Tuesday, 2 September 2014

take note

To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;
Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.
Four times the spoon with oil from Lucca brown,
And twice with vinegar procured from town;
And, lastly, o'er the flavored compound toss
A magic soupcion of anchovy sauce.
O, green and glorious! O herbaceous treat!
'T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat:
Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
"Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day."

– Sidney Smith, "Recipe for a Salad"

Knocked the wind out of me

... this.

the hard season
split you through.
do not worry.
you will bleed water.
do not worry.
this is grief.
your face will fall out and down your skin
there will be scorching.
but do not worry.
keep speaking the years from their hiding places.
keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have
keep the rage tender.
because the soft season will come.
it will come.
both hands in your chest.
up all night.
up all of the nights.
to drink all damage into love.
- nayyirah waheed, 'therapy'

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Like juggling

... sometimes there's  domino effect. You drop one thing and all the rest comes crashing down. Times like this you need to know what's solid ground - what you can count on to prop you up.

Sometimes it's not the intent but the execution. Some people have good bedside manners, and some not so much so - perhaps that's all. 

How much of it is in my mind

... and I've always struggled to be all here. It occurred to me that you must be very good at that: steadfastly seeing only what is in front of you, what needs to be done. I do wonder though - if my mind works a different way, is there also some reason for that?

From "A 500 Mile Solo Hike Put an End to my Loneliness":

Expectations certainly played a role. At home in Wyoming, I anticipated regular social interaction. So if someone turned down a dinner invitation, or I failed to make plans on a Saturday night, I felt lonely. Smiling selfies that friends posted on Facebook triggered a sense of envy. And when peers chattered about visits with their parents, the emptiness inside me ached. I wished I could show my mother the life I’d built for myself in Wyoming. I missed her stalwart encouragement, and the snail-mail cards she used to send just to say, “I love you.” I longed to go home to her at Christmas.

On the trail, it was different. I knew I was going to be alone; I wanted to be alone—I wanted space to hear myself think. I felt no pressure to make plans, and no self-pity about eating dinner by myself. On the contrary: I treasured the solitude. I woke up when I wanted to, took breaks when my blisters demanded, walked at my own pace, and camped when I was tired. In the mornings I woke between 5am and 6am and savored the silence as I watched the red glow of dawn inch its way over the horizon. And as I walked along alpine ridges, gazing at emerald valleys and elegant peaks, I marveled at having these enchanting places to myself.


But there was another reason our encounters were so fulfilling: distractions were nonexistent. There were no text messages or emails to interrupt us; no one was worrying about places they had to be, or things they had to do tomorrow. They weren’t preoccupied with people who weren’t there. Some hikers didn’t even bring their cell phones on the trail. We were there together, in the moment, fully engaged. And we listened—really listened—to what others had to say. These were true conversations.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

I have a feeling

... that this is going to be one of the more strange ones.

But it's good practice isn't it, for not jumping to conclusions. So here's to staying positive and thinking good thoughts. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Balancing Act

It's hard to know when it's a reason and when it's an excuse. It's hard to know when to cut some slack and when to push on. It's hard to know when to pull socks up and when to fall apart.

Sometimes I remember the ping of the microwave as another bowl of canned soup is warm. When I did nothing but eat and sleep for days.


The Wedding Banquet and The Ice Storm, which I first encountered as a book. I think I like them for the same reason. 

"So please be kind... if I'm a mess"

Some days shouldn't exist.

When my friend was suicidal during college, we had a system. Instead of asking "how are you?" I would just ask for status, and he would give me something from 0 to 100. 100 is "Happy", 0 is "I should be dead". It saved a lot of pussyfooting around.

Here's today's status: 30. 

Some days I wake up and know that it's hell. It's like an inexplicable cloud that rolls in overhead, or some unwelcome guest who breaks down the door. Yesterday I spent the whole day with a knot in my throat - feeling like I'm always close to tears. This morning I woke up crying because sometimes I hurt in an unquantifiable way, somewhere that doesn't exist. It's scary because I don't know how to fix it, and I'm used to thinking that I can fix everything.

This unhappiness is like a chronic illness. Over the years it's gotten better (I spend at most a few days sad, rather than a year). But I admit (reluctantly) that I am a long way from being whole.

Whenever I get like this I lose hold of the things that I believe to be true. I feel deeply broken. I feel like a burden. I feel like the people I love deserve better (everyone, I think, deserves to date a normal girl. not someone like me). I feel like a liability, lurching and reeling, constantly in need of propping up.

Or maybe what I need is a place to fall apart.

I spent the morning at home, doing everything painfully and slowly (head pounding and eyes stinging, because you know, crying is an exhausting business). Dog and I went to the park and I sat for a long time, watching him watching me (trying to work out why I took him there but won't play with him). Then I went home, got dressed, and went back to normal (what else could I do?).

Except of course the flip side of normal (hurt/sad) is just as before. It's like a problem I need time to solve. Bashing my head against it right now won't help (learned that. the. hard. way.)

Mostly I want to know if you could love someone if they are say, as damaged as me.

Other than that I am good. I can carry on.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Four things from this morning

... which relate to other things from a few days ago. But one thing at a time.

  1. It's like a having a chronic illness. Sometimes I wake up and know that today it's just going to take it out of me.
  2. Maybe we crawl so far just to find a safe place to fall apart.
  3. Can't just sew it up (there's no going back). 
  4. I forget the fourth one. But that's ok, it'll come back to haunt me for sure (haha)
Only just taking notes down, that's all. 

Monday, 25 August 2014


"now listen to me honey while I say. How could you tell me that you're going away? Don't say that we must part. Don't break my aching heart. You know I love you truly many years. I've loved you night and day. How could you say it to me honey, can't you see my tears? Now you listen what I say... "

{Fiona Apple, "After you've gone"}

It has been suggested...

"you gotta go to Austria and try a proper one...... I mean the Strudel... though you can try an Austrian too if you find a fitting one of course... a Konditor... so you can have strudel and him..." 

I must say this sounds like an attractive proposition.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sunday, 17 August 2014



Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Nice and depressing, just the way we like it

"I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any-after all, most people are unhappy, don't you think? Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth." - Philip Larkin

grape vines and lullabies

When I was small (like, less than five years old), we lived in central Taipei with my grandparents and my father's siblings and their families. The house had maybe three or five floors, and my grandfather owned the whole building, so we could run around on every floor. 

On the rooftop there was a garden with grape vines and a rope swing. When my brother and I were kids my father used to play the guitar and sing for us and he wrote us songs. He wrote me a lullaby that him and my mother used to sing to me - it mentions the grapes on the rooftop, ripening as I slept. 

When I was eight I had my kidney surgery and I was in the hospital for about two months, constantly in pain. My mother would sing me that lullaby in the hospital room to put me to sleep.