Monthly Archives: February 2014

5 days in Lisbon

IMG_0917

I spent recess week in Lisbon with some friends, gleefully soaking in the sunshine which I haven’t seen in so very long. It was really lovely, and we saw something new every day. Somehow the sun and the streets and the rooftops felt rather familiar, and the place felt a lot like home.

Day 1: Belém

Visited an old monastery and a tower by the water, with sunlight spilling into windows and illuminating the edges of white stone carvings.

SAM_0957

Day 2: Alfama

Got lost in winding alleys that intertwine across hills that overlook the sea. A tram line runs through the city, with its overhead cables cutting the sky into fragments of light.

IMG_0948

Day 3: Cascais

Took a train to a picture perfect beach. Took off our coats and dipped our feet in the icy water, enjoying the sun on our backs and cola gummies in our mouths.

SAM_1119

Day 4: Sintra

A magical forest that felt rather like the sort of highlands you’d find in Malaysia – mild and misty.

SAM_1220

Day 5: Shopping and Eating

Okay that’s a lie. We ate well every day. Actually, it seemed like the day’s schedules were built around visits to cafes and pastry shops. Portuguese pastries are lovely. They tend to contain custard, and have a pleasantly mild sweetness to them, which again reminded me of Asian desserts.

photo

“迷いながらも君を探す旅”

“Even while I’m lost, I go on a journey to find you” 

~ Kyoukai no Kanata

Some reflections on the body, on matter, or something like that.

This body. This buffoon of a machine that, for all its design, doesn’t always seem to work very well. You want to climb a hill but you have flat feet and you know your knees will hurt. You want to visit that relative but you’re asthmatic, and they have two dogs. Your skin flares up from being in contact with everything from grass to seawater to jeans. We are intelligently designed, poorly produced.

This body. Contains a thousand springs and dies if one be gone. Athletes know it full well. Push yourself too hard for a season and it takes years of rehab to recover. Even then, you won’t exactly be brand new. An internationally renowned speaker who has a stroke and in an instant, all he could do was struggle to whisper. We break far too easily. And once broken, there is no turning back time. In our day, we don’t realize how strange it is that a harp of a thousand strings should keep in tune so long*. We are walking, living, talking miracles.

This body. Your vessel on this perilous journey across time and space. By your every breath and the channels of your senses it connects you to the world you find yourself in. The world and you – you are made of the same matter. Yet why does it sometimes feel like you’ve been secretly slipped into existence?

These bodies, possessed by light. We long, like Milton’s angels with bodies of light, to slip into and through each other and shine brighter. We don’t just want to be with. We want to enter in and be that person we behold. Lewis describes it as a longing for “total interpenetration instead of mere embraces”, a physical union with another that would make us whole. Yet it is our very physical bodies that block it from happening. We are such contradictory creatures. These bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we’ll never get used to it.** I’ll never get used to it.

“…we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on on side to the angels, on the other to tom-cats. It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, at our expense, but also (who doubts it?) for our endless benefit” ~The Four Loves, C.S Lewis

*Creation, William Billings

**Scheherazade, Richard Siken 

You are a doll with a beautiful girl

IMG_0691[1]

You are a doll with a beautiful girl

You dangle from her fingers and you’re breathless

Buffeted by the folds of her white dress

That shimmers on her bones like snow

You are a doll with a beautiful girl

But you cannot love her

Because you are all rag cloth and stuffing and beads;

A shallow vessel, an in-between

But she holds you, all stitches and patches

In rough child’s arms, with rapid breath

And you’re tangled in locks of wind-played hair

Her child’s voice, pure and firm

Glows like sunset on the rooftops

Each word sears an image in you

Of white dresses and snow

Soon the lace will be torn and threading undone

But you’re held together by aching

When she looks at you,

Eyes dark and glistening, like rain

And says, “I’m right here,

Please be okay”

thinking

 

Very clumsy poetry today heh. I just felt like writing something on a whim so thanks for putting up with me 😉

Chalk Farm on a rainy night

IMG_0673

 

IMG_0657IMG_0671IMG_0653IMG_0654There’s something rather nostalgic about the atmosphere of a rainy city at dusk. We tried a new running route yesterday, and went up Primrose Hill, from which we could see the city skyline, though it was blurred by the spray of rain. Then, wanting to explore a little, we took a spontaneous walk, going further beyond the hill to a little district called Chalk Farm, where we had rum and raisin ice cream before circling through Camden Town and were back just in time for dinner, icy icy cold.