Tuesday, February 28, 2012

vocation or calling?

i had a good bit of craic yesterday with a friend on the topic of finding one's vocation. vocation, that's a big word, isn't it? sure a guy like the pope or someone like mother theresa has a vocation, or a calling, but an everyday person? hmm, i wonder if we modern humans find our vocation these days. or if we don't flit too much from one thing to another with our short attention spans to take the time to find out what our vocation might be. would we even recognize our vocation if we saw it? or are we too busy looking to the next thing to even notice it?

i've had moments of feeling that i found my vocation - but what i think they really may have been were moments of flow.  intense concentration in a library, writing when the hours melt away, the words just come and you look up and can't believe how much time has passed. sewing the seams of a quilt. flurries of productivity on a long-haul flight. giving a presentation where you're suddenly aware that it's going well and you can kind of stand apart from yourself and watch. but does it all add up to a vocation? so far, it hasn't, as i'm still not sure what i want to be when i grow up. i've ruled out a few things (after trying some of them for far too long), but the field is still pretty wide open. i'm trying to learn to place myself in those situations where i will feel that feeling of flow, because a vocation has to be related to that. but i think it's hard to sustain.

have you found your vocation? did you follow it? do you even think it exists outside of the vatican?

Monday, February 27, 2012

standing apart from the crowd

the coolest new zealander i know, stacey (remember discounderworld and shoe per diem - those are her brainchildren), has a new blog to go with her new job and already she's making me think. this morning, i read her post on the word entrepreneur and found myself nodding.  as you know, i often ponder language,  and stacey's thoughts on entrepreneur not really being the right word for someone who is starting a little business had actually occurred to me of late.

entrepreneur seems to be a whole lot bigger than small business owner. and while i admire anyone who has their own little company, whether they be a plumber or electrician or specialize in communications in english, there is somehow a difference between daring to go out on your own with a small business and true entrepreneurship. i find entrepreneur as word laden with the notion of a unique invention or The Next Big Thing. i find it interesting stacey also associates it with time and how you as an entrepreneur build up your business in order to spend less time at it, so you can move on to the next thing. i would actually call that investment, rather than entrepreneurship, but i find the thought interesting.

in danish, there is another word for entrepreneur - iværksætter. literally - one who sets work in motion - i like that, as it feels to me like it applies better to the business i'm setting in motion. we've not invented a smart new wheel or the answer to twitter or a truly good battery for storing wind power (whoever invents that will be rich) - we're providing high quality communication services in english for other iværksætter in denmark, who want to grow their businesses globally. and iværksætter seems like the perfect word for it. i guess that's the advantage of living in two languages, you can take the best words from both to express what you would really like to express.

it strikes me as i think about entrepreneurship and read advice about it (and there's a LOT of advice out there), that it's all glowingly positive, evangelistic and rather cheerleader-y. i'm slightly disappointed that no one really talks about all of the fear and night terrors associated with it. because while it's exciting, it's also a tremendous amount of pressure to place on yourself - because the success or failure is all on you - there's no one to blame. and whether or not you get a new kitchen anytime in the near future may be resting entirely on you. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

the first star

in honor of tonight's oscars, i thought i'd share asta nielsen's very racy dance (shockingly so for the time) from the abyss (afgrunden), an early danish silent film from 1910. did you know that asta nielsen was the first person to be called a film star? the term was coined about her. this film, plus a couple of others where alternate sad endings were made for the russian market (russian audiences wanted everyone to die or be ruined in the end), were all i knew about denmark the first time i visited. both film and i have come a long way.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

much ado about pinterest

there's a lot of chatter going on out there about pinterest. first, it was about the pinterest business model. and then it was about copyright issues.  today, flickr blocked all copyrighted images from being pinned. which is actually kind of a shame, because as i see it, pinterest is flickr faves categorized. if flickr had kept up with what was happening, they would have given us the ability to categorize our faves long ago, without leaving their site (but i digress).

in my view, it's all much ado about nothing. i pin because i want to find images again. because i am inspired or prompted to think or cook or drool. or because i think something's clever or beautiful or shocking. i'm not using a single pin for commercial gain, and i always leave the link to the original pin intact (if i'm originating the pin and not repinning, i don't always have control then). plus, i am flattered to be pinned, even if don't feel the prick itself.

here's the deal, people, if you're putting your work out there, whether it be words or images, someone is undoubtedly appropriating it. if you don't want that, don't do it. in my experience, the rewards are far greater than the drawbacks. my photo would never have appeared in the moosletter, my kitchen never been on apartment therapy and i'd not have been asked by multiple ikea publications if they could feature my house if i hadn't been sharing those things online. so get over it. and get pinning. i am.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

when you put ideas into the world, magic happens

when you start something, it begins with a few who are interested.

then it grows, as they invite their friends.

and who knows what it will become?

i am grateful for this evening. for being interviewed (if only for 3 minutes) on the radio. for being comfortable enough to spend my entire evening in danish. for those who were more charmed by my accent than offended. for those who came - some who felt a sense of duty to me (thank you!!), but who ended up inspired (thank you!!!). to the nodding and smiles and tears i saw in some eyes. to the beginning of something. something potentially special. and especially for the ideas that i hadn't thought of that already surfaced...words to go with the photos (of COURSE!) and photos already taken over the years. fantastic.

mostly i'm grateful for meeting neighbors and new friends. and the sense of community.

i love putting something out there into the world and seeing what happens. because it's always magical.

edit: i should have noted that this post is actually about the project i described in the previous one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a community photo project

a lomo photo exhibition i saw in manila inspired my project

in recent months, i've gotten involved in a culture group in my community. funds have been ear-marked for our town to have a new "culture house," of which the only thing that's known is that the library will be part of it. right now, the culture house exists in what was the old city hall (and the library is a few blocks away in another old building). decisions have to be made as to whether that building will be renovated or a new one built. as you may imagine, there are factions on both sides and emotions run high.

me, i don't much care WHERE the events to take place, only THAT they take place, so it's quite easy for me to be dispassionate about it (the same cannot be said for many of the others). what i want is for there to be a big variety of cultural events and classes and activities going on for people of all ages. i got involved to bring new ideas to the table and, because i'm selfish like that, to ensure that there's stuff happening that i want to do!

but first, i'm putting my money where my mouth is - tomorrow evening, i'll present the start of a community photo project. the idea of the project is that anyone and everyone in the community should take photos of their life in our town over the next year. they will then (hopefully) contribute them to a flickr group and in a year, we'll have a lomo-style photo exhibition along the lines of the one i saw one time in manila, featuring everyone's photos. and we'll have documented a year in the life of our little town, as well as, i hope, having made new friends along the way.  i've planned the first photo meet-up, since it's sometimes easier to take pictures in public when you're with other people.

i'm going to kick off the project with some inspiration from my own nearly four years of taking daily photos. until i went through my three (!!) iPhoto libraries to prepare the presentation for this project, i didn't realize that i effectively started taking photos every day when i got my first nikon DSLR in may 2008. i just didn't call it a 365 'til january 1, 2010.

it has been a bit hard for me to narrow down all i want to share about how rewarding i think it is to take photos every day (tho' doing that will not be a requirement for participation in the project). it has also been hard to narrow down which photos i want to show for inspiration. i have a notion that many people think that every photograph has to include people, so i'm going to share some ideas for photos that expand people's photographic horizons...to get them thinking about light and shadows and photographing the same spot at different times of day, in different seasons. i've also included a few of my foot shots, as well as shoe per diem, just to share a bit of my own photo obsessions and prove you don't need faces for a photo to be interesting.

most of all, i love the beginning of a new project. i love the feeling of anticipation, the not knowing what direction it will go or how it will turn out. i even love the butterflies in my stomach over the thought that no one will come (all i need is a few to come). but i also want to make it clear that people can join along the way.  of course, i have some ideas of what i want the exhibition to be like in the end (see above lomo photo), but i also intend to keep an open mind and see what happens. when you put something out there and you involve other people, you never know where it lead. but you have to be willing to see where it will take you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

monday musings

i'm doing an alphabet month during february for my 366 project - this is yesterday's  photo - S is for sabin, sunset, silhouette. doing a letter a day (if i count the letters of the english and danish alphabets, it perfectly fits a leap year february of 29) is harder than you might think. we're SO bound to those standard iconic words by which we learned the alphabet - a is for apple, e for elephant, k for kangaroo - and it's really hard once one of those has popped into your head to come up with something else. and although there's a camel in my neighborhood, there are no elephants or kangaroos. but S, that was easy.

* * *

it seems that spring is coming...the horse was running and bucking like a maniac yesterday when i turned her out and the outdoor cat is in heat. poor woody, who got fixed two weeks ago, still thinks he can help her out and she's such a shameless hussy that she lets him.  we hope big brother tiger, who is still intact, gets the job done. no farm is complete without kittens.

* * *

it would appear to be possible for a chicken to have post-partum depression. one of our brown hens, who has been nesting in recent weeks, hatched her chick yesterday. but, being a stupid and still young chicken, she left the nest and it froze to death before we realized it was there. honestly, we didn't think anything would come of all that nesting, since half of them were trying to hatch plastic eggs that we had put out to teach them where to lay the eggs. but there was a perfect little brown chick (albiet dead) in the nest and she was making decidedly sad clucking sounds when husband went to close them in for the night last evening. i thought she'd have forgotten all about it by this morning, but she's apparently still in mourning, as the sad clucks continue. poor dear. i've been watching her neighbor hen all day, in case the egg she's on hatches and she wanders away. it is a slightly dumb time of year for baby chicks with temperatures hovering around freezing, but it's quite nice to know that our chickens are working (so to speak).

* * *

i find it hard at times to work at home. too many distractions and not enough discipline on my part. i need to find another place to concentrate (i'm thinking the library).  other times (like today, actually), i get loads done and am very focused - nearly too focused, actually - sitting too long in one position, not taking enough breaks. i wish there was somehow a happy medium.  do you sometimes work from home? if so, how do you discipline yourself? and those of you who have your own little company - how do you keep the terror that it's all on your shoulders at bay?

* * *

happy monday, one and all.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

in which she overuses the word charming

germany is but a little over an hour away, so we made our way down to flensburg to meet judith and family for lunch yesterday. we also stopped at several of the fleggaard shops - they're a veritable hell of danes stocking up on cheap beer and sodas by the pallet-load. we were looking for the one that sells appliances so we could do some comparison-shopping, but never did find it. we came away laden with a giant jar of nutella, chocolate, sausage, some interesting vodka (absolut watkins, which is coffee, almond and chili-flavored) and cider. we were also a little sick to our stomachs at the gluttony of our fellow countrymen. people don't realize that the 5 billion DKK per year that's spent buying cheap canned beer south of the border has a direct consequence on the quality of their schools and roads and health care. the experience left us resolved to buy our appliances in denmark, where it will benefit both a local shop owner and our public services, even if it does mean paying a bit extra.

we went on into flensburg proper - it's really just a few kilometers into germany and is truly a border town - with signs in danish and german and people seemingly speaking both. but with a population of 88,000, it feels like a proper city - with squares and cafes and a pedestrian street and winding little cobblestone streets with charming alleyways that hold unique little shops and cafes, all tucked in to be discovered.

the chains were all there on the main pedestrian street and husband remarked that it was both reassuringly familiar and disappointingly so. but judith showed us the way to a charming side street where the shops lining the narrow, cobblestone street were all unique - shoe shops, yarn shops, unique clothing, galleries, bicycles, special gardening supplies, lovely wooden toys.

we couldn't get a table at a great little café down one little alley, but found another one with good atmosphere. we tried local flensburger beer (rather bitter), had lunch and a latte and some longed-for good craic.

on the way home, we wondered why, when people love little charming streets of shops, city planners and designers give us soulless shopping centers filled with chain stores and wide, empty squares that no one uses? when a little winding street, where we discover something delightful around the next corner or tucked into a courtyard off the beaten path, brings us a rush of joy, why do they give us glaringly lit uncharming malls?

this little shop was filled with a lot of danish and scandinavian design, and yet you never see such a lovely little shop with such a homey, unique feel in denmark. denmark is filled with chains and even tho' the clothing shops have different names, there are only a couple of big companies behind them, so the variety is limited and something unique very hard to come by. even in decor, they're all the same - even with the danish brands that i like - like noa noa, one shop is the same as all the others.

i suppose i have a little bit of a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the border. it seemed that not only was life there more affordable, it was more charming and unique as well. and tho' i suppose that flensburg, from the perspective of the rest of germany, is just a sleepy little backwater border town on the periphery, it seemed quite lovely to me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

tah dah!

i need to think happy thoughts to calm my blood pressure (that thing that i'm almost out of, but not quite is making me a bit crazy), so what better way than sharing a happy skating photo that sabin took of me the other day. we've had several days of meltiness and the ice isn't safe anymore, so this was our last proper skating, probably for the year. but it was glorious!

* * *

read the alabama chanin blog - it makes me happy and inspires me every time i do.
great stories and plenty of inspiration.
it's magic they're making.

* * *

over the past few days, i keep coming across art collectives.

and here (be sure to read this while you're there).

what would you do if you were part of an art collective?
(or what DO you do if you're part of one?)

* * *

best line i've read all day:

"the only excuse for not coming is that you hate fun." 

i would so hang out with those brooklyn brainery people.

if i were in brooklyn.
or had ever been to NYC.

* * *

would you believe i spent an hour today, surrounded by all my cameras talking to a local newspaper reporter about my 365 photo project and a photo project i'm trying to get started in our community and that i nearly forgot to take my photo of the day?

* * *

we're going to germany for lunch on saturday.
that's so much less exotic than it sounds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

orthogonality and good craic

i read an article about the santa fe institute that has me once again, in fits of longing for intellectual company. founded back in the 80s, they have created an intellectual environment par excellence. they have a number of scientists, researchers and humanists in residence at all times and every conversation that takes place must be an interesting one. their founding premise is "that intellectual vitality arises from people interacting across a wide range of disciplines." they have even coined a term for it: orthogonality.

i think i have long known the value of orthogonality and even used it in my work - there is great value in bringing together people who don't look on the surface like they have much in common and seeing what kind of sparks fly. i've had quite a lot of workshops where people were skeptical of the group i brought together - from ship captains to cartoonists to flash developers to learning specialists to gospel singers - but sparks always flew and magic ALWAYS happened. so there IS something to orthogonality.

in the article, novelist cormac mccarthy, who spends a lot of time at the SFI, says he does so because of the "good craic." that's another thing i'm craving - good craic. craic is a gaelic word meaning lively chat or conversation. husband and i have great conversations on a daily basis, but it would be nice to have some others, some fresh blood, so to speak. let's face it, after 15 years of knowing one another and having these discussions, husband and i are pretty much on the same page.

a friend sent me an email about a conversation group she started - it features wine (always a plus) and meets approximately monthly. each member submits an article that the other members read and then they get together and discuss over a glass or two of wine - sort of like a book club. hers is more career/business-oriented, whereas i think i'm looking for something quite philosophical. it doesn't need to be a formal think tank or have fellowships and high-powered macarthur grant recipients like they have in santa fe - i just need intellectual stimulation and input. good craic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a rather disjointed "review" of murakami's 1Q84

I don't wanna give these back to the library. waah!

to my dismay, i have finished murakami's latest huge novel (in 3 books) - 1Q84. as always, i was completely transported into a parallel world.  murakami does that to me - it's like he reaches into my head, snatches my strangest dreams, moves them to tokyo and writes them. this book didn't really have new themes for him if you've read his other work...memory, time, people who are split or separated from some form of themselves, lonely thirty-something writers, young strange boyishly thin girls...but it was marvelous nonetheless.

in a way, the story itself is a reworking of the storyline of hardboiled wonderland and the end of the world, but wherein he explores an opposite ending...letting the characters return to the "real" world, rather than choosing to stay where they are split from their shadows, tho' here their split selves are called dohta and maza.

i found this book to be richer with literary allusions to world literature than i've noticed in his other works...from george orwell to chekhov (he never did use that gun tho', so he went against chekhov's rule that if you introduce a gun in the first act, it had better be used by the third, tho' aomame actually said that out loud several times, so it was done intentionally). so tho' hardboiled wonderland still remains one of my favorites among his work, 1Q84 adds somehow another dimension that i don't remember from his previous works (i'm not saying it's not there, just that i don't remember it - that's the kind of reader i am).

music plays a central role, as in his other works, and i want to seek out the janacek sinfonietta.

the way in which murakami twists time and memory and splits personalities and makes you strangely fall in love with strange and twisted characters is something no one can do like him (except maybe bulgakov).

book 3 carries the time shifts to new levels---i expected continuity in time with the shifts between aomame, tengo and ushikawa, but instead time jumped back---i think it took me 'til nearly the end to stop being jarred by this. it was a VERY effective device.

i swear along the way while i read this that i could actually SEE two moons in the sky. his capacity to pull you into his fictional universe is that strong. i always begin to question reality on every level when i read him. and it takes me a number of weeks to surface again fully in what is ostensibly my real world when i'm finished.

murakami has the most marvelous way of describing things...."he spent day after day feeling uneasy and muddled, like someone who has mistakenly swallowed a thick swatch of cloud." or "a long silence descended. long enough to walk to the end of a long, narrow room, look something up in a dictionary, and walk back." descriptions that make you immediately say, "YES, i know precisely what he means," even tho' you never thought of it that way before.

i suppose it will be a long wait 'til his next, but i'm certain it will be worth it.

oh, and it's essential to read all three books in one go....if you reach the end of 1&2 and stop, you will be dissatisfied, because it doesn't really end there. you must read book 3 as well, preferably immediately. personally, i think they should be together in one volume, rather than divided, but that would be my only complaint about the book.

if you haven't read other murakami, i wouldn't start with this one (start with kafka on the shore), but if you've read him, this is absolutely a must-read.

Monday, February 13, 2012

it's a frosty winter world

our weather is changing - after several weeks of what is for us bitter cold - temps down to -18°C (that's around 0°F) - it's warming up to around freezing. that means gorgeous, still, foggy frost in the morning. whenever i have a wander with my camera in the morning quiet out here in the country,  all the broken water pipes and ugly ceilings and mis-matched windows fade away into unimportance.

this quiet, unbroken, gorgeous stillness is why we're here.

come skate with me!

i just had to take you along for a little skate on our lake!  happy monday, one and all!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the keeper

today is husband's (also known as the keeper) birthday. he's thirty-seventeen and mildly alarmed that fifty is only three years away.  but honestly, he's aging very well and somehow this seems like the right age. i baked him two kinds of brownies (raspberry truffle and raspberry cheesecake) and homemade buns to have with cocoa mid-afternoon. i was getting these yummies packed into a basket to take down to have a little skating party on the lake when i heard water dripping in the other room. turned out there was a deluge in both sabin's bedroom and the living room, thanks to pipes upstairs that had frozen during our cold weather and which were thawed out today in slightly warmer temperatures.

not exactly how husband wanted to spend his birthday or i our 13th anniversary, but there you have it.

we'll be without heat overnight, as it's the radiator pipes that froze, but husband has it all cleaned up upstairs and the plumber will come and fix it tomorrow. of course, the insurance doesn't cover it, as it's a bunch of pipes that were cobbled together by the previous owners out what they could find at the dump. but such is life in a really old house. the ceilings were made of repurposed pallets anyway, so they can take a little water and despite a having a little shower, even sabin's computer is just fine (big relief).

it was quite enough excitement for one weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

nature is cool: green porno by isabella rossellini

i'm probably a little behind in discovering these, but i just saw them on anders lund madsen's program on DR2 about how stupid animals are and just had to share them. isabella rossellini rocks.

if, like me, you can't get enough, there's more here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

bringing back finishing friday

it's -15°C, so perfect for staying indoors and reviving the old concept of finishing friday.  i've got a stack of leather that's ready to be turned into iPad cases, some stones waiting for their feathers, a couple of sweaters in need of repair (not pictured), a scarf i'm working on for myself (there will be no way to finish that today, at the rate i knit), and book 3 of murakami's 1Q84. the book has to be back at the library in 10 days (not that it will take me that long to read it), so i fear that the book will win out. tho' it's nice to feel the inklings of creativity beginning to return, so perhaps a bit of sewing or painting will be in order as well.

happy weekend, one and all. what will you finish today?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

my world now has two moons

murakami, like no one other than dostoevsky and perhaps gabriel garcia marquez, can transport me to another world and leave me seeing the cracks in this one and wondering where i really am.  the power of words to transport is awe-inspiring, to say the least.  i'm nearly done with 1Q84. tho' it will remain in my mind for a very long time.

if you haven't read it. get it. now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

clearing my head

it's cold (-18° C this morning!) and snowy, but sunny and glittering out there in recent days. i find i am utterly unable to feel anything other than energetic and optimistic when the sun is shining like this. it's one of those weeks where ideas and just thoughts are popping into my head faster than i can grab them, so i've got to just get some of the more random thoughts out here on the screen so i can settle down:

~ i don't understand the purpose of having an open house if when people come, you're not actually going to be particularly open towards them. on sunday, we went to visit a nearby riding school that's reopening under new management. they had an open house and there were lots of people in attendance, but do you think that any of them talked to us? did anyone say hello? did anyone offer us a bit of paper with a schedule of the available lessons on it? no, they did not. does this make us likely to rush into signing up for lessons there? or moving our horse over there? no it does not. my question is, why bother to have an open house if you don't take the key word - "open" seriously?

~ apparently, saying out loud that you have a good life and that you appreciate it will make people unfollow you. does this mean people prefer strife and negativity?

~ there's nothing quite so relaxing as ironing a big pile of tea towels.

~ why (and when?) did they move everything around in power point(less) and render it unrecognizable and unusable? (and why am i trying to use it anyway? microsoft is so 2003.)

~ i loathe that song city boy by donkeyboy, yet i can't get it out of my head. tho' i think they're actually singing "underneath my skin there's an eagle," it sounds like "underneath my skin there's a negro," which just seems quite politically incorrect. sabin's friend thought it was "underneath my skin there's a meatball," which is more amusing.  and that is a very weird, low-budget homemade video, don't you think?

~ i just had to use a calculator to figure out which anniversary we'll be celebrating on sunday (our 13th).

and that about does it. happy tuesday, one and all!

Monday, February 06, 2012

first world concerns

i was just struck with an awareness that i live an incredibly privileged life...with plenty time to make nice friday evening dinners, solve the world's problems in daily discussions with my very cute husband, be there to pick up my child from school, have exciting work to do that both leaves me trembling with excitement and fear, ice skate in the middle of the afternoon on our lake with my 11-year-old, wander around taking photos when the light is right, stay up late reading murakami, drink a mid-afternoon latte, have blissful daily time to myself, spend half an hour every morning and evening feeding horses and bunnies and chickens in my own backyard and still have time left over to over-analyze and gaze at my own navel and write it all out here to the world in my macbook air. talk about spoiled.

thank you for reading.

don't trip on the baggage

"the world is, after all, an endless battle of contrasting memories." - murakami, 1Q84

i'm grateful for the thoughts you shared on my language post last week. both in the comments and via email. the post was some initial thinking about some situations i've found myself in of late and all of your ideas have helped me sort out a bit further what i'm feeling about this issue. it is to an extent, as jessica suggested, a question of whether you feel you belong or not. and the ever-present (if you're me), resistance to belonging fully.

in one of the settings, i've made an active decision not to belong anymore and tonight will be the last time i put myself through what has become a nearly painful evening. the decision to withdraw from that group has more to do with pony abuse, tho' it's also connected to language abuse, than with not feeling like myself. mostly, i think tho', it's a clash of values - or perhaps culture. in my model of the world, it matters more to do all you can than to righteously follow arbitrary rules. i also value good arguments and "that's how we've always done it" is simply not a good argument. once i've lost respect for a person or a group, it's over for me. quite probably my own shortcoming, but nonetheless true. i just hope that i can hold my tongue tonight.

with the other group, i hold back because i'm new and i'm getting the lay of the land. i can also see that my purpose for being involved is different than what the group is currently preoccupied with. but i think it will be ok, as there's room for both my purpose and their preoccupations. but i definitely do hold myself back because it's all in danish in a way that i wouldn't if i could speak english in that context. however, that's not all bad.  it's a good lesson for me to learn. and a bit like taking your husband's last name when you get married, it's a way of starting with a fresh, clean slate. and life doesn't present us with that many chances to do that.

but back to language and the way it constructs us. how we articulate, the words we choose, the history and weight behind those words (both our own and linguistically) - it all matters. we use language to include and to exclude - think of the way doctors speak so that patients can't understand or how when you join a new company and don't yet know all of the acronyms - language is both a way of marking who belongs and perhaps more importantly, who doesn't.

but things do get interesting when the intersections of language involve other languages and other histories and other memories and other baggage. or maybe i'm just preoccupied with all of this because reading murakami makes me even more introspective than usual.

great quote

"the world is, after all, an endless battle of contrasting memories."- murakami, 1Q84

Friday, February 03, 2012

friday how i love thee...

let me count the ways:

~ friday evenings are my favorite meal of the week. i always make bread and a variety of yummy things to put on bread. some of our favorites are here.

~ there's nearly always time to sneak in half an hour for a cup of special coffee and a bit of reading. (today it was hazelnut-cinnamon and murakami).

~ the luxury of the entire weekend stretching ahead.

~ and putting the week behind you, behind you.

~ a glass of wine while cooking dinner.

happy weekend one and all, it's time to go bake the bread.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

do you recognize yourself in a language not your own?

i've been thinking a lot lately about whether you can ever truly be yourself in a language not your own.  are you recognizable as yourself? and to yourself? i've had occasion to feel that i wasn't myself several times of late in danish. and yet, i can also have moments of feeling comfortable in danish and feeling like my sparkling self. but i wonder if i will ever truly feel like me in danish.

so i asked husband about this, especially since he has spoken exclusively english with me for going on 15 years now and we will never switch to danish (it feeling most unnatural to both of us). i asked him if he ever felt something was missing. he said it was the cultural references, especially those of childhood -  books, films, television programs - that he felt most acutely.  but he said it never made him feel like he wasn't himself, just that he didn't have the full breadth of expression that would be at his disposal in danish.

i actually at times feel like a different person - one who is quieter, who holds back when she would normally say something, who thinks more before she speaks (admittedly not a bad thing), one who sometimes sounds sharper than i mean to because i get something slightly wrong (tho' i'm sure there are those who would argue that i am at times sharper than i should be in english). it's partially that different words and grammar express things differently, it's partially intonation, and i guess it's also a feeling of awkwardness. maybe i'm simply never truly comfortable in danish, so i can't fully relax.

i know some of you live outside your native language too...do you ever feel this way? do you lose a bit of who you are when you're speaking a foreign tongue?