donderdag 25 december 2008

celebrating christmas

Took the boys over to Grandpa and Grandma's house where we cooked dinner for them. Slices of salmon with fried gambas and stir-fried veggies. Yum. Nice and light. None of that overstuffed feeling, which is a good sign.

Simple Christmas celebration. Under our borrowed tree, we parked Samuel's dream car. A Lightning McQueen thing that makes sounds when buttons are pressed. He loves the thing so much, it's gone everywhere with us today. A plus was getting this car at half-price because I went to the shop at the right day...the day when this car was on a day special. Cool, huh.

Yesterday, I bought a paper from a homeless person. I stood there thinking of how misfortune can happen no matter how hard we struggle and fight against it. Buying the paper from the homeless person may not provide a roof over his/her head, but it will at least help them in some little way. And, at least these people are trying.

Earlier this year, I bought a paper from a homeless guy in Utrecht. He was very honest about why he'd become homeless. But he was trying. And he was very proud of having written some poetry and that the poetry he'd written was published in the paper he was selling. It wasn't bad either. I know, I read the poem.

Anyway, all these homeless people, made me think of how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and of how it's quite easy to be misled into thinking that christmas joy is all about presents. Truly, it's all about sharing time with those who are dear to us.

No Playstation 3's, no X-Boxes, no DS's, no Wii's were bought by this household this month. When I look at the generations of game consoles, I have to think of how society is so brainwashed into believing that the newest is the best...when the truth is...there will always be something else that is the best next year. So why waste your money on expendable crap when what makes kids really happy is time spent together.

maandag 15 december 2008

updating the blog

It's been quite a while since I last updated this blog. I was on slow dialup for a while as we were in the process of moving servers.

Updates:

My review of Lone Star Stories #30 has been published on The Fix.

While I was offline, I made my first professional sale. I sold my Pink Elephant Story to Fantasy Magazine. I was tickled pink when I got this news. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing the story on there as this is my tribute to my fellow Villa Diodatians.

I've kept up the momentum of writing one story every other week, and worked on my Clarion Application stories. My story package is ready for submission. I'm hoping I qualify for some scholarship, as that will be a really huge help. I also think I've really got to work really hard at selling more stories. Ha, ha, ha.

I'm quite pleased with my application stories. One of them is a tribal fantasy mix. It combines the Ambahan of the Mangyan with the culture/language of the Ifugao. Pretty Philistine (I know), but that's why I'm a specfic writer.

One bummer was my laptop breaking down for no reason at all. We took it back to the shop as it's still under warranty. Hopefully they'll keep true to their word and have it done by this week. I miss the danged thing.

Gym stuff: I've been on this sports program for almost ten weeks, and I'm proud to say I've lost 4.5 kilos. I'm going for the slow and steady thing. Color me turtle. Someday, I will be at my preferred weight of 60 kilos.

I've been trying to resign-up for the Flips group (since our email addy is now changed), but keep getting fault messages. What am I doing wrong?

vrijdag 21 november 2008

thinking of christmas

I've spent almost the entire day looking for a place to celebrate christmas. And by this I mean, somewhere that isn't The Netherlands. It's really funny how this celebrating christmas has turned into some sort of obsession...

Then, I found this article: http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Philippines/Manila/blog-340493.html

And I knew why it was so important... I miss home...

I miss the get-togethers, the christmas carolling, the jingles, the cheer that seems to infect everyone, the being with your family and loved ones...

I miss all of that...

And the thing is, no matter what I do...

All of that just isn't here.

what happened in our little town

Lynn Austin came to our little town yesterday. Who's Lynn Austin? She's an internationally bestselling christian author who I interviewed sometime ago for The Sword Review. I did a voice and mail interview with her and she was very warm, gracious and accommodating.

The last time we talked, she'd asked me what I was working on. I told her I was working on a poetic memoir. I said that I doubted it's marketability, but well it was what I had to write anyway and that was more important than marketting. To which, she said that when it got published I should send her a copy. A year after that conversation, OMF Lit, Philippines picked up Echoes from my New Home and included these pieces in Hope Away from Home.

Seeing as that interview was in 2006, I doubted that Lynn would remember me. Still, she was coming to my town and I knew I had to see her. I brought her my last copy of Hope Away from Home. (We had shipped over a good number of books for the launching in February, but all those books have sold and I had only one left.)

There was a very long line of people at the bookshop. Later, the bookshop owner told us that there had been about a hundred people that evening. They had sold more than a hundred books, and there were still a lot of books that they'd held back for people who'd phoned in and asked for a signature. (author appearances really make for sales, don't they?)

I think I irritated the woman behind me with my constant looking towards the entrance. I was waiting for my sister-in-law, but she'd been doubtful about whether she would be in time, so I thought, if she didn't make it I would get her a signed book and if she did make it, I'd just move to the back and keep her company. The moment my sis-in-law arrived (which was almost closing time) I jumped to the back which was really great because I could relax and not worry about holding up the line when it was my turn to get my books signed.

Anyway, it was great meeting Lynn Austin in person. She was just as warm and gracious as she'd been on the phone and she remembered me. Which was really, really cool of her.

Here's a pic of me with Lynn Austin:



And here's a pic of her opening my present which was a candle holder from the Philippines. It's one of those holders made out of capiz. I loved the spontaneity of her reaction when she opened the present. She liked it :)

dinsdag 11 november 2008



Got this icon from Iconator where they have some really cool elephant avatars. I've been working on an Elephant story, and have posted it to the Online Writing Workshop.

woensdag 5 november 2008

You did it!

Yes, America. You did it!

Sometime around 5 a.m. (Dutch time) the radio came on with news of Barack Obama's victory. America's first Black President.

As a person of color, I couldn't help but cheer and feel a bit emotional, even if I am not a US citizen.

My Mom was so enthusiastic about Obama's victory, she called me up from The Philippines just to check if I'd seen it on CNN.

"Did you see it?" she asked. "Isn't it wonderful?"

Yes, Mom. It is wonderful :)

vrijdag 31 oktober 2008

women and ambition

I thought I'd share this article from Bitch Magazine. I gakked this from Leigh Dragoon's blog. Leigh is the editor of Byzarium, she's fabulously outspoken and proudly feminist.

The Ambition Condition: Women, Writing, and the Problem of Ambition by Anna Clark

woensdag 29 oktober 2008

Go read Malcolm Gladwell's article on Late Bloomers in The New Yorker. (gakked from the Philippine Genre Stories blog).

I read that and leaned over to give my husband a hug.

"What was that for?" hubby asks.

"Thanks for being my patron," I said.


This is just beautiful:

Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.

donderdag 23 oktober 2008

updating this blog.

Now that the hectic pace has slowed down and I'm coming back down to earth from the heaven I've been to which is Villa Diodati, I've decided to do a bit of update on stuff I've neglected to blog about while I was in the busy rush to finish the costume/dress, write reviews, submit my columns, and pack a balikbayan box for pickup. All these in the weeks right before I had to go to Villa Diodati.

I've been wanting to blog and thank The Chatelaine for sending me my very own copy of The Blind Chatelaine's Keys. This is Eileen Tabios's latest masterpiece, and I want to express how much I admire Eileen's virtuousity as well as her prolificity. You can also get a copy of this book from Amazon.com. Pretty cool, eh?

Last month's Munting Nayon featured a short review of The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes. I love how Eileen continues to be fresh and innovative and inspiring in her work. And even if my own body of work consists predominantly of the speculative, poetry will always have a special place in my heart, and I'll continue to buy and read poetry because honestly where would we all be without poetry in the world?

**

Another thing I've neglected to post on here is the announcement about the International Issue of Weird Tales Magazine. This issue which includes my story, The Wordeaters, also contains another story written by a pinoy expat. I am so looking forward to getting my contrib copies as well as my subscriber copy. I remember sending this story to Luisa Igloria, and it was her words of encouragement that kept me sending out this piece and believing in it. I mean, if an award-winning poet and teacher thinks it's good, then someone else must surely share that opinion.

Heartfelt thanks to Ann VanderMeer. She is an amazing woman whom I'd love to meet someday.

**

Coming back from Villa Diodati, hubby and I had a long sitdown talk. Our conclusion was that I should try my darndest best to get into one of the Clarion workshops. And yes, this is a dream I've had somewhere in the back of my head, but what with having a toddler and a school-going kid, I had sort of shelved this ambition because it seemed like an impossible dream. Suddenly, it looks possible. Of course, I still have to write a couple of kick-ass stories that will just convince the panel to take a chance on me. But yes, Villa Diodati has challenged and encouraged me and I realize that I see it now as being possible as before Villa Diodati, I'd sort of just seen myself as someone who tries their darndest best to make sense of story with the available tools I've got, but who really is totally clueless and hasn't got a chance in the world.

I am thinking of this woman who told me that I would never get far writing in English because Filipinos will never be able to write good enough to satisfy native english speakers. While that comment devastated my younger self, I did take that as a challenge, and I suppose it was that comment resonating in the back of my head that's pushed me all these years to improve and to become better than myself because I had to prove that "yes, the Filipino can."

I wish I remembered who the woman was, but I certainly owe her a debt of gratitude. Without those words, I would never have challenged myself or set such stringent rules on my own writing. I know there's still lots of room for improvement. There are still tons of things I don't know and I sometimes get confused when people talk about plot arc and character arc...and all that...but I absorb everything...I absorb and think and read and do my darndest best to reach down and dig deep and be more than what I am today. And I will accept all the criticism and advice I can get because God knows, I do need it.

So yes, I am going to finish that novel...yes, I am going to work on getting into Clarion, and I've got more incentive now to keep going because I can hardly quit right now that I'm in the middle of the game. I mean, what message would that send to my boys?

Well...this is a pretty hefty post, but I'm in this state of mind where I think I have to say it out loud because this means I can't back out and say...oh, that was just me talking out loud. ha, ha...

Wish me luck as I prep my application stories.

**

updating this blog.

vrijdag 10 oktober 2008

The Dress





Thought I'd post some pictures of the dress I've been working on. It's been quite an experience...took me longer than I'd bargained for, but it was a learning thing. I love the material on the bodice, and I like that the skirt flares just the way it should. Hemming it was a bit of a nightmare though. I shall now go and iron the thing, and I just remembered I'm supposed to make a mini-version for the doll the little girl is going to carry (waaah). I think the doll should be fairly easy. I'm planning to just give it a handkerchief skirt attached to a bodice similar to this dress.

woensdag 8 oktober 2008

sewing...

I've been asked to sew a dress for my friend's daughter. She's five years old and she'll be dancing a little ballet on Saturday. I was happy to find the right material at the Utrechtse Stoffenmarkt (cloth market) particularly as there was this stall that sold lovely lengths of decorated cloth that I thought would do perfectly for the bodice of the dress.

I based the skirt of the dress on this pattern but I changed the bodice to a fitted one using the lovely heavily embroidered cloth that I found in the market. We had our first and final fitting this afternoon, and I'm quite pleased to say the dress is almost all done except for some hemming and attachment of the straps.

I'm rather proud of myself seeing as this is the most ambitious sewing project I've taken on to date. When the dress is done, I'll take some pics and post on here.

It's been a while since I've been to the cloth market and I realized that with fashion focusing on the skirt and the dress, it might not be such a bad idea to visit this market more regularly. The Utrecht Cloth Market offers quite a good variety at very reasonable prices. Not bad when you compare how a lace dress easily costs close to (and even over) a hundred euros...sewing it yourself might save you half the price and it certainly will be more fun than settling for your regular consumer-type dress.

I did a bit of searching on youtube while preparing for this dress (my friend didn't want your regular tutu, she wanted something special), and I stumbled across some footage of Katherine Healy.

I've been sitting here, thinking of how when someone dances like this, it's like watching poetry in motion. . .

woensdag 1 oktober 2008

The Fix

crossposting from my lj:

I just realized the need to go look for jumping up and down with excitement avatars. I am now an official reviewer for The Fix and my first review is now up. Feel free to go click on the link :)

http://thefix-online.com/reviews/new-horizons-1

And while you're there, you might want to check out Marshall Payne's interview with M.K. Hobson.

Philippine Specfic discussions

The TOC for Philippine Speculative Fiction IV is now up on Dean's blog. You can go there or you can click on the link to the TOC from here.

Catching up on my blogreading, there's a lot of discussion going on in the blogosphere concerning Filipino speculative fiction and what it is. I've tried to follow links to the discussions whenever I can, but I do have a busy toddler, so that makes posting and responding to posts rather challenging.

Anyway, I do have my own thoughts on labelling and on the subject of speculative fiction...in fact, I question how some folks are quick to call something non-literary, when we all know that only time will tell whether something is literary or not. Not so long ago, I put this question to my aunt, and she told me it's all a matter of semantics, and actually, given time the stories we write today will be labelled "literary" and "classic" in the far, far future. I suppose this means when we're all long dead and buried and by then it's quite possible that another revolution will have started up to turn the entire "literary scene" on its head.

Anyway, Dean Alfar has got this excellent post about speculative fiction and I think he's got all the links to every other major post.

dinsdag 30 september 2008

Review: Seeds of Change edited by John Joseph Adams

This is a long overdue review of Seeds of Change edited by John Joseph Adams.

After a lengthy interval, I’ve finally found the time to sit down and write a review of Seeds of Change. There are nine stories in this themed collection addressing issues of racism, political revolution, medical experimentation, prejudice and the environment.

Ted Komatska’s “N-Words” starts off this anthology. Set in a future time when experiments have resulted in the successful cloning of Neanderthals, humankind discovers itself giving way to old prejudices as it rebels against the perceived advantage of the cloned Neanderthals. I couldn’t help thinking of Nancy Kress’s “Beggars in Spain” while I was reading this.

In “The Future by Degrees” by Jay Lake, Grover works as a sales development person for Quantum Thermal Systems. His job is to present prototypes to potential investors. Grover’s current project is a device that is capable of storing 18,000,000 joules of heat. Grover doesn’t realize just how controversial the project is until an attempt is made on his life. Lake provides us with a gritty tale involving spionage, conspiracy, and an interesting mix of characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Drinking Problem” by K. D. Wentworth. When Joe goes to his regular bar and purchases a beer, the bar owner presents him with The Smart Bottle. The Smart Bottle is an environment-friendly project established by the government, and every citizen is bonded to the bottle for life by means of DNA imprintment. Joe tries everything in his power to get rid of the bottle, but he’s unsuccessful. When he takes the bottle home, his wife Terri is at first irritated by the presence of the bottle. The Smart Bottle is more than a bottle, as the story progresses, it evolves into something more than just a bottle. I think “Drinking Problem” is the longest story in this collection, but it’s so engaging and so entertaining, you’ll hardly notice the length until you check the page numbers.

I should really like “Endosymbiont” by Blake Charlton. After all, I come from a family rich in doctors, and my mother is a cancer survivor. If for that reason alone, I truly felt I should be able to immerse myself into Charlton’s tale. Stephanie wakes up in a hospital feeling quite ill as a result of the chemo. In the room she occupies she finds some neo toys which she hacks into. One of them, a snake, curls around, eats its own tail and vanishes with a pop. A little later, Stephanie discovers a glass snake in her pocket with the words carconella rudii imprinted on its belly. Stephanie assumes it’s a message from her mother, and this is how she learns that her mind has been uploaded into a concinnity neuroprocessor.

The concept behind this story is quite interesting, but it didn’t really do very much for me, and it was hard for me to feel any true empathy with the characters in the story.

“A Dance Called Armageddon” by Ken MacLeod is quite visual with loads of captivating lines and genuine accent. The UK and the US are engaged in the mother of all battles with Russia. MacLeod provides us with a main character who is so genuine, it’s impossible not to like him.

In “Arties Aren’t Stupid” by Jeremiah Tolbert, the future world is populated by different types of make. There are the Brainiacs, the Arties, the Elderfolk, the Tin Men, the Thicknecks and the Council who rules over them all. Mona is an Artie, and it is she who introduces us to this strange futuristic world devoid of plants and animals and where art or making is forbidden. When Niles, the leader of the Arties comes home with a device that is capable of making more than drawings, the world Mona and the Arties inhabits is changed.

I enjoyed this story very much and loved how Tolbert describes the process of making and the urge that pushes Arties to create. Beautiful.

In “Faceless in Gethsemane” by Mark Budz our narrator’s sister, Keeley has chosen to become face blind. Budz provides us with an insightful and moving tale that doesn’t feel at all preachy. I had a lump in my throat by the time I finished reading it.

In “Spider the Artist” by Medi Okorafor-Mbachu, a pipeline runs close by Eme’s house. This pipeline carries fuel all over Nigeria, and is a constant target for men in the village who siphon fuel off the pipeline. When the government sets in zombies (spiderlike robot creatures) to guard the pipeline, the stealing goes down.

Eme, our main protagonist, is a musician married to a man who beats her up. To escape his abuse, she often goes behind the house where she sits close to the pipeline and plays on her guitar. On one of the evenings, a zombie comes up to her, and listens to her music. I found myself quite engrossed in this tale of an unlikely friendship between a human and musically inclined killer-robot.

Okorafor-Mbachu weaves a spell-binding tale illustrating how perceived differences can be bridged and new alliances can be made.

“Resistance” by Tobias Buckell is the last story in this collection. It’s quite an insightful look into what happens to societies when people fail to take responsibility for their own decisions. It’s a strong story to end the collection with and leaves the reader with excellent food for thought as the protagonist in this tale sinks back and “waits for the dark to take him in its freeing embrace.”

Overall, Seeds of Change exceeded my expectations. I found it to be quite an engaging read, and while not all of the stories appealed to me, I think the majority of it will appeal to readers everywhere.

woensdag 24 september 2008

55 years

Grandma and Grandpa Loenen celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary today. We're off to visit them on our bikes. The sun's just come out...and Sam's awake.

dinsdag 23 september 2008

Joel's plans for the future

I'm in some weird shopping/windowshopping phase. I can't seem to keep from browsing online shops and thinking up lists of things I would like to buy. In fact, the only reason I haven't headed out to the shops is because my eldest son did not feel in the mood to go shopping with me. So, I had to stay home even if Tuesday is a non-piano lesson day.

In the long run, I'm thankful he didn't want to go. I think I might have ended up buying lots of things that I would later regret. It must be hormones or something. because for some reason I've been having attacks of these huge buying impulses.

It's quite possible though that this buying urge stems from me not losing weight as fast as I would like to. I have to keep reminding myself that weight will not fly off in one-click.

#

During our nephew's wedding reception ( Friday evening), eldest son and I sneaked out while the rest of the gang were going wild on the dance floor. He said he had something important to tell me and so we went out and had ourselves a nice walk and a surprising chat in which he divulged his plans for the future.

Joel: I know what I want to do when I'm done with school.

Me: What's that? (I'm prepared for the train engineer or conductor answer)

Joel: I want to put up a publishing company. I'll publish magazines for all different ages and each magazine will be accompanied by a book.

Me: Sounds like a good idea. You'll have to attract good writers though.

Joel: That's why I want you to be my foremost writer.

Me: Say that again.

Joel: I think you're stories are really good and I want to publish all of them.

Me: Uh---yeah...wow...gee... (I never saw that coming)

Joel: And you'll have to write more stories because we have to cater to kids under three years old as well as kids from three to six, seven to twelve, twelve to sixteen and sixteen and above.

Me: That's a lot.

Joel: I know what we'll call the entire publication.

Me: What?

Joel: We'll call it Metropole three.

Me: Why?

Joel: I like how that sounds...

If fate doesn't intervene and change his mind...expect Metropole three to launch some twenty or so years from now.

maandag 22 september 2008

Finished work on a new story. I'll be taking it down the editting road this week and plan to send it out to market next week.

September has turned out to be quite an expensive month for us. We had a wedding in the family and several birthday celebrations, which meant money spent on gifts and wedding accoutrements. Added to this, I splurged and visited a luxurious hair stylist. It was sinfully expensive, but well worth the visit as I bought a shampoo that seems to have solved my eternal struggle with stressed hair and dandruff. Look, Ma! Clean scalp!

Thankfully, we're still in the blue. Our tax return came in and I could heave a huge sigh of relief. Still, I do intend to keep a watchful eye on the budget this October.

Total extra expenses for the month of September(beyond our planned budget): three hundred euros. I'm spelling it out because it seems less sinful when spelled out than when written in numbers. lol.

October is coming up fast. My youngest brother will be visiting us for a few days (alas only five days) and we're planning a day trip to Amsterdam and quick trips to Haarlem and Gouda. I'm creating a fresh new budget for October and for the pasalubongs he'll be taking back with him. I do have bags full of baby clothes. Funny how the Dutchies seem not to want secondhand stuff from me...they love giving it to me (and I love receiving it, because toddler stuff is almost never on sale) but if I ask who wants something hand-me-down, no one raises their right hand.

On the exercise side: I've been walking everyday for the past couple of weeks, and I can feel my tummy shrinking. Today, I turned on the telly at 9 a.m. and did stretches and warm-ups with this program called "Nederland in Beweging" (translated: Netherlands in Action or better yet: Netherlanders Move It).

Alternate Girl: Working on a new segment for the Alternate Girl hay(na)ku. I love how characters just seem to jump out of walls and bridges confronting me with their story within this story.

I am also working on my first ever review for The Fix. My thanks to Marshall Payne for recommending me and encouraging me to join the review team. Marshall's a great guy who writes stuff that will twist your head off in a good way. I like how his work incorporates a sense of humor that I feel is essential in the sf&f genre.

In my own observation of the genre field, I've sometimes sensed a certain hostility towards what's seen as literary work, while on the other hand, there's also a strong desire to be viewed as literarily solid. It seems to be a desire to belong while still remaining outside of. I wonder how come certain works of speculative nature will be shut out by the literary powers-that-be whereas other work will be considered revolutionary and cutting edge.

Having said that, I'll be the first to admit that I'd like to be resistant to labelling. I mean, while I enjoy writing speculative fiction, I think I wouldn't be where I was as a writer of fiction if not for the influence poetry and journalism had on me. Whether we like it or not, I think poetry, arts, music and story writing are all relatives of each other and I like to see how great writers will engage in all of these disciplines because engaging all these will stretch you. I suppose what I'm saying here is that it's a good thing to go beyond traditional form, to make a break with traditional storytelling, to experiment and jump off a cliff even if it means no one will like what you're doing or that what you're doing is the least commercially viable product.

Being truthful and true to your art and to your story and to what the muse demands is more important than commercial viability in my books.

Anyway, I'm reading this new publication from The British Fantasy Society. I have this to say, I like how these Brits pick out their fiction :)

donderdag 11 september 2008

Keys

Catching up on my blogreading, I visited The Chatelaine's blog, and I had to smile reading the line "there are keys to everything..."

It seems quite apt reading that now, and I have to share about how each time I hit a block or come out of a period of non-writing, the first thing I do is write hay(na)ku. I wrote about this on my lj and talked about how some of the best stories I've ever written have worked out after doing some hay(na)ku on the stories.

I was reflecting on how writing in hay(na)ku (as I am experiencing it with Alternate Girl) brings me to a certain place where I can touch the heart of the story.

On Haruah some of the editors talk about how writers/poets used to make use of hallucinatory drugs to produce their work. I have to confess that each time I show my husband a hay(na)ku that I've used to solve a problem in my stories he tells me the hay(na)ku sounds just like I've been taking a hallucinatory drug of some sort (how would he know that?). I don't really care that it's so, the thing is, the hay(na)ku has become an essential part of my writing life. Other writers may have their outlines and their detailed character pages and index cards... I have the hay(na)ku.

It's my key and my drug of choice :)

woensdag 10 september 2008

Have posted a new Alternate Girl episode over at chiepublication.

Looks like I'm riding out of the slump I was in.

Listmaking

Things I have been doing lately:

1. Cleaning the house
2. Shopping
3. Cleaning out closets
4. Shopping
5. Organizing bedrooms
6. Shopping
7. Tackling the laundry mountain

If you look at this list, it's quite easy to think that I am turning into a shopaholic. And I would be one if it wasn't for this picky voice inside my head that somehow includes a visual of something other than the thing I'm holding in my hand. Since I've cleaned out my closet, I've discovered a lot of items in there that I bought on the spur of the moment, mainly because someone prompted me to buy it because it fit in with their idea of a perfect buy. The result was me having yet another thing in my closet that I wore probably only once or twice because I wasn't convinced that the item was really me.

A good rule of thumb that I've decided to put into effect after cleaning out my closet is that if the item I'm holding isn't something I'm 100% convinced about, then I'd better not take it. Knowing me, I'm likely to wear only the clothes I really liked as compared to clothes I liked 50% but bought anyway because someone else was there.

Trimming down my closets has also made me understand why quality is more important than price, and shopping ( or rather windowshopping ) has made me understand that it's important to do your research before you head out to the shops.

With technology at hand, it's easy to research style and price before you head out to the shops.

The Perfect Jeans

After years of frustrated searching, I have finally found and bought my own pair of perfect jeans. Because of the way I'm built, the low-waisted jeans just don't fit me. I mean, they do fit, but I don't understand how anyone can be comfortable wearing a pair of jeans that slides down to reveal your butt crack everytime you need to crouch down for something. So, I am truly thankful that the low-waisted jeans have been replaced by sensible fairly waisted jeans (not highwaist). Mine are waisted around the stomach, they don't slide down and they are in dark, dark blue with a little flare at the bottom to even out the hips I inherited from my grandmother.

I was lucky enough to find this pair of perfect jeans on a day when the shop that was selling them had put up an extra 10 euro discount on the jeans. Which makes this buy all the sweeter.

Joel's Bedroom

We've finally minimalized the clutter in Joel's bedroom and he has floorspace. We bought this secondhand bed off Marktplaats only to discover that it was missing a metal bar that holds the entire thing in the middle, and were lucky enough that we could still get it from IKEA for the sweet price of seven euro.

Because Joel's room is done in Railway style with the colors of the National Railway on it, the look is a bit industrial. At Ikea we managed to get a couple of open shelves in metal. The shelves were pretty cheap and I assembled them all by myself.

We've been engaged in a lot of home improvements and I'm hoping that before the year ends I'll be able to say the attic has been done.

I am making lists...lists and lists and lists and lists...

maandag 25 augustus 2008

alternate girl resumed

Resuming work on the Hay(na)ku experiment. Posted the true chapter two as it was meant to be before human will strove to intervene.

I'm thinking of how it's very easy to yield to the temptation to produce a marketable piece of work. Like saying to myself: that Alternate Girl is a good story and so, I should try to write it in a form that would sell to the markets I know.

So, I thought I would introduce a serial style...sort of like a soap operatic kind of thing...which didn't work because the story was being forced to fit into a genre when that's not what this work is all about.

After deliberating and reflecting, I realized the only thing to do was to apologize to the spirit of Alternate Girl's story. To leave the chapter produced by human error is part of the experiment, to write an apology is part of the experiment. The funny thing is how the apology seemed to work and so Torero came into being.

How Torero's story and Alternate Girl's story come together is still a mystery to me. But in any case, I'm glad I let the story go its way because it deserves to be told the way it wishes to be told. Which is in hay(na)ku form.

maandag 23 juni 2008

In which my parents-in-law move house...

It's been a hectic couple of weeks as my parents-in-law moved from the house they've lived in for the past 50 years into what the Dutch call an "aanleun woning". An aanleun woning is a flat or a house that's connected to a medical care center and is an ideal place for elderly folks who want to keep their independence and still have medical care at hand. We're all pretty happy about them getting this place as my father-in-law had been in the hospital for more than two months and it took quite a lot of energy and time added to which it was getting quite depressing for him.

Mom-in-law hasn't been well either. But she's really quite stubborn and refuses to admit that she can't do everything on her own any longer. So, this is an ideal place for both of them as they get regular visits from medical personnel.

The move to the new house meant getting rid of a lot of stuff from the old house, and looking for a place to store things that used to be in the old house. Happily, we'd managed to empty our attic of a lot of extra stuff, so there was room for the things that did need to be stored. I do question the wisdom of storing a cradle that's almost 50 years old and is quite ricketty, but I think I'll let hubby have his turn at sentimentalism. After all, it was his cradle.

In the meantime, we salvaged a number of doors that would do very well for our storage area in the attic. Finally, the dream of having the stored stuff neatly kept out of sight will come to pass.

Moving house does bring to light how we tend to hoard and keep things that we really end up not using at all. Mom-in-law is from the world war II generation where hoarding became quite a habit during a time of scarcity. If there was ever the epitome of the thrifty soul, it's my mom-in-law. In all the years that I've lived here, I've never once seen her wear clothes newly bought from the shops. She barely ever spends money on clothing and shoes, and if she does need them, she'll head for the nearest thrift or charity shop where she always manages to get shoes that have never been worn for almost nothing. Every winter, she unravels her old sweaters, washes the wool, and knits it back into either a new sweater or the same one it was before she unravelled it. If the wool gets too thin, she visits the thrift shop, yet again, purchases a good-as-new sweater, unravels it, washes the wool and knits a new sweater.

She's often told me how she hasn't bought herself new clothes for years because her closets are stuffed full with clothing.

All these conversations have often made me feel guilty in the past, and I finally decided to try and not let the kids wear anything obviously new when they went to visit Grandma. Whenever I bought new shoes for the boys or bought a new dress or a new blouse and she noticed it, I'd feel obliged to explain my purchases away. She became the standard of thriftiness that I had to live up to. Not easy if you'll consider that I used to buy myself a new dress every week, and once blew 2000 bucks on new shoes. All that non-thriftiness would come back to bite me each time mom-in-law noticed something new.

"Oh, you have a new dress." or "Do you have a new coat?" or "Are those new shoes?"

It's been quite a long time though since she's made observations like that, but on Sunday, we went off to visit the in-laws. Samuel was wearing sturdy leather shoes. Shoes she'd forgotten were first worn by Joel Jan, because she started making a comment that went like this:

"Oh, what beautiful shoes. My, my, my, your Daddy must work so hard for you to have such beautiful new shoes."

Before she got to the part where she says how expensive baby shoes are I said:

"Oh, but those were Joel's shoes."

To which, she said:

"oh, oh...my, well. They look good as new."

Picture the bling smile on my face.

I got one up on mom-in-law and she had to say:

"Well, that's the nice thing about having two kids. You can always pass on stuff like shoes to the next one."

Aren't I lucky I've got two boys? Just think of all the commentating I'd have gotten if I had a girl with all the frillies and doodies. I would have made a great girl mommy...my little girl would have been doffed out everytime.

Grandma would have been one huge trembling blob of worry about the way daughter-in-law spends money like water. If she was tech savvy enough to read this blog, I'm sure she'd heave a sigh of relief....

dinsdag 17 juni 2008

updating the blogs...

I've been offline for a couple of days. Our server had some transition problems, but it looks like we're back online again. So, I've posted the second chapter of Alternate Girl to the chiepublication blog.

I tried writing Alternate Girl as a traditional short story. Strangely, the story in hay(na)ku and the story in trad form differ from each other.

#

It's been really lovely weather here in NL. I just realized it's Wednesday, the 18th of June and I have got a bunch of things to get done before the end of the month.

We've been clearing out the attic, and I managed to put out our junk in time for the quarterly big junk pick-up. Which was a real blessing as we had quite a good chunk of stuff that needed to go away. I tried offering an old tv for free on Marktplaats, but had no takers. Yup, everyone wants the new-fangled, flatscreen tv models. I want one too...

I had given up on watching tv, as it's a great time waster, but with the European Championships on, I decided to raise my own tv ban and go cheer for the men in orange.

Quite a good team they've got this year. The Dutch win against France was an amazing 4-1. This team is quite a pleasure to watch, and I think Head Coach Marco van Basten has done a really good job with these guys. I love the go for it and win it all attitude. None of the wishy-washy, we're in the next round so why do your best stuff, and none of the I'm a superstar so why are you critting me mindset.

Last night's game against Romania: Neither of the teams scored during the first half, and the game play seemed a bit lackadaisical (yay, finally a chance to use that word). In the second half, things perked up a bit. Romania was eager for the ball as they really needed this game to go through to the next round. But Orange wouldn't let them through, and Jan Klaas Huntelaar gave Orange the first goal of the evening.

It looked like the heat was back in the game, and after Robin Van Perzie made that second goal, everyone knew the cat was in the bag. It was time for Romania to pack up and go home.

Football is a huge thing over here, and the street behind us is dressed all in orange. Folks in the block behind us have apparently set it up so they all watch together during the games. Even with the windows closed we could hear them cheering and talking and chatting and making their own voice overs during the game.

I could imagine folks all over The Netherlands crowded together in front of their tvs watching the play by play, eyes literally stuck to the screen. I suppose there weren't as many clustered by the tube last night, but I bet by next week's game Orange Fever will be in full swing once more. Kids will be staying up till late with orange paint in their hair and red, white and blue war paint on their cheeks. Horns and whistles and all that orange in the street and every child asking their Moms to please find that orange shirt because how can a child wear any other color when Orange is playing? Well, that's Football season for you.

donderdag 5 juni 2008

Aardappels and Alternate Girl

In which I talk about aardappels (earth apples more commonly known as potatoes). Once every three weeks, a farmer comes along with a car full of potatoes. I started buying potatoes from the farmer when I was pregnant and could barely climb on the bike to go get a sack of them from the supermarket. Somehow, I can never find the courage to tell the farmer that I really don't need his potatoes now.

So, once every three weeks, he comes along with a sack of potatoes that I don't really want anymore because now that it's summertime, we are not eating as much potatoes as we used to. Because I'm too cowardly to tell the potato man that I don't want his potatoes anymore, we are eating more potatoes than we normally eat.

I have even experimented with slicing the potatoes into very tiny chips and deep frying them, just so we eat all those potatoes before they start to grow appendages.

Ha, ha. Just imagine the news: Potatoes Come Alive...

Of course, that would make good publicity and it would be great if that meant more of my weird stories would sell .

I've written the first chapter to Alternate Girl and it's all up over at the chiepublication blog. I shall probably write a chapter where the earth apples come into the picture, but the next episode features what we would call, the appearance of the love interest...so we'll see.

woensdag 4 juni 2008

Alternate Girl (a serialized hay(na)ku story)

I was in the middle of writing one of those weird little stories that seem to visit me every now and then, when I thought of Alternate Girl. The funny thing is, her story doesn't seem to want to be told in the conventional way. I honestly tried. I wrote a sentence, a paragraph, a couple of lines. It just didn't sound right.

So, I was out biking this afternoon and thinking about Alternate Girl when the first few lines popped up inside my head. I hang onto the words as hard as I could and raced for home where I plopped down in front of my computer and typed out the first lines for Alternate Girl.

It's a story in Hay(na)ku and I'm quite curious how long it will be and how far it will take me. I'm posting it in installments over at http://chiepublication.blogspot.com

Feel free to drop by and give it a read. Comments are welcome. I highly doubt it'll ever get within the pages of a print pub, but I think writing it will be great fun.

donderdag 29 mei 2008

stuff accumulates and needs to be minimized

We've been doing loads of minimizing this past week. First to get tackled was our overfull attic. The attic is actually more like a third floor with the crossbeams, and many of our neighbours have successfully converted their attics into neat storage spaces for seasonal clothing and seasonal stuff. Some of them have actually turned their attics into an extra bedroom with an adjoining work/computer room.

I've been to several of these homes, and believe me, I always come home wondering what the heck is wrong with us that we just can't seem to free up any floor space.

Our attic was the last place on earth that I would have been willing to open up to visitors. Our washing machine and dryer were propped into this tiny corner, Jan's work space was all jumbled up and everywhere there were tumbled up piles of unidentifiable clothing/books/papers/pictures/stuff. Our bookshelves were somehow still reachable, but in order to get to the books, a person had to step over piles of "secret type stuff". In other words, no idea what it was on that floor.

We spent a couple of days sorting through clothing and stuff, and wound up with nine huge bags of unecessary things we'd stored up in the attic. Of the nine bags, three were bags filled with clothing that we brought to a textile center. Another three bags were textile that was no longer usable, and another three bags were odds and ends like broken toys, broken thingamagigs, and things we'd imagined we could still repair or use someday.

I've still got stuff lying out in the backyard. A very old tv that no one wanted, a very dirty rug, and a partly used roll of linoleum. Those are all going away to the dump this coming Saturday.

Our attic is turning into a wonderful place. We've finally migrated the ironing board up to the attic, because there is room enough to iron and fold away clothes up there. We've also got everything neatly boxed or bagged and neatly tucked away under the eaves. Coming weekend, Jan's off to pick up sliding doors so all our stuff is hidden neatly away in compartments.

Another dream that's going to happen soon is the realization of Joel Jan's dream of finally having a place to stall out his model trains.

We're going to be sorting books and probably adding another bookcase upstairs. Jan needs to clean up his space and I need to sort through two more bags of assorted toys and then we can move washing machine and dryer to a more space efficient place.

I'm quite, quite happy.

woensdag 21 mei 2008

today poetry sings in my veins...

2008...
Oh 2008
how swift your

wings
you leave
me breathless, breathless

still,
but breathing
in your wake.

**

Duly reworked this to fit in with the following

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MERITAGE PRESS AND XPRESS(ED)

THE HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, VOL. II
Edited by Jean Vengua and Mark Young
Release Date: 2008
ISBN 951-9198-73-3
ISBN 978-951-9198-73-6
Page Count: 148 pages
Price: $16.95
Distributors (forthcoming): Small Press Distribution, Amazon.com, Meritage Press

Meritage Press (St. Helena & San Francisco) and xPress(ed) (Puhos, Finland) are delighted to announce the release of THE HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, VOL. II, edited by Mark Young and Jean Vengua.

More information about the hay(na)ku poetic form is available at http://haynakupoetry.blogspot.com and http://www.meritagepress.com/haynaku.htm The former link identifies the poet-participants, while the latter shares some poets' thoughts on the hay(na)ku's attractiveness. The hay(na)ku has been one of the most popular new poetic forms in recent times; 39 poets participated in the soon-to-be-out-of-print first anthology. In Vol. II, 51 poets from around the world (and representing a multiplicity of poetics) participate.

Since The First Hay(na)ku Anthology's release in 2005, the hay(na)ku has appeared in many literary journals, anthologies and single-author poetry collections worldwide. Artists have created visual hay(na)ku. The form has been written in Spanish, English, French, Finnish, Dutch, Tagalog, and Norwegian. It has been taught in classrooms, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico/Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) features an hay(na)ku webpage in their online journal, Periódico de Poesía. Members of UNAM'S Faculty of Literature and Philosophy/Facultad de Filosofia y Letras are also preparing a full Spanish translation of The First Hay(na)ku Anthology for future release. Reflecting the hay(na)ku's continued popularity, THE HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, VOL. II is released just three years after the first hay(na)ku anthology. A third anthology is also in the works:The Chained Hay(na)ku which would present hay(na)ku collaborations among three or more writers. We hope readers enjoy this volume, and are encouraged to try writing their own hay(na)ku! For this poetic form also was created as an Invitation to Poetry.

To celebrate its release, Meritage Press is pleased to announce a RELEASE SPECIAL OFFER of $12.00 per book, a 29% discount off of the retail price and incorporating free shipping within the United States (for overseas orders, please email first to MeritagePress@aol.com). This offer expires on July 31, 2008. You can send checks made out to "Meritage Press" to

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

For more information, contact MeritagePress@aol.com

**

And because poetry is singing in my veins today:

Go read and listen to Luisa Igloria's "What we Ate After Passing the Cape of Eleven Thousand Virgins"

maandag 19 mei 2008

I cleaned out the shoe cupboard and made an inventory of shoes:

Me:

Two pairs of mocassins (rather comfy. One black, one blue. Both in a rather worn state, but they are great for biking)
One pair of open-toe sandals (good for biking)
one pair of platform type sandals (not good for biking, worn only twice)
One pair of formal type high-heeled black shoe (barely worn, not good for biking)
One pair of scuffed black boots (excellent for biking)
One pair of winter boots (excellent for biking)
One pair of rubber shoes (excellent for walking and biking)
One pair of sneakers (excellent for walking and biking)

Looking at that, my number one parameter for buying a shoe seems to be this: Is it good for biking?

zondag 18 mei 2008

stuff and new arrival...

Arrived yesterday, surprisingly quick for an Amazon.com seller:


The Light Sang as it Left Your Eyes, by Eileen Tabios


On the same day, we minimized the number of wires in our living room, by purchasing and installing a wifi adaptor thing for our pc. I also bought a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse which have been duly installed. Oh the joys of going wireless. For every harried housevrouw who wrestles with wires from that glorious, wretched thing we call the computer, I would definitely recommend going wireless. Diminishes wrestling and increases love.

And as I have observed, the shifting about of household stuff often does a world of good. We've been moving our furniture around again and I like how our living space has now been transformed into: a dining/living area, where one can just as easily move around and sit around the table while chatting with friends. Instead of turning our backs on the living room, the dining table has been moved so there is a circular/including motion in the way stuff is arranged.

donderdag 15 mei 2008

Books and reading matter take up a great part of my personal budget. Reflection's Edge and Weird Tales Magazine sent me e-cash and I've duly spent a part of my tiny fortune on the following things:

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (current issue)
GUD magazine (issue 2)
Weird Tales Magazine (international subscription)
Move Underground by Nick Mamatas
I've still got a small pittance left over, but I'm hoping to place a couple of stories before the end of the year. That would be just fantastic.

Outside of the e-world, I've ordered a copy of Eileen Tabios's, The Light Sang as it Left Your Eyes.

Email brought me notice that Luisa Igloria's book, Juan Luna's Revolver is now available through the Fall 2008 catalogue of UND Press

That's the way the money goes, folks.

Aside from reading matter, other purchases have involved:

Basic household groceries
Writing supplies, like printing paper, paper clips and stamps

woensdag 14 mei 2008

update

In between my last post and this, I turned forty. Funny to think of myself as forty when I'm still following a toddler around. I'd sort of envisioned myself at forty as this mature matron looking quite dignified...and instead here I am dashing about with my hair all wild about my head and quite topsy-turvy because that's what life with a toddler is like.

I don't know how forty's supposed to feel like, but I sure don't feel a day older .

Because life has been so hectic and rushed, we took a break and it's done me a world of good. I'm feeling quite laid back and relaxed and I'm thinking these sunny days are part of the reason for me feeling very good inspite of my struggle with hay fever.

Preparations for the summer are underway. We've been searching on the net, looking for places to go and spend our summer vacation. Being carless people, we have to rely on public transportation and our bikes, so a french vacation is out of the picture until I've earned my driver's license and can drive us there.

We do have to take our budget into consideration as well. Vacation parks in The Netherlands are quite expensive, and a week's holiday costs more than half a month's paycheck. I stare at the prices and wonder how other folks manage to go on vacation, not once, but twice in a year. It does look like luck is on our side. Jan's decision to take the last three weeks of the summer vacation seems to be quite favorable as during the last weeks of summer, the park we've settled on gives families with children under 12 years old a 20% discount. This is something we'll have to keep in mind when we look into our vacation next year.

We'll probably have to take my bike with us, but otherwise, the train goes almost all the way to the boat we have to take which will cross over from the mainland to the island where we plan to spend a week. My sister-in-law says there's a rent-a-bike on the shore, and so Jan and Joel can just rent bikes for the length of our stay.

I'm actually beginning to look forward to the summer break. We'll have to take one of those trekker's backpacks for our stuff and probably will have to load another backpack onto the bike. Packing will have to be as minimal as possible. The lovely thing about vacations...it's relaxed and anything goes...er...at least that's my idea of vacation.

I shall be taking books and the laptop and hope I get time to write.

##

During this spring break, I finally got around to sitting down and focusing my attention on Achiote Seeds with the poetry of Barbara Jane Reyes, Rich Villar and Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor.

This slim volume is thought-provoking and inspiring, and I found myself thinking on the way my fictions have been going and the role of the woman in the stories I've been writing. I'm quite curious now and want to take a look at women in genre work...I want to observe the roles these women play and how they are reflective of the convictions of the author/writer.

Barbara Jane Reyes writes:

What are feminist retellings of our stories important to write, and why do we need new, other ways of telling our stories?

And Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor responds with:

I question separateness, of our/their. I question stories that are only feminine/woman in nature. I question exclusion, forgotteness, victimhood, appropriation, authenticity.

There's excellent dialogue going on here, and I love how these thoughts lead me to spin my own thoughts and to examine my own feminism.

##

It's liberating to be comfortable in one's own skin.

donderdag 10 april 2008

The Story of Stuff

Gakked from Mary DeMuth's Shoutlife Blog: The Story of Stuff. It's good stuff. Takes a couple of seconds to load the video, but it's worth the watch. More reason to minimalize your life.

maandag 7 april 2008

--God is calling
God is calling
When you think he has forgot
When you think you have forgot
He remembers
and he speaks
your name out loud.--

vrijdag 4 april 2008

today's poem

Joys of Forty


Hard to believe I ever was a baby
Although pictures never tell a lie.

donderdag 3 april 2008

I am Spam

She’s a cutie
He’s got a degree
He sells the latest stock in trade
Prophylactics, monkey antics
And Microsoft’s latest tool.

Download me
Purchase me
send me your details.

Win a prize
Collect the money
Sequestered by some foreign bank

Send your papers
Call this number
Be sure to have your account on hand

Here’s your code
Here’s your MBA
Here’s your gucci,
Here’s your prada
Here’s your imitation brand.

What more could you possibly want?

Enhance your sex life
Increase libido
Don’t be shy

We accept credit
We accept cash
We accept
The possibility
Of taking you
And breaking into your life.

woensdag 2 april 2008

In the Mail Today

The New Weird Anthology, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer -- have already snuck into the introduction which made my head go ping. I am already liking it and looking forward to a nice cosy sitdown with the stories.

Also received, Beggars in Spain which I'd ordered from an Amazon.com seller.

The Borges book I ordered is still footsie. If it doesn't arrive tomorrow I am going to have to complain.

**

And because poetry makes friends, my new year's resolution is to send poetry collections as gifts to poetry loving friends.

I'm really looking forward to gifting peeps with Luisa Igloria's soon to be released Juan Luna's Revolver.
I don't shop a lot, but I compensate with book buying :) Funny how this can be much more rewarding than buying a new pair of shoes. Having said that, I suppose it would be redundant to broadcast my bookwormism.

**

Must be the time of year. I am writing poetry again...to quiet the clamor inside my head.
Dear . . . .


Sometimes, sleep is the only escape
and even then this dull ache
turns my dreams somber
I awake shedding tears over
the memory of mangoes

dinsdag 1 april 2008

this is why I love poets and poetry

There are days when stories clamor for existence
And my head is filled with noise and the clash-bang of giant drums

I will always return to poetry
To this luxury of resting in its arms and knowing
I can be.

taking stock

I'll be turning forty this month, and I've decided it's time to take stock of my life and look at what I've achieved so far and what else I want to achieve and to consider carefully the organizations I'm part of and how essential these are to my future goals.

Three years ago, I joined fantasy-writers.org. Fantasy-writers is a fantastic community with lovely and friendly writing people. My most memorable people from fantasy writers are Joanne Hall, Fran Jacobs and Nyki. Not only are they generous writers, they also write excellent fiction and are no nonsense about wanting to be their best. I'm not surprised that Joanne and Fran have been able to land publishers for their books. 2005 was a tumultous year and through fantasy-writers, I went on to The Sword Review (Double-Edged Publishing). There, I've stuck for the past three years, and I don't foresee leaving DEP because even when I have a shortage of time, I believe in the vision of this publishing company, and I made a promise to me to do my best to support them as much as I could. Through DEP, I landed my interview column which led me to look for the FLIPs community. FLIPS being my connection to the Filipino writer anywhere in the world. Even if I'm not stateside, it's good to know and to support these fabulous writers who are driven by passion for their art.

Being on Flips, made me decide to write for Munting Nayon. From DEP, I discovered Notebored, didn't stick on Notebored that long due to limited time frames, but I did stick to Liberty Hall.

To date, I maintain two blogs. My livejournal writing blog and this blog which I moved to after the Raindancer blog.

Analyzing my organizations, I'm glad I took my time deciding which ones to join. It's easy to join too many orgs and end up burning out. And I'm convinced that if I join something it should be something I believe in and which I can contribute to in an effective way.

Breakdown of my current orgs:

Bayanihan -- org for Filipina Women in The Netherlands
Munting Nayon -- The Dutch-Filipino paper
Liberty Hall -- where I flash, and get challenged to write and polish and submit
OWW -- I'm not so active on OWW anymore. I think the bulk overwhelms me and I'm rather time-limited at present. I do enjoy lurking on the mailing list.
DEP-- I edit for Haruah, and lurk around the DEP forum whenever I can
Flips -- this is a filipino writers list based in the US
Villa Diadoti -- hopefully I'll finally get to go to a live one soon as I am eager to meet fellow writers in the flesh.

blogs:

this minimalmax blog for ramblings and inner searching stuff and struggles and working out of thoughts...and rants and whatever else cultural and opinionated

livejournal which is basically for writing updates and non-ranty stuff

This year, I would like to join the Broad Universe Organization. I've announced this to hubby and so I'll be making an application to join sometime soon. I've been nosing around the site, and I'm hoping I get accepted.

This year looks like the year we'll finally get a writers group together and be able to finally put on paper ideas for literary stuff and participation which includes book launchings, get togethers, readings, workshops and the entire thing. I'm excited about this as well as pretty nervous. It will mean more time.

Who said 40 meant slowing down? Looks like, life does begin .

Next time, I'll take stock of achievements since I launched out on this writing journey in 2005 and I'll make a listing of my projects and my goals for the coming year.

maandag 31 maart 2008

Remember The Killing Fields--Dith Pran, The Last Word

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/multimedia/20080320_DITH_PRAN_LAST_WORD_FEATURE/index.html

I remember watching The Killing Fields when I was in The Philippines. Dith Pran's "Last Word" is a reason to keep on remembering.

vrijdag 28 maart 2008

Blog against torture day...from my lj



Wrote the following story... links are highlighted...please feel free to click.

Imagine Free

By rcloenen-ruiz 2008

Imagine you live in this city called "Free".You moved to this city when you were a child, and your parents told you there was no place in the world like this city where the sky is wide and blue and the possibilities stretch out into forever.

“Here, you have room to dream and to become what you dream,” your parents say. “Everyone in this city is free to be who he is and everyone in this city no matter where they are from is part of the fabric of what makes Free a wonderful place to live.”

One night, there is a pounding on the door. Your parents wake up, you wake up, your baby brother wakes up.

“Open up,” the voice shouts. “Open up in the name of the law.”

Still half-asleep, your father stumbles to the door and opens it to a nightmare.

Lights shine into your faces. Harsh voices make your baby brother cry. Hard hands slam you up against the wall, and you hear your father asking, “What is it? What have we done wrong?”

Pressed up against the cold wall, you think of a movie you have seen. Of men in uniform with dogs in tow, slamming helpless men and women to the wall, shouting accusations and curses and finally snatching them up and tossing them into the back of a truck.

“This is just a dream,” you tell yourself. “In the morning, I will wake up and laugh about it.”

All through the long ride to a place outside the city, you think you must be dreaming. When they shine light into your eyes, and spit into your face, when they call you names you don’t understand, and threaten you with pain, you think you are simply trapped inside a nightmare, and you wait for your mother to come and shake you awake.

In this nightmare, these people tell you that you are a threat to the fabric of all that is Free. They tell you that your very presence in this city gives birth to terror and unrest.

“Confess your hatred of the city,” they say.

“I do not hate the city,” you reply.

But no one seems to hear you.

You are put in a room that looks like a box. They pour water down your throat and when you pee in your pants and soil yourself they laugh and mock you.

“What an uncivilized beast,” they say.

They set you in front of a table while a man hurls accusations and words and threats and curses. You wish they would let you sleep, but when you ask for rest, they look at you with wild eyes and tell you there is no rest for beasts like you.

“Confess,” they say. “Confess your crime.”

“Please,” you whisper. “Can I go home?”

But you have no home, they tell you. You came to this city, a stranger, and strangers must pay if the city demands it.

“We have informers,” they hiss. “Make it easier on yourself. Confess your crime.”

But you don’t understand what crime they mean. The only crime you ever committed was in loving the city. When you tell them this, the man-in-charge grows red with rage.

Before they tie you up, before they hitch you up to the beam on the roof and turn you into the parody of a crucified man, you think of all the dreams you once cherished about this city. When they stretch your body wide, and mock you with guns and threats, when they drag you back from oblivion into pain time and again, you wonder whether this is what your parents dreamed of when they left behind a country to embrace this city called Free.

woensdag 26 maart 2008

a family incident

today
grandfather forgot
who he was.

his
voice thundered
through the house

resurrected
after many
years of silence.


today
grandfather forgets
80 years happened

he looks up
sees his
sons

and wonders who
are these
strangers.

today
grandfather gets
taken to psychiatry

where
finally he'll
have his say

today
grandfather will
discover the world

beyond
the haze
today has become.

today
grandfather will
sleep and dream

like a baby.

woensdag 19 maart 2008

some thoughts...

Burning the midnight oil as we chase the deadline for the International Women's Day article for Munting Nayon. I am waiting for our beloved chairperson to get back to me with edits and whatever else needs to be done on the piece.

I am thinking of Twie Tjao's speech on International Women's Day. In her speech, she speaks out against social injustice. I am on the same page with this woman. I think of how much I've changed since I started out on this writing journey. I'm not living in a haze. I'm awake, I'm alert, I'm aware of what's going on around me (even without tv).

And there's nothing like working on several articles summarizing different Women's Day celebrations to bring home this awareness of how misogyny, racism, and discrimination are very much alive and well in the world today.

There's this dream to put together an anthology of the lives of my fellow migrant women. Why? So, the generations that follow will not forget how the pioneers have struggled and pushed on even in the face of discouragement and opposition.

I remember my father saying to me sometime ago: Is this what you want to write about? Are you content to write about other writers and other authors and other people's books?

I suppose he'll have to add to that: Are you content to write about other people's lives and accomplishments?

To be honest...I am. I think it's like some sort of mission in life that I've embraced as my own. To promote and support other writers and artists and poets to the best of my abilities, to support and uplift strong women.

Why? Because I believe that these people have the power to inspire and encourage others and because these are the stories that when given back to the people will encourage them to dream and change the fabric of the future.

dinsdag 18 maart 2008

World Banker and His Cash Return Home -- This article from the New York Times, illustrates the migrant situation.

Some quotes that I thought were pertinent to all migrants:

With regards to remittances home:

Mr. Ratha has argued that the importance of the money exceeds its sheer size. Unlike foreign aid, it cannot be skimmed by potentates. Unlike investors who flee crises, migrants increase their giving during hard times. The money is directed to the needy. And Mr. Ratha contends it is well-monitored, too, by intimates on the sending end. “It comes with a lot of goodwill, advice, knowledge and punishment if necessary — keeping in mind the welfare of the recipient,” he said.

And there is common thing that resonates with almost every migrant:

Globe-trotting technocrat, village boy made good, Mr. Ratha is like many migrants torn between two worlds and fully at home in neither. “On bad days, I do feel lonely in a way that I can’t explain,” he said.

pics

Here are my boys. Joel's in the train engineer's seat, and Samuel's just at that almost toddling stage.




Found via Leigh Dragoon's livejournal: this pro-girl blog called, Packaging Girlhood. Provides thought-provoking and well-written articles.

zondag 16 maart 2008

a brief recap

There were about 50 women present during the Bayanihan International Women's Day celebration, and the Hope Away from Home book was launched quite successfully :) I thought it went quite well, but as this was a first for me, I have no idea how it equates in terms of how launchings go.

I read a section from "Falling in Love" which was previously published on Chickflicks, and which happens to be one of my favorite sections as it describes perfectly how I felt moving to a strange, new country, falling in love and discovering that just because you fall in love it doesn't mean everything's going to be perfect and you're going to live happily ever after. (of course, I knew that ... but this relates to falling in love with a country too ).

I thought the speaking parts went quite well too. We had an amazing guest speaker,Twie Tjao, who is head of the organization ZAMI (Colored Migrant Women in the Netherlands). She gave this inspiring talk and talked about her own history and how the choices she made influenced who she is today and the choices she makes today. She is an incredibly inspiring woman and I felt so privileged to hear her speak.

There were two other ladies besides myself who also gave their own speeches. One of them, shared with us the story of her struggle towards success and how she overcame all the obstacles in her path through sheer courage and determination. This was a woman who had been born in poverty, whose parents considered education as unnecessary, and who worked from the age of 7 just so she could earn enough money to go to school. Hearing her story, I couldn't help but applaud the spirit of this woman who through her own efforts completed a college education, landed a good job, chose love over money, and after achieving success, reached out and helped those less fortunate than herself. She had this beautiful, radiant aura about her... and I think of how it's stories like these that people need to hear.

Actually, when I think of the women present during the event, I think of how each of these women are successful women. Having struggled through hardship, homesickness, racism, and descrimination, these women are the women who integrate while retaining their identity. I keep thinking of the stories each woman has to tell, how the life histories of each of us connect to the other, and how together we form a lifegiving chain.

I think of how each woman needs a historian or needs to tell their own story so that it can be recorded and remembered for the next generation, and I realize this is why it's important for women to keep on writing.

Totalling up book sales at the end of the day, we'd sold 25 books :) The consul from the Philippine Embassy was present, and bought a copy of the book for the Embassy Library.

I did wish for the presence of Mrs. Feliciano, as it feel so strange to be congratulated on a book that I'd only co-written, and not authored by myself. I had to keep repeating : I am not the author. I am just the co-author. It probably feels like how an apprentice would feel if congratulated for a work their master had produced and where they'd been allowed to contribute tiny bits of knowledge to.

If anything, I came away from the experience more determined than ever to press on and to someday write a book of my own.

donderdag 13 maart 2008

updates



I think I may have found a new hobby. Made this during the self-image workshop at the Rotterdam International Women's Day celebration. According to other workshop attendees, the lady looks like me :)

I'm recovering from a bout with the flu. Have been down for almost a week now. I just can't seem to find sleep, so I thought I'd tinker about and update this blog a bit.

woensdag 12 maart 2008



Pageants. Are they really necessary? And what is it with us Filipinos that we feel our beauty queens have to speak english even if they can't? Would a Filipina answering in Filipino be an insult to the world of pageantry? In fact, for a beauty pageant called "Binibining Pilipinas" which purports to promote the image of the Filipina, I think it would be more important for candidates to speak the national or regional language.

I mean, I know a lot of Filipinas who are articulate in their native language but struggle with English. It doesn't make them any less intelligent or detract from their beauty.

I think it's time Filipinas liberated themselves from this ideal of the "beauty queen" as being someone who speaks good English. I mean, if you grew up speaking English and it's your first language, go ahead and speak it, but if your first language is Tagalog or Ilocano or Ilonggo or Visayan or Cebuano, I say go ahead and speak the language of your choice because it's the language in which you can best express yourself.

Watching this video and other related commentary, I found myself wondering why, why, why are we so obsessed with teaching the misses to speak straight English. So, let them go to the International competitions and speak their native tongue. Other candidates from other countries do it.

So yeah, this sort of disgusted me...and the comments on youtube...

What's with the "if you're beautiful, you don't need brains" theme. Good lord. Talk about going back to the stone ages!

vrijdag 7 maart 2008

on memoirs and hoaxes

Someone on Liberty Hall pointed out this article about the latest memoir hoax.

I wonder whether it's some sort of schizophrenia or whether once the ball gets rolling, the author feels there's no way of stopping it and the only thing to do is cross your fingers and hope to God you don't get caught.

The thing is, when a reader picks up a book and it says memoir on the cover, we do expect and trust the author to be telling us the truth about her life. As it happened to the author and not to someone else.

If it's not the truth about your life, well there is this category called "fiction".

dinsdag 4 maart 2008

International Women's Day



In connection with Bayanihan's launching of Hope Away from Home, I'll be in Rotterdam on the 8th of March, probably standing behind Bayanihan's Information booth touting the Hope Away from Home book. Since I'm attending a concert in the evening, I'll be leaving early, but the book will be available for something like five euros. All proceeds from the book are going towards the Bayanihan fund.

Here's the location for the Information Market:
Zadkine OC Welzijn, Sport en Cultuur, Benthemstraat 15, Rotterdam
There's more info on Rotterdam's International Women's Day Celebration at:
http://www.donadaria.nl

zondag 24 februari 2008

shameless self-promotion

Reflection's Edge has published it's late February issue with my short story, Rituals of Grief.

donderdag 21 februari 2008



Samuel's November Photo

My bro wanted to see a photo of Samuel, so here's one of the most recent ones on the computer. I still have to upload some photos from the camera...so you'll have to wait for that.

This week has been really super-busy. I've barely had time to go online.

Monday, we went to the class I'm taking. The class is held in Alsmere which is about 45 minutes from where I live, and we left the building at eleven in the evening. There was this thick mist on the highway, and coming home was really tense as sight visibility was about a couple of meters. I don't know how much, I'm not good at that. Suffice it to say, that if a car was in front of us, the lights were barely visible. And it was pretty much like driving all alone in the dark. Thank goodness for our awesome driver who got us home safe and sound just a few minutes short of midnight.

Jan came and met me on his bike, and even though it was chilly and misty, it was nice biking home with him. Sort of like being in the boyfriend-girlfriend stage, we were. lol. I think this course is good for more things than just Sunday School. It's certainly added a romantic note to our marriage ;) You know, bike rides at close to midnight, holding hands in the dark...walking an extra round around the block, and simply chatting. Every marriage needs that.

We're thinking of taking an evening off and going out to have dinner with just the two of us, sometime soon. We just need to contract a babysitter.

maandag 18 februari 2008

temporary disturbances

Our computer has been in a bit of trouble. Some of it due to a download that affected everything else and caused a temporary absence from the ether. We're back online though, and I'm happy to say Word is usable again. Yay.

I received a lovely email from Sharon Dodge accepting Rituals of Grief for an upcoming issue. I'm looking forward to being in Reflection's Edge again. I dithered for a long time before sending them another story as they'd published World in A Bubble in 2006, and I tend to get really perfectionist about work that I send in to a market I'm trying to get into for a second time. I did a little leap in the air when I saw the acceptance email :)

Last week's flash challenge at Liberty Hall went surprisingly well. I was quite ecstatic about having my first Liberty Hall challenge win. Yayness. I got to supply the trigger for the weekend challenge (agonized about whether I'd done it right, I did), but didn't get to join in because of microsoft weirdness.

I posted my lengthy Children of the Sun for critting in the polish challenge, but it looks like it's begging to be turned into a novel. Ow! Oh well...

On other news, Stichting Bayanihan has decided to launch the Hope Away from Home book on International Women's Day.

I've been invited to give a short talk on the choices that we make. Since I'm fonder of being in the background than being onstage, I'm already a bit nervous...what will I say?

I loved the email I received from Strange Horizons with regards to my small histories, and I've decided to give the stories leeway and let them expand and fill out the space they want to fill. I love how Paraluman is coming to life quite nicely. What started out as a protest against governmental abuse of tribal rights seems to be growing into something different and new. It combines all the stuff I've been thinking about. I like this new direction and well...I suppose I can't keep preventing stories from turning into novellas if they want to go that direction. I have to accept the inevitable and run with it, I suppose.

Being myself though, I must confess the short form is much easier for me than the novel or novella form.

I would like to send something new to Route's new anthology. I'm hoping I can find my UK stamps so I can send off my submission to Ian Daley. The Skin byteback publication has provided so many lovely offshoots. I'm quite, quite happy.

zaterdag 9 februari 2008

I just signed my name to this petition. If you'd like to sign it to, drop me a message and I'll send you a copy of the email.

Over the last few weeks in South Africa, a two year old was abducted from her crèche and raped and left in the bush, where she was found crawling around and crying, by an old woman, two hours after her abduction.

Another child in a pre-primary school was molested, and the authorities have done nothing. We have all heard the story of Sheldean Human who was abducted and brutally murdered close to her home.

A while ago a 3 year old girl was beaten and raped. She is still alive. The man responsible was released on bail. He is walking the streets.

If you are too busy to read this then just sign your name and forward this on. The Government is planning to close the child protection unit and this is a petition against it. This is a very important petition. It is an essential part of the justice system for children.

You may have already heard that there's a myth in South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. The younger the virgin, the more potent the cure. This has led to an epidemic of rapes by infected males, with the correspondent infection of innocent kids. Many have died in these cruel rapes.

Recently in Cape Town , a 9-month-old baby was raped by 6 men. Please think about that for a moment.

The child abuse situation is now reaching catastrophic proportions and if we don't do something, then who will?

Please don't be complacent, do something about the kids of South Africa . You can make a difference. This is just one of the million cases of child abuse, so please pledge your support and help keep CPU (CHILD PROTECTION UNIT) open. Please give your support to the petition and ensure that it goes to as many people as possible. Please don't just leave it, make a difference. In order to write your name copy this message and paste it in a new mail (compose). Or click on forward and add your name to the list and send it on to others.

America, land of the beautiful, the good and bla, bla, bla

America,land of the beautiful, land of the good...land of the bla, bla, bla. Leigh Dragoon posted the link to this article: Veterans having no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reading it made me feel really sick. I wouldn't be human if this didn't move me one bit. Talk about all kinds of ways in which the Bush Administration has failed to show it has a heart.

I remember seeing a clip on youtube about a young soldier. He was crouched down under a table or a bench during mortar fire. The young soldier just kept on crying and repeating over and over again, oh god, oh god, let it stop.

I question a government that drafts young men and pushes them into a war they didn't ask for. I question a government that does not have the heart to care for the needs of these young men when war has broken and shattered pieces of who they are forever.

maandag 4 februari 2008

There's this Filipina writer living in France, whose essay won second place in last year's Carlos Palanca awards. I am hoping she'll be open to doing an interview for Munting Nayon. So here's keeping fingers and toes crossed.

Her winning essay can be found
here
.

donderdag 31 januari 2008

writer's economics

Some Stats:

I'm doing better than I thought.

Since January 2008:

New stories written: 4
stories polished: 6
stories out: 8
rejections: 2 very nice ones. (One market liked the piece but the piece didn't fit the market. The second reject was also a positive one, liked the piece but was overbooked on that subject (alas) and an invite to send in something else on another subject.)


I've got my pdf copy of Flash Me Magazine where my story, Gift, appears.

Here's what Jeannie Eddy has to say about Gift: “This tension-filled, goosebump-inducing tale gives new meaning to our fear of things that go bump in the night.”

Flash Me is one of the best markets for flash fiction (there aren't very many of those around), and I'm really pleased to have made it in there.