Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for January, 2010

Stockholm snow: Shove[l] it

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Snow is different in Stockholm than in Boston. And I don’t mean that in some kitschy philosophic “every snowflake is unique” kind of way.  It’s more to do with the snowfall and accumulation than the actual substance which is the same color and temperature (though in Celsius and not in Fahrenheit.)

The first significant snow fall in Stockholm I ever witnessed started in the evening and snowed all night and throughout the next day. Had that been Boston there would have been at least 2 feet of snow on the ground, but here there was barely a decimeter (yep, snow measures up different here too.)

But now that that I have a very long driveway I am rather thankful for minimal snow accumulation during these multiple days of snowfall. In all honesty I like shoveling snow, in fact, a good amount of my teenage income came from the neighbors who wanted someone else to dig them out.  But did I mention we have a very long driveway?

Today a neighbor kindly lent me a special snow shovel that’s more a hand-operated plow/wheelbarrow. (see below)

snow shoveler I have seen them around but until today (we had about a 10 inches on the ground) I had stubbornly stuck to the plain ole shovel, my tried and trusted tool. These hand held snowplows scoop up a massive amount of snow which you then slide along the ground (like a sled) until you dump it in the grass with a quick shoving jerk;  no lifting required.

Clearing our driveway with the “plow” today probably took as long as it would have taken with a typical shovel, but I don’t have an ache in my back this evening. Could be time to invest in one of these.

Or a snow blower.

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Avatar: Leaving the movie…Where am I?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I left the movie theater just outside Stockholm a bit disoriented to where I really was physically. I just saw Avatar (and yes, I know I’m weeks behind the rest of the world.)  A good story well told in an unusual setting when added to a foreign language is the recipe for me.  This doesn’t happen often yet each time I vividly remember the feeling of disorientation.

The first time it happened to me was also here in Stockholm at one of the former pearls of Stockholm cinemas (I know that sounds kind of Eurosnobby but this place was so much more than a typical Bostonian megaplex movie theater that I just can’t not give it the respect it deserves) Röda Kvarn  (just look at that ceiling)röda kvarn

Unfortunately it’s now an Urban Outfitters (I am old enough to remember when it opened its first store in Harvard Square and to have shopped there when it was the ONLY one.)

The film I saw at Röda Kvarn all those years ago was the 1992 French movie, Indochine.  I have no memory of the plot but the cinematography was stunning set in colonial Indochina in the 1930s.

So here I was; an American living at the time in Budapest (slightly able to communicate with my smidgen of Magyarúl) visiting Stockholm watching a film in French about Indochina with some indiscernible  Vietnamese dialogue unresolved by the Swedish subtitles though the Swedish boyfriend would kindly whisper a short translation into English when critical.
As we spilled back out into the twilight evening (summer nights are just glorious in Stockholm) on Biblioteksgatan I couldn’t immediately disassociate from the southeast Asian setting and since I wasn’t in Boston I kept adjusting to a Budapest street knowing that it was, in fact, Stockholm.

Tonight I ended up in the Kista Mall since unfortunately many more than just Röda Kvarn of the glorious movie salons in Stockholm are now a matter of history. But this was only my second visit to Kista so after leaving the fantasy world of Pandora which included an alien language (thankfully I can now read the subtitles) it took a good while to reorient.

When you straddle two cultures and flip between a few languages it’s hard to figure where exactly you are. There’s a moment in the movie when Jake Sully contemplates which of his two existences was the “real” one. I know where he’s coming from.

So where am I? (Maybe I ought to have taken the blue pill)

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Stockholm’s English-speaking community: Barely separated by any degree

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

The members of the English speaking community in Stockholm are arguably separated by no more than about 2½ degrees (referring to the popular idea that we’re all connected within 6 friend knows friend and so on.)

If you’ve been in Stockholm a few years and have even the smallest network of friends, workmates or acquaintances  it’s nearly impossible to meet a new English speaking person without a friend in common –or within 2 degrees and dang nearly guaranteed to connect within 3.  If you think the world is a small place, Stockholm is a pinhole.

Last night I tagged along to the Liffey’s English comedy nightThe Liffey

to see a friend of a friend perform –whom I also know (this is going to start getting complicated but is unimportant in the grand scheme and just for laughs  so don’t feel a need to keep it straight.) Another friend tagged along with me who didn’t know either the comic or my “tagged” (presuming now I’m the tag-alonger to the tagged –or would that be tagee? It would be easier if there were established terms.) But as it were in this friend-incestuous town my tag-alonger found a mutual friend in the comic whom she’s been searching for in vain. Guess that search is now over.

Now I knew Ben Kersley of  110% Lagom blog fame wasn’t on the roster, but it wouldn’t have surprised me to find him there (he wasn’t) but I did find Alannah of Eating out with Alannah whom I’ve never met before. In addition to sharing The Local as a mutual friend or sorts, I’ve known for quite some time that Alannah and I share another friend in common.   Without detailing too much of Alannah’s  social connections (or mine I suppose) we can say that our mutual friend is an unlikely pal-in-common considering the PIC (coining new terms now) is neither a native English speaker nor a resident of Sweden. And it was THAT person, visiting Alannah who recognized me and introduced us for the first time during intermission.

I didn’t look more to find yet additional intricate webs of connection in the crowd  though there certainly must have been –it’s an Irish bar in Stockholm after all. But the grouping of two Local bloggers in one place (and could easily have been three had 110% Lagom been there) inspired me to meet another Local blogger in person today.)

Sarah from the blog No Man’s Land had extended a public invitation to introduce oneself which I took her up on today.  It’s always a pleasure to meet someone in person.

As for the comedy last night, it might sound biased but the PIC/1st degree comic, Brian O’Grady, was the best comic on stage. They’ve asked him to stand up next Thursday too if you want to judge for yourselves.

Oh, and as for degrees of separation. I also discovered last night that I am indeed 6 degrees separated from Kevin Bacon.

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Twelfth night, 13th day and 3 kings: Amen

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The reality that work starts again on Thursday (7 Jan) is painfully sinking in.  I’ve done better than some; the ones who went back to work this past Monday (4 Jan) or the poor schleps who had to work the weekdays aka mellandagarna,  the “between days” literally between xmas and  new year’s,  but I am not as fortunate as those who won’t clock in again until next Monday (11 Jan.)

Christmas season isn’t really over in Sweden yet. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is Trettondedag Jul, the day many other European countries call some variety of “Three King’s Day” of the Christian Epiphany persuasion which many orthodox Christian faiths consider true Christmas.

Did you follow all that?  However you slice it,  Trettondedag jul is  a red day –a colorful Swedish way to say it’s a pubic holiday.

Now if there wasn’t already enough  controversy (well, mostly in the US) mixed up with the xmas holiday i.e. what to call it and associated paraphernalia,  why to celebrate it, who stole it from whom and even when it is,  it appears a homegrown controversy has sprung up in Sweden too.

As it were, most of Sweden’s public holidays are religiously based. Of late, there are more voices calling for greater distance between church and state holidays. The Local’s article even describes a proposal to allow each employee to designate his or her own “holidays” (Isn’t that what vacation days are for?)

Now I don’t know if I agree with a proposal to individualize public holidays (kind of takes away the public value) but I can fully sympathize with the sentiment to reduce the religious affiliation to pubic holidays.  Giving Sweden a National Day and cutting out the second day of Pingst, the Pentecost was a great move.

But I think I want to keep Trettondedagn, it stretches Christmas to nearly mid January and I have become pretty fond of this midwinter break. So back to work on Thursday it is.

Good thing I am taking Friday off.

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