AND SO I WAKE IN THE MORNING AND I STEP OUTSIDE
My daughter just commented on the fact that the very nice, expensive, wide (genuine) leather belt that she appropriated from me is a "really good child-beater belt".
For the record, she has never been beaten with a belt or anything else. Tempting. But no.
So many things that I mean to write about, to remember to write about, to record for your amusement and for posterity*, and yet, the time goes and there is another huge hole in the calendar of my journal. I have a package to mail. I have a letter to respond to. I have pants to get hemmed. I have floors to mop. Blog posts, inevitably, seem to get shoved to the back of the to-do list.
Plus, I hate mopping.
Besides, not much has really changed since my last post: arm/shoulder still hurting, work still insanely busy, weather still sucky, money-panicking still actual.
Martin and I have been watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is by turns hilarious and eye-poppingly inappropriate. It's like a bunch of improv artists took the cardinal rule of improv (say yes, then roll with it) and dialed it up to 100.
I woke at 4 am with a shattering headache in the middle of the week (a quite common occurrence), got up, took meds, drank water, and went back to bed, where I lay with my arm & shoulder aching, trying not to toss and turn, and my mind racing into a full blown anxiety attack about money. We did some recalculations and realized that our estimate on college expenses was off by rather a significant amount, and it's really closer to $54,000 per year, NOT INCLUDING spending money and daily necessities, that Martin will need. His scholarship from the school is a minor dent in that. Thankfully, we received the answer from CSN, the Swedish agency that deals with student financial aid yesterday and it's relieved my mind a great deal. His costs will be mostly, if not entirely covered. Most of it is loans, which comes to a shocking amount, but some of it is subsidies from the Swedish government that don't have to be paid back. We are still waiting to hear from the FAFSA (US government financial aid) and I hope some of that will be grants/subsidies as well...the more the better, please!
I'm still a bit in denial about the fact that he'll be leaving so soon. He is planning to sign up for a summer program for international students that gives credits, and it starts July 9, which is much earlier than I had been mentally preparing myself for him to be gone. And earlier than we were expecting to have to figure out plane tickets to the US again. EEK. Karin wants a trip to the States for her 18th birthday, but has to be home by the end of July for the Emmaboda music festival she has tickets for.
The entire family, all four of us, are going to see La La Land together tonight. Unheard of! Most of the time, Martin and Karin have seen everything worth seeing before we get around to realizing it's in the theaters, and it's rare that there are films that half of us, much less ALL of us want to see. Serendipitous!
I have been trying to wean myself off the insanity happening in the US government, but still find myself checking CNN and various other news sources each day to keep up on what is happening. There is a women's group here working on ways to fight back but I find myself keeping my distance, and am honestly not sure why. It all makes me so incredibly sad. How on earth we could swing so far so fast to this extreme is mind-boggling.
Anyway, the temperatures are rising, the amount of sunshine is increasing, and there are good things to look forward to. What more can I ask for?
*Which I wrote first as prosperity and then spent an inordinate amount of time staring at, knowing it was wrong, but unable to come up with the correct word.
UGH YAY AND OMG ALL AT ONCE
So much for not having winter. It snowed for 3 days straight but it was so cold that it was just dry and powdery. It glistens like diamond dust in the streetlights and blows all over the place. Tonight the moon was huge and round and hanging white in a pale blue evening sky. When I drove home I passed a huge snowy field covered in resting geese, their bodies black and plump against the whiteness. It's a photo opportunity I've missed twice: too cold to stop and I'm pretty sure I'd scare the geese if I started walking towards them, even slowly, with my phone extended. Ah well.
I haven't written in ages because I've been really having issues with my shoulder and sitting down to work at the computer makes it flare up painfully almost immediately. Work has been hell lately, what with the amount of work and having chronic pain every day. I'm living on Advil and tiger balm, with the occasional massage thrown in for good measure.
In much more exciting news: Martin got in to his first choice university! YAY! I am very proud of him, but OMG that means he is moving to America THIS SUMMER.
That is, if we can figure out how he is going to afford it. I went, within the space of 12 hours, from being really excited and happy for him, to completely freaked out and panicking, and that is not even factoring in the fact that my baby is going to move halfway around the world. I know, I know, I did it to my mom and now it's come back to bite us in the ass. Dammit.
It's the College for Creative Studies and it's smack in the middle of downtown Detroit (which is apparently such a hip, up-and-coming place to be that it was listed a top place to visit last year. Okaaaay. It's a least a little comforting to know it's not the derelict horror-city of yore that will eat him alive. It's also comforting to know that my mom is only an hour away and that my cousin and her kids are close, as well as several friends.
He received a scholarship from the school that will cover about a quarter of the cost for a year's tuition, but that still leaves us to figure out where we're going to find nearly $30,000 a year. He's applied for financial aid in the US and CSN here in Sweden but we haven't gotten the decision on either one yet. He is also still waiting to hear from the two other universities (both also in Michigan) that he's applied to, but this one is really the one he wants to go to. He's had no luck finding scholarships and many of them have already passed their deadlines. I warned him to get started on that last fall, but he didn't listen and now he's going to literally pay the price. UGH.
There is a summer program for international students that runs from July 9-29 and the official move-in date if he doesn't do that (which he probably will) is August 27. Classes start September 5. So, as soon as we figure out all the monetary logistics and get deposits taken care of, our next step will be also figuring out how to pay to get him there. *freaked out look*
I can't believe that I'm going to be the mother of a college student, for real. EEK.
The weekends go too fast. The weeks go too fast, as do the years. I feel as if I'll wake up tomorrow and I'll be 80, looking about me with shock and confusion.
I don't really have anything to write about...or rather, I do, too much, but I don't want to put it here. Much of it is outside of my control and concerns my fears, my shock and my outrage about what is happening in the US. I sincerely do not understand how the people who voted Trump into office can not understand why so many people feel outrage and shock. I sincerely do not understand how the people who work with him can live with themselves. And the Republican politicians who are standing by and doing nothing, how can they claim to be serving the people? It must truly be all about power and self-interest and a complete lack of regard for any other opinions than their own. If there is this much fear and anger and resentment after only 1 week, where will this end?
GAH. So much for not putting it here. I think I need to take a page from my friend Sheryl's book and shut down my Facebook, my social media interaction, and stay away from the news for awhile. Bets on whether I could actually do that will be taken by my bookie: Mister HAHAHAHACRIES.
It's been a quiet weekend. We had Anders' mom and his sister and husband over for dinner last night. Karin was supposed to work today but found out she hadn't registered for a shift like she thought she had so she studied with a friend instead. Martin has 3 of 4 college applications finalized (yay!) and has asked for letters of recommendations from two of his teachers. One of the colleges told him he should hear within 1-2 weeks about his acceptance status. I don't know if that means snail mail, in which case it could actually take longer. Then we have to figure out financial aid as well. And we're talking about THIS FALL. That is not really all that far away. It's already February this week, for crying out loud.
I am struggling with several things at the moment and really would like to feel as if I have something good to help me get motivated. Sunshine, an end to so much stress at work, my shoulder to stop hurting, ...any of those would be a start. I am well aware, these are all my own first world problems and all I need is my own kick in the butt.
A friend posted info about the fact that here in southern Sweden, we have had no winter. According to Swedish meteorologists, we are still in autumn and if we make it to spring without going below 0 for 5 days in a row, we'll end up going straight from fall to spring with no winter at all. It's happened several times in Skåne, this isn't the first time by far. But climate change isn't real, so what's to worry about? GAH. Not that I won't be happy to see spring, but still. GAH!
Something good about today, to start with: watching Moana with Martin, cleaning out some clothes and books, starting what promises to be a good book (The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden)
WRITING THRU THE GRUMP
I'm in a bit of a grump space right now, and I don't like posting when I'm feeling this way. Work is really stressful, I'm having major issues with my shoulder (the OTHER one, this time, GAH), I'm finding it very difficult to be a parent right now, and I can't stop checking the news for the latest political horrors being perpetrated in the US. It's like watching a train wreck only all the potential victims are us.
I got an email the other day that our choir start date has been pushed back at least 2 weeks because they haven't succeeded in finding replacement choir leaders for us yet. Plus, it's that kind of cold, raw, wet weather that is just depressing, and it's not even February yet. *suck*
Sitting at the computer aggravates my shoulder to no end, and guess what I do all day long? I had a massage today and it felt better for about 10 minutes. Now it hurts as much as it did before.
I'm once again the VP Membership for the AWC. The woman who was doing it, who took over for me a year and a half ago, couldn't manage the job to the extent it requires, and apparently hadn't been managing for a very long time, despite offers of help and back up from me and others on the board. I think she probably felt I was a control freak, but under her watch we dropped to below 100 members down from the over 200 there were when I left that position. Some of the people who had pending registrations when she officially quit had been waiting since September and had never even been contacted. :( Three of them have now been called, talked to and activated and the other 2 have been emailed and responded to. And 2 former members rejoined at the meeting last night, so we're on our way back up.
Since I took over VP Membership, I proposed that one of the women who has been co-secretary take over Editor for me, and she agreed, so that worked out well. It would be nice for this to be a good AWC year considering it's the 20th anniversary of the club's founding this year, and it's already had a rocky start, since with membership so low, we haven't had our usual income and that has meant several cost-cutting measures like charging for some activities that have been free for several years, canceling meetings to save on hotel conference room costs, removing the raffle gift from the meetings we DO have, and stopping the free sandwiches we were providing as well (free to the attendees, not the club).
On Saturday, I sang, with 5 other women from my department at work, in a huge gospel fest at the new concert hall in Malmö. We were part of 1100-member choir, which was pretty impressive. We FILLED the hall. In fact, we were more people singing than there were in the audience. It was a very long, intense day. I left the house at 7:30 a.m., picked up my colleague Anette and we got to Malmö at 8 a.m....early but we weren't sure of where to park and all so we figured it was better than being late.
We sang ALL day, practicing the songs we had been learning on our own, plus a few brand new ones that we learned during the course of the day. There were several directors, some who only directed one song, and three guest artists, including 2 from America: Dr. Carl Hall, a gospel singer and director from Atlanta and Aaron Marcellus who was in American Idol and Stomp. The other one was Leila Adéle, a Swedish singer who has been in Melodifestivalen and Idol.
Of the 9 songs I memorized by listening to them on CD in the car for the last 2 months, we sang 5, plus the 2 new ones I mentioned, plus back-up on the solo songs that the guest artists did. We performed in 2 concerts in the evening, the first at 6 p.m. where our half of the choir was up in the balconies and the second at 8 p.m. where we were on the stage. You can see photos and videos here
Anders and the kids came to the second show, the one where I was actually on the state but they couldn't see much of me as I was almost in the center, in the second row, and was hidden from their view by the directors every time. Karin sang along with all the songs, and said afterward, "Why didn't you let me join in, too?" When I laughed and said I didn't think she would have been interested, she exclaimed, "Well, I want to do it next time!" Hahaa! I don't care that much for gospel, to be honest...I felt sort of dragged into it by my colleagues, but it WAS fun, and we sang other songs that weren't really gospel, too, so all in all, I think I'd do it again.
I was bummed, however, that all the women's marches were the same day as the gospel fest, which meant I couldn't join in. Several of my friends went to Copenhagen for the march there, and I would have loved to have participated. I've really enjoyed seeing all the pictures and videos from the marches all around the world, and all the witty signs everyone had. But I hope that all of these people who are suddenly finding their voice really understand that just marching is NOT enough. Things to look forward to
: Spring, Pie Night, the end of Kick Off season at work
Song running through my head today, all day:
It's the End of the World as We Know it (and I Feel Fine)
THREE THINGS, PRIDE VERSION
Fashion items I once wore proudly and for far too long:
bat-wing sleeves, clogs, scrunchies
Words/phrases I am proud of knowing the difference between
(and which I am not afraid of judging you for if you use them incorrectly):
hilarious vs. hysterical (if something is really funny, it's hilarious; hysterical means "marked by extreme, uncontrollable emotion")
jealous vs. envious (if you have something and are afraid of losing it, you are jealous; if you don't have something and want it, you are envious)
bored BY or bored WITH vs. bored OF (just stop it)
People I rarely see in person who I am nonetheless proud to call friend:
Elizabeth Duvivier, Rebecca Peterson, Chuck Sigars
Things I will never be proud of:
My tendency to stay silent sometimes, that I so rarely write letters nowadays, my inability to restrain myself from eating cookies
Justifiably proud of having learned:
speed touch-typing, HTML coding, Swedish
Events I'm proud to say I participated in:
the founding of the AWC Malmö, the birth of my children (not that I had much choice, haha!), my soda-free year
People that help me remember I can still be proud to call myself American despite the inauguration this week:
Obama (TWICE), Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Warren
Things I'm secretly proud of keeping organized:
the kids' Lego, my extended family's contact list & family tree, my inbox
Songs I am not proud of knowing all the lyrics to:*
Always and Forever, Three Times a Lady, Running Bear, plus three more because HAHAHAHA: Have You Never Been Mellow, I Write the Songs, Billy Don't Be a Hero
*Now I want to go make a new Spotify list of all the awesome songs of my youth
Last week, I passed a major anniversary. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't even my wedding anniversary. It was the anniversary of the day I moved to Sweden...TWENTY YEARS AGO. I was planning to write a post that day (Wednesday) but work was crazy and I clean forgot when I came home, even though I wasn't doing anything special that evening. So it went by unmarked.
Twenty years ago. When I passed my 10-year anniversary of living in Sweden, I wrote a post about it
, because of course I did. I wrote a similar post
when I reached my 7-year anniversary, too. Every year, nearly, I have at least mentioned the fact of my moving-to-Sweden date on or near January 11.
But now, I can officially say that I have lived HALF MY LIFE overseas. Isn't that weird? Half my life away from the country of my birth. When I wrote the post 10 years ago, I had still not applied for Swedish citizenship. That's been rectified...I'm a dual citizen now, since several years back, though I give more and more thought to becoming a single-country citizen again for every article I read about Trump and his cabinet. Ironically, it would cost me MORE to renounce my US citizenship than it did to apply for Swedish.
Just for the record, I love it here. Of course, there are things about living in Sweden that are not perfect, but that's true of every place I've lived. I can't imagine moving back to the US, what would be the point? The only reason I would want to, in any case, is to be closer to my mom and sister, but instead I think maybe I should be campaigning to get them over here!
Both my children want and plan to move to the US...Martin is in the middle of college applications for next fall, and Karin is already chomping at the bit to get there as well. I think both of them consider the US as the place to be because every time we go there, it's FUN. We go for vacation, we shop, we eat out, we have parties and go places and do things. It's not boring like every day life home in our tiny village far away from anything cool or trendy or happening. It's not work and bills and stress.
I have very mixed feelings about this, of course. I've always encouraged my children to think about going to school in the US, or living there, but I really, really hope they will come back. And I worry even more right now, in the current political and cultural climate that has changed so much in recent months.
And it's not that I don't miss things about America, I do. I just think we have such GOOD lives here. I've never lived so long in one place, ever, and now we've been in this ONE house for what sometimes feels like forever, and I still love it just as much as the day we moved in. I dread leaving this house some day, which is weird considering that I've loved moving around my whole life and loved moving to new places.
Even though I am a Swedish citizen, I am very much NOT Swedish. I never will be, no matter how long I live here, or how well I speak Swedish. I will always be a child of America but Sweden has wormed its way into my heart, and I don't think it will be easily dislodged, no matter what happens. It would be fun to live somewhere else for awhile, but I think I've found my forever home.
WHERE AND WHY AND WHO
I've been very much enjoying the return of several "old" friends to Livejournal lately, as I just mentioned to one of them in a comment. She talked about returning to online journaling and why, and her thoughts about Facebook prompted me to think about how I feel about social media in general and Facebook specifically.
I suspect many people feel the same way as I do: Facebook is not the place to share anything substantial. It was fun and trendy and rather like walking into a party where all the people you haven't seen in awhile were gathering, in the beginning, but now? It drives me a little crazy.
Of the 676 Facebook friends (!) I currently have, I probably see 20 or so. I have hidden hundreds of people because they post nothing but memes and links and stuff I'm completely uninterested in. At least a couple hundred of them, if not more, never post anything at all. Some of them, like my son, for example, only use Facebook as a photo album on occasion. I hide ads. I hide memories. I hide my friend's memories. I hide game suggestions and page suggestions. I hide political arguments and mean-spirited posts. I hide the stupid Facebook anniversary notices (You've been friends with so-and-so for 3 years!). I tell Facebook constantly to STOP SHOWING ME posts from this page and that page, and that page too while you're at it, OMG Facebook, STOP SHOWING ME ALL THE CRAP. And yet, it never ever ends.
My Facebook friends include people I went to junior high with in the Netherlands, people I went to high school with in Germany, people I went to college with in Michigan. They include people I knew in Chicago, people I have previously worked with or current colleagues, former boyfriends, best friends, family members and distant relatives. They include people who sing in my choir, neighbors, teachers or parents of kids my children went to school with or the ACTUAL kids my children went to school with. Many of them are former or current AWC members. Some of them are people I met right here on Livejournal or are bloggers I have read for a long time.
Some of them are people I see all the time but most of them are people I never see, who live far away, and Facebook is excellent for keeping in touch with them as much or as little as desired, at least on a superficial level. It's a great way to message people, to put up events, to share information, to remember birthdays, and much much more. But it doesn't fulfill the need I have to write about what is really going on in my life. It isn't the place where I want to share the kinds of things I share here. I don't write there for posterity, the way I do here.
And it's not the place to make NEW friends, the way blogging and online journaling are, or to really find out what's going on with someone. What they think or feel, what they genuinely care enough about to WRITE about.
I'm eternally glad that I started this journal so many years ago, and that I keep at it, despite writing slumps and hiatuses and the desertion online of so many, many bloggers and good writers. I hope even more of them start trickling back and stay to enjoy the real intimacy and camaraderie that can be found here. I'm grateful for ALL my friends, but the ones I've found through this platform are definitely keepers.
WAY OF LIFE
Sometimes I get frustrated at my writing here, especially as so often it seems to be only a litany of what I am doing and what I have done. It's not the creative journaling that I envisioned from the beginning and which I managed to do for some years (on and off, obviously). I sometimes feel creatively stifled, but I know that I'm the only one that is judging. And, of course, the one doing the stifling, if that is really what it should be called. It's like writer's block of the creative kind. I can still write but only lists, plans, calendar fillings, dates, events, and then, afterward, what happened, what I did, what I thought, or what I experienced.
It's not that it's boring, exactly, it's just that I expect more of myself. Once upon a time, I felt like I had energy and time to be creative in so many ways, at the same time. I drew, I painted, I sang, I read, I crafted, I wrote. Now, I often seem to have only the inclination to tackle one of those areas at a time. It's like all my multi-tasking talents have gone into work (where, granted, I am also creative) or projects.
Did you know that once upon a time I did embroidery? Now, I no longer remember any of the stitches and couldn't do a French knot if you paid me. There's a large framed piece (seashells) that I did, which I haven't hung up in years.
Did you know that once upon a time I did calligraphy? I still have bottles of ink and scores of pens and nibs and several posters of beautifully lettered poetry that are shut up in old art portfolios in the closet.
Did you know that once upon a time I did quilling
? I think the last piece I did was Anders' niece's name in pinks and yellows for a sign for her door for a birthday when she was quite small. She's an adult now, living in her own apartment, and I'm pretty sure that sign is long gone. I still have packs of paper and the quilling tools in my craft collection.
I used to write poetry. It's been years. I used to work on a collage book. It's been years. At one point (in high school, but still) I even tried macramé, though that was short-lived. :D I've always been creative, in some way, and I still am, but I don't seem to find the time or motivation these days to indulge any of the time-consuming, non-digital art forms that I used to.
Nowadays, I am most creative with my photography, which I share mostly on Instagram
. It's "only" iPhone and iPad photos, though, nothing sophisticated. I love taking photos of flowers, of nature, of my kids.
I am creative at work, where I design marketing materials and pour my heart into Powerpoints. That's kind of sad, since it's nothing that lasts and nothing that's ultimately satisfying as an artist, but I'm proud of the work I do there, and I love my job, so there's that.
And, I guess, even though it's not consistent, I am creative here. I love writing and I continue to journal here, even though my audience has withered and my frequency has diminished; blogging has changed drastically since the glory years when I enthusiastically joined in and spent hours reading about other people's lives, commenting on their posts, making online friends far and wide and writing about my life and my thoughts. Time changes everything, so I supposed it's only natural that the ways I am creative now are different from the ways I was creative years ago.
Sometimes I think I'll have more time again to be creative in the traditional ways once I retire. After all, I'll have more time to fill, right? Either way, there will always be creativity in my life, whether I'm reading books, looking at paintings, illustration, crafts and photography or making my own, writing this journal or finding my way back to other art forms that I once had time for.
How hard do you sneeze? I once worked with a woman who sneezed like a machine-gun mouse...a sort of mini rapid-fire pew pew pew
, if you will. When I sneeze, it's like all my internal organs and everything inside my head are trying to come out, explosion-style. And I sneeze a lot. Multiple times every day. I start the day with a sneeze, in fact, if I don't manage to blow my nose minutes after I am awake and/or vertical. I think my sneezes have gotten more violent over the years...they actually scare me sometimes. Thanks, allergies.
My nose is super-sensitive, in general. Changes in temperature make me sneeze, sunshine makes me sneeze
, dust makes me sneeze, some flowers and plants make me sneeze, and I'm pretty sure my bed is trying to kill me. That, combined with the amount of times I am forced to blow my nose each day, often makes me want to rip my head off. I'm pretty sure I'm funding the Corvette that the CEO of Kleenex is driving*. Kleenex is #100 on Forbes' list of the the World's Most Valuable Brands, in case you were wondering.
I have considered trying to count how many times I blow my nose during an average day, but I always give up after the first box of tissues. At work, when I go down for breakfast, I always grab a stash of napkins to keep at my desk for the day. It's ridiculous. And yes, I've been tested and no, I don't have any of the triggers around (except in spring), I'm not even reacting to anything, I'm just in a reactive state 365/24/7. People ask me constantly if I have a cold because I am always stuffed up, but no. It's literally just my usual state of being. The skin of my nose is so inured to blowing that I can use paper towels with no problem. I keep boxes of tissues all over the house, so they are always in quick reach. I feel obligated to tell friends and co-workers that they don't have bless me after each sneeze. I am sufficiently blessed by now.
I've tried several different procedures, and medicines and nothing really works for long. I don't want to take pills or sprays every day, so I use them sporadically. I've considered the treatment that is fairly new, where you get shots to permanently end the condition, but it's not any one thing that they could treat for. It's just my entire system in revolt. If I had developed asthma as one of the symptoms I suppose I'd be much more ready to get it taken care of, but it's just...sneezing. And an over-producing mucus factory in my sinuses. URGH.
This wasn't at all what I was going to write about, and now it's gone clean out of my head...like everything else. Haaaa.**
We had a half-day today and tomorrow is a holiday, so yay! long weekend! We have no plans to boot, so I am hoping to get some stuff done around the house, including book purging for the upcoming media sale, and closet-cleaning, which is long-overdue. I'm already done with May in my 2016 blog book, and fully expect to be done with it and ready to print by the end of the weekend. Maybe I'll go see a movie or something. *Google knows everything...EVERYTHING.
**Number of times I've stopped writing this post to go blow my nose: 3
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
Layout thanks to dandelion
Findus the cat as used in my user icon and header is the creation of