Friends

 

One of the reasons for this trip, was the fact that I started to plan for all the people I wanted to see and spend time with this year and soon realized that six weeks of vacation is a lot, but far from enough for all the people I wanted to meet and all the things I wanted to do.

Since a lot of my closer friends live in different parts of the world to where there are no real reason to go for just a few days, those days of vacation disappear pretty soon. Luckily I usually meet these friends at least once a year somewhere in the world. A group of people, in different ages, on the surface having very little in common, meeting for at least one week, enjoying eachothers company, doing what we do best, thinking and talking too much. The last four years we have met here in Northern California, the same place as this year. Below are some of the pictures from the time we had together before everyone went pack to their part of the world.

 

Dore Alley Festival

 

San Francisco is famous for being one of the worlds most liberal cities and also the gay capital, despite the fact that I met a guy that had no idea of this. I told him he should do a bit of background check before going on vacation next time.
It is the only city that I know of that twice a year arranges a leather and fetisch festival on the streets. Sure, in a sealed off area of course, but still.
Me, Peter and Sabrina went there together with the entire gay and fetisch community that seem to think that the usual Pride-parade is too boring.

 

 

 

Photo: Sabrina Orth

 

Mission District, San Francisco


I’m listening to Bon Iver, trying to finish off the part of the trip that took place in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. I should be sleeping, but there are many things you should do in life. At least that is what we keep telling ourselves.

I was pretty late sending out requests for a couch to sleep on in San Francisco, so most people already hade people staying with them, or were busy. One girl told me she got about five requests every day. So, I had to stay at a hostel.
On wednesday evening I went for the official weekly couchsurfing meeting in town.
Around closing time, I started talking to some people outside the place, and three minutes later I had somewhere to stay for the last four days in the city before heading north.
I ended up with Erik, who lives in the Mission, the neighbourhood that more and more is home to hipsters and well-paid young professionals, a place with lots of restaurants and bars and close to Dolores Park where everyone goes to hang out on a sunny day.
Erik’s roommate had recently moved out, so he had plenty of space for people to stay there. Except for me, Sabrina from Cologne in Germany were also staying there for almost a month. Together with them I got to see more of the local life in the city.

 

I write because…


I write because the world I live in is crazy. I write because every single one in this world is just as stuck in it like I am. We are all a product of our environment, our history, and we want to stay there, no one wants to change, no one wants to go with the flow, we all want to stay where we are, not having to take responsibility for our actions, not having to make tough decisions. We all want to sit in our couch, eat chocolate and hope that our problems will go away by themselves. We sacrifice our individuality, turn our responsibility over to our managers, parents, partners and politicians, give us bread and entertainment and we will never raise our voices again.

We sacrifice everything that we are and go out buying the same clothes, listen to the same music, get the same type of tattoos like everyone else. We have the same opinions and thoughts, strive for the same jobs, identical lives and drive the same type of car like everyone else. We do it to express our uniqueness, to show off our personality, despite the fact that we are so afraid that we just gave up that individuality.

Not that my writing make much of a difference, but if I gave up writing, I could no longer handle this world at all. I must allow myself to complain, to point out the absurdities of the lives we live, the way we see ourselves and treat our friends.

I must be allowed to try to understand a world that can not be understood.

What else should I do with my time?

 

11 days in San Francisco


I don’t really know what to say about San Francisco, except that I had a great, yet intense time. Many times when thinking about what to say I realize I can’t.
It is a city of contrast, where every kind of entertainment exists and at the same time so much hard to grasp. You can keep on going here forever. Just like in Stockholm there is an atmosphere of doing, an expectation in the air, a strive never to be bored, to run away from the everyday life.
It is a city of both order and chaos, a city that doesn’t look like anything I thought a modern big city could look like.

I feel instantly at home, partly because of the ease of getting around in the grid like streets, but also because you can find anything here. Whatever you like, wether it be ecclectic music, art, movies, cafés or bars. A sense of variation you seldom see in the big cities in Asia where everything is either traditional or modern, never in between. Here, every step still exist, like wandering through different points in history when you enter a new street, come to a new neighbourhood.

 

Seoul day 2

 

As you might notice, I’m a bit behind putting up all these pictures.

The second day of my Seoul visit I met up with fellow couchsurfers Kate, Jonna and Ben (+ a few others), all living in Seoul teaching English. Kate had made plans to see a show by different martial arts groups and a dance/drummer group from the Ivory Coast. I tagged along and got a few pictures.

I know I wrote the other day that the distinction between good/bad is rather meaningless, but I will make an exception for these pictures, putting them in the category of bad since I was too lazy to stand up. Because of that you can see some dark heads from the audience in most of the pictures :).
Later in the evening it was too dark to shoot any pictures without flash, so I don’t have any pictures from the later performances…

 

 

Seoul

 

On my way from Kuala Lumpur to San Francisco I made a stop in Seoul, the South Korean captial.

Except for the old Royal Palace, which was pretty nice, Seoul is probably one of the ugliest cities I have seen. Sure, I didn’t really have the time to see that much during my 48 hours before flying out to San Francaisco, but what I did see didn’t impress.
The only explanation I got for how the city looked like was that they were in too much of a hurry, when the economy exploaded and everyone wanted to move in to the city, to actually think about how things looked. Kind of like Sweden in the 60′s, although in Sweden there was also this fanatical functionalist thought behind everything being built. The general thought seemed to be that beautiful and functional don’t go well together. Kind of like Wall Street.

 

Good or bad?

 

I have thought a great deal about the concept of “good”. Good or bad.

What is good, really? At least I use to ask myself that when I do things. Is this good? Or is it bad? I value things from a point of reference and go from there.
The problem though, is that usually we have inherited that good and bad from people around us, from authority figures. We compare everything we do with someone or something else. Most often what others do is good and what we do is bad.

In those times, it is best not to do anything at all.

If we value something as good, then we automatically get what is bad, and if we value something as bad, we automatically get what is good. We let the jury in Idol decide what a good performance is, critiques to judge what good music or filmmaking is, experts get to decide what good art or photography is. Our managers judge our working abilitites, our friends judge if we are good or bad, and if the clothes we buy suit us or not.

We always rely on someone elses opinions and judgements when we decide. We more than happily help others make their judgements. After all, it would be a total catastrophe if the shoes we were wearing was a size too big, or if we had a shirt with stripes in the wrong direction…

If we stop valuing things as good or bad, we start to tread unknown territory. That can be akward. It is a very deep conditioning, learnt from early childhood, to always compare and value things.

But most values are relative, they differ depending on who you ask. And if they are constantly changing, do we really have to value things at all? Maybe we could instead just do what we do and be ok with that?
What if I could photograph what I want to, and instead of wondering if it is good or bad, I can just say, this is good for me.

It will most likely mean that some people will regard it as good, and some will regard it as bad, and some will be indifferent to it. But that is exactly as it was before too, so it doesn’t really matter. As long as we like what we are doing.

I no longer know if what I write or photograph is good or bad. Most likely it is both and none of it at the same time. It doesn’t matter.

Let’s just do it anyway…

Stars

 

Tonight I sleep with million of stars.
Vi share the same bed, bouncing up and down together on top of the waves of Lake Shasta. The entire Milky Way is with me this summer night.

Suffering is to will something that is not there. Happiness is to will that which happen. Every time.

So simple, really, yet we constantly live in this mental state where we resist everything that happens, refusing to be what we truly are. We try to be someone else, reaching for the goals we think we set up, but have inherited or copied from others. Refusing to accept people for what they are, always trying to change them into what we want them to be.
If we could just see, beyound hesitation, that it actually takes more energy to try to bend the world to our liking, instead of just relaxing and going with the flow.

Then, we could sleep every night with millions of stars. And when we see a shooting star, we smile. For we do not need to make a wish anymore.