Trails, Trials and Tribulations

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“On Norski Trail” 2018. Color pencil on paper.

 

Life has been throwing challenge after challenge at my wife and me for many years now, health, money, friendships…we’ve been through a lot together and we have endured somehow.

One thing that makes life worth living right now are the numerous trails around Santa Fe, where we live. You can get to a trail within minutes from our house and we go as often as we can. Watching our two dogs run, tails up, sniffing, playing, rolling in the snow, chewing on sticks, chasing each other is the simplest and most rewarding break from reality that I can think of.

We have no money for movies, dinners, trips, whatever…and these little hikes with our four legged friends mean so much. Any dog owner will understand.

I think we are in the deepest darkness of our lives right now, but I still believe that we will get out of it someday.

Until we do, the trails will trump the trials and tribulations life is throwing at us right now.

 

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

“Sam’s Auto”

Color pencil on paper, 2015. Sold.

Sometimes when I doubt myself and feel like a total loser, I have to remind myself of all the things I have accomplished in life.
I went from a miserable 16 year old to a flourishing young man when I was accepted into an art school after ninth grade. A few years later I went on to create music, writing songs to deal with the pain of losing my mother to mental illness and suicide.
I dreamed of recording an album and play the music festivals and with hard work and a little bit of luck and people who believed in me, I did all that; I released a total of 5 full length albums and a bunch of EP’s, toured a lot and played at all those festivals I dreamed of, did music videos, radio, TV and loads and loads of interviews with newspapers and magazines.
I want to believe that all that mattered, not just to me, but to those who bought my records, those who listened and came to the shows.
Still, to this day, I get emails from people who loves my music and it’s the most incredible feeling when they tell me stories from their own lives and how my songs helped them get through things. I think that because my songs were so personal, they touched the listener deeply; I have had many people tell me how my songs put them in touch with their own emotions and helped them deal with loss of a close friend or family member and it is THE most awarding feeling to hear their stories!

In another adventure, my wife and I moved to the US, starting a new life from scratch and we have struggled for years and years now. My wife being chronically ill has made everything even tougher and at the time of writing this, we are in the deepest financial crisis of our life, not sure how to put food on the table from one day to the next.

When I question myself, my choices in life and the roads I have taken, I always come to the same conclusion; I don’t really have any regrets.
I am happy and proud of who I am and what I have done. Do I wish things were different for us? Sure, absolutely – the constant financial struggle is unbelievably tough and it wears you down so hard, especially when the one you love is struggling and there’s nothing you can do to help…
But I have to believe that there’s a way out of it.
I have to believe that eventually, there will be a light at the end of the long tunnel we’re in right now…
And so I keep going to work every day, doing my best.
I keep working on my art, learning something new with every new drawing.
I keep treating others with love and respect, as I know we don’t know what others are going through on a daily basis…

And somewhere in the back of my head, I think that I will make music again, some day.

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The World Outside

Looking Out At the World Outside.

This is Max, peeking out the screen door.

He’s a rescue and he came to us in 2012 along with his “sister”, Neko.  They’re indoor cats, their world is our apartment and they seem happy that way.  They are both declawed, they came to us that way, so a life outdoors will never happen.

This morning, the thought popped into my head that instead of Max sitting there, peeking out at the world outside, I could have drawn my wife.

For three years now, she has been going through treatment for Neuro Borreliosis ( Lyme) and a long list of other co infections. She has not been able to work for five years now and her life is a very isolated one. With no friends or family around, nobody ever comes to visit, nobody calls…there’s nobody there, ever…and I pictured her for a moment in my head sitting there behind the screen door, longing for something else.

I’ve known my wife since 1999. She worked at the place where I had my very first gig with my band David & the Citizens. May 6th, 1999.

I remember her talking about the USA, where she grew up. Always talking about Dallas, the warmth of the people and the humidity in the air. I remember her telling me about the time when her grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer; neighbors coming over with food and empathy. Longingly, she told me about those years and how much she missed it; the friendships, the feeling of togetherness and maybe a simpler time. I guess she hoped to reconnect with that feeling when we moved back to the US in 2009.

Since moving here, we have indeed gotten a lot of help from people. We started a new life from scratch and we have struggled for years now. The feeling of friendship and community that she had hoped for has, however, not appeared. Since she started her treatment people around us have gradually disappeared. Fewer and fewer people have kept in touch and these days we are totally isolated from the rest of the world.

My wife in particular.

I have a job to go to five days a week, eight hours a day. I meet people, I interact, I socialize…she sits at home alone. No phone calls, no visitors. Nobody. She takes a yoga class every day, as it helps with the detox from all the medicines she takes. I drive her when I can. I pick her up every day on my lunch break as nobody else ever offers her a ride.

Recently, a guy who practices at the studio had an accident and broke his leg. Within a week there was a carpool set up with other students taking him to and from class. He lives two blocks from us and they have to pass our house on the way to the studio. Not once have they offered my wife a ride.

She looks out through the screen door, longing to be part of the world, but the world seem to be slipping away…

 

https://www.gofundme.com/2bbs9xfq

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All the Things I’ve Been.

I’ve been a lot of things in my life:

I’ve been happy and sad, successful and a total failure. I’ve been popular and shunned, I’ve been responsible and completely irresponsible, fast and and slow, dull and glowing.  I’ve been a mailman, a stage worker, a musician, a caretaker, a janitor, a manager, a traveler, a friend.

I’ve been celebrated and forgotten.

I have been creative and numb, emotional and outgoing, a recluse and a hand shaker, a winner and a loser. I have been kind and I have been mean. I have been heartless, fearless, useless,topless…I have never been homeless…but I fear the time has come to try that as well…

When your expenses outweighs your income and you live with a chronically ill person, in America this is what happens… This country apparently feels that it’s OK if people lose everything because they are sick. It’s a small price to pay for Capitalism, I guess.

I have tried every avenue I know of to keep us afloat, but it seems we have reached the end of this…we’re just treading water, not going anywhere but slowly down.

Neuroborreliosis (Lyme) is a slow killer. It takes everything away from you and it drowns you slowly and painfully. As a spouse, mother, brother, friend, whatever you may be…it is incredibly painful to watch and not be able to do anything. Unless you are lucky enough to not have to worry about money, it will consume every aspect of your life, as it has ours.

I am truly at a loss of what to do right now and it scares me. We have so little already…all we have is our home and if we lose it, I just don’t know how we can move forward?

And here’s the part where everyone goes; “Well, why don’t you move back to Sweden? They have free healthcare, don’t they?”

Well, yes, Sweden has socialized healthcare and in many aspects it is awesome. BUT; there is no help to get for people living with late stage neuroborreliosis in Sweden either. If you suffer from this “over there”, you have to find help elsewhere…

So no matter which way you turn, your ass is always in the back, if you know what I mean.

Now, I have a week to figure things out.

Any bright ideas, anyone?

 

prints for sale: $50 + shipping.

 

 

 

 

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The Magic of Trains.

At the Rail Yard

“At the Rail Yard”, color pencil drawing, 2017

Santa Fe Trainstation

“Santa Fe Train Station”, color pencil drawing, 2017

I live in America, the land of the car, a country where in most places you need a car to get around; public transportation leaves a lot to wish for.

I didn’t always live here, though.

I grew up in Sweden and from a very early age, I’ve had an intimate relation with trains. My parents separated when I was four years old and my brother and I stayed with our dad, but every other weekend or so, we would go visit our mother.

At first we would go on a bus to where she lived, but when she moved to another city in another part of the country, train was the main transportation.

My memories of trains and travelling are vivid, although somewhat fogged now by the filter of time, but I still get a strange nostalgic, warm feeling of adventure, nervousness and anticipation every time I see a train. That feeling is still with me from all those years ago…

It’s been years now since last I rode on a train, but now that I live in Santa Fe, I see the    Rail Runner all the time, and since I’m just a few blocks away from the rail yard , I pass by those old train carts parked down by the train station all the time.

I will always remember those journeys my older brother and I went on when we were boys. Both of us nervous about getting on that train all by ourselves, both of us anxious to see our mother. We’d stock up on candy and comic magazines and watch the scenery outside the window. That cart they pushed down the isles, selling candy and soda’s, people getting on and off at the stops in all those small towns along the way…

I was always nervous when it  was time to change trains which we had to most trips, but my older brother guided me and made sure we got to the right platform and on to the connecting train. We’d arrive to a hundred hugs and kisses, our mother was a very emotional woman, and we’d walk through the city with her and life would be good.

48 hours later, as the weekend was over, she would walk us down to the train station again and wave us off as the train started rolling away…she always ran until the end of the platform, waving and crying and we would wave and cry and press our faces against the window, until we couldn’t see her anymore. Her disappearing silhouette forever ingrained in my memory.

Every time, an emotional journey and though it wasn’t far to go – a couple of hours-  it was a big deal for us…Now I live on the other side of the planet and it’s a little longer to go. My mother passed away in 1998, but my father and brother are still in Sweden and I think about them a lot. If only I could get on a train and go see them.

I miss the cradling movement of the rocking train cars, the pounding of the wheels against the rails, the conductor walking down the isle calling out the name of the next station, checking the passenger’s tickets…seen now in the rear view mirror of time, it seems magical somehow…

 

 

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In the Darkest Hour.

They say there is light to find even in the darkest hour; when all things are collapsing around you and you are alone on a road that seems to be leading you nowhere, there is hope.

I want so badly to believe that right now as I am exactly in that place.

I don’t see the road leading anywhere but into a dead end.
And yet I keep walking.
I feel no hope, yet I keep hoping.
I have no dreams and yet I cannot give up the dream.
I feel numb and yet my heart is full of feelings
I cannot create and yet, creating is the only thing that keeps me upright.

“Take us apart and put us back together right, so we can leave on our feet in the night…”

Headlights, “Kill Them With Kindness”, 2006

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Since moving to Santa Fe at the end of September 2016, life has been a bit of a struggle. My wife, battling late stage Lyme and a long list of co-infections, lost her health insurance due to a clerical error and was without her medications for a month. That set her back big time.
Recently, she went to have some lab work done, but the technician failed to run several of the test her doctor called for and because of that he was unable to prescribe new medications for her. Again, a big setback for her.
We have been two people living on one salary for years and it’s tough.
Always poor, always struggling to make ends meet.
If it hadn’t been for the help of my father, I don’t know how we would have made it.

When you’re poor, you try to find things to do that doesn’t cost money.
Like going to lake Abiquiu.
Like going hiking.
Like driving up the mountain to one of the many trails we have up there.
Our dogs love it and we do too. Being out in nature rejuvenates and recharges your batteries, there’s something healing in being among the trees.
The silence, the bird calls, the wind in the leaves, the distance to all things constantly hovering over you; bills, rent,how to afford groceries, how to afford all the supplements and medications that you need…nature takes the worries away for a few moments and here in Santa Fe, nature is everywhere; you don’t have to go far to feel like you’re far away.

So we try to go every day I’m not working. We get the dogs in the car and start driving and as soon as we make the turn onto Artist Road, the dogs know and Abby gets super exited and starts whining and talking to us.
“Are we going to the mountain?”, we ask. She replies with a long line of “words” and some serious salsa dancing.
The simple pleasures in life…

 

“Driving Up the Mountain”
Color pencil drawing on paper.
2017.

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