Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer!: Life in Copenhagen #9

(This was written 2nd of June and got stuck in the process.)

It's been almost two years. I have learned to ride my bike like a dane, which includes using the bell when the tourists wander into the bicycle lanes, to not worry if I haven't shopped for three days before a long week-end, and to call to talk to people in public offices, such as for instance the dreaded "skat", the tax department.

My language is changing, I am deliberately letting it slip into a more archaic form (to Norwegians archaic = Danish), and I am trying to decide which words may make it the easier for my students to understand me come fall. Some never will think I speak comprehensively, I know that, but I keep trying. I am practicing, in my head, to use "i" and "jer" rather than "dere" (which covers both in Norwegian), and "at" rather than "å". I have already given up words like "må" and "svært" due to its different emphasis in Norwegian and Danish, but I am keeping "enkelt". That one, my darling TAs assure me, is very easy to understand. It's "nemt", as they say. Hopefully, step by step, I will be able to lecture in a language a bit closer to Danish.

Until then, I take comfort in the fact that several of my students are willing to tell me, face to face, that they love the lectures. My Danish friends say Danes are introverts, reserved and uncomfortable with giving praise. I don't see that. My colleagues are warm, joyful, funny, and my students are interesting, challenging, polite, graceful and, surprisingly and extremely welcome, quite willing to thank me directly for the semester. I get that over and over again: "Thank you, for this term. It was a great class." Sometimes, even "it was the best class, the best class ever." I cherish that. It makes every exhausting lecture worth it, it even excuses what I do to my mother tongue.

But life is good outside of work too. The heat the last week has turned Copenhagen back to the city I fell in love with when I moved here. I wear sandals all the time, and have packed away most of the winter clothing. (OK, before I posted this, the weather turned COLD). I change into a T-shirt and work-out capris at home and just throw a thin top over for decency as I ride the bike to the Pilates work-outs. The ladies at Pilates cph deserve a mention. Perhaps even their own blogpost, soon. I started with Pilates years ago, but at home, from DVDs and books. It still helped, and as long as I managed to work out, my back gave me less problems. Then I found a teacher, for a day or two a week, in Ørsta. I loved it, but my schedule and hers made it less than efficient. Here, there are classes 6 days a week, all year, and I can schedule time online. This means, for instance, that even if I am travelling to Norway or Finland more than every second week since the beginning of April until the end of June, with a conference here in Denmark, I manage to get in two sometimes three work-outs a week. I have a long way to go to control a perfect "teaser", but I can get up into it, and hold it long enough to roll back down somewhat controlled, if I don't have to stay up there, showing off.

You might think I'd be more physically active in a place like Volda, where there isn't much else to do but hiking and living healthy. The truth is: I have had less pain since we moved to Copenhagen than I have had any other winter since 1985. And now it's warm, too, my muscles feel like butter, and I enjoy moving about, something I have rarely liked. Are there no problems? Oh yes, last week I was at a conference in Roskilde. Despite the effort, I never managed to get on the right train to get there on time. Partly it was me, not being sufficiently prepared - but how can I prepare for sudden 20-30 minute delays of the trains, and the chaos that is Nørreport station? The sudden heat caused the shoes that I had worn to work without incident just a week earlier to rub my feet raw, and the conference was on a topic I didn't know, leaving me to feel alienated and odd, like a giant dancing bear among all those tiny, serious women studying culture. After three days of heat, trains, Danish lunches and uncomfortable lecture-rooms I was physically wrecked.

Before that I had, for some reason, had 50 000,- dkk of "benefits" added to my income by the tax department. I was totally unable to track down where that had come in, as the electronic tax form didn't tell me. Hence, see the first paragraph. Mastering conversations on the phone with tax officials is vital. Also, the pollution worries me. I ride my bike to work and home through a cloud of exhaust, every day. I take some comfort in the fact that most of the time, I also ride up against a strong wind coming off the sea. I try not to think of what it carries with it from Germany, Poland and the other countries to the east and north.

And I miss the mountains. That plan I had: To sell Rotsethornet to Denmark, so we could have a bit more light? I still think it's a brilliant idea, but from the other side. Imagine how impressive it would have looked in Amager fælled? And imagine the opportunities it would have offered: just the resistance from the climb, the sensation of getting somewhere, getting up - yes, I miss it. But I'll go to the summer house this summer, live by the fjord, climb the mountains, curse the rain. I'll hurt, be cold and exhausted, and long for this little apartment right here, in the city.


Thomas said...

If you are going to buy Rotsethornet, I'll be more than glad to share the cost! (We may even get some sort of refund from Skat!)

Torill said...

Thanks Thomas! I think it would have created its own micro-climate if we managed to move it.

I am not sure I am willing to call Skat ever again though, even if it might help me afford Rosethornet on Amager!