Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're off to Perpignan for a wedding and then a week in Barcelona, which better damn well be sunny and warm. I haven't been back to Barcelona in 10 years, the city I love and hate most in the world.

Annoyingly, a week ago one of my best friends when I was just a little kid, whom I haven't seen in probably 25 years and who works as a film editor, cameraman and sometime director in L.A., contacted me to say he would be coming to Stockholm this week.

There was general gnashing of teeth. By me at least.

I told him that at least he and his boyfriend can stay in our apartment while we carouse in Spain.

It pleases me somehow to know that he'll be staying here, as if he's getting to know me all over again just by looking at the books on the shelves (not to mention piled high on a table in the library and in various other rooms), the perfume in the bathroom (which isn't mine), the elaborate collection of teas in the kitchen (which we don't drink), the lack of a full-length mirror (there are a couple of half-length mirrors though), the music on the grand piano (which needs tuning) and the freshly cleaned windows (all 17 of them, each divided into two or four casements, one of which was concealing a bee in the handle, a bee which stung me on my middle finger halfway through the whole ordeal).

What makes it okay, though, is that he'll be back again in December. Then I can check out if he really did learn anything about me from staying here, or if it was one big false impression.

The Swedish word for the day is missuppfattat. It means misunderstood.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

As my friend the policeman says, Stockholm's Old Town seems to be reverting back to the 18th century: Count Carl Piper and his pregnant girlfriend were shot in the schoolyard of the Great Church School during the late afternoon on Tuesday. It turns out that the prime suspect is the former Countess, Carl Piper's ex-wife.

It's downright operatic.

The Swedish word for the day is melodram. I bet you would never guess that it means melodrama.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I remember when chocolate bars cost a dime. And three musketeers were the biggest - best value for money - except for the fact that the center was a bit too fluffy and curiously unsatisfying. Charleston chew lasted the longest, but it tasted more like marshmallow than chocolate. Chunky was pleasing in concept - a fat square of chocolate - except it had raisins in it, which was totally unacceptable. Butterfingers were too peanutbuttery and papery, bit O' honeys weren't even chocolate, and hershey bars were just too plain-Jane. Almond joy and mounds were too small and cocanutty, so in the end, with whatever was left over from my 25-cent-a-week allowance, it was always a toss-up between milky way or snickers.

I remember sitting on the stone stoop outside the kitchen door, a week after school was out when I was eight or nine, wearing shorts and nothing else, eating toast with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top.

I remember the arduous task of taking off wet snow clothes in the basement - layer by layer, first jacket and then snow pants, and then jeans, all the way down to my long underwear - and hanging them up on the line in the furnace room, and the smell, like wool and rags and little-kid sweat and snow all mixed together.

What do you remember?

(This is all spurred on by my reading artist Joe Brainard's odd little masterpiece, I remember. Rustle up a copy for yourself, you won't be disappointed. And I was shocked at how many things I remembered that hadn't changed in the 20 years between our two childhoods.)

The Swedish verb for the day is att komma ihåg, which means to remember.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To help cure the terrible melancholy - we would call it depression - of King Philip V of Spain, the queen and her physician believed that music would do the trick.

So the great castrato soprano Farinelli was brought to court. Though he had received great acclaim in Italy, England and France, and he was only 32 years old, Farinelli never performed in public again although he lived to be 77. Apparently, he sang the same two arias every night to the king. Whether it really cured his melancholia is open to debate. But Farinelli became a great favorite at the Spanish court. He amassed a small fortune including paintings by Velásquez and Murillo, and violins by Stradivarius and Amati, and was even knighted by the king's successor, Ferdinand VI (whose wife, Maria Barbara was the apt pupil of Domenico Scarlatti, who wrote hundreds of sonatas for her to play, many of them ground-breaking and of great charm and idiosyncrasy).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all it took were the right music to dispel our darkest fears and worries and terrible unhappiness? If music was the tonic for the worst mental illness? It makes so much sense to me.

The Swedish word for the day is sorg. It means sorrow.

Friday, April 03, 2009

It's official.

Well, it will be soon. As of May 1, the husband and I will just need to fill out a little piece of paper and our partnership becomes a real marriage, just like the heterosexualists!

Separate but equal will be a thing of the past.

And don't let anyone fool you about it just being a matter of semantics, either. Words make all the difference in the world.

The Swedish words for the day are partnerskap and äktenskap, which I suspect have both been the word of the day at some point before. They mean, respectively, partnership and marriage.