Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A contradiction in terms

One of my expat friends who has recently split up with his long-term significant other is now trying his hand at internet dating. I've laid low in terms of Internet dating the last few months, mainly because I have my hands full with all of the male contacts generated by this blog, such as the gentleman who called me a bimbo or the "anonymous" male caller who told me to go and jump off a building and subsequently broke my heart by refusing my marriage proposal.

So I signed into the internet dating site in question to see if I could find his profile, because it's always fun to see what people you know say about themselves. I didn't end up finding his profile, but I did run across a guy who was looking for a "woman between the ages of 25 and 33." Nothing strange about that, except further on down the page he described himself as "an easy going gay working and living in Stockholm."

So he's an easy going gay looking for a woman 25-33. He also wrote, "I´m a normal gay. I´m a good lissner if you are kind to me. normal dressing and so on..."

So is he a bad listener if you are not kind?

And is that "normal" dressing as regular dressing, as opposed to "low-fat," like some kind of rasberry vineagrete on the side?

I'm sorry, far be it from me to be critical at someone else's attempt to write in a foreign language. I know that I'm the who asked my hairdresser to make me some cereal instead of highlighting my hair, but some things are just too good to let go.

Since he made the same mistake twice, it's obviously not just a typo. Either he is still trying to figure out his sexual identity (which is great, but a largely heterosexual online dating community may not be the best place to do that) or he simply needs to get a very good English-Swedish dictionary.

I'm voting for the latter.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poor kitty

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If kids are anything like cats,
I've got the feeling I'm going to make a terrible mother.

Don't Blame Me!

To the guy who found this blog by googling "you can't blame a guy for trying," I have one thing to say.

You're right. At least the first time.

I'm also a bit disturbed that someone found me by googling "female curiosity torture." It's not torture, really. It's all in the name of love, I swear.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Frosted flakes

Tony the Tiger

It's about time to get my haircut. Although it's easy enough to hide the damage with a little effort on my part, I'm starting to do a Bengi impression if I don't explicitly try to avoid it. My hair is at that in between stage where it's too long to just leave it hanging, but not quite long enough to entirely pull it back. So once I solve the demagnetized ATM card problem solved, I'll be more than happy to hand a few hundred crowns over to the woman with the magic scissors.

While pouring through the pages of various women's fashion magazines to look for ideas for my new 'do, I was reminded of one of my sillier blunders in the Swedish language. I was stubbornly persistant in my efforts to speak Swedish my first few months here, despite the fact that I couldn't really make myself understood. Having fortified myself by having pre-prepared a speech describing how I wanted my hair cut, I marched into the salon, ready to come out a new woman.

As I sat down in the chair, I remembered that I had forgotten to mention that I wanted to have my hair highlighted in addition to getting a trim. So, quite self-satisfied, I asked the stylist, "Har du tid att göra flingor?"

Unfortunately, instead of asking her if she had time to do highlights, I asked her if she had time to make me some cereal. The Swedish word for cereal is flingor, while the word I really wanted, highlights, is slingor.

That would have been an interesting fashion statement, indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Meet the Neighbors

Cold Feet has certainly had her fair share of adventures after daring to navigate the treacherous Stockholm housing market. But although I have moved around a lot, I have yet to experience much of anything regarding my Swedish neighbors, with the exception of utter anonymity and quite possibly the communal Christmas tree, although I became better aquainted with the tree itself than I did with any of my neighbors, especially after adding my own decoration to his boughs.

That is, until this morning.

At around ten minutes to noon (which is the equivalent of 3 am in the morning, according to my internal clock), there was a loud banging on the door. Still groggy, and not dressed (at all, really), I staggered around the apartment to find my bathrobe, tripping over Ullrick, and nearly landing face first into the couch.

The only reason I answered the door at all was that there was a chance that the Cat Lady was going to deliver a kitten for me to take care of for a few days. Much to my dismay, instead of the Cat Lady and a fluffy kitten, I discovered a surly-looking middle-aged Swedish man standing outside my door.

The man pointed angrily to the bag of trash I had set outside the door. I'm not quite sure exactly what he said, but I got the gist of it. "But, I am sick," I stammered in Swedish, not really wanting to launch into a lengthy discussion of the perils of having a curious kitten who likes to knock over and investigate bags of garbage not to mention the utter strain of having to pick up aforementioned knocked over garbage bag while one is trying to recover from the Mongolian death cold.

"It doesn't matter if you are sick. It's only another ten steps to the garbage chute," came the curt reply.

Once again, pretty sure that both he and I would rather skip the explanation about why the ten steps to the garbage chute really were too far when I was sick, having mainly to do with what I considered to be too big of a hassle to actually bother getting dressed to go those ten steps while I was suffering from the Mongolian death cold, never mind the fact that the majority of the aforementioned "garbage" was actually just plastic containers and newspapers that I actually intended to carry two blocks (as opposed to "just ten steps") to the recycling center.

"I am sick," I repeated, while closing the door, restraining myself from slamming it in his face.

This is an example of what I call passive-aggression suprême. (And yes, that did deserve to be emphasized with an accent circonflexe.) A neighbor whom I have never met, and will likely never see again, deemed a small bag of recyclable materials (that emited NO foul odors, by the way) outside of my door so disturbing that it warranted pounding angrily on my door, after it had been there for less than 12 hours. This is the same type of person who leaves an angry note in the laundry room because the person before them had neglected to clean out the dryer filter (which, by the way, was probably because he/she had already done it once because the person before him/her had neglected to do it, and so on and so forth). Never mind that it takes ten times as long to go back up to your apartment, find the pen and paper, compose the angry note, and then go back down to the laundry room to affix it to the affronting machine then it would have taken to just brush your hand over the damn dryer filter in the first place.

I am sick. Leave me alone.

Curiosa's Guide to Financial Management Part II

1) You can't spend money you don't have. Technically, thanks to Visa and American Express, you can, but this is ill-advised.
2) You can't spend money you can't access. Somehow demagnetize your credit card the Friday before payday so you can't touch the money that has finally been deposited in your bank account. This is particularily frustrating when you know you have money in your account, and its genuine, rather than feigned, surprise when the card doesn't work.
3) Revert temporarily to the tactics suggested in Curiosa's Guide to Financial Management Part I.
4) Continue to post lists on the internet which might get you sympathy cheese, which is particularily tasty with knäckebröd.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sick Take Two

Still sick, but at least I'm well fed. Thanks to Francis S. And they supplied me with a very nice cheese.

Cheese is good.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


So sick. So very very sick.

I want by bommy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


So sleepy. So very very sleepy.

Curiosa's Guide to Financial Management (OR how to survive when you're broke)**

1) Buy non-perishable food at the beginning of the month so that you won't starve when you run out of money at the end of the month. This does not, however, prevent you from being jealous of your cat when you realize that he is eating better than you are.
2) "Borrow" toilet paper from your employer when you run low and can't afford to restock. Consider it a "perk" of the job (along with the free java). If you're not comfortable with that option, see number 6 and take a few extra napkins with your latte.
3) Buy shampoo and conditioner at the beginning of the month, so you don't find yourself reading the label on the bottle of cat shampoo to see if it's safe for humans.
4) When the caffeine withdrawal becomes too much to stand, go to your regular coffee shop and "forget" your wallet. They'll let you pay next time. They know you can't stay away.
5) Advertise your junk on the Internet. You'd be surprised what utter rubbish people will buy, especially those suffering from Packrat Syndrome.
6) Thoroughly clean out every purse and book bag to scrape together enough change to purchase a 9 SEK latte from the coffee shop around the corner.
7) It's time to return the "whatchamacallit" you accidentally purchased at the hardware store instead of the "thingy" that you needed to hang the shelves (which incidentally, never got hung). Find the receipt at the same time you are scouring your bags for loose change. With the 24 crowns you get back, plus the extra crown left over from number 6, you can afford to go back to your favorite cafe and get your daily caffeine fix.
8) Take all of those random foreign currencies to Forex and get back just enough money to buy kitty litter.
9) Finish off the last of the chocolate Mom sent for Christmas. Really, chocolate is an excellent meal replacement. At the very least, you get a temporary high.
10) Take those liter Coke bottles to the grocery store for recycling to get 15 crowns credit that you use to buy knäckebröd.
11) Offer the bottle of 50 proof Estonian liquor that you "accidently aquired" for the equivalent of 15 Swedish crowns in the duty-free section of the Tallinn airport to the neighborhood beggar in exchange for enough change to buy a latte at 7/11.

12) Go on a date with the lawyer from match.se and hope to God he understands the concept of an "American date." If he doesn't offer to pay, hand the waiter your old credit card, which was demagnetized and no longer works, and act utterly shocked when it is "unreadable." Leave your American drivers' license (since you can't use it in this country anyway) as "security" at the restaurant, while you "go around the corner to get cash," and don't go back until two days after payday (three days is better, to thwart suspicion), explaining that you are very, very sorry but you have been out of the country and were unable to make it back before now.

**The above may or may not have actually happened. I shall neither confirm nor deny.
****"Financial management" in this context may be a bit of an oxymoron. One would assume that if one actually possessed skills in "financial management" it would not be necessary for one to be jealous of one's cat's culinary spread at the end of the month.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Curiosa's Guide To Swedes, Swedishness and Travel in Sweden (according to others)

Considering how small of a country it is, there are plenty of books out there that set out to present an expose on Swedes and Swedishness. Here's what I've found:

Culture Shock! Sweden: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette
Charlotte Rosen Svensson

Focuses on Swedish culture and customs rather than just another travel guide to Sweden. (Leave that to the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet). Entertaining and easy to read. A new edition is to come out in June 2006.

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Swedes
Peter Berlin

I picked up this book because I will be going to Sweden this summer and wanted to learn more about the Swedes' foibles and traits. Apart from knowing some Swedes on a business level, I read several books dealing with Swedish history, mentality, and culture. This one adds to putting more pieces together and confirms the information gathered from the other books and my own experiences so far. (Review courtesy of a reader from Hamburg, Germany at amazon.co.uk.)

Swedish Mentality
Åke Daun

A more "academic" book than the others, but extremely interesting for those who like psychology and sociology. The writing is a little heavy, but Daun does an excellent job of outlining a "Swedish national character." Daun draws on other studies which have already been done on the issue of identity and Swedishness: how Swedes see themselves, and how others see them.

Modern-day Vikings:
A Practical Guide to Interacting with the Swedes

Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr

This one is a keeper. I bought it after living in Sweden for a bit over 4½ years. There were things about living in Sweden that I was having trouble appreciating; sometimes there was an underlying 'cultural current' that wouldn't decode for me. After the first read, [this] book gave me some more pieces to the puzzle I was holding. (Review courtesy of Jonathon D. Stubbs at amazon.com).

Sweden: The Secret Files
Colin Moon

Check out both The Secret Files as well as Moon's second addition, More Secret Files. Hours of endless (occasionally offensive) amusement attempting to prove or disprove the 'facts' presented in these books. My Swedish workmates found them even funnier than I did and were still reiterating the Swenglish quote: "Please take off your clothes and follow me to the whip room" a long time after it stopped being funny. (Review courtesy of Cold Feet.)

Lonely Planet Travel Guides: Sweden
Graeme Cornwallis and Carolyn Bain

A thorough if not exhaustive guide to travelling in Sweden. A reviewer at Amazon mentions that "he did miss an item or two (how could he not discuss allmansrätt, which basically says you can hike or camp anywhere without being obnoxious?) but he certainly covers a lot of what is available." He also does a good job of covering multiple cities in Sweden, not just Stockholm.

Lonely Planet City Guides: Stockholm
Becky Ohlsen

Good coverage of history and more detailed than most city guides by other publishers. However, several recommendations to purchase a seperate, more detailed map of the city.

Rough Guide Travel Guides: Sweden
James Proctor and Neil Roland

I haven't looked at this book myself, but readers' reviews on Amazon describe it as "your typical Rough Guide." One issue that was mentioned is that is assumes that readers will be travelling by train, so there is not much information provided on other forms of transpotation. One of the more informative guides on travelling in Sweden.

Swedish fridge poesi

If you don't have a fridge of your own, or you don't have anything better to do, go and write some online Kylskåpspoesi.

He's Onto Us!

'Twas a blast from the past. (Or rather, from three weeks ago).

Saturday night, Miz Cold Feet received a disturbing sms from the Godfather. His associates were the infamous Denim Twins, aka the Moustache and the Beard.

"Aha so you use the seduce and abandon tecnique on me. What are the plans for tonight, if they are not secret?"

Who was seducing and who was abandoning?

Suddenly, the Blond Expat Security Advisory System threat level was raised to Severe. It's a Red Alert!

Cease and desist.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

You've got something on your nose

It was a very pleasant evening, with good company and good food.

I was cosied up in a chair by the heater, snickering at the poor brave Viking souls puffing out on the balcony, having an enjoyable conversation with a Dutch guy, and snacking on a delicious homemade tapenade (olive spread) on warm bread. It was dark green, and although tasty, I was careful to avoid spilling any down my front, and cautious to avoid getting any stuck between my teeth.

I finished and set my plate aside, carefully checking to make sure I hadn't spilled it and double checking by running my tongue over my teeth, just to be safe. Suddenly, the Dutch guy picks up a napkin and bats at my nose with it.

"Huh?" I asked, startled by his sudden motion.

"You've got something on your nose."

"I do?" I replied as I brought my hand up to my face.

"No, I don't. I think that's my nose ring you were trying to wipe off."

(fits of laughter)

"I thought it was the tapenade! I was trying to be cute and help you with it!"

"No, it's little and green, but it's not made of olive paste! But I appreciate the thought, all the same."

I'm a Toys R' Us Kid

Tonight was a friend's 40th birthday party.

The past two weeks, I've received e-mails with pictures of newborns from three different friends who just had babies. "You have been given a premier membership in the Auntie and Uncle Club."

I've been to three weddings in the last two years, and at least one of those ended in divorce.

Next week I'm interviewing for a job with a higher salary than my mom earns.

I think this is called growing up.

Can y'all just back the truck up a bit? I'm not quite ready!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

Image hosting by PhotobucketGod forbid I would dare to use Kommissarie Curiosa for shameless self-promotion (or to get dates, for that matter!!)!! Suffice it to say that I would simply like to inform you that I have been nominated in several categories for the Second AFOE European Weblog Awards 2006 at Fistful of Euros. I have even been nominated under "Best Weblog," but I would be quite happy with "Best New Weblog." You may do as you like with this link, but you may find it impossible to resist clicking several times, perhaps on "Kommissarie Curiosa." Other bloggers with a Swedish connection nominated for various awards include Stefan Geens¤ and Francis Strand (both of whom, I should mention, have been included under the category Life Time Achievement Award, among others).

P.S. Make sure you scroll down as there are several categories and "Best New Weblog" is close to the bottom.
¤Stefan, I'm sure, would like to nominate meUllrick for "Best Cat Blogger of the Year." Alas, there is no such cat-egory.

Packrat syndrome spreads to Sweden

Image hosting by PhotobucketThere have been several recent cases of packrat syndrome diagnosed by Swedish medical experts. Packrat syndrome has no known cure, and although people who suffer from it can learn to lead relatively normal lives, it is a lifelong affliction, which can only be treated by extensive therapy.

Packrat syndrome is characterized by abnormal hoarding behavior, often rationalized as "collecting." Sufferers of this disease are likely to be in denial about their illness, often explaining their need to save things by exclaiming "just in case!!" Similar to the way that some species of birds such as magpies are unable to resist aluminum and other shiny objects, sufferers of packrat syndrome are drawn towards useless items.

Sufferers of packrat syndrome often accumulate things such as unused boxes, old wrapping paper, jars and butter containers, scraps of fabric, old carpet samples, picture frames, old magazines and newspapers, used sporting equipment, Moroccan lamps, out-of-date VHS and audio cassette tapes from the 1980s, broken appliances confiscated from their grandparents basement, etc. They are also known to go to extreme efforts to collect other people's junk, for example at garage sales or flea markets. They squirrel away these items in cellars and attics with the intent of using them at some point in the future, but oftentimes these items never again see the light of day.

In extreme cases, people with this disease have also collected an assortment of old cars, known as “beaters.” In some instances, the ratio of vehicles to household member can be as high as 5:1.

The disease does have periods of remission, but outbreaks are most likely to occur during Spring Cleaning, and can also be triggered by stressful events such as moving, and in some individuals, even packing for an extended vacation can cause a re-occurrence of the disease.

The disease is not known to be contagious, but it can cause secondary symptoms, such as muscle strain and backache, among people who, for example, help a sufferer of packrat syndrome move from one place to another.

Geneticists are fascinated by packrat syndrome. It is quite common for the offspring of people with packrat syndrome to develop the disease. It is unclear where or not it is hereditary or the result of environmental stimuli in early childhood. The children of people who like stuff tend to also exhibit a similar affinity for stuff and an extreme aversion to Feng Shui. Symptoms can be detected in children as young as two, although late onset packrat syndrome can also occur.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Will you be mine?

Image hosting by Photobucket My most memorable Valentine’s day was during my second year of college in Seattle. His name was Bradley. We worked together as writing tutors in our campus Writing Center, and we were working the 7 to 9 pm shift that evening. Not surprisingly, there were no students for us to help that evening. It seemed everyone else was with his or her sweetheart. Bradley jokingly asked me if I would be his Valentine, and I responded by handing him an extra plate of cookies I hadn’t managed to deliver to some other friends yet. “I baked them just for yo,.” I said with a smile.

The two hours went by rather quickly, and Brad and I gave each other a hug and went our separate ways. I had to make a detour to the neighborhood grocery store, so it was after 10 pm by the time I got home. As I walked out of the elevator and turned down the hallway, there was a strange illumination on the mat just outside my front door. As I got closer, it was a flashlight pointed on a single yellow tulip, with a hand scrawled note that read, “Thank you for shining some light on my day.”

I still have that flashlight. In fact, it’s in the top drawer in the kitchen of my apartment here in Stockholm.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Guy from the Office who Hath Not a Clue About Anything Involving Interaction with Other Human Beings called this morning at 9 am. I was asleep, and stayed that way.

Drunken swenglish

Drunken guy at 7/11: Can I learn you?

Curiosa: No, you cannot.

Edited to add: (The rest of the conversation was even better).

Drunken guy: It's because I'm black, isn't it? (obviously had been watching too much Ali G., as was pointed out by Cold Feet this afternoon)

Curiosa: No, that has nothing to do with it. It's because you're drunk and I'm busy.

Drunken guy: Can I at least by you a coffee?

Curiosa: No, I don't drink coffee after 5 pm.

Friday, February 10, 2006

EU Commission Proposes Ban on Catnip

Brussels -- The European Commission has today adopted a proposal to the Council amending EU legislation on the distribution of catnip. Current legislation allows catnip to be distributed by licensed feline pharmaceutical representatives only. The Commission's proposal would effectively ban the distribution of catnip for personal use. While there are currently no limits on the quantity of catnip an individual cat can purchase, the proposed ammendment would limit this quantity to the amount needed to fill one toy mouse, at the same time tightening regulations for the licensing of catnip distributors.

According to researchers, catnip is similar to the perennial herb, Nepeta cateria, a member of the mint family. This herb has been known to cause hallucinations among felines who are exposed to large quantities of the substance. Nepetalactone, the primary chemical in catnip, can trigger oral, visual, and olfactory hyper-sensitivity in certain cats. It is not known to have any similar effect upon human beings, although it is unadvisable to smoke catnip in an attempt to "get high." (Studies have shown that there is a negative statistical correlation, although not a causal relationship, between human intelligence and attempts to smoke catnip.)

Advocates of the Commission's proposal claim that catnip is a "gateway drug" to other "harder substances" such as Liver Pate. However, the drug is not known to be addictive and there have been no documented long-term side effects.

The European Association for the Promotion of Cat's Rights has been a prominent actor in the discussion surrounding the Commission's controversial proposal. Members of the Dutch delegation have been especially outspoken, promoting a policy of tolerance (gedoogbeleid) regarding Community Capnip policy. The Dutch consider catnip to be a "soft drug" and advocate making catnip publically available on a large-scale. (On a side note, the Netherlands Board of Tourism is currently marketing an advertising campaign aimed at attracting catnip tourists from other EU countries with more restrictive catnip policies.)

The Swedish feline contingency, on the other hand, has suggested stricter regulations, proposing a state monopoly on the sale of catnip, with restrictive opening hours and high taxes. The Danish representative, Musse Rasmussen, supports the Swedish proposal "in principle," but stated that the regular use of catnip will continue to be permitted among cats residing in the Kristiania enclave of Copenhagen.

The British cats are expected to veto the proposal on the grounds that it restricts the "free flow of catnip" across the Union. The French felines are, not unexpectedly, concerned with patenting the name "menthe aux chats," claiming that the herb originates in a province in the south of France.

Several catnip experts from the United States have been invited to speak before the Commission. Several American studies have looked at individual U.S. states that have introduced "progressive regulations" regarding the use of catnip for medicinal purposes. Washington State, for example, has permitted felines to grow catnip at home for personal use, placing restrictions only upon the "possession of catnip with intent to sell."

Editor's Note: This post is dedicated to Stefan Geens. Alternative headline: "Cat blogger, my ass."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"The Swedes will not make the first move"

Image hosting by PhotobucketOnce again, I must give credit to Biff R. for linking to this rather humorous article, "Gay German penguins unimpressed by Swedish females" in The Local. I wonder if North American male penguins would have been similarly unimpressed, or whether they are still holding out for the chics in bikinis.

Partay partay

I have found a cafe with a great wireless connection, and have spent most of the afternoon tucked into a corner with my precious laptop. Two guys were just sitting at the table next to me, and they were composing a guestlist for an upcoming party one of them was having. They added several couples, several male friends, but seemed to have a hard time coming with with any "single, good-looking, and funny girls" to invite. I couldn't help but smile. It became a very heated discussion, assessing the merits of various females they knew of. Seems they have the opposite problem that I do. While there is no shortage of beautiful, single girls, my experience has been that there is a drought when it comes to eligible Swedish bachelors! I was tempted to tap on the shoulder of the guy closest to me and offer to bring several "snygga, roliga tjejer" to his party.

Don't you dare blog me!

It seems that some people (you know who you are) have attempted to use reverse psychology on me, precisely so that I won't blog them. I explained my blogging policy. It's quite simple, really. If you do or say something idiotic, particularily in the context of a date, your stupidity will forever be commemorated in the annals of Kommissarie F. Curiosa. So the individual in question seems to want to be blogged. As in, "Note to self: Say stupid or strange things and GET BLOGGED by Curiosa!" Unless it's some kind of ploy, as I suspect, to keep from being blogged at all, because surely I won't blog him/her if he/she tries to get blogged. After all, it's not any fun to blog someone who wants to be blogged, is it?

Well, forewarned is forearmed. Do not attempt to predict my blogging behaviour.

Deadly fish

Apparently I'm not the only one who has envisioned using a herring as a deadly weapon. Thanks to Biff R. for the link!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


He did it again. And unfortunately for me, he didn't wait until the yearly anniversary of Guy from the Office who Hath Not a Clue About Anything Involving Interaction with Other Human Beings Asks Curiosa On a Some Kind of Strange Date By Email. Except for this time it wasn't by email. It was by phone.


"Hi Curiosa! This is Guy from the Office who Hath Not a Clue About Anything Involving Interaction with Other Human Beings."

"Uhhhhhh, hi."

"I thought I'd call and see if you wanted to have breakfast sometime. Maybe in my apartment. Or we could go somewhere else. But we could have a lovely breakfast in my apartment. "

(We live about three blocks away from each other. Last time he asked me if I wanted to go to the movies OR to see his apartment. He seems bound and determined to get me in that apartment. About as bound and determined as I am that I am NOT going to see his apartment. Ever.)

Damn, I was hoping the ducking and dodging date-avoidance method that I've been employing the last three years would continue to work for me. And how the hell did he get my phone number?? Oh yeah, it's on my email footer. Damn IT!

"Uhhhhh, uhhhhh. Uhhhhhh-huhhhhh...Oh, really?"


For once in my life, I was speechless. The problem with this situation is that it's not entirely clear that he's fishing for a date, it could also be the case of trying to socialize with a colleague. Expect for the fact that I already socialize with the colleagues with whom I would actually want to socialize. And although I have to work with him, he's not someone I even want to be friends with, let alone go on some strange excursion to see his apartment.

I've done just about everything I can short of just being really rude (or beating him with a fermented herring). I haven't been completely direct for the very simple fact his that he is a colleague and I also have a very hard time being "not nice" to someone I see on a regular basis.

This time I saved his mobile number in my phone. So next time there will be no surprise attacks. Next time I know NOT to answer.

My Cat is a Democrat

Eclectic and diverse groups of people gather together in the name of blogging.

Having received a last minute e-mail, forwarded to me by Stefan, about a get-together yesterday evening with Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhhshan, who is in Stockholm for a few days, I decided to show up. (As a side note, Hossein has been instrumental in jumpstarting the Persian blogosphere, not in the least in relation to blogging as an alternate forum to promote democracy and open political debate in a country where the media is controlled by clerics).

All I knew when we made our way to the event was that we would find "wine and bloggers," which is in general a very good combination.

I was expecting that "wine and bloggers" would dictate that the venue for the event be some sort of bar, or at least a cafe. Needless to say, we were quite surprised to find that it was held in one of the tiny little red summer houses in the middle of Vitabergsparken. Since we took several unplanned detours trying to find it, we were an hour or so late for the meeting.

When we arrived, they were having a rather serious conversation about the recent debacle in the Danish media over a cartoon portraying Mohammed, so we felt a bit out of place intruding in the middle of the discussion, which we had fully expected to be more socially oriented.

Someone then posed the question whether or not there were certain "cultural" elements that predicted whether or not blogging would take-off in a particular country, in particular the impact that blogging would have on the political sphere. Stefan commented that the Swedish blogosphere has been fairy apolitical, at least as far as the actual influence blogging has had on Swedish politics, as opposed to the impact blogging has had in some other countries. Stefan then proposed the theory that perhaps "people in Sweden are too busy blogging about their cats" as an explanation to why there were not more influential political blogs.

I knew very well he was referring to the fact that my kitten, Ullrick, has recently taken up blogging, despite his lack of opposable thumbs. Thankfully, no one else in the room had any idea what he was talking about.

"You mean that blogs about about cats have had an impact on politics?" some innocent bystander asked, visibly confused, making the mistake of taking Stefan's cat blogger comment seriously.

Yes, of course, how could I forget to mention that Ullrick and other Scandinavian felines have been instrumental in the deregulation of the Norwegian fishing industry, making affordable fish available to all?!?

I have deliberately chosen NOT to write about politics in my blog, for the simple fact that the work I do involves writing about politics and policy-making. This blog is, for me, a creative outlet, intended to entertain, both myself as well as anyone who happens to find it entertaining. (I should also mention that it's unexpectedly also proven to be an interesting method to get dates.)

This does not mean that I don't take the potential impact blogging can have on politics or other important issues seriously. I follow several political blogs, but have chosen for the time being not to express my own political opinions in such an arena. If at some point an issue arises that I feel passionately enough about (for example, if Dick Cheney announces his intention to run for president in the next U.S. election and it seems there is actually a chance that he would win), you can be sure that I'll write about it. Probably not here at Kommissarie Curiosa, but somewhere.

In the meantime, I'll leave the political blogging to Ullrick, who has currently expressed concern over recent proprosals by the EU Commission to place restrictions on the personal use of catnip.

We love boobs! Don't you?

Image hosting by PhotobucketExiting the subway yesterday, I looked up and saw a very large Lindex ad with the words "We love boobs" sprawled across their poster. I had to take a double take to make sure I had actually read what I thought I had. Sure enough, Lindex loves boobs.

It's a follow-up to their "We love bottoms" Summer 2005 underwear campaign, just in time for Valentine's Day. In the last two days, most of the adverts, at least those with the "We love boobs" slogan, have been removed from the Stockholm Subway, because according to SL (Stockholms Local Traffic) press secretary Maria Adolfson, as quoted in Dagens Media, "We have made the assessment that the text may cause upset among certain social groups" ("Vi har gjort bedömningen att vi tror att texten kommer att uppröra en del grupper i samhället"). There was also mention of "sexual discrimination."

They are worried that certain "social groups" in Swedish society are going to be upset by the word "boob" in a campaign slogan in a country where it is okay to show bare breasts in the media and co-ed naked sauna is seen as the norm? Maybe this is just my experience, but being uncomfortable with the naked human body is one hang-up that most Swedes do not seem to have.

Image hosting by PhotobucketAs silly as I think the campaign is, I find it even more ridiculous that "we love boobs" could be construed as offensive, especially in the capital city of a a country like Sweden. (This kind of debate would seem less out of place in, say, small town USA.) It's an odd use of an English phrase in a Swedish advertising campaign, to be sure (and as Cold Feet said, I would have loved to have sat in on that marketing meeting), and I'm not exactly sure to what demographic they are trying to sell their lingerie, because it that it would mainly be men (as opposed to women, who one would surmise to be the main consumers of bras) that would happily nod their head up and down and concur that they too love boobs.

Silly? Yes! Offensive? Absolutely not.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

tick tock

Over the last few years, as I've gotten older, and have realized that she is actually wiser than I am, Mom and I have become much, much closer. We talk on the phone two or three times a week. She even asked me for advice when she started dating again, and she's got an encyclopedia of knowledge that I can tap into when it comes to dealing with fidgety felines. I may know more about world politics, but she knows more about life.

Unfortunately, most of our conversations lately have been about money as well as long discussions about where is the best place for me to be right now. I want to stay in Stockholm, but sometimes I wonder if I haven't "done my time" here, so to speak. I could leave within a few months with the knowledge that there were no loose ends, that I had done what I came here to do (don't ask me what I came here to do; I'm referring more of a feeling of being finished, which is rather difficult to articulate).

My family has been wonderful since my car accident in August, as I have been trying to get back on my feet, literally, the last few months. My employment situation is tenuous at the moment, although I'm working on correcting the situation. The current research project is finished this month, and while there are several leads I'm pursuing, I'm going to be anxious until I get something more conrete nailed down.

My mom asked me tonight to do two things for her: call or write to my grandparents (morföräldrar) once a week, and do the same thing for my father. "If not for yourself or for them, than for me."

Damn, she knows where it hurts. Guess that's where I learned it.

I know I should do a better job of keeping in touch with Grandma and Grandad. That request, I guess I can fulfill. But the request to make contact with my father, that one's a little trickier. My parents were divorced when I was 16. We never have had the best relationship, and suffice it to say that while I can intellectually understand why he is way he is (and was the way he was when I was growing up), that doesn't make it any easier on an emotional level. My father is not able to live by himself anymore, and while medication keeps him "stable," I don't think there is much of a chance for us to renew our relationship. I honestly prefer not to think about it at all, rather than having anything to do with him. Maybe that's part of the reason I moved to the other side of the world. I don't know.

Grandma and Grandad are both 92, and just moved into a retirement home last summer. Mom has been taking care of them for the last five years or so, and it's been taking it's toll on her. She is stuck in a job that is going nowhere, just trying to hold out to retirement. Her boyfriend (her so-called "gentleman friend") is a fourteen hour drive away, and her only child is on the other side of the world. Her life, as in the life she lives for herself, is essentially on hold. She's waiting for G&G to get really sick, waiting for retirement, waiting for Something to Happen.

Don't get me wrong. In some ways, the situation is self-styled. When it comes right down to it, she could say no. Stand up for herself. Take back her life. But I understand why she doesn't. It's hard to change your own situation when there are other people depending on you. Other People that You Love. Other People that Would Have a Hard Time Understanding Why Things Suddenly Changed.

Sometimes it's easier to wait. But time can run out while you are waiting for Something to Happen.

I guess I can do these two things she has asked me to do. If not for myself, for her.

Beware of the Blonds

Half-a-bag of cheese doodles (ostbågar) and half-a-bottle of wine do not a healthy dinner make.

I digress.

After splitting a bag of cheesy goodness and washing it down with some red wine, Miz Cold Feet and I once again ventured out to grace the cafes and pubs of Södermalm with our presence. We ended up in the club that has quickly become The Usual, mainly due to its proximity to Casa Curiosa, as well as the absence of an entrance fee (not to mention the fact that it is frequented by some very nice specimins of the Strong, Silent, Nordic type).

The middle of the club features a circular bar, surrounded by what can only be termed a "man pit." As opposed to the typical scenario in the US or UK, where the women sit around the bar, casually sipping their drinks, batting their eyes, and flipping their hair, in Stockholm, it's the men who do this. Or, they would be flipping their hair if it wasn't encrusted in so many layers of styling products that is essentially unmoveable. Anyway, it was a pit of men, around a circular bar. Cold Feet speculated that the bar was round because it enables women to do continuous 'laps' until somebody talks to themthey see somebody they want to talk to. Kind of like a conveyor belt, Yo Sushi style. Except if it were a real conveyor belt, we would be the ones standing there as the men go round and round.

After fortifying ourselves with pear cider, we began to casually wander, attempting to strategically place ourselves in an Optimal Position for Attack, as well as to survey our potential victimsconversation partners. Cold Feet wondered outloud, "How do we impregnate the man pit?"

"You want to impregnate the man pit? Isn't it you who would end up impregnated, my dear?"

"Infiltrate, I mean. INFILTRATE."

"Well, that's something else entirely. We can do that at once."

We started chatting with the Godfather, the Moustache, and the Beard.

The Moustache and the Beard were both donning denim shirts and wifebeaters (white, ribbed tanktops), complete with a little bit of chest hair sticking out. The Beard seemed a little miffed at the comparison when we asked if they had coordinated wardrobes before going out. "My outfit is better," he muttered. "It was much more expensive."

Well then.

Then the Moustache announced that he knew that his moustache made him unattractive, but apparently January is the time to make yourself unattractive if you are ever going to do it, because you're not going to get any anyway, as he put it.

Well then.

We took our leave, and left alone, but nonetheless amused.

This and that

I haven't had so much to write about this past week, at least anything that I've felt like sharing. There have been some ups and downs regarding romantic attachments these last few weeks, and I really don't feel that I should elaborate for the sake of the other person involved. Regardless of what decisions have been made about what is best for us as individuals at this point in our lives, there is still a strong feeling of mutual respect, and I intend to maintain that.

There is as very fine line between crafting a tell-all blog and respecting the privacy of the people whom you write about. In some ways, blogging is 21st century story-telling, and the people who appear on these pages are the characters. Some of these characters are complicit, knowing full well that things they do and say might end up on Blogspot. And many of them are even willing conspirators, intentionally giving me blog fodder. Other times, the people who cross my path in a funny or touching way might not have any idea that they will be featured in the cast and crew of Kommissarie Curiosa.

The general rule: if you say or do something REALLY idiotic OR hilarious, I reserve the right to blog about it. If I date you, and you make an ass of yourself, and end up being waiting on my family when I call from Sweden, I will blog you. But if it's something that is personally damaging or something confidential, I don't.

Kommissarie Curiosa is tenatively resuming her original under-the-covers investigation, although there are obviously some emotions and issues that she is still working through. In the meantime, expect some renewed efforts at infiltrating the grisly world of dating in Sweden's chilly capital city.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Have you kissed your groundhog today?

Image hosting by PhotobucketI know it's strange to have a holiday dedicated to a rodent, but it's also strange to voluntarily eat rottenfermented herring and actually enjoy it.

Happy Groundhog Day!