Is this reality? Really?

Due to the awful state of the world I’m sure we’ve all been feeling a bit off lately but I’ve had surprisingly many good things happen to me and a few bad ones and throughout it all I thought I would feel more. Instead, it’s like I’m a passive observer of my own life.

With a lot of hard work, dedication, motivation, and luck I managed to land my dream job (for now, I’m sure my ambitions will change as I grow) that required me to move to the other side of the country. In spite of everything I managed to not go completely broke. My family managed to avoid covid-19. Things were looking up. And yet it keeps feeling like a dream more than reality.

I have a very obvious case of impostor syndrome related to my job but my feelings of disconnect go deeper than that. It’s not that I don’t deserve all of this or even that I’m not capable of it, it seems like moving away and starting my career were always things I envisioned to happen at a future point far away, never in the near future or present.

The fact that I no longer see my family every day is weird but should’ve made me feel stronger emotions. I should’ve felt homesick or happy to be starting this new life but instead I’m just kinda neutral, accepting what life throws at me and going with the flow. Not writing regularly definitely aids in me not feeling as much as I could be feeling but considering my emotions are pretty intense normally this state of neutrality feels weird, dangerous, not healthy.

(Caveat to state that what’s unhealthy for me might be perfectly healthy for someone else but I know when I get depressed the awful feelings and dread are surrounded by a more neutral passivity.)

Then today I got word that my grandma had a stroke and is in surgery right now, with a not so rosy outlook. She’s had cancer and lived and since then she’s been very open and vocal about the possibility of her dying, probably trying to prepare me for the inevitable, but I didn’t really expect this different scary health thing to happen to her. She’s 72; I thought she’d be okay for another decade or so.

And while I can feel the physical effects of the news – my hands are shaking, knees are weak, I’m lightheaded, my vision’s a bit blurry, breathing’s not regular – the emotional side is less intense than I feel it should be. For one, I haven’t cried (yet?). But while my heart hurts and I’m worried and sad and angry and just scared, it all seems on the neutral side of those emotions, like I’m barely feeling those things. Because none of this seems real. How could this be real?

Also I have been talking all day about what an amazing, lucky day this is. Well, fuck that, eh? The one time I didn’t feel dread and anxiety, the one day I didn’t play all kinds of scenarios of my loved ones dying in my head when I didn’t hear back from them immediately, this happens.

So I don’t really know what to think or do and I don’t really even feel guilty for thinking about what the hell I’m going to eat today because I have no food or for having unknowingly enjoyed my afternoon while this was happening to someone I love.

So let’s just hope for the best. If you do the praying, think of her maybe. If you don’t, just idk keep her in your thoughts. I’m not religious either but I think she believes in a god. I think she’d like it if people prayed for her. And I’m just going to try to be patient about this.

Review: TTMIK’s Real Life Conversations for Beginners

Hi all,

Note: I did a dumb and had to fix it but now the post should look normal again on wordpress. Sorry. 

I hope you’re all doing well in these rough times. Personally I’m stuck at home with little to do so after two weeks of adjusting to this new reality I restarted my Korean language learning. 

Back when I was still very much a beginner (and an impulsive buyer), I purchased Tablo’s Blonote from the TTMIK store and wrote a review on the English version in an earlier blogpost. In return for a review, TTMIK offers (or at least used to offer) a free ebook of your choice. Since I was really not that good at the language, I didn’t know what to choose so I asked the person to pick something for me. 

That is how I ended up with Real Life Conversations for Beginners. Unfortunately I never got around to studying with it while I was a beginner but today I decided to give it a look. I’ve been cleaning out my laptop, which used to store all the free PDFs and audiofiles available on the TTMIK website. I’d gone through the grammar meticulously back in late 2017 and early 2018 but I hadn’t really looked at it since. Moreover, I have the whole iyagi series, some advanced stuff, some miscellaneous stuff, and this book, all of which I need to go through in order to figure out what I should keep and what I can get rid of. 

Now I would rate myself B1 level in Korean since I know a lot of grammar and my reading and listening skills are reasonably good, though my writing, speaking, and vocab require some serious attention and practice, so I went into this expecting the book to be on the easy side for me. And it was. 

The ebook is a 179-page file, divided into 40 exercises. The title of each exercise shows in both Korean and English, and below it you first see the dialogue entirely in Korean. Below that is a vocabulary section, going over the most important and likely new vocabulary. Next follows a sentence by sentence translation of the dialogue and each exercise ends with some grammar points that were used and an invitation to try to create them yourself using their template. At the bottom, the answer key is printed upside down so you can check whether you did it right. The book is accompanied by audio files that last between 30 seconds and a minute, one for each dialogue. But I also got two big audio files that have 20 of the dialogues each so you can just listen without interruption. 

Personally, I just listened to the audio files to see if I could understand everything. More often than not, that was indeed the case. Hyunwoo, Kyeongun, Kyeonghwa and the others speak quite slowly in these dialogues and enunciate a bit too much so their conversations sound a bit unnatural but it’s great for beginners. I think if I had looked at this book two years ago I would’ve greatly enjoyed it and it would have been very useful to me. I would have tried listening to a dialogue first, then I’d go back to the book and read the dialogue. Only after that would I consult the other stuff. 

Unfortunately it’s below my level now so I can’t give you a review from a beginner’s point of view. But I can say that the dialogues are easy to listen to, not too long so your attention doesn’t waver, about a variety of useful topics and situations you will most likely come across in your life. And because my vocabulary is not up to par, I actually learned some new words with this. 

Overall, I think this book is a really useful resource for beginners who wish to improve their listening skills and vocabulary, who wish to speak about everyday things, and those who are tired of trying to piece together sentences that sound natural without a template to help them. And you gotta have $24 to spare (before shipping) or buy a different book and get this for free. 

This book is not for you if you can read young adult books in Korean, if you can watch certain easier dramas without subtitles, if you have gone through all ttmik levels and understand and can apply the principles up to level 5-7 (or higher) without much difficulty. It’s not for you if you passed TOPIK I or if you feel like Level 3 in Seogang or Yonsei or Ehwa textbooks is a piece of cake. 

Ultimately it’s up to you to figure out whether this book is for you and it’s up to you to decide whether to purchase it but I hope my review helped out some of you who were on the fence about purchasing this one. Personally I’m interested in Real Life Korean Conversations for Intermediate Learners but not so much that I would spend $25 on it (before shipping). I did, however, purchase News in Korean, which I will be reviewing once I finish it. I’m also interested in the Hanja guide, Everyday Idiomatic Expressions, and a bunch of the fun non-textbook books they offer on their site but that purchase will have to wait until I get a better paying job. 

I hope that next time I’ll be able to offer you some more of my usual content but I’m taking this time to be kind to myself and not push myself too hard so who knows when the next time will be.

Stay safe, be considerate, and be kind to yourselves. 

21 questions?

So today we’re going to do something a little different. I’ve been trying not to despair about my lack of employment and jumped back into Korean language learning to distract myself when I came around this blog: https://www.hangukdrama.com/21-question-tag-the-korean-learner-version/

It’s a pretty fun blog to read with some useful book reviews and other fun stuff that I’ll let you explore on your own but the post that caught my attention was this one.

I talk a lot about my life on here (when I do upload something) but I haven’t really gone in depth about my language learning so that’s why I decided to fill out this questionnaire. There won’t be a story or poem in this post (I know that’s what you’re here for) but I hope you’ll stick around anyway.

1. Why Korean?

Because it’s fun? Why not Korean? I get this question a lot and the real answer is that in the winter of 2014-2015 I needed to pick four universities that I’d like to study abroad at for a semester and I picked Ajou University in Suwon, South Korea pretty much randomly as my fourth and ended up going there during the fall semester of 2015. There I was introduced to the basics of the Korean language but as soon as I was back on Dutch soil I lost interest completely.

In the summer of 2017 I found some Korean textbooks I’d brought back home thinking I’d be learning 열심히 and figured it would be a waste of money and opportunity to completely forget everything I learnt. Unfortunately the only thing I retained from Korea was Hangeul and even that was very shaky. I read like a 4 year old, at best. Fortunately I had a lot of time on my hands in that period so I managed to get myself up to a low B1 level within the next year. Go me.

So that’s why Korean.

2 . Daum or Naver (dictionary I mean)?

Naver. I had the Daum app at some point but honestly it was just taking up space so I deleted it. I don’t use Naver super often but maybe I should.

3. First website that you visit everyday?

Not this one, that’s for sure. (Though I really should.) But yeah, I don’t know. It changes. I’m not a routine kind of person.

4. Best thing that happened to you? (related to learning Korean)

I was able to fully understand 백지영’s 잊지말아요. I encountered this song at the start of my language learning journey through a friend who recommended the drama IRIS to me – it’s a great drama starring Big Bang’s TOP as a villain – but I couldn’t even tell apart any of the words. It just stuck with me because I really enjoyed it. I kept listening to it ever since and I think last March or so I 갑자기 found myself able to understand the full song. That was a really good feeling.

5. Ever regretted learning Korean?

No. It’s super hard and at times I have hated the language, its grammar, and whoever decided you needed so many ways to say roughly the same thing but I’ve never regretted starting this and I will see it through to the end.

6. Most common feedback/question you get when you say you are learning Korean?

Korean? Why not Chinese?

know people think Chinese is very useful when it comes to business and making money but I’m not a person who gives a shit about that. I don’t do things in my life with the goal of amassing as much money as I can. I’ve never been about that life. I know I’m smart enough to study economics and business and all your money-making subjects, I just choose not to spend my time and effort on it because I hate it and I want to pursue things I find worthy of pursuit, like art and peace and equality and diversity. My first ever class in university was a philosophy course and if that doesn’t tell you everything then I really don’t know.

That said, I’m not opposed to learning Chinese for the fun of it but I am notoriously bad with details and I am not a visual thinker at all so Hanzi are really a problem. I can pick up some basic Chinese from listening but I know reading is essential and I just can’t do that. Too many of those characters have too many strokes. I can tell the basic ones apart, like wo, ni, bu, shi, etc but for me language has never been about the shape of the words and when you learn Chinese it’s very much about the shape of the words (and also about all the different sounds, but I think I could get used to that with some effort). I’m even less inclined to pick up Japanese for this same reason, even though speaking and listening shouldn’t be super hard and the grammar is supposedly similar to Korean’s.

I just really, really like the Korean language and if I gain literally nothing but the satisfaction of knowing the language I will consider it a worthy pursuit. Korean is cool and fun and looks weird and a joy to study. That’s why Korean.

7. First Korean food that comes to your mind?

Kimbab. It’s my favourite and I miss it and want to eat it every day. Please open a kimbab store next to me. Or, if you’re a kimbab master, please marry me.

8. Most overrated Korean drama?

I don’t know. I don’t watch anything I deem bad after some 20 minutes so they might get less bad after episode three but at that point I’ve moved on to watching something I enjoy. I will say that I never got the appeal of Goblin though.

9. Most underrated Korean drama?

This is even harder because I enjoy many dramas that were pretty popular. I guess Queen Seon Deok is a drama I wish more people would watch. Historicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but this one stood out to me. I’ve tried to find similar stuff to watch afterwards but there wasn’t much that could compare and keep my interest. I did really, really like the first episode of My Country: The New Age so I hope that one will attract a huge audience. It’s just so good.

I’ve been watching far too many really good dramas that I greatly enjoy lately so I have far too many that I want to place here but probably shouldn’t.

10.Latest milestone in learning Korean?

I used ~(으)면서 correctly in a sentence without having to think about it.

11. Favorite Korean word / phrase?

햇빛. When you add 이 it loses its pretty pronunciation but I like just saying and hearing 햇빛. It sounds like happy, which is what sunshine makes me.

12. Name 3 people (fictional / real) who motivate / influence your Korean learning journey

My friend Yseult (that’s not her actual name) who always listens to my rants about language. We share a passion for knowledge, learning, and languages (and many other things) so talking to her helps me stay on track.

My friend Jason who is pretty much my personal cheerleader, always telling me how proud he is of me when I tell him of an accomplishment and who is there for me when I feel down, even though he might not understand exactly what I’m talking about.

G Dragon. 오빠, thanks for always popping up in my dreams and daydreams to talk to me in Korean. Our imaginary conversations remind me of situations in which I still struggle to express myself. And of course your music is a source of inspiration and motivation in itself, giving me the courage and passion to persevere.

Special mention goes to Jonghyun, who holds a special place in my heart and who I promise things to when life gets rough.

13. Secret ambition / goal (relating to Korean)

Being able to write poetry and literature in Korean. Maybe one day.

14. I want to sound like _____ when I speak Korean

myself. Impostor syndrome, be gone! I don’t like to emulate accents so I sound very unique in every language I speak but it’s the only way for me to feel and sound like. Trying to sound like someone else makes me feel like I’m acting. I just want to get the pronunciation right and then I’ll just 편하게 talk.

15. Best compliment received (for Korean)

Huh, your level is higher than I expected. (Bitch)

16. When is the last time you sat down and study Korean?

Yesterday.

17. Favorite textbook?

I haven’t used many yet. I’m not a wealthy person and I’m currently unemployed so I can afford nothing but I used the Sogang method in Korea and it was fun. The textbooks are kinda meh but the little grammar guides that accompany those are really nice.

18. Special people you met (online or otherwise) through Korean?

My current language exchange partner and her family are amazing people. As is my friend Kate, whom I met on Wattpad, who is also kinda studying Korean I think.

19. How has learning Korean changed you / your life? 

I now screw up l and r sometimes when talking in Dutch and English.

I have become more critical about the languages I already know and why things are the way they are, how the grammar and vocabulary evolved and why.

I have learnt to think a little differently. I’ve become a little more open to the Korean way of thinking, though I still heavily judge their gender norms and views on the LGBTQ+, bodies, beauty, etc. But now I get where those thoughts come from and how they’re shaped by language. And I’ve become increasingly aware of how my own languages and the ones I adopted (i.e. English) heavily influence the thoughts that can be had and verbalised through these languages. English is limited too. Sometimes I want to say Thank God in different words but I can’t do it without losing some nuance and that sucks because I’m not religious and I want to de-religify my language, at least to an extent.

20. Ever dreamt in Korean?

Yes. They usually star kpop idols. Lately it’s mostly been TOP and G Dragon.

21. Single best thing about learning Korean?

It’s fun. And also the sense of accomplishment that comes with finally grasping something very difficult and feeling yourself improve. I know that’s not one thing but the former happens far more often and is a much more reliable joy.

 

So, those were my answers. What do you think? Can I do these types of posts more often? How do you feel about language learning? Any tips?

That’s all for now, see you

I wrote a romance, yay!

Guess what? I wrote my first romance story! It’s very short (2K words) but I still did it and I want to share it with people. I was going to do some pretty formatting and post it on Instagram the way people do with poems but it’s just way too long and I’m not that skilled with digital arts or whatever so it’s a WordPress exclusive.

Since I said everything I wanted to say in my previous post, this one will just contain the story. I hope you enjoy it and feel encouraged to leave feedback.

Untitled, 01-10-2019

As usual, the train was packed at this hour. Sweaty people would be pushed together like sardines and the smell permeating off them made that an apt metaphor.

Unlike some of her fellow passengers, she waited until the people exiting were off the train before entering. A few moments later she was rewarded when a bag was removed from a seat as she approached and she gratefully sat down.

She closed her eyes and rested her head for a moment, feeling her headache subside ever so slowly. That is until the boy behind her shouted in her ear, startling her. As she turned to look at him, she noticed it was a former classmate, someone she never interacted with much but remembered fondly all the same.

In the midst of their conversation, another voice chimed in. It came from the boy sitting next to her. At second glance she recognised him as another former classmate, and shortly thereafter she recognised the guy sitting diagonally behind her as well.

When the time came to get off the train to switch platforms, they proposed a game. The station had recently been remodelled so they were holding some events for its grand reopening. The boys were supposed to meet up with some friends, other people she knew as well, and explore together.

There were people she knew from high school and others she knew from elementary school. No one had changed much in the years since they’d last seen each other and they felt familiar, like they used to. Too late did she realise that this familiarity included a feeling of exclusion, of never fitting in, paired with loneliness.

As she watched her friends, if she could call them that, hang out and play together, they reminded her of the children they used to be but simultaneously she felt herself growing distant. Why did she lack this connection with them?

She tried to join in. There had recently been created a new app that allowed you to rate your sexual and romantic partners with up to five stars. She never wanted any part of it but profiles existed for everyone and people could freely review everyone’s performances.

The host of the event chose her profile to demonstrate – “you look like you can handle it, big girl” – (always the comments about her weight) and she found out she had a rating of 3.1 out of 5. Most of the reviews were anonymous but there were only so many people it could be.

She had 17 reviews, more than double the amount of people she had actually dated or slept with, but it didn’t matter. The crowd went wild. Bad comment after bad comment made her feel miserable until she could do nothing but run.

Her friends found her at the table in the big hall. They sat by her and consoled her but to them it was no big deal. After five minutes, they decided she should be over it and left.

The lot of them rushed into a room where there would be some science experiment shown and she wanted to join them but when she reached the door she took one glance in and walked past it, as if she never intended to enter. She stopped around the corner and crouched against the wall, letting her feelings overtake her.

Nothing ever changed, did it?

Once she got herself together, she noticed one of her friends looking at her. He smiled at her and touched her shoulder, then left. If he meant to convey some kind of message to her, it was a lost cause. She couldn’t pick up on body language so easily and needed words for certainty.

Instead of joining them, she left the station and started walking in a random direction. This was the city she’d grown up in so she knew every street and its natural culmination into noisy tourist attraction or quiet local spot. It was no coincidence her walk led her to her old neighbourhood.

She reminisced about the past, remembering how her oldest friend used to be so fond of SpongeBob. As it was, his house was just around the corner. It was quite big with a front yard filled with various flowers: hydrangeas, a bed of roses, a tree that used to be their Christmas tree. She remembered when they replanted that thing. It was so tall now.

In the window there were signs telling her love was disgusting, not real, that it sucked. ‘Lovers stay out’ was painted in thick black letters, slightly slanted. Somehow she found the courage to proceed.

The door was open but she rung the bell anyway. She waited a moment, then yelled out “Anyone here like SpongeBob?” but no answer came. She walked away but only made it a few steps until she heard a familiar voice. “Of course there is!”

Had she turned around she would have seen the friendly, familiar face of her oldest friend, the guy she hadn’t spoken to in years. She didn’t turn. She kept walking. She made it to the little park, past the dense trees until she reached the little patch of grass near the water. There used to be a fountain there but it wasn’t working at the moment.

Her phone beeped and she found she had a message from the boy she’d refused to see a moment ago. “You know those signs don’t apply to you. They were put up for my sisters,” it read. She stayed silent.

“I heard about the reviews. That sucks, really. You know that thing’s shit, right? Don’t pay it any mind. Besides, you were it. You were the real deal. Always have been,” he added.

She hadn’t stayed long enough to read the good reviews, which were bound to exist since her score was still a 3.1, but it now seemed obvious his would have been among them too. What had he written? They’d only dated for a few years before life got in the way and the split felt like the end of their friendship. Was it really a good memory for him?

“Thanks, so were you,” she replied.

A moment of silence followed before a reply came and they fell back into their old ways, texting about anything that came to mind. She felt lighter already. She closed her eyes and let herself fall down onto the grass, lying on her back near the water.

She grabbed her phone and finally texted a reply. “I’m at the place where we used to sail those boats, remember?”

His reply took less than a second. “Near the water? I’m on my way, don’t move!”

She smiled and stayed where she was. The sun felt nice on her face and her rest was only interrupted by the sound of footsteps crunching grass. He stopped a few meters behind her. She slowly got up but kept her eyes closed and her back to him.

He was panting and she recognised the unevenness in his breathing. It was such a familiar sound.

She turned around to face him but her eyes were still closed. Slowly, a tear fell.

When she finally opened her eyes, he was there. He was tall and skinny and his hair was long and unkempt. But his smile, his smile was everything.

With tears in her eyes, she ran towards him and hugged him to her. He let out an oof, then laughed the sweetest laugh. She felt his torso vibrate from it and it filled her with joy. Why had she let this man go? How did she forget what this felt like? How had they survived apart for so long?

She moved back a bit so she could see his face but held onto his body. He was crying too but he was also looking at her like she was the most beautiful creature on earth. She’d always known what his body language meant. He was an open book to her as she was to him.

There were some lines in his face that never used to be there and some freckles graced his nose and cheekbones. His eyes, though watery, held the sun. His mouth hadn’t moved from the smile and she knew it would stay that way even when he spoke.

“It’s good to see you,” he finally told her, his voice as deep as it used to be. They’d had such fun when his voice finally broke and he went from sounding like SpongeBob to sounding like their math teacher over a single summer.

She had no idea what expression had been on her face all this time but when she heard those words and saw that face she knew she had to be smiling like she hadn’t done in years. It was the type of smile that stayed on your face even when you try to look neutral. The ends of her mouth just went up and she had no control over them and they were grinning at each other like they’d just won the lottery or saved the world or found the cure for cancer.

They had found each other.

Her chest felt so full, the love had nowhere to go. She was full, too full, but she didn’t care. He had to be feeling the same way, it was obvious from the way he was still looking at her, still crying, still grinning like he was the luckiest man on earth.

“You were always the real thing,” he told her once more and she kissed him. She didn’t even know she was going to yet once her lips were on his it was unthinkable that she would have done anything else. This was their natural state of being. They were whole like this, more than one, more than infinity.

He tasted sweet like strawberries and skin, his skin, but also salty from the tears. Their tears mixed on their tongues as they found their rightful places in the other’s mouth. Their hands roamed but always returned to the same spot, holding the other tight. There was still time to rediscover their familiar bodies, to notice the changes as well as the similarities. He’d gotten a nipple piercing and she’d gained some weight but somehow these things felt natural, as if life was meant to progress this way.

Between kissing and breathing their time was well spent but they had to briefly separate so she could blow her nose that had filled from her tears. When the mucus had been removed, and her melancholy with it, she glanced back up at the love of her life. They just stared at each other, and stared and stared, and her train journey home had long been forgotten. She’d already arrived home, right in his arms. There was no better place for her and it was the only place for her, a place for her alone.

The other girls, guys that found themselves in his embrace, kissing those lips, rocking those hips, they were just temporary, ghosts of the past, ghosts of the present, fun for the time being but unable to replace what had been lost. They were great people, she was sure – he attracted those. She felt thankful to them for taking care of him, keeping him happy, keeping his spirit up. She felt grateful to them for enriching his mind, softening his caress, being part of his journey. And she knew he felt the same about her past lovers, the men and women that made her who she was.

They were different, they’d changed, but they were still perfect for each other. They were flawed and sometimes ugly and made stupid mistakes that they regretted for years but they had found each other again and it was right. Everything was right.

As his smile filled her heart, her lips found his again.

Girls rock!

If you asked me to put on a song this time last year, there would have been a 95% chance you’d end up hearing male voices. I was convinced I didn’t like female singing voices so most of my playlist consisted of male singers, boybands, bands with only male members, and instrumentals created and/or played by men. Sad, no?

So what changed? About this time last year I became aware of the lack of diversity in the music I listened to and posted a tweet asking people for recs. At the time my account was even smaller than it is today and my followers were not very interactive so I only got a single reply. Fortunately, even one is enough sometimes. One of my irl friends follows me on twitter and reads my tweets religiously (though she doesn’t interact with very many of them) and she happens to be an avid listener of music made by women, sung by women, showcasing girlpower.

I told her I was looking for female singers and groups with either female lead singers or a membership that was at least 50% female and she delivered. She made me a playlist of a 100 songs by some 80 different artists in all kinds of genres and styles. It was a good mix of old and new stuff and she threw in some wild cards. It took me several months to listen through all of those a few times to make up my mind about them. I was honestly prepared to dislike most of them but I loved (LOVED) at least 25 of them and liked a good majority of the rest. There were many I disliked too and I was very honest about it too. Then a few days later I got a new playlist sent to me. There were 150 songs this time. The ones I disliked were replaced and 50 new ones were added, some by new artists and others by artists now familiar to me.

I’m still going through this second playlist (sorry, friend) but she did conclude I like 1) songs with loads of percussion (makes sense, since I always loved the drumming in metal music) and 2) dreamy songs so this list contains more of that. However, I have made an interesting discovery. I am now, after a year of intense exposure to female voices and songs, actively seeking out music by women without even thinking about it.

Those who read this blog might have noticed that I like kpop. My new header even features Kim Jonghyun of SHINee with a quote that explains the past decade or so of my life. But much of my taste was very limited to boy groups and the occasional male solo singer or rapper. While I still love music by men and male voices, and while I still dislike certain female voices, including even some very mainstream artists who make millions, I find myself looking for female kpop artists too. Now my preference is for solo songs, whether from solo artists or members of groups that got solo songs, because I still don’t really like when many female voices harmonise in a song. I get very overwhelmed and it makes the experience unpleasant but I love duos and solos.

My current obsession is 2NE1’s CL. I’m crushing big time on her and her music is to blame, though she is absolutely gorgeous and her looks are definitely no turn off.

I’m very happy with this positive change I’ve made and I definitely have my friend to thank for it. I did take that first step myself; I reached out to people when I decided something had to change. If I hadn’t done this, I would not be where I am now. I think such a progression might have happened naturally, without interference, as I grew up and grew as a person but it would have taken so much longer, I’m convinced of that. There is no way I would’ve gone from disliking female voices to actively seeking out all these incredible artists in a single year.

And I recommend it to everyone. Is your playlist 75% male? How diverse is your music taste? Finding stuff from women but also from genres you normally avoid might be eye opening. You won’t love every genre but dismissing an entire genre based on one song (or 5 or 10) is dumb and you will be missing out. Reach out to friends and acquaintances, family members and strangers online (me!), and try to learn and explore. Maybe your taste won’t match mine at all and you’ll hate every suggestion I do. But maybe your girlfriend has really good taste but you never bothered to give it a fair shot. And if, after you’ve listened to some two hundred songs by about 100 different artists in at least 5 different genres, you still don’t like any of them, look into yourself and see why. Maybe there’s something wrong with your ears (it might be, I’m serious. I’m a little sensitive so high pitched sounds don’t sound good to me) or it could be a mental/psychological/hormonal issue. It’s worth looking into. Or you could just be really cynical or bigoted. Are you naturally stubborn? Do you hate trying new things? Do you see the world as a pile of shit where anything you don’t already like is crap?

I don’t want to make this post too long and I don’t want to add more negative things. I’ve had a really rough day, month, summer, and basically year but I think talking negatively all the time and complaining a lot makes you more vulnerable to seeing the world that way too and that’s no fun. For me, distractions work a lot better than talking about negative feelings and thoughts so when I noticed this changed perspective when it comes to music I thought it’d make a much better post than anything negative I could’ve put. Maybe your music taste is already super diverse (go you!) but your taste in books or movies could use some work. The same method would work.

Personally I noticed that many of my favourite books are by white male authors. Why? Because 90% of the books I read are by white male authors. So this year I decided I’m only allowed to spend money on books by POC. Then next year (sept 2020-aug 2021) I will only buy books from people of the LGBTQ+ community, or those that don’t want to be in the LGBTQ+ community but aren’t allocishets. And throughout I’m trying to buy more books written by women than by men. I’m also looking for enby authors but that’s a little harder when you don’t have access to Amazon. I try though.

Whatever you take from this post, I hope it will make you more adventurous about trying new things, moving slightly out of your comfort zone. There is unfortunately no creative piece at the bottom of this post but 2019 has not been a good year for writing for me, or any kind of productivity, really. Hopefully 2020 will be better and I will try to stock up on some short pieces or poetry so I can update more frequently.

Have a nice day! And if you want to recommend any music or books or movies, please do.

Guess who?

It’s me. Back in less than three months yay. This time with a poem, too. (Scroll down.)

I forgot to tag the last post with anything because the new editor is weird and dumb.

I’m still recovering from June but I’m doing better. I’ve started applying for jobs and got the nicest rejection for the first one I applied to. It’s really hard to find anything in the area so I have to look for stuff further north.

I’ve also been working hard on my fantasy story but I’m a little tiny bit stuck now that I’ve hit 13K but it’s okay. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

I don’t have much more to say. Next week I’ll be going to see the Lion King movie with some classmates, which should be fun, but that’s that. Life post-graduation is weird. I don’t know what to do with myself.

Also, my holiday got canceled so I’m sad.

Anyway, poem. My first one this year.

writer.

하루 하루

매일 매일

words sdrow

we puzzle

cut and glue

this place

that place

are you right

correct

not wrong

where do you go

what order

why

choices choices

each deliberate

let inspiration flow

surprises

decisions

suddenly a sentence forms

meaning or gibberish

who decides

do you understand

what’s there to understand

one true meaning

or a thousand interpretations

why

why

what’s the point

who cares

why bother

they say music’s

the vaguest

text but who

decided words

were clearer

poetry

literature

creativity

it’s all the

same

source of

colours

show me yours

yellow

orange

red

blue

who am I

writer.

Finally free

Hello, it’s been over three months since I posted anything or even interacted with anyone on here and everything’s changed, including the editor and it’s confusing but I’m also still living in this fever dream that is thesis/post-thesis haze filled with stress and deadlines so my brain is not functioning as it should but today was the deadline at 4pm Dutch time and I handed it in on time (yesterday, can you believe it?) so I’ve actually had time to get the worst behind me and rest a little so now my brain is overactive and telling me to type and just talk to you all because why the fuck not, right? So here we are and I can’t promise good punctuation or even grammar and I hope I don’t sound like I’m writing an academic paper but I think writing my fantasy novel today has helped me write with contractions again so you all have this insane productivity to thank that you’re reading this at all. Or to blame, if you’re in pain reading this. I’m not really sorry though.

So I was supposed to work hard and get shit done on time but I’m me and I never learn so of course I wasted all of April and all of May and only started doing what needed doing in June. I researched and wrote an entire master thesis in three weeks (23.3K words). Am I human? Is this possible? Is this reality? I don’t know. Nothing makes sense anyway; just look at the world, the news, and think to yourself Can this be reality? I think the answer is no. But rather than wallow in sadness at the state of the earth and people’s selfishness (and crying a lot), I intend to ride this wave of euphoria until it vanishes and I crash but hopefully I’ll be on my way to France by then to enjoy my holiday and get away from everyone and everything. And maybe write a little. Or maybe not.

Also, also, also who is excited for Mario Maker 2? The first person to stream it and give me a notification was Simpleflips and he was doing a 24h stream that started at a decent hour (6pm-ish Dutch time) so I was v pleased and excited and I watched around dinner and until bed and then when I woke up he was still going at it. I will never know how streamers do it. I haven’t pulled an all-nighter since I think my first year at university (or my second year?) and love sleep and not having headaches too much to do that to myself. What streamers are you watching? I don’t own a Switch so I won’t be playing it myself (that shit’s hella expensive, I don’t have that kind of money) but that’s okay because I get insanely into games to the point where my heart skips a beat when I almost make the wrong move and that’s waaaaay too stressful to be a good hobby for me so I’ll stick to watching all my faves (RTGame, thabeast721, CallMeKevin, Harddrop, CarlSagan42, etc.), maybe branching out a little (I’ve been trying to watch nokduro and other Korean streamers but they talk so fast all I learnt was ddeoreopke, and even that with help from my language exchange partner. also I’m typing this on a laptop and doing Korean letters takes effort that I don’t wanna put in so just guess what I tried to say, please, just this once). The only console we ever owned is a Wii, not a Wii U, just a Wii, because my sister begged for it for her birthday but I’m glad we got it and it still works even though it’s been like a decade? I love playing Samba di Amigo but the thing is so bad I can’t get past a certain level because the thing doesn’t pick up on the yellow ones, even though I execute them p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y, or as perfectly as I could dream of executing it with my lack of talent in that area, so that’s sad 😦

Maybe, hopefully, I’ll actually write another poem or short piece to share with all of you but it’s just not been happening lately. Idk if that’s because I didn’t let it because I was so busy or because stress prevented it or because my focus and energy were all going to my novel or what but I hope to be able to start updating more regularly again. I had a nice three week thing going last year, completely unscheduled and accidental but still there, which I prefer to my current three month schedule which is also pretty random and uncontrolled but here we are. Idk, do you just want excerpts of longer pieces I’ve written? Some random thoughts I had that might be good or interesting, that might make it into a story someday? Or just for me to get my act together and do the thing I said I would? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Oh, the holiday I mentioned. I’ll be going to Bordeaux for the first time in my life (by train bc the environment) so if you know the place well (or have been once but made some great memories) and know some cool places that do not involve wine – I don’t like wine – or other alcohol I guess, feel free to let me know. I have no rigid schedule so I might be spontaneous and take a suggestion. Arcachon is definitely top of my list too so I’ll probably head there on the second day or so haha.

Also, reading. Know any good, inexpensive book boxes that ship to the Netherlands, don’t charge the impossible for shipping, and have an alternative method of payment that does not require a credit card because who the fuck has a credit card in this country when they don’t have a car please let me know. I ordered a few and they were not cheap but not over the top but I’m still waiting for two of them to arrive before I judge so yeah idk. I have been reading a lot these days. Obviously school stuff but also novels from my ever-growing tbr pile. I think I’ve almost read as many books this year as I’ve bought. I have like 12 more to go I think. I’ve also started reading ebooks on my phone. Free ones from Amazon because I don’t have a credit card (please, please make your books available on a different platform too, preferably Kobo, so I can actually spend my money and buy your books (if they appeal to me) without having to wait for you to decide to make them free for 24 or 72hrs) and a mix of free and paid-for from Kobo and free ones on an app called Vakantiebieb, which is free for Dutch people and includes a decent selection of kids books so download it for your babies so I’m pretty pleased with myself. Next on my list, however, is Cixin Liu’s Death’s End, which has 700+ pages of difficult, science-heavy scifi, brilliantly written. I am on page 28.

Finally, give a listen to Map of the Soul: Persona, Spinning Top: Between Security and Insecurity, Sleepless in __________, and Want (by Taemin) because they’re all SO GOOD. Also, Mamamoo. Their old stuff is wow jazz and their new stuff is just really good and fun so idk even if you hate all things pop give them a listen? they might surprise you.

I will be back in October at the latest… less than three months this time, with original fiction content so stick around, engage, and have a lovely summer. See you all next time.

I’m back

Look, I know it’s been three months and two days but I have returned. The format of these little blog posts remains the same so if you wish to skip the chatter, head over to the end for a little creativity.

So where have I been? In 2018 I’ve impressed myself by keeping somewhat of a schedule and a new post was due right when I hurt my ankle and couldn’t walk or do anything fun, right before Christmas holidays. I’ve sprained my ankle before and even broken it once or twice but recovery has never lasted quite this long. I’m still not fully functioning. The pain’s been enough of a distraction to keep me busy but I’ve also been stressed over school and work. I couldn’t really work (much) so my income was lower than usual but I’ve also still not received my January paycheck so my bosses are being dicks too. At least I’ve recovered enough to be able to work full shifts. A relief. As for school, I’m doing a one-year Master’s so I have to pass EVERYTHING this year or risk another delay, which I cannot afford so I’d have to drop out. Moreover, I’m back to thesis writing, only this time the length has doubled/tripled (from 8-10k to 20-24k).

I do feel better prepared this time. I really enjoy my topic and I feel like I’ve finally mastered all the skills they expected me to master, except time management perhaps – if I had the funds I’d go see a psychologist and ask about ADHD.

Initially, I was going to post something else yesterday but only one person read it and their feedback was bad so I’m holding onto it for now. Perhaps it’ll see the light of day but I think I need to look at it myself a few weeks from now to truly judge it properly. I’m also posting later than expected because my work canceled due to the heavy rain and wind, which has woken me at 6.30 this morning. I’m not a morning person so my brain’s been foggy all day and if anything in this post seems weird, I blame my lack of sleep. Also it’s carnaval here in the Netherlands so we’re on holiday for the week, which is why I’m extra salty about being woken so early. On the upside, I’m going to Prague with some classmates tomorrow and we’re staying until Sunday. Yassssssss.

If anyone has any recommendations about places to visit or foods to try in Prague, let me know!

Now, without further ado, “the story”:

Untitled (is anyone even surprised anymore?)

In the next train he found what he was looking for. Stuck between the seat and the small radiator was wedged a note, scrawled writing on a torn envelope that anyone could’ve mistaken for trash. Why they thought this was a good idea was beyond him. It was 2019; surely they had more efficient methods.

2215 clock tower 558489094 was written on it, or so he hoped because one mistake and he was done for.

The kids on the seats surrounding him gave him strange looks as he scuffled past them, note clutched in his hand, nervously looking around. Was this really a good idea? What did he have to lose if he chose to quit right here and now, if he just sat down next to these kids and continued the journey towards the train’s final destination, pretend he’d never seen the envelope? It wasn’t like they knew what he looked like anyway. He could just disappear into the crowd, go back to the wallflower he was used to being.

Except obviously he couldn’t or he wouldn’t be here in the first place. He’d been on the verge of killing himself when the stranger approached, handing him a cellphone and a bag of cash. He’d stepped down from the railing, leaving the Han river to flow uninterrupted. He’d been curious, eager to know what chance he’d been given. He still wasn’t sure what was about to go down but he was to deliver the package to that address if he wanted to make a change. If he didn’t they would probably kill him but he didn’t much mind. That had been his own plan all along.

He shoved the note in his pocket and walked decidedly to the exit. As the train came to a halt, he felt a hand on each shoulder. “Don’t make a sound,” he heard from his left. “Move along but keep your eyes on the ground,” was added on his right.

His heart skipped a beat as he did as he was told. He was dying to turn his head and identify the person beside him but something kept his gaze focused on the floor. He was led through the maze that was the station until they stepped into the cold autumn air. A tourist was singing along to Psy’s hit, a regular occurrence in Gangnam ever since the song gained worldwide popularity. He still didn’t dare look.

He awaited further instructions but it remained quiet. When a stranger bumped into him he noticed he was all alone. The note had disappeared from his pocket and the package he’d been carrying was gone too. This was not the clock tower, nor was it the allotted time for the exchange. He wondered what had happened and wanted to report the situation, explain himself, but he had no way of contacting anyone; the phone was gone too.

He thought about what he could do next but nothing came to mind. When he heard a screech from his left he looked up and saw a couple goofing around. All around him were people talking, laughing, enjoying the scenery. A girl was putting on some lip balm while a guy was holding her phone for her. A group of teenage boys was admiring a group of teenage girls from afar. The bright moon was surrounded by twinkling stars in a dark sky.

He took a deep breath and smelled the air. It was clean and fresh and he could feel his cheeks getting cold. He smiled to himself. Life still had its surprises. Perhaps it was worth sticking around a bit longer.

existential dread and optimism

December is going to be filled to the brim with activities so I figured I’d get this out there before I’m so swamped with work I won’t have time (and, knowing me, before I forget). I’m not sure where all this came from but any thoughts are appreciated. I hope you’ll all survive this winter. They are mighty dreadful.

Dialogue with Robin (forgive me for not having a real title for this)

“I hate days like this. The sun shining brightly, the scent of freshly mown grass, ice cream dripping down children’s hands, but most of all the laughter, all the fake smiles people put on to pretend they’re happy, they’re having fun in this miserable existence.”

“They’re not fake. You just can’t comprehend that people could be so happy, so carefree because it’s so foreign to you. You think because you have to fake it, others do too. But guess what. Your experiences aren’t universal. None are.”

“They are unlike my own experiences, I’ll give you that. But as Tolstoy said: all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. I’m not saying they have the same reasons for hating existence; just that they’re faking it because society conditioned us to put up this front, to never show sadness or anxiety. To be honest about our feelings, about our intentions and thoughts and motivations, that requires unlearning what we’ve been taught, what has been drilled into us from day one. People hate to see sadness, true sadness. We all hate the sound of a baby crying and do everything to get it to laugh. Why? Because we can’t handle facing the pain of existence. And so these babies are taught to smile because smiling and laughing means the weird grownups will stop making odd faces and scaring them.”

“You’re universalising your own experiences. How can you claim to be empathising when your understanding of people is based on the conception that everyone has the same motivations in life, that everyone thinks the same way? You’ll never understand human beings if you continue to push them all into the same mould. Some people don’t fit, and never will. The world’s bigger than you and me, you know.”

“You’re not hearing what I’m saying. While our experiences differ to an extent, there is such a thing as human nature. There is an inherent part in all of us that responds to these things, that we’ve trained to respond a certain way, to appear normal, whatever that means. We’ve repressed it for so long, focused on trying to be positive, optimistic, to see beauty in this world, but now that everything’s crumbling we can’t escape its return. We will all have to face it eventually. Days like this will become exceedingly rare until they’ll have disappeared altogether. Only then will we stand a chance against life, against society, against all the lies we’ve told ourselves all these years.”

“You’re crazy. What kind of weird conspiracy theory did you read up on to be spewing all this nonsense? What happened to the Robin I once knew? It’s fine if you think this way – I’m not going to police your thoughts – but why ruin everyone else’s day with your pessimistic bullshit? Aren’t we allowed to be happy, to enjoy life? Do we all have to be miserable just because you are? I love you but you’re a right dick, you know that?”

Robin laughed. “I know.”

But was it a real laugh?

fun times at university

When I get frustrated, it’s often because I don’t understand something or am misunderstood myself. Yesterday was a culmination of both. For class I had to read Eric Hobsbawm’s text on Invented Traditions (forgive me for not looking up what it’s called), then discuss it with my classmates and the professor in class next day. The text itself isn’t horrible per se but it is quite vague when the main point he seems to be making is “there’s this phenomenon taking place in the 19th century that hasn’t been studied enough; get on it” yet for some reason he needs 60 pages to say this, inventing his own terminology in the process.

The main question we asked was what invented traditions are and how they differ from ordinary traditions. Yet no matter what everyone answered, there was no clear difference. So I kept asking because I was dissatisfied with the answer because it didn’t answer the question. However, the more we discussed the further we strayed and the more questions I asked the fewer were answered. My classmates, and even my professor, might have thought they were answering my questions but really they were rehashing things I already understood and agreed with. I don’t think they purposely misunderstood but it is frustrating that I still don’t get what the hell invented traditions are and why he didn’t just focus on the important things instead.

That’s how I ended up crying in class. Fun times. Then as icing on the cake, one of my classmates “reassured” me by telling me the text was “very intellectually challenging” so it only made sense I wouldn’t understand. Thanks, girl. Truly helpful. Instant raise in confidence. What’s worse is how nice and cool she seemed before yet the moment I opened up to her she was like “uhhhhh bye”. It’s sad. How are we ever to learn to open up and speak up about who we are and what we value when the moment we do there’s some person who will tear us down? Does she realise how hard it was to open up at all? How hard it was to trust her? And the way she said it, so sickly sweet and “understanding” or “empathetic” as if she was some kind of saint for acknowledging and finding a reason for my struggles.

Needless to say I am done with her and anyone else who thinks it’s okay to say these kinds of things. Silence would have been a much better choice. Why don’t people know when to shut up?

But the worst thing is that a few hours later I found out I failed my first class with a shockingly low 4,5 (which is lower than any grade I’ve ever received at university before) so I’m starting to think she might’ve been right. My confidence was finally up after graduating from my bachelor’s degree after all that time but then it only took this one day to push me back down.

I keep coming back to this one factor, to this same story, whenever I think about academia and that is my way of thinking. It doesn’t match other people’s. We read the same texts and while they do get some different things from them, because they’re a diverse group of individuals with unique backgrounds and life experiences, somehow they still end up thinking in the same direction, or at least following the same trail of thought, whereas I am left with conclusions an ocean away, seemingly drawn out of the blue when I mention them.

And when I ask questions I get these looks, as if I’m asking something crazy or ridiculous or obvious. Either I’m the village lunatic who doesn’t comprehend the world and anything in it or I am the ignorant child who doesn’t understand the basics you learn in elementary school. So tell me: how am I supposed to improve if asking questions is ridiculed? And why are only my questions ridiculed when other people ask far stranger and more obvious ones? Why me? What’s wrong with me that I can’t think the way they do? Am I really that different? Or is it them? Are they simply unable to burst out of their safe little bubble and see what’s out there, all the possibilities? I don’t know and I don’t get it.

I am so tempted to call my GP again and ask her to refer me to a psychologist to check what the hell is wrong with me but then I’m reminded of last time I tried and how she basically ignored my request and suicidal me was left with no one and a complete lack of trust in any doctor out there. I reached out to her last January, had a breakdown in her office, and asked her to refer me to a mental health professional, and she said “sure, I’ll call you” except she never did. I’ve seen her a few times since and she never even brought it up again. You would expect a doctor to understand that reaching out and seeking help is hard so she should be on top of things. There is no way in hell I could bring it up again myself, not after the first time. It was hard enough doing it, but getting ignored or forgotten like that really doesn’t do your image of self-worth any good. If even doctors don’t give a fuck whether you live or die, where can you turn?

And now winter’s coming again, the time when it gets dark at 5pm or earlier and everything dies. The time it’s nigh impossible to get warm, the time we celebrate stupid things just to feel less alone. And my birthday is coming up next week, which I am not looking forward to, not because I hate getting older because I actually appreciate having survived another year but because it’s always been the loneliest time, because friends always cancelled in favour of something else, because only my closest family cared to spend time with me.

So yeah, this is a bit of a pity party but it’s also all these buried feelings resurfacing, old wounds being scratched open, getting salt poured into them once more, because nothing got better with time. Everything still sucks. Nothing that needed to change has. I have tried so hard to become a better person but apparently I’m just not likeable, not someone who should be heard, not someone that can be noticed. And I don’t know what to do because I just can’t seem to make any meaningful connections. Is it me? Am I the problem here?

You know, I just finished reading Arthur Japin’s Vaslav the other day and while I could strongly relate to Peter, what worries me is how much of myself I see in his portrayals of Nietzsche and Nijinski, both of whom went crazy in the end. So I don’t know whether to take their path and just love people regardless of who they are or how they see me or if I should do the opposite, start living life for me and me alone, attempt to stop caring about people who are “unworthy”, whatever that means. I just don’t know. But I am done crying over this. People can suck all they want, they don’t deserve my tears. I’ll try to do my thing, write some books and some more poetry and just surround myself with good people, even if I have to resort to old videos online because they died or are far away.

Oh and if I fail the resit of this class I failed, I will have to drop out and redo the whole year next year. Not gonna do that. I decide this is going to be my last year at this university. If I fail, I’m dropping out for good. I will either find something else to study elsewhere or I’ll start looking for a better job but I am not restarting this programme next year if I fail. I said so last night and my mum agreed so it’s decided.

I did remember the advice my mum’s weird friend gave me last week at a party we threw. She told me I should write down everything I like and then see what jobs might come out. I did. It made me feel a bit better. I ended up with 10 potential jobs, and only a few of those are ridiculous but they had to be written down. I got author, translator, embassy (worker), travel guide, English teacher (abroad, though I hate teaching but being elsewhere would help a lot), poet, content creator (intentionally vague), world leader, monarch (I’m sure this is the most realistic option here but it might be too easy so I’ll leave it on the backburner for now and focus on something that would take a little more effort on my end).

I’m sure after this shitfest of feelings you’re all super stoked to read more stuff I wrote. Here goes.

Another time, another era

When he painted he was free. This was something he’d known from the moment he dipped his fat finger in the little jar of paint as a toddler in pre-school. Nowadays he used brushes and sponges and other tools but every once in a while a painting called for some finger action that he was always happy to provide.

He took a step back and observed his creation. He’d started on a portrait but somewhere halfway through he abandoned the idea. The result was an abstract work with many bright colours, yet it had something sinister, as if the paint was about to melt and something dark would appear from behind it, something that remained hidden, that should remain hidden.

It was his heartbreak. Ever since that summer his paintings had a haunting quality, seeming cheerful but feeling rather sinister the more you observed them. He wasn’t sure how others experienced them – he refused to read the reviews – but every time he looked at his work he got scared all over again.

She was there beside him, always, to comfort him if he needed it. She saw through his happy façade and pushed him forward when all he wanted was to look back and remember those blissful days.

She understood. Her own girlfriend had abandoned her in favour of a loveless but conventional marriage to a man of decent standing, some banker who would spoil her and satisfy her family. What could she have expected? Women were not allowed to be together like that, she knew that, yet she couldn’t help her rapidly beating heart, the warmth that gathered in her chest at the sight of those crimson lips, that soft jaw, that sharp nose. Johanna. She was in love.

He could sense her sadness, her longing, as it mirrored his own. It was kind of pathetic, how much they had given only to have it all thrown back in their faces, to see the resentment in their lovers’ eyes.

“You seduced me,” Markus had spit at him as if their moments together had meant nothing. “I never would’ve strayed without you.” His usually warm eyes now seemed icy, all tenderness long gone.

“I wish we’d never met.”

It was too much to bear. He dropped down on his knees and let his tears flow freely. Why had he left? Were they not in this together? The new legislation had even decriminalised sodomy; things were finally looking up. Why now?

It was getting hard to breathe. He curled forward and slammed the floor with his fists. Why wasn’t he good enough? Wasn’t love enough?

He started to shiver. If only he’d been born a woman. If only…

He couldn’t finish his thought. Would things be better in the future? If he’d been born a hundred years from now, would they have been able to lead a quiet life? Why was it so wrong for him to love a man?

She found him like that an hour later. She looked at the envelope in her hand once more, then at him, then back at the envelope. It was pretty, his name written in ornate golden writing. She put it away. There was no reason to hurt him more. He would read about it in the newspaper tomorrow anyway.

She kneeled down and hugged his limp form. If only she hadn’t introduced Johanna and Markus.