Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Freezing in the Dark in Stockholm

Moving to Sweden has been quite the adventure. For all kinds of reasons. And I’ve liked a lot of things. And I’ve complained about a lot of things. And the complaints sometimes might seem to drown out the likes. Maybe because it’s the complaints that seem to add that little extra spice to this adventure. But despite this realization, I’ve got a couple more complaints. Because it’s been a rough last couple of days here in the apartment.

Let me start out by saying that I have no electricity or heating bill. It is included in my rent. For better or worse. And in this case I think it is for worse.

Anyway, as a general rule, I can handle the cold. I usually sleep with the window open no matter the temperature outside. The last couple of days here in Stockholm have seen a lot of snow. Which is not a complaint at all. I love it. Snow is hard to beat in my opinion. But the snow means that it is a bit colder than it was at this time last November. Which is also fine, because last November I complained about the rain. So the snow is a welcome reprieve. I have no complaints. At least not about the weather.

About my apartment I definitely have complaints. Because the last few days the heat hasn’t worked. The heat is centrally controlled through two radiators, one in each of the rooms. Somehow this keeps 40 some square meter of apartment warm. Radiators seem to be the common form of heating throughout Sweden. And they make it work. But in my case, the centrally controlled radiators mean that I have no control. I was warned of this. I received a bit of information when I moved in. One piece that stood out was about the centrally controlled heat. The advice was simple. It told me to put on a sweater if I got cold. Good advice.

But the last few days I’ve been freezing. I thought I was just being a wuss. So I put on my ski vest and my beanie and fought through. After a day of that though I decided to investigate. Because come on, I know I’m close to the Arctic Circle and all but I shouldn’t need to wear a beanie inside. The radiators were ice cold. Dead. Awesome. Turns out that the last few days weren’t really my fault.

Luckily, the maintenance man was running around taking care of the problem. Seems someone must have complained. And this afternoon I had heat again. So things were looking up.

Until dinner time. I had decided it was time to cook myself another delicious meal. This time I was thinking spaghetti and meatballs. Because even I can cook spaghetti and warm up frozen meatballs. So out I went to turn on the lights. And bam. There went the electricity in the kitchen/living room. Which is unfortunate because the kitchen is where I keep my fridge. And my food.

So after some consultation with the old man to figure out these crazy Swedish knob breakers I had managed to switch them out and get electricity to the kitchen, but not to the bathroom and bedroom. At least my food was saved.

I ran to the grocery store in hopes of finding a few new breakers so I didn’t have to shower in the dark. I managed to find them. Behind, what looked to me, like a year’s supply of tampons and maxi pads. And by behind I mean I couldn’t get to them unless I moved the tower of feminine products. Which wouldn’t have been so bad. Except for the woman standing at this tower reading the different packages apparently struggling to decide if she was having a heavy flow day. She was in her late 30s. She’s probably been having her period for maybe 20-25 years. It can’t be that hard, can it?

Anyway, I waited patiently. And by patiently, I mean awkwardly mingled about pretending to look for something else so she didn’t think I was watching her pick out tampons. She finally made her decision. I moved the mountain of maxis and found what I needed. I was going to have electricity. I wasn’t going to sit in the bathroom in darkness. My food wasn’t going to spoil. I was going to be ok.

I bought an already grilled chicken to boot. Because clearly the electricity going out was a sign that I should not be cooking tonight.

Welcome to Sweden.

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  1. Hahaha, I am surprised though, that someone finally called the maintenance, or maybe one of your neighbours isn't Swedish. By the way, judging by the amount of patience you have displayed, you are becoming quite Swedish too. :)

    An advice from a native of a cold country with un unstable economy: if the fridge does not work, a bag with all the frozen foods hung outside the window works just as fine. :)

  2. id say its about time to be hittin the ol' dusty trail...... new place style

    - c

  3. @costa - it's true. Ive clearly been here too long. or Im just an idiot.

    but that is a genius idea. I love it. next time the power goes out and I dont have a breaker my food is at least saved.

    @anonymous - seriously.

  4. Hej! vill bara säga att jag gillar din blogg!! Ska rekommendera den för min amerikanska klasskamrat som alltid vill att jag ska berätta för henne om Sverige =)/Emma

  5. Glad you enjoy it, and definitely pass it along to your friends!

  6. I like your blog, too. (I'm a Swede, and it's always interesting to get some other perspective than the usual...)

    How does Am. breakers look, and what is different about them?

  7. thanks, glad youve been enjoying it.

    to answer your question though, they tend to be more tab-like with a switch on them.

    so instead of those big white knobs sticking out you usually have a small little cupboard-like door that you open up to reveal a line of circuit breakers sunken into the wall. these have little switches on them.

    I'm not sure if thats really the best way to describe them but hopefully that gives some sort of an idea.

  8. Ha, welcome to my world :) Do yourself a favour and buy a mobile radiator to get extra heat. At least you don't have to buy for electricity! And, if you move, you'll already have a plan B with you!

  9. thats a good call. if they dont get this heat thing figured out soon I might have to.

    apparently they are going to be coming in in the next week or two to change the radiators.

    we'll see.

  10. There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. ;)

  11. Det finns inget dåligt väder bara dåliga kläder