Thursday, December 31, 2009

pioneer (illustration friday)

(unfortunately, because my scanner is so small, i couldn't scan the entire image for you... hopefully, i'll have a new scanner by the weekend. and can rescan/upload again... or feel free to donate your old yet operating scanner to me! ;))

usually, i think "outside the box" when i get a prompt like pioneer. i didn't want to draw the archetypal westward bound american pioneer.

at first i saw images of lone figures in desperate landscapes... but i wasn't really inspired... then, i considered illustrating some pioneering fashion like issey miyake or thierry mugler or some harajuku or steampunk fashion... still nothing came to me...

so, i went back to the idea of the frontiersmen, the gold rush pan handlers, the chuck wagons and cowboys... one of my prized books in my fashion/costume book collection is "what people wore - a visual history of dress" by douglas gorsline. often the fashion history books give only what was trendy/fashionable from the time period, not necessarily what was worn everyday. gorsline's book on the other hand, illustrates a large cross section of the everyday clothes worn by different economic/social classes from ancient times until the early 1920s.

among the the characters depicted in the frontier/plains sections of the book were the outlaws and amongst them were some infamous ladies - Rose Dunn aka Rose of the Cimarron, Martha Jane Canary-Burke aka Calamity Jane and Pearl Hart.

i wondered what the childhoods of those three ladies were like and what if anything from their pasts informed the choices they made later in life...

i also wonder (a lot) about my own children and their future... and what, if anything, might make them turn into notorious outlaws... especially since they often perpetrate crimes and misdemeanors ending in multiple time outs already... but that's a whole other post for another day...

anyhoo... there it is... my truncated, unfinished (i still plan on coloring and shading in) and somewhat disturbing immortalization to some pioneering "bad girls".

and btw - best wishes for a happy new years eve, everyone! and a bright, peaceful and inspiring 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy holidays!!!

just wanted to send out my best heartfelt wishes for a peaceful, relaxing, bright healthy and happy holiday season, and the same for the coming year! thank you so much for coming here to read my ramblings and for leaving comments. you help me to keep writing and continually challenge/inspire my creative process! :)

re: the basket of toys above:

almost every year, my (very large) family says that we won't exchange christmas presents... that we'll be "allowed" to buy a $15 secret santa present... and then, every year, everyone (exept me - i play by the rules. sometimes...) still goes and buys everyone else a present.

this year, i didn't buy a secret santa present. partly, because our funds were very low. but in the event that my family still ends up overbuying... i made a buch of bears for the kids in the family. (the pattern can be found in the book Toys to Sew by designer Claire Garland). For the adults, i made a banana/walnut/cherry bread and a compilation cd of swing/jazz/big band christmas music.

anyhoo... i have a few more bears and breads to make... and presents to wrap... and even the last handful of holiday cards to address and post... children to mind, feed, care for, clean and dress for the aforementioned family party... and i haven't even showered myself yet...

ah, the holidays - they don't kill you, they make you stronger... :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

my kingdom for a set of size 4 needles...

i just made "megan's ruffled neck warmer" designed by megan b. wright. unfortunately, i had to use a set of size 7s - as they're the smallest straight needles i have... so, the scarf itself is not nearly as dense as i would like... very noodle-y... the ruffle however, still billows and undulates... it's entertaining...

so, i will have to cave and buy yet another set of needles... and make another. shucky darn! :) the pattern is from 101 designer one-skein wonders edited by judith durant.

i've been very good about NOT buying armfuls of yarn for no reason as of late... although, i am guilty of bringing home an itty-bitty-yarny-clearance-binny-somethin'-somethin'... to add to my growing collection of random string... lying in wait... like dust bunnies... in this drawer, that bag, and this other box, etc... and i also have orphaned vintage buttons that are just crying out to be used on something like this...

kismet, no?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

yes, virginia, you CAN wear a miniskirt in a blizzard...

so, it took me a couple of years (no joke)... but i finally finished these warm and toasty legwarmers... just in time for our first blizzard of the year... :)

they were super easy to make... but for whatever reason (two children, house foreclosure, moving stress) i couldn't get myself motivated to finish the second leg warmer after i zipped thru the first one...

i used 4 skeins of filatura di crosa malizioso yarn, bought from my friend carol's shop - my sisters' knits. i cast on 56 stitches, divided evenly among 3 needles. i used 4 size 8 DPNs. (then, i should've placed a marker for the beginning of the round but i didn't. my bad.) then, i just knitted a rib - K2, P2 - for 24" and bound off.

Monday, December 07, 2009

happy 4th birthday, porkchop!

i don't know how you do it, buddy... but, you amaze me with every passing day... i love you, little man! happy happy birthday!!

and with respect to the men and women who were lost on pearl harbor day:

thinking of you too, grandpa dallas, flying loop de loops up there in heaven! :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

crunchy (illustration friday)

when i first thought of "crunchy" i thought of snow... and after a few failed and uninspired attempts at drawing that... i thought of a zombie eating a bowl of bones... another idea that also failed to materialize...

and then, i actually heard a "crunching" sound and found my son eating a lollipop. and that reminded me of this:

so, i put my son in glasses, an owl hat and a graduation cap eating an orange tootsie pop. :) he kinda looks like harry potter though... not quite what i was going for.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


my first (pen/ink on bristol) contribution to:

...the first thing that came to mind when i read "entangled" was knitting when my hair was still long - past my waist. it often tangled up in my knitting, but i didn't mind, it made the scarf or hat even more a part of me...

fer sh*ts & giggles... here it is in negative:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

at one time, i owned three strollers... true story.

i love this quote:

" much as the magazines make motherhood look pretty, and it often is awesome, it's also fucking hard, and we're tired, and we get slammed both for working and for not working, for paying both too much and too little attention to our children. And for all the relentless, glaring focus on individual mothers and their "choices," someone -- just ask MomsRising -- forgot to figure out a way to give our families paid leave and affordable health and child care, to which yes, mothers in the United States should be entitled. We're not saying we deserve a seat more than you do. But we would like to raise our children in a culture that is more generous to everyone..."

from this article by lynn harris.

my filipino parents were awesome

just an fyi - i have a new post up at filipina moms blog - my filipino parents were awesome.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


i've been listening to aimee mann's "@#%&*! Smilers" and her song, phoenix, has been on my mind a lot... sometimes, i actually skip it... so i think maybe it's just a sign for me to write it... out? off? away?

anyway, the lyrics remind me (and probably everyone else) of a former flame - mine was a fine, young man from arizona. we were together for a few years... here in chicago and later, in san francisco. (BTM - before thin man.)

we met as mutual friends/parts of an artsy circle from college - film folks who worked with costume folks who talked shop with fashion design folks, etc... we drank. we dated. we threw caution to the wind and moved in together too fast...

but, i firmly believe we really and truly loved. i have such lovely memories of reading books together under blankets and hats in our apartment with no working heater... collaborating on work - my words/poetry, my body swipe, even the apartment made appearances in his short ambient films... al fresco picnics on blankets... a lot of sunny laughter and music... even the dark days when there was a small death... with day after night of regret and despair.... contemplating marriage and babies and cats... so much discovery and wonder and heavy thinking... and saying i love you and meaning it...

i moved to san francisco first... for work. there was even a teary "frank capraesque" see ya later at a train station platform and everything...

and our plan was for him to come out when he graduated.... which he did. and then a few months later, he decided to move to los angeles... for work. there was a teary goodbye... and then he actually came back after only a few minutes away, crying... saying he couldn't leave... it was very cameron crowe... it was hard for me to let go too.

but i got him to leave and then, we blundered our way thru a breakup... slowly... and over a handful of awkward long distance phonecalls...

and this is where aimee mann reminds me:

"i don't want to abandon you,
but baby i've had my fill....

and if you get the chance again...
i know you'd do the best you can.
but baby love doesn't change anything at all.
i know love doesn't change a thing"

'cause what neither of us was ready to accept, even though it was painfully evident - was that we were over. that we were headed in different directions. that the love was still there, but love wasn't going to change where our lives were taking us...

looking back now, i'm glad we met. and loved. and lost each other at last.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i am thankful...

on nov. 5th, i tweeted (usage?) a pic of my cat lying down on my incomplete drawing of a tree.

i was drawing the tree for a crafty thanksgiving project at paloma's request. after the tree drawing was finished, i made umpteen gazillion leaves in fall colors. and for the past few weeks, we've been writing down what we are thankful for on the leaves and taping them onto the tree:

following is the random list of what we are thankful for (insert my commentary):

our new house
the porkchop
the sea
grandma and lola (filipino grandmother)
hair (?!)
stella and bailey (our cats)
me (as in paloma, not me, as in mamazilla)
the moon
fire and warmth
hello kitty (wtf!!??)

all my friends at school
ms. suzen (his teacher)
my bed
train DVDs
my brown blankie
cars and trucks
my brown stripe puppy (who isn't striped actually & changes gender daily)

the love of family
the porkchop
the paloma
the thin man
indoor plumbing

(i would've wrote down more, but hello - i am a stay at home mom... i'm only rationed off a few minutes to utilize the indoor plumbing.)

the thin man:
well, he didn't write anything down.... not that he's not thankful for anything... he's just "above" all the crafty balderdash and gobbeldygook... and he has this irrational and paralyzing fear that if he so much as looks into a disembodied googley eye or slightly brushes by a fuzzy pipecleaner - he will be forever emasculated and/or possibly gelded by some unseen mystical crafting force.

happy, happy thanksgiving from our house to yours! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

shedding the cocoon

yesterday afternoon, i finally got the strength to do something i've been putting off for a while now.... i gave the bassinet away. :(

i remember waddling into the sears to buy it just a week or two before the paloma was born. the thin man picked it up and brought it upstairs. and as usual, i put it together. :)

i have so many fond memories of putting a sleeping paloma into it:

...and taking a screaming paloma out of it. no, i didn't forget.

it held porkchop for a little while, but we caved and let him sleep with us until he transitioned to the crib. six years later, the paloma was using it to play pretend mommy with her triplet, fraternal, multiracial baby dolls.

now, in the reality of the new (and much smaller) apartment, i was finally ready to give the bassinet to a family who could make new memories with it.

jeez. what's next? :')

Saturday, November 21, 2009

national adoption day

i have so many friends who have adopted children and enriched their already full lives.... and a handful of friends who were adopted as children into wonderful families... thinking of all of them on national adoption day. :)

Find more videos like this on National Adoption Day

Thursday, November 19, 2009


a little over a month ago, the paloma came home with an assignment (an "orbital study") to study a subject - any subject of her choice, write a report and create an exhibit to present to the class...

so, the paloma decides to study: giraffes... *sigh*

i know, they're cute, graceful, wonders of nature... blah, blah, blah...

we had four weeks to research, which we did - online and at the library. we knew anything and everything about the giraffe. and yet, i procrastinated helping her when it came to actually writing everything down and creating the presentation...

honestly, the paloma is something of a crab when it comes to homework in general... sometimes it's a downright wrestling match. so, just imagining what it would be like, getting her through writing a one page report, just stopped me in my tracks.

then, i couldn't get inspired to help her with a presentation because i just wasn't all that jazzed about the subject matter.

so, i punted. and ordered pizza.

and after inhaling some cheesy goodness, found inspiration inside the pizza box as well.

it looked like a little stage to me... a little stage that could be dressed to look like africa... with some giraffes... and a little pond.... maybe an acacia tree? i started by pitching the idea to paloma - that we could make little origami giraffes. she jumped at the challenge. :) btw - check out this GINORMUS origami giraffe.

we got paper and started making giraffes... we practiced first - about 20 times... then, paloma made five yellow giraffes for her project - two parents and three babies. she added in the spots with brown pencil.

i cut out a pond shape into the bottom of the pizza box and taped some aluminum foil into it:

paloma painted in the grass and the sky...

paloma made a cloud out of construction paper and wrote "giraffes in africa" on it. and failing to find origami instructions for an acacia tree - i ended up cutting one out of poster board. with an exacto knife. for like hours...

the sun is an AWESOME 8 point origami star (found at - you really need to make this one... or at least watch the video - so fun and easy! paloma made the one in the project.

here is the finished project. we added in a couple of "hands on" teaching tools: the navy blue fabric you see is a "giraffe tongue". we found out the color, length and width of an actual tongue and i sewed one up out of some extra fleece i had lying about. second, a giraffe hoof is the size of a dinner plate. so, i used a dinner plate as a guide and made a "hoof". the kids loved seeing how long the tongue was and compared their teeny feet to the plate. paloma got 30 points out of a possible 30 points. :)

UPDATE 11/27/09: i just sent a picture of paloma's giraffes to onemilliongiraffes. and it was posted! if you or your child have made giraffes - please help this collector reach the goal and send them in! :)

special thanks to bloggo chicago for the heads up! :)

Monday, November 09, 2009

sailed off thru night and day, in and out of weeks...

have shipwrecked on beach. discovered wild things.
shoes are wet. otherwise, am ok. little scared... but ok.

"I took my lucky break and I broke it in two.
Put on my worried shoes, my worried shoes.

Took me so many miles, and they never wore out.
My worried shoes. My worried shoes.

oo oo oo oooooo oooooo, my worried shoes.

I made a mistake that I never forgot.
Tied knots in the laces of my worried shoes.

Every step that I take is another mistake.
I march further and further away in my worried shoes.

oo oo oo oooooo oooooo, my worried shoes.

My shoes took me down a crooked path.
Away from our welcome mats, my worried shoes.

I looked all around and saw the sun shining down.
Took off my worried shoes, my worried shoes.

oo oo oo ooooo oooooo, oo oo oo ooooo oooooo, my worried shoes."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

walking the walk...

free range kids blog recently posted about "the ancient locomotive practice" of walking children to school. i was immediately reminded of a time, some winter recently passed, when i was walking the paloma to school and another parent actually stopped the car she was driving (not to mention the traffic behind her) and said "so, you're going to walk every day?" to which i responded, "yes, pretty much everyday, everywhere." she smiled back at us and said, "i was wondering how you were going to do it. that's terrific!"

it never occurred to me that anyone would wonder how we'd acclimate ourselves to walk around the city in the winter. or that we'd gear up differently than anyone else and then, i realized that we do dress and prepare ourselves differently and that it's possible that people who drive all the time might not realize how easy it really is and how little gear it takes... as i have mentioned before, most of the time i buy stuff second hand, on clearance or at the dollar store. however, when it comes to gear i know will be seeing a LOT of use in the future, i will spend more money.

early in my new mom days, in the spring, when it was just me and paloma, my walking gear consisted of three things i never left home without:

baby bjorn (i know, it's so not ergo and/or earthy... i was a newbie.)
maclaren triumph stroller
eddie bauer diaper bag

when high summer heat hit us, i added a spray bottle full of water to keep the both of us cool.

eventually, the rains poured down and umbrellas and raincoat hoods went up. and then, the snows blew in... i purchased a bjorn carrier cover for when we were walking w/o the stroller... and an ecofleece blanket and overalls, hat and coat from (my former employer) laurenceleste. i purchased a stroller snuggly from one step ahead for when we used the stroller. a rain shield came with the maclaren when we bought it.

for me, i purchased a lands end squall parka and lands end all weather mocs. i still have them, still in very good condition, 6 years later. i did purchase some michael kors snowflake boots for the big blizzard accumulation snow days....

when paloma actually started walking, she wouldn't stop. i think she was still wearing robeez at that time. and she stopped for every little itty bitty thing that caught her eye - the ants, the dandelions, the puddles made by a sprinker, the pebbles in the sidewalk cracks... a two block walk would take hours. rarely, did she want to get in the stroller.

fall was a wonderland for her. i'd purchased a matching raincoat, umbrella and rainboots from kidsurplus. and she LOVED puddle jumping. she still does. since getting over my initial inhibitions (oh! the germs! the dirt! what will the neighbors think!?), both children have outgrown numerous raingear sets. paloma has a little mermaid set now. the porkchop has a mix and match of curious george boots and umbrella and a cow raincoat. thankfully, they have not outgrown the passion of puddlejumping.

anyway back in 2004, when winter hit, we bought the paloma some snow flurry boots from lands end and a warm coat from H & M on clearance. the ladies at laurenceleste had bought her a beautiful suede and sheepskin hat as a baby present. we had moved to a new neighborhood, that turned out to be pretty hilly. so, i purchased a baby jogger 2 bought second hand on craigslist - just in case the paloma got tired. i also bought a jogging stroller sized rain shield and a larger stroller snuggly from one step ahead. a friend of mine purchased some stroller swivelers for me - which were priceless!

it still took forever to get anywhere, but eventually, she'd tire out and would beg for the stroller. however, around my 6th or 7th month of pregnancy with the porkchop, i was getting too tired/winded to push her in the stroller after a long walk so, i stopped bringing it with us. she was BEYOND crabby after a lengthy walk to the park or to preschool. a good walk always helped her forget that she didn't have the stroller - until she hit "the wall".

after the porkchop arrived, we recycled the baby bjorn for a while... and i traded in my eddie bauer bag for a pretty, girly fleurville mothership bag - just because. the porkchop got his own set of laurenceleste fleece wear too.

then, he graduated into the maclaren. at some point, i realized that the paloma was still getting too tired on some longer walks so, we bought (for $40 used on craigslist) a sit and stand stroller. again, i bought another double stroller sized rain shield from one step ahead.

still with me? so, we had the maclaren for short trips and usually for porkchop - paloma would walk. then, for longer walks and usually summer only, we had the sit and stand. for the winter, we had the baby jogger 2 and rarely, when the walks were shoveled and the weather in the 40s - we used the sit and stand. happily, all three strollers were rarely in use at the same time AND they were all collapsible. phew!

the paloma is now 6 yo and the porkchop is 3. i have since sold the baby jogger and the sit and stand. believe it or not, the maclaren is still with us. although, we rarely use it for the porkchop. he's quite happy to run and jump and skip... although, like his sister, has his limits and is BEYOND crabby when he hits "the wall". we'll be purchasing a new coat for him this winter, last years boots from lands end still fit, thankfully. both kids received handmedown snowsuits so, when the going gets tough (this winter), the tough will layer... apparently. :)

this summer, i did invest in a bike trailer to help us all get to the beach and various day camps/summer classes and diversions with our sundry and assorted gear... it also doubles as a stroller which has proven handy on inclement days. especially, most recently, when i was diagnosed with pneumonia, the paloma had walking pneumonia and the porkchop had a bad cold.

so! i challenge thee - driving only person - check out your walkscore (our old neighborhood ranked a 63 out of a 100), get your gear (or ours) together and get walking! it's OLD SKOOL! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the gift that keeps on giving...

waaaaay back in (i can't believe how long it's been) february 2005, the thin man and i went to a kurt halsey frederiksen show at (now dismantled?) wag artworks. the thin man even surprised me with a purchase of an original drawing "met a boy" (at left). upon meeting kurt halsey frederiksen, i was reduced to my cowering, shoegazing fangirl self and finally mumbled "can i take a picture with you?"

i pass my beautiful drawing every day and i was just wondering what kurt halsey frederiksen was up to anyway... and it turns out Rotofugi is having a show with him in june 2010. SA-WEET!

then, i noticed this sickenly saccharinated necklace THAT I MUST HAVE - available thru art star gallery & boutique in philly.

so, i ambled over there to see what else was going on and found a bevy of amazing artists, who after elaborate googling to find their individual websites, introduced me to even more mind blowing artists. i link to them below as a reminder to myself and a link loving gift to you:

jen corace

kathleen lolley

issac bushkin

stella im hultberg

jin young yu

carla bedini

polly verity

Thursday, September 10, 2009

be careful, be good, be nice...

it's that day, again...

a few nights ago, i saw a story on Primetime: Family Secrets about two sisters who also died in a tragic car accident on sept. 27th, 2006 - which would've been andra's 35th birthday. my deepest sympathies go out to the becker/caiafa families and friends. i can't imagine what it must be like for them but i know a similar bottomless loss of innocent loved ones at the hands/vehicles of careless people.

i can't believe my post above is 3 years old... i remember riding the trains and shielding myself in roaring white noise and numbness like it was yesterday... and now, 16 years have come and gone since my best friend and her sister passed away.

i started re-reading andra's letters to me about a week ago... right on schedule... the first one is dated september 18, 1989. the last one is dated february 23, 1993. they reside in a beautiful birds eye maple box that a woodworking artist/classmate made for me in college.

andra hated her senior year photo above, but it's one of the few i have where her eyes aren't closed or she isn't looking terribly annoyed, sheepish or evasive. i found it stashed in the box of letters and i'd forgotten about it, so i post it here now... somewhat conflicted... sorry, andra.

our 20 year high school reunion is fast approaching and i'm still sitting on the fence re: attending... for many reasons... foremost of which, the one person i'd want to see won't be there. ever.

looking back, high school was so traumatic and so painful for me and andra made the experience so much easier, so much more tolerable.... she was my personal spinal tap. she always reminded me that high school wasn't the end of the world and that it was ok that i didn't reach my own fairy tale pinnacle there - something as a teenager i had so much trouble recognizing or reconciling with... she knew that we didn't have much time to goof around and pretend we didn't know better. that instead of being youths, we were expected to grow up quickly and struggle to stay youthful forever. to me, time was infinite and constantly linear, but to andra it was inestimable, ephemeral and fluid...

i remember the summer before we went to college. i decided to stay in chicago and attend art school at columbia college and she was on her way to the "chilly willy world of the golden gophers", the university of minnesota - minneapolis. i was anxious about our being apart for so long with only winter and summer breaks to see each other - if we were lucky and had money and time to spare...

and then, i got a letter... her first letter is in a bright yellow envelope. my name and address are artfully and beautifully drawn in a whimsical script that only andra could have drawn. the letter, from salutation to farewell, is awash in exclamation points and CAPITALS. she was SO happy and excited to be in minnesota. she writes about every mundane thing in vivid detail... her stationery, her phone bill, her dorm room, her pretty roomate, her roomates tiresome boyfriend, the cafeteria food, her RA... she even draws a map of her room to illustrate her complaint re: some bookshelves which were inconveniently/incorrectly placed above her bed.

her window overlooked a small river which tempted her to adventure beyond the U and into dinkytown with all its shops and cafes, and the bounty of beautiful boys sprawled about. she ends the letter saying she loves me, that i am her neatest, favoritest, bestest friend. she was going to run the letter to the post office and mail it immediately so that i wouldn't think i'd been forgotten. she writes that she misses me a lot and loves me a lot and hopes i am taking care of myself. and that she would call soon to make sure i was eating enough marzipan.

her last letter is written on onion skin paper. the envelope is a bisque color and like every other letter, my name and address are exquistely printed by her hand and to the left of my name is a bear hiding in an overgrown, overfed colorful flower bush. her handwriting and grammar and sentence structure is more poised but relaxed in this letter.

she complains about another exhausting, cold winter and her sad, housebound cat (also illustrated in detail at left margin) and about my excessive drinking and well... all the other extra curricular activities i would involve myself in while under the influence... she enjoys my stories and living vicariously thru me (she was in a long term, committed relationship). she approves of seduction, but not of teasing and definitely not of settling for what was "available"...

she complains and scolds about how often i devalue myself. she worries about my future and hers... sometimes seriously, sometimes humorously... that our futures are bearing down too fast in some situations and at too slow a pace in others. she had started packing to return to illinois and it was making her uneasy. her first day back she was attending a baby shower of a mutual high school classmate and reality again was weighing heavily on her mind... she was somewhat baby phobic when in their presence, but often admired their good qualities from a distance.

the letter ends very abruptly with a few enthusiastic sentences about charlie chaplin - she watched some of his films and read his biography... feeding into her curiosity and reverence for history and nostalgia and the supernaturally talented... (i keep forgetting to pick up that biography.)

both her first and last letters to me end with "much love, Andra". however, andra usually ended her letters to me with the departing and cautionary phrase "be careful, be good, be nice, Andra". sometimes her letters were eight pages (sometimes 2 sided) long, and sometimes, i got two or three VERY BIG WORDS on a postcard...

today, my grieving feels as if i've reduced myself to a rat, scavenging thru leftover, but treasured scraps... the photos, the memories, the letters, the words, the gifts, the newspapers clippings, even a trio of soybeans i was given from the quiet, lush green, swaying field that witnessed the accident... what is it called when you're beyond grief, beyond desolate but also beyond acknowledgement or even reverie?

i miss andra so much.... i miss writing candid, earnest, loving letters to her and the excitement/anticipation of getting one in return. i miss telling her about new music i like or complaining about not enjoying a john irving book in decades... sharing with her the turmoils of being a fumbling parent or keeping a tangible balance in my life in an effort to remain sane... to retain what little i think i know about myself... and of course, there is the abundance of blessed joy that i feel in my life, that she always wanted me to have, that she prayed for and hoped for...

logically, i know i am lucky to have my letters... to see through her eyes, how i've evolved in 20 years and in what ways i haven't... but every passing year it becomes more difficult to imagine what she would look like now, where she would be living, what career/activites would be monopolozing her time, etc... it's as if i stand beside her, eternally waiting for a bus in evanston in 1993. my memory via cancelled us mail is an emotionless panorama via one way mirror.

sometimes i don't want to be careful, or be good, or be nice. i want to drink until my teeth are soft, walk slowly across a fast moving LSD and boorishly humiliate and violently injure strangers in public... but, i don't... i won't...

thank you, andra. my family thanks you. my children will read your letters one day and they will thank you and mourn your loss too... if i am granted the luxury of growing ancient and happy and look back on my life and recognize that i was half the resplendent human being you were - it will be enough.

i feel you still looking out for me from wherever you are... still encouraging me, still gently admonishing me.... thank you, bless you, i love you... i miss you so much it still hurts... it's been much too long since your last letter, please visit me in my dreams again if you can, i need all the counsel and comfort i can get...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"mama filipina"

just an fyi - i have a new post up over at filipina moms blog called "mama filipina"

and i'm just posting this again because... um, i can. :)

my sister and i have been emailing each other a lot lately. email has been such a godsend - although i miss getting actual letters in the mail (on silly sanrio stationary with twin stars or my melody on them), it amazes me how close she feels even though she's half a world away.

she's (and her husband) getting ready for her move to canada and crossing off all "the things to do" on her growing list... it's sad to hear that she is leaving for the same reasons our mother left decades ago - lucrative employment opportunities, "better" living conditions, a "safer" place to raise future children, money to send home, etc... and now, somewhat closer to family...

it's not a move that she's eager to make, but one that she feels is the right thing to do for this time in her life. she's worried about our father who will stay behind in manila as well as our other sister and her family and the extended family. she doesn't mention her friends very much, i think saying goodbye to them will be just as heartbreaking as saying goodbye to blood relatives.

above is the video for "mama filipina" by of the black eyed peas from his upcoming solo album "u can dream". i've been listening to it a lot lately. it's really been inspiring me to finish a book i've been trying to write about my mother and my childhood in chicago as part of an immigrant family.

i should really send a link to my sister. and come to think of it although my mom HATES "modern" music, i really think she'd appreciate the lyrics and nostalgia that revisits in the song and the video.

i may not have been born there. but often, i miss the philippines as if i was. it seems like everytime i go "home", someone else is missing, having left for the states or canada or new zealand, or worse - passed away, etc... what will it be like, one day, when i don't know anyone there anymore and i am truly a tourist just visiting?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

will dance for jollibee! :)

via angryasianman:

Spotted this super-fun video making the rounds... Here's a crazy flash mob of 300-plus people doing a mass-choreographed dance routine at the SM Mall of Asia in the Philippines, much to excitement and bewilderment of onlookers who weren't in on the seemingly spontaneous performance. The whole thing was apparently staged by Filipino fast food chain Jollibee. Why? I don't know. Why the heck not yet? Hey, this is the nation that brought you the dancing Cebu inmates. They are capable of anything!

i love that angryasianman asks "Why?" the pinoys are "spontaneously" dancing in unison... um, hello?! you might as well ask why is the sky blue? or why is water wet? or why do humans breathe? :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Passport to the Philippines 2009

this saturday and sunday, june 13 and 14, the Chicago Children's Museum is hosting the 2009 Passport to the Philippines event. i went to the 2008 presentation with the porkchop and paloma (and assorted titas, titos, cousins...) which included, arts & crafts demos from the philippines, traditional folk dancing, a small "taste of the philippines" (which RAN OUT OF FOOD right after i got there!!??), a yo yo expert (yo yo as weapon - aaawwwwkward) and booths with exhibits about philippine industry and history. all in all, we had a great time last year and hoped to attend this years event if it repeated. according to their website, the list of event participants has grown and flourished:

in addition to the Samhang Kapatid traditional dance performers, two contemporary dance troupes will be performing - O.U.T. and Miran. A martial arts group, Islanders Karate will be demonstrating modern arnis and dumog.

leading cooking demos this year - Jun San Juan and chef Jennifer Aranas of Rambutan restaurant and author of The Filipino Kitchen.

added to the traditional arts and crafts demos - kut kut artist Fred de Asis and Sherie Sloane.

i'm really excited to attend this weekend! full disclosure: as soon as Samahang Kapatid started dancing last year, i got a little choked up... watching the paloma and porkchop jockey for best viewing positions, their rubbernecking, their attention captured by the colorful and graceful dancers.. then, almost losing their bowls of pancit when they got up to voiciferously cheer and applaud the dancers...

i was so thankful that although another trip to the philippines (in actual size) is far in our future, that here in the land of lincoln, we could pool our wealth of resources together and offer up a little, precious, breathtaking slice of the islands to the stateside masses...

now, if we can only get a kalesa and a jeepney ride around the pier... ooh! and a fish ball vendor!

i REEEEALLY hope you'll take advantage of this great event! maybe we'll see you there!

* my one and only bowl of pancit... i was ROBBED.

* yes, eventually someone told this boy that these were instruments and not clothing. ;)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on being "colorblind"

often i find whenever i bring up a recent newsworthy incident about race and/or skin color, the response i get (from caucasian and people of color alike) is, "well, i don't see a person's color" to which i don't know how to respond... except to take the response as another way of saying, "i don't want to talk about this." and so i go with the flow and the subsequent change of subject...

a few weeks ago, i picked up the may '09 issue of chicago parent magazine and read this clear, thoughtful and positive letter written by kara wright, founder of mindhearted, inc. i was so thankful to kara for writing the letter and have read it often (see multiple coffee cup rings surrounding it...) and plan to use her advice in any future conversations about race, stymied by the "colorblind" flag.

for a while, i tried to find her letter on the magazine's website (my newsprint copy will not last much longer) and couldn't and had decided to post it here... well, as i said, a few weeks have past and i finally found it here. but the letter is posted below (hey, typing with my toes in a kitchen cabinet is a mad skill!) :

Colors and race matter

I love your magazine and use it as a relevant resource for my parenting needs every month. But I was really disappointed in some of the information shared in the article, Embrace the differences and similarities: New president helps open discussions about race in your home

As a parent and diversity practitioner who works specifically with parents who are committed to raising open-minded and compassionate children, I was very happy to see the article. However, I was absolutely horrified when reading the first tip that suggested, "Teach your kids to be color blind." While I cannot speak for all diversity practitioners or researchers who specialize in this field, I cannot think of one who would suggest that we teach our children to be color blind. Why? Because ALL of us notice variations in physical appearance (even very young children) that cause us to draw conclusions or raise the question as to what race a person is. Not doing so suggests that it’s not safe to discuss race or any difference and makes children feel as though they have done something wrong.

I applaud Ms. Monaghan for writing about this subject and appreciate some of the other tips from Ms. Clarke, but I can’t tell you how important it is to really understand a subject matter that highlights any of our society’s -isms (i.e. racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc). Why do people insist on suggesting being color blind is the answer? Because most are scared to death of being labeled racist. The fact is that noticing a person’s race does not make you racist. What does make you racist are judgments, assumptions and beliefs about that person’s intellectual, physical or emotional characteristics based on the race you think the person is.

More importantly, when one teaches their children to be color blind, what you’re really teaching them is that race doesn’t matter in America. I do believe the story of our nation is changing. I also believe and celebrate that the story our children will come to know will be different from the one I learned—thank goodness. But I think we should be honest—race still matters because racism is alive and well. Pretending otherwise negates the everyday experiences of millions of people of color in this country who still fail to have adequate access to health care, education and housing. Continued disparities in wealth, contracts granted in business and everyday experiences for people of color are still affected by race.

Yep, it’s a heavy subject and it is hard and painful to talk about for everyone. But if we really want to create change for our children so they can have a better world and a true opportunity at a "post-racial" society, we have to be honest with ourselves first and then with our children in appropriate ways. We also have to model and teach our children how to go beyond the concerns of a specific group to which we belong and recognize when another group is being discriminated against. It’s an injustice to us all. We can teach our children at all ages to speak up and advocate in ways where their physical or emotional safety is not compromised, but we have to be willing as parents to learn the skills.

Instead of putting the burden of defusing, diverting or departing on the person, child or adult who falls prey to racist or hurtful statements, we can teach our children a little skill called inquiry. It is a wonderful way to ask, "How did you reach your conclusion about this?" Usually the person making the statements then has to be the one to be accountable to defuse, divert or depart, not the one who is subjected to the racist remarks. And while it won’t magically change that person’s values or beliefs, sometimes a simple question can help us all to reflect. Something we all could do a lot more.

Founder of Mindhearted Inc.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

look ma, no hands!!!

just an fyi - i have a new post up titled look ma, no hands!! at filipina moms blog about jessica cox, an inspirational speaker who recently got her pilot's license despite being born without arms.

ok. full disclosure? i like my sensationalist tv... while the kids nap and after watching an hour of hysterical B movie horror reality tv (so not kidding), one can find me wide eyed and slack jawed watching.... inside edition...

i blame my lola and her addiction to soap operas...

anyhoo... there i was (slackjawed, wide eyed) and taking in the latest of celebrity meltdowns and random animal attack news when an inspirational segment aired about an armless pilot named jessica cox.

from her website:

"Born without arms, Jessica now flies airplanes, drives cars, and otherwise lives a normal life using her feet as others use their hands. She holds the title of the first person without arms in the American Tae Kwon-Do Association to get a black belt and the first woman pilot in aviation history to fly with her feet. She graduated college with a degree in Psychology and is pursuing a career as an international motivational speaker!"

here's the inside edition segment:

the segment aired a while ago, but i just found out today after a random google search that jessica is a mixed filipina with a filipina mom.

admittedly, i have conflicted feelings about news stories like this. i worry that tv shows will exploit truly inspirational individuals like jessica not unlike the carnival carnies who hawked tickets for a fairgound freak show.

but then again, as someone who grew up "different" (with a facial deformity) and without any role models, i want jessica to be more visible and successful as a motivational speaker and hope that more tv shows feature her to encourage those of us born "disabled" or "handicapped" to get beyond our fears and embrace our "otherness" and dream and acheive our biggest dreams.

personally, i let many superficial fears get in my way... i would often sell myself short or even self segregate myself from others or activities in a strange attempt at self preservation. i'll never know if i had seen/heard or met someone like jessica... if that would have changed my perspective on what my future could be...

i consider myself very lucky to have my own filipina mom as a strong role model and an energetic and stalwart cheerleader. although she believed (and still does) that i could do anything i could dream of doing, i always second guessed her and blamed her maternal bias for her confidence in me. in many ways, on a daily basis, my own weaknesses remind me of my mother's strength and her faith and i contemplate how it is that someone like me came from someone like her...

thank you, jessica for reminding me to conquer my fears... thank you, jessica's mom (and dad) for raising such a heroic young woman.... and thank you to my mom for everything - for being there when i woke up from surgeries, for finger combing my hair in the dark, for showing me how i could triumph thru adversity with my humor and creativity... ultimately, i'm a work in progress... and still really trying to be you when i grow up...


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