Swedish rants

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Anomalies are those things that do not just veer off into the unknown causing major friction in chartered and metered courses. They are in and by their own right natural occurrences that sometimes allow us to change course or make us stop right in our tracks. One of these phenomenas in language learning is the case for fear of mispronunciation. It is a well established fact that there is a time limit for humanoids (yes, it sounds weird) when it comes to trying to learn a new language as fluent as possible. After the so called window of opportunity closes the fluency channels begin a slow shut down. Not that it is impossible to learn a new language, you can, but no just as clear and fluent as a native. There are tricks and other awareness related techniques that allow for an artificial likeness to fluency but it is not the same. Again, you really need to be aware, awake of what you are doing. Basically anybody can do it but as languages go a slight mispronunciation can give away loads of information about you the speaker.

Be that as it may, the anomaly here is not whether one can pronounce right or not or how best to achieve pronunciation in any given language. There is one factor I have never heard discussed in major scientific ways and that is the negative side effects that mispronunciation produces in natives when the target language is produced. This Pavlovian reaction to the mispronunciation of the target language is of interest to me. It ranges the gamut from admiration, positive-negative, when accents acquire an accepted pronunciation to total rejection to both the speaker and the language produced.

I am brought to this topic because I was watching a tv news program earlier this morning. The Swedish tv channel called 4 had an Australian guest in its morning reportage and the guest tried to reproduce a Swedish word and was relieved to have pronounced the word right which was no small feat since it was a word with an ö.  This is tantamount to seeing foreigners trying to reproduce the -ird in bird or the -ur in fur. It was not the kind of relief one would expect to be a relief from achieving positive result or born out of curiosity but a relief that the produced language did not create a negative reaction and was both accepted and understood by the parties at hand which in this case were all natives speakers of the Swedish language. I immediately related to this behavior because as a Swedish learner and speaker I have had my share of total rejection by other Swedish speakers for the kind of language I produce when speaking Swedish. If you are ever to learn Swedish in your lifespan be sure to take into account that the level of tolerance for mispronunciation in Sweden is a fact one needs to be able to take to task. This tolerance level is very low in Swedes. They tend to frown upon the speakers of the language who grossly overlook how to produce good spoken Swedish. They have no patience whatsoever and are ready to mock or just right out lash at the offense before them. One here ought to keep in mind that this is a natural occurrence for Swedes since their language is a tonal language. That they are more or less tolerant than other tonal language groups is up for grabs but if Chinese are any indication than tonal languages have a characteristic as being intolerant to speakers who mispronounce the language than we’re in for it for the rough.

I personally don’t take Swedish intolerance personally, not anymore anyways because I know this sort of behavior cuts right across the board even when it comes to native speakers. I live between Stockholm and Scania and boy do these natives from Småland have things to say about 08’s and mouth potatoes. Although this level of tolerance is painfully more acute towards immigrants. We feel it more the so because though Swedish people are themselves largely unawares about how their own language functions, and that can be said about any group pf language speakers, by the bye’s, they fail to take into account courtesy. They have no time for considerations such as the fact that one is trying to learn their language. They will ask you how long have you been in the country just to gauge the severity of the offense. For some asinine reason, really, Swedes will not help out with one’s language problems. I Personally am baffled at this behavior because both in English and Spanish although not the Good Samaritans we do extend a helping hand when it comes to learning languages. But that’s just the American in me.

King of the Gypsies – (183X 153 cm) 2007 Canvas, Acrylic, Spray, Collage, Marker, Dymo av Andreas Torverud

I don’t consider myself a man of God though I like to think that whatever communion I hold with higher powers at least is in the vicinity of God. Though I haven’t specified what sort of God you and I tend to think of the same God, this is English and English speaking people, for the most part, where I come from anyways, tend to worship the Judeo-Christian deities.  Though I don’t like to think of those deities in that religion as deities I worship I often find myself prey to their old rhetoric and certainly my background is afilled with rites and traditions having to do with what is known as Christianity. While I pray and talk to a God this God is a close relative of the Judeo-Christian variant. I believe there is a higher power which more oft than not nourishes or finds nourish in the old Luther variants and the old Catholic faiths.  No matter what I do and think, when I connect to a higher power, the old forms of addressing the Gods reenter myself. Suffice to say, I can’t rid myself of my Christian background no matter how much I rationalize my relation to God by denying Christianity altogether.

I am brought to this soon to be baptized as an old personal conundrum of mine because, here in Sweden, at work, there is this man who is a practicing Christian. He recently engaged in an act of charity that has left me quite baffled and thinking about my own charity activities. This person at work gave money to a couple of gypsies, or Romani as they are known here in Sweden. I’ll just let all your prejudices run amok while I get to what I am saying. So, I was introduced into the picture because these Romani people had difficulty in speaking Swedish and the man in this pair was able to speak Spanish due to several stints in Spain. I had seen them before in the town. I often saw the man playing accordion music coupled with a deep hollow look in his face while I was on my way to the liquor store, systembolaget, as it is known here, and at other times outside the store where I buy my groceries. He made his living by playing the accordion hoping some kind souls would throw in a coin or two into his hat. This is easier said than done because in small suburbia Sweden this sort of pandering is often the cause of perplexity and amazement more than an appeal to charity. This tends to throw off realities in disarray in picture perfect socialist Sweden which prides itself of higher standards in taking care of its people. That someone would even dare to consider to play music for money and this in plain winter in Sweden is more than an affront to the senses of the Swedish. It just bodes ills and certainly the harsh winter and cold weather don’t make the heart of the Swedish people any less merciful just because someone is daring the weather to try and cash in on some easy alms specially when someone is indirectly thrashing the old Craddle to the Grave philosophy. Summer perhaps, but winter? Of course this doesn’t give the Swedes a good reputation and since many people consider the Swede as a cold being well, you get the picture. This particular type of Romani people came from a country in the Balkans and they are despised with all might in Europe all over.  So they tend to create small schisms in the daily affairs of small town suburbia here in Sweden, you just don’t do that.  Especially in small towns where every aspect of behavior is closely monitored and inspected for flaws. I kid not, this is 1984.

Well enter I.

Not only do I cringe at the sight of accordion playing gypsies because I know Swedes will not react well to it, I associate myself to their lot because they also have black hair and are immigrants. I would not have made anymore deal out of it until X from work, the practicing Christian, asked me if I could help him as an interpreter for him. I went along and we decided to meet at his church. There they were. The dark haired and dark skinned Gypsies I had seen playing the accordion before. Now, because I have rejected all notions of Christianity in my life I am a full blown cynic. I just don’t trust people’s intentions and specially, let’s be honest here, gypsies. Boy did I have baggage there. I fought off my own prejudices and certainly I wasn’t  about to help them, it was the Christian, so what the heck. I went neutral and the doubt shadows were repressed even more further down the I gutter.

I listened and interpreted what was said and learnt a thing or two about their lot in frigid Sweden. I could not help but get a whiff of a stench that was reeking a scam a mile away. Woe humanity if I ever am in charge of pity because I had my bullshit detector on full detect.  Shame on me. I could not help draw images of what I would do where I destitute in a foreign country and basically rely entirely on the compassion and care of others though the images and perceptions of being manipulated allowed more room for skepticism than anything else. Perhaps that’s why we are drawn to church. I left the interpretation run its course. I was certainly not there to offer a helping hand more than my intellectual traits gave forth and I thought more than enough was done on my behalf by listening and letting thoughts and actions, ideas whatnot sink in. The Christian guy though had a tough cookie to chew on. He was left with the responsibility of helping the Romani people and find a solution to their economical and housing problems. Yes, they turned to Christianity to solve their problems which made me feel like a shepherd dog looking out for the lambs. I was open about my impressions and forwarded these accordingly by the way. Yes, it was another one of those open and sincere observations by cynical me.

The days marched on and snow covered the landscape with meters of the white stuff until I caught up with the Christian guy on his way to catch a train. We chatted a little and found out that the Romani people were taken by car to another bigger town up north in Sweden and not sufficient with that they payed the first month’s rent for the poor Romani accordion player guy who knew a bit of Spanish. I was frankly in awe at the leap of faith my fellow college and his church made, I certainly would not have done nearly as much. But they did.

I suppose that is the gulf that separates us, his belief system and mine which is seriously deficient in acts of charity. I have a hard time giving and furthermore giving in the name of the Lord. I wonder how is it possible to abandon the cruelties that accompany every day and how is it possible to abandon in total ignorance those acts that chip away at our own charity until we become cynics like me. No, am not about to trust people like my Christian friend did, which I said, is a tremendous leap of faith no questions asked kinda guy. Am just asking because it is certainly a hard act to follow. One must be ready to abandon this world and enter one where we are to trust blindly that we are helping, that we are not being fooled and that even if are being fooled there is a price for that somewhere.

I went to a festival in my small town Sweden were I in turn came under the influences of the spirits. Everybody knows everybody here. Now, am not trying to excuse the fact I behaved inappropriately at the festival, although I haven’t even described this inappropriateness it goes to show how weird this whole charade is. My inappropriateness was the fact that I was drunk and that I am a high school teacher here in Small town Sweden.  I suppose were I to live in a large town this angst would not kill me as much as it does today. But there you have it that the angst has been eating the vowels of my guts since that day.

I realize now why it bothers me so much. It is the whole saving face sort of business. Keeping up with appearances. Since everybody knows everybody you are supposed to cultivate a small amount of decent decorum because in essence, in small town Sweden this is basically all one has before itself.

This industrial small town has its positions in society all locked in to certain peeps and basically climbing the ladder is not so much as really standing in line and waiting for the position to befall you accordingly.

Now I know am not going to live here forever, so I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but there you have it, am still adapting to the country and passing through this process of feeling angst has been one of the most grueling processes I have undergone in my stay in Sweden.

Writer’s note: Written July 05 2010

I met this guy at work who had suffered a heart attack at least a year or two ago. He was a lot more plump and filled in his face then when I first caught eye of him which then I thought he was too skinny in his upper cranial self then the rest of his corporal self. This encounter would not be of any relevance at all where it not that I was distraught by the whole affair brought upon no less by the enthusiasm I showed when I saw him. I waved in earnest when I saw him. Yet I failed in all earnest to relate to his arterial problems as soon as we understood we had to bring upon the subject of the fact of the reason of his job absence. His heart beating could not be heart felt at all. The whole idea of us discussing his existential being revolved around the idea that he was at work with a bad heart and well how hard it was to work heartbroken and at work.

It is always a source of amusement to me how good language always flourishes like a spring meadow just in these sort of nick of time instances in the most inappropriate of times. I mean, I could of have come up with all the possible heart idioms and sayings when the amicable rapport was most ripe. I fought my own self and containment was mum.

I listened intently to his heart condition and how it limited his work, his hopes and the limitations of his hopes and what he wanted to do but could not do and minus here and plus there it all added up to the fact that I was talking to the guy at work so it kind of rounded up quite nicely and all for all intents and purposes it was great to have him back in an odd kind of Swedish way. To be frank I could not even muster a take it easy for the fear of insult. I never had so much to say and stood still as much as today.

I wanted to go away as fast I could from the whole situation and I suppose the clinical explanation coming out of his mouth noticed this and pretended, as I pretended, to cajole a good intention gone awry into continuing the peace for the sake of not ruining the friendly encounter. Yet I was interested in hearing him out but I was not ready for a bitter reality that is present in those that suffer the ailments my coworker undergoes. I was and was not rather. I am of the lot that argues that things or that what is right is right is a spouse of legitimacy for all kinds of excuses that authorize the spoken word and its freedom to be. Yet here I was not ready to allow this principle to abound it its most momentous glory.

Go figure.

There are like a million things going on in my life. Worst yet my immigrant status in Sweden isn’t helping at all. The way I compare and contrast makes the lens I view the Swedish landscape with rather dirty, lopsided and at best old and worn out outlooks. Yet by my own standards, I have come a long way and am ready for the next step, dios mediante.

I am moving out of the small village I live in. Good riddance to small town mentality I say. I am American after all, I migrate, I must move on, it’s in my genes, say what you will, but I do carry the blood of my northamericans. 10 years amongst the people of the town and all I have to show for it is a few salutations by way of courtesy. This is infuriatingly a disappointment with great consequences. Yet for the same token rewarding in many ways. By moving on I am showing an upward mobility they have not seen in years. Off course, I write this with a small grain of sarcasm.

I am also at a crucial crux in my career tinged, by the way, with Swedish angst. I can no longer keep my identity intact and must give leeway to local pressure to accommodate the new and allow the old to breathe yet. With this I mean that I must not allow my constant desire for approval to stand in the way of the local custom of avoiding bragging. I must push forward without bringing about too much attention.

I am rather astounded at the very little desire for upward mobility in society in these parts of the neck of my woods. Remember I am in the land of the infidels, In Partibus Infidelium, I am in terra non sancta, this should not be happening. Protestantism here is not at all related to the one we find in the US. In the US we are inculcated that we are destined for things. Manifest Destiny best describes this idea of destiny in all of us of Northamerican breed. But here in Sweden there is a complacency and a sense of place that defies the very fabric of my soul. This I contend with in the everyday.

The demons are hard to keep at bay, I ask myself, when are people in the Swedish Highlands going to take my intelligence seriously? The very mentality they posses is rather ethnocentric. They are culturally encapsulated. They see not beyond their own tip of their noses. How does one beat that?

As I recalled earlier, in my Swedish blog, people here are prone to brag but theirs is rather complementary, that is, they do it to cause an effect on others. They do it because they want to hike up a notch or two their status if only briefly.

I fight many voices in my head but there is not anything unusual there. For the most part my silence allows for volumes to speak. In fact, I seem to have been applying a sort of Taoism of which I had no idea of until recently. I say this because I recently downloaded an audio lecture by Herbert Allen Giles. This has worked to my advantage really. I mostly keep quiet and only throw questions at my opponents to disrupt the rut. I desist and hesitate to engage in any serious discussion because of my Swedish. While I certainly have made strides in the language according to my own accord I am far from being a fluent user of the language. I only succeed at best with 70% in actual real situations where the milieu presents itself optimal for said activities. This bothers me quite much indeed, but I push forward either ways and try and ignore the hinders that culture and language has to distinguish those from the local fauna and those that are not. I consider myself very much like the main character in John Banville’s novel titled Copernicus. What knowledge I posses that is going to change the destiny of humanity I have not an inkling about nor know I have it in any fashion at all.

Other everyday ailments and seemingly unimportant by their place in this text, are my nocturne expeditions to the realm of dreams. There is a change afoot. This segment is beyond the cultural debris I just dumped. Really. This is more transcendental in more ways that I can perhaps even myself imagine. This concerns my ill and poorly managed spiritual life. I scour if only, do to the nature of my astrological sign, the bare surface of the things at stake. I suppose it is to my ens credit that we Gemini engage in this nonchalant attitude for the importance that draw us to them. We experience more but perhaps ignore more as well. Yet I was touched rather deeply recently. The reasons this experience is more important than others is a mystery to me. I guess I am fragile now. I have never cared as much as I do now. I guess that that was the importance or lesson of my ‘dream’. I put it in quotes because I have had these dreams before. You see, I suffer from what the scientific community calls Nocturnal Paralysis or parasomnia. The so-called nonobjective bandwagon known as paranormal activity has a say in my experience as well. They call it etheric. I need to get in touch my the astral aspects of my existence. Normally I am just rather afraid to deal with this sort of phenomena in as much as I am afraid to deal with my inteligence due to the color of my skin or my race.

This is very odd because I have always fought the white. Though I am myself somewhat white if you will.

Am finally losing it.

I really thought I could keep up with the charade my persona displays in the everyday here in the Swedish Highlands. This charade, this coraza or core that shields me from the rest of society is slowly showing signs of fractures, small fissures here and there that allow the Stranger outside in. Not by my own devices but by the force of the everyday. Think of Superman. Just a little piece of cryptonite is enough to cripple him. I walk on cryptonite now. I am strong away from home but I have been away so long now that somehow I am becoming more Swedish than I am willing to admit. I don’t really like it nor am I specially interested in not becoming one.

I have learned to manipulate all the social codes to pass off as a Swede. I won’t list the unfathomable antics one has to go through to more or less show signs of ‘integration’ or ‘assimilation’, it suffices to say that I defer with no great effort to these social conducts in order to be left alone. When I manipulate these codes I have a goal, in this case, the goal is to keep at bay Swedes. But not entirely for the purposes above mentioned but also as well for disguise purposes. This is not something that I do with a conscious intention to acquire for the sake of profesionalization; in fact, it isn’t as of recent that I notice that I do these antics with intended effects. Before it was mere curiosity. I observed my position in society and the reactions the Swedes reciprocated with and then observed at large to see if my initial observations were indeed true.

Like I said, I did not begin to do this consciously. I simply observed a pattern. A recurrent event is hard not to notice and I wrote down these incidents in my daily life. To give an example, I recall quite easily how Swedes initially saw in me some sort of foreignness and when addressing me spoke English. But then, after a few months stay Swedes began addressing me in Swedish. This amazed me very much me, taking pride in my identity and all, felt quite offended at this new view the Swede had of me. Not that they did not see I was a foreigner but that somehow I radiated a swedishness unbeknownst to me. Another one is corporal. Swedish people detest the way Americans walk. That is, of course, in Sweden, am sure they have nothing against this body behavior in US proper. Eitherways, I, for all intents and purposes, am an American in that respect. I walk straight and very much goal minded or determined if you will. The Swedes though won’t cut me slack for this. They pointed out very early in my arrival that I was somehow being ‘cocky’. So I learned to walk relaxed and began to observe, not intentionally but on the background so to speak and adequately adapted or acquired this behavior to achieve a purpose. So these days I normally walk with my head bent downwards and stare at the ground I walk. This seems to be acceptable to Swedes. Because as of yet I’ve not received recrimination for it and find that most Swedes themselves partake int his odd sort of sauntering. At most people ask me if am ok or they somehow go about making assumptions that am deep in thought. Which brings me to the last observation, like I said there isn’t much space to spare. I am rather silent. Silence in Sweden isn’t a problem as it would be in the US. It is very much accepted as a social conduct. So I am rather quiet to achieve this adaptation Swedes seek in me, in other words, I do this to achieve a goal. That goal being to appease Swedish demands on me to comport myself as Swedes do.

The problem is that these behaviors are putting a strain on my already fragmented identity. Slowly but surely am displaying loads of Swedish behavior that it is unacceptable to my own standards.

’nuff said there.

When I was living in California during the 80’s and 90’s I never felt like an immigrant. I feared the migra and the ghost of deportation haunted me 24/7 no questions asked. But I never felt like an immigrant. I could never relate, for example, to real immigrants, those that traveled land, sea and air to get to California. They were a world apart. Specially Mexicans who were from Mexico’s deepest south, boy, were they ever immigrants. Like a new dimension sucked them into my time capsule. Either way’s I was at home whether I had legal papers or not. And am just darn sure there were loads like me back then.

Here in Sweden am an immigrant and to be totally up front with you I still don’t have the slightest inkling what in heaven’s tarnation that means, this is true, really. But I can’t escape it, people see it in me and hence end up in their warped sense of a vortex that includes the nasty blackhole of feeling like an immigrant. Every now and then I may have an outburst about my condition of being an immigrant because society is steered by those conditions and not my conditions, O Captain my Captain is neigh here. But for the most part, and I do mean the most part, I live oblivious to the fact that am an immigrant and I live in Sweden, period.

And I think I don’t tend to live my life hating every nook and cranny of Sweden and consider myself well adapted to this society with a few minors discomforts here and there. I certainly don’t go around spewing my complaints down my breath every waking second of the day. Yet there are some and these some, boy do they ever eat, shit and sleep I hate this place their waking 24 hours being. God, I can’t stand it when another immigrant comes to me looking for solace or a sympathetic ear to pour down every darn ache and pain that ails their soul for being in Sweden.

As an American individual it is very hard for me to follow the We doctrine. Afterall, what is most rewarded in our American ens is the almighty I. Here in Sweden I have had to give in to the We collective. This hasn’t been easy at all. It is perhaps no wonder that it is no easy task to induce Swedish students to capitalize the I in their writing when they write i with a small consonant. In Sweden it is foreign to write I with a capital letter. That in itself should be obvious enough as a cultural clue.

I am a foreigner in We land. Even in México this We form of speaking was alien to me. And there it is as rampant as bunnies in the old prairie. I have unfortunately in the sly begun to use the We for propaganda purposes in my everyday life. I am a tad ashamed to admit this ill allocated use of the We form for personal gain. It pays dividends in the many whenever I use the plural in my everyday locutions, and I shame not for the positive yields I receive everytime I speak to people. People here in Sweden love the We form for a weird reason.

For an American who is encouraged to strap its boots by itself or romanticizes the loner in its everyday ens this collective thinking is akin to coming to a strange land.

Off course I have metaphorized the We consciousness into an issue of economics and I just could of easily turned into an issue of crossing borders and turned it into a borderlands speak but I feel economics bespeaks better my feelings now.

Here in Sweden I have been put to a battery of mental hogwash unprecedented for me. Not only have I internalized angst as part of internal dish washing but also battle certain narratives that run through my ens. I tell you, you cannot underestimate the power of another culture. Though am still strong in my ens and basically still use my xicano ens as a daily means to fend off the encroaching milieu it is hard to ignore it.

Mental hygiene is what best can be called the series of thoughts I go through in order to just feel normal and well. What caught me completely off guard the past years was angst. I never suffered angst. But here the climate is fertile ground for it. There is no sun and I blame angst on lack of sun. Mind you I have no proof of it but since I am from Calido Forno their differences are quite palpable between the two places, Sweden and Califas proper. The amount of sadness that surrounds my environment is tectonic. I remember hearing an audio cassette by a Spanish writer from the better last years of the xx century last year. His name is Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. And the one short story that keeps rolling over my head is El Año en Spitzberg. In the short tale he recounts the adventures of a man held captive in the archipelago of Svalbard. He is sent there by the Russian authorities for committing a crime of passion. What most impacted me though was the process of solitude that slowly took over the man’s mental health. I felt every word as my very own.

But what gets me is the mental hogwash. I dwell on for days on minor stuff that just doesn’t make any sense at all. Regurgitation that takes a hold of a narrative on my head and it just takes for ever to realize that nothing is wrong and everything is ok. I don’t understand this part of the Swedish culture and even more so since I internalized this ångst feature in me. But I can tell you one thing, its not making a home in me.

Boy, is age a bitch! Not only am I ailing and wailing both intrinsically and exteriorly but am depressed and I live on the countryside in Sweden. Top that off! Worst is that I managed to finally, after seven hundred years in Sweden, to see the irony in the word Sweden: Sw -eden, get it? An inverted one at that if anything. Oh, I know, am bitching, cut me some slack, its the cheapest therapy I can afford …. Sweden might just be that for a couple of years but after a while it’s a living hell! Jesus am I ever dour, rue and raunchy because my creativity venues are severely cut. I am stuck in the middle of a forest which just might do wonders for a stressed out city life for any other one, heck, it did it for me. But now I yearn back to the frey. I need life not this dead forest that surrounds me to be able to squeeze a story or two so that I can feel la vida loca running through my veins again. Will work for a little excitement, got any to spare?

But back to my aches. I swear it is no idea to get aches at this age. I have had all sorts of paranoia and hypochondriac hallucinations about the other or this disease, ailment and malady known to human kind and promptly found them to be near related to my little baby ache. Internet was loads of help in that department. I am a self confessed wuss. If men ever had babies, boy, I tell you. The fact of the matter is that I have faired well throughout the years besides the recent bout of minor depression I have had the past few years due to the solitude I have embraced. But heck I chose my own poison and now that I am well I am a stranger to this state of being. Well as in I breathe and wake up sufficiently sane to face another day in the Swedish highlands.

I recently had a friend come visit to me and he pointed out that if I was in Tijuana I would have a load of friends everywhere. He is right. By far what I miss the most in this self imposed exile is the social life I had. I know I can’t get it back the way it was before but I can assure it wouldn’t take many years before I regained some of it.

Though somehow I have come to my senses and decided that this solitude in the highlands has to stop somehow. I am going to try and get me a circle of friends no matter how huge the task at hand may seem. And believe you me, trying is going to be a tough cookie to crack because most relationships in this part of the world require one to be born here to be anywhere successful. Now you might think I exaggerate but you must remember that I am in the countryside, the boonies of you will, of Sweden.

Cross your fingers then ese!

It’s a hot summer day in Sweden. Am darn sure the neysayers are in lockstep now to denounce the end of days. Back in May we had a few lovely sunny, blue skies like these ones. The Jeremias were out in force in no time. The farmers this and the farmers that. The media decried the ozone hole enemy number 1. I am dead sure the Swedes are addicted to bad weather. They actually want grey skies and dull weather. I kid not. Either that or the overwhelming majority of Swedes are all farmers of sorts or another. I can’t wait to hear the wailing.

Protestants can’t be happy. They can’t handle it. They are taught to repress happiness. Happiness means ill bodings for some reason. We have a saying in México that functions like a threat: you’ll know what it will be like to love God in the land of the indians. And there is another one more panhispanic: little town huge inferno. It sort of it is like that right now. Like one student of mine complained once about our classroom activities: It’s too much fun.

Swedes in general have a hard time finding a middle ground for some reason. This in spite of the fact that Swedes take small pride in telling everyone that it is imposible to translate the word lagom which loosely translates to near perfection. Don’t ask me; it’s more of a feeling than a word.

Of course, being in the minority here I only get to watch by the sides all their nagging. I have my own middle ground. I nag about the Swedes. It’s my kick. Or there are my observations. Mind you these observations aren’t taken with a grain a salt. Swedes abhor absolutely when people point out their faults. They just can’t stand when someone tells them they are wrong. Don’t ever do that. Or heaven will fall from the sky.

Swedish people are by nature perfectionists. Yet for the same token they fail to learn from their mistakes. They do not want to know of their mistakes. They tend to repress them in some odd and weird way.They press the panic button everytime a whiff of the stuff hits the nostrills.

Update: For those of you that know Swedish Eva Zetterman has placed on the web a little bit on art and media related to chicanos: Att skapa ett vi – gatukonst i Kalifornien

She has also done it in English, so there is no need to panic: Signs of Identity Processes – Street Art in California Eva Zetterman. And get aload of the title of the pdf file: haina_6_zetterman.pdf

First published: December 31, 2006 @ 21:36

Finally. I found this paper I knew was cooking because I spoke several times to the researcher myself. I managed to ask her once, right smack in the middle of her research if it was possible to see her work but that proved be a no-no and ever since then I have been out of touch from the lovely gal. Either way here is an excerpt of her work and if it interests you one can download the frigging thang here.

Author: Jonsson, Carla
Title: Code-switching in Chicano Theater: Power, Identity and Style in Three Plays by Cherríe Moraga

Keywords: code-switching, Chicano theater, Chicano, Chicano discourse, power, identity, language ideology, third space, style, hybridity, code-mixing

The thesis examines local and global functions of code-switching and code-mixing in Chicano theater, i.e. in writing intended for performance. The data of this study consists of three published plays by Chicana playwright Cherríe Moraga.

Another proyect on the go is by an old professor of mine at Stockholm University, she herself is mexican and has lived many years in Aztlán.

‘Food and Identity in Late Twentieth-Century Chicano Literature’

Even though the importance of food in the individual and collective identity of a group of people already has been studied in detail by the social sciences, literary criticism has paid little attention to the presence of food and drink in literature in general, and, much less, in Mexican and Chicano literature. Still, the presence of these everyday elements in literature in not arbitrary, it is an important part of the literary work; by the use of factors related to food (such as the preparation of dishes, the ingredients used, and the very act of eating), the texts attempt to help the reader understand the association with the Chicano identity discourse.

Mexican identity shows itself in various ways in a great deal of Chicano literature. The Aztlan myth is a fundamental element that both Mexicans and Chicanos have in common. Both groups can be considered as one, since the search for the Aztlan of the Aztecs has been and still is an important factor for all descendants of Mexicans. Aztlan, a mythological place that occupies an important part of the collective consciousness of all Mexicans (including Chicanos) cannot be placed geographically. Thus, what is ‘Mexican’ cannot be defined as something that only exists south of the border, but something that all descendants of Mexicans have.

Sounds rather interesting to me and I can wait to get my hands on this one. I never really gave much thought to food issues in Aztlán so this paper ought to wake ones appetite quite exquisitely.

Lastly, I want to mention a few other goodies. Firstly, Chicano culture is making headlines overhere and in proper Aztlán too!

Gregory Rodriguez: Swedish Mexican Food, Straight From the U.S. Sweden indulges in American culture by going on a taco binge.

You see, here — as in other parts of Europe — Mexican food was not brought over by Mexicans at all. Rather, it was introduced by American TV shows and movies. That explains why there’s a “Gringo Special” on the menu at the Taco Bar, a Swedish fast-food chain, and why nearly all the Mexican products in the grocery stores — “Taco Sauce,” “Taco Spice Mix” and “Guacamole Dip” — are labeled in English.

Beleive it or not a swedish blog got mentioned in the article so it made the rounds quite nicely.

Lastly, this blog is linked in a wiki paper! No kidding joe

Well the snow seems to be up for it today. Since its been gone practically all winter, today’s white downpour is almost a welcome sight. I certainly lost all respect for the darn fluffy stuff since depression decided to house itself in me due to it. It being la nieve of course. One wouldn’t believe but depression is a side effect of a prolonged sunless winter. I never realized how true this is until all ganas vanished like the moon does up in the North of Sweden during certain periods of the year. One is always tired or tires easily. I wish I knew I was depressed. You think of depressed people and the image before one is that of someone being unable to cope with anything. Not so in Sweden. I am sure half the countryside were I live suffers from that. I think I am beginning to understand why smiles aren’t that copious between December and March. At work the peak of tiredness has had its entré recently. Everybody was tired. I was even trying to cheer my students who somehow are impacted by all their surroundings. And so my brain didn’t know I was depressed or half depressed because like the rest of my new countrymen and countrywomen, we manage to eek out an existence under said conditions. I have a dumb brain I swear. No seriously, the dumbest for for all good reasons I suppose. It just refuses to send me signals I am sick or depressed. Perhaps because it knows I whine too much or perhaps if I am notified of the sickness it would go to panic mode rather easily. You’d think I know myself after hanging around this body for over 40 years, but no, am happily bliss in ignorance.

Perhaps I should get some sort of antidepressant for my new problem. Alcohol doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It is actually becoming a bore of sorts. If I do have this problem I really wouldn’t know what do under the influence of antidepressants in dour Sweden. Just last year I was still happy jolly old me and that was enough to make me deviate from the norm just a tad enough to make me weird int he eyes of Swedes. I hate to see myself under the pill. That would be a spectacle wouldn’t it? Actually being depressed sort of suits my personality somehow. Dark, somber, bitter, acidic, wry and so forth. I suppose its cheaper for the mental health system to just send me to Spain or some half sunny land in Europe. Because that’s all it is, lack of sun. I certainly hope that is that which ails my troubled soul. Oh well, we’ll see eventually. And yeah, it is still snowing as I type this in the Swedish Highlands.

I pride myself in being able to detect other people’s place of origin. My rate of accuracy these days rounds to about 70% and in worst cases a least I get the continent where they from right. It used to be loads better when I lived in good’ol Aztlán. On occasions I can even detect another Hispanic within meters from me or at times a mile or so. I can sense they speak Spanish. So my ethnic radar is fully functional for the most part even though I seldom use it up here in the Swedish Highlands. My radar, which used to trigger itself on at the minor indication that an id was needed only suffered a minor glitch at the beginning of my residency here in Sweden. I could not distinguish a Pole from a Finnish. Heck, they were all white, blond and blue eyed to use a general saying. This, however, changed over time. I can, at the very least, distinguish who is a Swede and who ain’t it though it is tricky at times. One would even think that Swedes are a very homogeneous people but one would be surprised to find out the rate of interracial marriage over here. The only difference is that this interraciallity is for the most part white on white.

Either way, I was aghast the other day that somebody confused me for being an Arab. I would not otherwise be bothered by this comparison but being here in Sweden it did shake my foundations and hit right about my San Andreas fault. It hurt my American pride the least to say. Ignorance is an enemy not to be underestimated because it can strike where one least expects it. So what does one do in said circumstances? I am afraid the reader might know the answer already. Yes, one bites the bitter pill and swallows whole heartedly the poison present before one.

Boy, I face my life with little obstacles at all. Either that or am in terrible denial. I am a teacher and I have a job. For the most part, here in Sweden this would just as well be enough but there is the business of that little American worm squirming in my intestines. I want more. Not only have I signed up for more English courses at a university here in Sweden, I also asked to learn how to be an electrician. Not content with that I think that I am about to learn how to drive. In my whopping forties. All that learning. If only this learning would be reflexive so that I could draw some lesson about learning but I guess that is to stand out in the cold. Perhaps I should take like a sabbatical and let things rest, enjoy being a teacher and draw lessons out of my career. Maybe I should enjoy kicking it back.

I guess I am no Mexican in that fashion. I am always doing something. Not that Mexicans arent doing something all the time but like the Swedes they too tend to settle down on one thing and call it a day. What is it that I want? That is the real question.

One of my co-workers, who happens to be an immigrant, has said that I want to be better than the Swedes. I confess that when I first heard this I was somewhat taken aback. I have never entertained the idea of becoming better for the sake of becoming better than another person or ethnic group in this case.

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