Why I’m Moving to Norway

Not this week. Maybe next year. This will come as a surprise to the son and his family who may be stationed there for a few years. Still, I’m as serious as possible about this odd-ball, harebrained (not hair-brained, I just learned) escape scheme.

For one thing, I’m getting tired of all the negativity. On the topic of immigration, for example, I’m tired of being told that the country is biased against immigrants of color. Norway doesn’t care what color I am; my skills and my money are their criteria. Perhaps you’ve taken a Harvard Implicit Bias Assessment. Race is but one of the dozen or so ways in which we might favor one group over another. This writer in Scientific American has some doubts about the whole thing, but I like his conclusion: “Although bias and prejudice still exist, they are not remotely as bad as a mere half a century ago, much less half a millennium ago. We ought to acknowledge such progress and put our energies into figuring out what we have been doing right—and do more of it.” How optimistic. So, oddly, I will be going to a place where they don’t want me and I can’t stay for more than a year anyway. Turnabout, etc.

Second, I want to learn another language, and Duolingo tells me that Norwegian (technically, Nynorsk or Bokmal) is the 8th easiest language for English speakers. How they arrived at that metric isn’t clear. Immersion is the path, however, and since the family who doesn’t know I’m coming with them will be learning, I will too. I’ve read a lot of Ibsen and listened to a good podcast on Kristin Lavransdatter, for which Sigrid Undset won a Nobel, only the third women to do so. One podcast does not a scholar make, but I can try. Mayor Pete Buttigieg learned the language to read Erlend Loe’s novel Naïve. Super. Mayor Pete also speaks six other languages and is much smarter than I, but I really can try. I keep saying that, and you know I hate the word “try.” (Oh, and I really like the Norwegian movie Trollhunter, a mockumentary/found footage piece that has some awesome trolls and dark humor.)

Third, the local grandkids will come visit. Not for me perhaps, but on the strength of a sub-genre called “death metal.” I kept hearing “deaf metal.” Isn’t there some group Def Leppard? I learned this about their name: “Elliott proposed the name “Deaf Leopard” which was originally a band name he thought up while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his English class. At Kenning’s suggestion, the spelling was slightly modified in order to make the name seem less like that of a punk band.” Of course, I don’t what any of this means but assume you will. Regardless, the kids will come visit, which is nice. Personally, I like Edvard Grieg, whose “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen” is as cheerful a little piano piece as you’re likely hear in an ABA form. See, I do know some things. Plus, Grieg boycotted France because of the Dreyfus Affair, an anti-Semitic scandal that actor Richard Dreyfuss explored in the film Prisoner of Honor. Yes, the names are spelled correctly. I have it; borrow if you like. (The grandkids are visiting and had this to say already: Jeg spiser brød og gråter på gulvet. It means I am eating bread and crying on the floor. Yikes.)

Next, my old allies are deserting me: Snopes, Google, Netflix. They’ve gone to the left. Although people warned me about Snopes a few years ago, I resisted. Facts are facts, right? (Or, as a certain candidate recently declared, “Truth over facts.”) Snopes has started fact-checking The Babylon Bee, a satire site which bills itself as, well, a site of satire, launched in 2016. As a conservative, Christian parallel to The Onion, it might publish an article spoofing Jill Biden’s take on her husband, but The Onion got there first. Perhaps you read Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in school or at least saw a movie and know that it’s a satire of commonly-held foibles of polite society. Perhaps you read his essay “A Modest Proposal,” a far more biting satirical piece in which he “advocates” for roasting Irish children because of the problem of feeding so many of them. At the end, he offers his real solutions. Yes, some people took him seriously. Snopes said that “dozens of social media users were puzzled by articles.” I’m sorry. This isn’t 1729. You’ve got the Internet, people, all dozens of you. Look stuff up! To my point, the Norwegians are highly educated. I’ve read they don’t have much of a sense of humor, but I can wait that out.

So, how do I feel about this? From the tiniest bit of information I have on that Buttigieg-favored novel, I know it’s a coming-of-age tale of a young man trying to find meaning in his life. That’s not my purpose in moving to Norway since I have a meaningful existence. My current thinking seems not to be a running toward but a running away, not from meaning but, in fact, out of it. Perhaps that’s the definition of “escapism”? Not an afternoon at the movies but less than a year somewhere else. A clean place, I think. It’s too cold to get out much, for me, so perhaps I can get some good work done. Perhaps I’ll be bearing a grief not yet borne. I’ll want to go in the summer when the sun barely sets. If I’m sad, I don’t want to have it in the dark. I want the sun on my cheeks. Next year, then, maybe, ha det. That’s Norwegian for adios.


Why I’m Drinking a Quart of Vinegar

Not all at once, of course. When a friend asked me to consider drinking a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with “the mother,” diluted in a glass of water, I was inclined to do so because she didn’t begin with “You should…” It was her hope for me. It’s a legacy, of sorts, to influence someone for the good.

This weekend I heard the story of a man named Carl. He is friendly and waves at all his neighbors. He works at a local elementary school as a crossing guard. Those folks get waves too, each one individualized. Although I haven’t seen him, I can imagine this gesture as a delightful start to a Monday morning school day. Down the street, no one is doing the same thing. It must be quite dreary.

Circles of influence. We all have them. The usual image is a stone dropped in a pond. The waves go out and out, ending at the shores. The problem, however, is that we long for something not so ephemeral. We have an innate desire to leave our mark, as it were. The thing is, also of course, that we never know how we’re affecting others. A word, a look, a smile, a frown—anything we do can be for good or for not.

On FaceBook, the fount of lots of half-way wisdom, someone posted a poem with this premise: We are all in line to leave this earth. We don’t know where we are in this line, and most of the time we don’t even think of ourselves as being in it. But we are. A man named Peter C. Nielsen may have written the poem, but he does have a presence on FB daily. I like his entry that’s a meme of a caterpillar and a butterfly having this conversation: “You’ve changed.” And “We’re supposed to.” My quibble with the being in line was that it was a bit depressing to have someone point out a depressing truth that at my age even more depressing. Also, the poem use “can not” instead of “cannot.” His autocorrect should have caught that.

Emulating the positive (I waved at someone on my street today) is powerful, but so is avoiding the negative. Saying to myself “I don’t want to be like that” is no less frequent that saying “I want to be more like that.” Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Either/or works to improve.

One last connection: When two good examples of how to be enter one’s life, one pays more attention. The topic is tarantulas. Some time ago, I wrote about my phobia. It didn’t end well for the aforementioned creatures. Two younger women have now suggested—kindly—that I might rethink this. And I have. It’s going to be hard, really hard, but I think I can. When I found the dessicated body of a tarantula recently, I didn’t rejoice. Instead, I mourned that I had missed the opportunity to let it live.

Yes, I think we are supposed to change. Even if it’s one tablespoon of vinegar at a time.


Washington! Jefferson! Adams! Madison!

Is that all?

No way!

Lafayette! King George III! Aaron Burr! (The bad guy?!) Alexander Hamilton! (The man, dudes!)

Is that all?

No way!

The Schuyler sisters: Eliza! Peggy! Angelica! And Maria Reynolds! (The bad one? Umm…takes two.)

Here’s his backstory!


“Alexander Hamilton”

“Aaron Burr, Sir”

Hamilton the Musical has its own history. It took Lin-Manual Miranda six years to write it after reading Ron Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton. Clever title, huh? It’s won more Tonys than anything else ever. Miranda won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


It combines all kinds of music, all kinds of casting. And it’s brilliant! Just like…Hamilton!

“My Shot”

Let’s meet the women—they’re rich, and they’re smart!

“The Schuyler Sisters”

  1. Does that date sound familiar? King George gets a song, if not his way.

“You’ll Be Back”

The Revolution. To tell the truth, it didn’t go that well at first. Hamilton wanted to fight, like Aaron Burr. Glory, that was his dream. But no. Washington wanted his help but in a different way.

“Right Hand Man

Eliza was the great man’s wife. There’s a little issue with her sister, Angelica. Hamilton had (shall I say?) a bit of a reputation.



In war—as in other fights—people get mad. General Washington fired one of his commanders, Charles Lee, who was unfit to lead. He goes off on Washington, who forbids Hamilton’s plan to challenge him to a duel. Hamilton and Burr are the seconds, however. Ironic, right? Washington suspends Hamilton briefly afterward.

“Ten Duel Commandments”

“Meet Me Inside”

With his first child on the way, Hamilton has a new reason to live, other than dying in a blaze of glory. He and Lafayette figure out how to actually win this war!  King George has a comment or two after that…

“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”

“What Comes Next”

Hamilton and his wife have a son. Aaron Burr sings about his daughter. Some sweetness here. Then they have to get to work. Making a country up from scratch—not that easy.

“Dear Theodosia”



Money. Where to get it. How to spend it. Debt. Always an issue. Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury. He had a plan. Aaron Burr, well, he’s getting jealous.

“Cabinet Battle #1”

“The Room Where It Happens

Meetings, meetings. When France needs the new nation’s help, Hamilton advises Washington to remain neutral. He does, but then everybody else gets mad at Hamilton. What a mess!

“Cabinet Battle #2”

“Washington on Your Side”

George Washington decides to retire. John Adams will replace him. King George has some comments (of course!) and Hamilton is…OUT!

“I Know Him”

“The Adams Administration”

Rather than letting his opponents get the better of him, Hamilton writes about his affair with Maria Reynolds before they can. Savvy? Maybe.

“The Reynolds Pamphlet”

Not good for a marriage. Sad. After George Eacker gives a speech that criticizes his father, Phillip Hamilton challenges him to a duel. Dad Hamilton advises him to shoot in the air, hoping and assuming Eacker will do the same. He doesn’t. Phillip dies. So very sad, but his parents reconcile. He’ll never be president, but Hamilton backs Jefferson instead of Burr. Letters between Burr and Hamilton follow. The end is near.

“Your Obedient Servant”

“Best of Wives and Women”

Why? Why? Why did Hamilton intentionally miss his shot?

“The World Was Wide Enough”

Legacy. Hamilton has the $10 bill and The Federalist Papers. Burr? Not much at all, remembered as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton. But this is his story, too.

“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”



For a Real Princess

Hans Christian Andersen wrote 3381 fairy tales. What an astonishing number! Among the odder ones, to me, is “The Princess and the Pea.” My grandmother told it to me, perhaps with the hope of encouraging my sensitivity to random legumes or reminding me that we should be different from the other, less sensitive persons of rank. I find the wording jarring; the premise, irrational. What does “real” mean anyway? Carol Burnett starred in its off-Broadway musical adaptation, Once Upon a Mattress. Here is Sarah Jessica Parker singing “Shy.” In this opening, we have the original cast. Both are quite charming (the prince is names Dauntless, however—minor point.)

In 2012, someone rummaging around in a box in Denmark found what is believed to be Andersen’s first story, “The Tallow Candle.” Depressed, the candle finally learns it must be lit to be happy. Its parents are a sheep (for tallow, one assumes) and a melting pot. The mechanics of all that are a bit much. Luckily, we have later, mature, brilliant tales such as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or “The Ugly Duckling” or “The Little Mermaid” continue to delight and provide a certain movie studio with material.

Offshoot discussions might include the concept of obedience. As children, princesses seem to be little tyrants who get their own way. Marriageable ones must themselves become obedient, often. Please see the entire history of Europe for verification. Marie Antoinette, for example, was actually Austrian. She was married at age 14, queen of France at 18; she did not say, “Let them eat cake,” in case you didn’t know.

With last week’s Lion King cub on my mind, the phrase “Remember who you are” came to mind. I remember standing on a cold, wind-blown corner when I was 6 years old, my coat open to show that I was a Brownie and thereby authorized to take down the circus posters from the telephone pole. Apparently, it moved my father to tears. The thought of being thought a thief was more than I could bear. That is my only example, however.

A Young Women’s song from 2007 catches the meaning of what I’m hoping to share. This version of “Daughter of a King” announces that it’s “set to pictures.” An unusual description, but accurate. It begins with a quotation from A Little Princess: “I’m a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.” That’s real enough for me.

The poem isn’t new. I can’t remember if it was written for someone, but I don’t think it was. The idea of monarchy interest me; the slogging, brutal battle of Agincourt at which Henry V prevails exemplifies the randomness of it all, unless you happen to believe in a divine right. The battle does begin with a prayer, and fear is clearly seen on all the actors’ faces. An odd favorite, I know.


For a Real Princess

In this world

Several kinds of princesses

Dwell alongside those others

(Without thinking) we

Call commoners.


One sort of princess is born

Of royalty, kings queens etc,

Whose great-grandfathers etc

Long dead now

Fought great battles

Killing other commoners

Taking thereby

The title of King.

Ha. What can that matter?

In the long run.


Another sort of princess is made

Of lovely cheekbones, flowing hair,

Symmetry of form etc,

Whose parents may have reared her well

Making her kind and good

Or spoiled her

Making her unkind and bad

To the joy or sadness of all.

Ha. What can that matter?

In the long run.


The best kind of princess is alive

In all our hearts

When we know who we are

When we remember Whose we are:

Not the products of our lives only

(Forgiving thereby sad childhoods)

Not the result of our forms only

(Forgiving thereby our looks alone).

We have parents for whom the

Words King or Queen are not enough,

Who love us as we were and are and will be—

Who give us crowns of roses in spring,

Rainbows after rain, sunrises, sunsets—

And behold, our own children to rear

As children, daughters and sons, of a king.

That’s who we are and yes, it matters in the long run.