Nov 26, 2017

Me too/part 3/the Swedish landslide

Some call it a revolution. That’s yet to be seen. But it is certainly a landslide.

It’s about 1,5 month now since the actor Alyssa Milano started the #metoo campaign. In 24 hours 4,7 million women had signed the hashtag in 12 million Facebook postings.

I don’t know much of how the campaign has proceeded around the world. I know some about the US. I am quite familiar about the situation in Sweden though, and it is  extraordinary, choking and frightening. But there is also hope and will power.

This last month professionals from different industries have formed their own campaigns under clever hash tags which would be lost in translations if I tried, so I won’t. Coming out as victims for sexual harassments and assaults, as well as letting the country know the dark and silent secrets going on in their businesses.

* First out, here as well in the US, were the actors. 465 women in the theatre and film industry came out with their names and stories. Followed by 653 singers within the opera- and classical scene. 

* The day after 4445 legal professionals testify about assaults and discrimination within the judicial system, they are backed by the Courts Administration. 

* 1300 women in politics signs a petition against sexual harassments and assaults taking place among the elite of Swedish politicians. 

* 1993 women in the Swedish music industry bear witness about sexual harassments and rapes within the industry. 

* November 19, 1139 women in the tech industry speak up.

* The same week 1501 women in the trade unions sign the hashtag #notnegotiable.

* A few days later 4084 journalists had enough of sexism and assaults among the editorial staffs and in newsroom. #deadline.

* The day after 620 dancers join the movement and 1700 students follow.

* #timeout is the hashtag for 2290 athletes, trainers, sports journalists and supporters.

 *November 24, 2400 academics point out sexual harassments and assaults within the strict hierarchy at the universities. And the same day 1382 women within the Swedish Church join the Me too movement under the hashtag #lettherebelight.

This has all happened within a month and I still might have missed some. I am sure more will follow. Some might not though. It is awfully quiet in the business world for example, still a bastion for men. Is it possible for the women on that scene to come forward and tell their stories? I hope it will be, eventually.

So, what will come out of this? Will these thousands of brave women change anything at all?

They must. The insight that sexism, sexual harassments and assaults towards women goes on most everywhere in our society now sits like a hard fist in the Swedish collective stomach. A number of measures are on the table. Like instituting whistle blower functions in work places and organizations. Allowing women filing anonymous complaints. Educating first responders to look for signs and ask the right questions.

The Swedish government looks very seriously on the hard facts coming up and has summoned a number of institutions. Especially incriminating is the 4445 legal professionals testifying about assaults and discrimination within the judicial system, the government is actually chocked from that information. The foundation of trust for the rule of law is at risk if sexual crime is not taken seriously. And, I am thinking, if the judicial system itself is infected and sick by sexism and harassment, how can we trust women as plaintiffs being met and treated with respect and dignity?

The other day I browsed an Australian article picking up the Me too events in Sweden. How was it possible this is happening in one of the most gender equal countries in the world?

My guess is this is happening in most every country in the world. And by this I mean the sexual harassments going on everywhere in the society. The fact that women this fall in industry by industry, organization by organization, institution by institution in Sweden come forward telling the ugly truth might have something to do with equality. 

These patterns have been here for centuries. So has the silence surrounding them. The women wrongfully carrying the heavy weight of shame. The fact that they are finally lifting the shame off, putting it where it belongs might be because it actually is possible after all. I am thinking in many countries it is not.

Nov 19, 2017

My day of recuperation

The afternoon twilight is fascinating today. Daylight falling more quickly than I can turn the lights on inside to counteract the outcome of it. Light flurries swirling, embedding my little queendom in white.

This fall has been and is a strenuous one. No catastrophes for which I am very grateful and I shouldn’t really complain, but still one thing after the other. Health issues outside my usual domains, practical problems, little things turning into never endings projects (like getting new glasses, those of you mature enough for progressivs might know what I am talking about) and so on.

This last week in particular has been especially exhausting with two acute visits to the doctors and one more acute health contact. Oh how I have been wishing for a calm and uneventful day. Just one. For recuperation.

And it happened! Yesterday I watched a cute little nothing-film from 1989 with Steve Martin, Parenthood. While sipping my ginger tea doing my nails. A perfect tired Saturday afternoon.

But what was even more relaxing was that I could DO things. Strangely enough I had energy. And my body wasn’t at it’s worst, it was actually pretty good.

Since late summer Mohammed has been one of my home care anchors. While he was cleaning the house, doing the laundry and roasting my granola I was able to attend to some things downstairs. This was possible since I wasn’t alone. Mohammed was supervising my whereabouts.

I fixed my printer, clogged up as usual as I am rarely using it. Finally I got it to work. For the time being. But satisfying for now. And it was so nice being in my beautiful office feeling like someone having an office.

In my yellow kitchen there is a yellow sofa chair in the corner. It’s actually a recliner, everyone’s favorite spot. Next to it a sideboard with a shelf inunder piled up with old magazines and God knows what.

This used to be my favorite spot too. Stretched out in the chair covered in a wool blanket and music from the kitchen speakers. Drinking my tea. Reading architectural- and home interior magazines. Planning and dreaming.

I’ve been looking at that big stack for years now wanting to do something about it. But I can’t because it’s out of my reach. To low down. And as it isn’t high priority it’s not on my list for things I need to ask people to do for me.

But yesterday Mohammed pulled out a stool for me. Meanwhile he was roasting the granola I sat next to the sideboard and went through the pile. Music on. The granola smelling cardamom and cinnamon. Nice company. I browsed the magazines starting at 2003. Memories. And plans that didn’t happen. But also dreams fulfilled.

I cleaned out most of the magazines and today I am looking at the sideboard with great satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment. It’s finally taken care of and I did it myself!

And the icing on the cake yesterday was when I was able to sit at the piano for a while figuring out some difficult passages in a couple of those Christmas songs my choir is rehearsing right now. It was years and years since my body allowed me to sit upright pushing the keys on a real instrument instead of lying on my couch settling for a dissatisfying keyboard on the Ipad. And I couldn’t have done it today.

I love spending time downstairs, because it’s so rare. It gives me a feeling of owning my home. Or, to be drastic, having a life, if you will. 

And it’s interesting how “doing things” can be relaxing. Sitting at my desk filing papers, I enjoy it so much! No thinking, no figuring out, no handling, no acting, no finding the difficult solutions, no coping, just doing it. And the satisfaction of getting it done, having it done.

I wished for a day of recuperation, and I got one. A good, stable, relaxing and uneventful day. Thank you.


Nov 12, 2017

A Saturday night ER reflection

Four hours later I was back home, diagnosed by a doctor and with three different medicins. Total cost, 200 kronor = 24 dollars.

I spent Saturday night at the ER, just the thing you love doing on a weekend evening. Nothing really bad, still something I needed to take care of urgently.

 When heading for a Swedish ER the best approach is to bring your patience and something to eat. Because oftentimes it will take hours before you get attended to. We tend to complain about this. And of course, when you are so acute you need an ER it is exhausting to spend hours in a waiting room not knowing when you will get helped. 

So, yesterday, as every time I reluctantly have to give in for the fact that I have to seek a doctor outside office hours, I had to remind myself how available it is in every sense. 

To start with, I live 15 minutes from the top ranked university hospital in Sweden, the one in Umeå. My only problem is nowadays I need a ride there which was tricky on a Saturday evening. But finally Trouble 2 was able to help me out, for which I am so grateful. 

So, only 15 minutes, I know exactly where to go and once there I know the drill. It is all familiar. The wait I am handling like an overseas flight. I know it will take time and there is nothing I can do about it. I settle. And I don’t look at my watch.

When it’s my turn I have access to all the professional specialties, examinations and treatments I need. And it costs 24 dollars.

I have been at the ER in Seattle. Arriving in the ambulance blue lights on. Trouble 1 in critical condition.

- Do you have insurance? I need your credit card.

That’s what met me at the arrival.

My son was out and I didn’t know if I could afford the doctors and the treatment.

It was a horribel day. The care was exceptionell and it all went well, but the huge bills kept coming for a year and although my insurance company took care of it, it was a terrifying experience. 

That’s what I am reminding myself of at the ER on a Saturday night. This is why we are paying our taxes in Sweden. So that no one will be stopped at the entrance, economically examined. No one. The only examination that happens at a Swedish ER is the medical one you need.  

And it costs 24 dollars.

Nov 5, 2017

The rain check

It’s a grey, dark and rainy Sunday here at the end of the road in my northern Swedish village, as well as in Seattle. Actually more like a moist drizzle here, and my guess is Seattle is the same.

I remember that day at the gym in Umeå back in winter 1993. The radio was on and there was a report about something in Seattle, probably the music scene. It caught my ear as we were only months from our first trip to that foreign territory I didn’t know anything about. And the reporter asked: it rains a lot in Seattle, how do you cope?

So it rains a lot in Seattle? Ouch. That’s not good news…

A few weeks ago the last brick-and-mortar umbrella store in Seattle closed. No one uses an umbrella in Seattle. If you happen to catch a human being in Seattle with an umbrella, it’s a visitor.  

And do you know in which city in the US the most sunglasses are purchased? Seattle. Jodell Egbert who's the owner of the last bumbershoot store Bella Umbrella in Pike Place Market will move her business to… New Orleans.

As a Seattle native Jodell Egbert should have known umbrellas wouldn’t be a successful business concept in Seattle. But she learned the dying art of umbrella making after she fell in love with a box of vintage ones she bought for her wedding 15 years ago. And she was persistent she would make Seattleites change their minds when laying eyes on her beautiful creations. How did that go? Not so good.

Because here is the thing. The rain is like blood in their veins to Seattleites. They don’t even notice it. Seattleites, Puget Sound, cedar and rain is like one big harmonies organism, only intruded ny traffic. I used to joke with my friends saying they were like poikilothermic animals. Didn’t do a big thing about the seasons, wearing pretty much the same clothes all year round and perceiving being wet as a natural state of mind. Unlike Swedes who live and breath their seasons. And shunning rain as something extremely uncomfortable. 

Umbrellas in Seattle are for wimps. Visitors. Tourists. To live your Seattle life without an umbrella is a regional pride. Or more correct, it’s something you don’t even consider. You don’t own one. They are only in the way. At your house and in your hand. Your hand is for the latte. 

During that first Seattle stay of mine in 1993, Swedish National Television wanted me to do a report about the fashion in Seattle. I looked around. Couldn’t find any fashion. Only grey and beige flanells over worn out jeans. I didn’t know then about Grunge. What about hair dos? Nope. Couldn’t see any. Just  hair. It’s very hard to maintain a hair do in the rain not protecting it with an umbrella. So, natural would be the look. Hair dos are for out-of-towners.

To the defense of the Seattle stance and reluctance when it comes to umbrellas you should know that the Seattle rain for the most part comes as a misty drizzle. Often continuing through the day. The typical rain originates from lower, flat stratus clouds and not from the dense, high cumulonimbus clouds associated with heavy precipitation. That’s why the misty nature of the raindrops. And for those drops umbrellas are an overkill, I have to agree.

By the way, the heavy rain flooding The Killing and the Grey’s Anatomy ER entrance is nothing but bad mouthing the Seattle weather! It’s very rare, I’ve only experienced that kind of rain once, an otherwise lovely december week in 1998. And yes, for that I used an umbrella!

So what’s with the sun glasses? Well, the only time I hear Seattleites complain about the weather is when the sun is out too many days in a row and the temperatures rise. When will we have som relief, they say, and reach for their shades. The summers after 2010 have all been dry and sunny with a dry streak record of 55 consecutive days 2017. It was the longest dry streak in more than six decades, so I am sure Seattle is enjoying the fall rains coming in.

But Jodell Egbert of Bella Umbrella in Pike Place Market has packed up her gorgeous hand made umbrellas for the more bumbershoot friendly New Orleans. “Every day somebody would come in and tell me it was stupid to have an umbrella store in Seattle because Seattleites don’t use umbrellas,” Egbert said. “It made me feel bad.” So, she gives Seattle a rain check until further notice.