December 25th, 2015
December 22nd, 2015
Last month I was hired by a research project at the history department to translate eighteen pages of text from Swedish for the English version of their website. I agreed to have it done no later than the end of the year, but last week I promised the professor who hired me to have it done before Christmas, which gives me tomorrow to finish it (in Sweden, “Christmas” means “Christmas Eve”). I’ve got the work nearly done now, so it will be no problem to get it in to her on time, but after spending most of today working on it, my brain is all wibbly-wobbly with words. The text covers everything from reaping grain with a scythe to building a web platform, and I feel as though I’ve personally spanned centuries in the course of this relatively small job.
I don’t think I’d want to be a translator full-time, but this bit of work has given me a new appreciation for the advantages of having a discrete task to perform in a set period of time. It’s quite unlike my “real” work, for which the task is, essentially, “Write a book within the next three-ish years”. I suppose I should probably get busy doing that.
December 15th, 2015
Tomorrow morning I make my last trip to Uppsala for the year. I’m staying only one night, returning home late Thursday evening, then I’ll be home for nearly three weeks. I can’t tell you how much I–and my family–have been looking forward to that. It won’t be all rest and relaxation, of course, as I’ve got plenty to do in those weeks, but I am so very ready to have a break from all the travel. My next trip is the first week of January, to Oxford for a conference, and then I’ll start back in the swing of Uppsala things on January 18. That feels like a long time to be away, but I suspect it will fly by.
During the upcoming spring term I’m planning (hoping) to cut back on my travel quite a bit and go down to Uppsala every other week rather than every week. Even if I stay a day or two longer on the weeks I’m away, I’ll still be home much more than I have been this fall. Since I started working on my Ph.D. almost a year ago, I’ve taken nearly all of the required courses for my degree, so from here out I can focus much more on my dissertation work. There’s still plenty of reason for me to be in Uppsala regularly, but I’m all for spending longer periods of time at home between trips.
December 1st, 2015
So I’m just going to hop over that long absence like it didn’t happen.
Tomorrow it’s off to Uppsala again, this time with Lydia in tow. She’s been wanting to make the trip with me for a while now, and it turned out that this week worked well enough for both of us. I’ve got a lot to do, as usual, but I’m sure I’ll be able to free up at least a little time for some shopping and stuff. I think she’s got her heart set on a trip to IKEA, so I’ll have to steel myself for that. That place is always a bit on the crazy side, but around Christmas it’s absolute madness.
After this trip, I’ll be going down only twice more before a long break at home from mid-December until the first week of January. It will be nice not to be traveling for a little while, but I do have plenty of work to do in those three weeks. The most daunting of that work is the writing of a paper I’m set to present at a conference in Oxford on January 6. I really want to be excited and proud about having a paper accepted, but mostly I’m just terrified and the way the weeks are flying by isn’t doing a thing to calm my nerves.
November 13th, 2015
When I’m lying in bed at night, trying to fall asleep, I have a few tricks to help me relax and get sleepy. Usually they involve word games of some sort, but sometimes I play with numbers and set myself some math problems. It was in this way that I discovered, some years ago, that there is the exact same age difference–to the day, with leap years accounted for–between Brynja and Yrsa as between Tage and Petra. This means, of course, that there is also the same difference between Tage and Brynja as there is between Petra and Yrsa. Kind of cool, I think.
Last night was another math problem night, but the results were less cool. I calculated how much time I’m away from home for my work. Most weeks I come down to Uppsala on Wednesday morning after the kids go to school and return home around 11:00 on Friday nights. That comes out to 62 hours per week that I’m not at home. Occasionally I’m away for longer stretches, but at other times I’m home for longer periods, so I think it mostly balances out. 62 hours is 37% of all the hours in a week, which really seems like a whole hell of a lot. I try to tell myself that it’s not much more time than I’d be away if I worked full-time closer to home, without the long commute, and I remind myself that I’m home with the kids to get them off to school three out of five days of the week. I further point out to myself that Olof works from home whenever I’m in Uppsala, so that our kids always, always have a parent available, even during those hours when they’re at school, and there are plenty of kids who don’t have that.
You know what, though? All those reminders don’t really help; they feel more like rationalizations than anything else. In my heart of hearts, I can’t help feeling that what I’m doing is not good for my family. What makes it worse, somehow, is that I really love my job. In the long, dark moments of the night I have sometimes wondered if I should quit, if it wouldn’t be better for everyone if I were home again, but it would absolutely do me in to give up my work. I’m not sure that I could physically make myself do it. So then, of course, I’m left with the realization that I’m putting my work and my personal satisfaction ahead of my family, something that I never thought I’d do.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the nature of mother guilt, all of this angst is coming from me, myself. My husband is entirely supportive, and when I’ve asked him from time to time if he thinks I should quit, he always reacts strongly against the idea. He sees the value to all of us in what I’m doing in ways that I’m not able to do. As for the kids, they’re fine. I’ve been doing this for so long now that it feels normal to them. I don’t doubt that they’d like it if I were home more, but they don’t seem to miss me unbearably or agonize over my absence when I’m away. I still have a hard time convincing myself, though–not in convincing myself to keep working; that’s a given–but in convincing myself that I’m not being outrageously selfish.
So yeah, that’s the kind of thing I think about when I can’t sleep.
November 9th, 2015
Almost three years ago Petra got her first pair of glasses. She’d been having fairly frequent headaches, which is what prompted the visit to the eye doctor, but she never was very consistent about wearing the glasses. The headaches went away and her eye checks at school were fine, so we all just more or less forgot about the glasses.
A couple of months ago, though, she started complaining about headaches again and her teacher mentioned that she’d been having a little trouble concentrating for long stretches on her school-work, so I took her in for another eye check. Her vision was actually better this time than it was when she was seven, but because of the headaches the optician recommended glasses anyway, at least for reading. So she chose some frames and we placed an order, and today I picked up her new specs.
I noticed when I took them out of the case that the new glasses were almost exactly the same as mine–the same brand and same style, only in black instead of blue. I hadn’t noticed that they were so similar when she chose them, probably because I was kind of in a hurry and just wanting her to pick some already. I did try a little to get her to choose a less expensive pair, but after trying on nearly every pair in the store she settled on the ones she just had to have and would not be dissuaded.
I have a little theory about this. People have always said that she looks very much like me, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only ones that looked right to her on her face were the ones that she’s used to seeing on my face. See if you think I’m right:
October 31st, 2015
Prompted by a thread on Reddit, Olof asked me a few minutes ago, “What’s the best thing you ever heard a kid say?”. Without a moment’s hesitation, I told him it was this. I’ve heard a lot of kids say a lot of great things, but nothing else will ever compare to this.
October 27th, 2015
The kids have fall break and are off school this whole week, which makes my trip to Uppsala tomorrow a little weird and complicated. Rather than put the girls in childcare–which seems somehow wrong when they’re supposed to be free–Olof took three days of vacation and then will work from home on Friday. One of those vacation days was today, when all of us were home, so we took the opportunity to load everybody up in the car and take them to the indoor playground in town. Even Lydia joined us, and we spent nearly the entire day there, not coming home until three in the afternoon. I can’t think of the last time that all seven of us went somewhere together.
As I said, I’m off again tomorrow for parts south. Last week I came home on Saturday evening instead of my usual Friday because I had the final exam for my Latin course on Saturday morning. Losing just that one day has made my time at home feel like a whirlwind and I’ve felt a little off-kilter for the past few days. Going back to winter time over the weekend surely didn’t help matters; my rhythms are completely off. Maybe being back on my usual schedule in Uppsala the last half of this week will help me re-set.
October 19th, 2015
I’ve had a lot going on this past week or so, and I’ve had no choice but to give myself a little down-time here and there with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. These two hats are my latest creations, done as part of a crochet-along on Ravelry. The top picture is the one I made first, and I really love the color, but I think the second one is more me.
Petra is quite taken with both of them, but I’m pretty sure they’re mine, all mine.
October 11th, 2015
*Best said in a John Cleese voice
So yeah, it’s been a while. What with one thing and another, I just haven’t got around to posting in far too long.
Anyway, I recovered nicely from my bronchitis, and made it to Tallinn last week for the conference with no ill effects. Most of my time there was spent working so I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a few I did get:
This is the Tallin Town Hall, completed in 1404. It’s the oldest surviving town hall in all of the Baltics and Scandinavia, and it’s spectacular.
Here’s me preparing to present my dissertation work at the conference.
These are the seats at the Tallinn airport, which I absolutely fell in love with. Following is the inside of one of the bathroom doors at the same airport. I was less in love with the original artwork, but I did approve of the add-on.