2017 Year in Review

 

Greetings friends, family, strangers, or the curious. I haven’t done a year in review since 2013 and I figured maybe it’s a good idea for anyone who has no idea what I’ve been up to.

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When you give your voice

This Christmas season I have decided to do something a bit different and out of the ordinary. I haven’t really had many Christmas plans over the last few years. I’ve been living abroad for the better part of the last 6 years, and that can often times be a very lonely feeling.

I haven’t been so successful with my social life since moving to Sweden, and as the days counted down closer to the Christmas holiday, I was left wondering what I should do. Faced with the options of being home alone, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea for me. And so I decided to give.

The only thing, apart from my usual donations during the holiday season, that I could think to donate is my time and my voice. Thus I committed to volunteering to sing for my choir’s Christmas events. This involved an afternoon mass, a midnight mass, and then Christmas Day mass. It was a lot of a singing, and a lot of time. I even had to stay in a hotel from the 24th to the 25th since trains didn’t run with enough time for me to go back and forth to home.

I guess it’s good to provide to others and help others enjoy or celebrate an important event, but I couldn’t help feeling very selfish and lonely during the time. I basically didn’t interact with anyone, did my singing, and then went back to my hotel after a bit of a long walk.

I felt like it was important for me to give, because otherwise I would be doing nothing. But I was faced with a strange situation: first of all I’m not really all that religious and the amount of times I sing in a choir in the last year greatly outweighs the amounts of times that I’ve actually been to a church in my entire life. But what is so striking is when the head priest at the cathedral where I sing, said to me “Weren’t you here all day yesterday too?” and my response was “Yes” she looked at me with a bit of a perplexed look on her face, as if to suggest that I should be somewhere else.

I’m not sure if it was thanks, confusion, or pity but it was certainly something and it made me think. In any event, I’m happy that I did something and being a stranger among strangers is a very strange experience. But thank you to Västerås Domkyrka for allowing me to be apart of its community and to donate my time towards a greater cause.

In summary, it certainly is a theme to my life of late; but the question remains “Where should I be?”

I met a celebrity, Oscar Zia

Despite the fact that my friends don’t appreciate this fact, or particularly know who the celebrity is, I’m still proud to announce that I met a celebrity.

I was on a party cruise, Viking Line’s Cinderella to Mariehamn, and to my surprise a musical artist and dancer that I’ve seen on TV and Melodifestivalen was the featured artist. I naturally got excited at this surprise and I of course made a point to be there before, during and after the performance.

His name is Oscar Zia and he is well known in Sweden, but not by foreigners. He sang with a neat cover band, and after his performance he appeared on the dance floor with a few friends.

My colleague and friend Elin saw this, and based upon the fact that I earlier said that he’s so cute, thought it was incumbent upon her to insist that I kiss him. Of course that was a crazy idea, being a stranger and all, and more importantly a celebrity (knowing how much crazy attention celebrities sometimes get). I rejected her idea. She persisted.

The next thing I knew, she grabbed me by the arm. Suddenly I realised that she also grabbed his arm and turned him around and then suddenly pushed us both together. Face-to-face with a twenty-year old extremely attractive celebrity, I stood completely still and in the balance held the pregnant awkwardness. I said hello, and she screamed for us to take a photo.

To give you a sense of how hot this guy is, here is a photo.

Vilka är ”alla andra artister” som ska gå på denna toalett???

A post shared by oscarzia (@oscarzia) on

And so we took a photo of us together, and I said thank you and moved on, embarrassed and shocked. Elin persisted and still thought I should kiss him, I laughed at her and said that she’s crazy.

And for the next 45 minutes or so (at least it felt like a long time), Oscar and his posse danced basically right next to me and the girls. My crazy dance moves seemed not to deter him or his group, and I was having difficulty believing that I was so close.

Elin persisted and kept telling me that I was sneaking peeks, and admittedly I did. I mean the guy is a 10, and I felt embarrassed. She seemed to be convinced that he was looking back, but I’m skeptical. Crazy dancing continued, and honestly I was most surprised that he didn’t run away like most people do when I’m dancing around them.

You may think, “What the hell is with this guy” or “What’s wrong with him”? Nothing, I just dance really expressively like it’s my last opportunity. It’s a bit intense, I suppose, much like me.

And so, upon reflecting on the evening who know’s what happened, or is going to happen. Maybe he was flirting with me and I didn’t realise it, maybe he thinks I’m a creepy fan (but I don’t think fan is the right word), maybe he thought I was flirting with him without me knowing, so many questions and only time will tell.

Or maybe it won’t…

Private vs. Professional Life

As a teacher, there is an interesting internal debate concerning ones private and professional life. During teacher training, it’s drilled into your head that you must separate them, and if you want to go “out” or “party” you are advised to do it at least two towns away. Interesting perspective.

This is partly due to the fact that teachers are supposed to be moral upstanding citizens that model proper behaviour in society. A responsibility that is both lofty but also difficult to manage in an increasingly more digital world.

Normally this is not a concern for me, but I was affronted today by a lecture from our principal regarding what is appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviour in the town in which we live. Apparently this was prompted by some poor behaviour of a few, and it ends up affecting 150 staff members that have nothing to do with it, but it brings me a moment of reflection. Is my public behaviour appropriate or could it be perceived as inappropriate?

Short answer is of course it’s appropriate. I tend not to be very loud, I don’t often drink, but I do like to go dancing on a regular basis. So if this is not a problem, why do I take enough of this time to write and reflect. Good question; the answer lies deeper in the perception of management and how it relates.

Simply put, I live a pretty lonely existence. I work, I socialise with colleagues, and since one of only two people I know outside of work moved away recently, I find my social life to be even more hermit like than usual. At work we are preached at to not stay late and go to home, and I beg the question: “Go home to what?” Personally I work better at work, and my home is more of a relax and sleep place. I find it difficult to work at home and so naturally I stay later if I need to get work done. This is frowned upon.

So then I go home earlier, to sit alone at home. Why alone? Well because basically a staff of 150 is being told to limit their social life in public. So it leaves me in a bit of a pickle. In this town where I live it feels nearly impossible to meet new people outside of teaching, or develop a social life if you’re not out in public. I can’t go to a coffee shop without being spotted by either a student or a relative of a student.

How do I thus continue to live in the same city in which I work without having any family, basically no friends, and now a more limited social life at work? I already travel two times weekly to a city 60km away to participate in a choir, which is a social life in its own right, but it being religious and me not living there makes it tough to form real connections.

And thus my employer puts me in what feels like an impossible situation. Stay in and be lonely, and then be chastised when the consequence of that decision is a result of the request.

When you Dance Alone

I was recently reminded of a message I learned back in 2011 thanks to the group Love Generation. The irony of this name is not failed upon me, as much like it seems to happen, love dies. However, Love Generation was apparently resurrected as the newly named Stockholm Syndrome. Sadly, I haven’t heard much from them since.

But that is beyond the point; the message of this blog post is more about “When you Dance Alone.” I’m often reminded of a famous quote that resonates with many people:

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”
~ Satchel Paige

Normally I don’t quote sports stars, but this baseball player was interestingly on to something. In a time before a large or grandeur idea of self-acceptance or individualism, his words are a juxtaposition that addresses the fundamental need for doing things despite not having or needing something.

When we dance alone, we become ourselves and (presumably) we don’t need others to help us. And while normally I would go “all in” with the lyrics, Dance Alone by Love Generation veers a bit off from that, soliciting the help of their girls to help them through the loneliness:

“I’ll dance alone, keep the music playin on on and on
I’ll dance alone, I can do it on my own yeah yeah yeah
I don’t need you tonight got the girls on my side [cause I’m up for the fight]
And now we [I’m] having the time of my life
So (wow?) keep the music playin’ on
I’ll dance alone”
As you can see I took some liberties to rewrite the lyrics to fit the situation. Before I ramble some more, enjoy the song…

So why am I writing about dancing alone? Most people would agree that going out dancing by yourself is a waste of time, and it’s not as fun. Some friends might think that’s okay when you’re looking to hookup, but if it’s anyone that I know knows that it’s not for me. I was out with friends, and I guess they don’t like the music so they go and get drinks, smoke a cigarette, or other.

Thus I often find myself dancing alone, and the looks you get are insane. People think you are the weirdest thing and stare you down. When I’m in the dancing mood, it’s all wet hair don’t care attitude. I stare them down and shake my booty just like the Love Generation girls.

Why you such a hater? Just dance, even if you’re the most alone person on the entire planet like me.

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