Blog Feed

I spent three years of my life just surviving and not living, it’s still affecting me.

My mental health wasn’t the best between the age of 13 and 16, due to several reasons. Now that I’m once more feeling good, I have to relearn how to live, it’s not going that well. Turns out it’s difficult getting out of the habits you had before. I learn every weekend that I actually have energy to spend time with real living humans and not just cats, that means that I theoretically could hang out with friends. But I don’t, simply because I’m still stuck in the same routines. But, like with many other things I’m getting better. I fully believe that eventually I will know that I have the energy to do all I want to do. Until then I will continue to push my boundaries one friend or museum visit at a time.            

Do you know how weird it is to step off the bus on a Friday afternoon and realise that you are actually feeling good? And then realise that just having that feeling is weird? Hopefully you don’t, if you do recognize yourself feel free to contact me, if you need to share. Sometimes I think about how bad I was feeling during that period, and then I get sad for the past me. I’m mourning the time when I was as good as dead. I don’t think that I accomplished anything during those three years, besides schoolwork. That is three years worth of unspent potential, three years of only barely managing to do what was expected of me, three years of not doing anything for myself. And that is just so fucking tragic.

The weirdest thing is that I’m mostly fine now, except for when I’m sad for past me, also when I’m feeling particularly upset over where I live. I do of course still have bad days, days when all I want to do is curl up in my bed and cry myself to sleep. But most of the time when I’m feeling sad it’s due to the past, not the present. It’s not surprising, just because I’m no longer “sick” doesn’t mean that I’m fully recovered, and honestly I don’t think that I’m ever going to be recovered. Those three years are now like a scar, they will always be with me and on occasion it will be bothersome. But bad days are just that; days. They will pass and then I will feel good again. Until then I may cry some, for the 13 year old me that didn’t know that it would get a lot better.

Travel Diary, Stockholm

Day 1

Part of the reason that I chose the school I chose was because they offers a lot of opportunities for the students, this is my travel diary from one of those opportunities. So before I begin I  would like to give my thanks to Hvitfeldtska who made this possible.

Secondly, let me explain what I’m actually here for. Some 200 years ago there lived a famous Swedish chemist named Berzelius. He apparently did many great things for Swedish science, enough to get Berzelius Dagarna named after him (also some streets and at least one park). It is a two day conference held in Stockholm where students gets to listen to a variety of people talk about chemistry. I, and four others, represent Hvitfeldtska. 

We traveled by train on Thursday afternoon. Basically half of the travelers in my carriage were other students. The journey to the capital takes about three and a half hours, I spent most of it studying. We are staying at Clarion Hotel Amaranten, which is possibly the nicest hotel I have ever been in. So damn pretty, I’m now spoiled forever. Since I’m the only girl from my school I will have to share a room with a complete stranger. So far it has been going really well. I was exiting the room when she arrived and when I got back she was out. 

The conference starts tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to it. The topics seem fascinating and I love chemistry. The fact that I get both hotel breakfast and a fancy dinner is just a bonus. But, before then I will have to do some studying, I have a chemistry test on Monday.   

I got like 15 minutes of studying done, not very impressive. But other than that the night was fine. 

Day 2

We started the day with hotel breakfast, is there a better way to start a day? Then we were on our way to Aula Magna to watch a lot of lectures. I have to admit, I have watched some recorded lectures that take place in that auditorium before and I got a bit starstruck by just being in there. I am such a nerd. In total we listened to seven lectures, with some breaks and a lunch in between. My absolute favourite was the third one. He talked about GMO’s and he is kind of an icone. My biology teacher had mentioned him multiple times during our class, so when I realised that I got to see him, and hear him talk, I was very excited. Btw, he was one of the first people to eat a gmo plant and now tries his hardest to educate non-scientist in order to lessen the stigma surrounding gmo. 

My least favourite was probably the woman from AstraZeneca, her talk was very “please come and work for us in the future”. Not really inspiring. The other parts of her talk were fascinating, and so were all of the others. There is so much in chemistry, so many exciting things for the future. 

After the lectures we had a nice formal dinner at Piperska Muren. Before the dinner I planned to study in my room but then a new girl arrived and there was a lot of confusion about whether she was to stay in our hotel room or not. Turned out that she was supposed to sleep on the couch. It was a nice couch. Instead of studying we started talking, she was really nice. Then my first roommate appeared and I finally talked some with her. She, too, was really nice and it was fun to talk to some females my age. 

Then came the time for the actual dinner. Most of us were dressed up, which was really fun. The dinner was a three course dinner. With asparagus and feta cheese for starter, cod and mashed potato for the main course and a lemon meringue pie with berries for dessert. Possibly the best meal I have ever had at a restaurant, the nice company didn’t hurt either.

Afterwards we did what all unsupervised 17’th year olds do when left in an unfamiliar city, we took a really long walk. No, seriously, we walked around a pretty big part of Stockholm and when we finally returned around 11.30 we played cards. It would have been a lot more fun if someone didn’t sabotage it for me, so I didn’t win. Still, we had a really nice time. Although I’m pretty sure that their hotel room is haunted given how much the light flickers. There was also an incident with a painting, not our fault. 

Day 3

It was technically the third and last day when I went to bed, we stayed up to 00.30 playing and I didn’t get into bed until 01.00. Then I had to get up at 06.45 to shower. The last time I voluntarily slept that little was in eighth grade when my swedish teacher said that we were only allowed to read until the part she had marked in our book and I got so upset that I read all of it the night before we were supposed to start it just to spite her. 

It was a much more pleasant experience to sleep that little because I had fun. Despite the few hours of sleep the lectures were still very interesting. Although I did lose some of my focus by the end. The funniest lecture was the last one when a man from Manchester talked about “Making the Tiniest Machines”. While the topic itself was a bit too complicated to be the most fascinating the lecture was most definitely the funniest one given that he also performed magic during the lecture. I think that anyone would have found it interesting when he turned a piece of a newspaper into a whole newspaper.

When the lectures were over we continued doing stereotypical teenagersthing, aka walking back to the hotel from the University. Stockholm is a much nicer city than I, a Gothenburger, wants to acknowledge. After returning we played some more cards, the same someone kept sabotaging for me. A three hours train ride later and we were home in beautiful rainy Gothenburg again.       

A final church for my father’s sake 

Books of January

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I, of course, had to start off the twenties reading the perhaps most famous book set in that time period (20ies). Because, as I learned, during my winter break I have become predictable. 

I found the green light to be confusing. Not the metaphor, but the actual green light. I don’t think that they had green light bulbs in the twenties, so how did they achieve a light like that? The only thing I can think of, is having oxidized copper in the lamp screen but that seems a bit too complicated. Also, who names a place where rich people live, West and East Egg? Gatsby was an agreeable character, his optimism was inspiring although it at times was more delusional than admirable. It’s interesting how a book about a lonely and sad man gets turned into an excuse to party. Side note, the latest movie adaptation has a serious lack of jazz-music.             

The Kingdom of Copper

S.A Chakraborty

I went and bought it right after finishing The City of Brass, Review Here . I waited a couple of weeks before reading it, in order to not get the books mixed up. I did not expect the five year time jump, but it certainly made sense. I find Ali’s new powers rather confusing, but so does all of the characters, hopefully answers will be provided in the next book. This book tackles segregation and racism in an admirable way. But what I enjoy most, is the ongoing debate on whether to let past misdeeds affect future beneficial deeds. It is after all a rather important topic, should you prevent something good from happening just because the site was used for evil in the past? In addition to Chakraborty taking on morality, I immensely enjoy her take on magic, her worldbuilding is intricate and believable. Chakraborty is a master of cliffhangers, among many other things, which is very frustrating. I want the next book now! Sadly I will have to wait a few months.           

Stay with me

Ayọbámi Adébáyọ

Partly due to not wanting to remain predictable, I read this book. The other part was because my mother’s book club was reading it and I wanted to join them in a discussion. Despite my initial reservations (that it was a book for older women) I found that I liked it. It was far out of my comfort zone and I found little in the story to relate to. At times I found the main character embarrassing, because the things that she did in order to try and get pregnant was to much for me, had I ever been interested in having children, then perhaps I wouldn’t have felt like that. The interesting thing, is that there were actually two main characters, although I’m unsure if they got an equal amount of page time. Anyhow, I truly felt like this was the woman’s book, and that her husband was just there to move her story forward. He was too me, something I had to put up with while reading. Still, Adébáyọ wrote in such a way that I just had to continue reading, it takes a lot of skills to make something unfamiliar captivating. While I still do not feel able to relate to any of the themes in the story, I feel like I left the book with a greater understanding of other people than before beginning, and isn’t that the point of reading?          

Turning darkness into light  

Marie Brennan 

This is the stand-alone sequel to the wonderful series “The memories of lady Trent” which combined two of my favourite subjects, natural science and dragons. Brennan’s book series makes me want to be a 19-century scholar who makes marvelous scientific discoveries and helps shatter the glass ceiling while finding my academic soulmate. Since time travel is impossible I will instead settle for becoming a scientist with an immense interest in history. A scientist for a partner would also be nice. In “Turning darkness into light” we no longer follow lady Trent and her natural science, instead we follow her granddaughter Audrey, who is an archeologist, also one of my favourite subjects. The book is just as awesome as it’s predecessors. But instead of just tackling sexism, this book also criticizes xenophobia, something that’s always good to criticise. I hope that this sequel is also turned into a series, I truly adore Brennan’s writing.

A Celebration of Life

Do you know how many books there are in the world?

According to an google calculation made in 2013 the number is around 129.864.880, but the uncertainty around that number is great, and hundreds of thousands would have been added in the year since.  There is so much to read, so many stories to consume, ideas and things to experience. How can you not be overwhelmed by the possibilities? I fear that I will miss out on a wonderful book just due to me being to set in my ways. There is nothing better than to walk into a library full of opportunities. And it is not just books, there are so many other wonderful forms of art. I believe I have already found my favourite painter and favourite painting.  But what if there is something better, or just equally great, waiting for me in some other museum? The only proper way to find out is to spend hours looking at art in museums. I can’t wait till I get the chance.     

I’m 17 and soon supposed to choose what I want to work with when I’m a proper adult. If I’m to be honest, I want to do everything. I want to study literature and read for a living. I want to study chemistry and discover something new and helpful. I want to win three Nobel Prizes and beat Marie Curie’s record, two would have to be science awards for it to properly count, but the last one could be literature or peace. I want to travel and experience the world. I want to go to a true middle of nowhere and lie under the stars. I want to change the world for the better, to make sure that everyone has a chance to freak out over art. It scares me that I soon will have to start making real choices that will affect my future forever.      

Staring up at a cloud free night sky. There is nothing that makes you question your existence as much as looking up at the stars, realising just how big the world really is. There is something calming with sitting outside alone in the dark looking up at the same stars as our ancestors looked up to. It’s a reminder that not everything changes, which can be sorely needed in this stressful life we all live. Also, it is really pretty.    

I just love being alive so much. There is so much beauty in the world, so much opportunity and sometimes this is a bit overwhelming. I would not want to have it any other way.

Star Wars the rise of Skywalker Thoughts and reflections

First of all, they really did Rose Tico/ Kelly Marie Tran dirty, she deserved better. I liked her character in The Last Jedi, although I did not like the romantic storyline between Rose and Finn. She deserved more screen time and an actual plot. Putting her on the sidelines made it seem like Disney gave in to the online hate that Tran faced after the release of the previous movie. 

Fun Fact: When I pointed this out to my dad, he was very confused over why she would have faced online-hate, sometimes my dad is very obviously a white male.  

Secondly, it is very obvious that Disney is doing whatever they can to make more money. Like really, what function those D-O have in the movie. He is just another droid that Disney can mass produce and sell. Same with Babu Frik, but if I have to weigh in on the debate, baby Yoda is way cuter that Babu Frik. 

Thirdly, they suck at inclusivity. That same-sex kiss in the end was a pitiful attempt to have inclusivity in their movies. Especially given how open Oscar Isaac have been on wanting Poe and Finn to get together. StormPilot should have been canon. 

So what to take away from this; Disney is a cowardly company that does anything for a profit and want to get complete control of the movie market. In the end we will only have movies with the same format and that keep taunting  inclusivity. If you insist on acquiring the entire market the least you can do is put out good movies.        

Actual Movie Criticism, not just me hating on Disney:

Having Ben die in the end felt like an easy way out. Having the bad guy get his redemption just to kill him off is for lazy writers who don’t want to deal with characters having to face the consequences of what they did. It would most definitely have been more complicated if Ben had lived, but it would also have been more realistic and rewarding. Let’s face it, Kylo Ren is basically a Neo-Nazi, or any group akin to them. When you stop being an extremist the things you did don’t just disappear. It’s things that has to be lived with. It would have been much more current if Ben had also been forced to live with the consequences.  

Rey having an ImPoRTanT and PoWErful grandfather was Bad. It took away that “anyone can be powerful, even if you don’t have a family”. Which is the thing that differated Rey from other main character in the Star Wars saga. Luke came from an already established lineage, and his father, Anakin was basically space Jesus. Rey nobodyness made her unique and relatable.     

Last but not least, very little of this movie felt original. It was mostly a retelling of Return of the Jedi. It was fun, but not exiting.     

Now, onto the fun parts:

When I was in third grade the boys in my class used to play Star Wars, this was before I had watched any of the movies. The same guy always played the Emperor, and that guy had curly hair. So for some reason I thought that the Emperor also had curly hair. I was very disappointed when he was bald. Having the Emperor as the main antagonist brings back these feelings of disappointment.

Something that I’m really sad that we didn’t get to see, is the interaction between Ben Solo and general Hux. I’m laughing just thinking about it. A redeemed Ben and the man that betrayed him and the first order. He can’t be mad about it, because he is no longer with the first order, but I don’t think that he would have been happy either. It would have been hilarius. Also, general Hux was probably the funniest character in this movie. 

Other good parts includes but are not limited to:

  • The time Kylo Ren and Rey played tug of war with a transporter ship.
  • The implications that the Emperor had sex.
  • The vision Rey had, of her and Kylo on the Sith throne together. The throne was a tiny one, they would have had to be sitting really close together, or one would have to be sitting in the other person’s lap.
  • The fact that the Emperor was so salty over being thrown down a hole that he did the same to Ben.
  • Everything that C-3PO did.           

Books of December

Not pictured, Don Quixote and Singoalla

Traitors Kiss

Erin Beaty 

This book suffers from I’m-not-like-other girls-syndrome, but other than that it is enjoyable. The main character is at times annoying, she considers herself better than other girls due to not being interested in fashion or marriage. Given that she lives in a fantasy world where matchmaking is everything this do make her odd. Beside the matchmaking part of the story it is quite an ordinary YA fantasy. That doesn’t make it bad, it was a fun read, but it is not something that I’m going to remember. Side note, I appreciate that the author fulfill basically all american stereotypes.  

Everything Everything 

Nicola Yoon

This book was fine. It wasn’t out of the ordinary good, but it wasn’t bad either. I mostly read it because I knew a lot of people did in fact like it, it was even made into a movie, I haven’t watched it. I found the whole story to be quite tragic and I felt a bit unsatisfied with the ending. I think that Maddy (the main character) deserved a better fait that the one her mother gave her and that the author could have written more about how Maddy adjusted to normal life. Also, I hate the name Oliver, especially when called Olly. That is the name of The Boy, who is perhaps the most stereotypical teenage love interest. A bit of a bad boy, always dressed in black, fit and good at some form of athletics (parkour in this case). Overall, this book is a fun and easy read, and it gets kudos for having a main character of colour (yay for inclusivity), which is sadly still a rarity everywhere.

The sun is also a star   

Nicola Yoon 

Her second book was much better that her first (Everything, Everything). This one managed to be both a good YA romance and tackle difficult subjects in a very education way. She writes about racism, both conscious and unconscious, pressure from parents, fear of the future and deportation. Deportation is and always will be an awful thing, it is not fair to uproot someone from their home. I liked how Yoon wrote short chapters from supporting characters POV, it made them more humane and easier to understand. It also added something extra to the storytelling. This book managed to be both fantastical and realistic, something that is not an easy feat. It’s fun, it’s relevant and it’s good. Definitely a worthy read. 
  

All the bright places

Jennifer Niven

I cried when reading the ending, but then I always cry when someone dies. It is a curse, never a blessing. The book takes up some more important and difficult subjects, that seems to have become an accidental theme of my YA books (I did manage read one that was so bad I won revive it, there is nothing to say). Instead of discussing racism, Niven writes about mental health, a subject that is a bit more relevant for my life. The story is sweet until it isn’t, and then it is tragic. It’s well written and probably a good read for people that have no knowledge/experience with mental difficulties. That is not me, and therefore the message of the book felt a bit irrelevant to me, I already know that mental health improves if you talk about it. Nevertheless, a good read                

Don Quixote

Miguel Cervantes 

Somehow it took me longer to read these 900 pages than the 900 pages of torture that was Ulysses. I blame November on it. The book was delightful, though I prefered part one over part two. Part one was lighthearted and fun, Don Quixote interacted with many different characters with fun stories to tell. And while it did get a bit annoying to have all the female characters either described as the most beautiful person in the world or ugly as hell, it was still fun to read. Cervantes wrote what was at the time a rather forward thinking piece, and parts of what he wrote is still very much relevant. Due to the forward thinking it was almost comical when he casually threw in some rasisme in the text, it was very clashing. The second part of the book was a worse read. Not due to a decline in writing skill, but due to Don Quixote and Sanso Pancha being ridiculed by the nobility. Cervantes probably wrote it that way in order to chritesise the upper class, the one group of people that constantly needs to be chritesised, but that does not mean that it’s fun to read about about a genuinely nice character getting mocked and humiliated.  

Singoalla 

Viktor Rydberg

I read this book for school, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it. Actually, that is a lie, the book was so short and easy read that I probably would have finished it. Still wouldn’t have enjoyed it. The thing about this book is that I can’t pinpoint what it is that make me not like it. The concept is fine, the storytelling is okey, the characters are average, there is just something about the composition that does not work for me. Beside not enjoying the book itself I really don’t like the fact that Rydberg writes about the Romani in a discriminatory way. Rydberg portrays the Romani as thieving, uncivilized and exotic, all of that is just harmful stereotypes that should be stopped. If you want to write about a people that faces discrimination then the least you can do is to reachers and not spread future lies. Also, I would have liked it more if Erland had died in the end.                        

Write for Rights

The 13th of December, 2019

Dear Mr. Raisi, 

May I draw your attention to the urgent case of Yasaman Aryani. She was arrested on the 10th of April 2019 after a peaceful protest during the international Women’s day (Amnesty, 2019a). She was taken to an unknown location and not allowed to contact her family until five days later (Amnesty, 2019b). In total she was held in solitary confinement for nine days. During those days the security forces threatened to arrest the rest of her family, if she did not come out in public and express remorse for her actions. In the end she was sentenced to 16 years in prison and is currently incarnated in the Evin Prison (Amnesty, 2019a). The Evin Prison is notorious for keeping prisoners in solitary confinement and denying them access to their lawyers (Hislop, 2019, october). So what did she do to get this cruel treatment? She took off her headscarf. 

Aryani was detained for expressing her opinions, that the Iranian government should not be allowed to dictate what people wear. She expressed her believes in the most peaceful of ways, she took her scarf off and handed out flowers. By arresting her, the Iranian government has violated both articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948). 

Article 19 states that every human has the right to express their opinions (UN, 1948). Aryani was doing that, by protesting against Iran forces women to cover their hair according to Islamic tradition. She was using that right to protest the violation of another Human Right, namely the right to freedom of religion, article 18. By arresting her, Iran has infringed on her right to opinion while she proteste the violation of religious freedom. Both religious freedom and freedom of speech encourage creativity, by stifling the rights you cripple people’s imagination. A country without creativity makes no forward steps, neither in society nor science.        

Unlike silencing someone for expressing their beliefs, arresting a person is not a violation against Human Rights, but the way they are treated in arrest can be. According to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights everyone is entitled to a fair trial (UN, 1948), the one Yasaman Aryani had was anything but that. Being threatened and having your family threatened is not something considered fair, rather it is inhuman. Using intimidation as a way to force a confession is nothing but disgraceful. Besides it is compromising the integrity of your Rule of Law, it undermines Iran’s place in world politics. No one wants to negotiate with a country that does not endorse the legal system, it makes you seem untrustworthy and trust is the first step for a successful partnership.   

While I do understand that she broke one of your laws by removing her headscarf, the fact remains that you violate her Human Rights by making her wear one in the first place. In fact you violate the entire populations’ right to religious freedom with the Sharia laws (Globalis, 2016). They are the laws dictated by Islam, you are therefore forcing an entire population to abide by a religion that they have perhaps not chosen.

Yasaman Aryani was fortunate enough to be selected by Amnesty International’s write for right campaign. This means that she and Iran will get a lot of publicity in the following months. In Aryani’s case it is a good thing, for you Mr. Raisi, not so much. All of the negative attention can lead to a lot of stigmatization about Iran. I can already hear my classmates discussing Iran and Islam, and not in a good way. That is not how it should be, and hopefully you do not want it that way either. Iran has the potential to be a great country, you even signed the declaration in 1945, a whole year before Sweden did (UN, 1945). It is time to show everyone what a great country you can be, you just have to stop fearing changes.    

In conclusion, Yasaman Aryani was wrongly arrested and given an unfairly long sentence. The treatment she received while arrested was barbaric. Making people follow a religion they do not want too is a violation against the Human Rights. I urge you to release Yasaman Aryani immediately and unconditionally. Until the day she is a free woman I will worry for her safety, and I will continue to advocate for her release. Yasaman and her family deserves to live in freedom, without the fear of being persecuted or harassed.                            

Yours sincerely, 

Johanna Torstensson 

Here is a link for signing the petition for her release.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/w4r-2019-iran-yasamin-aryani/

Reference list

Amnesty. (2019a). 16-years prison term for speaking up for women’s rights. Retrieved   2019-11-12 from   

http://writeathon.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Iran-Case-Card-min.pdf

Amnesty. (2019b). Iran: Release women’s rights defenders detained for peacefully protesting against forced veiling. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from  

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/04/iran-release-womens-rights-defenders-detained-for-peacefully-protesting-against-forced-veiling/

Globalis. (2016). Iran. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from 

https://www.globalis.se/Laender/Iran

Hislop, M. (2019, October).Yasaman Aryani took off her headscarf & was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Women’s Agenda. Available at  

UN. (1945). Growth in United Nations membership, 1945-present. Retrieved 2019-12-09 from 

https://www.un.org/en/sections/member-states/growth-united-nations-membership-1945-present/index.html

UN. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from 

https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/