Friday, January 05, 2018

Hello World 2018

It's been a while. I know I was going to blog more in 2017, but somewhere in Bangkok that disappeared from my agenda, and I started being very, very present in the here and now. That is good, you know, all that mindfulness and paying attention kind of thing, but also bad, because my here and now is rarely as interesting as my over there and then.

Case in point. My current here and now finds me fighting dust. I am having the kitchen and hallway redone, and it's going to be fabulous. But right now it means I am walking on temporary boards, through clouds of dust, to get to the bathroom. I have no kitchen - it is a dark hole from a post-apocalyptic fantasy. It doesn't help that I am currently reading the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant. I am expecting the zombies of the world to lurk under the lacking floor boards, and there I am with nothing but a plastic dust-door between me and a new life as carnivore.

But it is Mira Grant who inspired me to write my blog again. Her zombie apocalypse comes with government conspiracies, transgender make-up artists, and, above all else, bloggers. The way she thinks about blogging is how I thought about it ten years ago: with an upbeat optimism, some naiveté and a deep love of a functioning, quick and open internet. This is a world where the government may be experimenting with viruses that leaves your undead even more dead than expected, but it is also a world where Net Neutrality is going strong, and the hackers are our heros. They do get bitten first though, once they leave their safe space in front of the monitor, so they aren't the main heroes.

Anyway.

2017 was a year of movement and change. I visited four countries besides Norway and Denmark, which isn't all that much for me, but I spent half a year abroad, in different locations. This brought with it new routines, new experiences, new fun and new frustrations.

 I learned to love Bologna more than ever. Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world, and after three months of winter/spring in Bologna, I am now homesick for it. I want to walk its street, eat the food, listen to the voices, read in the libraries and people-watch for ever.

The next shock to my system was Bangkok. I did not stay for long enough for Thailand to become familiar, as this was just a quick visit, but it left a deep impression. This was such a different way to live, and still so wonderfully vibrant and interesting, that it will always be there as a temptation to explore with (a lot) more time and preferably somewhat lower temperatures.

Melbourne however was perhaps the most difficult experience. I thought I was familiar with Australia, but I have just touched lightly on the surfaces and not been experiencing it. And this version of Australia was winter, cold, influenza and a grey, windy city. So, kind of like Copenhagen, but without the bikes. I left just as it was about to enter into spring, and I have to admit, at this point the only aspects that I miss from Melbourne are the people. My wonderful RMIT host Emma Witkowski is a colleague I love to work with, hang out with and spar with, and I miss her. My hosts and the designers of the game that was the subject of my doctorate thesis, Dragon Realms, and their children, are friends I miss on a regular basis. And I made new friends there, wonderful and warm friendships with people I would love to have in my life every day. They made it worth while to deal with being cold all the time, every day. I don't even dress that warmly now, in January in Denmark, as I did to keep warm there. Australia does have more than Melbourne going for it though. I just went north to the sun and the beaches, and suddenly I remembered why I love the continent in the first place. Editing at the side of a pool, with occasional breaks to swim, is not the worst thing. I could do without the giant cockroaches though.

All of this has lead to two articles and a book. The articles are one done, one in review (and in need of being expanded). The book is 2/3rds ready and will be done before spring. (I hope.) It has also lead to new and renewed contacts, to new ideas and new ambitions, and a rethinking and affirmation of my scholarship. But most of all: I am no longer a zombie.

In 2016 I had a very small piece of surgery with huge consequences. If you are curious, google hyperparathyroidism, and read about the symptoms. I was a living walking braindead, with enough awareness to be terrified of what was happening to me. Now I am awake, alert, alive, and looking forwards to more exploration and new adventures! As long as the zombies don't rise from my ripped-open kitchen floor.