Monday, February 20, 2012

hello, from denmark!

it is monday morning. 10:45 a.m. greg left to go to work at 8:30. henry is down for his morning nap-- perhaps he's getting adjusted to the time change as this would be about the same time he'd sleep in wisconsin. william is also asleep, not having woken up yet-- not really-- he did tell me around 9:30 to tell his dada goodbye for him, and that he loves him, not having realized that he'd already left, but being temporarily awake enough to remember that greg was going to work this morning. william is either slowly adjusting to the time change or rapidly turning into a teenager. i wanted to give you a nice summary of our events of the last few days. then i found an email that greg wrote to his brother which, i felt, sums it up rather nicely. i've decided to post his rendition and add to it as i see fit (in italics). here it is:

alright alright alright. two cups of instant coffee and I am a human
bean again. so, where to begin? Like I said, it is cold despite being
40 degrees, probably due to the wind and humidity. It is the kind of
damp that permeates the bones. (I wouldn't have described it that way, but I have a very nice, purple rain/wind jacket, that stops the dampness from getting into my bones.) Sunny yesterday but with the sun came
the wind and cold. Interestingly it was about 38, but the top of the
ground was beginning to freeze so that it would crunch under our steps
(maybe the thermometer was confused). (I don't mean to complain,
because it really is nice here- we went to a playground in Feb. so I
can't be upset about that). I just assumed their grass was more "crunchy" sounding. We did find a playground yesterday (Sunday), not far from our house. That was nice because as we walked around on Saturday I didn't see any that weren't attached to a school or housing complex.

the plane was tough, H was cranky. but he fell asleep when the lights
went out ~1.5 hours in, and woke up when the lights came on (somewhere
over northern Scotland). W was awesome, and watched "Cars" at least
once then slept until I picked him up to deplane. It was difficult to sleep on the plane. In the airport, William said to me, "I'm feeling anxious." I said, "I'm feeling anxious too!" Before leaving for the airport, I had coffee with a friend near my old (from high school) house. As I checked the time and realized I'd better be leaving so we could get to the airport on time, I started feeling physically anxious. This whole idea of moving to Denmark had been so big and difficult for me to comprehend that I'd had, relatively speaking to its largeness, little in the way of cerebral thought about it. We're moving to Denmark. Yay! What does that mean? I have no idea! But finally an hour before leaving for the airport, my body knew to be nervous, even as my mind sat idle. As I arrived back at Greg's cousin's house and did a few last minute things-- shoveling in some food, brushing teeth, packing up the toothbrush, it was that hand shaking, palm sweating, fumbling around nervousness that is played out in movies by the soon-to-be father rushing around to get his laboring wife to the hospital. As we sat in traffic on the way to the airport I realized how utterly unprepared I was for such a big move. I had prepared of course. We had sold our house, our car, said goodbye to our pets, shipped a pallet's worth of items, packed six checked bags and six carry-ons, etc. etc. etc. Mentally, I faced no major hurdles about uprooting myself and my family and planting ourselves in another country for a few years-- that idea was, and always had been, exciting, and in the airport terminal I realized (or rather felt), for perhaps the first time, that I was living in the world-- not simply in the U.S. How easy it is to forget when you're living in the U.S. that you are part of a larger world. Sort of like how living in California makes you sometimes forget you are living in a larger country. But I knew no Danish-- how many times had I asked Greg how to say "hi"? (It's hej-- pronounced "hi" (I had to look the spelling up on google translate just now)). I only roughly knew how to mentally change a Kroner into a Dollar to figure out the cost of something (multiply by 2, divide by 10), hardly knew a thing about the history of the country or the culture of the people-- I felt utterly unprepared. And I realized, isn't this just so typical of me? Anytime something big is about to happen, I assume it will be fine and then don't prepare. For example-- law school-- I could have read a book, a blog, pried one of my many relatives who'd gone before me, even watched "Paper Chase" for goodness sakes, to figure out a little bit about what to expect, how to make it easier, and I think a lot of my class mates did these things and had an easier time, but for me, it was a steep learning curve. Giving birth-- another example. With William, I went in thinking, sure it will be hard, but I'll manage. And in the end, I did manage, but it was harder than hard and with Henry, I prepared at least a little bit more, and it was at least a little bit easier. So now, here we are with Denmark. I expect another steep learning curve, that I expect, I could have graded out a bit. I think that (along with the seats and a lap child) made sleeping on the plane nearly impossible. Fortunately they put us in seats with no one in front of us. So we weren't as squished as we might have been. I watched the movie, "Juno", which I'd been interested in seeing, but could never quite catch the very beginning of it (movies were not 'on demand' but rather on loops). The food was not so bad. No one gave us mean looks when Henry wailed. So, I guess it was tough, but it could have been tougher. I think the mean looks would have made it so. Anyway, back to Greg's email:

Mikael (my new advisor) picked us up from the airport and took us to
our new house. The kids were in child seats, which are not carseats
like we parents of younger kids are used to. They were both boosted
up, facing forward, with the adult seat belts across their laps and
necks. All of the excitement and dizziness caused Henry to throw up all
over the place, but then he slept soundly. Mikael patiently helped us
get into our house, turn on the heat and fridge, and then took us to
the grocery store.

The store was unbelievably busy for a Friday at 3pm. This weekend was
a holiday "Fastelavn" which is Danish Mardi Gras, but celebrated on
Sunday instead of Tuesday, and more like Halloween according to
Wikipedia. Maybe everybody was buying party food for the weekend?
Anyhow Regan managed to figure out what we might need to eat for the
weekend and got us through the store. But I didn't weigh the grapes that William wanted. Apparently, you have to weigh the pre-packaged grapes. Interestingly, you must buy
your grocery bags ahead of time (at the front of the checkout
counter),(which we didn't know until after we'd started checking out and there were five people lined up behind us-- and if you don't know anything about Danes and their lines-- read here-- one of the few, troubling, cultural papers I'd read before arriving) and svinefedt is packaged like butter but is not butter
(pronouncing it gives you a clue). I thought maybe it was butter. Fortunately, Greg figured it out and we found real butter (smør). Mikael had also shopped for us, unbeknownst to us,
and got us spanish food (cheese and cured meat), lox, bread, wine,
beer, instant coffee, and coca-cola classic. The instant coffee is
surprisingly good, and I drink it a lot. The cured meats and cheese
were fantastic, as are the lox.

So, then we went on a ten minute car tour of Roskilde. It was the
same as I left it a few months ago, but Mikael pointed out a good
butcher shop. It also made us realize we wanted nothing to do with driving cars here-- at least not for the time being-- because we would probably quickly get into an accident trying to figure out what the street signs meant. Back at our home we made dinner (eggs and potatoes and onions) and probably tried to
go to bed. I really don't remember now because I was quite worn out.
But everything must have been fine because we are all still alive. Well, Henry was up a bunch and William wet the bed (or... as he said, and seemed to believe, sweat so much that his pajamas and blankets got all wet-- sweet boy. And I'm not going to take credit for that-- Greg took care of it all.)

Saturday was fun, we slept in until noon. It was rainy ~40F, grey, so
we went for a long walk to downtown. (We live in the next closest
'village' (Himmelev is the name) which is more like a neighborhood of the city ~2mi to
downtown). W peed on a hedgerow because we couldn't find any stores
along the way (that's my boy!). We found that all of the downtown
stores are closed by about three on Saturdays excepting the
grocery/department store. At the store we bought cleaning supplies, a
bucket, and bath towels. By the time we left, both Regan and I were
pretty tired of walking as H was on Regan's back and W was on mine. We
tied the bucket to the backpack, picked up the kids and walked home.
Halfway there I gave up the bucket to Regan for fear of losing my
back, and told W that he had better walk for himself. This was more
fun because there were puddles everywhere and W was wearing his froggy
rainboots (a brithday present from you (Greg's brother and sis-in-law), I might add).

Regan made burritos when we got back. yumbo jumbo. we figured out the
laundry, kind of. There are symbols on the machine, supposedly to
make it easier to use, but they don't make sense. The best results
for the dryer occur using the snowflake symbol. I found the best result to be the full, as opposed to half, sun symbol. W. was a tired man,
and fell asleep easily. H. decided that we were still in Wisconsin and
stayed up until ~2:30AM. Well, he'd gone to bed around 9ish, but didn't stay asleep. I tricked him though, and got him up at 9AM
Sunday to reset his clock.

Sunday was the sunniest. H. and I went for a walk in the morning to buy
diapers (we brought the re-useables, but without a utility sink they
are terrible). And not having a good place to keep them until they're washed. We finally put them outside on the little patio. Also, they don't seem to sell big boxes of baking soda here-- something we relied on to wash them back at home. The grocery store was closed, and always is on
Sundays, but the bakery aisle was open. The baked goods were holiday
themed: Mardi gras colored frosting on donuts. It didn't look
appetizing, and H. was asleep, so we went home. W. slept until about
12:30. (And is on track to do so again today-- I just don't have the heart to force him into complying with this new time zone yet.) He played and then watched movies and then played until we
finally got him outside for a walk to the park. The park is
surrounding a Dolmen, which is an ancient burial site. This one is
partially excavated so you can see that it is a mound of stacked
stones. I'll show you when you visit!. W enjoyed the new playground
set, and the sticks and the mud. Lentil soup for supper, then bed.

Today I got up at ~6:30 and was tired. Mikael is taking me to work at
8:30, so we'll see how that goes. His start date isn't until March 1st, but Mikael said he'd pick him up at 8:30 on Monday-- we sort of went along with it. We'll see what happens.

That is the chronicle of your brother in Denmark. Life as usual.
Eating, sleeping, being tired.

Best wishes to you and T and Alex.


for now.

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