Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Recovery/Re-Entry

I'm making an excruciatingly slow re-entry into a world that does not revolve around wrapping paper, large quantities of overly-rich foodstuffs, and basically running around in—when you boil it all down—circles. Despite the late nights and general feeling of exhaustion, it was a lovely holiday spent in constant and pleasant culinary interaction with friends and family (one cousuncle just e-mailed to chide me—me, of all bloggers!—for not updating here since the 22nd, but never mind).

The SU and I spent the bulk of yesterday alone (the girls being in the tireless hands of their sitter who, unlike me, is not adverse to leading them triumphantly through craft projects that require acrylic paint) and leisurely enjoying things that I now imagine only the child-less can leisurely enjoy: eating out, shopping, going to the movies, wandering through a bookstore. Our movie of choice was "Dreamgirls," the theatrical version of which I saw onstage when I was very young. I had specific memories about the original version, certain moments that I loved. And so I waited the entire film for CC (he being the songwriter brother who basically turned his back on his super-talented chanteuse of a sister for several years, only to return once he realized that success wasn't all it was, you know, cracked up to be) to sing Effie I have a song, and only you can sing it the way it should be and for Effie to wail back I've waited sooooooooo long to hear you say that to me. Say it again, say it aggggaiiiiiinnnnnn.... and for CC, of course, to answer Effie sing my song the way it should beeeeeeee. I waited because it's my favorite scene. In the whole story, it's my favorite scene. And the scene happened, but the song didn't. I almost jumped out of my seat to demand...something. Instead, I just sat there, crumpled up in disappointment and asked the SU to pass the popcorn. I curse the person(s) who edited the scene! I curse them with spiders and evil monkeys and colicky infants, and dreams about falling off the edge of a cliff! Fie on them, I say. But besides that, I enjoyed it. Our audience clapped every time Jennifer Hudson sang, and then again when her name appeared in the credits. I felt somehow bad for Beyonce and her enormous wigs. It's a strange thing, indeed, to feel sad for such a beautiful and talented (even if her specific talents don't appeal to you, I don't think anyone could successfully argue against the adjective) person.

We cooked an 8-lb. beef tenderloin on Christmas Day, and this morning I shredded up the leftovers and tossed them into a pot with a head of sliced up garlic, half an onion, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. It's been simmering for almost 5 hours, and if you were to take a bite it would literally melt in your mouth. There's something a little off about turning filet mignon into something to put in a flour tortilla, but so be it. Pass the shredded cheese, please.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Vicarious Living And, Well, Waffles.

I may as well admit that I've been living vicariously through this blog since November. This Ms. Posie woman is like some kind of miraculous, shimmery, fairy-like person. Or at least that's how I imagine her. A gumdrop wreath? Handcrafted fabric dolls? Cupcakes of such exquisite perfection that I wouldn't dare eat them? And that's only the beginning. It's borderline insane; she makes Martha Stewart look like a bumbling amateur. I really should write to her and tell her how much pleasure she's provided lo these past few months and how her blog is the ultimate antidote to bah-humbug-ishness. But then again, some folks are meant to be admired only from afar. Such is the case, I believe, with the very magical Ms. Posie.

***

In other pleasant holiday news, my niece-in-law Sarah hilariously gifted my girls with a complete set of Hello Kitty appliances. Without getting into why they have already opened these gifts, I will just declare that if by some miracle you have been considering purchasing the Hello Kitty wafflemaker, you must do it. Because never, never, never in my life have I had better waffles. They're all fluffy yet crispy, and tiny enough to eat in one or two bites. I would not lie about such a thing, as I take waffles quite seriously. Shut up, I really do. Here is the wafflemaker:


And here are the waffles (they have regular waffle-y marks on the other side). The girls added chocolate chip eyes to theirs, but I required no such accoutrements:


And so, as you fall asleep tonight, I hope that visions of Ms. Posie's posy things and, yes, Hello Kitty waffles dance through your heads.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today in Three Vignettes

I can't decide which is more disturbing: penis/bust enlargement spam or spam that says...

Then he slowly rolled over on his side and began the terrible job of getting to his knees again. Because you went on living to find out what happened next, isn't that what you're really saying? Paul jammed his teeth together and grimly told himself he would not vomit, would not, would not. Paul jammed his teeth together and grimly told himself he would not vomit, would not, would not.

What's that all about? Maybe it's not spam. Maybe someone is just sending out a getting-to-know-you-e-mail. In which case, I would have told him/her not to include the word "vomit" in an initial correspondence.

***

Day-to-day happenings are fairly predictable out here on the Peninsula. We are simply not privy to the stories that play out so obviously in every coffee shop, laundromat, corner store, bus stop and whatnot all over a city like San Francisco. And while there are days when I view this as lamentable, I can't deny—certainly since I became a parent—that I find comfort in the relative lack of drama. Still, I'm occasionally privy to something more than people in tracksuits sipping their latte or whatever and reading the Wall Street Journal. Today, for example, while waiting for my order at Kinko's, I watched as a large homeless man busied himself laminating his "Homeless—In Need" sign. He then purchased some hardware to turn it into a banner. And this image has kept me company all day.

***

Our neighbors one block over invited us over tonight to light the menorah(s). First the dad gathered the kids around and read the Story of Hanukkah (one of his kids had removed the paperclip that kept five complicated pages of war scenes segregated, and the dad accidently read too far into said pages to extricate himself. Quite hilarious to watch him fumble around, editing all willy-nilly), then we lit the candles on the three different menorahs (two kid ones and a family one), then they played the dreidl game, and then we got potato latkes to go, came home, and made dinner.

And I gotta tell you: latkes and pasta are not a bad pairing. Anyways, some photos (though, sadly, not of the latkes and pasta):



Monday, December 18, 2006

Ver vs. Ice

I'm sure the Weather Gods were pointing and laughing at us this morning when we scooted out the door 5 minutes behind schedule, only to find the car completely encased in ice. They were probably in full-on guffaw mode when I acted on the bordering-on-mentally-incapacitated assumption that turning on the windshield wipers would de-ice the windshield. Or perhaps they waited until I got out of the car and hopped from foot-to-foot blowing on my hands and saying, "Okay, okay, okay, let's see..." while the girls screamed "We're gonna be late! We're gonna be late! Mom! Mom! Come on, we're gonna be laaaaaaate..."

I was not to be defeated.

Like a primate discovering that a tree branch makes a decent backscratcher, I, too, fashioned a tool from what was on hand. And what was on hand was a CD case (The Best of Hall & Oates, if you must know. The girls love "Maneater," and I really don't want to discuss the matter further, so please stop pressing me. I will add, however, that "One on One" is completely underrated. Laugh if you must, but history will bear me out). I scraped away the ice, raised my arms in victory, and yelled "Ha! You see that?! Ha!"

Oh, but how does it end, Ver? How does it all end?

Reader, we made it to school on time.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sugarplums Dance

We're getting all gussied up and heading into the city for the family matinee of Nutcracker. They are serving cookies and cocoa at intermission, and the kids can take pictures with their favorite characters. Lea, of course, has her list prepared: sugar plum fairy, snow queen, and I think the rat king. I'm disproportionately thrilled about the cookies and cocoa and picture-taking, so much so that I'm sure to be disappointed. No doubt the cookies will be dry and the cocoa will be filmy and the sheer numbers of frantic children trying to score a photo op with, let's say, Clara will be enough to induce a migraine. But for now, four hours before curtain time, I will live in VerWorld, where the cookies are pleasantly warm 'n' chewy, the cocoa has been poured through cheesecloth, and a gigantic Nutcracker awaits me in my own private photo booth.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Attention Double-Deficit Disorder

I was just now performing a series of repetitive cooking-prep tasks. I approached these tasks in a high-minded manner: I would turn off iTunes and focus on every slice, every dice, every brush of oil, every last thing. In this way, I would finish up quickly and with a mind as clear and perfectly-functioning as that of a...a...a person who lives their life with a clear and perfectly-functioning mind.

I'm sure you know where this ends.

Within 10 minutes, I had turned on the Dreamgirls soundtrack and was moving frequently from cutting board to laptop so I could read blogs and answer e-mail. So of course, something that should have taken forty-five minutes ended up taking ninety. And my mind? All aflutter with extraneous information, idle gossip, and Christmas gift ideas. Let this be a lesson.

I am now going to extract all the seeds from two pomegranates.

I should be finished sometime tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Better for Everyone This Way

In one hour, I will be back here at Nesting Ground Headquarters fixing a snack for the kids.

In one hour, the spousal unit will be sitting in a conference room with eight other people. And one of them will be...ohmalord hold onto your winter cap and secure your scarf about your neck...Bono.

It's not that I don't adore the spousal unit, it's just that I would adore him so much more if I were also in the conference room.

Kidding. I'm kidding.

Because, really, what would I do if introduced to Bono? I think it would go down something like this:

Random Introducer: And Bono, this is Veronica.

Bono: Hi, Veronica. It's nice to meet you.

Ver: rmphferderhow.

Bono: Excuse me?

Ver: [whisper] Nice to meet you, too. Mr. Bono, Sir.

Bono: [Looks around the conference room trying to find a way to politely escape from Crazy Lady] Nice group of people.

Ver: [still whispering] Nice group. Group is nice. People are nice. Grouping people is nice. Group. Nice.

Bono: Okay, then...

Ver: [mumbling, cheeks flushing like pomegranates] iahrkdslrkems? Shanks.

Bono: Come again?

Ver: Can you take a picture with me? For my, um...for my blog? It could be good publicity because, you know, like fourteen people read my blog. And if you think about it, there's a statistical chance of, oh gosh I don't know, one in five thousand, that one of those fourteen people doesn't know who you are, and then when they see you with me on my blog they might go and buy one of your albums or something and, you know, everyone could use a little pocket change, right? Your wife makes clothes with hemp, doesn't she? Hemp is neat. I like your shoes.

Bono: [turns on heel and departs]

Ver: Good-bye Mr. Bono, Sir. Good-bye.

Something like that.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December, Remembered

For the past several years, December—arguably my favorite month of the year—has disappeared in a disconcerting flurry of shopping, cooking, inevitable colds, social obligations, card-sending, and all-around stress. By the time it's over, I have little memory of what occurred; all I know for sure is that the person looking back at me in the mirror needs a vacation and several spa treatments. But this year, I'm making a change. This year, I am reclaiming December! How, Ver? How are you reclaiming December? Please tell me so that I too may recapture the glory that once was. I'm doing it by adding yet another thing to my to-do list. Oh, but Ver, that sounds so antithetical to your stated purpose. Please explain.

[Aside: can anyone pinpoint the exact moment I started to talk to myself on this blog? I'm turning into one of those women with 400 cats who applies blush too liberally and wears a tinfoil visor so nobody can steal my thoughts...]

Anyways, this task that I've decided to undertake will leave behind a record of at least one thing that happened each day of the month. Every night so far, I've plunked my personage down somewhere and decorated these chipboard thingies. Here are the fronts of days one thru three:


And this is what's on the back. I haven't filled in the text blocks yet, but that's the least of my worries:



I guess it's kind of a twist on an advent calendar? I'm not sure. If I actually end up with thirty-one of these at the end of the month, I'm gonna do a little dance, videotape it, upload it to You Tube, and post it here.

You wish.

***

Writer's group was so excellent last night. I was in a goofy mood, probably because I hadn't eaten and had made the drive into the city with my heat seater turned all the way up while singing along at the top of my lungs to John Legend. I also double-dosed on Claritin because there's a dog at S's home. S's wife, who teaches in the writing program at USF, was holding her final class of the semester at the house, too, so in my deranged mind I set up this faux war between the groups and encouraged my fellow members to engage in some mayhem. "Let's fight them," I whispered. "Come on. I can totally take that guy in the argyle sweater."

But enough about my nonsense. I had my work-in-progress up for discussion and was so energized and encouraged by the conversation that I shirked today's errands and slipped into the library for some uninterrupted writing time. And then I was so pleased with my output that I took myself to lunch before rushing home to host a playdate for Lea. Now the girls are building some sort of Lego kingdom, there's a pot of picadillio simmering on the stove, the Christmas lights are on, and nobody is yelling, "Mama! Mama! Mama!" You know what that's called? A very good day. Plus, we're forcing bulbs and the first one has just opened:


[insert lame smiley face emoticon—possibly sporting a Santa Claus hat—here]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Short Takes

Public Service Announcement: There's almost nothing that a small dish of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and a small tangerine can't fix.

***

Thank goodness my writer's group meets tomorrow night, otherwise the hope of being involved in any sort of literary activity (reading excluded) this month would be an um-I-don't-think-so-Ver kinda thing. I am sad because Marianne has left the group, and I miss her one-of-a-kind Marianne energy and the way she whips out her little index card notebook and jots things down in her impeccable penmanship, but the good news is that another "M" has stepped in to join us. I liked her right off because she immediately threw the word "bitch" into our pre-meeting conversation. In case you're wondering, our pre-meeting rituals include the making of tea, the selecting of cookies, and chit-chat about agents and editors (of which I have neither, of course, but never mind) and kids (oh which I have three, of course, but never mind).

***

My cyberpal Julie is a fantastically good egg. That's a fine thing all on its own, but she doesn't stop there, oh no. She also has a brand-spanking new blog of which I am a devotee. I'm so envious of those folks whose blog revolves around an actual concept. Unlike me, they do not wade around in the muck of every-little-thing-whether-you-want-to-read-about-it-or-not-ahem. You can check Julie out right here.

***

And, finally, I would love to send you a holiday card of the snail mail variety! So e-mail your address, and I'll add you to our list...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Questions of the Rhetorical Persuasion

1. To state the uninteresting and super-obvious, it's cold. And yet, my tomato plants continue to yield perfectly good tomatoes. Global warming? Enchanted garden? You tell me.

2. And while you're at it, can you please tell me how to turn off my rear window wiper? Because it hasn't rained in several days, and still the wiper swipes every 30 seconds or so. It's embarrassing already. Don't advise me to look it up in the manual; just tell me.

3. Patrick says his editor refers to My American Kundiman, as "MAK." For no reason at all (other than the fact that I just...I just...well, I make shit up) I have developed a theory about this. I think his editor feels self-conscious about pronouncing the word "kundiman," in much the same way I feel self-conscious pronouncing "Montmartre." Agree or disagree?

4. I showed Lea a picture of me and the spousal unit taken about seven years ago, long before the former commenced with his weekly shaving of the head ritual (performed, quite handily, by me). I pointed to me and said, "Who's that?" She said, "That's you." I pointed to the SU and said, "Who's that?" She said, "That's Freddy." So my question to you is...who is Freddy?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Everyone knows at least one intrepid soul who is currently writing his/her seated butt off and drinking eighteen cups of coffee a day in a valiant attempt to join the list of triumphant NaNoWriMo winners.

Still others have aimed for the more manageable feat of one blog post a day—NaBloPoMo. (This acronym sounds like a complex pommel horse move made famous by, I don't know, the head coach of the men's Latvian gymnastics team, but never mind)

SMITH has it just about right for us less-prolific types, though: a 6-word memoir contest. The winner pockets a (PRODUCT) RED iPod Nano.

I think mine would be...

She couldn't quite get it going.

And yours?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Strawberry Shortcake Underwear & Chuck Norris

Is it corny to enjoy the annual Best American Nonrequired Reading books? Okay then, I'm corny.

[Pause for gratuitously embarrassing aside about my youngest daughter: because of the weather, I will not currently allow her to wear any of her vast number of skirts. She went to preschool today in pants. She hates pants. When we got home, she asked if she could please put on a skirt. For no particular reason, I said, "No." So just now I looked over into the den, where she is putting together a puzzle, and she's just wearing her Strawberry Shortcake underwear. Hahahahahahaha! She's all No skirt, huh? Well, I'll just hang out in my underwear, then.]

But back to Nonrequired. Where else can you find a list of "Best American Things to Know About Chuck Norris," culled, of course, from chucknorrisfacts.com? Nowhere, that's where. Here are my favorites:

•Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
•Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
•Chuck Norris counted to infinity—twice.
•There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.
•Chuck Norris grinds his coffee with his teeth and boils the water with his rage.
•Chuck Norris destroyed the Periodic Table because Chuck Norris only recognizes the element of surprise.
•When Chuck Norris does division, there are no remainders.

Oh my God. I've read these ten times already, and they are still cracking me up.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Blogiversagiving

I just remembered that it's my 3-year blogging anniversary! Absurd to think how many words I've spewn into cyberspace...

Anyways, these paper scrap turkeys (the real free-range one is busy in the oven, slathered with sage and bacon butter) and I would like to wish you a happy holiday.


If I don't get too flustered, I may post a picture of the whole gosh durn feast.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Comfy.


I would love these "Livingstones." But I think they should be called "Beanbags 2.0."

via Design Milk

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

That's Enough Shopping for You, Young Lady.

I don't know what's gotten into me, but I've been doing more than my fair share of aiding the American economy. None of this damage would have occurred, by the way, were it not for the blasted Internet and its blasted ease-of-use and blasted debit cards and my blasted inability to sleep while the spousal unit is on a blasted business trip. Okay, but I couldn't help it. Because look at the purty bracelet: And check out my first-ever pair of Frye boots (technically, of course, this is just a picture of one humungous boot). Wow, V! Are those black? Why no, imaginary Nesting Ground reader. They're slate blue! But I didn't just purchase adornments, because life is all about balance. Which, in this particular circumstance, means...books! Always books. Here's Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino-American by Peter Jamero:

One immediately thinks of Bulosan and America is in the Heart, of course, with the difference being that Jamero is second-generation. Ms. BJ makes the point that this territory has been covered and that as writers we need to move on, and though I agree with her on one level, on another I am continually drawn to these stories, both fiction and non-. Anyways, this looks to be a fine addition, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

And this is Typecasting: On the Arts & Sciences of Human Equality by Ewen & Ewen:
I have no hope in hell of describing it any better than the blurb at Seven Stories Press, which says, "Typecasting chronicles the emergence of the 'science of first impression' and reveals how the work of its creators—early social scientists—continues to shape how we see the world and to inform our most fundamental and unconscious judgments of beauty, humanity, and degeneracy. In this groundbreaking exploration of the growth of stereotyping amidst the rise of modern society, authors Ewen & Ewen demonstrate 'typecasting' as a persistent cultural practice. Drawing on fields as diverse as history, pop culture, racial science, and film, and including over one hundred images, many published here for the first time, the authors present a vivid portrait of stereotyping as it was forged by colonialism, industrialization, mass media, urban life, and the global economy." I've already started this one, and it's amazing. That's all.

My shopping binge ended with Patrick's My American Kundiman:

First of all, this cover is gasp-worthy. Second, I know that Patrick is a poet, but I can't help but think of him as a storyteller. And an extraordinary one, at that.

This ends the first installment of "That's Enough Shopping for You, Young Lady." Please join us for Installment 2, when Ver carefully chronicles her purchase of five pairs of plain white crew socks, fourteen paper clips, and two ponytail holders. Thank you, and good night.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Coming Up Empty...

...in the blog department, of late. Is there such a thing as "blog block?" The good news is that I'm writing elsewhere. And while "elsewhere," I found this writing exercise I did with my online group. I have no memory of writing it, but it cracked me up. Which isn't saying much, since I usually have no problem at all amusing myself. And so, since I have nothing else to blog, I will share it with you. The writing prompt was, "The last time I saw...":

The last time I saw Virginia, she was kissing my boyfriend and running her long, lovely fingers through his thinning hair. The last time I saw my boyfriend was right after that. He was on his knees crying and clutching me around the waist and gasping for air. "Don't you believe in second chances?" he said. And I said, "Not really."

Virginia and my boyfriend are married now, and I am alone. Lately I have begun to think of Virginia and my boyfriend as characters in a film I saw long ago. Because I feel that this is progress, I share the good news with my friend. "I think I'm over it," I say. It might be my imagination, but she seems angry, this friend.

"Over it?" she says. Her eyes widen until they are preternaturally large like a cartoon character's eyes. "You just called him your boyfriend. AGAIN. You are so NOT over it. You are so right smack in the middle of it."

Does this sound angry to you?

***

Another friend pats my head. "You're like a wounded child."

I nod because I don't want to appear rude, but her assessment is not accurate. I'm not a child. Would a child want to spend the evening parked in front of Virginia and Tino's apartment scrunched down in the driver's seat? I don’t think so. I think a child would rather sit in front of the television eating popcorn that she has lovingly bathed in pure, salted butter.

"How long did you stay there?" my friend asks.

"Just a few hours."

"Did you see them?"

"I saw shadows," I say. "I heard music."

***

My mother is not helpful. "I dated a boy in college," she says, "and I ended up having to break things off with him. It was very difficult. He called me all the time afterwards to tell me how beautiful he thought I was."

I tell my mother that I haven’t heard from Tino since the day he asked me about second chances. She says, “Well, honey, do you think maybe you should have given him one?”

“One what?”

“One second chance.”

Do you see how that is not helpful?

***

As often happens, I have nothing to do. So I run an internet search and find a Web address that will, if I wish, take me directly to Virginia and Tino's "Online Wedding Album."

Do I wish to do this?

“Why the hell not?” says my angry friend. “Look at the pictures and get it out of your system.”

I tell her I will, but I won’t.

“Why not?” says my gentle, head-patting friend. “It might help.”

I tell her I will, but I won’t.

Because I don't want to see Virginia resplendent in a white gown, a satin-tipped veil floating about her shoulders. And I don't want to see Tino in a tuxedo getting married to someone else. I'd rather remember him on his knees in front of me, begging.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ya Give Me Fever

Perhaps the prescription for Yellow Fever should be...more cowbell. Except the person with yellow fever should be the cowbell and we should be the sticks. Not that I'm advocating violence. Really.

Thanks to ms. bj for the link.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Knockin' On Your Door Just a Little

Oh my goodness, "Save Room" (go ahead, take 3 minutes and enjoy the show; it's the second video down) is all kinds of sexiness. I've listened to it like fifty times in a row.


You know what else is all kinds of sexiness? Having your first book published (um, not that I would personally know anything about that). Congratulations Gura!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Grab Bag

Lea doesn't care how much I roll my eyes, she still wants to walk through the vaguely creepy (no, I do not want to purchase a life-size plaster penguin, thanks) holiday ornament place that Macy's has stuffed into an old Victoria's Secret storefront. I believe it's called "Holiday Lane." And of course it's been there since early October. But they do have brown angels, and for this I'm sort of happy:


***


In A Scream Goes Through the House, author Arnold Weinstein discusses the artist as colonizer. "The territory the artist colonizes, the vineyard he toils in, is you." Which, if I'm not mistaken, is pretty much the same as saying "you are what you read." Or maybe "you are what you make of your reading." Or maybe just "stop reading crappy stuff." All of which I'm totally okay with.

***


Speaking of reading, I continue to find amazing children's books that nurture my growing fascination with fairytales. A recent favorite is Babushka Baba Yaga, written by Patricia Polacco. It starts like this:

She was the last of her kind. A creature of legends. A being of the forest. She ruled her woods alone.

I love that. It reads like a promise to the lucky reader.

***


Also speaking of reading, I finished Zadie Smith's On Beauty a few weeks back. Judging from the way I ripped through it, I think it qualifies as a "page-turner." It's a fascinating exploration of the intellectual vs. the...what's the opposite...the physical? I don't know. My online thesaurus says the antonym is "stupid," but if that's the true opposite of intellectual, then I'm in a world of trouble, folks. Leave your suggestions in the comments, please. Anyways, Ms. Smith undergoes this exploration via the 30-some-odd year marriage of a white ivy league art professor and an African-American nurse. It is at turns smart, relevant, heartbreaking, and hilarious. As in White Teeth, the author displays an uncanny knack for capturing the voice of almost anyone, but there was one noticeable and frequent mistake. I point it out only because I think it's weird that her editor didn't catch it. Or maybe I'm wrong? Regardless, the African-American characters say, "Am I meant to be grateful?" or "Am I meant to be happy about that?" etc., etc. I'm nitpicking, but it did boot me right out of the fictional dream a few times.

***


Speaking of air hockey...oh, wait. We were not speaking of air hockey. But now we are! At yet another Safari Run birthday party on Sunday, my very best childhood friend and I went head-to-head in a spirited game of air hockey. And by spirited I mean we squealed like baby pigs, transformed into unrecognizably cutthroat competitors, and performed odd-for-us physical mannerisms such as fist-pumping and hands-over-head victory signs followed by distinctly Mick Jagger strutting.

And because I care so very deeply for you, I'll go ahead and leave you with that visual.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Am I Blue?

Hell yes.

House and Senate?

Nancy Pelosi?

Now I just hope my not-so-secret wish for 2008 comes to pass.

*simultaneously screaming, dancing, and grinning*

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why I Am Not a Teacher

Yesterday, I helped Risa's class in the science lab. Today, I helped Vida's. It was the second time that each class had been to this new and rightfully exalted campus hotspot.

Each class was broken down into teams of four to work on the same task. A task, I was informed, that would take three sessions (this being the second) to complete. I was all Three sessions? What're they doing—cloning a bevy of small animals? In fact, no. All they had to do was inventory large storage boxes filled with various building pieces: axles, wheels, tubes, etc. Each team had a Recorder, Retriever, Sorter, and Counter.

I was directed to shrug my shoulders in the exaggerated manner of a circus clown any time a child asked me a question. The Head Science Lady explained, "We want them to figure everything out themselves."

Well, the whole "figuring everything out themselves" was the problem right there, folks. Because, really, how long could I be expected to watch these little kids completely butcher their assignment without screaming, "What are you? CRAZY? Why are the four of you just sticking your heads in the box? Sit up, take that shit out, sort it, count it, and write it down. For the love of honeybees and dovetail swallows, get your heads out of the box."

So, yeah. That's why I'm not a teacher. And why I'm sometimes a very bad mom (although never with the potty mouth, I swear).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dirty Bastard & Dancing Queens

Could this be true? Everyone knows he's capable of much worse, so I certainly wouldn't put this juvenile bullshit past him:

Karl Rove has been bragging for weeks about his "72-hour program" to swing the elections, which predict a Democratic takeover of Congress.

Now we know what it is: a dirty trick campaign using robocalls.

The calls are made to Democrats and swing voters at all times of day or night to make them angry. And they pretend to be from the Democrat ("Hello, I'm calling with information about Lois Murphy"). If you hang up, they call back 7-8 times, and each time you hear the Democrat's name, to get you angry at him or her. If you stay on, you get to hear a scathing attack on the Democrat.


via Democrats.com

Whatever. Just make sure to vote tomorrow so we can start cleaning up this ridiculous mess.

Now onto the Dancing Queens portion of this post:

Had I known that so much fun could be had while clad entirely in non-breathing fabric, I would have made vastly different wardrobe choices during my life. And if I had known the deep level of satisfaction that could be attained while spinning around singing "Dancing Queen" as colored lights flashed all about, I would have made vastly different leisure choices. And another thing? Fondue is really good.

One of my friends was wearing a red jumpsuit and a gold "SuperFox" necklace. I was so jealous.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Is It Just Me...

...or does everyone want to crawl into bed—right this minute! At 2:09 in the afternoon!—with a book, read for an hour, fall asleep, and not wake up until someone knocks on your door bearing a breakfast tray?

Not gonna happen.

But never mind. I may not be hitting the flannel sheets anytime soon, but at least writing has re-entered my little life. When, Ver? When did this small miracle occur? Well, since you asked, I will tell you that it happened this morning as I waited in the car for Lea's art class to finish up. I usually take that time to run a few quick errands or return phone calls or make appointments, but today I decided to bring my laptop and just sit in the car. I purposely (purposefully?) did not bring any reading material, my headphones, or my moleskine. Amazing what can be accomplished when you only give yourself one option. Okay, maybe two: stare out the window at the rain or write. I was in the thick of it in no time, and then—in what seemed like ten minutes, tops—it was over. Mom duties rule the rest of the day, but I just checked my schedule and eleven to midnight is wide open...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hearth/Home

As you can probably imagine, I am deep, deep into the domestic. Pumpkin seeds are roasting, almonds are toasting, one soup is finished and the other is being prepped, cupcakes are cooling, and final costume details have been settled upon. The SU carved all the jack o' lanterns yesterday (of note is the clever kitty cat), we are fully stocked with candles, and we christened the fireplace tonight.

Right on cue, my FedEx from Rusty Zipper Vintage Clothing arrived today (you'll recall this is for the upcoming Saturday Night Fever party).

So much polyester, so very little time.

I'm torn between using the Vera scarf as a headwrap (it would create a very Rhoda Morgenstern look, if I'm not mistaken), which puts both said scarf and the super-disco twisty silver earrings at good advantage, or tying the scarf around my neck and leaving my hair down, which does a small disservice to the earrings.

And this is my life at the moment. Which makes me either ridiculous or fantastic. I can't decide which...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Panic(king) At the Disco

At the auction a few months back, we were part of a large group of friends who bid aggressively on a "Saturday Night Fever" party. We won it, and now the glittery event is fast approaching. The female half of the group has organized a shopping trip to some vintage stores, but due to severe scheduling conflicts here at Nesting Ground, I am unable to go.

That's why they invented online shopping.

I apologize for not being able to post pictures. I didn't realize they would disappear immediately from the site once my sale went through. But fear not! For the descriptions alone will conjure the requisite images. Imagine if you will, your Nesting Ground hostess darkening your doorstep while wearing an authentic 70s...

Violet sheeny dacron lightweight polyester double knit long sleeve solid disco shirt with tapered body and extra long collar points

Along with...

A polyester double knit skirt, with a shaped waist and moderate A line cut. The white background has a diagonal textured pattern, with a silver hi lite thread

And tied at her neck a...

Vera womens scarf in greek key print silk. Purple, white and yellow with signature lady bug

And clipped to her tender earlobes...

Shiny, silver-tone earrings, having an interlocking, looped twist

Is your skin reacting negatively to the polyester content? Well, hold onto your bellbottoms because the spousal unit will be sporting...

A sheer polyester broadcloth long sleeve print disco shirt with tapered body in white, yellows, oranges, golds, blues, dark greens, wonderful fantasy print with couple on flying carpet passing a castle, lake and trees with clouds on back and woman aproaching the carpet on the front - wow!

"Wow" is right. And to complete his look...

Levis navy blue polyester denim 4-pocket flat-front jeans-style 517 flare pants

I cannot tell you how hard I was laughing when I clicked the "purchase" button on the "flying carpet" disco shirt. But getting back to me (all Nesting Ground roads return to me, in case you didn't notice)...if it's not 100% clear from the descriptions, I'm personally attempting a sort of Bianca Jagger meets Carol Brady vibe. Hair? Dramatically feathered, of course. And I'm considering going to Sephora that afternoon to have false eyelashes applied. So, I guess it would actually be...Bianca Jagger meets Carol Brady meets Farrah Fawcett meets Diana Ross in the "Mahogany" photo shoot scene.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Confessions

1. I ate lunch at Taco Bell yesterday for the first time in at least a year. It was freaking excellent. If you factor in my recent intake of Spam fried rice, I should drop dead by noon tomorrow. I have loved you all.

2. Vida has the major sneezies and is upstairs in bed. I am secretly pleased about this because it gives me a valid excuse to stay home and putter. Yes, I putter.

3. I heard an old Babyface song on the radio yesterday, and it sounded so good that I had to download it as soon as I got home. He's all wondering when his heart will beat again and when he can see me again. Poor guy.

4. R & V have reached the patty-cake/chanting portion of their childhoods, and even though I have to hear the same chant up to forty times a day and even though it refers to finding a boyfriend and makes almost no sense at all, I love it. Especially when they're in a circle with five or six other girls. Here's how it goes:

Down down baby down by the rollercoaster
Sweet sweet baby I'll never let you go
Shimmy shimmy cocoa puff
Shimmy shimmy shine [this is my favorite part because everyone puts their hair behind their ears in s-l-o-w motion while they drag out the word 'shine']
I met a boyfriend
A biscuit!
He's so sweet
A biscuit!
Apples on the table
Peaches on the floor
Step back baby
I don't want you no more
One two three four
Inky binky salad bar
Inky binky boo
Inky binky salad bar
A boy loves you!

5. And, finally, I want this bracelet:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

For Aimee: One Extra-Large Order of Spam Fried Rice

But only in the virtual sense. For behold! This is the exact batch I brought to breakfast:


If you click it to get the larger view, you can actually taste the salt.

I am happy to report that every last bit was consumed. And so, dear ones, let us have a moment of silence to honor the greatness that is...Spam.

Iffy.

We will shortly trek up the street for a Neighborhood Breakfast with ten or twelve other families. This is the fourth or fifth such breakfast, and I have always played it safe. I believe I brought lemon muffins (from scratch, ya naysayers) to the last one. But this time, I'm breaking free.

Yes.

This time I'm bringing Spam fried rice.

I feel so vulnerable.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blip.

Okay.

I'm not really sure where this week went. I believe I spent most of it inside my head, fretting incessantly over a question any parent will eventually incessantly fret over: How long do I let me kid try to sort through her own situation before I step in to vociferously advocate on her behalf? And what message does this stepping-in send her? What message does it send others?

I figured everything out over the course of a few days, but I am stunned now to realize how much of my mental energy was directed towards this one thing. It's not even a particularly teeth-gnashing situation. But at this point I'm imagining What if it were? What if the stakes were higher? I'll tell you what would happen. I'd transform into some sort of three-headed, sword-wielding, fire-spitting mother goddess of revenge and destruction, that's what. It's good to know this now, I suppose.

To stave off the e-mails from those who frequently send love my way, I will repeat: this is not a big deal, my lovelies. Just the tiniest blip along an otherwise perfectly straight line.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?"

That's an approximate quote from Oliver Twist, right there. You know the scene from the movie, I'm sure. It's when Oliver, dressed in his fantastically chic ragamuffin clothes, bravely approaches the mean head-of-the-orphanage guy, holds out his empty bowl and makes his sad little request for more gruel.

I'm feeling much like Oliver these days because I am preparing to approach a foundation for additional funding to support deeper, more intensive Latino outreach work at R & V's school. Everything we did last year has created a solid base for this next step, and I'm determined not to miss the opportunity. But the amount I'm seeking is enough to buy a 500-series BMW, which I find sorta embarrassing, and for which I feel apologetic. As in I'm so sorry to bother you, but can you please give me tens of thousands of dollars just for being, you know, me?

What I fail to keep in mind as I'm researching and writing these grant proposals is that foundations do not look for reasons to turn you down; they look for reasons to say yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes we can have more gruel.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just Once, Believe the Hype

The spousal unit's place of business (hey, don't skip the intro or you'll miss out on much sexiness from Christy Turlington and Apolo Ohno, although not together, because that might have caused computer screens around the world to explode) has joined with others here, here, here, and here, to raise money for the global fund, which helps women/children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

You're gonna buy a cell phone, iPod, t-shirt, tank, jacket, etc. etc. anyways. Why not make it red?

It's the weekend. Go forth and shop.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fifteen & Counting

It's that day of the year, my lovelies. The day I open up the ol' wedding album to catch a glimpse of our youth, take a moment to reflect on the many instances of spectacular foolishness I have displayed during the past fifteen years, and then a nice long swath of time to be grateful for the man who so unwaveringly hangs out with me and who—just when I need to hear it—will ask, "Hey, what should we be when we grow up?"

Monday, October 09, 2006

One Day At the Fair

How pissed would you be if you were this sheep? Poor little wrinkly, vulnerable thing. I wish they'd shaved the entire animal, rather than leave just that undignified hint of Lucy Ricardo up on top. The more I look at this picture, the more questions I have. Is it difficult to see when your eyes are that far apart? What, exactly, does this sheep do for fun? Does it have a favorite song?


Here, now, is one tired sow. Even she knows that you might as well catch up on your sleep while nursing. Either that, or read People magazine.


People were surprisingly willing to have their picture taken by a complete stranger. The spousal unit easily received permission from this woman—let's call her...I don't know...Tish—who was about to dig her cherry-red talons into this here funnel cake:


And this kid—let's call him...I don't know...Arthur—was happy to offer Nesting Ground readers a look at his lunch. Please note that he'd already taken several bites of this one hundred and seventy-five foot corndog. Later, he used the stick in a jousting match at the Renaissance Fair near Casa de Fruta:


The prize for Best Hair at Fair goes to...


There was also a prize for Best Fancy Caballero Wearing Shiny Boots, Shiny Gold Chains, and Stunning Black Cowboy Hat Emblazoned with Gold Embroidered "Montes" on the Right Side, but, alas, no picture. Instead, I offer a photo of a vaguely (or perhaps explicitly) embarrassing squash:


And behold! The zany fingered citron:


Oh, but that's not all. Here, Risa and Lea shower their affection on a 270-lb. pumpkin:


And, finally, the requisite photo booth picture in which it is now virtually impossible to fit all our children:



'Til next year, Big Fresno Fair...

Friday, October 06, 2006

If It's October...

...than it must be time for the Big Fresno Fair.

Oh, don't be jealous. I'll take a picture of the prize-winning squash, pig, and cow for you. I will eat a funnel cake for you. I will order a baked potato with an ice cream scoop of butter on top, and then flip the butter off and into the garbage can for you. I will purchase a big bag of kettle corn for you, but unfortunately I will not share it with you. I will sit on a piece of burlap and slide down the super gigantic-o slide for you. I will take note of the crazy women who wear high heels to the fair. I will squeeze into the photo booth with my family and take pictures for you. So don't be jealous.

And that evening, when it's all over, I will kindly ask my mother-in-law to babysit the girls so we can sneak out to catch a showing of this. Which might be a corny thing to do, but you know what? I don't care! Add it to my "Perfectly Legitimate Reasons to Mock Me" list, and we'll discuss later.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is This Snooping? Plus Something About Hamburgers

Vida likes to write and draw, so when I'm out running errands, I will often grab a little notebook for her. Not only does this prevent her from grabbing sheet after sheet from my printer, it also gives her a satisfying sense of ownership, as in this is my notebook. I gave her one today, and she immediately sat down to write. Then she left it open on the table, and I couldn't help it: I had to take a picture. It's probably only because I'm her mother, but this cracks me up:



It's technically snooping, though, isn't it? I swear I never read the diary she keeps under her pillow; I don't even touch it. I thought this was sorta fair game, though.

****


Doesn't it drive you crazy when someone orders a hamburger with tons of stuff on it, and then while they're eating it all the stuff (of course) starts to dribble out and onto their hands and then they start to lick their hands every few seconds? What if you and a friend happen to walk into a burger joint and your friend happens to know the accused hand-licker, and your friend says, "Oh, Ver, I'd like you to meet Joe-I-Put-Too-Much-Stuff-On-My-Hamburger Jones," and because your mother raised you right, you hold out your hand for some mutual shaking action? And then later on you read a blog that complains about Secret Hand Lickers and you realize you may have fallen prey to one. Wouldn't that be unfortunate?

Take it easy on the condiments, everyone. There's not like a shortage or anything.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Perfectly Legitimate Reasons to Mock Me

UPDATE:

8. I forgot to close my tags on #3, which made it look as if I love this blog. What I actually love is this blog. Very mockable mistake.

***


1. I watched "Take the Lead" all by myself last night. And I liked it.

*ducks and covers to avoid hurled tomatoes*

2. When I see a baby doing something like nestling its head into its caretaker's neck or looking startled (but not crying), I always say this: oy, yoy, yoy. I don't know why. At this point it's involuntary.

3. Perhaps not technically a reason to mock me, but curious nonetheless: I love this blog.

4. I used the crockpot to make some horrible chicken and noodles recipe (okay, let me just admit it: I made white folks' food) I found in some random magazine so that R & V would have a hot lunch (yay for the person who invented the thermos!) on this cold day. You should mock me for this because, um, why didn't I just make adobo? Duh.

5. I am seriously considering a bowling party for R & V's seventh birthday. And mostly it's because I'm enamored with the idea of getting them custom bowling shirts.

*places hands over eyes to avoid watching you roll yours (eyes, that is)*

6. I am considering giving up entirely on trying to read Hunger's Brides because the motherf***er is 1,360 pages long and in hardcover. There is simply no comfortable way to read it. They've just released the softcover, marketing it as "the essential story from the epic, Hunger's Brides." The title has been changed to Sor Juana or The Breath of Heaven and, at 750 pages, it is probably far easier to read in bed than the original. Has this ever happened before?—Stalled reading due to physical discomfort caused by the book itself? And, more to the point, is this a mockable offense?

7. I have planned my entire life around the first episode of the new season of "Lost," which airs in a few days. I am not so much a loser; I am more of a loster.

New reasons occur daily, as you well know. But I think that's it for this Monday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Words to Write By, Plus Something About Salad

The following words have kept me going these past few weeks. I don't know where I ran across them—little torpedoes of useful and not-so-useful information come at us every which way these days. For all I know, they were on bumperstickers or someone's t-shirt. So, the first is a challenge:

Dare to suck.


Yes, of course! It's not like a choir of angels began to sing when I read the words, but there's no denying that the tension in my shoulders eased up considerably and I thought, "I can do that! I can totally suck!" It's still writing, after all. Even if it's sucky writing.

The second was a simple statement:

An idea is not a story.


Hmmm. Good point. Excellent point. When you start out with "I have this idea..." it's just not going to go anywhere. Because, really, stories don't come from the same place as ideas. This is difficult to remember, especially during a rough spot when you start wracking your brain for answers. I know it's a cliché, but if you're looking for answers, aim a little lower and to the left. If that's unsuccessful, try your solar plexus.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~* An Aside ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*


Doesn't it drive you crazy when someone orders a salad and then, when the waitperson places it in front of them, they hoist their fork and start to stab at it with a Norman Bates-like enthusiasm, every movement producing that horrible clacking sound of fork on porcelain? This is especially true when it's a composed salad of some kind, and the diner feels they need to have one cherry tomato, one chunk of feta, one cucumber, one leaf of romaine, and one slice of chicken breast in every single bite.

Take it easy on the salad, everyone. The salad has never done anything to you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Bayanihan or "Watching Filipinos Dance"

Many things stood between us and The Bayanihan: the girls' 11:00 soccer game, a Cal game that effectively rendered null the idea of driving to Berkeley, my fear that public transportation (BART) would prove unreliable, and my endless worry that one of the girls (or all of them!) would require a restroom at an inopportune moment. This last item involved a strategic doling out of liquids, a task that proved tricky since R & V had spent 45 minutes running up and down the soccer field in 80º weather.

But whaddaya know? The planets aligned, and we arrived on Shattuck a solid 45 minutes before curtain time. We made the short trek to Zellerbach, found a shady spot near the Bear's Lair, and quickly downed the picnic (okay, well maybe "picnic" is too glamorous a word) I'd prepared. It was then that I noticed a familiar-looking Pinoy gesticulating wildly as he chatted with a young couple. "There's Rhett!" I said.

"Who's Rhett?"

"Never mind, never mind. Just go over there and say 'Hi! We're Veronica's children,'" I said.

"Why?"

"Never mind! Just go, go. Come on, go!"

I'm sure you've noticed I do this all the time. I make people do things simply to feed my daily quota of necessary amusements. I am horrible that way. Anyway, they then proceeded to inch the fifty yards towards Rhett. They stood about ten feet behind him, giggling and taking turns pushing each other forward, taking a few steps back, whispering, and whatnot. All this was lost on Rhett, who continued his conversation. The spousal unit and I looked on. Finally, Rhett turned around. And since I don't know what transpired as they spoke (although I seem to remember seeing him mouth the words, "Veronica who?"), I will leave it to Rhett—Mr. Newly Minted American! Naks!— to report or not report the exchange.

All I know is that he gamely walked over to us, kids in tow, and gently berated us for scaring the hell out of him. "I heard these children's voices saying 'Hi Rhett!' and I thought...should I turn around?" So he was quite delightful.

But—and I'm sure he will not mind my saying so—not as delightful as the Bayanihan dancers. I am no judge in these matters, but between the costumes (at one point, all the women came out in black and white, and I audibly sighed with pleasure), the music, and the choreography, I was enthralled. I especially loved the piece they performed right after the intermission, "Mindanao Splendor," and most specifically their interpretation of the Sambi Sa Malong.

After it was all over, and we'd taken BART back to Daly City where we'd left our car, we ended up at the perfect spot to end the day: the In 'n' Out Burger in Millbrae. The spousal unit and I let the girls sit at their own table. They were quickly chatted up by three twenty-something-year-old men, who initially frightened me a little due to the fact that they all more or less looked like my personal idea of Satan. One had on a sweatshirt that read, "3 can keep a secret if 2 are dead." He never removed his hood. One—his name turned out to be Arturo—had stringy orange hair worn to the middle of his back, a goatee, and preternaturally large teeth that he continually bared (although to be fair, it was because he kept laughing). The last one was Federico, and he claimed to be Arturo's twin brother. His hair was black as night and sort of looked like Danny Patridge's, though with a lot more bouncin' and behavin' action, and he, too, kept a carefully tended goatee. Very curious, those three. Anyways, there was little to fear because, as the spousal unit pointed out, though you couldn't tell by simply looking at them, they'd make great babysitters.

At one point, Federico said to Risa, "So, where'd you guys come from?"

"Oh, we rode the train."

"Really? That's cool. From where?"

She looked at us for guidance, which we gave. "Berkeley," she repeated.

"Oh yeah? What were you doing there?"

"We watched Filipinos dance."

"What?" said Federico.

"We watched Filipinos dance."

"Dude! That's hilarious. Hey," he said, nudging the hooded guy, "Did you hear her? She was all 'we watched Filipinos dance'!"

And, well, when you put it that way, it was kind of hilarious.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Say It Isn't So

It doesn't really matter if this part is true; it's what I remember: I grew up in the Westlake section of Daly City, and there was a Chinese restaurant called "The Great Wall," and when you walked in you were immediately met with a glossy red circular architectural element and plenty of gold fringe. We used to take my grandparents there all the time.

This part is definitely true: Our menu selections always began with an order of silky Westlake Minced Beef Soup. I thought it was called this because it was invented at The Great Wall restaurant in the Westlake section of Daly City. I have believed this all my life, and have always felt a certain hometown pride when I would see Westlake Minced Beef Soup listed on the menu of Chinese restaurants far and wide.

(I love Westlake Minced Beef Soup)

Last night, when trying to scare up an idea for dinner, I realized I had all the ingredients for this beloved soup: beef, chinese parsley, green onion, eggs, chicken broth. It would have been easy enough to approximate the recipe, but I decided to google it just for the sake of googling it. And here is a blow-by-blow of my reactions as I read through one of the recipes:

Hmmm...first marinade the beef in a little soy sauce, sugar, pepper and cornstarch. I wouldn't have thought to do that. Hmmm...whip the eggs with some flour and then pour them into the soup through a sieve. Definitely wouldn't have done that. Hmmm..."Westlake minced beef soup probably takes its name from West Lake in Guangzhou, the soup's province of origin."

*look of horror and confusion*

Excuse me? Do you mean to tell me that Westlake Minced Beef Soup was not invented at the Great Wall restaurant in the Westlake Section of Daly City?

And just like that, my entire world was flipped topsy-turvy.

But I made the soup, and it was good.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nothing

After I drop the kids at school, I usually take off on an errand run that seems to always include the trifecta of Mom-dom: Target, Trader Joe's, and Safeway (where, yesterday, I suffered the indignity of bagging Fuji apples while The Captain & Tenille's "Do It To Me One More Time" played over the sound system. Stop for a moment and picture that. It's sad, is it not?). There's nothing inherently glamorous about my day-to-day, but give me some lipstick and a cool pair of flats and I can turn anything into an adventure.

Today, though, I returned to my nesting ground. I hear only the hum of the fridge and, somewhere a few blocks away, the ubiquitous sound of leafblowers. I paid the existing bills and opened and filed the new ones. I returned e-mail, cleared the breakfast dishes (Risa left a nice chunk of her apple-cinnamon muffin behind; I ate it), swept the kitchen floor, and invited a playmate over for Lea tomorrow afternoon. And not once was my train of non-thought interrupted.

I have done nothing, and there is no other way to put it: I have reveled in the nothing of it all.

But now it's almost time to pick up Lea. Lunch, anyone?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ix-Nay The Usic-May

I was recently accused of being a "nitpicker," but to that I would answer:

1) It's better than being a nose picker

and

2) Someone has to see to the details

All of which is my way of saying...I've had it with the music they play at my local Safeway. With all due respect to Sarah McLachlan, I do not want to "listen as the wind blows/from across the great divide" while I try to pick a ripe cantaloupe. And while I'm certain there are at least two scenarios in which I could, indeed, take Enrique Iglesias' breath away (if I punched him in the rock-hard abs twenty times, for example), I hardly need to hear him whisper so while I reach for a box of Grape Nuts. Finally, I'll admit there's a place and time to assert aloud that "there's got to be a morning after/we're moving closer to the shore," but it is decidely not while I'm checking a Pop-Tarts nutritional label for the hundredth time to see if I can locate any redeeming value whatsoever. Or maybe it is. I don't know.

They should just play language tapes or something. Why not master Esperanto while shopping for dinner? Or why not just have a pleasant voice issuing random compliments: "You look great! Are you working out?" or "Your posture is nothing short of outstanding!" Things like that.

What? I'm not allowed to have ideas? Stop yelling at me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Happy Post

After spending four days on the road, the weary spousal unit returned home for our joyous reunion, only to be greeted by a wife who would not shut up. I talked the poor man's ears clear off his head. He listened and listened and listened, and at the end of it all he said, "Okay. Now what's making you happy?"

Um, good point.

So without further residue, I present the things that are making me happy at the moment:

1) A little stipend from Bamboo Ridge, along with an invitation to possibly read at the University of Hawai'i in November.

2) Investigating Risa and Vida's desks at Back-to-School night. In her journal, Vida wrote a whole thing about a day when she got super mad and stomped up to her room. She illustrated it and made little thought bubbles over her head. They said, "Fine!" and "Okay!" Risa's teacher ends each day with a poetry reading. I like Risa's teacher.

3) A spousal unit who passed me a crumpled napkin as I passed by him on my way to do some job or another at the fundraiser last weekend. At first I was all hello? I'm not a garbage can, but then I uncrumpled it and it said...well, never mind. That's between us, ya nosy freaks.

4) Lea so comfortable and thriving at preschool this year.

5) E-mails from Barbara Jane and Joanne.

6) Tony Robles' e-mail agreement to do Author Day in February at R & V's school!

7) My local and brand-new Main Library, which is basically...paradise. I sat down at a computer there on Tuesday and wrote for two hours straight. The banter of four old men playing side-by-side chess games helped to keep things from being intimidatingly hush-hush. Of course I eavesdropped. "I'm not happy with my performance," said Man #1. To which his opponent responded, "Remember, it's only a game." Man #1 took umbrage: "Chess is not just a game! It is never just a game!" Yikes.

There. That wasn't so hard.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hark! A Skirmish!

I have a short and rather appalling history of entering into certain blog skirmishes. I've been wondering why this is, and all I can come up with is that I must be making up for those times when an actual face-to-face confrontation left me speechless and I wound up waking up in the middle of the night thinking Dammit! I shoulda said.... The blogosphere allows me to "write-fight," which comes much more naturally to me. Some might argue that the anonymity of the Internet makes me more comfortable saying what I feel, but I would argue that Nesting Ground is not an anonymous space: real name, real picture, real kids and spousal unit, etc. etc.

All of which is to say that I almost got caught up in it again, but I think I succeeded in reigning myself in. I don't know; check it out for yourselves in the comments here and here. What do you think, A.D.?—Have I learned anything?

Today I started reading a book called Packaging Girlhood by Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., and Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. From the statement on their website:

We write about how “girl power” has been co-opted by marketers of music, fashion, books, cartoons, TV shows, movies, toys, and more to mean the power to shop and attract boys, and how girls are encouraged to use their “voice” to choose accessorizing over academics, sex appeal over sports, and boyfriends over friends. We expose these stereotypes and the very limited choices presented of who girls are and what they can be.

This is why I can't nod and say oh, I see now; you're totally right to those who support the imagery in the Generation 2 "Bebot" video with arguments like, "Well, it's like that in all the videos," and "There was no wardrobe for the shoot. The girls wore what they wanted to wear," etc. etc. Those are comments that simply reveal how easy it is for all of us to be manipulated. They are not comments that get to the root of the issue.

You know what gets to the root of the issue? This 7-minute documentary that the lovely Joanne found on Kiwi's blog. If you have 7 minutes, you should watch. If you don't have 7 minutes, you should watch anyway.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Emancipation of ViVi

(Not to be confused with the Emancipation of Mimi, which clearly involves an addiction to the inflating of various body parts, extending of hair, erasing of fine lines, and all manner of skullduggery...)

My particular mini-emancipation simply refers to a certain large fundraising event being nicely wrapped up late Saturday evening, and Lea heading back to preschool today. Not that I'm all loose-goosey-miss-throw-your-cares-to-the-wind-let's-go-to-the-spa person now or anything. It just means there's some time for those simple but essential pleasures (or pains, depending on my outlook on life at any given moment) that transform me from harpy to human: reading, writing, excercising. And so I am a few pages into Neil Gaiman's Stardust (at last, at last, I know the curious thing that occurs every nine years in the Village of Wall); I have cardio'ed (Pilates I've stayed with lo these past 2 months; cardio not so much); and I'm readying a story to be sent far, far away in the hopes that it will not return until set between a front and back cover.

And there's time for general anxieties, too, which is quite a luxury. I have time to be anxious, for example, about the little bit of talking I'm required to do at Back-to-School night on Thursday. It's likely that it won't amount to more than five minutes, but I have to tell you that five minutes spent up front and center before a group of 100 or so tired, rushed-for-time, blank-faced, and sorta squirming parents can be its own sort of hell. I know, I know: just imagine they are attired only in their underwear. Thanks.

Just heard from that most wandering of poets, Señor Pat Rosal, who is ensconced just 20 minutes away but whom I will have to miss this time around. And to this I proclaim: Bah! In honor of his visit and our mutual appreciation of shoes, I was about to post a picture of my most recent acquisition. However, due to technical difficulties here at Nesting Ground, a picture of the first tomato ever grown in our garden will have to...oh, shoot! I can't do that one either. Let's see...in honor of Pat's visit, here is a picture of sweet Vida at her first soccer game (which I had to miss), where she was apparently injected with a full vial of testosterone and encouraged to skedaddle about like a feral beast. The title of this blog post now makes much more sense:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Still Here. I Think.

I read this on another blog (apologies for not remembering which), and it suits the moment: I'm not dead, but I am buried.

I feel like I'm lying down and there are 547 (not 546, not 543. 547) itchy, wet wool blankets on top of me. Every time I complete one of the often ludicrous tasks on my list, some unseen presence peels one blanket back. I don't know where the blankets end up, but I hope it's not on top of you. The good news is that 1) being buried and all, I am only dimly aware of the unprecedented mess that currently constitutes my home and 2) I should be free from most of the blankets by this time next week.

Which is my roundabout way of saying that I'll be leaving the nest for a few days, my lovelies. I'm going to sign off with an excerpt from the story I'm writing. Or, to be more precise, the story I'm theoretically writing. When I return, it'll serve to remind me that writing is something I do.

'Cuz I keep forgetting, dammit.

Anyways, here's a little bit of it. No title, no nothing:

It is Marivic’s idea of what an old white woman might like: loose black tea, a tin of English lemon biscuits, petite cubes fashioned from pink sugar, and—Marivic loved this best—a tea strainer in the shape of a house. She’d packed it all with exaggerated care into a floral gift bag and tied it with raffia. But when she smiled and handed it to Mrs. Harrison, she knew immediately she’d made a mistake. Better to have brought a bottle of Scotch or a ladies’ polo shirt from Pebble Beach. Marivic made a mental note to always take her new mother-in-law’s subtle hints at face value: “Tish? Tish once played golf with President Bush! The older one, mind you,” she had said. And also, “That Tish loves her cocktail hour.”

“Well, thank you, sweetheart,” Mrs. Harrison said. She fingered the raffia as if it were the hair of an ugly child.

“You’re so welcome. Thank you for having us, Mrs. Harrison.”

“Oh, call me Tish. The only Mrs. Harrison I ever knew was my mother-in-law!” She passed Marivic’s gift to a small, doughy woman who seemed to have emerged from the kitchen for just that purpose. “Now let me look at you,” she said. She held Marivic’s chin in her hand—her fingers smelled of tobacco—and turned the young woman’s face from side to side. Marivic wondered if she should open her mouth and allow her teeth to be inspected. “Lovely, Jonathan! Lovely.”

“Thanks, Tish. It’s great to see you. It’s been too long.” He embraced his mother’s childhood friend, crushing her thin body to his chest.

“You always were just too, too handsome,” Tish murmured. She excused herself then, explaining that she couldn’t miss her afternoon soap opera. The doughy woman—whose name turned out to be Penny—showed Jonathan and Marivic to their room.

“You look familiar,” Jonathan said. “You’ve worked here a long time, haven’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I have. I remember when you were just a boy. What a firecracker you were!”

Jonathan laughed and turned to Marivic, who usually couldn’t get enough of hearing stories about his childhood mishaps: the time he mistook shaving cream for whipped cream, for example, or his uncanny ability to break a window whenever a ball of any sort left his hands.

The first time Jonathan took Marivic home to his parents, she spent an inordinate amount of time leafing through the family photo albums, ever alert for any picture in which he appeared. Early on, Jonathan attributed this fervent curiosity about his childhood to her upbringing. After all, not only did the Lozada family know everything about each other, they made sure to know everything about anyone else who innocently wandered into close proximity. Jonathan thought of them as a human vacuum or—on his less patient days—as a giant preying mantis sucking all available information out of passersby. He had yet to recover from the time one of Marivic’s aunts—he couldn’t remember which; there were several—asked him how much his house had cost. “Excuse me?” he’d said. And she repeated the question a little more slowly, thinking that her accent was standing in the way of proper communication. Jonathan skillfully responded not with how much his house had cost, but with how much it was worth on the market. The aunt was mollified.

But today Marivic wasn’t interested in the firecracker of a boy Jonathan used to be as he treaded the well-kept sidewalks of Albany, New York. She wasn’t laughing, or even smiling. After Penny had left the room and shut the door behind her, Marivic said, “What, exactly, were you thanking her for?”

“Who? Penny?”

“No, not Penny, for God’s sake. Tish. Were you thanking her for saying that I was ‘lovely’? That so does not make any sense, Jonathan.”

At times like this, Jonathan realized what an excellent mother Marivic would one day be. He admired her unwavering idea of what constituted acceptable and unacceptable behavior. He loved the way she smirked when angry. The hand on her hip, the tilt of her small, perfect head. She had no idea that her scolding only made him want to remove her clothing as quickly as possible. “But you are lovely,” he said, tackling her onto the bed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back-To-School

R & V started first grade today. We decided to split them up, and despite the vocal protestations that were a staple of our summer days ("You'll never tear us apart! We'll always be together! You can't do this!"), they ended up marching into their respective classrooms without a peep. If you knew them personally, if you knew, for example, that great swaths of the day can evaporate without them ever closing their mouths, then you would find this as remarkable as I do. And they are in school for a full day now, as opposed to coming home at lunchtime like they did last year (I glanced over at this year's crop of Kindergarteners, by the way, and found them very...short), which means that they are away from me far more than they ever have been. And though I knew this intellectually, I clearly hadn't dealt with it emotionally and, well, the whole thing fissured my stony little heart. Luckily, I have one more on the backburner, and she just happens to be—with the exception of her father—the world's best most excellent breakfast companion:


She just sits and eats and drinks and chats. No fidgeting, no whining, no can-we-go-let's-go-I-want-to-go. She makes observations about passers-by ("Oh, look! She's very sassy."), greets familiar faces, looks askance at the newbies who approach us. We fell immediately into our old routine. After breakfast, we fed the parking meter and continued down the street to the stationery store, where she always stocks up on stickers, bookmarks, and random plastic things (today it was a combination pencil sharpener and spinning fan). Then it's on to the bookstore, where we read some new things together but where—strangely—she mostly likes me to read books we already have at home. Finally, we window-shop our way back down the street, climb into the car, and head home so she can put her stickers to use. One day I'll have to tell her how much comfort these simple things afforded her rather brokenhearted Mom.

***


New and interesting posts/links over at About Bebot—A Collective Review. In one of them, I believe I am being chastised for my previous post. All I can say in my defense is..."if you've got breasts, stick it out and be freakin' proud of it!" Come on now. Someone would have had to tie my hands behind my back to keep me from saying something. And even then, I probably would have called the Nesting Ground Corporate Office and dictated a post to my staff of eager assistants, who would have loyally uploaded it on my behalf. And then I would have realized that there is no Nesting Ground Corporate Office and I would have leaned over my desk, clamped a pen between my teeth and pecked out something, somehow. Even if it looked like this: "slcoewidkg! nos;ktied! lol! s3k;rer;asl?"

'Cuz, well, that's just me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I...I'm Just...I...Well. Okay, Then!

I don't generally make public fun of anyone except our current administration and Mariah Carey. And I don't intend to start now. It's just that when I checked out Patricio Ginelsa's blog for the latest and greatest in "Bebot" comments, I found the following (the comment has since disappeared into the ether, which is probably the way I should leave it but, really, why should I be one of the few who had to suffer through its reading?) made by someone whom—according to her MySpace profile—is a 32-year-old woman living in Ilinois:

Filipinas should be proud of what their momma gave them! Nothing wrong with dancing sexy! The video is about BeBOt! for crying out loud ! Why is sexy so wrong? Many Filipinas are gifted with beautiful bodies, we should all celebrate that and be confident! if you've got breasts, stick it out and be freakin' proud of it! Dance sexy and be happy and let'z all rejoice our "b-e-b-o-t-n-e-s-s"!

Talk about missing the point entirely. Or maybe it's me? Maybe I've lost my sense of humor entirely. Maybe i just need to calm my reactionary ass down and "dance sexy and be happy and...rejoice in...'b-e-b-o-t-n-e-s-s.'"

Friday, August 25, 2006

And Unicorns Are Real.

Please. President Bush and EWM (that's Evil White Man) Karl Rove are participating in a contest to see who can read the most books this year. George has apparently finished sixty books, which puts him ten ahead of EWM.

I want to make a joke. I would love to make a joke. I'm in a joke-y mood. I appreciate a challenge, though, and to make a joke here would be, well, too easy-peasy even for me-sy.

Link.

Have a good weekend, all. And don't forget to check out About Bebot - A Collective Review when you have some time. FYI, my favorite person of the week is Kiwi.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More Bebot

1) Two folks from the University of Washington have added their signatures to the Open Letter:

Kiko Benitez
Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature
Univ. of Washington

Rick Bonus
Associate Professor, American Ethnic Studies
Univ. of Washington

2) Please check out the the new About Bebot: A Collective Review blog. Eventually, you'll find the various responses to the letter collected here. So keep checking back! For now, there's a link to Patricio Ginelsa's blog at My Space, where he has posted the letter and asked for comments.

3) Patricio (a fellow Daly City-er!) has e-mailed us privately, and asked that the communication remain private. As much as I think sharing the exchange would benefit the discussion, I know we need to honor his request.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Open Letter re: the "Bebot" Video(s)

[ANOTHER UPDATE: So, folks, there is much ado about this letter in cyberspace at the moment. The undersigned are looking for a spot to collect the responses. Said responses are, as expected, both supportive and extremely harsh. The latter is disappointing, as the letter was written...eh, more on this later]

[UPDATE: Thank you to Luisa Igloria and Aimee Nez for adding their signatures!]

To Apl.de.Ap, Patricio Ginelsa/KidHeroes, and Xylophone Films:

We, the undersigned, would like to register our deep disappointment at the portrayal of Filipinas and other women in the new music videos for the Black Eyed Peas’ song, “Bebot.” We want to make it clear that we appreciate your efforts to bring Filipina/o Americans into the mainstream and applaud your support of the Little Manila of Stockton. However, as Filipina/o and Filipina/o American artists, academics, and community activists, we are utterly dismayed by the portrayal of hypersexualized Filipina “hoochie-mama” dancers, specifically in the Generation 2 version, the type of representation of women so unfortunately prevalent in today’s hip-hop and rap music videos. The depiction of the 1930s “dime dancers” was also cast in an unproblematized light, as these women seem to exist solely for the sexual pleasure of the manongs.

In general, we value Apl.de.Ap’s willingness to be so openly and richly Filipino, especially when there are other Filipina/o Americans in positions of visibility who do not do the same, and we appreciate the work that he has done with the folks at Xylophone Films; we like their previous video for “The Apl Song,” and we even like the fact that the Generation 1 version of “Bebot” attempts to provide a “history lesson” about some Filipino men in the 1930s. However, the Generation 2 version truly misses the mark on accurate Filipina/o representation, for the following reasons:

1) The video uses three very limited stereotypes of Filipina women: the virgin, the whore, and the shrill mother. We find a double standard in the depiction of the virgin and whore figures, both of which are highly sexualized. Amidst the crowd of midriff-baring, skinny, light-skinned, peroxided Pinays – some practically falling out of their halter tops – there is the little sister played by Jasmine Trias, from whom big brother Apl is constantly fending off Pinoy “playas.” The overprotectiveness is strange considering his idealization of the bebot or “hot chick.” The mother character was also particularly troublesome, but for very different reasons. She seems to play a dehumanized figure, the perpetual foreigner with her exaggerated accent, but on top of that, she is robbed of her femininity in her embarrassingly indelicate treatment of her son and his friends. She is not like a tough or strong mother, but almost like a coarse asexual mother, and it is telling that she is the only female character in the video with a full figure.

2) We feel that these problematic female representations might have to do with the use of the word “Bebot.” We are of course not advocating that Apl change the title of his song, yet we are confused about why a song that has to do with pride in his ethnic/national identity would be titled “Bebot,” a word that suggests male ownership of the sexualized woman – the “hot chick.” What does Filipino pride have to do with bebots? The song seems to be about immigrant experience yet the chorus says “ikaw ang aking bebot” (you are my hot chick). It is actually very disturbing that one’s ethnic/national identity is determined by one’s ownership of women. This system not only turns women into mere symbols but it also excludes women from feeling the same kind of ethnic/national identity. It does not bring down just Filipinas; it brings down all women.

3) Given the unfortunate connection made in this video between Filipino pride and the sexualized female body both lyrically and visually, we can’t help but conclude that the video was created strictly for a heterosexual man’s pleasure. This straight, masculinist perspective is the link that we find between the Generation 1 and Generation 2 videos. The fact that the Pinoy men are surrounded by “hot chicks” both then and now makes this link plain. Yet such a portrayal not only obscures the “real” message about the Little Manila Foundation; it also reduces Pinoy men’s hopes, dreams, and motivations to a single-minded pursuit of sex.

We do understand that Filipino America faces a persistent problem of invisibility in this country. Moreover, as the song is all in Tagalog (a fact that we love, by the way), you face an uphill battle in getting the song and music video(s) into mainstream circulation. However, remedying the invisibility of Filipina/os in the United States should not come at the cost of the dignity and self-respect of at least half the population of Filipino America. Before deciding to write this letter, we felt an incredible amount of ambivalence about speaking out on this issue because, on the one hand, we recognized that this song and video are a milestone for Filipina/os in mainstream media and American pop culture, but on the other hand, we were deeply disturbed by the images of women the video propagates.

In the end we decided that we could not remain silent while seeing image after image of Pinays portrayed as hypersexual beings or as shrill, dehumanized, asexual mother-figures who embarrass their children with their overblown accents and coarseness. The Filipino American community is made up of women with Filipino pride as well, yet there is little room in these videos for us to share this voice and this commitment; instead, the message we get is that we are expected to stand aside and allow ourselves to be exploited for our sexuality while the men go about making their nationalist statements.

While this may sound quite harsh, we believe it is necessary to point out that such depictions make it seem as if you are selling out Filipina women for the sake of gaining mainstream popularity within the United States. Given the already horrific representations of Filipinas all over the world as willing prostitutes, exotic dancers, or domestic servants who are available for sex with their employers, the representation of Pinays in these particular videos can only feed into such stereotypes. We also find it puzzling, given your apparent commitment to preserving the history and dignity of Filipina/os in the United States, because we assume that you also consider such stereotypes offensive to Filipino men as well as women.

Again, we want to reiterate our appreciation for the positive aspects of these videos – the history lesson of the 1936 version, the commitment to community, and the effort to foster a larger awareness of Filipino America in the mainstream – but we ask for your honest attempt to offer more full-spectrum representations of both Filipino men and Filipina women, now and in the future. We would not be writing this letter to you if we did not believe you could make it happen.

Respectfully,

Kiko Benitez
Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature
Univ. of Washington

Rick Bonus
Associate Professor, American Ethnic Studies
Univ. of Washington

Lucy Burns
Assistant Professor
Asian American Studies / World Arts and Cultures, UCLA

Fritzie De Mata
Independent scholar

Diana Halog
Undergraduate
UC Berkeley

Luisa A. Igloria
Associate Professor
Creative Writing / English, Old Dominion University

Veronica Montes
Writer

Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Assistant Professor, English
State University of New York-Fredonia

Gladys Nubla
Doctoral student
English, UC Berkeley

Barbara Jane Reyes
Poet and author

Joanne L. Rondilla
Doctoral candidate
Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

Rolando B. Tolentino
Visiting Fellow, National University of Singapore
Associate Professor, University of the Philippines Film Institute

Benito Vergara
Asian American Studies / Anthropology, San Francisco State University

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Kind of Sad, Really.

The girls are sitting out front playing a tambourine and two guitars (kid-sized). They are singing a medley of songs, including Chicago's "Saturday in the Park" and Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" (oh, Sunny, don't hate me). The goal, I believe, is to earn enough money from kind passers-by to purchase their own treats from the ice cream man. He will round the corner at any moment now, pushing his cart and tinkling his friendly dairy bells, so they are growing more and more nervous at the lack of traffic. I am convinced, though, that as long as they keep playing with their current fervor, our neighbors will creep out of their homes and pay them.


To stop, that is. Pay them to stop.