Friday 5: What Ails Ya

How do you treat a bad case of the Mondays?

When you’re a freelance tutor, you don’t really get “the Mondays.” People often have the most forgiving schedules on weekends, so that’s when the bulk of your tutoring happens. Couple that with spending the work week on editing and other work-related tasks, the answer is that I don’t get “the Mondays” because I don’t have Mondays or weekends. My downtime comes in small chunks throughout the week and then periodically in longer breaks for vacations.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

How do you fight off a case of the blahs?

I check in with what I’m doing. Usually I feel the most “blah” when I’m sitting at the computer and compulsively checking social media just for the sake of checking it. If I can stop that cycle and do something else (write, read, listen to a podcast while I play Diablo III), I usually feel better. I also recognize that I’m more prone to the blahs during the winter months, which I try to counter by lighting the apartment with full-spectrum bulbs and making sure to take a multivitamin with plenty of vitamin D.

The other thing I do is clean. Stuff tends to accumulate around me: papers get piled up, projects I intend to finish “soon, really soon” float around on my desk, things like that. Sometimes I feel “blah” because I’m surrounded by a mountain of unfinished things; when that happens, I take a day to clean up and organize. (The last time I did this, I found a year-old piece of unopened mail from Skatteverket.)

How do you deal with a bad hair day?

Ponytails and dry shampoo.

What’s your strategy for FOMO?

I don’t know if I suffer from a “fear of missing out,” specifically. On bad days I can be a fairly compulsive smartphone user (check Facebook! check Twitter! check your emails!), but for me it isn’t an anxiety about missing out on something cool or exciting. It’s about not knowing: not being able to answer that head-scratcher right away, not knowing what that email from a friend says, etc. I’d say that I have FONK (Fear Of Not Knowing) more than FOMO.

My strategy for FONK is non-existent. I can get sucked up into it really easily. If I notice what I’m doing, I’ll switch out of email or Facebook and read something on the Kindle app instead, but I don’t always notice.

How prone are you to Instagram envy?

Not at all, since I don’t use Instagram!

Friday 5: Consumption

What is your paper towel consumption like?

Not awful, but not ideal. I try to use sponges and tea towels as often as possible in the kitchen, but paper towels have also become our default paper product in the house. No napkins, no tissues: just paper towels.

What condiment do you use most often?

Hm, what counts as a condiment? Do the variety of sauces in squeeze bottles in our fridge count as condiments? Because if we’re talking about just ketchup and mustard, I don’t use either.

What is your sticky note consumption like?

Nonexistent. I never use them.

What’s your coin jar setup?

Sweden is much closer to going cashless than the US, and I go for long stretches without having any cash on me at all. Needless to say, spare change doesn’t really accumulate. When I have some, I usually give it away.

What’s something you’ve purchased recently that was lower in price than usual?

I don’t know about recently, but I picked up some home decor items from Myrorna’s for ultra cheap. I also visited a couple of vintage stores while I was in the US, but the keyword there is “vintage” (i.e. not “thrift”). They didn’t break the bank, but they weren’t a steal, either.

Friday 5 on Saturday: Sandwich or Nah?

Why is or isn’t a hot dog a sandwich?

Oh, this controversy! This is one that I actually watched unfold, to an extent, because even Merriam-Webster weighed in on it.

I don’t even care about hot dogs and their status as a sandwich; I just want to say that Merriam-Webster is a ray of light in these dark, confusing times. I’m glad I follow them on Twitter.

Why is or isn’t a hamburger a sandwich?

I would say so. Maybe it’s a question of the orientation of the bread that throws people off.  Hamburgers have proper bread orientation to be a sandwich; hot dogs don’t.

Why is or isn’t a wrap a sandwich?

I say it is, for the same bread orientation reasons outlined above.

Why are or aren’t Oreos and ice cream sandwiches sandwiches?

They’re sandwich cookies, but they’re not sandwiches. There’s no bread! They could never be a reasonably filling and healthy meal!

Why does or doesn’t listening to an audio book count as reading the book?

Photo of books from NinoAndonis on
Image from NinoAndonis on

Now here’s the really juicy question. What is the point of reading a book? Is it to consume the story, or is it to consume the story in a particular way? Is there an advantage to reading? (Like how some studies suggest that readers retain more from paper copies than from ebooks.)

After all, reading or listening doesn’t change the story or the language, for that matter. Not to mention that audiobooks are a godsend for people with visual impairments or dyslexia. Isn’t it better that they hear a story instead of not being able to consume it at all? Didn’t all language and literature start out as oral traditions of storytelling?

And yet, I would still feel like I was cheating, somehow, to say that I had read the audiobook I listened to.

All of this is a moot point anyway, though. I don’t care for audiobooks for reasons unrelated to snobbery. I have a hard time paying attention to purely audio information (same problem I have with a lot of podcasts)  and am incredibly likely to zone out and miss huge chunks of the story without even realizing it. It doesn’t matter how good the narrator is.

Friday 5: Five of Whatever

How tidy are your kitchen cabinets?

I realize now that we don’t really have proper cabinets in our kitchen. We have mostly open shelving and then a few closets. They’re clean, definitely, but tidy? Well, we know where to find everything, and that’s enough, I think.

What’s an art project you did in school that you remember fondly?

The big project in third? fourth? fifth? grade was weaving. That was my favorite out of anything else we ever did, and over twenty years later I still have that project. Weaving is a handicraft I’d like to get back into at some point. I remember it as being very relaxing.

What’s the best thing you ate on your most recent trip?

Oh man! I had so much good food: upscale Italian with my parents and best friend, deep-fried Nutella and fluff, greasy spoon diner breakfasts and lunches, a Rolando’s Super Taco, pirogi, Thai curry…it’s really hard to pick.

What’s the dumbest non-political thing you’ve seen lately?

Photobucket charging its users $40 US per month for the privilege of third-party linking. Um, what?? I never used Photobucket as an image hosting service (or at least, not seriously) so I’m not really angry about it (my images aren’t being held hostage), just confused. How out of touch can you be?

What’s something in your home that’s lasted longer than you expected?

We had a microwave that was definitely older than some of my students. It’s gone now, and we have a replacement, but RIP noble microwave. You served us well.

Friday 5: Homecoming

What’s the crime like in your neighborhood?

Our neighborhood is pretty calm. There was a big fire? Explosion? in a neighborhood business a few years and we never heard if it was an accident or deliberate, but that’s been basically the only thing that’s really ever happened here. Unless you count the obnoxious street racing that goes on late at night.

If you could have attended one of those high schools with a specific academic focus, such as performing arts, studio arts, sustainability, science and technology, international languages and diplomacy, or some option you thought of yourself, which would you have chosen when you were thirteen?

When I was thirteen? Wow, let me dust off my time machine for a moment.

At that point in my life, I was focused primarily on writing and music (though not writing music). There’s a good chance that I would have chosen performing arts.

This is maybe Adult Katherine projecting her current interests back on Teen Katherine, but thirteen is when I first started studying foreign languages. (I started with French that year, and then took French and German throughout my high school career.) I liked French well enough back then that I could probably have been convinced to enroll in an international languages school.

What was memorable about a party you remember from high school?

I didn’t really party during high school. I think I went to one Halloween party and one cast party (since I was in pit orchestra). Oh, and I guess the parties we had to celebrate the end of marching band camp.

Nothing really memorable happened, though. I did surprise one of my marching bandmates with a techno remix of “Ode to Joy” on a mix CD I tossed in the player. I guess I didn’t seem like the techno type.

Which of your older relatives is (or was) the handsomest or prettiest?

This is . . . a weird question? I don’t really have an answer.

What was homecoming like at your high school? How did you feel about it?

We had spirit week full of costume themes and pep rallies (that the marching band often played in, so I was usually stuck participating), the typical American high school experience. I enjoyed marching band, at least in the beginning, for its performative and musical aspects, but I could never get into the ra-ra school spirit attendant to things like homecoming and football games. (I still dressed up for a lot of spirit week, though. I can’t resist the opportunity for a costume.)

I guess there was also a homecoming dance but I think I attended just one of them. I wasn’t really invested in the social aspect around dances, either.

If you couldn’t tell from all of this, I was kind of a nerd in high school. Ten years later, the only thing that’s changed is that I’m not in high school.

Friday 5: In Your Head! In Your Head!

First of all, I’d like the world to know that this song is one of my go-to karaoke songs. I can’t tell you why. It’s certainly not because I can sing a killer rendition or rival Dolores O’Riordan’s vocals. Just a habit, I guess?

Which mythical monster would you most enjoy discovering (first- or second-hand) is real?

I guess it depends on whether or not it counts as a monster in your book, but how cool would it be to have your own pegasus? Or a griffin? Extremely cool, I think.

When did you last exhibit monstrous behavior?

I try really hard not be monstrous, but I’m sure I’ve been less than ideal in fights with people. But not very recently, I don’t think.

What do you think of monster trucks?

I try not to think about how much fossil fuel monster trucks, NASCAR, and  Formula One racing must use up.

If you like monster movies, what’s a monster movie you dislike? And if you dislike them, what’s a monster movie you like?

I don’t typically like monster moves, though there is a certain level of over-the-top camp involved in some mid-century ones that I really love, whether they’re giant creatures laying waste to entire cities or merely humanoid creatures going on killing sprees. There’s a whole stable of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes featuring both of these conceits (though not in the same movie!) and that’s where most of my favorites are from: The Horror of Party BeachThe Wasp Woman, Gamera, and so on.

A more recent offering that I like because of its merits as a good movie (rather than my personal taste for camp) is The Host, which until recently was the highest-grossing South Korean movie of all time. (Now it’s in fourth place.) I’m generally a big fan of Bong Joon-ho’s movies and wish his output were a little more prolific. The Host also features my favorite Korean actress (and maybe one of my favorite actresses hands-down), Bae Doona.

What song about a monster (or with the word monster in the title) do you really like?

I have “The Monster Mash” and Kanye West’s “Monster” in my music library and of course I like them well enough, but for this question I’ll recommend what is a slightly more obscure song: Drunken Tiger’s “Monster.”

This Friday Five got pretty Korean-themed towards the end, but not really surprising, I guess.

Friday 5: Off-Balance

I’m a little annoyed that the post I had scheduled about being unavailable due to vacation somehow never went through, but on the other hand everything else I had prepared in advance did! Fortunately everything remained under control while I was away—I don’t need a vacation from my vacation or anything like that. On to this week’s Friday 5!


What most recently made you giddy?

Two things: dancing at a really good wedding, and watching the bats emerge at Natural Bridge Caverns. Those two memories alone are worth every penny I spent for this trip.


What most recently left you agog?

Sometimes the Friday 5 teaches me new words. I always took “agog” to mean “shocked” or “surprised”; I double-checked just now and instead it’s “full of intense interest or excitement.”

Pretty much my whole trip to the US had most recently left me agog, I suppose. I packed a lot into just three weeks of visiting!


What most recently left you aghast?

Despite all of the good vibes and good friends in my trip, there’s no denying I picked a tumultuous time to visit (which, welcome to the next three years). Neo-nazis demonstrating publicly, counter-protesters being injured or even murdered . . . and the worst part is I’m not even surprised.

A close friend of mine and his girlfriend are great admirers of James Tiptree, Jr. They saw me off from Boston with a copy of Her Smoke Rises Up Forever (though I think I left it in Albany, or possibly Old Orchard Beach), and one of the stories in there seemed all the creepier in light of contemporary goings-on: “The Screwfly Solution.”


What in your life is the most higgledy-piggledy?

Landing the next student or project is always higgledy-piggledy. Freelance life!


 What was your week a mish-mash of?

Maine, Massachusetts, Copenhagen, Stockholm. I was all over the place this week!

Friday 5: Let’s Get Physical

How confidently could you turn a cartwheel right now?

Not at all. I’m writing this ahead of schedule with a bum ankle, but that doesn’t change anything at the moment of you reading this, wherever and whenever you are. Gymnastics is not my thing.

How (physically) flexible are you?

I’m not a human pretzel, but yoga keeps me relatively limber. So I’d like to think, anyway. That said, I’ve let yoga fall by the wayside and that’s maybe a bad idea. The hardest part is always getting started again.

How are your Frisbee-throwing skills?

Pretty bad.

Which carnival game do you have the best shot at winning?

I actually won one of those “toss the rings on a bottle” games at Six Flags, when I was maybe 13 or so? And I won a HUGE stuffed orangutan. I won—on my first or second throw, to boot. Everyone involved was surprised: I obviously lost my preteen mind; the college-age park employee looked genuinely unprepared for this and awkwardly asked me to return the rest of the rings in my pile; my parents now had to figure out what to do with this huge prize.

Tang (that’s his name) is still in a closet somewhere, one of the handful of stuffed animals that I’m just too sentimental to get rid of. But since he’s much bigger than your run-of-the-mill teddy bear, it’s a little harder to take him with you to college, or across the ocean. His fate is thus undecided.

How good are you at toss-the-paper-in-the-wastebasket?

A champ. Why aren’t there Olympic Office Sports?

Friday 5: Mornings Are for Coffee and Contemplation

Why are waffles better than pancakes?

Are they, though? I’ll sit down to a stack of chocolate chip silver dollar pancakes anytime—plenty of fond childhood memories there. Of course, I also have fond memories of 3 AM Waffle House runs, but those aren’t the same kind of fond memory.

I admit, however, to liking Swedish pancakes better than American pancakes.

American pancakes // Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Swedish pancakes are essentially crepes, and an excuse to have dessert for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner…I don’t think they’re a solid breakfast food here?).

Swedish pancakes, basically. // Photo by andreeautza on

Swedish waffles are materially identical to American waffles, except in shape.

Swedish waffle, basically. //  Photo by Pietro De Grandi  on Unsplash
American waffle // Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash


What’s something you remember about being 11?

Middle school? Sixth grade? Lockers? It’s a blur, truthfully.

What experience do you have with role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons?

Middle school is when I got started, though not with Dungeons and Dragons. Online play-by-post RPGs were kind of my thing; I didn’t play D&D proper until college, with a weird mix of people who were really into getting into character and people (like me) who were more meta-gamer about it. Player groups shuffled and changed and settled as social groups shuffled and changed and settled, and now when I spend time with the final line-up (so to speak), it’s not unusual to go for a casual one-shot, just for funsies.

How do you feel about carnival rides that make you go upside-down?

Not great? I don’t like carnival rides in general. They feel so pointless.

You’ve seen Matthew Modine in more films than you realize (which he famously admitted during his opening monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1988) (filmography here). Which have you seen, and which was the best?

I might have seen him in more films than I realize, but that doesn’t mean I’ve seen him in a lot. The only movies I’ve seen in that list are Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises, and Stranger Things (not a movie, but still). Those are all really good, but I think Stranger Things might be the best? And I’m not just saying that because these questions are very obviously based on Stranger Things.

Friday 5: Grabby

There’s a convenience store nearby and you have a small case of the munchies. What do you grab?

A chocolate protein shake and then a croissant or a piece of fruit. Maybe both!


You’re about to get on a plane and someone just stole all your reading material, but there’s a newsstand nearby. What magazine (of likely available titles) do you grab? 


Why am I so chill about someone stealing my stuff? Because if they’ve stolen my airplane reading material, that means they have my phone!

But I’ll answer this question in the spirit in which it’s intended, which is: what would I grab from Hudson News (or whatever) if I didn’t have any of my own reading material for a flight. The answer is: anything without an airbrushed model or celebrity that isn’t also about business or sports.


On a regular work day, where do you grab lunch and what do you get if you don’t bring a lunch from home?

Since I have the luxury of working from phone, I grab lunch in my own kitchen (which is also my office). After putting in a couple hours in the comma mines (I use the Pomodoro Method, but I tend to work for entire hours instead of 25-minute bursts), I take a leisurely lunch: usually a sandwich or a bowl of muesli, sometimes leftovers.


Instead of a lunch, you decide you need a quick nap during your workday. Where can you grab 40 winks?

In my own damn bed!

How close to your head is your cell phone when you’re asleep in bed?

Image courtesy DodgertonSkillhause

Not at all. I leave it to charge in the kitchen partially because there’s not enough outlet space by the bed, and partially because having to get up and walk to the opposite end of the apartment to shut off the alarm helps me wake up.