Food in Tubes

My first morning in Sweden unfolded pretty much exactly as I had expected: Awoke with a cotton-y mouth and icepick-torture headache as a result of drinking too much, tried to sooth the pain with football-sized ibuprofen tablets, and then proceeded to consume a breakfast which consisted of reindeer cold cuts, cheese, and a variety of substances squeezed from brightly-colored tubes onto crisp crackers.

Neither Julie nor I have visited Sweden before. She just because she never had occasion, and I because I’ve hated it and it’s people for many years. And before you go calling me bigoted and close-minded I will tell you that I have more than one reason to feel this way, not the least of which is that I’m not really a fan of snow. Or aggressive, crazy bitches. Anyway. . .

Today I really embraced the snow—and there is a lot to love. Having learned my lesson about trying to keep up with the Swedes in alcohol consumption, I took it easy last night and stuck to beer. I mean, I drank 10 of them, but who’s counting? In any case, I felt pretty good when I woke up at a reasonable hour and wanted to go running. Our hosts (remember my Icelandic friend who had his arm sliced open by gypsies?) live right up against the Tryresta Forest Preserve. Lacking skis, Julie and I decided to go for a walk in there. What started as a stroll turned into a trot and then a jog, and pretty soon we were running through snow-covered pine forest. It was lovely. But then, we didn’t have to look at ourselves.

Julie was wearing jeans and some kind of nylon dress shoes, a winter coat, white furry hat and turkish scarf. I had on long underwear under nylon track pants, rubber muck boots, and a shiny purple down jacket with fur collar. We were both red-faced and sweating when we passed the first swedes along the path. How did we know they were Swedes? Well, first of all—they were orienteering. And secondly they had on their special “running through the forest” gear. Because one thing I’ve noticed in the past 48 hours is that Sweden’s consitution has a clause stating that every citizen must be properly ourfitted in high-tech gear specific to whatever activity they are doing. They politely let us pass and smirked a little at our obvious lack of gortex accoutrements.

The next group of people we passed were obviously not Swedes. And we knew this because they were 60-70 year old women in overcoats and crepe-soles, sledding and speaking Russian. They didn’t even bat an eye at us. I think we all silently acknowleged our membership in a sisterhood of un-outfitted losers.

On a more international note, today we go to the Kulturhuset to install our piece in our booth and advertise for the meatball contest. Our collaboration is going smashingly and there have been lots of laughs and spirited conversation. Our concept seems to be working (that we are ‘representing’ Turkey at this fair, although Julie and I are american, and Cristian and Arni are not swedish) much to our delight. We silently gloated when a Swedish guy who we met told us he was “disappointed” that we were not really Turkish and that we should be wearing burkas. As if there are many burka-wearers in Turkey. But we do hope to continue to disappoint.

Yesterday I bought a new unicyle and perhaps I will ride that around today in the fair area to drum up publicity for the meatball show. Several friends that I met at an artist-initiatives meeting in Istanbul last fall are coming today as well and we will probably have to celebrate. I will have to do inventory on my ibuprofen stock.


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