We're off to drive down to San Diego. Its cold and rainy here and I heard its cold and rainy down there too. Right now I'm trying to visualize blue skies and warm weather all the way, and maybe if I try really, really hard it might just come true in the next few days. Hope you all have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!

five things

It's been a hectic week but I'm so glad its the weekend and doubly glad that its almost Thanksgiving break. Hope you are all having a wonderful Saturday. Here are some of the things thats making me happy right now:

~Grass scent from The Gap. Yes, its making a comeback and I couldn't be happier! I love, love, love this subtle scent and was so sad when they discontinued it when I was in college. It will always remind me of summers and those times when all we did was sit/lay on the grass and read to our hearts content. (Hint: my birthday is coming up next month, now you know what to get me. *cheeky grin*)

~My father's first e-mail ever. You see, my parents live in a small town with limited access to internet and are not at all tech-savvy. So imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from my dad, all lowercase and in text-lingo (e.g. pls col us la8r)! Turns out that he bought a new laptop and is now completely fascinated with it. Who knows, maybe in a couple of weeks he'll have a Facebook account! Haha.

~This lovely blog post. Jo is originally from Mexico City and is now studying in Sweden. Her photos are soooo beautiful.

~Driving down to San Diego for Thanksgiving. I'm not too excited about the road trip but I'm definitely looking forward to the warm weather and some fun in the sun. And oh, possibly meeting up with friends (Dae, Irish, Vanessa - I'm talking about you guys).

~This video (via A Cup of Jo). I think she's so adorable, almost like a little Amelie. Watch it and I promise you it'll make you smile a thousand smiles.

What about you, what's making you happy lately?

(Photo via red aprons & lunchboxes)

confession tuesday

I can't believe we're halfway through November, can you? It doesn't feel like the holidays are coming at all. In fact, it doesn't even feel like fall where I am. Yesterday while driving from one school to another, the temperature outside was 84 degrees. I can only imagine how it is in Southern California, with the fires. One of my friends who lives in L.A. even got sick from all that smoke. I know because I looked at her Facebook.

* * *
So Facebook. I'm hooked. My coworker said its her "drug of choice". I said, "same here". She said, "Really? How about Jason Mraz?" "Oh him too," I answered. Haha. His limited edition album actually came out today and I've been telling everyone to check it out on iTunes. Gotta spread the Mraz love, you know.

* * *
I've finally decided to submit some of my poems to an online literary journal. Its my first time, so my palms are sweating already even though I haven't sent my poems out yet. Last weekend, I went through all my pieces and realized that the ones I like the most are sad, sad ones, written around September-November of last year. Funny thing is, I don't even recall feeling so down in those months, though I do remember having written a lot.

* * *
One more thing: I'm chickening out of my journal submission plan already. Eeeek!

city lights

I took my camera for a walk today and ended up walking from the financial district all the way to North Beach, inside one of my favorite places to be, City Lights Bookstore. They have an entire floor dedicated to poetry! Every time I walk up those stairs towards the poetry room I feel like I'm about to enter a sacred place. I'd come here everyday if I could.

And oh, I almost squealed in delight when I saw a book by Jose Garcia Villa on the table of featured poets. A Filipino author next to Nabokov, Lorca, Robert Haas - how cool is that? It definitely made my day.

just what i needed

Good reads + lots of sleep. And I'm feeling so much better now. Thank you all for your sweet comments.

And oh, aren't these photos lovely? They are from two of my favorite artists, Camilla Engman and Lena Corwin. Their blogs are so inspiring and I can spend hours just staring at all the beautiful photos. Plus, they have the cutest pooches too!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Hope you find inspiration, wherever you are.

ginger chicken noodle soup and sondre lerche

I've been sick for the past couple of days now. In fact, I spent most of yesterday in bed - sleeping, drinking lots of tea, reading Nick Flynn's heartbreakingly beautiful book (more of this later), browsing my favorite blogs, sleeping more, wishing that I'd get my energy back soon. Being sick is so not fun, especially when you have to work.

I felt a little better today and was inspired to make my mom's chicken soup recipe. This is short of a miracle considering that I seldom cook. But I'm too lazy to walk to the grocery store, so there. The soup actually turned out great which made me think that maybe there's hope for me in the kitchen after all. Or maybe all those Ricola throat drops and Sudafed made my taste buds all whacked. Oh well.

So I've been listening to Sondre Lorche lately. He's Norwegian and he's really good. Ever seen the movie Dan in Real Life? Most All of the songs in the movie are his. Plus, he also toured with Jason Mraz in 2003, so that alone makes him awesome by association. Seriously though, his songs are perfect for those lazy, chilly afternoons when all you want to do is curl under a blanket and dream away.

How about you? Who's on your playlist? I'd love to discover new artists.

sometimes a fire

I fell in love with this phrase the first time I read it from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. I underlined it a couple of times, copied it in my journal, hoping that one day I'll be able to use it in a poem or something.

The 'or something' came last Tuesday night. Like most of you, like the rest of the world, the results of the US elections had such an effect on me that I fould myself walking around as if lit from within, thinking of this phrase.

It's been so long since I felt this way. I had resigned myself to the idea that all the idealism and dreams of my youth are gone, buried so deeply that there was no way I'd ever see them again. I had come to accept the status quo, thinking that having a job that I enjoy, living in a city that I love, writing down a word after another is more than enough for me.

But it only took one night, one beautiful night, and I remembered those long-ago dreams again.

Sometimes a fire. Yes.

ali baba and the 40 thieves

(for my father, on his birthday)

"Please tell us another story", we'd beg. "One more story".

"Okay, one more. But you have to sleep afterwards."

My siblings and I know the routine. Night after night, its always the same. My father would tell us a story, we'd beg for one more. And we already know what the story will be. We've heard of Ali Baba's adventures a thousand times, each time slightly different than the other, but the ending is always the same.

"Open sesame. Close sesame", we'd chant loudly, as if we really were in front of a magical cave with hidden treasures inside it.

* * *
This storytelling time with my father will always be one my cherished memories. My childhood is not all fairytale and happy, there were times when I'd wish I was born somewhere else, when I'd wish that I had a different family, but those moments with all of us together in the same room, our breaths held in anticipation as Ali Baba tries to outwit and trick the thieves, those precious moments before we'd each go to our rooms and dream our individual dreams, is as close to perfect as it could get.

So close to perfect that even now, years later, I can still see all 5 of us kids crowding in my parents bed, I can still hear our sighs as the story reaches its happy ending, I can still feel the giddiness, the excitement that comes with believing in magic, even when reality tells you otherwise.

Happy birthday, Pa! Thank you for everything that you do for all of us. Thank you for being you.

With all my love, Odessa.

at the corner of duboce and church st.

young woman steps out of a train, young man on a bike -
he looks at her in the eye, she gives him a half-smile,
turns her head to watch him as he pedals into the night.

congratulations, america!

You did it! You voted for CHANGE. You voted for HOPE.
I am so proud to witness this beautiful moment in history.

Photo via Shakesville

here we are

The first time I met Jason, he was singing to me/us in a sidewalk, he was so close that I even touched him on the shoulder, so close that we had a near-seizure attack because we couldn't believe that it was Jason Mraz serenading us on a cold April night while we were waiting in line to watch his show! And he sang to us twice! He said he felt bad that we were waiting outside in the cold so he got out of his trailer and started singing to us. It was such an unforgettable night and I didn't believe any other could top that. Until today.

I realized that watching Jason live, be it in an intimate venue like The Fillmore or in a big setting like the one today at the Greek Theater in UC Berkeley, is always an amazing, otherworldly experience. I remember back in April, in the middle of his show, I turned around to my friend and said, "Ga, Jason is seriously killing me right now." And my friend Dae merely nodded, because what else is there to say? He is just so good, even better live.

And tonight, while he was singing "Beautiful Mess", I closed my eyes for a moment, allowed the song to bring me to another place, and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. For his music and how it touched me deeply, for being a part of a wonderful audience who knew most of the lyrics to each song and who sang and danced with wild abandon, and most of all, for the beautiful man in front of us who is so talented and awesome beyond words.