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Christmas Market

There have been a few great craft markets in town and I took some pictures at the Gammlia christmas market the other weekend. I went with LinnLinn, without her I wouldn't have even known it was happening. There were a lot more people than at the last Gammlia market we went to in the summer.

There were so many booths and everything was handmade. It was really interesting and everyone was so nice. Oddly enough it wasn't snowing this year, it's barely even snowy now.

Early Christmas!

Your eyes do not decieve you, that is santa... well, no, it's not santa, it's a tomte, which are much cuter than santas. We had christmas a month early in our house. In part because some members were going to be out of the country, and also in part because we're mostly impatient youth that get all itchy to open presents.

And open presents we did! My darling love gave me a swanky camera and knew me well enough to include the memory card, the protective over lens thing, and the storage bag. It's a beautiful canon EOS 1100D which will from this point on be fondly referred to as Betsy.

I was also gifted a box of books. Yes, that's what you read, 'A Box of Books'! Eight of them to be precise, all shiny and new and right off of my book wish list. (Yeah, I'm that girl that makes wish lists just for books.) Now, if only I could read as quickly as I make lists. I haven't even been able to pick one to start with.

On another delightful note, it hasn't snowed. I'll remind you, I live in Umeå, and it's late November. It snowed lightly for about an hour last Sunday but it never stuck. I'm pretty happy about the lack of snow, if only because six months of ice can get a bit old. I'll be happy if it waits until January to start though I know a Swed or two that would like their snow before Christmas (the real one that is).

What did I do today?

Why, I became a perminant resident of Sweden, that's what I did! After my two year cohabitation visa expired I had to reapply and then wait for an appointment to be interviewed (as well as pay 1,500kr [218 dollars]). Today we had the interview, Phong and I were questioned seperately to make sure our relationship was legit. The guy in charge of my case was really nice and I was approved!

I don't have much else to say at this moment. They will be sending me a swanky residency card (instead of a sticker in my passport as has been done in the past). I'm assuming the change to a card rather than a sticker is why it cost so much for me to file... although I don't think that would have been refunded if I wasn't accepted. But, I am so overjoyed at my residency that I shant complain and no matter how bad the picture, I intend to squeel with delight when the card arrives.

Tea Time

I bought a tea pot at Myrorna (my favorite thrift store in town). It's ceramic so it's a little heavy but also not as fragile as others. It was only 75 kronor, which is a little under 12 dollars.

I've been drinking Jade Oolong lately. I bought it from Zen Tea at Nolia and love it so much that I even had to go out and get it a jar. Oolong might just be my new favorite. I wasn't even a particular fan of green tea before meeting this one.

The adorable wonderland cup is one of the set Phong gave me for my birthday!

Tease. Don't Spoil.

So Phong and I saw Green Lantern, which was pretty great and I won't be dishing any spoilers so I won't be saying much more on it.

My real question is, what ever happened to teaser trailers? I recall a time when in theaters they played teasers and television did the same up until the movie was playing, and then they'd start airing slightly longer trailers and then later on when the movie is out on dvd they had the crazy long trailers that I imagine are for the soul purpose of reminding people that had watched it in theaters why they want to buy it.

Now every trailer I see is pushing 2 to 3 minutes and giving me the entire movie. I saw the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes yesterday, which was kind of great because I didn't know what it was for and it was like watching a mini movie with a catch at the end when I saw the title. But seriously, I've now seen the movie. The trailer has a beginning, middle, and then an end with all of the emotional connections and build ups. I'll see it again when it comes out in full length, but I'm not going to be surprised or amazed.

I used to love watching the trailer in the movie theater, but now I just dread it because it's a bunch of films I might have really gotten a kick out of, but now I've prewatched. No film needs a 2-3 minute trailer. 1 minute tops. It's mostly about the music, the mood set, and snap clips of action if it's action or suspense if it's suspense. And honestly, for all of the movies that already have a fanbase, it doesn't even need scene clips. Like the first Transformers teaser. The Star Trek teaser. Even the Zorro teaser back in the day.

Captain America hasn't come out here but I've watched the first minute of the trailer and at least seen the first half hour of the movie through it. It's not necessary. Flash the Captain America shield to some really epic music and then give a date. I'd be there and so would a lot of other people. Same thing with Green Lantern. Give me a pan of space, a flash of green, a camera turn to Oa, and then the ring taking up the screen. Done.

I think I'll conclude my complaint here. Hopefully the people that are paying trailer makers too much to sum up movies will read this and knock it off. I minute people. That's it. And don't try to cram as much of a movie into it as possible. Trailers aren't about miniturizing the movie, it's about making people want to see it. Think about the name... 'teaser trailer'. Tease. Don't spoil.

Save the Grass, Eat a Cow.

I've decided to go vegetarian again. Not that I have anything in particular against meat eating, it just doesn't seem to help my attempts at weight loss and when I did drop a bunch of weight I was vegetarian at the time. So it makes sense to do it again. I don't really mind dropping meats from my diet, despite my childish dislike of vegetables, it's sugary foods that I'm a real sucker for.

Last year I went vegetarian and dropped all junk foods and high sugar foods from my diet as well as working out daily and lost about 21 kilos (46 pounds). It wasn't easy but I'd really like to do that again. Especially since I've put on 4 kilos (8 pounds) since I went back to meat and occassional sugars.

I used to be 113 kilos (248 pounds) and I'm at 96 (211 pounds) now (with my added 4)... does this feel like math to anyone else? Anywho, I'd really like to get under 85 kilos. It was my goal for the year, but the remaining months are looking a bit slim. I'm going to give it a go anyway and hopefully at least get under 90 before New Years, though holidays don't exactly make it easy.

But if I did it before, I can do it again, right?

Internet Rant..

Why does everything on the net now have to be connected? Why do I have to use my google or facebook accounts in order to log in onto flickr or youtube? Why can't they just have their own passwords? I distinctly recall a time when they did. So why does everything persist on wanting to share information about me?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not lacking in paranoia. I've coped long ago with the fact that someone somewhere is probably compiling information about me to see what I look at and what stores I buy from, but damn it- is it too much for a girl to want some stealth in the matter? Don't ask my permission and try to corner me into having to connect accounts if I want to use the site! Do you know what ends up happening? I haven't been logged into youtube for ages and on mornings like this where after half a dozen tries to log into flickr to comment on a photo, I finally have to give up because it seems that unless I give youtube information from my google, I can't.

I'm not an overly skilled computer user. If you want my info for your capitilist portfolio, be sneaky! I won't catch you, I'll probably never even care, but stop asking my permission and pissing me off. Just let me sign into youtube with my youtube passport and log into flickr when I want. I'm sick of making extra email accounts just to accommodate this madness. And Facebook (that's right, I'm talking to you. I'm sure you're listening since you seem to be EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING I want to do these days) you know where you can shove your connecting links and all of those little 'like' buttons that now appear in the top corner of so many other sites.

Cheryl goes to Skåne.


So Phong and I spent the week in Southern Sweden visiting his family and checking out Hälsingborg and Mälmo. We took the train from his hometown over to Hälsingborg which was a lot of fun. It turns out that I rather like trains.

Though the fifteen hours of train riding home was a bit much... possibly due to being sleepy though.

My camera promptly died on the fourth day which is why there is sadly no documentation of that epic return journey.

Of course we visited cafes for pastries since we do that just about everywhere we go. We actually had a discussion in another cafe about possible doing a road trip through Sweden to visit cafes and record the yummy sugary things we find. 

This was in Hälsingborg and I thought it was really neat.

At the top of those first set of stairs is a fountain... but the water smells kind of like old fishtank water. When I looked closer I realized that it was because people had dumped trash in there. As much as I already dislike litering, somehow litering in a fountain seems even more reprehensible. Who does that? Fountains are meant for coins and wishes. What kind of wish can you expect to get granted off of plastic bags and beer bottles?

Alright. I took a deep breath and am ready to continue past the fountain tragedy.

This was the view from the top.

See that stretch of blue out there past the ocean on the horizon. That's Denmark. You could practically throw rocks at it! But of course, even if you could, you shouldn't.

The whole trip was really fun and I can't wait to go again next summer. We're planning to visit Denmark that time and I'll be sure to find a charger for my camera by then.

Made it!

So I'm currently in southern Sweden and having a fabulous time! We flew down. It took two planes and had us hanging out in Arlanda (Stockholm airport) for four hours. The hanging out part wasn't bad. It's much more fun with another person, especially Phong! He bought me icecream and pizza lunch!

The actual flights kind of sucked, though it was absolutely not SAS's fault. I get these wierd but awful headaches on descent. Only in the left side of my forehead and cheek though. It almost felt electric in my eyebrow and even my jaw ached.

It was pretty horrible but it fades after landing. It really is a shame that there are so many places I want to go that involve flying... otherwise I would turn to trains. I need to remember to find out what's up with the descent headaches and if there's anything I can do so as not to have them in the future.

Anywho- I'm now in Phong's hometown having a wonderful time and meeting his amazing family! Everyone is so nice and I'm so happy to get to be a part of their family! I'll try to post again soon- I'm crazy tired and Phong is giving me the "why are you still typing, I thought we were sleeping" look.


"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me." Martin Niemöller

So I found myself thinking about this quote again today. For me it's always been a reminder of such a basic and yet vital part of our lives. Doing the right thing even when it's not just for ourselves. Doing it because it's the right thing. Even though it's important to keep in mind 'doing the right thing' if we are ever faced with one of those pivotal and difficult moments in life- I think it's even more important to keep this idea in our everyday.

Doing the right thing isn't just for the dark times and hard moments. It's smiling at our neighbors and saying hello. It's stopping when a person has fallen or looks distressed. The 'right thing' is in every act of kindness and understanding. And every one of those acts and smiles we offer people, whether reciprocated or not, are worth our efforts. You'll never run out, you can spare goodwill on those that don't appreciate it because after those seconds when you continue on your way you'll forget but maybe it'll sink in for them, maybe it'll mean something.

Who among us hasn't had a day where a smile from a stranger could make it so much better? Be kind because one day you might need kindness in return. Be kind because it will make a difference to someone. Be kind because the world needs it, because it will make you feel better, because there's no good reason not to be.

The world can be a hard place. Make it better. Do the right thing.

Home cut hair!

I think that it's alarmingly expensive to get your hair cut in sweden. At least 500 sek (about 80 dollars) just for a cut that more than often in my experience hasn't been that great. Whereas in the States I was getting my hair cut for 25 dollars (with tip) and it was great! So after going on hair cutting strike for more than half a year, I finally craked. Craked open with an awesome idea! I got my boyfriend to cut my hair for me (mind you he's particularly hair and style savvy so he was no bad choice) and it worked! I have stumbled upon something brilliant.

I'm going to go on an internet shopping hunt for those neat razor scissors and hair cutting books! Imagine all of the money to be saved and spent on plants and fabric and art supplies and yummy indian food! And someday when I have kids, if I can cut there hair too!? Thousands and thousands of kronor!

Check out the first hair cut-

Graffiti in Umeå

The cute kind of graffiti of course, not the boring and confusing kind. Like the random 'fuck the polis' I see randomly written on buildings. What police? I almost never see any police in Umeå- not that they don't do their jobs, just that there's that little crime. I blame the desire to rebel against ficticious police and the use of the word 'fuck' on uncreative teens.

But forget them! I've noticed a number of rather cute and creative graffiti's in town that deserve their wall space!

I've seen these on another bridge as well. For those that don't live in Sweden, mosquitoes are just about the only bug around (at least up north) and they are incredibly irritating and large. Seriously large. And they hang out in swarms (is 'swarm' the correct term for mosquitoes?) it looks like a cloud that every so often you have the misfortune of walking through... and then they chase you.

The thumb prints! It's like a giant showed up in the night with smutsy fingers and started poking the buildings. I haven't counted these but every so often I find myself noticing a new one.

Lastly for today, the winged box creature. I see him often on my way into Haga so I thought I'd add him to the list- because good graffiti should be rewarded.

There was also, my favorite, a giant carrot but it was sadly painted over just this last week. Linn has an old picture of it that I'll be getting from her, because it too should be immortalized- especially since it was the first.

More to come!

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To Begin Press 'Start'

It seems polite to begin with introductions. My name is Cheryl. I moved to Umeå in September of 2009 from California. Where I grew up in California it only ever snowed one day every three years... so you can imagine that there was a bit of a shock when I had my first Umeå winter. It's been more than a year since then and I absolutely love this city. I suppose a lot of this blog will be about Umeå and what it's been like being a foreigner. I'm learning Swedish and I do have enough of the language that I can get by in conversations, read, and understand- so if anyone ever has the whim to comment please feel free to use either language. Hopefully I'll eventually get up the courage to post in Swedish myself.

More to come soon! I hope anyone reading this has a wonderful day/afternoon/evening/or night!

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