october thoughts

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I remember this day. The autumn wind, the sight of kite surfers in the distance, and the joy of discovering a place you've never been before. We were walking along the wharf when I heard a group of little kids call from the water, "Miss, come swim with us." I had to smile because this sight is such a familiar childhood memory. A small seaside town, school-aged children in T-shirts and shorts taking turns diving from the pier. Such simple pleasures.

October turned out to be the month when really bad things happened to people close to me. Accidents, illness, one unfortunate news after another. I watch a friend tie a scarf around her head (having lost all of her hair from chemotherapy), most days she goes about her life in her usual energetic way and some days she's drained and weary. And yet, she still manages to come to work, give us big hugs, and crack the funniest jokes. I look at her and I feel so very proud and sad at the same time.

Two weeks ago, I was on my way to buy dinner when I saw a small woman pushing a stroller in front of me. It was dark and she was walking very fast so I couldn't see her clearly. All I know was that the stroller was filled with empty bottles and cans. She stopped by a recycle bin in front of a streetlight and I saw that she was carrying a baby in a wraparound sling on her back. As soon as she heard my footsteps, she stopped rummaging through the bin and walked away, but not before I glimpsed the look of determination on her face. I watched her disappear around the corner, the sound of bottles hitting each other trailing behind her, and I suddenly felt like crying.

There's so much goodness and beauty in this world and yet there's also so much suffering. And sometimes its very hard to reconcile these two. But we try and do the best we can. And perhaps, just the fact that we tried, is enough.

Photo taken in Bodega Bay, via iPhone.

pfeiffer beach, big sur

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You know you're head over heels in love when, even in the midst of being there, you're already thinking of coming back. That's exactly how it was for me with Pfeiffer Beach.

One of Big Sur's hidden gems, the road to Pfeiffer Beach is unmarked and easily missed from Highway 1. I knew this when I started driving from Monterey and I had planned on using my navigator to get there. What I didn't realize was that there was no satellite reception in this area so I had to ask some locals to give me with directions and even then I still drove past the yellow sign that says "Narrow Road: No RVs-Trailers".

Needless to say, I did find the unnamed road and drove 2.5 miles down to Pfeiffer Beach. They were not exaggerating when they said that it was narrow and I started to question my sanity while driving along this one-lane path. But it was all worth it as soon as I caught a glimpse of the ocean.

Words and photos won't do it justice and you just have to experience this magical place. I was glad I went there alone because I was able to keep quiet and take it all in - waves crashing against rock formations in the water, such gorgeous light, everything about it is so serene and majestic. Oh, and parts of the beach has purple sand! I've never seen anything like it. My only regret is that I couldn't stay longer to see the sunset but I guess that's one more reason to come back here.

Some things to keep in mind when you visit Pfeiffer Beach:
  • When driving south from San Francisco, the turnoff is less than a mile from Big Sur State Park. There is a yellow sign that says "Narrow Road", make a sharp right here.
  • There is a $5 fee for parking. Day use only.
  • Bring food and water, there are no concession stands inside the beach.
  • Don't forget your coat or a blanket, it can get windy and cold here. 
  • If you have some extra time, drive south from Pfeiffer Beach to Cafe Kevah. They have outdoor dining with panoramic views of the Pacific and very friendly staff.

You can see all of my photos from Pfeiffer Beach here.

at the rose garden

rose garden, via instagram

Scribbled words in place of a to-do list:

Ako is 'I' or 'me' in Filipino.
Aki is 'autumn' in Japanese.

Stroke count:
Au (会う) 'to meet' is 8.
Ai (愛) 'love' is 13.

Petal count:
love
me,
love me
not
.

Scents count
your losses
when the season is
ripe.

hardly strictly bluegrass

via "the lumineers"
Photo by The Lumineers

This weekend was an epic one for San Francisco. There's the Fleet Week, America's Cup, Giants playoffs, Castro Street Fair, Italian Heritage Parade, Burning Man Decompression, the opening weekend of Litquake, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. I'm sure I missed other events but according to the news the city had about 1 million visitors this weekend.

For the first time, I chose music over a literary festival and spent Sunday at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park. It was amazing and totally free! There were 6 stages and more than 40 bands just for Sunday (it's a 3-day festival) so we got there before noon to set up our blankets and went from stage to stage to see our favorite artists. The energy was exhilarating and at some point I had to close my eyes and say a quick thanks. Such a wonderful, wonderful gift. The only way it could have been more perfect was if I had everyone that I love with me at the park, listening to beautiful music and celebrating this fair city.

And because joy is meant to be shared, here's 3 videos from bands who performed at HSB.



The highlight for me was definitely Glen Hansard. It's always been my dream to watch him perform live and he simply blew me away. I also fell in love with this song.



The Lumineers is one of my current favorite bands. I was so sad that I missed their performance because I couldn't go on Saturday so I've been playing this video on repeat instead.



Black Prairie is a new-to-me band. I heard them for the first time at the festival and they were just awesome. This song, especially, warms my heart and makes me happy. Accordions and violins tend to have that effect on me.

amélie and the glass man

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"I think it's time she took a real risk." -- The Glass Man

Anyone else feeling ready to take on new challenges at the turn of the season? It's funny because I've always had the hardest time letting go of summer but this time around I'm actually looking forward to the shorter days ahead. Perhaps this enthusiasm has something to do with writing poetry again or just the change in perspective that I've gained over the summer. Whatever it is, I'm embracing it with open arms.

The beginning of autumn also makes me think of revisiting some favorites:

Amélie - this movie's color scheme reminds me of the rich colors of fall. And with her knee-length dresses, cozy cardigans, and lace-up boots, Amélie's style is just perfect for the season. I've seen Amélie so many times I've almost memorized every scene but I still love it now, or even more, than the first time I saw it.

Haruka Nakamura - his music is described as "made of sunset and season’s perfume" and I couldn't agree more. Have a listen to this song. It makes me think of sweet October nights, curled up in your favorite blanket, and sipping hot cocoa.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - such a beautifully written and heartfelt book. I related so much to the main character that it was like recognizing my own voice.  This is the perfect novel to pick up when the weather starts to get cold and you just want to stay in and get lost in a good story. The movie adaptation is currently showing and I'm hesitant to watch it because this book is so precious to me. But the author, Stephen Chbosky, also wrote the screenplay so I am very hopeful about this film. Has any of you seen it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Amélie screencaps via

one heart

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one heart

It always makes me happy when I find a new poem that I love. And even better when I have a photograph to complement that poem.

The top photo was taken two weeks ago in Monterey, early Sunday morning while walking my cousin's dog Red. I remember Red kept wanting to chase the birds and run away from me. I'm pretty sure I looked comical, taking a photo with a disposable camera while balancing a cup of coffee with my other hand and half-running to hold on to Red's leash.

"One Heart" is poem by Li-Young Lee and a new find while hanging out in the Poetry Room at City Lights Bookstore. There are those poets that speak to us in a very personal way and Li-Young Lee is one of those poets for me. I want to memorize this poem and remember it when I'm feeling small and discouraged. The work of wings / was always freedom -- so beautiful and comforting.

We are having our Indian Summer here in the Bay Area, at last. I've been taking advantage of this glorious weather to go for walks and take naps on the beach.

How about you, what have you been up to these days?

"One Heart" by Li-Young Lee from Book of My Nights, published by BOA Editions, Ltd.