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Biography

1. My name is Karin, but my husband can't pronounce it correctly. I have almost forgotten what it's supposed to sound like.

2. When I was young and ambitious/naive, I thought I would spend my life rescuing endangered animals and feeding orphaned elephants.

3. Fifteen years later, I have rescued a grand total of two stray dogs.

4. At least those dogs are still alive!

5. I have never fed an elephant but I am making very sure my husband and daughter eat three meals a day.

6. Growing up, I loved classic English children's books like Just William, or anything by Enid Blyton or Edith Nesbitt.

7. I think that's why moving to England felt a lot like coming home.

8. I grew up in Finland, but I speak Swedish. This used to be something I enjoyed educating people about (see above: ambitious and naive), but now I just sigh and say "It's like Canada. Two languages."

9. I really miss certain things about Finland, but I don't think I could ever move back.

10. Two things shocked me about England: the traffic and the littering.

11. I still love the fact that people smile and say hello, though. If people think that Englishmen are cold and unfriendly, they should try Finland.

12. I spent two years on a kibbutz in Israel.

13. Although I loved it, I realized that there was no way I could spend my life in such a hot country.
14. On the other hand, all the attention that comes with being a blonde in a Mediterranean country was fun.

15. But seeing as I'd just met my husband-to-be, I couldn't make the most of it.

16. When I was fifteen, I taught myself Greek. I can read it, and I still have a vague idea of what people are talking about when I'm in Greece.

17. I also have a vague idea of what people are talking about if they're speaking Hebrew. I can read Hebrew too, come to think of it.

18. I am fluent in Swedish, English, Finnish and French. Fluent enough to read actual, proper books and have real conversations. This pleases me.

19. I can read magazines in German and Spanish, and understand most of what is said. Just don't ask me to say anything out loud.

20. It should come as no surprise that I studied linguistics and literature at university.

21. I actually started out studying biology. However, as I hated all the teachers, found all the courses boring, and was appallingly bad at everything, I quit.

22. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't quit.

23. I suppose the truth is that I prefer things that are easy and that I am good at.

24. I used to be petrified of driving, but since my daughter was born I have learned to cope well enough to get around to where I need to be, mostly.

25. I am lucky enough to have the most brilliantly clever and wonderfully gorgeous daughter ever. Seriously.

26. As well as two geriatric rescue dogs, I am also the proud caretaker of two ancient rabbits. One of them is ELEVEN.

27. My cleaner told me that I should phone the Guinness Book of Records about my rabbit.

28. I have a cleaner, which sits somewhat uneasily with my lutheran-scandinavian-guilt-and-social-equality-complex.

29. The fact that my house is cleaned once a week makes it quite easy to ignore those feelings of unease.

30. When I was 18, I was an au pair in a French family who were completely evil. I had to run away from them after two weeks. The memory of it still makes me shudder.

31. I went back to that area of France for my honeymoon, and had a wonderful time.

32. I had a very small wedding, and that was one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made.

33. Our wedding was THE loveliest wedding ever.

34. My dress was incredibly cheap, for a wedding dress. It was beautiful.

35. Seeing as it's been hanging in the loft/attic ever since, I think a cheap dress was a very sensible decision.

36. I love Chinese food.

37. I also love pizza.

38. Unsurprisingly, I love pasta.

39. I think it's fair to say my food tastes are very average.

40. I am, however, very fussy about things like quality and taste.

41. I would rather go without than eat bland, yucky food.

42. Obviously I would not rather starve than eat bland food. But in school, I survived on milk and crackers rather than eat the hideous things they served at the canteen.

43. For some reason, people always assume that I am a vegetarian.

44. I eat vegetarian food four or five days a week.

45. But I love steak, and lamb, and chicken. And pasta bolognese. And liver paté.

46. I love fish, too. Eating it, I mean.

47. When I was pregnant, I thought breastfeeding would be really easy.

48. I knew that the books said it could be difficult, but I assumed it would be easy for ME.

49. Breastfeeding was an absolute nightmare to begin with.

50. In the first two months, I had bleeding nipples, two bouts of mastitis, and weird shooting/burning pains after each feed.

51. The mastitis was made more complicated by the fact that I am allergic to penicillin, so I had to take an antibiotic called erythromycin.

52. Erythromycin made me violently sick.

53. For ten days, I ate only crackers, bananas and plain pasta, to avoid being sick.

54. There was also a week of pumping, throwing my milk away and feeding my daughter formula, but I'll tell you about that some other time.

55. I cried a lot about all my breastfeeding traumas.

56. Somehow, though, I got through it. I didn't stop breastfeeding. I carried on until two days before my daughter's second birthday.

57. I am incredibly proud of the fact that I didn't give up (see above: prefers things that are easy.)

58. I tend not to tell people that I breastfed for two years. In this country, it freaks people out.

59. If you live in this country, and know me in real life, please forget I ever told you.

60. I read a lot.

61. I like books by people like Stephen King and Nora Roberts.

62. I also like books by people like Richard Yates, Thomas Hardy and Alice Walker.

63. I can get through a book quite quickly by reading little and often, which is helpful when you have a toddler in the house.

64. I suppose I read one or two books a week.

65. I enjoy cooking, but often feel stuck in a rut.

66. Trying to be an adventurous cook is tricky with a toddler in the house.

67. Last year, my favourite cook book was Ottolenghi.

68. I have never had what you would call a real job, like being a waitress or having an office job.

69. I have delivered newspapers.

70. I have looked after children.

71. I have milked cows and fed calves.

72. That sort of sums up my career in the real world.

73. I have a real job now, with a salary and actual clients and responsibilities.

74. But since it's in my husband's business and I work from home, it doesn't feel like a real job.

75. Still, I think I'm quite good at it.

76. I hate beer.

77. I hate black coffee.

78. One of my all-time favourite films is Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

79. I like weird folksy music and wailing women, according to my husband.

80. Actually, my musical tastes stretch from Kelis to Kate & Anna McGarrigle, via Manu Chao and CajsaStina Åkerström.

81. I don't think that's particularly weird.

82. Thanks to my dad, I'm quite good at identifying birds.

83. Thanks to my mum, I quite like gardening.

84. Thanks to my two younger brothers, I have excellent leadership skills.

85. I lead my husband and daughter around all day long. Plus the dogs.

86. The rabbits ignore my leadership skills.

87. I love cheesy teenage dramas like One Tree Hill and 90210.

88. I am addicted to America's Next Top Model.

89. I think Dallas was the most incredible soap ever.

90. I used to watch Dallas with my grandmother when I was ten.

91. I really miss my grandmother.

92. I miss all my grandparents. They're all dead, sadly.

93. I am approaching the end of this list and need a happier subject to finish with.

94. I like kittens! And roses! And chocolate, too!

95. I am actually a member of a chocolate tasting club.

96. They send me a box of amazing chocolates six times a year.

97. I also have a Wii Fit to counteract all the chocolate eating.

98. When I was pregnant, I ate a LOT of chocolate.

99. This may explain why my daughter was so big that she could only come out through a hole in my stomach.

100. Next time, I may not eat quite as much chocolate.

101. Then again, I might.