another lifetime / light leaks

Happy First Day of Spring! Thank you to all those who have left me subtle or not subtle messages about reading my blog.

Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s an informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we might play in it. Hope looks forward but draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections. It means not fetishizing the perfect that is the enemy of the good, not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not assuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us.
— Rebecca Solnit, Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises
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I accidentally light leaked the roll of film I shot at Big Bear, which was disappointing but also resulted in some intriguing images, like the one above. These were taken with the Leica M2 and 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4 on Fuji C200 (pretty much my go-to film) over the past few weekends. I’m still obsessed with the colors and textures of California, and I sincerely hope that I never get over it. Also, mountains, lakes, and my grandma are basically my top 3 favorite things, so it’s been a good time.

The last 2 weeks in books:

Educated by Tara Westover

It feels like everyone has heard of or read this book by now. It’s one of those memoirs that reads like fiction because growing up in a Mormon fundamentalist household in Idaho probably won’t be too relatable. Westover’s life is incredible, and she writes about it incredibly.

1984 by George Orwell

Slightly ashamed to not have read this book until now. I’m not really going to try to write a review of this book because that seems daunting, but I’ll say that it was unnerving to read because it is disturbingly relevant at times.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

I have so much admiration for Michael Pollan. The way he is able to engage readers in the food/plant world is incredible, and I owe much of my interest in the food industry to the first time I read The Omnivores Dilemma a few years ago. This one was a fascinating history of potatoes, apples, tulips, and marijuana. It’s about plants and food, but it’s ultimately about the symbiosis of life.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I read this after some reviews of Wild by Cheryl Strayed suggested this book. Bryson is amusing, but it felt more like a long, entertaining trip than the epic physical and emotional odyssey that Strayed took. Still worth the read for anyone interested in long-distance backpacking. Oddly motivational.

Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

This book is an imagined conversation between a mother and a teenage son that committed suicide. I think it’s important to know that Li’s child committed suicide, and she wrote this the months following his death. It’s a lot, but it wasn’t depressing. It’s a confrontation of loss and unanswered questions, but it’s also a fascinating discussion of language. Li has such a unique voice.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I don’t think I’ve adequately digested this book yet. I don’t know how to talk about it. There’s so much within it’s pages about family dynamics, regret, racism, trust, afterlife, and the unbreakable bonds of reliance and gratitude. I’m not sure how I feel about the way the characters developed (or didn’t develop), but Ward crafts an unforgettable story.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I was honestly a bit disappointed by this one given how much I’ve heard about it and how many “best of” lists it’s been on. At its core, this book makes you think. There are so many sides to take, so many perspectives to consider, and I love that there are no clear answers. Everything is a little bit of a debate. It’s a complex web of moral ambiguity. Beyond that, I wanted a little bit more out of the characters. Maybe I’m placing unreasonable pressure on Ng, but as a woman of color, I wanted her to make her Asian characters more interesting. I wanted some sort of indication that this wasn’t written by another white author, but she never really got me there. For that, I was disappointed, especially because she does make the effort to Chinese characters. They fell flat. Still, it’s a very well-written book, and definitely worth a read.

Response prompt for you if you’re still reading this:

When was the last time you felt pure happiness (even for a split second), and what triggered that feeling (if anything)?

book updates / emotional rollercoaster

Thank you, Spotify Discover.

Time for a little book update before I forget what I've read.

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

I think this book is a must-read for any 20-something who is confused about their life direction. I fall very neatly into that category. This book won’t solve all of your problems, but it was a much needed reality check for me about what I’m going through and also concrete steps to find a direction. It hasn’t necessarily changed my day-to-day life because I think I’m pretty proactive about learning, but it’s made me think about my fears and how they are potentially becoming detrimental to my development.

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Memoir by the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-American writer. This book is heartbreaking, but I also feel like it was a bit ruined for me because i learned of his sexual misconduct allegations halfway through it. I won’t really comment on it.

Lab Girl by Hope Jehran

Hope Jehran is a geobiologist and geochemist who has done dope research with isotopes (and many other things). The language in which she uses to speak about trees is breathtaking. She also describes one of the most fascinating friendships I have ever read in a memoir. Worth the read, especially if you’re a woman in science.

Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich

I really didn’t like this book. It felt overhyped and overdramatized and the writing sort of made me distrust the author, which isn’t great for a nonfiction book. Pass.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

THIS BOOK IS ADORABLY HEARTBREAKING. Read if you want to read a young love story layered with stories of domestic abuse, body image, and bullying.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

This is about a multiverse situation. I don’t even know what else to say without ruining it…a professor wakes up in a different version of his reality?! Very fascinating and plot-twisty and I basically consumed it in a single day because it is TRIPPY.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Chinese ethnic minorities, adoption, tea. This book basically follows the unfortunate young life of a Akha woman named Li-Yan who is forced to give up her daughter for adoption, and their parallel lives that follow. I really enjoyed this book for many resonant themes and stories. Highly recommend if you love tea culture or if you want fictional insight into the adoptee experience.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

“But home isn't where you land; home is where you launch. You can't pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.” 

A very poignant look at the true messiness of human relationships.

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Just read this. So insightful. So important.

The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett

This book is very long and potentially a bit dated, but anyone with an interest in the history of infectious diseases would love it. That’s what it’s all about. I am scared. We’re all gonna die.

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In other news, finally got my wisdom teeth pulled. The scariest thing is apparently being awake for half an hour after general anesthesia and having normal conversations people with no recollection of it at all. I’m sick of soup and smoothies already but glad to not have jaw pains anymore.

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Finally sent my beloved Leica M2 for a CLA (cleaning, lubrication, adjustment) and shutter curtain replacement. I realized in Hong Kong that there were holes in the shutter and that shutter-speeds beyond 1/250 were completely inaccurate. Super excited to get this back and keep shooting. :)

Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.
— Hope Jehran

inconsequential / 2019 goals?

I suppose there is a question mark after goals because I have no sense of what 2019 brings. I changed my website up for the new year—I’ve had the previous theme for about 3 years now, and decided it was time I refined some of my photo collections and strengthened some aspects of my website (this is still a WIP). I’ve added a “writing” section because writing more is a major goal for 2019. I started by submitting a piece to 35mmc, a film photography blog that I’ve been following for a while now. I think that will be the last definitive “non fiction” type of writing I’ll do for a while—I’m interested in blurring the lines between fiction and reality and experimenting with how hazy those lines can get. I also integrated the Medium post I wrote a few months ago into my website here. I like Medium because it’s accessible for people who would otherwise never go on my website, but it feels much less personal. I changed up some photos from that piece and added a few more.

Back to the topic of goals—reading, as always, is part of my goal list. I attempted to read 40 books in 2018 but only completed 38. This year, I’m aiming for 60. Since New Year’s Day, I’ve read My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki, The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I was trying to do a book a day but that seemed like a path straight to burnout. Here is my tentative list for the year. Leave a comment if there’s anything you think I’d like!

  • Werner Herzog - A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

  • Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

  • Call Them By Their Names: American Crises and Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit

  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  • City of Segregation by Andrea Gibbons

  • Draft No 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

  • Educated by Tara Westover

  • Feel Free by Zadie Smith

  • Florida by Lauren Groff

  • Hold Still by Sally Mann

  • How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

  • My Own Devices: Essays from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love by Dessa

  • On Writing by Stephen King

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser

  • Once and Forever by Kenji Miyazawa

  • Ongoingness: The End of a Diary Sarah Manguso

  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

  • Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger by Soraya Chemaly

  • So Far So Good by Ursula K Le Guin

  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

  • Tell Me How it Ends by Valeria Luiselli

  • Telling True Stories by Misc

  • The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New by Annie Dillard

  • The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change by Gleb Raygorodetsky

  • The Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Andurraqib

  • The Devotion fo Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass

  • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

  • The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

  • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

  • The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

  • The Mirage Factory by Gary Krist

  • The Most Wanted Man in China by Fang Lizhi

  • The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

  • The Once and Future World by JB MacKinnon

  • The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

  • The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

  • The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte

  • The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

  • The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

  • There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry

  • Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

  • Watchmen by Alan Moore

  • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

  • Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovera

  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

  • You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

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Both life and death manifest in every moment of existence. Our human body appears and disappears moment by moment, without cease, and this ceaseless arising and passing away is what we experience as time and being. They are not separate. They are one thing, and in even a fraction of a second, we have the opportunity to choose, and to turn the course of our action either toward the attainment of truth or away from it. Each instant is utterly critical to the whole world.
— Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being