Monday, June 2, 2014

Starting to feel real now.

Here it is June already. The time is flying by quickly now and before I know it, we will be off to Israel to live. I've already submitted our 3 month notice to the utilities that we subscribe to end service at the end of August. Next week we are heading back to Canada for some training and to see both of our families albeit brief on the family visits on both ends. Thank god for our friend Runar who watches our dogs most of the time when we travel, I don't know what we would do without him. He is one of the many people I will miss from Stockholm, and I hope that they all take advantage of us living in Tel Aviv and visit (as long as we have the room as we have no idea what we are moving into yet). We've planned our farewell party as well as a last tour of the area before we leave and we've already started sorting tossing stuff out and packing what little we want to pack ourselves. 

There are all sorts of things I am thinking about in regards to Tel Aviv such as; how will I make friends if I am not working? The language barrier and how big will it be (Hebrew is hard!). The climate will be very different from Sweden and that will take some adjusting too as well. I am sure all of this will be sorted, but it's still rolling through my mind a few months before we pull up roots and move. 

I do look forward to the adventure, but I really just kind of want the move portion to just be over as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

".......Aren't you excited??......"

As we are preparing to move from Sweden to Israel (more than likely mid-August) this is the question I get most often. My standard answer now is;"do you get excited when you move?" Moving is a pain in the ass whether it is across the street or across the globe. This will be my third international move in 7 years, and Carl's fifth international move in 14 years. We are not going on vacation, we are relocating so excited is not the word I would use. Nervous, curious and stressed? Yup those might apply.

We move because of a job. Yes it is our choice as we are able to submit our preferences for positions abroad. That job can take us to some far away places and we do have amazing experiences there, I can't deny that. It is however a move, picking up our lives and living it somewhere else. For us it means trying to figure out what to bring and leave behind (or in this instance bring and send back to Canada), getting our dogs to the destination safely, tons of paperwork, updating our inventory, making sure the dogs meet the health requirements of the new country, obtaining new ID's, leaving behind friends, find a new doctor, dentist, veterinarian, barber, gym, learning a new language and in my case if I can't work finding things to do to occupy my day.

At the end of the day, of course I look forward to the adventure of living someplace new. Tel Aviv will be far different from anywhere I have lived before and will present a lot of challenges as well as opportunities, but we need to get there first.

The life of a Diplomat and the family that follows them is far different in reality than what film and television would lead you to believe. It's a job. Every morning you go to an office and perform tasks that are assigned to you. Often times it is easier on the employee as that person steps back into their home country every time they step into the Embassy. The family though are the ones who are immersed in a new language and culture who have to figure out the mundane things like where to shop, can I read labels in this language and where to get gas. Children need to adjust to a new school environment and make friends all over again. For couples with children that is a great network to meet people as all those kids have parents too. As a gay couple it can be more of a challenge.

There are a lot of things to mull over when you make a move like this, so that is what goes through my mind currently. Before we even get there we have to say goodbye to those who we have met here in Sweden. That is always the hardest part, but I've always said if it doesn't hurt when you leave, you didn't do it right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When your sense of safety is shattered.

This past weekend we had two friends, Duane and Jan visiting from Amsterdam and on Friday we had been out being touristy.

Friday night, Duane was not feeling well so he went to bed right after dinner. The remaining 3 of us stayed up and watched VEEP. At 9:30 I took the dogs out and then put the car in the garage. The lights in the entry were way were off so I must have locked everything up for the night.

A bit after 10 pm I went to bed, Jan and Carl stayed up to watch another episode of VEEP. I was in bed surfing, the dogs were in the room with me (Folsom on his bed on the floor, and Sierra up on the bed with me and they were both asleep.) When the show was over Carl dropped all his stuff into the room and then went into the bathroom to brush his teeth, shutting the door. Jan had gone downstairs to get ready for bed himself. Carl could not have been in there more than 5 minutes, he opened the door and then started shouting “who the fuck are you, get out of my house” and took off running.

I jumped out of bed and ran after him. He’d run out the front door, Sierra running after him and was down the street almost to the top of the hill. I could hear him wheezing from his asthma. Sierra came right back to me and Carl yelled at me to call the cops, we had just been broken into. Jan who was downstairs until Carl shouted and ran out of the house never heard any noise from the thieves either.

I phoned the police and they said someone would be there quickly, and they were. The first responder was a guy with a canine unit who walked around the neighborhood to see if he could find them and checked on our neighbors home.

Carl’s old laptop was stolen out of the living room, his Blackberry was stolen as well. My wallet had been gone through, but nothing taken except 20SEK and the box of change that we had on the secretary was missing, all full of 1 SEK coins. They could not have been in the house long at all. As the perps ran away from Carl they dropped his laptop.

The police came (they were cute) and took our statements and Carl’s BBY number. Sierra, was chewing something, and it appeared to be gum. The cops collected it as all we could think was that one of the theirs had spit it out when they ran out. Thirty minutes or so after the police arrived, another group of police knocked on the door, and they had found the box of change. The thieves has dropped it in one of our neighbors driveway. The police picked it all up and brought it back to us, keeping the box to dust for fingerprints. Later we realized that a bottle of Vodka and a bottle of wine was missing too.

Saturday morning I want to the hardware store and bought some items to help me secure the house and installed them right away. We make sure we double and triple lock everything now. All of that helps but we are still shaken by the fact that these individuals were able to get into our house, while we were home without us knowing it. That is really damn scary. Apparently we are the 5th or 6th house in the neighborhood this has happened to, though that doesn't make it any easier.

We no longer feel safe in our own house. It creeps me out to go downstairs at night to make sure everything is locked up without having to turn on every light, afraid of what might be around the corner. Today, Monday was the first time I have been alone in the house since this happened, and even on a sunny day if I hear a noise, or one of the dogs start barking and I can't immediately see the reason why, the hair on my arms stand up.

This feeling will pass, I know it will but until then it feels really weird.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some of my favorite things.....

When you're an expat you often leave people behind that you know and love. You also leave things that are familiar to you and that you took for granted when you lived in your home country. For some reason lately a list of things I am craving lately (mostly food) keeps rolling through my mind. I am going to endeavor to write these down with the hope that list will leave my brain.

  • Tater tots
  • In and Out Burger
  • Taco Bell
  • Dairy Queen
  • St. Hubert Chicken
  • Real Mexican Food
  • Real Maple Syrup
  • Pizza, with lots of meat.
There, we will see if that works or not.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year and a New Journey Begins

Happy New Year, dear readers. Yes, I know I had said I would make an effort to post here more often and I have failed miserably. Life tends to get in the way of sitting down and typing out your thoughts and feelings when you have a hard time sorting them out in your head as it is.

The year that was 2013 has had some major ups and downs; good for me and my husband for the most part, but a tough one for my family in general. The health of my father, who is 91 and suffers from dementia has been a major stressor to our family as a whole, and my eldest sister ended the year having to have major surgery (she is well and recovering nicely, thank you.)

The main news is that Carl and I will not be returning to Canada this summer, we are however being cross-posted to Tel Aviv, Israel. We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to our time there, but it then makes the fact that our time in Sweden is limited very real.

This morning I disassembled our Christmas Tree as it was drying out quickly and was shedding needles by the hundreds. Now for most this is a simple task that happens yearly, but for many, myself included, this can be a sad experience. The color and joy of the lights and the ornaments collected over the years must be stored away for another year, though for us this is not just another year. Those of you who read my blog (when I post) and are part of the expat community that relocates regularly will nod your heads and see where I am about to go. Go on, I know you are.

For us, this is the last year we will take down our Christmas things in this house, in this country. It's the first step in realizing that your time is ending here, or at least it is for me. As you take down the ornaments you take extra care in wrapping the very fragile ones. I had stored up bubble wrap just for this occasion, as I know I have to pack these items myself. The movers won't be touching them so they must be as well protected as they can be. They will in 6 months or so be loaded into a truck then placed into a shipping container to meet us at the place we will call home for the next few years. With each ornament, especially the ones recently purchased while we have been in Sweden a memory comes to mind. The hand-blown glass balls in gold and blue bought at Skansen, the Thor we bought in Florida on vacation, the wooden moose and Lucia ornaments too. Each of these reminds me of friends we have made here, and friends we will leave behind. Now, of course we will remain friends across the miles, but the living in close proximity to these people will be drawing to a close.

This happens to us often, and we are used to it at some level, though it doesn't make it any easier. I have often told myself that if it doesn't hurt to leave a place I have lived, then I did it wrong. I look forward to the next six months or so of being with those who are now my friends, and those who will visit us for the first time in Sweden, and those who want to make one more trip before we go. Thank you all for helping to make this our home.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sleepless nights and weird dreams

On Monday the 28th we are leaving Sweden for a little over two weeks for a trip to the US. A stop in the Chicago area to visit my family but primarily to see my 91-year-old father who is in a care facility suffering from dementia, as I have mentioned briefly in a previous post. Then we are off to Fort Lauderdale to see friends and head out on a cruise.

As much as I am looking forward to the second part, I am unsure about the first part. my siblings have been arguing about Dad's care and some of them are not even speaking to each other. It's been almost 20 months since I saw my father last, and and I know that occasionally he does not recognize my sisters who are around him frequently. I fully expect him to not recognize me but it still makes me feel weird. Almost like I am walking into something foggy, grey and not at all familiar.

This has resulted in short nights of sleep, waking up and not being able to go back to sleep and weird dreams about loss, death and sadness. I get it is all related, logically I see the dotted lines and connections but it's still unfamiliar to me.

All of that is running tandem with some other stuff that is equally as stressful, and yes I am intentionally being vague right now but I just can't really talk about it yet. Nothing horrible, just stressful. I'm just looking forward to getting to the end of next week and maybe, finally relaxing a bit.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Infrastructure Porn!

Citybanan open house - 01Citybanan open house - 02Citybanan open house - 03Citybanan open house - 04Citybanan open house - 05Citybanan open house - 06
Citybanan open house - 07Citybanan open house - 08Citybanan open house - 09Citybanan open house - 10Citybanan open house - 11Citybanan open house - 12
Citybanan open house - 13Citybanan open house - 14Citybanan open house - 15Citybanan open house - 16Citybanan open house - 17Citybanan open house - 18
Citybanan open house - 19Citybanan open house - 20Citybanan open house - 21Citybanan open house - 22Citybanan open house - 23Citybanan open house - 24

Citybanan Open House, a set on Flickr.

Here in Sweden, major transit and infrastructure projects are managed by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket. In their own words;"The Swedish Transport Administration is responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of all state owned roads and railways. We also develop long-term plans for the transport system on road, railway, sea and flight."

What this means is that regardless of what city or municipality, they run the show. Because of this it seems that infrastructure ACTUALLY IS BUILT AND MAINTAINED. Wow, what a concept! One of the projects currently under way is to relive some of the traffic on the two railway tracks that run out of Central Stockholm, moving South. Currently all traffic running South must use these 2 tracks, including commuter rail. The Citybanan will shift the commuter rail traffic off of these two older tracks allowing for increased inter-city rail traffic.

Though the track will be only 6km long, it is all underground. Today Trafikverket held an Open House and invited the public to come tour parts of the tunnel as well as see the sections of the "underwater bridge" that were sunk over the summer and connected in order to cross the body of water RiddarfjÀrden. We could see them but not get to them, though it was pretty cool as I had watched two of the sections be submerged over the summer.

I'm stoked that I got to see this. I wish North American would do things like the open house events we have been to here in Sweden. It gives taxpayers a better idea of what is being done, how it is done and what their tax dollars are being used for.

Anyway here is a link to the pics I took today. Enjoy!