Friday 5: It Means Everything

"It Means Everything" album cover, Save Ferris
A piece of my childhood.

If you were outside right now, what would you most likely be doing?

If I had answered this when I usually do (Saturday), I would have said “running.” But I woke up this morning to fresh snowfall so now the answer is “not running.” Good thing I dragged myself outside for a run on Saturday, at any rate! Monday’s not looking like a good possibility.

Right now, what’s a little too close to you?

Downstairs neighbor likes to play REALLY LOUD music every Sunday. But we’re leaving in a few hours to see Dramaten’s production of Hamlet so whatever.

Right now, who misses you?

Family and friends, I imagine.

Right now, what’s having its way with you?

The wifi all the way out to my “office” in the kitchen is absolute garbage, and the minute my sambo does anything online I’m stuck waiting for what scraps of bandwidth are available.

What do you most wish you were doing right now?

Nothing else in particular. My life at this moment in time is going pretty well.

Friday 5: Mischief Managed

This week’s Friday 5 has a Harry Potter theme and it’s killing me because I think the Harry Potter books are the trashy TV of the book world and are some of the most overrated books I’ve encountered. Also, Rowling keeps liking vaguely and not-so-vaguely transphobic posts on Twitter and it’s really off-brand.

selective focus photography of grumpy face toddler sitting on plaid pad taken during daytime
My “mediocre book” face. // Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

At least the questions are interesting?

The Mirror of Erised doesn’t show a reflection of you at the moment, but of you and what your heart most desires. If you gazed into it today, what image would you see?

I would see SO MANY finished manuscripts. And I don’t know how you could visually convey linguistic fluency: I guess a library full of books in Swedish, Korean, French, Farsi, Russian, German…

Who’s really pissed at you right now?

There’s a couple people in Stockholm I definitely haven’t endeared myself to (and sometimes it feels like such a small city that I genuinely worry about running into them on the street or at an event), but I don’t know if they’re actually angry at me. Nor do I want to know!

What model vehicle would be great to turn into a flying car?

Obviously a Chitty!

What item in your house could use a dose of magic, and what would extraordinary quality would you like to imbue it with?

Hell yeah I want my oven to just materialize food out of nowhere. It’s not that I mind that my dietary intake for the past few weeks has been peanut butter sandwiches, instant noodles, and pizza—I just know that I need a little more variety than that.

Among people you know, who is most likely and secretly born with magical ability?

If it could be anyone it might as well be me, right? I want it to be me.

Friday 5: QotD

Liquor being poured over ice in a shot glass.
Image courtesy Adam Jaime on Unsplash.

What kind of drunk are you?

Oh, so many different kinds! Chatty, aggressive, melodramatic. It tends to be, I think, whatever aspect of myself hasn’t gotten a lot of air time recently. In vino (momentary) veritas.


What’s one of your language-related pet peeves?

This came up a while back, and I’ll just say what I said then:

Editors are supposed to have an endless list of these, right? So the stereotype goes. We are the gatekeepers of language and so on and so forth. And I guess we all do, probably. But if you look at the layperson’s language pet peeves (“they’re/there/their”! “your/you’re”!) and the editor’s pet peeves, the overlap would probably be quite small.

My personal ones these days are The New Yorker’s bizarre house style guide (coöperation? no thanks) and The New York Times’ practice of referring to heads of state with honorific titles instead of, simply, their names.


What would be a good question to ask people you’ve just met, if what you really want to know is what they’re passionate about? You know, an alternative to “What do you do?” or “How do you know so-and-so?”

I like to ask people to name a movie they think is overrated and a movie they think is underrated. The reasoning in their answers is often revealing, and sometimes you get a good recommendation out of the question to boot!

When you get home super tired and super hungry, do you usually eat first or sleep first?

Food always comes first. Food above all else. All hail food.

You’re taking an exam. You aren’t sure about the answer to question 5, but you know it’s either “lions” or “tigers.” You get to question 11 and realize whatever the answer to 5 is, 11 is the other answer. Do you write “lions” as your answer to 5 and 11, thereby ensuring you’ll get one of them right? Or do you write “lions” for 5 and “tigers” for 11, risking two wrong answers but giving you a chance at two right ones?

Oh, this game theory realness! Before I did anything else I would reflect on the question, maybe work on other parts of the exam for a little bit, take a moment to let my wander off the topic entirely. But if I did all of that and I still didn’t know, and didn’t have even an inclination either way, I think I’d go for “lions” for both.

Friday 5: Salt Fat Acid Heat

A black bowl of Shin Ramyun with beef and vegetables.
Image courtesy Beboldtlsfkaus

What are some very salty foods you enjoy?

Oh man, I try not to think about how much salt is in my favorite Korean ramen because it’s…probably not great. But I get points for getting two or three meals out of the broth instead of just one, right?

What areas of your life could stand a little fat-trimming?

It’s that time of the year again! Right around the new year, I go through the people I follow on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, and decide who’s not working out for me.

How acid-tongued are you?

When I interact with people? Not at all. When you get me drunk and talking about Jane Austen or Harry Potter? Whew boy.

What’s an interesting way you’ve burned yourself?

If I’ve ever burned myself, it’s been in the usual, pedestrian ways.

What are your favorite everyday cooking implements?

My kettle is absolutely essential! (See above, re: ramen.) The microwave is also very, very important. When someone in this apartment actually cooks, the mandoline slicer and the garlic press get a lot of use.

Friday 5: Then You Begin to Make it Better Better Better Better Better Better Yeah

close-up shot of an icicle melting.

What’s something you hated as a teen but love today?

I’ve made peace with getting up (relatively) early in the mornings, running, and even the pop music of my youth.

What’s something you recently dreaded that turned out not too bad?

I actually haven’t been dreading anything recently, so hard to say.

How do you feel about February as it compares to January?

There’s more snow and more sunlight, so I’d say it’s an improvement.

Who among people you know is really making the world a better place?

One of the founding members of the Austin Feminist Sci-Fi Book Club works with allocating funding to victims of violent crime and I’m super proud of him.

In what way is today better than yesterday?

Every day these days is a little lighter and a little closer to spring, so I’ll take it.

Friday 5: Teal This Record

I didn’t realize that “Africa” had become a thing again in the year of our Lord 2019. Along with Weezer and Weird Al? Time is meaningless anymore.

Where in Africa would you like to visit?

There are lots of places, really. Soudha is in Singapore for university right now, if memory serves, but her travel logs series on Of Stacks and Cups really made me want to visit Mauritius. One of my teacher friends and former coworkers studied in Ghana for a semester when she was in university and made it sound like a lovely place to visit. Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt are also on my “someday” travel list.


If you ruled the world, what would you forbid people to talk about in the company of strangers?

Nothing, actually. Even the most banal smalltalk has its purpose.

In what way do you tolerate (or enjoy) being used?

I can’t think of any. Moving on!

When did you recently have an a-ha moment?

About something or other at work, I’m sure. I feel like I have at least one every day.

What’s something you know about turtles?

Nothing that the average person doesn’t already know. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about these little guys.

Friday 5: Movement

A man performing a skateboard trick in front of orange graffiti on a wall. His face is obscured by a red baseball cap and he's partially reflected in the puddle under him.
Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

What’s a song that recently moved you?

I still cry at “Rhapsody in Blue.” Every damn time.

What’s a song that recently moved you — right out the door?

Not a song as such, but a request.

When I lived in Korea, I used to go on long, late-night walks with another teacher friend of mine. By this time the pedestrian mall and downtown (“downtown”) Uijeongbu had been fully refurbished, with bits of greenery and benches and sculptures. It soon attracted any number of buskers, and in the warmer months our walks included stopping to take in a few songs.

One time we passed such a performance in front of an audience including a few drunk white men who were already on their way to behaving badly. We lingered, unsure if we could enjoy the music over the poor behavior.

“If one of them requests ‘Freebird,’ I’m going to lose my shit,” I mentioned to my walking companion, quietly and out of earshot of said potential troublemakers.

“What? Why?”

And as if on cue, one of them slurred “FREEBIRD!” and I had to feign a coughing fit to cover a scream of frustration. I nodded to my friend, who was still confused, and we kept walking while I explained the pointless tradition of requesting “Freebird” at concerts, regardless of artist or genre.

What kinds of dance performances interest you?

Not many, I’ll admit. I don’t have much interest in watching anything except tap or swing. I’ve watched to many Hollywood movie musicals, I guess.

What’s a good song with the word move (or some form of it) in the title?

I will never not post a Janis Joplin song if I have the opportunity to do so.

How do you feel about prunes?

I’ve never had them. But since I like raisins, I’d probably like prunes.

Friday 5: My Dreams, They Aren’t as Empty / As My Conscience Seems to Be

person using computer on brown wooden table
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

What’s got you behind the 8-ball?

Nothing in particular, but I’m posting this at around 11 PM and I’m struggling to think of anything I actually accomplished today. I don’t like days where I don’t get anything done—or more specifically, where I look back and I can’t really account for all of my time. It makes me feel like I’ve wasted my day.

Who would you like to see a VH-1-Behind-the-Music-style documentary about?

No one, actually. At this point we live in an age where if I want to know all the dirt on someone, there’s probably a tell-all biography or two I can pick up.

What are you likely to find behind your sofa?

Dust bunnies and the occasional sock.

What’s something you’d like to put behind you this year?

A couple of health issues and some less-than-beneficial relationships.

What’s something you don’t want to eat if there’s no ketchup?

Nothing, because ketchup is a foul, unholy creation that belongs nowhere near food.

Friday 5: Over Under Sideways Down

A portion of Gyeongbukgung palace reflected in the water on a sunny autumn day.

What are you so over?

Our collective disdain for things we (rightly or wrongly) associate with young women: selfies, pumpkin spice, duck face, vocal fry…


What’s something you’ve got under wraps?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be under wraps any more!


What does it take to get you sideways, and what’s your preferred method?

There’s a Dave Barry joke about how it’s a universal truth that everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, or age, believes that they’re an above-average driver. I’d suggest that it’s the same with alcohol tolerance. That said, my experience seems to indicate I’m more or less justified in said belief about myself. So if I’m going to get sauced (which doesn’t happen too often now that I’m a professional adult and such), I head straight for the Long Island iced teas.


What’s coming down the pike?

Work, mostly. New-job work and some potential favors-for-friends work.


What’s the last thing you read directions for?

I went to Oriental Supermarket with my sambo the other week to pick up yujacha in advance of winter. No yujacha to be found, but I found some “make at home” ddeokbokki sauce and the appropriate ddeok and followed the cooking instructions to the T.

Worth it.

Friday 5: “Nine times?” “Nine times!”

If you were to play hooky on your next regular work day with no negative consequences, and if you could only spend the day by yourself, what out-of-the-house fun activities would you pursue?

Honestly? I think I’d park myself at a bar that opened at lunch, order some snacks and a stor stark, and catch up on reading while WhatsApping absent friends. Maybe go to one of the many, many museums in Stockholm that I haven’t been to yet.


In the same situation, what stay-home fun activities would you pursue?

Same as above, but change out the stor stark for a whisky.


If you played hooky specifically because someone else needed the time off, who in your life would be your accomplice and what would be first on the agenda?

This is a tough one because anyone in my life who needs the time off is on another continent. The first item on the agenda, though, would be a quality fika of some variety or another. Start the day off with caffeine, sugar, and good conversation!


When did you last visit a museum, and what item on exhibit impressed you?

I visited the Army Museum and the Nobel Museum during Kulturnatt earlier this year. No particular item really had the same effect on me that “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” has on Cameron, but I appreciated the Army Museum’s exhibit on wartime literature. (I also took the moment in the Nobel Museum to complain about Kazuo Ishiguru and Never Let Me Go but that’s my own private beef.)

If I’m allowed to go back to much earlier museum visits, one of my favorite pieces is “Love and Friendship (The Sacrifice of the Arrows of Love on the Altar of Friendship),” in my beloved Philadelphia Art Museum.

I think it outclasses any other work of art anyone’s ever attempted to make to grapple with unrequited romantic feelings for a close friend.

The other is one from the Art Institute of Chicago (the same museum Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron visit in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, weirdly enough).  “Into the World Came a Soul Called Ida.”

A dark, dreamy oil painting of an aging woman in her boudoir, looking into a handheld mirror and powdering her face.

What’s something you’ve recently gotten away with?

When the green lines went down from a power outage back in September, I didn’t bother blipping my card on the (very, very full) bus ride home. To be fair, since I have a monthly card, that’s not really “getting away” with anything; it’s not like I saved a fare or any money!