Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Red Panda from BHUTAN

Behold: the Red Panda from BHUTAN

photo from Wikimedia Commons

Dear Santa Claus,

It has recently come to my attention that there exists an animal called “the Red Panda” (Ailurus fulgens, just to prevent any unfortunate misunderstandings between the English and Bhutanese names), and I would very much like this animal as a pet for Christmas.

And also I would like Christmas to be moved up a few months this year, and I think that Monday of next week would give me more than enough time to prepare a suitable indoor habitat for my beloved new pet. I will sacrifice my boyfriend’s side of the bed to the Red Panda, and we will be best friends, and don’t worry, I will take very good care of him (the panda).

And also I will learn the language of the Bhutanese Red Panda, so we will also become best friends, and he or she (I will leave that part up to you, Santa) will tell me all of his or her secrets, and we will be Bosom Buddies in the tradition of Anne of Green Gables and her Best Friend/Bosom Buddy, whose name escapes me at this moment, but before Gilbert Blythe came along and Anne fell in love they were BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.

Capisci, Santa?

Oh yeah, and I’ve been a very good girl.



photo from

From EDGE Mammal Species Information, I learned that this poor little guy is endangered. Also, its scientific name means “fire-colored cat.” They say that you can find it in Nepal, India, Myanmar, and Western China as well as in Bhutan.

photo from

Ahhh! Want red panda!!! I first found out about these guys from the Black Tomato blog, which is the blog of a travel company (Black Tomato, obvs) that seems really amazing. You should definitely check out this travel company if you are planning a trip sometime soon… although they are based in London, so I don’t know what that does for potential American clients, but their site is full of inspiring ideas, so it’s worth checking out anyway.

Anyway, I am clearly reaching obsession, so I’ll just post a few more photos and leave it at that.

photo from Wikimedia Commons


photos from Travel Maniac’s visit to
the Sacramento Zoo in 2000


photo from, “Red Panda-Unusual But Really Cute”


A totally realistic eyewitness look at my life in Sweden

A disturbing documentary report, otherwise known as Why my Swedish boyfriend isn’t allowed in the kitchen anymore.

Since you were wondering, yes, that IS Swedish. And yes, I got this video from Perez Hilton.

And here’s one more. Listen to the opening song.

Yaymm borshk, yay, dayummmmm, gadishkee doo, dayummm da hurdey, dayumm … mmm BORK BORK BORK. Sometimes my boyfriend speaks to me in Swedish, and then I sing that song to him because I know he’ll understand. And I love chocolate moose.

NB: Some but not all of the things in this blog post are false.

“Shaming teenagers about sex is a bad idea”

This is a special addition of IMPORTANT FEMINIST INFORMATION brought to you by my sister, Emily Wiseman, and me. You can find Emily’s blog, Redheaded Shenanigans, here.

“Shaming teenagers about sex is a bad idea”

What a revolutionary concept. And yet—I bet you would find a lot of people out there, adults and young adults alike, who instinctively disagree with the statement that “shaming teenagers about sex is a bad idea.”

Think about it this way. Teenagers are in between childhood and adulthood, and they are gradually learning to make their own choices and assert themselves as individuals separate from their parents and their peers. There are a number of issues that parents and teachers have to talk to teenagers about openly and honestly, including, for example, health and nutrition, drinking, and drug abuse.

In this critical period for teenagers, when they are vulnerable to so many influences, why would you bring shame into the mix rather than encouraging open and honest dialogue?

Open and honest dialogue doesn’t have to mean condoning teenage sex, if that’s where your morals lead you. My parents and I could have open and honest dialogue about drinking. Their stance while I was in high school was basically this: “If you drink, we will ground you for life and that’s that.” But we could still discuss the issue, and shame was never part of the equation. I knew that my parents didn’t want me to drink in part because it’s against the law and it can lead to bad situations among teenagers (I should have never let them watch 10 Things I Hate About You), but the way I understood it then was that drinking brought with it the potential for far-reaching negative consequences: suspension from school, criminal charges, and the risk of being rejected from the college of my choice.

It’s only natural for teenagers to be reluctant to discuss anything with their parents, especially the issues that might result in an earlier curfew or increased scrutiny of themselves or their friends. But there are many ways that parents can initiate these discussions and model healthy behaviors for their kids without sitting them down and delivering a stuffy lecture.

For example, a family can take steps to prevent both obesity and eating disorders by modeling good nutrition, having family dinners, and being open to questions about nutrition from their children and engaging in respectful dialogue–even if the questions may seem obvious from an adult perspective. Similarly, a family can also take steps to prevent unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, or unhealthy relationships by modeling good relationships between each other, initiating casual (and brief) discussions about safe sex practices, or being curious and involved when their children want a prescription for birth control.

Like many other teenagers, I would have died if my mom had tried to have a conversation with me about sex. I thought I was a pretty well-informed individual. After all, thanks to health class I knew about condoms and STDs and that “the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence” (thanks, Mr. Morse). But something we know now is that creating an atmosphere of shame around sex and being sexually active doesn’t prevent teenagers from having sex; it just prevents them from making informed decisions.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s recent white paper, “Removing Stigma: Towards a Complete Understanding of Young Latinas’ Sexual Health,” argues convincingly that “pursuing an adolescent sexual and reproductive health strategy that centers on stigmatizing… does little to advance teen health and in fact may have deeply harmful consequences.” I feel like standing on my chair and cheering when I read:

As a reproductive health organization, we support many of the policies that are put in place to “address teen pregnancy”: compre­hensive sexuality education, increased affordability and access to contraception, and the expansion of public programs that address reproductive health, such as Title X and Medicaid. However, we support these policies as part of a platform to increase women’s ability to make informed choices that are relevant to their lives, and not to make choices for them. Additionally, we support ini­tiatives that expand young women’s options—particularly low-income young women and young women of color—for higher education and job access such as tuition reimbursement, loan forgiveness, affirmative action, fair wages, and organized labor. It is important to remember that these policy initiatives are valid in and of themselves, and attempting to use them to steer women’s reproductive health choices to what those in power find to be so­cially acceptable devalues them and can create skepticism towards what would otherwise be valuable initiatives.

Similarly, Kierra Johnson’s article in the Huffington Post, “The Myth of the Teen Pregnancy Epidemic,” reminds us that

People are having sex at every age. Sometimes it is safer. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it is with informed consent. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s healthy. Sometimes it’s not.

People are also, therefore, experiencing the outcomes of sex at every age. The outcomes can be both intended and unintended. The outcomes can be both physical and emotional. The outcomes can be positive or less than favorable.

People in every age bracket have sex, get pregnant, have abortions and have children. Sex and the outcomes of sex are not exclusively experienced by teens.

Of course there is always time to learn about sex when you are older. But why not start the dialogue with teenagers before they have to learn from their mistakes or read about sexual health issues on the internet? As Johnson says, “We are ignoring that people need information and resources about sex throughout their entire lives, not just as teenagers. We need to… stop using teen sex and pregnancy as scapegoats for social ills.” Double hurrah.

And finally: teaching teenagers to feel shame about having sex or discussing sexual health is bad for their future relationships and emotional health. I don’t have statistics to back me up on this, but I know that it’s true. It doesn’t take much time for teenagers to become young adults and young adults to become regular adults and then even our parents expect us to eventually do the hippity dippity and procreate. It’s not easy to erase the emotional residue that shame leaves, and those teenagers who were taught that sex is a shameful, dirty thing that only sluts do (because after all, the shame around sex is mostly aimed at women) will be more likely to have trouble discussing sexual health with their partners, even when they are involved in healthy, monogamous relationships.

Regardless of where you stand on the morality of sexual activity during the teenage years, I think we would all agree that two emotionally-sound adults in a loving relationship should not have to deal with the lingering effects of shame when trying to discuss their sexual relationship. It’s not healthy, it’s not right, and it shouldn’t be part of our culture any more.

To read more about different perspectives regarding the sex-negative discourse around teen sexuality, please check out the following articles:

Kierra Johnson, “The Myth of the Teen Pregnancy Epidemic

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, “Removing Stigma: Towards a Complete Understanding of Young Latinas’ Sexual Health

Robin Marty, “Misinformed, Misunderstood and Misled – Why We Need Sex Education

Women’s Law Project, Philadelphia, “Changing the Dialogue Surrounding Teens and Sex


Swedish food quality standards

I’ve been living in Sweden now for exactly one full week, and so far it has been great. In that time, besides eating Swedish meatballs and eating a lot of Singoalla cookies (so good), I made an attempt to actually eat something healthy and fresh.

Enter the salad.

I bought a regular head of lettuce at the grocery store, wrapped in plastic, nice and green looking, and I got what you see below:


I absolutely could not believe that my generic head of lettuce came with its roots still in dirt. Actually, I still can’t believe it. What does this mean for local food? Is this lettuce local to my kitchen, since that’s where I severed its last connection with the soil? Or if not, how do we possibly track this sort of thing??

Anyway, the whole situation made me quite happy and quite delighted with the quality of life that awaits me here. Woo hoo!



This is a GOOD WEEK for gay rights! WOOHOOO!!!

Vienna’s Strassenbahn cars proudly fly the rainbow flag for GAY RIGHTS in June.

In DC, the law allowing gay marriage was upheld by the DC Court of Appeals. They said that appealing the law and submitting it to a vote would violate HUMAN RIGHTS (hey—anti-gay rights people—are you listening to this? HUMAN RIGHTS). And Massachusetts judge just ruled that the federal law banning same-sex marriage is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, which means it should change… uh… NOW. As the NY Times explains, “If the rulings find their way to the Supreme Court and are upheld there, they will put same-sex marriage within the constitutional realm of protection, just as interracial marriage has been for decades.”

The Washington Post published this slideshow which made me tear up all by my lonesome in front of the computer because I’m a sap and a sucker for love. I wish I could embed it, but you’ll just have to follow the link and see it for yourself. Tears! Warm fuzzies! Big deep emotions!

On Wednesday night, gay marriage was legalized in Argentina! And the Matador Network published this photo essay by Beatrice Murch. I liked the sign that said “El mismo amor: los mismos derechos con el mismo nombre” (The same love: the same rights with the same name).

Here’s an article about E.M. Forster’s homosexuality. In it, the author quotes Forster’s diary when he was 85 years old, in which he wrote, “How annoyed I am with Society for wasting my time by making homosexuality criminal. The subterfuges, the self-consciousness that might have been avoided.”

Here’s an article in the NYTimes called “When the Bride Takes A Bride” about new businesses that are starting to offer wedding-related services to same sex couples. The article quotes the founders of a new magazine, Equally Wed, as saying that their own marriage (to each other! woohoo!) posed “questions like: Where does a woman find a man’s suit that does not make her look like a woman in a man’s suit? Should Kirsten and Maria both walk down the aisle, or was it O.K. for Maria, who sees herself as more masculine, to wait for her bride? At which of the Caribbean resorts in the honeymoon pictorials would two women feel most comfortable holding hands?” I mean, seriously! Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be welcome or safe in a country as a white, blond American–at least I know that I won’t be jailed or stoned to death for being a lesbian. These services are necessary!

Anyway, excuse me if I have over-used some SLIGHTLY EXCLAMATORY PUNCTUATION or CAPS LOCK, but I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT THIS ISSUE. Understand? Gay rights NOW, not later!

And anyway, I love holding hands and exchanging longing glances and being given chocolates on Valentines’ Day and even making out (sorry Mom) so I think that everyone should be able to do all those things in loving, safe, wonderful relationships with whoever the hell they want, gay, straight, tri-nippled, prone to farting, sweating, interracial, furriner, WHATEVER.

Uffie at Pratersauna

On one of my last nights in Vienna, I was busy packing before meeting up with a friend for a goodbye drink. I planned on going back to my apartment within an hour to continue packing.

Then she realized that I would be going a little longer than she had thought, and I got sad, and then we decided that I had better go along with her to a concert at Pratersauna, a club in the Prater. She was going with another friend, so I decided to tag along and see if I could get a ticket.

Good decision.

Uffie at the Pratersauna, 8.7.10

Silja told me that I’d have good luck for a year if I touched her. So I did.

Before that night, I had no idea who she was or what her music was like, but the concert was great. It’s like… electronic pop rap. And then I started reading about her. She was also born in 1987, but she has had a slightly different life from me. Born in Miami, raised in Hong Kong, currently living and working in Paris.

Silja and me

This video is kind of corny, which is too bad, but you can get a sense of it. The concert was not corny at all. It was really hot in the concert area of the club, and she jumped in the pool with her whole band. The one downside was that it was short—probably only about 45 minutes—which was ridiculous. We all thought she was going to start playing again after jumping in the pool, but no luck. She also didn’t even start playing until after midnight, so at that point, I was tired, but I wanted a whole concert, not just an opening act.

As a plus, Pratersauna totally lived up to the hype. It was kind of expensive to get in, but I’m not sure if it was just the concert ticket or if it was a cover charge too. I’m opposed to paying cover charge on principle. Inside, they have a pool, multiple DJs, and the remains of the old sauna from however long ago. The sauna and the whirlpools are empty, and now there’s seating there.The website says, “This former sweat’n’bang wellness center surrounded by the peaceful Prater greens is an old-school Viennese institution (1965), still unspoiled by its original architecture and its dubious reputation. Its minimalistic space combining 60’s charm with contemporary interior and art design is set up as a ‘micro cosmos’ for creative communities.” Ok, whatever.

It was a fun club, not too big, but lots of music and dancing and people. It’s also in the Prater, so it was really close to my apartment. Double points.



We left Vienna yesterday at 6 am and arrived last night at 11:30 pm. MY GOD. And my boyfriend drove the whole way. My hero (swoon).

Also unbelievable: how much stuff I have. I subscribe to my dad’s Theory of Stuff Accumulation, which is that all your belongings get together every night and do the hippity dippity. And then the amount of stuff you have grows exponentially.

Case in point:

m y  s t u f f  i s  e v e r y w h e r e

(my boyfriend is freaked out)

Anyway. Pretty soon I’m going to get back to blogging about things that are interesting to many people instead of things that are just interesting to me/currently happening in my life.

One thing I should note: yesterday I was kind of trapped in the apartment because my boyfriend’s parents have his spare key, and we need to go over there and pick it up. So for lunch I was rooting around a pretty empty kitchen looking for something to eat and… I found Swedish meatballs in the freezer. Hallejuh! My first real meal in Sweden was Swedish meatballs. Whattttttup.

The last thing I’ll say before I get to work doing something productive is that you can tell it’s twu luv because my boyfriend said he’s so happy I’m here that he doesn’t even mind the mess. Twu luv! Twu luv alert!

Street Style, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Job Searching, and the new face of feminism

Here are items of interest to me.


In two days, my boyfriend arrives and in five days, I move to Sweden. Whattup. Just to let you into the most important snippets of my life, by which I mean Geography, I am moving to Lund, Sweden. Sweden, not Switzerland. True story.

Lund is close to Malmö and Malmö is close to Copenhagen and yes, Copenhagen is in Denmark. And Stockholm is farther away in the opposite direction. Which brings me to my first item: Street Style websites, which I love. And not just the Sartorialist, although I do love the Sartorialist!

Now picture me, somewhere in between Street Style Copenhagen and Stockholm Streetstyle, with a healthy dose of farmland and university nerd-chic. It’s going to be great, and after a year I’ll probably be taller, thinner, and blonder simply by virtue of my geographic location.


Oh my God, people. Just finished the third and last book. Listen. I don’t care if you don’t like them. I don’t care if carrying them in public transportation embarrasses you and/or your literary sensibilities. Just don’t snark at them, because I’m taking it personally.

I’m looking at not one, but TWO very “distinguished” ladies. Nora Ephron, who I like, wrote “The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut” for the New Yorker. She may have a point in the following passage:

“I can’t really go on without an umlaut,” he said. “We’re in Sweden.”

But where in Sweden were they? There was no way to know, especially if you’d never been to Sweden. A few chapters ago, for example, an unscrupulous agent from Swedish Intelligence had tailed Blomkvist by taking Stora Essingen and Gröndal into Södermalm, and then driving down Hornsgatan and across Bellmansgatan via Brännkyrkagatan, with a final left onto Tavastgatan. Who cared, but there it was, in black-and-white, taking up space. And now Blomkvist was standing in her doorway. Someone might still be following him—but who? There was no real way to be sure even when you found out, because people’s names were so confusingly similar—Gullberg, Sandberg, and Holmberg; Nieminen and Niedermann; and, worst of all, Jonasson, Mårtensson, Torkelsson, Fredriksson, Svensson, Johansson, Svantesson, Fransson, and Paulsson.

“I need my umlaut,” Blomkvist said. “What if I want to go to Svavelsjö? Or Strängnäs? Or Södertälje? What if I want to write to Wadensjö? Or Ekström or Nyström?”

Ok, ok, point taken. But do not snark too hard. I LOVE these books, ok? Like, I love these books so hard I read 743 pages in three workdays just after completing a transatlantic flight. That is true love! They are exciting and suspenseful and full of intrigue and murder and sex and Swedish cultural norms and all that good stuff.

The other Grand Snark is Maureen Dowd, who I already think is a giant pain most of the time. I actually clicked on her column today because it was called “Kicking the Hornet’s Nest,” which is a lot like the title of the third book which I just read and did I mention I LOVED IT. Ok. Maureen Dowd’s article starts with a runaway list of Swedish stereotypes and character names from the book, an Elin Nordegren reference, and then goes on to talk about John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Listen, DOWDY PANTS. This is no way to write an article, and I don’t approve. You are not allowed to ignore basic writer’s etiquette (KEEP THE NUMBER OF ITEMS IN A LIST TO LESS THAN TEN IF YOU’RE GOING TO REFUSE TO USE BULLETS) and publish unreadable paragraphs in the New York Times. Second, what makes you think that the Tiger Woods-Elin Nordegren scandal is even a little bit ok to use as a pop culture touchpoint when discussing Sweden? The poor woman has suffered enough, and now you have to write about her a million years after the fact? Uh uh, girlfriend. And third, what?! The Edwards’ situation? Are you serious? Do you want to give me reader’s whiplash? I have enough neck problems already.

On an unrelated note, the British translation of The Girl Who Kicked the … Nest wrote Hornets’, the American version wrote Hornet’s. Plural possessive versus singular. I don’t know who is in charge of these things, and normally I am pro-America all the way, but I do think that generally there are many hornets inside a nest, not just one. And since the hornets’ nest in this case is a giant conspiracy, I really think the Brits got it right this time. Good show.


Please see the memo on geography above. Besides ogling Scandinavian beauties (I just can’t help myself), I am currently looking for jobs in the following places: Southern Sweden (Skåne) and Copenhagen. Do any of you know anyone who is

(a) hiring,

(b) knows someone who is hiring,

(c) might know someone who knows someone who knows someone who might know someone who is hiring?

Because employment is nice.


For those of you who are reluctant to call yourself “feminists.” Surely this will clear up the matter. You can find my darling sister’s blog here.

life craziness: increasing.

This may quickly become the most relevant photo I have to explain my life.

Dear readers, I am damn tired. And the roller coaster of the last couple of weeks doesn’t look like it will be stopping any time soon. Plans have been made, changes have been made to the plans, and now… the end result is that I’m moving to Sweden, somewhat indefinitely, in less than a week. I just got back to Vienna yesterday from a whirlwind ten days in the US (which went way too fast…) and, like I said, I’m so tired. So in the meantime, I’ll break it down like this:

6 days at home: Familial bliss, excessive eating, deliciousness, Americana galore. Packing.
2 days in Davidson, North Carolina: Wedding, cluster reunion, college nostalgia, coffee dates. No sleep.
1 day in the air: Charlotte–New York–Düsseldorf–Vienna–a state of extreme exhaustion
Today: Work.

And next–boyfriend arrives late on Friday, and then we’re driving to Sweden on Monday. (Or maybe Sunday, if Germany makes it to the World Cup finals, so we can watch the game in Berlin.)

All in all, sustained craziness. And then once I get to Sweden, I’ll be working for one month more from a distance for the Viennese NGO, and then… job searching, learning Swedish, making big life decisions, and so on.

Hey, by the way, does anyone have contacts in Sweden? Because I would totally appreciate the help. Or Copenhagen. I’ll be quite close by.

In the meantime, lots of love, and I’ll write more later!
   xx kate

looking for a job (part one)

backup plan to employment number one: - My plan is to travel the world in a panda suit