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I think I need a Pandora intervention. I listen to in the evenings when I'm on the computer, working on web stuff, or editing or reading blogs or writing journal entries. It's gotten so that the majority of the songs they play are ones that I give a thumbs up to. Pandora has a feature, however, whereby you can bookmark songs you especially like for future reference and I only bookmark songs I've never heard before or that are by artists that are new to me. I suppose the idea is that I should eventually go back and BUY all these songs, or the albums they are on. I have five pages of songs bookmarked. There are 20 songs on each page. That's, er, 100 songs. So far.

Anders left for the States today. He'll be gone for almost a week and a half and will miss Halloween. I am envious as hell, not only because it's been so long since I've been "home" but because I really wish I could take my kids back for a real American Halloween. So with that impetus, the kids and I decided to make our OWN real American Halloween right here on Platanvägen this year. I wrote out a letter to all the neighbors, in Swedish (which Anders only corrected a leeetle tiny bit) and printed out 40 copies along with an image of a grinning jack o'lantern on orange paper and we rolled them up and tied them with a silver ribbon and then the kids and I walked around the neighborhood and left one in the mailbox of every house (with special delivery to the burned-out neighbors who are still technically part of the neighborhood even though they live in temporary quarters a few blocks away). The letter says (roughly):

Howdy neighbors on Platanvägen!
It's Halloween time again!

Halloween is a nice north American tradition which always falls on the 31st of October. It has some similarities to the Swedish Easter witch traditions and one of the nicest parts is naturally "trick-or-treating." That is, the children get dressed up and go around the neighborhood to beg for a little candy or fruit, or perform some little "trick" in order to get it.

This year, I thought it would be nice if all the children on Platanvägen could experience a real American Halloween and wondered if you would like to join in? We are planning to trick-or-treat between 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31st.

If you want to participate, cut out the pumpkin on the attached sheet and put it on your door or mailbox so that the children know they are welcome. If your children want to participate it's fine that they meet up with us at our house at 6 p.m. Call me if you have any questions.

Thanks in advance and Happy Halloween!
Lizardek and family

In other news, did I tell you I yelled at the county representative for native-tongue education on the phone for 20 minutes a couple of weeks ago while I was at work? With my office door open and everything? I was SO MAD. The kids haven't had an English tutor for over 3 years and he apparently thought posting the ad on the county website and the county unemployment site for 14 days and then removing it and not reposting it again for an entire term EVERY TERM FOR 3 YEARS when he didn't get any response was good enough. "We don't get any applicants," he told me.

"Why didn't you just post it again?" I exclaimed. Because, he told me, what if someone applied for the job and he had already found someone? Well, you just told me that you haven't gotten any applicants for 3 years so WHAT FRICKIN DIFFERENCE WOULD IT MAKE?! Also, I told him, that was complete bullshit, since I know 2 people personally who had interviewed last year for the job. One didn't get it, and one never heard anything after the interview. "Uh hrm, no, no, I don't remember those names," he blustered. He told me that they won't hire just anybody either, it has to be a native speaker of English (fair enough) and someone who is a "qualified" teacher. He couldn't qualify "qualified" however, telling me basically that just speaking English wasn't good enough, "you have to know what to do with it and with the kids." Okay...The woman who never heard back after the interview last year is a certified teacher and teaches as an English hemspråk teacher in 2 other counties so there is no good reason why she shouldn't have gotten the job. He gave me no good answer to my question about why the ad wasn't posted in Lund or Malmö, either. ARGH. Talk about frustrating. So, I told him to send ME the damn ad and I would post it with the AWC and see if he got any response from that. So he did. He sent me the the SNAIL MAIL. *rolls eyes*

I posted the ad to the club and had 7 responses from interested people, whom I put in touch with him directly. The thing is, the job SUCKS. It's only 8 hours a week (!) at below-minimum wage, and they only reimburse for the driving you do WITHIN the county itself, not getting to and from it. There are, at this point, 12 children, at 4 different schools, of all different ages from 6 to 15, which means radically different teaching curriculums for each child and the times allotted for this tutoring are after regular school hours which means juggling with schedules and parents and daycare. It's no surprise to me that nobody wants this job. Even if it had been posted where any potential candidates would have seen it, why would anyone want it?!

WELL, thankfully, there are people who need jobs and who think that this is a good foot in the door and that it's a worthy cause for the children. A friend of mine, who will be GREAT at this, interviewed 2 weeks ago, and accepted the job last week. She starts the week after next, and will be at our school for approximately an hour and a half on Tuesdays...until she finds a "real" job anyway. I'm thrilled and resigned at the same time.
mood: busy
music: The Nadas—Life Becomes Me

I fully understand your frustration

...and what's with the below-minimum-wage deal? Are they really allowed to do that?

Re: I fully understand your frustration

They're somehow not entitled to anything because it's such a low amount of hours a week. I don't get it. It's like they deliberately set themselves up for failure (to find applicants) because they don't WANT to pay them.

Re: I fully understand your frustration

Don't want to pay them less than minimum wage? Are they expecting volunteers?

Re: I fully understand your frustration

Apparently, since that's essentially what it boils down to. He told me they have no problem at all finding arabic teachers in the county. There's a "pool" of them. sigh.

Good for you, Liz! And good for Martin and Karin, once things get going. It's such a drag that you had to do everything to make it happen but at least it will happen now and perhaps it won't be as hard to keep it going if/when she finds a "real" job.

It will all start over then, I'm afraid. I can't believe she'll keep this job for long. She has a 40-minute UNPAID drive just to get to the border of the county from where she lives. :( It's not worth it money-wise for her, or anyone, in the long run. *grumbles*

I was nodding quite a bit while reading that. I think there was the occasionaly "Mhm" too. Frustrating and ridiculous, yes. That said, it's good the Native Language exists at all. It doesn't exist here and I'm now wondering why not.

I'm wondering why not, too, with the high concentration of expats in Holland. Start a movement!

If Halloween weren't on a work night I'd totally be hanging out in your neighborhood! I really hope you get a good response.

And that is really good news that you're getting a hemspråk teacher, even if only until something better comes along for her. (Anyone I know, by the way?)

Yep :) She's in choir with us.

You're in Sveeeden now! You can't call it Derring-do!

It's (drumroll) HERRING-DO!

Yay me!

Good for you that you were assertive and insistent. They really want a lot of bang for their buck though. What a creepskate. That's amazing that there are 12 children who have english as a mother tongue in your community.

He actually told my friend that he thinks there are more (and I know of 2 that aren't in her program) out there in our kommun, but you have to actually fill out a request form for it, or you won't be in the system. I hope they can drum up some more kids!

i find it really interesting that you have such a program at all. i don't think i've ever heard of anything like that here - it's always "english as a second language" and if you want to learn to read and write your native language, well, your family had better teach you because no one else will. unless it happens to be spanish or another language commonly taught to american kids.

I know, I think it's an awesome thing about living in Sweden. It's required by LAW if there are 5 children in the county whose parents have asked for native-tongue tutoring for them in any one language for the country to provide it. One of the counties further south of us has over 15 languages!

a real halloween! so cool!

and good for you for doing a little yelling...doing some yelling usually gets things done in this country!! ;)


Oh I hope you get a fabulous response! That sounds like a delightful idea! WHo doesn't like halloweeen, really??

Hello! It's been a while that I posted under this name, but I recently decided to go back to my old username (and it feels nice!) and was wondering whether you coupld please add this journal again?:) Feel free to remove dauwdruppel if you like to keep your list shortish, I for now don't intend to write much in there anymore. Thankies:)

Btw, I LOVE your idea for helloween! I hope a lot of people respond and will participate. That'd be so neat.
So your kids will be able to get some english lessons at school again? That'd be nice.

They had their first lesson today and both got books to write :)

Yeah for getting a teacher!

Man am I happy that this entry ended well because I was boiling mad. I can't even imagine how pissed you were. I hope the tutoring goes well and the chemistry with the kids is good.

I was steaming after it happened. I was SO PISSED! I still get agitated thinking about it.

*simmers down*

I'm glad you've calmed down . . . perhaps I might start breathing normally here in a second too. Fucking hell! If that man has a boss, you need to speak to him/her. I can't live with that kind of incompetence in the world.

Yay!!! The home language saga comes to a happy ending. I'm very proud of you for making it happen.

What an excellent idea to get your neighbors involved in Halloween, BTW. I might steal it in a few years... :)

Remind me, and I can send you the letter/pumpkin that we used, and you can adapt it. :)

Hi Liz

Just had lunch and a walk in sunny 18C w/ Anders. Nice to catch up "electronically" with the family. He showed me your blog so we could see the funny photos of the kids. Say "hi"!

Also, please try out my local radio station and let me know what you think. No commercials, excellent DJ's. We are founding members and donate regularly.

Hey doe,

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lizardek's obiter photos
lizardek's obiter photos

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Abraham Lincoln

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