12/08/2006

Perspectives

I read writer's blogs mostly to know that the craziness I often feel about my writing is somehow 'normal' or at least 'understandable' by another writer, especially one that has created a career out of their writing.

William Gibson recently wrote about the mania of the revising process and thankfully the survival and resolution of said mania.

Mostly, he shows that yes, revising the "worst novel ever written" is not only possible but necessary, as is seeking the feedback from trusted pre-final readers. The 'editorial-ego' comes into play, but must be beaten back occasionally to prevent it from smothering (ever notice that mother is part of smother?...) the manuscript.

It all goes back to that idea that manuscripts are never really 'finished' (ie perfect) but abandoned (hopefully with the knowledge that it's polished enough for submission).

12/01/2006

Wor(l)ds on Paper

Doing NaNoWriMo has been an incredible experience.

What was once a dream, a failure, a theory, an illusion, a crazy idea, a desire is now a reality.

I've written my first book, start to finish.

Along the way I learned a great deal about my 'writing' process, some things I knew, some I guessed at, some I didn't realize before NaNo.

1) It is possible for a forty-something, full-time staff editor, mom of two children under the age of ten, wife of 18 years, and novice performance storyteller, among other things to write a 50,000 words plus, along a single storyline in under 30 days;

2) That my best days of writing were around 2k. Less than that and I wondered about my sense of commitment. More than that and I wondered about my sanity. Both extremes were dissatisfying, but that middle range, 2k, felt really good;

3) 3/30/10 is the best combo for a writing session - 3 slots, 30 mins each with ten min breaks;

4) Even better is to challenge another crazy writer to a Word War - a half hour of no holds barred writing, with a final word count shared with one's 'opponent';

5) Public Accountability = Incalculable Support - I told anyone who'd listen for more than 30 seconds that I was doing NaNo and that /this/ year I was going to make it;

6) Having my family on board, supportive, feeding me and generally making me feel like it was okay to disappear for a couple of hours a night to write made it possible to focus on the writing;

7) Writing is meditation - being present, even when distractions (doubt, fear, elation, worry, anxiety, bills, laundry, dishes, good books, favorite TV shows) abound, acknowledging those distractions And Doing It Anyway;

8) That it is possible to feel like a total failure in the morning after a particularly bad writing session, work a regular shift, feel exhausted and pained from carpal tunnel flare-ups, then sit down and write something half decent, something that can be tweaked later into something readable;

9) That the first 10k is hard because it's all so unknown; that the second 10k is hard because emotion must transition to commitment, that the third 10k is hard because every plot point is falling apart and it /has to/ fall apart, that the fourth 10k is hard because you've got to quickly put everything back together that fell apart in the previous 10k, that reaching 50k is hard because your wrist is giving out and you realize that there's no way that you'll be able to wrap the novel with the same level of detail as the first 40k because you'll run out of words before you've run out of plot;

10) That the first 10k is easy because everything is new and fresh and you're establishing easy things like place and time; that the second 10k is easy because now you get to set up the really juicy stuff, start showing character flaws and throw in your first twist; that the third 10k is easy because you're halfway through the story and your gaining momentum by leaps and bounds and before you know it, there you are at the fourth 10k which is easy because now you get to really mess with your characters, generally torture them and make them reveal strengths they never had; that reaching 50k is easy because look, you've already done more writing than you've ever done, so those last few thousand are just a joy to work with;

11) Chris Baty is a funny, brilliant man;

11b) Finding 80's Vids on YouTube can help keep up momentum; giving yourself nice, juicy rewards every 10k (like an epi of your favorite show on DVD) releases the pressure of getting it 'perfect;'

12) Writing front to back, linearly through time, with a set of good character sketches and a general plot idea really is the best way for me to write;

13) That yes, I do have novel length ideas and I can sustain that energy over a long period of time;

14) That hard as it is, for me, it is best not to rewrite anything as the story is being framed/written - going back reinforces a sense of never getting done, second guesses the original reasons for plot points, and limits forward motion;

15) Never limit the forward motion of a story in progress; delays are inevitable; stopping is not an option;

16) That peformance storytelling as Jazz loosens the storytelling joints and creates a sense of safe risk in writing - after all, it's not like you're on stage telling a story in front of hundreds of people, it's just words on paper;

17) Writing is Words on Paper - plotting ideas, mulling characters, imagining scenery, basically anything that occupies the mind and emotions that does not actually put words on paper (or screen) is /not/ writing;

18) I hate passively constructed sentences. I write /a lot/ of passively contructed sentences and bad plot cliche's when I write fast - but - getting those words out means that I can also get to some really nicely put together sentences and fresh ways of looking at nuances of the human condition;

19) I don't have to write everyday to make a goal - I think I took nearly a week total off in November for various reasons ranging from fatigue to prior commitments/holiday celebrations/travel - being behind does not mean the end of a project or a lack of commitment; catching up and even getting ahead of achievable goals is the sweetest thing;

20) NaNoWriMo really is as life changing as they say it is.

***

Two books got me through NaNo, just two books, plus the occasional dive into a Charles DeLint book to keep limber:

No Plot, No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty

Write Mind: 299 Things Writers Should Never Say To Themselves by Eric Maisel

There's still several months of rewrite needed to turn the draft into a submittable manuscript and in all likelihood I'll need to triple the word count I've got now to make it viable. But I'm taking a break from it to reaquaint myself with all the things I set aside to do NaNo. I have the sure knowledge that the novel will still be there waiting for me Jan. 1 when I start on the next stage of its development, and that knowledge is such a priceless gift.

In the meantime, I look forward to completing a few smaller projects that in October looked large and menacing - none are of the length of NaNo and none need to try and bear the burden of saying everything I want to say, which I guess is the ultimate realization of NaNo.

I have a lot I want to say, much I want to create. Every piece I create, whether essay, book, poem, column, or even blog post, is a chance to examine and share whatever it is I want to share. And it doesn't have to be perfect the first go, or 'complete.' It just can be what it is and there will be time enough and opportunity enough to keep working a thought out.

I feel like I've released a pressure valve too long and too tightly restricted. But instead of expecting one single note played loud and sustained, I can let the notes evolve and shift and change, vary and contrast. It's pretty exciting.

Makes for happy. TYL.

11/28/2006

Feeling Good (or 50k!)

*gestures toward the sidebar and grins tiredly*

Still have about five more scenes to write or outline before Thursday midnight, but had to post the wonder that is Maganda's Comb.

Yep, snow, ice, Grace and my family made it all come together tonight.

Now for a double header of Battlestar Gallactica season 2.

11/16/2006

Writing w/o the Net (or Relax, Get To It)

Started putter/writing at about 8:30 tonight and got about 1000 words into it when the 'Net returned. What a relief!

Churned out a nice parcel of words, but I imagine that once this marathon is over, the scene I just finished will need to be overhauled for 'dragginess.' Whew, that was a long one to write.

But, I've made a good transition to the next part of the story and I'm set for tomorrow's session. I'm going to try Chris Baty's 3/30/10 plan - three thirty minute sessions with ten minute breaks in between. I came pretty close to doing that tonight and yeilded a little over 2k. I'm still a day behind, but my attitude is so much better than it was yesterday.

I now know I need some videos to watch during my breaks, something with a good beat and a connection with something fun; research notes at my fingertips and a challenge. So far I'm third in my class on word counts, and barely 150 words behind the gal in second. One buddy though is out there with 10k more than I have on deck, but that's cool, because I know he's really working hard at it.

Anyhoo, the vid of the day is Frankie Goes to Hollywood Relax.

I changed up the lyrics for myself though:

Oh oh
Wee-ell-now!

Relax just do it
When you want to write to it
Relax just do it
When you want to scene
Relax just do it
When you want to go
When you want to go

Relax just do it
When you want to write to it
Relax just do it
When you want to scene
Relax just do it
When you want to run from it
Relax just do it
When you want to go
Come on, oh oh

But scene it in the right direction
Make making it your intention-ooh yeah
Live those dreams
Scheme those schemes
Got to hit me
Hit me
Hit me with those laser beams

*chuckle*

Oh, and I broke 25k tonight. It's all good.

Win(d)some Lose(some)

Much big wind yesterday sent us all packing at 4pm when they closed our office. Power was out in swaths all over the county with powerlines and treelimbs everywhere. I was happiest when we all got home safe and, miracle of miracles, we had power.

Power. But. No. Cable.

We were home safe and the computers were quite stable, but I found that I am more android than I had thought, this software requiring the connection to the 'Net in order to feel stable.

*shakes head*

I've got 'Net here at work, which is comforting, but I'm wary about returning home tonight, nervous that I won't be able to shed the discomfort enough to continue writing... literally without a 'Net.

Never much realized/thought about how my connection with the 'Net was so thick with dependencies. It was as if I had shrunk from my normal size to that of a small walnut, which for Hamlet may have made him feel as if he was king of infinite space, but for me was isolating and a bit fearsome.

Distraction. It's just a distraction covered over a fear that I haven't addressed.

That's been the wonder of writing this month, literally using meditation to write - writing as meditation, meditation as writing. I never realized how much people who meditate struggle as they meditate, and how it is the Doing that makes meditation and in my case writing.

I'm past the halfway mark on NaNo and a bit behind on wordcount, but it still feels possible, making it to the finish line. I think if I can just keep that focus whether or not I have 'Net tonight, I'll do just fine.

11/11/2006

Gigs

Broke 15k on my nano today. Feels pretty good even if I'm still about a day behind on word count. Nerves got to me, I think, both with the NaNo and with storytelling, but as I'm learning, it was just a matter of getting up and doing something that made all the difference.

Performed a couple stories at an event called Flight put on by a group of ecclectic artists from the area. The telling wasn't as smooth as I'd liked but the kids sure seemed to enjoy it. I'll have to work on the Heron and Hummingbird story a bit more before it flows as well as the Alitaptap story.

Beat tired now, though, so I might only squeeze in one YouTube video before I turn in.

Anyway, the mantra for these days is Decide and Do. All the rest is just stuff that may never ever happen, so why worry about it?

11/07/2006

Tough Night

Barely made goal tonight, and am still about a thousand words behind the daily 1667 word count.

Not bad, really, 10% behind is all, but writing was tough tonight. My internet connection was unreliable and although I write offline, the disconnection and uncertainty of getting back online were enough to throw me. Who knew that I'd already developed a routine involving relaxing into writing by surfing for old 70's videos on YouTube?

But...

I broke 10k. Pretty frelling amazing for seven days work. At least for me, that is.

Hopefully Blockbuster has the second season of Battlestar available. I told myself that once I hit 10k I could watch an epi, my reward for making it this far. And it feels /good/ to reach 10k even if it was hard getting there tonight.

Time for sleep.

11/06/2006

Admit to Great Desires

This is a dangerous time for dreams. “Vision” has become something you experience after too much dope — a subject for scorn. “Passion” and “desire” are used, nine times out of ten, as euphemisms for lust. It isn’t fashionable to confess powerful desires and then work for their achievement: you risk the derision of those who cannot admit to desire, and the envy of those afraid to have any. Their anger will seduce you into silence, inaction, passive acceptance of what seems unalterable…if you let it.

Dare the dangerous, the ridiculous, the impossible. Find out what you’re for, and get busy being that. “Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might — for the night cometh, in which no man can work.”

Admit to great desires. Work as if for mighty purposes. You have nothing to lose but the illusion that you make no difference in the world.

Love as if you may some day die suddenly. You will.

Share your joy.

-- Diane Duane

11/05/2006

Feeling Good

Only one day behind on my word count for NaNo, which isn't bad considering that Friday and yesterday were no write days (dad's birthday). So I'm feeling pretty good.

To celebrate, here are a couple of vids I found on YouTube. I love YouTube.



11/01/2006

QOTD

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.
And the most you can do is live inside that hope.
Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.

-- Barbara Kingsolver

Launch Day!

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
--Louisa May Alcott

Tonight I officially launch Maganda's Comb as a novel-in-blogress, shedding the last drydock moorings of Prewrite and Idea Generation.

Staying positive and loose today while at work, waiting for my class/writing to start tonight, has been the focus of the day. This is a different sort of trepidation than I've had the last two times I've tried NaNoWriMo, a more aware sort of nervousness in which I try not to dodge it, or rationalize it, or overtalk to it, but just know it's there and maybe a bit of why, but trying not to get distracted by it.

Hubby says it's like meditation, that way, knowing that thoughts will intrude and temporarily distract intention, but there's a trust too, that comes of believing that if the thought is really all that important it will still be there when the time comes to deal with it, that the drifting smoke of distant disasters may actually be just fog lifting from the moors, an atmospheric thing, and not a portent of things to come.

Anyway, so my bags are packed and my ticket booked, all that's left is the journey itself. I'll send a postcard back here once in a while... I hope!

10/29/2006

Conversion

Continued the cleanup of my net spaces here and converted all but one blog to BetaBlogger.

The remaining blog was deleted for lack of need.

Added more info to The Novel (TM). Decided to not post the general outline of the story yet, to keep at least some suspense. Possiblity later of creating separate blog for just the outline so I have it handy... Or I could just write myself an email, I guess...

Spent yesterday smoozing with the folks and getting a bit of a spa treatment as part of the launch of my cousin's new home business. Bought makeup. I buy makeup once every couple of years for the holiday picture season, but in general, have never bought anything 'fancy' not like this stuff. We had dinner with my cousins at iSushi...oh so yummy. Came home late last night, so I had to crash for a couple of hours today, but did make it to the planning meeting for an event I'm telling stories at later this month.

Tinkering with the blogs though has been the most fun today.

I feel /organized/.

10/28/2006

Beauty Happens

Thunderstorm damp surprise

This is the first line of a 15 line poem written by our five year old using magnetic poetry today at a children's museum. 15 lines. *shakes head*

I wish I had the other 14 lines, but Hubby didn't have a camera at the time and can only remember this one line.

Beautiful, eh?

I'm one lucky mom.

Sacrifices

There's no time left, really, to finish everything I'd hoped to before NaNo, and one of those things was to watch/read some library finds from a couple of weeks ago. I'm writing them down here with their call numbers so I can check them out in Dec.

Videos:

The 20th Anniversary National Storytelling Festival (j372.64 National 1431)
Tell Me a Story Vol. 3 (j372.64 National-3 1434)

Books:

Bataan and Corregidor (j940.54 Black)
Why the Pina Has a Hundred Eyes by N. Sta. Romana-Cruz (Folklore j398 Cruz)
The Carabao-Turtle Race by S. M. Ventura (Folklore j398 Ventura)
Festivals of the World - Philippines (j394.2 Mendoza 1999)
Powow Summer by M.R. Rendon (j394.2 Rendon)

Long Journeys

You know you've been on a long journey when you can barely remember the login/password to your main blog *chuckle*

Yep, and it has been a long journey these past few weeks, basically ever since school started. Shortly after my oldest started school 5 years ago, I've realized that once school starts for the year, it's one long slide from Sep. 1 to Dec. 31 down a steep and rocky hill where it takes all your wits and prayer to make it through all the insane bumps and turns that come at you... or you run into... and sometimes you just don't make it around every tree or over every gully smoothly.

With one in fourth grade (the dreaded year of overwhelming homework we were told) and one in kindergarten, it's been more than a bit crazy around here. I had great plans in the Summer to make a Master Calendar and Master To Do list, so we be more organized and able to handle changes. The To Do list came out in the form of a 5x7 purple card complete with little boxes to check stuff off. The top item was Master Calendar and on another To Get list was "stuff to make" Master Calendar.

Only about half the Purple Card got marked off before school started, and in fact, if you wanted to get technical about it, there's stuff marked off that's only half complete - all the uniforms aren't labeled yet and there's still a batch of mending to be done. But I try to think of it as projects half done and not half undone, but sometimes I'm a half empty sort of gal.

So the stuff for the Master Calendar was purchased and is in various pieces around my house. Somewhere. I lost track of it after day 1 of school, when the sign-ups for volunteer work started. And the ballet lessons. And the guitar lessons. And Junior Scouts. Oh, lets not forget the First Parent Teacher Club meeting and the parenting speaker (who was really cool) and the first round of colds that always hits right about two weeks after school starts (oh the joy of disease vectors known as School Aged Children).

I think the permanent To Do board finally got up about two weeks ago after a frenzy to purchase all the fabric necessary to build 2 All Saints Day costumes (Virgin Mother and St. Veronica - thank goodness no martyrs this year!) and convert existing costumes into acceptable Halloween costumes (they have the option to wear saints costumes on the 31st, but that's just not quite the same, eh? So we now have one Hermione costume with /large/ witch's hat and one fairy princess). I learned how to make quick cloaks and long tunic dresses in the SCA years ago and never knew it would come in handy after we left the group.

The first item on the To Do board is the Master Calendar, needed now that we've added Chess Club (or Math Olympiad, she hasn't decided yet), a meditation group for Hubby, a regular storytelling gig (maybe two) per month for me, and a couple of workshops. Plus there's the whole - so where are we spending Thanksgiving and how many days are we taking off? and how about Christmas? And don't forget about Dad's birthday.

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, our mantra has recently become "Sorry, can't do that until after the New Year." and "I'll/We'll have to figure that out in December." and "If it ain't on the calendar (our simple and very inadequate church calender with the wee little boxes) now then it ain't happenin'."

And that includes the Master Calendar, I'm afraid, unless somehow between shuttling the girls to where they need to be the next month while I write, my Hubby (my darling one who's eyes glaze when I even mention Master Calendar) gets inspired to make said Master Calendar in the next few weeks, I imagine that the To Do board will still read [] Master Calendar sometime around Easter 2007.

***********************

Highlights of the Last Few Weeks

*Two paid storytelling gigs. The first, on a cold September day at the Farmers Market, I tried doing a personal story along with a Filipino folktale. The personal story did better than the folktale, but the delivery of both was poorer than I would hope. The second gig at the Public Market was indoors and garnered me the opportunity to do a gig at an upcoming event.

*One monthly volunteer storytelling gig. The Alderwood Senior Center folk are darling and wonderful, although at first I was nervous to be there - both my grandparents died at Senior Centers, but I'm coming around to a sense that had I been a teller then perhaps they would have enjoyed listening as much as my present audience does.

*Committed to doing NaNoWriMo this year with more sense of preparation than in previous years. I'm still not quite done with my 'seven days' of preparation Chris Baty recommends, but the website is up with notes and everything and I've signed up for a class locally, so I think I'm pretty much set. Nervous does not even begin to describe the space I'm in right now, but this time, I sense that determination (and the incredible support of my family) will make a huge difference this year.

*Storytelling is still very present. Performance storytelling that is, in that although I'm doing NaNo, I'm also schedule to perform once, see the fabulous Eth Noh Tec, and actually take a workshop with ENT while they're here. Letting go of a sense that I'm shooting myself in the foot with these commitments and favoring storytelling over writing is something I'm struggling with.

*Other cool writing on the horizon. Participating in Achiote Press's new journal project and reading/responding to BJ's work is something I'm really looking forward to, as is reviewing for Galatea Resurrects (I think I'll keep whom I'm reviewing a bit of a secret for now). Lastly, with all this storytelling running around in my life, I thought I'd see if I could examine how this process of becoming a storyteller (learning both the craft and a great many Filipino Myths) is a decolonizing act. I'd also like to finally get more columns and poetry up at Haruah whose editors have been so patient with me while I see...

*Doctor after Doctor after Doctor. One of my blog ideas is to one day write about my struggle with Chronic Fatigue. Six months ago I started to see a series of docs basically because my primary provider decided that this year would be a good year to go on maternity leave and the series of 'treatments' and 'tests' have really dragged me down, almost as bad as the condition itself. I need to get a flu shot, but after all the testing and visits I've had recently, I'm none too keen on getting poked Yet Again. I'm to the point where I'm like Whatever, give me the med you think will work /this/ time and let me get /on/ with my life, thankyouverymuch. My Reiki practice is basically nonexistent, but a couple of recent 'coincidences' is bringing me around to starting again.

*Revamped this blog's sidebars to reflect more of Me (or Moi, as the Chatelaine is so fond of saying). There are now a set of sites written by Famous People I Hope To Meet One Day But For Now I Can Be Satisfied With Reading Their Lives (BKA Breath and Fire because they challenge and inspire me the way only hero/mentors can from a distance). Plus a bit better organization of site for research, publication, and community. Today I'll be updating BJ's listing adding Noel Vera's Critic After Dark (whose work I'd love to get into more, but it's really hard to get a sense of context in a town where indie films are considered a bit... foreign...and I can't attend the screenings he attends/promotes) and Cristina Querrer who I met by accident at HoverSpot (I had a shortlived blog there) and who's artistry melds the kind of layeredness I try to put into my own work.

*Research. I love researching projects, almost as much as I love writing them up. Research on Slavery in the Philippines. HipHop Dance. Indigenous Trees. Chinook Wawa. Bataan. More Filipino Myths and Tales.

******************

So Life.

Yeah, that's what I've been up to recently. This has been a nice little rest stop before I start the next leg of my journey.

I'll try to update one more time before NaNo, but in case I'm not here, I'll be letting my hair loose with Maganda's Comb

10/04/2006

QOTDs

For every privilege there is an equal and opposite oppression.

...also...

It is my responsibility to honor all by expressing
who I am in the context of community. My self expression has
most constructively been expressed through my heritage of music
and spoken word. Self expression in community is not selfish.
In fact, self expression in community identifies who we the people
are.


both - Swil Kanim

9/29/2006

Overhaul

With the rounding of September in which Many Things Were Done But Little Was Blogged About, I've overhauled this blog's sidebar, updating old links and adding a few...er... several new links. Let me know if you notice any bad links/missing links.

I'm still absorbing White Love and Other Events in Filipino History by Vincente L. Rafael, the aftereffect being that I've been seeing everything semiologically and from a sense of construction/technology...

The act of creating new sidebar classifications while drawing together into one space several diverse interests has been... ironizing.

More on Rafael's work soon...

9/20/2006

The Way I See It #135

Wrangling fear is the biggest challenge the world faces now and the challenge we all face, now and again, at our crossroads, in the dark moments, at those times when we know deep down that we must revolutionize our own lives.

-- Holly Morris, author of Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine

--from my Starbucks decaf grande extra hot mocha today

9/03/2006

Role Playing

I've hit the portion of the Marshall Plan that's basically character creation.

*chuckle* It's like I'm back playing Traveller again.

Only this time there's an Internet and I can go here to find almost every kind of character and plot building sheet out there without having to invest in a book or set.

It's entirely too much fun.

And I can also find names pretty easily - although choosing a name for my lead is an interesting process. I know she was born around 1986 in the US - I had originally thought to name her a popular name from the Philippines but then realized if she's US born, likely she'd have an American name. Interestingly, the Social Security Adminitration keeps stats of names by year all the way back to 1879. Then I realized I had to make a decision - is she a 'full' blood pinay?

I need to give her a sense of detachment/ambivalence from her heritage at the beginning. My experience is likely skewed since most of the pin@y writers I have met of that age group are writers and activists, but it seems that 1.5 gen pin@ys are /really/ conscious of their heritage and still connect heavily with family and politics back in the Philippines. And I'm not certain I could carry 1.5 gen character fully as lead through the length of a novel.

She could, though, be hapa, half and half, but I am a little loathe to do the classic "half-breed" issues that often come up in lit - the cliche'd-ness of it - is she white, is she pinay? does she care? Race is an important factor, but I don't want it to overshadow the novel either. It's more about an internal cultural struggle...

Which makes it all the more "autobigraphical"...something I both recognize but want to tweak. She's not me, because she won't have the same experiences (duh, I've never actually gone up against a released ancient spirit before with only an old comb and my wits).

Me? Overthink much? derned grad school anyway...*wink*

So, I'll stick with full blood, second gen pinay.

Okay, so in classic RPG style, I have the list of top 100 names from 1986 and two D-10s. I rolled a 39. Lindsay. Ummm... I'll have to think about /that/.

9/02/2006

Beginnings

In my Urban Fantasy novel, a twenties something college student witnesses a murder and is pursued by the previously trapped spirit of a Spanish slaver sent by a murdering and ancient local mondo spirit bent on possessing her power and her totem. As a result, my lead decides to find out more about the being pursuing her and the magic involved, in the hopes of stopping the being from killing again. Along the way she learns about her heritage, the existence of local and immigrant magics, a whole new cosmology, and her own innate power.

So begin the notes for the Novel Project to be written during NaNoWriMo 2006.

Posting began today - I had hoped to start yesterday, but I came down with a touch of food poisoning that made sitting at the computer...uncomfortable *chagrin*.

For now the blog is pretty closed, but I'm considering the possiblity of opening it as my first affiliates blog with advertising. We'll see how much time I can put to doing that.

In the meantime, if you're interested in the book I'm using to help with this drafting process check out The Marshall Plan Workbook. Is it equivalent to painting by the numbers for novel writing? Sure, but for me, at this juncture of my writing practice, it's working and that's really what matters right now.

9/01/2006

Manong Memoir

Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American by Peter Jamero

"I may have been like other boys, but there was a major difference - my family included 80 to 100 single young men residing in a Filipino farm-labor camp. It was as a 'campo' boy that I first learned of my ancestral roots and the sometimes tortuous path that Filipinos took in sailing halfway around the world to the promise that was America. It was as a campo boy that I first learned the values of family, community, hard work, and education. As a campo boy, I also began to see the two faces of America, a place where Filipinos were at once welcomed and excluded, were considered equal and were discriminated against. It was a place where the values of fairness and freedom often fell short when Filipinos put them to the test." - Peter Jamero

A peek at the table of contents shows contributions by Dorothy and Fred Cordova of the Filipino American Natioal Historical Society and fictionist-poet Peter Bacho.

If your in S.Cal, he'll be giving a reading this month:

Filipino American National Historical Society - Los Angeles Chapter
(FANHS-LA), Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), UCLA Asian
American Studies Center, Filipino American Library (FAL), and Asian
Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON) invite you to a free
presentation and book signing of…

Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American
by author Peter Jamero

Sunday, September 17
2:00 – 4:00 pm
SIPA's Temple Gateway Youth & Community Center
3200 W. Temple St.
Historic Filipinotown
Los Angeles, CA 90026-4522
(Parking is available on Dillon and Robinson Streets. No parking is
allowed in SIPA's parking lot.)

*** Please RSVP with your name, email and, phone number to
lafanhs@fanhsla. org or 310/ 825-1006 (Meg at UCLA). ***

Also...

White Grizzly Bear's Legacy: Learning to Be Indian by Lawney L. Reyes

"I walked across the highway and stood on the bank overlooking Lake Roosevelt. My attention was directed to the area where Kettle Falls once flowed. As I stood there the wind came. As I listened I imagined that it talked to me. It seemed that it was telling me of how things once were. I began to think of friends and relatives who were no longer living. They began to appear before me, perched on the large rocks, fishing for the great salmon."

In his distinctive voice, Lawney Reyes, grandson of Pic Ah Kelowna or White Grizzly Bear of the Sin Aikst, relates the history of his family and his people.

I met Lawney at Pagdiriwang last June and found that he was an almost apologetic IndoPino, shyly relating his Filipino heritage to us as something rarely talked about in his family, yet always present. His work is not so much "manong memoir" as telling one more facet of the FilAm experience during a time nearly forgotten in cultural memory due to the different immigration waves.

Books. Books. Books!

8/29/2006

Grocery Shopping with Lola

One of my favorite times of the year is harvest time, and thankfully in our region of the world we harvest from early summer to late fall – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peas, corn, beans, sunflowers, lavender flowers, tulips and dahlias, herbs of all sorts, all the way to bright orange pumpkins, green zucchini, and apples – oh the apples.

Eating local is eating abundance, not just of fruits and vegetables, but salmon, crab, trout, and squid, and seasoning everything in rosemary and sage.

In the summertime, my family would stroll through the Public Market in Seattle between isles of every kind of fruit and vegetable that could be trucked in overnight. The colors were vivacious and the vendors as colorful as their wares. We always stopped to talk with the flower vendors from Black Diamond who wound statice and daisies into quick bouquets. Sometimes my grandmother, my Lola would come with us, bargaining for the best price for garlic and ginger.

“Kumusta Ka?” she’d say. “How are you? Mabute, mabute. Fine fine. Makano ng…How much is…”

Sometimes she’d turn to me…

Ayah see this? This garlic too small. (sniff) Not fresh.

She’d eye the seller who would protest that it was the best garlic in the valley.

My Lola would frown and look at the seller suspiciously, then a twinkle would touch her eyes as she asked for twice as much for half as much money. The seller would laugh and say:

“Ay Naku! Not enough. But look, look at these beans. Just picked yesterday.”

My grandmother would peer close. “Yesterday? Not very fresh then.” She’d look up at the seller and ask “Where are you from?”

Filipinos, you see, always ask that question. “Where are you from?” (gesture to the crowd) “Where are you from?” Me, I’m from Seattle, but my Lola would say “Pangasinan.”

And maybe the seller would say. “I am from Zamabales.” Or “Manila ako.” And my grandmother would purse her lips and nod. The seller might go on to say “But I have a cousin in law who is from La Union.”

“Ay! La Union!” my Lola would exclaim. “I am from La Union.” And she would chatter quickly in her dialect so fast I wouldn’t be able to follow them. They would laugh and tease. The seller would offer new foods, and my Lola would bargain, until finally, my grandmother would get her discount, but come away with more vegetables and fruits than she had intended.

“Ay naku,” she would say to me. “My child, things are easier now than before, when I first came to America. You have so many different kinds of foods! But back then…You know, your grandpa was in the Army and he wanted us all to be here with him, so we came; your mom and five sisters. Six girls! All girls! No boys! (wave dismissively). And we lived in the housing projects down near Beacon Hill cause your grandpa, your Lolo, he didn’t want to stay on base any more. So there we were in the housing, so small, not like back home. And I didn’t have as much help here, ne? All the girls were in school so I did it all. But it was hard see, because the food was different here.

“The BX, you know, the base exchange where we buy groceries, they had nothing! Walang pancit. Walang calamansit. Not even guava. How can I make good food without those things? Rice. I could find rice. And garlic. And ginger. And a little fish, but not the same fish as back home. And chicken. That was good. I could make a little tinola, you know, chicken soup? But no sitaw, no long beans! But then I find there is this other bean here, Italian Bean. Its thick and flat, and I think oh let’s try it, so I chop it up and put it with the rest. Your Lolo tastes it. Ah he is happy. He’s not eating at the Mess Hall! He says it tastes like home.

“So I look some more. We have little calamansit back home, little limes, sweet and tart, neh? But not here in America – only lemons, yellow lemons, but they’re not too bad. So I use them. No guava, though, to make the soup thick. And still, I can’t find pancit at the BX! So I ask my comadre, my friend Auntie Dora where she gets her noodles, her pancit and she tells me Chinatown. So I take the bus to Jackson street and I find all these people! Chinese, Japanese, Filipino! All there! And restaurants too. It’s the same now, but before you know, less cars…still crowded and I find this store run by a Chinese Filipino family and they have pancit! The wheat kind, all yellow and dry, and the clear kind to put in soups. And they have eggplant and okra and dried shrimp and ampalaya, you know, bitter melon and patis, yung a Fish Sauce for pinakbet, you know vegetables all together? And even bagoong in tubes like tooth paste. I don’t have to make it myself. What? What’s that face you have? You don’t like fermented fish? All pink and soft? But it’s so good! So salty! What else would you put on your vegetables? Ay naku you are so spoiled you don’t know good food.

So I go back there every week so I can have the right foods for your mom and aunties when they’re done with school. The older ones come down from the Universities and the younger ones help me in the kitchen. And we make the food together. Sometimes Auntie Dora would come over or Auntie Fe and we would make lumpia. You like lumpia right? First I make the wrappers, you know a little rice flour and water and I brush it on a hot pan and then (flick) it’s done. Next one. Over and over. And maybe your mom is at the stove cooking the hamburger and the beans and the onions all together with the carrots and maybe potatoes. Then we let that cool and talk, always talk about who we saw down at the BX or in Chinatown, and who’s getting married and who’s having babies and who’s crying to be back home. And we all sigh a bit, thinking about that, but then it’s time to wrap the lumpia. You put a little filling on the wrapper and fold it up.

You know I met a Mexican lady once at church who told me lumpia was like a…a burrito. Yah, all rolled up tight around meat and fried. Always make a lot of lumpia because it tastes so good, all hot from the pan. And make your suka, mmm? Sauce? You know, some garlic and soy sauce and maybe patis. What, you don’t like fish sauce either? Ay naku. You know, they have good fish here. Salmon. Halibut. Trout. Smelt. Good fish. Different than home, but still, I make a sinigang, you know a good fish soup with bok choy and tomatoes and onion, and the salmon tastes so good. But you know, these American’s are so funny, they chop off the heads! The best part! So when we first came here and we were so poor, we would get those fish heads free at the market – they were just going to throw them away! And we would cook them up in a soup. You know those fish cheeks are so good, so tender.

You have to be careful, you know, not to waste food. Not to buy too much that you can’t eat it all, but make sure you have enough for your friends too who come to visit. Use everything you can find and if you can’t find what you want (shrug) then change the recipe a bit. My brother came from the Philippines to visit after we’d been here awhile and I made him his favorite dish with halibut instead of milkfish. He was so suspicious! He didn’t know what to think! Then he tried it. He said it tasted better than back home. So you see, it’s good to be here, even if it’s all different. Cause when you cook from your heart, your family will thrive no matter where you live.

************

Word Count: 1,300
Time: 50 minutes (stopped early because I reached the end of the story)

I wrote this one offline as an experiment. I find that the area Blogger gives for text creation a little narrow and I was making paragraphs shorter based on this.

This piece was also the first time I tried to include a little stage direction into the draft as reminders of when to gesture or pause during a performance. I need to go back in an extend some of the sections to build up more a sense of my grandmother's cosmology, of how she thought the world worked and how that changed/stayed the same.

Writing in a way that tries to emulate a dialect is tricky and I do worry about portraying her as a boondocks hick. More humor and more emphasis on where her heart space was will help aleviate this I think.

Next time I'll try to use the remaining time to add more details rather than stopping.

Not a bad session though, considering that I'm pretty tired and really wanted to play more on my new game. I used to play an earlier version on my old Mac Plus (state of the art at the time!) and I loved it, so I bought a copy with my birthday money.

So, goal met for the day...I'm off to plunder some English merchantmen!

8/28/2006

Gift of Plums

When summer days begin to wane toward Fall, it's hard to stay indoors. The sun's still warm, but the breezes begin to chill, lifting my hair with each gust. For the most part, I spend my life in front of the computer, rarely raising my head to look out the window and see the shift from deep green to golds. Ever had those kinds of days? Where you just forget the world, then all of a sudden you just stop and look, really look around, and you blink a bit, because it's bright and colorful, not hemmed in by software templates and pop-up reminders.

Then it's like learning to walk again, to stop moving so fast, to forget a destination, but to just /walk/ around, /seeing/ things. The grass brown from the lack of rain. The whisp of clouds on a sky too blue to be called blue. Maybe something fancier like Azure or Periwinkle or Cerulean. Because it's big, the sky, and for the first time again you see how it reaches from horizon to horizon, disappearing behind the rocky white Mount Baker peak to the rolling greeness of Lummi Island. Then maybe you'd notice the trees and how they shimmer in the wind, not quite ready to let their leaves go, but they're only holding on a bit longer and you know that soon the maples and oaks and birches will be shedding golden treasures at your feet.

It must have been that way for my dad those Sunday afternoons when he would turn our big blue Coronet 500 sedan out the church parking lot in the opposite direction of home. He and mom in the front in their shiny leather bucket seats, and me in the back, the seat all to myself. I was probably nine or so and if I stretched out and laid down on the seat, my head and feet would never touch the door, the seat was so wide. Dad would have the oldies station on the radio singing Elvis songs and Johnny Cash songs and Debbie Reynolds. Frank Sinatra was my favorite, with his smooth voice and jazzy tunes. Old Thumper as we called my dad's car didn't have air conditioning, so we'd roll down the windows and let the air billow in. Warm air that didn't so much cool, but moved the air around and made you feel a little bit better than the closeness of a car shut from the world.

When we hit the corner of Old 99 and 320th Dad would tap his wedding band on his left hand in counter point to the rhythm he tapped with his class ring on his right hand, and we'd wait for the light to change from red to green. I'd try to guess our destination from where he steered the car next - east meant Auburn and the search for fresh fruits and vegetables at old truck farms that dotted the valley. South meant visiting cousins in Tacoma while North usually meant visiting my mother's parent's in Seattle. Any direction, though, meant a long ride by my nine-year-old reckoning and I'd lay myself down on the seat and doze, listening to my parent's conversation weave in and out of songs on the radio.

It was a strange combination to fall asleep by - my parents speak Tagalog, a language I never learned except to know when I was in trouble, and it rose and fell around and through the strains of Strangers in Paradise and How Much is that Doggie in the Window. As I drifted to sleep their voices would mix with the drone of tires on pavement, turn hollow and distant, then melt into dreams of yellows and pinks and greens. Often I'd wake in time to hear my dad shut off the engine and the world would look blue to me, the brightness of waking up too much for me at first, and I'd blink as I sat up, peering up and out the window at the concrete steps leading to my grandparent's house.

Sometimes though I'd find us in front of a different house, a low slung craftsman with a simple porch and picture window facing the street. I'd get quieter inside myself, cautious in unfamiliar surroundings. My parents on the other hand would be excited and smiling, knocking carefully at the door, then opening it if it was unlocked. I'd follow them into a small foyer, then through the dining room of the darkened house. Like a closed up car, the room would feel hot and close, the dark wood furniture and the scent of mothballs giving the space an unlived-in feel. Then the voices would rise and fall again as my parents exchanged greetings with the owners of the house. I'd hear "Auntie Dora" and "How big you are!" and "Are you hungry?" and I my caution would turn to a feeling of boredom as I realized there were no other children in this house and it would be adults talking over and around me in a language I didn't speak.

But as dark as the house was inside, the terraced back yard would always be bright and sunny. A small kitchen garden was grown on the first level nearest the kitchen - peas and corn, tomatoes and squash, spinach and bok choy. Then down the next terrace were the trees, three plum trees and one apple tree, each bursting with fruit. Actually they weren't plum trees but Italian prune trees, which always confused me a bit because to my mind prunes were those oversized wrinkly raisins my mother complained about having to eat every so often because she felt "a bit stopped up." And come to think of it, Italian prunes...in the garden of a Filipino...so they were The Plums, oval and dusty purple, soft and sweet. Small too. I could eat one in two bites, being careful to avoid the seed for my mother's sake. When I got older, I would pop the entire plum in my mouth and chew carefully around the seed, before spitting it into my hand. And those plums... sweet, sun warmed, the juice filling my mouth and trickling down my throat. I couldn't get enough of them.

Uncle Sammy, Auntie Dora's husband would hand my father a white bucket and he'd trudge down the hill to fill it. They were better than candy to me or even cookies. You could get most candy and treats any old time from packages at the store, but these plums only came around once a year, and once the trees were done, you'd have to wait. So boredom behind me, I'd sit on a kitchen chair, feet dangling below as I ate plum after plum after purple sweet plum.

Years later after I had finished high school and gone off to college, I forgot about those plums. They were a distant memory that I compared all other plums to - the round ones were never quite the same in taste and texture - too tart, too smooth skinned, too cold from refrigerated grocery store cases. My life was defined by classes and dramatic relationships that never quite turned out the way I thought they should, especially when it came to my parents. Weeks would turn into months where we didn't speak to each other, the shift from a child-parent relationship to an adult-parent relationship too difficult to manage.

But the summer I married my husband my father calls and asks if we want some plums and even over the phone, I can tell he doesn't mean the round ones I'd seen at the store. I tell him I miss those oval shaped plums from when I was a kid, and he tells me that those aren't plums but Italian prunes and would I like some, he had a bumper crop. They're missing us, I can tell from the conversation and although it would make for a long weekend traveling the 300 miles that separated us, we make the trip and once again I'm sitting in the kitchen, feet dangling as I sit on a high bar stool, munching purple treasures, all sun warmed and sweet.

I learn then that Uncle Sammy and Auntie Dora were the ones who introduced my parents to each other. That Uncle Sammy had planted the trees at their house same as his buddy Uncle Fred. Mind you neither were actually uncles of either of my parents - Sammy was a cousin of my grandfathers and Fred was from his same hometown, but they were both old timers, school boys who'd come to the US when the Philippines was still a protectorate of the US. They'd made it good in America, and when my parents built their first house, they both came over with trees that had grown up around their own trees, children trees of cast off seeds, and planted them in my father's backyard. Neither lived to see the crop he offered us that year, but as I sat listening to their stories, I realized that growing things, Agriculture, is about hope for the future, of planting a small thing into good soil and hoping that it will grow up strong. It might be a something that grows quick and gives sustenance in one season, or it might be something that needs to grow and grow before it bears fruit.

A gardener never gives up on his plants, never gives up hope that something good will come of his hard work, the weeding, the watering, the pruning, the praying. Eating local means partaking of the hope of the land, the hope of your neighbors and friends, for a long life and long friendships.

When my husband and I bought our house in Sudden Valley my father brought over baby trees from his orchard, the second generation of Uncle Sammy's trees, and we all hope that one day our children will take the warm fruit from the tree in their hands, pop a purple treasure in their mouth and relish the sun and sweetness on their tongues.


**********

Word count: 1,681
Time: 1 hour

Better. Even better than better really, considering that tonight I felt more tired that I did yesterday, but as I wrote, I felt less tired. I tried to write looser tonight, more like I would perform the story. I still got a bit stilted so the voice it uneven, but I finished, got to the heart and found some spaces that will need more development if I decide to work it into a full memoir piece.

I'm grateful.

8/27/2006

Fighting Procrastination

This is the part of the writing process I hate the most - the cycle of procrastination, fear, and more procrastination. I'm in it, so I'm here trying to break it.

“I believe that the so-called “writing block” is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance ... one should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing ... I can imagine a person beginning to feel he’s not able to write up to that standard he imagines the world has set for him. But to me that’s surrealistic. The only standard I can rationally have is the standard I’m meeting right now ... You should be more willing to forgive yourself. It doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.”

— William Stafford, poet

**************

On Sunday afternoons after church in summer, my father would take us on long rides. He had no specific destination, at least not one he shared with my mother and I.

"Let's get lost," he would say as he headed out of the St. Vincent de Paul parking lot. Once he hit old 99 and 320th we could head south to Tacoma to visit cousins or north to Seattle to visit my grandparents, but we would most likely head east toward Auburn.

During the week he worked in an air conditioned office at Weyerhauser, comparing invoices to shipping receipts, keying database entries onto servers as big as refrigerators. He compared his days to his early ones at Werehauser when he was a keypunch operator, creating code on pieces of cardstock, stacking them neatly into a hopper, then pressing a button and hoping that his code didn't fail. He liked his routine during the week, but the steady predictability didn't appeal to him like being outside, driving with the windows open, and letting the breeze and sunshine fill him back up.

He was a traveller by nature, a son of a wanderer who left the family farm and took a job as a ferryman. His dad had moved from one island of the Philippines to another, settling in Mindoro and raising a family of 8 boys. My dad would later join the US Navy and find himself travelling the world, from pole to pole, across the Pacific and around the Horn, through Drake passage, until he too settled by the seashore, this time near Seattle.

Winding down Peasley canyon into the Auburn floodplain, I'd begin to wonder where we were headed. At the age of nine, I already had developed a need to know destinations and purposes, and usually by the time we crossed into the downtown area of Auburn I was asking "Where are we going?"

"We're getting lost," he'd reply.

"But are we /going/ someplace?" I'd insist.

My mother would turn to me from the front seat and murmur reassuringly "We're going to find some strawberries."

And this would appease me, as we wound our way through Auburn's back streets toward Black Diamond. Two story business buildings and low slung ramblers would give way to stretches of dairy land. Clustered metal silos would reach to sky anchored by outbuildings housing quiet harvesters. Rolls of drying alfalfa would dot the fields, green and gold. Dairy land would turn to fields of strawberries in early summer, low and green, the promise of juicy redness with every "U-Pick" sign we passed.

We never stopped at the first strawberry field we came across. "Too near the highway," my mother would declare. "Don't want to eat berries with exhaust all over them." We would wind down sideroads, over bridges covering rivulets that fed the Green River and cooled by willow trees. Still we wouldn't stop. "Too dusty," my mother would pronounce as we passed the wood and clapboard strawberry stand.

I suspect my mother was making excuses for how my father continued to drive without stopping because eventually she would murmur something in Tagalog and he would give a deep sigh, and click his tongue in irritation. Clicking the AM radio on to his favorite station, he would turn the car and find the highway again, then turn northward, taking the highway that paralleled the Green River.

In a section of the valley where the highway bent upwards again into the mountains, my father would steer the car down a narrow driveway toward a battered, two story white house overlooking a large truck farm. Rows of corn and beans bordered tomato plots and squash beds, while the wind rustled the deep green, tri-leaved strawberry plants. He'd park the car near the edge of the driveway and we'd walk a short distance to a small fruit stand.

I never knew her name, the old Filipina who manned the booth, but I remember her big smile and her excitement. The Tagalog would flow freely then, from my mother and father, to her and back again. I'd kick at dirtballs at the edge of the field crushing them into dust with my tennis shoes. I wanted to walk between the rows and start picking strawberries, but I felt my mother's eyes on me and never wandered far. Sometimes we would just get a few baskets of berries, other times we would take the time and fill a bucket ourselves.

Berries in the fields always startled me with their warmth and softness, accustomed as I was to eating refrigerated berries. My mother would scold my father when he sneaked a taste and warned me with a glance to not follow his example. "Germs," she'd say. "Wait until we can wash them." Their pungent sweetness was hard to resist without her stern warning, but resist I would, for I feared her anger more than anything.

Eventually, strawberries and tomatoes in hand, we would leave the farm and head back home, my father having confirmed when to come back for the sweetest corn he had ever tasted. "She married an American," my mother would sometimes comment as we drove away. "Puti" And I sensed that meant something sad and regrettable. Or she'd say "They never had children" and somehow the two were connected.

Other afternoons we would head to Seattle, and usually on those trips, I would doze in the backseat of the car, the sun and air making me sleepy even before we hit old 99. I'd awake to the color blue, my eyes adjusting to the brightness of the day, until I was awake enough to sit up and gaze out the window, to find that we hadn't stopped at my grandparents house, but an old craftsman with a narrow porch. Unlike my grandparents house which had large windows to let in the light, Auntie Dora's house was dark and close, shades drawn to keep the heat out.

Again the rise and fall of greetings in Tagalog, and stories to fill in the time since the last visit.

***********

Okee, that's an hour. Word count: 1,010

A start. Still feeling the procrastination on my shoulders because I didn't get to the heart of the story this session. The story of Auntie Dora's house was proving more difficult than the story of the Black Diamond farm - I couldn't access the details as easily.

This is a dual experiment - one: to see if I can prewrite a story for performance and two: to see what a NaNoWriMo session might look/feel like. I'm pretty brain dead after only an hour of writing, but 1000 words per session will make it difficult to make the 50k word count for the contest.

But still, a start. It's also an exercise in transparency, to show both my writing and my process, inspired by the success of Dean Alfar and Salamanca.

While this gakked from Neil Gaiman

"All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand—are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It's a total illusion. And the danger in the illusion is that you will wait for those moments. Such is the horror of having to face the typewriter that you will spend all your time waiting. I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart. The difference is the result of euphoria, alcohol, or imagination. The meaning is that one had better go to his or her typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. It will be much the same." --John Kenneth Galbraith

8/22/2006

The Oracles

Coming in October 2006 from Heyday Books...

The Oracles: My Filipino Grandparents in America
Pati Navalta Poblete

As a young girl growing up in California, Pati Poblete was amazed and dismayed to watch her Grandma Fausta washing clothes by hand when there were a washer and dryer in the house. Years later, Poblete began to understand how much she had needed her grandmother, a native Filipina, to bring her heritage to her door. Poblete is an award-winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

(Blurb from the Star Bulletin)

**********************************************

Not much more info than that out there; Google turned up a few other blurbs and one listing for a book reading in October.

Very exciting! A new FilAm memoir!

Thanks to the annonymous commenter on Ver's Blog for the tip.

House on Atlantic Street

Notes from our visit this weekend to Seattle to celebrate 6 birthdays this month.

My mother told me a story of when she first arrived in the US in 1955 - she was standing at the corner of Kress and Wolworths (she always navigates by stores not streets *wink*) and passed two oldtimers. They looked her over and although she's a lighter skinned Filipina, they dismissed her, saying in Tagalog "She's US born." She told me that many of the manongs she met in the US had gone back to the Philippines to find at least teachers to marry ("a girl who wasn't at least a teacher wasn't worth the trouble")

My mother said she almost said something in 'the dialect' in retort, but thought the better of it... All her life she wanted to live her father's dream of living in the US, to be an American, and there she was, caught between the image of what she wanted to be and the reality of who she was, and seeing perhaps, for the first time, what wanting to be Other had cost her.

***********

My aunts, cousins, and I cobble together memories and confirm that Lola made her own lumpia wrappers out of flour and water (likely wheat, not rice flour, though) just as I remembered, on a pan heated on a two burner stove sitting on a low table.

She made "krumkake" cookies on that table, although my cousins tell me she likely made pizelles instead, and may or may not have included anise in the batter. We think/hope my older cousin has her pizelle iron and she has made cookies on it for several years.

Apparently Lola learned how to make the cookies from Auntie Dora, who really wasn't an Aunt, but the wife of my grandfather's cousin (herself a fourth cousin and a teacher) who was an oldtimer, a school boy who later became a gardener. Auntie Dora had made the cookies (flat) for my aunts and they loved them so much, my Lola bought an iron and learned how to make them. She likely traded recipes and techniques with the Italian family (Yasulina's?) across the street. They were my favorite cookie as a child and I hope to have my own iron soon.

*************************

Auntie Dora (Teodora) and Uncle Sammy (Simeon) were the oldtimers who introduced my parents to each other back in '56. Dad and his Navy buddies, on liberty in Seattle while their ship was in drydock, met Uncle Fred (Primativo) while riding the Bremerton Ferry. Uncle Fred took the Four Aces, as they were nicknamed, under his wing, introducing them to his wife Auntie Puring (Purificacion - a pharmacist) and telling them of a birthday party for my Mom. Uncle Fred was also an oldtimer, former schoolboy, working as an elevator operator downtown.

Dad caught mom's attention because he was the one designated to carry in the bouquet of flowers to her from the group. Uncle Fred wanted my mom to pick Dad's friend Mike instead because Mike had the courage to change Uncle Fred's son's diapers when they visited. The four of them would often stay the weekend at Uncle Fred's house, helping with chores and being the family they left and missed back home. Dad corresponded with Mom for almost 5 years before she consented to marry him.

*****************

Uncle Fred and Uncle Sammy were the ones who brought the plum trees to my dad as a housewarming gift. They're the trees that we'll will pick from in a few weeks. They're the children of the trees both oldtimers had planted and tended in their own city orchards. And the children of my father's trees are trying to take root at my own house today.

******************

Remembering is about hope, remembering hope, connecting hope back through time and forward again, of saying yeah, it wasn't the easiest of times, yes, there was prejudice, and still is prejudice, but we still had hope, we still have hope, because we set down roots and we grew and our children grew, and our children are having children who are growing beneath our branches.

8/18/2006

Shout Out for All the Poets Out There

The Way I See It #134

When Einstein explained his theory of relativity, he couldn’t express it in the precise, scientific writing of physics. He had to use poetry. Poetry: the connection of words, images and the relationships that gives them meaning. Quantum physics changed the world. No longer can we view the world in separate, mechanical ways, but we must accept the reality of interconnection, unity and togetherness. Life is poetry.

-- David Seel
English teacher from Annapolis, Maryland.

8/17/2006

Hot Oil and Monsoon Rains

It's a memory that slowly unreels, edged with a sense of doubt of it's veracity.

Beginning with a simple need - wheatfree lumpia.

The filling isn't troublesome, since we discovered wheatfree tamari, but the commercial wrappers all read "flour" meaning likely "wheat."

Springroll wrappers could work but I am suspicious of their glossy sheerness and wonder if they would hold up in the hot oil.

The white edge of a wrapper curls away from the curve of a black bottom pan.

I search my cookbooks and my mother's memory for recipes to make lumpia wrappers. She is certain, as are the cookbooks, that the only wrappers that exist are the premade, wheatbased frozen ones in the red and white box "available at most Asian groceries."

The pan is heavy, hot and the wrapper takes only seconds to dry. Nearby on a piece of wax paper, a small stack of lacy edged wrappers. Cloud filtered sunlight fills the picture window above the table.

Consulting with the local lumpia-pin@y who meticulously rolls and sells the delights to other Filipinos at my church is at a loss. She's willing to try the springroll wrappers but she too is suspicious.

"There must be a way to make them," I say to her. "My lola made them. I remember." She shrugs saying she had always bought the wrappers, even when she lived in the Philippines. How far do time saving products go back in the process? Me, inept with wrapping look to her for the making of lumpia, and she relying on manufactured wrappers when gathering her ingredients.

A low table. A two burner stove. A stool. A white smock. Brown wrinkled hands. A paintbrush and bowl of batter. The rise and fall of a dialect I never learned, was never taught.

Finally a link on Google:

Recipe for Lumpia Wrappers

1 cup rice flour
1 cup water

Mix the flour and water together and blend well to form a smooth batter. Grease a clean griddle or frying pan very lightly. (The best way to do this is to use a piece of clean cloth or paper lightly moistened with oil and wipe the surface of the pan). Using a paint brush, paint batter thinly over the griddle or pan, working quickly. Remove the wrapper with a pan cake turner as batter dries.

I find another recipe requiring duck eggs and cornstarch which would likely make sturdier wrappers, but I'm convinced that the first recipe is the 'original.' Two simple ingredients, likely very cheap, perfect for the wife of a retired Sergeant living on pensions from the Army and the laundry she worked at briefly.

The memory becomes more solid with each step. I can see her bent over the stove now, one hand holding the bowl of batter, the other deftly brushing the batter over the surface of the crepe pan. I know it is a crepe pan because those are the only English words she speaks as she talks to her daughter about it. It's an expensive purchase, the first Teflon pan offered at the PX, but the wrappers cook without sticking. She sets the bowl and brush aside, grasps the edge of the wrapper with her thumb and finger and with a flick of her wrist, lifts the wrapper off the pan and flicks it deftly onto the stack of other wrappers on the dining table.

The process is long and tedious, and my memory slips into imagination - perhaps she got tired of making the wrappers by hand, perhaps her daughters, wishing to save their mother the work, bring her the boxed and frozen wrappers one day and she never goes back to the hot pan on the two burner stove. Perhaps it's a matter of pride that she could buy the wrappers premade, a sign that she has arrived in the US and that she can provide the food she loves to the people she loves quicker, easier.

But here I am, 17 years after her death, combing my memory for her early recipe, the one that will spare the one I love from a severe celiac reaction. Hoping that it is enough of a memory to make a comfort food for him in a way she took for granted. The crispness, the sizzling heat, the saltiness, and homey-ness. All those things, plus the sunlight through her kitchen window and the memory of monsoon rain, wrapped tightly in a starcy embrace.

8/14/2006

Monday Blues

Two Christmas's ago L asked for a small mammal-type creature on her wishlist. After consulting with various experts who nixed hamsters (nocturnal biters) and guniea pigs (disease prone prima donnas), we purchased a white rat she named Ruby and all the trimmings necessary for Ruby's domicile. About three weeks later it was apparent that Ruby needed a companion, so I found a fancy rat at PetCo and dubbed her Wyni.

We had great plans to train them to do various tricks but between school, work, scouts, and writing, we were doing well to just keep them fed and clean. Two months ago, Ruby developed a tumor on her rump and although she was a trooper about it, died about a month later. Wyni was inconsolable; all through Ruby's life and especially toward the end, Wyni took care of Ruby, bringing her food, grooming her, and snuggling while Ruby slept. I never knew rats could cry - not tears mind you, but tiny wails over and over again. She'd curl up next to a wood toy Ruby favored toward the end of her life and shiver there. Then she stopped eating and drinking.

We tried to cheer her with cuddles when she cried, but being alone was too much for Wyni. I found her dead this morning, before the girls were really awake, then I had to prep myself to tell them they had lost another pet. L wept and managed to remark "She died sad." I had no words for that, because I know L was right. Wyni died of a broken heart. And to die sad is nothing we wish for any creature. To die peaceful. To die happy. To die contented. These we hope for, but there is no telling how each passing happens. We might die angry, surprised, regretful, but to simply die sad is well, a sad sad thing.

8/10/2006

Well of Creativity

Richard Bach once wrote about how if you argue your limitations, then they're yours, but I'm realizing that as I grow older (or actually, according to my mother, a carabao in the Philippines gets older for me, but that's another story) I have to recognize that time, space, and money being what they are (limited) there's only so much I can do with what I've got.

What /is/ she blathering on about?

Basically that I've discovered I have enough creativity at any given moment that I can either a) work on the Harry Potter themed birthday party scheduled for the Number 1 Daughter next week; b) work on the novel-in-progress; c) develop the 4-5 tellable stories that I'll perform on September 13th.

All are worthy projects, all demand my attention and full creativity.

But I only got one bucket take to the creativity well and draw inspiration. So ima thinkin' Harry Potter first, then stories, then novel.

That only makes sense, though, if that's how my brain worked.

The other thing I've discovered is opening up the creativity for one project inevitably leaks creativity into the other projects. So I'll be happily figuring out the rules to Muggle Style Quidditch Trivia when I'm struck with the image of my grandmother lamenting the lack of long beans in Seattle during the '70s, which invariably makes me wonder how I can render Lola as a character in the novel, and then all of a sudden I realize, I've lost the train of thought that explained the circumstances in which the Bludger can steal the Quaffle from the Chaser. Or how to simulate a race between two Seekers after the release of the Snitch when we don't have brooms to fly around with?

Makes for crazy, but that's why God created sticky notes...

8/09/2006

Hot Chicks

Hot chicks Barb, Joanne, Gladys, Fritzie, and Dianna are getting down and deep into new Black Eyed Peas vids for "Bebot"

Gotta say it's a tough go, though, seein' on the one hand the limited presentations of pinays, stereotyping of men and women in the hiphop scene, and the politics of race priviledge splashed on a backdrop of Stockton pinoy history, while on the other giving props to the Little Manila Movement and highlighting the historic invisibility of pinoys.

Hearin' on the documentary about what Little Manila is all about, though, was also mixed for me. Glad to hear 'the young ones' comin' out to save what's left of those six blocks between old China and Japan-town, but it rocked my world to hear plans for the FAHNS museum there.

Mom used to tell me stories about crazy Fred Cordova, the history major, she called him, with that drop of disdain reserved for all non-medical types. She related how her classmates at the UW and in the Seattle area thought he had chosen a dead-end career. He was a kid from one of the pensionado families, old timers, not the post-WWII crowd. Hardly spoke a word of Tagalog, didn't know 'the ways.'

But he and his wife Dorothy started FAHNS back in 1982, when those old timers had started to die off, the manongs who survived the I-5 fly before there was an I-5, cutting back and forth from Washington to California and back, following the crops. The ones who worked the canneries from Seattle, up the coast of Washington and into Alaska. The ones who came after the Sakadas of Hawaii. They gathered up every photo, every story, every academic paper on Filipinos and FilAms they could, cataloging each carefully and organizing events to keep the study and research of FilAm history alive.

See that's the thing that's sticking in my brain tonight, even after seeing the vids. I guess I expect music vids to be short sighted, genre'd, specific to an audience. I don't expect as much because I know they're often that devil's bargain between art and marketing. The Bebot documentary, though, managed to render FilAm history into one narrow view, one singular narrative which, in spotlighting one group's experience and struggle to preserve historic landmarks, cast into shadow so many other experiences in Seattle, Chicago, Honolulu, Lousiana, Juneau, and other cities/states.

When Fred and Dorothy put their video together Filipino Americans: Discovering Their Past for the Future they were very careful to include all FilAm experience across the US. Their legacy is one of a larger Filipino community in the US, not just the FilAm community in California.

I agree a FilAm museum is long in coming, but let's not forget that there is already a trove of knowledge and experience housed in Seattle and in need of attention and preservation.

8/01/2006

Persed Lips

Oliver suggests images for a poem. A good list. Challenging. But one word simply didn't make sense to me.

Perse

So off I Google'd, and found this treasure

*rubs hands in glee* Didja see all the purty words there, just aching to appear in a poem? And the list on the side bar of all sorts of other lists of equally enchanting words?

Oh...the poem you ask?

Turnout

Smooth silk sleek, Pleiades perse
wends Whitebird's trail past smoky sage.

No combine green or harvester sparked
wildfire to slow our traverse riverward.

We dart past gravel tracks tilted skyward;
graveyards for truckers out of luck.

"Twelve for the twelve apostles" haunts
like Brian's russet curls never did.

Magpies strut on barbed wire fences
while kestrels shed cloudy pinfeathers.

Broken ramparts of ancient basalt castles
keep sentinel at Salmon River breaks.

Easing beneath gold willow branches,
tires whisper against horsetail tendrils.

My seven star chariot rests, while
her engine pings a dwindling song.

I have run out of asphalt ribbon to weave
a mourning shawl to dance beneath.

7/20/2006

Our Untheoretical Self

I like these quotes:

"Thou shalt not be constructed." – Agnes N. Miclat-Cacayan

"Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self." - Brenda Ueland

"Our theoretical self often interferes with our real self."- Anne Wilson Schaef

Lack of construction eliminates the need for deconstruction. And I’d argue we’re talking /external/ construction, the perceptions the dominant Other. However, I acknowledge that we are a product of multiple construction, therefore require deconstruction, and self-reconstruction to make that discovery of that true, untheoretical Self.

7/18/2006

Gratitude

I thank You God for most this amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes. -- e.e. cummings

Gratitude is such a conscious act, to recognize a moment of pure grace in its own shape, whether the smile on a child's face, a tree waving gently on the wind, or a chance meeting between friends long since parted.

I can be miserly with my gratitude, as if there is only a small portion available to me, yet when I am grateful, I find that more things come to my attention to be grateful for, small things, midsize miracles, large, life changing moments. I am thankful for relative good health, a good job, two eyes that can see clearly (with glasses), and a loving family. For a God who loves me and who grants me each moment opportunities to practice love. Because love is a practice, like gratitude.

Mostly today, I am grateful for poets who dare to dream of spaces so ubitquitous yet unnoticed, for their ability to bring into sharp focus what we easily slide past. For marking down grace with words layered in meaning and rooted in experience.

There's the realm of infinite Yes which they bring to us on silvered words.

7/08/2006

Even One Small Change Makes a Difference

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Mother Teresa

7/06/2006

Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason

Bill Moyers's new seven-part series, "Faith & Reason," airs Fridays, starting June 23, on PBS. Authors include Mary Gordon, Salman Rushdie, and Jeanette Winterson.

Q: Why did you decide to just interview writers, rather than speaking to theologians, pastors, etc.?

BM: I was looking for a fresh take. There's a spasm of fundamentalism in the world right now, and fundamentalism is at war with the imagination, at war with creativity, at war with freedom, especially freedom of the mind. And more often than not, the people who feel the weight of that war are writers, and [it is] writers who are exploring deep issues of faith and reason through language. Language gives them the capacity for nuance that you don't have in fundamentalist dogma or creeds or doctrines of any organized religion.


"If you watch the mainstream media in this country, you would not know that there was something called mainline Protestantism. You wouldn't know that there are Catholics who are independent and have remained in the church, even though they are at odds with the church...

"It's inevitable that you will bring your beliefs into the political struggles of our time, but it is essential to realize that your theology, your beliefs about God, cannot be enshrined in legislation or in policies of the state." – Bill Moyers

my name

Now appearing on Haruah: Breath of Heaven

my name

strung on hyphens like rosary beads
my given name, my saints name, my father’s name
my mother’s name, her mother’s name erased


The final in a trio of poems all nurtured by the mentorship of Barbara Jane and encouragement of Chie. My deepest gratitude to both.

Dancing

Somewhere I remember..."dancing on a blade's edge will end with bloodied feet" or some such...sort of like "skating on thin ice" but more dire, since the portended death is slower and likely more painful.

It might appear, then, that my comment to Ver here might be blade dancing of a sort, my integrity bleeding slowly away...

Or perhaps I'm simply feeling /dramatic/ today.

I'd rather think, then, that it's more a matter of unveiling. Layers. Layers of spirituality. The cloak and measure appear to be of one thing, but if one looks closely, it is a patchwork. Each square a doorway into a series of experiences usually unseen in the perceived shape.

We are each built of stories, never ending linkages, many our own making, but all inextricably entwined by the heritage of the body, the mind, the spirit, the emotion to where we are now and where we hope to go.

To look in a mirror darkly could be acknowledgement that we perceive ourselves only as shadows. Or it could be a hint of scrying for inner knowledge of layered experiences and existences.

We may look to the roots for nourishment, but we also reach to the skies with leaves which transform light and air into growth. Let's not uproot in favor of the leaves, nor diminish the leaves in favor of the rootedness. Let us be whole, vibrating, and dancing beyond the binaries of the axeblade.

6/30/2006

Heritage Month

June will likely become Heritage Month in our house from now on. Just glancing at my June calendar we attended the annual Scottish Fest the first weekend, then the Annual Filipino Fest (Pagdiriwang) the following weekend, plus Hands Across the Border, a US-Canada Scouting event. Then we missed, but would like to attend next year, the Lummi Stommish Water Festival which usually starts the weekend of Father's Day. It'll be tricky, but I'd love to have the gals go to a powwow of sorts finally.

I've had a couple of interesting conversations with friends lately who don't feel particularly drawn toward knowing more about their heritage or the heritage of where they live. Actually, 'conversation' is likely a stretch, more of a blank look and a slight shake of the head to say "sorry, but I don't get why this heritage stuff is important to you." And I blink and bite back "how could you /not/ want to know what you're connected to?"

What we find changes who we become. -randomness from the 'net

Change is a scary thing for those unfamiliar with those sorts of adventures, especially when it comes to a person's perception of identity, I suppose, but for the Hubby and I, it's part of being alive. Painful sometimes, but oh so rewarding in so many other ways. Our gals have trouble with change, but they're young still and thankfully possessing a curiosity about life that seems to get them through the worst of it. It seems that our job is to mostly keep them safe while they explore and to be as joyous as possible in our own shifts and changes.

So here's a toast to Heritage Month. Our thanks to all for the new stories.

6/28/2006

QOTD

A deep and genuine concern for other people will remind us that the discovery of truth is not to be a victory for some and a defeat for others. Unless all can claim a share in that victory, truth itself will continue to be rejected by the losers, because it will be regarded as inseparable from the yoke of defeat. -- Leonard Foley

It's a problematic quote, I realize, because of its singular view of truth, but I like this idea that truth is a separate thing from victory and defeat, that victory does not mean truth any more than defeat means truth.

Belief and faith just are, those parts of the human experience that impels us beyond the simple arithmetic of winning or losing.

We watched Serenity last night and I was struck by how Joss wove the importance of believing into the plot. Shepherd tells Mal that it's not so much what you believe in, as that you believe at all. “Only one thing is gonna walk you through this, Mal. Belief,” he says.

I think The Operative 'let' the Serenity crew go because Mal showed him that their convictions were not really that far apart, that the Operative had in a sense been used because of his belief in a better world, in order to let chaos go unchecked. I really appreciate that Joss puts in a sense of grudging respect between the two, one held tenuous because they both know that their beliefs might lead them on opposite sides of the battlefield again.

The movie still breaks my heart, though, and we had to skip one particular part to make it manageable. I love the story, though, the characters and mostly the story about Firefly's resurrection - strength of community shown at its best.

6/24/2006

QOTD

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

6/21/2006

Because Sometimes I Write Poetry Before I Fall Asleep

The Night Sink

Drip.
Drip. Drop.
Drop. Drip. Drip.

Drop,
drop. Drip,
drip. Drop, drop.

Drippity,
droppity, droppity,
drippity, droppity, splat!

Grumble.
Tap. Tap.
Jiggle. Grumble. Tap!

(...)
(...)(...)
(...) Drip. (...)

Drop.
Drip. Drop.
Drippity. Droppity. Splat!

6/20/2006

Vain Attempts at Practicality

Margaret writes:

Asian parents do not want to let their kids become rock stars, because the future is uncertain. But isn't everyone's? We all live in uncertainty, we don't even know where our next breath is coming from. Why bother with vain attempts at practicality?

Still, it is hard to argue with the overwhelming finality of an immigrant parent's resolve. There is something about their unwavering stance that makes us want to abandon our dreams rather than oppose them. We look at white kids with guarded jealousy, because we assume they are "free to be you and me" while we toil under the blazing hot sun of expectation. As we offer up our lives to guilt rather than satisfaction, our Asian American mouths are filled with bitterness, which slowly sets and hardens into regret, as we remain another generation invisible outside the worlds of medicine, money and computers.


Choosing to make art is a kind of soul-retrieval, of recognizing the ossified Self as illusion, payment for family harmony, yet as unreal as any gollum or changeling can be (with all due respect, of course, to Gollums and Changelings who are altogether different than the thing of which I speak). Perhaps that is why it feels so familiar yet such a strain to make art, be Art. The bilocation of the spirit, the Soul Walk, drummed from instinct rather than from within the safety of an elder's circle, spins the mind and upturns emotion. Are we outside ourselves trying to get back in or outside looking for our Self?

The process of compromise is shrinking, the replacement of flesh with stone deposited with good intentions - the preservation of something precious. Like Box in Logan's Run who no longer preserves fish and sea plants, but people trying to escape the City, to find Sanctuary. Their drive to be free is sacred and in a misconception of the Sacred, Box represents the drive to preserve that sacredness in the stillness of ice, effectively killing it and undoing the purpose of holding things sacred.

Growing, moving beyond the preserving acts of our parents is at once disloyal and affirming of their own hope for a better life. It is acknowledgement that the world is not safe and defiance in the face of uncertainty. This is why Art is a Sacred thing, for it touches on a mystery beyond our social structures, links us with That Which Is, Was, and Will Be after all the things we humans make are gone. Our tiny kingdoms with which we gamble our lives and the lives of others are by no means insignificant, but they are limited. And it is in the space of Limitlessness where Art exists, where our True-ness thrives.

It is Grace. It is Love. And Art our dance with It.

6/19/2006

Now Appearing

The Sea Has Wings is now appearing on Haruah and is beautifully illustrated by photographer Jan Cornelis Loenen, Chie's husband.

I am grateful to Barbara for her mentorship on the poem and Chie for her constant support.

Also, deep thanks to St. Jude for prayers answered and Ernesto for the 'unique' idea (*wink*).

6/13/2006

QOTD

Be an earth angel, and look for love behind the actions of everyone you meet today. Whenever you look for love, you will always find it.

-Doreen Virtue

6/12/2006

Words Expressed - Pagdiriwang 2006



When Oliver mentioned that he would be attending the Pagidiriwang Fest in Seattle, of course I beat feet down to the Center House to check things out.









Coordinators Maria Batayola and Robert Francis Flor put together an impressive lineup of writers:




From the left - Toni Bajado, Lawney Reyes, Peter Bacho, Rick Barot, and Maria Batayola.

I was late arriving to the event owing, not so much to Pinoy time (which was surprisingly absent - the entire event was scheduled for 10:30 am and /it started at 10:30 am/. I was totally thrown off!), but to being unable to navigate the upper rooms of the Center House. I wandered the halls looking for Conference Room B for about 15 minutes until I finally arrived halfway through Toni Bajado's reading. Still flustered from being lost and late, I unfortunately do not remember her writing so much as the quality of her voice, gentle and insistent.

I'm hoping to find a copy of Lawney Reyes' White Grizzly Bear's Legacy. Lonnie is a Colville-Pinoy and related to us that he didn't know about his Filpino ancestry until later in life. He always figured his father was just from another tribe across the river from Spokane.

Peter Bacho picked up on the theme of Indo-Pinoys with his reading from his new book Entries. In the entry he read to us, he spoke of the last cavalry charge of the Philippine Scouts during WWII. Quite fitting as the earlier opening ceremonies honored the Filipino WWII who are still living. My grandfather was part of that last charge and is something I hope to write about soon.

Oliver had told me about Rick Barot, so it was good to finally hear him read. It was cool to have the only two Pinoy Poetry Faculty in Washington State at the same reading. His imagery in "At Point Reyes" was clean and vivid with such lines as "Among the seaweed were finger bones/of driftwood, some feathers, flame-blue." Next door to the writers, though, they were celebrating the WWII vets with loud song, making it really hard for Rick to read. When they finally quieted down, Maria made him do an encore to make up for it.

Maria was definitely the ringleader/mother hen of the group, mostly known for her playwrighting, but reading from her poetry book-seeking-a-publisher. I had a good chat with her later in the day about performance storytellers and the need to connect Pinoy writers in Washington more strongly.



From the left: Robert Francis Flor, Oscar Penaranda, Oliver dela Paz, Geronimo Tagatac, and R. Romea Luminarias

Robert Flor was our MC for the event, and from the stories of the other writers, the chief invitor. He's another playwright/poet with a deep history with the Filipino community of Seattle. His poem "The Plagues" cut to the heart of living/working in the seedier areas of Central Seattle, an area quite different from the suburban life I lived in Federal Way.

I was surprised and happy to see Oscar again, thinking it wonderful that he had travelled so far to attend the event. He read a section of Seasons by the Bay with a long preamble that marks as much his personality as his writing. I cornered him later to ask about whether the Filipinos on the Manila Galleons were slaves, and though not bought and sold, he said that conscription was not much better than slavery.

Finally, Oliver read both from Names Above Houses and from Furious Lullaby, in addition to some newer work. Oliver's work builds on layers of images, creating scenes from strong nouns stacked one on top of the other. Like Rick's work, Oliver's poems are ones to be read again and again, savored and explored over time, adding yet more books to my "Must Get Soon" list already happily burdened by other terrific authors.

We were well past two hours of continual reading by the time Geronimo and R.Romea read, and I admit that by the time of their readings, my brain was quite exhausted. Geronimo's novel Weight of the Sun appears to have that blending of character and environment that I try to put into my own work. R.Romea on the other hand writes protest poetry with a gentle hand, an unlikely, but very effective marriage of activism and artistry. We spoke later in the day and when he found out I wrote, he asked to read my work, and I was thankful to have something to offer on Haruah.

After the readings was a panel discussion which I missed. I had abandoned my family to wander the festival earlier and was afraid they were bored to tears. Instead, I found them quite happy watching the dance performances and checking out the food booths.

Other glimpses from the Festival:



Ringing the bell 108 times for Philippine Independence day.



Pandango Sa Ilaw is one of my favorite traditional dances.



Described as "Recycled Teenagers," these gals showed the young ones how it's really done.



The Vets, though, were the stars of the day. I hope to interview them over the coming months for my oral-history-project-in-progress.