Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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book of february: franny and zooey

The only other Salinger I’d read before this was assigned by my 9th grade English teacher. We read The Catcher in the Rye. The most vivid thing I remember from that book was a description of Holdon’s friend’s teeth. It was a grotesque image that has stayed with me to this day. That’s not what I’m here to discuss today. Today we’re looking at Franny and Zooey.

Franny & Zooey

I knew literally nothing about this book before reading it. If you know literally nothing about this book I have some news for you. If you think Franny and Zooey might be a tantalizing romance between two women, you would be mistaken. If you then go on to ponder that Franny and Zooey might be a romance between a man named Franny and a woman named Zooey (as one may assume, now knowing that it is not two women), you would again be incorrect. If you then go so far as to venture that Franny is a female character (as was inferred from the beginning) but even that Zooey was a male character, then I congratulate you. You are correct. I also have a question for you: How on Earth could you come to guess that Zooey is a male’s name?! In my world it simly isn’t so.

Wasn’t so. After reading the book, Zooey will forever be categorized as the name of moody, somewhat dark, intelligent young men. I think that moody, intelligent and somewhat dark is actually a good description of the book as a whole. So if you’re in the mood for something moody (I couldn’t resist) then this is my recommendation for you.

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what’s the deal sweden?

Today I checked when Sweden would have more sunlight hours than Boston. March 19th. I plan to have a party that day. I miss the sun. You are all invited to my sun party. Details to come.

In the mean time I’d like to complain. It’s one thing to have a ridiculously dark winter. But a snow-less winter? That’s just not okay in my book. Here in Sweden there was no snow on Christmas or New Years. As far as I’m concerned it might as well not snow anymore. The cheery cozy Christmas with snow outside and a roaring fire never came to be. A glistening snow filled walk down to the city to watch the fireworks was not the case. Now it might as well be spring.

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It has been grey and gloomy instead.

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Counting down the days until March 19th.

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liseberg

I don’t know if you heard. But there was a woman who fell out of the tallest wood-steel roller coaster, at six flags Texas.

Last year I feel like there was also an incident where someone fell out of a roller coaster. Maybe it was the year before that.

This is clearly terrible news. But, aside from freaking me out a bit at the time, it hasn’t really affected me in the long run.

Yes, this means I’ve been to amusement parks the past few summers in a row. I’m not sure what that says about my intelligence. But, I’ve always gone before these accidents have happened…and not to the same exact park. Helps?

Liseberg day

Anyway, two summers ago I made my first ever trip to Liseberg in Gothenburg (Göteborg for all you Scandinavians out there). Evelina got train tickets and tickets to the park for me for my birthday. I was thrilled. Because a) I love amusement parks and b) they had just opened the highest free fall roller coaster in Europe. It’s name is AtmosFear (the cunningness of which is reason in and of itself to ride the ride – if you ask me). It’s 146 meters above sea level, and drops you at 110 km/h. Yeah I had no idea what that meant either. That’s 482 feet above sea level, or about 2/3rds of the way around 1 lap on your average track. At 87 miles/hr, or fast enough to get you a killer of a speeding ticket on a state highway. Not bad I say, not bad.

AtmosFear

Gothenburg is a beautiful city, and catching the view of it from the top of AtmosFear is certainly worth it. Unless you’re terrified of heights. This may not need to be said, but: don’t ride the ride if heights terrify you.

But summer fun isn’t the only thing that Liseberg has to offer.

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During the winter months Liseberg becomes a spectacular winter wonderland. No, the rides are not operational, something about whipping around at 100km/h when it’s -10 degrees Celsius just doesn’t add up. What they do have to offer is a Julmarknad, or Christmas market. They also have a charming Christmas atmosphere to offer. And really that’s the best part. No, I’m not being extremely sarcastic, so don’t read it like that. What’s even better than the best part is going there with great company. (Still serious.)

Julmarknad

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happy lucia!

It’s that time again! Today is Lucia, so I hope you all have a happy happy day. Last year I wrote about the Lucia tradition here in Sweden. It’s a pretty big day.

You all remember the general gist of things. Swedes dress up in one of four outfits, walk around in a line while sing traditional songs, and then eat lussekatter & drink glögg.

This year at work a colleague and I were in charge of planning the Lucia train for the children at the pre-school. It was quite the task as over 200 people would be present. We were in charge of scheduling, assignment of different tasks, attendance, food, et cetera. Basically, this was my first endeavor into party planning – for 5 year olds. I think we pulled it off. My biggest fear was not realized (that someone would get set on fire – which was rational, we had open flame), and none of the children cried. The children seemed to have a grand ol’ time singing away the an outdoor stage, and the parents crowded around trying to get a good photo.

I would do it again next year. To be honest, just give me an excuse to wear a Santa hat and I’m in.

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book of november: wuthering heights

This book has been on my “to read” list pretty much since I was 10 and my mother bought me a copy. Probably for one of those gift giving holidays. Or the tooth fairy brought it. (Yes, the tooth fairy actually brought me books. Yes, I do know the tooth fairy is real, and you cannot convince me otherwise. How else would I have the book?)

Regardless…

When a book remains on the “to read” list for that long, it usually means it’s not my style. Not a book I can really get in to, and after all these years have avoided reading. What a surprise it was to read this book. I was immediately enthralled in Brontë’s world and writing style, which made this one an exciting read.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is just what’s in order to get through the long fall nights. This book comes highly recommended by me. And Francine Prose. Check this one off the list!


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swedish groundhog’s day, or is it fish day?

The other day was Groundhogs Day. I hope you all celebrated accordingly. With long, loud parties late into the night. That’s what I did at least.

Maybe.

you a'int nothin' but a groundhoggg....wait, is that right?credit

you a’int nothin’ but a groundhoggg….
wait, is that right?
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Here in Sweden I was really hoping for a cloudy day. REALLY. You guys know by now how cold I am. But when Saturday rolled around I was awoken by the sunlight streaming through the windows of our bedroom. I was simultaneously filled with glee and remorse. FINALLY the sun was back. BUT now it will be winter for forever.

Little did I know “murmeldjur” as they’re known here in Sweden, are a little known animal. There is no Groundhog’s Day. (Hope for me at last!) Here, instead, you cut open a female “aborre” (a European perch) and inspect the eggs. Depending on the number/size/etc. of the eggs determines how close we are to spring.

Say it like Dory says escape. Aborre!credit

Say it like Dory says “escape”. Aborre!
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This also seems to me to be a slightly more scientific manner of determining the seasons. Rather than whether or not a small squirrel cousin is afraid of his shadow. So I’m going with the fish. I’m also claiming that the fish say spring will come early.

Happy Spring Everybody!!

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paella is good, but tinto is better

I promise this is the last time I’m going to talk about it. But heavens to Betsy it is cold! Since I can’t go outside without freezing my toes and my boogers, I’m going to handle the situation how I handle situations best. Denial.

In that light, I’m going to take a stroll down memory lane, and in the coming days I hope you’ll join me. To scorching summer sun we go!!

Spain part 1 of 3: Madrid

What you’ve all been waiting for. The much alluded to, and previously mentioned, trip to Spain! This past May Evelina and I embarked on an adventure to Madrid.

While we were there we did touristy things. Like live in an apartment building that, upon our arrival, we were locked out of for an hour. While the guy who had our key walked/ran from his apartment to give us keys and instructions about our stay. It was classy. Luckily we felt just like home, seeing as our apartment was on the top floor of the building and had slanted roofs. (Those of you lucky enough to visit our Linköping apartment know.) The similarities ended there, however, as it was approximately 107 degrees up there. Celsius. (Possible hyperbole in action.) Oh, and everyone in the building spoke Spanish. Not Swedish.

During our stay we made our way up and down hills to see touristy things like:

Go in the Catedral de la Almudena (Almudena Cathedral)

Visit the Catedral de la Almudena (Almudena Cathedral)

And go to Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) This is the view from the Cathedral.

And go to Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) This is the view from the Cathedral.

Enjoyed the astounding view of Madrid from the Almudena Cathedral.

Enjoyed the astounding view of Madrid from the Almudena Cathedral.

We searched out the best shopping, and the prettiest buildings.

We searched out the best shopping, and the prettiest buildings.

We procured our favorite American coffee drinks!

We procured our favorite American coffee drinks!

Took a stroll down to Palacio de Comunicaciones (City Hall)

Took a stroll down to Palacio de Comunicaciones (City Hall)

We explored some amazing churches.

We explored some amazing churches.

Wandered on over to Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate). Unfortunately not at night, that's on the list for next time.

Wandered on over to Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate). Unfortunately not at night, that’s on the list for next time.

Visited Museo Reina Sofia (Reina Sofia Museum) I WAS SO PUMPE FOR THIS!!! Saw my favorite painting in real life!

Visited Museo Reina Sofia (Reina Sofia Museum) I WAS SO PUMPED FOR THIS!!! Saw my favorite painting in real life!

Besides my favorite painting, we also got to see other art. This is clearly art.

Besides my favorite painting, we also got to see other art. This is clearly art.

It was a little bit exhausting trekking around Madrid in the heat, but totally worth it. Most importantly we found El Corte Inglés. Where we bought Evelina’s mom a birthday present. And, well, obviously, we bought ourselves some presents. Evelina bought a beautiful watch. And I, in accordance with my 25 before 25 list, bought a pair of wicked-super-awesome sun glasses. Ray Bans. They’re blue. Don’t take my word for it, check out the pics.

sunny sun glasses

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chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool

In the evenings we ate paella outdoors and sipped tinto late into the night. Strolling along the restaurant lined streets in a comfortable warm breeze. One thing, at least, that Spaniards have in common with Swedes is the desire to eat out doors. In the summer this is an awesome way to dine.

Part one of what we’re now calling “The Spain Trip” went swimmingly. I had an amazing time in a foreign land with my dearest. I highly recommend Madrid for all you city lovers. A city vacation isn’t for everyone, but Madrid has the big things a city vacation needs: beautiful architecture, fun landmarks, museums and castles, and shopping. I recommend all of this to all of you.

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is it just me, or is it dark in here?

As you now know, I work with children. Now, depending on who you are, you may or may not know the following fact: light switches are great fun. You see, children between the ages of 1 and let’s say 3 know this fact. As a child grows there comes a time (between the ages of one and three) where they are suddenly capable of operating the great fun light switch themselves. As it is great fun, the child will want to operate the light switch that is suddenly within their reach as often as possible. This means, as a fully grown human, that you will need to learn to carry on your daily activities in the dark. At least for a little while.

This is partially due to the fact that it’s much more exciting to play in the dark. But also partially due to the design of the light switch. In Sweden the light switches look a lot like this:
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This means that for an indiscriminate amount of time the child will only be able to turn the light off. (They cannot yet reach the top of the switch to turn it back on.) So one must prepare oneself for constantly turning the lights back on, or accepting one’s fate and continuing on in the dark, or explain to the small child (who has yet to achieve a full grasp of language) that they should not play with the great fun light switch.
Clearly I go with option three, and have begun to constantly exclaim: “Oh no! Now we can’t see anything!!” Whenever a small child near me flips a switch.
It seems to be working.
I do have a problem though, which is mostly related. As you know, December 21st is the darkest day of the year. Or as you now know. After this day I expect it to get light and get light quickly. Nature has not caught up with my expectations. So, my problem is, who do I tell? I keep exclaiming “Oh no!! Now we can’t see anything!” a3:45 pm when it gets dark here. But no one flips the great fun light switch. It’s still dark in here.
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walking in a winter wonderland

The things my winter has been filled with:

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frozen trees

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snow up to my knees

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sunset clouds

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no crowds

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snow-covered sign

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fence in a line

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where we go

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shining church

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big clocks

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bird filled birch

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white walks

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a walk in the park

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sledding in the dark

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cold courtyard.

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Christmas stars

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icy cobblestone

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a candle alone

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falling snow

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snowball lanterns

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big and small

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a burning candle

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hot chocolate for all

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