nostalgia

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Last weekend, an afternoon
drive to Tomales Bay. I had forgotten
how light my heart feels, driving with the windows
down. Past rows of tall redwood trees,
the smell of barbecue smoke and young,
spring air.

A red bridge with faint wisps of fog above it. Blue, blue sky.
And I thought, you need to remember this. For later.

(Black and white photos taken last year, with my Diana Mini camera)

after 1Q84

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“You can’t easily generalize about pain. Each kind of pain has its own characteristics. To rephrase Tolstoy’s famous line, all happiness is alike, but each pain is painful in its own way.”
-- Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

I finished reading 1Q84 a couple of weeks ago, all 925 pages of it, and while I've read another novel since then, I still find myself going back to the world of 1Q84. Perhaps because it is such a heavy book and I carried it with me everywhere for more than a month, reading it every night before I go to bed, perhaps because of its repetitive writing style, the perceptions created by the author has somehow manifested themselves in the way I see things, or perhaps because I connected with its characters, I just know that I had to write something about this book.

Reading 1Q84 was like falling into a rabbit hole. At first I tried to make sense of what is going on but I soon realize that there really is no use of trying to find logic in the surreal. How do you explain a world with two moons? Or little people coming out of a dead goat's mouth? You don't. You simply allow yourself to be carried away by it. For despite the bizarre circumstances and the strangeness of it all, there is still a shared reality, something that each reader can identify and relate to, a feeling, a memory, a longing.

There are so many themes in the novel but the one that really touched me was the characters' feeling of alienation and loneliness, so real that you can see yourself in those moments when you also felt so alone, reaching out for something and you don't quiet know what that something is. Whether it was Aomame sitting by the balcony looking at the empty playground every evening, Tengo reading to his estranged and comatose father in a seaside hospital, or Uchikawa spending all of his day taking pictures of people going in and out of an apartment building, something about these mundane details resonated in me. So much so that as soon as I finished reading the book, I had this sudden urge to take a long train ride somewhere. One where I can travel overnight and watch the sunrise from the window.

I did end up taking an hour train ride to see one of my best friends that evening. Somewhere between my city and his, the rain started falling and as I looked from the window, trying to make out the shapes of the buildings and lights outside, it occurred to me that maybe this is what good fiction is all about. Constructing your own meaning from something that is not real and meditating on it in your everyday life. If so, then 1Q84 has certainly succeeded in doing that and more.

Has any of you read 1Q84? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Photo taken by me, via iPhone Instagram

beneath the cherry blossoms

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Every spring, I always dream of sleeping underneath these trees.
To wake up to a sky covered with cherry blossoms.

The wind is too chilly around here and I'm still nursing a cold so any plans of frolicking outdoors will have to wait until I'm feeling better. Last week I bought a box of loose leaf tea sampler and a little teapot that I am now putting to good use.

Current tea loves: Green Mango Peach and Earl Grey.

A movie that I love inspired me to listen to Erik Satie once again.
I think Gymnopédie No. 1 is one of the most sublime piece of music ever created.

Have a wonderful Easter, my friends. Dream well.

film + poetry

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I am currently reading Anne Sexton's Love Poems and while I loved her before, this collection definitely cemented my adoration and awe of her poetry. The themes that she talked about here are by no means easy, mostly about adultery and relationships that can destroy you, but they are also very tangible and honest. They remind me that love is anything but simple and I often find myself catching my breath with each poem.

The movie Breathless also came to my mind while reading this book. It has been awhile since I saw it so my recollection of the story is somewhat hazy but the thing that stood out the most for me was that 'no holds barred' intensity of the couple in the film. They had a very complex love-hate relationship but you can't deny their attraction for each other, no matter how hard they tried to fight it. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg definitely had that special zing! and will always be one of my favorite onscreen couples.

Here is a poem that I chose to complement the scene above. I really love the first lines, she has a way of making each emotion so vivid and immediate, you can almost touch it.


THE KISS
by Anne Sexton

My mouth blooms like a cut.
I've been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby , you fool !


Before today my body was useless.
Now it's tearing at its square corners.
It's tearing old Mary's garments off, knot by knot
and see -- Now it's shot full of these electric bolts.
Zing! A resurrection!

Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint. It was no more
than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
She's been elected.

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical instruments. Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
into fire.


Image from Breathless (1960), courtesy of Rialto Pictures/StudioCanal

it's here!

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April is National Poetry Month, I'm so stoked!
Here are a couple of ways to celebrate a month's worth of poetry :

Download a PDF file or request a free poster and place it above your desk or somewhere you can see it everyday. This year's lovely poster was designed by Chin-Yee Lai, featuring words from the poem Our Valley, by current U.S. Poet Laureate Phillip Levine.

Pick a poem that you love and start memorizing it.

Spend at least 15 minutes of your day reading or writing poetry.

Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 26.

Listen to poetry. Here are some audio archives that you can listen during your commute.

Start giving away poetry to friends, co-workers, strangers. Little ways like posting your favorite verses on Facebook or Twitter, making bookmarks with poetry and leaving them at the library, writing postcards or letters to your loved ones.

The Academy of American Poets also listed 30 ways to celebrate this month.

As for this little blog, look forward to more poetry features in the next few weeks. And maybe some of my own, if I'm feeling brave. Let poetry inspire our lives once again. Here we go!