Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Oh, Dear...

...I'm hooked.

Not In the Mood

My blog (forlornly): But it's been three days.
Me: You're counting?
My blog: Well...yes.
Me: Why are you counting? That's so juvenile. Any anyways, I blogged yesterday.
My blog: That doesn't count. It was just a degrading illustration of the President.
Me (rolling eyes): Whatever.
My blog: Now who's being juvenile? 'Whatever?' I hate that.
Me: I'm not in the mood, okay? We watched The Sea Inside, and I'm exhausted from sobbing.
My blog: Your visitors will be disappointed. Oscar will stop striking the genuflection pose when speaking of you.
Me (worried): You think?
My blog: The only hits you'll get will be from losers googling "Jessica + Simpson + shaking + ass."
Me: I'm busy, okay? I have to send A.D.T his prize for winning my Friday contest. And I have to sweep the kitchen because although this black slate is quite the sexy beast of flooring, it throws into gross relief any bread crumbs that land upon it. And there are many, many crumbs because I purchased too much Acme bread at the Ferry Building.
My blog (smugly): I thought you weren't in the mood.
Me: I'm not.
My blog: Whatever.

Friday, May 27, 2005

First-Ever Friday Photo-planation Contest

I took this picture yesterday afternoon.

The comment-ator who most pleases me with his/her explanation of this snap shall win a copy of Going Home to a Landscape which includes work not only by me, but by some of the hottest, sexiest, brainiest, blogging-est Pinays on the net: The Chatelaine! The barbara jane! The Jean Vengua! The Gura! The Leny Strobel! and more.

But wait!

If per chance you are already the proud owner of Going Home to a Landscape and would rather receive a different prize, you have only to ask and you shall instead be granted a hardcover copy of Tess Holthe's When the Elephants Dance. If you already have both of these, then you are outta suerte. But do play along anyways.

What's Going on Here?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Soldier's Story

So I read this article a few days ago via Arts Journal, and I continue to be intrigued by it:

The National Endowment for the Arts—whose past endeavours include funding controversial art projects such as Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix immersed in luminous urine that enraged conservatives in the US—is running a new literary programme. The government agency is turning fighters into writers as part of “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience." The idea is to encourage servicemen and women to write down their stories. Dana Gioia, the chairman of the NEA, says this is an attempt to “give a voice to people who often think of themselves as silent” and to preserve “the testimony of men and women who saw the events directly."

I think this is far more helpful than sending our pampered pop stars (Nick & Jessica's Tour of Duty, anyone?) overseas. For while I have no doubt that the sight of Jessica Simpson shaking her ass while she shatters windows with her singing is as uplifting an experience as any it is, alas, fleeting. Nick and Jess can get you through the night, but writing? Writing can you get you through anything.

Quite the impressive list of teachers, too. These soldier-writers and their families could conceivably complete tome after tome (or perhaps "first draft after first draft" is more accurate) if you believe reports like this one that says we might occupy Iraq for another five years...

Ver: Mime of the Future

When I am around people, my Insane Clown Posse is usually in tow, and though I make every attempt to still engage in adult conversation, these talks are often grossly unsatisfying. Why? Because it's difficult to pay attention to my conversational partner(s) while simultaneously fielding questions like, "Mom, remember when we found that worm? That worm? The one with the babies?" and "Mom, if Lea poops in the potty, can we go get ice cream?" and "Mom, can you fix my ponytail?"

*strikes the Edward Munsch scream pose*

Yes, yes, I'm working on this. But in the meantime, many of my better exchanges occur via e-mail. And I noticed the lamest thing: I was recounting one of these exchanges to my brother when he came over for dinner the other night, and as I did so, I typed in the air. I even hit the "send" key—with dramatic flourish—when I finished a statement.

What is this all about? Am I gearing up for a future as a mime? When I tell someone an anecdote involving, let's say, a bicycle, will I begin to pedal my feet in the air?

Stay tuned for the answer to these and other exciting questions...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Anything But

I have two stories I need to submit and—this always, always happens—the idea of working on them gets me all scrunched up inside. It's like when someone you know is quickly walking towards you for an embrace and you cannot recall their name or how you know them so you feign a glance at your watch, turn around, and run. Lately I've been letting myself off the hook by pretending that this avoidance is part of my "process." Which is not only obnoxious; it's total bullshit.

Anyways, tonight I wrestled all three kids down by 8:45 and, because the spousal unit is away on business, was left entirely to my own devices. I should work on that story thought I. I then proceeded to check everyone's blog, balance my checkbook, IM with my brother, watch MTV, read a few pages from about 5 different books, browse the iTunes store, download a widget, and rub a coat of mineral oil over every square centimeter of our just-installed soapstone counters.

And then?

And then I blogged, of course.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Things I No Longer Am But—Out of Habit—Continue To Think of Myself As

1) Young (self-explanatory)
2) Pathologically shy (served no purpose)
3) Capable of performing a backflip (I am, after all, a former Daly City Cricket flip-flop champion)
4) Thick-calved (they disappeared; it's a mystery)
5) Smart-assy (I'm a kinder, gentler Ver)
6) Unfriendly (was causing frown lines)
7) Acutely messy (I am now, according to myself, cutely messy)
8) Patient (no time for it)
9) Subtle (see above)
10) A person with excellent penmanship (I blame it on e-mail)

And you? What about you?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Alice in BlahBlahLand

Long before we had kids, I started scooping up hardcover copies of the books that I remembered my mom reading aloud to us: Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Stuart Little, James & the Giant Peach, Charlotte's Web, etc. I love these books, and I am itching—itching, I tell you!—to introduce them thoroughly (they've heard bits and pieces of most) to the kiddies.

In addition to these must-haves, these no-brainers, these surefire hits, these wonders of children's lit, I also felt a bizarre obligation to pick up the Everyman's Library edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I don't know why I felt this way; I've never read this book nor had it read to me. And that's a good thing because, well, I hate it.

But there it was in our bookcase, with its pretty gilt lettering and its irresistible illustration of Alice and the Dodo. Riding the choppy waves of R & V's excitement, I put a hold on my favorites and proceeded to break in the binding on Alice. They ask for a chapter a day, and that's all well and good for them, but it's killing me to read it. I feel like I'm being smothered by a pillow and I'm screaming, but nobody can hear me. Oh, it's horrid. Witness this from Chapter 1 (with a few interjections from me):

Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again [let me say that at this point she had already been speaking exhaustively for many pages]. 'Dinah'll miss me very much to-night I should think!' (Dinah was the cat.) 'I hope they'll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?' And here Alice began to get rather sleepy [yeah? join the club, Alice], and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, 'Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?' and sometimes, 'Do bats eat cats?' for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and saying to her very earnestly, 'Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?' etc, etc, etc.

I don't think Alice is plucky or clevah; I think Alice is annoying. Interestingly, I feel about this book the way our maddening protoganist feels about falling down the rabbit hole: will it never end? It's so bad that I'm considering orchestrating a scenario whereby The Green Witch arrives on her bus under cover of night and steals the book straight off the shelf.

*strikes the head-thrown-back-in-laughter pose*

In completely unrelated news, do check out my review of Pinoy Poetics over at Moria. And thank you to those of you who linked to it!

Monday, May 16, 2005

I Need a Hero

For no reason whatsoever, the spousal unit and I were crazy-glued to last night's re-run of the 2004 World Series of Poker. The only female at the championship table was one Patty Gallagher, a founding member (I'm making this up) of PWA: Pinays With Attitude.

Oh, how I adore this woman.

At various intervals during the broadcast, the producers inserted profiles of each of the players. Patty's began something like this: "They call her Patty 'Machine Gun' Gallagher, but she prefers a different name... [cut to a close-up of Patty staring at the camera and deadpanning]: 'The Bitch.'" Next came various shots of her at tournaments banging the table, yelling, glaring, and whatnot. "You want to see a lady?" said Patty. "Go to church."


My girl ended up taking third place and pocketing a cool $91,000. Then she stood up and flipped the two remaining players the bird. God, it was precious.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Go Forth & Shop

When the 101 is wide open, it only takes me 20 minutes to drive to the 5th & Mission St. garage and an additional 4 to 8 to arrive on the threshold of any number of retail establishments. So I'm not sure why it's been an entire year since I've been downtown to shop for exterior ornamentation. To be fair, last year's adventure was punctuated by a highly successful romp through Anthropologie; perhaps I was haunted by the ghost of successful shopping past.

Anyhoots, Anthropologie was a bust this year. Instead, my childhood pal K. brilliantly steered our ship towards Jeremy's on 2nd and South Park, where—and this is crazy, people—I purchased a $495 pair of Christian Louboutin flats for the unheard of price of $189. Next time I see you, I'll wear them and you will say, "Ooooooh, where did you get those shoes?" and I will say, "I beg your pardon? Do you not recall my blog post of May 16th 2005?" And you will stroke your chin and say, "But of course, yes, the Louboutin flats..."

Other treasures were found, but two items proved elusive (this is sort of like The Chatelaine's negative purchases, but not really): an Acme Made "slim" for my laptop and a certain pair of Puma kicks that were unavailable in my size.

The line of the day came from one of the overly zealous "perfume people" stationed at the front of one store. To be polite, K. and I accepted the cologne-doused pink ribbons we were proffered. As we walked away, Perfume Girl squealed, "If you like it, come back and I'll spray you!" Which, if you think about it, is a line that could be useful in many situations.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Me & Mrs. Jones

One of R & V's preschool teachers is an older gentleman with the booming voice of God Himself. Have you ever met one of those people who is doing exactly what s/he was put on this here earth to do? He's like that. Which is why he should never momentarily drift from exercising his teaching talents to deliver rico suave lines such as this to women such as me: "You know, you remind me of Catherine Zeta-Jones."

*pauses for laughter to subside*

I smiled and said, "Oh gosh, but she's such a diva!" and continued on my merry way. What I really wanted to say, though, was, "Would that be before or after the plastic surgery?"

I'm so evil.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oatmeal Soup

I'm getting all electrified around the thought of cooking. Perhaps it's because my kitchen counters were just installed today and I am so close, so close, and yet so far from having a kitchen again. I think when it's all over, I will conduct a private ceremony in which I take a sledgehammer to the hotplate that has been serving as my stove lo these past 9 weeks. My Wolf will be delivered in a few days. Come to Mama is all I have to say about that.

So today I purchased Marion Cunningham's (no, not the Mom from Happy Days. Ya freak) The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, an American classic that I have always avoided until now. It has no photos, you see, and I think photos are half the fun of a cookbook. That way you can compare your earnest attempt at oh, I don't know, making a crowned roast of some sort to the picture in the book and realize how pitiful you truly are. It's kind of like looking through the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Or is that just me?


Within the pages of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook I found a recipe for Oatmeal Soup. Ms. Cunningham reports that when she published it in her San Francisco Chronicle column, it received an extremely "enthusiastic response." I'm torn between saying, "Really?" and saying, "Oh my God, you're such a liar." Here are the ingredients:

3 Tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
6 cups chicken broth
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup cooked oatmeal
3 Tbs. chopped parsley

I can usually stare at a list like this and get a general idea of the final product. Not so with Oatmeal Goop. I mean Soup. I have no idea what this would look, tase, or smell like. Do you?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Late Night Talking

I have never been one for talk radio. My late Lola Siason, a seamstress, slept for most of the day. She made up for it after sunset, working late into the night in her sewing room which was connected to the powder room where I, as a college freshman then sophomore then junior then senior, could often be found at one o'clock in the morning dutifully washing my face with Noxzema just as my mother had taught me. And Lola would be listening to talk radio. Crazy shit talk radio. The following day she'd come downstairs in the afternoon and play solitaire and proclaim strange truths such as, "John Huston is Whitney Houston's father! He is!" Or she'd tell you that the annual Spam parade was taking place the following weekend. Everyone would wonder where she came up with these things, but it was clear to me: late night talk radio.

Now, I'm not saying Lola killed any chance of my ever falling in love with Fresh Air or whatever, but she certainly did not help. And you'll have to beg my pardon because now that I've begun to write about her, it seems I'm unable to stop. I must veer off course to say...She instilled the fear of sunshine ("You'll turn brown! You'll turn brown!"), peasant skirts ("You look like a maid! You look like a maid!"), and sleeping with my hair wet ("You'll die! You'll die!") deep within my heart. Her skin was as white as an egg; she dyed her hair herself in a shade called "Flame." She took bus trips to Reno with other seniors and always won the scavenger hunt game because she used to carry a purse the size of a Volkswagen and fill it with everything from a roll of pennies to an assortment of safety pins in various sizes. She cheated at mah jong. She excelled in carving large cuts of meat, but couldn't cook worth a damn. If you were looking for her, she could often be found sitting up in bed and holding hands with Lolo while watching Big Time Wrestling.

But back to talk radio.

After reading "Confessions of a Listener", I feel as if I'm missing out on one big party. What is it about Garrison Keillor's prose, anyways? He's the great seducer of the heartland, that guy. So calm, so patient, and then bam!—he's got you. I love this:

...Here at the low end of the FM dial is a show in which three college boys are sitting in a studio, whooping and laughing, sneering at singer-songwriters they despise, playing Eminem and a bunch of bands I've never heard of, and they're having so much fun they achieve weightlessness—utter unself-consciousness—and then one of them tosses out the f-word and suddenly they get scared, wondering if anybody heard. Wonderful. Or you find three women in a studio yakking rapid-fire about the Pitt-Aniston divorce and the Michael Jackson trial and the botoxing of various stars and who wore what to the Oscars. It's not my world, and I like peering into it. The sports talk station gives you a succession of men whose absorption in a fantasy world is, to me, borderline insane. You're grateful not to be related to any of them, and yet ten minutes of their ranting and wheezing is a real tonic that somehow makes this world, the world of trees and children and books and travel, positively tremble with vitality. And then you succumb to weakness and tune in to the geezer station and there's Roy Orbison singing "Dream Baby" and you join Roy on the chorus, one of the Roylettes.

And imagine that. As I was writing about late night, it actually became late night. To sleep I go.

One Hand Clapping, Etc.

Before she fell asleep last night, I heard Risa whisper (ever notice that when kids whisper it's as loud as when they talk?) to the spousal unit, "I just have one question. Does life really exist?"

Thank God she didn't ask me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Girls Rule, Boys Drool**

**Except for Weez's, who are so obviously perfection.


Yesterday, we watched as a neighborhood child—a boy, same age as R & V—systematically smashed ants with the palm of his hand and...ate them. He could not be stopped.

"Oh! Don't do that. Come on, don't do that," I chided. His nanny stood by, holding the boy's little brother and sighing.

"I eat 'em!" he yelled. "I eat bugs while they're still alive!!!" He shook a little, a result (I assume) of testosterone coursing through his body.

"He's eating them, Mom! He's eating them." This from my daughters who, like me, are enamored of stating the obvious.

"Okay, okay. Hey, you need to stop that now," I said while silently thanking God that I have girls instead of boys. He ignored me and yelled some more (his voice is incredibly deep) about eating bugs alive, including spiders and mosquitoes. (What about grasshoppers?" Risa asked gently. "Do you eat those?")

Finally, after he'd eaten about fifteen ants, Vida said, "Um, excuse me? What if you were small and the ants were big and they smashed you and ate you? Would you like that, X?"

"I don't care! I don't care! I...EAT...'EM!!!!

At which point, I ushered my children back into the house.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Note to Self

I should publicly spaz out every time I make an e-mail submission (see here if you have no idea what I'm talking about). Because apparently that's what needs to occur before this here Veronica can get a little love.

In other words, my 309-word appreciation of SkyFlakes Crackers will appear at Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency in one month's time.

Admittedly, this is a small thing. And yet...I feel giddy. Oh, so giddy. I feel giddy and witty and gay. And I pity any girl who isn't me today! *dances around the dress shop with the other Shark girls*

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Okay, So Wait...

...a minute. Just wait a minute. Three posts ago, when I referred to the fact that "a man named Harold Augenbraum" had mentioned my story (whether in a good, bad, or indifferent way, I do not know) in his review of Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America, perhaps those of you who are far more knowledgeable than I thought I was being facetious. But I am not a facetious arse (and you can quote me on that)! I truly did not know that he was the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, which does that whole National Book Award thing.

I feel...lame. Rather lame.

Scheduling Conflicts

I can't believe I will be missing F. Sionil Jose tomorrow night, but the Gods of Scheduling appear to have it in for me. Instead, I will be hostess-ing a fundraiser for my neighborhood school. I have been staring at the previous two sentences for several minutes now and trying to make them peacefully co-exist in my little mind. Hmmmm. Can't do it. So let's just move on, shall we?

In other reading news, Marianne Villanueva will be ensnaring hapless Borders customers in her sneaky narrative web at Stonestown on Saturday, May 7th @ 7:00. For Mayor of the Roses, bien sûr (is "bien sûr" more obnoxious than "natch?" I use both, naturalmente. Hahahahahahaha!). I can't be there because I will be clogging my arteries at a despedida for my much-loved aunt and uncle.

Finally, just in case you were wondering, that story of mine came to 3,027 words. *strikes the Heisman Trophy pose*

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Problem with E-mail Submissions

I just now sent a short piece of writing to an unnamed destination. I have a better chance of spontaneously erupting in flames than of being accepted. If all the other writers who think they're even a little amusing should suddenly drop dead, and if absolutely none of the remaining not-so-funny writers in the entire universe sends in a submission for the next eighteen to twenty-four months, my chances may increase by .01 of a percentage point. You see what I'm saying.

So why did I engage in this pointless exercise? I did it because e-mail makes it too. damn. easy. If I'd had to print it, put it in an envelope with a SASE, address the envelope, drive to the post office, get out of the car, put money in the meter, affix the correct amount of postage, and drop it in the mailbox, this never would have happened.

My interior monologue (should you be interested in such things) went something like this:

Oh, la, la, la, la, this is kinda funny. Hey, I should send this to that place. Funny, funny! Dang, how'd I get so funny? Lemme just check out the site again. Oh, la, la, la, la, yes! It fits right in. I should really send it. Just need to spellcheck. Is "paper clip" one word or two? Bomp, boop, boom! All done. Hit 'send.' *hits 'send'* Oh my God! Why did I do that? Why? You Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!

So, yeah. That's the problem with e-mail submissions.


P.S. Like Gura, I've finally bid a vaguely fond adieu to Comment This (but what a bummer to lose all my old comments!) and am going with Blogger's built-in. Unlike Gura, I am not clever enough to properly delete my Comment This code without everything being shot to hell, so I went ahead and changed my template. Blue's not really my color, but I'll work with it. Will take me awhile to get my links back up...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

And I Bought Books, Too

You didn't think I'd actually leave Maui without some books, did you? I know, I know—anything I bought is readily available online, and I am a putz (how great is that word?) for using up valuable suitcase space with items that could easily have landed on my front steps in a nice brown box with no exertion on my part. But there's something pleasing about buying Bamboo Ridge Press books when you're in Hawaii. A beignet, after all, is best enjoyed in New Orleans. I totally made that up. I've never eaten a beignet or been to New Orleans.

But anyway.

I picked up Intersecting Circles: The Voices of Hapa Women in Poetry & Prose, edited by Marie Hara and Nora Okja Keller. I've only flipped through it, but I'm looking forward to reading Hara's introduction if for no other reason than its title: "Negotiating the Hyphen." Also, lotsa Pinays represented here. I also grabbed Best of Honolulu Fiction and a novel called The Queen of Tears. One of the blurbists (made that up, too) says that the latter "renew[s] the genre of Hawaii noir," and since I had no idea that such a genre even existed (and since I am easily seduced by blurbists), I thought oh, why not?.

And, finally, I stopped in a used bookstore hoping to find some old issues of Manoa because once upon a time in that fine journal, a man named Harold Augenbraum reviewed Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America. He mentioned my piece, but the whole review can only be accessed at libraries that subscribe to Project Muse. So all I've ever been able to read is, "In Veronica Montes’s 'Of Midgets and Beautiful Cousins,' a Filipino American ..." And that's it. That's it! Oh, how that ellipsis (or is it 'those ellipses?') haunt me! Did Harold like it? Did he hate it? Alas, I still do not know.

And that is all. It's good to be home. So many blogs to catch up with...