the girl who reads

anna karina

It's our second week back to school and I'm mostly exhausted at the end of a work day. I have the cutest kids but man, they are so full of energy it's hard to keep up. I haven't had the chance to pick up a book since school started and it's making me antsy. One night I was so tired so I pulled out my planner and started copying poems. Then I read them aloud until I fell asleep. It's amazing how the written word and poetry calm me, keep me grounded.

Today I woke up and found out about this Ultimate Literary Calendar from Flavorwire and just like that, my day is so much brighter. Bless you, lovely person who made this calendar.

Here's some of my favorite entries:

March 5. Charlotte Bronte writes to Reverend Henry Nussey to his offer of marriage, claiming to be too "romantic and eccentric" to be a clergyman's wife, 1839

April 1. Jane Austen responds with scorn to a letter from the Prince Regent suggesting she write historic romance, writing "I could not write down a serious romance other than any other motive than to save my life," 1816

June 12. Anne Frank gets a diary for her birthday, 1942

October 26. Seventeen-year old Hans Christian Andersen enrolls in a second form classroom with a bunch of 11-year-olds, which might shed some light on his future misfit-heavy stories, 1922

You can see the rest of the calendar here.

Image above: Anna Karina from "Une femme est une femme", one of my favorite French New Wave films by Godard.

one last poem for richard

by Sandra Cisneros

December 24th and we’re through again.
This time for good I know because I didn’t
throw you out — and anyway we waved.

No shoes. No angry doors.
We folded clothes and went
our separate ways.

You left behind that flannel shirt
of yours I liked but remembered to take
your toothbrush. Where are you tonight?

Richard, it’s Christmas Eve again
and old ghosts come back home.
I’m sitting by the Christmas tree
wondering where did we go wrong.

Okay, we didn’t work, and all
memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep
beside me and never dreamed afraid.

There should be stars for great wars
like ours. There ought to be awards
and plenty of champagne for the survivors.

After all the years of degradations,
the several holidays of failure,
there should be something
to commemorate the pain.

Someday we’ll forget that great Brazil disaster.
Till then, Richard, I wish you well.
I wish you love affairs and plenty of hot water,
and women kinder than I treated you.
I forget the reason, but I loved you once,

Maybe in this season, drunk
and sentimental, I’m willing to admit
a part of me, crazed and kamikaze,
ripe for anarchy, loves still.


Tonight, I'm reading some poems aloud.
I really, really love this one.
The last six lines is perfection.

my heart is here





Some photos from my disposable camera:
Half Moon Bay / Bolinas / Mill Valley / Ocean Beach

Northern California is so gorgeous it breaks my heart sometimes.

Today I received a lovely card from a writer whose work I truly admire.
And I thought about how words can make such an impact in a person's life,
how a simple handwritten note can turn one's day a thousand times better.

My friends, here's to hoping we will never stop writing by hand/heart.

summer night, riverside

by Sara Teasdale

In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
Sheltered us,
While your kisses and the flowers,
Falling, falling,
Tangled in my hair....

The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.

And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.

To-night what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year's blossoms, clinging to its coils?

This poem is like a gentle summer breeze, I love it so.

I'm slowly making progress with my manuscript although today was emotionally difficult
and I started getting teary while writing inside a coffee shop.

"Write hard and clear about what hurts," said Hemingway. I guess I'm on the right track.

hopeless wanderer


Then let me be always migrating,
en route to summer feeding grounds, nests,
to winter mates gathered where the streams
still run, where stream melts the ice
and hidden hot springs sustain.

Yes, I arrive, but I go again.
I have appeared and will appear, the habitats
strange, and sometimes I will be lost:
sidewalk of a foreign city slapping uphill holding your hand,
a small inland pond fed by nothing but rain.

-- Christina Hutchins, The Stranger Dissolves

In the past couple of days, I've had very interesting conversations with strangers about my name. At a coffee shop, a friendly barista, who is half-Russian, told me all about my namesake city in Ukraine and made me promise to go there one day.

"You have to go. My grandma is from Odessa and I have fond memories of my summers in the Black Sea", he said. Then he taught me how to write my name in Russian, both in manuscript and cursive. "You read it as ah-DYESH-uh." It's rather sweet how excited he was.

Then I met this elderly man in Marin who told me about a novel he read in the 70's that took place in Odessa. He wrote down the name of the author and insisted that I should read the book. "It's about spies and secret organizations and you will learn a lot about your city", he said.

Last week, I went to a bookshop in Santa Cruz and met this lady who got so enthusiastic when I told her my name. "Oh, like the female form of Odysseus!", she exclaimed. Then she told me how she always wanted to write a book similar to Homer's. "But this time it's the women who will go on an epic journey to the ends of the world and leave the menfolk behind."

I told her that I haven't read The Odyssey and find it's size rather daunting. "It doesn't matter. As long as you know that your name means going on a long journey. Isn't that what life is all about?"

Yes, I suppose it is. I haven't thought much about what my name means to me but perhaps all these years I've been doing just that.

This month, it's going to be exactly 10 years since I left my country and my family to follow my own journey. A decade. I can't believe it's been that long. And when I think about my 23 year-old self nervously clutching my passport and student visa at the airport one hot August day in 2003, I can only smile at how brave and determined I was. I barely knew what I was doing but that didn't stop me from taking the leap anyway.

Where did all that strength came from? And how much have I changed since then? I'd like to think that in a lot of ways I am still the same person. I'd like to think that I've learned many things and have a deeper understanding of who I am. That perhaps I've grown into my name, wanderer, seeker of unknown seas.

Have a listen: Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford & Sons
Photo taken in Stinson Beach, CA.

august first


Can you believe it's August already? This was going to be the summer that I will work on writing my manuscript but all I can show for myself right now is an epilogue and a notebook filled with notes and random dialogues. I know I shouldn't be too hard on myself because this is my summer break after all but oh dear, we go back to work in less than 2 weeks! Sigh. I do try to write everyday but I also want to be outdoors which is often not good for me because there are too many distractions and before I know it I'm already pulling out my phone and taking pictures.

Yesterday I was in Santa Cruz, writing inside a coffee shop when a group of young girls, probably 13-15 year olds, came in and sat at the table right next to me. I didn't even notice them at first but their voices got louder and pretty soon I was already eavesdropping. It turned out that there was this really cute boy outside and one of the girls was discretely trying to take his picture with her iPhone by having her friends pose when really her camera was actually zoomed in to the boy.  

"Why don't we go over there and sit on the bench next to them," said one of them. "But that's too obvious!" chimed in another. I had to smile. This scene could easily have been me and my friends 15 years ago, minus the iPhones. Soon the girls left and a group of teenage boys came in. Again, I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. They talked about beach volleyball, improving their game, and exercising. Then someone suggested that they grab some tacos so off they went to the Mexican restaurant next door.

Ah, to be young and carefree. Sometimes I just want to be a hippie and live in a beach town like Santa Cruz. How about you, how is summer treating you so far?