November in Scandinavia will introduce you to more shades of gray than you knew existed. This is one of many lessons I'm learning as I rediscover the meaning of "cold" after spending three years in South Beach.
1. Do not expect to see the sun from about late October onward. And if you do, please run outside and take pictures and frolic about like a six-year-old. Feel free to skip a bit. Because on most days, you wake up to a light gray sort of morning; you work indoors to a backdrop of an overcast sort of fluffy blanket; and you go home to a dark night sky. (Silver lining: Very little light pollution. Stars are often in view.)
2. When it begins to get dark at around 4pm, do not be alarmed. This is simply how things work in Denmark. It might be a little disorienting--say, you look at your clock thinking, "Surely it is 10pm," only to find out that it's 6pm--but you will get used to it.
3. If you are ever a water nymph as part of your job, make sure you securely fasten your headpiece's battery pack underneath your ponytail. No one wants a water nymph with a battery pack dangling in front of her face.
4. Staying on the subject of the water nymph aspect of your new job: You are bare-legged for this bit of ballerina dancing. I know it's winter, and it's annoying, but really make sure you shave your legs. It's just polite to your colleagues.
5. In preparation for your first non-Balanchine Nutcracker in years, it would be a good idea to watch a DVD of the production to sort of get an idea of the style and choreography of this new version. This will prove helpful because you won't be alarmed when the bunny on stilts, multiple Drosselmeyers, and monkey in a tutu walk onstage.
6. Use the sauna at work. It's there for a reason. That reason is to make you feel better. It works. It's free. Go.
7. If you cry at work, do not take it out on innocent bystanders. That is just cranky. If anything, take Eva Draw's class. Not only will her blue mascara and magenta nail polish brighten your day, but so will her wonderful words of encouragement.
8. Your new apartment is excellent, but even better when filled with friends, lit candles, and good movies playing. So make this happen often. It gets you through the coldness. That and gløgg, a mulled wine sort of drink that was surely invented to be enjoyed in the company of fantastic people, in a basement-level bar across the street from the Det Kongelige Teater. Yes. That exact purpose.
9. Get used to sewing a lot of pairs of pointe shoes per week. Just do it.
10. If you have a masquerade ball on a Sunday evening, it's an excellent idea to get ready with some girlfriends. You can eat cookies and listen to music and get reassurance that the feathered bird headpiece you have donned is, in fact, fabulous and not completely ridiculous. Then you can go and enjoy yummy Thai food, an open bar, and hours of dancing.
11. Let's say you have a problem with high heels. The problem being you prefer very high heels to simply high heels. Four hours into the party, be proud and thank the heavens above that you brought your leopard print flats with you. Slip them on, beware of the alcohol-soaked floor, proceed to dance like a moron with abandon, and enjoy the rest of the evening.
12. The morning after said masquerade ball, get out of bed no later than 11am. Drink coffee. Rue your decision to wear waterproof mascara; sure, it didn't sweat off, but despite washing your face the night before, it's still caked on, possibly forever. Ponder what could have happened to your earring. Notice a horseshoe on your friend's desk and recall that on the walk home last night, you both spotted it in the street and decided to take it. Go to the sauna at work, learn the Spanish dance in Nutcracker, and sweat out toxins. Receive disappointing news about a boy you met at the ball the night before. Cry for a little bit on your friend's couch due to feelings of stupidity and general fatigue. Feel better when your dad threatens to hurt said boy's kneecaps. Go home. Sleep like a baby.
13. Realize it's okay to be positive, and okay to cry. Be thankful for your friends, family, gløgg, knit sweaters, candles, Love Actually, the sauna, 10kr blankets from Tiger, masquerade balls, Thai food, couches on which to cry upon, feathered avian headpieces, sky-high heels, and (perhaps most importantly) those leopard print flats.