The state of my dad

It’s been a while, I know. Then again I never committed to doing this on a regular basis, but rather to keep it as a sort of outlet for myself. To write for me instead of for others to read. And even if I’m super bad at venting about my own problems and stuff, even I have my limits to how much I can take on before I break. I’ve been carrying something around inside for a while now, and I think it’s time to let it out. My dad’s health hasn’t been very good in some time. He has type 2 diabetes, and while that isn’t too bad (relatively), it can be serious if you don’t manage it properly.

Earlier this year both mom and dad got a really bad case of the flu, and at the same time dad was hospitalized due to severe pneumonia. This somehow seems to have messed with his insulin dosage, and before it was sorted out he ended up being in a car accident. From what I’ve understood he got really confused due to his blood sugar levels being way off because of the now “faulty” insulin dosage. Thankfully nobody got hurt in the accident, but the car got really banged up and because of the accident dad’s license got pulled.

To continue, my dad isn’t very good at managing his diabetes. He doesn’t doesn’t always eat regularly and a lot of the time he doesn’t eat very well. I’m glad at least mom’s there to make sure he does eat better than he has before, but whatever.

This summer I decided to only use two weeks of my vacation, and I spent it mostly at my folks’ place in my old hometown Borås. When I was there mom let me know that dad had what Google Translate says is renal failure. I won’t pretend to know what that means, other than it involves kidneys and isn’t a positive thing. And on top of that I saw how frail my dad has become lately. Gets winded easily etc. I guess it might partly have to do with him getting older, he turns 66 in less than a month.

Anyway, a few weeks ago he was getting a checkup for the renal failure thing, taking tests or whatever, and they noticed something in his urinary bladder. Which turned out to be a tumor. Mom called me at the end of my work day that day, it was a Monday. What a way to start the week. But I digress. Mom further told me that they didn’t know much more at the time but that he would be prioritized for surgery. They didn’t know if it was a benign or malignant tumor. If it’s spread or not.

And this week mom called me again to let me know that my dad’s finally gotten scheduled for surgery on the 22nd this month. And on the 15th he’s going in for a pre-operation checkup or something. I guess that’s where we find out if it’s just this one tumor or if it’s spread or what’s up. After talking to my mom for a bit she also told me that dad had said that if it turns out to be something serious, that it’s spread, he doesn’t want to go through treatment for it (meaning chemotherapy etc), but that he’d rather live as he is. I guess he remembers how bad it was at times for my grandmother.

Oh, and that’s another thing. My grandmother died from cancer. As I’ve understood it, and I could be wrong here so don’t quote me on this, she had a few different types of cancer. Or maybe it was just one type that spread or something. And some years ago my mom got breast cancer (thankfully it was found early, and she’s all good now). But it really doesn’t feel very hopeful for my future, if you know what I mean. Go team Konc.

And ever since I saw what shape my dad is in this summer I’ve been thinking on and off about the mortality of those close to you. Family members. Especially parents. I mean, of course I know that it’s natural for children to outlive their parents but at the same time… you usually don’t have to think about them passing on. And as both you and they grow older, I guess there comes a point when you’d best start preparing yourself.

Even if my dad’s tumor is benign and the surgery goes really well and his renal failure gets sorted (if it even can “get sorted”), it’s literally only a matter of time, nobody lives forever. And that sort of thinking can be really depressing. And coupled with the fact that my family doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to tumors and cancer, what does it mean for me and my brother?

So yeah, my mind’s been in a dark place this last month or so and I’ve been really emotional. And I’m still struggling with depression from before all this. Or maybe it’s due to it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s what.

How fucked up am I?

This text is something I wrote one late night when I couldn’t sleep, a while back when I was in Ottawa. I’ve edited it ever so slightly since then, so the grammar doesn’t suck, but as a whole, this is what was going on in my head at the time.

Back in 1996 when I was 18 years old, I was in a relationship with a girl from another city. Let’s call her Vixen. 1996 was a before most people had mobile phones and access to the Internet in Sweden. The only way for us to keep in touch was either by phone or by letters. We often used both.

I can’t remember much of how the relationship started. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

Once when she called me, I had my best friend over. Let’s call him Brutus. He was a Finnish guy I’d gone to school with, and we’d grown up together. At that time, we were pretty inseparable, always doing things together. We shared a lot of interests spanning from girls to music, biking, computers, and god knows whatever else.

Regardless, Brutus was over at my place once when she called, and for some reason they ended up talking for a bit on the phone. I can’t remember what about, and again, it doesn’t matter. I do remember her mentioning afterward that she thought he had a hot voice. I didn’t give it much thought, but in hindsight I guess that’s why I dislike my voice these days. I was happy my best friend and girlfriend were getting along.

Shortly after that phone call Vixen came to visit me for the first time. Up until then I’d only visited her, I can’t remember if it was once or twice. She arrived, and Brutus came to hang out with us shortly after that.

As soon as they were in the same room, something changed. They hit it off at once, right there in my room, and right in front of me. I just shut down. I can’t tell you what happened after that. I guess it was my coping mechanism to distance myself from it all, to retreat to the relative safety of my mind.

There are only a few bits and pieces I recall from that time. I know that they had sex. Vixen stayed with me for several days, or rather her things did. She spent all her days with Brutus and only came back to my place to sleep. As soon as she woke up she’d go out again. After a few days of this I think my mom got fed up and had a talk with Vixen. After that, Vixen finally packed her stuff and went to stay with Brutus and his parents instead. I’m not proud of being too weak to have that talk with Vixen myself.

I think this is what changed me from being a kind of outgoing guy to someone who spends most of the time quiet, pondering on most things.

As a result of this I have serious trust issues. Unfortunately, this also applies to my few closest friends. Sometimes especially my closest friends. For example, a little while ago I had an online flirt with a girl I played games with a lot. It was only something casual and fun, and we both knew nothing would ever come of it. One time she said something flirtatious to Bumbi, who replied in kind. That was enough to launch a red alert panic mode in me, and an immediate retreat inwards.

On top of it all I am insecure. I run all possible scenarios in my head about just about everything. There are always more negative than positive scenarios running in my head. I guess we’re all stuck with the one wolf we choose to feed.

“She snapped at me. Is she mad at me? Did I do something wrong?”

“She’s barely touched me in a couple of days. Is she tired of me? Is she disgusted with me? What did I do wrong? Does she want me to leave?”

“She’s gone to bed clothed again. Is she cold? Doesn’t she want to undress while I’m here? Should I go to bed clothed? Is she disgusted with me?”

“I miss holding her, touching her. Should I? What if she doesn’t want me to. What if she hates it. What if she can’t wait until I go home.”

I’ve been debating for a while whether I want to share this with anyone else, seeing how my Ottawa trip turned out after I wrote the text. Finally decided to just do it, and let this be part of The Purge of things that haunt me from my past.

Giving away a great album for free is hard!

It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling less than stellar lately, so last Wednesday I spontaneously decided I wanted to share one of my favorite albums with other people. Sharing is caring, right? So I tweeted out that I was going to gift ten copies of Austin Wintory’s Journey soundtrack on Bandcamp. So far, only two have asked. It makes me a little sad because it’s a fantastic album. And free! In hindsight, I’ve spotted at least one mistake I made. This is what the initial tweet said.

I realize now that I could’ve been clearer on how people can claim a copy, i.e. mentioning that they should ask me for one on Twitter. Also, by only providing a link to the album on Bandcamp I’m thinking people might’ve looked there for ways to claim a copy. Sadly, the 140 character limit of a tweet doesn’t let you convey much information for giveaways (or anything at all, really). On a positive note, I think I managed to make Austin Wintory’s day a little bit better.

So, how can I do better next time, should I want to do another giveaway on Twitter? Well, I guess I could split the message into multiple tweets. Not a perfect solution by any means, but other options do I have?

I’ve tried to tweet out a couple of reminders, but I don’t want to appear spammy, and I’ve gotten a bunch of retweets to boost the tweet’s visibility. And still I’m getting little to no response! What the hell am I doing wrong?

Also, if you want a copy of this album I have eight seven no copies left to give away. I’ll update the number as it decreases. I ended up gifting fifteen copies in total. 🙂

Right now I’m hurting, but I’m going to be okay!

I basically suck at expressing the turmoil going on inside me, and I don’t have a good outlet for it so instead I just turn inward. Part of the reason I set up this website is because I’m trying to find a way to vent some of the things I’ve pent up over time. Another reason is quite simply that I want to become better at writing! So this is me starting the Big Purge. Looking back not too long ago, less than a year, things were going well in my life. Granted, I wasn’t very happy with my day job, but I had a lot of other things to make up for it. Friends both online that I talked to and played games with regularly, and ones that I hung out with AFK. I was part of an amazing community, and I had some plans for the future, things I wanted to do.

Things change, though, and quite often not in ways you want them to change. A lot has happened in this last year, and I feel I’ve lost my way. Lost my place in the community, and my sense of purpose. Even lost myself a bit.

I still love the 42nd community immensely, I just don’t know where I belong in it. Earlier I knew what I was doing, and I knew my role in it. Now I’m standing on the sidelines, replaced. Like I’m not needed for anything anymore.

Friends, well, the group of people I used to play with on a regular basis kind of drifted apart. I still play with one or two semi-regularly, but others have mostly moved on to servers I simply can’t play on due geographical limitations.

I still see my AFK friends now and then, but my periods of depression have made me more of a recluse.

As previously mentioned I had plans to visit a girl in Ottawa. Well, I went. And unfortunately it didn’t work out too well. I’m still a bit broken up about it even though it’s been a month now since I got back home. I may write more in depth about it, or I might not. We’ll see what happens.

Overall I’m sad and lonely, and sometimes I’m just emotionally drained. Right now I’m hurting, but I’m going to be okay!

How do I start writing down my idea for a story?

At PAX East 2014 I had an idea for a story I wanted to write, loosely inspired by DayZ adventures witnessed and imagined. Over the last year, I’ve tried but I just can’t seem to get it out of my head and put into words. The idea is like a tantalizing mist; I can see it, but it’s not substantial enough for me to grab hold of and do something with it. Not being able to move past the most basic outline of this project frustrates me very much, and I don’t know how to proceed from here. I guess I need to learn storytelling, how to structure and build a story and things like that.

A post of firsts and what-ifs

As of right now I only have one work day left before I go on vacation again, and come Monday I fly out to Ottawa to be with my girl. It will be a trip of firsts; my first time in Canada, first time I visit her, meeting her friends for the first time. And then there’s my first poutine. Maybe I’ll see my first NHL game live and so on. Needless to say I’m very excited about most of these things and quite nervous regarding a few. At the same I can feel my demons filling my head with uncertainty. What if she changes her mind, or she doesn’t want you to come. What if ten days is too long. What if she figures out she doesn’t like you. What if her friends hate you? What if you’re there a couple of days and things just don’t work out?

When the thoughts get overwhelming, I sometimes need to remind myself just to breathe. Thank you for that, Ze Frank!

Why I’ve moved on from Ghost

I liked the hosted Ghost blog platform and being able to write things using markdown, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being stuck in a cramped space that comes with not having full access. I felt exactly the same way each time before I’ve done the switch from iOS to Android (three times so far).

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V

So, I’m back with WordPress now.  By using this self-hosted platform, I can basically do whatever I want whenever I want. I’ve been here before, and it’s familiar territory.

Now you might ask “But why don’t you host a Ghost blog yourself?” and it’s a very good question. I tried doing exactly that a couple of times, but the setup isn’t as straight forward as installing WordPress. And I’m not even sure if self-hosted Ghost has plugin support the way WordPress does, once again I want to be able to customize things my own way. Oh, and I’m really lazy. 😉

The next thing on my to-do list is to find a theme I feel I can live with because I really don’t like the way the default theme looks.

Depression in March

So here’s the thing, I’ve got issues. Occasional spouts of depression caused by irrational thoughts due to past bad experiences. Big trust issues. Abandonment issues. My personal demons love all those things, and especially to twist my thoughts into something ugly. A couple of weeks ago the trigger was something as silly as the people I play games with on the weekends playing on a server that I can’t join due to geographical limitations. I know it doesn’t mean anything, but try telling me that when I’m neck deep in depression.

What happened was not quite unlike the scene in LotR: The Two Towers where we can see the Gollum and Smeagol personalities talk to each other.

Inner dialogs can be a bitch, especially when the negative side wins. Things usually go back to normal after a few days, but what if these depression episodes (for a lack of better word) never had to happen? For that to happen, I don’t really know how to get to that point.

I remember exactly when most of these issues can be traced back to, how a best friend and a past girlfriend hooked up basically right in front of me. Something inside me broke that day, large parts of who I was back then simply shut down. To this day, almost 20 years later, I’m still having a hard time even thinking about it, much less expressing my thoughts and feelings with words.

PAX East 2015 at a glance

This year, unlike last year when there was really nice weather in Boston for PAX East, there was snow and freezing weather. It actually wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be, I didn’t have to dress any warmer than I have all winter here in Stockholm. The PAX expo itself felt smaller somehow this year, I guess because some big companies like Ubisoft weren’t there. I guess also because GDC was just before PAX, and presumably going straight from one (event, and coast) to the other (event, and coast) made things difficult. Hopefully next year it will be better, seeing how PAX East will happen on April 22-24.

The people were wonderful as always, I can’t help but feel that they are “my people”. Mah peeps. Always good company and fun times spent with them.

The food, don’t even get me started. So good. The last day a bunch of us went out towards the Harvard campus and Andrew took us to an excellent sushi place. Hands down the best sushi I’ve had to date! There were five of us sharing $200 worth of sushi, so you know nobody had to walk away hungry.

And I met someone. Actually, technically we did meet last year, a friend of a friend kind of thing. We’ve kept in touch over the last year, and when we met in Boston this year we just clicked. But that’s a whole different story to be told some other time.

Demons

Demons. We’ve all got them. The voices in the back of our heads that feed off our insecurities, and that whisper to us seductively as they’re chipping away at our sanity, our confidence, at the very core of our beings.