Something Swedish


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Sleeps-too-much in Sweden?

I have an unhealthy relationship with our bed. There. I said it.

I literately had to yell at myself to wake up and get my feet on the floor this morning. Which resulted in something similar to the kind of tantrum a toddler throws when they don’t get the toy they want. It’s a daily tug of war between my conscience and my sub-conscience, similar to the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Both whispering into my ears telling me to follow them, except the destination isn’t into a life of evil or good but into a dream world or the real world. Which without fail results in an in-between tossing and turning  similar to falling and tumbling down the rabbit hole, losing track of time and space while insisting on falling asleep and forceably waking myself up at the same time.

This leads to some very strange dreams. Not exactly lucid in the sense of being so realistic, but realistic in the sense that I am usually half awake trying to wake the other half of me.

If I’m not going back to sleep directly from waking up in the morning, then a few hours later I am undoubtedly going to enjoy a “tupplur” or two, which is “nap” in Swedish. I’ve always believed a good nap can help, but not when they are so long and often.

I know a lot of people have trouble getting out of bed, like to/have to sleep long hours, love to nap, and have way worse sleeping patterns such as – oh I don’t know, insomnia, sleep apnea? It’s all very new to me though so bear with me while I indulge myself in this complaint.

This behavior (habit?) started once I moved to Sweden. Once it started I blamed it on jet-lag and an adjusting period, but it’s been two months. Additionally I’ve been here before, three times for two weeks and last summer for two months, it’s nothing too new. One of my big concerns with moving was that I didn’t want it to feel like a vacation. I told myself I would study and work as soon as possible so that I don’t fall into the habit of being a blissfully lazy tourist. Is that what I’ve become? The cycle needs to break! And it will once I start my classes in a couple of weeks, but for now I would like to try it on my own to prove that I can. (at this point the question is- do I really want to!?)

I’ve always been one to wake up at 7 or 8 am no matter what, even during the weekends and days I should stay in bed due to staying out too late the night before. It only makes sense that I wake up later as I am now going to sleep later than I normally used to, but it’s just not balancing out. I know that waking  up at 10-11 isn’t the worst thing in the world (And I’m sure it sounds great to most people) but its the way I feel when I finally drag myself out of bed. I don’t feel rested, I feel exhausted and sluggish. I assume I feel this way because I slept too long. When do I feel rested? When I wake up to kiss my husband goodbye for work, that’s I should stay awake! Darn you shoulder-sleepy-time-devil! So, I’ve narrowed down a few culprits that have been pitching into this plot to keep me sleepy instead of awake and productive:

  • My iphone. *First thing, a disclaimer if you will, I love my iphone and it was the perfect gift.* Having said that, I hate admitting it but half the pull out of bed is to check if there’s anything new brewing on the interwebs. I like to believe that turning on the computer is the first thing most people do. However, with my iphone next to my bed, I check it all while my eyes are half closed, then roll over and continue to snooze. Ultimately this results in forgetting what I read and failing to reply to emails.

Solution #1: No longer keep the phone near the bed. This is sort of like putting the alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get up in order to shut it up/off. Easy fix!

  • Our bed. We have a bed that JUST fits the two of us, it’s not overly comfortable but its good enough. So…when hubby gets out of bed to go to work I stretch out, roll over a few extra times, hog the blankets and pillows, and have the whoooollleeee bed to myself. I love sleeping next to him, but c’mon we all have to admit its a good feeling.

Solution #2: Get new bed? Not sure. We’ve discussed it and of course we soon will, however…if the comfort level rises and the roominess also rises isn’t the chances of me EVER leaving the bed decreased!? Or maybe it will balance out. We will see.

  • Our apartment. It’s small but cozy. We are comfortable and can easily function the space. I know a lot of people couldn’t and think its crazy, but we kind of like it. The only problem is that the bed stares at me ALL DAY. Mocking me. Beckoning me. Whispering sweet nothings into my ear. Mesmerizing me. Alluring me. Singing to me like a siren does to the soon-to-be ship wrecked sailors.

Solution #3: Move. Well, that seems harsh. And of course eventually it will be the bigger solution. However, I think I will try to fold the bed up into a couch every day as soon as I wake up, it is a futon after all – might as well use it as one. It’s kind of an annoying solution but perhaps it will be worth it.

Once the weather gets nicer I’ll spend more time outside (read: away from bed) and if that doesn’t keep me awake then we have some serious issues. Once school starts I will be forced to get up at a certain time, either to get to call or to get things done before class. It’s all about habit and schedule, things that I thought I would have by now that I will just have to create. I read a blog yesterday that suggested doing the most difficult parts of your day first, and I think its a great idea and will help structure my days a lot more. I’ll start my days off with Swedish instead of halfway through/end of the day/whenever I kinda feel like it, so I begin my routine with already feeling accomplished. Off  to hit the books to give this a try! Hope everyone slept well last night!

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Our Town has Three Hearts: “vår stad har tre hjärtan”

Today I thought about the hearts that represent our town instead of the hearts that are pinned up as window displays for alla hjärtans dag. When you walk around our town you will spot hearts everywhere, not only during Valentine’s Day. I thought a brief history of these hearts and my small slice of Sweden would be nice!

(and also I found out a friend from N.Y. will be visiting in the beginning of April and I am already slipping into tour guide mode!  He is our first visitor since July when 10 of my family and friends came to Sweden for our wedding. So excited to show him around!!)

Having town privileges since 1307,  was the largest city on the West Coast in the Middle ages. Denmark and Sweden had many fights over the Halland Provence, of which Halmstad was the largest part of and was a place of great conflict and interest. During the time when this area of Sweden was ruled by, and was an important fortified city of Denmark, Halmstad received the “three hearts” as a gift from the Danish royal family in the 16th century after having put up a valiant defense against the Swedes. It was in 1645 that the Swedes conquered and took hold of Halmstad.

You can find the hearts anywhere and everywhere: bus stops, railings, buildings, trash cans, etc.! It’s like a huge scavenger hunt! (Another thing to keep an eye out for is the Provence animal, the salmon.)

There are two large landmarks still in tact in this area of Halmstad, having survived a blaze that destroyed the town in 1619. A 15th-century church, St. Nikolai located next to town square, and the Halmstad castle still stand tall. It was earlier in the same year as that fire that the Kings of Sweden and Denmark met in that castle.

Gates of fortification were in place for defense during battles, now only the north one remains, “Norre Port,” the other three were town down in 1734.

I’ve never been to it, but there is a nature reserve that ties into this history quite well. It is called Danska Fall, the precise spot where the Danish army is said to have fallen after the final battle of Fyllebro in 1676. The Danish soldiers escaped via the bridge over the falls to get away from the Swedes, not knowing that they had weakened the bridge, which broke leaving Danes to fall and drown – hence the name “The Danish Falls”.


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When the Cat’s Away, the Mice will Play – “När Katten är Borta Dansar Råttorna på Bordet”

Min Katt, hon heter Delilah

Hmm, not really, but tonight is the first night by myself in Sweden. The hubby has to travel for work sometimes and so here I am while he is in Denmark until tomorrow. I wish the title of this post could be a little more accurate, but I guess we don’t actually have the roles of cat and mouse so it wouldn’t work regardless, I just really wanted to use it as a title and show a photo of my cat.

For anyone who knows some amount of Swedish will recognize that the Swedish title isn’t an exact translation of the English one.  Instead of translating word for word, which would be, “När katten är borta, möss spela” (When the cat is away, mice play). Swedish has a corresponding idiom as English which has the same meaning but is said differently, the text in the title translates to: “When the cat is away dancing rats are on the table.”

It is almost 8pm here (20:00- I don’t think I’ll get used to saying time this way) and the most “playing” I’ve done was to take a lovely two hour “tupplur,” which means “nap.” I learned that word yesterday- from twitter! And I certainly haven’t danced on any tables!! (I think I like being likened to a mice over a rat)

I suppose my version of “playing” will be staying up later than normal  to see if I can make some phone calls to some family and friends. With the six hour time difference it’s hard to get a hold of people who work until 5 or 6pm, since I am usually sleeping or at least off the computer at that point since hubby wakes up kind of early. The timing hasn’t been too hard to deal with though, it turns out that when I wake up early enough (7 – 8 am) a handful of friends are still awake in NY from that night before since its 1 or 2 am for them (Gotta love the night owls, the bar hoppers, the bar workers, and the insomniacs). And then there’s my Aunt who wakes up super early and is usually the first person I talk to once or twice a week around noon my time. Some friends and family don’t work or have traditional hours so I’ve been pretty lucky to get a few calls every once in awhile.

Technology is amazing, having Skype has allowed me to be in another country and not feel as alone. Sometimes its a 60 minute video chat and other times its a quick cigarette break phone call from a best friend. Skype is how we managed a long distance relationship for three years and its how I will keep in touch with friends and family now. Its cheap and easy and even allows me to buy a NY phone number so its affordable for everyone. I know I sound like a commercial, but that’s only because there are still people not taking advantage of it and it helps  me so much on a daily basis.

So, my other “playing” for today was actually pretty routine- shopping for the apartment. There are a few shops in town that I always go to because I love to buy little things to organize and decorate with. I shop carefully, knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees (Why, oh why!?), but it  IS my first apartment and I AM home a lot, so every once in awhile I’ll go to  AhlensLagerhaus, Clas Olson, or TGR to see if I can find something useful. Today felt like the colorful jackpot! Min nya kudde och tre nya korgar – “My new pillow and three new baskets”

Tomorrow I will force myself to study Swedish, I have been slacking; twiddling my thumbs while I wait for my “Personnummer” which will (Aside from making me a real person!) allow me to start SFI, Swedish for Immigrants, and start looking for work. I didn’t come here to wait, I came here to live and learn. And I will!

Reach for the moon, the worst that can happen is you fall short and catch a star.

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Feeling at Home: Känna sig Hemma

I know today is a day to support the website black outs, but while I support it, instead of talking about that, which I assume will be a popular topic for today’s bloggers, I will carry on with my regular content.  Learn more about the SOPA/PIPA  black out here, here or here.

Everyone moves at some point, be it down the block, a few miles away, a different state, a different country. Every time you move you almost rediscover yourself, and in a way need to reinvent yourself. Its a fresh start, even if it’s a five minute walk away from where you were. Moving becomes more and more drastic the further the distance.Why? Even if you are not materialistic, the fact of the matter is you need to start over.

You go through your old stuff, find that a lot of it can be thrown or given away, not worth the hassle of bringing, doesn’t fit, too old, no longer your style or hobby. You organize while you pack, every box has a label and you know where everything is, it might be the most organized your belongings have been in years. You unpack into a new place, new space, new dimensions, new colors. You find where everything has a place. If you can’t make it fit you get rid of it. You are a master of your own domain, but that environment also makes the person. You create it the way you want it to look and feel, the flow of the furniture, the functionality of your belongings. The further you go usually means the less belongings you bring with you, so the less control you have. It’s not about being materialistic, its a comfort zone. Some people pack three suitcases for a 5 day trip, for flexibility, comfort, and security.

Home is where the heart is, I believe that completely. That’s why people are able to move around the world or across the country. Sometimes home is where the money or success is too, it depends what you already have, who you are with, what you need in life. Your “house” changes, not your home. Home is where you make it and it is what you make it to be. My home is now in Sweden, with someone I love, in a small apartment, with about a fourth of my belongings. For those of you that have moved to another country, what did you bring with you? What was important enough to bring and easy enough to leave behind? How many suitcases did you drag to the airport?

Once you’re there, how do you make it feel like home after you threw out or gave away (or left behind) a lot of your stuff? You shop. You decorate. Well, at least I do.  We started transforming the apartment to be more “ours.” We shopped at Ikea (Which is from Sweden for those who don’t know, and usually has a nice cafeteria with some Swedish food  if you are ever curious), we bought from nearby stores, we scouted thrift shops, and flea markets, trying to tastefully meld our styles.

Its also about which things you bring. Sentimental items, photographs, memorabilia, decorative touches, hobby supplies. Those are the items that make the place more your own, no matter where you are.

(Yes, that is my first NY souvenir, bought out of JFK Airport right before my  flight to Sweden)

Maybe this post is a sentimental follow up of yesterdays post about adjustment, or maybe it was triggered by a thoughtful gesture the hubby made. He didn’t only make a gesture. He made a cubby.  That’s right, my hubby made me a cubby! Apparently the word “cubby” doesn’t translate well into Swedish, so it threw him off when I said I needed a cubby and that I would go and shop for one. Cubby, short for cubby-hole, being a small space or enclosement used for storage, I suppose is not an often used term. I fondly remember having cubbies in elementary school for our jackets and belongings.

So, yesterday he arrives home from work with a bag from Clas Ohlson, a large Swedish chain that has a little bit of everything-household, in one hand and a large plank of wood in the other. Whats in the bag you might ask? A large hand saw, nails, and some ruler-leveling tool, of course! Before I knew it my husband transformed into a carpenter right before my eyes and build me the most perfect cubby ever! What do you do to save space or get organized? Apparently I love shelves and hanging things up!

It’s the little adjustments we make that makes a house feel more like home. Just like the adjustments you need to make in yourself to make your new life feel like home. Three small shelves has made my day and made me feel more comfortable, I can only imagine what it will feel like once I learn the language. What makes you feel more at home after you move?