January 1st, 2017
When I was younger, say from my early teens to my late twenties, the dawning of a new year gave me intense anxiety. I wasn’t worried about the coming year, but I was incredibly bothered by the loss of the year that was. Even at the time I would have had difficulty articulating exactly what it was that troubled me so, and when I think back on it now it hasn’t become any clearer. All I can really say is that both New Year’s Even and New Year’s Day were not easy days for me. I’ve never been particularly good at letting anything go, and the thought that it would never, ever, ever be 1991 again, for example, truly pained me.
For the past very many years I’ve barely given any consideration at all to the flipping over of a new calendar–beyond the dismay that we all feel as we grow older at how quickly time flies. I suppose it would be easy to attribute it to the changes in my life since I moved to Sweden, but I don’t think that’s it, really. Probably a lot of it has to do with my transformation to a type B personality–in which, of course, Sweden certainly plays a role, but I think it’s more just growing up in general.
Well, that and the Zoloft.
December 4th, 2016
It happens very rarely that I’m in Uppsala over a weekend, but I had a full week last week as well as meetings on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m in the middle of a longer trip. I came down last Tuesday morning, and I won’t go home until this coming Tuesday evening. Though I do enjoy the time I spend here, this is just a bit too long (especially considering that I’ll be home for less than a week before coming back down for five days). When I write that out, I realize that it sounds like I’m away more than I’m home, but that’s really not the case. I was in Uppsala for only one week in November, and I’ll be home for a month or so from mid-December. And now it sounds like I’m on the defensive … gah.
Anyway, it’s been a pretty good weekend, even if I would rather have been at home with the husband and the kids and the dogs. Yesterday morning I met up with a couple of friends from work, and we took the train to the gigantic Mall of Scandinavia in Solna. None of us bought very much, but we had a nice time browsing around and did come away with a few things. After we got back to Uppsala I went to the grocery store and stocked up some before spending the rest of the evening lounging around and watching bad TV.
Today I got up late then made a quick trip downtown for a bit more shopping before I went to the office to catch up on some work. I spent several hours there and got quite a bit done. I got back to my apartment around 7:30 and have done a whole lot of nothing in the hours since. I really ought to get some cleaning done, both because a friend-of-a-friend will be staying here next week and because it really just needs to be done, but I always find it something of a losing proposition because there’s simply not enough space here to put everything. I’ve taken advantage of every possible nook and cranny, but there are still piles of clothes and whatnot everywhere I turn. I was thinking just this moment that I might be able to fit a little chest of drawers under the table. Hmm, I’ll have to get out my measuring tape and give that some consideration.
November 30th, 2016
I see that I’d better get something posted today if I don’t want the entire month of November to be blank. I suppose I should address the subject of my last post, from mid-October and say that Asbjørn is doing great some six weeks after his most recent mouth surgery. He ended up having to be anesthetized so that the vet could pull a tooth, and that made it possible for her to cut away the entirety of the mystery growth. At least, I assume it was the entirety, as there’s no sign of it now, even six weeks on. I do notice that he seems to be a little allergic to something, as he’s been snuffling and sneezing and has mildly runny eyes, but he doesn’t really seem to be bothered by it.
I feel like I should have more to say, given how infrequently I’ve been posting this past year or so, but nothing is coming to me. I’d post a picture, but I’m not taking many of those lately, either. I think I’ve been promising my mom snow pictures for weeks now, and though I did take some (back when we still had snow), I never got around to putting them on our server, so showing them here is right out.
I think what I probably need to do is set up some sort of journal-prompt system and just force myself to write. Maybe I’ll make that my December project, and try to get something written every day. Getting back in the habit of writing here might, I hope, give me a kick-start about writing in general. I sorely need that, given that I’m nearly to the halfway point in my Ph.D. program, and that book ain’t gonna write itself.
October 14th, 2016
I haven’t updated recently about … well, about much of anything, I guess, but what’s on my mind at the moment is Asbjørn, so that’s what you’re getting.
After his major health scare last New Year’s Eve, he’s made a remarkable recovery and is still going strong. His liver levels are still an issue, but the vet and I have decided that, apart from feeding him special liver food, we won’t do any more testing or treating. He’s doing fine, and he’s going on 14 years old (!), so there’s really not much point in subjecting him to more indignity than is absolutely necessary. We’re past the stage–and perhaps even the possibility–of heroic measures, so it’s just not worth worrying about.
More pressing is the issue of a persistent growth that he’s got in his mouth, on the upper gum on one side. At first we thought it was an epulis, and at the end of June the vet sedated him and cut as much of it away as she could. It grew back fairly quickly but looked completely different, which made the vet think it might be something other than an epulis. She said she didn’t really want to speculate about what it was, especially given our previous decisions about testing and overly invasive procedures, but she cut the new growth away at the end of August, going all the way down to his jawbone that time.
Now, a month-and-a-half later, the mystery growth has grown again to the size that it’s bothersome for him when he eats so I’ve made an appointment to take him in on Monday morning to have it cut down again. I really would rather not keep doing this–and I’m sure the vet feels the same–but he’s in such good shape otherwise, and the growth bothers him only when it starts getting so big that it’s in the way, so there’s really nothing else to do. I know that, considering his age and other issues, this could all change quickly, but right now he doesn’t seem at all like someone who’s ready to cash in his chips. So, off to the vet we’ll go.
October 11th, 2016
I find myself annoyed by almost everything in my life at the moment which, I’m aware, is not necessarily the ideal condition in which to post a long overdue update, but it is what it is. Most of what’s annoying me I won’t detail here, so as to protect the not-so-innocent, but I will say that, like probably every other American, I am so ready for this election to be over. I am also ready for the time-suck course that I’m currently taking to be over, and I am definitely ready for certain phases in my kids’ development to be over. Most of all, however, I am ready for this day to be over.
September 16th, 2016
Until I started living in Uppsala part-time a year-and-a-half ago, I had never lived by myself. I got married right out of high school, and when that relationship ended I first moved home to my mom’s, then I had roommates for a couple of months before moving in with my next boyfriend. By the time that went south, I had Lydia, so even though I was single for a couple of years, I always had her with me. Over the years I have idly wondered from time to time what it would be like to live completely on my own, but it was never an idea that held much appeal for me. As long as I can remember, I have never liked to be alone. I don’t necessarily want to engage with people all the time, but I like for them to be around. That said, I’ve never been especially social and for most of my life I’ve felt tremendously awkward in social situations. As a younger person, I never made friends easily and it generally took me a long time to get close to new people in my life.
It’s been a complete surprise to me, then, to find myself having turned into a veritable social butterfly over the past few years. People who don’t know me outside my Uppsala context usually don’t believe me if I mention that I’ve really never been a “people person” and that it’s been my habit to actively resist being at the center of any sort of social activity. Down here, I’ve been known to practically strong-arm people into friendship with me, and I can always be counted on for drinks after work or impromptu get-togethers. I’m frequently the driving force behind these kinds of activities and I’m often the life of the party, if I do say so myself. I’m pretty good at small talk these days, and, whether or not I’m seeking them, I seem to make new connections wherever I go. It’s weird.
Many times I’ve attributed this new gregariousness to age and experience. I’ve (mostly) stopped caring what other people think about me, and I don’t much worry about making a fool of myself. While I do think there’s truth to that, I think the more significant factor, by quite a large margin, is my reluctance to be alone. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my own company, because I often do, but I enjoy it more when “alone time” is something I’ve chosen (preferably in my own kitchen, while others in my family are occupied elsewhere in the house), than when it’s imposed upon me. There are plenty of times when there’s nothing going on in Uppsala and I’m left to my own devices when I’m not working. I don’t have trouble finding things to occupy me–I can, and do, read, shop, crochet, watch TV, etc.–but I would so much rather do those things with other people (or dogs, at the very least!) around me if I should feel the need for a bit of interaction.
Either which way, my life in Uppsala is much different from any other life I’ve lived. Or maybe it’s not, really … maybe it’s more that away from my large family in the haven of my own home, I’ve learned to employ other sorts of strategies to re-create the near-constant companionship and activity that I feel most comfortable with. Whatever the reasons, I find that sometimes I don’t recognize my self at all while simultaneously recognizing myself as much as I ever have. Could this be personal growth?
September 11th, 2016
It’s been kind of a rough week for the Tjerngrens, with every single one of us felled by miserable cold. All four of the kids at home missed school the first four days of the week, and even Lydia was home feeling poorly for a couple of days. I went down to Uppsala on Monday morning and figured that I’d miss out on the fun, both because I rarely get sick and I was not in proximity of the germs. I wasn’t so lucky this time, however, and during my few hours of restless sleep on Wednesday I started to see the writing on the wall. I felt like hell on Thursday, but after resting up and drinking copious amounts of tea with honey that evening, I felt some better on Friday. Even so, the pressure in my head made my flight home that evening less than ideal. When I met up with Olof at the airport, I could see that he was starting to feel the effects himself, and the two of us have spent the entire weekend feeling sorry for ourselves and doing our best to foist parenting duties off on the other one.
I think (hope) the kids will go to school again tomorrow. They did all go on Friday, but Petra, especially, was still looking pretty peaky. Tage, too, seems like he might need a bit more rest. The little girls are coughing like crazy, but I think they’re pretty much okay. At this point Olof is probably feeling the worst among us. He has to go to work tomorrow for a couple of meetings, but he says he might come home at lunchtime if he’s not feeling a lot better. As for me, I’ve got quite a bit of work to do this week, but at least most of it is reading, so I can get it done while curled up on the couch with a hot beverage. I’ve had worse jobs.
August 31st, 2016
It occurs to me that if I don’t want an empty month in my archives I’d better get at least a few words up with a quickness. Lots has been happening here, but none of it is inspiring me to put down more than a line or two on Facebook every now and then.
Last Monday, the kids went back to school after a too-long summer break, and once they were all out of the house I made my way down to Uppsala for the first time since early June. I was there until Friday, but it was a weird-ish work week, with a conference taking up Tuesday and Wednesday, a morning-long department meeting on Thursday, and a scheduled flight out in the early afternoon on Friday. On my best weeks, I arrive in Uppsala Monday at lunchtime and am able to get a full week in at the office, then coming back home late in the evening on Friday. I have that sort of arrangement scheduled for next week, and I’m looking forward to being able get some real work done in my official workspace.
July 26th, 2016
The past few days we’ve had full-on summer, with temperatures that are nigh on to unbearable. Today was the third day of high 20s Celsius (low 80s Fahrenheit), and I think all of us feel on the verge of expiring from it. Many of you reading this might scoff at what we consider “hot” (and truth be told, I’d have scoffed myself once upon a time), but please remember that we’re only a couple hours’ drive from the Arctic Circle. Not only that, but the temperatures have been noticeably higher up where we are than they’ve been in “warmer” southern Sweden. It’s not right, I tell you.
The worst is that our house never really cools off and even late at night it’s still as hot or hotter inside as the day’s highest temperature. We do have some fans, but they really don’t help much unless you sit right in front of them, which isn’t especially practical for hours on end. I hear it’s supposed to cool down over the next several days and I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that that forecast holds. If nothing else, I’m heading down to Stockholm for an overnight trip on Thursday, and I should at least be able to cool off ever so slightly while I’m there.
July 13th, 2016
A few months ago Petra’s hair was waist-length and it was such a hassle to keep it washed and combed that my fingers were positively itching to cut it. After some wheedling on my part, she agreed to let me cut off four or five inches, but it was still much longer than shoulder-length. The past little while she’s been talking about getting it cut short and after she had talked about it enough that I felt reasonably certain that she really meant it, Olof and I took her to town on Monday and visited her favorite salon. Her new cut is what I would call a “skater ‘do”, short all around except for a chunk in the middle that’s about six inches long. Apparently she saw a YouTuber with that kind of cut and she was quite taken with it. She was also taken with the blue color of said YouTuber’s long hair, so while we were in town we bought a box of blue hair dye.
Her natural color is pretty dark, so yesterday afternoon I did two rounds of lightening and today we got to the business of bluing. She wasn’t especially happy during the process and she wasn’t pleased AT ALL in the aftermath (she didn’t realize that the color her hair was when it was still wet wasn’t the color it would be when dry), and it took her a couple of hours to settle into her new look. As you can see, however, she’s happy enough now: