October 19th, 2014
So, it took me only a week after getting home from Stockholm to unpack my suitcase and put it away. If nothing else, that should tell you how the week has been. It wasn’t a bad week, really, just a busy and hectic one.
The conference last weekend was great, with plenty of interesting papers and discussions and, best of all, terrific people. I had the change to catch up with some friends and also to meet quite a few new, interesting people. Believe it or not, historians can be a lively bunch (particularly when the drinks start flowing!). My friend, Astrid, and I bunked together in a “cozy” (read “small and windowless”) room at a hostel in the middle of the city, and it was fun to get that old dormitory feeling for a couple of days. I tried to talk her into getting an apartment in Uppsala with me in the event we both get Ph.D. spots starting in the spring, but I’m not sure she was as keen on the idea as I was. I’ll keep working on her, though.
Speaking of the Ph.D. business, again, my proposal for the country house project is due on Tuesday and I’m fairly pleased with what I’ve got so far. I’m going to try to finish it up tomorrow, between school prep, a dentist appointment for Yrsa, and orchestra practice for Tage, so that I have only to give it a quick run-through on Tuesday before sending it to the university. I’m also thinking about submitting an abstract for a conference in England next May, so I need to get that written up as well.
I’ve been thinking some, too, of what I’ll do with my time if I don’t get a Ph.D. spot, and I’ve decided that I’ll take a course in either French or German. I studied French in my undergraduate days, stopping just two credits shy of a minor, and I still read it almost passably. It’s been so many years, though, that I think I’d probably start in a beginner’s class. I haven’t got any German at all, so that’d be a beginner’s course as well. I haven’t decided yet which I’d prefer to study, but in the end it will probably come down to which is more easily available. I could take either one as a distance course, but I’m thinking I might prefer to travel down to Umeå instead, as I think language is more easily learned face-to-face. What I’m really hoping, of course, is that all of this consideration will have been for nothing, and that I’ll be beginning the Ph.D. position. It is good, though, to have a bit of a contingency plan in place.
October 9th, 2014
The week before last I got my first summons for a mammogram, scheduled for yesterday morning at 9:30. It was surprisingly good timing, as not only was I home that day, but the appointment was late enough that I had time to get the kids off to school before I needed to leave myself. The only real glitch was that Yrsa is home on Wednesdays, but that was easily enough solved by Olof’s suggestion that I drop her by his office before continuing to the radiology department for the test.
Like most women, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about mammograms over the years, so I was anticipating the procedure with a bit of dread. I needn’t have worried, however, as it was relatively painless. It was a little strange and uncomfortable, to be sure, but not even really close to what I’d call painful. Even better, it was a quick process and I was in and out of the exam room in ten minutes flat. I’ll get the results within a couple of weeks, they say, and then I shouldn’t have to think about it again for another two years.
That chore out of the way, I went back to Olof’s work to pick up Yrsa, and the two of us had a cup of not-so-great coffee before my girl and I left him to carry on with his day. We had some hours to spare, and I was craving a cup of decent coffee, so the two of us stopped by Stig’s, a regular fika favorite of ours, and treated ourselves to drinks and pastries before returning home.
All in all, it was a much better morning than I’d feared it might be when I got out of bed.
October 7th, 2014
Gah. This project proposal for the Ph.D. application is stressing me out beyond belief. You’d think I could whip out six pages in nothing flat, especially considering that my proposed topic isn’t too far removed from my master’s thesis, but it’s just not coming easily. I know that most of the problem is that there’s so much at stake and I’m feeling an incredible amount of pressure to make every single word sing out my worthiness of acceptance to the program. I’ve got about half of what I need written and I’m sure I’ll be ready, one way or another, to submit it next week, but like I keep saying, it’s going to be a long, long couple of months until December.
September 30th, 2014
Headed off in an hour or so to fly down south for a meeting in Stockholm tomorrow morning, then I’ll hopefully be able to attend a presentation by a fellow Early Modern Studies-alum and current Ph.D. student in the afternoon before winging my way home tomorrow evening. These whirlwind trips aren’t my favorite, as the travel always seems a lot to go through for just one night away, but I know my familiy prefers it if I’m gone as little as possible.
Next week will be a longer trip, with me leaving Thursday evening and not coming home until late Sunday. That should be a busy few days, and I’m very much looking forward to rubbing elbows with historian types during the conference. As I think I mentioned before, I’ll be acting in the role of conference assistant, helping to make sure internet connections and Power Points and the like run smoothly, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not too taxing for my Luddite brain.
In between these two trips I really do need to sit down and get my research plan(s) for my Ph.D. applications written out. I’ve got it all pretty much worked out in my brain, but there’s precious little on paper as of yet. Today another position at Uppsala University was announced, a directed study within the Country House project that I wrote my thesis within, and I’m feeling much more optimistic about my chances with that one than with the others I wrote about before. I will still apply for the others, of course, but it does feel good that the opportunities are somewhat less limited than they were a week ago!
September 28th, 2014
Poor Brynja is having a rough time adjusting to the kindergarten life. After her three very successful years at pre-school, we didn’t anticipate her having many difficulties with the new school, and indeed, she had been looking forward excitedly to the new milieu for a good many months before she started at “the big school” a little more than a month ago. Change is always hard, of course, but after just a couple of weeks we realized that what she was facing was more than the normal growing pains.
The crux of the problem, I think, is a serious personality conflict between her and her teacher. Readers who know our girl are already aware that she has no little amount of stubbornness in her, and I’ll be the first to admit that it takes a special sort of finesse sometimes to get her to go along with things. Her teacher, for whatever reason, is either unable or unwilling (or perhaps some combination of these) to employ that finesse, and the result has been an unhappy and uneasy six-year-old.
According to the prevailing system here in Sweden–which I normally think is a good one–she’ll have the same teacher for three years, which means that this isn’t just something to be got through for a short time. Two or three weeks ago we approached with the principal the idea of moving Brynja to a different classroom with a teacher we’re familiar with and are confident would be a much better fit, but so far we’ve been met with resistance. I talked with the teacher early last week and we traded some ideas about how we might fix the situation, but I am not at all convinced that it can be fixed to all of our satisfaction.
Not getting the answers I wanted, I turned things over to Olof, who has arranged to meet with the teacher face-to-face this coming week. I expect he’ll be more successful than I’ve been, being both a native Swede and a man. (I hate that the world works this way, but I can’t deny that it does.) Further, that stubborn streak in Brynja comes directly from him, and I’ve yet to meet the person who’s managed to sway him once he’s got his back up about something. Here’s hoping, then, that once he’s got to work here, Brynja’s days in that classroom will be numbered.
September 21st, 2014
It’s been a while, I know. This past week has been very busy for me, in a good way, and I haven’t had much time to sit an organize my thoughts into a coherent post.
I had thought that when school started up this fall I’d be much less busy than I’d been for the past two years, but happily it hasn’t turned out that way. I have to give a big shout-out to the Research Node in Early Modern Cultural History at Uppsala University, which takes a genuine interest in finding and creating opportunities for us members, even when we’re “between projects”, as I am now. Last week I spent a few days in England as a representative of the node at a conference concerning travel and the country house, and next month I’ll be working in Stockholm as a host for a conference titled “Visualising Difference: Objects, Space and Practice in Early Modern Europe”. These conferences are helping me keep my head in the game, so to speak, and the occasions to network and encounter new ideas are invaluable. Neither of these opportunities would have come my way without the engagement of the node and its research director, and I am very grateful not to have been cast unceremoniously into the wind after my thesis was defended.
It’s been especially good for me to get my thinking cap on now, as it’s time to apply for Ph.D. positions. The two I’m looking at now are in Uppsala and Stockholm. The competition is going to be stiff — off the top of my head I can think of at least six or seven other people who will submit strong applications, and there will surely will be applicants I don’t know as well — but I’m trying not to discourage myself. I’ve been working on my proposal (for now mostly in my head), and I feel confident that I’ll have a solid research plan to send in with my application next month. Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t daunted. My classmates and I had hoped that there would be more positions available than just the one at each university (these aren’t the only positions in Sweden, of course, but I’m rather limited when it comes to travel and relocation), but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. In any case, I remain cautiously optimistic, but it’s going to be a long three months until December when the offers are made.
September 10th, 2014
Anybody who knows my husband will not be surprised to read that he harbors strong feelings concerning matters technological. He’s fervent in his anti-copyright stance, fully committed to open-source programming, and a proud member of Sweden’s Pirate Party. Our home is a no-Microsoft, no-Apple zone (apart from Lydia’s personal devices–a parent’s convictions hold minimal sway over an adolescent’s eagerness to follow the herd). Our computers are Linux machines on which our kids play Minetest rather than Minecraft and, apart from two ill-fated ventures to the darkside of Sony Ericsson, our mobile phones have always been Nokias.
I have loved my Nokia phones, particularly the 808 Pureview that I bought at its release two years ago and recently replaced with a new one of the same model. The camera is every bit as amazing as the ads claimed, and it’s a good performer all the way around. A couple of months ago, however, I found myself increasingly annoyed by the fact that, being neither an iPhone nor an Android, my beloved 808 does not allow me access to the wonders of Instagram and the like. I can be something of a herd animal myself, and I hated missing out on the mainstream delights of social media on the go.
In July, unable to bear the exclusion any longer, I gave in to peer pressure and bought a cheap Samsung Android. My Nokia is still my main phone, from which I do all my calling and texting, as well as the bulk of my picture-taking, but the Samsung lets me participate to a much larger degree on Instagram (we do have a USB-Android stick that I could use from my desktop, but that, of course, took the “insta” right out of Instagram). It also gives me good access to Facebook and Twitter when I’m not at home, and I’ve even been known to send a snap now and then to my two Snapchat friends.
So, all things considered, I’m satisfied with my foray into tech-conformity, even if my husband finds it a little ridiculous. If forced to choose only one of the phones, I’d stick with the Nokia–no question–but it’s nice to have more options now. Feel free, if you’d like, to follow me wherever you can find me (I’m beverlyrevelry everywhere), and I’ll be happy to return the favor. When playing conformist, after all, one can never have too many fellow travelers.
September 7th, 2014
Brynja took this picture of Yrsa this afternoon. I love everything about it, even Yrsa’s dirty face.
September 5th, 2014
Like all of my daughters, I had a head full of curls when I was small. Also like them, once past those early years my hair was straight as a pin. From the time I was probably three or four until I was twelve, I never had more than the very ends trimmed off, so when in seventh grade I came home from my first trip to the beauty salon with a shoulder-length mass of frizzy, decidedly un-straight tresses, I was forced to reconsider pretty much everything I thought I knew about my hair.
In the years since that first fateful cut, my hair’s refusal to lie flat has been alternately a source of pride and wonder and the bane of my existence. I think I would have been happy enough with either truly straight or truly curly hair, but what I was left to deal with was stuck in some ill-defined middle ground — less than curly, more than wavy, and anything but tidy. In my adolescence and through most of my adulthood I straightened my hair by various means neither kind nor especially successful, and the vast majority of days I pulled it back in a ponytail or bun, mostly just to avoid dealing with it.
Some years ago I first heard about the “curly girl method”, and though I was intrigued, I couldn’t be bothered to devote so much time and energy to something that I figured probably wouldn’t work anyway. Plus, the idea of tossing out my shampoo and washing my hair with only conditioner just grossed me right out. Even after shampooing, I seldom used conditioner as it left my hair feeling weighed down and just this side of greasy, so I figured exclusively using conditioner would be a recipe for disaster. Also, I was put off by the nickname “no-poo” for shampoo-free cleansing; I hate cutesy shit like that.
But, but. For whatever reason, earlier this summer I was struck again by the idea of trying to make the most of my curls so I started checking out the web for ideas. The before-and-after pictures of women who’d embraced the curly-girl way of life were enough to make me decide to give it a go. And since it was summer and I didn’t have much in the way of social engagements, I reckoned that any disastrous results could be easily enough concealed from the public, so I did my last shampoo wash the last week of July and embarked on what I hoped wasn’t a fool’s errand.
The first order of business was to examine the labels on all my hair-care products and throw out anything that contained sulfates and/or silicones, find an “approved” conditioner, and dig out a micro-fiber towel (terrycloth is the kryptonite of curly hair, apparently). In the past six weeks or so, I’ve progressed to ever more advanced tricks including, but not limited to, slathering my hair in aloe vera “sunburn” gel, sleeping with my hair in a ridiculous topknot-type ponytail, and resting my head on nothing but a pure silk pillowcase. And you know what? It totally works. It works so much that more than one person has wondered recently if I’d got a perm, only to react with near disbelief when assured that all this curl is my very own.
And now I leave it to you, dear readers, to be amazed (because, believe me, my poor husband is plenty tired of marveling at my hair):
August 31st, 2014
This last winter Tage decided he wanted to move from his upstairs bedroom into the small room downstairs that had previously been our guest room. This left a free room and before long Lydia made up her mind to move into Tage’s old room (which, incidentally, was also her own old room some ten years ago). Before she could settle in, however, she insisted on a total room makeover. Generously financed by my mom, she chose new paint, wallpaper, and flooring, and after a couple of months we’ve finally got the space transformed.
Yesterday Olof and I spent most of the day putting in the flooring (it must be said that I am being extremely generous to myself in claiming credit; at most I did twenty percent of the work), and after seeing it last night, the girl declared herself quite pleased. I’m pretty pleased as well, but not as pleased as I’m sure Olof is, if for no other reason than that it should be a good long time before he has to spend another day devoted to home decor.