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:
July 10th, 2016
Yeah, I’ve really fallen down on this whole blogging thing. I mean to post every day, but either I’m working or running one or more kids around to some activity or other, and I think to myself, “I’ll write something later”. Then Olof comes home and we deal with dinner and all that stuff, then I get the little girls to bed and do some tidying up or whatnot, then Olof and I sink into the couch with drinks, or snacks, or both, and watch our non-kid-friendly shows until the wee hours and I never get any blogging done.
As of yesterday, however, Olof is on vacation for four weeks. We don’t really have less to do, as my mom’s annual visit starts next Saturday and we’ve also got house stuff to do at both our place and hers, but at least I’ll have some more adult hands to help me out with the day-to-day busy-ness. Maybe I’ll manage to get sat down and post here a little more often.
June 8th, 2016
Tonight is the last night I’ll spend in Uppsala until near the end of August and I’ve been busying myself trying to make sure to pack up everything that I’ll want to have with me at home during that stretch and stuff it into my suitcase. My home wardrobe and my Uppsala wardrobe are entirely different–at home I mostly wear yoga pants and t-shirts due to grubby kid hands and the unreal amount of pet hair, while at work I usually wear dresses–so there isn’t much overlap clothes-wise, but I do need to take some things home to wash. There are also some shoes that I do wear in both places, as well books and papers, of course, and some odds and ends that I’ve picked up over the course of the past months that I don’t want to be without for two-and-a-half months.
I will be back in town briefly next Monday so it would be possible for me to pick up anything that I didn’t manage to cram into my luggage. I don’t want to weigh myself down too much, though, and it would be nice not to have to come by the apartment at all that day. I expect I’ll have to do it anyway, though, as I just now remembered that I my towels are among the things that need to be washed, and I don’t think I’ve got room to pack them this time. Besides, they’ll be wet after I use them tomorrow morning and I’d rather not pack them in that condition. Ah, well … if I do stop by to get them on Monday I’ll at least be able to do a last quick check for forgotten necessities.
June 7th, 2016
Sorry for checking out on you like that. I’ve just been busy, busy, busy, what with the kids’ end-of-school-year stuff and my own travel and trying to wrap up a bunch of different work things before spending the summer at home.
I probably ought to have updated earlier about how Lydia’s doing, but I guess I was in a “no news is good news” frame of mind. She’s been doing mostly fine, though she’s in the middle of yet another medicine change. It seems most likely that one of the medicine’s she was taking was indeed the reason she was feeling so poorly for a few weeks, so they’re switching out that one for a different one. At the moment she’s tapering down the dose of the old medicine and tapering up to a therapeutic level of the new one. So far, so food, but it’s always a pain for her to adjust her medication (something it feels like she’s been doing almost constantly for a few years now).
May 29th, 2016
Clearly I failed in my ambition to post every day this month. I’ve been in Uppsala since last Monday morning and I’ve had a very busy week with little time to think about posting. I’ll do my best to be back at it next week when I’m home for a few days.
May 23rd, 2016
As I was getting ready to leave for the airport this morning, Olof told me that Lydia had called him earlier and wanted him to go out to her house and bring her home. I decided to call her myself to see if there was anything I could do in my limited time still at home, and she sounded very poorly. In addition to feeling very sick and week, she was somewhat panicked by what felt like a repeat of last week’s experience.
At that point, Olof was at least 40 minutes out from her place, and I asked her if she felt as though she needed to go to the hospital again or wait for her dad. She said that I should call for an ambulance, so I did that while trying to hurry into my traveling clothes and put the final touches on my packing. The emergency operator wasn’t especially convinced that a trip to the hospital was necessary, but she took Lydia’s number and said that she would have a nurse call her an evaluate. The nurse was apparently of a different opinion than the operator, because when I talked to Lydia a short time later she said that an ambulance had been dispatched to her house.
As soon as Olof got home from dropping Yrsa at pre-school, we jumped in the car and he delivered me to the airport before continuing on to see to our girl (luckily, the airport is almost exactly halfway between our house and Lydia’s). When he got there the ambulance had already arrived and Olof followed them to the hospital in our car. From there the day seems to have progressed more or less exactly as last time. The episode seems milder, but still bad enough, and I strongly suspect that the increase of one of her medicines is the culprit. She’s got a call in to her neurologist, who I hope–for once–will get back to her in a timely manner.
This afternoon she came back to our house with Olof, where she’ll stay for at least a few days. As you can imagine, she’s very unhappy with the disruption of her life, not to mention the misery of feeling so sick. I hate that I’m away for so long when she’s not feeling well, but I have some things this week that I really can’t miss, and I know that Olof will take good care of her in my stead. Still, though …