Lasting Impressions

Last week, during a visit to Karlstad for a concert at the Wermland Opera, I attended a walking tour at one of the city’s cemeteries. The guide talked about various women buried there who had contributed to city’s development in significant ways, some even earning international fame.

I had planned on writing this post about three important women in my life several weeks ago but kept putting it aside for later. The guided tour inspired me to actually finish the post and while the tour definitely coincided with the International Women’s Day, this post does not. But these three wonderful people deserve mentioning regardless of what day it is.

(March 13th is apparently recognised by the Swedish Internet Foundation as source criticism day. They even have an entire livestreamed web conference about it!)

Carrie Wink, wearing a hat which I don’t think is an original design

The first time I went to MAGFest back in January 2011 was also the first time I met Carrie: designer, seamstress and entrepreneur who at that time was already established as a travelling merchant, selling handmade fleece hats and other accessories at various enthusiast conventions around the United States. Back in 2011, we hung out at the convention in between her shifts, and we have stayed in touch ever since. We have even visited each other multiple times, even as we have moved to different parts of our respective countries.

I really admire Carrie’s tenacity and drive. She could have picked a much easier life, with a stable income and a regular, predictable schedule. Instead, she has dedicated herself to her passion project and worked through good times as well as bad, honing it into a thriving business. She also makes wonderful designs, not only for her fleece hats which are her signature item, but also textile prints, designs and patterns for various other accessories, even clothing.

In fact, I have seen first-hand how she’s grown a not insignificant fanbase as well within the different enthusiast communities she caters to. This year, I came to MAGFest as Carrie’s assistant, helping her run her booth at the convention’s merchant area. Time and again, visitors would come up to Carrie’s booth, break into a smile at the cute and funny items on offer, and usually leave with something.

I even had several customers tell me enthusiastically about fleece hats or other items they’d bought from Carrie in the past and were still using. (I am actually one of them, myself; I bought a Shiba inu hat from Carrie back in 2011, and it’s still in excellent condition. I wear it proudly every winter.)

I have been a proud owner of this Carrie Wink fleece hat since 2011.

Another person I admire (although of course, in this case especially I am terribly biased) is my wonderful fiancée, Emma. Right after getting her master’s degree earlier this year, she was headhunted for an internship position at the department where she studied. By sheer coincidence, not long after, a doctoral student position opened up at that same department, which she applied for – and only the other week, she was offered that position. (She accepted the offer.)

This string of successes is not only a lucky streak, but also the result of hard and meticulous work over many long hours as I can personally attest to. I have seen her fight through her many years of studies as well as clinical work, and she really has earned all of it. Sure – it was indeed lucky that first the internship, and then the doctoral position, came available at just the right times when she could apply for them. However, if not for her hard work up until those times, she would not have been eligible as a candidate for either. Setting herself up to be such an excellent match for both positions is her own doing.

When I first met Emma some seven years ago, it was her humour and looks that first attracted me, but her enthusiasm, dedication, humour and intelligence really made me fall in love with her and I am incredibly fortunate to get to have her in my life.

Someone else who rarely, if ever, extols her own virtues – even though she has every right to – is my own mother, Gunilla. In her twenties, after graduating from music college as a piano major, her first job was a temp position at the phonograph archive of the Swedish Radio, soon after advancing to become secretary to the head of the radio’s chamber music department. A few years later still, at the tail end of the 1960’s, she moved on to work at the recently founded government arts foundation, Rikskonserter (”National Concerts Foundation”).

At Rikskonserter, she started out working as an editor for the music periodical Tonfallet and for programme booklets for the different concerts Rikskonserter organised. When the printed booklets were supplanted with EP recordings, my mother joined that team as a producer. In the early 1970’s, Rikskonserter launched the record label Caprice (which is still active today!) with my mother as one of its original record producers, and for many years the only woman.

Gunilla stayed at Caprice, working as a record producer while learning cutting and editing hands-on by working with the engineers, before long starting to edit recordings herself. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, at Caprice and later returning once again to the Swedish Radio, she kept working as a record producer and audio engineer, cementing a reputation as a meticulous and hard-working professional and earning herself almost a legendary status in some circles.

Gunilla Saulesco, my mother, taking notes in a score. Photo from an article about her (in Swedish) published in 2017.

Also, she kept on performing as a pianist throughout her career, particularly as a duo together with my father. They even made a recording together in 1982 at the Swiss radio, since 2010 known as Radio Télevision Suisse. I helped her publish the recording on Spotify a few years ago and it’s still available to listen online.

Categorised as Blog posts

Composer, arranger and songwriter for performance, recording, broadcast and interactive media.