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Showing posts from November, 2015

Holding our breath for Paris

It is so hard to find the time, and the means, to express the intensity of fears, wants, needs, hopes, and emotions that swirl around inside our heads every day.

Working full time in a cultural center at  university, where lots of people stop by all the time and meetings are scheduled back to back with events every other day, and being a mom and scholar keeps me running around most days from 9am to 9pm. But in the morning when I have my coffee and drive to work, and in the evenings when I am settling in for the night, there is only one thought on my mind, every morning and every night. I so wish something could be done about it, I wish some change would happen, I keep waiting every day to see something new in the world, something that shows this entire silly system is finally about to give way to something revolutionary. Perhaps I am overly optimistic, perhaps it will always just be slow, painfully slow, imperceptibly slow, until some day 20 years from now I will be able to recognize…

Vid erum sammála

My Thanksgiving meal went off fairly well, except the spinach dish. I've never worked with canned spinach before, plus I tried to do some sort of hybrid creamed spinach/spinach soufflé/spinach cornmeal mush. And then I added lemon flavored olive oil. It was not very good. I am going to try putting some in an omelette this morning, but otherwise, it may just go down the drain. On the other hand, my turkey turned out beautiful and the pumpkin cheesecake much better than I could have hoped, which makes me very happy.

For the meal time conversation, I implemented one of my favorite strategies. I find this strategy to be highly affective, plus it fits my optimistic, positive, problem-solving personality very well. It runs about like this: assume everyone is in agreement. Now many other people go into a family meal with the mindset of a battle, that there will be winners and losers, and that the war is never over, there is just a series of skirmishes. I don't have the patience for t…

Those guys were all delusional apparently

Tonight I have lots of company in my condo, which is making for interesting sleeping arrangements. My son came in on Saturday, and his room has always been the smaller second bedroom in the condo. However, that room is also the room my sister uses on the nights she is here. But tonight my sister is here also, so well she is on the couch.

My mom came in Monday night, and I put her in my bedroom.

Where might you ask am I sleeping? I'm not sure you can call it sleeping, but anyhow, I am laying down next to my son. Which makes me privvy to what he says in his sleep. Just now he blurted out the subject line of this blog.

I share it for no reason other than the fact that it was funny.

Thanksgiving always brings with it drama and stress. I am behind on my cooking and disappointed by how much I've had to work this week when I've had company. Yesterday I was quite snippy actually, until I broke down in tears. So here is hoping for a drama free day today. That's not particularly…

The Ghost Sonata

Today the informal class I am teaching (filling in for a cancelled "Scandinavian Cultures" class) meets, as we regularly do on Tuesdays although Thursday is cancelled thanks to the holiday. The topic for today is August Strindberg, and I assigned the Ghost Sonata. It is an important piece of modernist theatre, but I suspect my students will be flummoxed.

What I think the play is about is that what is real and what is fake is a choice, just as being alive or dead is a choice. There are people around us who choose to be apparitions, and there are also those of us who choose to be real. This is the condition of modernity, the option to be fake.

Thanksgiving

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US and I'm thinking about the things I'm grateful for, like second chances. 
They say the only thing you regret is the things you don't do, especially if the decision not to do it is based on fear. In my case, I regret that I didn't move to Iceland when I was 30, just after my job at the Smithsonian was done. But I am grateful this week for the second chance at happiness I've been given, by God or fate or whatever, to have a full and meaningful life. I made things harder on myself by not moving to Iceland when I was 30, and am ashamed to say it was mostly because I had acquired a very negative view of Icelandic men as life companions. So I made the decision out of fear and negativity, and a lack of faith that there were good guys over the age of 30 available in the land of fire and ice. 
I am thankful this week to be able to let go of that regret, and to embrace that the single life I have now is good and important and meaningfu…

To thy ownself be true

I am a minimalist when it comes to Christmas decorations, one wreath on the door and a manger set on the coffee table and I'm done. But at my work, Christmas is a huge production. Today I am (with a committee of people more interested than I am) decorating SEVEN Christmas trees. And then over the next month, I will coordinate four separate Christmas themed events. So well some people look forward to the holidays, but I am tired of it already.

I am glad therefore to be distracted by a few side projects a bit more up my alley. One is a consulting project for Disney's Norwegian Pavilion in Epcot, another is working up the prep for the class I am teaching in the spring on museums. Closer to "home" is the conversations I am beginning to have with the new ownership of Vikingaheimar. It sure would be fun to do some consulting work for them. And then of course there is the whole revamp of the Nordic Heritage Museum I am involved with.

It is nice to be a long-term contractor,…

Visindivænt og naturvænt

When Palmer and I lived in Iceland, I used to read him a story about this family of creatures that could change shapes. There were six or seven of them, one could take on the shape of any animal, his name was naturvænt if I remember correctly. Then there was one who coukd turn into scientific equipment, visindivænt, another that liked books, another that liked sports, a sister that liked music, and another that was beautiful and artistic. The mom and dad could also change shape.

When I was in Switzerland this summer, I saw in one of the shops I passed while walking from my hotel to the university plush pillow versions of the family, and was delighted to see they were still popular. But the store was closed, and I don't suppose I had time to go in anyhow.

Now I'm regretting that I didn't make more of an effort, since it turns out I no longer own that book, I can't remember the name of the creature-family properly, and a Google search of popular European cartoon figures …

Faith, charity, love

Yesterday I attended, for I guess the 7th or 8th time, the episcopal church up the hill from me, where my friend Alissa Newton is the presiding priest. Obviously, the attacks in Lebanon and Paris worked their way into the prayers and sermon, but not in any kind of apocalyptic way.

It reminded me of something that has always confused me about Paul's letter to the Ephesians, I think it was, where he says love is the most important feeling, above faith and charity. This used to confuse me because, at the time, faith was far and away my strongest emotion. I was a fervent believer, I was like one of those medieval female mystics, relying day after day on faith alone, a sort of martyr. And then more recently I have begun to think about the importance of charity, which for me is generally about being charitable towards people's shortcomings. Not being judgmental, and quick to forgive if anything does cause offense, as well as being charitable towards those I work with, giving of my k…

The Mall

Tonight I went to the Sears department store up the road from my house, in the South Center shopping mall. I wondered, as I was driving home, after buying 6 elf outfits for work, and a hemp wallet for myself, what will happen to all the shopping centers when capitalism collapses. Or maybe it's consumer-driven capitalism that will collapse. As one drives away from the mall, there are eight more blocks of stores all around the mall, literally every big chain store one could think of, plus a few more interesting local stores.
The mall itself had hundreds of stores--JC Penny, Sears, Macy's, Nordstrom--plus three levels of smaller clothing stores and electronics and house wears, etc. So its an exhausting prospect to go to the mall. I guess it is meant to be exciting, but all it does is make me very bored. I have zero interest in getting sucked into the sales and "latest looks", I wasn't even very interested in that sort of thing as a teenager, although I certainly spe…

Working it out

An Icelandic friend of mine has an interesting strategy for dealing with upsetting things, like terrorist attacks. I guess it's called black humor. I know he must think it's horrible, but instead he acts like he's on the side of the gunmen. And if I react by telling him to stop, he just does it even more.

I don't really get Icelandic black humor very well. But I suppose it comes from 1000 years of living on an unfriendly island in the middle of the cold, dark North Atlantic. If you embrace that darkness enough, it stops being threatening.

No title

Not sure if it was because I had some tea at 6pm, or because I went to bed at 9pm, but anyhow, here I am, awake at 3:30am Pacific Standard time. Which is great, gives me a chance to catch up on the day's news in Iceland while it is still daytime in Iceland.

Unfortunately, though, my attempts to go back to sleep have been plagued by deep philosophical musings and so I have decided that the best sleep remedy, for both myself and my readers, is to write down these ramblings.

There are certain "I am" statements that I am comfortable with, but I was realizing that very few of these are empirical. Rather, the ones I am comfortable with are situational. I am hungry. I am tired. I am sick. I am lonely. I am 43. All of the other "I am" statements I could make would acquire some sort of equivocation. For instance, if I ever make the statement "I am Icelandic", I have gotten in the habit of clarifying "I have Icelandic citizenship". I am even less lik…

Scandinavian Film Festival

Today, as part of "Family Weekend" at my university, I have agreed to put together a mini-film festival, and it looks like it is going to work out to be four films in three hours. At first I asked my friend Amanda to put this together, and I still think she would have done a better job, since she teaches cinema. But the point is just to give PLU students and their parents something to do together this weekend, and since I'd suggested it I felt like I had to pull it together, even if it was outside my realm of expertise. 
Scandinavian film is different both in production and in execution. The film industry is heavily supported by tax dollars, so there is much less commercial pressure, which means the films tend to be a lot more quirky and unpredictable, and the film makers mix genres in all sorts of ways. So you won't find a straight forward romantic comedy (where two people that have a lot in common and are clearly compatible with one another have to overcome a serie…

Sisterhoods

This week I had lunch with the members of the Danish Sisterhood, about 20 women, some of whom know Danish and have been to Denmark and others of whom have some Danish ancestors, and most of whom are retired, on Wednesday. Then last night I had dinner with the Daughters of Norway, 50 or so women, many of whom have been to Norway but none of whom are Norwegian by birth.

I was so depressed driving home, realizing how hard I'd been trying to fit in all week.

And then I came home to find my sister wasn't home, although I was hoping she would be. Because what this week has confirmed for me, in no uncertain terms, is that I prefer one-on-one interactions over being part of a group.


Program at the Nordic Heritage Museum on election night (Nov. 3rd)

So a few months ago, I had to figure out what to do with a repeat program, i.e., a program that I had put on in March and the presenter then asked if they could come back and present again. This happens to me more often than you might imagine.

So I took what might be a bit of a cop-out. I punted the program (to mix metaphors) over to the Nordic Heritage Museum, instead of having it at my museum at PLU.

So tonight was the program, and it turned out pretty good, thanks to the fact that 90% of the audience was related to one or the other of the two presenters.

I took the two presenters and some of their relatives out to dinner ahead of time, and started to get involved in the inevitable conversations about logistics, of who was going to do what with whom and when and where over the next few day, who was driving with whom to the museum, etc.

And then I realized, there were people far more qualified than I am to make these decisions. Like the family members themselves. So I backed off an…

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm

One of my favorite pieces of juvenile literature is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm, a book that had a lot of influence on me when I read it at age 11 or whatever it was. So I bought the book for Palmer and have been reading it to him.

I find myself thinking about how silly it is that the doctors from the National Institute of Health couldn't figure out that their experiment has not been a failure, but rather a remarkable success. As an adult, I think about all the tax dollars that went into the experiment, and feel like it would be much more satisfying if the doctor and the rats had found a way to communicate with one another and for the findings to get publicized. It seems like important work and it is a shame that because of mistrust nothing ever comes of it for the greater good.

It seems to me that if the doctors had trusted in their subjects, they would have found a way to communicate and understand. Why in the world would they want to kill the rats? Wouldn't they want t…