Busy!

I have been busy!

The past several months I’ve been vaguely wondering to myself how I’ll be able to handle it when I’m busy.  I’ve felt stressed out and anxious just being a housewife and waiting for visas, and I thought “how am I going to survive when I actually have stuff to be stressed out about?!”

It turns out that my anxiety is pretty much the same, no matter how much stuff I have going on in my life.  If I don’t have things to feel stressed about, I feel anxious about leaving the house.  If I don’t have to leave the house, I feel anxious that I *should* leave the house.  The past few days have been sort of a whirlwind, and we have a lot to figure out, but I feel just as or even less stressed than I normally do.  I’m perfectly confident that when I have to start language classes, I’ll definitely be nervous, but I’ll be fine.  I won’t fall to pieces.  I’ll just sweat a lot, stutter a bit, and be perfectly fine.

If anything, having real things to stress about really helps my anxiety.  Last week, I was preoccupied with getting an apartment, and as I got myself ready to run to knitting group, I realized that I was so preoccupied that I wasn’t even nervous!  I just kissed Andreas, ran out the door, and was fine!

Anyway, before I start anything life-changing like going to class multiple times a week, we have to complete the actual move.  We’re hopfeully moving most of our stuff tomorrow, so I’ve been a packing maniac today!  It started off slow, but has picked up and I’m nearly finished already!  We’re not going to move in completely until we have internet there, so we can look important stuff up like how to get places and “leaky faucet fixes,” so until then we’re going to be staying in Sweden, but without all of our stuff.  Should be fun.

This is my life today:

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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.

Emporia! (and apartment-hunting)

So today we trekked across the Øresund again to check out another apartment.  This one was in a nice area, close to a train station, but pretty far from Andreas’s workplace, and the apartment itself wasn’t great.  Actually it was pretty bad, so we didn’t take it.  I think that with work, it would be a good place to live (de-carpeting, bathroom overhaul, etc.)  but since it was too small to start a family in, it wasn’t worth putting in the work and leaving soon afterwards, so the search continues.  On the way back home, we stopped off at the new mall, Emporia!  It’s apparently the biggest mall in Scandinavia now.  It just opened a week and a half ago, but it was still mega-jammed in there.  I don’t think we actually even went into any stores…

Anyway, the design is pretty neat, and like any devoted blogger, I definitely forgot my camera at home, so you’ll have to trust me on that one.  It’s divided into color sections with colored escalators etc.  so that was pretty cool.  We spent most of the time just exploring, walking along the super-crowded halls and spent forever getting a bit of food in the food court.  We couldn’t find a table in the “food court” area, but managed to find an empty bench after meandering a bit more and heading home.  It’s no Mall of America, but I think once the crowds have thinned out a bit, it will be a nice place to wander and shop, if that’s your thing.  We wanted to go before we move to Denmark, and are glad we did, but probably won’t be back.

Now we’re resting our weary legs before having leftovers for dinner and getting cozy with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

“Vacation”

I’ve been gone for a bit, and with good reason!  Now that I’m allowed in Denmark, we made the trip to go visit Andreas’s family for his dad’s birthday!  Rebekka took advantage of knowing her trip back would be free and came out to visit for the week.  I can get a bit anxious having guests and being rousted from my daily routine, but it was perfect.  We went out shopping, did a bit of baking and even managed to work on the game we’re making together.  While shopping, we solidified that we have opposite tastes in everything from men to dishtowels to whether or not we liked our owl candle-holders with open or closed eyes, and still manage to never argue about it.  It was altogether a great week, and it was really lovely to have the company.

I’m glad I’m finally at the point where I’m so comfortable with his sister that I don’t have to worry about anxiety, and I can just relax and enjoy myself.  We’ve definitely spent the most time together out of anyone in his family, so I’m probably the most comfortable around her (and his mom because she’s pretty much me, thirty years later) but I know the rest of the family is close behind.  I know I say it often, but I sometimes can’t get over how lucky and happy I am to have such a wonderful in-law family.  Being so far away from my own is difficult, but it’s funny how literally “at home” I feel at his parents’ cozy house and it really makes the distance easier.

The weekend was fantastic.  Andreas set up his parents’ new internet package and reinstalled his dad’s computer, and I think I mostly sat around.  Another of my sisters-in-law is pregnant and at the point where it’s definitely noticeable, but the belly is still a manageable (and super cute!) size.  I’m super looking forward to January and meeting the new baby (and hoping (and hoping) that we’ll be living in Copenhagen by then).  I’m also looking forward to just living nearby while the baby grows up, and getting to know her and her husband better.  As much as I’m interested in pregnancy (and babies!), want to study it, and read blogs and articles about it, no one close to me has ever been pregnant.  I mean that in both the emotional and very literal sense, since my sister has been pregnant twice, but both times in Malaysia, so I wasn’t really “witness” to it.  Seeing such a round pregnant belly on someone I actually knew *before* they were pregnant gave me a jolt and made it seem so real as silly as that sounds.  Now, if you can believe it, I’m more impatient than ever, but I know that our chance is just around the corner, so I’m working hard not to become  manic with baby fever.  The good news was I finally got to give them the things I’d been working on!

They were well-received, but Andreas was sad to see the owl go, so I’m going to see if I can make a mini-owl out of the leftover yarn I have just for him.  I’ve told him he can’t have one until we have a baby on the way, but I don’t think he can be bought, unfortunately…

The weekend was just what we’ve been needing.  Even just going to his parents’ house was a wonderful break from reality.  Now, I’m well aware that our reality isn’t that bad, but I just feel so insecure these days, feeling like I don’t belong here in Malmö anymore, but not having a place in Denmark, and not knowing when we’ll find one.  It was good to forget the stress for a while, and just enjoy being with each other and the family.  I even had a few tears swimming in my eyes as we pulled away from his parents’ house, ever-so-reluctant to come back to Sweden and our Swedish problems.

No good apartment-related news in the mail today, but I guess there’s always tomorrow….

And So It (sorta) Begins

So it’s been neary a week since we received our wonderful news!  Our fabuous news!  The news I have been dreaming about getting for literally years.  I’m allowed in Denmark.

Throughout the day, after we got the news, we’d find ourselves just looking at each other and saying “we got it!”  I was finally going to start my real life in Denmark!  I could get a job, go to school, have a bank account!  It was glorious!  But it was also…the same.  The Tuesday after we’d gone to the immigration office was the same as the Tuesday before we’d gone. I watched Seventh Heaven at 11:20, and made tortellini soup.  Everything we’d dreamed about could finally come to fruition, but quite honestly, life is going on as before until we find an apartment.

And just let me tell you that finding an apartment in Copenhagen is no joke.  I’ve been scrolling through listings on various sites, only to have Andreas come home from work and tell me that the site I am looking at was widely discredited and had lots of fake postings to fill the void between the far-too-few genuine ones.

We sent an application in last week to the municipality in which Andreas works, hoping that they’ll be able to find us something (they often help people relocate if they work there, etc.) but I don’t really fully understand what it actually is (if it’s a private thing, or a government thing, etc.)  The thing is, I’m a bit lost.  I don’t really know how things are done over here.  Nothing’s going to change or move forward until we have the apartment (I don’t actually get the actual permit until I move there, right now I have a paper that says I will get a permit), and I’m not so sure it’s going to be all that soon.

Regardless, it’s nice to know that in the near future we’ll be moving, but we both admitted last week to a feeling of let-down as daily life continued even after our tremendous news.

So that’s sort of still where I am.  The change coming up is big and not just a little scary, so I’m nervous but also tremendously excited.  Or rather, I will be when we find a place to live.  Any tips or leads are welcome.

Meanwhile, I’m hosting what will probably be the last knitting group I host here, so the next few days are baking-days.  I can’t say much about the days following that one, though I do hope that I will soon be occupied with coming up with creative ways to use the food in our pantry instead of buying any more, locating the packaging tape in the store, and figuring out the cheapest way to move our junk from here to Denmark.

100th Post!

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging lull recently.  To tell the silly truth, it’s because I was coming up on my 100th post, and wanted to do something special for it, and couldn’t decide what to do!  But I’ve learned that if you procrastinate long enough, your 100th blog post will basically write itself!

In my last post, I wrote about a letter we’d gotten from the Danish immigration office asking me to come to the service center with my passport (something you’re supposed to do when you hand in your application, but we mailed ours).  Since I didn’t have a Swedish permit yet (it’s still under consideration, six months later), I didn’t think I should go over the border.  We made several calls and no one really seemed to know what we should do, however, Andreas’s helpful forum came to our rescue again, and we were advised to just go, so we planned to go on Monday (yesterday).

The weekend was fantastic.  I had just recovered from being sick, we got to babysit a one-year-old on Saturday morning (best morning!) and we went out for leisurely shoe and grocery shopping on Sunday, and then remembered that we have a ping-pong table in the basement, and played for hours!   We kept our minds off of the following day, trying not to hope, fearing for the worst, and preparing for the mediocre.

Sunday night I got one of the worst nights of sleep.  I woke up what seemed like every few minutes, and when I woke up at 4:48 am I was just relieved that it was close enough to the time my alarm was supposed to go off that I could finally just get up.  I had enough time to get dressed, and even put on some makeup (which I mostly only do when I’m nervous or excited).  I made sure to pee before I left (which is priority #1, if you know me) and we left on time!  We took the train which was kind of fun for me still (although I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough), and when we got to our stop, we had to walk about twenty minutes to get to the service center, so we arrived at about 7 am.

Here’s where the trouble started.   Andreas swore that it opened at 8, and that they let people in to wait half an hour early (at 7:30), but it turns out it doesn’t open until 8:30 and we can’t get in until 8.  Now it wasn’t freezing out, and I wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t suddenly have to pee.  That glass of orange juice I had chugged before I left suddenly sounded like a terrible idea.  Over the next hour, I progressed from being uncomfortable, to having to pee so badly that I had to sit on the steps and breathe through the pain.  However, I am proud to say that I made it through to 8:00 and left Andreas to take a number while I ran (literally) to the nearest bathroom.

Now, that was probably too much information, but the point is that after I finally (finally) got to pee, I felt so good, that I was prepared for anything.  If they scolded me for coming to Denmark without a visa, so be it.  At least I wasn’t bursting with orange juice.  We got number 11, so we didn’t have to wait long, which was fortunate as Andreas and I discovered that we have very different ways of expressing nervousness.  He likes to talk.  I like to not talk.

When our number was called, I showed the woman my letter and my passport and she rifled through some papers behind her, pulled out a packet, and gave it to me.  For a moment I thought I’d forgotten how to read, but soon a cautious smile spread across my face.  “Udlændingstyrelsen giver dig opholdskort efter EU-reglerne”  It was a yes.

So I got my biometrics taken, and we left, Andreas taking the bus to work, and me hopping a train back to Sweden (and losing my phone on the way…)

I don’t remember the last time I felt this giddy, this comfortable, this excited, and nervous in the best sort of way.  As soon as we can find an apartment in Copenhagen (not particularly easy) we’ll move, and I will get my card, start my integration process, improve my Danish, apply for jobs…start a REAL LIFE.

As excited as I am I’m also nervous of course, as is expected with any life change, but it’s finally in a good way, and I’m so excited.  I’m also enjoying these last leisurely weeks before we have to deal with paperwork and the business of moving, buying furniture, kitchen stuff, etc. of which we have basically nothing.  I can enjoy my time here now that an end is in sight, and I’m treasuring the friendships I managed to make in my six months of living here.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter, and hoping I’ll be able to find new friends (ones I can keep!) and stay in touch with the old.

Copenhagen, here I come!  Now I really will be an American Hermit Crab in Denmark!

So in the end, I’m glad I held off on my 100th post…worth it.

My Spoiled Knitting Group

Like I mentioned in my last post, it had been quite a while since I’d felt “up to” going to my knitting group.  But I’ve hit a streak of optimistic days, and I knew it was time to host again!  Besides, I’ve been wanting to make a really big cake, and if I get other people to eat half of it, I only get a bit fat after eating…you know…the other half.  And since the cake I wanted to make used many more egg whites than yolks, I obviously had to make cream puffs to use up the yolks…obviously.

 

And, luckily for you guys, I remembered to take pictures!

The first cake I made is the same cake as this cake that had my father-in-law raving, but I decided to add lime curd to the middle!

The cakes ended up slightly deflated in the middle, so although they weren’t as fluffy as the first time I made them, they were still light, moist, and delicious.  The craters also helped a lot to hold the lime curd in the middle without it leaking out the sides, I just inverted the top cake and voila: secret lime curd containment unit!

This picture may not do it justice, but this frosting is just the silkiest, whippiest, marshmallowiest frosting I’ve ever had.

At this point in the cake-making, I was in awe of how smooth and glossy the frosting was, and was going to flatten it all nice and smooth and perfect, but I realized that the coconut was going to go on top.  However, I do wish that I had smoothed it down some, because the coconut here is in smaller bits, and the uneveness in the frosting-job showed through.  A lot.  Luckily, it was delicious enough that I don’t think anyone noticed.

I should also probably add that this was the second batch of coconut I toasted.  The first ended up in the trash, too brown and burny.  Consequently, I ended up having to sheepishly buy some more, and when Andreas asked if we hadn’t already bought coconut, and I told him I burned it, he plopped an extra bag of coconut into the basket “just in case.”  Guess I can’t blame him, but fortunately I didn’t burn the second batch, and now have a bag and a half of coconut to use…any ideas?

Before I started the cream puffs, it was definitely time for a cup of coffee.  Now, I just use instant stuff that my sister-in-law looks at with disdain, but I’m having fun mixing up coffee drinks, and I’m definitely getting better…

The cream puffs were actually much, much easier than I expected.  I’ve made eclairs before, and although the choux pastry behaved, I had a lot of trouble getting the filling the right texture, and filling the eclairs.  I have to say that the cream puffs were a dream!  The shape makes them so much easier to fill (they were all completely full, no big ol’ air bubbles or flat bits of pastry), and using a pastry cream recipe with just egg yolks made the filling much less tempermental and liquidy.

Andreas wasn’t crazy about the cake (even though that was the star of the show for everyone else) but he loved the cream puffs.  Unfortunately, he’s now suffering the wrath of his allergies (sugar and dairy) but he claims it was worth it.  They were really delicious, and even though I ran out of pastry cream, I filled the rest with a bit of sweetened whipped cream, and they were also lovely!
The treats were delicious, and I’m glad everything turned out.  The rest of the night was great, too.  We might be renting one of my knitting-friends’ apartment starting in December-ish, and we’d probably lease for 6 months which sounds like an unbelievably (and wonderfully) long time to stay in one apartment, and it would be great to have something lined up so early, and not have to worry.  I also re-caught the knitting bug and have knitting fever!  The fact that I recently received my KnitPro set in the mail doesn’t hurt…Today I finished up a project that’s been on my needles for a long time, and I have a couple more that I’m setting out to either buy yarn for, or just jump into!

I’m really grateful to the wonderful people in my knitting group.  I may be introverted and shy, but I’m starting to get quite comfortable with them all, and was really looking forward to seeing them.  It got me thinking about how grateful I am to my previous knitting group as well, and above all, my dear friend who started it all, and taught me to knit one sunny day in Wisconsin.

 

 

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.

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.

 

Housewifing

I used to think that I would fit in well in the fifties.  First, let me say a few words about feminism.

I consider myself a feminist, through and through.  I think that the core of feminism is that we should be treated equally, and we should be allowed and encouraged to pursue a career if that’s what we want to do.  The whole thing is that we should be able to choose whatever we want to do, and that every door should be open to us.  I absolutely do not believe that a woman’s role is to take care of the home, feed the family, etc.  I do, however believe that the whole feminist movement is about freedom of choice, and that if that’s what you want to do, then we should encourage that, too.

So no, I don’t have a fifties mindset, exactly, but I always thought that I would like to be a housewife.  Something about maintaining an orderly home, greeting my husband with a smile when he came through the door,with dinner already in the oven appealed to me.  It was always something I thought I’d like, but figured I’d never get the chance to try, seeing as almost nobody these days is a housewife in that sense, and in most cases, it just doesn’t make sense.

I probably should’ve been a bit more careful about what I wished for, because ta-da!  As a love refugee in Sweden, here I am, being a housewife.

There are definitely things I love about it.  I love to cook, and I even (sometimes) love to clean.  I like the satisfying feeling of “I did something today.”  I like to plan our meals and make sure we’re eating enough vegetables, and I love to greet Andreas with a smile when he gets home from work.

But this role isn’t something I’m choosing, and even though this set-up makes the most sense for us right now, sometimes I still find myself feeling that it’s unfair.  The thing is that it isn’t unfair.  Andreas gets up at “shit o’clock in the morning” as they say in Danish, takes a couple trains to work, works all day, and takes a couple trains back, getting home just in time for dinner, the news, and organizing all the visa stuff we’re still working on.  He’s stressed out and tired. I, on the other hand, can sleep until whenever I want, watch multiple hours of television a day, even with the housework and cooking, and still manage to feel under-appreciated.  It’s not until now, as I write this, that I realize it’s most likely because I’m notchoosing this.

I’ve been feeling lately like Andreas and I are in two different worlds, and I’m lonely in mine.  His is full and busy and stressful, and sometimes I can even feel like I can’t really wedge myself into it, and at the same time, I feel like I don’t have the right to complain about anything because I can sleep in and pursue my hobbies. This isn’t easy, folks.

I’ve always dreamt of being a stay-at-home mom, and it’s still something I think about, but I’m definitely opening myself up to the idea that I might not like it.  It might not be for me.  We’ll see when the time comes, and it’s not like I’m trying to make a decision right now, but if it’s anything like this, my dreams might be edited a little bit.

So in conclusion, I would not fit well into the fifties.  Except I would probably look really cute in those dresses….