Friday, December 30, 2011

2011, You Outdid Yourself

As 2011 comes to a close, and we're all inundated with articles and montages and sound clips of everything that's happened throughout the year...

Why not read one more? I mean, really, what's one more.

My fiance and I spent last New Years Eve sitting on the couch at home trying to decide if it was worth it to walk to the douchy hipster bar across the street... or to not bother.  I'm not anti-hipsters... but this place brings out the hipsters that everyone hates.  As you might guess, we stayed home and had dinner and drinks on the couch.

A nice, relaxing start to what would be a whirlwind of a year.

After a few really tough years here in Boston, this past year was magical.  Riddled with stress, but still really damn magical.

In April, I got on a plane for the first time in 10 years for our 2-week trip to England and Denmark.  It was an amazing trip, with perfect weather and wonderful people.  Just days after returning, my fiance popped the question.  Just days after that, some of my closest friends flew into town for my 30th birthday.  What more could a girl want?

The rest of the year has been almost all about wedding planning, with some attempts at learning Danish stuffed into the cracks.

These last couple of months, with all of the stress that went along with the layoffs at my company, and the extra workload that entailed... Well, it's been trying.  It's tested my patience, and my patience hasn't always passed that test.

But in the end, I'm a lucky girl.  This coming year is going to be a wild one.  With the wedding in May, followed by the Big Move some time this Summer... Expect to see plenty more posts here.

As for New Years Eve this year?  We'll be spending it at home with dinner and drinks.  On the couch.

Happy New Year.  And many more to come.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Danish Lessons - Rosetta Style

My Christmas gift has arrived in the form of a bright yellow box from Rosetta Stone.

So far, I've done most of the first lesson, and I'm feeling positive.  I suppose this is the whole point, but I feel like a child learning to speak for the first time with this program.  I haven't learned a whole lot so far, but the repetition and the visual aids with each phrase really do help.

What have I learned so far?  Phrases like "en dreng er under en bold," or "a boy is under a ball."  Where one would expect to find him, of course...

I know that I will never forget the word "flyvemaskine," or airplane.  

And, of course, "elefant."  If the prevalence of the word in my lessons so far is any indicator, I can only deduce that Scandinavia is made up of pachyderms, boys flying airplanes, and other boys hiding under beach balls.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Obligatory Christmas Post

It's Christmas Eve, and we are at my parents' house for the weekend.

While my mother's side of the family did grow up Catholic, we aren't an especially religious family, so we celebrate more out of tradition than anything else.  We used to celebrate Hanukkah as well, since my father comes from a Jewish background, but that seemed to fall by the wayside when I was a teenager.

Let me paint a picture, if I may, of the scene right now:

My mother is in the dining room piping out little colored circles onto parchment paper.  Little circles that will soon be some seriously delicious French macaroons.  In the fridge is a roll of chocolate cake and delicious filling that will, tomorrow, become a realistic edible Yule log, complete with merengue  mushrooms and pistachio moss.

In the living room, my dad, my fiance and I are all sitting on the couches.

Each typing on our own separate Macbooks.

As far as Christmas traditions go, we don't have many.  What we generally do is open gifts in the morning on Christmas day, then drive down to my aunt's house.  Once there, we will drink Manhattans and eat until we can barely move.

As far as traditions go, it's not too shabby.

Merry Christmas, all.  And happy Hanukkah.

And a happy Festivus.  For the rest of us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A "Business Casual" Christmas

As I think most of us were as kids, I was pretty unaware of class differences when I was young.  I grew up in a fairly affluent area, but I didn't really realize it until I left.  Moving to a town like Buffalo as an adult will give you a real sense of perspective.

That being said, we're a pretty casual family.  We dress up when appropriate, but I'd argue that we're generally a casual, jeans-wearing bunch.

And very few people are as casual as radio people.  The argument is that no one sees us anyway, so why dress up?  That's why we're often found not just in jeans, but often in sweatpants and hats.  I happen to be wearing that uniform right now, actually.

So, when we were headed to a small company Christmas party at the house of a coworker of my fiance's, and we were told dress was "casual," well I thought jeans and a sweater would be great.  Thought my sneakers wouldn't stand out at all.

Boy, was I wrong.

For this "casual" Christmas party, they'd hired someone to come play Christmas songs on the grand piano in their livingroom...

To be fair, I may be the only one who noticed the difference, but it seems that when wealthy folks say "casual," they really mean "business casual."  All of the women were in slacks and nice shoes and sweaters.  The men wore button-down shirts and slacks, and one was even wearing a matching jacket.

Everyone there was perfectly nice, but I've rarely felt so out of place.

Sing it with me now: "One of these things is not like the other."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Best Things in Life Are Free...Pastries

This whole wedding planning thing can be seriously intense at times.  With so many vendors and so many decisions to make, I keep expecting something to fall to pieces.

The truth is, so far at least, our vendors have been wonderful.

Yesterday's cake tasting at Konditor Meister was no exception.  It all just seemed too simple.  It felt like there should have been more questions to answer, more decisions to make.

But it was just a matter of eating cake, showing them the cake we liked...

...and walking out with free pastries.

Now, it's apparently standard for them to hand the couple a box with six pastries after a wedding cake consultation, which is just plain lovely to begin with.  But since we were heading to a holiday party afterwards, we thought we'd buy some pastries for that as well.

So, we walked up the the counter, ordered our 20 pastries, and the girl behind the counter said, "Okay, you're all set."

Brief pause on our end, followed by me asking, "Okay, do we pay over there?"

To which she responded "No, you're all set."


Then she finally says, "You just had a wedding cake consultation, right?  Then you're all set."

I still walked out of there thinking she was going to get in trouble.

Free pastries are magical.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


There hasn't been much time to rest, let alone think about all that much lately.

Work, wedding stuff, workouts, repeat...

Cake tasting this weekend, which I'm pretty damn excited for.  Who wouldn't be?  I mean... it's cake!

Of course, I got a call saying that my wedding dress is in and ready for my first fitting, so... maybe I shouldn't be so excited about cake.  And more focused on those workouts.

Okay, this is all a bit rambly, so in the interest of tossing out something interesting, I recommend that you go here.

And if this is not something you are already aware of, I recommend that you get yourself caught up.


For your health!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Love Letter to Government Health Insurance

I don't plan to get too much into political issues very often on here, but since it's sort of the end of an era, I thought I'd share a little story about why profit-based health insurance just plain sucks.

My fiance recently added me to his company's insurance, which (I hope, at least) will be better than the coverage I've had since coming out to Boston.

Back in the Spring of 2009, I went to the doctor with a sore throat.  Turned out to be strep throat, and not a big deal at all.  But that wasn't all that the doctor found.

He also found a lump on the front of my neck that I never would have noticed.  Who knows how long it had been there.  After determining that it was definitely abnormal, he sent me to get a needle biopsy (and as someone who has a really serious phobia of needles... Ick..).

The biopsy determined that it was, in fact, a tumor on the right lobe of my thyroid.  Luckily, it seemed to be benign, but they wouldn't know for sure until they took it out.  And since they couldn't determine how long it had been there, they didn't know if it would continue to grow if we left it there, eventually restricting my breathing.

So, into surgery I went.

The surgery went well.  My surgeon, and all of the doctors and nurses involved were brilliant and everything was fine.

Until a month or two later, when I got a letter from my insurance company saying they would not be covering the surgery.

Because it wasn't "medically necessary."

Now, I'm sure there are some spin-doctors who could argue that breathing isn't "medically necessary."  No more medically necessary than being alive, I suppose.

Luckily, my surgeon wanted to get paid.  After I called him and explained the letter I'd gotten, he had me fax the info over to him, and I never heard another word about it from the insurance company.

I'm glad to be moving up to a slightly higher tier of health insurance for a little while...

But you know what I'm really looking forward to?  Government healthcare in Denmark.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On the English Accent

We've spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in my home town, and managed to catch up with an old high school friend of mine last night.  He's one of these friends who is always wonderful to talk to because he's always honest and always asks thought provoking questions.

Last night, one of our many lines on conversation turned toward the English accent and why on earth it has such an effect on Americans.

It's hilarious to watch people react to my fiance when he starts talking.  The women, especially, will often get all giggly.  Even my friend last night asked him to say "Oxford" and "hot wings" again.

Indeed, that accent once got us a table at a completely packed restaurant.  A table that very conspicuously had a "reserved" sign on it when we first walked in.

Two of the theories that we discussed:

1. It's all about the movies.  In the movies, English guys are almost always the most charming, suave, and educated of the characters, even when they're playing the baddies.

2.  The key is in the tone of voice.  We Americans get a lot more across with our tone.  The highs and lows of sound that get across more of the feeling of what we're trying to say.  Indeed, the first time my fiance and I spoke, he remarked on how enthusiastic Americans are when we speak.  In England, on the other hand, with their centuries-long history playwriting and literature and poetry, and their appreciation for much dryer humor, they rely more on the actual words to express what they're trying to say.  And perhaps that's part of why the English just seem to have a more colorful way with words.

Then again, I think we'd all react the same way even if he weren't using such colorful language.

It's that accent.  We can't help ourselves.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Time That I Walked Out

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my mother.  The subject line said "You have to see this..."

In the email was this link.

You may have heard the story on the news or read about it in the New York Times, where it originally broke.  Or maybe you even saw it mentioned on The Daily Show.  Pictures from a Halloween party at a foreclosure law firm outside of Buffalo, NY where the employees are dressed up as homeless people and mocking people who are going through foreclosure. 

It was a horrifying story, but that wasn't the only reason I was sent that article. 

The truth is, I used to work at that law firm.  Back in 2003 and 2004, I worked in their reinstatement and payoff department.  For a while, I was able to convince myself that since I was ultimately working to help people bring their homes out of foreclosure, that I somehow wasn't as involved in ruining the lives of so many people.

But that lie only lasted so long.  In December of 2004, I walked out.

I've never once regretted it.

Now it turns out that banks all over New York are pulling their business from the firm, and the firm is issuing layoff notices and shutting down.

I don't wish ill on any of the people laid off, as it's tough enough to find work as it is, let alone in Buffalo these days.  And having that job on their resume isn't likely to do them any favors.

But at the same time, there is a level of justice in having it end the way that it did.

Sometimes, instead of helping you rise to the top, being horrible to people will ruin your career.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We're Seriously Smart When We're Drunk

My fiance and I are always having really intellectual conversations about the Danish language and language learning in general...

...While drinking...

Which is to say that we think we have really intellectual conversations on the topic.

Last night is a prime example.  I remember sitting there thinking "This is a great conversation!  I'll have to blog about this in the morning!"

And upon waking I found myself asking him... "What was that conversation we were having last night?"

Neither of us can remember.

Highlights that we have remembered so far:
- The frustration with the lack of versions 3 and 4 for Danish from Rosetta Stone, as they apparently tell you if you're pronouncing the words correctly.
- The tendency to start translating everything you say into the language you're learning in your head.
- Where the stresses/accents are put on words in Danish, compared to English and Spanish.

It was all fascinating.

You'll have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class vs. Sanity

Something had to give.

Either the Danish classes, my job, or the wedding.  Something had to give.

For the sake of my sanity.

And since the latter two are not actually on the table, I regret to say that it looks like I'll have to stop going to Danish classes for now.

Plan B... or... is it C?  I've asked for Rosetta Stone for Christmas.

Hopefully that'll allow me to get through the holidays without completely losing my mind, and then I can start again in earnest in January.

Now, here's the deal with the Rosetta Stone for learning Danish...  Since there isn't really much of a market for folks who aren't Danish to learn the language, the folks at Rosetta Stone never updated beyond version 2 (more widely learned languages go up to version 4).  So, the technology isn't as good, but it's still pretty good.  They've also only made the most basic level of Danish in version 2 for Danish.  Luckily, that's the level I'm at, so it's not an issue.

And if I can become decent at beginning level Danish by the time I get there, I'll feel more confident in the state-provided Danish classes I'll be taking there.

I'm trying not to think of myself as a quitter right now.

It's not easy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pardon Me While I Get a Little Mushy

I'll try to make this brief, I promise.

A year ago today, my fiance and I started dating.

It's been one of those stories that I was sure was going to end in heartbreak.  At the time, I was 29 and recently out of a seriously complicated relationship.  When I met my fiance, he was clearly too perfect to ever be interested in me.

A charming British scientist who looked like a movie star and constantly made me laugh?  After the first time we met, I remember thinking "I can't tell if he was flirting... or just British..."

I guess he must have been flirting, because we're getting married in May.

So as not to go on with this mushiness any longer, I'll just finish by saying this:

Happy anniversary, babe.  You're my hero and I love you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Danish Singer-Songwriters

This is a follow-up to my recent post about the great folky singer-songwriters coming out of Sweden lately.

With the help of some of the expat community in Denmark, I was able to find a few great Danish artists and groups that I'm very excited to see live when we get there.

Let's start with Ida Gard.  I'm really loving her voice:

Next up is Agnes Obel.  She was just recently won all kinds of Danish Music Awards.  This song is really beautiful:

And finally, I do love a folk group with great voices and great harmonies, and these guys have both.  The high tenor is just stunning:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Thank You

Let's get a little meta on this thing, shall we?

It's tough to know where to draw the line when it comes to sharing personal information on a blog like this.  The blog is, of course, viewable by anyone.  Deciding what is valuable to whoever might read it, while at the same time keeping my private life private... it's a thin line that I'm constantly questioning.

I was able to get away from reality for a bit to spend the weekend with my best friends.  It was a much needed respite during a really difficult time.

This week, I'm choosing to keep my personal life to myself, but I will say this:

It's almost harder to be hit with bad news after a really wonderful few days with amazing friends.

That 180 degree flip... It's rough.

At the same time, it's good to have a reminder of the wonderful people in my life who are always supportive.  My fiance, my best friends, my family... They all keep me sane.

Maybe only by a hair, but they do manage it.

So, in the spirit if the upcoming holiday, I want to say thank you to everyone in my life who has stuck around through my rants.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #5 - I Didn't Cry!


We arrived at the class a few minutes early, and I took the time to be as honest as possible with the instructor.  "I'll be honest," I said. "I haven't even looked at this stuff in two weeks."

Sometimes life just gets in the way.

And this made for an extraordinarily taxing first half of the class.  We started by trying to invert sentences.  Where we can say either "I went to the store yesterday" or "Yesterday, I went to the store," in Danish the sentence structure looks more like "Yesterday went I to the store."

That's all well and good.  I have a decent understanding of that grammatical rule.  What I don't have is the vocabulary committed to memory yet.  So, while I should be able to build a sentence well enough, I don't have the words with which to do so.

It made for a very frustrating first hour or so.

After that, though, we worked on an exercise where we tried to determine which vowel sounds we were hearing when the instructor pronounced various words.

And we were all equally awful at that, so I felt much better.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Children Scare Me

Last night, my fiance had a dream in which we had children.  He woke up thinking he had to tend to them.

And then he remembered that we don't have any.

All day today, he was making little comments and jokes about how we should start having kids ASAP.

Now, this is a topic that he and I have talked about quite a bit.  Before I met him, I never even considered having children.  But pretty much as soon as I met him I started picturing what an amazing father he would be, and it became more of a possibility.

After we got engaged, my parents dropped a bomb.  I knew that both of my grandmothers had died when my parents were young.  What I didn't realize is that the cause of my paternal grandmother's death was genetic.

It turns out, that there's a 50/50 chance that I have the a mutated BRCA gene that is very commonly found in Ashkenazi jews like my grandmother. It's a gene that greatly increases the chances of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

In addition to being scared to death of raising a child in general, the idea that I might have to leave a child behind when the kid is as young as my parents were when they lost their mothers...

It breaks my heart.

I'll get the genetic test before I decide on whether or not I want children.  I may go for it either way, because my fiance really should be a father.  But I want the decision to be an informed one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Madness. Utter Madness.

Do you know what I haven't done in a while?

Worked on my Danish.

I knew that November would be a crazy month.  With a flight out for my best friend's 30th birthday as well as bridesmaid dress shopping, and then my fiance's father flying in from England for a week, followed by our anniversary, and then Thanksgiving and my father's birthday... 

I was working on mentally preparing for all of that madness.

I didn't anticipate the madness leading up to November. 

Of couse, with all of the changes at my office, we're all taking on extra work to make sure everything gets done.  Combined with the emotional toll that losing so many great coworkers took, it's been a taxing week.

Add to that the fact that they're predicting a big snow storm this weekend?  Can't we wait until Winter for Winter to come?

For the first time in years, it looks like I'll be taking a pass on Halloween festivities.

I think need another night of drinking brandy and listening to Brandi Carlile.  Stat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today Was a Sad Day

Tonight, I am skipping out on my Danish class in favor of drinks.

This is not normally my style, but tonight, it's a necessity.

Back at the height of the recession, in October of 2008, my company did some "restructuring."  That "restructuring" lead to me moving to Boston in order to keep my job.  In the end, this was a great move, as I met my fiance here in Boston and wouldn't be getting married or moving to Denmark otherwise.

But today, we took another hit.  A few months ago my company was bought out by one of the major media conglomerates.

And today, they made their presence known.  By laying off half of my office, including all of my managers.

I've somehow managed to survive the cut, but it's heartbreaking.  It's hard enough to get a job as it is right now.

The people here have been so kind to me.  They've been fun, and helpful, and ridiculous, and maddening.

And I'll miss every one of them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Know What's Silly?

I'll tell you what's silly.  The confusingness (no, that's not a word... but it should be) that is immigration law.

It all varies widely from country to country, and certainly here in the US they make it insanely difficult.  Indeed, my fiance's visa application to come to the US for work is a stack of paper about 2 inches thick.

What's amazing to me, though, is how much the immigration experience seems to vary from person to person in Denmark, even if they seem to be in similar situations.  And because of that, it's difficult to really know what to expect.

From the length of time it will take to get legal residency, to whether or not I can go to school right away or will have to wait, it all seems to differ so widely.

And the wildest thing that I heard today is that it may actually be harder for a Dane to bring his wife and family to Denmark than it will be for my fiance, an EU citizen but non-Dane to bring me there.

Plus, there's the fact that a new government has recently been elected there, so many of the immigration laws are expected to change.  The good news is, it's a left-leaning government so the rules will likely slacken a bit.

Either way, I think I need to resign myself to being royally confused for a while.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #4 - Fake It 'Til You Make It

Pretend this first paragraph is an expletive-filled rant about the frustrations of having our cable go out for 5 days, thus preventing timely blog posts.

There, now that we have that our of our systems...

I will start by saying that I was a bit distracted from my usual cramming study session for my weekly Danish class last night, as I was awaiting the triumphant return of my fiance from the wilds of Nebraska.

I will claim that as my excuse for being completely lost in this weeks class.  We worked learning words and phrases needed to discuss the weather and family...

But I'll be honest...

I had no idea what I was talking about.  I was guessing left and right, or just plain telling the teacher that I didn't know.  I'm seriously heartened to know that this class is moving at breakneck speed and that Danish classes given in Denmark itself go MUCH more slowly.

Because last night?  I was seriously faking it.

And not at all making it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting Smørrebrød

No, mom, I'm not pregnant.

This post is about Danish food.

I've only spent a little over two days in Denmark in my life so far, but from what I've seen, I'm a little concerned about the food situation. 

Okay, that's not entirely fair.  I'm a little concerned about traditional Danish food.  Specifcially, smørrebrød.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, smørrebrød is basically an open-faced sandwich on buttered rye bread.  It can be topped with all kinds of things, but is often topped with pickled herring. 

I'm not gonna lie, I just can't get into the pickled herring.

Alright, I may be overreacting.  I'm perfectly happy with smørrebrød topped with other things, and I do love me some capers.  I could just live without the herring. 

On the positive side, we had the best Thai food I've ever had in my life while we were in Copenhagen.  Seriously, it was amazing.  And by far the best meal we had while there.

And, as one might expect, the Danes are damn good at pastry.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Folksy Sing-Songin' in Scandinavia

Let's talk music for a bit, shall we?  I'm a big fan of singer-songwriters who are actually good at both.  I have a serious pet peeve when it comes to folks who make their living as singers but aren't actually any good at it.  That being said, I'm encouraged that there seems to be some really great singer-singwriters coming out of Scandinavia these days.  For example, The Tallest Man on Earth, a great talent out of Sweden:

And then there's First Aid Kit, a really great duo who also happens to be out of Sweden:

Okay, so actually there's some great stuff coming out of Sweden.  Where are the great Danish singer-singwriters?  I'll need to find some.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #3 - Less Oy?

While my fiance is off being the swankiest Brit in Omaha (a.k.a. the only Brit in Omaha), I spent the evening in another Danish class.

I left tonight's class feeling much less overwhelmed than I was last week.  While the material was still hard, and I'm still well behind the other girl (seriously, she can read a sentence in Danish without even thinking about it, where as I have to pause before and after almost every word over 3 letters long... and some under...), I do feel like I'm progressing.  If only nominally.

Today's lesson started with verbs.  And, strangely, verbs are actually easier in Danish than they are in Spanish.  While they have their tenses, they aren't conjugated based on the subject.  As soon as he explained that, I thought "Yes!  I got this!"

My brain may have gotten over excited.

After going over verbs, we did a little work on sentence structure (which is going to take a while for my brain to soak in), and how to ask and answer questions.

Oh, and I learned to tell time.  So, that's good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a Little Bit of Expat Love

Just wanted to post a little hello and a thank you to my expat readers.  

The process of figuring out the best way forward when I get to Denmark is still both daunting and frustrating.  I've signed up for a couple of expat forums and Facebook groups in the hopes of gaining some insight before I make the big leap.

So far, pretty much everyone who has responded to my inquiries, whether it be about school or language learning or immigration/residency rules, has been extraordinarily kind and helpful. 

I imagine most of them were in my shoes at one point as well.  A little scared, very excited, and completely confused by the process.  

I still have a lot to sort out, but I'm feeling optimistic at the moment.

So, again, a big thank you to the expats for being lovely.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A "Chicken or Egg" Question

We were out to dinner last night, and I told my fiance that I was going to start pointing at random things and asking how to say them in Danish.  He was on board, so I started by pointing at my glass.

Sort of an easy one.  "Glass" in Danish is "glas."

But he then asked if I knew how to say "a glass" ("et glas" in Danish).  This lead to a discussion about grammar and whether it's important to learn a language's grammar first, or its vocabulary. He asserted that it is more important to understand the grammar of a language first, and then pick up the vocabulary later.

Part of me wants to disagree.  If I knew every word there was to know in Danish, and I knew the grammar rules of the English language, I could probably speak Danish relatively well.  Sure, my sentence structure would make the Danes laugh, but at least they would mostly understand me, and likely correct my grammar.

What I actually think, though, is that the two need to be learned simultaneously.  It's really not a chicken or egg situation at all.

False advertising.  Sorry.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #2 - Oy...

That's right, I said "Oy."

Keep in mind, this is a small class to begin with, and the handful of us last week were at varying levels.  My fiance speaks Danish very well, but has been out of Denmark for a year and wants to brush up.  One girl is a beginner, but her husband is Danish and she also speaks 3 or 4 other languages, so she has a leg up.  And then there was a Spanish girl who was as much of a beginner as I am, if not more so.

Well, this week, my fiance had a work event, and the Spanish girl dropped out.

So, it was me and the girl for whom languages clearly come pretty naturally.  Not to mention that I definitely hadn't studied nearly as much as I should have.

From what I understand, the class is moving infinitely faster than a traditional, formal Danish class would, so I take a bit of comfort in that.  But...


I felt so lost today.  While the other girl read through sentences like they were in English, I struggled with the pronunciation of half of the words I saw and couldn't remember the meanings of most of them.

I definitely feel like I'm learning important stuff here, but...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Bi-Weekly Career Induced Hives

Here's the situation:

I've spent the last 6 years of my working in radio.  It's an industry that I've known for a while I would eventually need to get out of, because the industry is pretty quickly shrinking.

Well, this impending move to Copenhagen has put a pretty clear end-date on my radio career, since I don't currently speak Danish and there are no English language radio stations there.

So, you're probably wondering, whatever will she do for a living in Denmark?

And the attempt to answer that question has lead to a phenomenon that is relatively new in my life: the bi-weekly career crisis panic attack!  *cue fanfare*

I had this basic plan to go back to school when we got there, since I'd be a legal resident.  My understanding was that legal residents are able to go to universities in Denmark tuition-free.  Today I was informed that I'll likely have to be a legal resident for 2 years before I'm eligible to go to school without paying.  The last thing I need is more school loans to pay off, so this information has put that plan on hold.

I've been working pretty regularly since I was 16, and haven't been unemployed for more than a month here and there since I was 20.  Not to mention I've been living on my own (not counting a few failed attempts at cohabitation) for about as long as well.

Basically, the idea of living there and not being able to financially contribute to the household is kinda giving me hives.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Hunt for Expats

It was suggested by my fiance that I may want to try to make contact with the expat community in Denmark, both now and after we move to Copenhagen.

He's so reasonable, that fiance of mine.

So, that's what I've done.  I've run around the intertubes hunting for expat forums.  I've really only found one that seems all that active, but I'm looking forward to chatting with other expats about their experiences with moving abroad.

So far it seems that all of the expats I've had interactions with have been very kind and helpful, which is definitely reassuring.  While my instinct while I'm still in America is to say that I should spend all of my time with Danes so that I can immerse myself in the language and the culture to learn it more quickly...

I know I'll feel homesick soon enough and need an American or two to talk True Blood and bitch about Taylor Swift with.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Dog Ate My Homework

My fiance wrote up some phrases in English for me to translate into Danish.  I did two of the phrases last night, which was not at all easy.

I'd planned to work on some more tonight, but...

I was busy watching Bridesmaids and drinking brandy.

Which is not exactly the same as a dog eating my homework (and it would take a very talented dog to eat the email the homework was sent in).

Luckily, Professor Fiance is pretty easy on me and has given me an extension until tomorrow night (he just told me he could be tougher on me... but I don't believe him).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Informal Formal Danish Class #1

I've made it through my first Danish class.  Just a handful of us in a room in Boston in a building owned by the Unitarian church, with an organist from Denmark teaching the lessons.

Already I'm finding it infinitely more helpful than learning from the Teach Yourself: Complete Danish book/CDs.

While the class moved extremely quickly, and my fiance commented that what we'd gone over today would take weeks if not months in a formal Danish class in Denmark, I already feel like I've learned more of the basics than I would ever pick up from the book.  While the book starts off with a conversation, and then lists the definitions of the words after the conversation, such a method would really only be helpful if you already have a grasp of basics like how to say each letter and each number, or the days of the weeks or months, or years.

We covered some of those basics tonight, and will hit the rest of them next Wednesday.  Having an actual human being to interact with and ask questions of is so much more helpful than having a CD that just assumes I understand.

Or rather, assumes nothing but doesn't care.

The "Great" Bridal Expo: or How Not to Run a Bridal Show

Most brides-to-be bring their mothers or bridesmaids to these bridal shows.  Most shows are alright, especially if they serve drinks and have lots of cake vendors offering up samples.

As my mother and all of my bridesmaids live in other states, I asked my poor fiance if I could drag him along.  He wasn't excited about the prospect, but I would have been concerned if he had been.  He was a good sport though, which is always appreciated.

The "Great Bridal Expo" at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel started at noon on Sunday, but we arrived around one o'clock.  We entered through the lobby, and there was no sign of a bridal show at all.  Just hotel guests and employees milling about. 

And then we looked up...

On the balcony that surrounded the lobby was a line than snaked all the way around the place.  We tried to find either the beginning or the end of the line and couldn't seem to find it.

Frustrated and hungry, we went off to find some lunch.  A little food goes a long way to improve patience, so we decided to give it another shot after we'd eaten. 

This time, we went in through the back entrance, and there it was.  And... almost no line left at all.  I barely had time to fill out my registration form before we got to the check-in table.

As for the "expo" itself?  One small reception hall packed shoulder to shoulder with brides and bridesmaids and mothers (and even a few fiances), but almost no vendors worth more than a brief glance.  I think we spent less than 10 minutes circling the place.  A few tux shops, a few jewelry places, one bakery that didn't bring any cake (!!), and then a bunch of dentists and plastic surgeons (...for the bride who's just not good enough to get married yet?  Come on...).

Where were all the good vendors?

At the OTHER bridal show.  The one at Fenway.  The one I didn't even know about.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fascinating Posts About Danish... Later.

Not now.  But later.

A few weeks ago I found myself doing a Google search for the words Danish, lessons, and Boston.  The search came back with quite a few relevant leads, so I emailed a few links to my fiance to get his thoughts.

Turns out, he's been a busy bee since then contacting these various institutions about their services, and has found us a conveniently located, reasonably priced option for Danish classes.  Classes with other students.  And a real live teacher.

So, starting on Monday (two days from this post, for those keeping track), I'll be starting up classes.  I tend to do better in a classroom setting than I do when trying to teach myself something.

My self discipline is not one of my best things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ruby Reviews a Comedy Revue

This blog is not about Denmark, or anything related to the Danish language.  And it's not even about the wedding!

Nope, this is a little review of last night's Bill Bailey show at the House of Blues in Boston.  If you're not familiar with the fine work of Mr. Bailey, here's a little (hour-long) taste:

Last night's show was fully hilarious, but it did have some slightly awkward moments.  we'll start with the crowd.  Now, as you can see in that youtube video, he tends to draw a pretty massive crowd in the UK.  Sadly, not so much here.  We were excited when we got there and were told our balcony seats were being upgraded to floor seats, only to find that they were doing this because even the floor hadn't sold out.  The floor was maybe 2/3 full.

So the show started, and laughter ensued.  The crowd, while totally engaged, was also totally bizarre.  The heckling included shouts of "Enthusiasm!" and "You're Bill Bailey!"

All in all, it was a great time, but in the end, he left the stage and we thought the show was over.  Some folks were expecting an encore, but maybe 1/3 of the crowd started to leave... and then he came back on stage for his encore.  Awkward.

Thing is... this then happened A SECOND TIME!  To be fair, this time, while a bunch of the crowd had gotten up to leave, a loud percentage had stayed chanting his name.  And he came back with his glass of wine saying "What do you want??  I already have my wine!"  He graciously did another song, left again, and the sound folks put on music cuing us that it really was the end this time.

It really was a lot of fun, but I have a feeling he finished this, the last show on his tour, on a bit of a "WTF" note.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Learn Danish Without Really Trying

On Saturday night, my fiance and I had company over for dinner.  Now, in our house, that means an aperitif of gin and tonic to start, followed by several shared bottles of wine with dinner.

Some time in the middle of the meal, my fiance said something in Danish.  For the life of us, neither can now remember what the phrase was, but right after he said it, I said "Oh, that means..." and then I translated the phrase.

It was one of those moments where I said the translation, stopped, and then said "How did I know that?"

The answer?


Apparently, I'm pretty good at understanding Danish after a few drinks.  And as a Danish friend pointed out after I mentioned this, it may also help with my pronunciation.  In fact, my fiance just agreed that "the Danes rarely speak Danish when they're sober."

Were I much of a drinker, I would say I could learn the language much faster if I just stayed drunk more of the time.

Sadly, it seems am going to have to continue to learn the hard way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Anxiety and Naughty Words

I found myself really anxious this week.  I couldn't figure out what my problem was.  Thursday night, I actually told my fiance that I needed a drink.  I almost never do that, and especially not during the week when I wake up at 4:30 in the morning.

So he poured me a brandy and suggested we listen to some Brandi Carlile (which is always a good idea, no matter my mood), and I got right down to being introspective.

And then it hit me.  The reason I had been feeling anxious, the reason why going to work had felt especially difficult lately... I needed to tell them I was moving.

Yup, I hadn't actually mentioned to my bosses that I am leaving next year.  I thought I'd wait, so as not to give any excuse to let me go early (with a wedding to plan, that's definitely not something I can afford right now).  So, I'd been going to work every day keeping this secret, and it was making me miserable.

Yesterday, I told one of my supervisors.  He was 100% supportive and said telling the Big Boss wouldn't be an issue. He was actually glad to have lots of time to find a replacement for me (it seems my job is cursed... every fill-in we've hired to cover my vacations has quit).

And, you know what?  I feel a lot better.

And so, to bring you into the weekend, I present...

Danish Words With Naughty English Meanings!!

Fart - means "speed" in Danish
Slut - means "ended"
Slag (which, to be fair, is more UK English than American) - means "type" or "kind"
Tit - "often"

And no, it's not naughty... but one of my favorite words in Danish (of the ones I've learned so far) is "snart."  It's just plain silly and fun to say.  It's meaning?  "Soon."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's a Small World... (After All...)

BWAHAHA!  Now that's stuck in your head.  You're welcome!

This is just gonna be a short post, but I had a crazy thing happen today.  I joined a Facebook group for Americans in Denmark, and posted on the wall that I was looking for advice on good language learning programs.  One of the girls who responded happened to look at my profile and noticed we had a friend in common.

Yup, a random American girl in Denmark went to high school with a coworker of mine.  A coworker of mine who also happens to know my fiance as well (and not just from the company Christmas party).

Small flipping world, ain't it?

That's all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Wedding WILL Annoy You

A coworker and I used to laugh at people who were constantly talking about their weddings on their Facebook pages, or the local news anchor who did a segment showing off her wedding pictures, as though the whole city thought her nuptials were as big an event as she did.

I used to feel so very superior, thinking, "How ridiculous. All she talk about is her wedding. Doesn't she know that no one cares?"

Well, let me just apologize right now for complaining behind the backs of brides for so long. Why? Because I have become that bride.

Wedding planning has taken over my life and I find myself thinking and talking about it almost constantly, whether people want to hear about it or not. It helps to have other things, like Danish lessons, to focus on. But I'd say my brain is currently about 90% wedding, 5% Danish lessons, and 5% everything else.

I've found that there are two camps of people when it comes to wedding talk: Those who love weddings and want to talk about how the planning is going and give advice, and those whose eyes glaze over and may or may not ask me to stop talking. There seems to be almost no middle ground, either.

I'll try to keep my wedding-related posts to a minimum. "Try" being the operative word.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'll Have the Pre Cana with a Side of Turkey

It's official.  The Catholic church just certified me to get married in one of their parishes.  I'm as shocked as you are.

If you'd asked me a year ago if I'd be having a traditional wedding in a Catholic church, well I may have laughed at you.  Not because I was ever particularly against it, or the wedding traditions of any religion really... More that I would have laughed at the idea that a Catholic guy would marry me.  I'm not exactly churchy.

But there it is.

We spent the weekend at the Espousal Center in Waltham, MA doing their marriage prep weekend, as is required by the Catholic church where we're getting married next Spring.  It was actually a great experience, if you don't count my general awkwardness with all of the religions parts.  It was nice to have a specific list of topics to discuss.

I think the biggest thing that we learned  this weekend was that we actually know each other very well.  And we tend to either agree on most things or know where the other stands pretty clearly.  As my fiance said as we finished up our last discussion, "I guess this means we're ready to get married."

Truly, though, we are very lucky to have families that are completely supportive and that we're generally very open and honest with each other already.

We were wearing our smug faces for much of the time.

"But what about the turkeys?," I hear you asking.

Relax, I'm getting to that.

There were turkeys.  Out of nowhere.  Wandering around in the parking lot and the lawn.  At least half a dozen of them, happily gobbling away and chasing each other around while we were outside filling out our questionnaires.

Gotta love random turkeys.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why do you hate consonants?

That's right, I said it.  The Danes hate consonants.  So many are softened to the point of being unrecognizable or just forgotten altogether that it's making me feel like I'm speaking like a drunk.

And not only do they hate consonants, but they love vowels so much that they have nine of them.  I'm still working on remembering the new ones, and trying to hear the differences between the long and short vowels... which generally sound the same to me.

I will say this, though... Language learning books for adults are much more realistic.  For example, in the first conversation in lesson #2, Hans tells George (who has just arrived from England), "Du trænger til en gin og tonic, George. Det gør vi alle tre."

Translation?  Well, of course he's saying "You need a gin and tonic, George. All three of us do."

Amen to that Hans.  Amen to that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Are you gonna wear wooden shoes?"

I didn't know much about Denmark or about the stereotypes placed on the Danes themselves until I met my fiance. I figure that's probably the case for a lot of Americans who have never been there and are not of Scandinavian descent.

I do, however, get asked some interesting questions when I tell people that I'm moving. Here are some of the questions, and some of my answers:

Q. - What are the Danes like?
A. - Well, there are stereotypes that the Danes are very reserved and slow to trust, and can be hard to get to know. That may be true in a lot of cases, but I have the benefit of a fiance who lived there for several years and already has a lot of close friends there. When we visited for a couple of days back in April, every Dane that I met was incredibly warm and kind, though perhaps a bit shy at first.

Q. - Doesn't it get really dark in the Winter?
A. - Well, yeah. They're pretty high up there latitudinally. I have the advantage of having lived the life of a mole for the last several years. Going to work before dawn, sleeping during the day, and often heading home from work after sunset. So long nights? I can handle that.

Q. - Is everyone there really tall and blonde?
A. - Yes. Okay, that's a lie. But they do have more than their fair share of tall, blonde, model-esque folks. I've got the tall bit down, and I've kept myself blonde for a few years now... but the brown eyebrows may give me away as a non-native.

Q. - "Are you gonna wear wooden shoes?"
A. - Wrong country. The Danes are not the Dutch. It's surprisingly common for people to get confused about the northern European/Scandinavian countries. Then again... I wouldn't wear wooden shoes either way. My feet are big enough as it is, and they're hardly dainty.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Danish Language Learning Process

Last night, I went through the pronunciation guide and lesson #1 of Teach Yourself: Complete Danish for the 2nd time.

The good news is that I have about a year to learn the language.

Today, I thought I might explain my process. At the recommendation of my fiance, who is already fluent in Danish, I am going through each lesson at least twice before even trying to pronounce the words or do the exercises. Well... I'm trying. I still can't help but try to repeat what I'm hearing. Any fly on the wall listening to me would think I was insane.

Last night, a friend told me he'd never heard Danish spoken, so I sent him a youtube clip from "Forbrydelsen," the original version of the TV series "The Killing" which takes place in Copenhagen. His response? "It sounds like English. Backwards."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now...This is a story all about how...

Who starts a blog title with Fresh Prince lyrics but doesn't finish them?

This chick.

Anyway, I figure a bit of background is in order. So, I'll get you up to speed on some recent history:

In the Fall of 2008, right in the midst of the recession, my company basically gave me an ultimatum. Move to Boston (where, after one miserable semester of college, I ran screaming and swore I'd never go back) and keep my job, or stay in the already economically depressed city where I was... without a job. I grudgingly went with the former.

The next two years were some of my worst. With two cancer diagnoses in the family, one of which took me to a funeral on my birthday, a tumor of my own (thankfully benign) followed by surgery, plus the advance of the recession leading to pay cuts at work... twice, and all topped off with the death of a beloved family pet... 2009 could have been better.

While recovering from surgery that year, my oldest friend came to visit for a few days. The girl is always putting ideas in my head. I mentioned wanting to travel some day, and she insisted that I somehow move overseas. She made it sound so simple! I could just go! I seriously considered it while she was there, and then promptly lost all faith that I could make it happen.

2010 was a small improvement, but still riddled with heartbreak and frustration and that feeling that had been eating at me that I just wasn't... home.

In the Fall of 2010, a charming Englishman came into my life. The first time I met him, I thought, "I don't know if he's flirting, or just English..." In America on a two-year contract with his Denmark-based company. And what did he want? He wanted nothing more than to bring me with him when he moved back to Europe.

In April of 2011, he proposed on bended knee. In May of 2012, we'll be married.

I won't lie, I sometimes feel like my life has become an embarrassment of riches. But I am looking forward to the adventures to come.

At some point karma changed its mind about me, and I am okay with that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kan jeg Dansk? Nej.

Can I speak Danish?  No.

And the prospect of learning is daunting.  As my Teach Yourself: Complete Danish book mockingly tells me, "Danish is not a phonetic language, so spelling is no guide to how a word is pronounced."  Granted, neither is English, but I learned that when I was young and impressionable and didn't know that languages could be phonetic.

Then I went and took Spanish in school, which has extremely simple rules for pronunciation that are pretty much always followed.

I'm starting to think that the biggest problem with trying to learn a language at 30, as opposed to when we're kids, is that we're much better at convincing ourselves of how difficult it will be.

Kan jeg Dansk? Snart.  Damnit.

Mom Says I Should Be a Writer

When I told my mother that I was considering going back to school for music when my fiance and I move to Denmark next year, she had the reasonable motherly response:  Make sure you have something to fall back on.  She's been giving me that advice since I was a little kid who dreamed of being a Broadway star.

She was right, of course.

This time, her advice included "I think you're also a really good writer.  Something to consider."  Now, my mother has always been the smart one, so I realized I'd be a fool not to consider it.  However, writing has never struck me as something I had enough skill with to make a living at it.  So...

I'm giving it away to you for free.

You're welcome?