At this point it should be pretty obvious why I’ve been stalling on posting the Helsinki ugly photo collage. As I mentioned last week, we spent that entire weekend trapped on a floating mall food court just traveling to and from Finland, so we were only actually there long enough for me to take 11 pictures — and they’re all terrible. But I’m a girl of my word, and I promised you this, so here. Take it. (Yes, it’s a mini version.) Just please promise me you’ll form your opinion of Helsinki from a way better source than this hot mess.
I gave in and bought a metro card yesterday. I was trying so hard to avoid doing this while I’m here, first of all because they are friggin’ expensive, and second, because it’s an obvious sign of weakness. The metro is for people who are lazy and uninspired, poor lost souls who prefer the convenience of cramming their bodies and belongings sardine-like into a tiny moving train six stories underground, rather than just putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the fresh air and scenery on street level. The metro is for wusses.
But now I have joined their ranks, because folks, it is just too effing cold out there. I can’t do that walk anymore, especially now that the party is over and it rains every day. I did everything I could to prolong this moment…I tried walking varied routes to and from work to keep it fresh and fun; I made a game of finding delicious new cappuccino spots along the way; I even bought really adorable brand name, not-affordable rain boots so I could better play the part of the seasoned and fashionable Stockholmer who scoffs at the very sight of a metro station. But I’m weak.
I bring this up because I’m afraid there are implications. I have someone else’s butt now. I found it when I wasn’t even looking for a new one — just minding my own business, walking three or four miles a day on steep terrain — but it’s mine now, and I want to keep it. It is the behind of a spry little teenager who kicks and jumps just for fun. It’s unexpected and wonderful. And now it’s in jeopardy. How can I possibly hold on to the glory if I start taking the train to work? This is bad, guys. I might have to give up my sour cream and onion chips.
The “new” has settled into more of a livable routine now. All of the cute and seasonally inappropriate dresses I brought have been neatly tucked away in a closet I never use, and a rotation of jeans and warm sweaters have taken their place. Grocery shopping is down to a science (made easier by the recent grilled cheese infatuation), and my projects at the office are real and familiar work now – not busy work, as they are wont to be at the start of a new job.
This comfy routine has also given way to a few revelations:
1. Apparently I like sour cream and onion chips, because I’m averaging a bag a week. I’m pretty sure that the last time I actually purchased a bag of potato chips in Florida Life, I was a teenager, but here, they’re a part of my day and I rely on their crunchy goodness.
2. Away from my own furniture and my “stuff,” I’m not nearly the neat freak I usually am. The same girl who scoured the kitchen every single night at home has yet to think twice when the dishes pile up for three days here. I still clean my bathroom regularly, but I’ve not picked up the vacuum once yet. Its buttons are in Swedish, though I do realize that turning one on is pretty universal, so this is a weak excuse.
3. Even with only two channels and rarely anything interesting on TV, I still haven’t touched the two ab workout DVDs I packed with good intentions. Apparently, these are a last resort no matter where you live or how many times you’ve seen that same episode of How I Met Your Mother.
4. I drink way more cappuccino than is healthy or advisable for my size – even more than my previous twice-a-day Starbucks trips at home would imply – and I eat far fewer vegetable servings because they cost four times more here. No matter my relatively healthy lifestyle in Florida Life, it’s been surprisingly easy to return to a college diet when the price is right.
5. And it turns out I really don’t miss my closet full of clothes, or any of my belongings at all, but I do miss these guys. A lot.
Well, my number was up this week. It was, unfortunately, my turn to grace the front of our company newsletter with a dorky photo and a GROW bio that – despite the fact that we get to write our own quotes – still always manages to embarrass while providing fodder to friends and coworkers for days. I knew this was coming, and I dreaded the moment ever since I saw my friend‘s goofy Estonia photo last month – but there was nothing that could be done. It was my time in history. And now I’ll be forever immortalized on the Internets for having uttered the sage words “It’s cold in September! In Florida, we’d still be going to the beach…”
Yep, true words of wisdom to share with my fellow employees, and the world. It’s why they pay me the big bucks, folks.
Sometimes when you stop blogging for too long – say, to travel around Europe for a week, and then to catch up on a marathon of Cops and Family Guy on Swedish syndication when you’re back – you lose your motivation to write. It’s not for lack of stories to tell – in the last week, I’ve been in three countries and I have probably a hundred things I could write about here. I could even fall back on another ugly photo collage to fill some bloggie space. Oooh, actually, maybe I’ll make one after this…
But the point is, I feel rather out of shape. So let’s just agree to consider tonight’s post a training blog. I will write some stuff that isn’t particularly compelling or organized and with absolutely no theme or story arc, just to get back on the wagon here, and you (three people who read this) will support me in that. You will!
So first thing’s first, because most of my posts have to contain some variation of this topic (I don’t make the rules): It’s freezing here. Like really, really cold, and not just because I think temperatures in the 60s are chilly. Lately, I’ve been conducting my usual 2-mile commute-on-foot in morning temps of around 30 degrees. 30!! And we’ve barely scratched October. November is going to be a long month, folks.
Also on the weather subject, I should mention here that all week long, there has been an ice cream truck blaring its universally creepy music outside my apartment at around 9 PM. Every night. This seems not only an odd season for it, but also time of day, and neighborhood, because everyone in Östermalm is retired and old and looong asleep with their pomeranians by that hour. And yet, I too am always in my pajamas by then, so I never make it downstairs for a push pop either. That’s right, I’m really living it up Euro-style these days. 29 is the new 80.
On a slightly less lame note, I’ve had grilled cheese for dinner four nights in a row now (I said slightly less), and I have just enough cheese left for another one tomorrow. This may sound sad to you, but with all the $26 meatballs and heavy cream sauces I’ve been eating every day, I am LOVING grilled cheese week. And so is my credit card. This is a trend I actually plan to continue until I pay off the Prague trip, so don’t expect any exciting “OMG I had the most delicious fois gras last night” posts in the near future. Or ever, because fois gras is gross.
Ok now I feel like doing the ugly photo collage thing so stay tuned.
Blog, you are a bottomless pit. No matter how much I post, you always need more or you just end up looking sad and abandoned. It’s tedious.
Anyway, here’s the latest…the Frankfurt beast of a book fair is coming up next week, so work has reeeeally been a grind the last few days. I’ve been focusing on English translations for about two dozen different authors and manuscripts – which is a lot, just trust me – and in my spare time I’ve been piloxing and African dancing my little butt off in company gym class (side note: the classes are either getting way, way harder or I’ve been snacking on one too many Swedish pastries lately…side note to the side note: my group has an obscene amount of client meetings, always involving mountains of sugary baked goods, so a twice-daily drive-by of the conference room is usually part of my routine. I have no will power whatsoever around cookies and cinnamon rolls).
In related news, tonight I had a banana for dinner – a nasty little bruised and gooey one I lugged home from the company-sponsored fruit-in-the-break-room program. In other words, the only thing I could afford. If you know me at all, you know I would rather eat my own foot than go near a ripe banana – I only like the really tart green ones – but clearly this is a new era. A very cold, impoverished era in which I only consume found-food on the weekdays. TGIPayday tomorrow is all I have to say.
Annnnd, I think that’s it. I’ll end here and just add that it’s COLD. Very, very cold. And there’s really not a good picture to go with any of what I just wrote so I’ll just include a night shot of a fountain. Such a compelling blog post from start to finish.
It’s a little weird to be posting the highly anticipated Stockholm: Week Three ugly photo collage recap tonight, because that means I’ve already entered Week Four of this whole adventure, and that’s impossible. I just got here. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s been a mix-up with the dates, and I’d like to speak with someone in charge. I only came into this thing with 13 weeks to play with, and I’m supposed to believe I’ve already used a quarter of of it? No! I’m not fluent yet, I haven’t eaten nearly enough meatballs, and I still look the same (ok yes, a very small part of me thought I might look taller and little more European by this point, or at the very least have stopped dressing like an American college kid…UGG boots and faded jeans to the office today, Reagan? really?). I can’t go back yet.
Interestingly, though, my bank account makes a convincing argument that it’s time to go home. This is probably why they don’t let us stay longer…I’ve already been reduced to eating Swedish cup-o-noodles for lunch twice this week, because even that is like $27 a packet – and, this being a particularly desperate weekend between paychecks, if I want coffee tomorrow (and who are we kidding? yes, I’ll want coffee) I’m going to have to walk the 1.8 kilometers to the office cappuccino machine. On a Saturday. I dare you to think of something sadder you’ll be doing this weekend than that.
Now, without further ado…Stockholm: Week Three!
In the spirit of last week’s really unremarkable and kind of sad-looking photo collage, I’m proud to present to you, Internet…
Stockholm: Week Two*!
* Now with 43% more pictures!
I think I’m really improving…
Stockholm, you tease. For nearly two weeks you’ved led me to believe that you are perpetually sunny and glorious, with crisp, early-fall temperatures in the refreshing mid-50s — perfect for walking miles upon miles, because with such lovely weather there is simply no other way to travel. But today? 40s and dark and rainy? Why would you do this to me so early in our relationship, with so many months still to go? And on a Monday. We’re fighting.
I’m fond of this photo. It’s not so much for the hop-on harbor tour it commemorates, nor for the jaw-dropping Vasamuseet towering just out of frame. It’s not even because of that obvious first-week, anything-is-possible, life-is-effing-beautiful, shit-eating grin that’s plastered on my face – testimony to how much I already loved this city by Day 3. All great memories, but no…I like this photo because it remains the last known sighting of my bare forearms outside. Adjö, summer clothes. I will miss you.