Saturday, February 27, 2010

Color Me Pumped

What do you get when you cross hide-and-seek with MAC cosmetics?  An eight-year-old.  Today we celebrated Elin's birthday.  First, I did her makeup, then we chased each other through the house, then we ate cake and cinnamon rolls and then she opened presents, one of which was a [picture of the soon-to-be-delivered] TRAMPOLINE!!!  And then it felt like my birthday. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Glam Squad

My friend Sepideh (the one with the blue blazer who looks exactly like Audrey Tautou) is having a birthday soon so she invited some friends and classmates to join her for lunch in Östermalm today.  We all met at the subway station and then the seven of us, plus one baby in a stroller, navigated our way through the slushy mess that Stockholm was today because, for the first time on months, the temperature was above freezing.  And then we sat for hours and hours and ate Chinese food and drank beers and spoke terrible Swedish terribly loudly.  And then, instead of taking the train, I floated home on a cloud because I love, love, love hanging out with these ladies.   

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Toy

Now we have a PlayStation 3 and the new game Heavy Rain.  Since I'm going to have so much time on my hands in the coming weeks, feel free to hit me up on the cell.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Experience of a Lifetime


My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  Today a student in my class had his birthday and some of our classmates prepared a surprise fika for him.  We are a couple dozen people from all over the planet who have come here for various reasons and who have a myriad of stories and perspectives.  We have our rawness in common, though, so even though most of us barely know each other and can only communicate in our limited Swedish, we feel familiar and affectionate enough to celebrate one another like this.  Naturally, I expected and hoped for my life to change and become enriched by the Swedish people, culture and language, but I never in my wildest dreams imagined the privilege that the diversity and camaraderie of my SFI classmates would prove to be.  I feel incredibly blessed to have this unexpected, invaluable and enjoyable opportunity. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What the Skype is All About

Oh, Skype, where would I be without you?  I daresay, perhaps not in Sweden.  When The Swede came to visit me in Nashville a couple of months after we met, he helped me download and set up this fabulous, free Swedish invention so that we could keep in touch across that great big waterpool called the Atlantic.  Then, when he swept me away to Scandanavia, he helped my mom set it up so that she and I could do the same.  I cannot tell you what a difference it makes to be able to see the face of someone you love on top of hearing their voice and even though it offers less spontaneity than phone calls I absolutely prefer it.  One of the highlights of my week is seeing Mom and Selah, who graciously allowed me to photograph her today, as though they were just on the other side of the table.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The PS3 Was Also Sick

Big surprise, The Swede became deathly ill after stewing overnight on the X2000 from Gothenburg during flu season with hundreds of other travelers and had to stay home from work today.  In the afternoon, after I returned from school, we decided to go to his folk's place so that he could take a bath in their sweet jacuzzi and on the way we swung by Media Markt just to have a look-see at the PS3 he's been lusting after.  Yes, he's upright and indeed he is playing a video game, but make no mistake about it, this man is suffering.  Also, on an entirely unrelated note, on the way home we both saw the northern lights for the first time, fluttering over Rinkeby.  Sorry, but they don't photograph well with the ol' digi.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Current Events

Today feels like a good day to tell you about Text TV.  Swedish television has several channels way up in the 100-800's that provide breaking information on international and local news, weather, economics, sports, etc. and are apparently generated by MS DOS.  I'd never seen anything like it before I came here, and that's because there was some technological drama in the states between Closed Captioning and the teletext decoders and CC won.  Also, the internet came out so America was like, "whatever, Text TV, I'll just Google it."  The Swede uses it all the time, though, and today he happened to be on it.  You see, yesterday he got on a train in Gothenburg at 1:30 pm for a trip that should have taken three hours but because of a terrible snowstorm took SEVENTEEN HOURS.  Today on the Text TV news we learned that 2,500 people were stuck out in the wild overnight on several trains without food or water and The Swede's train specifically was mentioned in this article.  Yeah.  He's famous.  And yes, that's an R2-D2 figurine on our TV stand.  Try not to be too jealous.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In My Book

Have I told you about my book?  Okay, not my book.  I didn't write it, though I fully expect publishers to start calling any day with offers to put my best blog posts into print, Carrie Bradshaw style.  No, this is just a book I'm reading right now in English which I purchased recently from a bookshop in the mall.  I read in English on the internet all the time but I've read all of the newspapers, magazines, school books or anything else one can hold in one's hand in Swedish for the past seven months so holding this novel in front of me and flipping its pages whilst easily comprehending the text is pretty special these days.  

Friday, February 19, 2010

Diversification for the Ol' Palate

One of the many perks of having foreign friends is their knowledge of where to find the best food from their homelands.  I met Yasmin from Iran and Nastia from Russia in Swedish class and when these exotic ladies and I decided to meet for lunch today I took the opportunity to find out what Iranian cuisine is like.  We went to Kista Galleria, the usual, because it has the best food court of all time with a spectacular variety of counters, and got baghali polo, kebab and rice at Saffran.  Dang, it was good and so was the conversation. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Listen, dudes.  I woke up at noon, my tummy hurts and the sun is setting.  I haven't taken any pictures because I haven't done anything worth photographing.  Sorry about that.  Are we still on for tomorrow?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get That Sky a Band-Aid

I took the train to Kista today to have lunch with my friend Isa from Gothenburg who was in town for work and completely forgot to take a picture of her to plaster all over the internet.  Well, all over Daily Damara anyway.  So I headed home with my head hung in shame, feeling like the worst blogger of all time.  But, actually, my head wasn't literally hanging otherwise I wouldn't have taken note of this, Sweden's second-tallest building and Scandanavia's tallest office building, the Kista Science Tower.  It has 30 floors above ground and because it protrudes well above the rest of the skyline it is considered a skyscraper.  I kind of like that there aren't many tall buildings around here, but this little guy looks pretty lonely, eh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday Indeed

It is another religious quasi-holiday in Sweden and while the nine-to-fivers didn't get the day off for a change, the nation celebrated with - brace yourself for this shocker - a special pastry.  It is a good thing to be in this multicultural relationship, if for no other reason than after the American pancake dinner comes the Swedish semla dessert.

Monday, February 15, 2010

You're Never Gonna Be Jell-O

Charlotte Kalla, an athlete whose every move The Swede follows, the mention of whose past feats can bring this grown man to tears, has just won Olympic gold in the 10k Crosscountry Freestyle.  Whatever, Charlotte Kalla.  You win.  He has you on a pedestal and me in his arms.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry You Smell Like Fish

The Swede and I woke up early this Valentine's Day morning and bundled up for a romantic day of ice fishing.  Papa Swede's fishing club was hosting a major competition on the great Lake Mälaren and meanwhile thousands of skaters from various countries glided by on the 80 kilometer race route from Uppsala to Stockholm in the Vikingarännet.  It was peaceful and serene and, yeah, I'm gonna say it, cold as hell.  But doing something you've never had the opportunity to do before you met your Swedish love is a mighty fine way to spend this holiday, if you ask me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baby Gaga

The family got together to celebrate little Julia's second birthday last night.  After a lengthy present-opening session which revealed a keyboard complete with a turntable and microphone, Julia treated us to a performance.  Give it a couple of decades and she'll surely be the next big thing.  I just hope she elects to embrace pants

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Cool... He's Worth the Trouble

Oh, Migrationsverket.  What can I say, really?  I walked forty minutes each way to get to you twice this week and once I made it through the queue I was told that I should complete my permit extension through the mail even though I had everything I needed right there with me.  Furthermore, your payment method is entirely unclear to me which leads me to believe it's jacked since I'm basically a genius.  And yet, you let me live here in the first place so you kind of deserve a big hug.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beautifying the Blog

I daresay, I am a chic magnet.  Somehow I have managed to get in with the most beautiful women in Sweden.  Between Sarianne, Petra and my classmates in this photo, the young ladies in my life are most certainly making me look better. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sharing the Gold

When we first saw the commercial we laughed.  Eighteen McNuggets?  It's too much!  Then we reconsidered.  Then we made a plan.  And tonight we followed through with the plan.  With great success, I might add.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Everybody Had Better Just Step Aside When My Snowmobile Gets Out of the Shop

I'm getting used to being one-upped on the coolness scale by Swedes day in and day out, but this is just too much.  Here I am, strolling alongside the lake on my way to the immigration office (more on that later this week as I must return on a day when I am available to set up a tent the night before to get a good spot in line), thinking all along that I was doing an efficient job of getting where I was going, when this varmint glides by me on the lake with his cross-countries.  And then a woman on ice skates pushing a stroller across the lake cruises by at a million miles an hour like it ain't no thang.  Whatever.  We have an Audi.  I just chose not to drive it today. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

As the premier of Melodifestivalen 2010 came on our television set last night, I looked out our window and confirmed that the neighbors whose sets we can see from our apartment were also watching Sweden's most popular program, the contest whose winner will go on to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.  We settled in with our Schlagerchips, named for the style of music that most often wins the competition*, and logged into MSN chat so that we could keep in touch with the rest of The Swede's family as we watched.  It was a breathtaking, life-changing, toe-tapping explosion of pop music and I cannot wait until next week!

* I asked The Swede to describe what, precisely, schlager is for my non-Swedish readers (and, frankly, for myself) and he answered, "Schlager is schlager."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hare-Core Gnagare

Because we're pretty much the best fans AIK has, The Swede and I trekked across town through the cold and snow to see the team's first game of 2010.  It wasn't a regular season game, the opponent was actually from a lower division and it was played on a training field, but that didn't stop the fans from coming out in the freezing temperatures to show their support.  It was a good game.  Well, what we saw of it anyway.  We only made it until halftime before our fingers and toes told us that we had done our duty and it was time to head home.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Didn't Come Here in a Flying Saucer

Every once in a while we catch this program on television here about US customs and border control.  As I'm sure is obvious, it's about the various threats that the border control professionals protect America from, such as drugs, terrorists, banned agricultural items and, of course, illegal immigrants.  Illegals are frequently referred to as aliens on the program, which The Swede thinks is hilarious, I assume because the aliens he's familiar with are of the E.T. variety.  Regardless, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this at my immigrant school classroom today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Following the Light

I never knew how magical my neighborhood really was until I saw it coming through the park after sundown.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Citizen Canine

Um, excuse me, but why is this dog in the mall?  I see folks walking around with pooches in stores all the time here and I'm not talking about guide dogs, I'm talking about man's best nonessential friend.  I see them on the train too!  Where are they going?  Is it because so few people have yards here yet they want their doggies to get out and about?  To the mall?  Sure, we have places where pets can wander the aisles just like us two-legged souls in America too.  They're called pet stores.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bailamos

video
Today in SFI we studied the text of a Swedish song about dancing the tango called Fritiof och Carmencita. Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure my SFI class is the only one in all of Sweden where one of the students is a professional dancer, so naturally our teacher Pirkko urged Juan Carlos from Cuba to show us a couple of moves while she played Fritiof och Carmencita over the stereo. But, as we all know, it takes two to tango so Juan Carlos required a partner. I figured I had better unite our two motherlands, if not politically, then through the art of dance.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Score

That's right:  I made the family wall at The Swede's folk's.  I even got my own, exclusive frame.  This charm is unstoppable.