Jul 30, 2017

Out of the closet

I have this image. Of a closet that’s only half full. Every item in there is something I really like and there is space between the hangers. That’s how I want it to be, and that image is something I actually have experienced. In my temporary Seattle homes, where I only brought my favorites. So it shouldn’t be that hard to achieve, right?

I’ve had this ongoing project for quiet some years now. To clean out my closets. The physical ones. This process has been very slow and the result this far my guest room overloaded with piles of clothes from every season and in various sizes, going, where? 

Salvation Army or other second hand outlets possibly, but wouldn’t it be fun having a summer yard sale? A sunny summer day here at the end of the road? I liked the thought of it. But when and how could my body do that? And I sure couldn’t do it by my self. I needed a wing man!

I popped the question to the obvious choice for this idea: Agneta. And she said yes!

My friend and alto colleague Agneta has an interesting and amazing wardrobe. She keeps track on most designer lines and finds the ways to buy what she sets her eyes on for bargain prices. Once we had an alto party at her place with her coolest and most exquisite shoes on display all over the house. That’s Agneta.

My wardrobe is also mostly half prize sales, but I can’t show off more impressive brands than GAP, Banana Republic and Nordstrom brass plum. Oh, not to forget my all time favorite store Jay Jacobs, dead and gone since long now. My Seattle friends used to tease me for shopping at Jay Jacobs, but I just loved it!

Anyway, the last few weeks I have tried on pretty much every single item in my jam packed closets. Grieving favorites I will never fit into any more, still keeping some of them as souvenirs. Others I was happy to pull out and  throw on one of those piles.

I have this thing. I often carry shame for not being able to limit myself. My blog postings are too long. I have too much footage and interviews for the films I am producing. I am not comfortable in small rooms. And there is way too much clothes in my closets. Get it together gal!

Agneta is good for me in so many ways, and this weekend I realized on more: she makes me feel minimalistic!

Friday Agneta came over here her car filled with clothes. Plenty. A lot. My guest room piles suddenly didn’t look that big. And with a sigh she tells me she has only scraped the surface of her garment assets. Man, I felt in control!

The rain fell heavily over night, but Saturday at noon the sun came out just in time for the first people to stroll my lawn and investigate our yard sale offers. Clothes and shoes on tables and racks in the greenery made it a really nice setting. Completed with Agneta’s husband Mats as a barista offering all kinds of coffee and hot dogs in addition. Shopping is an energy consuming business!

So, how did it go? Well, we didn’t sell that much. It was heavy in many ways to carry most of it in to the house again. But the day turned out really nice, our little event was appreciated, we had fun, and I finally realized my idea of a summer yard sale in the sun here at the end of the road.

And what now? Well, Agneta will probably successfully sell some of her many brand clothing on the web. For me, I don’t know. My piles are now scattered all over the house instead of only in my guest room. One thing is for sure though, they won’t go back into the closets. Although my wardrobe is now well sorted and I know what’s in there, it is still a long way to the spacey and light feeling of my Seattle closets. Isn't it interesting how impossible it seems to realize a goal I want, know exactly what it feels like and is within my absolute control?

Jul 23, 2017

In the wait

This was the week when I expected my new cherry trees to be planted. Well, not just expected. There was a deal about this week, just not which day. But it was about to happen.

I don’t know the situation in other countries, but in Sweden (and Miami my cousin Pär who lives there just told me yesterday when I was a bit aggravated on this subject) hiring crafts people is an energy- and time consuming business.You got to find them, you got to make them promise to show up and nag on them when they don’t. So there is a terrible amount of time waiting for the thing, whatever it is, to get done. We are talking days, weeks, months and years. In other words, it’s the sellers market.

Now, I have a great electrician, plumber and carpenter. I am also blessed with people right here in my village who do ground work and have machinery for every need. Jonas, Leif, Bengt, Roland and Erik (yes, they are all men) also have a quality I absolutely require: they are very thorough and they have an eye for details in the way I do. They are my crafts men soul mates.

Nevertheless, except for Bengt the carpenter, they can all leave me hanging waiting forever.

And here is the thing, I am not a good waiter. I am patient, absolutely, but waiting as a condition is not a good place for me to be in. I don’t handle it very well. It’s like waiting is an occupation by itself. I am occupied with waiting. No, I’m sorry, I am not available at this time, I am waiting.

One week I might be waiting for the plumber - happens a lot. As I don’t know when he is going to show up, I can’t schedule the electrician for the same week as I don’t know when he is going to show up either. This might not seem like a big problem, but for me  who can’t get out of bed myself and am having my meals when it works for my home care company, I can’t have too much going on at the same time.

As it might very well be that the plumber or electrician doesn’t show up that week (this is more the norm than the exception) he might or might not the week after either, and this just keeps going on.

Meanwhile I am, of course doing things. Such weeks I might take the opportunity making the calls on my to do list. Like insurance companies, my bank guy, IRS (Skatteverket), the doctor’s, my accountant etc. Quite often I find myself in a phone line. Or someone is gong to call me back. And in waiting for the one to call me back I can’t really be busy with some other authority on a different line. Also because these calls often requires focus. This while all the while having one ear directed towards the front door as the plumber hopefully will show up.

Days like this when lights are out in the evening I feel frustrated and disgruntled. Waiting-weeks I end up dissatisfied on Friday afternoon. The gratification crossing things out on my to do list does not appear. Check! No.

I think there are better ways to handle the waiting situations. It’s not really true that nothing is happening although it seems so. Things are happening, although slowly. This summer I have a brand new gutter on my house for example. It only took about two years.

So what about the cherry trees? Well, that’s a story by itself. To be continued… 

Jul 16, 2017

Accepting - giving up/in

I kept saying, last summer, it’s never going to be better than this! I had more energy and will power than, as I remember it, ever in my life. I was more movable and stable than in a very long time and I could extend my walks longer than in five years. I had the ability to be totally present in every special moment. My senses were aware in an unprecedented way. Colors were brighter, like my eves were awakened from Fisherman’s Friend. No, it’s never going to be better than this.

Yet, my body had been given new memories. During the struggles of the long, dark and extremely slippery winter my scared and pain struck body was looking forward to the summer in a new way. Confident that it would again bring stability, mobility, strength, happiness and will power. 

It was wrong. I have no idea why, but my body acts like it’s still -Celsius and the ground covered with ice.

Of all the things I have to give up during my worse periods (which can last for months and years) is not to be able to get myself out of bed the most defeating. It’s literary bringing me down on my back. To wake up in the morning and lie there waiting for the sound of the car. The nock on my door. The key in my lock. The steps up the stairs. The good morning from the one having my morning shift. The hand reaching out to help me up on my feet.

In May I was doing a little bit better and I felt like the good summer was in coming. Here comes the sun! Then June 9 I turned acute in a bad way. I hoped it was temporary, but it wasn’t. The transition into accepting was really tough. It’s hard enough in autumn and winter. But summer is my chance to feel better for a while. And to have a tiny bit of fun in my life. A chance to live a little.

Acceptance in this sense is an incredibly conflicted condition for me to be in. I know it’s the only thing I can do. And the right thing to do. Accept what you can’t change, right? But to accept I have to give up. I have to give up the power of getting myself out of bed in the morning. And in giving up, I am loosing my will power. I am giving up my will power. I am giving in to being powerless. I am putting my will power in a drawer, locking ut. Hiding the key in a special box where I can’t see it. 

This impotence puts me in a state where I wake up with a sigh, get through the day in a sigh and fall a sleep with a sigh. I become a person who is only a few percent of my full capacity. I exist only at a minimum. I find this very sad. Cruel even. And I feel it’s such a waste of my life. When there is so much I want to do, all those ideas to realize, loads of life to live at it’s fullest, for my part and for everyone around me.

Jul 9, 2017

The one in power to act and the one waiting

I am thinking now, was my generation a temporary parenthesis in history?

First I didn’t see it. Then I unconsciously dodged it. Followed by kind of waving it away. To finally wake up realizing, this is what it looks like today. How the hell did that happen? Hadn’t mankind moved forward in this sense?!

I actually think I know how it happened. And maybe that parentheses only was in Sweden even.

I am looking at my children's generation. Alarmed and startled by young women expecting, looking forward to and waiting for their boyfriends to pop the question. To go down on their knees and propose to them. Preferably in the most romantic setting.

On top of that, Swedish women now want their fathers to walk them down the aisle. To foreign readers: this did not use to be a Swedish tradition, and more on that later. Now back to the issue of proposals.

So, let me explain why this subject makes me so upset. And why I think it is very important.

Through history women have been object and trade in the marriage business, in many cultures they still are. But to narrow it down I am here talking about the western world close to me.

In my grandparents generation in northern Sweden a marriage often was a matter of practical arrangement. A young farmer taking over his parents homestead needed a reliable woman at his side to take care of the barn, milk the cows and bring him children to help out on the farm. And a son to one day take it over. Most often the man asked the woman’s father for her hand, and the woman was expected to bring the dowry to the home. In my case my grandmother brought the bedroom furniture. I still have many of them, as my grandparents home now is mine. I know this picture (except for the last sentence) was and (in a lot of cases) still is common in many cultures.

When my parents met in the early fifties I am thinking my father - as the gentleman he was - asked my grandmother (as my grandfather was dead) if not for permission but approval to marry her daughter. I can actually not remember any stories about a proposal, but my guess is there was one, as that was the tradition at that time.

So what about the seventies-early eighties when it was my turn? Well that was a different ball game altogether as my aunt Helen in Seattle used to say.

There was a girlfriend and a boyfriend. And at some point (I think we had been a couple for four years) we thought it was a good idea to get engaged. We picked out the rings in white gold. Cocked ourselves a nice dinner and exchanged rings over the desert at the kitchen table in our first home a January Friday evening. Or it might have been a Saturday. The soundtrack was jazz from the thirties playing on our stereo equipment in our living room.

A couple of years later we wanted to marry. It happened in the cute little chapel where we used to sing together when we first met as 12-year olds. All our friends and family as guests at the wedding. It was all so sweet and fun and very romantic in the sense of our story.

But the point here is: EVERYTHING HAPPENED AS A MUTUAL AGREEMENT. Perhaps we should be fiancés? Yes, let’s do that! Isn’t it time to marry now? It definitely is! No names on the question and the answer here because it wasn’t even a question and an answer. It was a friendly discussion between two EQUALS making the decision TOGETHER.

 I have always perceived my generation’s way of choosing each other and the way we did that, as progress for mankind. This is how far we have come. Like when the Cold War ended and we didn’t have to fear The Russian anymore. I was wrong on both.

A young couple in my surroundings married some time ago. So excited she told me how he had been down on his knees proposing to her. It was so romantic! I was a bit chocked. And in my naivety I asked why. Why did they do it that way? They didn’t understand my question. And a bit annoyed he argued what difference does it make who asks who? Well, that’s the whole point here! 

Young women today have reverted to a waiting position. Allowing men regaining the power to act. This is taking a step as huge as 60 years back in time. To me this is chocking. And I find it even worse that it is the women themselves causing this giant back lash.

Because who are watching the reality shows origin from the U.S? Who are watching the rom coms? Girls are. And I am convinced this is why young women today act - in my book - stupid in this sense.

A young Swedish woman close to me is picturing her dream wedding, describing her dad walking her down the aisle. I again am chocked. Hold your horses, why would you want that?! Because that’s all she knows!

The Swedish tradition is that bride and groom walk together down the aisle, as two equals. Not only in the early eighties when I married, but also my parents in the fifties. To give away the bride is an American custom symbolizing the father handing over the daughter as a property to another man taking her in possession. 

My young friend has grown up with American entertainment as picture for reality. That’s what she knows. And it sure doesn’t help that the two Swedish princesses and one prince went all in on that custom as well. Although the Swedish Church strongly advised against, arguing the equality. 

So, I tell my young friend about the symbols in giving away and being given away and she says ah, realizing something new. I feel quite content at my education when she says, okay, I will walk down the aisle myself. My goodness! I haven’t been clear enough on the the strong symbol of walking side by side into the promise. So I start all over again. And she gets it. But the fact is, she has never watched a Swedish traditional style wedding, so she can’t picture it!

The bottom line here is, watching the women in my children’s generation reverting to being the one waiting makes me nauseous. Seeing them let go of their father’s hand and take their husband’s makes me want to puke. Strong words? Yes. On a crucial subject.

How about my young friend, soon planning her wedding? Well, in spite of all the insight she now has, I think it will be hard letting go of the dream image from American entertainment she has grown up with. And neither could the Royal family.

Jul 2, 2017

The Joanna and Xander love saga

She curls up in my bed after a two week vacation. We laugh, happy to see each other again. She gives me her left hand. And there is the ring.

Over the years while Joanna has been working here, this Xander person off and on showed up in her text- or chat world. Those periods were intense, and to be honest I wasn’t very fond of them. As Xander was in a relationship with children, nothing good could come out of them, and they always ended with Joanna having to cut the contact off, for the best of everyone. Heart breaking of course.

Joanna and Xander were an item when they were 12 and 13 years old. I have listened to Joanna’s lively stories of their feelings for each other, feelings as true to her as 20+ as they were back then, not even a teenager. All through her different relationships growing up, nothing ever came close to Xander. And it seemed the case was the same for him. They had never let go of each other.

Now and then they were about to meet up for a coffee or so. But bailed out right before. Last time they saw each other they were around 16. So years passed and they both became young parents and grown ups along the road. Different roads.

I can say the exact date when they finally met, because it was right when I turned 60 that part two of the Joanna and Xander saga started. After not seeing each other for eight years they had coffee one afternoon, met again the same evening and three days later he decided on separating.

This sounds hysterical, I know, but Xander had been ready for many years. Just waiting for Joanna. “I have always known we would be together again. You are the love of my life”.

A little more than a year later I am looking back at a dramatic and turbulent year for Joanna. Xander was everything she remembered him to be and more. Her childhood love was not a dream. It was real and here they were, now man and woman. It was magical and scary.

I know Joanna’s demons and it was inevitable they would surface. Many times she has been on the verge running away from what she in her heart wants the most. But Xander has been a rock. “I’m not going anywhere.” He has been still in the boat no matter how high the waves Joanna’s hurricanes have created around him. “I’m not going anywhere”. 

It has also been a journey for Joanna traveling from being a single mom raising a little child all by herself to creating a family for three young daughters with the love of your life. And doing the necessary changes in her life to make that work.

I have only met Xander a few times, but from those occasions and from following this amazing story first hand I know that he is a responsible, trustable, wise, loving and sensitive young man. I am sounding like a mother here, but I could not have wished for a a more perfect companion for Joanna in her life.

And on Saturday morning she is at my bedside again, after a vacation in Italy with Xander. And she tells me the story about the ring on her finger. They had had a delicious dinner that evening, afterwords strolling the cobblestone streets of the Old City. And there was this musician singing Italian canzoni in an open space with people. Joanna and Xander danced, and already there it was like a movie. 

Then Xander whispered something to the musician and the next song he weaved Joanna’s name into the lyrics. Xander went down on his knees on the cobblestone and the music stopped as Xander took the ring out of his pocket and asked Joanna to marry him. The people around them who had all gone quiet started cheering and applauding. On top of that, the ring was perfect, Xander new exactly what Joanna would like to wear on her finger through her life. Curtain down. 

I know. It’s almost annoyingly romantic.

Now, I have opinions about the (contemporary) images of proposals but it’s a different post and I will definitely not ruin this amazing story with speaking up my mind about that.

What are the chances that a left behind childhood love stays true more than ten years later? How is it possible that it wasn’t just a pretty memory? How can a 12 year old girl and a 13 year old boy know that their love is larger than life? Not let go, choose each other again and it’s all the same, only even more magical? It is an amazing and truly beautiful saga.

I married my 12 year-old love. That might be why I was a bit reluctant to a possible reunion for these two to start with. I apologize, and I am so happy Joanna and Xander had all those years becoming grown ups before they decided on each other. I think the chances for a lucky outcome is much bigger that way. And I am wishing Joanna and Xander and their three little daughters the best of luck and a long and interesting life together.