Friday, September 09, 2005

Midnight Football 

I woke up at 2:50am to do what I'm doing right now: mainlining coffee and watching the Patriots and Raiders and loving every minute of it. But I can also safely say that this is one part of my life here that I will emphatically not miss whenever I return to the states.

Both teams look like they're going to be a lot of fun this year. It's still the first half, and at this point it looks like it's going to go back and forth until one of these defenses lays down the law. (Which would have opened up the possibility for a whole lot of puns when the Pats still had Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy.)

Molli's been waking up around 6:30 lately, so if this game drags out I'm actually going to have to watch the final moments while giving my daughter breakfast.


On the other hand, she's gonna have to start getting used to watching the Pats with her old man eventually. Best to get these habits started young.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Show Me the Clowns 

Why are there no pictures accompanything this story?

They've got some pictures in Politiken, but no clowns.

BT has the clowns, but no cops.

Berlingske Tidende wants me to register and I hate that.

Dammit, if you're gonna have police in riot gear messing with clowns in clown gear, get it on film!

(My persistence pays off in the end, though: the clowns have the pix!)

The Night the Lights Went Out for Georgia 

Denmark just drubbed Georgia 6-1 in their World Cup qualifier. It was an utter rout from start to finish—the Georgians never had a chance. They weren't defeated so much as humiliated.

The Danish national team has been playing very well lately (their impressive if "friendly" bitch-slapping of England won't soon be forgotten), but even if they manage to upset the defending champions (Greece), they still need Turkey to lose to Albania to qualify for the finals.

The U.S. team has already qualified.

I like international soccer, but the real action for me begins tomorrow night. I'll be setting my alarm for 3am Friday morning to watch my two favorite NFL teams, the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, kick off the season.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Stakkels Lille Danmark 

Poor little Denmark. It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of Europe: no respect at all. Respect? It doesn't even get noticed.

At least, that's the thrust of this article in today's Politiken.

Most foreigners, according to the article, "have an idealized picture of Denmark as a country of fairy tales, healthy citizens, and badminton stars."

The source of the data is interesting: it's from a survey of 67 Danes living abroad in over 40 countries, most of them sent out by the foreign ministry or large corporations. The respondents have lived in these other countries for five to ten years. The survey was conducted by the Danish "A4 Weekly." (Their presentation of the data is here.)

So it's actually a survey of Danish expats' personal interpretations of the attitudes of the natives around them. Any surprise that nine out of ten foreigners have a positive impression of Denmark?

According to one such expat in America, not many Americans can say anything conrete about Denmark. "The normal American knows that Denmark's in northern Europe, but it's very often confused with Holland." (It's also frequently confused with the Netherlands.)

The Chinese reportedly think Denmark has a fantastic climate because Danes look so healthy and fit.

According to the expats, nearly half of the normal citizens in the countries in which they're living don't know where Denmark lies on a map of the world.

Politiken seems nevertheless surprised that the increasingly restrictive Danish laws on foreign immigration "haven't set us on the world map in foreigners' consciousness," observing that "it hasn't set Denmark in a bad light, as many had otherwise feared." (Not least, I would assume, the Politiken editorial board.)

The article concludes with a note of self-criticism, quoting a Dane who's been living in Vietnam: "There's a damaging smugness in Denmark. Danes have to be a little more aware that we live in a global culture and that one has to be open to foreign impulses."

Danes are very hard on themselves. It's part of their charm—although they sometimes protest too much. One gets very quickly accustomed to the phrase, "We're just a little country, but..."

Yes, it's a little country of very big Buts.

Monday, September 05, 2005

An Hour of Her Own 

Trine did allow me to go in a moment or two ahead of her to pick Molli up (see previous post if this makes no sense to you). The kids had recently finished lunch and were playing throughout the room. I didn't even see Molli at first. One of the teachers had to point her out to me: she was at the far end of the room, her back to us, playing with a little toy stove—opening the oven door, then closing it. (Opening it, then closing it. Opening it, then closing it. What could be more fun? How could it ever get dull?)

I called out to Molli. She turned around, smiled brightly at me for a few seconds, then turned right back around and resumed her engrossing doorplay. She did more or less the same thing when Trine arrived.

We were informed she hadn't cried at all in my absence. She'd been very happy for the whole hour. She'd had a big, full meal and enjoyed it.

We all three stayed another ten minutes or so. Molli whined and pouted and very nearly cried when we took her away. She fell asleep on the way home and she's still sleeping. We'll go through the same routine tomorrow, only she'll stay there longer.

Vuggestue, Round 1 

It's a little before eleven Monday morning. Half an hour ago I left Molli at vuggestue. I tried to do it the way they tell you to:

I picked her up in my arms. I held her so her face was close to mine. I looked in her eyes and said, "I know you don't understand this, but when I say farvel I'm going to leave you. It's very safe here and you're going to have lots of fun and I'm going to be back in one hour. I love you. Farvel."

Then I set her back down in the playground, turned my back to her, and walked away.

It was a pretty long walk to the door leading out of the enclosed vuggestue playground. I couldn't help turning around. I expected (and hoped?) to see Molli playing happily or babbling with a teacher. Instead she was squatting in the sandbox, staring after me with confusion or incredulity or god knows what sad and frightened emotions all over her face.

I felt like a monster going through that door and closing it behind me.

I'm leaving in fifteen minutes to pick her up again. Trine's going to come with me. Now that I think of it, though, I'm going to ask Trine to wait outside the gate for a moment while I go in to Molli, because I don't want Molli to think I'm the awful parent who takes her places and leaves her there whereas mommy is the wonderful parent who comes and saves her from whatever awful situations daddy has put her in. For some reason I think it's important for Molli to have some continuity with pickups and dropoffs, at least the first couple of times. Is that too silly?

Probably it is.

I don't know what I'm more afraid of when I go back: a Molli who was sad and miserable the whole time of my absence but lights up at my arrival, or a happy little girl who's been having great fun and hardly even notices my return.

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