Just checking in from rainy (although not cold) Sweden. It’s hard to believe that the last time I wrote, the sun was baking down, way back in August!
So much has happened, yet so little, if that makes any sense? I am working pretty much full time as a freelance writer*, and there have been times when I was so busy that I couldn’t think straight. In the beginning I took on so much work, trying to prove something (what exactly, God only knows) to myself, my clients, my in-laws, but pretty soon burned myself out! I took two full weeks off over Christmas, and have come back with a new attitude: do as little as possible! Seriously though, I don’t need to kill myself over it (and certainly don’t need to prove anything to anyone), and from now on, will just take on enough to work to put some pennies in my pocket and keep the wolf from the door.
The kids have settled into their schools so well, and their Swedish is coming on leaps and bounds. Mine isn’t, unfortunately. I always say to H that if people speaking to me came with subtitles, I would do great; I am pretty much fluent in reading and writing, but speaking and listening? Oh, goodness! Panic is the culprit. It makes your brain turn to fluff and you sound like a moron. This time around, I really don’t care. Well, not as much as I used to. I try to laugh at myself, and that seems to work. Prime example:
We get our eggs from a neighbour, and the last few times he has come with them, H has been out, and I haven’t had any money. Up until recently, I haven’t been shopping alone, so haven’t needed to have any spare cash in my purse; but after doing this several times, I was embarrassed to look like the little kept-woman, so when he came with the eggs, I remembered that H had put some coins in a jar in the kitchen. Panic set in – he was stood at the door, my six year old was balancing 24 eggs like a juggler in a circus, and my dog was howling hysterically in his cage. I looked in the jar, saw two coins, one with the number two, and the other with the number one; in my moment of panic, I picked them up and handed them over. He just looked at them, with puzzlement in his eyes. In my dazed state, I had picked up three Euros. The eggs were 35 Swedish Kronor. In my defence, I had thought the eggs were 30 Kronor, and I had seen the two and the one, and tried to make them miraculously add up to 30. What I was thinking, God only knows. More to the point, what on earth was my poor neighbour thinking: a deranged English women who stumbles out with a random amount of foreign currency in her hand to pay for eggs? Previously, I lived in Sweden for six years and their money is simple; and, there is no 20 Kronor coin, only a note. I was so mortally embarrassed that I laughed so much I nearly wet myself (after he’d gone, you understand), and then cried hot tears of shame. All I could think about was how idiotic I must have looked. H laughed like a drain when I told him, and it is so beyond ludicrous, that thankfully, humour is the only thing I now recall when thinking about it.
The in-laws are starting to encroach on our space a little more – turning up unexpectedly, or hovering around in the garden doing maintenance work. H’s dad is bored and does things to occupy his time. They mean well, and deep down I know that, but I am a private person, and it throws me a little to be sat in my pyjamas and suddenly see his dad washing the windows!
I also pretend to have a clean and tidy house, a bit like a show room: I clean within an inch of my life when visitors are looming, but tend not to worry too much when they aren’t. People dropping by unexpectedly unnerve me. H’s dad is fine – he never comes in the house, or even knocks. His mum is a little more forthright, shall we say! Last time she came, she knocked on every window, and sometimes just opens the door without knocking. I need to be careful what I say, because last time she did that, my nine year old rolled his eyes and said in a dramatic stage-whisper “can’t she KNOCK?”. Ah, the sins of the fathers (or rather, the gobby, outspoken mothers).
I was talking to a mum at school yesterday who told me that in my eldest boy’s class there are two children with English speaking parents, and that her little girl is best friends with a child whose mum is from Wales. This is a small village! What are they all doing here? It just amazes me how many English speaking ex-pats gravitate towards this quiet part of Sweden (or any part, come to that).
So, that’s it for now! I really need to keep in touch more often – this blog was a huge outlet for me when I first arrived, and there are so many lovely people who read my entries! Hope everyone is well, and all the best for the New Year!
* Disclaimer: this blog entry is for fun purposes, so there may be errors. Unlike the writing I do in a professional capacity, I have not gone through this with a fine-tooth comb *wink, wink*.