Time Is a Curious Thing.

“Reflections On Abiquiu Lake pt 2” Color pencil on paper, 2018.

Time.

Sometimes it is a memory, sometimes it’s a smell, sometimes it’s the loss of a memory, the loss of a name or how to get to somewhere. Mostly we don’t notice time until we stop and allow ourselves to remember, to feel the absence of something or that weird feeling in your chest of missing someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

Time as a measurement of time itself doesn’t really do the trick, does it? It has to be time, in relation to something, or someone.

It feels like yesterday my wife and I were sitting in the car, on our way home one evening, it was still late summer and she said she wanted to go to Abiquiu lake again before summer’s end. I said “sure, there’s still time to go!”

And then there wasn’t.

Fall swept in quickly and summer ended and so did the opportunity to swim in Abiquiu lake. Until next summer. Further down the track of time that we have been given.

I was sitting in the backyard just now, letting the dogs out to potty. I sat by our small IKEA patio set; two folding chairs and a half moon shaped table. I looked up at the apricot tree and the bare branches, but all I saw was me on a ladder picking apricots under a sun lit sky. That was just a few months ago, but it feels longer, and yet so close.

I remember the day we boarded the plane that would take us from Copenhagen to Atlanta and from there to Austin TX. As we were boarding we were all cramped in together waiting to check in and I remember vividly thinking “if something happens, these are the people I will die with…”

I didn’t really think about it, it was just one of those thoughts that pop into your head for a second and then it’s gone.

That was on July 27, 2009, but it feels like yesterday.

What’s left of time are little snippets, moments of life that passed you by at some point, and a lot of those snippets seem so insignificant sometimes; the strangest images of moments that seem like they weren’t that important.

But maybe they were?

If I took all those little snippets that I can remember and put them together in a film, that would be the film of my life, my time here on earth. One by one they may not make much sense, but all together they might paint a pretty telling image of my life.

It would be interesting to see.

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Wide Open Spaces

abiquiu

“Reflections On Abiquiu Lake”

Color pencil on paper, 13X19″, 2018

$550

 

I work at Whole Foods in Santa Fe, it is a workplace bustling with movement, people, sounds, music…there’s not a quiet moment. I kind of like that, I like interacting with people, I like the casual conversations that take place.

Sometimes those casual conversations stay in my thoughts for days. Like the guy I met who had traveled around Sweden right after 9/11. Of Mexican/middle eastern descent, he raised a lot of eyebrows when hitchhiking around Dalarna in the north parts of Sweden. He said people were friendly but also kind of suspicious and a little scared of him. There’s a Mora in Sweden and a Mora here in New Mexico, a funny coincidence.

Yesterday I met another man from Denmark. The Danish accent is pretty easy to spot and as he was asking about the coffee set up, I could hear clearly where he was from. We started talking and I asked how he ended up around here. He said he had come here 29 years ago for work and he never went back. Now he lives outside Alamosa in Colorado by the great sand dunes. He said he loves the wide open spaces, the vastness of the landscape. There’s nothing like it in Denmark. Not in Sweden either for that matter. He said he hates the politics, but loves the people and touching on the subject of politics in Europe – Sweden and Denmark both – he got quiet and I could tell he was trying to find the right words, but he just shook his head and said “there are so many bad things going on…”

A few weeks ago, I had a lady asking about our bread selection and I recommended our Prussian Rye loaf, a dark, dense, rich bread that reminds me about the breads my dad would bake when I was a kid, growing up in Sweden. She said: “I’m from Sweden!” “Oh, so you speak Swedish then?” I asked

“Of course!” she said and then told me in Swedish that she was from Uppsala and that her name was Birgitta. She had lived here for more than 20 years and she had no plans of moving back.

Then there’s the young mother who comes in with her two kids. She speaks a little bit of Swedish as she lived there for a year or two as a student and every time we meet, I teach her boy a Swedish word.

Of all the emigrants from Sweden/Denmark, the one thing they all say is that they don’t want to go back. They all hate the political situation here in the US, but there is something about this land that grabs a hold of you, something about the wide open spaces, the people…the freedom…I say freedom reluctantly, because there is little freedom when it comes to the politics, healthcare and so on, but there is a lot of freedom in the landscapes, the wide open spaces, the mountains and valleys, the deserts, the small towns and the big cities like New York and Houston and I love it. There are so many things I have yet to see and one of these days I hope to get my hands on a camper van and drive all around these united states of mixed emotions and see it all up close.

One day I will travel the wide open spaces.

For now, however, I have to settle for little snippets of stories from the strangers I meet at Whole Foods here in little Santa Fe.

 

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ALL MUST GO! (well, some anyway…)

Snow Trail1. “Snowy Trail” ca 14X22. $600

 

IMG_5574 (1)

“On Norski Trail” ca 14×22″ $550

Santa Fe Trainstation

“The Train Station” ca 24×24  $500

 

Driving Up the Mountain

“Driving Up the Mountain” 11×14″ $400

wholefoods

“Untitled” 11×14″ $450

Old Car Lot On North Lamar

“The Stuff Dreams are Made of” ca 14×20″ $550

 

 

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“Fire Station No 4″ ca 14×14” $350

April 2014 001

“Caught in the Headlight” ca 14×22 $600

 

Some of you have followed my posts here for a while and know that my wife and I have been struggling for some time. In February, my wife has an appointment with her doctor up in Hyde Park, NY. He has been treating her for almost 4 years and it’s been almost 2 years since her last in office visit. In order to stay a patient at the clinic, we HAVE to come for this office visit, or they will be forced to let her go.

I am trying to raise some funds for this and the only thing  can do, really, is to try to sell some of my drawings.

I am offering these at a very discounted rate, hoping maybe somebody wants to buy. Shipping costs are not included (around $10 in the US and $40-50 to Europe).

If you are interested, please message me either here or at jdf.artist@gmail.com

If you can’t buy anything, but would like to help out – PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!

Thank You,

 

D

 

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A Dreamless Sleep

 

Kaunes

“At Kaune’s” Color pencil on paper, 2018.

For years and years I used to write down my dreams. I had a diary where about half of the entries were long, vivid descriptions of whatever adventures I had experienced during the night. Writing the dreams down was a great way to start the day and reading them afterwards, I could clearly remember every detail.

I miss those days.

These days I sleep a dreamless sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a dream. I’m sure I have them all the time, but my brain isn’t able to remember and process them. I know that stress has moved into my head, my heart and every part of my mind and body. I try not to let it, but I can’t help it. Dreams are pushed out and replaced with worry about all the usual; bills, rent, medications etc etc.

This morning I woke up and I remembered a picture that might have been a part of a dream that has disappeared from my memory;

I’m looking out the window of my car as I’m standing at a red light, a specific red light at the intersection of Cerillos and St. Francis here in Santa Fe. As I’m waiting for the light to change, I look over to my left. There’s a man standing on the median, holding a sign. At first I don’t pay attention, but there’s something about him that makes me look twice, and when I do, I realize that the man standing there is me and that other version of me is holding a sign that says:

“My wife is chronically ill

and though I have an iron will,

I can’t pay all my bills…”

 

How’s that for an image?

That’s how my brain works these days, all consumed by the constant struggle to make ends meet.

And then I wake up and go to work and I work hard five days a week but no matter how hard I work, the money just isn’t enough. No matter how hard I try to get my art “out there”, I can’t seem to get any feedback…

And so the days go by and as the month approaches it’s ending, my stress builds up, as I know I will not be able to pay my rent. Or my bills. Or my wife’s medications and supplements that she needs so badly to be able to function. And I wonder when we will get out of this darkness we are in?

I suppose I am still to find my right place in the world, a place where all my abilities can be used. I don’t know what they are, but I know I am more than this. I know I am more than a figure holding a sign at some intersection.

I’m just not sure what.

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In Search of a Better Life

IMG_1992

“In Search of a Better Life”, Color pencil on paper, 2018.

I have been a searcher all my life. I didn’t choose to be this way, it’s just who I became. Shaped, I guess, by the circumstances of life, I have become somebody who is always looking for something. What it is, I may not even know. Happiness, justice, peace…I’m not really sure.

Over the years, especially since I’ve been living in the US, I have met a lot of people who put their faith in God. Whenever life gets too hard or overwhelming, they just turn to God and somehow unload all their worries on him/her. How I wish I could do that; how I wish that I could just hand over all my worries to some strange power/force/philosophy and breath a little easier. But I just cannot.

I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in religion, especially the kind that I have seen the most of here – the politicized one. The religion where God chooses some people over others, where God picks this group as the good guys and that group as the villains.

I just don’t believe it.

Would be nice though.

I’ve been searching high and low, like some fictional character from some great novel; a wanderer, always travelling by foot to solve the great mystery of life.

When I was about to start 7th grade, I moved from my father to my mother. She had asked me if I wanted to come live with her and her husband and I said “yes”. I was curious of what that might be like. I was scared too, because it meant moving halfway across the country, starting a whole new school and leave everything I knew behind. But I went anyway. Only a year or two later, my mother fell ill and was taken to, in lack of a better word; a mental institution. This was the start of a 10 year period where she would go in and out of institutions and hospitals, on and off of medications and therapy until she finally died from an overdose of pills in the early summer of 1998.

Searching for answers and some kind of meaning, I started writing songs about her and it helped me sort out some of the questions and guilt I had. I searched for answers, traveled wide and far in my songs, went to some really dark places and some pretty happy ones too, in doing so.

I devoted my life to my music and my band and I kind of forgot everything else. When the band fell apart, so did my world. They were kind of one and the same and when I lost one, the other followed and I fell into a really dark place, the darkest place I have ever been. My wife, then girlfriend, and I came very close to breaking up, or killing each other.

There was no light.

No friends, nobody around to talk to.

Losing my band and the world of music is the hardest thing I have been through, emotionally.

Out of the darkness came a tiny, flickering light. A small flame, glowing on the horizon and though it seemed like a totally crazy and impossible thing, we decided to move to America.

My wife, a US citizen, stuck in Sweden for 20 years since moving back from Texas as a kid when her parents divorced, went through hell and high water to get me my visa to the US. She was advised to hire a lawyer, but that was a cost way out of our range, so she did everything on her own. In late spring 2009, I had passed my interview at the US embassy in Stockholm and my green card was on its way.

We were going. It was our way out of a darkness too thick to penetrate and burst out of. We put everything on one horse and off we went.

Here we are now, nine years later and things haven’t exactly turned out the way we imagined, whatever it was that we imagined, I don’t know.

I do know I didn’t imagine this.

Getting off to a rough start with finding; first a car we could afford, then a job and a place to live, eventually we had managed all those things and we had a year or two where it felt like things were going to be OK. It was rough and money was tight, but it was OK. Then my wife lost her job, got sick and could not work. Our cat died, my wife’s father died from cancer, we moved into a wonderful apartment, only to be forced out a year later after a crazy, abusive, alcoholic woman from hell moved into the apartment above us and made our life a nightmare. We moved again, into a nice, clean, well kept apartment complex and we like it there, but as Austin was growing and getting more and more crowded and expensive, we decided to move to a smaller city, close to nature so my wife could focus on trying to get better.Or so we hoped.

We came to Santa Fe. I started working at Whole Foods, but only a few months later, that store closed. I transferred to another store, but so did most other team members and any openings for supervisors etc were closed. I took a drastic pay cut leaving my old job as assistant manager. Choosing Whole Foods as a place to work was very deliberate, there are so many possibilities of advancement within the company and I wanted to make WF my career. Eventually, I was promoted to supervisor. A first step, I thought, in the right direction towards a better life, financially. Little did I know that the 2$ raise meant we would lose our food stamps. The loss of the food stamps overshadows the modest increase in pay and we’re actually struggling more now than before.

In the past year, several of my wife’s medications have gone up in price, or are not covered at all anymore and she is right now in the middle of a serious relapse. We’re more broke than we have ever been before. Today is September 4th and I am missing about $800 to be able to pay my rent. And then it’s all the other bills…our internet and our phones will be turned off in a couple of days and I have no idea how to come up with all the money needed.

We have applied over and over for financial assistance, but apparently I make too much money to be able to get any help what so ever.  My wife has been denied disability, so that’s not an option either.

So I am reduced to being a beggar. I have been asking for money online for years and it is a strange feeling, being almost 44 and not be able to take care of yourself. This constant begging for money has also pushed away most of the people I knew. Very few people are left in our lives.

There was a short period there, in Austin, where it seemed like we were making it. That little window came and left and right now we are back in a very dark place.

The constant, relentless stress of not having enough money for bills, medications, rent, clothes (when did I buy anything new for myself last?) and so on, is wearing us down and the fear of losing our home is like a big dark shadow, like Sauron in the Lord of the Rings, a shadow about to take a physical form.

I dare not think about what it would mean if we lost our home. My wife is not going to get any better if all we ever have is this constant, relentless stress…

I have been searching for something my whole life. The things I have been searching for has changed over the years. It has been different things, different goals, dreams and ideas. Right now I am searching for a quiet, protected harbor where my wife and I can take care of each other without having to worry so much about everything all the time.

Some peace of mind.

Just a place to call home.

Here’s a link to our fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/2bbs9xfq

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Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove

“Lonesome Dove” color pencil on paper, 2018

 

The title fits the image. The lonesome dove, seemingly alone, abandoned and ready to give up where it sits, melting into the pole itself, becoming a wooden sculpture instead of a live bird, free to fly away at any point.

Lonesome Dove also happens to be the title of one of my favorite books ,by Larry McMurtry. I stumbled across this book when someone had left it in the kitchen at my old job, along with other giveaways. I picked this one up as I was eating my lunch and loved it from the first sentence.

But more than anything, this drawing reminds me of my wife. I think of her as a lonesome dove, a beautiful bird who is yet to truly spread her wings and fly and become the magnificent being I know she has inside her.

Riddled by sickness throughout her life, all her plans have come to a stop at some point. Year after year of health problems followed by other health problems; two cancers, a bicycle accident leading to a blood clot, which ruined her dance career…and now Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Brucellosis…and more recently an added diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure.

All combined an incredibly complicated cocktail of crap to deal with, and an expensive one. For over three years now, she has been continuously on a medical treatment and our days are very much determined by her current status and the medication schedule. The financial worries are eating us both up as we struggle to make ends meet (which we are not). The physical stress on her body, continuously being put through all this stress…but the one thing that is the hardest to deal with is the fact that we have become so isolated. Few people who hasn’t gone through this, truly understand the struggle. Over the past couple of years, we have found ourselves more and more isolated, misunderstood and almost outcast. Even close family doesn’t seem to understand, or want to really, fully understand.

We talk about this often and as much as I would like to change it, you can’t force people to want to hang out with you, right?

I know my wife is hanging on by the skin of her teeth and it breaks my heart. This is part of a text she sent me today:

“…I’m experiencing a free fall and it’s getting harder and harder for me to suppress. The loneliness is eating me up from inside. It feels like the loneliness is a cancer that is eating me up inside. I want to have friends and family with me . I have nobody. I shake it off, but it crawls back on me. I’m so broken that I don’t know how anyone will ever be able to put me back together again, David. I hurt so much in my body, my heart and my soul because of people’s repulsion and distance to me, that it feels like I can’t breath. Heartbreakingly lonely. Crushed. Broken…”

I have never suffered from loneliness, I quite like y own company. But then again; I’ve never gone through the kind of battle that she is. I have a good relationship with my father, I have a job to go to where I interact with people all day.

She doesn’t. She is alone from when I leave, until I come back. Nobody calls, nobody knocks on the door. Nobody.

I can only imagine what the constant loneliness, paired with the constant financial stress does to a body that is trying to heal. Nothing good will come out of it.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; you say “cancer” and everybody comes running, everybody understands that cancer is serious. All these things Sara is treating, or trying to treat (we can’t afford half the things we should be doing) are just as serious and left untreated, it will kill her. It might take time, but eventually it would kill her.

So, there’s the dilemma.  Not only is she sick, not only is she struggling to treat all these things, but on top of it she (and I) have to deal with extreme financial stress, loneliness and the ignorance of people not wanting to really, fully understand the struggle. And the more you get ignored, the louder you scream and the louder you scream, the more you are seen as a complete nut job.

And who wants to be with a nut job?

I made this drawing of the lonesome dove and I immediately felt like it was, in a sense, a drawing of my wife; her lonely journey through this life. Close to everything and yet so sealed off from ever truly getting close to anything.

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“I Just Needed A Walk, Some Fresh Air…”

 

Sams AutoSometimes when it’s late at night and I’m tired after work and we have eaten dinner and done everything that needs to be done, I go down in the basement. Usually our cat, Max, follows me and we cuddle for a little while and then, if the mood strikes, I take out one of my drawings and I just watch it. Some of these nights, the magic happens and I can feel myself transported into the drawing; I can smell every scent in the air, I hear the traffic and the cicadas play, the humidity in the air, every street sign, every store front is right there. I am walking through the picture and somehow the door is opened to so many memories that it is almost hard to take it all in; an emotional overdose, a warm feeling, everything so familiar; things separated from me in time and distance, are suddenly close again.

I am there. I am present. I am sent back in a time machine. It’s the most amazing feeling and I am grateful for those moments.

Yesterday I was walking around in this drawing, one of my favorites. I walked all the way down South Lamar until I got to Barton Springs Road, where I took a right and continued past the Peter Pan mini golf court, which we never visited once in seven years, on past that bike store, Austin Tri-Cyclist (which I visited once), past Palmer Event Center and across South First Street and Threadgill’s, (was there only once), over South Congress and down Riverside Drive, Past that Wells Fargo where we opened our first bank accounts here in the US in 2009, past Joe’s Crab Shack and then across I35 all the way up to South Lakeshore Boulevard.

I turned down on Lakeshore until I got to a gated parking lot. I slipped through the fence and went across the parking, down the stairs, passing the pool, down some more steps and to the right. The second last unit before you get to the park is where my aunt in law lived when we first moved to Austin and I have many warm and beautiful memories from dinners at her place. Usually just her, me and my wife, but every guest we had visiting from Sweden were also invited to her place for dinner and relaxation; my two best friends David and David, my other best friend Daniel, my brother and my father, my  mother in law, sister in law and husband. All came to Pat’s place on the lake.

This unit had a little patio with a view of town lake and downtown glimmering behind it and we spent so many nights there over the years. There was life there, calm and peaceful and a lot of times I would fall asleep in the rocking chair or on the sofa. All of us have since left Austin but Austin will forever have a deep hold of my heart. If things had been different, I imagine we would have been there still.

These walks of mine through my drawings are wonderful reminders of all the things I love about being here, all the positive, all the things we have done that didn’t involve sickness and poverty and struggle. It is easy to forget when life turns into one big battle. I forget all the time, but when I am walking around there in my memory, I am reminded of why we are still struggling, why we have been fighting so hard now for almost ten years.

2019 will mark ten years since we moved from Sweden. Not once have I regretted coming here. Not once have I wanted to move back, even when things look the darkest do I think of going back.

This is home now. It was Austin for seven years. I can’t say that I ever really felt at home in Sweden, although that is where I was born and lived for 34 years.

Not once.

Thinking about how much time has passed since that day when we boarded the plane in Copenhagen made me a little sad, or maybe it was sentimental – there’s a thin line between the two. Sentimentality sometimes crosses over. But today when I thought back at my walk last night, the main feeling was that I don’t want to lose this.

I don’t want to lose this life that we have fought so hard for. We deserve a real chance at happiness, but sometimes it feels like we were never really given the chance. We kind of came in fighting and we’ve been underdogs ever since. It was only a few years in before my wife had a work related accident – nothing too serious, but enough to not keep that job – and then only a year or so until she started treatment for her Lyme and all the rest of the crap she’s been treating since. For years now we have been living on one salary and every month, every week, every day is a god damn struggle. We could have done so much more if things had been different and THAT makes me sad sometimes; wondering what we could have done if we weren’t always occupied with the struggle of health and money and more and more over time, the isolation from the world around us.

I have many dreams, hopes and wishes, many places I’d like to see and much I would like to accomplish before it’s all over and I know my wife does too, but for now until God knows when, maybe forever, we are stuck in a downward spiral of debt, isolation and a daily struggle just to make it and it breaks my heart thinking this is all that came of it, that this is it…

Therefore I take my time wandering around in the memories I have captured in these drawings from Austin and later from Santa Fe where we live now. I need those walks to remind me of all the things I love and all the things I am fighting for. I still don’t ever think about leaving this country in spite of our struggle and more recently the moral decay of our “leaders”.

This is home. I belong here and I will do everything I can to remain here. Sometimes I just need to take a walk, get some fresh air to be reminded.

 

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

 

 

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