It snowed

It snowed on Tuesday. A tiny bit. Almost not worth mentioning. Tiny flakes; none of them actually stayed on the ground. For two blissful hours, the lovely white drifted down from the gray-blue sky, tossed about by the strong winds, and died before it hit the pavement, yes, but lifted my spirits nevertheless.
I watched “Lawless”, which was much better than I had anticipated. To give you an idea: a bond between three brothers, Virginia during prohibition, bootlegging, guns, violence. Also, Tom Brady. It sounds too easy, too predictable, and yet it’s fast-paced with a few unexpected turns and I would absolutely watch it a second time.

I’m going home tomorrow. I plan on spending as much time with my family as I can this Christmas season, making the most of my being unemployed. This means a lot of traveling back and forth by train and I just hope that the entire network of German railway won’t just break down as it tends to do as soon as it gets colder outside.

The end of November and NaBloPoMo has killed any inspiration for blogging I may have had (which is the opposite of what I had hoped would happen) so I don’t know when I’ll come back and write here. Expect photo posts, rather than words. And send me snow, if you’re lucky enough to have any.


In a town far, far away

The top image is one of my favorite photos. It was taken near my Swedish “hometown”, Jönköping. It shows the E4 motorway, running past the city and north along Lake Vättern, all the way to Stockholm. This part of it, as you can see, is all: beautiful rocks on one side, beautiful lake on the other. The road just snakes through the gorgeous Swedish landscape, past red wooden houses and endless forests and too many lakes to count, and every once in a while it hits a city. Every time I went back to Sweden, I flew into Stockholm-Skavsta airport and took a long-distance bus south to Jönköping and I teared up every time I recognized the familiar rocks and the lake, and the lights of Jönköping in the distance, reflected on the water. (One day I will tell you about the magic of those bus rides. I’m not saying “magic” sarcastically, either.)

The reason I’m talking about Jönköping again is that it’s been snowing there, and my friends have very loyally provided me with photos and recounts of how wonderful it is and how much they wish I could be there with them.

And then I died of heartbreak.

And found that Jönköping’s tourism office runs an Instagram account just for the city which is where all the above images are from. So I’ll be checking that obsessively, and so should you maybe.

(All images: /jkpg on Instagram)

Gray day II

Today was so much like yesterday that I felt a bit like an extra in Groundhog Day. I read “Gone Girl” until 3am or so and then slept in late until past noon. The roommate, meanwhile, has been running to the bathroom at least once an hour for the past two days. Last night, she started throwing up. She’s not eating, only staying hydrated. I tried my best. Ran to the pharmacy, got her soup, kept the noise down, stayed out of her way. Stayed in bed myself. Went to the park again. Baked apples for supper which you should all try because baked apples are delicious.

NaBloPoMo is almost over and, surprisingly, I did blog every single day but I feel like I cheated. I didn’t always post on time, for one thing. And then half the posts are just like this one: short sentences, random moments, daily non-sense. By contrast, many of you out there have been doing a fantastic job blogging your hearts out this month. Congrats on that to you!

A whole lotta love

So much love on Facebook today. Reconnecting with old friends from high school. Which- isn’t that what they built Facebook for in the first place? We do this every time around Christmas. We ask around: Will you be back home for Christmas? I’ll get there the 22nd. Alright. Let’s figure out where to meet, what to do, who else will be there. It’s nice. I like friends who are good with only actually physically meeting up once or twice a year and still don’t feel like strangers.

Have also been planning when to send Christmas cards and who to send them to. I’m not a very social, out-going person. I like being by myself, I’m more comfortable that way, but sometimes it can feel lonely. Making my list of people I’ll be sending cards to, I realized I could never really be lonely at all and that there would always be someone there with a kind word or a helping hand if I needed it.

Got an email from an old friend from high school who lives in Brussels now so I don’t get to see her enough. It’s the invitation to her wedding (in court, the big blow-out will be next year) and at the bottom – seriously, tucked away at the very bottom, in small letters – it says: Pssst, we are expecting a tiny German-Moroccan! I read that about five times to understand that, yes, they’re having a baby. Emailed back. OVERJOYED. They are the best people, you guys, and they will make the best parents. I don’t say this lightly or often – I have very strict, broken, unreasonable views on who should get married or start a family that I mostly keep to myself – but these two are made to raise a family. The little one is due in May, right on time for the big church wedding.

And more roommate love today as well. Went for a long walk to the nearest city park and talked and laughed. Mostly planned her moving out early next year; what we need to think of, what stuff she will take with her, when I need to start looking for a new roommate. It was lovely. Just- Nike sweatpants, infinity scarfs, ponytails, windbreakers. Cold air, dry leaves, setting sun. So much beauty in these little details, little moments, it’s almost too much.

A Monday

I slept in late today. I Skyped with my parents. I called my grandma. I Googled for job ads. I had soup. I listened to Christmas music. I had another appointment with the job counselor (attendance is one of the conditions for my getting welfare). I went to the mall and bought “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn because people on Twitter have been raving about it. I also bought a Cologne-themed Advent calendar for the roommate and I because it was on sale and it makes our kitchen festive.

We have been watching the Harry Potter movies together – at a pace of about one a week – and are now down to the final two. Planned on watching part one of The Deathly Hallows last night. Realize it’s on BluRay, and neither of us can play BluRay on our ancient TVs and regular DVD players. Ask guys upstairs for tech support. They say they’re not home but roommate #3 will let us in, just take the giant flatscreen TV and Playstation. Okay. March upstairs, explain situation to their confused girl roommate. Navigate through used boxers and socks and empty Coke bottles and Pringles cans and past the laptop on the bed with the toilet paper and the lube next to it (not gonna judge) (still not the prettiest sight, though). Carry giant expensive TV down two stories to our place. Hook up Playstation. Test run. It works! Put in disc. Cuddle into bed. Watch. BluRay is awesome, man, holy crap. So is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We’re never giving back the TV or the Playstation, we decide. If only to avoid going back into the man cave upstairs.

Goodbye autumn, I hardly knew ya

Christmas markets open in Cologne tomorrow and with that winter is officially here. All the major squares around the city will be crowded with little huts covered in fake snow, Santas and Rudolphs climbing up their roofs, and the smells of all the delicious foods will be everywhere. I cannot wait for the first Glühwein of the season; my freezing hands wrapped around the hot cup, cheeks red from the cold and the wine and the joy all around me.

But I’m also a little sad to say goodbye to fall. It came and went in the blink of an eye. I love the colors of fall, days getting shorter and colder, the late September sun, my birthday, cozy nights at home – all of it – and somehow this year it all passed me by without my really noticing or appreciating the season.

All the more reason to dive head first into winter, then, and make the most of it before my favorite half of the year is already over again!

A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor

Something’s come up. A potential part-time/freelance job opportunity. Doing work that I’m good at and that kiiind of makes sense in the greater picture of my career. More sense than being unemployed, certainly. It’s paid horribly with zero benefits, and so, financially speaking, it’s actually worse than being on welfare. On all other counts – from feeling like a productive member of society to minimizing the hole on my resume to getting back into a normal routine and out of the house – it’s of course better than welfare. So I’m anxious about negotiating details and hopefully have this work out and be a first step back in the right direction.

It’s just- This sounds like great news only because I can’t really get into the specifics of it (and let’s keep in mind that it’s not a done deal yet). It is better news than no job at all. But it’s not what was supposed to happen; what I so desperately wanted to have happen: to graduate, do an internship or two, and find a job with some security (freelancing is quite the opposite). Without months and months of worrying while hunting for full-time jobs, and eventually ending up on welfare because money had run out in the meantime. It’s not what my my parents expected of me and it’s not how things turned out for any of my friends.

Now that this opportunity has come up completely out of the blue – via email from a former employer, unsolicited by me – it is easier to see things a little more positive, though. I suppose when nothing is certain, everything is possible. And sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. After all, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. (Then again, too rough a sea might just kill the sailor so I’m crossing my fingers that this, at least, does indeed turn out to be good news!)

(Image source: labelleviegirl)

If I could live anywhere…

I want to move to Sweden before I turn 27. I am 24 right now. I don’t have a job, neither here in Germany, nor, of course, in Sweden. I have not yet looked into the details of what emigration to Sweden might mean (I’m talking work and residence permits, insurance issues, tax and social security stuff both there and in Germany) and I have not saved up any money. I am also still far from being fluent in Swedish. In other words, I am not ready to move there right now – not at all. This is why I’m giving myself three years to plan and prepare.

Today, this is all I have: my love for Sweden and the irrepressible urge to live there. (Reasons should be fairly obvious by now. Feel free to browse this blog and read future posts, and you’ll know what I love most about Sweden.) When I think of what I want my life to look like 5 or 10 years from now, the only thing I’m certain about is that I want to live in Sweden. There will be setbacks and complications and everyday life in Sweden won’t be as magical as spending half a year there as a student. I know these things. I still think life in Sweden would be a better base for me to become happy than life in Germany (or anywhere else), and I’ve thought so for two years now. So I’m going to take that step.

My plans may change again between now and 2015, of course. I couldn’t possibly say whether or not I will still feel that strong urge to be in Sweden three years from now. But I always do things on a whim; I wait until I feel like it and take action only then; I hesitate and don’t see the point of planning ahead; I’m scared of setting goals because it means risking failure. This time, I want things to be different.

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite Swedish words: glansdagar, meaning glory days. Let’s just say that’s very fitting for my plans and ignore the risk of failure, alright?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

(Graphic source: Marcus Eriksson)