TIME DOESN'T CHANGE THINGS, YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF*
I don't have to be anything here. I don't have to be myself, behave, be all that I can be. I can just write and then decide whether or not I care whether anyone reads my words or cares. If no one reads a word in a book, does that fallen tree in the forest that was cut and planed and milled into paper still make a sound?
Some days the effort of writing is beyond me. In the grand scheme of my writing life, it's more like most days. So, those days when I actually DO write, I feel the pressure to make it worth something more than just a grocery list, a to-do list, a mental checklist of what I am currently doing, thinking, wanting, having, being. I don't have to make it all about me, though mostly I do; everyone does. We are the center of the universe, after all, each and every one of us.
So much of our lives is interior. So much of what we think and feel goes unsaid, never gets out, never sees the the light of day or reason. Every thought unspoken, every word unwritten, every song unsung: just another brick in the wall of our interior selves. And too often, what does get out does not reflect our best selves. When the room is filled with negative energy, what do you do? Join in? Speak your mind? Sit back and let others vent? It's hard, sometimes, too often in fact, to look for the positive when there is so much out there to get upset about. Righteous indignation may be a spark that starts a fire, but most of the time, it blazes up and burns the whole house down.
At home, among other things, I have to be a role model, a judge, a mother, a mediator, a wife. I have to be a cleaning lady, a short-order cook, a party planner, an organizer.
At work, among other things, I have to be a leader, a team player, a policeman, a creative thinker, a model of efficiency. I have to be an artist, a subordinate, a teacher.
It's easy to let stress spiral downwards into negativity until everyone is grumpy and recalcitrant, both at home and at work. Today, after a team meeting in which much venting took place and we left the room feeling angry and down and unsure of how to solve the issues that are circling relentlessly, one of my colleagues stopped and sat down and put out the fuse with a refreshing blast of clear thinking:
I think that one way to improve our team's reputation is to start thinking and expressing ourselves in a more positive way! Perhaps we should stop talking about how much we have to do, how many hours we’ve worked and how much of a pain some projects are (I do that myself all the time). I think that if we start thinking positive and start communicating even more within our group – we can create a more positive and creative environment that hopefully inspires other teams to come to us with their projects. I think that because of all the stress during the fall/winter, we’ve kind of forgotten how fun and creative our job can actually be - and perhaps we don’t necessarily need help from our manager to improve our situation.
In other words, what I need to be, both at work and at home: A learner. A receiver. A listener.
I don't HAVE to be anything here, in this space, in my interior self, but it seems to me that only if I find the way to be those things (a learner, a receiver, a listener) can I create the words that others will listen to, that others will care about, that create the differences that plant the seeds the grow the tree to begin with.
*Title extremely paraphrased from a quote by Andy Warhol
OMG, how good do these peanut butter brownies
I had to confess to The Things I Don't Drink again today, this time to 3 colleagues during a training course I was at. They all boggled at me. I couldn't decide which one each of them was boggling at me most for which beverage...as they seemed to be equally divided, all three. Yeah, I don't drink coffee. I don't drink tea. And I don't drink alcohol. "For health reasons?" ...no. I just don't like the smell. Or the taste. Here in Sweden, most Swedes can't decide which is worse: not drinking coffee or not drinking alcohol.
It's not that I haven't tried them; I have. I've tried all of them, but not enough to develop a taste for any of them. Bleah. And by try, I basically mean I have sipped them. I have sipped coffee a couple of times. Tea, a couple of times. Beer, once was enough. Ditto most of the liquors, and wine, and champagne. I WILL drink a little kaluha or amaretto or amarula with cream, but that hardly counts since it amounts to a couple of teaspoons, it's basically liquid candy, and it happens, like, once every 4 years.
It's Eurovision week here in Europe, and madness especially HERE, because we are hosting it. Malmö is hosting it! Because Sweden won last year. If you live in the States and have no idea what I'm talking about, go here
to read all about it. The first semi-final was Tuesday and the second one is tonight. They have to have semi-finals because there are so many countries that want to participate. There are 39 countries participating this year, and of those, 26 will be in the final on Saturday.
So far this year, I have no favorite. Martin says I shouldn't write this until after tonight, because the contestants tonight are better than the trainwreck full of forgettableness that was Tuesday's semi-final. He knows this because he was at the dress rehearsal yesterday, along with 10,000 other Skåne-area students.
I am enjoying my life right now. My friend Camilla is back in Sweden (at least for awhile), this is one of the most beautiful Swedish springs I've experienced since I moved here, I have a big pile of much-anticipated new books to read, and work has, at least slightly, eased up.
The Saturday after this one, I leave for a week in Singapore. I get there on Sunday so I will have part of that day to see things, plus maybe some evenings, after work. But everything I have researched about things to do/see in Singapore mostly makes mention of shopping (expensive shopping!), eating out and nightlife. I'm not sure what to do while I'm there...anyone been and have suggestions?
BABY, IT'S NICE OUTSIDE
It's true I love my job. I'm good at what I do and I like doing it, and every workday when the alarm goes off, I hop right up (albeit a bit more slowly than in younger years) ready to start the day...but after a long weekend like this? Retirement sounds pretty good.
It's nice to relax, spend the day doing the things I feel like doing, getting things done at my own pace, having time to set chores and projects down and just read for a while. Time to sleep in, go to bed late, plan excursions and enjoy the sunshine.
The first day I thought about work a lot. I am not as overwhelmed as I was a few weeks ago, but I'm still dealing with the aftermath of the crazy...and very much hoping it doesn't heat up again, to that extent, for awhile.
It's good that spring is here, and that everyone has their thoughts focused a bit more outside the office walls, a bit more outside emails. A bit more on the greening trees and budding lilacs. Every tree that can be in flower IS in flower, it seems and there is beauty everywhere your eye rests.
Today I went to a baby shower for a woman that works in my department, but whom I met originally through the AWC. It's the second baby shower in the last 2 months...SIX women in our bookgroup are having babies right now...3 have already given birth and 3 have yet to do so. A lot of baby presents and baby talk and baby memories. I sort of envy them the time off, but I remember what it was like. I had never wanted to be home with babies and I did it for 3 years...that was enough for me. So, I guess a few long weekends in a row and vacation coming up soon should satisfy my craving for downtime.
We played fun baby-related games: a famous mother's name on our backs when we arrived that we had to figure out with only yes or no questions...I was completely blank on mine and had to get a giant hint before the light dawned. Even knowing that I was a cartoon mother, still running on TV, with 3 kids, one of whom is very obnoxious, wasn't enough to clue me in. D'oh, indeed! Then one of the organizers held a baby-themed quiz that included the following questions:
Where in the house should you never put baby, according to Johnny Castle?
Which species sees the male in charge of gestation and birth?
Which mammal has a gestation period of nearly 2 years? sperm whale, elephant, donkey or hippopotamus
What is the largest number of surviving human children from a SINGLE birth? 6, 8, 10 or 12
What is the highest amount of children born to ONE mother over the course of a lifetime? 15, 24, 48, 57, or 69
What can a child 7 months or less do that an adult cannot? stick out its tongue & cross its eyes, sneeze with its eyes open, lick its own elbow or breathe & swallow simultaneously?*
It was fun, and the food was good, but I'm babied out for the time being. I've been slogging through the magazine accumulation of years and am pleased to report that I have only 2.5 years left of Martha Stewart magazines to go through. I haven't ripped out nearly as many pages as I thought I would, considering how pretty the publication is. I was originally more surprised about this, considering how I decimated the Donna Hays, but Martha's recipes, while photogenic and appetizing, all seem to be so much WORK. Plus she has a bad habit of putting pretty pictures of the food in one set of pages, and the recipes all crammed around advertising in the back. I can't be bothered. Much of the time, even when I look at one of the photos and think, "YUM that looks YUMMY" upon reflection and clear-eyed reading of the recipe, I realize...yeah, I'll never make that. Not a chance.
The sky is so pretty, pale blue with fat white clouds floating leisurely by. I think I'll go gaze at it awhile and not think about work for the few remaining hours of the weekend. I hope your weekend has been as nearly perfect as mine.*Answers:
in the corner
69... BOGGLE. No kidding**
breathe & swallow simultaneously
**baha! no pun intended. Seriously. 69 kids. by ONE set of parents (though Wikipedia says the veracity of the story is under suspicion). Even the next highest amount on the list (39!) makes my uterus shudder.
SPRING IS SPRUNG THE GRASS IS RIZ
SHEEN OF GREEN
The best thing about spring isn't the flowers. It isn't the clear robin's egg blue sky or the puffy white clouds or even the warming temperatures. It's the sheen of green. The sheen of bright, neon green that blooms on every living surface...every bush, every tree, every field, every hedge. It transforms the whole world, just like the hoarfrost does in the winter or the first snow.
Today was so clear you could see forever. It was the kind of day when the hot air balloons come out, though we didn't actually see any. I cut back last year's growth of heather from the garden. Two of the roses seem to be beyond hope, but who know? It's spring! Hope is in everything. The kids and I sat on the trampoline in the sunshine during the afternoon. A bumblebee buzzed us. I could hear the high voices of children throughout the neighborhood and someone chopping something. Our neighbor's wash was flapping on the clothesline in the back. It was warm as well, the warmest day so far, and only going to get warmer according to the forecast.
Anders' birthday is coming up and the kids and I went shopping today: got presents and then some. After, I finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone and knew my hesitation in even starting it was correct...how am I supposed to wait until the sequel(s) is available? Book torture!
I have made a dent in the magazines, getting through all the Donna Hay's and now starting on the Livings. I ripped a lot of pages out of the Donna Hays. The recipes sound so good and the photos are so fantastic you feel as though you could take a bite from each glossy page. I found a predilection for what sounds good to me. If there is asparagus, spinach, pastry, meringue, chicken or salmon involved, it was a pretty sure bet that the pages would be added to my growing pile of keepers.
Weekends in spring, in between short weeks, what could be better?
DON'T DO IT!
Don't rub your eyes, don't rub them, don't no no no nooooo
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
RUB RUB RUB RUB RUB!!!
Spring is here.
A GOOD GOOD DAY
Tomorrow is May Day. May First. Labor Day (for us Europeans) and a day off. It's the first day of the FIFTH month of the year. How does that even happen? I mean how does it happen so FAST?
The sun has finally decided, after a long sulking morning, to come out and play...though there are still an awful lot of white blobs bumbling around up there. It's still quite chilly and I suppose my hopes that it would warm up a bit so I don't have to sit outside and freeze tonight by the bonfire (I know, but you DO freeze...on one side) are dashed.
I had a phone call today that made me really happy. My friend Camilla, you know the one who lives in Poland and only comes home twice, maybe three times a year? She quit her job! And moved back to Sweden! Yay! Now I get to see her whenever I want to! (until she moves again, which she will, but we'll be sad about that when the time comes)
Karin just told me that I'm scaring her with how fast I'm typing. She doesn't see all the mistakes I make and have to back up and re-type, but still, yes, I am a fast typer. I type over 90 words a minute or so. I used to play Typershark for fun. Typing fun. How nerdy is that? I took typing class in 9th grade and I still maintain that it was one of the best things I ever did. Anyone who works with words in ANY way should take a typing class. It just makes things so much more efficient and speedier when one can type quickly. I don't know if they even offer it in schools anymore, but if they don't, it's a pity. I don't think it's on the curriculum here at all.
I bought a whole pile of books the other day and that makes me happy too, especially since a couple of them were ones I've been waiting for forever (to come out in paperback, that is) and one I didn't even know existed, by a favorite author. How I will be able to put them down and read the bookgroup book, I don't know. I love reading. Love love love it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go boil and devil eggs, because what's a freezing cold picnic/bonfire grill evening without deviled eggs?!
A very good day so far, and tomorrow? Even better! Sleeping in, reading, going through magazines, starting Season 1 of Downton Abbey, and relaxing. How will you spend YOUR May Day?
THINGS, SOME GOOD, SOME NOT SO GOOD, SOME GREAT
The light is lying low over the fields, bathing the back of our house in gold and pink. There's a line above the horizon demarcating a nimbus edge just before the blue starts. We had giant puffity clouds today, looking like a line of rounded marshmallow mountains, one an Ewok for a split second before it morphed into just another heavenly cottonball.
There are fat little buds on the cherry tree but no blossoms yet. Everything is just about to burst...we had a couple of days of rain and you could really see the effect...hedges went green, the fields went green, the pussywillows blew up and went pollen. I expect my eyes to start itching any day now.
The kid and I went to see Ironman 3 this afternoon and really enjoyed it. I adore RDJr, and he did a great job. Funny and angsty and just general good old 'splosions and mayhem. Yesterday Martin and I went to sushi night, an AWC event that I organize every couple of months. I rotate around between all the different sushi places in both Malmö and Lund and it makes me quite happy that nowadays there are so many to choose from. When we were first moved here 16+ years ago, there was ONE. Last night it was actually the sushi counter in the central train station...not very elegant but their sushi is really good and the prices even better. It made for a very relaxed, laid-back atmosphere with the 6 of us who showed up. You'd think that in a club of over 200 people we'd have more than 6 at a dinner out, but either the weather or the location or just general spring-busyness kept people away.
Karin wanted me to go see Warm Bodies with her, so I was glad I was able to talk her into Ironman instead. I really don't get the obsession with zombies. Martin went to see it on Thursday with friends and she was really upset because she's been wanting to see it. She'll just have to find her own friends to see it with or wait for DVD.
I had a message from a former colleague and boss from Ericsson that one of our co-workers died this past week; I assume from cancer as she was in treatment for breast cancer 13 years ago when I started there. It makes me sad...she was approximately my age and has a young son. There is a commercial on TV right now that points out the fact that 1 in 3 people will get cancer. 1 in 3! That just freaks me out. :( Not really something I want to think about when spring is in the air.
Tomorrow I'm going to go buy pansies for the garden pots. We need some cheer and color in the yard to go with the green.
I don't know if I mentioned this here, but I decided to start a magazine intervention project for Anders and myself. I have boxes and boxes of Martha Stewart Living magazines and he has boxes and boxes of motorcycle and bike mags PLUS boxes and boxes of old comics. I am resigned to the fact that the chances of getting him to let go of most, if not all of the comics, but I really hope we can ditch most of the rest of the paper that just sits in boxes in closets and on shelves and never, ever gets looked at. Which is ironic, considering I bought SIX magazines at the magazine shop at the train station yesterday, though in my defense, none of them was Martha! Heh.
Martin: We watched a film on Geronimo today in school. Do you know what his real Indian name was?
Martin: No. That was what the Mexicans called him. His real Indian name meant something like "The one who yawns"
Liz: *giggles madly*
Martin: *rolls eyes*
Next week has a bonfire with friends, a day and a half off work, an AWC meeting and the start of May. Woot!
WALKING ON SUNSHINE
The sun is shining, though it's still a little chilly out, and for some stupid reason I am inside. I have a bad headache, which is part of the reason, because I know if I go outside before the headache is totally gone, the sun will pierce through my eyeballs and my brain will spontaneously combust. I was out in the sun a bit yesterday...you have to ease into these things when you're a troglodyte homebody like me. Karin and I whacked down the dead long grass in the front garden and removed the pine branches from the bed under the kitchen window. Woot! Gardening! Yeah, that was all.
A neighborhood cat came right up to us, while we were out there and demanded to be petted and picked up and loved on. She was a black-and-white shorthair, small like my Pooka with a pink nose like my Toby and MAN, did she have a loud purr. She hung around for awhile, and we put her on the trampoline and she followed Karin into the house and back out and then moved on next door after we went back inside. I don't know who she belongs to, but now we all want a cat again. Sigh.
I have a giant to-do list of things to get through before the weekend is over. Some of them are halfway done, but none of them are finished. I still haven't made headway on my taxes and bank reporting forms. I have mostly finished the bag labels for the Lego project and 3 boxes are full of finished ziplocs. But we don't know what to do with them now. The kids don't want to sell any after all, so I suppose it will all eventually go up to the attic for posterity to deal with. Or more likely me, again, someday, when we move out of this house and we have to actually get everything back down from the attic that we have stuffed up there over the years.
I was in the sun more after the mini-fake-gardening stint, because I went to Copenhagen with my friend Debbie to see a play: The Importance of Being Earnest, in English. It was well-done and fun and we had a great time. For all that Malmö is a decent size city, I ran into THREE people I know while I was waiting at the station for Debbie to get there, and then we ran into another of the Wonders on the train going over...she was taking her daughter to the Justin Bieber concert. Copenhagen was mobbed to overflowing with young girls in pink and white and JB apparel and I heart JB facepaint, all heading in the same direction as we were.
After the play, we took the bus back to Nyhavn and had dinner, which wasn't all that great and very over-priced (the conversation made up for it!), and then dessert at a different restaurant, because I had seen a menu notice for rhubarb tarte a tatin, which was delicious though still over-priced and then we took the metro back to the train and I got home right before I turned into a pumpkin.
After 16+ years in Sweden, I get over to Copenhagen once every 18 months or so, and here I've been THREE times since last July. Crazy. And I really, really want to go back again soon to visit the newly opened Aquarium. Maybe the first weekend in May! OMG, it's almost MAY. Next thing you know, it will be Christmas.
WEDDING PLANS & GARBAGE CANS
In the interest of helping my daughter be more organized with her homework, school books and papers, I promised to give her a large plastic case I had up in the back of the closet. It's bright blue with 10 or so pockets and a flap that folds down over the front and closes with elastic bands. The pockets were all neatly labeled and there was an index card in a pocket on the front listing the contents of each pocket as well: ceremony, flowers, reception, catering, photographer, etc. I bought the case in 1995 and used it to hold all the documents and materials that I accumulated while planning our wedding, which took place in June, 1996.
The elastic was stretched out and floppy and the layer of dust on the cover of the case was, frankly, embarrassing, but in my own defense, I HAVE cleaned it out once before...a long time ago, after we moved to Sweden. But every pocket still contained something of enough importance that I felt the need to hold on to it.
Tonight, I went through and winnowed it down again. I threw away the following:
- receipts & copies of checks, business cards and contracts for the photographer, the violinist (that my sister met on a plane!), the dress, the DJ, the flowers, the cake, the catering, the reception hall, the church, the hotel room, and our travel itinerary for our honeymoon
- spreadsheet of cost comparisons for photographers
- 1996 White Sox schedule
- spreadsheet of costs of each section of our month-long honeymoon (Athens, Istanbul, Santorini, Naxos, Sweden)
- lists of household items we already had
- wishlists for the wedding registry for things we DIDN'T have yet
- printouts from actual purchases from the wedding registry (strangely, no one bought us the $150 espresso machine)
- pages ripped from magazines with pictures of my dress (long since sold) and the bridesmaid dresses and a page of flower ideas that I liked
- sheet music for the Delsbo Wedding March
- The minister's play-by-play for the entire ceremony including instructions such as TELL THEM TO SIT DOWN
- page after page after page of photograph orders by number and placement for albums
Things I actually kept anyway for posterity:
- The catering contract which listed all the food for the reception including, of course, Swedish meatball appetizers
- The questionnaire for the DJ which has NO checked for the following: Hokey-Pokey? Bunny Hop? Polka's? (sic) but YES checked for Ethnic Music and then the description: Swedish—Peps Persson, Dan Hylander :D
- Receipts and appraisal information for my wedding and engagement rings
- 2 copies of the ceremony program
- 2 copies of the wedding invitations
- spreadsheet of the invited guests, which included columns labeled "sent", "likely" and "responded". There are at least 3 people listed that I have no recollection of whatsoever.
- copies of our wedding certificate
- The angry 2-page letter that I wrote to the first Swedish church that dumped us, just because I write an awesome angry letter
Keep in mind that I have 4 photo albums plus all the original proofs, the guestbook from the reception that everyone wrote in, a framed copy of the invitation that my friend Sharon who sang at the wedding gave to me (currently in the back of the closet) plus a little organizer notebook with most of the details filled out, and which also includes such helpful information as a entire page of text, divided into columns, headed "Who pays for what".
I should scan some wedding pics, shouldn't I? We should go buy a new scanner/printer, shouldn't we?
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
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