This is the second year I’ve served on the Board for the Stockholm Writers Festival, and the second year I plan on attending. The first year, I wasn’t sure if I should attend or not. Of course I wanted to support the festival in its debut year! But when I thought about me at the festival, I wasn’t sure it had enough for me. You see, I was under a false impression that I had to have a finished novel ready to be released into the world. I created this imaginary line I had to cross as an author before I should venture forth into the realm of writing festivals. I couldn’t have been more wrong.Read more
Next week, I will be joining a handful of amazing writers and friends whose main purpose is to survive running 5 km. When I say ‘running’ I want to be all inclusive. Jogging. Power walking. Strolling. Walking the dog. Stopping for rests along the way to take in the view. Maybe even have a mid-way pit stop where we can discuss the virtues or lack thereof of famous writers from the 16th century. Seeing as the run is women only, we could debate the first female writer published. The point is, we will all line up, with a number tag on our shirts and began something close to running. We won’t stop until we cross the finish line. Read more
As long as there’s no ice outside, we’re calling it summer. That’s what we’ve decided at my day job. And it fits, too, in a strange logical way. Although September is coming up fast, in Sweden the summer feels wonderfully long because of the amount of time everyone gets to enjoy it. Many who live here take advantage of that time. Expats return home to various countries, or perhaps visit a popular vacation spot. Swedes almost always travel to a warm sunny place. After a while, Stockholm begins to feel deserted. It’s not uncommon to walk past darkened storefronts and see the ‘summer notice’ posted on the door, and, for once, you’re able to find parking spaces. Read more
As some of you may have seen on my Instagram or Facebook posts, we’ve moved! I’m so excited. And a little tired. Okay, maybe more than a little tired. But I’m still mostly excited!
We had, in my eyes anyway, a tiny apartment. Our son was basically sleeping in what was labeled as a closet on the floor plan, which worked well when he was a baby. But that was six years ago. In short, we needed a bigger place. My husband, who is amazing at finding things, found us one. Read more
Swedes say ‘God Jul’ for Christmas.
For New Year’s, they say ‘Gott Nytt År’.
For the days in between, they say ‘God fortsättning,’ which literally translated means ‘good continuation,’ and as you’ve probably figured out by now there isn’t really an equivalent in English. I love this phrase, though. It’s a way to say, ‘I hope you continue to enjoy these moments, the holiday season, and the time with your family.’
We’ve had a wonderful Christmas. Nice and mostly calm (I’m focusing on the positive here), with only a few germs hanging around making us sniffle and our heads all stuffy. The elf packed up. Santa came, dropped off some presents, ate some milk and cookies and even left a note. We watched Frosty and read some Christmas stories. The kids played, and played, and fought just a little, only to turn around and play some more. Somewhere in all this craziness we celebrated my son’s birthday, complete with ice cream oreos and giant red lightsabers.
We’re almost ready for the new year. We’re still thinking about this year, though, in addition to the one right around the corner. The decorations are still up, the kids LOVE the snow that arrived two days ago and I’m enjoying this time in between. I hope your holidays have been nice and whether you’re jumping ahead to the new year, or don’t want to let this one go, I want to wish you a god fortsättning. I’ll see you next year =).
Our elf’s name is Wackack and he’s been with our family for about five years now. As I’ve mentioned before, the elf is a special tradition our family enjoys every year. He means a lot to us. Christmas is still magical for the children and that elf is one of the main reasons, not to mention it was given to us by a very special person. I honestly thought he’d be with us forever.
But this is the year our oldest daughter starts hearing from her friends about the sham. On the playground they’ll roll their eyes and share all the secrets they’ve uncovered about Christmas. The Santa mask they found in the back of their dad’s sock drawer. The presents they discovered already wrapped under the bed. I’m not sure what we’ll say when she comes asking questions (other than, ‘Why are you digging around in your father’s sock drawer?‘). I haven’t thought this far in advance and I should have. Read more
Last week I began a new weekly post on the blog called THURSDAY THOUGHTS, where I share with you random thoughts I plan to use as writing inspiration or prompts. So far, it’s a success. Okay, so only one week has passed, but I did take last week’s thoughts and plugged them into two short stories, one of which I’m in love with, which counts as success in my book =). I’m hoping I’ll get some good material out of today’s ideas, too.
Today I’m thinking about:
- Saint Lucia – On December 13th every year, Sweden celebrates St. Lucia, the beautiful blonde with candles stuck in her hair and a red sash around her waist, who was killed for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. At least as far as one story goes. Or maybe it’s just the darkest night of the year (close enough) and they wanted a creative way to light a bunch of flames. Most schools have a charming celebration and the kids can’t wait to dress up as Lucia, or the gingerbread man. I’m not quite sure how he fits into the story, but he’s joined by Tomte (the Swedish version of Santa Claus), a bunch of hand maidens and star boys. Somehow the whole motley crew teamed up to help out Lucia during her persecution. Another story has Lucia poking her eyes with a needle and to mark this occasion Swedish children everywhere bring a tray with eyes on it. Either that version of the story is frowned upon now, or it happened somewhere else because I have yet to see the schools serve up eyeballs for their Lucia festivals. Talk about story ideas! Women with fire in their hair and eyeballs on a tray. Or, I suppose I could keep it cute. I don’t know why I gravitate toward the strange things . . . It could be cute and strange, though. Right? I mean, if I take the eyeballs off the tray.
One of the first things my husband told me drove him crazy about Americans was our fascination with small talk. To him, small talk is fake. And pointless. I disagree. I miss small talk. I miss walking into a store and knowing you could speak to the guy next to you if you wanted to. Small talk allows you to connect with a real person and I rate it higher than Facebook, which is more like a mask for our lives than anything else. But I can understand how some people would think it’s fake. Who hasn’t taken part in a conversation that just drips with insincere phrases like, ‘Let’s do lunch!’, ‘You’re right! We should set up the largest snow-cone machine Colorado has ever seen!’, or, my favorite, ‘Call me anytime.’ (Although most of my friends actually do mean that last one. I have heard first-time acquaintances utter those words and wondered why. Do they have a shed full of axes? Are they trying to unload all their Kikkoman sauce on me? Oh God, they’re trying to sell me blocks for the Great Pyramids, aren’t they? Maybe I have a sinister mind, though). Read more
Autumn! This used to be my favorite time of the year. The world exploding in color, the crisp air, the smell of southern pines in the wind. Harvest festivals and masquerade parties. Apple pie. The smell of chimney smoke when people light up their fireplaces. Piles of leaves to dive into. Not to mention my birthday, which falls in late September. Why wouldn’t you love this season?
Then I moved to Sweden where it rains almost every single day until the snow shows up. I no longer wanted to walk through the leaves anymore because I came out all muddy and wet. An umbrella was required when you left home and, yes, it’s cold, but most years Sweden skips over ‘crisp’ and goes straight to ‘bundle up it’s freezing outside.’
This year, it’s different. I guess the rain came early, or it’s waiting to surprise us–either way, I’m thankful. It’s gorgeous outside! To celebrate, I thought I’d share a few photos. Read more