Friday, April 27, 2012

Shuffling Off to Buffalo

I'm sitting in the JetBlue terminal at Boston Logan International Airport, waiting patiently for my short flight to Buffalo.

I'm sort of fascinated by airports.  Before last year, I never really spent much time in them.  In fact, before last year, I hadn't flown at all since 2001.  It wasn't a 9/11 related break from flying.  Just circumstance.

They're like casinos.  Little self-contained citied that try to make you feel at home, but completely miss the mark.  For example, there's a Boston themed bar at the Copenhagen airport.  Who decided that was going to be a big draw for Danes or folks traveling in Denmark?

And I always get flustered going through security, but only because I feel like I need an extra set of hands to get all of my stuff into the little buckets, and then to get them back out in time to avoid pissing off everyone behind me.  I imagine frequent flyers have that whole thing down to an art, but I certainly don't.

Now that I'm at the gate, though, and only have to sit and wait for boarding, I've started to get a bit nostalgic.  I'm heading to Buffalo for what might be the last time for a while.  Buffalo is one of the places I've lived that always felt like home.  The people are nice, there's always something to do, and with such a depressed economy, everything is reasonably priced.

This trip is a special one.  Yes, it's my bachelorette party weekend, but I see it as a bittersweet goodbye to a city that has meant a lot to me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Want to Go to There

I go back and forth between being seriously stressed about the move to Denmark, and being seriously excited.

Maybe it's the magic of a good night's sleep and a sunny day, but today I feel really positive about the whole thing.

I've gone through a few of the things that I'll miss when we move, but I thought I'd go through a few of the things I'm looking forward to.

1.  Home ownership - My fiance's spent much of the last year or so insisting that what's his is mine, and I've had a tough time really wrapping my head around it.  But I've finally started referring to the flat that he owns in Copenhagen as "our" flat.  I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty and making it feel like home.

2.  Change of scene - New England just isn't for me.  It never has been.  I've met wonderful people here, but it's never felt right.  I'm excited to find out if Denmark feels more right.

3.  Learning Danish - For real this time.  I've made some minor strides to learn it on my own, but once I'm a legal resident, I can start taking official Danish classes provided by the Danish government.  I'm looking forward to having some structure to my Danish lessons, and classes where everyone is at the same level as I am, so that I don't feel like I'm holding everyone back.

4.  Proximity to history - Europeans love to chuckle at us Americans for being so awed by anything that's older than 50 years old.  Eddie Izzard sums it up beautifully in this clip:

Last year, we stayed in Roskilde, Denmark for a couple of days, and I was amazed by Roskilde Cathedral.  Built in a 12th and 13th centuries, it houses the sarcophagi of hundreds of years of Danish royalty, and was just steps away.  It's one of the most breathtaking places I've seen.  And I look forward to seeing far more.

There is quite a bit more that I'm looking forward to, but now that I've started thinking about how beautiful Roskilde Cathedral is, I figure I'll end this post with a few photos from our visit there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Be Cool - Go Back to School

I apologize for slacking on posts this month.  So much on my mind right now, but it's been tough to gather all of those thoughts and put them together into a coherent post.

Not that this one will be any more coherent than the rest.  But it's always a goal.

So, apart from the wedding and the move and everything that goes along with those endeavors, the most daunting thing on my mind right now is the prospect of trying to go back to school, once we move and I've learned Danish well enough to be admitted into a program.

It's complicated, both logistically and psychologically, for me to take this plunge.

Logistically, it's a matter of finding out what I qualify for financially.  This has brought up the somewhat controversial question of SU.  SU is a government agency/program that provides a stipend for Danish students attending university in Denmark.  That bit isn't all that controversial in Denmark.  The Danes pay high taxes, and this (on top of free tuition) is a benefit that they see from those taxes.  It becomes controversial when you're a foreigner who is potentially also eligible.  According to the SU website, I may be able to receive this stipend as well, since my fiance is an EU citizen.  If I am given "equal status" to that of a Dane because of my marriage to him, then I would be eligible to receive all (or most) of the benefits that a tax-paying Dane would receive, without having grown up there and paid taxes there my whole life.  That being said, we will be living and paying taxes there starting this summer, and have no specific plans to leave, so this issue is far less controversial in my mind than it is for many Danes and expats.

The psychological complications with this school thing are far more complex and irritating.  It's all about insecurity.

Worrying about whether or not I would even get into a music program makes me scared to try.  Truth is, I realized recently that I'm the musical version of the jock whose career peaked in high school.  All of my major musical accomplishments happened when I was a junior and senior, with some minor overflow into my first 2 years of college.  Most of the friends that I've met in the last 10 years have never even heard me sing (bad karaoke doesn't count).

The logistical issues are issues that I can deal with through research and patience.

The insecurities will take a bit more to get past.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Massholes - A Special Breed of Unpleasant

Back in January, I wrote about the things that I will miss when we move to Denmark this summer.

Yesterday, however, I was reminded that there are also things that I will not miss.

Now, maybe this kind of thing happens in any big city, and I certainly saw plenty of it in New York, but I have a feeling that the two incidents that I witnessed yesterday were more typical of Boston than almost anywhere else.

Let's start yesterday morning: I had some errands to run, but my first stop didn't open until 10am.  So, I stopped by a local diner for some breakfast.  I could tell the waitress had a bad attitude immediately.  I stood waiting to be seated for a good 5 minutes while she finished her conversation.  After she seated me, she went to clear a couple of tables, only to return to the coworker she'd been chatting with earlier to loudly complain about the size of the tips she'd been getting that morning. "Four dollahs from three tables!  Four dollahs!"  A little while later, after clearing another table "A dollah twenty-five?  That's what he leaves?!" Perhaps her tips are so small because she complains so loudly about her small tips.

Rumor has it that tipping isn't as customary in Denmark, unless the waiter does a really excellent job. Waiters there are paid a living wage.

Later in the day, I was slowly making my way out of Boston through some typical mid-day traffic, and I see the driver of the minivan in front of me give the finger to an old man on crutches who was trying to cross the street.  At a cross-walk.  Where he's supposed to cross the street.  I'm sorry, was he inconveniencing you?  Oh, Boston.  Oh, Massholes.  What am I gonna do with you.

I'm sure there are rude people everywhere, but there's a special breed of self-important jerks in Boston that you rarely find anywhere else.

And that is something that I will not miss.