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.

It be only befitting I should finish the year by writing my last post in the vernacular. Am in a Xicano mood. So I spiffed up the good old haunt Yonder Lies It. Mind you, it is the only blog that has consistently kept its name since its inception. Lest you’ve forgotten I maintain several other blogs. Well, the short lived xicano blogsphere vanished or I just ain’t aware of its whereabouts. I don’t wanna go down that path. I believe I already kissed the old porslin queen as much as Richard Rodriguez puked red and green in an Argument with my Mexican father. There is very little to add up for the year 2007 in English or xicanismo at that.

Though I still find myself at odds with a language that for so long tortured me by means of questioning my English fluency and nativeness to only come to Sweden and realize how deeply ingrained English is in me only to default to Spanish as my primary source of communication all unconsciously off course. Suddenly, Spanish became the language to be had and English ceased to be a source of joy. Before blogger I ate, thought and wrote in English. There was no room for Spanish.

I have no ready answer for this. I have put forth the question several times before and the answer eludes me. English, after so many years of struggling to make it mine and suddenly realizing it is mine become a lost cause only to be taken for granted and never straddle more the fear of abandonment. It is a small victory of sorts for me. Yet I now long and miss the old chap so much that I can not quench my thirst to hear good old English again.

The idea that am an English native speaker tends to work in many weird ways in Sweden. They see a brown, black haired person that speaks fluent English and they stand baffled before me. They don’t expect a person like me. A so called non-American being so American. Many fail to understand the multicultural aspects of our society even though many strive and look towards the US as a model for this very multi-kulti, as is it called in Sweden, society.

The fact that I lack American citizenship, political at that, does create confusion in the best of them. Specially to the ones that fear Americans. They can then be free to speak their mind without having to offend the very entity they fear most: the gringo American. I stand before them defending a culture that denies me yet a culture I form part of. Am baffled at it in as much or moreso then they do themselves.

*

I suppose that the best of 2007 was that I leave it as a teacher. Here in Sweden people tend to wear their titles as a pride badge of sorts. They actually play the part. It is not in my nature to do so because the Swede tends to become a sorts of authority on the matter which it is not to be questioned at all. I am of a different nature. I cannot be that authority yet. It must be my americanness that delimits my ego or vanity from acquiring said attitude. It is deeply engrained in me that I can always do more and better before I can even contemplate the idea that I am a teacher. An apprentice of the craft am I for sure.

I have learned a lot yet I feel I have loads more to learn. I am not done learning yet despite the fact that it is advised I stop from learning at my age. I am supposed to let go. Can I let go?

*

There is, however, a small bit of comfort that I am a teacher because I am an authority on something, in this case, the English and Spanish language. Moreso because I am a native speaker of said languages.

*

I was walking towards the bus stop. I had decided for a new route and while this new-old routine paved the way for what am about to detail what made it special was a series of incidents, curious ones at that. I had left work a bit too early to rush downhill as I usually do. I tend to time the time I take to make it just in time with a few minutes to spare while the bus arrives from its departure point to my spot. So I ventured on a different venue risking somewhat the time space I usually have for this daily chore. On my way I recall being hesitant about an idea that was lurking behind my head and persisted in convincing me to go to some After Work event. This rather insistent idea was no doubt brought upon a news advertisement I had earlier seen in the morning paper where said organized venues for debauchery of these sorts are held. Mind you, not that I don’t myself engage in the pleasures of Bacus but I often tend to resist the mingling that accompanies said public displays of ethylic atmospheres preferring instead to do so before the written word. Either way, like always, I can never convince myself to go or I can never muster enough gull to venture in a pub to drink a few good old beers in company of others.

I felt thirsty and I stopped at the local kiosk, as they are called here in Sweden, to purchase something to quench my thirst. These sort of huts serve as the local junk food provider for the vicinities as they too tend to sell all kinds of disturbing media for my mexican catholic eyes as well as the local gossip yellow press. I stopped to form a queue and while I was awaiting my turn to buy my pop soda a small boy was buying candy. Now, I only have so much time to play around with so I couldn’t help but feel stressed at the little boy’s patience as he decided with intense interest over the candy he wanted to buy. For a moment I just stared at the boy and looked upon the clerk who tended the boy’s taste and choice of candy erstwhile the child verbally pointed out to the clerk what he wanted. It seems to me that he must of have named like fifteen different sorts of candies all by their name before I finally heard that there was but 50 öre left in the purchasing thus calming my impatience somewhat. This made me reminisce if I ever also once long ago knew the names of my candies.

I even entertained the thought that I perhaps felt somewhat jealous at this ability to name candy by its name. I bought my soda and went along but I can’t seem to forget this incident, however weird it was, and yes, I made the bus too.

I believe I just shook the living lights and faith foundations out of a European or Scandinavian as they prefer themselves to be known. I don’t normally like to engage in this sort of intellectual bouts with any human being beside the blank pages that the Internet offer at the disposal of those who are in the know to use said device to churn out intellectual waste such as mine. I say so because I don’t consider my intellectual output to be of the most pristine sort, indeed, I deem it pretty much low carb if you will as it is very light in many respects and albeit with as little substance as possible though its appearances might at times indicate otherwise or right out deceit the eye though I intended not to do so.

I confessed to a person who is being tested on its friendship. Said person seems to be friend material both intellectually and spiritually as well. The outpour tested his beliefs as I pitted my beliefs against his. I flatly renounced all judeo-christian faith right in his face. This rendered asunder all faith platform said friend material stood upon. One might very well wonder what sort of being would test a friend on an intellectual basis and I would readily answer, I. However, this is a point of contention that we shall quibble further on as I proceed forward on. The gist of my spiritual platform resides on the idea that Christianity is an alien form of spirituality to Native Americans. The voices of my ancestors are still to be heard inasmuch as their voice still lingers on both in the flesh as well as in the past because it hasn’t been more than 500 years since the Christian alien force invaded our shores. This very much baffled our guest at hand. Even moreso as I called his faith a malignant virus. Though the malignant adjective was left out in the conversation but was rather implied as being such.

In retrospect I am glad I came clean about my religious beliefs to this honest to God earth man. I wish not him to believe me a man of the Church though I may convey so in our conversations. Hopelly I managed to come across as a man with not much to hide. After all, I did spoke of my spiritual convulsions during my puberty. This I speak not lightly off to anyone, in fact, not too many people in my life know of my spiritual crisis as a young pre-puberty years. Yet said person now knows of this. A gift I was willing to hand to a person I deem highly in spiritual terms. I hope he understood that.

Can barely move a finger without causing a tsunami of sweat in me. Profusely alltså. I suppose its to do with the mexican gene thang. Had I been in good ol’Califas this would not be so notorious. After all, one is by default a shadow seeker. We seek the fresh of the darkness. Either that or an air conditioned milieu. Acá is another story, as soon as the sun hits the Swedish Highlands n’ombre, am sweating like I have my own personal shower head above me. This tends to cause all sorts of conmotion from the non-using-deodorant-swedes. The same people who are blissfully unawares that their armpits reek, no, make that, stench, frown upon the beeds of sweat rolling down  in my face.

I can’t stand it. Once I start sweating it is a machine with a slow shutdown process. Or my body kicks in in Calido Forno mode. Who knows. I just can’t seem to make it stop. Luckily for me here in Sweden this sort of mild heat, ’cause I suppose we are nowhere near the temperatures of Death Valley, is a passing phenomena, so far eitherway.

I used to think that we mexicoons had an appetite for salt due to just the sweat common to us all Californios. I used to argue, with no credible evidence at hand to support my bullshit that we ate salt like cotton sugar because we sweated salt pits hence an excuse for the salty buds and the need to replenish said salts

Here in Sweden there is no salt culture, in fact, most of their foods tend to lack the old conservative spice. When I so happen to forget my place in this ancient bastion of protestantism, I often ask for some salt because my paladar somehow lures me to imagine that salt is common and is just but a matter of asking for it. What I get instead is a weird look as if I was asking for the God’s ambrosia.

- Why, pardon me sir, we don’t usually receive said request, why, we are in fact stunned at the fact, that someone would indeed ask for salt. 

So yeah, it’s hot today.

I like the swenglish version of the word time. They write it the way I titled this post, tajm. It occurred to me that I place a somewhat sentimental value to it inasmuch as it reminds me of the Spanglish word taimar, which means to tame, because tajm happens to have nearly the same phonological properties as taimar, excluding the -ar off course. Hence the association.

Though these days am far from being able to accomplish said feat. I am, you see, at an awkward position in my life and I feel time more like a sharp arrowhead on its way to pin me down like a dead insect on a wall. Though that only bespeaks half the story inasmuch that I cannot fight the propulsion of time setting its rushing intentions to penetrate the living matter that constitutes my ens.

I think pinned down would be utmost appropriate to describe the rush to beat the incoming arrowhead with its dead certain bull’s eye accuracy. Though one must admit the futility in it all, I am not denying the fact that I posses the knowledge to outsmart the trajectory of the flint. I have at my disposal a number of strategic mental solutions to beat the inevitable and in the end smile at the fact that even though I dodged the course set before me I will at most end up only moderately bruised bi it and yet succeed at any rate albeit my way.

I have always been unable to deal with success. Now am not boasting about the kind of success that one often associates success with but rather those minor successes that make the very fabric of ordinary life.

I recall that I once became some sort of an unintended hero to my fellow classmates. I then attended a middle high school in Tijuana. The name of the school was Secundaria Para Trabajadores Federal número 42. It was a source of great pride for me to attend that school because it lay in a corner of great importance for me and the city. It was in the Lázaro Cardenas grounds, a piece of dirt dear to us tijuanenses. I don’t exactly recall the lesson at the time but I recall more the people and the act I unsuspectingly became a part of in a web of events I did not fathom as much back then. I had spitted from a second floor and my spit had landed on our teacher’s head. Without much hesitation we all rushed into the classroom and pretended nothing had happened. That however, did not hinder the teacher from finding out exactly who it was who had perpetrated the deed. I seem to have been expulsed for a day and when I returned the following day I was received with a standing ovation that shook my senses and rendered me unable to deal with the acclaim. I then proceeded to ignore the acclaim and much to my own surprise thought myself above the acclaim and started to belittle those applauding me by simple going to my seat!

It just seems that I sour the moment near success and I suppose that is what ails me timewise these days.


Have had a weird headache today. Someone told me it was because thunder weather was in the air. I never realized that one could be influenced by the weather in such a fashion. I suppose I never thought about how the weather might affect the body. It reminds me a little about the crazy notion in México that pregnant women have to wear a safety pin somewhere in their garments when the moon is out. Now I never paid much attention to this type of relations to weather conditions, until today. What if that is true?

I was, am ready to believe that for an awkward reason if you will. Am I becoming more gullible as the years go by? Here in Sweden they tend to fear the thunder and yes there is such a thing as thunder weather, at least here in the Swedish Highlands anyway. People scamper like silly ninnies whenever the roar of the old Gods are heard above one. Like I said, I have lived pretty much the rest of my life not associating weather and corporal ailments like the one today but somehow I need and explanation for my headache and that seems to suit it well. I usually have all kinds of aches but am so dum that I just ignore them and never really seek an explanation as to why, I nurse them, they go away and that is what usually goes by with me and pain, until today I suppose.

I suspect another reason though. This weird association is somewhat flattering to my ego because in a weird way it makes me part of the milieu, Sweden, a part of something. Oh well.

I won’t be writing about the Swedish elections. They are too confusing for me to even contemplate the idea of doing so. Mostly because the Swedish system in many ways is akin to the American system, be it Republicans or Democrats the bureaucrats always win.

In Sweden it is the welfare state that inevitably wins. So it is difficult for me to even understand the political party I often tend to agree with the most, the Socialdemocrats. They mix capitalist ideas with social issues like old grandma weaving yarn in her machine. It just comes naturally to these guys to be capitalists with a gasp! human side to it.

That is why it is so confusing for me to understand the so-called Right in Sweden. What do they want when the Socialdemocrats practically bend over to please the Right in every other aspect of their politics except taxes? Wanna take a peek at the current proposals? Go head, just hold onto your chairs.

I do confess to wilderment to that thing people call justice in Sweden. In Sweden if you do someone it can give you less time if you try to cheat on your taxes. Economic crimes, in this socialist government, can bring far more years in the can than killing a joe.

Eitherway, today there are elections in Sweden. One gets to vote in the local, municipal (akin County) and national elections. As some of you might know, Sweden is a parlamentary government. For the local level I voted for a local party that tends to give the big parties a run for their money. I thought that would be healthy for local politics. Municipal elections I voted for my fave political party, the Socialdemocrats. For parlamient I voted for the newly created party called Feminist Initiativ mostly because I believe that women can be as evil as men.

The current government has been sitting in power for the past ten years. Just as long as I have been living here. Göran Persson, itches for more, he is running too in this year’s elections.

I get the distinct feeling that he won’t get to savour more. I could be wrong. You see I live in the heart of what is known in Swedish lingo as the Swedish Bible Belt. You know where these God fearing folk tend to lean on the political spectrum so one tends to get smothered about the one or other proposal that is better than the Socialdemorats current state of affairs blah, blah. So I may have been tinged with the local aspirations for political will when I write this. Even mass media or international media have drawn from this longing to report on the Swedish elections of today. Aquí, aquí y aquí for back up on that line of thought.

No frills or thrills in this election either. The most polemic issue on the table? A hacker who hacked the socialdemocrats intranet and managed to peep into the sheenanegens of the Socialists. And wait, it wasn’t even done because some huge computer brain nerd spent hours trying to hack it. No, it was because someone from the rightwing coalition at a Socialdemocrat convention happened to log on a wireless network and stumbled upon the opened access to the socialists intranet. It turned out the administror for the network used the same login word for his or her password.

Dang, I think I just chattered about Swedish politics like forever. Oh well. Digest at will.

* I originally worte this at the Agonist.

I’ve been speaking Swedish for the past 4 days due to my job and man, it oozes out of my ears as we speak. Most people who speak a third language will inevitably confirm the follwing: it is tiring to shift gears to a language one isn’t accustomed to speaking on the daily basis. Heck, it certainly doesn’t give me a headache to speak Spanish let alone English.

So yeah, my brain is fried to burnt toast. Though I confess that I have been pleasently surprised at the improvements I have made in the Swedish Dept. Off course there is always the little matter of not having someone confirm what I claim. Be that as it may, my metalinguistic awareness will suffice for said purposes.

Things that I have noticed I use more when I speak Swedish.

1.- I am more careful not to let the words come out as if I were to speak Spanish or English, that is, I am more concious about the pronounciation of the words I use when speaking. This would seem somewhat tedious but after a couple of years this has become more a custom than a nuisance and parlance comes out more fluid than one would suspect. Swedish are appreciative of the effort. Pronouncing v’s the way one ought o, that is, not to be lazy and pronounce them as b’s, tends to hike up status in the eyes of the Swede at hand.

2.- I tend to use more idiomatic phrases to capture whole abstract concepts of the everyday. This gives the illusion of the local. That is, there is a sensation that bespeaks of my endurance in the vecinity of my newly established roots. Meaning, though am an immmigrant I have taken the time to not only understand my surroundings but also live them and experience them.

3.- It is good if you use references of the layman. The local experience. Common lived experiences via the news or a problem that the collective has experienced is always good to have as baggage.

I was away. I went to Germany, enjoyed Bavaria; passed by Austria, saw Innsbruck by the roadway and spent quite a few days in northen Italy, specifically in the in and around the Brenner Pass. I came quite close to Milano but never got there. Though I did get to see some of Bergamo and Verona.

All this was acomplished because my father-in-law drives a trailer truck delivering goods all over Europe. I was invited to travel with him for a week that lasted nearly 9 days. This gave me an opportunity to get the living heck out of my tiny village here in the Swedish Highlands which after two years were beginning to wear me out a tad.

You can get to see some pics here and a small narrative of the trip in video format albeit in Spanish plus you get the extra added no preservatives version of my face dare you face the truth behind Yonder Lies It.

Believe it or not Sweden is too having an election this year but you wouldn’t notice by the raucus the elections churn out in news pieces such of the likes as whether a politician can make noise at a local shopmall rather than the issues at hand, what issues Julio?

Yeah, me and hundreds [of] others seem blissfully ignorant that we are about to have elections in Sweden aka Sverige and the weekend that just passed relished instead on an old sun ritual rather than reflect, wait this needs a period here, otherwise my spanish will get the better of the english. So there, got a fresh breath of air yet? Rather than reflect on whether the Moderaterna or the Socialdemocrats are better than the environmentalists or the lefties. Swedes are doing what they do best, live in Sweden.

Don’t ask me about the issues ’cause you’ll end up recieving an invariable uh? in bold letters.

What is a country like Sweden to do when its democratic system seems like a utopia in America? The Spaniards see it as the future to be and France envies its law and order while England can’t get enough of its exports and the germans adore its forests and moose trafic signs.

Homelessness? Forget it, there is little or next to nothing compared to other states in developed countries which of course, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. The solution however, is devoid of that long term aspect that it has, for example, in the USA. Here, homeless people have all kind of resources to resort to get out of the situation there are in and, believe it or not, homelessness, at times, can be a lifestyle choice.

Ok, how about government graft? that’s sure to rile a few folk here, erhm, not, the last graft issue involved a minister who used her government credit card to buy diapers for her baby. Ok, other stuff might have ocurred since then but that has stuck tills now.

Urgh, as a Xicano with dual citizenship that means I get to vote and as I’m a leftist, voting leftist here makes me look like a conservative. Göran Persson, the prime minister who has overseen the institutions that oversaw my permanent green card and dished out my citizenship is as popular as I stepped in unto these nordic lands. Today he seems perpetual like that even the opposition flirts with him. Gosh.

Are things that great in Svealand? and what does this teach us about democracy once nearly all acomplishable things are acomplished? Is it that better to steal from paul rather than peter?

yes, I know, your dirty, cynical stinking thought process will immediately recall greek dictatorships where, we are told by dubious characters, that everything was nice and swell. Far from the realities as we see’em to-day.

It’s just that our mess doesn’t look like your mess. Perhaps it’s that Swedish attitude towards the environment which manages to lull us into believing that everything is alright. The environment affects us all and the Swedes have been good at hiding the mess we are all in, masquerading all to fit our surroundings. One reality at a time.

At times one would think that Sweden lives a life separate from that it presents to the rest of the world, even themselves. At times you can see the triple reflection on the mirror but you have to be quick at the blink to see it or just sit and contemplate as the Swedes do. Am sure they do. What they say and what they do is not consistent t all, but heck, which country doesn’t do as they do?

Either way, the midsummer was good. What did I do? I got drunk, as a good Swede, I will not fail my country.

Blimey o’reilly!

I actually felt a whiff of hot air run through my scarcely hairy arm yesterday. I know, it’s summer, finally, no, really, I mean finally. I can tell because my skin gets a glow on it and man does it look good. I love the alive look on it. No, am not a metrosex man but here in Sweden I’ve become an expert of sorts on hand and facial creams. My skin tends to dry up as soon as a cloud manages to block the sun. So I had a few beers at my father-in-law’s house and every now and then I would peek at the glow in my arm. I was at peace with mother nature. I smiled to it all.

The glow, by the way, is a sort of sweat, perspiration if you will, that reflects back light, ergo, you know.

I opened the window and I was bared chested. The landscape offers a nice patch of land where agriculture is carried out. The green field is wide open, the sky semish baby blue and the air amazingly lukewarm at 6:30a.m. I usually get up at 5a.m. everyday and no, its not something from my days in the barracks because I have never been an army man.

I sustain the theory that my body clock hasn’t really adjusted to Sweden yet. This easily rationalizes away all kinds of irrational unconcious behaviour from my part and shoos away tiredness. This because at times I experience minor, and I joke here, unexplained narcolepsy. Couple that with the normal depression season here in Sweden during winter and you’ll get my drift.

Either way, just forget about the disgression there, I was stunned to feel the air in my bare chest, it felt good. My beer belly got all ticklish and the view my corner of the swedish highlands offered to my lagañosos eyes was not picture perfect yet amicable as a good nature morning salutation.

The thing is that though summer is here I hate the profution of sweat that I produce at the slightest feel of a sunray on my skin. This is another one of those mutant changes I suffered, I believe, the moment my feet landed on nordic soil. Yes, my whole constitution is in total disarray yet I live.

Loads of seagulls. One would expect this nearby beaches not inland. What the hell do they do here in the Highlands is no mystery. They are after the crayfish on the countless lakes that Sweden is made up of and scandinavian bread leftovers that my neighbours and countless other swedes throw out to the birds.

Swedes tend to be really concious about their discards. There are even garbage disposal spies ready to rat on you the moment you leave plastic on the paper container. No, really, garbage facism does exist here. So food either gets the decompost treatment or its thrown to the birds. One would think the birds be having and overweigth problem but they don’t. They are nice and lean and still manage to do their primal instinct chores: look for yummy earthworms, as my grass attest to witness because every now and then I manage to find patches of uprooted grass here and there, or are those hedgehodges doing the nasty work?

’nuff w/ the summer.

My street,
on
this Swedish
Spring day,
painted
relentlessly
grey

insists on
a
blue sky
above
grizzled
hues,

nordic
winds
caress my cheeks

I feel blood rushing.

last autumn’s
now
browned
dried
leafs

leave

brittled noises
on the local
thoroughfare
where nordic winds
rush

at earshot speed
crisply
criss-crossed

echos
of
a now
hardened golden brown
last year’s autumn
green shoot

who once stood out on a limb,
fell, sometime ago
intent on
following
the passing of the fall

I saw it rock and roll

to-day

the beautyful meaningless of the everyday

which tends to runaway from us

I heard it tumbling by, I want to hear it again.

I do confess
’tis was silent
when it made
me
turn my head.

It rolled,
leaving
behind
a moment

I can’t forget.

- I have noticed that more and more you liken the desert. The very one Geronimo stares at when at the offices. Does it not worry you that, in the end, your voice will end up a mere grain in the sand inasmuch as your voice is a scream in space?

- Those two concepts, desert and space, are two interesting images. In order to answer your question I must accept the fact that the aforementioned images exist. Yet my blog exist too as soon as your eyes lay their retinas upon them.

- .

Gad am I longing for a bit of soil from las Américas. Fuck me triple but Europe might have culture but they lack sun. Give me sun I say. There is so much a son of the Calida Fornix can take I tell you. Ok, so last night I dreamt I was smoking a refeer. Fuck. Europe does suck. I even caught myself perusing the products of a legal herb site from Hawaii whilst my lips dripped goo to the keyboard. Give me a jolt, give me a yahoo, anything to shake the doldrum out of my rutine euro trahs day, please, do end it!

Calm down Julius, so a few grey days might seem a tad boring but think of the whisky. Fuck, whisky my ass. I developed an intolerance to the point of not caring for my liver and wondering if it is all worth it. Whisky doesn’t cut it anymore though am sure its ripping my guts apart!

Even drug users have a bad time in Northern Europe.

On other great and uneventful news, not that my psychological constitution would be of any concern to you reader, spring has finally, I repeat, finally reappeared after a long and mystirious absence. The snow is giving way to the warmth that inevitably had to start churning heat.

I do long for California though. Been too long aquí. Time to start ordering tickets to Tijuana, ask the bank for a loan and preparing intoxicating days in the motherland where hangovers aren’t even an issue.

By the way, did I say that this a PG post? Fuck It.

Believe it or not the snow refuses to part. It’s been a crazy marzito, como decía mi abuelita, Marzo loco y Abril otro poco, but men! this is going too far. Ah, what the fuck am I babbling about anyways. Sun never makes a good impression, the next thing you’ll be hearing from me is that it is too fucking hot and that the weather hasn’t been this strange, well, since last week. Fuck, my body does really need to be attuned to mamá naturaleza.

Humbug. Must be the grey weather. The fizz in blogsphere is dwindling, like there is no tomorrow. Hardly anyone is blogging nowadays. So fucking what. Oh, yeah, I finally caught up with a thought that escaped me a few minutes ago. I want to nag about los pinches güeros here in Sweden.

It turns out that many here refuse to see my gringo side. They seem to have this godforsaken odd thinking that to be american you have to be güero. Fuck, this really tends to piss me off like there is no tomorrow, yes, I wrote that phrase two paragraphs ago smartaleck. Eitherways, I feel robbed, ultrajado, desposeido. I have no other way of being but the Xicano being. I have days when I am more mexican than others and I have days when I am more gringo than others, why can’t the pinche crazy monolinguals get this? But that is diverging the gist of the message towards another venue.

I know I have dark skin, cafe con leche, black hair and pretty lovely sort of hazel eyes [yes, am talking nice about myself, gotta a pro with that?] but that doesn’t automatically mean am not a gringo though I be hard pressed to have someone tell me, hey, aren’t you a gringo? ah, what the fuck, no one seems to know what a Xicano is in Sweden eitherways, so what the fuck am I grumbling about anyways.

Am in the mood to spill a few vaulting ninny sentences. It has been snowing like there is no tomorrow for the past days here in the Swedish Highlands. Worst part of it is that I have to shovel the fluffly white stuff only to have it blown in my face, urgh. Its one of those days. My body aches and I really don’t want to shovel snow. urgh and argh mind you.

I finally turned in a 5 point essay for a 5 credit course. I have been struggling with the language. Academia is the worst place one can turn in a paper. Not only is ones language scrutinized for all possible sign of defects, the audience that reads your paper is next to nil. So one is in essence forced to write a piece of paper that meets academia criteria which one of its main goals is that the language therein ought to be readable for others. What others? It is a 5 point essay, it won’t even get shelved in a library, most likely it will suffer the fate of being stacked. If luck would have it, so long as it takes at the top of the stack of some poor soulless academician’s office who grumbles all day that his genius is being passed over for correcting my essay.

People in academia have egos. But that’s not my rant today. I still wanna rant about the stupid paper I just turned in. I think one of the main objectives of any paper that academia wants is to secretly inculcate humility, that loathsome and veiled Christian moral that all God abiding christian cherish as a good value to force feed one in a veiled fashion.

not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive

God forbid that a paper would make your ego inflatable.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the language. Monolinguals never realize how sensitive to language bilinguals can be. You can’t tell us our language is wrong because we start running to the bedroom to cry our souls out while we sob the blankets soaking wet.

So after receiving my essay back, with countless of errors and ‘suggestions’, the first time around, this is my second time, I can’t wait to get it back because I know it will come back like a boomerang. My essays tend to do that.

In the end one does learn a few things or two but it amounts to ridicule when one thinks of the kind of institution I decided to do this with. I am a teacher so the teaching institute that is training teachers doesn’t even know how to handle its own students. Those academics really need to be nicer. I mean really nicer.

It rains here. In fact it has been raining most of the summer. kinda reminds one of the first time I heard something about this weather. The weather is a güero thing. Though I veer off. “Welcome to the Swedish summer” was the greeting that carried a couple of whiskey glasses and a few beer cans up in the air. I suspected it said more than it meant. Some sayings take years to understand and now, 5 years later, I understand. This summer has been drenched and cool and cloudy, grey, breeze, wet, full of moist everywhere. Just the way I like it. I live in the Swedish Highlands. The trees, the grass, the leafs anything green thrives here. It looks fresh, verde, el verde mojado me gusta un harto, me encanta, es por eso que ver todo lo verde verde mojado es alentador, maybe its the irish in me. Who knows. Pero me gusta. I wasn’t ever much of a sun lover, in fact suntanning wasn’t my major thing in Aztlán. Though I saw it millions of times and stood still while the hordes stampeded in craze at the in thing I just sort of stared in wonder.

So yeah, my summer has had many a good day with fog as a greeter in the morn. Banks of clouds I saw a many time through my window in my house that has a view, if I may inventory the landscape, a field where some kind of farming undergoes. I know because every now and then a stench of porcine piss manages to jolt my olfactory senses. The horizon is covered with pine trees, birch trees and what not, loads of forest around here. So the banks of clouds roll eerily by patches that can be seen through my window. The Highlands, it sparks the imagination and yeah, those Beowulf tales seem to draw the source of its unfoldings.

Swedes wrap pepinos in plastic. I have seen some asian countries wrap in paper mandarins (no pun intended) but cucumbers? I mean come on, what’s up with that? I suppose it has to do with the reveration involved around it. It envelopes a country’s idea about certain food items. Un pepino in my alley has no more status than say a mango. It shares the fate that watermelons, papayas, pineapples and jamaica do: it gets its buena dosis de chile en polvo, lemon and salt.

Pero estos?

By the way, the Swede is an unlikely candidate for salt. Not a big fan of it. I attribute it to the fact that this society hardly moves. It is not like they don’t exercise, they do and the obesity index is quite low for an industrialized country like this one. Then again for a society whose main course meal is in the afternoon and the total absence of a dinner culture one does expect they hold the line in is proper place since food doesn’t have that ritual like we have back home in Aztlán. 3 full course meals is du rigour en Aztlán. Aquí, in good old Svea, in the morning is just a cracker, fancy at that, ornamented with a leaf of sorts and cheese and butter, and oh yeah, on some lucky mornings the cucumber comes along. Y después hasta el late afternoon que aquí is, hold tight to your seats, starts at 11a.m. Yes, lunch starts here at eleven am sharp on the clock, you can’t out do the protestants in the cradle of protestantism ese. And like I said, there is no certain ritual for dinner. One seldoms gathers at night to finish off the rest of the day around your family and discuss the days events. Nor is it a cuisine fanfare either.

Just for the record am rather unhappy with the css layout of this site. Geronimo sits and nods. His comanche compadres from Texas have come to zip coffee from Chiapas, a gesture I had to force myself do in order to appease all the elders that hang out here including grumpy grandpa who complains that they are all nothing but freeloaders. Man, am running some sort of convalescent home or something.

-Solidarity my ass I said, it all comes from my pockets ese and revenues aren’t exactly rolling in homes.

Though I caved in at the very last since my eye caught sight of some very angry Yaqui folk gathering with some Navajo folk outside by my 1956 Chevy looking at it with their magical eyes. I said, je!, pinches dólares, what are they for anyway?

The beans came the other day and like out of thin air everybody came to see the wonder beans handpicked by lacandona maya indians and they all wanted to hear the letter SubMarcos sent along.

They seem to still have a sort of a hangover because Corky Gonzales appeared in their midst. The last I heard was Qvole! and suddenly there they were, Reis Tijerina, who by the by, still owes a few thoughts at the offices of Yonder Lies It, Gloria Anzaldúa, Chalino Sánchez, Henry B Gonzales and César Chávez. Heck, I was taken aback at the sudden presence of these great ones.

Acá in Sweden the reports of the LA Mayoral race have come in odd tones. It was brought to my attention by erudite Tomas Rivera, what’s up with that he said, cómo que gang member becomes mayor of LA?

12

All I could say was that I was sending a letter of protest for the inapropiate heading in that piction, though no promises are made.

That’s when I snapped, don’t you guys have anything else to do other than come to breath down my neck ese?

Despite my seven long years in Sweden am still surprised to find myself smiling and waving at people I don’t know. This oft more than not causes me to loose my morning cheeriness and wipes my Xicano smile of my face and a small Homer Simpson rebuke, dope! can be heard in the back of my head.

I live in the Swedish Higlands, in the boonies to be more exact and the small towns are, well, really small, mine has a population of 800 or so and everyone knows everyone here.

I have also recently gained the insight that I carry some city behaviour to small town Sweden with the consequences above mentioned, people don’t say hi to each other in small town Sweden if they don’t know them. Let alone mingle with them but that’s another story. Anyways, I figured that, what I deem an odd behaviour, god knows they deem mine so as well, has to do more with city habits than small town ones.

In big cities there is a necessity to say hi to each other because in essence no one knows no one there but in small towns they don’t have this habit at all, since as soon as one steps in their territory they know a stranger when they see one.

However, this might seem an obvious feature just about everywhere there is small towns, but you have to remember that Sweden has a huge territorial extension of small towns everywhere making American habits like mine odd at best.

So yeah, that, in Sweden.

Well I can officially kiss the suntan I adquiered during my sojourn in México adios. Its been raining cats and dogs in Sweden for 6 weeks in a row now and that means I will probably miss not only the summer the rest of the planet is probably indulging itself in right about now (- sticks tongue out to the rest of the whole wide world -) but also because of the cloudy skies that have been carrying all this water, something that ironically enough moved me from the metaphorical to the literal since I am now officially a wetback all day long, hey! try moving the lawn on a rainy day will ya?, (damn, that’s a long ass sentence, but hey! it’s my blog right?) I will also miss the blue moon on the 31 of July, rats!

Speaking of wetbacks, Kevin Sites has a story that one only hears about it in rumours in the press, this (get a load of the phrase) Mexican-Born Marine has something to say.

“When he was nine years old Carlos Gomez crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico to the U.S. with his father, mother and two sisters. They had heard stories about the opportunities in America, dreamed about them, wanted them so badly they ran through oncoming traffic on the 805 freeway to get to them. They didn’t stop until they reached San Diego. Fear, fatigue and La Migra slowly fading into the southern horizon like their homeland.”

Though clearly mr Sites needs to brush up on his geography a tad (or stop trying to romantize this kind of things) …erhm, last I crossed the border to the US via México the Rio Grande was a river in Texas and boy! running that 805 all the way from Texas to San Diego must of have been a real marathon! Wait … isn’t the 805 in San Diego?

On the glader side of the news, wait! There aren’t any with this freaking weather, I suppose that explains all the vodka consumption in this country, gotta get that chin up somehow.

Good thing I still have some of that tequila I brought back from my stint in the motherland. Salud!

boy, have i said enough about the weather here in sweden? jíjole, me thinkest i’ve becometh too gringo like, pero i can’t seem to stop complaining about the summer that wasn’t. here we are in the first days of july and the sun? muy bien and thou? it has been nothing but cloud after cloud over here, speak of climate changes ah? though sticky is the operating word today, i seem to enjoy cutting wood, yes siree, woods the name for me, nothing but rugged country and away from the hot steeming sun, though i seem to be in the minority as always mind you, don’t wanna break any patterns here any time soon. so yeah, my daughter complained about a fly buzzing about our table during lunch, “take a good look at it cause that’s the only one you’ll see this summer baby” i said with my half sardonic joking voice.

have i said that i live in the swedish highlands? yeap, only about a gazillion times, so yeah, one group that absolutely strays from the norm, even further than i do, are the jehova’s you know which ones, don’t wanna get hits because of that phrase, poor suckers, don’t stand a devil’s of a chance here in uniform lutheran and half cooked baptist lands of nordic sweden. though my liberal education seems to take pity on them since every time they come knocking at our door i’m the only only paying any attention to those poor suckers, when everybody else is either ignoring their calls or just plain ignoring them, i take their pamphlets as a kind gesture and it makes me wonder who is the cruelest, me for making them believe they just planted a seed in this wasteland of a temple i call my body (they don’t know i sold my soul as a child when once i was tempted to get at any cost a butterfinger bar) or the people that just refuse absolutely any commitment with them. swedish people are kind of funny that way here, they don’t go about on the streets but boy do they ever peek at the windows. so they know who’s coming before you even take a step in the yard.

So yeah, small town mentality in the highlands here, that.

Dear diary, as the clouds perform their daily trek due south, due north at the whims of the winds, I strike the metal to the logs making a damp thump noise to make ready firewood for the incoming winter. It is the season, here in Sweden, of the fattning of the spiders. I heard today, dear diary, the desperate flapping of wings, the crying buzzing of a language I didn’t speak yet I understood the fear I felt, so universal to us in this planet. I swung my eyes to the window of the cabin where my ears caught the incoming SOS. I noticed the pane was littered with insect remains of a past feast and many more layered on the wood of the window sill. The cobwebb was impecably clean and built around the corners of the frame, except for the struggle taking place it was a nice opaque white spider web. It was a fly, a black tiny fly, the same kind I too kill at will on these hot spring-to-summer days on these swedish highlands.

And I thought, isn’t it funny how no one, of the letters I scour, speak of drinking water nowadays, how no one tells of cold mountain water runnning down your ribs, and how fresh it feels to have it downed through your throat?

Meanwhile, the arachnid, oblivious to the fluttering, circles the fly about, mapping out the best way to wrap the fallen critter for a later meal.

Curiously, as we drove down from Sweden’s Highlands to Paris back in July of this year, I noticed along the German Autobahn and other less known roads to Liege to Paris, that trailers from Portugal carried a legend in their back of their trucks that said: VEHICULO LONGO.

I loved it, and I would have taken a picture of it except that it is very difficult to do so in the freeway at those speeds, at any rate, I admired the words in those trucks as my imagination flew to prototype spanglish and how Portuguese has certain elements in its language that can be thought of as proto-spanglish, this came to mind today as the morning progressed with is daily chores.

I was sitting in the cafeteria, by building A at Stockholm’s University, waiting for an Argentinian friend to show up for a date we had agreed upon and as she came promptly and fashionably late a friend of hers tagged along. We had a very lively discussion until we came to the topic of spanglish and this friend of my friend said odd things about it, you know, you have to understand that my friends at this level of my studies are usually friends that I’ve made during the course of my studies and usually, they are at the same academic level as I am, but lo and behold! I had to confront the very face of ignorance while sipping my cup of coffee trying to understand this human being.

Well, suffice to say I was placed at a very odd position and left rather uncomfortable about it, it had been a while since I last seen this ugly sorts of prejudice hate to my language rear its head, so I was quite frankly bent out of shape, I thought that those issues were resolved once I learned that the very enemy of spanglish is ignorance, but ignorance seems to be a pretty nasty beast of sorts.

Well, my love for Spanglish and its Portuguese, as I call it, proto roots, got its reconfirmation today because as I was leaving my dorm, heading towards the computers I heard from one of the windows of the dorms, adios meshicano! being uttered by some Portuguese neighbors of mine! I was so ever glad to hear that …

Now, I don’t know about you, but if Meshicano doesn’t do anything for you, than spanglish isn’t your language …

-mesh (implication: mestizo)

Funny how things work out in the day-to-day basis.

As I sat in the kitchen absorbing the days events I pensively mourned Anna Lindh’s death, I didn’t think too much, only a few conspiracies crept up in me, and I began to wonder how is it that I am so affected by the death of this politician, how did she manage to come into the stream of my consciousness? Perhaps it is my admiration of this society to include women in the everyday affair of government, how her face dominated the news when it mattered to express her views, those views from the government and how she fought to promote those opinions in the face of harsh criticism, because she so much also represented my views. I felt that she genuinely represented me, in those meetings, by being outspoken, saying her mind, and it didn’t hurt that she was beautiful as well, I always found her smile a glowing shine in the midst of gloomy faces in those men’s meetings, in other words, she made me proud to see her fight the good fight.

My wife is also going through the same pangs except that she has other worries in her head, she wants to know why the doctors acted the way they did and wants to know what they did, she comes in a hurry, to see more on the TV, I say, how can you? There aren’t any more news at this time, and she answered something that made me feel Anna Lindh was still with us, she said “ They don’t care about anything else, Anna Lindh is dead.” I listened dumbfounded at the words, how even dead Anna was still very much with us. I realized too how instinctively my wife knows her own people.

It’s very hard for other countries to realize the society Sweden is, especially Stockholm, with its lifestyle and open society, I may complain all about how I perceive them but I never argue about their society because its so perfect that it’s actually dull, there isn’t much to criticize, the locals might differ, but I come from two different societies that make Sweden look like a paradise. There isn’t a perceived menace here, not even in the streets, society is built on a premise that everyone respects everyone, and that so long you don’t mess with me, I won’t mess with you, people walk around like there isn’t much to worry about in the street, a pick pocket here and there, maybe a gang related crime in the suburbs but for the most part, this society is safe in every sense of the word. People care for people here.

It is a paradise, indeed, and Anna Lindh was one of it representatives, a society that feared very little, has no security concerns and is the envy of the world because of its well functioning government. Swedes live in peace, very much unscathed from the rest of the world who is seemingly falling apart; in Sweden, they live the morrow others can only dream of, Swedes invented the future, as a Spaniard friend of mine told me and many countries in the rest of Europe see this society as a roll model, they are the future.

So it is a shock, a rude awakening, that things have changed, that Swedish society is vulnerable, a place were maybe its openness is a now a luxury of sorts that Sweden didn’t know it had, and a commodity that was ripped by the knife of the murderer who took Anna Lindh’s life, Sweden’s essence, away from us.

Well, it’s been a sort of Mexicano week this early in august late summer and I don’t know how that fits in there but ‘late summer’ is what the Swedes call august … so yeah, Mexicans came by, all dressed in their scottish skirts and bagpipes, I believe they’re called that over there in those other Highlands. As the very insensitive newsreporter from our local, and I mean local in all its real potential, said, but so what if they’re Mexican… that’s the spirit *says grinning very seriously …*

The thing is that dudes from the capital of my wonderful and stupendous country (go ahead, you can say that about your own country and get away with it …) decided some moons ago to build a bagpipe band and yes it became a Scottish one at that, then by some weird twist of history, as I was told by one of its members, they wanted to find a connection between Mexico and the Celtic world.

As it so happens, when the now USA that we all know didn’t have those famous states such as Texas and California, a war broke out given birth to those states in a new union. I say that because Mexico is a union as well. During the bloody battle that left many bittered parts tills this day on, back then some very conscientious Catholics felt remorse about killing their fellow brethren in the battlefield so they switched sides …

Yes, you guessed it, they were Scots and Irish men who turned their backs against the USA to whom, by the byes, are traitors and to us, Mexicans and Chicanos alike are heroes. Suffice to say that’s where the connection came in and even congress in the Mexican United States hired them once to commemorate said battles …

So yeah, that happened here in my part of town, in a small city called Eksjö which is celebrating its annual Tattoo festival.

And today about 20 of us mexican residents are gathering in Sweden’s little Jerusalem, known by its real name, Jönköping for a little meal of sorts and chit chat off course.

Now that doesn’t happen so often …

I remember one conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine at Stockholm University. The English department there has a farewell party to close the end of the semester and since I usually am alone, this time too without fail I was alone. I went to the gathering where teachers and alumni mingled with each other in an atmosphere of smoke, laughter, beer and little groups of people with 80’s music blaring nostalgia and oozing yore out its loudspeakers.

As I was alone, and unusual and sad looking spectacle in a society that abhors that kind of sights, I walked in to the place were said event was taken place which for the most part happens at a house-bar called Gula Villan.

Since I am no stranger to most of the people there I did get some greetings and looks as I entered and headed for the bar to get a cheap beer, because that is what one gets in that place, as is advertised that way by the way. Some of them were classmates during the semester and from past semesters as well.

My acquaintance came up to me, greeted me and proceeded to ask me if I came along with someone to which I promptly said no. However, she was with a whole group of people as company who sat out in the lawn and chatted away the early pre-midsummer evening in turns.

As she, according to me, felt pity for me, she invited me to be with her and her group. However, I mistook said invitation to meant a conversation with her. So there I go, along with a beer in my hand and a conversation partner along. However no sooner had we sat down that strange looks began to appear in her eyes to indicate me to join in the group.

She began, simply put, to get uncomfortable with the idea that we were having a conversation aside from the group that she had been previously partaking in and I’m sure that her friend’s constant neck turning to hear what we were talking about while the rest of the group paid attention to itself and laughters which could be heard outloud didn’t contribute to appease her preoccupation. Her whole body exuded nervousness and quite frankly I couldn’t finish my beer fast enough, the whole thing was a cultural clash of supernova proportions. I drank my beer, excused myself and said I had to tuck in early. I think that both of us were relieved that the ‘situation’ had finally passed by, I got up and I parted as I came, alone.

I got the English bug in me.

Would you believe that an English man came to my door to day? and that he had visited my hometown, loveable Tijuana and been to Rosarito? Believe it. A ordered some stuff over the net (on/over the net? hum …) and it got delivered today. I didn’t figure him out for a foreigner although he wasn’t blond nor white (tanned perhaps?), I just listened to the Swedish and it didn’t ring or raised any flags that he was alien, as I. ( Americans say alien, so that micas, some sort of ID card that states your residence in the US, carry the legend Legal Resident Alien)

However, he certainly picked up I spoke English by the Swedish I spoke. That always manages to surprise me, that people can pick up that am an English speaking person by the accent in my Swedish, I mean, considering that my real first mother tongue is Spanish, although I claim to have two mother tongues, Spanish came first) you’d think that people would hear Spanish substrates in my Swedish instead. It makes me blush with pride, I love it when people hear that in me. Anyways, suddenly two foreigners where speaking English in my kitchen front door, him and I. I didn’t ask him where he was from in the UK, but his coming tomorrow to deliver the package he meant to deliver today, the thing is that he wanted money we didn’t have in the house, so he’s coming tomorrow, I’ll ask him then where in heavens tarnation is he from.

It turns out he has visited my town, dang, I mean, what are the chances that that would happen today? In the village I live in, speaking English and about my town, I was impressed, I know, it’s the little things that count, but hey! you’d be surprised too if you lived right smack in the middle of nowhere and be an alien in it …sheesss …

I don’t know what is it about the Swedish nature that somehow always seems to seep in my writing. Language reflects the environment it is said. Presumably my writing betrays this influence. What is it that appeals to me so much in this essence I seem to want to depict so bad? I mean, do I want to capture it? Do I want to somehow to convey through words the stillness that I as a nature observer detect as I absorb it when I walk in its midst? I guess it is more like wanting to recreate this atmosphere which brings to me so much delight.

Went to hear Professor Ann W. Fisher-Wirth (University of Mississippi) Fulbright Scholar and Distinguished Professor of American Studies/ Uppsala today where she gave a lecture entitled ‘Still the Question Remains, What Space for the Sacred in This Century?’: Contemporary Environmental Poetry.” and left feeling like a jerk.

I had some many feelings evoked that I lost sight of everything and just let my indignation flow.

For the first, it brought out childhood memories from the local environment in my city (Tijuana) and then I thought how the powers to be are making tomorrow’s rebel. Only to fight again and reclaim our places in this society, that is, nothing changes.

Then I thought how much more Swedish poetry deals with nature, everything is nature for them, about sacredness, as far as poetry and writing goes. Then I began thinking more of this “new” theory in the English language and its militancy tones, this is where the sorrow goes in, as if propaganda to incite indignation to actively engage itself in this encouragement to denounce the wanton destruction of nature.

Curiously enough she remarked somehow the strange weather we had back in September 2002 as beautiful and wonderful. She gave a decent picture but that only brought out snickers out of me. I remember how the swedes were all alarmed about the strange summer, looking for all kinds of omens, from the greenhouse effects to the ozone holes, all kinds of conspiracies were being swung to explain the strange phenomena.

Somewhere I drifted and wrote:

When we see, hear, smell and speak
and decide to put it in ink
it is akin to putting squares in circles.

This is what outraged me: she spoke of the butterfly Monarch and how “campesinos” are destroying the habitat for them. I never heard how the supply and demand makes this possible. I lost it. Poor thing, she only dealt with a theoretical approach to a certain form of literature and here I went bezerk with “demonisation” and all sorts of evil things the “other side” does. Ugh!

Although it did bring about an interesting thought though.

I realized that in poetry some people do only research to evoke feelings of sorrow just to gain favor for one’s view, this might be somewhat naive but I found it interesting.

I hope there isn’t any grudges left … My old Chicano in myself was woken from its lull ….

Americanness

They recognize me as one of them nowadays.
Somehow, somewhere, I must’ve lost it.
That glowing tan that set me as outsider.
Now, they speak to me unflinching;
As I seem no longer newly arrived.
Today, am the one thoroughly shocked.
Since I hardly expect to be talked to it in it.
Someway, I’ve acquired a “native” look.
At times, I wonder, how this came to be.

bask

There is a zone in the soul that allows for the imagination to wonder about, free, from this mundane world. It is easily accessed by closing your eyes and using for background the vastness of the universe, you can find yourself somewhere else. You know the background can either be a star filled space or simply space itself in all its vacuum. You can imagine your self in the position of Da Vinci’s famous vitruvian drawing or the classic yoga lotus position either way the vastness of space does not allow for floors or descend nor ascend. There you are One with our sentient universe. Alone, in all the spiritual glory of soul over mind. However, today I came into contact with another similar environment with the exception that this was produced by light. As I sat in my chair, doing my usual writing chores, the heat of the sun summoned me to pay more attention to this early spring sign and as I faced it, I couldn’t help but blink and in this split second I saw how equal these environments can be. The exception being that I deem the universe more void and thus devoid of light so that at any moment there is more denudation, thus darkness, than light, hence my conclusion that I think the latter somewhat superficial. When my inner sight saw this new milieu I was awe struck because of the endlessness of it. The coloring was more cheerful so that, yellow, orange and reddish hues abounded, one could even see, and as you can imagine better than I can describe, what microbiologists see in their microscopes, with the exception of course, that these where probably liquids from my retina. The benefit, that I reasoned, was that this was more of a playing ground. So today I sunbathed a while, basking in the heat of the spring, soaking in warmth winter had denied me.

It felt good.

Like any other soul in the face of the planet I tend to favor the noises one would call music. However, being tricultural doesn’t necessarily help and being the kind of person the way I am one tends to favor all sorts of music, so that at any giving time, I tend to like more than I dislike. Thus I often find myself either listening to Salsa,Tango, Mexican corridos, Sicilian maffia music or regular radio mixes that everyone else is more or less familiar with and even unfamiliar like Classical music and Opera; or my older stuff like punk rockers Sex Pistols, Broken Bones, Exploited, GBH, Circle Jerks and industrial genres going from KMFDM, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Revolting Cocks, Front Line Assembly, Front 242, Numb,Borghesia and the Klinik to the Cure, Orquestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Gene Loves Jezebel, The The, Ride and of course, kings of pop, the Smiths and Morrissey. (The list can go on and on ….) Let us not forget the Swedish arena, whose Dans samples I often find quite soothing as my ranchero music except these songs tend to have a folklore flavour that somehow manages to get me closer to an understanding of the Swedish soul in Sm?land. Kent, who, doesn’t like Kent? and Dark Metal Scene is also good here in Sweden, that too is a superbly delicious candy I soak in every now and then like Opeth!

Although I’ve been neglecting a sorts tills now, Techno, I am about a Zillion years behind, so that now a days a find myself doing loads of downloads, getting up to date so to speak. My personal faves are Blue Six (New York) and The Chrystal Method (California) and in that am behind about a year or so having just recently found out about them. Its tough keeping up with this music since its very nature requires constant change. Yes, I read other blogs and it seems that it is a constant topic among bloggers to discuss music preferences so that here is my 20 year preferences in music. Three languages and three cultures give much fodder for the ear. PS: I will try and add comments from now on whenever I read other peoples stuff …