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Journal

Good enough = almost bad

At work I sometime get hints about doing things too good. I put a professional touch to what I do and colleagues allude to that being the reason I struggle with fatigue. That’s not the case, there are other reasons. But if anything it’s when I have to do a mediocre or hurried job I get stressed and drained of energy.

Of course I don’t spend too much time on one thing either. I know when enough is enough. But I got a professional pride and do the job I’m hired to do at a certain level. To release something that looks like it’s made by someone with less skill feels very disheartening and I lose all interest and motivation.

We live in a society that generally discourages people from doing their best. Anything above sufficient is systematically punished. High quality is apparently worthless. There’s no profit in anything beyond good enough. The problem is that good enough is the same as almost bad.

I know this is how profit is made. But I can’t stand it. Do not accept crappy things! Demand better things!

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Journal

It’s hours to take

I put my book away, turned off the light and tried to sleep. Now, in the darkness, I’m instead getting more awake. I notice that the pillow is bumpy in the wrong way. I think that the subscription for the skills I need at work must have expired. I remember my ex being worried that I had no plan even for my nearest future. My legs are dry and itching and I should put some lotion on them. But if I do I can’t hold my book without messing up the cover. And if I can’t fall asleep soon I have to turn on the lights and read again.

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Journal

Hope, help, endure

Not only do I have mood swings, I also have ability swings. And by that I mean my ability to do things fluctuate wildly. Some days I’m rather good at what I do – other days I struggle to manage even what I normally consider easy tasks. This is unfortunately mostly noticeable at work.

Maybe it’s like this: I am good at what I do, but I just can’t do it on order. I got good at media production because I did it for myself, when I felt like doing it. Now that I work with it I have to do what others tell me. And that won’t bring me the hyper focus I get from exploring my own ideas.

Knowing I can do something but having to spend twice, and often even more, time than usual is incredibly frustrating. But impossible to force. I once read someone comparing this feeling to having sex. If you’re not turned on it doesn’t matter how much you try to obey the orders and just come.

In some ways, having that incredibly boring, unqualified job I had for a while many years ago, was easier. On good days I just escaped into my brain while my body was working. On bad days I was a robot, sometimes half asleep while still working. I did the same quota of work every day either way.

I had nothing to live up to. I wasn’t an award-winning feature film director that suddenly didn’t know how to make a simple three minute film about how municipality clerks are supposed to archive their documents. No reputation of being capable and competent to uphold.

So on bad days I think I should quit my current job and not having to manage all the anxiety it can bring. But that would force me out of a job with great co-workers, good salary and that is actually pretty good on my good days. Only my stubbornness keeps me from escaping into the wild.

After being like this for my whole life I have finally come to understand that both mood swings and ability swings are consequences of chemical imbalances in my brain. Lifelong strategies and recent cognitive behavior therapy has helped, but is not enough.

Now I’m embarking on a journey into psychiatric care to see if I get to do a medical investigation for ADHD. If I get a diagnosis maybe medication will help. If it’s not ADHD my problems are caused by something else and I’m back to square one. Maybe there is nothing to do but endure.

Of course I do not wish to have a diagnose. But by getting it I would know why I feel the way I feel, why I work the way I work, and get access to tools to handle myself better. It feels kinda unreal. Maybe there is a reason to why I am like this. And maybe I could feel happy some day.

Hope often hurts, but it keeps us alive.


I have absolutely no control over what I write. I’ve written almost nothing for weeks now. And then, out of the blue, I had to pause the episode I was watching and go to my computer to write the following. Only later I found out that it by coincidence is World Mental Health Day today. So let’s consider this my unexpected contribution.

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Journal

Drawn to the water

I love drawing, but very seldom do it. I get stuck when trying to decide which one of all my ideas to choose. Despite this will to draw I end up doing nothing. The ideas tumble in my head, while the paper remains white.

This may not sound like much of a problem. But it applies to many things in my life and is kind of crippling. I often feel paralyzed and unable to perform even simple tasks. Things I’m usually good at can take twice the time. Or more.

It’s a strong inertia that I have to fight every day. Inspired by a picture I saw somewhere I use to describe it like this: While other people are running on the beach, playing and having fun, I am deadly tired from trying to run along, but neck deep out in the waves of the sea.

The metaphorical drawing pad and pen is in my bag up on the beach and though I long to draw I’m stuck in the water. It’s too tiresome to struggle to the shore and dry up to draw only for a few minutes before I have to go back into the water.

So despite my potential I stay in the water to conserve energy. I see the achievements of others. I see opportunities drift by. Life slipping away while meaninglessness slips in. I get anxious and depressed. I feel kind of imprisoned in myself.

Constantly I think of escape. From the water, from the beach. I could retreat to an island where there is nothing I have to do. Where I could just be. Maybe then I could muster the energy to choose something to draw once in a while.

But here I sit, alone in the water and can’t get up.

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Journal

Talk me down

A friend heard my voice over the phone. She asked if I was alright, said I sounded so fragile. I hadn’t noticed myself, but when I started to listen to myself I realized I was in some kind of light anxiety attack.

I wanted to talk and explain, but though I was grasping for words, I was constantly losing my breath just from talking. Not quite coherent, close to overwhelm, frustrated over not being able to talk properly.

But her listening and answering, her concern and questions, grounded me, pulled me back from my anxiety. Took me out of my spinning thoughts, back to reality. Eventually I managed to calm down.

We humans are extraordinarily equipped to deal with problems together. Social groups – friends – is the greatest strength we have. Together we can face any hardship. All will be well.

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Journal

The Anxiousness Express

It’s interesting what we can hide from ourselves. It was not until a while ago when I realized that the Swedish word ångest translates in English, not only as anguish, but also as agony and anxiety, that I accepted that I actually do suffer from ångest, but in the less severe form anxiety.

I’ve realized that my anxiety is not just ordinary worry, but something much more energy draining. The constant ruminations about present and possible future problems is not just thinking ahead, it’s overthinking ahead. Almost subconscious and always uncontrollable.

One reason for my constant stress, why I want to hurry so with publishing my novels, and why I want to finish all my creative projects asap, is because of a very troublesome thought that I can’t get rid of. I always have this relentless feeling that I will die soon.

Of course there’s no substantial reason for this apprehensive urgency to put my affairs in order. It’s a hypochondriac over-interpreting of minor issues that gets fed into the anxiety-loop and amplifies until I get this nightmarish dread of impending doom.

Sometimes I handle this by thinking nihilistic thoughts. If I’m about to die then nothing matters anyway. I’ll just do something fun and eat lots of chocolate until it happens. Sometimes I obsess and work myself into exhaustion to make the most of the time while I can.

Though I often claim to be very liminal this is an area where I’m always at the extreme ends of the scale. The massive amounts of energy needed to reach those ends are extracted through anxiousness and leave few resources to other endeavors, like daily life.

I don’t think my worries are any different from what most people wrestle with. Death, health, body, mind, parents, relationships, friends, work, money, existence and all. Like relentless carriages in a train. We’re all welcome aboard The Anxiousness Express.

Well, the first step is to realize that my anxiety isn’t my normal state. The second is getting an overview of the subconscious strategies I’ve put in place to hide this from myself. Third is to find ways to divert the energy pouring down this black hole into something more constructive.

Stay tuned to this journal to find out what happens next!

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Journal

Hidden thinking

There is a lot of hidden thinking going on in my head. I feel thoughts and things happening in my brain, but they are not conscious, I can’t perceive them. It’s as if I’m shut out from some of my thinking. It’s grinding in the background and then suddenly I have an idea or feeling I don’t know where it came from. But it must be from these hidden thoughts.

I walk a lot in my apartment. Back and forth between rooms. I know I am thinking all the while, I feel something going on deep in my mind. It often happens when I know there is information to process, decisions to make. But there are no clear, conscious thoughts. Just me walking – as if waiting for a letter with instructions to pop in through the letterbox.

So I don’t think in words or images all the time. Sometimes it’s just a feeling of activity, maybe machine code being computed, and I can only access the result. Sometimes not even that. We all have lots of sub-conscious processes, but this feels more like I have a whole other consciousness parallel to the one that is “me”. Like a neighbor I occasionally hear through the wall.

Well, I have no conclusion to reach about this, no insight at the end of this journal post. At least not yet. But I wonder: Do anyone of you think non-understandable thoughts?

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Journal

Traits and clusters

Hi, I’m Ellinor Kall. And I’m also not. Ellinor is a fiction, but she is also me, and I am her, and we are but clusters of personality traits among many overlapping sub-persons sharing a brain and body. I’ll try to explain.

As humans we all have different mindsets when we do different things. One state of mind when doing a difficult math exam, one when performing music onstage, one when doing heart surgery, one when cuddling a loved one.

We can do all these different things, but only one at a time, cause I could never even answer what 9+14 is if asked in the middle of a concert with my band or write a thoughtful poem while driving in a chaotic city at rush hour.

So what I’ve done is to give one of those mindsets a name: Ellinor. When I’m alone, in a certain mood, often with music in headphones, thinking about certain topics, when writing, etc, I get into this mental state that is Ellinor.

I’ve always been a bit outside the box, never really identifying as man or woman, and having a fluid sexuality, so adopting a female persona on top of my male body never felt odd to me, I only wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.

There is a lot of writing all over this website, and in all my writing, about me coming to understand that I have this strong feminine side if you want to know more about the process.

Sometimes it felt like a wonderful realization and freedom to not suppress a big part of myself, and sometimes it turned into a tiresome and depressing war with myself, and especially with the appearance of my body.

At the moment we’re at a truce. I try to accept that this body is what we got to work with. Ellinor have to live in the brain and on the internet. She is my internet-body. And she has to be a passenger out in the physical world (even if she is a bit of a cat person and hate not being in control).

I also keep two journals. One in Swedish, often more mundane, what I’ve done during the day and interactions with people. One in English, with more emotions and philosophy. This text started as a journal note for instance.

Why a foreign language in the journal? Well, it started with most of Ellinor’s friends being English-speakers on the internet. And then it does something to the thought process when thinking and writing in another language. You think and express a bit differently.

I usually like to point out in new internet-places that I figure in that there is this fictional aspect to me, that Ellinor is not a cis-female, so that no one will feel like I am trying to deceive them, cause that is not my intention.

While my parts are on the outside, my hearts are on the inside. The sum is some kind of non-binary, liminal, queer, why-do-we-have-to-categorize-everything, anarchistic conglomerate of fuzzy pieces that is me.

So while all this may sound complicated it is the best way for me to make sense of the patchwork of traits and personality clusters that is me. I am a state of mind that is called Ellinor Kall. And I am not.

Well, I’m not sure if this rambling explanation actually explained anything, but I’ll post it anyway!

Categories
Journal

Interview with an angel

From my interview with an [angel]: “The quantum nature of the Universe? Ah, yes, I know, a bit embarrassing. It’s just because [god] didn’t know the difference between jpg and svg in the beginning. And now there’s too much content to convert it all.”

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Journal

Breeding mutations

Breed mutations. That’s what we do as writers. We use our minds to trap existing words and ideas from our cultural surroundings. Then we expose them to high levels of imagination-radiation until they mutate into new creatures that we let loose and claim to have created from scratch.

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Illustration Journal

Writer = Magician

Ellinor Kall

I have almost no pictures of myself that I feel comfortable with. So when interviewed and asked for an author photo I panicked and threw this self-portrait together. But then I felt people would not understand and think I write children’s stories so I decided not to use it.

But now that I think of it, I dunno, what if I actually do write stories for children? Heroes and monsters looking for a better life are maybe all that we are anyway. Reality might be a fairy-tale and we all look different inside our glamour. Perhaps we are all fiction.

I’ll see you all in the forest tonight, flying around, laughing, shooting lightning from my hands.

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Journal

Azza-Jono & ellowrites in remembrance

The now mostly collapsed socmed platform Ello.co was a minimalistic non-profit alternative to FB with respect for privacy and no advertising. It attracted a lot of artists and writers and it was where I started writing both fiction and socially in English. The #ellowrites community was fertile ground for all kinds of weirdness and I made friends with some “fellow mutants”. It shaped who I became in troubled times. Ello was a real place to me.

Together we created the fictional living twin city of Azza-Jono and collaborated on a collection of short-stories set in that same world. I started writing a story-line I called The Second Voice, of which The DreamCube Thread (now found in Vast) is an offshoot. I still plan to continue writing The Second Voice in the (hopefully) not to distant future.

What is Azza-Jono then? It’s The Conscious City. The two cities of Azza and Jono connected and divided by a river and a great wall. It’s high-tech assassins and magicians. An exploration into art, science, religion, madness, dreams and wakefulness. It’s as hard to explain as it is looking into the Sun.

From my personal point of view Azza-Jono is fiction becoming real. Much like myself. My first words were: “I write myself into existence.”

Today the former ellovians are scattered all over internet. And since most of them seem to shun socmed there is almost no information about this fantastic multi-disciplinary project anywhere – except for the collections by T van Santana (see links below). Although I know some of us continue to work with and in Azza-Jono through writing, art, design, music and even animation.

In searching for what links I could find that is still available on the internet I was reminded of many fond memories. This strange community of writers, artists and musicians, and the odd fiction we sprouted together helped me to accept myself and transform as a person. I wouldn’t have been Ellinor Kall if all this hadn’t happened.

The time and place was just right. The positive mood, the feeling of something new, curiosity celebrated and rewarded, diversity appreciated, and the sheer force in the creativity. It won’t happen often. Or ever again. For a while this other world took me in and I lived there while healing my wounds.

And to think I just stumbled upon it all by chance while randomly browsing to distract myself from sobbing alone and abandoned on a ten hour train ride all these years ago.

Links to Azza-Jono

T van Santana became our editor and collected our first drafts in this advance reading collection (as in unfinished sneak peak)
https://tablo.io/t-van-santana/tales-from-azza-jono

Baphomet Tripp (from X.A.O.S) wrote music and lyrics to The Anthem of Reconciliation (for Azza-Jono)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s60tIsO3lFw

My story The DreamCube Thread is published in Vast
https://orchidslantern.org/2020/02/28/vast-release-day/

My own The Second Voice-stories will either be published in print or made available on my website once I’ve had time to work some more with them.

Azza-Jono portal (stories, videos and things still up on Ello)
https://ello.co/tvansantana/post/ycqaij_eev2hqsxq5ys0nq

More stories by contributors (will add more when I find them)
https://tablo.io/t-van-santana/more-tales-from-azza-jono
https://tablo.io/t-van-santana/azza-jono-outbreak
https://tablo.io/allenblair/accession

Other fragments and work-in-progress left on Ello.co (though many profiles and posts have been deleted since)
https://ello.co/search?terms=azzajono