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El mejor año de mi vida – 2023 in a nutshell

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.

Didn’t think that I would sum up this year with a Lenin quote (and to be honest, I’m more of a “Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”-kinda guy when it comes to Lenin quotes). But the last couple of years life has been stagnant water – dark, contaminated, lacking oxygen and movement, and so stinky that it would make Shrek retch and reach for something nicer to freshen up the air, like a used diaper. But then a wild stream of freshness and life came flooding and swept all the murkiness away. Sometimes life just… change.

A LOT!

The last couple of years have just been a very long series of unfortunate events. One worse than the other. At some point a living hell becomes the new normal, and living is being replaced by barely surviving. The thing with being in survival mode is that it is a non-existence. There’s no hope, no dreams, no life, no tomorrow. It’s like being dead, but still having to go to work.

But then it changed.

The constant flow of unfortunate events just… stopped. Peace, love, and opportunity took their place. And somehow this year became the best of my life.

I’m not sure where to start, because so much happened this year, but why not where I am right now, at the end of 2023. I’m in my very comfortable and beautiful bed, with the love of my life, my wife Natalia, by my side. Our wonderful cat Velvet is sleeping peacefully between us. If I turn my head, I can see the Pacific Ocean outside the window. It’s a lovely warm day outside, and the sun is glittering in the waves. A post card view that is somehow my daily reality.  I’m more peaceful and content. Suspiciously healthy. The happiest that I have ever been. Life is the best that it has ever been.

Before this, my best hope was perhaps horrible but in new and interesting ways. But a complete 180 to the best it has ever been?! That’s just crazy. Maybe I’ve been hallucinating the entire year, but hey, I’m not complaining. Who wants to live in the current reality anyway? It’s ridiculously expensive, and no one is having a good time.

Anyway. Two big things are the cornerstones of all this change. One is that I moved to the other side of the world. The other is that I married the love of my life.

Let’s begin with the move. The plans to relocate somewhere warmer and more relaxed have been around for quite some time. I’m a freelancer after all, and I can work from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the circumstances haven’t let me. But as soon as they changed, I jumped on a plane (well, a bunch of planes), travelled to the other side of the world and put down my bags in ….. Valparaiso!

The funny thing is that many years ago, I heard a song by Anggun titled Valparaiso. The lyrics goes something like this:

Anywhere the wind blows
Is better than these blues
Find your way, you’re so close
Heaven can come true

Valparaiso by the sea
Valparaiso
Bring me back into your dreams
Valparaiso
Cause at my window there’s a moon

I honestly thought that this was a made-up place just for the song, but it turned out to be a very real and very beautiful city in Chile. This port city by the Pacific Ocean is sometimes called The San Francisco of Latin America due to its many hills and steep funiculars, colorful houses, vibrant art scene, bohemian vibes, so much great street art, cultural and architectural landmarks, and breathtaking views of the ocean. One thing is sure: it’s one hell of a city, and I absolutely love it!

There is a lot to say about moving to the other side of the world more or less overnight. Everything is different. I’m not just talking about language and culture. Chile is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are the opposite. I experienced winter in July, and now at the end of December it’s hot and sunny summer days. And the moon is upside down, the stars are different, and the sun and moon wander in the opposite direction. It’s like being on another planet. But it became home the moment I set my foot here. Everything is different, but it also feels just right and like home. There is so much to explore and find out and experience, but it is also like I have lived here all my life. I will explore this feeling and everything about Valparaiso in future posts because there is just too much to say about it. But it is my home now, and I love it.

Valparaiso became home because this is where my heart has its home. Me and Natalia, our story is both recent and centuries old. We are like two vampires that saw the birth of time, got lost for a while in the dark corners of the world, and then aligned together again. I traveled oceans of distance and time to be with her. And now we are home together. She’s the love of my life, my soulmate, my partner in crime, and my ride-or-die. Our stories, journeys, fates, wounds, superpowers, spells, bloodstreams, and visions come together into one unique wonderful whole. It’s the dream I never dared to dream. A love bigger than my imagination. It is home.

We started our life together in an AirBnB-loft in the city with an ocean view and lots of cats (we named them Tiger, Ginger, Dummy, and Taylor Swift). Our first month together was a wonderful honeymoon filled with walks, talks, good food, and not getting out of bed much. Exploring each other and our surroundings. Then we started looking for our own place. Found one quicker than expected. A lovely 2-bedroom apartment on the 17th floor on one of Valparaiso’s hills called Cerro Los Placeres. It’s a wonderful home with a stunning view of the ocean and everything you need just around the corner. We started filling it with bones, velvet, dead stuff, oddities, offerings, books, and dark things so it became our own little private universe. It’s a beautiful, magical place and I love it. By far the best place I have ever lived.

On a Thursday evening late in May we got married in the kitchen of our home. I wore a black velvet jacket with a red rose wrapped in black kraft paper. Natalia was wearing a black version of the dress from Ready Or Not and a vampire bride crown with gems red like fresh blood. We were surrounded by a handful of friends and family, said our vows to the officiant by the kitchen desk (I have never Spanished so hard in my life, and of course I said “Si, quiero” at the wrong moment), then feasted on champagne, laughs and red velvet cake. After partying half of the night, we danced our wedding dance to Type O Negative’s “Be My Druidess”, stumbled into bed, and woke up as husband and wife (and really hungover). It was the most beautiful moment of my life.

There’s a third family member as well. Velvet. She’s Natalia’s cat since ten years, but since she’s an outdoorsy cat we weren’t sure she would like it in an apartment. It was nervous at first, because Velvet has been so against life inside that she is known for breaking windows to get out. Not a good thing to do on the 17th floor. But after a day or two of skepticism, Velvet decided that this indoor life with lots of food and snacks, cozy furniture, warm blankets, and kind humans doing your every bidding was the best thing ever.

We have all changed a lot during this year. That’s what happens when bad situations are replaced with a peaceful and love-filled life. This change has happened for Velvet as well. I was told that she was a shy cat that wasn’t exactly cuddly or wanted to be in your lap. So I was a bit surprised when she climbed up in my lap for a nap. But at the same time not. It’s not the first time it has happened. I’m not a cat whisperer or anything, but I’m what cats really appreciate: warm and calm. I’m the perfect cat furniture. Anyway. This change in our dark little nugget has shown itself in many other ways. She shows more personality, has become very vocal, and has a lot of opinions on where we are and what we are doing. She’s basically a herding cat that decides which room we all should be in. But we love her to bits. She’s our gorgeous nugget, our adorable void, and the best little chicken butt in the world.

So yeah, life is pretty fucking good. I’m trying hard to think about anything bad that has happened this year, but I’m coming up empty. I don’t believe in karma, bad or good luck, or that the universe keep tabs of what’s going on. Life is chaos, and we surf those waves as best as we can, and when we’re too exhausted to surf we drown. But a delusional part of me is yelling “Finally! You OWED me, life!” anyway. But I am definitively counting my blessings, throwing them in the air and letting them rain down over me, snorting them, licking them, and sleeping with them clutched to my chest.

Speaking of snorting and licking. After years of doing absolutely nothing, I did stuff in 2023. I’m pretty sure I did more things this year than I did in the last decade. I can’t write about all of it, but here are some highlights, in no particular random disorder:

Went to concerts. After years of craving some kick-ass live music, I finally got some satisfaction. Started in the shallow end of the pool by checking out some domestic tribute bands doing pretty decent impressions of Ghost and Rammstein. Had a great time, but in a moment of euphoria when absolutely no brain cells were involved, we decided to drain the bar of all its vodka, so I came back home with more bruises than memories. Didn’t repeat that mistake when we went to see Mastodon and Gojira. They passed Santiago on their co-headlining Mega-Monsters Tour, so we went on a mini-vacation. Stayed at a nice hotel, ate some delicious food, and most of all: headbanged like maniacs at the gig. I like Mastodon, and they did a great gig, but I am a big fan of Gojira, and I transcend to a higher plane every time I see them live. No exception this time. Had an absolute blast!

Got new tattoos. I always have some ideas and half-finished designs laying around. When I found out that Natalia’s friend Yesenia was an accomplished tattoo artist, I finished my ideas and let her needle do its magic with skin, blood, and ink. For a long time now, I have wanted to do something bigger and connected, so I did a death moth for my back that connected with some art nouveau flower vines that flow over my shoulders and down my chest. Yesenia did an amazing job, and I’m ridiculously happy with the result. I’m already working on the next ideas…

Watched a lot of lucha libre. If you’re not familiar with lucha libre, it’s a fun form of entertainment masquerading as sport. It’s a kind of acrobatic and highly choreographed wrestling/martial arts performed by flamboyant characters in fantastic outfits. Think 80s metal bands mixed with 80s creature movies mixed with telenovela drama. Normally I am violently bored by any kind of sport, but since this is more like an action movie in the form of a cabaret, I’ve been wildly entertained by it. I mean, it has fire demons, gay wrestlers doing butt-punches, betrayal, spandex, colourful masks, lots of metal music, spectacular back flips, and the “fights” often end up among the seats closest to the ring (yes, I’ve had to jump out of the way of wrestlers being thrown at my seat). What’s not to like? Every form of entertainment where you risk end up with bruises as a member of the audience is great entertainment!

Ate a lot of delicious food. I’m still chewing my way through the Chilean kitchen, but so far I’m enamored with empanadas (like a mini calzone filled with yummy stuff), manjar (dulce de leche), Barros Luco (a hot sandwich with beef and melted cheese, and after I’m done improving it: lots of chili sauce), Sopapillas (fried pumpkin pastries), Chorillana (fries, onions, spicy sausage, finely cut beef, and fried eggs in a pile), and all the delicious fresh seafood that is just around the corner since we live by the ocean. Chile is also a great bread- and wine nation. And the cakes at the local pastelerias fill my veins with chocolate and vanilla just by smelling them. But the best food is of course the great meals Natalia cooks. It’s a strange feeling since I’m so used to being in the kitchen, but I’m outclassed here, and my tastebuds refuse to let the rest of me near the stove when there is such a better option than my own food.

Visited the ocean basically daily. It takes like ten minutes to walk down to the Pacific Ocean! There’s a beautiful beach, a fishing harbour, restaurants, and a long seaside walkway. It’s like living in a dream. The ocean is always a magical, beautiful, and peaceful place. It’s one of my happiest places. No matter if it’s a sunny, foggy or windy day. And did I mention that there are pelicans, sealions, and dolphins! There are even vultures flying around here (there shouldn’t be, but since we have destroyed basically all the nature on this planet, they have no choice but to fly around in the city. They seem to nest by the nearby university. I guess burnt-out students are pretty close to a nice rotten carcass…).

Experiencing earthquakes. Chile is a very seismic country. I had only been here a day when the first earthquake struck, and there’s been several more throughout the year. But this is also a country that is built to handle them (and the tsunamis they may cause), so there’s usually not that much damage. The building we live in now handles the tremors very well, and most of the time an earthquake happens, I think that I’m drunk without remembering how it happened, but then I realise that it is the building that is swaying, not me. I know it is morally wrong to appreciate natural disasters, but so far they have been more entertaining than anything.

Learning Spanish. Because that’s what they speak in Chile. It’s fun, but studying a new language has also been difficult for me. For two reasons. One is that my cognitive functions and learning abilities are barely a shadow of what they just to be because of burnout. I’m healing, but slowly. I still have problems with focusing, comprehending, and remembering. The other reason is that they are speaking their own version of Spanish here in Chile. The dialect has its own pronunciation, intonation, and vocabulary. In my ears, common, simple phrases such as “Como estas?” or “Donde esta el manicomio?” sounds like “weeeeooooiiiwaaa woooiiiweeeoooo wayooo”. I know that I will learn it eventually, but for now it’s reaaaallllyyy exhausting to learn both Spanish and Chileno at the same time with my broken mind.

Speaking Swedish. During the Pinochet-years, a lot of Chileans had to escape, and many of them ended up in Sweden. So I’ve probably encountered more people speaking Swedish than English here. Not that I mind. But it’s a weird feeling to travel to the other side of the world and constantly running into people speaking my mother tongue.

Getting better. It’s definitely not healthy to be in survival mode for years and years. The long-term stress in combination with bad coping mechanisms have done the same thing to my mental and physical health that the Israeli forces have done to Gaza. But I have started to heal. After my arrival here, I have slowly gained more strength and started to feel more alive. I sleep better, I’m losing excess weight, have less anxiety and less darkness inside, have better hair (my beard also got some of its colour back), I no longer need to take Omeprazole daily for my stomach problems, and so much more. Of course I made the mistake of thinking that I would get back to my old self overnight as soon as I got here. And while a lot of things improved very quickly, this healing will take time. It’s like having a broken leg, but mentally. Without getting a cast, and at the same time being forced to continue walking with fractured bones, it can’t heal. It just gets worse while everything is painful and slow. And just like a broken leg, the damage I’ve taken during the years in survival mode will take time to heal. Since I’m a complete idiot that can’t accept the laws of physics nor my own limitations, I’ve been very frustrated about it. But now I have accepted that this year (and probably some of the next) will be dominated by convalescence. I will be able to live somewhat normally again. Do things. Create. Have dreams and plans. Live, and not just survive. I’m not entirely sure that I remember how to do that after all these years of not-living. But I’m going to try. And I will enjoy every fucking moment of it.

Speaking of creating. One creative outlet that I really got back to was photography. I’ve had a difficult relationship with my camera for some years now. It has looked at me like an eager puppy, begging to be played with, but the exhaustion and the deep emptiness inside me has been too much. Like everything else, this has changed this this year. A new life and a new location really awakened my hunger for photography again. When I look at my folders, I can see that I took around 100 pics last year. This year’s photo folder contains around 2 500 photos. Here are some of them:

Another thing that changed this year is that I could read books again. For years now, my brain has been too fried by stress, exhaustion, and depression to be able to transform the words on the page into stories in my imagination. It’s like a cognitive impotence. But that has healed quickly, and I was able to read again already on the plane. My to read-list is +200 books by now, and I haven’t even been able to peek at the latest releases, but I did read the books I’ve wanted to read the most the last couple of years, and I can highly recommend them. The first one was Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. I got it recommended by a friend almost ten years ago, and I said that I will read it when I get to my new home. That took almost a decade, but now I could finally read it, and it was as good as everyone say it is. Masterpiece! Other great books that I’ve read during the year is:

Watched a bunch of great movies as well:

Another amazing tv/streaming year:

The best music came from:

There are weeks when decades happen…

Yeah, no shit!

This is the longest year in review-entry that I have ever written, and it’s still just a little snowflake on the top of the iceberg. It feels almost sacrilegious to condense life-changing events such as a wedding and a cross-planet relocation to a few short paragraphs, but that’s internet for ya. And I still feel that this is just the beginning. It’s been a magical, wonderful year filled with so many amazing things. But it still feels like this year was the crashlanding and the months of rehab in the hospital afterwards. I think that life will truly begin in 2024. When I can “walk” again without a mental limp. There are plans and ambitions and dreams and desires. So many that an end-of-the-year post won’t be enough. For too long this journal has been more of a duty than a playground. I need to write again. Just for the fun of it. And I have so much to tell. Check back on this page, because from now on there will be posts more often than just once a year. There will be life, adventures, thoughts, deliriums, laughs, stories, and strange things that don’t exist yet. Thank you for being patient with me. Life is back.

Live fully, love endlessly, dream dangerously, and have a great 2024!

Retinal Detachment – 2022 in a nutshell

On New Year’s Day I heard someone saying, “No more resolutions – it’s the circumstances turn to improve”. That one resonated deeply with me. I’ve had to be stronger than I possibly can be for years now, hoping that next year will be a little bit easier, but next year always says “You thought that was a total shitshow? Hold my beer…”

I’m not going to list all the disasters and misfortunes of 2022, I’m so so so so tired of doing that each year, I don’t want to turn into Dostoevsky, but there are some things that really pulled a dark curtain over this year. The worst being the death of my uncle Bosse. I’ve more or less been his “parent” these last couple of years since dementia stole his mind. And after surviving blood sugar levels that would have killed a mountain, a heart attack, several bouts of covid, and even breast cancer; he just stopped breathing one evening. He had turned 81, which for a diabetic is like being 110 (they have at least 20 years shorter lifespan), and I suspected that he was actually immortal, but everything ends…

Since I’ve been “in charge” of him these last couple of years, it fell on me to handle all the administrative procedures, and boy is it a lot of paperwork when somebody dies. It took months. And it such a weird feeling to bury someone close in both a practical and emotional sense as well as in a bureaucratical way. Now it’s done, but I still keep his number in my phone…

The other shitty thing was when I woke up one morning and the vision in my right eye was like looking through an old jam jar – the world looked blurry, twisted and green. I got sent to the eye-doctor, and the verdict was retinal detachment. The retina is the layers of nerve tissue at the back of the eye that receive images and sends them to the brain. So it’s kinda vital for being able to see. If you are very unlucky, the retina can start to peel away from the eye and eventually tear. And of course I was that unlucky. This is an emergency, so I was quickly transported to a hospital specialised in this kind of surgery. When the surgeon explained the procedure to me, I was thinking that going blind would be the better option. First they cut open the eye, then they squeeze out all the stuff inside the eye, fixate the retina with laser, then fill the eye with nitrous oxide and close it again. But before the anxiety could rev its engines, I was drugged with a lot of funny pills, so by the time I was wheeled into surgery I was having my own private rave party. In fact, the procedure was a very chill and trippy experience that I almost enjoyed. Now I get why people do drugs.

Surprisingly the worst part of the procedure was sleeping after the surgery. The reason my eye was filled with N2O was so the gas could put pressure on the retina. In order to put pressure on the right side of the eye, I had to sleep face down. No biggie, I thought, but goddammit how frustrating it can be to not move at all during the night. I also had to have my head bent downwards for 24 hours, walking around like a contemplating monk (or someone with a floor-fetish). It took almost two months for the gas to leave my eye, and when I could see again I noticed that the world looked weird. Unfortunately, the tear in the retina had damaged the macula (the most sensitive part of the retina that process sharp and detailed vision), and that is a permanent damage. The best way I can describe it is like a sort of mix between a funhouse mirror and looking out a window on a rainy day. The world seen through my right eye is bent and askew. It’s survivable when I’m out and about but sitting in front of a screen is a pain in the ass. The letters look weird and it’s difficult to read, and my head gets tired quickly. Not a great thing when my job as a writer is 100% screentime. Now it takes me a day to do what I used to do in 1-2 hours. Stupid retina, wanting to separate when we had it so good together….

This is just two picks from a big pile of shit happening this year, and there is a lot more there that I don’t even have the strength to talk about yet. Sure, when I’ve been talking with my friends in Ukraine and Iran, I have realised that things could definitely be worse, but I am only human, and I passed my limit a long time ago. My mental and physical warning lights are blinking so frantic now that I must look like a christmas tree having a seizure. Lately I’ve been having blackouts where I suddenly find myself crying and hyperventilating on the floor without having any idea how I got there. And my blood-pressure is probably 4 digits by now. If things doesn’t change I suspect my 2023 year-in-review will be replaced with my obituary. But I’m crazy enough to have hope. Hope that I will tell stories about the most wonderful things next year…

At least this disaster of a year had a really good soundtrack. Great releases from Rammstein, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend, Tegan & Sara, Polyphia, Spiritbox, Muna and many others. But my favourite album was Soilwork’s Övergivenheten (The Abandonment). A beautiful collection of songs blending melodic death metal with melancholy like only Soilwork can. Making this album even more special was the tragic twist that their guitarist and main songwriter David Andersson passed away (from mental health problems and alcohol) shortly after the release. With titles like Dreams of Nowhere, Is It In Your Darkness and Death I Hear You Calling, maybe there were signs that something wasn’t right. You will be deeply missed David…

Of the movies that I’ve watched 2022, I can highly recommend Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Werewolf By Night, Deadstream, The Batman, Top Gun Maverick, Prey, Mad God, and most of all: Everything Everywhere All at Once (this was definitely Michelle Yeoh’s year).

Lots of great tv too. But there were two shows that really blew me away. I was so thrilled to finally see Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece The Sandman on screen. Like many others I was cautiously hopeful, because it is a very special story that is hard to translate into moving pictures. But they made it, and it was a bliss to watch Dream, his sister Death, and the others come to life. I have watched the first season three times now, and it is perfection! But the biggest surprise of the year was Andor. How can a prequel to a prequel starring the third lead from Rouge One be this good?! This is what Star Wars can be when you take the franchise seriously. Great writing and even greater acting. Mature, thrilling, complex, intelligent, and the most realistic and captivating Star Wars ever.

Since 2022 was all about surviving and enduring, stuff like being creative or having a life had to be put aside. But I did take some pictures…

Stay safe peeps!

Eternal Blue – 2021 in a nutshell

Well, that was a big fucking disappointment. But who’s surprised? I’m not the kind of person that glance in the rearview mirror even under normal circumstances (the future is so much more interesting than the past), and with a year like 2021 behind us I feel like complete and utter denial is the correct way to deal with it. It was just a bad dream.

But for the sake of keeping up the tradition of some kind of annual “stuff that happened this year”, here’s some of the things I do remember from 2021…

My body told me that I need reading glasses, and hair oil. Also noticed that I have more body that usual (and it’s the pasty kind). Not getting any younger…

Was offered an audio book deal. But the contract was a disappointment, and I don’t want to support business models that throw the author under the bus. But it got me thinking about investing in recording equipment and do my own audio books in the future.

Retired my old Lenovo Legion for a brand-new Dell XPS 13. Believe the hype. So smoooooooth. It’s the Bollinger and silk sheets of laptops. And I love all the ways it’s possible to pimp the design. I’ve put a Silverblack Wood skin on it.

Got my vaccine shots. Didn’t feel a thing. Not even the needle. Science is wonderful! Now I just need a booster-shot for my faith in humanity. I have made my peace with human irrationality by now, but this is getting ridiculous. Is this really the way we behave now, or is it all a giant absurd art-installation?

Have tried to avoid reality as much as possible. It’s all really very overrated. Except the part with cheese.

I swear the last 6 months of 2021 was just two weeks long.

Participated in my fist live-streamed funerals. Or the Funeral Doom Zoom as I like to think of them. Worked just fine sitting by the kitchen table and sobbing in front of the laptop.

Was expecting at least two more funerals (#fuckcancer), but some people are just really hard to kill. Glad I’m getting some more time with them.

Vice of the year: mini salamis

I’ve been so hyped about Spiritbox ever since they released their first songs a few years ago. They’ve grown so much and so fast. This year they have released killer song after killer song. When their debut album arrived after the summer my jaw dropped. Is this really a debut from a band that is still recording their stuff in their kitchen? It’s a milestone in metal history and a game-changer. It landed as number 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock/Hard Rock Albums, and 13 on the Billboard 200. That’s unheard of. But it’s a unique band. They manage to blend all kinds of genres and influences and still consistently sound like themselves. There’s darkness, brutality, dreamlike soundscapes, emotions enough to make you cry, hooks, breakdowns, rage, tears, everything! As one reviewer put it: “Spiritbox already sound like multi-platinum superstars, the kind that metal hasn’t produced in years at this point. It’s that unmistakable, overwhelming feeling of listening to a classic record for the first time.”

I’m so proud of them!

There was also great music from: Gojira, Times of Grace, Twelve Foot Ninja, Jinjer, SION

Dune. What an epic movie. Denis Villeneuve is a cinematic genius. And after Dune part 2 he is set to make Rendezvous with Rama. Can’t! Wait!

I’m one of those that enjoyed Matrix Resurrections. Loved the meta-approach. And Keanu and Carrie-Ann had tons of more chemistry between them this time.

Small screen stuff:

  • Squid Game – believe the hype.
  • Brand New Cherry Flavor – what a surprise! Amazing and weird horror drama that felt like it was a collaboration between David Lynch and David Cronenberg. Loved it!
  • Star Trek Discovery – best ST in years. And it actually has David Cronenberg! In front of the camera!
  • Hawkeye – how did they manage to make such an entertaining mini-series about the most boring Avenger?!
  • Loki – forever the least boring Marvel character
  • The Nevers – Joss Whedon is apparently a complete asshole, but he managed to make old tropes about people with abilities feel fresh and engaging
  • The Expanse – Bummed out that this was the last season of the best sci-fi show this side of Battlestar Galactica. But what a way to end this masterpiece!

My brain still won’t let me read. I feel mentally impotent – willing but unable…

Didn’t take a lot of pictures this year. But I’m learning a lot about editing. Here’s some stuff, both new and old-but-seen-through-new-eyes…

Stay safe sweethearts!

Dark mode – 2020 in a nutshell

If life is like a movie, then 2020 is that moment when the projector breaks down and you just sit there in the dark, staring into nothing, feeling your life pass you by, one slow second by one even slower second.

…oh, and about 2 million people dies of bad popcorn.

We all now what a complete shitshow of a garbage fire this year was. No need to wallow in it. I think the personal image that captures this year best was when I was out for an evening stroll on Christmas eve, and I saw a cosy house with a lot of warm xmas lights in the windows. A hearse stood parked outside with its rear tailgate open, waiting for the body. No Santa this Yule, only the grim reaper…

Did I catch the virus? Probably. At the beginning of the pandemic I got a really bad case of what felt like the flu on steroids. The testing hadn’t begun at that time, so all I could do was to be down and out in bed. What made this different from a normal flu was that I lost all taste for about a week after I was sick. Even garlic tasted like wet cardboard. So yeah, it was probably Covid, but none of that matters really…

It was scarier when an elderly family member with health problems got it. I just waited for the phone to ring with bad news. But it all ended happily.

It didn’t for a lot of people…

The thing with this pandemic/quarantine/lockdown year is that it didn’t change much for me personally. Sure, it ruined a whole lot of plans, but that happens pretty much with every plan I ever make. Other than that, I have worked from home the last 20 years, social distancing is a lifestyle for me (I’m not an introvert or a misanthrope, it’s just better for my wellbeing), every plan I ever make goes to hell and beyond, I’m on first name basis with isolation, and I know how it is to feel your mental health spiral into black flames because disaster after disaster is slamming you down and refusing to let you get up, and every time you try to do something about it the shit takes a graceful swan dive into the fan. 2020 was pretty much like life always is for me.

This has made me make the journey from existentialist to nihilist and coming out on the other side as an absurdist. So, when a global catastrophe like the Corona-virus happens, I get curious and bring out my notebook and some spicy nuts (not a fan of popcorn). Here are my notes:

We need to stop saying “Avoid it like the plague” – people clearly don’t do that.

The inevitable baby-boom after lockdown must get the generation name “The Coronials”.

Covid backwards is divoc, and divorces are skyrocketing. Spending more time together is clearly not always the answer.

For the first time in history, we could make everything better by just being passive in front of the tv all day. Wouldn’t you know, we even failed at that.

The best horror movie I’ve seen in a long time was Host – a found footage horror flick about a haunted Zoom-meeting, where everything happens on webcam. It has no reason to be as scary as it is. Creativity really blooms when the going gets though.

It was a good year to be a Devin Townsend fan. That guy has created and released more music than ever during lockdown. And made a lot of awesome charity concerts from his home. And he has not been alone. There’s been such a huge flow of new music, fun collaborations and livestreams that it’s been a 24/7 job to enjoy it all. This shit year kinda turned into manure for creativity.

Holy crap, Spiritbox are really getting extremely good. Their haunting, dreamy, brutal and atmospheric music is the most exciting thing happening in metal. Their releases this year, Blessed Be, Holy Roller, Constance – made me headbang, sing-along, and cry (sometimes all at the same time).

Speaking about crying, My Octopus Teacher was the documentary we really needed this year. Octopuses > Humans.

I’m pretty sure the entire planet has doubled its weight. I’ve gained so much that even my shoes are bursting at the seams.

10 months of this made a lot of people break down and fall apart. I feel them. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, so my mental pressure gauge is about 4-5 times deeper into the red. It really is ok to not be ok. But hey, tacos fall apart, and we still love them.

What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger. In truth, “stronger” is a rare outcome. What doesn’t kill you will most likely make you tired, empty, disillusioned, traumatised, indifferent, pissed off, lost… It’s steel that get hardened in fire – people get burnt to ashes or scarred. Let’s take care of each other. A lot!

Dark mode was all the rage this year. So now I have dark mode on Instagram, Google, YouTube and my mind.

Everything is temporary. This year we’ve been living without travel, hugs, cinemas, parties, plans, concerts etc… Next year we will learn to live without the shitshow that was 2020. Let’s make it a good one…

And here are some pics I created this year:

Listening to: Igorrr
Reading: Stephen Graham Jones: The Only Good Indians
Watching: The Expanse
Drinking: Zinfandel

Voluntary amnesia – 2019 in a nutshell

I’m not going to talk about 2019. It was the worst year of my life, and the sooner it is forgotten the better.

There will be updates during 2020, because some amazing things are brewing. In the meanwhile, here are some pics from last year…

Listening to: Sleep Token
Reading: Unfortunately not
Watching: Doctor Who 
Drinking: Zinfandel

Still have a lot of fucks to give – 2018 in a nutshell

It’s hard to talk about 2018 without resorting to Deadpool dialogue. I mean, I’m a professional writer, and the most poetic phrases I can conjure up about this year are “What the fuck was that?”, “2018 – fuck you and the horse you rode in on”, “This was about as much fun as a sandpaper dildo”, and my personal favourite: ‘Fuck!!!’ repeated 218 times, louder each time.

To sum it up: 2018 was a depressing, chaotic shitshow both on a personal level and regarding the world in general. And that’s my ‘glass half full with 12-year old Caribbean rum’ take on it. If I would stop being this positive and cheerful about things, my words would start spinning their heads, vomit green bile, and say very nasty things about your mom. So I have decided not to write about my year this time.

I will explain it in gif’s instead.

But even if 2018 have made me stressed, frustrated, exhausted, depressed, fat, lonely, nihilistic, and made me lose my faith in humanity even more than usual, I still have a lot of fucks left to give. And I will give them as much as I can 2019

Also, a huge I AM VERY SORRY to all the wonderful people that I have neglected this year. I’ve suffered a serious deficiency of time, energy and me. I’ll be back.

Did I have time to take any pictures? Somehow, a few…

And now for my favourite music/books/tv/movies of 2018…

Music:
Christel Alsos, Eva Dahlgren, Eyes Set To Kill, Four Stroke Baron, The Naked and Famous, Olafur Arnalds, Rivers of Nihil, Scars on 45, Sevendust, Slugdge, Soilwork, Spiritbox

Books:
Hans Rosling: Factfulness, David Lynch: Room To Dream
I’m sure there were a lot of other wonderful books this year, but I haven’t had the time or the energy to read… 🙁

Movies:
Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity War, A Quiet Place, Deadpool 2, Hereditary, Solo, Mandy, Hold the Dark, Anna and the Apocalypse, Aterrados

TV:
Altered Carbon, Jessica Jones, Legends of Tomorrow, The Alienist, Ash vs Evil Dead, Legion, The Expanse, Westworld, Daredevil, Channel Zero: The Dream Door, Doctor Who, Fortitude, DiableroA

Take care of yourselves, and let’s create a really wonderful 2019!
/Peter

Listening to: Jinjer
Reading: Josh Malerman: Bird Box
Watching: Diablero
Drinking: Pineapple rum

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

Steampunk and stomach flu in Poznan

Here’s the thing, I’m a bit of a lone wolf. I mean the kind that make other lone wolves go “That peculiar dude is a bit solitary, isn’t he?” It’s not that I don’t play well with others, I just play so very well with myself that I tend to forget that there are other people in the world.

But once in a while other people in the world poke me, and go “I have an idea, and I think you would fit right in”. That happened this autumn. Ewelina Dudaszek – an artist in Poznan, Poland poked me and suggested we should collaborate on some projects she had in mind. It sounded like an adventure, and I had been shuffling around by myself in my lair for so long that I had almost forgot human language and mostly communicated with grunts and scents, so I packed my bag and jumped on a plane to Poznan.

I’m not very surprised that I ended up in Poland. Again. We have a thing me and Poland. While we are on opposite planets when it comes to politics and religiousness, I connect often and easily with Polish art and artists. We seem to speak the same bleak language of melancholy. And I always feel at home and comfortable in Poland.

It was fun as hell to collaborate with Ewelina. While we have enough in common aesthetically to play well together, we are also different enough to make it exciting. One big difference is how we approach creating. I make it up as I go. I almost never plan a shoot. I see things in the moment and grab my camera. E. on the other hand have a clear vision, and her pictures are well planned ahead, and even had storyboards for some of them. It inspired me to maybe be a bit more structured in my photography. I might even try it, …sometime after the next ice age.
Another difference was, as E put it “You do minimalism – I create chaos”. (That’s half true, I like chaos too, but I’m so lazy that I mostly do minimalistic stuff because it involves less work).

While I did shoot a lot on my own, my main role in this project was as a model and as photographic & editing consultant. E. had found some really good locations for her ideas, and just visiting them would have been an Indiana Jones-sized adventure. Shooting in them was a blast!

The first location was an old abandoned train factory. And when I say factory I don’t mean one building, it was more of a small village with a lot of different buildings. All dilapidated and in beautiful decay. It wasn’t exactly a safe place to shoot. Besides all the broken glass, hidden holes in the ground, and ruined buildings about to fall over you any minute, there were also guards, guard-dogs, and shady characters to look out for. But we came well prepared – we brought cash to bribe the guards, sausages to bribe the dogs, and lots of adrenaline to run from gangs and axe murderers. Fortunately we didn’t need any of that. But we did get a shitload of great pictures from that amazing environment. Just look at this:

 

Next location was at a lake. While all the Photoshop magic in the world won’t get me into any swimsuit editions (I’ve reached the point in my life when the only ones interested in my body are the ones doing my post mortem), I felt very comfortable and intrigued about E’s ideas, and dropped my clothes and threw myself in the lake. While the Polish October was showing its best face, with sun and +22, the water was definitely autumnal. And by that I mean coooold. But I think the right word here is invigorating. A word which here means ‘cold as an Eskimo’s gin & tonic, but in an exciting way’.

I soon forgot to freeze my butt off, and we did get a lot of great pics from that lake, and from a nearby swamp with a water quality that would make a sewer rat faint but the atmosphere of a fairy tale. Behold:

 

I like Poznan very much. It’s a beautiful city with lots to see and do. The wonderful old houses and restaurants in Stare Miasto, the art and the architecture, the captivating and beautiful old-brewery-turned-shopping-mall-and-art-center Stary Browar, the parks, the bridges over river Warta… And it was all gift-wrapped in an Indian summer that made the loveliest October I’ve ever experienced. Not only did I swim outside for the first time in years, I got to celebrate my birthday outside. When I grew up in northern Sweden my birthday was usually the first day of winter, when the first snow fell. This year I could sit outside, have tapas and wine with the sun on my face at Club Havana, with a dessert of Japanese cherry cheesecake and a rum & coffee-drink so strong that the fumes alone made the birds circling above my table shitfaced.
Thank you Poznan, you were most kind!

 

I also went back to the town where I stayed a lot during 2015-16 – Czestochowa. But a black cat must have walked under a ladder made of broken mirrors when I got there. Didn’t even manage to unpack my bag before both my shoes and my laptop broke. Managed to fix both those problems, but then I broke. A malicious stomach flu decided to haunt me for more than a week. Nothing I tried to eat or drink stayed to look at the view, and for a long time my only sightseeing trips was to the bathroom. I was so weak the ghost of a fly fart could have wrestled me to the ground. But my creative motto is “work with what you’ve got”, so the few moments I wasn’t in the bathroom I took sick-portraits (which is, to be honest, confusingly similar to all my other portraits).

 

It was very inspiring and fun to play with another photographer, and I am kicking myself in butt as hard as I can now to get out of my dark lair and do more collaborations. If anyone feels like playing camera, I’m game! 🙂

All pictures © Peter X. Eriksson & Ewelina Dudaszek

 

 

Listening to: The Chain Gang of 1974 and Igorrr
Reading: Banana Yoshimoto: The Lake
Watching: The Exorcist
Experimenting with: Cinemagraphs

We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one – 2016 in a nutshell

Every carbon-based lifeform on this planet seem to be in agreement that 2016 sucked. And it’s been a hard and sad year, in many ways. A year that took David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman as an appetizer, went on like a school of piranhas with a binge-eating disorder, and finished with the grand finale of ruining Christmas by killing off George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds (dying of a broken heart just one day after her daughter). 2016 wanted our tears, and it got a river of them.
But I think we mourn more than just people we loved and cherished. This is also the death of an era. The people we have lost became our heroes because they were themselves in ways most of us never dare. They had a rare oddity inside that they let flourish and bloom, we gladly let them, and in return we got the most wonderful art. They don’t make them like that anymore, and when we lose them now, we also lose the era of being unique, awesome, and true. Of singing your own song, and dancing to your own beat. That is perhaps the biggest loss of all.

This has also been a year when democracy got elbowed in the kidney by mean-spirited bullies. When facts and knowledge became useless, and the fakes and lies took the stage. When tragedies came in the form of truck attacks and sunken boats. When an ignorant, misogynistic, spiteful oompa-loompa got elected as a powerful world leader. When people fled war and death, and our response was to become selfish xenophobes. It’s been a year of suffering, bullshit, discontent, egoism, hate, sorrow, and bad sequels (I’m looking at you ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’). There wasn’t even a season of Doctor Who this year for fraks sake!!! 2016 was a stinky old diaper of a year, and it feels like there are so many reasons to feel despair.
But you know what? Let’s not. Let’s be wise and kind. Let’s be weird and hopeful. Let’s care about truths and facts and honesty. Let’s celebrate diversity and uniqueness. Let’s open our hearts and expand our minds. Let’s be better than this. We are not helpless – we are writing our own stories. Let it be a really good one for 2017, and beyond.

My personal life 2016 has been … let’s use the word ‘challenging’.
This story is still in the middle of the chapter, and I want to wait with telling all of it until it’s coming to a natural page-break, but it’s been a year in transit. I’m still on my way to my next destination, and the road is full of twists and turns, so the journey has taken longer than planned. Which means that I’ve been homeless this year. Not in the ‘sleep under a bridge’ sense of course, but in a ‘living in my bag and never staying long in each place’ way. I’ve slept in more than ten different beds during the year (most of them in southern Poland or northern Sweden). I feel like a touring rock star, but without the free booze or the screaming fans (so I guess I feel like a roadie).
It’s a strange and funny life. I’ve felt welcome and familiar in a place where I don’t even speak the language, and completely lost and alien in the place I grew up.

Navigating through everyday life has been more or less a full time job. I’ve learned tons about myself and about the world, and I’m very grateful for it, but at the end of the day it’s really exhausting. And it’s really been messing with my serotonin levels (hello darkness my old friend). When people ask why I haven’t written any book this year, I want to answer “for the same reason people don’t do math tests while riding a rollercoaster”. But experience is always valuable, and my story- and idea-storage is filling up to the brim. Once I get home and can sit down in peace, there will more stories than I’ll have time to write during my lifetime.

So my creative output hasn’t been the most impressive this year. You know when you open up Photoshop on your laptop, but the anti-virus software is already hogging so much memory and processor power that it’s impossible to run anything else, it’s only crashing or running so slow it’s basically not running at all? That’s how my mind’s been 2016. The overload of life’s troubles and worries have stolen all my processor power, and there’s been little left for the creative processes.
But since rent have to be paid and cheese is not free, I’ve done a bit of this and that. Most of it not worth writing home about, but there are some things that have been out of the ordinary. For very different reasons.

Let me begin on the bad end of the scale. I like to try new things. I’ve written for comedians and lawyers, created scripts for talk show hosts and programs for operas, written horror and social satire, and tons of other stuff. It’s fun and educational to jump around different fields. So I decided to dip my nose into this content writing the kids are talking about these days. What is this ‘content writing?’ I hear you ask. Well, it’s all this “Ten reasons why Hollywood won’t hire Jar-Jar Binks anymore” and “You won’t believe this hungover piglet’s reaction when it reads its horoscope” you procrastinate with when you should be working. The stuff that fills the internet. Now I’ve tried it. And … Worst. Job. Ever. First of all, it pays so bad I’ve would have made tons more if I had used that time to rob squirrels of their nuts. But the worst part was the deception. I love making things up, but then I clearly put a label on it saying “This is a story, I made it all up, it’s not true”. Now I’ve written positive reviews of things I’ve never touched, created travel guides for places I’ve never been, and much worse. I feel dirty. And I feel regret. This world has more than enough of deception, illusion and fakery. I’ll make amends for this when I find a really good way to do it, but for now – don’t believe everything you read. Really don’t!

On the positive end of the work-scale I got a gig that certainly should have been on my bucket list if I even had dared to dream about it. The Spanish publisher Quaderns Crema decided that of all the images in the world, they wanted to use my ‘Wheels of Time’ for the cover of their collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. Edgar fucking Allan Poe! I’m so proud that even my hair is doing the happy-dance. I can die happy now…

I’m also a bit proud of the script I wrote for this commercial for a last minute restaurant seat app/service. It turned out as a really cute and fun and positive little video. It’s in Swedish, but it’s a couple of seconds of fun for all languages.

 

Clumsy me managed to drop my camera in the ground, but I gave it some first class health care, and it’s up and running again. I’ve taken a picture or two during the year that I’m proud of.
The very nice people over at deviantART gave me a Daily Deviation for my picture ‘The Night Reader’. I’m actually very happy with this picture, because it was just a spur of the moment improvisation/test to see what could be done with available light, and it turned out better than things usually do when I think them through carefully. 🙂

My personal favourite of all the photons that have entered my camera is this picture. It has two of my favourite subjects in it – hands and water.

 

During years like this one it’s really good to have art as a hiding place from reality. There’s been a lot of really good music, books and moving pictures. Here are my personal favs:

Music:
Broods, Devin Townsend Project, Gojira, HANA, Immanu El, Killswitch Engage, Meshuggah, Moda Spira, The Naked and Famous, Periphery, Serpentine Dominion, Tegan and Sara, Voices From The Fuselage, Young Summer

Books:
Neil Gaiman: The View From the Cheap Seats, Matt Ruff: Lovecraft Country, Dexter Palmer: Version Control, Ken Liu: The Paper Menagerie

Movies:
Kubo and the Two Strings, Captain America: Civil War, The Witch, Deadpool, Green Room, Arrival, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Rogue One

TV:
Westworld, Class, Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Ash vs Evil Dead, Legends of Tomorrow, Lucifer, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, The Man in the High Castle, The OA

So… 2017 is here. Here’s what I’m going to do with it:
Create more. Especially write more.
Experience glory and adventure.
Sleep for a month. Wait, make that two months.
Hug like an octopus made of glue.
Humanity disappointed me in 2016, so I’m going to try to be a better human 2017. Maybe it’s contagious…
Be as unique as I can. Sing my own song as only I can, even if it sounds like a bunch of tone-deaf cats having an orgy.
Cherish knowledge and facts. Be honest and true.
Be grateful. The things I love and care about the most are alive and well and still in my life. That’s all I really care about.
Go home. To where I can live, laugh and love. To where my heart belongs, and my soul is peaceful.
Finish this chapter. It’s a good story after all, with a wonderful ending in sight, and I can’t wait to get there, and tell you all about it.

Take care of yourselves. Be wise, be kind, be awesome, and have a really wonderful 2017.
/Peter

 

Listening to: Tony Anderson
Reading: Thomas Olde Heuvelt: Hex
Watching: Sherlock
Eating: Cheese

50 things I wish I could tell the younger me

I think that I’m getting old. It’s not the wrinkles, or the grey hairs, or that the nose-hairs suddenly sprout like something from Jack and the Beanstalk, or that the hangover from the New Year’s party lasts until Easter. It’s  the grey hairs inside my head. It’s when my mind goes from “That’s cool! I must try it!” when I encounter something new, to “You shall not pass, flame of Udûn!” It’s when I shake my head and mutter “kids these days…” at nonsense like that stupid unboxing-part in reviews, reaction videos on YouTube, and the witch-hunt on pubic hair. It’s when the people I say are “about my age” actually are fifteen years younger than me. It’s avoiding telling my age in numbers, and instead comparing myself to some good-looking celeb older than me “Oh, me, I’m younger than Hugh Jackman and Brad Pitt”.

I did the math, and unless there’s some really potent antioxidants in cheese and wine, or that Netflix transmits youth-rays, I most likely have less birthdays ahead of me than I have behind me. Of course that makes me wonder about the life I’ve lived so far. Was it just dull work and mindless procrastination? Did I do something useful? Did I learn something? Did my soul grow? So I began to write down the stuff I would tell the teenage me if I’d ever stumble upon a DeLorean with a flux capacitor. The life-hacks, and the soul-hacks. The short-cuts and the pennies dropped. The lessons learned from fumbling my way through life. The 50 things I wish that I could tell the younger me…

1. There is no such thing as being ready. You can prepare until the end of days, but life just keeps changing the rules all the time. Don’t wait, do it now. Jump, and figure out how to land later. It will not be any messier, and you’ll save time. Besides, you won’t have time to worry about how to do it when you’re in the middle of doing it.

2. You don’t have to care about what people think about you. It’s only opinions, and there are so many opinions that if they had matter we’d need five more universes. Also consider the source of the opinion – critique from a moron is actually praise.

3. Fire your inner demons, and hire an inner village idiot. Instant bliss.

4. Luck exists. But it’s not magic – it’s an attitude. ‘Lucky’ people expose themselves to the possibility of chance. They are curious and unafraid, open to everything. They don’t care about failing. They don’t get stuck in routines, but always try new things, and new ways and solutions. Want to be lucky? Ditch your fears and hesitation, and just go out there and do stuff.

5. Find out what makes your heart beat faster and brings a smile on your lips, and make that your destination. Make a map and follow it. Don’t care about the detours, the getting lost, or the bumps in the road – that’s all a part of the journey. Just remember where you are going and you’ll get there eventually.

6. Everything is possible. The trick is to never give up.

7. Don’t send ‘signals’ – just say what’s on your mind. As clear as possible. People are crap at mindreading. Not to mention how incredibly bad actors we all are. Our performance of “I’m very upset about what you said last night, and you should see it on my face, understand, and apologize” usually come across as “I’m constipated, can we have Mexican for dinner?

8. It’s ok to break up with friends and family. There are no relations you have to be in. Life’s too short to be around people that make you unhappy.

9. Being scared means that you’re on to something important and amazing. Being brave means that you keep going even after you’ve pooped your pants. It’s only pants after all.

10. As Churchill said: If you’re going through hell – keep going. I’d like to add: …and don’t forget to get some ice cream along the way.

11. Facts are going extinct. They’ve been crowded out by the invasive species Opinions, Myths, and Delusions. Facts are important and precious, value them and care for them. Study, research, and be very critical of sources. Even when the results piss you off.

12. Every time you make a choice someone is going to get disappointed. Just make sure it isn’t you.

13. There’s no such thing as being lazy. Resting before you get tired is clever, and good for both your body and your mind. And if it makes you bored you’ll probably get a lot of great ideas. Always being busy is an effective way to overexert yourself, and not get the time to listen to all the important things your heart want to tell you.

14. Self-pity begin to smell after 24h. Do something about the reason, or get drunk, forget, and move on.

15. The world isn’t fair. Assholes that can barely tie their shoelaces get rewarded and become successful, while kind and talented people get ignored and pushed back. There is one thing you can do to make the world a better place: Don’t play along. Don’t give the asshats attention just because everyone else does. Reward the people that prefer to use their heart and soul instead of sharp elbows and bullshit.

16. It’s never too late to change your mind. (Exceptions: becoming a parent, and committing suicide)

 

On the shore

 

17. Know the rules before you break them. Or else your radical trailblazing is only you stomping around in the dark. That being said, not knowing the rules is much more fun.

18. Do the things you love. If you love what you do, chances are that other people will too.

19. Productivity is all about outsmarting your dallying inner child that want to play, and live under the delusion that the future-you will have more time and motivation than the now-you. Do it now, because future-you is the same tardy bastard, and is not to be trusted.

20. Gifts and holidays are much more appreciated if they show up unexpectedly instead of on a certain date.

21. Rock bottom is a great place to push yourself up from.

22. Cosplay your way through life. Reality seems like a lovely place, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

23. Finish things. Properly. Everything that you leave unfinished, unsaid, undone, unshouted, unthrownaway, unkicked, unwhatever, is going to just lie there like a huge rotting mammoth and stink up the place. And remember that letting go is also a way to finish things.

24. Fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles in life when it comes to getting shit done. I guess we’re thinking “If I don’t try I at least remain in the same place, if I try and fail I’ll take a step back”. That is just pure bullshit. It’s by making mistakes we learn and grow. Doing it wrong is the first and only step to doing it right. The only real failure is not even trying.

25. If you want to make a living of your art, you have to master two kinds of creative skills. One is of course the thing(s) you create. But remember that art is not sport, you can’t really measure being ‘good’. Crappy musicians play songs millions love. People with the writing skills of a dim 6th grader can make a bestseller. The only thing you can truly be good at, is being You. Find your voice, and make it as much You as possible.
The second area of creativity is making what you do into a product people are willing to pay for. This is much, much harder, because there are no rules or patterns or predictability. Not so long ago people paid good money music and movies, and coffee was almost free, now it’s the other way around. Next week maybe diamonds are as cheap as bubblgum, and we pay big money to smell farts. I have no idea. But try to understand your market. Be in touch with the zeitgeist. Try to understand people, and what they love and why. And be unique.

 

Like sand through my fingers

 

26. “You haven’t changed a bit” is not a compliment – it’s an insult.

27. Act, don’t react. Don’t let your direction in life come from jumping aside, backing away, escaping, or being pushed around.

28. Try to leave the planet a better place than you found it. It’s the only one with chocolate, wine, pillow forts, melodic death metal, cheese, tortoises, and breathable air.

29. People think in stories and personal experiences, not in statistics, so they will be wrong about basically everything. Yes, you too.

30. Pick your fights. Being right all the time isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

31. Ignoramuses are cocksure. People who actually know what they are doing are full of doubt. Being crippled by self-doubt is a reliable sign that you are on to something amazing.

32. People can act selfish for two reasons.
Reason 1: It’s who they are. That kind is selfish in all weathers and moods. They will suck you dry, and when you crawl away in an attempt to save your life and soul, they will be deeply disappointed in you …and of course call you “selfish”.
Reason 2: They suffer so much that they simply haven’t anything left to give to others. Helping them is the most beautiful kindness there is, and when they are back safe on the shore again, they can become the best friends you’ve ever had.

33. You are never as lonely as when you are among people you don’t belong with. Find your Tribe. Create your own family. But most important of all – learn to love your own company, then you’re never truly alone.

34. There are two kinds of trouble in life. One is like a big tree that has fallen across the road you’re travelling – the solution is fairly obvious, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work. The other is more like solving Rubik’s Cube – you have no idea what you’re doing when you begin, you have to twist and turn and try and fail and feel like a complete idiot, until you suddenly see the obvious solution in all its simplicity and elegance.

35. And speaking of troubles. If you really want something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

36. This is what the road to success really looks like:

what-success-really-looks-like

37. Dream. Dream big. Dream wild. Dream dangerously. Reality is a work-in-progress, and it need your dreams to evolve and become better and more beautiful. And you need your dreams, because if you don’t dream you will have no guiding star, and get lost.

38. Keep an open mind. But also keep bouncers, fact-checkers, security guards, and a well-paid skeptic at the opening.

39. Money is just a tool. Don’t give it power or meaning it doesn’t have, it will only mess with your life, and make you care about things that are not important. The human brain is wired to think that there is no such thing as “enough” (it was developed back in the day when we usually had cold gravel for supper …if we were lucky). Earn 100 000? Then you will think that you’ll be happy once you earn 200 000, but every time you get a raise, your limit for what you think will make you happy will jump out of your reach. Also, most people adjust their spending every time they get more money. You will always end up on 0 at the end of the month, just with more stuff that is in the way and that will complicate your life.
Spend your money on experiences, not on stuff. That new iPhone will be obsolete and boring before you’re even home, but travelling, dinners with friends, and watching Rammstein live will make you feel connected, and give you stories to tell (and the Rammstein gig will probably also clear your sinuses and burn off your nose-hair).

40. Hope is not found – it is created.

41. When the map and reality differs – rewrite reality.

42. ‘Politically correct’ is derogatory term used by whining dinosaurs who can’t understand why no one is laughing at their demeaning jokes about gays, vegans, foreigners, feminists, disabled, and minorities anymore. Dinosaurs belong in a museum.

43. Everything happens for a reason … that you make up afterwards, to make some sense of this random chaotic mess called life. But that’s ok. Life is a story anyway, why not make it a good one.

44. The best chance of finding the Love of Your Life is by not trying. Be happy all by yourself, and you’ll see other people with a clear vision. Longing and loneliness tend to mess with your perception of reality, “Oh, you are also carbon-based, and have five fingers on each hand! We are soul-mates made for each other!

45. There are a LOT of myths and expectations regarding how you should act, reason, and behave as a man/Swede/writer/at-your-age/whatever. Don’t buy that shit. If you are willingly going to be restrained, let it at least be in a kinky way. Resisting and rejecting norms and peer pressure is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

46. Fruit will never be a substitute for chocolate. Never. Ever.

47. Figuring out life, and yourself, takes a lot of time. It’s ok to feel lost and make a lot of mistakes. It’s more than ok – it’s the only way. We’re never graduating, or getting any real grip, but at some point we’re getting to know who we are, what we like and what we don’t, and then life gets a bit easier. But don’t be surprised if this happens sometime around when you get your first grey hairs.

48. Don’t do regret or bitterness. Really. Don’t. That’s like crapping your pants, and then keeping them on so the smell will always remind you how awful it was that time you crapped your pants. Don’t look back. Look forward. Or even better – look at the present. The best time is always now. And it’s never too late. Your dreams have no expiry date. One of my friends became a rock star after 40. There are many that began their careers as bodybuilders or writers and other cool things after 80. Life is happening all the time. It only stops with the last breath.

49. Listen to your heart. Yeah, I know, the heart is just a muscle that is pumping blood through the body, and if you listen to it you will only hear “swoosh-swoosh” and “bonk-bonk”. But you know what I mean, that expression means listen to your dreams and desires, do the things you look forward to, the things that make you happy. It may sound obvious, but humans are social animals, and once upon a time “listen to your heart” meant getting kicked out of the tribe for being weird, which meant that something with sharp teeth would soon be chewing on your heart. But today it is safe to be yourself and follow your dreams. You may piss people off, but that’s a good way of sorting them out. There are no innocent casualties when you follow your heart (unless you dream about being a serial-killer) – people who truly care about your happiness will understand and support you; people who don’t can fuck off.

50. Whatever you do, be kind. It’s very contagious.

 

What the water gave me

 

All pictures © Peter X. Eriksson

 

 

Listening to: Periphery and Moda Spira
Reading: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Watching: Stranger Things
Playing: Disney Magic Kingdoms