First weekend back

Westchester County, NY

It’s been a week now since I came back from my trip to Sweden, and I already feel like I miss it. It went by way too quickly, partly because it was actually only a short amount of time (6 full days), but mostly because the week was absolutely packed and filled to the brim with seeing people, doing fun things, and just enjoying being home. (I will write a post about the trip soon, as well as one about my friends’ visit earlier in June!) But being able to spend the weekend in New York at my grandparents’ place definitely alleviated some of that back-to-work-after-vacation dread.

On Friday, after spending a few hours in the morning at work, I drove up to New York and stopped to have lunch with my boyfriend on the way. As always when I visit my grandparents’, the weekend was wonderful and spent relaxing, cooking and eating great food, and having a fun time with family and friends.

One of my absolute favorite things is going for a run or brisk walk around the lake in the morning, when the heat isn’t yet too overwhelming, and the community is just starting to wake up. It’s something I do very rarely as I usually only have time to work out in the afternoons after work, but starting the day off with some alone time and exercise really puts me in a balanced state of mind for the rest of the day. Maybe “balanced” is the wrong word, but more at peace? Grounded? Even listening to music or a podcast (love listening to Swedish podcasts, it makes me feel like I’m at home!) and getting some exercise makes me so relaxed for the rest of the day.

I’m starting to feel a little anxious about my research project for the summer. It’s baffling that it’s July already (where did the first third of summer go?!), and I know my to-do list is still heavy and filled with stuff that I really should get done before school starts again in September — even things that are unrelated to my research.

How did I think I would have so much time to work over the summer, when I now find myself struggling to find time to even feel fully relaxed or do the social/fun things I want to do? Shouldn’t there be enough time in a normal week to go to work, exercise, rest, be social, AND work on my academic projects? Or did I just entirely overestimate how much time I would have (time during which I feel enough energy to work, at least) over the summer, not taking into account the fact that I almost have a full time job? I’m pretty sure I tend to overestimate those kinds of things, to be fair.

I think I just need to sit down and make an actual plan for the remaining weeks of the summer, and most of all start making use of the time I have at home after work on weekdays. And I need to be honest with myself; no expectations, routines, or due dates that I know I won’t keep. Although coming home from work at about 5PM and doing nothing for the rest of the night besides watch TV shows isn’t really the key to productivity, that’s still an important part of relaxing, too. I think I probably need at least some of that to have enough energy come fall.

I worry that this is going to be what the rest of my life will look like if I do decide to have an academic career; always feeling like there’s work I could be (and SHOULD be) doing outside of my scheduled hours, and never feeling like anything is enough. After all, if your work is basically doing research and writing, it’s not something you can leave at the office door at the end of the day. It comes home with you. Particularly over the summer, when there’s hardly any structure at all and you’re constantly feeling like you could be writing, instead of doing whatever else you might be doing. How do you even begin to balance that?

As far as I can tell, most accomplished academics are still trying to figure that out. So maybe it’s ok if I haven’t yet, either.

nyc

Guess who woke up with a severe wine-headache this morning?

I suppose the days of being able to drink for an entire evening with 0 consequences have passed. However, I’m not even upset about the headache, because it just attests to the incredibly fun time I had last night.

After an entire day of doing stuff around the apartment (mostly cleaning, since I want the place to be spotless ahead of my friends’ arrival), I took the train into the city to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and some family from Sweden that happened to be there on vacation. I hadn’t seen this side of the family in FOREVER, and it we had such a nice time catching up and just chatting over lots and lots of good food and wine. There’s just something special about hanging out with family members (biological or not, who cares!), and I feel so lucky to have all these interesting and fun people in my family.

Walking around in the city is one of my all-time favorite things. The fast pace, the people watching, the tall buildings; overall, the atmosphere of a big city really invigorates me. Days like these make me wish I lived in the city, and just commuted to school whenever I had to. But then again, considering my budget, living in New York would likely mean living in a cockroach-ridden, closet-sized apartment far out in one of the boroughs with 5 other people… So, there’s that. For now, at least, I’m happy in my apartment and just being able to commute into the city whenever I feel like it. Definitely planning on taking many more day trips like this during the summer!

Finding Farmers’ Markets

Bonita Springs, FL

Travelling to Florida over my Spring Break was perfect. In so many ways. A well-needed break in the middle of the stressful school semester, well-needed time spent with family, and some well-needed sun. It was such a wonderful trip overall, so is it strange to say that one of the highlights was definitely visiting the farmers’ market?

Maybe visiting farmers’ markets is a pretty mundane, every-day thing for some people. But I’m not one of those lucky few. And maybe some people just don’t give a sh*t; but that’s not me either. So when my grandma mentioned a U-Pick farmers’ market only a short drive away from their house, I was immediately on board. The day was warm and a little overcast, but knowing my skin I still slathered on lots of sunscreen anyway, and we got in the car to drive over.

And I was in heaven.

What is it about picking your own strawberries straight off the plant, seeing fields of flowers grow, and feeling fresh, sunwarm vegetables? Is it the absence of the grocery store’s fluorescent lights that makes everything look better? Or is there something else to it?

I think the reason why I love farmers’ markets (to what is perhaps a ridiculous degree) is that it all just feels right, in a strange way. It feels right to support local farms and farmers. It feels right to engage with all these products we buy in a natural way — seeing how they grow, appreciating that they require work and patience to be harvested, and seeing the soil they grow out of. It’s just so different from the mass-produced, heaps of vegetables and fruits we’re used to seeing in the store, where we are so far removed from the process… I guess it’s kind of a grounding experience, in a way.

I left the farm ecstatic, and my sister and I had almost eaten all the strawberries we’d picked by the time we got home. Whoops.

But besides this short excursion, the entire trip was wonderful. Which is always the case when I travel to see family. So much laughter, good food, sunscreen, smiles, drinks — exactly what vacation should be like. I already can’t wait to go back; hopefully this winter/early spring next year!

Monday

Talk about a long hiatus!

A few days ago, I sat down to go over things I wanted to accomplish this summer. I wrote down anything I could think of — from deadlines for my research projects, trips, and cleaning my apartment to getting into a solid exercise routine. And I wrote “start actively updating the blog again.” It’s honestly been incredibly hard to remind myself to keep writing, especially those times that I just don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say. Which has turned out to be most of the time… haha. But I’m going to overcome that and make a legitimate attempt at doing this, for real!

Picking up writing again is convenient for me now that summer has started, and mine is looking pretty dull. Quiet, at least. Besides some really exciting happenings in June (my friends from Sweden visiting and then travelling home to Sweden for a week!), my summer will be spent not doing much besides working my part-time job and doing research for my master’s thesis project. So I expect July and August to be filled with much time to do things for myself, which actually feels quite nice.

So much has happened since I started “forgetting” to blog about 8 months ago — innumerous papers written, several great trips taken, lots of delicious food cooked, and some exciting edits made to my apartment decor. I can’t wait to write more about it all in the next posts!


NJ to LA

I always used to laugh when my parents would call me a “jet setter” or “globe trotter” any time I went on a trip or went back and forth between school and Sweden. It seemed like such an exaggeration, because I figured I travel just as much as anyone else I know (at least as much as my friends in Sweden, who seem to be going places all the time). But I will admit that what I did this weekend — flying to Los Angeles from Newark for a long weekend — is definitely worthy of being put in that category. It felt like such a cool, luxurious trip to make, and I’m so grateful I got the chance to do it!

So on Thursday night last week, we took off to Newark Airport to catch the 10PM flight to LA. Being used to long flights and dealing with time differences, the flight wasn’t too bad for me but I was definitely exhausted once we arrived at the hotel at about 2AM. The hotel, where the whole weekend was spent and all the wedding festivities were held, was fantastic; a fancy, industrial-chic, modern hotel in the middle of LA’s Korea Town with a refreshing pool area and a café serving the most delicious matcha lattes (my new favorite hehe).

The wedding part of the weekend was incredible. Between dressing up, having cocktails, eating good food, and celebrating, what really struck me was the intense displays of love and warm sentiments that are (sadly) really not expressed in day-to-day life. Maybe it’s because I was just a child at the last wedding I went to (looking SO CUTE in my bridesmaid’s gown) and couldn’t really reflect on these things then, but I was so moved by the wedding ceremony and the reception that followed even though I hardly knew any of these people (I met the bride merely hours before the wedding ceremony). But it’s not really about necessarily knowing the people, is it? Regardless, seeing anyone proclaim their love to someone in front of all of their family and friends is incredibly impactful. Gotta admit I shed a couple tears. Which probably looked weird to everyone else who was thinking “Who is that girl, even? Why is she crying?”, but who cares.

In addition to attending all of the wedding festivities, we also got some free time to sightsee around LA, which I was really happy about. We walked around Korea Town, we took a bus tour around Beverly Hills and downtown LA (which made me 50% jealous of all of the ridiculously wealthy celebrities and 50% appalled that people live like that when there’s so much poverty in the world), visited the Getty Museum, and took a short trip to Venice Beach where I got to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean.

All in all, it was the most amazing weekend (not counting the red-eye back to NJ and going straight from the flight to work on Monday morning). I definitely want to go back to California to spend more time there soon!!!