General Update *salute*

Sorry if you didn’t get the vague How I Met Your Mother reference in the title, but I couldn’t help myself…

So, I’m planning a couple more “themed” posts in the near future, but honestly, I’ve been a bit of a mess recently, and couldn’t manage it.  Sometimes, I surprise even myself by how fragile I can feel.  Any change (at all) is really difficult for me, and even when I’m in the midst of change, and I know that it’s just all the unsteadiness that is making me feel anxious, sad, upset, angry, nervous, and homesick in turn, I still can’t manage to feel okay.  It’s times like these when I’m ever-so-grateful to Andreas and his endless patience and support, and when the storm is over, as I am tentatively hoping it is, I always feel the urge to somehow reward him, and I’m never quite sure how.

Anyway, my first week in the new apartment was only okay.  I wasn’t used to living with people who aren’t Andreas, and having to close the door when I pee, or not feeling comfortable going into the kitchen to have kitchen adventures whenever I please (which is one reason for the shortage of bake-y posts recently).  I had a couple of breakdowns, and felt much better afterwards, and am doing so much better now, but it wasn’t fun for a while.

Anyway!  I’m much more cheery these days, and getting used to sharing spaces, and trying to start going about my usual routine without feeling lazy, or guilty for not being more social.  I started knitting again, and have now finished the pieces for a sweater for my nephew, and now just need to get a zipper, put it all together, and knit the collar on!  When that and a few other small projects are off the needles, I’m hoping to have heard the news of whether I’ll be having a new niece or a new nephew come January, invest in a set of KnitPros and be up to my elbows in baby knitting!

Also: Andreas has a work “teambuilding” sort of activity tomorrow, which is going to take his entire Saturday.  From what I’ve heard about it so far, I’m pretty sure it’s going to make a pretty good blog post, so I’m excited to share some of his stories.  He’ll be getting home likely in the wee (or maybe not so wee) hours on Sunday morning, so although I’m losing most of my precious Andreas-weekend-time, I’m hoping some of the outrageous stories he comes back with are worth it!

Since I’ll be home alone for most of the day tomorrow, I’m hoping I can find something exciting to bake!  Hopefully some sort of double-layer cake.  I decided to forget about the fact that we’re only three(ish) people to eat whatever I make, and bake something large anyway.  I’m a bit tired of making miniatures, and my sister-in-law has a lovely springform pan that I’m dying to use, so a whole, large cake it is!  Here’s to hoping I remember to keep my camera nearby!

Speaking of the camera…I’ve been meaning to take more pictures, but I’m so used to not having a memory card and not bringing my camera with me when I go out.  I even forgot it when we went to an awesome concert on Monday, which I’m definitely bummed about.  I want to make sure I get shots of some of the cool things I pass every day without thinking about it, and so hopefully I’ll have a photo-tour of Malmö coming soon!

I’m doing much better these days, and even though some things are tough and not getting any easier (i.e. having patience while waiting for a visa and not knowing where we’re going to be living come December), right now I’m in an okay mindset to deal with it all.

But…you know…Migrationsverket, I really wouldn’t mind hearing some good news sometimes soon…say, Monday?

And now, as a reward for reading my recent, drab, photoless posts, here’s a picture of me and Andreas “smoking” some hazelnut-filled wafer-roll cookies that we bought specifically so that we could pretend to smoke them.

Can we get some common sense over here?

So by now, I’m sure that everyone has heard about  the whole Todd Akin thing.  The ignorance, the “apology,” and all of the drama that ensues.

I heard about it first on Facebook, then from my husband while he was browsing Reddit, again while reading through blogs, and finally I saw it featured on the Danish six-thirty news.  American politics are embarrassing enough, with more drama than a trashy teen television show before you mix in the real idiots.

Now, my Danish has somehow still, miraculously been improving, and I actually understood a lot of what they were saying about the incident on the news.  To be fair, none of them called anyone an idiot, and didn’t mention the word ignorance, so they were a lot more objective than I’ve already been here, but while they were discussing it, it seemed that they couldn’t quite erase the bemused expressions off of their faces.  They even said “this is quite difficult for Danes to understand.”  Overall, it was even more embarrassing to see our news being covered in Europe.  They did a small spot on it again during the morning news that I was watching while attempting to finish the sleeve of my nephew’s sweater, and the anchor asked her guest why this was even an issue in the states.  The guest responded citing that American politics are quite entwined still with religion.  A president in the US is expected to pull out a few God Bless Americas every time he makes a public appearance, while she admitted that if a Danish politician were to do the same, he would be laughed at.  She mentioned that the US tends to play to and honor Christian values instead of science and common sense.  She even managed to say it in a fair, non-judgmental tone of voice.  Kudos.

Now, if some Americans heard that, they would probably say “you bet we do, and we’re proud of it!”  but even as I look at that sentence again, I can’t help but cringe and wonder when the US is going to catch up.

As an American here in Europe, I often feel the shadow of the US following me around.  I’m often the token American, and I feel like I have to answer for everything (ridiculous as it may be) that the US does.  The “US” being politicians, corporations, psychotic individuals, etc.  The title of this blog, An American Hermit Crab in Denmark, is actually the title of one of my poems, and I’m feeling more and more like I’m carrying my “home,” the US, on my back wherever I go here.  I wish it were easier to realize that the people who leave the states to live somewhere else are often the people who aren’t the most thrilled with how things are going there, and are the last people who can really answer for the shenanigans that play out on the news.

The best part about feeling the shame of having such awful human beings as leaders in my home country is seeing people rise against them.  Maybe if things get weird enough, the general public will have a breakthrough and we’ll turn, as a country, a bit more towards science and research, and if we’re lucky, maybe towards some common sense, too.

A Year Ago

You won’t believe the number of “One Year Ago” posts I’ve been seeing lately on the blogs I read.  I’m not complaining.  They never get old, considering everybody’s one-year-ago is different, but it’s got me relentlessly thinking about one year ago in my own life.  It’s weird because the past year does not feel like it’s wrapped up neatly, has any significance, or that the disjointed parts of it even belong in the same person’s life.  A year ago, I moved to Waukegan, IL (which I hated) and met the most wonderful baby boy I’d nanny for the next few months (who I loved).

I moved to Waukegan with my husband because he had an internship nearby, and it was the only place within our budget.  When we moved in, our apartment smelled like someone had been chain-smoking in there for years, and the carpet had a sticky film of cigarette-crud all over it.  I vacuumed up cigarette-butts from under the radiators along with a couple of nails and a pen.  Our neighbors (both in the building and across the street) screamed at each other throughout the night, and I found a chunk of somebody’s weave on the sidewalk one day while I walked to the library.

Every day, I escaped to my job, a house in a nicer neighborhood with the sweetest 4-month-old baby boy.  I could forget I lived where I did, and spent the day encouraging him to roll over, listening to Oldies, and entertaining him by wiggling my feet (seriously, babies are eeeeeasy!)  Every day, I eagerly waited for Andreas to come pick me up, and while he was there, living in the Waukegan ghetto never seemed so bad.

That arrangement seems so much longer ago than it was.  I miss that baby immensely.  I got another nannying job for the evenings after Andreas left to finish his education in Denmark, and I miss that goofy baby boy, too.  As much as I didn’t enjoy living in Waukegan (especially alone!) the wonderful people I met there made it bearable, and I was even sad when I left.  I miss the babies, their families, and my knitting group, but occasionally it feels like I dreamt up the entire five months that I lived there.

My life is a lot different now.  I don’t have a job, and I actually have loved all the places I’ve lived, even though there have been far too many of them, in my opinion.  Even though the two halves of the year feel completely detached from one another, the feeling of “waiting” has permeated the entire year.  I’ve been waiting for lots of things, including but definitely not limited to: babies (of my own), our visa situation to be figured out, and being able to finally finally set up a home with Andreas.  We’ve been married for more than a year, and I’m getting more and more anxious and excited to have a place of our own to set up with our things, and decorate according to our tastes.

I’m still waiting, and probably will be for another good chunk of time, but as we set up our room in our next apartment, I’m getting a glimpse of what it will be like to set up our own place someday, and let me tell you, it looks good!

Moving Right Along

We’re in the middle of moving (for the sixth time in one year, but who’s counting, right?)  and I think I might just be getting better at it.  Maybe.  Anyway, I’m less of an emotional mess than I was for the last two weeks or so, so I’d consider that progress, even if the kitchen floor has yet to be scrubbed, and every time I go to cross something off on my long to-do list, it turns out it wasn’t even on the list.

We’ve moved the bulk of our things now, and set up our room in the new apartment (we’re renting a room in my sister-in-law’s place) and it’s looking really cozy!  We have a tall white bookshelf, and we ventured out and bought some baskets and things to put on the shelves to hold our things, and it looks great!  I’ll share some pictures when it’s a bit more done.  One thing that cheers me up significantly is that now my yarn has a home!  A real home, unlike its stuffed-into-plastic-bags-and-shoved-in-the-space-between-the-couch-and-the-well home it has had for the past few months.  Even just having my yarn so organized and accessible has made me feel a bit more inspired.  Also, we’ll be finding out the sex of our future niece or nephew in about two weeks, and I’m planning a few projects for that little baby, as well.

I’m also feeling really good about running!  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a beginner (a real beginner, not someone who’s like “oh, I’ve only been running for about a year, and I only did one marathon”) so I try not to expect too much from myself.  The C25K program has been doing wonders, and at the beginning of every week so far I’ve thought “can I really do this?” and then I do it, and I feel great, and then I do a little more.  I know you’re not supposed to do more than it says, but I started the program by run/walking for 30 minutes every time instead of 20 by accident, so now I feel like I can just…adjust it according to how I’m feeling.  So far it’s been wonderful, and I feel really proud of myself, and every time I come back to my apartment, I feel great!  I always really feel like talking to someone when I come back, all exhilerated and thirsty, but unfortunately, Andreas is always at work, and the time difference makes it so no one back home is up to talk either.  But I usually just talk to myself instead, so it all works out.

I just realized that this is also a bit of a rambly post, which is probably lingering after-effects of how good I felt this morning.

We’ll be all finished moving by sometime tomorrow, as long as I can finish the packing and cleaning without getting distracted as I have been.  Does anyone else suffer the “I-need-to-reminisce-about-and-touch-and-try-on-everything-I-am-trying-to-pack” syndrome while moving?

Time to make Nutella cookies to leave behind for our “host” and finish cleaning and packing up the kitchen!

Sanity-Saving Chocolate Cupcakes

Things are still hard.  I’m still having good days, and bad days, and the occasional mental breakdown.  It’s about time to move again.  We were supposed to move next Wednesday, but we might be putting it off a few more weeks, as the person we’re subletting from might not be coming back.  Might.  Maybe.  Even though I’d like to stay here a bit longer before moving, all this uncertainty is getting to me.  It might not seem like a big deal, but amid all of the other uncertainty and “stuckedness” it’s really frustrating and disheartening.

There’s not much that seems to help sometimes when everything gets so overwhelming, but having little things to look forward to, and to take my mind of off whatever is happening (or not happening) in the big picture does perk me up a bit.  These chocolate cupcakes are exactly that.  Even Andreas loves them, and he doesn’t have nearly the sweet tooth that I have.  I’ve found that the people I’ve met here in general aren’t really big fans of frosting, but this one can capture anyone’s heart, and it has.  It’s more buttery and rich than sweet, and the cupcakes are wonderfully fluffy and chocolatey.

Now, as I’m making my way through another rough patch, I feel the urge to make these today.  These and soft pretzels…but we’ll see how far I get.  The cupcake recipe is the base of these delicious-looking hostess-style cupcakes.  When I baked them, they ended up perfectly domed on the top, and I decided they were better suited to a pile of silky frosting.

The buttercream recipe is the one my mom has always used that she got from her mom, and maybe that’s why these are so comforting to me.  With buttercream, it’s generally suggested that you let it sit out for a while before serving, so it can soften, but I’ve always preferred it straight from the refrigerator, and so does Andreas.  Something about the solidity of it melting slowly on my tongue is like a mix between frosting and ice cream, and brings me back to almost every birthday my family celebrated while we were growing up (which were many, because we were a family of nine!).

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup (60 g) butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
3/4 cup milk (I used chocolate oat milk to make it extra-chocolatey and more Andreas-friendly)
1 tsp. vanilla (I use vanilla sugar)

Melt butter over low heat.  Add flour and cocoa powder, then gradually add milk.
Cook until it boils and thickens, stirring constantly.  Cool to room temperature (this is super important!  I usually put mine in the fridge for a while) and then add vanilla.

Cream 1/2 cup (120 grams) of softened butter with 1 cup sugar.  Add the “pudding” mixture and beat for about five minutes, until it reaches a nice spreadable consistency and all the sugar granules are dissolved.


Guess what we just finished!

Well, it’s done.  We now have a fat envelope of papers filed neatly into plastic sleeves which are numbered, and indexed to perfection.  If Denmark doesn’t say yes to this, I don’t know what would convince them.  That’s right, our visa application for Denmark is finished!

It’s been a busy couple of months getting it ready.  One might think “how much work can that really be?  Just get together your certificates, copy a few passports, staple it all together and voila!” but one is most definitely wrong, when it comes to a Danish visa application.  I have to admit to a twinge of jealousy when my sister who lives with her husband in Malaysia, just had to go down to the embassy and “get” her spouse visa while I sit here wondering whether or not I will cry with relief when mine (after months and months of anxiety, worry, and paperwork) comes through.

Andreas has done the majority of the research, posting often on Ægteskab Uden Grænser.  They have helped so much, and I know we wouldn’t be where we are without them.  I feel so fortunate, and I hope that eventually we might be able to say thank you, or pass on the support we’ve had.  Now that it’s all packaged up, only waiting for an index and out next move before we send it in, we both feel a sense of almost-relief.  It’ll be final next Wednesday when we post it, and then, again, we wait.

While in the process, I have learned countless things, a few of which I will share with you here:

  • You will use 150 paperclips faster than you ever imagined.
  • If you think an envelope is big enough, you’re probably wrong.  Buy a bigger one.
  • Even if the answer-box looks very big, write very small.
  • Smile a little when you get ID pictures taken.  Apparently even small, cute me can look threatening when I’m serious.
  • Patience, patience, and a little more patience
  • You’ll get to know your local copy machine pretty well.
  • Take a day off, always venture outside to stave off the “meh”s and the “bleh”s
  • You think you have enough proof that you have lived in Sweden?  Get more proof.
  • There is no limit to the number of times a gluestick can be lost.
  • If we can get through all of this together, we can get through almost anything.

It’s been frustrating and difficult, and it’s far from over, but boy will I be glad when it is.  I’d like to say “bring it on Denmark!”  but what I really mean is “please, Denmark?  Please?”

Almost ready to be signed, sealed, and delivered.


Olympics, of course!

I LOVE the Olympics.  I love the Olympics.  Which might seem weird, because I’m not “into sports” so to say, but there’s something about the Olympics…

And I have to say, this year I even have extra love for the Olympics.  For one, it’s providing me with a distraction, so I don’t dwell on how soon we have to move (again) to another (temporary) apartment.  And trust me, having a distraction is almost necessary at this point.  Any prolonged thought given to the fact that I don’t have a permanent home on the horizon is pretty detrimental to my mental health.  I’m fed up.

But anyway, back to the Olympics!  There are three big things that I’ve been noticing as I watch this year.  We are lucky enough to get two Danish channels here in Sweden, so we’ve been watching on those.  First of all, I can’t say how happy I am that they air badminton!  I’ve always loved badminton, but I have almost never seen it played professionally before.  In the US I think it’s considered more of a joke sport, which is really unfair, and I’ve never seen coverage of it, even during the Olympics.  They also show a lot more of things like rowing and handball (which is now, hands down, my favorite team sport to watch…pun sort-of intended).  I guess I’m just lucky that my taste in sports is pretty similar to that of the Danes’.

The second thing that has made this Olympics even more of a pleasure to watch is that I’m cheering for Denmark.  Four years ago, while I watched the 2008 games, I had no idea I would be meeting my future husband in a week, or that he would be Danish, or that the next time the Olympics rolled around, I’d have a new loyalty.  That’s right.  I said it.  I’m not really cheering for the US.  That’s not to say I’m “un-cheering” for them, and if there aren’t any Danes in competition, I’ll root for the American, but I’m not super-excited about any of the medals they win.  And you know why?  It’s because they win so many!

I know that the US sends many fantastic athletes to compete in the Olympics, and that’s definitely something to be proud of, but isn’t it just a little boring when you expect to win medals across the board?   I’ve been having more fun this year, cheering on the Danish team because they don’t win everything, and they don’t mind or think that they deserve to win.  It’s always more fun to cheer for the underdogs.  The Danes are happy for any medal they can get, whether it’s bronze, silver, or gold, and they’re often happy to come in fourth or fifth, too!  There’s no attitude of expectation or entitlement, just enthusiasm and anticipation!

Which brings me to my third point.  Somehow, my Danish is managing to get better, despite the fact that we hardly remember to speak it, and I mostly watch Swedish television.  Anyway, the point is that I’m starting to understand a lot more of the Danish commentary than I expected to.  Now, I don’t understand all of it, so I can’t tell you if the sort-of subtle sexism is present, and I never watched very many sports in the states, so I can’t really compare it to other commentary I’ve heard, but I really enjoy it.  Their voices raise and get excited when the game is close, and they congratulate their opponents on a good play or hard-won point.  Also, they shut up when there’s nothing to say.  I like that a lot.

I’ve been watching badminton (with a smattering of tennis and rowing) all day, and I’m looking forward to the Danish handball game tonight.  I have to say that I have a soft spot for the Danish men’s handball team.  They’re just so cute, and I also think it’s a bit sweet how proud Denmark is of them (they won the Euro cup earlier this year).  Hooray for the Olympics!!