Monday, January 29, 2007

Shields said gays across the U.S. should connect with their congressman. He noted the Williams Institute’s finding that each congressional district now has at least 6,500 gay residents.

from an article in the Washington Blade online

At least 6,500 seems like a pretty sizeable number to me.

Interestingly, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by Gary Gates at the Williams Institute, conservative little New Hampshire, at 6.6 percent has the highest proportion of gays and lesbians of any state.

The Swedish word for the day is befolkning. It means population.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stockholm has, at long last, been covered in snow for nearly a week, and the cold is hopefully killing all kinds of nasty bugs and viruses and bacteria that would otherwise plague us. I have a great fondness for snow and its power for making everything fresh again. Snow is no doubt comforting to me just because I grew up with lots of it. Maybe that's why I love Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale so very much, a book that gives winter its romantic due.

Strangely, in a peculiar literary mapping game I just hit upon, Robertson Davies appears to be the closest author to Mark Helprin, according to the taste of readers. Not two authors that I would ever put together. But then, I've never read anything else by Mark Helprin, and I have no idea who I would put him next to.

Now that was a forced transition if there ever was one.

The Swedish word for the day is klantigt. It means clumsy.

- by Francis S.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The thing about Stockholm is that people really know how to dress stylishly. And the thing about Stockholm is that men and women alike are thin and handsome and clothes fit them well, so they wear well-fitted clothes (well-fitted clothes were something the husband and I couldn't seem to find when we went shopping after Christmas in Chicago: all the clothes were so boxy and oversized, making me think that Chicagoans are either box-shaped and oversized, or fitted clothes are just not the fashion there.)

But the thing about Stockholm is that everyone dresses alike, which means right now it seems the streets are filled with men wearing tightly fitted trench-coats and trench-style coats, double-breasted with great big lapels, and very tight trousers with slightly pointy leather boots with very soft and flat soles.

It's a very mod look, and I like it. But with everyone wearing it, it's like a uniform. And I hate the idea of everyone looking alike, no matter how good the look is.

But what to do. Do you give in and wear it?

The Swedish word for the day is likadant. It means the same.

- by Francis S.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

When I arrived for my massage, I was surprised to see the popstar waiting for my husband, who appeared shortly after I arrived, pouring himself down the stairs, all flippy-floppy after his massage, his face creased with lines from lying face down, his eyes smeary as if he'd been asleep. Later, after my own massage, all three of us left together, the husband and I to take the bus and the popstar heading to the subway.

"This is my year of low consumption," she said. "I'm going to consume less all year. Take the car as little as possible."

As she headed down the subway at Östermalmstorg, I thought to myself that only in Stockholm could someone like her take the subway for a year and not worry about being harrassed by fans every train ride she took.

As for me, this is going to be my year of consuming broccoli. And getting more exercise.

The Swedish word for the day is löfte. It means promise or resolution, in the sense of a New Year's resolution.

- by Francis S.

Friday, January 05, 2007

As we returned from Christmas in the Midwest, on the plane from Chicago to Stockholm I suddenly noticed that it was Dec. 29 (Central European Time, it was still only Dec. 28 in Illinois). Which meant that it was eight years to the day since I'd moved to Sweden. Strange to be on a plane again and remembering it all: my worldly possessions travelling separately in a container somewhere between Washington, DC and Stockholm, the excitement I felt, (I wasn't even scared, which astonishes me), the nearly overwhelming lust and love for the man who would become my husband, who was waiting for me at Arlanda airport. I had arrived some five hours later than expected, since my flight from Reyjavik to Stockholm had been cancelled and I had to go through Copenhagen instead, making it three flights in all to get here. I remember talking at Keflavik airport in Iceland to an American woman who had lived in Sweden fro 15 years, which seemed like forever.

At New Year's, the mother of the popstar asked me: "Will you die here?"

And then she smiled, embarrassed a little that she had put it that way.

My favorite Finn, who was part of the conversation, hummed a bit of the Swedish national anthem, which ends with the phrase "I want to live and die in the North."

I could only answer, well, yes, probably.

It's strange to think I will never leave, but it becomes less and less likely that I will abandon Sweden as the years pass.

And fifteen years seems like no time at all anymore.

Still stranger is to think of growing old and dying here. Will the husband and I end up in an old people's home, together or separately? Will I revert to English in my dotage? Who will come to visit me? And who will put flowers on my grave?

The Swedish word for the day is alltid. It means always.

- by Francis S.