Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Birthday SAMSON!

For those of you who didn't know: Today is Sam's birthday... my old man is getting older and older!!!  I am very lucky to have this old man in my life and I am sad I can't be in the North Carolina mountains with him to celebrate but I thought I could do the next best thing... send him a card, send him an e-card, sing happy birthday on video chat and write him a nice blog post.  

Sam and I have been together for nearly 4 years now! I cannot believe that time has flown by so quickly and that we are still very much together even if we are separated by (according to google earth) ##### miles.  We are both happily following our dreams... sadly in different places, but happily supporting one another.  Sure, it was hard to come to terms with the idea of being separated for so long and we argued, we yelled but in the end we gave each other a very big hug and went out separate ways (physically only - we are still together emotionally or romantically, however is best to say it).  These two weeks have been really hard for both of us... moving to new places, experiencing new things and not having our rock to lean on.

I am not a very physical person, I don't hug people much, I don't touch people unless I know them well and I don't often feel the need to be comforted by physical contact... until now... when I can't have it! I miss being near to someone who would reach out and put his hand my knee without thinking, who would demand hugs fairly often and would sometimes just sit next to me as I coped with a bad day.  I didn't realize how much I would miss these things since I had never really enjoyed them before Sam.  Don't get me wrong I hug my best friends, I cuddle my animals, and hug and kiss my family... but not as often as most I suppose.  It is hard to explain without sounding weird I think...  Soooooo anyway....

Sam met me at SBC when I looked like this (cast girl = hotnessl):
We have a lot memories together and here is one that has been with us for a few years, The Love Bean:
It grew into a HUGE vine that took over my office but finally died this past 4th of July weekend... It had a long life of about 3 years!
I think this is our first anniversary... we went to his uncle's Roost (hunting cabin) and Airey (mountain top home) and ate lots of good food and relaxed in the autumn air.
This is at the Natural Bridge in Virginia when we went with my best friends Val and Jenny.
A classic late night party with Sam and his buddies.
Sam loves goats and here he is feeding some at the fair this past summer.
I made him ride those sweet swings in the background at the fair.  He is not one for heights but he did anyway and I think enjoyed it a little.
This is us at Stayton Falls in Amherst County this summer, between rain storms... Virginia is for Summers!
This is taken on the top of Grandmother Peak right next to Grandfather Mountain just before I left for Sweden.
This one is really Sam to me, it came up on my phone every time I got a text message or a phone call... 


PS: for those of you not interested in the lovey-dovey:
Today went really well in the hot shop and the cold shop! I made some really good tumblers and bowls, didn't hurt myself. And, I learned how to do deep cutting and flower cutting in the cold shop! Hooray!  I will show you some pictures tomorrow!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Flora, Fauna & Fail...

Don't worry my friends it all turns out OK in the end like most fairy tales do! And, there isn't really any fauna... unless you count people... I haven't seen any wildlife here, it is super sad.  I really want to see a moose and hedgehog!  Look how awesome and adorable they are 
(the internet pics count for the fauna I have decided):


So, this morning it was back to the factory hot shop for me.  It was going HORRIBLY for some reason.  I guess we all have those days when nothing goes right, but this was one of those days cracked out on Meth or something.  I couldn't make a bubble, I couldn't turn the pipe in the right direction, I just sucked.  Well I guess the magnitude of what I have done came crashing down on me b/c all of a sudden I had those thoughts "why am I doing this?!?!? I suck at glass, I can't do anything! Have I made the wrong decision??? Why did I think it was a good idea to move to a foreign country to learn to do something I clearly suck at?!?!?"  So, it was very embarrassing but I had to go hide in the bathroom for a while to regain composure and not cry all over my blow pipe... BUT, I pulled myself together and was able to go back out there and start again with the little things, the simple things, and was finally able to make an effing bubble by lunch time! Ha! So there you stupid glass!!!  Also, over the course of the morning I cut myself 3 times on the same finger trying to knock crap glass off the crap blow pipe and huge chunks of HOT glass flew up and swiped my index finger.  And of course it bled like I had been mauled by a vampire... so that just added to the annoyance and failure.  After lunch it was back to the hot shop and I was determined to make a few tumblers that were keep-able and not utter crap.  My teacher, Orca (that can't be how to spell it but that is kinda how you say it, or maybe Årca), seemed to sense either that I was on the brink of going to the looney bin or really determined b/c he came and helped me a lot.  It is amazing how once he told me to change one thing I couldn't do anything else correctly.  He taught me how the Swedes use the marver and spin their hands in this really crazy way (will have to practice that technique A TON).  He taught me that there is a certain way to turn the glass in a mold and on the marver... which was really hard to remember.  I got really good at turning it the wrong way... so finally he drew me some directions:

Can you see the little arrow on the edge of the marver?

He said that you have turn it that way just like you have to pet your cat one way and if you go against the grain they will hiss at you and that isn't good... "same with glass" he says.  Who knew?! Not me!

So after a morning of feeling like a complete failure at life and glass it all came together in the afternoon and I was able to marver, blow bubbles on center and even make a few tumblers! Here is a pic of one that kind of sucks, but it is better then most so I kept it. 

Before you put it in the annealer (cooling oven) you mark your initials on it with some chalk so you know which one is yours!  Tomorrow I will be able to look at some that I made and feel good about myself from the very start of the day! Hooray! I happy to announce that the day got much better as it has progressed!  (this is the happy ending part to the fail)

Then I talked to Sam, which is always nice and uplifting.  It is hard though b/c I could have really used a hug today... he was so close, if only I could have gone through the computer for a hug!  He was also very supportive and told me that I don't suck at life or glass and he is proud of me and my decision.  Oh well, I guess distance it hard for every couple! "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzche

Then, since I have so much free time I went for a jog/walk and took some pictures of some flowers (I felt like I was in that movie Yes Man)... most are from people's gardens but some are wild... (this is the flora part).  I have no idea what they are called but they are pretty and make me happy:





These are wild blueberries and some rose hips:

I ate some of the blueberries about an hour ago while walking and Rosanne just walked in and was like "what is wrong with your mouth?!?!? Did you eat some blue candy?!?!?"  Apparently the blueberries stained my teeth and lips:
Man, that is hot! Maybe that is why all the Swedes that said "hej" to me on the street looked at me really oddly when I smiled and said "hey!" back... maybe... 

Well, all this activity and ups and downs have left this blue toothed Swedish Princess STARVING so I am going to go eat some dinner... probably sandwiches... not very royal...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Yenni!

Last night, Saturday, we celebrated a birthday here in Orrefors;  Yenni (her name is really Jenni but we say it with a Y so that is how I am going to write it) turns 30 tomorrow or some day soon and she threw a party upstairs in the boys apartment.  She lives upstairs with Rosanne but their apartment is pretty small and they are both neat freaks and hate germs so it was better to have it in the boy's.

Since the Fins like whiskey this is what I brought to the party:
But, they also had sangria, ciders, more spirits (liquor) and a ton of beer.  The party was pretty small since a lot of the Swedish students went home for their weekend but it was still maybe 15 of us all together, so def enough people.  Rosanne is picture crazy so she took a tons of pics which are probably on facebook if you have that, but I might steal some from her later to help introduce people.  But here are some of the people I talk about and am making good friends with:
This is Rosanne, she was the DJ for most of the night:
Birthday girl, Yenni!
My roommate Sarah on the left, Björn is blond and Jonathan in the background:
Nils looking gangsta with Rosanne's Star Wars ring (he is half Swedish from Atl):
Rosanne is a very creative dancer... she also has a zombie move... but this reminds me of that song "I'm a genie in a bottle, gotta rub me the right way...."
this girl is named Erica and she is in her last year at gymnasium (high school) I think, really hilarious:
This guy in the blue is named Richard... people call him something else with a B but I think he looks like Bart Simpson personally (he is 30ish and was a glass factory person before he started going to the school), Erica in the back, Rosanne on the right and Mua on the left:
This is Mua (Norwegian name I think, pronounced mooo-a) she is in her last year in gymnasium (she has a really great laugh and she laughs often):
This is everyone dancing around in general making fun of one another:
Here is Nick, he is from Ohio and is about 20, I think he jammin' out... but who knows really:
The two girls in the glasses are some Finnish girls who came this year and have been blowing for about 3 years, one is named Anna but I can't remember the other one.  They are both really nice and funny:
This is Jonathan, doing what he does best... He is our resident 16yr old drunkard.  Here he is drinking my Jim Beam, two small shots at a time... we take out shots from egg cups around here:
Here he is drinking water (I think) after his shots... he is soon sick after this if I remember correctly:
This is me with Erika on the left and Natalie in the middle.  They are both in gymnasium and for some reason are really nice to me and super funny. They helped me find the door out of the factory the other day when I was super lost after class:
Richard, Mua and Bjorn dancing like spazzy Swedes:
And, this is me and Richard at the end of the night... he made me promise that since I took the picture upside down that I had to put it on the internet upside down...  I think he was thinking of facebook but this is better:

The party was your normal party, talk about boyfriends who weren't there, look at those boyfriends on facebook, try to play Ring of Fire with people who speak like 4 different languages, dancing to redic disco/rap music, lots of smoking breaks (even the people who don't smoke go outside for the smoking breaks), lots of making fun of one another and throwing of playing cards... Speaking of which those cards were my roommate's who didn't come to the party and I think they ended up soaked in sangria... I will have to buy her some more!  The Danish guys didn't come, and there is a Danish couple too that didn't party... apparently they were playing futbol this morning and didn't want to feel bad I think.  It was a lot of fun and there were enough people that you always had someone to talk to whenever you turned around.  I may have lead Mua on, she is bi, and I have danced with girls at Sweet Briar so much that I don't think anything of it, but probably she was just really drunk!  

So sometime around 12:30 or 1 AM I went downstairs to my apartment to find a water glass but ended up going to bed instead.  It was really sweet Erika came looking for me to make sure I was OK and then went and told everyone that I went to bed so they wouldn't come looking for me.  Apparently the party went on until about 3 AM and the birthday girl, Yenni was the last man standing... and probably the worst looking this morning.  I think everyone had a really good time and some people are already talking about going to Nybro next weekend to a little bar/club together.

This is the part of the blog where I wonder how much to write... nothing scandalous or even very exciting happened, but inside my head I am debating if this is a tell all blog (think Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential except no drugs) or how much of my personal life is left to the imagination or told only to those who I am in regular contact with.  Some people are very closely tied to my personal life and thus what happens to me often has a lot to do with them.  Should I tell you how much they suck at life, or how wonderful they are being, or jerks, or psychos?!?  Then will that effect how you think of that person, judge them on something that had nothing to do with you... or make you seek them out and hug them or yell at them or strangle them... see there is a lot to think about... lots of potential bodily harm to those near and dear to me...  well really probably just unwanted attention more than harm. I have not yet made a decision and this is why most of my posts are kind of just a story of what I am doing, not so much feeling or how my mental stability is b/c it is directly effected by people who didn't sign up to start a blog and so have not signed up to air all of the details of their life to the World Wide Web.  I still have some thinking to do... I will let you know when I decide to start telling you about redic people and their ridiculousness behaviors and how they effect my life... I suppose I really shouldn't let other people have that much of an effect on me?!?  But, how can you say that and still have personal relationships with people?!?!? crap.

OMG, one of the danish guys, Martin, just walked past my bedroom window wearing a stripped teal and black shirt, light blue plaid pants, bright yellow soccer socks and flip flops... I love it here :)

Today I went on a long walk (about 4 kilometers) with Rosanne, we got lost on our short walk, crossed some tiny bridges where we thought we were definitely ending up in the water, through knee high wet grass (I was wearing flip flops of course), and through these awful Swedish plants that make you itch and burn real bad.  Then Rosanne tells me that I better check for ticks b/c there are these ticks here that if you don't get them off of you they will inject this toxin that goes to your brain and drives you crazy and then kills you in about a month.  Great... I am in Sweden where there are no natural disasters, minimal criminal activity and may die from a TICK making my BRIAN ooze out of my ears and kill me after it makes me crazy.  Great.  Luckily, I didn't find any ticks on me!

I have also spent time trying to organize my room properly with the stuff we got to Ikea.  I should finish it tonight and then can show you tomorrow what my apartment looks like and you will be able to better imagine me sitting here watching random people walk past my window while posting to you guys.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Småland Museum and Lingonberries

Friday the whole school (about 50 students so far until more arrive Monday) went on a field trip to a museum which is mainly for glass but also other Småland things in a town called Växjö.  Småland is the area of Sweden that I am in going to school.  There was an exhibit there of work made by students who had done the 3 year program here and the school at Kosta when they had finished their education called Too Hot To Handle.  It was really inspiring and made me optimistic that my time here will be well worth it! Here is the story behind the exhibit that the students wrote:

Here is a big picture of all of the work and some closeups of interesting pieces:

These trumpets are called "Blow Me" (hahaha - I think the twelve year old boy in all of us came out when we read that title)

These are some bowls that Rebecca (my advisor from New Zealand made blowing into big piles of snow and then another one with a really cool design in it.)

There was also an exhibit by an old student from Orrefors who graduated in 1996 I believe, named Claes Uvesten.  He was there and able to tell us some about the exhibit and it was really nice to see a student making it in the world.  His exhibit was a melding of traditional roman sculptures and sci-fi... it was really interesting and cool to look at but I don't think I would want the pieces in my home...  The really cool part was that inside each piece there was something computer generated like a microchip or some film.

I have always liked that Greek (maybe?) horse head sculpture.

I made this one below big so you could see the negative film in the head, look in the temple area.

Then there was also Swedish glass from famous artists in the museum and it was really nice to just walk around and be like "oh yeah, I want to learn to do that and that and that!"  Here are some of my favorite pieces:

awesome chandelier

Cinderella anyone (size 36)?

This little boy is called "The Hiker" and made me think of my mountain man in Banner Elk.

This one is not only horsey but also called something like "Success something something" I knew I should have written it down but I really like it anyway.

In the evening my Mom and Aunt arrived in Orrefors and stayed at the hotel where we had a nice Thai dinner (it is really the only restaurant or hotel in town).  We hung-out and caught up on what they have been doing in Skona (southern Sweden where my Mom grew up), showed each other a lot of pictures and went for a walk.  On the walk my Aunt showed me some edible berries, like wild blueberries (very similar to American except smaller) and then the famous lingonberries!  

I ate a few but they really need a lot of sugar.  Apparently, at Christmas time people make wreaths from the leaves because they stay green all winter.

This morning (Saturday), we went to Kalmar back to Ikea to get some stuff for my room that we didn't think of before and I think soon it will finally be all complete and I can take some pictures so you can see how I live.  It was great to see Mamma and Eva again, hard to say goodbye, this time it is for a really long time! But, I think they were glad to hear my answer when they asked if I wanted to go home now and I said "absolutely not!"  I am having a great time, making friends, and cannot wait to be able to blow amazing glass!!! 

Tonight is a girl upstair's birthday party so that should be fun.  She is Finish so I bought some whiskey to bring to the party! I will try to take some pictures so maybe you can start putting some faces to some names... OH! that reminds me I took a picture of some of my teachers:

That is Maryann on the left (I haven't had her yet), Micke in the black jacket, Orca (I don't remember how to spell his name, but he does hot glass) in the teal shirt, and Stig-Allen with the grey hair (he is the crazy old man in charge mostly), they are talking to a glassblower that we stopped to visit on the way to the museum.  Sadly, Rebecca wasn't there so you can't see her yet...