Sep 25, 2016

The words making my story sing

The first phrase came to me last summer.

I’ve been spending a lot of time this summer and fall writing on a text. Actually lyrics. Lyrics to music composed by a young man I have known since before he was born. He and his brothers kind of grew up with Trouble & Trouble and for the longest time they all believed they were cousins.

Anyway, this young man is a very talented musician, singer and composer, and this one piece of music is written for choir. It is without words and feels a lot like film music. To me, it was just begging for a story to tell. And I wanted to tell it.

And the first phrase came last summer. I say came, because that’s what happened. There it was. And it was in English. 

Than nothing happened. And a year has passed. 

The piece is quit long, about eight minutes. And divided into different parts. A progressive work of music. I new which story I wanted to tell. It wasn’t an easy one. So the combination of me being very busy and dreading to dive in to the subject I had in mind has postponed a focused dedication. But on my summer 2016 list was “writing  the lyrics if I want to”. And it turned out I wanted to.

Lying in my sun chair at the west wall facing the fields up the forest, I have allowed the music filling me and I started to feel which part would be telling what. It was funny though. That first phrase in English turned out to be the title of the song, and the entrance of what I call The beautiful part. Then other parts, like the Prologue, wanted to be written in Swedish! Which didn’t work of course. So I actually had to force it into English.

Which might be why I have been struggling so hard with the language. Or it’s just that my English isn’t good enough. This is the first time I am writing to someone else's music in English, that might also be a reason.

I can sense though, writing my blog every week, that my English is the opposite to improving. It’s obvious how my four year long Seattle absence and the lack of my extremely verbal and articulate friends as well as English tutors is working for the worst.

The story of the song is to me emotionally intense. And to find the exact right words and way of putting them, likewise impassioned. And difficult. I feel poor. I feel like I am trying to write in a language where I am not fluent. Like German. Or I have little knowledge of. Like Italian. I feel limited and restricted. Actually a lot like when being in an intense discussion with my Seattle friends perceiving myself as a child never quite reaching the grown up level.

So, imagine the joy when the right word is arriving! When the sentence rings of the right voice! When the paragraph is expressing the very same feeling I am sensing inside me! When the story is becoming rhythmical and complete!

I am getting there… I sent the first full version to my composer friend last night, exhausted and worn out from squeezing my life out of me. There it was. One part added on to the next. The Prologue. The Dance. The bridge. The Beautiful Part. The Last Waltz. And the Epilogue. 

It’s taken me the summer. Fall arrived for real this week, but today has been one more really pleasant Sunday. So once again I was seated in my sun chair, now going over the full version. A Stoltergården Arnold Palmer at the side board, I would think the last one for this season. Found the lines still not fluent. The bumps. The stops. The ones out of tune. Oh the bliss as I searched inside me one more time and found the chord in harmony! There are still bumps though. But I will eliminate them eventually. I will find the perfect pitch and tell my story fluently. Find the words making my story sing.

Sep 18, 2016

Barely anyone wants to leave Seattle but plenty want to move there

I wonder, if I started a massive everyday clicking for homes in Seattle, would I mess up the statistics?

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. This is of course a sign of a healthy place where the economy is booming, people want to live and the future is looking bright. It comes with down sides though. Traffic is a nightmare and the real estate market is going through the roof. For established Seattleites the latter isn’t a problem. Their home, pretty much whatever it looks like, is money in the bank. But for starters, well that’s a different story.

For as long as I have known Seattle the city has been a target for people around the country looking for relocating. As Seattleites have been fighting the traffic and the increasing costs of housing the joke has been “we have to stop talking about the beautiful Northwest and focus on the rain to scare people from moving here”. 

But it seems they have failed. Or not tried hard enough. Because a few days ago a national report from Zillow, the online real-estate database company, confirms that more people are competing for Seattle-area homes and apartments, helping drive up home prices and rents. And as much as Seattleites dislike the too fierce developing of the city, fewer look for other places to live. 

So, barely anyone wants to leave Seattle, but plenty of people want to move there. Only two other cities in the country has the same situation, Portland Oregon and Tampa Florida, also ranking near the top of the list of fastest-rising home prices in the country. 

Most other cities across the country had something working in their favor to help with affordability: A lot of people are interested in moving to the Bay Area and Los Angeles but plenty of existing residents there are looking to flee. New Yorkers and Philadelphia natives want to stay but few outsiders want to move there. People in Chicago and Miami want out and few people want to go there.

So, who wants to move to Seattle and why? According the study of all the people outside Seattle searching for homes here, 15.9 percent are from the Bay Area, which has taken a lot of blame for shipping up wealthy techies, driving up housing prices. After that, nearly 12 percent of outside searchers looking at Seattle are from Los Angeles and 7.6 percent are from Portland. Phoenix, New York and San Diego each have about 3 percent of the outside searches for Seattle. People from most of those cities would find cheaper housing in Seattle. 

What about people looking to ditch Seattle? The most popular destinations are kind of in the neighborhood, such as Spokane, Portland and Yakima. Just about all those places are significantly cheaper than Seattle. For instance, Seattle home values ($591,000) are more than three times pricier than Spokane ($160,000) and Yakima ($169,000), according to Zillow.

So, summing the situation up, housing costs are, as we know relative. In the view of outsiders who just moved to Seattle, it might not seem as expensive as it does for those locals who have lived through recent skyrocketing prices.

I think I will give it a go messing the statistics up. The next report will have this one interesting number added: looking to relocate to Seattle are people from Bay Area, L.A., Portland, Phenix, New York, San Diego and Umeå.

Sep 11, 2016

Finding that Wrong Shui twig

I have this thing. Well, I have a lot of things, but I have this thing.

In June my grandfather’s mountain ashes guarding my place to the west fell for the chain saw. They were old. It was planned. It had to be done. It has taken me the summer to get used to the new scenery. Now I feel fine. More than fine actually. Kind of cleansed.

But for the longest time I felt out of balance. Wiggly. Unsteady. To a large extent it was about the balance of my place shifting. No border between my front yard and the fields. Making the east side feel heavy, and the west kind of up in the air.

But there was something else. The old trees were gone, but from the stump of the ones to the far north and south, new babies were already growing fast, so we saved them. And there was one more too, the idea was to rejuvenate all grandfather’s trees and in 20 years it would look really nice again. The trick is just to be patient and plan for your grandchildren and not for yourself.

Anyway, theres was this unbalance. I felt out of place. Couldn’t focus. Something was bugging me and I couldn’t figure out what. Looking everywhere. Work? Kids? The choir? Friends?

Then one day I realized. The shoot coming up the stump next to the south baby mountain ash was…. annoying. As much as I wanted shoots growing from every stump developing my 20-year plan, this one ruined my mental health.

I discussed the issue with Trouble 2, as it’s his future children's well being I am planning for. He agreed. We had to take care of the problem.

I simple regular saw did the job. And voila! I could breathe again! The picture was now well composed.

I found my footing. The rest of the summer has been harmonious. 

Many years ago in Seattle my friend Annie found this funny little book at Barnes & Noble for me. The title was Wrong Shui. Telling about how drawers stacked next to each other affected us. How rooms and places cluttered without symmetry and meaning made us cluttered inside as well. The opposite to Feng Shui obviously, but I find Wrong  Shui being the witty and perfect expression for the feeling. As a HSP I am ridiculously sensitive to any kind of imbalance.

My place here at the end of the road is quite big. There is the front yard and the fields, groves and forest surrounding and embracing. I am glad I found that one twig causing the summer 2016 wrong shui!

Sep 4, 2016

Just fix it 2!

This makes me outrages!

The upcoming November will be the 2 year anniversary of Väven, the center for cultural arts located in the city center at the Umeå River waterfront. This is a building questioned by many during the long process before the decision making it a reality, as well as meanwhile it was built. One of the arguments against it was of course money, another that it wouldn’t be central enough. 

Now, Umeå is a place of about 120 000 people, so a good size small city. It’s pretty spread out, as land is not something we are lacking here on the 64th latitude. The city center though, is quite compact, 7 blocks x 6 blocks. And the core of it 3 blocks x 2 blocks. In fact, if your business isn’t located around Rådhustorget (the City Hall Square) right in the heart of those 3x2 blocks, you’r kind of out, that’s how narrow-minded we are.

Now, Väven is located one block south of Rådhustorget. Too far away according to many. We wouldn’t find our way there. This is ridiculous of course. And proven wrong too. The new city library in Väven is well frequented. Yet, to some, Väven really is far away.

If you have trouble walking, one or two blocks can be as insuperable as a Mount Rainier hike. Therefore, of course, you need a bus line passing and bus stops at the entrances. Or at least at one of the four entrances. But that is not happening!!!

To people who were skeptical about the accessibility of Väven I was - extremely confident - arguing that there naturally would be buses. Before Väven this wasn’t a bus route so if you are lacking ability of mind altering images, I can understand the worries. But when moving the city library and adding on new community space, of course you would need and want to make it available to everyone. That’s my take on it.

Well, it turned out I was wrong. The reason? The streets are too steep!

At this information… I don’t even know where to start…

First, this is not Seattle or San Fransisco. This is Umeå. A city flat like a football field. Yes, the streets west and east of Väven are a slope (actually the location of Väven is a lot like Beneroya Hall, the concert hall in downtown Seattle). But steep?!?!

Second, was this unknown facts at the development?!?!

Third, Umeå is widely known for being a great bus city, the public transport system is a pride. How on earth can it not be a given to make a route to this award winning new landmark?!?!

Fourth, how is it that the City is not interested in making a much questioned multi million investment containing the new city library and city subsidized movie theaters available and accessible to everyone?!?!

There is a political decision securing public transport to Väven. Since that hasn’t yet happened, the Left Party in Umeå has demanded the City to look in to the issue and investigate how to make it a reality. This week the City Council dismissed the proposition.

I don’t have words. Beside the fact that Storgatan and Strandgatan, the streets embracing the north and south of Väven are as flat as the rest of Umeå (or the north-south surface streets of downtown Seattle), a flat NO from the City in this matter is so damned stupid it makes me want to gather the crowds, paint signs and march downtown Umeå in loud protests. I am dumbfounded, but my heart is raising! Just fix it!