A family, a network of relations.

This weeks thing is a proper retouch and publication of the Family photo series I did in 2004-2005. It was a bunch of portraits of more or less everyone in my extended family (except my maternal grandmother who didn’t want to be remembered so frail) and although I haven’t exhibited them anywhere I’ve had analogue copies made and distributed.

As the project is almost ten years old (which gives me temporal vertigo) I’m considering revisiting it; perhaps it’s time again to pack a camera and shoot the family. Not sure if it would feel as relevant now, but since I’m looking at the project with ten years hindsight and am glad I pursued it, I might appreciate a followup in ten years time as well.

I’m quite certain that I won’t do the project using film though; Patience with the analogue isn’t part of my character, and removing dust from the scanned negatives is a time honoured craft I’d gladly do without. Images are here.

Vacation revisited: Poland

So, just the other day when I and Sara got back from our two week vacation in Poland, I thought I’d put up a short post with a video of the trip. No less than one and a half month later, here it is! We flew to Warsaw, stayed with my dads family there, then off to Kraków, Sanok, Polańczyk and then home by way of Warsaw again.

There are many “firsts” with Sara, and travelling with a girlfriend through my childhood vacation memories was another, very pleasant, one. As a kid I relied on being led, fed and amused by parents and other adults, and now an adult myself (34 being the age at which you’re no longer considered a teenager in Sweden) and sort of responsible for navigating for the two of us, it’s both empowering and odd having to make sense of buss tables and booking hotels. I’m not used to it, is what I mean to say, but it all went well with nary a fuckup.

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Polish food was a hit, and Kraków had some good local cousine in vegan variety as well. As a rule, I am weary of the places which marked themselves as “vegan fusion” as too often you’ll get soulless food modelled on what the chef imagined would look the most holistic with little regard for taste. Culinarily I don’t approve of being lumped together with people who wear their chakra on their sleave, so once we found Café Młynek, with their potato pancakes and breakfast platter, I overate catastrophically once and overspend the other times we ate there.

Even though not vegan, the remaining milk bars in Poland are as campy and wonderful as I remember them, and both pierogi and żurek were things I promised Sara we’d learn how to make once we got home.

A feature which I don’t recall from childhood were all the arachnids; The whole country was covered by spiders, big spiders, and from Warsaw to Polańczyk we kept taking pictures with our fingers perilously close for measurement. Perhaps they were to thank for the utter lack of mosquitos, but if I’d have had a phobia the whole trip would’ve been a nightmare. I don’t kid, there were spiders hiding behind the spiders even.

In Sanok, my city of birth, we stayed with my aunt Barbara. She got one of her friends to guide us by car through the countryside to show some of the more interesting Eastern Orthodox churches left, and the oldest one we saw was also the most spectacular, or at least it’s location; it was a good ten minute climb to get up there, and just imagining how people hundred years ago would have had to make the trek up there in the dark of winter for christmas mass, or on any rainy Sunday, painted a very vivid image.

Beksiński also had the good taste of being born in Sanok, and we visited the new wing of the museum dedicated to the works donated after his murder. For the first time I also spent some time with the orthodox icons and iconostasis at display, learning the difference between Hodigitrian and Eleusan icons of Mary and the child Christ.

Along with the museum, a lot of the infrastructure has been improved in the city. The main square has been dolled up, and each evening we’d see wedding photographers shooting one bridal couple after another by the colourful fountains and lit façades.

We visited Polańczyk for one night and it was far less lively than it used to be. Perhaps it was a question of timing, or perhaps the small village at the foot of the Carpathians has seen a shift towards family vacationing, but bars started closing around eleven. We stayed in one of the multi-storied sanitaria which were the original tourist trade, and what ten years ago was slightly warmed over communist brutalism, now had been restored into something between kitch and living museum. They are sanataria in the classic sense, offering a multitude of treatments, diets, analyses and soothing walks in the forest. One of them even offered cryotherapy chamber therapy, which means you spend a couple of minutes in a room at -150°C. It’s supposed to have rejuvenating qualities, but unfortunately they only do it once a day and we were too late to join the group.

The sanatoria are immensely popular, and while we were trying to get a room walking in off the street, one of the places had no vacancies for the next six months. So I’m proposing to get a bunch of people together next summer, book a two week stint at one of these sanatoria, and freeze our balls off in the beautiful Carpathians.

My first vacation as an adult went swimmingly. Now that I know that I can do it, I want to go again.

Christmas and cohabitation.

The holidays passed with little fanfare, I spent them in Stockholm with the closest family at hand and the rest at Skype distance. Mom isn’t her full self at the moment, and the dinners were slightly less elaborate than the five course meals we usually make. I rediscovered how much work goes into making the potatoe-dumplings, which I wolf down by the dozens. Christmas Day I and Tomasz joined in the public celebration of the birth of beer, and sat with Admas in a bar and discussed ambitions, and fashion, and then I think I had Calvados?

On a recommendation from Miss Walker I visited Tevere, a bakery which also carries vegan pizza. Rather on the expensive side, but the pizzas were awesome both times I ate there.

New Years day was spent at the gym with Sara, where I nearly passed out. I can only assume that my body shut down out of fear that I would become too fit and muscular. In the evening a bunch of us gathered at Petters new place. We saw the fireworks over Hissingen skyline, although I saw most of it through the viewfinder, being concerned with capturing it. Next year I’d like to be somewhere where the explosions can actually be felt. It’s well know that arrhythmia heightens ones appreciation of sparkling things.

Andreas visited for a short while, and then he left for New York — or as it’s henceforth known: Nävvan. I’m still working on the mixtape he’s getting for birthday. I’ll have to make up for it by making it really good, and perhaps actually sending him a magnetic tape. I have half a sack of those just waiting for coming to use…

And speaking of having a bunch of old stuff laying around, I’m trying to getting rid of as much of it as possible, as we’re moving in together. This is momentous and exciting, and a first for me. We’re already discussing wall colours and such, and my suggestions of stripes the colours of a 1920 ice-cream stand have met with tacit approval. Perhaps it’s not so much approval as acceptance and stoic suffering; “Enduring love” as it were. Or perhaps it’s just an understanding that I talk a lot and will likely have changed my mind before we move in.

I’m moving out of my place as soon as possible and have hopefully already found a taker, and we’re moving into our new place beginning of March. This is going to be an exciting spring! I’m gonna Sawyer y’all into plastering and painting walls, so you might as well start digging out your coveralls. I’ll consider offering light snacks and coffee to sweeten the deal even further. But before we get to that, there’s the whole “moving” thing. You’ll be happy to know that you’re welcome for that as well, as there’s no end of the enjoyment my friendship offers.

PM: 2009 resolution candidates.

I came back to Gothenburg in time to welcome the new year with a couple of friends. After dinner we headed to Heaven 23 (on the 23rd floor of a hotel) for drinks and fireworks. We’d been told that a strict dress code would be enforced, and as a result we all looked bloody fabulous in jackets and such. Anna and Hanna had given me a scarf with flower prints on which allowed me to play the part of a toyboy and/or gay chihuahua.

We pretty soon realise that the whole dress code thing doesn’t apply to the scores of hotel guests that have found their way to the top floor with their kids in search for lebensraum and alcohol. The enterprise we had set out on is now transforming in front of our eyes into an after ski, but with more expensive alcohol and family friendly music volume. Once the fireworks start the kids are swarming, longingly staring out over the city but probably missing their Playstation consoles.

We’ve been buying drinks for two hours or so and slowly realise that we’re not getting value for money. We wrap shit up and leave in search for other venues that might enjoy our custom, and where we might actually enjoy being customers. I’m still sick and communicate mostly through coughs and spit – I’m a whiny bastard when I’m sick – so it’s actually a relief when we give up on finding anything interesting at half two and take the tram home.

Mum just got back from Hawaii, where she and her boyfriend were seeing new places and having a grand time. Sounds like fun, that. My Christmas has been spent under the banner of plague and lethargy, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work at Chalmers and planning stupendous projects. Also, I need to make more money so that I can buy people all those Christmas presents I’ve been putting off for three weeks. I mean, my brother got two pairs of socks from me, which although they were designer socks, still are socks.

Contrary to the title, I don’t have a new years resolution yet. I’m working on it and it’ll be a good one. Promise.