from sixteen to here

"Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened everyday and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breathe in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes." -- Kalyn RoseAnne, via Erica Lorraine Scheidt

This. The author expressed exactly how it feels to be in that moment, that "five-minute period" when you suddenly ask yourself, how did I get from sixteen to here?

All those years, they flash through your mind in a blur. Your first heartbreak, your first interview, or that one time when you felt so alone and you picked up the phone only to put it back down immediately because you're afraid your voice might start breaking. That night when you're 19 and you took a boat ride with your friends, singing songs in the dark, drinking cheap alcohol, falling in love with a boy who may not love you back.

Then you realize that all of it matters. All those bad decisions, missed opportunities, mistakes and procrastinations, they all help to get you here. You listen to the song again and smile because you know that everything is going to be okay.

This song, from a favorite band when I was 16 or 17, inspired this post.

tell the wolves i'm home

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Author: Carol Rifka Brunt 
Published: June 2012, PanMacMillan UK, Dial Press US

I waited a few days to write this post because I'm afraid I might start bawling again. And believe it or not, I'm not the weepy kind. I may have shed a tear or two when words or stories moved me but it takes a very special book to break me down to pieces.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is that kind of book. Simply put, it read me. Understood those thoughts that I never dared say aloud, my fears and dreams, the dark corners of my heart, all of it. I saw some parts of my younger self in the book's narrator that at times it was painful to read just how much she resonated in me.

Set in 1987, June is an introspective and shy fourteen year-old who feels like she belongs in a different time. She wears long skirts, goes for walks in the woods, and imagines that she lives in the Middle Ages. The only person who truly understands her is her uncle and godfather Finn. So when he dies, not only was June devastated by the loss of a best friend, she also has to deal with the truth that he may have kept some aspects of his life hidden from her.

"…once you had a friend like Finn, it was almost impossible to find someone in high school who came anywhere close. Sometimes I wondered if I might go through my whole life looking for someone who came even a little bit close."

Oh yes. I know exactly what she is talking about. To lose that one person who was absolutely in your wavelength and feel like a fraction of your soul was ripped apart when he was gone.

But it's not just about grief and sadness, for Wolves is so richly drawn and complex. There is June's relationship with her parents and her older sister Greta. And her reluctant friendship with Toby, the mysterious man that she saw at Finn's funeral. It's a story about losing and finding love, all told by such an unforgettable voice of a young girl.

"I wasn’t interested in drinking beer or vodka or smoking cigarettes or doing all the other things Greta thinks I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to imagine those things. Anyone can imagine things like that. I want to imagine wrinkled time, and forests thick with wolves, and bleak midnight moors. I dream about people who don’t need to have sex to know they love each other. I dream about people who would only ever kiss you on the cheek."

“I used to think maybe I wanted to become a falconer, and now I'm sure of it, because I need to figure out the secret. I need to work out how to keep things flying back to me instead of always flying away.”

June is the kind of storyteller who will tug at your heartstrings because she's so real and unapologetically herself. I was reluctant to put the book down when I finished it because I wanted to spend more time with her and her story. And it might be too early to say but I think this is my best read of the year.

postcard from lake tahoe

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"the sun on your arms naked against my cheeks
hello I said to you
the day of quatorz’juillet"

--from Bastille by Pierre Martory, via Poetry Foundation

Dear friends, I'm currently in North Tahoe visiting my cousin. Cellular reception is spotty here so I'm not sure how this post will turn out. I hope you will have a wonderful week.

And to my French friends, Happy Bastille Day!

the sky is everywhere

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"The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet."

A beautiful summer evening in Pacifica. It was one of those times when I wished I had a better camera to capture how the sky was reflected on both ocean and sand, how tops of the waves shone brightly with golden light, making everything mirrors for each other. Even the surfers looked like they were one with the water. So lovely.

And every once in awhile I get an Instagram update that really warms my heart. This time it's from the SF Ballet and their new harpist. Read the story here, I promise it will make you smile.

Quote is taken from this book by Jandy Nelson. I read it awhile ago and love it to bits.

we built a fort

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Last summer, Stinson Beach.

And no, this is not our fort but it did remind me of a childhood memory. Growing up in an island, molding wet sand into castles, forts, hills.

As much as I loved being in the water, I much preferred being near it, comforted by the thought that it is always always there. That I can make sand castles, swing on a hammock, read a book, daydream of faraway places, and the sea is constantly watching over me.

Since summer school started and our work day has been shorter than usual, I've been more and more indulgent of my ocean-loving heart. The downside is, I'm rarely home and so behind on the practical side of things. But this is what I need to do right now and it feels right.

“The cure for anything is salt water - tears, sweat, or the sea.” ― Isak Dinesen

a poem, for you

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Summer Solstice
by Stacie Cassarino

I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.

-- from Zero at the Bone  via The Poetry Foundation

(Photo taken last summer at Mission Ranch in Carmel, CA )

because it's monday

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I can't write a cohesive post because everything hurts, my sunburnt back from staying out too long at the beach this weekend, my eyes from crying (no, heaving sobs) because I may have found that one book that understood the young me perfectly and it's so, so devastating and beautiful all at the same time.

Yes, I recognize that we should only read books that wound and stab us, but my God, this one rang so true, it was almost like looking at my 14-year old self and reading what's inside my heart.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, you own me. I hope I can write a review later but to be honest, I'm not even sure if I can do it justice. All I want to do right now is curl up in a ball and think of June and Finn and Toby, all of them really. It will take a long time before I will forget these characters.

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These two pictures were taken last summer when I was laying on the grass at the park, pointing my disposable camera at the sky and the pastel colored houses nearby, dreaming of Japan. It's amazing how much difference a year makes. Last summer I was sure I'd be in Japan by this time and now here I am, the sky is still so blue and has been for days now.

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I had started making a summer mixtape this morning but my choice of songs didn't feel right so I'll have to redo it and share later.  Meanwhile, I have been listening to this song over and over, I think it is perfect for the mood that I'm in right now.

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Lastly, I want to thank those of you who took time and shared your results for the Myers Briggs Test. It's interesting how almost all of you are either an INFJ or INFP, which I believe are very similar personality types and also two of the rarest. And I've said this before but if there's one thing that I'm really grateful for keeping this blog, it's because it introduced me to like-minded souls that I wouldn't have met otherwise. Thank you, truly.