books and INFPs

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Yesterday was the 60th Anniversary celebration of City Lights Books and I was surprised at how emotional I felt about it. Yes, it is true that my initial exploration (read: getting lost) around North Beach and finding City Lights for the first time was one of the reasons why I decided to move to San Francisco, but over the years I've already found other book spaces to love and spend hours in. And yet there I was, clutching the goodie bag that they gave us, walking up to the Poetry Room upstairs and feeling a sudden lump in my throat.

For me, this bookstore represents history, the power of words, the legacy of the Beat Generation, and on a more personal level, it is also one of the very first places that I felt really at home. I know it may sound strange to feel that way about a bookstore but it's true. There's a certain magic in the air when I came here for the first time and I recognized it instantly. It also warms my heart that in this era of digital books, an independent bookstore is still thriving and very much alive.

Speaking of books, the subject of Myers-Briggs personality types came up lately and while I'm often skeptical about these tests, I do believe that I am an INFP through and through so I started laughing when I read in a blog that one way to attract an INFP is to "know your literature". Come to think of it, every INFP that I know is a bookworm. And except for my friend Mai, whom I've known since high school, I met all of my INFP friends through blogging (most probably talking about books and literature). Isn't that interesting?

Which brings me to a little experiment. Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test and if so, which type are you? Here is an online test if you like to take it and share your results. I'm curious how many of you are introverts and/or book lovers.

band of horses

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They came out of nowhere and spiced up our beach afternoon. It was rather romantic, yes. And one guy was napping away, totally oblivious to what's going on. I wonder if his girlfriend will tell him about the horses when he wakes up. Or who knows, maybe he was dreaming of horses.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer weekend!

last day of spring

(or first day of summer, for some of you)

This afternoon, while I was driving back from the coast, I felt panicky for a moment. I don't know if it's that 'full feeling' that you get when the sky is too blue and the light is so dreamy that it is almost too much, or it might just be that summer is already here and I want to do so many things and I'm afraid that I won't get anything done, but I definitely felt it in my chest and I had to roll down the windows, turn off the music, and take a deep breath. Then the moment passed and I was feeling like myself again.

Meanwhile, that manuscript I'm writing, I'm lucky if I can get a paragraph or two down each day. I have this notebook where I write down scenes and dialogues, character sketches, plot ideas and key phrases but I'm still trying to establish a routine so I can get the actual writing done.

Meanwhile, my Instragram is now ought to be called flowergram, with all the flower photos that I have been taking lately. I can't help myself, I want to stop for every blossom that I see. Today I was taking photos of these pink roses when the most beautiful cat came out of nowhere and into the frame. What is it about cats that make them so mysterious and wise? (Here is the photo)

Meanwhile, I have yet to catch up on letters, e-mails, and phone calls. Ever since I read this piece by Jonathan Safran Foer at the New York Times, I've been thinking about how technology have affected my relationships and emotional connection with others. In a lot of ways, the internet made it possible for me to connect with kindred spirits that I wouldn't have met otherwise but at the same time, it is also a huge distraction and a black hole of mindless browsing. This is the reality of the world that we live in now and finding the right balance is key.

And in all these, there are the little joys:
Borrowing books from the library again.
Watching a screening of a short film made by my former student.
Finding this Pride and Prejudice copy at a used bookstore.
"Talking" to one of my favorite authors on Twitter.
Feeling giddy while writing a scene between my main characters.
Camera Obscura and their new album, Desire Lines.

sharon olds

"The room is dim around us,
ivory globes, pink curtains,
bound at the waist - and outside,
a weightless, luminous, lifted-up
summer twilight."


--Excerpt from The Promise by Sharon Olds

These words. I carry with me lately.
Her line breaks are always perfect. 

(And I really miss using line breaks)

you are my fave

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"One poem / per blossom is not enough / for a peony"  --Ryumin

It's kind of ridiculous how these peonies make me so happy but they really do. I can't decide which ones I love the most, when they're still in tight buds waiting to open, or when they finally unveil themselves in all their wild and fluffy glory. Or maybe it's the in-between, when they are tenderly starting to bloom. I just love waking up to see what the blossoms look like each morning.

first light

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Saturday. Woke up at 5:30 and drove up to the headlands to watch the sunrise. It was very foggy but I can tell that the sun was trying to peek through. Other early risers were already there inside their cars, mostly photographers with fancy equipment, just sitting and waiting. This one guy was staring at me, I imagined him thinking, Who is this crazy girl getting out in the cold and taking pictures with her cellphone when you can hardly see anything outside? True. Being a night owl for years now, I definitely felt out of sorts, as though I was sleepwalking in the mist.

It was too cold for me to stay up there so I drove back down to the other side of the bay and had the lovely Sausalito mostly to myself. Sitting alone by the deck and watching the young sky change its colors was surreal. For awhile, it was just me, the water, and the birds. It was early enough that I even ran into the garbage collector and we chatted for a bit, about the weather, how his Italian boss couldn't believe how "fancified" a cup of coffee is these days, how he wants to spend his day off at the beach. I took more pictures, squinted at the morning light, and pointed my toes. The way the light fell on the wooden floorboards reminded me of ballet and other things I love.

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hello, june.

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My month is already off to a great start. Last Saturday night I saw my favorite Swedish musician, José González, and his band Junip. They definitely exceeded my expectations and José González is so humble and awesome, and I just really LOVE him. I was a bit sad because he didn't sing Heartbeats but that's okay, I'd have one more reason to watch him perform live again.

Have a listen below. I've always said this is going to be my wedding song.



I have a short break before summer school starts and let me tell you, after writing 40+ student progress reports, I desperately need this week off. No big plans really, just to leave my apartment early everyday, walk or go somewhere I love, and write like mad. I'm currently in the middle of writing a story and it's exciting and intimidating at the same time. A few months ago, if you'd ask me if I want to write fiction, I'd have said "no" immediately. But one sunny afternoon in April, a story came to me and I knew right away that I needed to write it. Just like that.

It's a steep learning curve because I am so used to writing poetry and non-fiction but I'm slowly getting to know my characters and watch them come to life. Sometimes I'm so immersed in their world that I feel like I'm walking around in a daze. And then there are other times when I'm sitting there with my notebook and there's absolutely nothing to write and I just want to give it up altogether. But I haven't felt this inspired and challenged in a long time, it's a good place to be. And I am grateful.