A unique conference around transgender military service

In late October 2014 I had the opportunity to go to the United States to participate in a conference called “Perspectives on International Transgender Military Service”. The Swedish Armed Forces were officially invited by the Palm Center to participate and a decision was made on by Director General and Deputy Head of Personell to send me and Helena Hoffman from our HR Centre to the conference. The decision of our participation came swiftly and to me it says something about the changed culture on the command level in the Swedish Armed Forces and their understanding of the importance of LGBT issues. In the center of the organizers were Mr Aaron Belkin who also was a key player in the work around abolishing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell-act which made it possible for homosexuals and bisexuals to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces. This conference was part of a longer set of activities to provide academic insights into why it is time to abolish the ban on military service for transgender persons as well. Even during the preparations I was struck by the passion and professionalism in the way he and his team worked with the conference.

Previous US studies
One of the efforts provide academic insights are these studies published ahead of the conference:

Even the release of these studies gained a lot of press coverage like this article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/08/25/the-pentagon-can-easily-drop-its-ban-on-transgender-troops-study-finds/

Present at the conference were participants from Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK, some of the 18 countries that currently allow open transgender military service. In addition to that there were many former services members from the United States who had lost their jobs just because of them being transgender.

The conference was organized around different panels where some where focused on the policy makers from the respective countries and some were focused on sharing the concrete evidences from transgender military services members both from the United States and the invited countries. The schedule looked like this.

9:15 am

Lessons Learned & Best Practices (HR & Policy Officers)

10:45 am


11:00 am

Foreign Military Experiences: Transgender Troops Tell Their Stories

12:30 pm

Working Lunch on Military Diversity (Research etc)

1:30 pm


1:45 pm

Deployment in Austere Conditions: Stories from Combat Zones

3:15 pm


3:30 pm

Next Steps for America: Applying Allied Lessons in the US Military

I was part of the second panel together with Lucy from New Zealand, Donna from Australia and Natalie from Canada. My colleague Helena was on the first panel. To read more about each participants see their individual bios at the ACLU page: https://www.aclu.org/perspectives-transgender-military-service-around-globe

An emotional day
That Monday in Washington D.C. turned out to be a very intense but also emotional day. I realized that was probably the first time that I had been around that many transgender military service members ever. My previous experiences in LGBT Military issues actually involved mostly gay men and the occasional lesbian woman. I have often been the only transsexual present and to some degree put into an ambassador’s role where I could be the representative and “expert” on transgender issues. I have always tried to not be limited to my own personal experiences but rather tried to show the spectrum of approaches transgender people can have on their job and life in general.

In this case however it was a unique experience to be part of a fairly large group of people which all had transgender experiences in the military. I think that also meant that it became way more personal for me. Partly because my approach no longer would be just accepted but rather challenged (although politely) and partly because there suddenly were people around me who had chosen different ways of handling their transition process, their job and their way of life. That of course triggers questions about my own choices in life. We were not only from different countries with different cultures but also from different armed forces around the world. Each with a slight variation of core values and best practices but also their own set of military rules and regulations. That means that we all had different context and circumstances in which we have dealt with us being transgendered.

Hearing about hardships others have gone through is never easy and it sure affects me on a deep emotional level. Maybe the most obvious example was all the people from the US who shared the experience of being force out of their job in the Armed Forces just because they were transgendered. Imagine just having found out who you really are and in the midst of that relief and joy you realize that you are fired from your job just because of that. Especially in the United States where a lot of the benefits around health care, dental care and housing are connected to your employment. That is lost in addition to the salary and job. These men and women also seemed very brave and full of resolve since many of them today are activists trying to change that antiquated policy – something that can be done solely by President Obama himself.

Important information sharing
Just as when we gathered for the NATO LGBT Working Group this summer in Stockholm I was again reminded of the importance that we meet in person and share not only personal experiences but also discuss best practices and policy options in real life. There is still such a shortage on information that being able to get updated on that is a goal in itself. This was of course unique because it focused soley on the T letter in LGBT which is even more important since transgender issues are even less covered than gay (men) issues. I was again amazed of how much work is actually going on around transgender military service around the world. Policy documents are being written, studies are being done and support organizations are being formed. The United Kingdom is once again impressive in the professional way they approach transgender issues. They seem to have a more direct logical approach between decision being made and what is actually needed in terms of policy changes and resource in order to make it happen. The way they have formed formal support networks within the ranks and their LGBT mentor system is very impressive. In Sweden we tend to be vary of large comprehensive measures as and rather take “one step at a time” with little or small resources being committed. Instead it is supposed to be handled by people doing more general equality or gender-related work.

It is quite hard
Being transgendered is hard, that was obvious after the conference. We mixed hearing rather disturbing stories of bullying and bad mental health together with more positive ones indicating that it is very possible to serve in the military with a transsexual background. Still most of us seem to face very real and hard challenges both at work and in society in general. Even though we need to discuss bullying in the military culture we also desperately need some good role models to point to the future with. It seems like the main challenge is changing the culture so these organisations develops a climate where both transgendered people and women can serve with equal opportunity in a safe workplace environment. When you are fighting real enemies with guns you don’t want to be challenged by your colleagues.

A tale from the “paradise”
Telling my story sometimes felt like a tale from the paradise which I guess it is compared to a lot of other experiences. However, it is just me and my very unique personal journey through the armed forces which has work better than all expectations. I feel safe at work in the Swedish Armed Forces HQ and I feel respected for what I do. Nothing to take for granted if you have a transsexual background unfortunately. However, from a personal perspective it is not really a tale from paradise but that is not something that is discussed more than briefly during events like this. In the end finding love and someone to share your life with is just as important as being respected at work. I got the sense that many of us with a transsexual background struggle really hard with dating and relationships. It is a fairly cruel world in that respect.

Five of us women which all belonged to the Air Force decided to take this unique group photo as seen below:

Women with transgender background from five different air forces around the world.
Women with transgender background from five different air forces our the world.

So the day was emotional but also filled with lots of interesting seminars where all of us shared experience from each nation. A lot of new facts and reflections was presented to us in away that I think never had been done before. I really felt each minute was worth focusing on and my head was filled of thoughts from each one and half hour sessions. The third component was the media which was present in the room. Journalists from big media organisations like AP, Huffington Post and ABC was there covering the event. So it wasn’t just us discussing amongst lgbT people but also something for the general public. Something the world would see. I was asked several times by the organizer to do interviews which become a stark contrast to the emotional experiences of listening to my colleagues all over the world. Instead I needed to snap into “interview mode” and be able to be that ambassador myself for a few minutes. One of whose was an interviewed with WJLA – ABC which you can see here in both video and audio: http://bcove.me/mvu2egk2

The media coverage from this conference was nothing short of impressive. A lot of the major media outlets around the world wrote a piece of this event. Well, in Sweden it was not noticed at all. Here are some examples:

The Daily Mail


The Guardian

Huffington Post

Pink News UK

Me and Helena outside the ACLU Office. Photograph by Lucy Jordan, New Zeeland Air Force

Att vara själv(ständig)

Att göra allt själv
Under min komma-ut-process var jag helt själv den första tiden vilket gjorde att jag kände mig väldigt ensam och utsatt. Det fanns ett stort tabu kring transpersoner både i mig och i samhället och såklart förenat med en stor och stark skamkänsla. Så här i efterhand vet jag faktiskt inte riktigt hur jag lyckats komma över de där starka känslorna av skam i kombination med att jag inte hade någon att bolla ens de mest triviala praktiska saker med. Val av kläder, hår, smink – allt något jag fick ta hand om själv utan att ha en blekaste aning om någonting inledningsvis. Kanske var det min uppfostran där jag väldigt tidigt fick ta ansvar för allt och där självständighet var något att sträva efter. Klara sig själv var måttot och med det såklart att inte be om hjälp och ligga någon till last så klart.

Så jag klarade nog det för att det bara var en i mängden av saker som jag förväntades klara av själv även om ingen visste om just detta. Självklart var det ensamt och visst drömde jag mycket om sällskap och vänner att uppleva saker med men då var det inte mer än bara en dröm. Så det var bara att kämpa på själv och göra det som då kändes rätt. Skräcken i att gjort mig i ordning och ta tag i handtaget där i lägenheten i Ängelholm och tveka i flera minuter innan jag vågade öppna dörren för att försiktigt se att det inte var någon i närheten. Det är starka skamkänslor det. Att vara rädd för att ens öppna dörren samtidigt som jag ju var mig själv för första gången. Att vara själv i den situationen gjorde att jag kände mig väldigt utsatt och blev också flera gånger uppmärksammad av ungdomar i området som pekade, skrattade och kommenterade. Jag passerade inte och var ju faktiskt själv ute och gick på nya och ganska osäkra klackar.

Den upplevelsen liknar mobbingsituationen en hel del där man som offer ofta är själv mot en grupp som bestämmer sig för att med makt trycka till en. Jag hade faktiskt en period av mobbing i mellanstadiet så jag hade upplevt detta innan min komma-ut-process. Den sortens erfarenheter sätter sig ganska hårt eftersom det är en sådan obehaglig och maktlös situation. För mig som transperson fanns den i lite mildare varianter också de första åren. Varje gång jag tog mod till mig och satte mig i bilen för att åka till Helsingborg efter att ha bytt om så var jag just själv. Jag klev ur bilen själv, gick själv genom gatorna och mötte butikspersonalen och dess blickar själv. Fanns ingen att ringa för mobiltelefonen höll precis på att slå igenom och jag hade ju ändå ingen som jag kunde prata med. Det tar att möta livets svårigheter helt själv men det var också väldigt ensamt att inte kunna dela glädjen med någon.

Att göra allt i grupp
Paradoxalt nog kanske upplevelsen hos många tjejer är den motsatta. Allting skedde i gruppen av tjejer där det absolut inte var tal om att vara självständig och sticka ut. Lyssnade på Liv Strömquists utmärkta sommarprat och berördes av hennes konstaterande att när hon gick i skolan så “gjorde tjejer inget”, de tittade mest på när killar gjorde olika saker. Hennes upplevelse verkar istället handla om brist på just självständighet och avsaknaden av tron och upplevelsen av att faktiskt klara av saker själv. Jag är ju uppväxt i samma tid ungefär och kanske är jag också präglad av bilden av tjejer i grupp på gymnasiet. Jag kanske paradoxalt nog längtade efter den grupptillhörigheten samtidigt om just min självständighet säkert var eftersträvansvärt av en del av dem som jag tittade på med sådan längtan. Kanske var det faktum att jag var själv med min situation som gjorde att utanförskapet förstärktes men också att det blev drömmen om ett annat liv. Ett liv där jag som mitt rätta jag faktiskt gjorde saker tillsammans med andra. Eller som Liv uttryckte det att göra “det som ungdomar gör”. Jag gjorde andra saker helt klart.

Innan jag kom ut fanns inte middagar, fester och sociala sammanhang riktigt som koncept i min privata värld. Jag var inte en sån som gick på fest, blev inbjuden hem till folk på middag eller för den delen ordnade en fest själv. Minns inte att vi hade ett sådant socialt liv hemma eller med mina fyra kompisar i Borlänge. I samband med officershögskolan och mitt första jobb där i Ängelholm insåg jag att det fanns en helt annan social värld som jag inte alls var bekant med. Den innehöll också alkohol vilket jag inte hade någon koll på heller. Jag var ovan och mitt sociala liv byggde på det som hände genom Försvaret och kände mig väl aldrig särskilt bekväm med det.  Min allra första fest anordnade jag när jag fyllde 30 år. Jag firade egentligen inte ens min egen födelsedag förrän jag fyllde 25 när min nyvunna vän gjorde en tårta till mig. Det var helt overkligt för mig, inte minst för att det stod Alexandra på den. Det hade jag aldrig vågat drömma om bara två år tidigare. Att någon skulle anstränga sig så för mig och dessutom bekräfta min kvinnliga identitet, wow!

Självförtroende och självkänsla
Liv berättade också om hur hon behövde stöd av andra kvinnor för att tro på sin egen förmåga att skapa saker och hur hon när hon träffade den coola tjejen Märta fick någon att utvecklas tillsammans med. Jag tänker ofta att min uppväxt gav mig det där självförtroendet som många tjejer upplever att de saknar och det är jag faktiskt himla tacksam för. Det finns nästan inga gränser för vad jag tror jag kan göra eller prestera. Däremot fick jag med mig en himla låg självkänsla och den har inte heller förstärkts av att utsättas för “synpunkter” från ett normativt samhälle om att jag är fel. Jag har nog lärt mig att söka bekräftelse för det jag gör och skapar snarare än att förvänta mig att få den som person, för mitt utseende eller så. Kanske är det en faktor som gör mig unik som kvinna men samtidigt så tror jag att en bättre balans vore bra för mig.

Ett helt nytt socialt liv
När då mitt sociala liv formligen exploderade sommaren 1999 blev jag en person som gjorde allt det där som jag inte gjorde förut. Jag var en person som gick på förfest, gick ut och dansade, blev hembjuden på middagar, åt på restaurang och gick på bio (mer på ett år än hela livet tidigare). Tror någonstans att jag fick justera min bild av mig själv både utseendemässigt och inte minst mentalt i form av vad jag värderade som intressant, trevligt och spännande. Visst, det tog många år innan jag på riktigt såg fram emot att gå på en fest men jag blev en mycket mer social person än jag någonsin varit tidigare. Tror att jag nånstans kände mig mer “normal” än på länge trots att jag utseendemässigt säkert bröt normerna en hel del.

Hade några personer där under Ängelholmstiden som jag nog kallade vänner och såg mig som det också. Men i och med min komma-ut-process så försvann de bort i periferin. Sorgligt men sant. Det var nog en slags nystart i hela mitt sociala liv där jag ville vara mig själv och också bli omtyckt för det. Träffade som sagt en massa nya underbara människor men det tog ett litet tag innan jag helt plötsligt upplevde (eller vågade tro på) vänskap igen men nu på en helt ny nivå. Minns den där dagen 2004 tror jag det var när jag gick hemåt och pratade i telefon och hörde “jag som är din vän…” Det var stort och omtumlande.

Inser så här i efterhand att den här perioden innan min utredning började också handlade mycket om att stå i centrum som en slags ambassadör för mig själv och andra transpersoner. Jag som person blev ofta intressant i och med min historia och alla föreläsningar och engagemang gav naturligtvis också massor av bekräftelse och sociala kontakter. Skillnaden var nog att då förväntade jag mig inte att bli bekräftad som kvinna utan tog varje tillfälle som det hände som en slag överraskning eller bonus. Hade ju fortfarande kvar mitt gamla juridiska namn, personnummer och kropp då. Idag är det tvärtom. Jag känner mig verkligen (också fysiskt liksom) som den kvinna jag är och förväntar mig att bli bekräftad som kvinna vilket innebär att slaget när det inte händer bli så mycket hårdare.

Stressen av att gå själv finns kvar
Den här upplevelsen av att känna sig granskad och utsatt ligger med som en lågintensiv stress även idag. Det ÄR inte helt bekvämt att gå själv på stan alltid, allra minst på helgkvällar. Jag upplever sådan skillnad i hur jag uppfattas och hur jag själv känner mig när jag har sällskap att det blir så tydligt när jag är själv igen. Jag finner mig själv tveka på om jag ska gå in på Max eller ta det säkra genom att köra på Drive Through. Kanske minnet av skräcken när jag för första gången stannade ombytt på en vägkrog för att äta middag har satt sina spår. Jag försöker jobba på det för om jag undviker alla potentiella jobbiga situationer så blir det ju bara värre. Insikten jag fått är att det faktiskt inte bara blir bättre utan att jag kan pendla tillbaka i rädsla jag trodde jag var över. Att resa själv finns i nuläget inte på kartan för att jag tror att stressen skulle bli så stor att jag till slut inte ens kan njuta av vare sig shopping eller mat. Jag klarar att resa själv till en plats om det finns andra jag känner där, men där går gränsen idag. Minnet av att vara så utsatt, granskad och häcklad sätter igång så mycket tankar i huvudet just när jag är själv ute bland folk en längre tid.

Tycker jag märker att kvinnor i min ålder och äldre verkligen njuter av att göra saker själva och inte minst självständigheten. Här är vi helt klart på olika plats i livet. Jag är mer som tonåringen som gärna vill ha gruppen som trygghet. Haken ligger väl i att den inte riktigt ligger i gruppen av flator med stenhård jargong. Det har jag provat. Gick inget bra. Visst, jag är singel och då blir man så mycket mer själv, inte minst i vardagen. Åh, vad jag saknar sällskap ibland. Det är inget roligt att gå till festen själv. Just festen som jag aldrig varit riktigt trygg med som koncept. Jag inbillar mig att man kan ladda upp med sällskap och då njuta av stunder när man är själv på ett annat sätt. Kanske ser fram mot en stund för sig själv på flyget på väg till den där konferensen.

Är själv(ständighet) bara en “försvarsreaktion” på att inte ha tryggheten att lita på att andra finns där för en kanske, eller kan de samexistera med balans?

Those annoying reminders about my background

The past week I have been traveling again. First to Switzerland and then to Rome in Italy, both were business trips. Last year I had some bad experiences were I obviously was not passing and got some really bad comments from people. For some reasons these things seem to be more common during spring and summer time so I really hope the experiences over the past week is a precursor of that this year as well.

There were two different kind of situations. The first one was when I together with three older male collegues were visiting Switzerland and one of them several time addressed the Swedish team with expressions like “Hey, boys lets have something to eat” (Grabbar, nu ska vi…). The hard part is that it is from a person that I have worked with for some time and really respects me for my knowledge and experience. So it is not at all meant to disrespect me but said spontaneuosly and almost without even noticing his error himself. I guess it has something to do with the English expressions “Hey, guys…” which can be used for both males and females in some occasions. What really sucks is that when collegues such as him has spent sometime with me there is obviously something about my appearance or voice that makes them not clearly see me as a female. At least not completely. Sure, these kind of comments can happen to genetic females as well but during the trip one of the Swiss officers even said “Let’s have the woman in the middle in the photo…” and he was referring to the other woman in the group. Again clearly spontaneously not thinking of me as a woman. Again not meant to be disrespectful because this was a high-level visit between two countries. Still it happens.

When I think about this I realise that this “Hey, boys…” happens to me at least every months or so at work. Or some other situations were someone starts by saying that, than pauses for quite a while and adds “…and girls…”. It happens in emails were they can start with “Gents, lets have a teleconference….”. It does not hurt the same way as when someone says “he…” maybe because it is an effect of a male-dominated workplace but somehow it adds to put a dent in my self-confidence.

The second situation was the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome when I went to my room during lunch time and found the cleaning staff working in my room. I was wearing my pink shirt, jeans, Coach sneakers and Coach handbag. I met the young women working there for maybe 10 seconds before they went into the room again. Inside the room I heard them whispering in Italian and I understood that they were discussion whether or not I was a transvestite. I became cold and it felt so unfair. What did I do so wrong that they read my so fast? It is of course an impolite and unprofessional behaviour from hotel staff but that is not the thing. The thing is that it put another dent in the self-esteem saying I am not seen as real woman. Again.

All of this puts my recent issues of feeling very uncomfortable at bars and my feeling of not being able to believe in myself as being attractive in the eyes of lesbian women. I mean what is the chance that I am passing at all? And if I am not, what is the chances that she thinks it is ok even though she reads me as woman with transsexual background.

EMC World 2009: Reflections from the Momentum conference

A very hectic week has passed by and EMC World 2009 is over. Just as I did last year I felt like reflecting a about the conference.

First of all many thanks to EMC for listening us and improving a lot of things from the last year. I have been to EMC World 07 and 08 and during both these occasions I felt a little lost as a Documentum customer among all these storage and virtualisation people. Back then I heard people referring with love to past Momentum conferences where the sense of community was there. In November 08 I had the chance to go to Momemtum in Prague as a speaker and it was actually a bit different from EMC World. Suddenly all the focus was on Documentum.

Things well done

So the establishment of a Content Management & Archiving (CMA) Community was just what we all needed. We all got yellow ribbons with text “Momentum” to attach to our badges which made us all much more visible to each other. We got all the sessions in the same area which meant no more running around and the chance to bump into people with those ribbons. Intead of having a very thick catalogue with all sessions merged together into a giant schedule we got our own CMA Show Guide which was really easy to use and made life much easier to me. Next to all the sessions we had a beautiful  Momentum Lounge which was manned all day around. You could even meet CMA executives for drinks after sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. It had nice sofas and chairs togeter with soft red lighting which made it quite cosy. In the solutions exhibitions all CMA Booths were gathered in the same area with a separate graphic profile then the rest of the EMC booths. Around the CMA booth you found all the CMA partners co-located. Finally we had our own CMA Party on Monday evening which was well attended as far I saw. In addition to that we finally seem to have a working online community both for Documentum and XML Technologies.

[nggallery id=4]

There was also a great thing to create a Blogger’s lounge where all people who blogged and Twittered could register. Outside the lounge there was a large screen displaying what we all were saying more or less live. And the Vanilla Latte served there was a life saver! On Tuesday their Barista started making mine as soon as I passed the entrance 🙂 What a service! I think EMC actually made social media into a working business tool here. Really something to build on. If you have not done it search for #emcworld on Twitter to see what it was all about.

I attened one Product Advisory Forum (PAF) around the new Enterprise Search Server (ESS) and that was a great experience. Ed Bueche and Aamir Farooq did a great job to inspire great discussions between us customers and the engineering team. I attended PAFs in Prague as well and those were also a great part of the conference.

We had access to wireless internet all around the conference area and that is vital for a conference like this. Especially for us who Blog and Tweet!

Things to improve

First of all EMC is a company which has a payoff saying “Where Information Lives” and touts itself as an information infrastructure company. I assume that all means digital information and is it something we Documentum people care about then it is information management. Then it does make a lot of sense taking notes and searching the web on a laptop computer during sessions. After all we are IT-nerds 🙂 Please get us some rooms with sufficient number of power outlets!

Why not even extend it further and use your own technology to integrate Tweets, Blog posts with the conference schedule so we more or less can interact live around sessions. It would even make sense for me at least to being able to register that I am attending a conference (voluntary of course) using the online profile community that alre which would make it even easier

There seem to be fewer sessions in general and especially I believe the number of developer oriented ones have become significantly fewer. I am not a coder myself so I actually think it makes sense to have sessions focused on people writing code and other with different advancement levels for us focusing on architectures, features and business cases. Another thing I noted is that there are no call for papers to EMC World the same way it works for Momentum (Europe). I think use cases from customers are an important part of the conference and it would be great to find a way to get them back in.

Please also have a look at what Word of Pie had to say about this year’s conference.

See you next year in Boston!

Moving to a new server

This week I will be moving my page back home to a server in Sweden so my blog can become unavailable for a couple of days at worst. I hope the new server will be faster and create a snappier feeling for You my readers.

Tomorrow Tuesday I am heading off to the United Kingdom again. Maybe I end up behind the steering wheel of our rental again. Driving on the “wrong side” is still an interesting experience that sometime requires all my attention to avoid my driving habits from the right side of the road.

The Land of Affirmations

I spent last week in Las Vegas, Nevada and as usual I enjoyed being in the United States again. On my way back home again last Friday/Saturday I started thinking what it is that makes me like it there. Sure I think I am more pro-US than most Swedes are and it always nice to go on a long trip – it is almost like an adventure. But there must be something more to it…

First of all I think the gender roles are a bit more accentuated in the US especially among the business (or military) people that I normally meet. It is something about how people dress I think. Women are in general a little bit more formal (during daytime) than what is common in Sweden and also in general a little bit more makeup. Match that to a style which favours sneakers (during leisure time) together with pink colors and it fits me like a glove 🙂 So I actually think I blend in better in terms of my looks in the US. All of this are generalisations of course but still. I actually feel a little less stared at in the US which of course is a big relief for me.

However, what really affects me is the constant affirmations I get everyday when I am being adressed as “Miss” or “M’am”. Lately I seem to have became more of a “M’am” than “Miss” actually I think I feel rather good about that. The first times years back I noticed this of course and became very happy but I guess I became used to it over the years while forgetting the effect it had on me. It is very good for my mind to get these affirmations when being addressed on the aircraft, at the hotel reception and at lunch. It secures me on my “pink cloud” where I feel secure and proud of myself.

Actually there are very few wrong pronouns when I am in the US also. I can hardly remember when anybody over there used the wrong one for me the last time. Here in Sweden it happened just a few weeks ago at the Headquarters in the middle of a meeting.

So I guess America is good for my self-esteem. Fortunately I am flying back there on Monday morning and will stay in the Virginia area for two weeks.

Note to non-Swedes: In Sweden the equivalents of Mr/Miss/Mrs are hardly used any more. Maybe if you get a very formal invitation from the King, otherwise it is usually done with some kind of humorous remark. It is very informal conversational climate.

Lovely weekend in Berlin

Christmas in Berlin 2009 with friends
So after getting up really early I landed at Berlin Schönefeld around 8 in the morning and despite the rain it felt great to finally be there. Struggled a while to understand the ticket machines at the S-bahn station close to the airport and finally I was on my way to the central part of Berlin where Mikael had rented really cool apartments where we all could stay. Got off the train at Alexanderplatz and took a cab the last bit which turned out really short. The apartments where really nice with a very modern and designed look. I decided to get some sleep before heading out on the streets of Berlin and it was so welcome to slip between warm and clean sheets in the bed.

In the afternoon we set off towards KaDeWe where Mikael was doing some intense Christmas gift shopping on the top floor but we were all quite hungry so we stopped a nice coffee house and I had a warm sandwich and a wonder full Vanilla Latte. It felt great to be walking around Berlin again (have been there once before) and feel the pulse of a big city. The apartment store KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) is similar in style to NK here in Stockholm but so much bigger – almost beyond understanding. We browsed through the top floor devoted to food and it was so much to look at. Found a nice and expensive Chinese tea for my brother together with a cool designed tea can. We also passed a bottle of Champagne which had a retail price of 5990 EUR (!). The Christmas decorations where also very interesting to look at together with vast array of home interior design things. Finished off in the lingerie department which I found two nice chairs for my tired friends to rest in while I walked around looking at wonderful pieces of underwear. It is so fun with underwear this days – the surgery has really changed this for me. I found a very nice piece with bra and panties from the german company Mey which fitted me perfectly on the first try. The size was 80C this time. It is so fun to buy underwear and I felt great to have found another set already.

In the evening we fixed some canapés to the champagne (and a very small cute bottle of non-alcoholic white wine for me) which we had before heading for dinner in the evening. It was great sitting there with friends in a cool Berlin apartment eating and drinking. For the dinner we had found a rather interesting Italian place rather close to the apartments. It was housed in a pretty large stand-alone house which had a huge set of stairs in the entrance. The place was very casual with lots of scribblings and pictures of Che Guevara on the walls. I think my left-oriented friends liked a lot and I felt it was exotic 🙂 The pizzas we had were of high quality even though I missed the herbs on top. After the dinner we headed of to the Roses Bar which is completely decorated in pink and rather psychedlic lights. The music was great and it was a fun bar to be in. We must have been rather exotic because people stared at us a lot and I don’t think it was me this time.

After that bar the time was around 1 o´clock in the morning and I felt I needed to head back to be able to make it in time for the flight 12.40 the next day. However, I sometimes feel a bit boring these times and always wonder if I maybe should be better to stay around and possibly see more things and meet more people. Some of the others end up returning home at 9 in the morning and then some of the big clubs were still open (some don’t even get crowed before 5-6 in the morning). On the other hand I need to be better to do what I feel I want to and I did not felt like being totally wasted of tiredness the day after, especially after my early morning from Skavsta airport. So I went home and had a nice time chatting before heading to bed around 3 in the morning.

Missed my flight tonight

Sometimes I wonder why I do as I do. Tonight I had made a reservation on a SAS flight to Berlin to celebrate a friend of mine’s birthday. I ended up missing the flight and I was really sad. Maybe because I initially had some doubts about this trip anyway and this almost seemed like a sign that I weren’t supposed to go there. Yes, I cried. I am very emotional these days. Then I started thinking about why this happened. I still have not that much excess energy I think which makes me push things into the future when I can. Still feeling the effects of lost love a bit which does not help either. I actually got some energy back in the beginning of the week where I met with people two nights in a row which was very nice. Lost some steam at the end of the week though.

I also I have a general tendency to be a time-optimist and often end up being a little late because I try to do a little bit too much all the time. Sometimes it is of course also because I feel very tired in the morning and can’t do much to shorten my morning routine. This being late-thing also has to do with my previous fear of waiting for people alone in public places where it was easier to show up a little late to avoid that waiting alone.

So today I went to my old work in Uppsala for some annual tasks, then to FOI to pick up a USB-stick, then to my makeup store and finally to eat something down at the City Center Mall. Managed to place some calls to both the Cable-TV company (ordered HDTV) and my Internet Service Provider in the car. Felt I had been rather productive today. On my way to my car I decided to see if I could find a birthday present for my friend so I went inside the bookshop even though I knew time was running short. I guess I missed the flight there. After that I took my car back home and it went better than I thought despite the Christmas traffic in central Stockholm. Still I realised I was getting a bit late but I did not really think I realised how late I was. Got home and started packing my suitcase as fast as I could. Here comes the next part of the explantation I think. There are quite a few things that I really can’t forget when I am traveling and it is a bit stressful to try to think of everything that need to go into the suitcase. Why don’t do the packing the day before then? Because I most of the stuff that is really important is something I use both in the evening and in the morning.

Finally I was ready and headed for the bus stop and saw the rear end of the bus moving away from the bus stop. Checked the display which said that the next bus was due in 13 minutes. Think I lost around 20 minutes there so when I finally arrived at Arlanda Airport there was 25 minutes left to the plane would leave. Even though I had checked in online they refused to accept my suitcase and that was that. It was the first time I had missed a flight.

Ended up feeling like I have failed to be there for my friend but also failed to take the chance to have some great fun on my leisure time. Also felt very confused because I am a rather seasoned traveller who have been abroad 8 times already this year. How could I do this?? After a while I gathered myself and found a Ryanair flight for around 1100 SEK which I finally booked. It would leave 6.30 in the morning which meant that I had to leave home around 3.25 or so. Would not be much sleep for me then – I wonder if I could fall asleep at all before that.

Speaking at Momentum 08 in Prague on Tuesday

I have arrived to Prague today to attend EMC’s Momentum 08 conference which focuses around their Documentum product line. I love travelling and especially flying and have no problem at all spending time at big international airports. However, being by yourself in big towns when heading for a dinner is not always that nice. However, now I am having a great time after a warm bath and lying in my bathrobe watching BBC World and using my computer.

On Tuesday at 0945 I will be speaking at the conference. My session in the Software Development Track is called “Active Knowledge Management using Documentum D6.5”. The full description looks like this:

The Swedish Armed Forces uses EMC Documentum D6.5 at the Joint Concepts Development and Experimentation Centre to develop staff procedures for a next-generation operational HQ. Based on the knowledge support concept, a customized EMC Documentum solution, using multiple user interfaces to access all kinds of digital content, has been developed.

My presentation will cover our workflow implementation using TaskSpace and BAM, our customized relationship object, graphical visualization of relationship and our integration with external search engines and GIS-systems. It will be interesting to get some reactions to our concept and how we make use of the Documentum platform. I hope for reactions not only from EMC employees but also from other big customers.

Download the full conference programme

A wonderful weekend in the Kingdom of Crystal

The wonderful A is in Småland to take care of her parents’ (and childhood) house when they are away on a vacation and she invited me to come visit her this weekend. I was really happy about this since it meant that we could spend even more time together and get to know each other even further. Even though we had long walks and talks before it is different to spend a weekend together. This summer have in many sense been different for me. It has been very intense with a lot of wonderful moments but also lots of tears (at least more than usual). I really feel it is positive since I feel more alive than ever before I think. New emotions and ones that I have not experienced for a while. A has definitely been giving me a lot of great moments and lots of positive energy. I know that neither of us seem ready for any commitments right now, instead we can keep continuing exploring the paths around us and maybe (hopefully) we end up walking along one of them hand in hand later on. So with that in mind it was just wonderful to spend a lot of leisure time together with her and being completely spoiled by her great food. I think it gave us both a chance to see how we are without our makeup on (a huge step for me!) and how we do our daily routines. A lot of time to talk as well and we certainly have things to talk about!

The place felt like “mitt i mörkaste Småland” – way-out on the countryside but still in the middle of what is called the Kingdom of Crystal where all the famous Swedish crystal pieces are made. A lot of tourists come here each year. It was a little bit strange seeing her in that environment and see how she seemed to know her way around. It feels far away from what I right now appreciate – loving big cities and all. However, soon I remembered that even though this is the place where she grew up it is not what she is comfortable with either. She is also a real city girl nowadays and love living in Stockholm. It is just interesting to note these things because different environment sometimes puts a frame around people in some way. Anyhow I really liked being there because it was so calm and relaxed with only the occasional car passing by.

We had the chance to go shopping together at the Kosta Outlet and she proved once again that she is a real Fashion Dyke 🙂 I guess she even likes shoes more than I do and I think we spent over an hour at the shoe store and we both found shoes that we liked at very good prices. We also had a real outdoor moment when we put on rain clothes and Wellington boots to walk the two dogs in the forest. I was a little bit worried at first since I got dog-bitten a couple of weeks ago but these dogs where very nice although very energetic so it went just fine. It was even nice to be in the forest for some time but this time on my own terms instead of some military exercise. Anyway in all a wonderful weekend and it was a little hard to say goodbye in the Sunday afternoon. I almost got used to having her around…

Småland pictures