How to hibenate an entire year and still somehow get shit done – 2017 in a nutshell

Most years have a narrative. There’s a story to tell about the things that happened, like lost and found jobs and loves, graduations, births, deaths, travels, surprises, dreams, failures, successes, new scars, etc…
My 2017 doesn’t have a narrative. I think I overslept this year. Hit snooze and went back to hugging the pillow, blinking sleepily 12 months later, surprised it’s over.

Seriously, I’ve slept for, like, 99,999% of 2017. And the seconds I’ve been awake I’ve been daydreaming about sleeping.
Here’s why: The last couple of years have been challenging, to put it mildly. So many life-plans have derailed in such messy ways that Matt Damon’s trouble in The Martian seems like a vacation in comparison (Lucky bastard! What wouldn’t I do to be deserted on a lifeless planet and grow potatoes in my own poo!). And being who I am – stubborn, not very good at compromising or settling for anything but exactly what I want in my patended all-or-nothing way – I’ve continued along the hard path, even when it has led me under the mines of Moria, across lakes of fire, and to that level of hell filled with hipster mimes talking at movies (…but with no wifi). Then one day my trusted companions hope, persistence, motivation, ideas, creativity, energy and ambition stepped into my office and demanded a word. Said something along the lines of “Boss, we’re f*cking tired, we’ve worked day and night for ages. Sisyphus have an easier job than us. We’re going on vacation, indefinitely. You’ll notice when we get back. If we do…” And then they vamoosed. Alone in my office I later got a memo from my body, saying “Heard what your emotions just did. Those guys are so effin’ right. I’m checking out too. See ya!

Strangely enough things have still happened even if I’ve tried my best to hibernate entire 2017.

When it comes to photography I have somehow managed to take pictures in my sleep. Some of them even got published on actual paper in two issues of the art magazine Endorphine Therapy Magazine. Big thank you’s to the editor Laurie Anne for including my work.

The kind people over at DeviantArt awarded me a Daily Deviation for my piece A Beautiful Death:

I also did a commissioned portrait session (I took pictures in exchange for renting a place, long live the barter economy!). I promised the model the pictures would stay between us, so you have to take my word for it when I say they turned out really good (I had an excellent model). But most of all it was fun! I’m the only model I usually work with, because I am always available, very cheap, and always do what I say; but I can both do and learn so much more when I am behind the camera all the time. I’d love to do more of these portrait shoots, so if anyone is interested, please let me know. I travel a lot, so location isn’t a big deal, and the whole thing can stay between photographer and model. I don’t care about stuff like gender or age or things like that, I just want to shoot carbon-based lifeforms. Are you one of those and want to model, give me a holler.

The best photography adventure of the year was when I got invited to Poznan, Poland for a collaboration with artist Ewelina Dudaszek. We shot in an abandoned train factory, in a lake, in a cellar, and around in Poznan, and I had a great time. And for once I was in front of the camera more than behind it. Read more about that endeavour and see the pics in my blog “Steampunk and stomach flu in Poznan

I really should do more collabs, get inspiration and fresh input, see new things, spitballing ideas, improvise, go nuts. If anyone feels like doing that, I’m game!
Most of all I hope my creativity will return from its vacation. I can shoot pics on pure muscle memory, but I really miss the creative process and having ideas.

About writing.
I actually write every day, because that’s how I pay my bills. But it is work-stuff, and you won’t be able to read it anywhere with my name attached. And work-writing is about making clients happy, not art.
But a lot of people ask me about the recent years lack of books, columns, articles, blog posts, captions and all that stuff I used to make a lot of. If I had a penny every time someone asked when my next book/play/article is coming, I could build a bridge to Saturnus made of diamonds. So I’ll try to explain the story behind this, and hope I can make a long story short…

Once upon a time I had so much stress in my life it broke me. Fun fact: long-term stress can mess up your autonomic nervous system and your body chemistry, causing burnout, severe exhaustion (the kind a good night’s sleep can’t fix, maybe not even a good year’s sleep), pain, illness, and depression. So all that happened. It wasn’t fun. And even if I got better it’s like a bum knee – put too much strain on it and it breaks again. I’m very sensitive to stress since then. And boy have there been a lot of stress these last couple of years. Like, I could export it to China and still have enough to give away to charity. So I am currently broken again. My energy-levels are… let’s say that a normal person sleep for 8 hours to be able to do stuff the rest of the day; my ratio is more rest 20 hours to have the energy to do stuff for 4 hours. I run out of energy faster than a phone with 4 326 apps running at once. And then there’s the depression. When people hear that word they think “sad”, but that’s a feeling, like when your cat leave you for someone else and you get down about it. Depression and sadness are two very different things. When someone depressed say that they are just that, people get it wrong and usually respond with something like “then use your pain to make art”. But depression isn’t a feeling. It’s an illness caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. A lot of things happen, but most of all your emotions fail. Not all at once, first the good ones malfunction, leaving you with the negative stuff like despair, pessimism, helplessness and anxiety; but eventually those falter too, and then there’s just emptiness. The kind of emptiness that make the dead space between the stars look like the front row on a Justin Bieber gig. There’s just … n o t h i n g
You know when you have a cold and even the most delicious spicy food taste like over-boiled cardboard? That’s what it’s like to have depression, but not being able to sense emotions instead of not being able to sense flavour.

I’m sorry for the long and dreary lecture on clinical depression, but I wanted to explain my lack of creative writing once for all. It’s not about laziness, excuses, writers block, or being too busy beating level 146 in Homescapes. Having barely enough energy to put my socks on, in combination with being totally dead inside, makes even writing a shopping-list with three items an insurmountable challenge. I can’t write any more than someone with a broken leg can run. My creative vehicle won’t go anywhere until I have repaired the engine and have gas in the tank again. But broken things heal. I will return back to regular programming when my broken parts are fixed again. Count on it. There will be words.

 

What about life in 2017 then?

Well. I am still technically homeless. I’m not sleeping under a bridge or anything (the trolls threw me out because I snored). I mostly do a combo of couch-surfing and short-term renting. I have once again slept in more beds than I can count. I know that sentence sounds very promiscuous, but the only time I woke up beside a strange face was when the cat Roman slept on my back (much to Roman’s human’s surprise, Roman doesn’t like people and generally avoid anyone but his human, which again brings suspicion that I am not actually “people”).
There are ups and downs with this way of living. The ups are the constant input of new places and people and impressions. It’s an inspiring adventure, stimulating my curiosity, and it brings a lovely perspective with a constant flow of new things. The downside is that beside my bag of clothes, nothing is mine. Not the furniture I sit and sleep in, not the art on the walls, not the cup I drink my coffee in. And I’ve always been very particular about those kind of things, accepting only unique, carefully chosen, personalised things with my mark on them. Living in places that are not designed by me or filled with my choice of stuff have sort of made me forget who I am and what I like. I feel like a garment that have lost its colour from being washed too many times.

I will probably get myself a home in 2018. There’s really no practical obstacles in the way, my biggest problem right now is that my heart isn’t in it. Too many derailed moving-plans have deflated my enthusiasm. But I think I will shop around for a place to drink my coffee from my own mug in. Any suggestions? It has to be a big city, not have snow in the winter (or at least not very much or for very long), and preferably be by the sea. I’ve lived in Sweden most of my life so I don’t mind living somewhere else, and my kind of work can be done from anywhere as long as there’s wifi.

And speaking of living abroad. While I was collaborating in Poznan I stayed in Poland for some time. We kind of get along me and Poland. Especially the people and the art. Politics, not so much. But I feel relaxed there. And Poznan was a very nice city to stay in. I suspect the winds will bring me back to Poland again…

 

I’ve been too tired and empty to care about what’s going on in the world 2017, but one thing that got to me was the #metoo movement. Back when I wrote my first book more than ten years ago (for you non-swedes – it was a satirical analysis of what it means to be a man, and the set of rules coming with behaving “manly”) the research and the writing of it took me from being just another clueless “not all men”-guy to being very upset about the state of gender equality and how we look at gender roles (especially the male one). I felt a revolution was needed. Now the first part of that revolution is here. Women have finally had enough of taking shit from men. Now the next step of the revolution is for men to stop delivering said shit, and get a new, fresh “How to be a man”-manual, because there’s dinosaur excrement on the old one. I really hope I can write about that in my 2018 year-in-review.

But it was a good year to be hiding from the world, because when I hide from the reality I hide in the world of art. And 2017 had some magnificent art, especially on the screen. Denis Villeneueve proved with his Blade Runner 2049 that you can make both astonishing, unique sci-fi and honour the original. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi broke the rules for what a Star Wars movie is, and took the franchise to the next level. American Gods not only was a great version of Neil Gaiman’s story, it was a unique show with a wonderful take on religion and sexuality (c’mon, how often do you get to see a show with a man swallowed by a vagina and with sex between two Middle Eastern men, and it doesn’t even feel provocative, just a natural part of the story). David Lynch have never been more Lynchian than in his revisit to Twin Peaks, and it was even more weird and wonderful than we ever dreamed it could be.
But the tv-moment for me was of course when Peter Capaldi passed on the torch and left Doctor Who. His Doctor is probably my favourite, and dead as I am inside I bawled like a baby when he uttered his last words, “Doctor, I let you go”, and regenerated. But for the first time ever the next Doctor is a woman. Finally! Jodi Whittaker is going to ace this one. She owned the first 30 seconds of the role. And you gotta love someone that delivers that first crucial line in such a thick Yorkshire accent that Oh, brilliant” sounds like “Branknana

But the best part of my 2017 is the people. For hiding from the world as much as I do, kind and interesting strangers sure do find their way into my life. They just pop up, and share their troubles, worries, stories, art, dreams, hopes, …even the end of their lives. And I am surprised, intrigued, humbled, and most of all grateful for that. They have reminded me that the world is more than the inside of my head, that there is fun to be had even in the dark moments, that loners also need others from time to time, and that we all are brothers and sisters and need to help each other out. Thank you strangers-becoming-friends, for reminding me what life is all about.

 

I have no wishes, resolutions, plans or anything else for 2018. I will improvise this one.
But I’ll do my best to not hit snooze this year too…

 

And now for my favourite music/books/tv/movies of 2017…

Music:
Arch Enemy, The Chain Gang of 1974, Flor, Handsome Ghost, Igorrr, MUNA, Olafur Arnalds, Pale Waves, The Rescues, SikTh, Spiritbox, Von Grey

Books:
Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology, Grady Hendrix: Paperbacks from Hell, Caitlin R Kiernan: Agents of Dreamland, Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage

Movies:
Okja, Dunkirk, Baby Driver, Your Name, Logan, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Raw, Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water, The Last Jedi

TV:
American Gods, Ash vs Evil Dead, Broadchurch, Channel Zero: No-end House, Dark, Doctor Who, The Exorcist, Fortitude, Game of Thrones, The Gifted, Legends of Tomorrow, Legion, Lucifer, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, Stranger Things, Taboo, Twin Peaks, Walking Dead

 

Take care of yourselves, and have a really wonderful 2018!
/Peter

 

Listening to: Eivor
Reading: John Constantine Hellblazer
Watching: Doctor Who fan edits
Drinking: Merlot

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