Friday, April 30, 2010


A strange silence. The spousal unit, in a heroic back-to-nature attempt, has taken our children to Yosemite for the weeekend. They left at about 12:30. It is now 7:14, and here is what I have done so far:

1) watched the Madonna episode of Glee on hulu.

2) answered a bunch of e-mails.

3) checked in on FB and typed a response to my brother's posted photo of an A & W, where we used to eat ten cent Coney Dogs on...Tuesdays? Wednesdays?

4) in The Normal School, read an epistolary story by Susan Straight titled, "Dear Mr. Atende." Thumbs up.

5) in The Normal School, read a report by R.B. Moreno titled, "The Hair in Your Texas Garlic Toast," which was all about how, yeah, we're probably eating human hair. Thumbs up. I guess?

6) in The Normal School, read a gorgeous fairytale-type story by Maud Casey titled, "The Prince Who Wanted To See the World." Thumbs extraordinarily up.

7) In The Normal School, read a story by Steve Almond titled, "Old Glory," which was about some guy who wakes up with guacamole on his balls, or maybe this was a metaphor? Thumbs down, down, down.

8) became annoyed by Steve Almond's heartless ruination of my Normal School reading experience.

9) sat in the sun.

10) took a nap.

And now I write. Epic afternoon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tilting at (Non-Imaginary) Windmills

You know what's depressing? The "achievement gap" is depressing. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to put my chin on the table and just...sigh. But instead—in one of your Nesting Ground Mistress' typical Don Quixote moments—I decided I would recruit friends to help teach our Spanish-speaking Kindergarten parents (many of whom are not literate in any language) letter sounds, beginning and final consonants, blends, and sight words. To teach them, in other words, the things their children are learning in Kindergarten. My logic was that regardless of their own level of schooling, our parents could learn these basic things. And that by learning these things, they could help their children—at least to some extent—with reading; or they could, by example, show their children that reading is important; or they could realize that by partnering with their child, they can help their child to be more successful; or etc. etc. etc.

My hilarious pal M. jumped aboard, as did two of my go-to, bilingual outreach moms, L. and E. We dove into this project thinking of it as something we HAD to do, SHOULD do, and COULD do. What we didn't realize is that it would be...pretty fun. It's fun to create an atmosphere where parents don't have to feel shy about yelling out letter sounds (and believe me, we make them yell)—even if they're the wrong sounds. We create said atmosphere via our willingness to be as ridiculous as possible. M., for example, pretends to be a dj scratching vinyl to demonstrate the sound of "w," or Tarzan swinging on a rope for the short "o." And I whip out my high school Spanish for comic relief and to prove that I will readily climb out on a limb if they will. Throw in some donuts, coffee, and fruit, and you've got one helluva morning.

So I don't know if these workshops will amount to much when it comes to bridging the achievement gap at our school. Maybe? Not likely? Yes? I'll keep my fingers crossed. Or shall I say it?...dedos cruzados. *laughter ensues*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sure Is Quiet Around Here

I'm alone in my house for the first time in I don't know how long. Just me and the clanking of a sweatshirt zipper as the dryer spins 'round and 'round. This is quite a change for me, as your Nesting Ground Mistress has endured and/or enjoyed several weeks of pure lunacy. Highlights are as follows:

1) Our acacia tree tried to kill me, but it only succeeded in causing debilitating allergies that morphed into a sinus infection. For twelve days, I could not taste or smell at all (I also couldn't hear very well). Because eating held no attraction for me, I ate only to relieve that little knot that forms in my stomach when hungry. And what did I learn? I learned that I clearly overeat in my regular life because all it took to relieve said knot was four almonds, say, or half an apple. Now that my senses have returned, do you think I continue to sate my hunger with four almonds? Of course not, you silly. In fact, I just ate an It's-It.

2) Over spring break, we took a road trip to Disneyland, Santa Barbara, and Monterey. Disneyland was...Disneyland. But Santa Barbara? It was a revelation. We lived there for four or five years before we had kids, and though I thought it was lovely THEN, everything seemed to appear in technicolor this time around. There was much frolicking in the waves, there was much traipsing around the zoo, there was dinner with friends, and there was some seriously good eating (I'm so grateful that my sense of taste returned on Day 1 at Disneyland) at Jeannine's American Bakery, La Super-Rica (where I was almost brought to tears by my tamale), and even the humble hamburger joint called The Habit. Here is a picture of the charming Jeannine's (taken from their website):

3) Our trip ended in Monterey, where the spousal unit set us up with luxe accommodations at The Clement:

Pampering, though, was not the goal of our visit. The goal was to cross the threshold of the fabled Monterey Bay Aquarium, a place that none of us had ever been before (I know: losers). I was enthralled—like, ridiculously enthralled—with the jellyfish and the seahorses. I could have watched those creepy seahorses all day. I knelt down in front of one of the tanks and had the following silent, one-sided conversation with the seahorses: You are so creepy. How'd you get so creepy? Why do you all have your tails wrapped around that particular thing? You float around and float around and float around in the creepiest, creepiest way. You crazy, creepy seahorses. Like that. Anyways, here is Lea's silhouette against a tank of jellyfish:

4) Two days after we returned from our trip, my two brothers, two nephews (ages 16 and 14), and one niece (20ish) arrived to partake in a week of relaxed (hahahahahaha!) celebration in honor of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Translated, that means we ate a lot. One night, we stormed the doors of a restaurant and my eldest brother, my 16-year-old nephew, and the spousal unit ate this:

5) On Saturday, the I-Hotel Manilatown Center hosted a book launch for Growing Up Filipino II, and I had the pleasure of reading again with Tony Robles, Oscar Penaranda, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, and Marianne Villanueva. It was a well-attended event with a lovely vibe, and so what if a young man approached me afterwards and prefaced his question with the word, "Ma'am?" I am, indeed, a "Ma'am," and I should just get used to it.

6) Yesterday, we took the last of my family to the airport, and now I'm quite melancholy.

7) But then I learned that Philippine Speculative Fiction 5, in which I have a speculatively-told story, has just been released in the Philippines, and they are having a launch party this weekend. This makes me happy, as does the cover of the book:

You can read more about the collection at Dean Alfar's blog.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rocking In My Rocking Chair & Staring Into the Distance

Remember when we used to blog a lot, and we used to comment on each other's blogs rather than commenting on each other's Facebook pages? At the risk of sounding like the old guys who used to "walk to school barefoot in the snow while being chased by wolves," I miss those halcyon days.

Last week while cleaning up after some sort of spambot that was leaving a trail of pornographic messages in its wake, I ran across some of said comments. And I was reminded of the funny little fact that we used to sign off with our word verification and a made-up definition. Here are a few, circa 2005 (!):

From Sunny - yecojk: flaky Lithuanian pastry similar to apple turnover
From Gladys - ovbzzv: go away, little fly
From me - dnmhipw: a hybrid dance form originating south of the Equator
From Bec - alvqhais: n. sneeze; v. to bless someone after they sneeze
From Bec - tvkdoxh: n. what penguins really wear
From Oscar - deaokrp: is the werd that ya heard

Perhaps I'm in a glorifying-the-past mood because my birthday is tomorrow. I think I will now churn butter and listen to some Andy Gibb on my record player.