Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There are so many in-between moments in life, like the walk to work or plane ride to a meeting in Amsterdam. And I’ve tended to think of trips to Chicago to my parents as a kind of in-between moment, but that’s the wrong way to look at them. Really they’re more like mortar holding together the bricks of my life.

I never miss the U.S. when I’m at home in Stockholm, but a visit to Chicago – last week it was with the husband, the priest and the policeman and their five-year-old, who is our goddaughter – almost always leaves me feeling sentimental, melancholy and wanting more. I brood, for some reason thinking about all the times of my life where things seem to be at the hinge of a door, about to open onto one thing and close on another. Like the whole crazy seven months I lived in Barcelona, which were a prelude to moving to Sweden, looking back on it. Despite the brooding, it’s a lovely bittersweet feeling.

But what makes the visit mortar, I suppose, is that it brings me back to my most fundamental self, where I came from and what makes me me. As if the Stockholm me were some other me, which it isn’t. It’s the same me. Well, maybe just slightly different, sort of laid on top of the other me with the edges not quite matched.

The Swedish word for the day is lager. It means layer.

- by Francis S.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas is on its way: They're selling julmust - I'm a sucker for the bizarre grapey, Dr. Peppery, coca cola-y fizzy concoction that is julmust, sold only at Christmastime in Sweden - a sure sign. Without Thanksgiving in Sweden, the only way to know that the season has started is when julmust appears.

The Swedish word for the day is trettioåtta. It means 38, which is how many days are left before Christmas.

- by Francis S.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yesterday was All Saint's Day here - yet another religious holiday in a country of atheists and agnostics - and I practiced my saintliness by not letting the husband's foul mood get the better of me. True, he was suffering from a flu, but he'd been on the brink for a week and staying up until 3 a.m. at a champagne tasting party on Friday where there was little food pushed him over the edge.

Getting sick due to staying up until 3 a.m. drinking champagne and not eating kind of dampens my empathy, but only just a skosh. I had not attended the champagne tasting, of course, because I had just recovered from the flu myself and decided I just wasn't quite up for it. And I can't really tell whether he got the bug from me, or whether I got the bug from him, since he was feeling dicey before I got it.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, while the husband was all snippy and grim-faced, I was all halo-y and dulcet-toned, running down to the grocery across the street to get him cranberry juice and rice pudding. Then, knowing it was best to let him seethe in his own phlegm, I left for a day-long movie marathon that we were both supposed to go to, although I only really stayed for some previews and one movie before making my apologies and taking off, saint that I am, explaining that the husband had stewed enough alone and needed someone to make sure he was actually eating something.

Then, saint that I am, as I walked past the Hedvig Eleonora Church, I saw that they were singing the Duruflé Requiem and I just had to go in and listen, abandoning all thoughts of the husband (well, maybe not all thoughts, but most of them. I figured he could do without me for another hour or so). I'd never been in the church before, and although it's rather beautiful on the outside, with its dome and churchyard, inside it's kind of ugly.

But the singing, the singing was sublime.

Very French, just this side of being too sweet and blurred, the requiem is a bear of a thing to sing, I know from experience. I'm sure the choir felt very saintly and satisfied with themselves for conquering it. I know I felt like a saint, a veritable St. Theresa, and I don't mean like Mother Theresa, I mean like the St. Theresa in that Bernini statue where she seems to be in the throes of the, um, Holy Spirit, who it would appear knows what women really want.

The Swedish phrase for the day is alla helgons dag. It means All Saints' Day.

- by Francis S.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sweden has gone crazy for Facebook in the last two months. God only knows why. But who cares, because now, thanks to Stefan Geens, Mr. Ogle Earth, I have my own application on Facebook - the Swedish word of the day. Cool, huh?

The Swedish word for the day is ordet, which means the word.

- by Francis S.