Poor Helen!

The embassy called me the other day. “I just walked out of our press officer’s room and she said, ‘Poor Helen’ and I just had to agree, “Yes, poor Helen!”. What my dear cooperation partners at the embassy meant was not my lack of suffrage in the Swedish elections 2018 or the fact that one of my lamps in the kitchen does not work. They know it’s gala times and they know what that entails for the person managing the event.

It’s true – writing sweet emails to people that you are almost positive want to attend but miraculously failed to register, handling the not overly competent caterer, and juggling a participants list that keeps changing (“Can my co-worker come too? But I am not really sure she wants to come, actually”, “I never signed up”, “I just changed my mind”, , “Please state the title of the person I’m bringing as  ‘spouse'”, “I’ve become a vegetarian that only eats quail”) is stressful. But it’s also fun! The closer the day, the more adrenaline keeps my spirits up. I probably like my job most in this phase (even if I rant a little at my desk sometimes). So I don’t think I’m that pitiable even though I very much appreciate the omtanke from Berlin.

In my private life as an active citizen, I attended the city’s yearly participation forum  about the bike infrastructure. I had hoped to hear what’s going on and why literally every traffic light is set to give the cars a ‘green wave’ and make cyclists stop everytime. (I counted 17 lights on my 3 kilometres to work. Four were green. I stop every 230 meters!) I also wondered why the city doesn’t give the cars that constantly park on bike lanes tickets. Or why the existing bike lanes are are so  kaput. Well. At that event, they spent most time telling us how great it is that they know have a logo for all things that have to do with bike infrastruce and that they managed to paint two bike lanes (4,6 kilometers) in 16 months. When it came to other questions, I heard more than once that “That’s difficult because we can’t inconvienence the cars drivers”. Eh, okay, but if you want better conditions for the cyclists…well, nevermind. I got a free high-vis waist coat at least. It looks perfectly ridiculous but I kind of want to survive dark winter nights.



Our assistant handwrites 158 placement cards. So beautiful!


I went to pick up the award certifcates that we have framed at the local art gallery. They give you a very special looking bag to carry it home. People glance at you when you walk with it. My co-worker explained why, “In Düsseldorf, carrying a Conzen bag says ‘I am rich. I got art’.


Fall is upon us with lots of rain but also some sunny, leavy parts.


And occasionally dramatic skies.

Otherwise, Emily and I have booked our hotel in Manhattan this week which feels absolutely thrilling and also very grown up (I mean, a real hotel, in Manhattan!)  To get into the American mood, I will not sit down with a cup of tea and watch the latest Grey’s Anatomy episode. (Yes, I still watch that, after all this time.)

Del 20 (!) i citat-samlingen

Jag gillar inte äldre män… som har åsikter.

Hundertprotzentigen Alkohol kannst du gar nicht kaufen. – Doch, da musste ins Darknet!

Hon bor i Sandviken. Där får du ett hus för två miljoner och då är det ett hela jävla mansion.

Funkar det här som titel, Digitalisering, bankernas död eller finansfantasi? – Alltså varför låter det alltid så porrigt när du läser upp något?



Car meets tram


My office is located very centrally in Düsseldorf. You can look out of the window to the Kö, the Champs-Elysees of Germany. It is also a on a busy road which trams, cars, pedestrians and cyclicts share. Well, in fact, as so often in Dizzel, the pedestrians and cyclicts fight for their lives and the trams and cars share the road – but not even that works. I’ve been working in that office for nine months this week and today was the seventh time a car and a tram crashed right in front of our house.

The first time, it was still alarming incident that had us run to the windows after the sound of squealing brakes paired with frantic trams bells ringing and the inevitable thunk! boom! bang!

During our seven observations of these accidents (we grew less agitated with time), we figured out that the problem must be that the tram comes from behind on a track that the cars cross when they turn left. Just that they are not allowed to turn left but for some reason that is not super clear to the drivers. The car always loses, the damage usually looks pretty bad. I know too little about cars to determine whether they can be fixed and how much that costs. The train can’t continue either for a while, blocking the track for any tram coming after. On a busy route, you imagine the delays.

The entire street design of Düsseldorf has ever since been puzzling me. There are traffic lights every 300 metres (no exaggeration) and virtually no roundabouts. Bike lanes stop in the middle of a street. And places where accidents happen almost every month seem to not prompt the city to reconsider their traffic management. My only explaination is that no one ever gets seriously hurt during these frequent tram-car-crashes so it doesn’t seem urgent enough to the city council.

Meanwhile, we count our time at work not in months but in traffic accident numbers.