August 7th, 2003



Morning minus = the smell of very burnt toast waking me up
Morning plus = my daughter's big brown eyes peering brightly at me over the edge of my pillow

Back in the day when I was firmly in the never-having-children camp, I had a big long list of reasons Why Not To Have Kids. And when things would come up, I would label them: seeing someone's kid acting up in public: Reason #121 Why Not To Have Kids, crying baby: Reason #42 Why Not to Have Kids. I used to joke that until my list of reasons FOR having kids was as long as my list of reasons for NOT having them, I couldn't conscientiously change my mind. One of the few items on my FOR list was: getting to share much-loved books with my children.

This morning, while drying my hair, I suddenly realized that the noise of voices coming from the playroom was my 5.5-year-old son reading to his sister on the sofa under the windows. When I leaned my head out of the bathroom to see, Martin looked up at me and a huge smile broke over his face, and he said, "Mama, I'm reading!"

Nice to think that particular reason cancels out so many of the ones on the AGAINST list.

Even if the book he was reading was "Tilda and the Chocolateball Troll."

On another note, I seem to be in a very joyful mood the past few days. Probably the wonderful weather which gives me reason to sing. Driving home last night at 10 p.m., it was getting dark and the sky was a very particular shade of cobalt that seemed endless. I could see for miles coming down the hill from Lund. Swedish summers, when they're of the warm variety, are marvelous.
  • Current Music
    Midge Ure—Pure Love


My sister's sambo was quoted in an article on, and is being photographed and interviewed for another article next week. One thing he said struck me:

"In the U.S., we just assume that everyone's a high competitor."

Ain't that the truth? I was lucky, when I worked at my last job in Chicago, to be in a position where I didn't have to be competitive, despite being surrounded by a sales force of extremely competitive people. I was the one they all came to whenever they needed anything. I liked that. I should put that in my resume as my objective when job searching: "My goal is to be the person that everyone else goes to for help." :)

It's one of the things that Americans in Sweden tend to have a hard time adjusting to, if they're working here, especially if they had a "career" in the States. The Swedish workplace operates on the theory that the team is the most important and that everyone contributes equally and decisions are made by consensus. When you're interviewed for a job here, many times it's by the people you'll be working with, and not just your boss-to-be.

You don't get graded here. It's really hard to get used to. I blame it on Jantelagen, which is the "rule" that Scandinavians tend to aspire to, even when they also debate and deny it, that states, among other things, that no one is better than anyone else, and that you should not ever think you are better than anyone else.

Gah. How Un-American! I gave a talk at a Swedish high school the first year after I moved to Sweden for a Swedish teacher friend. I told the kids that the idea of Jantelagen was the most alien thing I had yet encountered, as an American living in Sweden.

I still think so, after 6.5 years.
  • Current Music
    Sophie B. Hawkins—As I Lay Me Down