Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Pluck

Ryan again. The rain has come to Stockholm (though we expect the Mediterranean heat to arrive tomorrow) and with it relief from incessant sneezing. After Sunday's beautiful journey through the Stockholm archipelago, and having had a taste of Stockholm itself, on Monday we headed to Uppsala to meet with world-class swordsmith Peter Johnsson, whose expert recreations of archeological finds can be found at Albion Swords (

Uppsala has been called the Swedish Oxford, and in a past age was an important Scandinavian spiritual site (that is, folks tended to be sacrificed every nine years). These days it's pretty much what you'd expect in a university town, except that a central cathedral dominates the landscape. We bought a bottle of cloudberry preserves from a young lad at a stand just outside the cathedral (the one in Roskilde is more impressive), stopped in at the local tourist office, and then caught the Number 6 to Eriksberg, a suburb 20 minutes away.

We disembarked at our stop and quickly located the apartment complex where we believed the master to live. We prevailed upon a middle-aged gentleman trying to stuff a series of wooden chairs into his characteristically small European car to help us make sense of the address and get in the correct building (with no concern for security). We mounted the steps to the fourth floor and found the door. I rang the bell.

No answer.

I rang it again.

Nothing. And so the journey of 4,000 miles was met with silence. The door was closed. Why, I do not know. True, the agreement I had with Peter was somewhat loose and had been made months ago. Subsequent inquiries had not been acknowledged, and I had learned through a third party that he and his wife had recently had a child. I'm sure he had his reasons.

Still, it was disappointing. And yet, waiting for the bus back to Uppsala (and all the while scanning passersby for someone who might be good with hammer and tongs), my thoughts returned our discussion with the Norwegian couple Sunday night.

Kjell had asked me what about Americans I liked best -- this after Jenifer and I had shared at length our discontent with much of American culture. After some thought, we hit upon the word "pluck." Kjell and Rita ran this word through several Nordic languages and determined that an equivalent term was "guts." That worked for us. Forging ahead without worrying overmuch about consequences, dashing in without proper preparation, a reliance on cleverness, and a certain bravado. Persistence. This was our definition of pluck, and it seemed to fit my approach with Peter.

I had taken the matter as far as I could -- short of waiting outside the door. I had gone, as McKee would say, "to the end of the line." Perhaps further down the road Peter and I would meet. Or perhaps an aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker would approach me for help with his project. Would I listen?

On Tuesday we found greater tangible success, primarily in the form of rewarding visits to the Historical Museum and the Nordic Museum. The former especially was a treasure trove, with the thousands of artifacts in the Viking and pre-history exhibits reminding us just how sophisticated a people the Norse were a thousand years ago.

But more on that later. It's late, and it's time to get some rest before the sun stays up.

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Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I hope your incessant sneezing stops soon, so you can thoroughly enjoy the remainder of your trip.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Adam Gross said...

October says hi, guys - I'll give him a hug for you tonight. :) A

7:20 PM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

Thanks, Adam! We miss the bunny!

Tom, I've retired from the sneezing business and am looking to transition to another, more profitable condition.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I have an important messages from our friends in the east:


friendship make a hapiness double times and divide sadness half and make us remove our unhappiness."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Llllooooovvveee those swedens. Any culuture where human scarifices made a site holy is pretty cool with me.

Kinda makes people's complaints about the religion right seem a bit hollow, huh?

Andrew aka GreenJello, Terror of the Highways

10:23 PM  
Blogger akadman said...

Have you seen any trolls yet? I thought one of them there European countries are into trolls and all things troll-ish? LOL

Shots eh? At least it was schnapps and not scotch ROFL.

More to come later...just early morning rambelings.....
Glad your having a great time!

I pinch....

7:13 AM  

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