Saturday, December 20, 2014

Train Tales, volume 1

Some of my favorite time of nearly every day is my time spent on the train. Train commuting suits my person very well. I've had the pleasure of witnessing plenty of interesting/strange/lovely/funny things, and now I'll pass some of that on to you, in the form of Train Tales.

For a large part of my life I refused to eat bananas. I really didn't like anything about them and would occasionally claim to have a banana allergy to avoid being hassled about not wanting to eat them. I don't know what happened in August, but I ate a banana and now I am eating them daily. However! I still don't really like hearing or smelling someone else eat a banana… It is something I need to get over, but until that happens, be assured that when a man sat across the aisle from me on the train and started eating a banana, I was certainly aware of it and anxiously waiting for it to be gone. The train hadn't even departed yet, so any background noise I could hope for was severely lacking. But alas, it is one banana. It will be gone soon. And then there is nothing to worry about.

But would I be writing my first Train Tale about a man who ate one banana? No, no I would not.

This is a very hungry guy who sat near me, and shortly after finishing the first banana he starts in on a second banana. And if you are a person who hasn't eaten breakfast, I suppose two bananas could be justified. Especially if you are taking your breakfast on a train, because bananas come with their own portable packaging. I can understand two bananas, but when he cracked open the third one I started to be amazed. And I started thinking about how I needed to remember this and tell my friends.

Now this is starting to sound mythical, but I am so serious when I say: This guy ate four bananas within a twenty minute time span. Four.

The End!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

7QT: swedish, and jumping on trees, and posture

1. I think these are the most important Swedish words I know. First, fika. Second, lagom. Third, jantelagen. These mean, approximately and respectively: coffee and sweet treats, everything in moderation, and don't try to stand out above any others.

So pretty much Sweden suits me just fine(:

2. Just two short weeks ago I wrote that I really wanted to make an effort to just speak Swedish at school. I just have to be honest and say that is not really happening. I am doing a good job of hearing Swedish, but I am starting to develop the habit of responding in English. I'm really slow at formulating things to say in Swedish, and I also find it nearly impossible to express myself in Swedish. So for now, English dominates. le'sigh

3. I think it is safe to say that making friends at folk dance school is pretty much nothing like making friends at the office of a job in academia. Guess which one shared this link on fb and which one shared this link. And to be honest I didn't even read the first article, but definitely enjoyed watching the video from that second link. (And apparently 50 years is not enough time to change the fact that NASA is dominated by white men with moustaches…)

Anyhow, I didn't start this intending to go that route. I intended to make some comments about how unusual it is for me to feel so close to people that I haven't known for very long. For one thing, we are physically close because we spend all our days dancing together (and also, that general strong affinity for hugging). But there is also an emotional closeness that comes from spending all day, every day interacting with the same small group of people. You quickly move on from discussions about the weather to topics with a little more heft, which suits me and my introversion just fine.

4. Greg and I were laughing about how our facebook feeds exploded with halloween costumes on halloween. I commented about how strange it was that there were at least four alligators, surprised that this was the most popular costume choice of the year. He kindly pointed out that I was probably looking at mostly dinosaurs. Good point, my friend, good point.

5. I really like this video.

Ever since watching it, I've been thinking about how I'd like to be able to jump onto a tree like that (go ahead and skip to 2:30 if you don't want to watch the whole thing). So the other night I just tried it out. My tips for those wanting to try this: choose a tree with no low branches, and just commit!

6. Apparently posture has become such a central concept in my life that I am now dreaming about it. My posture needs improvement, and now I am just thinking about it all the time. Plus maybe we all read this already, but I am coming out of ten-ish years of being hunched over a computer screen full-time. So I've got some correcting to do.

7. The other day Greg was watching some MJ videos. I commented that Smooth Criminal was probably my favorite song of his. But then I had to quickly correct myself, because that and the song from Free Willy are both favorites. Just so good!

Fun fact: I've gotten into the habit of writing these posts over a timespan of… weeks maybe? So every time I would open a yet-to-be-finished post and read the takes I had already written, I'd find that I wrote a reference to 'yesterday' almost every time. For example "yesterday Greg was watching some MJ videos." So I'm trying to learn to just type "the other day" because it keeps things more honest around here.


The End!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

flood of consciousness

Hej there you old blog, you old pal. I think I want to be one of those people that keeps track of some daily details of life. These people exist, right? It started when they installed this new bike counter leading to central station. Realistically, there are probably over five main ways in which bicycles can arrive at central station. On the one that I use regularly, they just installed this bike counter. It is amazing. I don't know how they can even do these things. Not counting people. Not counting too many bikes. It works through a sensor that is installed under the path, and what happens when a unicycle goes by? These are important things, but from what I've seen, it looks accurate. So then I decided to start writing down which bicycle number I was each time I passed. This is at least once or twice a day, depending on whether I go directly home or go in some other direction. I've got big plans for making some sort of plot with this information once I've gathered up a good collection.

Sometimes I think I only write about bicycling so much to give myself more dimension. It doesn't feel bad to me to be so enthusiastic about folk dance, but I can see other people register my enthusiasm as overzealousness. Overzealousness doesn't win hearts, but neither does an awkward attempt at hiding my enthusiasm or making it seem less. I'm not bothered by my love of folk dance, but I'm so sensitive to people having a negative reaction to it. I don't expect people to match my enthusiasm (or even be anywhere close to it). I sort of expect that the majority of people would have a neutral and open opinion about folk dance. Even if they don't share the same enthusiasm, they understand what it is like to be enthusiastic about a thing. Sort of a "That's cool that you are really into a thing that you love. I'm like that about [insert enthusiasm of your choice]." But it makes me sad when I'm made to feel like it is a bad thing. I don't want to hear people tell me that I shouldn't want to dance more in the evening if I already danced all day long. I have so many feelings about this, but it is not so easy to put words to it. The words really help to sort through the feelings, so I'll keep thinking on it and perhaps come back with more later.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hunting and gathering



I want to be the sort of person who can be good at gathering. I think it would take my almost-crunchy ways to perfect crunchiness. And maybe one of my favorite reasons for blogging is that I can just write whatever I want without ever worrying that I'm confusing non-native english speakers with my weird language tendencies.

A month ago Greg and I went apple picking in a park in the middle of the city. The open apple picking policy in Sweden is a really good thing. Especially when you also find tiny pears.

Earlier this week I had an adventure day planned with a new friend who has dreamily wonderful gathering skills. She showed me where to find mushrooms and also told me which ones were not only edible but also delicious. We found three kinds: fingrarsvamp, taggsvamp, & trattkantareller. Sorry I don't know what they are called in English. I felt so proud and accomplished after getting so many good mushrooms. Plus I completely trust myself to be able to get a positive ID on a trattkantareller on my own. Knowledge! Too bad I have to be practically standing on top of them before I actually see them.

In the afternoon we hunted for geocaches. I had good memories of 'catching geos' with Nicki in college, and returning to the activity did not disappoint. Although I think the geos are getting smaller, as evidenced in the photo above.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A day in the life: Tobo edition

06:30. Alarm. Last week I was waking up before the alarm. This week, not so much… o'well.

07:10. Coffee needs to either be made or in preparation. Today Greg actually was awake at this time too because he had an early class to teach. Even though he is not a morning person, it is still good to have a bit of extra time where we are both home and both awake.

07:40. Leave home. Get on bicycle. Cycle to the train station. You know in Super Mario Kart where you could race against the ghost of your own driving from the previous game? Sometimes I wish I had that so I could compare my pace from one day to the next. Some days I feel strong and feel like I am riding fast. Some days I feel like all the wind is against me, and there are all the cars in the way never leaving a gap big enough for me to cross at that one intersection. But then I get to the train station, and I seem to end up arriving within the same couple minutes every day.

08:00. Arrive at train station. Search for bicycle parking. I have an ideal row where I would park. It is primarily the ideal so that I can actually find my bike again in the evening when I return to town. After my first day of class I got back to Uppsala and spent a solid five minutes wandering through the bikes looking for my Elegance 3, so now I try really hard to make a strong mental note of where I park every day.

This photo is over two years old, but that is me on my bike and I don't think things have changed much.

08:09. Train departs. I usually spend my time on the train reading, taking notes, or talking with others from the school who might happen to be commuting on the same train as me. This morning I read six (!) pages from a book I am reading that is written in easy Swedish.

08:38. Arrive in Tobo. From here I take my second bike (owning two bicycles is a sure sign of riches, let me tell you) to the institute. This is just a quick seven-ish minutes, including unlocking and re-locking time.

09:00. Class starts! We have two teachers, but usually only one of them is leading the course each day, and they alternate days according to a schedule. Today was an unusual day though, because we had both teachers, and also a guest who was a former student of the class who came to observe and will be teaching us tomorrow. When I moved to Sweden two years ago and took a beginners' course in Swedish folk dance, he was one of my teachers. Today I told him that it will be good to have a lesson with him where I actually understand some of what he is saying. Such a novelty!

Today we did a lot of observing of our two teachers dancing together, and taking note of different things and discussing those things. Then two pairs worked together, with one pair dancing behind the teachers and trying to mimic them exactly, and the other pair observing and giving feedback about what looked the same and what maybe didn't, or how to try to make it look the same. All in all this amounted to more sitting than a typical day, but it was a really interesting way to explore some details in the dance.

10:40. Fika! Stina baked chocolate cake!

11:00. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

12:25. We were having some good discussions and no one realized that lunch had started ten minutes prior. We kind of have these ridiculously good meals every day, but I don't want to talk it up too much or Greg will be jealous of how good I'm actually eating every day. Today we had salad, coleslaw, and bowtie pasta with sauce.

13:10. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

15:00. Fika! Still some cake left. Plus we've had baby oranges lately, but combining them with coffee is a little unfortunate.

15:20. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

16:15. Class ends. I stay and dance for a little bit more. I really really like dancing after class, but so far only a couple of my classmates are enthusiastic about more dancing after a day full of dancing.

16:30. Wash my hands. Change back into civilian clothes. Take bicycle to train.

16:49. Take the train back to Uppsala. There seemed to be some issues with the trains today, so ours was on the opposite track from normal, and the northbound train was super delayed, but luckily no delay in my train:) I spend the train ride home taking notes from the day. Actually I wasn't even able to finish taking my notes, so I'll have to continue that on my train tomorrow morning.

17:25. This train always seems to get in a bit late. Depart train. Locate bicycle. Ride home. (bicycling during commuting times is madness)

17:50. Get home. Start laundry. Make a list of four items to get from the grocery store. Check email, realise that Greg is probably going to be home any minute. Greg arrives. We go to the store and buy eleven items. (Our little shop next door has had kale for the past few days! I couldn't be more excited, so we express our gratitude by buying large quantities! Which only explains one of the seven additional items, but I'm done blogging about the details of my grocery shopping for today.)

18:15. Return home. Wash dishes. Make dinner. [Have dinner made for me.] Eat dinner while watching youtube videos of Dancing with the Stars clips.

And so here is a thing that is not at all related to my day-in-the-life. Why the heck do they keep making the stars on Dancing with the Stars dance a waltz to music that is in beats of 4 and not 3?!?!? This makes me so super incredibly angry. I just cannot even! Don't try to claim that you are teaching these people about dancing. Music & dance. Dance & music. If you want the two to go together, there needs to be a connection between the two. Dancing a dance that is designed in beats of 3 to music in beats of 4 makes ZERO sense. Rant Rant Rant. You are doing a BAD job of teaching non-dancers about dance, DWTS!

Anyhow. The rest of my evening has been fairly uneventful, mostly revolving around laundry. And DWTS anger, apparently. And blogging this super narrative! My favorite part is that I included just one photo that was taken over two years ago. Better luck next time. Thanks for reading along!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How my folk dance life looks

Lately I can't even grasp (or put words to) how good my everyday life is. All of it is just so so good. Even on the days when I am frustrated because I can't understand how I'm doing some step incorrectly. Or even when I understand it is incorrect, but can't figure out how to fix it. Or when I can't sleep because my mind won't let go of wrapping itself around a dance.

Even the negatives start to sound like positives.

I can't imagine many other things that could be as beautiful. To me, this is complete luxury.


A foggy morning at the train station in Tobo. Have I mentioned my school is in a very small town?




My favorite is the two matching dance legs in the foreground.


Not Swedish, but still lovely to watch.


That's more like it(:


And a parting shot of the Tobo train station by night.