Monday, December 29, 2008

No Man's Week

Folks are penning lovely, reflective posts about the-year-that-was, but I'm among the legions of parents who won't feel like it's 2009 until school is back in session on January 5th. This week, then, I'm suspended happily in a no man's land of peaceful putzing around with my little family. Today was Ri and Vi's 9th birthday, and we took them to the new California Academy of Sciences, where they discreetly shrieked their way through the rainforest (green anaconda! piranhas! freakiest frogs EVER), worked their way around the aquarium with their jaws dropped (I could have sat in front of the Philippine coral reef for an hour), and became giddy with slight motion sickness in the planetarium (Vida raised her hand in front of the whole auditorium and correctly answered a question posed by the planetarium lady; I think this portends a future appearance on Jeopardy). If you have zero aversion to crowds, I recommend a thorough exploration. Other random facts about our visit:

1. Risa has a pathological fear of butterflies. The air was thick with them when we reached the rainforest canopy, and my poor little 9-year-old started to shake. After a few minutes, one of the butterflies—royal blue and big as a bird—landed on my arm (you realize what this means, do you not? It means that I am a PRINCESS), and a small crowd gathered around. Risa was right beside me, breathing normally, so I thought she'd conquered her discomfort. But then the butterfly flitted away, and she was back to cowering. At one point, she became so agitated that she SWATTED at a butterfly, so I had no choice but to rush her back down to to the rainforest floor. Weirdo.

2. I like penguins.

3. They served pretty good pho in the cafe. *scratches head in confusion* They are so green and healthy in there, though, that they only offered natural sodas and water (pfffft), which means that I was deprived of the lunchtime Diet Coke that basically ensures my daily survival.

4. I also like moon jellies.

5. Lea wanted to touch a starfish in the tidepool area, but kept saying the water was "too deep." We finally gave up on her and started to move on to the next thing. She then realized that she REALLY, REALLY wanted to touch a starfish. I led her to the other side of the tidepool (since we were, by this time, closer to that end) but she didn't want to touch any of THOSE starfish, she wanted to touch the starfish that we had all touched, which meant working our way back against the tide (get it? get it?!!). Normally I would have done my oh-no-you-don't-young-lady-the-whole-world-does-not-revolve-around-your-whims-and-wishes thing, but there was something about the situation that made me give in. I brought her back, held her hand, put it in the water with mine, and together we touched the starfish. I said, "Okay?" and then she just leaned against me and a single, heartbreaking tear slid down her cheek. Weirdo.

6. And also electric eels.

7. There are many times when the spousal unit's significant height comes in handy, but never more so than in extreme crowd conditions. Others may be swiveling their heads around or standing on their tip-toes to locate their partners, but I never have a problem finding home.

8. But not so much the albino alligator.

I have no decent pictures from today's activities, so I will post two from yesterday's when Risa and Vida spent three hours playing tetherball, a sport (is it a sport?) for which their passion knows no bounds. Here they are engaging in one of their cutthroat matches:

Lea has no interest in tetherball. Instead, she spent her time perfecting ever more dangerous tricks on her scooter. Behold her death-defying deep squat maneuver:

Don't try this at home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eat, Drink, Merry

I am sitting here in my trainwreck of a kitchen, simultaneously cleaning up from last night's festivities and making a shopping list for the next two days. Yesterday was all about crab. My dad schooled the girls on crab anatomy:

And then, much to the delight of everyone under the age of 9, he insisted that two of the crabs participate in a foot race prior to their demise:

Let's hope he has no such plans for tomorrow's prime rib roast. Speaking of which, I am off to Pape Meat Co. to pick it up! I have mentally prepared myself for being jostled around by people who, for reasons unknown, strongly believe that they should be served first. But never mind them! They are but specks in my sea of happiness!

I'll meet you back here after all the merrymaking! And here are a few more exclamation marks: !!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

17 Random Things About Me

Marianne tagged me, so here I sit. I confess it's challenging to come up with seventeen random things about your Nesting Ground Mistress, especially because this entire blog is made up of random things about me. But here goes:

1. As a child, I insisted on having my fast-food hamburgers "plain," which inevitably caused my entire family's order to take an unholy fifteen minutes to fulfill. But did they stop me? No! They never stopped me! In this sense, I think you will agree, they enabled—nay, encouraged—my selfishness. Were one of my children to cause such a disturbance, I would say, "You cannot be serious right now," and ignore them. How I became so mean, I will never know.

2. Two days ago, I watched rapt as Arnel Pineda played "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Afterwards, in a WTH moment, I wondered why host Kris Aquino chose to wear a voluminous black ball gown for the occasion. I also noted that Arnel has not been using a flat iron on his hair while at home in the Philippines.

3. This morning at the post office, when presented with my choice of either a) nutcracker stamps or b) Madonna and child stamps, I said, "Well, I'm gonna have to go with the...nutcrrrrrrrackers!" The postal worker found me neither funny nor charming. I hope she will rethink this as her day goes on.

4. I would rather stay up until 2 am than wake up before 7 am.

5. While I was in Reno, Nevada, canvassing for Obama, a man opened his door and a black pitbull (whose rhinestoned collar announced she was a "DIVA") took a flying leap at your terrified Nesting Ground Mistress. I instinctively turned my back and felt her nails dig in just below my bra strap. The man then grabbed DIVA by the aforementioned collar and threw her back into the apartment. "Sorry about that!" he said. My cousin Lui (she of the gifted tweets) will attest to this...this...this assault on my physical and psychological safety.

6. I do not like crispy cookies. I like chewy cookies.

7. Even though it takes "10" as its basic unit, I don't understand the metric system.

8. I don't think I'm doing this correctly.

9. I once successfully faked my way through fifteen minutes of being spoken to in Pilipino.

10. I can easily identify people by the back of their heads. I can do this if I've known you twenty years, five minutes, and/or if I have only seen you on television or the movie screen.

11. I've never had a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or bottle of beer because I do not like the way these things taste.

12. I have had the same pair of contact lenses for about twelve years. I was fitted with new ones a few years ago, but they were so uncomfortable, I turned back to these.

13. I sometimes talk to my inbox (it doesn't reply).

14. I am currently reading, among other gleanings, Bolaño's The Savage Detectives, Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (to Lea), The Tale of Desperaux (to Risa, Vida, and Lea), this week's issue of The Nation, the December issue of The Atlantic, and the Fall issue of All-Story.

15. These are my rain boots. I'll be wearing them all day, even if it stops raining. I'm lazy like that.

16. I wear three rings.

17. Last night, while putting Lea to sleep, I sang a Carpenter's song.

I'm tagging any 17 people who read this (yes, that means you).

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Post In Which I Use the Word "Kulangot"

I've been reflecting on the way that social networking has changed my relationship to blogging (and now I'm reflecting on how ridiculous that sounds). I started tweeting because tweeting is...silly. You have 140 characters to make your statement, plead your case, or just tell the world that you're headed to the gym. It's quick and often hilarious, as when Weez demanded that her Twitter crew must tweet in haiku, and they did it. Such is the power of tweets and/or such is the power of the lovely Weez.

Facebook is another animal altogether. You can throw down larger chunks of text, plus it's easy to link, share what you're reading, etc., so that in many circumstances it has taken the place of (my) blogging. These days, blogs feel a little bit like an Auntie, while Facebook and Twitter are like hyperactive cousins. It's fun to hang out with hyperactive cousins, of course, but there are times when the less frantic, more fully realized existence of Auntie is the only way to go.

In this post, though, all worlds converge as I reveal my favorite blog post, favorite tweet, and favorite Facebook status updates of the week:

My favorite blog post was A.D.'s because 1) I thought he fell off the face of the earth, and I am relieved to know that he did not and 2) he cites Bolano's The Savage Detectives, which I am also reading. In the early pages we witness a poetry throwdown in a classroom at a Mexican university. "There's a time for reciting poems and a time for fists," says the narrator.

My favorite tweet came from my little cousin Lui, who posited a simple question: "There's a New Yorker in the trash can at this BART station. Dare I?" There was no follow-up, but I bet the fear of finding pages 57-58 stuck together with...I don't know...some kind of monster kulangot (okay, I can't believe the Urban Dictionary has an entry for "kulangot") was enough to keep her hands in her coat pockets.

My favorite Facebook status update is a tie. First there was Rich Villar's "Rich is LMAO at Rod Blagojevich getting arrested in a blue jogging suit. OH PLEASE GOD LET THERE BE PICTURES." Basically, he just cracks me up. And then there was Patrick's "Patrick is rockin' it," with a link to this, which made the odious task of unloading the dishwasher just a little less pain-in-the-ass-y.

Thus ends my first ever post in 5 years that includes the word "kulangot." Banner day, my lovelies. Banner day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Flying Food Particles OR Kids Are Gross

Monday is my volunteer day at the girls' school. I start with Writing Workshop in Vida's classroom, move on to 3rd/4th/5th grade yard duty (where I try to even things attention-wise by over-chatting with Risa), and finally head over to Lea's classroom to help with reading groups. I find all of this enjoyable and rewarding, with the pronounced exception of the 40 minutes I spend supervising the lunch tables.

Kids are gross.

They are so, so gross.

Unleashed after more than 3 classroom hours, they are like rabid feral beasts. They have no sense of personal space, and despite the fact that there is plenty of room to keep a good ten inches between their butts, they prefer to sit on top of each other the better to push and elbow and tickle and lean. They also like to scream directly into each other's ears. Everyone touches everyone else's food, and they are laughing and guffawing in a way that encourages semi-chewed food particles to fly out of their mouths and land, let's say, behind the ear of someone else.

Last week one of the kids picked up a handful of tater tots, smooshed them on top of his hamburger, and then covered the whole thing in two packets of mustard. The worst part? HE ATE IT. Someone didn't want their carton of milk, so I walked amongst the tables asking if anyone wanted it. This set off a frenzy between two boys, and I was only able to quiet them down when I told them they'd have to Ro Sham Bo for it (Ro Sham Bo works in a variety of situations, actually, and because there is always a clear winner when using the "best of 3" option, there is never any argument afterwards). One kid asked me if he thought he needed plastic surgery. I told him I'd get back to him next week. Another scowled when I said I liked his haircut. One kid's garbage was free floating all over the place. "'Scuse me, Mister," said I. "Can you please pick up your garbage?" He then rolled his eyes, which ignited a stare-off between us.

I won.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Appropriate as a Tweet, But...

...I'm listening to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass at the moment. In related news, I find this image uber caliente:

Am I wrong? No, I am not.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day, 2008

After last night's harrowing 7-hour drive, we are ensconced comfortably in that neverland zone between moving from one home (my in-laws') to another (my sister-in-law's) on this, Thanksgiving Day. The girls are watching the parade which, for a reason that remains vague to me, currently features Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love that freakin' song.

I don't usually bring my laptop along on this particular roadtrip, but I have some writing to do and knew we'd have downtime. Instead of using said downtime wisely, however, I've been sucked into the Black Hole of the internet. The most fascinating find of the day has been...

...The Golden Notebook Project...

which, according to the FAQ, is "an experiment in close-reading in which seven women are reading the book and conducting a conversation in the margins." Doris Lessing's publisher has given permission for the entire book to be published online, so you can follow along with the participants as they read.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and am also thinking it would be wonderful to do with Filipino and Fil-Am literature. Anyone have the energy for a new project? E-mail me! Or text me! Or leave a comment! Or shout when you see me crossing the street! Or ignore me completely and go back to your peaceful day!

To you and your families, Happy Day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday Night Happy

I would like to take this blogging opportunity to ignite jealousy in the hearts and minds of all you lovely people. How will I do this, you ask? I will do this by describing my Friday night date with the spousal unit.

I took the train into the city, walked out the station doors, and spotted said spousal unit patiently awaiting my arrival in his car which was, per usual, parked in a spot that willfully ignores all rules and regulations. I was able to wing my way across the 6-lane wide street before the police arrived, however, and we proceeded safely on our way to what I thought was going to be The Slanted Door, but which turned out to be A 16, which is located in the Marina, which is an oddly—how to put it nicely?—bland part of the city, which I habitually avoid due to the...blandness. But A 16 was a revelation.

Parking was, of course, a challenge, so I hopped out of the car to finagle a table (that rhymes!). Normally, I don't do well with this. I am always being smirked at and told that the wait will be 145 hours, but by some miracle of the Date Night Gods, I was promised two seats at the chef's counter. Ten minutes later, a frazzled and pissed off woman walked in and said with much drama, "I am here to cancel my 6:30 reservation, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE THAT. Instead of sitting down and enjoying a delicious dinner, I have to go home because the babysitter didn't show up." She then left in a haze of misery and dejection.

The spousal unit walked in as she walked out, so I turned to the hostess. "Can we have her table?" I asked, referring to Drama Lady.

Of course we could.

We then ordered the mozarella burrata which looked, frankly, like curdled milk surrounded by a glistening pool of olive oil. But then I put a little on my crostini and my eyes nearly rolled back in my head. Hard to describe. It was like eating fresh air and sunshine. Because I am Filipino and cannot pass up braised meat to save my life, I then had the beef short ribs alla genovese and a side of roasted polenta. I can't remember what the spousal unit had (seafood of a kind, I think) because I was far too engrossed in my own culinary choices.

Happiness, happiness.

And then! And then we went to see the majestic Toni Morrison in conversation with the less majestic Michael Krasny. Maybe it's because she is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel Prize for Literature winner and has, therefore, no reason to be anything but herself, but still.

She was remarkably real and had a way of talking about literature in a way that makes it not so precious. When Krasny noted that she has two sons and asked her, then, to "locate" (gag) her interest in the mother/daughter relationship, she paused for a moment and said, "Well. I am a daughter." It was kind of an "Oh, snap!" moment, and I felt bad for Krasny and for anyone who has ever asked a stupid question, ever. Then she practically giggled when someone wanted to know if Beloved was in some sense a conversation with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. And then someone asked if another of her novels was a response to Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!. She threw up her hands and said, "Sound good! I'll take it!" After the laughing died down, she gave her real answer to both of those questions, which was, "Um, no."

Happiness, happiness.

And then! And then we came home and watched more of the first season of Mad Men. Oh, Don Draper. You're such a bad, bad boy.

You're so jealous right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Creepy Post

I had no idea that one of my favorite things to do with an iPhone would be to take pictures of things I find creepy. Here is a disturbing, puppet-like, eerily cheerful cobbler that I am both attracted to and repelled by on B Street in downtown San Mateo:

Here is a "shirt" that I spotted in a pharmacy. There are so many colors to choose from, each more stylish than the next! These shirts come from The Land That Makes Everything Ugly. I would like that land to go away:

And finally, here is something the spousal unit and I found strapped to the front of a small piece of machinery in an alley behind the infamous House of Humor in Redwood City:

So much creepiness, so little time...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Playing With Your Food

At lunch today, my eyes skipped over the too-fancy sandwich selection and the overly involved vegetarian lasagne, and landed with delight on the "Kids Melt." It was billed as muenster on a sourdough baguette which sounded, frankly, like a little piece of heaven. Here is what arrived at my table:

Did your Nesting Ground Mistress...

a) laugh so hard that Diet Coke spewed out of her nose

b) say, "Oh, there's been a mistake. I ordered the overly involved vegetarian lasagne"


c) ask for a bib and a sippy cup

I'll never tell. As an aside, I will share with you that I have violent feelings regarding olives, so I flung those things off immediately after I took the picture. Also, I did not eat the cabbage.

In other amusing food news, a few weeks ago Lea asked if she could have some of the 40 million tomatoes growing in the backyard. "Okay," we shrugged. She selected only green ones, and then sequestered herself in her room for awhile. Later, she unveiled this:

After she negotiated fifteen minutes with her father, it was agreed that she would bring the tomato family to the kitchen within one day's time. Five days later, Risa ratted her out, "Dad! Dad! Lea still has the tomatoes! She! Still! Has! Them!"

Lea has a habit of raiseing her eyebrows and pushing her tongue against the inside of her cheek when she's found out. On that day, she withstood the taunts and goading from her older sisters, and set about silently correcting her mistakes. Still, I think it was a long and humiliating march down the hallway for her and her contraband tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Withdrawal Post

Introduction/warning for those who are prone to dizziness: very few of the following sentences have anything to do with each other.

I'm experiencing some campaign withdrawal. That's neither here nor there, of course. Also neither here nor there: I hate—and I mean really hate—walnuts.

And one other thing: I've been sick since Halloween. The spousal unit, in an effort to ease my sleep (and his), braved the overwhelming wall of medicinal remedies at the pharmacy and brought home something for my cough. Well, I took it before bedtime last night, and for the next eight hours it felt like there was a small person in my throat sitting on my coughs so that they could not express themselves in the desired manner. I kept imagining this small person with his arms crossed over his chest, harumphing and sitting harder on my coughs every time he felt one about to come out.

Also: I'm reading the book Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin, and she describes a tribe in Africa...

(I don't know if this is true. The more I think about it, the more it seems like the kind of thing that gets forwarded in earnest e-mails. But never mind: the die is cast)

...that has an excellent way to deal with someone who has created a not-cool disturbance within the community. They stage a kind of intervention where they recount every good thing the person has done in his or her life, thus inviting that person "back into the better part of himself."

I am now amusing myself by imagining an intervention of this type happening on my street when, let's say, someone blows leaves at 5:00 am. We could gather round and say things like, "You helped me string my Christmas lights." "You brought my dog back when she ran out of the yard." "You helped me move my couch." "Your chocolate chip cookies are freakin' awesome."

The sky is lit with pink at the moment. Despite my withdrawal, despite the little person stuck in my throat and the one dozen boxes of Kleenex I have burned through in the last twelve days, despite my compulsion to relate possibly untrue and corny stories about an unknown village in Africa, I am feeling good. I am feeling much like


Friday, November 07, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

24 Hours Later

Now that it happened, I'm not sure what to say. This is a good start:

People cannot stop crying. I explained the emotion to a friend: it's like having PMS and menopause while watching Atonement. It taxes the heart.

At Camp Obama we had to share our story of how we came to be involved with the campaign. I told my fellow campers that George W. Bush was sworn in to office shortly after Risa and Vida were born. Then came 9/11 and its aftermath of war and torture and racism and scapegoating, and hatred and...let's see what else? Oh, yes: disregard for the Constitution.

By the time 2004 rolled around, Lea was 2-years-old, the twins were 4-years-old, and I was beginning to question the wisdom of having decided to bring any children at all into what was beginning to look like a seriously fucked up place. Then Kerry lost, the tsunami buried entire villages, and Katrina made clear once and for all the danger of choosing to ignore the poverty that's right in front of our faces. "Helpless" is not too strong a word to describe my feelings at the time.

It wasn't until the New Hampshire primary and Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech—a speech delivered in defeat, remember—that I was able to change my question from, "What kind of world will my children inherit?" to "What kind of world can I help create for my children?"

That's why I joined the campaign, and that's why I'll continue to be engaged. Besides, our new President made a promise last night:
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there.

I believe him.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just One More Day

I'm sick. Normally, I'd take the kids to school and fall back into bed until it's time to pick them up, but tomorrow is election day, and I committed to helping Obama get out the vote, so I took some DayQuil, stuffed some cough drops in my purse, and dragged my carcass to HQ, where I was very happy to see the smiling face of J., one of my Nevada partners-in-crime.

I distributed call lists and scripts, fielded questions from newbies, and made some calls myself. I'm sure my voice caused some of the good people of Pennsylvania and Indiana to wonder how it came to pass that a frog learned to use the telephone, but never mind. While we're on the subject of illness, I'm worried about the health of some of my congressional district's most hardcore volunteers. Some of them arrive at 6 a.m. and work their asses off until 9 p.m. I expect they will all take to bed on Wednesday morning.

Yesterday was an Obama day, as well. Every corner of HQ was packed with furiously dialing Obama-ites of every conceivable age, color, and type. By the end of the day, they'd made more than 19,000 calls to swing states. I managed the portion of the phonebank that had spilled outdoors into the parking lot, which was partially tented by the campaign. It was about fifty people, and I was more than happy to pull their sheets, give them new ones, encourage them after a bad call, bring them water, whatever. Your Nesting Ground Mistress was all about service!

I met an older gent who told me that he had been a delegate for Bobby Kennedy (and later, McGovern).

"Obama and Bobby Kennedy are similar, aren't they?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he said. He nodded like a sage. "Yes, yes."

"Well, you've come full circle then."

And he said, "Young lady, I think I have."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Post Where I Make Excuses

Holy nuts! How did it happen that I haven't blogged in more than a week? Oh wait. I know:

1) As you've noticed by now, I am consumed by the election. There is nary a pinprick of space left in my head for anything else. The unprecedented levels of angst I feel prevent me from achieving restorative sleep, from expressing any emotion but worry, and from walking away from the Internet for more than an hour. Good God. I cannot wait until this is over. At the same time I wonder: what will I do when it is over? As my last hurrah, I will be getting out the vote (GOTVing!) on Sunday and Monday. What about you?!

2) I am also busy trying, once again, not to be the person who accidentally kills animals. You'd think it would be easy here on the Peninsula, but on my way home from a clay workshop (oh, don't ask) tonight, I almost hit another deer. Can I just ask: why is a deer doing crossing El Camino Real at 9:00 pm? What the HELL?

3) Workshopping has begun for my online class, and there are two or three stories up each week, plus writing exercises, and discussion. I'm a bit overwhelmed at this point and completely mystified by the two or three people in class who seem to have the entire week's work done by Wednesday. Time management has never been my gift.

4) Classroom volunteer-ism has also begun in earnest. I'm teaching Art in Action for 3 classes (this explains the clay workshop referenced above. Come on, you know you were wondering), as well as helping in Vida's writing workshop every Monday. All thoroughly enjoyable, mind you.

As per my tendency, a picture:

These two Cuban-American gents were surrounded by an angry mob after a McCain/Palin rally in Miami. The police were able to escort them to safety after a few moments, but not before they were threatened with violence by one of the crowd. I like what the guy on the right had to say afterwards:

Garcia had a message for his stocky, tweed-clad threatener. "You tell that guy he can find Tony Garcia down at the West Dade library every day from 7 to 7 helping people early vote. I'll be there from 1 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday. You tell him if he wants to kick my ass that's where he can find me. Come beat me up."

Because that's how Obama volunteers do it.

You can read the full report at FiveThirtyEight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Post Where I Pointedly Do Not Blog About Nevada

Thanks to the extraordinary navigational and driving skills of one J.G., I am safely home from our Nevada Drive for Change. The campaign has asked us not to blog (where, I ask, is the fun in that?) about our trips until at least November 5th. I am nothing if not a good Obama foot soldier, so I will comply. Let me just say, though, that I have a humdinger for you, and it involves your Nesting Ground Mistress, a pitbull, claws, and pure terror.

Since the following picture reveals nothing of top-secret campaign brilliance, I will post it. This is me and my little cousin Lui at the end of our first day (proper shoes were key):

I also want to share this picture—via DailyKos—because it practically kills me:

And, finally, here is my Daddy-o casting his vote for Obama. He was mumbling as he filled in his choices. "I'm changing ALL these motherf***ers, you hear me?" he said. "ALL of 'em..." Goooooo Dad!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Drive For Change Snafu or There's a Pattern

My four co-horts have all been assigned to Reno, while I have been assigned to Incline. I am feeling quite sadly adrift at the moment, but I have sent an e-mail to the powers-that-be to request re-assignment. No doubt they're being inundated with hundreds of similar requests, and I will be waiting all day on proverbial pins and needles.

There's a pattern in my life.

I've mentioned elsewhere that a mountain lion is stalking our neighborhood. The situation has created a ruckus that has forced kids indoors, created alarm at school, and transformed taking out the garbage from a simple errand to a possible episode of the non-existent television show, "Man vs. Nature." I heard today that the mountain lion is apparently camped out in an empty house a few blocks away. Whenever the authorities attempt to surround and capture it, the wily animal has already disappeared, leaving pawprints behind.

Now, according to the pattern I've detected in my life, the authorities should simply follow ME around. Because before this episode reaches whatever conclusion it's going to reach, I'm pretty sure the mountain lion will single me out for "special consideration." I've read all about what I'm supposed to do when confronted by this kitty. The first rule is Don't Run:

Sure. No problem.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Basics

I've dubbed my online class "Ver's (Much Needed) Back-to-Basics Tour." In a way, it's a lot like traveling in a time machine to Kindergarten, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Because in Kindergarten you get to play and experiment and you get to screw up because isn't that the whole point? Screw up! Screw up so you can realize it's not the end of the world. Screw up so you can try better next time. Screw up so you know the difference between when you've screwed up and when you haven't.

Last week we had to pick one of Shakespeare's plays and create a new story based on its plot. For two days I resisted. I was not into it. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do LESS. But then I woke up on the third day, and pounded out this thing having to do with the demise of a once-happy Head Door Man who finds himself in the much less exalted position of staring at a bank of security cameras all day. Based on The Tempest, of course. Was it good? Hell no! But it was sooooooo fun.

This week we have to re-write the first paragraph of our workshop story using three different points of view. Again, I resisted for the entire weekend. But I did it yesterday, and I learned all this crazy stuff about my characters. See? Going back to basics is very good and helpful.

In other Nesting Ground news, I'm gearing up for my weekend in Nevada where my cohorts and I will be—fingers crossed—closing the deal for Obama (in that state, at least). The campaign suggested we stay at Circus Circus, but there's no way your Nesting Ground Mistress was going to sleep in a $39/night room. Not even for Barack. So we've upgraded significantly, which I think will be excellent for canvassing morale and our general disposition(s).

I've just realized that I don't like posting without including a token picture or two. is a gorgeous picture of Michelle Obama giving a big hug to Barack's half-sister, Auma (via Obama Daily):

And, making a complete 180, here are our spawn just before they timidly made their way down the catwalk with the Spousal Unit at his company's holiday fashion show. For the record, I tried to get Vida to tuck her ear under that hat, but she refused. "It feels FUNNY," she said. I wanted to say, "Well it LOOKS funnier," but I didn't. Rhetorical question: does that make me a good mother or a bad mother?

There are a few more shots on my Facebook page, and if you are my Facebook Friend, you may see them. If you are not my Facebook Friend, why are you not?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not To Go On and On, But...

...I will.

I couldn't bring myself to actually purchase this month's issue of GQ (the cover has a Barbied-up someone licking her lips and offering up her breasts for your, I don't know, intellectual edification?), but I had no qualms about reading this article about Arnel Pineda and Journey online:

ARNEL PINEDA, who turns 41 this year, has been performing in bands since he was a teenager, and by now he has mastered virtually every kick-ass lead-singer move known to rock. He can launch his compact body off the drum riser and land without twisting an ankle. He plays excellent microphone-cord air guitar. He knows when to do the reach-out-and-touch with the fans in the front row and when to turn the microphone stand upside down and lift it above his head, as if calling down the lightning. He knows how to do these things because he is a professional lead singer and a good one, which means he is a virtuoso whose instrument is his own charisma. He is also adept at the parts of the lead-singer job that involve singing.


Speaking of people who are extraordinarily gifted at their last night's debate, did Obama not clean the windows with what's left of John McCain's integrity? Yes, he did. I'm sure this kid agrees:

Via Yes We Can (hold babies)

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Year

Complete election frenzy everywhere I look. Little signs of life for McCain/Palin are popping up in front of various houses around the neighborhood, each one eliciting a groan from my children, whom I have trained well. "Don't you mean McPain & Failing?!!" they say to the signs as we pass them in the car. They laugh like it's something they just made up, when in fact we don't know who made it up, and they've been saying it for weeks. I do my requisite scolding, complete with a line about the fact that Barack would not want them to speak disrespectfully about his opponent, etc. etc. They pretend to listen, and then they start singing along to Arnel Pineda again. They will forever remember this time in their lives as The Year Obama Became President and The Year Arnel Joined Journey and The Year Something Happened to Banks.

My friend K. just sent me this gorgeousness from yet another group of creatives for Barack:

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I was about to write that I don't know much about the labor movement, but that isn't accurate. I know a little bit about the labor movement. Camp Obama, though, was the first time I'd ever been in a union hall and witnessed firsthand the commitment, pride, and organizing prowess of union folks.

Anyways, I saw the video of this speech by Richard Trunka (of the AFL-CIO) on Andrew Sullivan's blog, and I was floored by the way it meets racism head-on and, of course, by its forceful endorsement of Barack Obama. A good way to spend nine minutes before tonight's VP debate:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Throat Is Still A Little Scratchy

I sang every word of "Separate Ways."

Every word of "Open Arms."

Every word of "Don't Stop Believing."

Every word of "Faithfully.

And whatnot.

I made my presence known when Arnel Pineda—in a rousing one-word call to his people—yelled, "PINOYS!"

I, along with thousands of other complete dorks, held up my cellphone/lighter during "Lights."

And whether or not it makes sense, I am still giddy. Here I am on the lawn with two of my oldest pals/most favorite gals:

I would like to apologize to the Spousal Unit. He knows most everything about me, but I don't think he was prepared for my vast and astonishingly accurate knowledge of Journey lyrics. Nor did he know that I was capable of singing at such volume. Here is our self(s) portrait, taken on my flashless iPhone, right after the Wilson sisters (Oh Nancy how I adore you! How jealous I am of your jeans! And the way you appear to rock in slow motion! And the way you work the wind machine!) ALMOST stole the show:

Sadness that I didn't see Barbara Jane or Oscar, and that I only caught a fleeting glimpse of Sunny as we traveled opposite sides of a packed staircase. There's always next time...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If You Thought Your Head Hurt Before... haven't seen this yet. Understandably, the Couric/Palin interview has been lost (hey, maybe that was the plan!!) amidst all the financial crisis news, but it deserves to be seen. Why? Because...oh, never mind. Just watch:

Whole As Sum of Parts

On the way to soccer practice last week, Risa and Vida engaged in a serious debate

Vida's stance: the three of them are my life.

Risa's quote: "We're not her whole life, Vida. We're PART of her life."

In trying to figure out why Lea wasn't involved in the back and forth, I realized that she believes SHE ALONE is my entire life, and it's simply not open for discussion.

I didn't say anything because it wasn't my conversation, but I've been mulling it over ever since. And I'm grateful because it's the perfect path into an essay I've been trying to write for a new antho project.

In other news, I am truly enjoying my online class (via Stanford Continuing Studies). In these first five weeks, we are reading tons of stories from The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008, The Best Nonrequired Reading 2007, Best of the Web 2008, and the summer reading issue of Tin House. As I've pointed out many times, I am terrible in off-the-cuff exchanges about all things literary. But because the discussions are taking place in an online forum, I don't have that problem! I can take my time and respond the way I respond/think best: in writing. One unexpected plus is that there are students from all over the country and the world (I think only 3 of us are Bay Area folks), including Italy, India, and Norway.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Post That Wrote Itself

You have to possess a certain water-off-a-duck's-back attitude while phonebanking. The first rule is not to take anything personally. The second, third, and fourth are: do not spar, do not wish people ill, and do not scream. On Friday, I felt like doing all of these things, and I think it's a testament to my basically even-keeled temperament that I was able to restrain myself.

I began my shift calling Las Vegas, and things went pretty much as expected. Republicans were supporting McCain, Democrats were supporting Obama, and non-partisans were split. I worked my way through Vegas and then started to call a place which shall remain nameless, but which is rural and east of Reno. Here were some of the things I heard (followed, of course, by my comments). If they don't make any sense, it's because they...don't make any sense:

1) "Well, if I believed in SOCIALISM, I would vote for Obama. But I don't believe in SOCIALISM, I believe in our democracy. I believe in democracy, democracy, democracy!" (Okay, lady. Got it. Democracy is the bestest thing!)

2) "I tell you what. I would never vote for someone who refuses to say our pledge of allegiance and who honors the flags of other nations." (You tell 'em, mister! The flags of other nations should only be used as toilet paper for big American asses!)

3) "I'm voting for Sarah Palin." (I couldn't resist a little sassiness here. I said, "Sarah Palin isn't running for President." And she said, "I don't care! I'm voting for her!")

4) "My friend told me he's one of them whatchamacallits. And that don't sit well with me." (Well, who can blame you? Whatchamacallits are very, very scary)

5) "I don't talk about politics on the phone! That Obama is not getting our vote! He wouldn't get our vote if he was the last man on earth! I don't talk about this over the phone!" (He had me at 'hello')

But my favorite was an older woman who began to cackle like a witch after I identified myself as an Obama volunteer. "Don't you KNOW I'm a Republican?" Her tone implied that I was mentally defective in some way. This, combined with the cackling, set me off.

I'll admit I hyperventilated a little. And then I decided if she was going to go all Wicked Witch of the West on me, then I would become...Glenda the Good Witch. I replied sweetly, "Oh, yes, I know! But there are SO. VERY. MANY. WONDERFUL REPUBLICANS who are casting their votes for Senator Obama in November that I thought you might be one of them!"

Full silence for five seconds. And then, "Well, I'm not!"

And then I hung up and it was MY turn to cackle like a witch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How I Blinked and Lost an Hour

I found a little hiding spot in the library that is far, far away from other humans. As I believe I've recounted here before, I have a problem concentrating when there are too many humans about. I'm constantly making up stories about them or feeling bad because they have wedgies or their hair color is botched or they're reading a book that reveals their current state, whether it be a state of sexual ecstasy or a state of mild depression.

So I was using my time productively UNTIL I happened to glance at the shelves to my left, which were unfortunately filled with tome after tome of impossible-to-ignore titles. Tell me, could you remain seated if the following books were sitting within three strides of your perch?:

The Male Ego (Males? They have egos? Muwahahahahahahaha!)

The Girl Within (yes, yes, I'm trying to find her, but she's being suffocated by The Grown Up Without)

Jealousy (thank you Toad the Wet Sprocket for ruining the whole concept for me)

Forty: The Age and the Symbol (I'm totally checking it out and bringing it home and reading it in an hour. Okay, maybe not. One of the sections is called "Symptoms at Forty: Organic Decline")

Stranger in the Nest (What? WHERE?!)

Battling the Inner Dummy (Shoot. That was going to be the title of my autobiography)

I Am A Strange Loop (Hey, me too!)

The list goes on, of course. On and on and on. Next time I'll find a spot near the financial section...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cat Urine, Random Writing, and Things I Do Not Understand

Vida has kindly informed me that if you shine black light on cat urine, the urine will glow. I don't know exactly what to do with this nugget, but I'm sure it'll come in handy at some point. Like when I want to extricate myself from a strange close-talker at a holiday cocktail party.


Random list from a random Word .doc:

The heart is listening
The heart is weary
The heart is taking a nap
The heart is three girls
The heart is no what you think it is
The heart cannot feign sleep
The heart wanders lost in the wood
The heart is hard of hearing
The heart cannot make up its mind
The heart is laughing at your poorly told jokes
The heart thought you were kidding
The heart is bored
The heart forgets to rewind
The heart doesn’t know how much a stamp costs


Saturday's fundraiser raised well over $100,000. With people gamely bidding $4,000 on an item worth a third of that, it's really no surprise. Did the fundraiser, in fact, take place in a bubble floating high above the cares of the rest of the country? Was it simply a freak occurrence? What accounts for the open wallets and carefree generosity? I'm estatic, but I do not understand. Other things I do not understand:

1) Why does John McCain keep insisting that he wouldn't have to run attack ads if Barack would just agree to do joint townhall meetings? How does that even make sense?

2) Why do socks disappear, and where do they disappear TO?

3) Why is Sarah Palin getting away with so much shit?

4) Why is Lea's brain wired in a way that makes it impossible for her to put her damn backpack in the damn back hallway, dammit?

5) Why did it take me so long to discover Joe's Jeans?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Admit It

I think I need to come to terms with the fact that I have an illogical, pressing, ridiculous, power-hungry, control-freak, masochistic URGE to be Room Parent. Why else would I have returned home from Back-to-School night as Room Parent for all three classrooms?

So much for not raising my hand. Anyways...

...I have to bid you good-bye for a few days as I turn the majority of my attention towards the annual school fundraiser. And it's a good thing, too, since the state of California has yet to pass its budget. Do you know what that means? That means that almost every public school in California currently has ZERO money. Principals were basically given only what they needed to OPEN school. So this influx of cash won't be the gravy; it'll be the meat. And that is all kinds of twisted.

The current political landscape is also all kinds of twisted. I find that the best antidote to my anxiety and frustration is to keep making those calls for Obama. It's either that or screaming into my pillow. Tomorrow will be an exception, though, as the campaign has asked us to refrain from calling on 9/11. If hitting the phone is something you have the time or inclination to do, I hereby volunteer to be your Personal Assistant. Give me your zip code, and I will find you the nearest phonebank.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Camp Obama - Day 2

Just a little advice for you: do NOT take an Advil PM the night before you need to be somewhere important. Because if you do that, you might not wake up until 8:26 am, and this might make you a leetle beety late arriving at the very important place.


There is really only one thing I need to tell you about Day 2 of Camp Obama. Why just one thing? Because it tells you everything you need to know: today's session opened with the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V:

McCain is ahead in the polls. Phonebank if you can, folks.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Camp Obama - Day 1

I am tired, my friends. Tired, tired, tired. But it's an exhaustion that's wrapped in exhilaration and buttoned up in a coat made out of hope. And pretty butterflies.


See? THAT'S how tired I am! I am talking nonsense. There was one moment today, though, when I did not talk nonsense. And that's the one moment I will tell you about before I lay my head on my pillow for the night.

This morning I, along with 125 or so other camp attendees, spent a chunk of time in breakout groups thinking about what the campaign calls our "stories of self." At first I was surprised when my group's facilitator leaned over and whispered that he hoped I didn't mind, but he'd told the organizers that I had a compelling story. They were going to call me up to the podium to share it.

I must interject here and mention that the spousal unit and I were out late last night in Berkeley thoroughly enjoying the show that Dave Matthews Band gave at The Greek. There were 8,000 people in the theatre, and 7,998 were heavily partaking in tiny, self-rolled cigarettes filled with some very fragrant herb. Your Nesting Ground Mistress was not among them. However, despite the fact that I showered this morning, I still arrived at Camp Obama smelling like a complete stoner. To make matters worse, Lea had awoken me at 5 am. I was functioning on about 4 hours of sleep, and I'm pretty sured I looked like it.

Now, back to our story....

After a few minutes, I was less surprised that my story was picked. I am a writer, after all. It would have been surprising if I couldn't craft a decent personal narrative about the events that led to my engagement with this presidential campaign. Okay, I thought. I can do this. I can stand up in front of this group of strangers and "share."

Just then, Kamala Harris walked into the room. Do you know who she is? She is the District Attorney of San Francisco. She is beautiful and brilliant in every way. Here is a picture that fails to capture even HALF of said beauty and brilliance:

Ms. Harris was introduced to rapturous applause. She spoke skillfully for the next ten minutes as cameras flashed and people basked in the glow of what can only be called The Kamala Factor. And then, she was gone. Like Cinderella at midnight, leaving a trail of broken hearts—both male and female, straight, gay, married, and single—in her wake. I'm sure you can guess what happened next.


I was called to the podium. Me. Stoner-smelling, tired-looking, flustered me.

I think I said earlier that I would tell you about what I said. But now I'm too mortified.

Let me just end by saying that there are less than 60 days left before we vote. If you are already volunteering for the campaign, amp it up! If you haven't, do. It feels really good. If you're Bay Area-based and you're my friend or my relative, join me and my little cousin Lui on our "Drive For Change" from October 17th-19th. Like thousands of other California volunteers, we're headed to the battleground state of Nevada to help secure that state's 5 CRUCIAL electoral votes for Barack Obama.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Post That Started One Way and Ended Another

I just noticed that in an effort to amuse myself throughout the day, I often respond to strangers in an overly mannered—yet completely sincere, I swear—way. For example, today at lunch when a man held the restaurant door open for me and my mother, I said, "Thank you, kind Sir."

And tonight when I was walking home from my friend's house at 10 pm, I passed an older couple taking a stroll in the moonlight. I didn't want them to be afraid of me, so I said, "Good evening." The man laughed and said, "Hello."

I write about this meaninglessly pleasant aspect of my day to avoid thinking about the convention in Minnesota. Even as I type I am trying to keep at bay the memory of that horrible Sarah Palin person belittling Barack Obama's achievements, sarcastically proclaiming that the presidency isn't supposed to be about someone's "journey of personal discovery," and pretending she knows something about foreign policy. The condescending smirks! The mock air of importance! The parading of her special needs newborn! Horrible, horrible woman. I wanted to reach through the television screen and throttle her. And I don't care if it's sexist or not: it is NOT good parenting to preach abstinence and ignore your child's sexual activity to the point where said child ends up unintentionallly pregnant at the age of 17. And it's even more wrong to then parade that child on a national stage as some sort of proof of your conservatism and "pro-life" commitment. How twisted is THAT?

Great. I'm all pissed off again. The good news is that my enthusiasm for this weekend's Camp Obama has doubled.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ADD + A List

I've often suspected that I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I think now it must be true. All week long my head has been whipping from side to side, from politics to writing to reading to soccer to the school auction to shopping to working out to laundry avalanche prevention and back again. It's crazy.

So I'm looking forward to this long weekend and the time it (conceivably) offers to find my bearings. Meanwhile, I am thankful for the following things:

1. Barack Obama's acceptance speech (not even the atrocious Brooks & Dunn song they chose to play when he was finished could poke a pin in the balloon of my American pride).

2. My friend's hilarious soliloquy about the overall ineffectiveness of Spanx.

3. Risa's ability to apologize when she knows she's wrong. Very, very, very wrong.

4. Vida's jaunty leadership style.

5. Lea's good manners. "Best manners in the house," says the spousal unit.

6. The Full Bloom ladies.

7. The love my parents bear my children.

8. Date night conversation with the SU.

9. The abundance of flattering shirts at Anthropologie.

And..I would have to say...

10. Trader's Joe's Crunchy Green Beans.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mother As Object

The other day at Lea's soccer practice, Risa and Vida made their own fun by razor-ing around the park and socializing on the playground, which was about 50 yards away. At one point, they began yelling for me. "Mom! Mom! Wave at us!"

I dutifully complied.

"See? THAT'S our mom," they said. A few kids looked at me and waved back. (It says something about their constant state of LOUDNESS, does it not, that I could hear them have a private conversation from so far away?)

Later, I asked them what that was all about. "Oh," they said. "They didn't believe we were Filipino."

Happy to help. I guess.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Big September

I'm approaching September on tip-toe, peering around corners with caution, checking over my shoulder in case someone is in pursuit, and making and re-making plans. Anything could happen this September, you see. Because this is the September that Lea breaks into the ranks of full-time students, and this is the September that I will not (I will not, I will not, I will not) be the first to raise my hand when a volunteer is needed, and this is the September that I deal with the mental and physical strangeness wrought by what I now realize was a rather unnerving entry into my fourth decade of life.

This is The Big September.

Plans thus far include:

1) Plenty of Obama stuff, including participation in Camp Obama, which requires a commitment to travel to Nevada at least once before November. I'm hoping to recruit my friend J. to participate in the shenanigans. The next few days will be spent making calls to potential campaign volunteers in my hometown of Daly City. These folks have signed on to help, but haven't actually done anything yet. Perhaps I can win them over with my frog voice, nervous laugh, and failed attempts at humor. Go me!

2) Online writing workshop via Stanford Continuing Studies. I have heard Marianne and Cecilia talk about how, um, CHALLENGING these are from the instructor's point-of-view, so I almost feel bad signing up, but I think ten weeks of sustained focus on the reading and writing of short stories will re-orient me to writing life. (Oh, God, WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT?!)

3) Finding the right combination of physical activity and food intake that will help me locate the original (well, maybe not the ORIGINAL) smaller body that exists in this current—and increasingly foreign—body. I am SO confused, people. I feel like I'm navigating an entirely new landscape. Adding to my panic is the fact that I am NOT sedentary, and I do NOT eat a ton of food, so I don't understand what I'm supposed to be doing here. Bleh.

Reading back over the previous paragraphs, none of this seems particularly earth-shattering, but trust me: The Big September has been a long time coming. And so, to completely wed myself to the transitions (both obvious and implied) noted in this post, I have made a symbolic gesture of commitment and...chopped off my hair. I did it yesterday, and when I woke up this morning was shocked to be free of the nest of tangles and random curls and semi-dreads.

I think I'll get used to it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Useless Advice + Peter Pan Is A Wee God

The one thing you should make sure to bring along to Disneyland/California Adventure is...a personal massage therapist. Barring that, wear the right shoes. Also wear your Obama '08 pin, as the visibility factor is excellent (expect to be hissed at by one guy shall I put it?...has eaten a few too many foot-long hot dogs in his day).

Now, for your possible viewing pleasure, I offer the girls' exchange with everyone's favorite sprite: Mr. Peter Pan.

First comes the detailed conversation about various hat-wearing techniques:

Next, the girls strike P.P.'s signature pose:

When they request a hands-on-hips one, he takes grievous offense, screams a bratty, "No!," and turns his back:

But then gamely relents:

And now the countdown to back-to-school begins in earnest. Nine days to go...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Which Way to Neverland?

Summer is winding down, but those of us who reside here at Nesting Ground HQ are rousing ourselves for one last hurrah. In other words, my friends, we're heading to Disneyland. It's been about four years since we were last in the belly of the beast, and I trust that this time we will not spend every minute searching for the next princess photo op. This time, I daresay we'll be saying hello to Mr. Toad instead. And Mr. Space Mountain. And Mr. Matterhorn. And Mr. Peter Pan's Flight. And Mr. Mad Teacup.

You know what I enjoy about Disneyland? You either have to own the (admittedly ridiculous) experience or get the hell out. There's no room for attitude at Disneyland, people. You don't roll your eyes at Mickey; you smile. You don't pretend you think Pirates of the Caribbean is stupid; you happily wait in line for 30 minutes. You don't turn your nose up at Nemo; you board the submarine. You don't...well, you get it.

Now I'm all a-twitter. Be back soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Night Linkage

Look what Mr. Bino did! Ah, something so satisfying about seeing all those covers in one place. Makes for some easy shopping come holiday time, that's for sure.

Speaking of Bino, here's a link to his new blog, The Freirian Goes to Harvard.

And here is Grace Talusan's essay, "The Myth of Filipino Magnetism" at Kartika Review.

And here is the men's Olympic basketball team from Spain making asses out of themselves by "slanting" their eyes for an ad.

And here's a blog called Racialicious that's all about the "intersection of race and pop culture."

And, finally, I don't think I've ever mentioned it before, but I like what they do over at PinoyCentric: All Things Brown & Beautiful.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Unlike A Certain Gentleman From the South...

...Barack Obama is never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you. He's never gonna make you cry, never gonna say good-bye, never gonna tell a lie (well, except for that damned FISA thing), and hurt you:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Filed Under: Things I Wish I Could Say

On a recent trip to Kepler's, I picked up the "Fantastic Women" (September '07) issue of Tin House.

It's billed as an "extraordinary collection of tales from today's most sensational, genre-twisting writers," and I'm not one to quibble. I've liked everything I've read so far, but especially a small section from an essay Rick Moody wrote about taking a workshop from postmodern goddess Angela Carter. In it, Moody describes the first day of class and Carter's struggle to whittle the group down to a manageable number:

After the break, there were still too many students who wanted to enroll. Perhaps she was a little exasperated. A guy in the back—and in this reconstruction he is very bored, stoned, privileged, or exactly the sort one often encountered in the Ivy League—asked, "So what's your work like anyway."

Later, I would have understood how much Angela relished this moment, the moment in which she made ribbons of an interlocutor. She paused for a minute, and then in her mild way, she remarked: "My work cuts like a blade at the base of a man's penis."

It was as if the class emptied on the spot...

Could I love her more? No, I could not. And as a small token of my appreciation for Angela Carter's sense of deliciously morbid humor, I will read one of her perfect stories tonight.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Today on Animal Planet...

Did anyone else burst into tears when they watched this frickin' Christian the Lion thing (please say yes, please say yes, please say yes)?

All I know is I'm gonna be sooooo embarrassed if it's some kind of elaborate YouTube hoax. In fact, I'm already embarrassed because I'm pretty sure that the Whitney Houston song ADDED rather than detracted from my emotional outpouring. Jesus take my wheel.

In other animal news, we have just returned from the lake where a sign proclaimed it was "Fawn Season." I tried to play it all casual, but then I realized it wasn't my imagination: the spousal unit wasn't letting me anywhere near the driver's seat. Which means that I'm not the only one still haunted by this scenario from three years ago.

Other odd facts about this weekend's lake trip:

1) I didn't step foot in the lake.

2) I didn't have an ice cream at the lake.

3) There were no grown men in Speedos at the lake. Just one boy who looked to be about ten years old; I promptly named him "EuroBoy."

4) I didn't finish my book at the lake. If fact, it seems like the more time I spend reading Little, Big, the longer it gets. However, if I do ever make it to the end, it won't really matter because I'll probably just start it all over again. All of which is to say, you should read this book:

Okay, I have to watch the Christian the Lion thing again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The following note is from my friend Marilee, whose husband Todd ended his life—about 16 months ago now—by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. They have three young children.

I would appreciate it if you would do what Marilee requests: please click on the link and register your support for a suicide deterrent barrier by August 25th. Thanks in advance.


Todd's suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge in Feb 2007 has opened my eyes about depression and the need for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. Although Todd's death was very complicated, the Golden Gate Bridge provided a perfect method of death for him, highly fatal and off a structure that was always in his life and had meaning to him.

Survivors of those who have committed suicide off the Golden Gate have actively worked towards a barrier for years with little success, but they have never quit. More people join our group every few weeks, and although the barrier will not bring Todd back it will end the addition of new people to our group! Right now the Golden Gate Bridge District is accepting comments on several barrier designs—this is the farthest this has ever gotten! The Opposition is still very strong to not touch the bridge, so I am requesting that you click on this link by August 25th to register a comment supporting the barrier.

In the " What's New" box on the right-hand side of the page, you will see "Comment" highlighted. Click on that. You can also read the EIR if you want.

Here are a few thoughts for your comment:

• My choice is Alternative 1B if you just want a quick answer

• A District Official that I spoke to stated that they do not have the money. I encouraged her to take the first step which is approve a barrier and not say no to everything due to lack of fun ds.

•The survivor group will always grow as long as there is no barrier. This effort will not go away.

•It is the right thing to do, please put politics aside- Those who have committed suicide were worth saving.

•The barrier is technically feasible and I feel will be found environmentally acceptable (EIR).

For more information, please read this New York Times article, "The Urge to End It All."

And the documentary The Bridge was produced and directed by Eric Steel:

And here is the trailer for the film:

Please spread the word to as many people as you can... in state and out!

We appreciate your help in this effort.

Thank you,

Marilee, Grant, Lindsay and Dana

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Cliche Post

I know it's a cliche to write a post about having nothing to write a post about, but if I remain silent until there's something riveting to discuss (like felt crafts and glitter abuse, grocery cart rage, pornographic Chris Isaak videos, saving the life of a wee bird, etc.), it might be silent for weeks here at Nesting Ground Headquarters. And that would never do because then my relatives start flinging one-liners at me: you never update. aren't you blogging anymore? you USED to post all the time.

And then I feel bad.

It's not that there are not little bits and pieces of things happening in my life, mind you. Let's do a rundown:

Writing. Oh, yes, I am. And I have the rejections slapped on my forehead to prove it. Also working diligently on a group project and others bits and pieces. Feeling satisfied (and yet, not) in regards to writing.

Obama-ing. Have you noticed how Barack has let himself go a little gray? I think this is quite presidential and no doubt has the McCain camp readying another really bad television ad (voiceover: "Barack Obama isn't old and out-of-touch.There's only one candidate who's old and so utterly out of touch that he has never used e-mail, and that candidate is John McCain"). Anyways, in my quest to wake up gloriously happy on the morning of November 5th, I continue to volunteer with the campaign. Last weekend I made calls to Independent voters in New Mexico who, I have to say, are some cranky-ass people. I was fairly shaken up by a man who started screaming and calling Barack the n-word.

*jumps around to shake it off*

With some trepidation, I'm participating in the Neighborhood Leader program. I know almost everyone on my 36-person list, though, and I plan to shower them with Obama love in the form of bumper stickers and yard signs. Also, I'll be doing voter registration at the Burlingame farmer's market. Come see me!

Kiddo-ing. It's summer, after all. Despite the fact that my children attempted a coup yesterday (don't worry; I'm fine), I am taking them to the children's discovery museum in San Jose today so that they can crawl down a rabbit hole and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts and have a mad tea party and whatnot in Alice's Wonderland.

Raising Money-ing. It's that time of year when my co-horts and I get ready to throw the big fundraiser for our school. Last year, our 4th year, we finally broke the $100,000 ceiling. It'll be interesting to see what we manage to do in this economy. I'm taking 1,500 invitations to the printer today for trimming, scoring, and folding.

Geez, I better get moving...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It Has Come To This.

Maybe I inhaled too much glitter glue. Maybe I'm just not hydrated. Whatever the case, I'm feeling a wee bit hung over from an overabundance of craft-like activity this afternoon. Here are some fairy bookmarks, a project which I have to admit the kiddleys tackled with admirable gusto:

But the gusto was not to last. Below is my homage to felt (I believe I reached the pinnacle of Craft Mountain when I successfully executed the monkey):

Notice how I say this is MY homage to felt. I say this because the children disappeared after realizing it would take 4,379 hours to cut out all the tiny pieces of felt required to make a Cute Stuff applique. By the time I had stitched the monkey's first eye, they had changed into their bathing suits and were running through the backyard sprinkler with some neighbor kids. Every 20 minutes or so they yelled, "Mom! Can you please make smoothies?"

And I did. Between bouts of felt cutting and miniscule embroidering, I made batch after batch of smoothies and delivered them to the increasingly large number of kids in the backyard.

"Thank you!" they said.

"You're welcome," said I.

After pouring the last of Smoothie Batch #3 into Risa's cup she said, "Um, are you done with my monkey bag?"

"Not yet."

"Okay. Hey, you guys. My mom's making me a monkey bag! She'll make one for you, too! Mom! Hey, Mom! Five more monkey bags!"

"Yes! Yes! Monkey bags for everyone!" I said. And I did a little monkey dance.

Time stopped. Many little faces stared at me.

I laughed but, alas, I was the only one.

"She's so embarrassing..." said Vida.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Confession Regarding Last Friday's Date Night

I can't help it: I enjoy Chris Isaak.

And this despite the fact that he's a well-known SWiMWAiF.

I have written about SWiMWAiF's before, but can't seem to find the post anywhere, so I shall re-define. A SWiMWAiF is a "scary white man with a fetish" for Asian and/or Asian-American women. I coined this clumsy descriptor when I was in college and you couldn't turn the corner without bumping smack into some guy who was serial dating Asian girls in an attempt to find the one who might finally intersect with the lame fantasies floating around in his pea brain.

Anyways, if you had asked me to pinpoint the one woman in the audience for whom Chris Isaak would leave the stage and sing directly to, I would have said it would be the Asian woman sitting two rows down and to the left of us. And guess what? Chris Isaak left the stage to sing directly to the Asian woman sitting two rows down and to the left of us. SO NOT a surprise.

But he also covered Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me."

And he also asked his keyboard player to "Please play some musical notes to reflect the pain which I am feeling at this moment."

And when he growled that "Baby did a bad, bad thing," it kinda made me want to do a bad, bad thing.

And, finally, he sang "Wicked Game" just right, and it has one of my favorite lines from a song ever: "World was on fire no one could save me but you..."

I'm going to insert the video here because it's so beautifully shot, but OH MY GLORY I had forgotten how completely not-safe-for-work it is:

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Post In Which I Talk (mostly) About the Little Bird

"You're making lasagna!" she screamed. She pointed at my grocery cart and wagged her finger because, apparently, I was a very, very bad girl for making lasagna. In point of fact, I was NOT making lasagna, but I didn't bother to refute her because I was too busy trying to swallow my desire to point at HER cart and say, "Oh! Super Plus tampons! Your period must be about to start!"

Is it not basic etiquette to avert your eyes from another person's shopping cart? Honestly people.

Now I shall move on to my original post.

* * *

Yesterday a little ball of pulsing feathers was unceremoniously tossed out of its nest. It landed at my feet, where I stared at it for a moment. We were already running late for an orthodontist appointment, so I never should have said anything to my kids, but to have remained silent would have made me a rather poor excuse for a mother. "Look!" I said. "A baby bird! Okay, we gotta go!"

Of course, much madness and many overwrought exclamations followed. "A poor baby bird! Oh what shall we do! Oh where are its parents! Oh we cannot just leave it here! Oh a predator may happen upon it and then it will not survive! Oh! Oh! Oh!"

I managed to pack my brood into the car by saying that the bird's mother would undoubtedly find it in a few minutes. "Oh but what if she doesn't?" Then, I lied, we'll take care of it. I felt certain that by the time we returned nature would have taken its course and some neighborhood cat would have had a nice, crunchy little snack.

But wouldn't you know it? When we got back and the girls tumbled out of the car and through the gate and down the path, the thing was still sitting where it fell. At this juncture, please insert more overwrought exclamations.

I sighed. "Okay, wait here and make sure nothing eats it. I'll go see what we're supposed to do." One quick Google search later, I emerged from the house holding a little plastic container lined with tissue. "Put him in here," I said. "Wait!" I ran back inside and returned with some dishwashing gloves. "Put these on first."

Then, in accordance with my Googled instructions, we tucked the container inside a bush. "Okay. Leave him alone now, and his mama will come feed him." Well, I may as well have presented them with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies and said I'm going to put this right here in the middle of the table, but don't eat any. Every time I left them unattended they were outside with "Galio," and even though I patiently explained in half a dozen ways that they needed to let him be, they could not. For reasons I SUPPOSE I understand, they were psychologically incapable of offering him any sort of fledgling/nestling privacy.

Finally the spousal unit came home and we were able to conjure up just enough combined power to keep them away from the poor thing. We set him back in his container in the bushes and went about our usual business. About an hour later, the mama and papa bird felt safe enough to swoop in and feed him, and, well, I have to admit something. I have to admit that I, your mean ol' Nesting Ground Mistress, got a little misty-eyed when I saw the family flapping their wings at each other and chirping and flitting about in obvious bird delight.

Of course, it might also have been my allergies. We'll never know for sure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Brain Flickers, Tuesday

I should probably do some laundry.

I love a sweeping epic. Where are the sweeping epics?

Real ass-hole move there, guys.

Best Otter Pop flavor? Sir Isaac Lime. You know it's true.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is just as I remember: pretty much perfect.

Why did I wear this? I look like Frida Kahlo.

Definitely should have done some laundry.