October 19th, 2013
I had an MRI yesterday morning, and I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about the results (which, in true Swedish fashion, I won’t get for a couple of weeks, probably). It was just a routine thing, to check my brain against last year and see if there have been any changes. I don’t expect it to be worse than last year, when it was more or less fine, considering that I’ve had MS for at least fifteen years. Still, I’m nervous that it will be worse, even though I’ve felt as well or better in the past year than I have since my diagnosis. It’s just such a thing of uncertainty, and I know the neurologist will start pushing again for me to go on treatment if he sees anything new. I’ll push back, of course, because I have no intention of starting treatment until and unless I feel I need to, but I hate being pressured about it.
Yesterday I was reading an article by a woman whose disease progression seems nearly identical to mine, and she perfectly captured the feeling of being in limbo. I don’t have any reason to believe that I’ll get worse; honestly, I don’t even think about it every day, but still … it’s just always there. I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t had to think about it every day for many, many years, but it’s always a little scary when I’m forced to consider that it’s always lurking there under the surface.
October 9th, 2013
This is one of my longer trips to Uppsala and I’ll be spending two nights away instead of the usual one. Though it’s probably less fun for those at home when I’m away for longer, it’s easier for me in a lot of ways not to travel two days in a row. For the past few weeks I’ve been devoting Wednesdays to the archives in Uppsala, but today I decided to go into Stockholm and see what I can find at the Nordic Museum’s archives. They have a vicarage archive encompassing nearly all the vicarages in Sweden, so I’m hopeful that I can find something useful there.
Those who know me well know that I’m not terribly fond of Stockholm, but it does have its good points (Pizza Hut!). Actually it’s a lovely city, but all the people and the subway and the paying over a buck to use the toilet at the train station take away a great deal from its charm. Plus, I have a truly terrible sense of direction — I got lost just the other day in my own tiny town — and I always find myself entirely off course when trying to navigate Stockholm’s streets. I’m just really not a city person at all (though, inexplicably, I LOVE Los Angeles). I know it’s lazy and environmentally irresponsible, but I’d much rather just hop in my car, on my own timetable, and go where I need to go.
October 6th, 2013
Things I have done today:
–enjoyed a family lunch down at my in-laws’ place
–taken a nap
–Skyped with my bestie in Seattle
–beaded a ladybug keychain with Petra
–put highlights in Lydia’s hair
–read a bedtime story for the middle girls and tucked them in
Things I did not do today:
–read a word of the course material that’s assigned for Tuesday
–write a word of the assignment that’s due on Tuesday
October 5th, 2013
I am seriously lacking motivation to do much of anything. I’m not sure why, but I think part of it is that I’m traveling more for school this term than I was before, and it’s messing up my internal rhythms. I have a seminar Tuesday afternoons and I’m doing research on Wednesdays, which puts me away from home right in the middle of every week. I feel like I’m always either gearing up to leave or settling in after being gone, and it’s throwing me off my game.
I’m also struggling with the class I’m taking right now, Gender Theory. As I mentioned before, it’s in Swedish, and the subject matter is very unfamiliar to me. Luckily the professors are allowing me to write in English, and a good bit of the course literature is in English, but I have a difficult time expressing myself coherently and intelligently during the seminars. I keep wanting to tell everyone in the class that my Swedish is much better than my in-class contributions might lead them to believe. I’m just very far outside my comfort zone there, and I find myself easily tongue-tied.
In other news, work on the thesis is going well enough. I still feel pretty good about my progress, and I have a few feelers out for more resources. We’re supposed to submit outlines at a seminar at the end of the month, and I think I should be able to do that without too much trouble. I’m a little apprehensive about the real writing part later on, but we’ve arranged for the little girls to go to preschool every day from 8.30 to 3:00 starting in January, so I should be able to get in a lot of hours of concentrated work time. Also, I won’t be traveling much at all after the early part of December, and that should make things a lot easier.
September 30th, 2013
Just in time for the post-season, I finally got the tattoo I’ve been considering for close to two decades:
(For those not in the know, it’s the logo of the Atlanta Braves, my favorite baseball team for more than thirty years.)
September 24th, 2013
Tage took this picture through the rainy windshield yesterday afternoon when we were on our way to his orchestra practice. There was actually a double rainbow, but the outer one didn’t make it into the shot.
September 21st, 2013
You guys, I had the best day yesterday. On the surface of it, it didn’t look like it would be much — I had to get up early in the rain and gloom to get the older kids off to school, then spent the day with the two littlest girls, who are in the thick of a love/hate relationship and thus need a lot of hands-on supervision. I have a lot of work to do, and find it nearly impossible to get much done with kids underfoot (not to mention episodes of Parenthood and the fantastic novel that I picked up at the airport Thursday afternoon putting up a stiff competition against hundreds of pages of dry course reading).
I buckled down, though, and sent off an email to someone I had reason to believe might be able to help me find some information I’m needing for my thesis, then set about looking on my own for some clues. Scarcely more than an hour later, I had a long, extremely helpful reply to my email, and it was more than I could ever have hoped for. I thought I might get a book suggestion or two out of the exchange, but instead I got a good list of materials to look at along with an enthusiastic offer for further assistance and advisement. This someone, a priest and theological historian, looks to be an invaluable resource for my work; in addition to suggesting sources, he’s offered to meet with me, suggested a visit to the parish I’m studying, and offered even to serve in a semi-advisory role for my research. I can’t describe how thrilled I was at his response — for a long time I’ve been struggling with how I’ll manage the religious aspects of my work, and this relationship looks to be the answer to my figurative prayers.
I was honestly so giddy yesterday at the possibilities; it suddenly seemed like everything was falling into place and that I just might be able to write the thesis I’ve been dreaming of. The director of my program has said a few times in seminars that occasionally you have days, or even just moments, where “the clouds part and the angels sing” and some vital piece of information is right before you — yesterday was one of those times for me.
Adding to the feel-good-ness of the day was Olof’s fetching pizza from the pizzeria for dinner and the arrival, just two days after I ordered it, of my new Chromebook — a great little laptop that does everything I need it to do and more, without weighing me down nearly so much as my big laptop (it turned out to be a good day for Olof, too, as he inherited said big laptop, which is only a few months old). I had fun getting that set up and playing around a little on it while watching the Braves win a good game and reduce their magic number to one.
As if all that weren’t enough, Jason Heyward, the Braves’ right fielder, who suffered a broken jaw last month after being hit in the face by a pitch, was in the lineup for the first time in weeks, and he did just fine. It was magic, I tell you … every bit of it.
September 15th, 2013
Lydia came in just now and said that she’d seen “a thousand frogs” in the park on her way home. When I pressed her for details, she admitted that there’d been only three, but that was enough for me. I grabbed my phone and rushed out to see if I could find them. It being dark, and these frogs being little and wily, I was able to hunt out only one, but I did get a few pictures. This one is my favorite:
September 10th, 2013
Today my mother-in-law, Eivor — whom I adore unequivocally — turns 70. It’s an especially big deal in Sweden to fylla jämnt, an expression that doesn’t translate at all well to English. It means to “achieve an even number,” more or less, and it refers to the “big” birthdays such as 30, 40, 50, and so on. I’m not home today and I wasn’t able to wish her a happy birthday in person, so I thought I’d write a little something here.
It would be impossible to overstate how much my mother-in-law has meant to my happiness here in Sweden. Living down the street from her is the next best thing to having my own mother so near, and it’s a big factor in making the separation from my mom bearable. She is so wonderful, in fact, that my mom has said on more than one occasion that it’s because of Eivor that she can handle me and my kids living so far away from her.
While Olof’s family is very warm and affectionate, they’re not ones for making big declarations of love, and I know that Eivor will never let on that she’s read this. I also know, however, that she will read this, so this is my chance to say how much I love her and appreciate everything she has meant to me and my family. There aren’t enough words to do my feelings justice, so I’ll just leave off by saying, Stort grattis på födelsedagen! Jag är tacksam varje dag för att du finns i mitt liv.
September 5th, 2013
Today was the first day in a long time that everyone who was supposed to go to school did so. This cold is stubborn and a lingerer — even I ended up getting sick, something that rarely happens (overactive immune system for the win!). I only really had a sore throat and I’m feeling mostly better now, which is a good thing as I have to get on an airplane in a couple of hours. For a day or two there I was afraid I was going to have to fly with a stuffed-up head, but I seem to have avoided that particular unpleasantness.
On the topic of flying issues, however, it looks like I’ll have to take a break for three weeks or so this coming winter. Repeated doctor’s examinations have shown that I have significant hearing loss in my left ear, almost certainly due to a condition called otosclerosis. The best, most common fix is a small surgery to remove one of the tiny ear bones and replace it with a prosthetic (my mind boggles). I’ve been put in the queue for this operation, which means I’ll probably be scheduled for December or January. The recovery is said to be fairly easy, but I will have to stay off airplanes for about three weeks. With a bit of luck, those three weeks will fall during a period early next year when I don’t have to be in Uppsala for a while. Without that luck, well … I’ll cross that bridge later.