Vacation at Grandma’s

Did I break folkhälsomyndighetens recommendations? Possibly, I never bothered reading the part about old people. Do I think that You should break the recommendations? Absolutely not. Do as I say (write) and not as I do, kids. 

Day one, Saturday.

We left “early” so I had no chance to steal some of mothers’ chocolate. It’s extra sad because I’m about to have my period and really want chocolate. Mother was weirdly sad to see Gatsby go, resulting in some weirdly cute photos. Also I’m really tired because I stayed up way too late in order to watch a 1h and 49 min long youtube video about why Sherlock was bad. Worth it.   

It was nice to have a quiet animal in the car, unlike certain cats. 

We arrived, Gatsby was surprisingly nice towards Grandma. Father started working right away, didn’t do anything. Grandmother gave me way too much food. 

In the evening we went on a walk with Gatsby, so that I could begin the first step of my plan. I want to make him into a dog that likes swimming, and for that to work he had to be introduced to the sea. It did not go that well. He cared for it very little, except from when he tried to drink salt water. I shall try again tomorrow.

Day two, Sunday.

My Grandmother has breakfast, and then at ten she has tea with another sandwich. Essentially she has two breakfasts, and now I have too. There is so much eating at Grandmother’s place. 

I finally started reading a book, the last time I read was in June! The book I’m reading is Persuasion by Jane Austen and I really enjoy it. The best thing with classics is that they take a long time to read, normally I could finish a book this short (~250 pages) in a day. But with a classic I have to take some time, it is nice and weirdly relaxing. 

I picked cherries and I had forgotten how good they are. I’ll be eating them all.

I love cherries

We took Gatsby on another walk to the sea, no luck this time either. Perhaps I should look into how to actually get a dog to like water.    

The best part of Sunday was the truly shocking amount of times I got to tell people that it was Sunday, no one was aware.   

Day Three, Monday.

Today father went home and I was very sad to see Gatsby go. I will miss that very annoying dog.  

We went to Lars’ to get water, and I got to meet The Cat. The Cat is a cat that belongs to one of Lars’ neighbors, but The Cat has adopted Lars. So now The Cat has two humans and two houses that he can chill in. Peak cat behavior, it was an honour to meet him. 

The Cat

Grandmother is unable to see someone being inactive for a longer time, after reading some I spent time on my phone, and then Grandmother comes in and says that we are going to go and deliver the wares that one of her customers bought earlier that day. Only that she wasn’t home when we arrived. Her back patio door was opened, so Grandmother had me go in and put the items there. And that is the story of my first ever breakin.      

Apparently I have been spending so much time in the sun that my face got burned. It doesn’t matter what Grandma says, my face is red, not tanned. 

I went biking for the first time in almost a year, it went well. I should probably have been wearing a helmet but my time in France corrupted me. Also, I wanted to listen to music. 

The sea is beautiful.

All of us went biking after dinner, unlike France, old people didn’t bike past me. That was embarrassingly good for my ego.    

My face itches, it is hard to sleep. 

Day four, Tuesday.

It is raining today, so Grandmother and I are going to Uddevalla.

First we walked around Torp (a mall) and it was like every other mall, except not finished. Best part was Grandmothers’ inability to get, that I try my hardest, to not buy new clothes from fast fashion companies that don’t pay their workers proper salaries. The actual best part was when she called me Greta, I felt honoured. 

But then we went to a secondhand store where I could actually buy things. And I got three pieces, best part, only one needs alterations. Afterwards we went to Lidl, Grandma’s favourite food store, I got waffles. I want to eat them to breakfast, we shall see how much she protests. 

Worst part, I was pretty out of it the entire time. Wanna be sensory overload and pms combo not great for focusing. And I kept thinking of mothers’ chocolate that I never got to eat. I miss you…          

My period is definitely going to start, like, tomorrow. Have almost started crying like four times over ridiculous things. Like mothers’ not answering her phone, and our friends getting a new horse and not being able to find Singoalla Citron but being able to find one that tastes of pineapple (I hate pineapple). And I have eaten four Mums Mums. 

My Sad Rain Photograpfy

Sorry about that brief break, I had to go out and cry a little in the rain because of PMS and angsty teenager who’s favourite genre is Indie. What did you expect? 

Also, period crying is really weird. Previous year I had to excuse myself, to go crying some with the horses, in the middle of either mothers’ or fathers’ birthday celebration, because the day before my mum had drunk about 60% of my cider. A cider that I had had many times before and that isn’t even that good.  

I think I’m done crying now.

Day five, Wednesday.

Still raining so we are going to Göksäter. When I was young that was one of the highlights of the vacation. Nowadays I appreciate other parts of staying at Grandmothers more, but Göken will always be fun.

Also, did not eat a waffle for breakfast because Grandma made my breakfast before I woke up. Nice of her but it was a normal, boring sandwich.

One of the peculiar parts of staying with two old people is to try and figure out if they are angry at each other, or if they just really have that much problem hearing each other.

Shopping at Göksäter was fine. I got the thread that I was looking for, do you know how annoying it is to run out of thread at Friday evening while sewing? I got two rolls so it wouldn’t happen again. I also appear to have left my normally hardcore convictions outside, because it bought a cardigan. My defense is lacking but let me just say, I was cold and it is in one of my favourite colours. I’m going to have to sin some more this summer, I need new underwear.  

I don’t think that I have eaten this much sweets since right before my last period. It is bad. Also, a really great motivation to work out. Feel free to shame me if I don’t work out. 

We are having guests on Saturday, so I’ll have to cut this vacation short and go home on Friday. Sad, but I’ll come back. 

I went biking, and I fully plan to do at least some yoga, possibly abs as well. Working out is going well. 

The yoga went well, but now I have so many mosquito bites on my legs. For some God forsaken reason mosquitos love me. When me and my family went hiking in the north of Sweden I constantly got bitten while the rest of them got away with only a handful of bites between the three of them. I think that at one point, I had over thirty bites on my legs, it was hell. But I haven’t had a tick on me in years, so that’s something.     

After yoga pic. You can’t see but I’m wearing capri length yoga pants. The mosquitos could see 😦

Day six, Thursday 

I got waffles for breakfast, the day is complete.

Waffle!

This has been a really good morning. I’ve been reading in the sun and has finally finished my book. I enjoyed it, a lot. The oddest part of reading was when my Grandmother came to the window I was sitting below, and threw me a candy. She just walked away afterwards, didn’t say a thing.  

Picture taken from a more aesthetically pleasing part of the reading morning.

Grandma is bad influence. Today I committed my second break in, albeit to our own property, but still. It started yesterday with a vague plan on boating on the sea. That plan was somewhat broken when the boat was used by other family members, so instead we decided to have our Fika at the boathouse. But when we arrived, the door was locked from the inside, the boat using people had locked it. Luckily it is not that difficult to break in to. I had to wade out in the sea and then climb up the jetty. After that I simply had to walk up to the door and unlock it. In the end we took the other boat and had our Fika on an island nearby.         

Picnic by the sea

“Have you taken candy”, Grandmother asked. “No”, I say, while hiding another type of candy behind my back. Grandmother then throws me a candy. I now have two candies. 

I decided to go on a walk in order to take some photos, both of me and of the landscape. I basically just walked straight forward from the house, and when I was planning on turning around and walking back again I noticed that it looked like a small wally was up ahead not too far away. Of course I had to investigate. When I got closer I first thought it was a road, but further investigation revealed that it was an open field. I was kind of weirded out, felt like I was in a detective story and had accidently stumbled up on a drug trafficking place. When I got back I asked my Grandmother and Lars about it and apparently it is some kind of abandoned field. Not as fun and doesn’t explain why the grass was cut only to be left useless on the ground. Or perhaps I am just too bored and want something exciting to happen.   

Day seven, Friday

Today is my last day here, I’m gonna miss it.

I have now started packing and I can already tell that I’m going to need another bag. I should know by now, I always leave Grandmother with more than I arrived with.

So, my Grandmother runs a successful second hand shop in her garden and sometimes the neighbours (and others) give her their old stuff instead of throwing it away. This time a neighbour comes in with some of her old shoes, including a pair of barely worn white low tops Converse. And, they fit me! So now I have a new pair of Converse that can replace the ones that are almost falling apart. So good luck. 

Mother is finally here to pick me up. Grandmother was beginning to worry because lunch time had passed, I had to inform her that we sometimes eat lunch at 14.30 and that lunch time had in fact not passed. She was horrified.     

Goodbye for now Grandma, I’m going to miss you. But I’ll be back, I still plan to make Gatsby fond of the sea and I know the perfect place… 

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansamn, do watch it

Director: Spike Lee

So, I needed something to watch while taking apart my lego and it stood between Keeping up with the Kardashian or BlacKkKlansman. But, I decided to watch something with actual black people in it, and not just people profiting from their culture. BlacKkKlansman was a marvelous movie, so I’m more than happy with my decision.

BlacKkKlansman is a wild movie from start to finish. There is a lot of racism in it, making for an uncomfortable watch, but the almost unbelievably crazy plot makes up for it. When watching, I was torn between feeling horrified and immediately after laughing out loud. The fact that it is real makes it so much funnier. The marvelous 70’s setting also makes the film lighter. I think that it was a brilliant movie, it is hard to sit through a two hour long film where everything is dark and depressing. It is way easier to sit through a two hour long film if you get to laugh at the racists assholes. 

My favourite part of the movie was all of the parallels, both them in the movie between the klan and the black student union. Like in one of the last scenes, where the klan was watching Birth of a nation (a really white nationalistic movie), meanwhile the student union listens to Jerome Turner (Harry Belafonte) telling the story of the lynching of Jesse Washington. That is a stark reminder of what those beliefs, that the klan has, leads to. 

Even better was the parallels between the klan and present time. Like when one of the klan members says “make America great again”, the phrase made infamous by Trump. It ties the movie to present times, and helpt to make one hell of a transition. Because the movie ends with footage from the Charlottesville white supremacists march, and from the subsequent protest. It made the movie even more impactful.

Good bonus, it doesn’t suffer from with savior syndrome. Should I write about that? 

BlacKkKlansman is on Netflix, do watch it.

Books of June

Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan

Emma Frans

Frans is fun in a very grown up, normal working-adult way. What I’m trying to say is that most of her jokes revolve around things that are very typical for a normal, working commuter. People eating egg sandwiches next to you on the bus, children’s birthday parties etc. And I think it is very nice, that someone can use the small annoyances in everyday life, and turn it around and make it fun. In the same spirit, Frans knows how to make science fun and enjoyable to read. It was fun to read about her busting common myths, some more absurd than others. I believe this is a good book for introducing people into the scientific way of studying a topic. Frans writes clearly about how the different studies she refers to, are conducted and how that impacts the result that they show.  

I have read her other book, Larmrapport, where she goes into much more detail about source criticism, and while that was a good and important read, that book can also be a bit dense at times, making for a long read. Sant Falskt eller Mittemellan was much easier to read, and could work as an introduction to the important skill that is source criticism. 

My only wish is that she would have ended each myth with a Sant, Falsk or Mittemellan printed in large bold letters. I think that would have been fun.        

I dina ögon (Saint Anything)

Sarah Dessen 

Saint Anything follows the same plot as most of Dessen’s books (all that I’ve read). Young teenage girl starts over again, at a new place, city, school or job. There she meets a group of friends that are all very colourful individuals. She learns nice life lessons and gets a boyfriend. In the end her mother either redeems herself or is never heard from again. Given the amount of bad mothers in Dessen’s books, my conclusion is that she and her mother don’t get along. 

I’ll admit, I bought this book because I knew exactly what to expect, and partly because this spring has been all about reliving my childhood. Dessen was a big part of my life when I was 13. This spring has been a very trying one. 

Of course not everything in these books are the same, I particularly liked Saint Anythings’ plot about the protagonist and her brother. It was interesting to read about her secondhand guilt and her very delusional mother. I do think that the mother changed very quickly. Kind of like Daenerys in the last season of Game of Thrones, there was way too little build up, leading to the transformation feeling out of character and not a natural development.  

My favorite part of this book was that the main character remains friends with her friends from before. Often in Dessen’s books the protagonist either does not have friends from before, or they are just awful. Having multiple friend groups made it seem more realistic to me.

Side note, the Swedish title makes little to no sense, I prefer the English.

Overall, I liked this Dessen as much as I liked the others. They are all solid teenage coming of age books. And if you just don’t read them all back to back the plot recycling isn’t a problem.    

Grey Sister 

Mark Lawrence

Given the previous book’s lack of plot I was a bit hesitant to read this one, and when the eighty or so first pages were a lot like Red Sister, not ploty, I kind of gave up on the book. Then I slept over at my best friend and brought the book with me. My friend sleeps way longer than me, so to cure the boredom, I started reading Grey Sister again. And to my surprise things and not just school happend. In fact, the book was so captivating that I read it all in a day. 

I liked the inclusion of another point of view, that of the Abbess of the convent. The protagonist, Nona, is a young woman who has very little knowledge of the politics in the world. And everyone knows that politics are important in fantasy books, so adding the Abbess makes for good explaining. She is also a fun and interesting character, so interesting that I wouldn’t mind a book just about how she came to be the Abbess. Some of it is told in Grey Sister, but it only increased my interest.

The character development in Grey Sister is well developed (I think that that was fun). I particularly like Zole’s development. In the first book she is kind of mean and a loner, but in Grey sister she becomes more friendly towards  Nona. Firstly settling on mutual respect, but eventually Zole considers Nona her friend, probably the first she ever had, and even breaks rules and former allegiances to help her. I’ve always loved loners making friends.     

Lawrence tries to build the foundations for a romance to be realised in the next book, but it does not really work. I find the crush to come out of nowhere, at least on her side, I can totally see him developing emotions, she is just that awesome. Since the romance hasn’t actually happened yet, I choose to believe that it will improve. I only wish that the crush would have been further explained. But given that that is my only major complaint of this book I would say that Lawrence has made a stellar improvement.         

Holy Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was right, the romance plot was bad. 

I liked how almost all of the characters in this series were females. It was refreshing to read all about females after reading book after book (and watching movie after movie) with a mostly male assembly. Honestly, I do not think that I’m able to name any of the male characters in the book, that is how insignificant they are. Or my ability to remember names is just that Bad.   

The best part of this series was how Nona, the protagonist, starts out as a small, independent, vengeful murderous child, angry at the world and craving revenge, and she was allowed to remain so. Of course she grows as a person, gets friends and learns to trust people, she even becomes caring. But she was still allowed to have her flaws, her anger and headstrongness. Lawrence didn’t turn her into some perfect human being who is strong, good looking smart and forgiving. I thought that was nice of him.     

So, let’s talk about the romance. It was barely in the book, it was under developed and unnecessary. My conspiracy theory; it was only in the book so that Lawrence would not have to write a gay relationship between the protagonist and her best friend. They would have been much better together.    

Final verdict: If you are willing to read the first, very boring book, then there are two standard fantasy books waiting for you. 

Phantom 

Leo Hunt

This book surprised me, in more ways than one. It is far from my first dystopian book, so when I read the summary I thought the plot was clear for me. The protagonist would find a mentor and depending on his age a fatherfigur or a boyfriend in Moth, the legendary hacker. Together they would bring the regim to an end. End the capitalism and bring justice to the poor. That’s more or less how this type of book tends to play out. Phantom was the exception. 

I liked how the protagonist was used by Moth to future his agenda, it was a refreshing take on the chosen trope. And I did like how she was taken in by the big bad, how we got to witness her perspective. It made her very sympathetic, and for a moment there, I wished that the big bad would take the protagonist under her wings and together they would have ruled the world. Sadly that makes for a bad message. 

And now I’m going to let you in on an embarrassing secret, before this I had only read three books with a homosexual main character. Given how many books I have read that number is probably statistically insignificant. Sadly there aren’t that many good fantasy books with LGBTQ+ main characters. Unfortunately I was unable to properly enjoy this romance given that it was severely underdeveloped. Seriously, they fell in love in less than two days. Talk about a case of insta love! I prefer a well developed romance that is at least somewhat realistic.     

I liked how the book ended, I have always been a sucker for an open ending where revolution and betterness is strongly hinted at. There is something about knowing that things are going to get better that just does it for me. I don’t need the actual improvement, just knowing that it might happen is enough for me.  

There was one thing that I did not like about the book, and sadly it can’t be overlooked, the ableism. If you are going to compare people not having the common cyber implants to actual disabled people then you should try damn hard to say that it is fine, that people still are people even if they are disabled and not do what Hunt did. He basically called people with disabilities less worthy, and I can’t stand for that.  

The best books from my childhood

This was supposed to been uploaded on Tuesday, I only had one small part that I wanted to rewrite, preferably while eating some delicious pie. But when going to get my pie I managed squeeze the finger that I use the most while writing. So, instead of pie, writing and relaxation there was ice, tears and pain. So much pain.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember, but there are some books from my childhood that stand out, that was a part of defining me as a person. So, with the excuse of wanting to provide summer reading suggestions I’m going to talk about them all. 

And yes, this is actually how I sit when I read

Harry Potter 

J K Rowling 

We have to start with the books that started it all. I read Harry Potter in second grade and before that I was reading books aimed for my age group, books for eight years old children. Reading Harry Potter was like discovering a whole new world, a world with interesting stories, complex characters and books longer than a hundred pages! Truth to be told, I no longer feel as strongly for Harry Potter, as I did when I was a child. Part of that is the fact that J K Rowling is an ass. Part of it is that I have read way too much Harry Potter commentary and analyses, some of it makes Rowling seem like more of an ass, some of just put formerly thought nice characters in a new, bad, light (that’s Dumbledore). Part of it is just having read fanfiction way better than the original series. 

Harry Potter will always hold nostalgic value, and there is no denying that it is a classic. I don’t believe that we should stop reading and talking about Harry Potter just because the author is trash. Harry Potter will simply be another great book with a shity author, there is no shortage of those.    

Eragon 

Christopher Paolini

Yeah, I have already written about this series, not gonna do it again. So, if you want to read my thoughts on it you can click here.

Anache

Maria Turtschaninoff

I loved this book so much when I was younger, that I kept borrowing it over and over again. I have probably never read the same book as many times as I read Anache. At times I borrowed it not because I wanted to read it, I already knew all of it, I just liked having it home. That was how obsessed I was. 

Anache was one of the first books that I read where the main character was a female and the story was all about female empowerment. I loved how we got to follow Anache thru her entire childhood, see her struggle in a misogynistic world, and eventually grow up being a badass woman. She is an unwilling hero who saves the world not despite being a woman, but because she is a woman. One of the best parts of the book is that the big enemy is a very misogynistic man who she in the end completely obliterates. I believe that every girl needs this kind of book (or movie) as a child, but it is still good literature for grown ups. I know that for a fact, as my obsession with this book led to me getting my own copy. It stands proudly on the shelf, so that as many people as possible, shall look up on it when in my room. 

Another positive side note, this was the first book I read with the protagonist  in a queer relationship. 

Parvanas Vandring (Parvana’s Journey)

Deborah Ellis 

Our school library had a rather small fantasy section, so it did not take me long to finish them all. That posed a problem when we were required to read something from there in class. The solution? Have my teacher pick a book for me. And that is the story of how I came to read this truly, marvelous book that’s as far away from fantasy as one can come.   

Parvana is a girl living in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. When the book starts, her father has just died and Parvana, separated from the rest of her family, decide to find them. Disguised as a boy she starts a  journey that takes her across the war torn country. She encounters many horrors of the war, bombed cities, grown ups without hope and other children in the same situation as herself. 

This book is beautiful and haunting. It talks about war in a way that works for children (I was ten or eleven when I read it the first time), but it never sugarcoats it. I grew up in an incredibly privileged part of Sweden, I never knew problems. This was my first introduction to the humanitarian crises that others face, and that lesson has never left me. A lesson that others should revisit.

A brief analysis about the positive and negative aspects of leather and faux leather

Despite using this site for almost a year I have not yet take time to properly learn how to use it, there for my source list is not up to my standards. I am truly sorry for that. It didn’t help that the links really weren’t cooperating. Or that I procrastinate doing this, 23.44 is technically still Tuesday. Good night

I like leather, I’m not going to lie about that. This is a pro leather blog. Most often when you read about leather it is the opinions from a very biased vegan, who wants everyone to live like them and aren’t afraid of using loaded words and somewhat false claims to persuade people to go vegan, this is a prejudiced based on too much internet time. Also, I think that there is some kind of hypocrisy in the whole “we should stop using plastic” movement, given that they almost exclusively talk about plastic packaging. I have not once seen plastic clothing mentioned.  Therefore I felt like writing a defense of the usage of leather.    

Let me start with this; nothing is good if overused. There is a reason for the fashion industry producing 10% of the global carbon emission (UNEP, 2018). That includes both vegan and non vegan fashion; in order to reduce that number all kinds of fashion will have to be reduced. We will have to go back to an older way of thinking, when we didn’t buy tons of new clothes that we barely use, “the number of times a garment is worn has declined by 36 per cent in 15 years” (UNEP, 2018), and Americans* throw away on average 81 pounds (36,7kg) clothing a year (Goldberg, 2016, 9 june). All of that has to stop, otherwise all other environmentally friendly actions will be fruitless.   

Now, let’s dive into what vegan leather actually is. This is the boring research part of this text. 

I’m going to start with what is in H&M vegan leather products. I start by searching for “faux leather” and then I pick the first result, a faux leather skirt in two colours. It is made from “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100%” (HM, n.d.a), that’s just different kinds of plastics. Next I looked at a jacket, it was the same there. “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100%” (HM, n.d.b), still plastics. One of the first things they teach us in lab class is that you always want to try at least three times, so I choose a pair of pants after some scrolling. This time it was a bit different, because there was also plastic in the pocket lining “Polyester 100% Coating: Polyurethane 100% Pocket lining: Polyester 100%” (HM, n.d.c).  

HM does have a conscious collection, and I scrolled thru all 404 objects without finding anything labeled faux leather and could therefore not check what it was made of. When I looked at other clothing containing plastic, for example a pair of bikini bottoms the description said where from the plastic was sourced, most of it was recycled (HM, n.d.d). From that I feel confident drawing the conclusion that the plastic in their “normal” line is not recycled, if it was, it would most likely say in the description.       

Next I went on to Zara, the biggest fast fashion company if one looks at their economic profit ( Hanbury, 2018, 9 Dec). I, once more, started by searching “faux leather”. Side note: the search bar writes in capital letter and I found this so jarring that I almost missed spelled leather. I started with a skirt again, because it was the first thing to appear. Zara has the composition of their clothes somewhat hidden, but it read “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.a), same as in H&M. My next pick was a pair of pants, the composition was the same “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.b). My last pick was a jumpsuit, because it looked fun. The composition was, to no surprise, “OUTER SHELL BASE FABRIC 100% polyester COATING 100% polyurethane” (Zara, n.d.c), plastic. 

Similar to H&M Zara has an eco friendlier line called “Join Life”. As with H&M I was unable to find anything “Faux Leather”, although I did find real leather, therefore I once more looked at another type of garment containing plastics, this time a bodysuit. This time Zara wrote clearly that it was made with “at least 50% recycled polyamide.” (Zara, n.d.d). I therefore feel comfortable coming to the same conclusion as with H&M, if the plastic used in Zara’s “normal” line was recycled then it would say so in the description.  

Having only two stores as my research objects,  it is not in any way a scientific standard, but since this is not a science paper and I’m only trying to prove a point it will have to do. Of course it is not only fast fashion companies that make faux leather, but I felt like starting with them, given that these stores are stores with a large clientele. But now we are going to look into some more bougie brands and see if they have any alternative ways of making faux leather. 

First up is Bleed Clothings “cork jacket”. They describe it as “Die [sic] first vegan “leather jacket” made out of cork, the gold of the forests.” (Bleed Clothing, n.d.). And honestly it seems totally fine. Then there is ocean leather, that also seems to be the name of a perfume. Ocean leather appears to be in the early stages of development (Greener Ideal, 2014) and I was unable to find any place that sold it. There is also grape leather which H&M actually sold at some point (Vega News, 2020) but I was unable to find it on their web page now.          

The boring research part is now over, now comes the consequences of fake leather. 

What I’m trying to say writing this, is that there are many different ways of making fake leather, yet the one most common is with plastic. That is a shame, given that plastic is bad for the environment in so many ways. Let’s dive into the ocean of plastic problems.

I think that was a really smooth transition, given that the first issue on my list is the microplastics released by plastic garments, when they get washed, that end up in the ocean. Tucker from The Guardian really says it best, “One washload of polyester clothes can release 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment. It is estimated that half a million tonnes of these microfibres end up in the sea each year.” (2019, 23 june). As we could see in the text above, all of the faux leather from Zara and H&M contains polyester, therefore when the clothes are washed microplastics are released. By now, I think that we all know that plastic in the ocean is bad. If not The Guardian has a good article about it, focusing on microplastics.      

The other obvious problem with polyester is that it is plastic, with all of plastics’ problems. One of the big problems with plastic clothing is that it isn’t biodegradable, and as I said before, we throw away a staggering amount of clothes each year. So when plastic clothing is thrown away it just remains. Heaps and heaps of plastic clothes, left for generations to come….

There is of course vegan leather, and other plastic clothes, made of recycled plastic. And that is good, I love recycling. But those garments still releases microplastics. So, not as good as it sounds. Still, if you insist on wearing plastic, please do wear recycled plastic.  

Yeah, that was a lot of talking about faux leather, turning into a general conversation on plastic clothing. So after that let’s talk about real leather. 

Leather can be sourced from most animals, but according to Mahi Leather the most common animal is cows (n.d.). As we all should know by now, cows are very bad for the climate. Kaplan from the Washington Post wrote  “If cows were their own country, they would be the third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the world” (2019, 18 November). That’s an insane amount, and the only way to cut the emission down, is to have fewer cows. So even if the actual leather garment may be better for the planet, than a plastic one, the process of acquiring the leather is not good.    

It is worth mentioning that it is difficult to see the difference between cow leather and other types of leather. The leather could be from any animal.     

Lucy Siegel from The Guardian writes that “Nearly half of the global leather trade is carried out in developing countries – from Ethiopia to Cambodia and Vietnam – where, despite a backdrop of exploitation of animals and humans and the extraordinary level of pollution caused by unregulated tanneries and processors, the pressure is on to produce more.” and “workers, including children, performing hazardous tasks such as soaking hides in toxic chemicals and using knives to cut the skins” (2016, 13 Mars). While this is awful and something that should concern buyers, it is sadly not exclusive to the leather branch of fashion. 

Poor working conditions are a staple thru the entirety of fashion. Poor people in developing countries work for almost no pay in unsafe environment with unsafe infrastructure (UNEP, 2018). If you are interested in knowing what terrible consequences bad infrastructure can lead to I recommend that you check out Röhsskas temporary exhibit forensic architecture.  

Siegel brings up another good point: “in reality we buy leather goods without knowing where the hide originates or what conditions the animals were kept in. We’re comforted by “Italian leather” stamps, but this could mean that the leather was imported and finished in Italy. I’m fond of saying that if all the “Italian leather” merchandise was of true provenance you wouldn’t be able to move for cows in that country. They’d be drinking from the Trevi fountain.”. 

So, even if you think that you are buying nice, environmentally friendly leather of good quality. Made by workers in good working conditions, there are few ways of ensuring it in fact is so.

I guess that the conclusion is, that there is no truly ethical consumption of either type of leather. This comes as no surprise to me, the fashion industry is garbage, all of it. The only way to guarantee that what you buy is good for the environment and for the workers, is to buy locally produced, where you can trace the materials and know the workers. Or, to buy from brands that are very up front with how their stuff is produced. If that is the case, then I would still prefer leather over plastic. Partly because plastic doesn’t decompose and releases microplastics. Partly because I generally don’t like the look of faux leather and partly because leather clothes lasts longer then faux leather. I don’t remember how many bad plastic shoes that I have worn down over the years, but there were many. A far cry from that are my leather boots that I have worn the entire fall/winter and before that they were my grandmothers. They are still in almost perfect condition. 

*I was unable to find a clear number on Europeans, but given our cultural similarities we can assume that the number is similar. 

Bleed Clothing. (n.d.). CORKJACKET MEN. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://www.bleed-clothing.com/english/corkjacket-men

Goldberg, E. (2016, 9 june). You’re Probably Going To Throw Away 81 Pounds Of Clothing This Year. Huffington Post. Retrieved from 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/youre-likely-going-to-throw-away-81-pounds-of-clothing-this-year_n_57572bc8e4b08f74f6c069d3

Greener Ideal. (2014). 3 Natural Alternatives to Leather Shoes. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://greenerideal.com/guides/7042-natural-alternatives-to-leather-shoes/

Hanbury, M. (2018, 9 December).  20 companies dominate the world’s fashion industry. Here’s who makes the list. Business Insider. Retrieved from

https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-zara-tj-maxx-top-list-global-fashion-brands-2018-12?r=US&IR=T

H&M. (n.d.a). Faux Leather Skirt. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0856232002.html

H&M. (n.d.b). Biker Jacket. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0783126001.html

H&M. (n.d.c). Faux Leather Pants. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0825700003.html

H&M. (n.d.d). Bikini Bottoms. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from  

https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0854683004.html

Kaplan, S. (2019, 18 November). Are my hamburgers hurting the planet? Washington Post. Retrieved from 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2019/11/18/are-my-hamburgers-hurting-planet/?arc404=true

Mahi Leather. (n.d.). How is leather made? Retrieved 2020-06-24 from 

https://mahileather.com/blogs/news/how-is-leather-made

Siegel, L. (2016, 13 Mars). Is it time to give up leather? The Guardian. Retrieved from 

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/mar/13/is-it-time-to-give-up-leather-animal-welfare-ethical-lucy-siegle

Tucker, I. (2019, 23 June). The five: ways that fashion threatens the planet. The Guardian. Retrieved from 

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/23/five-ways-fashion-damages-the-planet

UN Environment programme. (2018). Putting the brakes on fast fashion. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from   

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/putting-brakes-fast-fashion

Vega News. (2020). H&M DEBUTS COLLECTION MADE WITH VEGAN GRAPE LEATHER. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from

https://vegnews.com/2020/2/handm-debuts-collection-made-with-vegan-grape-leather

Zara. (n.d.a). FAUX LEATHER MIDI SKIRT. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

Zara. (n.d.b). FAUX LEATHER TROUSERS. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

Zara. (n.d.c). FAUX LEATHER JUMPSUIT. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

Zara. (n.d.d). LIMITLESS CONTOUR COLLECTION 03 BODYSUIT. Retrieved 2020-06-22 from 

All about sensory overload

Sensory overload happens when you’re getting more input from your five senses than your brain can sort through and process. Multiple conversations going on in one room, flashing overhead lights, or a loud party can all produce the symptoms of sensory overload.” That’s how Healtine defines sensory overload (over stimulation) and I think it is a very good definition, honestly the entire article was very well written and to my surprise did not just focus on sensory overload in children as it tends to be. No, they actually had helpful tips for adults. I really recommend that you check them out

For me, sensory overload often happens when I have had an especially stressful week, one filled with human interaction that I haven’t had enough time to recover from. The chance is lessened if I know about  it in advance, but it works in reverse too. If I do not get enough time to mentally prepare for events happening, then I will freeze and if possible refuse. If that is not possible, then I will just seem like an asshole instead because my brain will not work and I will be upset. Preparation is the key   

With that said, the symptoms of a sensory overload are many, diffuse and different from person to person. So I thought that I would walk you through (Some of Mine) mine.   

  • A milde sense of nausea, you would not believe how many times I thought I randomly was gonna throw up before I realised the connection. The key to telling the difference, is that overload nausea is at the base of my throat while regular nausea is more all over the place. Also, it’s more of a pushing sensation.
  • An increased desire to stim by shaking my hands and arms, preferably my right arm.
  • An increased sensitivity to touch. Resulting in clothing being really annoying and difficult to wear. An intense hate of my hair and annoyance with my nails. Also, do not touch me under any circumstances. When experiencing a sensory overload, you should limit the sensory stimulations, not increase it with another’s touch. 
  • The feeling of wanting to do something but not actually having the ability to do anything at all, because I can’t focus and I can’t stand things.
  • The need to organise and clean my room. I want my room to be clean because an organised space is good both for my mind and for my sensory input. There is less to look at, and the things to see are familiare and in the right place, meaning that the input is lessened.
  • Light sensitivity. I turn off all the lights.
  • A big desire to be left alone. If I don’t have energy to be with my own body, then I really don’t need another one close to me. Also, I don’t have the concentration to listen to someone, resulting in my replies being very monosyllabic. 
  • Everything is too warm.
  • The, hard to describe, feeling of wanting to stop existing but not really, it is more not wanting to touch anything, like I want to be in a sensory depression tank. Only I know that it would be way too boring and I would not feel good anyway. Even when the world is too much, nothing is too little.
  • Wanting to listen to music only that all music is WrONg. Or just not good enough, sensory overload me is really picky 
  • Stops talking 
  • Feels like crying, but like quietly, prettily, just one tear at a time running down my cheek. Cinematographic crying. 
  • Wants to shower, never clean enough
  • Tense as fuck 
  • Tired 

All of this passes relatively quickly. Generally it happens in the evening/early night and I can just sleep it off. Nowadays it is more of an annoyance than a real problem.    

I have included my original list, written while experiencing sensory overload. You can see how it gets worse as the writing progresses because the writing gets worse and worse. Good luck trying to read it!  

  • A milde sense of nausea, you would not belive how many times I thought I randomly was gonna trow up before I realised the conection. The cle to telling the diffrens is that overload nausea is at the base of my troat while regular nausea is more all over the place. Also, it’s more of a puching sensation.
  • An incread desier to stim by shaking my hands and arms, or the rest of my body.
  • An increasd semsitivety to tuche. Resulting in clothing being really annojing and difficult to ware. A intest hate of hair and much problem with nails. Also, do not tuch me under any sirmunstases.
  • The feeling of wanting do do something but not actually havning the ability to do something resulting in a lot of time spent on the internet frustrated scroling around
  • The need to organise and clean my room.
  • Light sensitivety.
  • Leav me the fuck alone,or a geting reallt tierd by social interatvtions.
  • Everything is to warm.
  • The hard to describe feeling of wanting to stop existing but not reallt it is more not wanting tp tuch anything like I wnat to be in a sensort deprsio tank onlt I knpw that it woould be way tp boring and i would not feel gppd anyy way
  • Wanting tp lstne tp music onlt that all music is WrONg. Or just not good enpugh, sensort overload me is rallt piky 
  • Stops talking 
  • Feels like crying 
  • Wants tp sower, never clean enough
  • Reallt really want tp clean te floor, just no enegty at all. Krävs för mycket aktoverogs emergi
  • Teanss as fuxk
  • Unfocused in body and hyper focused 
  • Ball 
  • Tierd

Distant Studies: an update and an end

I held a swedish speech, via computer, from my bedroom. It was the weirdest thing ever. I put my computer on a stool on my table in order to get it to a good height and then I just spook out to cyberspace. How odd is my life right now? And despite not seeing my audience I still got nervous, that is not fair. I used to be good at public speaking, we did a lot of it in 7-9 grade, and then we did one speech in the fall of my first year in “high school” that I aced and then we stopped and I got bad at it. You really have to keep doing it regularly in order to stay good.  

We are finally allowed back to school, kind of. It is just for two hours to do tests, and there are a ton of safety regulations. For example, we are supposed to enter through different doors depending on which room you take the test in. Still, it is going to be nice to actually see our teachers, they are equally excited to see us. It is also nice to finally take the tests even tho two hours are an hour less than normally and the tests are going to be way more narrow.

We had an Ester break, I couldn’t really tell the difference. 

One of my French teachers is calling us one to one, to talk about our grades and when it was my turn we had some technical problems. He could not hear me but I could hear him, I think that the main problem was that he insisted on using Hangouts, a google application that I have never used before and never plan to use after that. 

I visit my friend in the city once a week and sometimes it feels like that is the only thing keeping me sane.     

We had an English essay writing test. Aka write a really good and structured essay with well developed arguments and perfect grammar and spelling without the aid of spellchecker (even tho I can not think of any reason that I would ever be without a way to check my spelling in real life) in a ridiculously short time. That shit’s hard. We were to meet up on Meet on our phones before the test started but then I expected him to have a little faith in us. Boy was I wrong. Meet was to be on and facing our screens for the entire time. “Fine” I thought “I can do that, it will be a bit inconvenient, but it can be done”. Then my phones’ battery died. I was forced to relocate to my charger and desperately try to make it work at the last minute, it died again when it was five minutes left, so then I gave up and just turned the test in.      

My biology test went surprisingly fine given that I can not study for things I find boring and therefore spent most of the time leading up to the test wishing that it was chemistry so I could study. About two days before the test, I managed to start repeating. The two hours were way too short, like I had expected, but I probably didn’t fail it.   

I had never thought that I would find riding the bus again as nice as I did. It was almost magical. A Tuesday morning, 7.30. It’s so warm that all you need is a light jacket, the sun is shining and the birds are singing while walking to the bus stop. The horses are out. While waiting the sun warms my face. It is one of the first days of real spring. The air is full of hope, of new beginnings, of life. There in the sun it feels like everything is going to be alright. The dream is briefly shattered when the bus stops and I can’t enter at the front. I take a seat, my favorite. Open a book and put on some good music. Got lost in said book without having to worry about keeping track of the time. By the time we are getting into civilization I read less and less and spent more time looking out of the windows. By the bridge I had completely stopped and watched the harbour instead. Best view of Gothenburg. Met a friend on the tram station. Everything is as it’s supposed to be, everything is different.       

I think that I may have developed an unnatural attachment to a bolder. We are best friends now.

Weirdly I think that this time has been kind of good for me. All of this time spent at home has forced me to come to terms with the fact that I actually have to live here. And while I would much rather live in the city, I no longer feel quite as upset. Part of that is appreciation of all of the space and nature that’s available to me. I have not spent this much time in the forest since I was a kid. I love the concrete jungle, but apparently I have missed an actual forest.  

Part of the appreciation is probably that it doesn’t matter where you live right now, there are no people anywhere. The thing I like most about the sound of human life. Listening to the traffic, people talking and shouting, music and life. And that is rare in the countryside. But now it doesn’t really matter, the city is almost as quiet as here. While I may never be truly happy here, at least I no longer detest it.      

Feverish me has the energy of an old cat, wants to listen to The Phantom of the Opera constantly or watch the first halves of increasingly weird Fallout 4 playthroughs in order to not get all of the game spoiled. What does this have to do with distance studies you ask? It means that my ability to focus is severely limited but I’m still in class, it is ridiculous to call in sick when I’m home any way. In order to combat my foucuslessness I have watched the first season of Skam France and called that school work, I don’t even have French until Wednesday next week. 

We still have  to do the cooper test for PE, I temporarily got out of doing it thanks to being sick. But due to me having an almost compulsory need to be a goody two shoes I told my PE teacher that I would do it as soon as I was feeling fine again. I hate it.  

I have had increasingly vivid dreams during this time, and they are weirder than usual. There was this one time when all of the girls went promdress-shopping à la Pokemon Go. Except we weren’t allowed to get close to each other, something that everyone ignored and just went in large friend groups and called it social distancing because they would not interact with any other friend groups. I was guilty of the same thing except I wasn’t with my normal friend group, I was with one of my other friends, friend-group. I think it was in order to make the climbing up a wall of fabric part of the dream more realistic since I did it with a girl I know climbs. A quick analysis of this: the dream was of fun things that have been cancelled, prom (I had non planned) and climbing. My best dream was when I got a beautiful house for free (at a good location too!) due to the crash of the real estate market, the only catches was the old appliances, my thoughts on it: it doesn’t matter, I have a lot of free time on my hands when I can fix it all myself.

I failed one part of my Swedish speech so badly that my prognose grade is a D even though most of my criterias is at an A level. I now have to do a new one. On a happier note, somehow my Swedish essay (written before the schools closed) got the highest grade. I was seriously unfocused while writing it, so I did not think it would go that good. I didn’t think it would go bad ethier, I just thought that my unfocusness would result in a medium or medium-high grade.

I’m looking forward to putting my school computer away. 

I just had the most extra biology test ever. It was to be taken by computer, starting at one o’clock. But, during the entire test we had to be on Google meet on our phones, with the camera placed at least a meter from the computer, preferably at a height, so that he could watch us during the entire test. I mean, it is nice that my teacher care so much about our credibility but it felt a bit overkill. Any way, the link was supposed to be posted fifteen minutes before the test started, it wasn’t. Five minutes before starting time we get a pim that tells us that the test has been postponed by thirty minutes. The second time it actually starts on time. My teacher teaches two biology classes, and we were both supposed to take the test at the same time, so we were over fifty people in the Meet at the same time. My teacher quickly realised that us having our mikes on was not a good idea. And even with the mics off, getting Meet to work for over fifty people is not an easy feet. During the entire test, the screen would freeze for various people and my teacher would have to call them out. It was in no way a good environment to focus in. But it was truly a wild experience.

I have had two spoken French tests via computer, and both time my mind completely blanked out. Time passed very quickly and I have no idé what I said.  

I can’t believe that it’s soon over. Yesterday I had my last physics test of the year. The same day the class had a small get together in a park to celebrate that the year was ending. And later during the same day we turned in all of our school books. Tomorrow I have my last test of the year, and then I only have a social science paper left. This has truly been an odd year, and I’m not really looking forward to the summer break. I have spent way too much time at home and I’m deadly tired of having to be close to my parents all the time.  

One of the best school related feelings is walking away from school, a sunny summer day, just having finished a test and knowing that it’s all soon done. The sun in my face, the sound of kids playing without a care in the world. The way too warm public transport. It would have been better if I could have shared it with friends, and if I could have had more than just one of these days this year. But I’ll take what I can. 

Last year I thought I had done badly on the national math test and was so upset that I sneaked off the bus, walked to the back of our property where my horse was and sat down next to her and cried. When I thought that I was done I went to the house, but the moment I saw my mother I broke down crying again. In the end the test went good, it just felt like hell. This year I knew for a fact that it had gone badly, and I laughed at it. Is that character development or decline?    

Swedish update, the speech went well and now I’m getting a B. When I told my best friend her comment was “ I could tell that it was important to you, given that you had me read through it like a million times”. She was not very worried and forgot about her speech until the day before, she then wrote the entire thing in a day. In the evening she asked me to read it, but by then I was drunk. Despite all of the unfortunate circumstances, her speech went as well as mine did. Life is unfair.    

So, my math teacher is old. And old school. Which is nice, but he insists on calling us to talk about our grades. Like, an actual phone call. (He also tended to call us during class to check up on us, he’s very sweet). Most teachers just writes us a message and that’s it. I was really hoping that my math teacher would do the same thing. But then the call came. I was playing video games and had a cat in my lap, perfect timing. It started off as I dreaded, he wanted to discuss all of my former tests. I have performed all over the place this year, it wasn’t pleasant to go through it all again. And then came the even more dreaded national test, I got a D. That a shit grade, but I wasn’t surprised. The best part of the talk was when my teacher accused me of being difficult to grade, brought me back to 6’th grade music when my teacher quite frankly told me that I sucked at the musical part but was really good at the theoretical part and therefore difficult to grade. Anyway, somehow I managed to get a C in math, which I’m grateful for, but also a bit baffled. Thank you Jonas, looking forward to doing better next year. 

Overall, this year has been tumultus in many ways. The biggest obviously being the Pandemic. I’d like to thank my parents for not being born a year earlier and having to graduate in the middle of this. I’d like to thank all of my teachers for making the best of a weird situation and still having fun lessons even though we weren’t in the same room. But most of all I’d like to thank myself for somehow getting good grades even though everything was crazy. Somehow the second year is always the hardest, here’s to hoping for a better, nicer and more in school third year.        

Books of May

I have not been writing much. This spring has been stressful in more ways than I could possibly have imagen. But now that school is basically over I will have more time to write, and I’m looking forward to it.

Populärmusik från Vittula 

Mikael Niemi

This is another book that I read because of school, but this time I did a lot of research before choosing it. I asked my mother, I asked my father, and both of them told me that it was good, that it was a funny book. That, of course, gave me hope and confidence, that for once, I would read a good book from school.  I even asked my grandmother, I mentioned the book when talking with her on the phone, her opinion wasn’t great. She said it was unamusing and a bad read. That only made me more confident, if my grandmother disliked it and my parents liked it, it had to be good. I should never have doubted grandmother. The book was as far from fun as you can get. But at the same time I understand why my parents liked it. The humor was very immature, and so are my parents’.  In the first scene the protagonists’ lips get stuck on cold metal and he has to pour his own warm pee on them to escape. That I could forgive, but then they eat boogers. I feel disgusted just writing it.   

I understand that it was an important book when it came out, Meänkieli needs more and better representation in the media. And those parts were my favorites, the parts where Niemi describes the culture in which he grew up. It is as beautiful as it is brutal, featuring a macho culture that should terrify us all. Despite the horrendusnes there is a feeling of family pride in the book that makes the book almost charming. If only they would allow themself to feel prideful without alcohol. 

Niemis description of the landscape made it very clear that he loves his home. I hate going to the north of Sweden (childhood trauma: cold, mosquitoes and a road trip from hell), but Niemi somehow managed to describe it in such a way that I actually want to visit? That requires some serious talent.  

I could have liked this book, it brings up serious social issues and sheds light on a minority, everything needed for a contemporary book to appeal to me. If only the humor was less… sticky.

Red Sister

Mark Lawrence

I was hesitant before starting Red Sister. It is a book all about girls and women, written by a male. Men do not have the best track record when it comes to writing good female characters. I was kind of expecting to find some over sexualised and underdeveloped characters. I’m very glad that I was wrong. All of the characters got different personalities and motives. There was no sexualisation either, not even with the women who were in relationships with each other, in fact it was treated very well (and cute). Kudos to Lawrence for writing characters and not stereotypes.

I did have some problems with it still. For like the first forty or so pages I felt rather confused with what was happening. There were quite a lot of time jumps and mentions of prior events, making for a confusing start. It gets better as the book progresses, when more of the backstory is told, the beginning becomes clear. 

The nuns were cool. I feel like nuns in fantasy are either boring or healers, so having them be killers was much cooler. Despite the very cool setting and characters I think the plot was a bit weak. I spent much of the book wondering when something was going to happen and when it finally did it felt somewhat underwhelming. The book is basically split into two parts, and while both parts have a crescendo, it wasn’t a good build up to any of them. Most of the book was spent going to class, understandable given that the main character is like ten when the book starts. And while class was fun I can’t help but want the plot to have tied in better, not just appear at the end of the story.  

This book would have benefited from having a map in the beginning. There was a list of persons, types of magic and types of nuns, and that was very helpful because Red Sister is full of names. But a map would also have been nice. I think that the planet is round but there is so much ice coming from both poles that the livable area is just a band in the middle of the planet, called the corridor. But it took me quite some time to figure that out and a map would have helped immensely. Also, maps are cool.      

Overall, not the most magnificent book, mostly because it largely lacks a plot. Hopefully the sequel does it better. 

Book of April

The movie is the second worst movie I have ever seen, everyone thinks so, so don’t think that you can watch it instead of reading. Watching it will only lead to disappointment.

Eragon

Christopher Paolini

This was the first high fantasy I read, and the second long series after Harry Potter and now I have read it for the fifth time? ( I’ve read it so many times that I have lost count) so I will in no way be able to give a fair assessment of it. It is after all the book that really made me fall in love with fantasy. Surprisingly enough, it is not Harry Potter, while those books are good and will always have a special place in my heart, they aren’t Eragon. The thing that made Eragon so special is that it was really a totally different world, not just Britain with magic. Eragon takes place in a medieval alternative world where magic is present, dwarves are common and elfs are fantastic, there’s also dragons! While that may sound a lot like other high fantasy books (like Lord of the Rings) there are also other creatures that make it a bit more unique, like Urgals and Ra’zac. 

When I read it for the first time I had not yet seen Star Wars, nor did I know of the critique that Eragon had faced for being too similar to Star Wars. Now that I have seen it and now of the critique I can tell that they do have a lot in common (Eragon does it better) but from my vague memories from the next books I can tell you that they do differentiate. I also find Eragon’s story and growth more fulfilling than his Star Wars counterpart Luke. Even the side characters have more interesting storylines, all of them are phenomenal and interesting and different from one another. All of the females are different, have their own motivations and goals and are badass in their own ways.   

Despite no longer being eight years old, and having read a loooot more fantasy since then, I feel safe to say that the story still holds up. I can also tell you that my father read them when he was fourtyish so they don’t just work for a younger audience. This is the story with my favorite magic system (spellcasters actually has clear limits and get tired!), the story that made me fall in love with everything medieval and all things magic. This is the story that started my lifelong obsession with dragons and made forests fantastical. I have even kind of written fanfiction about it (in fifth grade, no one is ever going to be allowed to read it). This is the most defining book of my childhood and even now, ten years later it has the power to make me write a 550 words essay-like review, it is even structured like the essays we write in school (this was not intentional).  

In conclusion, sure, it may be somewhat like Star Wars (Paolini was 16, give him some slack), but it is so good that it doesn’t matter. The entire thing is marvelous and everyone should read it. I should read it more often. 

PS. The movie is the second worst movie I have ever seen, everyone thinks so, so don’t think that you can watch it instead of reading. Watching it will only lead to disappointment. 

The Eldest 

Christopher Paolini

The sequel picks up three days after the end of Eragon with a rather weak beginning. I do not like how the disappearance of Murtagh is told, it feels rushed and unpolished. I understand that it is great for the plot, I just feel like Paolini should have rewritten it in a better, more impactful way. 

Beside the rather weak start The Eldest is very much a filler book. By that I mean that instead of focusing on bringing the plot forward, the focus is character development and world building. It is very much necessary in order for the next book in the series to work. After all, the only way to avoid the overpowered chosen one cliche is to have an ordinary chosen one study and get better. I do really like that Eragon isn’t super powerful in the beginning and even in the end he acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn. 

Eragon’s character develops in other ways as well. He goes from being ignorant to being more open minded and becoming way more strategic. He also learns from earlier mistakes and strives to rectify them. Orik, the dwarf has the least development out of the main characters, but I know that he gets more of it in the next book so I’m fine with it. On the other hand we learn a lot more about Arya, the elf. Mostly that she doesn’t approve of a boy 80 years younger than her falling in love with her. Honestly, girl I feel you. In the end Eragon’s uncomfortable crush hinders her book-development, but it will get better once he realises that the age gap is truly inappropriate.       

Despite being somewhat of a filler book there is action, in the way of Eragon’s cousin Roran. When I read the books the first time many years ago I did not like when the story’s point of view changed to him, he wasn’t the main character and there was no dragon with him. But now that I’m older I find that I actually look forward to Rorans chapters. He’s there to provide the action, a nice break from Eragon’s studies, and from the romance. All of his determination comes from his love for Katrina, and it is charming to read. 

I can’t decide if I think that the ending is weak in the same way as the beginning, or if I think that it is ok. I think that what bugs me about it, is partly that we have another shockingly quick death of a leader, like in the beginning. Another problem is that it feels a bit rushed from Eragon’s perspective, we get some POV from Nasuade (the leader of the rebels) that balances it out, but it still feels like it happened too quickly? I don’t know, something just feels off about it. Weirdly enough I don’t have any problems with the final battle between Eragon and the new Rider. (Major Spoiler: It is Murtagh).

First thing last, it bothers me that it is Thorn that is the dragon on the cover when he doesn’t appear until the last fifty pages when Glaedr appears way earlier. Instead he is on the cover of the next book? Thorn and Glaedr should switch places.     

One quick last thing: I love that Nasuada finances Varden (the rebels) by having the magicians make lace. It is possibly the best thing ever.       

Brisingr

Christopher Paolini

This is so far the most well paced book, it mixes action and other, more time consuming plot things in a much more cohesive way, then the previous books. I particularly love the beginning when Eragon, Shapira and Roran team up to revanges their uncle/father Garrow and to rescue Katrina.

Katrina and Roran are soulmates and they have a super cute relationship. I like that romance isn’t a great focus of this series, beside Eragon’s ill fated crush. But the romance that is featured, is well written and very sweet. Roran makes it hard for all the other men to look good, it is hard to measure up to a guy who literally moved an entire village worth of people and killed, who knows how many, people in order to save his love.

On the topic of killing, Paolini actually writes the killing and the war as traumatic for the characters. Roran always feels guilty afterwards and Eragon even suffers from PTSD. Often in fantasy books the characters just go thru the war without any lasting means from it (especially in “older” fantasy, think Harry Potter) so it is (and was) refreshing to see characters that face realistic consequences of war. 

This is the book when many questions are answered, for example how does Galbatorix have so much power. The answer is magical and therefore can’t be realistic, but in this world it feels believable. The dragons have an extra “heart” in their body, that can be spit out and then works as a source of power, also their consciousness lives on in it. Paolini foreshadows the answer a lot in the earlier books, such a way that younger me did not pick up on it (it is not too obvious) but nowadays me thinks it is clever. It is not just the power thing that is foreshadowed, and nowadays me really liked noticing all of the hints.  

Speaking of Galbatorix, this is the first book when he is actually kind of in. He possesses Murhag and does what he does best, kills Oromis and Glaedr, the dragon rider pair that escaped Galbatorix the first time and then acted as mentors to Eragon and Saphira. It is nice to finally be introduced to the main villain, but I quite like Paolini’s choice to not actually have him in it yet. It upholds his larger than life status.   

So far I think that this is my favorite out of the four, but we will see what happens after I read the final one.

Inheritance

Christopher Paolini

First of all, I read this in the beginning of May, but I wanted to review them all in the same post. Sorry about that. 

The first four hundred pages are fine, a lot of plot necessary things happen, mostly warfare. It is after the four hundred page mark when the fun really starts. Nasuada gets kidnapped and then we are at last introduced to Galbatorix in the first of many chapters from her pov. He is just as dreanges as you would expect a mass murdering conqueror to be. But at the same time he is charismatic, making for an interesting and scary villain. Murtagh gets more page time too, and a start of a redemption arc.   

Murtagh is an interesting character because he is not a real villain in a sense. He was forced to do most of the bad things he did by Galbatorix. So he doesn’t need redemption arc in the same way that other former villains do. Beside being forced to do most of the bad stuff he does, he also did his best at thwarting Galbatorix, both by letting Eragon go, but also by trying to tell him where his and Galbatorix power came from. Any way, his redemption is centered around trying to protect and save Nasuada from Galbatorix torture, and it is a redemption that works well in this story.

At around five hundred pages into the book Eragon, Saphira and Glaedr travel to the abandoned riders island. The reason it’s abandoned? An elf made himself an atomic bomb and the whole place is full of radiation. I like how Paolini mixes magic and science, he does it in earlier books too, but not in such an explosive way. At this island they discover more “hearts”, some of the older dragons spit theirs up and they stashed them in a cave when they realized that Galbatorix was going to win the war. While laying in the cave they influenced a lot of the things happening, and thanks to that the book no longer suffers from random chosen one. Some other plot uncertainties are also explained.

Despite acquiring the help and power from the many “hearts” Galbatorix is still way more powerful. They all know this going into the final battle, but they go into it anyway, with hope as their last weapon. They lose badly, Eragon has no chance against Galbatorix, not with magic nor with swordplay. Galbatorix completely wipes the floor with him, something I like, it is realistic. Galbatorix takes over Eragon’s mind in order to get him to swear loyalty to him and the crown. While he does that, Eragon uses wordless magic to try and show Galbatorix all of the pain he has caused. It starts with just Eragon’s pain, but then the dragons join. Galbatorix gets so overwhelmed with pain that he kills himself. Essentially, they beat him with compassion. Quite a good way to defeat a madman.        

The last hundred pages are spent tying up loose ends, while doing it Eragon thinks and thinks and comes to the conclusion that the best place to raise the next generation of dragons is in a different place altogether. I agree with him, it makes the most sense, what I have a problem with is that he thinks that he’s never going to return again. And we are supposed to believe so too? All thanks to a prophecy from the first book. I refuse to believe it, he has a dragon, basically his personal flying taxi, it would be so easy to go back and visit. But no, he left to never return again. Stupid.   

I both liked and didn’t like what happened with Arya in the ending. She gets her own dragon, awesome. She becomes queen of the elves, stupid. I never got the impression that she would like to rule, or that she would be good at it, and also she is a dragon rider now, they are supposed to be impartial. Also, the elves are somewhat of a democracy, and I do not believe that these super old elves voted to make likely the youngest elf their new leader. 

Another thing that I liked about Aryas ending is that she did not end up in a relationship with Eragon. The ending makes it clear, that it will potentially happen in the future, and that I’m fine with. They seem to be good for each other, and during the books they have grown to respect and care for each other. Despite that it would have felt forced to have them end up together at the end of the series, beside the large age gap it would also have been diminishing to Aryas plotline.

Overall, a strong and good ending to the series that felt satisfying and tied up most loose ends. There are some mysteries left. Like Angela, but it is no bother and paves the way for future books in the same universe. It would be fun to see what an older and more experience Paolini would do. The third book remains my favorite.      

Disclaimer: I am aware of the fact that these reviews are very much influenced by my childhood love for them. Nevertheless I do believe that they are a perfect introduction to fantasy for young children, it is a solid fantasy story that isn’t too long or too complicated. Paolini was just 16 when Eragon was published and younger me thought that was really cool, he showed me that writing matters and everything is possible, even if I’m young.     

In honor of Star, Cayenne and my childhood home away from home

Sidenote: Pictures will be added when my father finally fixes the box where all of our old pictures are stored. His inability to do so is what has delayed me from publishing this, but now I can’t wait any longer.
Edit: Now with pictures, thanks dad!

When I was so young that I didn’t have opinions, my mother put me on horses and I started  horseback riding. When I  was somewhat older and had actual opinions I decided that horses really were fun and started riding for real with a friend from school. All of my riding took place at a riding school called Långeberga (funnily enough, it is located right next to a prison). 

Pictured taken the 6th of August 2009

For the first years our class was on fridays, it was often the perfect way to start the weekend. Some hours with horses, friends and fun, and if we were lucky we got some candy afterwards. The only times it wasn’t so good, was when either of us fell off, luckily it did not happen that often. After some time our class time changed and we now had riding lessons on Mondays, still, everything was fine. We spent so much time there, it felt like we knew the place like our own pockets. Except from the big, cool, private stable where we students weren’t allowed in. All of the time spent together also led to a very close friendship. 

Some time after I started horseback riding my mother, herself, took it up again. She had been riding during most of her childhood and adolescence. Due to Långeberga only having ponies it is not the place for grownups to ride, so she started riding at Clareberg, a stable where some of our friends also ride. So then I had two stables to explore. I would often come with my mother, help her make her horse ready and then watch the class or explore the stable or just hang with the horses. Sometimes my friend would come with me, those times were the best ones. 

Pictured taken the 11th of May 2014, I spent about a year in the company of the lovely Miranda.

Riding school wasn’t enough for my mother so when I was twelve she bought a horse, Chasmin. She was stabled at Långeberga, and suddenly a new world opened for me. I was allowed into the private stable, we could go on long rides in the forest and explore the surroundings. We got new friends, all at least twenty years older than me, and there were new horses to per. It also came with a whole lot of new responsibilities. Helping feed the horses, and filling the barn with hay. Those late nights when it was only me and mom feeding the horses was some of the best nights. We also got the responsibility to restock the café, something that I loved. Which twelve year old would not love to fill carts with candy, soda and cake once a week? I also took the placing of the wares very seriously, the stock had never been as well organised before (or after). It resulted in the nickname “inköpsassistenten” (The purchasing assistant). That nickname was first coined by one of the owners of Star and Cayenne, two horses owned by a mother daughter duo and some of the people we got closest to. 

Of course nothing stays the same, during our time there, two horses died of old age and multiple people changed stable. The most hard hitting for me was when Lolo and her horse Lovley moved. Lolo was one of the nicest and funniest people in the stable and her horse was just as kind, as Lolo was fun. It was also the horse that Chasmin shared a field with. 

Chasmin and Lovley, 4th of June a few months before moving.

After about a year we moved too, and then it was not just the horse, it was also our house. I stopped with the riding classes, got a horse of my own and no longer had any reasons to be at Långeberga. In school we changed classes and when we no longer spent hours in each others’ company, me and my friend grew apart. 

The only reason we had to go back to Långeberga, was to see our friends, most notably the owners of Star and Cayenne. This we did reasonably often, although more so in the spring/summer time than during the winter. Going back felt a lot like going home, like I was finally back where I belonged. 

During these five years that has passed since we moved my relationship with horses has changed a lot. I have had to work through the fact that I associate the horses with my dislike of moving, something that has increased with time, not being reduced.

Things have not just changed here, it has also changed at Långeberga. Eventually Star and Cayenne were the only horses left from the time when Chasmin was stabled there. And that is why their passing away was especially difficult and heartbreaking for me. It was not just the death of two lovely and special horses, it was the last ties I had to a time when life was easier, the last ties to my childhood home from home.

This text is dedicated to Star and Cayenne, two very special horses.