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.