Long, black tights

My body smiled when I woke up this morning. I ate a million pounds of crayfish yesterday, tasty small creatures. I am so grateful for good friends that invite us every year and I am always the last one eating. Absolutely amazing tasty little red things. And the singing was extraordinary yesterday thanks to the gentlemen around me.

I started this morning by baking cinnamon buns, writing a blog post about visiting a gym in Sweden but realized after a full page that I was probably the only one seeing the fun in it since I was the only one there to see the disaster of ink covered arms and mirror selfies. I will include a part of it anyway and probably make a few enemies on the way.

I just finished a book that made me think and rethink my core values and my belief in democracy. As you know I am born and raised Scandinavian. We have a sometimes naïve way of looking at the world, we believe in a world that only exists every now and then. And many of us have an attitude that nothing happens in our safe society and it proves to be wrong over and over again. It took me a few years in a new country to realize that we are unsuspecting. I know I have changed a bit the last few years. I read Åsne Seierstads En av oss/One of Us, a book about the massacre in Norway. I don’t know if I should recommend it or not, it made me feel sick and sad. And of course angry. I am meeting with my book club ladies next week and this is our first book of fall. Heck of a way to start out a new season.

This summer I spent a little more than a month in my hometown and a lot have changed since we moved. There are new houses all around Uppsala and the city really transformed. It is still a beautiful place and will always have a special place in our hearts.

During the summer the only form of proper exercise I usually try to keep up is running and some homemade strength with bands. This year Caroline and I joined a gym with a climbing wall. I needed to workout but had big issues with my body after Alaska but some easy gym time was perfect. Caroline needed to keep climbing over the summer so it worked out really well for both of us. The gym we decided to join is only a few years old, really nice and at a great location. This time of year Uppsala gets completely empty. All 25,000 students leave town and the rest seem to hide in their country houses. But we had the opportunity to meet a lot of people at the gym. This was actually the most interesting part of our trip. I felt like an alien and started to really evaluate my own behavior and “Swedishness”. Is the world changing and me too or did I actually stagnate in my development as human being?

I picked up a few things that I have to change to blend in for next time:

Clothes: Women my age wear long, black tights and a basic tank, always. Well that can’t be too difficult to change, only problem is that it’s summer and too warm to wear long tights. Younger women, transparent tights in a size too small and very tight fitting tops. Pink shoes. Guys, tank tops in thick cotton with big letters and pictures. I am sure I can find some old ones in my parents basement that would fit right in that I wore in 1982. Budweiser or MTV logos, preferably.

Footwear: Nike Air Max or just socks. Geezzz people. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you lift or run. Air Max with huge soles is apparently the way to look cool. Or even worse, socks, just socks. A lot of peeps lifted wearing only socks? 250lbs on your back and it feels so…safe?

Body: Ink, all over. You need a lot of tattoos to blend in. And make sure you flex a lot when you have people around you.

Hair and makeup: Needs to be done and make sure you look really cute. And if you are 30+ some botox around your lips will make you look like you are going to fall forward. If you are a man over 27 you should grow a beard and make sure you scratch it every three minutes.

Mirrors: Make sure you work out facing the mirrors. You really want to check yourself out and by all means, don’t forget to take pictures of yourself at every angle. And lips, pout!

First day at the gym. People notice there is a new person there but doesn’t think much of it. She looks a bit old and she is not wearing long, black tights. I walk around a little, try to find a foam roller, warm up on the treadmill for 15 min, locate the barbells but decide to hang out around the kettlebells and I found a 14 lbs medball. I get a good workout in, staying in my corner. Some serious people watching going on.

Day 2, same people. She is here again? Who the heck is she? I warm up and start talking to people around me. Is she a bit crazy? A couple of guys start to walk over to my corner to chat. I can’t remember the Swedish word for barbell and there are a few other words that my brain can’t remember. I am afraid I sound like Dolph Lundgren. I start to clean up, there are weights and other things all over the place. There’s a group of young men hanging around and they more or less lean on the barbells and talk. I haven’t really seen anyone lift so I ask if I can use the space. No, they are following their program and need the barbells. I can’t help it but it just slips out, “when I have a rest day I usually don’t take up space at the gym”. Let’s just say that I am happy to be home. If I move back I have a lot of work to do, get new clothes, botox and some interesting tattoos.

One more day to go before school starts and the depression fills the house like a bad smell. How will we survive another year of homework, tests and multiple choice questions? Not sure. The Swedish melancholy spreads like poison in your veins and I will try to cure it with a very sad song.


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