Friday, March 27, 2015

Let it be a dreary Friday

Spring has been cancelled. That's right - winter had so much fun this year, it's decided to continue it's run. For how long? Who knows, it's always a gamble. We can only be patient and hope for the best. 

I for one don't mind this dreary, foggy, wet, cold Friday. It's the kind of cold you can't escape, no matter how many layers you pull on - it gets right in to the bone. It's the kind of cold best watched through a window, next to a roaring fire, or some candles at least. A cup of tea in the morning, a glass of wine in the evening. And wool socks: they are key. 

Ulriksdal Castle this afternoon

I have a distinct memory of running home from school in 2nd grade (8 years old) on a Friday afternoon such as this one. It was the year I wore a specific outfit for each day of the week. Ariel from The Little Mermaid on Mondays, my sunflower shirt on Tuesdays. And my favourite outfit on Friday, complete with purple floral velvet leggings to celebrate the week's ending. 

On that gray Friday, I was so excited to get home and play - not having any homework to do until Sunday night - and as I made the sharp right turn to ascend the stairs to my front door, I slipped on the wet red brick and busted my knee. Lots of tears, and no more purple floral velvet leggings. But it was okay. It was Friday, and all the promises of the weekend awaited. I remember shaking it off and going to play in my room, cozily tucked up in my attic hideaway.

And that is sort of like today. No busted knees (so far). Just some laundry. An excursion even, to see what there is to see through the dense fog. And wool socks - extra thick ones.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Swedish Gone Wrong

At a recent house (or rather, apartment) party, I found myself standing by the door welcoming some new arrivals as they walked in, shedding their winter layers. As one does in small talk, I asked one guy how he knew the host and hostess, to which an answer came out that I didn't really hear. Instead of asking this guy to repeat himself, I just laughed, loudly and overtly, my go-to reaction when I'm not sure what to do. It usually works out.

But not this time.

The guy looked at me like I'd just asked him if I could take a bite off his ear.

Why is that funny? he asked me. I said I went to university with him.

Uhhhhh ..... b a c k a w a y s l o w l y a n d a v o i d s a i d p e r s o n f o r t h e r e s t o f t h e e v e n i n g

awkward door guard

Of course, the problem was my level of Swedish in this - and many other - situations. The hum and blare of a 70-person party doesn't help either. Still, I was disappointed by my level of Swedish. After 4.5 years, I'd hoped to be a Swedish-language master, nearly native. No such luck. Although I have my moments. And I do get complimented a lot for how well I speak this crazy Nordic language. But I still struggle with simple things. Like what did the guy say on the announcement on the metro? And what is that news broadcaster reporting? Aren't news broadcasters supposed to speak clearly? I'm sure they are speaking clearly, but it's still a struggle for me.

I was recently asked by someone how much Swedish I understand, and I answered 90%. That's on a good day. Other days it might only be 50%. I do have relationships with people that are entirely in Swedish - and it feels strange to speak English with them. But with other people, I can't seem to even get into the flow.

Either way, as someone who's terrible with new languages, I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, even if it's taken me awhile to get there. But learning a language never really seems to be over. It's a life-long process, like so many other things, and that's a good thing since I've got some more learning to do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's raining Swedish celebs (sort of)

Can we take a minute to talk about my recent Swedish celebrity sitings? Two in the last month! I know these are minor celebrities in the big scheme of things, but that's besides the point - I spotted them! On my own! And was somewhat star-struck, which I wouldn't have expected for these Swedish celebs. But there's just something special about going through a normal, routine activity, and all of a sudden, you look up and recognize a face that you usually only see through your TV screen. 

Like last week: I was waiting in line at the post office to mail a package. The gentleman in front of me was collecting one, and asked if he could leave the extra packaging to be thrown away. It took me only a second to recognise this man:


His name is Johan Rheborg and in Sweden, he's famous for being one of four main characters on the Swedish TV series, Solsidan. On the show, Mr. Rheborg plays "Fredde", a middle-aged, quirky, very wealthy man with a severely receding hairline and a gorgeous wife. In real life, I'm sure this role has allotted Mr. Rheborg at least some degree of the wealth his character has; I'm not sure about the wife.
So what did I do? Like a true Swede, I played it cool (sort of), aka did my best not to appear that I was even ever-so-slightly looking. Everyone else in line behind me just went about being as normal as possible while Rheborg unpacked his things and stashed away what looked like a few bottles of specialty shampoo. (Which I'm sure no one else even noticed because they weren't looking.) I couldn't help not glancing over at least every few seconds. 

My other Swedish celebrity siting was a few weeks ago. NS and I were walking along a snowy sidewalk when I spotted this woman:


crossing the street ahead of us. Judging from this photo, she's hard to miss, but on said day, her hair was in a tight bun and she was bundled beneath bulky winter outerwear. Her name is Jessika Gedin and she hosts a Swedish program called Babel on which she interviews various authors about their books. I've not actually seen a full episode, and don't know many Swedes who have, but I was proud to have recognized her. Oddly enough, I saw her a second time the very next day passing outside my apartment. Stockholm really is a small city. 

In both cases, no words were exchanged, no autographs requested, no photos taken to document these chance meetings. It's just not the way celebrities are approached here. Whether a top idol or an aged star, Swedes will not do anything to intrude on their bubble .... that is, unless they've had a drink or two. Then all bets are off. 

I will say that, proof or no proof, I do feel a bit more ingrained in Swedish society now ... but will probably never be able to keep myself from glancing over at any celebrity I spot at least a few times.