In the big city

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Hello! I am still alive! But right now, I almost don’t feel like it.

After working 14 hours straight today, I am dead tired. You might have guessed it: I am away on business, hosting another series of events. While those are always crazy exhausting (just walking in heels all day…), they are also the best work days. I love meeting everyone again and creating a platform for them to meet each other. Also, it helps that this event took place in Hamburg.

Hamburg! Arriving here yesterday, I noticed that Düsseldorf might have smallertowned me. I know Hamburg is the second biggest German city, but before I lived here, I was in Stockholm, so I didn’t think it was anything special. Now, in comparison, Düsseldorf seems so much cozier and smaller. I just checked the cinemas for the weekend. There are so many cinemas.  You have to click through two pages on the website that compiles all cinemas! And on Sunday night, you can watch “Green Book” in English in three different theaters! This amazement is what I mean – I have become smallertowned by living in Düsseldorf. And that’s okay.

I redesigned our annual workshop which worked out pretty well. Also, I wore pants which was pretty crazy.

Helen goes to Hollywood

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I only went to the US when they had Bush and Trump as presidents. For the summer, I am contemplating visiting the UK. Is this still tourism or political foreign aid for confused voters?

I did it! I finally did it! And boy was I nervous about it.

Yesterday, I booked my longest trip ever. Many people perceive me as a well-travelled, cosmopolitan person. Let me tell you, when I have to book a flight costing four figures to the other side of the world, I am like a village girl that has never even entered an airport. The excitement! The anxiety!

The reason for sitting on a plane for 15 hours are my friend Emily and my cousin Kiarmin. Frankly, I am starting to doubt if it was meant for us to go places that take so long to reach and to have friends and family in places that we formerly believed were the end of the world where you’d fall off the earth. But here came study abroad programs and there was no going back – and to be honest, it would be a massive drawback in my personal life not to know these people residing in the Far West.

So I am going to Los Angeles and Vancouver in April. I will be farther away than ever before, currently I feel alternately like a pioneer looking for gold and an astronaut going where no man has gone before. But I am also very excited to return to my third-favorite country, to eat chili with Emily, shop at Dressbarn (the grandma dress store I found last time), learn more about California, and to for the first time see Canada, o Canada, the Sweden of America, just with a better head of government.

In other news: My friend Bianca and I formed a book club last year and had our second meeting last night. We discussed “The Handmaid’s Tale” that was our first book. Well written, but so uncomfortable to read as a woman. Our next book is Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” which I started right away yesterday. So far it’s pretty good!

Movie Star, Movie Star

I hadn’t unpacked from my trip over New Year’s at my parents when I already packed again last Friday. Given my travel-averse personality, you can tell there must have been some serious incentive waiting for me. And you’re right. The ‘incentives’ had big eyes, contagious giggles, a princess dress and endearing declarations of affection for me. I visited my niece, princess dress and declarations, and nephew, big eyes and giggles, and seven hours of travelling seldom felt so worth it for 23 hours together.

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Yesterday marked a milestone for my niece and me because not only did we go on an adventure only we two for the first time, that adventure led us to her very first visit to the cinema. I love the movies and so I felt especially privileged to be the one to introduce her to motion pictures. Sometimes you’d think young children might not remember everything you do with them, but when we went to town, she told me again how she still thinks about “how when I visited you, we went to see the penguins and that was my favorite thing!”

Going to the cinema all the time myself, I would say I still appreciate the special atmosphere there, but it is nothing like seeing this environment through a child’s eyes for the first time. I explained how the ticket purchase works (“and here it says where we get to sit”), I helped select snacks (“let’s take the small bag of chips”) and I held her hand when walking in (“Helen, why is everything so dark in the cinema!”). I watched her as she sat on the edge of her seat with her mouth open in concentration during the film, and I explained to her the concept of the credits (“these are the names of the people who made the coffee for the actors”). The whole experience made such an impression that I climbed in rank so much, my niece asked me on the way back, “Can I sleep in your bed tonight? I really want to sleep in your bed tonight.”

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After the cinema, we went into the small town and looked at shops.

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The reason I am able to write this blog post is that A gave me a new laptop (!) for Christmas. It is wonderfully light (lighter than a MacBook Air which had previously always been my point of reference) and it boots up so quickly I can’t keep up. (Another reason I can write this blog post is that A is cooking dinner tonight.)