31 May, 2010

Our Sthlm crazies

We had friends that we hadn't seen in a few months over for dinner this weekend. They are a great couple, and are really our only Swedish friends that we *didn't* meet through school or work. They are particularly outgoing and fun, but people say that it's tough to make close friends with Swedes, especially as a foreigner. We haven't had that experience exactly; just being students puts us a different social situation than maybe other people who move here for work, etc. 

But it's a bit of a stereotype that Swedish people are reserved. They don't make eye-contact or smile on public transportation or when walking down the street; they prefer not to ever talk to salespeople in stores and salespeople never talk to customers, etc.  The phenomenon called Jantelagen is full-force here in Sweden, and its result is that one should never call attention to oneself or stand out.
So we got to talking a little about that on Friday as we were catching up with these friends. And oddly, we got to talking about some people we've met in Stockholm who are not at all reserved, in fact, quite the opposite. Just in the last few months, Stu and I have encountered some interesting people in Stockholm, and three in particular jump out as particularly noteworthy. 
I called them our Stockholm crazies, but they probably aren't all actually crazy. Well, maybe the woman who alternates between belting out opera and screaming obscenities. I have seen her out and about several times, usually "shopping" on Drottninggatan or walking around Hötorget. She is an older woman, often carrying several small bags and wearing very colorful clothing, and she pops in & out of stores, singing opera music, muttering to herself, then yelling at people with what I can only assume is not-so-nice words (its all in Swedish!) She has a beautiful voice though...it's too bad for the Tourette's. I think she is totally fascinating. And you can hear her opera singing several blocks from away.

There is also the shoe fetish guy I have twice encountered. The first time, I was waiting on the tunnelbana with my headphones on. A slightly creepy little old man holding several greasy-looking plastic grocery store bags stood right in front of me and said something to me while looking down. I took my headphones off and said "Ursäkta," kind of annoyed, since I thought he was asking me for money (I lived in DC, thats what I'm used to!) But no, he looked up at me, right in the eye, and told me he liked my shoes! I was wearing a particularly fantastic pair of boots, so of course I immediately forgot that he was kind of creepy and very enthusiastically thanked him for noticing. And the train came and I hopped on happily thinking about how great my shoes were, and I went home and forgot about it.
But a week later, as I was waiting for the bus a few blocks from my apartment, the same man was hanging around the bus stop. I didn't actually recognize him as creepy shoe guy until I noticed him staring at a lovely young blonde Swede chatting on her phone also waiting for the bus. And while she was in the middle of her phone conversation, he started talking to her feet! The same way! She actually had to ask her phone friend to hold on while she addressed this creepy old man mumbling to her. Again, he told *her* that she was wearing very fine shoes. And she reacted exactly as I had...thanking him, all proud of her noticeable fashion sense. This creepy old guy is good! He knows exactly what to say to a girl to get a smile. I chose to walk to the next bus stop, though.

Not long ago, Stu and I had work done in our apartment in which they had to cut the electricity and we had to be out by 7:30am. So we were still half-asleep when we headed to Odengatan to find some coffee and breakfast, when a very pushy woman starting walking in stride and talking to us in Swedish. Neither of us was with-it enough to even try with her, so we just pulled the "Sorry, we don't speak Swedish" thing. To which she replied, "Oh no problem, I speak English!" and proceeded to ask us if we had any money we could spare because she had lost her leg and needed 400kr (not quite $60) to get a new one. Stu was totally floored...this woman was walking next to us on two obviously present and functioning legs! No way were we giving money to someone who was obviously a lying liar, boldly walking on two legs while telling us she lost one and that she couldn't receive her state support money without it. Crazy Swedish woman.
And of course, I hadn't had enough coffee to put together that she was actually talking about losing her identification card. Aka "legitimation" in Swedish. Aka "leg" for short. She needed money so she could get a new ID card to be able to claim her benefits. I didn't realize that until after we said no, sorry, no money and then tried to get across the street as fast as possible when one hasn't yet had coffee.

So yeah, not quite crazy (at least not obviously crazy in our limited interaction with her.) But I add her to the list of interesting, unconventional or just plain out-there Swedes we have encountered recently. Not at all reserved. 
And then there are the really great people we've met, through school or work or other friends. In fact, we have met very few people we don't like while here in Sweden. I am even kind of happy to report on our few eccentric Stockholm neighbors, even if they sing opera or incoherently yell at you.

30 May, 2010

Memorial Day!

It ain't no a holiday here, so I have to work. But enjoy the day off and have a burger for us!

27 May, 2010

Maybe they need priorities

I have mentioned that I am doing an internship in the fall at Moderna Museet here in Stockholm, and I have probably posted dozens of pictures on this blog from the museum...they are one of the biggest and most well-regarded in Scandinavia, with a large fantastic collection, interesting special exhibitions and events (for example, Ed Ruscha is doing an artist tomorrow at 4pm!) They also have a very colorful history that is well-known, from the eccentric days of director Pontus Hulten to having to close & remodel because of mold. I am super-psyched for this opportunity.

So I was surprised when I read that Moderna has failed a basic audit and has been accused of inadequate control of its collections. In part for LOSING AN ANDY WARHOL.

This Warhol seems to be a small lithograph from a book. But it is not the first time I have heard they misplaced a Warhol...we get to meet all sorts of interesting art people as a part of my program, and one particularly mad curator told us the story of the Andy Warhol retrospective exhibition at Moderna in the 1970s in which the artist brought a very, very large purple flower painting to Stockholm for the show (looks something like below...Moderna doesn't let you take their images from their site!) Apparently it was so big, Warhol didn't want to take it back to NYC so he gave the work to one of his Swedish acquaintances, who didn't have the wall space for Ten-Foot Flowers so he gave it to Moderna, but it was too big for the museum as well, and who knows how it got there, but it was found 20 years later in runway storage at an airport in Ohio. They got a call from some confused airport official saying "Uhhh, we got your big purple painting here," only identified because it said "Moderna Museum Stockholm" on the box. It now hangs proudly in the museum's permanent collection.

Anyway, slightly more disconcerting is the fact that this audit was failed because of the department in which I plan to be interning! Keeping track of art and collection objects in almost any museum is the job of the registrar's office...they organize loans in and out, they record any movement of any work inside the museum, they know what is in storage, what is under conservation, what can be used for websites and advertising, etc. Looks like I'll be learning by doing?

I have a meeting with the registrars at Moderna tomorrow afternoon, and I guess I'll have to ask about the report? I'd love to hear what happened! Or maybe its simply that Andy Warhol paintings in that collection just go missing?

24 May, 2010


I have been working tons of hours at Fotografiska to help the curator with the final touches for opening last week. We've had social engagements to keep. I have to start thinking about buying gifts for friends and family and wedding presents and new baby presents to bring back when we go to the US in just a few weeks.  I have two rather important papers due next week and the week after to finish up this school year. I have a final exam in my Swedish class at the University next Wednesday, and because of that, we had an extra class this week to prepare. The point of that paragraph is just to illustrate that its been a bit busy. I am not sure how I have managed my calendar with all the little details.

Tonight, I have Swedish class from 6-9pm. I even went all the way to school for it (though I thought that extra class was at 4:30, so of course I just went home rather than wait an hour and a half doing, I don't know, homework!?!) And I'm not going back. Why? Because I have important priorities...last night was the big Lost series finale on US television, which means tonight is our turn.

2.5 hours+ of finally getting some answers. I say finally, but I am a bit of a sham. I didn't follow the show its whole 6 or 7 years...we just picked it up a month or two ago and watched all 6 seasons in succession. But regardless, that show gets under your skin! We pay our $5 a month for a VPN so we can stream Lost (and all the other worthless yet delicious American tv shows that makes us feel not-so-far-away.) Don't worry, I won't rehash on the blog after watching.

21 May, 2010

Pictures from the opening party:

The entrance

The line to get in just after 7pm (yes, it did start at 7.)

The crowd. And it was part sponsored by Audi, so there is a random convertible on the plaza.

And someone decided it was cool to hire extremely skinny girls to wear giant hats and just stand by the entrance looking moody. Seriously.

Annie Leibovitz and Vee Speers arrived by boat.

And then she was totally mobbed by reporters. She stayed [maybe] half an hour.
Random weird fashion shoot in the middle of the gallery. But we had our make-up done, so that was kinda fun.

It was super crowded and scenester-y, but I had a great time. And no dinner and many cocktails. 

20 May, 2010

Fotografiska opening weekend

Today was the big press opening for the new Fotografiska museum in Stockholm! I have been on my feet since about 7:30, shuttling artists from one side to the other of a what is a very large museum. Thankfully, with two Americans and an Australian among them, it was all English, English, English all over the museum (which made me feel much less like an idiot.)

I'll make this post quick, because I only have an hour at home before going back for the VIP opening (ha, I had to add that VIP part.) But I got to meet famous artists Annie Leibovitz, Lennart Nilsson, the lovely Vee Speers, and Joel-Peter Witkin (who was way more normal than his works would have you think.) Yes, Annie was treated like a total superstar (and even better, she asked for Starbucks lattes and diet cokes to be available at her press appearance, neither of which actually exist in Sweden!)

I didn't get any decent pictures...I only had the guts to take a few during the press talk, and felt totally embarrassed by my crappy Sony camera beside all the giant fancy reporter cameras.

Everything seemed to go off without *many* hitches (the toilets all worked, but we were still sticking labels to the wall throughout the day.) Tomorrow is the official public opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, and there is a full weekend schedule planned with lectures, signings, and tours. I'll try to take better pictures, but no promises.

18 May, 2010

things we saw in Stockholm

It is nearly 10pm, but it's still light out. It is so nice in Stockholm, we've had our french doors open for the last 2 full days.

Blue skies, and no Ejayafjällasumthinoranother debris in sight.  Stu has a business trip in Göteborg (aka Gothenburg, or Yoda Boring) and is thinking about taking the train both ways to avoid the volcanic spew. And yes, my husband now has business trips...he has managed to score several sweet short-term contract jobs at businesses here in Stockholm and in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, their terms all overlap and we still have 3 weeks of school, so he happens to be the most stressed man I know right now, but regardless I am proud of him. Bringin' home the bacon.

We got to spend some super days with our super friends Emre and Patti this weekend, too. They managed to get back to Utrecht yesterday after more than 9 hours of traveling, thanks to the ever-present ash cloud of doom. They probably could have DRIVEN to Utrecht in that amount of time, but whatever.
  • We did Gamla Stan, we went to some museums (the Medieval Stockholm museum and the Wine & Spirits museum, both highly recommended.) 
  • We caught a crazy burlesque show...no little people this time, but there were a whole lotta attention-hogging people in the audience. And as many naked people in the crowd as on stage.  
  • We sat outside at a bar on Medborgarplatsen on Saturday when it was so gorgeous, and I just read Alexander Skarsgård and his new gf Kate Bosworth were sitting in the exact same spot enjoying the sun yesterday. I'da loved that celebrity sighting...
  • We had a few friends over for dinner and drinks super late into the night. 
  • We took a boat out to a close island on the archipelago and ate ice cream and laughed at Stu getting harassed by large, angry birds. He does not like birds, of any size or disposition, within a few feet of his space. 
  • We saw a few movies and hung out and generally enjoyed each other's company.
And it all generally made me more excited to head back to DC in a few weeks, to see everyone else we miss.

17 May, 2010

One year! One month!

Amazingly, it has been one whole year since we started this blog.  And more amazingly, at least to me, we are almost 10 months in to our planned stay in Sweden. Crazy what has changed and happened!

We are also exactly one month from heading to the US for a few weeks, to celebrate weddings and graduations and babies and seeing friends & fam. I am so looking forward to the trip. And call me shallow, but one of the first trips I am making is to Target when we get home. I miss Target and Whole Foods more than you know.

We are planning on traveling most of this summer since we assume it will be our last before re-entering adulthood, with real jobs and maybe babies. After our short east coast stint, we have plans in July to be in Edinburgh and London for about two weeks, and to spend a few weeks all over Germany with Stu's mama. August we have plans for Paris, and maybe Turkey with Emre & Patti between August and September. And anywhere else we can squeeze in some time. Any suggestions?

One year of blogging! And one month til we are back in DC! Woohoo!

16 May, 2010

Quick picture post

Emre & Patti are visiting so we're too busy to post for real, but yesterday, we got the best weather this year, and I thought it was worth posting a few pictures. We took a quick archipelago tour to a small island outside of the city, Fjäderholmarna. 
It was the cutest little chunk of Sweden ever!

10 May, 2010

Cold snap

Its cold and crappy in Stockholm! Its May 10th (and a belated happy mother's day to all the mammas) but its so cold I wore my jacket and scarf all day at work today. Where? At work at the Fotografiska, the half-built museum that opens in a week+ and doesn't have fully-functioning HVAC yet. Not to mention flooring. Or toilets for the public.
After helping lug in 22 GIANT framed Lennart Nilsson photographs from a delivery truck in the freezing cold (because the loading dock isn't done yet? Or they haven't hired professional art handlers. Or both.) the other interns and I started hanging a very large wall of Annie Leibovitz photographs that will be pushpinned under glass (like this or this.) We got about 25 pictures hung when we ran out of pictures, while still having quite a bit of wall left. Why? Because we hung them on the wrong effing wall. The workmen were still building the wall we were supposed to use. Oops! We had to take them all down, and will start again tomorrow. This has certainly been a learning experience.

But thankfully its a short week! Thursday is Ascension Day, or as it is called in Swedish Kristi himmelsfärds dag, or as Stu calls it in typical Stu-pid fashion, Christ Farts in Heaven Day. Once again, this secular country shuts down for a random religious observance (I say random because its not an observed holiday in the US, and I had never heard of it before moving to Sweden.) But most of Europe celebrates it as well, and that includes the Dutch, so Emre & Patti are coming to visit Stockholm for their long weekend! (Volcano willing.) I don't quite know what we'll do to show them around, but if this cold weather keeps up, so many of the things we like about this city just won't be as pleasant. Seriously, its May 10th. Hurry up, Spring!

05 May, 2010

Brad Pitts comin' to Stockholm

Even though the Swedish version was released in U.S. theaters and did surprisingly well for a foreign film, Hollywood is planning to remake at least part of the Millennium trilogy. Starting with "Män som hatar kvinnor," which literally means "Men who Hate Women," but the English version is actually "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Confusing. Anyway, the books did amazing internationally, and maybe even better due to the drama surrounding the death and estate woes of the author Stieg Larsson, and the three movies have done really well in Sweden. So of course Hollywood has to capitalize.

And they are starting off on the right foot with getting David Fincher directing, and probably Brad Pitt starring in this movie (though George Clooney has been rumored as well.)

Brad Pitt in Las Vegas by Annie Leibovitz, 1994 (yes, this'll be in the inaugural show at Fotografiska!)

The stories are set in Stockholm (I hear you can even take a "Millennium" tour of the city that visits all of the places he writes about in the book, kind of like Sex & the City tours of NYC.) That means Brad Pitt -or George Clooney- will be shooting in Stockholm starting in the fall.

Living in DC, there were always movie sets to be stepped over on your way to work. I still haven't seen the Russell Crowe movie State of Play that was shot in Mt. Pleasant, or the second National Treasure that was shot in my university library. Even though I saw both of those sets and some of the shooting, (even creepy Jon Voight walking around UMD) I just didn't care that much. But I'd definitely want to see this movie, and I'd probably even be one of those fans stalking the production, trying to get to watch some of the scenes. As demonstrated previously, I am not above (minor) stalking.

So, um, if you're planning to visit us in the fall (and admit it if you have amended your plans because you actually want to join me in mini-stalking David, Brad or George) book our couch now! We've already got Yon on the books for the week of Labor Day, people. Somehow, I don't think he'll be as into this movie as I am...

04 May, 2010


Whew, its been a ridiculously busy week. It still is, technically, but I met all my deadlines for the rest of the week, so I finally caught up on my blog reading (its amazing how many things you miss in just a few days...I had several hundred posts in my Google reader!)

And its May! We have officially hit spring here, and the sun shines and its fairly warm every day. And, to contrast with just a few short months ago, we now have over 18 hours of daylight in Stockholm every day. Its been earned.

Friday was April 30th, with two big celebrations in Sweden: the king's birthday and (honestly, more importantly) Valborgmässoafton. We didn't really bother to acknowledge Carl Gustaf's bday, though I read that he does pop out of the castle window like the Pope and waves to the people below. Or something.

We were definitely planning on celebrating our first Valborg the proper Swedish way (aka Walpurgis.) A group of friends were taking the train up to Uppsala, where they have a giant all-day party with drinking and picnics and boat and raft races and champagne-soaked people and bonfires. Its a huge deal here.

But we wussed out just a few hours before going. There was just too much school work this weekend, and they had called for afternoon showers. Lame, I know.
But Skansen was opened for the season on Friday, and happened to be free (its not cheap, so go when it is!) So we went for a few hours. It was a nice afternoon, and we got to see some of the concert, drank beer in the sun and saw the GIANT pile of woodstuff that would later be a GIANT bonfire. We didn't stick around for long enough to see it burn though.

Swedishy Blue & Yellow flowers

Bageriet är öppet, and it smelled like heaven.

A view from Skansen 

The giant Valborg bonfire

I Love this. I looooooooove this.

Next year, we'll do an Uppsala Valborg. Just looking at our friends' pictures on Facebook was enough to make us jealous. Maybe not about the soggy, champagne-y mess that they all seemed to be. I'll be sure to bring a poncho.