020. Unfuck your habitat

Remember how a year ago or something, the whole Unfuck Your Habitat was a Thing? (It’s apparently still a thing, judging from Tumblr, but I had no idea.) I tried a bit back then, but I just couldn’t do it.

To put it plainly I’ve spent the last three or four years living in what could, if you were generous, called a bachelor’s pad, or ‘a spoonless disabled (?) (I will write more about that later) person’s display of inadequacy’, if you want to be less so. And let me just say, I don’t judge other people that harshly, but for myself? Yes. I’ve seen every square meter of this apartment as a way of telling myself how much I suck. I still do, to an extent.

As an example: I don’t do visitors. I don’t open the door if people don’t call first. I prefer not to have people over, period. This space is mine and I love it and I’m ashamed of it at the same time. But during NaNoWriMo I found new ways to procrastinate. Mainly, cleaning. The high of meds that were (are) working played a part too I’m sure, but I started tearing shit apart and putting them back together, and sure, it would’ve been faster to get rid of the visible messes and leave the rest for ‘later’ (or, you know, never), but I’ve tried this a million times. So I went through my desk.

When I was done my desk no longer had four chapsticks (I hate chapstick) in it. I had one functioning hole puncher, not one that worked and one that didn’t. The two years worth (yes, seriously) of bills piled on top got its own binder. I may have gone a bit overboard, actually. But yes. I decluttered. A lot. I threw some stuff away. I put some to be given away. I put some in a box labelled ‘The Big Box of Decluttering’. When I was done I did my closet, and put some stuff in a box that I may or may not give away. And when I was done with that I did the doomiest thing of them all: I attacked my yarn stash.

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I brought my dresser into the bedroom (it had lived in my sewing corner before, filled with fabrics), and moved my book shelf out into the living room. I got rid of small balls of yarn. I bagged up some icky acrylic to give away. I was reminded that I own a spindle and some seriously gorgeous wool. And then I sorted it all into the dresser. So yeah. After doing that I still have a whole dresser full of yarn. Shut up. It’s totally normal.

And because I’m five years ago I then labelled each drawer with owl stickers. In English. I don’t know about that last part. But I knit in English (I seriously need a glossary to decipher knitting patterns in Swedish) so maybe that makes sense.

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I did my sewing corner next, and realised that it’s so much better to keep fabric in tubs like this, because you can fold them so you can see all of them at once. I may have sorted them by colour. I’m planning on stealing another one of those green things from my parents (yay Ikea!) and sort some small stuff in it, but otherwise I’m happy. And yes, that is a cutlery drawer… thing for my thread. Best idea ever. I had one over because once upon a time I lived in an apartment with really tiny kitchen drawers. And I totally own that many buttons and asked for another one just like this for the ones that didn’t fit.

This probably took me about three weeks, because I still don’t have an unlimited amount of spoons available. And I did do stuff like leave my book shelf in the middle of the room for four days. (That’s my TV in the background.)

And seriously? It will probably (definitely) become messy as hell soon again. But when it does I can read this and remember how nice it was to have everything all tidy.

And for reference, things I threw out:

– underwear that fit me 20 kilos ago,
– three year old chapsticks,
– pens with no ink,
– receipts,
– old newspapers,

etc, etc.

Things I put in the big box of decluttering:

– pencils and crayons my grandma gave me after my grandpa died even though I never paint,
– a basket I wove four years ago and hate,
– bracelets I haven’t used for ten years,
– two old ipods (I could possibly sell those),
– a camera that doesn’t work,
– old letters,
– a weird mug with a castle on it,

and a hundred other things. I can probably throw most of it (not the letters) out without missing it, but I can’t let go quite yet.

And wow, this has to be a boring post.

019.

So I did finish NaNoWriMo. Sixth consecutive year, seventh over all. Last year was a struggle and I pretty much hated the book by week 2. This year was a lot easier, once I swapped the tense and points of view around a bit. Once I’ve had a breather and submitted some other stuff I will go back to it because it’s a story I will finish. Once I read a lot of comics and watch a lot of X-Men, that is. Because I still have no idea what I’m doing in regards to the powers these kids have or how they even work.

Yep. I’m writing superpowers. ME. It’s really different, but fun. Lots of fun.

Another good thing: I feel well enough to actually do things like cleaning for Christmas, thinking about baking cookies and saffron buns and making my own Christmas cards. Last year I couldn’t even be bothered to put up the tree. This year I’m buying decorations. I may run out of spoons and not do half the stuff I have planned, but but just thinking about doing these things and not freak out from the pressure is weird. Good weird, but weird all the same. Basically: I think the meds are working. I’m tentative in the whole NOW I’M HEALTHY AGAIN HOORAY thing because I don’t trust my body enough to believe that this is it, but even small steps like this is exciting. Which I guess tells you a lot about the last few years in Kaialand.

Finally, a few pictures…

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They can be summed up as: hand knits are awesome, I love my sewing corner, I do all my typing with my hands sticking out under my cats belly and I don’t recommend living through the biggest snow storm in years with a window that doesn’t close. Also, it’s advent.

018. Hummus.

This one is for Jenn because she needs a good hummus recipe and I can’t find mine online anywhere. I think I got it from the Post Punk Kitchen years ago but it’s gone so I might be wrong. I never buy hummus because it’s always too spicy or garlicky, but I am a huge wimp when it comes to that stuff so your mileage may wary.

0.5 onion (or a whole one if it’s small)
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes
a can of chickpeas
1 hot pepper or if you like me is supremely lazy, just up the spices
spices (cayenne, chili powder, cumin – the original recipe said coriander and garam masala too but I never do that)
1 tbsp lemon juice if you want (I don’t)

Chop the onion, sautee until translucent. Add the garlic, sautee a bit more. Then add chopped tomatoes and after a minute or so all other ingredients. You will Puree it with your handheld mixer or, if you unlike me don’t mind cleaning your food processor (I hate hate hate doing that) do it in that. It gets a bit smoother that way. You will probably have to add a bit of water to get the consistency right, so if you feel fancy, save some of the liquid from the chickpeas to add instead, but I usually don’t bother. Because, lazy.

It’s the best eaten hot. I always eat it with carrot sticks because I can’t really be bothered tracking down gluten free pita bread (this recipe really shows how lazy I am, doesn’t it?), but I think that would be yummy too.

017. NaNoWriMo, day 19.

32132 / 52500 (61.20%)

I went to the library after my doctor’s appointment today (which I had to ask for a bill for because I didn’t have the 300 SEK – that’s about 40 USD – that it cost), and wrote for two hours. You would think that I would get my words done in that time but because I’m insane I started restructuring things and swapping POVs around so that took most of that time. I do like it better now, though, so that’s good. I attempt to write books in different styles, tenses and such, but I seem to always end up with first person, present tense and a multitude of narrators. I guess it’s just my thing.

I’m also reading this book called Makalösa kvinnor which is Swedish for ‘Exceptional women’, except make (male) or maka (female) also means spouse, and lös also means ‘loose’ or, in this context, ‘-less’. As in ‘spouseless’, which isn’t a word in English, I know, but it’s really not one in Swedish either. ANYWAY. It’s about women transgressing gender barriers in history, and there’s a number of essays, most which are really interesting. One of them talks about how in the 16th-17th century there were a range of genders; male, female and ‘other’, although ‘other’ also had a range within itself. You could go to a midwife and get a paper confirming your sex, and there was at least one (biological) woman who did it and was proven to be male after the midwife glanced at the bulge in her pants. Which I assume she’d stuffed with something. And no, her employer didn’t see anything weird in his employee suddenly showing paperwork about being a dude, because people had already been gossiping that she was (and I quote, I hate this word) a hermaphrodite. You know. Since she wore men’s clothing on occasion.

There was one woman who was executed for this, and the verdict specified that she had to wear men’s clothing and a woman’s headscarf as she was beheaded. Further back there were women who were similarly executed, but it was done by hanging, because that was a ‘male’ way of doing it, while beheading and so on was more a women’s crime type thing. I’m not sure if this was done to shame them further or what, but it seems a bit odd, since it’s basically confirming their status as men. But then again, I am not a historian. At all. There might be Reasons I don’t really get.

I was also amused by the amount of women who married these women-pretending-to-be-men and when they were found out they just flat out said that no, they had no idea. Sex? Oh no they just weren’t into that. And the courts usually accepted it without further questioning, probably because the idea of women sleeping with women was a bit uncomfortable, to say the least, and they just didn’t want to poke around in it. The thing that’s sad about many of these stories is that most of them end with the person in question falling in love with a (biological) man, marrying him and going back to being ‘a proper woman’. Mysteriously they suddenly become really into female type activities too, even if they previous were really bad at and/or hated sewing and such.

And yes, this might just be research for a certain anthology. I didn’t mean to do so much reading on the topic, but once I got started it was hard to stop.

016. NaNoWriMo, day 12. And muffins.

20875 / 52500 (39.76%)

I’m doing decently with NaNoWriMo. And yes, my wordcount is 52,500 rather than 50,000. It turns out the short story I wrote to get myself familiar with the universe didn’t want to be a short story. It wanted to be a first chapter. So yeah. Extra words needed.

Now that my meds are (mostly) working I am trying to actually remember how to be functional. After spending most of the year hiding under the covers because I had no medication that worked and couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment, that’s really hard. I’m just not used to it. The schedule I posted about last time is going so-so – I’m definitely not going for walks every single day, and I never “work” for four hours in a day. Ever. But I try to do a couple of hours and it’s sort of working. Even if I still go to bed at 3 am more often than not because my tragically CST timezone afflicted friend never gets home from work before 1 am my time. But you know, it really doesn’t matter when I do my sleeping. If my goal for the day is to cook something, do some dishes, and write for two hours because that’s all I have spoons for, why does it have to be at 9 am? (It doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.)

As far as food goes, today I made these using this recipe. The flours used was about 150 grams random gluten free flour mix (this one had whole oats sprinkled into it, which was weird but very yum), 50 grams buckwheat flour and only 30 ickle grams almond flour, since the latter is so expensive that buying it makes me want to cry. It makes really good food though. I used three medium eggs instead of two large and about 400 grams of bananas. Aaaand the magic ingredient (as it turned out) was to replace half of the walnuts with dark chocolate chips.

(This is all notes for when I make this recipe again, #sorrynotsorry.)

And as it’s 3:06 am I suppose I’m past my bedtime. So if you’ll excuse me, I will congratulate myself for having the energy to both cook, clean out the fridge, do dishes, bake and write 2500 words in one day by creeping to bed. And hopefully using all those spoons today won’t leave me at a shortage for the next three days.

Fingers crossed, etc.

015.

In an attempt to dig myself out of this pit of general despair I’ve lived in for the last year and a bit I have made myself a schedule. Because seriously, I can’t expect my antidepressants to work when I don’t help them along even a little. The fact that they start with 11 am: Wake up and Noon: Get out of bed probably paints a pretty accurate picture of how I’m doing. I have scheduled in two two hour blocks of “work” (writing), one in the early afternoon and one in the evening, with DINNER and a WALK in between. And yes, those caps are needed. I really don’t do much in the way of eating or exercising if I don’t schedule it, sorry to say. Last week (the first week) I managed one walk/run (starting couch to 5k over again), and cooked dinner twice. I worked for two hours about three days that week. So it’s not perfect or anything, but it’s a start and that’s the most important thing.

The run I did do was lovely, even if I didn’t get out of the house until after dark (around 6 pm) so I had to take the track with proper lighting, rather than my favourite, which isn’t lined with street lamps. The last two intervals were awful, but the rest were okay, which was surprising, seeing as it’s about a year and a half since I last did any sort of exercise. A bit ironic, starting out running when it’s almost November, having missed out all of summer, which was gorgeous, with amazing weather and the sun setting super late.

I need to ramble about a bunch of new music I’ve discovered, and also the apples up there are from my parents’ garden and I could eat them all in a day. But I’m trying to be good. I see some apple muffins in my future, that much is for sure.

014.

I have so many half finished thoughts right now, and I end up not blogging and not tweeting because they’re not finished, and it is a bit annoying, having all those not quite formulated thoughts hanging around. So here’s a few of them.

1. When I heard about Downton Abbey and the awesome plot (twist would be generous) they added in to spice things up a bit I raged a bit, and then I realised that mainstream media and people who don’t do genre have the same reaction to this as we’ve had about fantasy and the random rape just to show… something… for years. I don’t watch it anymore (I rage quit after Sybill died), but it was interesting, I thought, to see people who aren’t aware that this is a Thing and a conversation that has been had for years, react to it.

2. One thing I’ve realised that people don’t get is that it takes spoons just to get up in the morning, to go somewhere and talk to people even if you don’t really do anything. I’m (probably) going to start a rehab type program soon, and made clear that I won’t participate every single day because I don’t function on that level. To which I got this long explanation that I don’t have to actually perform if I’m having a bad day, and can just take a walk with the dog on the farm or whatever. Which. Yes. It misses the point. So hard. I do look forward to starting this because it sounds fun and more giving than some programs I’ve attended, but that annoyed me a bit. Just getting up earlyish in the morning, eat breakfast, go somewhere, chat with people and be vaguely social is a lot of work. It might not sound like it, but it so is.

3. NaNoWriMo in two weeks. Not prepared. At all. I have a vague idea about superpowered teens, but that’s basically it. I’ve struggled with my writing all year and what used to be easy (remember the year I hit 50k in two weeks?) I’m dreading a bit. I refuse to break my streak though, so I’m pushing through. I’m determined. And as usual I wish there was a NaNo group in the smaller Swedish towns.

4. I need to read Untold. I have it here and I’ve been meaning to, but I just… haven’t. Hoping to do some writing and then do that. Wish me luck.

013.

I’ve had “write a damn blog post” on my to-do list for over a week. I used to blog a lot, but I just don’t have the inspiration or strength to do much which makes my inspiration to write equally meh. At least in blog format. I just don’t know how to do that anymore, as my Twitter and blog presence can attest to. But I’ll give it a shot.

Good things right now:

– It’s less than a week until Premier League starts, and about amount until the NHL pre-season.

– I am not going to World Fantasy Con this year (sadface), but I’m planning on saving my money and make a trip to either London or Scotland next year. I will meet up with friends and talk lots of English and have Swedish sound weirdly melodic when I return. I’m already excited about it.

– Knitting with beads!

– Writing all the writey things. I haven’t had the energy or inspiration, but I have Scrivener open for the first time in a million years today. I can do this. Oh yes I can.

– Doctor’s appointment next month. Seven months of waiting and calling later. Let’s not get me started on the fact that me calling them for oh six of those months had no effect whatsoever, but a referral from a doctor TO THE CLINIC I ALREADY GO TO gave me an appointment to a nurse, who noted that none of the people I’d spoken to on the phone had noted down that I had called or even wanted an appointment. Said nurse then got me this appointment. It’s fucking ridiculous, but I have it and I hope it will lead somewhere.

And I might’ve spent most of it depressed with zero energy, but on these pictures my summer looks pretty sweet (and it was):

Behold the 90s! (It was a theme party.)

Socialising the Jonsson way.

I’m really not as short as I look.

For someone who doesn’t like Doctor Who my brother suits up the right way.

Taking my ‘meat and potatoes’ family to a Japanese restaurant was fun.

My sister graduated wearing this! She’s now a R.N.

Midsummer.

Rainy Midsummer!

Struggles.

A cat, a leash and a book. (Lirael by Garth Nix, btw.)

The best thing about my parents’ garden.

Their cat also has his own seat at the table. Yes, really.

I found my new favourite writing spot.

The view from my grandma’s verandah.

012. Queers Dig Time Lords (again)

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So I’ve been too lazy to blog about Queers Dig Time Lords, the book I have an essay in that came out two days ago. Blame the depression. It’s what I do. This morning (cough 1:30 pm) I woke up feeling awful (oh woe is me) and not only because the Penguins are 3-0 down in games in the playoffs what is wrong with you the Bruins suck get yourself together I can’t go on if you let MARCHAND go to the finals you jerks and I spent all night watching them lose in second overtime, but you’ve heard all the rest before, so let’s not even go there. But then! Then I went on Twitter and was linked to this review and I know keysmashing is strictly a Tumblr thing and definitely nothing you should post in your offically officalest of official blogs which isn’t all that official since all I write about is depression, books and muffins, but aökdfafdaöhdfadhfa!!!! (The same goes for multiple exclamation marks, doesn’t it?)

For posterity and also because it makes me feel good, let’s blockquote it:

The most moving section of the book is by Kaia Landelius. In “Spoilers: A Letter to Myself: Age 16”, Landelius writes a beautiful letter to her younger self. The message is one of hope. She explains that no matter how difficult things seem and how confused she is, not to worry. One day she will find the Doctor and all of his wonderful companions which will put everything into perspective. This contribution struck a chord as no matter what your sexual orientation, all Whovians who find the show later in life wish they would have had it sooner to help make sense out of growing up.

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I love how just reading the table of contents is an amazing exercise because the titles of the essays are just so brilliant. I’m sure the essays are just as awesome, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to read the book yet. The few times I’ve been published I’ve simply let the book sit on my coffee table for months, sort of circling around it like it’s something really scary, because I’m a ridiculous person. This time I hope to get that down to a few weeks because they all sound brilliant.

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And finally, the first page of my article. Because I want to, that’s why. It wasn’t quite a police phone box, by the way, but close enough.

After writing that last paragraph I actually went and checked whether it could’ve been a proper one and yes! I think it actually is one. Probably not in use but in the words of Wikipedia:

Some have been converted into High Street coffee bars. These are common in Edinburgh, though the City also has dozens that remain untouched — most in various states of disrepair. Edinburgh’s boxes are relatively large, and are of a rectangular plan, with a design by Ebenezer James MacRae, who was inspired by the city’s abundance of neoclassical architecture.

So that’s pretty cool.

011. tl;dr, basically depression sucks

Three weeks ago I started writing a post about my depression and anxiety. It was very personal and very… well, depressive. I didn’t finish it, because I figured that I just had a bad day, no need to be dramatic. I was mostly wrong. I have a lot of bad days lately. Yesterday I woke up at 4 pm, had a muffin for breakfast/lunch/dinner and spent the whole day online. Today is better. I even managed to cook myself a meal.

But I have been thinking. I’ve been thinking about what depression is, how it affects me, how much I hide and wave off, how much I pretend to be ‘normal’. I do less of it these days than I used to simply because I feel so awful that most of the time it’s impossible to hide. But when I can I still pretend, and there’s something so sad about that. I keep coming across articles and blog posts that could be about me – that feels like the posts I would be writing if writing wasn’t so hard.

I’m going to quote a bit because I’m not put together to use my own words, I guess.

DEPRESSIONTWO45

(Source)

If I’d known thirteen years ago, when I went on meds for the first time, that I would still have days like these I don’t know what I would’ve done, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. That post, by the way, is so true. All the way down to the I don’t want to DIE, I just want to become dead somehow image. I’ve felt like that a lot of times. I’m obviously happy I was always too apathetic to go anywhere even resembling self-destruction, but yeah. Been there. Felt that way. (I don’t right now, btw.)

***

I have a serious addiction to xojane, and can sit there for hours and read ‘it happened to me’ articles. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and read this magazine filled with short stories, most of a (heterosexually) romantic nature. It had a section of short articles/stories written by readers, based on their own lives. (The 200 SEK I got for writing one and getting it published was the first paid writing I did. I was fourteen.) The ‘it happened to me’ section on xojane feels like that.

Last night at 3 am when I just couldn’t bring myself to go to bed because sleeping means you’re going to wake up and being awake is THE WORST right now, I found this article by s.e. smith (yes, it’s supposed to be without caps) about hiding mental illness. And ouch.

“You don’t seem crazy,” people say about fronters. Or “your mental illness must not be that bad.”

We are rewarded for hiding ourselves. We become the poster children for “productive” mentally ill people, because we are so organized and together. The fact that we can function, at great cost to ourselves, is used to beat up the people who cannot function.

Because unlike the people who cannot front, or who fronted too hard and fell off the cliff, we are able to “keep it together,” whatever it takes.

Ferocious organization and minute to minute daily scheduling are how I deal with it, forcing myself to go and go and go until I crash at night. Because if I stop, for a second, everything starts to fall apart. And some days I wake up and realize that I just cannot go.

And I don’t want to tell anyone, because that cracks the facade and alerts everyone to the fact that I am fronting. I know my fellow fronters when I see them and we nod at each other, aware that behind every light-hearted Tweet and friendly email may lie acute emotions, stuffed down deep inside so they doesn’t explode.

It leaves you raw and prickly a lot of time because you spend so much energy controlling and suppressing that when something disrupts you, you are totally unequipped to handle it.

That’s a too long quote from that article. It was a little painful to read it, because I used to be like that. I used to be able to front. I’m not anymore. And I hate myself for it. But thanks to s.e., I guess, for putting words to it.

***

And then I read a post about being ashamed about one’s illness, about being ashamed about things like not being able to clean your own house, and I related to it, I relate to it so so so so much. The person who wrote this has some kind of a physical illness, I don’t know what, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I recognise myself in every single word. Especially this part (translation below):

för det jag vill ha är inte någon som ser på mig med frågetecken i sina sympati-ögon, jag vill för fan inte att någon säger “det blir bättre, imorgon är en annan dag!” för även om imorgon är en annan dag är min kropp densamma och det här är mitt liv, det kommer alltid vara såhär, det jag vill ha är någon som tittar på mig och faktiskt ser. att jag försöker men att det inte räcker, att jag kämpar i ett krig med slag jag nästan aldrig vinner och jag vill att någon ska vara stolt över att jag ändå gör det, att jag ändå krigar och jag vill att någon ska förstå dom dagar det inte går, jag vill det men mest av allt behöver jag det, jag behöver det så oerhört fruktansvärt mycket)

***

because what i want isn’t someone who looks at me with question marks in their sympathetic eyes, i don’t want anyone to fucking say “it’ll get better, tomorrow is another (different?) day” because even if tomorrow is another day my body is the same and this is my life, it will always be this way, what i want is someone who looks at me and sees that i try but it’s not enough, that i fight in a war with battles i almost never win and i want someone to be proud that i’ still doing it, that i’m still fighting and i want someone to understand the days i just can’t, i want that but most of all i need it, i need it so terribly much.

I don’t now if “tomorrow is another day” works in English or if I just did a terrible direct translation, but you get the gist.

And no, maybe I won’t always be depressed, and yes, I do have days that are okay, when I can laugh and last week I sat in my parents gazebo and the weather was nice and it felt so good, but yesterday I couldn’t think of a single reason to not sleep away the day, and I think that I will always be like that sometimes. Even if I get well enough, stable enough, to work around all that, to feel that dreaded “normal”, I can and will always relapse. Always. And that’s me being realistic, nothing else.

***

But there are a few good things. Some stuff that I like right now, that makes things better:

1. This tweet.
2. Hockey. Pittsburgh Penguins, to be specific. Please don’t break my heart.
3. Sad music. Including the new Indelicates album.
4. The music C. sent me. That I made an awesome playlist from.
4. Discovering mug cakes.
5. The fact that I had energy to cook today. Even if I had to lie down twice to manage it.