To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

My mom died tonight.

This isn't a post where I wax poetic about her life or show a bunch of nice photos.  I don't even know why I'm writing this, I suppose because I don't know what else to do or where to turn.  Although I have had great support from friends.  I think I need to write to get some things off my chest, how I'm feeling, and so on.  So don't expect this blog entry to be pretty.  Or nice, or whatever normal blogs about parent death are like.

I don't know what happened.  I know my dad found her unconscious and the paramedics were called and performed CPR and took her to the hospital.  I was in the kitchen baking cookies when I got a message on Facebook from my sister.  I told Henri what was happening.  Then I went back into the kitchen and kept making cookies.  I knew while I was in there that she was gone.  You hear people talking about that stuff and I never believed it before, but it's true.  I really did know.  When I went back in the living room to check Facebook a few minutes later, my sister told me that she hadn't made it.

I went back to my cookies.  Henri came in to make sure I was okay and I remember saying in a haze, "If it was me, she wouldn't have stopped what she was doing."  Just saying that made me feel awful.  I had a lot of stuff to do; things to pack, crab tank to clean, and a ton of other chores and I just did them slowly and pathetically with a lot of nosebleeds and crying inbetween.

For a long time now I thought that my mom dying would change something for me.  I sometimes hated her so much that it wouldn't have fazed me if she had died.  Especially in recent years after I found out more about her past, and I tried every year to wish her a happy birthday and got nothing but spite in return.  I have known for a very long time that there would be no second chance.  That we would never get along before she died.  That hurt, but I had accepted it.  But now, there is no hypothetical future.  There is no option to dial her just to hear her say something mean to me.  There's nothing.  There's no chance of anything changing.  She's gone.

But it didn't change me.  It wasn't a solution to our bad relationship.  Her passing has not changed how I feel about myself, or my past, or her, it hasn't made anything better and I am not at peace with it the way I thought I would be.  She's just gone.  I feel an intense sadness and of course all of the nice memories I have of her are coming to the surface which is bittersweet, but the only other thing I feel is an extreme vulnerability.

When you have two parents, everything seems natural.  Whether you love them or hate them or just see them on holidays or whatever...you're still in the bell curve of normal.  When one parent dies, that all falls to pieces, because you now have one parent less.  One parent left.  That one parent is all you have and suddenly they seem so fragile and breakable and like something you need to lock away to prevent anything from happening to.

I haven't spoken to my dad.  I know that when I go back to America I will try to call him and reach out and see if he will let me help him.  I'm pretty sure he won't.  But I'm going to try anyway, because it's the right thing to do and because he's my dad.  I feel terrible for whatever he's going through, and at the same time I wonder how he feels.  He didn't treat my mother well.  He doesn't know how to treat anyone well.  These are things again, I don't like thinking, but I've been thinking them anyway, because they're true.

One thing that is comforting is that my mom has children who she allowed to be a part of her life.  She has children she loved and children who love her back.  They will cherish every last moment they had with her and I'm sure she knew that they will be her legacy.  It wasn't me, but she did have that comfort.  When my Nonna died, she also had a daughter that loved her.  It wasn't my mom.  It was my aunt.

And in some strange way I feel like she isn't gone.  Not completely.  As an atheist, I don't have the luxury of believing that her soul or spirit is anywhere, in any place, good or bad.  I know that she believed that, and I hope very much that before she died she at least had the hope that somewhere better was around the corner.  But there are qualities in my mother that I share, even if I've always complained about them.  I look like her.  So do my sisters, and their sons.  Immortality is achieved through children.  So in that sense, I feel that she lives on.   I spoke with Derik today and he said something that resonated; that I was more like her in a good way, than any of my siblings.  Among my mother's good qualities were being headstrong, stubborn, adventurous, and in charge of herself.  Even though all those traits I share and my parents despised them in me most of the time, it's something that ties me to that family line.  I guess I wouldn't have those qualities were it not for who my mother was.

Everyone has been telling me to not feel guilty, that I've done all I could.  I attempted for years to remedy things with both of my parents and every single time I was shot down, painfully so.  I eventually learned to cope without them in my life, but I still cared.  I called her for her birthday.  I actually just sent them a Christmas card a week or so ago.  I don't know if they got it.  I know that I can't live life feeling guilty about how awful our relationship was.  But those questions of course have came up.  What if I had called one more time. What if I had only tried a little harder.  They're useless questions now.

I'm fortunate that I have good friends who will take care of me while I'm in a state of extreme emotional distress.  I'm fortunate that my mom had good relationships with her other children and with people in the community.  I'm happy that parts of her carry on, both in my siblings and in me, and I will try to be more proud of the traits she's given me.  I don't know how to deal with everything that I'm feeling, but I know that I won't have to deal with it alone.


2013 In Review, Thoughts on 2014.

I don't even know where to begin.  I mean, last year at this time, I was a newcomer to a foreign country, I despised everything about myself and barely made it through the year alive, I saw no hope and no future for anything having to do with...well, anything.  I thought the world had let me down, when the truth was, I had let the world down.  I fell hard.  But 2013 was the year I picked myself up in style.  And after that, I mean where do you go?  What kind of year can 2014 even be? Let's talk about that first, then we can do a recap.

I want to talk about 2014.  

First of all I'm very proud of myself.  I know what it's like to feel useless, worthless, and all the other 'less's.'  When I look back on those times it's like seeing the crests of mountains I've climbed.  I remember how hard it was and how defeated I felt.  And even sometimes when it felt like I wasn't moving...I was.  Because even stopping to catch your proverbial breath is different than going back.  Before this, I never would have called myself strong.  Stubborn maybe, or "hard to kill" or "too mean to die" but not strong.  That's changed.  In addition to my self love journey I learned to be proud of the survivor that I am.  

When it comes to resolutions, I have more of a list.  In fact I need to update that list, which you can find here; some of the items have been crossed off already.  So I didn't want to make more listy items, but more of a 'theme' since that worked out so well in 2013.  But what?  Undoubtedly this year I learned something integral to my own creative spirit which was stopping my self-hatred.   Now I can actually harvest from that creative spirit, right?  That's why I've decided to make 2014 a year where I hone into my creativity, put together and finish some ideas I have, and branch out into all the areas I love where I've been stagnant for too long.  

It goes something like productivity + inspiration + creativity.

I want to be in spaces and places where I feel inspired, I want to pursue activities that don't dull me down.  Before, in survival mode, it didn't matter where I was.  You can feel suicidal in a cardboard box just as well as a castle.  But it's pretty hard to paint, for example, in a box.  I want to travel, go places and see things and meet people who make me want to write, paint, maybe even play piano.  My low self-esteem has always been the bane to my creativity.  I tell myself no, you can't do that, because it's not good enough.  Well fuck that, essentially.  So yeah, that's my theme for 2014!!! I haven't thought of a catchy name yet, and am totally taking suggestions.  Halp me.

And now, a 2013 RECAP! 

-I moved to a new country and met a wonderful family whom I love with all my heart.
-I finally learned Swedish! Not that I speak it in front of Swedes...but still...I know it.
-Then I got exiled from Sweden and sent home.  Only me.  I swear.  
-Then I came back! 
-Then Madi came!
-I fell in love with a beautiful movie about survival.  Almost as beautiful as the Grey
-Henri and I saw RAMMSTEIN!!! It was AWESOME!!! Front row again, baby.
-I published my first ebook and felt like the biggest badass on earth.  

-The Fox Song happened and it was fantastic.
-American Horror Story: Coven happened and it was also fantastic.
-Some guy parodied Miley Cyrus doing Wrecking Ball and it was fantastic as well.
-The Originals, a new show based on TVD, started and guess what? Fantastic.
-I got addicted to Bob's Burgers and it's *whisper* fantastic
-Benedict Cumberbatch became my new lady boner material thanks to his Khan performance. 

-Gay marriage became legal in Utah!!! CONGRATULATIONS UTAH!!!!
-Some other good movies: Thor, The Conjuring, and NOT ELYSIUM BECAUSE IT SUCKED.
-I went to Finland! 
-I also went to Latvia! Or rather, a Latvian island.
-I got my ass grabbed by a ghost and saw a Swedish forest spirit.
-And of course, almost got arrested for stealing my own bike, and got called a Nazi. Only me. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting more.  But these are the ones that stick out.  It's been an amazing year and it's going to end in style.  From now until after New Year I will be up north probably snowed in with no food or electricity with a bunch of insane Swedish people.  Until then, Happy New Year! 


Why You Should Stop Getting Offended.

Have I written a post about this before? Why the hell not? It's something I feel very strongly about and am happy to talk to you guys about, because I think if everyone applies this just a little bit, their lives and relationships will benefit, maybe even immensely.  Let me start by giving you my backstory.

For my teenage years and until about the age of 23, it offended me when people mocked my accent.  I have a deep Southern drawl, and that particular drawl is most often associated with stupidity.  Some people made fun of it because they're jerks, others did it thinking they were flattering me or trying to be like me.  Either way it made me bristle.  So did other things, but making fun of my teeth (they're pretty ridiculous) or accent was a surefire way to get me angry for days.  It almost ended mine and Madi's friendship once.

Then I found this infamous quote by Stephen Fry: "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."   I was floored, because I agreed 100 percent with this statement (and still do.)  Offense isn't given.  It's not handed out by people in masks to unsuspecting victims.  Offense is taken.  You must take offense to something to be offended by it.  In a way, it's your own choice. 

Once I realized it was my choice to feel offended by something, the world seemed a lot less cruel and aimed at destroying my life.  So here are my tips on how to not take offense and why it helps:

You can't change people's stupid as shit actions, only YOUR reaction.  Someone may say or do something completely asinine--for example, let's say you're not okay with rape jokes, MANY people aren't--and you see one on Facebook, or overhear it at a party.  Cue defensive chemical brain reaction and anger, frustration, indignation, loss of pride, shakey hands, the works.  What exactly are you going to do about this?  You might confront the person and have an argument, one that no one will probably win.  You might splash a drink on them and feel better about it, but what have you solved?  You might punch them in the head and then spend the night in jail listening to a wino sing about Vegas.

It's a Waste of Time.  Or you can choose to shut out whatever distasteful, flaming, hateful, stupid message people are sending.  Chances are, they're saying it to get a reaction out of you or push limits (don't give them the satisfaction) and you'll never change their viewpoint anyway.   I choose to be annoyed at skinny hipster kids who wear war bonnets (why Lana Del Rey? Why...we had a thing...) but being offended at them is a waste of my time and energy and won't change the outcome of anything in either party's life.

Don't Surround Yourself with Idiots.  It's hard, actually.  Lots of people are utter garbage and they're stupid.  But I see so many people being offended with racism, sexism, and so on when the people who are spouting off whatever offensive bullshit ARE NOT NECESSARY IN THEIR LIVES.  We keep a lot of clutter around and that clutter includes asshole people most of the time.  Even after I found the Stephen Fry quote and worked on not being offended, certain people would still always manage to get under my skin.  It was hard in a few instances to cut those people out, but doing so made such a difference in my outlook on things.  I'm not saying ban anyone from your life whoever said something stupid, I'm talking about the level 10 morons that always upset and/or offend you.  Let 'em go.  Real friends and family don't treat you insensitively.

You Can Believe in Causes Without Being Offended.  For example, I believe strongly in abortion rights.  I know there are people who don't.  They call people who are pro-choice a lot of awful things including, and starting off with, baby killers.  Wow, pretty offensive.  But why should I take offense?  I feel strong in my belief and nothing can challenge it.  It may be the same with you--and the reason we get offended in the first place.  We feel challenged.  Again, that's something that is totally under your control.  Don't let it turn into a challenge, just accept that not everyone agrees, be mildly annoyed, and then get away from whatever person or source is offending you.  You and your beliefs will exit the scenario intact and you won't even have to cause a scene.

Being Offended Never Solved Anything.   So you want to stop homophobia, a worthy cause if I do say so myself.  When someone says "sup faggot" you get pissy.  I don't blame you.  But really look at the details; you can't police the internet or the world or what people say.  You can go to fundraisers and rallies and you can blog about change and you can actually be a supporter of gay rights.  You can even, in this situation, mildly explain that using the word faggot, or gay, as an insult, is not really helpful for human rights and you'd appreciate if it wasn't said to you/at you/around you.  Maybe the person will listen.  Maybe they won't.  All you've done is showcased your belief, kept things cool, and set a boundary.  But if you get offended, if you rage or cry, if you call them a grade-a-shit-faced-douchenozzle, not only will you anger THEM, but you'll be angry, and nothing you say will have much merit after that.  When you feel yourself getting offended, remember: it never solves the problem. 

I hope this blog entry + these tips gave you something to munch on.  And join in next time where I talk about my fake parents!!


Things I believe in.

Hello all new followers!!! If you're stopping by from the Life of Bon, hello and welcome.  (For everyone else, I did a guest post on Bonnie's blog yesterday.  It's the one time I talk fondly about my past so go read it.)  And if you're new here, I'm super excited to have you.  I was thinking of ways to introduce myself and then figured, everybody who reads my blog knows about all the things I DON'T believe in---I don't believe in any religion, I don't believe in forcing bad family relationships, I don't believe in catering to the corporate-based phenomenons and 'feminism', I don't believe in ketchup...

So it might be good for everyone to understand some of the things I do believe in.   And besides, at a stressful time of year and right before another inter-continental move, it's good to remind myself what I believe in as well. 

I believe that I have the best friends in the entire universe.  They not only put up with my hermity, neurotic ways, but they always listen when I need it and always reassure me when I'm down.  I am not sure what I've done to deserve such good friends, but I never take them for granted and prefer to hug the life out of them every single time I see them.  

I believe that laughter is the best medicine, and that most people who have morbid, cynical senses of humor are either extremely intelligent, have seen a lot of shit in their lives, or both.  I don't think there's anything one 'shouldn't joke about'...I believe our existence is a joke sometimes and we shouldn't take ourselves, the world, society, or anything too personally.  The moment something is above joking is the moment it becomes oppressive to the human spirit.  You will hear A LOT of inappropriate things coming from me. 

I believe travel, art, good music, sleep, hot tea or coffee, and a good book or show is the best way to enjoy life.  Things don't matter so much to me, and I don't need many relationships.  The American dream of the nice house, nice car, white picket fence, and two or three beautiful children does not appeal to me in the slightest, and in fact frightens me to no end.  I have all I need in the people in my life and the creativity in my brain.  I want to be able to get away whenever, I want to be able to sleep in whenever, and I must have a certain amount of chocolate to balance it all out. 

I believe that a good relationship has little to do with romance. I think the number one thing that makes it work is understanding.  Henri has no idea of what I've gone through in my life, but he makes every effort to listen and understand.  And I have no clue how things work in Sweden and why he does half the stuff he does, but I work to understand things.  It's so wonderful every time he gets me flowers, make no mistake, but when I can tell that he really understands that I don't want to be at a party because I hate the human race and want to go lie in bed, or when he understands that being in Sweden is hard for me and I just need to cry about it....that's the times when I feel closest to him.  Find someone who loves and wants to understand you, and I think you're set.  

I believe in respecting the one body I have and being responsible with nature, which means buying good quality food, not a lot of animal products, and never wearing fur or buying leather and all those obscenely unnecessary things which hurt our animal buddies.  I prefer animals to people for the most part, you'll hear me mention this on the blog sometimes.  I still have a ravenous addiction to sugar and I can out-soda-drink the president of Coca-Cola himself.  I think things are great in moderation and over-obsessing about health is the same as over-obsessing about anything else in life.  

I also believe in egalitarianism, the philosophy that no one is better than anyone and that we are all deserving of the same rights.  When most feminists who push for equality are serious about actually really truly wanting equality, the principles they're talking about are egalitarian.  Marriage equality is something I can't believe we're even still discussing.  Uteruses have nothing to do with government.  With my egalitarian beliefs comes a huge sense of apathy toward the world.  You'll see a lot of my apathy here as well.

And finally--I know, it's an overwhelming list--I believe in being candidly honest.  I didn't start this blog to be happy and fruffy and paint a nice picture of a perfect life.  I write about uncomfortable things sometimes, like child abuse and suicide, because I don't believe anything is too taboo to not discuss.  Talking is healing, and you never know who needs to hear raw words to help them in their own journeys and understandings.  I may not have the popular opinions, but trust me, whatever my opinions are, you'll hear them.

Think you can stomach all this? Great!!! I look forward to bringing in the new year with everyone.  I'm currently disgustingly sick, but that's all part of winter, right?


I Saw A Swedish Forest Spirit. (Or a naked woman)

I haven't given you guys a good Swedish ghost story since the Viking grabbed my butt earlier this year.  PREPARE TO BE SPOOKED.  Or turned on, depending on your particular fancies.

This actually happened back toward the very end of summer, after it got too cold to swim but not too cold for my bosses to go on a date night and leave me and the boys out in the Swedish forest in our summer house.  You know, the one with the ghost house.....

Since we only had a few precious days of short Swedish summer left, the boys and I went out trekking in the forest.  For those of you unfamiliar with Swedish forest, it's thick, murky, and full of trolls.  Seriously this place was intense.  I'd been through this patch of forest before but only with my boss, who spent time in the military and was a bona-fide outdoorsman.  I pride myself on being comfortable in the forest, but today I was not.

I was alone, in a spot I barely knew, with two kids under my protection and I was thoroughly creeped out.  Despite the fact that the sun was high, the woods were shady and we kept hearing loud thuds, and I just expected a moose to barrel out and destroy our lives any second.  The birds kept getting spooked, probably from our loud mouths, and every time a flock departed, cackling in a terrified way, I got even more uneasy.  Say what you want about it, I was raised a mountain girl and mountain girls in America carry guns.

So the uneasy feeling continued, and we got lost in thicker and thicker woods.  And then suddenly, the forest opened onto a lake.  More like a pond or a lagoon I guess, the whole thing was maybe 100 ft in diameter and a nearly perfect circle, a dip in the bare Swedish rock.  It was dark and shady and cold; the water at that time was just above the freezing point.  Swedish summer ain't no joke, they don't even care about supposedly warm temperatures.

And then we saw her.  The naked lady forest spirit.

Across from us, maybe sixty feet away, a woman sat naked on the rocks.  This isn't unfeasible in Sweden, nudity is pretty okay and I've encountered nudies before near water in the summer.  But there were a few oddities; this woman had no towel nearby, or no clothes laying on the bank that I could see.  She had long dark hair that was down and obviously wet, indicating she'd been swimming.  Which was INSANE.  I've jumped in 12 degree water and immediately screeched like a banshee and tore out of the ocean like a bat out of hell.  And we'd measured the temperature that day, I believe it was somewhere around 4 or 5 degrees C.

So miss naked lady saw us.  The boys looked at her but had no real opinion and soon were poking the water with rocks and sticks instead.  I sat down on the rock and marveled at how chilly it was.  The woman seemed agitated at seeing us there; she stood up and paced.  I can't explain how weird this was, because if she had wanted  to get our attention she could have waved or yelled, and if she wanted to stab us to death she could've turned around and walked away and circled the length of the lake/pond.  She did neither.

Instead, she backed away, never stopping watching us, and then paced some more.  She was like a dog or cat who sees a treat on the opposite end of a stream and would love to come closer but you know...water.  Which was strange seeing as how she had no problem being in the water before.  I watched her strange walking pattern for maybe three or four minutes, and by then I had seen enough.  I grabbed the boys and scrammed.  I was actually pretty terrified and spooked for the rest of the night.

Here's where things get fascinating.  I remembered that I wanted to tell this story on one of my favorite subreddits, so I did just that.  I expected to hear the 'was she hot' or 'score!' but what I didn't expect was a Swede to comment saying that it "sounds like you've met our Skogsrået (forest spirit)!"  Apparently this is your typical Scandinavian spirit; lives in the woods, can either be a pain in the ass or nice depending on how you treat her.

It gets weirder...for one thing, she's usually seen naked, and here's the real kicker: she has a tail or in some regions a hollowed-out tree bark back, and when interacting with people hides her back.  Not only have I never heard of this spirit--since my boss is a biologist and not a medicine man--but I had no idea about the 'hiding her back' part.  When I read about that I was pretty creeped out.

So there you have it.   Either huldras are real, and one was deciding what the hell to do with us intruders before we wisened up and scurried out of her probable sex den--the likely possibility--or, we saw a naked woman who may or may not have been on drugs and thought that water was an impenetrable fortress.  The less likely possibility.


The Secrets That I Have Seen. NSFW.

I'm sure my sappy happiness over the Christmas season and my wonderful life in Sweden has really put a few people over the edge.  I see people everywhere complaining and getting holiday sadness and my heart truly goes out to those people.  It does.  My own sister is going through this right now and sometimes I wish I could swim across the Atlantic and give her a good old fashioned hug so that she knows her big sister loves her even if our parents were royal shithead assholes.

I have struggled with seasonal depression and suicidal thoughts around this time of year since I was in foster care.  I will talk later this month about some of the wonderful reasons Christmas is special to me but before I get as sentimental as a Hallmark card, I want to talk for a bit about my mother.  If you're not in the mood for some grimey Alex stories, I suggest you flip back a few entries.  I just feel like if I talk about the good without going over the bad, then I'm one of those peppy positive people who glosses over life and that's so not me.  I also want people, and my readers, to understand why I often use the phrase "my mom is a grade a class act queen of homecoming bitch."

 With my Dad, the crazy was visible. Unstoppable.  Completely inarguable.  He chainsawed couches, burned down bars, gave me ex-convict babysitters (one, his name was Lefty), sold drugs and was a cockfighter for money.  You knew exactly when he was angry, what it was about, and he was even considerate enough to tell you where you were going to get beaten, and sometimes for how long.  He was a maniac who lived in a maniac village from a long line of maniacs and raising maniacs. 

my mother, left, and me, right

Then there was my mother, the youngest blond-haired blue-eyed child from a well-to-do family and a loving marriage and a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood.  Some of this story is my own but the others were told to me by family members when I made my miserable trip home in 2011.  It's taken two years of tears, therapy, medicine, and a hell of a lot of soul searching to come to terms with all these things.  I have never talked about most of it though. 

Despite her cozy life full of dance lessons and wealth, she was a rough kid.  Tattooed at 14, drinking and smoking at 12/13, stealing her father's prescription pills at 12.  Apparently, she sold them for money.  Threatened to run away and elope if her parents didn't let her marry at 15.  Married at 15.  Pregnant at 16.  From there it's god knows what kind of antics, and then she had me. 

My Brother Trampas

When my mom married my father, they both had older children from previous marriages, and my dad had one son, Trampas.  Trampas came to live with us and I remember being thrilled.  I was four or five years old.  I had a big brother! WOW!! He was a teenager and seemed intensely uninterested in me.  I bugged him to draw with me and play with me and he always sighed aggravatedly or disappeared mysteriously.  Then one day he was gone.  I had no idea why.  I was five so it didn't matter too much--after all I was used to my dad going away periodically to jail (classy) but I hardly ever saw Trampas after that.  I wouldn't find out why until 2011.

My Cousin Adam

Let's backtrack for a minute.  I was three.  I have never told this story in any published form and I'm actually shaking because I don't know how to say it or how to be even mildly cynically amusing while saying it.  My beloved aunt Doris had one son, Adam, my older cousin, also a teenager.  There was one instance when I was three years old when Doris, my Mom, and my grandmother went shopping and left Adam to babysit.  

I was only three and I remember him molesting me.  I remember everything in very, very vivid detail.  He made me undress, he told me that we were playing house and were husband and wife.  I knew something was wrong but had no idea what to do or say.  Twenty three years later and I remember the pattern on the couch we laid on, and I remember knowing in my gut afterward that I had to tell.  I chose a quiet time when my mom was doing some craft in the bedroom.  I told her everything and she stared at me with a blank slate face.

After I finished talking, she said, "Don't tell anybody about this, and don't let your dad hear it, or he'll kill Adam."  She was probably right.  I wasn't hugged, I wasn't consoled, I wasn't helped, I wasn't offered a doctor's visit or a therapist or anything.  I hid everything from my family and we never spoke of it again.  I decided when I rekindled my relationship with Doris that I would not tell her about this, because it would have made her completely miserable.  She only had two children and her other died in a car wreck when she was 24, so I didn't want to be the bearer of more grief.

So, in 2011, I was driving around Georgia with my aunt and she asked me a strange question.  

"Did Trampas ever molest you?"


"I wasn't sure if anybody ever told you this...but when Trampas, your brother, came to live with you, Dana (my mother) didn't like him and wanted him gone.  Your dad tried to fight about it and then one day Dana told everyone that Trampas had touched you and told you that you guys were playing house and husband and wife, really gross, sick stuff.  I don't think your dad believed it, but he sent Trampas to go live with his mom so that he wouldn't get in trouble.  Did that really happen?"

I am pretty sure I whispered a no, and the rest of the conversation is a blur to me. That night I cried for hours.  Not only had my mom done nothing about my sexual abuse, she stored the information and used it to tell a lie against my older brother just because she didn't like him.  

Then, I began to question myself. HAD Trampas ever touched me?  I was young after all and memories of him were fragmented.  What if I had been abused not only by my cousin, but also my brother?  What kind of disgusting, inbred freak was I?  People have suppressed memories all the time about stuff like this.   

My Aunt Doris died without ever knowing the truth about her son.  He's still alive, and has stepchildren of his own.  I don't know if my dad knows the truth.  I don't know what he thinks about any of this.  I know that my mother's reputation is so bad that even if I asked, there's a 100 percent chance she'd make up some fucking life to pacify me with.  

The way I figure it, IF my brother molested me and I don't remember it, I'm lucky.  It's bad enough that I remember what my cousin did to me. That pain and scar will never go away.  Even today it affects my sexual health and relationship.  If my brother didn't molest me, then that's another reason to hate my piece of shit mother.  She was more upset about the idea of my dad going to prison for murder than any emotional damage that might have been inflicted on her daughter.  Actually I doubt she was worried about me at all. 

There's no question in my mind that my mother never loved me and that any nurturing she might have done was instinct, or hope that I would turn out to be something that pleased her.  I didn't.  But the miserable bitch doesn't please me either, so I guess that makes us even.  

My dad used to beat me, he's broken my finger, he's called me Horse face and retard and he's starved me, broken a broom over my legs, choked me, thrown me across the room as a toddler, and other unspeakable things that make him no better than dust on the bottom of my shoes.  But maybe out of some desperation to find something positive in this fucked up situation of my life, I can say that he never manipulated me, never used me for lies, and if he knew what Adam did to me he would have probably, actually, really killed him because my dad recognized the "line" somewhere.  Somewhere in his insane drug-addled head.

My mom could not have cared less.  She proved that. 


The Best Swedish Yule Traditions!

Well this is a long overdue post.  Blame having a life and being too happy to come whine on my blog about how shitty people are.  Thanksgiving went great and my friends were the best little test subjects ever (being the first to eat my first--and only--turkey dinner) and it was great to have some familiar tastes like stuffing, cranberry sauce, and yam/marshmallow casserole.

So now we're in Christmas mode!! First things first, this list is my opinion of the best traditions, what I'm looking forward to the most, etc.  If I forgot or left something off, deal with it, it's my second Swedish Christmas and my first one spent with children.  Second thing...out with this Christmas business.  It's YULE.  Or, if you want to be even more correct, Jul.  (Still pronounced with a y sound.)

Jul.  Say it.  JUL.  Don't you already feel like a pre-Christianity heathen basking in winter's fine glory while standing in the mead hall in your fine mooseskin boots? Okay good here goes.

1. Glögg (you'll have to google pronouncing that one as I have no idea how to phonetically spell it)
This was my first introduction to what Jul is all about.  And it continues to be a favorite.   It's a warm, spiced alcoholic drink that you sip while obviously sitting in front of the fire and cuddling with your handsome Swedish lover.  There's non-alcoholic versions for the kids, of course.

2.  Stars in Windows
I don't know if there's a proper Swedish term for this, but it's a custom that I was curious about my first winter here, and now on winter two, I'm absolutely a fanatic.  Instead of Christmas trees in windows every apartment and house has one (or more) lit stars out the window.  They're usually made of paper with a light inside, but I've seen them made out of plastic as well.  They are classy and beautiful and make the otherwise cold and relentless Scandinavian night seem warm.

3.  Lucia.
I am SO FRIGGIN EXCITED to celebrate Lucia for the first time in Sweden!! You may know the song (it was on an episode of the Andy Griffith show, and Elvis also sings an Italian version) but America doesn't celebrate Swedish style; a choir, a girl with candles on her head, and some delicious saffron buns called Lussekatter. I asked about the origins and nobody has a clear answer, and neither does Wikipedia.  Does it matter? GIRL WITH CANDLES ON HER HEAD SINGING.  This is one of the few blatant Christian traditions I enjoy.  Bringing Christianity to Sweden--something I don't care about--but it's a beautiful tradition nonetheless.

4.   Risgrynsgröt och mandeln i gröten
Why are all my favorite traditions about food? I have a problem.  Well anyway, here's a cute fact: instead of the chocolate chip cookies, Santa eats porridge (rice pudding) in Sweden!! It's too damn cold here for cookies to warm his frozen tush, even the warm gooey ones straight out of the oven.  But the tradition gets better!  Inside the porridge is a single almond.  The person who finds the almond is supposedly the person who will get married next!!! God that's adorable.

5.  Santa comes in the house!! WHAT?! 
I almost dropped MY cookies at this tradition.  We all know as Americans that you better get your little arse to bed and keep your eyes closed while Santa sneaks his sneaky self inside and leaves presents.  Not in Sweden! In Sweden, presumably because every family doesn't have a rifle, or maybe because rice pudding > cookies, Santa COMES IN THE HOUSE TO GIVE OUT PRESENTS WHAT.  I am so excited for this.  I can't believe I get to really see the big guy at work!! Like his actual one work day of the year.  I will probably cry because I cry most times I see Santa. 

6.  Julmust.  
Yeah another food shut up okay? Julmust (Christmas-Sap) is a beverage kind of like Coca-cola, but more...jul..ey.  I cannot explain the taste!!! You must try it if you have a European relative or a shop in your city that sells Scandinavian goods.  Julmust took a few days to grow on me because the taste is markedly different than other soda, but man oh man does it taste good now!  It's only sold during Jul (and again for Easter) so it's like the McRib, when it's in town everyone flocks to it like mosquitos to a zapper.

There are other traditions here: julbord, gingerbread houses, advent, and so on but the above are just my favorite parts of the holiday.  I love how toned-down and earthy Swedish Christmas is compared to big huge blowout American Christmas and I absolutely adore how Black Friday isn't even a term people recognize.  As much as I friggin hate how dark it gets (SUN GOES AWAY AT 230 PEOPLE. TWO THIRTY PM) I do love that feeling of turning down all the lights, lighting up candles, and feeling the Christmas spirit. 

More on Swedish Christmas to come!!


Things to Stop Telling Me, Part One.

As inspired from an annoyed Facebook post, things to stop telling me.  There will be a second part, because I can rant about these things.  Of course MOST people that I have in my life (for any large amount of time) know not to tell me this anyway.  Maybe some of them think these things, and that's fine, but I don't want to listen.  Allow me to talk more about why.

1.  Stop Telling Me To "Be Positive."
This is the worst offender, no doubt, and I think there's two reasons.  One is because uh, I'm not positive.  But two is because being positive is the cultural norm and everyone's "goal."  Society preaches that if you're positive, good things will happen.  Books are written about the magnetism of positivity.  I call bullshit because all around me I see people with shitty situations struggling so hard to be positive and not let any negative thoughts seep in that they pretty much are forcing a heart attack on themselves.  My life has never been better and more enriching, I've never felt more honest and whole than when I embraced the negativity and accepted it as who I am and something not inherently bad just within itself.  Things suck, people suck, life sucks, and that's OKAY! Some people are naturally positive, but even those people get chastised by the other, less positive people who say "oh come on your life can't be that perfect." (Aka every blogger ever.)  So wait, is it supposed to be perfect or isn't it?

The point is, if life were a game or a mathematical problem, it's one that can be solved in many different ways.  Not just one. Being positive is not 'the answer' to everyone's problems and so everyone kindly shut the hell up with your positive radiance.  Negative people don't want to hear it.

2.  Stop telling me to love my beautiful, capable body.  
Bodies are amazing and fantastic.  And in this Tumblrite age, you're basically a misogynistic woman hater if you don't love your own body. Yes, media is bad.  Yes photoshop is bad.  Yes promoting people to starve themselves and whatnot is bad.  This is a given and I shouldn't even have to explain that I don't agree with it, but I will anyway.  But let me tell you something.  Bodies--human bodies especially--are gross and weird.  They have floppy parts, hilarious parts, parts that should have hair and don't, parts that DO have hair and it's ugly and weird, and we haven't even going into bodily FUNCTIONS which are nasty all on their own. 

Maybe some people like poop and pee and snot and blood, but I haven't met any of those people.  And bodies do all those things.  (sidenote, I do like farts, because they're hilarious.  But they're not beautiful or sexy.)  My body swells up and retains water once a month and I feel like the Michelin Man.  I get pus-filled holes in my face that I have to smash with my hands just to have the goo come out.  Bodies are GROSS, okay?  Sometimes I do feel beautiful, sometimes I feel like a real goddess.  And then other times I feel like maybe the best thing would just be to dig a hole and fall in it and stay there until my uterus decides the expelling period (no pun intended) is over.  The blog posts with pictures of armpit hair and bloody vaginas are so not needed.  So not needed.  You can accept that your body is a wonder of science, and accept that science is gross and not pretty, at the same time.  This goes into the earlier comment about positivity.  Not all things are 100 percent positive and beautiful okay? okay.  Glad we got it. 

3.  Stop telling me that my family problems will work out or that my parents "really do love me even if they don't show it." 
One of the things that held me back from true happiness for years was this ridiculous absurd perpetuated myth that all families reunite later on when everyone's beautiful and in their prime of life, like an Oxygen movie.  I heard it from foster parents, therapists, and caseworkers.  That my parents really did love me.  That everything would be okay.  That time would heal everything and we would have a reunion.  As a result I waited (not very patiently, because not having a family is abnormal and nobody likes being THAT person on Christmas) for the reunion, waited for them to come around.  I put all my efforts into maintaining the most unhealthy relationships of my life, and it was all a waste.

A baby elephant was abandoned by its mother.  The mother gave birth and then stomped on the baby.  They gave the baby back, and she stomped on it again.  They eventually decided to hell with this mother and consoled the poor little guy, who cried for five hours.  I keep telling people this and I keep getting flack for it but here goes again: nature is cruel and mean and nasty and doesn't give a blue fuck about your perceived "family." Family is a nice tribal illusion we've had over the thousands of year's we've evolved, to stay in packs with and to thus exponentially increase our survival rate.  Family is fantastic when it's a healthy family--like the healthy family bond between Henri and his mother that I am fascinated to watch and have never seen anything like.  They get along and love and support each other and I am just in awe at how wonderful they are.  But I also understand that I will never have that bond.  I am wasting my time, my emotions, and the good parts of my life if I focus on fixing something that can't be fixed.  Yet somehow I'm the bad guy for choosing my own happiness, and turning my back on the family who treated me the equivalent of the stomped baby elephant. 

Shut up.  When you tell people from broken homes that things will get better or that their parents "really do love them" even if their parent tried to stick a knife down their throat, you're only damaging the person more+.  Just shut the hell up about your positive-minded paint the world pretty colors bullshit, and tell them something like, "Damn, your parent/s/ really do suck.  What shitheads.  Well, good thing you can be happy without them.  I'm here if you need me."  <<DO THIS AND SEE HOW THE EFFECTIVENESS RATES SKYROCKET.

4.  Stop telling me you'll pray for me.
If you understand the way an atheist's mind works you'll totally understand that praying is hilarious and childish to us.  When someone says "I spent the morning praying" they might as well say "I spent the morning playing toy cars and a dinosaur came and broke my tow truck."  It's just absurd and ridiculous.  But hey if that's what you want to do in your free time (and only in your closet, please, as the Bible states) then go for it.  I like farts so I can't call anybody immature.

But do not in your cotton-picking everloving son of a biscuit eating life tell me that you'll pray for me.  I will translate it into something equally as stupid, and I will probably never speak to you again at the very, very least.  Here's a sample translation:

"I don't believe in god."
"I'll pray for you to see the light and come to our Savior Jesus Christ."

"I don't like toast."

"I will talk to myself and beg my imaginary friend Dave to change your own perspective on this thing you don't like which I do like, because people who believe in toast are obviously the correct group."

See how awful that sounds? It's just gross.  And praying in general irritates me, because people want to let me know on Facebook, they're sending prayers.  Oh god please come on.  Come on.  You really sat down and earnestly asked God to help this random Facebook person?  And they say it like it's some kind of Harry Potter spell zipping through the air and will soon hit the person and give them whatever it is they need.  "Sending prayers your way!"  "Wingardium Leviosa!" It's insulting to my humanity that you say something so completely ridiculous.

It's just passive-aggressive way for Christians to say they'll be in heaven and I won't, but if they were so concerned for real I would ask them to you know...pray where it's needed.  Or actually go out and volunteer at a soup kitchen and DO something.

I'll just leave a quote from Hitchens here...I've been on a Hitchens kick lately so you're welcome. 

"Now, let’s take a case of someone who’s been dealt a bad hand: what about Fraulein Friesel in Austria whose father kept her in a dungeon where she didn’t see daylight for twenty-four years and came down most nights to rape and to sodomize her, often in front of the children.  I want you just to take a moment to—since you’re so interested in the downtrodden and the helpless—imagine how she must have begged [God]. Imagine how she must have pleaded. Imagine for how long. Imagine how she must of prayed everyday, how she must have beseeched Heaven. Imagine, for twenty-four years. And no. No answer at all. Nothing! No-thing! NOTHING! Imagine how those children must have felt."


Does Success Matter When You're Depressed?

You want my thoughts on seasonal depression? FUCK YOU SEASONAL DEPRESSION.  There, how's that?

no but seriously. sorry, no pretty pics, but hang in there and I'll throw in a Till gif.

I've been a sufferer from this for most of my life, actually.  It probably had something to do with the fact that my parents both suffered intense mood changes right when the clocks go back an hour, and for five months I basically lived with two adult werewolves.  They were brutal and down in the winter, so I learned to be, as well.  Plus, living without electricity and running water kind of dampens the mood, and having food shortages and animals to take care of out in the freezing rain and snow doesn't exactly make anyone scream from cheerfulness.

But here I am living a first world life where my current biggest problem is that I left my very expensive bag and very expensive makeup inside the bag inside a train and haven't heard back from the train company and am fearing my makeup gone forever and have had to go around makeup-free for a full week and it's not my thing right now.  Pretty big leap from the days of not having food, and yet I still have seasonal depression.  I can feel it coming on, and it's not easier here in Sweden where the sun goes away at 3pm.

So we all know I dedicated the year to bettering my self esteem...well, all it takes is a little poke of depression to undo all that hard work, and I have been nothing but a miserable sleepy lump for the past two weeks.  I keep thinking to myself, "snap out of Alex, things are going well and you have shit to do"  which includes:

  • buying and wrapping everyone's Christmas presents
  • sending Christmas cards
  • Thanksgiving party
  • Star Trek party
  • Glögg party 
  • Christmas Eve with the Family
  • Christmas with Henri's Mom
  • New Year's in the Arctic Circle
  • Moving my shit out of the au pair house and preparing to go back to Utah

But unbelievably, my depression doesn't listen to me when I tell it to fuck off.  It hangs on me like a bad smell and I immediately start thinking of all the worst things ever.  Now, before this year, the big difference was that I hated myself and thought I was useless and so on.  After MoodGym and some serious self-love work, I no longer believe those things to be true.

I like myself pretty okay, most days.

I think I'm a success, not a failure.

The thing is I thought that my more realistic and positive view of myself would be like a shield, a barricade against depression when it showed up again.  I thought that nothing could change my forward-moving life and that I had won.  When you get rid of warped mind perspectives and don't feel like jumping off a bridge, you feel like a winner.  Having a good life, like the one I have, also helps.

Well, not for the first time in my life, I was wrong.  Depression is a part of me I think, and I think it always will be in my life no matter how rich and famous and sexy I become.  And that's hard to accept sometimes the way I guess any disease is hard to accept, especially because this specific disease isn't something you monitor with equipment or check blood levels for.  It just comes and goes and who knows when you'll feel like what.  I realized today, sadly, that my success doesn't matter.

Depression doesn't care who you are and what you've done.  I could have rescued 200 orphans from the volcano of doom and given them all a puppy and a home for Christmas and I would still feel like walking in front of a train.  I'm not trying to be morbid (it just happens) but when you're sitting there feeling like Syd Barrett in his hotel room, staring off into space and being a big nothing, your whole life and achievements don't matter.

I guess in a way this is humbling, but it's also troubling.  I like to feel that I don't matter. I like to feel that no one matters and that the universe is random and we mean absolutely nothing and are less worth than the dirt on the bottom of our shoes.  That's just how I am as a person---horrible, I guess, and don't worry because I have varying degrees of belief in our importance as well--but I think everyone should feel small and insignificant.  Not like in the way that you feel small and insignificant because your husband beats you, but the small and insignificant that you feel when you look at a full night sky full of stars or a sunset in the desert.

But feeling like your achievements mean nothing is scary when you have depression.  You can sink off into nothingness and that feared suicidal mindset faster than a fish leaving an oily deck.  There are only a few threads hanging me into reality when I'm depressed, and I don't even know what they really are.  I think a few of them are the people in my life who want me to stay alive, but they're not the only part.  I don't know what the rest of it is.  I've been called a fighter, and someone who doesn't give up, so it's possible those other strings are just the parts of me that want to live for some selfish and programmed biological reasons.  Maybe it's the Almighty Universe, saving me for some grand purpose (yes I'm being sarcastic you dumbasses, I don't believe in that shit) and maybe it's the willpower of the great One And Only Till Lindemann. 


 I promise my next post will be more uplifting.  I want to share some Christmas memories as well as talk about our plans for the holiday season and New Year so please stick with me!  Depression is not fun to write or read about, but it's cathartic and I think it helps me, and maybe someone somewhere out there can relate.  Despite what bloggers want you to believe, life is not sunshine and flowers and happiness and cute outfit posts.  


A Year Without Video Games.

Did you guys know I decided to go a year without video games?  Actually, did you guys know I even like video games?  I am sure my nerdiness has come across this blog a time or two but I realize I keep it a pretty nerd-free zone.  That needs to change.  For god's sake all I ever did in America was game game game.  My tattoos are video-game based and I'm due for a few more.  So let's talk about the fact that I, someone who gamed her life away in 2011-2012 didn't touch a console game all year.  Until last weekend.

It wasn't like some big life-changing decision.  My thought process went, "Eh, I guess I could not do video games.  I mean, I'll be living in someone else's house.  Where I'm supposed to work and stuff.  Also there's small children and maybe stabbing zombies isn't the best thing I can do around 'em."   Then I had this afterthought that maybe just maybe a whole new world would open up to me and I would see this thing called 'life' that people seem to think gamers miss out on.  I would smell the roses more clearly and have a million adventures out there while being unplugged.  

I adore video games, and find them an extremely worthy hobby.  One of my absolute pet peeves is people (aka girlfriends) who complain that games are for kids and adults shouldn't partake and that they waste creative time.  When I was gaming, I used to pump out artwork at a mad hatter's pace.  I wrote over 300 chapters and short stories and got up to 13 chapters on my original novel that I'm still working on.  I was ready to open a jewelry shop and had a ton of ideas for items to sell.  Everything halted when the video games halted.  Video games are my main creative outlet.  Not books, not art gallery strolls.  Video games.  And they're wonderful and sublime and meaningful and have fantastic soundtracks and beautiful storytelling and imagery.  This year has been the most boring, uncreative year of my life and I know the lack of gaming has a lot to do with that. 

Case in point, here are some of my works that are totally based from video games:

 So the point of the story: I haven't picked up a video game since god knows when.  Until genius Henri alerted me last weekend that he has my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE GAME OF ALL TIME on his PS3.  And I could have been playing the motherfucker this whole entire year.  I literally did the smack on the forehead and then run down the face.  What the hell.  I don't even.  I picked up the controller.  I made a new character.  I was on my way to New Vegas yet again. 

It must have been how Jimmy Page felt when he dropped acid the first time while holding a guitar, or how Picasso felt the first time he also dropped acid while playing guitar.  I felt like myself, in a familiar place, with familiar stories and old friends and that satisfying ability to shoot people in the face and watch their heads explode.  How on EARTH does anyone else survive without playing games?  

So in 2014 there will not only be me talking about video games, sharing some of my favorite moments and quests and characters and soundtracks and other nerdy things, but there will also be me opening a shop based on video games! I'll go into more detail well....when I start putting shit together.  I still have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and getting back to America to cry on my cat for eleven hours to think about before I can organize all that.  

Any of my readers game? Please tell me yes.  Please tell me it's okay for me to spam you with nerdiness.  BECAUSE I'M GONNA 


I Was Batman and Sweden Didn't Care.

Since my Nazi story went over so well I'm back again with another story that slipped through getting written down until now.  Blame my weird October depression.  And enjoy the story. 

Oh, Swedes.  I think I have you and your culture down pat, but the truth is in some ways I am still one hundred percent, genuinely, unabashedly, almost clownishly American.  Like that time I thought whipped cream was something you bought from the frozen food section and was wow'd when the cream I was whipping actually turned into whipped cream.   Or the whole finding out that zero coffee shops have raspberry mochas (don't even think about knocking this, go try it you judgmental jerks) by asking for one and getting disgusted looks.  I thought I knew how to tiptoe around politically correct, uptight, mile-high-personal-walls.

Then my boss's bike gets stolen and I make a fool of myself.

This is my boss.  He's a politican.  He's passionate about being Green and naturally had a great vintage bike that I sort of took over for most of this year and rode around wherever.  I was just as outraged as he was when one day it just...wasn't there.  Maybe naively, I kept it outside, a whopping six feet from the front door, and when it was gone I kind of mentally freaked out that someone would just walk up to our yard and take it.

My boss was really upset.  This was not the first bike he's had stolen, and he loves to bicycle so he set about going to all the town's bike shops, filing a police report, et cetera.  Nothing.  We gave up hope and he bought a "new" (vintage) bike, but I was still bummed because nothing could replace Old Red.

Then one rainy morning I was on my way home from dropping the children off at dagis, and what do you think I saw?  IN A NEIGHBOR'S YARD????  Propped up almost gallantly, looking fresh and glistening thanks to the rain bath...it was the bicycle.  I remember feeling a rush of emotion: happiness that I found the bike, then anger at the people who took it, and indignation that they would so blatantly put it on display in their yard.  IT WASN'T EVEN LOCKED.  What.

So, I did what any amazing, awesome, loyal bike enthusiast and owner would do.  I opened the gate, took the bike, and rode it home.  Then, I lugged it into the garage and called my boss at work.  Since he's a part of the EU Parliament, he works in Brussels.  AKA he was a world away.  I was so excited to share the good news.  He was passionate about this bike too!! He would be so happy!!

Me:  Guess what IIIIIIIIIIIII foooooooundddddddd?!?!
Him: (very annoyed) ....what? What are you---
Me: IT'S THE BIKE! (I can almost hear him thanking me profusely!!!)
Him:  ....The what?
Him: You...what? Are you sure? Where is it?  (now he perked up, definitely interested)
Me: It's in the garage! (My chest was puffing outward now out of sheer pride.)
Him: It's where?!?!?!?!
Me: (now confused, slightly deflated) In...our...garage?
Me: Uhhhhh
Him: Oh god I have to call the police now.  Just...lock the garage and don't take the bike out.

So I got off the phone and felt another surge of emotions.  Why had I just been shamed?  What did I do?  Was it actually the right bike? I opened the garage just to double check, thinking I must be crazy.  My confusion turned into anger.  How dare he!  I WAS BASICALLY BATMAN.  I BROUGHT JUSTICE TO THIS FAMILY.  I DESERVE RESPECT.  GOTHAM ISN'T SAFE WITHOUT ME.  (This was also the day I learned I'd make a bad superhero.)

As it turns out, in Sweden, you don't just vigilante a stolen bike back.  You have to call the police and tell them where the bike is, so that they can go confirm it's yours via serial number or whatever.  This is stupid and wasteful, am I right?!?! If some asshat has MY bicycle parked on his back lawn like some war trophy I'm getting the damn thing back MYSELF.  But unfortunately in Sweden, that meant that I was now a bike thief.  

My boss had to call the police on me.  I was entirely stupefied.  And enraged.  And decided right there I would fight this one to the death and tell everyone how idiotic they were being.  This was the bike I have had adventures on for almost a year.  This bike and I have a relationship.  What I did was right.  As it turns out my boss also informed the police that I was American and we have 'different' ideas of justice.  But just because fuck my life, the police were coming to the house that night to check the bike and talk to me.

This had to be the stupidest day ever.  That's right folks, not only was I called a Nazi by a Christian Swede, but I also had to talk to the police because I stole my own bike.  The police came (two policewomen actually) and they were really nice and slightly amused.  They checked the serial number, they took my passpord ID number, laughed a little, and left.  Of course all the neighbors were drawn to the situation of a police car parked outside the house and the American (collective neighborhood groan) talking to two cops about who knows what.

So that's my story of how I was illegal in Sweden.
How American Justice was so wrong and so right.

Because I'm the Hero Linköping deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
So they'll hunt me.
Because I can take it. 
Because I'm not their Hero.
I'm a silent guardian.
A watchful protector

a dark knight 


The Swedish Stuff You Adjust To.

I have been in Sweden almost a year! Whaaaaaaaaaat? Since my mind is totally fried lately I thought I might write about some things I balked at when I arrived on the cold, fertile Viking soil and now have completely adapted to and will find myself not-okay-with-unadapting-to when I get back to Utah in January.

  • Eating everything with a fork and a knife.   I don't think it was just me because I remember EVERYONE in Utah and Tennessee just shoveling food in with a fork unless it was fancy steak or something.  In Sweden you eat EVERYTHING with a knife and a fork, even things like pizza (some lunatics do it with burgers too but that is just too much.  Hands I say!) 
  • Swedish pancakes.   I don't even know what I would do with an American pancake anymore.  Just look at it in horror, I imagine.  
  • No threats of being sued everywhere.  I remember first arriving and seeing ice all over the roads and sidewalk and wondering how the whole country wasn't bankrupt from getting sued.  I found out that sueing is a pretty American thing and now when I hear about someone threatening to sue over falling or getting hurt or the airbag not deploying I roll my eyes.  
  • No corn syrup.  Most of the additives and horse shit that flows with abundance through American food is banned here.  I have gradually tapered off reading every single label because something marked juice is actually juice, something marked meat is actually meat, and so on.  Of course there are exceptions, but the food/shiteating culture is so completely different it blows my mind.  
  • More equality.   I still have to deal with Swedish feminism which is the worst kind of feminism, but if I wasn't dealing with that it'd be the Mormons...so I can't win either way I go.  But Sweden is more equal in general; I see things like dads pushing strollers, gay couples holding hands, etc and nobody bats an eye.  
  • More atheism!! In Utah if you say you're an atheist there's almost always an awkward pause while the person processes the fact that you probably eat babies.  In Sweden, I've been made fun of and teased and called a Christian as an insult.  That's right, they use the word Christian which murricans so proudly flaunt like a badge of honor, as something humiliating.   A lot of older people  (40+) still maintain some loose association with the Swedish church, which is by far the quietest and nicest church ever, but people my age are 99 percent atheist.  They would be insulted if you even suggested there was another way to be.  It's great. 
  • Nobody talks to each other in public.   When in Utah, using the public transit system you could bet someone would talk to me.  Sometimes it was a wayfaring traveler just getting out of jail, sometimes it was a lonely old lady, and sometimes it was a granola Mormon mom on her way to pilates class.  I never thought I minded, but being on the trains in Sweden and never having to placate strangers for smalltalk has been one of my favorite things about this country.  Swedes, and especially Stockholmers, want nothing to do with idly chatting to strangers.  They kind of blow past people with tunnel vision most of the time, and nobody thinks it's rude.  I like it. 
  • Meats have sauces.  All meat.  A million sauces.  Sometimes I miss Worcestershire sauce.  But usually not.  
  • Taking shoes off inside.  I wonder, will I keep this adopted cleanly habit when I move? The answer is probably yes.  But I hate being barefoot, so we will see. 
  • Everything costing a million dollars.  Swedish things are expensive.  Everything from food to clothes is at least three times what you'd pay inside a WalMart.  That's scary.  I guess when I get to America I will go on a thrift store shopping spree just to be amazed at all the things I will get! 
  • In summer, there's no dark.  In winter, there's no light.   Right now the sun sets about 1630, but by December it will be setting an hour earlier.  That's right, by the time it's 4pm and before most people are off work, it's black as pitch outside.  It's really strange.  Strange as going to a Rammstein concert and getting home at 3am and watching the sunrise.  WHAT IS THAT ABOUT THE SUN DIDN'T GO DOWN TIL LIKE MIDNIGHT.   I actually don't like the lengthy day or the lengthy night but I will adapt.  
I'm sure more, TONS more could be added to this list, but I will leave it here so as to not overwhelm! 


The Time I Got Called A Nazi.

I have forgotten how nice it is to tell random funny stories on my blog as well as the deep dark heavy stuff.  Well, you're in luck today, because I keep thinking I need to write this one down.  It's such a doozy.  I know it's something I'll laugh about for a long time, despite being TOTALLY blindsided and shocked when it happened. 

Backstory: We have a neighbor who comes from an abusive past.  She's a bit older than me (has two kids and a husband etc) but we hit it off and she invited me to art class. It's important to note that the art classes took place in a church.  Everyone here knows I'm an atheist so, no big deal, right?  We started going in the spring, took a break for summer, and summer was the time when I was coming off antidepressants and deactivated my Facebook for awhile.  Summer came and went and I was looking forward to going back to art class and was even scheduled to teach a few of the classes.

She started acting weird.  I had literally no idea what I'd done wrong.  I often think that I misread social interactions, which is probably incorrect as I'm really emotionally intelligent, but still, I doubted myself.  Was she acting weird? Was I imagining things? Had she seen me naked through the bedroom window accidentally? You know how it is when you see someone naked by accident and you act all avoidy.  I couldn't figure it out.  I felt like I was being pushed away so I went with that and didn't talk to her.

Then one morning, I saw her in the grocery store and thought to myself, "Enough is fucking enough."  I boldly went up to her and said hello, and she rather awkwardly and meekly offered me a ride home in her car.  It was on this innocent car ride that she made her move.

Neighbor:  I feel betrayed by you, from one abused child to another.
Me:  ...errrr.....??? (did she see me naked???)
Neighbor:  You do know you deleted me from Facebook?

At this point we're standing outside our houses and I can't stop myself from laughing.  That's it? Facebook deletion? 

Me:  I think you're taking Facebook a little too personally.  I deactivated---
Her:  No, you need to listen to me.  You attacked me on Facebook.
Me:  I...what????
Her:  It was with your anti-religious posts.  You were speaking specifically to me!
Me:  Ohhhh no.  nononono.  I go on anti-religious rants sometimes (kind of like I do on this blog) but they are NEVER directed at any one person and rather the religious ideals themselves.  Definitely not you.  (I was still kind of laughing at this point, but I tried to sober up.

Me:  I'm sorry if you ever felt that I was attacking you but I can assure you that wasn't my intention.  I think you need to take Facebook a little less seriously.
Her:  No! You attacked me!  You don't know my life! You don't know what struggle I've had to have my faith!
Me: oh boy
Her:  You made me feel WORTHLESS!! You made me feel PERSECUTED!!!


Me:  .............



(is she serious?! Is she seriously going to call me this? My brain was making time slow down.  I swear I only remember this happening in slow motion) 


(she's serious oh god here it comes)


(she's really going to say it!)


Cue the most dumbfounded, flabbergasted, completely blank slate reaction ever from me.  I wasn't even mad.  How could I be mad?! A SWEDE had just called me a Nazi! In plain daylight! OVER A GODDAMN FACEBOOK POST SHE ASSUMED WAS MEANT FOR HER!!! I just kind of blinked hazily while she whined for a few more minutes.  Was that even legal?  Swedes don't even look at each other in public much less call each other name MUCH LESS SAY THE N WORD.  This is Europe! Who does that?!?!!?
At some point when the fog lifted and she was still sputtering out how mean I was (I think she realized she'd overstepped a huge boundary at this point, she'd lost her fire) I just shook my head and walked inside the house.  Her last words were, "Yes, you go and have a think!"  and I was like, "You too, the next time you call someone a Nazi."  We haven't spoken since.

Like I said, I was pretty horrified and shaken up at the time, because WHO DOES THAT REALLY, but afterward it was pretty funny and now it's a family joke that I'm the resident atheist Nazi.  It was a little awkward when we rang her doorbell for Halloween and I'd dressed Cornelius up as the Devil, but that's what us atheist Nazis do.   


Life Currently + Autumn Cake

Oops.  Well I have completely fallen off the blog everyday wagon--I warned you this might happen.  Honestly, I haven't been making the posts for two reasons...one, life has actually gotten REALLY hectic and crazy and insane and maybe I will talk more about it when I can collect my thoughts....and two, the lack of Halloween buildup in Sweden has actually depressed me.

First, the good: the cake.  Henri's mom turned 60 this past weekend and she threw a completely lovely party.  Wanting to try out my new baking skills, I made my go-to vanilla cake, but tried a new filling: homemade raspberry sauce.  The cake was topped with homemade buttercream icing and a thin layer of fondant.  Then I marbled yellow, red, and brown fondant and used some chocolate frosting to make an autumn tree.  It tasted great and was a huge hit.  I was proud.

Onto the bad.

There's no ten thousand spiders in every shop.  No "Halloween Stores" like the ones we had dotted all over Salt Lake.  No Starbucks with pumpkin spice lattes.  No prominent pumpkin displays in the store at all--I noticed a few pumpkins hidden in our grocery store yesterday and seeing them tucked away like an afterthought made me really sad.  No horror movie marathons, no community affairs, no friends planning Halloween parties.  Honestly, seeing how Sweden handles October has been my biggest challenge with living here.  Not owning guns irked me, the high taxes scared me, the prices on things like clothes and food were hard getting used to.  But I just don't know if I can call a place home that basically ignores my absolute favorite time of every year.  So yeah, I've been a little depressed.

But, I've been coping.  A few things happened.  Alicia sent me some pumpkin spice coffee creamer!! It has been ten months since I've used any kind of coffee creamer, and so this was an amazing treat.  I actually broke down and cried when I opened the package and saw that familiar Nestle packaging.  Thank you so much, Alicia!  Then today, I got a package from Derik.  He'd included a card, an adorable Trick or Treat gift bag with lots of Reese's and Skittles (two candies Sweden doesn't have) and a pumpkin necklace and bat ring.  Yes, again I broke down and cried.  A lot.  Sometimes you don't realize how homesick you are until you see the things that used to be commonplace to you, and you see how strange they look now.   What a feeling.

I know I'm being a big gloomy loser but of course I want to take the time and thank my friends for being so considerate and looking out for me, and knowing just what I need.  There's more fun stuff planned; a big gang of us are going to a bar/restaurant this weekend with a costume contest--and yes I plan on winning it--and my boss's older kids will be here on Halloween night, and I get to take everyone (four kids total) trick-or-treating.  

I hope by the time all that rolls around I will feel more at home and at peace with the incredibly creepy side of myself that needs ghosts and goblins and all of those things to feel at home. 


Christians, Don't Be An Oprah.

Sometimes I like to use my blog as my personal atheist-ranting soapbox.  This is one of those times.

I hate Oprah Winfrey.  I do, I always have.  I have a Top Three list of people I loathe, and she's only surpassed by Bam Margera.  I forget who number three was, but the point is, I despise Oprah.  I think she's disgusting with her AND YOU GET A CAR AND YOU GET A CAR AND YOU GET A CAR! and spending money in all the wrong places and wearing diamond earrings to an opening of a girl's school in Africa--oh the irony!!! So when I heard the news that she's done up and pissed off the atheist community I was not surprised.

Atheists Want An Apology from Oprah. 

Winfrey asked Nyad: “You told our producers you’re not a God person, but you’re deeply in awe?”
Nyad replied: “Yeah, I’m not a God person. I’m an atheist", prompting Winfrey to question: “But you’re in awe?”
Nyad said: “I don’t understand why anyone would find a contradiction in that.  I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist and weep at the beauty of this universe, and be moved by all of humanity.  So to me, my definition of God is humanity, and is the love of humanity.”

“Well I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder, and the mystery, then that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not the bearded guy in the sky,” she said. 



"I have a blanket"
"But I think that only trucks can have blankets"
"Well but I have a blanket and that's that"
"Well then you're obviously a truck because my definition of truck is right"

DO YOU REALIZE HOW DEMEANING SUCH A STATEMENT IS.  It's not only demeaning as in "you're not allowed to experience the deep wonderful feelings Christians get" but it's also demeaning as in "it's okay, shhhh there there you're really not the bad icky word atheist."  This shit is exactly why atheists go on the media all timid and shy and get backed into a corner and then later have to apologize for their 'hurtful statements'.  Get over it, Oprah and people who agree with Oprah on this.  Atheism is here, it's loud and it's proud and it's beautiful, and just because BOO HOO I DON'T LIKE IT IT HURTS MY HEAD doesn't mean that we're leaving.  In fact, atheists are growing in numbers and more and more come out of the woodwork all the time.  Our children are born atheists until they are indoctrinated by the religion of their parents' choosing.

Being an atheist is, to me, the most beautiful thing a person can be or admit to being because an atheist really truly knows the ephemeral nature of this world and has no hope, no inkling and no false expectations of an incredible second chance.  How strong, how badass is that? And how completely perfect for such strange specks of carbon and dust, to have awareness of themselves and their mortality.  And to go through life NOT depending on a Skydaddy to fix all their problems and listen to all their first world problems while they whisper to him at night. 

When someone tells me they're an atheist, I don't bristle and I don't respond with a sober pause.  That's what every. single. Christian. does.  Whether you know it or not I promise you, that's what you do.  It's kind of like when we say, "Oh, I'm a pedophile."  Same reaction, just more subdued.  Anyway the point here is, I don't react that way.  I know what it feels like to be shunned when that "a" word rolls off the tongue.  I don't ask Christians to dig our awesome way of existing, because I don't care.  I'm just so fucking apathetic I do not care.  What I do ask is for some common fucking decency. 

In other words, acknowledge that atheists exist and aren't mad at God (it'd be like a Christian being mad at ...I don't know, Buddha? Just nonsensical) and aren't just being rebels or murderers or whatever.  Acknowledge that we are here and that we are awesome and that we can experience the same shitty emotions every other motherfucker on this planet does, and I won't be pissed.