/ livet /

i tried to figure out a good title but i couldn't

#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).
/ livet /

may thoughts and may memories

#1: a phone note from a bus ride back from santa fe (may 4)

stars sprinkled on the canvas that is the sky; the world; cosmos. the moon shining its soft light on the clouds hovering below making them appear like little islands of cotton in the sea of unsaturated blue; yet promising another clear blue morning. the vastness of the universe flushes over me like a tidal wave; reminding me of the beauty of insignificance and the scope of the world like nothing and everything at the same time; like i'm prepared for its greatness but not really and so it hits with an incredible speed, an indescribable power -- as a reminder. of just how little everything matters, and just how beautiful that is in itself. 

i think about how much you have grown. both as a person, but also physically; your shoulders no longer narrow like a school boy's; your rugged hands showing signs of aging and experience, and what used to be a constant playfulness in your eyes appearing less and less. sometimes it feels like we lead separate realities now. an inability from both, maybe. and a renunciation; a rejection; a refusal,

to accept; reflect; intercept. 

the lights from the lamp posts next to the highway flash by every couple of seconds, shining their yellow light over my head leaned against the window, rotating around the bus like a merry-go-round. if someone would have turned around everytime the light flashed its shadows all around me maybe they'd notice the light reflections of wet cheeks and glossy eyes. sometimes i wish that someone did. eternal loneliness.

i think about how much me and my friends have grown during these two years. maybe myself not so much. almost the oldest yet feel the youngest. with my crooked teeth and narrow hips and naivite and ignorance. i need to get out of school for a while. 

the distinct turn onto the road to the po. the lights from the castle shining like a bustling city in the night. and i guess it is, in its own way. 

 

#2: during a moment of silence (may 7)

everything seems to flush over me in instances of silence; pausing; stepping back. tonight it hits me in lázaro's arms, our breaths in sync and our co-existing in silence, just for a little while. "i'll miss you, láz" i say under my breath and i grab his hand in mine as my voice starts to tremble. "i'll miss you too", he says and sandwiches my hand in-between his. i hold my breath not to reveal the lump in my throat but my eyes can't stop my cheeks from getting salty, drip drip drip into his gray pillows, just like drizzle has hit the tin roof outside my window every afternoon this week. i close my eyes and let my mind wander and all i can think about is the little to nothing i have left to contribute at this place. the little to nothing i seem to have left to say to the people i love and the little to nothing i seem to have left to enjoy my last few days here. 

i feel eternally lonely. all the time. "i'll just never reach the same level of emotional intimacy as any of my friends have with each other" i tell lázaro. sometimes it feels like i have only him and i hate myself for that, hate being clingy, and hate forcing myself as someone's company. 

this place is just a dark pit of emotion and i can't breathe.

 

#3: saying goodbye (may 20)

pre-bus:

i'm alive on five ibuprofens and 4h of sleep over the past 48 hours. my eyes are swollen and my cheeks puffy and everything in my body hurts. i listen to blonde with elias one last time. on the same speakers but the opposite side of the room this time, and my head on his shoulder instead of against dewey's pillow-chair. and then jak comes in and we go to linda's house for "last chance pancakes", or "last chance cakes" as jak calls them. it's crowded and loud and so we go to the art room one last time. us, and mihir and libbie. and then bela and keegan come and it turns into a space of inside jokes that i can't relate to. i have my head on mihir's chest and sit silent for a while. and then i retreat to find avital for our last moments together.

i get stuck in MB courtyard and the last four square game of the year. i sit next to hugh as we talk about sentimentality and all that this day has had to offer. shoulder to shoulder and he tells me that he just hasn't gotten mushy yet, still keeping his emotions in check. i myself have been crying almost constantly since noon; hugging people goodbye as they've been leaving throughout the day; the space between kili and denali now forever cursed with heavy emotion and dragged out goodbyes. i envy hugh for not feeling, but i also pity him because what more is there than the beauty of emotion right here and right now? how amazing is it not to feel everything oh so deeply? 

and then avital comes with a napkin of pancakes and i share them with anchor and libbie. and then panic hits and i suffocate. tears come up to the surface of my eyes and "i can't be here anymore, i need to leave" i say as i determinidely walk towards my room; kili 204 with its blaringly empty walls and emptiness echoing from the shelves. kili 204 where i sat on the blue carpeted floor with simen and sudddenly asked "wait, what room are we in?" because now all rooms look the same again; as if stripped of personality. as if we were never there to begin with. anyway, at this moment in time kili 204 although not my own anymore, seems to be my place of retiration. lázaro runs after me and soon puts his arm around my shoulders and lifts me up in an attempt to cheer me up. i smile through the tears but retreat into my bed as soon as we reach my room. i capitulate. i don't want to do this anymore. i curl up and lázaro curls up next to me, spoons me for one last time, his arms hugging me tightly. i cry into my own pillows this time, feeling everything and nothing all at the same time. we fall asleep for a while and mihir comes in and sits on the chair by my desk. he reaches out his hand and i hold it tight in mine. at 11:37, lázaro rises. "i need to get something for libbie, i'll meet you there" and mihir and I carry my bags out to the buses. my heart is heavy.

the first one i hug is selina, which is terrible because it means instant weeping. i hug her for a long time before letting go. i'll miss this girl so much. i'll miss our afternoons climbing and her giggles brighting up my days; our friendship pure, like there's nothing clouding it. no judgements nor expectations; just us two, and the rocks, of course. 

and then josefine and anchor and nacho and benja and grace and chloe and andy and simen and kadin and carlie and my buddy and elias and even josh and of course my tiny bean avital. all the people that i'm going to miss endlessly. and hugging mihir over and over again, my best friend and my brother. and lázaro and his yellow john deere hat. i sob in his arms.

i see doug in the distance and embrace him in a long hug. my arms reach just around his waist, my left hand holding tightly to my thumb. i cry in his arms for a long time while he murmurs his final doug-comments to me; the inspirational and motivational and sentimental ones that he always voices on the last day of class before break. "it's okay to be sad right now and it's going to be sad for a while but then it's going to be ok. you'll stay in touch with your friends, and you'll see them all again-- including me" and i can feel him doing his little indian nod with my head against his chest. "it's going to be alright" he tells me and kisses my forehead. "i love you girl, take care".

and right before i get on the bus, elias gives me one last hug. "i realized why it hurts so much to say goodbye to you -- it's like saying goodbye to a sister". i cry in his arms, my head reaching only up to his stomach.

on my last bus ride to sunport, i weep on libbie's shoulder. 

00:18:

and so we depart montezuma, but forever this time. i have never felt this empty in my entire life. 

05:56:

i say goodbye to hugh before boarding my flight to salt lake. he's in a heated discussion about...something, with pablo. i can't even recall what they were talking about, but i smile because it's so typical. i tap his shoulder and say that i'm boarding and he looks at his watch, says "really? already?" and rises into an embrace. we hug for a long time, his grip slowly getting tighter as he says his goodbyes. "keep yourself busy because you tend to overthink things. and that's coming from someone like me". small chuckle and i never want to let go. and then he says "alright get the fuck outta here" and shoos me towards my gate. "shut up" i say and hug him again. "i'll miss you, hugh" i tell him. "i'll miss you too, man". "thank you for everything" i tell him. he replies with his signature confident nod with a crooked little smile; the one that i would hate at any other point in time because it's obnoxious and prideful and because it screams of confidence and "hey, that's just what I do" or "i gotchu" but with the sun still hiding behind the mountains, it's just not as reassuring as usual. i'm on the verge of crying and i think he is too. maybe the mush is finally hitting him. i turn around with tears in my eyes. and then i realize that there is so much more i want to say; that i admire him so much and that i'm sorry about everything. at 7:41 i send him a message: "oh also-- promise you'll let me know when you're back in the states after your gap year and we'll go climb together:)!!" the smiley without space to the words nor the exclamation marks to signify that it's a careless message, that it's casual, that i haven't thought about it at all. truth is i did think about it a lot. truth is this boy is an asshole but i'll miss him endlessly. not seeing him for at least a year is a weird thought, and truth is i can't wait until we see each other again. he replies "for sure, take care this summer and go climb some scary stuff. scary is good sometimes."

i hope he's right. 

 

#4: on my final days, sisters, brothers, and gratitude (may 23)

i spend my last days in montezuma breathing in every moment with the deepest breaths possible. i breathe the spirit of love; devour the atmosphere of compassion; ravage the last moments i have with the people that i love. i breathe out anxiety; sigh out fear. it's so hard. graduation is making me so anxious and i'm so scared.

i try to make the most out of my last ten days. one day i go into the woods with adam, tessa, and lázaro. we eat buffalo pretzels on a blanket in the woods behind the dwan light. it's a nice afternoon.the day after that, i go climbing with selina and doug comes along. he's been wanting to 'check out what we're doing' for a while now so we invite him to our friday morning climbing session and show him upper wifi. i admire him a lot for coming with us; for being so open and honest in conversation, for being so curious, and for treating us as if we were friends rather than students, as if he could learn from us. selina and I climb some problems; the environmentalist, monday morning, and i finally figure out beta to the heel-hook problem and send it. finally. been working on it for a long time. after a while, the d-boys show up: kadin, hugh, lázaro, and jack. i love all four of them to bits. we chill out on the crashpad and the hammocks for a while, listening to doug's stories. it becomes one of my favorite mornings ever.

and the night after that becomes one of my favorite nights ever as selina, hugh, and i meet up in the fieldhouse right after check, grab the crash pad and venture out into the woods. my headlamp is weak and i stumble across the rocks but we hike faster than ever before; night pitch black but air t-shirt warm. selina and i take silly pictures at the viewpoint and hugh climbs problems without headlamps, trusting his instincts as he climbs up monday morning: a problem i freak out on even in daylight. i envy him. as we hike down from upper wifi for the last time i realize it's exactly a week left until graduation. "this time next week we'll all be on the bus to albuquerque. how strange".

on our last sunday ever, me and the girls decide to bike into town for brunch. little do we know that all the bikes are freaking broken. and all of us half-dead after our different adventures from the night before. we catch adrian as he drives up to the castle and i half-jokingly ask him if he would pick up some hitch-hikers and drive us to travelers. "sure", he replies to my surprise and we get in his van. traveler's closed. it's sunday. and mother's day. everything's closed. we wander down the strip and finally there's one restaurant that's open; new mexican. me and carlie split huevos rancheros and then we lay in the grass in a park somewhere where a kid's throwing a birthday party with bouncy castles and fancy food.

and then, after a week of freedom, studying starts again. i refuse to move into the cafeteria again, so i spend days leaving my room only to go to the bathroom. when i'm not studying, i write. i spend evenings typing up 8302 words trying to convey all the feelings i have in my heart for all the people that i love; 8302 words in memories and gratitude. i pour my heart and soul into these words; i tell people how much i admire them, how much i love them, how much they mean to me. to benja i write about our first conversation and stargazing in the pecos wilderness. to avital i write about the heady smell of lilacs on my art desk and the taste of gummy vitamins. to zsuzsa i write about our sunday evenings watching girls and to both of them i write about cohabiting, bathroom conversations, and collapsing on the blend of blue carpet underneath the yellow lights of the hallway on party nights. to doug and andrew i thank them for being role models and to my roomate i thank her for being her. to mihir i write about him becoming my brother and to simen and lázaro i write about how denali 212 became home; how my best friends were only a barefoot run away; eighteen steps over crumbly cement, balancing my steps to avoid small rocks piercing the sole of my foot. 2+4 and 3 and the sharp right turn and then simen's surprised-but-as-time-progressed-not-so-surprised-anymore face as i knock once and swing open the door. more a warning than courtesy at this point. more a saying ”hey, here i am” than asking ”can i come in?”. and then fairy lights covered with tiny lanterns and the little label saying ”laz’s life” on it hanging from the ceiling; the top ten canadians and the smell of his polo cologne filling up the room; occupying all the sweatshirts that i’ve stolen, a smell of safety and comfort and serenity that i could drown in. i spend nights carefully writing these 8302 words of feelings and memories and gratitude onto 20 swedish flags; the reek of sharpie lingering in my room.

two days before grad i write my final exam. it feels so underwhelming.

; and two days before grad i also sit in the hot springs with lázaro and i tell him "i hate this. there is just so much that needs to be done -- i need to pack up my entire room and i need to finish all my flags and there were exams until now and it's stressing me out" and he says "anneli, you've spent two years here and you've gotten the most out of every single day of those days. tomorrow's for packing, tomorrow's for being alone. tomorrow's for closure". and the day before graduation i spend alone. i spend it throwing away stuff i've accumulated over two years, packing down notes dear to me, writing by my desk, eating avocados for breakfast. but the night i want to spend with everyone else.

and so i spend it in the IT with the people that i love the most: my happy singles and the d-boys. i spend it hiding from security with karen at 1am in the morning, and i spend it freezing in the MB courtyard at 2. at 3, i'm spending it with tom and kadin and lázaro underneath the shine of lazaro's yellow ceiling light; his room painfully stripped from everything it used to be. at 4, i'm spending it losing my birkenstocks while dancing to paradise city, and at 5 i'm spending it in chum storage room with grace and zsuzsa, talking about things that hurt when they shouldn't. at 5:30 i'm finally in bed. i set my alarm for 8:15 but i wake up at 7:30, strangely awake for having slept only two hours. zsuzsa makes eggs for breakfast and we get dressed together and then we head out to the castle stairs for our class photo. and then we spend our last moments in the library, line up for grad, walk in, walk out, hug people, and then grad is over just like that.

and then two years came to an end, just like that.

and now i have my diploma and my studentmössa and a thousands of memories that i wouldn't exchange for anything else in this world. and now, three days after everything ended, i miss it more than anything that i've ever missed.

/ 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.