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."