Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Uh-Oh. I'm One Of Those Moms.

The first day of Kindergarten is over, and I managed to keep my tears to a minimum. There was just something about watching R & V file into a classroom and then having the door shut behind them that was utterly wrenching. It sounds ridiculous, but they now have their own lives; there are things that will happen in that classroom that I know nothing about. Luckily for me, though, R & V are big talkers. Vida, for example, shared the story of a run-in she had with The Girl Who Would Not Share. It went a little something like this:

Vida: There was a girl who wouldn't share the, you know, family dollhouse.

Me: Really?

Vida: Yes. And our teacher said we weren't allowed to say no if someone wanted to share. But she said, "No!"

Me: Well, that's not so good.

Vida: She shared it with her friend, but every time I asked to play she wouldn't let me.

Me: So what did you decide to do?

(what I really wanted to say): Well, I hope you kicked her butt clear across the classroom and made her cry.

Vida: I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, so I didn't tell our teacher.

Me: You know, I think that was a good choice.

(what I really wanted to say): You should have told! You should have told on the little troll! Horrible, spiteful child!

Vida (whispering): I just tried to remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi.

Me (suppressing laughter): Um, which ones?

Vida (still in whisper mode): Real love is loving someone who doesn't love you.

Me (lump rising in throat): Be right back, Vi!

At this point, I ran into my bedroom, closed the door, threw myself on the bed, and sobbed. And then I pulled myself together and began to plot several scenarios in which The Girl Who Would Not Share becomes The Girl Whose Ponytail Is Mysteriously Cut Off at The Base.

Not really, but you get the point.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Produce Guys

Kindergarten Picnic Report: lots of kids running around grabbing cookies by the fistful. Thas about it. I didn't get the Kindergarten teacher I wanted. But then again, she's not really my Kindergarten teacher. And, judging by the dramatic embrace they each gave her after the tour of her classroom and a quite good reading of something like Henry Goes to Kindergarten, Risa and Vida liked her just fine. Which is probably what matters. I kept repeating the advice from Rich which—it turns out—works in any number of situations: it's not really about you.

So anyways...

I was supposed to be at the picnic site at 11:00 to deliver the balloons and help my pal M. set everything up. Left home at about 10:30 with the girls in tow, tumbled into Safeway and...there was nobody working the "floral" department. We go and tell a checkout person who calls for someone over the loudspeaker. We wait. Five minutes. Eight minutes. Nobody comes. I send Risa and Vida back to the checkout person, who gamely sends out the call again. Nobody comes.

Finally, two of the produce guys who have been observing our predicament take pity on the Filipino woman (that would be me) who looks like she's going to cry. They stop piling up their apples and unpacking their grapes and come to our aid. After 30 seconds, it's clear that these two gigantic gentlemen, with their green canvas aprons and their larger-than-life tattoos and their huge, graceless hands, have no idea what they're doing. They manage—together—to produce two balloons in twelve minutes. The tough part being, of course, tying the balloons off and attaching the ribbon using their overly chunkified produce-guy fingers.

I say:

"You guys. You are killing me here."

Vida says:

"Um, excuse me? We're very, very late for the Kindergarten picnic."

They say:

"I know. We're sorry sweetheart, but we don't usually do this. Everyone's in a management meeting."


"Mom? They're killing me."


(while examining violently blooming dahlias) "We are so late."

And then? And then we all start laughing: me, my daughters, the produce guys. Because barring the sudden appearance of several...I don't know...mimes, the situation could not be more ridiculous. Forty minutes later we leave with the balloons, six of which pop before I even get to the car.

But thanks anyways, you know? Because it's not every day you get to watch the produce guys work the floral department.

And So It Begins

We're off (shortly) to the Kindergarten picnic, the purpose of which is to find out who your teacher is and to take a first gander at your classroom. I have been assigned the serious task of helium balloon picking-upping.

And so I feel like asking this question:

Who knows what wonder awaits? (Of course, some people already know the answer to this one)

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. A full Kindergarten Picnic report to follow. Cuz you know you want to know.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Make List, Check Twice

I found the niftiest little web-based application called Ta-Da Lists. It's free, and you can just go nuts making lists and creating the illusion that your life is completely in order and running super-smooth. Lotioned-up smooth. Stainless-steel smooth. Lea's-hair smooth. John Legend's-voice smooth. Like that. And you can make your lists public or private or semi-public/private. Here, for example, is my Currently Reading list.

Okay, that's it. You can beg and plead all you want, but I'm not gonna show you my other 8 lists. No, stop it, stop it! Stop offering me gift certificates to bookstores! Stop sending me moleskine notebooks, for chrissakes! You can just put away that all-expenses-paid trip to NYC. What do you think I am? Some sort of...of...list exhibitionist? Well, okay. Here's one more.


While we're on the subject of running smoothly (I did mention that up there somewhere, didn't I?), I am so in awe of Joane Rondilla, who I found via Gladys. She, along with the other Runbutans, are running a marathon in Maui and raising money for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation along the way. I'm happy to contribute. You know what really got me? Joane signed off one of her posts with the Runbutans' mantra:

For our bayani, for our community, and for Manilatown and the
I-Hotel, we runbutan

That's what got me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chicken. Head? Cut Off. Plus, Advice From Rich.

I am unceremoniously being buried beneath an avalanche of everyday minutiae (spilled crayons, Lea hitting her eye on the corner of the bathroom counter, laundry up to my armpits, smashed blueberries, whatnot), but Thursday doesn't feel like Thursday if I don't post. So here I am.

Just had a delightful conversation with Bronx poet Rich Villar, best known here at Nesting Ground for crashing my blogtail party and eating all the lechon. Anyways, as can sometimes happen with people you don't really know, I felt free to ask for some help regarding upcoming readings and my mild performance anxiety. So there I was going on in my typical spaz fashion when Rich busts in with words of Yoda wisdom. He said, "Do it in the way that best honors the work. It's really not about you and at heart it's not about the audience, either. If you honor the work, everybody (listeners and storyteller) will connect and all your issues will take care of themselves."

It's really not about you.

If I ever get around to re-christening my blog, that is what it will be called: It's Really Not About You. I will emblazon it on t-shirts, caps, and the back pockets of my jeans. It'll be a bumper sticker, lapel pin, and Loverboy-like headband. If ever I faint, fan me with an issue of Zoetrope and say, "It's really not about you." At first I will reply in a whisper. I will say, "Yes it is, yes it is, yes it is..." But then my eyelids will stop fluttering and I will snap out of it.

Many thanks to Rich for helping me to, you know, engage my core. Am belatedly linking to his blog, too. Speaking of blogs, it's Aimee's last day at Gila Monster. Sadness.

And so there's really only one way to end this post:

*love ya like Aimee loves daschunds, peacocks, cupcakes, and fluevogs*

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Engaging My, Um, Core

When Martha Stewart was in the Big House, news leaked out that she was leading her fellow inmates in daily sessions of yoga. Hilarity ensued, and one of the funniest things I read was some writer imagining Martha yelling, "Engage your core, Big Marge!"

In my typical beat-a-dead-horse fashion, I've been randomly pronouncing the very same thing for the past few months. To my brother who was about to leave for a big work conference: "Engage your core, Mickey!" To my father falling asleep on my couch: "Hey, engage your core!" Out my car window to a woman walking her dog: "Engage your core!"

I was cracking myself—if no one else—up. I believe my brother's response was, "Oh, shaddup."

But then my end-of-summer doldrums set in, and "engage your core" suddenly started to sound not so much funny as...good advice. And not necessarily when applied to a workout (and, okay, yoga's not a workout it's a way of life blah-to-the-blah-to-the-blahblahblah). Chatting two weeks ago with my CousAunt, who also has three young daughters, I leaned back into the couch and murmured, "I need to engage my core." And she said, "I hear you."

I'm only thankful that she didn't say, "I'm feeling you," instead because then I would have fallen to the floor laughing and immediately embarked on a few months of randomly spouting that gem before getting back to the whole, you know, core thing.

So anyways, now you know how I'll be spending my Fall.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

No Such Thing As a Stupid Question. Right? Right?

I'd like to know about the anti-miscegenation laws of the 30s that forbade marriage between whites and "Negroes," Mongolians, or "mulattoes" (and—one can only laughingly assume—between whites and "Negro-Mongolian mulattoes"). Filipinos were briefly classified as Mongolians to keep them from, you know, systematically seducing every available white woman with irresistible promises of a life lived in luxury amongst the strawberry and asparagus fields.

Then a Los Angeles court decided we were not Mongolians after all. Which is a good thing, because I'm sure we were all a little confused by this.

*strikes the whatever pose*

Legislators sidestepped the ruling by ammending the original law to also outlaw white people from marrying a "member of the Malay race."

So, for years I've been wanting to ask my stupid question. It is: why use the words "Mongolian" or "member of the Malay race"? The lawmakers were clearly referring to Chinese and Filipinos; why didn't they just say "Chinese or Filipinos"?

I'm sure there's a simple answer to this and, believe me, I will be suitably embarrassed when one of you brilliant people reveals what it is.

Monday, August 22, 2005

All Downhill

It is the last week of summer, and I've officially been hit right between the eyes by the doldrums.

Next Tuesday I will bring R & V to their first day of Kindergarten. I will likely collapse in an inconsolable heap while they stoically march away hauling their oversized backpacks and Hello Kitty lunchboxes.

The following week they will be wearing eyeliner, smoking, and locking their bedroom door so they can talk to sullen teenage boys on the telephone. By mid-year they'll graduate from college, get jobs, buy houses, and call each other to complain about how annoying I am. And how annoying I have, in fact, been for their entire lives. And they will laugh and laugh and laugh about it.

I will shrivel up and perish.

It's so over.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Your Name in Lights

Well, almost. More like...your name in the next Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, ZZ Packer, Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, Lemony Snicket etc. etc. work of fiction. So supra cool! And with all the proceeds going to the First Amendment Project. Check it out right here on eBay. I think I'd pick...Lemony Snicket.

That's it for now, my little bunches of grapes. I'm all cozied up in sweats and a ponytail, with a mug of hot cocoa to my left. In other words, I'm ready to write. Of course now that I've said that, I'm sure I'll freeze up.

In which case, I'll be back before the sun goes down.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

SUVery Guilty

I am among the selfish populace who feels guilty about driving a car that is so very bad in so very many ways, but who does not feel guilty enough to stop driving it. I say this in all seriousness: if forced to drive a minivan, a piece of my soul would die. Some would retort, "Then why have such a big family?" And I would reply, "Oh, shut up and leave me alone."

But while reading an article on this very subject over at Slate, I discovered TerraPass. The idea is that I purchase a TerraPass membership for $80/year (it's less if you have a smaller car, of course), and they invest the money in clean energy (like wind), greenhouse gas abatement, and industrial efficiency projects. By pooling the membership money, the company can actually make an impact. For reals, Ver? For reals, guys! Or at least I hope so.

I regret to report that there is nothing TerraPass can do about deer safety.

Anyways, I'm going to sign up. It's not just for SUVs, by the way, so check it out.

*love ya like barbara jane and o.b. love nebulous-ness*

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


According to this article in The Guardian, our fearless leader—when not holding his hands over his ears and bellowing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" to drown out all that war protest nonsense outside his front door—is into some heavy reading during his five-week vacation:

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

My theory is that he's just flippinig through these tomes wondering where all the "neat pictures" are, dammit. Such books are a waste of time for the President. He ought to work his brain over something like War for Dummies or Help Me, I'm a Big Huge Liar. Grrrrr.

Also according to the article, the President's former speechwriter David Frum said his old boss is, "often uncurious and as a result ill-informed." Which seems to me to be quite the understatement.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Night Reading

I've been reading the memoirs of García Márquez—Living to Tell the Tale (which, I might add, I found in hardcover at Green Apple for $9.99)—every night before bed. Since it's usually a little after midnight before I crack the spine, I'm already quite sleepy. Reading about the dreadful heat and oppressive dust of his ancestral home lowers my eyelids, but the unrelentingly lush prose keeps me turning the pages; it's a weird feeling. When I finally do fall asleep, it is directly into some dream filled with parrots and almond trees, old women dressed in mourning, and donkeys. Not so restful.

In this passage, García Márquez describes his first experience as a writer. He is twenty-three years old and has returned with his mother to the house where he was born: the next room we found the crib where I slept until I was four years old and that my grandmother kept forever. I had forgotten it, but as soon as I saw it I remembered myself in overalls with little blue flowers that I was wearing for the first time, screaming for somebody to come and take off my diapers that were filled with shit. I could barely stand as I clutched at the bars of the crib that was as small and fragile as Moses' basket. This has been a frequent cause of discussion and joking among relatives and friends, for whom my anguish that day seems too rational for one so young. Above all when I have insisted that the reason for my suffering was not disgust at my own filth but fear that I would soil my new overalls. That is, it was not a question of hygienic prejudice but esthetic concern, and because of the manner in which it persists in my memory, I believe it was my first experience as a writer.

That, I believe, is the kind of thing described by certain people as "a hoot." And now for your viewing enjoyment, a photo of Gabo and Pablo Neruda circa 1956, delicately filched from The Modern Word:

I don't know what they're doing to this object d'art, but it looks kinda fun.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Real Men of Genius

I am not embarrassed to admit that due to an uncontrollable fit of laughter caused by the Real Men of Genius ad campaign, I almost lost complete control of my vehicle (yes, I realize this is happening quite a bit) in the Safeway parking lot a few weeks back.

I present:

A musical salute to "Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer."


A musical salute to "Mr. Jean Shorts Inventor."

And I am also not embarrassed to admit that I wish I'd written both. Or that I'd at least invented the word "jorts."

Never let it be said that I do not aspire to greatness.

Friday, August 12, 2005


At the bookstore the other day, I picked up Esquire's Big Book of Fiction for five dollars. Five dollars! This thing is an 800-page monster just waiting for the right reader. But where to start? I think a lot of people would scan the author names. For me, though, it's all about the titles. I love titles. I think my favorite title of all time is from Joyce Carol Oates: Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart.

Regardless of who the author might be, would you rather turn to a story called, "Behold the Husband in His Perfect Agony" or "Cutting Losses"? Come on! No contest.

How about "Monhegan Light" or "Incarnations of Burned Children"? Tell the truth, ya big liar.

Now choose between "Marry the One Who Gets There First: Outtakes from the Sheidegger-Krupnik Wedding Album" and "Downstream." Duh.

Here's a trickier one. Are you more intrigued by: "A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis" or "The Widow Ching—Pirate"?

I'm not saying that the titles indicate which story I will enjoy more, mind you, just which ones I will read first. In case you were wondering. And now I'm wondering about you. If you have a favorite or two or three (any genre welcome), I would like to know what it/they is/are. Enjoy/your week/end.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Oh, Deer.

A few kind people have insisted that the deer I hit last week at the lake did not die. (There are also mean, hateful people who have taken to calling me "Deerslayer" and "Murderess" but, alas, I cannot argue) The kind people chuck me under the chin and tell me that deer are remarkably resilient. They say deer are known for rising from what appears to be death and trotting off into the forest with their big brown eyes spilling tears at the misfortune of having to share the planet with human beings and their big cars.

Well, the kind people are wrong. And I'll tell you how I know.

Yesterday afternoon, R, V, and L were outside doing what they have repeatedly been told not to do: sitting atop the driveway gate, releasing the latch with their feet, and swinging free until they hit the hedge. Then they scamper down and do it all over again. I was ignoring this criminal behavior because sometimes I am a piss-poor (who invented this horrible word?) excuse for a mother. And also because I was writing this...this...this...thing that has to be turned in on Friday.

Just as I was about to birth a most excellent sentence, a sentence that would make everything fall into place, all three children stampeded the house yelling gibberish, gesturing wildly, and working in unison to drag me out of my chair. When I got outside, what extremely rare-for-my-neighborhood sight do you think I beheld? Horror to end all horrors, I beheld this (well, not this exactly, because I didn't have a camera) standing right in the middle of the street in front of our house:

Clearly, this was the father of the deer I killed, and he'd come to exact his revenge. Imagine, if you will, my sharp intake of breath, my shaking hands, my flushed cheeks, and the road-runner speed at which I herded my children back into the house.

I inform you of all this so that if I disappear under mysterious circumstances, you will know what to tell the authorities. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Midnight In the Kitchen

It's a little past midnight. I'm hungry, but I will not eat. Okay, maybe a few grapes. What I really want to do is pop a bag of kettle corn, but I won't. Just a few more grapes.


So what I did instead of eating any more grapes was to sate my snacky state with a cruise around the food blogs. Checked out the Sassy Lawyers amazing food blog, of course. Checked out the pizza post at Becks and Posh. Got semi-excited about the Eggbeater's strawberry shortcake, etc. etc. But I was not completely satisfied until I laid my eyes on 101 Cookbooks' oh-my-God-do-you-think-it's-wrong-to-eat-the-whole-thing Heirloom Tomato Tart.

I can sleep easy now. 'Night.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm So DC

Blast it all to Serramonte, I should have known The Wily Filipino was referring to me when he passed the DVD baton to "Daly City." And even though the following pretty much guarantees that he will never, ever, ever want to hang out and go to a movie with me, I will play:

Total Number of Films I Own on DVD And Video:

Not too, too many.

The Last Film I Bought:

For obvious kid-related reasons, it might have been Mulan II. Or it might have been—and you can just shut up right now, dammit—The Last of the Mohicans, which I will always, always treasure for Daniel Day Lewis' ludicrous, "Stay alive! No matter what occurs, I will find you!" speech.

Five Films Which I Watch a Lot / Mean a Lot to Me:

1) Godfather I & II. And though there may now be a reason to love Sofia Coppola, I will never, ever, ever forgive her for completely ruining Godfather III, which I cannot even watch—despite my affinity for Andy Garcia—without retching.

2) Spirited Away. The girls love this. They freaked out the first time they saw Chihiro's parents turn into pigs, but it is nevertheless a favorite now. I love it because it doesn't go, "Here are the good guys—root for them!" and "Here are the bad guys—do not wish them well!" It just presents a brave girl navigating a freaky, complicated world. Which we all have to do, sooner or later.

3) West Side Story. I always murmur, "No, no, no, no," every time Bernardo dies. Maybe one of these times, he won't.

4) Gladiator. I can't explain it. I'm hopelessly drawn to this film.

5) Glory. I'm pretty much a sucker for any Ed Zwick/Marshall Herskovitz project. Make of that what you will, dear ones.

(Three) People I'm Passing the Baton to:

Did love ya like do this yet? And I enjoy sending these to my family. So... Lui and Detsie.


In other pop culture news, did anyone else watch the current episode of Six Feet Under and cry until overtaken by exhaustion? I didn't even think I liked Nate, and I went through half a box of Kleenex. And then tonight? I succombed to some sort of masochistic need to continue in my puffy-eyed state, and watched it again.

Maybe I'll watch it one more time while I stick a nail through my left earlobe. Geez.

Monday, August 08, 2005

No Place Like

I have returned from The Lake, my people! Browner, chunkier, and with an aching back (having spent many nights sleeping on an air mattress with Lea), but here. My official Lake Book, by the way, was David Mitchell's un-bleeping-believable Cloud Atlas. When the character of Zachry (sic) is talking story, he refers to it as "mem'ryin'". So, a handful of mem'ryin' from the past week:

1) All of the littlest cousins now at the age (3-8ish) when they can be friends. When I checked in on them one afternoon, they were in the pool room, leaning casually on their cue sticks, staring at the green felt table. "You guys okay?" "Actually," said Vida, "we're doing great, Mom." "Yeah, Mom, we're actually playing a game," Risa added. And Lea, not wanting to be left out of the fun of saying "actually," said, "So you can actually go, Mom." And I actually did. Go, I mean.

2) My nephew-in-law and his sweet, pregnant wife opening their surprise baby shower gifts. When she unwrapped ours, she got all teary-eyed, leaned against her husband, and said, "What are we doing?" I wanted to tell her it would all be okay, but you know what? She'll find out for herself soon enough.

3) A memorable canoe ride, in which the excellent spousal unit was kind enough to ignore the fact that I wasn't really paddling. This, despite having to take the long way around because of the water skiers.

4) Otter pops!—an official Lake food group.

5) Girl talk night. While we chatted earnestly and sipped delicately on our beverages, the boys were sequestered in another house playing poker, smoking things, and fulfilling their yearly quota of bodily function humor. And that is as it should be.

6) My other nephew-in-law's delightfully gifted girlfriend singing—among other things—"On the Sunny Side of the Street" for everyone. She is the growly-yummy voice singing "I Love Paris" in the icky Paris Hilton Carl's Jr. commercial, but I somehow managed to restrain myself from asking her about it.

7) The daily ritual of gathering together chairs, towels, sunblock, floaty things, sand toys, drinks, snacks, and whatnot for the beach. The daily ritual of repeatedly escorting our children to the beach restrooms, where they loudly berated the non-existent powers-that-be for what they deemed sub-standard facilities. The daily ritual of ice cream from the snack bar. The daily ritual of hanging swimsuits out to dry on the deck.

8) Scrabble! I won 3 out of 4. They were excessively long games. And then we realized we were missing seven tiles. None of the good ones, though.

9) Much to my eternal sadness and mortification, I hit—and most likely killed—a small deer while driving us to dinner one night. We didn't stop as there were several kids in the car and doing so would only have resulted in complete hysteria. So when we arrived at our destination, the spousal unit called the appropriate authorities to tell them where it happened. As I said, sadness.

And that is all.