Since my last update in November…
Winter arrived. and went.
Each winter I have experienced in Stockholm has been different. There have been varying amounts of snow: one year barely any, another year meters. There have been varying amounts of cold: some hovering right at freezing, one introducing me to -16℃. The one consistency had been that December and January had short days, but sunny skies. February always was the worst month, the coldest month, the gray overcast month.
This winter was different. Stockholm went over 20 days without a single hour of sunlight in December due to an overcast sky. The February-like weather lasted 2 months until, well, February. Stockholm then turned into a winter wonderland. Snow globe-like flurries accumulated. When it was not snowing, the sun was shining. The temperature stayed just below freezing. Light reflecting off the white snow at night made the short days feel less dark. For the first time in my life, I genuinely enjoyed a cold, snowy winter.
Arthur and I went for a hike around Nacka every weekend. We saw parts of the archipelago freeze over. We saw people walking on the frozen lakes, although we did not join them. We saw a Swede walk out his home wearing a bathrobe and slippers, jump into a hole in the frozen lake, and merrily walk right back. We heard the wind chime-like clinking of the ice pieces as they floated beside each other. We watched the ducks have too much fun playing in the icy water. Our neighbor Karin joined us one weekend and gave us a tour of her old neighborhood.
Holidays and Birthdays for 2
We celebrated Thanksgiving with our quarantine couple, Chris and Terry. They introduced us to the Scottish tradition of Burns Night earlier in the year and we wanted to introduce them to an American tradition before they moved back to Scotland.
We celebrated Xmas with video chats with family in the US. Arthur bought the largest and best tree we have ever had. Such a shame few got to see it in person.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve at home, which was an excellent location independent of the inability to go anywhere. Stockholm’s fireworks were centered around Skansen directly across the water from our home.
Arthur and I celebrated our birthdays in December and January respectively. Arthur made dumplings and mapo tofu, my favorites, for my birthday meal. He is amazing. Last year, I had planned to celebrate my half-birthday in July with a big summer party instead of my actual birthday in dull January. The pandemic ruined that plan. From now on, I am going balls-to-the-wall on my birthday.
Daily life has been much of the same since the last update. Arthur and I both still work from home. We enjoy lunch together while watching something educational or travel related. I work a bit later to accomodate my US west coast coworkers. Arthur makes something delicious for dinner. Repeat ✖️5. Spotify announced an impressive distributed-first plan that will allow Arthur to continue to work remotely. I like this future together, though hopefully with more friend-filled evenings and weekends soon.
COVID-19 vaccination is going much slower in Europe than in the US. The drug companies are not meeting their delivery timelines. Sverige (Sweden) intended to make the vaccine available to everyone by end of June. Stockholm has said to not expect that until mid-July. The Bloomberg vaccine tracker forecasts Europe not returning to normal for another 16 months—11 months after the US.
Meanwhile, the third wave of the pandemic has started. I painfully have watched government officials in Sverige learn if something should work in theory, but does not work in practice, it does not work. The prime minister wagged his finger at people not following the recommendations. Officials repeated that existing restrictions would be sufficient if people would just follow them, gosh darn it. Sverige finally started “recommending” masks be worn on public transit at all times and in stores, but I estimate less than 25% of people are complying.
Arthur and I would like to visit family in the US in June/July. We have flights scheduled, but we don’t want to travel before being vaccinated. Who knows at this point…
We are awaiting approval of our permanent residency. I will write more about our 4 year Sveriversary later. For now, we are anxious, but fairly confident we will be permitted to stay another year and then apply for dual citizenship. What we thought might be a 2 or 3 year stay max has turned into a second home. I see more opportunity and a higher quality of life in Stockholm than San Francisco. I hope progressives can kickstart a new American dream because the US now seems second-rate, even with Trump gone. I also hope that I can achieve high school level Svenska proficiency within the next year. I have practiced Svenska with Babbel and Mondly every day in 2021 under duress of potentially being denied dual-citizenship if I cannot demonstrate proficiency.
- Google completing its acquisition of Fitbit inspired me to work on a Fitbit retrospective. I interviewed 20+ of my former colleagues in December and January. My hope is to release an hour long audio essay. The editing overwhelmed me, so I took some time away from it in February. I hope to release it before my next /now page update.
- I participated in a virtual hackathon in January. I made an app called Kiva Bingo that gamifies lending to all 76 countries, 15 sectors, and 163 activities Kiva.org facilitates crowdfunded microloans for. It did not win a prize even though it totally was more awesome and helpful to the world than most of the winners.
- We got a spin bike! Peloton does not sell bikes in Sverige, but the Keiser M3i is a much better bike and it has an iPad holder for using the Peloton app.
- I replaced the cabinet in our primary bathroom because I despise visual clutter. Arthur bought us a collapsible bath tub since we only have showers in our condo.
- I went to Fotografiska with Vivien. I enjoyed seeing the exhibits, but was still nervous to be around people in an enclosed space when most were not wearing masks. My illness anxiety has not weakened even after a year of this pandemic.
- King Rabbit (mobile game)
- Scythe (complicated but fun board game)
- Halt and Catch Fire (AMC), like Mad Men for the PC and Web revolutions
- Big Mouth (Netflix)
- History of Swear Words (Netflix)
- The Champions (Netflix)
- The Bachelorette: La Quinta Inn
- Below Deck (Bravo)
- American Idol
- House Hunters International (HGTV)
- Self-Made Mansions (HGTV)
- Star Trek: Discovery
- Arthur has binged Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine