Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obvious Lesson No. 1: Do not go to see an, er, experimental theater piece called "Exquisite Pain."

Obvious Lesson No. 2: Especially if the name of the theater company doing the production is called "Forced Entertainment."

Picture this: two people sitting at two different desks next to each other on a small stage. The woman reads from a script, telling a story about having been jilted by a lover. The man reads from a script, telling a story about a man whose youngest and beloved brother has killed himself. The woman tells the same story about being jilted by her lover. The man tells a different story of sorrow. The woman repeats her story. And again, and again, and again. Fifty or so times. Pain is accurate to describe the experience - four of the hundred or so people in the theater walked out, and I watched them with terrible envy - and it was certainly forced. Self-indulgent and boring would also be an accurate description. Exquisite and entertainment, however, are words that should not be used within a thousand miles of this piece.

God help us, we stayed to the bitter end.

I guess I'm just a philistine.

The Swedish word for the day is och vi betalade. It means and we paid.

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What happens when you stay up late making merry with the sea captain and his boyfriend, the children's book author, of a Friday night, with good food and perhaps a little too much good drink (not me, I'm on a diet)?

You book a holiday weekend to Svalbard.

Svalbard, the northerly most point you can fly commercially, north of Siberia, north of Alaska and Canada, on the same latitude as the northern coast of Greenland.

The Swedish phrase for the day is är du tokig. It means are you crazy?

- by Francis S.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Twelfth Day of Christmas - no partridges or pear trees, though. Just the dim grey turning quickly into dark. And tomorrow is a school day.

I know I'll sleep badly tonight, tossing and turning and sweating my way to morning. It's a grim day, the first school day after a long holiday.

I wish I could put it off for a week.

The Swedish word for the day is trettondagen, which is what the Swedes call the Sixth of January, also known as Epiphany.

- by Francis S.

Friday, January 04, 2008

All the preparations: the ordering of the plates and glasses, the buying of the food, the straightening of the apartment, the skewering of tomatoes and mozzarella and basil, the pulling apart of prosciutto, the cutting of figs and pears, the arraying of cheese, laying out of trays, the arranging of branches of red berries and pussy willows, then the doffing of crazy disco clothes complete with wigs and masks and a cheesy mustache grown for the occasion, which the husband insisted would have to be shaved off before going to sleep.

Then the people came, dressed up in their own crazy disco clothes and with masks we provided, and they drank champagne, and they ate, and they toasted in the New Year, and they danced and they laughed and they got drunk and they broke numerous glasses (I still found a stray shard of glass today in the dining room). And I felt like I hardly talked to anyone as I wafted through the apartment, pouring as much champagne as I drank, nibbling on a piece of cheese or dancing wildly for a minute or two, laughing at everyone and everything until before I knew it, it was 5:30 a.m. and it was all I could do to drag myself to bed with my cheesy mustache intact, leaving the husband to deal with the last remaining guests: one couple madly kissing on one of the sofas, another couple madly kissing on the dance floor, the rest of the crew dancing drunkenly, who apparently all left somewhere around 6 a.m.

It was the perfect way to see in 2008 and celebrate the light coming back into our little Swedish lives.

Sadly, I was undone by it all and unable to really get out of bed on Jan. 1 until early evening, leaving the husband to clean up the god-awful mess.

About the only thing I could manage was to shave off the mustache.

I still haven't fully recovered. I guess I'm getting old for such abandon.

The Swedish phrase of the day is fast det var värt det. Which means but it was worth it.

- by Francis S.