Monthly Archives: January 2009

Yet another busy Saturday has passed. First into town for a quick lunch and coffee before heading for IKEA. I absolutely love IKEA. It’s almost like being home again i.e. back in Sweden. Even certain furniture brings back memories such as the Billy book case. Those were the days back in the 80’s, my girls room being completely made up out of IKEA furniture. We walked around, with the aim of getting a chest of drawers that could double as a changing table to be placed in our bathroom. Luckily we have a rather spacious bathroom with an empty wall, where it will stand.

The thing with IKEA is that you go there for one or two things and you come out with about 20 other items. It’s always the same, and today was no different. We stocked up on pots and pans, towels, lamps for the study (at least we got rid of the old ones), trays, cutlery, and of course the obligatory candles. In addition, I went completely wild in the IKEA food department stocking up on meatballs, pyttipanna, Kalles Kaviar, lingonberry and cloudberry jam, cinnamon buns and Swedish candy. Delicious! 700 euros lighter we left, relieved to be out of there. So long IKEA! Until next year…


Before IKEA we made a stop for some cigars

expensive cigars

I got the opportunity to step into the “treasure room

chaise longue

A chaise longue Victoria would die for

make up table

…and the make-up table too

swedish food

Stocking up on Swedish food

The films that have somehow stayed with me have a few common denominators. First of all they are all urban, taking place in a city, may it be Paris, LA or New York. They are all about the ordinary people, living through ordinary events that yet border to the un-ordinary. There is a certain element of poetry to them, making them hauntingly beautiful to watch. These films are often directed in an un chronological order, weaving together different narratives, shifting from past to present and back again. Lastly, what makes them truly great, in my eyes, are the sound tracks. That’s somehow what keeps them in my mind and heart. Sometimes I even attach different music to them than what was played in the film and relive the scenes through these.

One of my favourite films is Irreversible by Gaspar Noe, featuring William Orbit – Barbers Adagio for Strings.  I also have also attached another piece of music to it that did not feature in the film – Steppin Out by Kaskade. It reminds me of anticipated  party scene.

I love the movie Crash featuring Stereophonics’ Maybe tomorrow. This music was also featured in Wicker Park, another great movie based on the French movie L’appartement with Monica Bellucci (see the thread here?)

Code 46 is a futuristic film, set in China, US and north Africa. Beautiful scenery and great play. The ending scene is amazing, featuring Cold Play’s Warning Signs.

Lastly, and this is not a movie but somehow passes itself off as one is Air’s All I need

Life is so fucking beautiful!

Music from American Beauty

Yesterday I had the what might very well be the last appointment with my midwife before D-Day. Despite my utterly preconceived ideas about midwifes and medical staff in general, she was lovely, and assured me I had nothing to worry about in the department of pain relief. Apparently the Dutch medical profession has taken leaps forwards in the last years. She noted in my papers that I have a real fear of pain and easily start hyperventilating in moments I don’t have control of. I drew a sigh of relief and thanked her for her for padding my journey so to speak.

Later in the evening though, I felt very agitated. Reinout promptly withdrew my computer, but that just made it worse. The computer in fact calms me down. Gives me a raison d’être, in times I feel more like a factory than a living, breathing, intelligent woman. Once I was steadily installed with my Mac my nerves calmed down and I could sit out the evening with my feet raised high in a comfortable arm chair.

I slept well, although I had a strange dream involving an old class mate from the 4th grade. We had met up for a rendez vous, in a seedy hotel somewhere in Malmo (I only have experience of one seedy hotel in Malmo – Hotel Pallas….another story that I’m sure I shall get to in due time) and I came there with my dog Cecile. On close scrutiny this resembles yet another experience of mine, also in Malmo….God I was a naughty girl. Anyhow Reinout was nowhere on the horizon, but then again dreams should not be taken literally. Should they?


Reinout made me a lovely breakfast this morning

Today I got a request via facebook to list 25 things people don’t know about me. Typically I don’t respond to these invites, because of lack of time and interest really. But the subject paused for thought, so here are some utterly useless and probably non-interesting things you may or may now know about me:

1)    I love calling my family (including animals) really silly names
2)    Reinout calls me Stinky (don’t ask me why!)
3)    I’m 1.65 m tall (which is pretty short)
4)    My dream is to live in the country side in a manner house with my family and children and start writing
5)    I wanted to become an archaeologist when I was a child
6)    I still believe I will find a treasure one day
7)    I can’t stand a mess
8)    I was 15 when I had my first boyfriend
9)    My main interests are writing, fashion, fitness, dancing (salsa), literature and interior design. Not necessarily in that order
10)     My favourite pass-time is playing Gold Miner
11)     I need discipline. If not, I get lost in life
12)     My favourite 2 pieces of music are both piano works. Thomas Newman’s “Any other Name” from American Beauty and Erik Satie’s Gnossienne
13)     My favourite room is the library, although I spend least time there
14)     I can easily get consumed by love
15)     I have never been this happy as I am now
16)     I am a hopeless romantic
17)     If one word would describe life, taste, living and myself….it would be Classic
18)     I believe I suffer from prosopagnosia, also known as faceblindness
19)     I was very shy when I was young
20)     I still am, although it doesn’t always show
21)     I am convinced I will have plastic surgery in the future although I don’t agree with myself on doing it
22)     My favourite food is sushi
23)     I have gone to several psychologists, but only found one that was truly good
24)     I get easily obsessed with certain matters and subjects I come across
25)     I also find my obsessions make interesting subjects for self-analysis

susanne waldau

No. 15 I have never been this happy as I am now

Yesterday, after finishing a document I was reading in preparation for a meeting today, I went on to read the news. My mind was soon enough engrossed in a very sad article of a little two year old girl who was beaten by her mother and stepfather to death. In fact I remember the case from when they had found her body, but yet not identified, they called her baby Grace.  The horrors are so terrible that I won’t even attempt to describe it here. But what really cut into my heart was the little girl telling her mum whilst beating her that she loved her. At that point I couldn’t stop crying. It somehow triggered memories of Victoria when she was that age, and later.

Although luckily my own parental skills doesn’t come close to what this girl endured by the hands of her own parents, there are dark spots in my own maternal CV. Times when I didn’t do everything in the best interest of Victoria. Times I did and said terrible things, which she was too young to comprehend. There are two particular events that I still carry with me. One, during a time I was incredibly sad and just wanted to leave everything behind me. Not Victoria of course, but that day after an argument with my ex, I left them both in the centre of a shopping street. I just kept saying I couldn’t do it any longer. I had enough and I was leaving. The sight of Victoria running to me, holding my hand and telling me how much she loved me, just like that little girl, still haunts me. I know now, as I did back then, that my reaction was a cry for help. So I didn’t leave, and the problem was temporary sorted out. Still I was deeply unhappy.

I think Victoria must have felt my unhappiness, even though most of the time I didn’t show it. But it was always there, underneath those smiles and laughs. The happy, go lucky Swedish girl wasn’t really so happy after all.

The other event that I wish I could turn back the time on, was the moment we (my partner and I) had a gone through a terrible argument over some events which turned out to be fraud committed against my partner, resulting in court case, lost house and a relationship in tatters. I have written about this episode before so I won’t do this again, but that evening (having felt what was going on for a long time but not being able to convince my surroundings that my feelings were accurate), rage flew into me. My partner was just looking passively at me, not knowing or wanting to believe my concerns. His reaction, or lack of it, became the last straw. I threw whatever I could find on him, and to finish off it all, I ripped off the head of Victoria’s Barbie that was laying in the midst of the mess I had created.

To me we were all damned, and I felt I might as well add a bit of final damnation on our already cursed family. Victoria, who had not witnessed all of this, as she was in an adjourning room, came out just as I decapitated her Barbie, which turned out to be her most favourite Barbie of them all. Even then with her tears pouring down her round cheeks, I couldn’t find the love in me to comfort her and say it would all be fine. Instead I continued throwing verbal abuse. Eventually I calmed down, and a few days later I finally could prove that I had been right all along when it turned out someone in my partners surroundings had absconded with a large amount of money. But that didn’t settle the score. Two wrongs doesn’t make a right, and my work with making Victoria feel safe again had not even started.

Of course there are other events too, and although I may have gone to great length of extent to bury those deep in memory, I also don’t believe they were that frequent. For most part, Victoria has had a happy and stable childhood, surrounded by people that love and care for her. And perhaps, because as any “good” mother would do, those few times I didn’t act like one, still follows me around like some dark stain of being Victoria’s mum.

After reading the article I dried my tears and went upstairs to my daughter. She woke up, still half a sleep, and sat up in bed. I told her I loved her so much, and gave her a long hug. A hug I desperately didn’t want to let go of.  She looked confused at me “Is it time for school?”
“No” I said, “it’s very late and I just wanted to say that I love you loads.”
“I love you too mummy.”
Her words washed over me, healing my guilty soul…if only a little. I continued downstairs, where Reinout was standing in front of the TV with his headphones on listening to 50 Cents. He hardly noticed me when I came downstairs, but when he saw I had been crying he pulled me close to him asking what was the matter. Hesitantly I told him the story I had read and how it had trigger thinking of those events when I hadn’t been a good mother myself. “You are a good mother.” , he said. “And Victoria loves you very much.”
“You really think so?” I asked with both surprise and hope in my voice.
“Yes, she does, very much. Go up to bed, I will be there in a moment.”
I went upstairs, with much lighter steps than the ones that I had come down with.

The love of a child is truly unconditional. That’s what makes them so true, so pure. Somewhere a long the way, when we get knocked about that unconditional love becomes conditional. We love but for something in return. It’s our way of protecting ourselves. But I think deep down, in all of our lonely hearts, that pure, unconditional love is still there. Hidden, protected, by an armour of past events and memories that reminds us of what we have endured. But the unconditional love is still there. It only takes the right key to unlock it.

When your head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton balls, attempting any work, reading or writing is fruitless. But yet I couldn’t detach myself from the damn computer, which has become my new best friend since my pregnancy leave. Not that I didn’t spend time on it before, but now she is a constant companion during every single waking hour of the day. Feeling uninspired, I googled some old friends that I’ve lost contact with. Some I found and others seemed lost in the universe of Internet. I then had the brilliant idea of googling myself. As a non-celebrity, google generated 1200 hits, most I believe to be from me given my rare surname. That’s quite a digital imprint we leave behind us. Not all so good I might add! I found one YouTube clip of me singing in Swedish. I had completely forgotten about it. One that Reinout made, an evening in late spring, when we were planning our vacation in France. But the best of all was finding that grainy video of our wedding. Feels like a lifetime ago, and yet like it was only yesterday…

My morning started sometime at 4 am, when I woke up with the most intense heartburn. It must have been the Whopper from last night not entirely agreeing with me. I was laying in bed contemplating on life. My body was restless. The type of restlessness you feel when you are waiting for something good. Like Santa Clause is about to appear, or minutes before a performance. It was like little electric currents were shooting off at random, making various body parts twist of spasms.  Eventually I heard the alarm clock of Victoria and although I had the urge to go downstairs and say good-morning, my body was rejecting every notion of it. I remained in bed, and when the door slammed shut I finally fell a sleep. An hour later the sound of the mixer was echoing through the house. I secretly begged not to be disturbed with a multi-vitamin shake, but when Reinout appeared in the door there was no turning back. The shake was great, but it brought back the heartburn. After another half an hour of wrestling with my sleep I gave up and jumped in the shower. I wish I could say it did the trick, but alas. A slight headache yet remains, waiting to be cured by a couple of paracetamols when I get the energy to go downstairs. In an hour Victoria is home from school and luckily she will kick me into action as I have promised to take her out for lunch.

susanne waldau

The camera never lies. Or does it? Reinout identified the perfect Kodak moment in our kitchen. Apparently he had not noticed how large I had grown.
“Wow, honey. You look huge.” He was obviously out to score points. I hid my head in my hands, like the site of me, extra large, would evaporate for good. It didn’t.
“Hold on.” He went to get his iPhone.
“I thought you disabled your camera software.” I said perplexed. Obviously not the case, although he made me believe he had a few days ago when I asked to use his mobile for a picture.

There I was, standing in my bathrobe, red lace knickers (that looks great on a non pregnant gal I might add). He took a couple of pictures. I zoomed in on my boobs. OMG! It wasn’t just that they had grown to humongous proportions. It was the shape. They looked heavy and well pointing at an unnatural angle i.e. south.

“Sweetie do you think they will bounce back into shape again? I want my old 70C’s back.”
“Honey, don’t worry so much. And besides you get a breast op when it’s all done.”

Should I be grateful or worried?

I’ve just come out of a hot bath, where I’ve been soaking myself for a good hour whilst reading my new book – The Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa and sucking on ice lollies – a tremendous combination on all three accounts. The bath was hot, and the ice lollies cool, providing a rather strange dualistic experience of feeling hot and cold at the same time. The book, which I’ve only read the first chapter of, fit the scene I had created for myself perfectly. Contrary to what the title alludes to, it is not a chick flick. The novel starts in Lima, Peru in a well to do affluent district sometime in the 1950’s. Ricardo Somocurcio opens the narrative with the summer, when he falls in love with a bad girl.

After the first chapter I put the book away. Not because of boredom or failure of being drawn into the story. On the contrary. It triggered my memories of summer holidays, when the sun seemed to shine every day. And for those few days it did not we would be camping out with some friends playing Nintendo or running around in old, musty cellars, and creepy, dry attics playing hide and seek. Those summers were glorious.

My ice lollies melted fast and the last one was consumed in less than 30 seconds, having already turned into slush. I emptied the bath, still sitting there letting the air gradually cool my naked body until the water was all gone. I felt light headed, and took a few steps just to fall on the bed where I lay for a good 10 minutes. Perhaps I fell asleep but I opened my eyes to steps echoing downstairs. Reinout was home and I called for him. Two minutes later he came upstairs with the most immense bouquet of flowers – and a pineapple! It was the most perfect of combinations. Just like ice lollies and hot baths!

bouquet of flowers

Flowers for the lady

The best with maternity leave, pre-baby arrival, is that you can sleep in late. So it didn’t really bother me to stay up until 4 am. I was finishing off the Reapers by John Connolly. For the first time, having read all of his 9 or so books, I felt disappointed. Like an anti-climax having finished it. I was left with a  feeling of “is that all there is.”

I couldn’t help but wondering, are we becoming a generation of thrill seekers, expected to be entertained in a constant flow of eye candy, sensations and spectacular events? Is there anything that will satisfy us, for but a moment in time? And when do we realise it’s time to jump off the band wagon?

I often long for a simpler life. One devoid of noise pollution; sound bites that have been presented in exact measure and portion for us to be able to digest it; entertainment that has been designed based on data models and analysis of our reaction and attention span. Our lives have in short become computerized, where little time is spent pondering the really big questions. Instead we are kept in a constant state of hyper-tension, where all that matters is meeting the next goal, may it be dropping an extra kilo, making a million dollars, or reaping the next conquest. In a way it’s all very basic. Our caveman instincts, where food, shelter and reproduction were the immediate goals, day in and day out, have been supplanted with two other basic needs money and status and all the needs that exist around those. The preoccupation of creating an image for ourselves has long surpassed the basic pillars of our very own existence. After all we don’t need to make money in order to purchase and spend when we can borrow. We don’t need to even buy a car or a house when we can lease or rent. It’s all about NOW, not the future, not in one year, in five or ten but NOW!

I’m afraid it’s too late to stop this development. On a personal level you may. You can throw away your TV, turn off your laptop, and refuse to take part of consumerism. But as the world turns on its axis so does our artificial, steroid induced economy, and it’s impossible not to suffer its effects.

Yet, is that really all there is?