#1: on writing
i've been feeling awfully inspired lately. like i'm itching to write and am full of inspiration yet nothing ever produces itself in words; nothing is wailing to be captured; everything just circulates in my head, formulates itself through vivacious dreams that i later find myself looking back on when i sit in the garden during bright daylight as if they actually happened, playing out small scenarios in my mind over and over again, the wave of creative flow not having yet hit, although i'm already wading knee-high in new found incentive and inspiration and insight. how strange it is sometimes to spend time drowning in excitement and consuming new experiences but not fully processing them in any way that seems even the tiniest bit productive.
i've been trying to write for so long, trying to craft short stories, letters, well thought out facebook messages, phone notes... anything with a stream of consciousness that i can put down in words-- but nothing. i find myself writing, and then erasing. writing, erasing; writing, erasing. it's tiresome and it makes me disappointed in myself. i often wish i could pursue writing in its purest form with all its vigor, but often end up feeling restricted and limited by all writing's rigor (hahahaha nice rhyme i'm a #jokster). but really. all i know is how to write here, and all i know is to pour out all my emotion and thought; writing simply. no restrictions, no guidelines, no nothing. just me and this empty white box that i'm trying to fill with every tap on my keyboard. and some times i just wish i could pursue that pure form of writing; that stream of consciousness. sometimes i wish that it would just... be validated, appreciated, cherished and admired, by someone else. that i could reach out to something bigger. but in the end it's just me, me and my thoughts and my emotion and stream of consciousness that finds its way through my heart to my fingertips, tapping vigorously on the black keys of my keyboard as i lay in my bed at 9 pm at night, trying to do something productive. it's a shame i can't pursue that because i really wish i could. i just don't know how. but this is what i truly love doing. writing. in its purest and its simplest form. unstructured; unforeseeable; less thinking more doing.
#2: homecoming pt.1 (new york city and its grandeur)
i guess the biggest thing that has happened since i last wrote is that i'm back home, in lund. my surprisingly big (110k) hometown that still feels like the tiniest thing in the world with its tiny pastel houses and rusty bikes-- even compared to the trifling 12k that las vegas had to offer, and the what? 500? that inhabit(ed) the greens of montezuma and its lavender skies. my 'middle of nowhere' as i like to describe it to people. in the middle of pine trees and prickly pears and tumbleweed on the highway.
; but before that, new york city. i spend ten days living in my brother's apartment in the middle of manhattan, a three minute walk from times square. new york city used to be my favorite city in the entire world. in an email from andrew he writes "My time [in new york] can most vividly be described by that loud buzzing sound a light bulb makes before it pops. There was so much electricity, humans, and energy. The sensation of being both enamored and disgusted at the same time consumes me in big cities. I took every opportunity possible to get away and hunt for details [...], and that constant buzzing sound created by all the unstoppable motion around me". in my reply back i write "I totally get what you're saying about being enamored and disgusted at the same time, I've definitely come to feel the same way. I used to love it here, similar to you devouring the pulse of the city, and all its unforeseeable force, but as I've come here more often the city has come to tire me out a little bit. [...] also ONE avocado is $2.69 and a dozen eggs is like $5.99 and I miss the $0.49 avocados at walmart. Plus people walking slowly on packed streets makes me want to slowly drown myself in a bathtub".
josefine and grace and benja are in the city for a couple of days, so i spend some time with them. i go to brooklyn with grace, taking refuge from the pouring rain in a coffee shop by brooklyn bridge park. i play chess with benja in the apartment while josefine takes the wrong subway four(! i'm not even exaggerating) times, and i brunch with josefine at an australian place in the middle of china town. it's nice to see them outside of the context of uwc. it's fun because it seems so normal to meet up in a different city, and it's nice to transition slowly. it makes me hopeful for the future. we simply didn't plan to all end up in the city together-- it just all kind of happened; me being there because i always stop there before flying home, josefine coming there for the first time before going back to denmark, benja traveling with his family, and grace having an 18h layover. and then we were just all here. and hopefully that'll happen somewhere else in the world at some other point in time. that we'll all just end up somewhere, somehow, life working its mysterious ways.
other than that, i spend most my time reading and climbing. i buy haruki murakami's new short story collection (men without women) and finish it in a couple of days. i go bouldering at long island city with my brother's membership at the cliffs every other day. one of the times i meet ashima shiraishi in the changing room, her eyes staring right into mine as she walks past, catching me completely baffled as i am pulling out my climbing shoes from my pack. as she's on her way out i realize it's actually her. "guys i just got eye contact with ashima shiraishi???" i write in our rock climbing group chat. what the fuck! one of my biggest role models just looked me in the eyes in the changing room of my brother's local climbing gym. and then she warmed up on routes that i was projecting, to which andrew writes: "It's pretty awesome when you see someone you admire in real human, especially when they dump all over your projects in the gym!". hah.
#3: homecoming pt.II (lund and catching up with the familiar)
coming back to lund was... interesting. i hauled my bags to the train station at cph airport and instantly saw someone i recognized. she ended up tapping my shoulder as we got off the train, exclaiming a "hi!!! are you back from the US?" to which i replied "oh wow hi!" like i hadn't seen her before (but i had), and continued with "yeah haha time flies" and let out a perky smile. most of all that whole interaction felt uncomfortable. not because i have anything against her (she was my best friend in kindergarten!) but because i somehow find myself dreading the familiar. this is exactly why i can't return to lund. this is exactly why i chose to continue my education in the states. and then, when i got to lund central station and got on the bus to go home, i ended up seeing one of the bassoon players in the orchestra i used to play in. he ended up retreating back without seeing me, but when i caught his eye on his way off the bus he glared at me with a pair of surprised eyes before hurrying off the bus before it closed its yellow doors again. and then i got off at the next and was in empty yet familiar walls once again, making myself my first knäckebrödsmacka (with real cheese) in a long time, managing to take a nap before the rest of my family got home, making the normal feel a little bit more normal again.
i meet my trusty ol' friends that night. or at least four of them: linni, sara, freja, and malmer. they bring me pink flowers and we sit down at the dinner table and talk while snacking on my beloved swedish chocolate (that i'm finally reunited with). "it doesn't feel like we haven't seen each other for a year, i've gotten used to this already-- it just feels like you were always here" says linni after an hour of catching up. i can't do anything else than agree. it all feels normal. except it's not really that much of... catching up. we lead such different lives now and it's something i'm sensing this time more than ever, but at the same time it's the same as it's always been. it's the same lame inside jokes and the same talking about everything and nothing, yet so much has changed. it makes me feel really distant, but in a way that i can't really pin down. i don't really know how to describe it, except for that i feel really really young. they've all been on gap years, working and getting into serious relationships and looking at getting their own apartments. and i just graduated high school. at the same time, i feel more mature now than ever, but in a way i can't pin down. i'm still trying to figure out how to come to terms with that, and how to formulate exactly what it is that i'm feeling.
i talk to elliott about that one day. he was in the class above me at my old high school but we talk for the first time over coffee at ariman two days ago, and we bring up a mutual friend, erik, that used to be one of my closest friends, and that i saw just two days before that. and he started asking about him and it caught me off-guard even though the question was literally posed in the simplest way ever: "what's he doing now?". and i just realized i.. didn't really know. "uhm.. he's studying at king's. and he grew his hair out" is all i can answer back. it's silly because i hadn't seen erik in a year, yet when we met up that day with all of our old friends from high school it just didn't seem like a thing to be talking about what we'd all been up to. it just never came up in conversation. we just hung out the way we'd always done. like nothing had ever changed, except i'd just gotten back from two years in the states, ran is moving to stockholm, johan and august are moving to paris, and erik is studying in london. we were just all there, making quesadillas in my kitchen and jamming out on guitar hero like we've always done, although we probably haven't gotten together, all of us, in at least two years. maybe three.
other than that, my summer's been pretty bland. my friends are working, so i spend a lot of my time alone. i've been climbing a lot, doing push-ups in my room and pull-ups from the staircase when i can't get myself to the climbing gym. i've also been reading a lot, finishing the wind-up bird chronicle for the second time, except this time with a phone note of quotes and question marks trying to decode the novel with them, and with the annotations that doug left with the copy he gifted me (now one of my most valuable posessions). and then i've been itching to write and pondering my inability to do so. maybe now that i'm finally writing i can focus on something else.
#4: on sweating in the gym and no hands knee-bars 1000ft off the ground (and feeling more inspired than ever)
i've been watching so. many. climbing videos. countless. it all started with selina subscribing me to the epictv climbing channel and me starting every morning with watching their climbing daily episode (released...daily). and then it just spiralled from there. and then the climbing world just hit another milestone as alex honnold free soloed (i.e. using no ropes and no safety gear) the 3000ft granite wall that is ~*EL CAP*~ (INSANE) like a week ago, which inspired me immensely, and so i flicked through all of the documentaries he's featured in (reel rock 10 is sick. also el sendero luminoso. also some video on youtube called like 'alex honnold's vegetarian diet' or some bullshit like that), and then i borrowed his book from the library (alone on the wall) and finished it within a day and now i think i'm in love with him and his goofy awkwardness at the same time as i aspire to reflect more of his 'ideals of simplicity, frugality, and efficiency'. his outlook on life and total devotion to climbing are so inspiring and whereas my dad simply shrugs off his free solo of el cap as something 'idiotic' since he was 'risking his life' and 'could die at any moment', honnold's approach to soloing seems so much bigger (yet also, simpler) than that: "It's an amazing feeling, the 100% certainty that you will not fall off that keeps you from ever falling off. That's when it all of a sudden becomes peaceful. It's so free to climb that way" as he says in the documentary version of alone on the wall, before doing a "no hands kneebar, baby!", a thousand feet above ground. crazy. watching videos with him always make my palms sweat.
aaand alex lives in a van (there's a 3 minute clip on youtube that's called like 'alex honnold's adventure van' or something. alex is the most #wholesome thing around i promise) so i've been very frustrated about not having a driver's license then. both because the majority of summer jobs require it and because it hinders me from driving to crags to go climbing. plus thinking about why the dude failed me last year (because my mirrors were tilted a little too much to the left?) just pissed me off. racist and prejudiced asshole. such people just shouldn't have such a determining role. anyway. i wish i had a driver's license and could drive off to crags. or live in a van and just take a year off to go climb. but i can't. so that's kinda sad.
and so i've been spending my time being a gym rat instead, or as andrew would call it, spending time in an "#urbanprison". i never fully understood the looking down on gym climbers (funny because i also overheard a conversation in the gym where this guy was all like "oh i went on the climbing subreddit, by the way, and there is real hate towards gym climbers i just don't get it like why?") until i just suddenly did while i was climbing at the cliffs after a year developing the wifi crag in our campus backyard. there's just so much to blame in a gym. blaming the routes being reachy. blaming the routes being slabby. blaming the routes being overhanging. blaming the routes being crowded. blaming the routes being harshly graded. all these things. it's kind of tiresome. just climb, dude. honestly. and if you hit the pad, get stronger and get better and then come back crush it. there's no one else to blame than yourself.
i'm trying to battle that myself though, ending up in the new bouldering gym in malmö with almost solely male climbers around me, and them being a like 6ft average. suddenly, the grading feels very harsh, and blaming the routes being reachy suddenly becomes very appealing. then i decided that's petty and i should probably just become more flexible instead. except i literally cannot even reach my own toes so idk how that's gonna go. it's in times like these that having role models like ashima come in handy because we're literally the same height. except she's like four years younger and climbs V15 and would crush any problem at klättercentret even though they're set for 6' guys. i just gotta become more like her.
see -- feeling super inspired!! it's so exciting to be so excited about something again. i tend to get really obsessive over some areas of interest, but i haven't felt this way for a very long time, to be completely honest. in many ways, climbing has come to be a very empowering thing for me-- from being so insanely intimidated by andrew (our coach) in the beginning of last year, to him wearing one of my favorite t-shirts (acknowledging asian stereotypes in western societies -- although i'm hoping he's actually gotten some insight from conversations we've had, instead of thinking feminism is 'whiny') and drinking espresso from his adventure cup; from being afraid of failure to itching to perform well in front of others; from climbing being something i was curious about, to it developing into one of my biggest passions. and feeling myself getting stronger and seeing myself making progress really helps too. it's like success is so tangible and so within reach if you work hard enough-- and there's no end to it, like there's just endless things you can climb, endless ways to challenge yourself in new ways. a constant craving for more.
climbing has helped me in so many ways. its romantic portrayal as a dance on the rocks pushing me out of my comfort zone, but also being the root of a changed mentality and a lot of new found friendships. take selina, for example, and how much i miss her? our friendship was in many ways unexpected for me, and something i also often found other people unable to grasp as an admiration from afar turned into one of my purest friendships -- or so i'd like to think. selina and I aren't the conventionally closest of friends, but somehow it feels.. pure. like it's built on what a friendship should be built on; no expectations, no pressures, no judgements; a feeling of liberosis. just us, and the rocks. spending my days alone in the gym makes me miss her immensely. i miss figuring out beta with her and sunbathing on top of the 'such is life'-boulders of montezuma.
and the mentality, too. i don't want to say i used to be a quitter, but let's just say i don't have a lot of patience. i don't like failing, and i really don't like failing over and over again. climbing forces me to do that as i hit the pads beneath me several times before i send a project; working separate parts of the climb over and over again. even a single movement, getting to a single hold, requires a lot sometimes. like how on that heel-hooky problem in upper wifi i practiced a single move for several sessions, until i finally did all the moves (but then ended up being unable to link them together anyway because i got pumped and tired out. still happy, though). haha this is starting to sound like some CAS bullshit, but i really mean it. in many ways climbing has shifted my mentality into becoming a more responsible and determined person, pushing hard to reach my goals. and not being scared of failing or trying new things, because you're going to fail on the wall, no doubt; but there's no one else to blame but yourself-- except when the limestone crystal you're standing on breaks off the boulder and you slide down a 15ft slab three days before grad. :)))
i'll stop rambling now. this became super long. sorry. if someone wants to come hang out with me in the gym this summer, send me a message. i mean it. i need a partner. (or even better, if someone has a car and wants to drive me to kjugekull, hit me up).