Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn’ and Claes in Iowa

When the movie Brooklyn with Saoirse Ronan came out a few years ago, I was immediately curious. Because it was about moving from one country to another. In this case, a young woman leaving her native Ireland for Brooklyn, in the early 1950s.

Could that story have anything in common with my experiences, moving from Sweden to Iowa in the 1970s?

Once I saw the movie, I knew I needed to read the book it is based on: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín . It was a pleasure to discover that in this case the movie closely followed the book.


My new office was in a real medieval castle. With a moat. That you crossed on a bridge to walk under ancient arches into a small courtyard.

It was the kind of location you only dream of and this seemed like the perfect job. I was joining an aspiring production company to create programming for national and international television. Plus plenty of corporate videos.

So how come I walked out across that idyllic moat for the last time just a few months later? Leaving it all behind.

2 words: The Boss.

The guy who owned the company. And considered himself…

Labor Day — a long weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer. From here on, we settle into the regular autumn routines (although this year nothing is regular or routine).

Labor Day is about celebrating workers. Because if nobody worked, we wouldn’t eat, have anywhere to live or have or do much of anything else. In a very real sense, labor makes life possible. (How Labor Day began.)

Unless you’re in some futuristic sci-fi thing where robots do all the work and humans just lounge about all day, every day. But then where’s the purpose of keeping humans around?

We live somewhere while growing up. Learn to refer to it as home. A solid place that is always there. That we keep going back to. We’ll leave for school and work. But always come back.

That’s home.

It’s a place where we can be ourselves. Which may turn out for good or bad. When we go to work or school, out among other people, we’re expected to behave in certain ways to fit in with the larger group. But at home we can relax. Do what we want to do. There’s more freedom to be me.

That might be…

Life in the time of Coronavirus is totally different from anything we ever imagined — even at the beginning of this very year.

Many things that we used to take for granted are no longer part of everyday life. And things we never imagined are.

Everything is in a state of flux. Constant change. Confusion.

Responding to change

We all must figure out how to deal with that discombobulation.

For some people that choice is to try to claw their way back to ‘normal’. As in the way things used to be, before Corona. …

For decades, I put off reading War and Peace. After all, the book is the pinnacle of unreadable books — over half a million words. Plus you just know there is going to be a boatload of characters to keep track of.

So didn’t go there. Just joked about it and kept it on the vague ‘someday’ list. After I’m done with everything else on my bucket list. Maybe.

There are a lot of other giant things in life we approach in the same way. Things like:

  • Big work projects
  • Cleaning the garage to actually get a car in there

Many countries have a day for national celebration. Might be when the country became independent or another major event in its history.

The French celebrate July 14. Because on that day in 1789, in the midst of the French Revolution, the people stormed the most hated prison of them all, the Bastille in Paris.

In Sweden, the National Day is June 6. On this day in 1523, Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden. That ended the Kalmar Union that had bound Denmark, Norway and Sweden together under one Queen or King for over 100 years. Sweden was independent again.

Worst of times? Best of times? Definitely totally confusing. Listen enough to the cacophony of actual news, fake news, rumors, conspiracy theories and anything else flying through the ether, and your head will spin from trying to figure it out.

So many prophesies of doom and gloom. The economy tanking.

Guidelines for how we deal with the pandemic changing almost daily.

When I write this, we’ve recorded over 95,000 dead in the U.S. In a little more than 2 months. Still counting.

But some folks continue to claim this is nothing but the the common cold. No worse than regular…

man and woman in their late 40s close together, looking at each other

The long distance train sped through miles of suburbs towards downtown. Fields and occasional woods that accompanied the railroad earlier on had given way to streets and houses, interspersed with trees, spreading out as far as he could see. The train rushed along, elevated on an embankment, now and then crossing a street on a thundering steel bridge. Down there people were coming and going, doing life like any other day.

For Michael, this was not any other day. To be sure, he was regularly on trains or planes, traveling for work. …

Growing up, I wanted to build a house. Not just the requisite tree house or small play shed. But a real house to live in.

I have no idea where the idea came from.

My parents lived in a house that my dad bought from the original owners, who had it built in the late 1920s. Dad’s approach to anything house related was to call the local plumber, electrician, contractor or handyman. Home repair was just not one of his strong suits.

So clearly didn’t get the idea from him.

The bricklayer built a house

But Sven, my cousin Gertie’s husband, built a house for…

Claes Jonasson

Writer, creative and web designer. Novelist in progress. Perpetually curious about life and living.

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