heart brain hygiene

this is a literary blog by swedish writer sofia ponten for contact please email sofia.ponten(a)gmail.com


I went for a 8km walk/run and I listened to Eileen Myles and I laughed and her Boston accent always makes me warm and I listened to the same five swedish hip hop tracks over and over and I thought about my writing and I thought holy shit I can’t do it and I went to walgreens where everybody was nice in a sad way and I didn’t buy a water purifier. 

I tried working all day after that but first I had to eat and shower and drink coffee and make more coffee and then I realized that I couldn’t write and then I wondered if I’d eaten enough and I realized I hadn’t so I walked around my room putting things in order and then made real food, no cold noodle salad leftover, and I ate it and I watched something and I read something online and my head hurt. Not physically. I laid in bed and I meditated and I stared at my todo-list and I found the jeans online that I’ve been looking for and I made tea and I tried to nap and I tried to read and I texted and I couldn’t write. I took a pill as I do when my hormones are at war with my brain and I lay down again and I wrote in my note pad:

today I am sad. that’s ok. things will be fine. I have great friends and family. I don’t have to fight too hard. things are okay. I wish I felt less sad. but it’s okay. I can ignore the flow of social information. I can comfort myself knowing I can help. I want to help. I wish I felt less like this but it’s okay. it doesn’t matter. certain words. 

and now I am here and at the end of this sentence I can’t help but feel that something will be lost cause I’ll be done writing this and my mind will wander on without any particular aim without making sure that I want to go there too, which is way on days like these I’m very happy for the artificial solution of these specific pills I take even though I know there are other ways, but for now this is okay.


I’m done. Overlooking the technical equipment a dude comes over and asks me what’s going on, he thinks it looks great. I tell him about the project. He thinks it’s amazing and I explain my role, the artists role, I introduce him to our technician and he immediately sees this other dude and launch over him, congratulating him on the equipment, asks him if he’s the artist, won’t let him say that he’s not, and starts asking him if he’s into Nietzsche and Derrida.

Later I’m doing the same, another dude comes over to charge his iphone using my computer. We talk. Suddenly he tells me I’m a lovely lady “but I have a girlfriend”. 

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite Pisces in the entire world. As to counterbalance last night. A spirit animal of mine. L shows pictures of herself as 20, hanging out with Snoop Dog. I have a strong feeling that I’m done. I tell the guy at the bodega that I like their cat. He’s very surprised. “You like black cats?” Yeah, I grew up with them. I grew up with black cats and me and all of my friends are black cats sneaking around corners, watching out for each other, keeping karma in check. Your cat has a nice white tip at the very end of his tail. He doesn’t understand me. “Aoouh, see you tomorrow”. Yes, see you tomorrow. I walk out and into the freezing brooklyn night and walk home dressed in all black except for my white kicks at the very end of my tail. See you tomorrow. 


I got to tell you. It’s getting hot. Really hot. We walk in rows and try not to look over our shoulders. The loud 16hundreds. The quiet 60s. The fightings in the 6th. I cross Washington avenue and on my left I can see parts of Manhattan and New York is not a capital. I stared at my brother when he told me it wasn’t, I was maybe 6 years old. Or it was 1996. My two deadlines and his birthday are all march 6. And the bills that I collect quietly in the daytime, when no one is around, are all in the six. They’re $666, $66.06 or $16.03. I remember E’s face when she told me she realized she could read Hemingway on her own even though her ex was the one who quoted him on a daily basis. We all had that breakthrough moment were we realize someone else’s interests aren’t theirs to own.

I bring handmade baked goods to my new home and laugh in the sun with Adi not far from my old. If that can happen today, then most things can happen tomorrow. He’s heading way south for way too long, but I will deal. As with that, as with anything else. Creating triangles out of words. Why not. 3 times 2.


My hair curl up behind my ear as we talk. “Talk”. It follows an arch. An arch I can’t even explain. It goes from here, to space, back and over the country. It’s not him. It’s us. It’s the talk. It’s the strength we can build up without even needing a title. It’s just there. The only true organic garden where I can pick whatever fruit I’d like. It’s worth remembering. It’s worth where east river meets the bank of Brooklyn and the sun rises to see the island - it was never about that. It was never about the scene. But we were the only ones there. At that moment, as right now. Not together, not even close, but unbelievably true. 


We want to see each other and I can’t help but wondering. Just as I decided I’m done. Cause I am. I’m done. It’s afternoon. Sun is setting. It’s saturday. It’s the most perfect time for writing there could ever be. Surrounded by force. Instead of resting my head on a pillow I keep it resting on my shoulders, straight up, eyes locked. We’re ready to see each other. I’m wondering if I can ask for the one thing I want, or if that would be taking it too far. I think I know how to stay in control. Stay. Stay in control. Just as long as you can stay for a while. 


I’ve been walking through a freezing soho by day and ended up in the warmth of bed-stuy by night. The momentary routine of seven days, approximately how long any of my routines have lasted these last months. New York comes with many possibilities. It also comes with lack of patience. It comes with a $7 soup for lunch, and a $5 coffee to chase the half a bottle of red wine headache away, down the subway tunnels, back home where it belongs. 

I love words but I have no more of them to share now. Happy friday. 


M came by. We talked about comedy, about about-ness, about fidelity. Snow is falling, I’m back to doubting. Lots of jazz, lots of coffee, lots of sitting by this teak table trying to recollect, reassemble. 

F and I shared a meal and talked about the transforming. We looked into who we are when we’re here. Piles of snow on the frames now. I walked a mile in the falling snow and it felt like Sweden, and it didn’t. I take a look at the ups delivery guy’s favorite house on Nostrand avenue. It is really nice. I see why it’s his favorite. 


My intuition is getting pretty strong. I could tell weeks ago. And so I’m glad things are progressing. To be moving on pressing forward. Jo and I walked through the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit and felt the same way. I slumped over the café table and she made me feel ok about it. Ovaries before brovaries became my new years resolution. We hugged goodbye and I walked new streets until I was back where things started four years ago. Brooklyn is already nostalgia.

In Bushwick things were as always. Hipsters finding themselves, ATM’s with 10 dollar bills. I left before someone read my future in tarot. I haven’t been to Manhattan yet, only Manhattan Avenue. That street isn’t new, it felt particularly visited yesterday. But I think I know how I can revisit it without making it the same. When I got in the cab back “home” I was too tired to realize what was crystal clear when the call to prayer started at 6am this morning. I’ve been here before. I now the way out. 


Addi makes me brunch with smoked trout from the farmers market and makes fun of me waiting. I take a nap on his couch and later walk through Greenpoint, again. I read about swedish segregation, I talk to my swedish friend about our privileges, and on a more personal level we down a bottle of red and cry and redefine, revalue, remember that life is never set. Different kinds of struggle surrounds us tonight. I make killer coffee in the morning. It takes a muscle.


I don’t need drinking or drugs; jet lag, too much coffee and too much writing makes me cancel on my friends on friday nights. I’m not too tough.

Thousands of people are gathering on the citizens square in Stockholm to protest a rape case where the victim clearly said no, the perpetrator heard it, recognized it and told the court he did so, but was still freed. I wish I was there. Instead I’m “reading” Adorno in hope my mind will soon wake up over my third cup of coffee since 5.30am.


I was in bed contemplating what letters to write and what letters not to write but then I decided to get up. No point in wasting time in this place I call home right now. I’m giving up on writing the letters now. Maybe one day they will write themselves. 

And I really don’t want to smoke. I’ve just been reading too much, listening to too much jazz. Preparing myself to break up.


It’s been a holiday and flight over continents filled of revelations and visits from the past. Mostly these visits from the past exposed just how important it is to take care of other people. Sitting across from me at some table in a bar, lunch joint, café, where memories and future, mixing together into one. 

I will remember most clearly her face when she told me his name and how he changed forever, and not at all. I will remember most clearly how I realized these things, the violence in our past, is fleeting and that memory is never one thing. I remembered sitting in various places, on trains or on park benches, after being broken up with and thinking “at least I had that”. In retrospect I had so many other, more important things. 

Not everything is constantly moving. Some things are just more and more cemented with time - or maybe less and less. Maybe some thoughts are just more and more uplifted into my general air and make me breath and think more clearly.

All I want to do now is to take care of people around me in the best way I ever can. I owe that to her, and to the future her.


Back in Brooklyn. Flight went well. Contemplating where I’m gonna live. I’m staying in an amazing apartment for 10 days. In the meanwhile I’m looking at other places. I wish I smoked cause it would look good in this scenario of apartment looking. I’ve been running away from things for some time now but I’m hoping to find my way back. It’s hard trying to put everything together, making it coherent. 

My life is aways confusing to others. Their lives are always confusing to me. How do they make it work, boyfriends and jobs, getting things done. I get things done but I don’t know how. I tend to have many jobs at once. I’m really sick off talking about astrology.

This will probably be more of a diary now. To get me back to writing. You don’t have to read it. I just need to write it. 


This one thing over and over again. This one movement of the eye. When you’ve been strolling around Greenpoint for hours and you start thinking that the something is a something. That the street you walk on is for real, that there is, after all, a sort of purpose in you being there. Only to come home to the same apartment discovering that nothing really changed more than you turning the lights on.

Or off. I turn them off and close my eyes, make strategies in my head to deal with everything I can’t deal with. In the daylight too many things are blocking my view for me to realize what, exactly, is going on. I close my eyes and I need to be paid more and but what do I really want, come on, just think about that thing you really want. A cold wind makes it all the way from east river and my body is complaining, the fan turns on, the silence is muted. It’s late, but it’s not late enough. It’s never late enough. 

As the heels meet the concrete that is Pulaski bridge the mind wonders what is bearable. What is sustainable. How to sustain the brain to make new, brand new, brave assumptions, how to sustain the heart to not sink into the depths of the stomach. Empire State Building looks so skinny tonight. So does Chrysler. Is it the fog, or maybe my head just want them to always strike me as magical, impossible giants? Is the magic finally over? Is it time to move on. 

The heels are standing still in their concrete tracks, together with many other hopeful marks, heels, as I realize I’ve stopped. I contemplate if standing still can be moving forward. This night, I won’t find out. There’s a morning waiting on the other side of the bridge. 


The hostess clinks a glass and voices are lowered. I hear “Happy” in my head but I know this won’t last for long. We’re all to give thanks, although plates are emptied, half of us had half too much to drink. I give thanks for New York, someone give thanks for second homes, for friends, for friends and lovers. That’s when the one dude give thanks for the “jamaican” on the corner, cuz he always says “all right, all right”. And so I get brought down.

Everyone is thrilled, cause this is such a great thanks, it symbolizes so much, there are high fives and big smiles, and the thanks elaborates into a big “happy for our community on this street”-thanks. The gentrified friendliness and appreciation of the one ruin, the one exotic token: the jamaican dude, the genuine reminiscence, the point that proves that these people are now, really, living the dream of being for real.

I’m especially sensitive and feel particularly lonely on my way home. The guy at the bodega says “goodnight beauty” and in my drunkenness from too much insecurity I feel like I need a new world to make things right. I later remember one of the guys mentioning fat people as unpleasant for the eyes and the attractiveness-level of the party as highly appreciated. 

I want to change my body. My outfit. My mood. My hair. Grand street is basically empty except for scattered showers of loners and drinkers and I take long, slow steps home. I wish I could turn “goodnight beauty” into any form of appreciation for what I’m really thankful for. That by using my head to thoroughly think too much I keep untying the empathic knots of bitter aftertaste. And that I’m not afraid to do so.