“What time is it?”

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wise words from one of America’s greatest modern writers. My own version of this was a game I started in college, and have played ever since. It doesn’t really have a name—I just call it “my favorite game” and leave it at that. I suppose you could call it the “what time is it?” game, otherwise. I play it during parties, picnics, and other pleasant get-togethers, though it isn’t a party game as such.

The whole game is just a simple request: “Time to play my favorite game, guys! What time is it?” The trick is that you aren’t allowed to check the time; you have to guess. It’s understood that I’m not really interested in what the time actually is, but what time you think it is.  You win by being the closest, I guess, but the point is never to win. The point is to be cognizant of the passage of time and to either appreciate how much time is still left to enjoy the night and how slowly time has passed so far despite the fun we’ve been having, or to try to come down and wrap up the night. It’s usually the former; I usually invite a round of the “what time is it?” game after I check the time myself and am pleasantly surprised at how early it still is.

This game gets rather more difficult when you live at latitudes farther from the equator than what you grew up with. I’ve lived in Sweden for almost four years now and I think I might have a handle on how to deal with winter, but then again I might not—it’s all too easy to blithely handwave winter away in the middle of June and forget how grim it can really get. In the winter, the “what time is it?” game isn’t about hope and joie de vivre but about reminding yourself to persevere. In the summer, though, it becomes straight-up sun worship.

All of that is to lead up to this subpar smartphone snapshot I took while I was out on a run yesterday:

Stockholm sidewalk during a summer evening.
So, what time is it?

This was yesterday: June 26, 2017. What time is it?

9:41 PM.

Winters in Stockholm are bleak, but summers are the most amazing thing. You need to store up moments like this one and hold on to them when it’s pitch black by 3 PM.

After all, if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

ArmchairBEA, Day 1: Introduction

ArmchairBEA is the Internet/social media version of BEA: Book Expo America. BEA is a chance for readers, authors, and publishers to mingle and share their love of the written word, not unlike Stockholm’s own (much smaller) Litteraturmässan.

I missed ArmchairBEA this year, which is a shame because it’s my favorite way to hear about new books and to find new book bloggers (and, increasingly, BookTubers — people who vlog about books on YouTube). It’s a potpourri of Twitter chats, giveaways, and blog prompts, and I’m so bummed about missing it that I’m going to participate anyway.

The first prompt is, as usual, a simple introduction prompt. In case you wanted to know more than what’s on my About Me page!

I am . . .

Most basically, I’m an American expat in Stockholm who cobbles together a living from freelance editing and EFL tutoring. I don’t see the fields as discrete; rather, they interact with and reinforce each other.

Currently . . .

I’ve just wrapped up lessons with three different students, just in time for me to pick up work on two (rather large) editing projects.

I love . . .

I love giving people the tools they need to articulate themselves. This is where editing and tutoring overlap, and it’s the best part of both jobs for me.

I also used to work in a jewelry-making supplies store, and incidentally that was my favorite part of that job as well. Only I was helping people articulate themselves through a very different medium!

On a less career/aspirational level, I love being outside in the sunshine (and being at home in the rain), reading, a good cup of tea, and Korean food.

My favorite . . .

My favorite Korean dish is budae jjigae (a spicy stew that includes assorted American-style meats), my favorite tea is Söderte, and choosing my favorite book would be like choosing a favorite child. You can read about my favorite books according to GoodReads, if you’re curious about my tastes.

My least favorite . . .

My least favorite precious gem is the diamond. Controversial opinion time, I guess! But even if they weren’t an ethical nightmare, I would still be unimpressed. I’ve seen properly cut, high-quality quartz that has the same sparkle and flash as a diamond. And that’s not even including Herkimer diamonds.

My least favorite book is equally hard to choose, but out of a field of mediocre reads, one that stands out is Rabbit, Run. I’m not a big Updike fan.

My current read . . .

Oh, so many! I have two that I’m reading for group obligations:  Madonna in a Fur Coat for my Internet book club and The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide for my in-person critique group. I’ve also borrowed The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage from a critique group friend, a book that is relevant to my interests as well as my ongoing writing project. Finally, my Swedish book of the moment is Karin Boye’s Kris.

My summer plans . . .

I’ll be traveling to the US in August for a wedding.

My buddy . . .

My buddy Aaron is the one getting married! Here we are in Beijing during Lunar New Year 2010:

Myself (center left) and a friend (center) at a company dinner party in Beijing for Lunar New Year 2009
Myself (center left) and a friend (center) at a company dinner party in Beijing for Lunar New Year 2010

He’s conversant, if not fluent, in (Mandarin) Chinese, and when I touched down in Beijing on the evening before Lunar New Year, he put that Chinese to good use finding us a place to eat. All of the restaurants anywhere near our hostel had been closed all day, or closed early. When we got here, they initially turned us away, too, but he finally switched to Chinese and explained that it was my first night in Beijing, and that I had just flown in from Seoul without any dinner. Either his Chinese, my sad story, or both convinced them to let us in, and we shared a huge company meal, complete with alcohol and dancing.

And now he’s getting married!

My blog/channel/social media . . .

The other place on social media where you can find me is on Twitter (@KobaEnglish). I would rather eat rusty nails than start a video channel.

The best . . .

The best part of this trip will definitely be seeing so many of my friends in the US who can’t take the time (or spend the money) to come see me in Stockholm.

Friday 5: Malfunction Junction

When have you had a wardrobe malfunction?

I lost a skirt to a motorbike gear while I was in Indonesia. Nothing too mortifying, but we needed to stop and get a new one for me. Going to Indonesia with a regular peasant skirt from the US and leaving with a batik print one from Indonesia isn’t a bad deal, though!

Kat Koba Indonesia
Before…
Kat Koba Indonesia
…and after

 

When did you last have a problem with your alarm clock?

Yesterday, actually! Either I slept through it, or the alarm doesn’t automatically override the headphones if they’re plugged in. It’s set for 7:30 and I didn’t wake up until almost 10.

 

What was your most recent computer problem, and what was the fix?

Well, one of the hinges on my laptop is breaking, which seems to be a common denominator in a lot of HP laptops. I’m not sure what the fix is, since at this point it’s no longer under warranty and I can’t really afford the time it would take to send it off for repairs.As for software, once in a while I need to restart Word or OpenOffice because they slow down, but that’s about it.


What’s something about cars you know specifically because you had to have one repaired?

Nothing, really.


Have you had any brain malfunctions this week?

I miscalculated hours for a student (in their favor and not mine, at least) and I missed an important-ish email about an editing project, though I suspect that was an email attempt at sorting spam malfunction more than anything else.

Koba English is Born

Welcome to the new home on the web for Koba English (that’s me!). While the important stuff, like editing rates, tutoring availability, and contact information, will stay on the static pages, this blog space will be for news and other transient things: thoughts on language, book recommendations and reviews, the occasional goofy photo. I’ll get the ball rolling with a goofy photo:

bloggerprofile

There I am, out visiting the sheep on a farm in Uppsala in 2010. Très chic, n’est-ce pas?