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.