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The Dutch writing in English about Swedish
Well, I have been busy. And to summarise the situation: I'm annoyed. Very annoyed.

I've pretty much applied for every vacancy in Sweden that sounded interesting to me, which amounts to somewhere between eight and ten potential jobs.

The result of my efforts to date has been exactly one reply, consisting of a three-line email asking for some details, which I replied to extensively, only to never hear anything again.

I have to say I consider this rude.

As far as I can see there are basically two options. (Staying where I am does not appeal to me, which admittedly it never does, for reasons I will explain later.)

One, I redouble my efforts, lower my standards, and stay here until I can find something. Anything.

Two, I find a job somewhere in the area of Amsterdam, get a nice company car, spend the money I make on selling my apartment on furnishing some rental place near my work with designer yuppie furniture, and try to save some money for the next few years, while no doubt feeling vaguely unfulfilled.

I have in fact found one rather intriguing job opening in this country. I sent them my CV last week, and of course, I haven't heard back from them.

(Funny story: a close colleague of mine applied there for another opening without knowing I'd already done the same, and they rejected him the same day. I have yet to figure out what this means.)
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Walter's Brain: Hey, look at that girl sitting over there!
Walter: Hmmm, yes, very nice.
Walter's Brain: I have suddenly decided that that woman is immensely interesting. I think I'll start thinking about her a lot from now on.
Walter: Oh, not again.
Walter's Brain: See if you can see what she's reading.
Walter: Why her? I see pretty girls in public transport all the time, and you usually don't care that much.
Walter's Brain: Yes, but that voice... and that British accent...
Walter: Besides, she reminds me of you know who.
Walter's Brain: Similar cheekbones. About half the size, though, and a different ethnicity, or at least two of those if I'm any judge.
Walter: Alright, so she ticks a few my boxes, that doesn't mean the reverse is also true.
Walter's Brain: You should totally talk to her.
Walter: About what?
Walter's Brain: Be charming, or witty, or something. Do your Hugh Grant impression.
Walter: Yeah, right. I might be able to manage sweaty and uncomfortable, given a week's notice.
Walter's Brain: You'll be sorry if you don't.
Walter: No offence, but you've been wrong about this before.
Walter's Brain: Well, you don't know that, do you? Noting ventured, nothing gained.
Walter: Oh, shut up.
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I was hoping I could surprise you by announcing I had found a job in Stockholm, but yesterday I heard they've decided to hire someone else. I'm annoyed, not so much because I've been rejected (although that will never be a pleasant feeling), but because I really wanted the job.

It was pretty much perfect for me; a small internet company with a startup atmosphere, and they didn't even require Swedish language skills. Neither is easy to find, and the combination has so far proved unique.

I have no complaints about them -- I mailed them, they quickly mailed me back saying the guy was on vacation and would be back a week later, he mailed me a week later, we arranged an interview via Skype, that seemed to go well enough,he said he'd let me know a week later, and he did.

The problem is that during those few weeks I couldn't help fantasizing a little bit, although I tried very hard not to, and especially after the interview I couldn't help but feel, well, enthusiastic. I don't think companies realise how much of an emotional investment applying for a job is.

The reason I am annoyed is that this whole thing has made me realise how much better I would feel if I had a good job, rather than a well-paying one, and how much I would like to pack up my crappy life here and start over again somewhere else.
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This is just excellent.
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(It turns out there is such a thing as Monkey Island fan fiction. Rule 34 definitely applies.)
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You know the parlor trick.
Wrap your own arms around your body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you,
her hands grasping your shirt,
her fingernails teasing your neck.

From the front it is another story.
You never looked so alone,
your crossed elbows and screwy grin.
You could be waiting for a taylor
to fit you for a straitjacket,
one that would hold you really tight.

Billy Collins
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The most popular, and by far the most competent member of our customer service department was just here, in tears, telling us that her contract won't be renewed because of her "performance".

Universal opinion holds that the real reason lies somewhere between her health issues, the fact that she doesn't get on with the complete idiot who runs the department while the manager is away, and the fact that incompetent managers are always afraid of competent personnel.

The question is: does one want to work for a company that does things like this?
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I see it recorded here that it was only three short years since I took Pinky to the vet and failed to make small talk with the rather attractive veterinary assistent who speaks perfect English. I never mentioned it, but that was also the last time I saw her, and since then they've had another perfectly nice assistent who sadly lacks both the bright purple hair and language skills of her former colleague.

(Fast forward three years.)

I was in the local hardware store today (long story short: I managed to blow all the fuses in my apartment, including the one that only the electric company is allowed to replace). There was something awfully familiar about the cashier. She didn't have purple hair, but I thought I recognised her delightfully incongruent air of quiet competence, which formed a stark contrast with the usual demeanor of twenty-five-ish shop assistents.

The line moved quickly, and I was by no means sure by the time I was in front, but I didn't want to go through another three years of uncertainty, so against all natural instinct, I asked. It was indeed her. I managed more small talk than last time, but owing to a combination of factors, chief among them the difficulty I had convincing my body that trembling and sweating and stammering were not a good idea at that time, coupled with the fact that some complete lout had queued up behind me just because it happened to be the only cash register available, it never went very far.

I had gone maybe three steps out the door when I realised I still hadn't asked her where she learned to speak English like that.

I should probably give up on ever finding out.
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I've hacked up a small photo album here. Please note that there are some comments on the right hand side of the page.

The full size pictures are 4000x3000 pixels, so please don't go clicking on them unless you really want to see them.

I haven't had time to sit down and think everything through properly, but here are some spoilers:

  • Did I enjoy myself? Yes.
  • Do I see myself living there? Oh, yes. I've had almost no trouble ordering coffee.

More soon.   ish.
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More pictures coming soon. Sleep first.

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