Archives for the month of: September, 2010

Blog, you are a bottomless pit. No matter how much I post, you always need more or you just end up looking sad and abandoned. It’s tedious.

Anyway, here’s the latest…the Frankfurt beast of a book fair is coming up next week, so work has reeeeally been a grind the last few days. I’ve been focusing on English translations for about two dozen different authors and manuscripts – which is a lot, just trust me – and in my spare time I’ve been piloxing and African dancing my little butt off in company gym class (side note: the classes are either getting way, way harder or I’ve been snacking on one too many Swedish pastries lately…side note to the side note: my group has an obscene amount of client meetings, always involving mountains of sugary baked goods, so a twice-daily drive-by of the conference room is usually part of my routine. I have no will power whatsoever around cookies and cinnamon rolls).

In related news, tonight I had a banana for dinner – a nasty little bruised and gooey one I lugged home from the company-sponsored fruit-in-the-break-room program. In other words, the only thing I could afford. If you know me at all, you know I would rather eat my own foot than go near a ripe banana – I only like the really tart green ones – but clearly this is a new era. A very cold, impoverished era in which I only consume found-food on the weekdays. TGIPayday tomorrow is all I have to say.

Annnnd, I think that’s it. I’ll end here and just add that it’s COLD. Very, very cold. And there’s really not a good picture to go with any of what I just wrote so I’ll just include a night shot of a fountain. Such a compelling blog post from start to finish.

Day 25, and I’m feeling increasingly alienated by the commercials. Here’s the latest from those zany and ubiquitous redheads of OMG Cat fame (these women are everywhere, btw – you can’t run away, but you really want to)…

I’ve been thinking that a lot of these ads probably make more sense if you speak Swedish – that the dialogue and narration must help to shed some light on what exactly is happening here, and maybe nothing is unusual about these at all.

But then, I’ve been coming across more and more ads in English lately, and I’m still baffled. I ask you, what is going on with this voice over?

And this last one from the same company is just scary as shit. They play this on network television?? I really can’t watch this ever again. I’m just going to post it and walk away. Happy monkey nightmares tonight.

One of my projects at work this week was creating English marketing materials for Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. The BGA agents have a few major book fairs every fall – Gothenburg this weekend and Frankfurt, one of the world’s largest fairs, the week after – and since Nilsson’s books are some of the most recognized and influential in the agency’s catalogue, this was a big deal.

Now I know why: At 88 years old, Nilsson has pioneered some of the most incredible photographic techniques I’ve ever seen. In the early 1950s, Nilsson developed special medical instruments with macro- and wide-angle lenses and was able to capture the first look at human embryos; and in 1965 he published the first edition of his book, A Child is Born, a photoessay that documents human life from conception to birth. 1965, people! Will you look at these images?

The book is now in its fifth edition and it’s been published around the world. Not surprising that it’s popular. I only included a few of his photographs, but I definitely suggest checking out his full slideshow here. Especially all of you preggo friends of mine who occasionally read this blog – this is for you.

(Bizarre side note to mom: Does this guy look EXACTLY like grandpa or am I crazy?)

It’s a little weird to be posting the highly anticipated Stockholm: Week Three ugly photo collage recap tonight, because that means I’ve already entered Week Four of this whole adventure, and that’s impossible. I just got here. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s been a mix-up with the dates, and I’d like to speak with someone in charge. I only came into this thing with 13 weeks to play with, and I’m supposed to believe I’ve already used a quarter of of it? No! I’m not fluent yet, I haven’t eaten nearly enough meatballs, and I still look the same (ok yes, a very small part of me thought I might look taller and little more European by this point, or at the very least have stopped dressing like an American college kid…UGG boots and faded jeans to the office today, Reagan? really?). I can’t go back yet.

Interestingly, though, my bank account makes a convincing argument that it’s time to go home. This is probably why they don’t let us stay longer…I’ve already been reduced to eating Swedish cup-o-noodles for lunch twice this week, because even that is like $27 a packet – and, this being a particularly desperate weekend between paychecks, if I want coffee tomorrow (and who are we kidding? yes, I’ll want coffee) I’m going to have to walk the 1.8 kilometers to the office cappuccino machine. On a Saturday. I dare you to think of something sadder you’ll be doing this weekend than that.

Now, without further ado…Stockholm: Week Three!

You know that terrifying nightmare that you’re walking through a dark, deserted supermarket with your toddler, just minding your own business and shopping for a decent marinade, when suddenly, without warning, the rows and rows of ketchup start to close in on you? And you can’t run, and they’re coming closer, and closer, and any second the aisles of tomato paste are going to eat you and your baby? Well the folks at this little Swedish grocery store chain know that dream exactly, and it looks to me like they’ve found a solution, too.

Hey when you do laundry, do you have to reserve a day and time weeks in advance by putting a nonsensical padlock on a giant metal calendar so your neighbors can’t book the same time frame? And then on your designated day and time, do you have to drag your dirty clothes down five flights of stairs, exit the building, walk across a courtyard in the rain and then go inside a dark, tiny shed swarming with ghosts and boogiemen and creepy sounds, where the Barbie-sized washer and dryer are programmed entirely in Swedish, causing you to accidentally lock your sheets and towels in a two-hour spin cycle at 9 PM when all you really want to do is shower and go to bed? If not, then doing laundry does not suck for you. Come to the bourgie east side of Stockholm where people have real problems.

Sweden’s big election day came and went yesterday without much fanfare or fallout, at least for the non-voting American whose most pressing concern of the day was trying to track down the best gelato in Gamla Stan. Not so for the Swedes of the Bonnier office, though. I’ve seen some sad faces before — especially on Monday mornings — but wow, today was a real bummer. It turns out, elections are a giant horse kick to the head no matter where you live. Even if you win.

As in the states, the months leading up to the elections here are crammed with campaign speeches, sidewalk rallies and overly sentimental political ads — but since all of these things have been in Swedish, I haven’t been able to figure out which party is the most annoying here. What I do know is that both of the two primary parties (here, coalitions) failed to grab a majority of seats, and for the first time in the country’s history, a polarizing extremist party (a neo-nazi party known as the Sweden Democrats) was able to secure nearly 6 percent of the vote, giving them 20 seats and a way to flex their ideological muscles on future policy.

The current “center-right four-party coalition” (you thought our system was confusing?) did hang on to power with 49.3 percent — so close yet so far away! — but without an outright majority, they’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get anything done. And the “red-green three-party opposition coalition” (these are real names, I’m not even embellishing like I’m prone to do), who finished with 43.7 percent, are really in the dumps. Both of these long-named coalitions will now need to kowtow to the vilified Sweden Democrats to get anything done, but to really complicate things, both groups have sworn not to.

You glossed over this entire blog post didn’t you? Because it started with “politics” in the title and it had numbers and words like coalition and ideological in it. It’s ok, I don’t think I explained this very well anyway, and certainly you shouldn’t quote me on any of it because this is just a blog. I know you’re tempted…I know you can’t wait to call your mom and be like, “you will never believe what Reagan’s blog just told me” but don’t — read the actual story on CNN or something, since I assume those people have done more homework than having a chat with their melancholy Swedish coworkers over rostbiff och potatis in the cafeteria.

Tomorrow, to balance the scales of content, I will blog about something superfluous once again. That’s my promise to you.

In caffeine news, I’m up to five shots a day now. I’m still not ready to admit I have a drinking problem, because this is such a functional addiction…you should see how fast I can type! But the little Swedish man who sits by the cappuccino machine downstairs is getting really judgy lately. It might be time to start going out for coffee.

Here at the blog headquarters, my staff and I have been getting thousands of requests recently for a photo of my office. Thousands. Just to clarify, this post is not in any way the result of only one person asking me twice to post a picture of where I work, so just get that out of your heads. This is meant for all of you, because you’ve all been so curious about this and you know it.

In the spirit of last week’s really unremarkable and kind of sad-looking photo collage, I’m proud to present to you, Internet…

Stockholm: Week Two*!

* Now with 43% more pictures!

I think I’m really improving…