Category Archives: United States

My Upper West Side Man

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A few weeks ago, we were in New York City, and a friend let us stay at her apartment in the Upper West Side. We took the briefest of naps before heading out for a very long night, and when we hesitantly stepped out from under the awning, we discovered that the miserable and humid drizzle of an hour before had turned into a clear, cool, sunny early evening. I immediately fell in love with New York City for the hundredth time.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is, as always, the greatest.

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Emily is a dainty elote eater while Josefin and I are ravenous. Or maybe that’s just me. The elote at El Chucho is really incredible. Described as a “street corn on the cob,” it’s roasted with spices and cheese and served as a salty, gooey delight. MMMM.

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Emily had already befriended all the bartenders and the waitstaff, so it was time for her to unleash some opinions.

Moving on from the El Chucho margarita on tap for one to the lover’s choice – the el codo for two. Because Cinco!

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In addition to t-shirts and shot glasses on necklaces, we were gifted maracas, which we exercised vigorously. And then our El Jimador tequila tasting was somehow sponsored by the brand. WOOHOO!

Opinionated in DC

You want opinions? This garbage truck has plenty.

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According to Wikipedia, Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם or תקון עולם[1]‎) is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing the world”) which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. In Judaism, the concept of tikkun olam originated in the early rabbinic period. The concept was given new meanings in the kabbalah of the medieval period and has come to possess further connotations in modern Judaism.

And then there’s this, from the New York Times:

So we’ve got Judaism, Bob Dylan, James Otis, and a quote from Shakespeare that probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. (It didn’t mean what I thought it meant!). On a garbage truck.

 

Rainy day in DC

When I lived in Sweden that first, hard winter, people tried to excuse the bone-chilling cold with reassurances that it was the worst winter in decades. As the dark and the wet continued, I grew increasingly convinced that the Swedes (otherwise referred to as “my friends” in happier times) were nothing more than a very cheerful, very loving pack of liars.

This year, I understand how they felt. I have a friend from Sweden doing an internship here and all I can tell her is that by this time last year, I had packed up my wool socks for the season. This year, we have the winter that just won’t quit! Come on, now.

I want sundresses and hot summer nights and rooftop margaritas. Instead, we have rain-smudged spectacles and late season flus and a deluge of weather disappointments.

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Best part of the weather today? Getting my mind blown by the New York Times, which wrote that 3.75 inches of rain (the amount expected in the Big Apple by Thursday) is equivalent to more than three feet in snow. That’s crazy!

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In the meantime, I’m making it through the day with two songs:

South River Falls in Shenandoah Park

A week after visiting Lara, I was back in Shenandoah, this time with Simon instead of on my own. We went for a hike along the South River Falls trail because the park ranger promised waterfalls. We weren’t disappointed.

Afterwards, we picnicked on leftover Afghani food from the day before and ate pie before heading north and back to real life.

 

Drive through Shenandoah

I went to Roanoke and Blacksburg last weekend via the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, and despite the torrential rain and low visibility that persisted for the first half of my seven hour drive, I still saw beautiful nature. For example…

I also felt pretty lucky to be driving through Shenandoah in the clouds because almost no one else was on the Skyline. 35 mph?! I’ve got a better idea.

Blue skies in DC

I had a headache all morning yesterday, so I took a break from work around 1 pm to walk around a little and get some fresh air. I went through the canal areas and down to the Georgetown harbor.

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Gazing at Rosslyn from the Georgetown harbor area.

It was all bright sun, blue skies, and business lunches, with the occasional yacht floating by. How amazing is it to have this green space (or blue, I guess) so central in DC? I love this city.

Lenten sugar cravings

I gave up sugar for Lent again, which is easier than it was last year but STILL NOT FUN in any way. (Just to impress upon you the hardcore nature of this promise, I’m not eating anything with honey or artificial sweeteners in it either, which means no flavored yogurt, no lattes, and no processed bread.) I’m still drinking wine, though, because a girl’s got to have her limits. Right? Right.

In the last two weeks, I had more or less gotten past the point of feeling intense cravings, which was great. Until this past Saturday, that is, when I made an exception to my Lenten promise so that I could taste wedding cake with Simon and my parents.

Four tiny, delicious sample wedding cakes… and so pristine in their as-yet unravaged state.

So much sugar… so much deliciousness. There is nothing like tiny cakes in the middle of Lent to make me feel like a crack addict on a mission. And once I got a bite, I was totally off the wall for the next hour.

Post-apocalyptic wedding cake.

And as you can see, devastation was swift and merciless. We all had tiny pieces so that we could taste each flavor combination, so there’s more left in the refrigerator, taunting and beguiling me with its sweet song: mmm, delicious sugars, must eat the cake!! 

I really need Simon to come home from work so that we can finish it off for good. Not because of my own selfish purposes, of course, but so that we can make final decisions about wedding cake. Obviously.

 

How do I say this in a way that doesn’t reveal my inner super geek…

A combination adult spelling bee and happy hour is undeniably — and shamefully — really tempting to me.

Look at the excitement… the tension… the drama! [screenshot from living social]

And it’s only $5… a small price for a night out in the city, a large cost to my effort to not be a total nerd all the time.

Nonstop excitement at the Embassy of Sweden

For the last two weeks, it has been nonstop excitement for me at the Embassy of Sweden. Right now, the Kennedy Center is hosting a gigantic festival called Nordic Cool focused on Scandinavian culture: theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, and film from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as the territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.

At the same time, the Embassy of Sweden has planned a jam-packed schedule of events in conjunction with Nordic Cool to support the Swedish cultural offerings and to tie into this year’s theme for public diplomacy, which is Globalization and Migration. So awesome. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten to work with the Embassy’s cultural department on public outreach to connect with people who would be interested in our events.

Monday was the grand opening for the Embassy of Sweden’s public diplomacy theme, so the day was spent finalizing the installation of the exhibits and preparing for the gala party later that evening.

This is one section of the Dressing Swedish exhibit, which was being installed and finalized on Monday. So exciting!

Dressing Swedish is an amazing exhibit about folk costumes in Sweden: how they create and express different visions of Swedish identity, how the folk traditions are being incorporated into modern fashion, and how they are re-imagined by descendants of Swedish immigrants in the United States. I had seen sketches of the exhibition layout earlier, but seeing it set up was a totally different thing.

One of my favorite parts of the Dressing Swedish exhibit: an example of the Swedish national dress, and an image of an updated version with hijab on the display. So cool!

There are four exhibits in total: Dressing Swedish, The Enduring Designs of Josef Frank (a furniture and textiles showcase), Memories of Stone (a drop-dead gorgeous photography exhibit), and The Third Room: a Sound Walk (an interactive radio theater program for children).  Last fall, we had only two exhibits, so as a tour guide, it’s exciting to have so much more to present from Sweden, especially since the exhibits cover such different areas of culture.

Just a little taste of the items on display in The Enduring Designs of Josef Frank.

The Josef Frank exhibit was probably my favorite to research ahead of time since there are so many amazing images on the internet of different rooms decorated with Josef Frank’s furniture and textiles. I am sadly now filled with lust for very expensive interior design.

Finally it was time for the opening party. After one last job — escorting a journalist through the Josef Frank exhibit — I got to slow down, relax, and enjoy the party. Our welcome drinks were oh-so-Swedish (elderflower and Absolut vodka) and very Nordic Cool with the glowing ice cubes.

Glowing ice cubes made our welcome drinks so beautiful – and maybe even more delicious.

I didn’t think to take pictures of the food, but I should have. The Ambassador’s personal chef was responsible for the buffet, and it was delicious. I think my favorites were the wild game meatballs, the pâté with pear chutney toasts, and the lobster soup. There was also an ice cream bar outside, but I didn’t get to try it, thanks to my Lenten resolution to give up sugar.

If you’re in DC, you should come on by!

You can find details and sign up for all of our events on Eventbrite at embassyofsweden.eventbrite.com. We also have open hours on Thursday evenings, 5:30-9 pm, and on weekends, 11-4 on Saturdays and 12-5 on Sundays. I’ll be your lovely tour guide and do my best to answer all your questions!

 

rain and cold
are not conducive to fun.