attempting to give a damn

OOPS

Apparently, I can only manage being consistent in one space at a time. I've been super about posting my daily good things on Facebook but my poor little blog is totally neglected in the meantime. Does anyone care? News at eleven.
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key to lizardek

SUNDAY MUSING

It's another lazy-ish Sunday. I woke up at 6:30, feel back asleep until 8:30 and then around 9:30 actually stopped dozing and woke up enough to put on my glasses and read in bed for another hour or so. All I've done of note so far is water plants and put some clothes away (apart from showering, dressing and eating).

It's another cloudy, rainy day. We went yesterday, despite the weather, to meet Debbie and family on a boat tour of Malmö along the canal, featuring a surprisingly hard quiz about Malmö. I've done the tour boat trips for tourists a couple of times, but this was a book your own, steer your own boat trip and Debbie's son acted as captain, navigating us slowly but steadily along the center line of the canal.

It's always fun to see a place you know well from a different perspective, and because of the weather there was almost no one out on the water, and the people who looked at us from overpasses and the sides seemed to be very amused at our outing, clad in rain ponchos as we were. Debbie had brought delicious chocolate croissants for everyone and we didn't even break into our own fika that we'd brought along. Her daughter Maria had her beautiful black lab puppy with her (Freja), who was content to hang out in laps and be petted the entire way. The questions in the quiz book were really hard, and prompted a lot of laughter and discussion. Anders and I were a team and we ended up winning by half a point!

***

Yesterday, we had sad news as we found out via Facebook that my mom's massage therapist and friend of many years passed away abruptly a few weeks ago. We don't know any details (and don't need to), but she wasn't much older than me and was a lovely, generous woman. I'm shocked and saddened for her kids. Even if my mom has moved away from there, and we wouldn't have probably ever seen her again, since we most likely won't be going to Michigan when we go to the States now, it was still sad news to hear.

I have a couple of other people in my friends list on Facebook who have passed away and their accounts remain behind like weird virtual memorials. There doesn't seem to be any real consensus on how to handle the situation on social media. Do you comment occasionally that you miss them, to let their families know the person in question isn't forgotten? Do you wish them a happy birthday every year even though they won't get your greetings? Do you just quietly unfriend them one day? If you are on FB, what would you want? I waver a little between wanting to keep my online presence around for posterity and feeling like that's morbid. Unlike this blog, which I would prefer to live on forever, haha! My words immortalized on the internet for anyone to read, comment on, and enjoy.

***

We're definitely in autumn now. Leaves are changing fast and the temperatures that have dropped show no signs of moving upwards again. I'm considering putting away the deck furniture, although sometimes October turns out to be nice...you just never know. Mostly it feels like a definite season change, time stop wearing sleeveless shirts and capri pants and break out the heavier jackets. Sigh.

We had our first in-person AIC meeting last week and even though there were only 10 of us onsite (with 6 more attending via Zoom), it was very clear that people were super happy to be gathered together again. And then I hosted book group on Thursday evening at my home and had a moment of dithering beforehand because I hadn't gotten info on how many would be coming in person and had prepared snacks and fika as if everyone would be coming to my home, only realizing that day that I might have gotten all the food for no purpose. It turned out to be 4 of us in my living room and 3 online, so it was good that I did have snacks prepared, and again, it was super obvious how happy those who had come were to be there, in person and among friends. We talked and talked and talked, and it felt like two years of bottled up conversations coming out all at once. They didn't leave until 10 pm, which has to be a record for the longest AIC bookgroup evening!

Karin is in Mallorca until Tuesday, enjoying warmer weather, even though they've had rain there, too. Martin has been catching up with friends and job-hunting, and Anders and I are just living our lives. I've been working 50% in the office since the beginning of September, and now with almost all pandemic restrictions lifted in Sweden, we are starting this week with 70%, which means 3 days in the office one week, and 4 days the next, with the expectation that we will be back to 100% by the end of the year. Sigh. Upper management doesn't seem to be in favor of continued working from home, even whilst touting their embrace of flexibility and "leaving it up to your manager".

Right now, here at least, the pandemic feels over, and I find that both a little naive and a little unsettling. I guess we shall see.
autumnleaves

FLEXIBLE AND FORWARD-MOVING

Today is the autumnal solstice. It's been a week of really cold temps, steady winds, rain, and cloud cover, but today was lovely. Warm and sunny and just what I needed. Today's the last day this week working from home, and my shoulders are up around my ears. Work is intense as always and we're already feeling the fall crunch and that's before we've really gotten started on monster project season.

Last night, I prepped dinner, chopping all the veggies, pressing garlic and setting the table. Anders was out in the garage getting Karin's car prepped as he was going out again after we ate to fix her exhaust system, which had rusted through and fallen down. He came in and cooked the actual meal (which he likes doing, and I don't): lemony salmon pasta with onion, zucchini and carrots. It was absolutely delicious. We had enough leftover for 2 lunches, one for him and one for Martin and I to split today, which we did. It's nice to have someone at home to eat lunch with, even if it means I can't read while I eat. :)

After I shut down for the day, Martin and I went for a speed walk around the village, doing 1.5K. Then I drove to Sandby, dropped him off at the bus station and went to the grocery store. He's in Lund, seeing a couple of friends tonight, but we're picking him up again around 9:30. He'll be home alone tomorrow and Friday as I'm in the office, and again the first three days of next week, before I rotate back to working from home.

We had an email from upper management and HR today informing everyone that with restrictions lifting they are hoping to be able to allow everyone to work 100% back in the office as of the end of the year, but that the transition and the flexibility going forward will be up to our individual managers. I was very glad to see that they seem to be taking into consideration the fact that a lot of us WANT to continue rotating in some fashion and being able to work from home when and if we want or need to. I definitely find a lot of good things in being able to work from home some days of the week, and hope to continue to doing so. The 2/3-3/2 schedule works really well for me. We'll see how it actually turns out. My manager has also heard from a lot of us that we feel the same, so I'm hopeful flexibility will rule the day.

Hard to believe it is already nearing the end of September and that fall is officially here. We have our annual AIC meeting on Tuesday next week, along with board elections, and it's our first in-person meeting since February 2020. Almost 2 full years. Crazy. It will actually be a hybrid event, as we want to continue to offer an online option for those who can't or don't feel comfortable attending in person.

Despite everything, this year is passing quickly. Maybe because so much of it has been the same, day after day. Maybe just because all the years pass quickly when you get to my age.
motherhood

PRODIGAL SON

Martin left North Carolina on Tuesday. Mom, Sarah and Bryce drove him to the airport, a couple of hours early, so that he could get his extra bag registered and make sure everything was squared away. He had gotten a rapid COVID test the day before (negative) and downloaded 2 Audible books for the trip. Everything went super smoothly and he kept us all informed by text messages at every step of the way.

When he got to London on Wednesday morning, it turned out that his flight to Copenhagen had been moved slightly and was departing about an hour later than we had originally been told. The plane coming in was also delayed, but he said the pilot must have 'stepped on the gas' because they were on time landing in Copenhagen. One of his best friends texted him and told him that since she is currently working in Copenhagen, and takes the train, she could meet him at the airport stop and help him with his bags onto the train. So, he said, his delay was for a reason since that worked out perfectly!

Except that when he was down on the platform waiting for her, the train she was on was so packed with people that she couldn't get off and he couldn't get on. So he had to sadly wave at her and make gestures to try and tell her he'd take the next one. Which was much emptier. She actually got off at the next stop in Sweden and when his train got there, she got on so they had a couple of stops before arriving in Lund.

In the meantime, I was having travel butterflies FOR him! I was so excited that my stomach was upset. I had picked up Karin and then we went and picked up sushi for everyone for dinner and we headed to the train station...early of course, because I'm chronically early. A few minutes before his train arrived, we headed up to the platform (cold! windy!) and waited as he and Claudia disembarked and started down the platform toward us. Martin was the only person with a facemask on. :)

Huge hugs all around! My other kid is home! My anxiety level, was has been extra highly ratcheted for the past couple of years, is finally down where it belongs (mostly, haha). He is thinner and his hair is longer, but he is home and I am super happy.

martin_home_210915.jpg

I worked from home on Thursday and took Friday off, and Martin and got up early and ran a bunch of errands for him. We went to the tax authority to get him registered back into the Swedish system, went to the bank to get a new debit card and update his info, and to the the phone service center to get him a new Swedish phone card and number. Then we stopped at the grocery store and bought some of the things he needed plus stuff for his first myskväll in Sweden in over 2 years.

He spent the evening and part of today going through his closet and bookshelf and sorting/purging all kinds of stuff. We also put his resume together in English and Swedish this afternoon and he has already applied for a job. Next week he has an appointment at the police station to replace his long-lost national ID card, and then once we get the confirmation that he's registered in the system we can get him set up for driving school and dentist/medical stuff.

He's napping now and I will wake him up in about 15 minutes so we can leave, as we are going to make a quick run to the mall again to get a couple of things we forgot yesterday (hangers, since there were none left in his closet), and then we're going to meet Karin at her apartment so Martin can see it, have dinner and then go to the movies (we're seeing Dune, which if you remember, Martin and I just read together recently).

***

Anders gave me the run-through on the Tesla and its operations and I took it for a test drive... so cool!! I'm working from home again through Wednesday, so the first time I will drive it for real will probably be to the office on Thursday. It's so smooth and so fast. Very fun to finally have an electric car!
happyfindus

JUST A FEW THINGS, AFTER A FEW WEEKS

Oy! That's what you get, I suppose, when you get back to work and regular routines. Suddenly, 2 weeks have whipped by and you haven't written a thing.

I've been busy, both with work and stuff at home, and a lot of work for the AIC, as well, as we're in the beginning of the season, starting to plan the first in-person events in over a year, and preparing for the Annual meeting and board elections. I've been busy contacting members, finding out who is planning to continue and deactivating those who have left or don't want to renew, as well as calling new registrants and getting them activated. I've done a new PPT template for the annual meeting with our new colors/logo and put together the year-in-review. Today we filled the last empty nomination slot for the board and I'm excited that we'll have a good board again for next year. All but two are continuing, and the two new volunteers will be good ones, I think.

Today was spent doing laundry and cleaning house, specifically in Martin's room, getting in cleaned up, rearranged and organized. Anders is putting up a new blind for his window, and I've repotted a plant for his window, to make it homey. He leaves North Carolina on Tuesday and arrives here on Wednesday, after a 6-hour layover in London. Here's hoping that there are no issues since he'll have his vaccination proof and a rapid COVID test before leaving.

We pick up our new car the same day. We're getting a brand new Tesla. Finally, an electric car after wanting one for several years. The timing and our finances were in the right place. It's electric blue. Hoping Martin doesn't feel like his arrival home isn't overshadowed by the new car, haha!

***

Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I've written about my feelings regarding the horrible events of that day before, and I don't really feel like going into any further details about what I think or feel or remember about that day. My social media feed is full of people writing about where they were, what they were doing, and what they experienced, and I find myself skimming past all of it in discomfort. It's not that I think we should forget, or not talk about it, or that it's not relevant, but for me at least, a great deal of what seems wrong with America today, started then, 20 years ago. I don't know that it will ever be made right, or even if it can, even after all this time. It seems wrong to dwell on it, that's all.

***

I've been writing a list of good things from each day on Facebook. It's gotten to be a bit of an obsession and I find myself thinking "ooh, have to remember this" quite a lot during the day, and sometimes even jotting things down in my notes app so I don't forget. I worry that it's pretty banal: good food I ate that day, what the weather is doing, the fact that I went for a walk... but hey, those ARE my good things, so they make the cut. Your good things list might look much more exciting or diverse or whatever, but no one else (despite their encouragement of mine) seems to have picked up the idea and run with it. I figure I'll do it for a year, unless something changes, and see how I feel at the end of it. :) Keeping a list of good things has made me feel better about things in general, so maybe I'll do it forever, who knows?
littlelion

AUTUMNAL PREMEDITATIONS

Hello from rainy Skåne! We had a few nice days at the beginning of last week but it's back to rain and grey and solid cloud cover. I was really hoping for a nice weekend, but it's not looking like I'll get my wish. Tonight we are going (with Karin) to the annual crayfish party, hosted and attended by friends we haven't seen since the start of the pandemic (with the exception of 1 couple). It will be weird but nice, I'm sure. Everyone is fully vaccinated, but crowds of people make me nervous these days, so we shall see. I'm doubly upset about the rain because it means we will be crowded into their porch. Gah.

I started back to work on Thursday and was very glad to do so. I worked from home that day but yesterday I went into the office and worked a full day on site. It's the first time I've been there for more than 20 minutes (to print things) since October last year when we were all sent home full-time. I guess life is full of these "firsts since the pandemic started" moments now. I was the only one in our open landscape room, and practically the only one on the floor. There were 3 other people when I arrived, and a couple more people came after lunch (one of whom left again right away). I ate lunch by myself and got lots done as no one bothered me the entire day. Next week we start back on the rotation schedule and my team will be working the first three days of the week in the office. All of them have been sick (with colds, not COVID), but I assume by Monday they'll be fine to come in. Another first, since I've barely seen any of them for any amount of time, also since October last year. I may find myself wishing to be back to working from home full time, haha! It's easy to get used to the peace and quiet of my own home, and also be able to do things like laundry, even while I'm working.

Yesterday, my sister picked up Martin in Detroit and all his stuff that was either going to Goodwill or to my mom's storage unit. I talked to them both while they were on their way. His last day of work was Thursday and he's spending the weekend at goodbye parties with his friends. He's dropping off the keys to his apartment on Monday morning and mom and Sarah are taking him back to North Carolina. He'll be there until September 14 when he flies home. Two weeks (plus a couple of days) and he'll be back in Sweden. I'm so grateful that he's made it through the past two years with no major issues, despite the pandemic and other small crises. I know it's counter-intuitive (and also useless) to keep my children at home forever, but the need to know where they are and if they are well probably never goes away. I guess it would be weirder if it did go away. Even though I DON'T want them to stay home forever, having them both in the same country again will be a relief. It all makes me feel for my mom who has 2 of 3 on another continent. I'm glad she'll be so close to my sister now (though they are both probably ready to not be living under the same roof again haaaaaha).

I'm on book 7 of the St. Mary's Chronicles. Every book so far is a edge-of-the-seat thrill ride of excellence. I'm so pleased.

How is possible it's September already in a couple of days?
findus

THE END AND THE BEGINNING

Sunday night and we're nearing the end of August, the end of summer, the end of vacation. Tomorrow I actually have to get up early because the furnace people are coming to replace something in our furnace. But that's good because I need to start resetting my inner clock...I've moved my work start date up and will be starting on Thursday this week instead of Monday next week.

I talked to my manager about it, and told her that I felt like I was wasting my vacation days...home, doing nothing, no plans, etc. I'd rather be working, honestly. I had a good three weeks off and I have 3 more days to take advantage of. Because of the work I did do, I'm taking back 3 days as well, so I won't have "lost" any vacation time.

I've been reading like a fiend, whipping through the St. Mary's Chronicles and am already in the middle of book 4. Good stuff. I expect I'll probably end up reading everything she's written. :D

Today was supposed to be lunch and the theater and my birthday celebration with Debbie and Camilla but Camilla called, literally 10 minutes before I was leaving, to tell me she wasn't feeling well and had ordered a COVID test to be sure. So no lunch for us. Debbie and I still went to the play, but I have to wait another 2 weeks for my present (O! the humanity). The play was Iphigenia at Olympus, a modern take on the story of the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter so he could win the Trojan war and what happened to her after she ended up in the hands of the gods, specifically Deus (Zeus). Greek tragedy at its...finest. One of the St. Mary's books I was just reading was all about the Trojan war so the whole story and all the players were very fresh in my mind. I didn't particularly care for the play or the theme or, well, Greek tragedy in general, but the actors all did a great job, especially the guy who played Deus who chewed the scenery to absolute pieces in the most entertaining way.

Yesterday, we went to a socially distanced picnic in the park that I hosted for the AIC. It was the rain date from last weekend's attempt that got rained out. Karin called in the morning and backed out, but Anders and I went and it was lovely to sit in the sunshine, in a pretty park, with nice people, and be social. Haven't done that in ages. I made tuna sandwiches, deviled eggs and rice krispie treats, which combined are the perfect picnic foods. You might argue potato salad and watermelon should be included, but you'd be wrong. :D And then Anders went and ate one of MY deviled eggs. He's lucky he makes up for such transgressions in other ways.

What are your perfect picnic foods?
kimpossible

LEARNING TO USE A SLINGSHOT

I have to concentrate on the good things in my daily life, in order to combat all the awful things in the world that I can't do anything about. Or at least not anything substantial. Recycling and donating to humanitarian causes seems to pale in the face of all the misery and hardship out there. I have only skimmed the news for years now, reading headlines and limiting my exposure, because I buckle under the weight of it and I'm PRIVILEGED. I live a cushy, easy life. I live in the first of first world countries. I can't, in any meaningful way, really help women in Afghanistan, children in immigration detention, patients in ICU COVID units, natural disaster victims in Haiti, oppressed people in so many places.

I do my small part: voting, educating myself, limiting single-use plastics, limiting my consumption of red meat, speaking up. We put up solar panels. We're getting an electric car. But that's nothing. Nothing in comparison to the need out there; which is overwhelming to hear about, to read about, to know about. How do you reconcile the two?

Anders and I just watched 13th, an excellent documentary about the prison system in the United States and the nation's history of racial inequality. Almost all of it was about things I have seen before, watched on television, read about. The fact that so little changes, so slowly, for so many, is heartbreaking and rage-inducing. And I'M PRIVILEGED. I have the choices so very many people lack.

Every nature documentary we watch (and we watch a lot) hammers home the devastating effects of climate change and the brink we are teetering on, and the tiny, little, things we do in the face of it make me cringe sometimes with their futility. I know that every little bit helps, that changing our behavior, in even small ways, helps, but faced against the huge need for massive systemic change, it seems like such tiny drops that make no real difference in the ocean of catastrophe that seemingly looms.

I don't talk much here about my political views, my stances on hot-button big issues; there are plenty of people out there doing a much better job of that, of articulating my side, for me. I tell people if they ask, what I think. I tell them sometimes even if they don't, if I think they need to hear it. But I often feel I am preaching to the choir. There are so many things to fix, in so many places, so many ways that humans make our own work so much harder. It's depressing. It's frustrating. It's hard to take.

But it doesn't mean I'm off the hook. My privilege is exactly the place from which I must speak. Exactly the place where I stand, and where I hold. If no one speaks up, what then? We let the awful things win. And that's simply not acceptable. So I look for the daily good things. I do my small part. I educate myself and speak up. I hope you do, too.

We might all be little Davids, kicking dust at Goliath's feet, but enough of us, kicking hard enough, doing what needs to be done...we'll prevail. Won't we? We don't have time to fix everything. Maybe we just have time to learn to use a slingshot.
rainy day

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

I'm still in the middle of vacation, home, doing not much of anything. I have another week after this, but I'm honestly debating whether to go back to work a little early. I've had things to do, don't get me wrong, but this past week I've been "trapped" at home without a car most days and it's been pretty much raining non-stop for longer than that. It makes me question how I'll be able to handle retirement in 10 years. Mind you, I am NOT complaining about too much vacation, rather I am thinking I need to fill my days in a better way. I'm too used to having too much to do.

I read, and play iPad games, watch some TV, go for walks, and clean things. I have a to-do list but most everything on it is done, at least the things that were for me and not my husband. :D Everyone else is back at work. I've sneak-worked a bit as well, enough that I'll probably take back at least 3 days from my vacation. Better than the full week I worked last summer, at least. Surprisingly, I am awake by 7:30 or 8 nearly every morning and up and showered and dressed before 11. I want to get back to regular routines. It's not that I have too much vacation, it's more that I want to really use my days off for something other than hanging out at home. Maybe I'll take those 3 days off when Martin gets home.

My car is getting two side panels painted and it's taken forever. Anders just called and told me he got the message that it's finally ready. They close at 4 and it's almost 40 minutes away, so he has to leave work pretty much right now to come get me, so we can get there in time. If we can't get there in time today, they close at 12 tomorrow, which makes it hard for Anders, who started back at work this week.

My sister told me that she and my mom are driving to Michigan next Wednesday to get Martin. They have to help him pack, take stuff to goodwill, and a few things to my mom's storage unit and then they plan to drive back to North Carolina by Sunday. He's already told his work and his landlord that he's leaving. It's starting to feel real, that he'll be coming home, after 4 years in Detroit. I know he has mixed feelings about it, which is normal before any major life change, but I am so happy that he'll be coming home to Sweden. It'll be an adjustment for all of us, to start with at least.

Tonight is book group, on Zoom. I'm hopeful this is the last one on Zoom, at least 100% but I'm suspicious that we are in the same place we were this time last year: numbers down, restrictions lifted, things going fine. The Delta variant is just now starting to make itself felt here in Sweden, and last year, by October, everything had shut down again. I really hope this fall will be different, but I don't dare to have too much anticipation. Judging by the rest of the world, this is far from over.

I finished the book group book over a week ago, and have read several others in between. I just started a new (to me) series about time travel and history, which is great so far. I bought all 12 books in the series (on Kindle), based on how good the first one was. I love books and movies about time travel. It strikes me that this one would be a great candidate for adaption to screen. It's the St. Mary's series by Jodi Taylor. How she has managed to fly under my radar for so long is remarkable.

On Tuesday, Karin chivvied us into going to the movies. It was weird to sit in a movie theater (with a third of the seats booked). We saw Free Guy, which I loved. It made me laugh out loud several times. Very well done. This weekend, we actually have plans. The AIC picnic last Saturday was postponed due to rain, so it's taking place this Saturday. And Sunday I'm having lunch and then going to the theater in Malmö with Debbie and Camilla to see a play. Another thing, like being at a movie theater, that I haven't done in a year.

Now, if it would just stop raining.
happyfindus

EXPRESSING YOUR ESSENTIAL NATURE

There are so many ways to define yourself. How do you do it?

Is it your socio-economic grouping (lower-class, middle-class, upper-middle-class)?

Is it your age range, as defined by so many questionnaires and surveys (Under 12 years old, 12-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, 75 years or older)?

Is it your ethnicity (White, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, Native American or American Indian, Asian / Pacific Islander, Other)?

Is it the generational decade you were born into (baby boomer, gen x, millennial, gen z)?

Is it your marital status? Your level of education? Your employment status? Your political affiliations? Your gender/sexual orientation?

There are mommy-bloggers (are there actually any bloggers anymore?) whose primary identification is their parental status. There are work titles that define us in our career. And these are all so superficial, really. Do you define yourself by the color of your eyes, or whether you are left-handed or right-handed or, if you are in the military, by your rank?

Is your definition of yourself based on physical traits or intellectual ones, or location? Or do you find that your definition is an amalgam...a mixture of many of these things?

Defining yourself is akin to labeling, I suppose. You box yourself up and make information available about yourself that helps others understand who you are. But if you are only defining yourself FOR YOURSELF, what then? Does your definition help rank your sense of self-worth? Or is it simply ways in which you interact with the world?

If I was to define myself with labels, I could point you at this old post: Labeling Lizardek. But it's not really the LABELS I am thinking about right now. It's a more amorphous definition. It's how people see and perceive you (and how you see and perceive yourself): the value you bring to your life, your relationships, your family, your friends, your job, your hobbies and the organizations to which you belong.

It's the hole you would leave if you were no longer there. What defines you in that space? I suppose it also depends greatly on WHO is doing the defining. The definition of ME is different for my son and daughter, and even more different for my husband, my mother, my siblings. And yet again, different for my colleagues, and members of the AIC Malmö, and my best friends. The size of my definition is larger, most likely, for those who have known me longer, who know me better. The depth of my definition is deeper, as well, for those who know my secrets, my dreams, my inspirations.

Maybe we have huge, deep definitions, but other people only see little pieces of them, for certain amounts of time. Little bits of our definition, out on loan, so to speak. And if they don't keep up, those little bits might no longer fit back into the whole of the definition over time, because it morphs and changes, just like we do. It takes a lot of work to keep up with a definition of ourselves. We have trouble with our own; it's no wonder it's difficult to do it for others.

All through our lives, we move in and out of categories, in and out of defined spaces, adding and removing labels and information. We move in and out of other's perceptions: leaving people behind, meeting new ones, losing some, finding others. We age, we change, we learn, we grow, we cease. Once we're gone, we can no longer change our definition; it's fixed in place and up to posterity to update. I guess it matters to influence it as much as we can while we have the chance.