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!!