How to panic-do a last minute Halloween costume.

Really late halloween content

Perhaps your plans to go on an over the day trip with your mother has also been canceled due to an uprise of corona cases. That is very disappointing, especially the lack of kebab that you will not experience. But on the other hand, you can now join your friends for a small and very much safer corona wise social gathering. The only problem: it is in less than 24 hours and you have no costume. Fear not, I have had the exact same thing happening to me, and am therefore qualified to talk you through it.  

Step 1: 

Looking at fabric options and freaking out

For me, this step was all about pulling fabric out of my overstuffed drawers and walking around panicked. I realised that most of my fabrics are with and/or green, but I also had some blue.    

Step 2:

Come up with a concept

The fabrics you have available will determine this, but for me with my nature-like fabrics the obvious choice was some kind of witch or fairy or other supernatural being. I did not have enough fabric to pull off some other full length clothed supernatural being, and I did not have enough time to do a pair of wings, so I chose the witch. 

For my witch I went with a blue see through fabric with a white organic looking patter for my skirt, and since I didn’t want to flash everyone I used a dark blue cotton fabric for a lining. I then chose an off-white fabric with embroidered leaves to make a top out off.

Step 3:

Making a skirt pattern.

I already had a pattern for a great skirt, it’s a high low skirt with pointy endings and it is just one big piece of fabric so it is quick to make.

Originally I had planned to make a full on circle skirt, but I did not have enough patience to lay my fabric paper in such a way that I could draw a perfectly round shape, and thus it ended up pointy. You can of course make a round skirt instead, but then you will lose the high low effect. To make this type of skirt pattern, I recommend using the magic of the internet to find a circle skirt calculator. I  used this one, it works in both centimeters and the American way of measuring.

Step 4

Assembling a skirt

For this skirt I took the outer layer and my lining layer and laid them right to right, pinned around the entirety, except I left two openings at the back, and then I sewed around it with a simple straight stitch. After sewing, it is important to press the seams with a flat iron, even if it always feels really boring. Then I turned the skirt “inside out” so the right side of the fabric was seen. 

I think my great resentment of ironing stems from having to take out one very clumpy ironing board.

Now I had an almost finished skirt that I could not finish, because I did not yet have a zipper. 

Step 5

How the fuck do I make a corsettop?

This step was started with a lot of watching of instructional videos, many of them on tik tok. Eventually I found a step for step tutorial by Nava Rose with a free pattern that could be printed out and used. Great I thought, except we still don’t have a new printer. I long for the days of innocence when I did not yet know what a luxury it is to have my own printer in my home. A time when I did not have to rely on my parents to print things out for me from work. A time when I could print everything I needed for my craft at once. 

Anyway, I had to re-think. Since I was short of time, I wanted to have it as easy as possible and preferably not have to make a whole new pattern, because that takes time and skills that I mostly lack. Luckily I had a pattern for the top part of a dress that I made in school forever ago that would just need a little adjustment. 

Step 6

Everything is going so well

To make the top I took the old dress top pattern and traced it on some plain white cotton which was left over. I have rarely felt as satisfied as when I did this, because there was just enough fabric. Then I took my parts, assembled them at their side seams with a straight stitch, after that I manipulated the bodice so that it would look just like I wanted. If you use an already perfect pattern there is no need for this and your life will be easier. 

After the bodice looked like I wanted, I traced it on to pattern paper so that I had a version of the correct pattern to trace out on my nice looking fabric. The assembly was as with the test object, straight stitched down the sides and don’t forget to press the seams flat.

Old and new pattern

Step 7

Things are still going fine with the top

Since I already had a perfect replica of my bodice (aka the one I manipulated) I decided to use that as my lining. I did as I did with the skirt, took the two parts, placed them right side to right side, pinned and sewed around with a straight stitch. I left an opening of around 5 cm to turn it “inside out”. But firstly I pressed all of the seams. A great idea is to cut small notches at the curved part (on the outer part of the seam that is!) so that it will lay flat when turned.

Then I turned it. Another great tip is to use something pointed to poke the corners out so they look nice and sharp and not rounded. I used the legs on my giraffe ruler, but closed scissors or a pen also works.      

Step 8

Shopping and putting in a zipper 

Now it was time for a shopping break, I needed to buy a zipper, some ribbon because I wanted to do a lace up back and some grommets to make the holes for my ribbon. The store had all of this. 

I did not have time or energy to sew a hidden zipper, so I chose to buy more of a statement zipper with silver zipper teeth. This was also the first time I tried the skirt on, and there for the only time I had to make adjustments in the size. It was a bit too big for me in the waist, so I made an angled fold in on both sides so that it would fit me and then I put the zipper on there. 

To sew in a zipper, the best thing is to use a zipper foot on your sewing machine, this allows you to get just right next to the teeth. You can also use a regular foot, you will just not get as close to the teeth. It is just like sewing regularly, you go down along the zipper, I used a straight stitch. It gets a little tricky when going past the pull thing, because it will often be in the way of the machine. Depending on the situation I either sew the side down in two parts, to the pull thing, then I stop, remove the fabric and change the place of the pull thing, then I return and sew the last part down. Or I simply lift the foot but leave the needle in, pull the puller upwards, let the foot down and continue sewing. 

After sewing the zipper I closed the rest of the back side up by putting the fabric right sides together and sewing straight up. I fucked up the part where the edge meets the zipper, so I can not explain how to do it and still make it look good. If you can, please tell me.  

And so I had finished a skirt fit for a witch. 

Part 9

Things goes really bad, really fast

Now it was time to finish the top, something I had very little time to do. No problem I thought, how hard can it be to add grommets? Turns out, really fucking hard. Firstly I could not do it at all, but then my father came to my aid and it turned out, that I was just not hitting the thing hard enough. Still, not even he managed to make all the grommets behave, so we tried other things. Like just cutting holes. In the end the straps on the top looked like shit and I was officially out of time.   

Part 10

Time for improvising  

The skirt was still wearable, so I only had to find a fitting top out of all of the tops I own. In the end I chose a black shirt with lace details that I felt were witchy enough. I have a pair of tights patterned with flowers that works really well with my whole “modern flower witch” aesthetic. To finish the look, I put on every necklace that was kind of occult looking, somehow I lucked out and they were all of different length making for a cool layered effect. I also put on a lot of rings and some bracelets. Worth noting is that I put on all of this in the car because I had no time to do it at home. 

For my hair I had slept with many braids the night before it was very fluffy. I did a half up half down ponytail. To disguise my hairband I cut out a long strand from the same fabric as my skirt and tied it in a bow around my ponytail. I had also brought some fake flowers that I bent into a  flower crown. To finish off the look I put on my ghost earrings and my dark red/purple lipstick.  

And that is how to do a last minute Halloween costume.

Side note: To make a garment look really good it is often good to do a top stitch around the entirety of it. This is to make sure that the seams lay flat. I did this on my skirt the day after the Halloween party when I had more time.

Let’s talk about Sia

Sadly I don’t mean the ice-cream company. I mean the singer. 

Beside singing she apparently also tries to direct movies, and on the 19:th of November the trailer was released. It got a lot of backlash, because it is about “Zu is newly sober when she receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music, a young girl on the autism spectrum.” (IMDB. n.d). Sounds nice right? If done correctly this could have been a nice, heartwarming movie with good autistic representation. Sia managed to fail on the representation front without even having to release the movie. Music is played by Maddie Ziegler, who is not autisitc. 

If a disabled actor is not cast to portray a disabled character, then the movie has already failed with its representation. It doesn’t matter how good the storyline is, disabled characters should always be portrayed by disabled actors.   

The best thing is (/s) that Sia did originally have an autistic actor, but she found the filming environment stressful and unpleasant. So instead of changing the environment Sia hired a neurotypical instead. This is stupid and frustrating in so many ways that I can’t even write it out.  

Another amazingly ironic thing she did was when she expressed her anger over the movie being judged before it could be watched. In a way Sia experienced what many autistics (and other neurodivergents) experience on a daily basis; being judged beforehand.   

She claims to have done a ton of research for this movie, but she did still pair up with Autism Speaks, which is more or less an autism hate group. For example, they have no, or close to none autistic board members. Most of their money doesn’t go to helping autistics and they want to cure autism. In short, they suck and now Sia does too.    

Sia did also refer to autism as a “special ability” rather than a disability. That just screams ableist to me. No one that truly respects autistics would say it gave us a special ability. I’m good at many things, but I’m also limited in many ways. You could almost say it hinders my life. Disables it even.    

Now, I can’t say whether the movie is actually good or not. But I have seen the trailer and from that one minute clip, I can tell that the portrayal of autism seems stereotypical, but I guess it is nice that Music is a girl? It is also a lot of things happening all of the time and that seems kind of exhausting to watch. That’s all you will ever hear from me about the actual movie, I have no intention to see it. 

I do not understand why neurotypicals insist on making movie after movie about autistics played by other neurotypicals and still acting surprised when we say we would have preferred if the actor actually was autistic.  

IMDB. (n.d). Music. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7541720/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_6

Updated about me

Hello, my name is Johanna and I like words.

My first language is Swedish, then I learned English and I’m currently studying French. I like words in all languages, so next I’m planning on learning either Greek, Russian or Arabic, please help me choose. 

There are two primary reasons for why I write in English. One, I prefer to read in it, therefore I write in it. Two, I would like to get an A in English at some point and practising writing can only help. I think that it’ll finally happen this year now that I’ve got a new English teacher. It will not be as satisfying, because I doubt my new teacher is as meticulous as my former teacher. 

I’m honestly kind of a boring person whose goal is to never stop learning or leaving the academic world. To achieve this, I plan on becoming some kind of scientist, most likely a chemist but we’ll see what the future holds. The one thing I do know, is that I really don’t want to remain in Sweden, I would love to live and work in some other country.

I sometimes fantasize about walking into libraries where most of the books are in English. Can you tell I like reading? I probably write too much about books, but I shall not stop. Also, is it possible to talk too much about books? Worth noting: I care very little for spoilers, I don’t care if things get spoiled to me and I don’t leave spoilers out. Read at your own risk. On occasion I will leave a numerical rating on Goodreads.       

I will write using sources (when needed). Since I believe strongly in honesty and good sourcing I will always refer to them. I’ll be using the APA system because that is the one we currently use in school and therefore the one I’m most comfortable with. This means that all of the sources I’ve used, will be linked at the bottom of the page, in alphabetical order.  

I will write about politics, environment and equality because it needs to be said and I care about my opinions. I will also write a lot about autism because I’m autistic and it’s just my life. If a word, saying or sentence is followed by an (/s) then it was meant sarcastically, hopefully I will remember to write it always but feel free to ask if you want clarifications.  

Other fun facts about me:

I have two horses, one cat and sadly also a dog. I’m so not a dog person. He’s the only dog I can stand to be around.

I do not want children. Also, having the dog has solidified that opinion. 

I like clothes and photography. On occasion I will post pictures of me wearing clothes, or just of other beautiful things on my instagram. Same name as the blogg. 

I love climbing but I also have a fucked up wrist and it pains me to say that climbing is often too painful. But all the doctors and specialists I’ve spoken to say that I will most likely no longer be in pain when I’m twentyfour so I’ll only have to wait six years to start climbing regularly.

I don’t like the concept of five fast facts so I’m not sure why I choose to write some of my own. 

And that was your brief introduction to me. To learn more, I think that there is a subscribe button? Or just read what I have already written. I try to update once a week, but school likes to keep our workload inconsistent and I’m bad at planning ahead.

Disabilities are difficult. Aka, they come in all shapes and sizes

So, I had this weird moment last fall. I had booked dance classes with my friend, and we were really looking forward to them. And then we had our first, it went well. I liked the dance, I liked the people and I liked the music. But afterwards my wrist was hurting. 

The day of our next class had been a bad day, my wrist had hurt at multiple times and I did not feel like it would have been a good idea to force it to do more physically demanding things that day, dance class was cancelled for the day. 

The next week was the same. So, there I sat with my friend. On the top floor of our school, having to debate with myself if it was worth the additional pain to do something I liked. The answer was no, dance class was cancelled for an unforeseeable time. But while I was sitting there, debating with myself, I suddenly realised that the injury that I had been living with for maybe two and a half years at that point was a disability. 

For some reason, that also made me think more about my autism diagnosis. I rarely think of it as a disability, it is just a part of what makes me awesome. But there and then I understood that not everyone saw it as a strength. I want to be careful here, it is something that makes my life more difficult, not some weird supertalent that people can write books about. But it is me, and if people around me behave respectably then it is more of an asset to me, than a hindrance.     

I hadn’t really thought about my diagnosis and what it meant for me. On one hand I was still myself, nothing had really changed. I knew that I was autistic before it was confirmed.  On the other hand it felt like everything had changed. It was official. It was something that others could use against me. Like the police, and military (fuck them and their “Come as you are” campaign). People could use it to discriminate against me. 

I understand where the discrimination comes from, uneducation. I’ll even admit that I at one time thought of myself as autistic but not  “Autistic”, kind of like how Isak in Skam was gay but he wasn’t “Gay”. Or how most girls go through a “I’m not like other Girls” phase. It is an attempt to distance oneself from a stereotype portrayed in the media that isn’t recognizable. An attempt that I realised was meaningless once I had spent time on parts of the internet where I could interact with all types of people and get educated. I came to the realisation that I am not better than anybody else and that all ways of being is equally valid. 

Other fun things that happened when I got my diagnosis, I started seeing casual ableism. What a joy. My best example of this is from the fall of my first year at Hvitfeldtska. It was in English class, we were reading The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime (btw, bad book) and we were preparing for a written exam with the book as a base. We were to answer three of four questions with well thought out arguments and all of that fun English stuff. And since my (former ) English teacher wanted all of us to do our best he gave us one of the questions beforehand so that we could prepare properly. The question was “Do you think that Christopher is a reliable narrator?”. Objectively a really good question, it both tied on to the book and to the lessons we had had about different kinds of narrators. We had to discuss the question two and two. As far as I could hear they all said no, he isn’t a reliable narrator. And while it wasn’t said outright it was his autism that made him unreliable. It was partially harrowing to hear the girl I was paired with list characteristics that Christopher and I share, as a reason to why he was an unreliable narrator. That was my first time experiencing casual ableism and one of the reasons that I started writing. 

To this day I don’t know what my teacher’s answer to the question was, or what he intended with it. All I know is that in my text I wrote passionately about how the question was discriminating and wrong. It was one of the first things I wrote at Hvitfeldtska but it will without a doubt always be the one that I’m most proud of. But that moment has stayed with me, perhaps it is why I have problems telling anyone about my diagnosis. Or perhaps I just think that it doesn’t matter and isn’t anyone else’s business.    

Another fun thing that happened was that my parents didn’t have any problem at all telling all of their acquaintances and friends. To this day I don’t know when we meet if they know or not, it makes me uncomfortable. I am a strong believer in being open about mental health in order to end the stigma, but be open with your own mental health, not anybody else’s. No shade to my parents, they did what they thought was best. I have seen way too many “family youtubers” and celebrities talk about things that their children do that I wouldn’t want the internet to know if it were me, so I have a vastly different opinion about what parents should share. I think I’m going to write a full text about it, so look forward to that. 

Anyway, back to my disabilities and back to that fall day on the top floor where I realised that I had been failed by the system. 

It was partially fun (/s) to realise that my wrist pain was in fact a disability. It is a pain that I have lived with since eighth grade, and I had never considered it a disability before. I had cried about it, I had been in unimaginable pain due to it and I had feared because of it. But never had I considered it a disability, because you know, a disability is something like being paralyzed or having lost a limb, something that affects your life daily.

 That day I realised that it does in fact impact my life everyday. That I hesitate to do certain things because I don’t want to be in pain, that I think and worry about it regularly and that I wasn’t able to live my life to the fullest due to it.            

There are two ways I was failed by the system. First one, no one realized that I was on the spectrum or that I was a “gifted” child (aka I’m really good at school). Had either of those things been realized earlier I would most likely not have suffered for three years and my education would have been more stimulating. I like to credit books for surviving school. 

Second one, no one took my pain seriously enough at the hospital. It took two weeks before I even got to see a doctor and she just sent me along to some physiotherapist that told me that I had a weak wrist. She didn’t even check my grip strength (it is perfectly fine!). I came back and I came back and I came back. It took two years before they sent me along to a specialist! Two years of pain and fear and uncertainty. Two years of no progress. This last year has been better, I feel seen, heard and helpt.                

I guess what I’m trying to say is that all pain is valid and that disabilities comes in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean that you don’t have it bad, and all bad things should be taken seriously and treated. It doesn’t have to be as it looks on TV.

For those of you that are curious of what’s wrong with my arm, no one really knows. A lot of ideas and a lot of tests are happening but so far no definite answer. The most common answer is that I will grow out of it in my mid twenties because that is when you start to stiffen, really looking forward to five to nine more years of pain (/s).

BTW, The Incident with the dog in the nighttime is a bad book and sad stereotypical representation. The awful thing is that when I was researching different disabilities autism was the last one I looked up just because most of my understanding came from bad representation in media such as the Incident.  

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.

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.

My saddest birthday

I think it was around two years ago, that I realised that my eighteenth birthday was going to be on Easter Saturday. It was great news, last time my birthday really was during Easter was when I was very young but I remember it fondly. Easter has been my favourite holiday for a long time, partly because it often correlates with my birthday, meaning no school. But also because I see it as a great sign of spring and I love spring. So, I made a lot of vague plans of what I would do during the celebrations. My grandmother and Lars would be coming. Hopefully my uncle would show up and I would even invite my best friend to the party. 

Since it was Easter we would eat traditional Easter things, aka what Swedes eat for every holiday: herring, potatoes and some kind of holiday target drink. Also, lots of holiday teamed candies. Given that it was my eighteenth birthday and I would legally become an adult we would also have some champagne-like drink to celebrate and I would demande to drink some snaps just because I could. 

When I started school the plans evolved, I now also had to consider the fact that one of my friends really likes to celebrate birthday by singing. She would most likely make the class sing for me and I would have to suffer thru the embarrassment, I´m not a fan of attention. At a later time I would host a small get together, and my singing friend would finally get to taste good pesto. 

During summer I would force my best friend to celebrate midsummer with me, that would have included getting drunk. I was also looking forward to being able to finally go to all the concerts I wanted. Although, I would have to get some new friends for that, all of mine have different (bad) taste in music. 

Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan, but in no way could I ever had predicted that it would go so bad. A lot of things still happen as I had planned, most notably: it was still Easter.

 Quite early, I came to the realisation that my grandmother (and Lars) would not be able to attend, still, it hurt a lot. In order to make up for it, my best friend was invited to spend the night and be with me for the entire day. I got a champagne like beverage when waking up, it tasted bad, and nice gifts. Then we had eggs and egg painting for breakfast. My grandmother and Lars even showed up and gave me gifts. Except that they could not enter and I did not get to hug her. Still, it was a really lovely surprise. 

The closest we will ever get to a family portrait

We then had some herring for lunch, something my friend did not really like, and I drank snaps. It tastes exactly like my cough medicine from last fall, except it burned to drink. After lunch we had a traditional Easter egg hunt. It was a lot more fun than usually, because my horse got frightened and then my friend got frightened and briskly walked away, but then my horse got even more frightened and ran after my friend. She then retreated to higher ground where the horse could not follow.     

My singing friend called and when I answered she immediately started singing, it was really nice. She is the best singer that I know. We talked for close to an hour, but it doesn’t make the separation easier. 

For dinner we had more fish based food, but this time my best friend actually liked it. Few things taste as nice as my mothers’ salmon pie. And then it was cake time. The best time, I love cake. The only silver lining of this whole disaster is that in total I will get four birthday cakes: there will of course be a celebration with my grandmother and Lars when it is safe to invite them and my best friend always makes me a completely homemade cake. While cake-eating, me and my friend recalled memories about our past and laughed a lot. Afterwards she had to go home and I was left alone feeling melancholy and drained from all the social interactions. I went to bed early.

The day after I intended to spend bedridden or in front of a computer, instead I experienced my first ever surprise party. I pulled myself together, applied deodorant and really enjoyed it. I even got more cake. It was family friends that wanted to celebrate and had made plans with my parents to surprise me. Having people being that considerate of you, even though they aren’t related means a lot. It was perhaps the best birthday present of all.

On this surprise cake I was suddenly 118 years old, or is it an inverted J?
This is the fourth birthday cake for those of  you who are counting.

Except for when they left and I resumed with my gloominess. When me and  my best friend were planning the sleepover, I told her that I would try and plan my grief crying so it would happen before her arrival, I was only somewhat joking. Surprisingly I have not yet had a proper crying, My eyes have been tearing up while writing this but that doesn’t count. So I shall channel weeks of uncertainty and days of disappointment and have a really chartartic crying after finishing writing this. 

Happy Birthday to Me!   

Books of March

Turns out I do most of my reading on the bus or while waiting for school to start since I’m always there way to early. Due to the circumstances not to be named I have not been reading that much and everything I have read has been very lighthearted and easily read.    

The Bookshop on the Corner

Jenny Colgan


Bought this one on a sale because I wanted something really lighthearted to read during these trying times, it did not disappoint. This is exactly the type of book that should be read during a longer vacation or when forced to stay home due to a virus. But… Maybe it fits better to read it during a vacation, after reading it I really want to go to Scotland. Colgan knows how to describe the scottish highlands in an alluring way. A bit sad to read it when you aren’t allowed to leave your home, therefore stopping all plans to go to Scotland before they even could begin to form. Although the books was a lovely easygoing escape that I didn’t expect much from I can’t help but feel that it was somewhat rushed at times. Not in the overall plot, just certain sentences felt rough. I read the swedish version so I will never know if it how Colgan wrote or if it is the fault of the translator. I do wonder a lot about the title, first I just thought that the Swedish translation was bad but it really do say “on the Corner” despite the actual bookshop being in a van and not on a corner? Very confusing. Despite that it is a very cute book.

Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine 

There is a movie based on this book starring Anne Hathaway that I have watched an embarrassing amount of times because I have terrible taste in movies and one of my favorite genres is anything based on Cinderella. The movie is nothing like the book, as it often is. Neither of them are bad, they just aren’t anything alike. The book is super duper cute, it is written for younger children, pre teens. It a heartwarming story about learning about consequences and standing up for yourself but most importantly, how important our own choices is, that no one should be allowed to take that freedom from us. Beside having some great life lessons it also has one of the cutest romances. Unlike the movie where the prince is arrogant, the book version is a complete gentleman (gentelboy) who only want the best for Ella. This is a book that I really wished that I had read when I was younger, but it still works for an older person.            

Kiss of the Royal 

Lindsey Duga

There are multiple reasons for why I liked this book. Firstly despite the lore being perhaps the most ridiculous one I have ever had the pleasure of reading it still felt well developed and thought through. Sure, having kisses be the catalyst for magic to work is a bit weird and having true love being the answer to all problems is maybe a bit cliche, but Duga makes it almost believable. And, you know, having true love being the solution to everything would be pretty nice right now. Secondly, I loved the character development. The relationships between the characters is good and really drives the story and the characters forward. I love the family bond between the main character and her page boy. I was in constant fear that the page would turn out to be in love with the main character and jealous of the love interest, a pitfall many authors fal in to (why do authors think that love triangles are fun?), luckily for me Duga avoided it. The only place where I truly think that Duga fails is in the romance, but now that I have written that out I realises that it may be due to the fact that the main character literally didn’t believe that love existed and there for made for a bad protagonist in that sense. When she finally accept that love is real the romance between the main characters is described fin. So, no the romance wasn’t bad. Lastly, unlike other authors, Duga chooses fantasy names that was not terrible or unpronounceable, although Lorena is a stupid name for a horse. In conclusion, this is yet another good escapism in a trying time.            

A week of distance studies

Thursday

This was our first day of homeschool, and it was weird. First lesson was chemistry, we all connected to a google meets meeting where our teacher laid out the ground rules and then we were off to watch a youtube video explaining the electron transport chain. It worked, but it was really odd. The most off putting thing, is that the teachers are still in school, so we can see the classroom in the background, but I know that I’m in my room.

 Social science was fun, my teacher wanted to see our pets, so most of them have now appeared in a meeting. Also, I ate lunch during this lesson, which felt odd but also really nice. Normally we have really late lunch so it was good to eat when I got hungry and not when I was starving.

 Math was also odd, we were actually connected the whole lesson, but our teacher muted his mic and if we had any questions we were to call him on his phone. Occasionally we could see him talking on it, but most of the time he just sat there. It was kind of tragic. 

Biology went surprisingly good, most of the time my teacher has a lot of problems with the technology, not his fault, but now when he didn’t have to struggle with a faulty connection between the computer and the projector things went smoothly. It also felt the most like a normal lesson, so that was a nice bonus. 

French lesson was bad. We were to do a listening exercise that turned out to be way too difficult, the questions were also very vague. If we had been in class we would have noticed that all of us were struggling and our teacher would come up with a new plan. Instead we were all panicking on our own, until someone said it in our class chat after about 45 minutes. In the end everything worked out fine, but it was really stressful for some time.

Pros: Having lie-ins, a lot of them. No travel time. The possibility to utilize the lunch break for something different than lunch. Also, being able to eat whenever.

Cons: No friends :(. Weird to be home all the time. No walking or free exercise, can you believe that I actually miss all of the stairs? Being able to eat whenever. Having a ridiculous amount of tabs open on the computer. 

Friday

I had a big breakthrough, I realised that my teachers can’t actually see what I’m doing unless I have my camera on. That led to me hand sewing during most of my lectures. It actually helps me learn, since I can’t focus unless I’m doing something with my hands and sometimes note taking isn’t possible. Although I can confess to getting so into it, that I only did one math question. It was a difficult one! I did actually start on another but then I got stuck and since I’m socially awkward and it only was a few minutes left of the lesson, I decided against calling my math teacher. That just felt so weird. Also, it worked out in the end, I’ve realised what I did wrong and will most likely be able to solve it the next lesson. I can also confess to not caring whether or not, my socialsience teacher saw me sewing, but I figured it wasn’t important what I was doing considering all we did was talk about when we were going to have the test. We moved it from Thursday evening to Wednesday morning, a big upgrade in my book considering I no longer sleep, but do enjoy my evenings. 

Pros: Sewing in class. Not having to spend an atrocious amount of time waiting for my bus.

Cons: Not being able to ask my math teacher a simple question. Not seeing my friends.

Monday

I start at eight on Mondays and usually have to get up at six, that was no longer a necessity. I did not leave bed until half past seven, some people in my class did not leave bed at all. My first lesson was French, and we are doing group projects. We did it all by Google Meets, my new normal. They have now seen my dog, and I accidently did some ASMR when trying to eat some very toasted bread.

 I also had English seminars, which had some extra difficulties, aka my friend’s wifi connection was really bad and she was therefore impossible to understand at times. That would never happen if we were allowed to be in school. 

My two science teachers have very different approaches to watching videos during class. We got to watch a fourteen minutes video during chemistry, she gave us half an hour to finish it and we were supposed to exit our video call. During biology we were not supposed to leave the call, just watch the video on a different tab. That meant that when my teacher thought that a sufficient amount of time had passed he started speaking again. A sufficient amount of time had Not passed, when he started speaking…. That process was repeated another time, his timing did not get better. 

After school the news that all our national tests are cancelled came. That now means that we get to live in even more uncertainty, not knowing what our school is going to do or when the test will be. Because we will need to be tested. Also, really looking forward to my next English lesson, all we have  been doing for the last weeks, and all planned for the weeks to come, is practice for the national test. I feel kind of sorry for my English teacher, all he’s been doing this term is changes in his plans, nothing has gone his way.              

Pros: Not having to get up at six. Eating breakfast during class. Continued with my sewing. Eating lunch in bed.

Cons: Having every lesson start with our teachers telling us how empty school is and how much they miss us, miss you too. Eating lunch in bed.

Tusday                                             

I finally faced timed one of my friends, during class but still. Do you know how ridiculously much easier it is to do French if you have someone to talk to, someone to share ideas and knowledge with. We did more in half an hour this morning than I did during the entire class last Thursday. 

English class was very fun. That was irony. Due to the decision to cancel our national tests the entire lesson was spent planning for futures that might happen. No one knows if the school will have some kind of school wide test, no one knows if we even will be allowed back to school after Easter break when the tests are supposed to happen. I hate living in uncertainty. At least my teacher promised us that we no longer can lower our grades with the tests, only improve them. Honestly, that was really helpful and took a lot of pressure of my back. I only have one criteria that I truly want to improve, so I can now place all of my attention there. Fun side not, one of my classmates used some typical slang in the chat and my teacher, who isn’t that much older than us, was very confused. It was wild. Does older people not know what yeet means?   

Swedish was really nice, we are writing a speech and I wrote something that I was really proud of. Really makes me remember why I enjoy writing in the first place. Sadly that argument was way more serious than my others, that and a positive comment from my teacher really makes me want to make the rest of the speech mach in seriousness. So I guess I’m rewriting it all. I have until Friday, it will be fine.                  

My physic teacher took a different approach than the rest and uploaded a video where he was talking through a video. It was fine, the sound was off sometimes, but over all the lesson was great. The only problem was that I usually works really closely with one of my friend during physics, she always makes the lessons extra fun and I really missed her today.

Despite being at home we managed to have a PE lesson, it was odd. We had to talk a walk and send screenshots of a steep counter to my teacher to prove that we really went out. Walking around where I live is perhaps the most boring thing I have ever been forced to do in school. It’s possible to take around two thousand steps and then it becomes way too repetitive, or I get so deep in to the forest so I become paranoid and think every sound is a bear, or worse, a moose. My teacher made us take five thousand steps. To cure the boredom I went back home and took the dog with me for the last two thousand. It helped somewhat, but instead of walking in the forest we walked on an open field and it was windy. I have not yet recovered from the wind induced coldness and fear I may be developing a cool. It could also just be symptoms of wearing my classeys to long, I don’t understand how people survive without contacts.              

Pros: I vacuumed my floor during a break. I wrote something really fenomenal. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. My cold hands made my father scream. 

Cons: No physic friend:(. Forced walking in unfavourable conditions.   

Although this was technically not a week of school I think this have been the longest I have ever written, so hopefully I will be excused. This has been a nice way for me to work thru the changes in my life, so I will probably continue with it and you will all get more than one week of distance studies described. I expect the texts to shorten when this is no longer new and confusing.

Until next time

Johanna

Wash your hands

I did not want to write this, but apparently it is rather hard to not write about something that is suddenly affecting every part of my life. 

I was in Stockholm when the news of the first confirmed case of corona in Sweden hit. Back then I told a acquaintance that there was no need to panic, that it was only one and that it would soon blow over. I was super wrong. Now all they talk about on the news is the new disease and every time my phone chimes I expect it to be told that the schools are closing and that the government are putting us all in isolation. They should close the schools just so that we no longer have to walk around in tense expectation and nervous uncertainty. I’m tired of having no clue what is going to happen to me in the immediate future. I’m tired of having to plan for to outcomes. I’m tired of getting messages of potential plans and status quo updates of what is happening with the school. But most of all I’m tired of hearing the word “corona” everywhere I go.        

My school cafeteria no longer allows the students to take their food themself, the personal server us instead. Today was the first day implementing this, it was a catastrophe. To be fair to the personal I have to mention that beside being their first day it was most likely also their most busy day. Beside the normal monday queues there was a scheduled breaking test for all second graders adding to the line. Anyway, I stood in line for ten minutes and moved almost  a meter. In the end we had to drop out of the queue and go to the local grocery store to buy lunch in order to make it to the test in time. I ate garlic bread for lunch.

Less than twelve hours after I wrote this they decided to close the schools leaving me with the dilemma about what to do with this text. I have decided to keep the paragraphs above and just add my new thoughts and feelings. Distant studies will be weird, but I have been mentally preparing for days and think that I will manages. The most important thing is to not forget to go outside and exercise, so I will work a lot on that. How knows, maybe this isolation is what I need to start riding again. I have also stocked up on fabrics and art materials so I should good to go for a while.

Speaking of stores, my dad went grocery shopping yesterday and they were out of potatoes. This means that I will go a week without potatoes! That has never before happened to me. Generally I’m not even that much of a potatoes fan, but something about being denied it really upsets me. I will never take you for granted again.

My swedish teacher made me aware of the fact that disease dystopias will probably be the next big thing in literatur (and films?) and I’m sad. I don’t particularly like dystopias to begin with, and those about diseases are just terrible. I have only read one good disease based book, Conversion, and it was certainly not a dystopia. 

On a similar topic, how many people do you think will become so interested in viruses and the immune system after this so that the choses to make that their field of study? Quite a lot, is my guess. I’m happy to have chosen not to study any more biology after this so that I won’t have to try and make my namn known in a sea of qualified persons. 

Viruses, however, are kind of cool, they aren’t even living things and yet they manages to paralyze whole societies. Their destructive power is off the charts. A lump of RNA1 that takes over your cells and make them reproduce2 for you. How did that even become a thing. Some of them don’t even have proper membranes3

This is where I leave you, 

Until next time, remember to wash your hand.

1. Covid-19 has RNA, but there are viruses with DNA as well.    

2. Reproduce is perhaps not the most correct word, but my first language is Swedish, that includes science terms.  

3. Covid-19 has one, that is why soap is a good protection, it repels the lipids in the membrane causing it to open up and the virus “dies” (Technically they can’t die, since they never lived in the first place.)  

Sources on this is a mix of things learned in class and things read on reliable sites on the internet, please do look up more trustworthy sources than me if you want to get the best facts.