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I'm back from Sweden since exactly a week. Things went well, but I don't want to talk about that now, I want to show and tell about a Swedish cultural institution that takes place in August every year: The CRAYFISH PARTY!

I had begged some of my friends to give this starved quasi American some well needed Swedish crustacean love to sweeten up my soul for the long North American drought to come (living in an in-land State and all..), and so they showed me some true love and threw a glorious crayfish party!

Me and my friend Grzm decided to a 10 kilometer walk to their place outside of Uppsala (a small community called Vreta), and it was a beautiful late summer day, the woods looked very inviting with many possible roads to follow..


Food and people!! )
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(cross-posted from LJ)

Yesterday evening was the first time I could log into LJ in 3 days or so, and the forced hiatus really once again made me realize just how much LJ still means to me, in spite of being abandoned by the trend sensitive lazy petals of faceboob.

When I do my writing, I take breaks, and primarily LJ is my break reward. It's worked very well for me during countless projects over the years. So 3 days without it was an illuminating experience.
I'm sorry that Russian drone attacks may be the slow death to LJ (I hope not), but still, even with becoming unhip and with the issues it has in periods, using faceboob for my major breaks over these 3 days made me realize how much more primitive and less exciting the whole format is. I missed the heck out of LJ, and managed to be harassed by a Nietzsche-loving philosophy major idiot on Faceboob on top of it all. Hey, with Faceboob being what it is, I could even be really mean and post his real name if I wanted to.

I've read a fair amount of Nietzsche back in the day, and by that I do not mean all of Zarathustra and nothing else, I've read most of his aphorism and meditations, The Gay science, Beyond Good and Evil, Ecce Homo, Zarathustra of course, his texts on the Greeks and on his dispute with Wagner. Let's just say that I had a period in my life where I was intensely focused on certain reading. I still go back to Nietzsche (among other writers) from time to time. And I too, along with most young people at some point in their tunnel visioned focused educational reading experiences had that Aha-moment, where I thought I grasped his vision. (There is of course no proof of really having done so, no expert in the world could claim this, but most people do anyway, and this guy on faceboob certainly claimed it)

So, an old classmate of mine posted about appreciating Nietzsche more as an artist than philosopher, and how he was very often misunderstood by people who hadn't read him much at all, but had a knee-jerk reaction to him from reputation and snippet quotes.

I concurred, but also added that I could understand female readers going through N for the fist time and getting disenamored with him from certain passages. Me and him went back and forth a bit in an amiable fashion, talking about our impressions, me mentioning my mixed feelings when reading N as a young girl (mixed as in the true definition of the word, with real exhilaration and awe mixed with disappointment and frustration). And next, this douchebag on my classmate's friendslist butts in with a typical standard texbook philosophy major's tone, saying things like "okay, I'll bite" (as if I was even aware of his existence), wanting me to "prove things" and asking me for explanations on passages.

His first response sounded okay, as if it was an honest discussion, and I summarized a passage from my memory of "The Gay Science" that talks about Women and education and why it is no good (it sounds worse than it is, I understand N's reasoning on artificiality in that text, but it still has flaws in the very taxonomy he often dabbles with in genders and cultures and other groups, even when it is flattering), and provided one quote about older women being skeptics.

But then he started to creep me out in that familiar armchair way of philosophy majors when they think themselves superior and smelling blood. (oh reeeally, tell me more quotes and why they make you feel as you do, this promises to be awesome, blah blah). So, I got pissed.

I made him cry. Or the internet equivalent of it.

The way to make a philosophy major cry is to make him lose his shit and call you names (kind of like Godwin's law about losing an argument automatically by referring to Nazism) I refused to play his game and started asking him questions instead. He started claiming that "the burden of proof" was on me because I had a "thesis", I started analyzing his discussion style and explaining why he wasn't having an honest discussion, but rather a self constructed straw man that he was trying to give a hand job on his own (by claiming that I was "irked" by Nietzsche and having a "thesis" about my irritations - something I disproved easily enough by pointing to real quotations between me and my friend) I also gently pointed out that perhaps he couldn't dictate a "debate" that I hadn't even agreed to in the fist hand.

I then continued in a parallel thread to discuss Nietzsche with my friend (who was amused by the exchange), and gave him examples and explanations to the mixed feelings from my favorite Nietzsche texts.

The guy blew a fuse and told me that "I did a disservice to my gender" and (insert random list of negative traits, such as being coy for instance), and by behaving the way I had, I had also PROVEN Nietzsche's theses about women (which this dude had initially claimed were *not* truly negative, so the contradictions in his statements reached epic proportions here)

Basically he lost his shit in the last rant, and proved that while Nietzsche may not in fact have been a real misogynist (which I had never claimed), just like he wasn't ever a proto-Nazi (he was actually very anti-German), the dude on facebook spewed a bona fide misogynist rant, which in philosophy major debate-land is the same as crying, pissing your pants and accusing someone of being a Nazi.

I sweetly answered that whatever I had done, I at least hadn't called him by a list of negative traits, and said that I hoped this made it clear that I had never wanted any form of debate with him.

I felt dirty and exhilarated and tired for a second. Cross my heart, I usually walk away from shit like this. Countless times I've done it. I *like* discussing with my friends, and something in my discussions seems to tempt random asshats to butt in uninvited. I usually ignore it, but my absence from LJ made me bored and frustrated on my break, and thus sordid drama took place.

And this was actually rather intelligent for Faceboob, believe it or not.

Someone on a LJ friends flist said the other day that what makes LJ exceptional is the phenomena of friends, friendslocking, threaded conversations, communities, and the ability to show off links and videos and pictures in the same post all at once.
And I agree, this makes LJ unique, to this day no other forum has figures out the brilliance of these traits put together.

I'll stay here until it drops. But I'll start cross posting on Dreamwidth more, in case the Russian cyber terrorists bomb LJ. I will always post here first though.
I also hope that G+ will, in spite of recent controversy with aliases, give Faceboob a good run for it, so that I can, as I plan, just shift to G+ and do my limited social networking there, with a much smaller and more selective group of "friends" over there.

If it's one thing faceboob was good for, it is to show which individuals you have any ties to still and who your relationship is stone dead with, and I will really use that knowledge on G+. I'm already careful with my invites there and who I add to circles.

Hit me up in a private message if you are on Dreamwidth and want to be friends, or if you plan on some G+ activity in the future. I'll always stay on LJ, but if we're bombed for long periods here, alternatives that aren't faceboob are good to have. I like my friendslist on LJ fiercely.
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Even with a chest infection, which subsided into another bacterial infection when I came back to the states over Christmas, even with a lot of boring texts to study and some other hectic affairs, it was wonderful to be home for almost a month. I didn't feel like writing a single blessed thing about it for some reason, but it was so nice to dress a gorgeous tree and open presents with my family, including my god daughter and her sister, the cutest kids ever. It was great to go and see tons of movies in the theater, to cuddle with the geek, to sit at the Melting Pot fondue restaurant with a really great group of women, to go to Rachael's graduation party, to help E move house (although I coughed so much I sounded like a TB patient), to geek out with E and Jen and the Geek watching Dr. Who and LOTR, to play Mahjong and Gloom with Lish and Joseph and Maggie and chill at the Boulder Cafe with their superior Bhakti Chai.

Well, all that is over now, and it all went by so fast. Can I please have it back?

Anyhow, I'm in Sweden again, since a week ago, and there have been some nice moments here too, some of them closely connected to the extraordinary amount of beautiful winter magic going on in the landscape right now.

Last week presented some truly fairy tale-like Narnia moments, let me tell you, or rather show you:


Scandinavian winter magic )
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"The quiet transition from autumn to winter is not a bad time at all. It's a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you've got in as many supplies as you can. It's nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own. Then the cold and the storms and the darkness can do their worst. They can grope their way up the walls looking for a way in, but they won't find one, everything is shut, and you sit inside, laughing in your warmth and your solitude, for you have had foresight."

"There are those who stay at home and those who go away, and it has always been so. Everyone can choose for himself, but he must choose while there is still time and never change his mind."
late November in southern Sweden )
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What makes me thoughtful in the whole swine flu debate are the people who claim that it's bad to take a vaccine because it's not natural..because H1N1 and other pandemics are supposed to cull the population, take away the weakest and sickliest examples and build up immune defense in the rest. It is admittedly seldom expressed in such a brutal blunt way (it is often used with historical examples of pandemics, far far away in time and sometimes about brown people on the other side of the world from Sweden), but a fairly simple logical analysis would still lead to such conclusions from the "naturalist" argument, when taken out of a private context and into a pamphlet waving public mission.

Have they really examined this school of thought properly? To me it is a very callous view on humanity and also an oddly self centric view on vaccine.

Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly okay to not take any vaccine, particularly if you feel confident in your own health and if you're reasonably sure you're not going to be close to a high risk person.

..but the "culling" opinion (which I've genuinely heard expressed more than once is almost nazi-like in its clinical brutality. Today, so many people get to live that would have been part of infant or child mortality rates 100 years ago, perhaps even you or I would be among these! People who seem healthy today, would perhaps not have been up to par with conditions in historical times. My own husband, with his asthma, would probably not have survived childhood 150 years ago, and many many other wonderful people, people who have contributed to making the world a better place, both on modest as well as larger scales. Is it not right to try fighting a disease for the sake of these risk groups, instead of letting "nature run its course"?
And isn't it hypocritical to talk about "nature's course" in today's modern age, where we frequently, every day, every moment use cheats, enhancements and aids to make life easier, funner and more humane? Because the people claiming such opinions are always from a privileged part of the world. You won't hear someone who really is subject to all the whims of nature in their daily struggle, to display such amazing lack of wider empathy. My thoughts go to the aids problem in Africa..isn't it easier to "let nature run its cause"? What about the handicapped or mentally ill? is it right to invest resources so that they can function as fully as possible in society, with tools, meds and therapy? Is that too against nature? It's certainly cheaper to let them be, isn't it?

Or is it simply that some people think that it is only the things they have selected as such, that are "unnatural", while they happily keep using other man-made inventions to heighten the value of their daily lives.

In the end, I think it is everyone's personal choice which is most important, and these thoughts aren't meant to dispute any such personal view on if or if not to take any vaccine, it is meant to perhaps put a little pressure on those public or semi public opinions which are rooting for selective "naturalism" like a sleazy Washington lobbyist in a cheap suit.
(the analogy is meant to inspire notions of badly researched populism and a type of empathy which you can treat as any party clothes hanging in your wardrobe, just take it off whenever it suits you!)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not taking the vaccine, I have heard very respectable personal arguments against it, it's of course not wrong to take the vaccine either, the best opinion for why to do that was expressed by a friend of mine just recently: do it out of solidarity. If you care about high risk people in your life, if you expose yourself to large crowds where such people are, then it's certainly a showing of solidarity to minimize the risk of spreading the bug around them. The point is merely that I'm willing to bet that for many people in a country such as Sweden it is often not a sign of fear, nor a sign of egoism if they take the vaccine, it is a sign of thoughtfulness.

(This text is inspired mostly from the situation in Sweden, where the government has bought vaccine for all 8 million people, which these people can choose or not choose to take, and which is virtually free of charge if you take it. In the US, vaccine is still very scarce, and it is unclear which groups will be able to get it and at what cost. Also, as a side note: what's written isn't primarily inspired by a popular or notorious Swedish female doctor, I'd rather not discuss her or her opinions here, I merely want to impress that if someone has a certain stance in public, there is a responsibility which comes with that stance, both ethical and professional. A doctor who proclaims that they won't take a vaccine when there is a pandemic going on, would not get terminated because of his/her opinion, they simply aren't fit to work with the sick and the weak among the general public because they could with such great ease be carriers, and thus affect and even kill those in the herd who would have been "culled" had we lived in the dark ages.)
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Last week There was a morning where a thick mist wrapped the whole town and lasted well into the early day. Before 8 a.m. you wouldn't have seen Jack the Ripper until he was right next to you, closer to lunch it was still lingering, just slightly softening the gray contours of this fall day.

The view from the balcony of the house I currently live in, in the morning

My faculty is surrounded by a park, called "The English Park" on one side and the old graveyard on the other side. This is part of The English Park, on my way to class.
pictures around my school and some musings )
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I came back from the States 3 days ago and have been fighting a hellish &%¤#* jetlag since then. Thursday was weird, I was so tired I literally felt sick. I usually don't suffer this much from jetlags, but this time I might have overextended myself, flying from Sweden to Colorado, from Colorado to Illinois, from Illinois to Colorado and from Colorado to Sweden again, in 8 days. The pressure changes from all that jumping has been messing with my head if nothing else.

Still, it was a good family get together, people were happy, kids were cute and cousins that hadn't seen eachother in years made visual contact.

And then I lost my wallet at O'Hare airport, on my way back to Sweden. Or rather..I forgot it on the plane and went on without it on my merry way to my connected flight.
Let me just say that O'Hare is probably the LAST airport in the Western hemisphere that I'd want to lose anything valuable in. It is huge, messy and rude (completely lacking the charming aspects of its patron Chicago). My wallet contained not only a bunch of visa cards and other identity-theft goodies, but also my green card, joy joy! That'll teach me to never buy anything on a plane ever again! (as I did then, for the first frigging time in my life) About two hours before my connecting flight I discovered this disaster and started a frantic desperate hunt.
I'm going to spare you the story and just say that, in spite of having the full information of flight number, seat number, gate number, time of disembarking the aircraft etc etc, it took me ten moronic United employees to get to one great employee. Maybe those are the statistics when a company treats their people poorly.

I almost lost my shit when I came to a morose looking man with drooping shoulders, who in a lazy voice informed me that it was a doomed case, because the cleaning crew weren't with United (and often immigrants), and therefore they usually stole whatever they found.

"and how is this not United's business?" I asked with sarcasm masking tears welling up in my throat, he just shrugged.
I reminded myself that this wonder of diplomacy and empathy didn't deserve to get strangled because of my own forgetfulness, I had myself to blame, but I did feel sorry for all those United customers who ever landed in tricky situations, basically it's a Russian roulette when it comes to what kind of help you get from United employees.

I did finally claw my way up to a good guy, who looked and behaved human, and did what I'd asked all the others to do, namely to check the gate we'd landed at, and talk with the staff there. Phone calls were made, and after some running and waiting my wallet was found, unmolested! (so much for those thieving immigrants, you droopy shouldered assface).

I barely made it to my connecting flight, they were boarding the last handful when I came sprinting.

So, the next day, I was a bit of a basket case, but I made it to my seminar at least.

In academic news, I am taking Law for archivists, and also XML classes (which are kicking my butt a bit, but I have a good tutor), so there are some advanced classes mixed into the whole package, not all is lost in this new Master's program.

Yesterday, a handful of us played Gloom, a game very inspired by Edward Gorey, both artwise and storywise.


Each player monitors a freaky family with dark secrets, and the goal is to make all your family members as miserable as possible before they die.


If they die happy, you loose valuable points. In reverse, you of course try to throw happy incidents upon your fellow players, so that their family members perk up and die joyously.
I must say that I found this card game both quirky and fun.

And why am I up writing at 3 a.m. in the night in spite of a long day tomorrow?

aaah, my jeetlag, have I told yoouu of eet....
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Last Saturday I went to Stockholm with two friends and we played tourists in our own country and had a great day taking pictures, visiting lots of small obscure stores and taking nice coffee breaks in coffee shops with medieval vaults. I haven't spent a full day with A and M in ages, and we had a great train ride both to and from Stockholm, talking about cats and old tv shows and everything in between, and then strolling under umbrellas in the rain over the cobblestones of Old Town, dashing into stores to look at silly antiques, books and crafts.
My chest was filled with love and my tummy with dinner and a giant piece of coconut cake when the day was done.

Old Town Stockholm )
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Autimn in Sweden and Swedish cats Autimn in Sweden and Swedish cats
One thing I like about Sweden, and Uppsala in particular is that you can find large wooden areas and pastures in the middle of the city and around apartment complexes, it can often bring an otherworldy nature to pretty common areas.

autumn and cats )
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Most people know how to differentiate between religiousness and spirituality, for instance, being religious doesn't necessarily mean that a person is spiritual, they can live after certain rules and dogmas, having long ago decided that there is a certain god, and the rules they fancy this god has created should be followed and beyond that they don't contemplate the matter very much, they just continue to live their life in their material reality.

Counter to this there are spiritual people who contemplate esoteric matters and communicate with the spiritual side of the world regularly, but don't subscribe to places of worship, dogmas, rules or other religious practice. And then of course there are people who are both religious and spiritual and people who are neither.

When it comes to goodness, being good or less selfish, whatever traits that classically have defined goodness, it is by most people agreed that there are religious people who lack goodness, they are often considered fanatics or dogma-drones. It is also fairly commonly understood that certain religious people can be good, they are then often described as having "true faith" or being god touched. Atheists and agnostics (i.e. the two groups that don't spend much time with either religious matter or spiritual matters) are in general, except by the most dogmatic of religious bigots, considered to have equal capacity for good and evil, depending on personality, choices, disposition, etc. But I have found that when it comes to spirituality, this trait is more often than any of the other 3 groups (religious, atheist and agnostic) associated with goodness. It seems to me that many people have some form of precognition that a person who's interested in spiritual matters without embellishing him/herself with an established faith should have a special capacity for compassion and seeing the soul in people, places and things, as well as being less inclined toward various expressions of human hierarchy, and this is where the myth begins.

I guess this is a lengthy way for me to say that to be spiritual doesn't in any way mean that a person is good, just that the person believes in a spiritual reality, no more, no less. If we assume that there is such a spiritual reality upon which a spiritual person relies to draw wisdom, power, faith and other things from, then there is no guarantee that this person actually is particularly "chosen" to do so. I don't necessarily mean to say that the ability to gain insights or signals from a spiritual reality would be a completely random matter, but the personality traits upon which such a "selection" would be based, certainly wouldn't be goodness, or for that matter wisdom. I have found a few criteria that seem to be common qualities essential for a person to feel that they are getting any insight in a spiritual reality, but these qualities would seem pretty mundane in comparison to such already mentioned traits as goodness, bravery or wisdom. This is of course not to say that a spiritual person can't be a truly good person as well, rather that goodness is not dependent on their spirituality, but by how they make use of their spirituality, and those choices are completely dependent on their goodness/bravery/wisdom etc.

The first two things I silently ask when I see someone who seems to be on a spiritual quest are: "what do they do with their spirituality?" and "how do they relate what they do to their fellow spiritual seekers?". I think a lot can be answered by just observing the outcome of these two questions.
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Yesterday I discovered my first tick! I mean, I've known about ticks and what they look like, I've even helped holding dogs and cats when ticks have been removed from them, but never before, to my knowledge have I had one of these disgusting buggers feed on me and have their bodies grow to horrible blood filled sizes while their head was stuck underneath my skin, close to my left collarbone. I called a friend and asked about the best technique to pull them out, and then I just clenched my teeth and did it with a pair of tweezers. It came out, the head was still attached and I could see it waving its disgusting little antennae at me, for having the insolence of detaching it from its food source. I put it on a piece of paper and watched it drag its blood bloated body, ginormous in comparison to the head, which was only barely visible, and then I killed it. I was appalled to see the huge splash of blood on the piece of paper when the body burst like a ripe grape (it was the size of a fairly large pin head), I knew it was my blood, but it still felt like murder, and yet, for some illogical reason I was quite adamant in my gut feeling that I for the life of me didn't want to release this bugger into nature again.

Oh well, I guess I can join the "we hate ticks" choir now, as yet another confident voice preaching that they are completely unnecessary to the biological cycle, and completely disgusting on top of that.

The tick must have joined my bandwagon when I was at the lovely party last Saturday, down by the coast, in a historical building from the late 18th century. I guess I would endure more ticks if I could do it again, since I had a very good time there.

The weather here in Uppsala, has been gorgeous the last couple of days, sunny and warm autumn air with just a hint of a crisp edge to it, apples and pears on the trees and blue skies and all that jazz that Sweden can sport if nature decides to pony up.

I made and served chanterelle soup for the friends I live with currently the other day. All across Uppsala people are selling these golden shrooms and other shrooms, veggies and berries/fruits of the fall, so I'm buying and enjoying the sights:


When we finished eating chanterelle soup the fish-truck came! In Sweden there is a company that sells fish on line and also has a truck that comes by people's houses and sells fish just like the ice cream truck sells ice cream!


Apparently they sell all kinds of delicious seafood, and you can go to their website here and order all kinds of goodies to be delivered to your door, their motto is apparently "no delivery is too small". I suspect it may be a little pricey, but the idea is still very appealing...

In academic news, the jury is still out on what classes I'll have to take, even though I've already started classes. I went to the highest bureaucrat at the Academic degree office (examensenheten) this Monday and delivered my case into her hands. She was actually very nice and invested significant time into understanding the case. They'll have a meeting and decide withing a week, worst case scenario is that I'll be right where I'm now. In the mean time, my faculty is starting me in an advanced class, just in case the jury decides to vote in my favor, so as of today I'm taking "law for archivists" on top of everything else (I don't dare quit anything until I know what the decision will be). Exiting times.

Since it's been so gorgeous outside, I've done some walking to some favorite places of old, and I've decided to do some ceremonial outdoor spirituality in the near future and picked out the place for it. It's going to be nice to sleep under bare and familiar skies again and to meditate. I'm also hoping to learn some new paths with my friend G this weekend. He does a lot of walking and biking in old forests in this area and has become quite knowledgeable, so we'll probably go somewhere on Sunday, if the weather holds.

Pictures of Swedish cats and Swedish nature will come, as promised.
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..if you post youtube links and "free market" think tank articles dressed up as "research" in your mission to discourage universal health care. And yet I post fact check links that show that the material is skewed or taken out of context at best, or outright lying at worst. The level of fear and stupidity is reaching maximum density in political communities in the US.

..if you're a woman who claim that you get along with men better and don't ever analyze your own motives for why that is. These type of girls are mostly, with the rare exception, predictable and, I'm sorry to say, fairly clueless.

...if you're a bureaucrat and sport a lazy brain. Bureaucracy can be a beautiful thing, but when it's lazy it becomes the fictional product of Franz Kafka, and my name becomes Josef K.

...if you're the type of individual who say that you need to "think about yourself and not so much about other people". This usually means that you in reality rarely think about other things than your own arse, and your own arse probably take up a lot of your brain capacity.

...if you're a nerd and claim that girls don't read comics or roleplay or whathaveyou, because girls don't go to conventions as much as guys and dispose themselves to sweaty sexist dipshits.

...if you are a fan of the PUA culture or take part of it.

One week in Sweden, one week of errands and fixing, sporadic internet, many cats (pictures will come later), surreal academic endeavors (last word on this topic isn't said yet), surreal meetings with people from the past, two assholes, one who's just married to one and the rest were all nice encounters. I've started re-watching Babylon 5 on my little portable dvd player late at night when work and social play is done, and it's nice, very nostalgic and still enjoyable in spite of silly moments.

Computer labs with hairy cats at [ profile] northernveil's and [ profile] pierson's this afternoon and hanging with hairless cats later, parties and people for a bit, but also a lot of calm a lot of loss and some disappointment. A more explicit and perhaps filtered post may come on a LJ near you in the future.
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I am going to Sweden on Tuesday morning, and my brain still fails to fully process that I'll be gone for months and months (admittedly with visits, but still). I have a life in the US now and people I care about and will miss. It's going to be good to see the people I care about in Sweden and talk to them face to face, but still, I suspect there might be lonely times for me in the end, before I return to the US.

I'm scrambling around trying to fix stuff and finish business before I go, it makes me very scatter brained, and it makes it hard to write posts on LJ about what I do and what I think, but LJ has actually perked up my days recently. It seems like some people on my f-list are here to stay, and have started to post more frequently, that along with some new names, makes the old f-page look pretty alive again. LJ is my first blog love, and I ain't leaving it, because nothing is better so far.

A few days ago I was so confused with all the tasks and changes coming up, I forgot the bag of stuff I was going to give away to charity, and ARC people came around to my condo only to find emptiness. I felt like a shit because of that, and hope the Geek can give them my stuff next time.

Been catching up on books and tv shows too, before I go, True Blood is becoming more and more entertaining for each season, perhaps the more vampires speak Swedish the more entertained I get?
The Moon was the best hard Scifi movie I've seen in ages, and directed by David Bowie's son as a piece of curious trivia. The Torchwood 5 episode season "Children of Earth" was well worth watching, if for nothing else, than for the gay love and angst of Captain Jack.

Am reading Octavia Butler right now, can't believe I've waited this long with doing that.

Really, my place and my head is a bit of a mess, not a bad mess, just cluttered and preoccupied. I guess I really am going, huh?

The little netbook Acer Aspire that my friends bought me for last years birthday will come in handy both in working from Sweden as in studying. It's easy to travel with, as is the little portable dvd player/watcher the Geek gave me for Christmas, never before have I felt so savvy and high tech while traveling. It's a new feeling for me. oh, and lets not forget my digital camera from last year, the by now 3 year old Sansa music player and my brand new AT&T cellphone The shiny red LG phone. What's happened to me? I've become a tech carrying world traveling entertainment and communication user, that's what's happened. Knowing me I will probably carry these items for years and years though, until they are considered stone age.

And yet I'm still the same in many ways. I don't like most films about the mob, the mob is one of the most hyped topic of interest for film and tv of all ages. I think Harlan Ellison is a regular A-hole, I love caviar of most kinds, which often disturbs people, I go to significant lengths to disprove skewed facts that "free market" think tanks spew out for their own agenda. I used to write poetry, maybe I will again one day, soon. I love several people, like many and hate a few, those I dislike often bother me in the sense that I think I should try to like them, which is a wound that will never close. We are what we are, but we can feel as good as we can from it I suppose.

Tonight there will be Swedish crepes for dinner and Swedish pancakes for dessert, they are essentially the same, just with different fillings.
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I'm a little numb or stunned or something these days. It's slowly hitting home that I might have to spend most of fall semester 09 and half of spring semester 2010 in Sweden in order to get the academic title I want. My old professor whom I talked to about this in May was too optimistic and wrong, he thought according to the old system, but all main European universities have reformatted themselves recently, according to what they call "The Bologna system" and so, there are lots of us stuck between the two systems and we have to bite the bullet.

I don't like it, it's way more than I bargained for. Two months in Sweden was okay, but this is not. I'll miss the Geek and my family and my life in the US, it really feels like putting my life on hold for 7-8 months, and on top of that I might actually experience problems with regards to where I could live during these months. I have some good friends with whom I can live during fall, but I'm not sure what to do mid January through March next year. We'll see what happens, I'll go to an academic counselor and talk about my options and what can be done to shorten the time in Sweden, if anything.

My best option is still to do all this in Sweden, but had I lived in Sweden I wouldn't do it, since my degree is far beyond good enough to get work there. Here in the states it's gonna help to get an internationally recognized title however, and it's gonna help a lot - even though my degree is already better the the MA's from the library colleges here.

I might miss a lot of things about Sweden, but that doesn't mean that I want to spend months and months in limbo there, without actually living there. And it's gonna cost money, all this really is like putting life on a hold, and in a time where I feel I don't have any time for such pauses.

Summer has been spent with a couple of different jobs and by working on an ecological farm which my family is shareholder in. Weird to work with vegetable patches again, since I swore off ever having a garden again when I was a late teen. (I grew up with a big garden and many fruit trees and berry bushes, belonging to a rickety old house and it all took so much maintenance, it sort of colored my childhood in certain ways.)
Anyways, the ecological veggies have been tasty, although I discovered that the only and first food allergy I've ever had, is to turnips!

I'm trying to drag myself up by my bootstraps a bit and not be so disappointed and morose about how my current situation has turned out, but it's going slow and I fear more setbacks when in Sweden. I'll be taking some work with me there, and I think I can be in the US most of December and I'll visit in mid October (for the Geek's mom's birthday), but bittersweet exile it is.

For the record let it be said that I've deleted several parts of this entry, in which I dwell on the things I've given up on in life, but they are part of the glum stuff that my head is made of currently, and this academic exile kind of represent the last nail in that coffin. I'm not sure it's true that it is, but it feels like it.

The Geek and I are okay, we'll plow through this, we've handled harder things together, but something in me is a bit weary of life plans never coming together in spite of efforts.

On top of all this, I've been reading articles and links about the Pittsburgh women murderer and gym shooter George Sodini (thanks for good linkage [ profile] creactivity), and how he was affected by the Pick Up Artist (PUA) culture. It brings me back to the beginning of last year, when I was debating a lot with masculinists and anti feminists on Swedish debate forums like Passagen. One of the most skilled and outspoken debaters there was a guy calling himself RealMX who claimed that The Game was the most important book in modern times (no irony!), and he held long argumentative rants about why it was so..and yet it became abundantly clear that the guys who were interested in pick up artist games had a few things in common (including this guy). They sensed women as much much different from men, to the point where it almost (and definitively in some cases) created a female contra humanity view on gender polarity. And also, the guys ruled by PUA games were claimed to be "nice guys" wanting to shred their "nicety" which, according to PUA myth was the reason for not getting women. Basically this article about the nice guy syndrome sums up what I thought and think pretty neatly. It still sucks to be right, and to have been right from the very beginning about these tendencies, because the world and the internet is full of masculinist guys in this very moment spewing their anger against anyone daring to criticize the PUA culture and what comes out of it.
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It's been a pretty intense month, not only from working roleplaying and hiking with camp kids, but also, in the midst of this I've had some pretty thorough LJ friend action going on, comparatively speaking.

It all started with [ profile] jlsjlsjls sending me Canadian/Polish mushroom bouillon cubes and along in the package enclosing this awesome book:


Here is just one example out of many from the naughtiness of this very weird little book:


Friends and family read it, and now they all want to know who jlsjlsjls is. I told them that we all need to go to Canada anyway.

After that I was visited by three lj friends on two different occasions.

Rocky Mountain National Park pictures )
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I don't know abut others, but my life has never been straight forward, it has always been filled with doubt, hesitations and analysis from many possible angles. A friend once told me that all these things came from being an impulsive and emotional nature at heart, and from being trained at a very young age that these were lesser qualities to have, and since I was also considered fairly intelligent, a close male relative once compared me to a noble metal that was at the same time impure. (he was Polish, and the Poles are prone to categorizing, romanticizing their taxonomy and then trying to excuse it all by a patina of logic, in this process it's probably important to remember that what came first was a knee jerk emotional bias, which started the whole damn thing)

Anyway, I'm always partially ashamed of being slow and introspective when it comes to the big things, the things in which you should be clear and cut cleanly and swiftly with a sharp blade.

It can take me such time to realize why I feel or think a certain way...and it scares me that there may be people out there who are so fast. So very fast, and yet still make the right decisions.

I think a life crisis is just like that when it comes with years, not with particular triggers or blatant happenings. We discover what our subconscious didn't want us to discover, or we see things from angles that we didn't see before and it can be a really heavy experience.

There are certain films and books I come back to when I feel at odds in this particular way, I guess there is a whole collection. They are just there to kickstart certain thoughts or emotions..I could give you a list, probably more impressive than Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion by Austen, but Austen can really take the short cut into this swamp for me.

In Austen stories there are these long silences, in which nothing happens, in which all the pauses are meaningful and in which choices are extremely important and often set in stone once they've been made, so in the rare occasion where a character is given a second chance, it is gently climactic. And everyone and their dog is analyzing everybody's feelings, except the bad guys. That's actually what sets bad and good guys apart in Austen stories, the bad guys never analyze, they just gossip and tend to their own urges without a second thought. And they are swift, their decisions are always very swift, have you noticed that when reading or watching Austen?

Austen's stories always divide people by certain lines, the women for instance, are mostly young with flowing hair and full cheeks, and then you become a matron with one of those white bubbly indoor lady-caps. Children do not count and aren't very interesting in these stories, but the spinsters are, even though there are very few of them and they eventually also get married in the end. The spinsters however, are always portrayed in a thoughtful and many layered way..lingering around thirty, having made many sacrifices and had such abundance of time to think and analyze what went wrong, why and in what way.
The men can be interesting too, except that they are not vulnerable to age in the same way as the women are. They too, often carry lots of emotional baggage with them which is not explained or revealed until pretty far into the novel, which in retrospect explains why they were odd or rude or whathaveyou.

I don't know why I came back to Jane Austen today. It's been a few years I suppose, and I have piles of new, interesting stuff to read or watch, but Austen it was. I've been quite a bit under the weather the whole week, which hasn't been easy while hiking with kids in the foothills.
It was also enlightening to quest-lead a group that was fairly functional and talented, it taught me that in spite of that, I'm still not sure this job is for me in the long run.

There are so many things I should like with the work, and I do truly respect and like the vision of the company...but in the end I'm left feeling pretty hollow and hesitant.

I can do the acting, I can do the paperwork (and lord knows there is plenty), I can do the camp leader bossy thing, I can do the security thing, I can do the physical thing, I can do the role playing rules, I like kids in general...but in the end...I dunnow.

I'm trying to figure it out, maybe the simple truth is that I'm a sissy or something.
One thing that struck me as interesting the other day though, was that I find the pauses in the job, the hardest to endure. The times where I have to pretend camp spirit, where I feel I should be peppy and energetic with kids and adults while not quest leading. It made me understand why I find acting on the stage easier than this.

We'll see what happens. This post is unfocused and maudlin and truly makes me nostalgic for the old days of LJ..when I felt I could write these without shame. Still, for the love of LJ, which I will never leave, unless it's shut down for apocalyptic reasons, I'll start posting in F minor again in this shack.
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This time of year I miss Sweden and Uppsala in particular. On the last night of April they light the bonfire over there and sing songs to welcome spring. Regardless of this particular night, I miss the old mounds and my walking paths around there.
2 years ago I wrote a poem inspired by the place, and just felt like editing it, so I did. Feel free to ignore.

uppsala old mounds
The Old Mounds

These relaxed hills could fool you now
But time was when bearded men hung horses
From the oaks and the vale was brimming
with boats crossing for the graves of nobility,
the Viking queen’s chest filled with beaten silver
paid for the stone saints looking down
on wanderers from the eastern mound.

There is a birch glade on the lower grounds
where midsummer and midwinter curious
things happen. Once at 4 a.m. this badger
caught me by surprise – a wild animal
suddenly forming a human expression
he turned on me but I bridled him
with his name and saddled him with mine
swinging a thistle whip

we took a ride down the runestone road
where the Walpurgis bonfire is lit.
By the blackwood stave temple
we stopped to look
at the church-verger's collapsing shack
an abandoned servant’s
solstice offering
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My current feelings about certain broad popular cultural or even broad popular sub-cultural excretions are so filled with asperity, I'd probably do best to just eschew it all for a while.
It's clearly not healthy when I have more cynical thoughts about the fast & bi-curious than the average film reviewer who gets payed for flashing his acid reflux syndrome on page.

I'm not going to bore anyone with any film reviews, but what the hell is up with these two old corpses that suddenly have been re-vamped and polished up to appear in every other movie production:

1) The female hetero sexual alibi.

Wikisealia: A female character in a movie whose only purpose of existence is to ensure the predominate male viewership that the two male characters in charge of the storyline, are not boinking or wanting to boink each other, in spite of having all the tension, all the meaningful glances, all the punch-filled juicy comments between each other.

This is why slash was born, and these movies deserved slash, but do we really deserve these movies? and does the female sex deserve to so painfully rarely see it happen between two women?

Dudes and Dudettes, I went to see the Fast & Bi-curious because I wanted to see Michelle Rodriguez, she was prominent in the very amusing trailer, and that trailer lead me to believe that she would be having a healthy portion of the cake factor in the movie. I had no other expectation, I promise! AND THEY KILLED HER AFTER 15 MINUTES. Instead: enter two males with clenched jaws ogling each other, and one "sister" who's the hetero sexual alibi.

So not overjoyed.

2) The Omega Geek (who gets the very hott galaxies out of his league girl)

Wikisealia: The Omega Geek is a geek who is not very successful or cute, often not even that talented nor socially skilled, who gets the beauty queen in spite of all these ailments.
What makes the Omega geek unlike other geeks, in real life or on film, is that he is supposed to be impersonating a "nice guy" but no evidence of his niceness is ever provided in the story. He is however a complete pushover and continues to be so as the storyline unravels. In the universal Wikisealia Nice Guy 101 it is revealed that a primary and common trait for a truly nice guy, is that he doesn't completely judge girls by their looks, he is in fact capable of feeling interest for a girl who isn't a beauty queen and perhaps even (gasp) primarily look to personality chemistry and secondarily to looks when it comes to socializing. This doesn't mean that a nice guy primarily looks for ugly chicks, it just means that he converses with any chick that is a nice chick, whether she is ugly, plain or pretty.
The Omega Geek, per definition doesn't look at ugly or plain chicks, his glance is always to the ûber-beauty, and by sheer audacity he wins the lottery over those alpha and beta males who also only look at the juiciest rack.

A supplemental category to the Omega geek is sometimes the "faux plain girl". This is a girl who is played by an actress, physically much more attractive than the lead playing the Omega Geek, but the story and everybody in it treats her as if she's plain, and thus she is modeled to fit the storyline, in spite of what the audiences eyes tells them.
However, in such recent examples as Nick and Norah's infinite playlist, Hollywood has dropped even the slightest pretense of plainifying the actress and just put together an outright gorgeous woman with an omega geek.

Okay, we all need to dream, but why the fuckety-fuck does it always have to be a male dream?
Has anyone seen an even mildly mundane looking woman put together with an attractive male on film? And don't start with that big fat greek wedding. She was actually attractive, just in a human way, and the guy was perhaps with some good will a tiny bit more attractive if you're into that sort of bloke, anyway, NOT COMPARABLE. And YES, Ellen Page is a "faux plain Jane". She is in reality an actress who's low key pretty instead of outright gorgeous. But she is, beyond doubt pretty to the point where she could do some modeling if she wanted.

Look, I managed to b-b-bore you without any film reviews!

Also, I finally decided to read Cassandra Clare's "City of Bones". I was in a benevolent mood, thinking to myself "hey, she supposedly wrote some good slash in her day, and even if I'm not that into most slash, because they write women so craptastically in it, I DID find the "Very Secret Pervy Hobbit Fancier Diaries" mildly amusing back in the day, even though I'm also irritated that so few know that Cassandra Clare, previously Cassandra Claire, actually based the whole language and idea of those writings on the mildly amusing and decently original best selling idea of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary. In fact, had I known that the main bulk of Cassandra Claire's/Clare's best writings on the internet were pastiches of other published and famous peoples' writings, I might not have even tried to read the first installment of her "Mortal Instruments".

I do read a lot of YA books, and I've read some good and some bad ones, and there really are some fantastic writers in the YA field, so it pisses me off that such a tenuous writer as Cassandra Clare gets such a hype. The only thing that book had going was that it was an easy read. The ideas have all, with no exception been used before by better writers, and that's actually fairly okay, because in YA urban fantasy people re-hash ideas all the time, BUT, they don't try to pass them off as unique. What surprised me the most is perhaps the mediocrity of the language and how boring the characters were. All the people in the book are shallow, surface oriented sketched stereotypes, most of them are of course pretty or attractive, and the writer makes you never forget it through oversaturated descriptions. The plot, of course, is weak, since the whole point of the book(s) seems to be to describe very attractive semi-supernatural people.

I probably deserve to be disappointed because of my starry eyed hope in a person who got famous through LJ to be a really good writer, but there it is.
There probably is some truth to the back-rubbing rumor of the Sci-fi/Fantasy writing community, and it is unfortunately true that so much of it is not up to par with good writing. That doesn't mean that there isn't some really good writing in the genre, but it does mean that plenty of the writing around is not half as good as the people themselves think...and I guess RaceFail 09 on Livejournal taught us who followed it even a little, just that.

I've refrained from writing about my life and what's happening in it for a while, because I've grown superstitious with age. There are 3 things in the air, one is writing oriented (and so so very early in its phase, it really does disqualify from mentioning even), the other is job oriented and fairly minor, the third is educational and medium sized. Every single one of these three may backfire in my face any day now, and that's why I'm not writing about it yet, even though I have the urge.
I probably will write about it later, either to moan or to cavort. Sorry for being Ms. Vague McVaguerson for now.
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The Naked Crisp Bread Dance can be read about in English here and viewed below. Things I particularly love: the thick dialects the guys sport, the music medley they dance to, that the judges all voted "yes", that they use genuine crisp bread rounds from the north of Sweden and that the audience chanted "ONE MORE TIME" in Swedish after the dance.

I miss home...

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