30 March 2011

an email plus a voicemail

is42it was sharp.

is43-smallthen it was blurry.

darkand now it’s black.

the heart is saying yes and no.

the mind is saying yes and no.

this is the problem when you find stability and comfort in a place you love with people you love, you start having doubts.

but the one who makes the final decision is you.


(actually you already know what your final answer is. but that’s the hardest part, knowing, and still continuing.)

29 March 2011

from one walled city to another

is13-smallyou start your day in jaffa. a walled city. a heavy city. also, a city a bit too clean.

is14-smallalso possibly one of the oldest port cities still around.

calm, you think? enjoy it, because it isn’t lasting long.

is12-smallthe storm rolls in and you quickly start the hunt for shelter.

the next day, you move on to another walled city.

is15-smallyou take the bus and arrive at…. jerusalem. an even heavier city. the rain is still there. slightly.

however, you can actually say goodbye. it is the last time you’ll see rain because from here on out it is nothing but beau beau beau.

is16-smallas you make your way inside the old city, the blue sky reveals itself – perfect for the wish you leave in a crack on the western wall.

you continue with the normal touristy things.

is17-smallthen you let loose in the alleys and passageways. every turn and every step brings you to a new surprise. and you are never sure which of the four quarters you’ll wander into: jewish, christian, muslim, or armenian?

the transition between each neighborhood is something you can’t get enough of.

is18-smallit can be hard to find a quiet spot in a place with heavy traffic – but you do manage.

is19-smallthen you step outside the city walls.

is20-smalland marvel.

is21-smallafterwards you climb the walls and find yourself on top of the old city. there’s a sunset about to happen and you’re determined to find a spot to watch it from.

is22-smallgoing indoors doesn’t help. but you do discover blurs you like.

is23-smallthe sunset arrives. but you’re foiled again by buildings and trees. quite a common issue in your life.

good thing sunsets happen every day – which means once every twenty-four hours, you have a brand new chance to find the perfect spot.

28 March 2011


is01-smalla dangerous thing happens when solitude finds you.

when you are looking for solitude – that is one thing.

but when it comes after you, and you don’t want it…

you reflect. too much. and.

you end up on google maps. and then kayak.com. and then skyscanner.net. and then, suddenly, on a cold december night…

plane or train tickets confirmations for february appear in your inbox. but without much of the reflection that spurred you to do it.

is02-smalland so this is how you end up with a layover in greece, because you forgot that 3:15 does not mean 3:15 PM, it means 3:15 AM.

but that’s completely okay – you’ve got an entire night to explore athens.

is03-smallbut that quick glimpse is quickly blocked – by a rain storm. a real storm, not the light stuff that you’ve gotten used to in normandie.

the camera retreats.

is04-smalland when you finally arrive, it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the brightness. to the sun.

is05-smalland the smell. the smell of lemon trees.

here you are, in tel-aviv. in israel.

you begin your day like any start in a new country: walking with no plan to just soak in everything.

is07-smallas you walk through a closed market because it’s the sabbath, you wonder what you’re doing here. why israel? the same question that has been asked multiple times by different people before you left.

and you realize, even you aren’t sure why.

but you go ahead and give the first layer response – oh, to travel, to see new things, to meet new people, to try new foods, to experience a new culture, to visit the middle east… the easy answer. which reveals nothing as it can be applied anywhere.

but you do tack on a practical aspect: with an american passport, you don’t have to deal with applications, embassies, or visas. you’re also low on passport space, and this will allow you to visit non-israel friendly countries in your next passport.

is06-smallthen you see this house. and you stop. thinking, walking.

it doesn’t matter if you hate it or like it – your eyes are roaming left to right, top to bottom, just noticing all the small details.

apparently it’s called “the crazy house” and google is much more informative. but you do learn one thing – it’s inspired by the parisian metro entrances.

everything is linked together, isn’t it?

is08-smallonce you’re done staring at the crazy house, you find yourself next to some rocks. and you can’t help but think about your favorite rock climbers.

is11a-smallas you continue wondering about why you’re here. the second layer response would be… history. living history. with your american background, you have a skewed perspective in regards to the conflict.

it’s nothing personal. but because the american media has a habit of linking certain positive words with one side and certain negative words with another, you’re just used to having a more cheerful reaction to one and a more fearful reaction to the other.

and what is curious is that living in france, you find that it’s the opposite.

besides, things just make more sense when you can link it to your own experiences. experiences a textbook, a lecturer, or a television will never be able to give you.

is09-smalloh wait, you did have a goal for today’s walk. to see the sea.

then comes the third layer response.

you wanted to make sure that you, an american with taiwanese origins living in a french dream, could handle a week in the middle east cold turkey.

no semester long course at university where you eagerly await the youtube videos your professor would play at the beginning of each class.

no patisseries or boulangeries to make you dream about puff pastries and apple tarts and chocolate eclairs.

no famous singers, famous movies, famous monuments that seduce you the way france did.

it’s important to you that you can visit a place that you have little connection to and still be capable of loving it.

is10-smallyou were deep in love with france months before you finally stepped foot on french soil.

the future isn’t set – in fact it is rather blurry – but israel is the perfect place for a test run for perhaps wherever you are headed next.

_MG_0093the fourth layer response is one you didn’t dare say to the frenchies. in fact, you needed a break from france. the reason why is that because you’re so happy there, it tends to cloud your judgment about the future. when you’re in france, you want nothing more than to stay in france.

but you’ve got projects. projects that don’t involve france. projects you want to complete. and france tempts you to abandon them. however, once all that is done, you’ll figure out how to weave her back into your life.

is11-smallthen comes the fifth layer response. the deepest one.

you’re searching for something. but you aren’t sure what. you can’t seem to attach words to what you’re looking for. but your eyes – and your heart – are wide open.

_MG_0090sometimes, one doesn’t realize why one travels to a certain location until one is physically there. all these different reasons made sense to you once you stepped off that plane from france and greece.

in fact, the more lost you are – when you don’t know the culture, the language, the people, the food, the landscape, the religion… the easier it is to find yourself.

26 March 2011

la pissaladière d’émilie

fri01a life without pajama days would not be much of a life.

not too many – but every now and then it is nice to wake up and have no reason to change into regular clothing.

so with a friday completely free, you decide to tackle some projects in your backlog of things to do. starting with a pissaladière.

fri01ba pissaladière? you’ve actually never heard of this either. but someone named émilie, someone you don’t know, emailed you the recipe more than a year ago. october 2009 to be exact. it’s now 2011, and how could you have forgotten to make her recipe? so on your pajama day, you bring out the onions, anchovies, and olives.

in short, a pissaladière is essentially a pizza… without cheese and without tomato sauce. from the south of france.

fri02first you will need to peel and slice onions. lots of them. get ready to wipe away those tears. caramelize them for about an hour over low heat. puree your anchovies over low heat as well, but definitely not for a whole hour. make your pizza dough and let it rest. then you just assemble them in layers.

fri03 roll out the dough.

spread the anchovy paste.

top with onions.

add olives.


fri04and eat.

you’re again reminded about how regional everything is in france, because when you ask your friends in normandy if they’ve ever tasted a pissaladière, all of them respond with a giant blank face. ? quoi? j’en connais pas, désolée.

emilie’s mother’s pissaladière, roughly translated

the dough
380 grams all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
15g buckwheat starter (? i couldn't find this so i used instant yeast and then 15g of buckwheat flour)
2 tbs olive oil
250 ml milk, room temperature

-mix the dry ingredients together, add the olive oil, and then the milk. use a food processor if you have one, but by hand works as well. let it rest, covered, for about an hour.

the onion topping
20 anchovy filets (save a few whole ones for decoration)
2.5 kg onions (i actually cut this down a lot. perhaps only 1 kg for me - i basically could only use an amount that would fit in my skillet. but then i also froze the leftover pizza dough.)
olive oil
black olives (to decorate)

-over low heat, heat the anchovies until you end up with an anchovy puree. set aside.
-peel and finely slice the onions.
-over low heat, slowly cook and caramelize the onions with the olive oil and a little bit of salt, but not too much as the anchovies are already salty. you should have another thick puree.

roll out the dough
cover with the anchovy puree
add the onions
then place the olives wherever you’d like. and even some whole anchovies for decoration if you remembered to save a few (i didn’)

bake in a 210C/410F oven for about 15-20 minutes

vachebut you don’t stay in your pajamas the whole day. once you’re finished with the pissaladière, you change, hop on your bike, and enjoy the signs of spring.

some bonus vocabulary:

vendredi / friday
vache / cow
vélo / bike
voie verte / literally "green lane,” any path or road dedicated to non-motorized vehicles only
vingt degrés / twenty degrees C, which is 68 F
vent / wind

25 March 2011

literary self-portraits #1 & #2


literary self-portrait #1: conflicts
man vs. nature
man vs. man
man vs. society
man vs. self

autoportrait littéraire #1: les conflits
l'homme contre la nature
l'homme contre l'homme
l'homme contre la société
l'homme contre lui-même

it all began in israel. or perhaps even the night before in paris. you did a lot of thinking. a lot of searching. and even though you were surrounded by lots of people, it was still your future and your thoughts and your ideas your plans and your emotions and your worries. so it was you vs. you.

then came the gironde. back in france, but lost in the marshlands. and there was a moment where it was you, paralyzed, because there was a horse galloping directly at you with no intentions of stopping. and that was you vs. nature.

that’s when you realize how conflicts in literature are nothing more than conflicts in life. and you wanted nothing more than to turn the ideas in your head into photo strips.



literary self-portrait #2: deus ex machina

autoportrait littéraire #2: deus ex machina

you’ve always loved the idea of deus ex machina. it’s just too easy. all problems, all worries, all fears, all erased.

if only all problems could magically resolve themselves – but would the world really be a better place? and would anybody be truly happy? you’re not so sure.

the ingredients:

  • you (of course)
  • a notebook full of ideas.
  • a pocket full of .50€, 1€, and 2€ coins.
  • an assistant who doesn’t mind and doesn’t question you when you send her a text at the last moment that says “bonjour! je suis à paris, est-ce qu'’on peut se retrouver à iéna après le boulot si tu as le temps…? bise! ps j’ai des cookies fait maison pour toi.[hello! i’m in paris. can we meet up at iéna after work if you have time? kisses! ps i’ve got homemade cookies for you.]
  • a city full of old film photo booths. paris. or austin. this project is definitely not limited to just one continent


as usual, nothing is ever set in stone. you’ve got ideas, sure, but what you really like is seeing how they grow and change as you continue. you never limit yourself to the initial plan. this is the beginning – but you aren’t sure how it will end.

24 March 2011

three types of images

you’ve decided that there are lately only three types of images are important to you.

images that show. images that share. and images that take.

emphasis on lately. and emphasis on the word image instead of photo. you’ve been reading la solitude heureuse du voyageur and notes by raymond depardon and his words are making you rethink lots of ideas.

nuitblanche show – what everybody starts with. you push a button, you have a photo, and it’s finished. you show people an object, what you were doing, where you were, who you were with, etc. but unless the viewer is somehow related to the photo, they will just glance, move on, and forget. because unless you were there and know the people, it just isn’t that memorable.

croispas share – images that give a bit. an experience. an idea. these give something to the viewer. and these are the images you put on your online journal, as you like the idea of how everybody else can also enjoy the moments in your life even if they aren’t part of it.

filmmmmmmmm take – these are images that begin in your head. with an idea. and they take complete control of you and your thoughts until you create them. you toss, you turn – all you want is to make what you’re thinking and see it in your hands.

and that is the story of you arrived at your second project. a series of self-portraits.

but not just any self-portraits.

literary self-portraits.

it all began you realized that themes in literature are nothing more than themes in life. specifically, your life.

inside film photo booths, with about thirty seconds for each strip and four square frames, you will explore all sorts of literary devices. your notebook is full of ideas. so far you’ve made two of the four you’ve jotted down. but you know there are tons more to come as each photo strip you make inspires you in new ways.

plus – it’s no coincidence that there is a photo booth located 5 minutes walking distance from your train station in paris, is there?

imageeditinga bonus image: even while editing photos you find some unrelated inspiration. the patterns that your photos make when they are in cascading layers.

20 March 2011

impossible –> possible

pola02 this weekend.

the impossible became possible.

pola01and now you realize why you found the playing card with the eight of hearts.

because one impossible package equals eight pieces of film.

eight moments. eight imperfections. eight things you love instantly.

and after making four of them, you realized that your original intention for them isn’t what you expected.

but that’s okay because you’ve got a new idea of what to do with them.

so. this makes project number three.

the other projects – one is in the works, two is in your head.

you’ll write about them once they’re more concrete.

18 March 2011

petits pas, grands pas

rock01don’t be fooled. it was nice for only a moment that second weekend in february.

rock02but a moment is still a moment. take it or leave it. there was enough sun for everyone to do a little bit of climbing on the cliffs along the seine river.

rock03before the famous normandy rain clouds took their rightful place in the sky.

rock04as you’re walking up and down the trails around the cliffs, you realize you’re always lagging behind the others because you take petits pas. or, small steps.

when you take grands pas, or big steps, you tend to always glisse. slip. which is your biggest fear outdoors. tumbling. and perhaps in life as well.

but you also lose your footing with the petits pas as well. falling is your signature. so it is a lose-lose situation.

however it is actually a win-win situation because you always get back up.

rock05then you start wondering about your choices in life. to do small things, or to do big things? to have small goals, or big goals? what is more effective? is it the small things or the big things that force change? that makes things better? personally and globally you start pondering.

rock06but enough thinking.

rock07it’s time to sleep.

here. yes, here.

dans les grottes. in the caves.

you don’t quite believe it either.

rock08 the next morning - your favorite show. the one that is always there. the sunrise.

rock09you might have slept rather uncomfortably. but it was worth it for the show you’re about to see.

rock10everybody’s eyes are locked toward the east.

rock12except some friends miss out because they’re still sleeping.

or rather, trying to sleep.

rock11because you’re pretty sure no one could possibly sleep with your early morning laughter at your friends’ early morning silliness.


but it’s when you turn around that you discover your new unexpected favorite combination.

rock13white normandy limestone + pink and orange glow of sunrise = instant love.

rock14what was white yesterday. bright white. suddenly became a chameleon and took on the exact same colors of the sunrise. so in fact, you got two different sunrises while standing in the same spot.

rock15you turn back around and watch the real thing.

rock16as usual, it never lasts long.

rock17everything goes back to their normal daytime hue. sans glow.

rock18the fog sets in.

rock19and it’s as if that sunrise never happened.