Saturday, March 18, 2006


Vacationing without company is always an adventure! So I'm not the kind of person who necessarily needs to go soul-searching in India or travel to countries with dangerous animals roaming around to find it exciting. Just deciding on a destination and a not so sure way of getting there can be thrilling enough for me. Not to speak about moving to a place without knowing anyone there. That's an adrenaline kick right there! But that's a totally different story as well.

When I moved back to Sweden in 2000, I took the bus to work in the beginning. One of the first co-workers I talked to on the bus told me about skiing in the Italian Alps. Not too cold, sun, snow, good food and wine. Every thing a person can ask for in other words! Since that moment, I have wanted to go skiing in Italy. I took my negotiation final on Tuesday and hopped o a plane to Milan on Wednesday. Almost missed the plane though. That's nearly as much of a tradition for me as having to re-pack my luggage at the check-in counter due to overweight...

Prejudice as I am, I got pleasantly surprised with how accommodating, helpful and internet savvy the Italians are. Even the taxi drivers want you to e-mail them the booking of a cab rather than calling.

I knew I had to get from the airport to the central station. Due to an "incident" the day before: no trains where leaving the airport, only buses. It sounded so mysterious with "incident"! What if there had been a bomb threat or other scary things?!

The train ride from Milan to Chatillon-Sant Vincent took less than three hours including one change of trains. It was inexpensive, clean and empty. Apparently I had missed to stamp my ticket in Milan, so I got a friendly lecture from the conductor (or what ever you call the guy checking tickets). He had his lip pierced ad lots of jewellery everywhere. He was not very good at English and I know like two words of Italian, but I think I know what I should have done in Milan. Well next time then!

For some reason they only have one tiny sign at each station that tells the name of it. It was close to midnight and pitch black outside. I know my station was coming up so I took my luggage and jumped off the train trying to find out what station I was at. I see the conductor at the other end of the train, running towards me. I grab my bag and meet up with him half way. Sure enough: this was not the correct station. Phew! I would have hated being stranded in the middle of no ware in a strange country at midnight!

My cab was waiting at the correct station and took me the one hour drive to the hotel. They had left the door open for me and left a big note with my name on it and my keys at the counter. Loving this trusting environment!

Next morning it was time for me to rent skis. The guy at the rental shop had friends in Sweden so I got a "svenska flicka" (=Swedish girl) discount. I'm just hoping he wasn't referring to the un called for bad rep that Swedish girls have around the world. The Swedish bikini team weren’t even Swedish for crying out loud! But who cares at this point. I got a good price on my skis.

I know these hour-glass shaped skis are supposed to be a little shorter than the old straight shaped skis, but when I took the first gondola ride I realised they had given me a pair of midget skis. What's up with that?! So I'm not an expert skier or anything, but my old skis are 203s and I'm not going to dork around on some measly 150ies! I changed them to a pair of longer and stiffer skis. Felt much better...

During the days I skied in both Italy and Switzerland. The sun has been strong and I have a total skier's tan. You know when you just look dirty because only parts of your face are tanned and NOTHING below the chin. It's not attractive, but it will be there as a reminder of my vacation long after I'm back home.

The outdoor life makes me so hungry! The other people at my hotel must think I have some eating disorder or something the way I pig out at every meal. We get four courses for dinner. I always choose the heartiest ones. With red wine ofcourse! All this food and wine after a long day of skiing makes me pass out right after dinner. What a party person I am...

People are not as talkative here amongst skiers as I am used to from Tahoe, California. Some lift rides have been quiet even! Maybe because there are so many different nationalities that ski here. We don't have a common language to use. No one seams to understand my "pretend Italian", but at least I try!

I do have dinner and a guided tour via motorcycle lined up next time I go to Rome. This Italian guy - Sandro - read my palm on the way up in one of the longer lifts and gave me his card. Guy's total lack of self-critique always takes me by surprise! It's charming in a cute kind of way. If I had half the self esteem most guys have, I would be running some big public company by now! But then again, when Sandro read my palm it turns out that I don't have a "luck line" (he showed me what it's supposed to look like), I have a powerful line of some other sort instead. He told me that I have the power to make my own reality. Not sure if that is a good way of expressing it. It's translated from Italian, to English, to Swedish, to English. But anyway, I understood what he meant. And it's funny because that's how I view it myself: we are all responsible for our lives. That's what makes it so devastating when things don't turn out the way I want them. I only have myself to blame. I have met people who always have an explanation as to why things went wrong. They always feel like it's someone else’s fault. I loath that reasoning and I will never marry a man like that again! But on the other hand, those people must have it a little bit easier though. Maybe they sleep well at night because they can't change anything, so why worry? Not sure. But I know I'm not one of them and apparently my palm is even supporting this! It's a curse and a blessing: I have the power to change the way I live if I want to and if I have the strength. Cause God knows that you have to be strong if you're not lucky!

Monday, March 06, 2006


Will I need a twelve step program? I am a workaholic; a true job-junkie. How do I know this? Ever since my Silicon Valley period I’ve been working 24-7. My job has been my number one priority. In Sweden we have 5-6 weeks of paid vacation per year and the Department of Health as well as labor organizations are recommending that you take at least four consecutive weeks, and I never have. Even though I know the way I work has affected my health, I’m still doing it. Isn’t that just what addicts do? Keep going even though they know it’s damaging and they put the substance before everything else in this life. Well that’s me. Or was until today…

Today is my first day between jobs! People around me have been asking how it feels to leave my job and almost seamed worried that I will have withdrawal symptoms or something. And surprisingly enough, after just one last fix, I managed to quit cold turkey. Besides being exhausted from my ear-inflammation and working 24-7 for my last week at the office – I feel nothing. A bit euphoric maybe. Quite a lot actually! And here I thought I had an addictive personality (not in the sense of people being addictive to me that is…), and it turns out that I can quit my biggest addiction just like that! What a relieve! And here I’ve been refusing to try anything stronger than Marlboro lights in fear of never being able to quit. Besides alcohol ofcorse. I manage that by sticking to the rule “never drink alone” as well as forcing myself to leave a glass even if it’s not empty. That way I can justify getting shit-faced with my friends every weekend! Could be time to get that life insurance at a good rate and then start doing some new stuff! Or maybe not ;-)

One of the exercises we did today at the Improvisation Theater class was that three people where sitting in a row. The middle person was the boss and the people beside her/him where employees. The boss was mad because of something the employees had done. As soon as the boss looked at one employee, the other one was supposed to make faces behind the bosses back. The exercise is called two-faced (I think that’s the right translation for “ögontjänare”), and the group was very impressed with how many faces I could make. I didn’t know I had it in me! Maybe that was just what I needed to get rid of my addiction; an outlet?

It’s so exiting to have time off! After tomorrow I won’t even have a computer. I’ll be homeless in cyber-space. That might cause some major withdrawals though. Not being able to check my bank account, not reading e-mails or looking what’s new on blogs around the world. Time to just experiencing here and now. Every person I meet is real and has a story to tell. Feel pain and pleasure in every day life. Being average is so underrated. I’m going to strive towards “normal” (what ever that is…). That’s what I’m going to do these two weeks. It’s like meditation where you are sensing each feeling as it comes to you. I think I might get addicted to vacation!