Thursday, September 27, 2007

Staying Put

Why do I feel like I've written a post like this (well, except for the ear part) a dozen times already? Don't answer that.

The other day at the library, my laptop was sitting squarely in front of me and, as usual, I had nothing going on. This is—sadly—my modus operandi. Most times I'll stand up and start wandering around the stacks. I make faces at little kids. I watch people and try to figure out what they're listening to on their iPods. I toy with the idea of walking up one floor to grab a snack in the cafe. I walk over to the computer catalog to see if random books are available.

But the other day I decided I would not leave my seat. Not only would I not leave my seat, I would not leave the piece I was writing. No checking e-mail, no reading gossip blogs, no reading YOUR blogs (honestly, you people FASCINATE me). I sat. I sat and sat and squirmed and squirmed and played with my hair and became tremendously thirsty. You know the top part of your ear? The part that curls under? I uncurled mine, which is both painful and strangely energizing. I did all this for a long time, occasionally writing a word and then deleting it immediately. And then when I had only fifteen minutes left before I had to pick up the kids, I started typing. When I was finished, I had the same number of words, more or less, but they were better. Better words, better piece, but very red ear.

In other writing news, Cecilia B. just e-mailed to say she will be publishing my story, "My Father's Tattoo," in GROWING UP FILIPINO II. She also wanted me to let folks know that she is still open to submissions. If you've already sent something, send something else! Once again, here's the call.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Just Wanted Breakfast, Thanks

As I was enjoying a nice little breakfast at Copenhagen Bakery yesterday, it appears that one of God's Army was hard at work in the parking lot. S/he left a booklet on my windshield which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a comic book.

The book begins sweetly by noting all the things that we humans have in common, such as eating, sleeping, sickness, aging, and the same parents. By the latter, the author is referring not to primates, which is made very clear by a panel containing two embracing monkeys and the words, "We all came from the same parents. NOT THESE," but to Adam and Eve, which is made very clear by a panel containing a hand-holding couple who bear a striking resemblance to Fred and Wilma Flinstone.

Ohmalord. Hilarious.

Okay, then it goes on to say that even though we have many things in common, the idea only goes so far. Why? Because, in fact, "Some people are going to heaven, and MANY people are going to HELL."


The next page brings it home with this visual:

And, I don't know. I just felt so loved, so accepted.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I don't usually do this, but after four years of serving as a Chair (with three other women of whom I cannot speak highly enough) on the annual September fundraiser for our little school, I feel 100% compelled to announce that...

...we broke the $100,000 mark!

At last, at last.

That's a whole bunch of doubloons, smackers, ducats, benjamins, paper, coin. But guess what? It's still not enough! We have $55,000 more to raise this year, so while I really feel like taking a nap, I will instead be searching for leprechauns to lead me to various pots of gold. Maybe Google Maps can help with this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Circa 1990 + Book Purchases

Just remembering that my cubicle buddy at Ranana Sepublic used to have a problem with her contact lenses: they would constantly dry out, causing discomfort and strain. So she'd pop them out one at a time, stick them in her mouth, and then put them back in her eyes.



I'm not a believer in the Bible as fact, but I love it as fiction. And so I couldn't resist Chronicle Books' The Bible: Genesis, Exodus, The Song of Solomon with illustrations by Marc Chagall. It's so small—only as big as my hand—and deliciously fat. Here's a page:

I think it's very beautiful. It's sitting on my desk at the moment, making me happy.

I also picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which, I'm pleased to report (see my previous post), has a super-short prologue. It goes like this:


a mountain range of rubble

in which our narrator introduces:
himself—the colors—and the book thief

It's cold today, cold enough for a fire. So maybe there will be one in the fireplace tonight, and I can start this book. But for now, errands at Target and then writing at the library. Yes.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Life is currently an unwieldy mix of maternal duties (if my children do not stop talking to me all at the same time, there is no telling what your Nesting Ground Mistress may do), writing, volunteering and, um, home management. I'm failing desperately (per usual) at the home managment portion, mostly because Risa, Vida, and Lea have already brought home an entire ream of paper between the three of them. How many "Mad Math Minute" papers must I keep? Do I need to retain documentation of Lea's transformation from a small person who writes her "s" backwards to a small person who no longer writes her "s" backwards? Will Vida one day ask why I didn't file her Reading Logs and keep them forever and ever? What, exactly, is the protocol?

And while we're on the topic of protocol, is there a rule regarding the proper length of prologues? I'm wondering, for example, if this is long enough:

They say Maria Angelica Nazario de los Santos was the most beautiful woman of her time; that one of her eyes was blue, one green; that requests for her hand numbered in the hundreds; that one bitter rival poisoned a cup of Spanish chocolate, had it served to her for merienda, and then went mad when the desired effect failed to materialize.

They say all that and much, much more.

I hope so. Because it's way too loud in here for me to give it another go.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Soccer, Saturday, 8:00 am

I was disgruntled.

I was sleepy.

I was in sweats.

But all this changed (well, not the sweatpants part) when Risa stole the ball at mid-field and took the...GOAL.

I've never screamed so loud in my life and am now quite hoarse.

This does not bode well for the proselytizing I will be engaged in at tonight's event, but 'tis a small price to pay for witnessing Risa's breakthrough. How do they say it on tv?—"A-goal-a-goal-a-goal-a-goal-a-goooooooooal!"

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Post That Happens When You're Supposed to Be Doing Something Else

We're in full-on "Frantic Mode" with our school fundraiser thing, but all work and no blogging makes Ver a testy creature. Anyways, I have all night! The spousal unit is on a business trip, after all, and since I don't know how to turn on the television, I'll be doing nothing but sitting here churning out fundraiser...stuff. In all seriousness, I have no idea how to use this thing:

It might as well be the launchpad control for the latest NASA rocket, for all the good it does me.

***pause for topic switch***

In a cursory glance around my favorite blogs, I am happy to learn that people are havin' babies, people are finishing novels, people are being Honorably Mentioned, people are visiting faraway lands where the quality of light is different, people are making their acting debuts. It's good to be surrounded—virtually speaking—by such people. Non-virtual life can be so harsh. In non-virtual life I heard a 4-year-old soccer player being unfairly scolded by her father. She was understandably tired after half an hour of play, and ran to the sidelines begging to come out. "So, what?" said her father, "You're gonna quit? You're a quitter? Okay, that's fine. You go over to your team right now, and you tell them 'I quit.' You heard me, go!" I had to turn away because it was horrible to see her little crumpled up face.

Here is Lea on the field, not quite sure which direction she's supposed to go:

She figured it out. Good thing, since I didn't want to have to say, "What? What is this? Are you directionally challenged? You don't know which way to go? Well, why don't you just tell your team that. Tell them, 'I don't know which way to go,'" or anything like that. GEEZ. Big folks need to take it easy on the wee ones, for chrissakes.

***pause for topic switch***

Remember I was waiting for back-to-school meltdowns? Well, I'm happy to report I have two out of three under my belt, and I'm starting to think the third won't happen at all. Of course, now that I've said that, I'm probably going to be subjected to some sort of Exorcist-type scenario. Great. I'll leave you with a back-to-school shot:

And now, back to my regularly scheduled fundraising...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Obvious Karmic Punishment, Plus A Letter

The men working on a construction project next door blast nonstop vintage AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen, etc. etc. from 9 am to 5 pm, and they are freaking running me out of my house. With every consecutive song I'm losing brain cells. It's clear I've done something to upset the Universe; the question is what? Dear God, WHAT. Well, since I'm on someone's shite list anyways, I may as well do this...

Dear Two Turntables,

I'm glad you pulled your daughter out of school after two days and without ever meeting her teacher or observing her class (something, you may recall, you were invited and encouraged to do). Since you clearly have a surplus of downtime, may I offer the following thinking points for when you are next on the treadmill or prepping for future physical enhancements to your face and breasts? Remember, these are only suggestions:

1) There was a time, was there not, when your own family did not speak English? Why, then, turn in disgust from those who are learning now?

2) Why purchase a flat iron for your daughter's lovely, naturally curled hair?

3) Why is your surname truncated to erase all traces of ethnicity?

4) What is the meaning of "self-hatred"?

5) What are the consequences of self-hatred?

6) And, finally, take a little bit of extra time to think on this because I'm sure it's eating at you: why, despite your outer trappings, are the Mexican/Filipina/African-American/Peruvian/Guatemalan mothers at our school so much more—there's no other way to put this—beautiful than you?

Oh, Two Turntables. Forgive me for being so blunt, but if I didn't say this here I might find myself unable to keep from blurting it out at the birthday party we will no doubt both be attending tomorrow. And that just wouldn't do.


Your Nesting Ground Mistress

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Fine Art of Juggling or Scattered Writer Brain

Hmmmm. I have an interesting and, unfortunately, not very compatible list of writing thingies going on:

1) Major rewrite of a large project that I'm collaborating on with a group of five—count 'em FIVE!—other Filipinas. This has been in turns a fun, plodding, fascinating, frustrating, but ultimately valuable experience for me as a writer. As our publisher notes, the project is not what it should be yet, and so we are tackling an overhaul. An overhaul that I'm already enjoying, by the way. I changed the POV I was using, and things are quickly coming together.

2) Achiote Seeds! Over the weekend, I found myself making lists of words I'd like to use for these short pieces. This is something new for me, and I confess I've never taken words on such a careful test drive before. "Isthmus?" Maybe. "Almonds?" That works. "Aubergine?" Nah. "Placid?" Double nah. "Bound?" Ooooh, bound.

3) Various writing tasks related to our upcoming fancy schmancy school auction. This is my fourth year, so I have most of my text put together, but I also do layout for this particular thing, so I have plenty of squinting at the screen to look forward to, plenty of obsessing over fonts and placement and la di da. Plus multiple trips to the printer who, though a perfectly nice man, seems to have signed some pact with the devil to NEVER EVER SMILE. At this point, it's become a challenge of bizarre proportions. For my next attempt, I will perform my unique take on the cabbage patch or roger rabbit or...let's see...lawn sprinkler. That should do the trick. Or, at the very least, maybe he'll give us a discount.

4) Grant writing. Okay, it's been awhile since I scored a grant for Latino outreach at the school, and I. Need. A. Victory. Projects include a continuation of the speaker series, a family literacy project, and a full-time liason. It's maybe a bad sign when just typing those three things wears me out. I will re-commit fully mid-month when the auction is over and we're done counting our many ducats.

5) This one is sorta hilarious. I've been asked to teach "Living the Life of a Writer," which is a program with a set curriculum from The Noyce Foundation. And, um, I'm teaching it to Lea's KINDERGARTEN CLASS. Oh, lordy. It cracks me up. I'm not sure exactly what I'm in for, but a 2-inch-thick curriculum binder awaits me.

That's all from Nesting Ground HQ, my dear ones. I'm now off to tackle items 1 and 3...