5 tagged with #aloha

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construction symphony

and then all i can here is the rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a of some heavy machine oscillating, cut through with the occasional piercing beep of a machine that wants to let you know that it's backing up and the operator might not see you, and the clank of metal beams getting dropped into place by the crane whose arm swings perilously close but doesn't quite touch this window next to me. i cannot pick out the machine that makes the ratatat, or the machine that keeps backing up; it is a mess of concrete rubble and yellow-vested hard hat tops swarming over this site.

in north sweden, instead of tunneling underground, the ants drag tiny grains of dirt and sand one at a time and stack them up into mounds, then cover them with a thick layer of pine needles, threaded together to lock into a thatched blanket to insulate them against the rough winters. i imagine the inner layers of pine needles slowly decompose, releasing heat as they meld into the dirt layer for a tighter seal. chest-high stacks of pine needles writhed under the trees; it was hard to tell what was ant and what was vegetation on its surface.

i finally shut my window and put on headphones to drown out the jackhammer noises happening next door.

08 January 2019 15:12

frog kicks

i'm learning to open water swim.

years ago, i trained myself to swim a mile in a lap pool. i worked a slow, steady breaststroke while patiently repeating a sentence in my head to help me count.

there's a reef that protects a straight strip of beach that i can see from my parents' window. i have never seen waves there. these are the differences i'm learning: how to navigate based on stationary object triangulation, what color the water looks when i can no longer reach the rock-studded bottom, how to pick out objects to target in the distance that i can make out with a quick peek through a curtain of ocean streaming over my face, how to anticipate the trade wind picking up by hearing the sound it makes as it cuts through the distant trees, how to time my breaths with the small rippling waves so i pull just as the water drops below my chin.

i realized that the sun would set before i completed my last lap, so when i reached the turnaround point, too deep to stand and rest, i flipped onto my back and cupped the dropping sun between my two big toes. it sat on the horizon like an egg yolk, the size of a clementine, smaller than the buoys that marked where the reef became shallow again. i breathed with every swell. one of them eventually washed the light away.

when i returned to my exit point, i swam blindly until my stomach scraped the ground. my knees wobbled when i stood. i ate ravenously when i got home.

05 January 2019 01:45


i drift over the pathways and see:

  • a dusty blue crane, gazing curiously at a fisherman dropping his line into the canal
  • a slow old lady, holding the leash of a chihuahua that's up on the hip-height wall so she doesn't have to reach down as far to pet him
  • strangely twisted tree trunks that render into hoops at certain viewing angles
  • a minivan with the name of a street ministry painted on the side, depositing speakers and folding chairs
  • a back alley servicing a yoga studio, exotic dancers, karaoke bars, and a baptist church
  • a sign banning shopping carts from the park, so the vagrants push baby strollers full of plastic bags wrapping their belongings

31 December 2018 13:10


languages ranked in order of how much i can use them: english, chinese, german, and then a mishmash of ones i've picked up incidentally. so, whenever i'm adding something to that fourth category, all my german bubbles up in my memory.

nur ein bischen deutsch, a phrase that keeps rolling out of my consciousness. it's turning into: nur ein bischen svenska. i click through swedish lessons and tell myself it's the similarity in the languages that gets to me, but when i was blitz-learning italian out of a dictionary in the back of a bus, i'd still order food and end it with danke.

arabic sometimes wiggles through; i often say مرحبا when i mean mahalo, كيف حالك when i think of a stallword. but even when i flip through my notes i took at the time, i can't read them, because i've forgotten how to read.

i am trying to teach myself swedish. jag talar inte svenska.

#q #aloha

28 June 2018 22:32

life goals

occasionally, my father tells me about someone else in his table tennis club celebrating an 80+ birthday. i've met some of them; they slide slowly to the table, moving in the cautious way of elderly folks who know what a fall might do to them. with a paddle in hand, they still seem so gentle on themselves in directing their body into the right position, but at the last moment, a snap that i can't see catches the ball, which flies viciously in low, precise arcs further than i can reach. and then i realize that they're not truly moving in slow motion; they can keep up with the rapid volleys the teenagers throw at them, punishing sloppy recoveries by dropping a ball into a dead spot.

i tell my parents, who occasionally express conviction that their lives are over and they need to start conserving what body parts they have left, that it is possible to remain mobile and responsive and active until the moment they die. that's what i'm aiming for, at least.

nearly every time i go on a hike, no matter how hard or how punishing i think it is, i'll get passed by someone my parents age, breezing through without a bead of sweat. i don't understand it, and i can't wait to get there.

12 April 2018 22:08

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