Year: 2016

A hand gently holding part of a leafy, vibrant green plant. Everything is lit by bright sunlight, casting dark, dappled shadows.

Defining Life

Image description: A hand gently holding part of a leafy, vibrant green plant. Everything is lit by bright sunlight, casting dark, dappled shadows. Who are you? Who do you want to be? How will you get there? Everything in life seems to be asking me this. Autumn asks. For me, this has always been a time for new beginnings and important decisions, much more so than New Year’s. With autumn comes my birthday, too, and this time it’s the big 30.  It feels like no big deal, and a really, really big deal; I zigzag between the two like a bolt of lightning. A birthday is a wonderful thing, another year of life I’ve been given. Zig. By the time my mother was thirty, she had one kid and another not far away. Zag. Thirty now isn’t what thirty was thirty years ago. Zig. At thirty, my mum had released six records and toured every part of the country. Zag. I have such wonderful friends now who want to celebrate with me. Zig. I have three “educations” (a year of …

A vintage black-and-white photo of two people dancing. The man has a fifties hairstyle, and has his eyes closed. The person he is dancing with has curled hair, and is holding a cigarette between their clasped hands.

You might as well dance

Image description: a vintage black-and-white photo of two people dancing. The man has a fifties hairstyle, and has his eyes closed. The person he is dancing with has curled hair, and is holding a cigarette between their clasped hands. (image source, under this licence) I want to make a case for more dancing. I mean everyday dancing, not the kind you only do when you’re drunk or attending a class. Aretha Franklin’s sense of rhythm isn’t a requirement, nor as good control over your hips as Elvis. No fancy shoes needed. There’s no pressure to impress, because everyday dancing should be like breakfast. As long as you can put slices of bread in the toaster and pour orange juice, you’re good — fancy sauces and soufflèes don’t belong on a breakfast table anyway. My mum often talks about stunda. The best English translation I can do is “the moment”, or perhaps the grammatically incorrect “the while”. It’s a period of time where the whole point isn’t what you’re doing, but that you’re spending time together …

A grainy, black and white photo of Maria. She's a white woman with dark hair and dark eyes. She's holding a camera up by her face, taking the picture in a mirror.

Do you see me now?

Image description: A grainy, black and white photo of Maria. She’s a white woman with dark hair and dark eyes. She’s holding a camera up by her face, taking the picture in a mirror. I wanted to write something about acknowledgement, especially the importance of acknowledging other people, and of being acknowledged yourself. It’s not something we talk about a lot, perhaps because it sounds so serious, but I think most of us know the feeling. It’s like… like when you’re talking to someone, and you can tell they’re truly listening. When the cashier at the grocery store says “have a good day”, and it looks like they actually, magically mean it. It’s when you’re sleeping next to someone, and they pull you closer, without even waking up.

a starry night sky photographed directly from below. Lush, leafy trees are silhouetted in black, framing the heavens above.

In the glen

Image description: a starry night sky photographed directly from below. Lush, leafy trees are silhouetted in black, framing the heavens above. (image source, edited by me) This belongs somewhere in the book I’m writing, probably about a third of the way in.  The whole thing is nowhere near ready — we’re talking years, not months away — but I wanted to give you a tiny little taste nonetheless. I hope you like it. Oh, and just a small reminder: you can subscribe to my blog via e-mail here. “Death was tired?” Eira was, too, but she could smell a story. “Well, yes.” Os stretched out and folded his hands behind his head. “Just imagine, people kept dying and dying, and everyone was carrying a life’s worth of memories and regrets and unfulfilled dreams and… heavy things. Death couldn’t let them keep all that forever, it would be cruel. But Death couldn’t shoulder everything itself either; it’s just too much for one. So Death made the Two, and gave them one half of the world each. …

An image taken at dusk, showing white blossoms against a blurry background.

Of course it hurts

Image description: a photo taken at dusk, showing white blossoms against a blurry background. Some change is gradual and relatively easy to wrap your head around. You scroll through the photos on your phone, flick through an old, handwritten diary, or get a text from a former friend, and you just know that things are no longer the same. You might feel nostalgic, but when it comes down to it, you’re glad life has moved on. Other changes whip your head around with sheer force, and you have no idea how this really happened or how much it wil affect everything. It’s a slap in the face, sharp and humbling, or a dull punch strong enought to bruise, rainbow colours blossoming on your skin for weeks. It’s the kind of change that hurts. Of course it hurts when buds burst, pain for that which grows and that which envelops. Karin Boye / Translation by Jenny Nunn