Everyone asks me about my name. It all started years before I was born. You see, my father promised his best friend that they would name their first boys after each other. But, by the time I was a bump in my mom's belly, they already had two girls. My mom declared "this is the last one...the name is promised whether it's a boy or girl." And she kept her threat word. So here I am, Michael Suzanne. My family and close friends call me 'Mike'.

Living life with a man's name has been full of highlights. I always got letters to play football when I was in school. Mom even called one summer to try to sign me up - then she told them I was a girl. That was the end of that. I got my notice to register for the U.S. military draft when I turned 18 - something only required of boys at the time. And when I went to university, I got a letter inviting me to consider joining a fraternity house. It was never easy when I dated guys named 'Mike' - yes, that happened - and I regularly stump people calling on the telephone when they ask for Mike or Michael and I reply "This is she."  It also works wonders with telemarketers when I tell them "HE'S not home." My Swedish hubby got a kick out of his friend's reactions when he first told them he'd started dating someone...named Mike.

Best of all? I received the compliment of my life because of my name. I was once told that no other woman could carry off the name like I had. That's the one I carry with me for life.

I'm American, but I now live in Sweden as a 'love immigrant' and expat transplant. I moved here to be with my (now) Swedish husband after we met on the platform at a train station while I was traveling - there's a post topic if I ever heard one! We have two fab kids, and my experiences of trying to making my own way here over the past decade are enough to fill many different kinds of blogs! The 'life stories' will be here on The Accidental Swede. Culture shock? Check!

I also have another blog that is home to my creative alter ego - Blue Velvet Chair. It's a celebration of creative genius in all its many forms, with a special focus on recycled, repurposed, and reloved creations.

The blue velvet chair is real (you'll even see it pop up in posts now and then, so keep your eyes open). It has come to symbolize my obsession and geniune appreciation of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Or taking the expected and making it unexpected. When I found the chair at a garage sale in Arizona, some other creative soul had already recovered it with the most brilliant blue velvet...leaving the wooden gustavian-style frame as it was. It was bold...and it was mine! Entire rooms were designed around this chair. I had to leave it behind when I moved here to Sweden, but after 10 years we are finally reunited. And at the risk of sounding extremely off my rocker, the reconnection with 'my previous self' is truly what inspired me to start blogging.

I hope your life has a blue velvet chair, too!