course, will have to write to the first person whose name I pulled. This, of course, requires an exchange of snail mail addresses which you will work out amongst yourselves.

AND blog about the experience. But without quoting the letter. (I'm sorta interested, you see, in whether or not you will write differently in a handwritten letter than you do on your blog. And if you will write differently knowing it will not show up on the recipient's blog.)

This is the point where you say, "Oh my God, Ver, this sounds so fun I can't even stand it."

But we have to have rules:

1) You must have a blog.
2) If you don't already read the blog of the person to whom you are writing, you are first obligated to read 10 of their recent posts.
3) You must mail the letter within one week of finding out who you're writing to.
4) You must agree to blog about the experience.

Maybe this is a little scary? Oh, I don't care.

Now...who's in?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Yes, Miss Alli

I don't know who Miss Alli is, but Miss Alli is right:

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where's the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people?

I want to hear about how he was demanding that extraordinary steps be taken. I want to hear about how he sent his lawyers into a room—he had four days, you know—and demanded that they come back in an hour with a plan for him to send the Marines into New Orleans with 100 trucks of food and water, posse comitatus or not. I want to hear that he was panicked. Because I was panicked. Everyone I know was panicked. Everyone I know was gnashing their teeth with helpless rage because they couldn't get in a car, drive down there, and drive a load of homeless Louisiana residents back home with them for soup and a goddamn hot bath. I want to hear that he acted at some point out of genuine despondency about the fact that citizens of the country he is supposed to be running were being starved and dehydrated in a hellish, fetid prison. We are dancing around now about whether it is his failure or not his failure. Where is the decency that would tell him that he is the president, and FEMA is part of his administration, and this failure is his to own and apologize for, whether other people also were wrong or not?

Read the whole post right here.


[awkward segueway]


And now, a favor:

I trust that all of you will help to keep me in line. That you will not let my sudden rise to power go to my head. That you will be friend enough to say, "Oh, but Ver. You have gone too far." I need you now more than ever before. Why? Because I have just been granted the position of...hold onto your laptops for this one...Head Room Parent for Ms. A's Kindergarten class.

(I'm on a double dose of DayQuil.

In case you were wondering.)

(And, Of Course, I Caught a Cold)

The rhythm of our days is changing, and though it's interesting in an "I-don't-think-we're-in-Kansas-anymore" kinda way, I've never been good with change. I fall on my face, engage in petty dramas, and generally raise a ruckus until I finally collapse in submission.

Our weekday mornings are like bad slapstick now, the highlight being the six or so minutes I run around with a hairbrush yelling nonsense like, "If you don't want to brush it, why don't we just shave off all your hair? Yeah, yeah, that's what we'll do. We'll shave! it! all! off!" And then there's breakfast. If I do not start it at 7:26 and set it on the table by 7:34, all is lost. These, my friends, are the eight minutes on whose shoulders stand all the minutes of the remaining day. While they eat, I have ten minutes to make myself presentable (which, by the way, is about ten less than I actually require).

Breakfast is followed by The Big Push. If I turn the key in the lock at 8:05, if the girls are buckled in their booster seats at 8:09, if I pull away from the curb at 8:10, I am victorious. And to the victor, of course, go the spoils.** In my case, two hours and fifteen minutes of...silence.

**Yes, for better or worse, I'm into Rome.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Our Own Voice: September '05

The new issue of Our Own Voice is online, so if you're inclined to take a look at my story Bernie Aragon, Jr. Looks For Love, please do. And thank you to Luisa Igloria for her comments.

I'm looking forward to some quiet time to read the whole issue, particularly Jon Pineda's poetry, the interview with Sabina Murray, the essays by Dean Francis Alfar and Leonard Casper and, well, just about everything. An embarrassment of riches, if ya ask me.

Many thanks again to the folks at Our Own Voice for giving Bernie a place to hang up his apron.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What Is That Saying...

...about an apple not falling far from the tree? Here is Barbara Bush being interviewed on a television show after showing her support at the Houston Astrodome:

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this—this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

I think maybe Junior was home-schooled.

(via Editor & Publisher)


Moving on to something that makes me happy: how can you keep from sending wet, sloppy love in the direction of a web site whose tag line is, "Paper, productivity & passion"? Well, you can't. My new obsession: D*I*Y Planner.


And, finally, a quiz: What is the #1 way to keep Ver from making a running start on the many, many things she must do today?

Answer: When taking the big girls to Kindergarten, make sure that Lea falls down on the playground and gets the world's nastiest asphalt burn. Because you know what I just realized? A happy Lea is my kryptonite; an unhappy Lea is my downfall.

*love ya like my little one loves band-aids*

Friday, September 02, 2005


So it's a little ridiculous for me to blog just to say that I'm not going to blog today. I feel somehow...inappropriate. My anger isn't constructive, and I'm not saying/thinking anything that anyone else isn't already saying/thinking.

Thanks to Rich for posting the transcript of Mayor Nagin's radio interview. So far he's the only politician I've heard/read who's more concerned about our people than he is about covering his own ass.

Mercy Corps. Be the change.