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.

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.

Cookies, Colds, and Being Really Frustrated

The 5k on Sunday was fantastic!  Unfortunately, it was also cold, and I seem to be welcoming fall with open arms and a very, very runny nose.  When I was really tired on Monday, I figured I was tired from the race.  On Tuesday, I wanted to keep up my momentum and went for a run.  It was awful.  I could hardly run, and couldn’t wait to come home.  Turns out, I was pretty sick.  The rest of my week looked like this:

I’m now at that point where I don’t think I’ll ever stop blowing my nose or recover from my earth-shattering sneezes, but…we’ll see.

We’re also dealing with challenges concerning our Danish visa process (they sent a letter asking me to come in next week, which I can’t do because I don’t have my Swedish visa, so I was asked to go to the embassy who told me they were booked solid the next month, and to call the Danish migration office.  Again.)  I handled it all pretty well until the embassy said they were booked and we couldn’t do it there.  Then I added watery puffy red eyes to my already shiny red nose after a healthy crying session.  We’ll make some more calls, and hopefully get it all figured out next week.

Last week, I had a sudden and intense craving for something baked.  I was also slammed with a truckload of emotions or hormones or something, an dwas convinced that I would be grumpy and mean until I got. some. cookies.  So I made some!  They didn’t help that much but, I mean, they helped a little.  They are cookies after all.

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.

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.

 

Dreams

I dreamed last night that my residence card came in the mail, but that I had to go be on America’s Next Top Model to get my picture taken for it.  Sadly, I also dreamed that my mom had another baby (17 years after the youngest) and named it Fab Yellow Submarine Moser, so I don’t think the residence card dream is a very trustworthy prophecy of what is to come.

However, when I called my mom to tell her my doofy dream, we also ended up talking about other things, and I mentioned how getting a KitchenAid mixer has been one of my “dreams.”  There’s something about a KitchenAid that represents more than just a kitchen appliance.  It means I will make bread every other day and my own noodles!  I can just imagine it whisking and beating frosting into a perfectly fluffy finished product, and warning my curious young children to keep their fingers away from it (and seeing in their eyes the desire to touch it, just to see what would happen).  And speaking of dreams, these curious young children are the most-dreamed-about-of-all.

The reason I mention all of this (aside from “because I haven’t done anything noteworthy in the past week to warrant a blog post”) is because I’ve been thinking a lot about things that are close to my heart, things I want.  A lot.  Besides a KitchenAid mixer and babies, one of the things that tops the list is a home.  Now,  I can’t claim that I never had a home and I moved around all my life and all I wanted as a kid was a steady place to live.  I had an awesome home.  I lived in a big farmhouse that I am so, so happy I can still sort of call home.  However, I realized that I have moved 5 times in the past year.  Five.  From college, to home, to Illinois, to home, to Denmark, to Sweden, and that doesn’t include all the travelling in between.  We’re moving again next week, but instead of a smooth across-the-hall move like we had hoped, things got bumped around a bit, and we’re going to end up moving all of our stuff down to the next building to live with my sister-in-law for a few days before we move it all back up again a week later to our new place which we’ll have until August somethingeth when we’ll have to move.  Again.

Besides hating the tasks of packing everything and moving over and over again, it’s beginning to take a pretty solid emotional toll on little old me.  Moving from my college town of Green Bay back home was bittersweet (the bitterness of leaving friends and the city and campus I grew to know, the sweetness of knowing I’d be getting married soon and starting a new life with my husband).  Moving from the Wisconsin farmouse to a stinky Illinois apartment in a sketchy part of town was a bit heartbreaking.  Moving to Europe was amazing (knowing I’d not have to have a long-distance relationship with Andreas) and horrible (saying what felt like an awfully permanent goodbye to so many people, places, and yes, things.).

I guess I’m just “over it.”  I’m not a young restless soul with a thirst for adventure.  I’m a crotchety old soul with a thirst for a cup of coffee and a place to plant my roots.  I want to buy a bed, and plates, and not say to myself “should I really get this, if we’re just going to have to lug it around for the next _____ amount of time?”  I know that this, along with my KitchenAid mixer and my longed-for babies, is just on the horizon, but the many moves in the meantime sort of cloud my view, and I’m left feeling a bit helpless, a bit homesick, and a bit detached.

Anyway, tomorrow is my first International Knitting Group meeting, and I have pretty high hopes!  Wish me luck with my nerves, and all this home-wanting angst.  Why am I not 45 yet?!

Mail!

Today when the mail came, and I jumped up (1% with excitement to go see what came in the mail 99% with the terror that strikes every single time the mail comes swishing through the mail slot and plops on the floor and makes me think someone just walked boldly into the apartment to steal me.) I noticed that I had mail!  Me!  With my name on it!  And look, it was from the Migration Office!

My heart pounded as I ripped it open, discarding the other mail–something about insurance, and some sort of newspapery thing–only to see that it was merely a notice that they received my application for a residence card two weeks ago when–surprise–I had turned it in.  Oh.

Maybe next time.

Lag of Jet

Oof.

I have unofficially expatted.  My plane left Minneapolis on Monday night, and as I was getting my boarding passes printed, I was informed that because I don’t have a return ticket, or any specific visa, I could be denied entry into Denmark.  That *would’ve* been the perfect start to my trip if I had wanted to spend the entire time nervous, anxious, upset, and fully expecting to turn around at the end of it and come right back.

Those 8 hours stuck in limbo on a plane over the Atlantic, with no choice but to “live in the moment” were quite an experience, but one that I’m still processing.

In other news, I’m badly jet-lagged.  Up to now I’ve usually been pretty good at adjusting to the time zone, and generally my stomach is more jet lagged than my sleep cycle, but this time, I can’t seem to be able to sleep past 3 in the morning, or take a nap any shorter than five hours.

I don’t really have anything to do that’s keeping me from just staying up and being a zombie all day until I conk out at night, but…being tired is so unpleasant, and duvets are irresistible.

However, I’m just still so relieved that I am finally, finally with my husband, in Denmark, and on our way to making me a resident in Europe!  And now that it’s 11 am, I’ll be taking a “nap.”