Sunday, April 30, 2006

D.C. Part 1 / The Framework

First of all, I had intended to thrill (well, maybe not thrill) you all by blogging live from the Carlos Bulosan Symposium. In fact, the title of my epic-length post was going to be "Live! From the Carlos Bulosan Symposium..." It was going to be so fantastic because I was going to send it directly into the ether without proofreading or editing of any sort. So perhaps a better title would have been "Raw! From the Carlos Bulosan Symposium..." Of course it doesn't matter much now since my lofty plans came to nothing because—and I find this highly suspect—I couldn't find an internet connection in the Library of Congress. Um, even my local public library has that. The exterior of my local public library, however, does not look like this:

And the interior of my local public library does not look like this:

Nor does the interior of my local public library dwarf me to such an extent that I feel the reality of being nothing, really, but a speck in the universe. See me here in the center of the picture? Not really? Squint your eyes. Still no? Told ya—a speck:

I must leave it at that for now, as I have things large and small to attend to here at the homestead. Let me just add that the weather was gorgeous, the company excellent, and the uninterrupted sleep blissful. Let me also add that I was feeling very nice and warm and lovely about my reading until someone posted a recap of the two-day event to the flips listserve and mentioned everyone except me. Hahahahahahahahahahaha! So while I'm still feeling fairly nice and warm and lovely about my reading, I'm not feeling all that unforgettable.

Which just goes to remind me once again: a speck!

Much more coming as soon as I'm able...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On Friday

I'm looking forward to learning more about Carlos Bulosan and his work. I know he's not in vogue, I know his writing is not as impressive as that of other Filipino writers, I know there are issues in his writing for a mainstream American audience, and that, well, he didn't quite have a handle on genre. But I have respect to spare for his accomplishments and for the place he holds in our literary history. Yup.

(Hey, check out the title of the man giving the keynote address: "Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary." I want one like that. Something like, "Person Superfantastical & Wonderfulacious." See what you can do and get back to me. Love ya. Mean it.)

Friday. April 28, 2006, Room LJ-119, Jefferson Building
Library of Congress

Welcome, by Dr. Hwa Wei Lee, Chair, Asian Division

Keynote Address by His Excellency Albert F. del Rosario. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of The Philippines

Blueprint for a Bulosan Project:Prospects for Renewing the Filipino Critical Imagination, by Dr. E. San Juan, Jr., Philippine Cultural Studies Center,

The Third Oriental Invasion: Filipino Immigrants as 'Race Problem' in the Early Twentieth Century American West, by Dr. Rick A. Baldoz, Visiting Fellow, Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity

Carlos Bulosan, the Postcolonial Poet, by Dr. Susan Evangelista, Palawan

Some Notes for Reconsidering Carlos Bulosan’s Third World Literary Radicalism, by Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Songs in Exile: A Musical Tribute, by Rod Garcia

Carlos Bulosan’s Songs of Innocence and Experience: From Utopian Americanism and Internationalism to Filipino Nationalist Politics and Culture, by Dr. Tim Libretti, Northeastern Illinois University

Are We There Yet? Mapping Carlos Bulosan's America Is In The Heart, by Dr. Jorshinelle Taleon-Sonza, Rutgers

Video footage: Scenes from THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO, adapted for the stage by Lonnie Carter, courtesy of Ma-Yi Theater New York

Carlos Bulosan: The Filipino Working Class Legacy as Reflected in the Alaska Cannery Workers' Experiences, by Cindy Domingo, Co-founder, the Carlos Bulosan Historical Project in Seattle

Bulosan's Laughter: The Making of Carlos Bulosan, by Dr. Lane Hirabayashi, University of California-Riverside & Marilyn Alquizola, San Francisco State

HEALING BY RECOLLECTING (a power point presentation), by Reme-Antonia Grefalda, Our Own Voice

Monday, April 24, 2006

Almost Airborne

I'm starting to get giddy over the prospect of heading to D.C. this weekend. At the same time, I feel a little silly. It's just 2 days in the city proper and 1 day of traveling, after all. But still. Would you like to know one of the things I am most relishing? The plane rides to and fro. I will be captive. I will not be able to see that there are dishes to be washed, glass to be cleaned, laundry to be folded, groceries to buy, and children to monitor and instruct. And if I cannot see it, it doesn't quite exist (children excepted). There will be nothing to do but read and write and nap. I don't even care if I catch a cold from the recycled air. I don't even care that my hair will get all static electricity-fied, my skin will be zapped of moisture, and my eyes will get itchy. Don't care, don't care.

(I will also prep for my reading, but out of enormous amounts of respect for the other passengers on the plane, as well as a genuine desire to appear sane, I will perform only silent preparatory duties. Hahahahahaha! Can you just imagine someone flinging one of those little liquor bottles at my head and telling me to "shaddup, will ya?")

Anyways, I'm still working out childcare logistics. My Mom's multiple sclerosis, combined with my Dad's penchant for allowing the kids to eat M & M's for lunch, prevent them from providing 100% coverage for us. They will be on hand a bit, though, while my excellent babysitter, G, will take on the bulk of responsibility. I'm thankful all three girls will all be in school when I leave, as the drama surrounding my exits has been a little intense lately.

In other Nesting Ground news, the weather finally cooperated enough to allow R & V and their Butterfly teammates the enjoyment of an afternoon spent swinging and fielding, first against the Bumblebees and then the Beatles. Here is Risa sizing up the ball:

And Vida, taking off after a hit to center field:

It was all kinds of cuteness, but one of the opposing team's players put a damper on things when she had a full-on Veruca Salt tantrum, complete with hitting her mom and dad (her dad was head coach), calling them "stupid," and generally being a horrible little person. Her father kept saying, "This is your last warning! This is your last warning!" but not following through. I wanted to say, "Hey, Super Dad, her last warning was like twenty warnings ago." Her complaint(s), by the way, centered around the fact that she was not allowed to wear a pink helmet and that she refused to play anything but third base. She should be loads of fun during the teen years.

And finally: is there nothing this man can't do? Seriously. If Snoop can do it, I have to believe I can do it, too. Fo shiz...never mind.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

+ 2

I'm blogging from the backyard, where I'm overseeing my girls and the addition of two more kids—brothers, ages 2 and 5. Their mom called at 7:30 this morning with a nanny emergency, and I was happy (okay, maybe not happy, but I wasn't annoyed or anything) to help out. If not for the boys, I wouldn't need to be out here at all, but there is something about the addition of testosterone into any equation that doesn't make me feel secure about, I don't know, vacuuming or whatnot while leaving them to their own devices. I'm intrigued by their need to wrestle. In generally related gender news, I recently read an article noting that boys tend to draw verbs, while girls draw nouns.

I'm so not fascinating right now.

The 2-year-old boy keeps calling me "mom." I keep saying, "I'm Veronica, right? Can you say 'Veronica'?" And he says, "Okay Mom." I've tried this maybe ten times today, but it's like talking to a (low) wall. At first, even though it seemed ridiculous, I thought maybe he was genuinely confused. Now I realize that the word "mom" is generic for him. "Mom" is simply any female who can feed him, tie his shoes, give him strawberries, change his diaper, or sternly say, "No! Absolutely not. Get down from there right now." In which case, yes, I'm his mom. It sure is pissing Lea off, though.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thinking On It

On a recent trip to Kinokuniya Bookstore (the same day we engaged in Sanrio photo booth fun), I couldn't resist buying Kip Fulbeck's new book Part Asian, 100% Hapa. It's a simple concept, beautifully executed: a basic portrait (from the shoulders up, very little make-up, no clothing) on the right-side page and a statement of identity (and a breakdown of ethnicity) in the subjects' own hand on the left-side page. There are, interestingly, no names.

I find the photos fascinating, and the statements even more so. But I have to admit to feeling a twinge of something's not quite right here, and I'm guessing that part of me must be objecting to the, well, objectification. One of the first things people comment on in regards to mixed race folks are their looks, after all, and this book does nothing to curb the tendency. I'm thinking now of my daughters and realizing that my annoyance threshold when it comes to this sort of thing depends entirely on who's doing the asking and how they're doing it. Anyways, the statements in the book often make up for the vaguely (obviously? subtly? I dunno...) fetish-like quality of the portraits. One woman writes:

What am I? Shouldn't you be asking my name first?

My favorite statement so far is from a young man:

Many of my ex-girlfriends were habitual half-asian daters. These women considered half-asian men "exotic," "sexy," and "just-like-Keanu Reves-in-the-Matrix."

I consider these stereotypes appropriate because I got laid.

Ohmalordy. So funny. And another fave from a twenty-something woman:

i am my mother's driving passion and my father's steady reason... a BATTLE TO THE DEATH.

Okay. I guess I should read the foreword, introduction, and afterword before passing any further judgements. Meanwhile, I highly recommend Kip's (that's what I call him now: I call him "Kip," and sometimes just "K") short film Lilo & Me, in which he documents his uncanny resemblance to every "ethnically ambiguous" animated Disney character ever committed to celluloid. Quicktime required, yo.

I just said "yo."

Goodness gracious.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What Is It Called...

...when you feel the need to post that you will not be posting for a few days? Because, really, I know all anyone is going to think upon reading such a post is um, okay, whatever.

But just so all is not wasted, I will report that there are few things in life more fun than the Sanrio photo booth at Japan Town. Witness:

If I knew how to read Japanese, these coulda been really fancy...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A New Addition to the Family

Bino's baby.



I'm sitting in Barnes & Noble (like, right now!), where I fully intended to work on some story revisions. I ordered a Diet Pepsi and took a seat near a group of about ten men deep in a quiet discussion about the bible, an old woman reading a book about bamboo, one young guy writing in his address book, and one late twenty-something man of (as far as I can discern) Middle Eastern origin wearing a rather smart royal blue track jacket, drinking tea and working on his Mac. He smiled at me when I pulled out mine because my screen is bigger. Hahahahahaha!

Anyways, about 10 minutes into my revisions, a pleasant looking white woman approaches Mr. Small Screen and says, "Do you come here every day?!" Her delivery is such that it's clear they know each other from somewhere.

"Oh, well, no. I'm working on some projects."

"Oh. Because it seems like you come here every day."

"I'm taking some classes, so I have projects." He is resolutely polite, but clearly wants to be left alone. Apparently this woman's female intuition is in need of a tune-up, though, because she just keeps standing over him.

For reasons I cannot fathom, I'm so incredibly embarrassed on her behalf. But she is amazing. Why is she amazing? Because her oppressive presence finally forces Mr. Small Screen to say, "Well, won't you sit down?"

And she says, "Oh. Oh, well, sure." Like she's completely surprised. Like she'd really rather not, but since he asked, well, okay.

So she sits down and they exchange about six lines of stilted and awkward dialogue, in which she asks questions and he answers in monosyllables. Then she says, "Do you want something? I'm going to get a coffee." He answers in the negative. As soon as she leaves, he bends over his laptop and gets back to work.

When she returns and reclaims her seat, he says, "I'm sorry, what's your name again?"

First, Diet Pepsi almost comes spurting out of my nose. Second, I'm thinking oh no, you did not, you did not, you did not...

She says, "Karen. My name is Karen." She is pouting now. She is quite hurt.

And I don't know why, but I had to blog this. Okay, back to work...

Monday, April 10, 2006


Apologies for the silence. I am still recovering from a birthday party which required me to bring my children to—oh, I can barely bring myself to type it—Malibu Grand Prix. In no particular order:

1. Early on, I called the SU and left a message. "I'm at a place, and the sign says 'Malibu Grand Prix,' I yelled over the ongoing auditory assault. "But I'm pretty sure it's HELL."

2. What is with all the grown men hanging around playing video games in the middle of the day? Were they planted there with the sole purpose of skeeeeeving me out? Because that's what happened. Go away, grown men! Go do grown men things!

3. Miniature golf + 6-year-olds = injury to Risa's left cheek.

4. Pinata + baseball bat = continual screams of horror from me.

5. It was the first day of sun in oh, I don't know, 5,000 days, and Vida was like an unleashed puppy. At one point I lost her for about 8 minutes. With all the grown men hanging about and—once 2:30 rolled around—the arrival of packs of teenage boys fresh from the rigors of school, I cannot describe the scenes of horror that played out in my mind for the entire 8 minutes. Just as I was about to burst into tears, she appeared near the batting cages, waved and ran towards me. "Hi Mom!"

Deep breath.

There is no way I would normally have taken them to such a grossly age inappropriate spot, but the celebrant—a little boy with deep green eyes and 3-inch eyelashes whose home life is less than optimal, but who is heartbreakingly sweet nonetheless—sought me out on a daily basis to ask if I'd called his mom yet, 'cuz Risa and Vida have to come, 'cuz it's gonna be a great party, and do I like monster trucks? And do I like Sponge Bob pinatas? And did I, did I, did I call his mom yet?

So, anyways, horrible all around. But I have to admit that the ambiance of the video arcade brought me back to many a wasted afternoon at the exalted Westlake Bowl, playing Missile Command and Centipede...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Confession #417

I don't know how to do french braids. I've never known how to do french braids. And since most girls are simply born with the ability to do french braids, I feel a little...suspect. When Lea asked for "fwench bwaids" (her Uncle M. and Aunt J.—both highly skilled practicioners of the art—had done it for her prior) the other day, I just did regular braids, and I held my breath while she checked her look in the mirror.

Lea in Braids

Lo and behold, my deception was successful. She even asked the SU to take this picture. So that is good. Another good thing is that these braids will not stop the flow of blood to her brain, something I distinctly remember french braids having the power to do.

And, well, that's all I have for you today.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Happy Verday


It's my birthday.

You may be wondering what I'll be up to this evening. I believe Ver will be enjoying a swanky dinner in the city tonight, you might think. Or perhaps she'll be at an intimate fête with her inner circle. Maybe she will indulge in a spree of the shopping kind.

Those are fine guesses, my little birds. But I'm afraid you're not even close. For tonight...tonight I am in charge of Math Night at R & V's school.


The good news, though, is that I finally succeeded in putting the thing together (3 teachers, 2 translators, 8 parent volunteers, 2 student volunteers!). The bad news, of course, is that a cursory look at the school calendar showed that this was the only logical night on which to have it. And so we will postpone the revelry (which, after all, will really just amount to fulfilling my fervent and long-standing desire to eat fish tacos in Half Moon Bay) 'til the weekend.

Did I tell you I'm reading Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières? I am terribly drawn to his writing, to the unabashedly Garcia Marquez-ness of it, the lushness, the mourning. At the end of Chapter 5, we read this from the character of Drousoula:

I am just an old woman in exile, I have no education, I am ugliness personified, but if I could break open my ribs with my bare hands, I would show you that I have a heart grown huge with love, and grief, and memory.

And these seem like fine words to read on one's birthday. Because at the end of it all, there doesn't seem like much more to ask from life than a heart grown huge with love, and grief, and memory.

So, yes, this is a happy verday. Diet Pepsi and lumpia for everyone!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Come One, Come All...

...come check out the dumbos and dumbalinas who think the Chinese characters that make up their "exotic" tattoos mean one thing ("rock on, girl!") but that actually mean something like "elephant gas make big!"

Man, I love reading the NY Times on Sunday morning.