9.30.2013

Finland.

A pic-heavy post today!! I have been quiet because I traveled to Finland this weekend.  Henri and I left Stockholm Friday and spent Saturday with his cousin Tomi, and Tomi's girlfriend Julia.  Henri hadn't spent time with his cousin in basically their entire lives, so it was a 'getting to know you' experience for everybody.

My nerves weren't needed (as usual) because Tomi and Julia were both really amazing people.  So sweet and hospitable, I kind of wanted to live there.  (They'd get sick of me blasting soundtrack music at 3am.)  Tomi's similarities to Henri made me think of them as brothers instead of cousins--their birthday is only three days apart too!! Julia spent time in the states so it was great having someone to relate to on American things.  She could even make scrambled eggs!! Hearing the words 'scrambled eggs' is a rare jewel for me, so I was really happy about it.



We explored Helsinki, went to the Finnish National Museum, and later walked their adorable dog and finished with a late, nice dinner.  Sunday we had a drive to Fiskars Village; a sleepy little ADORABLE town known for blacksmithing and the production of tools! (You know those orange scissors you all have? Yep, they're from Fiskars!) Their tourist shops were cute as a button, the kind of place every blogger wants to open. I even got to drink apple cider while looking at pumpkins and smelling a fire...true autumn at its most beautiful.  I really underestimated Finland and now I am so excited to see more of it.

I should have taken more photos, but two boat rides and an entirely new country + new language + getting to know new friends really took precedence over blog photos.  Sorry but that's how it goes.  Anyway, you can still get a sample of what a great weekend it was.  And in other news, no I can't say a single word in Finnish and no I don't think I'll ever learn.  That language is a nightmare.


obligatory "emo ocean" on the way pic










the sauna!!! that's the biggest private sauna I've ever seen!



Have you ever seen a candid pic of yourself and been like 'wtf, do I walk like that?' yeah that was this photo. I was like, whoa, SASSY much?


Isn't Fiskars ADORABLE










Hejdå Helsinki!!!


more emo 'we are on a boat let's look contemplative' photos


Bonus: on the boat back we ran into an Elvis impersonator.  At first I cringed and rolled my eyes as I much prefer young, leather-clad Elvis to spangly Vegas Elvis.  But then he walked by us on his way out and I said "Hi Elvis!" and he did this wink/gun/lip curl as he walked by and I was like AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! So yes, I get starstruck over Finnish Elvis.

I'm still tired from all the ship-riding, and I'm about to zonk out writing this post.  Tomorrow starts October's writing prompts!! I'm so excited!!

9.23.2013

Limerence -- Is It True Love?

Wow, I can't believe I'm going to talk about this in front of however many followers it is now.  Some of you I have known for a long time and come to love...but there will always be barriers when it comes to what I share online, and as most of you know up until recently I haven't shared, well, much of anything other than the spectacular fails and pathetic rants I've had about marriage. We'll leave all that for another day.  Let's talk about limerence.

I only heard the term recently and of course dug my psychology-loving nails into it.  Limerence is hard to define, but only if you haven't felt it.  I guess I'd call it more than infatuation; it's basically lovesickness.  Wikipedia defines it as an "involuntary state of mind resulting from romantic attraction."  Being in love, right? Except limerence is a very intense state of love, one so intense that it can affect you in pretty crazy ways, such as getting a dopamine boost whenever you see a photo of your love (or in psychology terms 'limerent object'.)  That's right, a drug release just from seeing a face.  Sound familiar to anyone?

 Here's the part I can't believe I'm sharing.

For many years now I've suffered from limerence (and yes, I use the term 'suffer' on purpose.  It's not fun to be lovesick.)  And it is with someone I've never even spoken about on this blog or elsewhere on the web.  Someone so secret, we will call him He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.  But since that's too long to type, we can call him Orlando, because Orlando Bloom is his doppelganger.  (I know how to pick them, don't I?)

Orlando and I started off innocently and then I fell off into infatuation.  We had a deep, wonderful friendship throughout the years and at some point he became my limerent object.  I was more pathetic than Ophelia after her father dies and she runs around the castle singing songs.  I was worse than Juliet right before she stabbed herself in the heart. I was bad you guys.  Just take a look at some symptoms: 

-obsessive thinking about the person
-irrationally positive evaluation of their attributes
-longing for reciprocation
-being unnaturally shy around the person
-heart palpitations, nervousness, sweating

In my limerence research there's plenty of evidence that limerence lays 'dormant' for periods and can come surging back after a period of months or even years. That's what happened in my case, too.  I let it lie, fell in love with someone else, moved on, and then the whole relationship was pretty crummy and Orlando and I started talking again.  And wouldn't you know it.  After years of nothing, the fires burned so ridiculously bright I was seeing stars and hearts out my eyes.  Pathetic, I'm telling you.  Totally pathetic.

But I knew it was love, that's the thing.  My god, I would have done anything for Orlando.  A tiny part of me almost still wants to.  I have never felt that feeling with anyone, before or since.  I guess it's not healthy to care that much about someone (or at least who you perceive someone to be, more on that in a minute) but it was something to paint paintings about and write songs about and have hope for....it was some otherworldly experience.  In case you're wondering, we did have romantic encounters, which is why the limerence stayed for so long.  We weren't such a great match in a lot of ways, but there was a lot of chemistry.  So of course that made my brain think yay! We are perfect for each other! Yeah, no.

 Shortly after the latest disappointment with Orlando, I ended up with Henri, aka the best person ever and the person who made me realize what real love actually is (hint: it's not obsessive Shakespearan-sonnet-quoting madness) and I ran across the term limerence and then learned all about it and realized a few things.  One thing limerent people tend to do is ignore reality and make up their own idea of who their 'Orlando' is, and it's often basically Jesus.  Like the best person you could ever imagine, a perfect human.  Even if you recognize their flaws, those flaws are perfect.  That's just what our brains do.  Add that to the hormones that you fire off upon seeing them, talking to them, hearing about them, or even thinking about them, and you've got an actual addiction to something that may or may not be very objectively real. 

This struck me as really sad.  I knew my love wasn't healthy, I knew it would never go anywhere, and I knew that I had been accentuating his good qualities for years but I thought all that was okay because I really did love him.  Love is a good thing to experience, yes, even when it doesn't work out.  Now I was not only faced with the fact that I didn't love this person, but that he wasn't even the person I'd made him out to be. This isn't his fault--if anyone's, it's mine--but just imagine that your husband or boyfriend or guy you're wanting to be with just slowly disintegrates right in front of you and it turns out that he was imaginary and you were making everything up and all the times you had great conversation and all the romantic and intimate moments were just your brain playing tricks on you.

It sucked.  And all this limerence information came to light only a few weeks ago, so this is a pretty new development. The thing is I'm not letting it destroy me, because...why? I have more than I ever thought I could out of life.  One (more) shitty relationship isn't going to be the straw to break the camel's back.  I have Henri.  He makes me incredibly happy and I really, truly love him.  The real kind, not the obsessive chemical-fueled addictive kind.  I'll talk more about the differences in another post maybe, but from being with Henri since January...they're there.

So all in all I'd say I'm pretty lucky.  I escaped limerence with (some) sanity intact and still ended up in the healthiest, happiest, realest relationship I could even imagine with pretty much Prince Endymion.   I almost can feel a sense of relief because Orlando and that whole mess really has disintegrated in front of my eyes.  But I also have to mourn him the same way you'd mourn someone who died.  Because that very large, long-lasting section of my life and heart are just gone forever and that's hard when you "love" someone pretty much a decade. 

So now the philosopher in me wonders, how is limerence different? Lots of marriages and relationships are based on it.  Lots of people feel it and mistake it as love and most will probably never know the difference.  Or if they do, they don't care. It's not like you can shut off limerence and have it go away on purpose.  And I would still argue even now that Orlando was a wonderful in many ways part of my life and he is still a person I would look up to or call upon if I needed help.  He's changed my life in so many positive ways and been a great friend.  So wouldn't that be some form of love in itself?  How much of my experience was real? And the biggest and most cynical question; does it even fucking matter? Why am I worrying about someone my brain apparently makes up to begin with? Can't I just enjoy my relationship and quit whining?

Wow, what a post. I'm done now, I'll just leave it for now.  Congratulations internet world, you know my biggest secret!! (sorta)






9.20.2013

Things I Love about Living in Sweden.

I admit, I was feeling guilty there for awhile (months) for not talking about life in Sweden more often on this blog.  I mention things here and there, and occasionally write the little Facebook tidbit, but it seems like I've largely ignored the glaringly obvious thing an au-pair would write about; life in her new country.

It's just that living somewhere is vastly different from experiencing it on a vacation or seeing everything in the span of a month or something.  At first the new culture is entirely overwhelming and you just feel so alienated you can't make sense of up or down, but then your adjusting happens so gradually you barely notice it.  Then one day you look at a photo of yourself and go, "oh my god, when did I turn into a Swede???"

So I thought it was about time that I made this list, a list which covers all the things that I have come to love and adore about my new country and things which I am going to severely miss when I go back to Utah. 



A Less Bullshit Culture.  I had never noticed just how badly gender stereotypes and stereotypes in general influence American culture.  But I DESPISE it.  Things like men shouldn't cry, girls shouldn't be manly in any way, dads shouldn't push strollers, women shouldn't have a shirt that shows any remote part of their bra (despite how awesome the shirt/dress actually is.)  I remember in America, most guys I dated couldn't even cook and it was like a status symbol to not be able to do those 'womanly' things.  I don't know how to even handle American culture anymore.  I flipped out on Facebook when my sister and her friend were talking about how her son "shouldn't be called beautiful."  WHY THE FUCK NOT, HE IS BEAUTIFUL.  LET'S JUST INGRATE INTO A TODDLER THAT HE CAN'T BE CALLED BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE THAT'S A GIRLY WORD AND THUS BAD.  Ugh whatever. 

Sidenote, there are shared toilets here.  That's right, men and women can use the same bathrooms.  THE HORROR, RIGHT?

Better Food.  Simply put, the food is higher quality.  No more looking at the label and seeing 'high fructose corn syrup' on literally everything from soda to chips to pasta to bread.  It just doesn't exist.  A lot of processed foods as well as chemicals that are allowed by the FDA are banned in the EU, and even fewer are allowed in Swedish lands.  The only thing I'm still crying about is the fact that Starbucks isn't allowed in the country for some reason.  MAMA NEEDS A PUMPKIN LATTE

mmmm c'mere...shhh it's ok......


Less Shittacular Government.   Say what you will, I make it known to everyone that I find the US Government the biggest joke in the entire history of the world.  The NSA/Snowden situation is just the icing on a nasty smelly cake that people are getting diarrhea from eating.  The government actually thinks it has any say at all in peoples' private lives, it spends millions/billions on war and the military, it gives not one single shit about agriculture, preservation, or the actual things it should worry about and instead rabblerabblerabbles on about vaginas and legislating them and a theory called "personhood" and pretending to be two different sects, republican and democrat (which are the same bullshit thing.)   I never thought I would approve of a socialist country but damn if it doesn't work out pretty okay for everyone here.  The system isn't perfect, but nobody gets offended at the word vagina, nobody tries to push for the Bible as a historical and political reference point, and nobody panders to the big corporations---because in Sweden, there ARE no big corporations.  Okay, so there's IKEA.....lol.  In other words the government knows its place, does its job, and otherwise butts out. 

Water From the Tap Won't Kill You.  I swear I won't ever stop talking about this and raving about it.  As a person who grew up with a personal spring where we got water from, the idea that the nasty toxic waste of chemicals that most cities in America call 'water' are even allowed, let alone actually consumed by people.  In Sweden the water is mindblowingly tasty.  And clean.  And you can just drink it straight from the tap.  Talk about fucking luxury. 

There's no Marry/Baby pressure.  I never noticed this either, which is surprising since I lived in Utah, a place notorious for the Mormons and their 'get married at 15 and then make 3284 babies' mentality.  People marry later (in their 30's) and have children later.  There's no stigma for people my age who aren't married, and no stigma for people who choose not to have children either.  Let alone that gay/transgender are treated fairly, can get married legally everywhere, and aren't fired from their jobs or ostracized by family.  In Sweden, in other words, everyone shares my mentality: do what you want, we don't give a shit.  Just try to be decent. 

There's tons more than this, of course, but these are the main differences that I notice and appreciate and have gotten used to and now will have a difficult time readjusting to life without.  Luckily it will only be temporary and I can get back to my open-minded Sweden.  I'll leave out all the other goodies like the superior chocolate, the delicious semlor, and my boss's homemade elderberry syrup.



9.16.2013

Slaka Kyrka // Viking Ghost

I should have written this like a week ago when it happened, but I've been so busy lately and haven't had the time to hardly blog at all.  I am pretty uninspired for the rest of Blogtember's prompts; they're kind of not my thing and so I won't be doing them.  But I WILL be making my own challenge for October, more on that later.

Slaka Kyrka (Slaka Church) is a beautiful old landmark a short bike ride away from where I live in Sweden.  I had only driven past it once but knew it because...well, it stands out.  It's a pink church! Adorable.  I believe there's evidence of the oldest church being there from about the year 1000....which of course as Americans know is older than time itself and cannot possibly be real.   Anyway, since my boss took his car to work with my running shoes in it >:I  I figured, why not take a short bike ride? Off to Slaka I went around 7pm last Monday.

It was dark; the sun was just setting and threw around some light purples and dark blues while I walked around the old building taking pics.  The church is really gorgeous, and the area is nothing but rolling hills and that old Swedish farming land feeling you get.  Very peaceful and serene and lonely. LITTLE DID I KNOW I WASN'T ALONE.  DUN DUN DUNNNNN.  




As I inspected the grounds I ran across two runestones!! These were seated near each other and both dated from 1000.  A pair of brothers erected them for their father.  I was tired from riding my bike mostly uphill the entire way, so I sat down with my back to the small stone and had my legs in the "mermaid" position (knees together, both legs dropped to one side so my left hip was facing upward) and sat there for a few minutes when SOMETHING SQUEEZED MY BUTT.

I jumped up and looked around; nothing.  I assume one of two things: highly unlikely, that I had a weird muscle pull or jerk or something from the workout and laying in that strange position, or two...the HIGHLY LIKELY situation that the ghost of the Viking who'd carved the runestone grabbed my butt.  So there you have it.  I leave you to draw whatever conclusion you'd like.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, but peaceful and charming.  I just love churches and cemeteries.  Creepy witch bonus? On my way back I saw an adorable wonderful little kitty who I stopped and petted and even got a few photos of.  There you have it folks.  Life in Sweden is never boring. 


s

9.09.2013

How I Work. (Myers-Briggs)

I've spoken about being an INFJ before on this blog, but I know that not everyone knows everything about every type (god knows I don't) so I thought I'd take the opportunity to explain a little more about how INFJ's such as myself function.  Keep in mind that just like anything else this is not a concrete guide to a group of people, rather it's how I personally use the "tools" of my type. 

First thing would be intuition:  INFJ's are verrrry intuitive people and I am no exception.  I use intuition for a lot of judgements and it's so second-nature that I don't even think about it anymore.  Others who have known me a long time have been known to tell me about a situation or have me meet a person just to see what "vibe" I get about it. 

My intuition does make meeting new people even more difficult than just being an introvert: they have about 10 seconds from the time I see them, until I make an irreversible decision about them which determines if I even see them as a human being for the rest of their life.  Sometimes I've felt horribly about someone at first, only to feel guilty for being too judgey, give them a chance, and then later regret it when they turn out to be a shithead, liar, etc.  So now I rarely retract my judgements, whether on people, places or situations.

 Another aspect of being an INFJ that I love is feeling.  Man, do we feel.  I feel my way through everything.  For every event I have about ten different simultaneous emotions coursing through my veins.  It's not that I am not rational--I am--but problem-solving and interactions and artwork and everything has emotion at its foundation.  I don't do something unless I feel emotionally motivated about it.  I have no doubt that my intense overdoses of emotion have a lot to do with my depression.  I know that when some people experience depression it's a black void where no emotion, good or bad, roams.  With me, it's like a chronic overload of all the negative emotions ever created.  It's rough.

One of my best qualities (since this is self-love year right?) that is synonymous with INFJ qualities is the way I do treat those very few that I let into my circle.  Despite being an introvert and needing a lot of personal space, I feel very empty and useless unless I am helping my friends and family reach their potential in some way.  I have the ability to talk to people the way they need to be talked to, and I am good at and frequently do, comfort people.  Sometimes I think I'm pretty autistic and my "caring" side comes on a little strong and I hug too hard, but that's usually only after I have been introverted for months and forgot to see anyone then suddenly get lonely.  I can also tell when something is wrong with a friend and will instantly try to help solve problems with them.  So, while I really am apathetic about society and mankind as a whole and have no intention of changing the world, I am very adamant about making sure those I love live the best lives possible, no matter the personal cost.

Here's an excerpt that sums me up:  Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people's opinions. They believe that they're right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don't believe in compromising their ideals.


I don't know if I've ever met another INFJ.   It's hard to tell, for me at least, what others' Myers-Briggs types are.  I'm only familiar with my own, and I've never known someone who has my intuition and extreme wish to be a caretaker while also wishing to live in a dark unreachable cave where I only come out once every three months.  I don't know how things would go with another INFJ; we might drown in a sea of overexaggerated emotions.  I make friends with thinker types, who can ground me with their ration and logic.  My first logical friend was Mr. Spock. 







9.05.2013

That Time I Got Stranded In Sweden. Not On Purpose. With Gifs.

The year was 2009.  I was a derpy little American who had big huge dreams of seeing the land of Sweden and having the best time of my life.  I already loved Sweden, and a vacation there would be paradise.  It would be perfect and nothing could go wrong.  COULD IT?  COULD ITTTTTTTTTT?

Of course it could.

At the tender age of 21 I crossed the Atlantic--TERRIFYING--and came to sunny Scandinavia in July to test the Swedish waters.  I was hesitant.  Things went beautifully.  I met great people and had so many fantastic memories.  I even thought, hey, I might go back there someday! (Irony)




One note before I start this story: I was a small-town girl who was mortified at the idea of doing anything alone.  Airports scared me so much.  I learned during my move to Salt Lake (which involved four airports) to just breathe, take things easy, ask for help if you need it, and not panic.  I used this reasoning all through my Europe plane trips.  

I was no stranger to airports by this time and had even navigated my way through the nightmare that is Charles De-Guille in Paris, but the problem at Arlanda wasn't my navigation.  It was the ticket dispensing machines.  To this day I have noooooooo idea what Delta thought it was doing.  The lines for picking up itineraries were super long.  I wasted too much time trying to get three different kiosks to work.  Nothing. I pushed in my passport and bank code, and it printed out nothing, and then a smeared half-eaten-by-the-printer-once-itinerary.  I didn't know if this would cut it so I went to the Delta desk.

Not good.  The woman looked at my weird paper and then at me and said, "That plane is boarding right now.  They've done last call."


Boy, that rocked my world.  My flight was leaving.  I may have swayed a little.

"Okay so....um...what...do I do?"

"You can book another flight."

".......How much?"

Last minute flight leaving the next day.  2,200.


Okay.  It's okay.  No panic.  Call your bank.  Never mind the fact that you'll be on hold for seven hundred years and your phone bill will skyrocket to about a thousand dollars....just call your bank and explain it to the nice bank people.   So I made my way to the airport computers, pulled up a ticket webpage, and waited for an agent to answer.

"Hello, I'm stranded in Sweden and need to make a large purchase for a ticket home.  I will be overdrafting my account.  Can you please allow this purchase to be made?  I have no other way home."

"Yeah sure b we gahtz u"

So I make the purchase.  Card declined.  Wat.  So I go to my bank webpage, log in.

 ACCESS DENIED YOU HAVE BEEN DENIED ACCESS BASED ON UNUSUAL ACCOUNT ACTIVITY WHICH WE SUSPECT MAY BE FRAUDULENT.  IF THIS IS NOT A MISTAKE PLEASE CALL OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE AT 1 (LOL) UR FUCKED.

"Hi this is me, you know, the stranded in Sweden person.  Yeah my card's on lockdown...."

"Sorry but we are unable to move any funds or take your account off hold until you come into a LOCAL BRANCH. LOCALLLLLLLL BRANNNNNNNCH."


 


I was unable to use my card AT ALL.  I couldn't even use the card to buy food or get a train ticket home.  I was walking calmly and rationally toward a customer service desk when I made a sharp turn into a public restroom, went into the private stall and shut the door and collapsed onto the ground and looked one hundred percent like this:

 

A nice panicked cry made all the difference.  I ended up going to a wonderful, wonderful Swede who worked in customer service and making a call to my Swedish friend, and this gentleman gave me food vouchers and helped me with a train ticket and everything.  He was truly a saint and a shining example of how beautiful people can be.  My work at the time helped me get the ticket home, but that's a whole different story.  

But for a minute there, I was totally lost and confused and felt like I would have to live in a Swedish airport begging for money until I hit enough to buy a ticket home.  It was pretty awful and terrifying. 


I've Heard Some Good Advice.

Maybe the people telling me the advice weren't always the best, or even talking to me (in the sense that ahem Rammstein doesn't play -to me exactly- but I can pretend) but over the years a lot has stuck in my mind.  Since I can't remember everything that everyone taught me I will paraphrase some of the good ones.



From Dad.  Never trust anyone.  Never give anyone money.  Don't go through life creating problems for other people. Learn how to fight, and fight well.  Know your place above thieves, murderers, assholes of the world.  Don't be an idiot. 

From Madi.   Being alone is enriching and a learning experience we can't avoid.  Fuck most people and their stupid standards which are based on nothing important anyway.  None of the answers are probably even answers or real.  Most things are regular old things.  Don't stop being Silas.  Having children is overrated.  Everything's separate, everything's the same. Falling and poop are hilarious and should be laughed at.

From Led Zeppelin.  "So anytime somebody needs you, don't let them down, although it grieves you.  Some day you'll need someone like they do, looking for what you knew. "

From Tobias.  Emotions can be destructive, and when dealing with problems it can be necessary  to distance yourself from how you feel to arrive at a better solution.  Even the most seemingly put-together and confident people may have it hard on the inside and compassion is important.  Tall people are usually clumsy. The more expensive chocolate is always worth it. 

From Alfred Pennyworth.  "Maybe it's time we all start trying to outsmart the truth, and let it have its day." 

From Nairi.  Confidence will come with age, but it's better to have the confidence when you're young so that you can do so much more with it.  It's okay to appreciate animals more than people, and there's no such thing as too much cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake.   

From Derik.  A simple life can be an enriching life and cats, video games, and pecan pie can make a whole weekend fantastic.  Friends are forever and can be bonded closer than family ever tried.  Being a Worley isn't the worst thing ever.  Having a horrific politically incorrect sense of humor may scare off a lot of people but the ones it doesn't are good people.  Faking arguments in public is a good way to gauge how uptight people are around you.

From Charlie Chaplin.  "The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.  Greed has poisoned men's souls...we think too much and feel too little.  More than machinery we need humanity.  More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.  You have the power to make this life a wonderful adventure."

From Henri.  People can change and become entirely different; some peoples' pasts will shock you.  Having a job you enjoy and being in control of your life will inevitably lead you to happiness.  Love your mother (as long as she doesn't suck.)  Being alone is acceptable.  It's important to keep in mind that bad days will happen but they don't have to warp your entire perception of your life.  Turning thirty isn't a horrible disease that will ruin your life.  Coca-cola is the center of the universe. 


Me and the crazy people in my life!!! So who had the best advice?


9.02.2013

About My Parents.

I am super excited to be doing another month of blogging brought to us by Story of My Life.  As with May, I plan on doing only days I want and writing what I want and fuck the police.  So if you don't see 30 neatly planned blog entries, don't say you weren't warned.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to do the first prompt: "Where or what you come from, the people, places, and/or the factors that make up what you are."

Yeah, see? Those who know me can already see my upper lip curling at this prompt.

 

I'd say for me as a person there are a ton of things I've come to terms with really well and it's to the point where it's hard to get under my skin (unless you're me) but one thing I've just never been able to stomach and smile about is where I'm from.  Tennessee. Just that word stirs up all kinds of confusing emotions.  I hate it but I'm proud of it.  I have fond memories there and memories so disturbingly painful they make me cringe just by skimming over their existence.  People who are from there that I love and cherish and people that I despise.  Topping the list of the despising are my parents.  

I thought I would talk about them today.  Every time I talk about my parents it's in this cynical and sarcastic way and by reading my blog you can figure out that they were abusers, but I purposely try to give them no more leeway on my blog or my life than that pitiful amount.  Still, I'm a big girl and I like to write and maybe writing about them now can't hurt me. 

My Mom.  She's easier to start off with because our relationship was less complex.  My mother was the baby of two wealthy Georgians who traveled and loved antiques, each other, and life.  My mother has blond hair and unsettling blue eyes.  She's short--5'3'' the last time we talked--and I inherited some of her looks and her exact same nose.  She was raised in privilege and taught fun things like drumming, rifle throwing, clogging, and who knows what else.  She forced her way into a marriage at 15 and by the age of 16 she was living in Germany with a one year old daughter: my older sister, Amanda.  By 25 she'd had me, and my older brother Danny, and she was living with an alcoholic husband whom she married in jail.  That'd be my dad.

I was never close to my mom.  She never particularly seemed to like me, even when I was small.  I heard a lot that I was a difficult kid, and I wonder how many of my tantrums were caused by her, and how many of my tantrums drove her to hating me.  She always said I reminded her of my dad's other daughter from his previous marriage.  The only part of me I think she loved was the parts of my dad she saw in me.  The only time she ever praised me was when she said "you are just like your Daddy."   She was obsessed with him and extremely overprotective of him, to the point that she abandoned her own family for him at his request, and she lied about his son, my older brother, molesting me, just to get his son kicked out of the house and have more "Rick time" to herself.  

As testament to my mother's concern for my life, her idea of telling me about sex was sending me to my grandmother's house with a xerox'ed copy of a science textbook on the reproductive system.  No warning about periods, no sex talk, no nothing.  

If I could describe my mother in one word it would be manipulative.  She cries crocodile tears, she constantly blames others, and she is a liar about almost anything you ask from her.   She enjoys living life the "hard way" and not taking anything from anyone, except of course money and food stamps and all that other free government care.  Her sour mood paired with her multiple health problems make her a real pain in the ass to be around.  I really believe my mother has a plethora of unaddressed mental issues, like depression.  But, who knows?

From my mother I got my fascination with fantasy and fairy tales, my love of piano, my nose, my want to travel to Europe, and a lot of good qualities that her family produced that somehow skipped over her DNA to mine.  



A pretty recent photo of my dad with my nephew, my sister's son. 


My Dad.  My dad was not from a family of privilege.  He was raised in the backwoods of Tennessee and lived a life of drugs, travel, grueling hard work, and the rest is a mystery.  My dad is a fighter with an explosive temper and an angry face that would honestly make Satan shit his pants out of fear.  He, unlike my mother, showered me with affection when I was young.  I don't know why this is and if he did the same with his other children but it never seemed like they got quite the attention I did.  He taught me to draw.  He taught me gun safety and how to chop wood and the satisfaction one feels after a day of exhausting labor.  

I have never seen my dad cry.  I saw him kill a poisonous snake with a stick once.  I saw him twist a rooster's neck and kill it in a single move.  He's thrown puppies into rivers and stomped one of our dogs until its ribs broke.  He was capable of extreme cruelty and not once have I ever heard or seen a single bit of remorse in his eye.  His advice to me in life was "keep your head down, keep out of trouble, go on about your business."  Yet when unavoidable conflict came up, he urged me to fight and because of him, I fought well.  

My mom wasn't wrong when she said she saw my father in me.  I grew up angry and I grew up with a thirst for power, the same kind of power and freedom that he had.  Nobody told him what to do, he told OTHERS what to do.  He feared nothing and he taught me to be the same way.  I retreat into the forest and sit there with a contemplative look on my face the same way he always did.  My eyes are a weird blueish green like his, and I have his overbite.  He hit me hard and he was far, far more strict on me than anyone else in his life at the time.  He didn't expect that he would teach me a little too well about controlling myself, and once I got of a fighting age, I didn't take his cruel, unfair, abusive ways any longer.  

My dad actually did compliment me sometimes.  He called me smart and strong.  He only called me pretty once.  He didn't want me to read, he disallowed makeup and socializing.  I had to wear boy's clothes to school--his rule--and also couldn't cut my hair any other way than what he dictated. But he did help me with algebra homework and he did teach me the right way to draw a unicorn.   When I think of my Dad I have to remind myself what a bad parent he was and not idealize him lest I turn into another of his victims.  But I would be lying if I said I didn't love him.  He's the most fucked up, insane, least-fatherly-in-a-non-abusive-way guy I could think up, but I do love him.  

From my Dad came my interest in art, my fear of math, my gait, my weird eyes, my love of manual labor, my ability to fight, my anger, my want to be free, my sense of humor, and a long list of mental disorders that still don't trump his. 

Suspension.

Utah had made the transition from life to death relatively easy for all those years; harsh summer sun replaced gradually by cool breezes, fall festivals, back to school sales and plenty of pumpkin latte for me.  Sweden, as usual, is different.

I lazed around the summer house in all its earthy glory for the week after my birthday, hearing nothing but silence and somewhere, a suspended breath on the air.  I learned a long time ago that when you inhale, you can pause and leave your lungs filled for a few tense and oddly blissful moments before exhaling.  Why the season change--or lack thereof--in this country reminds me of a shard of some old yoga class, I have no idea.  But it does.

You can feel it in the people and the community.  The summer has been so strangely short and so agonizingly long that any change would be a welcome one for me, the newcomer, but then I've only survived one tough, black winter and not twenty or thirty.  I may not know what I am in for.  The grass is green and the trees are filled the same as they have been these past few daylight-filled months, but nature, and everyone within, are pausing.  Fall isn't here.  Summer isn't here.  It's a suspension of season.