Saturday, December 15, 2012

on expatriation and culture and landing in the mid-atlantic

some of the projects we have in the pipeline have me thinking about how shaped by culture, one's own and the one in which one finds oneself, we are. defined. how it locks us in boxes and leaves us feeling superior (or inferior) because of it. and how mind-numbingly LIMITING that all is...on both sides.

i stumbled across a blog written by an american who made the move to sweden. it's on, a cool site that the swedish institute runs in english - all about living in sweden (wish denmark would have had such a thing back when the internet was in its infancy and i moved here). it got me thinking about all those things that i thought were so alien when i first moved to denmark. some of them still puzzle me, but i've actually gotten used to a lot in the 14-ish years i've been here.

~ i remember my first time in a grocery store, scrambling as i realized there was no one there to pack my groceries and not only did i have to do it myself, i had to PAY for the bag to put it in!

~ when i arrived in denmark in the late 90s, mobile phones were still rather a luxury item in the us - mostly doctors and other important people had them, people with their own cars. i remember being shocked to see people on the bus talking on their mobile phone. if you could afford a phone, what on earth were you doing on public transportation? (i had a lot to learn, both about public transportation and about mobile phones.)

~ the sight of a man in a suit, riding a bicycle and smoking a cigarette. in my mind, a bicycle was for exercise, not necessary transport, and who would smoke or wear a suit while exercising?

~ people treating cemeteries as parks, laying out in their bra and underwear in the first rays of spring sunshine on a towel with their bike leaned up against h.c. andersen's grave, catching some rays and drinking a beer.

~ public nudity. this one was technically in sweden, but as the ferry pulled into landskrona, there was a row of colorful little houses along the waterfront and a bunch of naked swedes were jumping in and out of the water from the doorways of the little bathing houses.

~ no one ever holding a door open for you if you were coming along behind them. it got so bad, i thought that they were actually waiting to strategically drop it in my face for the most profound rudeness effect. later, i realized that many danes, if they didn't meet you when they went to kindergarten with you, actually lack the ability to see you at all. it's kind of a like you're wearing an invisibility cloak.  this is one of those things i never get used to, it still surprises me and sometimes even hurts my feelings - i just can't help it.

~ signs with the word "fart" on them. in an elevator: i fart. along the roadside: fart kontrol. i thought the danes were obsessed with flatulence and i thought they were pretty darn organized to think they could control it. but it turned out to mean motion or speed - so the elevator was in motion when the i fart sign was lit. and the fart kontrol was a friendly warning that a cop (or just an unmanned van or camera) with radar was just ahead, so you'd better stop driving like a maniac.

* * *

speaking of expats in denmark, i made a new blog friend!

* * *

and speaking of denmark.
film is a powerful medium.

* * *

you have to see what kit lane made of the lila hairball we gave her.
utterly fabulous.

No comments: