tsubame: (wings)
Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 05:05 pm
11 June 2012

Last night I dreamed of two people, hunters of the undead, a man and a woman . . . )

To Love Life, by Ellen Bass

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you've held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it's like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it's heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.

Walking in London, 14 May 2012

I feel, often, a piercing loneliness, and wish that I had someone with whom to share my travels. But there is a virtue in traveling by oneself, that being mainly that there is no one you need satisfy except yourself.

The Tuesday a week past, I set out to walk. )
tsubame: (aqua)
Sunday, April 8th, 2012 02:38 pm
As grey-eyed Athena was sprung from Zeus's headache, so I have headaches for my grey eyes.

And with them complete paralysis of the Right side of my body. Apparently it's a mutation; I'm not up on the research of a cure, and the pharmacy medicines I've tried are ineffective.

When I close my eyes during a migraine I see things-- a sunburst that turns into a neon star, computer-generated people making creepy gestures, a centaur walking away, elevation lines like a map. I have no idea how my mind comes up with these things; my mind does not work properly during a migraine.

I endure it because I have to, there is no choice in the matter. I slept for two days, aside from throwing up and using the bathroom, and my roommate took care of me (which I am deeply ashamed of). It is only today that I feel somewhat better-- but only somewhat.

But. Gods, during a migraine I truly appreciate the miracle of this freckled skin, these unbroken bones, my hair that sparks twenty colors in the sunlight. I appreciate my skills, humble though they may be, because I lose them all. I appreciate my memory because it disappears; I appreciate this computer as a miracle of technology; I contemplate stories and words because they mean so much and I can't speak a single coherent sentence during a migraine.

Human lives are so fragile. My own brain does this to me, and always I am afraid-- what if it lasts forever? What will I do?

I don't know.
tsubame: (wings)
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 01:54 am
I was at Sensei's house one time, and his son, and some of his son's friends, were studying in the kitchen. Sensei asked my then-roommate and I if we would come downstairs so that the kids could try their English on us; we agreed. We went downstairs and answered their questions in our best slow, clear English-teacher voices. I don't remember most of them save the last; they asked us, "what is your favorite place in Kyoto?"

My flatmate said Kiyomizudera, a beautiful temple perched on the mountains to the east of the city. It's the obvious choice, of course: the buildings and grounds are beautiful, there's a view of the city, the temples and relics are old and significant, they illuminate the cherry blossoms in the spring and the maple trees in the autumn, there is a perpetually-flowing spring of pure water you can drink right out of the ground. The road up the mountain is through a charming old district; the shops have been catering to tourists for hundreds of years. The great stage of Kiyomizudera is a miracle of engineering, built without a single nail. It floats among the trees, and catches a refreshing breeze even in the stickiest Kyoto summer. There are fun festivals there; it even boasts credible wisteria which grow on trellises and shade benches where pilgrims can rest. There are charming eateries tucked among the groves of trees beneath the temple. Maiko and geisha regularly come to visit in full regalia, since it is the patron temple of one of Kyoto's "flower towns."

Everyone nodded when my roommate gave her answer; clearly Kiyomizudera is one of the most wonderful places in Kyoto.

Then it was my turn, and I had to think. What place in Kyoto could compare to Kiyomizudera's virtues?

"This house," I said.

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I have no skill at art whatsoever, but I doodle for fun, and thought I might as well put up a few of my slightly-more-credible scribbles. Behind a cut to protect your eyes. Primary mediums are pencil (my favorite cheap-ass Bic mechanicals) and colored pencils.

Pencil Detritus )
tsubame: (wings)
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 02:46 am
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has a delightful series of 1-hour concerts on occasional weekday evenings, from 6 to 7, called Cl@six. The idea being that you go after work, listen to beautiful music for an hour, and then head home relaxed and content having neatly missed the rush hour.

At 5 I stood up from the day's work, changed into my jogging clothes, and ran to St. Cuthbert's as my much-needed exercise for the day. It was not a particularly pleasant one, grey and gloomy from start to finish. St. Cuthbert's is pleasant enough outside, though somewhat spooky and gloomy-- the facade is blackened with age, and it's down in the basin overshadowed by the high cliff of the castle. Adding to the general sense of oppression are the shadowing trees that grow in the churchyard, and the dark, perpetually damp stone tombstones scattered higgledy-piggledy like broken teeth. It's a pleasant enough place in the sunlight, full of dappled shadows over verdantly green moss, but the least bit of atmospheric gloom and it becomes spooky and foreboding. And this being Scotland, atmospheric gloom is considered the default weather setting.

I had never been inside the church, and was surprised to find it a cheerful contrast to the somewhat gloomy exterior. It could be described as ornate, but not in an overcrowded gothic way-- more Romanesque, decorated with marble panels, a marble frieze of the Last Supper which was probably well-intentioned, and solid art-deco frescoes. There were straight clear lines for the balcony, and light expanses of white and teal-turquoise walls which contributed to a feeling of cleanliness, of light and airy space at odds with my initial impression of the church.

And there was music-- oh there was music.

The surprise ending made me smile:



I just closed my eyes for the whole thing. Truly sublime:



I . . . seriously thought, listening, that they were playing Mozart. It was actually Schubert. Apparently he was infatuated with Mozart when he wrote this symphony:



I let myself pause outside the churchyard to look around. In the belfry came the constant pealing of bells, restlessly refusing to harmonize; perhaps a lesson in bell-ringing. Someone had dug rows of flowerbeds among the tombstones, and planted them with sweet-smelling daffodils; I resolved to come back and see them in the sunlight at my next opportunity. The church was illuminated with spotlights, as was the castle above; I could see in the distance the dark spire of the Scott Monument, and beyond it the illuminated clock tower of the Balmoral glowing like a jewel in the night.
tsubame: (wings)
Saturday, February 11th, 2012 02:33 pm
So.

The problem with all of these competing Internet services is that they tend to divert you for the shear ease of usage. Actually writing an LJ entry actually takes some devotion, some thought . . . not much, but even so. And so people don't, because it's easier to put a shorter entry elsewhere, and so there's less reason to come to LJ in the first place, which means you end up not updating as much and . . . vicious circle.

But the fact remains that, while other services might be more convenient, LJ still reigns when it comes to having coherent and meaningful and in-depth conversations with people . . . when there are posts to comment on, that is. And when people actually comment. Granted I'm no model as far as that's concerned.

The thing that's been eating up large amounts of my spare time these days is Tumblr; mine is over here, if you're curious. I occasionally write brief pieces inspired by the pictures that I post. Not often, but occasionally.

LJ, however, remains the most convenient place for posting writing, especially as so much of mine is not in a finished form that might qualify it for a place like AO3. Et alors!

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"I thought you might be one of those people. You know. Proselyte-ing-y ones."

She shook her head. "I have two religions, one for my head and one for my heart. Science--" she tapped her temple, "--and poetry." She laid her hand on her breast. "Neither has any particular need to evangelize."

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'Do you want your receipt?'

'You may keep it. Consider it a gift from my heart to yours. I don't know what it says about my heart, that it produces cheap paper and pumps blue ink, or that it considers such things suitable gifts, but nonetheless I hope you'll accept it.'

Rose: your heart does not produce cheap paper and pump blue ink. believe me--i've checked. would you like to see the blueprints?

Me: The blueprints might be handy. Usually my heart produces smooth lined paper and pumps aetheric graphite, so this change is a bit alarming. Of course, it's SUPPOSED to produce vellum and pump egg tempera and gold leaf, but it's never worked quite right from the beginning, so . . .

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I played a random priest in a game set in 1666 London, and he was great fun. Father James Savant: High Anglican/crypto-Catholic, power-hungry and utterly ruthless, but absolutely convinced that he was doing God's work, with a taste for the finer things in life (mainly fine art, but his absolutely simple cassock is blacker than black, and his crucifix is ornate silver, and his Bible's cover is inscribed gold and jems, and his shoes are heinously expensive . . . you get the idea).

I came home from the game absolutely wanting to write stories about him, and despite the late hour sat down to hammer one out . . . only to find that the voices were ending up all wrong, too amusingly lighthearted, and I was actually writing a scene from a fanfic. So after an attempt at repair I sighed, gave up, changed the names, and now it's an XMFC AU snippet and that's it (there's precedent! Marvel 1602 by Neil bloody Gaiman, because he gets to do all the most fun stuff).

Right.

the Consolation of Philosophy )

. . . let us pray the merciful gods I write no more, at least of this.
tsubame: (wings)
Friday, October 21st, 2011 01:35 am
The train brought me back to the far north in darkness. I emerged from the cave of Waverly Station to see the castle and the old town illuminated starkly white and unreal above, and the streets glittering wetly under the lamps. I nodded to the man begging outside the station. The shadows along George's Street held accumulated grime and cigarette butts. I caught the last bus, bumping people as I tried to navigate the narrow aisles with too many bags. I tried to find inside me some feeling of happiness, of homecoming--

--exhaustion. Emptiness.

A desolate ache, pulling me downwards, questioning: why, why am I always so far from those I love most in the world. Those whom I value and esteem above all others. Who are so wonderful, and to me, even though I am . . . me.

No one makes me go so far from them. Only me.

Only, ever, me.

I know that there are reasons.

An unbalanced scale. A dream-house of empty rooms that will never be filled. A barren moor under a grey sky. An ever-broken heart. My unicorn.

Once I rear-ended a van with a car. The van was fine; the car had a small wrinkle in the hood. Just that, a small wrinkle. It looked fine, really. But for some reason, it couldn't be fixed.

There are reasons. There are things that can't be fixed.

Me.
tsubame: (wings)
Sunday, October 16th, 2011 02:14 pm
These days it feels as if people have fled LiveJournal en masse, and I don’t know where they’ve gone. Granted I’ve been missing myself for quite some time-- first because of the endless black hole that was my dissertation, and then it was off to Rome, and then I entered the secondary black hole of job searching. You would think that being unemployed would mean I had a great deal of free time, and you would be right. But it also means that I always feel guilty that I’m not doing enough to find a job, which means that even when I’m procrastinating I don’t write, because writing is Not Looking For a Job.

I also accidentally fell into X-Men: First Class fandom, and seeing as this is the first time I’ve been in an overwhelmingly huge fandom, I always have an endless backlog of stories to catch up on. While this has been helpful in getting me through the trials of the past few months, it has also once again brought to my attention that I am absolutely and completely addicted to reading. I’ve been reading books at what has become my customary pace, but the reading that I do online is vast and near-constant. I read until I can’t bear to focus on the computer screen anymore, and then I pick up the nearest book and I read that for a while. If I have no book I read whatever I can get my hands on-- cereal boxes, junk mail, old newspapers. My friends laugh at my inability to get through this or that TV show, but the truth is that unless it really grabs my attention, I would rather read.

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I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day. “I know you’re nostalgic for the Jersey shore as you used to know it,” I said, “bustling, full of people, full of life. But when we went there when I was a kid, everything was run down, boarded up, with grass growing through the cracks and faded graffiti on the walls. And I remember that Dad used to take me by Hoboken on the train, and he would warn me that it wasn’t safe, I had to stay close to him. When I started going myself when I got older it was the same-- a bit run down, a bit seedy, long past the bustling days of the Lakawana rail line bringing vacationers in and out. I would go to the Hoboken Farm Boy and buy this cheap, scented Chinese soap I liked, I would go by the old comic book shop, eat at the Karma Cafe . . . but now Hoboken’s gentrified, and the Hoboken Farmboy is a cell phone shop, and the comic book shop’s long gone, couldn’t afford the rent, and I can’t afford to eat in the Karma Cafe anymore.

“I still like Hoboken, but I loved it as it was-- the Jersey shore, too. I’m nostalgic for them as I knew them: abandoned, run down, dreaming of lost glories.”

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Ghazal, by Dilruba Ahmed )
tsubame: (sleepy)
Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 12:57 am
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Fresco map of Italy, from the map rooms in the Vatican

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8月21日 )

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bir var mis, bir yok mis )

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8月30日 )

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tsubame: (aqua)
Sunday, June 26th, 2011 10:58 pm
During last week’s game, we got to the stage where we were making plans. Well, Jonathan was making plans as his character, who Lázár has nicknamed “Ponce.” And as he was making plans, he was looking at me for advice and approval.

Which of course Lázár, my current character, is completely unsuited to give: he’s not a planner or a deep thinker. No; it was simply a holdover from last game, when Jonathan played a character named Niccolo and I played Tokugawa-- who was a planner, a rationalist, a strategist.

And who is not entirely gone from my mind, so I felt her surge of satisfaction/triumph. You see, she said to me, you see what I have made.

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I took a walk down to the bank. There were some climbing roses and they smelled the way roses are meant to. There were trees-- so many-- whispering endlessly. There were houses for sale, and I populated their empty windows with my doubts.


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I learned something, long ago: I cannot ask my family to do anything.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I can ask them for certain things. As long as they’re small, and they cause very little inconvenience, and aren’t too expensive. As long as they don’t require anyone to sacrifice on my behalf.

Nor can I call to complain about anything, and expect to be soothed, comforted, cheered up. Nor can I ever expect to be spoiled or coddled, taken care of. All of these things are my job-- just as it’s my job to be okay, no matter what.

But every once and a while I forget that certain things are not allowed. I make a request, something that ought to be simple.

And then I learn, once again.

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I really shouldn’t try my hand at humor when depressed, it makes me far too cynical:

Blankman: ‎KB is sorry she causes cancer.
Me: Only in lab rats, but EVERYTHING causes cancer in lab rats.
KB: Why must I cause such suffering and despair?
Me: Lab rats are born for suffering and despair. Human souls gotta go somewhere on their next round of incarnation. The karmatic burden would be unmanageable otherwise.

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There’s a one-pound coin that I carry around in my wallet, I call it my lucky pound. Because it shares a birth year with me. And because it’s scratched and worn and dirty, kicked around, all its innocent shine worn away. It’s a coin that has traveled far and seen some hard use.

Kind of like me.

And even so, despite all that, it’s a pound. Legal tender. Not worth quite as much as it once was, to be sure, but still worth something.

I hope that’s like me, too. That’s why it’s my lucky pound.

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Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis )
Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis

here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him that i

~translated from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell
tsubame: (wings)
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 02:30 am
A fascinating link regarding a great editor.

Crowd-sourced publishing. An interesting idea, though we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

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Edinburgh bears the unfortunate label of “not Japan” in my head, and so I tend to give the place short shrift, and easily forget just how lucky I am to be here. Since the culture and language are much closer to that of my native place, I don’t experience the same degree of foreign-ness, and so I don’t appreciate the city as much as I should.

So it’s good for me to go by North Bridge every once and a while, because out of all the places in the city somehow the view from their reminds me of just how lucky I am. And it reminds me that Edinburgh is an incredible place, a vision in buff stone, a place of history and wonders and mysteries if only I dig beneath the everyday to find them.

And it figures that I don’t have any particularly great photos of the view from there. It’s rather difficult to capture such a grand view on a 2D camera-- half the magnificence is the wonders receding further back into space. Carlton Hill with its whimsical structures falling away to the sky and the far-off waters of the ocean, seagulls wheeling in the wind, the impressive sweep of the bridge over the great ravine that holds the train station, the height of the hills on either side, the ornate stone buildings decorated with mythic beasts and reclining gods . . .

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Here’s the one shot I do have of Carlton Hill. They hold the Samhain and Beltain celebrations up there-- both of which I missed, alas. But if I were going to pick a likely spot for magic in Edinburgh this’d be it, with the eclectic buildings, the observatory dome, the obelisk, the tower. It would be a great location for a school of wizardry, a part of the town and yet separate, a lofty place between land and sea, sky and rock, looking over both the cultured city and the barren wildness of Arthur’s Seat.

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I wanted to put up more writing for [livejournal.com profile] saiun_challenge’s birthday celebration, but alas it seems this is all I’m going to manage. And I still have one more bit to write before it’s really complete! ::sobs:: Oh, and I haven’t edited it yet, so it’s probably so terrible as to be embarrassing. But I’m too tired to look it over now, and the deadline will be past if I wait to do so until I’ve had some sleep.

This AU makes me nostalgic for high school. How weird.

Dark Jewels Saiunkoku

Roseford's Queen: Part 1
Roseford's Queen: Part 2
Roseford’s Queen: Part 3

Roseford’s Queen: Part 4 )
tsubame: (reading)
Sunday, May 8th, 2011 06:03 pm
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Taken in Brugges during my first afternoon walking around there. I found a great deal of gorgeously blooming wisteria on my travels-- I never knew it smelled so nice. Sensei spent some time trying to get me to say “藤” and “藤壷” correctly. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard, but I had a terrible time . . .

Transcripts of my writings from my recent trip to Ghent, Brugges, and Leiden.

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26 April 2011 )

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27 April 2011 )

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30 April 2011 )

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Sonnet XXX, by William Shakespeare (painted on a wall in Leiden) )

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“But now we are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims, travelers and sojourners . . .”

~Robert Cushman, Pilgrim Leader, 1622

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Poem 23, by e e cummings (painted on a wall in Leiden) )
tsubame: (hey!)
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 12:38 am
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There is a rather remarkable propensity towards flowers in Scotland; hard to believe in a country so far north and yet true. Summer, for instance, is nothing but endless green and gold where I grew up in the States, but here there were more flowering things than I could name. The roses, too, grow splendidly, and last well into fall.

I never did find that camera cord; I ended up replacing it.

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The birds outside our window are dinosaurs. WE NOW HAVE THE BEST FACT.

~xkcd

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while reading the Mauritius Command:

Oh, Stephen. Jack was up all night worrying about you and you come back with an albatross egg and a parrot that speaks French.

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geekery and fanfic in an email today:

I have a crazy Ryuuki, a three-eyed demon Ryuuki, an assassin Ryuuki, a chichi-ue Ryuuki, a Ryuuki hooked up to computers, a ridiculously cute Ryuuki, a Ryuuki with piercings, a courtesan Ryuuki, a dragon Ryuuki . . .

::is beginning to suspect that she's deeply insane::

You know what I don't have? A one-eyed warrior Ryuuki!

::glowing cheerfully at the thought::

::fairly certain that she is quite insane, actually::
tsubame: (combini)
Friday, February 25th, 2011 01:01 am
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My parents and I took the train up to Takayama from Kyoto. It was a spectacular journey through green mountains and sudden gorges carved by white-water rivers. Takayama itself was also gorgeous, even though it poured rain for just about the entire time we were there.

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I've changed my LJ theme, because I needed a bit of sun to get me through the rest of this bleak season. It should be noted that I dislike daisies. There are flowers that I like, though I find that my preferences are very influenced by scent: lillies of the valley, roses, sweet daphne, hyacinths (which I do not like the look of, but they smell delightful). Plum and cherry blossoms (I prefer the former, but if it's dessert time sakura all the way). Morning glories (though they have no scent at all). I have a fondness for snowdrops because they come up first, and crocuses for coming up after to say that spring's really arrived.

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A haiku cannot
be ordered, it must spring forth
spontaneously.
Thursday, January 20th, 2011 12:54 am
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Last spring I was able to go to a huge roller coaster park in Japan with some of my friends. Among the ten coasters in the park they also happen to have the world's largest wooden one; this is a view of it from the nearby Ferris wheel. I rode it once, but found that it gave me a pounding headache. Looks like I've gotten too old for wooden roller coasters. I did fine on the modern ones, though.

I might also have been more prone to headaches at the time, seeing as my parents were visiting. When my parents visited me in Japan I was usually in a state of high stress and constant sleep deprivation/exhaustion.

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Wednesdays are going to be my busy days; biweekly that means class from 9 AM to 9:30 PM, with an hour's break for lunch and dinner/transport each. And then walking 40 minutes home. Today was the first of them, and actually I found myself enjoying it. I like being busy; it makes me feel useful. Which explains why I so mercilessly over-scheduled myself while I lived in Japan; I did in fact enjoy it.

I've actually been rather lazy since coming to Scotland. I think I need to take further steps to remedy this.

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Over the vacation I had a chance for some long talks with my various family members, some of which were quite interesting.

Regarding a conversation with my little brother with attendant thoughts which cover socialism in Sweden, the causes of the American Civil War, rappers, and lottery tickets. )

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I had half an hour during my busiest busy day in which to procure dinner. I wanted to go to the Black Medicine coffee house, because its name is so cool, but I ended up wandering the wrong way. I was thinking thoughts of going into the KFC-- I was running out of time-- it would be easy to order there-- but at the last second I gave in to the terrible yellow plastic beacon of a down-at-the-heels middle eastern place with cheap battered tables and faded posters of deserts on the walls.

And glad I was to have done so. Their baba ganoush was LOVELY. And I found out that the "sh" sound at the end has a bit of a hard "g" sound in it. I am enlightened!

. . . okay, nowhere near. But I get a little closer every day!

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I found some fun and interesting things on the internet recently. Let me share them with you!

A friend who is obsessed with a cartoon show called Phineas and Ferb linked me to this episode which makes reference to Carmell Dansen. At which point I told her that about two years ago Japan discovered this song in its original Swedish. And before long ALL OF JAPAN WAS INFECTED. It caught on so hugely that every anime currently on the air (and many who just have extremely obsessive fans) was making their own version of it (Jack Sparrow's at 2.16, fyi).

The same friend taught me a new French phrase!

déjà moo - the distinct feeling that you've heard this bull before

My stock of French phrases is growing once again! I can now add this gem of wisdom to my recently-acquired "tes moeurs crapuleuses" ("your sordid morals") and "tu cherches à corrompre mon paresseux" ("you are trying to corrupt my sloth"). Thankee, Patrick O'Brian!

This picture is my current desktop walllpaper. About which I said . . . )

To which my adorable sister replied... )

She's so cute! <3

This comic is quite adorable.

Reading through Pandora Hearts led to this string of (mostly) non-spoiler comments on Facebook:

Comments Ahoy! )
tsubame: (reading)
Saturday, January 15th, 2011 10:14 pm
I thought I should put up photos, every now and again . . . didn't really feel like doing big long photo posts the way I did once upon a time for my China trip, but single ones ever now and then I think I can manage.

So!

Photobucket

This is one of the first pictures that I took in Cambodia, when my roommate and I were just wandering around Phnom Penh getting our bearings. It remains one of my all-time favorites. I took five pictures of this cat, and I still can't decide which I like best.

For those who have been asking me for photos of Scotland and Edinburgh, my apologies, but I was not able to find my camera cord over the Christmas break. Which means I need to figure out how to buy a new one. I am at present conducting research with that end in mind.

I admit to being somewhat inspired in the photography respect by [livejournal.com profile] apis_cerana, who linked me to this Japanese photoblog, which I find I rather adore.

Today was grey and rainy but warm; I was accomplished in that I went jogging and stretched and did That Awful Exercise. Otherwise I spent most of it reading Pandora Hearts, which I adore.

Officially, now, since it's on livejournal.

But oh gods there's so very much to love. The Japanese obsession with Alice in Wonderland continues unchecked, in case you were wondering. I've also given up fighting my love for Gil, who is awesomesauce oftentimes and adorably hilarious for the rest of it.

Veryvery high recommendation for this series. There is an anime, but I've only watched the first episode . . . but seeing as I'm further along in the manga already, I'm too impatient to get more of the story to watch my way through the anime up to the point I am now. So I can't give any verdicts on the quality of the show.

There is a great deal that's excellent about this series. The characters are diverse but compelling; the mains especially so. There's a great many complicated interconnections between them. And although much is revealed, there's always more that remains mysterious, or the revelation leads to another question, and another. For instance, something that I thought would be drawn out-- the identity of Raven-- was quickly revealed in the 2nd volume. But far from lessening the tension, this revelation just lead to more complicated and intricate possibilities.

While I'm recommending things, this video made me laugh. A lot.

tsubame: (reading)
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 12:03 am
Bach in the D.C. Subway, by David Lee Garrison )

There is a reason why Mozart and Bach and Beethoven are known to this day, and their music played all throughout the world. I bless the technological miracle that lets me have all of them, and all they wrote, great artists and their great art played by great artists, and all for a few minutes' fiddling with search terms.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


An interesting article on one woman's realization of racism in Canada. Because I sadly have had people from various countries-- Canada, Australia, even the US of A (this is just my personal experience, mind)-- try to tell me that racism is a thing of the past in these modern utopias.

. . . yeah, they were white folks. ::le sigh::

I also have a certain familiarity with the feeling of "representing an entire culture," that her boyfriend mentions. Of course it wasn't the same-- even in Japan I was a "favored minority," and furthermore representing my culture was a part of my job-- but it was an incredible amount of pressure, and it did effect my behavior, the way I dressed, the way I expressed myself, and even my thoughts. For the first few weeks, even months, just leaving my apartment was a strain, because I could feel people staring at me wherever I went.

But although Japan became my home, it was not the country of my birth, a place to which I would feel entitled to belong. Although I have experienced my fair amount of abuse over my lifetime for being different, no one ever questioned my right to be in the USA based on how I looked. Which is to say: I can imagine what the feeling is like, but I have never truly experienced it, nor am I likely to.
tsubame: (yue)
Friday, November 12th, 2010 12:18 pm
First, for anyone who's not aware, [livejournal.com profile] saiunkoku_fic is holding their annual Secret Santa exchange. Everyone should head over and sign up, it's going to be awesome!

Here's an interesting blog post for anyone who reads George R.R. Martin-- basically a critique of his story structure in writing A Song of Ice and Fire, and how it might be linked to the long delay in the writing of A Dance with Dragons.

I ended up there because I was reading Orbit's post on breaking the rules of writing in NaNoWriMo, which is also well worth the read.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


I got back one of my assessment grades today, and it was . . . not terrible, but also not awesome. I have a feeling that a distinction in this particular course is pretty much impossible. Which leads me to doubt whether a distinction is possible in my other courses.

Which, of course, makes me feel . . . well, terrible. Because somewhere in my brain there's something that demands that I excel at whatever I'm doing, and when I don't . . . it's this sick twisting in my gut again, the understanding that, as always, I'm not good enough.

I became a great deal more confident during my time in Japan, I think. I had work for which I was praised, friends who bolstered my self image, hobbies at which I could succeed. Just the fact that I was living in Japan made me special. After five years, I suppose it's only natural that I acquired a swelled head.

And only natural that, once again, the world will show me just how misplaced my self confidence is. Will demonstrate that I'm not nearly as smart as I think I am. Will illustrate that I'm barely average, barely adequate to the task to which I have set myself.

Oh, I will pass. Of that, at least, I have no doubt. I will do reasonably all right.

But that's all. Because in the end, I'm not special, I'm not amazing. I'm just ordinary, one of the crowd, shuffling along somewhere in the middle line. Unremarked, unremarkable.

Me.
tsubame: (combini)
Friday, October 15th, 2010 12:23 am
Flying with a headcold is one of the most exquisite tortures of the modern world. The only pain worse than not being able to pop your ears is a migraine-- and even then it's not by much.

But the plane flight was mercifully brief, and I slept through the bus ride to Paris, arriving in good time at my hostel. So with much of the day left, I spent my afternoon wandering the Musee d'Orsay. I don't really like Impressionism, but I figured I should go see them anyway, for the sake of my soul's enrichment. Ironically the most famous works, the Monet collection, were all out on loan to another Parisian gallery.

Well, maybe I'll just go there on Saturday. Still, there was plenty to see, and I wandered through the highlights-- my fill of Rodin, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Cezanne . . . none of whom I particularly like. But I found a small side gallery of Symbolist works which pleased me, and the models of the Opera House were fascinating, and there were many fun sculptures and whole rooms of Art Neuveau furniture to browse. So I had a grand time wandering about with my audio guide.

One of the excellent things was actually just looking out the window of the upstairs gallery. A boat tied up on the Seine was hosting an elegant black tie affair, and the Eiffel Tower glowed like a beacon over a typical Parisian roofline, and it was all so unbearably Paris that I could hardly contain my glee.

When I left the Musee I strolled across the bridge towards the Louvre, taking pictures as I went. Alone, I thought, as always, alone.

And then, watching the golden streetlights glitter off the rippling surface of the Seine, So what? I'M IN PARIS!
tsubame: (yue)
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 11:44 am
I went to sleep in the bright, sunny afternoon one accursed. I woke up in the darkness of the morning one blessed by miracles. The miracle of not being in pain. The miracle of fitting words together properly. The miracle of not turning myself inside-out into a plastic bowl. The miracle of not envisioning my own death as a comfort. The miracle of warm feet.

The soft benediction of the wind gently stirring the branches of the trees.
tsubame: (yue)
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 12:38 pm
Hail, bright Lady of the night.

I am seeking something. In all this wide world, always looking, searching. I don't know what it is, only that it is always beyond my reach.

I have called it my unicorn.

What is it that I am seeking in this strange place?

Edinburgh is a city of spires, Of buff and tear-stained stone. Of hidden places, of broad parks. Of hills and scattered clouds. Of small shops, of curved lines.

Of unicorns.

They are everywhere, but it is so easy not to see them. They sit sentinel over the park, on tall mossy plinths, lost among the leaves. They stand rampant and glaring in reliefs, supporting crests and shields. They crouch in the shadowed corners of buildings, watching the unknowing people pass below.

If you are not the last--

My steps led me, footfall upon footfall, down the narrow roads. I meant to go west, but my feet took me south, down the tree-lined road to the Meadows.

They spread wide and flat and green below the twisted medieval closes of the old city. As if the two are different worlds that bleed together at the edges-- the road is the conduit between them, greenery making inroads to the city, a sparse scattering of buildings giving way to the trees. Shady lanes cross the open space, paths of light beneath the stately branches.

I crossed the compass rose, found the distinctive church spire that marked the beginning of Morningside, and let them guide me south and west. Looked south and east, across the Meadows--

Hello, Luna.

A gibbous moon, nearly full, rising. The clouds passing over, pearlescent. The sky, deep navy and bottomless.

I sank down on a bench and watched, and let my head fill with moon-thoughts. So bright, the moon. We only ever see one face of the moon. What is your hidden face, Lady? What do you see when you look away from us? What secrets do you keep?

The leaves rustled. In the distance, a siren, unreal, a sound from a different world.

Silhousetted against the golden light of the path, a bike glided across the short grass, silent as a shadow, only a shadow. Stopped, and the man riding let it fall, let drop his backpack. And spun there, in the moonlight, danced silent in the meadow. Whirled slowly, kicked a leg high, swung down to touch the earth, then up. Silent, musicless. Here lost in the shadows, there again, against the golden light. Danced beneath the moon.

I watched, silent and still. Should I run to him? But I sat, I could not move.

A final turn, and the slim figure stooped, swung up his bag, mounted his bike again. And swiftly, silently, he slipped back into the night, and I lost him into the lanes.

Dancer on the green. Shadow, shade. Free spirit of the night, the dark sky given form. Graceful, turning, gliding. Do you know me? Do you know I'm here?

Who are you?

The moon filled me, and I walked. South and west, towards the spire, carrying the moon inside of me. I could feel it, cool and bright, leaking out my eyes. Could those passing by see it? Did they not know? How could they not? I moved among them, but they could not touch me. Could they not see it, glowing in my eyes?

Traveller. Journey-woman. Seeker. Watcher in the dark-- not the story but only the one who tells it. Touched, but not chosen.

Who are you?

Jack-in-the-green.

Who are you?