you take me by the heart when you take me by the hand

doel, belgium.
an abandoned ghost town taken over by graffiti artists and a playground for photographers.

doel belgium
 

cristina, thomas, jason, little annabelle and i scaled walls, hopped fences and crawled through cracks
– the second most perfect way to spend a damp, dreary saturday.

doel belgium, cristina munteanu
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium, thomas loder
doel belgium
doel belgium, jason bickley
doel belgium
doel belgium, cristina munteanu
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium, jason bickley
doel belgium, cristina munteanu, thomas loder, jason bickley

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i adore you tristyan lebrun. so much.

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ce-cil-ia, how i can’t wait to fu-feel ya

lux bought out lighting magazine and revamped it into this slick…
it looks and feels almost like a coffee table art book.

lighting magazine
 

i think it happened one afternoon during production of the first [re]issue
when ray asked me to hand-sketch some installation diagrams for him.
and now once a month,
i get to escape my computer screen for a few hours,
blast born ruffians in my headphones and zone out.

i’ll never not get excited seeing work in print, even if it’s just a bunch of doodles. :)

lighting magazine
lighting magazine
 

also, from this photograph,
i discovered the most amazing, abandoned asylum just an hour south in surrey

lighting magazine

and decided i would trick mark into taking me there this bank holiday weekend
for what could possibly be the most awesome picture taking adventure,
only to be heartbroken when i discovered the building was demolished last year. :(
 

currently listening to:
been singing the same song for months.


 

park saturday

it’s finally starting to feel like spring in london.
had planned on going to st. james to see the daffodils,
but decided on hyde instead so henri could chase his squirrels.

hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london

i can’t believe my saturday afternoon was determined by a funny little animal with a stupid haircut.

edges are beaten drift wood, whittled down

sometimes i’m caught off guard when i see a picture of myself
because how i look in my head vs. reality doesn’t always match up.

i wonder what it’ll be like when i’m 80, standing in front of a mirror
and an old lady is staring back at me.

veanne cao

ps. i’m wearing a tube top.

semblance

dad joined the south vietnam army at eighteen
to be with his friends.

several years ago,
mom told me a story of their late evening in the trenches
smoking opium, playing cards
when a bomb explosion obliterated the foxhole.
gory details are superfluous,
but because of where dad was positioned,
he was the only survivor.

so when i meet uncles – chú, bác, ông – once were soldiers,
i inadvertently feel a connection towards them,
as if they were dad’s comrades, dad.

i have a 20-hour flight back to saigon today.

*my apologies. dad wanted me to make a correction on this post.
he was not smoking opium that night with them, “just cigarettes. don’t make me look bad!”

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inchoate

first draft of screenplay done.
in pre-production, jack and i are shooting a movie this summer.

screen test.
casting is my least favourite part of the process, but i love how mark looks on camera, love his nuances.

mark wainwright
 

currently listening to:
snagged from mark’s spotify playlist.

grass stains on my knees for you, holes in my new jeans for you.


 

i took that picture :D

diamond rugs

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happy birthday to me.

my friends are scattered around the world,
but i found a way for twenty of us to do something together for my birthday this year.

view from terrace

made a proper cup of tea, as one does when one arrives home to an apathetic london.

east putney, london

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vietnam

sàigòn.
5am street corners on little red plastic stools with dad and his childhood friend.
i miss these mornings, dearly.


 

aunt chau and uncle phuong’s,
where i spent summer 2007 scriptwriting in afternoon thunderstorms.



 

i was introduced to relatives i’ve never met, including uncle thanh, on the left.


who regaled me with war tales of when grandpa moved the entire family of a hundred into one home
to keep everyone safe and united.
(mom said this number was grossly exaggerated, but i’d like to believe him anyway.)
 

iPhone timelapse on tristyan’s motorbike.
nose, cheek pressed against his back, swerving through districts, perfectly intoxicated.

vũng tàu.



 

i had originally planned to add a lot more pictures with weeks of stories,
but ever since i met tristyan, my enthusiasm for blogging has waned
because i’ve been sharing my narratives with him.

but i will say, i see my parents about once a year
and every time i see them, they get a little bit more tranquil, a little bit more eccentric.

with this trip, i was reminded of how hilariously funny they are,
how sweet and affectionate they are to me, to each other.
and there was a sadness, a heartache, a longing to move back to california
when they saw me off at the airport.
 

currently listening to:
the recording is rubbish and the camera guy has the sniffles,
but i was so obsessed with his performance that i had this on repeat my entire trip back to saigon.

mùa thu cho em – tiến nguyễn

translation here.

thailand

good morning bangkok.





 

we left civilisation for an island called pattaya.



 

i hate durian. it smells like old man farts and tastes like old man feet.


 
and then we went to thonburi. lady boys, sheep farms, blah blah blah.

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somewhere across the indian ocean

i woke up to a red sunrise,
and a heavy heart.

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every year, he gets a steak.

happy 6th birthday little dude.

henri malshi
henri malshi
henri malshi
 

my favourite sound in the world – it’s a tie between his snoring
and this little ah yep, i am perfectly content noise he makes with his mouth
whenever i kiss his head and tell him,
“you are the most handsome dog in the whole world.”

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same things i always say, same promises i make

been feeling homesick. not sure what home is though.

hung out with thomas in paris this weekend
since he’s the closest thing to home right now.

thomas loder
(another californian expat living in what seems the same, but is a whole world of difference europe.)
 

i really like this picture he took of me.

veanne cao
paris ferris wheel
 

iphone pictures (because the DSLR is cumbersome):

montmartre paris
veanne cao
paris metro

 

currently listening to:
i hella love thomas.
not in the omg i want to have your babies kind of way,
but in the homie/mad respect kind of way because a few weeks ago
he brought tribe, redman and outkast into our old school hiphop collaborative mix.
 

 

this is how we chill from 93 til ∞

lora and i went to scandinavia to chase aurora borealis,
but our attempts were thwarted by snow.
disappointed, but we made the most of our trip.

9AM. good morning oslo, i’ve written you a haiku.
“winter in norway”
daylight is fleeting
your men are just, beautiful
i can’t feel my toes.

oslo sunrise
 

the norsk folkemuseum.
we were transported back to various eras in time, all within one little town.

norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
 

4pm. and just like that, there goes our five hours of daylight.

norsk folkemuseum
 

scandinavian winters aren’t so bad when the hotel bristol has the best hot chocolate
and you’re in good company. eystein, my favourite viking.



 

we went to the munch museum to see the scream,
but it was this piece (visjon) that resonated with me most.

munch visjon
 

göteborg, sweden.

göteborg, sweden

göteborg, sweden
göteborg, sweden
this last one reminds me of “let the right one in.”
 

eystein and i kickstarted 2015 with a snow walk in frognerparken.
“a great little adventure” he says, but i was left with a dear little memory.


 

although this is our first trip together, lora has proven to be an awesome travel mate.
considerate, chill and hilariously fun, funny.
NYE at the stratos.

walking down random alleyways in other countries, part 7.
except that we couldn’t find an alleyway and running in snow makes me happy.

veanne cao

this year i resolve to… be kind, work hard, create.
and perhaps my life will fall into place as it should.
 

currently listening to:
when the dj dropped this club rmx of california dreaming at the NYE party,
lora reminded me that no matter where i am, where i go,
i will always be a california girl.


 

a simple gift exchange

i gave thomas a ukulele cover of give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
and he gave me this.

i believe those two buildings encapsulate daydreams of bruges,
“but what’s that on your head?”
… “a curly hair.”

:)

玫瑰 玫瑰, 我愛你

growing up in los angeles,
my grandmother used to have a rose garden.
i specifically remember these two rose bushes on the side of the house that looked particularly like trees without thorns.

over the summer, i scoured the garden centre looking for them
only to discover they weren’t rose bushes.

the buds remained intact throughout the months until yesterday,
but just one bloomed.

camellia flower
camellia flower

not sure what it is about the holidays that turn me into a complete sap,
but i miss grandma. it’s through her and grandpa that i learned how love should be
and the family i strive to build one day.
 

currently listening to:
joanna wang did a sweet cover of a song that grandma used to sing.


 

company retreat in yorkshire

assessments, team building tasks,
a warm, drunken evening of carbs and charade rounds dominated by war film titles
and then this. (the answer was actually sex in the city.)

if you put me in a crowded room and asked me to socialise,
my heart would sink of uneasiness.
replace socialising with a goal-related activity,
hell yes.

scavenger hunt in the very epic yorkshire dales.



 

which was (proudly pointed out by our driver) a film location for harry potter and the deathly hallows.


up the mountain, around the lake, through a marsh, skip, hop, stroll, run.
 

view from my room, via iPhone.

will be spending christmas by myself for the first time ever.
ordered an arduino powered robot kit from china.
i hope it arrives in time,
otherwise it will be a very grey week in london.

currently listening to:
love this track,
but i’ll be damned if it ever becomes my anthem.


 

simultaneously juggling three happy thoughts in my head

2.5 hours en train to spend thanksgiving with linh in paris.
european cities are all starting to look the same.

paris, france
 

but there’s something special about paris.
special things always happen whenever i’m here.

la seine
l'amour est mort

 

i must have really charmed that man with my vietnamese at the banh mi shop
because as we were leaving, he gave us these.


(we decided linh was on the left because there’s a foot in it and she has bunions.
i’m on the right because it’s got a lazy eye like mine.)
 

linh

found us a charming little restaurant hidden in monmartre.
i made her laugh so hard that she snorted. she snorted so hard that i laughed so hard that i cried. happy thanksgiving!


 

5am in le marais, in the gutter, intoxicated, staring at the stars,
she asked me what my favourite moment of the trip was

and it wasn’t until now
that i realise i was happiest in that moment with her,
recollecting every fleeting pause and feeling a sense of… liberation? peace?
i don’t know, but i finally felt it after a tumultuous year in london.
my only regret was not being able to meet thomas that friday evening.

currently listening to:
je ne veux pas travailler, je ne veux pas déjeuner, je veux seulement l’oublier


 

deepboxing

found this video i made of deep freestylin’ when we were hanging out in the east village last year.
i miss having a stoop. i miss new york.

rome, italy

the pope gave me his holy blessing with a press accreditation to shoot the sistine chapel.
so here i am.

piazza navona
rome, italy
colosseum, rome italy
sistine chapel
 

it’s a strange feeling, spending your entire life seeing the ubiquitous creation of adam on posters, mugs, beach towels..
and then you tilt your head back and it’s like,

sistine chapel
 

oh hey! i know you guys.

sistine chapel
sistine chapel
 

the italian press are vultures with behemoth betacams
swinging about, knocking out whatever/whoever gets in their way of getting the shot,
including yours truly, all 5’4″, now covered in battle scars from the evening.

italian press
 

anachronistic gatwick

south terminal.

gatwick south terminal

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short holiday

prague, land of fairy tale castles (and ornery geriatrics).



 

elaine, auntie and i have similar travel habits.
we wander, we eat, eating our way through the city.

the best trdelník is at this little side shop called “old traditional goodes” on a little road called karvola.


(that’s elaine, not me.)



 

we took a train to the sedlec ossuary (the bone church), but it felt macabre posting pictures from there.
ethan is going to be such a heartbreaker when he grows up.


 

walking down random alleyways in other countries, part 6.