So there aren’t many things in the world that I hate; I tend to shy away from using that word, and I’ve long had a goal to keep my posts and general attitude positive. And, if I dislike something, I like to have a good reason for it. I can’t stand black olives, for instance – but at least I can point to a reason why I don’t like them.

Less traceable is my whole-hearted aversion to something else:


I have hated anime since the first time I saw part of a Robotech cartoon (my brothers were way into Robotech; I had my own 9-year-old scatalogical nickname for it). I hated the drawing style; I hated Minmae and her high screechy voice; I hated that characters’ mouths only moved one way, like tortured fish, instead of at least trying to imitate shapes seen in normal speech. I hated all these things with a passion unfettered.

But anime is cool, right? And I’m an international kinda girl; I like stuff from different cultures and I like to feel cosmopolitan. So I wanted to like anime. I thought maybe my distaste was founded in Robotech. After all, I loved Battle of the Planets, and that’s anime.

So a friend rented Spirited Away, an anime classic. And we settled down to watch it.

It was fingernails across the blackboard of my soul. The little girl’s voice shrieked into the inner sanctuary of my consciousness and made me literally writhe. The Jackson Pollack-on-acid story line, the hideous and incomprehensible characters, the irritating animation, the main character’s idiotic decisions, the unfriendly and unhelpful Team Nightmare creatures doing mind-blowingly absurd things – all combined in a synergistic assault on my sense of entertainment and aesthetics. It was as if the movie’s creators wanted to smash me into a thousand thousand pieces and then drag my shattered remnants through a solution of battery acid and lava. I felt an inexplicable rage that increased exponentially as the movie unfolded from whatever mutilated origami creature it had originally been mangled into. After about 45 minutes of fighting a rapidly increasing urge to throw something – ANYTHING! – I had to leave the room.

Since that time, I only have to see an anime drawing and I have a visceral reaction. I admit that it’s completely overblown and this loathing for anime is just as inexplicable as it is deep and intense. I honestly can’t think of anything else I hate as much.

Which is good, since that means I only have one thing to avoid. Well – that and black olives.


I was in a way cranky mood earlier today – there was no reason for it, but I just wanted to pout and sulk and blow a giant raspberry at the world. BLEAH to you and the horse you rode in on. And I was in no mood to do anything about it, either. So there.

But then a series of unlikely events prompted me to start listening to the Berlioz Te Deum – a Seattle choir I was in performed it in November 2001, and I have a recording of the performance. With the opening chords I felt my mood shift dramatically, and the silvery second movement (“Tibi omnes”) gave me chills, just like it used to. I was not at all expecting this to happen and I’ve not experienced such a marked and unlooked-for change in mood just from listening to music before. I’m certainly glad it happened, though, both for my sake and for those who would have otherwise had to deal with a cranky Fishies (which affords, I’ve been told, precious little amusement).

Curried apple soup

(I got this recipe from my roommate, who received it from a friend of hers.)

(Yes, it really is this good.)

I’d like to bear my testimony of the soup:




It is all things wonderful and delicious; it is all things nutritious and pleasant to the taste. Its texture is invigorating and its spiciness delectable; its mashed-by-hand preparation bears witness of the love in every spoonful. Such an exhilarating blend of curry and ginger and apple has never graced the world before. Thank the heavens that we have the good fortune to live in these wondrous and splendid times.

All a-quiver with populist rage

(The subject line is the way I described myself to the friend who introduced me to this gem. Really, I’m not all a-quiver with anything. But it’s fun to pretend I am.)

(Sorry, Grandma.)

(And yes, I’m going to keep driving my MINI, even if I have to pay for a Chevrolet.)

Oi maamme Suomi

So my dear friend ttj told me when he met me two years ago that I should be an honorary Finn – a) I’m an introvert, b) I LOVE salmiakki, and c) I’m a cold weather fiend. I’ve been waiting ever since then for the honor to be made official, making sure that my Finnish friends knew I expected a ceremony appropriate to the occasion and doing everything in my power to merit such recognition. I spent the next twenty-three months singing Finnish Christmas songs about bells and/or frolicking forest animals and/or ill-fated swine (frequently at the top of my lungs and while driving at high speeds), visiting Finland (though unfortunately only for a week instead of twenty-three months), frequenting the sauna (see last post), and learning useful Finnish phrases (“You have beautiful blue/green/brown eyes,” “Shut up and kiss me,” “Am I under arrest?” and “What’s your problem?” and “I wonder if I should run around aimlessly” [this last sentiment is expressed in just one ultra-efficient Suomi word {juoksentelisinkohan!}]). I memorized the national anthem and made Finnish täytekakku and attended HBS lectures given by former Finnish prime ministers. I even thought about buying a Nokia cell phone, but couldn’t find one I liked.

So all that hard work finally paid off. Last month akk and ttj, clad in vests and adornéd with newsboy caps, presented two of their former roommates and me with official certificates proclaiming our official status as official Honorary Finns. The certificates bear the signatures of TTJ, Grand Master of the Order of the Lion, and AKK, Grand Master of the Order of the Rose. The certificates also bear the signature of Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland, whose signature resembles ttj’s rather closely, but I’m told that’s just a coincidence. The real and honorary Finns then sang “Finlandia” in four-part harmony and embraced in a group hug (this last at the behest of the honorary Finns – supisuomalainen would never instigate such a show of emotion).

Here we are receiving our high honors:




The text of the certificate (which I’ve framed and proudly display in my room):



This certifies that


has been shown to possess a natural affinity to all things Finnish. Through prolonged association with representatives of our Nordic nation, the recipient has mastered the refined customs and nuanced social mores of our reindeer herding and bear hunting ancestors and has demonstrated the same by successful sharing of lodgings with several Finns. The recipient is thus awarded the status of an

Given this 15th day of February, 2009



Contented sigh with a warm smile.

Now, on to the next dream…

Love that icy water

So I’ve developed a bit of an infatuation with cold water lately. I loved the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day in 2008 so much that I arranged my travel plans around the Polar Bear Plunge for 2009:

See all that white stuff on the beach? That ain’t frosting, my friends.

In addition to enjoying the frigid waters of the Atlantic in January, I began frequenting the Finnish sauna here in the Boston area about three and a half years ago, having an especially good time when the water was really starting to get cold in late October (the sauna is only open part of the year). So when the sauna announced that it would be open for one day in February, I was thrilled and delighted and looked forward with great anticipation to the opportunity to immerse myself once again in water only a few degrees above freezing. I thought it would be pretty freaking cool.

And: It. Was. AWESOME.

A whole bunch of us went and we made sure to document the experience – it’s always nice to have visual proof to reinforce one’s bragging rights. Here are all of us girls on the ice:

And me, after my first dunk (notice that my hair is soaking wet, because I went ALL the way under):

And the girls plus the guys – here I am standing between my favorite Finns:


The sauna was open again last weekend, so we made another trip. Unfortunately the lake was no longer covered in ice, but the water was still deliciously and breathtakingly cold. I really wish I lived next to a lake so I could do this at will all winter. Someday, maybe.

Graduating – sort of

(With parenthetical clarifications for the non-Mormons [both of them!] who read my weblog.)

So a couple of years ago I realized I was growing rather tired of attending a singles ward (congregation for non-married [fairly] young adults) and began to contemplate attending a family ward (congregation for, well, normal people, who manage to get themselves permanently married before the advanced age of 33) instead. Switching to the Cambridge ward never felt quite right to me, though, and so I’ve remained in the singles ward, looking around every once in a while and wondering if there was a better option*.

Thanks to C-t-P, I’ve found it. She asked me to sing in the Spanish branch (small congregation) a week and a half ago, and I was happy to comply. I was surprised to find that I understood much more than I thought I would – my comprehension when the gospel is the subject matter is generally about 90%, depending on the accent of the speaker – and since C-t-P had kind of floated the idea of my becoming a member of the branch, well, I’ve decided to go for it. It’ll be a great way for me to improve my Spanish, meet new people, help out (they need musicians somewhat desperately), and – most importantly – get the he[ck] out of the singles ward. (I won’t be “graduating,” as that’s accomplished through matrimony. But I can see it as earning an associate’s degree, perhaps.)

Oh, and the Spanish branch meetings start at 1:00 PM. No more getting up early and zombieing my way through church and associated socializing!

*Mormon congregations are geographically based; members go to the ward whose boundaries they reside in (rather than to the ward their friends reside in, in some cases). In areas that have singles wards, unmarried folks have the option of attending the singles wards. And in areas that have language wards, everyone who speaks that language has the option of attending those units. But in areas that have neither, folks go to their assigned ward.