with lens & pens
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About: A 22 year work in progress. I am a writer, reader, photographer, graphic designer, traveler, life-long diarist, and Jeopardy! champ in training. Well-versed in my knowledge of mid-century and current high fashion super models, small, cute animals (no matter how obscure), lame jokes, Miyazaki films, and TAL. This blog is a collection of musings and photographs of my life: past, future, and present

An update for updating’s sake. Trimmed my hair (thinking of going shorter… see right photo — eek!), serving jury duty two days (possibly more?) in a row, met some very dramatic and unreal characters I’d like to never meet again, and I’ve been having horrible weeks/weekends. Little perks are few but nice, and include the discovery of a new favorite donut shop in Sunnyvale called Daily Donuts and how I’m finally getting comfortable with driving. I think I just need to learn how to u-turn and parallel park and then I might actually be allowed to play with the other kids.

My last little “HA — take that!” victory before I go get my last two cavities filled tomorrow.

My last little “HA — take that!” victory before I go get my last two cavities filled tomorrow.

Yesterday, spent the whole afternoon at the library writing up a plan and doing some reading and research for my hopeful Austin move. We had lunch at this new-ish Chinese restaurant that served boba as “water,” and I went crazy. We’re going there tomorrow, actually — out of necessity, not gluttony (though the latter would be more in character) — but hopefully I won’t stuff myself full so I can have room for a french cruller (which I have been craving forever) at the donut shop next door. 

I did a little nail art last night as well, painting my nails grey little bunnies. I’m going to wait a few days to take them off and then re-paint them and take photos for a how-to! It’s really very simple, and I’m eager to just document something step by step. Other than that, feeling very lackluster these couple days and not so sure why. 

Peter pan collared button up by AA, cardigan and vintage shorts by Gap, thrifted scarf, copper flats by Via Spiga, laptop messenger bag by Coach, ecstatic grin by the books I just read about Texas.

I miss him and Austin very much. August will be a very miss-y month. Gripe, gripe, gripe, I cannot wait to move there.
One thing I won’t miss is boredom-blogging at hours too late. 

I miss him and Austin very much. August will be a very miss-y month. Gripe, gripe, gripe, I cannot wait to move there.

One thing I won’t miss is boredom-blogging at hours too late. 

My grandmother’s birthday was today and we bought her a taro cake. In typical Asian older lady fashion, she was adamant about not taking pictures or making it a huge birthday bash (they see it more like another inevitable step toward death, not a celebration of another “successful year alive”), so we complied. Richard, Sunny, and I made a card though, telling her “妳终于30岁了!” — finally, you’re 30 years old!

My grandmother’s birthday was today and we bought her a taro cake. In typical Asian older lady fashion, she was adamant about not taking pictures or making it a huge birthday bash (they see it more like another inevitable step toward death, not a celebration of another “successful year alive”), so we complied. Richard, Sunny, and I made a card though, telling her “终于30了!” — finally, you’re 30 years old!

I’d been wanting to read When You Reach Me since I finished The Graveyard Book a few months ago and wanted to review what other Newberry Winning (and honored!) books I had missed in the past several years. I think I was 13 when I unknowingly and accidentally decided I was too old and stopped visiting the youth sections in book stores and libraries. Silly, little, mistaken me.
From the beginning, it references A Wrinkle In Time, and I’d be willing to describe it as a modern reworking of it. The writing is a lot like Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is perfect for anybody who also loves any book that features the very-precocious-kinda-loner-kid-with-some-immature-actions-not-understanding-the-world-but-figuring-it-out-and-reminding-us-that-the-universe-is-so-much-bigger-than-us archetype. It’s difficult to talk about without revealing too much (so I won’t), but I will say it’s really, genuinely good, deals with time travel, redemption, and mystery, and I totally recommend it. A book you CAN judge by the cover! Unless you hate the cover illustration because in that case, you are actually blind and probably can’t read the book anyway.

I’d been wanting to read When You Reach Me since I finished The Graveyard Book a few months ago and wanted to review what other Newberry Winning (and honored!) books I had missed in the past several years. I think I was 13 when I unknowingly and accidentally decided I was too old and stopped visiting the youth sections in book stores and libraries. Silly, little, mistaken me.

From the beginning, it references A Wrinkle In Time, and I’d be willing to describe it as a modern reworking of it. The writing is a lot like Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is perfect for anybody who also loves any book that features the very-precocious-kinda-loner-kid-with-some-immature-actions-not-understanding-the-world-but-figuring-it-out-and-reminding-us-that-the-universe-is-so-much-bigger-than-us archetype. It’s difficult to talk about without revealing too much (so I won’t), but I will say it’s really, genuinely good, deals with time travel, redemption, and mystery, and I totally recommend it. A book you CAN judge by the cover! Unless you hate the cover illustration because in that case, you are actually blind and probably can’t read the book anyway.

About to head back out and continue trying to use the entire film roll for the Minolta I thrifted for $5. I hope it works! This is not the picky jerk that takes the discontinued 126 film (that one’s put on the shelf until I feel comfortable investing so much money in it) — I found this one a several days ago and had to snatch it up cause it luckily takes 35mm.

Earlier today, I had breakfast at this breakfast diner in San Jose called Scramblz. It was really good and the portions were huge, and all would have been well, save for the fact that my dad and I got into a big fight, with the root of it being petty generational and cultural differences. The kind of vignette that would have made Amy Tan another best selling novel. 

Silk button up (thrifted), double chiffon skirt by AA, sandals by Nine West, new old Minolta, discolored feet — NO IDEA.

My poor little legs biked 15 miles to the DMV in downtown Los Gatos (with Richard as a most helpful map and companion) and took the written portion of the drivers license test. Anyone who told me it was a cinch either loves lying or is a driving god of gods. I had to take it twice — I had seven wrong on the first test (you can only miss six), but luckily, passed the second with just one wrong. Thrilled that I don’t need to get hounded over this thing anymore, but not thrilled about the upcoming road test and the fact that I look less than desirable in my photo (why didn’t anybody tell me the photo is taken that day?! At least I wouldn’t have trimmed my bangs the night before!). Mostly, I am shocked I came home with a piece of paper. I mean really, California did a disservice to the nation today by giving me this official stamp of approval. Whooooops!

It was a wonderful bike ride though, despite the heat. Richard describes the trail we took as “a highway for bicycles,” and it kind of is! Everyone there is going somewhere with a purpose, and there are a bunch of exits to little parks and areas downtown. Some of the bridges have childrens’ art on them (with some tagged over — what kind of asshole would tag over a kid’s piece of work?!) and I found one that is kind of sad when you think about it now. So I had to take a picture of it. At least Borders lives forever on a bridge. Don’t cry, little Francesca, you couldn’t have known!

The sun was throwing up all over the sky today, and I think I’ve turned two shades tanner — very displeased. And all day biking, I was extremely uncomfortable. Still, I wore the cardigan the whole day because I didn’t want my arms to get tan. Am I insane? No, I’m just a thoroughbred asian.

I also visited an American Cancer Society thrift store downtown and came home with half their inventory. Well, maybe six items (among them, a vintage Céline!), but I love them dearly and am more than thrilled. As far as thrift stores go, they’re actually a little more expensive, but they have super quality things. I actively seek out their locations not only because I’ve always enjoyed thrifting as a sport, but because their cause hits very close to home right now — takes away a little of the inherent frivolity in leisure shopping.

High waisted shorts by FCUK, peter pan button up by AA, cardigan by Gap, sandals by Nine West (via Nordstrom Rack), sunglasses from F21, cross body bag by Kate Spade. 

I’ve been kind of getting into pants, lately — mostly out of necessity (biking with my usual dress or skirt is a little harder here for some reason) — but it’s been a nice little change nonetheless. I now have four pairs; up from the single one I had about this time last year, and this is my newest addition. Does anybody else notice something strange about them though? I wouldn’t notice just by sight (this may have to do with how infrequently I wear pants, but still), but the zipper/button is on the wrong side and I don’t know why! I swear they’re lady pants with lady sizing and lady fit and I am a lady who is gallivanting around in them, so they must be for ladies! But god, it is the weirdest sensation to put them on and off — my hands have to readjust after feeling really discombobulated, the same way they would if I was wearing a man’s shirt. Which I’ve only worn half a millisecond. And only for funsies of course.

Pants by trouvé (via Nordstrom), cardigan and striped shirt by Gap, shoes by Via Spiga, sunglasses from F21, cross body bag by Kate Spade.

After waiting a couple days for the primer paint to dry, we took the next step and painted the main body color on the bookshelf. The paint glided so easily, it gave me the same type of elation as touching new fleece or hugging laundry just out of the dryer or rubbing calluses against silk so it catches the threads and makes a slight scruffy scratching noise. Premium paint is premium indeed!

The paint is by Behr and I forget what the color’s name is precisely called, but we found it at Home Depot in their “last chance” cart, where I’m guessing paint that people had mixed but wasn’t the color they really wanted get placed for a quick sell? It was just a little industrial cart where legitimately sized paint buckets (varying from gallon to quart to baby-sized “trial” jars) were being sold with ridiculously low priced because, well, I guess some chump change is better than complete losses. We bought an untouched gallon of this shade for $5 (vs. the usual $40+) and a couple of the smaller paint sizes for $0.50! Anyway, I still have at least 1/9 of the gallon left, so here’s to hoping I can’t sleep-paint because the whole house may be monochromatic by dawn tomorrow.

Other than painting, Richard, Sunny, and I woke up early to accompany Richard to his high school so he could take a placement test to let him skip pre-calculus and go straight into calc. I tune out the second “math” is mentioned so I don’t know anything else that happened, but while we waited, Sunny and I read on his school’s well-kept lawn(s) and then walked around to find a Starbucks. We spotted a thrift boutique and hopped in, of course, and I left with another button up, khaki high waisted shorts, and two scarves I plan on using to tie as bows beneath my collars. With the shorts, I did something I hadn’t done ever, which was buy them in advance and vow to lose enough weight to squeeze into them. I really just need a couple centimeters to make the buttons feel easily buttoned instead of the obvious squeezing-in they endure now, but ever since Richard went to visit me in Santa Barbara and ever since I’ve moved home, it’s been very easy to exert my dictatorship as the old, revered sister and make them fetch me water bottles I opened and forgot about downstairs and bites of fruit tarts and brie as they massage my back and feet and chant, “you are beautiful, you are perfect.” If you’ve ever wondered why Kim Jong-il has always been on the chubbier side… I can tell you why.

Last thing — I also found another “vintage” store close to the school that carried things from the 20s to the 90s. It’s huge and I can best compare its selection to Haight-Ashbury’s Wasteland and Aardvark’s combined into one megastore. Pricy, but after literally gripping a dress and trying it on twice, I got it anyway. It’s extremely flattering to my figure and I kind of want to study its pattern and hopefully copy it well enough to keep making more dresses of this fit in different patterns. An educational piece, you could say. Or I guess, I will say, to make myself feel better.

I’m planning on incorporating more outfit posts in this little startup blog, but for some reason, it is so hard to remember to take a picture of what I’m wearing. 

My Kate Spade bag arrived today; I had been counting down the days like a kid on Christmas Eve, only my Christmas morning kept getting pushed back. For six days. I’m a little disappointed because it arrived with two scratches on the exterior of the main body as well as one on the curve of the flap, but I really don’t want to deal with the hassle of exchanging and any postage mix-up, so I’ve just decided to keep it. I am an online store’s dream.

Besides those flaws, it’s extremely cute, though! It’s teeny tiny and fits exactly my red card wallet (which coincidentally has a similar shade of leather interior) and phone. Now I’m painfully sitting at home, trying to finish reading the driver’s manual, wishing I could actually be prancing around outside with my new little addition.

Thrifted a bookshelf for $10 last weekend, and decided I wanted to make a little project out of it. I’ve wistfully sighed at a lot of home decor and DIY blogs featuring cute little thrift finds given new life by just a change of color, and have always, always wanted to try it myself. And as always, when I’m in conversation with me, to me, “ask and ye shall receive.”

So today was priming day! I asked Richard and Sunny to help me (which they eagerly did). Am I the only one who didn’t know paint primer was white? I always thought it was clear. Or maybe it was the kind of primer we bought? Am I capable of asking any more questions I can probably easily google to find the answer to but won’t so I can sound like a reader-interactive blog by presenting invitational questions? Whatever the case, the bookshelf is nicely sitting and drying off in the backyard, and I can’t wait to finally paint color onto it in the upcoming days. Or weeks, if I stay consistent with the hemming and hawing thing I’ve got going on already. It’s just — an olive trim versus a grey trim can drastically change a thing!

First, my problem was fixed by my dad, as always. Somebody may have been typing the wifi password wrong and that somebody might have a name that starts with a V and ends with an -alerie.
Ignoring my obvious shortcomings, one miiiiight be interested to know I’ve been tending the compost garden rather religiously the past week or so, ever since I suddenly remembered it sitting there in the furthest corner of the backyard. My mother started it over a year ago with scraps from the dinners she made, and it only really came to our attention when some strange melons and pumpkins started growing out of (what previously was) nowhere. Right now, that little patch boasts some tomatoes, green beans, and “green onions,” which we forgot to pick while they were small and edible, so they’ve since become abnormally large, flowering plants. They’re actually my least favorite and kind of freak me out whenever I’m churning the soil — proportionally too big and belittling! You can see them in the photograph very clearly… they’re the very large, grass-like plants with clusters of flowers that make huge spheres on top of them. I’d probably uproot them if I could just muster the courage to even poke at them. I feel like they’re those things where if you touched them where/when they didn’t want to be touched, the monstrous thing would just start growing toward unworldly heights just to spite you. Those things. Stuff nightmares are made of.

First, my problem was fixed by my dad, as always. Somebody may have been typing the wifi password wrong and that somebody might have a name that starts with a V and ends with an -alerie.

Ignoring my obvious shortcomings, one miiiiight be interested to know I’ve been tending the compost garden rather religiously the past week or so, ever since I suddenly remembered it sitting there in the furthest corner of the backyard. My mother started it over a year ago with scraps from the dinners she made, and it only really came to our attention when some strange melons and pumpkins started growing out of (what previously was) nowhere. Right now, that little patch boasts some tomatoes, green beans, and “green onions,” which we forgot to pick while they were small and edible, so they’ve since become abnormally large, flowering plants. They’re actually my least favorite and kind of freak me out whenever I’m churning the soil — proportionally too big and belittling! You can see them in the photograph very clearly… they’re the very large, grass-like plants with clusters of flowers that make huge spheres on top of them. I’d probably uproot them if I could just muster the courage to even poke at them. I feel like they’re those things where if you touched them where/when they didn’t want to be touched, the monstrous thing would just start growing toward unworldly heights just to spite you. Those things. Stuff nightmares are made of.

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