Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mo’bama, Mo’ Sass

This is just a public service update to everyone watching the infomercials the debates. I saw the dude on the right just a few days ago live, in person, no joke.

It all started with a trip to the White House gardens, where we were so close to the actual White House that the smell of Secret Service sweat permeated the air. (Or it was the presidential linden trees, no idea what those are supposed to smell like.)

Here are some facts we learned on our tour of the White House gardens:

1. The White House Grounds are the oldest continually maintained landscape in the United States.

2. The first resident of the White House was John Adams, and he lived there from 1800 to 1801, when he was voted out of office and replaced by Thomas Jefferson. He requested that a garden be planted on the grounds, and it was done!, but not before he left office.

3. Although located in the heart of the city, standing in the gardens one feels removed from the fast-paced life of the nation’s capital.

Facts, one and all.

The gardens are totally beautiful, and there were really nice posters of different presidents planting their trees. Did you know that (almost) every president (since 1870ish) plants a tree of his own? Unless he’s George H.W. Bush, in which case he plants three a year for the entire 14 years of his presidency. Seriously, if the White House-organized posters are to be believed, that man loved planting trees.

Here’s the thing about visiting a place that has become legendary through its treatment in popular culture and the distance you had to stand away from it to take the photo that proved you were a tourist in D.C. It’s not as big as you imagine. For example, I thought the Rose Garden would be like the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, complete with the Beast lurking in the shadows.  And it’s great… it’s just not as big as I thought it would be. No Belle, no Beast.

The vegetable garden was also smaller than expected but impressive. There were squash varieties I haven’t even seen as challenge ingredients on Food Network shows. That’s when you know it’s exotic.

Anyway, back to POTUS, who we saw, in the flesh, real-life, this is not a joke.

This is Simon, standing outside the Oval Office, convinced that he has caught a glimpse of Obama. I will admit, I thought he had to be mistaken. No way is Obama in there, says I, fool that I am.

Let us also take this moment to remember that Simon spotted Queen Silvia on the balcony of the Swedish Embassy, so… I should probably stop doubting him. He was so insistent, though, that I took a photo of the people inside the office.

And as you can see, there was a fairly distinctive ear silhouette. And then this happened…

And then this happened…

The crowd screamed as he walked by. SCREAMED. Just like you would imagine teenyboppers shrieking and losing it at a Beatles concert. We were all hovering, snapping photos, held in place by the imaginary barrier represented by the transition from walkway to lawn (and by the armed Secret Service agents lurking nearby).

So that was our encounter with my close friend and old buddy, good old POTUS Mo’bama.

The end. 

In one week, you can…

Things are happening and time is flying. Maybe I am being secretly filmed for a game show on how many things you can do in a week or how many states you can find yourself in within the space of a few days. The past four days especially have been insane. From our home base in Maryland, we have been to Columbus (OH), Philadelphia, and DC within the last four days.

In Columbus for Simon's first football game... with true fan apparel, thanks to my Dad, a loyal Buckeyes fan.

We had planned the trip to Columbus with my parents way earlier this summer, before we had even moved, to go see my grandma. Then she got the chance to move to a nursing home close to my parents in Maryland, so we decided to go to Columbus anyway, revisit my dad’s childhood haunts, and go to an OSU game — Simon’s first football game.

We arrived home around 11 pm Sunday night, and on Monday we were on our way to Philadelphia to celebrate my sister’s birthday with my parents, my grandmother, Simon and me in the car. I brought my computer and my notes to finish up a freelance project on the ride and sent it five minutes after we had parked in the Italian market district. Then it was off to Distrito for a ridiculously good birthday dinner for Emily. (Happy 23rd, Emily!!)

Emily blows out the churro. (A couple of margaritas and a tequila tasting, the photography was a little blurrier than usual.)

We arrived home around 11 again and went straight to bed, where I had a fitful night of not sleeping because I was too worried that we weren’t going to wake up to our alarm the next morning. Why do we do that? I’m not the only one who does that. It’s strange. When the alarm finally started playing the “magical wake up” song or whatever our ridiculous alarm ring tone is called, I did something I have never done at an unholy hour of the morning: I bounced out of bed, turned off the alarm, and said, “Thank God that’s over!” because I was so sick of quietly trying to go back to sleep. Yes, I am a strange gal.

Tuesday was moving day and from my bizarre morning proclamation onward we were packing, lifting, loading, driving, unloading, lifting, dragging, unpacking and finally unwinding after two couches, one bed, one bike, and a Uhaul full of boxes. And a fruitless cross-city rush to a seminar at the Swedish Embassy for me, which was totally victorious for about thirty seconds. Got to the Embassy with five minutes to spare, knocked on the door to be let in, was promptly informed by the security guard that there were only five minutes left in the lecture but I could go down if I wanted. A valiant attempt sabotaged by my own incompetence. Oh man.

Now we’re back in Maryland for two days, returning the Uhaul and my parents’ car before heading back on Friday (and paying a visit to Ikea). Nothing like some good Swedish interior decorating…


Last news for now — the English part of my company website has now launched. I’d love it if you took a look! Stay tuned for the Swedish version if you know any Swedes who might be in need of some Business English consulting/translation services. :)


Swedish in DC… and that one time the Queen saw my butt

So far, my DC life has been much more a Maryland and Sweden life. Even though we’re still living out at the Eastern Shore with my parents, we’ve been in DC every single week for the last month or so. Now we’re exactly one week away from moving in to our new apartment, and as sick as it sounds, I am really, really looking forward to being curled up in one unbroken ball of pain on our new sofa after having lifted several times my body weight up a million stairs.

And as for my Swedish life… I got the world’s best part-time job at the Swedish Embassy as a tour guide on the weekends. There are two exhibits: an interactive display on Education and Innovation and a photography exhibit on Images of Strindberg. It’s kind of amazing to me that all the hard work I put into learning Swedish and understanding Swedish culture is still paying dividends, and this time in the United States! I did my interview in Swedish, which was a first for me, and I’ve had a really fun time walking and taking with visitors.

My "first day of school" picture for starting work at the Swedish Embassy.

Here’s a great story i have so far from my first time at the Embassy since interviewing for my visa. I go in, have a pretty good interview except I was blushing terribly out of nervousness and panicking about my inability to stop blushing, and then I go outside to join Simon, who was waiting for me on a park bench.

At that point, I decided that I absolutely needed to take off my tights because it was a million degrees out. I do that with what I believe is minimal midday mooning and collect myself, turning to see Simon looking at the building.

Oh, there are people up there on the balcony! he said, pointing. Were any of them the ones interviewing you? 

Then, as I’m still trying to focus on the faces, he says, “Oh my God, it’s Silvia!” 

As in Queen Silvia, Queen of Sweden, who was in town for a charitable event and was probably the only one in any position to see my under-dressed butt as I took off my tights. She looked relatively unperturbed, though, so she must have missed it.

The early crowd assembling for a regatta outside the Embassy.

Both of my first days of work were totally beautiful, and on Sunday there was even a rowing regatta on the Potomac right outside the Embassy windows. The weather was perfect, and I got to take a lot of guests up to the rooftop deck to take in the view. Here are a few things I learned in my first days:

  • Running in heels to catch a bus on your way to work will render those formerly-comfortable shoes into instruments of torture.
  • Standing in heels for five hours kills your whole body, not just your feet.
  • If you are blonde and standing in the Swedish Embassy, people will assume that you are Swedish.

Some people have questions that are totally unrelated to the exhibits (read: taxes) so I really appreciate having the knowledge necessary to be able to respond to them in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. The Strindberg exhibit is more of a challenge for me, so I had to cram in a whole bunch of information in the two days leading up to my first tour. It reminded me of taking a foreign language class again… Now all I have to do is remember 7 of 10 irregular past tenses and I’m golden! Thankfully, there’s a sponsored lecture on him next Tuesday, so hopefully I’ll be able to shore up my knowledge pretty quickly.

Besides that, my business is still on and still trucking! After completing just four full months (including our trip to Italy and the transatlantic move), I’m in the black. SWEET! Hopefully the new website will be up soon because I think that will help me promote my services even more. It looks like a couple of new projects are in the works, and I have a freelance writing project keeping me more than busy until then.

All in all, life is treating is verrry well in Amurrica. We shall say what happens when we depart from our residence at the spa (aka my parents’ house) and enter into the real world… a world in which we pay for groceries and are actually responsible for cooking our own food. Let’s be serious: these past six weeks of total pampering have rendered me totally incapable of taking care of myself anymore. Catch you all on the flip side (I will be an unwashed miscreant).