happy leap day!

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Natsumi Hayashi is a photographer who takes self-portraits of herself levitating all over Tokyo. Aren't these photos awesome? I certainly admire her for taking jumping shots in public spaces!

And speaking of jumping shots, I saw this jump series by Philippe Halsman for Life Magazine and couldn't help but smile. I especially love the ones of Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot.

All images by Natsumi Hayashi. You can see more of her photos here.

music monday: dreams of travel



Last weekend, while traveling on a train to Fresno, I kept thinking about the song from Wes Anderson's Hotel Chevalier. I saw this short film a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. And Where Do You Go To My Lovely was just the right song for the bittersweet mood of the story.

Listening to it evokes images of sitting in outdoor cafés or looking out from a balcony in Paris whilst sipping your morning coffee. It definitely made me long to travel abroad, pretend that the train I was riding for hours was headed somewhere else instead of Central California.

Have a listen to the song below:
Peter Sarstedt :: Where Do You Go To My Lovely

Komomo Cafe, Nagoya

There are a lot of places that I long to go but it's no secret that Japan is at the top of my list. I think this photo of a coffee shop in Nagoya speaks for itself. You know those fantasy movies where someone ends up jumping inside a photograph? I would probably choose to go inside this one. A small café in Japan, bicycle with a basket, handwritten signs -- this is so me.

And now its your turn to answer the same question.
Where do you go to my lovely, when you're alone in your bed?

Top image from Hotel Chevalier (2007). Watch the short film here.
Komomo Café photo by mloge via Flickr.

orange sanguine


Flowers and a bag of tangerines from my trip to the market this morning.

I've been so haggard and sleep-deprived lately. A quick walk to do weekend errands, say hello to this beautiful cat at my neighborhood bookstore, and pick up some blossoms were exactly what I needed. Amazing how much sunshine and bursts of color can make a difference. I still have tons of reports to do and my apartment is a disaster but at least it feels like I can finally breathe.

Recently, I also bought a cologne that makes my day a little brighter. Its called Orange Sanguine, a mixture of oranges, jasmine, and geranium. I love the short narrative that goes with this scent:

“It was the kind of moment you would want to revisit. Everyone was here, gathered on the terrace for breakfast, and the scent of fresh oranges was diffusing in the yellow heat. A symphony of their laughter and waves hitting the cliffs played in the air.”

What kind of memory did you want to revisit today?

Mine is this. Exactly a year ago in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

winter calm



During the Lunar New Year, I accidentally found a used copy of a poetry book by the Japanese Buddhist monk Ryōkan and I haven't been anywhere without it since. I've been reading it while on my lunch breaks and every time I need a quiet space. It's so simple and yet so very true that I often find myself catching my breath at his vivid imagery.

They remind me of these stunning winter images by Joël Tettamanti that I thought I should share with you some of his photographs, along with my favorite verses by Ryōkan. I especially love the pops of color against the snowy white in these photos.



My closest friends are the mountains and rivers,
Clouds swallow up my shadow as I walk along,
When I sit on the cliffs, birds soar overhead.
Wearing snowy straw sandals, I visit cold villages.
Go as deep as you can into life,
And you will be able to let go of even blossoms.




The rain stops but the eaves drip and drip.
Perfect this moment -
In the vast emptiness, my understanding deepens.




The wind gives me
Enough fallen leaves
To make a fire.




All images by Joël Tettamanti. You can see more of his work here.
Verses from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryōkan, translated by John Stevens.

today's inspiration: ballet class




I found this old video of a French ballet class and fell in love with it. What a gorgeous studio! It made me wish that I had started taking ballet classes when I was young. But then again, I am just grateful that I can take adult ballet now. That I found something I love and still be able to do it.

How about you, what did you want to do when you were little? I'd love to hear your stories.

paper hearts

origami heart

I love making origami. It is one of the first things that I do when I'm feeling stressed. I'm not sure why but the act of folding paper and making little things, over and over, is very soothing to me. One summer I even folded more than a thousand paper cranes and started giving them to my friends. And I probably have more than enough origami paper than I will ever use but I keep buying them anyway.

Last night I started making origami hearts by following this tutorial. It's pretty easy and I was very happy with how my hearts turned out. And the best thing is, it has a pocket! You can insert a note, a photo, or a small trinket and give it to your loved ones. I want to make more so I can tuck little poems inside. You can do it too, just follow these simple steps here.

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Happy Valentine's Day, my friends! xxo

cold wind on my cheeks

trois couleurs - rouge

:: A week ago
I spent Sunday afternoon reading Zen poetry by the ocean. That night, there was a breaking news of a 6.8 earthquake in our island in the Philippines. I couldn't get a hold of my family because most of the phone lines were damaged. Another breaking news, a tsunami alert along the coastal areas. My family lives close to the sea and I could barely stop my hands from shaking while clutching my phone. All that peace and calm that I experienced watching the ocean earlier had turned into fear. How can it change so quickly? Finally, I was able to talk to my dad and he assured me that everyone is safe and well. Sometime after midnight, the tsunami warning was lifted.

:: Today
I cherish all the little reminders that I am alive. The cold winter wind stinging my cheeks as I walk to and from the laundromat. Listening to tourists speak in a language that I can't understand. Watching the movie Red from The Three Colors Trilogy, a perfect visual poetry if there is one. This song and its lyrics: I am alive, I am alive, and that is the best that I can do.

Image from the film Three Colors: Red (1994)

post #600: a letter for you

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Last autumn, when I was trying to figure out a new name for my blog, I came up with the idea of setting aside an hour of my weekend to write a letter for all of you. I figured it will be a good exercise for me to turn off my computer and do one of the things I love the most, writing by hand. Unfortunately, I kept putting off scanning my first letter, then I gave up on the project altogether.

I found my letter yesterday and realized that a part of me might have been scared to share it before. I know it sounds silly, considering that I've been blogging for years but handwritten letters seem more personal, having been written in the moment, without the luxury of an 'edit' or 'delete' button at your fingertips. But this letter was written with you in mind and I really enjoyed writing it, so as my thank you for being such awesome readers, I finally decided to scan and share it here.

Please click on letter for larger size. If you are having a hard time reading my handwriting, I also posted the transcript below, with added paragraph breaks for easier read.

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I am sitting by the window with this beautiful paper right in front of me, trying to think of what to write to you. I can talk about the people in this coffee shop, the waiter with his sleeve of tattoos, handing out brownie square samples for everyone, or the toddler in his high chair, the one who just had several bites of the brownies and is now squirming in his seat, his curly head bubbling up and down, while he kept tapping his mother's hand, obviously anxious to get off. Or I can talk about the couple sitting by the bar who's seemingly on their first or second date, judging by the shy smiles they are giving each other. Or I can talk about the group of musicians who just walked in with their guitars, all four of them wearing black and sporting longish hair.

Just awhile ago, I heard a tap on the window. I turned around and saw two young boys peering inside, I smiled and waved at them, they started to run away towards their dad. They must be on their way to the park, and I wondered, "what must we look like on the outside, in the eyes of a child?" All these grown-ups inside a coffee shop, either eating or drinking, some talking, others typing furiously on their computers, while others, like me, writing things down on paper.

I'm still finding it hard to believe that I'm part of this so called "grown-up" world now, with all its inherent responsibilities, possibly because for a long time I was one of those kids, always curious to see what it's like when you finally have all that freedom to do what you want to do, to pursue those dreams you've always dreamt. But then again, maybe we'll always feel that way inside, and that's how we keep going, with curiosities, and ideas for when we "grow up".

Now it's already 6:30 and I'll be meeting a friend to have dinner soon. The cafe is also winding down, some of the people who were here earlier had already left. From my window, I can see the N-Judah train pass by with people going somewhere, or going home. It's that hour, that day of the week, and that time of the year when the temperature starts to drop, that we long for things to keep us warm. Wherever you are, know that I'm sending warm thoughts your way....Odessa


P.S. This is my 600th post! Thank you again for reading and coming to visit. xo