The scratches beneath 505 were deep. Edward stared at them. His weight floated around as his feet shifted on the gelatinous hallway carpet and gave him the sense of being woozily carried along on some tedious voyage out in the middle of a hot ocean, pulled by a mundane current in endless circles around the equator. He wondered if he could have dug those scratches in the solid, dark mahogany. With his fingernails, or with his teeth, or his room key. He wondered if she had made any gouges after he locked her inside of room 505. If she had the strength left. The tall dark receptionist with the big happy face had a trace of concern in his eyes as he called out a greeting in a horrible caricature of sincerity. His name tag said Stewart. Stewart had seemed on the verge of accosting Edward further. But that was probably because of the big purplish blue bruise covering most of the left side of Edward's face and his torn shirt collar. Stewart couldn't have been aware of what happened. The hotel was a happy little microcosm of shoeboxes for him. He didn't worry about what the shoes were doing once he closed the lid. Not for his sorry wages. “Fucking savages in this town, my man. What's an honest fella to do?” Edward had said with a shrug of his shoulders as he walked by. Florescent lights made 4:17 AM repulsively awake as Edward's eyes continued to probe the scratches. He swivelled his head slightly to the left and leaned in. There might have been the sound of shuffling leaking through the scratches. The sound of something limp and broken being dragged painstakingly across a carpet. There might have been the sound of the air conditioner grumbling in quietly dejected tones. Edward knew better than to believe anything was true. Every utterance she ever made had been a lie. What else could he have done. Edward jerked back when a door slammed somewhere overhead. But his eyes stayed fixed. Those scratches reminded him of things. He didn't know whether to fill them in or dig them deeper. He could see her in the ruined state he left her in. His imagination dragged her into that familiar pose, lying on her side with her hands between her thighs. And that smile. A smile that had made him crumble. That made him give it all away. But it had become leering and grotesque. Edward thought he had done the thing finished, but halfway to the next city he realized he had to go back. He had gone in this deep. He had to fix it up right, or break it all the way. It had always been like that. He caught the odor of stale beer which triggered the memory of a scene in a similar depth of night from when he was seventeen, standing in the hallway of his father's home, staring at the folds of flesh in the old man's forehead as he fixed a stare back with his shoulders hunched forward and balding head beat red and vibrating. That time Edward had broken it all the way. And he wasn't sorry. The situation called for it. He wondered why these situations had a way of finding him. The whimper from behind 505 was fleeting but unmistakable. Footsteps began ringing up from the stairwell and down the corridor. Edward had his idea. In one smooth and determined motion he pulled out the key to room 505, opened the door and slipped inside. And finally tore his eyes away from the scratches.
torsdagen den 17:e april 2008
You probably mean well
in your own twisted way
Believing it’s all just the game
that everyone plays
Turning me up
with words you don’t mean
Smiling so wide
then losing your steam
It took you a while
to get into my head
And when finally you did
you turned and you fled
In the macabre corners of night
when the noise disappears
When there’s only the ticking
of disconsolate years
I hope red raging devils tear through your thin veins
And bore deep inside of your many glass panes
Rending and tearing till the juices are flowing
And you twist and you moan and your sanity’s going
Since there’s nothing to lose
I’m just gonna say it
You're pathetic and hollow
an assailant, a sadist
You’re much less than human
no you’ll never deserve
A place in that fine company
with your fire interred
They call you an angel
the ones who can’t see
You’re the sweetest on Earth
and nothing beneath
It’s safe on the level
nothing ventured or gained
When you hear these harsh words
my dissecting your name
I hope you become a red devil and show me your rage
And melt all the glass in the heat of your flames
Rending and tearing your walls till they’re dust
Letting everything touch you no matter the cost
It ain’t in you to change
your future’s the same as your past
But I know I have
I know I have
onsdagen den 5:e mars 2008
It’s odd writing down lines that I thought of earlier and decided were necessary to spell out. It’s like I’m cheating any potential readers by making it seem like these thoughts pouring out are spontaneous – living and breathing right now. It’s like I’m cheating myself by scribbling down old rusty thoughts (thoughts take mere moments to decay) instead of letting them become new ones – living and breathing right now.
But that wasn’t the train of thought I scrolled down this Word document I was working on here at the office to write down. That was a new one. What has been on my mind this morning is that yet again I’ve let any kind of my own personal writing slip when I’ve been shown over and over that I need it to stay balanced. Why is it so fucking easy to forget? This here, just letting my fingers string thoughts in disarray into solid words, is not a chore. It’s cathartic. And it always helps. And when I’m pacing across my floor, pulling my hair, aching for some release, I always forget it is an option. I wish I had it in me to be an addict.
Already I’ve wandered away from the computer, feeling better with things, and lost the drive to keep writing. Even though I most definitely know that there are muddled things in my brain that need an out, and need this place where I’m free to let them loose. Talking it out with folks is great, but restricted in many ways. And as I delete the line I really wanted to write because it was too open, because it made myself too vulnerable to any eyes straying this way, the restrictions of this space become evident. Words can only do so much, anyway. Coax it along...
Fuck me my neck is tense today. I woke up feeling as though things were lighter, but my body seems to still be drawing inwards. Maybe it’s just a sort of stress hangover. But the truth is more obvious: I just slept on it funny, it doesn’t mean anything. I’m thinking too hard again. Fuck Occam and his stupid fucking razor. I want my irrational justification today.
Much of the day has passed. My neck feels better. But the stress bubbles are returning. The project I'm working on is frustrating. Thinking about too many parts at once, can’t seem to get focused down onto one thing. But this is what I get paid for, to create something good out of difficult circumstances, within a small box. It would help if I had more confidence. Maybe this isn’t the smartest career path for someone so sensitive, so self-critical, so incapable of selling himself. Oh well, back to it go I.
I should really do this stream-of-consciousness thing every day. It calms me. Helps me with perspective. Makes me less insane. What does it matter if anyone finds this worth reading. It had fallen by the wayside anyway.
(paragraph deleted - search private vaults for missing excerpt)
Night’s fallen, feeling worn out. Like I’ve been through a great deal, climbed a mountain or two. Weird body I have. Or brain I suppose, whichever bit controls tiredness. Guess I do have more confronting me than usual, it does wear on a bloke. But good things are happening. Just need to crawl through some more rubbish and I’ll move on to a whole new shift in my life, I know it’s coming now. It keeps coming. Overhauled over and over again has my life been the last year. It’s been a long year. My longest perhaps, with a plethora of landmarks of all shapes and sizes. Landmarks show the passing of time, time drifts by seamlessly when the landscape flattens out and you drive along at the speed limit. Some people may want that. I want valleys and mountains and plunges and hair-raising leaps through empty air. Even if it leaves me inexplicably exhausted.
God my writing is rubbish right now. Until next time then, dear readers. Whatever next time brings.
lördagen den 2:e februari 2008
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark, now glittering, now reflecting gloom
Now lending splendor, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters-with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap forever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
måndagen den 31:e december 2007
But I am also eager for it, because I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Those of us that tend to be a wee bit reflective go into reflectivity hyperdrive today. To help break my reflections into bite-size chunks for the sake of your digestive system, I’ve asked Thomas Hardy and his poem on the end of a year (erhm, well, the end of the 19th century, but still) titled: "The Darkling Thrush" for their help.
I’ve gotten a lot of help this year.
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
A great ending began the year. She was gone, and all the trappings that follow. The apartment, the family, most of the mutual friends, comfort, security, support…vanished. An epoch of my life gone as suddenly as it came. The decision to come to Sweden in the first place thrown into question: had it all been a waste of time? And the major decision that was to set all of the events of this past year into motion: to stay or go? A major question to set up a year of perpetual major questions and decisions.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
And so I chose to stay. Mostly because the feeling of walking away was too hard to bear, that thought of throwing away everything I had spent a year scraping together. Two friends down south took me in for a little while to give me time to make this decision (which I am deeply grateful for), and two friends in town gave me a place to stay until I could get myself together (which was more influential for my life than they’ll ever know). But this was, perhaps, the most awful period of my life. I finally reached out and started the internship with the company whose name had been in the back of my mind since before I moved to Sweden, and started the weekend-job-which-must-not-be-named on top of it. A lot of work. Not a lot of money. Alone. Far from home. No place of my own. And when I found a room to rent, it only got worse.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
For ten months there was no place I felt comfortable. Beyond the life-altering decisions I was faced with and emotional strain of adjusting to being alone in a foreign land, there was an apartment and roommate waiting that I simply avoided as much as possible. I spent a lot of time wandering those days. Again, my saving grace was my friends. An old one that happened to live next door, and new ones found along the way. Still, things slid down and down. And as the resentment of my life and of this country built to an intolerable pitch, just as I decided it was time to cut my losses and get the fuck out of Dodge because I had no idea anymore why I was struggling to make a life in this place that I had lost all hope for, the breaks came. My own place. No more weekend job. And then I slowly began remembering why I decided to stay at the beginning of the year and give this life a chance. I never realized how long it would take for things to come together (if my hours in Sweden were a förening, that would be their motto), but they were finally getting there.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
Which isn’t to say the year ended on a resoundingly positive note, or that there isn’t a long way yet to go. Certain seedy things happened as 2007 drew to a close that put a damper on any progress, and the question of where I really want to be in this world still burns inside me. But in retrospect, it is nice to at least not feel as utterly crippled and desperate as I did at the turn of 2006. Despite having lost my hair and feeling as though I’ve aged a great deal.
On reflection, I am struck by how this most difficult of years has been neatly framed, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Maybe I am predisposed to see things in that context. Maybe we all are.
But I am inherently distrustful of arbitrary turning points, so herein I lay down no resolutions. I have too many that never sleep already. One in particular is very angry with me. I hope I can appease it in the coming year. But as I’ve learned, simply hoping for things is an utterly masturbatory affair. I’m too old for that now. Time to put up. Or shut up.
Yet somehow hope is the most important thing of all. It kept me here. And when it went away I was ready to go with it. And when it came back things changed all over again. So I leave the final thought of 2007 a hopeful one to help brace ourselves for the trials lurking ahead.
From "In Memoriam" by Lord Tennyson
måndagen den 24:e december 2007
I really wonder what some of these people were thinking when they named their towns. 'Hey, we've gotten 364 people in this town! That's almost a whole country! Let's call our town Sweden!' That is the actual population of Sweden, Maine, by the way.
But, in the spirit of holiday cheer, I shall cease whining and leave you with a list of the Top Ten Redeeming Aspects of Jason's Trip To Maine Thus Far.
1. Spending time with family and old friends
2. Being reminded of the reality of America
3. Two Swedish pen-pals
4. Experiencing winter in the foothills again
5. Driving my old car
6. Picking up my new computer which is bara jävla skönt
7. Not having to cook or clean for 3 weeks
8. Dunkin Donuts and American pizza joints
9. Watching Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett play together
10. Really seeing for the first time that my hometown is kind of beautiful
onsdagen den 19:e december 2007
Where does one begin...deep down. Facing it is the key to getting through it, they say. Conrad says. A man much greater than me. Not even a native English speaker but wrote a narrative that makes me shudder in utter inferiority.
And some people say learning other languages destroys your ability to write well.
I need to start writing again. I feel too awful when I don't, and everything gets fucked from there. Vicious cycle and all that.
But this shouldn't be so hard, being home, even though it doesn't feel at all like home and never really did. I had forgotten that. It's poison when things get Romantisized with distance.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder and familiarity breeds contempt.
And blending cliches does not a great writer make. Why does this place make me feel like such a failure? Make me feel like a naive child, even after everything...Why don't I have anyone to say these things to in this place but resort to telling them here, to no one, black and white on the screen which is a terrible thing because out loud they have color. On this sheet they just sit there, pretending to be true. Nothing that sits unchanging and unchallenged can ever be true. How unamerican of me to say that, with all of our great, fundamental truths.
Draft me now. Straighten me out. Simplify my language.
Take away the stress of the unknown and self-scouring.
I never accomplished anything worth writing home about until I left. And being here makes me feel like those things that happened far away from here weren't real. So I feel like a failure who just keeps getting older.
I jokingly said to someone before I left that I would go home only to be met with all the reasons I left in the first place. I don't know why I thought it was funny at the time.
And I wonder who will read this, and wonder if it isn't going to cross the eyes of certain people I'd rather it not. But sometimes these things just need an out. Even if there is no response. Even if I still feel alone in the end. Even just to see how absurd my thoughts are.
Especially that last one.
Sure there are lots of details of this and that which has happened over the last days. If you feel so inclined, ask away. I find those details too fucking boring to put down in writing right now.
Just breathe, man. You've stopped breathing...
torsdagen den 22:e november 2007
I really don't.
Which makes me something of a bastard. I've had some good luck the last weeks. Things could have gone considerably worse. And on this most thankfulilicious day of all days, I just feel let down.
I guess it's been a stressful day. A 'hey you do this then do that and while you're at do this too' kind of day. Even going to a party with Timbuk didn't cheer me up much. Because it was such a jävla Möllan party. Fuck fucking Möllan. Winge winge fucking winge.
Challenge is great. I want to be challenged. I don't want things to be easy. It just wears me out that everything has been a challenge the last year. Everything. With no affection of any kind. I've been making strides forward, but these last days I feel like I've been launched years backwards. I know everything can change in an instant. I've had several of those instants the past couple months. I wasn't even looking for them. Now I'm aching for one.
In my last post I claimed that I didn't put myself out there just to complain, and here I am wasting this space away with my inane ramblings. But it's the one day a year when it's allowed.
Big ups to Squanto.
måndagen den 12:e november 2007
The last two weeks many things have changed. I haven't handled it particularly well. Which is odd, since things have all been changing for the better: breathtakingly better living situation, finally getting established at my real job and getting rid of the unspeakable one. Yet somehow I've managed to feel even more stressed and lost than usual. I've avoided writing in this green space because it would have been nothing but inane rambling and complaining, and I don't like to put myself out there if it's only to winge with nothing insightful to add.
But amongst the many footfalls back and forth across this shiny wooden floor, I think I figured out what has been mind-fucking me.
Adversity is simple. You have a problem. You work to change it. The unknown is complicated. You have an open-ended situation. You don't know what you're working toward. You go batshit insane.
I knew what I had to do before. I had to fix the very apparent problems at hand. Now they are (mostly) fixed. Or at least significantly eased. Now the epoch of my life where it was simply a struggle to get by, to get my life together, to put my head down and just get through it has passed. Now I have no focus, and have suddenly realized how lonely life can be here, and have to deal in a new, real way with the long term future. I can't be sure, but I think this is what has been tossing my insides around these weeks. It seems like an obvious conclusion now, but I just couldn't understand why I felt the way I did. Why when things got better I felt worse. I shall visualize this feeling with a singularity, a place where all the rules everything you have ever known are based on cease to exist, and you have no idea what the fuck is going on inside:
I'm sure I'll adjust to this new mode of life at some point. I've already simmered down a good deal. But damn, is this ever stressing me out and wearing my nerves thin. It's times like these where I really feel the lack of any close contact. When I'm painfully reminded that all those people are far away. Nothing for it. Just have to face it. See what's in there. I can only admit that I have no idea what is coming next.
Am I weak? Am I strong? Those words seem utterly meaningless right now...
torsdagen den 1:e november 2007
The moving went smoothly thereafter, didn't even have to see the roomie a last time as he was mysteriously absent. I had a bit of tea with my helper friend before he scurried off to the airport to pick up a friend. And about 20 minutes later the TV license man rings the doorbell to ask if I have a TV. "Why no, I most certainly do not. I'm new to this land, what on Earth is a TV, anyway? Where I'm from all we do is read books, pick potatoes and hunt lobster." I've been here nigh two years and never gotten a visit from the TV license people, and then I get one 1 hour after moving into the new place.
And after nigh 6 months of living at that place-which-must-not-be-named without having one single friend over, I have two over my first night at the new place. Shortly after my governmental check-up, I was on my way out to IKEA to get some things which I was in want of. Then a friend calls and we end up going to furniture Nirvana together and then he and his special lady friend came over for dinner, and we just hang out for a very relaxed evening. Which was really fantastic, just having a nice little place of my own to have the people I care about come and spend a nice night. To not feel stressed and trapped and uncomfortable all the time. There's always time for unpacking tomorrow. Or whenever.
Right now I really love that I can have people over without a second thought. So come one, come all while the feeling lasts. I will greet you with a smile at the door and offer you my couch to sleep on. It will be lovely.
lördagen den 27:e oktober 2007
I dreamt of kissing a girl that I hardly knew, and haven't thought of for years. She was around a lot while I was in university, but I never got to know her because I didn't think much of her. I was sitting on a cliff, looking down at the water hundreds of feet below, and she came up behind me and started kissing me. And I panicked because I was slipping off the edge, but I forced her away and the dream moved elsewhere.
It's unsettling when dreams explicitly reflect the things you've been thinking about. They get an eerie, heavy, ultra-vivid atmosphere that the reality generally doesn't merit. Making universes out of molehills. I prefer when dreams stick to the purely imaginative and nonsensical. I hate it when they turn mundane things into monsters. With their subtlety, their authoritarian control over atmosphere. Never liked dreams much.
When I bought my ticket home I was just relieved that I was finally going. Now, I've been remembering more and more what life was there. Remembering faces, situations, years. The first dream echoed how life was in the couple of years just before I came here. The second went further back. Made me remember some of what I was then. Made it something else of its own.
Gotta shake it. Gotta get out of this room now.
torsdagen den 25:e oktober 2007
The bad news: Duck army has declared war on Dog army. And I suspect the ultra-sophisticated fez-wearing flag-waving Equipo A is behind the whole thing....
I will eat your soul, his bottomless black eyes seem to say
måndagen den 22:e oktober 2007
And it will be for longer than expected, after I was told the office is pretty much shut down the first week of January. So no point in coming back until after. So finally, I get to go back to the States, remember why I left in the first place, get really annoyed with it, and feel much better about my living situation here. I've started Romanticizing America in my mind, when my feelings about it while living there were mixed at best, and flat out hostile at worst.
I hope it snows while I'm there. A lot. Feet (fuck the metric system) of the stuff.
God I love Maine. It's in my bones. Here I come...
tisdagen den 16:e oktober 2007
måndagen den 15:e oktober 2007
On to things my readers are more interested in. I've thought up an idea for doing something creative with this here blog, and want to know if anyone cares to see it happen/even reads this at all. So shout as loud as you can if you care. Here is the idea as I wrote it out earlier:
As I was sitting in a very Möllan café having lunch with a friend and some new people, finding it difficult to concentrate due to being extraordinarily tired after working all those silly weekdays and a Friday all-nighter on top of it, and having a hard time following their Swedish, my mind floated around creating bizarre little stories of its own accord. And I thought, how interesting it is that there is this completely unrelated scene unfolding in my head as they look at me here, just seeing me, here. And I came up with the idea to write a series based on moments where I’m amongst people, or wherever, and living out a life in a different world. Making them tight little self-contained stories that build on each other. Showing you what is actually going on in my head and spilling out what I actually think of what is going on around me. It would be terrifyingly honest. This could be that creative project for the blog that I was looking for. It could start in the café as I float around and discover the idea, with the objective perhaps being that I don’t want to dream away life when I have great opportunities right in front of me, like the genuinely lovely new people sitting right beside me and the chance to really learn to speak this new language. And go on to times when the mental wanderings make very good things happen. And maybe in the end Mr. Narrator learns to open his mouth and talk about them, and then real life starts to become fantastically bizarre. And things lean more and more towards fiction. But it would have to be very energetic/funny/surreal to work, to be something people want to read. The explicit honesty required is also going to be difficult. I think I can manage. It would be touchingly warm and repulsively dark. But, this will take a lot out of me, and I’d really like to know if anyone cares.
Here is a nice quote from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Elliot to set the tone:
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown