Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for July, 2009

Swedish family in Boston. We’re not quite like the others

Friday, July 31st, 2009

It was 11am Stockholm time when the kids woke up (looking at it positively) in my childhood room.  We managed to keep them “in bed”another hour until 6am Boston time before giving up and getting the day started. I felt better as I saw a woman power walking by on the main street. It reminded me that 6am is a normal time to start a day.

We were at the playground at the field by 9am and the track was filled with more power walkers circling to get in their daily exercise. No other families were with us. I guess families don’t get to the playground at the same time as power walkers. I really wouldn’t know, this early-to-the-park experience is new to me.

The rain caught up with us as we stopped by the playground at my former elementary school. Since we had no umbrellas or escape pod we gave in, got soaked and continued playing. Summer rains are soft and warm.

Wet plastic playground equipment is really annoying on a sunny day.  During a steady rain it fast tracks the slide which normally sticks to damp skin. The temporary   was a hit with the 5-year old. He literally nearly got flung off bouncing through the curves. Again, we were the only family at the playground in the rain. I guess families don’t go the playground during the rain.

We left when the lightning and thunder started.

The complete shift to glorious sunshine  played into our 5-year old’s  confusion that another day had started during his much-needed afternoon nap. He kept talking about the water slide of “yesterday.”  Naps and jet lag can completely mess with  a newly awoken child.

To stave off the heat we went to another play area which has water jets spraying around like an outdoorsy variation of the opened fire hydrant. Thankfully we were able to convince the 2-year old to put on (and even keep on)  her bathing suit and explain to the other one that modest discretion was required when changing him in and out of his Lightning McQueen swim trunks. So he finally asks:

-Why is it not ok to be nude here?

The “Things are different in different places” response seems to satisfy him for now.

Families here in Boston do a whole bunch of stuff different than how we do back in Stockholm.

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Swedish skydivers: Not as naked as you’d think.

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Are Swedish skydivers more or less notorious for nudity? In fact, are skydivers as a whole universally notoriously nudity associated?

It seems that reputation preceeds skydivers, well, beyond the whole extreme sport insanity presumption. I’ve only ever skydived in Sweden, so I have no comparisons. Saturday night’s party at our DZ (that’s skydiver speak for drop zone) partially confirms the rumors, yet, in the same breath, debunks some of that Swedish nudity stereotype as well.

Our club threw a fund-raising event to help pay for some repairs to our beloved aircraft, Erik Erik. For laughs and good fun all sorts of things were sold at auction. I bought myself a 3-course meal prepared by Benny-boy (I would insert a photo of my purchase here, but my CF card, card reader and computer are having compatibility issues. Check back later and I hope I can upload)

So back to nudity (or the lack thereof) . After the auction (and you can’t quote me on it but alcohol was known to have been involved) a group of guys soaped up some packing mats (rubber-like-tarp-like thingamabobs we pack the parachutes on), brought a car around to use the headlights illuminate the field and slicked down (or would it be up?) the mats for slip-and-slide.

You would be surprised (and likely disappointed if you’re reading to get some gratutious nudity images) that not all who slipped or slid were butt-assed nekkid. And to further disappoint, the only female slip-n-slider was nearly fully clothed.  So here you have Sweden’s extreme sport adreneline junky contingency liquored up and isolated at a DZ sliding on a soaped up surface and some people have on their undies (and bra).

What is this saying about skydivers in Sweden? What is it saying about Swedes?

Well, no one is prudish. Everyone was naked in the sauna.

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Desperately Seeking Boston. Couchsurfing and Facebooking

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The wheels of the “Desperately Seeking Boston” (The Spin-off-Knock-off) have been set in motion after getting myself all giddy in my last blog entry.  Dagnabit, but I need to get to know Boston again. This time in the 21st century and this time as a responsible adult (smirking not welcome, thanks) and a parent.

I decided to test out my new membership on Couchsurfing. As they eloquently describe it, “Couchsurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.” While I signed up to offer travelers some guidance if they come through Stockholm (we can’t really offer the couch just yet,) I figured I could look for Bostonians who could give me insight into Boston from a fresh perspective.

As it turns out there are quite a number of active members in my home town where my parents still live and my late 80s/early 90s  wardrobe is still preserved (I technically never moved out since when I left for Europe in 1991  I thought I would be back in 1 year.  School friends call my room the time-capsule.)

Now that would be a twist: seeing your home town from someone you’ve never met’s perspective. So messages have been sent and so far 2 of 3 have responded and arrangements for meet-ups have been arranged.

Thanks to Facebook (Yes, I am grateful to Facebook; Got a problem with that?) I am getting great advice about kid-friendly roadtrips.  New Hampshire has always only been a winter destination for ski trips for me and now 3 different people have been going on about Story Land.

It’s embarassing that I have never been in a car which climbed Mt. Washington. In fact, in looking it up, I realize I have no clue what someone in one of those cars would find once having climbed Mt. Washington.

And why didn’t anyone tell me that the Old Man of the Mountain fell off the mountain in 2003?!

I had no idea the old man fell off. Has Canada become a US state now too?

I had no idea the old man fell off. Has Canada become a US state now too?

What has started out as more of an amusing experiment has now become real. I must (re)discover Boston and its surroundings.

Your suggestions, thoughts and advice:  All welcome.  Keep ’em coming.

Oh, and we’re landing next Wednesday evening, Logan Terminal E.

Have the sign read: Boston Blatte.

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Know your town. Stockholm? Check. Northern Sweden? Boston?

Monday, July 20th, 2009

It’s good to get to know your “home turf”. We often know other places better than where we live.

I’m rather confident to boast that I know Stockholm better than most Stockholmers, especially the native variety. There’s good reason. I started out as a tourist and tourists (the adventurous sort) explore a new city. Then I moved here and have since then pondered, queried, bitched about (—we’ll gloss over that failing for now,) researched and written about pretty much any aspect about visiting or living in Sweden’s capital city.

This is one of the Stockholm guide books I've contributed to

This is one of the Stockholm guide books I've contributed to. Notice how it touts "Written by local experts"

Further afield from Stockholm, I can find my way around Ystad in Southern Sweden with a confident air—you could embarrass me if you truly test me; but I can fake it pretty good. And if I were to put a push pin on a map of Sweden, I have a reasonably good poking range. But I haven’t been north of Åre.

Since July 1st, I’ve been living vicariously through Christine Demsteader’s blog “Desperately Seeking Sweden” and her one-woman adventure around the wilds of Sweden. As of her last entry, she’s still north of my most northern Swedish adventure and I’m both jealous and inspired. I think I might be motivated to make a break for it and rendez-vous with her for a “Boston Blatte meets Desperately Seeking Sweden Mishap Escapade.”

If I miss out on a Swedish adventure this summer, I will have to set my sights on getting to better know my own hometown, Boston during our trip in August.

I have realized that I know Stockholm much better than Beantown.

Something must be done. I think there might be a “Desperately Seeking Boston” knock-off  in August.

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Duck duck. No quack, just splat.

Friday, July 17th, 2009

We took out a run-away duck on the E4 just north of Uppsala yesterday. I had covered my eyes but I felt the hit. I heard my husband follow up with disgust, not only about his own role in the killing, but that a second duck from the same gaggle (what is the collective English grouping for ducks? Plain ole flock?) met the great duck maker of the sky under the Volvo XC90 behind us. (How does this play into Volvo’s driving safety stats?)

I could have brushed off the duck’s untimely death if I didn’t have the image preceding the fateful event in my head which led to so many constructed scenarios leading up to the final moment.

As we exceed the 120km speed limit (‘fraid I can’t divulge the exact number to protect the guilty) I saw a woman running over and own the side embankment waving her hands and arms up over her head in alarm. There was an image of Goya’s painting 18 May 1808: Execution of the Defenders of Madrid that flashed through my head. Well, just the guy with his arms up. It alarmed me that much.


Before I saw that there were ducks on the run ahead of her I wondered if she was panicked by some horrible event or possibly some evil assailant she was escaping from trying to flag down a car to help her before she got hacked up. Would we stop? Should we?

And the I saw the ducks heading for their fate and we all knew there wasn’t anything to be done for at least 2 of them. The driving husband informed me that the most disturbing part was the woman running out onto the E4 trying to save them.

I haven’t read of any human deaths.

People, if the ducks have gone over the embankment and are heading for the highway: DON’T RUN AFTER THEM.

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Bragging rights. Pride in showing off.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

“Stop bragging” I heard a mother tell her 4-ish-year old while he was replying my 5-year old.  Since I don’t know what the subject was -probably something along the lines of “I also have a race track for my McQueen car” I have no idea what anyone might have been bragging about.

But what got me thinking was the mother’s “verbal spanking” and behavioral correction.  This was in Swedish, and she said,  “Sluta skryta.” The only translation I could come up with involved the word bragging. As a parent with a Boston upbringing, I couldn’t imagine ever telling a child of that age to stop bragging.

I could,however,  imagine telling him to stop showing off. So I asked the Swedish husband if  “Att skryta” –to brag, also shared a similar meaning to “Show off.” It doesn’t seem to.

So why would I think a child of that age would be showing off (and that it is possibly poor manners) but I would never think he could be bragging? Bragging is, after all, also socially ugly and we don’t encourage it either. But I still can’t consider any of the “My daddy can dig a really deep hole” type of pride statements anything like bragging. Showing off, maybe.

Bragging is definitely uglier in Swedish society.  Growing up as an American there is leeway involved in the acceptable amount of showing off/bragging you’re allowed to do.  And a child’s bragging can never be seen as anything more offensive than showing off -in my eyes anyway. It’s a way to demonstrate pride in yourself.   Well, as an American I can’t find it very offensive. In fact, I find it endearing. What’s cuter than a proud preschooler?

I smile each time my son beams about something that he’s proud of, even if it’s on the lines of “Mine is most awesome.” I think I believe it will boost his self-confidence and add to life skills which will eventually help him.

I guess you can take the bragging out of showing off, but you can’t take the show off out of the Boston Blatte. You should see how good my 5-year old is at riding his bike 😉

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BouncE flash mob tribute to Michael Jackson in Stockholm. I would never have thought it possible.

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Either times are a-changing or Michael Jackson really holds influence on Swedes because I wouldn’t have believed you could get people to dance in central Stockholm. Definitely not as an ensemble. And yet, the proof is unmistakable in this YouTube clip.

Dance sensation group, BouncE, organized this flash mob (new term for me, too) tribute putting together very impromptu choreography to Jackson’s Beat It and getting the crowd at Sergelstorg and Central Station to pull it off. (You really  just have to watch the video.)

I am not surprised that the Dance cooperative BouncE could either conceive this or pull it off. They’ve been making dance waves in Sweden for over a decade. They’re really just a band of dancers from all sorts of dance disciplines who got together to do funky dance stuff. Some of the founders have formal dance training and others have just got street hip-hop roots.  They’re the dance world’s equivalent to the garage rock band. I got to meet them back in 2003 before their smash hit performance “The Score” kicked off. It sold out Dansenshus for extended  months on end. A truly amazing performance.

Back to my surprise. Swedes aren’t public, collective dancers. They don’t get up and volunteer to do flash mobs. They won’t march on the capital to beat down the prime minister’s door. They’re rather low-key, shy and publicly reserved people.

Well, at least we now know they’re capable of the first two phenomena which I needed to see to believe it myself –a pity not live.

Look out Reinfeldt. Your countrymen may very well surprise you too someday. I now believe anything is possible.

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Americans storm Stockolm’s beach: Old Navy t-shirts waving in the breeze.

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

With all the American flags at Fågelsöudde, it looked like we (big ole bunch of Yanks)  stormed the beaches of Lidingö (a suburb of Stockholm) this afternoon. Which I guess we did. The flags marked off a “claimed” territory for us American revelers using Independence Day as a great reason to gather. Apparently the organizers had a permit. So, the invasion was sanctioned. Not quite as dramatic. Definitely more peaceful.

There was a clear uniform even if no one coordinated. Old Navy t-shirts with some kind of American Flag image adorned. There were all sorts of models but lots looked like this one:


I’m not really sure which organization organized this picnic on the beach. I know the American Embassy Staff was there, as was the American Club and the Democrats Abroad Club. I am not sure if there  is a Republicans Abroad organization nor if there were any representatives, but it didn’t matter to the kids enjoying face painting, potato sack races and the sand castle competition. Nice job and thanks to whomever deserves it most.

The natives were also enjoying the more sunny than rainy day. Surprisingly none of them seemed threatened by our invasion and beach occupation.

All in all, the invasion was a success. However the retreat came with the rain.

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Made in Sweden, knocked off in China. Lena PH’s “It hurts.”

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

A Chinese knock-off of a Swedish schlager song isn’t novel, I know, but it is funny. You can see it on YouTube here, and it’s actually quite a good musical production and video. It’s a copy of Lena Philipsson’s 2004 Melody Festival entry “Det Gör Ont”, or performed in English as “It Hurts”.

Lena Ph’s album


This particular song and its humorous Chinese rendition tenderly hits home. It was my “theme song” during the arduous 50-hour labor of my son’s birth in June 2004 since it was played so often on the radio that I just couldn’t help finding it tremendously ironic.

If the lyrics translate directly, I hope there’s a Chinese mother in labor  keeping herself amused by the irony and the catchy tune.

I almost wish the knock-off was cheesier.

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Facebook disabled me. I don’t exist.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Facebook just kicked me out. They just informed me that my account was disabled and now literally my account no longer exists. I tried finding me on Google and even via another person’s Facebook account and I’ve left the Facebook building.

I sent them and email and I sure do hope they get this fixed because as pathetic as it sounds, I feel like I just got exiled and ostracised and voted off the island.

How am I supposed to find out if it’s still raining or not in Boston when people wake up? How am I supposed to know what happened to Cecilia’s reported stolen car? Who is going to give me some insight on the Red Sox game which was apparently lost after a 9-run lead (yes, I know I can google, but I feel so much closer to Fenway when I read Lynne’s shock and horror or glee.)

Dear Facebook, I hope you resolve this soon. I need to go to IKEA and do some other AFC errands today. I will check back later.

I feel like the tree which fell in the woods.

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