Reblogging Rae: The Blogosphere

Ok! This is the last one I am posting for this recycling of blog posts series! Hopefully this means that I have had plenty of time to focus on my manuscript! New content to come next 🙂 Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane… There were so many others I could have chosen… But I veered towards the more upbeat ones in general. Feel free to go back through the archives sometime and read ALL the posts! (I need that Hyperbole and a Half meme to place here methinks… LOL) These will all show up in the Favorite Posts tab, but if you scroll back there are plenty more of what I consider my better work there as well. Anyway. This seemed fitting as a last one… So enjoy. This is from April 2015.

I scan through WordPress Reader and Freshly Pressed, looking at all sorts of blogs that have specific themes, real identities. I feel a slight guilt that I am not one of those mommy bloggers that write all about her children and her amazing views in the arena of child rearing. I really should be at that stage in my life, I ponder to myself. But I’m not. I have two beautiful kids and I love them very much… but I am not that awesome mum. All I can say is that I try and I love them… But I also want to keep my own identity, take it back and be more than just “mum.”

That’s why I wrote my memoir in the first place. Yes, it was for my kids to eventually read, but also for them to eventually realize I am “more than just mum.”

I scan through blogs and find some unequivocally humorous sites, some insightful intelligent sites – I wonder how anyone can write so much on one academic area such as Medieval  Literature and still find a way to make it interesting? There are blogs on so many topics and they have so many followers and I am just over here… in my own little corner of the internet, wondering what I am doing. Wondering if I could ever consider competing with other obviously more popular blogs. It makes me feel almost the teenager again, trying to join the conversation only to be talked over so I stop and quietly walk away while nobody realizes.

Screw that. I’m not a teenager anymore. I will stay over here in my little corner, talking even though nobody may care to listen. I will stick around trying to carve out my own little niche and tell my own story, because …well… I’ll damn well do as I please.

Reblogging Rae: Maja Memory #1

Post # 8 from my recycled series – This one is from May 2015, new pictures added 🙂

Booop Booop Booop – that’s my poor rendition of the skype ring tone – …Booop. Oh My God, Maja’s calling! “Hush up!” I say to the kids. Maja and I had been playing Skype tag for almost 6 months, finally a tangible chance to actually click that little phone icon and actually for realsies talk to BFF girl (#2)…and see her face even!

I just got off of Skype where Maja and I chatted for nearly an hour and a half. …Okay, more like two hours…. two and a half tops! We’ve been BFFs for 16 or so years now and I still learn new things about her every time we talk – and vice versa – and yet it is always so familiar and just the same when we talk.

Now, in addition to her 3 year old, she has a 4 month old. This baby is the main reason we hadn’t been able to do our regular skype dates over the past few months… but one glimpse of his poof of hair and his cockeyed grin and…well… who could be mad?

I made the observation, after shooing my kids to bed and after her littlest puked on her, that who knew? Who knew that we would end up one day, still friends, chatting away being mums and changing poopie nappies or getting puked on together? Even continents apart and we can still somewhat do this – be BFFs and raise kids together. My daughter, Emma, telling her daughter “I love you forever!” as she signed off and resigned herself to her bedtime. One day they’ll meet in person. My son and her daughter were born a month apart – so OBVIOUSLY we are arranging their marriage already 🙂 And then her baby son was born within a month of Svea’s daughter… so there you go. One day we’ll not only be BFFs, we’ll be family too… right? Right. Let us dream about it at least 😉

It’s just such a strange concept to think about the shenanigans we got up to (when she wasn’t grounded) in High School… and now we are Mums. Relatively upstanding ones at that. Our conversations don’t always make us appear as such, however; when we reminisce or reveal memories to one another that the other didn’t know about at the time.

Oh the words that have to be said in Swedish so our kids won’t catch on. But then mine go to bed and hers are in another room, so we let the expletives fly after a little while.

Today she pulled out the yearbooks. I lost mine many years ago in Hurricane Katrina – a sad sad day. I love pictures, I love memories – as if you couldn’t tell by now… losing my year books was a sad sad day. She held the pictures up to the screen for me to see, to remind me of someone she was telling me about that I didn’t remember… “Oh, yeah… him… Oh! There’s the kid that died!”

“WHAT? Who??”

“That one, in the sweater… no… over… yeah, yeah that one.”

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in the middle – kid that died

“How did I not know this?” She asked.

“You must have, Maja! He died in first year – got hit by a bus… remember? That’s how I got off the waiting list and into ESb in second semester… I took his spot.”

“What?!”

“Maja, seriously? It was your class first – how could you not have known that?”

“Maybe I did… I guess I just forgot…. Oo… Look, there’s Dan!”

“Haha, yup I remember that pic… that wasn’t even his class… he was in EN, remember? You’re gonna scan these for me, right?”

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The picture we were discussing. Dan is hidden in this ES3A photo, though he was actually in an EN3 class. (I won’t point him out so as to keep a semblance of privacy lol)

“Yeah, oh… AH!”

That’s when the boy puked on her.

We’ll take a pause while she wipes him up…

I learned some more specifics about the antics she got up to with John when I wasn’t around… I knew they hung out some back then, but didn’t have all the details. I learned about when she was in her excessive party days after Gymnasium, she met Owen Wilson and Axel Rose. …Starting to sound like maybe I should have stayed in Stockholm a little longer, huh?

I told her that though I saw several celebrities out and about in Stockholm when I was there – the one that sticks in my head is walking past Tomas Di Leva on the street… he turned and acknowledged me as he passed by. Doing a little bow. I told her he had this look on his face that made me feel like he wanted to say “Blessings on you my child” and then recruit me into a cult.

“He probably wanted you for a sister wife.”

I would rather have met Axel Rose.

Reblogging Rae: Svea’s Summer House in Sandhamn

Post #7 for my recycled posts series – this one is from March 2015. All new pictures added 🙂

Summertime in Sweden meant that the sun wouldn’t set, the weather would warm just enough to warrant swimming and apparel of tube tops and shorts… but rarely did it get too hot. Summertime also meant that there was cause to pack a bag and head out to Svea’s summer cabin on Sandhamn.

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One year we headed out there specifically to celebrate the midsummer holiday. Unlike the usual midsummer, Svea’s older brother nor her parents had any plans for the cabin, so Svea and I headed out there by ourselves. We liked it that way anyway. Some of my favorite memories are of playing house with Svea whether it be on Sandhamn, at her Winter house in Borka, or on the weekends in her Stockholm flat when her family would often be at one of the other locations.

The midsummer that we went to Sandhamn, we packed our bags, carefully choosing our alcoholic selection – which that year I recall as being pear ciders for the most part, and headed out to Slussen to catch our bus. The bus ride to or from Slussen was never my favourite leg of this trip. Most often the bus was over full and hot… and took about forty-five minutes to reach the harbour where we would catch our ferry.

Once at the harbour we were sometimes lucky to just catch the ferry without having to wait another thirty minutes for the next one to arrive. The ferry ride was always pleasant. Since we only ever rode it in the spring and summer, the weather was usually perfect. The sun reflecting off of the water, sometimes almost blindingly depending on the time of day.

We would sit and have drinks and chat. Never running out of things to say, that’s the way it goes with best friends I suppose. After a half hour or so, and a few stops at other islands, we would arrive at Sandhamn – getting off at the second pier. The first pier was large and was home to the tourist side of the island – a hotel, a few shops, yachts and music. Svea and I got off on the other side which was quiet and serene. It only took ten minutes or so to walk from her cabin to the tourist side when we needed groceries or an ice cream anyway. So we usually got into the cabin, set our stuff down, turned on the water supply, etc and then started off for the grocery store.

The ten minutes had us walking through lush green woods comprised of tall tall trees. The scenery in my memory I see as an almost mystical green. But the reality was not so remarkable, I suppose.

IMG_3627[1]When we reached the store we usually picked up just enough rations for the weekend so that we wouldn’t have to carry anything home. The only specific things I remember ever getting were tomatoes, cucumbers, and salt. This particular midsummer I recall slicing these tomatoes and cucumbers and arranging them on a plate as Svea and I laughed about something in the kitchen. We grabbed our ciders and packs of cigarettes and headed out to the deck where we laid out in the sun, sprinkling our veggies with salt and drinking our ciders in between puffs of smoke.

IMG_3624[1]The view from the deck was beautiful, we could see the water from there. The foreground was rocky, large flat rocks lead the way down to the beach, and the view was littered with a few trees to block one side of the view from our vantage point. I remember laying out that day and Svea telling me about a book she was reading. This was not an unusual occurrence, we both being heavy readers. This day Svea introduced me to the world of Mikael Niemi as she told me about “Populärmusik från Vittula.” Later this would become one of my favourite books… I now hold both the Swedish version and the English “Popular Music from Vittula” in an honored place on my bookshelf. Svea laughed this day as she described the mountaintop scene to me and I knew I would be reading it soon. Svea had impeccable taste in books as far as I was concerned.

That night, we decided to watch The Shining. For those of you that don’t know, this is a movie based off of a Stephen King novel. Back then both Svea and I enjoyed Stephen King. I do still find him an excellent writer, but my tastes have changed as far as recreational reading goes.

The mistake we made, as we settled in on the couch to watch it with our snacks and cream soda, was waiting til dark to watch it. The TV sat in front of a large window that gave us a view into the semi-darkness, even darker than you would expect from a Swedish summer since we were surrounded by trees. It’s also important to note that we would be required to go outside to get to the building that housed the toilet, and even if I could convince myself to hold it – the structure that held our bedroom area was out that door too.

I had read The Shining a while prior to this night. Generally when I read a Stephen King novel, or watch one of the movies for the first time a second viewing doesn’t bother me any more because I know what’s coming. This night; however, I had apparently forgotten a few plot developments since it had been awhile since having read the book.

Svea and I were curled under a blanket on the couch. We were surviving through the movie even as the creep factor raised as shadows out of the window seemed to move. Without giving too much away to anyone who has never seen it – we got to the part of the movie where the boy is trying to get away from something in one of the hotel rooms. He finally gets out of the room and shuts the door. I took a sigh of relief, loosened my grip on Svea’s leg, and brought down the blanket I had been half hiding my face behind. She turned and gave me a knowing look just as the arm suddenly came out and grabbed the boy and dragged him back in the room.

I screamed out “Jesus Christ!” in shock.

Svea started laughing.

“You could have warned me, you know!”

I made her accompany me to the bathroom before going to bed that night.

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Reblogging Rae: Tell Your Stories (revamped)

Post #6 in my recycling series… only 2-3 more to go, I promise 😉 This one is from September 2015 and the content has been changed a fair bit (the second half deleted and replaced by different content) so it is not actually by rights the same post 🙂

My friend posted a quote on FB for me yesterday. She said it reminded her of me and some of the stuff I’ve said recently about telling my stories.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories.

If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

I’ve said things about telling my stories so others can learn from my mistakes. I had noted an old friend who knew David said she liked my book… and with slight concern I asked her if she was still in touch with him in any capacity. She’s not and told me that he shouldn’t care about events from so long ago, and besides I was nice and concealed his identity. If she wrote a book she would protect the innocent, not the guilty. This Ann Lamont quote just seemed so fitting for me, and I love when people see something that reminds them of you and fits so well – it makes you realize that at least that one person has paid some attention to you in some way or another.

I also strongly believe in telling one’s stories not only for learning from each other’s mistakes, but also to create a sense of community. More than likely if you tell your story, you will find that there are others like you that have experienced similar experiences. It creates a sense of not being alone – and as I have discovered it emboldens others to also tell there stories – or at the least confide in the original story teller. I can’t count how many women have approached me in private to tell me they connect with my accounts of abuse or how many people have come to relay their struggles with depression. Often I get the sense that I am the only person they have told, or at least in a select few.

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For a very long time, I had been ashamed of various parts of my past. This was a hard thing to admit to myself, in all honesty. For a long time I pushed certain things down or brushed them to the side; choosing to ignore them. That wasn’t healthy. I realise that now.

Making the conscious decision not to be ashamed, or at least to fight the sense of shame, I had about the abusive situations I endured has resulted in a cathartic release for me as well as serving as inspiration for other women to open up, even just a little bit, and start their own coping processes. It has resulted in changes for the better in my marriage and, I hope, changes for the better in how I interact with my family as a whole. My writing and frank discussions have also served to cause others to reach out for help for their depression – even in crises.

I like to think, though I have no proof as yet, that writing my stories about events that contributed to rape culture have also assisted in opening some people’s eyes to understanding that side of our society – a side that maybe they didn’t recognise or realise was such an ingrained problem.

This is why I feel we all must continue to tell our stories; to strengthen each other, to embolden the victimised or abused, to make real change in our society where it’s warranted.

 

 

Reblogging Rae: A Vision in Aquamarine

Post #5 for my recycled posts series. This one is from March 2015.

It’s funny what memories suddenly come back to you when you spend some time thinking about old friends and places. Today I suddenly remembered a particular memory – a fleeting incident that happened when I was about 17. No real significance is to be had from this memory, it is just an anecdotal moment in my history. A story to tell when at a party and somehow the conversation steers in that direction.

It was a summer day in Stockholm, Sweden. I was supposed to be meeting Anneke in town for some shopping and I arrived earlier than planned, so I decided to chill on the steps of the Kulturhuset to read my book.

This particular summer day, I was immaculately dressed if I do say so myself. My outfit matched to a T. I wore an Aquamarine tank top, an aqua Asian embroidered mini skirt, and some clunky sandals that were also made from aqua Asian inspired embroidered fabric.

I settled down on the steps and lowered my head to start reading. After a few minutes I heard a *clickclickclickclick.*

I looked up and saw a Japanese tourist with his camera pointed at me. He held really still. I saw him see me note him. I turned my attention back to my book. *clickclickclickclick.*

I shot my head up and squinted at him as he remained perfectly still watching me as if I were some form of wildlife he did not want to startle.

I slowly lowered my head keeping my eyes on him until the last moment. *clickclickclickclick* Annoyed now, I turned my head only slightly from the side to peer at him…. *click…click… …. …click.*

Just as I seriously considered getting up and walking away, he turned and walked away with his group.

I closed my book, suddenly noticing that my copy of “The Beach” that I had been reading perfectly matched my outfit with it’s big eye and ocean water.

Once in a while I wonder if my image has ever turned up in an Asian tourist pamphlet, possibly labelled as a Swedish girl on the summer steps of Kulturhuset, a girl with blue eyes that was a vision in Aquamarine.

Reblogging Rae: Anneke and Heather

Post #4 of my flashback/recycled posts – this one is from February 2015 – one of the very first memories I posted.

“It’s your turn to sit in the back, Rae.”

“Only if you put the top up!” I said as I climbed into the back of Heather’s convertible. It was the middle of Swedish winter and we had made Anneke ride in the back on the way there.

Heather liked to put her heat full blast, but had a notion that to make the heat really worth it the top should be down so the heater could blast away the cold. It was actually pretty comfortable that way – when you were sitting in the front. If you were allotted a back seat, you had to be sure to have your best hat and mittens.

“Anneke, for real though – let me borrow your hat. I left mine at home.”

Anneke grudgingly complied with my request, only because she had already suffered the backseat that evening and knew how cold it was. Now it was two hours later and even colder as night had truly set in. Not that it was all that much lighter earlier. After all, night fell around two or three PM this time of year.

Settled in and as comfortable as I could be, Anneke and I started in on Heather; teasing her about Per. Per and Heather were both leaders at our Young Life group there in Täby, though Per was Swedish, Heather was an American College student that was only supposed to be there for a couple of years.

Heather played along with our teasing – though she had been writing off what we had noticed as chemistry between them. (Turns out, eventually we would be proved right as Heather and Per got married and she stayed in Sweden indefinitely.)

She then deflected from herself by teasing Anneke about her crush on Anders. She said “Du vill kissa på honom!!” Anneke and I burst out laughing. Bless Heather and how hard she was trying to learn Swedish… She looked offended and asked what we were laughing at. “’Kissa’ sa du!” We choked as we giggled. She had told us that Anneke wanted to “piss” on him. “Menade du ‘Kyss??’” We asked her. “Did you mean ‘Kiss??’”

“I’m pretty certain I do not, in fact, want to piss on Anders.” Anneke said, laughing.

Reblogging Rae: I’m a Mean Wife

Post #3 in my flashback/recycling series – this one was also made private awhile back and was a continuation of the first post I posted in this series (An Evil Woman.) Originally posted in December 2015.

A few months ago I was laying in bed reading or writing or some such literary activity when my husband came to the doorway to talk about something. I can’t remember what the conversation started about, but at some point he said something about a message stream he had apparently read of mine a while prior. He said basically that he was intrigued by the open sex talk it contained as I was talking to one or both of my BFFs (Svea/Maja).

I’ve mentioned before, I believe, that I’ve never been very open about my thoughts with my husband – especially before this past year – let alone about sex stuff.

He said he was intrigued and then said he stopped reading when I mentioned an ex. He said “If you ever want me to not read something just write about another guy’s ‘package,’ and I’ll be done. I just don’t want to know.”

I was confused and said I didn’t even know what conversation he was referring too. “Must have been awhile ago… Who was I even talking about?”

“I dunno. I didn’t tell you I read it at the time… it was about some guy that was Norwegian or something…”

“Oh, that would be Danish. That guy was HUGE.” I exclaimed – gesturing with my hands to drive home the point.

My husband stopped mid-sentence. Shut his mouth and just looked at me for a second. Then he said “I’m out,” turned on his heel and walked out.

I was cackling with laughter – I couldn’t help it – but I called out after him: “Hey! Where’re you going?! …I just said it was big – not that I liked it!”

I laughed some more, his reaction had just amused me so much. He didn’t respond initially so I went back to my task, giggling under my breath periodically.

About ten minutes later my husband walked back into the room silently, threw a king size candy bar into my lap and walked back out again.

Confused I called out “What’s this for? I told you I didn’t want candy – I’m on a diet!”

He came back in to respond “I just thought you’d like it because it’s so big.”

Then he walked out again.

I snorted back laughter and yelled out again “I never said I LIKED IT!”

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He continued to periodically make references to me liking something because of it being ‘so big’ for several weeks after that. I suppose he can be pretty funny himself sometimes… but, hey, I’m the one that is freaking hilarious! 😛

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