/ livet /

remaining days

hi. it's been a while since last time. like usual. this has also been among my drafts for like a month now. like usual. 
 
i need to write. too many thoughts whirling my mind, crowding my head. nothing seems clear, path too rowdy, as if densly covered with mud with fog with a heavy gray cloud that dims my eyesight no it’s not even that i don't know what it is but it’s all in my head;

it’s all in my head.

my hands have been itching to write; itching to pour out; itching to do. itching to let go; to not think. an abundance of emotion. a reluctance of the recurrance of routine. yet an appreciation of habits, an acceptance of the repeating, the rhythm, and the recital of everyday life. only 63 days left.  (lol i've been trying to get this post out in the world for 25 days. that's great. it's 38 days left now. fuk)
 
#1: hufflepunks and dinosaur nuggets (february 28)
 
ah, yule ball. high heels and fancy dresses and sparkly eyeshadows and the flashing lights from the cameras. omara, matias, iqbaal, and zohar perform the beatles and the whole dining hall becomes reminiscent of the old days; as if we were too old to not look back on when things were better; calmer. and then
 
yule ball- after party. theme? harry potter dorms. josefine has posted a house quiz on facebook. i end up getting hufflepuff. "of course you're a hufflepuff", says zsuzsa over my shoulder, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. as if there was nothing she expected more. or less. "i knooow. i'm such a hufflepuff. it's so boring", i say. "they're like nice, but...boring". "no, they're not!" shouts avital across the corridor. "they're just not given that much attention". i smile and retreat back into my room; door still half-open; running inbetween rooms. as always.

i put on zsuzsa’s mustard t-shirt and those old black denim shorts that i thrifted at södra esplanaden years ago. they didn’t fit well back then but they fit well now. i wear them with fishnet tights and a black belt. ”i just wanna look punk” i say as zsuzsa and avi swing left and right entering my room. ”hufflepunk”, libbie exclaims from the other side. i shriek because it's perfect. ”YEAH! HUFFLEPUFF’S DON’T NEED TO BE BORING! YOU CAN BE NICE AND PUNK!!!” i shout. zsuzsa and avital laugh. a typical kili south borderline breakdown.

and then carlie’s familiar blue lights and the circle of family. almost like routine. (but why?) i try to run the hufflepunk joke but it doesn’t work. ”that’s not funny”, josefine replies instead. harshly. ouch. we talk about things that don't matter, joke about old memories and the time we've spent together, the memories warming us up, seeping through our veins bursting into a fluster of giggles, and

next thing i know i'm in kili hallway with zsuzsa and avital. it's not even midnight but i've abandoned the party for my pink bed sheets and a good night's sleep. except in the corridor on the way to my room are my two best friends, avital with a hand on z's shoulder, and z with puffy cheeks and glossy eyes. avital is leaning her back against the wall, her sequin dress bluer than ever in the yellow lights of the hallway. she looks like a fallen hero. i can't get that image out of my head.

we go to the dayroom, heat up nuggets, and then josefine comes. anchor comes. benja comes. carlie comes. and i think to myself "wow, i can't believe we all just randomly ended up here together. this is nice". and then i think to myself "wow, i have no desire to be here at all". and next thing i know i'm the one crying in the hallway.

it ends up being a confusing night. the first of many spiralling down into hopelessness; heavyness; heftiness. 

#2: splash on the pavement, smell of wet asphalt (march 28)
 
for some bizarre reason i decided to set my alarm for 6:50, giving me exactly seven hours and thirty-one minutes of sleep. my alarm goes off at 6:31. seven hours and four minutes. i fumble for my phone but it's lying screen down on my carpeted floor. floor carpeted with the most ugly blend of blues and whites and making the contrast against my cream yellow walls even worse. and on top of it a pile of clothes. black and whites against blend of blue. running shorts that i used for climbing three days in a row. t-shirts that i slept in and didn't bother to get out of when i had to get up and go to class in the morning. three different crop tops because maybe one of them won't make me look fat. the third of lázaro's sweaters, big and comfortable as always. stolen three days ago and worn ever since. i run into him on my way down from dinner. "why are you wearing my hoodie, again..?" he tries to sound angry. "it smells good. plus it looks good on me" i answer back. he stops holding back his smile and gives me a hug. "everything looks good on you" he says and continues walking. what's for dinner?" he turns around. "pizza!" i smirk. "oooh". and then he turns around again. lázaro. my best friend. unconditional love. your hoodie smells good. plus it looks good on me. and it feels safe and comfortable and serene and now it's on top of my clothing pile next to my bed that i can't get up from at 6.31 in the morning. like a cloak of comfort that i can drown myself in.
 
i can't even remember why i put my alarm at 6:50. i think it was so i could take a shower and be at breakfast a little past seven so i could study until my first class at eight. but at 6:31 in the morning it all seems irrational. i open up my phone and read a text from my dad "just be calm, you're good enough". i swallow the lump in my throat and throw my phone back on the floor. blend of blue with blacks and whites on top of it. i never want to get out of bed. i feel so heavy.
 
i end up at breakfast at 7:24. i'm gonna learn integrals but i finish 'a wild sheep chase' instead, and then i fall asleep in anthropology. perpetually tired. seven hours and four minutes and i fall asleep in my first class. how did i even survive my first year? how did i survive averaging literally five hours of sleep every night? i'm getting old. i skip assembly and lay in my bed for three hours instead. i do nothing. it seems to have become the most terrible habit of mine. i lay in bed and then i can't get up. and the clock goes on and on and on. tik tok tik tok like nothing ever matters like everything will pass,
 
some day. when i look up at my window, three raindrops have splashed against it. raindrops tracing lines down the windowpane. the sky is white for the first time in a long time. like the endless clear blue sky got exchanged for one endless off-white cloud. as i open my window it smells of rain. splash on the pavement, smell of wet asphalt. and the world shone moistly. i walk into english with a seven minute tardy.
 
-
 
it's been a gloomy past couple of days. "haha i keep getting rejection letters" i type nonchanantly in our family chat. "haha". as if it's funny. as if i don't care. "haha". my best attempt at trying to brush off. it's not really working. "it's okay, just take it as it comes" answers my brother. 
 
i think back on third semester. i re-visit my playlist, filled with skepta and tyler the creator and m.i.a and i try to do work. it doesn't work. i think back on how diligent i was with my studies, on how structured i was with my time. how i could spend hours in the IT doing work and how good i would feel about myself. how i could be up at breakfast at 7am sharp and be productive until morning code. what happened? and why does it even matter anyway? all for nothing.
 
-
 
i wonder if the reason i'm so tired all the time is because of relapse. because depression is slowly sneaking its way back from underneath the covers, pulling me down into listlessness, emptiness, indifference. as if nothing really matters. because that's what it feels like. nothing is fun anymore. route-setting is a shit show. i can hardly get myself out of bed for retro party. when avital and anchor and carlie and zsuzsa jam out in the dayroom, waiting for cookies in the oven, i can't smile. i'm too stuck in my own mind. too stuck for my own good. just stuck. can't move. can't do anything. can't even get out of bed.
 
-
 
as i walk up to lunch with mihir, i can't help but stare down the rain on the stairs. the gray cement soaking every drop of it, devouring the rain as if there was nothing else it could do. i guess there is nothing else it could do, because it's fucking cement so what does it matter anyway, but the devouring of rain as it falls and then the sitting around waiting for it to seep through. waiting for it to turn the entire step into the same dark beige as its top part. as if the middle of the step's fate is inevitable, because the rain doesn't stop at the top. the puddles on the top are slowly but surely finding their way down to the middle. not with the same rigorous devouring as the top part, but steadily. as if time will take its time and that's just how it is. inevitable. 
 
just like a tragic hero.
just like me.
 
as we walk up the path, the smell of wet hay hits us. "at least we have nice weather today" says mihir. "i hate the rain", i answer back. "fair enough", he replies. and then we continue walking in silence. the smell of hay doesn't leave me until long after it's stopped drizzling. can't stop thinking about the smell of wet asphalt that surrounds my neighborhood in the summer. the pavement heated up during the day and cooled down by the rain in the evening, as if good things can't last. as if everything has to fall back to its original state, one way or another. 
 
just like me.
 
#3: weltschmertz (april 2)
 
i've spent a lot of time thinking of leaving this place for the past couple of weeks. it seems like all my posts in one way or another always turn back to the inevitability of the fact that we're leaving. that things will never be the same after this. that some of the people that i've met i will never see again. it comes in waves. and i'm not sure how i feel about it all. most of all it scares me. a lot.
 
i sit on the bus back from walmart one day and we drive down hot springs boulevard as the sky is getting darker, finally setting in an unsaturated blue. i don't know what it is but it always hits me driving back to campus from places. driving back from santa fe in the sunset coming back from an art trip. the last beams of the sun hitting the pale orange adobe houses. the three hour drive from the airport back and the turn-off past the post-office after weeks of not being on campus. and driving back from walmart, past luna, past the youth detention center, past the trailers and horses and dogs and the beautiful new mexican palette flashing past the window. the red hues of the mesas and the endless variations of green from the forest, the leaves left after the fall of baby pink cherry blossoms, and the dirty pale yellow that is the dryness of the desert.
 
i'm going to miss montezuma so much. our oasis in the middle of nowhere, with our rust colored castle and our secrets hidden in the fourth floor. the path surrounded by wet hay in the spring and orange flowers in late summer, with the last brick saying "to hell" that i only noticed a couple of months ago. i will miss the view coming down from dinner on late summer evenings, breeze still warm and the color in the sky changing every minute, as if its constantly in motion, as if it can't decide; its gradient falling heavy on the silhouette of las vegas. and i will miss sitting outside the chapel, seeing the sun hit the top of the pine trees and hiking up to the edge of the hill, looking out over sebastian canyon as the sky turns lavender purple. i will miss the lights from the dorm windows, walking across campus in the middle of the night. the blues and the greens and the reds and the music from portable speakers surrounded by the laughter of familiar faces on a clear day weekend afternoon.
 
soon it will all be gone. just like how the days spent in cafés with aleksander and nights biking down hardeberga with leo and evenings on linnéa's porch all disappeared too. but not really. because i guess lund is home, for real. because i guess i can come back to lund and feel like nothing's changed. but this feels like home too. except this home isn't forever. this home changes every two years. this home will never be the same and the next time i come here, come home, it won't be. it won't be home. not anymore. it can never be.
 
#4: the hopelessness of soul-searching (april 4)
 
i started meditating. and reading self-help books. who would have thought? "i despise myself" i type to mihir. i really do. 
 
we hold expressions for our first years. it's an evening full of jokes that wouldn't make sense in any other context than here but that are still intensly funny. or at least it seemed like it in the moment. me and zsuzsa and avital have created the absolute crappiest dorm video ever and when no one understands our 'eggsistensial eggs'-scene i can't stop laughing. it's so ridiculously bad and there's no one else to blame. i'm sorry, kili firsties. at least now you have incentive to do something great. 
 
and then, the standing on stage. me and all my co-years, together. finding our roommates in the blur of the auditorium and giving them a bunch of notes; written as tools of procrastination, as messages of devotion, as indications of friendship, as expressions of love. and then the handing out of hugs, finding the right people to embrace, maybe shedding a tear or two, yada yada. except not this time. not at all.
 
i find libbie and give her a hug. and then i retreat back to the front of the stage. passively watching the event before my eyes. i feel strangely detached from it all. i think back to last year, to last year's expressions, to how much i cried, about how emotional i got, about how it had hit me: it was only 50 days left. it's only 50 days left now. yet, i feel nothing. i hand out hugs and i tell people i'm going to miss them but my being there seems to be mostly duty. 
 
and then we end up in grace's room. me and the girls. and we talk about the days we have left. and zsuzsa comes in after having just talked to another firstie in despair, that was crying over the fact that we are all leaving. "at least you have another year", i want to tell her. but it isn't as easy as that, i guess. wasn't for us last year either. until it was. anyhow, zsuzsa comes in and she says that she's so incredibly grateful for having us and the support system we have and that's when it hits me. how much i'll miss these girls and this place and new mexico. and how strange it's going to be living without them. never even struck me that i won't have zsuzsa and avital next door in less than 50 days. never even struck me that lázaro won't be a barefoot run away to hug me when i'm sad. never even struck me that some of these people i will never see again. and never ever in the same context. when will we all be together again? maybe never. ouch.
 
and then, self-help books and meditation. who am i trying to kid?
 
#5: whatever (april 10)
 
it's friday when i open up my art show. it's 5:58pm and i'm setting up the last part of my exhibition, putting up my curatorial rationale on the wall and opening up the door. at 6:02 i'm down in the art room, hastily grabbing cookies and devouring grape fruit juice, all out of nervosity. my peers have done a great job and i can't help but smile as i enter the art room; what used to be ours. what used to be our own personal little corner filled with intimacy and personality. now it's turned into an exhibition space, the walls newly painted and the floor scrubbed clean. no longer coffee grounds and newspaper cut-outs on the floors. no longer push-pinned notes on the walls. instead a clinical white, yet so much charm. i wander across, admiring ryusei's diligently carved plaster balls, and zsuzsa's huge acrylic djungle painting that she finally finished. it looks great and it impresses me so much, even though she hates it herself. anna's wood work looks amazing spraypainted in metallics and put on the walls, and karen's colorful acrylic portraits instantly triggers warmth in my heart and a smile on my face.
 
at 6:20, i drag mihir with me upstairs. i'm so nervous. nervous because my space is so different; nervous that no one will understand; nervous that it's too intimate; nervous that it's too open. nervous that it's not going to be what i want it to. when we get up there, alexis is wandering around the art space. "i love this, anneli!" she exclaims. my heart flutters. me and mihir make coffee in avital's french press that i've placed on nacho's coffee table in my art space, along with cups and my writings and soon other people start dropping in. "can i touch this?" they say. or "is it okay if i open this?". "yes" i answer to it all. "yes, that's the point. look through whatever you want". on the desk is my planner, with one-liners for each day. when nour finds it he says "oohh... are you sure i can look through this?" and me, panicked for having been stupid enough to put my heart on the line "that's pretty personal, but yeah. i don't care". that's the point.
 
as people start dropping in, things start feeling better. at one point i'm standing by the desk, talking with doug about murakami. isaac is sitting in the armchair reading my writings, drinking coffee. by the desk is benedetta looking through my journals. nacho enters and hints a smile. i smile back. this is good. this is exactly what i wanted it to be. i wanted people to come in and interact with the space. i wanted people to come in and feel something...else. something different. like they were immersed in something that they shouldn't be. like they were immersed in a perfect inbalance between private and the public. the personal and the mutual. discomfort.
 
(#5.5: curatorial rationale)

although having experimented with different media throughout these two years, my works have always related back to the theme of identity; or the lack of it. throughout my life, I have always felt in-between. growing up Chinese in Sweden often made me question myself — from the naive questions of my youth, wondering why I didn’t look alike anyone else, to the more complex ones of adolescence, questioning cultural values and external influences. these questions often led me nothing other than what came to be an intrinsic insecurity; a tsunami of self-doubt; a perpetuation of indecision; a venture into vulnerability. this exhibition is about that, and the feeling it brings me. it’s about process rather than the finished product, and the byproducts I leave behind and the story they tell. this exhibition is an exploration of self; an investigation of me; a search for I.

my three self-portraits focus on what it means to be part of the human condition when you feel half, or split in two. i tried to explicitly show this feeling by slicing my face as in ’Self, II’, or distorting part of it as in ’Self, I’. my intention was to disturb the viewer, and make them question why; just like how I many times question why I have always felt in-between — and how that feeling has been established through the judgement of others. I started realizing that more often than not, I let other people define me. ’an ode to boys’ is a further commentary on that; a ripping apart of expectations and judgements. a defining of myself, by myself.

as I explored this theme deeper, I started noticing the feeling that this intrinsic insecurity gave me. it instantly reminded me of mornings when I have not yet had my coffee; of the hazy mind that surrounds me as I get out of bed; of not being able to be fully awake; alert; alive; and how coffee many times helps me break through that feeling. 

and so I started working with it.

my relationship with coffee has almost become one of dependency, and incorporating it into my art has been a symbol of freeing my mind, getting rid of distress; breaking through what seems a shadow of reality — a slumberous haze, where mind wanders, hopelessly.

my first coffee exploration really related to that feeling, as it is a series of doodles that i did during distress. finished, I put them on the floor and poured coffee over them, splashing it all over the floor, staining the pieces, and making the ink bleed. this became a physical illustration of coffee seeping through the distress I feel and adjusting my mood. it was also a breaking through of mental barriers, since I had no idea what was going to come out of it and for once had to deal with the unexpected.

and after that came a flood of coffee creations. paintings stained with coffee (such as ’monsteras & distress’ and a self-portrait in the form of a coffee cup (’never half full’); all to further the idea of coffee as breaking through that feeling that the intrinsic insecurity gives me.

another big aspect of my art has been the process of works, and the remains left behind. after having studied On Kawara, i became obsessed with the idea of mapping; tracing remains. i started taking photos of my first cup of coffee every morning in combination with the time they were finished. and then I started writing down the names of every person i talk to each day. although seemingly meaningless collections of data, there must be something that can be told about me through the traces I leave. through the time I finish my first cup of coffee each morning, to the people I talk to each day. somewhere in-between, there must be an essence of sorts.

inspired by the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe — a 20,000 square feet exhibition where the viewer is immersed into a storyline — I then decided to set up my exhibition like a room. I want the viewer to enter the space and feel as if she just walked in on something; as if she is immersed in something different. maybe that essence I’m talking about. the me. I deliberately decided to include all the detritus I have accumulated over the past two years; post-it notes, newspaper cut-outs, coffee brews, and writings. I also decided to integrate music as it personally has played a big role in setting atmosphere, my journals (where I also keep track of my mood, coffee habits, and sleep every day), as well as photos from my youth as a storyline running through the exhibition. these things show the remains of true events that have left an impact on me, much like every other thing I experience in life. much like the content of my show, my curation is about process, about the unfinished, and about leaving behind. an exposé of me. 

 

#6: ??? (april 12)

it's starting to feel like last year again. the golden daze of cancelled classes and warm evenings soaking in the hot springs. the heady smell of lilacs against the pale blue sky, and the aftermath of cherry blossom petals sprinkling pink on the pavements; victims of last week's snow fall. and the confused despair of trying to make the most out of every single moment. yet i find myself wanting to be alone, a lot. i find myself wanting to read, wanting to write, wanting to climb, wanting to... take care of myself. alone. 

maybe it's some sort of defense mechanism. like a preparation for what's coming up. for graduation, and the life that will follow after that. like a coping with a problem before it's even occured. preparation, preventation; solicitude. maybe if i voluntarily distance myself enough from people it won't hurt as bad when we are distanced from each other, involuntarily. i don't know. i wonder.

-

i talk to avital about that. about how it feels like this time last year, again. about how suddenly there are so many things that seemed like the most obvious and natural and taken for granted things ever that need to be crammed into the 38 days we have left. like hiking up to the cross again, biking into town, going to storrie lake, stargazing at the water reservoir, climbing roofs, late night conversations on the path, on the rocks, in the hot springs. things that were exciting during orientation and that have since then always been a "we'll just do it another day", that we just... won't be able to do, another day. because there is no other day than here and now. and that's a strange thought in itself. 

-

there are many things that i want to say to a lot of different people. words in form of emotions, feelings; things that cannot find their way out of my body, out of my mind. that can't be formulated. mostly gratitude, thankfulness, admiration. like how i want to express how much mihir means to me and how much i love him and have always done. or how grateful i am that libbie is my roommate even though i suck and feel myself retreating into some deep hole of solitude and isolation. or andrew and doug for being like the best adults i've ever met in my entire life. and hugh for making me question everything, even though everything he says always comes out as definite and undubitable even though it's not. and avital for being an inspiration and zsuzsa for having so much compassion. but i don't know how.

i had a weird moment yesterday where i woke up way too late, went up to the cafeteria to study, and stayed there for four hours with only half a biology packet done. instead i found myself just looking at people. and listening to shout out louds. but mostly just looking at people. listening to conversations by reading facial expressions around tables from afar, seeing people walking in and out together, teachers sitting down at student tables. and then i found myself alone, grinning like an idiot in the back of the caf. another moment when it hit me again; how much i like the people here. how much i enjoy seeing them happy, even from afar. even just observing. how it warms my heart seeing people interact in the special way that they do here. because it is, special. i can't describe it. probably couldn't even if i tried really hard. and then i feel the lump growing in my throat and although smiling my eyes are tearing up. i can't believe i'm leaving all of this. 

when i skype my parents one week my dad asks me to actually figure out what i think about uwc. somehow i always forget that the only times my parents hear from me is when we skype, once a week, an hour on sunday mornings. and depending on my mood, i'll be either hating this place or loving it. "i'm just honestly really confused" my dad says. it makes me sad but it also makes a lot of sense. i hate this place and i love it at the same time. there's nothing more to it than that. 

/ livet /

life round here

i've been trying to draft a blog post for the longest time now. already have a half-finished post among my drafts but it all just fell into pieces. i hope my creative block would do the same. i need to write now. need to pour out everything inside me. apathy deciphered into math class with tears in my eyes. haven't felt this way in a long time. 
 
#1: it's february and spring is right around the corner
 
back home, february is snow melting as it hits the ground; an ice cold wind unraveling my scarf as i trudge through the slush to get to the bus station, too lazy to bike into town. it is spending afternoons huddled in cafés with a cup of black coffee, too cheap to get anything fancier. it is waking up before the sun and getting home after it sets, my exposed ankles numb from the wind hitting the signature roll-up of my black jeans. it is the gray and the black and the whites surrounding the pastel pink houses in my quaint little university town that i love so much. lund and my sheltered winters, my humble protections found in the soothing chatter from the café sofas and the clatter of shiny wet dr. martens through slush. wool mittens and rosy cheeks, and
 
the eternal wait for the brightness of spring, with its chirping birds and stopping by the pink cherry blossoms in lundagård on my way back from school; the pink petals falling slowly to the ground in the low afternoon sun. the breeze still chilly but the pink whirl an indicator of rebirth; a hint of happiness. a reminder that the outdoor serving outside ariman will soon be filled; behind it a crowd soaking the day's last sunlight behind domkyrkan. that the indecisiveness in glasskulturen and the sitting on stortorget will come again. and the walking home barefoot in the 4am sunrise. a reminder that happier days are to come.
 
it is a sunday afternoon when i talk about this with simen. simen, my little norwegian firstie that i love so much. that offers me espresso at 10pm and comes over with honey-spread bread. that never fails to listen and that looks out for me. his constantly worried look and fluffy hair and "hvordan går det?" in the hallways. it is a sunday afternoon and i have just watched him play the golden goal in frisbee, tired after a 6h climbing day developing a new area by the wifi boulders. "i think a lot of my mood depends on the weather", he says. i look out on the sunny campus benches outside his window; the new mexican sun faithful to its bright blue backdrop. i nod.
 
i always seem to write about the montezuma sky; its orange sunrises and lavender sunsets. its clear blue sky above days soaking on the field and the milky way during late summer nights on the water reservoir. there is nothing i love more.
 
in montezuma, february is that cloudless sky with a blazing sun that shines its morning beams through the blinds of my windows. it is a sky always clear blue, but now somehow brighter, bluer, and broader. or so it feels. it is the warm breeze cooling down the gap between my tennis skirt and crop top and lying on the sunkissed floor in my room, eating nectarines with libbie. it is walking across campus, murakami book in hand and annika norlin's lyricism streaming through my headphones on repeat; romanticizing my dull everyday life. it is the changing outfits five times a day because, still not having mastered the art of layering clothes that is required in the desert. and the afternoon light hitting the tall tree tops behind the castle; their shadows stretching over the trail like an abstract painting. it is a campus livelier than ever, with music streaming out the windows and bare legs running to class.
 
yet, getting out of bed deems a five-star mission. 
 
#2: montezuma you're changing, and so am I
 
i've been climbing a lot lately. spent every single afternoon with chalky hands and a determined mind. 
 
i've missed the outside. have spent too much time butt in chair and pen in hand. i've missed the frisk air and the chirping birds and the sunlight sipping through from behind the boulders. i've missed hiking muddy trails with feet covered in my old nike's, the ones with the right sole burnt off from that wilderness bonfire somewhere sometime. that bonfire that i miss so much. have never longed for wilderness as much as i have now; craving the freedom it has to offer. i've even missed the dry thorny bushes crowding the trails and the prickly pears around every corner. and every other beautiful plant that the high desert has to offer.
 
i've missed long afternoons spent in the woods; chalk in my backpack and scraped up hands hugging the cold rocks. peeling pistachios and drinking coffee on top of sunny boulders, getting to know selina. rushing down hills in the sunset with hugh, talking about cities and indifference and cosmopolitanism. listening to andrew's crazy stories, mocking pro-climbers and stompy bouldering guys, his sunshine in form of a black dog licking me in the face. the bonds and the people and the smiles they put on my face, but also
 
being alone. truly alone. leaning my back against our own little legacy -- the wifi boulders; reading among the pine cones, listening to the gust of wind invade the trees above me. a determination to finish a project and warming my feet in my backpack inbetween climbs. tyler the creator in my headphones, and hiking down with scraped up legs and bruises forming purple galaxies on my knees. 
 
and then coming back to
 
laughter and frisbee throwing on the field. t-shirts and shorts weather and people soaking in the sun. sunglasses covering the traces of unfinished homework and too little sleep. and my own heavy eyelids and cup of black coffee on the field, watching the rugby players as i finish each chapter of the book i'm reading. and to the right, my best friend in his rainbow bucket hat, head buried in catch 22.
 
this is the montezuma i love, and this is the montezuma i missed,
 
but i don't want to be here anymore.
 
#3: on (in)dependency
 
i talk with zsuzsa after biology one day. it's morning break and i'm making coffee. zsuzsa has been talking about leaving ever since our second year started and this day we are talking about it again. at first it broke my heart but now i understand. montezuma is beautiful but its intensity is tearing me down every single day. it's strange getting back into routine again.
 
coming back didn't feel as exciting this time. it felt like coming home, but coming home like you come home every single day, not coming home like coming home after a long break from everything and everyone you love. it felt like coming home to a familiar bed and taking a long nap in solitude. it didn't feel like coming home and hugging your entire family and eating homecooked food for the first time in a long time, and sending out that "GUESS WHO'S BACK!?!??!!?" text message. coming back felt like coming home after a long day of work. all i want to do is lay in my bed. 
 
me and zsuzsa talk about friendships and how they spiralled down into peculiar family ties. it's weird because that seems to be how friendships work here. i try to explain how i've been feeling off lately, that on a superficial level i've seemed to cut off a lot of people from my life but deep inside there is no one i love more than them. there is no one i care more about than them. they are family to me. family i see around every day but also family that i don't necessarily feel the need to be around all the time. that i'll only update maybe once a week; much like how i skype my parents every sunday. except my family here doesn't live 5000 miles away from me and whereas i miss my family back home i have no reason to miss my family here. because they're here, too. yet, there seems to be a trying to get away. a trying to move out. a trying to be independent. perhaps. i don't really know; haven't really figured it out myself yet.
 
and this is what i try to explain to zsuzsa too, as we drink our morning coffee and talk our way through break. i tell her i feel disconnected; dazed; disoriented; and 
 
terribly lonely.
 
and how that somehow ties in to the doormat i braided out of 5 boy t-shirts that i've fallen asleep in many nights. there is something intimate about boy t-shirts; a piece of their identity; a means of self-expression; and drowning in that. drowning in bare skin and wrinkled sheets, a soft snoring in my hair and kisses where my shoulders turn into neck. and waking up embraced by a safe arm and ten fingers intertwined to one; ruffled hair and the little i-just-woke-up smile; tracing jawlines with my finger tips and silently counting birth marks. nights knocking on unfamiliar doors and mornings carefully closing them, walking back to my dorm room before anyone else has woken up. sunlight hitting my abandoned pink moomin bed sheets.  ;
 
a dependency when i promised my self to be independent. a leaning back on when i need to support myself. a getting lost in isolation.
 
me and zsuzsa end up getting to math class 15 minutes late. 
 
#4: a tsunami of self-doubt and how to see in the dark (jan 25th)
 
my friends are getting into college, offers from UK schools, contacted for interviews, and i'm growing increasingly anxious about what the future holds in store for me. i'm incredibly happy for all of them. but, it's hard. i'm stressing out over everything at times like these. it's a down-spiral hell-hole. i don't want to go back to sweden. i don't want to live a stable, ordinary life. i don't want to be content. i don't want to live my life not worrying about anything. i don't want to live my life not working to become better. i don't want to live a life in my comfort zone. i can't go backwards.
 
still the thought is always there. like that's probably what i'll end up doing. suddenly a tsunami of self-doubt, some kind of convincing that 'hey, that's fine too'. some kind of trying to justify a life that i don't want. and then the loveliest mini-guide from my english teacher on how to manage my time and "Fuck college. You're smart, creative and awesome and if they don't want you, then they're deprived and hopless Trump supporters. Let them wallow in that". i'll wallow in that, but
 
i know too little still.
 
-

i spend a lot of time with mihir. he drinks the cold coffee on my window sill and i fill the room with radiohead. i sit in his bed eating indian snacks while he plays the smiths. one day i take a nap while he watches a bon iver live concert by my desk. he leaves a little post it note that says "thanks for the coffee and the company... and for being my friend. - mihir". another day i lie on his chest and cry for the first time in a long time. "i feel so lonely" i tell him. he lets me wet his t-shirt with my tears. "i'm so happy you're still my best friend" i tell him before i leave. i really am.
 
at assembly, president victoria mora is talking about her vision for uwc-usa, for this place and its people. it's a long presentation, filled with repetition of the words "mission alignment". about a vision of living the mission: something that we often seem to forget. something that seems to be too easily pushed away; hid behind; not emphasized enough. i close my eyes as victoria talks about how this school has the potential to be the most important one in the entire united states. how we should be constantly reminded of our mission. VISION and MISSION. "montezuma it is", she says. i open my eyes and i smile. and then she talks about our amazing student body. the strong community. everything that everyone always seem to say about this place. everything that's everything that ever seems to matter. and then mihir texts me:
 
"Fuck this shit
Who did she even talk to
 
I don't see optimism I see people crying in my bed, wanting to go home"
 
and that's part of the story too, and it makes me indescribably sad.
 
because what would i do without you, my magical montezuma with your misty mountain tops and your bright blinking stars from my bedroom window? what would i do if i never got to know you and the warm yellow sunlight that peaks through my blinds and shines on the left side of my bookshelf every morning at 7am? if i never got to know your cream yellow walls that i hate so much? the ones filled with memories from my predescessors and drinking tea with candles lit in the window. the ones that i hate but that i came to love. the ones that i made my own.
 
what if i never got to have that discussion on the dwan light with mihir two years ago? the one on the night of a day it had just rained, where we talked about free will and the size of the universe. the one that introduced a best friend and his nihilism; the one that led to lots of music recommendations, complaints about life, and sitting in the MB stairs.
 
and what if i never got to go on that hike in the middle of the night? the one with lázaro leading the way. what if i never got to spend 12 days in wilderness with him? what if i never got to know my favorite little mexican? the one that comes with on 7am walks with lulu and sits on the end of my bed and talks about life. the one that gives the warmest hugs and the worst cuddles. my best friend.
 
and what if i never got to know libbie and her wool socks+birkenstocks combo? how she's put up with me for half a year now, and how grateful i am to have her as my roommate. what if i never got to know her and her snyde comments at boys? her presence lighting up my life. coffee crisp, hand-made stickers and the cutest christmas decorations; and her laughter filling up the room.
 
and what if i never got to know the girls: my saviors, my best friends, my sisters. what if i never got to know the empowerment of sisterhood and the love shared during midnight-tea conversations? how else would i know how to love so deeply.
 
montezuma, sometimes i lay in my bed unable to get up. sometimes i lay in my bed wanting to go home. but oh montezuma, you are home. and what would i do without you?
 
/ livet /

on the three past weeks and the year that passed

it's time for the yearly reflection. the one written traveling in solitude, crossing oceans, finding homes on different continents. it's 2017. another year has passed.
 
sigh.
 
i read through my 2016 diary. 41 pages in a locked up word document. 16 681 words on life. thoughts and reflections-- and feelings. lots of feelings. i read through it all and i can't believe that it all happened during one single year. it felt like a lifetime. at the same time it went by faster than any year has ever done (even though i seem to feel that way every single year). so much that happened, so much that was done, so much that was dreamt about. 
 
as i read through my 16 681 words my heart gets increasingly heavy. i think a lot about how much my thoughts and feelings -- and in many ways, the way in which i view myself -- was based on the judgement of others. how i let myself be defined by others. how i should've processed those definitions better. how i shouldn't have internalized so quickly. how i could fall asleep next to someone every single night, to realize months after that i was being treated like shit. how that happened over and over again. how i let that happen. maybe it was just easier that way. i guess it's just easier letting other people define you. letting them decide what they like and don't like and deciding what to project and what to hide. alone i know nothing, yet i know everything. it scares me.
 
#1: seven minutes to midnight and feet buried in sand
 
new years always makes me feel gloomy. this year, i'm sitting next to carlie on the beach, watching the waves crash onto the shore. we arrived in puerto escondido yesterday. spent the day at playa carrizalillo, had dinner at the hostel, and then hitch-hiked to the beach on the back of a pick-up truck. playa zicatela. it's seven minutes to midnight and our feet are buried in the sand. around us people are lighting fire crackers. grace, benja, josefine, and the australian girls from the hostel are chatting in the background. "i always feel super gloomy on new years for some reason", i tell carlie. "why do you think that is?" she asks. i'm not sure how to describe it. still am not. "it’s like.. what the fuck are we celebrating?" i say. "another year passed. so what?". "yeah, i get that...but at the same time, that’s the point, you know? you made it through another year. congrats".
 
congrats.
 
we get up and go back to the others and at 11:58, people have a countdown. "but wait!!! there's two minutes left!!" we yell. too late. josefine has already popped the champagne and is spraying it all over the beach. we shrug our shoulders. whatever. two minutes later, i kiss carlie and we shout "FUCK BOYS!!!!", find a dog at the beach and have our first dog pet of 2017. i'm so happy to have her as my best friend. she's one of the best people i've ever met.
 
we head to kabbalah, and after an argument between ben and the bouncer, we cave in and pay the 200 pesos entrance fee they have just for this night. angrily we head out to the dancefloor. "sorry i aint got no money i'm not trying to be funny but i left it all at home today". we laugh. how ironic. we sing along to the crappy songs that are playing. "you're on a different road, i'm in the milky way, you want me down on earth, but i am up in space. you're so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch, you're from the 70s but i'm a 90s bitch. i love it".
 
and then we dance our asses off. i don't care, i love it.
 
i meet a guy from germany. his name is philip and we dance to enrique iglesias together, his snapback covering his bright blonde hair. he tells me he's volunteering in puerto escondido, learning spanish and surfing and teaching little kids. i never ask him what. i meet a guy from cali, who looks like the biggest surfer dude cliché ever. his hair is long and dirty blonde and he is dancing barefoot with a denim jacket. carlie has just talked about him and when i see him, i just know. it's the guy. i grab him and i shout "you're carlie's friend!!!!" and he looks at me with a confused look. after some small talk he swears in crappy swedish, tells me he has a swedish friend, and says "swedish people are all just intelligent and beautiful yeah? free education hell yeah!!!". before he leaves to find his girlfriend he says "you are a beautiful beautiful lady. high five!" and then he wanders off. i never get his name.
 
at 3am i have lost both of them but found ben, who has just gotten hold of one of the club's new years decorations, a papier-mâché horse, and is contemplating bringing it back to the hostel. we find grace and then we scream our lungs out to pitbull. yeah, yeah, que no pare la fiesta, don't stop the paaardey. i find carlie sitting among the waves crashing onto the shore and then follows a silent cab ride and scrambled eggs at 5am in the morning.
 
#2: one last goodbye, snowy ski slopes, and sunsets over 9th avenue
 
so that was new years. that was the transition. let's re-wind.
 
on the 14th of december, i say goodbye to montezuma for the third time. i listen to beach house on the bus and fall asleep on othmane's shoulder. when we get to the airport, dewey is sitting by the check-in. i run up to him and hug him tight. one last time. our flights don't leave until six in the morning so we gather a group and do an IHoP run. me and sabo share 'swedish crepes' (pannkakor med lingonsylt!!) and when we walk back, me and dewey talk about life. before i board, i hug him one last time. "i'm so grateful to have met you", he tells me. i nod. "i love you so much. we'll talk soon, okay?". and then i'm off.
 
i sleep all the way to JFK. then i sleep on the subway all the way to port authority. when i knock on the door i'm met with familiar faces and embraces. it's so good to see my family again, and it's so good to have us all gathered for christmas, for the first time in what? five years? i fall asleep to my father's heavy snoring and the blinking lights of the city.
 
the next day, we leave a slushy nyc and drive to vermont. and then, spending four days overcoming fear of ice patches when snowboarding, long mahjong games with my parents and big brother, and sleeping in wool socks. 
 
we come back to a sunny new york and then starts a balancing college work and family time. when my family heads out to central park on christmas day, i stay in and write supplement essays. when they head off to get groceries i'm finishing up my common app. everything seems a little easier with my computer in front of the new york city skyline. on the day before christmas i wander the city by night, looking for christmas presents but also just breathing the pulse, the diversity, the hasty atmosphere. it feels weird. so different from what montezuma has to offer outside of our campus bubble. nothing like the lavender skies over sebastian canyon on that day before we leave when i go bouldering with hugh, joey, and elias. nothing like the trillion stars over the hot springs when i sit there with lázaro and simen. i'm not sure how to feel. i end up spending three hours outside with nothing to bring back. 
 
 on the 29th i submit six college applications feeling eternally relieved, but also anxious. i'm so scared about what the future will bring. that afternoon we eat in flushing. haven't had good chinese food in soo long. and then me and my brother go climbing and i attempt at breaking in the new climbing shoes he gave me for christmas. i end up with huge blisters on my feet but at least i send my first V4.
 
the day after, i leave the blinking lights from the taxi cabs and the jet-lagged sunrise over hudson river. this is the last time in a while that my family will be assembled, all together. soon scattered across four different places. me in new mexico, my big brother in new york, my father in germany, and my mom and little brother back home, in sweden. leaving my family leaves me with a heavy feeling.
 
and then i take the subway through a sleepy 10pm new york city. 
 
#3: patterned pants and pretty palm trees - puerto escondido and seven days of paradise
 
 i arrive in mexico city at 5am in the morning. i'm supposed to meet my friends for breakfast but i end up getting stuck in the airplane for 2h instead. when we're finally let out, i'm met by the most confusing airport i've ever been to. "hablas inglés?" i ask in shaky spanish. nope. ok. 
 
my connecting flight to puerto escondido is delayed, but it doesn't say until when. i end up waiting for 12h before we board. when we finally get on the plane, i have managed to find josefine. getting out from the airplane, we're met by palm trees and the warmest breeze i've felt in a long time. we get in a cab and pay 35 pesos for a ride to the hostel, vivo escondido. grace and benja run out, hug us, and then simon takes us on a hostel tour. vivo escondido is amazing; it's white walls covered in colorful art work and the roof top crowded with hammocks and morning yoga. the pool still warm from the afternoon heat, and the bunk beds painted in a bright turqouise. benja and grace has cooked pasta with tomato sauce for us. at 10pm, we decide to take a nap and head out by midnight. me and carlie end up in the roof hammocks and plan to nap. instead we talk about life, about college, about compassion and the importance of listening. about how hard it is sometimes. but she understands. listens patiently. 
 
we never end up napping. grace comes up and asks if we want to go out. benja and josefine apparently won't wake up. we all end up going to bed instead. oh well.
 
the rest of the days in puerto are just clustered together. mornings (noons) met by intense morning heat, sticky clothing, and watery coffee. dips in the pool and then walking to the beach. coming back after sunset, getting dinner, and getting ready to go out. 
 
one night we go to a raggae bar on the beach. la punta. apparently it's one of the top ten beaches for surfing, according to our new-made italian friend, charlie. after a while, they light a campfire, so me and carlie go and lay down beside it. the flames warm our bare legs and the sand feels nice against our backs. we stare at the stars for a while. carlie points out orion, the three stars forming his waist always visible. then dog pets at the dance floor and "we can't leave now, we need to leave on a good song". we end up leaving on 'jamming' and then walk into the waves crashing onto the shore at 2am in the morning. me, benja, and carlie. hand in hand. 
 
another night it's ladies night on kabbalah. free drinks for all girls from 10-12. me and carlie wear the matching pants we've bought at the market earlier that day. mine are blue and hers are red, and on top we wear black crop tops. ben buys a dirty martini and after he finishes eating his olive, we pour our free drinks into his glass. on thursday we end up there again. the world's best piña colada and two jorge's: one with long blonde hair, one with a heart/skull tattoo on his chest. both of them 22. both of them super nice. what a coincidence.
 
other nights we spend at the hostel, playing buffalo and getting to know the amazing people there. so many travelers, backpackers, wanderers. people who left everything back home to get out into the world. who ended up liking it in puerto escondido and just... stayed. one night we eat pizza at an italian restaurant in the corner and our waiter, rex, or if it was max, tells us that he came to puerto to stay one night at this one hostel and that it's now been two weeks and that he has no idea what he's going to do in the future. all he knows for now is that he's builidng a house on the hostel roof. it makes me wonder what life should really be about. because what is life, if not this?
 
i leave the crystal clear ocean and swaying palm trees with heavy heart and dreams of salty hair and sand underneath my finger nails.
 
#4: "some people are just assholes" and angry greyhound drivers
 
right before i left home last summer, i failed my driver's test. twice. the first time, i actually did fuck up. that was on me. the second time? no. even my dad, who sat in the car, said i deserved to have gotten my license that time. i did everything perfectly. the reason i failed? one of my mirrors was turned slightly too inwards. and the fact that i was an asian girl who had taken no classes and only driven with my asian dad probably also played a big role. i came home with tears in my eyes and when my dad tried to comfort me, all he said was "some people are just assholes". and that's what i keep repeating to myself half a year later, as we're trying to stop a greyhound bus in el paso.
 
so. we've spent the night at carlie's friend daniel, in his place in juarez. we crossed the border in the morning, and arrived at the greyhound station half an hour before departure. we don't have our tickets printed, but hey. it's 2017. since when do you ever need printed paper copies? we tell the lady in the counter that we need to print the tickets. it says on the website that you can do that in the counter. she tells us she can't do that. sends us off to the public library, which she claims to be open. it's closed. as me and josefine run into hotel el paso and get them to print our tickets, the greyhound bus is boarding back at the station. we run back with our printed tickets and wave them in front of the driver, who is just leaving. he shakes his head over and over again. me and jose stand in front of the bus so he can't drive and beg him to let us on. we're here. come on. please sir. after getting demeaning glares from his co-workers on the parking-lot, he finally opens the door. "what the hell is wrong with you folks?" he says, over and over again. we have no time to explain the situation until benja tells us our luggage isn't even on the bus. well, shucks. we get off as the driver yells after us. "who do you think you are?!". jesus, sir. just give us two minutes. breathe. 
 
some people are just assholes.
 
we end up spending 7h in el paso. poor dani has to take us around everywhere. at 5pm we finally board another bus to albuquerque. when we get back to campus, it's already past midnight. 
 
#5: familiar faces and fake facades
 
it's strange being back on campus. for the first time, i feel ready to leave. that's all i'm going to say.