Monday, April 5, 2010

Danish Lessons, Chapter 7

Reader, be warned: This installment of Danish Lessons may include an unusual amount of positivity from the author. I suspect this newfound sense of optimism is the result of recent unusual amounts of sun here in Scandinavia...but fear not; the girl behind this post remains partly cloudy.

1. Suppose you wake up early on a wonderful, unexpectedly sunny Sunday, ready to go do your job and perform A Midsummer Night's Dream. On the walk to work-- for you are taking full advantage of that big daytime star in the sky making an appearance--go to Lagkagehuset. Purchase a latte and a direktør snegl (hint: when ordering, don't try to pronounce the name of this pastry magic; just use social sign language). Exit the aforementioned pastry mecca quite happy with your current walking/eating/latte/excellent-music-blaring-from-your-iPod situation. However, do NOT let your infectious good mood and the lack of cars on the road make you forget that you are in Copenhagen. Because Dorothy, we're not in New York anymore, and you cannot cross against the light. What you consider to be an art form in efficiency, the Politi consider to be an offense. You will get pulled over by an overeager young member of the Politi, and you will have to muster up all of your Oscar-worthy acting skills to play the part of "blissfully unaware New Yorker." After successfully avoiding a fine, you will (a) thank whomever that you had enough coffee flowing through your veins to deal with the situation; and (b) tread very carefully the rest of your way to work.

2. You may own a pair of perfectly broken-in, beat-up Converse All Star hightops. They are dirty, and offer very little arch support, and are good for nearly every occasion you can think of. You wear them often, and each new scuff only enhances their perfection. However, be careful of the laces. They are stretched out, and long, and occasionally you step on them. So when you bike across Knippelsbro to your little apartment, be mindful. Because if you don't pay attention, you will suddenly find that the laces on one of your shoes has wrapped around your bike pedal. You will make a horribly spastic scene right at the peak of the bridge. You will rapidly discover that you cannot pedal, and you cannot put your foot on the ground to gain any sort of balance because--well hey, your foot is all tied up (pun intended). You will have to find a way to hop on one foot, literally tied to your bike, onto the sidewalk; then you will sit, mortified as dozens of more coordinated Danes watch you unwind your own foot from your bike. But you will just have to knot your laces thrice, stick out your chin, and get back on the bike.

3. Whilst on winter break from work, enjoy your decision to forgo travel. Being a tourist in your newly adopted city, "staycation" will prove both more relaxing/enjoyable and more expensive than you anticipated. The weather gods show you some unexpected lovin' and give you (and the rest of Copenhagen) a week of brisk, sunny weather. Take advantage of sleeping. Sit in a cafe, or in the sun, and actually enjoy your coffee and a book. Go to a museum. Shop. (Or actually, don't; this will prove very detrimental to your bank account, albeit quite helpful to your self-esteem account.) Buddy up with other staycationers and go to the cinema for a trip to Wonderland; go for drinks with said buddies; in short: enjoy the city in which you are living.

4. This foreigner never misses the Oscars, and so now can highly recommend forking over extra Danish kroner to see them broadcast live in the cinema. This will require integrity and large amounts of coffee and sugary snacks if you are to last the entire six and a half, very late evening/very early morning hours. But once you emerge from the cinema, you will feel grateful for the slice of home and quite impressed with yourself for enduring six and a half hours of watching beautiful people in beautiful outfits accept awards and talk about themselves.

5. Although previously not a "cat person," this year you've warmed to one feline named Annie. When her owner, Charlie, goes back to the homeland for winter break, you gladly volunteer to watch his beloved, mildly overweight pet. This will turn out to be a wonderful part of your day every day throughout the vacation. Turns out cats, or at least one named Annie, aren't so bad, and even though the purring sound still kind of freaks you out, having something fluffy curled up on your chest while you read a good book is possibly the most "hyggeligt" thing you've experienced in a while.

6. Rediscover the sauna. Yes, your workplace has one, and yes, it is free. When you renew your acquaintance with this magical facility, and realize that the sauna is your New Best Friend, feel free to wonder why you ever took a break from regularly indulging in Sauna Time in the first place. Just make sure it doesn't happen again.

7. When the winter break ends, know that it is okay to go back to work and realize that you missed it very much. This is a good thing. It means you enjoy what you do, and where you do it, and on top of that, you like your coworkers. You've hit something like a professional jackpot. So go ahead. It's okay to say you missed being at work.

8. After returning to work, the sun will go into hibernation for several days. You will feel the effects of this, especially after enjoying it so very much for a whole week. And so when it decides to reappear several days later, you may catch yourself humming along to newly-downloaded music as you bike to work; you may even catch yourself closing your eyes, smiling, and turning your face up towards the "prodigal sun" while waiting at a stoplight. These physical signs of positivity are rare on your face, but acceptable, so long as the cute Danish man on the bike next to you doesn't see what you're doing and then look at you like you've got two heads. You're pale, and blush easily. So watch yourself.

9. If you are very blessed, you will get to sample homemade bananas foster. It will be incredibly delicious, and bonus? Fire is involved. Two of your favorite things, in one kitchen: fire and dessert. It is wonderful not only to have good friends, but to have good friends who are good in the kitchen. And who aren't afraid to light rum-soaked bananas on fire.

10. Sometimes you will have to be a soldier at work. You never considered a career in the military before, but the rehearsal in costume will confirm your suspicions: It's a good thing you didn't want to be a member of the Army. You will spend 90 minutes in rehearsal underneath layers of camouflage, with the heaviest footwear you've ever laced up in your life, toting a backpack and a large gun, with a helmet on, sweating profusely. You will spend time wondering several things: How do actual soldiers deal with the heat? Is it just you, or are the buttons on your shirt sewn on the other side; were you given a guy's shirt? Why, with your thick head of hair, would you decide to wear pigtails underneath the helmet?

11. Sometimes you will shock yourself. Or perhaps you are growing up--after all, at the end of the month you will be considered a full-blown, legal, honest-to-god adult grownup person in your country of origin. Either way, one Sunday (again, sunny!) you will wake up early. [First shock.] Feeling energetic on your day off [second shock], you will go into your place of work with some laundry to do [third shock]; while waiting for the wash, you will bike and then sauna [fourth shock]. Upon returning home, feeling rather refreshed, you will spend the next three hours blasting cheesy music while thoroughly cleaning your apartment [fifth, mega-shock]. You will then have to sit down and digest all of this unusual personal behavior, but ultimately you will pat yourself on the back for having been so very productive on a free day. You will end the day with friends, watching European football [sixth, aftershock], and will go home feeling like you have a pretty sweet life indeed.

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