The line of ice that used to stretch like a speed bump right in front of our driveway has slowly dwindled over this past week. Now only a thin line of it clings to the pavement, and the snow in the garden is completely gone. I suppose it’s been a warm winter across the globe (which makes sense because climate change is in fact real) but seeing photos from up north in Sweden makes me want to follow the cold. It’s not that I like being cold, it’s more that everything seems better and closer and calmer when there is snow. However, the warmth means that walking around Stockholm is a little easier, and my nose doesn’t get runny quite as quickly. I’ve stopped putting on blush though, because there is still enough crispness in the air to make my cheeks pink.
It still however, is unmistakably Scandinavian winter. The sun rises at around 8:10 these days, and that’s only when it begins to rise. It’s not all that different from home in the evening, or so it seems to me… But somehow the morning seems so vastly different. Every time my alarm goes off I think of those times when I was little that my family had to catch an early plane at the airport, so we all had to get up at 5am. But this time there is no sleeping in the car. I have to be up and showered in time to get to the train, even if in the end I get to school a little early. That’s the price of my amazing peaceful suburban home: trains leave every 25 minutes or so, and that could potentially make me late to class. (I might add that our professor of Swedish makes us sing to the whole class if we are late…)
Today I got out of class at 10 in the morning, my only class of the day, and took a metro right to Gamla Stan for some solo exploring. I wrote this little paragraph while I was there:
I am sitting in tiny café down a thin alley in Gamla Stan. The place is cramped and small but still has five big flags pointing out where it is. The ceiling is rounded like a hobbit hole, and one wall is all brick. A set of armor, probably fake, stands guard there in the corner, and an old-fashioned radio plays dreadful top 20 music. It is so full of static that I thought maybe the coffee grinder was just on all the time. But no, it was just that ancient radio next to the empty knight near the wall. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate before sitting down to write, and it came to me in a small tea cup and cost 50 krona! For those americans out there, that’s more than 5 US dollars… And it was tiny! Plus it came out of a machine like it does in my college dining hall. But no matter. I honestly like any and all hot chocolate, so I was content. The white noise of the static-y radio and people chatting in the sweet language that is Swedish serve as a good background for my writing. My typewriter keyboard adds to the atmosphere I think, blends in, even. I’ve gotten several compliments today, the Swedes seem to like my hipster writing set-up. I just hope the tapping of the keys doesn’t annoy anyone, because I know people would be too polite to tell me. I’m not sure if I will come back here. I need a cheaper cup of cocoa, but now that I’m here I can make it my writing space just fine.
The whole morning and afternoon was spent wandering. I found that café and another lovely art café (I will post a link once I remember the name) in which I mistakingly ordered four swedish pancakes instead of two… I ate them all anyway, they were heaven. I definitely recommend swedish pancakes (a breakfast food I actually grew up with) with powdered sugar and cloudberry jam. Absolute heaven I tell you.
And then I spent too much money at both a strangely wonderful clothing store, and my favorite book shop in the world (besides R.J, Julia of course): Science Fiction Bokhandeln. It is a magical place full of temptation… I’ve already bought three comic books there… Imagine a beautiful, organized bookstore, but it doesn’t feel like a chain of any kind, and it’s literally ALL science fiction and fantasy books. Plus all the nerdy tv shows ever. Plus comic books. Plus tons of fantasy-sci-fi merchandise. Plus all the gaming (board and cards, not so much video games) supplies one could ever hope for. Let’s just say I got a frequent shopper card from them right away.
So yes, the freedom of being near a city and having many fewer hours of class than usual is beginning to set in. I realized I could spend as much time in that place as I wanted, and it was quite overwhelming. I wrote 2000 (ish) words of my book… And that too started to overwhelm me. I felt the edge of writer’s block begin to surface when I sat in that little café. So, I left, and headed back to the train. I’m home now, but now have the knowledge that it takes only about 10 minutes to get to Gamla Stan from my school. I have a feeling my book is going to have a complete draft by the end of this semester. If I start to fade from that goal, promise that you folks reading this (family and friends, I love you for reading this) will leave some comments yelling at me to get back on track.
Photos by me, and the top one is of the Tintin section of a wonderful stationary store… I love Tintin… Though I’ve written many a discussion/criticism of the racist and disgusting themes that show it’s the product of its time… But I won’t get into that here.