summer goals

Its so bright and sunny outside its almost a crime that I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing reports (and blogging) but I have to, otherwise my poor mom will have to spend the first few days of her visit watching me type away on my laptop. Three more reports to go -- aja aja!

So I woke up this morning and started making lists, a work list and a personal list, then decided to make one for my summer goals just for fun. I never used to make one and end up scrambling for last-minute plans because I'm bored and start spending money that I can't afford to spend. This summer, I want to keep it simple.
  • (Re)read some favorite classics: Jane Eyre and Mrs. Dalloway.
  • Go to the farmer's market more often.
  • Always have fresh flowers in my apartment.
  • Find that perfect white summer dress.
  • Start doing yoga again.
  • Learn Japanese.
  • Clean out my closet.
  • Drive along Highway 1 to Big Sur.
  • Make cupcakes and macarons.
  • Buy a Fuji instax mini film camera.
  • Visit this lavender farm.
And the best part is, I can do a lot of these things with my mom! Ah, is it summer yet?

(Photo by Pauline Darley via Black Eiffel)

bits and pieces

"We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing." -- Natalie Goldberg

I wrote this quote a few years ago after reading Writing Down the Bones and I'm still inspired by it. Step forward with a yes. Yes.

I'm still buried in paperwork. But we're close to the home stretch so I'm gritting my teeth, keeping the end in mind. Caffeine helps. Lots and lots of it.

Oh, and Korean dramas too. At the end of a crazy work day, watching these two bond over dessert and bicker over the silliest things never fail to make me smile. Then he casually says something like, "This strange girl who always talks about food every time she's embarrassed, I love her" and I'm back to squeeing like a 15 year-old again. Fun times.

(Sidenote: I'm pretty sure he was talking about me. For don't I always talk about food whenever I don't know what to do with myself? Ha.)

In other news, my mom is coming! I'm still in shock myself. She found last minute tickets and will be here on June 2. Yes, that's next week! And I'm beside myself with excitement.

Happy, happy Friday my friends!

(Photo from Olive des Olive via Mori Girl)

girls with glasses

This video from the upcoming Girls With Glasses show makes me so happy. I love all the impersonations, the dresses, the colors, everything about it. And let's not forget the maps and the animal masks. And the cupcakes, oh those pretty cupcakes!

when in doubt, plié.

This is what our ballet teacher keeps telling us. To which I should add: when in doubt, breathe.

I'm still swamped with paperwork and its so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. But I'll get there.

plié. stretch. breathe.

P.S. Isn't this picture too adorable for words? (via little reminders of love)

creamcicle at the beach party

Don't let the title or the photo trick you for its nowhere near sunny here and this is more like wishful thinking on my part. Two more weeks and the school year is over. Meanwhile, I have a mountain of paperwork to do and its growing every minute. Commence the Monday madness.

There are things to be excited about though. Like our week off before summer school. The upcoming Impressionist Paris exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum. Potentially enrolling in a basic conversational Japanese class this summer. The Chamberdance spring performance choreographed by our ballet instructors. My mom's plan to visit me in July. So many good things. When I look at it this way, then the thought of a hectic work week is not as daunting anymore.

Also, here's a song for you. Its by a Brazilian singer named Tiago Iorc and its been on constant replay on my iPod these days. When I listen to it, I feel like taking a long drive along the Pacific Coast Highway with all the windows wide open and shouting random words at the top of my lungs. Go ahead and press play.

P.S. Isn't this music widget from Grooveshark just great? You can customize the colors according to themes, like "creamcicle at the beach party" for instance. Love.

les petites douceurs

I am so in love with these prints by Eva Juliet. They'll be so perfect for a kitchen wall, don't you think? I just went to a vegetarian food fair this morning and sampled every little treats there. They even gave us a copy of the recipes and my culinary-challenged self is now thinking of trying to make some of their simple dishes.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. And don't forget to treat yourself with some little sweets. xo.

words to live by

I can tell you a lot of reasons why I love the New People Mall in Japantown. One of them are the words and drawings that you can find all over the building, some tucked away so well that you have to look twice to see them. I especially love that they're all contrary to those typical words of wisdom that people often tell us. Because let's face it, while it feels safe to color inside the lines, its definitely more exciting to color outside of it.

This one is my favorite, of course. Daydreaming was not really encouraged when I was growing up but I discovered early on that if I could just manage to get good grades then I can always use "studying" as an excuse to daydream. So long as I had a book or a notebook open in front of me, no one really cared if I was staring into space and dreaming of lands far, far away. Ha. And really, I wouldn't have it any other way. If I had to give an advice to my 10-year old self, one of the things that I would tell her is to keep on dreaming. Most definitely.

What about you? What will you tell to your younger self?

and we're back.

My laptop is finally fixed! Yay! I thought I needed a 12-step program when I couldn't log on to the internet this past couple of days. Does this ever happen to you, this almost obsessive need to be online? Its really scary how addicted I've become. And now I'm back, here's some bits and pieces of what happened while I was away:

Cookies and tea with my friend M, talking about relationship issues (hers) and lack of (mine). I must say, "dunking" cookies in a steaming cup of masala chai is the best.

Going to the Underground Farmer's Market with some friends, eating delicious (and CHEAP!) street food.

Walking with Holly to grab some macarons from Paulette then walking some more to Japantown, and all the interesting things we saw along the way.

In short, my offline weekend was really all about spending time with friends and the food (i.e. desserts) that we ate. See how excited I am to eat this sweet almond macaron? :)

How about you? I'd love to catch up with you.

because everyone deserves a cupcake break

Dear Red Velvet Mini Cupcake: I think you are now my best one-dollar purchase. Thanks to you this cold and rainy Monday is a little more bearable and I almost forgot that I am without a working laptop in the last two days and that my car needed a jump-start twice in less than a week. And while it may appear that the inanimate objects in my life are on a silent protest right now, I know I can always count on you to cheer me up in your unique cupcake-y way. Yes, indeed.

P.S. Since you seem to have special powers, can you please make sure that my laptop will soon be okay? I am feeling quiet lost without it.

youthful innocence

One of my ballet teachers, a charming 70-year old man who used to teach Margot Fonteyn, told us last night that the best thing that we can do as a dancer is to embody a youthful innocence. He said that some of the best Juliets are in their 50s but you can never tell because they move their body with such grace and abandon that it's almost like they've captured the best of youth in the way they dance.

I thought about what he said and how wonderful it would be if I could keep that youthful innocence in my life. But what is the best thing about youth really? For me, I think it's that endless capacity to dream and believe in something with all of your heart. Like falling in love for the first time or staying up all night to read a favorite book all over again, reading words out loud, or laying on your back gazing at the night stars, that feeling like you have all the time in the world.

Wouldn't it be great to wake up with a little bit of this feeling every single day?

(Photo by Charles Rodrigo via simply lovely)

happy mother's day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmas, mothers-to-be and mothers-at-heart. The world is a much more beautiful place because of everything that you do. And to my Mama: I love you and miss you so. xoxo.

michael ondatjee

"Sunlight pours into his Cairo room. His hand flabby over the Herodutus journal, all the tension in the rest of his body, so he writes words down wrong, the pen sprawling as if without spine. He can hardly write down the word sunlight. The words in love."

There are a few writers whose work I go back to again and again and still get that familiar heady feeling, that urge to curl inside the written word and stay there for a moment. Michael Ondatjee is one of them.

I first fell in love with the movie The English Patient, quoting phrases and writing them down in my journal inside the darkened theater. But while I loved the movie, it was the script that really moved me. And when I learned that the film was an adaptation of a novel, I started obsessively searching for the book, any book by Michael Ondatjee. This was back when I was still a freshman in college in the Philippines and English books were quiet expensive then.

I remember how my friend Mai and I would go to the bookstore almost everyday, checking the shelves for "The Book". When it finally arrived, we didn't have enough money to buy it so we started reading a chapter or two inside the bookstore, putting it down guiltily each time a sales associate would come near us. You see, "free reading" is not allowed in bookstores in the Philippines, especially for "imported" books. Imagine my delight when I came here and learned that I can go to a bookstore and read to my heart's content!

There's a chapter in The English Patient that I loved the most, its called Katherine, and if you're familiar with the movie, this is the part that revealed just how much Almasy had loved Katherine, despite, or maybe because of, the forbidenness of it all. This line, in particular, really captures the passion and inevitability of their ill-fated affair:

"How does this happen? To fall in love and be disassembled?"

Sigh. How does it happen, indeed?

*Photo taken inside the poetry room at City Lights Bookstore

let me tell you a secret

When our teacher plays this Broadway song and we move from a passé to a développé, one leg extended with toes pointed high in the air while balancing on the other leg, holding this pose for a moment, its easy to believe that I am capable of something so beautiful merely because my body is doing what it loves to do.

Learning ballet is a lot of hard work but for the first time in my life I've never been so comfortable or so accepting of my body. Yes, there are days when I look at myself in the mirror and see nothing but flaws, but for the most part I've learned to accept and perhaps love my body just as it is. And it only took 30 years and a ballet class to see this.

On the other hand, I can also understand why a lot of young dancers have body image issues and eating disorders. When you are constantly surrounded by mirrors and are always thinking of how to create beautiful lines with your body while moving it in space, I can definitely see how this can cause a lot of pressure for a teenage girl who dreams of dancing professionally.

Fortunately for me, I came into this with no expectations whatsoever, so the past two months that I've been coming to the Academy of Ballet has been nothing but a positive experience. Had someone told me before that I'd be taking adult ballet classes, I'd have laughed and thought it impossible. And yet here I am now, at 30, learning the basics of classical ballet and loving every minute of it.

(Photo by Rachael Papo via A Cup of Jo)

making me happy

First of all, thank you for your lovely comments on my previous post. They really mean a lot to me and made me feel better. The last few days were stressful, but it also made me appreciate the little joys that I have right now. I'm sharing them here and hope that it can also bring you happiness, in one way or another.

An afternoon at the beach, falling asleep to the sound of the waves.

Japanese + French aesthetic. I am obsessed with these books.

Waking up early on a Saturday morning and walking 3.5 miles to the farmer's market and back, fresh produce inside my bag, getting full from sampling all that free food.

Indulging in simple pleasures. Like these beautiful flowers. Or French braiding my hair. And eating ice cream for dinner.

My quest for the best coffee in town may have ended at Caffe Trieste in North Beach. If you live in the Bay area or plan to visit, I highly recommend getting a cup here. Its sooooo good.

Camera Obscura live at The Fillmore. People singing and dancing like nobody is watching.

And because it needs to be said, this show. I don't even own or watch t.v. and often cringe at the thought of watching cheesy romantic comedies, and here I am squeeing like a fangirl. Its terribly addicting and I can't seem to peel myself off my computer as soon as I start pressing play. Apparently, I'm not the only one either. According to one of the many comments from this blog (who probably has some the wittiest writers out there), Episode 10 a.k.a "GAME OVER" happened, "then thousands of people all over the world got electrocuted and died for a while." I sure did. In fact, the episode ending gave me a near-seizure attack and fried my brain in the process, with the tension/surprise/awesomeness of it all.

Just FYI: this drama is currently airing in Korea but you can watch it online with English subtitles here.