hold your breath

A few years ago, I drafted a blog post about how I sometimes hold my breath when I walk past bins or smokers or people who, for one reason or another, look like they might smell. I never finished writing this post, and never published it because I thought it was too weird. 

(But I don’t mean to be judgemental. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone has just been to the gym, or maybe I’m out running, and there are other sweaty people out running. And it’s not always body odour — sometimes people who exercise wear too much deodorant.)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared an article that detailed the findings of a Belgian study on the kinetics of exhaled air/vapour during exercise. Specifically, the study looked at walking, running and cycling; and the aim was to determine whether or not it was safe to walk/run/cycle behind or beside someone, with a view to minimising transmission of airborne viruses.

As it turns out, you probably want to stay at least five metres away from other runners, and stay further away from other cyclists, if that is your exercise of choice. 

Recently, I’ve noticed that I hold my breath more and more when I walk past people — perfectly normal-looking people with no suggestion of body odour or excessive fragrance usage, and not even a cigarette in hand.

The other day, I happened to walk past a man in the street, and he turned his face away from me as we passed each other. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, and perhaps he happened to see something interesting across the road, but maybe he was holding his breath too.

Who’s the weird one now, hey?

passing gratitude

Along some of the streets in my neighbourhood, the footpaths are bordered by grass on either side.* Sometimes this grass gets a bit overgrown, and, at some parts, there isn’t enough space for two people to comfortably walk past each other without someone walking on the grass a little (especially if everyone is carrying bags of groceries, shopping or other items).

Often, without really thinking about it, I step onto the grass to allow the other person passage along the footpath. I’m usually wearing sneakers, and I guess I move pretty quickly, so I suppose it’s not a big deal for me to walk on the grass, and I probably just step aside faster than the other person (not much point in us both stepping aside onto the grass). Continue reading

daily haiku: week 1

I’ve now finished seven days of writing daily haiku, so I thought it would be a good idea to look back and share some of my favourites. It’s actually been more than seven days, if you want to get technical about it, since I actually started thinking up haikus before the start of July. My mind was sort of preparing itself for the challenge, like warming up before a marathon.

Since July started on a Monday, the start of the work week, I tended to think up haiku on my way to work: while walking to the bus stop, on the bus, in my car, or while cycling. (Yes, my commute was very varied last week.) This meant that several of my haiku are related to the outside world: nature, meteorological phenomena, animals, etc. Whatever I observed gained automatic consideration for haiku topics. Continue reading

right is right (most of the time)

I have developed a habit of observing and scrutinising my thoughts and actions — in effect, I have made myself a subject of my own study, primarily for amusement and curiosity, but also with a view to self-improvement, as shown in previous posts, such as that one about counting stairs, and my more recent one about sleep. The observations contained herein are quite a non-event, and really affect nothing and no one, but perhaps someone, somewhere, can find some amusement in it too.

I was actually talking with a colleague/friend about our respective propensities toward what some people might call OCD. My friend is known in the workplace as being quite particular about how things are; she even jokes about it herself. People who know both of us probably don’t think I’m quite as bad as she is, but I have realised I’m quite particular in other ways, and, after talking to this friend, even she thinks I’m rather odd. Continue reading

noticing birds (again)

One of my most distinct memories of Japan (of which there are many) is standing in the above ground train stations – in Kyoto and Hiroshima and maybe a couple of other places, but I don’t remember exactly – and noticing all the little birds flying around. Finches or sparrows or something – I’m not really sure, but they were tiny little things, and flew about energetically and ceaselessly. I was in awe at the presence of so much birdlife in the middle of these big cities.  Continue reading


There are some nights I go to bed and have absolutely no trouble falling asleep. Then there are nights my mind is particularly hyperactive, and just keeps going from one thing to another. The only benefit of this, I’ve noticed, is that sometimes I (eventually) get to experience that almost blissfully dopey pre-sleep stage, somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness.

Like a lot of things that I’ve randomly read about on blogs, or written about, myself, I reckon other people must experience this too. But it’s not like that knee-jerk reaction / sensation of falling, which some people get just as they’re about to fall asleep. It’s a lot nicer than this (I have experienced that falling sensation too, but not much recently).

Whenever this happens to me, I’ll be lying in bed, my mind wandering from tangent to tangent, and then I suddenly realise that my thoughts have become almost completely nonsensical. And because I’m not quite asleep, but not really awake, I kind of just observe the absurdity of these thoughts, and I recognise, in that moment, that it’s a sign that sleep is almost here. It’s actually kind of amusing and soothing at the same time; I’ll generally fall asleep without any trouble after this stage.

Only thing is, I wish I could remember what some of these thoughts were. I keep pen and paper near my bed, but I reckon the second I try to return to the realm of wakefulness, the thoughts would be lost before I even picked up the pen. And, of course, once I’m asleep, there’s no chance of recovering the thoughts.