Saturday, January 28, 2006

Eight Quick Hits or I Love Lists

1. Work is kicking my ass. We have a big presentation with one of our main funders next week for renewal funding and a proposal deadline Friday (I like to be an overachieving, overprepared girl so the fact that I'm not already prepped or done with both of these things stresses me out. Trying to learn that not being an overachiever is okay. Breathing.) Also, on the conference front (yes, I'm working two jobs right now!), things are going well, but also hectic; got a zillion emails coming in and going out. But I think it's all under control. End of February is my big deadline---most of the heavy lifting for the conference program will be nearly done by then.

2. Reading Where a Nickel Costs a Dime by Willie Perdomo as part of my poetry-collection-a-month activity. Been peeking at Asha Bandele's Absence in the Palms of My Hands, which I've read before, but not in its entirety. Also half-way through Saul Williams ...Said the Shotgun to the Head. Still have Nin, Hemingway (pretty boring, if you asked me) and Chandler on my reading list. Feeling a big scattered reading-wise lately, but that's cool.

3. Feeling pretty much better now although my tinnitus is acting up now and then. It hasn't acted up like this in at least six months, so it's a bit strange.

4. Went to kali women's class last night for the first time--come to think of it, that was the first kali I'd done in about six months. Not feeling sore, although I expect to have a couple small bruises thanks to Tuhan's pressure points demonstrations.

5. Been listening a bit to the furor over the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court. Have to admit I'm a bit desensitized by these constant offensives by the Right. Got to pick my battles, although I'm sure I signed a petition or sent an email to Feinstein on this one, at least. This is a huge nomination, one that will affect interpretation of law, women's rights, how racial discrimination (or anything having to do with race) and sexual harassment cases are dealt with in this country. Frightening.

6. Related to 5: An interesting column by Mark Morford in the Chronicle connecting the Alito nomination to my current favorite flick, Brokeback Mountain. I like the Buddhist-influenced rhetoric near the end of the piece.

7. Taking a break from the novel to get some fresh perspective on it before I dive back in for serious revisions. Just signed up for novel writing class that starts in March. Need more structure and supports for the long stretch of rewrites ahead.

8. Last but definitely not least: the World Social Forum wrapped up in Venezuela, with President Hugo Chavez (my favorite politician of the moment, with Evo Morales a distant second (just 'cuz I don't know a lot about him) calling for the world to 'transcend capitalism'. Can you see why I love this guy?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Because It's Fun and...

...also becuase I'm trying to come down from a particularly energizing evening. Thanks to Efren for the idea.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
-Development Director of a social justice nonprofit
-Executive Director of a youth consortium
-Bead store salesperson
-Cutco knife salesperson

Four movies you could watch over and over:
-Lackawanna Blues
-Brokeback Mountain
-The Empire Strikes Back
-The Godfather, Parts I & II

Four places you've lived:
-Alameda, CA
-San Francisco

Four TV shows you love to watch:
-America's Next Top Model (my favorite, although this last cycle was a BIG disapppointment at the end)
-The Sopranos
-Will & Grace
-Any Lidia Bastianich cooking show

Four places you've been on vacation:
-Joshua Tree
-Camping in the redwood forests up north
(Wow, I haven't been on vacation much. Most of my travel has been work-related. Kinda sad.)

Four websites you visit daily:
-my blog
-my email (I don't like reading stuff online!)

Four of your favorite foods:
-Fried chicken
-Well-made Italian pasta dishes
-Sheep's or goat's milk cheeses (with a nicely paired wine)
-Tomatoes in many variations (but not ketchup!)

Four places you'd rather be:
-Sunbathing with my honey on a beach in Hawaii or the Philippines
-Getting a mudbath with one of my girls in Calistoga
-Hiking with a good friend on Mount Tamalpais
-Writing my novel in a secluded retreat house

Four albums you can't live without:
-La India/Llego La India
-Stevie Wonder/Songs in the Key of Life
-Donny Hathaway/These Songs for You
-Los Van Van/Greatest Hits

Four magazines you read:
-Yoga Journal
-Marie Claire
-Harper's (sometimes)
-Poets & Writers

Three cars you've owned:
-only one: a 1983 Subaru GLF. And I don't think it was even in my name, but my parents'!

And It's Just the Beginning...

This is already 'old' news by Hollywood standards, but what can I say, I don't live for watching awards shows or 'Entertainment Tonight', ok?

Brokeback Mountain won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes. I think I'm most happy about Ang Lee winning for Best Director. I feel a peculiar satisfaction knowing that an Asian man made that film.

The Oscars are just a couple months away. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Recovering: A Balancing Act

Trying to get better from my sudden flu, but trying to get some work done. Some good news, I finished the second draft of my sci-fi novel, which is very exciting! It's still far from done, but I'm one step closer to being finished. It feels great. I thought I wouldn't finish until the end of this month, but when I was working on it yesterday morning I realized that all the scenes I thought were unfinished had a beginning, middle and end--finished enough for now! Now I've got to really pull it together tight and work on polishing it to a shine.

Work is so crazy lately, I've started to think about late at night in bed and when I wake up first thing in the morning. Bleck. This is what it felt like when I was an Executive Director a couple years ago. At least now, I'm 'only' a Development Director, and of a much healthier, supportive organization. I think my meditation cushion and I need to spend some quality time together...

Wobbling but still standing--

Monday, January 16, 2006


Well, leave it to my high-fat and high-cholesterol diet of the last few days to put me where I've probably needed to be for the last few weeks: home/sick. I've been longing to have the time to just stay home, avoid the cold weather outside, and chill, and illness is always one way to do that.

I'm bummed though, that this means I won't see my good friend A. until Saturday, and that I won't be able to take my (nearly weekly) trip to H&M with H. and M. (really! those are my friends' initials!), but it's all good. I've been driving my body to its outer limits these last few weeks since New Year's Day, working intensely and at a hectic pace--although I did make my big grant deadline on Jan. 9th, which was pretty amazing, considering we only started working on that proposal less than a week before winter break.

Being home/sick, though, gives me a chance to catch up on a bit of blog-reading, novel-writing, and other bedridden activities. I'm reading parts of The Diary of Anais Nin (Vol. II), as well as Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, both partially in preparation for my first-ever visit to Europe (including a stay in Paris, which I'm very excited about) that's coming up soon.

And, of course, there is rest. I will be a good girl and get some. Promise.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Small, small world: Another Buddhist Pin@y

Been meaning to post this for a while, but my previous post on Buddhism in the Philippines and a quick visit to Jean's Wild Radish blog finally prompted me. Funny, iSang also met someone I know from the community, Maiana Minahal, at a Deer Park retreat. I was supposed to be at that retreat, but changed my mind at the last minute. Hope to go next year if they do it again. It's Thich Nhat Hanh's Colors of Compassion retreat.

Buddhism in the Philippines

This is great. Wikipedia is great. Thanks Jean, via her new Wild Radish blog for the ref.

I've been studying Buddhism off and on, and trying to practice it off and on, for the past two-and-a-half years. It has brought me more peace, equanimity and joy than many, many (don't ask how many!) years of Roman Catholic church-going and endless prayers to saints, etc. have. Not that I diss the saints or even the Virgin Mary or Jesus. They are all on my altar or on the walls of my house (Mary Magdalen is one of my favorites, and if you've never read the gospel that is attributed to her--yes! a gospel attributed to a woman!--do pick it up). It's the church that is so often lacking in real spiritual depth, in accessibility and responsive to the people it is trying to serve, that always left me feeling dissatifisfied, a little lost, and very pessimistic about the possibility of happiness within this lifetime.

Buddhism has taught me that peace and happiness are within us, all the time, and that our minds and the conditions that we have created in our own lives and habits keep us from experiencing that innate happiness. I've discovered pure bliss just sitting in meditation for thirty minutes! How cool is that? Now, if only I could get to enlightenment....

So I'm glad that Jean found this info about Buddhism in the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic and otherwise Christian nation. Gives me hope that when I finally do visit the homeland, I might be able to find some refuge in a sangha where everyone looks like me. Ah, now that would be nice.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fun as a Necessity

I had a blast last night hamming it up on stage, running away like a cowardly superhero from Caroline/Point Blank's Kali stick (she does wield a mean stick and it'd been a while since I did an unchoreographed martial arts demo), reassuring Dennis/Allegorical about his poetic talent. The Chatelaine graced us with her presence and we all witness Rhett/Tatang's great acting debut as Blockhead, who wields a writer's-block inducing gun in a diabolical attempt to stop creativity from flowing. Thanks Michele/Gura/The Muse (fo' real!) for the opportunity to have some fun on stage.

When M. asked me to be in her short, 10-minute play for last night's SPT Poets Theater, I was a little hesitant. The first quarter of this year is just HECTIC for me--work at CFJ, work on this, my writing, and just trying to stay healthy and sane and balanced--and I was reluctant to take on another (albeit quite temporary) commitment. But I've been thinking about acting as another possible mode of creative expression for myself, and said 'yes'.

I knew this would be a low-pressure gig, barely any rehearsal and I wouldn't have to memorize my lines (although I did anyway, what can I say, I'm a perfectionist Capricorn), which would mean I could just have fun with it. And having good, clean fun, I've realized the hard way, is just as important as rest or a healthy diet or getting exercise. It made me feel damn good, alive in a way that my work and my writing (as much as I love them both and am driven to do them both well) just can't.

After the play, we all went to dinner at Eliza's for Rhett's and his brother's birthdays. Yummy, well-presented Hunan and Mandarin food, including ostrich with mango, sunflower seed chicken, thick, saucy chow mein, and the best peking duck I've had in years. I'm hoping that R. will post the pics we took of the food so I can relive the experience.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Good Clean Fun

What fun tech rehearsal was tonite for 'The Laureate', Michelle Bautista's (aka Gura's) short play that will be performed tomorrow night at this. Here's a quick preview pic. Come through if you can and see how fun defending poetic innovation can be.

(Just in case you can't tell, the 'masked', toygun-toting 'superhero' in the middle is me as 'The Laureate'.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pointing Out the Obvious

Is something I try to avoid doing, but it felt weird not to somehow acknowledge the fact that I'd changed my blog template. With all the rain and storming happening in these parts lately, I needed some light. Artificial or no, I'll take it.

And maybe something not-so-obvious: I've added an 'Upcoming and Recent Sightings' section to my sidebar with info about where to find my words or performances. This Friday, I have the pleasure of performing in Small Press Traffic's Poets Theater Jamboree with Rhett Pascual, fellow Kalista Caroline King, and poet Dennis Somera in Michelle Bautista's play, "The Laureate", appearing as the title character (as in 'poet laureate', get it?), which is ironic given my recent post about shying away from any appropriation of the term 'poet' to describe myself.

Is the universe trying to tell me something in offering me this role? Is there a reason why poetry has been appealing to me more lately, why I find myself drawn to verse (although I doubt I'd ever abandon prose)? Maybe. But I'm just gonna have fun with the role and try to put on a good crowd-pleasing show.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Productive Procrastination

I'm sitting in a cafe, letting myself be distracted by free wifi and my blog when I should be working on my novel. I'll get back to it in a minute, but thought I'd satisfy my blog-itch by posting my honey's soon-to-be-finished portfolio site, Frequency Shift. I know I'm biased, but his work has garnered much positive attention and feedback from others who are less so. Check it. And feel free throw some work his way if you've got some, although I think he's booked up for the month of January.

Now back to the wilds of the (fictional) Brune pass...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Best Review of 'Brokeback' I've Read

Since I'm too busy to post my own stellar review, here's Jim Emerson's, via Roger Ebert's site.

I totally agree with Emerson's critique of 'provincial' big-city 'sophisticates' who are accusing the film of being 'closeted.' It is so clear if you watch this film that Ang Lee was not out to make a political statement. But by not focusing on the political statement, he made such a political powerful film about gayness and homophobia and our society's violent repression of gay love that even the right wing doesn't know what to do with it. The Catholic Church even initially gave 'Brokeback' only its 2nd-highest 'offensive' rating, only to be forced to switch to the highest offensive rating after zealouts complained.

This film is political art of the highest degree by virtue of the fact that it wasn't trying to be political. This is the tension I struggle with in my own writing and living. How to balance the need for real change in our world, policy change, political change, with the need for real stories, honesty, beauty, art?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So Much for New Year Blog Theme

Sorry, folks, for making a big to-do about a new blog theme and then posting nothing for days. Work's taken over my life these days. Big deadline on Monday, then three more in rapid succession to follow right after that. Through it all, trying to 'touch' my novel everyday, hoping to have the next draft finished by the end of the month. (!) Very exciting. But then will have a lot of work on my hands, combing through the big, messy, tangled threads of the thing, this massive literary undertaking that I've claimed as my writerly work for the next year at the very least.

Poetry's been coming to, through, me lately too, which is always strange. Even when most of what I was writing was poetry--back in my college and immediate-post-college days--I never really considered myself a poet. That word seemed to be reserved for people far more driven by the word than I, and far more self-centered. Sorry to all the poets out there, but gotta keep it real! I'm probably just jealous, right? There may be some truth to that. I'll keep it real, like dat, yo.

So maybe sometime after next Monday I'll find some time and energy to write about Brokeback Mountain, which has been in my mind on a daily since I saw it a couple weeks ago. Also read the short story--bought the paperback, but the hardcover copy costs $14.95! for a frickin' short story! I liked the movie better, more detail and emotion. The story seemed to skate over some of the more charged scenes and subplots as if afraid to delve too deeply. It would have been interesting to read this story as a novel. I think it could have taken over that large of a literary space.

Okay, enough rambling for now. I'm going to treat myself to a quiet evening of reading. Just started reading Hemingway for the first time--can you believe it? Recently finished Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn as well as Voodoo Dreams by Jewell Parker Rhodes. (Yes, dreams are a theme in my novel). I've been making my list of books to read in 2006, and of course there are too many and I don't think I'll be able to finish it, but who cares? I've also committed to reading one poetry collection a month, which will be a first for me.

Also saw Walk the Line last night. It was decent. Hopefully I'll blog more about it later, especially in comparison to Ray.

Wish me luck meeting all my deadlines--

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, New Blog Theme

Or just a theme, since I never really had one before, for my blog. Been feeling the need to give my blog more focus, so that it's not so random (although I do like the randomness of it sometimes, I wonder if you, dear reader, do?). Looking back on the past year and a half or so of my blog, I think some of my best entries intertwined my reflection on two of my favorite topics: art and politics. So that's what my blog will focus on from now on (at least until I get bored): art & politics, the intersections thereof, and what we can learn from particularly stellar examples of political art or artistic politics (hm, that doesn't quite sound right, does it? Politics can be creative, though, I swear!). And while I maintain that art and politics have very distinct functions in our lives and our world and don't believe in social realist propaganda as 'art', I also think that art can have a political function whether its creator(s) intend it to or not, and that function can range from sparking interesting cafe conversations between strangers to launching whole new social movements that transform society on many levels (can anyone say hip hop?).

My first example is THE BEST MOVIE of the year. I'm going to blog about this more later, but if you haven't gone already, you NEED to go see Brokeback Mountain, the so-called 'gay cowboy' movie directed by Ang Lee and starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. It's a gorgeous, haunting, sensual film, folks, so bring some hankies and a non-homophobic person to accompany you.

Happy new year!