around and around we go

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I recently had 4 rolls of film developed and I'll be sharing them here in the next couple of weeks. When my nieces and nephews came to visit, I took them to Santa Cruz  and we had such a blast at the Boardwalk. I'm not really a big fan of amusement rides, I usually just close my eyes and scream my head off, but Santa Cruz is so beautiful and you get to see the ocean while you are so high up in the air, it made me feel like a child again!

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Our summer totes make a pretty pair.

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The Skyglider was my favorite. Its very similar to a gondola lift and it runs from one end of the Boardwalk to the other. My hands were shaking but I did manage to get some aerial photos with my disposable camera. The water looked so blue from up above.

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This was the kids' last day in California and I miss them already. I love that none of them own digital cameras or post a lot on Facebook and other social networking sites. Instead, they asked me if we could go to old music stores so they can buy used CDs. And that they are just as happy eating cheap dimsum in Chinatown or a $5 pizza sale in downtown Santa Cruz. Such a breath of fresh air.

this room and everything in it

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Today I went down the coast again and spent the afternoon at my favorite cafe by the sea. It was cold and foggy but bits of sun came through for awhile, making the light so beautifully misty I just had to take a photo. This is the view from where I was studying, a slice of homemade peach cobbler and coffee in hand.

I recommended the cobbler to an elderly man who stood in line next to me. Later he came to my table and told me how much he loved it, even went so far and said, I think I now owe you my life. If I was younger, I'd marry you. I explained to him that I didn't actually make the cobbler but he waved his hand as if to say it doesn't matter and said thank you again. He looked so sincere that I just had to smile.

The cafe closes at 6 but the lady who was volunteering today let me stay there for as long as I wanted while she cleaned up the kitchen. It was so lovely to have the place all to myself, staring at the ocean from the window. It made me think of my family all the way on the other side of the Pacific, of friends who are now teaching overseas, of the letters and postcards that I received from near and faraway places.

How grateful I am for all of this.

last days of summer

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Friends, I apologize for the radio silence over here. The beginning of a school year is always the busiest time for us. But things are looking up and I'm almost sure that I'll be back to my regular blog programming soon. I really miss you guys. Thank you all for the sweet messages, letters, and e-mails, they really mean so much to me. When I think about all the beautiful and kind souls that I met through this blog, I am deeply touched. Thank you so very much, my dears.

As a late summer gift, here are some film photos from an old disposable camera that I found while re-organizing my apartment. I squealed in delight when the pictures came out because I had forgotten that I even had the camera. These were taken 3 years ago in Monterey. I remember this day, I sat by the water for a long time, watching a pair of frolicking sea lions and writing poetry. Then I walked around taking photos while the rest of my family spent the afternoon inside the Monterey Aquarium. Its days like these that makes me really grateful that I live in California.

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Funny thing about this last photo is that I don't even remember taking it. When I first saw this picture, I was so sure that the musicians were wax figures. But now I can't really tell anymore so I guess it will just remain a mystery.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the last few days of summer. I have more film photos to share in the next few days. Take care. xo

however far away

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First of all, thank you for all your messages and e-mails, they really mean a lot to me. This past couple of days were difficult, I'm not going to lie, but they were also some of the loveliest. I think that when your heart hurts, it also opens up so you can receive more deeply, and appreciate others in a way that you hadn't before.

When I was reading Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, I underlined these lines:  
Probably someone should take this girl in his arms and hold her tight, I thought. Probably someone other than me.

I didn't know it at that time but it was as like a premonition of things to come. And true enough, it does seem as though the world has taken me in its arms. A sweet letter from a faraway friend telling me how much she enjoys reading my blog, a quiet evening spent inside a room full of poetry, a sunset photograph taken in Japan with a note that says "I rode my bike around town and thought of you", a phone call.

Last Sunday marked my fifth year here in San Francisco. We went to my favorite coffee shop along the coast. My cousin had a pair of concert tickets to see Adele but he was still in New York and couldn't make it in time so he offered them to me instead. The show was such a perfect way to spend my anniversary of moving to the city. And as she started singing this song, I couldn't help but tear up. Someone above knew exactly what I needed, gave it to me, and more.

Adele :: Love Song

all the city lights

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At the corner of Broadway and Columbus Streets. There's a guy playing the cello underneath an installation of flying books. The entrance to Jack Kerouac's alley, downtown skyline, tourists walking in line clutching their guidebooks.

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At the poetry room, now I finally understand why they named this bookstore City Lights. To the left of the poet's chair, a sign that says Welcome. Have a seat and read a book. There's always a poem that knows exactly how your heart feels at any given moment.

my analog life

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Hello friends! How have you been? I had my much-needed time offline and I am really grateful for it. The last few days were both peaceful and cathartic. I realized that its hard to undo a habit of fiddling with my phone and mindlessly browsing the internet but really the hardest part was getting out of the house (on time).

Learned that the only way to deal with a painful news is a good cry. And a long walk. Admitting to yourself that sometimes, there are no answers and you just need to go through it hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

And so today the real work begins. A new school year. Here we go.

a mini break

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"...worn thin by the vast summers
again turns into a new
insight and the mirror of intuition;
where the flowers' color
whoolly forgets that lingering of our eyes."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke, from O Lacrimosa

My dear friends, I'm taking a little break and decided to be analog for awhile. We go back to work exactly a week from now and I still haven't done most of the things that I wanted to do for my summer vacation. The plan is to turn off my computer and internet access on my cellphone, take lots of photos with my film camera and Diana mini, drive somewhere I've never been, organize papers and clothes, read and write, but mostly just be quiet and clear my head before the new school year starts.

I'll leave you with this photo of me at a roadside fruit stand in Sonoma. It was taken on the same day as these photos, thanks to Holly and her Diana F+ camera.

またね。 (See you soon!)

little travel stories

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Flight somewhere between Mexico and Houston, 2011. I was reading Rilke, decided to take a break and placed the book on my lap, face down. The man beside me glanced over and asked how is the book. I said really good. We soon started talking about books and our jobs. He told me his wife is a retired nurse and they own a little ice cream shop in Arizona and some of their teenage workers have a hearing impairment.

Come and see us if you're in the area. My wife will make you her special ice cream and you can talk to the kids in sign language, he said while handing me his business card. I smiled and said thank you, remembered a long-ago summer when I took a sign language class for the first time, how sad and broken I was, how signing and not talking helped me through my pain. Later, I wrote this in my journal: it's amazing how forgotten stories come back to you in the most random places

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Night market in China, 2001. We walked side by side, falling behind from the rest of our group who were busy shopping, neither of us interested in buying anything. It was my last night in Xiamen, the end of our 5-day cultural exchange trip, he was one of the graduate students assigned as our guide by the Chinese government. We immediately hit it off, always talking to each other, we both were interested in international relations, literature, learning. Finally, here is someone that I can really talk to, I thought.

Do you think you can fall in love with someone who doesn't believe in a God, a higher being, he asked. I looked at him and didn't say anything. All around us shopkeepers were almost shouting, inviting people to look at their wares. I remembered catching a glimpse of fake designer bags, the smell of street food, how our hands were nearly touching, how my feet hurt from walking, how everything was filled with so much energy. It all seemed unreal, even the beautiful boy beside me, the one asking questions that my 21 year-old self wasn't prepared to answer.

music monday: (500) days of summer

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I love them both together and as individual artists so when I found out that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel had teamed up for the movie (500) Days of Summer, I was naturally ecstatic. The soundtrack is great too, just the right mix of songs to listen to when you are taking a long drive somewhere, with all the windows down.

One song in particular is my favorite. Its called Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap. True to its title, this song is so light and upbeat, listening to it simply makes me happy. I was driving down the coast to Half Moon Bay yesterday, it was so cold and dreary, but this song came on and I instantly had a smile on my face.  Have a look at the video below. You can also find the full soundtrack here.


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P.S. Joe is so cute, no?

Video credit: David Branstrator on Vimeo