Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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2017, that happened

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My last blog post that did not feature a book was in July. That’s quite a few months of happenings with no writing. In fact, after doing a quick scroll through of my 2017 blog I now realize I’ve only posted 7 times outside of my book of the month posts. Seven:

  1. one year old
  2. finally 2017 (a look ahead)
  3. ry-guy
  4. mediwift
  5. t-man
  6. 15 days: my iphone withdrawal story
  7. four(teen)th of july

Either there’s not a whole lot going on for me, or a whole helluva lot. To be honest, definitely some of both. So, yeah, that happened. I do want to continue my recent tradition of reverse bucket listing my year. This year’s list will serve two purposes: it’s a great way to reflect on the good times of 2017, and is also a list of blog posts soon to be featured here:

  1. Hosted wintry guests
  2. Went on a cruise
  3. Celebrated weddings in Newport, RI and Sundance, UT
  4. Traveled to the western USA with my family
  5. Saw the Grand Canyon
  6. Went to Vegas
  7. Followed my savings plan
  8. Coached a growing group of girls
  9. Attended my 10 year high school reunion
  10. Completed another year of my ECE degree

I’ll stop at 10, because that’s been my modus operandi the previous two years, but there may be an extra post or two coming down the pipeline with happenings from the eventful 2017 – like my epic summer vacation. Get ready, 2018 is here.

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language arts

picture credit: itchy feet

Have you ever thought about this concept? For me the idea of language arts has gone somewhat unnoticed until my move to Sweden. We had a Language Arts building in high school. Let me explain that further, we had an open campus, which means multiple buildings and a nice little walk outdoors between each class. The outdoor time was especially appreciated during winters in New England. The Language Arts building is where students had their foreign language classes and some English classes (like Medieval literature – which I took senior year). Being the wonderfully cheerful teenager that I was I never put a lot of thought into the naming of the building, but it’s a concept I was reminded of during recent pondering.

What does Language Arts really mean, what about language is an art? Just as music is an art, where the reading and composing of notes creates the beautiful sounds that humans across the globe cannot get enough of, language is also an art. Though I never really understood the deep connections between say language and music (or painting, or what have you) until I really  learned my second language (and exited my moody teenage years).

When writing, and speaking, word composition is just as important as music composition, or the composition of a painting, et cetera. Just take that word “composition” in the previous sentence how it can be applied in so many contexts. What I’m getting at is the fact that I’ve recently been considering language, along with the other art forms, as a sincere form of expression. It takes skill and practice to be articulate. Even more skill and practice to be articulate in multiple tongues. Just as any art form takes skill and practice to perfect.

If language is a form of expression that begs the question: What do you mean? What is it that you really want to say? What is the best way of saying it? Are you going for clarity? Beauty? Irony? Melody?  I don’t think these questions need answers, I just think they’re worth considering. They are at least for me in my inner wonderings about self-expression, communication and how I use language to do it.

That being said, word choice is one of the most important aspects of language. I find saying what you mean to often be the goal of communicating, and I do think this is the essential purpose of language. All people across the globe use language as a way of finding one other and attempting to understand those around us. In that I see beauty.

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graduating: here and there

My brother graduated high school this June. My youngest brother. Not to make this about me, but holy crap, I am SO OLD!!! I can’t even handle it.

Moving on.

It was a festive event with lots of festivities. And balloons. I don’t recall having so many balloons at my high school graduation. In fact I remember very little about the actual day of my high school graduation……I wonder why. BUT! That is neither here nor there, like I said, this isn’t about me.

Tyler graduated the 9th of June, and I was so lucky to have been able to be there.

The weekend was full of celebratory dinners, grilling, and present opening.

Tyler's graduation 1

And of course the big event.

the event

As it happened Tyler’s graduation weekend was the same exact weekend as high school graduation in the city I live in in Sweden. The way the Swedes choose to celebrate graduation differs from the usual traditions in the US.

First on graduation day you have a champagne breakfast with your entire class, and teachers. (The big difference here from the US is the presence of champagne, as 18 is the drinking age in Sweden, and also the age of high school graduation.) After breakfast there’s some sort of assembly of the entire class. Then the class as a whole exits their school building, to the welcoming croud of their closest friends and family. The immediate family of the graduate makes a sign, usually with an embarassing childhood photo of the graduate printed as large as possible on the sign.

I clearly took this opportunity to make one for Tyler.

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As you can see in the picture of Tyler, another aspect of the sign tradition is that family and friends present the graduate with toys and commemorative items. These toys (and an occational bottle of champagne) are mounted on string, and hung around the graduate’s neck. To top off the look the Swedes always wear their graduation caps, which look like white sailor hats. So many Swedish high school graduates have a picture that look a lot like this:

photo 1 (4)

picture found here

The graduates then join the members of their class in a large truck and/or on the flatbed behind a tractor and/or some other sort of large vehicle. I should first explain that each graduating class is divided into many groups, and it is in these groups that you take all of your high school classes. So, it’s not like 300 people were piled onto a truck. It’s usually around 30. Much safer. Although they do get booze…less safe…

Loud music is usually played out of every vehicle. The graduates are also usually armed with some sort of horn/noise maker. Plus they can always yell. They essentially have a party on a tractor’s flatbed. Which they have decorated before hand in preparation. These many decked out vehicles then form a sort of parade through the city. It looks a lot like this:

graduation parade

pictures found here and here respectively

I hope Tyler enjoyed his small part of Swedish graduation as much as he enjoyed the rest of it.

Congrats again!

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