An American Hermit Crab in Denmark in Denmark

So today’s writing prompt was about tweaking your title and tagline.  The funny thing is, that I’ve been thinking about doing that for about eight months.  See, I’ve been living in Sweden, waiting out visa issues, so I thought I should change my blog title to An American Hermit Crab in Sweden, but I felt like that was giving up.  After all, Sweden was just this in-betweeny phase that was supposed to be over with rather quickly.  The longer I lived in Sweden, the more guilty I felt about my blog title.  Voices would hiss in my ear every time I opened up the page “you’re not reeeeeeeeally in Denmark.” 

I guess I should explain that the title actually is a line in a poem I wrote that’s part of a collection.  It’s partly almost-literal, in that I feel often that I’m carrying my home around with me (though in the form of a green suitcase, not a shell painted to look like a soccer ball), but also in that I feel like I carry America on my back everywhere I go.  I am American and though I might give up my citizenship in the future, I’ll always be from America and sometimes that feels like a lot to carry around.  I carry around the judgements people make about Americans, the stereotypes, and feel responsible to every move America makes.  I feel more American than I ever had to while I was actually living there.

So the title is really quite symbolic, and not literal (much to the dismay of the many, many people who are led to my blog through google searches about hermit crab care).

But it’s funny, the day that I’m invited to change my blog title is the very day that I don’t feel like I should any longer.  That’s right.  Guess who’s moving to Denmark!  We signed the lease for an apartment today and can start moving in…well basically today.  I feel like I’m on the verge of something huge, and I’m so excited.  We’re starting to plan our moving-in, when we can do what things, and where and when we can buy which things, and who can help us.  Tomorrow is going to be List-Making Friday.  Let the organized craziness begin!

I’m so, so excited to be moving, and even more excited because our apartment is fantastic.  Like, super great.  Pictures to come.

Oh, also, with all this moving-and-decorating-and-finally-making-a-place-our-own, I think I’m beginning to understand pinterest.  This could be dangerous.

There’s Good News and there’s…news about me freaking out.

The good news is that Andreas got his job!!  I’m awfully proud of him, and so happy.  Not just because him having a job and a source of income is a relief to us, but because he was really excited after the interview, and eager to work there.  I know he must be nervous, but he doesn’t that *that* nervous, so I’m not worried about him.  I’m just proud my husband is employable!  To most people who have been employable and employed for long periods of time, this might not seem remarkable, but I feel so very, very unemployable here, that it seems like a miracle!

We’ve been keeping somewhat busy over the last few weeks, sometimes watching our nephew, doing errands and errands and errands.  Andreas’s job is across the Øresund in Copenhagen, which means he faces an hour and a half of commute each way while we are staying here in Malmø.  He’s okay with that, but to me, it means spending 12 hours a day, Andreas-less (and anyone-else-less, as I’ve yet to meet anyone here in Malmø).  It also means that we have some leftover errands that I have to do on my own (handing in my permit application, doing things like going to the bank, going grocery shopping, picking up packages, and even apartment shopping).  This would normally make me nervous, even in the states.  I call myself a gutless anxiety-ball, Andreas calls me a “gentle soul.”  He’s pretty nice.

Anyway, I’ve always gotten nervous before I leave the house, even in elementary, middle, high school, and college I got this nervous bellyache every morning as I put on my jacket and shoes to catch the bus.  Even after college, the only thing that got me out the door on Saturday mornings for errands was the fact that it was the only time of the week I wasn’t working during bank hours, and I was nearly out of cheese.  A girl can’t live without cheese.

Usually after I get out, I generally enjoy myself.  Even being out doing errands, I’d usually see a cute baby or two who would boost my spirits, and I’d come back feeling much better than I did before I left.

But here, in Sweden, it’s a whole different story.  Some moments in the day I feel SO BRAVE.  I feel like I can go out there, pick up my packages, go to the library, and walk down the Swedish street, courageous and impervious to anxiety.  Most other moments I feel like I’ll never be able to.  Like I’ll never push myself out this door without Andreas to hide behind.  But there are some things that I HAVE to do, like my permit application.

I know that doing businessy things in a strange country is an intimidating thing to begin with.  I’m sure that other people have struggled with the exact same thing.  But I feel like…they MUST be braver than me.  I feel like everyone is braver than me.  Maybe they are.  I’m going to try really hard to face my fears and be okay out there alone in Sweden.

I’m also going to join the American Women’s Club in Malmø and try to meet some people.  But to be honest, being not alone in a foreign country is perhaps more frightening than being alone in a foreign country.  I’m not just terrified of going out in public.  Social situations are even worse. But I’m going to try!

But I’m trying to think of how brave Andreas is for starting a new job and traveling back and forth between Denmark and Sweden every day, and I feel like I have to be able to do this.  There’s a blog I read by another Midwestern transplant in Sweden (you can find it here).  In one of her posts about learning language, she talks about being brave, and how one thing she does, when she’s not feeling particularly brave, is to pretend she’s doing it for one of her little sisters.  This really struck a chord with me, because the only time I’ve ever interacted alone with a Dane in Denmark who wasn’t my family, was this one time when I was at Ikea with a friend who was from Hawai’i there for the wedding.  We wanted cinnamon rolls, and although she picked up “ja” pretty quickly, she probably couldn’t order a cinnamon roll, so I did.  I had to.  How else was I going to get her a cinnamon roll?  (They ended up being out of cinnamon rolls, but that’s beside the point.)

If all else fails, I’ll just hum “be brave…and then be strong” from Mr. Rogers under my breath any time I leave the house.  Maybe that’ll work.

Laundry Day

Yesterday marked our first laundry day in Sweden, and while this may seem like a mundane task that’s not worth writing about (and it probably is for someone who has done something more exciting than making a good pot of soup in the last week) I quite enjoyed it.  Let me tell you why.

First of all, we have a “sign-up” sort of board for the laundry room in the basement of our building.  Everyone has a little knob that unlocks with a key, and you lock it in to the time slot and date that you want to do your laundry:

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It sounded very silly at first–like adults can’t share a washing room unsupervised, but after thinking about it, I love this system!  First of all, you don’t have to walk down all four flights of stairs to go find out if someone’s already using the washing machine in the first place.  I also like that no one accidentally leaves a damp load in the washer all day, leaving you with the option of procrastinating laundry day or awkwardly touching someone else’s underwear.  (This is made especially awkward if the person comes in while you’re in the process).  With the language barrier I face here, I don’t think I’d be able to endure the embarrassment.

Apparently our building just got a couple of new washers which is pretty cool, especially considering the fact that I’m pretty sure they had some sort of air-lock doors which made me feel like I was doing laundry in space!

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Next step: drying!  We had the choice between a dryer that looked like it could dry ME in 3 minutes flat, and a “drying closet” which I was a bit too intimidated to try.  To be honest, I was afraid I would somehow burn my clothes, or that the closet was a secret entrance into Narnia’s laundry room.  I just moved to Sweden, I don’t need any other big adventures at the moment…

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Of course, not everything about laundry in Sweden is wonderful.  This, which I pass on my way through the basement, is where I can only assume that people are taken and killed during those long, dark winter nights.

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On that note, have a happy laundry day!

Moving to Sweden (and the 70s)

My husband and I are in Sweden now, just hanging out…you know…living.  In Sweden.

We’re living in a sublet for now, fully furnished and everything, while we wait to find out what happens with Andreas’s job search, visa stuff, etc.  Anyway, I just thought I’d post a few pictures of the sweet place we get to stay!  I only wish we could stay a bit longer, but honestly, I just can’t wait until we get to live somewhere permanent.

I was talking to a friend of mine from high school who has been studying in Germany, then back in the states, then back in Germany, being an au pair, etc.  Anyway, the point is that we’ve both been moving around an awful lot, and we were talking about how much we’re looking forward to settling down a bit (probably not the sentiments of most of our 22-year-old peers).  That being said, I’m trying to “live in the moment” and check out where I’m living, at the moment!