Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Friday, we went out dancing at 1 a.m. - well, really, it was Saturday by the time we made it to the club - because the pop star was going to be a dj at the club, and because Grace Jones was going to be there.

Sure enough, Miss Jones showed up about 1:30, but I didn't see her because these drag queens were in the way, and she swept herself off, elaborate hat and all, to a back room somewhere.

We left about 3:00, and the next day the pop star told us that after she'd finished at the turntables, she went back to meet Miss Jones.

"I like your earrings," Miss Jones told the pop star. "You're coming to see me tomorrow?"

A whole conversation reduced to two sentences. "She went from A to Z in three seconds," the pop star said, laughing.

So, the next day, we duly went to see her, with the pop star.

The concert itself was, without a doubt, astounding. The crowd eclectic - lots of fashionistas so the husband was all kiss-kiss with shiny people I'd never met before - and Miss Jones really shook her thing. And sang. And hoola-hooped while walking around in shoes with six-inch spikes as thin as nails. And changed hats and coats for every single song - she was on stage for over 90 minutes. She looked just as she has always looked (the pop star said she looks great close to as well). I can't believe she is 60. Although if I think about it, I was dancing to "Pull up to the bumper, baby" in 1981. Was it really that long ago?

I only hope my ass looks that good when I'm 60.

Which won't be long, considering how fast the birthdays keep rushing at me.


I hope it's going to be a good year.

The Swedish word for the day is födelsedag, which has surely been the word of the day before. It means birthday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Swedes have a love of design.

They are minimalists – beauty is to be found in simple forms: unvarnished oiled wood, primary colors, thin lines. And as far as I can tell, Swedish tastes haven’t changed much in the past 50 years. Including the packaging for milk – simple rectangular boxes the size of a brick with red, green, blue and yellow stripes of varying thickness; the red stripes are the fattest and the yellow stripes the thinnest, designating the fat content of the milk. People actually refer to milk by the color of the stripe – the husband never tells me to buy whole milk, he tells me: “Get red milk.”

But the other day, I was taken aback to find a black box in our refrigerator.

What the hell is this, I wondered.

“Read the back,” the husband said, smiling at me.

I pulled it out. It was milk, but the package was black as a reminder to turn the lights out for Earth Hour, in which the world is being encouraged to turn out the lights at 8:30 p.m. (local time) on March 28.

An admirable idea. But not terribly appealing for a milk carton. Sort of an antidote to Life cereal (do they still make that?): Death Milk.

Milk for existentialists, perhaps?

Or a way to get emo boys and girls to consume their recommended daily allowance of calcium and vitamin D?

The Swedish word for the day is mejeri. It means dairy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

K., who sits next to me at work, came in this morning as usual asking how my weekend was.

Good, I told her.

"Well," she said. "Remember I was talking about that dinner we were going to have with friends? It turned out they served us venison. Which they had shot themselves. In their yard. In Uppsala."

A deer had wandered into their yard and they shot it? In Uppsala, where the university is and which is not the countryside, not at all?

Yes, she said.

Ha, ha, I laughed.

I told her that if my parents had owned a gun when they lived in Boulder years ago, I think my mother would have made my father shoot the deer that would come and eat all her flowers, roses and tulips and irises, anything she planted. My mother is not really an animal person. Her sympathies extend to birds, and that's about it.

Ha, ha, K. laughed.

So, I asked K., was the food good?

"Delicious," K. said.

The Swedish word for the day is rådjur. It means deer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I was trying to explain to A. the TV producer about the proper hierarchy of fruit flavors - strawberry and peach at the top, blueberry near the bottom before plum and gojiberry.

"But you're mixing things up," A. said. "Berries aren't fruit, they're berries!"

I was flabbergasted. I was having enough trouble convincing her of the proper fruit-flavor rankings and all of a sudden I'm hit with a bizarre Swedish idiosyncrasy: Swedes don't consider berries fruit.

But, I asked, if they aren't fruit, what are they?

All the Swedes at the table jumped on me at once: "Berries, of course!"

And they would not be convinced by me that for us English speakers, berries are a category within the whole fruit family, somewhat like melons.

"I don't believe you," A. said. "And what about root fruits, huh?"

The Swedish words for the day are frukt, bär, rotfrukt. They mean fruit, berries, root vegetables.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Somehow, we got the directions mixed up and ended up at the wrong apartment. But half a glass of wine and 20 minutes later, the children's book author and I figured it out, jumped into a cab and righted ourselves, landing at the dinner we were supposed to be at.

The husband, who had helped prepare the meal with the sea captain, thrust a bowl of pale orange creamy liquid at me.

I dipped a corn chip into it, looking at him skeptically.

"Do you like it?" he asked.

Yes, I told him.

"Do you really like it?" he asked again, hovering.

Yes, yes, I really like it I told him.

"Ha! It's cheese from a can, melted," he exclaimed.

As if I couldn't tell.

"He would never let me buy this!" he told the sea captain and the children's book author.

Of course I wouldn't. But it doesn't mean that I don't like it. Nor does it mean that it's good. Or good for you. It's junk food, that's what I told him. And junk food usually does taste good. But food that tastes good isn't the same thing as food that actually is good. I'm a terrible snob that way, but really, it's just about standards.

The Swedish word for the day is ost. It means cheese.