lynne: Your daughter Sabin has an unusual name. Where does it come from and how do you pronounce it?
me: sabin is a twin, born 10 weeks early because i had the first case of listeriosis seen in denmark in 25 years. her twin sister, sophia, was stillborn. sabin, although only 1570 grams, was perfect and fine and healthy, but just very small. we felt she needed a very strong name after such a difficult beginning. so she was named after my paternal grandmother, whose maiden name was sabin. we decided it would work as a beautiful first name and would carry with it the weight of the strength of my amazing grandmother, who lived to be 96 years old and had ten children (not necessarily in that order) and was truly the matriarch of our family. although she didn't live to meet sabin, i know she'd have loved knowing her and would have loved that she had her name.
sabin's middle name is amalie, in case she grew up and didn't feel sabin suited her. amalie is a more common name in denmark. however, she strongly identifies with sabin and wouldn't dream of using something else. i call her all sorts of pet names and she often insists that her name is sabin and i should stop calling her pooka.
and it's pronounced "say-bin" with the stress on the first syllable and a soft i (not e-sound, but also not really a schwa (one of those upsidedown e's you might remember from linguistics and which i can't seem to make blogger produce)).
lynne: What do you feel about long, dark winter days?
the dark winters are something i struggle with living in denmark and something which makes the prospect of norway, which is even darker in the winter, a bit daunting. it might be ok if you had proper snow along with it, but instead, the winter is grey and dreary in addition to dark. it rains more often than it snows and there isn't much snow or even frost. most mornings when i run sabin to school, although it's still pretty dark out around 8 a.m., i don't have to scrape frost off the car.
i remember the first november i spent here, the sun never shined a single time. it rained an annoying cold drizzle the entire, grey, bleak month. that definitely gave me pause as to what i had gotten myself into.
where i grew up in south dakota, you had a proper cold, snowy winter and the winters were dark, but nothing like here. just as an example, chicago is more or less on the same latitude as rome and here in denmark we are more or less on the same latitude as the hudson bay. it's not as cold here due to the gulf stream and the fact of being surrounded by water (i guess that was what we called the lake effect in chicago), but the darkness is similar.
i think it's why the danes have this thing about "hygge," which is translated as "coziness," but which carries far more weight than that word carries in english, at least for me. inherent in it is a combatting of darkness with candlelight and red wine and good food and good design and laughter together with friends in your home. and that feeling wouldn't be the same without the darkness of the winter, so i've come to think that's something i can live with. i just have to be sure that when the sun shines i get out for a walk in it, regardless of how cold it is. we also try to go to the swimming pool on a weekly basis and there they have a "health cabin" with light and warmth treatment where you can spend 20 minutes or so and i've found that really helps.
lynne: What makes you feel most content?
as i'm waiting to start my new job (with the same company i worked for last year), i've actually been thinking a lot about this. because despite the doom and gloom of the newspapers and the television news going on and on about GEC, i actually feel quite content in my life at this moment. if i think about the reasons why, it has a lot to do with the fact of being in a home i love with people i love, surrounded by things i love, getting to do the things i love--cooking, sewing, painting, drawing--all domestic things.
despite spending a number of years chasing a career, i have to admit that many of my moments of contentment come from being in my home. and the moments when i'm most often aware of feeling content are when i'm cooking with ingredients that inspire me or painting the walls a rich color that makes me feel good or sewing up a lap quilt or a pillow.
for me contentment also has to do with being able to spend a number of hours alone nearly every day. despite being seen as an outgoing person and largely being that, i have a great need for time alone to think. i love the quiet of the house around me or of listening to the same album or even the same song over and over. i love letting my thoughts wander as i sew seams. i crave the time to do that and feel most content when i have plenty of alone time.
i guess contentment comes as well from generally feeling that i'm where i should be at this stage in my life. although i didn't finish my Ph.D., because life took me in another direction, i don't regret it. in fact, i don't have a lot of regrets in general. all of the choices i've made and the experiences i've had have brought me to this place and this time where i feel satisfied. and it really does seem to be true that we have to go through bad experiences in order to be stronger and to appreciate the good ones. i know that i am far more content now than i was at this time last year.
on the other hand, contentment is highly subjective and personal, isn't it? and who knows, i might wake up feeling far less content tomorrow because i also know that one of the things that makes me content is change and if things stay the same for too long, i get impatient and restless. i'm likely going to need to have some plane tickets pretty soon if i'm going to maintain this sense of contentment that i have at the moment.
lynne: How important is music in your life? What is your favourite type of music? I notice you write a lot about books your read and about your crafts but seldom mention music.
interesting you ask. music is very important and it's actually rare that i am without music. we have more iPods in this house than i care to admit and seven different speaker sets to plug them into so there can be music anywhere in the house(s). we have henry kloss radios in both of the bathrooms so we can listen to the radio while we're getting ready in the morning.
i've written a few of times about music, and pretty much all of the times i mentioned alanis morissette, who is one of my big favorites and the one i return to again and again to keep my equilibrium and sanity. but largely, i think i don't write about it much because it's something that's always there for me, like air, which i also don't write much about. :-) and i definitely don't have one of those widgets that triggers a playlist when you come to my blog--i have to admit that really bugs me when i come across those on blogs. i'm cool with people TALKING about their music, i just don't really want them to play it for me automatically, mostly because i have my own music playing. plus, i don't know where people are when they're reading my blog, perhaps they're somewhere where it would be really quite inconvenient to have regina spector blasting out of their computer speakers. because my list, if i had it, would have some regina on it.
my musical tastes run from what my sister calls vag rock (by which she means everyone from alanis, regina and sheryl crow to katy perry and lily allen) to chill and house, which i got into on a trip to turkey a few years ago to scissor sisters (might be vag rock too, now that i think about it) to jamiriquoi to nirvana to andrew lloyd weber's evita if i'm in the mood. i got totally into that, even before madonna played evita in the mid-90s and read every biography of eva peron that was published at the time. oh, and i love madonna and have since the beginning.
music was important in our household growing up. i had 9 years of piano lessons and almost as many of the flute. i continued playing the flute into college and although we don't have a piano these days, i do have my flute and should play it more often than i do. we sing a lot around here--with the music that's playing and especially in the car. and especially when my sister is here. sabin loves that.
the only thing i'm not a big fan of is most jazz, tho' some i do like. for me, there is a certain kind of jazz that just agitates me and makes me feel really restless and on edge. that's not what i want music to do for me--i generally use it to clear out emotions and find my balance again or to uplift my spirits and much jazz actually makes me feel the opposite of that.
but alanis, she's there for me every time.
lynne: What really makes you laugh?
husband. he's so funny and always says things that are so unexpected and hilarious. he can burst into a little song or make up a story and he makes me laugh every time. he's ironic and smart and just so funny. we laugh together every day and that's an essential component of my contentment as well.
jon stewart really makes me laugh too. intelligent, biting, satirical humor is the kind that's best for me. mr. bean-style humor doesn't really do it for me--that often just makes me cringe. but give me black adder any day. historically astute, bitingly accurate and just so funny, that's my kind of humor.
being with people i can laugh with, especially in a work setting, is really important to me. one of the things that made me realize i had to leave my job from hell was that i found that i wasn't laughing anymore. for me, laughter is a sign that things are good and if it's absent, i need to pay attention to that. and do something about it.
* * *
well, that was it, i think that was the last one. at least for now. thank you, lynne, for asking me these questions and thank you all for reading. now go, listen to some music you love, laugh and be content!