October 21st, 2017
naye: the sky and mountains above lake geneva (mountain dawn)
posted by [personal profile] naye at 10:07pm on 21/10/2017 under , ,
The Last Day at work has come and gone. It was an experience of time stretching and jiggling and vanishing without warning.

Biking to work, I chose the longer path - the quieter one with much less traffic and more nature, and I pedaled and remembered and tried to memorized and then found myself slipping into a far more mundane mindset. Worrying about one more piece of bad news seen on Twitter. Thinking about the books I'd just finished. Flashes of annoyance at other cyclists and the not-quite-rain that slowly soaked my jeans and then vanished to leave me sweating in the rain gear I'd changed into under an awning.

In the office, I alternated between answering the kind of queries I've been dealing with for over four years now, and training my replacement, and tidying up my desk for the new PhD student who is starting on Monday.

I spent quite a while ripping out the wire spine of notebooks both big and small. All those to-do lists, all the meeting notes, all the bolded emergencies and quotidian scribbles that was the past fifty or so months all sunk into the maw of the confidential waste bin, down to the last page in my last notebook that had the day's tasks listed on it. The wires almost all went into the office bin, except one I sculpted into a scraggly heart and gave to my IT tech buddy who teared up back when I first told her I was leaving. (When I went up to turn my work pass cards in I saw it taped to the IT office door.)

There were the last of many thousand cups of tea and hundreds of lunches from the M&S and then the first of many hugs.

I wrote the traditional departmental farewell email, and teared up.

I cried hugging the postdoc who is one of the sweetest men I know, and then we laughed talking about his future puppy and my current cats.

I didn't cry hugging the director, but I was deeply moved that he took time out of a schedule I have tried squeezing meetings into often enough that I know how very full it is to see me and the young woman who is taking over my role in his office just to say goodbye to me and to welcome her. And yes, he did hug me, and I'm so glad I got the chance to thank him because I've always been grateful to work somewhere with such a positive and supportive culture. (My replacement was mildly astonished - she said on her last day, the director of her old department had popped in to ask her office a question and had blanked on her name...)

Somehow morning cycle and lunch and cleaning and hugs turned the day to evening and I was walking hand in hand to my wife to a pub - apprehensive and anxious because I am uncomfortable in pubs and dislike being the centre of attention - where she and I were both having our traditional goodbye drinks.

There were more familiar faces, including two professors and my manager and some of my favorite postdocs and it was a small but cheerful gathering at the end of the row of tables reserved by my wife's much bigger party and people kept wanting to buy me drinks and I forgot to be anxious as attention drifted away from myself and (half shouted - I still dislike pubs) conversations sprang up around the table and then there were hugs and farewells and the crowd thinned and somewhere along the line I got such an emotional series of hugs and parting words from my manager that I feared one of us would burst into more tears. I just didn't know which one of us it would be.

My manager... we've had a working relationship with ups and downs, from excellent teamwork to stormy misunderstandings, but I've always respected her for her sharp skills and professional dedication and done absolutely no socializing, but yesterday she hugged me with the kind of emotion I've only felt parting from my dearest friends.

Four hours passed in that dreamy way it does when strong emotions and drink mix, and I had some excellent conversations and some really boring conversations and really hit it off with one of my wife's favorite coworkers and then hunger (and pity for me) finally led my wife to take me home and I relaxed the control I'd been exerting over my seeming sobriety and sunk into giggly exhausted drunkenness that stretched into sleep and then nightmares and restlessness and left me kind of groggy with an emotional hangover and very real headache for the better part of the daylight hours today.

It only really cleared up with a walk outside carrying the cats in their carriers (we're getting them used to it for the move) and liberal applications of tea and Yuri on Ice (and then the Chihoko stage drama and some of the amazing FS programmes from the Rostelecom cup).

The suitcase is out.

Tomorrow I pack and leave.

Monday I'm back at work in Sweden.

Then more days and weeks and then that will be home, and it will be normal, and all of this will be a memory fading with time.
kjn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] kjn at 10:42am on 21/10/2017 under
Another quick new Swedish filk, but one that isn't only an instafilk. It's based on Främling (YouTube), the #1 Swedish hit during the 80's. The LP sold more than one million copies, and is still the best-selling album ever in Sweden. As comparison, for platinum a record needs to sell 40,000 copies here.

Alien, hur kommer du till mig… )
October 19th, 2017
naye: a photo of a yellow flower floating in a puddle with dead leaves (höstblomma)
posted by [personal profile] naye at 09:38pm on 19/10/2017 under ,
Tomorrow is my very last day at work in Cambridge. I started in August 2013, which makes this the longest I've ever been at the same job.

It's very strange.

I won't miss most of what I do, because - meh, it's just not very interesting, even though I do it well?

I will miss the people, though. Even though I'm not super close to anyone, there's so many people there I like.

And it will be extremely odd to not be doing this job anymore. To look ahead and realize it won't be until January 2022 I will have been at my Swedish library job as long as I was at my random UK admin job.

Time is weird. Change is hard. Stress is happening, but also anticipation - and to be fair, immense relief to be rid of a lot of aspects of the role that had been grating on me.

Makes it hard to know what I'm feeling, exactly.

So I watch Yuri on Ice with [personal profile] doctorskuld and tear up at all of Yuri's Free Skates and also when sweet things are said and done and it feels so close to my heart and also like I first watched it an eternity ago...
October 18th, 2017
naye: robin from one piece reading, with the words "book love" (book love)
posted by [personal profile] naye at 09:11pm on 18/10/2017 under
This week of farewells (and teaching my replacement as much as I can cram in without making her head explode) is... exhausting. Good, because I feel appreciated and missed, but also it's weird to have what have been my everyday interactions tinged with so many emotions now.

Phew.

Books have been a blessed distraction from all the things these past couple of weeks, and since my last post I've finished...

Maelstrom (Whyborne & Griffin, #7) by Jordan L Hawk
Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin, #8) by Jordan L Hawk
Undertow (Whyborne & Griffin, #8.5) by Jordan L Hawk
Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffin, #9) by Jordan L Hawk

These are all so perfect I can't even. They hit right in the feels, every single time, and I'm such a sucker for the ongoing themes of found family (which grows as the series goes along!), adorable husbands, and copious amounts of h/c and assorted peril. I have so many favorite things about this whole series, but one of them was the incredibly sweet and different f/f romance that develops in Undertow.

Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant, #3) by Ben Aaronovitch
Broken Homes (Peter Grant, #4) by Ben Aaronovitch

My re-read by way of listening to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrate the Peter Grant books continue, and continues to be hugely enjoyable. After five years here I understand that dialects are a thing and I can make a rough sort of distinction between North and South; between posh and working class; between England and Scotland and Wales - but I can never "hear" them properly when I read the books myself. With Holdbrook-Smith's narration it's all right there and it really enriches the experience of the story. Plus I do love the forays into tube tunnels, sewers and brutalist architecture we get in these two books. (Also the plot does the thing which I can never brace for and always hits really hard.)

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
Remnant: A Caldwell & Feximal/Whyborne & Griffin Mystery
by KJ Charles and Jordan L Hawke

Yes so I got to the Simon Feximal book because I wanted to read the crossover with Whyborne & Griffin (of course I did) and then I was rather happily swept up in the characters and their paranormal Victorian adventures and romance - so different from the sweet Whyborne & Griffin one, but nevertheless hugely charming and absorbing. And the crossover did NOT disappoint! I may in fact have made a few dolphin noises reading it...

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities, #1) by KJ Charles
An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2) by KJ Charles
An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the Cities, #3) by KJ Charles

And having been so enthralled by KJ Charles' writing I had to go seek out some more, and I was so pleased to find this series! It's one plot told over three books featuring an overlapping set of characters in Victorian London. Each has two main POVs - the characters who (spoiler?) - get together in the course of the book - so these are different in each. It's a really neat device that works a treat here.

I was incredibly charmed by the POV characters, many of whom are struggling with how the world sees them; how what makes them who they are is something that their society or family just won't (or don't want to) accept. It was quite wonderful to see aspects of my own relationship in all of these - but particularly #1 and #3 has things (such as a non-binary character with a pansexual eventual partner) that really, really resonates with me. And that I don't think I'd come across in fiction before!

I'm currently reading...
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5) by Ben Aaronovitch

As for what I'm reading next - honestly, probably a lot more KJ Charles and similar, because they are sweet and comforting and I need all the sweetness and comfort I can get as I spend over a month separated from the love of my own life.
October 17th, 2017
kjn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] kjn at 08:29pm on 17/10/2017 under
I've been bad about posting my filks here lately, most have been put on Facebook, if that, but this one deserves a more permanent place. NASA recently discovered the asteroid 2016 HO3 that is in a stable loop around the earth for a couple of centuries. In effect, a second tiny moon, though NASA calls it a quasi-satellite. It's not even a hundred meters in size.

It's to the tune of Ted and Kenneth Gärdestad's song Jag vill ha en egen måne ("I want a moon of my own", YouTube), that I have filked once before, as Det där är då ingen måne.

Du har då alltid trott att Jorden )
October 16th, 2017
naye: gif of creepy road in the dark (dark road)
posted by [personal profile] naye at 10:44pm on 16/10/2017 under ,
We didn't feel very much of Storm Ophelia over here - it's so often gusty it was like any other cranky October day, wind-wise. But we did get the strange clouds; the light breaking as if through panes of amber.

I can't recall seeing anything like it before - not even when in literal Gobi dust clouds in Japan. My phone camera tried to "fix" the white balance, but I argued with it, and we came to a compromise that captures some of that strange jaundiced atmosphere:

2017-10-16_10-43-58

If it wasn't bedtime, I think I would do some research to find out what this phenomena is called and why it happens...
October 15th, 2017
naye: (new beginnings)
I'm back from my first week at my new job in Sweden. Tomorrow I'm going to start my last week at my old job inducing my successor. And technically I came back Friday night but yesterday I was so exhausted I did very little except cuddle my wife, cuddle my cats, eat food and rewatch sweet, comforting Yuri on Ice.

In short - it was overwhelming, but good? Stressful, but not more than I could handle. A random mix of happy fizzy feelings and vague dread that I wouldn't be good enough. Mostly the happy fizz, but also spikes of anxiety with highlights such as OH NO I BROKE MY AIRBNB HOST'S SHELF and OH NO I SET OFF THE ALARM AND I'M THE ONLY ONE IN THE BUILDING.

And more low-level anxiety such as having 1-on-1 introduction meetings scheduled for an hour with each and every one of my 20 or so colleagues. I'm still not done with those, obviously, but it's a lot to take in. Fun, in many cases, but also intensely social and I am good at that sort of thing (at least in these circumstances with clear parameters - find out more about what everyone does; engage in small talk if it arises naturally) but also easily exhausted by too much extroversion.

I can't even do a "week in brief" thing because there was nothing brief about my week. But I can write some of it up with pictures, because - pictures!

That's what's below the cut )

But those are just the mishaps and fun after-work adventures I've been having. There was an enormous amount of work-related things happening, which were fun and exciting and informative but would take far too much explaining to be interesting to anyone not already familiar with the particulars of Swedish academic libraries.

In brief, it was really weird to be back in Sweden, but in a wonderful way. I've never missed Sweden much, but the longer I've been away from things I used to take for granted, the more magical they seem. Like: all education in Sweden - including at university - is free for all citizens. FREE EDUCATION. Totally free. Wow. So universities aren't paid for by students or alumni - though they do accept donations! - but by the government. Which makes them government ministries, just like the Migration Agency or the military. (Which, by the way, receives less government funding than universities do in Sweden!)

Also: Unions are a thing! And they're useful and people take them seriously!

And people speak Swedish! Which is something I've done very little of this past decade, but being back in a Swedish-speaking environment listening to all of the dialects I hadn't heard for so long was like hearing a familiar but forgotten melody, all nostalgic and sweet. So strange, this thing with languages and nations and what makes a place a home...

Anyway! There was a lot more to the week, but instead of going on and on about it I'll post some more of those pictures I promised:

Street art and office comparisons )
October 8th, 2017
naye: (new beginnings)
Spent yesterday huddling inside nursing a mild cold while rain lashed the windows. Skuld, amazing partner that she is, cooked one of my favorite dishes for dinner (chaliapin steak don from Food Wars), gave me lots of snuggles, and watched many episodes of The Good Place with me.

I tried putting off packing, as if that would somehow change the inevitable departure today, but in the end Skuld not only cheerleaded me into that, but also applied her amazing YouTube-trained skills in space-saving packing. (Which is basically magic! I had an overflowing pile in my suitcase, and she folded it into a bundle that left plenty of space over around it for other items...)

But yes today is Inevitable Departure Day. My cold is even milder than yesterday, and the sun has been shining enough that I turned the jaunt to the station to pick up train tickets in advance into a short run... which left me more exhausted than usual. So maybe it was wise to stay inside yesterday even before the rain bore down.

I'm starting my new job tomorrow. Tomorrow. At 8.30am I am meeting my new boss for the first time in person. NEW BOSS. NEW JOB. NEW COLLEAGUES. NEW TOWN. Not quite new flat yet because I have to stay in two consecutive AirBnBs before I can start moving in to our flat, but there's a LOT of new stuff happening and I am excited and terrified (so many new people) and also really sad because I hate being separated from my wife. Even if it's just for five days now, it's going to be forty days next time. And that's just too long. I know because we were long distance for a couple of years, and I remember how much I missed her every single day. And now I'll have the cats to miss, too.

But hey. Library job! And Skuld has a new job lined up, and her immigration paperwork is all approved, and once November is over everything will be great. Stressful and dark, but we will be together, and we will have a new flat, and the cats will come with us to start this new life.

So all I have to do is hang in there and not get overwhelmed by a week full of one-on-one induction meetings, recharge during my ten days back in Cambridge, and then grit my teeth and power through the end of October and November.

It's going to be okay.

It's going to be fantastic.

I might cry a lot first, but I think it will be worth it.

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