Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello 2013, Goodbye Agatha!

The Year of the Dragon brought forth an upheaval for me and my family. A major move from sunny San Diego to the Pacific Northwest in October made me feel like a rolling stone, but now that we’ve found a home we love and we are unpacking, I’m left feeling further removed from my culture and my island. There is no shortage of wonderful Chamorro family and friends here in Washington State, much like SoCal, but as my mother stressed upon hearing about our move, “You’ll be further from Guam now!”

Does calling Washington State my home betray my culture and my ties to Guam? I feel guilt when I merely think that this home we just moved into will be the home I envision myself and my family flourishing in for the long haul. I want to establish roots in this nice town we’ve invaded, but does that mean I’m turning my back on Guam, my family there, the home-island roots I love?

We’ve partied in our home numerous times with said Chamorros and loved every second. We speak of people we know and discovered that we are connected in many ways. The people we gravitated to here are the parents of two of my former students, wonderful A students who are now successful adults.

The pace of our new town is reminiscent of Guam, slower, calmer and easier; and different from California. Don't get me started on the wonderful air quality and the fact that Bruce Lee made this his home and final resting place, or the fact that grunge was born here...oh, the concerts I want to enjoy! I will mention the snow covered mountains are gorgeous this time of year, and the great wall of evergreen trees on my freeway drive is picturesque. Like Mother Nature is giving me a big hug.

Our home now is larger and cheaper than our home in SoCal too. I feel guilty when I update on Facebook with pictures and words about my new home because I feel like I’m offending and hurting my SoCal family.

But, as someone wise told me, “If you are truly happy here, then who cares what others think.” Maybe it’s the people pleaser in me (a small, diminutive lady who has her hair in a careful bun and cat eye frame glasses, she wears a gray pencil skirt and buttoned up top, clipboard in hand to keep tabs of whom she might offend with her actions)….I guess I need to put her away for now and be the barefoot, wind in the hair wild child I want to be.

This new town makes sense to me and my family. Our furniture even makes better sense in this house. So, with 2013 at our new doorstep, I’m going to live out my potential. I’m going to enjoy my new state. I’m going to tell that little people pleaser, let’s call her Agatha, to hush it, zip it, put a pin in it. I’m going to fully sit in this gorgeous state, rainy days and all and enjoy.

ESTA LATER and Happy New Year! Biba 2013!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

First Draft of Wonder Summer in the bag, thanks to NaNoWriMo!

Just a quick note from my still homeless self. Washington has been exciting and exhilarating since I moved here in October. I completed the first draft of my young adult novel, Wonder Summer, thanks to the push from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 50,057 words in 29 days.

It was possible! A marathon of writing.

So, now I can rest my head and fingers and let my characters have time to breathe. I need the break.

Going to do this once it stops raining!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I've Gone and Done It. I've signed up for NANOWRIMO.

I eat some comfort food (PB & Raspberry J on wheat) to fuel my literary creative juices tonight. I’ve decided, albeit late in the day to jump on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) bandwagon. Last year, I dedicated a November to blogging everyday, this year it will be for ‘noveling’. 50,000 words by November 30? Let’s do this.

I’ve had a young adult book idea festering in my brain since Comic Con in July. I’ve sputtered here and there, but today, I’m putting words onto virtual paper.

So without further adieu, later folks. Off to uphold this commitment, even if I’m still ‘homeless’ in Washington State. Now if only I could carry through with a weight loss plan, life would be perfect.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Whoa, is Washington.

It can be hard to warm up to a place when the current temperature is 47 degrees. The sun is out, but the wind is very chilled here in Everett, Washington State. The month of October has been both a blur and a life changing time for my family.

I will say that the road kill is cuter in the Pacific Northwest than Southern Cali.

Aside from the 20 degree difference in temperature, Washington life has been slow. There isn’t much traffic, the commissary parking lot is never full and the chill and wet weather keeps people indoors. Maybe I can finish that new book I’ve been tinkering with yet! Or, maybe not. For now, my family is on the hunt for a home, a school for my son and a chance to empty the 300 boxes that were our life….which now sit in a cold, dark storage facility.

I did initiate my arrival to Everett with a Smashing Pumpkins concert. That rocked! Billy Corgan was great live and charming and humorous when he chatted with the crowd. My favorite exchange, "It's always awkward when the guy who gave you a colonoscopy earlier in the day is at your concert." Bassist, "True story?" Billy, "No, that just popped into my head."

I’ve noticed fewer Wal-Marts here. I’ve loved the autumn colors, my favorite being the blazing red trees. For the last week, my children have been yelling from their car seats, “Look mom! Another Christmas tree!” I must say the space and slower pace are refreshing. But, in the back of my mind, I miss the busy-ness of San Diego.

I look forward to making a mom-cave for myself where I can write out my creative frustrations.

There isn’t a lack of Chamorro love here either.

It’s strange to say I’m “homeless” in Washington for the time being because we’re not lacking in the basic needs for survival. The lodge is cozy and although we’ve had it to about here with boiled eggs, bagels and muffins for breakfast (their continental breakfast), we’re taken care of here.

Life changes, a shift in one’s reality are necessary sometimes. Thank you, Navy for that opportunity.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Celebrating Pacific Islander CULTURE-Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. This weekend in San Diego! Ski Beach, 9/22/12-9/23/12.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001--A Memory Shared....

September 11.

I didn’t intend on writing a post today, but inevitably the tragedy of September 11 always reminds me of my late father.

It was early in the morning on Guam when my father rapped on my door. He told me to turn on the tiny television set in my room and put on CNN. I was groggy, grumpy, not looking forward to another early morning and prepping for work at JFK High School. I watched through blurry eyes, not fully awake and thought, this can’t be real. Maybe I’m dreaming. My dad watched my reaction, the glow from the TV the only source of light in my gray room. I remember looking at him, his face serious and then looking back at the screen. The visuals seemed to be out of a movie. My dad left me alone to process this.

For the next few days, the news was always on in the house. I didn’t react much, still internalizing my feelings. Then, at the dinner table, I watched new footage. Clips of people, who faced with the blazing inferno opted to jump from the building to their deaths. The flapping tie of one man, as he dove from such heights is forever burned in my memory. It was then, my fear and sadness finally surfaced. I cried at the table. My parents quiet next to me.

September 11, the Colorado bombing, tragic events in our nation’s history. I continue to pray and wonder for the victim’s families. Those left behind. I hope one day to visit New York, to see the memorial for myself.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Identity Crisis

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
--Maya Angelou

Son: “Mom, so am I more Chamorro or more American?”
Me: “Being ‘American’ is different from being a ‘Chamorro’, son, it’s like you're asking me if you’re more APPLE or more FRUIT.”

It is the eve of my son’s second grade year. He is both excited that school starts tomorrow (a feeling I hope he never loses) and keenly aware that he only has 4 weeks with this particular brood of kids. As Navy life would dictate, we transfer to the Pacific Northwest by October 1st. He knows he must say goodbye to his friends and wonders if he’ll make new ones. I assured him that his old friends will remain his friends and that he will discover new ones at our new home town. In addition, my seven-year old son has asked me with more frequency and since the Summer Olympics how much of a particular ethnicity he is. He is aware that he is the culmination of 7 ‘identified’ ethnicities, or as he says, “I’m made up of 7 different bloods!” Those being Chamorro, Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian-Portuguese, Filipino, Italian (?). He’s a smidgen of this and a dash of that thanks to my husband and me and our mixed up heritage, but as my son says, “I know I’m mostly Chamorro.”

Sometimes I wish I was simply one ethnicity from one place. Life would be easy, bland, but easy. But, the bouquet of ethnicities represented in my children is wonderful. It might also explain why my daughter has a strand of blonde and strand of red hair buried in her brunette tresses.

My son was also concerned about his future in the Olympics. His confidence and surety are wonderful and I bite my pessimistic tongue every time he relays his dreams. I tell him to go for it, but add that he needs to practice seriously. My son wants to represent Guam in swimming AND running. His statement made me gush. He asked how long he would have to live on Guam to qualify and went down a laundry list of concerns, one being, “Will I still be an American citizen if I move to Guam?” I informed him that people from Guam are indeed American citizens. His eyes bright, he knew he had found a loophole, a way to maintain the only life he knows in America to the one he dreams of as an adult. I didn’t hear the end of this revelation for days. And, he asked why I had kept this gem of knowledge from him, like I was conspiring him from knowing.

In our research of homes and neighborhoods in Washington State, the brown factor always played a role in our decision. The brown factor being, are there islanders in this neighborhood? Some might think I’m being ridiculous for even thinking this way, but I like diversity and I want to insure that we are in a neighborhood tolerant of those who are different. American citizen or not, I’ve had enough encounters with ignorant people to be weary in general. One recent experience happened with another soccer mom. Upon hearing I wrote a few books, she worked hard to get me into her book club. I was cordial with her and kindly denied, but she persisted and to this day, still sends me the occasional mass email of the meeting place and book to be reviewed. Call me stuck up or closed off, but when we were discussing The Count of Monte Cristo, she said that they were serving Monte Cristo sandwiches at this next meeting. I didn’t know what these sandwiches were and asked her about them. Her response? “Oh, that’s right! You wouldn’t know what Monte Cristo sandwiches are! You’re from Guam!” Needless to say, our friendship never went passed that soccer season.

Why am I rambling? I am just worried for the well-being of my kids. I’ve had enough first hand experience being the recipient of stereotyping, that I’m more thick skinned, mature, etc. when I encounter anyone who makes me feel like a freak. It’s a double edged sword. Do I protect my kids from intolerance, prejudice, racism? Do I let them decide on their own how to handle such idiots? We’ve used education about Guam and such and have come away with some really wonderful friends who are fascinated about us and our way of life and our home island, the rest can fly their kites. My kids are lucky enough that they see diversity on our street, in their school, at the store. Navy life has blessed us with people from all origins. And, I know everyone has reassured me that Washington State has bula Chamorros.

Sometimes I feel like one of the mutant X-Men. I think they’re kick ass in their differences. And, I guess when the new neighborhood discovers us and that we’re a bit different, and that we have special mutant powers like making delicious kelaguen, tanning without being in the sun or identifying each other with a simple nod of our heads—then maybe these new folk will love us. I hope so. We can only be who we are, even if it’s a bouquet of DNA.

Thanks for allowing me to vent.
I ♥ Alana Davis-"32 Flavors" 1997

Esta Later!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hu Guiaya Hao, CHE'LU! Adios...

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." --Dr. Seuss

I no longer hold the position of Secretary and Board Member of CHE’LU (Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity). I resigned tonight and attended my final Board meeting. It was bittersweet since the departure from this wonderful non-profit group was more because of my move to the Pacific Northwest this fall than anything dramatic or gossip-worthy.

I wrote up my short and sweet resignation letter 30 minutes before the meeting (I was dragging my feet, dreading this reality), prepared a pretty fruit platter and headed out. Making this break from the wonderful group of Chamorros I’ve grown so fond of was tough. I walked into the conference room, smiling; commiting in my mind to be professional and non-emotional. I joked that I always brought food when I’m about to break up with someone. The four members present laughed. I will miss my small audience, where I can discuss the culture, plan events, have a sense of pride in my Chamorro heritage. I will miss that they laugh at my crazy jokes and suggestions. I’m still hoping that the theme they choose for March 2013’s Chamorro Cultural Fest will be “We’re Pika and We Know It.” (Think LMFAO’s party song).

My jubilant demeanor was shattered when Jojo arrived. She beelined for me and we hugged in a corner of the room. She whispered many thanks and love and support. She cried, then I cried like a baby. Jojo is like a mom to me and one of the main reasons I even joined this awesome group in the first place.

So, I have final minutes to write up tonight. I will do it happily, with care and with a sense of pride. I will miss this group and my role in it. I was ironically asked to sign on as their grant writer, and after two and a half years, never really won a grant for the group, until this week that is. We achieved an SDG&E grant based on my write-up and I secretly sighed in relief that at least I had that.

So, the torch was passed to a very able-bodied Superwoman in our group. The whole tribe is composed of Super Women and one lucky dude. The Board is making strides to fill in my spot and added more to snag willing Chamorro professionals in San Diego. I can’t wait to see the great things that they will continue to accomplish.

I am gladly taking the smaller role of Communications Advisor.

So, CHE’LU, thank you for being that safe haven for me to FEEL my Chamorro-ness. It’s been a great run.
*Photo by Bryson Kim

I love you all.

Esta Later!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Onward Geckos! GWHS Class of 1992

"Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection."-Arthur Schopenhauer

Hafa Adai! This blogpost is serving more as a virtual scrapbook for the 20th High School Reunion I missed on Guam this past weekend. A wonderful classmate added these videos to Youtube to share and I wanted to post it here for posterity.

Guam is a small island community, my high school of 200+ graduates even moreso, so I cherish the memories I had with this special group, even if I couldn't fly back to the island to enjoy. Hoping to be there for 25!

This photo of me and the gorgeous Lynda Carter has nothing to do with this post except I think I'm Wonder Woman and she really does want her cape back. Just look at her beautiful sneer.

And, because I love Wonder Woman...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How Do You Maintain MOMENTUM in your writing? Become Wonder Woman...

“One way to keep MOMENTUM going is to have constantly greater goals.”—Michael Korda

Much of the writing process, for me at least involves MOMENTUM. I love to write, to put a spin on a situation that marks it as my own. To present a character who is flawed but likeable, and as I venture into my writing projects, novels in various states of “done-ness” I realize that momentum is necessary to clack one domino to the other.

My son loves watching American Ninja Warrior, it’s like Wipeout without the hilarity and with buffer contestants. One obstacle course requires the warrior jump off a trampoline onto some ropes and swing Tarzan style. Without momentum, he is left bucking in the air just to get this rope to move forward. Often times, I feel like this man. Bucking on my own rope not achieving the momentum I want because I am other things in this world: mom, wife, and lazy bum.

Blogging, reading other authors’ work, journaling are all means of maintaining momentum for me.
So, taking time to understand myself in this way is important; especially since my son is mastering his bassist skills on Guitar Hero to the tune of one of my faves, 311 and my daughter is busy creating a world with Hot Wheels and Ikea finger puppets. I’m bucking, wiggling like an idiot to maintain momentum. (G4pic)

I’m working on a new project, while letting others simmer. I’ve copied pictures from the web that will inspire me and found a home for this burgeoning story on my laptop (the best anniversary present from my hubby, ever-2009).

I don’t want to share too many details about this new story, but I will say she’s a teenager searching for identity. I’m melding the Chamorro culture in there (because the world needs to be enlightened about us) as well as my love for super heroines…directly influenced for my love of Comic Con…obviously. So, I will hunt beta readers soon, keeping in mind my 14 year old niece as a beta reader. (This is her warning, if she’s reading this blog).♥♥♥

The scenes of this new novel burst into my brain at weird times, when I’m washing dishes, vacuuming, cooking—(get the sense that I’m a busy domestic goddess?)…at all times, flashes of inspiration consume me. So, I get them in place, get frustrated when the dots don’t connect, but I know. I know this process requires time, a slice of peace and quiet—especially when the kiddies are asleep, and organization. I know how my story starts, where it ends and several scenes in between. It’s getting the momentum to leap from one scene to another that I’m developing.

I guess MOMENTUM is true for anything we choose to do in life. I’m working on my literary stamina, while also keenly aware that I need to apply this to other aspects in my life. Nevermind that in three months our whole life in SoCal will be uprooted as we travel north to life in Washington State. In my Wonder Woman mind, I will complete this new novel, edit the old and jump start another. All the while, mothering, wifing and packing. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Esta Later!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Enlarged to Show Texture.

"Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly under some degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the uncertain process of letter-writing.”--George Eliot**Pen Name for Mary Anne Evans

I initially wanted to write an ODE to my Little Brother for this blog post. He left this morning in the wee hours and into the chill of the San Diego morning air with my sister-in-law, after a 3 week visit from Guam. I do miss them and we all agreed that their vacation was too short. I am glad we shared Comic Con memories, food adventures and quality time chatting. Last night, I took them to our go to spot for when family or friends want a cool place to eat when visiting my “village” San Diego.

We later opted to relax at home and the duo spent time with my kids. I had them write messages in the children’s journals (read the post here) and then I broke out old family home videos.

Zoom Video Productions
My late father purchased a home video camera in 1989, when they weren’t a common part of regular households. He had a dream of being a videographer before there was really a niche for that on Guam. After several family gigs done without pay, he turned the lens on the family. The camera was big, bulky, the type you put a huge VHS tape into.
(Googled Pic)

We used to roll our eyes when our dad brought it to every school function—volleyball games, awards ceremonies and Tae Kwon Do events. Now, we realize they are irreplaceable gems of our family’s history. My dad was always documenting, preparing for a future maybe he was unconscious of. A future he might not be a part of, and even though he died in 2007 at 55 years old, he’s still ever-present and a very strong force in my life, my brother’s and his grandchildren's.

My brother and I agreed, that in retrospect, dad’s investment was wise, because last night we watched Christmas gift opening from when we were teenagers. We looked at the date on the bottom of the TV screen and realized that the footage was from 22 years ago. 22! (We had a ‘damn we are old moment together’). The earliest footage of my brother was of when he was 12 and I was 16. And as we hammed it up for the camera, or said cheesy lines as a family, “Merry Christmas 1990!”—we laughed at our former selves, thinner and with dated hair and clothes, but we both appreciated the efforts of our father. My brother and I were energized by watching, learning and reflecting on our past. We watched these movies until 3:30 AM, only stopping because they needed to get to the airport.

The reason I entitled this post, ‘Enlarged to Show Texture’ is that I’ve always felt that people package themselves like a product. Some consciously, others not and others who don’t care about outside opinions. Celebrities do it all the time. After my adventures and celebrity sightings at Comic Con, friends wanted to know many things of the stars I saw: “Is he short?” “Does she look like she does in the movie?” “Did you touch him?” etc. I would point out stars in the crowd or trying to be incognito on the floor to my brother and sister-in-law and their initial reactions were typically, “Really?” or “Wow, he looks so old.” “She’s so tiny!” etc.

When we watch a movie, celebrities are packaged for that role. We see them larger than life through a lens. When we are mere inches or feet from them in the flesh, we see their flaws, their wrinkles, we smell them, we feel that they are warm blooded beings. They’re human. And we can be disappointed by this, or comforted by their sameness.

I’ve gone on a tangent, but I’m trying to tie a nice little bow on this package. I think about people in my life, those who present themselves (or package themselves) without ENLARGING TO SHOW TEXTURE and those who do. I both hate and like such people.
I was staring at a box of caramel popcorn, with graphics enlarged to show texture. The popcorn as depicted on the package wasn’t appealing. It was wrinkled, with globs of crystallized sugar that looked like alien bug eggs. Reality: once you open the box, well, everything is dusted with crumbs, smaller and not at all like the enlargement. That’s applicable to people in life. My brother is who he is. I love him for what he is and how he is an ambassador for our family values. I’m somewhat the same way, I’d like to think. Naturally we want to doll ourselves up for the camera, for an appearance, act more civil and confident than we might be, but showing texture can be both good and bad. I’m circling my theory without landing, so I’ll stop.

I realize with my brother’s visit that time moves at the speed of light. Or as my son says, "Did you know Flash can travel across the city in 35 seconds!?"

We watched ourselves as children and now we are adults, me having children of my own and our minds were blown. We realized as watching footage of a barbecue at my former Mangilao home, that four of the seven relatives lined up to bless the table were now dead. We looked at our old Tae Kwon Do gym with fondness and eyes of adults, pointing out old classmates and updating their whereabouts if we knew. I was glad to be a part of that history, knowing and saddened that the gym had been demolished, a vacant lot by the beach in East Hagatna.

I love and care for the people who count in my life. And, in the end, this is indeed an ode to my baby brother. I will miss him. I’ve known him all his life. And, as I move forward with my family, I still cast a net to my past. To maintain a tie to Guam, to remember my roots. My brother reminds me everyday of my origin story. I want to be better for him. So, when my seven year old cried when we dropped them off at the airport 12 hours ago, it’s because he too has cast this net to family and Guam.

Esta Later….

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Come on! Kick My Hornet's Nest Already!

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."-Ayn Rand

What was dormant in me is reawakened when I was hit by lightning and metaphorical lightning struck twice yesterday and today.

So, the synergy of it all is great, starting yesterday with my awakening to a Samoan writer, Lani Wendt Young. I haven’t read her work (yet), just the freebie on Amazon and I'm ready for more. I did read her blog, liked her on Facebook page and checked out her list of works. Her books are in my shopping cart and after my move to Washington State this fall, I will add her to my library. Lani self-published a trilogy Telesa and When Water Burns so far, among other works.

I identify with her struggles as a writer, mom and Islander Goddess. Her young adult novels center on a Samoan heroine, which in itself is needed. Check out her blog SleeplessinSamoa here.

So, I hopped on (that's a dainty description-let's say attacked) my manuscripts yesterday. One, in its third draft has found itself being passed around friends and family for critique. I describe this novel as my “ugly baby” which is terrible, but when a writer thinks their first draft is gorgeous and perfect and can do no wrong—well, then he/she is setting themselves up for disappointment. I learned this the hard way when I sent out first drafts to about 10 agents…FIRST DRAFT! Rookie mistake in 2009. Several agents gave me useful feedback, but now I realize that time, review, a thick skin and openness to honest criticism were necessary (oh, and chocolate). I couldn’t learn this quickly. It takes time, for a mom and wife, years even.

So, almost three years later, I’ve given the full manuscript to one friend and boldly asked a cousin I admire to read and slaughter as necessary yesterday--again, because of Lani. And, I'm further pushed because my cousin/beta reader/literary soul sister has given me back gold--criticism, suggestions and praise I can be fueled by. So, I’m eager to start anew. Looking at my project with fresh eyes. Living and breathing and loving the characters and world I created again. I don’t like to call myself a romantic writer, but I am. My depiction of love is humorous, warped and with flaws, but it’s my universe and I’m glad I can create and share. After another few drafts, I think I’ll be ready to get back in line to cha cha with real world agents.

It’s easy for me to shelf my writing projects. Of course, motherhood-wifehood-domestic goddesshood take precedence. But, once I feel unbalanced and the other “children” cry for me…I have to attend to them. I don’t garden or bake or sew or do music, I write. So, the flood gates have opened with new inspiration, new purpose and new direction. I’m buzzing with excitement, so much so that I’ve done more in two days than I have in the last month-writing wise. I’m coming down from a Comic Con high from a few weeks ago, so that experience is weaving into a new book idea I drafted today. It could change. One thing I know for sure, that my first draft won’t be perfect, but it will get done. Happy writing or sewing or gardening or whatever you love to you all.

Esta later!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Comic Con 2012/Twilight-Breaking Dawn Thursday Mission Accomplished

I am so tired.

Just a quick post about the fun I had at today's Comic Con 2012 in San Diego. I attended last year and sat in line for 6 hours for the Breaking Dawn 1 Panel. This year was double the time, with my sister-in-law. So being awake for going on 48 hours with a slice of sleep on the grass here and there was well worth it. The final cast panel included Robert Pattinson (my fave), Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Foy, the Cullen family and the many covens. I was also excited to see Stephenie Meyer herself. We were treated to the first seven minutes of Breaking Dawn II as well as an additional scene. The cast was funny and insightful. I'm happy I had a chance to experience this two years in a row, even if we missed the 9PM line visit by most of the cast, the free posters, etc. This Twilight Thursday at Comic Con was exhausting and rewarding all at the same time.

Here are a few of my pics from my experience before I fade to black....

San Diego Convention Center, my view at 4AM.

England shirt, splendor in the grass, ouch my a**!

The cast of Twilight Breaking Dawn II.

Meeting the Covens.

Stephenie Meyer, author with 'Renesme'-Mackenzie Foy.

Shark Boy turn Wolf Man.

Cullen Couples.

Ending with Rob.
Added these videos for posterity sake:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award for me?

I have been awarded the Fabulous Blog Ribbon award by Kat at

Thank you, Kat. Thank you for taking the time to explore my blog, to know our Chamorro greeting, “Hafa Adai!”--that was impressive and touched me more than you know. It’s good to know my little blog, Guam Goddess in Training can make waves outside of my relatives and friends. So, my numbers have increased by two followers and that is sweet. Also, it's nice that people deliberately check out my blog, and not just because the labels include the words, "Bruce" + "Lee" or "Brandon". (The posts with the most views).

In addition, there is a strange correlation with my real estate search of homes for sale in Granite Falls and this award. I've been researching life in Granite Falls just before Kat (of Granite Falls) bestowed this ribbon on my blog(cue eerie music)…even my husband chuckled when I told him about the Ribbon and where she lives. We Navy Folk have orders to move to Washington State come fall, I digress…(update: Kat is Chamorro!).

In order to receive this award you have to follow a few rules:



1. completing my education (high school/college/martial arts/traffic school/cooking rice/tying shoe laces/potty training)
2. falling in love with my now husband
3. birth of son
4. birth of daughter
5. seeing Robert Pattinson in person at Comic Con 2011 (and now 2012)…word.


1. family
2. friends who are like my sisters
3. writing
4. chocolate
5. Bruce Lee


1. People who don’t listen
2. ignorance
3. cheaters
4. un-punctuality
5. bad books/movies



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bottle It Up! Library + Post Office = Memories

I love the smell of two places, the library and the Post Office (because it reminds me of the library). Why? I’m figuring it’s the collective smell of paper. I recently joined Pinterest and it became another means to explore what I want in my life, and maybe a bit of a time waster when all I can do is “pin” a picture and post (zombie brain days I call them)—but it got me to blogging today, so that’s a plus. And one of my boards in Pintrest is entitled, My Library. It’s a virtual bulletin board of my dream home library and awesome crafty bookshelves I hope to acquire one day. Lord knows I have enough books to fill them. Confession, I was at the secondhand book store at the La Mesa library. The kind elderly volunteer watched me and my children with interest as I perused, dissuaded my children from buying a recipe book for bread or grammar usage (shocking) and found nothing I really needed or wanted, even if I lingered a bit too long on a paperback copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary (I own a copy already as well as the movie). But, I had to argue with my brain that just because the book was 80 meager cents, I didn’t have to possess it. So, proudly we walked out empty handed.

Now, back to the library. I was once a library aide in the 5th grade because I had the “connects” as we say on Guam. My best friend at the time, well her auntie was our librarian at Ordot Elementary School. She got me weekly time to assist. But, for the most part I have memories of the wonderful smell of books in air-conditioning. The metal shelves were cold and gray, but beautiful to me. Don’t get me started on the metal book ends. A specific memory, aside from returning books, playing Donkey Kong on a portable miniature arcade game and perusing literature was building a clubhouse of stacked books. I was in heaven. Another cohort, Jennifer, would build a wall of books around her and I did the same. I would be seated in the corner of two shelves and start building the two walls to box myself in. Where the librarian was at this time and whose idea this was at first is gone from my memory. But, what I do remember is the childhood distortion caused by imagination. Suddenly, this makeshift clubhouse of bookshelves and walls mortared by books that had crisp plastic covers or linen hard covers became the apartment building I would have when I was an adult. I felt safe in my box of books. I remember the smell of that time and place very fondly.

So, living stateside, I found it a luxury to have mail delivered right to my door (saved me the trip to the post office, unless I had a package to send). I didn’t realize an errand such as going to the post office could be missed, that is going to the Hagatna post office on Guam. Every other day, after work at John F. Kennedy High School, I would find an excuse to go off my route home to buy an iced meximocha at Hava Java and walk the maybe 500 feet to the post office to check our family mail. Our entire family shared one post office box. Not just the immediate members, but my grandma, uncles and aunt. I would have to pull out whatever number of letters, look at each one and pull out mine and put the rest back. It probably looked like I was shuffling a deck of cards standing at box 1843. I digress. I will say, post offices smell the same in California as they do on Guam. And, not until I was designated the mail girl for the nonprofit group I work with did I realize, I actually like my weekly trips to the post office. 9 times out of 10, a rooster would crow in the neighborhood in the surrounding hills. That sound makes me smile too. Doors open to the post office, paper smell envelopes me, I walk past boxes that remind me of the ones at home…the ones that used to be opened by combination, a fancy dial in front of each box. I-D-E was our combination. My parents would pull to the curb and I would race up the steps to our box; happy to be trusted with this task. Today, my children join me as I check CHE’LU mail. They too race to the back quadrant which houses our group’s mail. They argue about who is going to turn the key, my son pulls the mail out, my daughter has to close the little door. Post office memories. Library memories.

Try having an olfactory memory with your Kindle/Nook/E-mail.

Found this interesting/somewhat parallel take by author, Christopher Paul Curtis.
“As soon as I got into the library I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I got a whiff of the leather on all the old books, a smell that got real strong if you picked one of them up and stuck your nose real close to it when you turned the pages. Then there was the the smell of the cloth that covered the brand-new books, books that made a splitting sound when you opened them. Then I could sniff the the paper, that soft, powdery, drowsy smell that comes off the page in little puffs when you're reading something or looking at some pictures, kind of hypnotizing smell.

I think it's the smell that makes so many folks fall asleep in the library. You'll see someone turn a page and you can imagine a puff of page powder coming up real slow and easy until it starts piling on a person's eyelashes, weighing their eyes down so much they stay down a little longer after each blink and finally making them so heavy that they just don't come back up at all. Then their mouths open and their heads start bouncing up and down like they're bobbing in a big tub of of water for apples and before you know it... they're out cold and their face thunks smack-dab on the book.

That's the part that makes librarians the maddest. They get real upset if folks start drooling in the books.”

Esta Later!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron, Ray Bradbury…Writers Who Leave a Gaping Hole in the Literary Universe (RIP).

“I don't care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you're also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.”--Nora Ephron

I’ve had a hard time calling myself a WRITER. I’ve had the desire to write, to be a novelist since about 19 years old. My BA is in English and Secondary Education and I have a few self-published notches in my very green belt (with many projects, storylines and first drafts filling notebooks—which hide in corners and special storage bins around my house). Some have seen the light of day and have been revealed to close friends for critique. My hope is to be and do what Ephron and Bradbury did…be a WRITER and embody everything that a wordsmith is responsible for.

When Ray Bradbury died earlier this month, I spent the day really reading up on this writer. I only knew general public domain type facts and was intrigued to learn more about him and his writings. I made a mental note to read Fahrenheit 451 and his other works.
“Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't "try" to do things. You simply "must" do things.”―Ray Bradbury

Today, Nora Ephron has died. She gifted the entertainment/literary world with some great romantic comedies such as When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. She crafted stories of seemingly ordinary people falling in love in memorable ways. (I’ve always secretly hoped a man would give me a bouquet of pencils, Hello Kitty ones specifically).

Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.—Joe to ‘Shopgirl’

Writers are the rock stars in my world. When I like someone’s writing I tend to want to know more about the author. What their upbringing was, what their belief system is, what about them can I find a connection with. For the late Nora Ephron, I appreciate her humor, her take on love and her accomplishment in the writing and movie world. It’s tragic that she is gone…there is a void in literaria (my word for a writer’s universe)….and it should be filled with good writing, not with the likes of 50 Shades of Grey (I digress, I judge, yes, I didn’t read the whole thing, the first 2 chapters of my free Kindle sample were quite enough).

“I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”--Nora Ephron

With the sad news of Ephron’s passing at the age of 71, I will tackle the dishes, hang with my kids, fold a basket of laundry and make a nutritious dinner this evening, then, I will open the last chapter of the writing project I am currently 2/3’s of the way completed. I will write, even if it’s a page, because as Bradbury says, you must do, not try.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy High School Reunion, Y'all!

“No, I didn’t go to your school, I’m just a La Habra Spouse.”--Guam Goddess in Training

I said this a few times this past Saturday evening in Long Beach. My husband and I attended his 20th High School Reunion; La Habra Highlanders threw a nice gathering of over 50 students. We almost didn’t attend this raging party (as raging as 38 year olds can be) because my husband was set to be “underway”…Navy speak for gone. But, as fate and luck and planet aligning would have it, the ship needed some repairs and they pulled back into port. His excited e-mails leading to his return made it seem likely that we would be making the two hour drive north so he could see classmates he hadn’t seen for 20 years. My hunt for trustworthy childcare began…

I attended my 10th High School Reunion in 2002 for George Washington High School. I was on the planning committee and as usual, found myself to be the secretary. It was exciting and easy because I was still living on Guam. It was laidback and maybe a bit anti-climactic since again, I was on Guam and many alumna who attended lived on Guam anyway. Basically, it was normal to run into Geckos at the bank or Payless or a funeral. I remember the group being most excited about people who left the island and were returning after 10 years to attend, my count was 2 back then. Facebook wasn’t a “thing” for us then.

Going to my husband’s reunion was different.
I felt his excitement and trepidation. He was emerging a new man, minus the fashionable mullet that many sported. Would they recognize him? He only reconnected with classmates this past year via Facebook and I asked him if he had seen anyone (since 1992) of those who RSVP’d. He said he had not. I reminded him that some people might not recognize him immediately or not at all and not to be offended. I warned him that someone will remember a very specific detail about their past, that he might not. Sure enough, the first classmate he hugged and greeted with a “HEY!” detailed a specific memory…my husband’s face went blank and I laughed. (Told you so, I told him later). I spent the rest of the evening speaking with a wonderful lady. Then, after two hours, I gave in and sat to rest my feet…where I watched people chat it up, I recognized distinct cliques and enjoyed grown men hugging and laughing and drinking and being merry. I could safely say I was the lone Pacific Islander Asian (aside from my hubby) and when his bubbly Japanese classmate entered the scene, she bee lined for me. We shook hands and she was off to get her drink on. A few hours later, she was worried about my being quiet in the corner. I told her I was good. She offered me a drink and I told her I was the designated driver. She then asked where my husband was, I said he was chatting. She was insistent that I not be alone and told me to go to the spouse section (I refused), but like a wedding when the bride gets to shine, my husband was there to shine and reconnect during HIS reunion. She finally left me alone when I said I was fine being “a ninja.” She laughed merrily away.

I realized that being away from Guam for the past 8 years was inching me towards this level of not reconnecting with my classmates since I wasn’t “home”. If airfare was cheaper than the nearly $2,000.00 round trip ticket price to Guam, I would definitely fly home for our August reunion. My husband asked, “What if I bought you a ticket home for your reunion?” My immediate response was no. My next question was what about the kids? He said he would take care of it. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t. If we didn’t all go, or myself and the children at least, then I couldn’t. Imagine my mom’s horror if I went to Guam alone, without her darling grandkids. She wouldn’t have it, along with the countless aunts and uncles and cousins.

I do hope to fly home with all my children and husband in tow for my 25th High School Reunion in 2017. Need to save that salape’ since it may cost about 10K by then for air fare….

I appreciate that I have a special connection with a great group of people of the same age, same experience (or not) from a common place. I hope the reunion on Guam goes great. Onward Geckos!

Our Class Song, GWHS Class of 1992


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dusting off My Michelle Branch CD...

When I bake something or cook something, it’s just the same feeling as writing a song for me….”—Michelle Branch

Dusting off my Michelle Branch CD has brought me to revisit my ideas of balance, motherhood and creativity.

For the last week, I’ve been playing my Michelle Branch CD (2001-The Spirit Room) in my car. My 4 year old daughter approves. She especially loves, Everywhere, All You Wanted and Goodbye to You—perhaps because I keep sifting through to play them again and again. Her main concern as the melody for the next Branch song starts, “Is this the same girl?”

This album came out around the time I was having a major shift in my relationship, so as the scars of that break-up were healing, Branch’s words were there for me to cling to. Before IPods, I had my enormous CD player on my dresser and often sang along to this very CD.

I Googled Branch yesterday to do my own version of VHI’s Where Are They Now? I was vaguely aware of her switch to country music, since I was busy having my children by this time. Apparently, as Branch was making her appearance in her new form, The Wreckers—a duo, she too was developing her domestic side, marrying her bassist, Teddy and having a child as well.

She’s still gorgeous and I was always intrigued by her lyrics and melodies. Watching her video, Everywhere, ten years ago, my Asian spidey senses tingled and I knew she had Asian pedigree somewhere. I guessed Japanese, but she really is a quarter Indonesian. I only found this out yesterday too.

So, I'm going to catch up with what music she’s produced since I lost track of her 10 years ago. She’s still as beautiful as when she first hopped onto the music scene.


Monday, May 7, 2012

The Girl with the Purple Hair

"The desire for self-expression afflicts people when they feel there is something of themselves which is not getting through to the outside world."--Fay Weldon

Driving home from my son’s school this morning, I saw a girl, I should say woman, walking to the university. She had purple hair in a sloppy ponytail. I admired the color of her hair and thought, wow, her parents must let her express herself in whatever way she wants. Then I thought, a girl with purple hair must not have parents because surely a parent would be disappointed if their daughter, granted adult daughter, had purple hair.

I realized that my thinking stems from my Chamorro upbringing, as well as my Korean one, in which children are not allowed to really express themselves. I have been told NO so many times by my parents (and I love them both dearly) that it has taken me several decades to truly express myself. Many times I think I want to be the type of woman who would do this, get that, act in a certain way. But, out of fear from my family, from my Chamorro upbringing, I don’t. I am keenly aware that I do this to my children and it’s an effort to change the tides. There are days when I sound like my parents and I have to stop myself.

It took me 18 years to get my first tattoo, to really commit. Why? Because I was afraid of what my family would think. My mom has accepted but doesn’t want me to get another. My dad, he’s probably shaking his head with a smile from above. Just yesterday, I showed my tattoo to a Chamorro woman I truly admire. I haven’t really showed anyone Chamorro who is over the age of 45 because I don’t want to hear it.

My true form of expression is my writing. I get to create characters and worlds that I want. But, there is a filter or a gate if you will that is still there. I come up with quips or funny observations and people tell me, “I never thought of it that way.” Or, “Where are you getting this stuff?” Because I say or think something warped, does that mean my mind is warped?

I remember my first completed manuscript and explaining to my mom as each chapter was constructed. She enjoyed the storyline and when it came to the more intimate portions of the story, I find myself stuttering, worried of her judgment. I did glaze over the details and even with that, she asked, “Well, why do they have to have sex?” I was frustrated, but explained, well, because that’s what people do when they care about each other, right? Sex sells, beauty is a currency, etc. etc.

This image of a pool of water always arises when I think of my life, my childrens’ lives. When that pool overflows and begins to trickle away and naturally move, parents, society, peers can serve as either a path to a true destination or barriers. I think of my life as this movement of water, the natural desire to move when I’m full to a new experience or destination. If I wanted to travel west, my father may have placed a river rock to block that passage. My mother may add hers. An aunt or grandparent or cousin throws their little stones in my path. That stream then stops and dries up. This process can continue as another stream moves and flows, so instead of blocking yourself or your children, let them extend and create pathways with the creative desires they have. So many people have their dreams and hopes dry up and I find that truly tragic.

I’m realizing the reasons why I stop myself from doing or saying things. My eyes are wide open in regards to being a better person. I’m okay with other people’s responses to me, positive or negative, because the only one that truly matters is my opinion of myself. With that said, I’m going to allow my pool of water to overflow and travel in whichever direction I chose.

Thank you for letting me share and don’t worry, my hair won’t be purple anytime soon…, perhaps, but not purple.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Blog of a Beastie Girl-RIP MCA

"But like a dream I'm flowing without no stoppin'
Sweeter than a cherry pie with Reddi-Whip toppin'
From mic to mic kickin' it wall to wall
Well I'll be calling out you people like a casting call" --MCA

A few months ago my prima said out of the blue, “One of the Beastie Boys is dead.” I denied it, said “No! MCA has cancer, but I didn’t hear that he died.” Of course, I grabbed my phone and Googled his name. Nothing popped up. I told her. The Beastie Boys is on my short list of favorite musicians and I was certain I would see them if they ever rolled into my town. Now, I can’t.

With sadness, I texted my prima, “A Beastie Boy is really dead now. :(”

I wouldn’t call my taste in music extremely eclectic, but if something has cool lyrics and a great beat, I’m in. With the Beastie Boys, I enjoyed how the rapped rhyme and rhythm came alive with some tongue and cheek in their videos. “So Watcha Want” will forever be one of my faves, reminding me of college, having it on blast as I drove from home to class. When “Sabotage” came out, matched with their huge moustaches and wigs in the video, I so wanted to be a Beastie Girl.

I bought a Check Your Head shirt two years ago, and it’s one of my faves. I sometimes wear it when picking up my son from his elementary school and love it when another mom tells me she loves my shirt.

I don’t typically take the time to blog about a celebrity’s death, but MCA meant so much more to me than any other musician. His lyricism and the collective rhythms of the Beastie Boys were the soundtrack of my life-a time when I was figuring out who I wanted to be as a woman, (because'I'm Every Woman' didn't do it for me)--“So Watcha Want” made me feel tough, smart and like I could take on the world—being single and angry at men at 19 helped too.

So, for Adam Yauch, Rest In Peace. I may never see you in the original trio one day, but if your boys, Ad Rock and Mike D do find the will to tour with someone who has any of your talent, I will be there. Say hello to my dad, he dug your music too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Storyboard 12-University of Guam: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

"A book is a gift you can open again and again."--Garrison Keillor

I am so happy that the University of Guam and the team of Storyboard-A Journal of Pacific Imagery continue to publish this literary and artistic collection of work. My first experience was with Storyboard 6 in 1999. I was a graduate student at UOG and teaching at JFKHS. When I was an undergrad, I tried submitting poetry--only to be rejected, twice. I took that as a sign that poetry wasn’t my forte’. But in grad school, in a feminist literature class, Dr. Jeanine Talley my professor was also the new editor. Like a snail coming out of her shell, I began to show pieces to her. She liked my essays and encouraged me to submit. I was at this point nurturing a desire to write novels and was penning short stories when I could.

So, in Storyboard 6, two of my poems were featured and I was elated! Then, my regular life--teaching, parents, boyfriend-- eclipsed my writing dreams. I was able to ride this little wave of being published for a short time. I got my fix with opinion pieces in the PDN. I did a stint with Marine Drive Magazine for a few months. When I called a boutique owner for an interview, she said, “I do not want to contribute to a magazine that has underaged girls on the cover who are half dressed.” I agreed, and as a teacher of teenagers who were reading the magazine and seeing my name attached to articles (even if those articles were about sandwiches or coffee shops) I had to make a choice. I quit.

With that, another opportunity arose the next week with MDM’s sister magazine. I met the very serious editor and began another short burst of writing with Guam Business magazine. It felt like real work and churning out facts and putting a spin on it was good exercise, but it wasn’t my passion.

So, moving forward, the joy of UOG’s Storyboard fell to the wayside. I believe they lacked an editor for a few years and for Storyboard 11, a call for entries was made. I was already off-island when my Auntie Patty sent me the flyer. I contacted the editor and verified that I was qualified. She indicated that as long as I was an alum I was good. Ten years after my first appearance in this journal, I submitted three short stories. There was a blind review of all entries and two made the cut.

This Friday, Storyboard 12 is being unveiled on Guam and like last year, I can’t be there. Something about $1,500.00 for a plane ticket and 6,000+miles over the Pacific Ocean holding me back. Thankfully, my brother will be attending, cruising from our grandmother Julia’s 1st death anniversary mass in Asan to East Hagatna to represent me. I miss my grandmother and find it poetic, if you will that the unveiling falls on her anniversary.

I wrote the short story, “Reach” for my mother. It is more than loosely based on her ‘crossing’ from life in South Korea to life as an adopted Chamorrita, because that she is. She is living her life as a Chamorro and I am proud of her.**Painting is of my omma (left) holding me, grandfather, mom's sister, Yong Cha with daughter.--painted by my brother, Sonny K. Chargualaf

Excerpt, “Reach” 2012:
Un Cha signed her name on the letter, written in Korean for the only man she loved. She tucked it into her purse and dressed into the black outfit her daughter helped her pick out. They found their funeral garb at a Korean clothing store in Anigua. With her children and her grandson in tow, Un Cha left their home and sat quietly during the drive to Asan church, in the village that Ted grew up. She imagined many times what her husband was like as a child and often thought that her three children were solid reminders of his legacy.

Before the funeral director closed the casket for the final time, Un Cha walked up alone.

“Yobo, my love. I will meet you again someday. I love you.” Un Cha placed the love letter securely in Ted’s cold hands, still strong, still the color of earth. She bowed deeply and hugged him. Her children were by her side, anchoring her in the world of the living, when all she wanted was to crawl into the space with her husband.

**Dad & Mom in Asan-by Sonny K. Chargualaf

Happy Mother’s Day, Omma!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Words, Schmords....

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”—Norman Cousins

I have a daily struggle with myself and the little box of hopes and dreams that rests in my chest. This box holds every bright idea I’ve had, every storyline I’ve created and every fantasy scenario I whip up in my head. Frustration builds when I CANNOT carve a time and space to write. The thoughts and feelings and characters that dance in my busy brain get louder and louder (no, I don’t need a shrink) and then my frustration builds. As a military wife and a mom of two young children, my priorities day to day is family, then the house, then me. It’s typical, I’m not complaining, but after a few days or weeks of this, I think of my blog, my unfinished novel, the second draft of another novel, my screenplay that was critiqued and sitting (which I’m going to eventually put in novel format), my personal journals etc. The frustration builds and I have to let off the steam from my literary creative juices.

I’ve often told my husband that I wish that I didn’t feel the NEED or WANT to write. It’s there in my DNA and I can’t extract it. If I did, my home would be spotless, my body would be oogle-worthy and healthier and my children would be playing extravagant classical music on a violin or piano. But, when one desire tips the focus away from other things, someone or something will suffer. Ideally, I would live in a library. Read, write, read, write, have a snack then read and write again.

With this plopped on cyber paper, I’m off to reconnect with the novel that waits like a hungry, ignored child. “Mommy! I want you! Play with me!” (In the meantime, I've fed my child fruit, tied her blanket on like a super hero cape, made her a ham sandwich and refilled my coffee twice--clock is ticking as my real kid is asking me to sit with her, NOW!)

The above quote by Norman Cousins struck a huge chord in me. I heard it at my cousin’s law school graduation last week. As I sat among family in the beautiful Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park, I was touched by the keynote speakers, a successful duo of father and son. I can’t recall if the son or the father said this, but a few times "he" reiterated that “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

I feel most akin to people who strive daily to live their dream, whether that be music, writing, art or even being a better parent! When I see that they have kept that little box in their chest alive, open and free to express itself, then I feel like I should too. I don’t say that I wish that I didn’t need or want to write anymore, because it’s something that is inherently part of me, my identity and my future. All I can do is jump in with both feet and do what I do.

Words excite me. Being a wordsmith intrigues me. Creating worlds and moving mountains with a page of text exhilarates my soul.
Thanks for allowing me to share…and here is Gotye's Eyes Wide Open which pretty much reflects that I don't want to regret not living a meaningful, true life.

"We walk the plank with our eyes wide open."--Gotye


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Fish Called Stick.

Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling.”--Dave Barry

Watching my kids eat fish sticks made me sad. I would rather they have some fresh mafuti or lagua (parrot fish).

My four year old daughter asked, “What’s this crunchy stuff on the outside? Is the fish born this way?” I mumbled back, “Oh, no. That is breading, it isn’t natural.” I felt bad feeding fish sticks to my children. Bad mommy!—ran through my head.

Being in SoCal, I’ve been able to grill and fry mackerel for the kids on occasion. They typically love it! When we trek to IHOP for breakfast, my islander son always gets the Jr. Tilapia and broccoli.

Watching my kids eat this food that is morphed makes me think we should just go vegan or totally organic, but being Chamorro…makes that tough. I know, not impossible, but Spam is a top food from my motherland. (Spam is known as “ham” in my house—Ham’s evil, lazy step brother--who's allowed out of the pantry once in awhile). Jasmine rice is served several times a week and my daughter loves bread. If we were on Guam, I’m sure she would go nuts for potu and manha titiyas—I did at the Chamorro Cultural Fest last week (Thanks, Abel’s Island Food Products).

I’m happy to report (thanks to my mom’s Korean healthy diet) that my children love fruit. They just devoured a plate of Fuji apples and low fat cheddar. My daughter ate carrot sticks the other day because her Nina Kim prepared them and my son loves grilled onions, cilantro, mushrooms, eggplant and bell peppers.

Thinking of my mother and life growing up on Guam, I recall eating fried chicken (which she prepared from scratch) and I told her it was so delicious. She said, “This store chicken is not tasty at all. Wild chicken tastes better, more flavor.” My mother’s right. She lived organic before organic was crowned Prom Queen.

She wasn’t afraid of flavor. I have memories of her eating fruit bat stew (images of the fanihi's bared teeth swimming in coconut milk broth still haunt me). I remember my mom slurping on a boiled egg (balut) with a tiny, mostly formed baby chick peeking out. I’m not about to go ranch food crazy here, but my point is that my mom knew flavor. She craves fresh vegetables (often she complains of the outrageous prices on Guam for green onions)—won’t name the store, but there are only a few Korean markets on island.

I find some of the tastiest dishes have the simplest ingredients. Guacamole (avocado, cilantro, tomato, onion, lime) = magic. That tomato salad for bruschetta…who knew tomato, olive oil and garlic could be so crave worthy. Soft mozzarella on slices of tomato with fresh basil—forget about it. I didn’t try oatmeal until I married and moved to SoCal…tragic really.

What am I going on about? Just sharing an observation about food. How I want my children to enjoy true, rustic, tasty, healthy foods in their most true forms. I guess with aging, my concerns about what I put into my body surface. Work in progress…definitely.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chamorro Cultural Fest--A Party I'll Never Forget!

It’s been 5 days since CHE’LU’s Chamorro Cultural Fest in San Diego and I believe I’m physically recovered. Having Guam Books and Beads there for its second year was wonderful.

I met many friends, relatives and supporters. My favorite encounters were with former JFKHS students. I feel a sense of security in our heritage when I see that they have grown into successful adults with families and some with the cutest nenis ever!

The fest was buzzing from sunrise to sunset and with the dedicated Board of Directors and committee volunteers our mission was accomplished:
Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity (CHE’LU) is dedicated to the Chamorro community by strengthening our native language, culture and health through education.

I was happy to see the enthusiasm of vendors, many skeptical of their first time at the fest and later hearing wonderful feedback about their experience. Having Marissa Borja and John Damian from Pacific Home and Garden on Guam cover the fest was a great reprise. Can’t wait to watch the coverage soon. I love that many traveled from Guam to, Judy Flores-Batik Artist, Chris Malafunkshun, Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, Zoriesonly-Doyon Ahn and the talents of Vince Reyes and Inetnon Gefpa'go. And to the vendors who shared their products from all over the mainland, thank you! (Gerard Aflague, Bahakke Brand and Tony Mesa-Hafabrown Designs).

Another favorite moment was getting a visit from Kat Gardner, author of Myths of Guam from the 80s. Her support of our writing efforts was wonderful validation.

Our tireless photographer, Bryson Kim captured everything! His wonderful photos help preserve the event and are a testament that the Chamorro spirit lives on.

Entertainment was packed and the amphitheater never saw a dull moment.

I’m happy to be a part of such a wonderful group as CHE’LU. Our team is working on all cylinders and supports each other with love.

With that said, no matter where the Navy takes me and my family, I know that I will do my best to make the trek back to San Diego--the one city that CHE’LU has established as the Chamorro Cultural hub of the west coast. Until March 2013, Biba Chamorro!

My favorite part of the music line up, Jason J. Alex Lugwa...Mighty Mellow Massive.

Friday, March 16, 2012

This Blog Entry is a Shameless Attempt to Solicit Votes for My Book, Attitude 13! Go, Tritons!

“You create your opportunities by asking for them.”--Shakti Gawain

With that said, I’m casting my talaya (fishing net) via the inter-“net” to garner votes for my book, Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories (2010 Authorhouse).

My Alma mater, University of Guam is celebrating its 60th Anniversary and to commemorate this, they are selecting “60 for 60” books for their Robert F. Kennedy Library. In their words, “Help by voting for book titles that you believe shares the history, culture, literature, and life of Guam or Micronesia.”

I found out my book was nominated because a poetic colleague, Craig Santos Perez posted it on Facebook. (Please BOTA for him too! Under the GUAM section, "from unincorporated territory" by Craig Santos Perez (2008 and 2010) [poetry]). Curious, I wanted to see if Attitude 13 or Sirena, or my mali—Alison Taimanglo Cuasay’s book Tasi and Matina made the nomination list (you can add these titles to the suggestion portion of the survey too).

I was excited to see Attitude 13 under the Juvenile/Young Adult section. My Facebook and email barrage began immediately. I am ending my tirade with a blog entry because I’m excited (and I would love for you to Bota/Vote!).

Another wonderful Chamorro cultural partner is batik artist, Judy Selk Flores, Ph.D. with her work also under the GUAM section, "Estorian Inalahan: history of a Spanish-era village in Guam" by Judith Selk Flores (2011). Bota, bota!

There are so many wonderful Chamorro authors/poets to choose from and I’m glad UOG is doing this! Voting continues through April 2nd and the winners will be announced on April 30th.

In advance, I thank you for your vote!
Please cut and paste the following link to vote under JUVENILE/YOUNG ADULT, Attitude 13 Tanya Taimanglo


A Story of a Stolen Mermaid--(and the Infringement of an Artist)

Fact: I wrote Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam in 2010. Fact: My brother, Sonny Chargualaf is the talented artist behind the imagery. ...