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Published June 26 2011

Swift: The German-Russian guide to feelings

I sometimes suspect my parents found me under a cabbage leaf.

It’s the only explanation to how vastly different I am from the rest of my family.

Seriously, if it weren’t for the fact that I share my mother’s fleshy arms and my dad’s big, English teeth, I might believe I was adopted.

For instance, I have spent years poring over self-help books and searching for the deeper meaning of life. My dad’s idea of self-help is when he bought the Popular Mechanics book series on how to wire, plumb and drywall your home.

I am hyper-sensitive and emotional. My whole family comes from the “Just walk off that broken ankle” school of life. They are all about putting on a brave face, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and getting over it.

They are true, stoic descendants of the settlers who were too busy milking the cow to cry if any of that milk spilled. They face all problems with logic, willpower and sheer brute strength.

To them, an unexamined life is well worth living. My sister once told me that psychiatrists “put the ‘fee’ in ‘feelings.’ ”

In fact, I think their tough-love approach could add something entirely new to the self-help genre. Imagine a book called: “Snap Out of It, or I’ll Give You Something to Cry About: An Upper-Midwestern German-Russian Guide to Emotions.”

I’ve already envisioned a few chapter headings:

OK, so maybe this book wouldn’t really “help” someone.

But it might give you something to cry about.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525