25 May 2006

Wow...the more I learn, the less I know.

I got a comment on my site from mylifeinstockholm and after reading a bunch of her posts, I had a look at her links list and found Amerikanska (which is Swedish for "American").

I so desperately wanted to become a Swedish citizen while I was an exchange student, and the more I check out the forums, the more I realize that it would have been really tough, especially the way I thought I COULD do it, which was probably not legal anyway. I wanted to either (a) just stay in Sweden with my legal student visa, but overstay the visa and just "apply" for citizenship {uh, yeah, I was 17, it seemed like a great idea} or (b) come back to the US, finish High School and do the application process while I was doing my final year of HS so that I could attend University in Sweden. Why didn't I? Well, my parents hated the idea, and I was 17, for one.

I've spent about 3 hours reading all kinds of posts on Amerikanska, and seems to me that lots and lots and lots of the folks who post there moved b/c of the Swede in their life...boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. I had a Swedish boyfriend that I would have totally moved there for, but praise Jeebus that I didn't. Bastard. He broke my heart, but it was more than half my lifetime ago now, and no, I'm really not still bitter about it. I married my Prince Charming more than 6 years ago and wouldn't change it for the world.

The thing that would have been scary about moving to Sweden for the ex's sake is that I noticed a statistic that 17% or 21% of the relationships actually survive, the rest end, and while it might end badly, or it might end well, any marriage that ends before "till death do us part" wasn't a resounding success. That's really scary. What a leap of faith, too, and how incredibly awesome, to move for the sake of love. I admire the hell outta that. It has to be exciting, terrifying, wonderful, and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I wanted to move there because I loved Sweden, and by the end of the year that I lived there, I spoke the language fluently. A large part of wanting to live there was the fact that I thought my parents were way too strict, my host parents were pretty easygoing, and I got away with just about anything I wanted to do. I was 3,000 miles away from home. Europe was so cool, so cosmopolitan.

And then it looks like the Swedish immigration authorities make it really hard to move there if there isn't a spouse, family member, a company who has a job waiting for you....you can't really just "move" to Sweden because ya wanna.

Which leads me back to my rants on immigration here in the states. I'm going to have to do a bunch of research to find out what the rules are to become a legal immigrant here in the states, since I've never had any occasion to check into that.

We're heading out tonight for the Indy 500, and then I'm going down to Florida to see my relatives, so I'll be offline for a while. Probably for the longest amount of time that I've been without a computer since 2000. Yikes. Hope you're well!!

24 May 2006

More thoughts about the culture wars

How could I have forgotten MUSIC!! as an essential part of any culture? Food, too. The exchange program that I participated in 15 years ago (GAH, can it really have been that long?) had/has a strong emphasis on culture. But I couldn't sum up the Swedish culture in a few paragraphs any more easily than I could my own, unless I used some broad stereotypical generalizations. And I won't do that, because I hate it when someone does that to me.

If you know me IRL, then you've probably been invited to my Midsömmar party, (June 24th, 7 pm!!) and in the next few weeks as the party draws ever closer, I'll be doing bits about Midsummer and Swedish culture so that any newbies have some all-important backstory.

23 May 2006

Weft, weave, warp.

I attended a Boy Scout graduation ceremony the other night. I was there for work, and while I'm intentionally coy about what I do for a living so that I don't get dooced, I will tell you that I gave a speech. I don't have any kids, and my siblings were both sisters, so I've never had any exposure to the Boy Scouts. The only thing that I knew about them was the Supreme Court cases that made the news a coupla years ago when they tossed a boy who was an atheist. And my assumption was that it was a cult of sorts. This meeting didn't change my opinion of that, really. I still think it is a cult of sorts, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. While the focus of the evening was very incredibly scarily religious, the things the Boy Scouts teach aren’t all bad. But that’s not really what I want to talk about tonight. What I got to thinking about instead of the cult as I sat there and listened was something else.

What makes a culture? What weaves together the fabric of a society? What makes us identify with one culture or another? Boys all over America take part in scouting, and have that shared experience as part of their cultural heritage. As I drove home, I called my oldest friend, and we talked about what the quintessential American childhood experience is. Is it playing baseball? Scouts? I did both, and yet, when I was a teenager, I would have rather died than admit to my citizenship. And baseball and scouting are only a small part of the picture; there’s so much else that makes a culture. Language, dress, ritual. Although I suppose if you stretched the definition of ritual, baseball and scouts could both fit comfortably in there.

Today, when W makes a speech and says things that are counter to every ideal that I hold, I cringe. The last time I was in Europe in 2003, someone asked me where I was from because my accent confused him. I took a deep breath, looked at the floor, then squared my shoulders and looked the guy in the eye and said, "I'm an American." That was really hard for me. Isn’t that terrible? I was not ashamed, but rather more fearful. The political climate wasn't good then (and isn't better now) and I expected a backlash. Didn't get it that time, but I feel that I have to be careful about expressing my beliefs, even here in the states. The other day, I told someone that I keep a blog about the abortion debate after talking to her for just a few minutes. She grimaced, and then asked, “Pro-life or pro-choice?” When I answered pro-choice, she frowned, and since it wasn’t the time or place to get into a loud verbal disagreement, I smiled, and said, “Isn’t that what makes this country great? I can have my opinion, and you can have yours, even when it is wrong.” Then I walked away. :-p

I remember being told in elementary school that America was the greatest country in the world. That’s an opinion, not a fact. Yet it was preached as the gospel. And it irritates me beyond belief how much of that bullshit I was spoon fed as a kid. Not just in school, but at church too, is it any wonder how distrustful I am of organized religion these days? But last night I was reminded again that my doubt and distrust of the establishment and of religion is a minority viewpoint.

The people at the church where the Boy Scout meeting was held weren’t monsters, nor were they really out of the mainstream. I am. While that bothers me a little bit, it bothers me for a couple of reasons. One is that I can’t believe that the majority of folks can’t see through all of that craziness. Another is that the conditioning I got in school worked well; I don’t like being out of the mainstream so much when it makes me a target.

Important parts of American culture are the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and in two hundred and thirty years, that hasn’t changed. The things that have changed are too numerous to list, but I wonder what the framers of the constitution would think about the medium and the message today. The neat thing about the constitution is that it is adaptable, but the writers and signatories of the document wrote something that has only needed to be amended 27 times in 230 years. I think the starting point for any discussion about American culture needs to be there. I wonder where it might be for the rest of the world?

22 May 2006

Today, Cancer-Free!

I went to have my stitches removed this morning, thank goodness. They were ITCHY! It looks like hell, but according to cute doctor man it is healing well. And it wasn't cancer, but since I didn't write down what he said it was I can't remember. He did say it was just as well that I had it off, it was large and went deeper than he expected. Whooooooo, I don't have skin cancer!

Next up? I'm heading to Florida to visit some family next week. I'm taking lots and lots of sunscreen! I burn super-easily....thanks to my Northern-European heritage, I'm about as white as you can be. In the summer, I am rarely without my SPF 30, and you can be sure that while I'm in Florida, applying sunscreen will be the first thing I do as soon as I get out of the shower each morning. Sunburn is NO FUN. I won't have access to the computer at all from May 30th to June 3rd, so I'll be suffering internet deprivation, but I hope you're all doing just fine.

And over Memorial Day weekend I'm going to the INDY 500!!!!!!!!!! (Not that I'm excited about that or anything.) Strictly speaking, DH and I aren’t NASCAR fans, but anything with engines and wheels, as my dad says, can hold my interest. We visit antique car shows every summer, and try to make it to the North American International Auto Show (NAIS) in Detroit every January. I’ve always liked Formula 1 racing, and you can’t grow up in America without having been to a drag racing strip, but this will be my first major race, so I’m excited about that and about the chance to possibly meet Danica Patrick, which may or may not happen, but I’ll post a pic if it does. If I do, I want to ask her about what she thinks about women’s rights, but I doubt I’ll get the opportunity. She was in a Parade article the other day talking about her weight, and how she needs to stay a certain weight for racing. Interesting, nes pa, that I’ve never heard Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr. talk about their weight…


20 May 2006


Something I like to do when I don't have any particular task ahead of me is to click the Blogger Nav Bar's "Next Blog" button. I've found some interesting (and terrifying) things that way, but mostly it is just entertaining. Tonight, however, I'm reminded of the Dollis Hill loop that Scaryduck had going on in his Mornington Crescent game post recently. I kept getting tossed to a site called "Yadda Yadda News", which somehow doesn't have a Blogger Nav Bar, so I could only get off of it by going back to the last site and clicking Next Blog again. Supposedly, that is completely random, but I got shunted to Yadda Yadda about 4 times, from different blogs. That was annoying. And then I also got tossed to a couple of sites with really bad spelling. Am I the only one who uses spell check? One woman spelled cholesterol colestral. ICK.

18 May 2006

Fighting mad, but also very glum.

Check out Dan Savage's latest column, which is syndicated, but I think easiest to find in The Stranger, (he just happens to be the editor, too). In particular, the last few paragraphs, where he talks about the Straight Rights Update. I knew things were bad on the contraception rights front, but I had no clue they were THIS bad. Take this quote, for instance. Judie Brown, president of the American Life League: "We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion. The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set.... We oppose all forms of contraception."

Because having sex for fun is BAD, BAD, people. You should apparently only ever have sex with the intetion of creating a child. Otherwise, you are anti-child, anti-christian, and according to the President Idiot Administration, anti-american as well. Now, I'm used to being called anti-american. It only ever serves to amuse, because the fact that I am expressing my opinion in any public forum is the very heart and soul of American democratic rights, but in the early days of the current Iraq war, whenever I expressed opposition to it, I was branded, you guessed it, anti-american.

I do a lot of public speaking in my work, and I tell stories about small groups of people who changed the world. I'm feeling glum b/c I don't feel like I can change anything, and these attacks on your civil liberties are serious things. Aren't you frightened? Worried? You ought to be. DO SOMETHING!

12 May 2006

Personal Ick Factor: 7 out of 10.

Although I know that writing blog posts about dreams and medical problems isn't a great idea, I'm going to do it anyway. I wrote about some odd dreams a week or so ago and today I'm going to describe a medical thing that I went through.

Once upon a time, I was 15 and in my school's drama club. I had a small non-speaking role in our spring play, and while at play practice, was sitting on the scaffolding that was stored backstage. Hearing my cue, I jumped up and promptly missed a step off of the scaffolding, thereby giving myself a lovely wound on my shin, which besides hurting like the dickens, left a scar that I still have today. About a week later, near that same spot, I noticed a little brown bump, kind of like a mole, but not a mole, exactly. I thought that either I had a new bruise or a new mole and never really gave it much thought.

Fast-forward about 15 years, to last year, when my mother had a bout of skin cancer. Her skin cancer was a small bump on her nose that had changed color. They removed it, no worries, no chemo, and warned her to use lots of sunscreen and keep an eye on things like that should they change size, color, or do anything else weird. OK, duly noted, thanks! I thought about my leg bump at that time, but since it was still the same color and shape, and didn't hurt or anything like that, I left it alone. About 3 weeks ago, my bump started to itch. Lots. I actually broke through the skin by scratching at it in my sleep. And the color had changed from a brown very similar to Crayola's brown crayon to a sickly greenish with some brown bits. Not good. I called my family doc, someone I've known forever, since before he was a doctor, and explained all about my bump. Since it wasn't really raised up from the skin like a mole, I expected that he would refer me to a surgeon to dig it out. (First ick factor.) No, he thought he could get rid of it just fine in the office, which is A-OK with me. I'd MUCH rather deal with him and his office staff than have some outpatient surgery.

Today was my appointment, and ick-s number 2-7 are all about how he really dug this thing out of my leg. The easily grossed out should probably not read the rest. Fair warning has been given!!

First, the nurse had a look at the spot, and assured me that she though he could get it out without referring me to a specialist. Then he had a look at it while the nurse shuttled in and out of the room with all kinds of sterile supplies that I was very careful to not look at....scissors, some weird tweezers, two packets of sutures, a syringe (which is what I really ought to not look at, because I haaateee needles) a scalpel that he wouldn't let me see, and what seemed like a huge amount of sterile sheeting. Then there was also a specimen bottle, cause they need to ship this thing off to the lab after they remove it to make sure it isn't skin cancer. 2nd ick factor, the thought that I might end up having cancer. Fan-fucking-tastic. Oh, and the nurse brought in Novocain.

They covered my leg with the sterile sheeting, which had a hole in it just a wee bit bigger than my bump. They rubbed the spot with alcohol, then started giving me shots of Novocain. Damn, that shit burns. And the bump is right near my shinbone, so the skin's pretty thin there. I lost count of the number of shots. I had a knitting book in my hand and was determined to not look, but who was I kidding? I looked, and asked lots of questions. He made 4 straight cuts, all around the bump, boxing it in. At the tail end of the last one, I felt the knife and said, "OW!" and he said, "You can feel that?" Yup. So he gave me about another 4 shots of Novocain and then started to remove the bump. I stopped watching for a bit then, but he snipped the skin and used the weird tweezers to pick up what he cut out. 3rd ick factor, hearing the snipping and knowing it was my skin.

He explained that the two types of sutures were because he needed to build back up what he took out, and one type of stitch goes in the sub-cetaceous layer of skin and the other goes into the dermis. Maybe I'm crazy, but that kind of thing is interesting to me. I watched while he began the sub layer of stitches, then noticed how much the spot was bleeding and was freaked out (4th ick) and looked back at my book. When I looked again, he was working on the dermis layer of stitches, and was using the weird tweezers to hold the skin while he stitched. Ick, again. That's 5. He gave me about 11 stitches, all told. The little teeny tiny needle they used for the stitches was really cool. A curved tiny little thing, as long as I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that he was punching through a layer of skin for every stitch, it was really cool. He put 5 in the sub layer and 6 in the dermis. That’s another ick, because I’ve never had stitches before unless you count the self-dissolving kind I had when I had my wisdom teeth out in 1994. Which I don’t, because I never knew they were there. Stitches you are unaware of until after they’ve dissolved don’t count. The six have to be removed in a week or 10 days time, and they should have the lab results back by then. I’ll post whatever they tell me, but I asked the doc what chances he thought I had of having to have further surgery for skin cancer and he said, “almost none.” So that’s a good thing. I’m counting having to have the stitches removed as ick number 7.

When he was all done, he showed me where he thought the scar line would be, and how it should heal. I said, “I should worry if….” and he said, “If it bleeds profusely, gets red streaks around the wound or gets hot to the touch.” He showed me how the Novocain blanches the skin, which is really odd, and told me he had to give me lots more than he usually gives people because I felt the cutting. I asked if it would hurt when the numbing wore off, and he said not anymore than what acetaminophen or ibuprofen over the counter pain relievers could handle. He offered to give me samples of Darvocet, but I thought that was silly. (DUH! Always take the drugs! LOL)

I’m going to mix myself up a big Bloody Mary with some of the wasabi I got in the mail today for an article I’m working on for Fitfare. Who needs meds when you can have booze?

Soundtrack: O.A.R’s “Love and Memories”, please check them out if you’ve never heard of them, they rock!

09 May 2006


Woke up in a foul mood this morning due to the new neighbor in my duplex POUNDING ON THE MOTHERFUCKING WALLS at 06.45. I'm usually an early riser, and would have normally been out of bed around 05.30, but I've been having trouble sleeping lately and have been going to bed much later than usual. I heard the neighbor in the shower at 06.00, but went back to sleep. The place next door has been vacant for more than a year, so this is new to me. In her defense, DH leaves for work most days around 06.30, so she may think that we're both gone, but I was STILL SLEEPING, goddamit. I understand that you want to hang pictures, but for christsakes, is 8 am not a good time to do that?

How do you politely ask someone to not do that until after at least 7 am on weekdays and preferably 9 on weekends? It is HER home, after all, but she may think that we can't hear it and I don't want to have a confrontation about it, because I hate fights.....

Soundtrack: "11 AM" Incubus

08 May 2006

A memory

A year ago today my cousin passed away. She wasn't sick and died unexpectedly, in her sleep, one of hundreds of thousands who are killed by PE every year. She wasn't a celebrity. You, interweb, were not fortunate enough to know her. She WAS a wonderful mother. And a hell of a neat lady. When I’m counting regrets in my life, I thank whatever powers that be that I got to tell her that I thought she was a fantastic mom. I managed to tell her just what I thought the summer before she died. It is hard, sometimes, to tell someone how you really feel, when you want to say wonderful things to them. They get embarrassed, or waive off your praise because it isn't modest to accept kudos from someone, but I managed to find those right words, for once in my life, and told her how proud I was of her for being fantastic with her kids. Somehow, I think maybe there can be no higher praise, and maybe since I don’t have any kids myself I’m not qualified to say that one way or another. But anyway. It makes me both happy and sad to recall that day.

We were at the pool at my parent’s house (don’t I sound like the pampered princess…here’s a hint: I AM.) and it was a cold summer day. That happens sometimes. Cold summer days, that is. Anyway, she was pregnant with her 3rd child, and the other two were happily playing in the pool. Those of you who love the water will understand when I say that the water temperature was higher than the air temperature. So as long as you were in the water, you were, relatively speaking, warm. I had been playing with her younger daughter, and she was laughing at silly, childless me for trying to teach her 18 month old to swim. After a while, I left off trying to teach the baby to swim and sat at the edge of the pool with her. She complained good naturedly about being preggers, and speculated about how well she would handle having 3 children. I told her, I don’t know how you do it with 2, let alone 3. Your kids are so well behaved, so sweet and so goddamed cute and from the outside looking in, it looks so effortless. I think you’ll do fine with 3. You are a great mom. I’d be in the corner in the fetal position, rocking back and forth with my hands over my ears and humming a little tune to myself. She laughed. And then she said, “It’s easy.”


I may be clueless when it comes to kiddos, but I know that AIN’T true by a long shot. But she was looking at her daughter, and had such a smile on her face. I’m starting to understand what she meant by living vicariously through friend Jen and her love for her two babies. The moment they’re born, your whole world changes. Love you didn't even know you were capable of overwhelms your soul.

The thing that makes me most angry about her senseless death is that she isn’t getting the opportunity to see those kids grow into amazing people. Dwelling on it has me sobbing, gasping for breath. They were amazing, beautiful kids before she died, of course, but I want her to know about the women they will become. I want her to be there when they graduate from high school, graduate from college, choose their careers, and when they marry their soul mates. I want her to know who they choose to be their soul mates. And I want her to be able to be there when they give birth to their own little angels, should they choose to do so. Those who believe in an afterlife tell me that she can see them and that she does know.

I dunno about that. I struggle with my own religious beliefs every day. Especially since she passed away, I have trouble believing anything that the Catholic church of my childhood taught me. Please tell me what greater purpose her death served. Why a loving and benevolent higher power would choose to end her life when she was only 28 years old. 28! Why a loving and benevolent higher power would choose to allow her kids to grow up without their mother, and her husband to endure without his soul mate. A friend of a friend who is a bishop in the Baptist faith came to see me about a month after she died, and I was still so very angry. He told me that I had to imagine all that questioning about why she died as being in a room with no door, and that I had to make a door, leave the room, and close the door behind me. That at another time in my life, I could go back to that room, and try to answer some of those questions. Somewhat surprisingly, that was really helpful to me. At the time, I was making myself nuts by not being able to focus on anything other than WHY. He told me that if I didn’t stop asking why, I wasn't going to be able to survive the grief.

A year later, I’m not “over” her death by a long shot; I don’t think you ever stop grieving. When I think about her mom, all I can think about is her incredible pain. The huge, raw, gaping wound that she lives with every day. Every waking breath she takes, every day, she lives with the fact that her youngest child is gone. The extreme pain of having to pick out the clothes that your child will be buried in. And then her husband having to pick up the pieces and raise their kids on his own, his pain is something I can’t contemplate, even after a year, because it hurts me too much. I can’t even imagine how it feels for him. He is the strongest man that I know. The day of her funeral, he had many folks willing to keep the kids for a few days (or weeks), but when the rituals were all over, he picked them all up, and took them home by himself. When family members offered assistance, he said, "I've got to start doing it on my own." And every day since then, he’s done just that. His strength, his skill in surviving, is inspirational to me.

About six months after she died, a TV crew came to town and filmed the story. Now, potentially everyone with a TV in America has seen her story. The week the TV show was here was difficult and very inspiring at the same time. The support that the family received from our community was extraordinary. And yet, we’d all rather be anonymous with her in our lives than “known” with the publicity and her gone. Bittersweet. There’s no better word for that feeling.

People who live here and do not know my connection to her bring tears to my eyes when they speak so casually about the week the TV crew was here. How cool it was, how it was on the local news every day, how they liked or didn't like the show. I want to stop them and ask if they remember that all the hype happened because someone died. Someone real, with kids and a husband, a huge extended family and co-workers who all loved her. (Please don't leave me comments or send me e-mails asking which TV show, in the interests of protecting my extended family's privacy as well as my own, I will not answer.)

I re-learned a lesson the week that she died, something I had forgotten. A vital lesson that I now work hard every single day to remember. We’re on this earth for such a short time. Think about it. If the average lifespan of a healthy person is 80 years, that really isn’t that much time. In that short space of time, we do not have the TIME to hate, or to fight with our families or carry around a bunch of regret. Did you wake up this morning, swing your legs over the edge of your bed and put your feet on the floor to start your day? Well, you ought to count yourself as pretty damn lucky then, because you had a warm bed last night, you can walk, there's a roof over your head, and hey, you're still alive.

Moral of the story? Take a good, long, hard look at yourself, your life. Discard whatever isn’t working for you, even if that IS your familial relationships. Count your blessings if it isn't your family. My sister said very memorably when she gave the toast at a friend’s wedding that “Friends are the family that we make for ourselves.” I think she was quoting someone, and I'm not sure who, but it is a great line. Cherish those that you love. Tell them you love them. Give frequent hugs. Be one of those people that spreads joy. Kiss someone in the rain. (Thanks to Milady for the recent reminder about how that’s one of life’s great joys.) Oh, and eat the chocolate. Worrying about cholesterol and how much you weigh is a waste of energy. (She typed while eating a pop-tart.)

Soundtrack for the day: U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album, but especially the song “Beautiful Day”. In memory of a beautiful mommy.

06 May 2006

Just an exercise in vanity, thanks.

Amanda had a post about songs on her iPod that are somewhat embarrassing to admit that you like. Which made me think about my own eclectic music tastes. DH and I made an effort over the weekend to put CDs back into their proper cases, because even though he is the Über-computer master, we don't own an iPod or any other digital music storage device. No, instead we have a great surround sound system that has a 5 disk CD changer as part of the whole Star-Wars looking array, and we're lazy and don't put CDs away when we change them out. So there were about 40 that needed cases found and anytime I look at that music collection, it makes me laugh. He: Journey, Styx, Floyd, and Jimmy Buffet fan. Me: Ani DiFranco, Def Leppard, Dave Matthews Band, Tori Amos, U2, and Shakira fan. Plus there's a bunch of stuff that we both like, and before we got married, we'd each buy a copy of the CD, so we have 2 copies of a CD by Amanda Marshall, 2 of Blues Traveler's "4", 2 of Santana's "Supernatural", 2 of Fleetwood Mac's "The Dance", and about 10 others that I am too lazy to get up and look at. Yes, an eclectic collection, not a weird one, nod along with me here.

But when we're talking about I'm embarrassed to admit that I like, I'm going to have to go with the techno habit that I picked up while an exchange student in Sweden in the early 90s. Prodigy, looooong before that whole controversy about that stupid song, "Smack my bitch up" which I never liked, had a CD that I liked a whole lot, called Experience. Then there was the Chemical Brothers, and some German techno that was about a movie about a sinking submarine, which really makes you want to hop up and DANCE DANCE DANCE, doesn't it? I listened again to Das Boot again about 8 years ago and hated it, and the computer I'm working on doesn't have a soundcard, or I'd download it again and listen, just to see what I think now. In small doses, probably, it is OK. I remember an ex-boyfriend who hated, hated techno, who told me that any 3 year old with a computer can compose dance music. I disagree, but that’s probably because I love to dance and have such fun when there’s techno music on.

Since I can’t do a “what’s in my iPod”, here’s a list of what’s in my car’s 10 CD changer.

1. Nickel Creek-Why Should the Fire Die?
-I saw them @ The House of Blues, and WOW, they rock. I wish I had access to the version of “Toxic” that I saw them do live, cause it was AWESOME
2. Incubus-Morning View
-the summer that I was so miserable at work (this has been a few years ago now) the song, “Wish You Were Here” got me through the drive in to work each morning. This CD has been in the changer ever since. I never take it out.
3. Shakira-Oral Fixation, Volume 2
-this is new for me, but I’m enjoying it. Makes me wish I spoke Spanish.
4. U2-How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
-Mmmmm, U2. That’s all I have to say. What’s not to like here?
5. Powder Finger-Odyssey #5
-An Aussie band that my sister burned a copy of her CD for me, they’re really neat. Kind of like Beck, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Love it.
6. Bruce Springsteen-The Rising
-“Lonesome Day” might be the best expression of grief that I’ve ever heard. But there’s other stuff on here that’s really cool, too.
7. Sheryl Crow-Wildflower
-This is new for me too. I really like her strength.
8. The Clarks-Fast Moving Cars
-A freebie from a radio station, this is something that I love to sing along to. “Hell on Wheels” is a favorite, but the title track is great too.
9. Def Leppard-Rock of Ages Volume 1
-uh, haven’t I blogged about them enough lately? I can sing every song on both CDs.
10. Def Leppard-Rock of Ages Volume 2

So that’s my list. Nothing in particular on that list that I’m embarrassed about. But probably not a good representation of my whole collection either. None of the new age stuff I like is in there, nor any of the punk from the early 80s, like the Clash. None of my jazz, or classical made that list either. And none of the Swedish pop that I have tons of, which keeps me in practice with my language skills. It is probably a good thing that most of my embarrassing music choices occurred before CDs, and I don’t have the tapes anymore. Like New Kids on The Block.

02 May 2006

French Politics

Something I have no business commenting on, of course. But why should that stop me?

I heard a quick 30 second bit on NPR about a proposed French law that would require potential French immigrants to learn both French language and culture before emigrating to France. Considering that we've been on about illegal immigration in this country for a few weeks now, I thought that was very interesting. I wrote a post just the other day suggesting that people learn the official language of whatever country they choose to live in, and now realize that the statements I made make me sound nearly as xenophobic as the French Interior Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy. Which was NOT my intention. I don't support mandatory classes before you immigrate. Just once you decide that's where you're going to live, then you ought to take an active interest and learn to speak the language. What irks me is folks who live in a country for 20 years and can't speak the language. That seems inexcusable to me. And I've run into those types of folks here in the US and in Sweden, so I conclude that you’ll have that pretty much anywhere.

My local paper started running "Annie's Mailbox" after advice columnist Ann Landers died a few years ago, and there was a recent letter from a nurse who was pissed that her co-workers, who are Filipino, would chatter to each other in their native language at the nurses' station in the hospital. Apologies, but the link takes you to the current column, the one in question ran on 26 April 2006. "Annie", which is actually two women, gave an answer that I thought was high-handed and smug, but essentially is how I feel. If I'm speaking privately to my sister, who also speaks Swedish, then tough rocks to you. If I am trying to conduct official business, however, then I expect that I should be able to speak English to the official and that they would be able to speak English back to me. Or, that I would provide my own translator, on my own dime, to translate for me if I couldn’t speak English.

Much like I followed the German Chancellor’s race a few years ago when someone really nationalist was running, I’ll be watching the French presidency race this year with much fascination and curiosity. I’m sure that there are those out in the wider world who watched in horrified fascination as we elected President Idiot (not once but TWICE!!!!!) and with the same degree of detachment, I’ll be checking into this issue from time to time.

posting a pic

trying two things...to upload a picture into a post and to add the picture above to my profile since I don't want MY actual likeness on the interweb.

01 May 2006

May Day!

Once upon a time, I was 17 years old and living in Sweden. 1 May was a school holiday, so Brian and I went to Stockholm, at least I think I went with him that time. I know it wasn't with the guy I was sorta dating at the time, and really, who else would I have gone with? It was over 10 years ago now and I'm not sure if we stayed in Stockholm or just went for the day, but I took pictures of the folks who were marching in the streets and he and I spent an enjoyable time wondering what they had to protest about, they were SWEDES after all, and we were jealous. Plus we couldn't really read their signs, they were moving too fast. Brian, do you remember?

Fast forward more years than I'm willing to admit, and I saw on the telly this morning that there are marches all over the US today in support of the undocumented worker community. For those that are unaware, Labor Day in the US is in September, don't get me started about why we can't come into conformity with the rest of the world when it comes to the metric system and May Day. Anyway. My immediate reaction to marches on May Day was "Cool!" but then while talking to friend K, she told me something scary. Seems that I have to agree with President Idiot, and I hate that. I haven't heard the song yet, but some very enterprising soul has recorded the US national anthem, you know, the one that no one in the world has the vocal range for, in Spanish. I always appreciate the urge to make a buck, but President Idiot said, and I agree with him, something along the lines of "that's nice, but the anthem is in English for a reason." Urgh, I hate agreeing with him. The reason that I do? I learned how to speak Swedish in about 3 months...fluently enough to be mistaken for a native a time or two. I'm a smart girl, yes, I know. But if I did it, so could anyone else. David Sedaris hilariously documented his attempts to learn French in Me Talk Pretty One Day. Yes, learning a new language is hard. But I firmly believe that if you live in a country where their official language isn't your mother tongue, you really ought to learn the official language. And if there are two, well, learn them both, then. I just don’t agree with driver’s exams and tax forms being printed in languages other than English, but by this I am referring ONLY to the United States. Put another way; if I moved to Italy, I would not expect that the Italian government should translate all official forms into English for me, nor do I think that they ought to be obligated to provide a translator for me so that I can get a driver’s license, vote, or pay my taxes. That's my opinion today, for whatever it is worth.

Soundtrack: h'm gotta be a worker anthem appropriate to the day. How's about anything by Bob Dylan? Nah, I'm too young for that. Back to "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy.