Monday, August 31, 2015

resisting fundamentalism

amber waves of grain in denmark, but it could just as easily have been taken in south dakota
with the child away at boarding school this year and with plans for her to go to high school in my little hometown in the states next year, we are easing back into the life of an adult couple around here. we're less likely to eat dinner at a specific time, we watch netflix or hbo nordic until midnight, we sit in the garden and have deep philosophical discussions, or lie on the trampoline and stare at the sky, we spontaneously decide to go out to dinner. we do miss her, but it continues to be ok in our minds that she's moving on to the next step. plus, without her around, there's no one plaguing us to build a pool.

it might be different next year when she's an ocean away, rather than just 30 minutes. i also worry about how religious that little town i grew up in has become. yes, there were always 12 churches, but it seems that aggressive christianity is just so much more pervasive than when i was a kid. even in the answers given to reporters for stories like this one. such a tragic and yet heartwarming story and yet they had to go all jesus at the end. i worry about that. i see it as a symptom of fundamentalism no less heinous than that purveyed by the taliban and isis. 

in denmark, some immigrants talk about sending their children back to their home country for genopdragelse - or "re-raising." this, in most instances, means back to pakistan or turkey to learn the old ways and be more in touch with their native religion. in my case, while i want sabin to learn more of where she comes from and how much her grandfather meant to the community, i do not want her to be steeped in religion while she's there. i love the secular life we lead in denmark. i love that what people believe is personal and private and not flashed in everyone's face all of the time; you don't have to participate in religious rituals to be considered a good member of society. i love that the child wisely said, in choosing to be baptised and confirmed, that you can be interested in god without believing in god. in denmark, there are even ministers who admit they don't believe. that would never fly in small town south dakota.

i am confident that sabin is a strong person with a good head on her shoulders. she has a quality where she is able to float above the fray without being snooty or arrogant. she seems at once grounded and above it all, which is a delicate balance to strike and i don't think it's something you can learn (i certainly don't have it), i think it's something you must have in you innately. i'm hoping it gets her through the year in a community where the aggressive, fundamentalist christianity of the local youth group forces the young people to hammer hundreds of nails into a cross to represent their many sins. talk about a need for genopdragelse...

my cousin, who she's going to stay with while she's there, isn't like that, but it may be hard to resist when the social life in the little town is steeped in religion. i understand that they may have forgotten some of the separation of church and state mandated by the constitution - with ministers speaking at graduation and prayers at the sports ball games. we'll have to see what can be done about those things, without placing the child in the middle of a fight. we simply have to be vigilant against fundamentalism in all of its incarnations if we're to stop this downward spiral the world is on...maybe we have to do that right here, in our own backyards, just by beginning to question it and not just accepting it when it's shoved down our throats. it must be possible for a community to rally around an orphaned young man without bringing god into it.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

the view from sunday night

some time spent with sharpies. as a person who is utterly unable to sit down and meditate, the adult coloring books are the next best thing. precisely what i needed late friday afternoon.

frieda, with her eye on a bird out the window. she brought in two live ones, one dead and also released a live mouse in the house. she's very thoughtful and so hopes that pretty soon we'll catch on ourselves and she'll have to stop working so hard.

on saturday, betty went her new home with a young girl who appreciates her. it's always good to know you've found a good home for the horse. with the child away at efterskole, we decided we'd go out for dinner. we tried the newly renovated kro in billund and it was brilliant. totally unexpected for billund, but they have apparently hired a real chef and they made truly delicious, exciting, innovative food that delighted us and made us think and prompted conversation. this photo above, however, is our sunday night dinner at home - steak & halloumi tacos using authentic corn tortillas from the mexican food truck that now comes guessed it...billund (it's like billund is almost a real place now) on thursdays. with mild temps and some sunshine, and a whole afternoon moving hostas (20 of them), i feel rejuvenated by the weekend. and maybe just a small bit of that spark i've been missing is creeping back in.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

writing my way back to myself

i feel that facebook is sucking the life out of me. it steals my time, it steals my sleep, it bores me, it infuriates me, it exposes me to horrible things (like that live on-air shooting of the poor t.v. reporter in virginia) that i wish i hadn't seen (see also all coverage of donald trump). it makes me feel passive aggressive. it keeps me indoors when i should be outdoors. it never lets me be alone with my thoughts. it stops me from writing here in this space (which my sanity misses very much). or seeking inspiration about things to write about here. in short, i think it's really bad for me. and yet i go back again and again. out of habit. for the social interaction with friends who are far away, for the laughs, for the cat videos and the buzzfeed quizzes and the oatmeal and humans of new york

and not writing often enough in this space leaves my brain and perhaps even my soul, feeling congested. it's not only facebook, but also the constant holding pattern i feel i've been in for the whole of this year. eternally waiting to see what might be next. i used to love the liminal space, for what i perceived as the vastness of the possibilities contained within it. but these days, it gives me a kind of powerless feeling, a paralysis. i am unable to fill the waiting with much of anything productive (i pin prolifically on pinterest, but don't make anything). and it seems that all of the gargantuan efforts that i put forward towards moving out of the liminal space are stymied again and again and i am forced back into the waiting position. and i'll admit i feel a bit lost, like i'm wandering in the labyrinth of the liminal space and i can't find my way - neither to the center, nor out again. and it's an uncomfortable place to be. 

which all sounds pretty morbid, i realize. i don't think i knew how morbid i actually felt until the words came out here onto the page (hence that congested feeling). and i do get through my days feeling reasonably happy - finding joy in a visit from an inspiring friend, picking vegetables from the garden for dinner, taking photos of minifigs, finding vintage burberry items for the child on eBay, watching battlestar galactica (again, again) with husband. it's not a joyless life, by any means. but i would like to have some of the spark back, the spark that feels so dim in the midst of all of this waiting. i don't feel it's gone out, but it could definitely use a breath of fresh air to fan it into a stronger, bright, warm flame again. 

maybe finally writing again here will help. that and some time away from facebook. 

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great article in rolling stone on the republican clown car.

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if you need a laugh, this guy from mashable who dressed like prince george for a week will do it.

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dang. harper lee's lawyer is definitely of the shadier sort.

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feeling stressed? here's a cat purr generator for those times when your cat isn't handy.

Friday, August 21, 2015

an exercise in not liking

i read this article yesterday on medium about stopping with all of the likes on facebook and i decided to try it. just a few hours in, i already accidentally liked something out of habit and had a whole lot more meaningful comment-based interaction on facebook. and i can tell you that it's hard not to press that like button. it's the nod of the virtual world. it's how we acknowledge that we've seen something and read it and agree with it. it's the easy solution. it stops us from having a meaningful or longer conversation, or at least lets us off the hook from that. i'm hoping it gets easier as it goes along. and i'm hoping that it results in a better news feed, tho' i admit to worries that the wonderful humans of new york posts will disappear from my feed if i don't constantly "like" them. that said, there is something that feels virtuous about resisting the tyranny of the gods of facebook by refusing to use their like button.

you may have noticed that these feeding the dino pictures don't really have anything to do with this post, i just like them.

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have you checked out the book block kickstarter yet?
bespoke journals with my own artwork? yes, please!
it's like moo cards, but with pretty blank pages!

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i love stories like this one, with rumors of nazi gold.
and like this one (a decade old),
about the disappearance of the amber room from the catherine palace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

personalized journal

there's a new journal-maker coming to the interwebs. they're called book block and their kickstarter opens tomorrow. the cool bit about them is that they take your artwork or photo and make a personalized journal that's truly yours. they emailed to ask if i'd be interested in making one and in blogging about it. and being a bit of a journal junkie, i couldn't say no. but, i'm having trouble deciding what photo i want on my cover. do i go with minifigs for fun? something from the garden? cats? do i scan some of the coloring book pages i've done and use one of those? i really can't decide. what would you put on your own personal one-of-a-kind journal?

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here's haruki murakami's desk.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

snippets from a sunday afternoon

i saved the link to this guardian piece, nothing prepares you for being the daughter of ageing parents a few weeks ago. but it took me awhile to bring myself to read it. there are surely a multitude of reasons why i would avoid reading it. guilt over not talking to my mom often enough. guilt that i'm so far away and all of the burden falls on my sister. sorrow over my dad's death. dread that the article would hit a little too close to home. the realization that my one remaining parent's ageing is matched by my own. the inevitability of it all. and reading it at last this morning was all of that and more, what with it being a tale of the horrors of modern hospital care as well. thankfully, we didn't experience that with dad's short hospitalization, the room was private, the personnel quiet and kind and very responsive to our needs. but it is a question for all of us...what kind of life do we want to live, all the way to the end of it? and will the world we've created for ourselves allow it?

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there's a teeny tiny little frog on the floor. he's admiring the chickens and fox on the kitchen island. we're so glad we did this. a friend of ours is an artist and we asked her to paint chickens on our kitchen island as a feature. when she was almost finished, we asked if it wouldn't be fun to include a fox as well. and it made all of the difference! all of the chickens are done from photos of our own that we've had over the years. well, until the fox took them all.  and the fox, it's ours too, from one of my photos of it a couple of summers ago when it was hanging around. we haven't seen it at close range this year, tho' i did see it at the end of the pasture the other day. i'm not sure it's that same one or if it's a different one. but i'm so pleased with the version christina painted - it has precisely the right amount of mischief.

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facebook is once again bringing out the worst passive aggressive tendencies in me. or at least thoughts of them. it's apparently a thing at the moment, among the more religious set, to have one line posts extolling the virtues of god. things like, "god is good." "god is real." and other fantasies. and it's making me want to post things like, "god is fiction." "god was made up by a bunch of old white guys who wanted to secure their power." or maybe something like, "odin rocks." "thor is the man." but to be honest, i don't want to be involved at all. i don't want to be subjected to such nonsense and i don't really want to participate in it. i don't want to feel passive aggressive. i don't mind what others believe, i just think that belief is something private that shouldn't be shoved in everyone else's face on facebook or billboards or anywhere else. can't we all just quietly believe what we believe?

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what are you binge watching these days? me, i'm watching masters of sex, the drama based on the lives of masters and johnson and their pioneering study of sexuality. i'm well into season 2 and already dreading when i run out of episodes. husband and i also rewatching battlestar galactica. speaking of religion, husband would join a church of battlestar galactica if it existed. he's convinced that adama is god. to the point where i could imagine him saying "adama dammit" under his breath if he hits his thumb with a hammer. it is a well-written and rather deep series and it does hold up to a second, in-depth watching.

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we made it through our first childless week. the child loves her new school, but all that she was apparently missing was snacks, so we delivered some on friday evening and husband did a quick fix of her bicycle. it is quieter around here, but i can't say that we're in mourning over it. it just continues to feel right that she's taken the next step on her journey to growing up. and us? despite many people asking about it, we haven't been running around the house naked. there were a few sunny days this week, but frankly it's never really warm enough for that. 

the horse interlude is ending...for now

we've put the girls up for sale. it's sad that they just stand out in the pasture, swishing their tails at flies and aren't being used. we don't really have a place to properly ride and with the child away at efterskole, and the fact that she lost interest anyway, it just doesn't make sense to keep them. i made an ad with both of them in it, hoping to find someone who wants both of them, as they are good buddies and would miss one another. i'm hopeful that we found that today, but we'll see. if there's one thing i've learned, it's that danish horse people are much crazier than american ones. or maybe just crazy in a different way. i feel a little wistful about it, but there are other horses and someday, we'll have time and a proper arena to ride in and we'll get horses again.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

on the dangers of running

every summer, around denmark workplaces send their employees to a dhl relay race. 4-member teams each run 5k, there is food and drink and festivities and it's all a fun time with colleagues. i signed up 15 years ago and ended up having husband run in my place since i found myself pregnant with twins. i got talked into it last year, but backed out, because, well...running. in front of people. not my cup of tea. plus, i have a weird heel problem. for reals.

the wife one of husband's colleagues ran the race the other day. during the 5k, she collapsed. her heart stopped. for a whole ten minutes, but they managed to revive her. and then they discovered that her spleen had burst and there was a great deal of internal bleeding. and they put her in an artificial coma, but the bleeding and the being dead for ten minutes caught up with her. and she didn't make it. and although i didn't know her, i can't stop thinking about her. in her mid-40s, three lovely children and a husband. and now she's gone. and all because of a 5k.

Monday, August 10, 2015

living like vikings

every summer, there are viking markets here and there around denmark. people who use their summer holidays dressing up and living like vikings. cooking in iron pots over open fires. sleeping on piles of wooly sheepskins, weaving with hand-dyed yarns. drinking mead. i'm always a little envious.

and it seems that now you can go to school to learn to be a viking! (thanks E for the link!)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

the next stage begins

slightly dark iPhone photo of her room.

we dropped the child off at her efterskole today. it's a boarding school about a half an hour away, where she, along with 199 other 9th and mostly 10th graders, will focus on academics and gymnastics for the next school year. she was packing for days and was very much looking forward to going. i think the only thing she's worried about is missing her friends, but she made sure she spent loads of time with them over the past few weeks and it's not like she isn't still in a group chat or two with them.

we helped her unpack her things into a single small cupboard and make up her single bed in her 3-person dorm room. the other girls and their parents were there doing the same and there wasn't much chat between us, but that's typical in denmark. i think they were probably freaked that we were speaking english, which sabin and i always do and that made them hold back even more than usual. her roommates seemed like sweet girls, so i'm sure she's going to be fine.

they gave the parents quite a stern lecture about allowing their young people the freedom to unfold and truly experience life at school and not text them all the time and expect them to come home every weekend. i didn't really feel that the lecture applied to us as sabin's parents, since we have been known to leave her unattended in the country (just for a few hours when our flight paths crossed) or to put her on an 8-hour plane ride by herself or let her take the train to copenhagen for the weekend to visit friends or go off to italy with a friend on summer holiday. we're not clingy parents and have spent her first 14 years preparing her for this day.

looking around the room, there were parents (mostly mothers) with tears in their eyes at the prospect of letting go of little anders and little camilla, but i didn't feel sad, what i mostly felt was excited for her. i think i've said it before, but it feels like the next step. it's what she should be doing. getting very into her interest (gymnastics) and working on it intensively with the support of talented teachers/coaches. learning how to buckle down and study. learning to rely on herself and find her own inner strength. figuring out who she is and who she wants to be. we've given her a strong foundation, she's a good kid and she's going to have a n awesome year.

it will be a bit quieter around here, but we'll be ok. and so will she.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

yes, i am still alive!

this is a photo of the funky custom wallpaper at the charming pyjama park hotel in hamburg. it's got all kinds of stuff going on on it, so it felt appropriate after my long silence. we've had lots of summer activities going on. a wedding to attend, friends to hang out with, a school shopping trip to germany, getting the child prepared for boarding school (she leaves on sunday!), she's got the new macbook in gold and she's over the moon. we still haven't had much summer here in denmark and we nearly melted from only 32°C in hamburg the other day. we're just not used to the heat after our dismal, cold, rainy summer! they promise some warm days are coming our way, but i'll believe it when i see it. i promise a proper post soon, but in the meantime, there are some good links below.

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an interesting post on the blurring of lines between content and advertising in podcasts.
and an opinion piece as well, that continues the musings.

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are you fucking kidding me?
how ridiculously tone deaf (and moronic) is phil gramm?
ceos as the oppressed in society? give. me. a. break.

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i saw a different version of this list that didn't leave north dakota out.
instead it said that south dakota had told north dakota that the bar meet-up was next week.
i'll admit that made me laugh out loud.
go on, click through and see what your state would be like if it were hanging out in a bar.

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need to shake up your photo mojo? here are some great ideas.
thank you to bill for the link!

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a sobering analysis of the current state of american politics.

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listen to this week's this american life.
it's important. i'm shocked and appalled at the rampant racism in the country of my birth.