Monday, February 27, 2006

State of Emergency

I had an anxiety dream about this the other night, imagining that people I knew were going to be arrested randomly, for no reason. I'm glad that Priscilla has returned safely from the Philippines, but I am worried, nervous, stressed-out about the escalating drama that continues there.

Gura posts about it, as does Chatelaine. I've found some cool posts via Blogger, like this one, and feeling grateful for technology and independent media. I've been checking the The Philippine Daily Inquirer every few hours for the latest updates. It's a messy, violent, confusing situation out there. My homegirl M. is getting updates from the provinces that things are still calm, that in Manila is where the turmoil is. Right-wingers, leftist militants, poor folks, students, workers--it seems like everyone, anyone is the target for GMA's cold wrath.

And then I remember that I had planned to go to the Philippines for the first time ever this coming December, and I think, "Will I ever get to go?" But even if I haven't been there, I feel like a part of me is there, itching to march in the streets, daring the dictator to shut down the will of the people.

And it doesn't help that there won't be a new Octavia Butler book again, ever.

Moody blue,

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Death of a Master

I am in shock. I just heard from a friend (and fellow fan) that Octavia Butler, one of my favorite writers, has just died. She fell outside her home and suffered a fatal concussion, possibly during a stroke.

This is too much. I am breathing, just trying to take it in, letting myself weep. I just saw her read a few months ago at Marcus Books in Oakland. She was promoting her new book, Fledgling, about a genetically engineered Black female vampire. It's her first book in seven years, her first book since the highly acclaimed and successful 'Parable' series.

I had only discovered her work a couple years ago, on the suggestion of many people who are much bigger sci-fi/fantasy fans than I am. I can't believe she's gone. She was only 58 years old.

For any rumor-hounds out there who think this may be a hoax (I thought it might be one, too, a cruel one) one of the writers from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America called the King County coroner's office to confirm the unofficial report. It's true. One of the greatest science fiction writers of all time is gone.

If anyone who reads this has any news of a memorial for Octavia in the Bay Area, please post a comment and let me know. I'm sure I won't be alone in wanting to honor this amazing woman.

Rest in peace and power, ancestor Octavia. We will miss you dearly.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Grim Report

News of the mudslide in Leyte, in the Philippines. I'm struck again at how natural disasters in the Third World are often so much more devastating than they are in the First because of poverty and lack of infrastructure. And how there is still a 'Third World Within' the First world, as witnessed during the Katrina catastrophe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Warming Our Home and Other Post-Valentine's Day Thoughts

On Sunday, H. and I held our housewarming for our not-so-new apartment (some loyal readers will recall that we moved way back in July!). But before that, we had our friend L., who's a spiritual healer, come and cleanse and bless our home on Saturday, effectively chasing away any negative energies and bad spirits (well, except the noisy neighbors, although she was able to get the little kid downstairs to stop crying so much, miraculously). The apartment felt lighter and more 'ours' afterwards, and we spent most of Saturday cleaning, decorating, moving furniture (some of it new from the Ikea aisles) and setting up for the party. I was so excited I couldn't hardly sleep all night.

The housewarming was a brunch with a Valentine's day theme. I was thrilled that people took to it so readily--some guests showed up wearing pink and red (not a requirement by any means), several people brought us flowers, and most people went along (some more enthusiatically than others) with my wacky idea of writing valentines for each other. I got a whole bunch of those store-bought ones--Star Wars, Spongebob Squarepants, Hello Kitty, and the old-school Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat (the most popular ones by far)--and people sat around writing valentines to each other after gorging themselves on homefries, turkey sausage, lumpia, zucchini frittata (I made all the hot food), homemade chocolate truffles (my Kumareng M.'s over-the-top contribution), rum cake (courtesy of Efren and Howard) and various other sweets and savories.

The last few years--starting when I found myself single in 2000 after a four-year relationship/engagement--I've been thinking of Valentine's Day as more of a time to celebrate friendship or non-'romantic' love versus the gushy, lovey-dovey, couple-y kind of love that it's known for. Not that I'm not a big fan of the latter--H. and I are both big fans of romance and are very affectionate with each other--but I just felt that we, as a society, don't spend enough time celebrating and honoring our friendships. And after having a few friends whom I thought would be there for me for the long haul ditch out of my life (all, ironically, because of some strange hangups/weirdness about relationships with men--mine or theirs), I found the need to ritualize my honoring of my real friends especially important. True friends are, I've found out the hard way, a rarity indeed. And on Sunday I realized that I am blessed with many of them.

Back to the party, which went fabulously well. Gura and Tatang Retong attended, as did about thirty other friends/well-wishers, including my godson, K., and his friend S., both about two years old, who entertained the crowd by dancing to Joe Bataan/s "Nuevo Jala Jala", one of my favorite songs. Funny, K.'s Filipino and S. is Black--I guess Joe's energy resonated for both of them.

When everyone left---our last guest stayed 'til almost 10:30pm, which made it a record 10-hour marathon party for me--H. and I sat in the afterglow of so much love being brought into our home and shared with us and everyone else, between friends who were glad to see each other, between strangers who wrote each other valentines anyway, and realized that we were home, our home. It finally felt right. The most precioius feeling in the world.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What Would the Buddha Do?

I think someone should start making buttons, bumper stickers, necklace pendants, T-shirts, etc. with this slogan. WWTBD for short. It's a lot more relevant and interesting than the 'What Would Jesus Do?' slogan.

I've been trying to reflect on the Buddha's teachings more often lately, reading some Thich Nhat Hanh before I go to bed, trying to do sitting meditation for at least a few minutes every few days. It helps. It really does. It keeps me from screaming at my neighbors, who virtually live in a cloud of pot-smoke that annoys me to no end. It keeps me from breaking down when I'm too tired to cry, laugh or be angry because I'm working so much and wish I could stop. It keeps me from falling apart. It keeps me sane, even happy at times.

I also went to a people of color sit/sangha that is happening every first Sunday of the month at the San Francisco Buddhist Center. Funny, how we have to make plans to sit and do nothing. And to breathe.

But it's what the Buddha would do, right?