September 28th, 2015
Last Wednesday morning I went to Uppsala, thinking it would be just another routine trip but, oh, how wrong I was. I’d been battling a slight cold for a couple of days and even considered briefly just staying home and calling in sick to work, but since I’m very seldom bested by a cold, I soldiered on. I felt worse as the day progressed, but still figured it wasn’t much of anything and after lying down for an hour or so after work, I walked down to the grocery store for some provisions.
I should have figured I was sicker than I thought when I had to stop twice to rest on the way back to my apartment, but my place is at the top of a long, steep hill and I was loaded down with grocery bags, so I guess I thought I was just tired. When I got home, I watched a little TV and ate a bit, then went to bed around ten-thirty. And that’s when things got fun.
I spent the whole long night tossing and turning and sweating like crazy, and before too long I was having a hard time catching my breath, even just coming back to bed from using the bathroom. I was full on wheezing on both the inhale and exhale, and just sitting up to take a drink of water was exhausting. I realized some time in the morning that I wasn’t going to make it to work, so I texted Astrid, my office-mate, and then collapsed back into bed, arising for real only around three o’clock in the afternoon. I thought I still might make it out to an after-work with some other Ph.D. students, but when I discovered that I hadn’t the energy even to fully rinse my hair in the shower, I was quickly dispelled of that notion.
After my rather inefficient hair-wash, I staggered back to the couch, took five or ten minutes to catch my breath, and made a desperate call to Olof. I was so sick and tired and on the verge of panic that as soon as I heard his voice I started crying and pleading with him to come down to Uppsala and get me. That was the height of impracticality, of course, but he did the next best thing and placed a call to the medical advice line, where he was told to have me call the local number in Uppsala. I did as I was told, and upon hearing my voice and my ragged efforts to breathe, the nurse made me an appointment with the urgent-care clinic.
So, to make a long story a tiny bit shorter, I took a cab down to the clinic, where the doctor ordered two breathing treatments and a round of quick-acting cortisone. The verdict, after a blood test, was bacterial bronchitis, so I was sent home with antibiotics, more cortisone, and a pack of asthma inhalers. I had a much better night that night and even managed to drag myself to work the next day (though mostly because the thought of spending another miserable day on my own in the apartment was just to much to bear). I got through Friday thanks mostly to the sympathy and attentiveness of Astrid, who even made a special trip to the pharmacy before coming to the office to bring me some cough drops. Later that evening I came back home, feeling so sick and worn-out that I didn’t even bother to tidy up my apartment or pack more than my purse and my medicine.
After a couple of days I’m feeling quite a lot better, if not quite back to 100%. This is pretty bad timing, as I’m back to Uppsala tomorrow, then on to Tallinn, Estonia on Thursday for a conference. There were a couple of days there when I thought I might have to give all that a miss, but I think I’ll manage it after all. I’ve been really looking forward to this trip, so I’m really counting on my immune system to do me a solid and keep me on the path to wellness. And if not, well, there’s always drugs …
September 15th, 2015
I feel like it’s going to take me a little while to get back into the swing of managing my two separate lives. I am highly disorganized at the moment and can hardly keep track of whether I’m coming or going these days. The bad thing with the kind of commute I do is that I’m always living in a kind of flux state, never feeling completely settled in wherever I am. Oh, I do well enough with the emotional part, but the practicalities are another matter. It seems that I’ve always left this book, or that pair of shoes, or whatever it is I need, at the other place.
I’m currently in the midst of packing to go down to Uppsala in the morning, and am giving myself no little anxiety about which books to take with me. I’ve got plenty of shelf space in my new office, but books are heavy and my luggage allowance is not, so I’ve got to be discriminating. At the rate I’m going, my Ph.D. program is going to be finished by the time I’ve managed to get all my books down there, and I’ll have to rent a truck to bring them all back home.
September 5th, 2015
When we started the Ph.D. program last spring, all of the first-years, according to department custom, shared an office, charmingly referred to as “the incubator.” It’s a fine enough space and it easily accommodated the three of us, but we always felt somewhat outside the action, not least because the room is outside the corridor where the “real” staff have their offices. Also isolating was the fact that, due to the key-card security system, we always had to keep our door closed, so we were very set apart from the comings and goings around the department.
We had expected to move to our permanent offices in January or February, when the new crop of Ph.D. students will start, but due to some space opening up ahead of time, we were able to move out of the incubator last week. Johan, our third office mate, had already set up shop in his new office, and when we got the green light on Thursday afternoon, Astrid and I wasted no time getting ourselves installed in our new room. There are still some things to be done, but I think it looks pretty good for the work of just an hour or two.
September 3rd, 2015
Some of my readers may have noticed that for the past week or two this page was unavailable. It was something to do with the domain renewal and transfer of renewal rights/responsibilities, techy-techy-blah-blah-blah. In any case, I am back in business again, and this shouldn’t happen again for at least a year. Stay tuned for further updates of the real-life variety …
(Also, it bears pointing out that Astrid is the best, most awesome office mate ever. She makes coming to work a pleasure every day that I’m here.)
August 23rd, 2015
I know that when I last wrote I said that summer was on the wane, but it’s looking like Mother Nature forgot to pencil that in on her calendar. After a largely unremarkable June and July, during which we had a goodly portion of rain and temperature mostly topping out at the high teens Celsius (mid-sixties F), I figured that was as good as we were likely to get (though, truth be told, that was good enough for me; I’m no fan of the heat and we did get a good bit of sunshine). The last couple of days before my mom went were sunny and warm-ish, but there was a definite nip in the air telling us that fall was soon on its way.
A little over a week ago, however, all of that changed and we’ve had a long stretch of cloudless blue skies and HOT temperatures. For each of the past nine or ten days the mercury has risen to at least 25° C (77° F), with some days getting even hotter. Now that may not seem like much to many of you, but believe me when I say that it’s very warm up here in northern Sweden, even at high summer, and for late August it’s nearly unheard of. Not only that, but there has been no hint of an autumn chill in the air and we’ve seen nary a drop of rain for going on two weeks.
Yesterday Petra had a soccer game in a town about a half-hour north of here, and those poor girls were positively roasting. They had a large bucket of cold water on the sidelines and they took turns dipping sponges in it and mopping themselves down when they weren’t out on the field. Their usual energy was very obviously sapped by the heat and by the looks on their faces, none of them was enjoying herself too much. After Petra and I came home, we loaded everybody in the car and drove out to the beach, where the kids spent a good two hours just lounging around in the water.
Today I offered to let Yrsa take her bath in the tub out on the porch, but she immediately declined what is usually a great treat with the explanation that the sun was just too hot. Poor Olof, who’s in the middle of dismantling said porch so that we can have the drainage re-done on the house later this fall, can manage only short periods of time working out in the direct sun before he’s totally exhausted.
It’s really too bad that none of this happened during the actual summer, when everybody was on vacation, but you take what you can get. At least, when it does come along, we won’t spend the autumn bemoaning our lack of real summer.
August 16th, 2015
I suppose I’ve been neglecting this space long enough, and now that the summer is winding down it’s time to get back into (semi-)regular posting. After spending five weeks with us, my mom left on Friday evening to go back home to Texas. The kids start school this coming Thursday, and in a couple of weeks I’ll go back to Uppsala for the first time in nearly two months. Even though I’m not especially looking forward to the chaos of getting us all back into the swing of things, I’m eager to get back to a more organized work schedule and start making some progress on my research.
While my mom was here we didn’t do as much as we often do, partly because the weather hasn’t exactly been fantastic, but mostly because we had other chores keeping us busy. I know I’ve been remiss in not mentioning it earlier, but at the beginning of the summer, my mom and her husband bought a vacation house just a couple of blocks from our place! It’s a nice little house, built in 1930 and mostly not updated since then, which of course means that it needs a fair bit of work. The Swedish summer shut-down was a source of some frustration to my mom when we were trying to get workmen out to look at various things and give us estimates, but we did manage to get an electrician, a roofer/carpenter, and a chimney guy in during the last few days she was here. We’re hoping to be able to get all the big stuff done before her visit next summer, and seeing as we have nearly a year I don’t imagine it will be too much trouble. Nothing much happens in Sweden in July, but most people are plenty productive the rest of the year.
July 27th, 2015
It appears I’m taking something of a vacation from my blog. In case you’re wondering, this is the sort of thing we’ve been up to, weather permitting.
July 19th, 2015
Petra made her entry into the world, eleven days past her estimated due date and weighing in at a hefty 9 pounds, 1 ounce (4135 grams). We celebrated her day with presents in the morning, a family bowling excursion in the afternoon, and two Splatoon cakes served with homemade peanut butter ice cream in the evening. She told me just before she went to bed that she thinks it may be the best birthday she ever had.
July 10th, 2015
So Tage will be thirteen next month (I know, I can’t even with the passage of time) and that means, according to family tradition and Swedish law, that he’ll be able to open his own bank account. To do so, he needs to have an ID card, so Olof and I took him to the police station this afternoon to apply for one. He’s very much looking forward to being able to handle his own banking, as well as to the rather significant increase in allowance he’ll be getting. Up until they’re teenagers, our kids get a small weekly allowance that gets slightly larger at each birthday, but once they get their own accounts, we switch to giving them a larger monthly allowance and making it their responsibility to buy more of their own “necessities”.
In Lydia’s case, most of those necessities were related to clothing and cosmetics, but I’m guessing that Tage’s money will go mostly toward electronics and assorted game paraphernalia. He’s not at all into clothes, and we do continue to provide the basics as far as wardrobe and toiletries are concerned, so I can’t really think of anything that we buy for him now that we won’t keep on buying. He’s always been a pretty good saver, so maybe he’ll stash away some cash and be able to buy himself something extra good before too long. I know that he’s got his eye on a new Android phone, among other things.
July 6th, 2015
In one week I’ll be down in Uppsala again, this time with my mom. She arrives next Sunday for her yearly month in Sweden, and we’ll be meeting at the Stockholm airport like we did last year and taking a leisurely five-day road trip to get us home. Since I have my place in Uppsala this year, we’ll stay there the first couple of nights and save on hotel costs, then pick up a rental car and head for parts north.
We had a lot of fun doing this last year and I’m pretty excited that we’ll be doing it again. It gives us a chance to have a good chunk of time just for us before the horde of eager children descends upon her and monopolizes all of her time, and it’s also nice for her to see more of the country where she’s spent rather a lot of time the past several years. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is missing five nights of our glorious northern daylight. I just can’t get enough of it, and I’m sad that there are only a few weeks left before it starts getting dark again. I took this picture just a few minutes ago, not long before one in the morning. I will never stop marveling at this.