Sköldpaddan äter jordgubben
These are just two of my favorite words
I’ve spent the last several days walking around my apartment whispering “skölpaddan” (pronounced “fhwhil-pahd-dan”) quietly to myself and giggling. And once I learned “jordgubben” and it was all over. There’s something so phonetically pleasing to me about the phrase “skölpaddan äter jordgubben” (the turtle is eating the strawberry) that I keep repeating it, mantra-like, without ever reaching semantic saturation.
Swedish is the first language I’ve attempted to learn without the ulterior motive of impressing a crush. Over the years and in the name of love I’ve attempted Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and German, none of which resulted in so much as a date. But choosing a language simply because I wanted to learn it? Never been done.
But I knew things were getting serious when I found myself snuggling back under the covers this weekend to work through an excessive amount of Duolingo exercises. If you haven’t spent a lazy Sunday morning in bed sipping coffee, flanked on either side by napping cats, and trying to work out the differences between å and ä as the sun filters in through a giant picture window, I strongly recommend it.
While I’ve nabbed a textbook as well as a compilation of beginner-friendly short stories, I’m holding off on online classes until I can confidently say this latest interest is commitment-worthy and not just a fling. In lieu of classes I’ve been immersed in several Swedish TV series on Netflix, which have been so incredibly stellar that I’ve binged two over them over the course of a week.
The description for Anxious People reads “A bank robber holds the visitors of an open house hostage and then promptly vanishes, leaving the police baffled — and suspicious of everyone.” leading me to believe I was about to embark upon a police procedural, which Anxious People is, but also isn’t! In a limited series six episode run — based on the novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman — the show is equal parts mystery and heart, and has a twist ending that was so far removed from what American culture has taught me to expect that it defied belief. The entire series is sweet and charming and worth the three or so hours to watch.
And then there’s Love & Anarchy. To say that I am smitten with this show is an absolute understatement. I’ve spent days trying to articulate what I love about this show and cannot progress much farther than sighing, clapping my hands, tearing up, and squealing. It’s the only show that I’ve finished and immediately gone back to the very first episode for an immediate re-watch.
This isn’t a show that everyone will enjoy, and in many ways it is laser-focused on women in their late 30s to early 40s who have lived their lives according to the expectations of others and have finally had enough — an audience that may be too niche for us to get the third season that I am absolutely begging for, but we’re out here!
The show is restrainedly transgressive in its explorations of capitalism, power dynamics, love, technology, and grief, all spiraling out from its setting in a small and struggling Stockholm-based publishing house. Every episode is 30-ish minutes of raw honesty that illuminates the mess and the magic created when two people simultaneously and enthusiastically commit to the bit. It’s so easy to play it safe and to live small among the shadows of others that when you’re ready to stand on your own and you encounter someone who can not only keep up, but also meet you where you are each and every time, Love & Anarchy asks, do you take the leap?