Thursday, January 29, 2009

I’m Coming Undone

I have had a song severely stuck in my head for the last two days. Does that ever happen to you? They say you need to listen to the whole song—and sing it too?—to sort of get rid of it, but in my case that only makes it worse. It’s not a bad song—and thank God, it’s not a corny song—it’s just getting a little ridiculous. I have watched and/or listened to the video on YouTube probably ten times now. It’s a haunting song and the video is a work of art, in my opinion. Funny thing is, it’s not the kind of music I generally listen to anymore. In fact, even back when I still listened to mainstream music, I didn’t listen to this band. I only recently researched their sound after reading an autobiography by one of the former members*, and most of it is way too heavy and dark for me, but this one song …

I think the lyrics are ingenious. The melody is haunting to say the least. And the bass is just very pronounced in a way I don’t usually hear in a song. I don’t know, maybe you need to judge for yourself, but I’m pretty sure most of you will be surprised at the sound or the group, especially coming from me. I don’t know how to post the video in my blog, so watch it here.

*The book is “Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story” by Brian Welch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gray, gray, gray … inside and out

THIS is what I want to do …

… but this is pretty much what I’m faced with …

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sixteen Facts About Me

I was tagged by both Hee Soon and Patty on Flickr to post a photo and 16 things about myself, and then tag 16 people in return. Not sure I managed to tag 16 people yet (we are a rather close-knit group and everybody ended up tagging each other), but here are my facts:

1. I graduated with a degree in business administration (ekonomiska linjen) and worked in a bank in Sweden for three and a half years before coming over to the U.S. to go to college. Yup, banker.

2. I am a Christian and although it isn’t always easy, God has given me the strength to endure the trials that I have had to go through.

3. I’ve studied German, French and Spanish and would love the opportunity to live in those countries long enough to speak fluently. Or at least listen fluently.

4. I tore my right ACL (anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, for those of you who are not familiar with medical terms) skiing on moguls in Crested Butte, Colorado. I had to have surgery to replace it (with a piece of my own hamstring). Yeah, I had no business being up there, but I got a snazzy knee brace out of it.

5. I don’t really like Chinese food anymore. I had too many servings of questionable chicken, so unless it’s from P.F. Chang’s, I don’t really want it.

6. I am the proud aunt of the Swedish Pro Superbike Champion 2008.

7. I worked at Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, a couple of summers when I went home from college. We had wine/ beer tastings once a month and I had my regulars hanging on the door every morning before we opened. It was hard work, being on my feet for eight hours a day, but a fun bunch to work with.

8. I’m a Swede with a Finnish name, living in America, driving a Korean car.

9. I loved being pregnant—well, at least the first time, the second time not so much—and would love to be pregnant again, but I don’t want any more children. Go figure!

10. I have a great sense of direction and never get lost. I have, however, gotten sidetracked a few times, but I hate asking for directions.

11. I love being by myself and I rarely feel lonely.

12. When I like a movie, I love watching it over and over ... and over again, until I can’t stand watching it again for a long time.

13. I recently finished two creative writing courses online. I loved the first one, didn't love the second one, and now I’m totally burned out. Hmm ...

14. I love to read, especially non-fiction. Last year, I read a book about cadavers and I just finished a book about brain surgery.

15. I love computers. I love email. I love the Internet. I love online chatting on FB and photo sharing on Flickr. I love to blog. But I hate that my butt gets bigger and bigger while sitting here with all this virtual love.

16. I’m amazed that I found sixteen things to say about myself after all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Tribute to Friends

This post is a little belated, but it is not too late. It’s a tribute to friends. New friends.

The older we get, the harder it is to make new friends. Busy lifestyles with full-time work, dinners to prepare, children to read to. When do we have time to meet new people and make new friends? If we work outside the home, we may be fortunate to have coworkers we have something in common with, but very rarely do we form the kind of friendships that we did in childhood. We may even somewhere along the path make a new friend who becomes a best friend. I have been blessed with two of those. I met JoAnne almost fifteen year ago in a yoga class, when I was at a truly low point in my life. She has been my prayer warrior, my shoulder to cry on, my support when the winds around me blew too furiously. She’s the older sister I lost when I was seven, I’m her younger sister in place of the older one she has a broken relationship with. Carol and I met more than eight years ago, when we were both pregnant with our first children, due dates one day apart. Over the years, our friendship has changed, like waves on the sea, ebbing and flowing. We’ve gone through a pregnancy together and the deterioration of our marriages together. We have survived our divorces together and been single moms together.

In the last year, I have been blessed with new friends through the Internet. Although I have never met them in person, I feel as if they are true bosom buddies. I sense through the words they write, that they have beautiful hearts, not just the beautiful faces I see on Flickr. They have a passion for what they do and a deep generosity of spirit.

There is Anna-Karin, my sparring partner, my tower of strength, my greatest cheerleader and encourager. Together, the two of us make up the female version of Abbott & Costello. We sling virtual mud cake at each other every chance we get, knowing that there is a deep friendship behind the banter that can handle the friendly abuse. I find it amazing that we have bonded over cyberspace, when it feels like I just sat down for fika with her at a café in Stockholm. Maybe one day I will get to in real life.

Then there is Lotta, a quiet, sweet soul. She pops up every now and then with some amazing new design, seemingly undeterred by what everyone else is doing at the moment. She is the calm in the storm, the whisper when the winds are howling. So sweet, so beautiful.

And then there is Magdalena. What can I say? Magdalena is one of those amazingly creative and talented people you feel blessed to know. She works hard, she has great taste, and she is generous to a fault. She is one of several talented Polish girls—I think it must be something in the water.

What is even more special about these three amazing women, is that they all sent me lovely birthday and Christmas gifts last year. I frequently drool over their creations and beg for pieces to be sent to me, but these gifts were totally unexpected. I am in awe over their generosity and kindness, and I will treasure their gifts for a lifetime. But more than that, I will treasure the gift of their friendship.

The ring is Anna-Karin’s signature style, and a lovely birthday gift to me. No. 1. Long and Dangly Earrings from Lotta. No. 2. Gingembre by Magdalena No. 3. Sterling and Amethyst Earrings from Anna-Karin.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Should’ve been a go-go dancer …

So, I was on a quest to make the best chocolate chip cookie ever. Why? I have no idea. I saw a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips, the 60 percent cacao kind and thought, “Wow, I bet those would make great chocolate chip cookies.” I looked on the Internet (because all my cookbooks are still in moving boxes from last summer, when I almost moved) and found a recipe for “Absolutely the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Really, that’s what the recipe was called. I also researched further and found quite a few tips on how to make the cookies even better. Armed with all this new knowledge and all the ingredients—or so I thought—I fought to find the time to actually make the cookies. Tonight, yes, tonight was the night.

I gathered all my ingredients on the counter and realized that, hmm, perhaps my butter should not have an expiration date of January 2008. Fortunately, I found two sticks of butter that looked like they would do. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember when I had actually bought them, but they looked good, so I melted them as recommended. After stirring in the sugars, white and brown, I tasted the mixture … interesting, but it had a rather rancid taste. Just to make sure, I had another taste … and another. No, I don’t think it was supposed to taste like that. Really. So I went to the store, and while I was there I got some more eggs and the latest In Style magazine. I was going to need something to read later on while enjoying these wonderful cookies.

Back home again, I started the melting process over again, finished the cookie dough and let it cool in the refrigerator for just a few minutes while the oven was heating up—another trick I learned from all my research. In the meantime, I sat down to help Malena with her homework and looked down to see that my lounge pants were inside out. And I just went to the store dressed like that. Come to think of it, I had also already taken my bra off. And I wonder why I can’t get a date. Strange.

Fast forward to when I’m happily reading the rest of the instructions, while the first batch of cookies is baking. I never read all the instructions first, makes life a little more adventurous. Besides, I’m pretty smart, I can usually figure out how things work on my own. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they mentioned tablespoons for portioning the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet. Interesting, I was sure I had read something about a ladle.

Maybe I should try go-go dancing instead? After I put my bra back on, of course.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This is what I feel like today …

Turns out the Airborne I’ve been taking to keep a cold from coming on does not sit well with my stomach … I am miserable and in pain.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Not really into tarot, but …

I thought the art on these cards were intriguing and the “truth” of my online reading quite spot on. Take a look for yourself.

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I found this site through My Marrakesh.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

One thing leads to another

My previous post took a comical turn on Flickr, and my coworker Jack got a little creative. We have had quite a few laughs over the last couple of days and … well, what can I say. It's me and the gulls.

I really have no shame, do I.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Twenty Years in America

How can it be that twenty years have gone by already? It does not seem possible, yet here I am staring at the beginning of 2009, twenty years to the day after I landed at JFK. I was alone in a new country. And I was hot. I had just left a snow covered Sweden, dressed in a turtleneck sweater, a heavy winter coat and gloves and here I was, shuffling through the airport with my carryon and not a snowflake in sight. In fact, I think there was a heat wave. Or, it was unusually warm for the season, as they might have said on the weather forecast that day. Personally, I was having a heat wave. Then again, it could have been the fact that I was tired, nervous, and hot from wearing too many layers at a crowded airport right after the holidays.

I came to the U.S. with the intention of getting an associate’s degree in commercial art. That’s what my school called it back then. Commercial Art. I was going to study art and design for two years and then go back home again. Or so I thought. My studies went well, in fact, I graduated top of my class that year, in May of 1992. I got the cap and gown, walked the walk and attended the graduation dinner. My mother, her husband and my brother flew over for the occasion. It was grand. Then I spent the summer back home in Sweden and had some time to think. We were in the middle of a recession, what was I going to do?

Three weeks before classes started back up again, I called the college and said I was coming back for my bachelor’s degree. I remember there was a scramble to get all the required paperwork ready to renew my student visa before I could return. All went well and I studied some more. And did the whole cap and gown thing again the following May, receiving my Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude. I also had the honor of being the valedictorian and receiving awards for outstanding academic achievement and outstanding achievement in commercial art. More than I had ever hoped or dreamed. After all, I just came here for a two-year degree.

With my BA in hand I was entitled to a training permit, giving me permission to stay in the country for an additional twelve months. Looking back at that year, I vaguely remember goofing off and getting closer to the end of my visa. A few weeks before the dreaded date, I realized I had better get a job or start packing. Not ready to return to my home country yet, I started looking. Two weeks before the deadline, I landed a job at a company that for the next seven years became the only entry on my resume, even though it appears under three different names.

I didn’t work my way up as much as get a new position or title each time the company was bought out. I was fortunate to stay, when others were let go. Every two years, I had to hire an attorney to renew my work visa—and pay big bucks for him to do it. My life was lived in two-year increments, with trips back to Sweden every year or two, usually including a visit to the American Embassy in Stockholm to get a new visa stamp in my passport. Every time I walked through immigrations on my return to the U.S., I was just as nervous as the first time, but they never turned me away.

A few years went by—two or three work visas I think—and then I met a man. I had met men before, but this man was different. I could usually tell if a relationship was going to work within two weeks of meeting someone, and usually I determined it was not. And it didn’t. Yet, I tried to make it work. So much wasted time. This time, I knew within two weeks that this was the man for me. I had recently given my life to Jesus, and in return, Jesus gave me a man. Well, I like to think so.

This man and I were married in May 1998. It was bliss. Why wouldn’t it be, we were married in Sweden and honeymooned in Paris. He was my best friend. We shared a lot of laughs. We cried, too. We had a similar sense of humor. We were both very sarcastic. We were as compatible as a man and a woman can be. We were happy. For a few years, at least.

Along came a little baby girl and a green card. I stopped working and became a stay-at-home mom. My little girl and I spent our days taking walks and recording milestones, but something didn’t feel right. I didn’t realize how much I missed my job until I was forced to go back to work two years later. Our finances were bad and getting worse. Our marriage was heading in the same direction. But, there was still a lot of love there. And I enjoyed being back at work at my old company with a new name. My spirits were lifted and I was back in my element.

Then another baby came along. I took some time off work to care for her, before returning to my little gray cubicle to design my heart away. And to lose the love of my man.

The last three and half years have gone by quickly. I have survived a heartbreaking separation and divorce, been blessed with a new job, sans cubicle, and raised two beautiful girls on my own. There are days I want to run away from the responsibility of being their main provider and then there are days when I count myself so fortunate to have two such smart little girls. Strong-willed, independent, headstrong, willful, beautiful girls. They are the fruit of my love. They are the reason I am still here. Even though it would be so much easier for me to pack up and move back home, where I have family who can help out, I don’t want to take them away from their father. This is their country and it has become mine. Twenty years. How time flies.

*1989 with poodle perm in Helen, Ga., 1994 with hair down to my butt, 1998 on my honeymoon in Paris (at the Eiffel Tower), Elisabet and Malena at our old house, 2005 after getting too skinny during my divorce, today in 2009 … mostly happy, especially with the short hair!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My First Published Piece

And there it is, my first published piece, The Necklace, as promised in the January edition of

Perhaps I should write more, instead of devouring one book after another. I’m calling it research, though. I’m studying style, delivery, dialog frequency, and … well, you know, I’m disappearing into the books and forgetting all about the research, that’s what I’m doing. Let’s be honest. So, I will continue to write in my journal, which I began in my first writing class, and when I hit on something of interest I will turn it into an essay for others to enjoy. That’s my new year’s resolution to myself.