procraftination

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010: Reading adventures in 2017

I usually do a summary like this, and I figure I could actually post it in public too. I’m not a big reviewer (I think my best review to date is IT’S LIKE BUFFY BUT WITH UNICORNS about Rampant by Diana Peterfreund), but I do like stats. God, do I love stats. So here’s a small Q&A with myself about the reading year that was 2017. (The best thing about 2017, let’s be real.)

Books read | Books I aimed to read
I read 71 (!) thanks to the Hugos and their novellas/novelette/graphic novel categories (I don’t count short stories in this tally). I burnt out several times over, which isn’t weird given that my goal was just 40. Lesson for 2018 is definitely to pace myself.

Number of authors | Authors with multiple works
51 unique authors. I read more than one book of 8 authors.

Brian K Vaughan (7)
G Willow Wilson (6)
Ebbe Schön (4)
Cath Crowley, Gail Carriger, Mira Grant (3)
Becky Chambers, Linn Ullmann (2)

Gender; author | Gender; main character
I always skew heavily towards female so this is roughly where I usually end up.

32 unique female authors, 45 books total. (63%)
17 unique male authors, 25 books total. (35%)
One book had one male and two female authors (1%)

35 books with a female main character (64%)
7 books with a male main character (13%)
13 books with both a female and male main characters (24%)

Nationality | Ethnicity
I read a lot of books by Americans. A lot. I also read a lot of white authors. It’s something I try to be mindful of, but I could do a hell of a lot better.

USA: 28 (55%)
UK: 6 (12%)
Sweden: 6 (12%)
Australia: 4 (8%)
Norway: 3 (6%)
Austria, Canada, Iran, Nigeria: 1 (2% each)

37 white authors (72%)
14 POCs (mainly Asian and African American) (27%)

Fiction | Non-fiction | Graphic novels
41 fiction, 15 non-fiction, 15 graphic novels. In 2016 the number was 43/5/0, so my commitment to more non-fiction is working even if fiction is my #1 love.

Oldest book read | Newest book read
The oldest were Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847), Männen med rosa triangel by Heinz Heger (1972), and The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982). The newest were Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Bromancers (Tansy Rayner Roberts), all published in 2017.

Rereads
Sixteen. Saga, Ms Marvel, the Gracie Faltrain books (Cath Crowley), the Newsflesh books (Mira Grant), and Wuthering Heights. I barely even remember reading the last one before, because my English wasn’t great when I attempted it. Also, it was twenty years ago.

Translated works
Thanks to the library I read more translated stuff this year. My favourite was definitely Norwegian non-fiction, which sounds like a weird sub-genre, but it translates so smoothly to Swedish, and it’s a delight to read. This is the whole list:

47 sekunder/The Gaze of the Gazelle by Arash Hejazi. From English.
Det största brottet/Den største forbrytelsen by Marte Michelet. From Norwegian.
En av oss/En av oss by Åsne Seierstad. From Norwegian.
Männen med rosa triangel/Die Männer mit dem rosa Winkel by Heinz Heger. From German.
De oroliga/De urulige by Linn Ullmann. From Norwegian.
De dyrbara/Det dyrbare (from Norwegian) by Linn Ullman

Works in Swedish
This is actually a high number for me. Most of the time I read ten books in English (my second language) for every book in Swedish (my first language). So this is actually remarkable, being me. I’m aiming to do even better this year.

Grönt! by Karin Eliasson.
I havet finns så många stora fiskar by Sara Lövestam.
Håll käften, jag räknar! by Julia Skott.
Dig blir det aldrig något av by Peter Pohl.
Folktro om ödet och lyckanÄlvor, vättar och andra väsenSvenska sägner and Erotiska väsen by Ebbe Schön.
Döden i skogen by Göran Lager.

Favourite reads | Books that deserve a mention
I’m very generous with my stars so this isn’t necessarily what I loved the best or had the most stars. It’s just what I really want to remember.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I read this in a DAY, which I haven’t done since 2007.

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers. About an AI trying to human and a girl raised by one. Many thanks to the Hugos for this one.

I havet finns så många stora fiskar (available in Swedish) by Sara Lövestam. It’s from the POV of a five year old boy whose parents neglect him enough that a pedophile almost grabs him. It hurts to read. It hurts so much. Sadly not available in translation.

Det största brottet (available in Swedish and Norwegian) by by Marte Michelet. Non-fiction, about Norway during World War II. I cried. A lot.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. So painful. Honestly, after reading this I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch the show.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. What if you lived on a hellmouth and wasn’t a Slayer or a Scooby? Add some mental illness and a dash of queer representation, and you’re good to go.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Loved this one and the chaotic nature of the narrative. Thanks to the Hugos for kicking it in my path.

En av oss/One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway (available in a ton of languages, including English!) by by Åsne Seierstad. I can’t summarise this one, so maybe read this for the quick recap. Or remember that this is the guy who set off a bomb, posed as a police officer to calm a large group of teens about it, and then murdered all of them. Afterwards, when the police told him people were scared he smiled and told them ‘that’s what terror does’.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definite History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi. Long, academic, hard to read in all ways; both emotionally and literally. It took me two months to read and was absolutely worth it.

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009: On #metoo

Warning: Potentially triggering stuff ahead. Nothing graphic, because I’m lucky that way. Also based on this Instagram post I wrote in Swedish.

I was quiet all through the #metoo campaign. I didn’t speak up because I felt like my experiences weren’t ‘enough’. After a conversation with a family member (of which, let’s not talk about it, but I didn’t walk away happy) and a subsequent Twitter thread that I deleted almost immediately, there’s something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

I was twelve or maybe thirteen years old; quite shy, quite sheltered, did not understand boys or why people kept talking about them, which is probably why I didn’t realise sooner what was happening. At the time I thought I was just stupid. But that’s how it goes.

A man kept calling our home phone when I was home alone. He said that he was a co-worker of my dad’s. I don’t remember his excuses other than that, I just remember that he kept me talking, making me divulge details, and when I did he always said “oh right, I knew that, your dad told me that”. He called a few times, I think. It was pretty innocent, really. Until the time when I reminded him of my age, which he’d conveniently forgotten (again), and he said: “thirteen, eh? I bet you’ve gotten breasts by now, don’t you?”

I slammed the phone down, unplugged it (and the other phones in the house), and I can’t remember how much of this I told my parents, but it ended in us changing phone numbers.

He never tried to find us, which was lucky, given all the information he’d gotten out of me without me even realising. He probably had a dozen other underage girls he kept calling. That might’ve saved me.

Another time, when I was in my twenties and alone in a laundromat (the unmanned kind, vague clean with ‘doesn’t work’ scratched into the doors of the dryers that sucked but were never fixed or replaced), a guy started talking to me. He had a developmental disability of some kind. He told me people were never nice to him because of it, but I was. Because, you know, why wouldn’t I be? I felt bad for him until he asked me to show him my pussy. I was so startled that I just stared at him and finally told him to never tell another girl that.

I grabbed my laundry and walked home. We lived close, and I made sure he didn’t follow me. I locked the door and folded the laundry I meant to fold before going home, that was shoved into the hamper. I never told my now-ex. I never told anyone, actually. I just forgot about it. Until now.

These two things I didn’t think was enough for #metoo. Nobody touched me, right? Nobody chased me down. I was lucky. Both of these times I was lucky.

It still counts. Even if I was lucky. Even if it was just words. It’s not conflating the ‘real’ stories with things that are smaller, less painful. With stories you can forget, that you can call important until the day you remember.

It counts. count. You do as well. No matter what happened (or didn’t happen) to you. No matter if you’re comfortable sharing the details or just want to say “me too” and leave it at that.

I put these two stories down to show that it doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be brutal. It can be a guy who doesn’t know better, because nobody has taught him what’s appropriate and he’s the kind of person who needs it spelled out, carefully. It can be the sort of man who dials numbers on random, years before there were things like caller IDs.

I don’t really know how to finish this post. It’s just been sitting half written in my drafts for weeks now, and I think I want it out there. Without excuses. Without apologising. So yeah. Here it is.

 

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008: Chocolate and fudge

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So, I made things! Lots of things! People ask me a lot of it’s hard, but it’s really not. The chocolates are a bit fiddly (you need to fill the forms, tip it out, freeze it 5 minutes, then fill them, freeze them until the filling is solid, roughly 5-15 minutes depending, and then spoon some chocolate on top, and freeze it again — for a video on how to do it, check this post at How To Cook That), but the fudge is super easy! I’ve found recipes all over the place, and simplified and played with the ratios and things, so recipes of that will follow after the pictures.

(Note that these are all quickish! I always take a shortcut if I can, like using mint extract instead of fresh mint, ginger spice instead of fresh ginger, instant coffee, etc. That’s good enough for me.)

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My dad always wants nothing but some of my chocolate for Christmas so for his sake I go fancy and make a box from scratch. It’s just card stock thick paper (the above box is made from two  pieces of A4/letter sized papers, cut and folded into a box shape and covered in Christmas present paper. The text above just says the flavours:

Orange ~ Ginger ~ Raspberry ~ Caramel ~ Coffee
Mint ~ Gingerbread ~ Chai ~ Lemon/meringue
Peanut butter ~ Saffron

My basic chocolate filling recipe is based on several videos from How To Cook That, and also advice from my chocolate making friend Claudie:

Recipe for both chocolate fillings and fudge ⌲ ⌲ ⌲

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007: NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again! I don’t know about you but I’m excited. Super excited. The only years, after 2005, that I haven’t done NaNoWriMo was 2007 and 2016. This year I’m extra ready because of my break last year (I had to, it had kind of become a chore, and I didn’t want to burn out in the middle of editing a thing), and I spent yesterday redoing the spreadsheet that has been kicking around for yearsssss now. I think I’ve used it since at least 2010 myself, but there’s just so much stuff, so I simplified it a bit, and then I simplified the simplified version further, and now I have two spreadsheets I want to share… if anyone finds this blog post. That last part remains to be seen.

All credit to the original creator, whose spreadsheet you can find here, if you don’t get distracted by having too much data in front of you. Spreadsheets are the best, and can tell time! It’s amazing.

These two are mine:

nanosmall
The super simple one! Click on the image for a closer look at it or download it here. Just make a copy and start editing it!

nanobig
The somewhat more complicated one. It has a pie chart and everything, and I like it. Click on the image for a closer view, or download it here. Again, make a copy and get started.

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006: Recipe time! Butternut squash dal!

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This recipe is this one ripped off. I’m posting it just to remember my modifications. The original recipe is for twice this amount, and I only have a 2.4 liter crockpot. So here we go:

1 cup (250 ml) red lentils
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 can (400 ml) crushed tomatoes
400 ml water + 1 buillon cube

Put everything in a slow cooker (if possible, dissolve the buillon before putting it in, mine didn’t melt right), cook on low for up to 8 hours. That’s it!

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005: On girls and ADHD

Okay, so I’m not an expert. I was diagnosed two weeks ago, and I still haven’t gotten any medication or any help at all as of yet, because that’s just the way it goes at my mental health clinic. (That’s a story in of itself.)

But yes, I first got help for depression and anxiety when I was nineteen. That’s 1999. I’ve been on so many medications since then (eight I think? or nine?), but my anxiety has still been doing its thing anyway, especially in social settings. I just can’t keep up and it’s just terrible.

This year, in spring, my psychiatrist asked me if I would like to be evaluated for neuropsychiatric conditions. (That phrase isn’t used outside Sweden, it seems. It means autism, Aspergers, ADHD, etc.) At first I said no. I was upset at the possibility of having been misdiagnosed for eighteen years.

I thought about it. I talked to my sister (she said do it). I talked to my mum (she said you don’t need it). And my friends, and… yeah. Lots of people. And I read up on it, and thought “yes, maybe…”

I ended up saying yes. And so, I had a very intense week of extensive tests of all kinds at the beginning of October. I had to travel to the next town over, which took up towards an hour each time. There were four days. So I went, travelling for an hour each way four times in the span of a week, and did tests and talked to three different people and honestly, I’ve been going to mental health clinics for almost twenty years, but this was different. It was harder. And I was scared they’d end up saying it was nothing and that I’d have done it all for no reason.

On the last day I met the psychiatrist and psychologist together. They told me I have ADHD. Or ADD, rather. They told me girls, especially the ones growing up in the eighties, like me, often slipped through the cracks. Back then all focus was on hyperactivity, which is more common for boys. Girls generally have the inattentive thing going. It can cause anxiety and depression because you just can’t keep up with everything around you and it’s just too much.

I felt a little bit like I was hit by a ton of bricks. I also felt like I did when I figured out that I was queer. Like I found a puzzle piece I didn’t know was missing. It felt good, actually. It still does. I’ve been reading about it, and today I came across this on Instagram. It’s a page from a book, and it’s in Swedish so I’m going to transcribe it:

Characteristics; adults with ADHD:
Inattentiveness (often in boring circumstances only)
Hyperactivity (often decreasing with age)
Chronic inner nervousness (“thousands of thoughts at once”)
Forgetfulness
Disorganised (“chaotic life style”)
Impulsive
Quick mood changes
Doesn’t reach their intellectual potential (grades, etc)
Difficulties when routines and discipline is required
Difficulties with hierarchical structures
Interruption in friendships and relationships (including high divorce rate)
Interruption in education, work life, unemployment
Often co-exists with addiction, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, personality disorders

Positive traits; adults with ADHD:
Curiosity
Taking risks
Energy
Creativity
Imagination
Quick learning
Ability to organise others
Spontaneity
Hyper focus
Courage to question rules, hierarchies, etc
Strategies to compensate (good memory, clean house, etc)

10 out of 13 (list 1) and 7 out of 11 (list 2) is me. Despite this, and despite the diagnosis, people are telling me it can’t be me. I can’t have ADHD. I can focus, they say. I’m smart, they say. I have good grades, they say.

Actually, when it looks like I’m focusing I need multiple things to keep me focused (a timer, music to shut out the outside, knitting in my hands), and I use half the time I look focused trying to sort the facts inside my head before I can do anything with them.

I’m smart. They got that right. My grades, however, are just above average. They should’ve been better, I was told, given my intellect.

(I feel like I’m bragging. I’m honestly not. I’m just relieved that there’s a reason for my average grades, my inability to keep things neat, to remember where I put things, to filter out the conversation at the table behind me and focus on the person I’m talking to.)

They encouraged me to go back to school. Maybe I will. My university transcripts contain an endless row of half finished courses and interrupted attempts at learning things the way I’m supposed to. I always thought it was because I was… not stupid, but unable to follow through on things. To finish them.

I guess we know why, now.

I’ll probably have more to say on this topic once I’ve seen my regular psychiatrist (the people doing the evaluation aren’t allowed to do more than evaluate and send the results to the person referring me to them), but for now I’m just relieved.

So yes. I was misdiagnosed for eighteen years. My social anxiety and agoraphobia was likely caused at least in part by untreated ADHD.

I’m thirty-seven years old. I finally have an answer.

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004: Knitting project finished!

I said I’d use this blog for Instagram stuff I don’t want to lose in the madness that is my feed, so let’s get on that.

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This is Argante by PicnicKnits, knitted in Debbie Bliss Andes, of some mystery colour (I always lose the yarn label), bought at some mysterious point in life I can’t remember. I think possibly at Strikk in Gothenburg years ago? But I’m not sure.

Either way, it came out really well! I did some minor modifications, mainly because I wanted something scarf-ish that was also a shawl, so I didn’t increase until the halfway point. Instead I, after the short row section, kept increasing for a bit, but only every third row, and then I knitted it flat without increasing until I got to the halfway point. And they I did the reverse for the second half of the scarf and it turned out really well.

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I’m really loving how the fabric came out, all drapey and nice. I also have a thing for loose garter stitch. I don’t know what it is about it, I just love it! So this one is going to be my new go to shawl, all winter long.

This one took me months and months, mainly because I took a break to do some cross stitch when my wrists didn’t want to play along. But I finished it just in time for autumn, so yay.

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003: Chaos brain meets #bulletjournaling

I resisted at first. I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to do the bandwagon thing. (I’m that girl, who refused to read Harry Potter until Goblet of Fire was out, because everyone loved it and I SURE AS HELL WOULDN’T. Then I needed a book for a plane ride and here we are.) I have to admit, though, that I’m a mess without one. I get nothing done. I forget birthdays. I’m unsure what day it is. Etc.

I fall off the wagon a lot. But when I do use it regularly I feel so much better.

21689260_122078798453653_6999316754123980800_nI started with squiggles to minimise the use of a ruler. Sadly the monthly spread and habit tracker kind of requires it.

21690039_742569189266665_1473875739097956352_nMore squiggles. Also: ‘Do this shit’ section is highly recommended. If I only have it at the monthly spread I’m not suitably shamed to do it.

21911286_1538885259513397_1444235143291076608_nI do the calendar method for my writing too. One sticker is 3 x 20 mins. Two stickers is 6 x 20 mins. I get a 5 min break after the two first blocks and a 15 min break after the third. Rinse and repeat. (And yes, stickers are as motivational now as in first grade. Truly.)

21910020_2030749373877897_1789978309812027392_nWriting is also easier with a graph to motivate me. Filling things out fills me with joy, I can’t help it. The dashed lines are where I’m supposed to be on Sunday of that week. This week I’m still high on LET’S DO THIS, I don’t expect the future weeks to be that much ahead of the plan all the way to NaNoWriMo, which is as far as this specific graph will take me.

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002: On mental illness

I try to talk about mental health and not gloss over the truth. I’ve been doing that for years, and will continue to do so. It’s not always easy, and there are times when I wish a simple “I can’t do x tonight” would do. But for the most part: there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to mental illness, and no, telling me I don’t “look” mentally ill really isn’t helping. It’s not a compliment.

So anyway. I’ve been given a boatload of different diagnoses and medications in my days. Not all of them were correct, obviously, but the current labels are recurring major depressions, generalised anxiety and agoraphobia. I take four kinds of medications, one of them twice daily. I can go outside on good days. I have a very low threshold for stimuli (sounds, scents, movements) and voices often turn into noise rather than words. I have a lot of limitations, but I have a garden that help me, I craft to calm my brain when I have trouble keeping it from wandering in a hundred different directions (“I feel a little crazy today” or “my brain is everywhere and I can’t make it stop” are both very real things I say) and when I can control my environments I can be quite productive and feel almost ‘normal’, whatever that means.

I know people don’t blog the way they used to, these days. I don’t care. I think I’m going to use this blog that way anyway. At least until my brain starts wandering in a completely different direction.

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001: Let’s begin

I used to blog all the time. I had my own domain and everything. I used to tweet twenty times a day too. I don’t do that either. As someone who has been writing for as long as I can remember it’s very weird to realise that I haven’t done that for years now. Not in a diary type way.

Maybe diaries are for old people.

Maybe I’m an old person? Maybe I should diary (totally a verb) too?

Regardless, sometimes I use my Instagram as a journal type thing, and I feel like it would be a good idea to put them somewhere. I haven’t decided yet what kind of blog this will be. Maybe when I do I’ll be able to figure out which one of my three domains (I know, it’s ridiculous) that fits onto this. For now it’ll just have my name, because yes, a land is a country, but it’s also the first half of my last name. So there you have it.