Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My point, exactly

Dear Marc, today I was walking around a big department store with A. We even saw a personal shopper and his most recent protege. The person who had money but lacked style looked like he was really in need of help. His upper and lower body had their own individual style and proportions. Skinny, skinny legs clad in too-short, colourful trousers, while the upperbody was dressed in a classic, graphite suit jacket. The neck was so thick, it seemed to belong to a different person altogether.

We tried not to stare, but couldn't help it. Anders summed it up best as he concluded:
"Ah, yet another fashion Frankenstein. Body parts and styles from different people brought together on one body, fighting to stay alive."

I know I shouldn't laugh at the fashion Frankensteins of the world. As we laughed at the man, I myself had 3-4 cold sores, my hair was dyed more than a few shades too dark and I was only wearing promotional clothes given to me by others. My glasses are old and tired and I wasn't wearing any makeup. Besides, there was baby snot and a little mashed banana on my jeans. So I should not really be passing judgment on others. But nobody's perfect.

Must go pack more boxes, we're moving on Friday.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Welcome to the dollhouse

Dear Marc, I just wanted to share this picture with you. It's a window display from an undertaker downtown.

This display has been around for a while, in one of the more expensive parts of Stockholm. I wish I could have been there for the discussions leading up to the interesting arrangement:

"Let's take a dollhouse and cut it in half!"
"Yeah! And let the fat code of laws fall in between!"
"Sure thing, and then we can add a note, discretlely asking "Has there been a change in your family situation?".

Is that how it happened? I don't have a clue. But every time I pass the undertaker, I stop and stare.

now must sleep and dream of chain saws.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Time to put that foot down

Dear Marc, did you ever decorate a house together with someone you love (or at least live together with)? It's not easy. With two people involved, it often happens that one decorator takes an underdog position. The generous martyr.

"No, you go ahead pick the colour of the bathroom tiles. I love white, but yes it's such a predictable choice and yes it's like a hospital and yes, lime and orange are great, happy colours to enjoy while taking a shower."

Meanwhile, the other person, the lucky decorator in command, need not always feel so happy about his task, but rather feels burden by the repsonsibility of making a decision that may be criticized for years.

So instead of one person making an active choice, neither gets his or her way. You get classic white tiles with a lime border. Nobody wins. Everyone's grumpy yet stoic.

I'm talking to my friend Karin. She's telling me she's been taking a humble position as she and her husband are decorating (such a silly word, we're not putting up garlands) their new house.

I talk to her on the phone. She says:
"You know E, I've let him make the choices so many times now. I didn't even understand how much this upset me until the other day, when I suddenly cried out "now it's my turn to decide!", with enough strength behind my words to let him understand how important this was to me. "

Turns out she was fighting for her right to pick out the right kind of toilet paper holder.

time to call it a night, I'm taking a yoga class at 7 am tomorrow. I'm the last person in the western world to try yoga. I'm not doing it for health or strength. I'm doing it cause I can't stand the curiosity any longer. Must find out what everyone is talking about.

ps. That's not my friends in that top picture. That couple is staged. No two people get along that great while picking colours for their new joint home.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I heart the Tudor Banana

Dear Marc, don't you just love the internet?
How else would we get to read about the first banana in England?
And how else would we find out that back in the 1500's, people were not always in it for an entire banana. Nothing changes. Sometimes, you just feel like a bite, no more, no less.

Read the whole story. Then tell me about your favourite historic fruit. Or should I make it herb? Technically, the banana is an herb, no? People always correct me on my bananiana.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

These chairs were made for walking

Dear Marc, can't sleep. Instead, am apparently burning the midnight oil surfing red fibreglass chairs. How puzzling this sentence would have been if shown to someone living in the age of those very chairs. But in our modern era, I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about.

This is what I've come across:

Aren't they lovely? Such character! They look like they might take off before the night is over.
If I could only afford them, I'd keep them in our new garden, tied to the wall so I'd be sure to find them in the same place I left them.

Are you burning the midnight oil too? Is it a sustainable resource?


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Release the deer

Dear Marc, this is a long letter. Brace yourself. Here we go. I know that you know that in moments of weakness, I turn to Fletch for support. But Fletch is not the only Chevy Chase vehicle that has made a profound impact on my life. Funny Farm may have an even stronger place in my heart. It’s not a better movie. But it’s ok, and the girl from "If tomorrow comes" plays Chevy’s wife so you know the entertainment will be enjoyed by all.

I’ve been thinking about this movie a lot lately. After we bought our house, I’ve been struck by heavy bratnophobia – a well founded fear of spoiled kids with greasy yet clean hair, pastel shirts and ironed jeans.

They grow up to be like Zack in the documentary "Wedding Crashers".

In order to fight the snobs, I’m trying to get all my friends to move out to the wealthy suburb with me. Since so much is at stake, we try to provide the right atmosphere as soon as we get a friend to leave the city to come see our new surroundings.

This weekend was no exception. On Sunday, our friends came out to play with their kids. The suburb seemed to have heard my prayers. The sky was blue, the snow a pristine, glittering white, the children were happy and healthy people were putting on their cross country skis right by their houses before heading for the woods.

There was just one problem. It was all just a little too perfect. The whole suburb scene seemed staged.

All I could think was ”release the deer”.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Funny Farm, so I’ll keep writing as if you haven’t. Chevy and the girl from "If tomorrow comes" have bought their dream house, which in reality turns out to be a real nightmare. To get rid of it, they make everything picture perfect, including trapping and releasing a deer at the right, picturesque moment.

In the movie, this works. The deer seals the deal. In my life, not so. People get suspicious when everything’s too dandy. Better if there’s just a tiny crack in the facade. Like a bitter punk rocker, a crazy neighbor or a sewage leak in the neighborhood. But no such luck this Sunday. So now we’ll have to spend the rest of our lives out there, without the pleasant company of our previous friends.

So the next time you’re thinking of impressing someone, don’t release a deer or two. Keep it on a leash in your living room. Perfect is too weird. Even worse, it’s the perfect breeding ground for brats.

I’ll put out traps set with champagne and caviar. Good night
-your E

Monday, January 23, 2006

Love in a cold climate

Dear Marc, feel the love. It's like icing on the cake.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A world of saunas

Dear Marc, did you know there are sauna rafts in Sweden? You can rent your own floating sauna and tuff around the beautiful archipelago of Stockholm. Load up with beer and barbecue and enjoy the starry sky above. What could be better?

Now that we're on the topic of saunas, let me show you a few pictures from the fascinating world of sauna ads. Many homes here have their own saunas. We like to sweat, naked, in the company of others. The sauna-selling market is big and profitable. But everything has its price. For the sauna sellers it is this tricky question: How do you picture naked, sweaty people without offending anyone?

The result is interesting. Take the picture above. Two naked men, engaged in conversation, wrapped in mist. They're almost there. A mirage of sauna pleasures.

Here's another one:

This one is tasteful, don't you think? The sauna lover is decent in terry cloth, leaning against wood, perhaps about to be gazing out at the lovely Nordic summer night. But why is she holding a brush of leaves? I'm telling you the truth now: it's there so she can spank herself. Ask any Scandinavian. Beating yourself up with leaves is tradition. Birchleaves are preferrable as they make for the best spanking. I don't know if this is a flagellant remnant of ancient times. Perhaps they bear witness of a time when you had to pay in Christian pain for the pagan pleasure of a great sauna.
What do I know?

Here's what that looks like, from a different sauna retailer:

Must go. Tomorrow perhaps we can discuss the wonderful world of home spas? Lots of pictures of jolly, middleaged people with drinks all around them.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Gazebo effect

Dear Marc, do you remember Gazebo? Didn't you find the singer so handsome, his hit song "I like Chopin" so great? I was young. I didn't quite get the lyrics. Now that I read them over again, I still don't. Do you get this?
Remember that piano
So delightful unusual
That classic sensation
Sentimental confusion

Used to say
I like Chopin
Love me now and again

Rainy days never say goodbye
To desire when we are together
Rainy days growing in your eyes
Tell me where's my way

Imagine your face
In a sunshine reflection
A vision of blue skies
Forever distractions



Rainy days growing in your eyes
Tell me where's my way

Forever distractions, indeed.

I loved that song. I had no money of my own.
Or almost no money, and my brother's birthday was coming up.
So I did what all people do at so many points in our lives:
I bought a gift for my brother that we both knew was really
a gift for myself with the added benefit of gift-giving credit.

Since, this phenomenon goes by the name of a Gazebo in our family.
That Entourage box I bought for A for X-mas? Gazebo.
The Penguin masterpiece he got for me? Gazebo.

What's your most recent Gazebo? Who was it for?
Your secrets are safe with me, promise!

That classic sensation
Sentimental confusion

But would you promise?

Dear Marc, what a great shirt you've designed for HRC. I will gladly buy at least one, especially if you promise that 50 cents of my 38 dollar shirt will go straight to the girl modelling the garment. She looks so wonderfully gloomy.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What was I thinking, part 3

Dear Marc, here's the first in a series of questionable buys. I have bought scents because of pretty ads more than once. Not even those with scent strips. Just scents. Like Allure. Those ads were so great. So "I'm every woman". I almost even bought that horrible Sicily scent cause Ms Bellucci looked so great in the ads. Once I thought I was a Gucci Rush kind of girl. I was not. It smelled like mildew on me.

For a few days, I put mildew scent on me, just cause it was too expensive to throw away.
It was not worth it. I'm thrifty, but I'm not an idiot. At least not a chronic one.

The bottle above was yet another mistake. I love the packaging, but will never use the scent. It's called "tea", but in reality it smells like flat, lukewarm rootbeer. Not he kind of stuff you'd dream of rubbing all over a newly showered body. Unless you wanted to repeat the shower experience right away.

Perhaps this series of mistake buys should really be called "people I admire".

People I admire:
The art directors of Philosophy realizing my idiot potential.

What purchase makes you question your sanity?


Monday, January 16, 2006

Hair! Part 2.

Dear Marc, know what I saw today on the subway? An old man, with bushy eyebrows. In fact, his brows were so bushy, they were like trees to regular bushes. The hairs were so long, they did not only reach beyond the frames of the man's glasses. No, they travelled further than that, those curious, adventurous little eye brow hairs. They wanted to go north by northwest, reaching for the top of the man's head, which was unfortunately covered by a hat.

The effect was striking. It looked like the man had bushy, grey, bangs.

At what point do old people let themselves go? Or do you think he keeps them like so, on purpose? At what point in life do eyebrow hairs suddenly grow to three times the length of what they have ever been before?

Do you have bushy eyebrows? Would you like to? So many questions, so little time .

I wish I had had the courage to snap a pic of the man. I chickened out since the eyebrows told their own story about the man's integrity.

I'm the tweezer happy love child of Groucho Marx and Frida Kahlo.
I pluck. All the time. I was once told, in 5th grade and at my most vulnerable stage, that my bushy eyebrows were my most distinguishing feature. Perhaps this is why I care so much about other people's eyebrows. I obsess. I admit to having looked down my baby's crib, thinking "wouldn't that kid look better with plucked brows?". I have never gone that far. But I have thought the thought. So kill me.

Speaking of hair, Vanja and I got ours cut today. She now looks like kids that make me think "why did that kid's parents do that to the poor child?". She looks like she's wearing a small wig, pulled too far back at the neck. Her bangs are ridiculously short.

The hairdresser was so nice I almost liked the cut at first. But now that I'm home, I can't wait for her hair to grow out again. Which I know it will, since I always cut her bangs too short by mistake myself.

My own new hair looks good enough to me. A thought I looked so different he started laughing when he saw me. He saw me through his fingers. I'm a positive person and am trying to figure out exactly how this was a compliment. I'm not quite there yet.

Attaching a picture of the only member of our household who is not waiting for his hair to grow longer. He just couldn't care less.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Today was such a good day

Dear Marc, don't you just love it when something you NEVER EVER thought would happen suddenly happens to you?

That happened to me today. A lady in the supermarket turns to me and says (without the slightest hint of sarcasm in her voice):"since you're so tall, would you mind helping me reach the bay leaves up there on the shelf?."

Anyone who knows me will look at me with disbelief when I tell this story.
But you don't so I can happily continue.
I'm a very small person. I'm the size of an average child. I'm the size of those extinct people found on the island of Flores in Indonesia. There's a reason they're extinct. People my size have to watch out, we're easily squashed by bigger people walking by. Who won't even notice the squashing.

Anyways, this lovely person of average height, asked me for help.
In my joy and excitement, I stretched out for humanity and managed to touch the base of the bay leaf packages in such a successful way that two packages tumbled to the floor.

I gave them to the lady and sang all the way home. What unexpected queries for help did you receive today?

Tall greetings

ps. Attaching pic of me and other small people (pic snapped today). If the children were standing up, you would see that we're all the same height.

Fresh fruit, pine trees...

....veggies and Cuban cigars. What else could anyone ask for?

Friday, January 13, 2006

In love with lamp

Dear Marc, did you ever see such a great lamp? I love it. Found it here.

More Neigbor talk

Dear Marc, is this from NYT or The Onion?You be the judge!


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Shy in the shower

Dear Marc, are you into manners? I mean, do you know how to behave in better surroundings? I don’t really know what I mean by better, I guess what I’m asking for is: do you dance the dance rich people dance?

Do you use the right forks, knives and glasses? Do you squeeze out a tear at the right moment at the opera? Do you remember titles and act appropriately at all times?

Most importantly, do you know exactly when to great thy neighbor?

I have the following tricky question of manners for you:

Post-exercise at the gym, you run into your neighbor in the common shower room. Do you avert your eyes or do you say hello?

This happened to me not so long ago. I averted my eyes and thought of a biblical story I never liked. You know, when Noah got himself into a drunken stupor and his sons walked backwards into the tent to cover him up. And somehow I think even that was wrong. I always thought that was so unfair. But in the gym shower, it made sense to pretend that what we were nakedly experiencing was not really happening at all.

Was that correct? Or was I rude by ignoring my neighbor’s dripping presence?

As a celebrity, perhaps you don’t frequent gyms and never experience dilemmas like this.

But I’m sure you have some queries about etiquette like the rest of us.
I told you mine, now tell me yours.

Clean, just showered greetings

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Dear Marc, know that Patek Philippe ad? The "You never actually own a Patek Philippe watch, you merely look after it for the next generation." That's how I feel about my hair. "You never actually own your hair, you merely look after it for your hair dresser."

Every time I see my hair dresser, the apologies begin. Too much time in the sun, salt water, nursing, using the wrong products, the wrong kind of ponytail holder, blow drying and eating and drinking wrong. My hair dresser listens. Then sighs. Then adds he will do his best, but he can't promise anything.

My current hair dresser is the best I'll ever have, so I feel ok with borrowing my hair from him. It's so intimate, the relationship with your hair dresser. Who does your hair?

One time, leaving a different hair dresser, I was not happy. I looked silly. But I didn't dare fix my hair in the salon, too afraid to hurt the hair dresser's feelings. I went outside and tried to style my hair in the reflection of a window. Meanwhile, someone pick pocketed this vain coward. My vanity cost me my newly cashed paycheck and a new wallet.

The police report states "Guner lost her wallet, standing in the street, looking in a mirror. Guner does not know what happened".

I have so many police reports of that kind. They paint the picture of a mindless fool. "Guner lost her bag. Guner does not know where or how it happened." "Guner left her wallet on the bar desk".

Now Guner has forgotten the laundry and must go take care of that.

ps. Wouldn't you love to have a heirloom hairpiece?
"Great hair, Marc!"
"Oh thanks, but it's not mine. I simply look after it for the next generation. And for my hair dresser."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Speaking of roosters...

Dear Marc, just wanted to share this.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Looking at me looking at you looking at me

Dear Marc, here's a link to a Swedish article about this blog.
Yes, a link out that links back here.
It's like looking in that neck mirror at the hair dresser's.
A mirror that you look at in a mirror.
A visual boomerang.


Romantic Roosters and little old ladies

Dear Marc, did you ever see such a playful osteopath? Is she celebrating that Christmas is here or that it's over? Here, we're celebrating ourselves. The smell of cookies is still fresh, lingering in the air. We used cookie cutters in the shapes of hearts and roosters.

After using mostly hearts, Vanja looks down and declares: Look mom, it's a sea of love.
Then she put rooster shapes in the hearts.

"Those roosters are getting married."

We're writing letters to my grandmother. She's turning 90 this year. I have to thank her for the movie vouchers she sent for Christmas.

She does so every year. I write the thankyou note just as often.
How boring, you may think, but one year it was not so dull.

It was back in -01.
That year she was ill, spending Christmas in a hospital. I decided to dress up the thank you note with chocolate and precious tea. The little note was transformed into a bulky envelope. I was late for work and simply penned grandma's address on the package and put it in the mail.

She didn't call. How ungrateful. Especially for a lady of her generation, the essence of gratefulness.

After a while, I called her, having spent a lot of money on that chocolate.

Grandma is clue less. She doesn't know what package I'm talking about. Then, all of a sudden she comes out of the fog:

-"OH that package! The one that smells so good in the closet? That was from you? But you didn't put your name on it."

-"No, I was short of time and.."
-"You really should have. In those times, you should have. I'm already ill. Anthrax would not have helped it any".

Anthrax. How could I forget? So perfect for terrorists targeting presidents, US residents and little old ladies in the Swedish countryside.

Need not be afraid Marc, the letters I send contain only friendly writing. And sometimes, if you're lucky, chocolate and tea.

-your e.

Friday, January 06, 2006

P & P

Dear Marc, yesterday I went to see Pride & Prejudice. Have spent all day today reading reviews. Seems everyone has something to say on the matter. All I have to say is that it is a very bold team that dare make a new version of the story.

It's not an easy territory. Every girl, woman, lady or lass and a guy or two has their own firm belief of how the classic should be portrayed.

Would any guy dare do a remake of The Godfather? Scarface? How come guys don't stand in line to see the 5th rendering of "On the road".

I don't know.

But I loved it. I'll take any P&P. I'll take B&P too, and all India-bound Austen-lovers know what I mean. I'm not picky.

The tender moments that so offend some orthodox Janeites moved me to tears.

That moment has it's only current equal in another of last year's hit movies.

Must go to bed.
Penguin dreams


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Drummer in the dark

Dear Marc, did you ever play an instrument? Did you ever play in a band? Perhaps you were a spoiled kid like I was. Perhaps you also had a trampoline, a knitting machine and a drumset in your room as a teenager? There was no reason to ever leave home.

But finally, I did and moved to Ohio. I left the trampoline and knitting machine behind, but brought my poor drumming skills with me. I loved playing the drums. So much fun and even better when nothing's fun. I know no better anger management than taking it out on the skins.

I was not a great drummer. No one ever told me there are muscles involved in drumming. To keep a steady bass drum beat, you need strong muscles on the back of your shin bones. I don't know the name of that muscle. I doubt I even have that muscle.

Back home in Stockholm, I had formed a band with my friends. We were The Femmes Pickadolls. We were 17 and dressed in wife beaters, our hair greased to perfection. Our singer, Mona Monroe, was a genius at writing lyrics. Too bad the drumming skills of Emi Gun made all our songs vary in tempo. As soon as lactic acid hit below the knee, our music began to drag.

I worked out to strengthen my poor muscles. I looked for a lady drum pedal. Nothing worked. In Ohio, I took drumming classes to improve my beats.

Aside from the muscle secret, there's another thing no one ever tells you about drumming. You look like an idiot when playing the drums. The double, yet individual motion of hands and feet has an interesting effect on the face. The eyes stare, nostrils flare and the mouth is left wide open. Sometimes, the holy drool of effort seeps out of the corner of your mouth. Meanwhile, sweat drips down all over your body, especially if you're on stage, where you're the only one who can't move away from the bright lights.

Back in Ohio, I kept drumming. And like college students often do, I fell in love. He was 20, and looked lovely with his dark hair, baggy pants and worn hat with white accents that may very well have been bird droppings. He was that kind of the lazy kind.

He heard about the drumming. He wanted to see it for himself. I was weak in the knees. Couldn't say no to his request, but at the same time, I found it impossible to let him see my cretinous look.

And this is how I know that two young people met up in a small rehearsal room in Ohio in early 1992. The girl then promised to play the drums for the boy if he turned out the lights. And he did and I played, cause I am the drummer in the dark.

Thinking back, this may very well be one of my life's most scary, nervous and romantic moments. Since it was so dark, I had no way of finding out if he shared my sentiment. Later on, it was obvious that he did not. But at least I knew that it wasn't my drum face that spoiled my chances.

It is my fate in life to woo the unwooable.

ps. That picture is from drumbum. They have greeting cards for all the drummers in your life.

Overheard in Stockholm

Dear Marc, don't you just love Overheard in NY? I really do. I love eavesdropping in general. Walking with a stroller is such a great excuse to listen in on other people's conversations. Nobody thinks you're listening, they think you're focused on the baby. What's to focus on when the baby's sleeping?

The other day, I overheard this puzzling snippet:

-It was a dead man.
-A dead man?
-No a dead donkey.

I still wonder what information came before and after the very moment I caught. What was the build up for the confusion between man and donkey? Why were they dead?

What did you overhear today?
Curious greetings

ps. This season is the worst though, eavesdropping wise. Earflaps make it impossible to hear the important musings of strangers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It sucks

Dear Marc, what's your favorite snack? I think mine may very well be the Swedish delicacy known as the Dammsugare. It's a cute little thing, in wonderful green and chocolate brown. They say it's made from leftovers in the bakery, who knows.

Dammsugare translates to vacuum cleaner and as you can tell from this picture, the resemblance is there, although it's far from overwhelming.

I often dream of dressing as my favorite snack, with brown shoes, green dress and a brown hat. But as favorite day dreams are best left unrealized, I have refrained from dressing up like a pastry. Right now, however, dressed in brown velvet I feel I look every bit like the piece of chocolate my daughter likened me to this morning.

I wonder what your favorite food is and if you ever tried to dress like it. Perhaps you were really trying to tell us something with that pig outfit. I think you would also look great as a steak sandwich.

I wish more people dressed like their favorite food. Such a nifty conversation starter. "I can't believe you're also mad about Tripes!" Beats message t-shirts anyday.

I have purchased more than one dress in that perfect Dammsugare nuance, as a tribute to cleaning's best friend. We should all treat our vacuumers well. At least better than my dad, who once tried cleaning out the coals of our open fire. They were all burned out, or at least he thought so until he had started a fire in the belly of our household appliance. Turns out the coals picked up the oxygen from the air sucked in from vacuuming.

Don't try this at home.

ps. Attaching a picture of Dammsugare in their natural habitat. Hunt them down with a fork.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Last day of the year

Dear Marc, how did you spend the last day of 2005? We played in the backyard. I let the children do the pulling. They have to learn the value of hard work. They want fame. Well fame costs. And right here is where they start paying. In sweat.

Joel found a friendly man with vegetable features. This time, it was not my dad.
We played until we got hungry. Then went inside and had some lunch. Vanja was careful not to let anything go unnoticed on her plate.

After lunch, we got dressed in white coats with fur lining. Yes, I am wearing that coat.

(am also wearing trendy baby fashion accessory inspired by angelina jolie)

then we went to the new year's party. have not checked with other guests if they want to be included in mail to you. so use your imagination and this secret pic to get the feeling. The soundtrack reminded us that we were the young Americans.

Am sure I'm not hurting the table's feelings. It was so pretty

Later, things were less pretty, but still interesting.

By then , young and old had already kicked off their golden shoes. I think you may recognize some of them.

There was dancing and romancing and later, cold weather prancing.
We couldn't get a cab so we bundled Vanja up like a civil war vet and pulled her home on a plastic toboggan.

It's cold, but we're off to India in a month. Have you been there? Any travel suggestions? We'll be on a budget. Happy new year

remember my name.