Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Swedish Thanksgiving Eulogy to Poseidon

Poseidon passed on yesterday. He was 14 months and 3 days old. That’s just a guess. It was somewhat of an unexpected passing. He had survived six weeks in a bathtub full of tepid fish- poop infested water. I thought he could handle anything. But I was wrong. Because now he is gone.

As I mentioned, it’s been very cold in my apartment lately. And Poseidon is a Beta. A somewhat tropical fish who prefers warmer climates. So he’s been a bit sluggish as of late. Considering I have been walking around in a vest and a beanie inside I can’t really blame him. But every time I walked by he would flare up daring me to challenge him in what was clearly his domain. And every night he would be more than willing to eat. But yesterday morning was different. He wasn’t paying me any attention. I felt his water. It was damn cold. I decided it was time to change it and also move his bowl to the kitchen where it was just a bit warmer.

So I began the process of changing his water. I put Poseidon in the clear measuring cup as I always do. He waited patiently, as he always does. I scrubbed his bowl, rinsed his rocks, cleaned his plastic plant, filled and de-chlorinated the water, being sure to make it a bit warmer. I wanted him to have a comfy return to his bowl. I was careful not to make the water really hot; I know fish can go into shock.

When everything was ready I placed him back into his very full bowl of water. And he freaked out. Maybe the warmer water reinvigorated him. Maybe it was too hot and put him into shock, but Poseidon was tearing around his bowl. And suddenly, he jumped out. Landing with a thud on the counter Poseidon just lay there. There was no flopping about. No fighting for breath. He seemed resigned to his place on the counter.

I quickly scooped him back into the measuring cup and dumped him into his bowl. He sunk to the bottom with a slight flapping of his fins. I tried to rejuvenate him. But it was no use. Poseidon was floating vertically. His head staring down at his bright red rocks. His tail swaying helplessly in the upper echelons of the bowl. I didn’t want to admit the inevitable to myself. I left him like that for the remainder of the day. Hoping. For what… I don’t really know. But Poseidon was dead.

I’m not sure what happened. Maybe he was already dying. Maybe the warm water did send him into shock. Or maybe he broke something when he jumped out of his bowl and landed so violently on the counter. It almost seems that way. I have never seen a fish so resigned to being out of the water. It was as if he had been paralyzed.

Poseidon and I had some good times. Like when I saved him from the aforementioned bathtub after six weeks. Or how every night I would tap his glass and show him the bright yellow fish food container and he would swim eagerly to the top of his bowl awaiting the delicious morsels. He would violently lunge at the food as if he was reliving better days in the wild. But those days are over now. Instead today, my third Thanksgiving in a row away from the US, I am faced with an empty fish bowl where once swam the majestic Beta. Poseidon. God of the sea.

Welcome to Sweden. And farewell to Poseidon.

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  1. sorry about your fish! listen, i'm going to stockholm in a few weeks with my american friend and his norwegian fiance; have any cool places to recommend? i'm particularly interested in architecture and design/textiles/interior design. hope all goes well for you - happy thanksgiving.

  2. Thanks… it was a bit of a bummer. But so it goes with fish I suppose. Especially tropical fish living in Sweden.

    When exactly are you going to be in Stockholm?

    For the architecture I would definitely suggest walking through Gamla Stan. Old Town. It’s old and extremely well-preserved.

    The castle, while I don’t really like it, is supposed to be some sort of baroque architectural structure. I’m just still bitter that the castle in Stockholm doesn’t have any towers. It is also in Gamla Stan actually.

    Really just wandering through Stockholm will reveal some pretty cool architectural structures. Theres Stadshuset, City Hall, theres a few pretty cool churches, like Riddarkyrkan. Dramaten, the Royal Dramatic Theater, which a lot of people describe as somewhat tacky but that’s your call.

    Also Hammarby Sjöstad is supposed to be pretty cool for the architecture folks. Its focused on green living and I believe was built either in or around a former industrial area. and actually, without knowing much about architecture, is pretty interesting even for me.

    For design stuff there are a few stores I would recommend. DesignTorget of course. It is glorious. There are a few of them throughout town but I would suggest the one at Sergelstorg which is in the same building as Kulturhuset.

    Svenskt tenn is another one. There are a couple of other stores around östermalm but I am completely blanking on their names right now. Plenty of design stores, interior design stores, furniture stores that are pretty good.

    As cliché as it might sound, IKEA is always an adventure, and an interesting look into Swedish design that has gone global.

    Textiles, being a huge history nerd I think of old style historical textiles. And the history museum has quite a few of that. It’s not really my thing but it’s a pretty decent sized exhibition.

    Moderna museet, the Modern Art Museum ( has a couple of different exhibitions right now plus your classic modern art. One of the temporary exhibitions right now is art from LA in the 50s and 60s.

    I believe there is an architectural museum right next to moderna but Ive never been there.

    Nationalmuseum, the National Art Museum (, has an exhibition right now called lura ögat, trick the eye, which is supposed to be glorious. I intend to go see it but have yet to do so.

    Hopefully that helps a little bit. Shoot me an email if you want, I know someone who is an architect so could definitely ask him if there are any must see architectural structures for those who know a little bit about it.

    p.s. I most definitely did not. I held a short memorial over my toilet. And away he went. To the big ocean in the sky. Or the sewer at least.

  3. Hey both of yous!

    We should get together and have a beer soon Marc. Next week maybe?

    thatramongirl: if you're lucky the art schools of stockholm will have their cristmas bazar when you're here. great original shopping and design! as for architecture hairy had som good advises. i could add a few via email, don't have time right now.


    How can anyone be so sick, that they leave a poor fish IN A BATHTUB!!!
    I'll report you to Djurrättsalliansen, and they'll hopefully judge you.

  5. The ideal temperature for a beta is around 26°C and the lowest temperature they can survive in is 24°C, so if the water gets colder then 24°C the fish will die. So I guess it died becaus of the cold water.

  6. @jonas – definitely. Give me a call.

    @xenolyse – you do that. Send peta after me too.

    Some people in this country are absolutely ridiculous sometimes.

    @anonymous – yeah… I kind of figured the cold water wasn’t doing him well. Hence the idea to move him to a warmer spot with warmer water. But it was apparently too late.

  7. Is that asshole serious about the djurrättsalliansen? What a jerk.

    I just stopped by to say Happy Thanksgiving, although it is over for you. I'm still in a food coma, and with meat sweats pilled on for good measure.

    I thought all day about that thanksgiving with you, me, kathryn, jeremy, and erin. Two turkeys? Really? Man we must have been homesick. Was that the night we did butter shots, and Erin and I made all of you uncomfortable?

    I hope your day was alright so far away from Nancy's home cooking.

    Simma lungt Poseidon. R.I.P.

  8. Poor thing. I experienced a childhood trauma when one Sunday night we returned home after spending the weekend away and found all the fish in the bowl dead because of the cold. The temperatures went very low, the central heating worked poorlyand while we were away noone could turn on the special heater for the fish bowl. I never had any fish since then.

  9. @the good dr. - seriously. Id love to see that. You think the American Embassy would help me out if I claimed us citizenship and needed defense for keeping a fish in a bathtub for 6 weeks while I was away in the US?

    You are a lucky man. The meat sweats sound very appealing. We did go all out back in the day didn’t we… two turkeys. And we destroyed them. And that damn fruit salad that Jeremy and I made that basically turned into cement. Id like to think Ive come a long way in my cooking skills but Im just not so sure.

    Enjoy the rest of your thanksgiving weekend buddy.

    @costa – yeah its no fun when a pet dies. Even if it is just a fish. But I was legitimately bummed out by his death. But fish are tricky. They seem like they are so easy… but they are fickle little things.

  10. What I don't get it, is that people call animals 'him' and 'her', like you did. I was taught that animals were 'it', and that wouldn't make them lesser of animals. Calling them 'him' won't make them humans, maybe animals didn't wish to be called like humans, who knows, LOL!

  11. I'm so sorry about Poisiden. That is very sad. Your little buddy had been thru a lot with you. I know he will be missed.

  12. Ey, Smek this. You dont need to be a human to have a gender...

  13. @smek - well they still have a gender. granted some animals its tough to tell but betas are easy becase its the males that have the fancy look to them and get aggressive and territorial.

    @anonymous - its true. he will be missed.

    @anonymous - indeed.