Friday, October 31, 2008

just the eyelashes

i haven't packed a thing, it's 10:37 p.m. and i have to head for the airport at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, so just two quick pix of the highlights of the halloween party (more tomorrow from the lounge in AMS)...and ok, so the highlights are all about ME. :-)  or maybe they're about the eyelashes.

seriously, i think i'm going to wear them all the time...

one more thing on grateful friday

i'm grateful for the ability to vote in this important election despite having permanent residence in another country (which no doubt makes me a fake american):

although i've already sent the ballot that was sent to me via email, i got the real, official one in the mail yesterday and i'm sending it too, just in case. i remember when i moved to chicago, i always joked that i was looking forward to voting as many times as i wanted to. :-) so this time around, i'm taking no chances. better safe than sorry!

of train wrecks, halloween and gratitude

only a few more days left of my daily linking to the latest campaign news. tangobaby actually directed me to today's first article by the director of a 2005 sundance film festival film called why we fight, and an early encounter with mccain's now derailing straight talk express. very thoughtful and well-written, read it if you have the time.

last night, the daily show with obama was on here in denmark, only one day after original broadcast--that's pretty cool, because until about a week ago, the daily shows were about a week behind (i suppose to give time to the subtitle people). it's on at 11:40 p.m., but both husband and i stayed up to watch it. glad we did, as there was more than the clip that had been available online. barack obama takes political speech to a whole new level...returning it to something you can believe in and with an underlying assumption that the audience consists of thoughtful, intelligent people. it made me realize that that's been missing for a long time now. at least 8 years, and as much as i like bill clinton, perhaps even longer than that. it is like we have our kennedy, although i will admit that in the early 90s, i felt that way about bill clinton and his campaign video a town called hope , done by those designing women people--i loved that and had the same goosebumps and tears in my eyes i had watching obama's infomercial yesterday.

one more link, you must check this blog that i just discovered. FANTASTIC! (thanks to magpie on twitter!)

* * *
but, i can't wax philosophical all day. i have to prepare for 20 2nd graders to descend on us at 5 p.m. for a halloween party! the house has to be decorated, the pumpkin tops cut open (they're going to start off by carving pumpkins, tho' i am uncertain that giving sharp objects to 20 2nd graders is a good idea), warm beverages simmering on the stove, food and snacks prepared for the hungry masses, apples tied to a string for fun and games, i have to be in my modified morticia addams costume (i got a black & purple wig instead of black & grey).  last night, we carved a couple of pumpkins to get ready:
and sabin worked on her halloween costume:
it is a spider web-y ghost costume of her own invention.
* * *
 i've been wanting to do a grateful friday posting for awhile now, inspired by del at serenity now, but am usually all worn out by friday and don't have it in me or am on some kind of rant. however, today i will do it!  here is a list of the things i'm grateful for at this very moment:
  1. i'm headed for manila tomorrow for a week of interesting meetings and catching up with old friends and i'm staying at my favorite hotel in the whole world.
  2. i'm almost done with my VAT statement for Q3. (ugh!)
  3. and i have only one invoice left to create.
  4. next i get to bake cupcakes.
  5. that i have a wonderful husband who i have engaging conversations with every single day.
  6. realizing that we've already managed to establish traditions with sabin--she insisted on the ritual pleasure of roasting pumpkin seeds last night when we carved the pumpkins. i had actually forgotten about doing that, but she remembered and said, "but mom, we ALWAYS roast pumpkin seeds with that yummy salt." 
  7. a steaming mug of fragrant tea.
  8. that i'm sitting in a space where all kinds of materials for creativity are within reach--pens, pretty papers, my camera. (i don't have time for any of that today, but i love knowing it's here.)
what are you grateful for this friday?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

it gave me goosebumps!

i was a little bit worried when i heard that the obama campaign had bought 30 minute spots on the networks and cable channels. i wondered if it would be overkill. i needn't have worried. i sat this morning at my computer and watched it with goosebumps and occasional tears in my eyes. there is just such a contrast between the hope and positivity of obama and the vitriol and negativity of mcpalin. obama presents his ideas and his plans, everything i hear from the opponents is not about what they intend to do, but about how bad what obama is going to do is. they don't seem to have ideas and obama has nothing BUT ideas. but don't take my word for it, watch it for yourself:

and don't forget to have a look at obama's appearance on jon stewart. he's funny and totally able to laugh at himself. brilliant.  and one last link, if you didn't see michelle obama's appearance on leno, you've gotta watch it, even if, like me, you're not a leno fan. she's gonna make an awesome first lady--she's smart, gracious, humble and funny. we couldn't wish for more!

P.S.  if you'd like to let out a cheer, go read "the mandatory rejection of sarah palin" by bob cesca. so, so spot on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i'm back on form

because i haven't made any for awhile, i bring you two campaign buttons for tangobaby's presidential quest.  two because i couldn't really decide. you'll see....

it's totally amazing what a little fluffy snow will do for one's mood. 

i was even charmed by the plane being de-iced. those little de-icing machines are so futuristic-looking:

i have a strange affection for SAS:

i'm not sure if the affection stems from the elderly stewardesses (SAS = Sexy After Sixty) or the charming scandinavian mix of onboard staff--the humor of the danes, the style of the swedes, the tree-hugging-ness of the norwegians. whatever it is, if one can feel affection for an airline, then oddly, i do for SAS.

have you seen this?

in the lounge in oslo, laughing my ass off with headphones:

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

this morning, when i went outside, this is the world that greeted me:
why is it that a magical coating of fluffy, white snow, while hell on the traffic, somehow softens the world? the edges are all a little less pokey and everything seems that much more magical. and that somehow makes everything better.

it's been a great day. i've written three small articles. they flowed out like a gorgeous extra virgin olive oil into a pan. i've turned the tide on the bad week. and it's all because of the snow. and the new shoes don't hurt.

things can only get better

going to bed early seems to make me get up early. not sure i'm so keen on that...but it did give me time to check up on my election obsession before getting ready for work.  and this piece warmed my heart--9000 people brave pissing down rain in pennsylvania to see barack obama. john mccain canceled a rally at the same time, citing the weather. it may also have been that no one had shown up due to lack of interest.

the cracks are really starting to show in the mcpalin campaign.  mitt romney, who has apparently been living under a rock, acknowledges that there is now a "very real possibility of an obama presidency." that's been apparent for some time, my friends (to quote mr. mccain). one of mccain's advisors has actually called our sarah a "wack job"and others are beginning to admit publicly that they were shocked at how little she knew. it's clear she's trying to save herself a political future, going increasingly "maverick" on the campaign trail, tho' these fruit fly comments aren't going to help. let's hope she doesn't succeed and goes back to alaska to her refurbished governor's mansion with her tail between her legs. sadly, she probably lacks the good sense to do this. and sadly, she won't have all her pretty new clothes to wear in the prettied up governor's mansion. that is, if we actually believe they will go to charity. i can see it now: a sotheby's auction of palin memorabilia.

i'm not sure what i feel about the 30-minute ad the obama campaign is going to air--it seems like a bit much--but i am definitely looking forward to seeing obama on the daily show!

time for my day to begin...things can only get better, right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the tuesday that felt like a monday

i slept like total crap, partially because of the bewildering behaviour of my sister, but also because i always sleep restlessly when i have to get up early to catch a flight. i'm not a morning person. but i made it and even had time to pick up that fabulous YSL mascara and some mac lipstick in the duty free. then, i ran into a colleague on the flight and had a very pleasant conversation all the way to the office. so, despite the sleep issues, the day started pretty well.

this writing that i've been agonizing over for several weeks and which i sent off yesterday was the start of my tuesday troubles. i didn't feel good about it in the first place. i've written and rewritten so many times that it's all a jumble and will never be right to me. but, i learned today that a decision has been made about the subject i was writing about that will take it in completely another direction, so not only was the writing crap, it was now wrong. of course, i couldn't know that 'til i got here, but it did underline the isolation in which i'm working. maybe this distance thing just isn't working for me anymore, as lucky and privileged as i feel to have this situation. i need to be where people are and where the conversations are happening.

because of my struggles with this piece of writing, the articles i turned over were really quite down to the wire...i am not proud of this, but, despite my best efforts, it seems that it couldn't have been otherwise with this particular writing, because lord knows i tried!!! my boss was disappointed about my turning it in at the last minute. and because i was already disappointed in myself about it and feeling guilty about the absurd amount of money they pay me to do this job and what a crap job i had done, it felt that much worse. he's an excellent boss and we had a good talk about it, but maybe it's even worse when you disappoint someone you really like and respect.

so i left the office late afternoon, feeling close to tears with disappointment in myself, but i didn't want to cry on the train in front of strangers. so i fiddled with my iPhone, which usually lifts my spirits. i went and checked into my hotel, dropped off my bags and headed out to find a new murakami at the bookstore (books in english are strangely affordable in norway). on the way, i happened past the shop where i bought the fabulous purple el naturalistas a couple of months ago. and there i found some fabulous RED el naturalistas, which were the last pair, but miraculously in my size (sadly, i don't have my camera with me, so i can't show them to you)! so i snapped them up and my spirits lifted a little bit. then i had some chinese food and eavesdropped on a strange conversation between a middle-aged dread-locked african american guy and a young norwegian girl (more about that another day).

when i came back, i had a bunch of lovely comments on yesterday's sad post waiting for me and that made it all a whole lot better, to know you guys support me and are thinking of me. everybody has a bad day (or days) once in awhile and it makes a whole lot easier to get through them when you have friends. thank you, dahlings, it really means a lot.

Monday, October 27, 2008

terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

husband woke us up an hour early because he'd forgotten change his alarm clock to winter time. it rained. the fireplace wouldn't start. i got my writing done, but it sucks. the hotel website won't load, so i have no hotel for tomorrow. my right elbow started to hurt--kind of a lot--for no reason.

it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

i went to get fabric at the fabric store from hell. actually, it's a very nice fabric store, as far as the fabric is concerned, but the help are all deeply unhappy and wish they were somewhere else, so the atmosphere there isn't good.  that's actually when it really started to go wrong. my mood was definitely dragged down after being there.

i found out my sister is, for some reason unknown to me, on some strange spiteful vendetta against me. actually, the reason is known, it's just too stupid to comprehend. it's because i didn't answer an email to a RANDOM STRANGER that she GAVE MY EMAIL ADDRESS to PUBLICLY ON TWITTER!!! so when said random stranger tells her this today, she emails him back and says this:

"Yeah, weird deal.  I made the introduction thinking you'd have interests in common with her, but she had one of her knee-jerk reactions.  She freaked out at the horrible thought of me giving away her super-secret email address to a would-be serial killer in Central Iowa, though you'd have to cross an entire ocean to go about your crime against what, an email address?  So I got in big trouble for trying to introduce you.  My apologies for the wasted time. Turns out you wouldn't be that interested in knowing her, I guess."

and how do i know this, you ask? because she thought it would be amusing to forward it to me. i guess she knew i was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and just wanted to help out, in case it was getting brighter.

let me ask you, was it really so wrong of me not to want my email address broadcast on twitter or twinkle or whatever her iPhone version is to everyone within a 150 mile radius of bum-fuck, iowa just so some random stranger could have it and get in touch with me? somehow, i just can't find a way for that to be ok in my head. nor can i find any explanation for my sister's behavior towards me. fine to email him back and say what she said above, it's a free country (for now), but why add the spite by forwarding it to me? why would someone want to be totally disloyal to their only sister and then rub it in her face? i guess i'm just too simple to understand it.

then, just when i thought it couldn't get any worse, i just flipped back to my gmail--home of said address--and it strangely asked me to sign in, saying my email had been deactivated!! causing my blood to run cold (honestly, now i understand what that means). then, i tried again, signed in and had to do one of those little random alphabet thingies and then it went in! WTF? how can all of this happen in one day?

and right when things were looking up a little, because i had just had fun making these cards to put in the mailboxes all along our street, letting everyone know that we're having a children's halloween party on friday night and that they should expect some small trick-or-treaters to be coming by (we have to warn them because this isn't a traditional trick or treat country).  and i had had fun because i got to stamp on the cards and then play with fire--because i burned the edges (my first successful encounter with fire all day).

so now, i think i'll go to bed, i have to get up early and fly to oslo. terrible, horrible no good, very bad days don't happen more than one at a time, do they?

monday links and ramblings

i've expended a lot energy, not to mention time, being outraged about sarah palin, but will admit that it's cooling. not least after reading this article about how all of her antics should make us laugh, not cry. is this whole thing just because we crave entertainment? of course, we should remember that she's most definitely not harmless, but we must admit that it's been pretty entertaining.

at first i wondered how i would survive until election day and now i'm wondering what i'll do to fill the void when the election is over. although we don't yet know the result, i suppose i already feel anticlimactic because i've voted and sent off my ballot. not to mention that i vote in illinois, which is a pretty sure bet obama state. i've done my part and i know you'll all do yours.

* * *
lest you guys think all i do is read about politics, i hereby offer some of the other, totally non-political things i've been reading:
  1. will we eventually download books from amazon directly into our brains? this is a discussion that husband and i have very often...where evolution will lead humans and whether the internet is in fact the stirrings of the next life form?
ok, i looked around and realized that's pretty much the only non-political, non-work-related article i've read of late. man, it's bad. i will be glad to have my brain back when this election is over, so i can fill it much more stimulating why madonna and guy ritchie are splitting!?

* * *

the mailman just came and brought me this and this:
and a beautiful print
and two of those little moo cards
(NOW i know what they are, even if i still don't know what it stands for!)
thank you, tangobaby, madame president!
* * *
and because it was a rainy, dreary weekend, made for staying indoors and baking organic chickens and squash and making warming curries, and because this blog has become way too much politics and way too little inspiration, i hereby share the weekend's creativity:

working with mathilde (husband's middle daughter), we made two pillows for her bedroom, using some cute japanese matrioshka fabric (the fabric is japanese, not the matrioshki, they're russian) from etsy (which can't be linked to at the moment due to scheduled maintenance) and a couple of lush anna maria horner fabrics.
and i'm working on a small lap quilt, made entirely of anna maria horner fabrics:
i got the top done and will reward myself today with a trip to get the batting and backing fabric, if i finish the writing i need to get done (and which is fast becoming urgent, which may be just what i need to be able to finish it). but yes, i've reached the point where i have to threaten myself and then promise rewards. i'm clearly a bad parent.

on that note, i'm off to's the same piece i've been struggling with for the past several weeks. i think i'm struggling because i actually care too much about it and want to get it just right. do you ever have things you do that with? and if so, how do you get out of it! i'm open to any and all good advice! because i've written about ten different versions of this thing and none of them are right and thus far, i've been unable to combine them into something i can live with. but, today, i shall succeed!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

mediocrity rules

well, it looks increasingly like mediocrity will not in fact rule, which is quite a relief, but of course, it's never over 'til it's over.  judith warner has a very interesting piece in today's NYT on that ever-worrying topic of sarah palin as the ultimate feminist. she suggests that palin and not hillary clinton offered the political breakthrough moment for women in this year--because "mediocrity is the privilege of those who have arrived." hillary is and always was the consummate over-achiever--sarah palin, a person who happened to be in the right place at the right time and now apparently even has the right wardrobe. (because if you have a look at this, you'll see she definitely DIDN'T have the right wardrobe before.)

and there ARE just people who you shake your head at and wonder how they've attained the position they've attained. i worked with one in my previous job. the boy was nice enough, but quite simply rubbish at his job. he's still in that job and i just heard that he's getting another promotion. it's a fact that everyone around him--his employees, his peers, his customers--everyone but his boss--sees him for what he is--an utter and complete mediocrity. but, because he's mostly harmless, he ends up rising. if you're a weak manager, it's easy to promote other weaklings and fun to hold down the strong and those weak sucks totally benefit from that.

but, i do have faith and i think that sarah palin is evidence, that those mediocrities eventually rise too far and then they crash and crash hard. it's really quite nice of sarah palin to take down mccain, who likely would have continued along the bush trajectory. because i've said for years that mccain was the one republican i could think of who i could vote for. thanks to her, that is no longer true.

perhaps this whole thing will give the republicans pause. they'll have to think about whether the direction they've gone in over the past 8 years is the right one. they'll have to think about whether it's ok that those right of the right loonies who used to be their fringe have now become their center. and that introspection can no doubt only be good for everyone (assuming republicans are capable of introspection--which is currently taking the form of the "blame game," big and bad and the election isn't even over). because regardless of which answer they come up with--we are a bunch of religious, right-wing, shoot-to-kill lunatics or we are fiscal conservatives who believe government should stay out of the people's way (a lot of good that did recently)--the democrats can only look good these days.

but now, i'm going back to my sewing projects, because i have to do something constructive in these times that feel so full of destructive rhetoric.

hope you all had a fabulous weekend.

p.s. i have a new political blogsite to add to my list of regular visits which include the huffington post and andrew sullivan's daily dish, it's called the daily beast and you all probably knew about it, but i didn't until today (thanks sis!).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

i voted today!

after a horrible panic due to the fact that i hadn't yet received my absentee ballot (and i had been patiently waiting, thinking it would come), i got in touch with the chicago election commission and found out they hadn't received my request! arrgh! the good news was, it wasn't too late and because they have great service, i actually was able to request and receive a ballot via email, all in one day! i've filled it out and sent it, so it's on its way! i would have been devastated after all of this, not to be able to vote.

today's election quote translated from danish :  "sarah palin has had the same effect on the campaign as  halloween candy. at first, voters got a proper sugar high and afterwards a bellyache."

and looking ahead to 2012, i bring you today's tangobaby campaign button:

and because i adore the campaign button maker :
hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Friday, October 24, 2008

won't you join us?

as part of my ongoing campaign to be tangobaby's secretary of state, i give you today's campaign button:

i am beginning to think i should have nominated myself for vice president since i'm doing so much active campaigning here...hmm.

through another's eyes

i wish you guys could read danish (i can think of only one reader who can and another one who can probably read norwegian, which is really like badly spelled and properly pronounced according to how it's spelled danish). what i actually love about living in denmark during my 3rd american presidential election is reading the coverage of the election in the danish (quality) press.  i would love to link to a whole list of great articles i've read lately (and i no doubt will), but it does seem a bit overwhelming to translate them. so, i will offer a synopsis and share some of the thoughts these great articles have led me to.

berlingske, which is, in my opinion, by far the best danish newspaper (tho' a recent redesign has given it a disturbing feel of one of those free-on-the-train papers) in terms of the writing itself, has a particular reporter in the US. i think i've probably mentioned him before. his name is poul høi and he lives in santa fe. during the first two elections i was here, he was berlingske's man in DC. apparently now he's achieved sufficient seniority and cachet (due to his brilliant writing) to be allowed to do whatever articles strike his fancy and to live in santa fe. not a bad gig, it would seem to me.

in yesterday's paper, he published the first of two articles from wasilla, home of sarah palin. he went there to try to get to the bottom of who she is by seeing where she came from. as i've said before, i have an addiction to writing in the margins of books and this article was so good that i actually had to underline and scribble all over it.

høi's analysis of the country of my birth helps me see it with new eyes. he's lived there about as long as i've lived here, so he has both an inside and an outside perspective. his descriptions are apt and often poetic, setting the scene:
  • characterizing a weather change as the sort that demands a wagner overture.
  • and wasilla as a town with no city planning, built according to the lowest common denominator--by kiosk owners, for kiosk owners and ruled by kiosk owners.
  • walking into the local "mug shot saloon" he felt like the children in the narnia books--as if he'd stepped through a wardrobe, back in time, to a place with nicotine-colored hessian on the wall, populated by people who have seen it all, done it all and given up.
  • describing churches being built according to the principles of plastic silverware architecture (engangsbestik-arkitektur).
then, with historical perspective, he reminds us of the divide in the republican party between the goldwater-types and the wallace-types (tho' wallace was a so-called dixiecrat (democrat turned independent), he inspired an entire generation of right of the right republicans). the divide between intellectual and down home (we know this now as the real and the fake america). he talks about sarah palin's mediocre grades (sound familiar?) and her need to move from college to college in order to finally collect a degree in sports journalism. he talks about the teachers who had no recollection of her. he discusses her bizarre anti-intellectualism--if she couldn't be a leader among the educated, she would by god lead the uneducated against the educated. serving on the local city council was her way up the ladder, then she stomped on those who helped her in and ran against them, mobilizing the "wal-mart moms," which worked for her all the way to the governor's mansion (there are apparently a LOT of those in alaska).

in short, høj masterfully weaves together fifty years of history of american politics, cultural analysis and a feel for the present into the conclusion that sarah palin is in actuality a natural and even inevitable conclusion...once republicans admired people like abraham lincoln and winston churchill, today those on the pedestal are joe six-pack and joe the plumber. sarah palin is, like george w. bush before her, simply the embodiment of this zeitgeist.  as poul høj says in his blog entry this week, if you cross lipstick with a pitbull long enough, you eventually do get a pitbull with lipstick.

all of this makes me realize that those of us now fake americans--the ones who bothered to get higher education and a passport--simply must stage a revolt. we've sat back long enough, not really believing that this is where reality was headed and thinking these people were too moronic to bother arguing with.  it's so, so, so important to vote obama. our right to be intellectual or even just to be thinking and thoughtful in our decision-making depends on it. we must show this woman the way back to her wal-mart. if she's going to give back all that valentino anyway, she'll need some new, more affordable clothes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

on the campaign trail

i might have a minor addiction to the campaign button maker. that and i really, really want to be tangobaby 's secretary of state.

actually, i'd be quite ok with ambassador to somewhere fun. like south africa.

tangobaby for president

the fabulous tangobaby is running for president and she's also got a fabulous contest going on (i know, that was two uses of fabulous in one sentence, but this is really, really FABULOUS). part of the contest is to make a campaign button for the tangobaby 2012 campaign (you can never start too early). since blogger comments wouldn't allow me to post my badge in her comment field, i had to post it here:

the contest is to join her administration and i have nominated myself for secretary of state.  here are the reasons i outlined in my comment, per contest instructions:

first of all, i am aware that there are other countries. secondly, i live in one of them. thirdly, i frequent them, well...frequently. i speak several very important (and not at all minor(nodding, nodding)) languages, so i could eavesdrop in the hallways and make sure we get the deals we on arms control and space exploration and alternative energy (because we will definitely think that arms should be a little more controlled, space explored and energy more alternative than they are today). another plus, i pass through duty frees the world over and know where the best deals to be had on perfumes and mascara and mac cosmetics are--thereby saving the taxpayer/donors money because this is really largely about the wardrobe. additionally, i do not want, nor have i ever wanted a louis vuitton purse.

one thing that might speak against me, but i want to be up front about it so that you're not surprised by probing fox reporters--is that i tried, and utterly failed, to become miss south dakota , which is right up there in lameness with trying and failing to become miss alaska. but, i wanted you to know because i'm all about the honesty.

if you too are optimistic enough to think there will still be a united states of america which will be in any condition to hold another election in 2012, get on over to tangobaby and nominate yourself for her administration!

by the way...

if you're tired of all of my political ranting, you can see serene pictures of our recent autumn holiday, recipes and the latest fruits of our creative outbursts over on just know where you are. and yes, there are a couple of more light-hearted sarah palin things over there, like a thing about her hair, so you don't get to entirely escape the politics.

what new madness?

i'm sorry, i couldn't stay away from the huffington post this morning, so i'm going back to my political musings. and although this is old (from 2007), you simply must see it, because it completely underlines yesterday's argument that postmodernity is indeed alive and well in election '08:

i'm speechless.

* * *
i also did a bit of research into sarah palin's wardrobe upgrade. remember yesterday when i asked how bad her old wardrobe was that she needed to go all imelda. well, take a look at this, taken just a few months before she became the VP nominee. frankly, i understand better now the $150,000. she needed a LOT of help here, people:

that lipstick on a pig comment is making more and more sense. is it just me or is it a little disturbing that she has the same evening gown competition up-do in this grocery store shot?

i do think this whole wardrobe issue will have a knock-on effect of making the job much more appealing to women in the future. heck, like my fellow julie, i would consider running if it meant a whole new wardrobe. of course, one cools on the idea when the campaign announces that they are giving the clothes away to charity after the election (as if). poor little piper will have to give up her louis vuitton bag. that kinda breaks my heart.

* * *
as i watched the daily show last night (the one from last week with that guy from the PC-Mac commercials--now there's a weird guy!), it hit me that watching it was pretty much the only thing keeping me sane through this election. these people are actually capable of driving people crazy, and thankfully, i'm not even there where i'd have to see all of the awful campaign ads. i feel for all of you who are living there in the middle of it and can highly recommend the safe distance of an ocean between you and the campaign the next time around. larry david has quite a funny piece on keeping sane (or not) in this mad election, check it out.

i've been flipping back and forth between CNN and BBC World these days. one thing that has struck me is how much footage from other networks and shows the news broadcasts are using--especially on CNN, but frankly, BBC is doing it as well (they disappoint me at times with their CNN-ness). clips of jon stewart and this new up and coming woman on MSNBC--rachel maddow (how are we going to keep her separate from rachel ray? dark-haired, perky. but i digress), clips of SNL. it's one thing to use another interviewer's clip, but an awful lot of entertainment is entering the news sphere.  and that seems to me like further evidence that we are in this strange, postmodern, unreal place.  what's frightening is that it's all too real! and not all that entertaining. 

i'll leave you with an especially good (and funny) example of what i mean, which i admit is pretty entertaining:

and now i shall try to restrain for the rest of today. there's only so much we can all take.

because i can't be all serious

instead of election madness today, i bring you good cheer...

clearly, i need to get out the sesame street CDs and buy a video camera. and maybe a purple wig. i think purple is more me.  or green, so i could do "it's not easy being green."

P.S. this is NOT me, it's some random girl from toronto...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

starbucksonomics and other interesting reading

perhaps after reading this piece in slate i should be happier that there are only two starbucks in denmark, both of which are in the airport (one on the inside, after security), so really only one available to the general public. and they haven't been there that long, actually, only a few months. tho' i will admit there have been times when it occurred to me to go to the airport for a double latte.

a few years ago, i remember hanging out in a dingy bar in hyde park (yes, THAT one) having an extensive and quite high level discussion about swearing infixes. you know, how you insert swear words into other multi-syllabic words. as in un-fucking-believable or in-fucking-credible. (i apologize that i can't think of any using other swear words at the moment.) well, it seems that steven pinker has begun to look into what swearing is all about. and it seems that the government should probably stay out of it.

and apropos my previous post on the resurgence of postmodernity, check out this (much more in-depth) argument along the same lines.

the procession of simulacra

until recently i thought that, in addition to (the quite stunning achievement of) bringing the entire world economy to its knees, bush had managed to kill postmodernity. it's just not cool to be postmodern anymore. after real planes crash into real skyscrapers and bring them down and the US engages in real wars against an elusive foe who remains at large in a mountain hideout and a guy named saddam who wasn't really involved, but had the disadvantage of having wronged dubya's daddy, it just seemed like there was no more room for unreality and the simulacra and the simulation. those buildings collapsing were simply all too real.

however, i have had to admit in recent weeks that postmodernism (which i always had quite a soft spot for (reality is, after all, frequently inaccurate)) is alive and well.  just a quick reminder as to one of the main tenants of postmodernity, from our good old friend frederic jameson,--there is "a new kind of superficiality and depthlessness" present in the postmodern condition. additionally, there is a blurring of lines between reality and unreality (that's my favorite part). to try to make it tangible--does the constructed "america" represented by disneyland end up more real than the real america? hmm....i think it might be better to turn to the "real" world to explain what i'm getting at...

consider, sarah palin's appearance on SNL. an appearance in which she attempted to take the piss with the one taking the piss with her. incidentally, i read an article in which tina fey said that she had never really known of a satirical sketch of a political figure where it was possible to lift virtually the entire dialogue directly from what the politician said without tweeking it at all for humorous effect. tina fey does sarah palin better than palin herself does. now THAT's postmodern.  as baudrilliard (one of the kings of postmodern theory) says, " implosion of meaning. this is where simulation begins." lines are blurred and politics is entertainment. the mocked becomes the mocker and the mocker the mocked. reality blurs into the unrecognizable.

another example is all of this talk about the "real" america (which seems to mean the bits that will vote for mcpalin). it's so absurd now that there is a "real" virginia and an unreal one (don't really know where west virginia fits into that equation). and a pro-america america and one (apparently the part that can actually THINK) that's the anti-america america (damn those of us who went to U of C). see, postmodern:  at once in and not in. the center has shifted and we can no longer identify what's real and what's unreal.

but, don't take my word for it, check out jon stewart:

when it's morning here

it's so entertaining these days to get up in the morning and see what madness has happened while i slept. just think, only 14 more days of this.  what will i do for entertainment when it's all over? i guess we'll probably still watch hannah montana from 7:10-7:40, since we have a tween in the house.  but in all seriousness, even tho' i am a night owl, i'm still 6-9 hours ahead of events in the US, so lots happens after i go to sleep and the reverberations are still buzzing through the blogosphere when i get up.

let's have a little rundown:

  1. sarah palin's $150,000 shopping spree, including $75,000 at neiman marcus. hmmm, i wonder how many other hockey moms and joe six-packs she ran into while she was there? i also wonder what her old clothes were like that she needed to go all imelda to that extent? perhaps tho', she was just trying to stimulate the economy.  good on ya, sarah!
  2. in new mexico, you can be drunk when you vote (is THAT how people will bring themselves to vote mcpalin?), but not wearing a t-shirt with a political message. especially if it says "obama."
  3. this morning, on CNN i saw a story about electronic voting machines in west virginia that just "happened" to switch votes to mccain, despite the obama line being clearly pressed by voters. officials claimed there were no irregularities and an especially dopey official was trotted out to assure viewers that even if he, who happened to be republican, wanted to tamper with the machines, he sure didn't know how. yeah. right. strangely, i can find no link to this piece on the CNN website.
  4. sarah palin flies her kids around on alaska's tab. for personal travel, like watching daddy's snowmobile race. (this one seems familiar, i think it reared its head a few weeks ago too, either that or i dreamed it.)
  5. sarah palin thinks that the vice president runs the US senate, going so far as to say that "if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom..." call me crazy, but when i apply for a job, i try to know what it actually entails. and who is brandon anyway? joe the plumber's son?
happily, i'm back to finding this all very amusing. which is good, because i was hanging out between suicidal and homicidal in recent days and that's not a fun place to be. for me or anyone around me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how long could YOU survive?

I could survive for 1 minute, 6 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor
Created by Bunk Beds Pedia

p.s. this is all andi's fault. :-) but was rather fun. i hope i never have to find out if it's true (tho' if the dinosaurs were alive together with jesus, as sarah palin suggests, there could be some hanging about). and i do wish that the first question had included an answer as to whether one had been a wrestling cheerleader, because i had that one covered.

why blog?

although i haven't been blogging much in the past week, i have both been thinking about it and reading about it--here and here.  and reading has me thinking about what blogging has meant to me over the past nearly a year (although i created this blog back in 2004, i didn't really start using it 'til late 2007). it has been a creative and emotional outlet. it has been a way to ensure that i write something every day, as i transitioned to a job where writing was my work. it has been a healing process. a place where i work out thoughts and emotions. a place where i record experiences, preserve memories. a place where i leave some small pieces of myself...a footprint, if you will (better than leaving fragments in a mirror, don't you think?).

it has surprised me that it has turned out to be a social space because i really, sincerely started it for me and only me (and even had it closed initially). but it's become a place where i have found new friends all over the world. people who i have things in common with and who interest me. i think when i started i didn't imagine an audience at all, i was blogging for myself and for my sanity. it was a different way of keeping the journal that i've always kept. a less messy, morbidly personal way of doing so, as my handwritten journals can be SERIOUSLY navel gazing (i know, i'm indulging a bit of that at the moment), to the point of nausea. and i also repeat myself. a lot. i hope i do less of that here.

i have no desire to blog on the scale of andrew sullivan or matt drudge or ariana huffington , tho' i enjoy their blogs. for me, it's totally fine to have a network of people whose blogs i read and leave comments on and who occasionally stop by to read me. it feels hyggeligt that way. (hyggeligt is that danish word that they always translate as cozy, but which encompasses so much more than that word does in english.) it's a sense of an intimate community that i enjoy. i find inspiration in the thoughts and creations on the blogs i read. and i imagine that will continue, even as blogs evolve and change. i love the personal nature of them--the insight into someone else's life and thoughts and creativity.

another of the things i love about blogging is my monthly ritual of printing my month's entries and putting them into a lovely binder. i love that they print in reverse chronological order--it's like knowing the end already from the beginning. i love looking back at where i was (both literally with all my travel) and philosophically over the past month. or paging through previous months and seeing how my thoughts and moods have changed and evolved.

having studied literature for years (and gathered a couple of degrees related to it), i have always been interested in genre. i think the blog is an interesting and emerging genre in its own right--part diary, part gossip column, part self-help, part journalism, part storytelling. it's immediate and intimate. it can be confused and disorganized or poetic and lyrical. it's ever-shifting, yet always personal.  i love it and i intend to keep doing it.  like leaving footprints in the sand....

Monday, October 20, 2008

the coming darkness

how unlike me, it's been almost a week since i blogged! the autumn holiday is over. it's affectionately called the kartoffelferie--potato holiday--because at one time it meant that children were released from school to help with the potato harvest. now, it's just a week off where children are ushered from one fun activity to the next. we squeezed in a couple of learning activities as well, like a visit to an old mill, where we watched flour being ground and bought some to take home to make bread (and where i took the above picture of some old, broken millstones).

but now, it seems we settle in in earnest to the dark winter months. the sun gets up late and goes down early. the yard is covered in leaves, although no killing frost has yet come to my dahlias (they are IN the greenhouse after all), it will come soon. we've harvested the last tomatoes and made warming sauces and soups with them. we're using the fireplace in the evenings and in general, closing down and tucking in, ready to wait out the long, dark winter.

although fall is my favorite, the dread of the darkness weighs heavily on me. maybe it's the darkness and the rain along with all of the negativity of the election (seriously, are there REALLY two weeks left before this madness is over?) that has me feeling a bit down. it didn't help that last night, i watched this movie--en soap--by danish director pernille fischer christiansen. very well-acted, but very disturbing because the two main characters are just so completely messed up. i'm not sure why i kept watching it, as i could actually feel it getting me down. i actually went to bed with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach from watching it. i'm not sure it's enriching to the soul to watch people with totally fucked up lives further fuck them up, even if the acting is great. it wasn't a "there but for the grace of god" feeling it gave, but more the feeling of having come upon a horrible accident and being unable to look away from the mangled metal and bloody limbs. disturbing.

i think it's time for some tea and some candles and some cheerful music to snap me out of this funk. what do you do to cheer yourself up when you need it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

a day of paths

here, and here, i found reference to a week of paths. i'm not sure i have a week in me, but a day of paths i can do:

it's a bit blurry because it was just a tad too dark and i'm utterly unable to hold still (must get a tripod). it's over at the little castle across the fjord in jægerspris. fabulous place for a walk in the woods on a sunday afternoon.

tomorrow morning, we're headed off for a few days to møn's klint (one of my favorite places in denmark) and then to visit friends in jutland (the bit of denmark that's attached to the rest of europe). it's almost, but not quite (at all), like being in istanbul. sigh...

pure point of view

how many versions of me did i set free in this mirrored ceiling in tivoli last night? and what are they doing right now?

Monday, October 13, 2008

parallel worlds in the mirror

what if, when we look in the mirror, we leave an imprint of ourselves there in the glass? a version of us that remains behind after we walk away. think of the infinite number of times you've looked in a mirror. the multitude of selves left behind. what are they doing? do we leave one behind every time we use the mirror, so the mirrors in my home, for example, are filled with hundreds of me. versions of me, one from every day, sometimes several times a day. do they have an entire existence over there in the mirror?

do my mirror self-portraits with the camera have a sort of doubling effect? think of the multiplicity of images. in the early days of photography, it was feared by some to capture the soul. i personally think the soul is more elusive than that. but, do mirrors and photos (which are a mirror of sorts) capture some fragment? something that remains. i don't have the sense of being less for losing those fragments of self, but i do wonder if they carry on parallel life over there in the mirror. a reality that, while different from the one i have here in the world that is not in the mirror, is a reality nonetheless.

how do those mirror selves fill their time? do they have entire lives going on beyond the glass? can they move beyond the confines of the mirror's frame? or do they wait there for you to return? i have this feeling that it's a bit like i think it is with my dream world--another life or lives going on over there entirely. because once you've left the fragment behind, you lose control of it. it separates and goes on to its own existence. you and yet not you.

is time the same over there in that mirror? or does it stand still--for example, the fragment of self you leave in a hotel room mirror, where you won't return to, do you age, or do you remain the age you left in that reflection? in your home mirrors, time must move at more or less the same speed as it does in this space, because there are so many new versions of you that you leave in those mirrors.

do you suppose it would be possible, if one were wearing the right lenses or was in the right frame of mind, to catch a glimpse of all of the people who have ever looked in that mirror? so the antique mirror we have in the hall would contain all of the people who looked in it before us and we would be shocked at how many people were there if we could just get our focus right and see them. i would really love to be able to do that, if only to see what they were wearing.

can you tell i'm reading murakami again? this time it's after dark.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

slow saturday

i'm a bit slow today. got home a bit late after a nice dinner and chatting all evening with a friend. oh, and a few too many glasses of wine. so i'm decidedly in slow motion. we were supposed to head to istanbul today. i should be on a plane right now. but husband has meetings at work next week that he feels he can't miss. sabin and i could have gone anyway, but it took the fun out of it that husband wasn't going, so we stayed home too. it's the autumn holiday next week, so sabin doesn't doesn't have school. we'll have to find fun things to do...museums, the halloween extravaganza at tivoli, long walks and taking lots of pictures.  because yesterday, i got this:

i'm excited to take more "real" TtV pix with it. it's a rolleicord from the early 50s. i'm really excited about TLR cameras and in addition to the TtV thing, i'm going to load in some of that expired 120 film i got at the flea market.

husband says i should pick one or two of my hobbies and devote time to them and try to get into them properly. he's no doubt right. i think photography is definitely one to devote a bit more time to and i'm going to look for groups of like-minded photography people in my area (rather than hanging out on the 'net all the time). and i do still want to learn to knit. and then there is the pretty paper. how do you decide what hobby to devote your time to? should i really have to choose? so many things appeal--sewing, gocco, art journaling, painting, photography. i just bought a book about embroidery. i feel such a need for creativity, but husband is right, i am spreading it all quite thin and not properly devoting myself to any of it. except perhaps the photos. it was quite fun to lie on the ground, playing with my macro lens and get these pictures of some mushrooms that were poking their little heads up through the bricks in the circle today.

and with my brain on the slow motion setting today, these musings are MUCH better than thinking about that ridiculous campaign going on in the US. that just makes my brain hurt.

Friday, October 10, 2008

we likey the linkies

i have lots of things on my mind this morning. everything from the latest sarah palin-enduced madness (more about that in a minute) to the nobel prize for literature (more about that too) to iceland's collapse (i wonder if that means a big sale at magasin du nord?) to my new mac paint pots in constructivist (love the 1913 russian connotation of that) and blackground to going out for drinks & dinner with a good friend this evening to finding a cafe to settle down in to write this afternoon (i need a change of scenery) to TtV photos and macro lenses (more about that in a minute as well) to twitter (it's such fun--like mini-blogging) to a fabulous sandwich i just invented--tuna salad with roasted garlic pepper on a wholesome wasa cracker that's smeared with creamy danish blue cheese, to sitting down and learning to knit in earnest.  and that's an awful lot to think about on a friday morning.

i read this morning in information (the intellectual danish newspaper) that a former bush campaign guy (castellanos--guy who did his campaign ads and is now a commentator on CNN) says that sarah palin is the future of the republican party. i had heard it on BBC World the other day as well, but had blocked it out (the mind has a wonderful way of doing that with things it can't comprehend).  i don't actually know whether to laugh or cry. in a way, it's excellent, as it undoubtedly spells doom for the republicans. but mostly, it's a totally worrying development. if she is really the future then the world is in big trouble. or perhaps we are simply witnessing the decline of the american empire. i suppose it was similar in the twilight hours of the roman empire as well...watching a great power fade into if not obscurity, at least utter irrelevance at the hands of idiots. our leaders should have the cultural capital to lead and this woman so lacks in every way that it leaves me both breathless and speechless. i can only say that this morning's sorted book stack, which positively leapt off the shelves at me, expresses it better than i can.

so my thoughts moved on to the nobel prize for literature (which has nothing to do with the flower above, i just liked that picture). the swedish academy announced yesterday that they had chosen some obscure french guy, Le Clézio. what's interesting about it isn't that they chose some obscure writer no one had ever heard of or at least who hadn't really been heard of/from in years (they almost always do that), but more the hoopla surrounding comments made by horace engdahl, permanent secretary of the swedish academy, a few weeks ago about how the prize would not be awarded to an american because american literature is too isolated and insular. huh? tho' i have never been a big aficionado of american literature, i think some good stuff has come out of the US that would surely be nobel-worthy--think philip roth, paul auster, joyce carol oates and perhaps someone like jonathan franzen down the road, depending on what else he produces. but to call these writers isolated and insular and to actually say that they have an "ignorance that's restraining" is totally absurd. however, my choice would also be a non-american--murakami, murakami, murakami! strangely, the swedish academy did not consult me.

so, moving on...

my TtV contraption. 

it's a wonderful fall day outside, so i wandered the yard with my camera(s), played a bit with my macro lens and the old camera i got for TtV photography. i'm still experimenting, but got this shot of the fading hydrangea:

i do really, really adore the shape of my viewfinder on the old ideal. i am, however, going to be on the lookout for other options in the antique stores.

on that note, i will make my way into the city, find a café to settle into (without wireless, since the 'net is my whole problem) and try to get some work done.  i wish you all a lovely and relaxing weekend.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

shooting fish in a barrel

you must read thomas friedman's column from today's NYT.

go, do it now, what are you waiting for?

contemplations in the aura of a headache

as the aura of my headache fades, i find myself thinking about the online art journaling course i've been taking. i'm a little behind, but have taken to traveling with a mini-stash of goodies to use to work on it while i'm in the solitude of my hotel rooms around the world. what i like about it is that it's all inspiration and no pressure. unlike an online scrapping course i signed up for thru SISTv . lots of pressure and really just NOISE there and that was a big turnoff, which caused me to drop off after the first couple of tutorials--i just haven't made time to go back to it and don't actually plan to and i'm definitely not submitting anything.

in contrast, rachel has done an excellent job of offering great journaling prompts and inspiring examples and then giving time and space to fit the assignments into your own life. it's been just excellent and as a result, i actually signed up for all three in her series.  they've been just what i needed to both be creative and try to live in and be aware of the present moment.

the prompts have been inspiring in their simplicity. things like making a list (which we know i love) that starts with "keep it interesting..." and "i want..." and "i need more..." and "currently loving..." very grounded things that help both to focus forward and to honestly take a look at where i am right now. it's felt healthy and has been a great thing to do with the time i have alone in the evenings in hotels. it has made it much less lonely.

one of the ones that i haven't done yet, but have thought about a lot was a prompt to look at things that were said to you in childhood which have shaped the way you behave today. some of my thoughts on that went into the list i did on monday. but in general, i've been thinking about the place of my personal history in the present of my life. i've been thinking about since i read an article in a 3-day-old danish newspaper in the thai lounge in singapore a few week ago. it was by poul høi, the best danish reporter writing today. he had visited midland, texas to try to get to the bottom of what has made george bush who he is. i started wondering then what the small town i grew up in would say about me. i spent the first 18 years of my life there, so it surely shaped me (for better or worse).

i know that one thing it did was make me care what people think. when you grow up in a small town, you're dependent on the opinion of those around you. they all know you. it was impossible to go astray--no skipping school or anything like that, because someone would see you and ask your folks why you weren't in school that day. so, i guess it made me basically a good kid--i didn't step too far out of line and while i wasn't valedictorian of my class (my high school boyfriend was that), i did ok and went off to college and such. because that was the other message--education is important. that may be why i collected SEVERAL degrees before i went out into the real world and got a job.

but what we do and where we spend time continues to shape us and shape people's opinions of us even after we're (ostensibly) grown up. in my current job, my previous job carries great cachet and i'm still defined by it (in a good way, luckily), despite not having been IN that job anymore for nearly a year! i'm actually perceived as someone special for having had my previous job. i shudder to think of what it would be like if it had been a liability! in a way, i'm a bit branded for life by it, at least as long as i stay in the industry i'm in.  and of course the job DID shape me and teach me a lot and much of it was positive, so in a way, it is a valid judgement. sometimes it bothers me a bit tho', because i feel that i'm MORE than just that person who had that job and i have to fight sometimes to prove that and to stand as me in the here and now and not with one foot in the past. but perhaps that's just life. we're shaped by our experiences and can never really escape from that...