Of all the spaces in your residence, which is most powerfully your space? We don’t have a lot of space in our tiny Stockholm apartment, but I’ve made around a third of our unnecessarily large kitchen my office, including my Art Wall corner.
I also have an entire bookshelf to myself, which is obviously very much me.
What’s the most spacious space in your everyday life? The outside, I guess?
What’s a good song about space?
What’s under your bed? The floor.
What are your thoughts on typing one or two spaces after sentences? Two spaces are no longer necessary as we live in an age of digital typing and typesetting! One of the first things I do with every document I copyedit is find and replace two spaces with one. STOP DOING THIS.
What are you holding your breath in anticipation of? I’m really looking forward to WorldCon Dublin and going to Korea for a wedding in 2019!
What most recently gave you goosebumps? Probably just straight-up being cold, because it’s December in Stockholm.
What’s giving you that pain in the neck? My work setup is less than ideal. I have my beast of a laptop, Regan, to the left and my work notebook (Samwise) in the middle. But since I do all of my blogging from Regan, I have to contort my neck and back to get anything done. Or just scoot my chair over, which I just did.
What’s making your heart ache? I miss so many people and places, but that’s the neo-liberal cosmopolitan life, I guess: nowhere and everywhere feels like home; you’re always missing someone.
What are you yawning at? Just trying to get my ears to pop because my head is full of fluid. Hurray, being sick. =/
The first week of October is National Customer Service Week in the United States and Kenya. Where have you received especially good customer service? Flying Scandinavian Air Services (or whatever SAS actually stands for) is always a treat. But that said, I value price over comfort in air travel, and Norwegian wins on that front. And they’re pretty good for a budget airline. Skimpy meal service (but I hate eating on planes anyway—the food is okay but it’s just so cramped), but the planes are new and comfortable.
Noraebangs (karaoke boxes) in Korea also are really good at customer service. One more than one occasion my friends and I received “service” items from the noraebang we were partying it up at: free beer, ice cream, or an extra half-hour of room rental.
The second Saturday in October was National Tree-Planting Day in Mongolia. When did you last do anything resembling tree-planting? When you’re a teacher, every lesson is like planting a tree!
October 4 was World Animal Day (the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals). What’s an obscure animal you know a thing or two about?
Okapis are related to giraffes and, just like giraffes, have blue-black tongues. They’re also endangered, so maybe consider supporting okapi preservation as a holiday gift to yourself or others?
October 6 was National Poetry Day in Ireland and the United Kingdom. What’s a line of poetry that springs to mind now that you’re thinking about poetry? I’ve been thinking about Karin Boye recently, so here:
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister.
Varför skulle annars våren tveka?
Varför skulle all vår heta längtan
bindas i det frusna bitterbleka?
Höljet var ju knoppen hela vintern.
Vad är det för nytt, som tär och spränger?
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister,
ont för det som växer
och det som stänger.
Ja nog är det svårt när droppar faller.
Skälvande av ängslan tungt de hänger,
klamrar sig vid kvisten, sväller, glider -
tyngden drar dem neråt, hur de klänger.
Svårt att vara oviss, rädd och delad,
svårt att känna djupet dra och kalla,
ändå sitta kvar och bara darra -
svårt att vilja stanna
och vilja falla.
Då, när det är värst och inget hjälper,
Brister som i jubel trädets knoppar.
Då, när ingen rädsla längre håller,
faller i ett glitter kvistens droppar
glömmer att de skrämdes av det nya
glömmer att de ängslades för färden -
känner en sekund sin största trygghet,
vilar i den tillit
som skapar världen.
What’s in your pocket? Nothing, because my pajamas don’t have pockets!
Lasagna, for me, is basically the only layered food. I may be Swedish, but smörgåstårtar (pictured above) freak me out.
What’s the best rolled food?
There are so many options, aren’t there? Enchiladas (and I would say burritos count, too), cannoli, gimbap, California rolls, kanelbullar…the list goes on! But for nostalgia purposes, I’ll have to say it’s a tie between cannoli and gimbap.
What’s the most recent cuisine you’ve tried for the first time from an ethnicity not your own?
I had some Turkish pistachio candy at a student’s house on Monday.
What’s a food that scares you?
San-nakji: octopus arms. While the octopus is technically dead by the time it’s on your plate, octopus anatomy means that the nerves in the arms and tentacles are still doing their squirmy, moving thing by the time they’re on your plate. The Japanese puffer fish won’t kill you if it’s prepared correctly, but even if san-nakji is prepared correctly, the very nature of the dish makes it a potentially deadly choking hazard.
What’s something you eat solely because it’s good for you?
Even the healthy food I eat, I eat because it’s tasty. The only thing I consume purely for health reasons are vitamins.
when did you last raise your hand to be called upon, to get someone’s attention, or in response to a “how many of you…” question? or heck, for any reason at all? I probably did it to get the moderator’s attention at the last English Debate Club meeting I attended a few weeks ago.
When did you last have to do anything akin to homework? Around a year ago, for Academic Swedish. Unless lesson planning counts, in which case: all day, every day.
when did you and your friends last go outside to play? Me and friends? I guess the last time I was at a picnic, which was probably sometime last year. Me by myself? On my run yesterday.
how’s your penmanship nowadays? Pretty good. Teacher skills, etc.
among stuff you periodically eat, what reminds you most of your lunches in the school cafeteria? I don’t remember school lunches much except chicken nuggets and “French bread pizza.” The laziest, easiest thing I eat is boiled pasta with a dollop of creme fraiche and some roasted onions. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
What’s a good movie for October that has nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?
Back when I worked in South Korea, I spent a few months at a hagwon that was not a good fit for me. At all. I started in June, and by August I was starting to fantasize about tragedy befalling my family so I would have an excuse to leave early and go back home.
So for the first time in my life, I quit a job. And for the last two weeks of October, I was between jobs, free to wander around Seoul as I liked.
In honor of those weeks of freedom (and the amazing job I was able to take instead because I quit that one), I would say Little Miss Sunshine. Watching it with a friend was what convinced me to carpe diem and quit the damn job.
What’s a good couple of songs for October that have nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?
I kind of want to continue on my “two-week knockabout in Seoul” theme, so here are some selections from Korean indie musicians that I really, really like.
Danpyunsun and the Sailors, “Yellow Room”
Hyun Lee Yang, “Is Help on the Way?”
Floating Island, “Parade”
Jun Bum Sun and the Yangbans, “Seven Year Itch”
What are some reasons to love October?
The foliage is gorgeous, but it’s not quite the grim winter wasteland that is November or December. There’s a nice balance between “still enough daylight” and “cozy weather.” Also, apples are in season! Apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider…
Radio stations sometimes call this month Rocktober, doing special playlists or giveaways in celebration of rock music. What would be a better rhyming name for this month, and how might it be celebrated?
I’m fine with it being Rocktober, but celebrating geology and rocks and minerals as well as rock music. Second to that, Schlocktober, and you celebrate by watching terrible movies.
What would be a good holiday to establish in October for those U.S. states not commemorating Columbus Day?
Indigenous Peoples’ Day seems a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Among board games involving the exchange of money, which have you enjoyed most? Do you exchange money in Life? I think you do. I didn’t have anything against Monopoly, but I think I actually finished more games of Life.
PayDay is the name of a candy bar consisting of salted peanuts rolled in caramel surrounding a firm, nougat-like center. How does it sound to you if you haven’t tried it, and how do you like it if you have? Is there a similar candy bar you like better? I don’t like nuts in my chocolate, nor do I like peanuts or peanut butter mixed with chocolate. (Unpopular opinions!) Anything with caramel, nougat, and chocolate without nuts is just peachy keen.
When did you last do something nice for yourself just because it was pay day? I went out and bought new bras. Ladies, I recommend making sure that you’re wearing the correct bra size. (In other words: if you’ve been fitted at Victoria’s Secret, or you’ve used that bizarre “add an arbitrary number to your band measurement,” measure yourself again.)
What person with the surname Day are you most familiar with? I had a really hard time parsing this question at first; I took it to mean “Person With the Surname Day,” as if there were multiple holidays we observe in honor of people with specific surnames. Like, I had to read the question two or three times to understand what they meant.
Twitch is an enormously popular livestreaming platform mostly for watching people play video games. It has more than 1.5 million broadcasters and more than one million visitors per month, and Amazon acquired it for nearly a billion dollars in 2014. Which of your computer activities would you livestream if there were a way to make some money doing it?
Y’all want to watch me write blog entries in real time, right? Right?
EDM (electronic dance music) is usually performed by DJs on stage in front of audiences, playing tracks they’ve mixed, right off their laptops. If you were a push-button DJ playing your tunes in a club, what would be your opening and closing songs, assuming everyone’s there because they’re into whatever sounds you’re into?
My opening song would be absolutely be “Gangnam Style,” or one of the infinite mashups out there. This one might be my favorite:
Or this one:
What can I say? 2012 might have been my peak year.
As for the end of the set, I think this is a good closer:
What’s a good Adele song, and why is Adele so popular? I don’t know if I like this shade you’re throwing on Adele, Friday 5! I’m not obsessed with Adele but I like her voice.
Speaking of 2012, I was also cheered to see that Adele was so popular with my Korean students. In a country that can be even more looks-based and body-conscious than the US, I hope that at least a few of my girl students realized that it’s possible for them to be talented and successful without looking like a typical K-pop star.
I listened to “Rolling in the Deep” a lot with those kiddos, so that’s probably my favorite Adele song.
The Walking Dead? I don’t get this one either, Friday 5.
Every generation seems to arrive at a “They don’t write ’em like that anymore” attitude. Why does it seem like most middle-aged people lose interest in new music? There’s actually a reason for this! I think it has something to do with the way your brain is still developing as a teenager versus how it is as an adult, and so music from your childhood and teenage years will always be more immediate and visceral for you than most anything else. In other words, nostalgia’s a helluva drug.
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.
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.)
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.
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.