dakishimete.

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抱きしめて or dakishimete means hold me in Japanese. I'm supposed to be conjugating verbs and studying Kanji for my finals when this word took me on a tangent because I remembered that I heard it in a movie before. It was from the film adaptation of Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood (screencaps above).

I really like the character of Midori in the book and while the movie did not show the complexities of her personality, I thought that this moment was very well done. By saying hold me to the boy she loves, it conveyed both her vulnerability and strength, especially knowing that he is still thinking about someone else.

Here are more film scenes that came to mind when I think of the word dakishimete. Sometimes, a hug is more powerful than any gesture of affection and these images have stayed with me because of that. So indulge me while I revisit some of my favorite cinematic moments (and couples).

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Our spring was wonderful but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn.

-- Francine, Paris, Je T'aime

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I am holding Hana, who is hugging the letters.
-- Shin Jae Joon, Heaven's Postman

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I will try something. I want to see if you stay together or if you dissolve into molecules.
-- Celine, Before Sunset

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Touch has a memory.
-- John Keats, Bright Star

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I dream.
Awaken then.

-- Jane Eyre (2011)

P.S. Jane Eyre co-stars Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender were reunited last week during the screening of his new film and the photos are just precious. I think I need a fangirl moment (ha!). Have a look here.

the city in which i loved you

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Words and art on a barbed wire fence that I found while walking around today.
It made me think of this poem, especially these lines:

Where are you
in the cities in which I love you,
the cities daily risen to work and to money,
to the magnificent miles and the gold coasts?

Morning comes to this city vacant of you.
Pages and windows flare, and you are not there.
Someone sweeps his portion of sidewalk,
wakens the drunk, slumped like laundry,
and you are gone.


-- Li Young Lee, excerpt from the poem "The City In Which I Loved You"

gratitudes and a cozy library

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I found this very cozy and warmly-lit library yesterday afternoon on my way back to the city. The first thing I noticed from the outside are the tall bay windows and its beautiful light, inviting you to go in. I did and it was such a nice way to start my holiday.

The library is open Monday through Friday until 9 pm and even though I don't really come to Sausalito that often, I went ahead and got a library card. It makes me happy that I can come back here and sit on one of their cozy armchairs while looking at the bay. And if you go outside, up on the hill to their parking lot, you can see all the little boats in the water and how they slowly fade away at dusk. It was so beautiful.

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So yes, I'm grateful for tall windows and quaint libraries that open late into the night. Other things I'm grateful for: phone calls from loved ones overseas, learning a foreign language, family and friends, toy cameras, ballet and half-pirouttes, inspiring teachers, driving in my car outside the city, mochi ice cream, writing an essay in Nihongo, coffee and tea. This little blog of mine and for you my lovelies, for coming to visit and leaving sweet and thoughtful messages. Sleeping in for the next few days (this tops the list!).

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! xo

quiet spaces

kindergarten classroom at 7:00 am

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I. Art center in our kindergarten class at 7am, before the kids came in.
II. Parkside Library, sitting by the windows where you can see the tall redwood trees outside. And all the world's beautiful language books within arm's reach.

We're at that time of the school year when EVERYONE is just exhausted and so ready for a break, counting the days 'till the next holiday. I'm taking in every little breathing space that I can get, thankful for quiet mornings and some time at the library stringing words together, or folding puffy origami stars.

What have you been up to lately? Also, because its Monday, here's a song for you. It's an old one but it brings happy thoughts, and I definitely need those right now.


Ingrid Michaelson :: You and I

the kindness of strangers

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Inside the F-trolley, along Pier 39 | camera: Diana Mini

Friends, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought we should share some gratitudes. I was inspired by this post by Holly, who got the idea from Sui.

It's pretty simple. I think most of us have met a stranger who has touched our lives in some way or another. Someone we had met while traveling perhaps, or in a waiting room, who made us smile or said something that brightened our day.  Let's share those stories and be inspired by the kindness of others.

Here are some of mine:

A couple of weeks ago, while I was browsing a video store that sells/rents foreign films, the elderly man who owns the shop tapped me on the shoulder and said something like, "I think you will love this", while handing me a DVD. Then he smiled and went back behind the counter. I was touched that he paid attention to the kind of movies that I like and that he cared enough to actually say something to me even though he can barely speak English.

I lost my wallet the day before I went home to the Philippines. It had all my IDs and credit cards but thankfully I still had my passport so I was able to travel.  When I came back 4 weeks later, a package was waiting for me and inside was my wallet and a note that said: "You dropped this at the coffee shop. I hope everything is still in here."

Last December, someone came up to me and gave me a ticket for The Nutcracker Ballet while I was lining up at the box office. You can read the story here.

Now its your turn. Leave a comment below or share a link to your blog. :)

today's inspiration: nick flynn


"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us." -- Kafka

This is precisely how I feel every time I read Nick Flynn's writing. A couple of years ago, I read his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and it made my heart ache so much at one point I had to put it down and take a couple deep breaths. And then I read his poetry and was even more amazed by the unflinching honesty and sensitivity of his poems and how much it affected me.

Very few writers can do that, make you feel so intensely with them. But then again, not everyone has had a tragic history as Nick Flynn and raised above it. His parents had a divorce when he was little, his mother committed suicide when he was in his early 20's and he never saw his father again until later when he was a case worker in a homeless shelter in Boston. It turned out that his father became homeless and was roaming all over the city, sometimes showing up in the shelter that he works in.

Nick Flynn's memoir is mostly about his estranged relationship with his homeless father and the circles they made around each other, neither of them quiet knowing how to become father and son. It is a very compelling and beautiful read, a story that will make you look at homelessness in an entirely different light. And did I say that the writing is exquisite? I know I already did, but it can't be said enough.

"Sometimes I'd see my father, walking past my building on his way to another nowhere. I could have given him a key, offered a piece of my floor. A futon. A bed. But I never did. If I let him inside I would become him, the line between us would blur, my own slow-motion car wreck would speed up. The slogan on the side of a moving company truck read TOGETHER WE ARE GOING PLACES -- modified by a vandal or a disgruntled employee to read TOGETHER WE ARE GOING DOWN. If I went to the drowning man the drowning man would pull me under. I couldn't be his life raft." (p.11)

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is currently adapted into a movie starring Robert de Niro, Paul Dano, and Julianne Moore. It is set to be released in Spring 2012 but you can watch the first official trailer from Focus Features here.

Photo credit: Geordie Wood (via)

music monday: mina tindle

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Friends, meet Mina Tindle, a French artist whose songs are now playing on repeat on my iPod, at home, in my car - you get the picture. I've never been this excited over a new artist in a long time. And how enchanting is her video!

Madewell made this one of their "music to get ready to" and I agree. It makes for silly dancing and pirouettes in the kitchen whilst making your morning coffee.

Download her first EP on iTunes here. Enjoy!

Image and video via

the things we forget

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This evening in ballet class, dancing with almost bare feet (I forgot to bring my ballet shoes), I felt emotionally lighter and lighter with each jump and turn. To be doing something so physically demanding and feel so at ease in your being at the same time, this definitely doesn't happen often and I am grateful for it.

Work, and life in general, has been trying my patience in the last week or so. Case in point: a parcel that I sent for a friend in the East Coast somehow unraveled along the way (how does that happen?) and when she received it some of items were already missing. And random unfortunate events like that you don't even know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of it all.

In a poem about going to the woods, Adrienne Rich started with the phrase, "difficult ordinary happiness." I copied this on a piece of paper and taped it on my journal.

It's true, isn't it? Finding something to be happy about in the mundane everyday things, especially if they are not going your way, is always the hardest.

Because there are some good things. Like the way light is reflected on the waves at this time of the year. Falling asleep to music in a language that you don't understand. A phone call from your best friend when you need him the most (and you wonder why he just knew). Hot cocoa and whipped cream. A bowl of spicy ramen and beer.

The thought of spring and cherry blossoms in a place that you love.

everyday cityscape by kumo san

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I had a store credit from Amazon months ago, just enough to buy this Holga Superheadz toy camera who's name is Kumo San (I'm not kidding, they have names). Since then, Kumo has been a permanent fixture inside my bag. I just had the first roll of film developed and here's some of the photos we took while walking around the city.

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Colorful houses along 26th Avenue.

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At the weekend farmer's market.

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I can see the ocean right outside our office when its not foggy.

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Ah, how I long to sit here, my favorite spot at Ocean Beach, and sip hot cocoa whilst watching the water. Its been raining and freezing cold lately and a lot of our students are sick. I have been sneezing for days now and fighting a cold myself and it's not looking good. Thank goodness its a short week, Friday can't come soon enough.

How have you been lately?

the place you are

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When it all stands clear you come to love
the place you are:
the bundle of bare sticks soaked
with resin

always, and never, a bush on fire
the blue sky without tale or text
and without meaning
the great swing of the horizontal circle

Miriam, Aaron, Moses
are somewhere else, marching
You learn to live without prophets
without legends
to live just where you are
your burning bush, your seven-branched candlestick
the ocotillo in bloom
-- Adrienne Rich, The Desert as Garden of Paradise

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These scenes from Bright Star capture what I've been longing for lately, quietly doing something that I love without having to worry about getting things done or calling people back. I made a decision to do just that this weekend and I am so glad I did.

This is where I am right now, the place I need to be.

Screencaps from Bright Star (2009)

a forest full of lights

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I had the most random and surreal week, the kind that needs almost all of your energy and mental capacity (and then some). I guess I can look at it this way, at least my life is not boring. But boy am I exhausted. I took a long nap as soon as I got home today and now all I want to do is stay in bed, have some chocolate chip cookies and tea, and watch my favorite DVDs for the rest of the weekend.

Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru (Heavenly Forest) is a movie that I've been wanting to share with you. I've always been drawn to films that use places and natural lighting as a part of their storytelling, almost treating them as another character, and this is definitely one of those. I can watch it over and over again if only for these forest scenes and how beautifully they were filmed. Just look at all that gorgeous light!

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Like most Japanese movies, the story is centered on small moments and details. A shy and budding photographer meets a quirky and happy-go-lucky girl on their first day of college. He started teaching her photography and together they spent most of their time in this lovely forest behind their school, taking pictures and becoming best friends.

Aoi Miyazaki and Hiroshi Tamaki are two of the most good-looking actors in Japan but in this movie, particularly in the scenes where they start to fall in love, they are downright luminous. Again, I think a lot of it has to do with the use natural light. And how their characters are both so down-to-earth and relatable, going through the same joys and heartbreak that most of us have experienced some time in our lives.

You can watch the official movie trailer here. It is also available to watch online with English subtitles here or here, though the picture quality is not that good.

P.S. I must warn you, some Kleenex might come in handy. ;)

Screencaps taken from the movie Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru (2006)