12/28/2007

Doomsday

Okay...I admit the title is overboard, but with the rolling of the year, I'm in that medieval mental space where all things are coming to an end and all things need to be accounted for somehow.

I started 2007 stretching and testing my poetic self, getting deep into communities. Now I'm ending 2007 with preparating to stretch and test my memoir self, getting deeply introspective and hermitish.

In putting together my pieces, I'm trying to keep in mind the ideas of conflict. A MFA program director I spoke with recently mentioned that they were looking for writers who were 'adults' meaning people who had failed and more importantly /knew/ that they had failed. I found this to be a much better definition of adulthood than the usual "lived long enough to have experience" with its implied ageism.

Conflict makes for good storytelling and conflicts often stem from fears - what are we afraid of? What have we done to run from the fear and how has that made a mess of things? How have we turned around and faced those fears and redeemed those moments of failure?

There's the shrinking fear and tben there's avarice, the fear of /not/ having, of not getting. These are the shadow spaces of ourselves, the vampires and aswangs, the demons we'd rather Other than own as part of ourselves.

These are themes for the novel too, spaces I need to pin down - what does each character fear? How do their encounters with the slaver spirit/aswang bring these to the surface and how do they redeem themselves? How do they act their fears and how do they rise above them, or not? All coupled with the ideas of mutated viruses...

Still much to stitch up with my apps, but I'm getting close to submitting them. I'm excited and frightened, but focusing on trusting the process, trusting that the journey will take me where I hope.

11/30/2007

QOTD

When everything seems to fall apart, it is important to have a "mythic sense," a story-mind — not a fantasy for escape, but a sense of mythic imagination that can hold ends and beginnings together. -- Mythic Journeys

***

This reminds me of what many of the culture bearers talked about in de Guia's book, that sense of Time being irrelevant to the Sense of cyclic change. Beginnings and endings are part of a whole experience, and the view from wholeness gives each piece, even when broken, meaning-full-ness.

***

Speaking of fullness, I am flush with books. I've narrowed my MFA focus down a bit and started filling my shelves with books I think I ought to know about. Thanks to Amazon's links with used booksellers I recently received:

Crushing Soft Rubies

Eye of the Fish

The Oracles

So they're nestled nicely next to works by Leny Strobel, Barry Lopez, Carol Guess, Anne Lamott, Brenda Miller and Robin Hemley and soon to join works by Annie Dillard, Suzanne Paola, Judith Kitchen as I get a chance to pick up titles. More to read, more to gather like diamonds to a dragon's horde. To the used bookstores!

**happy dance**

11/25/2007

161 Meme

Leny tagged me recently with the 161 Meme, having been tagged by Luisa Igloria (since half the fun of meme-tagging is seeing who tagged who and what they answered).

The sixth line of the 161st page of Kapwa: The Self in the Other is:

of his forefathers. Nowadays, he performs the Palaw'an tribal rituals instead of attending Christian

I hereby tag: Ver, Barbara Jane, Oliver, Carol, and Kim. (Post the 6th line of the 161th page of the book you're reading, blog it, and tag 5 more bloggers.)

There's synchronicity in memes, sometimes in the interaction between tagged and tagger, the meme and the answer, the combo of the two, and every permutation in between.

The passage the meme brought me to is about Aureaus Solito, filmmaker and Christian, descendant of shaman-chieftains of Palawan who views himself whole with the action of his art. For him there is no self-division along lines of religion, social group, economy, or age - rather than choosing one part of his heritage over another, he embraces it all. He states "I've imbibed the philosophy that everything is enough."

Nourished by wholeness.

Links and Events Roundup

Thanksgiving week opened with the terrific news that Cecelia Brainard has accepted my story "Yellow is for Luck" for inclusion in her anthology GROWING UP FILIPINO II, due to release next year.
***
The Chatelaine announces the Meritage Press Seventh Annual Poetry Contest with judge Eric Gamalinda .

Her Goldeness also released the eighth issue of Galatea Resurrects, boasting 64 poetry reviews!
***
Hot poetry with hot poets can be found at MiPOesias now. (no really, I read it for the poetry...)
***
Achiote Press continues to move and shake having been recently featured at Intersection's Independent Press Spotlight event. Can't wait for the online announcement for the release of Achiote's Fall issue!
***
Ivy announced the release of Part II of the Auto/biography Edition of APWN she edited.

APWN is also calling for submissions for the 2008 edition of the Auto/biography Edition. Deadline: March 31, 2008.
***
Stage Presence releases soon!

SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER:
Meritage Press is pleased to offer a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER through November 30, 2007. For $16.00 each, you can obtain a copy of STAGE PRESENCE, a reduced rate from the book's retail price of $22.00—plus free shipping/handling (an approximate $4.00 value) to U.S. addresses. Just send a $16.00 check made out to "Meritage Press" to:

Eileen Tabios
Meritage Press
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road
St. Helena, CA 94574

For international orders, please contact MeritagePress@aol.com

11/12/2007

Remember Those Gone and Those Still Alive




The Filipino Veterans Equity Act has been voted out of committee in the House of Representatives (HR 760) and the Senate (S 1315) and is now awaiting floor votes. The release of this video spot coincides with the efforts of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) to spread awareness in this final push to pass the bill. The public service announcement "Full Equity Now" features FAUSTINO “Peping” BACLIG, who is one of many World War II veterans fighting for equity. The video can be seen at: http://www.kidheroes.net/fullequitynow/.

“We’re so close, we can taste it. We hope this public service announcement can reach out and mobilize our community. We need all the help we can get to make history by passing this important legislation on behalf of the brave soldiers who came before us as part of the ‘Greatest Generation’ who fought in WW II,” says Ben de Guzman, NAFVE National Campaign Coordinator.

“Full Equite Now” was produced by filmmaker Patricio Ginelsa's production company Kid Heroes Productions with assistance from donations and sales made in July 2007 through their online store. Ginelsa and the entire crew donated their time and efforts to make sure this public service announcement happened. “It’s one thing to know about an issue you feel very strongly about. I wanted to somehow push people to actively do something about it, especially now in this crucial stage.” says Ginelsa.

The National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity represents over 20 local, national and international organizations committed to securing full equity for Filipino World War II Veterans. More information about NAFVE and the Filipino Veterans Equity Act is available on the NAFVE Web site: http://www.nafve.org.

***

Remembering: Arcadio M. - Retired US Army, Korea, Bataan Death March Survivor, Filipine Scout; George M. - Retired US Air Force, WWII, Korea, Vietnam; Cristino M. - Retired US Air Force, WWII, Korea; members of the USAFFE who have never been recognized as US Vets.

Honoring: Romeo M. - Retired US Air Force and US Navy, Desert Storm; Frank M. - US Air Force, Desert Storm, Iraq Conflict; Jeff M. - US Navy, currently serving; Mark M. - US Air Force; Rod M. - US Air Force; all my cousins who serve.

11/04/2007

Passing Glance

I spent the afternoon yesterday at the UBC Museum of Anthropology with a friend. It was the first time for both of us, although I had been on the UBC campus in 2000 for a Women of Color conference. There hadn't been time to explore MOA though with all the hustle of sessions and such. Yesterday, though, was the perfect day for being on an Explore with a friend - wet and grey and softly introspective.

Although excited by the prospect of gathering more details for the novel, I was also apprehensive. Here we were going to a place designed to observe Others in neat packages called Artifacts.

There was a terrific article in The Sun recently titled "Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos" by Derrick Jensen. Although the central argument of the article is the treatment of zoo animals, Jensen goes into great detail about the mindset necessary to create zoos, the same Othering techniques used during colonization.

"What do we learn from zoos?...We learn that you can remove a creature from her habitat and still have a creature. We see a sea lion in a concrete pool and believe that we're still seeing a seeing a sea lion. But we are not. We should never let zookeepers define for us what or who as animal is. A sea lion /is/ her habitat. She is the school of fish she chases. She is the water. She the cold wind blowing over the ocean. She is the waves that strike the rocks on which she sleeps, and she is the rocks. She is the constant calling back and forth between members of her family, this talking to each other that never seeps to stop. She is the shark who eventually ends her life. She is all these things. She is that web. She is her desires, which we can learn only by letter her show us, if she wants; not by caging her." - Jensen, p8, The Sun, Nov. 2007

I think the primary action of decolonization for me is this realization that I am not the artifact called 'Filipina,' but a Filipina - one who interacts and is constantly remade as a Filipina with every interaction, every relationship forged, every action I make which ties me to my heritage. Being Filipina isn't defined only by what I do as an individual, but by the living, breathingness of Kapwa that takes into account my environment, my choices, the choices of others, my fears and triumphs, all at the same time, all in constant motion.

Stepping across the threshold of MOA, I knew that I would not have the experience of knowing and interacting with the artists and elders who has created the pieces on display. So, instead, I tried to place myself in a space where the stories that the catologuers didn't reveal in their explanatory panels. I tried to hear the whispers of carving tools against cedar, of songs still imbedded with the wood smoke in the grain of door posts. I tried to be open to the context of each piece while fighting back the knowledge that each piece was out of context, perhaps torn out of time to be 'collected and placed' for the 'edification of Us.'

I scribbled notes into my sketchbook about the pieces in the first foyer, then turned the corners where cabinets of artifacts were on display from other indigeneous peoples around the world. A sign with the Philippines caught my eye and it was with a certain morbid curiosity that I opened drawer after drawer to see what a curator thought was worthy of preservation and display from my heritage.

The displays at MOA are arranged as if the visitor had stumbled into a collectors archive, each piece cross referenced with a piece of paper covered in a plastic sheath and bound in large books fastened to the end of each cabinet. We struggled to understand the system and finally gave up, favoring to pull out drawers and hope there was a piece from 'back home.' Indonesia, Bali, Australia, Malaysia, teeth, feather, bone, hemp, copper all behind pieces of glass. I only found one marked "Philippines" - a small smoking pipe which I sketched in my book, the perfect object for characterization. I decided to stop looking for the Philippines at that point, focusing instead on the Coastal Salish.

MOA is undergoing a renovation and pieces were displayed in large racks, untagged to the amateur, but still there. Sort of like bodies in a morgue... turning away from the large portion of the collection, we moved to a room which held the artifacts of a memorial given for a woman who had died in the last decade. She was a leader in the preservation and reclamation of First Nations culture and her family and friends honored her by providing a memorial for her. Instead of burning or letting the elements claim the pieces, many donated them to the MOA for a memorial display.

Death and life together, observed and observer together, but I was determined to be in the space even if separated by time. To reach that space of Kapwa with the people who loved and were loved so deeply. Unlike the rest of the museum, the memorial space had a story, was steeped with stories, and grief has a power that connects. I would have liked to have met the people who left the memorial pieces for me to see, but reading their words helped me be in that space more fully and hopefully with them and their memories.

As my friend and I gazed out of the inlet outside the museum, standing there beside the long and small houses adorned with totem poles and post carvings, she mentioned how special places are always special, that a good place to settle in and share a meal will be attractive to people generation after generation, and the most recent iteration of that attraction was the museum itself. I tried to imagine the coldness of the skin for a woman like me, just come from emptying the boats, and rushing indoors to prepare a meal, welcoming the heat from the fire and chasing children away from burning embers.

I'd forgotten to bring tobacco, didn't really know if the Coast Salish and Haida were tobacco givers, so instead I turned to my friend and gave her a small pocket totem I had bought for her in the museum gift store. We'd brought our friendship to the space and I was grateful to the elders for bringing us there that day. We smiled and shared a hug in our typical American shy way, and I hoped the Guardians understood that we were not just passing, or even passing through, but that their stories had changed us and kept part of their memory alive in us.

10/28/2007

Across the World in a Day

Saturday proved to be one of those days where in the morning my schedule looked insanely busy but doable, and in the evening, the journeys took me to spaces so far flung, the me of the morning was very different from the me of the late night hours.

From the viewpoint of the morning, it would have gone something like: Breakfast, Coaching, Ballet/Homework, Lunch, Mindport, Peter and the Wolf, FASA Dinner, Home.

From the viewpoint of the evening, it went more like: Quickquick, Cool insights, Focus on your studying/new library card!, mmmm Mango Chicken, LookLookAintItNifty!, SoSweet, OhF*&kingAwesome, BuzzBuzz.

There are lingering questions, as usual, though - what about the MFA? what about finishing the novel? what about the laundry? - but I'd like to focus more on what was and what is as a result, rather than that rat-race of what if?

***

Coaching - not me coaching, but me being coached on being and living authentically. It's not often, it's not even regular, but it's always engaging and afterward I felt wonderfully validated and settled about an art-thing I've been doing for almost two decades off and on. Off and on because before yesterday, it was hard to find someone to help me frame it, and now all I can think about are the different frames I can use with it. I'm three days away from my goal of finishing the chap, and it's not looking positive, so instead, I'm hoping the work will be less forced now and more ... authentic is such a cheap word these days, but I can't seem to place one more expensive at the moment. Suffice to say, though, that my paintings will have more depth for me and perhaps more connection with others because I feel more settled about them.

***

While A was at ballet, I took L to the library to study. Studying on the weekends is never much fun, esp. when you're 10 and would rather be reading Pokemon, Harry Potter, or a new series about boy/girl rivalries. The topic was engaging enough, the solar system, but I was there to take L to task for not getting a quiz done during the school week (I know, I know, how could a teacher overlook the fact that a student, with no absences, /missed/ taking a quiz in his class - I'm working on the logic of that separately). After arguing about how much /work/ constituted /studying/ L gamely settled into it. She finished in about a half hour and I let her loose among the stacks, a caged reader free to roam paradise.

Some time in the last couple of years, L lost her library card and so, after many months of borrowing mine, we decided to seek a replacement of hers. Score for her that it didn't cost anything and double score for her little sis A who was now old enough for her /own/ library card.

A's reading isn't coming along as quickly as L's but A covets books as much as her sister. The little gal grew up/older before my very eyes in the moment between sliding the application across the desk to the librarian and the card sliding into her small hand. She beamed. She was awestruck. She very gamely borrowed a book for me, payback for all the books I'd borrowed for her.

My babies aren't babies any more. They're full fledged, card carrying book hounds. **smile**

***

Fortified with lunch at the Asian Bistro and fudge from Paper Dreams, we explored the wonder that is Mindport. Part curio shop, part hands on museum, the art-space is delightful. Where else could you make a tornado indoors, make water sing, watch lights dance in gravitational patterns, and make plastic chickens fly?

It's one of those inspiring places too... two rooms of pure artistic passion - hand carved and crafted machines that cleverly use simple physics to turn cranks, leverage magnetic forces, and give kids that old fashioned learning-by-having-fun thing. The facility and it's staff live on grants and obsessive love of tinkering. Not a bit of blaring neon or subtle infiltrative consumerism. I felt a bit of envy there, seeing all the stuff, knowing how much they've grown over the years, amazed that they never folded given the overhead and cost of materials they must endure. I kept wondering, how does this translate into writing? How does the writer create the kind of space where odd shaped cranks, intricately carved wood, and soft lights cast on mirrors sustain and nourish a small family of creatives?

***

Before setting off to see Peter and the Wolf, I slipped into the Newstand and picked the most recent copies of The Sun and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Brenda Miller was on my thesis committee and she'd recently mentioned being in the The Sun this month with a new memoir piece. Her work always challenges me to be open to my experiences no matter how small and to somehow bring about meaning through writing. I picked up MFSF on a whim, first because it had been ages since I'd read one and there was this niggling in my brain that I should pick up a copy and see what spec fic writers are doing these days. The deal was set, though, seeing Charles deLint's review column. I was curious to know what he enjoys reading and why, plus the interesting mental notation that here was a way he helped keep a roof over his head, writing columns between writing contracted novels.

PTW turned out marvelous - simple staging and simple ballet moves, but fun for us all. Hubby reminisced about playing the horn part for the wolf, back in the day, and I just enjoyed it given I'd never actually seen the play before - I'd heard the sound track, of course, and likely the cartoon, but seeing our local ballet company perform it was really a lot of fun.

***

After worrying about parking on campus (NP - it's parent's weekend at WWU) and getting our tickets (big problem - none of the will call tickets were at the booth) we found ourselves at the Filipino American Students Association Heritage Dinner - Sa Aking Panahon (In My Time).

The dinner itself started in Pinoy Student Time, of course, which is Pinoy time plus student time, equaling way past time to eat. The gals were squirrelly, but we passed the time chatting up Oliver. I hadn't seen ODLP for a few months, our schedules and workspheres not quite overlapping. He was there as one of the guest speakers - he didn't read his work, unfortunately - instead he cracked jokes with the students and spoke a bit about the importance of our art and literature getting out into the mainstream so stuff like the recent Desperate Housewives incident can be addressed and stemmed.

The program suffered from being overly long, unfortunately, and the food was... well, let's put it this way, it was Filipino food cooked with oversight by a Filpino mom, but let's face it, campus food service can only do so much, I mean, have you ever known a campus kitchen able to make /any/ ethnic food properly? But the gals got to eat lumpia, something I don't make at home (it's hard to make a gluten free lumpia wrapper...) and were happy with that. No lechon, though, or bibinka, and the chicken adobo was ... plain.

***

Aside: it's Sunday morning now and I'm typing this on my laptop which sits on our dining table. Across from me is Hubby's laptop as asleep as he is in the back bedroom. Next to me, L is typing A's first journal entry into L's laptop. The only reason the cats don't have laptops is because they prefer walking on ours when given half a chance.

***

I always have mixed feelings when I go to Filipino festivals. Too many residual memories of my parents dodging people the didn't like, chatting up people they did like in dialects I didn't know, using me alternately as a subject of pride or derision, and generally feeling totally out of place. My mother would invariably come to the conclusion that the folks that put on the festivals were hopeless throwbacks and wetbacks who didn't know how to be American and my father would invariably crack hopelessly lame jokes in an attempt to fit in. FilAm fests were a veritable feast of embarrassing moments where I would desperately hide my shyness with disdain.

The first few moments being at FilAm fests now are spent mentally beating back my need to run away and avoid all the bad associations and breathing through the panic until I can find a space to enjoy myself. I say things to myself like "You're an adult now. You need this info for your novel. You won't say anything embarrassing. You won't do anything embarrassing. Yes, you really are Filipino and that's okay. Yes, it's okay you don't speak Tagalog..." I blink a lot, breathe a lot, and fuss over my family to distract myself a lot.

***

Hanging with Oliver was cool - he's very much in the middle of the current FilAm lit movement and to touch that for a moment helps me feel less fringe. I'm still working out how it all relates to hanging with Brenda, Suzanne Paola and Bruce Beasley the other night where I found myself not finding about low res MFAs and instead talking about editorial jobs in our area. Seems that there's a bunch of former grad students of theirs looking for basically my job while I'm looking to go back to school.

Oliver shared his insights about low res which I compared to my thoughts and somewhere in the middle I was considering switching from Spiritual Autobigraphy to Fiction to Multigenre all over the course of an evening. One of these days I'm going to have to figure out my own mind.

***

The best parts of the evening were watching the dance performances/martial arts demos which turned out to be basically the same thing. Kulintang in the background, Hufana Traditional Arts International wow'd us all with silat (kata) for escrima and kris. Their hand strikes and foot work were echoed in the Tinikling and Pandango da Ilaw performed by the FASA students and the incredible Filipino Youth Activities drill team. Drum beat, gong strikes, and rattan snap, all blended with the flash of Igorot and Mindinao garb - beauty and strength all in one moment, separate then conjoined.

I saw Malakas as Del Burmudez performed silat after silat, demonstrating the deadly potential in a woven headband, a loop of fabric, a carved wood tiger claw. I saw Maganda as the leader of the FYA drill team stepped on raised bamboo poles, scaling the slanted surfaces on nimble feet, head held high and aloof. Time reached backwards and forwards with each foot strike and twirl of arnis sticks. The thread of time thickened and thinned with each remembering and each forgetting, but ever connecting who we were with who we are.

Book ideas came fast and furious - pretty shinys that easily distract - but within the moments were the kernels of experience I needed to make my novel fuller and begin the next stage of healing for me.

After the event, I spoke with Del and asked him more questions about the garb he wore and especially the tiger claw weapon he had demonstrated. I sketched and listened and perhaps I'll be able to help him find funding for his projects. Artists helping artists perform and research and teach.

Inspired moments that made me feel more a part of something wonderful, something I could contribute to, something I could be /in/.

Drumbeats and kulintang strikes filled my dreams, stirring words into being.

10/15/2007

Three Poems

The talented Ivy Alvarez has put together an awesome edition for the Asia and Pacific Writer's Network.

The Auto/Biography Special Section features the talents of writers Arlene Ang, Barbara Jane Reyes, Joseph O. Legaspi, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Joel Toledo, Jill Chan, Linh Dinh, Eileen R. Tabios, Lino Dizon, and Grace Monte de Ramos.

In addition, three of my poems appear - Mail Order Bride, Retelling Vallejo, and Market Song

Thank you, Ivy for inviting my work. I'm honored to appear with such luminous poets.

BTW, if you have links to blogs by the other poets listed in the edition, please let me know.

10/04/2007

Racism is not subtle humor, folks

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.


Recently in a Desperate Housewives scene broadcast Sep. 30, 2007, Susan (Teri Hatcher) was told by her gynecologist that she might be hitting menopause, she replied, "Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines. "

It's a gag line, its a throw away line, its a line for laughs. Maybe, maybe we could argue that it fits her character, that Susan is an ignorant, high strung, arrogant, prejudiced woman caught in throes of fear. Maybe the writers intend that she'll see the errors of her ways when she's saved by a Filipino nurse in a future episode. Or maybe it'll be a white guy doc (because the doc would /have/ to be a white and male to pull it off, right?) with a wall lined with credentials from the Philippines, and he'd find a cure for what ails her (some as yet undiscovered life threatening disease that mimics menopausal symptoms).

At best, its a badly written line that could have been reforged as "Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some back alley med school where the booze is as thick as my eyeliner." Or maybe "...where the training is as thin as my morals..." or ...

The point being that the writers didn't have to bring race into the line, didn't have to disparage the hundreds of thousands of Filipino healthcare workers working everyday to save lives, care for elderly and children, and ease the burdens of people from every race and walk of life for just one laugh.

When racial prejudice is used as a gag, the viewer and the targeted race are diminished, demeaned, and damaged, leaving a gaping hole that no amount of laughter can fill.

These types of lines and comments have been protested before and this incident is no different.

Those who wish to write in person contact:

Mr. Mark Pedowitz
President
ABC Television Network
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4551


An online petition "Filipino Americans demand apology from ABC and Deperate Housewives" is not just for Filipinos but for those who want to make their voices heard - Racism is not subtle humor. It's wrong and it has to stop.

9/30/2007

Thirty Makes Two

Just finished revising two short stories for submission to an anthology and feeling /good/. Just a tad nervousness batching them out via email, but they're gone now, my little children, off to make there way in the world. Hopefully they won't both come back with skinned knees and bruises from the journey.

What was best about it is that I got a chance to practice endings and middles, as well as just get back into the routine of writing toward a finish.

I'm finding that I work best in 30 day chunks, likely a carry over from NaNo last year. I won't be doing NaNo this year, not until I finish the novel I wrote last year for submission and I'm several weeks, if not months from /that/ goal.

I'm looking forward to October, though, as I switch gears from fiction to poetry/painting. I just need to find the special paper I had bought a couple of weeks ago for the project, the paper I'm sure I've buried in a box that's now packed in storage **rolls eyes**. Tidying up and rearranging the house has certain hazards to writing.

It's rainy here, and for a few hours tonight, we had lost power. Likely a tree went down somewhere nearby. We need to resupply ourselves with batteries and candles for the winter. I'm glad Fall is here, though, all wet and gold leafy and cool.

I get my best writing done this time of year.

9/17/2007

Every Once in a While

I've been reading Charles de Lint books since my hubby introduced me to Moonheart in the mid-90s. A mythic fictionist, deLint blends the present with the past, moves archtypical characters into complex spaces, and just plain writes a terrific yarn.

He's one of those authors who keeps producing and his pubs list tops over 60 books. He speaks at SFCons all over the world and has one of the most faithful readership you'll find anywhere. He also plays music every week at pub local to him in Ottawa, and he creates stories with the craft of a composer, each rising action softened with pauses, each introspective moment punctuated with action.

He's one of those authors you imagine from a distance as being as cool and as nifty as his work, but someone you're unlikely to meet in person. After all, he lives in Canada, plays to packed audiences at Cons and... did I mention 60 books published?

But every once in awhile you get lucky, and you read something in a fan newsletter. Something about a workshop at a lit colony not two hours away. And you ping your husband who says yes, and you race to the phone, credit card in hand, and you patiently wait as the receptionist fields call after call as she processes your reservation for the class, and you buy a membership for good luck, and you find out maybe, maybe you're in the workshop, one of fifteen, but she can't be sure. You have to wait another week for the registrar to return from vacation to confirm, and finally he calls and he say Yes, you're are in.

In.

What a wonderful, belonging word. In.

Then seven hours of workshop bliss where you work not only with your favorite author but with 15 other people just as in love with myth as you are, just as frustrated with getting a story right as you are, just as amazed as you that there are so many ways to tell and retell myths - everything from fiction, to memoir, to animated scripts.

**grin**

de Lint was generous with his insights, tender in his critiques, and ever encouraging of all the students. We talked everything from writing process/discipline to publication to eRights management. But most of all he reminded me of the basics:

Write everyday
Finish
Be consistent
Be respectful
Do thorough research

I had my inner fangrll *squee* moments too, when he signed my books, when he responded positively to my ideas, and especially when he expressed interest in reading more of my work.

Every once in a while it all comes together and it's veryvery good.

9/12/2007

Goodbye and Good Riddance

Japan's Prime Minister Resigns

"TOKYO, Sept. 12 -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned abruptly on Wednesday after a year in power, has for weeks been a walking political corpse...

"His judgment in picking a cabinet had proven faulty in the extreme, as scandals and ineptitude had pushed four ministers to resign and one to kill himself.
...

"Contrary to studies of the "comfort women" issue by the Japanese government, which disclosed more than 100 documents showing Japanese military involvement in the building of brothels and recruitment of women, Abe insisted there was no documentation proving that the military coerced Asian women into prostitution."

***

Abe ducked the apology demanded by the US through the efforts of Laban for Lolas, but he's resigned and that's progress to me.

The Lolas' stories still need to be told, still need to be answered, but for today, I am happy for this victory.

8/26/2007

Lessons Experienced

Back on August 6, Bino related the story that during his recent trip to Brazil, he realized that he was rushing around trying to do everything in a place where there was nothing really to do. He found himself asking: "why are you rushing when you have absolutely nothing to do in this country?"

I took that realization with me to South Dakota/Nebraska last week, trying to keep time and space open, knowing that there would be certain family obligations to dance through. It mostly worked - I felt a certain ease about having no expectations of my time other than keeping my little nest all in order and making the correct appearances despite certain obstacles (like flights due to arrive at 6:45 pm, being waved off at 6:30 pm due to the evacuation of Rapid City's airport because of a tornado watch... then spending the next 4 hours in Cheyenne, WY...finally arriving in RC at about 11pm only to find that the kid's car seats were left... somewhere between Seattle and Salt Lake City...)

What I didn't count on, though, was that this little exercise in Zen Nothingness created a sense of emotional detachment... I, my identity, my sense of connection, my creativity were all on hold. I didn't realize it fully until reaching Fort Robinson where the ghosts of Buffalo Soldiers, frightened pioneers, Japanese POWs, captured/murdered Lakota Sioux, and self righteous cavalrymen, jostled dreams and slipped around darkened corners as we inhabited their spaces. My children slept fitfully, my oldest wandering the halls looking for her bed several times. My husband unconsciously shaved his beard in the fashion of the officers who had lived in the same adobe quarters we slept. My relatives spoke in hushed tones and generally felt a sense of unease about the layers and layers of history - there was no strong sense of right or wrong there at the Fort - pioneers needed the soldiers to create safe passage and secure their ability to make a living in a region where no one had farmed ever... the Sioux needed the land to rove, hunt, live as they always had, following the seasons and the land in ways that can only be learned through centuries of experience. The Buffalo Soldiers were there to prove their hearts as brave and as worthy as whites, while the Japanese POWs bided their time until the end of the war... I know little of their story, muffled as it was beneath the older, more painful tales...

These are the things I learned after I realized I was not really present while on vacation. There was the promised ease that came from being so detached, but I think I missed things... what did Mount Rushmore /feel/ like as I searched the landscape to see what Washington viewed and how it differed from what Roosevelt saw in the distance. How did the land cope with the tunneling created by the Needles Highway and what possessed the engineers of the pigtail bridges to move in circles instead of in straight lines as 'normal'? And then there were the Relations that visited - the sparkling hummingbird, the skittish antelope, and the curmudgeonly, flatulent skunk who 'greeted' us as we drove from the mountains to Custer in search of food or souvenirs - what were their messages I missed?

Once again, I was reminded that to not be myself, to not be that strange mix of jittering creative energy and anal-retentive focus, even if it means that I tire myself out easily, is to risk missing meeting the world fully, experiencing my life as my own life.

A 'teacher of the Secret' once expounded on the efficacy of the Curly Factor (Think Jack Palance in City Slickers and his 'one thing' philosophy). "Be a monomaniac" the teacher encourages "Pick one thing and stick to it like a first class postage stamp until you arrive" (okay...maybe I'm mixing my philosophers here a bit).

I get that - I've seen it in others. Being the expert in one thing means excellence. And it also means sacrificing the possibility of being an expert in a bunch of things (which really is pretty impossible for most, I think). But there's also a layered richness that's lost in being so focused. Focused in the sense of narrowly-viewing.

I like the periphery, the nearly seen, the almost heard. I like bringing those things together and finding the stories. Somehow I don't think monomania would bring me that richness.

But here, in this moment, I also realize that I've short changed the ideal of Zen, the Middle Path, of Balance. Yes, there will be moments of being really focused and then there will be moments of openness. And somewhere between no work and ohmigoshIvevolunteeredagain, there's honoring the work I've been given and living up to the responsibilities of being a mom, wife, and writer.

Kel Agodon writes a really good review of Mothertalk which sounds like it gets this concept down of juggling creativity and living. Looks like a good read, but even so, the review will have to suffice for now. I'm going to choose to honor the choices I've made this last year - ie. read the books I've already bought, write the papers and stories I've already sketched out, finish the chores I already have in mind, before taking on anything, Anything, ANYthing, new.

Really.

No... really.

This is where I have to set aside my Filipino nature of social compatibility for a more American sense of individuality.

It'll be entertaining at least to try.

8/25/2007

Returning

Just back from our South Dakota/Nebraska-Family Reunion/Great American Adventure.

It's good to be home.

Hot back there, but not as hot as it could have been. In fact, we arrived during a storm and we left during a storm, so I guess that means we gifted the area with Washington hospitality (ie. rains... rains... more rains).

Saw Rushmore, Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, Mammoth Dig, and Toadstool Park. Stayed at Sylvan Lake Lodge near Custer, SD and Fort Robinson, NB. Visited with 50 relatives on DL's side, two gravesites, and were visited by many Relations (Buffalo, Antelope, Owl, Chipmunk, Hummingbird....).

It was good to be away for a few days, even better to be back home. I'm feeling more focused and energized - inspired, really, to get projects organized and worked on fairly methodically. I have several overdue projects that I thought abandoned before vacation, but now I'm feeling the need to complete them, even if only for the sake of completing them.

Got a fair amount of insight into the novel and a few notes/sketches done for the chap - both good things.

Best, though, on that front was reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman - I highly recommend it! He takes that theme of What happened to the gods of the old world when the immigrants came to America and brings it around deftly. He laid a bunch of great threads out in the first half of the book and it was incredible to see him weave them all back together again by the end. Little things. Things that could have easily been left as just background material. But there are no wasted themes, characters, moments in Gaiman's book. Pretty cool to watch a master at his work. And his Acknowledgments were almost as interesting as the book - that's the kind of support system I hope to create for myself as time goes on.

Next, I'd like to pick up Anasazi Boys, but I have Peter and the Starcatchers to read first, then all the books I've picked up since the beginning of the year that I've not gotten to...

It was my birthday about a week ago, and I'm feeling very much like it's a New Year for me, resolutions and all.

All and all, though, I'm pretty happy about everything that's humming in my life.

8/15/2007

Dreaming

Gura mentions dreaming recently

I dreamed early this morning. A True Dream. One of those dreams you know happened someplace else, sometime else, but happened, because you don't have dream-memories, but real memories, that faint taste on the tongue, that sense of needing to be elsewhere to finish what was started.

It was a hero's dream, saving a group from a bad leader, taking the rap for sending the leader packing because it's the Rule and if you break the Rules then bad things happen - you cease being a good leader, a good hero. Then came the part where we faced off the Big Baddy who was hiding in the library. Me and my crew of Newbies, the scars of punishment still stinging, bleeding, healing. Didn't matter - the Big Bad had to go and we were the ones to do it. Just hope we didn't lose any one in the process.

I've been thinking Babaylan of late, having found Sayaw Bathala and other pointers to Babaylan work/magery. I connected with babaylan I hadn't in months, hope to connect with more. It's working it's way into the novel and it's working its way into healing old wounds I carry. All good things. Amazing, actually.

Tomorrow I head off to Seattle to catch a plane to South Dakota Friday for DH's family reunion/50th Anniversary celebration. It's swealtering hot there and yet again, I'm sure I'll be reminded that I might /look/ like an island girl, but I'm NW skin to bone.

8/12/2007

Honoring Lolo

I met Gregg last Spring at the National Conference of the Philippine Scouts Historic Society. There he told me that he had been working hard to bring recognition to his lolo's service in the US Army and he hoped that the contacts he had made at the conference would help. I'm glad to know things are turning out well for him as his family.

Filipino War Hero to be Remembered at Arlington National Cemetery…

After six years of sometimes frustrating effort, Gregg Baltazar Timbol received an important post card: “This is to inform you that the memorial marker has been received at Arlington National Cemetery.”

Sixty years ago Gregg’s Filipino grandfather, Corporal Fernando Baltazar, was killed in action fighting for the United States at the beginning of World War II. On January 23, 1942 Corporal Baltazar’s unit, the 45th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts, was ordered into the front line on Luzon Island in the Philippines to attack a Japanese regiment that made an amphibious landing on the rocky cliffs of Bataan Peninsula in the dead of night.

The battle raged on in the dense jungle for more than a week and although the 45th was ultimately successful in driving the Japanese force back over the cliffs and into the sea, many men were killed. Corporal Baltazar’s body was never recovered. The Army posthumously awarded him the Bronze Star for his bravery in combat, and the Purple Heart for his fatal wounds.

Fernando’s three young daughters were left orphans and there was no one to arrange a memorial service for him.

Having heard the story of his grandfather’s bravery as he was growing up, Gregg Baltazar Timbol, decided to do something about it. He began in 2000 by applying for U.S. citizenship for his grandfather. Non-citizen soldiers killed in action in the U.S. Army are sometimes eligible for posthumous citizenship, a special honor which does not convey benefits but recognizes the soldier’s personal sacrifice.
The application was first delayed, then denied because a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 had destroyed Fernando Baltazar’s Army records. Gregg re-submitted the application through Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office and it has again been denied, but Gregg is submitting another appeal.

During this process Maxine McLean, a member of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society whose father commanded Fernando Baltazar’s unit, urged Gregg to contact the National Battle Monuments Commission to see if his grandfather could be honored at Arlington National Cemetery.

Gregg submitted the application on April 30, and got a quick response. Just after the 4th of July, 2007 Arlington installed a marker commemorating Corporal Fernando Baltazar. On August 14 Gregg, his family, and any others who wish to join them will attend a U.S. Army memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., honoring the bravery and sacrifice of Corporal Fernando Baltazar, more than sixty years ago.

8/08/2007

Thanatos and Aletheia

Been musing about Thanatos in the frame of Eros - it's proving to be a bit tougher to think about 'living outside the body.'

There've been convergences, though, of note... the novel came back from the freelance editor a couple of weeks ago and I got a chance to chat with her about it on the phone. There's alot of work to be done to get it through the next draft, but I knew that. Thankfully she had both good comments and good guidance on how to get through this next stage.

One of the niggling problems that I'm still working out is this idea of Redemption - how are deaths used in fiction to redeem a character or show how a character is truly irredeemable? I think of the deaths in Harry Potter 7, which characters died believing in their cause, which ones didn't, which ones realized at the last moment that they were on the wrong side of the battle and died nobly, how redemption and resurrection are tied in many myths and stories, not just in Christianity.

What makes a character redeemable? Why is redemption such a theme in our universal consciousness? Is the purpose of Thanatos to create that space where we can see the potential for and act accordingly toward redemption?

Thanatos is about perspective, I think, of being able to look back in totality, not just forward and guessing the future through the experiences of the past. From Thanatos, we can see what choices we've made and how those choices lead to other choices and how the choices of others molded our Eros experiences into what they became and later who we became as a result of those experiences.

***

Is retelling myths, then about taking that Thanatos perspective and bringing it forward? Thanatos is often linked with Lethe, a river of Styx and the opposite of 'lethe' in Greek is aletheia - unforgetfulness/unconcealment. Stealing from Thanatos, reversing Lethe, then is an act of remembering, of bringing forward that which has been concealed.

I can't think of a better way to describe the process of decolonization actually.

***

And thinking of the sound "aletheia" reminds me that I once had an RPG character named Althea Weaver. She was a tailor... and weaving always makes me think of the Fates and Arachne who was transformed into a spider for daring to portray the Greek gods unfavorably in her tapestries, of Penelope who wove and unwove her tapestry to keep suitors at bay and by extension, Odysseus alive.

***

And myths remind me of my recent searches for Sarimanok stories and finding the blog of Francis Tanglao-Aguas and wishing I could have seen his performance in Hawaii, seen him shake hands with Elizabeth II.

***

And Hawaii and Telling remind me of Grace's work and how Telling is healing and power-filled and affirming and world-changing.

***

And I have my own thoughts on how all this applies to sex and sexuality and reclamation of identity, but that's for a different essay, a different time.

***

Because the little sleep is upon me now and I need to rest.

Bebot Real

Controversy aside, this is my favorite vid of BEPs Bebot. Apl's dancing rocks and his mom is one cool Bebot herself.

7/31/2007

HR 121 PASSES!!

Evelina Galang announces

121 Coalition Statement on the Passage of H.RES.121
Monday July 30, 2007

With the passage of H.Res. 121, the United States House of Representatives reaffirms its promise as a powerful advocate for human rights.

We commend the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Mike Honda, and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos, as well as all 167 cosponsors for their passionate, bipartisan support for this resolution.

We also want to thank Congressman Lane Evans and Congressman Henry Hyde who championed and supported H.Res.759. When H.Res 759 failed during the last Congress, many supporters felt defeated; but others did not give up. The 759 campaign became the foundation for a national movement behind H.Res.121.

We highly commend survivors Ms. Lee Yong Soo, Ms. Kim Koon-Ja, Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne, as well as all survivors, living and deceased, who advocated for truth and reconciliation, and testified courageously about their agonizing captivity in military rape camps, also known as “comfort stations” during WWII.

We extend our gratitude to the American electorate who supported this resolution by sending thousands of letters and petitions to Congress members from all over the United States.

The so-called “comfort women” issue is not only about the past. It is also about the present and the future. Tragically, Japan’s wartime military rape camps were the precedent for human trafficking, rape, and sexual slavery that continue to this day. H.Res.121 delivers a strong message that we must protect civilians left vulnerable to violence and exploitation during armed conflicts, especially girls and women. The perpetrators of these deeds must now take notice: the world will hold you accountable.

This resolution is in no way an insult to the great nation of Japan. Rather, it is a challenge to leaders of all nations who would deny historical truth for political gain. The people of Japan have long understood that this issue can only be resolved with openness, honesty, and mutual respect. Leaders who deny history, like those who deny facts, serve no one but themselves. The people of Japan deserve an opportunity to put this terrible chapter of human history to rest, and reconcile with the world community in peace and in friendship.

Ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the Middle East serve as reminders that crimes such as these become fodder for future violence if the wounds they cause are allowed to fester without reconciliation, justice, or acceptance of responsibility.


Today, we stand with the United States House of Representatives to urge the people and the government of Japan to accept an invitation from their friends, the citizens of the United States, to officially acknowledge, apologize, and take responsibility for Imperial Japan’s role in the atrocities committed during WWII. We thank those who have sent us messages of support from around the globe, and we express our support for the citizens of Canada and Australia as they seek to pass similar resolutions. We see the success of H.Res 121 not as the end of our campaign, but as an auspicious beginning — one that will continue in partnership with human rights advocates in this country, in Japan, and around the world.


Statement From M. Evelina Galang,
Filipina American Coordinator, 121 Coalition

The passage of House Resolution 121 is an invitation to transcend past crimes against humanity, and a boon to the efforts of surviving “Comfort Women” who have been seeking justice for over 15 years. It is an opportunity for healing and reconciliation as well as a statement that defines what is and is not acceptable even during times of war. It is my hope that Japan accepts the invitation to bear witness to the women’s experiences and to honor and respect them by delivering a formal and unequivocal apology to all surviving “Comfort Women” of WW2.

On September 18, 1992 Rosa Maria Henson was the first Filipina “Comfort Woman” to step forward and ask the Japanese government to accept full responsibility for the WWII systematic rape and abduction of over 200, 000 women and girls throughout Asia. Following her lead, 173 of the estimated 1000 Filipinas subjected to the Japanese Imperial Army’s “Comfort Stations” also came forward and began to reclaim their dignity through organized campaigns designed by feminist grassroots organizations such as Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina-Gabriela (LILA Pilipina).

Of the 173 Filipinas who have come forward, 54 have died. Today, only a handful of women in their 80’s and 90’s are actively involved.

The passage of House Resolution 121 demonstrates that the United States Congress and their constituents have heard these women. It is a great sign of respect and support. Let Japan follow the example of the United States House of Representatives as they pass House Resolution 121. Let them look to the women, see their faces and hear their stories. Let them acknowledge the past and take responsibility.

Novelist and University of Miami Professor M. Evelina Galang served as Florida Coordinator and Filipino American Outreach Coordinator for 121 Coalition


AN APPEAL TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE



On July 30, 2007, the House of Representative of the United States of America will be voting on House Resolution 121 which calls on the Government of Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Forces coercion of young women into sexual slavery.

Lila Pilipina, an organization of Filipino women survivors of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery and Advocates and Gabriela National Alliance of Women in the Philippines welcome this development in the quest of all victims of wartime sexual slavery for their long-sought justice. While we are fully aware that the passage of this resolution cannot compel the Government of Japan to make the rightful reparations for its wartime crimes against the women abused during the Second World War, it is heartening to know that there are individuals in the government of the United States whose concern for women goes beyond time and borders.

For the people of the United States who uphold the rights and welfare of women all over the world, we urge you to support the comfort women’s fight for justice – a fight that goes beyond public apology and reparations. It is a fight, essentially, to learn from history so that it may never happen again.

We urge you to go beyond their issue. Systematic rape and abuse of women is a tool of wars of aggression. The harrowing experience of Filipino, Korean and Chinese women in the hands of Japanese Imperial Army was repeated in various other wars of aggression after WWII. Thus, we urge you to support all efforts to put a stop to the current atrocities being committed against women in wars of aggression including the ones you government is sponsoring.

Echo the Shouts of the Elderly Lolas of Lila Pilipina:



NO TO WARS OF AGGRESSION!!!

NO TO ANOTHER GENERATION OF COMFORT WOMEN!

7/24/2007

Strange Convergences

Surfing the net for "Anthony Stewart Head" because he was Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the episode Once More With Feeling is my current obsession.

Discovered Tony Head played Frankenfurter in a revival of Rocky Horror Picture Show and earlier...

earlier played in a band called "Two Way" who released the song

"Nole Me Tangere" ...

Not to be confused with "Noli Me Tangere"

Which makes the whole thing weirdly circular for me.

*eyeshift* Carry on.

Eros as Living in the Body

Leny has been writing about the body this month, the body and eros and gaps in decolonization theories.

I've been 'in the body' these past few weeks, doing the work of the living, with little time to stop and process it all. I wrote her about it and thought about expanding my email a bit here. When my experiences are not fully processed, they come out in fits and bits, part mosaic, part quilt - solid pieces, broken and glittering set in concrete at times, other times soft and nebulous, gently pieced together with elaborate chain stitching.

****

She speaks of Eros and Power and Haunani-Kay Trask and I remember Hawaii and my daughter born two months too early and the heat and the sun and the light that was too yellow for my eyes. How I could never really rest there, how my skin craved misty mornings and cool NW breezes and darkness in winter. How Kay Trask was too radically feminist for me while bringing to my consciousness the possibility of sovereignty, if not in body then in mind and heart, but that the battle was on the field of the body and the body was a set of islands in the Pacific not my own, yet like my genetic ancestor. How I watched with mixed awe and projected jealousy that the Hawaiians had retained so much of who their bodies were on their body called Maui and Hawaii and Oahu, whereas at home, the Seneca and the Ojibwa and the Nez Perce and the Tlingit struggled to overcome the generational amnesia borne of genocide and survival through assimilation. How I realized that my home was not the Pacific, but the Pacific Northwest, in a rain forest near the sea where the nights were long in the winter and the days long in the summer.

****

Then Eros...a quick Wikipedia search revealed Freud's idea of Eros standing in opposition of Thanatos, the life instinct versus the death instinct, whereas Jung set Eros and Logos together/in opposition - psychic relatedness and objective interest, yet both placed the emphasis on the division of male and female along the same lines, the body-mind split revisited/created again. And I think about Maganda and Malakas, Beauty and Strength, again aligned along gender lines and looking for ways to talk about the strength in beauty without speaking of beauty queens and the objectifying gaze, ways to talk about the beauty in strength as nurturing as gardening as creating spaces to grow without speaking solely of drag queens and the objectifying gaze of men's bodies transforming into women's bodies.

And Eros breaks down into a this concept of Life Instinct, not just the drive to procreate but to live fully in life, today, now, in the present, to see that there are no ordinary moments, that there is never nothing happening in the world we live in. And I think of Dan Millman and the recent movie version of Way of the Peaceful Warrior - tangentially I met him 10 years ago this summer, my last summer in Hawaii, and he taught me how to juggle, to be mindful and releasing thinking all at once, that in juggling there is only really one ball, always in motion, jumping time and space.

I wrote to Leny:

We are built of our experiences and experiences only come from living, of meditating on living, on honoring the living we do.

Without the body we are simply mind or simply spirit - everything is theoretical until it is proven out with experience, with living in the body.

... there's a scene (in the movie) where Dan's mentor asks him if he knows how to clean a windshield and Dan says yes, his hand buried in his pockets. Dan's mentor throws him a windshield cleaner and says "Do it. That's the difference between knowledge and wisdom. The doing."


****

And if Eros is living, the instinct to live, and if life as we know it here on this particular planet means growing and changing, then living and nurturing is about growing and changing and these things can only happen with the ability to choose, to have choices to experience a thing, a place, a taste, and this reminds me of Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute. I'm uncertain if it is Mozart's flaw or Bergman's that casts the feminine principal as personification of evil and the masculine principal as personification of good, but in any case what struck me is the idea of Power and Weakness vs Power and Strength. The Queen of the Night is seen as having great power but also fatal weakness, whereas Sarastro is seen as having great power but also life giving strength... the difference? The Queen seeks to twist her daughter's fate to her own purposes, taking away her choices, whereas Sarastro seeks to teach Pamina and her love Tamino how to make choices for the betterment of others.

I see the same in Beauty and the Beast where the Beast creates choice for Beauty at every turn - she chooses to sacrifice, chooses to stay, chooses to leave, chooses to return. In the Disney version we're given Gaston, again a character who seeks to take away choices - the choices of Belle, her father, and the Beast.

Power, then, is not the problem, it's the possession of strength, the ability to think beyond personal gain to the future and sustenance of an entire community. And I see this among my ancestors, the barangay system there, the grange system here, where resources are gathered, celebrated, and redistributed among the people.

****

Eros and the body... the body as vehicle of experience and more, not just intermediary, but essential to experience. Without Body, we are thought and spirit with the theory of living only. Bringing awareness to Eros is to celebrate and acknowledge the body for giving us what our minds and spirits can't - proof positive that what we think/believe is true, actually is, in the limited space of our bodies, actually true. And by true, I mean experienced and shared.

This concept of Objective Truth I find slippery these days, a different sort of vocabulary than the one I'm using now. Again because of the division created between Objective and Subjective, Male and Female, Light and Dark, Right and Wrong. The alignments are too easily made, habitually made and for now, left alone.

****

And I think of the bodies of the Filipino comfort women and the bodies of those who fight to have their experiences acknowledged and recognized. How genocide is about taking away the bodies, taking away the evidence of violence, taking away the price paid for the riches of colonization. How the body remembers and if you take away the body, then there is no evidence of crime, and if there is no evidence, then there is no memory, and if there is no memory then there was no crime. But the body remembers, the body of the earth, the body of the blood, the body of the genetics, the body of social thought and social structure, and so there is no erasure, no sure erasure, only the bending of perspective, the revision of history.

****

Leny is asked to account for the lack of sexuality discussions in decolonization, to account for sexual abuse and deviation as an expert witness, to account for the disconnection and disease of sexual abuse among 'her' people. As if any one body can account for a People.

I wrote to her about decolonizing sexuality:

Releasing shame and seeing it as a social contruction is the easiest, the tip of the iceberg, but one that requires constant meditation. We are habituated to shame, both as colonized and colonizer. Then there is the possiblity of viewing the person as whole, as mind and spirit moving in life through the body, listening to what the body teaches through experience rather than trying to control experience by limiting the body beyond simple safety measures. Being with the body as record keeper and fortune teller. Being honest with the body's revelations about our habits, fears, strengths by being present with the Body.

This all brings about spiritual rememberances - the Church as Body, the Body of Christ, a body of people, a body of work, somebody, nobody, we are the body - movement, change, revelation, experience. The basis for the analysis of Eros, then can apply to all these spaces. The question, the becomes, how to we provide space for our selves and most especially for each other to do that work, to allow those experiences to come forward, to allow the unique work of each body to come to fruition.


****

There is more... more in my body to speak of, the stories of experiences with broken hearts, broken bodies, lost bodies, grieving bodies, new bodies, aging bodies, mythic bodies, bodies of work, somebodys, nobodys...

but bodies live /in/ time, and time slips quickly or perhaps I move slowly, and in any case, there has not been enough time to process it all, the loss, the cherished moments, the growth, the setbacks. But these things, Eros, Bodies, Power, Weakness, Strength, Beauty, Life, Death, Change, Growth, all touch what I'm writing about, when I'm writing, which these days isn't much and my body feels it, yearns for it, but there's this busy-ness of living which requires the body, requires the attention, requires the compassion.

So I live as Eros requires, for I am not eager to greet Thanatos as much as I may have been in earlier days, and for that, I am grateful.

Guardians of Copyright

I'm elsewhere... writing... living... thinking... and not necessarily in that order. More, hopefully, sooner than later.

In the meantime, for your amuse/bemusement:



This says it even better:

People Who Owned the Bible - A Story

(which, in MHO, is actually a parable... or teaching fable... but you'll get the gist...)

7/02/2007

Things That Matter



Measure S. 1315, "Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007"

The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports: "Equity provisions for Filipino vets were included in the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, which was passed out of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs yesterday (6/27/2007), Hawaii's senators announced yesterday....Roughly 120,000 Filipinos were drafted in 1941 to serve alongside U.S. forces in defending the Philippines -- an American commonwealth at the time -- during World War II. Those Filipinos were promised the same veterans' benefits as American servicemen, but Congress rescinded the pledge in 1946, when the Philippines gained independence."

It's been a long struggle to gain the promised benefits to these vets. Many have passed on. Many children and grandchildren still work to gain recognition for their fathers and grandfathers. About 18,000 vets still live, wait, hope, pray that the right thing will be done. I hope the wait will be over soon.

****

House Resolution 121 passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2007

House Speaker Pelosi states: "Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee made a strong statement in support of human rights by passing a resolution in support of the comfort women, who were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces during the World War II era...Out of 200,000 women that were exploited as comfort women by the Japanese Imperial Army, only a few hundred are still alive. This resolution calls on the government of Japan to accept responsibility for the coercion of young women into sexual slavery during the war by making an unambiguous statement of apology."

A significant step forward for this movement to gain recognition and reparations for this group of women who have suffered so much for such a long time. I am hopeful that this means we are becoming a society that will not tolerate the abuse of civilians, especially women and children, during time of war.

****

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.

"From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

I would have liked to have seen him at his June 25 speech to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. I hear that the audience was packed and that Taguba does not see himself as a hero, just a soldier who got fired for doing his job.

Angry. Frustrated. Jaded. These words do not begin to describe how I feel about this, especially given today's news of Scooter's Escape

****

Roy was a friend who believed in smiling, in encouraging others, in community. He's gone now. We know he is gone. And we, the living, are left to remember.

****

Finally, this small thing...

100 Poets @ Greenlake

From the Poetess of Greenlake: "Here they are, the poems (by 100 local living authors) printed on t-shirts and put onto unsuspecting runners running around Green Lake (Seattle, WA) on Sunday 10 June 2007."

My hay(na)ku, Charm Against Headaches, ran around (or was run around?) Greenlake, one of my childhood haunts. Hanging with 99 other NW poets, even from T-shirts, is a cool, cool thing.

7/01/2007

Link Roundup

After a few weeks of being away from the blog, I'm finding it difficult to get back into it, finding it difficult to write anything more than emails to friends. It's a reentry problem, one I'm familiar with, so I'm working it through tonight by reviewing my blog links from my sidebar. Connecting with my online community helps me feel connected, a very necessary part of my writing...

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This will have the side effect, though, of totally messing with my blog stats as I go back and forth between the blog and my links.

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Kelli mentions reading on a blog the suggestion that there are no American Poets and she proposes that perhaps what we need is a reality show to make poets more visible. I like the idea of "So You Think You Can Write," although the Atwood/Duhamel/Hickok panel doesn't sound quite as intense as Cowell/Abdul/Jackson...we'd need a good screamer like Mary Moore and an avante garde poet who no one 'gets' to fill in the space for Maya...

The promotion of poet performers though would be a good thing.

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Dean speaks fondly once again of daughter Sage and her ability to cut through to the heart of the matter. Life as layered complexity.

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Like Ivy I feel as if I am waiting for something...although I think in my case, I'm waiting for myself... to show up for the page.

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Okay... I'm not sure what happened to Rick Barot, but his link goes to a strange blog by Lloyd that appears to be a travel advertisement or something. But is also could be a poetry installation that I somehow missed the intro for.

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Kim also seems to be having difficulty with words and writes her own meme...

1) Yep, I modeled for a figure class back-in-the-day too... hopefully the sketches of me have been torn up, doused in gas, and duly burned....

4) I cry over dance movies too, the latest was Stomp the Yard and my all time tear jerker is Strictly Ballroom...which I see was a Baz Luhrmann flick, reminding me of course of the other tear jerker Moulin Rouge! for the dancing, the music, and the gorgeous energy of Kidman/McGregor.

8) Hair clogs? Hair anything doesn't sound appealing and clogs made of hair sounds... yeah, gross...

9) "The only little Asian in Montana learning to throw the tomahawk" *blink*
*LOL*...okay... yah, truth to tell, I've thrown an axe at a hunk of wood before, but it was at an event called the Brunwulf Olympics and I was dressed in a 9th century Scottish chiton and it was a Scandinavian throwing axe...but I was the only Asian throwing that year... I think I was the only Asian onsite that year. Oh, and let's not forget, the event was in North Idaho.

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Michelle and I are Myrna Loy doubles, although her stats are a bit stronger than mine

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Hard-hitting Barbara Jane does her own link roundup of sorts, pointing to the comments of Marianne Villanueva and Cecilia Brainard. BJ reiterates her vision of Filipino Lit

I am interested in seeing work published that does not limit itself to the narrative tropes of identity and cultural pride. I imagine "riskier" work, formalistically and linguistically challenging work, precisely crafted and well-contained work, genre boundary pushing work, writings examining such taboo or touchy subjects as, for example, sexuality, sexual abuse, domestic abuse. As well, I'd be interested in seeing work in speculative fiction, excerpts of novels in progress, essays on writing process, critical book reviews.

A high bar to set, but she's out there doing it, as are so many other FilAm writers, and the shift is palpable. We are finally moving away from apologetics writing and into an activist art which broadens rather than constricts.

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Nick shares travel pix... me, jealous? Absolutely.

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Finally... at least for tonight... Filipino Tsismis provides a couple of great links:

Vangie Buell, author of 25 Chickens and a Pig for a Bride: Growing up in a Filipino Immigrant Family, has that sense of preserving history that resonates with my recent work. I'm not surprised to see she's involved with FANHS. Another book to put on my To Get list. (I really need to finish my Bought but Not Yet Read list first - I've /got/ to.)

Barriors looks pretty cool, just off the block, really, but potentially hard hitting. It's got that great cross-over potential too between panel comics and animated strip.

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I think the biggest obstacle for me now is that life has been coming at me very fast and it spaces different from where my writing projects were outlined to take me. There's that sense of separation from my 'real life' and my 'working life' and not just the work that I do at my 8-5 job, but also the work of family caretaking. There shouldn't logically be a difference, but it's there, in my mind, nonetheless.

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Midnight plus six minutes. Time to sleep.

6/18/2007

Triolet

"We knew that it would soon be over, and so we put it all into a poem, to tell the universe who we were, and why we were here, and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for. We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable. Then we sent the poem as a pattern of flux, to wait in the heart of a star, beaming out its message in pulses and bursts and fuzzes across the electromagnetic spectrum, until the time when, on worlds a thousand sun systems distant, the pattern would be decoded and read, and it would become a poem once again.” -- Triolet in Neil Gaiman's Hugo award winning How to Talk to Girls at Parties

6/17/2007

Updates

Like Ver and Gladys, I feel somewhat compelled to say "Yep, I'm still breathing. Just focused elsewhere."

I'm on a bit of a break this weekend from being with my mom who went through open heart surgery this week. She's recovering slowly but surely and I'll go back next week to help with her transition back home. I'm still working on framing the experience, but there have been some interesting encounters at the hospital I want to write about.

My one big concern now is that I've been set back on the paper I've been writing for anthology...I have no idea if I'll be able to pull an eleventh hour on it. But there's not much that can be done. The best I can do most days between vitals checks, meals, and physical therapy with Mom is sending emails to folks on her conditions and reading blogs.

Some of the momentum I'd gathered, though, in the past few weeks is still rolling. I've been asked to join the editorial staff at Haruah: Breath of Heaven" where I'll be shepherding the memoir section of the journal. I'm hoping to help them define inspirational/spiritual memoir a bit differently to help submitters understand what we're looking for.

I've also had requests for creative work, some old, some new, so that's exciting too. Pictures from the Running Poets of Greenlake installation will hopefully be online soon. I saw a few of pix recently and I hope mine ended up on the back of the cute baby *grin*

The early edits on the novel look really good, so I've dispatched the entire 'scrip to the editor in the hopes of really whipping the thing into shape. I'm toying with the possibility of converting it to YA, but that will mean making a few changes to characters which might be tricky.

Telling has taken a back burner since I had to miss out on two performances this last week. I did hear, though, that the storytelling class that had been observing the Fireside performances have provided feedback that should be helpful and recently a Master Teller indicated interest in helping me expand my techniques. I'll have to send him footage of my performances, though, and that's a bit nerve wracking. Performing I don't mind much, but the videotaping makes me really nervous. Bad childhood memories, I think.

The on-again-off-again Quest to Learn About My Grandfather as a Philippine Scout is on-again with the discovery of a man in California who remembers him and has given me the next lead in my quest. That dovetails into the Indipinoy interviews and the discovery that my uncle, the quiet one, was a guerrilla fighter during WWII and still has the shrapnel in his head to prove it.

Grant searching, to fund all this wonderfulness, has taken backburner, so for now I'm still juggling the 8-5 job and the mommying. Summer really doesn't change much to our schedule since they'll be at camps all summer and I'm planning on subjecting them to some sort of homework in the evenings to help them retain their skills.

So... yeah... it's been weird, but good, so I'm choosing to focus on the good and really I have many things to be thankful for.

6/15/2007

Support McSweeney's

Just learned from Gaiman's blog that McSweeneys is having a big sale and auction to help offset the loss of income when their distributor filed bankruptcy last December.

Info on it here

I'm passing the word around to all who have enjoyed McSweeney's over the years and feel compelled to help.

Thanks!

5/30/2007

The Power of Yes

My ol' (not really /old/ so much as from 'long ago') grad advisor Carol Guess sent me a note the other day telling me about The Running Poets of Greenlake. Intrigued by Allin's poetic enthusiasm and inspired by Eileen's ever-present idea that poetry and life are intertwined, I submitted a haynaku for her consideration.

Allin replied:

fantastic
thank you for your poem!!


I admit to blinking a bit, then emailing her again, asking for her to let me know if my poem was going to be on a runner's chest in a few days, to which she replied:

the idea is not to selectively send our poets to the public
but to enthusiastically send our poets to the public
i'm getting wonderful poems
& i'm taking them all
i need 100
each by a different local living author
i'll print your poem exctly as you sent it
thanks for participating
event starts just after 9am on sunday 10 june
in my meadow near the shell gas station
details and pictures will appear when the time is right at:
Poetess at Greenlake
best


I swear, it was like Galatea herself was being channeled... I'm really not used to this, but I have to admit, I'm enjoying the Power of Yes very much.

So, if there are any NW Washington poets reading this, I hope you'll give the Amanda's project a whirl.

In the meantime, I'm trying to not think too hard on the fact that my poem will likely get more exercise than I that day.

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Addendum: Greenlake was one of my favorite summer places-to-go. My aunt and uncle still live near the lake and as a kid, my family and extended family would celebrate 4th of July at their house, take our bikes to the lake and pedal around, dream about renting a paddle boat and finally set foot on the island near the center of the lake, then park our blankets out on the lawn to wait for the fireworks. After the show, we'd tumble back, sleepy-eyed and wrapped in said blankets, back to Auntie's house for a quick bathroom run before piling back into the car for a late night drive back home. I think once or twice we cousins got to sleep over at their house - it's hard to remember, since, once the fireworks were over, I was pretty much unconscious until morning.

I'm hoping to make the installation next week since we'll be down there for Pagdiriwang but it will mean coordinating my folks, Mass, and time with my best friend from High School.

*chuckle* Basically, The Usual(tm)

5/28/2007

QOTD

(Salman) Rushdie on the social responsibilities of the artist: S/he has none. To answer to society's demands is to concede that your art can be owned, and nobody owns art. It is the unique vision of the individual artist, and the point about being an artist is that nobody owns you. Art wants to rebel, and to be irreverent. Art opens the universe up, drives all the way to the very edges of our cultural frontiers, and it pushes the boundaries outward, in order to expand the sum total of all we think and feel and comprehend. Art broadens the frames of reference in which we live and operate. It cannot do these things while abiding by societally defined sets of rules, restrictions, and expectations, that is, while consenting to these impositions. --from Barbara Jane

To which DH responded: Ah, that’s wonderful. Remember when, no matter the weather, we’d just get in the truck and drive? Pick a direction and go see what was there or see what had changed since our list foray that way?

It sounds to me as if Rushdie is describing the same impetus and the same…conciousness without external restrictions.

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Wil Wheaton expressed something similar recently.

To borrow a phrase from Joel Hodgeson, the creator of MST3K: don't ask yourself, "Will anyone get this?" Instead, tell yourself, "The right people will get this."

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Which is also to acknowledge that some people /won't/ get what I write, and I acknowledge that I often don't get what other's write either.

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Finally, represenatation and authenticity:

"...We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves. " – Langston Hughes

He Who Eats At Taco Trucks

Francisco was my Town Car driver when I was in SF last month, the trip a gift from my hubby and co-workers to celebrate my first official poetic excursion. It still amazes me that so many threw in to make sure I got to the California College of Arts from the airport with such ease.

The simplicity of it felt so decadent, took me into a space of more well-heeled artists, that I both felt humbled by the privilege as well as self-conscious about the automatic hierarchy created by the act of generosity. I met Francisco in the baggage claim area, my last name scrawled in black pen on a stiff card. He was taller and a bit older than I, and although he knew my name, never offered his own, not until the very end of the trip when I asked him directly. He wore a dark blue polyester suit and white shirt, classically dressed as a luxury car driver. As we waited for Horizon to disgorge my luggage, we chatted lightly.

He asked if I did this sort of thing much and I laughed and shook my head. His presence was a gift and this trip the end of a long chain of events, a general willingness to say Yes at the right times. There was that distinctiveness about him, that echo I pick up every once in awhile from people I am certain are not only Filipino in ancestry but also US born like myself. My friends speak of gaydar where they can spot someone GLBT from across the room and it's much like that. Fil-dar? *shakes head* I'll have to think about an appropriate compressed term for it... pinoydar?

I've been picked up by other Filipinos the same way, but Firsts seem to have a broader sense of it, startled usually by the first words that come from my mouth, betraying that I am not altogether like them. Instead someone 'diluted' by my 'foreign' birth. Then comes either the drawing back or the pity for being someone without the language or physical memory of the Philippines. An object of longing one moment, then objectionable the next.

It's different, though, finding US-borns. There's that Filipinoness, but also that untetheredness, that singular sense of loss of something that was never really possessed in the first place. Francisco had that feel, familiar in a dual toned way that comes of having genetic ties one place and cultural ties another.

He was hapa, EuroFilipino, with the added experience of having been fostered to a family far from his birth state of California. When he grew to majority he headed back to SF to be closer to his mother, and at least learn something about his European side. Somehow, though, he also learned about his father's side, and traveled to the barrio where he met his father's family, I think in the Visayas. They were concerned about him at first, guarded around him, and he wondered if it was because he was a bit of their past intruding into their present. In a sense, this was the case, because it turned out they were afraid he would lay claim to his father's share of the plantation lands.

His father had been something of the black sheep of the family, leaving them perhaps in anger, perhaps in frustration. The leaving of Pinoys pre-1965 I've found are different than post-1965 with it's more political coloring...there is this sense of leaving a backward place to begin again in the West where opportunity outstrips family obligation.

Once he'd made clear that he didn't want the land, Francisco was welcomed fully and he was asked to visit again soon.

Stateside, he's a towncar driver and photographer and as we wandered the backstreets of the fashion district searching for the college, he gave me tips on taking pictures. He seemed flustered that he was unable to find the college, the streets abruptly dead-ending or merging into other streets unexpectedly. As we backtracked along one street, I spied a taco truck and asked him if taco trucks in SF sold pupusas. A pang of homesickness, really, another manifestation of my unease of being driven around in a sleek, black town car by a person hired to do so.

He answered my query absently, saying that some of the trucks had Salvadoran food and there were some good pupusas to be had along his more regular routes. Then he stalled slightly, backtracking in his mind.

"You know about taco trucks?" he said, disbelief mixed with admiration. I guessed that in his mind, poets who ride town cars to colleges don't usually know what taco trucks are, let alone eat at them.

I admitted it had been a while, but that seeing one there parked on a side street made me a bit hungry for them. He hesitated, turned a corner, and we spotted the college.

"I eat at them when I can," he replied. "There are great ones in the Market district. If we had time, I'd take you to my favorite one."

And if we were in a movie, I would have said Sure, let's go! And we would have had one of those Pretty Woman moments, chatting over pupusas, sour cream and rice dripping from our burdened plates.

Instead, we pulled up at the college and he obligingly took my picture to let my friends know that I'd ridden the car they'd ordered for me and arrived at my destination safely. We slid past so many social conventions, expected roles, levels of social propriety and back again, it was a bit dizzying to consider. In the end, though, with my two rolling cases in tow (I gave a whole new definition to Bag Lady that trip), I finally asked...

"What was your first name again? I've such a bad memory..."

"I didn't tell you my first name," he replied, and I recalled that he'd only given his family name. "It's Francisco."

And I smiled and shook his hand in thanks. Usually, between Filipinos, there is an intimacy that happens over a shared meal. We didn't have pupusas together, but we know each other's first names and perhaps for us, it was good enough to be the same thing.

Later this week, I hope to find time to swing by Super Marios with one of my coworkers and we'll toast pupusas to Francisco and the ties that connect us.

5/22/2007

When Writers Write

The sixth issue of Galatea Resurrects is now online. The Golden Keeper of the Keys lists the bounty of this issue's harvest.

For this issue, I had the opportunity to review the book and DVD set Kool Logic/La logical Kool by Urayoan Noel. Noel is a New Beat poet with a keen eye for cultural criticism and a sharp wit.

Patrick Rosal's Uprock Headscramble and Dive and American Kundiman are both reviewed as are Ivy Alvarez's Mortal not once but twice in addition to A Slice of Cherry Pie.

So many good books and book reviews to read!

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I keep meaning to write more about my SF trip, but I'm in the throes of completing a paper on Storytelling as an act of decolonization. Late into the process I realized that the coolest thing would be to not just draw on my own limited experience, but to interview other Tellers of Filipino heritage. So then it was a matter of scheduling interviews and doing them... which is where I'm at. *whew* Good stuff. Even the short pre-interview I did with Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo showed that Telling is a very conscious art seeking to reconnect and renarrate with lost heritage. I'll be chatting with him tonight via my New Nifty Technology and then it will be a matter of pulling nice, juicy quotes from the recorded transcript.

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Last weekend was incredible, though - what started as a simple day trip to celebrate a nephew's birthday turned into an opportunity to meet the commander of the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts whom my grandfather served during WWII (yep, he's still alive and kicking, even at age 90) as well as an elder vet who served in Company E, yet knew my grandfather during war time (Lolo was in Company A). He asked me to /email/ him and he'd tell me all about my grandfather! All this wonderfulness happened because my best friend from high school sent me an email saying "Are you going to this event?" which turned out to be the National conference for the society.

So much to share about that event too... but also for later.

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Just this last thing - I realized recently that poetry is about the tension between the effable and the ineffable, the conjunction of form and un-formed.

Thank you Eileen and kari edwards for this gift of insight.