January 5th, 2012



The Swedes have a saying about getting a "soft start" on something (mjukstart), which means to ease in gradually. Right now we are having a mjukstart to the year, which we have every year here due to the fact that January 6 is a National Holiday. It's Epiphany, which is a religious holiday in a very non-religious country. In fact, the calendar year is full of national holidays based on the old religious celebrations, though they did take away Whitsun a few years ago, or rather traded it for Sweden's National Day (June 6).

Last year, after January 6 we had 16 work weeks to slog through until the next public holiday. This year it's only 12 thanks to an early Easter. It's really nice having this soft start...I worked this week, though the kids are still off until next Tuesday (their start is even softer!), but today was a half day and tomorrow is the start of a 3-day weekend. It was actually really nice working this week because EVERYONE was on vacation, except my team and we got a lot done and I feel quite a bit more caught up.

The few people who were in the office today had mostly left by lunchtime, but I had lunch at work and left just after 1 pm, driving to Malmö to meet up with my friend Camilla, who is in town for the holidays. I only get to see her at Christmas time and in the summer, and once in awhile in February when she has a school break (she's a teacher) if she comes home to Sweden. We met at the Science Fiction bookstore and had a great time browsing all the shelves though I only bought 2 books, and then we walked around Malmö in the rain, and found shelter in another bookstore (shocking, I know!) and then we made stops at both the English Shoppe and the American Store, before headng to the sushi restaurant where we were meeting Debbie.

The sushi restaurant happens to be owned by a family from Vietnam that used to have a small sushi place inside the Saluhallen (Sale Hall) in Lillatorget (the Little Square) in the center of town. I used to eat sushi there at least once a month before every AWC meeting for YEARS...about 8 years, actually, until they were forced out, along with all the rest of the little delis and restaurants by developers who bought the whole hall and renovated it into a hotel and a TGIFridays. Where a burger costs nearly $45. Yes, seriously.

When they moved from Saluhallen, they told me that they were going to be opening at another location in Malmö, but I misheard the address and couldn't find them, and gave up after awhile. I was bummed because though there are a couple of other sushi places in the same area, near the hotel where we hold our AWC meetings, they are much pricier and frankly, not as good. But since they were all that is nearby, I've been forced to patronize them before the meetings. It's been SIX years since TGIFRidays opened...I can't believe how time flies. I thought it was maybe 4, but I was wrong.

A couple of days before Christmas, Karin and I went into Malmö so I could pick up the last few presents that I needed for Anders' stocking and to even out Martin's pile with Karin's. We ended up parking at Triangeln, a shopping mall near the center, which I rarely visit...I can't remember exactly why I chose to go there, but go there we did, and since I picked up Karin right after an extra practice in the late morning, neither she nor I had eaten lunch so when we got to town and parked, we decided to go eat first and then do the shopping.

I remembered that there was a sushi restaurant down one of the side streets from the mall so we headed in that direction looking for it. No sushi place in sight, so I stopped in a little boutique to ask and they told me the place I had been thinking of had closed a long time ago, but that if we continued up 2 blocks and then turned right there was another one. So we did, and when we walked in the door, who should shout with surprise upon seeing me but the father from my old sushi place in Saluhallen! We chatted for a bit about how things were and I told him how glad I was that I had found them again, since I am rarely in that part of Malmö. Karin and I ate lunch and agreed afterwards that it ranked up there as some of the best sushi we had ever eaten.

So, of course, that's where Camilla and Debbie and I went for dinner. When we got there, both the son and daughter were working, and both of them greeted me with huge smiles, hellos and hugs. Camilla and Debbie thought it was hilarious: I am a sushi celebrity! :D

We had a wonderful meal and sat there for FIVE hours laughing and chatting and catching up and making plans for the next time we'll get together...it was great. I can't think of a better way to start a long weekend: bookstores, sushi, friends and laughter. And the rain stopped while we were in the restaurant, too.

Really Good Writing Out There Right Now: 2011 Lesson #2 : Don’t Carpe Diem

BIG Bodacious Belated Birthday Wishes to ozswede!
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