Keeping It Real
It’s snowing just a bit too much for me these days. Shocking. How many times can I complain about snow? It’s not surprising that it’s cold and snowy here…it’s just a bit much compared to last year (our first experience). Even the Swedes say this is unusual for it to snow this much/this late. Last week it snowed after days of sunshine (that I could swear promised spring was coming) and this week it started up again. Bummer.
Although, it is really pretty when the snow is falling. Luckily, I don’t have to go outside much and I do have a ton of work to do inside, so I’ll accept it for now, but not much longer.
Things I have a hard time accepting about the snow are:
1. The ice that forms after the snow falls. Big pregnant lady walking hyper hounds over ice doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
2. Speaking of big, layering up for the colder temps is getting harder and harder, and not really happening anymore. Poor Matt, he’s been such a great husband taking the dogs out by himself multiple times a day (this is no easy nor enjoyable feat for anyone). Being cooped up inside isn’t much fun, though.
3. I can’t fly away. We’ve passed the point in this gestation where I can fly comfortably and without worry, therefore there are absolutely no southern-destination mini-vacations happening. (Wah wah, right?! This one is mostly a joke.)
Plus side: the days are getting longer and the snow really does make everything bright out, even in the middle of the night…I love both of those things. The sun being out melts off a lot of the snow, too, even in sub-freezing temps, hooray!
On the days that I do my best to gear up and waddle around town with the dogs, we notice more people with little kids gravitate towards us. I mean, the dogs are adorable, so little boys – especially – stop, stare, and smile at them, and parents/grandparents will usually stop and ask their kids if they want to pet the dogs (I wonder if they do this more now because I have a belly?). The reason I mention this is because (get excited!) we can understand what they’re saying (in Swedish obviously)!
We just can’t figure out how to respond properly…other than smiling (giggling for me, I’m mush around little boys these days) and a simple, “Ja!”
It’s such a nice thing to be able to understand what people are saying to and around us. The difficult part is not being able to properly respond back, either because it’s hard to think of the words to say so quickly, or because we don’t know the words that we want to say back. There are those awful times when we just smile and nod and feel stupid, or when we still go, “Sorry, we don’t speak much Swedish yet.” Talking with Matt, I wanted to ask, “What would be a good thing to say to someone in these situations?” but I realized that’s kind of dumb, because in a reverse situation, if someone didn’t speak a lot of English but knew what we were saying, we’d understand and laugh it off. It’s just weird being that person who can’t respond.
We’re also able to distinguish between different Swedish accents. I can’t explain this very well, but there is a more throaty and rolling (?) Swedish, different from the nasally (?) that we hear more often. In any case, when/if I can ever speak Swedish, I want the former. A girl can dream.
Hopefully, by the time we leave we’ll finally be able to make small talk and such. You know this is why we’re having a kid here, right? To have them learn the language and speak for us, yeah? 😉
In other news, the Swedish Krona is continuing to strengthen against the dollar. This is depressing because that means things here are more expensive for us. Well, the stronger SEK, and the fact that prices seem to be going up in a lot of places anyway. When we moved here, the currency exchange was $1 = 7:- and now it’s more like $1 = 6.4:-. That’s fairly significant, and it also throws off the easy 100:-/$15 price comparison. I’m lazy and don’t want to process new math, haha.
Despite this changing currency conversion, Swedish goods just are more expensive anyway. We know this well by now; however, it doesn’t stop us from thinking something is inexpensive – because it might be compared to other Swedish prices – but then realizing…oh wait, that’s still $40 for a fleece blanket, or $60 for a high chair. ops.
I’ve noticed more lately (it comes in waves every so often) everyone (bloggers) outside of Sweden likes to praise the Swedish for their interior design, fashion/style, parental benefits, child-raising benefits, etc. I’ve read, “The Swedes can do no wrong!” many times recently. I, too, have always had, and still do have, an immense amount of appreciation for Swedish aesthetics and social care, so I know where people are coming from and do agree…
BUT, I think it’s funny, because like anywhere else, Sweden isn’t perfect. You see, there’s jantelagen, or Jante Law, that’s essentially the social attitude that you aren’t hot stuff (people don’t celebrate an individual’s accomplishments as much as a group’s); however, I swear to God there is always this underlying attitude with Swedes, like they just know they are hot stuff and that everyone loves them, and they’re just fine with the world thinking so. Individuals too; people are pretty here and act like they know it, albeit subtly. They’ll never say it, but they sure wont deny it either. Most of the time it’s funny and kind of makes you shake your head and laugh. And, look, I see this attitude in myself, so I’m not judging here (no hatin’!). I think it’s a funny quirk – but hey, when they’ve got it all going on, can you blame them? (Answer: not really. Do you sometimes want to roll your eyes: yes.)
Anyway, just cultural observations… I tend to think about this stuff way too much, but casually analyzing sociology is my only way of processing my surroundings. Honestly, I’m just super happy that I get to live in and decorate a Swedish apartment (!), and enjoy the benefits to having children here (!), and be able to buy great basic clothes that will forever be in style. Dude, in less than a block from my front door, I can buy Swedish Hasbeens, Polarn O. Pyret, Fjällräven, and house goods that would blow Americans-obsessed-with-Scandi-design‘s minds. It’s pretty cool – not that I actually need/can afford anything…but I did indulge in my version of a designer bag after months of saving:
I’ve wanted to listen to country music more and more lately. I equate this with the ranch dressing thing – you never, ever know what random things you’ll miss until they just aren’t readily available. Ranch and country music cravings nearly make me question my entire being, but thank god for Spotify in needy times like these.
One last thing: We’re finding a groove here, a routine way of living that makes things a lot more comfortable, like we belong. The apartment is really feeling like home and that’s been a really nice realization; to look around and be truly happy in a space because of the living that happens there, it’s great. Matt and I have lived in five different places since meeting, no place for longer than 2 years. To have the newest, fanciest place actually feel less like a luxury hotel suite and more like a place for our family makes me smile. We don’t need or want luxury, we crave home. I guess we’re on the right track with that.
The secret to this might be fresh flowers and slowly acquired house accessories, or it might
definitely be the muddy dog prints in the entry way and dead twigs that used to be flowers and herbs that we have yet to clear off the porch (because they’re still covered in snow)…