Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Loner Rebel Dandelion

"Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys."--Emma Bull

I went for an walk last night. Up the hill, down the hill, three miles based on my measurement with my van’s odometer a week prior. With thumping music in my ear and a lot of pretty spring blossoms to observe, I pushed upward. At the top of the hill, I marked my time and turned around, happy that the hardest part of my walk was over and it was all downhill from there.

I noticed two women and a girl of about 8 years old in front of me. The little one was loud and energetic and the two ladies looked more like her wranglers than the mother and aunt I assumed they were. I was about twenty feet away and changed my music to the last album by the Beastie Boys. I slowed my pace to maintain my distance from the trio, but the little girl noticed me right away. She stopped, looked at me intently and waved. I smiled and waved back and her wranglers ordered her to follow. She did.

They took a side street, well more like the wranglers chased after the little girl because she bolted. I passed them and searched the grounds for a lone dandelion I had noticed on the walk up. After half of a song, I heard the little girl behind me. Then I suddenly saw my dandelion. I crouched on the grass and positioned my phone, trying to capture the lone dandelion and the waning sunlight together. I could hear the trio approach and I’m sure I looked strange to them, fiddling with my phone and snapping pictures of a silly weed. The little girl, curiosity in her eyes, stopped and stared at me. She smiled and waved again. I did too and took longer with my phone, snapping a few more pictures. Plus, I wanted the trio to gain some distance. I like being solo.

I resumed my downhill strut, finally appreciating the last LP MCA dropped before his death, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. I had it for months, but could never listen to it with my children around because of the vulgarity.

The little girl slowed her paced too, I noticed. Her wranglers didn’t appreciate this and kept beckoning her to follow. She rested her fists on her hips and loudly said, “No!” Then, she turned to me, waiting. She waved three times at me before I finally reached her. Her bright eyes were an astonishingly light azure. Her hair was a pale gold. The skin around her mouth was parched, then she broke into a smile that commanded my full attention.
“Hello!” She said loudly. Her wranglers watched a few feet away.

I pulled one ear bud out to speak with this girl. “Hi.” I smiled.

The younger wrangler approached. I was a stranger after all. I would have done the same, but my children would not have defied me to speak with a total stranger. It seemed that the little rebel with the bright eyes, pale like shallow ocean water may have a developmental issue. It was refreshing that she was so open and very bold as her next flow of questions bombarded me.

“What? What are you doing?” She asked. Her wrangler stood near.

“I’m exercising.” I said.

“Why?” And the little rebel gestured to the gadgets in my hand, my phone and iPod.

I placed my hand over my heart. “It’s good for me, good for my heart.”

“Oh. What’s your name?” She pushed. Then, the younger wrangler had had enough. She pulled on rebel dandelion’s arm.

“Let’s go!” Her accent thick, Russian and lovely. She smiled at me apologetically, but rebel dandelion would not leave.

“My name is Tanya.” I said. Then the wrangler stopped, her blue eyes bright this time.

“Really? That is her name too!”

“Wow.” I said. Then, I spelled my name to see if that was the same too. “Mine is T-A-N-Y-A.”

“Yes! She too is the same.” Wrangler’s shoulders relaxed and my namesake smiled widely, dancing in spot.

After a beat, both wranglers were there to usher the rebel dandelion away. When she stayed planted, they spoke quickly in Russian (I assume, as I’m not an expert in European languages), with the name “Tanya” peppered throughout their pleas.

Finally, she gave me one last smile and stomped off.

"Later, Rebel Dandelion." I thought.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Seattle Globalist Makes Us Feel Legit.

"Where Seattle Meets the World"

Thank you to The Seattle Globalist and writer, Dakota Alcantara Camacho for interviewing me and Chamaole Pino Restaurant owners, Melody Arreola and Chris Smith for this article. It's nice to have our fledgling group, United Roots recognized especially for our first event this Saturday in Everett. Here's the LINK!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fliers Make Anything Official

My next Author Meet and Greet is at United Roots' Pacific Islander Arts and Crafts Showcase on April 26. I'm excited to meet people in the PacNorWest. Hope you'll be there! Thank you Reuben of Fliers Ink for the awesome flier. I feel 2legit now. Tanya Taimanglo

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hulk Smash, Gone Girl!

Gillian Flynn is one awesome writer. She sucked me into her novel, Gone Girl. Mostly I nibble books, but, before I hit page 100, I was scarfing down page after page-reading past my bedtime and forming emotional bonds with Amy and Nick. I just finished the last ten or so pages this morning.

Flynn sucker punched me by having Amy do a Jekyll and Hyde move in Part 2. I closed the book, embarrassed that I had been duped, angry to be suckered into caring for these characters like they were real. Amy cast me under her spell and like several other characters in the novel, I hated her.

Flynn was on my radar when I read about Reese Witherspoon's rabid fascination with Gone Girl. (Reese's production company optioned the rights) Then, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were cast in the movie and I HAD to read it. So, while reading these very real (to me) events and characters, I kept thinking of Affleck and Pike and had yet another reason to despise Affleck (aside from the Batman thing, although I think he can prove all us Geeks wrong) and loving and then despising Amy (with Pike's face). Because, I love Pike as an actress, it was hard to switch gears. Emotional whiplash, I tell ya'.

I don't typically rate or review books, and on Goodreads, I lazily assign stars, but no write up. But, darn it, Flynn. This book was a roller coaster ride. And, the ending made me feel cheap and unsatisfied. Bravo. That's what writers can do. That is a power some yield. I love super heroes, justice and all that. And, I don't like it when a bad person wins in the end. Amy kind of wins in the end, but she also loses. I don't want to throw out spoilers, but I needed to vent.

Gone Girl. You b*tch. Thank you for making me feel like a fool. I mean that in the nicest way possible.

I've decided to use my action figures to rate books. I give Gone Girl a resounding, HULK SMASH!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Being Chamorro, Missing My Father and Thomas Jacob Black.

Reflecting on my weekend in California. March 27-March 31, 2014

It had been a year and a half since I left San Diego, California. A place that became my home after I moved from Guam, the obligation of being a Navy wife. After 8 years of setting down semi-permanent roots, really being more like a potted plant, we moved north.

I had to loosen ties with the Chamorro group CHE’LU and hence my participation in their 4th Annual Chamorro Cultural Fest in 2013. (Don't get me started on my San Diego Comic Con withdrawal). But, this last weekend, I spent four days in California, attending the fest, the Uno Hit Conference and reconnecting with family and friends.

SATURDAY: Being at the fest was like I was set on a cultural recharge docking station. I didn’t realize how much I needed to reconnect until I was actually there. I enjoyed the sun that day. Jacobs Market Creek Plaza is really a little utopian gem with its mini cultural houses. It was great to see colleagues and friends and family. I set out to sell 200 books, but only met a quarter of that goal and I thank those who took the time to purchase my books. Thank you to Sandy and Dr. Judy Flores of Guam Batik Gallery, our tireless and wonderful booth mates.
I made many new friends, like the talented artist, author, vet and fellow Chamorrita, M.B. Wilmot, best known as The Desert Warrior. I thanked Rear Admiral Peter Gumataotao for his service. He is the highest ranking Chamorro in the Navy and he makes us all proud.
I spent time catching up with old friends who told me for weeks how excited they were that I was coming back to town. I’ve been honored by the love my San Diego family has shown.

SUNDAY: Uno Hit’s 2nd Annual Conference was held Sunday at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Clubhouse. My mali’ and business sister of Guam Books and Beads and I attended, our sore feet and sun soaked skin barely recovering from the fest the day before. In our stillness during the conference, it was our brains and my Chamorro heart that worked overtime.

I was moved by Sakman leader and cultural enthusiast, Mario Borja. His repetitive message that yes, his endeavor of sailing the sakman (canoe) to Guam from the mainland may be “crazy” resonated with me. They are willing and prepared for this passionate journey and who are we to judge this quest. If we squashed every ‘crazy’ idea we have, then we can never move forward and dream any impossible dreams.

When master Chamorro dance instructor, Frank Rabon took the stage to present, I was hungry for his knowledge on Guam history. I was awestruck by his understated poetic descriptions and his eloquent explanations. I learned so much from his presentation that I wanted more.

Then, Inetnon Gefpa’go’s leader, Vince Reyes took the stage, inhabiting a different energy. He was engaging and spoke quickly and passionately. I loved learning about his evolution as the leader of the wonderful dancers we know today. He was candid in his struggles to portray the Chamorro culture in a way that was true to our people and true to his creative soul. His video of his dancers portraying Guam’s comfort women (*video below) left nearly everyone in tears. Set to Taylor Swift’s song, “Safe and Sound” and understated in shadows, I was moved to tears and spoke passionately to Vince after the conference to let him know that I see him, I understand his vision and I appreciate his voice.

Heidi Chargualaf Quenga’s (Kutturan Chamoru Foundation) passion for connecting Chamorro artists and dancers on Guam with those on the mainland struck home as well. Guam is unique in that we are literally everywhere on this planet. And those not physically on the island, the diaspora, long to remain connected to our Chamorro roots. We need a guiding hand, we need to feel embraced and we need to cast our net home to our shared history and lineage.

Sandy Flores Uslander’s new group, Uno Hit is yet another glorious manifestation of the Chamorro spirit. The group has sprinted toward the fest and has done amazing with little resources and a short amount of time. Their strong will to learn and connect has proven successful.

Michael Lujan Bevacqua started his presentation in Chamorro. A language that I sadly cannot fully understand, but I found myself on the edge of my chair, ears perked, eager to learn, trying to decipher what I did know. I am excited that the University of Guam (UOG) and impassioned educators like Bevacqua are spearheading the Chamorro Studies Program. Something not offered when I attended UOG in the 90s. They are also looking into offering the course online which will be invaluable to us on the mainland.

Monica Okada Guzman of CAHA (Guam Council on the Arts & Humanities Agency) discussed the upcoming Festival of the Pacific Arts, known as FESTPAC, which is slated to be hosted by Guam in 2016. I’m excited about the opportunity to represent Chamorros with my literature and plan to produce more in the next two years.

When I headed to LAX for my flight home, I thought about the date. It was March 31st. My father died on this date seven years prior. I miss him dearly and he was my guide into the Chamorro culture. When he passed away, I felt lost and disconnected from being Chamorro. It prompted me to write Sirena and Attitude 13 in 2010. I wanted my dad’s name, Tedy Gamboa Chargualaf to be in print, even if it was only on my dedication page. I am always trying to make him proud. And, being in San Diego to celebrate being Chamorro, I know he would be. My flight was due to leave at 5PM and I was set to be reunited with my children and husband in Seattle at 7:30PM. This time, and this date were poignant for me because my father died on sunset (7:30PM) on the last day of Mes Chamorro (Chamorro Month).

I wandered around LAX an hour early, with swirling thoughts of culture in my mind and a rumbling hunger in my belly. I walked into a diner and opted not to get an overpriced burger. I strolled to the deli, then opted not to get the ten dollar turkey sandwich which was more lettuce and bread than protein. Then, in an effort to satiate my belly, I went into Hudson News. I strolled among the overpriced books. Dabbled with the idea of buying my children stuffed animal souvenirs they didn’t need, then settled on a bag of peanut M & Ms. Then, I watched as Mr. Thomas Jacob Black, best known as Jack Black walked into the magazine section. I wondered how no one could notice this. I parted the line of customers and headed right for him, slowly, cautiously. Our paths intersected and I spoke softly, like I wanted his presence to be my secret. And, I didn’t want him to fly away, like the rare exotic bird he is.

“Hi, I’m Tanya.” I said through a geeky smile.

He eyed me curiously and smiled, “Hi, Tanya. I’m Jack.”

“I know. (We Chamorros always know). I’m a big fan.”
Then my incessant need to explain why I was in LAX took over. He listened graciously. I said, “I’m headed back to Seattle and just wanted to get a souvenir for my kids.”

“Well, there’s a Vanity Fair over there. That might be good.”

We laughed, in whispers, of course. Still no one approached. “No, but I think, if you don’t mind, a photo?”


“My kids would definitely prefer a photo of Mr. Kung Fu Panda himself.” (God, I’m such a dork. I really wanted to say I loved him in High Fidelity and School of Rock and that Tenacious D is awesome and he is a great singer and is hilarious).
We smiled and I took a nearly flawless selfie of us.

He glanced at it and said, “That’s a good one.”

“Thanks so much.” I said in my over-excited voice, now struggling to maintain a whisper.

He smiled and left the store. I carried on, excited about meeting a man who did not act snobby Hollywood with me. One who is always himself first and one who has found success by being true. It reminds me to be myself and gives me hope that by doing so I can find my form of success.

So to San Diego, the Chamorro Cultural Fest, the Uno Hit Conference, my father, Tedy, my West Covina Wolf Pack and to Mr. Jack “Nacho Libre” Black, I say ‘SKADOOSH!’ Here’s to being awesome. Here’s to being yourself.

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. ...