Maolin was here.

Unexpected snowstorm on Gulou
Close to Forbidden City
Great Leap Brewery

Malin is this crazy gyal I’ve known for almost twenty years. We both wished the other one gone the first half year of our relationship, but we were stuck together.

The problem was never really that there was anything wrong with her or vice versa, just jealousy. You see, Stephanie was my bff at school, but Malin was her bff at home. Oh what a mess that turned into when Malin who is 1 year younger, appeared when I started 7th grade. Shit. I had only heard that bitches name til this day… now I couldn’t wait to let her know how I felt about her being around. 

We put trashcans on each others heads with a laugh, as if it was funny to everyone but we knew it was about humiliation. To discourage. We took every chance we got to make the other one feel like an idiot. Trying to keep up internal jokes with “Steffie” to make eachother feel left out. It all changed after After Christmas break though, when Stephanie moved away. Now Malin was the only sane person around. Shit. The people in my own class were just classmates, not my friends. But the people in Malins class were nutbags. Stealing shit. Breaking shit. Smoking. Drinking. Not respecting the shoeline by the entrance. Not respecting the rules of no outdoors clothes indoors. People born 89 are fucking weird man. Who the hell was I supposed to hang out with?!

I felt too organized for the Eightyniners. Too dumb for the bookworms in my own grade.

Malin and I stopped fighting. We had to. Instead we missed our friend together and eventually  forgot all about her. We both felt equally unimportant to Stephanie now, since she never called, sent an invitation, a text or an email to either of us. It brought the two of us together. Now it was her and I, plus the other weirdos from her year, against the immigrant bitches and idiots. GAME.ON.

Yeapp, we called them much worse stuff than that. To their face. And them us. School turned into something out of a movie about tragic teens. The Turkish Bitches made my life hell. That started brewing the first week I spent t that school, but didn’t escalate as long as I was hanging out with kind and cute Stephanie. We just wanted to read Harry Potter and draw trees together. Attra, the bitch leader of the bitch pack, turned into stone the very moment I chose to be Erica and Stephanies friend over theirs. My real life Draco! All smiles were gone. The air was sucked out. Then Stephanie moved away and I started hanging out with Malins crazy peers. The Eightyniners. Crazy mother fuckers. It all fucking exploded. And I can barely remember picking up a book during 7th grade.

I wrote one, but didn’t read any. The one I wrote got disqualified because my teacher could not possibly believe that a what? A girl in baggy jeans and a hoodie who skips most classes to go smoking and stealing stuff from the mall, cant possibly write anything worth reading?

This book was my biggest achievement in life til that point.
It was about a girl named Milla, who fell inlove. She was me, but not really. She did crazy things with her friends, but in a different way. In a healthier and happier way. Through that book, I dreamed. Writing this book kept me inside the school. I printed several copies of each page after finishing and handed out to anyone interested. Then I handed out new versions. All of it was waited upon and read with excitement by a big bunch of girls. It brought my separate group of friends together. I had a girl from my hometown who came to my class, but she hung out with the nerdier girls who read adult stuff like The Lord of the Rings as 12 year olds. Quite amazing I thought. I would never dream of reading a brick like that. It didnt seem human to me to read so heavy stuff at that age. I was major impressed. So having these girls interested in my writing was fantastic. I got recognition! Their interest made all the difference! Walking through the corridors seeing these smart girls read my pages with high interest while walking, I FELT CAPABLE! PROUD! CREATIVE AND AMAZING! Oh boy how my heart was broken when that teacher, who I had thought was so cool with her short hair and rave clothes, told me it was “Plagiarism”. I just burst into tears. I thought she wanted to have a meeting about the book, to talk about how great it is to see me do some schoolwork again. She didn’t know where from, but she was sure I had stolen it off the internet. 

Eventually my friends spoke up for me. That was a beautiful thing. Girls from different groups and years, told my teacher how I had been not hanging out with them to write the damn thing. It was nice to feel someone had my back atleast. Even though the smart girls later on called for an official meeting to let me know they don’t wanna be my friend anymore, cus I was “too different”. Up til that point, I had even felt pride to be one of them every now and then. Even got invited to 2 birthday parties. I only heard the opening words of the meeting before I paniced the fuck out of there. More than enough to set my heart to burn, freak me out and figure the rest. “Mm, Sanna” the teacher said.. “Hae you noticed how different you girls are?”

I had not come there to be humiliated. I had come because I had thought we were planning something fun together. And for some fucking reason, the school shrink was there to support them in this intervention type of friendship breakup. God I hated that school. Not the students, but those shitty adults. She should have told them that an official meeting with 5 girls wanting to officially resign from being my friend IS WRONG! I hadn’t even really done anything. I was just not like them. Just not smart like them. The shrink should have had some respect for the very fact that I hadn’t really done anything. Some respect for me. She should have taught these girls that this is not the way to handle a situation like this. Not force them to spend time with me either, but at least not condone in my humiliation like this. 

I haven’t felt I belonged anywhere since this year in school. Just waiting to get kicked out of whatever group Im trying to get involved with. Surprised that I am being wanted back. Not kidding. This is my life now. Just waiting for people to realize I’m not good enough to for them. Not until today have I connected the dots. During these years in school I grew away from being confident. Away from being happy and content with myself.

I had been called a rabbit for years. But it never bothered me so in to the bones as it started to, during this year. I even stopped eating carrots. I really started to feel ugly. That nobody will ever appreciate or understand me.

Shortly after the whole situation with the book, the teacher let me skip 3 levels. Because everything those 3 levels would teach, I had proven in my book I knew all about. Subconcious skill?

Between the eightyniners and the Turkish Bitches looooads of name calling was going on. My school books were kicked around the floor, while I was trying to clean out my locker on floor level. Ugly became my nickname. Rabbit continued being my nickname. “Have you ever heard of this thing called braces ugly?” It all was a disaster. But it was in a weird way, not for real. Because if I would be alone on the subway, the girls would’nt say or do anything. Just ignore me. It all was just a way to pass time at school, between stealing makeup from H&M and smoking Denise’s moms cigarettes.

Malin and I grew up together. Became people together. Not the best ones, but we did it together. We’re pretty decent folks today! As teens she supported me through everything. Always made me feel ok, that’s it not me who is the problem, but the other people who don’t see how great I am. We looked after eachother. I was the oldest but she was the big sister. Now I think I have grown into the role of the big sister, but we will see how long it takes before she reclaims it again.

Over the years we lost contact on and off due to new schools, new friends, boyfriends, hobbies, lifestyles. But we always knew we weren’t gonna be apart forever. We just needed space to grow, since we were growing in different directions. Like two branches on the same tree. Instead of pulling eachother to come our own way, we gave each other room to go to brightest place. It was out of nothing but true love and respect, that we dropped contact from time to time. Since we couldn’t support each others decisions always, and we would have nasty fights instead; we organically took breaks, rather than risking fucking up the whole relationship. We knew it was important. We’d met up after a few weeks or months and see how things are going, then keep in touch or fall our again depending on how the meeting went. It could go up to a year maybe more sometimes. We knew if we were ready or not. Through all of this, if either of us would have been in desperate need, we’d been there in a heart beat. We’d drop anything.

Here in Beijing we enjoyed just hanging out on our yogamats in my Hutong, but we did manage to get out of the house and see some stuff.  As a photographer, I kept it simple. Never brought  flash or anything fancy, not even a change of lens. Just a charged battery with an empty CF card. Keep it simple stupid.

Malin my love, my sister. What the hell would I have ever done without you?

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“Love means you never have to say you’re sorry”

You can’t tell by watching yourself in the mirror that your mind and body is growing, but you can tell that you have grown when finding yourself in a situation you’ve been in before. But you’re dealing with it differently. You’re looking at it differently. Whether it be a physical space like your childhood home, or an argument with your loved one.

Now, about the titling quote “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry”, what kind of douche bag came up with that? Probably someone who feels they’re not doing anything right. Someone tired of apologizing. Someone so ashamed of their actions that they consider themselves entitled to an emotional sanitizing, as if their emotions were loans needing to be wiped away because they racked up too much shit to deal with.

Instead of admitting these mindless actions and deal with the emotions of regret, the whole job is being dumped on the person you’ve failed to begin with. Giving that person more work to do, since now he she needs to just understand, and forgive. Meaning, you are still taking from this person. 

You’re not actually doing anything at all to become a better person. Just asking people to love you anyway. And probably you are not even asking, but expecting them to.

Now that’s a terrible thing to do… Honestly man, you’re being a real turd. Basically, what you are doing is removing the stones in your own heart and putting them in your loved ones. But when it comes to true love, it should be the other way around.

You are assuming it is your right to get understanding. To get respect. To be forgiven. This reasoning is faulty, because none of these things are for the taking. All of it shall be deserved. Given to you. Now it doesn’t work like that. Forgiveness is a gift, even Jesus said that.

You being released from your inner agony is not your right, because you have caged yourself. Only you can let yourself go. Any kind of release is worked for, it never just appears. The cage isn’t a pshycial space, but a feeling that has consumed you after a certain thought. Emotions follow thought. So, what was that thought? What was that awful thing you did? Admit it to yourself. Feel how you feel. But whatever you do, don’t budge. Dont flee. Never let fear or regret make you run from your self. Running in panic will make you lose your path.

Sit strong with your emotions. Accept them. Make your fear your lesser enemy; not some powerful thing to be afraid of. By allowing shame to eat you up to the point you cant even deal with this mess you’ve created, this other person would be doing all the inner work for you. Stop making it his her job to make you feel better when you are disappointed with yourself. When it was never them who fucked up to begin with. You did. That’s why you are the one feeling shame and not them. So why would you wanna make somebody else work harder, when the job is yours to do?

Admit instead how you have this awful feeling in your stomach, that makes you wanna puke, to the person you’ve wronged. That these memories keeps you up at night. That no hot water bottle is making your heart feel any less stressed out or comforted. That you don’t know what to do. He she needs to feel in their heart that they know you are not fooling them, that you are not just saying things that ought to make them feel better. If they cant feel you are genuine, they wont forgive you. And shouldn’t either. Forgiveness is an ease of tension, so trust is necessary. Its not about someone being stubborn or easy going, its physically impossible to forgive someone you don’t believe. To forgive is physical event. That’s why we sometimes have to beg. Because we fucked up somebodies trust so bad, that their inner monologue don’t know if we are worthy of it anymore. That’s the voice we gotta reach.

In a situation where you feel like a giant turd, you’ll release yourself from that awful space by giving. Expecting more just adds to your dept, since the shame most likely comes from selfish behavior in the past. To run from shame is in fact something one should be ashamed of.

Reaching a point where you feel like you don’t deserve anything that’s given to you, is not that great. But in the end, it will make you a better person than if you’d reach a point in the opposite direction. It makes you see how much you have to be grateful for. How lucky you are. Life is all about perspective.

Nihal doesn’t know at all who I am, but the two of us are in a strong agreement. Sit with your emotions. Let them wash over you. Let it all come to you, but don’t let it consume you. Watch them as separate things from you. Its part of the process of understanding oneself.  A part of figuring out who the hell you are. Its a part of love.

If you never question yourself and just go about life making regret and shame something you never experience, you are not perfect, you are just lying to yourself.

Feeling ignorant? Nihal will help you with that.