Saturday, August 18, 2007

Where does the time go?

When I stepped off the plane at Arlanda on August 18, 2002, I had no idea that I would still be living in Sweden five years later. I had just graduated from college and was ready to spend a year in Stockholm before I returned home to enter the 'real world.' What my 'real world' would entail was ill-defined, but it didn't involve herring (ok, it still doesn't really involve herring, but it's my fifth anniversary, so I can make all the gratuitous fish references I want) and it certainly didn't include filling out tax forms, choosing pension plans and acquiring a pair of Norwegian Forest Cats. I no longer flinch when asked for "legitimation" when making a purchase, I automatically look for the queue number when entering a pharmacy or bank and I expect five weeks of vacation. I take it as a given that an entire country can shut down for the month of July and think it's strange to put lingonberry sauce on pancakes rather than on meatballs. I'm convinced that the Stockholm archipelago is one of the most beautiful places on earth (except for the mosquitoes the size of Volvos) and the Arctic Circle doesn't seem so remote (especially as I'm blogging from Kiruna at the moment). I can now pronounce the number "sju," although I've still got a distinctive American accent and I still snicker when I read a sign with the word "utfart."

But despite getting used to many of the quirks of living in a foreign country, the five-year mark seems to be a tipping point of sorts. It's time to either hunker down and settle in for the long haul, or make some decisions about where it is that I really want to be. Still, I have no regrets about where I've been up until now. So here's to five years. May the next five be even better.

Swedish Menswear

Sunday, August 05, 2007


It's been two years to the day since I smashed my heel in a pretty dramatic car accident on my way to the airport to go back to Sweden after a two-week trip back home. That two week trip turned into three months pretty much glued to the couch and the TV remote, a trip through three airports -- including JFK -- by wheelchair, a rather sexy orthopedic boot and two additional months of recovery upon my return to Sweden. Although I must say that the accident has been one of the more traumatic events in my life up until this point (and I am quite aware it could have been a lot worse), I'm not sure I would undo it. The only regret is that my foot will never quite be the same. Eight titanium screws and a plate, which look like a bike chain on the x-ray, did a fairly good job of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, although it's still not quite as good as new. And I have a seven-inch L-shaped scar to prove it.

But two years later, I'm once again on my way to the airport (after some cupcakes for breakfast) and this time I'll be walking through JFK on two feet. And some good things came as a result of the accident. For one thing, I'll never again travel without travel insurance. If I hadn't have had it before I left Sweden, I would have been up a creek without a paddle, as we like to say back home. This blog was also born since I had so much extra time on my hands. And without this blog, I wouldn't have met many of the people currently in my life and I probably wouldn't have made the career change I did. So thanks for reading, and keep your fingers crossed (and thumbs held) that the ride to the airport this August 5 is entirely uneventful.


Overheard in New York City:

"Do you like stand-up comedy? No? Do you like me?" (Not surprisingly, the answer to the second question was the same as the first.)

"So this season it's wide-legged again. After all these skinny jeans, we're just picking up where we left off in 2006."

Overheard in Lakeside, Montana:

"Whose coyote is that?"

"Stop chewing on your shirt!"

Live from New York City

Modern transportation means that you can have breakfast in Stockholm, lunch in New York City and dinner in Seattle. By the time you're done, neither your body nor your brain will have much of a clue as to what time zone their in, but by that point, all they really care about is a bed and a pillow.

I'm currently blogging live from New York City after a two-week whirlwind tour that spanned the continental United States. I've driven a Mustang convertible with the top down across Lake Washington on the the I-90 freeway in Seattle; stopped to buy huckleberries from a roadside stand in Lakeside, Montana; bought the Pussycat Dolls album at a strip mall in Kalispell, Montana; attended a family reunion with 205 Americans who think they're Dutch; taken a tour of Pike Place Market (which turns 100 years on August 17th) in Seattle; interviewed the architects behind the design of Seattle's new Olympic Sculpture Park; waited in line for two hours to go up the Empire State Building; spent 30 minutes contemplating Monet's waterlilies and 5 minutes trying to figure out Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon (which I studied in art history class freshman year of college) at the MOMA; had espresso at a Swedish cafe in NYC; gotten a full body massage in a vibrating chair at Brookstone in Rockefeller Center; and most importantly, reconnected with old friends (and even relatives) from different stages of my life.

And tomorrow is another day, which brings promises of cupcakes, New York style.