My Anna Week

For Germans, it’s the last week of June. For Swedes, it’s week 26. For me, it’s my Anna week. The last time she visited me, Anna said, “Once I’m through with my A-Levels, can’t I come visit you for a week and you teach me household chores?” Now she has completed her tests and passed with high marks (so proud of her!), she came to stay with me for the Anna Week.

And what a week that is! In the mornings, she wakes me asking if I’d like tea, during the day she does the shopping, attends the Sport im Park sessionsSport im Park sessions, in the evening I teach her the recipes I know or how to clean windows. And all the time, obviously, we have great fun and chat away. I feel very privileged to have Anna Week.

One ‘lesson’ that was not originally part of the Helen Housewife Schooling during Anna Week was particularily successful: Anna’s Skam-ification. She told me she’s going to Norway for summer vacation and I told her she needs to know Skam to fit in. The first night I came home, she said, “I’ve watched six episodes!” I felt like our relationship just had deepened even more. On the second night (“done with the first season and started the second”), she started dropping Norwegian words during dinner. I think Anna Week might be the best week of the year.

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The Easter episode of Skam scared her so much she hid under the pillows

Don’t count your chicken

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Dizzel a few weeks ago

…before they’re hatched. Don’t praise the day before the evening. Or don’t shout hej before you’ve passed the stream. Basically, my excitement of spring in this town was, well, premature. Since weeks we’ve had winter weather, it’s quite depressing. This week, in an act of rebellion, I put on my “Swedish Summer” Spotify list but the rain would not stop falling.

The worst thing is that the weather forecast shows no betterment and I have an event in a week that would be so much nicer if the sun would shine. This event series (four consecutive events because sleep is very overrated) is nevertheless already an unpredecented success with guest numbers soaring constantly. I actually had to start saying no to people. Last year, we were fighting for every attendee, and I want to believe that this year’s run on tickets has to do with the fact that the event is taking placed in what used to briefly be my home, Hamburg. A lot of guests also means a lot of work for me (plus several presentations I have to prepare) and curiously enough, the fuller my to do list, the better my work motivation. I must be high on adrenaline or something.

Easter also happened. I spent it in the South of Germany with my stepsisters and my adorable niece. She told me she was two years old and I was five. We spent a lot of time eating (fish on Good Friday as good Catholics do; and we ate ourselves through the entire Cannstadter Wasn fair in Stuttgart, Maultaschen are seriously delicious), attended a Easter night mass which was an amazing show (now my resolution for next year is to experience that in the Cologne Cathedral, probably the most Catholic place in Germany), and I met my friend Renate from primary school who updated me on all gossip (people have actually started to inter-marry among our class mates…)

The following weekend, wonderful Anna graced Düsseldorf with her presence. It’s impossible not to have a good time with Anna. As she is still doing her A-Levels, we spent some time practicing how to analyse poems, but we also tried my co-workers’ curling iron and went to Restaurant Schwan that Lil’ Pesto could not stop talking about. At that restaurant, they serve Schwanitzel (a pun on Schnitzel that amused us a little more than it should have) that could feed at least two grown-ups.

May is full of holidays. If there was a party campaigning to put one of those in September instead, I would consider voting for them. Actually, elections are coming up in my federal state and as this is the most populated German state, it’s kind of a big deal. Since I am only listening to North German radio, I am perfectly informed about the election in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein and can barely name the candidates here. I tested switching to the local radio station but it sounded so wrong! I tried the political compass and it told me my views matched those of “The Purple Party – For spiritual politics” best. In an attempt to educate myself further I noticed a lot of weird parties are on the ballot in this state: “Departure C – Christian values in politics”, “Party for Health Research”, “Nicer Living” or the light green “V-Party³ for change, vegetarians and vegans”. You see, democracy is alive and well in North-Rhine Westphalia!

The many holidays in May and June also gave me an opportunity to go on a TantenTour, a trip visiting three of my four maternal aunts. One of them lives in the perfect country idyll, in fields of gold. My godchild and I had a good time enjoying the country life.

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It’s absurd how time seems to fly. Didn’t I board a plane to the U.S. just a week ago? Didn’t Lil’ Pesto enter my office life yesterday? How can it be May already?! That also means my 30th birthday is drawing closer – yes, it’s still ten months but today I checked out another venue. It’s a former nunnery in my neigborhood. I know now that is is way too expensive for me but you never know when I need a location for a work event. I must admit though that is feels a bit funny to arrange events in a church. The entire place breathed nunnery still and I, who was educated at a nunnery for almost a decade, especially felt that it was a little wrong to roam the corridors. It’s all still there: the gate where a nun would sit, the stoups, the beautiful decorations on the floor.

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Last but far from least, it’s Skam season again! On Sundays, I now consult with Lil’ Pesto’s girlfriend to know whether he has seen the most recent episode so that I don’t put any spoilers out there by accident. It’s the last season and the first that I follow in real-time, meaning I can enjoy the entire concept of them putting chat logs and instagram pictures on their website, making you guess what will happen in the next episode. Watch Skam. Nobody I told to do so has ever regretted it.

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Skam on my fridge: “So should we drop all our plans because a guy texts? The answer is no, ladies.”

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Helen, du har en sån röst, du skulle kunna vara rösten i tunnelbanan. För mig är du redan det.

Man vet aldrig när kärleken checkar in!

Jag klipper mina naglar ofta, jag tycker det är avslappnande. Men jag röker inte, tar inga droger, då får jag väl ha det som min grej, att klippa naglarna.

Hur mycket får du för det där Brötchen som du köpte åt mig? – Helen, de 15 cent kan jag faktiskt bjuda på. Det är du värd, älskling.

Jag vill till Vapiano och hon vill till det asiastiska stället. – Då blir det Clash of the Titans på lunchen!

Shame

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In my generation, you get daily recommendations on what to watch. “You have to see Game of Thrones!” “West World is the best thing on TV right now!” “Once you get through the first season of House of Cards, it gets really good!”

I am rather picky when it comes to TV series. Either a story captures me in the pilot or I get on with my life. I mean, really, my life span is limited, I can’t spend half a day watching before a show starts getting good. That return on investment does not really work out for me.

But I am also a herd animal and I have a certain interest to hänga med i snacket. When Lil’ Pesto joined the office, he made a passionate plea for the Norwegian show everyone is talking about nowadays: Skam (Shame). Hours after that, one of my best friends whatsapped me she watches it. Then my Grey’s Anatomy buddy mentioned on Facebook she watches it.

Skam, titled after an emotion that is rather distinct among teenagers, was originally a project to make the Norwegian State TV’s internet site more attractive to a young audience. The show is aired online, the characters have instagram profiles, the creator travelled through all of Norway to ask young people what life is like for them.

Okay, I thought, I will give it another try. Because obviously, the great trendspotter I am (…), I had tried it weeks ago and been all like, “Why would I watch a show that is basically my life 15 years ago?”

Now, two weeks later, I’m in season two and still can’t put my finger to why I just have to watch three episodes in one evening. Is it because there are only girl lead roles, all  carefully characterised and played by amazingly skilled young actresses? Is it because it is all in Norwegian and it sounds so charming and ridiculous at the same time? Is it because it is a kind of regression into teen age, just with some happy endings? Or am I just trying to have a topic of conversation with my intern?

I am actually not sure. I just know that it’s short episodes and I have found fierce love in my heart for my favorite character. If you don’t live in Sweden, get a VPN to be able to access SVTPlay and watch what everyone’s talking about, online and offline. (Actually, how does anyone even survive without a VPN? It’s like being cut off from half of the world. The Swedish world.)

P.S.: And it is not really my life 15 years ago. We didn’t have Jodel back then.

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Smart advertisers know about the Skam hype. “Your body needs potatoes”, McDonald’s quotes from season 2.

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Lil’ Pesto’s favorite is Vilde, so I put up a poster of her for motivational reasons.

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Det är nästan som om jag är Jesusbarnet och du är de tre visen männen! (Kollegan när jag berättar att hon ska få tre presenter.)

Det är lådan med Volvo, choklad och födelsedagskassan.  – Det är den lyckliga lådan!

Jag ska inte lägga mig i. Bara litegrann.

Jag har inte dumpat!…speciellt många.