An evening in June

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A Swedish paper flag in my bathroom, leftover herring, and a beautiful flower wreath gracing the dresser – it’s the night following an evening in June. It’s that evening in June, Midsummer, when we celebrate the shortest night. Because I know trying to be all German and pretending to not bother about Midsummer makes me depressed, I went all in, installed Little Sweden in the garden behind my house and invited the usual crowd. We’ve celebrated Melodifestivalen, of course we’d do Midsummer. Next up is Crown Princess Victoria’s 40th birthday.

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Anja with the self-made amazing mini Midsummer Pole

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Of course there was dancing around the pole. Actually we did a very authentic job.

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Before it’s too late

I have been wanting to write for more than a week! (I have also been trying for more than a year to start less entries with “I” but I usually fail and I am now reading a book on narcissism.) But there is just so much going on I can’t get around to reporting to the interested public. Now I am finally doing it because I don’t know if I will be able to do it from tomorrow on. What’s this? you’re wondering. Well, I have to undergo finger surgery tomorrow. No, I do not have some weird syndrom that comes from typing too much but there is something growing in the upper part of my pinky and the doctor does not like it. When he told me he’d remove it, I replied very naive, “Can I go to work afterwards?” Apparently not. It will hurt. And worst case I’ll be on sick leave for two weeks. So maybe I won’t be able to type and use my right hand for two weeks – admittedly an uncomfortable scenario. I will just have to spend 14 days watching Fredrik Lindström’s Tänk om about counterfactual history.

Before that though, I’ll share with you my fabulous adventures of the past days. I flew to Berlin (so neat I might never take the 5-hour-train again), I welcomed my intern (who had to take in lots of information very quickly), I attended the first rehearsal of the SongFest (a mass choir project in which we sing among others “Brighter Day”!), I tried partying in Dizzel (not that sucessful because the DJ played Helene Fischer at a 90ties party) and I cut my hair (the hairdresser did. I doesn’t look much different. Sorry to disappoint.)

My day trip to Berlin was to attend a very nice meeting at the embassy. I also took the chance to see the current children’s books exhibition they have at the embassy. If you live/are in Berlin, go there. It’s quite wonderful. You have to take off you shoes and there are turds. Because, Sweden.

Even difficult topics such as death are adressed with the mouse mourning her companion Werner. The rooms are carefully furnished and so small that only kids can get inside. The concept seems to be a success with the little visitors because the guest book ead, “I think everything is nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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A book with a fairy tale for each day

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The exhibition also lifted questions such as “What does one live for?” and “Who’s little cap is flying?” [The latter being a book title.]

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Not to forget the fancy and real good lunch we were served

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In another exhibit downstairs, they had visualised the Human Rights in graceful (I think) Farsi

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Otherwise, Berlin was its normal self with way too many people on the public transport, ladies that dye their dogs hair in rainbow colors, and adorable Alice, my friend Annelie’s soon-to-be-one-year-old.

In Dizzel, I decorated our assistant’s desk and chair with happy birthday things, pre-installed the Crown Princess Family on the intern’s computer and eternalized my soon-to-be-cut-open finger. Also, as you know, the European Championships are on! At lunch last week, I said I didn’t really have time to watch the first round and would jump in when the round of sixteen started. Only later I realized, Sweden will probably not even make it that far…German fans in Dizzel meanwhile seem to think that the success of the team is related to the size of flag supporters hang outside their houses. Or at least that is how I interpret the gigantic flag on Ellerstraße.

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Something that is especially bitter about having surgery is that I cannot plan anything for Midsummer (because who knows if my hand will be strawberry-hold-able?). At least I was asked for contributing with question to Ikea’s Midsummer quiz. And yes, I corrected the faulty spelling fo the king’s name.

The longest day

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Somehow it is almost a tradition now that I have some kind of emotional meltdown shortly before Midsummer. Luckily, it is also a tradition that I miracously manage to pick up courage just in time for the celebrations. This year was my second Hamburg Midsummer and let me tell you, I think it takes a lot of pressure away from this sancrosanct holiday when you are not in Sweden.

As a choir member, I fulfilled my duty of singing the traditional summer songs (which I hold very dear) at the Midsummer pole that the church put up. Actually, I always wonder what the bystanders in the street think of us when we carry the pole to the meadow next to the church. Probably the believe we are some kind of curious sect processing to the pole with flowers in our hair. Then, we all offer to the Midsummer Pole God by throwing all our backpacks and handbags at the foot of the pole. After the offering, we do ritual dances following a clear pattern that everyone in the sect knows but which must look utterly outlandish to the onlooker: The dancers perform gestures such as doing laundry, scrubbing floors and pretending to be a sleeping bear to placate the Midsummer Pole God.

Foolin' around with Annika

Foolin’ around with Annika

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Reisegruppe Sonnenschein picknicking

Reisegruppe Sonnenschein picknicking

Afterwards, I lead the “Reisegruppe Sonnenschein” [Sunshine Travel Group] as I called my group of Swedish-German ladies to a short picknick before the rain forced us to retreat to my living room where we, still graced by flower wreaths, sung Swedish schlager songs. A funny thing I observed was that no one on the metro was staring at me and my headdress. Usually, people in Hamburg stare for any reason (like you speaking English to each other), but apparently my flower wreath looked so natural on me that it did not jar the passengers’ eyes.

Midsummer is like a second New Year’s Eve, a holiday often charged with expectations that mostly cannot be met . But when you aren’t even in the authentic Swedish environment, that stress is somehow reduced and a picknick with Gille cookies and Pågen bread is a perfectly good enough, relaxed Midsummmer’s Eve. 

Today, I got to meet Ingrid's parents for the first time! Ingrid's mom took this photo of us.

Today, I got to meet Ingrid’s parents for the first time! Ingrid’s mom took this photo of us.