I’m writing this from a comfortable yellow couch in a rather large and loud breakfast hall at a (self-proclaimed) four-star hotel in central Bangkok. Both Airpods have noise-cancelling switched on, and my go-to channel, Groove Salad, is effectively drowning out most of the chatter around me.
Through the nearest window, I can see how a small palm tree is bending to the will of gusty winds currently blowing through this part of the capital. The wind gives the illusion that it’s not nearly as steaming hot as it actually is. There’s a forecast of heavy rain for most of the day, but so far, nothing.
I’ve come to like the heat much more than when I was younger. It’s still sweaty, but, today, the insane heat here helps my limbs and joints ache a lot less. As I type this post, my cranky, creaky fingers, in particular, are thankful for me having transplanted them to this wonderfully warmer climate. Not to mention how grateful my soul is…
While I can certainly appreciate the comfort and predictability of everyday life, at least during Sweden’s precious few summer months, at 60, I know for sure now that if I allow it to enwreathe me for too long after the Scandinavian sun has gone into hibernation, I will descend physically and mentally into some pretty deep depths of dreariness.
Yes, I am, of course, thankful for being able to escape the forthcoming half-year of insipid sunlessness so symptomatic of southern Sweden. Not to mention the painfully elongated winter season’s notorious societal frigidity. And I honestly don’t think I could have managed to stay on the wagon for very long if I was once again shackled to such a gray, cold, and formulaically lackluster existence. No big mystery why alcohol and drug abuse are so prevalent along the notorious ‘vodka belt.’
We’ll be in Bangkok for less than a week this time, just enough to absorb many friendly smiles, enjoy plenty of delicious meals, and appreciate the exquisite privilege of once again being digital nomads, something we started doing regularly way back in 2002, long before remote working was even a thing.
As I continue to remind myself, we’ve once again essentially replaced our life in Malmö for a more pleasurable existence in Southeast Asia. Effectively extending the summer for a few months and ultimately leaving behind the drudgery that we both find harder to cope with as we get older when yet another dark, cold, and windy winter arrives. Alas, we’ve become snowbirds!
Our hotel’s coffee machine has about a dozen options, but only one that provides a decent cup of java, the irreplaceable Americano. This is my 22 hotel for the year and so far, the coffee machine that made offered the best brew was the one at Hermitage Resort on the beautiful Italian island of Iscia. While the machine performed sluggishly, it did churn out an amazing cup of coffee!
Just read that the Americano is believed to have originated in Italy during World War II when American soldiers found espresso too strong and added hot water to create a milder, more familiar coffee.
I’m impressed by the increasing abundance of artisan coffee places in Bangkok. These often tiny shops seem only outnumbered by those selling variants of hemp. Two plants that when consumed, largely offer contradictory results but yet are not entirely incompatible.
As beautifully written as often is the case and with the best possible heartfelt intentions in mind, I can still not embrace scripture and live my life as dogmatically as most holy texts demand and dictate.
I do believe that the sum of all temptations can be (if not controlled) remarkably constant.
I’m now on day 40 of my sobriety path and I feel a level of clarity that I can’t recall ever experiencing. At some point in my life, I’m sure I have felt this way, but it must have been such a long time ago that those memories have faded away.
However, where alcohol once prominently resided in my life, there is now a rather noticeable void.
Malmö. Sunday. Evening.
When ChatGPT was publicly released last autumn, and the debate about AI gained momentum, I found it much more exciting than frightening but it did take some time for me to figure out how I could use artificial intelligence interestingly and creatively.
I hoped to integrate some of these new tools into my workflow, just as I had done with other programs that have been using AI for a few years (like Adobe Photoshop). Did I need to learn more about the field, or did the technology need to develop further for a layperson like me to benefit from it?
But despite AI tools still being a bit blunt, I felt both urgency and agency to at least try a few things… with surprisingly good results.
In the autumn of 1986, my 65-year-old father, Ernest, passed away from emphysema, a lung disease. Calling him a heavy smoker would be a gross understatement, as he consumed 50-60 cigarettes daily. In the top drawer next to the bed where he died in Los Angeles, there were a few items in roughly the same quantity: 3-4 unopened Ventolin inhalers (for asthma) and 3-4 soft pack Pall Mall Red cigarettes.
A few years ago, one of my four siblings in the USA discovered a very old interview with our father that a journalist had recorded and archived. The interview was about the emerging art scene in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and even though the audio quality was poor, I was still shaken by hearing my father’s voice after such a long time. The last time I’d it was in early summer 1978, just a few weeks after my mother passed away and a month before I moved to Sweden.
My father was married five times, and he divorced my mother when I was 6 years old. But despite the years that passed between our contacts, I immediately recognized his voice from the interview. It was as if he had spoken to me just a few days earlier.
It’s eerie how a voice you haven’t heard in so long is still stored somewhere in the deepest recesses of the brain.
A couple of weeks ago, I hired a guy who works in AI and asked him to use the old interview as a basis to clone my father’s voice and then have it read a short text that I had written.
This is the result of that experiment.
After completing an intense drone gig for Skanska in two different locations, I spent the better part of this afternoon hanging my new paintings together with a dozen other artists in the town hall’s spacious exhibition venue. Tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 pm is when Malmö’s annual Gallery Weekend begins.
Hope to see you there!
Friday: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
For as long as I can remember, the concept of hypersleep has intrigued me. On the one hand, it’s a popular term that has been used generously in science fiction literature and film to explain how humans manage multi-year, interplanetary space travel without literally aging out of existence. By halting the body’s functions entirely, storytellers can conveniently allow both protagonists and antagonists to sleep for months, years, and even decennium and then be reanimated – perhaps looking a little queasy but mostly unblemished and remarkably ready for action.
On the other hand, when I think about it, hypersleep is also kind of like what religious folks must believe will happen to us once we expire. I mean, if heaven is in the heavens, which the name certainly implies, there’s got to be some form of logistics involved in getting there: hypersleep!
I had a really weird dream last night. I was sitting on an old Boeing 747 with barely anyone else in it. Interestingly, in this unusually vivid dream, I did notice an old friend (whom I hadn’t seen in about 5 years) among the passengers. He was disturbed when I didn’t sit next to him, but since the cabin was so empty, I figured I’d take advantage of this and spread myself across four free seats a few rows behind him.
As the giant plane took off, it seemed to fly close to some tall trees that lined the right side of the runway. I’m not sure if the tip of the plane’s right wing touched any of the trees, but it was a close call. The last visual I have from this somewhat freakish dream was that the 747 was slowly ascending toward cruising altitude unscathed. That’s when I briskly woke up.
I took the photograph above near runway 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
I wonder how that baby and its mother are doing today.
Here’s an episode from my favorite news source, The Daily which highlights some very interesting cultural implications. The topic is how the new diabetic drugs are used for weight loss and how this is countering the ideas of body positivity, fat shaming, and acceptance of other physical ideals than what the fashion industry is channeling. As these drugs slow down the digestive system as well as dampen hunger – and with 40% of Americans being obese – including tens of millions of kids that are severely overweight, this new “era” could potentially also have a huge impact on the (fast) food industry. In this episode, the stories of two people who took the medication and had two very different experiences.
With Charlotte in Göteborg and me on the wagon, after watching a few episodes of the quirky series Poker Face, I went to sleep unusually early last night. I woke up this morning, went for a jog, and then enjoyed a swim in a surprisingly warm Öresund.
After breakfast, I headed out to a meeting for next week’s Gallerihelg (Gallery Weekend) where I’m both exhibiting my artwork and documenting other participants and the event itself.
Once my meeting was over, I took the train across the bridge to a sun-drenched Copenhagen where I briskly walked from the main train station to the grungy area affectionately known as Reffen. The main attraction there, for me anyway, is Copenhagen Contemporary, the Danish capital’s ginormous international art center.
Some 25k of walking later and back home, I made dinner for Charlotte and myself and sat out front of our condo awaiting her much-delayed arrival. The above view is what I had in front of me.
Exactly 30 days ago, Charlotte and I sat down to savor a delightful dinner at Hotell Kullaberg in the village of Mölle-by-the-Sea. It was no ordinary Saturday evening; we were celebrating our silver wedding anniversary. Our conversation was adorned with joyful reminiscences of that enchanting day and night, a series of magical memories from two and a half decades ago.
As the coffee arrived, I, in my habitual manner, ordered a Sambuca, the Italian avec adorned with three coffee beans. After our meal, we strolled leisurely along the harbor to the spacious annex that the hotel had reserved for us for the night. Before Charlotte and I went indoors, we sat outside for a while beneath the stars, appreciating the tranquil August evening. We finished the remnants of the bottle we had opened before dinner, just enough for about a glass each.
Since I swallowed those very last, somewhat lackluster drops of Champagne, I’ve abstained entirely from alcohol.
With the exception of 1996, prior to a solo exhibition at Gallery Viking in Gothenburg (Chalmersgatan), when I decided, at the beginning of the year, to remain sober until after my vernissage in November, I haven’t had a dry month since I was 15.
Hm. When I read that last line, it sounds rather dreadful. As if I hadn’t done much else but indulge…
After another summer where alcohol played a somewhat excessive role, it feels healthy to be on the wagon right now. I had no preconceived notions about how this hiatus would unfold; I decided from the outset to take it one day at a time and not project too many scenarios where my occasionally feeble character succumbed to irresistible temptations.
I must admit, however, that the initial weeks were unsteady and sweaty. It wasn’t so much that I missed the taste of beer, wine, or whiskey; I surprisingly managed without any phantom pains in that regard. It was more the vacuum left behind by that seductive euphoria (the release) that alcohol had always so generously offered me, requiring some form of mental withdrawal strategy.
I also felt a bit anxious about how I would navigate our social life without it becoming awkward, forced, or complicated. Dinners and situations where I knew in advance that alcohol would be present or even the focal point. How could I handle such occasions without disappointing anyone, most of all myself?
But it turns out I had underestimated my latent resilience and managed several dinners and gatherings without falling off the wagon or feeling like a bigger oddball than usual.
Temptations crop up everywhere: when I pass a bar in town, people drinking in movies, and particularly when images and clips flash by in my social streams, especially during weekends. The scenes I see all look so enjoyable, and the weakest, seediest version of me immediately wants to end my dry month, throw back a shot of cheap bourbon, and quickly wash it down with a large, ice-cold, and nameless draft beer.
If I have a long-term goal with this ongoing period of sobriety, it’s to eliminate my spontaneous and routine habit of drinking just to reward or indulge myself. I jokingly tell Charlotte that we’ve had a bit too much child-free time since Elle flew the nest.
Physically, I don’t feel a significant difference, but it may arrive. I exercise about the same and feel similarly well in my body. However, I do believe I sleep better, and my mood seems more even. I also experience a different kind of emotional stability, as if I’m steadier in the cockpit and have better visibility. Especially when I am working creatively.
I know that consuming alcohol nearly every day puts extra strain on the body. And now, having recently turned 60, I want to at least try to help (not hinder) this old, slightly worn-out body by reducing the stresses as much as possible.
I really don’t want to pass judgment, advocate, or lecture. The most important thing is that Joakim/Kim benefits from this hiatus and that I’ve come to realize that yes, I have indeed been drinking too often and too casually. The question now is whether I can ever change my rather nonchalant relationship with alcohol and enjoy it in a healthier way. Right now, when I don’t miss it in my life, I’m somewhat doubtful. But… one day at a time, right?
Bright and early this morning, the 2023 annual Malmö Gallery Weekend poster arrived in my mailbox. Turns out that this will be the third time that I’ve been invited to exhibit my work at the city’s eclectic, cultural event. This year, I’m going to show three large acrylic paintings, two themed around a specific word that I find inspiring and/or intriguing, and one painted while I was listening to the soundtrack of Ridley Scott’s brilliant, neo-noir detective film Black Rain by composer Hans Zimmer.
Hope to see some of you there!
#gallerihelgen2023 #konstimalmö #arthappening #artevent #americaninmalmö #malmöartist #artinmalmo #rådhusetmalmö #acrylicpainting #swedishartist #svenskakonstnärsförbundet #konstnärsförbundet #malmökonsthall #malmö #konstfrämjandet #konstiskåne
I miss this view. It’s the walkway across Pacific Coast Highway that I would take with my surfboard under my arm to or from surfing in the mornings or evenings when we lived on Idaho Avenue and 2nd Street in Santa Monica back in 2014. I vividly remember how heading back to the apartment after a couple of hours in the waves, carrying a tall longboard and the weight of my thick, soaking wetsuit was exhausting. But I don’t think I ever walked home without glowing of happiness.
In September 2019, about six months before the pandemic began, I was invited by our municipality to exhibit a series of photographs featuring several of Malmö’s most iconic places as seen from above. From a visitor perspective, the show, which took place outdoors in Slottsträdgården (Castle Garden), was a huge success. I’ve now finally gotten around to compiling the images and a short film from “Malmö Upside Down”. Check it out here:
Brought my 2019 Macbook Pro to our local Apple store today to see if I could trade it in and buy a new shiny laptop. They offered me about 15% of what I’d paid, but couldn’t or wouldn’t allow me to keep it until my new computer arrived. Why? Policy.
If I kept my old computer in the meantime, Apple wouldn’t or couldn’t guarantee that I would receive the amount I was quoted today. Worse yet, they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide me with a reasonable delivery date, which meant I could be without a laptop for several weeks.
I’ve been a customer of Apple for a quarter century. At times our relationship has been contentious and as I grow older, I see beyond the smoke and mirrors and the company’s legendary distortion field. Nowadays, I even hesitate to visit an Apple Store. The experience is just too superficial and though beautifully camouflaged, it’s all about sales, sales, and more sales. None of the sales folks I’ve spoken to in recent years know much about real-world creativity and can’t provide anything but well-rehearsed clichés from the company’s sales manual.
Back in the day, when Apple computers were more or less reserved for creative types, there was an unspoken alliance, and most of us who used their machines followed the company’s progress carefully and prayed that Apple would survive. If for no other reason, than so that we wouldn’t be forced to use an erratically behaving mouse connected to a dreadfully dreary PC running the clunky Windows operating system. If I had to take a guess, I’d say our company has spent at least SEK600-700k on Apple stuff over the years.
Yeah, I’m clearly still pissed off about my effing option key conundrum. I even told today’s rep about how Apple wants to charge me SEK9000 to repair said key (one of the keyboard’s 78 keys!). He just smiled without openly admitting the absurdity of such a ridiculous fee. The environmental implications of having to replace the entire keyboard, the aluminum keyboard plate, and the battery because of a single, plastic key is certainly solid evidence that Apple is just as cynical about the environment as every other corporation. The company’s PR is just much better at being ostentatiously disingenuous.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the option key isn’t made out of simple plastic after all. Perhaps it’s actually made from an amalgamation of unicorn tears and gold. That might explain things…
Twenty-five days of sobriety. Perhaps not a significant enough milestone to make it worth mentioning here. I think so. Even if I’ve never thought of myself as someone with a dependency on booze, most people I know don’t, I do see each new day where alcohol is not part of a routine dose of escapism, as a small, yet appreciatable milestone.
Most of my friends have yet to comment on this ongoing sobriety challenge of mine. Some have questioned it in passing with a causal “but why?”. I think I’m still in a slightly defensive stage where whatever I reply probably sounds preachy. So be it. Like most topics that can be construed as not somehow reinforcing the image of the always resilient tough guy, any mention of even potentially misusing alcohol is still considered taboo. Especially here in the land of Vikings.
Last night while lounging on our front patio watching the sunset and hundreds of people pass by on foot, bicycle, and scooter, I tried to envision what it would be like with a glass of chilled bourbon in my hand. I tried to remember how the euphoria (or, in everyday parlance, the release) felt when it set in and how my body and mind would have sunken into a pleasantly semi-catatonic state.
I keep telling myself that I haven’t stopped drinking just to see how long I can remain sober. I certainly want to beat my old buddy Lars’s sobriety record of 44 days. But this challenge is about something more significant that I have yet to figure out how to express in words. For now, I’m enjoying the challenge of being in charge and not a hostage with Stockholm syndrome.
I’m honored to have once again been invited to exhibit my art during Malmö’s annual Gallery Weekend September 22-24 at what is arguably the event’s most beautiful venue, the grand exhibit hall at the former City Hall (Rådhuset).
This year, I’ll be showing three rather large acrylic paintings on canvas. I hope to see you there!
#gallerihelg #artforlife #paintings #malmöartscene #art #artist #acrylicpainting #creativityeveryday
We’re rounding off a truly sublime week in Greece. A week packed with exercise, delicious Mediterranean food, and plenty of sunshine. We’ve also got a lot of work done while on Rhodes. Charlotte has added a plethora of inspiring content to her popular websites and I’ve miraculously finished writing the bulk of a chapter in a new book –a memoir of sorts.
It’s also been a week with time allocated for contemplation, well-needed soul-searching, and interesting chats – primarily with Charlotte, but also with a new, intriguing acquaintance from the UK.
It’s day 20 of sobriety and I am continuing to allow myself plenty of time for introspection and self-interrogation:
• How I should navigate forward? • Do I have the energy and willpower to redefine and reinvent myself again?
• What should I prioritize?
• How do I enjoy life in a more health-promoting way without feeling bored and/or missing the “release” I get from alcohol?
• Do I need to reevaluate relationships that have primarily been based around my willingness to enthusiastically participate in hangover-inducing bouts of boozing?
• Is total abstinence really required here or, am I instead actually capable of having a healthier, more measured relationship with alcohol? Or, is that just devil-speak? Sounds like it.
I seem to be stuck again in the midst of yet another seemingly bottomless quagmire…
But wait! What is that I feel beneath my feet? A boulder? Is it stable enough to stand on for a while, at least until I get my bearings and figure out how to exit this murky swamp?
Yes, I believe it is!
I’ve been swimming a lot while here in Greece. Not so much in the ocean, though I’ve done that too. I’ve been swimming laps in the above 25m pool which is nearest our room and dedicated to exercise and not for playing in. I breastswim in one direction and crawl on the return.
In 2019, I spent a couple of months lap swimming in the early mornings at a nice sports club in Da Nang, Vietnam. Like back then, during this morning’s 1000m swim, I sometimes lost track of my laps and probably added at least an additional 100m to my original goal. Which is perfectly fine. But I think I need to invest in a lap counting watch of some kind.
Here’s a post you’ll either be inspired by or decidedly feel uncomfortable with. Or, both. In any case, it’s brutally honest, so buckle up.
Even if I’ve never been fanatical, there has always been some kind of regular sport activity in my life. When I was young, I swam competitively, and later in life, I played squash, jogged, and boxed. Nowadays, I mostly work out at the gym and when my body permits, I’ll go for a long run.
As an oxymoronic contrast to the above, I’ve also never, ever shied away from partaking in oftentimes excessive indulgence.
These days, as I get older, taking better care of myself by living healthier is clearly gaining traction. And now, after 18 days of 100% sobriety, I can feel tangible evidence of mental and physical benefits.
I’m not talking about visible proof, mind you. It’s more related to sailing through life on a more even keel and being better at discerning and circumnavigating headwinds and identifying storms.
Living in Sweden for the better part of my life has undoubtedly been fantastic in many, many ways. The role alcohol plays in Swedish society is not one of them. And at 60, I’m finally realizing how much better I am without having booze as a crutch or a cushion.
Yes, it’s most certainly boring to not sip on a glass of chilled white wine or drink a cold beer during dinner. And do I miss my daily pour of cheap bourbon while preparing meals in our kitchen.
Thankfully, just like the ridiculous glorification of this ritualistic, masochistic behavior, the buzz I had become so pathetically addicted to is both paling and slowly sliding into my increasingly dusty archives of faded memories.
I moved to Sweden when I was 15 and, as one does, started drinking more or less regularly on weekends when I was about 16. So, that’s what, 45 years, give or take?
I don’t know for how long I’ll be on the wagon this time around. As they say, one day at a time. But so far, so good.
The old wagon is from a visit to Bodie, the famous ghost town in central California. I don’t think there could be a more fitting illustration for this post.