Thursday, June 28, 2012


            The mermaids came to Capitola and I knew I was doing the right thing.

            Timing couldn’t have been better for my Rosie. She loved summer, and Capitola wasn’t that far from San Jose. It was the perfect beach—small, but just right for anyone—and especially now, the mermaids.

            By the time I brought Rosie out there they’d all left, save for one. We were lucky. Rosie was going to have a summer like none she’d seen in her nine years. And she was drawn to fairy things. Her mother had just spent a fortune on children’s series and pop-up encyclopedias about dragons and griffins and such. Rosie delighted in these, and read them devotedly to delight her mom.

            The first day we arrived in the little sunspot of a coastal town, Rosie insisted we drive first to the harbor before checking into the bungalow. I drove the car through the small winding streets past the warm-colored little shops, and we were parked along the edges of the smooth yellow sand. She was tugging at my hand and running ahead out to the sea. At the back of the crowd already gathered in the waves, we waited our turn to get at the front where the sea maiden entertained. Some people saw us, noticed a sweet-faced little brunette girl who didn’t bother to roll up her jean hems and was tightly holding onto her father’s hand. They moved out, letting Rosie through first.

            The mermaid was a given. She was beautiful with the expected sprite features of moss-colored long tresses bobbing in the waters that enfolded her gray glowing body up to the shoulders. Her eyes were black and glistened like a dog’s, or a whale’s for that matter. Mermaids weren’t much for me, but with Rosie this meeting was different. And it altered me too, because she was happy.

            A little bit after settling into the waterfront hut we rented for the few months ahead, she begged me to take her for a waffle cone and back to the waters. There was a narrow concrete promenade for the people to trod, and wooden benches pelted in seagull droppings faced the beach along the stroll. It was sitting on one of these benches that Rosie began asking of her mother.

            “She said she’d be coming,” she spoke excitedly.

            “You know she’s busy, sweet,” I had to remind her. I always tried to avoid confessing that her mom was on business trips yes, but extended her stays in Miami and Chicago to enough time to cover the bars and shopping with her close girl colleagues—enough time from us. Usually it was a week, a month at max.

            “I heard people talk that she’s sick,” Rosie went on. “The mermaid’s stayed behind because of something wrong with her.”
            “It’s probably just that, talk.”
            She was biting into the edges of her ice cream cone, the melting cream similar in color to that marvelous creature flanking the shores in the distance. “But do you think the others will be coming back?”

            “Well, I’d sure hope so!”
            She was laughing now and tossed the crumbling cone to the birds. “Mom will love it here.”
            The next morning was when Dorothy called me. “How long this time,” I asked blankly to my wife.
            “Maybe a few days this time,” she was almost whispering. “It’s only a matter of days when they open the exhibit. I’ll be back darling, for Rosie. If I wait, I’ll be able to pick something up from here in the collection!”

            “I trust you,” I told her, even though I didn’t. But what point was there in calling her out—she wouldn’t come sooner.

            The talk was true, the mermaid had taken ill. But each day, the people were saying, she still showed brightness in spirit and playful grace in her movements, and to the children who flocked to the waves she sang to them in her smooth and low native tongue. I let Rosie go out on her own one afternoon and she came to the hut with golden pink shells. “She’d disappear into the water for minutes,” she spoke, falling asleep in my arms on the balcony wicker seat, “and she returned with the sweetest things for the kids. ‘Was one of the lucky ones.”
            Rosie loved helping me make dinner. In the outdated cramped kitchen she made sure the heat was strong, salt was plenty, and that thyme and dill were minced to precision. She was bent on bringing the sickly sea maiden some stew, even if it wasn’t what she ate. Dorothy called again. The days turned into two weeks.

            I was hearing about things getting worse with the woman out at sea. Along those neon stucco houses in the north of the town beneath the railroad tracks, the get-well cards and ribbon-wrapped tins of home-baked shortbreads for her piled and reached as far as those homes. We were walking there, and the path was blocked by two older couples seated in plastic white lawn chairs gazing out to the water. “I heard it was something in the waters out here,” a thin man with a straw panama on his head was saying to the woman closest to his side.

            “But the waters around here are beautiful, compared to LA,” the older woman, far from him, remarked.

            “They say the merfolk hate it down there,” the closer companion to the panama man said. “It’s where they’re from, but they can’t stand it.”
            “Perhaps they’re not used to up here then,” the other man with a curling black moustache joined in.

            “She won’t last long, then,” the panama man said. I looked down to Rosie; she’d been covering her ears the whole time.

            I let Rosie out to the water to see her, and I remained watching from the bedroom window following her tiny dot to the white waves surfacing. She didn’t want to spend time with me at the moment. Lately she’d ridden her blue beach cruiser through the sand with the basket loaded with her fairy books. She wasn’t reading to the maiden, but was bent on asking her facts about her people and if she could disprove any claims written in the books. “Everyone likes attention,” was what Rosie figured.

            Into the second month we’d been in Capitola did the mermaid stop rising to the surface. She stayed submerged in the murky blue below, Rosie told me after returning once, but you could still make an outline of her beneath the waves. She was swimming on her back slowly, but wrapping her long hair around her like a sable coat you wouldn’t want to lose and kept fastening tightly around your shoulders. Rosie was throwing her books out—all of them weren’t true, to her surprise. She knew mom wouldn’t get mad at her.

            The woman out at sea had died by the time Dorothy met us. Rosie was smiling at her arrival, but I knew she wasn’t embracing her mom for her finally showing, or the exquisite couture fashion dolls she’d bought her. My Rosie was feeling grief for the first time. She was too young for it.

            On the last day of July before we were leaving the hut, Rosie took Dorothy out to the benches on the concrete promenade. From the windows I could see them starring listlessly out to the sea. Dorothy’s mouth opened at intervals as if she were talking. Rosie was just still, her focus to the beach. The sea maiden’s body was going to be exhumed by scientists heading up from Monterey; this was disheartening to Rosie. Miraculously in the night her floating remains disappeared. The people supposed it sank; few believed her people had come to reclaim her corpse. But the mermaids were being spotted again near Huntington Beach; they were at home, though they couldn’t stand it there. I don’t believe Rosie bothered to tell her mother these things—she knew she wouldn’t care for any of it.

            Dorothy fell asleep in the car ride home with us. She’d had an exhausting but exhilarating past few months at God knows where she’d been stationed. The road went through the mountains enveloped by tall cedars. After driving through one winding pass safely I turned to look at Rosie in the back, who was already staring at me. School would start in a month for her, but with small short laughs she was already talking of next June.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

this circus will always have my heart

it's the place i half-heartedly had in mind when i wrote "By Your Side." it's colorful, big, bustling with youth and madly-driven to find youth elderly-- and it's not to be found in Southern California. it's a little trek to Shangri-La with Santa Cruz.

i found myself along the winding redwoods of Hwy 17 and out to the Pacific along the Boardwalk this week. my girl Alyssa called all of us together here as a good place to kick off her friend Kristine visiting the West Coast (from New York!). nothing can beat Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, not even any spot down south. it's just HUGE, pretty much all that i can say being a writer-- speechless for words. my focus particularly now is why it all appeals to me, give or take the good/bad windy weather and crowds AND ridiculously overpriced grease for food, just to get that instant rush of the West Coast any one looks for.

i only really started going to Santa Cruz about four years ago, and compared to being a little girl it's a better time to familiarize with. my passion to write was just kicking in and i was really reflecting more on my surroundings because of it. i needed to pay attention to details and fun little occurrences that would fuel any story or work i wanted to create. i never really wanted to write a story of Santa Cruz-- loved it, but it wasn't any muse for me. not yet.

and i go on about this whole "West Coast" phenomenon. it felt like it that way this week. i enjoyed talking to Kristine over what was out here and how it was like in New York. it got me thinking how different California is, in weird ways. it's a strange fantasy, one i'm so used to as others look in on what seems like a circus. it truly does feel like that with California. there's so much going on, there really is. but maybe that's just me, having not gone beyond Arizona or stepping past Seattle in the north, but when i do leave the West for new exciting things perhaps then i will see that California was no big deal. but i honestly think i'll doubt that-- nowhere is ever quite like your true home.

screams, cotton candy, a broken carousel horse, dirty hands from the chipped wood that lines the sand-clotted walkways. beach boardwalks are something of a beauitul antique in themselves. their heydays à la Coney Island and Brighton Pier weren't too long ago, but somehow the magic of a seaside carnival has made its way to our shores and captivates the masses, particularly the writer in me. i'm in love. in love with summer again (autumn my professed favorite season.... the best of both worlds, of course!), in love with the idea that California is next to normal-- or far from it, and in love with the genuine happiness i see in the faces of the children and couples and all ages just flocking to this indulgence that just echoes the perfect day by the sea you dreamed about.

yes, somewhere by the sea under the sun, that's California to most. it's undoubtedbly a dreamy fun romantic setting i can't deny, and that's why i love Santa Cruz because it just fits each and every stereotype of the state i can't help but love. the whole beach town setting is also where i chose to backdrop "By Your Side," because i wanted to debunk that Californians themselves are different. we're all people, and life is life, no matter what part of the world you're in. love may happen, love may grow, or it may not. even in California disappointment abounds, and it's no better than it would occurr in the Midwest or Eastern Europe. do i think the idyllic California exists? of course, it's a phenomenon that's self-fulfilling by its citizens, glamorizing every little thing just for the sake of it. but that doesn't make life different for us out here. but there really are those aspects to the California the whole world knows, Northern or Southern or even Central Coast, that sets forth everyone outside into thinking its own people live in a land the rest of the world wants to escape to. in the end, out here we only want to escape further, from downers of life, from ourselves-- from our mistakes we may make. and if we can't, at least in California you can just be like "fuck it," and everyone turns the other way.

just live in that moment. soak up the sun, and as much as you can. out here, there's plenty of sunshine, and not just from the sun. all around you, California-grown.

(photos via Jenny and Alyssa)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

summer night favorite thing to do is blast Airborne Toxic Event when it's hot and the window's open. i blast that lovely, gorgeous, motherfucker of a sound. especially if my neighbors don't care for it. but i love it. i love how TATE reminds me of summers in California.

this wondrous feeling came about when i had the privilege to see them live in Sacramento at Ace of Spades. it was live, epic, and not alone. the drive there with my friend Grace was great, just talking and catching up and getting pumped and excited about the show and our futures. i even got a good first row standing at the show and got to take pictures with the band AND met lead singer Mikel in line just as we arrived at the venue. loved and remembered and savored every minute of that day, June 16th.

  now a summer later, their music still projects that feeling of youth and spirit into my surroundings. that is, California. TATE is California. their music screams it. not in the obvious ways, but to me their songs are all beautifully written lyrically and melodically. As The Owl Mag writer Mayumi Okamoto observed in her review of the Ace of Spades show i attended, The Airborne Toxic Event "has more to bring to the table than just songs lamenting about an ex" as well as "generating rich textured tones with Anna Bulbrook’s violin providing a ethereal yet dramatic quality to the soundscape." there's just an innocence, dreaminess to when i hear their songs that seem like what life is about out here at times.  the rest of the world perceives us, and they are right, as carefree people tricking ourselves into pursuing big dreams and dismissing falls as little defeats we can learn from. there's always going to be something bigger and better for the west coast. that's the ultimate illusion we have out here of ourselves. TATE writes in this way, but ultimately their songs are like the blessed lyrical fall back into reality, remembering and reminding that that's just life, and it's all okay. it relates to everything, in a romantic twisted way i guess only i can understand and make of the tunes for myself.
i think the band would disagree with me, but as a fan that's why i love their music. they're that one band where i appreciate all the lyrics in their entirety; with each song it's not like i regret any of the words to the music or wished they could have been better written. every tune is perfect, poetic.

summers in California. they're long, never without a few palm trees, hot, and unique in that summer always feels like summer on a west coast.

(images via google)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

there was a fish named Alex

he belonged to a girl named Milan, living in San Francisco who bought the fish at the request of her roommate. her sister Paris, who wished his name had been Sergio or Barnaby, frequently came over to Milan’s place where the three grew fond of each other, particularly Alex.
soon the winter break was upon the college students, and Alex was taken home, home being across the Bay Bridge. everyday he grew, bigger and bigger, almost too big for his small fishbowl which Milan and Paris disliked cleaning. and he got bigger and bigger, so his size demanded he be placed in a huge tupperware where he could see all around him. gradually this enclosure included colorful stones and a rock archway from his old place.
then Paris took a leave of absence from school, and remained at home to tend to Alex while Milan returned to the City.
he grew bigger. Paris knew, Milan knew, and Alex knew. in his earlier days he would constantly swim over and under, back and forth, through the rock archway. he even slept in it most nights. one time he nearly got stuck swimming through the tunnel. now he hardly goes near the tunnel at all.

Monday, June 4, 2012

favorite images from film:

this summer is really a leisurely one, and it's not that i'm writer's blocked or such, but just taking things slowly with my writing and enjoying the passing minutes of the moment. today, it's an exceptional day because one, my mom is now back at home to rest up and recover from her surgery, and second, it's raining. in June. well, it is the Bay Area after all; she's a bit dramatic and unpredictable.

as soothing as the sight of clouds and the scent of the stiff cold air can be for today, i take time to reflect on the images i like the most out of favorite films and music videos. these certain pictures are iconic to me because they inspire my muse and get me going in the direction of the writing i want to achieve.

still from the expectations/reality scene of (500) Days of Summer

i loved this scene, even before i saw the movie. i knew what the movie was about, but seeing this still i knew somehow i'd be drawn to this movie. paper lanterns, string of lights, a rooftop looking out to a magnificent and familiar skyline-- and a couple that looks into each others eyes like that's enough of the world that they need. it's so dreamy, all of it. little did i know this scene technically doesn't exist in the film (going to spoil if you haven't seen it because YOU SHOULD see it), that this was an expectation Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Tom had versus the bleak reality of being alone at Summer/Zooey Deschanel's party. no wonder it seemed to fantastic and ethereal, because that's how Tom would have liked to have it. but of course, it's a story about love, not a love story! you don't always get what you want with love in the end, especially with the real world.
but with this photo i just like to forget about the real world and focus on their chemistry of the two lovers, on the scene that just seems perfect for a kiss in a matter of seconds after this shot.

from the end of Amelie, Hipolito is published

oh gosh. as a writer i can deeply relate to this quick scene at the end of the lovable quirky French film classic. Hipolito frequents the café Amelie works at, writing and despairing over his writing, because no one will publish his work. a hopeless romantic, he wins at the end. Amelie goes out of her way to do good for the people around her; this act was the least she could do for the poor writer to feel like someone rich. as a writer, who wouldn't want to have their work quoted in public for all to see? it's considerably only the best and most famous writers or philosophers or activists who get this special commencement. and to see that a virtually invisible person like Hipolito can be seen, it's reassuring. it's not just for the happy ending for him that i enjoy this shot, but because of the personal encouragement it gives me as well.

ending scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's

of course this scene. who doesn't love this scene, what girl doesn't! it's romantic, offbeat, and totally not how Truman Capote's novel ended. but still! it's 60's cinematic fantastic, i say; a typical romantic, mainstream ending for the masses who love Audrey Hepburn. and i adore George Peppard as "Fred." it's a still that says so much: the always glamorous and carefree Holly Holightly is now careless of her clothes and the life she's always been wanting, independent and uncaged. now she searches for Cat and accepts the love she has for Paul; despite the rain and dismal setting of a gritty sketch New York alleyway and being underdressed nothing else matters, except for Paul and Cat. i can't help being drawn to scenes of people ignoring their surroundings, their outer world. it doesn't even have to be into someone else's eyes, just thinking about someone staring out blankly is captivating. it tells the viewer that something's going on, inside their mind. something more important than the zillion things in motion around their tiny self.

"Lindsey Wells," B side of Franz Ferdinand

it's like an ode, this song, and it just has a zest and Scottish jolliness to it that i'm sure i'd hear in a pub in Glasgow somewhere. at the center of the music video for this is a girl, a young perky soul wandering the streets in search of something, anything, whatever. on the swings, kickin' it with a swan, rambling through a graveyard and mocking storefront models get her going. it's all too weird. but i do like weird. as the song says, "i wish that i could feel be so good as you." the cherry on top to this video is the 60's feel of the song and story by the black and white filming and Lindsey's simple but sleek classic clothing (à la Holly Golightly!) what i want to be, what i feel i am sometimes, but then again i'm not in Glasgow, i'm in San Francsico. nonetheless, always looking for adventure.

Green Day walking the streets of San Francisco in "When I Come Around"

always a classic, steady little song for an evening in or driving along a highway, in my opinion. watching this video i know the streets, the familiar architecture, and the Powell BART station for crying out loud. this is all on location in San Francisco. YES. and because of that, i really like how Billie Joe, Tre, and Mike casually walk along the boulevards as the song plays and the story unfolds (portmanteau in that people look out to neighbors living their lives who in turn look out to reveal a chain of events across the City). i love the city life, and i love how a main essence of urban lifestyle is the vastness and diversity of people, humanity, within the city limits. as all of these events are happening, Green Day moves on, seemingly like they're aware of these lives but focusing on just walking on with their own, knowing they too are a part of everything around them.

Alison Mosshart's sultry singing of "Black Balloon"

i'm not crazy about the whole vampire mania, but this song is sooo good. it's slow and seductive, but sings of something despairing as well, which makes the music video a good blend with the song. Alison Mosshart randomly becomes a vampire at the end, and kills Jamie Hince. this shot of her fangs and stained lips close to a blood-drenched mic is just so strange, and admittedly, sexy!

whether it's lowering blood pressure or pumping me up for some serious creativity, images like these work.

(images via google)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

writing from the hospital:

these past few days i've been just sitting, reading, walking around, and talking and caring for my mommy. she's recovering now from a surgery she underwent yesterday, just feminine issues that are well taken care of now.

i've been here, and alongside my family i've given my all to making her time here comforting and stress-free. on the upside, i've witnessed so much at a hospital scene, and particularly in the summer time there's a lot of factors into what surrounds me:

green, blooming courtyard and rooftop gardens

blue skies, drying dusty hills and Mt. Diablo in full view

lots of people out

fish. beautiful tropical, color-changing and unicorn-esque fish.

and of course, i can't forget the emotions. from the experience, especially from the beginning, when the procedure hadn't happened yet and i spent two hours in a cold but wide-windowed waiting room with my sister just thinking and hoping the best in the next few hours for my mom. i was worried for how my dad would be feeling, too. at times, it even felt like i wasn't thinking anything, just sitting and watching and interacting with my family but just not thinking anything substantial. too much going on? maybe it was just feeling too much? i think so. not to say a roller coaster ride, but more like a steady track.

i'm overwhelmed every day here though, because of what i do see that's starting to stimulate better, calming, and assuring feelings. talking and making my mom laugh, faces of relatives, letting the light in through the blinds in the morning, the music box lullaby that sounds through the hospital to signal the arrival of a new-born baby. she's asleep now, my mom, and my dad's just flipping channels on the umcomfortably-stacked flat screen in the room. it's all probably nothing, and i'm not trying to make it a dramatic event in my life or worrying more than i should over my mom's surgery-- but it has shown me things. just things, simple little things that matter a big deal to me about my life and where things could take me.

it's gotten me back into wanting to write, for sure. i wrote this yesterday:

"Two old New Yorkers and a flimsy plastic bag of pecans later, they joined Beth there in the cold room."

yes, i have a story in mind. about these hospital things and family things and the stereotypical life things. i will continue this soon. there's a summer of possibilities ahead of me, starting with my mom coming home tomorrow after noon :)