Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hooray for good days!

I'm going in later today to the office where I had the interview on Monday so that I can sign some papers and get put on their roster!  In other words, I got the job! Hooray!

I have a feeling I will be much more secure and happy in this sort of position as mail carrier than as my personal assistant fluke back in June.  I start two weeks from now.  Hopefully, finally, I can begin to make some sizable amount of money.

Yesterday was the best day I've had in a really long time.  J decided not to work, so we got up and went shopping downtown beginning at 10:30, and he ended up getting himself a new acoustic guitar.  I helped him pick it out - it is worlds better than his old one!  He said he picked out and bought his old guitar back when he couldn't even play chords, so it's no wonder he didn't really have any know-how back then.  But he just wanted a cheap guitar to get started on so it has served its purpose.  While in the guitar shop (Gitarren) yesterday (thankfully it was pretty much silent in there) I got a call from the woman who interviewed me on Monday asking if I was still interested in taking the job.  Absolutely!  So we made an appointment for me to come in later today and sign some papers and do all that boring stuff before you can start working somewhere.

It was beautiful and sunny yesterday, not a cloud in the sky, and it was actually up around 25C (77F).  After getting home from being out and about, I suggested we go swimming at a nearby swimming spot that I've heard a lot about, but never had a chance to check out.  We actually hadn't been swimming at all here in the Gbg region so it was our first time.  We decided to ride our bikes down to Härlanda tjärn and take a dip as it was pretty hot-feeling yesterday (for Sweden, anyway).  Google Maps said it would take about 15 minutes to ride there, but they didn't take into consideration that the entire way there is uphill from where we live.  It probably took us closer to 25 minutes.  The way home, however, was super quick!  The water, to me, was cooold, coming from Ohio where it gets up to 35C (95F) pretty much guaranteed every summer, and where pool waters warm up to 26C (80F) with no problem.  The water in Härlanda tjärn was probably around 20C (68F) and so at first it was a huge shock.  It did feel pretty good after a bit, though.  J kept saying, "It's not cold. This is probably about as warm as it will get."  We probably only swam for about 10 minutes (plenty, when the water is that "refreshing") due to the fact that there was a snake swimming our way in the water.  We hopped out as quickly as we could.

We rode our bikes home, quickly showered and then headed to one of our favorite little pub spots, Halta Lotta's, that is about a 15 minute walk from our place.  We had a lovely dinner with dessert then finally headed home to stay in for the rest of the evening (it was nearly 9pm by the time we got in).  It felt like a true vacation day!  The best part was that we spent the whole day seeing different parts of Gothenburg that we'd never really seen before.  So we indulged a bit, but that's okay.  I deemed our eating out as a celebration dinner for my securing a job that I think will be great for me.

Just before bed, I began the 5th book of the Sookie Stackhouse series (books that the HBO show True Blood is based upon) that I'd bought at the Science-Fiction Bookstore we had visited earlier in the day.  Nothing is better than ending a great day reading a good book!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer happenings and an interview

A lot has been going on with J and I!  I meant to post on Friday but then I got called in to do some testing and manual writing for the very part time job I do with J and his software program, so posting got put on hold.

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, J and I and some Swedish friends made a trip to Norway!  A friend of their lives there with his Norwegian sambo and they invited a group of us to come stay for a weekend since they'd recently bought a house.  It was lovely where they live, it's on an island outside of Kristiansand, Norway.  Although, when you look at the map, it doesn't seem that far from here in Gothenburg, it took nearly 10 hours to travel there.  First, we drove 2 hours up to Strömstad, then we had to wait a little over an hour for the ferry from Strömstad to Sandefjord, Norway.  You have to get there at least an hour in advance, and you line up your car in the rows.  The ferry ride itself takes about 2.5 hours, and then there are 3 more hours of driving, possibly 3.5, left in Norway to do until you get there.  Phew!

The ferry ride on the way there made the 3 of us girls in the travelling group sick.  It was so incredibly windy that day, and the boat was hitting the waves just in the wrong way that when you looked out the windows you saw water, briefly land, then high sky.  Repeat.  It made my stomach feel as if I'd eaten something rotten.  Luckily one of the other girls had a stomach settling chew/gum type thing that numbs your mouth.  It settles your stomach a bit while making you focus on the fact that you can't feel your tongue or cheeks anymore.  Needless to say, I was very happy to get off the ferry.

The weekend was wonderful!  There were a total of 9 of us and it was a perfectly sized group.  Since they live on a little island, we went down to the water and fished a bit, grilled, played a game called kubb, watched a movie in a big school theater, and played sand volleyball.  It was a blast!  And something I definitely needed.  It was good to see our Swedish friends that we rarely get to see, and also to get out somewhere new and out of my little hole of Gothenburg.  It was beautiful and sunny all weekend too!  J and I slept in a tent outside and as it got down to 9C or so (48F) at night it was a bit chilly!  We had thermal sleeping bags, but I literally had to zip mine up to where only my face poked out.  J made fun of me saying I slept like I was in a sarcaphogus.  It's pretty true!

This was the spot where we went fishing and grilling.  Above is the view out to the water and other islands/mainland around the area.  Below is if you turn to your right/around.  Those were little summer boathouses people stay in for their summer vacations.  Many of them were also out enjoying the sun and grilling.

This past weekend we went to the big horse racing event outside of Skövde in Axevalla with J's dad, some relatives, and our friend O.  I got a sunburn, but that can be expected.  I'm happy to finally be getting some sun and not look like a phantom!  We spent the evening at some friends' house in Tibro and spent the night with J's parents there as well.  His sister's family was there, and his brother and sambo came over for lunch yesterday.  It was nice to have a big family lunch.  We drove home yesterday afternoon.

J and I have complained about not having a single whole weekend in Gbg since the beginning of May.  We're hoping this upcoming weekend will finally be some total down time for us.

This morning I had an interview with Bring Citymail as a letter carrier.  It went really well!  Basically you're a mail person but riding a bike.  You sort all the mail first for the morning and in the afternoon or starting late morning you go out and deliver the mail.  It's not Posten, which is Sweden's equivalent of USPS.  It's a smaller, more efficient (they cut out a middle process) way of doing mail.  It's also less personal mail and more company/bills/advertisement mail.  I will know by Wednesday if I'm hired, so I'll be sure to get back to you all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, to me!

This past Saturday was my birthday!  It also happened to be the day that we threw my friend M a bachelorette party, as she and her Swede are leaving today for the US and will be married by this time next month.  In short, it was a fun and busy weekend!

We threw the party in Skövde and had a blast with it.  We had a friend pick M up from her house, and then we led her around town for a little over an hour on a quiz/mission thing.  At each stop (which she had to figure out herself where she was supposed to go by us giving a clue) there was another person waiting for her to give her a question about her man.  So that way it was a surprise for her about who was able to come to her party.  If she got the quiz question right, she got a "prize" item to wear, and the same for if she got it wrong it was her "punishment."  It was hilarious to see her all dressed up with a cat tail, cat mask, hot pink boa, and all sorts of other silly stuff.  By the end of the mission we were smack in the downtown mall with tons of people gawking and staring at the loud gaggle of women laughing, and the one looking outrageous.  Even the bus drivers going by waved at her.  After that, we made a taco lunch at her house, went to the Skövde Arena for some relaxing spa time, got ready at her house then went out for a nice dinner and some dancing afterwards. All in all, a fun day with girl-friends!

They even surprised me in the middle of the day with birthday cupcakes, flowers, and a gift bag!  It was so sweet of them I did not expect it at all.  The flowers were bright and happy.

On Friday night, J surprised me a day early for my birthday as he knew I would be gone all day (my train left at 8am Saturday morning).  When he came home from work he rang the doorbell which is just odd, who rings their own doorbell?  So I opened it expecting his hands must be full for whatever reason, and I was right!  He surprised me with a giant flower arrangement (it must be nearly 3 ft. tall).

All of the lilies have bloomed now, or at least are opening.  They smell absolutely wonderful, and still look just as healthy!

He proceeded to tell me "Oh, you have 25 minutes to be ready, we have to be at Redbergsplatsen at 6:00."  So I got ready, assuming we were taking the tram somewhere for dinner, and I was right.  He had chosen a Greek restaurant over in Linné by the name of Kalimera, and the food there was absolutely delicious.  I suppose he has paid attention when I've said just how much I love Mediterranean/Greek food.  Sadly we were in a rush (well we had practically an hour and a half to be there but it took them nearly an hour to get us our food), so we couldn't relax and enjoy it as much as we might have liked to.  J had reserved us tickets to go see the new Spider-Man movie, as it was the "only good one" playing.  I didn't have super high expectations, but I ended up deeming it much improved over the movies from 10 years ago.  I rather enjoyed it!

By the time we got home it was 11pm, I had to pack for the next day (I stayed the night at M's place Saturday night) and I knew I had to get up just past 6am on Saturday.  Needless to say I was exhausted heading to Skövde and throughout the day but as stated, it was a ton of fun.

Now I'm trying to be good and focus on writing a paper that isn't due for my Swedish class until next Friday the 20th, but I had to take a break and write a catch-up post.  This weekend we'll be traveling to Norway to visit some friends in Kristiansand, and then next week it seems J is going to take the week off work, so we may decide to travel elsewhere on a mini vacation, depending on if we can find something decently priced.  That would be why I need to get back to writing this paper!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Today has been such an odd day.  It's my first Fourth of July away from home, not being in the USA.  Last summer I made a three week trip to the States from June into July, so I got to celebrate as usual with fireworks, friends, and family.  Today has been pretty anti-climactic all day as it's just been another day here in Sweden.

In the late afternoon I decided to make something of it and go to the store to get some cookout/grill food!  On my way walking to the local food store, I walked by a man whom I felt I immediately knew was another American - I just had a feeling.  When we got up close and passed one another I saw his shirt was red, white and blue and had "USA" embroidered on the left side of his chest.  I nearly opened my mouth in passing to ask if he was another American, as wearing that shirt couldn't have been coincidence.  After nearly two years in Sweden, though, I kept my mouth shut out of habit.  It put a smile on my face the rest of the way to the store, though, knowing that in all likelihood I'd passed another countryman out to celebrate (he had a bag full of food, as well, no doubt for cooking out).

Here is evidence of my 4th of July "feast," as J dubbed it.  We'll definitely be having leftovers tomorrow for lunch and/or dinner.

I had one more PBR left in the fridge from our Midsommar celebrations, so of course I had to drink American along with our dinner.  J opted for a Smirnoff, there in the background.

I decided to make a new recipe for the baked beans.  It included 2 cans of Heinz baked beans (I was glad to find some cans of them!), ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  I also fried some bacon, crumbled it, and mixed it in.  They turned out great!  I ended up buying an engångsgrill (one time grill) since the only one we have is electric and we can't really use it anymore.  It's really just for balconies.  As you can probably guess, you use it just once and then throw it out.  It worked well for our burgers and hot dogs.  J complimented me on our fine dinner!  I enjoy sharing American culture whenever I can, which I feel happens all too rarely.

Later I may even convince J to come outside with me and light some sparklers.  We have some leftover from the New Years celebrations this past year (Swedes use sparklers then, not in the summer!).  Since I don't get to view any fireworks, at least we can play with some sparklers, right?

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!  Happy Birthday, America!