There have been a couple awkward moments I’ve experienced in the last couple weeks

and I’d like to share them here, to see if anybody has a solution for these situations.

The first seems to be fairly common: The accidental one-on-one.   In a group social situation, you begin a story, but at the same time most of the group gets distracted by something (maybe someone else has started talking), and only one person is left hanging onto your words.  What is the protocol here?  Do you continue talking as though you’re addressing the entire group, or do you zone in on the person next to you and turn it into a one-on-one conversation?  But what if it isn’t one-on-one conversation material?  Do you change it up?  OR, alternatively, do you smile at the person, trail off, and join in with the rest of the group?

The reverse situation is also awkward – the person next to you starts speaking and you hear them but no-one else is paying attention.  Do you turn and listen to them and draw attention to their audience of one, or do you let them trail out and pretend nobody noticed?

And awkward moment number two, less common but equally difficult to handle: The unfortunate celebrity resemblance.  This happens when you’ve recently met somebody, and something about them reminds you of someone.  Initially you aren’t sure if it’s someone you’ve known (that quiet kid in science class), or an actual celebrity.  If you, like me, are of the sharing ilk, you let this person know that they remind you of someone.  This situation becomes awkward when, after an evening of staring and trying to figure out the resemblance, it suddenly hits you, and you exclaim something along the lines of: “Oh! I know who it is.”  Unfortunately, you announce this before you realize that the celebrity he/she resembles is Charlie Sheen, Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), or another celebrity who isn’t known for having a pleasing personality/face.  (Note: I think Lea Michele is really pretty, but her character tends to be…overbearing). 

I have an absolutely gorgeous friend who has an undeniable similarity (appearance-wise) to Sarah Jessica Parker.  She hates hearing this.  So my question: do you tell the person who the person they remind you of is?  (Assuming you’ve already told them that they remind you of someone.)  Do you lie and come up with another, hotter celebrity?  Or do you say something along the lines of “You remind me of Sarah Jessica Parker gone right”?

**

Here’s an opinion about young, college grad unemployment from The Economist.

A thoughtful Modern Love piece about our generation’s idea of courtship.

And a bit about how children’s books aren’t going out of style.

None of these articles are jaw dropping, but I found the love story thought provoking, and the other two are interesting.

This blog is in no way meant to be a cooking blog.

 

                                                                                                      My toffee!

Mostly because I’m a spastic cook.  But today I cannot resist sharing a link to an insanely simple toffee recipe that produces wonderful results.  Ingredients?  Butter, sugar, a bit of salt.  (Stop cringing, I never claimed it was good for you.  It’s toffee.)  I seriously recommend this recipe if a) you aren’t much of a cook, b) you need something for a Christmas potluck, etc., c) you have a sweet tooth.

I have recently come across a few articles to share.  The first is titled Woman ‘injected client’s buttocks with cement.’  Think of my posting this as a confession that I don’t solely read The Economist and the NYT.  (Hard to believe, eh?)  Basically this article is about the dark side of unlicensed body enhancements.

“Police said Morris shot a mixture of cement, glue, mineral oil and “Fix-A-Flat” tyre mender into the woman’s buttocks and then sealed the amateur incision with super glue. “

That’s unfortunate.  But I am not only left wondering about the screwiness of the practitioner – I’m concerned about the mental health of the clients.  Plastic surgery seems like one of those things you don’t want to cheap out on.  I would throw most health related things into that list – after all nobody goes around asking for the cheapest deal on a heart surgeon.  (I assume.)

Also, CBS has created a list of 25 college majors with the highest unemployment levels.  I don’t know how they gathered this info, but I was excited to see that journalism was at the bottom of the list.  I particularly enjoyed that number ten on the list was a tie between performing arts and engineering.  Those majors should get together and make offspring.  Really.

My third link is to a NYT feature about a chocolate factory in Bali.  Everything about it is marvelous, particularly the planned fireman pole for the owners to use to get from their office to the kitchen.

**

I have made the bizarre discovery that, though children avoid bedtime like Sarkozy is avoiding Sweden, they love playing “pretend bedtime” in the middle of the day.  Pretend bedtime goes something like this: “Shebooooon, close your eyes, you sleep here,” 3-year-old Teddy points at a couch.  I comply.  He runs to the other couch with his brother, Tim, and they lie down and close their eyes.  Five seconds pass…and: “MORNING!” Teddy yells, shrieks with laughter and jumps off the couch, while Tim pretends to wake up.  I also open my eyes.  “It’s morning!”  Teddy shouts a few times.  And then…”Bed time!” The cycle repeats.

**

And now, the greatly anticipated:

Things my boyfriend and I have argued about.  Part 2.

1) The definition of tone deaf.  (There’s a lot to be argued over here.  Particularly if accusations are being thrown about.)

2) What constitutes an awkward moment.  Our awkward meters are completely different: if I worked out at the gym every time we disagreed on the validity of each other’s awkward stories, I would have David Beckham’s body.  Or abs anyhow.

3) Our relationship status.  Specifically, when we began dating.  In his head, we began dating when we began hanging out one-on-one.  In my head, we were just friends.  He finally decided to “let me know we were already dating” (his words), and asked me out on an official date.  This is when I was clued in.

It gets better.  To me, (and, I’d wager, most of the rational world), the step from dating to boyfriend/girlfriend is a big deal.  It’s an important transition from the ambiguous, expensive, gettingtoknowyouwhileplayingitcooljustincase pool of confusion that is dating, to the titled, cheaper, officiallystuckwithyouforthemoment state of girlfriend/boyfriendhood.  One of the main differences is the breakup: breaking up with a gf/bf requires a face-to-face conversation (yes.  really it does.), some level of guilt, and a significant catalyst (it’s physics: couples in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force).

All of that to say that, we differed in our opinion on how to transition from dating to bf/gf.  The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: So, should we talk about whether or not we want to title our relationship?  Or when we should?

Him: (flipping through Calvin and Hobbes) Oh, whatever you want.  I’ve already been referring to you as my girlfriend.

Alright, so I made the Calvin and Hobbes part up.   The rest is spot on.

4) Our placement during Skype calls.  How close or far we are supposed to be to the camera, and how big we expect the other to have our image.

5) The imaginary contract we signed when we started dating.  When you’re dating someone, certain things are implied: monogamy (usually), a level of emotional support, a willingness to overlook a partner’s hair sheddings.  We argue about everything in the gray areas, eg: “You haven’t told me my toes are cute lately.”   “That was most definitely not on the contract.”

Most of the expats I’ve met here are “Love Refugees,”

or that’s what my boss calls them.  A love refugee is a person from another country who has moved here because of a significant other.  Swedes seem to be quite sneaky in this area – they travel overseas with their liberal notions and symmetrical Nordic features, and they trick their admirers into moving back with them to the icy tundra.  That is the only explanation I can come up with as to why any foreigner would live in a land that is freezing and dark for nine months of the year.

OK, that’s not always how I feel, but the 3:30 sundowns are getting to me.  As is the cold.  I grew up in the Middle East, spending five years in Muscat, Oman,where it is currently 26C (78F).  Yes, I looked it up.  I then lived in Lubbock, and L.A, where the temperatures are currently in the low 70’s.

**

On the positive side of things, the past few weeks have been quite entertaining.  One of my students asked me what a “minion” was.  Apparently Blaire uses it on Gossip Girl, and my student was confused as to its meaning.  Probably the oddest word I’ve ever attempted to explain.  It it had been a native speaker, I would have stumbled through something about “humorous, derogative word for servant…like underling, lackey…”  I had to get a little more creative, but I’ll spare you the details.

A couple days ago I was at Plattan, a plaza in the center of Stockholm where they often have events (protests, concerts, etc.), and stumbled into a group of people clutching white helium balloons celebrating “Alla Krossade Hjärtans Dag.”  Literally translated, this means “All crushed Valentine’s Day.”  Basically, a day to join in solidarity with other broken-hearted people.  This isn’t a traditional Swedish holiday (from what I can gather), but I thought it was heartfelt idea.

I and my companions (three girls I was babysitting) were given free balloons, and we went over to a table to write a little card to the person who had broken our hearts.  Then, at one, the crowd simultaneously released the balloons and gazed skywards as they floated into the vast blue.  It was quite a touching experience.  I found it amusing that one of the girls – a 12 year old – I was with had written a note and released it with her balloon.

“Who broke your heart?” I teased her.

“No one.  I sent it for an unknown person who couldn’t be here to do it themselves.”

Adorable.

My boyfriend doesn’t read my blog.

To provide incentive for him to start doing so, I have decided to include him in today’s post.  In my Media Law class, I learned that in order to libel someone, you must use their name, and it must be proved that you had mal intent and are lying.  Alright, so I don’t exactly remember if those are the requirements for libel – which is like slander, but in print (see how much you’re learning) – but to triple indemnify myself, I would like to take this moment to a) not mention his name, b) declare my non malicious intent towards him, and c) let you know that everything I say is completely accurate, or at the very least within the inner circle of hyperbolic humor.

I know what you are thinking right now.  “Wow Siobhan.  I’m excited for whatever it is you’re about to say about this guy who I’ve never met, nor particularly care about.”  I am too.

The other day he, in rookie move, alerted me to the existence of a site called “Things my girlfriend and I have argued about.”  This site is an oldschool (no really, it looks like the websites we used to create in 8th grade computer class) red and blue html affair which is basically a giant list of arguments they have had.  They start simple: “The way one should cut a Kiwi Fruit in half (along its length or across the middle),” but evolve into full block extended paragraph conversations about various disagreements.  The writer, Mil Millington, (shout out to all Swedes named Olaf Olafsson, Sven Svensson, Carl Carlson, etc.), is English and his girlfriend is German.  This makes for some entertaining culture clashes (aside from the typical gender friction).  For example, she enjoys shopping and trying on jeans that she likes.  In the middle of the store.  Nice, right?

Anyways, I thought that an ideal retaliation for his non readership would be creating my own public list of things we have argued about. The purpose of this list is twofold, as not only will it guarantee his readership, it will be awesome to print and frame as a gift during our breakup.  (See point 5 below.)

But before I give you the list, here are some basic facts about us:  He is an electronics studying introvert.  (Literally, his major is electronics.)  I am a sunshine loving extrovert.  (Yes, “electronics studying” is the direct opposite of “sunshine loving.”)  He is Finnish/Swedish.  I am American.  We are both TCKs (grew up outside our native lands).  OK, that’s enough.

Things my boyfriend and I have argued about.  Part 1.

1) Whether to throw away the unopened little ketchup/mustard/condiment packages after eating fast food.  In his world, it’s perfectly fine to toss unused food into the bin.  I would rather leave it on the table or return it.  (Here’s a sort of related link to a site showing pictures of how much food a family eats in one week.  It has families from around the world and how much they spend.)

2) Whether soy packets leftover from Asian restaurant can be taken home and added into a bottle of soy sauce at home.  He operates under the impression that soy sauces are all individually flavored and therefore the addition of one packet to a bottle would ruin the integrity of the sauce.

3) Hair.  I like his shaggy. He prefers a sort of pseudo-bald do that they force on you in the military. I told him I would dye mine a funky color in retaliation, and he made a rule that I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair out of spite.  (Control issues much?)

4) Physical compliments.  I have told him he’s not allowed to use the Goldilocks approach, because he has literally described my appearance as “Just right. Not too hot, not too cold.”  No.

5)  Whether it’s appropriate to bring up our eventual breakup all the time.  (he finds this to be a bit of a killjoy.  I think it’s practical.  And entertaining.)

6) Hypothetical science fiction scenarios.  Ie. “What would the world be like if the genders were switched, but not the sexes?”  Also, the validity of hypothetical sci-fi scenarios.  (I say they’re all valid: they’re hypothetical.  He thinks that some are too implausible.)

7) The awesomeness of 30 Rock.  One of us does not appreciate the nuances of American humor. (Hint: the Finnish one.)

9) The protocol of watching a season of a show together.  We’ll watch the first five episodes together, a few days will pass, and when we want to watch it again, I’ll discover that he’s on episode 11, but “it doesn’t matter because you haven’t missed much.”

10) Whether there’s any point in him reading my blog.  He thinks that there’s no point, because he’s got “the real deal.”  I think he might be surprised at what he unearths.

**

And that’s it for today.

Oh, but this is cool:

Hello from Sweden, where it currently

gets dark at 4 pm.  Yes, that messes with your head.

I will try to be more dedicated in posting here.  Mostly because it’s a better use of my time than online T.V. and reading Dear Prudence archives.

So here are some stories that I’ve nicked from people on Facebook:

1) Jimmy Kimmel challenged American parents to tell their children they had eaten all their Halloween candy.  The responses are pretty entertaining, especially the last lecture.

2) A man decorated his entire basement with a sharpie.  It’s really cool looking.

http://www.kentucky.com/2008/09/23/532854/man-decorates-basement-with-10.html

3) Sophia (age 8) raps a Nicky Minaj song (with Nicky Menage) on Ellen.  Ridiculously cute.