Grief, Personal, writing

Time love, it’s only a change of time: 2016

the end of a year always feels like a true new beginning. but before the new begins, i want to reflect on what 2016 taught me. so here’s what i’ve learned:

getting to the end of your twenties feels a lot like freedom.

Finland in the summer is made of incomprehensible beauty.

cats are weird. i already knew this, but 2016 has made it more apparent.

political grief is a real thing, but neither brexit nor trump’s presidential nomination will be the worst thing to ever happen to you, nor to the western politics. you are privileged. keep moving forward, don’t let them shake your values, don’t let them take away your belief in the goodness of the world & the people in it.

food is complicated. living according to ones moral beliefs & values is complicated. your best effort is enough.

grief is a lot like fear (as C.S Lewis once wrote). grief is weird.

unthinkable loss brings out the best in some people. the amount of love is astonishing.

yet. some people will fail you. you can choose to hold it against them, or you can choose to understand that death scares people, you can choose to forgive.

loss of a parent makes you feel abandoned.

books can mend you. and they will.

moving abroad is filled with so much bureaucratic shit you will never be afraid of it again.

people are kind.

there’s incomprehensible beauty everywhere in the world.

living abroad is just living. you will change, but only gradually, only in ways you experience. to others you will remain the same. your life will also stay the same. you will still remain you. and that’s a good thing.

you should always try to see live music. it is the purest form of joy there is.

you will endure. and you will heal.

so here’s to 2017. i could hope for less pain and turmoil, but that is not how the universe works. the universe gives and takes the way it pleases. and all we can do is endure, learn and heal. so from 2017 i wish Love, adventure and as always, opporturnities to grow.

I’m inside with my friends
We build fires and pretend
That the night could just bend on forever
While outside in the frost
Are the wolves and the lost
And we sing to the dogs or whoever
Singing don’t let me into this year with an empty heart
With an empty heart
Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart
Josh Ritter – Empty Hearts

xx Satu

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Grief, Personal, writing

Careless man’s careful daughter – thoughts on one father-daughter relationship in the midst of grief.

I was never a perfect daughter. I let my parents be sick with worry while I’d be running around like a wild child, associating with people I really shouldn’t have. I didn’t ask permission; to alter my appearances in ways that would leave permanent marks on my body, to what kind of boys I should or should not kiss. I didn’t have a curfew but if I did, I would have failed to follow it. Ever since I was young, I made sure my parents knew that I was in charge of my own existence. I knew how to dress myself on a cold winter day or what was a proper bedtime for a 10-year old. I made it very clear from a young age that I was going to travel the world and get as far away as possible from the small city, in the tiny country I grew up in. I was stubborn as shit. (I still am.) And for the first 25 years of my life, I believed I was inherently different from everyone in my family. I was adventurous, wild and independent.

I was never a perfect daughter, yet I longed for perfect parents. I ran around like a wild child and blamed my parents when they couldn’t tame me. I hold grudges on the tiniest things so long they grew into something big and heavy and hard to carry. There’s probably nothing special in this story, a kid wants the perfect parents and yet judges them more harshly than anyone or anything else in the world. Thus the parents, due to being just humans, fail by default. Isn’t that what we all do? And then we grow up. By the time I hit my mid-twenties I started to not only recognized my own faults as a daughter (I did not believe to be a perfect person, but before I had never really thought about my own personal responsibility in my relationship with my parents) and the humanity of my parents. I learned to forgive, myself as well as my mom and my dad.

I believe this is one of the fundamental journeys we take in our twenties, the shifting relationship with our parents from simply daughters and sons of mothers and fathers to something more equal. What happens in our thirties? I don’t know yet, I haven’t reached that far. What happens when one of your parents dies in the midst of your twenties? Well, I’m trying to figure that out.

My dad died last August. Two weeks later I packed my belongings in an unnecessarily big suitcase and moved a thousand miles from home to a new & strange country where I will be living until next summer. My grief didn’t fit in the suitcase, my grief inhabits the entirety of my world. It didn’t sit next to me on the plane, it was the air we flew through. I doesn’t sleep on the floor next to my bed crawled into ball, it is the fog that surrounds this whole city. I am not a perfect daughter, and I’m trying to let go of the regret of not being so.

My dad was not a perfect father. If I try to sum up our relationship, the first thing that comes to my mind is a Taylor Swift lyric, in which she sings “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.” Despite proclaiming to be independent and adventurous, paradoxically I have always been overly careful and anxious too. I used to relate to this lyric by thinking all the people in my life I believed had made me that rebel, the boys I kissed at thirteen, the girls I called my sisters. But the truth is, that rebel has always lived within me. I didn’t run around like a wild child because someone else made me so. I didn’t proclaim to be independent from my family since I could talk because I was different than them, I was like that because I am the careless man’s careful daughter, because I am the not-so-perfect-daughter of my not-so-perfect-father. If I am like anyone else in this world, I am the near-perfect image of my dad. This is what I realized on the day he died. I found myself staring at the bathroom mirror, trying to find a hint of the father I had just lost within myself.

What I realized then, is that we don’t just look alike, but that everything I thought was so different and unique about me were exactly the things I had such a difficulty to accept in my dad. If I am adventurous, wild and independent, it’s because that’s who my dad was. My dad was a restless man, always on top of a motorcycle, traveling around the country. When my parents were younger, my mom would travel with him, but when they became parents of three children, my mother stayed home when my dad could go on adventures for days or weeks at a time. My dad needed his independence, it was at the core of his existence and he was incredibly stubborn about it. Just like I have always been, proclaiming I was old enough to do what I wanted when I was barely a teenager and definitely did not know how (or didn’t want) to make the best life decisions.

I am restless and stubborn in the exact ways my dad was. I write this sitting a thousand miles away from my family during a time in my life when I desperately need them close to me. But I just don’t know how not to be stubborn as shit. I made a decision to study abroad and then life fell apart. I couldn’t let go of the parts of me that make me my father’s daughter. He would have gone, I thought. He always did go whenever his restless, rebellious existence demanded so. And so I did too. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the two months as a half-orphan, is that I carry my father with me wherever I go. That it was him all along who made me a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter. And that despite of our shortcomings, I am grateful of my imperfect father and the flawed, wild daughter he raised me to be.

– Satu

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Culture, Feminism, Hip Hop, Music, Racism, Society, writing

I made that bitch famous: Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift – or the issues of black humility and female ego.

I don’t really bother with celebrity gossip. I can see the appeal of the escapism aspect of it, but I prefer to escape the realities of our world in other ways. Yet I surprisingly found myself having discussions with people about the Taylor Swift – Kanye West feud over and over again. Probably because I’m a loud and proud fan of both Taylor and Kanye. I remember secretly dancing to Taylor Swift’s first album, back when she was still that obnoxiously innocent, curly haired America’s country sweetheart (secretly cause I was still young and stupid with my weird music snobbery). And Kanye West was a huge part of my ‘hip hop awakening’, a time in my life when I realized that first of all, not all hip hop is about violence, money and women, and second of all, that me, a person who loves language, poetry and wordplay should absolutely be listening to hip hop!

So, as has been established, I love both artists fiercely. I believe they have both made significant contributions to their respective genres and music in general. Taylor Swift is one of the most successful female artist of not just our time but in the history of modern music. As a young female artist, she has broken more class ceilings than I can count. Kanye West re-shaped hip hop in the early 2000’s and has continued to be not only one of the most influential hip hop artists of our generation, but also unstoppable creative force in his other endeavors.

Then, here’s the question I get asked again and again; Whose side are you on? The answer is neither, or both. Actually, I don’t think the actual feud is the most interesting thing about this conflict. But the short answer to the question is, I understand both sides. I honestly think this has been a case of hurt feelings and miscommunication (add a hint of ego and you got a feud). What’s interesting to me is the conversation around this situation and what it might mean on a deeper level.

Kim Kardashian West herself said that the reason why she wanted to release those videos was the fact that her husband Kanye gets so much shit thrown at his way all the time, that when this one time she had proof that he was in the right, she decided to defend him. Understandable. And that’s the thing, Kanye West is enormously hated (as is Taylor Swift, but we’ll get to that). Part of it is definitely just the fact that the more successful and well-known you are, more people will not just like you but also dislike you. But there seems to be some special permission to hate Kanye West. Sure, he is kind of obnoxious and acts like a jackass, but so do a lot of people (especially celebrities) and they don’t get nearly as much hate as Kanye does. I think that for some there is just something inherently uncomfortable about a black man who is unashamedly proud, little egotistical and who speaks his mind. We have plenty of egotistical artists that people don’t hate in the way they hate Kanye, but the thing is, most of these people are white. Us white people are seen as complex beings, if we are arrogant we also get to be humble. As a black person one has to embody humility. The way Kanye West is hated for being self-important and proud just embodies out society’s view on people of color in a larger context. Just look at the cases of police brutality, where humility is a defense mechanism (yet it doesn’t guarantee one’s safety. Anything short from it is viewed as a threat and used as an excuse to justify the unnecessary force.

Just like the discussion surrounding Kanye West can be seen representing a larger societal context, and systematic racism, the discussion surrounding Taylor Swift then can be looked at from a feminist point of view. First of all, I would point out how interestingly Kanye West is egotistical yet women rarely are spoken about in that same tone. Women presumably don’t have egos. Oh, but we do, and Taylor Swift’s ego is just as real as Kanye’s. Furthermore, just as Kanye’s self-assurance makes people uncomfortable, so does Taylor’s success. A woman’s success is a threat to patriarchy, just as black confidence is a threat to white supremacy. Similarly, I found it kind of funny that #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trended on Twitter. As I pointed out before, white men get to do far worse things than lie, or be arrogant. We have celebrities who have prominent careers in music, film etc. who have knowingly been violent towards women, who have made extremely racist remarks and so on. Yet no one’s celebrating their careers being over. In fact, most white men get to keep their careers despite the scandals.

Now I’m not saying that disliking Kanye or Taylor is automatically racist or sexist. You get to feel whatever you want, but the larger conversation surrounding celebrities is definitely a mirror of our society’s values. If we always react with discomfort towards self-assured black men and successful women, then we better look back at ourselves and ask the question why does this make me uncomfortable. By looking at the larger context and seeking to understand our initial reactions to issues we can not only find the reasons but maybe find answers to how to change those reactions. Maybe we get to learn how to see all people as complex beings. If we need to stay as celebrity obsessed society, maybe we need to start viewing these celebrities as fully human. And more importantly, as a society we need to accept and value the humanity and complexity of all races and genders.

Now, about the actually feud and picking sides, I’d say Taylor could learn something from Kanye’s unabashed honesty. And maybe Kanye could use his influence to affect the overall issue of sexism within hip hop, starting with himself and his lyrics referring to women as “that bitch”.

-Satu

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vegetarianism, writing

Being gray: thoughts on veganism

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost three years. If you’d known me even five years ago, my sudden dietary change would most likely confuse you. it’s not that I was ever a meat lover, quite the opposite. I used to have a very narrow diet. I was fearful of meat and only ate very specific kind (mostly minced or chicken). I didn’t like vegetables and ate very few fruits. I never really liked food. I had a very neurotic relationship with food and a very unhealthy relationship with eating. Although I never liked most foods, I always had trouble with eating. My relationship with eating was a roller-coaster of bingeing and starvation, which reflected on my weight that would go up, up and then little down and up again.

In early 2014 I suddenly stopped eating meat, and by meat I mean all meat; red meat, chicken, and fish. It was a choice that I had been wanting to make for years. I didn’t want to contribute to the meat industry or over fishing, I wanted my food choices to reflect my ethical and philosophical beliefs. But until 2014 I had not been able to do so. Because I was afraid, I was afraid of narrowing my diet further and I was even more afraid of failure. If I decided to become a vegetarian then that would mean there’d be more rules to my eating and if I failed to follow those rules, I’d be a failure. Eating was already a very guilt ridden activity for me, I was afraid to give myself more ways in which I could fail with food.

Why were things suddenly different in 2014 then? Well, it actually wasn’t a sudden change at all, even if the cutting out meat happened with one single decision. The time was ripe because of combination of things. In the past few years I had started to eat better and a bigger variety of foods (thanks to some new friends who liked to cook with me and introduced me to a whole new world of delicious foods). I had begun a journey to body positivity and started healing from my unhealthy, guilt-ridden relationship with food and my body. I lived on my own for the first time and that meant I had my very own kitchen and more time & space to experiment with food. I was in a safe and secure place to begun my new, meatless journey. Being a vegetarian has really helped me further heal from my food neuroses and eating habits. It has made me more body positive, healthier and overall a happier person.

Well, if vegetarianism has had such a positive impact on my life, why haven’t I gone fully vegan?! Dairy and egg industries are just as cruel to the animals and damaging to the environment as the meat industry. How do I justify my non-veganism when I know this, and claim to not to eat meat because of these exact reasons? The answer is simple, because I’m flawed. Just like all humans are. I still have my issues with eating and food, and I don’t think I will ever get completely rid of them. I have anxiety and suffer from clinic depression, both which affect my eating habits too, and the capacity to always be able to make the ethical choice. I believe choosing what not to eat is a privilege. And I have privilege, of course, but I also have my baggage and just like everyone else, I am just trying to do the best I can.

But does the issue of cutting out animal products have to be a black and white issue? To me the issue is a spectrum, not black and white but with gray areas in between. Veganism is at the one end of that spectrum. It is definitely achievable and attainable to a lot of people, but not necessarily for all. And I don’t believe that just because someone feels like they cannot, for whatever reason, achieve veganism, that they should not try to make the small changes they can. The truth is, every change counts, every effort contributes a little less towards the suffering of animals and our planet. Furthermore, I believe that although veganism is a great form of activism, there also needs to be overall structural changes within out societies and in our world if we ever want to live in a world where us humans, don’t collectively contribute towards the suffering of animals and the destruction of our planet.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as ”a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” I do believe in this philosophy and I haven’t got stuck into my comfortable vegetarianism. Every day I try to make the most ethical choice I can when it comes to my food and other consumer habits. Sometimes it’s easy, and when it’s not, I still am just doing my very best. At the moment I am not myself buying any animal products, even if I occasionally might consume them. Who knows, maybe one day I will be fully vegan. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be a vegetarian, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s a journey, some are able to make that journey with one jump, and others, like me, take a little more time, but I’m on my way.

But for now, I’ll be gray.

– Satu

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writing

What do I give a fuck about?!

I’ve seen this quote People will make time for what they really give a fuck about on social media lately. Or maybe it has been circulating sites like tumblr and instagram for as long as such sites have existed, but lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot. What do I make time for? What do I give a fuck about?

The truth is, I don’t always make time for things I care about. But if I don’t make time for such things, do I then really even give a fuck about them? I know people say life is short, and sadly it sometimes is, but if we live like we expect to be old, then it’s actually really fucking long. Surely it’s limited, which is the very beauty of it, but it’s also, hopefully, 70 to 80 years for you to do and be million different things. Yet time is precious, you really should make time for the things you give a fuck about. But I refuse to think that just because I don’t prioritize something right now, I don’t care about it.

I started this blog before fall semester begun and I have not been very good & active blogger. I want to be. I will try to be. But I am also writing my BA Thesis, trying to improve my Swedish, studying complicated theories related to International Relations, trying to figure out my plans for my exchange year and see at least few people I give a fuck about once a week. Those are the things I prioritize now. I wish I could include more. I wish I could keep my apartment tidier, I wish that instead of waking up early to study I would wake up early and go for a jog. I wish I had time to see friends living afar, or at least have long phone conversations. I wish I could go see movies and bake more. I wish I would have the energy and inspiration and the time to blog more.

Lately I have been giving up on things that I don’t really give a fuck about. I don’t watch much TV anymore. I might watch an episode or two of The West Wing in two weeks, whereas before I could watch a whole season in a weekend. I spend less time online. I do less grocery shopping and I rarely sleep late. Lately I’ve been valuing my time more. Doing things that either make me a better person (studying) or that really make me feel good (reading for pleasure & listening to podcasts & coloring). And with this new appreciation to my own time I wish to begin blogging more. I have written down million ideas and I really do give a fuck about this blog and writing and creating. I think people try to make time for what they really give a fuck about but they don’t always succeed. But I’m getting better. Time is our real currency, may we all be rich with it, but also use it wisely.

-Satu

ps. I’m going on a little adventure to Northern Norway in few weeks. Stay tuned for some Arctic Adventures!

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