Absence and reasons

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but somehow time just never seems to be on my side. Torucon is about two weeks away, so I’m working with the rest of the crew more or less around the clock to get everything in place in time for the convention.
I also just came back from Tokyo three weeks ago, which of course was amazing! We had such little time, but still made it to several really cool and nerdy locations – not least a couple of locations from SNOW as well, which was super exciting, so I’m gonna make a separate post about that one of these days (I’ve been meaning to basically since we got back home).

But now for the main reason for this post: I’ve been more or less absent for an entire year at this point.
I haven’t written anything, on this blog, on tumblr or anything else for that matter in this past year, and it’s mostly due to two factors: I’ve been busy, but more importantly, I’ve been sick.

I’ve tried to be open about my struggles, and illness, so I want to continue in that tradition, but I haven’t had the time or strength to talk about it until now.
This past year has been incredibly difficult, with a lot of stuff happening in my personal life, not only to me, but to people close to me as well. I’ve also been a full-time student this year, which really wasn’t the best of choices as my health was already deteriorating before the school year had even started.
I’m not looking to go into detail, partially because it’s private, and partially because there’s just been so much happening, and I don’t even know where to start. I guess it’ll suffice to say that I’ve been, and to a certain degree, still am sicker than I’ve been for many years.

The thing about mental illnesses is that you get used to them, especially if you’ve been ill since you were born, which is basically what my life has been like. I don’t define myself as my illness, nor do I see the illness as part of me, but it has obviously shaped me and my life to some extent. When you’ve never been completely healthy, you don’t know what it is like to feel healthy either. So in a way, you get used to it, and you live with it. But sometimes you feel better. For the past few years I’ve been a pretty functional human being. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that were impossible before, and I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown, gained skills and confidence. However, I tend to forget that I’m not entirely well, even when I do know my limitations and try to work with myself as best I can – but sometimes you relapse. This year has just been one long relapse, and for the most part, in addition to being dreadfully busy and stressed, I’ve been depressed, my anxieties have flared up, and I also received a “new” diagnosis (meaning that I’ve apparently had it for a while, but nobody bothered to tell me). It’s not “serious”, but my condition has been really bad. Add to this a lot of personal stress, and you get the reason for my absence. It’s very difficult when you are already feeling bad, and then you get the stress of uncertainty put on your shoulders as well. I don’t know what I’ll be doing after August, and that’s a huge stress factor as well. I want to write, but I don’t have any energy for it, or the time to do it.
I’m hoping that this fall will be calmer and that I’ll find my way back to my writing then, and also to posting regularly again maybe.
But for now, I need to listen to my body and take care of myself, because I haven’t really been doing that for this past year.

To anyone reading this who are struggling; Please know that it’s okay to take a break, it’s okay to break down, and it’s okay to be sick. You are not a failure, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of yourself.

Also, I had my (long overdue) birthday celebration yesterday, and the fact that I have people in my life that makes me smile like this, makes me think that somehow, I’ll be alright. ♡

Smairuuu

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A thank you

There are some people who make lasting impressions on your life, even if they only played a minor part, even if they were NPCS in your game of life; someone you didn’t really know much about, aside from the very basics – and that they were good people.

We lost a person like that a few days ago, and I only just learned about it on Tuesday. The news came as a shock, and I can only express my deepest condolences to his friends and those close to him, as I feel the strangeness and sadness flowing in.
This was someone who was a big part of my life in my teens, when I was starting to venture into the environment that I am now fully integrated in. He was one of the employees at one of (at that point two) comic book/nerdy stores in the city, when I started frequenting it, at first as a shy and held-back young teen, and then as I gradually bloomed into the very outspoken nerd that was on the inside. This was a man who was 20+ years older than me, with interest that to say the least, were a canyon of a distance from mine, but all the while spoke to me as an equal. He was someone who always greeted me – and everyone else – with a big smile and friendly chatter.
He was someone who would laugh and tell me not to be so proud of my uncanny likeness to Miyazawa, and Poemi, and who once gloated in basically guessing the entire plot of a yaoi manga they had held for me – without seeing the blurb on the back first.
He was a big man, and his fellow staff used to joke about making him a Totoro cosplay – because he was just that kind of guy; always friendly, always giving out the best bear hugs to anyone in need, or want of them.
As I went from being a casual customer, to a regular store-hanger (there was at some point talk of installing a hammock over the register for me) and then finally to an author selling my books in their shop, he was always supportive and encouraging. Even when I was a hyperactive, loud-mouth kid, he didn’t seem to mind, although it must have been exhausting to mind the shop with so many of us being so excited all the time.
He was a guy who would immerse you in discussions and make you miss your bus, and who always had the perfect recommendations when it came to books.
He introduced me to Redwall, and actually gave me the first volume, aghast that I had never heard of it. To this day, I have yet to read the rest of the series, but I treasure that book, and the memory of the man who gave it to me.

Trondheim’s environment of RPGS and geekery has lost a massive presence and a really good man.
I didn’t know him outside of the walls of the store, but he was still a big part of an important period of my life. In many ways, he was a major influence in the shaping of an entire generation of young nerds. And we shall all miss him greatly.

Thank you for everything, KIRR.

“Sometimes friends do go from us-it will happen more and more as you grow up […] But if you really love your friends, they’re never really gone. Somewhere they’re watching over you and they’re always there inside your heart.” –  Brian Jacques, The Legend of Luke

New Beginnings and all that

It seems I only pop in here to complain about never writing, and proceeding to never write…
Well, to anyone reading this, Happy 2016 in any case! I sure hope it will be for every one of you!

A couple of days ago, I wrote on my author page: “4 days into the new year, and I’m already behind on everything”. I still am, which is why this end-of-year post is six days late, and might be kind of half-assed. Sorry about that, but I also hope that you will still read it, because there are some things I want to express, though I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to say everything frankly or not.

To start with; 2015 wasn’t all bad. In fact, it had a lot of really good things to it, not only to me personally, but for the people around me as well, which to be honest, is a really great feeling!
For me though, 2015 was also a really rough year. The latter half in particular, which is largely the reason for my absence on social media, as well as my lack of social life in general.

Last year, I wrote about 2014 having been hard, with the tons of private exams, the change of jobs, the class I had to take and also a lot of private issues that put a damper on an otherwise good year.
This time around, the stress and tumults of 2014 appears to only have been the prologue of what was to come in 2015.
I really don’t want to go into details, because the wounds are still quite fresh, and the road forward from here is unpaved, but basically, after a rough start of 2015, due to some chaotic personal events, the months February ’till late July were full of exciting, good happenings; catching up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while, traveling to Stockholm to not only see, but also meet one of my favorite bands, cosplay events, festival events and preparations for Torucon and so on.
From late July and into August this kind of died down, and though there were assorted flecks of light, most of the time until right before Christmas was fairly dark and depressing.
I had to take time off from social media, even tumblr, where I wrote a short notice on having become ill, but not elaborating.

It’s no secret that I’ve had my bouts with mental illness for most of my life, but for the most part, it’s manageable. The past years have been relatively stable, so when it it again with such force, I was completely bowled over by how bad it used to be. I haven’t been this sick since 2008/2009, and I was hoping I’d never have to be here again. This time around, I’ve got so much on my plate, obligations and expectations, and no idea how to decide whether it’s time to stop and move in a different direction. Making the right choices is terribly hard, and so I’m stuck in this stand-still, where nothing really improves, trying to move forwards as best I can. Because of this, I’m probably going to remain offline and vague about things for a while longer.

In many ways, 2015 was a complete hell, but I also had a lot of good times. Particularly the last couple of weeks of the year, spent entirely surrounded by the best people; my family and friends who were all home for the holidays. I know I am going to crash when these days are over, but it was nice to have a break, and things to look forward to for a while.

As usual, I kept one of these:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A jar of lovely things that happened over the course of the year, and though the latter half of 2015 was so hard,  I still had a lot of good things happen that made me smile throughout the year:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

From the simplest signs of spring, to the greatest of 2015’s moments, some of the good memories accumulated this year included the following (no fancy image this year, because I had to reinstall my laptop and I haven’t been bothered installing PS yet):

♥In spite of it all, going to the reunion
♥Good friends and warm hugs
♥Sisterly bonding
♥Flopping bunny
♥ADAMS live
♥Meeting lovely readers
♥Reliving childhood, aka sliding down a hill
♥Surviving
♥Cosplaying Pinky
♥World’s best Gran
♥The year of BL (hopefully) (Comment; despite writing this down early in 2015, I’ve barely had time to check out any of these new BL things!) ♥Taking a walk for the first time in forever
♥Love and understanding
♥Hyde Cosplay ♡
♥Friends who buy you energy drinks and snacks
♥Still having things to be happy about
♥Love letter from Outland
♥“Team Bastard” vs “Team Loser”
♥Tears of happiness
♥Fanmail about Love Addict
♥Building a snowman despite the terrible snow
♥Crying Torucrew
♥Being a trusted ally for a friend
♥Shibuya-ward legislation!
♥Laughing again
♥Verdens kleineste filmkveld
♥Gaming inside with the storm raging outside
♥People being interested in Yuuki
♥Fangirling with Boo again ♡♡
♥Giving heartfelt compliments

This year, a lot of the loveliest things were related to love, support and co-dependency, personal feats and strength and…a surprising amount of mentions of food and presents (in the form of food) from friends, haha~ I’m lucky to have these people in my life!

I always like looking back at these notes of happiness in the start of the new year; to reminisce about every little moment, and smile at thinking about them. And it’s always so strange, like; there were some memories from last January, when we had a friend staying with us, of shopping, ice skating and trips to the forest – and then from December, having talked to the same friend on facebook. She’s back in Japan, and I received a present from her yesterday. It really makes you realize “Oh wow, it’s been a whole year!”
Amazing, but kind of melancholic at the same time.

2016 is looking out to have a rough first half as well, but I think eventually I’ll be fine. I have no resolutions, but I have made a few moves towards making a decision. I have some tentative goals. I hope that come summer, I will be back on track and back to writing. Even if this year won’t be the start of something grandiose, I think it will still be an exciting and challenging year, in a good way too!
Please wait for me 2016, I’m coming after you!

But first…I need to get to the doctor and deal with this eye infection. Such a great start to the new year!

If you read all of this, thank you very much!
I don’t know when I’ll be back in earnest, but I’ll do my best to hang in there. Take care guys, I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season

 

 

Thoughts on a birthday

This is gonna get sappy. Maybe.

Today’s Maaya’s birthday. Because he is a fictional character, he doesn’t age. In his case, he can’t age, obviously.
So, in canon, he will never be older than 18. However, Maaya as a character of my creation, is nine years old today. That is, March 15th is the date I picked as his birthday about two years after I had initially created him, and I don’t know the exact date or even month of his creation to be honest. So we are going to be referring to this day as his birthday regardless.

Nine years ago, Maaya was created in my mind, as a supplement to the development of Aki’s persona. As Aki’s past was beginning to unfold for me, I realized that there was a reason for his behavior. The wheels started turning, his background took shape. Maaya was part of this background. Though, at his point, he didn’t have a name. I knew what he looked like. I pictured him exactly the way he looks when they’re dancing in the fountain; with his asymmetrical hair dancing around his smiling face. I knew that they loved each other, and I knew how it would end. That was all.

When I started writing SNOW, I got to know Maaya in a completely different way. I found that he came to me very easily.
Maaya is a character that is very close to my heart in many ways. We have many shared traits, but between us, he is definitely the better person. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but occasionally people will ask me if I based him on myself.
The answer is no. Yes, but no.
I think most authors use pieces of themselves in their characters. Maaya and I do share many traits, such as our love for animals, taste in music, and our passion for social justice. However, I did in no way base this on myself. I think it’s more a case of life imitating art.
Maaya is incredibly important to me because he in many ways have changed me as a person. The me that started writing him in 2007, was a very different person.

His given name is spelled as “justice”. This was purposely chosen by me when I sat down to properly create him, but even in canon, his parents gave him a name they hoped he would live up to, which he did. Maaya is honest, outspoken, just and fair. He’s politically active, something I hadn’t really been up till that point.
In order to write him the way I wanted, I had to explore his world, and learn about things I’d previously had very little interest in, such as art for instance. He broadened my horizons in many ways. Most of all, he changed me.
In many ways, I’ve always been afraid of responsibility. I’m a fairly confident person, but somehow I’m not the best at human relations, I’m anxious and I have a bit of a Peter Pan syndrome. Meanwhile, Maaya is mature and responsible. And yet, he makes mistakes, and he allows himself to learn from them. He isn’t afraid of changing his mind, but he has a tendency of putting others first. Most of all, he is genuinely nice, and wants to protect and support those around himself.

One of the reasons Aki and Maaya develop their strong bond, is because Aki finds his place of belonging, something safe and stable, in Maaya. Though he rarely opens up to people, he almost instantly feels like he can trust Maaya, and ends up giving himself over – not entirely mind you, he’s still a bit stand-offish, but he knows that Maaya is there, and that’s the kind of reassurance he needs.
Meanwhile, I have never been good at these things. I’ve never really known how to respond when someone I know are having a rough time. Even as a child, I looked the other way if someone fell and scraped their knee, because I was so bad at dealing with other people’s feelings.
Maaya however, was definitely the kid who’d be the first to run over and ask “Are you okay?”, he’d be there to comfort, or to get a teacher if necessary.
And by doing so, he has inspired me.
It might sound crazy, since I wrote him. I’m his creator. Still, through writing, I have grown and developed, not only as an author, but as a person. I’ve learned from experiences that aren’t mine, and learned how to utilize them.
Maaya becomes the perfect example here, because most of my characters are so broken, they’re too cautious and even selfish. Maaya is truthful and selfless.

Over the course of these nine years, he’s become a part of me. And this development has lead me to take more responsibility, more action. I’m still very awkward socially, that is so, but improving somewhat. It’s probably also helped that I’ve gotten older, that I can look back on my own experiences as well, but I often look to him in situations where I’m uncertain of what to do.
(Honestly, if you’re not a creative soul, you’re going to think this sounds crazy, I’m sure.)
Maaya is always ready to lend his support and offer advice to those who need it. Slowly, I am trying to become someone like this. It’s important to care. And for some, it means the world.
Somehow, I learned that through this process of writing these novels.
Friendship and understanding are important topics in all my stories, naturally, because they’re such important topics in life. But you shouldn’t hold back if someone needs your support, if you’ve got something to offer, even when you don’t know them.

That’s why I try my best to keep in touch with my followers, to read your posts and your messages and offer my support. It might not be much, but at least I’m doing something. I think it doesn’t matter who you are, or what the relation is. Whether you’re my closest friend, a reader or a complete stranger whose blog I’m reading, I want you to know that I care, that you and your cause is important. Whether it’s about standing up to a friend who’s said something unethical and you disagree with it, writing an e-mail to a politician, calling them out, walking in a demonstration or a Pride parade, or stepping in on the side of someone being bullied – you’re making a difference.

None of us are perfect. He isn’t either, but Maaya taught me to be more humane. For that, I’m grateful.
I will continue doing my best to be there for the people I care about. Being something for someone else isn’t as hard as you might think.

Happy Birthday, Maa-kun. And thank you~

MaayaGif

Birthday Cosplay from 2013~
No matter how much he inpires me though, I still have a hard time liking his sweet tastes!

Honestly speaking.

A while back, I wrote a review-ish entry about ”LIFE”, Keiko Suenobu’s manga. In the same entry, I said that perhaps I would share my own experiences. Making the decision to do so has been tough, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve actually made it. But over the last few days, I have randomly stumbled across so many entries, documentaries and stories, I almost felt like I had to post this. So here we go.
Let us start with a gif:
And for a second, let us pay no mind towardsthis being a gif from Toddlers and Tiaras. Let’s focus on how it makes me physically hurt when I see people’s snarky comments, laughing at this little girl.
Okay.

I could start this entry by telling you how I was a naïve child, who loved cats more than anything. I have an obsessive personality, so when I get really into something, I’m really into it. One-tracked. But at 7, how was I supposed to know that saying something like that would haunt me for years?
I could tell you how I thought that other kids were also playful, childish and kind-natured, so I’d tell them these things, unabashedly.
I could tell you how my mistake at 7, continued to follow me for the next 7 years of my life.
What started as something I had said to my friends and classmates, was quickly picked up by the 2nd graders. I’m not sure how it escalated, but it did, to a point where I was bullied by the whole school. I’m hesitant to give the details around it, because even now, in my twenties, I’m afraid that people will laugh at what I said when I was 7 years old. I’m afraid that as a somewhat public person; with a blog and as an author, people will pick up on this and start throwing it in my face again. So I won’t tell you everything, because it’s still too difficult.

I won’t tell how it escalated from “have you become a cat yet”, to “where’s your tail?”, being yelled after me as I passed the elder kids in the school yard or on my way home.
I’m not gonna talk about how they found other ways to pick on me, like how I have a fierce temper, and they’d reel me up just to make me angry, then laugh at me. I’m not gonna talk about how I was in the 7th and 9th grade, being bullied by kids younger than me. Or how I would sometimes find myself face to face on the road to school, or at the store, with someone who would just stare at me and then say “you’re really ugly.”

In truth, my experience wasn’t the worst.
I was never subjected to physical bullying; nobody ever beat me, shoved me or took my things. This was in the 90s, so we had no internet or cell phones. Compared to kids these days, I was let off easily. I’m also a very strong person; I’ve never really cared about what people think, or been afraid of being me. So it wasn’t like I went home crying day after day. What was my biggest problem was the fact that I hate feeling patronized. Whenever someone like my friends, would speak up against the bullies, I’d feel like I was unable to fend for myself. When my friends got angry and yelled back at the other kids, I just wanted to sink into a hole in the ground; because I was weak, because now even more people knew that I was being bullied, and because I felt like they were looking at me with condescendence.

My strength falters at one point; I’m horrified of making mistakes. But I was never good at sports, and I’d always be yelled at, even by kids who were my friends during gym class for example. I was never fast enough, never good enough. At this point, I’m getting more personal than I’d like to be. So I’m not going to talk about dealing with anxiety at a very young age, and having it grow from there into something I was unable to handle, causing me to drop out of school at seventeen, after hitting rock bottom. I’m not going to talk about the extreme pressure I can subject myself to, just so I will exceed at something and thereby erase my own failure, or at least divert people’s attention from it. Or the fact that I, despite my extreme confidence and carefreeness, still worry that I’ll say something that other people can laugh at, or pick up on and rub in my face.

I’m not going to talk about how I find it incredibly strange that even when I was being subjected to ridicule by kids from every class at school, nobody put a stop to it. I know that the teachers were aware of it. I remember brackets of conferences where they would ask how I was doing, and if I was still being bullied. I’m sure there were concerns, but for some reason I can’t remember if there were active measures taken to stop this. I remember writing a text for my midterm in 8th grade, about the past 7 years, and the teacher gave me the highest mark for it; but she didn’t ask how I was doing, or if it had stopped.
Several of my friends were also bullied at some point; for being geeks, for being “ugly”, for not fitting in. I can’t remember those cases being dealt with either.  None of the cases were invisible, so then why?

To some readers, it might seem like what I went through is nothing like “real bullying”.
Because there was no violence, because nobody told me to go die or the likes, because I was capable of getting through it without crying myself to sleep every night, and because it was generally anxious and that was why I had a history of absence.
I even catch myself thinking that way sometimes; “was it really that bad? Can it be called proper bullying?”
But then I remember that I was 7 when it started, 14 when it cooled down – or at least when they found new reasons to target me, but at which point I had gained strength and some allies that weren’t easy to mess with. I also remember how my group at upper secondary school stood out, and how we were easy targets – how easily I would tear up when someone who hadn’t known me longer than a few months made almost the exact comment I’d been hearing for seven years of my life.

In the end, I think someone I know was right when he said “It’s the victim that defines what bullying is.”
But for safe measure, let’s have a look at a definition, from Wikipedia:
Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.[15]
Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons.” He defines negative action as “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways”.[16]

That says it all. You can’t write off that someone’s being bullied because “kids will be kids”, or because there is no violence or legitimate threats in the picture.
Many kids who are bullied are feeling humiliated, and the humiliation will increase if they tell someone and that person takes action – especially since these actions rarely have consequences, and the bullying often escalates.
Many kids suffer in silence. For many, the roughest time might not be while they’re going through it, but afterwards, when they’re trapped in their own painful, unresolved feelings from early age.

Discomfort is enough. It doesn’t have to reach the point of self-mutilation, suicide or anxiety or depression. Discomfort, stomachaches, restlessness at the thought of the weekend almost being over… Telling someone that they’re not being bullied is not okay. Claiming that “there is no bullying in this class” because nobody’s going through the things you see on the news, in documentaries or in movies, is not okay. Telling people to “die/hurt themselves/fuck off” on the internet and claim you’re not serious is not okay. Because you don’t know what people have gone through, or the insecurities they’ve been through in their lives.

I think I went way off chord here…
And part of me feels like I shouldn’t post this. That would be the part who’s afraid of becoming a target again, the part that feels like what I went through wasn’t bad enough, the part of me that fears that others will claim I’m just whining without knowing real pain.

But I’m going to post this anyway.
Here goes.