Monday, 31 October 2011

The Only Secret Is Sweat

Today I did my usual bit of writing, kissed my hamsters, and went to karate. It was a shorter lesson as we had to help move things all the things in storage at the old dojo to the new one, which took longer than the actual lesson, for which Shihan put us through a round of circuit training. Fake-white-belt and I, paired, moved from jumping over hurdles (they fell over a few times and I felt rather silly trying to get enough air time to carry me over and across) to weighted situps to punching at a bag to kicking at a bag to jumping jumprope to freestyle bag fighting, and then we did it all again. Of course, this was done after we had run up and down the length of the dojo and leaped like frogs and skipped backwards and grapevined and kicked our heels while flailing our arms. In the middle of all this thrashing and weaving, Shihan still found the time to correct me. "Sanna, really bend your legs."
"Yes, Shihan."
I bent my legs and leaped higher and tried a little harder with the master's eye on me.

We moved a lot things out of storage--barbells, wooden boards I'll break, according to Shihan, when I've "grown up," old cds, karate posters, a mop and bucket, other bits and bobs one might imagine adorning the walls of a dojo. I found a stack of photo frames with pictures of previous classes and graduates and sempais and higher ups in kyokushin karate. And Dolph Lundgren. There he is-- Ivan Drago from Rocky IV--right next to my Shihan.

With the dojo within walking distance, Shihan decided we could carry the last few things over ourselves, and that is why Shihan and Alexandra carried a larger-than-life painting of Mas Oyama, the founding father of kyokushin karate, between them down the street, and I followed with a large, square sign for the dojo balanced on my head.

"Behind each triumph are new peaks to be conquered." 

After a very long time shifting things into their new place of residence, most of the people went home, cycling off into the cool night air for home and hearth. The rest of us fell to refitting the punching bags. I learned a great deal about them today. (The punching bags, that is. Not the others.)

The stuffing in the bag (usually made of rags or ripped cloth) settles after a few years of (ab)use, compacting into itself and hardening. Therefore, it is necessary to open the bags, pull out all its stuffing, fluff it, and put it back. Shihan, blue-belt, yellow-belt, and fake-white-belt undid one of the bags and ripped out its innards (the bag itself had broken open on the side and had to be retired), which fake-white-belt and I stuffed into the new green bag.

Fake-white-belt hails from the land of Germany. 

 Before the gutting begins

Out with the old, in with the new 

It's a bit like stuffing a large sausage.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday's Best

For church today I wore a turban and my long, pumpkin-coloured dress because we were celebrating our new church members today. And because it's autumn. And because I like turbans.

What are you doing there?

Burmese pirated digital video discs usually keep quite high standards, but the covers are not quite up to snuff. Sometimes the description on the back doesn't even pertain to the show or the front is a photoshopped collage of fighter planes, machine guns, and randomly selected characters of the show.

Can you spot the unwanted guest in the Behavioral Analysis Unit?

Friday, 28 October 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

Congratulations, dear graduate. We at Grammar & Co. are pleased to see you join the ranks of the proud, the few, the literate. Our exclusive education is intended to raise people, such as yourself, above the masses, to set them apart from the common reader, and to sanctify you for exceptional and possibly nefarious purposes. For the past few years, we have made sure to steep you in the rich broth of language, and—you will agree—that it has made you all the better. You are now—more than ever—attuned to the kinks, the turnings, the shades, the idiosyncrasies of our great language. You have been instilled with a keen ear and a quick mind for grammar, and we now place in your hands the great responsibility of bringing this message to the world.
Despite contrary opinion, we will not be spreading the light to the less fortunate, nor will we ask you to condescend to the masses and pull them from their miry depths of incorrect grammar; rather, we ask you to do what the few and the privileged have always done. It is our task to show people the error of their ways, their place in society, their general inferiority, and their lack of good breeding. Though they may be well aware of it already, you have been given the duty—nay, the honor!—of beating the sad and sordid truth of their station into their heads. If language is power, does it not follow that the best use of language—the most clear and concise presentation of a subject matter—is even more powerful? Therefore, buildings will crumble, societies collapse, civilizations fall at the lightest touch of your rhetoric. You have been prepared—granted a thorough understanding of grammar (and consequently, of languages, of cultures, and of the social structures contained therein), and hopefully, a cruel precision with which to cut away the dregs of society.
It has been a privilege to teach you, and we sincerely hope that you find this calling your cross to bear; or rather, that you find it your calling to put this cross on others and let them feel the weight of their inadequacy. We salute you for a job well done and a bright future ahead.

Grammar & Co.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Brush Your Teeth

There is a book every good Swedish mother reads to her children to instill in them toothbrushing habits that will keep for the rest of their lives. Karius och Baktus, written by Norwegian author Thorbjørn Egner, follows the adventures of two teeth-trolls and their good life in little Jan's mouth. Jan, you see, refuses to brush his teeth, and the two teeth-trolls build houses in his molars, stick their little picks in his nerve, and finally meet their demise.

When my mamma was young she thought bacteria looked exactly like Karius and Baktus and would scrutinize the sink hoping to see a very, very small trolls with bright bushes of hair atop their heads. Whenever she found a tiny dot of something, she would be satisfied knowing she had brushed them away and sent them to a watery grave.

The problem is, despite knowing they are bad little trolls, I always felt a bit sorry for them. Perhaps I felt Jan was a stupid fellow for neglecting to brush his teeth in the first place.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes things just don't go they way they're supposed to, which is why I write this lying in the guest bed in the computer room in my uncle's house, in an old t-shirt, freshly showered and smelling of manly, musk-scented Axe body wash and having brushed my teeth with a toothbrush my cousin brought home from their cottage by the sea.

Earlier today I arrived home at the apartment, thinking I'd come home just in time for karate at six, but my father met me at the door and told me my aunt had hurt her ankle and was in the hospital and couldn't I mind the kids until she came back? Of course I could. Mother phoned me several hours later from the hospital where she was attending to her sister-in-law and asked whether I wouldn't mind staying the night to help in the morning, seeing as my aunt's ankle was too swollen to carry weight. Which is why I now lie here with no fresh set of clothes for tomorrow and teeth that feel remarkably naked without their retainers, and I am quite liking the feeling of having to scrounge together odds, ends, and hygienic products from all corners of the house to make ends meet.

Questions and Concerns

It occurs to me that I know not what I do. I have never written a biography before, much less a complete novel. (I've written ever so many fragments, much to Natalie's dismay.) I haven't read many either. I enjoyed one about Tolkien a few years back. Or maybe it was Lewis, but that doesn't really help me now. How does one go about creating a biography? Where does personal experience meet fact? What tone should I use? What voice?

My mother claims she is not the adventuring sort. A self-professed hobbit, she pretends to prefer the company of a good book and a cup of tea before daring exploits, but it cannot be denied there is something Tookish about her. In 1980, twenty-four-years-old and single as the day she was born, she set of for Africa to work with missions in Tanzania for three months; and in 1985, supported by the training a one-year Bible school could offer and four years of marriage, she packed up her belongings right alongside her husband, tucked her golden-haired son under an arm, and flew to India for a six month stay in Teodori, a missions compound nestled deep in Orissa province, thirty kilometers as the crow flies from Pakur. It was a peaceful place, equipped with a hospital and farmland, and my parents found it an oasis of calm in comparison to the other big cities they had visited, like Calcutta, Bombay, and Karachi. Here the geese ran with the chickens and the goats, and cows grazed alongside the water buffalo. 

And can one really talk about hobbits in a (rather) serious book about missions?

The Weekend

I have had nothing to say for the last few days. The weekend passed in one of those warm glows that accompany pleasant evenings. On Saturday, Ida come over to run me through the list of songs for Sunday's service. (Apparently I am now officially on the worship team--I love a good challenge--it's rather fun trying my hand at something I know very little about. I suspect it's lighting up all sorts of dark and dusty corners of my mind.) She played the synthesizer on the dining room table and we sang together. After practicing for an hour or so, Ida and I broke for tea. She set the table with flowered tea cups and I cut fresh apple cake and called mamma and pappa to the table. We sat around the kitchen table and drank tea, pappa reading bits from his travel diary from 1977, and we talked about everything under the sun, ending the evening with an episode of Pride & Prejudice in the living room.

Sunday sauntered around much like Saturday, with the same weekend swagger of charm and ease. We attended church--attended isn't quite the word I'm looking for as we arrived early and arranged the tables, set up the sound system and fika table, pappa preached, mamma managed Sunday school, and I helped lead worship. (Ida has the most wonderful voice.) Afterwards Ida asked if she could wait at our house until her boyfriend arrived at the airport, to which we said, "Of course!" Once home, pappa and I packed all the church equipment back into the basement while Ida and mamma drove to Roberto's and bought pizza, and because we had started Pride & Prejudice on Saturday, we followed along the same path last night.

Ida has never read the book and never seen the series. Having myself watched it quite a few times, it makes me wonder how I felt the first time. Ida does not know what to think. Does she like the arrogant Mr. Darcy? Should she trust the affable Mr. Wickham? But then there is that niggling something-isn't-quite-right-but-I-don't-know-what-feeling. Why would Mr. Bingley be friends with Darcy if he were really such a bad man? Ida sometimes asks me such questions, but my answer is, as always, "I'm not telling you anything."

Friday, 21 October 2011

Masters of the Universe

Jennifer is new in town, and we decided to meet up in town and have a proper talk. She is American, and has already lived in Stockholm for three years, but moved up here in September because she felt the Arctic Circle just wasn't close enough. Though she may also have come because of her acceptance into the city's prestigious art college. We went to Schmäck (a coffee shop) for lunch, and I ordered broccoli soup with a warm pesto and walnut sandwich and side sallad. Afterwards we walked over to Sandbergs Pappershandel, which would fill her every nib-and-sealing-wax need. And then to Åkerbloms to purchase a postcard for her friend. We bid goodbye and I went to my office (coffee shop) to work on pappa's book.

The bathroom scribbles are rather mild.

I take offense at this scribble. What if the 'me' in question is filled with fault, marred by weakness, moved to unkindness because of selfish ambition? Is that all I have to look forward to in life? Some washed out 'I am' statement?  Do I not have the strength to stare down my weaknesses and pull them out by the root, to build strength of character in its place? I'm not still-finding-myself. I refuse to be reduced to a shrug of the shoulder, an apologetic that's-all-I-can-do. I can do more.

I realize the statement intends to be encouraging, to coax the timid from their shell, but perhaps they could be coaxed by other means. I'm rather tired of only hearing about those who fumble forward, who stagger into the future only because they must. I want to see the brisk walkers, heroes who stride confidently into the dark unknown, who give of themselves without hesitation, whose kindness is counted as strength, who cure chronic despair in others by being assured of their own identity. I found another scribble on the wall: Live today. Tomorrow it may be too late.

A few hours and 812 words later, I caught the bus home. It was cold to wait in the open station.

Mamma and I made buns for the Sunday church service. I crumbled the yeast and stirred whilst my mother poured the flour into the melted butter; we rolled out the dough and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar along its length, and whilst I snipped the long roll into manageable pieces mamma put them into little paper cups and tuned the oven. It was one of those He-Man moments. By the power of Grey Skull! And we were suddenly He-Man and Battle Cat, fighting side by side in perfect synchronicity.

Our battle was just more delicious.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

To Write, a Must

I stayed at the coffee shop to work on my stories. I particularly like these lines.

“Lina Larrow. Stop your running in the stairs this minute!” Mr. Sleed was flying down the narrow stairs after her, and she stopped so short he soared over her head, pinwheeled to the bottom, crumpling like a crushed house of cards. He lay in a dissatisfied tangle of limbs on the hallway rug.
“Oh, Mr. Sleed!” Lina was by his side in an instant. “Ah’m so sorry.”
            “Phrase of the day,” he hissed.
“Are you a’right?”
“I’m fine. Don’t touch.” He brushed himself off, settling the tie around his neck.
“Mr. Sleed, your shoulder. Ah’m so sorry.”
            “Stop saying that.” He felt along his shoulder seam and came across a gaping rip in the fabric and sighed. “He’ll think this house is run by complete imbeciles."

Hot Diggety Dog

 Maria and I met up at Kafe Station for a chat. We've been meaning to get together for quite some time now, but circumstances have intervened and kept us apart. Did you know Maria has just started boxing lessons? She tells me she is the only girl. Did you know she is planning a blog and has written down a great many subjects to write on, which is more than I can say for myself. I am not nearly as prepared when it comes to blogging. At the end of the day I sit in bed and type away and something usually comes of it. We do, however, share an inability to make blog templates. Maria wrote her boxing coach of one day and asked if he could help design her blog. He said he knew someone.

There is a saying in Sweden: "Frisk vågat, hälften vunnit," which translates to "heartily dared, half won." In essence, just daring to try has won you half the battle.

No, not a medieval tower. The old fire station needed a place to hang their wet water hoses after a job well done. They built this tower, tall enough to dry even the longest hose.

The sun setting on the bicycle city

This chilly dog stayed warm with blankets while selling DVDs in the town square.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Geek Streak

I have been on a tear for the last few days or so, divulging in some distinctly geeky activities. I'm not sure why all these things happened in so close proximity; perhaps it was because I have been geographically removed from my very own nerd herd, and the levy broke after so much pressure. I suppose the whole thing started with that package in the mail: Matt sent me an Xcom t-shirt all the way from Australia, bearing the logo of the company. I intend to wear it, but as of now it is neatly folded next to my black Krome shirt and the Duke Nukem tank top, which reads "Hail to the King!" across the front--shirts which Matt sent me in a moment of magnanimity. It pays to have friends in the gaming industry.

Today, I waxed poetic on the nature of youtube artists to my parents, defending my point by showing them some entertainers that really do deserve my admiration for their excellent videos and accompanying music, such as the ever excellent Rhett and Link, the auto-tuned news reports of Schmoyoho, and, let us not forget the vlogbrothers.

Sweden FTW.

Speaking of the vlogbrothers, Melissa drove four hours to see John Green at his book conference in Chicago. She wanted to Skype me right before or right after (the directions were a little fuzzy) the conference, but we ran into some trouble with 1) her failing to sign onto Skype and 2) a temperamental internet connection. We made staccato conversation in the snatches of time before the call faded out completely. She bought me a book (she will send it at a later date) and had John Green sign it (she is so very kind), and best of all, she accidentally called me whilst bidding goodbye to him.

For a full second, John Green was on Skype with me!

To round off the day, pappa and I spent a few hours in the electrical appliance store, looking for a good quadband router, which we found. I also found a new computer and The World of Warcraft Battle Chest (expansion pack included). I've been meaning to play it for only the last ten years or so.

 I have only fond memories of computer games. In 1995, I played, or rather watched my brother play the original snake on the blue screen with red borders. We grew older and moved on to bigger and brighter things, playing James Pond and the extremely psychadelic Trolls game where you ran around collecting baby trolls and yo-yoed the bad guys into oblivion. Then came pixellated tank games, SimAnt, SimTown, SimCity, SimTower, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Lode Runner, Command and Conquer, Age of Empires, Red Alert, Worms, Need for Speed, Duke Nukem 3D, Max Payne, Curse of Monkey Island, the Sims. (I'm sure I'm missing a few.) I even played some Oregon Trail.

I have my brother to thank for my introduction into this world. He was the one who toiled away at the brick of a Virtual Basic book. He was the one who brought home our Sega Mega drive and game cartridges you'd have to pull from their slot, blow on, and reinsert. After school, we'd sit on the cool, white tiles in the living room and play Sonic the Hedgehog, wherein he was always Sonic and I was always Tails. Joel didn't know he made me feel important: my big brother wanted me--me!--to tag team through the level with him.

(P.S. John Green, if you ever read this, be pleased that you made my night. Or morning, as the case was.)
(P.P.S. I finished the day by naming our new router FortressofSolitude, in the same vein as our previous router Batmobile.)

Saturday, 15 October 2011



We drove to the cottage in the woods and put away our summer car Alva because she always hibernates during the winter. After all this pappa and I drove over to Pelle's house to fill our all-weather car with church supplies, including the extremely unwieldy, very heavy synthesizer.  It's rather slippy to hold when it's all wrapped up in its pink blanket. We left it on the floor in the hallway for easy access tomorrow afternoon, and it is looking suspiciously like a wrapped body.

I also introduced mother and father to Merlin, though I'd forgotten how impossible it is to watch anything with them.

Wait. What just happened?
Merlin's on his way to the city.
Why is he going there?
We're two minutes into the episode. Just keep watching.
Who's that person?
Merlin freezes a flying bucket in mid-air.
Oh, it's like X-Men.
The witch touches the girl who's found out her horrible secret and drains her of life.
It's like Rogue!

You should have been there when we watched the Matrix.

Friday, 14 October 2011

God Bless the Hamsters

I have had a headache today and so to console myself I played with my hamsters. Both my darlings were white when I bought them, having only the faintest gray stripe down their backs. But Barbarossa has slowly been turning gray around her nose as well, though Wynne has stayed as white and round as ever. They are quite funny little creatures, though I'm not sure Barbarossa hasn't lost her mind at times. She either had complete faith in my ability to catch her or no depth perception whatsoever because she squeezes out of my hand like a bar of soap whenever the chance presents itself and drops headlong toward her demise. (She has yet to hit the floor.) Wynne is much more cautious. She would never dream of jumping, and I can always see her little hamster brain ticking away as she nears the edge, weighing her chances of making it to the ground in one piece.

Despite Barbarossa's impulsive nature, she is the only one of the two who will stay in the palm of my hand. When I lift the roof off their house and brush away the sawdust, they both look at me with half-closed eyes, roughly woken from their sleep. When I pick Barbarossa up and hold her in my hands, she will snuffle a bit--I feel her pink nose on my fingers--and then lay very still. Today I buried my nose in her soft fur and breathed in her sawdusty scent, and because it was dark and warm in the curve of my palm and because she could feel my steady breathing on her back, she fell asleep, perfectly assured of her safekeeping.

She has a few things to teach me about faith.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A is for Attitude

Today Shihan made us go over the kata forms, meaning we had to practice on certain formal techniques necessary for passing on to the next belt. He stressed the importance of grounding oneself in the basics, following through on every movement, investing oneself in the appreciation of the art as a whole, not just as a means to an end. To illustrate, he told us a story.

A traveler walked down the road, and he came across a man who was hacking away at a rock.
"What are you doing?" asked the traveler.
"I'm cutting stone," said the man.
So the traveler nodded and continued along the way, only to come across another man cutting stone.
"What are you doing?" asked the traveler.
"I'm building a cathedral," said the man.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Stopping by the House

 On our way back to Umeå, we stopped  at Tord and Susanne's house; they are old friends of the family and fellow missionaries in Asia. They have just recently bought a house here in Sweden, and it is the cutest thing ever with its wood burning stove and narrow stairway. It's a dollhouse.

 This picture greeted me the moment I stepped inside.

It is still in the process of renovation--one wall is white, one brown--but it already has that snug feeling to it.

We had tea and buns and sandwiches in the warm kitchen, a short respite before our drive home.


Church is the day we designate for the worship of our Saviour. This particular Sunday, Joel and wife Sofia, Sofia's brother Martin and his wife Gabriella, Lotta, my father, and I attended a Spanish-speaking church in Sollentuna. The Sollentuna church joined us during the summer for our first Christian conference in Sjövik (read here). Most, if not all of its members are Spanish, and they have had some trouble reaching out to the very reserved Swedish population. They have been not surprisingly been discouraged by a meager harvest--you see, Sweden is the most individualistic, secularized country in the world.

This chart represents the individual/collective and secular/religious leanings of the countries of the world. You see the dot in the top right hand corner? It's called the Swedish corner, and according to the World Values Survey, which has been tracking national values since the eighties, the rest of the world is slowly coming to join us. 

My brother, his wife, her brother, his wife lead worship in Spanish, English, and Swedish

The members of the Sollentuna congregation had initially been hesitant to join the summer conference--they were not sure if two different cultures could work, much less worship together--but our time together proved otherwise. We Swedes and Spaniards both left equally encouraged in our faith. The church in Sollentuna, however, took away something even greater--hope for a growing, multicultural church, expectation of God's good work.

My father preaches with Pastor Renzo as interpreter

We had not met up with the church for three months, and this Sunday was filled with greetings and embraces, and some of the older church members who had previously resisted integration into Swedish society purposely came up to my brother and spoke to him in Swedish, tried their Swedish phrases, as if to say "We really are trying! We want to reach out!" They smiled and pinched his cheeks, fussing over him like a long lost grandson. 

I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7


I have grown a bit tired of sitting with my father's book, and therefore I am taking a moment to write a blog entry instead. I have been off to the south of Sweden in Uppsala and Stockholm to visit friends and family. It was a wonderful weekend wherein I payed very little attention to my computer. Before my father and I left, I asked my mother to kiss my hamsters everyday. I was afraid that four days without handling would lead them to discover their feral nature and grow too wild to hold. They are not the brightest things. And so, we packed away several boxes of Joel's things and set off on our eight hour drive. We listened to Vanessa Mae and Adventures in Odyssey, which my father found very entertaining.

We arrived and dropped our things in Erik and Karin's apartment, but we would come to spend very little time there over the next few days. We had a very busy schedule, which began almost immediately as I took the bus to join Sofia in her apartment viewing. My brother and his wife had an apartment secured--or so they thought, until the landlady abruptly texts them and says otherwise. It was very disappointing, and they had to scramble to find a new place. They have been living out of a suitcase for over six months and are very ready to have a place of their own.

As of now, they have a signed the contract for place in the same, shady part of Uppsala, an area which has been subject to numerous car burnings and shootings, as it is the haunt of seven gangs. They are very happy. (My brother and his wife, that is. Not the gangs.) When Sofia heard about the gangs, she grinned. That only makes it more exciting. Like pastors should, they go where they are most needed.

On Saturday, father and I drove to Hans and Lotta, my brother's parents-in-law, for fika. We all sat around the kitchen table in the blue morning light and ate freshly baked bread and apple cake and drank tea. She has given me the recipes for both bread and cake, and I intend to post them as soon as I have made them myself.

After fika, Lotta and I went for a walk in the fields outside their house. We wrapped ourselves in scarves and coats because it was one of those brisk autumn days. The south of Sweden has a great deal more decidious forest than the north, which has largely birch and pine; but here in Uppsala I was treated to a feast for the eyes. Coppery, burnished hues!

A fruit seller in Stockholm

After the visit to Hans and Lotta, father and I drove to Stockholm for lunch with my grandparents, after which I took the train into town (by myself!) to meet up with Emma, my friend who I rarely meet because we seem to miss each other every time we are in the same city. I met up with her and her party at Brud & Fest, a bridal store on Drottninggatan. Her Canadian friend was trying on dresses for her upcoming wedding, and I was able to slip into their inner circle without fuss and offer my emotionally uninvested opinion about her dress. Though I had only known them for half an hour, we all went to Wok Sushi afterwards and ordered thai satay with peanut sauce and rice.

We had all parted ways, after receiving compliments for my hair and invitations to Lidingö and to church, Emma and I ducked into the nearest coffee shop for chai lattes and managed to fit four hours of conversation into an hour and a half. Though we hardly ever see each other, our low maintenance relationship has always been picked up wherever we left it the last time, and for that I am very thankful: I leave friends behind left and right, and I myself am often left behind, but that is not the end.

The biggest accomplishment of the weekend: I took both bus and train to their correct destinations! I did not lose my way even once in Stockholm! Take that, feeble cannon restraint rope.

Happy Autumn!

May it be as colourful as mine.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Now where is that lexicon?

As I sit here at my computer, typing away in English on my father's book, I find myself time and time again struck wordless. I have been living in a linguistic limbo for the past few months, and it is beginning to show. Strained word-play. Tentatively placed apostrophes. And prepositions have defenestrated altogether. I read and write in English, but all other sources of linguistic influence are in Swedish. Writing in general is a slow process, but it has now become so bogged down by my inability to string sentences together that it takes twice as long and requires enough effort to give me a headache. I reach for an English word or phrase and find a Swedish one instead. He took the took the elevator, I mean.

Then how do you write? asked Natalie.
Sluggishly. With a lexicon.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ang Moh

Because I miss home.

Singapore, that sun-soaked memory, threaded
with words that roll familiar off the tongue--Bukit
Gombak, Havelock Road, Dunearn, Jurong
Kechil, Sentosa--taking the 855 from Telok Blangah
to Bukit Timah in the morning, in the evening; I sit in
old buses, white slip pressed between my fingers,
paper tickets before the time of EZLink; buses that
slap metal, that grind and lurch their way around
corners, non-conditioned in the noonday heat. I
could not afford the blue Comfort cabs with pandan
leaves behind seats and bells that sound warning when exceeding
the speed limit. The jungle that smoldered in the sun;
cicadas, the non-partisan storms that gathered on
the horizon and broke over every creature; the
hawker centres with chicken rice and roti prata,
satay grilled over bright flames, red char siew--
the juice lady who finds me where I stand,
promises the best at lowest price; for Chinese
New Year, red envelopes and oranges, bakkwa
and white strands of coconut. Void deck shops
with metal shelves on wheels filled with prawn
crackers and Jack'n'Jills, counters of candy--tic
tacs and chocolate bars, jelly cups, racks of
cheap plastic toys beyond reach of the two
dollars gripped in my small hand; the cold glass
case, water-beaded, with tiny Yakult bottles
in different colours and tinfoil hats; dusky
evenings, crickets, cool mornings, and hot days.


Photos courtesy of my friend Trixia. Visit her blog here
I was wrong. Drying mushrooms smell like wet dog.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pins and Needles

I bought a pattern online and it arrived all the way from America within days. I was very impressed. With the fall weather almost upon us, I have been feeling the need for long skirts and beautiful coats. These are unfortunately not in high demand, and if I want to wear them I must make them myself. Jenny and I are going to start cutting the fabric this Thursday.

Incapacitated Marshmallows

So today I woke up, worked on my own story and my father's book--he gave me another pile of newsletters to read--went to karate and got the snot kicked out of me in a "light contact" sparring match. I am conflicted as to whether I should be happy she kicks so hard, or whether to be selfishly indignant that "she doesn't follow the forms!" The other white belt is used to punching a bag and and treated me in much the same way. I am looking forward to the bruises.

I asked my father what I should title this post. Incapacitated Marshmallows, he says. He meant to say Incapacitated Hamsters, which makes much more sense.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Our apartment, filled with drying mushrooms, smells like an old sneaker.

At the Gray House

 After the end of the opening ceremonies at my uncle's shop, we drove to his gray house by the sea, where all of us--mamma, pappa, and me, my aunt and uncle, Amelia, William, Inga-Linn, and grandmother--had a splendid time in tiny quarters, eating lasagna, having dessert twice, going for walks in the woods, picking autumn blueberries from the bush, pondering the sea, losing at yatzy, and chasing after Zita.

 Amelia tries to coax Zita to let go of a piece of wood; when uncle chops wood, Zita always steals the kindling and and runs off, thinking it a great game; she is quite proud of herself.


 Playing Heroes of Might and Magic IV, which is surprisingly not better than Heroes of Might and Magic III

 Dusk falls on even the best of times, and we had to bid goodbye and shove off for home.