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!

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. ...