Americans are often loathe to attack someone on their own side of the political spectrum. It makes sense on one level: If either the Democrat or Republican Party starts criticizing itself, there is potential for losing a united front and committing the greater evil of allowing the enemy to step in during the chaos. Still, I cannot help but think that consistent re-evaluation is a positive practice.
I had a roommate at college – a conservative Christian college – who wrote an opinion piece criticizing several GOP policies. I was the opinions editor of our student paper, and, after listening to one of her passionate political diatribes, I encouraged her to write it out for publication. She got a few (unsurprisingly) negative replies, but the general response was more discouraging: silence. Apathy. It reminds me of an NYT piece I read recently.
So: people who are scared to dialogue, and people who don’t care enough to dialogue. I don’t think a well-rounded person has to have a love for politics; a basic understanding will suffice. But I do think that a well-rounded, thriving individual is someone who engages with the world and with the big questions. And these questions are embedded in politics (as well as religion, philosophy, art, etc.).
On an awesome note, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and founder, has a new fixation: Hunting what he eats. Fair enough though; he’s worth billions – all that money gives him plenty of time to ponder the basic tenets of reality. Where our food comes from.
after all. The trip got canceled and I’m feeling a tad under-travelled for someone who has been living in Europe almost a year. My new goal is to get to Finland and Norway before I leave so that I can have a fuller sense of Scandinavia. Yesterday I was asked for advice by an American college student who is visiting Stockholm for a few days. This has caused me to reflect on what I’ve actually learned about Stockholm while living here. (Most of my comments will be relative to the States.)
I’m purposefully confining this to Stockholm, because from what I understand it is a culture unto itself. In the same way that you can’t visit DC and project its vibe onto the entire US, you can’t visit Stockholm and make assertions about Sweden. Still, to continue the analogy, there are plenty of similarities that do unite them to the rest of the country. The same (occasionally odd) traditions and holidays. The same (apparently?) obsession with ice hockey.
Holidays/Traditions are different here. For Christmas, all of Sweden tunes into old Disney Donald Duck cartoons. For Easter, children dress up as witches. And they have their own, distinctly unAmerican, holidays like Lucia and
The winter is endless, dark, and life-sucking. Over half the year is consumed with bitterly cold temperatures and dishearteningly little daylight. I came to the conclusion that Sweden really wasn’t meant to be inhabited by people. Sweden is #18 on WHO’s (World Health Organization) list of suicide rates by country. 18 out of 106 isn’t a great rank to begin with, but when taking into consideration the modernity, cleanliness, and high quality of life, the rank is even more jarring. That said…
The summer is fabulously wonderful. Summer in Stockholm is beautiful beyond reason. For a capital city it is remarkably natural and clean.
Best thing about Sweden: Kanelbullar. My friend Sanna helped us make these.
Swedish people are reserved – except on weekend nights when they get smashed. If you are sober on a Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun night, the Tunnelbanan (metro) might not be an enjoyable experience. Generally speaking though, they’re a nice lot; patriotic, fond of children and pets and order. Obsessed with fair queues; many places that have lines also have a number to pick (like at US DMVs) even if there are only three people in the store.
are the names of my new students. “What kind of name is My?” you ask, after wondering why anyone would name their child Thor. A Swedish one, apparently. At least that’s what the kids told me after I obstinately insisted that “My” was not a name and would she please tell me her real one. Oops.
But I have no regrets for my lack of civility – these children were little banshee devils. And I say that as a person who has dealt with my share of wild children. Of course it might not have been entirely their fault – the school stuck us in a room that was filled with music equipment, and really what 8-year-old boy wouldn’t glue himself to the giant drumset with the neverending supply of sticks? Still, the shouting, cursing (their limited English consists of some colorful phrases.), and general shenanigans were over the top. Dear Cee Lo, thanks for my new appreciation for the FCC. love, Siobhan
In other news, I’ve continued with my fortune teller lessons. We made them in class on Monday. Unfortunately, the class happened to consist of a lot of kids who like to speak English but hate writing it. One of them refused to write in fortunes, which meant that all of them decided to join the strike – except little Hannah who wrote hers in Swedish. So…what is a fortune teller without fortunes inside? A little creature that eats paper. Apparently. I tried to get them to use their creatures to talk to each other in English. Fail.
Finally I convinced them to write one fortune each. I gave them the example of “You will get run over by elephants.” They found this amusing, but Tristan had a better, simpler idea. “You will die!”
“Everyone will die, Tristan. That’s not an interesting fortune.”
“Hahahhahahhahahha!” (he likes to laugh.)
Naturally, he went above and beyond and wrote his deadly prediction in all of the fortune slots. “Die!” I’m pretty excited to hear parent feedback on this one.
Here’s an article about the girl who holds the record for the lowest limbo. And here’s the guy with the longest freestyle rap. I would want some quality assurance on that one – I could definitely talk nonsense in a beat for hours on end.
but I’m not a very listy person. Listy people: You know the type – you might even be the type – organized people who like to stay on top of their hectic schedules by creating and completing daily lists. That’s not me. I use lists as
1) a way to keep track of daydreams
2) an excuse to write
3) the means to make little boxes which I can then tick off
4) a way to visually break up visually stale blog posts (while lending them an air of importance)
5) is a good number of things on a list
Some current items on my mental list of things to accomplish during my free time include:
– studying Greek mythology
– compiling a cookbook
– learning two languages (Swedish and Korean)
– studying for the GRE
– editing movie projects
– writing my books
– completing my online TEFL course
– extensively photograph the Stockholm metro system
So really, despite my state of unemployment, I have a lot on my plate. Technically. The reality is I fritter away most of my time with a boy. And when I’m with him I don’t really mind that my list isn’t being worked on. I’d rather sit around and be unproductive together. That’s the funny thing about boys. They tend to trump lists.
Of course when we break up, I’ll be able to throw all of my unproductivity in his face: “It’s because of YOU that I never went to grad school and became a famous author!!!” So it’s a win-win situation. Pleasant now, useful later. And, yes, he loves it when I talk about breaking up.
I would now like to point out that I refrained from posting this in LlamaFont. Verbal affirmation please.