Wednesday, September 30, 2015


when i was informed nearly a year ago that my wonderful job was going away, i was given a couple of disingenuous excuses. they assured me that it was nothing i had done, i had performed at a high level, it was just a new course that was being charted because "LEGO isn't ready for co-creation." this despite countless articles by business journals and sites to the contrary (i link to just one of dozens). the other thing i was told is that my position was being converted to a marketing job and that i just didn't really fit with that because, "you're not commercial." i ran through my cv in my head, stumbling over decidedly commercially-minded companies like microsoft and maersk along the way and felt bewildered. i numbly accepted that news, because what else could i do. i was in a state of shock.

i had sensed that there was a reorg in the air in the weeks leading up to that fateful day, but i hadn't at all seen it coming that there would be no place for me in that reorg. it left me feeling not only sorrowful that my wonderful job had disappeared for reasons that seemed lame at best, but also that i had lost my ability to read people and situations and quickly understand them. and it has, i admit, knocked me off balance for nearly a year.

over the past year, on three occasions, i've been in the final pool for a new position with our favorite maker of plastic bricks and on every occasion, i came in first runner-up. it felt like i was beating my head against a (plastic) brick wall. the only feedback i've received on any of those losing propositions was that i was "too intimidating." a piece of information that is so far from how i feel on the inside, that i didn't know what to do with it, other than stir it up with the other oblique statements i had been given and try to make sense of it. that proved impossible, so what i did is that i gave up and started looking for jobs outside of LEGO.

one month ago, i applied for a very interesting-sounding marketing content position with one of the oldest shipowners in denmark. as you know, i'm a bit of a ship geek from previous jobs in the industry, and i'd long missed that world. just a few days after i sent my application, i was invited for an interview for a different position than the one i'd applied for - one which had been advertised earlier, but which i'd missed. i gratefully accepted and it went well and i was invited for the second round last week. and lo and behold, i was offered the job yesterday. and guess what? it's a marketing job. so i guess it turns out that i am commercial after all.

a delightful and quick process (getting hired into LEGO took more than six months from application to contract) goes a long way towards healing the wounds caused by those disingenuous excuses about my co-creation job. it makes me feel that i can once again trust my inner voice, read situations and that i am once again seen and valued for who i am and for my experience. it makes me sad to admit that the way i was treated by LEGO made me doubt all those things and feel strangely invisible. this was compounded by running into that duplicitous manager the other day and having him nearly refuse to shake my hand in greeting, even tho' he was shaking the hands of everyone else i was standing and talking to. i actually had a nightmare about that the night before last. but now, those nightmares can be put behind me.

i will still love the ingenuity and cleverness of the plastic brick and i am happy to have had the year i had as LEGO's co-creation manager and my immediate boss there was probably the best boss i've ever had, but i am also happy to be putting it all behind and returning to the world of shipping.

it helps a little bit that the new job is in copenhagen, so i'll get to return to the real world, at least during the week, a bit as well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

life lessons :: part 2

ahh, the distraction power of cute baby animals....
how to be småligt:

  1. hold a secret meeting.
  2. don't send out an agenda beforehand, which would remind people who somehow didn't get it saved in their calendars of the existence of the meeting.
  3. don't send out any minutes of the meeting for at least ten days afterwards.
  4. get mad at someone who sends a set of suggestions to the whole group because they didn't know anything about decisions made at the secret meeting (or even that there was a secret meeting).
  5. hold another meeting (admittedly not secret) with a small minority of the members. make a bunch of decisions without including the contribution submitted in good time before the meeting. 
  6. choose a badly-designed, weirdly colored logo for your brand new beautiful house (which belongs to the whole community and not only the small group) without considering other suggestions or even opening it up to the public to contribute and/or choose. (e.g. get the community involved so they feel ownership. heaven forbid.)
  7. and odin forbid that any of those clumsy logo suggestions be sent out to all members of the group before the meeting attended by the minority so that everyone can offer a carefully considered opinion.
  8. be a control freak for no reason.
  9. exclude members of the group for no reason.
  10. have a chosen group within the group that makes all of the decisions. preferably in secret, behind everyone's back.
  11. especially that girl with the accent.
  12. be petty.
  13. think small.
  14. always try to exclude someone.
  15. preferably the person who came up with the idea in the first place, so you can steal all the credit.
  16. be a xenophobe whenever possible.
  17. don't acknowledge the enormous volunteer contributions made by the various people you're bullying.
  18. appear as a character in my novel. and wish to hell you'd been nicer.
*småligt - adj. if petty were on steroids and wearing both underwear and shoes that are too tight. not worldly. with a very limited horizon. non-inclusive. one of those words that's just better in danish.

Monday, September 28, 2015

life lessons

how to be a bitch:

  1. float into the room, wafting expensive perfume and dramatically flounce down your easel and art supplies.
  2. immediately pounce sarcastically on a small grammar mistake (the equivalent of a/an) made by a non-native speaker of your minor language.
  3. hold onto that grammar mistake like a nasty little growling drop-kick dog with an organic designer artisan dog biscuit, pointedly bringing it up again half an hour later.
  4. when the person who made the mistake (and who is tired from being up half the night watching the lunar eclipse and on top of it, in the throes of PMS) doesn't laugh, sarcastically ask if she's "too delicate to take a little teasing."
  5. ask as well, "do you have trouble with the full moon?" in some knowing way that just seems weird.
  6. refer to your husband as your consort (as if you're the queen). 
  7. disparage the large, successful international company that has put your podunk little nothing town on the map, complaining about the tourists they attract and how the town is filled with their offices, theme park, school and museums and worst of all their foreigners (gasp!). (not to mention their airport, and the public sculpture they've provided...)
  8. don't be able to take it when the absurdity of complaining about that is pointed out with a genuine out loud laugh.
  9. deny that you said anything disparaging about said company and fluff up your feathers, preening about how your consort was instrumental in it all, including the airport.
  10. launch into some insider story about the airport using a bunch of obscure acronyms and referring to your consort's private plane.
  11. get in one last snide shot at the grammar while also disparaging the non-native speaker's husband (who is clearly helpless if he hasn't managed to eat dinner by himself) and whom you have never met. 
  12. appear as a character in my novel. and wish to hell you'd been nicer.

* the g&t photo is because i needed one after that encounter.

a month-long project comes to a successful close

yesterday, we wrapped up a group project, decorating the wall in our new library's minibib - the library for the littlest kids (age 0-6). seven of us in total worked on the project over the month of september. the brief was to take inspiration in the children's books illustrated by swedish illustrator helena davidsson neppelberg. her simple style, filled with bright colors and flat illustrations with no shadows or contours is perfect for a children's library. but, we also decided that we wanted it to feel very contemporary, so the figures would have a street art quality - where although we didn't use templates, we wanted them to look like they were done from templates and if there was color, it would be one single color or at most two. we wanted whimsy and without violating any copyrights, to create imagery that the children would recognize. i think, in the end, we achieved this, but it was an interesting process.

reining in 7 different creative people and keeping them on track is no easy task. each of us wanted to leave our mark and sneak in our own unique style somehow. it presented some challenges along the way. again and again, we discussed the brief and all agreed and again and again, people went ahead and did their own thing.

it was inevitable that some of those things didn't work in relation to the brief. and it was inevitable that they had to be done over. and because of the nature of women and how hard we are on one another (why do we do that?), we didn't always talk about it constructively. but we kept coming back to the brief and what our "customer," the library, wanted and needed the wall to be. and in the end, it worked out.

there are touches of everyone's personalities. and there are plenty of fun and sweet details for the children to discover. the silhouette of a little girl on the far side will be lifted by papier maché balloons (once they dry and can be attached) and the steps, which husband beautifully constructed, will have a whimsical papier maché dinosaur fixed upon them, to discourage climbing and keep them a bit safer than they are now (we had visions of those tiny ones crawling up and falling off the sides). we hope the children will enjoy it for years to come.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

scenes from a weekend

glorious, golden sunshine. a quick lunch with old friends. a nice drive and a good chat with a newer friend while getting there. and hours of finishing up a big wall painting at the library (photos of that soon). a bit of lawn mowing (it's weirdly my favorite thing). making 6 liters of mirabella plum juice. freezing a batch of raspberries. oven drying some more of those plum tomatoes. drinking not enough coffee and then drinking too much. wandering the garden with the camera. waiting for the lunar eclipse (it's actually clear here, so i've set my alarm). i'm not going to take photos of the eclipse, but just enjoy it (mostly because the child has my zoom lens and i'm thinking the 50mm fixed won't really cut it). and just generally trying to keep busy while i wait (once again). this time, tho', there is an end in sight to the waiting. please send good vibes my way!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

cat love revisited

lady, you sound familiar, but i'm not sure i know you. - fizz

ginny is growing up into a lovely young lady
i visited a good friend today.  this friend and i have that kind of friendship that i call cat love. we don't see one another that often, but when we do, we have a great connection and immediately can fall into comfortable and often deep conversation. we can tell each other the dark thoughts that are hard to admit out loud as well as laugh about the silliest things. i always go away thinking that we need to spend much more time together than we do, with our busy lives. and apropos cat love, she's the one who provided a new home for ginny & fizz, our spring kittens. they're so playful and cute and growing up nicely and are as happy as can be in their new surroundings. i think they recognized me by my kittty voice. anyway, we had an afternoon full of laughter, deep conversation and plenty of coffee. just what we were both in need of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

the season's first amanitas

hey man, get those poisonous things away from me!

that story from my hometown just gets worse and worse, so i thought i'd lighten things up with the season's first gorgeous amanitas. they are so bright and beautiful - they're the stuff of fairytales; every year, i feel delighted and surprised by them. i never tire of their bright red polka-dotted beauty. and today, with all of the bad news coming through (i didn't know these people, but somehow, i do feel the effect on my hometown, even here across an ocean), finding a small moment of delight in nature was much needed.

hold onto your moments of delight, you never know when you will need them.

Monday, September 21, 2015

the power of provoke

"When very bad things happen around the world, people search for news; they do not search for prayers, the Bible, the Quran or anything related to religion." - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Googling for God

i took comfort in the quote above when i read it in yesterday's new york times. when you look around sometimes, it can seem like the whole world is filled with religious fanatics, but it seems that the trend is actually in the opposite direction, with more people than ever identifying as atheist or agnostic. and that somehow gives me hope.

late last week, a terrible tragedy occurred in the little town where i grew up. a whole family - mom, dad and four children, were killed when their home burned down during the night. i didn't know them, but recognize that it is truly a horrible event with a very big impact on a small community. i immediately went in search of news of the tragedy and found an article on the website of the nearest town with a daily paper, the mitchell daily republic. this link is not the original version of the article, it was updated over the next couple of days, to include more facts about the events. but the initial version had very few facts and a whole lot of god in it. and i have to admit that i felt sorely provoked by that. a daily newspaper that can't even provide the facts of a story, but instead manages a couple of quotes from distraught community members about how they're praying about it and providing ministerial support for the children of the school district. thankfully, they were also providing school counselors, even calling in some from other schools, but what happened to the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state?

there was another article later the same night with even more religion and quotes from two ministers (apparently they're the ones willing to speak to the press) about how the family was well-prepared to meet their maker. yes, really. click the link. interestingly, no one was asking where god was when the fire started. if you believe in such things, that might be the pertinent question.

i've been pondering all weekend why this provoked me as much as it did. i think, like many things, it's a complex web of reasons. an eternal struggle to distance myself from provincial practices. worries about sending my child into that den of fundamentalism next year. an undoubtedly haughty disdain for small, religious thinking brought on by years of over-education and global living and observation of a world made a worse place to be by religious fundamentalism of every stripe. in short, the personal baggage that i carry around. and when something awful happens, it triggers a deep reaction in us and mine was one of disdain for those wishing to see this tragedy through the lens of a god that was apparently not benevolent enough to keep it from happening.

times of tragedy and loss make us need comfort. the comfort of a community gathering together is a powerful thing. we proved at the storytelling evening for my father last november, that being together, sharing stories and laughter and tears and affection and more laughter are enough, there's no need to bring god into it. i have nothing against privately having a word with a higher being or beings, but can't we keep it private, just between us and her/him/them? does it have to be splashed across the pages of our newspapers too?

UPDATE: the story gets worse, much worse. autopsy results have revealed that the wife and four children were murdered before the husband apparently set fire to the place and turned the gun on himself. i really do wonder if they were as prepared to meet their maker as that minister suggested...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

don't even

this was such a lucky capture, i can't believe i got it. scout wasn't in the mood to play and he firmly put a stop to it. it didn't last long, of course, but it was pretty funny. i woke up on saturday with a very sore throat and it's developed into a full blown cold/flu thing with loads of phlegm, aches and an occasionally-spiking fever. there's nothing to be done for it but drink loads of tea with honey and curl up in bed with the cats and endless episodes of miss fisher's murder mysteries on netflix. if you haven't seen this australian agatha christie-esque series set in the 20s, you must watch it. it's witty and charming and the costumes...oh, the costumes. they will make you long to have lived in classier times...

Monday, September 14, 2015

karl johan and other randomness

it's good to have mushroom hunting friends who call and say, "we've got way too many mushrooms, can you use some?" and then they give you a full 10 liter bucket of beautiful karl johans (aka porcini). i'm thinking mushroom tart. dried mushrooms. maybe with butter and garlic atop a steak.

* * *

i've been branching out in my podcast listening of late. i listened to a few episodes of on being. i can't remember what podcast directed me there. it's deep and explores big, existential questions, but the host, krista tippett is so incredibly pretentious and annoying that i had to delete it from my phone again. i also listened to most of the extant episodes of food52's burnt toast, but didn't subscribe. the hosts are ok, but some of the guests were, again, too pretentious for my tastes (that brooklyn beer guy was downright insufferable). it seems like pretentious doesn't do it for me at the moment. today, via the longform podcast i found my way to another round, a buzzfeed podcast. i'm not that far in, but am already enjoying it. no pretentions, plenty of slang that i'm utterly out of touch with, and funny stories told by hosts who are having a cocktail or two. what's not to like? what are you listening to these days?

* * *

what is the deal with random people who think it's ok to give you unasked for advice? "you should put the link in a different spot on that post." hmm, just because you weren't computer savvy enough to find the highlighted word and click it, isn't my problem. and don't pull "well, i have a mac" shit on me. i. have. a. mac. 

* * *

i dreamed that a tractor pushed husband's car (which was inexplicably a black SUV, rather than the white soccer mom van it is in reality) from in front of our house (which was a different house than our real house, but our house nonetheless), down a hill towards a lake (not our actual lake), where it almost, but didn't quite go in, because it swung around in a wide circle (despite having no driver at the wheel).  and then a raging elephant chased the guy in the tractor, who had for some reason gotten out of the tractor and was on foot, running back towards the house, pursued by said raging elephant. for once, i'm glad a meowing cat that wanted in out of the rain woke me up.

* * *

as counterintuitive as it sounds, i kind of always wanted to be a flight attendant, it's actually kind of a bucket list item for me (if i had a bucket list). and now it seems that delta is looking for danish-speaking flight attendants, so i might even qualify. and here i thought i'd end up working for SAS, which, as we know, stands for Sexy After Sixty. :-)  but perhaps it's not too late and i'm not quite to 60 yet!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

it's a slippery slope

i made the mistake of joining a retro toy group on facebook. two of them, actually. it all started with being on the lookout for vintage lego fabuland characters. because obviously, i hadn't found enough of those on ebay...

and while there was no fabuland in the groups, i did run onto these little teeny tiny people, still in their original package. and i just had to have them.

of course, i didn't really care that they were in their original packaging as they weren't going to stay there. i had to take them out and play with them.

it seems that the lego minifigures were just a gateway drug to wider toy photography...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

et småligt land

these days, there are many refugees on the move throughout europe. leaving their war-torn homes in syria and iraq, coming ashore in barely seaworthy boats on greek islands, getting on trains or trucks, or failing that, walking their way up through europe. they're trying to get to germany and sweden, which are the main european countries standing up and taking responsibility, opening their doors, their stadiums and hearts. meanwhile, the minority, xenophobic and apparently tone deaf danish government took out ads in newspapers in the middle east, discouraging people from coming to denmark. this means that the hundreds of people who need to cross denmark to get to sweden are being stopped at the borders these days. yesterday, several hundred of them walked along the motorway and it had to be closed at one point for their safety. some danes form "welcome" committees on the overpasses, spitting down on the refugees and screaming obscenities in broken english. these are shameful, dark times.

last night, instead of standing up and taking any responsibility, the danish prime minister, lars løkke rasmussen, apparently went to a wine tasting. the police, overwhelmed with people at the borders, have elected to stop trying to register those who don't wish to seek asylum in denmark and just let them go on through to sweden. yesterday, they were stopping them, but the numbers are too large for that now and taking people off trains and buses to forcibly register them was only creating chaos and large crowds of people walking on the motorways.

for all of my complaints, i do love living in denmark and i love many things about it, including the welfare state which allows people to get back on their feet when they're down. but this makes me (and a whole lot of danes) sad and embarrassed and ashamed. and it's the direct result of years and years of heightened xenophobic rhetoric. and now the whole world is watching and it's not a pretty sight.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

wednesday witterings

i have wasted 24 hours of energy and sacrificed a good night's sleep over the most ridiculous casual vacancy-esque local control-freak, power-hungry, senseless game-playing situation that should never have been a situation. but i always think of these things as fodder for an eventual novel. or at least a memoir. i do wonder when i'm going to get around to writing that? and somehow, just like that, my brain cleared of it sometime this afternoon. possibly because we are having glorious autumn weather - sunny days, just the right temperature, no wind. i am so affected by the weather, both good and bad. and by a new set of possibilities opening up. dare i say there is excitement and hope stirring in the days ahead? and a trip to copenhagen.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

clinging to the light

so much unnecessary madness today, i am clinging to the last, golden rays of autumnal sunshine.

more tomorrow.

believe me, i have a story to tell...

Monday, September 07, 2015

rising from the ashes

i'm not a fan of brené brown (pretentious git, i could not stand this ted talk by her), but this post about her work on brain pickings did speak to me.  it makes me realize that it's time to release the notion of idealized perfection and acknowledge that it's been really hard for the past year. my dream job being taken away for reasons that feel false and disingenuous has left me wounded in ways from which it feels like i might never recover. to have found something that felt so perfect and so much like home and have it taken away hurts so much. i wonder if i'll find a job that feels so right ever again? will all other jobs pale in comparison? and the thought that i might not ever be as happy in my work again is truly frightening and leaves me paralyzed. at times, it just seems like too much and i want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and just sleep until the world is different. or at least until my view on it changes.

but brown's work is about rising from the ashes of defeat, not about sleeping it off. it's about the guts and resilience it takes. she says, "the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged." the grit it takes to do this is often lauded in today's world, as we rush headlong towards happy endings, but brown says that discounts the pain and the hard work of rising again after a defeat. "embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear that it can cause, or the complex journey that underlies rising strong, is gold-plating grit. to strip failure of its real emotional consequences is to scrub the concepts of grit and resilience of the very qualities that make them both so important — toughness, doggedness, and perseverance."

the truth is, i feel that some part of my identity was stripped from me along with my dream job and it feels like purposeful cruelty. and while i have been fighting the notion that i am my work for a good many years now, the truth is that it's inescapable in our culture. so i am left wondering who i am and what's next. and i'm feeling like any grit i once had that would help me through such an experience is gone for good.

but perhaps each time i acknowledge the hurt and pick a bit more at the wound, it will get a little bit better and i will find a way to rise once again from a failure not really my own. and perhaps that's the problem. this happened to me due to the cold, unfeeling reality of corporate decision-making and despite how very personal it feels, it actually wasn't when it comes down to it. and that makes it hard to know what to learn from it - should i become less trusting? be a cold, unfeeling spectre? do i give less of myself the next time? should i not fall in love with a job i love? do i stop being my real self in order to protect that self the next time around? it's all still very bewildering. i wonder when it will get any easier...

Sunday, September 06, 2015

the view from sunday night

that yearly crayfish party is awesome. seriously a highlight of the whole year. i love husband's family. there are always great conversations. deep conversations. confessions even, but in the best, most understanding of environments. it cleanses my soul and leaves me feeling less alone. part of a tribe even. in the very best way. it was just what i needed.

there was a creative workshop today in our fantastic new library/kulturhus. it was good, but it wasn't all easy. it had its moments. where i am right now, lacking excess energy due to the waiting, it's hard for me to give space to another person who is in a possibly lifelong energy deficit. it's like those two lacks clash and make one giant black hole that neither of us can climb out of.  and it's not the most pleasant of feelings.

and as workshops often do, they bring you further than you think they have while you're in the midst of it. as i tried to draw the threads together afterwards, i was surprised to find that they did indeed come together. that's a good feeling. it had been too long.

i've had multiple dreams of wolves of late. they keep coming. there are rumors that the wolf has returned to denmark, but this is getting absurd. i did think i saw one a week or so ago in a freshly-harvested field. for real. it was lean and looked wild. but maybe it was just a dog? would i know a wolf i saw one? and why does it keep appearing in my dreams? what does it all mean?

Friday, September 04, 2015

holding pattern

the light is changing, becoming autumnal and i mind it less than i thought i would. we didn't have much summer this summer and i thought i would dread the autumn, but, like many other transitions at the moment, it feels like it's right and like it's what's next, just the natural progression of things. what doesn't feel right is that i'm in a waiting phase once again and time has slowed down once again. it doesn't get easier. and it doesn't help my sleep. in fact, it feels like torture, cruelty even. i just want to know what's next and get on with it.

in the meantime, i find myself seeking comfort. soft sheep pelts tossed over chairs, purring cats, the smell of apples baking in the oven, long walks listening to podcasts, a new cut & color. it helps but it doesn't help.

what also doesn't help is an unexpectedly rude email, reading the news, people playing games for no logical reason, strange dreams of wolves and not sleeping properly.

our yearly krebsegilde (the swedish crayfish party) is this weekend and perhaps that will help. tradition, combined with laughter can sometimes do that.

in the meantime, i try to breathe in and just get through it.