love on the edge

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One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place, a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said: "I've known you for years. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you're more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged." (p.3)

These are the famous opening lines to Marguerite Duras' The Lover (L'Amant). I finally finished reading this book last week, around the same time that I saw the Korean movie Late Autumn. Both novel and film left me with the same feeling of ambiguity that I felt compelled to write about them.

The Lover is a story about a 15 year-old French girl and her forbidden affair with a much older and wealthy Chinese businessman, set in the French Indochina during the 30s. It is autobiographical, told in a non-linear way, as if the narrator is trying to make sense of those hazy pieces of memory while she is telling her story. And as you can probably tell from its opening paragraph, the writing is exquisite -- very simple and yet laden with heavy emotional undertones which caught me unaware sometimes, and I had to pause for awhile to let the beauty of her words sink in.

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Late Autumn is a remake of the 1966 film directed by Lee Man-hee, a tale of two strangers who met on a bus ride to Seattle and the unlikely relationship that ensued. She is a prisoner on a 72-hour parole for her mother's funeral, he is a gigolo on the run from a former lover's husband. She is Chinese and he is Korean, they speak to each other in accented English, and theirs is one of those intense connection made urgent by time (or lack thereof). The cinematography is gorgeous and foggy Seattle provides the perfect backdrop for these two as they wander around the city and navigate their growing attraction towards each other.

Although the two stories are very different, their emotional tone and mood are similar. The storytelling are both subdued and I was constantly trying to guess the characters' feelings at any given moment. And in both novel and film, I asked the same questions: How does she feel about him? What happened to him later? Does it even matter?

"... and suddenly she wasn’t sure she hadn’t loved him with a love she hadn’t seen because it had lost itself in the affair like water in the sand and she rediscovered it only now, through this moment of music." (p.114)

It is exactly this kind of bittersweet ambiguity that pulled me into their narratives. I'm not sure how to explain it, except maybe that if you are someone who loves the shades of gray, then you will also love both novel and film. I, for one, could not stop thinking about them.

Have a look at the movie trailer for Late Autumn here. Has anyone else seen this film? Or read The Lover? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

(Excerpts taken from The Lover by Marguerite Duras)

diana adventures - west marin

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West Marin is quiet possibly one of my most favorite places to be. I think you guys know how much I love Muir Woods, Point Reyes, and all the little towns along Highway 1. This area is just so magical to me, with those redwood trees, the rolling hills, and the ocean. Last weekend we went to an oyster farm in Tomales Bay and had a picnic along the water, stopped for coffee and desserts in Inverness and spent the rest of the afternoon in Fairfax. It was even more special this time because I had my new Diana mini camera with me. Here is a glimpse of our adventures.

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Children digging clams in Tomales Bay.

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I will always stop by Busy Bee Bakery just for this apricot/blueberry crisp.

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(Yes, I asked permission from their mom to take a photo)

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A farm in Inverness. Can you spot the 3 billy goats in the distance?

P.S. If you are visiting San Francisco and have enough time to take a day trip or two, I highly recommend that you explore this side of the coast. Here is a map of West Marin and information on how to get there.

have a lovely weekend.

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Happy weekend, my friends. I hope yours is filled with gorgeous summer light and lovely things. As always, thank you for coming to visit my little blog. See you Monday! xxo

Photo of me by Melania J.

sweet finds

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I bought this bunch of sweet peas from the farmer's market and now my apartment smells so deliciously good. I think it may be one of the best $3 I've ever spent.

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A 1958 copy of this Balzac novel for $5 at a used bookstore. I swear I almost did a happy dance. I may have scared the shopkeeper with all my excited ramblings.

How about you, did you find anything special lately?

first day of summer

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Summer is here! I don't know about you guys but I am most productive in the summer. Its always been this way, even when I was little. I still remember how I decided one year that I will teach myself how to type and begged my parents to buy me a typewriter. All summer long, I typed and typed, sometimes typing poetry and short stories, but mostly just typing away random things.

Last year, I wrote some goals and actually did most of them. It was also the summer that I decided to take Japanese classes and continue doing ballet, two of the things that I love the most. I am still doing both right now but because of my (still) achy knees, I might take it easy on ballet and do something else, like swimming perhaps.

These photos of Yu Aoi by Yoko Takahashi captures the essence of everything that I long to do this summer. I am really inspired to learn film photography and take advantage of the natural light. Other things on my list are: spend more time outdoors and less on the internet, write letters, walk barefoot on the beach, read the classics, eat healthy meals, write more creative non-fiction, and take day trips as often as I can.

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P.S. What are your summers like? Do you have special plans this year?

(Photos taken from Yu Aoi's Travel Sand Photobook)

secret garden, diana style

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"If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden."
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


Do you ever get that feeling when you find something so lovely that you just want to share it to the world? That's exactly how I felt about this little park hidden amongst the Victorian houses in Russian Hill. I first came here 2 weeks ago on a group hike but we couldn't stay very long so I only took a few photos. I vowed to come back again and bring a book and a picnic basket with me because the garden just calls for it. And then I got my new Diana Mini camera so the timing was perfect! Holly is also back in town until October so we had an impromptu blogger picnic, sans the basket.

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There's some of the prettiest coral roses in this garden. And they all smell divine!

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Holly in her vintage indigo dress.

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Yummy cupcakes from this shop.

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I'm still getting used to the controls of my Diana and accidentally shot a lot of double and multiple exposures. I love how they turned out though, so its all good. Also, I already finished 2 rolls of 35 mm film (eep!) so I'll be posting more Diana photos for the rest of the week.

P.S. Can you guess where this secret park is? Hint: Its somewhere near this crooked street. (I will reveal the location at the comment section on Friday)

happy, happy weekend!

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My Diana Mini Jiyu is here! Isn't she pretty? I'm over the moon and I can't stop playing with it. Its so little and I can take it with me everywhere. I plan to take lots and lots of pictures with it over the weekend. How about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Oh, and here are some lovely links around the internets:

A magical antique shop found by Michaela over at The Drifter and the Gypsy.

This Breakfast Project. Oh my.

Michelle's great post about practicing mindfulness.

A super sweet proposal at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My new favorite song by The Honey Trees.

I hope you guys have a good one. Cheers! xo

a tea party

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Last Friday, I was invited to an Open Studio for Tea's fall collection. I only knew very little about Tea before and I must say that I was really impressed by their clothes. Their philosophy is simple: they travel around the globe and interpret their experiences into unique and modern pieces. We got a behind the scenes scoop of their next destination (hint: I was just there in 3 months ago) and a preview for their fall collection.

Tea mostly caters to children's clothing but they also had just started a women's line, though I must confess that I was more drawn to the girls' clothes and kept thinking 'maybe they have those in my size' (haha!). I can't help it, they're so easy and versatile.

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We even got to dress our own little girl for a contest. Doesn't she look like your quintessential San Franciscan? Layering is definitely key. (I want her stripe leggings!)

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As if traveling to beautiful places like Catalonia and Brazil is not enough, their studio also has the dreamiest courtyard. Don't you just want to sit there and read your favorite book? I was *very* tempted.

Here's more photos from Tea's Fall 2011 Open Studio from their blog.

Thank you, Tea for a lovely afternoon.

ballet: behind the scenes

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My school had a spring performance today. We got lucky because it was sunny and had a lot of gorgeous light streaming through the windows. And as always, there's something about ballet, late afternoon light, live piano music, hardwood floors, and the enthusiasm of youth that is just magical.

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I was captivated by the way the light was reflected against the girls' tulle skirts while they were waiting in line to perform. So lovely.

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And I can't help it, I always get emotional watching ballet. Especially this one. I've seen these kids in the studio for more than a year now, witnessed how hard they work, often bringing their textbooks to finish their homework. I'm really happy for them.

itemization :: morning

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I'm not very good at waking up early in the morning so I try to make it a little bit more inspiring. On perfect mornings, this is what I will wake up to:

Flowers bathed with faint early morning light.
A cup of Genmai-cha (green tea with roasted brown rice).
Slices of my favorite bread + homemade berry jam.
Kabocha no tane.(Japanese pumpkin cookies...I'm obsessed!)
Any fruits available in my kitchen.

Of course, in a perfect world, I'd have enough time to enjoy them all leisurely. But I'm usually rushing for work so I end up grabbing a slice of toast and/or yogurt and a banana. And a cup of coffee. Always coffee.

What does your morning look like?

destination: paris

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The movie Midnight in Paris rekindled my longing for the City of Lights and the creative life yet again. Not only does it have some of the most gorgeous shots of Paris, it is also very funny, whimsical, and quietly thought-provoking. If you are a lover of literature, art, history, and la vie bohème in general, you will surely fall in love with this film. I am not going to give any more details because the story has a very wonderful surprise waiting for you and the less you know about it, the better.

And yes, please do watch it. I took a couple of screencaps from the trailer to give you a glimpse of this lovely film but its really best to see it on the silverscreen, preferably with like-minded friends so you can talk (and talk) about it later over a glass of wine.

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bits and pieces

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Its been rainy here and I'm still wearing my winter coat. On the upside, there are blooms everywhere and I can't help but take pictures of pretty flower shops along my walks.

I think peonies are now my favorite summer flowers.

I caved in and ordered this Diana Mini camera. So excited!

Sushi + beer while studying cramming for my Japanese finals is a good thing.

Just saw the new Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris and LOVED it.

As if I need another reason to visit Japan, check out this cookie face workshop.

I'm inspired by these nature photos of Hannah from foxtail + fern.

How about you? What have you been up to?

restless

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I have been anticipating this movie since they postponed its release earlier this year. Now they finally have a date -- Sept 16. I can't wait. It looks like the kind of quirky love story between two socially awkward characters that often tugs at my heartstrings. Plus, its Mia Wasikowska, I'd watch anything with her in it. Have a look at the trailer.


(via Sony Pictures Classics)

the disposable memory project

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The Disposable Memory Project leaves disposable cameras around the world so people can take pictures and pass them on, with the hope that the cameras will eventually return home. So far they have released 340 cameras in different countries, 28 have returned, and 98 were already found. Some even came all the way from Mongolia, Greenland, Gambia, and Australia. Isn't that just amazing?

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I love how each photos give us glimpses of these faraway places from a very simple camera. And the fact that people actually took the time to pass it on and send them home is very inspiring indeed. I'm even tempted to release a camera of my own.

You can read more about this project, how to participate, or see more photos here.

All images taken from the disposable memory project.

this in-between time

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"I dwell in Possibility". -- Emily Dickinson

How does it happen that its June already? It seems as though I just celebrated the New Year, wrote my intentions on a piece of paper, then taped it on my journal. I'm looking at my list now and I am nowhere near accomplishing half of them.

Last week, one of my schools had a year-end musical and the students sang all songs by The Beatles. It was great. I was so touched when I heard the first notes of the song Imagine, watching our 8th graders all dressed up, strumming their guitars and looking all serious up on stage. I know they can be a pain sometimes, but for the most part, they are really good kids and I am so proud of them. Their hearts are in the right place.

By the end of summer, 3 of my friends will leave to teach English abroad for a year or two. Its funny how everyone I know are moving somewhere these days. I'm excited for them, having the courage to make a decision that will ultimately change the course of your life is very liberating, but at the same time, I can't help but feel sad since I'm the one left behind. Ah, I guess I will just have to visit them then. (Spain, Japan, and Korea doesn't sound too bad, eh?)

Today, its so cold and gray here. I'm nursing a cup of green tea and eating oatmeal with cocoa and lots of berries. I have no big plans for the summer yet. How about you?