Monday, August 22, 2011

Kraftskiva: Crayfish Party and Shit Fish

Since my blog is titled "A Blonde in Sweden", thought I'd move past the blonde moments and focus a bit on the Swedish ones for this post.

Boy you Swedes sure have invented plenty of excuses to drink yourselves (and your foreign guests) into oblivion. From The King's Birthday to Midsummer, the summer itself of course, every weekend and now we have discovered The Chaos of Crayfish that descends upon Sweden just as everyone returns from the summer hiatus of July.

I still consider ourselves newbies here but this past weekend, we were invited to not one but TWO "kräftskiva's"...that's Crayfish for you non-Swedes. These parties involve a) Bringing and eating your own crayfish, pre-packaged and available at all the grocery stores b) Wearing funny hats and c) Singing Swedish drinking songs (for which lyrics are provided!) and shooting Swedish schnapps. d) Getting really drunk, and likely equally sick, which according to Swedes is due to the crayfish juice and whatever alcoholic beverage you're consuming not getting along in your tummy.

Me and the friend having a crayfish fight. Silly hats..check.

Optional: Cheese pie. But a special kind of cheese pie called Vasterbotten (sp?). It's yummy.

WARNING!!!!!! Please be advised that should you be attending a proper Kraftskiva, there will another "special" dish on the table. And it's not "special" in the nice way either. It's "special" in that other way. You'll know it. Not when you see it, but when you smell it. It's fermented herring "surströmming" and its scent is likely extracted from the EXCREMENT plant. "Eau de SHIT". As my hubby so lovingly commented, "The only good thing about this is that you can fart within a 50 meter radius and noone would know it was you." If someone says to you, "This is the shit." when referring to this traditional fish, they mean it literally.

One of these things is not like the other. I'll give you a hint. It's in the red can!!!!!!!!!

It was pouring rain during this first Kräftskiva and under normal circumstances I would consider the walled-in tent protecting us from the elements a welcome solution. Unfortunately, it was keeping the element in. Sorry, elementS as there were six cans of this whoop ass (again, take that literally) strategically placed on the long tables for all to uhmmm...enjoy?

Being the sports we are and no thanks to hubby's rationale of "There's no way it can taste as bad as it smells", we tried it. The idea is to grease up two pieces of flat brad, load some potatoes onto it and sandwich the fermented herring between them. Let's just say I will forever question hubby's rationalization skills from that moment forward. It.was.awful. So horrific that I had to spit it into my napkin, unapologetically I might add. I spent the next ten minutes flushing the taste sensation from my abused mouth with copious amounts of alcohol.

To be fair, according to Swedes, you either Love it or you Hate it. In my humble opinion, they need to bring back Fear Factor and put this on the menu in place of cockroaches and larvae. If I had the choice, bring on the bull testicles!

So, this was Crayfish Party #1. I refused to enter Crayfish Party #2 the next evening until I was absolutely certain red cans were nowhere in sight. I'm still having flashbacks...

You're welcome for the warning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bad Friend

It's been called to my attention recently, and rightfully so, that I've been a bad friend. And that got me thinking about all of you. Granted, I really don't know how many of you are out there but this January, I disappeared. And those of you who know me personally, reached out to me via Facebook asking what was up. I can only imagine how that must have felt, you regular readers getting a nice little "Access Denied" when loading my blog page. I know my first thought would have been, "Have I done something wrong?" The answer is "Nothing, I'm the one that did something wrong." I know fellow bloggers who announce an absence. I did not.

I owe you all an explanation AND an apology. I panicked when I found out that my well-meaning husband shared my blog address with a group of people this blog was not intended for and well, I shut it down until the smoke cleared. And then kept it shut down for 8 long months with nary an explanation or thought to those friendships I had developed here in cyberspace. And I have realized, thanks to this dear friend, that just because I can't see or speak to you personally, does not mean that you haven't been actual friends to me since I started this blog two or so years ago.

Many of you have cried with me, laughed with me and been there for me. And I too, had attempted to do the same for many of you. And then, one day, I discarded you all. And I'm so sorry.

The friend who called attention to my bad friend status had been a friendship that blossomed in cyberspace but also a person I had a physical friendship with. We had met, shared a wonderful day together and then for almost a year, we had little contact. My initial reaction when I read her email was to say, "Well, you didn't reach out to me either!" but if the shoe were on the other foot, I likely would have had her same reaction. "Is it something I said/did?" The answer is an honest "No." But the truth is, I left a beautiful, blossoming friendship without the nurturing it deserved and then I had the nerve to wonder how it could have died. And worse, try to "explain it away."

I've been thinking long and hard about how I could have let this happen. "I've been busy with work/parenting, etc." "They never reached out to me." "Sometimes you just drift apart". "Real friends can go long periods of time without speaking but when they do, it's like no time has passed." Excuses, excuses.

Having lived in two different countries in the last five years, I've gone through periods of loneliness, complaining about my lack of flesh and blood friends. You've all read the posts. Well, after 2 and a half years here in Sweden, I have developed some dear physical friendships but have ignored those more "virtual ones", the ones that sustained me and held me up during those periods of loneliness. And that's wrong and makes me feel sad, guilty and shallow. But it's not about "me, me, me" and how I feel and I don't expect anyone to pat me on the back and say "there, there". Not after this long absence. I don't expect anything in return for this post. But it is an apology. And it's up to all of you if you accept it or not.

I am asking for your forgiveness but do not expect it. Today I will reach out to those bloggy friends individually, who have been there for me and apologize personally.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your friendship.
Sincerity, Honesty and Love, SwedishJenn