Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A life more ordinary


I realize this will sound strange to all the moms out there who just want a break from their kids, but the past few months have been torture for me. Between my residency interviews and job in Denmark, I have hardly seen these boys since October. It is unthinkable at their young ages. 

I have been from Minneapolis to Kansas City to Chicago to Denmark to Utah to Minneapolis to Pennsylvania to Washington DC to Newport Beach, VA, to Duluth to Minneapolis to Phoenix to Orange County CA to Duluth to Baltimore to Duluth to San Francisco to Sacramento to San Francisco to Denmark to Chicago to Duluth to La Crosse -- and now-- finally... back in Denmark with the boys.

All this for a residency position in the US starting July of 2015 so I can get a medical specialty that is recognized in both the US and Denmark. 

I was reading a gal's blog (from my hometown) who has a brain tumor and how much she values those simple nights when she is just "alone with her boys". I don't think I have a brain tumor, but I could totally relate to this. Now I appreciate it all. Not least of all the guilt trip from everyone who has been helping me watch the kids. Life is MUCH better and easier when you aren't both constantly feeling guilty and constantly worrying about what is going on with your kids. Is it only moms who can relate to this feeling?

I basically had given up about the fact that they were eating waffles with chocolate and syrup every morning and corn dogs or pizza for dinner every night. 

But now I am in charge. It is amazing how much I embrace cooking and cleaning for my little offspring in our little apartment. I seriously can't remember the last time I was this happy.

Oh mackerel, tuna in tomato sauce and salad that doesn't taste like cardboard. Denmark, it is great to be back! 
 I have to admit that I have had it up to ^^^^^ here with Facebook about the bending of the truth about the amazingly extraordinary things people do. It seems the value of normalcy and doing the right thing is not valued as much unless it can be posted on Facebook. Or is this just my impression? I realize more and more that good living is about simply making it through each day the best one can and developing patterns and routines one can stick to... Open faced sandwiches on Barbapapa plates and serve them next to Runner's Word magazine (the British version where weight is in stones- oh yeah!)
You dissin my gray sweater?

And I can go on slow runs despite jet lag and weight gain - and find my old favorite places.
Gavnø harbor
Again Gavnø Harbor- Næstved's gateway to the Atlantic. The only time it will be frozen all year. My last three runs have been in short sleeves.



 I love the Herlufsholm track. It is one of the places I feel most at home


Nothing great, but getting it done. 25 laps on a track is a lot.

Same place. Same gloves. Different day. OK - I suppose I should switch my Garmin back to kilometers now.
Kikkan Randall does pull ups with 25 extra pounds. She was asked in Outside Magazine when it was she really started to pull away from her competition in her Nordic sprint competitions. "When I started regularly doing strength training".

Lately, I have been incorporating an actual bell bar and heavy weights into my training. I even grunt and make strange audible breathing noises. It is kind of fun.

And, as many of you know, I have given up wheat- and have stuck to it for over a year now. So I rarely drank beer before this, but then drank some (½ a bottle) at a party at one of my residency interviews and had this very severe reaction to it! I really thought a little wouldn't do anything, but I was slurring my speech, felt sick to my stomach and suddenly couldn't keep myself from falling over with fatigue at 7PM (it was only a half a beer!). I actually had to leave the resident get together early, which normally would have been unthinkable at a program I would love to match to!

I have found this book brings up a lot of fascinating points (which I started reading afterwards) about the very new (from the 70's), very genetically modified food we call wheat that people eat without ever questioning it. I am not about to go prescribing wheat free diets, I just found it a fascinating, thought-provoking read.

written by a Cardiologist from Wisconsin
Now on top of that, I have given up sugar, which has been a great decision. It makes me feel a lot more energetic. It is nice not to have the fluctuations in blood sugar. I had to go back on it though when I got the stomach flu last weekend in La Crosse- it is HARD to find things to eat with the stomach flu when you don't eat wheat, sugar or meat! I have to thank Robyn for the inspiration to give up chocolate (sugar), by the way. It was tough to convince myself I wouldn't develop chocolate deficiency.

So where is SR? He is still in Duluth, working hard. We miss him!! Why am I here? Because I was told very directly by my PhD adviser that if I did not get back to Denmark ASAP and finish my PhD that I would not be granted a PhD. So we are here until that is done. (I have been awarded such a large amount of money by private and public funds to do this study and so many people have invested their time that it is unthinkable that I back out. And that had never been my intention- and I don't in any way want to!)

I was interviewed a few days ago over Skype by the New York Times journalist Anu Partanen about differences in health care, pre and post natal care and maternity leave in Denmark vs. the US. Her book will be on cultural differences between the US and Nordic countries and what these countries can learn from each other. She is originally from Finland. She has got my head spinning thinking about cultural differences and the importance of them. They are everywhere.

Exhibit A:

This is Christian with his best friend, Frederik in our yard today.

Christian has explained to me multiple times that he has not had a best friend like Frederik in the US. I had not thought much about the fact that Christian and Frederik roll around and wrestle so much - and even hug each other- until Christian's kindergarten teacher in Duluth said to me that Christian needed to stop "touching" the other kids. I had no idea what she meant and was worried "touching" meant like - "down there" but it turns out he was just trying to hold hands, give hugs og tickle. He got in trouble every time and even got time outs. I was at a loss about explaining to him why he couldn't do this, since he was so used to it, and it is the way kids here play and show affection. I just had to say "respect your teacher and the other kids' space".

Then Danni and I were discussing on Facebook Americans, Russians, Danes and gay rights. Yes, when I moved here the mayor of Copenhagen (and actor from Festen, etc), Klaus Bondam, was openly gay and gays really do have the same exact rights and straight people here. And the X-Factor winner a couple years back was a 15 year old lesbian with a steady girlfriend. It is just not questioned or discussed here and that gays are discriminated against by law (and attitude always follows) is very tough to understand.

But- I will say that Denmark's politics and attitudes towards foreigners are not something I can understand or condone. I have really gone through Hell and high waters to apply for permanent residency and for all I know, I won't get it. I hear story after story about wives and children, etc etc being deported. Sometimes I feel it is only a matter of time and I cry on my runs in the woods here thinking- what if we were never allowed to come back?



Just thought it would be educational for the readers to know which countries in the European Union do NOT allow double citizenship:

Estonia
Lithuania
Austria
Denmark

Here is a pic and a cool video taken by Frabricío of our 40km run by Stevns Klint two weekends ago. That Canon go-pro camera is seriously impressive.


Stevns Klint is going to be one of Unesco's worldwide protected sights because you can clearly see evidence of the meteor ash that probably killed the dinosaurs in the chalk along the shore.
I really ought to loosen up a bit when I run!


Running song of the day: Sømand af verden by Dodo The Dodos. 


11 comments:

Jen Andersen said...

Ah, dual citizenship. That would make live so much easier! We don't even go back and forth nearly as much as you do but I'd hate to have all my years of DK residence go to waste if my husband is transferred to the US and have to start again if we move back.

sea legs girl said...

Jen - sometimes I think the reason double citizenship isn't allowed is people who don't need it can not conceive of the reasons others do. Yet husband and wife pairs from two different countries have to deal with such extreme complexity, inconvenience and worry. This is really one of those- you would not understand unless you have been there, I fear! I do think, though, that it is at a point in Denmark where, if enough attention is brought to it, the law will change. Denmark doesn't like being "behind".

Karen said...

On Facebook, I'd much prefer to read that they are happy and enjoying things in their life (if that's the bragging you're talking about?) than read about the ones that think life sucks and everyone is out to get them. If someone wants to share cooking triumphs or dozens of photos of their kids on the "big kid potty" because that's what makes them happy, I'm cool with that.

If the person hasn't said something to me directly that I find offensive or upsetting, I try to think about why it upsets me. Usually, it is more an issue of my own shortcomings and insecurities than it is about them. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the saying goes. Maybe that's why those things you mentioned irk you enough to blog rant about it?

Fast Bastard - World's Fastest Hematologist said...

Wow, this post really made me miss good old Denmark (+ you and the kids, of course).

This frigid Duluth winter is wearing me out. Who knew that I would miss the dark, rainy days of Danish Winter?

I haven't run outside since California. I know it can be done, if only I wear 9 layers and a face mask, but I just haven't done it.





sea legs girl said...

Karen, I totally agree and that came off wrong. I love it when people are happy. I just miss perhaps honesty and normalcy sometimes. But I take that as a sign I should just spend more time with my kids and friends than on Facebook. I edited what I wrote so it sounds less negative. It is also hard to know what I am talking about without specific examples- and I really don't want to go there. As I have discussed here before I really do love getting news of friends' achievements and happiness. It is a tough balance. Sometimes people post things to PROVE something because they aren't happy and that is the kind of thing I talking about. Readers are always smarter than writers/posters think!

sea legs girl said...

FB- I think the sun is up earlier here now than in Duluth! Or maybe I'm just jetlagged. Wish you were here now.

Karen said...

I guess I view social media as the highlights reel of someone's life, one could say the same about blogging. I do agree with you; it's the little things that make up a life. Even as a blogger, it is tough to accurately portray that there's a balance between all the grand adventures and time I just kick it at home with my cat and my garden.

Fast Bastard - World's Fastest Hematologist said...

The days are shorter in Denmark until March 21st (spring equinox). Also, Duluth is pretty far East in the time zone, so I would imagine it rises even earlier here.

I looked it up. Sunrise in Duluth is 7:20. Sunrise in Copenhagen is 7:45.

Robyn said...

You really gave up chocolate?!?! BIG big congratulations! Proof that your mind and your will are as strong as your body! It's great to hear that it's making a difference for you, too!

Now that I'm done with the latest Whole30, I'm sure my sugar habits will eventually come creeping back, but for the moment, I really don't miss sweets. I had a few chocolate chips last night, the first chocolate since finishing Whole30 6 days ago, and they were good, but not in a MUST HAVE MORE way. But then, I've never had much of a sweet tooth.

More interesting to me is that since treating my iron deficiency anemia, I've lost much of my salt craving -- which I have had for YEARS. I wonder now how much of it was "adrenal fatigue" (which I don't even BELIEVE IN) and how much of it was pica.

Wait, so you've been interviewing for NEXT year's residency match? 2015? I'm confused. We just finished interviewing people to start in July 2014. Anyhow, congratulations on being finished and back with your sweet boys. Glad you're enjoying some "ordinary time"!

Olga King said...

I love, love NORMAL life! I hate FB with all the rah-ruh and great things we do, and no photos of crying dirty children or mentioning of fights with our spouses! Life is NOT perfect! It just is.
Glad your boys are with you, and keep my fingers crossed your family finally lives together at some point - and has jobs:)

Danni said...

One thing I can say about Facebook is that it's definitely better to stay away from anything that's not just light and fluffy unless you have the stomach for Facebook conflict, which I really sort of don't it turns out.

I can't imagine there being anything ordinary about parenting. I am so.freaked.out. Unlike preparing for any race or anything else for that matter. What you call ordinary I call crazy train unimaginable.