Since my last update in April
Spring flew by and summer arrived. We started grilling dinner by the water and waving at boats. The glorious expansion of daylight peaked at 18.5 hours on Midsommar faster than it ever felt before. Weeks blurred together due to vaccines failing to end the COVID-19 monotony and our jobs requiring increased focus. Arthur ramped up on his new job as a VP of Product at Kry and I adjusted to a reorganization at Stripe. We still squeezed in lots of laughs with friends.
I am less worried now about WW3 than in my last update. Sverige and Suomi applied jointly to NATO. Putin backed down from his threats of retaliation for doing so. I still hope for Ukraïna’s border to be restored and for peace soon.
Note: This post used the native names for locations. I don’t refer my friend Sally as both Jesse and Rafaela depending on the language I’m speaking. I call her by her name. It’s anti-imperialistic and not difficult. Wikipedia lists the native name for a location.
My biggest news is that I am now married to a Swedish citizen! Migrationsverket approved Arthur’s citizenship application in an astonishingly fast 3 months and 1 week. The citizenship application queue is a blackbox. We have first degree connections to fellow immigrants whose applications took everywhere from 3 months to over 3 years. Many Swedish immigrants have attempted unsuccessfully to find a correlation of conditions to explain the disparity.
I moved to Stockholm 2 months after Arthur and therefore applied for citizenship 2 months after him. No fast track story for me. The only thing I know is that I have not been assigned a case worker and that there are 89,849 people awaiting a decision.
I have a legal right to a request a decision after 6 months. This is a gamble: Migrationsverket can reject my application immediately if there is any minor detail missing or incorrect in my application. I would then contest the decision with lawyers and/or reapply. The longer this takes, the more likely Sverige will introduce more strict citizenship requirements that would apply to any non-citizen, regardless if they are already in the process.
If I were to be denied and reapply, I would be able to claim marriage to a Swede as another justification for citizenship. This may not help. From our sample size of 3 people who applied for citizenship through marriage, 100% of them waited over 3 years. Also, a university-level language requirement could still be required. A ring around your finger doesn’t mean much to the immigrant-hating far right and the weak needing-something-to-compromise-on left majority.
I cannot proceed with my legal name change and next entrepreneurship adventure until I have dual citizenship. My life feels on hold and I hate this helpless waiting.
Socializing during the panna cotta
Stockholm’s coronavirus-in-poo data (the only official data available now) showed a stable, moderate level of infections since April. Given the stalemate of the current vaccines versus the newer variants, we decided to take calculated risks and accept the inevitability of getting caught.
It felt wonderful to start having some social life again. We had dinners with our new friends Brad & Mikael, visiting former Spotify colleagues Abby, Chris, and Cilla, and SF friend Brandon with his awesome aunt and cousin. We checked out the latest exhibits at Fotografiska with Vivien. We attended our friend Johan’s stunning boylesque performance. We hosted a small Eurovision finale party and delighted in Ukraïna’s win. We went on a taco, shrimp, and soul band archipelago cruise with Wes & Chase at Arthur’s instigation. We also enjoyed a tiki cocktail night at their place with their visiting friend Dustin. I went to 2 Sthlm.js meetups for the first time since the pandemic.
Our friend John from Puerto Rico visited in April. We had so many guests the first 2 years living in Stockholm. It was nice to have one again. We went to the Affordable Art Fair and Millesgården, ogled the Kungsträdgården cherry blossoms, and caught up while eating his amazing pizza, pasta, and bread.
Ever since Arthur got his Swedish driver’s license, he has wanted to do a road trip. Ascension Day (when Swedes honor an ancient alien abduction of a royal family member or something) presented us a 4-day weekend in May. Arthur found a quintessential Swedish summer home with a hot tub on Airbnb. Turned out, it was just down the road from our friend Karin’s family summer home. We carpooled and she introduced us to her ancestral forest. Oh, and we bought a big ass cactus on the way home.
The biggest holiday in Sverige, of course, is Midsommar. Karin graciously hosted us for the third year in a row at her incredible pier condo. We went wildflower picking in the morning. The weather was perfect, the most perfect in 5 years. Wes, Vendela, Arthur, and I jumped into the frigid archipelago water for a brief swim. We warmed back up on the dock and let the endorphin rush push us back into the water a few more times while Karin and Malte cheered us on. We ate and drank until we walked home on a sunlit midnight.
Blessed be the fruit
Arthur and I traveled to Texas for our annual July 4th family trip. Almost precisely 72 hours after landing, covid caught Arthur. We wore masks while traveling except while eating. So much for the claims about how effective airplane ventilation is…
Everyone isolated and tested daily. We did not get to go to the July 4th symphony in the park or host the big family bbq we had hoped for. Arthur’s parents and I enjoyed a horizon filled with distant fireworks spanning the shore of Lake Worth from their dock while he slept. It was nice and quiet in its own way. Perhaps it was also the more appropriate honoring of the US this year. Given the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade with an explicit statement that same-sex marriage, legal butt sex, and contraception access are likely to be overturned next, no one felt like celebrating
Gilead the USA. We just wanted to be together and we still got to do that, just 2 meters apart, outdoors, and masked. Also, I went paddleboarding for the first time.
Thankfully, Arthur’s symptoms were more like allergies than a flu. Miraculously, no one else in the family got it. Given the extensive close contact with our not-yet-vaccinated niblings (they just became eligible), Arthur likely detected the infection before becoming infectious. Lucky us. So many of our vaccinated and boosted friends have had intense and prolonged first or second infections in the last few months. I hope the updated vaccine boosters this fall are effective at preventing infection, which is the standard we should hold a vaccine to in terms of efficacy. (Remember when post-vaccination infections were unexpected and called “breakthrough cases”?) I just want to return to Barry’s workouts, dammit!
The science says every reinfection causes additive damage, increased risk of long covid, and an opportunity for being patient-0 of a new mutation. Covid is not going away or getting weaker. Infection and hospitalization rates are increasing in many places right now. It’s disappointing to me that governments are not reimplementing requirements for distancing, indoor masking, vaccination pass checks, and testing before traveling.
Even if an updated covid vaccine is effective and available this fall, Monkeypox now has me fearful of touching the wrong person or surface in a crowded space. I hope the EU approves that vaccine soon and can procure it. Fuckin’ hell…
- I am trying to fill in my beard using microneedling. It will take at least 3 more months to see progress, so pardon the patches.
- I started Invisalign. I postponed doing this for 7 years after I first desired to do it. My teeth alignment got worse over that time. When I finally decided it was safe enough in the pandemic, I scheduled my first dental checkup in 5 years. No cavities and no complaints about my gum health, which I think is the closest thing you can get to a compliment from a dentist. So far, Invisalign has been expensive and a month of continuous mouth pain with no visible sign of improvement. I hope for a different update in 4 months.
- With my friend Malte’s encouragement, I am attempting to grow okra this summer. I bought big indoor planters and grow lights. This is my first attempt at growing vegetables.
- We started planning a remodel of our condo with the incredible architect who led our previous condo’s kitchen remodel. We hope to start construction in spring 2023.
- Arthur and I continued taking long walks on the weekends. Karin introduced us to Nyckelvikens Naturreservat, a beautiful park on Nacka.
- I helped plan Stripe's Pride Month activities and co-hosted a virtual bake-off. I am more of a savory person, so I baked rainbow bagels. They turned out well!
- My childhood library gained national attention when Christian asswipes checked out all the LGBTQ+ books in protest to prevent their circulation, so I donated more queer-themed books.
- The SAS pilot strike made for a stressful return from Texas and work trip to San Francisco, but I discovered Finnair is worthy of my loyalty should SAS go out of business.
- Roar into the Second Half of Your Life by Michael Clinton. This book contained nothing groundbreaking, but hearing stories of other people making choices I want to make for myself was helpful.
- Pray Away (Netflix). My fear of being sent to conversion therapy was a primary reason I did not come out until college. This documentary details the origin, fall, and harm of Exodus International.
- Mormon No More (Hulu). Beautiful exploration of queers escaping religion and learning to love themselves. Many parallels to my own escape from Protestantism.
- Coming Out Colton (Netflix). This miniseries received much speculative criticism when it was released in the winter, primarily due to Colton’s immense privilege (cisgender, white, rich, famous, gorgeous) and alleged stalking behavior of his ex-girlfriend. Many queer people do regrettable things in the process of coming out. Needing to come out in a heteronormative society does not excuse such behavior, but people deserve grace if they own their failures completely and try to make amends. Independent of his association with The Bachelor, it’s an interesting coming out story guided by many other queer people and their experiences. Also, Fran Drescher!
- Love, Victor (Hulu). Fun final season of the gay coming-of-age story.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (CBS) continues to be the Star Trek I actually want.
- Stranger Things season 4 (Netflix) wrapped up the story so perfectly that I thought it was the series finale until the last 10 minutes. Also, it had nice Emerson College cameo.
- Leave No Trace (Hulu). Documentary on how The Boy Scouts of America hid the abuse of 82,000+ children for over a hundred years.
- Taylor Tomlinson’s Quarter-Life Crisis comedy special (Netflix)
- Amy Schumer’s Parental Advisory comedy special (Netflix)
- The Circle US (Netflix). Season 4 of this game show was epic.
- Arthur and I continue to work thru Golden Girls at lunch, but he has been working more onsite than from home recently