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Jingoistic June, Justifiable July and Accepting August, Issue 06-08/16

№289 ~15 minutes

In this month’s triple issue of Keeping Up With the Erikssons: My previous accessibility article finds an online home, I refuse to celebrate my birthday, fucking Brexit, I party with old friends in Finland, we visit a wild animal park, I complete my first 5K and we finally find a new home in Cambridge.

I’m back.

As you might notice, it’s distinctly not, “end of August,” as some idiot had promised.

That idiot was me.

But you should all know by now that when I say, “August,” I really mean, “September-ish.”

We’re good?

Good.

Anyway. I’m back.

In more ways than one in fact.

I’m back from my, longer than usual, blogging holiday. I’m back from my cycle of sleep–commute–eat–repeat to a normal sleeping cycle. I’m back from eating Joylent to eating like a regular human—which is to say, badly. I’m back from dealing with the loss of Amanda—well as back as one can be from that anyway.

The previous entry, That Place between Sleep and Awake, was the hardest entry I’ve written to date, but it was one I needed to write before we moved.

It is the last entry I wrote in our old home in Maidstone.

It was fitting in a way, that as we cleaned out the spider webs and took down the posters from Lucien’s bedroom walls, I also cleaned out my soul a little.

This entry, the one you’re reading right now, is the first one I’m writing in our new home.

I’m writing this sitting in our dining room—Yeah, we have a dining room but we’ll get to that in the next issue of Keeping Up with the Erikssons—as the sun light blares in from the window overlooking the garden—Yeah, we have a garden too but again, more on that in the next issue of Keeping Up with the Erikssons.

There will be photos I promise.

June

June feels so far away, so distant. So you’ll have to excuse me if my memory is a bit faint, maybe I’ll be making some of this up, who knows—I won’t, I promise—but let’s see what I can remember, shall we?

The Cost of Accessibility

Last year, in the wake of doing my first public speaking event I was approached by net magazine about writing an accessibility article. For those of you who weren’t able to read to article back then I can delight you with the news that it’s available online at net magazine’s presence on Medium.

The Cost of Accessibility, where I make a business case for accessibility, and reveal the real cost of ignoring it.

It’s a short article and I hope to write more articles elsewhere, online or in print, but for now, I’m quite happy with it.

Another birthday

I’ve gone from, “GIMME ME ALL THE CANDLES,” to, “I’m not sure I want a cake,” to finally this year when I simply refused to celebrate my birthday altogether, refusing to even have a cake.

Let’s be honest though, between forcing Rebecka to bake one for me or baking one myself, I chose option #3 and went for a cheeky Nando’s instead.

It’s when u and the lads are having a bit of banter in town and ur mate is like ‘im hungry lets go greggs’ but then ur like ‘nah man not feeling a pasty lets go somewhere else’ and then ur top mate (probs called Gaz) is like ‘oi lads lets go for a cheeky nandos.’

There you go, that perfectly explains a cheeky Nando’s, right?

Rebecka’s answer to this was of course to stick a birthday candle in one of the cheeky garlic breads from Nando’s and insisted I blew it out.

Birthday successfully celebrated anyway.

Damn her.

Brexit

On the 24th of June, United Kingdom voted on whether to stay in the EU, popularly referred to as Brexit—because there’s nothing like a catchy name to draw people’s attention. I’m looking at you Boaty McBoatface—with the surprising result of deciding that they didn’t want to stay.

WTAF?!

Seriously you people?

I am deeply disappointed in you.

Here, we EU immigrants come to your country, work harder than you, take out less benefits and pay more taxes and this is how you repay us.

Looking at the voting results confirmed our decision to move to Cambridge even more though, where the vote to REMAIN had been the second highest in the entire country with 73.8%, only bested by Edinborough at 74%.

Map of the results of the British Eurpean Exit vote.
This is now essentially a map depicting where we will and won’t live.

In Maidstone the vote to LEAVE, on the other hand, had been at 58.8%. Not exactly a landslide decision by Maidstone but enough to give us a bitter taste in our collective EU mouths.

As Britain faces an uncertain future, all of its politicians leaving the sinking ships like the rats they are, the rest of us are left to deal with the aftermath of the decision of people who are going to be dead before it even affects them—a large percentage of LEAVE voters were of an older demographic.

Thanks a lot, ass holes.

July

You would think my memory of July is a bit fresher but you would be wrong. To summarise July in one sentence; party, sick and giraffes.

A Mexican fiesta in Finland

At the start of July I took a short but well earned holiday so that Lucien and I could visit Finland to see friends and family.

Even though it was only over a longer weekend I still feel like we both managed to meet enough people without having to stress around to see everyone.

Lucien got to hang out with his cousins, even seeing the youngest one for the first time and go swimming with them, whilst I was out having a culturally appropriated Mexican fiesta fiesta.

Meaning we wore sombreros and moustaches and got drunk on tequila.

#ImSoSorry

The four amigos getting increasingly drunker on fancy Tequila.
¡Fiesta fiesta!

I also took the opportunity to walk around my childhood home. Having moved away from home at 16 years old marks this year as the first year when I’ve lived elsewhere as much as I’ve lived in my childhood home.

A lot has changed since I lived there. What used to be my room has been turned into a sort-of creative room with baskets of yarn and a giant weaving machine.

The garden which used to be more practical has since been given the attention and love it deserves and is now littered with things like an old horse drawn cart being swallowed by Mother Nature. But the strawberry field is still there to the delight of the next generation of children pillaging it for its ripe harvest.

The blacksmith which we used to colour yarn in is mostly sitting there, carrying with it the memories of a time gone by displaying antique milk jugs in its window.

Out in the woods, our tree house, now old and abandoned, has since become the home of spiders and wasps.

Everything looks the same but different. Like an old worn sweater that you’ve outgrown but its fabric remains the same, its indented sleeve openings fitting perfectly the shape of your thumbs.

I suppose regardless of where I am, it will always carry with it a certain sense of, “home.”

Coming down with Pneumonia

Say what you will about men and their flus at least when I get sick, I get properly sick. Like coughing blood sick.

After returning from Finland I only managed to get back to work for one day before I got ill and lied in a fever for seven days. After the fever began to subside I instead had hypothermia for a few days and started couching blood.

Needless to say, I went to the doctor and a chest x-ray later I was prescribed the same antibiotics that may also be used to treat things like cholera.

The death of Muggy McMugface

As if having a fever and getting pneumonia wasn’t bad enough, on the 20th of July, let us always remember this date, my beloved coffee mug broke.

My beloved Muggy McMugface broke as I was washing it. Only after having thrown it away did I realise—thanks to a Facebook comment—that I could have repaired it with a golden seam, which would have made Muggy even better. Stronger. More beautiful.

But it was too late.

Muggy was gone.

I take my coffee seriously, don’t judge me.

Going to Port Lympne

Continuing where we had left of last year, addressing Lucien’s growing list of places he’d like to see, we had decided to have a family day out and go to the zoo instead of throwing him a birthday party this year.

With the stress of everything else it seemed like a more sensible idea.

He’s been talking about going to the zoo ever since he understood what a zoo is.

Looking around at our options we quickly settled on Port Lympne, an award winning wild animal park in Kent. Set over 600 acres, it houses over 88 species including lions, tiger, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, tapirs and gorillas.

One of the first things I noticed was that I didn’t have a lens suited to taking photos of animals in cages.

Sign warning for spraying tigers.
Why must it be from the anus?
A group of people dressed as Victorian explorers, wandering the wild animal park.
‘Oh I dear say my dear, I do believe that is a rhinoceros.’
A lonely rhino, eating some grass.
Look, a lonely-ceros! #terribleDadJoke
Pink lillypads at Port Lympne.
I like this photo more than it’s good.
A dinosaur perched atop a broken down safari truck.
♫ ♪ Ni no ni no nii, ni no ni no nii, ni no ni no nii
A Tyrannosaurus Rex coming toward you.
‘And if you look to your right, you will—Oh shit, the T-rex is lose again! RUN!!11’

Lucien’s favourite part was the giraffes, because we were sat in a safari truck and the herds of animals were roaming freely we got a lot closer to them than we would have otherwise.

A giraffe looking longingly into the camera.
‘Going already buddy?’ he asked.

August

To summarise August in one sentence; running, running and packing.

Running

Okay.

Fine.

I’m one of you now.

I run. For fun.

Yeah, I know. Past Carlos would have mocked me so much and to my face, but more importantly he’s not here any more so fuck that guy.

Having finally recovering enough from my pneumonia and having been given the, “Okay,” from my doctor I could start getting ready for my first 5K.

Thanks to the pneumonia, what had originally been intended to be a leisurely month and a half to get ready turned into a hurried 11 days instead.

“Oh well, you play the card you’re dealt,” I thought and squeezed myself into my running shorts and did my first run from the train station to work.

Cambridge Colour Dash

After 11 days of getting ready, it was time for my first 5K.

I was excited. I was nervous.

I was tired.

I had to get up the same bloody time I always did in the morning, except it was also Saturday, to take a train up to Ely—a town north of Cambridge—where the inappropriately named Cambridge Colour Dash, was being held.

The wonderful ladies at the accessories booth were eager to get me to be the first man to buy a tutu, and who was I to deny them the pleasure. So of course I bought a tutu and I wore the shit out that tutu, as one should.

Wearing the shit out of a multi-coloured tutu.
I of course kept the tutu.

I even wore the tutu all the way back to Maidstone and as I walked through London Victoria train station I was reminded why I love living here. Almost no one took any notice of me.

After the warm-up dancing led by two overly enthusiastic fitness lovers, we were ready to run.

The world record for 5k is 12:37.35 minutes so I set my personal goal at under 45 minutes. I figured surely I can complete it under 45 minutes.

Final time: 30 minutes.

Which is pretty admirable for a first run I think.

But I also think I can do better. I will do better.

Damn it.

I’m one of you.

The Cambridge Colour Dash was for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, a charity devoted to supporting families and caring for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Go to their website and donate today to help.

A place to call home

Because I was busy commuting and Rebecka was taking care of Lucien and our home we decided to split the responsibility of finding a new home. Rebecka would look for places online and send me the ones she liked. I would call on them right away and arrange viewings to see if I liked them too.

We basically put a lot of trust in each other.

So it came that towards the end of August I went for a viewing of a 2-bedroom terraced house that Rebecka had found online.

Our new green door with its aged brass door knocker.
Knock knock. Who’s there? Why, it’s the Erikssons of course.

I’m often quite reserved when it comes to making judgements, whether that’s people or houses, I want to make sure I’m judging it fairly. But by doing that everything takes twice as long and the prevailing advice for house hunting in Cambridge has been, “if you like it put a ring on it.”

Tell them that you want it right away otherwise it’s going to be gone.

With that in mind we had decided that I should let my instincts guide me more than I’ve let in the past year. So when my first thought on viewing the terraced house was, “I like it,” I decided to go with that instinct and said, “We’ll take it.”

Yeah, just like that.

We put a lot of trust in each other.

A couple of credit checks later the landlord said, “Yes, I accept your money in return for providing shelter.” I may be paraphrasing a bit but you get the general idea.

Moving from Maidstone

So by the end of August, the time had finally come.

The tenancy agreement had been signed, the fees paid and the keys handed over.

We had a new home.

After months of commuting, grieving, everything else and stressing about whether we would ever even find a new home, we spent the last weeks of August packing boxes, clearing away the spider webs and finding a moving company that would take all our stuff from Maidstone to Cambridge as we took the train up there.

You can exhale now Carlos.

Exhale.

Lucien misspelling 'mooving day' in our calendar.
Bring on ‘Mooving day’.

I guess life does move on.

And that’s it for these months.

Inside No. 9

Don’t Run with Your Mouth Open

Melancholic May, Issue 05/16

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