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zird is the word [userpic]
THIS IS / THESE ARE
This is the post I haven't written. It's all the posts that went unwritten this past month, while I've been struggling with pain, tingling, numbness and frustration. This is the day when I sat down, despite the tingling arm and wrote anyway, because I need to, because I hate having gone so long without writing, for such a stupid reason. I've been to the naprapath 6 times. I've had several massages. I've been to the orthopedic doctor and next week I am scheduled for an MRI to see if it is a pinched nerve or if there have been any "discernable changes" to the discs of my neck and spine. This is me, hoping for the best, since the naprapath treatments ARE helping.

These are the photos I haven't taken: the rise of a hill against the evening sky and a sudden burst of wings above it. The road up the hill in the fog on the way to work in the mornings. The stork that walked very slowly away from us, around the edge of the swampy bit over by the school. The pure black clear night shining with stars. The shiny, oily, rainbow-slicked feathers of the rook's wing who was hanging out under our bird feeder recently. Multiple pictures of my kids, one of whom makes faces every time I try. The pots full of multi-colored pansies that I planted this past weekend. I'll get around to that one, eventually.

These are the phone calls I haven't made lately, for which I am sorry: My sister, whose daughter has been accepted to all three of her top choice universities. My mom, who is busier than I am and apparently never home. My brother, who was traveling on his birthday (though I did talk to his wife). My best and oldest friend, whom I miss entirely too much and who I think about much more often than she might guess.

These are the events I haven't recorded for posterity, because I haven't written, because time goes by whether you are paying attention or not: Our annual pie night, with fewer people and pies than usual, but the ones that were there were delicious and my fruit pizza is always so good, if I do say so myself! A lovely evening with my two best friends here in Sweden, at which I cooked a fantastic dinner of 20-clove garlic chicken and served brownie pie with fresh strawberries for dessert. A concert I sang in for Earth Hour in Eslöv, after which I came home with 15 minutes still to spare in the hour and driving through Flyinge realized that no one had turned off their lights at all...not even my own kids, who had completely forgotten.

This is the apology I haven't made out loud to someone who probably won't read this: I'm sorry. I'll try to be better and not so selfish. I'll try to say this out loud to you soon, because you deserve to hear it from me.

These are the things I'm avoiding thinking about: paying for plane tickets to the US. Leaving Martin in the US. Not seeing Martin for...who knows how long. Months? A year? ... sigh. Shopping for a new bed, though I actually DID go to two furniture stores last weekend to start getting some idea of what's available and how much it will potentially cost (too much). The actual MRI, because the nurse who scheduled it asked me if I suffered from claustrophobia (yes, under certain circumstances) which kind of freaked me out about it.

This is the rest of what I wanted to say, though I can't guarantee it was worth waiting this long for: It's officially spring, though it's been rainy all this week and we lost an hour last weekend which still seems to be giving me sleep issues. Work is still insanely busy. I can't even with the daily circus of news from the country that my firstborn is going to be living in soon. Anders is in South Africa for work, for a week and a half, which includes a 4-night safari hike in Kruger National Park and then gone again for a weekend hike with friends right after he gets back. Karin is studying to take the Swedish equivalent of the SAT this weekend, and next weekend is premiering as one of the leads in her high school play. Martin is tutoring sporadically, and is in the process of applying to be a substitute at the village elementary school for the rest of the school year. He's still waiting to hear from the other 2 universities he applied to, and waiting to hear if he'll receive any scholarship funds for the summer program he's signed up for. The day after tomorrow is my last Friday off this month, as well as my sister's birthday. I plan to spend it doing the most relaxing, self-indulgent things I can think of (sleeping in, reading the stash of new magazines I just bought, sitting in the sunshine if there is any) and making that overdue phone call.

This is me, otherwise, the same as before.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Dido—I'm No Angel


zird is the word [userpic]
NOTHING NEW
Still having pain and tingling in my arm, shoulder and hand. Been to the naprapat once, going again for two more treatments, this week and next.

Still waiting to hear from the FAFSA, and the other two colleges that Martin has applied to.

Still having anxiety attacks about money, especially since we paid Martin's housing deposit and first housing down payment this weekend. Cashectomy, indeed! OUCH.

Still enduring winter: snow last week, now rain rain rain

Still crazy at work, though we are managing to keep up by the skin of our teeth. However, found out today that I have five 5-year-rollover vacation days that I have to take before April 1st. And just missed sportlov...figures! So, I'm probably going to be taking every Friday in March off. It's a hard knock life.

Still working on never-ending weight loss and healthy eating. Still getting back to walking. Still waking with headaches. Still reading and obsessing over art on Instagram. Still keeping the house clean and the laundry done.

Carry on.
 calm
mood: calm
music: does the tingling in my arm count?


zird is the word [userpic]
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.
 busy
mood: busy
music: Jess Penner—Don't Come Over


zird is the word [userpic]
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.
 optimistic
mood: optimistic
music: The Finn Brothers—Won't Give In


zird is the word [userpic]
STRESSBALL
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)
 frustrated
mood: frustrated


zird is the word [userpic]
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
 grumpy
mood: grumpy
music: Oingo Boingo—We Close Our Eyes


zird is the word [userpic]
D-DAY
Song running through my head today, all day:
It's the End of the World as We Know it (and I Feel Fine)

HAHAHAHA *cries*
 disappointed
mood: disappointed
music: guess


zird is the word [userpic]
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
 geeky
mood: geeky
music: Bic Runga—Tiny Little Piece of My Heart


zird is the word [userpic]
VICENNIAL
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.
 calm
mood: calm
music: Act—So Let Me Give Your Heart a Break


zird is the word [userpic]
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.
 thoughtful
mood: thoughtful
music: David Bowie—Heroes


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