Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Here ye! Here ye!

April 1, 2009

This weekend as my friend was barbecuing us some pork chops, he said, “Did you hear those reports on the radio about the pigs they were killing while they were still alive?” My first thought – which I kept to myself, because I try not to be an ass – was, “How else would you kill a pig?”

OK, maybe I did say this, because he responded with, “I mean, they were butchering them while they were still alive.” I told him I had not heard this, and he said it had been all over the news for days. We agreed it was a horrible thing.

Then yesterday morning a friend told me over coffee about how this major Swedish chicken company was recalling thousands of tons of frozen chickens because they had discovered crushed glass in them. My friend said they suspected sabotage from animal rights groups. I had not heard this either.

About a week ago I did actually try to watch the Swedish evening news, but it felt so old-fashioned, like I was watching a town crier. I thought, “You mean, I just have to sit here while this guy stands there and talks the news at me? I can’t skip ahead or click on that interesting link about 10 Things to Never Say at a Job Interview?” He lasted about five minutes.

It wouldn’t really hurt me to know more about what is going on in the world. I’ve begun to realize that there is a tiny information gap in getting all my news from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and skimming the micro headlines of Yahoo! News when I log out of my account. Not that I don’t enjoy hearing pigs scream, or eating glass, but I don’t want to look like a doofus in front of my friends, do I?

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Taking full responsibility

March 31, 2009

This morning I was lifting a sweater off a kitchen chair, and knocked a glass to the floor and broke it. My son called out in Swedish from the bedroom, “I’m sorry!” I said, “No, I broke it, it’s not your fault.” Then he was standing next to me there in the kitchen, saying, “No, both of us! Both!” I let him take the blame along with me. It was easier that way.

At preschool I lifted him out of his stroller, and he was immediately surrounded by three boys who pulled him into a huddle and clapped him on the back like he had just scored a goal. Then these  munchins in snowsuits ran off for the far side of the playground, their faces smiling and arms flapping.

Spring is here today. Spring in Sweden comes like an abusive spouse bearing chocolates and roses. I cower at all this sunshine, wanting to be glad for it, but not trusting it. This Swedish part of my brain, this part I do not want, tells me that by the time I finally do start trusting the weather, in July or August, it will change on me again. Today I will try to find my inner Californian, the one so sure about the sun. He’s much better to be around.

Ode to my broken toes

October 23, 2008

A few entries ago I reported to you that this summer I broke one of my pinky toes. In fact, I was not entirely forthcoming with you: this summer I broke both of my pinky toes during the same week. How did it happen? It was the classic recipe for pinky toe injuries:

Step 1: Put a man who has been living in Sweden for ten years back in California.
Step 2: Have him wear flip flops that are too small for his feet, causing his pinky toes to hang out over the edges.
Step 3: Have this same man place his luggage right near his bedroom door, so whenever he enters or exits the room he either has to turn his body to the side or walk straight ahead, catch a pinky toe on the luggage, and break it.

Note: It would help if the man is particularly lazy, so that once the first pinky toe is broken he won’t think, “I need to move that piece of luggage right away.” No, this is not the kind of man you want. You want the kind of man who says, “Oh my god, that hurt incredibly. I’m going to leave that piece of luggage exactly where it is.” In this way you ensure that the man breaks both toes.

Now you may be asking, “But how did he know they were broken?” I knew this because when drying between my toes after a shower, one of the pinky toes moved out perpendicular to the other toes. Which oddly, did not hurt at all – it was just a very disturbing image.

Back in Sweden, I called my local healthcare center to see how they would deal with my broken toes. The nurse on the phone asked me, “Was it the big toe?” I said no, it was not, it was the pinky toes. She said, “Then we do nothing.” Nothing? I suddenly felt like a chimpanzee in a Jane Goodall documentary – one of those old chimpanzees that had fallen from a tree, broken a leg, and was forced to drag itself around on the jungle floor for the rest of its life looking for moldy fruit. Well, that kind of chimpanzee except much more attractive, and with a good set of silverware and a microwave. And legs that work.

But you get my point – modern medicine, in all its splendor and sophistication does nothing for broken toes. Maybe if you whine enough they will put a splint on it for you, but that’s it. I found this all fascinating. What made toes so much less important than fingers? Or are toes simply more hardy than fingers? Perhaps our toes are too far away from our heads for us to really care about them. My pinky toes are like Guam and Puerto Rico – small, distant, and only loosely attached to the United Body of Me.