Glad Midsommar!

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Either I have strayed too far from Sweden or I am too occupied with the move, but this year, I gave much less attention to Midsummer than usual. Or actually that’s not entirely true – I celebrated a Business Midsommar event for work and I attended the Swedish Society’s Midsummer celebrations. But both were a week before the actual Midsummer so that barely counts. Today is the real Midsummer! In Sweden, this is a calendar milestone just like “Easter” or “Christmas”. In my work correspondence, we say, “This needs to be done before Midsummer”. I guess if you tried that with, say, Italians, they’d be like “Huh, when is the middle of summer?!”

I have lots of nice Midsummer memories as my Timehop app always reminds me. One year, I celebrated in my new co-worker’s garden in Stockholm (we had to work the next day), in Hamburg I had picknicks with young expat Swedes, in 2016 I had a hand surgery right before Midsummer, last year I think the soccer game Sweden – Germany was on Midsummer Day. Two years ago, I had a really nice Midsummer gathering in the park behind my house (I think that one so far wins the award for Helen’s best Midsummer). A early on understood the significance of this day. He never questioned whether it was neccessary to get flowers and make a wreath. Actually, he patiently helped me make my krans even this year.

And how am I celebrating tonight? I am honoring Midsummer in the best way while moving house: with a trip to IKEA!

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Anja had the best wreath

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We competed in the tipspromenad where you had to answer multiple choice questions like “How many Swedes live abroad?”

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At the Swedish Society’s Celebration last weekend

Comparative studies of weekly papers in North and West Germany

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Collection of problematic stuff today, Friday June 14. It sounds like a psychotherapy thing to me but I guess that’s not what they mean.

When my Anja friend learned Swedish, one of the first complete sentences she said to me was, „Helen är en mycket aktiv pensionär!” (Helen is a very active pensioner.) The reason for her saying this was my delight with the weekly paper and the Aldi store’s broschure in it each Wednesday. She’s right, there is probably no one under 65 but me who reads those papers. A chuckles to himself when he sees me earnestly studying the pages, occasionally informing him on what’s going on in Düsseldorf.

So they won’t be surprised to hear that as soon as I had the keys to the Hamburg apartment (that I am paying for but not moving into until in two weeks), I picked up the Hamburg Weekly Paper that was distributed in the house’s entrance corridor. I took it with me, assuming I could read it through while taking in the new apartment for five minutes. I was in for a surprise! The Hamburg weekly paper (this is not the regular newspaper. This is a paper financed entirely by ads, reporting about very local happenings) has 12 pages full of information. In Düsseldorf, we have four and one is so massively directed at seniors not even I can read it. It took me like an hour to study the Hamburg issue and I felt like I was doing comparative studies of weekly papers. I can conclude the following:

The Hamburg paper does not have an Aldi broschure (problematic, I think) and its writing would probably be referred to as lurid journalism. On the front page there was an article about the wading pool that was out of order because the city decided hygiene standards can’t be met. The headline the paper had? „Was the end planned years ago?“ The quotes were equally dramatic: „Going to the park’s pool instead is intolerable“, „Where am I supposed to go with my children?“ and „If we have to, we are prepared to put on a water demonstration“. Whoa. So much rage because of a wading pool.

Page three featured an article about a tree that was planted 150 years ago when the French-German war ended. Today, nobody pays attending to the tree and nobody pulls out the weeds. The paper’s headline: „The battle for the forgotten tree“. They totally saw the bigger picture writing, „It is important to know where you’re coming from. This tree can help you remember“. I love how history seems to be a thing in my new hood.

I am already looking forward to reading that paper each week. Not only because of the dramatic articles, also because there are so many cool things happening apparently. (I assume it is one of the signs that Hamburg is a really large city. So much going on, it’s overwhelming!) I learned there is a choir workshop with schlager and pop music (I’ll be on vacation, otherwise I’d totally attend), a „word picknick“ in the park where poets and authors read, a Catholic Soccer Cup (reminds me of The Interfaith Softball League in L.A.), a theatre play starring only people who stutter or have other language difficulties, and the campaign „#respectpigeon“ to educate people and counteract the negative image of pigeons.

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A baby is welcomed in the paper. They write her name means “hope” and “date palm”. In which culture are date palms the same as hope?

The week that passed

Last week was the first week in a long, long time that I got to spend all at home. I mean, I went to work of course but I didn’t go anywhere else than Düsseldorf. Such a treat! My own bed every night, no packing. I am more of a homebody than everyone thinks!

Speaking of home, one of the advantages with calling Düsseldorf my home for another three weeks is that DUS is the closest international airport to most of my extended maternal family. (Sorry, Hamburg, but you can’t compete.) On Friday, my aunt texted me that her son was returned at lunch from a year in New Zealand. I extended my lunch break, hopped on the light rail train and arrived at the airport before my aunt and her family made it. They were stuck in traffic and worried to miss my cousin’s arrival. I stood ready to save the day (also very spontaneously purchased a “welcome home” balloon). Luckily, they made it in time and we all stood at the arrivals gate when my cousin came out!

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The downpart was that when I came back to the central station to bike back to work, I found my bike seat was gone. Stolen! What is it with these bike thieves! Now they even take parts of a bike?! I had to get a new one pretty immediately and spent a lot of money on a bike seat that doesn’t seem as comfortable as my old one. Ughhhh.

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This weekend, A and I went to Hombroich which I wanted to post a longer entry about (but my phone and computer won’t cooperate, considerably limiting the amount of photos I can share with you). On Sunday, I met my friend Anja for Persian lunch (ridiculously tasty!) and seeing the Ai Wei Wei exhibit (he rarely disappoints, I think partly that’s because his art is so political). As we walked through Düsseldorf-Bilk we saw the above insta-worthy door and signs for “D1” and “D2” – in case you were questioning whether Dizzel still had that nineties charm!