Friday, December 30, 2011

2011/2012 – hi, goodbye and welcome.

Welcome 2012.

We've said goodbye to one year and hi to another. Many of us want to sum up what we've left behind and make a plan for what's next on the agenda. When asked to grade the year 2011, in the end, I gave it a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10.

I've said my heart's worst goodbye, which would make the year a 1 or 2. But then again, with one goodbye comes another hello. We go through life, leaving certain things behind, but will for sure be welcomed by something else if we only let it happen. During 2011, I said hi to so many new and interesting places, people and passions, which in the end, all added together, made the year a little bit better than average.

Now, I welcome 2012 with light and great expectations. My only New Year's resolution is to collect phone numbers and business cards and keep listening to my heart, which will always know that life is about farewells and reunions – somehow, somewhere, someday.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Relax, woman!

Christmas break, but never really any time off from self. Not when running into the unknown, searching for adventures, planning the future, forgetting the past, stressing about the unavoidable, trying to fit in, yet wanting to stand out.

Days on the couch, in the OnePiece, next to the fire place, eating chocolate. Sounds like heaven, right? Yet, I cannot really relax, because my head is even more all over the place than is my heart.

Need to practice. Need to let go. Need to let that thinking head explode. And then just relax.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Break.

Dear reader,

Your devoted blogger has now landed in her hometown in her homeland. In her home-home.

She is being bossed around by her BFF (the two-year-old nephew), waiting patiently to see the newest member of the family, having spa night in the sauna with her sister, making gingerbread houses here and there, eating VB cheese, making Christmas candy and completing other duties of great significance. As one can see, the schedule is packed, hence blogging will be set aside for a few days.

Your devoted blogger wishes you all love and warmth and a very, merry Christmas!

And the theme of this year's house, well, it was kind of a given:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From my home to home-home.

I left my home approximately 25 hours ago. Since then I have been travelling back and forth in time and now I have landed in the future, compared to where I started.

It's 8:00pm and I had completely neglected how dark it is in Sweden this time of the year – it totally makes sense we go crazy over Lucia and all the candles. Stockholm shows off with a little bit of snow on the ground and the hotell lobby where I am seated provides me with glögg.

I have another 14 hours to go and I really hope Umeå delivers now, snow wise. Otherwise I know it will be nothing but perfect. I am on my way towards the place I should be this time of the year. I have left my lovely 305-home to go home-home.

Home is where your heart is. And you know what, my heart is all over the place, because that is how big it is. But for Christmas, it will always and forever be with my family.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

I have spent so much time and shed so many tears at airports around Europe. Even though airports have meant mostly farewells, awkward goodbye kisses and broken hearts, I still love them.

Once passed security check I enter in a world of its own. I'm in a no-mans-land and I wander around with no obligations – other than making it to the gate on time.

Chicago O'Hare, where I'm currently located, will definitely make it into top five airports. Just look at this amazing corridor. And there is always something special about an airport with a train operating between the different terminals. One point for that too. I'm also willing to give an additional bonus point for the cute Christmas decorations.

I'm having a good time. Computer. CNN running on the TV screen. And a USA Today.

Why don't I pack my bags more often?

I have missed this – travelling. The hassle of carrying bags around town. Make sure all important documents are where they should be. Be at the right place at the right time. 

I do a lot of travelling back and forth in my head and in my heart. But it's usually when I travel for real that I start seeing things clearly. 

It's a good thing I have learned how to travel light. I try not to pack more than just those absolutely necessary items. And every time I pack, I wonder why I'm not doing it more often. It keeps me alive and creative.

Me and my bags are on the go and we really like it. Bon voyage to us!

Merry Christmas America!

So it comes, going home to Sweden day for Grandma. Going to Atlanta day for Tattarn. Waiting for family members to come day for Iron Ass.

We are all off to celebrate Christmas a little here and there. I have one incredibly long journey ahead of me, starting in approximately one hour by taking the metro to the shuttle to the airport. Five flights and one night at the airport in Stockholm and I'll be home with my beloved family.

Loooong trip. But it will be so worth it when I get to hug them all. Oh, I'm excited!

Merry Christmas America! God Jul! So long!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stress relief! Enter: sick days.

So, one might wonder, what happened to the big weekend of celebrations?

Well, after lots of yawning we did go out on Friday and it became such a weird night. However, at last and at least we got 30 minutes of dancing and that was fine. That was also all dancing there was this weekend. Saturday I totally passed out and was merely dancing between headaches, a high temperature, hot and cold.

Awful, yet relatively expected. That is what happens when you relax after a stressful period, isn't it? It felt quite miserable, spending this sought-after weekend on the couch, but at least I had very nice company who made sure I had medication, kiwi and orange juice. That is pretty good stuff.

Today, I'm getting back to normal and slowly but surely I'm getting ready for tomorrow's long trip to Sweden! "I'm driving home for Christmas. Oh, I can't wait to see those faces!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finally finals finished!

After awkward last day on campus, we made sure to sleep a little bit (with the emphasis on a little, at least for Grandma) and now we are doing our best to cheer up, move on and go out.

We see no other way to do it. Tired, but happy, we raise our glasses and say Cheers and Merry Christmas!

The absurd night and day and soon I might just cry.

These have been some bizarre 32 hours. And that is 32 hours of being awake. I experienced a campus lock down. I found myself walking around talking for hours in the middle of the warm Virginia night – because sometimes you just have to get it all out. All of a sudden, it was morning and I had to finish my final exam for my favorite PR class.

Tattarn and Grandma did not sleep one single second throughout the whole night. We walked into Iron's room just after 7am, woke her up with a (not so lovely) song and some candles. I held my final presentation and I think it went well. I managed to do 14 pullups and 56,5 pushups and got so much praise from my very best personal trainer.

I received a very rewarding e-mail in my inbox that put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. I revised my last journalism story, actually felt quite content with it all and ticked it off the to-do-list.

I am officially on Christmas Break.

I am exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. I haven't slept in at least 32 hours and I don't even know if I'm tired anymore. I might cry or I might just smile all night long. Whatever. I'm on Christmas Break.

Focus: FINAL Final Exam.

Shoes are neatly lined up in the hallway. Clothes are folded and placed in the wardrobe. Kitchen is shiny, dishwasher is running. Bathroom is scrubbed and tomorrow's workout clothes are packed. Bed is made and papers are filed. Candles are lit and music is playing softly.

I clean when I am anxious.

Sometimes, I wish I could clean up the mess that is me. But there is a time and a place for everything and now I need to focus on what has been my number one priority these last few months: study!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to do it?

How will you write the book when you're afraid of spelling out the words?
How will you sing the song when you can't even utter the lyrics?

How will you run to the future when the past is always in front of you?
How will you see new opportunities when your eyes are firmly closed?

How will you open new doors when your heart is locked and you've lost the key?

First campus lock down.

Just before evening class, an e-mail appeared in my inbox: 

"Alexandria Campus, please lock down, there is a police incident adjacent to the campus please remain in the buildings and away from the windows."

We didn't know much about the "incident" so our class started and we got to hold our final presentations (check!). Once class was over, it was apparently okay to let students out again so we left campus and weren't really affected by anything. 

As it turned out, the "incident" was a suicidal, armed man in a nearby building. Whatever happened to him I do not know. Hopefully, no one got hurt.

In America – safety before anything.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Off we go... the Military Men – and surely women too! Då i vårt mörka hus, stiger med tända ljus...

Tick, tick, tick. The life of a student is close to the end.

I'm trying to enjoy the life of a student for one or two more days now. Trying to appreciate the beauty of spending an afternoon writing at Busboys & Poets (today, in Shirlington) and take advantage of the flexible hours.

I have three assignments to tick off my list before taking off for a Christmas break:

- Group project presentation for Business and Communications class
- Revise a column (which actually is voluntarily, but for a diligent student there is never really a choice)
- Write a fact sheet and a background story for a PR class

Friday afternoon, I'll leave the classroom and God knows when I'll be back. Let me tell you that as much as I do enjoy the life of a student, I also loathe it. It's an awkward love-hate-relationship and I'm ready to move into something else now. Just three more assignments to go. Tick, tick, tick.

Lucia - one last time.

Yesterday's Lucia performance was so very cozy and we got to stay at the Ambassador's Christmas party afterwards, having glögg and good food (prepared by our dear friend Frida).

Tonight, we'll walk up the stairs of House of Sweden one last time. Kind of sad that this sweet Lucia experience is coming to an end and kind of exciting that it will be in front of the Swedish national defence and other military people.

We are happy to sing yet another time and I am glad to have been a part of this project. Tonight we'll knock 'em out. När mörker och kyla ligger kring vårt hus, då vill vi vänta på julen kring ett levande ljus...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And the singing goes on...

...back to House of Sweden and the Swedish Ambassador on this actual St. Lucia Day.

Happy Saint Lucia. I wish you all love and warmth and hope you have some light in you life this dark period of the year.

Night owl being confused.


I'm trying to sort things out. And I'm trying to get the final journalism assignment done. I've got glögg and candles. Not so much brain, but I know I'll deliver a news story for tomorrow's class. At this late hour, I'm completely ignoring the anxiety over performing well. I just want to get it done.

It hurts me from the inside saying so, but you can't always be on top. Sometimes, you're just the night owl in the tree flying around being confused.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The weak link in my chain needs a hug.

I haven't been homesick once since I left my previous home in Gothenburg and my homecountry of Sweden. As mentioned before, it's not my thing. And as I recently realized, it's also because I haven't been letting any emotions out whatsoever.

Even the fairly strong one has a weak link in her chain. I have one too. And let me tell you, I guard it with my life. Try to come close to it and I'll do anything in my power to protect it. I don't want my chain to break. It's too much of an effort to fix it and I simply don't want to.

So I keep a distance and I keep it blurry.

But every now and then, I need some extra glue and tape to keep it all together. I am so very grateful that I will get to see my lovely family in no more than ten days. It will be good to let Grandma rest for a bit and just come home and be the little baby sister.

I want a hug from someone I can really and truly trust. I'm lucky to have plenty of arms to dive into when I enter my childhood home.

To prioritize.

Yea, about that studying.

What have I been up to today? I walked into the gym. Started off with a little warm-up – a little chat. Well, it's important to keep up the social life too. Isn't it? Tired legs jumped up on the treadmill, but I pushed myself and ran fast even though I felt like I was going to fall.

I didn't fall. I'm just not that kind. And the rest of the workout was fine. Some parts of it even really good. I was happy to hear "Wow, that was just perfect" after finishing my first set of pullups. I'm not the bragging kind, but I've worked so hard and it sure as [insert suitable word] feels rewarding to see some results.

But are we seeing any good study results today? Not so much. Not so far. Right now I need a minute of rest with some glögg and I'm sure that news story will write itself later on. Somehow. It's important to prioritize in life.

I needed to know that I am doing at least something good, so I went to the gym. I like it there. Maybe I should have been a gym instructor instead. Or just a person doing nothing but working out. That would have been neat.

Need a workout to pull myself up and deal with finals.

It's getting close now. Really close to the end of school. I'm trying to reenergize my tired brain.

Over a cup of coffee, I'm thinking about how to organize this day. No classes, but a news story, a fact sheet and a background story to write. Want and need to go to the gym. Want to work on the pullups and need to clear my head.

Coffee finished. So, time to just take the next best bus and head off to the gym? That's probably a good idea. Hopefully, I'll leave with some inspiration and energy to deal with the finals.

It's getting close now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

305 – gingerbread version.

After today's Lucia performances we got a little gift from IKEA – so happy to discover that it was a gingerbread house! We like Christmas and all its belongings and put together a cute little cottage with some frosting and peppermint crunch. It was supposed to be decorated with peanutbutter M&M's too, but we ate them all.

Isn't it neat, our little gingerbread 305? We like it so much it actually made it onto the VIP shelf.

Swing by IKEA and hear us sing.

We just cannot get enough of singing. So today, we're heading towards IKEA at College Park. The first performance is at 1pm and the second will start at 3pm.

Swing by and hear us sing!

"Natten går tunga fjät, runt gård och stuva..."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Lucia celebrations in DC.

If you missed out on last week's Lucia procession, come to St James Episcopal Church this evening. We will be spreading joy and light around 5pm I believe, but I guess you would have to be there a lot earlier than that.

Anyhow, Lucia performance in a church sure is something. Last week, I almost started crying because it was so beautiful. And I was up there singing myself. How inappropriate, Grandma. But so beautiful.

Last week at the Augustana Church.

Friday, December 9, 2011

So. Close. To. End.

Enough is enough!

Seriously. I. Want. Break. Now. It's so close now. So close. The few things left to do are:

- Communications exam
- Final exam in journalism class II
- Revise final story for journalism class I
- Group project presentation for communications class
- Final exam for PR class II? We don't really now that yet, but it'll probably be something.

When all that is ticket off. Im heading off to Sweden and good old Umeå. Wow. I'm looking forward to snow, family and a little bit of rest.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas is so worth being fat for. Grandma knows how to...

Why study for tomorrow's exam when you can make Rocky Road while listening to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby singing Christmas carols for you? And while I was in the mood, I also made some peppermint bark.

"This is the best candy I have ever had," Iron Ass stated with her mouth full of peppermint chocolate. Coming from someone who loves candy (especially peppermint candy) and dessert, that meant a lot to Grandma.

And yes, it all did taste good. Wow. Christmas is SO worth being fat for.

Brainstorm and collect things from the woods.

"The key to creativity is to have lots and lots of ideas, then throw away the bad ones."

- Linus Pauling

That's why we collected lots of things from the woods when we were about to Christmas
decorate our apartment. Most of it went out on the balcony, but some of it we used.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I want to live in a gym.

It's not that I'm not strong enough – my shoulders are just popping out of place when I fully extend my arms. Milon vs. Pullups: apparently I made it! Even though I was not completely satisfied myself, I got a "good job" from my brilliant pullup coach.

Today's workout was great. I had so much fun and I felt quite strong. I was pushed to my limit and I pushed myself far beyond it. I like that. No pain, no gain.

It's only two weeks left of going to this gym Monday-Friday. It makes me sad. Period.

I wish I could live in a gym. I wish I could live in that gym.

Hey, Time! Wait for me!

Time flies! In two weeks from now I will be walking on Swedish grounds. I have one word for that: surreal.

I am very much looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, there is nothing in the world like that. The first thing on my agenda is to make a gingerbread house with the two Bergström brothers – not my two brothers, but my two oldest nephews. And then, just the usual, wonderful things we do together.

Lovely family time!

But please, Time, walk slowly now until then. I want to enjoy December and two weeks in Virginia/DC when we are just ticking off things from the to-do-list without expanding it. I want to have lazy days at Busboys, go ice-skating at the mall, look at Christmas decorations around town and have coffee in cozy Old Town Alexandria.

Time, please wait for me and let me enjoy what you have to offer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We survived, we survived!

Alright. We're finally here. After unclear information and different messages, we now know for sure that today, was the last Pack Ass Tuesday of the year. Forever, we might even say.

This last Pack Ass Tuesday really peaked. It's been raining, it's been extremely grey and humid. The computer room was even more disgusting than usual and of course I picked the slowest computer of them all. Iron Ass's soup leaked out in all of her gym bag (gympapöse, Swedish word of the day, for those of you interested in learning our language). We were extremely hungry after the workout and for the first time in history, we got to stand in line and wait for the microwave. It just didn't click – which it should not do on a PA Tuesday.

We are all very happy to have come out of these long and exhausting Tuesday experiences alive and will celebrate with a cozy movie night. We're here. We made it through. And we're happy that it's over.

It most certainly IS a good morning and go Finland!

Woke up before the alarm and wasn't tired at all. Don't you just love it when that happens? Now I'm just waiting for my roomies to wake up too and join me for a morning power walk. This is what's great about the life of a student – the flexible hours.

So, completely different topic, but let us all remember that today is Finland's Independence day. With my roots in this blue and white country, I should light blue and white candles and put them in my window. I don't have any of those candles, but I'll honor my heritage with a big GO FINLAND!

Have a good one, peeps, now the roommates are starting to move around in the apartment.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Love on a plate.

Dear reader,

Isn't life great, after all? So much joy to be found everywhere. If you really think about it.

Happiness is waffles as a late night snack in a very cool house. Know how to play your cards and learn how to appreciate all the wonderful details your surrounding has to offer you. Simply, understand how great life is and remember that when in doubt.


Girl who likes food and enjoys life in general

Hard work pays off.

Had a final exam in one of the PR classes this morning. It was to be followed by a take home exam due Thursday and even though I did find the assignment quite interesting, it was still yet another paper to write. Therefore, I was so [insert appropriate adjective here, I could only think of inappropriate ones] satisfied to receive the following e-mail right after finishing the in class exam:

"You have already received an 'A' in the class. You do not have to take the open book final."

Thank you Professor. But most of all, thank me for working hard throughout the semester. Hard work does pay off. It's always nice to be reminded of that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Took the metro to Foggy Bottom.

B1 and B2. One night in Georgetown and the world's your oyster. Or something like that. Took the metro to Foggy Bottom and the rest is definitely making it in to our special little book of history and stories.

Sometimes, it's great to just leave both Grandma and Miss Alert Student at home and dance like there is no tomorrow. Unfortunately for me, there was a tomorrow, which would be today. But I must say, it was totally worth it.

Pain is temporary. Glory lasts forever. A little foggy but a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

SWEA's Christmas Bazaar at House of Sweden.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At least we're trying to get into Christmas mood in the middle of finals and pushing our creativity to last throughout these last PR cases and writing assignments.

Today, Tattarn and Grandma participated in some Christmas celebrations at House of Sweden (the Swedish embassy), where we sang and showed DC some Swedish Lucia traditions.

This is what it looked like:

Needed some help with the lyrics...

For the Lucia – candles in her hair.

Here you have Sweden!

It was actually a lot of people attending the event.

Christmas along the Potomac River.

Glögg for $3.