Jag älskar dig (I Love You) Stockholm…

…and you will get through this.

You will get through this because you are a city of creativity, of effervescence and love. A city of acceptance. You are a diverse community that includes people from all walks of life. It’s this mix of individuals who come together in this beautiful city that makes you feel a part of something special. I never felt out of place as I walked beside the water or through the streets. I never felt isolated while drinking in a pub or having a fika with friends. I felt more and more a part of Stockholm every day I lived there. This was through the experiences I had and the memories of those experiences that I still carry around. It was through the relationships I made with the city and the friends I love – both Swedish and other Internationals alike.

This is why my heart hurts so much reading about the events that happened yesterday. That someone wanted to try and taint and break up this community that I have a special place for and this city that I care about. My heart hurts for the victims and their families. It hits so close to home because in another time or another place, it could have been someone that I really cared about, or even me. That could have been injured or worse. Of course, we can’t live our lives thinking about events in that way. Who knows why things happen the way they do… but maybe we can help stop tragedies like this again by our reactions.

So, we will grieve like we did in London and Nice and Berlin and countless other places across the world. We will grieve when it happens again, but I have noticed that we are learning to respond to these attacks differently. With resilience and solidarity, instead of judgement. We will not let attacks like these define our cities or a group of people. Instead we need to stand against hate. Attacks like these push people together, rather than forcing them apart. Stockholm, you are a city of love, peace, acceptance and creativity. That is what defines you. Stockholm, you will get through this and continue to be the thriving city and community where I left my heart. While I am not with you I think of you always and treasure the memories you gave me

always.

Advertisements

The Eye vs The Hand | Fotografiska Poems, Stockholm

Returning to Stockholm this weekend allowed me to visit some of the places I didn’t have chance to when I lived there last year. High on my list was ‘Fotografiska’ a museum dedicated to photography. I was lucky enough to see Ren Hang’s “Human Love” exhibit as well as Cooper & Gorfer’s collection “I Know Not These My Hands”. Walking around exhibits I find it odd if I don’t have my notebook with me. I’m ready to jot down some inspiration that comes from looking at the work before me. Here are a series of poems from Fotografiska’s exhibits

 

Dior Haute Couture,

2014
transparency
with an orange tint
free me from the box
of couture culture
or smash the glass
and join me,
being blind is easier.

 

2014 Blue
porcelain
will break if handled carelessly
so display me in glass
for the eyes
so many eyes
look
but don’t touch
ask
but don’t expect answers

 

2010
one side dark
red streams into deep indigo
they’re scared to let me out
facing the light
fantastical, carnival yellow
judge me if you will
but you were once me

 

I Know Not These My Hands, Cooper & Gorfer

Empty Portrait of Cecilia Roppalini
find me
by looking for my shoes
as my body
floats
in an ether
you will never find
the song of the forest
my only constant
o, find me
listen for footsteps
and weeping
beyond the trees
of twilight

 

Censurado
everything is falling apart fine
they will come for me soon
I will be taken treated
black bag over head safely
like my father
I don’t have time
I hear the sirens children singing

 

Human Love, Ren Hang

Human Love
you laugh at my nipples
the hair on my vagina
and two bums exposed
the body is the window to nature
look outside
leave your skin in the forests
rural;
and urban
exposure

lips are just petals
lilies the eyes
you are one with the forest
and you have no choice

don’t fall from the tree
the branches will cut the skin
they will cut you
expression has consequences

I go back to the water
naked
and warm
the currents take me under
I am born again

concrete metropolis
herding sheep
closed
sit on the rooftops
nipples hardening with the breeze
while sunset bathes you

you thought it was mountains
no
they’re bums
of different colours
you were partially correct
it’s a landscape of nature
as we are nature; exposed

humanlove

Psychogeographies | Connections to Roads Previously Travelled

Picture this, a day in December (that’s a Blondie reference). There is a soft crunch as my shoes step on a pathway of snow that has hidden the delicate greenery of previous seasons. The Baltic wind kisses my cheeks and I gently rub my earlobes to allow the blood to start moving. This sounds very poetic but in reality I am using all my strength to hoist myself up a flight of stairs. Holding onto the rail, pulling many muscles in my arm as I slip on the ice. This is my attempt to climb Södermalm hill, which at this point feels like Everest.

“So, what was your favourite place in Stockholm?” I have been asked this question over and over again since returning from my studies abroad. Now after living in the city for a few months, of course, I visited pretty much everywhere you could. You would think that it would be difficult to whittle it down to just one place. I mean there are multiple contenders; Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s Old Town and one of the main reasons for visiting the city. There is Stadsbiblioteket, the national library, also, the Modern Art Museum, which became my own personal muse, and so many other places. This is because Stockholm is a bustling and creative city bursting at the seams with action and diversity. However, the answer I always give to the question is; Södermalm hill (or more commonly known as ‘Tinder point’ to my friends – because if you happen to go on a Tinder date in Stockholm chances are he/she’s taking you up there!) but forget I told you that, Södermalm hill, or ‘Skinnarviksberget’ is Stockholm’s highest natural point, giving you the perfect view of this beautiful city.

Last year I was introduced to ‘Psychogeography’ by writer Nuala Casey. The definition of which is this; “the study of the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behaviour.” For example, people from the north of England and the south are both seen as having completely different behaviours. It also relates to the idea that we have a connection with certain places; this could be a destination we went on holiday as a child, our home town, or anywhere we have a memory that sticks with us. I think of Psychogeography a lot when I look back at my travels because I think as I travel I leave a part of myself in that destination as I pass through. None more so as Stockholm because it’s a place where I really changed as a person. Södermalm hill nee’ Tinder Point nee’ Skinnarviksberget is special to me because it was the first place in the city I visited. I won’t forget that evening, the sun set at 8:30pm (which seems totally alien to me now) and there were hundreds of people sat on the rocks. They were drinking wine or beer and chatting as we collectively admired the beautiful city that sat before us. Some days I would go there by myself, whip out my notebook and just write. It gave me a lot of inspiration because it made me completely aware of where I was (literally because I could see everything) but also emotionally. It put me on a pedestal where I could evaluate if I was making the correct choice in how I was changing. If I didn’t have a choice I could both worry and be excited about how I would grow. The best times were on a night in December as my Stockholm journey was coming to an end. In minus temperatures (minus 16 one night) I would still go into the city and take on the mammoth task of climbing the highest point. I gracefully (not) slipped a lot on the stairs but luckily no one was around to see my embarrassment, as they weren’t stupid – tucked up in their warm houses. Despite this, when I got to the top it was worth it. Silence. Except the faint murmur of city life across the water in front of me. The bitter Scandinavian wind bit my cheeks and made my fingers numb. As I stood there in the dark and the cold, the only light was that from the metropolis below. I felt pretty complete. I was sharing a moment of reflection with myself. The person I had become. This new person stood where the old naïve person was sat drinking a beer five months ago. Both of us looking at the same view but with completely different thoughts. It’s actually hard to put into words how I felt up there. People may think I’m just super emotional but I believe we all have a place where we have had a feeling similar to this.

Psychogeography… think about it, think about if your surroundings make you happy, if not, think about a place that does make you happy, then take off your shoes and run there.

I Left My Heart In Stockholm | It’s Not ‘Hej Då’ It’s ‘Until Next Time’

So, I wrote this while sitting in Arlanda Airport in a -slightly- hungover, very drowsy state.

I’m looking forward to finding my seat on the plane so I can sleep my way to Manchester. In true Sweden style the sunset is peaking over the runway at 3pm, drenching the landscape in a sombre orange in an attempt to mimic my mood – that’s pathetic fallacy right there. As I sit here aircraft are taking off, taking people on holiday, or to visit their families, or to a busy work week, or in my case back home because my Stockholm experience has come to an end. It doesn’t seem two minutes ago since I was sashaying through arrivals ready to start my Stockholm adventure and what an adventure it has been. When I look back at my Stockholm experience of course I will remember the city. The beautiful Gamla Stan, the highest natural point, where I spent many an hour sat admiring the view. Writing a poem or a lazy travel article. I’ll remember the Modern Art Museum, Slussen, T-Centralen, Södermalm and all the places we went for a coffee or a beer and chatted the night away. Discussing crazy stories that made us laugh until our cheeks ached. That leads me onto what I’ll remember most about my Stockholm experience. The people. The friends I have made here, completely, have made my experience what it was. I know they will probably read this so I’ll try not to make it too cheesy, but I have been astronomically lucky with the people I have met here. I feel like we became a little family. If I needed a gossip, or if I was feeling down, or if I just wanted to get drunk and dance the night away someone would always be there. I will remember our walks around the city, our Mexican nights, partying next to the beach, dancing on my roof to ABBA and all the conversations we had. I hate to leave you all, but even though we are going back to different cities and different walks of life I know we will keep in touch. I’m excited to visit your different cities and reminisce over our time here.

Stockholm, for me, has been so much more than just a study semester. I have grown in ways I didn’t think I could. I’ve learnt so much about myself and in many ways surprised myself with how I am able to cope with situations. I have gone through massive changes while living here. Am I scared to go back? Yes, of course I am. I’m very anxious because my life is so much different to what it was before I left. However, with the skills and the confidence in myself I have gained in Stockholm I know I will be able to overcome it because I am a better person due to this experience. Do I have any regrets? If I could would I go back and change aspects about my Stockholm experience? Honestly, no. It has been everything I wanted it to be and more. I hate to leave the people here, you know, things that could have been. I know this is not the end. I am happy. I am leaving Stockholm happy and I am so *fucking* proud of myself for doing this experience, and it’s probably the hangover but I’m desperately trying not to cry in this airport waiting room – or maybe I should to freak out some Swedes one last time (no pants subway wooop wooop!)

If you ever have the chance to live abroad, do it. The world is there to explore. I know people get so caught up in their little bubble because they are scared of exploring. Start off by taking the bus to the next city, then take a train down south (or up north if there’s no south left) then take a plane and watch how your mind progressively expands. I’ve become friends with people from all over and it’s made me so much more aware of my global citizenship and that is vital. Please, go explore, just book that holiday. Don’t be scared to do it by yourself. In times like this it’s especially important to meet different people and understand we still have so much in common despite being from different places.

I love you Stockholm! My heart will always belong to you.

Hey då!

Ay nooooo
Nästa Tekniska Hurrrrrrrrskolan
Plattform Nä du stigar av
(Please ignore the many grammar and spelling mistakes, I’m tried. I’m back Manchester!)

img_9528

 

 

Share 1 Minute | Have We Lost Human Contact?

So this weekend I participated in the “Share 1 minute” social experiment. The aim of this is to bring thousands of people from around the globe together in their city to celebrate humanity. The event asks the question; have we lost human contact? How many times a day do we actually stop to talk to someone? To express this the event involves meeting each other to share a minutes eye contact with strangers.

I wasn’t really sure of what to expect from the event. I was walking around the city alone on Saturday and remembered that it was happening. I spent an hour or so walking in and out of stores deciding if i should check it out. Honestly, I was shy and felt that it would be too much for me. However, I went through with it and found the meeting place, a small park not far from the city centre. When I arrived, there were already a fair number of people standing around. We were given a brief introduction and then told to get set up.

img_7739

How the experiment works is this: You find a patch of grass in the park and lay out a blanket, you sit there and wait for a stranger to come and join you. You then both make complete eye contact with each other for a minute. During the first couple of people I ‘stared’ at I felt really uncomfortable. I was scared to blink and I kept laughing nervously and thought the whole thing was embarrassing. However as time went on and person after person came and sat with me I became a whole lot calmer, the whole thing became normal – even therapeutic. After the minute was over some people were happy to leave and move on to the next person but many others stayed and chatted with me for a few more minutes. We would talk about what we were doing in Sweden, where we were from, or how we were finding the experience.

IMG_7740.JPG

I ended up meeting a whole range of people (22 to be exact). People from all over the world, I chatted with someone from Iraq, Singapore, France, Argentina, Chile, Germany as well as Sweden. Young people and old, male and female, each with different experiences and circumstances and reasons for sitting in a park on a cold day to stare at strangers. Some eyes looked sad and started to fill with tears, causing me to do the same, as if this person knew my anxieties and fears and I felt for them too. Some people couldn’t stop smiling, which caused me to do the same, like we were sharing some inside joke. All without words.

IMG_7738.JPG

I met a teacher, a mother, an engineering student, a russian language student, someone who moved across the world to Sweden for love, someone who tried to send me a telepathic message, someone who was scared they couldn’t truly connect with people. I met 22 strangers I will probably never see again, yet I felt like I was a part of something special with them today. I’m glad I took part because it’s easy to forget that we are all human, we’re not aliens. There is nothing stopping us from talking to each other, usually that’s why things go wrong – because we’re scared to communicate with one another. We can learn so much about different cultures or ways of life as well as things about yourself. I love Stockholm, this city has been good to me. I love my friends here, they are good to me. This week i’ve been feeling particularly lonely, and this experiment just meant a lot to me right now, it gave me a boost in a way I didn’t think it could.

Stadsbiblioteket | For Stockholm’s Book Lovers

I’m sure anyone reading this who has moved abroad to study/work or taken time out to travel has received the typical gift – a pocket guide! I was no exception. On my flight to Stockholm I cracked open these books to pass the time. I marked museums with my pencil and made a crease on the interesting pages. Making it obvious where I should turn if I needed information quickly. Most of all seeing what I would get up to during my time as a tourist before the real work started.

During the final stages of my flight I was still lazily looking through the guide. Suddenly an image grabbed my attention. Spanning across two pages was a landscape shot of Stockholm’s Public Library; rows and rows of books were contrasted against the minimalist design of the roof. It soon became top of my list of places to visit when I got to the city. Its architect Erik Gunnar Asplund designed the building in 1928 and it was his last to use Nordic Classicism. My guide book described it as having a “processional stairway, which leads up into the magnificent rotunda, in which you are surrounded by books on seemingly endless shelves.” I had to see if the photo did it justice.

Being the typical English student I have a great love for books. It’s no surprise that this building has become one of my favourite places in Stockholm. When I walked into the main section I could only stand in awe at the beauty of the place. I slowly turned around to try and take in everything that was in front of me. I found that the round design truly makes it unique and distorts your perception of size and space. Next I made my way up to the top row and looked at the books that rested on the shelves. Despite the fact that they were practically all in Swedish I still found it beautiful. It is here where I tried to be artistic and take this photo with my handy guide book!

img_7112

img_7116

After doing my duty as a tourist I started to explore the other halls of the library. It is here I found a space at one of the desks and sat down to do some reading of my own. The Stockholm Public Library has a unique way of letting its guests know when it is closing time. If you start to hear a banging sound grow louder and louder there is no need to be alarmed. This is the library’s courteous way of letting you know it’s time to pack up your books. When I was there I witnessed a little old man walking around from room to room banging a steel gong, which amused me. I packed up my books and had one last look at Asplund’s work before leaving.

I recommend taking an hour out of your busy Stockholm schedule to check this amazing building. I can guarantee it won’t be like your own public library!

Location: Odengatan 63, T 5083 1100
Transport: Stadsbiblioteket Bus Stop // Rådmansgatan Metro Station.

img_7110

Why I Go To the Forest | Diary of Stockholm

img_7241

img_7257

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

When I first found out I was going to Stockholm, I imagined getting lost in vast Nordic forests. Around me there were pine trees as far as the eye could see. The occasional moose or deer was my only company. No sounds but the crunching of leaves beneath my feet or the birds singing as they meander through the sky. This (one of my favourite quotes) ringing in my head as I wander through the wilderness. The words make me think – why do I go to the woods?

The nature that Stockholm offers has been a big part of my time here. Every day I go for a walk through the forest, which is only a short distance from where I live. It helps me mentally, rather than being a way to get exercise. It is my time for reflection. Most people reading this will just see a forest and think I’m looking into it a bit too much. I have to disagree. For me it is a therapy. A time spent with my thoughts.

As the leaves from tree branches knock against my yellow umbrella I think of my loved ones back home. I miss them but I know I’m here doing something I have always wanted to do. I think of my friends and what they are going through. I think of all the ways I could possibly help them even though I’m not by their side. I think of past conversations from a time that seems forever ago. I think of the people I have met and the people that I am going to meet. Their reflections staring back at me from the puddle I step over, to avoid getting my jeans wet. I think of my family and with that the memories of us sat around the table drinking wine, beer and vodka while we listen to music. I think of how whenever I hear those songs I’m taken back to that moment. I think about what I am capable of doing for other people. As some nearby ducks ‘quack’ to each other, I remember that I am running out of toilet paper and cheese.

As a breathless jogger rushes past me I think about yesterday when there was a bird in my kitchen. I hid behind my plate until it flew out of the window. I remember times where I made a fool out of myself when I was drunk and cringe. I remember moments where I laughed so hard I snorted and my cheeks ached afterwards. I don’t forget the times I cried so much I couldn’t breathe. As I stroll through the multi-coloured botanical garden I imagine what my life is going to be like in a year, five years even ten years. Not only what my life will be like but the peoples around me too, will they still be in my life? I think about where I have travelled and wonder if I will ever return. I think about how the sunset bathes the city in warm colour and that I don’t understand how people like red wine.

As I stop to tie my shoelace I think about big ideologies: Racism, xenophobia, homophobia and how my writing could potentially change the world one day. I think about receiving the Nobel Peace prize for literature. I imagine many different scenarios, the countries I could live in, the jobs I could have, the life I want though this usually changes on each walk. I think about things that may never happen. As I sit by the water watching the rain send ripples across the surface, I think about having nothing to care about at eight years old. Still travelling the world at twenty five, and being settled down at forty. How I hope that you will one day forgive me.

As I watch a family of deer eat grass I think about how much I don’t want to cook tonight. I think about how much it amuses me when I see someone picking fruit from a nearby tree. I think about how much I have grown since coming here, in such a short space of time. How it both scares and excites me at the same time. As the wind starts to turn my ears cold I wonder what people think of me, am I a good person in their eyes? Or am I naïve, someone to be pitied for caring too much.

As my shoes start to become dirty from the mud and the dust I think about how I’m in something totally bigger than myself. How we all look up at the same sky but from different places and each with different thoughts, although these may overlap sometimes. I forget the things I don’t want to think about because they are for another walk. As I pass people fishing I think about diving into my notebook the second I get home. I write these thoughts down because they are more part of me than anything else.

So, that is why I go to the forest

fullsizerender