Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prescription: a bright, sunshiny day

The Brooklyn Bridge  |  A bright, sunshiny day on afeathery*nest  |

If you look through the archives (or just have a very good memory), you know that I've mentioned tons of times how I often feel a bit listless. Energyless. Basically: blah.

The majority of the tweaks I've added to my daily routine are precisely to try and un-blah things. Changing jobs (well, work style/clients vs. actual job) helped, and as Alla mentioned in the comments here, maybe leaving NYC will help, too.

But in terms of a potential "quick fix", something else may help.

When I had my annual physical a few weeks ago, I (shockingly) discovered that I'm deficient in Vitamin D! The recommended levels are between 32-100, and I'm at 24.6. And, ho lookie here, what's the number one symptom listed on this functional doctor's site for Vitamin D deficiency? Fatigue.

Unfortunately I wasn't tested last year, so I can't compare. But maybe this is not so shocking, as Vitamin D is the one vitamin you can't get naturally from foods (you can get it from cold water fish, like salmon and mackerel, but not enough).

The only guaranteed way to get it is from sun exposure, so clearly R and I need to go back to Mexico.

Barring that, and since I already eat a bit of fish (though I could eat more), I've begun taking a supplement for the next month of NYC winter. Then hopefully a few weeks in Sicily and summer in Stockholm (where the sun sets for only a few hours a day!), will help me get my fill naturally.

So glad to finally know who the potentially-clear-cut culprit of this problem is!

One year ago: Grays & Signing on a new dotted line

Monday, February 24, 2014

When it rains

Flowers & chocolate  |  When it rains on afeathery*nest  |
It wasn't too long ago that I mentioned how nicely things can sometimes turn out if you write down a wish, a hope for something to change, and then send it out into the ether.

As further proof, I present to you Exhibit B:

Soon after we made the commitment to move I started to think about what that would mean for me work wise and added it to my growing, pre-move list of things-to-keep-thinking-about-and-hopefully-do-something-about-soon. After we arrive and get settled I plan to take advantage of Sweden's gratis language classes for foreigners (which are essentially full time), but I also want to contribute to our little household before I'd be available to interview for a full-time job. Then again, now that I'm used to the on-my-own thing, I wouldn't mind at all if I could keep that going.

So what happens? A few weeks before the contract ends for the project I've been working on for the last few months—timed perfectly to give me a month to coordinate this move, or so I thought—I was approached with two different projects, both of which have a tie to Sweden. Crazy, right?

The amazing thing is that they'd essentially be a bridge of sorts from NYC to Stockholm, as they'd last a few months each, but not require me to be "on" at all hours of the day, so I can get us moved, get us settled, take some time off, and be working while going to school.

The first involves communications work with a global agency on a real estate project in NYC, but in conjunction with their Stockholm office. The other is with a Scandinavian digital team based in NYC to do a tourism campaign with...the country of Sweden. Of course I had to say "yes" to both, which is why for the last few weeks I've basically been working two-and-a-half shifts a day, as both new projects started now, before my existing one ends, and right when move prep is kicking into high gear.

To say I'm looking forward to my sabbatical of sorts in Sicily come April is putting it extremely mildly.

One year ago: Comings and goings

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 8

Empire State Building  |  Week 8 on afeathery*nest  |
The last two weeks have been a bit of a blur—I suppose that's what happens when you take on 2 projects in addition to your full-time gig, while preparing for a non-corporate-assisted international move (who does that?!).

But, a few things bubbled to the surface of my bleary-eyed haze when I tried to recall this week's highlights over my chai this morning:
  • I was having one of those days when the onslaught of emails was never-ending with messages flying back and forth for each of my three projects, from the banker, the mover, and Craiglist buyers, not to mention my family trying to plan pre-departure things. Every time I hit "send" another email would pop in, so I could never get ahead of the deluge. Just as I felt a tear of frustration start to well, a friend working around the corner messaged me to meet her—the one day I didn't have leftovers from home and I most needed an analog lunch. How perfect. An hour away from all screens plus espresso hot chocolate for dessert plus a good, cathartic venting session? Yes, pretty please.

  • A particularly delicious bottle of Australian wine that made late nights a bit easier. If you're curious: Penfold's 2008 Koonunga Hilla Shiraz Cabernet.

  • Temperatures in the high 40s, almost 50s (!) towards the end of the week that made early mornings a bit easier.

  • Meeting my mom on the subway platform at my stop (love when that works out perfectly!) for a trip out to Brooklyn for lunch at my Haitian friend and her girlfriend's beautiful, grown-up, antique-furnished and art-draped apartment. My friend's mom made the meal and dropped it off for us, so lots of homemade Haitian amazingness was enjoyed.

  • Then taking the subway back towards Manhattan a few hours later, but stopping in Dumbo for a paella dinner with other girlfriends at another friend's home (something I think I will desperately miss in a few months...)

  • Perky irises nodding in their vase

  • Season 2 of House of Cards

  • And now, a solid day of work at home before heading off to meet R in the Lower East Side for an early dinner out at a new restaurant. Main topic to be discussed: an apartment that could be ours on May 1st in Stockholm... (!!!)

One year ago: These women & Monday meanders: 7

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 7

  • The dusting, photographing, posting and selling of furniture on Craigslist has begun! Also begun: the sorting of odds and ends we definitely won't need anytime soon (like: tax files, photographs, scrapbooks, letters) into boxes for shipping overseas. For someone who believes herself to be a minimalist/non-packrat...I've got some boxes to pack!

    But, there's a fine line between selling everything ASAP to get that checked off the list of to-do's and living in a barren apartment for the next month. I've listed everything for sale, but I keep hemming about letting our dining set go (we've had offers)—I love it so much (and plus, where would I work?).

    Less necessary furniture has already gone, like the wine/liquor rack, bookshelf, jewelry armoire, entryway table and coffee tables, but the real beast will be our bedroom furniture.

  • In other news, I think y'all know that I'm a bit particular about things (see: all previous posts), as well as a bit of clucking mother hen,  right? So you can imagine that when we began selling things at the same time as good friends we haven't seen in years (thanks so much, United States, for having such distant coasts, and Atlantic Ocean, for having such expensive waters to cross) realized we had one overlapping weekend before we ship out and offered to drive up 6 hours (in a snowstorm) to see us for a weekend I was simultaneously ecstatic and slightly stressed about the state of our apartment. On the one hand, we haven't seen each other in 4 years because they lived on the West Coast and then moved to Europe on assignment, and the likelihood of seeing each other anytime soon is also quite low since they just moved back (to the East Coast, at least) as we're about to do the reverse move, but then on the other hand, how can I be all host-essy when our wine glasses are now stored on one of the bedroom windowsills and there are boxes of nonsense against every wall?

    Newsflash: I should chill the heck out because no one cares about that stuff and we're having a damn good time (more to come on this later, but highlights include, bottles of wine at lunch in a snowstorm, walking in Soho in a snowstorm, braving a snowstorm for Mexican food and sunny walks in Central Park in the remnants of a snow storm).

  • So, apparently Valentine's Day passed and our nonchalance towards the holiday has reached new heights as we ended up eating a pot of boiled potatoes (they were boiled in olive oil, so theoretically they were essentially french fries), sprinkled with crushed red pepper and salt, while standing up in the kitchen. Romance is alive and doing very well, thank you.
One year ago: In between

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Some news

Remember I said 2014 would be the year of adventure? I wasn't kidding...

Stockholm National Day Celebrations  |  Ola Ericson/
...Seven weeks from this evening, R and I will head to the airport with our myriad passports in one hand and one-way tickets from New York City to Stockholm in the other. (Although, not sure who'll be tugging along our suitcases then, but of course you know what I mean).

After many, many ups and and downs on this journey to getting a residency permit allowing me to live and work in Sweden (a right I was due, given my marriage to a 1/2 Swede by birth), we finally heard back after legal intervention that I was approved to live and work in the country—for my entire life (!).

Once that happened, we were able to organize our projects/jobs to end at the same time as our lease (which you'll recall we had to renew last year), with everything coming to a head next month in time for a move at the start of Spring, which actually works out much better than our original idea to move at the start of Winter—I'm assuming that would have been a bit intense for a recently-arrived expat.

We'll spend the first week of April in Stockholm getting paperwork and registration started and signed, and then fly down to Sicily for a few weeks to celebrate a milestone birthday for R's brother, as well as Easter, which I've never celebrated there (we'll see if it can top the Greek Orthodox one I spent on Santorini, complete with the amazing fragrance of locals roasting a spit-fired lamb in their front yard). Those weeks on an island in the Mediterranean will henceforth also be known as my decompression from the last seven years spent on the island of Manhattan.

So really, we won't actually be living and getting settled in Stockholm until mid-Spring, close to the start of May.

But as of right now, we're heading off with no job, no apartment and no language skills (for me at least)—how else would it be an adventure if all that was organized and buttoned up? Perhaps the newly Swedish J will be all about spontaneity, instead of notes and lists and everything settled and decided and planned ahead of time in Google Calendar and my Moleskine Bullet Journal.

(Okay, realistically that won't ever be me 100%, but I'm okay with this looser itinerary and plan...for now.)

All that stands between us and moving in less than two months is the question of what to bring and when/how to sell the leftovers as quickly and cleanly as possible.

I can hardly believe this is really happening (can you?!).

PS. If you're in the NY area and something from our apartment that you've seen in a picture here caught your eye and you're in the mood to buy it, let me know—everything's for sale!

One year ago: The mean reds

Monday, February 10, 2014

Week 6

  • The baby is going home next week—so this past week was bookended with him staying at our apartment last weekend and us going out to Long Island to my brother's in-laws' house for an afternoon this weekend to get our fill of his coos and laughter. He's almost three months now and it's amazing how much he's changed—he's rounded out, all chubby thighs and dimpled knuckles, and he laughs and laughs and registers our presence. His gray-blue eyes follow us as we move around (either that or the bangles jangling on my right hand get his attention). Going to miss seeing his rosy cheeks and watching him conducting orchestras for himself (he's in that pudgy, fists-flailing-about stage) so much.

  • With all the snow this past week I was able to work from home for three days, so I finally made tons of progress on what was supposed to be my "amuse bouche", if you will, of knitting projects to make up for the last one. Turns out it's taking quite a bit longer than I thought, since I keep forgetting that it's only baby bits that can be zoomed off in a weekend.

  • I've lately taken to eating handfuls of roasted walnuts and a few crimson strawberries every time I pass the kitchen counter (which is often). It's a delicious combination, in case you were looking for a new (February-appropriate) snack.
One year ago: Tape, red or otherwise

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The waiting game...and spilt milk

Morning meditations with notebook, irises, and teacup  |  The waiting game...and spilt milk on afeathery*nest  |

I have a shameful admission to make (again, I believe): I am extremely impatient.

So much so that taking apart one of our stove top burners and cleaning up bubbled over milk is a near-daily occurrence (as is the inevitable burning of my hand, since I won't wait until it's cooled. See: impatient, above).

Most mornings I make tea, but I don't use the microwave to heat my water and milk and I like to steep loose leaves while the liquid is continuously heated (rather than heating/steaming and then steeping, off heat). Which, if you use milk, you'll know can lead to an especially thrilling build up of boiling liquids that tend to splash over, bringing semi-burned tea leaves along with it.

I generally drink spiced Indian tea. Chai. The stronger the better, so a good 10-minute steep is required. But rather than stand and watch the tea gurgle about for that long, I tend to go do other things, noting to myself that I need to come back in 2-3 minutes to monitor the situation.

Of course I never do.

Then I hear the tell-tale hiss of the pot boiling over and I start cursing as I slip and slide in my fuzzy slippers back to the kitchen to try and alleviate the mess.

This happens nearly every day.

Morning meditations with notebook, irises, and teacup  |  The waiting game...and spilt milk on afeathery*nest  |

What's that definition of insanity?
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Ah yes, thanks for that, Mr. Einstein. Clearly I'm insane.

One year ago: Monday meanders: 6 & Hurraw!'s lush lip balms

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 5

Harlem rooftops  |  Week 5 on afeathery*nest  |
Happy February! Let's dig right in, shall we?
  • I'm all for (basically) free insurance through R's union, but making me wait 1.5 hours for a doctor one day (which turned out to be for naught, since the office neglected to tell me key thing that was required for appointment) and then three and a half (!) two days later (mind you, also a 40-minute train ride away to Harlem) is a bit rude, no?  Dislike.
  • So naturally, the highlight of the week was a Mexican date night with R at Fonda (of course) and an evening with the baby (well, actually watching R with the baby since he totally hogged him!) at my mom's. Since it was at her place, the evening also included a Goan dinner, so really three good things this week.
  • And making the in-betweener-moments enjoyable, have you heard of Medium? It's a story site built on a smart (or odd) premise:

    "Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say."

    You can follow certain channels (like, Coffee Time, Productivity, The Art of Happiness, etc.), and then read articles written by well-known people as well as "normal" ones on that topic. The focus is on the words—so the site is stark, with large print, and hardly any imagery once you get past the headline. You have to go look at it or Google it see what others say to get what they're up to, but the reason I mention it is that I absolutely love that each article is presented with a notation that tells you how long the story will take you to read. The 3-4 minutes are perfect for mini work breaks.
One year ago: Sybaritic weekend & Manifest month 1: January