Monday, May 24, 2004

On Saturday, it hailed with a fury on Birds Island. Only pea-sized, it wasn't dangerous and we were snug inside the house so I didn't even bother to go out and see exactly how much it might hurt to stand and get pelted by pellets of ice. Nonetheless, it was impressive, lasting nearly half an hour, and the ground was white with it afterwards, almost like snow.

Winter is so reluctant to give up the ghost.

Amazingly, the great wild beds of lily of the valley in the yard were undamaged. Inside the house, all it took was a small handful of those tiny white bells gathered by me, the husband and A., the assistant director, to perfume the whole room. It brought my mother to mind, sharply: a black and white dress, her hair stiff and her lips painted a brilliant orange, the scent of Muguet des Bois mixed with the scent of hairspray. Bittersweet, that smell, just like my eight-year-old self felt at the excitement and disappointment and worry of my parents going out for the evening.

The sense of smell is, without a doubt, the most able to spur memories. Smell and taste, I suppose.

The Swedish word for the day is lillgammal, which would loosely translate as precocious, as in a precocious child, although it is a more negative word.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Like many of your garden-variety great big homo types, I'm easily intimidated by certain bastions of maledom - the barber shop, the garage, certain hardware stores, old-fashioned gyms - and the men who work in these places. Such as the guy who came this afternoon to install the washer and dryer. I feel deficient, somehow, when he asks me if this electrical outlet is connected to that electrical outlet, and whether I want to have access to the water valve. I don't know, I stammer in Swedish, yes, I say and shrug, and hope that he doesn't start asking me about the pipes, using all these Swedish manly words that I have no idea what they mean.

He's gone now, on his way to Sundsvall for the long weekend he told me, it being Ascension tomorrow and most of the country taking a four-day weekend.

And we, lucky bastards, now have our own washer and dryer actually in the apartment. No more having to live life around laundry reservation times, a mere three hours every weekend but it's never enough on account of it takes an hour and 20 minutes per load of laundry and then the only dryer is a, um, drying closet where you hang things up on racks in this big wardrobe thing, something you don't have in the U.S., probably because it takes at least an hour and a half to dry anything.

The Swedish word for the day is rörmokare. It means plumber.

- by Francis S.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I'm only a little more than half way through my thousand difficult lessons, but as you may have noticed, the writing is getting pretty thin. The greater difficulty seems to be not in the learning of the lessons, which continue as they always have and they are difficult. It's just even more difficult writing it down here. I don't seem to have the drive to write these days.

It's not as if things are any different than they usually are or unworthy of writing about - I should have written about watching a bunch of 17 year olds performing "Hamlet" in Swedish, which was completely beyond my comprehension with the exception of Ophelia, who went dutifully and pitifully mad in a Swedish that I could follow, which could in part be due to the fact that I know the actress well, being as she is the daughter of C., the fashion photographer; I should also have written about the birthday party on Saturday, with ex-football players, and actresses who play Japanese reporters on TV, and the son of a princess, and A., the assistant director, and her sister, whose birthday it was, and all of us dancing and swigging mojitos and me feeling like an old man, too tired already at midnight to last much longer than 1 a.m.

But I'm loathe to stop writing entirely. I've always been disappointed when people whom I regularly read just up and quit.

What will it take, do you think, to get me back on track with this? I have 407 lessons to go!

The Swedish phrase for the day is dåligt samvete. It means bad conscience.

- by Francis S.