Borta bra men hemma bäst

Today was not a long day in Spain, we left the apartment at 6:30 am and left the ground three hours later. I think I was asleep for the whole takeoff. Strangely I wasn’t tired when I woke up, but at the airport it hit me and I slept for a while. Then I was wide awake for the whole flight and read. I finished Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception and started reading Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony basically only because I read part of the first chapter at the end of The Opal Deception and realized that whole chapter was about Barcelona. It was great to see all the places in front of me. Pretty cool and random that the next book on my to read list took place in Barcelona just as I was leaving it, haha!

It was really warm when we landed. Picked up the cats right away and then Jesper and I went out for a small walk downtown and ate dinner out in the sunlight before watching Deadpool 2. A really funny movie, and for all Brad Pitt fans out there, he is in it.

I have now unpacked everything and taken a shower and finally feel clean again after all that sunlotion and sweat for a week. That’s usually not a bad thing, but it definitely feels better if there is also salt in your hair and you know that you spent all that time sweating and stinking at the beach in one way or another. Two days out of a week barely counts.

I think I am ready to go to bed now and back to work tomorrow. I am also ridiculously excited for tomorrow’s games in the series. I think my shoulder feels fine now, so that will be awesome. Hopefully good serves again!

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Beach volleyball at its finest

It’s been a while since I wrote about beach volleyball. I am still playing. More than ever in fact. And by more than ever, I mean three times a week.

I have played since 2007, that’s crazy long, but unfortunately my promising career as a beach volleyball pro ended before it could even start due to university studies (I know many can do both, but I couldn’t and decided that it was more important to get a good degree in a reasonable time and have fun in school while doing it), moving abroad also halted my progress a lot. Even if it happened to be to California, where I still played, but not seriously.

So now when I have been back for a long while, have finished my studies, have a good routine on my life with a nice job and salary (beach volleyball is very very expensive here in Gothenburg), I thought that it was time to put some effort into this sport again. Therefore, since January I am practicing twice a week and play in the series once a week. Which totals up to 5,5h every week. Not too bad for a busy project manager who also tries to write a book.

First of all, I want to send out a huge ‘thank you’ to my beach partner, Alice. She is the most supporting partner one could wish for. She brings out the best in me while playing and we are just so positive towards each other and we are extremely generous with encouragement. She is the perfect partner and a big reason why I find it worth paying 7000 kr per semester for this sport. Since day one we have been synched in game and we are developing together. And I felt that these past three months led up to tonight. When we completely owned every single set we played in the series. Last turn (the past 5 weeks) we got 3 points in total, we were hanging on a thread of being sent to the series below us, but we pulled through and managed to stay around for another five weeks. 3 points, for those of you who don’t know, is really bad. One period is 5 weeks, each week you play 2 games, each of two sets no matter who wins them, and you get 1 point per won set. So 3 points in a whole period is really bad. Today, we walked away with 4 points, we got more points in one night than in the past 5 weeks. And no wonder, we played like gods. Both of our serves were perfect almost every time, countless of esses. We played tight and communicated like never before. And what was best, in addition to the amazing serves, were our transitions (when we get the defense and have to counterpunch. We perfected transitions today! So many amazing saves, incredible sets from both of us and attacks that were beyond this world. I usually have a very good spike and am not very good at shots and placing the ball, but today I skipped the spike and placed all shots and they were all so very well placed. I can’t believe it. It is unbelieavable!

The only thing missing from today’s play was a block from my part. I have managed to do 3 successful ones this spring (that is 3 more than I have ever done in my previous ten years). But that takes practice, and it is hard when the coaches don’t really teach us women to block, with the argument that most women don’t block because we are short. Stupid argument. How am I supposed to learn then?

Nights like this is why it is so worth spending 7000 per semester on this sport.

Six months as a project manager

Today was the first day off my 6-month “trial contract” at WSP. I think it is a common way to go, especially for a newly graduated person. Not sure how it works in the rest of the world, but here in Sweden you get hired during a trial time of 6 months. Not that it is any different from working fulltime normally (I think it even says on my contract that it starts with 6 months trial and then goes on as a normal employment without any new contract needed – maybe I should double check?), but it still feels really good after my first day of knowing that I now am one of everyone else. I am another grown-up with a really fun fulltime job.

I have been very bad at updating this blog about how everything is going, but perhaps that is not super interesting anyway. But an update every now and then could be good. At least fun for myself in the future when I can look back on all of this, that I obviously save on an external harddrive.

The past six months have been really great. It has been challenging on many levels but I am getting used to it all. The whole routine of getting up the same early time every day, getting home the same early time (compared to university and Liseberg), trying to work out and compensate for sitting in front of a computer all day, trying to eat healthy, trying to write on my book and at the same time trying to do all of this and balance with enough sleep every night. It is harder than it sounds to find that balance and I am still not sure that I have. One really good thing about being a project manager is that it will always be challenging, no matter how long I have worked. The challenges will be different, and probably not as dependent on what I do outside of work (like getting enough sleep). Projects are never the same and that is why I really enjoy going to work every day. I feel that I do some good at WSP. I feel that I am appreciated, both from coworkers and bosses. I feel that I have found something that I am somewhat good at!

After only 4 months I took over a project regarding the change of control systems at Volvo and soon thereafter I was given a completely new project that I was part of starting up regarding a revision of all sprinkler systems at Volvo. That’s crazy. Think about it. I became the main project manager after only four months. How crazy is that?! What’s even more crazy is that it was only scary for about a couple of weeks after taking over when nothing was organized very well and I had to do a lot just to make sure that all the right documentation was in the right place and so on. Even if I don’t (well, maybe that is actually didn’t now) know a single thing about systems that control ventilation and such, I still did good. Because a project manager is not a specialist, a project manager is a generalist who is not supposed to be there and help with details, but rather be the spider in the web, the organizer to make sure that the project is going in the right direction. But of course, I learn new things every day that is basically just a big plus for my work.

Then there are also the days where I start thinking about what I am actually doing. How did I get here? I am working a 9-5 job (with flex hours of course), in an open office landscape. I use excel in almost everything I do and without my Outlook calendar I would be like a lost child. How did I end up there? Did I really get a masters degree? Really? Some days I feel like I have faked my way to where I am because I can honestly say that I don’t remember much from my bachelor time at Chalmers (2010-2012, so it has been a while). The knowledge I gathered from my master is more easily accessed. And maybe that is why I constantly hear that I am doing a good job (although I am not sure what is good and bad job)? Because project management is more than just education? I think perhaps I was born with a list and an excel spreadsheet in each hand. The structure and order have always come naturally. To not have things (the right things obviously, not everything) under control has never been an issue for me. And when I think about it that way, I reach the conclusion that I might feel lost but I truly feel that I have found my place and calling. Project management is what I want to do!

Now I am just rambling. Maybe I should have put these word counts into my book instead? Eh, to summarize, I can’t really believe that it already has been 6 months since I started working. It has gone so fast and I can’t wait to see what I will have accomplished in the future. I want to be good at what I do, I want to be a rolemodel for new employees as well as more senior ones. I want to see what kind of cool and big projects I could potentially get in the future. I am so eager to see where all of this is going and I think I have to remind myself that the road there will probably be as interesting as the goal. But now, for the first time, I have a goal, and it feels good. Real good!

I am so glad that it is not “just a job” that I have. I really like what I am doing and I am so greatful that I found this right on my first try.

Skiing in Luossavaara

Late last night, I came home to a cold Gothenburg. It was -9C and warm compared to what I had left behind. Today it was -10C when I left for work, I barely felt it. The sky was clear and the air crisp and dry. Really nice. Much different when I left work today though. It was only -5C, damp and windy, so I was chilled to my bones, it was horrible!!

On Saturday we woke up to a clear blue sky again and it was below -20C. The ski slope usually is closed if it is colder than -20 or when it is too windy. No wind, but really cold. Their Facebook page had not updated anything about it though so we walked the 800m to the slope from Malin’s apartment. The mountain Luossavaara lies on an old abandoned mine and only had basically two slopes going down. One lift. But it was really good skiing. I haven’t been on skiis in at least 8 years, but it went surprisingly well, at least Malin said it looked good for being 8 years since last time. The snow was perfect, one side of the lift was recently groomed (do you say that?) and no one had been on it. So nice!

My calves didn’t hurt, they were about to after the first try. But for some reason it stopped and never started. What hurt was my nose and cheeks from the extreme cold. But my calves didn’t. Well, they did afterward after being squished so tightly for quite a while. But I didn’t lose my sense of feeling in my feet at all, which I remember doing during each go last time. So that was a success.

We had waffle lunch, went some more and then the lift died so we decided it was time to go back home. Our faces hurt from the cold. But oh my, what a beautiful day!

The end of the day was spent in front of Melodifestivalen (the Swedish Eurovision) with homemade pizza. Haven’t seen it in forever and I feel like that was the right choice. Not impressed. But still a nice evening!

 

On my last day in Kiruna, we went on a walk in another super awesome day. Clear sky again, -26 when we woke up, -24 when we were out. We took a closer look at the church and then walked back. An hour outside was more than enough and our faces hurt again. We watched Hidden Figures before I had to go to the bus and leave for Sweden… I mean Gothenburg.

I am glad that I now know that Malin is having a great time up there and is doing really well. I can only imagine how scary it must be to move out of your parents comfort already as a 16-year old. Brave girl!

Icehotel in Kiruna

I am so upset that I can’t post pictures right now. I have so many amazing ones from today, and even from yesterday. I will just have to speed up my project of moving all my pictures from this blog to my archive blog.

It was a while ago now that I traveled. It must have been Rome in April last year. I have been wanting to go to northern Sweden for a long time now and since my cousin Malin moved here to go to the space high school in Kiruna (Rymdgymnasiet), I finally grabbed the opportunity, booked a flight and flew as north as I have ever been.

I took two days “off” work, flew in yesterday and will leave on Sunday.

The snow was there. Tons of snow were everywhere! -14C I think the pilot said. I thought it would be fine, because it is dry cold, but it was cold.

Airport was tiny, bus ride into the city center was cozy and I saw on the way in that the sun was on its way down. I thought that that meant that it would be dark very soon. But I was wrong. The sun was setting from 2pm and all the way until it actually went down at like 5pm perhaps? And it wasn’t even that dark afterward either. The white snow is making everything so light! It is nothing comapred to the grey darkness back home in Sweden…. sorry, back home in Gothenburg. It is hard to see this place as part of Sweden. It is so completely different. It is magical, it is white, it is cold and the air is full of shiny crystals when the sun is shining. I have definitely found some details to the environment in the area of Isidra in my book!

Yesterday we just walked around town, had dinner at Spis, a restaurant where Malin works (she works at the fika part of it, but same owner). Arctic Char was on my plate and it was delicous (Filet of arctic char wrapped in cabbage served with almond potato puré, shellfish sauce, root vegetable chips and roasted wheat).

 

The morning of today was spent at her school. The general director of the Swedish National Space Board was there to talk to the students. Super interesting to hear what they are doing. Then he participated in the class afterward which was astronaut knowledge. We looked at the Terrella they have (basically aurora borealis in a can). Malin was interviewed by SVT and it is now up on SVTplay here. 8:55 into the video, the news did a sequence on her high school. She is the cute astronaut and I am the muppet sitting next to her. Hahah! The video will only be available for another 7 days, but I have it downloaded. The article for it is here.

In the afternoon we took the bus to Jukkasjärvi and the Icehotel. I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I thought it was a “boring” place, a building made out of ice and snow with basic beds and reindeer pelts to sleep on. I was once again surprised. Most of the rooms are individually designed by anyone who sends in their idea. The bst ones are picked out and later that same person creates the room during two weeks. Even the “basic” rooms were very beautiful with ice crystals on each side of the bed.

So, let me explain how this hotel works. In April each year, 2 ton blocks are removed from Torneälven, the big river up there from a farm they have right next to the place of the hotel. The remove snow from the ice during the whole winter to make the ice perfect. It is then stored in a big warehouse behind the hotel and can be stored for several years so the ice in the current hotel might not necccesarily be from last year, but it is definitely from Torneälv. They ship ice to ice bars in Stockholm for instance that goes under the same name. A few years ago they built a whole hotel down in South Africa for a car commercial that then gave the idea of building Icehotel 365, an icehotel that is open year round, right next to the one they build every year.

The Icehotel this year is called Icehotel 28 because it is the 28th hotel they have built. All of them are different and built up in October. The rooms are carved in November and it opens up for business in the end of November. It is then open until, was it March or April, or maybe even later?

Like I said in the beginning. The pictures are incredible, but only on my phone for now. They will be posted eventually!

Storage limitations

I have some sad news everyone. WordPress has changed their storage upgrades and the one I had is not available anymore. So instead of paying $20 per year, they now ask $100 per year for the same amount of storage and a lot of extra premium stuff that I don’t want. It sucks! So now I have 7.9 GB used of the original 3GB that comes with a WordPress blog for free. Pretty big dilemma. Which can be solved in many ways. After thinking about it for a while, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to create a new blog. I have my followers here, and “alexandrabemm” is how I can be found on basically any social media so it would not make any sense for my blog to be called anything else. Even “alexandrabemm2” for instance.

Most of the pictures on this blog are from my two years in California, so I have decided to create one or two new blogs (depending on how much storage space all the pictures take) that will work as a California blog. I will repost everything from those two years on that blog, remove the pictures from here and add a link to the original post. This is unfortunately a big project and will take tons of time so it will be some time before I can post any pictures here. For example “My year in books” from Goodreads, or covers on the reviews I will be writing (I don’t think there will be too many since I am not reading as much anymore).

Big project, but not completely impossible. Until then, I apologize for a boring, non-picture blog.

Here is the first of the archives: https://alexandrabemmarchive.wordpress.com/.

Kosta Christmas Market

Today was all about quality time with mom. Her work arranged a trip to Kosta. We left early this morning and got back very late. Included was a Christmas buffet and it was really good. Kinda felt early, but it is almost at the end of November. But Thanksgiving hasn’t even been yet.

It was not a big market and compared to Liseberg it was a disappointment. But as soon as the sun went down and the lights were visible, it was very pretty.

The brand Kosta Boda comes from here, so I was prepared to shop glass. But there was a big fashion outlet as well. I found pretty shoes but decided against it. Another day. But I did buy two shirts. Then I also bought a cute flower tea infuser, a vase from Orrefors and a drop-shaped bowl, also from Orrefors. I’ve been meaning to get a vase for so long, it is not pretty to have flowers in the decanter, so now we have one, and a pretty fancy one.

It was a nice day 🙂