The Dizzel charm


When someone tells me – and that happens – “Let’s go to the Old town!” I instantly have these horror scenarios of the infamous Bolkerstraße before my inner eye: bachelorette parties parading in silly costumes, drunk village youth staggering on the cobble stone and one beer and burger place next to the other.

But today, my co-worker took us all to Hausmann’s which is on the other side of the Old Town and which is in such a charming location that it partly reminded me of my childhood days in Heidelberg-Neuenheim. We were there for our intern’s farewell dinner – he is already leaving and it makes us sad. Luckily, he’s still here for two more days, helping us with the jubilee celebrations, but we decided to already do all the goodbye stuff today because we won’t have a moment of peace for the next 53 hours, that’s for sure.

My first work duty tomorrow morning is to buy helium balloons with the intern, something I have been looking forward to for months now.If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for helium balloons. I will buy a large 1 and a large 5 and maybe some more. It will be a wonderful shopping spree!


Today, we drank to our intern and gave him some goodbye presents, among them a ‘letter of reference’ in which I among other things wrote, “Han visade även upp sin utomordentliga researchförmåga när han efter bara några veckor upptäckte handledarens privata blogg och bidrog till att alla kollegor på kontoret nu kan delta i Helens liv i bild och text” and “Kollegorna misstänker att han egentligen har skickats hit av Region Skåne då han har jobbat väldigt aktivt med upplysning om södra Sverige. Kollegorna fick ta del av utförlig information om både kultur, historia och det skånska språket”. We’re going to miss him!

After the first bottle of sparkling wine literally exploded in my co-worker’s hand, we found another one that we safely opened, thus preparing for the singing rehearsal I forced the other to have. At the jubilee dinner, we will – of course – be singing songs and we don’t all know all songs so we practiced a little. Our assistant who has just started learning Swedish was very sceptical and when we introduced a song as the national anthem, failing to mention that it was just the melody of the anthem, she said, “Am I getting this wrong or is the anthem seriously about ‘cola and rum’?!”

Yesterday was the big Pax day. I had to work from home because the Pax builders were supposed to arrive some time between 7 am and 2 pm. I could not sleep that night because I was so excited and after a while I wondered if I was crazy because I cared so much about a piece of Ikea furniture. My friend Emily reassured me though, “A PIECE OF LIFE CHANGING FURNITURE!”, she texted, in caps. Working in a home office in a living room completely full of clothes and shoes was quite special. And now I own a Pax! Everything is orderly and even has lightning. It makes me as happy as helium balloons!

Del 8 i random-citat-från-jobbet-samlingen

“Jag behöver få vatten i mig. Jag känner mig som en vissen blomma.”

“Ebba von Sydow är gravid!!!” – “Jag vet, jag hörde redan från kollegan att det var det första du sa när du kom in på jobbet imorse.”

“Bara i Tyskland har de en karatär på barnteve som är ett deprimerat bröd”. – “Vi har ju snippan och snoppen…” “Det är för att vi är moderna!”






My new maternal cousin’s tiny hands

When I was little, my mom completed her degree dissertation and I vividly remember a party where friends asked her about it and she said something along the lines of, “Let me get my baby”, then fetching the book. A five-year-old desperate for a younger sibling, I felt kind of fooled.

This weekend, I got to meet my new baby cousin. He is adorable, has triangular toe nails and might just be the calmest baby ever. He didn’t cry at all even when we had to pull three tight pieces of baby garment over his head. “Are you going to have kids soon?” his older sister asked me. If I didn’t have the feeling of being fooled still in me, I might have said, “Oh, I already have one” – because the jubilee we’re currently preparing is kind of like my baby. A project very close to my heart. It is also like a baby in terms of being much more labor-intensive than originally imagined. Luckily, I have three motivated co-workers who willingly support me in all we have to do, be it taping table cloths to tables, using personal relations to ensnare the local media or handwriting dozens of placement cards. Plus the chairperson of the juniors who despite not being on site yet is a great partner in crime. Yesterday, I decided that she had to be the one getting the fresh rolls in the morning (because to keep costs low for the participants, we do almost everything ourselves).I emailed her, “I have just named you roll responsible, I hope you feel honored”. She replied, “That’s perfect, I’ve studied 20 credit points of ‘dough-based foods acquisition’ at university, so I feel I am up to the task”. It’s a pleasure working with qualified candidates!

As if there was not enough to think of with a list of very detailed and complicated logistics for this event, my Pax is moving in tomorrow. That was the date Ikea could offer and you don’t say no to Ikea. My friend Britta lent me her wardrobe for almost a year now and as she’s about to leave for Canada for a while, she didn’t need it back. The Pax barely fits into my bedroom but two wardrobes definitely can’t be in there – so I had to get one down to the basement. But I’m just a girl, how on earth was I supposed to manage that? I decided to give our online neighborhood community a shot and asked if someone could help me carrying down the wardrobe, carefully adding that I live on the ground floor. Would you believe it, within minutes a guy replied he could come by. A day later, the next one said he’d help. So tonight, two apparently praticed men came by and carried the wardrobe to the basement. I was amazed by their helpfulness and almost had to force them to accept some Merci-chocolate as a thanks. I guess you can say a lot about Dizzel but the Dizzel neighbors are good folks!


My co-worker is drawing motivational things for me


We got to design a new banner for our juniors. As you see, that made me happy. To the right the old banner, the left shows our new.


I started seating plans today. One of the most difficult and most fun tasks!

Del 7 i citat-samlingen

“Jag googlemapar mig själv ibland. Det hjälper mot hemlängtan”.

“Min hjärna har tysta timmen nu.” – “Min har roliga timmen!”

“Det är fan ett heltidsjobb att vara hipster! Det kostar jättemycket pengar”.

Kollegan fantiserar om att öppna en tysk bar i Sverige. “Och så ska jag köra heltyskt och bara ta kontanter!” – “Nej, då får du mafian efter dig snart!”

“Sätt mig på cc i mejlet.” – “CC är en klub i Båstad.”





Pax be with you

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Today was a big day in my life. Today I felt like a real grown-up. Because today, for the first time in my life, I bought a wardrobe. I don’t think I ever spent this amount of money on anything yet (even though many others probably don’t think it’s that much). If you wonder where I stored my clothes the past 9 years after moving out: there were mostly built-in wardrobes in my rooms. In Sweden, that’s a pretty common thing.

I bought a Pax from Ikea. I’ve been wanting to do that for months, maybe years. I’ve longed for this piece of furniture ever since I moved in here. But buying a Pax is not something you just do. I planned four Paxes online, took stock of my clothes, measured my room (too small!) and – most importantly contacted my Paxexperts. My Paxexperts are Ilka and Anthony, my friends who have five metres of Pax that they built up themselves, something I deeply admire them for. They were so nice to meet me at Ikea and help me choose and plan, adviced and calmed me (“Will 100 cm of storage for bed lines really be enough?!” “Helen, that’s a lot. You will be fine.”) and they assisted me in downsizing so much that I could take away 50 centimetres. I was so glad to have them with me because not only to they know more (like that if you, like me, persist in getting hinge doors, you can only put baskets in the lowest part) but they also helped me deciding, something I am really bad at because which door handles should one get?

When you plan your Pax at Ikea, you can name your project. Somehow it was impossible to log out again so everyone who used the same computer after me had their projects named “Helen’s Pax!” which was a bit funny when they printed it and showed it to the shop assistant.

I still wonder why the Ikea wardrobe system is called Pax. In Swedish, att paxa or pax på means to reserve the right for something. But I think that maybe this Ikea name is exception from the rule that Ikea names are Scandinavian. I think it might be Latin. Pax. Peace. Peace in the wardrobe.

After the Pax purchase, I attended the Crayfish Party Ikea hosts for its partners every year. We don’t have company parties or a Christmas staff party so this is kind of our thing. It quickly got very late and I ate half a crayfish as every year. I really try again each year but I just don’t like it. I love all the rest of a Crayfish Party though so I even signed up for the Swedish Association’s tomorrow. Let’s see if I can get away with not cracking little red tails and not sucking claws…

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This week, I was also better at living up to my challenge of testing the bars around my house. Thursday with Britta.

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Sweden played Germany tonight, I couldn’t decide who to root for.


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My sofa table had to be taken to the conservator so I got this replacement for three weeks. So pretty!

Del 2 i random-citat-samlingen:

20 minuter efter lunchpaus: “När är det fika?” “Halv tre but I like your thinking”.

“Han har ett enda intresse angivit på Tinder och det är Techniker Krankenkasse, han får ett megalike!”

“Det är för varmt. Jag lider faktiskt lite. Mina lår mår inte bra just nu. Jag är som en kamin!”

The good, the bad and the cold


Our office dog Emma has a jacket to stay warm.

What do you consider cold weather? If you are my bike, then you believe -8 degrees Celsius is inacceptably cold. I know this because my bike froze in the beginning of this week. Düsseldorf has been experiencing much colder temperatures than in December but still, a bike’s brake and gears should not freeze at minus 8 after standing outside for one hour if you ask me. Somehow the cold does, though, feel much colder down here than it ever did in Sweden or Hamburg. Maybe it’s because there, I retreated into the comfort of heated public transportation while in Dizzel, I relentlessly bike even though the upper part of my right pinky hurts so much that I think it might have frozen off.

With the cold, the work came back. After a December that was so calm it started to get boring, mid-January has presented me with a full to do list again. Our next event is coming up in only one week in Berlin which will also give me the chance to meet my friend Annelie’s new baby for the first time. (After the two-day-event, not during. I doubt the baby is particularily interested in discussion about refugees’ integration into work life.) Then there is the new issue of our magazine coming out (I have driven through a layout change and really hope it will look fabulous, and also I am editing all incoming texts now because of my die-hard-love for readers) and I have initiated the first planning of the 15 year jubliee of our youth chapter. Blank pages of all kinds, that’s the projects that really spark my enthusiasm. 

If only I didn’t have so much stuff to do with my apartment. Yesterday I transported two IKEA items on my bike. The point with ordering from IKEA was that I do not have any car. But the delivery man came at 12:16 when people like me (and apparently my neighbours) work, so he left it at the post office. Great. Thanks. You know how annoying it is when you cannot even go on the sidewalk because the stakes on the streets are narrow and your package is 3 metres long? Well, at least I managed to get the stuff home and I even assembled the Billy book shelf all by myself. It took 90 minutes. Building IKEA stuff is not one of my foremost talents.

Meanwhile, I am desperately trying to find curtains (if you have 6 metres of only windows, that is a challenge), am fighting with the moving company and am trying to get fixed what they messed up (like a hole in kitchen countertop).

And then there is this immense urge to bake soft gingerbread, a recipe I got from my friend Michelle’s mom. As a Catholic, you can always say Christmas Time is until Candlemas (February 2nd). And my colleague already said she still has glögg left…


My unintended Lucia solo


Geez, I did not think that singing three Lucia concerts would feel like running a marathon. (Not that I have ever run a marathon but I imagine one is completely exhausted after that as well.) This morning, after welcoming my parents who were visiting and running hectic errands, I commenced my Lucia  day at IKEA where we sang for the customers. We got to go “behind the scences” which was very interesting and wanted me to work at IKEA even more. Our Lucia train went through the all of the store, including singing in the elevator, and our pastor said his step counter reported 4,1 kilometres walking. Singing in harmony, remembering countless lyrics and walking is something that can fully occupy you, I promise. The most wonderful thing about this performance was the facial expressions of the audience. Because people had not expected an advent celebration and were maybe even unfamiliar with the traditions, they first looked at us in astonishment which quickly turned into almost childlike enchantment. Priceless! They paused their shopping for a moment, sat down on the IKEA furniture or some even followed us through the house.



I skipped two of five concerts because my parents and aunt were visiting and also because it is – as I know now – rather difficult for the voice to sing five hours. We managed to through both evening concerts well and added a little twist to our last concert’s Staffansvisa. To honor our choir leader, we made up an additional verse. When we had finished the song, we restarted – much to the surprise of the choir leader – singing a verse about how well we sound with her as a choir leader and that we’re thankful for that. She seemed very pleased.

When I came down after the concert to talk to ‘my’ people, an unknown old lady approached me and said, “That song that you and the other girl sang as solos, that was so nice, what is the name of that song?” And I was like, “What do you mean, solo? That was supposed to be all of the altos singing…” The song was Koppången which some of my fellow altos find very hard to memorize lyric-wise and as layman choir habit goes, you just sing more restrained when you are unsure, so I guess that is why the lady thought it was only one other alto and me singing an intended solo, haha…At least she liked it!


After one concert last night and three today, there will be two more concerts tomorrow. Really, all I’ve been doing this weekend is singing Lucia. (And I had the pleasure of dining in the wonderful Stockholmesque restaurant of the Scandic Hotel with my Chamber of Commerce group.) But as we sing in Staffansvisa, “Just once, one time a year”.