Friday, December 12, 2008

Strange days

The stress continues here. The millions of phone calls to get started in Denmark continue. Everything here is so interdependent and automated. It's probably great for when you are already living here but, for us, nothing seems easy. I must have heard variations of the sentence "let me just look up your information from your previous county...". I am impressed with how much they know about me, though. In America, it seems like you can wait for hours while asking about some service, like cable or internet. You tell different people your number, alway having to start over. I was calling a bank the other day and the computer asked me to type in my social security number while I waited for the operator. Two minutes later, the conversation was over and the lady told me that she would send the cards out the same day. Didn't she want my address, I wondered? She had gotten that off my social security number! She even knew I was a doctor. I guess that means no more spelling my street address every time I call anyone.

We are slowly getting settleb. But, boy, do I miss the kids. I tear up several times a day, thinking about something they may say or do. Daughter is coming for a brief visit in less than two months. I am counting the days already. There is a bit of tension between the Girl and me. It can all be boiled down to the fact that I am a hundred times less excited about being here than her. I keep thinking about the first time she asked me about moving to Denmark. "Can't we go there?", she asked. We were trying to fgure out where to go with our careers, both having dropped out of residency. I could have said "No, I can't live that far away from the kids" and it would not have been a topic. A year later, they are pictures on the wall, their inanimate eyes looking at me. I miss them so much I can't bear to think about it.

We were not sure what to do back then. The Girl just had her intern year and I had my internal medicine residency. It would have been impossible for both of us to do what we wanted and stay together. Looking back, I wonder if I should have dropped my own specialty ambitions and let the Girl do her surgical residency. I would not have been 100% happy working in small ERs for the rest of my life but I would have been 95% happy and I would have been closer to the kids.

Well, what's done is done. There are so many things to be excited about and, let's not forget, Daughter is coming to live here, starting this summer. The Girl and I signed up for some races this summer, most importantly the Trans Alpine Race, which sounds insanely cool. The format of runners having to run in pairs makes the race a little less of a peak race for me, as I will be running the whole thing with the Girl. On the other hand, I will be helping her and, probably, push her a lot of the way. We will have to practice running like that.

We also have a cool, new apartment. I am starting a great job. I am currently running injury free. There are several smaller races coming up, including a marathon in 4 weeks. Life is good, if not for that piece of my heart I left behind in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

8.2 K race report

This was a small race, which most likely has the same people running it over and over again. It's run the first Saturday of every month with points being tallied up every 6 months. This was the Christmas edition so there were prizes.

I had the gall to ask the race director about the race route. He looked me over and told me just to follow someone else only it came out sounding like: "Well, I don't know how fast you are...". He didn't want to insult me, that is. Very Danish. I replied that I was pretty fast, which was also very Danish for "I actually expect to win so I do need directions". Of course, the Girl broke in with her American carpet bombing mentality and stated (in her beautiful accent) that I would easily win.

A small faux pas on her part. The race director then turned around and asked, with some amusement, how fast she was. To which the little vixen replied (with an accent that would make any man melt): "I am not fast at all".

Of course this had ired some of the Danish chicas, who were all eyeing her up. There she was, with uncombed hair, cotton pants, wearing too much clothing, with (gasp) ear phones in her ears. If the sexy accent was not enough, her over-all "I don't give a damn"-attitude probably annoyed the spandex clad ladies.

I figured I had it won hands down and that the Girl would take third.

We both won, though. I had a pretty easy race and only got lost once. It was near the beginning so waiting for the second place guy was not a big deal. The route was very hilly with a monster hill on the last lap. The Girl came in with a group of guys. We each won 100 Danish Kroner, which is almost 20 dollars. I guess we are pros now.

After the race, we talked to people a bit. It seemed a little bit like we had crashed a party but everyone was very friendly. We ran home. I was getting a little dizzy, while I believe the Girl actually had to stop and soil the Danish land with a little poop.

Good times. Next up is a marathon in a month. That's if we can put in the miles before then. I plan on sandbagging it the first hour, as usual, of course.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Old Country

It's been stressful to set up shop here. Every day, it's a million phone calls to get myself and the Girl situated into Danish life. We found an apartment, bought a car. The Girl found a good language course for foreign doctors.

At times, I am excited. Mostly, I think about the kids. As I am typing, I keep glancing over at their pictures on the wall. I talk to Daughter every night on the phone and picture where she is in her room, whether she is sitting or standing. I wonder what it would be like to lift her up and touch her. Leaving them like this is a potent mixture of longing and guilt that often brings tears to my eyes.

I have a recurring fantasy about surprising them after school one day. It's torture, because it won't happen; but I think about the looks on their faces and the night that would ensue. We used to have nights together that I took for granted; trips to the YMCA, books in bed.

It will take some time for me to come to terms with living away from them. Daughter, of course, comes over to live here this summer. I can't wait for that moment when she moves here. Son is still too young to talk to on the phone and I am not sure he understands that we moved away. Towards the end, he would break my heart sometimes with his naive ways. A month or so before the move, we were running together, doing something I can't remember. He stopped and looked up at me and said "I'm a fast runner like you, Papa, because you are my Papa". Near the end, I would pull him close to tell him that it wasn't his fault that I was moving and that I would think about his every day. I told him it was the stupid doctor world, which made us do it. He didn't understand at all.

The Girl seems to be adjusting just fine. It's an adventure for her, of course. She is picking up Danish impressively quickly to the point where she can carry a slow conversation and watch Danish TV. It's a bit of an issue between us, that I would prefer to be in the US with the kids, while she would prefer to be here. I try to be as excited as I can for her sake and, at times, I am truly happy about being here. At the same time, it's brewing under the surface. I feel like if we hit some major setback here I would want to bail immediately, whereas she would want to stay here.

As you can see, it's hard. I think things will be fine in a couple of months.

Running-wise, we are both running lots of slow miles. We have an 8.2K race on Saturday, which looks to be fairly uncompetitive. Someone fast could always show up but I doubt it. There are "Christmas Prizes" so it will be interesting to see what the family brings home. Will post a report.