February 28, 2009

Una Carta de Amor

We read a story in Spanish class called "Una Carta de Amor". As always in such classes, we were forced to spend half an hour poring over the glorified stick figure illustrations and 'before you read' questions before we were allowed to start in on the actual story.

The illustration this time was a bunch of people on a bus. We had deduced from the before you read questions that this love letter was written by one regular bus rider to another, and we set about trying to guess who was the stalker and who was the stalked. We had about 60% consensus about who the stalker was - a checker-shirted fellow with messy black hair and glasses in the back row. But who was he stalking?

One of the girls on the bus was a lot prettier than the others. She was my personal pick. But then I got logical and and realized that our stalker-man was looking at the other side of the bus. There were two possibilities on that side: two very average looking girls, one looking very nervous. She became our new best guess. On that side of the bus there was also an obese and quite ugly woman, and behind her a similar looking man.

"I am going to laugh so hard," I said, "If the fat guy is stalking the fat girl."

I was half right. It was Checker-Shirted Man, with the Fat Girl, on the Bus. And the tone the letter takes is interesting, to put it lightly. (My translations here are relatively free)

"Usted no necesita que le aclare que yo no soy lo que se dice un churro, así como yo no necesito que Ud. me diga que no es Miss Universo."
MT: "You don't need me to tell you that I am not what they call a stud, just like I don't need you to tell me that you aren't Miss Universe."

"Si le voy a ser recontrafranco, le confesaré que a mí también me gustan más las delgaditas; tienen no sé qué cosa viboresca y latigosa que a uno lo pone de buen humor y en primavera lo hace relinchar."
MT: "If I am going to be frank, I will confess that I too like the little skinny girls better; they have that... I don't know what... quality that is painful and puts you in a good mood and in the springtime makes you whinny."

"No le tiene miedo a una vejez solitaria? No siente pánico cuando se imagina con treinta años más de gobiernos batillistas, mirándose al espejo y reconociendo sus mismas voluminosas formas de ahora, pero mucho más fofas y esponjosas, con arruguitas y allá, y acaso alún lobanillo estratégico? No sería mejor que para esa época estuviéramosuno junto al otro, leyéndonos los avisos económicos o jugando a la escoba de quince?"
MT: "Aren't you afraid of an old age in solitude? Don't you feel panic when you imagine thirty more years of government unrest, looking at yourself in the mirror and and recognizing your current voluminous form, but worse - spongier, with wrinkles, and perhaps even a disfiguring tumor? Wouldn't it be better to pass through this age together, reading the newspapers or playing card games?"

This story produced outrage throughout the class. I sat back and watched the anger and disbelief unfold.

It was as if they simply could not step back from their own lives enough to understand the letter in the context of who had written it and who it was written to - that these people are perhaps not like them, with their sorority houses and neverending train of parties and games - that they are lonely, probably rather poorly educated, ugly, downtrodden... that they are lonely.

Would my classmates accept such a letter? Of course not. And such a letter would never have been written to them.

Would I accept such a letter? Of course not. And such a letter would never have been written to me.

But if I were she - the 'fat one'... then what? Yes, perhaps I would wish that I had a suitor who was passionate for me, who offered me riches and love and romance. But I haven't had that, ever, and I've been waiting years. Yes, he is almost necessarily harsh with his words. But his honesty is perhaps one of his lesser qualities, just as my weight is one of my lesser qualities, or perhaps it is even a good thing, that I can trust what compliments he does give, and admire his frankness.

Listening to my classmates, I felt like saying, "Don't any of you know any ugly people?" I wondered whether it was just an absolute ignorance like that, or whether yes, they knew them, but even imagining themselves in that position was too difficult.

And... there are also the years to consider. The years, the economic situation, and everything. Can my classmates imagine not only being ugly and maybe even having a personality flaw here and there, but also speeding towards middle age in a world that is not kind, just getting by financially, having to take the bus daily, all possible avenues away from this life being long gone?

I don't know whether to blame it on an overactive imagination, an overdeveloped imagination, or simply on the fact that in small pockets, here and there, I have experienced imperfection... and stood on the border between normal and strange... and standing on that border one sees that those on both sides must live their lives, search for happiness, be human... and cannot keep the wall in their conscious the whole time lest it become too painful.

No, let's pretend instead that this wall is the outer limit of reality, that those beyond are characters in our lives instead of housing their own striving consciousnesses. But I've spent a lot of my life standing on that wall, or even while I was on the normal side so close to it that I could put my back up against it... Enough to understand context and potential, that the world is not everyone's oyster.

I'm willing to be challenged on this, but as for myself, the two pages of Una Carta de Amor said more about humanity than Romeo and Juliet.

February 27, 2009

German Essay

This is an essay I turned in on Wednesday for German class. As an essay, it's not very good. XD Probably has something to do with writing at 2 am after being up for 20 hours straight. Still, I show it mostly to record my current level in German.

The topic is materialism in the United States, and actually, it is my first 'serious' essay in German. All of the others have been 'talk about your day', or, at most, 'write your own fairy tale'.

Sind wir in den USA zu materialische? Vielleicht. Aber ich denke, dass der Materialismus ist nicht eine kulturelle Erscheinung, aber eine allgemeingültige menschliche Veranlagung. Die Leute wollen viele Dinge haben, und also kriegen sie so viele sie können. Für ihnen ist was sie haben nicht so wichtig, wie wie viel sie haben im Vergleich zu der andere in der Gesellschaft. Wann mann über dass denkt, dann scheint es, dass der Materialismus ist nicht nur in den USA.

Es ist natürlich nicht ausnahmslos – es gibt einige egalitäre Gesellschaften, und einige selbstlose Leute – aber als Ganzes denke ich das der Materialismus ist eine allgemeingültige Veranlagung, denn mann kann ihn überall finden. Wenn es gibt Waren, die meiste Leute wollen sie haben. Wenn sie sind in eine Gesellschaft, wo die Leute haben mehr, so denken sie über mehr und wollen mehr. Zum Beispiel, ein Amerikaner kann verarmt sein, und noch ein auto und ein Fernsehen haben. In viele Gesellschaften, solchen Dinge sind nur möglich für die Reiche. In eine arme Gesellschaft, mann kann sich sicher fühlen, und dass es geht ihm dut denken, wenn sie genüg Essen und ein Dach haben. Sie suchen nicht so viele mehr – alle suchen ein bisschen mehr als sie haben, aber nicht so viele mehr. Normalerweise ist es nicht dass sie wollen wenige Dinge aus dem Leben, es ist nur dass was wir haben und denken über ist so weit aus seiner Ehrfahrung, gerade wie Jachten und Diamantarmbanden sie so weit aus die Ehrfahrung der Meiste Amerikaner. Wenn jemand aus einer solcher Gesellschaft kriegt mehr Sachen, normalerweise werden sie weniger und weniger benügt, statt mehr.

Dafür ist es vollständig unfair, die Vereinigten Staaten mit den Entwicklungsländer zu vergleichen. Wenn wir denken nur über Dinge und über den Materialismus, dann mussen wir uns mit Europa vergleichen. Manchmal scheinen wir doch mehr materialische als sie, und sie haben eine ähnliche finanzielle Situation. Es ist möglich dass dies Unterschied ist kulturell. Manchmal kann die Amerikane Kultur das Machstreben und die Profitgier fördern. Der Unterschied zwischen der Armer Leute und der Reicher Leute ist größer hier als in viele europäische Länder, und dass kann mehr Wunsch, Gier, und Materialismus machen.

Es ist vielleicht eine seriöse Meinung dass die Natur der Leute zu gierig und materialische ist. Wenn mann glaubt dass, dann soll er auch dass über Amerikaner denken, weil wir nicht von dieser Schwäche befreit sind. Aber ich denke nicht, dass die Amerikaner sind so grundsätzlich mehr materialisch als die andere Gesellschaften, wenn mann über alles denkt.

February 26, 2009

Spring Rains

Last night it rained hard, and Mayumi slept poorly, and because she slept poorly, so did I. I can sleep through almost anything natural - a side effect of growing up on a tall hill in windy, rainy Missouri :) - but human groaning, moaning, twisting, and turning wakes me up every time.

Then it was warm this morning, or, cool, at least, but warm for winter. My Journalism class let out a little early after the exam, so, since I had a few minutes, I walked over to Flat Branch. It was pregnant with memories, so I kept walking along the stream, under a bridge, and beyond... to where the creek seemed to materialize from a sort of urban spring.

It was beautiful in that gothic, urban sort of way... the the buildings all around, and then this small creek hidden in the crevice. The water was high because of the rains, and murky, and there was trash here and there, but the scene was still surprisingly pristine given the way it was hidden in the middle of downtown. I climbed down the rocks to the edge, and sat on a rock there for awhile, listening to music and not even bothering to take off my backpack, which felt so light and easy.

Then I decided to start picking up trash. In such an environment, it's a bit easier said than done. I'm not sure how easy crossing the stream is in low water, but in high water there were very few possible places to cross, and the other side of the river was covered in leaves and reeds and crumbling rocks, so I had to climb slowly and gingerly to reach the litter on that bank.

Ohne Dich came on my shuffle, and I listened to it, and denied it, although I didn't know who I was talking to. Might as well make it plural, I thought distantly... and cancelled the words of the song with 'Ohne Euch Kann Ich Doch Sein". When Ohne Dich finished, I switched to Enya and watched the stream a bit more. Then I checked the clock and realized that I had 15 minutes to make almost the widest possible cross campus trek, from Flat Branch in the Western part of Downtown to Anheuser Busch in the Southeastern part of Campus. I went quickly.

When I finally got done with all of my engagements and left the library, I happened to be standing beneath a tree when the rain started up again. This particular tree still had it's brown, shriveled fall leaves, and when the rain drops hit, it sounded strange and wonderful, almost exactly like a rainstick. :)

February 24, 2009

No to Nynorsk! XD

I stumbled onto http://www.firdaposten.no/ today. It's a Nynorsk newspaper. I could make it out, of course, but my brain growled at me as if to say, "Learn this, use this, or scram!" I want to learn Nynorsk really bad sometimes. :D But now is not the time. My brain is full enough from working on four languages full time, and Faroese is taking the last scraps that fall, and Finnish is crying, and Italian doesn't even try any more... NO to Nynorsk. XD

One Second

The girl in front of me walks with her long blue jeans swishing together and her high heels knocking the pavement with every step, creating a strangely hypnotic rhythm. Beside us, the wind stirs a pile of leaves laying in an entryway and lifts it into a perfect, spinning ring...

Norwegian Verbs and Essentials of Grammar: One

I am now 35 pages into Norwegian Verbs and Essentials of Grammar, which is the grammar book I wanted to go through along with the my reading list. (Recap: Mio Min Mio, Brødrene Løvehjerte, Ronja Røversdatter, Naiv Super, Fakta om Finland, (possibly another book here?) and Kristin Lavransdatter.)

At 35 pages, I have gone through the introduction and the history of the language, seom of the most notable nynorsk - bokmål differences, ordinary present tense, modal verbs, and about half of past tense. So far it's been review, but a good kind of review that teaches alternate ways to express things here and there, and perhaps even a new word now and then.

The two biggest 'surprises' so far as things that I've actually been wondering about for a while, thanks to German and Faroese. Namely, animate gender pronouns for inanimate objects, and å være used as an auxiliary with past participles.

The answers seem to be:

1.) In Bokmål the pronouns for inanimate ei and en objects is den. In Nynorsk, however, they are ho and han.
2.) Å være can be used roughly when they use sein instead of haben in German. But å ha is always correct, so no reason to worry or bother!

I'm also trying to memorize lines that show off tricky aspects of grammar, etc, but it's hard to memorize lines in isolation, because, you know, you don't remember to remember them! Still, here are some useful ones from the book:

Jeg vil verken svare ja eller nei på det spørsmålet.
I will answer neither yes nor no to that question.
(Cement the verken... eller construction, and the way to say 'to that question'.)
Få i byen torde protestere mot naziestene.
Few in the town dared to protest against the Nazis.
(I didn't really know few, protest, or Nazis... now I do!)
Jeg har måttet arbeide på fabrikk de to siste åra.
I have had to work in a factory for the last two years.
(Learn the har måttet type construciton, no en in på fabrikk, and åra as an alternate form of årene.)

Language Curriculums

I wonder how much similarity there is between the curriculum between different languages, and how close you can get to a perfect curriculum for a single language, and how close you can get to a perfect general curriculum.

No answers or even guesses this time, just questions.

Obviously this would be most appropriate towards the first year or two of study, before you get into more specialized vocabulary.

I'm wondering because in Norwegian for example, I felt like my ability to speak sprang forward quickly because the first thing I learned were the modals. Not all languages have such useful and easy words, but they have ways of expressing some of the same ideas. So I'm wondering if starting with those would always be beneficial.


I need to take some linguistics classes before I get out of here.


Sometimes I forget how little I eat compared to other people. I had about four or five meals worth of curry chicken in my fridge, and I don't want it to go bad before I eat it, so I offered some to Mayumi. I ate a bit last night, and then she took me up on my offer this morning. She took all that was left - it would have made me three or four meals. O.O What could I say? Nothing, of course. But geeze...


I think that their hearts are in the same place as mine, (I guess I can't say the right place, because who am I to say where that is? :D, but I do wish they'd be more careful with their terminology in the Journalism classes here.

Fairness. I can tell from most of what they say that they agree with me - you should use an objective process, try to start out as prejudice and bias free as you can, and then come to the logical conclusion at the end, taking as much data as you have into account. This is idealistic, of course, but it is... idealistic. :D

But then I see a line like,

"Should we have to be fair to terrorists?"

My answer is, "What? Yes, of course!"

The current, strong American fear of terrorism aside, it's not that I like them any more than anyone else. But then I realize that here they are using fair to describe the end product. To me, that isn't fairness.

In this situation, for me:

Innapropriately trying to avoid 'bias' at all costs, 'being fair' as the question asks:
Supporting the terrorist, presenting their techniques are equally valid, etc, in spite of any sort of evidence or ordinary human feelings towards the subject.

Appropriately trying to avoid 'bias' in the process, not in the conclusion, as I believe the class is trying to teach us:
Fairly and objectively looking at all the evidence to determine whether or not the -person- is, in fact, a terrorist. Then, look at and try to understand their reasons for doing what they did. This needn't, and shouldn't, justify it, but reasons are just as important as hard facts.

For me, this second is what I think of when I hear 'fair'. 'Fair' means equal chance, equal beginning, before inspection of evidence. It does not mean an unwavering commitment to being completely nonpartisan even after the evidence is examined. Even non partial judges JUDGE! As a journalist, you probably shouldn't, depending on your arena, do the actual judging yourself. But no one expects you to straddle both sides without expressing any sort of feeling, or trying to keep two things balanced when they are not balanced. Sometimes the truth is inequality.

First AMG Participation

Hey folks. Latin and Italian are two different languages. The difference between them is significant in both meanings of that word.

That aside, the meeting at Hickman went well, I thought. Four of us from AMG (I love how I became a member Friday, and haven't even been sworn in yet, but I'm already participating) went and met with the language department at a nearby high school and we decided to give powerpoint presentations to inspire the students there to continue with foreign language study.

I felt a little uncomfortable because the Latin teacher looked straight at me and said, "I need to convince my students that they haven't made a mistake. I try to tell them, but it doesn't mean much coming from me." How do I say that I regret taking Latin... not sincerely or painfully, but that if I had it to do over again, I probably would have taken German for the 6 years and Latin for the 3?

Otherwise it looks good. And I got to know Stephanie (the president) a little better, and this guy named Ben who likes languages. :D So it was productive and good, and I plan to help with the presentations as well.

I had to get up early, early for all of that, before the sun rose, and it's been a while since I've done that. And it's creepy to get up in the dark, prepare a bit of oatmeal, cross an empty campus as the first light of dawn creeps over the horizon, attend a meeting in a high school as bleary-eyed kids wander around and the sun rises, then come back to my dorm room a full hour or two before I normally wake up. The campus is still empty, and it's a bit ironic that I'm actually going to have more time to study for my 11 o'clock exam this way.

Things are busy right now. Schedule for today:

7:00 - Meet at Starbucks to go to Hickman meeting
11:00 - Journalism exam
12:30 - Government lecture
15:30 - Meet with my German project group
17:00 - AMG Meeting
20:00 - Racquetball

February 23, 2009

Brødrene Løvehjerte: Update One

In the opening pages of Brødrene Løvehjerte it became clear that this book would be just as genre confused as Mio Min Mio, which is to say that were it a human, it would probably have some serious gender identity issues.

"Det er nesten som et eventyr, syns jeg, og litt som en spøkelseshistorie også. Og likevel er det sant alt sammen. Men det vet nok ingen andre enn Jonatan og jeg."

My translation: "It is almost like an adventure, I think, and a little like a ghost story too. And just the same it is all true. But no one knows it except for Jonathan and I."

I am now five chapters in. So far, I am struck by the similarities with Mio Min Mio. I'll talk about those at the end. But first, a recap of what I have read so far.

A young boy starts off narrating. He wants to tell us about his brother. Okay, so the narrator's name is Karl, and he is dying. He lives with his mother and brother in a small apartment. His father went off to sea when they were young and never returned, and every night their mother sings about him and about him returning to her after death in the form of a snow white dove. (A really sad song).

And now Karl is dying too, but at least Jonatan is perfect, almost "som en eventyr-prins" - "Like a fantasy prince". Everyone thinks so, and everyone pities Karl who has crooked legs and coughs all the time and is wasting away. But Karl doesn't know that he is actually dying, not until here in this chapter, when he overhears someone saying it. And then -

"Jeg ble lei meg, naturligvis, og så forferdelig redd, og det ville jeg ikke at mor skulle se. Men jeg snakker med Jonatan om det da han kom hjem.
"Vet du om at jeg skal dø?" sa jeg og gråt.
Jonatan tenkte seg om en liten stund. Han hadde kanskje ikke lyst til å svare, men til slutt sa han, "ja, det vet jeg."
Da gråt jeg enda mer."

My translation:

"I was upset, naturally, and so frightfully afraid, and I didn't want mother to see. But I spoke with Jonathan about it when he came home.
"Do you know that I shall die?" I said and cried.
Jonathan thought for a moment. He perhaps didn't want to answer, but finally he said, "Yes, I know."
Then I cried even more."

In other words, a very cheery beginning to the story. But don't worry, it gets much worse before the next chapter is over. :D We're still in chapter one, though, and Jonathan tells Karl, who he calls Kavring, that it's not so bad to die, because when you die, you go to Nangijala. Now this is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's distinctly non Christian. Not saying that I expect Scandinavian books to be strongly Christian, but it's not frightfully common for older, western Children's literature to fly so strongly in Christianity's face. Another reason is - why does Jonathan know about Nangijala, and no one else? I could split this last into a few more, but you'll probably think of them yourself if you ponder it for a moment. Karl isn't instantly comforted, I'm not sure he believes in Nangijala 100%. Jonathan is up with him late into the night, telling him all about Nangijala and how beautiful and exciting it is, that people can have adventures night and day.

Then chapter two, which begins very ominously, having read the previous chapter.

"Nå kommer jeg til det vonde. Det som jeg ikke orker å tenke på."

MT: "Now I am coming to the painful part. The part I can't bear to think about."

My thoughts at this juncture: In chapter one, we had a poor, miserable family of three, a lost at sea father, a lonely mother, a dying child, and his brother comforting him with some strange story about the afterlife. And -now- we're coming to the painful part, the part our narrator can't bear to think about? Uh oh.

This is what they mean - we go from slow misery to savage fire. Kavring is home alone when his apartment catches on fire. Jonathan is on his way home from school and sees the building burning. He runs inside before anyone can stop him, and the staircase collapses underneath him. But he reaches his brother, and takes him onto his back, and then jumps out of he window. He dies, of course, and this is our comfort, that the newspaper says he dies 'almost instantly'. The almost was bad enough, I thought, but at least it was almost instant. I imagined him being knocked unconscious instantly, at the very least.

This section brought me so many internal questions. I really struggled with it. I still do. Jonathan had his whole life ahead of him, a good life, too, it looked like, and he was the only person his mother had left in the whole world. But he threw away his own life and made his mother's already bad life even worse in order to give his brother about one more week of coughing and wasting away.

We can say what we want about the heat of the moment, about sibling bonds, about the fragility of life, about destiny - the truth is that it may make me evil, but I am almost certain I wouldn't have done what he did. If it had been on the first floor, maybe. On the third floor, no. It's close, I mean, it comes down maybe even to which floor, but it's too much, too much for too little.

But for the purposes of the book, I have come to terms with the scene. It gives an interesting effect, burning away and almost cathartically cleansing the misery that hung over the first chapter in "En voldsom brann" - "An intense fire". And I guess that Jonathan's action is half to establish him as perfect, and half to:

A.) Show the audience that he was not afraid of death, most likely because of Nangijala.

B.) Have him help Kavring see that he was not afraid of death, and that Kavring needn't be.

C.) Both A. and B.

Lingering problems remain the fact that it doesn't help Kavring with death, not really, he just adds a guilt complex and a lot more crying to his last week, and the issue of the mother, who is still a person, despite not being a child. I'm greatly surprised if she isn't institutionalized or doesn't kill herself after this.

And that Jonathan didn't really die instantly.

"...mens vi lå på bakken etter at vi hadde hoppet. Han lå nesegrus først, men det var noen som snudde på ham, og jeg så ansiktet hans. Det rant litt blod fra den ene munnviken, og han kunne nesten ikke snakke. Men det var likevel som om han prøvde å smile, og han fikk til et par ord. 'gråt ikke, Kavring, vi ses i Nangijala!'...
Bare det sa han og ikke mer. Så lukket han øynene, og folk kom og bar ham bort, og jeg så ham aldri igjen."

MT: "...While we lay on the ground after we jumped. He lay facedown first, but someone turned him, and I saw his face. A little blood ran from the corner of his mouth, and he almost couldn't speak. But it was as though he tried to smile anway, and he managed to say a few words. 'Don't cry, Kavring, we'll see each other in Nangijala!'...
Only that he said, and nothing else. Then he closed his eyes, and people came and carried him away, and I never saw him again."

And then there was the heartbreaking letter than Jonathan's teacher wrote to the newspaper after the accident:

"Kjære Jonatan Løve, burde du ikke egentlig hete Jonatan Løvehjerte? Husker du da vi leste i historietimen om en modig engelsk konge med navnet Rikard Løvehjerte? Husker du at du sa da, 'tenk å være så modig at det står om det i historiebøker etterpå, så modig kunne jeg aldri vært.' Kjære Jonatan, selv om det ikke kommer til å stå om deg i historiebøker, var du likevel modig nok i det avgjørende øyeblikk, du var en helt så god som noen. Din gamle lærerinne kommer aldri til å glemme deg. Klassekameratene vil også huske deg lenge. Det blir tomt i klassen uten vår glade, vakre Jonatan. Men den gudene elsker, dør ung. Jonatan Løvehjerte, hvil i fred!"

MT: "Dear Jonathan Lion (Last name), should you not really be called Jonathan Lionhearted? Do you remember when we read in history about a brave English king named Richard the Lionhearted? Do you remember that you said, 'think of being so brave that it stood in the history books afterwards, I could never be so brave.' Dear Jonathan, although you may never come to be in the history books yourself, you were just as brave in that crucial moment, you were a hero as good as any. Your old teacher will never forget you. Your classmates will remember you a long time as well. It is empty in our class without our happy, beautiful Jonathan. But whom the Gods love, die young. Jonathan Lionhearted, rest in peace!"

Another pagan comment, interestingly. But a very sweet letter, it almost made me cry.

But surely this is all that chapter 2 can fit? Nope, not at all. After a few pages of Kavring's guilt and angst, the dove from mother's story comes, and Kavring knows it is Jonathan, coming to visit him. And then he can hear Jonathan's voice, telling him to hurry up and come to Nangijala. And then Kavring feels good and writes a note to his mother,

"Gråt ikke, mamma" Vi ses i Nangijala!"

MT: "Don't cry, mama! We'll see each other in Nangijala!"

And then he dies. And then he is in Nangijala.

Jonathan is still a lot bigger and prettier and more perfect. But Jonathan is no longer sick, and he can swim now, and the brothers already have a house in Nangijala in a beautiful place called Kirsebærdalen (Cherry Valley). We get a lot of description about this and happy moments between the reunited brothers, and they have rabbits and horses.

But there are hints that not all is perfect outside of their valley... or maybe, just maybe, even within it.

"Ja, akkurat," fortsatte han, "en ung og frisk og god tid som det er lett og enkelt å leve i."
Men så ble han mørk i øynene.
"I hvert fall her i Kirsebærdalen."

MT: "Yes, exactly," he continued, "A young and fresh and good time when it is easy and simple to live."
But then he went dark in the eyes.
"In any case, here in Cherry Valley."

Btw, I don't like how Cherry Valley sounds, so I'm just going to say Kirsebærdalen from no on, because otherwise it sounds like I am describing the backstory to Candy Land.

We meet a woman named Sofia, neither young nor old, and a man named Gullhanen who owns a tavern-inn and seems friendly enough, and an odd guy named Huburt. But something is strange about Sofia, even though she and Jonathan seem to be friends. And Jonathan is keeping something from Karl (They decided he doesn't have to be called Kavring anymore, now that they are in Nangijala... :S), and Karl doesn't really mind, but Karl pesters Jonathan about when they are going to start having good adventures, and Jonathan says,

"Du kan tro at det fins spennende ting som ikke burde vært til."

"You can believe that there are exciting things that should never have been."

A strange thing to say. But now let's play Compare and Contrast with Mio Min Mio.

What do both books have?

- A main character who lives in our world and is unhappy.
- A back of the book which only really concerns our real world.
- Travel to a new world and getting away from certain miserable conditions found in our world.
- A main character who gets a new name in the new world.
- Two boys, the main character and a boy who knows more about the new world than him.
- Lavish, beautiful descriptions of the new world.
- Hints of darkness in the seemingly perfect new world.

I actually keep waiting for them to mention the EVIL KNIGHT KATO. Ah, I'm going to miss typing that. XD But... what is different about Brødrene Løvehjerte?

It is quite a bit darker and more serious than Mio Min Mio. Instead of an escape via genie from disinterested foster parents, we have death and the afterlife. The rumours of darkness come more quickly, and with a slightly more sinister tone. Don't get me wrong, THE EVIL KNIGHT KATO was plenty evil, he was just childishly, rediculously, stereotypically evil. I mean, come on, the earth trembled to hear his name. We don't yet know the nature of the evil in Brødrene Løvehjerte, but it seems slightly more... adult. And fitting in with these, the book is also a bit harder to read than Mio Min Mio. Not by a lot, but I have come up against several tricky sentence structures, a few words natives have told me they have never used, and an equal number of words to look up, even though I recognize many, many words from already having read Mio Min Mio.

First Stat Exam

I took my first night exam and my first Statistics exam tonight. (They were the same exam, if you can guess XD)

I already have the results. 4 wrong, out of 40. That means I have about a 90%. I can't decide whether I'm happy with that score. I guess I'm not.

Breakdown of mistakes:

1 and 2 - I forgot (remembered later in the test, oddly enough, which is why I didn't lose a few more points for this) that when dealing with an even number, you find the median by averaging the two middle numbers.

3 - Honestly didn't remember a term

4 - Stupid, stupid mistake. I used the wrong number to calculate. They sort of tried to trick me, but I should have looked more carefully.

I am okay with number 3, but less so with 1 and 2 and not at all with 4. Is 90% a bad score for ME in Stat? No. But the first test, I suspect, is a LOT easier than the others.

One more math class. One more. I can do this.

AMG - Foreign Language Honors Society

I just joined the foreign language honors society here, and I've got my fingers crossed. If there are language fans here at Mizzou, this is where they'll be... it's my best hope, and in a way, my last hope. Wish me luck and joy.

I am participating in the first event tomorrow, and getting up at 7 am for it.

A Vestigial Thing.

Today as always you surround me like a ghost, and your words dance in my eyes with the cold sunlight, as anything and everything is tied to them as if they form a language in their own right. It's a vestigial thing.

Vestigial because like this, like this is okay too. My legs are stronger every day, I can stand, walk, run on my own. If you would love me... But. Like this, like this is okay too.

Un Ensayo Sobre Finlandia!

I took a few small creative liberties, but they are almost all about the timeline.

Nunca olvidaré lo que fue estar allá, una forastera, expuesta al sol de la mañana mientras el bailaba en el agua gris y tranquila y las islitas blancas del mar archipiélago. Estaba de pie con el agua hasta los tobillos en el agua, mis dedos hundiendo en la mezcla marrón y viscosa de barro y algas, el aire alrededor de mi soplaba tan fresco que el viento o el sol en cualquier momento decidió la diferencia entre la miseria y un día casi confortable. Yo no pertenecí a aquel, pero allí estaba, con los brazos sobre el pecho pálido y los huesos de los pies doliendo con el frio del agua.

“¿Cómo sabes en cual estación estamos en Finlandia?” Preguntó Liisa desde el agua, donde el sol destellaba en su cabello rubio y ojos azulados.


“Tienes que abrir la cremallera del abrigo de un finlandés,” Dijo con una risita. “Si tiene una sudadera debajo, estamos en invierno. Si no tienen nada debajo, estamos en verano, y ya es tiempo para el baño de la mañana.” Y tuve que ir a ella. Fui en un movimiento tan rápido y fluido como pude, y el agua llegaba hasta mis codos y llegue al lado de ella. Hicimos la cuenta atrás y nos zambullimos. Este siempre es el momento más terrible, y esta vez, mi primera vez, el efecto fue exacerbado. Bajo el agua, abrí los ojos del susto y no vi nada sino una luz gris, no sentí nada sino el frio alrededor de mí. Me sentí como si me iba a morir.

Fuimos al superficie otra vez, y de pronto todo estaba mucho mejor. Todo estaba mejor y fácil porque ya no estábamos bajo esta agua mortal, y reíamos y estábamos llenas de regocijo, y no sentíamos entumecidas y alegres, y los rayos del sol brillaban otra vez. El frio en el viento fue sustituido por el alivio y la adrenalina, y trepamos en las rocas lavados con sal, nuestros pies descalzos todavía entumecidos y muy blancos. Ya no me sentía expuesta, solo abierta y honesta mientras nos lavábamos con cucharones de agua de lluvia, acumulada en un balde y calentado en la sauna. Vaciamos poquitos de agua sobre nuestras cabezas, las que fluían en forma de corrientes brillantes antes de chocar contra las rocas y volver al mar. Yo estaba cubierta de escalofríos a causa del viento que sopló sobre mi cuerpo mojado, pero los dos reímos a todas las sensaciones sencillas y bonitas, que natural sentía estar allá antes del sol y de la mar, entre los pinos y el musgo, como solo nosotros.

Cuando estábamos limpias y vestidas otra vez, fuimos a ayudar con el almuerzo. Los padres y la hermanita de Liisa estaban en la isla también, y todos nosotros teníamos alguna tarea para preparar la comida. El padre de Liisa pescaba, bajando una red en el agua donde habíamos bañado por la mañana, mientras su madre y hermanita buscaban fresas y arándanos en el interior de la isla… no hay nada en el mundo como esas bayas del norte, madurados por el sol de medianoche y mantenido pequeño y dulce por el aire fresco. Y Liisa y yo limpiamos las patatas en el mar, sentadas en las rocas con los pies en el agua y la cesta de patatas nuevas entre nosotros, fregando las cascaras en el agua salada, mientras su padre, quien había capturado algunos peces, los limpiaba con una rapidez asombroso y tiró las espinas en las rocas, donde atrajeron la atención de un montón de gaviotas blancas y grises, que lucharon por ellos a pesar de que las espinas desnudas siguieron a convulsionar.

Una vez, mientras vaciamos el agua de la cesta al mar, una patata muy pequeña se cayó de la cesta y en las ondas suaves. Liisa fue a encontrarlo, pescando con su mano entre las algas un momento hasta que lo encontró otra vez. Estaba de asombra. La escena era tan extraña para mí, como una estadounidense. Comida es barata y fácil a encontrar para la mayoría en los estados unidos, pero todavía tenemos costumbres innecesariamente despilfarradoras como cultura. ¿Esta patata habría sido salvada aquí en los Estados Unidos? No lo creo. Una razón es que había caído en el mar, en la borra y las algas. Era contaminado otra vez con la naturaleza, no importa que originalmente vinó de la naturaleza, y por eso habría que tener mucho escepticismo sobre si las personas podrían comerlo todavía. Otra es – ¿valdría la pena sufrir el agua fría y mojar sus pantalones para una patata tan pequeña e insignificante? No lo creo, no aquí. Liisa pensaba que era muy gracioso que esta escena me afectaba tanto, pero sin embargo era uno de estos momentos, cuando se puede ver algo en vez de ser dicho, y lo que se puede ver con sus propios ojos es una forma más fuerte de la verdad.

Almorzamos por fin, y era una de las comidas mejores de mi vida, en una mesa sencilla y de madera. Cuando les dije que era maravillosa, inicialmente pensaban que me estaba burlando de ellos, porque hay un estereotipo entre la mayoría del mundo sobre la cocina sosa de Escandinavia, pero yo no podía encontrar ninguna verdad en eso, por lo menos no en el verano. Habíamos traído leche y mantequilla, las patatas, y el sal de la tierra firme – todas las otras cosas en la mesa estaban frescas de esta isla pequeña, y nunca en mi vida he comido comida más fresca. En los Estados Unidos nunca he pensado que vale la pena comer las patatas sosas, o las fresas rosas de España, que se maduran artificialmente. Pero aquí todo explotaba con sabor, aun con el mínimo de sal o mantequilla. Y hablamos y reímos todo el tiempo, y yo contaba chistes cobre America, diciendo que no creemos que sea buena cosa comer comida instantánea ni procesada y otras tonterías, y aunque la madre de Liisa seguía sonriendo, su padre me miraba tan extraño que por un momento estaba preocupada, hasta que dijo Liisa,

“Si, papa, yo sé, para mí era difícil acostumbrarme a eso también. Los americanos si pueden usar el sarcasmo.” Y yo me di cuenta de que la cara severa de su padre estaba cambiando a un tipo de sonrisa que pareció casi doloroso. Por su puesto, en realidad, es que en los Estados Unidos casi hemos olvidado que la comida viene de la tierra, y que no pertenece al plástico.

Después, Liisa y yo exploraron la isla. Caminamos a través de un pantanito lleno de agua oscura y asquerosa y las puntas suaves y blancas de la algodonosa silvestre, a través de bosque antiguo lleno de musgo que había crecido durante cien años, y sobre acantilados y rocas que extendieron sobre el borde para darnos vistas espectaculares del mar. Caminando a través del interior, yo seguía viendo más y más hormigas, hasta que primero era imposible no andar sobre ellos, y después no podía ver el suelo bajo de ellos - todo era una masa negra y retorciendo. Y después lo vi. Era el hormiguero más grande que he visto en mi vida, cien veces más grande que cualquier había imaginado. Pensé de los hormigueros de Costa Rica, que estaban casi tan altos como mi muslo, y de qué alta yo había pensado que eran. Ahora estaba menos de un metro de un hormiguera que vio mucho más alto que mí. Cuando recubrí del susto, tenía el sabio para mirar a mis piernas, y me dio cuento por fin que estaba cubierta de hormigones mordientes. Corríamos, riendo otra vez, y cuando por fin habíamos escapado el reino de las hormigas teníamos que sentarnos y pasar unos minutos para removerlos.

En el lado distante de la isla, donde los acantilados subían sobre el mar, sentábamos en una piedra cubierta por doradas flores delgadas, y rodeada por la aroma de los pinos sacudidos por el viento del verano. Con sus manos, Liisa dibujaba líneas imaginarias en el mar para mostrarme donde las rutas del invierno serán.

“¿Las rutas del invierno?” pregunté, curiosa.

“Cuando el mar se congela,” ella explicó, “Se marcan partes de él para manejar. Este es cómo vamos a las islas en el invierno.”

Yo sentaba y contemplaba eso por un momento en una silencia muy finesa. La isla era tan vibrante ahora que era difícil imaginarla en el invierno. Pero, me recordé, cubierto de nieve y helado era su estado durante la mayoría del año. El verano era la estación más corta y más dulce de todas las estaciones aquí, y la naturaleza explotó con el verde como el desierto después de la lluvia. Pensaba otra vez en el sabor imposible de las fresas – era como si la urgencia de su maduración rápida les diera una dulzura casi violenta.

Antes del clímax tradicional de la experiencia de la casita de verano finlandesa, decidí usar el baño. Fui a la dependencia y abrí la puerta, y sucedió algo extraño. El retrete saltó. Lo que quiero decir es que la tapa del retrete saltó casi un metro en el aire, y después cayó de vuelta con un sonido suave pero golpeado. Estaba tan impactada que casi no podía hablar, y regresé al lugar donde había dejado a Liisa con la estufa de madera.

"Liisa," llamé suavemente, "Liisa…" Oí una risa extraña, y cuando di la vuelta a la esquina, encontré a la madre de Liisa.

"¿Fue el retrete, no?" dijo riéndose con su acento leve, "Te dice, ¡TERVETULOA!" La palabra significa "bienvenida", y ella lo gritó con una falta de moderación casi salvaje, considerando que es finlandesa. Y eso es exactamente lo que oí en mi mente cuando usé el retrete desde este momento, aunque nadie podía explicarme exactamente porque salta para saludar los visitantes.

Y después fue la sauna. La sauna de madera quemada de Liisa es parte de una tradición muy antigua. Durante más de dos mil años ha existido en alguna forma en Finlandia. Solía ser un lugar sagrado, donde las mujeres daban a luz y lavaban los cuerpos de los muertos, y aun hoy hay un refrán, "Saunassa ollaan kuin kirkossa" – "Debes estar en el sauna como si estuvieras en una iglesia." Entramos de la misma manera que ellos habían entrado desde el principio, y mientras el calor se alzaba a los 100 grados Celsius, con mucho cuidado vertimos agua en la estufa para crear löyly, el alma del sauna. Cuando nuestros cuerpos estaban cubiertos por un montón de gotas de sudor, nos golpeábamos con ramas de abedul hasta que la sangre se asomaba a nuestra piel y volvía al color rosa saludable.

Ya era tiempo. Caminamos hacia la puerta de la sauna, la abrimos mientras anhelábamos el aire fresco, y después corrimos sobre las piedras cubiertas por musgo hasta el mar. Yo paré de pronto, pensando en la manera en que el vidrio se triza cuando va del agua caliente al agua fría. Liisa me había advertido que el mar se sentiría mucho más frio después de la sauna que había durante nuestro baño por la mañana. Ella apareció atrás de mí.

"Es mejor," sugirió suavemente, "Si corres."

Corrí. Una mitad de mi incrédula, mientras la otra mitad me llevaba, oyendo distantemente mis huellas en el musgo, y después el sonido cortante de mis pies en la madera del puerto, y después nada – había caminado en un vacio que no dejo ningún espacio para el miedo, la sabiduría, o el remordimiento.

El agua me arrodeaba otra vez, mientras subía un metro en el mar frio, esta vez no tocaba el fondo viscoso. El frio fue afilado y doloroso en mi piel por un instante, y después gritó en mis huesos mientras nadaba a la orilla y me arrastré a las rocas tibias. En el sauna otra vez, sentía una sensación muy extraña. El frio se fue rápido de mis huesos, pero apareció de nuevo en mi piel. Mis piernas se habían puesto completamente dormidas en el agua, pero ahora, mientras la sensibilidad regresaba, se sentían mas frías aquí en la sauna a 100 grados que en el mar cuando había saltado. Después de algunos minutos en la sauna y con más flagelación con el abedul, mi piel se sentía por fin tibia otra vez, y cuando empezamos a sudar, era tiempo para repetir el proceso. Lo hicimos cuatro veces, y cada vez era más fácil y más agradable.

Cuando salimos de la sauna por última vez, nos sentíamos muy relajadas y liberadas, exactamente la misma sensación que hay cuando te bañas en agua caliente después de hacer muchas horas de ejercicios. En este momento, entendí exactamente porque la tradición había durado dos mil años.

Pero es importante cuidarte después de un sauna, y por eso regresamos a la cabina principal, nos vestimos en suéteres, bebimos bastante jugo, y nos relajamos alrededor de un fueguito y algunos juegos de mesa. Cuando terminamos era tarde, pero nos pusimos las chaquetas para salir por ultima vez y aprovechar el fenómeno ártico que es el sol de medianoche.

En el verano, tan al norte, el sol nunca se pone de verdad. Solo queda sostenido bajo el horizonte, aun por la medianoche. En el mismo polo norte, el sol solo circula en el cielo por días. Turku es mucho más al sur, y aquí el sol estuvo solo bajo el horizonte por una hora durante la madrugada, aunque nunca se oscureció lo suficiente para ver las estrellas. Ahora era solamente la once por la noche, y todavía había bastante luz para navegar el archipiélago por kayak.

En una atmósfera que parecía un ocaso eterno, exploramos las islas cercanas, forzando el horizonte mas y mas a la distancia mientras circulábamos sobre islas pequeñas con otras casitas de verano, y islitas blancas y pedregosas que son defendidas por gaviotas valientes que persiguen a los que se acercan demasiado a sus hogares desolados. Los rayos largos del sol bailaban sobre nosotros mientras nos movíamos con el agua y el crepúsculo venía, muy, muy lento. Y después regresamos.

No me quede mucho tiempo despierta antes de arrastrarme a mi cama. Pero brevemente recordé mis memorias del día, preguntándome cual era la más extraña, y cuál era la más bella. El susto del frio y el descubierto del baño de la mañana, el rescate de la patata por Liisa, el almuerzo mas natural de mi vida, el hormiguero enorme y el musgo de cien años en el interior, el retrete saltarín y saludar, navegando en kayak bajo el sol de la medianoche… y pensé en mi miedo, dejando el sauna, de saltar de cabeza en el mar frio. Y después, la carrera sobre piedras cubiertas de musgo, el puerto de madera bajo mis pies, y el salto en sí – una suspensión en un momento que no tenía el espacio para el remordimiento.

Update on Yummy New Foods

When I was downtown with Tabi, I bought cashew butter and almond butter. They are both really good! :D The almond butter is chunkier, more different and exciting. But, because

A.) It is more expensive
B.) It has a higher fat content
C.) It managed to destroy one of my bowls
D.) I am slightly allergic to it

I don't think I'll buy it again. Cashew butter is a lot like peanut butter, but milder and you can add it to a lot of foods. Which brings me to another discovery, the world's best ramen noodle recipe:

I bought one packet of tomato ramen, and one packet of curry ramen. I mixed the powders together and used half of this concoction when I cooked one packet of the noodles, and then I stirred in a little cashew butter. Yummy!

German Update

The German class is going quite well. I am about even with the rest of the class for knowledge of verbs, although I am slightly less accustomed to speaking in preterit. I continue to lag behind with my genders, but I am learning the gender of new words as they come up and eventually that will start to work.

I did surprisingly well on the first test as well. :D I am no longer worried about even getting an A in the class, although I will have to keep working. First essay is due on Wednesday.... :)

The Temperature Wars Rage On

I wake up to a room so hot that I can barely breathe. I feel trapped in my blankets and suffocating. I have to climb down off my tall bed and go to the door for a breath of fresh air before I can even face the difficult climb to the heat adjuster or wait for it to take effect. And of course, I overreact in my haste to cool the room, and I change the setting from 5 to 1, and Mayumi undoubtably wonders why I turn the room into a freezer where it hurts her to put her bare feet on the ground at night and her legs may feel cool if she splays them out from under her blankets. But this is how it is. Back and forth...

February 22, 2009

Weekend Trip Home

I went home this weekend which was a mixed bag of comfort and annoyance. For one, it's almost not worth the trouble just to go home for one full day. This morning it seemed positively unreal that I would soon be back in Columbia. For another, it was all work - gross, sentimental work like throwing away or donating half of what I own so that we can move away from my childhood home.

But I did get to see Lucia, which was great. We went to see Slumdog Millionaire (Way better than I expected) and then we cooked some curry. It was kind of our first time with Indian food, but it turned out really well. We stayed up talking until 2 am, and my mom was nice enough to clean the kitchen for us too. :D

Today I said goodbye to all of them, and especially little Tidbit who's turning rather white, and I got a ride with Laura to come back to Columbia, and I had to pee really bad the whole time, but I didn't feel like I could ask because she and her mom were talking and listening to music the whole time up front and I felt rather unwanted.

I got a phone call not long after arriving. It was my mother, demanding to know why I hadn't called her, even though I have a pretty good memory for such things and really didn't remember her asking me to. Then she told me that because I had left laundry in the laundry room, she had given Melissa 20$ from my account to finish it. I get that she's trying to punish me, but she knows as well as I do that /I/ would never be paid 20$ to run a load of laundry, nevermind that Melissa owes me 150$ for stealing my books, etc.


February 18, 2009

I'm famous...

If you spam the refresh button on this website:


You will get a surprise about 1/5 of the time.

Mordor and Me

I was wondering why there was so much traffic to my Mio, Min Mio post.

I found out why.


I am on the top of the google image search for Mordor. Awesome. :)

February 17, 2009

A Constellation of Birds

Here on campus there is as much light pollution as one might expect. It's a little sad at times, when for example walking across campus you catch sight of a single star, and seeing one star is so much worse than seeing none, because it reminds you of all those you haven't seen for months.

Still. I've mentioned before how at the sports field the sky is inky black and the spotlights look like 100 silver white moons, and they outline the branches of the trees just so delicately... and it's lovely.

And today as I was walking through Speaker's surface I caught sight of something bright and moving above. A flock of geese were flying over campus, and all of our lights were reflected brilliantly on their undersides, and they were high enough that one could barely tell they were birds. The air was filled with their wingbeats as they moved and glowed all in formation, moving apart, coming together, and all the while steadily making progress across campus.

I was determined to follow them as long as I could, hopping backwards over little walls and over tree-roots. Then they reached the edge of the campus, and faded one by one, each bird star glimmering one last time and disappearing.


Things are grey and there is very little fire or passion inside of me. I am not depressed, exactly. I go through life and I take pleasure in watching movies with friends or in cooking or in learning Norwegian, but less than usual, and in between I feel lost and miserable. I guess there are just these periods, and if you move through them pretending everything is normal, nothing bad happens, and when you look back you remember only good times.

I think it's just that I love to obsess, and I have very little to obsess about right now. Norwegian is as close as it gets, but it's not new and there is no urgency there whatsoever. I dislike most of my classes. And the list goes on... -sigh- On the other hand, there's nothing really bad either. Well, that's how it goes.

Humourous Units of Measurement


Who would have thought that people would find measurement so funny?



A measure of distance equal to about 7/8 of a mile, defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque.

The Sheppey is the creation of Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, included in The Meaning of Liff, their dictionary of objects for which no name exists. [3] It is named after the Isle of Sheppey in the UK.

Beauty: Helen

Helen of Troy (from the Iliad) is widely known as "the face that launched a thousand ships." Thus, 1 millihelen is the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.

According to The Rebel Angels, a novel by Robertson Davies, this system was invented by Cambridge mathematician W.A.H. Rushton. However, the term was possibly first suggested by Isaac Asimov.[6] The obvious reference is Marlowe's line from the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships...?" [7]

Negative values have also been observed—these, of course, are measured by the number of ships sunk or the number of clocks stopped. An alternative interpretation of 1 negative Helen is the amount of negative beauty (i.e. ugliness) that can launch one thousand ships the other way.

Since the original quotation was "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium", a more accurate definition of the millihelen might be the amount of beauty required to launch a single ship and ignite a wastebasket.

David Lance Goines has written a humorous article[8] describing various Helen-units. It has a chart with the fire-lighting and ship-launching capability for different powers of "Helens". For example, a Picohelen (ph) (10^-12 helens) indicates the amount of beauty that can "Barbecue a couple of Steaks & Toss an Inner Tube Into the Pool".

February 16, 2009

Fun with Roommates

Today I came home from classes at one and Mayumi was still asleep. What is the etiquette for such a thing, I wonder? If it was early morning, or late night, or if Mayumi was sick, I'd of course do my best to tiptoe around, not turn on the overhead lights, not cook anything loud or stinky, etc...

But one in the afternoon? I had been craving some shrimp noodles all day, so I decided to make them. I stalled for about half an hour and did other things while Mayumi slept on, and finally I made my noodles. At this point Mayumi rolled out of bed and went to the restroom.

As soon as I had finished the noodles, she asked if she could throw them away, because she didn't like the smell. Which actually was sort of a surprise, because at the beginning of the year I made these exact same noodles, worried a bit about the smell, and Mayumi really liked it. Afterwards she went out and bought many packages of the same noodles. Now she says that she did like them but now she only likes the beef noodles.

(If that face looks confusing/frustrating, it's because it's confused/frustrated.)

Then I helped Mayumi for about half an hour when she tried to call customer service for her prepaid phone and was having communication issues. I took the phone and at least she was kind enough to sit there looking bored instead of going back to watching her movie. The end result? The card wasn't broken, she had purchased the wrong card.

February 15, 2009

Colour Squares

If our parents brought us to the hardware store as children, my sister and I would steal as many of the little paint sample colour squares as we could. We would then dutifully go home, cut them all up, and put them in our bags. Sometimes we would even trade them. I don't know what captivated us more - the colours themselves, or the lovely and evocative names that said far more than a wall painted any colour could aspire to. I wonder if anyone else did this?

Still, this advertisement, which I just found, brings the whole thing back...

February 11, 2009

So Small A Thing

Is it so small a thing, To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the Spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes -
That we must feign a bliss Of doubtful future date,
And while we dream on this, Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds... yet distant our repose?

- Matthew Arnold
Empedocles on Etna

February 10, 2009

I Will Always Return

February 09, 2009

Danial and I's Plan

Just so that you know, world, I found out that I have an identical twin, and his name is Danial. Okay, so what we lack in identicality due to gender we make up for with strange coincidences in our life histories! Vi er ett... ;) (Oh, even that has a creepy double meaning, now, doesn't it?)

Anyways, all the creepiness aside, Danial and I have decided to help each other learn Norwegian. And this is how. Every day, Danial will find two Norwegian words, most likely from his conversations with his Norwegian friends online. He will look them up and tell me the words, definitions, and original sentences. I will do the same thing with new words I encounter through reading books and newspapers - two every day. We will hold each other responsible for learning all four words every day. :D

So far, we have:

å Grue seg - to Dread
Utilgjenglig - Inaccessible, Unreachable
å Slite med - to Struggle with
å Måke - to Clear Away, Shovel (Snow or Manure)
å Omgi - to Surround
en Fordel - Advantage

Voldom - Severe, Intense
å Herje - to Devestate, Ravage
å Hindre - to Hinder
å Styrte - to Dash, Plunge
Skrekkslagen - Terrified
Nesegrus - Prone, Prostate, Face Down

February 08, 2009


Once, I can't remember
I was, long ago, someone strange
I was innocent and wise
And full of pain

Now that I'm a woman
Everything is strange

Once, when I was searching
Somewhere out of reach
Far away
In a place I could not find
Or heart obey

Now that I'm a woman
Everything is changed

- Now That I'm a Woman,

Some Funny German Satire...

Potatoes and Milk and... even some Vegetables...

Lately I've been craving milk, and potatoes, and even some vegetables... I've been going to Eva J's for their almost-daily potato bar and being disappointed when it's not there. I've been drinking milk at most meals. And the ratatouille at Dobbs has been tasting better and better... :P

February 07, 2009

Grocery List

Bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, milk, almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter crunch, oatmeal, pocky, seasoned seaweed, short grained rice, extra virgin olive oil, shiro miso soup, curry powder, pad thai ramen, tomato curry ramen, chick peas, dal tadka, mutteer panneer, hershey hugs, mango chutney, eggs, butter...

How random.

Photoshoot at Devil's Icebox

The other day Tabi and Laura and I went to Devil's Icebox. The picture taking frenzy started with Laura climbed on a branch over the river, and went on until the sun set. Some really cute pictures came out of it. I find myself enjoying and becoming more serious about photography all the time. (I still take a lot of crappy pictures, but good ones here and there too...) One problem with this is, it's really shallow and annoying, but I get frustrated when the pictures of me don't turn out as well as the pictures I take... For example, I wanted a picture of me on a fallen tree over the stream. When I took pictures of Tabitha on the tree, I thought, "Okay, the point is that she's climbed out there, in winter, over a stream which is beautiful. We want her looking confident, carefree, brave, capable... and we want to show the stream below her. We want her to look small while still dominating the picture. Of course, with my camera on the highest quality setting, we can always zoom in closer to her later if we want." I dunno what they were thinking when I asked them to take the same shot of me. Anyway, it was a nice day. :D

The Weather of a Week in Missouri

Last weekend the weather was lovely and I watched the wind play in the little artificial puddles over the volleyball pit, setting ripples in the water, which the sun shone through and made me think of summer days and little wooden and paper sailboats...

Monday and Tuesday we were plunged back fully into the winter, far below zero, and forgetting to check the temperature Monday I headed out into the world with only a warm coat, and no gloves or scarf or hat. And I thought I was going to lose my ears...

Wednesday I wore gloves, but determined to catch an hour of solitude, I spent a while leaning against a tree, bundled up, sketching German houses and paella on my Molskine vocabulary notebooks...

By Thursday I was carrying the coat over my shoulder, with my sleeves pushed up past my elbows. That evening was a scavenger hunt, and the air held that pregnant, expectant feeling of an Indian summer...

Friday we went wading in a spring, with ice still on the water... but it felt like summer as we laughed and lay back in the grass which clung to our clothes, brittle and yellow as it is this time of year...

Today Tabi and I went downstairs, where people were enjoying the warm evening like Scandinavians in summer time, and outdoor seating and ice cream places had been reopened for just a few days, to catch this mini-season...

Danish :)

I have mentioned before that there is a Danish girl going to school here, and I mentioned in the post about the potluck that I met her there. :) Here is what happened in a bit more detail:

Some girls walked in while I was in the kitchen with Ju and Pai (Kanchana and Chaowalit). My Scandinavian radar went off rather strongly. I knew it was her. So I asked a small group where they were from, and when she said, "Denmark", I said, "Oh, great!" I was hoping that she might ask, but no such luck.

So a minute later I worked up my courage to say, "Jeg skal hilse deg fra en venn fra Færøerne" She said something in Danish close enough to, "Oh, it's really good, you said it really well!" And then I said, "Takk!"

Then she became really excited and asked whether I spoke Danish, and I laughed and said, "No, I speak Norwegian", but then both of us just became more and more excited and talking about how I learned Norwegian and things like that... and all in Danish! There was hardly even a language barrier, things went so smoothly.

And afterwards Tom the Australian said, "Wow, Miranda, you didn't tell me you spoke Danish!" and Ju and Pai said that I was speaking like I was "From her country." Certainly I had felt happy and confident speaking it, moreso than when I speak Spanish, for example.

It was great. :) And we exchanged numbers and plan to get together soon. And, and, and, she told me that I sounded really Scandinavian... that obviously Norwegian wasn't my native language, but that I did the tones and such well enough that she might have guessed I was from Iceland or something. So that made me happy. :D And she said I spoke Danish better than any Norwegian or American she knows...

She is really nice, btw, a Journalism major and six years older than I am. XD All of the people I met that night were, but oh well...

February 03, 2009

Dolphin Sign Language

I really think that this is incredible. Sometimes, when people are trying really hard to figure out what a particular animal can or can't thing about... well, I care, because I'm a geek... but I am still a little annoyed by how important the researchers think it is and wonder how much money is going to it, etc.

With this clip that isn't the case. I find it really fascinating. If you study languages you'll know that these concepts really aren't that basic. I'd like to see something comparing them to chimps with this sort of thing, and I'd also like to see where, if anywhere, this progresses to in 5-10 years. They seem to be making much more progress than most of these studies.


When the weather changes quickly, the snow melts and water runs over the sidewalks, then freezes in the cool of the night, and the tears of the earth are transformed into something... dangerous.

Denise. I comprehend what you are saying. But is it really so much better across the border? Somehow I doubt it. I think some of these things are just the typical human experience... I found friends here and you found friends there and here we are now both struggling and blaming different things.

Wine flows and the warm air coming out of the vents mixes with cigarette smoke. How otherworldly...

Still, I'm not sure what to think...

And Jorge. Don't you know things change? It isn't easy for anyone, nor is it... to be extolled at all costs... to be yourself. Sometimes it's necessary - either to change, or to face the consequences of being who you are. You are unwilling to do either. And as long as you remain that way, you will feel conflicted.

February 02, 2009

The Subtle Beauty of Missouri

Ah, this Missouri, this land of the big blue sky - I needn’t lose it, needn’t forget it, it is being tattooed onto my identity with every moment. The sky is indeed big here and you wonder how it feels, you don’t want reality, you want to touch the fabric where the blue is kept, you wonder if it is rough-smooth like canvas painted this amazing impossible colour or light as silk or soft like cream. Ah, blue sky and below, the winter grass, the warm colour of straw – it is for me the colour of the number seven, and I love seven, and somehow it has a perfect sort of symmetry for me that three, the number of God, is green like fresh summer grass, and in the winter seven, the magic number, takes over. Nestled in this gold are rocks, here and there, grey as the Baltic sea or as those eyes we can’t forget… and rising above to link roots and sky are the trees, some with their dark and naked branches glimmering and highlighted by sunbeams, whose depth seems impossible, profound, that, moving the view changes with every second revealing such complexity, and others covered in their piney evergreen… My Missouri, ah, I love your subtle beauties.

February 01, 2009

Spass mit Witzen

We need to find a joke for German class. This is the one I found:

Ein Mann bietet am Jahrmarkt einen Papagei an: "Wenn Sie am linken Bein ziehen, dann sagt er Guten Morgen und wenn Sie am rechten Bein ziehen, dann sagt er Guten Abend!"
Ein Passant fragt: "Und was passiert, wenn ich an beiden Beinen ziehe?"
Papagei: "Dann falle ich von der Stange, Du Depp!"

My translation:

A man was advertising a parrot at the fair. "If you pull his left leg, he says good morning, and if you pull his right leg, he says good evening!"

A passerby asked, "And what happens if you pull both legs at once?"

"Then I fall off the bar, idiot!" said the parrot.

Deeper Than the Holler

My love is deeper that the holler, stronger than the rivers
Higher than the pine trees growin' tall upon the hill
My love is purer than the snowflakes that fall in late December
And honest as a robin on a springtime window sill
And longer than the song of the Whippoorwill

- Deeper than the Holler