Sunday, April 19, 2009

the matrix

Annica, caught in the matrix. Västra Hamnen, Malmö, Sweden. (2009).

Before she graduated, found a real job, and moved away to Stockholm, my friend Nina Louise and I would talk at great lengths about such diverse topics as food, fun, friends, family, the future ... and a whole multitude of other things that didn't start with the letter "F". An analytical type, Nina Louise would systematically apply a matrix to aid in the comprehension of different issues, as if all of life's questions could be categorized in, and mapped on, an endless grid of squares and quadrants. Fittingly, she called it ... and get ready for this ... "the matrix." See, sometimes things really are as they seem!

Anyway, I guess you kind of had to be there to fully appreciate the breathtaking power of Nina Louise's matrix, but believe me when I say that it was relevant to almost everything under the sun. Food, fun, friends, family, the future, a whole multitude of other things that didn't start with the letter "F" ... you name it. We applied the matrix and analyzed it. Bad date? Well, clearly that person never had lower-right quadrant, B2 potential anyway. You've eaten, feel full, yet still avail an extra stomach for the delights of dessert? Well, that's textbook, back-of-the-matrix, X14. Don't fight it, just accept it.

See how the matrix worked? Sometimes it made sense. Other times it didn't. But always, the matrix was fun.

For literally three weeks now, I've awoken every morning to springtime sun, wondering exactly how, in such a short time, I'm supposed to give up all of this. Counting on fingers and toes, it's been 20 months since starfish and waffles headquarters moved to Europe. Looking back at the archives, I think it's safe to say that most things have broken better than I could've ever had reason to expect - and maybe especially so in this jinxless second year where somehow, the equation has managed to output a whole greater than the sum of seemingly incongruous parts.

No, Sweden hasn't been perfect. But I appreciate it for what it is. Some maintain that life here as a student has been, well, like living in a matrix - fun, carefree youth suspended in a sort of animated adulthood - and that, this, not being real life, could never last.

Maybe the part about it not lasting is true, but I dispute that this hasn't been - and isn't - real life. The places I've seen are real. The people here are real. This springtime - is real.

Barring the unforeseen completion of a Hail Mary pass, it won't be long before I get back to the North American dream (hubris?) of working long hours in an office, a characterless house in the suburbs, no time to spend with the wife and 2.1 screaming kids, another gas-guzzling SUV in my garage, shopping in a shopping mall as cultural activity, and meaningful travel to such inspired locations as Las Vegas and Mayan Riviera Mexico.

I could go on, but the editor will stop me right here, so as to not get me accused of throwing a large percentage of our valued readership (we love you!) under a bus. So. Let me just say this about what lies in store: I can't hardly wait.

Square peg, round hole. We'll see if this gets interesting.

The colours of Swedish spring. Lund, Sweden. (2009).


  1. Well, life in Lund might not always be fun, carefree and animated, but it is for sure a world of its own, all trapped in a huge bubble... So when are you leaving the bubble Felix? I'll be back the 23 of may, might have time to see you in the early swedish summer! (And as always I love the pictures of yours!) Take care! //Jonna

  2. Hi Jonna, nothing's decided yet, but my visa runs out on 14 July, so looks like I'll have to leave the comfort of the bubble before then :(

    On the bright side, that should leave plenty of for us to hang out. Yay!

  3. Or you can start to live as an illegal immigrant in our neutral country, that would probably also take you a bit outside the bubble!//J

  4. Yes, living as an illegal immigrant here has crossed my mind :)

    Other options include marrying a Swedish girl, marrying a Norwegian girl, moving in with a Danish girl, spending 100 euros and buying all of Iceland, separating with French Canada and joining the EU, and moving to Ven and living out the rest of my days as a pirate (and, just maybe, dressing like an 18th century pirate while I attack ships sailing up and down the Öresund :)

    Hmmm, I'm going to have to start taking a closer look at some of these options ...

  5. I think you should! And I even think some of the options could be combined making it all even more interesting! I specially like the pirate-idea, you should defenately include that in the combination=)(but you have to find your self a suiting pirate-name though...) /J

  6. Haha, go for it all - I like how you think, Jonna :)

    Thinking of a pirate name is difficult, though. I suppose it should include the word Captain or Longjohn or something. Hmmm, I guess I'll also need to buy a new eye-patch and, maybe, a parrot. I don't think I can be taken seriously as a pirate without an eye-patch or a parrot.

    What are your plans after you graduate? Perhaps you could join my gang of pirates. We offer a workplace full of adventure, good pay, and competitive benefits :)

  7. "as if all of life's questions could be categorized in, and mapped on, an endless grid of squares and quadrants". You shred my world view: are you implicity saying that they can't? :) And instead of wondering how you are supposed to give up all of this - don't give it up. I vote for the pirate track. Stay! Noone in Sweden works long hours in an office and live in a characterless house in the suburbs with 2.1 children. No. We work long hours in an office and live in a characterless house in the suburbs with 1.9 children. Divorced.

  8. Nina Louise! Haha, hilarious. Come on, you know full well that I truly believe that 99.9% of everything can be plotted on the matrix! :) We should chat sometime soon.