Great News!

As I’ve written in previous posts, Sweden has a pretty serious housing crisis. Getting your own apartment can take years, up to 20 in certain cities.

So, I’ve been waiting a long time for my own place. Which makes it hard to live my life as I see fit, especially since I have to live with my very religious parents. Bringing home a guy is absolutely out of the question. Even something like listening to the “sinful” music I like has been something I haven’t been able to do, at least not without secrecy and earbuds on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. It’s just that I’m a grown man and I want to live my own life.

And today I finally signed the contract to my very own apartment!

I’m very excited by this new development in my life and the opportunities that will come with it. What a great start to 2018!


A World Tour of Books: Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane (South Africa)

Johannes Mark Mathabane was not dealt the best of cards in the beginning of life. Born to illiterate parents in a ghetto of Apartheid South Africa, he was during his childhood surrounded by crime and poverty.

His homelife was turbulent and his often violent father, like many other men in the ghetto, took to alcohol and gambling to attempt and escape the oppression poured on him daily. There was also the many surprise raids carried out by the authorities and where black South Africans could be arrested for such “crimes” as being unemployed or not having their passports in order.

But in the midst of all misery, Johannes’ mother saw one hope: education. If he learned how to read and write, she believed her son could one day have a shot at a better life.
The boy was opposed to it at first but did go through school, which his mother struggled hard to be able to afford. Having learned to read, he developed a passion for books and in them found hope and inspiration.
He learned to play tennis and realised he was a gifted player. It was through his involvement in this sport that he eventually got his ticket out of poverty, through a sport scholarship at an American college.

What shocked me the most reading Mathabane’s autobiography Kaffir Boy was how awful the quality of life was for blacks during Apartheid. Of course, I knew it wasn’t good. But I was surprised by the depth of the oppression and the abject poverty most of them had to suffer through. There was also the bureaucratic hurdles put in their way to make sure even something like getting a permit to seek a job was as long and humiliating a process as possible. The whole system was designed to put black people down and have them stay there.

Kaffir Boy is one man’s story of growing up under an oppressive regime which despised him simply because of the colour of his skin. But it’s also about the resilience of the human spirit and about finding hope in the midst of despair. It’s one of the most moving books I’ve read and one I highly recommend.

Son of Sisyphus (a poem)

A janitor’s cart
My boulder up a hill
Between bland meals
And weary dreams
I push my boulder up a hill
Like my father before me

And all around I see
All these people as tired of life as me
Putting their hopes in
The legs of a horse
The right numbers
A golden ticket in a box of chocolates

If hope had wings
We’d fly like birds
But hope is a whip
A stinging weapon which urges us on
To faster roll
Our boulders up the hills

Oh, how I’ve tried to write myself wings
To craft them out of paper and ink
Like a proud Daedalus

But will I crash and burn
For being too in love
With the Sun?

A World Tour of Books: Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson (United Kingdom)

Years ago, I was watching one of my favourite tv-programs, the Swedish literary show Babel, and it featured someone I immediately found fascinating: Jeanette Winterson.

I can’t recall what book(s) the inteview was about but I’ll never forget the impression she made on me. She had this wild, untamed hair, cheeky eyes and smile, spoke with passion about literature and she rode around on a motor cycle. In other words, she was a cool writer and I found myself yearning to be like her one day. I made a mental note to read a book of hers but then “something by Jeanette Winterson” got lost in my always expanding to-read list and I never got around to it. 

That is until I found a used copy of Gut Symmetries in a second-hand shop. I bought the book without even checking what it was about because I was so eager to read one of Winterson’s works. 

What it is mostly about, it turns out, is this most banal of things called a love story. But that’s about the only thing banal about this particular one and not just because of the bisexual twist. Quantum physics and Jewish mysticism play a large roll in this poetic book which looks at love in a greater, cosmic context.

 (GUT: Grand Unified Theory: the “theory of everything” physicists are looking for that will explain the entire universe.) 

I’m not much for mysticism myself. Love is in my eyes nothing but a sensation caused by chemicals in the brain to spur us to continue the species. But pretending is fun and I enjoyed reading this beautifully written book. The prose is amazing and the story moving. One of the most original love stories I’ve read so far.