Archive for the ‘Sweden’ Category

…och du blir vad du var…

September 9, 2012

Skärgård, skärgård! Skog! Nedsjunkande sol! Mörka jorden var grönrosa och lysande havet var blålila; så väckert är landet från luften! Det här är hur landet skulle se ut från en gåsrygg, tycker jag, leende. Vi närmar oss jorden och snart syns röda stugor igenom där nere i skogstäckta fjärran. Ja, det där var ju Sverige där nere, och den ser ut det samma som det har alltid gjört. Flygplanet lander om några minuter. Då får man andas.

Once the flight attendant begins to speak again in French, my half fantasy is shattered on the back of her throat. I turn off my ears because I can guess what she’s saying. Even if I fail to understand, my brain fills in the blanks in characteristic francoswenglish: Mina damer och herrar, ve are nu approaching votre finale destination, Stockholm, Sveeeden, i.e. Suede. If it would please you to return to your seats and fasten your säkerhetsbälten, tack, merci!

Arlanda surges up beneath the wheels of the plane. Going back to a place after so long, one cannot help but wonder if it will be the same. Raining in Malmö, crying in the Cophenhagen airport. Så mycket har ju ändrat sedan jag var här sist, så mycket har ju gått förbi! Has the place changed, really? A returning traveler wonders. Or has the place has changed simply because I have?

My friend meets me at the gate. Soon I’m enveloped in a massive hug, and all doubts melt away.

I can report, that at least to the first order: Sweden is the same. Of course it is really all more complicated, but rest assured: People still eat Keso and pancakes for dinner, train rullskidor and Nordic walking on forest roads, and hug each other upon greeting but yet refuse to speak to each other on public transportation. Everything is on the same shelf you would expect it to be on in the grocery store. It rains soft grey rain. And when it doesn’t rain, the northern sun is its innocent, watery self.

Just two days later, I left Sweden with a bag full of saltsill and ett hjärta fylld återigen med glädje. As plane took off, I watched the sun sink over the archipelago and looked for the islands I had been on; all of them looked the same from the air, dark and amorphous spots on the bluelilac beaming ocean.

But the thing most remarkable about all of this was that when I returned to Geneva (passed under the bizarre George Clooney espresso advertisement at the airport, walked by the window with the 30,000 CHF Omega watches, boarded the bus into town, hopped off at Cornanvin and walked the empty streets) it felt, strangely, unexpectedly, like home.

How lucky am I, to have so many homes?

Armchair Tranströmer: Från Mars -79

March 25, 2012

From March 2011, Ca-al-li-for-orn-ia

A bit of a silence here, you may have noticed. Calm before the storm, you may have guessed–and you would have guessed right. Let’s just say: PhysicsLand, reprise, Tuesday. Go.

Before all that, before the rush of an April in colder air, there’s this: I wanted to translate my first and favorite Tranströmer, lest March should pass and I should neglect to share it. Here it is, from the book “Det Vilda Torget, ” translated as well as the original.

From March -79

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-coverd island.
The wilderness has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out in every direction!
I come across the tracks of a deer in the snow.
Language but no words.

Från Mars -79

Trött på alla som kommer med ord, ord men inget språk
for jag till den snötäckta ön.
Det vilda har inga ord.
De oskrivna sidorna breder ut sig åt alla håll!
Jag stöter på spåren av rådjursklövar i snön.
Språk men inga ord.

Armchair Linguistics: Tranströmer

February 25, 2012

I have a book of Tranströmer, untranslated. I got it in the mail. I thought, this should be interesting. I thought, why not? So here comes one. Oh, and let me know if something doesn’t, erm, make sense.

Prelude, from “17 Poems”

Waking up is a skydive from dreaming.
Free from a choking whirl sinks
the traveler, toward the morning’s green zone.
Things flame up. He recognizes- from the
trilling lark’s vantage – the noble systems of treeroots,
their underground swaying lamps. But above ground
there is- in a tropical flood – greenness, with
lifted arms, listening
to the rhythm of an invisible pump. And he
sinks towards the summer, slipping down 
into its bright craters, down
through shafts of greendamp ages
trembling under the sun’s turbine. So it is halted
this vertical journey through the moment and the wings
spread out to the osprey’s perch over rushing water.
The Bronze Age Trumpet’s
outcast tone
hangs over the abyss.
In the day’s first hours consciousness understands the world
just as the hand grips a sunwarmed stone.
The traveler stands beneath the tree. Shall,
after the crash through the whirl of death,
a great light unfold over his head?
Uppvaknandet är ett fallskärmshopp från drömmen.
Fri från den kvävande virveln sjunker
resenären mot morgonens gröna zon.
Tingen flammar upp. Han förnimmer – i dallrande lärkans
position – de mäktiga trädrotsystemens
underjordiskt svängande lampor. Men ovan jord
står – i tropiskt flöde – grönskan, med
lyftade armar, lyssnande
till rytmen från ett osynligt pumpverk. Och han
sjunker mot sommaren, firas ned
i dess bländade krater, ned
genom schakt av grönfuktiga åldrar
skälvande under solturbinen. Så hejdas
denna lodräta färd genom ögonblicket och vingarna breddas
till fiskgjusens vila över ett strömmande vatten.
fredlösa ton
hänger över det bottenlösa.
I dagens första timmar kan medvetandet omfatta världen
som handen griper en solvarm sten.
Resenären står under trädet. Skall,
efter störtningen genom dödens virvel,
ett stort ljus vecklas ut över hans huvud?

Okejdå, Fastlagsbullar

February 22, 2012

varning: may contain svengelska, nostalgi, and poor grammar

För två sedan (var det sååå länge sedan?!) kom jag på att det vore kul att översätta Semlor receptet till engelska, eftersom jag lyckade inte hitta en bra och enkel version på nättet. Jag och några kompisar hade nyss lagat hembakat semlor och så tog jag receptet vi hade använt och skissade ut det så bra som jag kunde på amerikansk engelska. Det var faktist första riktiga ‘sv–>en’ översättningen jag hade försökt.*

Nyfiken? Hittar du receptet här 🙂

Nu har två år gått förbi: jag bor såklart inte längre i Sverige och har själv inte ens ätit en semla i år… men ändå är detta recept som jag översatte i 2010 bloggens mest besökta inlägg…of all time.  Jag får kolla statistiken och det står att 68 hungriga och semla-på-engelska-sökande själar har tittat på just detta inlägg under de senaste dagar! Det kanske inte verkar vara så mycket egentligen, men, trust me, 68 personer räknar som massor när det gäller den här liten, liten blogg.

Vad jag blir glad när jag ser att så mycket folk kollar receptet och antagligen bakar sina egna semlor, ändå på engelska! Det kan tyda bara att det är dags resa tillbaka i tiden och baka lite kalifornienska semlor här hemma. Tyvärr är det inte lätt att hitta mandelmassa i USA…men man kan väl försöka!


Translation: It’s Fat Tuesday, so bake some Semlor y’all.

Curious: Find you the recipe here 🙂


*Och så firar jag första översättningen med att lägga upp första inlägget skrivit nästan helt på svenska. Tänkte köra nåt nytt bara, och det högst troligen kommer inte hända igen 😛 Rätta mitt språk om ni vill! Jag var aldrig duktig på grammatiken…

Sverige i Internationella Nyheterna: Drunk Moose

September 9, 2011

 Stackars älg!

Let’s recap Sweden’s forays into the international news over the last year: Princess Victora gets married, Sverigedemokraterna get seats in parliment, aaand moose drunk off fermented apples gets stuck in a tree.

Fermented Apples sure do have a kick to them. A man from Göteborg called the fire brigade after he heard ‘bellowing’ in his backyard. Don’t worry, they rescued to poor creature, who in all honestly, probably just saw winter coming and decided to drown its sorrow in intoxication, just like rest of Sweden was doing. Systembolaget being legally prohibited from selling alcohol to minors or moose (or anyone after 6 PM), the poor creature had no choice but to turn to the apples, which, it discovered, were mighty tasty indeed.


kanske kanske om ja klattrar upp i träden så ska få plocka fler…jaja…det ska jag göra…det blir skitbra det…jaja

Can you blame it, really? Don’t pretend like you prolly wouldn’t a done the saaaame thing.


I’ll come back

March 25, 2011

Cycling  in Irvine is like riding through a ghost town. The constant rush of engines rising from (the) 405 subsists into a mock-silence, and as the sole cyclist on the roads, I get the creeping, post-apocalyptic feeling that I’m the last of my kind. The threat of rain or radiation must have held people indoors today, I think. Really, though, this is how it always is down here. Everything you need is so close but so far. So people drive there, and drive with their windows rolled up. I’m alone for a while  until I cross paths with an old man on a rusty beach cruiser. I fancy him Orange County manifestation of the Mountain Man, lost in another time. Leatherskinned and oilhaired, the vacancy behind his sunglasses suggests no acknowledgment. He rides ahead slowly and his blue flip-flops curl limply over the cruiser’s thick plastic pedals.

A sign planted in the sagebrush landscape across the freeway reads: “Open Space Preserve (The Irvine Company).” The Irvine Company never lets you forget it’s there, or that today is today. I ride up what I think looks like a good hill—only to discover a gated community (None Shall Pass) before the summit. A small notice posted next to the sprinkler head smugly reminds: “Don’t Drink Reclaimed Water.” Frustration, frustration.

Just days ago we were (not, by any means) lost somewhere in the primordial ferns and Jurassic Park forests of Humboldt County. The North, with its wet fields and red houses send me spinning to another North—I didn’t know I could be so moved by the sight of herds of cattle grazing an open field by a rainy ocean. The trees, of course, are bigger. It’s not so simple to judge what is more of a wonder: the regenerative urgency of the thousands of clovers swelling on the forest floor or the behemoth hush of the redwoods having outlived, already, thousands of regenerations of clovers.

The North Coast is so dramatic it has a beach made of colorful glass pebbles. Really they’re just shards of beer bottles smoothed by the ocean, mostly. Some of them must have been Tiffany lamps, priceless vases, and church windows. I’d like to think that the bit of blue glass I found may be from a stained glass window destroyed in a Viking raid or during the sacking of Constantinople. But probably, it’s a blue beer bottle.

Seven hours shooting through the parched middle on the tail of the cerulean aqueduct in its wind through through brown hills and olive farms, and I’m back to The City of Angels, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Irvine, Desert, Mall, Ocean, Sky.

Experiencing the nearly the entire length of California (–coming home–) in a span of three days is quite a trip.

Enklaste Lyckan

February 20, 2011

In the fields I feel like a potato-fingered peasant in an oil painting, oblivious until looking up to where the edge of the un-plowed reeds meets the pine forest threshold, I feel something like wind on my face. Sensing myself teetering on the dangerous edge of romanticism, I focus all my energy on a single carrot shoot and subsequently am reminded that I am, after all, crawling through rows of dirt on my knees.

Weeding is drudgery.

And suddenly, in the fields I feel like a strawberry-picker in California’s Central Valley. The coolness of the air reminds me that, really, I’m not, and instead I’m overcome  by the strangeness of the fact that sort of life I’m in is one where working on a farm was a choice I made for pleasure.

The raspberry bushes on the edge of the fields are loaded with small, white and bitter unripe berries—hardly worth picking—since the branches are unmercifully thorny and interlaced with stinging nettles. I thought the berries just needed time. Sure enough after a night’s rain the bushes are popping red, and nettles be dammed, I soon find myself with a mouthful of fresh raspberries. The indulgence, really, is less in the sweetness and more in childlike fantasies of rural simplicity.

Wierd News: I heart Tycho

December 1, 2010

Apparently :

Tycho Brahe could have been Claudius—and Kepler, a stark mad Luthern with a penchant for planets and possibly murder.

Alchemy was, also, probably involved.

Or, the astronomer’s untimely death could have simply occurred as a result of the all-too-ridiculous act of too much drinking and too little urination. What a pathetic end that would have been, especially after having survived a duel about mathematics in which he lost part of his nose.

The one thing the article gets wrong, though. Tycho was not Danish. He was born in Skåne, making him, like it or not 100% Skåning. And although Hven is technically Danish…we all know these things, like Tycho’s true history, are up for debate.

Från Rilke, med kärlek : From Berkeley, with love

October 10, 2010

I am working on a post about the walkouts at Berkeley.  Somewhat suddenly last Thursday I found myself challenging my professor to answer, in front of the class, as to why we in the Sciences do not stand with the Ethnic Studies and Anthropology and History and Political Sciences departments when they walk out in protest. I thought I already knew the answer. It turns out I only sort of did.

To be filled with ideas and words but not have the time or energy to write them because of a looming Quantum exam is almost as frustrating as being forced to write in essay about something an English teacher told you to write about while all you want to do is analyze semiconductor circuits. The timing always seems to be off.

So no post. Not yet. For now, the words of the German poet (written while he was living in southern Sweden, a mere 10 km from Lund) will have to suffice.  Having recently discovered these letters, and discovering that once, Rilke lived in Skåne, I’ve been reading them between each wave function I calculate. And as it always is with Rilke, it feels as if he is speaking directly to me.

To Clara Rilke, written from Borgeby Gård, Flädie, Skåne, Sweden.

“I am not idle, and there is nothing lazy in me; all sorts
of currents and a stirring that through depth and surface is the
same. A very good stirring. I am not even writing a journal,
just keep hoping to get through all sorts of letters yet to be
written and to read my way through all sorts of books yet to be
read….In spite of all this it seems to me that I am
building; at the invisible, at the most invisible, at some founda-
tion; no that is too much; but that I am breaking ground for
something that is to be erected there sometime; a perfectly in-
conspicuous activity for which day laborers and hod carriers
suffice (one thinks).”

A very good stirring. Like perturbation theory or like forcing nerds to talk about politics and philosophy or finally, finally starting to write.

What Anika learned in Sweden

September 15, 2010

Well, it appears I’ve inspired someone. My Berliner-friend Anika, whom I met while in Lund, decided to write her own list of things she learned in Sweden. Not only that, but she wrote it in (absolutely perfect) English. So, you’ve had the Arielle-in-Sweden perspective, why not take peek at the Anika-in-Sweden one? She’s quite witty, and a good photographer.

Anika’s List