Friday, 27 November 2009

Curious how it just so happens that today is Thanksgiving

Walking home holding a box full of hot Mediterranean food and anticipating stuffing my face when I got back... Suddenly overtaken by the realization of how fortunate I am to be able to just have food whenever I am hungry. Thank you, Lord, tonight the fallafels feed my soul.

Enough already.

Too much whinging & the likes here. Let's pull the ol' sock up, shall we?
Aye, 'bout time.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Quite suddenly...

I remembered Yakushima and the daily routine. You getting up before dawn and riding away to visit the monkeys. Me staying in bed till I couldn't sleep any more. Spending the whole day at home by myself doing the laundry and other chores. Making lunch (always miso soup with something else), reading the notes that I had photocopied and brought with me from Edinburgh (Stevenson and also a lot of Troilus & Criseyde, wasn't it?). Going around taking photographs of clothes drying on the hangers outside for the lack of anything better to do. Reading Bill Bryson.

When you came home we'd always walk to the only shop in the village together. I'd buy some kind of snack and sometimes the lady in the shop would give us little things (a packet of salt made on the island, some special rice). Flowers occasionally, or pomkam from the roadside stalls. Then we'd go and walk along the beach and pick up drift wood and beach glass and anything else that lay at our feet. Remember how we used to make up things to do to pass the time? Coming up with probability problems to solve or watching your endless supply of pirated films? (oh and we had that REALLY big fight over Serenity) Dinner for two in the living room on the low table - always more miso soup and some kind of fish.

Strange to think of it now, so much has changed.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The things we cannot help

... even if we wished that everything were different.
still i have to turn your pictures upside down so I never see you again.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The kind of person I am...

Yesterday I pulled out a vintage bed-sheet that I had shipped back from the UK. I'm the kind of person, apparently, who likes to sleep on vintage sheets and does not mind shipping them from one continent to another. It cos 2.99 pds, with the Oxfam price tag still on it - so I never used it while I was there. It's very thick. I made my bed with precise folded corners, held together on the underside of the mattress with two safety pins in each corner. Then I pulled out some some pillow cases - also vintage. I put my IKEA pillow into a linen pillow protector (just an extra pillowcase that is unadorned) and then into a white cotton Oxford pillowcase with a trim.

As I was doing all this I wondered if others also take their bed linen across oceans. I'm particular about the quality of bed linen, and find vintage ones better value for money and usually more aesthetically pleasant. In Taiwan I still have a very large queen-sized linen top sheet embroidered with pale pink cherry blossoms across the the top edge (from Paddy's shop). One day when I have a queen-sized bed (and hopefully someone to share it with), I will enjoy it to a disproportionate degree. I'll probably even blog about it.

Monday, 2 November 2009


With the help of good people I have now arrived in my new home in The Beach (or The Beaches, depending on who you talk to). It's an area down near the lake-front in Toronto - like a little village of its own. Loads of nice shops, coffee places, restaurants, beautiful homes, families, dogs, and parks. I'm just around the corner from a coffee shop with wifi, next to a decent looking pub, a bookstore, a library, and 5 minutes from the boardwalk by the water.

A part of me can't quite believe my luck, having arrived here.

Just a bit ago I was at home, unpacking my boxes. Three of them were packed up in June in Oxford and had been sitting at my previous address in Toronto for two months while I hunted for flats and waited to move. As I hung up the clothes from the UK with my stash which had been left behind in Toronto I felt these two phases of my life converge. It's strange now to think of myself as split only between two places - Taipei and Toronto, rather than three (Edinburgh/Oxford, Taipei, Toronto).

Obviously I'm not actually split into two or three chunks - but the distribution of my worldly possessions is effectively a scattering of my life. I guess the flow of my material life reflects my wanderings, and are the most tangible signs of my 'belonging' in one place or another.

More than anything else it feels like my stint as a foreign student in the UK has now most definitely come to an end. I am (in part) sad to see it go, but I am also glad to have signed a one year lease and happy to know that I can stay put at least for a while. Removing myself from the goal-oriented, secure, and surprisingly unchanging routine of academia (with its own seasonal cycles complete with deadlines and parties and expectations), has been really difficult. Often I feel disoriented and uncertain of myself - if I am working hard enough, or even working at the right things. Without termly assessment & feedback, how am I to measure my achievement (if any) and performance? (rhetorical question). It's like the structures which held the shape of life together has fallen away and I have to personally make sure that things are held together through my own devices.

Undoubtedly this is a feeling I will grow accustomed to...

Here are some photos to share with you.

A beautiful late autumn street scene, just down the road from where I live.

This amazing house has a metal installation around the porch. I think it is a version of Hokusai's painting of waves. I was ever so impressed.

A marvellous vintage truck parked outside the greengrocer's. Made me think of my friend Paul from London, who's very into dancing balboa, and vintage trucks.

Now for a little tour around my studio flat/bachelor apartment.

The entry way, with some of my shoes lined up, a closet, and my hatbox.

A part of the main room, with a low table, various possessions, and Richard's boater hanging on a picture-hook.

My closet. It's a little on the narrow side. I found some clothes that Maria gave me when I was packing - which I had previously forgotten about. Thanks Maria! Those woollen things will come in handy now :)

Here's the other side of the main room, with my computer desk (sans computer), my lamp, bed, and my free standing shelf where I keep all my art/craft supplies.

Finally, my dinky kitchen and bathroom. I can't stand up straight in my bathroom - the floor is raised (not sure why). It's very cramped, but I am definitely smaller than the previous tenant, so I'm sure I'll manage.

Please, do come and visit.