Things Written by Everett

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My Unabashed Opinions (Whether You Like Them Or Not) -An Expats View

When I first moved to Sweden 8 years ago, I remember going into my first few Swedish language classes that were full of Iranians, Iraqis, Somalians, Libyans, Afghanis and so forth, and having to introduce myself and where I came from. While I’ve joking told people that I thought about saying Canada instead of the US… I actually wasn’t joking. Obama had just taken office after one of the worst Presidents in history, and it sucked feeling I needed to add “but I didn’t support Bush or the wars” at the end of my introduction. Over the course of Obama’s presidency I slowly felt better about saying I was American to all the new people I met. Swedes admired Obama (for the most part; Guantanamo was one of their major issues with him) and so did I. Now with the orange guy becoming molester and chief… I feel just like the Americans wanting to physically relocate to Canada; except I want to do it ex post facto.

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While everyone I know in the US identifies by their skin color, religion or political affiliation, here in Sweden I am almost always identified as American. The orange guy will be the representative for all Americans for the next 4 years whether we want him to be or not. Once again I’ll feel the need to defend myself when someone hears from my speech that I’m foreign and asks where I’m from.

I joked a lot about President Elect P***y Grabber before the fact, but that’s because I misplaced my faith in the American people. Like 90%+ of the world, I too fell victim to thinking that there was no way the country would vote to move so far backwards (hence the “Again” in Drumpf’s slogan). I didn’t see that white America was actually feeling unrepresented from over here in my expat bubble. I guess the politicians they elected to represent them again Obama had to spend all their time trying to repeal Obamacare 70+ times instead of trying to help their base and it’s all the damn Kenyans fault right? Now it’s no longer a joke. This is a reality show too real to watch.

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All day yesterday I was reading tweets and stories about all of the hate crimes being committed by people (and children) chanting “Trump 2016!” or “Build the wall!” or “10 feet higher!” or “Go back to where you came from!.” Whether these hate crimes are just being reported on due to the election or not, the fact that the people committing them are using their new President’s name and rhetoric to embolden them in their hate is the unjustifiable part. Minority children were being bullied and beat up at their schools while their fellow classmates and Americans chanted phrases and hate they heard from their TV’s and their parents. Women were being grabbed inappropriately by men – again, sadly nothing new – but this time using President Elect “Give me a Tic Tac’s” name to feel justified in their actions. This is what these people think America being great again is like. The only positive thing for people to keep in mind is that Hillary actually did win the popular vote. It’s not a majority of your fellow Americans that feel like this. Also, even the popular vote was only half of eligible voters, which doesn’t include kids 18 and under. The support for the “You’re Fired!” guy is actually smaller than people think, it’s just being magnified by the media. Check out #safetypin and wear a normal safety pin on your shirt/jacket to let those who are terrified know that you are on their side.

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I’m fortunate (I hope) that Drumpf being President won’t affect me as much as it will those of you stateside. I’ll feel the environmental effects of Myron Ebell being appointed head of the EPA, as he believes that climate change isn’t real and that we should all pray to our gods for sunshine and rainbows as we rape the Alberta tar sands for more gas to put into our gas guzzling trucks that make us feel big and strong. I’ll feel the economic effects of President I’d-Date-My-Daughter’s non-plan to save the US economy by pillaging the government and slashing the taxes of the wealthy. I may feel the effect of his anti-immigration policies by having trouble getting in and out of the US when I decide to risk going there. Most of all, I’ll feel the effects he has on my family here and stateside. While many of them are supporters of the former beauty pageant owner, what happens – good or bad – affects them; no matter who they voted for. We’re in the process of claiming my newborn son’s right to be an American citizen, and honestly I’m not sure I want to subject him to that. Not only is the US one of two countries in the world with Citizen Based Taxation, meaning “Taxation without representation” for us expats (my son included once he gets a job), but if President Dump starts a war that imposes the draft for years to come… that could include my son. I will move up to the tip of Sweden and live with the reindeer before my son gets dragged along in the workings of American politicking. Lastly, Sweden is closer to some of the countries that orange Hitler wants to bomb. With nuclear armaments being waved around like each countries’ dick, it’s hard to feel safe even in a country that prefers to not take sides.

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To all the Donald supporters: feel proud, feel represented, and feel happy that your guy won. You’re allowed that, but don’t tell me to feel the same. Sure, I’ll cheer the Don when he signs in term limits for Congress. I’ll also clap when he imposes a 5 year waiting time on all government officials before they can become lobbyists. I’ll tip my hat when he removes lobbied cash from all future elections. This stuff will help the progressive army immensely. Outside of those things, I’m turning my back on everything else he does. Whether his policies work – that’s still to be seen. If they don’t… you supporters aren’t allowed to turn your backs on him, because I know that everything good he manages, you are 100% going to take credit for your vote. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. So congrats on making history. You elected the first President who has a pending rape case against him, who has racketeering charges pending in court, who gropes unwilling women and who will stick it to Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. You’re lucky the House and Senate are on your side, because if they weren’t, this new President could already be eligible for an impeachment trial according to many constitutional law professors.

To the rest of you: look up your local Democrat and Independent representatives and urge them to block everything the con man wants to pass, exactly like they did to Obama for 8 straight years. This non-politician doesn’t have the knowledge to find work-arounds like Obama managed.  Tell those representatives that if they don’t filibuster everything, you’ll find someone in two years who will. People are saying to give this man a chance like we did Obama. I recall Republicans saying they will do everything in their power to block him from doing anything on day 1; and they did. Let those you see in public who look afraid know that you are out there to protect them and their right to the pursuit of happiness. And for all of your god’s sakes… protect anyone you see being harassed or hurt. If the police you report to won’t help or try to make things worse, tell them to get on their radio and call someone who will protect you. Turn off FOX, CNN and MSNBC and find outlets that give you verified news sans fear-mongering and politicization. It’s okay if the news you find has a bias – we all do – but it also needs to have facts and multiple sources that you can verify if you want. Learn from this election and get informed. You can still register for vote any day of these next 4 years, so don’t stop helping people do that. My vote this election was suppressed by the Texas government. Had they even attempted to notify me until the voting registration deadline was up, I would have needed someone to tell me to check that I was still registered earlier. I’m planning to wreak havoc on local Texas elections from Sweden and make sure that no Dem in Texas is missing my vote whether it affects me or not.

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I wasn’t planning on voting for Hillary until literally the last 2 or 3 weeks of this campaign. I was a “Bernie Bro” as the media likes to say. And I’m fucking pissed off about the results. My constitutional right to vote was stolen from me this time. One more vote wouldn’t have made a different in red Texas, but in two years it might. I won’t let you down again America. I may be a dual citizen and live abroad, but I will no longer sit back and watch the country decline from afar. This blog will hopefully be proof of that. Thanks to anyone who read this. Feel free to comment, flame and troll below. – Everett

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Review)

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The first thing that I need to write is that this review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will contain spoilers. I’m not talking about just a few, I’m writing whatever I need to, to work through my thoughts and feelings about this film; of which I have many. So please do not continue reading without having first seen the film. A story like Star Wars is meant to be experienced first hand, not through the words of others. Read this review only if you’ve seen the film and are curious as to how I have experienced it.

I wasn’t looking forward to this movie in the traditional sense. I didn’t have the feelings I had, the day before Guardians of the Galaxy, coursing through me all day today. It’s not because I wasn’t excited, but due to the fact that I was worried about allowing myself to get too excited. Star Wars is a franchise that I grew up on. My favorite stuffed animal as a child was an ewok and my babysitters read my sister and I Star Wars books as bed time stories. I was scared to death about how this movie would change my perspective or memory of those classic films. The prequel trilogy was just that… a prequel, and no matter what they did in those films, they didn’t ruin how the original trilogy played out and ended. We all basically stood next to Luke Skywalker as Darth Vader’s corpse was burning and we felt victorious alongside all of our favorite characters; who were alive and going to live happily ever after. This film though, changes the fates of those characters. I love to think that Han and Leia got married and had kids, maybe Leia trained in the force, and so did her kids. Maybe Luke had met someone and lived happily ever after training kids strong in The Force. We can no longer imagine that happy ending… this movie tells us what happens. So I wasn’t excited in the traditional sense. It was more of a feeling of entering hallowed grounds and witnessing something you are hoping is incredible, while at the same time something that could tear down everything you knew and held dear. While this may sound overly dramatic, fear not… I loved the film. I just have too many emotions flowing through me right now to make sense of them. I’m going to try though as I write this review, that will no doubt be unstructured and messy… but it’s purely me writing my thoughts and feelings as they come.

I had only seen the first initial trailer for The Force Awakens. After that I avoided news and any following footage like the plague. I didn’t want to mar my experience of seeing it the first time, but there were a few details that snuck through or were pre-existing that hampered or prepared my expectations. One of these details was the fact that Harrison Ford hates the character Han Solo. Which is really sad. Han Solo is a character that Ford pretty much gave birth to. He gave the character a unique life that no other actor could have given him, and that life was shared and loved by millions of people around the globe. I get that he didn’t want to be defined solely for his role as Solo, but how could Ford hate a creation that so many others held so close to their heart? Honestly most people know Ford for much more than just Solo, so I can’t imagine that being his main reasoning. I bring this up because I heard anecdotally that Ford had always said that the only way he’d return to the role of Han Solo would be if they killed him off. I heard that anecdote long before the announcement that he would return, even before the Disney merger, and once I had heard that he was returning, I just knew that Han Solo was dying. The biggest surprise of this film is the fact that Han Solo dies, and I’m a bit sad that I unknowingly spoiled it for myself by knowing how Ford felt. It’s almost like Ford spoiled it for me on purpose. So while I’m heartbroken that Han Solo is gone, I was prepared for that loss and braced for impact when I saw it coming. Han Solo returned in this film as his former self. No matter how Ford felt, he gave us our beloved nerf herder for one last film and I appreciated it. This film really was a Han Solo-centric film too. The trailers made it out to seem like Han and Chewy were just showing up as a throw back for fans, but the trailers for this film really fooled me. The dynamic between Han and Leia, the reason they were separated and the revelation that Kylo Ren was really Ben Solo, their son, really worked well during this story. One could draw some loose connections between the original story’s struggle between father and son to this new story. I really hope Han’s death was not in vain. I want Han to live on not just in the viewers hearts and memories, but within the story as it continues. After seeing The Force Awakens, I’m going to be looking forward to the Han Solo origin story film they are rumoring to be coming. I think episode VII did Han justice and gave him a send off, that I all knew was coming, but was that of a hero and a loving father. Rest in peace Han.

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Coming into this film I was secretly hoping that Kylo Ren was going to be a lame villain. Because I am a terrible human being, I was hoping that everyone who bought Kylo Ren toys and his shirts and Christmas ornaments would watch the film and see that he was super lame so I could laugh and point. I also don’t care for Adam Driver as an actor so it reinforced my feelings before the film… but gosh damn it I loved Kylo Ren. Now I feel like I want those shits and toys my friends have with him on it, and I really enjoyed Adam Driver as Ren. The thing that the prequels did mostly wrong that the original Star Wars films did so right was the villains. Darth Vader was complex. He had feelings that were visible to the audience even though he wore a mask. Emperor Palpatine was creepy as hell and showed more character in Return of the Jedi than the prequel villains did during three films. That character was something Darth Maul, as bad ass as he was, and Count Dooku greatly lacked. Kylo Ren’s character was written in a extremely intriguing way that made me really fall in love with his villainous character close to the same way I did for Darth Vader. Driver portrayed his character so brilliantly. We could see “Ben” struggling to come out in every scene that he appeared unmasked. Ren’s villainy plays off of the idea that he’s the opposite of the earlier days of Anakin who struggled with sometimes feeling the hate flow through him and cloud his judgement. Ren struggles with the feelings of the light side that he desperately wants to resist for some reason. What confused me with his character was the scene where he was talking with the recovered mask of Darth Vader. Since he was trained by Luke Skywalker, surely he knew that Vader eventually accepted the light side and helped vanquish the dark right? Why would he be telling Vader’s helmet that he doesn’t want to feel the light, when Vader is an example of how when you accept the light you conquer? Something that Supreme Leader Snoke said to him must have really twisted his mind if he doesn’t realize that. But I think that kind of discrepancy can be looked over and taken as a part of the complexity that is Kylo Ren. It’s also interesting because the whole story from Kylo Ren’s birth to his turn to the dark side and murdering of other jedi trainees is left as just a mention to explain who he is. I almost feel like I want a trilogy of Star Wars films depicting him as a child, pod racing and then… just kidding. The reveal that Ren is Han Solo’s son comes very early the film. That’s interesting in itself, because the Star Wars “I am your father” scene is iconic and I’m sure most fans, like myself, were expecting a reveal of who Kylo Ren was to follow suit. The fact that they just went out and said it was another tell that Han was dying in the end, but the way they had Ren kill his father was extremely well done and still surprising for those of us who knew it was coming. Because of the earlier scene where Ren questions if he can kill his father and forsake the light, Driver’s performance during the death sequence actually almost convinced me that he may turn a new leaf and accept the light, but when he doesn’t the demeanor that he takes on harkens back to that of Anakin Skywalker’s during the Battle on Mustafar. We see that Ren has rage fits through out the film, which shows how untrained and immature he was before turning to the dark side, but after he’s killed his own father you can see that he’s resigned himself to the dark path that he can no longer come back from. While the final (amazing) lightsaber battle against Rey leaves Ren down and wounded, there is no doubt that Snoke’s orders to fetch Ren were followed through in the same way Palpatine’s were to fetch Anakin’s, and that we’re going to be seeing a more mechanical, Darth Vader-like Kylo Ren in the next film. I’m excited for that, because like Anakin, once Ren gets his metal hand and has to leave the mask on to cover that wicked scar, he’s going to be even more villainous than before. If there’s one thing that makes Ren more dangerous than his predecessors is the fact that he’s so undisciplined and can become unhinged at any moment, making his actions rash but unpredictable.

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It was amazing how fast J.J. Abrams’ new characters won me over. I absolutely love Daisy Ridley’s Rey after seeing this film. I knew that she was going to wind up a force user in the end, and I was still excited to see her realizing it herself. Her character shows a ton of self independence that a lot of female characters aren’t given in films now-a-days. We get a few funny lines by her as Finn is acting out the trope of holding the female character’s hand to help escort her to safety, but Rey just says “Let go of my hand!” and “I can run without you holding my hand“. She also displays extreme cleverness and intellect which is really nice to see in a lead heroine. Another thing that really showed the strength in the writing of this film was the relationship between Finn and Rey. They didn’t jump straight to the romance like I was expecting. It was almost the exact opposite. Rey and Finn show feelings of extreme friendship after everything they’ve been through, but nothing more than a kiss on the forehead was had in this film. I give major props to the writers for not giving us romance in this film outside of Han and Leia. I even felt like there could possibly be some stronger feelings between Poe and Finn, so that would be an interesting turn of events that I actually support and would like to see happen. John Boyega’s Finn or FN-2187 (2187 is actually my birth date if simplified so I was biased from the start) was a really fun character, as he was completely different from what the trailers and posters portrayed him to be. All of the few posters and previews I’ve been unable to avoid showed Finn as a Jedi. There was no doubt that he was a Jedi from anyone you asked before the movie released, because in all of the movies before this one, if you had a lightsaber you were a Jedi. I really liked that they tricked us. I felt like it was the one part of the movie that wasn’t spoiled for me. I also liked Finn’s motivations during the film, but I feel like there should theoretically be more Stormtroopers like FN-2187, therefore meaning that you’d see a lot more occurrences of them going AWOL, but we weren’t given any indications points one way or another. I would have liked a little bit more on what makes Finn special in his reasons for going AWOL just to add to the believably in his situation. He was taken when very young, trained and brainwashed into the Stormtrooper ways just like everyone else who were slaughtering the residents of Jakku, so why was he unique in feeling like he couldn’t adhere to his training? Either way I really enjoyed Finn. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron was another instantly classic hero very much in the same vain as Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy was. Poe really is just the classic bad ass fighter pilot who in the end manages to pilot his way into the core of the giant Starkiller weapon to cause it to explode. They also really worked their magic with BB-8. That was another character with a ton of merchandising that I was hoping would flop due to me being a terrible person, but I couldn’t help but think every time BB-8 was on screen “Gosh damn it that little ball is adorable“. BB-8 is another instantly lovable droid who’s name will be synonymous with R2-D2 and C3PO throughout the upcoming years. BB-8 had personality and will no doubt be the favorite character for a wide generation of kids and new fans. Instant classic characters. I can’t wait to see more of them… but seriously JJ… no ewoks? You could have at least given us one in the background.

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One of the feelings I was left with after viewing this movie for the first time was that of confusion. I knew this was Star Wars, and it sounded like Star Wars, and it featured all of my favorite Star Wars characters and types, but it just didn’t feel like Star Wars. It felt like a J.J. Abrams movie. Which isn’t a bad thing. I generally like most of the stuff he does, but this movie felt extremely new age. I’m not sure what they could have done to make it feel like the older films outside of shooting them with older cameras, so I’m not really saying it’s a bad thing that they should have tried to prevent, I just felt it looked and felt different. The prequel movies all felt like they were Star Wars films and they were decently up to date in terms of effects and graphics, but something about Abrams’ style made this one feel like the odd one out and more like the other films we see now days. While that’s said, there was a lot of absolutely gorgeous intricacies placed throughout this movie. There are lots of very small details of things happening in the background and within the story that really show the higher quality of standards that Abrams requires before he’ll release a film. Scenes like the sundering and splitting of the ground between Rey and Kylo Ren after their lightsaber battle was really exquisitely done when it could have easily been seen as a silly trope or deus ex machina to prolong the bad guy. How the Starkiller planet blew up and just got eaten from the inside by the star that it absorbed was absolutely brilliant, and a lot of the minor effects during the spaceship battles were well done too. While Abrams’ movie doesn’t feel like a traditional Star Wars movie or not doesn’t play as large a role as it should when you start to realize that the quality of how it was made is worth the change to the feel.

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With a lot of fan service being paid in this film with a ton of lines being rehashed from the older films, The Force Awakens certainly doesn’t disappoint like the prequel trilogy. The story feels like a proper continuation. The last scene where Rey flies to the ocean planet to see the island she always dreamed of only to find Luke Skywalker was beautiful. Top that off with the fact that they didn’t speak a single word, and you got a really smart ending to the film that a lot of people might not have expected. The audience just sits there waiting for Mark Hamill’s hero to say something but when the credit start to roll, I just felt all of the possibilities and consequences that could come from that small unspoken gesture of Rey giving Luke back his father’s lightsaber come flooding into my head. Imagery was a huge part of this film and Anakin’s lightsaber almost played the role of a character in the story with how it was used. While other sites are touting ‘hidden’ cameos by Ewan McGregor and Frank Oz, I actually heard their voice over during the scene where Rey touched the lightsaber for the first time. I would be sad for the people who actually think that was ‘hidden’ because it was very much intended for us to hear. Will Luke take his old lightsaber back and finally return? Will he tell Rey to keep it so that he can train her in how to use it? Probably, but he could also tell her to leave and go back where she came from. It’s an open ending which usually leaves me feeling unsatisfied, but because they waited until the last minute to finally show our original hero Luke Skywalker, I felt satisfied in the fact that he appeared (I knew he would). This leaves it open to who Luke Skywalker has become. A single sentence from him could have clued us into his mental state or what he thinks of Rey appearing in the Millenium Falcon. We know that this mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke is out there, and hopefully we’ll learn more about what happened in the time between episodes six and seven in the next film from Luke himself. Where did Snoke come from? How was he able to turn one of Luke’s trainee’s (and nephew) from right under his nose? These kind of questions are what makes a great first chapter in a trilogy. They give you just enough to be excited for the next film, but barely anything concrete to speculate about. I honestly have no clue what is going to happen next.

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Overall, while my emotions were all over the place after this film, I really enjoyed the film and it didn’t mar my memories of the older films. It just replaced that fantastical, happy ending that I had thought was the true ending for 28 years, and replaced them with a far more grim but interesting story. I feel like Luke will eventually play the role of Yoda or Ben Kenobi and train Rey in the ways of The Force (even though she taught herself quite fast), and they may even reveal that Rey is Luke or Leia’s daughter. It would be a cool reveal for episode eight to reveal that Ben Solo and Rey are siblings, but I feel like Ben would know if they were. There wouldn’t be a reason for them to seperated Rey and Ben at birth. So it’s possible that she’s Luke’s daugther, which is what most people are expecting. I wonder where Leia’s story would go if Rey didn’t turn out to be related to her? I would hope that Kylo Ren will forsake the dark side at the end in a way that Leia could feel or see, just before he ends himself and Snoke, but that’s just pure fantasizing how it will go. That’s also very close to how the original trilogy ended, and there have already been too many rehashings of the original story in just this one episode. I think after this film set up the first part of a brand new trilogy, it’s going to be a completely different feeling going into the theater for episode eight. Now that I know the story is safe in J.J. Abrams’ hands, I’m going to probably be vibrating with excitement before the opening crawl of the next one. It’s too bad the next movie doesn’t release until 2017. That’s a lot of time that I’m going to have to avoid spoilers. I think going into the next one, I’m going to try and avoid everything, even the trailer, because I think The Force Awakens would have been insanely fun if I hadn’t had any previous knowledge of anything beforehand. Let me know in the comments what you thought of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and share your thoughts. I left a lot out in my review, because honestly there was a ton of stuff I could have gotten to but just don’t have the time to write about, but if you want to fill in the stuff I missed with your own thoughts, that’d be great. I hope everyone has a great holidays, and may the Force be with you… always.

 


Cancer is beaten!

Exactly a year ago today was one of the weirdest and worst days of my life, as I was driven from my local doctors office to the ER of one of Stockholm’s biggest hospitals, only to be admitted for fear of a strange lump in my stomach being cancer. It was today a year ago that the battle begun, and it was yesterday of this year that it ended. The results of my last PET scan were completely clear of any cancer and I’m finally done with that part of my life. Unlike last year, I’ll finally get to celebrate my now fiance’s birthday with her and her family, and feel good while doing it. Thanks for all of the support along the way and I’ll see most of you soon!

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Battle

It’s been a while blog. I’ve neglected you. It’s been almost a full year since I posted something new because of multiple reasons. First I was hoping to use this blog as a way to inspire me to write a story I’ve had in my head for years. The prologue was the last thing I wrote. I have a few more chapters written, but I like a few people to look over them before I put them out into the ether, and those people have generally failed me in that area. So nothing has been added to the story yet, but I’ll probably just put it up in it’s rough draft form anyways. What ever.

The main reason I’ve been gone for so long is because I’ve been off battling cancer. In September of last year I was diagnosed with highly malignant diffused b-cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in the general area of my appendix. From what I understand it was the size of a pretty large sweet potato that spiderwebbed up my whole intestinal system. I had felt a lump in my lower stomach for a few months, and the doctors here in Sweden told me it was just a lump of muscle or some bullshit, after feeling my lump for literally 1 minute. The doctor quickly left the room and I was just thinking okay, well what the fuck it doesn’t hurt, but he’s the doctor I’ll trust him. So as all of that was happening I had been having stomach issues, that didn’t seem odd at first, but quickly became an everyday thing, but it wasn’t because of the lump of muscle so why worry right?! I flew home to the US for my sister’s wedding, which was great except that the next two days after the wedding were of me laying in bed at my Mom’s in excruciating stomach pain. No sleep was to be had, and it was one of the worst times in my life. Needless to say my girlfriend was worried sick, so she booked an appointment at the SAME doctors office with a different doctor, that would occur literally 15 minutes after we got home. So I went and saw him and he thought something was odd so he booked a few tests which eventually resulted in a scan that saw the tumor. The pain I was experiencing was the tumor completely crushing my small intestine to the point where nothing could pass through. Pretty crazy stuff huh?

It was a pretty hard time for everyone involved, not just myself. The only good thing that came out of the whole thing was that every member of my immediate family came over to visit, half of which was for the first time. A lot of which was me being too tired to do much or sitting in a hospital room for hours, but still good enough. It also got my Mom and Dad together in a room for once and forced them to work through some long withheld issues, and now they have let go of any negative feelings between them. My girlfriend almost lost her shit with my Mom saying in our one bedroom home for 3 weeks, but after she left, everything was fine. I’ve gotten a ton of support from members of my extended family that I haven’t seen in years which was nice, but a lot of the support came in ways of prayers and godly things that don’t help me at all being a free thinker, but I appreciated the support anyways.

I was given a pretty rigorous dosage of chemotherapy since I am still quite young. At first it wasn’t a big deal. I went in, got chemo through the port in my neck then got out a few days later. The only issues I had with my cancer then was the ileostomy I had received since my intestines were blocked. The thing drained too fast and I probably only got 10% of the nutrients and hydration I consumed. Though later after all my hair had fallen out and the chemo had multiplied concentration in my body, I started to feel the second half of the treatments a bit too much. That was the cancer you see in television and movies. You know the cancer where you have the urge to puke come from out of no where, or you lay in bed all day sick, or you’re too weak to even walk around the house without being winded. That part of cancer sucked. Every two weeks I went back into the hospital. Needless to say, even though I had my computer with me in the hospital, I just didn’t feel like writing at all.

Well it’s been over half a year since I was diagnosed and I think (hope) I’m on the final stages before remission. I’ve had some testing recently that was just a horrible experience (like TWO endoscopies one via the colon, and I didn’t receive any anesthesia!) but they all came back showing normal signs. So now we are just waiting to get another scan done. As long as that comes back clean, I’ll be ready to reverse my ileostomy, and begin to heal and become normal again.

My dream the past few months has been of spring and warm weather. I just want to be able to run in shorts and a t shirt in my newer pair of running shoes. I want to be able to eat all the restricted foods I shouldn’t eat while I have an ileostomy, like lettuce and corn and peanuts. I am going to start school again next week, and I’m actually going to try and get somewhere with it. I haven’t had the slap in the face most people get when they have cancer, and realize that I’m only mortal and I almost lost my life. I still feel immortal and the fact that this cancer is losing to me, is proof of that, but this immortal is tired of sitting around letting his life pass him by anyways. There is always a chance this bitch cancer can come back again, and in some more famous people with the same type I have, it has, but I think those people (Andy Whitfield to name one) they worked their bodies to exhaustion too fast and too soon after remission, leaving themselves vulnerable to reemergence. Oh well.

Either way things turn out, I still want to get this story written. I am reading a freaking fantastic book right now called Words of Radiance that is sure to light my fantasy writing spark again once I’m finished and I’ll start putting stuff up on here again. Although I may try and just write random stuff like this more as well. It feels like a waste of blog to just post chapters of my story once a month. I’ll definitely post more pictures at least of my progression.

Me! Starting to grow SOME hair back.

Me! Starting to grow SOME hair back.


Metal Age: Prologue

So I started writing the prologue of a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for the past, lets say, five years or more. This story was thought up way before the recent post apocalyptic craze going through the media market today. Sadly if I had started writing this earlier, I would have had it done and ready to go when the craze first hit, but maybe I can get something written before the trend fades away (like the vampire craze has). My idea may not seem unique at first glance, but hopefully as you read a few chapters (that I’ll post as soon as I’m satisfied with the revisions) you’ll realize how unique of a story it is going to be. I most likely wouldn’t have started writing it, if I had found anything out there remotely close to what I’ve got stewing in my head. I have even purchased a few books that sounded similar, just to make sure my story is original. This character in the prologue is a “secondary main” character that will be featured in the prologue and throughout the story from others perspectives. The rest of the book will follow three other characters, who you’ll be introduced to in the first three chapters. This has only been self edited, so please leave any comments or corrections if you feel the need, and I can make the edit within the post. As always feedback is welcome, and I’d love to see what you all think of my story, and if you want more let me know! Enjoy.
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Prologue

She was running just about as fast as her legs could carry her. They’re going to kill him! She thought. If I don’t get to him before they cross the border, they will find and kill my son! And so she ran. A lifetime of treading upon sticks, stones and bits of metal from the ruins that lie half buried in the ground, has made the bottom of her feet so tough that she can run top speed without having to worry about dodging sharp objects on the ground.  Even with how tough her feet have become, she could still feel the burn from the hot muddy ground she was running on.

The sun was burning up in the clear grey sky, drying and heating everything it touched, causing it to be rock hard and painfully hot. Although she was female, she had run enough during her childhood and free time, that she could keep a fast pace without having to slow for quite some distance. The men could have reached her son in half the time it would take her to, but they wouldn’t help her when she begged them. Not her. Not some low caste female, crying that her son wasn’t going to survive his first scavenging. They’d seen it all before. “If he doesn’t survive, then it’s the will of God.” They always say. “Survival of the strongest, this is the way of our people.” But her son wasn’t ready for the type of outing that he happened to be on.

Foraging and finding food was the job of the young boys. They were trained from a very early age to go deep into the broken lands to find any food they could find and any scraps of metal that looked useful. With only one month of defensive combat training, they were just kids with spears sent out into the dangerous world, where all sorts of mysterious dangers were scrounging around in the deepest darkest corners for food. Survival of the strongest. It is the way of all life now, and it was a hard life indeed.

But, T’zara was strong. She was born into a medium caste by parents who barely raised her. They were too busy during the wars and were trying to make something of themselves. They thought nothing could get in their way to rising up into a higher caste, where people would respect them for all the things they’ve accomplished, but then T’zara was born. She was a mistake, and they never let her forget it.

The moment she came out of her mother, her parents hated her. They just looked her over with disgust as they saw her two scrawny arms and legs, perfectly shaped face with two bright blue eyes, and it sickened them. They would have tried to kill her right then and there, but it was already too late. Once the authorities reported the birth to the elders, her parents dreams were crushed, and they were forced into a lower caste life. She probably would have died if it wasn’t for her Uncle L’roco.  

He was treated horribly his whole life by higher caste families and never aspired to rise to their ranks like his brother and T’zara’s father: L’mak. So L’roco kept T’zara alive, but he knew she would have a tough life like he had. He snuck her food when her parents refused to give her any. He gave her medicine when she was sick. He also trained her to survive the best he could. And so she did survive. By the time she was seven, T’zara was doing things that most fifteen year old girls would never dream of. She would go into the broken lands alone, with a spear she made herself, and jump from ruin to ruin until her wiry muscles ached from exhaustion. She did this every day until she was just as fast and strong as the boys her age. But when she turned eight, everything changed. In her society, the women cooked, cleaned and tended to the children, while the men went out to hunt or battle. T’zara had always hoped she could change the rules, and become a hunter or explorer. Nevertheless, she was given the role of a cleaning wench, a typical calling for a low caste female, and she had no choice in the matter. She was forced to clean floors fourteen hours a day, with two hours for food and prayer, and 8 hours for sleep. That would be the schedule for the rest of her life. As long as she worked, she got a small share of the food and supplies the young scavengers would bring back. Six days a week she cleaned, and on the seventh she had extra free time that was supposed to be used for extra prayer. Instead she used it for training her body and her mind, to become something else than a lowly floor scrubber. In her mind she liked to pretend that she was a warrior, and she could quit her menial life and go out into the world like the men.

Most of the women were too scared to leave the underground sprawl their people lived in, but not T’zara. She wanted to go out on her own and escape her dull world, but instead, like most women her age, she ended up pregnant.

Most pregnancies amongst her people weren’t planned. One night ten years ago, as she walked home from daily prayer, some random high caste male forced her into an alleyway and ordered her to bend over. “Stay quiet and pretend to enjoy it. I’ll be quick.” he had told her. Bored high caste men don’t care who it is; the lower caste is there for them to abuse. If they are feeling restless, they’ll do what they want with who they want; man or woman doesn’t make a difference. Those in the lower castes can be severely punished for disobeying their betters, so T’zara just cried silently while he had his way with her. When he was done he didn’t say a single word. He just carried on with his business, and left her there shaking and exposed. That’s the way the low caste population has grown in her culture for generations. It is accepted amongst her people as the natural order of things, so she couldn’t do a thing about it. Six months later she gave birth to her son. Most of the babies born to lower caste women had no fathers, so this was nothing new. She raised him all by herself and loved him with all the heart she had left. He gave her a new purpose in life. She fed him plenty and nursed him when he got sick. She watched him grow older and tried to make his life better than hers could ever be. And so she ran harder.

 It had begun just like any other day, until a scout rode in with a distant threat report. There was a small enemy force headed into roughly the same area of the broken land that her son was going to be scavenging. He ran off this morning with twenty other boys his age, armed with only their makeshift spears. There was no hope that they could handle any enemy soldiers, let alone a whole party of them. Neither could T’zara, but she could attempt to find her son and get him out of the area before they found him and slaughtered him.

Their enemy, which her people call The Unblessed, is a race of murderous monsters and thieves. Wearing metal armor and wielding massive blades, they used to come into the broken lands killing everything in sight, and were a real force to be reckoned with. T’zara had never seen one up close; he only had seen one over a long distance when she was younger, but she heard how the reports and stories described them. Her people had been at war with the Unblessed for half of her life. When T’zara was thirteen, the two factions came to a very shaky and untrustworthy truce. A truce that wasn’t even signed or spoken, yet understood by both sides. It was made after both sides had lost more soldiers and supplies than they could bear. In this day and age, supplies of any kind were treasured. When both sides of the war began running low on food and soldiers, they began risking too much. The two massive forces just stared across a battlefield littered with corpses, waiting for the other side to initiate the next attack, but it never came. Both sides grew tired, hungry and eventually started to retreat back to where they came from. Ever since that day, it is rare to see any Unblessed in the lands of her people. Today was one of those rare days.

T’zara stumbled on a large bit of wood sticking out of the ground, but she quickly regained her footing. She climbed onto a large pillar of rock; leaning slanted against an old ruined structure, and ran all the way up until she reached the top. I need to climb higher. she told herself. If I can figure out where he is, I can find him before they do. She looked around at the ruin she was on and saw some rusted metal bars running up one of the walls and decided to give it a shot. The ruins in the broken lands have been there for hundreds of years. Fading shadows of what they must have been, now they just sit there slowly crumbling away. The broken lands used to be a massive area of giant metal buildings that T’zara’s ancestors used to live in. Stretching on for as far as the eye can see. It was a place millions of people must have lived in. Now her ancestors were all gone and their structures of metal and stone lay broken in a thousand pieces slowly sinking into the earth. Now the whole place looked like a muddy desert wasteland filled with large piles of rubble scattered all over the place. To her people, it was their historical ruins. They would comb over the parts of the buildings they could access for clues to their past, or hints of why their ancestors had abandoned their homeland. Rumors are that the Unblessed drove them out and destroyed everything in sight. For as far back as anyone can remember, her people have always been underground. Little sun, barely any wind, and deep dark crevices, carved naturally into the earth for miles and miles. T’zara always dreamed of running away and finding a ruin that looked sturdy enough to live in. Unlike the one she was now climbing.

She reached the top of the wall and stood on the corner of the building. She was now at least thirty feet up from the ground. From up here she had a good field of view of everything around her. She could see a mountain of rubble to the west. Most of that place had been cleared of salvage long before she was born. Her son wouldn’t be there. So she turned a bit to the east and scanned more hills of metal and rock. She saw a faint movement coming from the top of one of the hills. That looks like someone’s head! she thought. Then she saw a young boy climbing up to the top of the hill from the opposite side of her. The boy stood there for a second, then turned like he was talking with someone down behind him, and ten seconds later he was running back down the hill. They must be in his group. He has to be nearby. She scanned one more time in the area for any sign of more boys, but saw no one. What she did see, was a faint glimmer of light coming far in the distance. Unblessed. she knew. Their metal clothing reflects the sun, and she could have seen them from a mile away. T’zara swooped around and began to climb down the structure, trying to not let the panic of seeing the Unblessed soldiers consume her.

 She reached the ground and began running towards the hill of scrap and stone that she had seen the boy on top of. Her muscles were aching by the time she reached it, but she scaled all the way to the top where the boy had been standing. She kneeled down and looked around for footprints. She found tracks from the boy descending down the other side of the hill and she began to follow them. Slowly running while focusing on the footprints left in the mud by the boy, she wound her way through the ruins and piles of rubble. At first she was following one set of tracks, then they became three, then five, all running the same way. They’re all heading towards the Unblessed, those stupid children! she screamed in her head. One of the boys must have spotted the strange glimmer in the distance and went to tell all of the others. Being naive young boys, they had only been told stories of the Unblessed, and didn’t realize the danger that was heading their way. She began to sprint. I need to turn them around. They have no clue what they’re heading towards. And then she heard it.

A scream came from a short distance straight ahead of her. It sounded like it came from a young boy. She couldn’t tell if it was a scream of pain or a high pitched battle cry, but either way it wasn’t good. T’zara reached a fork in the tracks where the boys had split into two groups. She could have gone left or right, but instead she decided to climb the pile of rocks the boys had apparently ran around. By the time she reached the top, she heard some clanking of metal and a low grumbling noise from down below her. She crouched low and held her breath. There were eight of the Unblessed monsters standing around twelve of the boys with their blades drawn. T’zara panicked when she saw three dead boys near the group lying in pools of dark red blood. Oh God please don’t let one of them be him. T’zara thought as she tried to get a better look at the slain children. They looked familiar to her, but all three were far too large to have been her son. She saw one of the Unblessed turn his head up to scan the surrounding area, so she ducked as he turned towards the hill she was on. She realized she was trembling in fear, and took a deep breath. You are a warrior. She told herself. I need to find a way to draw them away from the boys and run. I’m a lot quicker than they are. So she steadied herself, grabbed a medium sized stone and made a fist around it. She lifted her head up and saw the Unblessed prodding the kids with the points of their blades, moving them towards the direction they rode in on. That’s when she saw him.

Her son and four other boys were on an overhang of ruins above the group of Unblessed. Silently signaling each other and readying their spears like they were going to jump down on them. “No!” T’zara yelled. Suddenly she realized everyone down below was turning to look at her. Her son and his companions stopped what they were planning and crouched down hiding from the alerted soldiers. The Unblessed leader growled something to one of his partners and immediately one of them began towards T’zara. She flung the rock at his head, and took another look at where her son had been. He was gone. She scanned the area quickly and saw no sign of him, then stood up and ran. She ran down the slope the way she came, and begun to panic. I need to make sure he gets away! she screamed at herself. I can’t just leave hoping he is safe. She turned to a path on her right that looked like it headed around the rubble the soldiers were climbing up, so she started down it as fast as she could.

 If I can get to the ruins they were climbing on, maybe I can find him and get him out of there. The second she turned the corner she saw two Unblessed soldiers heading straight for her. She turned a hard left and began to scale a mound of rubble. When she reached the top she heard the sound of an arrow zipping past her head. She screamed out of surprise and turned around to see the soldier who had been sent after her first notching a new arrow onto a bow. The other two soldiers began climbing the hill. In the distance she could see the boys being led away by the remaining soldiers. They were heading north towards where the Unblessed had originally come from. She jumped down the opposite side of the mound that the soldiers were on, and heard another arrow zip overhead. Chase me all you want, it just means my son has more time to get away. She thought as she reached the ground. She began to run once more towards the ruins she’d seen her son on, making a right and running a wide arc around the mound the three soldiers would be on. She ran and jumped over a few larger stones in her path, but when she tried to hop over some wiry metal scrap, her foot got tangled up throwing her hard to the ground. An arrow zipped through the air where she would have been running if she had not fallen and she heard it thump against the nearby ruin. She heard a low grumbling coming from the Unblessed soldiers behind her. She sat up and tried to untangle her foot and began to panic by pulling hard with her leg. The wiry scrap seemed to tighten around her ankle.

 T’zara tried to calm herself and fumbled around with the metal once more. Suddenly she was free, managing to get out of the metal mess right as the Unblessed soldiers closed in on her. Quickly hopping back up to her feet, she began to run. She could see the ruins her son had been on up ahead. Putting all of her will into her legs, she ran towards the ruins.

 If he’s not up there then I’ll know he got away. She thought. She reached the ruins and began to climb the side. She put one hand up and grabbed the ledge, then suddenly lost all feeling in her arm. She lost her grip and fell, hitting the ground hard, and realized an arrow was sticking out of her left shoulder blade. She tried to get back up and a large metal boot kicked her hard in her side, sending a jolt of pain ripping through her body. They knocked her back flat on the ground. Another kick came at her other side and it felt like it would shatter everything inside her. Finally she looked up into the blinding sunlight and saw the dark outline of a figure clad in metal standing over her. He raised his fist up and threw a punch right at her face. Everything went black.

 She would have thought her life was flashing before her eyes, but all that she saw was a vision of her scrubbing a floor covered in blood. She thought she was dead, she had to be. God had forsaken her when she was born without his blessing and now she was in hell. For a brief second she thought she saw a flash of light. Darkness fought back the light and this time she saw a vision of her parents. Growing up, she couldn’t remember them looking directly at her, but now they were staring at her with all the hatred she figured they held for her. Another flash of light came, but this time it grew larger. She then started to see something in the flashes. One flash showed the grey sky and the sun. The next showed her arms and legs being bound by rope. The next showed her being thrown onto the back of a horse. As darkness began to swallow back up the light, one last flash of light showed the ruins her son had been at. He was there on the edge looking towards her, dropping his spear as he fell to his knees. Tears were rolling down his face as the other four kids pulled him once again from her sight. She was moving farther and farther away. No! You’re going the wrong way. She wanted to say. Then everything went black again, and this time there were no flashes of light that came, only darkness.


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Foto Friday 6

Sorry I’ve missed 2 weeks of this. I have been pretty busy in real life, making some big changes, but I’m hoping to start posting more often. I have begun the first few pages of my book, and will post the first chapter when it’s ready.
This photo was taken today over the lake. There was a very thick lock fog obscuring vision. Pretty cool with the sunset.

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Foto Friday 5

Foto Friday 5

I took this photo while out on a walk in the woods near a lake. The sun was just about to set (so about 3pm). This is from a small area called Grönsinka, in Dalarna. Happy New Year!


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Foto Friday 4

Foto Friday 4

My first real Christmas Tree in Sweden. Tok (pronounced Tuke) enjoys laying under it!


The Day After Today

Let me state this first, I’m not a person who believes the Mayans were predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012. I believe their calendar just counts up to a very high number where they thought, “Ya that’s probably good enough. The world may not even last that long.” and stopped their calendar there. Also the calendar is a circle, which could be interpreted to mean it starts over on the 22nd of December.

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We’ve all thought it though, that one small thought in the back of our mind. WHAT IF it really did end? WHAT IF I was wrong? Then we push it aside and realize it’s just a silly thought. Saturday will be just a normal day, and people will realize it was a silly thing to believe the world would end. Some will say, “No, no. The calculations didn’t count for this or that and it was off by a month!” or something like that. Others will finally forget about the impending doom the Mayans had known would come. Some might even commit ritual suicides thinking they’re avoiding the horrible end with a less terrifying end. Sadly, you can’t convince everyone that it’s a farce. As always, people will believe what is easiest to believe. Me? I’ll be on a train Saturday to visit my girlfriends parents for Christmas.

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Just for “fun”, I thought I would blog my own obituary in the event of the world ending. Assuming everyone had died as well, it wouldn’t make sense to have one, but I like to pretend and use my imagination. So here you go. If you are reading this, you have survived.

“Everett, 25, of Stockholm, Sweden, died Friday.

He was born to Bill and Terry, Feb 1, 1987, in Illinois. Against all odds, he graduated high school in 2005. He did a few years in various colleges, before quitting higher education due to not having a direction in life. He always told others that he didn’t know what career he wanted to go into, and wasted a lot of his parents money in the process of looking for it.

Everett worked almost a dozen different dead end jobs, ranging from waiter to bank teller to garden specialist and dabbled in market research. When he passed he was unemployed and looking for work.

Everett grew up Catholic, but lost his faith later in his teenage years after meeting a group of eclectic hippies who taught him to think outside the box. He used to say he liked the idea of a heaven or reincarnation and hoped one of them would be true.

Everett is possibly survived by his pug. He had a girlfriend before his passing that he loved, though she can’t be reached for further information. He always wanted children someday, but worried about the world he’d bring them into.

Anyone who knows Everett, would comment on his sense of humor, love for the Houston Texans (who were heading to win the super bowl in 2013) and many hours spent playing video games online. He also enjoyed reading numerous epic fantasy novels. “I’ve always felt I was born in the wrong era.” Everett’s blog read. “I long for the more straight forward and simple life of the medieval age.”

A viewing will be held over the next few days, until the snow covers the area. Burial will be held over the next few years in Stockholm, Sweden, where the body will return naturally to the planet Everett lived on and loved.”

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Well, there you have it! Sorry if it seemed a little dark, but it’s hard to make an obituary lighter. I had “fun” writing it, but need to work on my satire a bit. I hope my real obituary will be written in the year 2090 by a much better writer.

Have a great NORMAL Friday! I’ll post again after Christmas, hopefully with the beginning of my book chapters. Happy Holidays!


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Foto Friday 2

Foto Friday 2

Proof there is clear sunny daylight in Swedish winters. This is taken from my balconey. Shortly after I took this photo, a huge snow storm moved in and is now blanketing the ground with snow. This is probably the last photo of the lake before it’s completely frozen over until April 2013.