Friday 5: Over Under Sideways Down

A portion of Gyeongbukgung palace reflected in the water on a sunny autumn day.

What are you so over?

Our collective disdain for things we (rightly or wrongly) associate with young women: selfies, pumpkin spice, duck face, vocal fry…

 

What’s something you’ve got under wraps?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be under wraps any more!

 

What does it take to get you sideways, and what’s your preferred method?

There’s a Dave Barry joke about how it’s a universal truth that everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, or age, believes that they’re an above-average driver. I’d suggest that it’s the same with alcohol tolerance. That said, my experience seems to indicate I’m more or less justified in said belief about myself. So if I’m going to get sauced (which doesn’t happen too often now that I’m a professional adult and such), I head straight for the Long Island iced teas.

 

What’s coming down the pike?

Work, mostly. New-job work and some potential favors-for-friends work.

 

What’s the last thing you read directions for?

I went to Oriental Supermarket with my sambo the other week to pick up yujacha in advance of winter. No yujacha to be found, but I found some “make at home” ddeokbokki sauce and the appropriate ddeok and followed the cooking instructions to the T.

Worth it.

Friday 5: “Nine times?” “Nine times!”

If you were to play hooky on your next regular work day with no negative consequences, and if you could only spend the day by yourself, what out-of-the-house fun activities would you pursue?

Honestly? I think I’d park myself at a bar that opened at lunch, order some snacks and a stor stark, and catch up on reading while WhatsApping absent friends. Maybe go to one of the many, many museums in Stockholm that I haven’t been to yet.

 

In the same situation, what stay-home fun activities would you pursue?

Same as above, but change out the stor stark for a whisky.

 

If you played hooky specifically because someone else needed the time off, who in your life would be your accomplice and what would be first on the agenda?

This is a tough one because anyone in my life who needs the time off is on another continent. The first item on the agenda, though, would be a quality fika of some variety or another. Start the day off with caffeine, sugar, and good conversation!

 

When did you last visit a museum, and what item on exhibit impressed you?

I visited the Army Museum and the Nobel Museum during Kulturnatt earlier this year. No particular item really had the same effect on me that “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” has on Cameron, but I appreciated the Army Museum’s exhibit on wartime literature. (I also took the moment in the Nobel Museum to complain about Kazuo Ishiguru and Never Let Me Go but that’s my own private beef.)

If I’m allowed to go back to much earlier museum visits, one of my favorite pieces is “Love and Friendship (The Sacrifice of the Arrows of Love on the Altar of Friendship),” in my beloved Philadelphia Art Museum.

I think it outclasses any other work of art anyone’s ever attempted to make to grapple with unrequited romantic feelings for a close friend.

The other is one from the Art Institute of Chicago (the same museum Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron visit in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, weirdly enough).  “Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida.”

A dark, dreamy oil painting of an aging woman in her boudoir, looking into a handheld mirror and powdering her face.

What’s something you’ve recently gotten away with?

When the green lines went down from a power outage back in September, I didn’t bother blipping my card on the (very, very full) bus ride home. To be fair, since I have a monthly card, that’s not really “getting away” with anything; it’s not like I saved a fare or any money!

Friday 5: Stay and Let Me Look at You

Nothing like tackling some Friday 5 questions about September in November!

Image courtesy Chris Lawton

(Earth, Wind & Fire) Why are you dancing in September?

My last month of freelance life before buckling down for the nine-to-five.

 

(Neil Diamond) September morning still can make you feel what way?

Cozy. Refreshed. After a million years I’m still so entrenched in the academic school calendar that September and autumn feel like a new year.

 

(Green Day) What are some things you have to endure until September ends?

Again: my last month of freelance life before buckling down for the nine-to-five.

 

(Kool & the Gang) What place or thing is your September love?

It’s now the right season to switch from the fruity teas to the spicy teas. So much chai!

 

(Willie Nelson) What is your September song for the rest of the month?

I still haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians but I’ve long been a fan of Awkwafina so I love this cover:

Tiny Moments of Joy: Say Sue Me at Landet

I thought I’d share a little peek behind the curtain today: what, exactly, do I do in my free time? When I’m not helping to organize the Stockholm Writing Group, Stockholm NaNoWriMo, or reading? Once in a while I go and partake in culture, like Busan-based surf rock group Say Sue Me.

Say Sue Me performing to a packed room at Landet Restaurang in Stockholm, 2018.

I took this photo during their encore, “Let’s Don’t Say Anything.” I don’t have any other pictures from the night, because I’m short and because I’d rather spend a concert listening to the experience rather than trying to document it.

Life is hard. I’ll take what tiny moments of joy I can get.

Friday 5: The Whole Trial is Out of Order!

What’s something in which you took first place?

God, not really much of anything. I used to joke that when I was a rich and successful adult I’d go back to my high school and set up the Katherine Koba Second Banana Prize Scholarship: for a student who hadn’t won any other award but still participated in a bunch of extra curriculars and did pretty well in almost all their classes. I’m not successful enough yet to be able to do so, but maybe one day!

What’s something at which you’d like a second chance?

I should have been less lazy about my musical studies. Not that I’m not well suited for the work I do now; I’d just like to be more competent at that particular hobby.

When did you last feel like a third wheel?

I suppose another friend and I were a collective third wheel during our Kulturnatt outing back in the spring, but that lasted all of maybe ten minutes before we peaced out and did our own thing.

What’s to look forward to in the fourth quarter of 2018?

My new job! Though by the time this goes up I’ll have been at it for a month.

Who had an especially good fifth film, fifth book, or fifth album?

Does anyone keep track of things up until the fifth? Wish You Were Here is a pretty good album, I suppose.

Den mörka portalen and NaNoWriMo

My Saturday was extremely literary! A member of one of my critique groups has, after years of hard work, self published the first novel in a planned trilogy. The release party was at noon at Marabouparken, and I stopped by to give my congratulations and enjoy a little bubbly to celebrate Den mörka portalen. It is surprisingly heart-warming and gratifying to see yourself appear multiple times in the author’s thanks.

Shot of the author's thanks (in Swedish)

Once under my own name, once as “Stockholm Writing Group” (the writing Meetup I organize), and (if I’m feeling generous) even a third time as a fellow redkatör and korrekturläsare, though I work in English and not in Swedish. Still, editor solidarity!nan

The venue was also lovely. When your park is named after one of the most famous candy companies in Sweden, it sets certain expectations (see: Hershey Park in the US), but it was actually quite understated. Dare I say…high brow, even?

A slate walkway and some statuary at Marabouparken on a rainy, overcast day.

As it turns out, Marabou no longer owns the property. It’s a bit of a misnomer.

After that I was off to help plan this year’s NaNoWriMo. Have you signed up yet? You should! And if you’re in Stockholm, you should come to the kickoff! We’ll have fika and pep and writing activities to get you all fired up for November. And, of course, my lovely face. Can’t wait to see you there!

Friday 5: Just Wing It

What’s something for which you are waiting your tern?

I’m not waiting my turn, as such, but we have some new purchases we need to make for a newer, bigger apartment, but you can’t just get everything at once!

What have you lately gone cuckoo for?

I’m incredibly excited to go thrifting for things we need for the new apartment!

What’s got you feeling down?

As of this writing, I’m incredibly nervous about elections in Sweden (and in the US). By the time this post goes up, I’ll either be slightly relieved or even more anxious. We’ll see how the Swedish elections go. (Or how they’ve gone, I guess.)

What’s something you acquired that was unexpectedly cheep?

We picked up a new-to-us LG TV for a third of the price a similar one would have been new, including door step delivery! Again: the power of thrift shopping.

What’s that fowl smell?

I should probably take out the recycling…

National Novel Writing Month 2018: Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard

I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo” from here on) every year since 2008. Granted, some years my participation has been better than others. And for the last few years I’ve certainly played fast and loose with the rules, such as they are (i.e. 50,000 new words of writing over the course of November). For 2015, 2016, and 2017 I spent NaNoWriMo revising the rough draft I wrote in 2014. This year I’m drifting even further from the standard and using the time to tackle a (for-funsies) translation project I should have finished ages ago but didn’t.

Some people juggle multiple projects at once; I tend to work one at a time. And while I do want to get that 2014 NaNoWriMo project done and dusted so I can move on to other writing, this translation project has drifted high enough in my priority queue that it’ll be easier to work on my fiction backlog once I get this translation thing out of the way. (Am I being fussy? Maybe.) For me, NaNoWriMo has become less and less about doing the actual thing of NaNo and more about harnessing a collective mania and drive to get my own creative endeavors done. Three months out of the year (if you include Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July) is a pretty hefty chunk of creative time, especially when you’re holding down other full-time work!

As usual, during NaNoWriMo the Stockholm Writing Group Meetup will be a weekly two-hour chunk of writing time you can count on, every Thursday from 6 to 8 PM. We have our own classroom in ABF, a great alternative for when cafes are too noisy and distracting. This week and next I’ll be helping people sign up on the site, answering questions, and providing some writing prompts to help you get you hyped up for your project. Join me, won’t you?

Friday 5: Lyrical Gangsta

A Caucasian hand holding a small sheet of paper with a typewritten poem.
Photo by Sarah Brink on Unsplash

What’s a stupid lyric from a song you like?

“Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus above the Serengeti” is one of the worst lyrics ever committed to record and yet it doesn’t ruin the song.

What’s a pretty good lyric from a song you dislike?

I refuse to give any song I dislike the satisfaction!

What’s a good non-Weird-Al-Yankovic lyric about food and drink?

“Alcohol” by Barenaked Ladies is a perennial favorite of mine.

What’s a good song lyric to describe your week?

I’m writing this entry far ahead of time, so I’ll have to do a bit of prognosticating here:

Sometimes I think sitting on trains
Every stop I get to I’m clocking that game.
Everyone’s a winner, now, we’re making that fame.
Bona fide hustler, making my name.

What’s a good song lyric about inclement weather?

I mean, it’s not the greatest lyric ever, but “thunder bolts and lightning / very, very frightening” deserves a mention. I guess the actual lyric about weather for its own sake I like best is from “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”:

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing.
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’.
When afternoon came, it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck,
Saying, “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya.”
At seven PM, a main hatchway caved in.
He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.”