Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano
Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

28 December 2006


December 28, 2006 7:17pm EST

Sitting in Logan International Airport. Been home for a few days, now off again! The time at home flew by and this year more than ever, I really wish I could stay just for a few more days. Don’t get me wrong – I’m SO excited to go to Spain, but I just wish I could spend a little more time with family and talk to a few more people on the phone. Just now while waiting at the airport, I did get to talk to Pete and Quinn! What an absolute cutie. I love him so much!

Christmas was really nice this year, though a bit different than usual. Normally we have a big family Christmas party on Christmas Eve, but this year my dad was sick. Sad. So, we had the fam over on Christmas day for dinner and had a relaxing Christmas Eve (that is, except for my poor dad who wasn’t feeling so hot). We went to Midnight Mass. It’s my favorite time to attend Christmas mass.

I love just being with family. I feel so blessed to have such a warm, welcoming, and loving family. My aunt and uncle from Vermont spent Christmas down here this year; the first time in twenty years! The saddest part of Christmas was not having my great-grandparents here for dinner on Christmas day; let’s just say – they could use your prayers… as could my grandmother (their daughter), she is an absolute angel and has welcomed them into her home and is now their caregiver – all the time!. God please bless her!! Grammie, I love you SO much and think you are wonderful. I pray that God will give you the strength and courage to take care of Gram and Gramp, and also provide you with time for Him and peace in your heart, mind, and soul.

I’m also very thankful for Noah. I’m so proud of who he is becoming. We were able to spend a good bit of time together, even if it some of it was while working out! I really enjoy his company and the conversations we have. I’m so happy that Cortland seems to be such a good fit. He looks great, really seems to have matured (not that he was immature, but he’s just different – sort of), and is just a great guy. Real. Genuine. Tells it like it is. I love that. I wish we could spend more time together and I really wish he could come over to Sweden, but maybe I’ll have to settle for a cross-country trip with him in the spring… more on that later, but that could be really great!

Caught up with Em, Shannon, Coach, Jackie, and Delaney…. becoming a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition! (5 years in a row?) And guess what?! Em received a ticket to Stockholm for a Christmas present. Yippee!!! It’s like a Christmas present for me too : ) I am so excited she will be coming over in the spring. Yay yay yay.

Today Mom, Dad, and I spent some time in Boston before heading to the airport for my flight. We walked a bit around Quincy market and my parents bought me a gorgeous matreshka (I don’t think that’s how you spell it, but I’m talking about the Russian wooden nesting dolls – I collect them; each one is such a beautiful piece of unique artwork!). It’s fun to spend time with my parents. They seem so happy. It makes me very happy.

Well, off to Granada now… via Iceland, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Malaga... hopefully I will arrive eventually. It’s been a wonderful Christmas that went by much too fast. God, I praise you with thanksgiving for my family and friends and lift them up in prayer. I feel so blessed to feel so loved, and especially blessed to be loved by You. With all my heart, thank you.

Now, to Spain and beyond….!!!!


December 22, 2006 4:44pm

Well, I’ve seen the sun rise and set from Arlanda Airport in Stockholm (well, almost – the sun actually began peaking through the clouds on my train ride to the airport this morning). And, yes, I am still here at the airport. According to my original flight plan, I should almost be landing in Iceland. However, due to inclimate weather at my layover destination, currently no planes are leaving from or departing to Keflavik. My flight was supposed to leave at 1:20pm, but then was delayed until 6pm. Just recently, the flight was further delayed until 6:55pm. How do they figure 6:55pm instead of 7pm?! After the initial disappointment of not arriving home at the expected time, then I thought maybe I would get to spend the night in Iceland! Well, I went to the info desk and they told me that everyone on the Iceland Air delayed flight to Keflavik should make their connecting flights because all of the flights (in and out of Iceland) have been similarly delayed. So, I guess I’ll still be getting to Boston today, just not as early as I once hoped for. Maybe though it’s better this way, for perhaps my parents will get to spend a fun evening in Boston together before coming to pick me up!

I feel most unproductive today, but I guess we all have those days once in a while. To keep me busy, I have packed only an Andalucía travel book and my Bible. I know that I will be returning to Europe with so many books (I ordered a whole bunch for myself for Christmas), I thought I should get to the U.S. as light as possible. Instead of reading, I’ve been playing around on the net (which always makes me feel like I’m wasting time… except when you get to talk to friends!). So, had some good little chats going, followed up on some needed-to-get-to emails, and watched a movie. I only have access to the internet in the main lobby area, as now I am without internet as I sit close to my departure gate (in hopes we might leave just a tad bit early?!). I watched the movie “Baptists at the Barbeque” (or something like that). It was a comedy I downloaded off some movie site. It was about this Mormon guy from Utah who was an almost-30-year-old, unmarried, park ranger who transferred to Arizona for a change from Utah. The population of the small town to which he moved was perfectly split between Baptists and Mormons. He tipped the scale towards Mormons. Anyway, the movie showed a funny story about the small-town conflicts that arose between the two different religious groups. People were so biased to thinking that they knew everything and the other group was clueless. As you can guess, the moral of the story had something to do with loving your neighbor despite specific differences in beliefs that may be held. It was entertaining enough (parts being quite funny) and it helped me get 2 hours closer to departure.

If the flight is not delayed again, then I have close to two more hours to wait. At least the flight wasn’t canceled. I talked to a couple people today who’s flights (U.S. domestic) were cancelled! Hopefully the next time I post here I will be at home, sitting by the fire, curled up on the coach by the Christmas tree, and listening to Christmas music. Ah, yes. Soon enough.

21 December 2006

Peanut Butter Cheeks

Do your cheeks get warm when you eat peanut butter? Just wondering.

Tack sä mycket.

December 21, 2006 4:13pm

Tack tack tack tack!! Judy, Paige, and Marissa… thank you SO much! You don’t even know (or, perhaps you planned it all) how perfect the package was!! First of all, green is my favorite color – so, I would have been more than excited just to receive a bright green, bubbly envelope in the mail! Then… the cards… I love them both. The Snoopy doctor card brought quite the smile to my face… though I’m not there yet (the doctor thing :) ), it is my dream, so I very much appreciate the thoughtfulness and support there!! Then, the Christmas card is most terrific. Where did you get a card printed in Sweden from?! The little girl giving nose-kisses to Santa is most adorable. Then, I did not yet even mention how as soon as I opened the envelope, I was overcome by this wonderful fragrance – something yummy and something chocolaty. “Dark Decadence” from Ghirardelli – now I get to celebrate Christmas with something from San Francisco and delight in my absolute favorite kind of chocolate (dark!). Did you have all these details figured out when you sent the package? Thank you so much for the gift, but greater thanks to you just for the thought, staying in touch, and for the fun conversations we have over Skype! Merry Christmas. Go Stanford!!

Hej mamma och pappa. Tack sä mycket. It sometimes could be easy to take family for granted, especially a family that unconditionally loves, supports, and encourages me to do whatever it is I am dreaming of. I want you to know that nothing I could ever say or do is great enough to show my thanks for all that you do for me and for all you have given me. Nothing comes close. So, even though today one does unfortunately come to “expect” presents from family at Christmas time, I want you to know that I truly appreciate the cards you send me here and this package too. I know how crazy busy life can be, so I am totally grateful for you making the time to get some mail sent off to Stockholm. So, thank you for the nativity scene (yes, I can make my own stable – after all, I have practice at being the inn keeper!) and for the beautiful ornament (and snow globe! Perfekt!!). I can’t express how excited I am to come home and share Christmas with you! I don’t know if I will even be able to sleep tonight (sort of like Christmas Eve, when you’re a little – and sometimes big – kid). See you in Boston!! Love you lots and lots and lots.

Happy Birthday Noah!!

December 21, 2006 2:09pm

Happy Birthday Noah!! Been thinking about you a lot today and wondering what you are up to. How are you celebrating? Wish I could be there with you. Will see you soon! : )

So, I’ll be flying home in 24 hours! Yay. Thought about trying to fly standby today, but then figured that would complicate the pickup situation – plus, the odds of getting onto a flight at this time of year probably aren’t high. That’s ok that didn’t workout though because it’s been a good day of just walking around and taking in my last bits of Swedish Christmas before leaving for home. And, it’s crazy it out there (at least, in any area with any bit of shopping!!). Went looking for a couple more gifts and, boy, it may be crazier here than at home! In Sweden, people exchange gifts on Julafton (Christmas Eve), so perhaps – technically speaking – there is one less day here to do shopping than at home (though, who really wants to be out buying gifts on Christmas Eve even at home!). Despite the hordes of last-minute shoppers, it’s fun to try to just meander throughout the commotion.

I did have a very quiet experience before walking downtown. This morning I visited Almgrens Sidenväveri och Museet. It’s the last functioning Swedish silk factory, and there is a complete museum telling the “story of silk” in Sweden. I met one of the weavers and she taught me about the technique behind weaving these beautiful silk textiles. I learned about the different steps along the way – it’s quite a long process requiring lots of moths and cocoons – to get the tiniest bit of silk. She said that if all goes smoothly in her weaving, then she weaves about a centimeter of fabric every minute (each centimeter has 80 lines of thread!). She was working on a piece of silk with many little white moose against a rich, blue background. She’s been weaving her whole life, and her mother was a weaver too. After talking with her a bit, I explored the rest of the museum. I was the only visitor there. It was so peaceful just to go about the museum and learn all there is to know about the history of silk in Sweden! I didn’t have any particular expectations for the visit there; I simply picked to visit this museum (for my weekly museum visit) because it’s the first one in an alphabetical listing of museums. Turned out to be a terrific choice!

Now I am going to go pick up a couple packages that arrived today (thank you – whoever sent them – I don’t know yet, but soon will!). Then I have practice at Klubb Activ tonight. Last night was our last bball practice of the year. No more basketball practice with the team until January 2nd. Imagine if we had that kind of break in college?! No way. But, it’s different here. Everyone will stay in shape doing other sorts of workouts and shooting on their own. I think it’s really good to have this break here. Will give everyone time to refresh and be fired up to start again in January. I know we all enjoy playing with each other, but sometimes everyone needs a mental break. I wish we had even more bball practices that we do. So, it’ll be fun to start anew in January and have games too! (too long without games right now : ) ). Alrighty, need to run before the shops close that are holding my packages. Perhaps the next time I write I’ll be home!! Praise God for an incredible two months here – they’ve really flown bye. I’m excited to share my experiences with some of you (in person!) over the holidays, and look forward to returning here for the even colder winter months to embark on some new adventures!! Off now… oh, by the way, today is the shortest day of the year. Here, the sun was up at 8:46am and will be down at 2:48pm. Sounds pretty crazy (at least compared to what we’re used to in the States), but it doesn’t seem that strange when you experience. Maybe I’m just used to it now. I thought the darkness was going to be a much bigger deal. I sorta like it. : ) (though, I do miss the sun too!). Ok, really good bye now. Hej då och god jul!!

20 December 2006

Counting Down

December 19, 2006 7:08pm

It’s snowing again! It’s snowing again!! After over six weeks of rainy, unseasonably warm weather, the cold has come! And, so has the snow. Well, at least there is enough of the fluffy white stuff to almost cover the ground. No big snowstorm in sight. That’s okay… there will be plenty of time for that in the rest of the winter months. I just love to see the flakes as they fall from the sky and are illuminated by streetlights. Simply magical!!

Life is going well here… everyone is getting all excited to celebrate Christmas with their family and friends. I, for one, cannot wait to get home and give my family some big hugs : )

I’ve had a pretty fun and diverse last couple of days. Yesterday morning I showed up at the Rheumatology Dept at Karolinska Hospital and shadowed a doctor. Sweet. We saw (haha), rather, he saw a handful of patients and I tagged along. One guy had a trigger finger that wouldn’t stop curling; he was given a cortisone shot. Another guy had some arthritis and fluid buildup in both knees; saw the fluid drained and another shot given. One woman had gout; she had a bunch of white bumps (made of excess uric acid) collected just beneath her old, almost translucent skin. She was in the clinic for help with pain management because some of the little bumps (which can grow to be quite large if not treated in a timely fashion) had developed in joints. Imagine bumpy, hard clusters rubbing between bones and ligaments. Ouch. She was a sweet old lady with bright blue eyes. One rather young girl (perhaps in her late 20s) was there for a routine transfusion treatment to help manage the pain of her arthritis. A man in a clinical trial for a certain pain medication had an appointment for a regular visit as part of the research protocol. He had two black eyes because he had just previously fallen (unrelated to the study or arthritis he suffered from). He was a very pleasant older gentleman with a black leather vest and what-looked-to-be cowboy boots.

The doctor I shadowed did an excellent job of telling me the story of each patient and teaching me the specifics about each different condition. Even though I was not able to understand all the details of the doctor-patient interaction because, of course, all that talk was done in Swedish, he did fill me in both during the visit and after. It was really quite interesting to see how the Swedish medical system works… or, at least, how a microcosm of the system operates. For instance, all prescriptions are written and filed electronically. The prescribing doctor completes an online form that is electronically signed and submitted to all pharmacies throughout Sweden. The patient is not responsible for carrying a tiny sheet with an illegible prescription to his or her pharmacy, rather one can just show up at any Swedish pharmacy and the prescription is already present and ready to be filled. Nice. There was a similar system for patients who needed to have orthotics made for them; however, due to the necessity of having multiple appointments involved with the creation of personal orthotics, this system was effective, though not quite as seamless as the prescription system. What else… I didn’t really talk much at all to patients myself – to hear about their experience from the patient perspective, but most people seemed content with the movement and order of events in the office. Someone once told me that Swedes are good at standing in lines… not said as an insult at all, rather as a fact of being in the system here. Everyone gets used to waiting his or her turn. There’s not much else that can be done except for being patient.

Brief interruption… still snowing! Perhaps even a bit harder now. And, with smaller flakes!!

I hope I am invited back to shadow some doctors in the hospital and clinics. I was connected to this doctor by our team doctor at Stanford, Dr. Lambert. Thanks!! The doctor I shadowed knew that my interest was more in pediatrics than rheumatology (though of course I was excited to follow any doctor around!), so he is going to try to contact some pediatricians. Perhaps I will get to see some of the kids’ hospital scene too.

Went into lab yesterday afternoon and today also. I made a mutant and I think it’s the right one! Yay. Still more testing to be done, but that won’t be completed until the New Year. Happy with the progress of the project at the moment. Plus, I’m learning so much! Aaron is a great teacher and everyone in the lab is so very helpful and friendly. Sort of strange to have so many people willing to be of assistance… that’s more of the Swedish attitude… always looking out for each other.

Had bball practice last night and a workout with Jose tonight at Klubb Activ. Putte ran practice last night because Anders was at the club Christmas party. Ok. Well, it was a very good practice. After practice, our team and the men’s team put on a Lucia-inspired concert for all the kids at Alvik. We sung Swedish Christmas carols. Or, tried to. They are quite beautiful. The whole production was supposed to be funny, so it was ok that I didn’t exactly know what I was doing at all! We each held a candle and had some sort of holiday costume on. I just wore some garland.

Getting very excited to be home and celebrate Jesus’ coming with my own family. Fun to be here and share in the spirit with others, but no one else is family but family. And, though I won’t get the chance to see so many of my friends, I can’t wait to talk on the actual telephone with you! Hope everyone isn’t getting too caught up in the craziness, but rather taking the time to really remember what the season is all about. This morning I was reading some of John, Chapters 14 and 15. Go read it! It’s awesome. Trust, peace, love, truth, obedience, patience… how can we not always be in complete awe and thanksgiving to Him and for sending us Jesus? God is incredible beyond out understanding. Let us really praise His name for all to see!!

17 December 2006

One more week!

December 17, 2006 7:26pm

Third weekend of Advent and, yes, quite Christmassy!! Not really in a writing mood though, so just a bit of a weekend summary… Saturday morning worked-out at Klubb Activ (always a tough workout – today’s remnants of yesterday’s workout are sore abs and arms!). Visited a couple markets in the afternoon with Lauren. Returned to the Street Market at Hornstull Strand (and managed to completely avoid Pierre). Then went to Skansen… whoever comes to visit me from here on out, we must go to Skansen!! It’s sort of like a Swedish version of Sturbridge Village, but especially charming right now because of all the Christmas markets and decorations within. We didn’t even make it all the way out to see the animals, for it was getting quite chilly and perhaps the place will be even more scenic with snow. Yesterday evening Erin and I went for pizza at out favorite place in Stockholm (eating the leftovers now), then hung out with some more girls from Fryshuset later that evening. Today I went to Immanuel International’s morning service, attended a Christmas party featuring soup (the mushroom was my favorite, but the potato and asparagus was tasty as well), then finished off today’s adventures with Catholic mass. Sorry I don’t feel like going into the details… especially of Skansen and today’s party… but I guess we will just do that in person sometime if you wish. Think I’m just a little bit tired from being all over the place the last few days. Going to settle down this evening and watch Notting Hill – it’s on TV and I’ve been wanting for a few weeks now to see this movie. Yay. I love it!! Can’t wait to come home. Bye.

16 December 2006


December 15, 2006 11:27pm

Fun Friday! We didn’t have practice today and I didn’t go into lab, so… lot’s of free time!! I slept in this morning, wrote some Christmas notes, then headed off to Gamla Stan to buy some Tomtens that I’ve had my eye on for a while. Similar to how we have Santa Clause in the U.S., here in Sweden they have Tomten (I’m not sure if I’m spelling this correctly). Anyway, the traditional tomten has a long, tall hat, a very hairy beard, and sometimes all you can see is a nose (because of the robust beard, there’s no eyes or mouth visible!). It sounds sorta strange, but they actually are pretty cute. They grow on you. Often times, the beards are made of actual clippings from the wool of sheep. I found some at the gift shop in the Museum of Swedish Horses when I visited there a while back, and returned today to pick my favorites out to bring home.

After making my tomten selection, I headed off to meet up with this guy I met at the “Street” fair last weekend. Remember, the “Street” fair was one of the Christmas markets I went to last Sunday… with a focus on organic and earth-friendly products, I think. Now, I realize that sounds a bit sketchy – going out with some seemingly random guy -but really it isn’t at all. His stand at the fair was an espresso bar and showcase of fine chocolates. For some reason we started talking about different things… food and basketball primarily… and some how we decided it would be fun to meet up and talk more. Specifically, he’s a total “foodie” – and though I’m not close to calling myself one yet – I’m quite definitely learning to love them! Or, at least love what I can learn : ) Plus, I feel as if I can’t escape having foodies in my life… not that I would at all want to, of course (much rather, the other way around). So this guy, his name is Pierre, is Swedish and French. He’s spent the last few years studying and working in culinary arts and wine (is wine part of culinary art?) in France, but grew up in Stockholm. He’s worked at one of the two best restaurants in Stockholm, is an official, trained, wine-guy that nice restaurants have (I don’t know how to spell the title), and now he just bought a retail space in St: Eriksplan in which he is building a juice-bar and vegan/raw-food specialty store and café. He does a lot more of other food-related adventures, but that’s just a quick summary. When I first met him I could not help but think of three people in particular – Andrea, Veronica, and Jonathan – I want you to come meet this guy or at least talk to him! He’s worked at a bunch of places and has a good chunk of experience in the food industry with lots of connections. He’s really passionate about it. Makes for good conversation, or at least good stories for me to listen to and learn from. Oh, I wish you were here with me today! We went out to lunch at a nice little French restaurant and then visited Lux (it’s supposedly one of the very best bakeries in Sweden) to buy some dark bread (a specialty here). At the restaurant, he knew everyone who worked there and the chef came out and talked with us for quite a while. I ordered a fish and tomato dish and enjoyed a mini apple-cake for dessert. It was fun to hear about the best restaurants in the city and his personal involvement and connection with am impressively large bit of the food scene here. Don’t know if we’ll go out again – I definitely want to try some places he suggested – but, just to be clear for all of you that I’m sure are wondering… for me, there is absolutely nothing romantic here at all. So, don’t get all excited or anything ;) Just a good meal and good conversation. Plus, he’s too old for me! Haha. And, if I really liked someone – I don’t exactly know if I’d lay it all out like this in such a public blog – but, since that (the being swept off my feet ;) ) hasn’t happened yet, well, we’ll just have to wait and see!

After lunch and the bakery stop, I returned home to finish up writing the notes I had started writing this morning. I didn’t have many of the addresses, so I set off to Katarinahissan (the elevator, cat-walk, internet hotspot) to brave the cold, get online, and retrieve those mailing addresses. Best part of this outing (and best party of the day too!!)… I talked to Pete (and Quinn, sort of) over skype. We tried to talk live, though the very gusty winds limited the effectiveness of that mode of conversation. Therefore, we just resorted to chatting. I love the Klenows!! Christine and Pete, of course… but Q-man especially… and now, even though I haven’t actually met her yet, Annalise too. I can’t help but smile and also get a bit sad when I think of them – smiling for all our great times (in the past and to come), but sad for only being in month two of six of not seeing them. I’m forever grateful for their incredibly loving, welcoming, and encouraging support and friendship they’ve always extended to me. I feel so blessed to have them in my life. Just saying thanks will never be enough for all they have done for me. Ok, enough of being sentimental… onto the next adventure…

…took the ferry to Skeppsholmen and the Arkitect Museet (the Architecture Museum). Currently there is a gingerbread house exhibition. Entries in four categories: architects, bakers, kids 12 and under, and the general population. I even filled out a form to vote for my favorite. The houses were pretty amazing. If I get around to it, I’m going to post some pics of the houses I saw (check it out at Made me want to build a ginger-bread house, and eat some of it too : ) Also, weekly museum attendance completed… check. Where should I go next?

Tonight I finished up one of the scarves I’ve been knitting, while watching Cold Mountain (sad, but very good) and Elf (hilarious!!). Pretty chill Friday evening, but just what I wanted. Tomorrow will be another busy day… want to squeeze in as much Christmas spirit as I can!! Hope you’re full of it (that is, Christmas spirit, of course)!!

14 December 2006


December 14, 2006 10:38pm

The days sure are flying by! In a week from now, I hope by now I’ll be all packed to fly home!! But until then… I’m going to enjoy the Swedish Christmas spirit : )

Yesterday was Lucia Day, and though I still do not completely understand the traditions, the different events I went to were uniquely beautiful. No one seems to explain to me exactly what Lucia day is all about (I could just look it up!), but generally… this is what I’ve heard: Lucia was an Italian girl. For some reason or another, she was killed (and burned to death?!). Anyway, the holiday has something to do with the “bringing of light into the darkness.” Therefore, whatever girl is chosen to remember Saint Lucia must wear a crown of burning candles – light in the darkness!

I attended a Lucia Concert in one of the churches in downtown Stockholm… Swedish carols and Lucia songs were song by children from a prestigious city music school. The boys and girls both wear long white gowns. The boys wear white, pointy caps – some with stars on them. The girls wear red ribbons about their waists and green wreaths on their heads. Of course, Lucia wears the crown of candles – real burning candles a top her head! It’s pretty amazing. I have a few pictures… not too many, and they are a bit blurry (I didn’t want to use my flash in the early morning concert at the church), but still they can give you a sense of what I saw. I attended the concert with a group of girls who work at Fryshuset… they were all excited to go to the concert and celebrate the day in a traditional manner… of course they all had their own favorite songs that they remembered from childhood when they too were dressed up for the holiday. After the beautiful concert in the church at 7:30am, we grabbed some breakfast, then headed to Fryshuset to see the Lucia performance put on by the high school kids. This was more of a modern dance, hip-hop, rap show about the holiday. What would be expected of high schoolers!! Everyone has their own way of celebrating : )

That afternoon Erin and I were asked to coach a team of 11-year-old girls. That was really fun! Except, haha, they were so quiet! Before we started they were laughing and loud and just goofing around. As soon as we started coaching, you could hear a pin drop. Eventually we were able to get some of the girls talking and even joking around a bit. I really enjoyed our time with them. I couldn’t help thinking of when I was 11 and playing basketball… Mr. Bailey, Team Connecticut, Saona, Jess Allen, Brittany, pork and bean dinners on hotel roofs, Cheese Champs!!… lots of special memories : )

Let’s see… what else… been in lab a bit. No real updates there. Still good though. And, still thankful for everyday that I show up there, for the opportunity to be doing real research, and probably mostly for the chance to be working with and learning from such a diverse group of knowledgeable people.

Working on doing some Christmas shopping. Hope I can bring everything back through customs! Am getting excited to come home, though I wish I could snap my fingers and be all over other parts of the U.S. too!! Anybody have any suggestions on what I should do when I go to Grenada? I need to get some tour books for there and start doing some research! Yay yay yay.

Links to Pics:

13 December 2006


December 12, 2006 9:57pm

The last couple days have been pleasantly filled with basketball, coaching, working in lab, some Christmas shopping, and hanging out with friends. Yesterday, I went into lab early and successfully set-up some reactions. I was in lab by 8am… and, it was sooooo empty! The few times I’ve been there early before, there are at least some people in their already. I was pretty much the only one. I thought perhaps there was some holiday or vacation day that I just didn’t know about. Lol. Eventually people started to come in, so it all turned out ok ;) Ran off from lab to morning shooting practice… but, on the way to lab, Anders texted me and asked if I could coach the younger girls instead because he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it to practice. Ok. What else was I supposed to say?! No?! Even though I personally wanted to take the time and work on my shooting for myself, that would have been selfish; plus, I had lots of fun coaching the girls. Ever since I coached last Friday, it seems as though Anders wants to use me for coaching more and more. Last night at practice he asked me if I would coach again today if he couldn’t make it again… well, I had to say “no I have plans” – which of course was true, we had our lab’s Christmas party today (more on that later).

Anyway, basketball is going pretty well right now, though it is a bit frustrating too. Of course it’s fun to be playing and I’m grateful to be on a team here, but nothing will ever be the same as playing at Stanford. I shouldn’t compare – everything is so different – but, it’s hard not to think about the two. There are so many differences that it’s not really valuable to go into that, but I guess what is most frustrating generally is that you just want everyone to give the same value, effort, and priority to basketball now, as was done in college. Well, that just can’t happen. Some of my teammates have other jobs, others are playing purely for fun (with no future goal having to do with basketball), the coaches are responsible for multiple practices everyday, and it’s just a different level. Therefore, practices are not always that intense. Plus, now that we don’t have a game for close to a month, the focus is sort of lacking. Yesterday’s practice was an hour of basketball and an hour of strength training. Today, however, was perhaps one of the most competitive practices we’ve had since Erin and I have been here. That was great! I still wish we would play more 5-on5, more full court, do more running drills, and have more consequences to doing drills poorly (as motivation for everyone to be competitive and try really hard), but all-in-all it’s going well. I think we are a very good team, but I’m not so sure we know our roles. Oh, well. That really should be working itself out soon, as the regular season is about halfway through! Perhaps everyone, including the coaches, just needs a break (physical and mental) from basketball right now. We actually only have two more team basketball practices before going home for Christmas (with lots of workouts at Klubb Activ and shooting practice, in between); I think spacing out on-court practices will make us place a greater value on our time there. Wow, sorry for that little soapbox, guess though that I’ve just been feeling not completely at peace with how bball has been lately and wanted to share those thoughts… perhaps it is also related to not personally having a great last game before the Christmas break… whatever it is, I am looking forward to our workouts with José, the couple basketball practices we have before Christmas, and just generally spending more time with my teammates off-the-court too. With all the Christmas festivities and distractions, I guess it’s sort of a hard time for anyone to really focus this time of year. Let’s just have fun! That’s what the game is all about!!

Guess what I did today?! (well, I already mentioned it above… but it’s a totally traditional Swedish activity!). I attended a julbord smorgasbord!! Today was the Christmas party for the Department of Bacteriology at the Swedish Institute of Infectious Disease Control. Guess I joined just in time! ;) Felt kinda funny just joining the lab and now being invited to a rather extravagant little party, but they were all sure to make me feel welcome : ) The restaurant and spread of food was amazing! These julbord meals are very traditional, and the food selection is comprised of – wow – most everything! First of all, it’s buffet style and you use medium sized plates and go up to get food again and again and again (…). The first course is normally fish – salmon, herring, fish salads, fish pâté, sauces, and some bread, cheese, and veggies too. I wanted to try a bit of everything, but there were so many varieties that I couldn’t even fit a small bite of everything onto my plate! The next course (and which can be two or three trips up to the bord) consists of the meats – cold and warm. There is the traditional julskinka (Christmas ham), reindeer meat, veal, pork, meatballs, little holiday hot dogs, pâté, and more. All of this is accompanied by salads – mushrooms, pickles, beet salad… - and of course, the meat is served with lingonberries (the best part! I think). There were potatoes too, beans, some omelet-like entree, and more sauces to be eaten with bits of dark bread. Even though it seems as if the emphasis is on the fish and meat, I enjoyed some delicious asparagus, cauliflower (in some creamy sauce), and perfectly green snap peas. And, if you weren’t filled with all this delicious food after returning to the food tables again and again, well… then, there was the dessert spread. There were brownies, cookies, fried dough-like cookies, fudge, mousse (in lingonberry, vanilla, and chocolate), cream & strawberry pies, and more. I learned about “ice-chocolate” – a Swedish dessert that is sort of like fudge and absolutely melts in your mouth. Also, had my first real experience with glögg – it’s like red wine mixed with spices and sweetness… the way I can best describe it is to pretend you are “drinking in the holidays.” If you think of all the holiday smells and cheer, then imagine that in drink form… well, that’s pretty much glögg! You can have it without the alcohol too, but I think it’s pretty much expected to be taken with alcohol here in Sweden. I thought the stuff was ok and only had a few sips. On Friday afternoons in lab we have a “glögg party.” I’ve never been able to go because of having practice, but this Friday we don’t have an afternoon practice. Think I will try some more glögg with my labmates! Yay!!

Also did a bit of Christmas shopping today (primarily in Åhlens and Ikea – two completely Swedish staples)… though I am struggling to find Christmas decorations that I like enough that both are “Swedish” and are nice enough to bring all the way home. I still have a few places left to look, and am hopeful to find some stars, candle-sets, or tomtens (the Swedish equivalent to Santa). Maybe will go search some more Christmas markets : )

Tomorrow is Lucia Day!! I’m meeting some friends at 7am to go watch a procession or hear some carols. I’m excited to see what the holiday is all about and then to share it here too! Time now to go jump in the shower and then head to bed. Nighty night.

11 December 2006

Peppermint Bark & Nobel Day

December 10, 2006 5:31pm, 10:24pm

Won the game yesterday, so now our record is 9-2. I think we’re third in the rankings, but that could change depending if a team on the top loses a game before the Christmas break. We don’t have any games now until January, though some of the teams are not finished up yet. Malin and Maddy both had really good games; which was great! I’m so excited Malin did well… she’s a great player and just needed to make some shots to get her confidence back. Maddy is always solid and she helped us a lot by attacking the basket. I didn’t shoot so hot… never have at Fryshuset… don’t know why; I really like the gym. It’s my favorite actually! I just haven’t had a good game there yet; well, maybe for the playoffs! So anyhow, right now, a bit of a game hiatus – a whole month of no games!! We will continue to have basketball practice, morning shooting, and workouts at Klubb Activ, as well. I can only begin to imagine how ready we will be to play a game when that first one in January rolls around!! : )

Wow, right now as I type this I am watching the acceptance speeches of all the Nobel Prize winners. It’s Nobel Day here in Sweden! A really really really big deal (and deservedly, so!!). Is the event aired on television in the states? I hope so. It is awesome. So very inspiring. It’s amazing to think about the impact that these award winners have had on our world via all different subject areas… and to think of the combined effects from all the winners throughout history… wow wow wow. I wish I was at the ceremony in person, but watching it live on-tv (and being in the same time-zone) is pretty special too. I am filled with so much pride as the winners coming from Stanford give their speeches. And, I’m filled with inspiration to go out and make a difference!! May we all be blessed to accomplish only a bit of what these terrifically gifted individuals have contributed to science and humanity, as recognized by being winner of a Nobel Prize.

Anyhoo… make to real life – or at least, my not so impressive life (lol)!! Oh, but wait… I did get a package in the mail. That’s pretty big time ; ) Really though… THANKS ANNE!! The peppermint bark is delicious. I can’t decide if I should bring it to share with my team or labmates or perhaps I should just host a little party at my little apartment. I wish I could be at Stanford right now to see you and thank you in person!

Maybe it’s the nostalgia associated with the holidays or maybe it’s just that I’ve been away from my California home for over six weeks now, but whatever it is, I miss my friends and I miss my family. Don’t worry – I’m not depressed or anything like that at all – but, I definitely am missing people. I just have been so blessed with having absolutely AMAZING people in my life… and I don’t like being apart from everyone! I am very much enjoying meeting new people…. but it’s like that song I used to sing in Brownies: ‘Make new friends, but keep the old. One if silver and the other’s gold!’

Last night I had a chill night with a couple of my teammates. Just what I wanted! I’ve had fun going out a few times now, though sometimes – like last night – it’s nice just to watch a movie and chill. We rented a movie about a very well executed bank robbery and starring Denzel Washington as the detective on the case. Have you seen it? I forget the name (or really, the name on the cover of the dvd was probably written in Swedish, so I don’t know if I ever actually knew the name). Anyway, Denzel’s great to look at – as always! (even though he is getting obviously older) and the strategy of the robbery was quite intriguing.

Let’s see… today I went to church: twice! I went this morning to Immanuel International Church. Still very much enjoying the service there and the people I’m meeting. I invited Lily to meet me there… she is the girl I met at New Life Church and had lunch with a couple weeks back. I’m glad she came to church with me and I think she enjoyed the service too. Listen to this small world… I met a women there who’s sister-in-law went graduated from NFA. Crazy, huh?! (maybe I already blogged about this connection, but I am repeatedly impressed by this). Then, during fika after the service, Lily and I met a couple of people from the UK – both of whom came to Stockholm on short term work projects, but now both have been here for over five years each. One of the guys does consulting (I gave him my contact info because somehow we got talking about kids and babysitting – and he said he had some colleagues that have been looking for a babysitter… oh, maybe I will get to babysit a bit yet! I will not give up hope on getting to hang out with little kids!). The girl works in environmental policy-making… it was a bit unclear to me exactly was she does, even upon me asking more about her job, but regardless of how little I understood of what she was saying, sounds like she has a pretty interesting job – anything involved with environmental policy, I think, would be (ok, that was probably more detail than anyone cares to know). The other service I went to was Catholic Mass! Soooooo good – no, great! – to go to mass. I haven’t been to mass since back at Stanford in MemChu; it was absolutely wonderful to go to mass today. I don’t know why I didn’t research Catholic churches immediately when I arrived here. Oh, well – better late than never. I attended an English mass, though of course there are services in Swedish too. The presiding priest was newly ordained (as in, within the month) and many of the traditional prayers that we sung in mass were played to the same melodies I’ve sung many times before. The congregation here was also very diverse… I don’t think I could identify if there was even a “majority” ethnicity present. The diversity in every international service I’ve attended is one of the elements of worship here that impresses me the most. It’s quite awesome to be praising the same Lord, together with people from all over the world – and not just saying or singing that people from all over give praise to God, but to actually be doing it. Anyway, I think it’s very special and a true testament to the captivating power of Jesus Christ! Maybe I will continue going to church twice on Sundays… the morning service and evening mass are both very different and I love each for unique reasons. Well, I’ll be home for Christmas mass at St. Francis soon enough too!

What else what else… shopped a bit at some more Christmas markets today. I don’t really ever buy anything, though I love just walking around and seeing what it is that other people like to buy. Ventured on the red-line to the “Street” Market at Hornstulls Strand. The stands there were filled not only with jul-time gifts and yummy foods, but the artwork for sale – photography, paintings, beadwork, glasswork, pottery, and more – was beautiful to look at, as well. Additionally, the market was right on the water’s edge and the sun was setting (before 3pm!) while I was there. I tried to capture the magic of it with my camera, though I don’t think the pictures did it justice. I did meet a couple really nice guys at a chocolate stand though. The two guys were selling these fine, handmade chocolates – a family business – and one of them is studying to be a… what do you call it?... wine-guy. Pierre is really into the food and wine scene, while his brother or maybe just friend is studying to be a doctor. They want to come to a basketball game… well, they’re going to have to wait a while! Pierre let me have a chocolate though – I couldn’t decide which kind to choose, so I asked him for his opinion – I personally love dark chocolate, but he suggested I try their Christmastime, white-chocolate, saffron specialty. I’ve never had anything like it, but it really was some of the best chocolate I’ve had.

Well, I could probably go on about other little stories and the such, but my eyelids are getting heavy… going to curl up in my little covers so that I can get up early and go into lab! Want to set some PCR reactions about before shooting practice tomorrow morning. Wow, we’re almost halfway through Advent! Still waiting for the Best to be here!!

10 December 2006


December 8, 2006 11:00pm

I had a really good day today. Not exactly sure if any one thing made it really good, but it just was. Perhaps it started because I woke up pretty early (7am) to get into lab and do some work there before going to coach. I love being up in the morning. I’ve been out of the habit of getting up very early here… but, as I walked along the streets in the dark morning light with the chilly air I just start smiling. I also can’t help but think of when I used to wake up much earlier in the morning and do a whole bunch of stuff before even heading off to LMS. Of course, part of me just wants to curl up in bed and go back to sleep, but I guess maybe I’ll do that when I’m home for Christmas. It was really fun to be in lab early and just be in that environment with others who really care about what they’re doing too. I seem to love being in lab early in the morning, late at night, or on the weekends (though I’m not granted access to the building at most of those times – it is secure government property – so I guess it’ll have to do for now to be there in the sorta early morning, not the very early!).

Perhaps the day was so good because I had the chance to coach… and really do whatever I wanted with the girls. Anders had to attend some meeting, so he asked Erin and I to coach the “basketball class” for a group of young high-schoolers. I guess I was supposed to be the head coach today and Erin the assistant ; ) – we’ll probably switch next week! The girls were super cute… they worked really hard, did whatever we asked of them, and looked very enthusiastic and excited to be working with us. It was so easy to coach them and do drills with them because they wanted to be there and truly looked like they were enjoying themselves. Hopefully they had as good a time as I did!

Erin and I ate lunch with Patrice and Erik (two guys that work in the club office upstairs). Patrice is Dutch. He says my name sounds German (Rappahahn, that is). Or maybe Finnish. Finnish? I think German before Finnish, but what do I know; where are the historians in the Rappahahn family?! : ) Erin had some meat and potatoes; I had a fish burger. The food at the café is really tasty. The restaurant is actually known (or at least written about/reviewed) as being a “hot spot” to go and eat. Lucky for us that it’s so convenient to eat there.

Headed back into lab this afternoon. Ran a gel to test the PCR reactions I had set-up. Not super successful… need to do more reactions… but, thankfully Aaron is so helpful! He really is a great teacher and always makes sure I understand everything, especially the big picture of what we’re up too. It sometimes is easy to get caught up in tiny details or just the procedures of how certain experiments are set-up; he makes sure I understand the reason behind everything and their importance. I am very thankful for this.

Another highlight of being in lab is being able to “chat” with Grammie. She had me smiling from ear to ear today!! (and pretty much everyday that I exchange emails with her too!). It just works out that she’s online at home in CT, when I’m online in lab. Though we aren’t technically “chatting,” we exchange emails impressively quickly. It’s cool to think that even though we’re across the Atlantic Ocean, we can be thinking of each other and communicating at exactly the same time! Thanks Grammie for all your love and support. God is Great!!

Practice was pretty chill tonight… nothing spectacular, just a good practice. The best player on the team we are playing tomorrow is injured (some sort of foot problem), so we won’t be seeing her in the game (so says some reporter that Anders talked to). That’s a disappointment. I really wanted to see her play and to play against her! Lily, one of the girls I met at the first church I went to here, is coming to the game tomorrow. Yay, someone to put on the guest list!

Tonight Erin and I ate dinner together in the café at the club again; then we watched “21 Grams” using my dvd player and tv. My dvd player only plays European (type 2) dvds, so all the dvds I brought from home, well I can only watch those on my computer (which works fine, but sometimes it’s nice to watch movies on a slightly bigger screen). Anyway, have you seen the movie? Sorta intense, but very interesting. Sad. I would recommend it. I think the actors do a super job. Glad Erin came to watch it with me; I think I would have been lost, confused, and perhaps left feeling a bit uneasy if I didn’t have the company. Right now I have the European Women’s Handball Championships on my tv, but will go to bed soon.

Oh, last thing. When I returned home tonight, after having been gone since 7:30 this morning, I had a small pile of mail. The Stanford Fund found me all the way in Sweden! But then I had some really fun mail too…. a Christmas card from Laura and her mom (cute pic Laura!), a note from Grammie (so funny you should send those pics; I was just telling Erin tonight about how much fun I had at the last wedding I went to!), letter from Wes (thanks; sorry the first one was lost, maybe it will turn up eventually?!), and a slip to pick up a package (will check into that tomorrow, yay!). Anyway, great way to be greeted after being gone all day… the mail really means a lot to me. Thank you for everyone who has taken the time to right me a note or send me a kind word. My apartment is decorated with the letters, cards, newspaper clippings, and pictures you send. Thank you. Thank you!!

Last basketball game of 2006 tomorrow. We need to win to put ourselves in the best place possible heading into the Christmas break. We will be tied for first with a win tomorrow. Anders wants to celebrate Christmas with us being in first place; me too. Good night.

08 December 2006


December 7, 2006 10:28pm

Wow, in two weeks I’m going to be all packed up to come home for Christmas! Time is moving so quickly. We already are down to only one more game in 2006! Of course, we don’t play a game for a whole month (game break from Dec 10th to Jan 7th)… but to think that we’re approaching the midway point of our regular season is pretty hard for me to believe. Guess it just means I’m enjoying my time here : )

Last night we played at Eskilstuna. The city is about an hour-and-a-half bus ride away. We traveled on a pretty nifty coach bus that had two stories and a neat little (or rather large) lounge area both upstairs and downstairs. We (the players) all hung upstairs, while the coaches were downstairs. I knitted for most of the ride there and also listened to my teammates talk in Swedish. Lol. I try to understand what they’re saying… sometimes I think I understand pretty well, but other times I’m very much clueless. It’s fun to try to figure it out, though. I’m glad they speak in Swedish to each other, cause they will of course speak in English if need be, but it’s more fun for me when they speak their language!

When we arrived… about two hours before game time… Anders sent us on a walk. Going for a walk, outside in the cold, before the game?! That’s what Erin and I thought the first time we heard of this, but it’s quite common here. If teams have a flight or substantial bus ride before a game, once they arrive everyone goes for a pretty good walk (like up to 30 mins) out and around the arena. It sounds kinda strange compared to pregame routines in America, but I really liked it last night. The cool air is refreshing, plus we get a chance to see a bit more of the cities we travel to (than we would otherwise see if we just went from the bus to the gym). Last night, we walked through this old little village – a bunch of small, red, barn-like houses and shops organized into an old-fashioned looking mini-town. I don’t really know the purpose of this collection of small houses, but it was kinda fun to stroll through there and look into the windows. The main street area was very pretty as well because it was all lit up with Christmas lights! All in all, the walk was a very nice pregame warm-up.

Eskilstuna, the team we played, is in the bottom half of the standings, though they do have a very capable American – Cisty Greenwalt (I may have spelled that wrong… but she played with Erin at Texas Tech and then some in the WNBA too). Well, we won 90-60. We didn’t start out great, but grabbed the lead soon enough. Anders played everyone a good chunk of time – everyone scored and everyone played between 12 and 22 minutes. Erin and I started the second half, but never went back in once we were subbed out early in the third quarter … began to remind me a bit of high school… how there were so many games then that some of us only played about a half of the time! Overall, it was a really good game to get everyone’s confidence up and provide “game experience” (as Tara would say) for everyone!

Today I was into lab by 8:30, then had an appointment to have my new orthotics fit into my basketball shoes, went back into lab for the afternoon, and finally had practice tonight at 7pm. Aaron, the American researcher at Smittskyddinstitutet that has generously accommodated me into the lab and taught me so much already, returned today after being gone to Israel with his wife and young son for the past week. Along with some very sweet desserts he brought back to share with the lab from old-town Jerusalem, he shared some very interesting stories about the trip. His mother-in-law is pretty high up in an organization called Seeds of Peace, and she was able to set-up some awesome tours for Aaron’s visit there. I know so little about the history and even current events of the area, but the little I do know just makes me want to learn more about it. As Aaron was sharing some stories, I just kept thinking how blessed we are and wondering how even to imagine the hate, love, and conflict that the different groups of people experience in the Middle East. Hard stuff. Anyway, I was quite interested in hearing the experience of an American just returned from visiting there… made me want to go and see the place for myself. Who knows… maybe I’ll play basketball there next year?!

Time for me to go to bed now because I want to set-up some reactions in lab early tomorrow before Erin and I report to Fryshuset to coach some younger girls in the mid-morning. Those of you who are Grey’s watchers, how was it? Don’t tell me what happened, though. I’ll download it soon! God natt.

05 December 2006


December 5, 2006 15:37

Sitting in lab again! Incubating a strain of bacteria in hopes that they will take up a bit of DNA I’m inducing them to incorporate into their genome. I’m trying to make a mutant strain so that I can test what happens when a certain gene is deleted. After the incubation period I am going to spread the bacteria on a blood agar plate and hope that some transformants grow. I hope it works; I’ve never done this before!

This morning we had shooting practice and tonight practice again. We won’t get to see the guys’ game because we practice at the same time as they play. They’ve had 3 games in 5 days, and we haven’t had any games for close to 10 days! Crazy. Needless to say, I am very excited for the game tomorrow!

I mailed in my application to be a Summer Cara at Barretstown Camp in Ireland. The website for the camp is From exploring the website and talking to a doctor who has volunteered at the camp for a number of years, the camp seems to be a place that I would just love to be. I hope they will offer me a spot on their team, if not though… that’s ok. God knows what’s best.

What else… I borrowed a dvd from the Stadsbiblioteket yesterday and watched it last night. Called “The Company,” the dvd was all about ballet with very little dialogue, though the dialogue that did occur was in English and subtitles were in Swedish. I love to watch ballet, so it was interesting to see. Plus, watching a movie provides time to knit as well : ) Tonight Grey’s Anatomy is on television here… episodes from the second season. I most likely will watch that after I get home from practice. I don’t actually watch that much TV at all, rather I’m still enjoying to read. Right now I am reading “Charming Billy” by Alice McDermott. Anybody ever read it?

Not really any more updates from over here. I’m beginning to fall into more of a routine with practice, labwork, and other exciting in-between events. Of course still very thankful to be here and still too looking forward to some visitors sometime : ) Hej då!

04 December 2006

Eventful 24 hrs

December 3, 2006 3:15am

A rainy Saturday, but a cheerful Satur-night! Worked out this morning at Klubb Activ, then walked around Slussen for a bit with Jas and Malin. It’s all holiday bustle here, as I am sure it is at home as well. I ventured into an Advent Bazaar at one of the Swedish churches, didn’t find much of anything particular, but it was sorta fun to go to a rummage-like sale in another country! Had a pretty chill afternoon… watched Grey’s Anatomy and took a nap too.

Tonight Jasmina, Erin, Jenny, Maddy, Martina, Giovanna, and I met up with Malin at Ropsten and headed to her house to hang out. We grabbed pizza for dinner and then played some games. We all were invited to a Christmas party at a certain club in Stockholm, the only condition being that you have to wear red. I wore my new black dress with a red belt. Maddy and Martina wore black shirts/dresses with red belts too. Jas had a red dress with a black belt. I guess you could say that belts are pretty “in” here! After hanging out at this club for a while, a few of us headed out looking for another place to go dancing. We were about to head to the T for home when we were wondering around Őstermalm and literally ran into Putte (our assistant coach). Then, along came Landry, some other coaches from Alvik, and Anders too. Kinda strange to be out and run into your coaches. We were all headed to “East” – one of the most popular night-life spots of Stockholm. We were able to get in right away (despite very long line!) because one of the security people at Fryshuset also worked at this club. Lauren and some other girls from Söder Basket were there. I hadn’t seen Lauren in a while (come to find out, she had gone back to the States for Thanksgiving to visit her family), but it was rally great to see her. Perhaps she will come to the men’s game tomorrow with some of us. Anyway, it was a really fun night hanging out with so many of my teammates and I had fun “feeling cute” too. I know that clothes and looks don’t matter, but every once in a while I enjoy an occasion to get dressed up and go out looking pretty : )

Will be time for church soon, so time to get some sleep (I slept for 11 hours last night… isn’t that terrific! I think that’s why I’m still up ;) ).

December 3, 2006 3:09pm, 8:43 pm

Wonderful, wonderful December morning. Attended the 11:15 service at Immanuel Church and had a wonderful worship time. It being the first Sunday of Advent, the day is special anyway, but I always love the lighting of that first candle and then the teaching that almost always has to do with waiting and hope. The music was fun and energetic, and though the pastor can seem a bit quiet sometimes, the message he gave was presented very well. Today was the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve been at a service with Communion, so that was extremely special as well. After the service, I met some other members of the congregation during fika. Maria and Susan were both Swedish women married to men from other parts of the world (India and somewhere in Africa, I think), so they had begun coming to the international services instead of the usual Swedish service. It was very interesting to hear the differences between the two and why, now, they prefer the international community… mostly it seems it is for the diversity, energy, and enthusiasm with which makes up the community. Another woman I sat with grew up in Kenya, but has been in Stockholm for the past 16 years. She did graduate work and received her doctorate here in bilingual studies. She now teaches, as do the other two women. And no, I didn’t only sit with females. The other guys at the table were from different parts of Africa, but from what I could tell, had been in Sweden for a little bit now. One of them taught me a special tradition involving pepparkakor. I’ll show you when I come home. I also met this guy Chris, he’s from Minnesota and has been in Stockholm for four years after finishing seminary in the States. He let me know about the Young Adult fellowship group that meets… so, if practice doesn’t conflict, I would like to try to meet some more folks, as well. All in all, week two at Immanuel Church proved to be even better than the first. Praise God : )

This afternoon I headed into Gamla Stan to find the Christmas markets. Oh, it was beautiful. If there had been snow on the ground it would have been absolutely picture perfect, but it was still so picturesque and enjoyable even without that blanket of white. All the little stands were wooden and painted a barn-color red. There were stands with food, stands with toys, stands with chocolate, stands with homemade goods, and stands with… if you could only ever shop at these Christmas markets, I bet you could find something for everyone on your list!

Today I also visited the Swedish Horse Museum… it’s really just a tiny museum connected to a store located adjacent to the market, but nevertheless, I’d been wanting to go to this museum (and it happens to fill my quota for this week of museum attendance). Turns out the collection of wooden horses was pretty interesting, though as much as I enjoyed looking at the horses themselves, I loved reading about their history. The Dala Horse is that traditional looking, wooden cut, red horse that has come to be a pretty traditional souvenir gift from Sweden. One of the museum placards explained why Swedes may have had a particular affinity for horses… “Swedes were stubborn, hardworking and grumpy as their horses, independent and not always of the same opinion of the King… the horse was a symbol of free spirit.” Doesn’t that paint a beautiful picture, bringing into focus the relationship between a Swede and his horse? Anyway, the first wooden horses were made back in the 1700s, but only a few remain from those early times because it was not uncommon then to actually burn (or just get rid of) the handcrafted horses after some time. It wasn’t really until the World Fair in NYC in 1939, at which time some of the horses were brought to the United States that these little pieces of wood were seen more as a form of art and then they grew in popularity and value. Today there are artists who continue to handcraft the wooden horses and paint them in similar styles as crafters did a couple hundred years ago. I’m not exactly sure why I find these little wooden horses so intriguing, but perhaps it is because I feel like there must be a story attached to each one.

This evening Erin and I went to watch the men play at Akropol. Eeek. We won, but a sort of mob happened in the last minute of the game. Akropol is in the “ghetto” of Stockholm. One of their fans, a middle-aged man, jumped over the railing (that separates fans on the second-level from the game on the court below) and rushed the court. He was upset at a gesture that one of the 08 men’s players made. He had to be restrained, but all the home fans became very fired up. There was threatening comments made and coins, cans, and plastic chew containers were thrown on the court. A set of the 08 fans, including Erin and I, as well as the entire men’s team and coaching staff had to wait around in the building for quite some time after the game until the crowds’ drum-playing and rallying wore down. There were tons of kids that were super into it. That was kind of scary for me because why should these kids be all angry and feel the need to get-back-at the other team after a loss? Anyway, it was quite a strange event that happened… strange especially because we’re in Sweden and everything, at least for the vast majority of the time, is very safe and docile. Eventually, we were escorted by police to the parking lot. We all made it out safe thankfully, though I’m not sure anything would really have happened. Anyway, let’s just be glad it all turned out alright. Hopefully that was the first and last time we’ll be a part of something like that.

Don’t worry anyone, it was still a terrific day and I’m still smiling!

02 December 2006

Dec 1

December 1, 2006 9:32pm

Wow, I feel like I’ve been everywhere! And, everywhere I go I can be sure to see at least one of two things… either a Swedish Christmas star hanging in the windows or a traditional Swedish Christmas candle set. I’m sure there is a name for the later of the decorations, but close to every window has one in it. There are either five or seven candles (or light bulbs if the candles aren’t real!) that forms a pyramid of light. Supposedly they are a very typical Swedish decoration, so much so that you are pretty much expected to have one in you window. Guess I’m not holding up my end of the bargain right now!

So back to today… this morning I went into lab and everything there ran smoothly. Aaron is gone with his family to Israel on a weeklong vacation, so I am now relying on everyone else in the lab for help. That’s really good though because it forces me to ask other people for help and to get to know more and more people in lab. It never ceases to amaze me how nice and helpful people here are. They again invited me to their weekend holiday-Glogg celebration on Friday afternoons during the winter season, but I couldn’t make it because of practice. Maybe we’ll have a Friday off on one of these December days so that I can join in this tradition as well.

Aeroboxed with Jasmina at noon. Really, you have to try this! You leave with exhausted muscles but refreshed mind. I always feel such a pleasant mix of sore and energized when I finish one of these workouts. Tomorrow our whole team is going to the fitness club, but I think we’re doing more of a core workout. We’ll soon see.

This afternoon I met up with Maddy and Martina to go shopping downtown. The two of them confronted me the other day… just kidding, not so much confronted as they just approached me all excited and wondered if I would go shopping with them. For the longest time (well, I guess since I got here), Maddy’s been wanting to take me around to learn about all the best places to buy clothes. She’s so cute. I love her! So anyway, we met up at T-centralan and headed off. We started at H&M. Oh, and I should add, the motive of the trip was to get an outfit for the Christmas party most of our team is going to tomorrow evening. We were invited to this party at a club/bar place and the only requirement for entry (I think) is to wear something red. I figured I would just wear jeans and then find a red shirt today while looking around. Oh, no! Thanks to Maddy and Martina’s styling expertise, tomorrow I will be wearing a black dress with a cute red belt along with some black heels (I had already bought the shoes). If I must say, the outfit is pretty cute; they did a great job picking it out. Hey, maybe I’ll even bring it home and sport it for some Christmas party there too. Also, they talked me into buying a real nice black peacoat-like jacket – with unique buttons and good lines. That was a practical purchase too though… I’ve just been wearing vests around and people are always asking me, “aren’t you cold?!” After making our purchases we glanced at my watch… shoot! Time to get to practice. We grabbed a sandwich at Sandy’s – it’s this American-style sub shop that’s quite tasty (it was my first time there, but Erin is a rather frequent visitor I think), and then headed to practice.

Practice was as early as it ever is – started at four, and that was because there was a big men’s game tonight. We had a really good practice… worked on our motion offense and zone press. We haven’t played a game since last Saturday and now we don’t play until Wednesday – pretty big break. The team workout at the fitness club tomorrow will be good to mix up the routine.

So… tonight… my teammates and I were models! Sort of : ) We were in a fashion show!! One of our sponsors is a designer clothing outlet (maybe I already blogged about this, if so… sorry; I can’t remember) and the store wanted us to model clothes at halftime of the game. It was really really fun. Some of my teammates were so nervous, but it was really pretty chill. I was like laughing the whole time! I wore my hair in pigtails and loved wearing the red rubber boots with monkeys on them. Maddy did my make-up too. I hope we might get more people to come to the store; that was the point of us modeling I think.

Of course aside from our little halftime modeling gig, we watched the men play. They had a very disappointing loss against our biggest rivals, Solna. Solna (the team Charmin played for when she was here) is just on the other side of Stockholm. We lost to the girl’s team (our only loss since Erin and I have been here) and the guy’s team lost to them last week. Tonight was our chance (or, more accurately, the guy’s chance) to get back at those Vikings and beat them on our home court. Well, it didn’t exactly happen. Very close right until the end though; I think we lost by three points. We better beat them when we play them on our home court!

So, it was a good day. All over the place, like I said earlier, and now I’m ready for a good night sleep. Tomorrow night we have that Christmas party… and it’ll be fun to get all dressed up and go out. Really though, I just like being with my teammates. I love them more and more whenever I get to spend time with them.

How was your first day of Advent?

01 December 2006

Full Month Gone

November 30, 2006 8:32pm

Wow, last day of November! How can that be so?! Today while I was sitting at my desk in lab and waiting for one of my reactions to be finished, I thought I would update my blog since I hadn’t written in a while. Well, I wrote this long, thoughtful blog about what it’s like to actually be living in a foreign country versus just visiting, but – alas! – when I pushed “post,” the computer messed up and I lost my writing. Arrgh. So now it’s later in the day and I’m not so thoughtful… so, you’ll just have to get what you get ; )

Tonight Erin, Malin, and I went to a photo studio to get our basketball pictures taken; the three of us weren’t here when the rest of the team was photographed before the season started. The photos will probably me up on the website soon (, or at least the headshots, so take a look if you want.

This week I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in the lab and, thankfully, my project is moving along rather nicely at this point. It’s a pretty neat experience to be able to do research in different countries because the similarity of methods and techniques translates across all languages. Science is science, right? Well, it really is. For instance, today I had to purify some PCR products and I used the same exact set of reagents and protocol as I did when in the Schrijver Lab at Stanford. Now this isn’t a huge surprise, but it sort of goes to show how given the same language (here, the language of “science”) people from all over the world really can work together in a tangible sense on the same exact projects. About half the lab is Swedish, a large chunk is German, there’s an Australian, and now I’m the second American. Everyone does speak English, but everyone also has the desire to pursue research that translates across all languages – we all want to hopefully make some headway in effective vaccine development, bacteria epidemiology, and other tiny steps towards someway, somehow improving the general well-being of humans. It makes me so happy to look around the floor I work on, the building, or even the campus, and to think that all these people are working to better the lives of people around the globe. It’s powerful stuff and genuinely a fun experience to be a part of!

My trip between the gym and lab or between my apartment and lab involves taking the T-bana for about ten minutes and then a bus for the other half of the trip. On the way home today on the bus, our driver didn’t stop at a station where a man was waiting for the bus. There was lots of traffic, another bus right there, and well – I don’t exactly know why he didn’t stop. The guy that was waiting for the bus got very upset. He rushed up to the moving bus, banged on the window, and demanded entrance. The bus-driver just kept saying nej, nej, nej, nej! We had a green light, but the man outside the bus walked to the front of the bus and just stood there holding his bus ticket in his hand. The light was green and he was standing in front of the bus! By now the bus driver and man were beyond upset, but the bus driver didn’t give in. Eventually the man stormed away and the bus continued on. This was the first time in my over a month of being here that I’ve seen any sort of outward display of anger. People here are generally very pleasant, perhaps a bit quiet and reserved compared to most Americans, but overall are very considerate. It honestly shocked me to see this display today and I think, as I looked around the inside of the bus, many passengers were a bit shocked or confused as well. At least it was a busy time of day, so another bus should have been very close behind for the man that missed our bus.

What else… oh, I know. I brought my biochemistry book over to here because, though I never could fit biochemistry into my schedule at Stanford due to practice and other necessary classes, I thought I might study the book myself throughout my time here. Today I was sitting in lab reading the book, when I felt compelled to explain to Aaron why I was just sitting there reading a biochem book. After all, it’s not particularly easy reading (at least not for me) and not something that most people would just start reading. Well, this conversation led into a great discussion between Aaron and I about developing the “personal side of medicine.” Biochem may be interesting and necessary to understanding how certain systems in our bodies work, but it is really how doctors treat the whole person that matters to the patient. So, Aaron suggested some stories written by physicians that I might like to read. For these suggestions, I am so thankful. I LOVE reading books by doctors. I love reading about their patients. I love reading about human interaction and how often it is the doctor that seems to receive even more therapy from the patient than the other way around. I love reading stories about death, dying, suffering, surviving, living, and thriving! This is the spectrum right… and we all, at some time will experience it all. That’s the human condition. And, I think it’s amazing how we all work together to pull people through it. One of the most influential classes I took at Stanford, taught by Larry Zaroff, taught about this personal, human side of medicine. So, I guess I may lay off the biochem a little bit and start reading more of these stories that I really want to be reading. I’m working on building an wish list of books I want to read and I’m excited to get started.

Think some Adam Sandler movie is coming on TV now and that means it’ll be a good time to knit too… so good night for now. Happy end to November! Happy start to December!!