Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Time for a change of tune

Another year has passed, as they do. (Quicker and quicker, it seems.) This time I explored the djungles and wonderful beaches of Costa Rica, revisited Victoria, had countless cups of coffee in Vancouver and went to St Louis (twice).

I enthusiastically watched Seahawks win the Super Bowl, Germany win the World Cup and on a warm summer evening I suddenly found myself on a floating bed in the middle of a Lake Union sail race. I went kayaking and hiked around Mt Rainier, joined the Seattle Pride Parade and practiced my Italian sign language. I achieved a much wanted science writing goal and was appointed co-chair of the Fred Hutch postdoc organization.

I went to two magical farm parties, including the burning of a straw Guy Fawkes on a starry fall night. I had friends and family visit me, tried numerous restaurants, had too many drinks and sang karaoke way too loudly. I dated, and met some truly wonderful new friends. I found love and lost it again.

2014 was good to me, but it ends on a low note. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year - a year that I hope will bring solace, healing and less misfortune to my loved ones.

Be well, all of you, and have a sparkly, funky, kooky and absolutely extraordinary New Year's Eve! Let's make 2015 the best year yet.

Gott Nytt År!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This is all very random

I was really terrible at taking pictures when I was home; I'm not blaming the fever, but it might have been the fever. (Ok, I just blamed the fever. The fever can have it.)

Anyway. Here are a few random photos that make me happy, in no particular order.

Being in Sweden means catching up with as many friends as possible, as many times as possible. This trip was no exception, although there is little documentation of the social events I attended. Luckily, some of my very best companions are selfie-addicts; thus, I can at least prove that I got to spend some time with these lovely creatures:

My faithful sisters in crime, how I miss you (and your little saplings) when I'm away!

Christmas Eve was rainy, as tradition has it, but the weather gods kindly offered a couple of crisp, cold, snowy days after that.

I'd say it qualifies as a White Christmas, especially seeing as this guy suddenly showed up at our doorstep:

Hullo, fellow Frost!

When I wasn't out frolicking with snowmen and childhood friends, most of my days in Halmstad revolved around yummy treats like these:

The not-too-shabby view from my sickbed (i.e. the living room couch):

Biathlon! For those who don't know, Swedes can't get enough of it. It's a genetic disorder we share with the Norwegians.

This year we didn't bother with putting the Christmas gifts under the tree until about 10 minutes before it was time to open them. I just kind of forgot about it (damn you, fever!). I have to say that mine had the prettiest labels, though; handcrafted by yours truly.

Yeah, and Gothenburg was pretty too.

Ok. That's all, folks. You can go home now. (Damn you, fever!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Admittedly, I could be merrier. Had I wished for fever, headache, a sore throat and an excessively runny nose for Christmas, then this would have been the final proof of Santa's existence. Still, it's lovely to be home and I'd rather be sick in good company than on my own in a faraway land. Believe me, I'm being excellently cared for as I'm recuperating in the warm glow of our Christmas tree.

With a bit of luck, I'll be back to my normal, bouncy self in a couple of days. If not, then Santa's dead. DEAD, I TELL YOU.

From all of me to all of you, a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night

I'm off! Take care, lil' Fremont. Have a happy holiday and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Sweden, brace yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bittersweet memories and an American classic

The past week was... interesting. It's Sunday evening and I'm completely exhausted, physically as well as emotionally. High highs and low lows; I've had some amazingly good times and fun encounters, but they've been mixed with severe anxiousness, frantic frustration and plain ol' sadness.

Yeah. This lady is singin' the blues.

That being said, Friday was one of the most magical nights out I've had in this city (and that says a lot), although technically it was a farewell party. Without going into detail, there are certain memories that will be kept deep inside my heart for a long time to come; equal parts thorn and feather.

Saturday was spent recuperating at the Frayos, drinking glögg, decorating their tree, eating freshly made Christmas cookies, sipping on wine, nomming down dinner, watching Elf and snuggling with Cian.

One of the highlights was getting a very special Christmas present. I've started working on a bucket list with things I want to do, see and experience before I eventually leave this part of the world; even though it breaks my heart just thinking about saying goodbye to Seattle, I've got to be rational and make sure that I'm not missing out on unique experiences by being in denial. Therefore, the list includes activities ranging from seemingly trivial endeavors to more adventurous enterprises. The gift from the Frayos might perhaps land in the former category rather than the latter, but it doesn't make it less precious.

On my list was: eat a Twinkie. This super processed, nutritionally horrendous sponge cake with "creamy filling" is an American classic; an "an icon of junk-food snacks and guilty pleasures", and I had not yet had one. So, Shani made sure that I could cross that item off the list.

How it was? Well. Pretty terrible, I have to admit. Nonetheless, "Eat a Twinkie": check! (In case you were wondering, Shani's sweet cookies were several orders of magnitude better.)

Sunday started with work from 7 to 11, but things improved radically after that. Most importantly, Seahawks kicked some Californian butts, knocking the 49ers out of the playoffs. (Hah!) Had a fun time at 9 Mill watching the game, making friends and enjoying the overall holiday pleasantness.

Monday and Tuesday will be a ticking clock, counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until I get my behind in the airplane seat and head eastwards. I have a ton of things to wrap up at work (and at home) before I go, however, so there will be no downtime to talk of.

Better that way, says Melancholy Molly.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Busy bee

Starting today, I'm counting down nine days until it's time to board the plane to Sweden. In those nine days loose ends will be tied up, articles finished, experiments crammed in, holiday parties organized, meetings attended and friends bid farewell. Besides everything Fred Hutch-related, I need to also do my laundry, clean the apartment, wrap gifts and pack a bag or two for the upcoming travels on the 17th. But you know what? It's going to be great.

However, my busy schedule leaves no time for writing letters to Santa. Instead, I'll let Lindi Ortega sum it up: All I want for Christmas is a cowboy. Now you know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Festivus for the rest of us

Here's a post that probably won't make much sense except for the Seinfeld nerds out there, unless you do some research. Ever heard of Festivus? If not, read up.

...done? Great.

Life in Fremont is the source of constant amusement, and I was honestly not the least bit surprised when I started seeing posters about Fremot Festivus taking place on December 5th. Somehow, I had managed to miss this tradition in 2012 and 2013, but luckily not this year. Besides the customary Festivus practices, the celebrations also included the annual Lenin lighting; or, as the organizers so nicely put it, a chance to "Celebrate the start of the Fremont holiday shopping season by helping light up a bronze statue of a dead dictator!" Eh, count me in.

The hour-long festivities included everything you would expect, such as Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength (at least, a version of it) and a proper Festivus pole.

In addition, the celebrations included some things you might not expect, such as representation from the city in the form of Miss Seattle. Yes, seriously. (The one with the tiara, to the left.)

Shani and I decided to make this event into a proper girls' night out, and after the decorated dictator was lit up we spent the evening going from place to place, happily shopping, eating and drinking; basically enjoying everything that makes Fremont such a gem.

The rest of the weekend was equally lovely; on Saturday Amanda and I met up at the University Village outdoor mall for a Christmassy breakfast/shopping date, which turned out to be not only super fun but also super efficient. Sunday meant football at Eastlake Bar & Grill (go Hawks!), after finishing a few things at work and then crossing off the last items on my Christmas list. Finally, as I'm writing this, a batch of just-made glögg is cooling on the stove behind my back; one bottle will be brought to work on Wednesday, and the other to the Frayos next weekend. Good times they are a-comin'.

Happy second Advent, from me and Vladimir!