My two cents on “Dark Tourism”

(So – I didn’t blog yesterday. I was suffering from an affliction commonly caused by the consumption of red wine. Don’t judge me.)

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I saw the most dreadful thing the other day while watching Netflix’s new series Dark Tourism. I can’t remember which episode it was, but it was the one where he’s in Indonesia attending a funeral ceremony that can be adequately described as… pretty disturbing. To me though, it was horrifying. It was not the fact that the deceased person had been dead for 2 years that bothered me, (the body had been mummified) but rather the sacrificial rituals involving live animals that completely turned my stomach. 

Countless of buffalos and pigs were killed in this ritual, by locals chasing them around a small yard and stabbing them to death with knives while the poor animals panicked and tried to get away. Once they were dead, they proceeded with chopping them up on the spot and passing around intestines and meat to be put in a grill of sorts to be cooked. It was, quite literally, a bloodbath.

I’m not joking when I say that there was a small child, probably around the age of 5 or 6, carrying a brain in his hands, happily shouting to his friends. Am I weird for finding this so revolting?

I know I’m a hypocrite, like many others, for being concerned about animals yet still eat meat. I was actually a vegetarian for over 3 years, but it didn’t work out in the end because of health issues. At least I try to make sure that the meat I buy is ethically produced.

Ok, so the brain thing is morbid, plain and simple, but I guess it’s viable when you think of the differences in culture and society. The reason why I and so many others would find this so revolting is that we aren’t used to this kind of thing. I suppose anything can be ok when you look at it like that – but does that make it right? Does that make it ethical?

As soon as you enter “religion/culture/tradition” territory, you’re in trouble. People are very protective of their traditions, ourselves included, but one would hope that seeing them from an outsiders’ perspective might induce a bit of critical thinking. Especially since the presenter David Farrier couldn’t even stay throughout the ritual, he had to get away from all the squealing and death. It was obvious how offputting he found it, and hopefully, some of the locals would have noticed that too. If his reaction could create even the smallest doubt regarding their treatment of animals, then at least I would consider it (more) justified.

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Fickle friend, thy name is inspiration

Perhaps the term “friend” is somewhat inaccurate. In my case, it’s like an old acquaintance that comes and goes without warning, that can bring gifts yet can easily take them away again, and if she’s in a really foul mood she can cause a terrible despair that not even chocolate can cure. Those days, she usually overstays her welcome.

Goodness, it sounds really awful when you put it into words like that.

But sometimes, the timing of her arrival is so perfect it might as well have been planned beforehand. Sometimes, she comes with high spirits, she is excited and full of exuberant ideas. Best of all is when those two combine. Those days, sadly, she can’t stay long enough.

It’s strange how the smallest, most unexpected of things can trigger a visit from inspiration. Earlier this week, I bought myself a new planner/notebook on a whim and it’s had the most intense effect on me. As I sat down and planned my tasks and goals for the week, I was hit by excitement and renewed motivation, and I ended up following my plan to the letter. Perhaps this is obvious to everyone else out there, but I found that it’s much better to have your goal planning in physical writing, rather than digital. It’s far too easy to ignore a document on your computer, or simply delete or change things you don’t feel like doing. It doesn’t work that way with a physical planner – if you don’t want to do something you have to actively ignore it; which automatically defeats the purpose of even having a planner! I’m sold. This is my new thing now, and it is my highest hope that it will help me make great progress with my manuscript. In fact, I expect it to.

On turning 29

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now only one year away from turning thirty, and oddly enough, this doesn’t worry me at all. It’s amazing how one’s view on a subject can change so much over time. I used to be terrified of getting older – because I had this strange illusion that my age had to reflect my life experience, that I, somehow, had to earn my age.

I had a bit of a rough start in my 20’s. I started working a job that I didn’t like (simply to be able to pay rent), and I ended up staying there for three years. Getting that monthly paycheck was a comfortable security and I was too scared to jeopardize that. Besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life… but each year that passed only increased my worries. Seeing people around me getting degrees, fancy jobs and travel the world gave me intense anxiety at times. I was only about twenty-three, yet I already felt like a failure. It’s ridiculous to think about that now when I know everything turned out ok – I feel proud of my achievements during my 20’s.

Screenshot_2018-08-07 Arnella Hobler ( arnellahobler) • Foton och videoklipp på Instagram

Me being a good adult and baking my own birthday cake

It’s important to understand that things rarely just happen on their own. With the risk of sounding like a cliché – we are the protagonists of our own lives, and no one would want to read the book if the main character never goes on any adventure. While the definition of “adventure” is highly relative, the idea is that we make the choices that move our story forward.

Closing in on the three year mark on my boring job, I got an opportunity in my lap. My boyfriend at the time had got a new job that would take him to Luxemburg, a tiny country crammed between France, Germany and Belgium. I was asked if I wanted to move there with him. This was the very thing that I had always been afraid of; travelling to unknown places, leaving security behind, having uncertain plans… all of that was the stuff of nightmares for me, yet I was so miserable where I was, that I still made the choice of going.

So I quit my job and got a one-way ticket to Luxemburg. It was complete madness, no one but my bohemian mother thought it was a good idea. My friends didn’t take it seriously, they thought I’d be home again, begging for my old job back within a few weeks. I had taken all my savings and left my only security to make this work. Thankfully, it did. I ended up staying for 2,5 years; I got a job at a life insurance company where I made three times more than my old salary, I made new friends, made myself a new life with experiences that changed and affected me in all sorts of ways – all because of one choice.

It might be worth thinking about that the next time you’re at a crossroads in life. Taking the leap and going so far outside your comfort zone you can’t even see it anymore might actually reward you in the most unexpected ways. Sure, I’m back in Sweden since a few years now, but here I am, just turned twenty-nine, and pretty content with how I got here. It isn’t at all about “earning” your age. As long as you relax and recognise the opportunities that present themselves, then your age will automatically correspond with the life you’ve lived, and will continue to do so for the years that are still ahead of you.

The farm and the castle

It’s been a pretty busy weekend. My boyfriend and I went to visit his uncle who has a farm at Österlen (a region in the south coast of Sweden). It’s wonderful to get away from the city from time to time, but it has been a bit too much of that recently. I feel no shame at all in saying that I’m ready to get a bit too comfortable in my couch in the upcoming weeks.

On our way there, we decided to go and visit Svaneholm Slott, a renaissance castle situated by a beautiful lake. It’s also a museum, so naturally I had to go and see it.

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Svaneholm Castle

I was thoroughly impressed, to say the least. Often times, countryside castles have very limited exhibitions, sometimes only by guided tour as well, so it was a pleasant surprise to find such a big exhibition. Fun fact; as you can see on the photo above, the architectural style is different on the left and right side of the building. That’s because the left side dates back to the 1500s, while the right side is an addition from around 1700.

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Me by the lake

I don’t know about you, but I simply love creepy castle ghost stories. When adding a bit of mystery to the history, it becomes all the more engaging. I was therefore delighted to find a spooky chamber (very spooky indeed) in the basement. I was far too creeped out to enter it, so I sent Oskar inside to snap some photos of the ghost stories that were featured while I stood rooted at the entrance, staring at a veiled mannequin in the corner.

Svaneholm is said to be haunted by many mysterious, ghostly figures. Over the centuries, reports have been made of a white lady with dark curls, a man in dark clothing with a cape, even a lady in a black veil that has been mistaken for a real person. I have of course checked every one of my 84 photos from that day, and all of them are ghost free. I’m not sure whether I’m relieved or disappointed by this. While I relish in the eerieness of things like this, it still takes multiple glasses of wine before I enter any haunted house at a carnival. It’s a complicated relationship.

Overall, it was a very pleasant weekend, but I’m also glad to be home and to stay home for at least a few weeks now, which makes it a lot easier to stay on top of my editing, Youtube, blogging, drawing etc., so I’m looking forward to that.

Thoughts on maturity and writing ambitions

Let me tell you a little story about a young, naïve girl who wanted to be a writer. She had been writing a lot throughout her childhood, creating stories mostly for her own enjoyment, but with that inevitable dream of one day making that into a career. If you haven’t figured it out already, that girl was me.

Writing a novel is insanely hard, I realised. The years went on, and many unfinished projects eventually became one finished. I was eighteen, fresh out of high school with the intellectual and emotional maturity of a teenager – and the apparent self-confidence of five adults. With support from my mum and one teacher I sent my manuscript off to the publishers. Naturally, it was rejected.

It was a devastating blow for me. My confidence broke down completely and I stopped writing for quite some time. It took me years to realise that I wasn’t in fact a bad writer. I was just an immature one.

As a teenager, everything needs to happen quickly – there’s no patience for any slow-paced development. I would dive head first into any skill that I wanted to learn, and I wanted to master it immediately. At fifteen, I wanted to start sewing my own clothes, so I got a sewing machine and enough fabric to make me a dress. I was completely overwhelmed and never finished the project. A bit later I had a similar experience with oil painting, and the huge canvas gathered dust in my room for years before I eventually threw it out. Judging by this, it was hardly suprising to anyone that I also wanted to be a published author before turning twenty.

It doesn’t work that way. I had made a habit of rushing into things that I wasn’t ready for, and even worse, expecting to be brilliant at without a learning curve. Starting small was out of the question, what sort of achievement would that be? In retrospect, I needed the wake-up call that was the rejection of my book.

So, I took some years off in regards to my writing ambition. I started working, moved to another country, began studies at uni and filled my life with new experiences, travelling and adventures. I also learned some hard lessons of grief, poverty, heartbreak and what to do in desperate situations. I guess the hardest lesson of them all is that you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’ve really suffered, and managed to fix it all on your own. (That is an achievement to be proud of.)

In five days time I’ll be turning twenty-nine. It has been ten years since my first manuscript was rejected. A little while back, I finished the first draft of a new novel. It took me six months, and will most likely take even longer to edit – and I’m ok with that.

With self-publishing becoming more and more popular, teenage writers now have the opportunity that I didn’t ten years ago – to publish their books themselves, traditional publishers be damned. I’m not saying that maturity is required to be a writer. But I think most writers would agree with me in that it’s very hard to be a convincing writer before you’ve actually lived a little (and of course, there are always exceptions).

I might be stepping on some toes here, but it’s just my opinion based on my own experience. If anyone feels differently, I have nothing against a healthy, respectful discussion.

When an indoorsy writer-person sets sail. On the sea. For five days.

Sure, I like the occasional walk or picnic just like the next person (I’m human, after all) and I might even enjoy a short hike if the conditions are ideal. But generally speaking, I prefer the indoors, cuddling up with my dog, fav blanket and laptop on my couch. With snacks.

Now that I’ve said this, one could easily understand how different this was for me, going for a sailing trip for 5 days, harbour to harbour, living and sleeping on the boat. It wasn’t my first time sailing, far from it, but it was the first time on this scale. Now before you get any ideas, it wasn’t nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either (obviously). We had 4 trips in total, 2 of which made me both cry and scream, and not in a comical sort of way where you can just laugh it off.

The ocean can be a really scary place, especially when it sends big waves your way just to see you suffer. As the boat was rocking wildly from side to side, each wave splashing onto the deck, all rationality abandoned me as I hid my head between my knees and screamed. It’s interesting how, when fear takes over, you can’t seem to think or evaluate the situation anymore. You act on instinct rather than conscious thought.

It did eventually get better though, as we moved closer to our destination that day. That was also when we saw 2 porpoise(s?) jumping through the water about 4-5 metres from our boat. It was incredibly surreal to find oneself so close to these wild creatures, without thick glass between us, and not as part of a tourist excursion. I know there are people to whom this would be a regular occurrence and whatnot, but like I said, I’m an indoorsy person. I will cherish that moment as something special.

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View from our boat at the harbour of Borstahusen, Sweden.

Being completely honest, though, I did really enjoy this trip for the most part. We had an excellent time swimming (once we were docked, of course), walking through the villages looking at the picturesque little houses, as well as enjoying freshly caught seafood.

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 Our pomeranian Niles, enjoying a nap below decks. Oddly enough, he handled the sailing much better than I did.

This post turned out far longer than I’d expected, especially since I’m tired beyond belief (we came home today) and my living room feels like it’s rocking from side to side. That’s a really strange side-effect, I have to admit. Kind of like being drunk, but with a clear head. I’m hoping it goes away soon, as I’m planning on filming my next Youtube video in the upcoming days.

I think that’s all for me for now.

Good night

Doodles & Travel preparations

The last couple of days have been rather pleasant. I’ve gotten some work done on my manuscript – I’m currently editing chapter 3 (second draft). I always get anxious when I haven’t looked at it for a few days in a row, and thanks to the tragedy that was my video editing adventure, I fell behind quite a lot on that. So it feels great to be back on track again.

On a different note, I also got to try out my new pigment liner pens. Every since I got Skillshare, I’ve been wanting to develop my water colouring as well as drawing skill, preferably together. I used to be really good at drawing, but it is definitely a skill you need to maintain in order to keep sharp. I have been playing around with the idea of making some concept art for my manuscript using water colours, but I will need to practice a bit before I feel ready to dive into that.

 

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My doodles!

I’ve also been doing some preparations for our upcoming sailing trip! Indeed, we will be going out early tomorrow morning, aiming to be away for about 5 days. We’ve never been away longer than 24hrs on that boat before, so it was kind of tricky to do the meal planning – especially since we don’t have a fridge. But I think I got it covered with lots of whole grain biscuits, fruits and bread with marmelade for breakfast. We do have a small cooker, so we can heat up canned soups or boil water for noodles for lunch as long as we’re docked in a port (would be pretty dangerous to cook while out at sea). Thankfully, we plan on eating out for dinner. And beer, we’ve also bought a lot of beer, so now we know we’re all set.

I’m not sure whether I’ll be updating my blog while we’re away. I did get the WordPress app, so I know I should be able to, but technology is not exactly my forté. I’m also not sure how my internet connection will be once we get to our main destination – the island of Ven between Sweden and Denmark. But I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a lot of fun with plenty of quality time with Oskar and our dog Niles, with fresh, sea air as well as some island hiking.

Me and the uphill climb that is editing software – a tragedy in two parts

This is what I get for trash talking my previous video editing software – the new one isn’t working for me. At all.

I think it’s a combination of me being generally incompetent and my computer being, well, ancient. Apparently, these programs tend to require a lot of your computer (how was I supposed to know that?) and mine simply can’t take the pressure. I came to this conclusion after struggling for an embarrassing amount of hours to get my video ready, while the program was actively working against me and my intentions. Eventually, I had to give up.

So now I’m moderately surly, comforting myself with some chocolate while I think about how to deal with this situation. As a result, I won’t be uploading a video today, or even this week, since we’re planning on going on a sailing trip within a couple of days. I know there’s no harm in that, as my Youtube channel is still just a “baby”, but it does feel a bit disappointing since I had planned on posting a video every week from the start.

Oh, well. Things like this happen from time to time, especially when trying out something new. (There has been about a half hour between the first couple of paragraphs and this one, btw, meaning that I’m out of chocolate and my mood is somewhat improved.)

Guilty pleasures galore!

The tapas was magnificent, thanks for asking.

Today, I find myself (not) enjoying the consequences of yesterday’s feast. I am however of the opinion that the occasional decadence is never a bad thing, and since my hangover is the result of a very pleasant evening, it would be contradictory of me to complain. So I won’t.

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This is the view from our balcony, where said feast took place yesterday evening. Although the camera couldn’t capture the exact ambiance of this summer sunset, it’s still a very cosy photo.

I had planned on editing my next video today (indeed, I managed to film it yesterday – hence all the prosecco), but alas, I don’t think I’ll be able to. I have only just switched to another video editing program, and I still find it horribly uncooperative. I am somewhat of a dyslectic when it comes to all things technical – so you can imagine my struggle. It was a necessary change, though, as my old one didn’t have enough features to make decent quality videos (that’s what you get for choosing software with the skill level requirement of a toddler).

Therefore, I have come to terms with the fact that today won’t be as productive as yesterday. I’m thinking Netflix, lots of elderberry juice and perhaps fried bacon for dinner.

Morning task planning

I’m drinking my morning Earl Grey, meaning my brain hasn’t completely woken up yet, but I still felt like blogging for a bit. So, today should be a productive day (I know, the horror — just kidding I love getting things done).

  • I will finish up the script for my next Youtube video
  • … and hopefully there will be time to film it as well
  • have to wash my hair first though because it looks like a birds nest
  • afterwards I have to head to the grocery store because I have a huge tapas craving that needs to be satisfied
  • might want to get some alcohol too while I’m at it – it is Monday after all
  • … and then I must do some other stuff like walking the dog, cleaning etc., and then my dad will stop by to pick up some moving boxes (we have 38 of them that we can’t wait to get rid of)

If I manage to get through this list today, I’m fully justified deserve to get tipsy on prosecco.

Anyway, today is also the day when my boyfriend comes back from a week long sailing trip, and what better way to welcome him home than by a nice tapas dinner, and a clean girlfriend? Not that I’ve been relishing in my own filth during his absence, but there has been some laziness in the shaving department.

It is now a little past 10am, and I just finished my tea. I can’t think of any reason not to, so I suppose now would be a good time to start.