Don’t You Want Me

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Speaking of absolutely nothing remotely related: For reasons that shall remain unknown, I was listening to an 80’s radio station today. And after suffering through Patrick Swayze (rest his soul, but was it really necessary for him to record “She’s Like the Wind” and for the world not only to not ignore it but rather to keep playing it for 25+ years??) and Billy Ocean (get out of my radio and into your car and drive far away, please) I was saved by The Human League and their amazing song “Don’t You Want Me”. And as we find ourselves in that weird twilight zone-week between Christmas and New Year’s where I am obligingly trying to stay tipsy on vintage port, I started thinking about why this song is so brilliant. I came up with the following (listed below in random order) but would love to receive your additional input. Input on why this song is anything less than awesome will be deleted immediately. Just so you know.

The Human League

  • You will be hard pressed to find a song which more perfectly captures that electronic 80’s sound
  • The music video (I know. It technically has no relevance to the song itself. But please watch it anyway)
  • In its own way it is a sad love song (or maybe more of an indignant love song from the male side I suppose) but hey, it’s up tempo enough that you can dance to it in your stockinged feet at that point of the party when almost everyone else have gone home and the hosts wish that you and your few equally rude friends would, too
  • There are generally too many sad love songs that require a partner to slow dance with. And as we all know the many pitfalls of the slow dance, I much prefer a love song that allows you to jump around and – more importantly – engage in the lost art of air keyboard playing   
  • The abundance of trench coats and the unisex make-up artistry in the video (see comment on music video above)
  • The chorus which allows you to pathetically sing-ask any random stranger on the dance floor if they really don’t want you, when you know that they most likely really, really don’t. And that’s OK. Because they’re not supposed to
  • The lyrics that reveal the male protagonist as a right wanker
  • The composition of the song which practically begs for its chorus to be sung out very loud (top of lungs preferable) while the singers carry out a complex choreography of jumping in place while the right arm is stretched into the air with a fully extended index finger pumping the arm up and down to emphasize the words.

I have to admit that the last point itself is enough for me to find the song brilliant. What else could you possibly want from a song? Now, please watch the video and follow above instructions carefully and kindly help me in reaching my goal that this song is compulsory at every house party you attend from here on out. So you’ve gone to a Renaissance theme party? I don’t care. I’m sure Louis XVI and Marie A. would have related to the lyrics.

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About finding another woman’s clitoris (without even trying)

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None of my blog subscribers can accuse me of spamming their in-boxes with new posts during the past few months. There are many reasons for that. One of them being the unmentionable: my running. Yes, I am still doing it. And it has taken up quite a bit of the precious alone-time I can steal away from my family. And this means less time for blogging.

Actually, yesterday marked my first six months of running. “Hooray!”, as we love to shout here in Denmark. Any excuse and we’re at it: “Hooray”! As you may recall, I made a vow to not talk about it. I’ve done fairly well on that. Not as well as I’d hoped. I’ve done better on the running than on the not talking about running. Especially since I had a small injury that meant that I couldn’t run for a month and which made me miss my first big goal: an official 10 km race last Sunday. Hard not to talk about not running apparently. I was disappointed to miss the race, but seen as I unexpectedly ran my first 10 km in March anyway (yes, I am trying to brag, people. Please just indulge me and politely ignore it) it was almost OK to miss it.

Not me

Not me

I have to stop myself here before I make all this talking-about-running worse. I mainly mention it because it leads me to a more important, burning and rather vulgar issue. This is not for the squeamish, so consider yourselves warned. OK? I have warned you. You want to read this? Don’t blame me later. Good? Good!

During my break from running, my remote running coach, the wise Badass Aussie (henceforth to be known as Yoda), insisted that I keep exercising in some other fashion. As part of this scheme I have been going swimming three Sundays in a row. And let me tell you this much: Gentlemen, if you are having problems locating the female clitoris (is there any other kind? If so, please tell me all about it!), do find a way to take a field trip to the women’s showers in the public swimming pools of Copenhagen. Since the popularity of the Brazilian wax has spread like bushfire (so, so sorry – tried to stop myself but it couldn’t be helped) it is like one big clit fest around here. Turns out that “innies” and “outies” are terms that can be applied not only to navels but also to the part of the female anatomy popularly described as the “pleasure centre” in many a cringe-worthy trash novel.

If my interest was to look at ladies’ love buttons I would find myself a lovely lady and get to work. However, it is not. And even if it was, I don’t think I would appreciate the view while standing under the lukewarm shower with my feet firmly planted in other people’s abandoned hair, old band aids and dead skin cells. Although I like to think that I am all liberal and Scandinavian and stuff, I tend to get quite uncomfortable when being forcefully faced with grown women whose privates are barely distinguishable from those of their three year-old daughters.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not the new spokesperson for Bring Back the Bush. Trim away to your hearts’ delight, ladies! But if you plan on a trip to a public pool it would be most appreciated if you could leave at least a slim courtesy “curtain” to keep the most private part of your privates just that: private. It has come to the point where I am grateful when a woman with a wall to wall carpet steps under the shower across from me.

It’s bad enough when I go to the pool on my own. But sometimes I will have Linus with me. Linus, who is not yet four years old and thus thankfully still has an excuse to be ignorant about clitorises. Unfortunately he is also of a size that puts him at direct eye contact, so to speak, with all the “outies”. And I just know, with the certainty of an old fisherman who can feel a storm coming by the phantom ache in his amputated thumb, I just know that one day Linus will either a/loudly inquire into the function of said “outie”, b/inform the bare-naked lady that she has grown a rather unattractive wart (he will tell her if he finds it ugly) or c/ (nightmare scenario number 1) push the love button in an attempt to produce a loud noise, flash a light or, better yet, shoot lava/laser/fire. I beg for the mercy of the heavens: Let it be option a!

What is with all this sudden baldness? I blame porn!!! *points quivering finger at computer screen* But the interesting thing is that in my prejudiced mind, I wouldn’t mind quite as much if the be-waxed females at least had had the decency to invest in disproportionately large plastic bosoms, bleach their manes and get multi-coloured hair extensions and lip liner tattoos. Then my world would make sense. I would assume that these ladies were headed straight for an orgy on or off camera as soon as they were done showering and shedding hair (from heads only, of course), band aids and dead skin cells.

Not a pube in sight - I guarantee it!

Not a pube in sight – I guarantee it!

But most of them look indecently average. Which sort of makes it worse. Like they are triumphantly signalling to their fellow swimmers: “Look at me, I may be a librarian, specialised in Nordic mythology and medieval looms. But I am also such a sex kitten that I pay people to pour boiling hot wax on my flaming loins and have them rip it off after which I will have to contain my through-the-roof libido for the recommended 10 hours post wax before I throw myself at my virile husband/lover/boy toy and engage in advanced Tantric sex non-stop for the next three weeks until it is time for another Brazilian. Oh, and yes I do realise that my clit is showing. I’m having it pierced this afternoon. So there!”

These guys are currently on a short break from their insatiable, clean-shaven wives who are temporarily occupied demonstrating medieval weaving techniques. But not for long.

These guys are currently on a short break from their insatiable, clean-shaven wives who are temporarily occupied, demonstrating medieval weaving techniques to a large group of tourists from Blackpool. But not for long.

I know: This is beginning to sound like a bad case of envy. But honestly: While I embrace diversity and everybody’s right to be who they are, whatever their preferences may be, I am also a hypocrite who personally has a slight aversion against people who worship Thor and dress up in hand-dyed wool and bonnets on weekends to greet tourists with “God’s blessings”, only to move on to the public pool after Medieval Festival to put their sexuality on display to innocent by-swimmers.

I find it slightly hard to understand what is happening in this country these days in terms of boundaries. On one hand we have been so influenced by the world of porn that 16 year-old girls are gifted with breast implants from their mothers before their bodies are fully developed, women must be waxed to within an inch of their lives and people bleach their anuses (you can’t make this stuff up). And then, at the same moment, women are increasingly banished from public places if they have the audacity to breastfeed their babies in a place where other adults are having a meal. Last month, here in Denmark, The Board of Equal Treatment ruled that cafés had the right to turn away breastfeeding women because they might violate the modesty of other paying customers. Most women I have seen breastfeeding in public cover themselves so that all you see of their attributes is usually much less than they would show off in their party dress on a good night out. But men and women alike are falling over each other in public debates to comment on how offensive, vulgar and unnecessary they find it.

When did that happen? It was never a problem before. But thinking back now, I think it became a problem juuuust around the same time I first started seeing all the bald lady-bits in the showers. HAH! PORN! I knew it! So basically, our society has become so pornographied that people now perceive breastfeeding to be a sexual act that should be performed in private. But proudly parading your exposed lady-penis around the changing room is A-Okay? Please get back to reality, people!

I am not on a crusade against porn. But I do wish that it could be left in the private sphere, so I wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences on Sunday afternoons. And while I do realise that I am at risk of sounding like a neo-puritan with all this, please humour me and imagine if the next big thing would be for everyone to wear underwear, specially designed to show off their bleached anuses. How would that become you? Personally, I desperately hope that I will be able to get back to running by then. Because I don’t think I will ever be quite ready to face that.

 

Boys, boys, boys!

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Warning: This post may contain traces of oversharing, nudity and sappiness.

I wasn’t prepared at all when it hit me. Like a tiny punch somewhere between the heart and the stomach. A poster advertising a travel agency. Picturing a little girl and her mum seen from behind. In bathing suits – enjoying a holiday on the beach. What caused the tiny punch, I think, was that some of the girl’s hair was pulled back into thin braids, tied together at the nape of her neck, almost forming a heart. When I was a little girl, my hair used to be braided like that. The poster made me realise something very obvious. Something I have known for years but which honestly hasn’t bothered me at all: I don’t have a daughter. I’m not going to braid my little girl’s hair. I’m not going to buy her pretty dresses and see her turn around a million times to make the skirt twirl. I’m not going to paint her nails and let her borrow my make-up for playing dress-up. (Mind you, Linus has shown a keen interest in my nail polish lately.) In other words: There will be no mini-me. I’m alone with all the boys.

Photo: blog.shareresults.com

This is where I could nervously assure you all of how much I love my sons and how I wouldn’t trade them for anything etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. For those of you who know me, I don’t think that is necessary. For those of you who don’t: rest assured.

After all, being the mother of two boys is so rewarding. Like one Saturday afternoon, when I was on the sofa, dosing off and nursing a 4-hour cold (yeah, that was really weird – very efficient, though). Linus was playing on the floor, or so I thought, when I heard his tiny, cute voice sing-song: “Muuummmyyy, ooopen your eeeyes”. I lovingly opened my eyes and stared straight into his 3 year-old penis, which he had proudly fished out of his pants; thrilled about the novelty of the easy, post diaper-wearing access to his new best friend.

Generally, I must say that I am naïvely surprised at how much of little boys’ lives revolve around their willies. Dances are choreographed for maximum wiggle effect, songs are composed in their honour, is it still there-checks carried out with very brief intervals and how much longer can it get if I pull it-tests dutifully performed daily. Add to this all the conversation revolving around it. At this point it is still sort of fun and cute. But I must admit that I hope this obsession will cease within the next five to 10 years. I know. Who am I kidding? At least by then, perhaps the obsession will be slightly less public.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like my little boys are completely narrow-minded in their obsession. They also enjoy talking about, showing off and wiggling their bums. And looking at bums. Especially ladies’ bums. And boobs. So how could I not show Bjørn the  Baby Got Back video? Yes, in some countries they would probably take away your kids if you did that, but this is Scandinavia. Different rules apply. OK, I have to admit that I didn’t do a preview before showing it to him. And I hadn’t watched it in the last 10-15 years and didn’t quite remember it like that. Thankfully he didn’t quite grasp the full extent of its crudeness. But he was mesmerised.

Although I can appreciate the vision of a beautiful lady’s full and rounded derrière as much as the next girl and almost as much as a 6 year-old boy, we don’t share tastes in all areas. I am generally not a big fan of burping. Well, tough times ahead, little lady, being all alone in the house with three males. Because there will be burping. And it will be fun! All I can really say is: “Way to practice the alphabet, sweetie.” A while back, Linus even tried to tempt me into smelling his burp in exchange for having him burp straight into my mouth afterwards. I politely declined. Months later when he literally farted into my mouth (by accident? not too sure), I didn’t get a chance to pass on the offer as no offer was made nor any warning given. Probably the most fun, revolting moment of my life. Bjørn was present, and at some point, shortly after the incident, I was afraid that he would end up proving to us that it is possible, after all, to die from laughing. Yes, we are a family of sophisticated individuals.

Photo: dinosaur-toys-collectors-guide.com

Perhaps nature knew very well what it was doing when it gifted me with two boys and no girls. At least I will always be grateful for having a relatively princess free home with dinosaurs and rocket ships taking up the space that might have otherwise been occupied by Barbies, plastic tiaras and endless quantities of blinding pink. I find it surprisingly easy to be enthusiastic about a T-Rex, a tall crane or a race car decorated with flames. So much so that, ever since Bjørn came into my life, I find myself constantly paying attention to stuff that is officially labelled “cool” in the boy book. When the boys are not around I have to swallow back a loud “wooooooooooow, look at that!!!” if I pass a particularly awesome bulldozer or a very long freight train. I am still upset now, months later, that they weren’t with me when I happened to see an über cool, huge boat especially designed to install sea windmills. The picture below doesn’t even begin to do it justice. I had to jump off my bike to gawk at it and I am not sure that I completely managed to keep down the woooooow on that particular occasion. And at the time I couldn’t even see that the boat had legs. LEGS, I tell you!On a BOAT!

Photo: denkorteavis.dk

What I could do with a bit less of, however, is the shooting. I’ve never been a big fan of guns. Not real guns and not toy guns. So in the beginning of my parenting career, I was quite determined that there would be no room for toy weapons in our home. And Anders agreed. However, it turns out that, if you’re a boy, anything can be a gun. I had already predicted that sticks or coat hangers would make great rifles. But when I learned one morning that a piece of carefully bitten-into-shape toast could double as a pistol, I knew we were defeated. As I write this, Bjørn enters the room, waving a piece of Linus’ toy vacuum cleaner around as a sword. Point proved, I guess. So at this point in time, we also host a limited number of guns, swords, knives and daggers in our home. And if you ask Linus, all weapons shoot lava, laser or fire. Not bad for a piece of toast, if you ask me.

A match for the toast?

On the positive side: Whenever you drop your phone charger behind the bed, you always have a long sword handy to fish it out with.

One of my weaker points as a parent of boys is my lacking ability to stay focussed when presented with seemingly endless, detailed run-throughs of computer games played. Or with the various powers, pre- and post upgrade, of all Skylanders. Bjørn recently started playing chess – actual chess, with real pieces. Not (exclusively) a computer game version. This obviously brings me great joy (and a very small, nagging fear that he will join the chess club in a few years, stay a virgin until his late forties and never leave home) but I can’t stop getting annoyed every time he or one of his friends say that they “killed” the other player’s queen. Boys! Chess is not some shooting game. A little respect, please.

The Seventh Seal

I have come to terms with the fact that boys are often (not always, I know) noisier, wilder and dirtier than girls. However, I love how little boys can smell of dirt and fresh air at the same time when they come in from the garden. And I love how their take on things is different than girls’. We recently watched the old Karate Kid film together for the first time. When I saw it as a kid back in the 80’s, I loved it because of the beautiful Ralph Macchio and I wanted to pretend to be Elisabeth Shue. This was basically accomplished by throwing a tennis sweater over my shoulders and staring dreamily into space. My boys, however, immediately wanted to be Karate Kid after seeing it, and spent hours jumping on/from chairs, bugging me to tie scarves around their heads and attempting roundhouse kicks with little success. Seems to me like a healthier response to a Hollywood production.

I honestly still want to be Elisabeth Shue when I see this photo. (Note to self: cut sleeves off hoodie).

I honestly still want to be Elisabeth Shue when I see this photo. (Note to self: cut sleeves off hoodie).

That being said, it should be noted, that apart from dinosaurs, Star Wars Lego, guns, swords, pirate hats, cars and Skylanders, the spoiled brothers’ rooms also contain a plastic vacuum cleaner, baby dolls, a doll’s house, a stove with pots, pans, plates, cups etc. and a lot of wooden “food”. Needless to say, the wooden bread knife is mainly used as an assault weapon, but they have both played very happily with all the above things. And still do. When we bought Bjørn a baby doll when he was around 18 months old, some people thought it was odd. I think that was odd.

I don’t think we can get around the fact that to some extent boys and girls are different. I don’t think it’s a problem. I don’t believe in the Swedish model of coming up with a gender neutral term for the kids instead of saying he or she. I don’t see the point. As long as we allow them the opportunity to figure out what they want without limiting their options based on their gender. I thought it was cute when I picked up Bjørn from the nursery years ago and he and his friends were now and again playing with matchbox cars while dressed in flammable, acrylic Cindarella dresses. And I think it is cute when I pick up Linus from Kindergarten and he is disguised as Spiderman. And I do believe that my boys will spend more time play fighting and less time playing with pearls than the average girl. But I really don’t care if that turns out to be true or not, as long as they are happy and healthy.

At this point I truly enjoy being a witness to the lives of these funny, beautiful, obnoxious, spoiled, loving, curious, hot-tempered, clever little boys and the feeling of missing a daughter has disappeared again. If it comes back, I’ll just decide that Linus is a girl and let his hair grow, start putting him in dresses and call him Linnea. He might not mind, as long as I let him wear my nail polish. The fire engine red one.

Post scriptum: The other day, Bjørn brought home a boy and two girls from his class. One of the girls introduced herself to me by explaining at length how she was born with a defect that made her able to burp on command, continuously, without breaks. Forget all the stereotypical BS I wrote above. I obviously know nothing about little girls.

 

The foreign Danes

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To all you foreigners who live in Denmark and have adopted it as your second home – I have a soft spot for you. Even though I am aware that many of you are here for love of a particular Dane and not for all of us, you have a special place in my heart.

You who have spent days and months and years learning our outrageous language which no-one else in the world speaks, except for this pitiful little group of 5.6 million Danes. You will never find another use for it than speaking with us. And you knew that when you embarked on your laborious learning journey. Could anyone ask for a bigger compliment?

You who may have learned to appreciate black bread and liver paste for lunch. Perhaps even pickled herring? I don’t even like that. But every time I see a non-Dane eating an open sandwich for lunch, my heart melts. I’m not talking about the fancy ones that we show off and feed the tourists. No. I’m talking hardcore, no garnish, flat piece of bread with nothing but a slice of ham or salami. Hats off to you!

You who have watched every single episode of the all time favourite Danish TV series, “Matador”, and even know the characters as if they were distant relatives whom you remember fondly from summer holidays past. And who know what we are talking about when we start discussing whether anybody ever really saw headmaster Andersen on that balcony in his pyjamas.

You who throw in Danish words when you have a conversation in English. Because you think it’s easier.

You who buy tickets to concerts with Danish bands who sing in Danish. And have the albums at home.

Malk De Koijn

You who bike to work. Even when it’s snowing.

I realise and appreciate that you have not given up your own culture to do all this. And I am certainly not assuming that you don’t have complaints about this country and its natives. Of course you do. We’re awful! And this is exactly why I have a soft spot for you. Despite the Danes and the obvious shortcomings of our country. Despite having other options. Despite not always being made to feel welcome in this self sufficient miniature queendom. Despite all this, you have chosen to stay.

Every time I meet another one of you – and I have been fortunate to meet many – I am struck with awe and wonder. And touched that you so wholeheartedly have chosen to adopt my country, language and culture when you had the perfectly comfortable and acceptable option of living here, while maintaining your own culture, language and lifestyle without being influenced by your surroundings. Just like many Danes do when they live abroad. I don’t have a problem with people who do that. I have in fact more or less been one of the people who did that when I lived abroad for a few years. But the fact that you have chosen the other path makes you stand out. And it sincerely warms my humble, Danish heart. Thanks for staying!

This is not a New Year’s resolution

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Let me make this absolutely clear: Talking about running sucks! If you are not talking one-on-one with like-minded marathon freaks, do not talk about it in public. It is extremely boring and makes lazy arse people like me feel left out of the conversation. Picture this (and this is just one example of many): You have just arrived at a much anticipated Christmas dinner party. You’re all dressed up. Even threw on a few hundred sequins to signal that you are one crrrrazy granny, ready to partaaay (OK, this image may work best for the female readers. But then again. If you’re a guy and you threw on a sequined garment, you are surely ready to partaaay as well. Would be my assumption). You sit down at the beautiful table, next to lovely people. Who, without a moment of hesitation, start a conversation about their marathon training. WHAT?!?! Really? The hosts have made a real effort to make this party a success. People have been looking forward to it for a year. Everyone is getting ready to attack a buffet of animal fat and aquavit. Who the hell is interested in hearing about your personal exercise regime at this exact moment? Most certainly not me!

"So you only eat canned tuna three weeks before a race? Really? Fascinating!"

“So you only eat canned tuna three weeks before a race? Really? Fascinating!”

I am not sure when this happened. When did people in Denmark become so obsessed with running? Why can’t they just go for a run and stop fussing?My dad used to run a lot when I was a kid but that was never a big deal. He didn’t need any special equipment. Two of my best girlfriends have been doing it for decades. And all I’ve ever heard about it, is the two of them making plans to go to an annual race and then their discussion afterwards regarding the quality of the sponsor gifts. That’s really all I need to know about. They have never bored me with lengthy details on special diets, injuries and the pros and cons of barefoot running. And for that I am thankful.

Which is why this blog post is so unreasonable. Because I am going to commit the sin. I am going to write about running. I am so, so sorry! I almost promise that this will be the only time. But this is force majeure. I, Christina Kjær Favrbo, have taken up running. I know what you are thinking now: “Oh, but of course, another thing you’ll do. For three weeks.” And you could be right. But I have a feeling that you’re not.

In November I posted on this blog about my inability to maintain a healthy balance between eating and exercising. No big deal. That’s just my life. But one of my most faithful readers could not ignore this blatant negligence of my health. So he has taken it upon himself to get me in shape, bless him. And I think this could be what makes the difference. Previously, when I have tried to get serious about exercising, my efforts have quickly dwindled. But those times I have not had the potential wrath and disdain of a badass Aussie hanging over my head. And even though he currently lives in New York and cannot inflict any bodily harm on me, I do not want to be at the receiving end of his wrath and disdain. No thanks. I’d rather go for a run if that’s all it takes to stay on his good side.

So since mid-December, I have started running three times a week. Is it premature to tell you about it already? Definitely. I will spare you the details of the training program. I am not that unreasonable. But let me just say that the very first run was amazing: I felt like Rocky (the 70s version).

Thankfully, no kids showed up

Thankfully, no kids showed up

I knew from the beginning that music would be crucial to this being a success for me. I find that the selection has to be very careful, as I tend to subconsciously align my pace to the song I am listening to. So taking the first slow steps with Rage Against the Machine’s “Bombtrack” as the soundtrack was good for a soft start. And after digging out a party playlist on my old iPod, I now finally have the chance to practice the rap in “No Diggity”. Will try to do it in my head only. Towards the end of a run the other day, I even found myself grateful to hear the otherwise despised words: “It’s Britney, bitch”. The beat in that song is not too fast. Suited me just fine. It might (or might not) have been towards the end of the same run that I suddenly realised that, for a few minutes, I had run behind a mother who was taking a leisurely stroll with a pram. Without gaining on her. Time to step it up.

Whenever I meet another female runner who looks a bit new, clueless and out of breath, I recognise myself and contemplate slapping her a high five as we pass each other. I mean, at least we’re out there, right? One small request to all you gentlemen runners, though: If you overtake a lady runner, would you consider holding your breath in for the nanosecond it takes you to pass? My heart almost stopped today, as I heard a very loud and heavy breath directly in my ear, which turned out to stem from a male runner rather than the crazy madman I had immediately pictured. I appreciate your consideration, thank you.

It is once again confirmed to me that I am a city girl at heart. Just running in the park in broad daylight is enough to freak me out if it isn’t very crowded. Is that guy with the greyhound in the quilted jacket (the dog, not the guy) really out walking his dog or is his true agenda to jump on me with a rope and tie me up so he can drag me off to some abandoned bunker where I will be kept and tortured for weeks with only the jacket-clad canine for company and consolation? Just to be clear: This is not a lustful but a fearful fantasy. In case anyone was in doubt. Knowing you guys, I’m sure someone was.

Can you blame me?

Can you blame me for freaking out?

On my way out today I met a man who was walking his dog. He was looking at me with a kind of smirk on his face. I wanted to ask him what his problem was. Was it my shocking pink running jacket? My shocking pink cheeks? Or perhaps it was just the sheer oxymoron of me, running.

See what I did there? Same thing I always do: Make fun of myself and display my total absence of faith in my own ability to achieve anything. Fear not, I will most likely keep doing that. But actually, during this very short period, I have experienced that I can do what everybody else can do. “Well, duh”. I know. But I am genuinely surprised that in just two weeks I see a development and feel a commitment to this project. And so far, the badass Aussie politely refuses to buy any of my excuses and “I really don’t think that is possible for me”-crap. So much so that today, as per his suggestion, I found myself paying money to sign up for a 10 km run in June. If you don’t know me, you have no idea how crazy that is. It is. Crazy. But somehow I suddenly tell myself that maybe it isn’t really that crazy. I mean, most people these days do an Ironman, right? So I should be able to run 10 km six months from now, right? Right!?

But it has got me thinking. My self image is pretty much like that in all aspects of my life. No idea how that happened, actually. And maybe this is my wake-up call to understand that (cliché alert) where most things are concerned, I can achieve what I want to, as long as I put in the effort. I am just as capable as the next person. I will stop here before it becomes necessary to illustrate with close-ups of orchids or butterflies.

So now you know. I have a new project but part of it is to not talk about it to everybody. So if I do, feel free to tell me to shut up and talk about all the interesting and important stuff I normally talk about. Such as…yeah well, you know.

Oh, and by the way: If I have ever asked you about your running, it’s because I actually wanted to know. Trust me, I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise.

There’s no such thing as bad weather

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For once, the Danish weather is on cue. On the first of December, perfect little snowflakes start falling from the sky. And when we wake up the next day, we open our curtains to a winter wonderland of dimensions. When I get past the stress of my 3 year-old expecting me to build him a snowman on horseback it is absolutely lovely. The snow being on time for Christmas. Brightening the otherwise opaque, Danish winter season with some rare light. Lending a romantic air to my city with roof tops powdered white and trees heavy with thick, soft snow. OK, I’ll stop it here. I’m clearly not a poet but you get the gist.

During the first week it is fine: the sidewalks are cleared and roads are accessible. Even the bicycle lanes are fairly OK. But then last Sunday, as I am getting ready to meet my mum for brunch in another part of town, a blizzard decides to accompany me on my bike ride. Apparently Blizzard and his mates Snow, Sleet and Hail get so fond of Copenhagen that they decide to make a week of it. So since Monday, my bike rides to and from work have been little adventures, sometimes bordering on extreme sport.

Photo: politiken.dk

At times my heart is beating at near tripple speed from the effort of biking in the wind and even though I am unusually impatient to get to work so I can get inside and out of the cold, I am also happy to stop every now and again to catch my breath. Waiting at the red light I spot a woman (a man?) wearing an ugly, knitted hat. I lift my eyebrows to myself, rather bitchily thinking: “how attractive” for exactly the one second it takes me to realise that I am passing judgment on a fellow cyclist whilst sporting Wellies, thick ski trousers, a big jacket, a huge scarf, no doubt a red nose and, the cherry on top, a bicycle helmet. Very attractive. The ski gear doesn’t make me look one bit like this

but rather like this

Moments later, an attractive man makes eye contact and smiles at me. “Oh,” you think, “so it couldn’t have been that bad. That Christina is always exaggerating.” Well, had I been the naïve and optimistic type, I might have agreed. But I’m not. Because I know better (taps finger on side of nose). What he was really thinking was:” Oh bless. Look at that poor, fat woman in her ski suit. How unbecoming! It really does her no favours. Her thighs look absolutely massive! How does she get through the day? I’ll flash her a little smile to make her feel a bit better.” Well, thanks for that random act of kindness, handsome stranger. Didn’t work.

What did cheer me up a tiny bit, however, in the manner of finding comfort in someone else’s misery, was seeing another man wearing one of my pet peeves, favoured by Danish men at wintertime: The ear-warming headband. I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of a (no doubt Danish) man wearing one but although I have searched the internet for longer than I care to admit, I have been unable to find photographic evidence of this crime against fashion and common decency. No wonder. No self respecting male would allow anyone to take his picture wearing that. So here is a defenceless mannequin’s head:

Photo: zappos.com To those of you who wear this, I have four words:

  1. Wear
  2. a
  3. bloody
  4. HAT!

Why this need to keep the top of your head free? Let’s face it, most of you don’t really have that great hair anyway. And besides, it still gets messed up by this abhorrence. Sorry, what’s that? Your head gets too warm and that is making you uncomfortable? Oh! Do not get me started on what makes me uncomfortable!

Speaking of uncomfortable: During the blizzard Sunday, I was biking next to a bus. It opened its doors at a bus stop to let out a woman, who was wearing thin pantihose and bright red patent leather stilettos. In a blizzard. She was on the phone to her friend and chatted away quite happily as she was slipping and sliding along. It must have been a walk of shame type situation as Danish women are generally dressed according to the weather conditions. Which is to say that we look like Moomins for a disproportionately large part of the year. I only thought it was the Japanese who wore stilettos at all the wrong times. I once saw a woman in Southern Japan wearing stilettos as she was walking up the side of a volcano to get to the crater. Had we had any volcanoes in Denmark, a woman like that would be ostracised by a bunch of females in weatherproof suits, headbands (yes, the women wear them too!), Haglöfs backpacks and very sensible shoes. And later perhaps beaten to a pulp with a walking stick and fed to the volcano gods.

This group will be seen leaving the scene of the crime

This group would be seen leaving the scene of the crime

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sensible attire. I believe the earlier description of my winter wonderland wardrobe goes to show that. But as soon as the snow melts and the temperature goes above -5 Celsius, could we all agree to throw the ski trousers and the headband deep into the back of the closet and never ever mention again how we selfishly sacrificed style for comfort because of a bit of snow? Coco Chanel is turning in her grave, I’m certain. Let’s not upset her any further.

Confessions of a glutton

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I know this absolutely lovely girl. She embodies everything that I am not. She is graceful and stylish in the manner of Audrey Hepburn. Slender and well-dressed in what I perceive to be a subtle, quality conscious, Parisian intellectual style (not sure if that creates an image in anybody’s head but mine). She is kind and thoughtful, modest and discreet. And last, but not least, she is the kind of girl who can enjoy three almonds and think of it as a satisfying snack. Well, actually I don’t know what she is thinking, but that is how it comes across. The best part is: She is not being annoying about it.

I lack most of the qualities listed above. Mostly, I lack the self-restraint required to enjoy three almonds. Sure, I’ll enjoy three almonds……and then another ten. Preferably covered in chocolate. Sadly, I will never be one of these women who enjoy “just one piece of very good chocolate”. Nor will I ever be one of those women who pretend to enjoy just one piece of very good chocolate. And that is OK with me. Very high on my (admittedly, quite long) list of pet peeves are women who eat three green peas and a stick of celery and proceed to spend the rest of the evening going on about how full they are and how bloated they look. Listen, lady: Your belly is swollen because of malnutrition! Now, stop moaning and eat that white bread you’ve been coveting since 2007.

You know you want it!

My problem is that I go to the other extreme. It is like I was born without any self-restraint whatsoever. If I am not actively and very consciously on some kind of healthy diet, my life is a no-holds-barred contest in intake of saturated fats and processed sugar. I don’t think I am hungrier than most. Just greedier, I suppose. My only limit seems to be nausea. Thank you, body, for at least having that function in place.

Every two or three months I inevitably start thinking: “This is it! Enough is enough! Have some self control! You’re not getting any younger! It’s time for the new me! It’s now or never! (Insert five more clichés of your own choice)!” Tons of veggies are purchased. Kilos of carrots are peeled and munched. Brains and cookbooks are racked for healthy and delicious recipes which will be a hit with the whole family, including two fussy boys (slim pickings, I tell you). Exercise may even be contemplated. And I will be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Even about contemplating exercise. I will discuss it with those of my female colleagues who happen to be at the same stage of the self-restraint cycle at the time. We will approve each other’s choices and theories on what it takes and how it’s done. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said stuff like: “Yeah, it’s really just a matter of habit. I feel so much better – physicallly and mentally – when I eat healthily!”, I would most likely be on-line to book a luxury trip around the world rather than to write this blog.

I’ve been there so many times, that even as I utter those or similar phrases, a voice at the back of my mind is calling my own bluff. After a while, I will forget to bring carrot snacks to work and have a cracker instead. I may even stop seriously contemplating the exercise. And slowly but surely, the healthy, low-fat, vitamin-, mineral- and fiber-packed meals are replaced by high-carb dishes with lots of cheese. At the beginning I may feel guilty and kid myself into thinking that it was just a lapse, and “I’ll be better tomorrow.” But then I’ll remember: “Oh. No, not tomorrow. That’s Tina’s birthday party. Would be so rude not to eat any birthday cake. Saturday, then! Ah, no – we have that reservation for the new Italian restaurant. And I’m not going there to just order a salad. No way! That would be just ridiculous! I hate it when women do that. But Monday – that will be perfect: New week, new beginning…but…on Monday I have that thing where I’d rather stuff my face with cookies, chocolate and pasta carbonara than carrots, rice crackers and grapefruit.”

Not long after, I will admit defeat and get back to the lifestyle of the old (and true?) me. If I am fortunate enough, my colleagues will be at the same point of the cycle now, so we can confirm each other in our “choices” and share other clichés such as “you’ve got to live a little!”, “you only live once”, “well, one shouldn’t be too strict, or it won’t work anyway” or “we deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while”.

And interestingly, we never seem to treat ourselves to just three almonds.

The camera hates me

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You know those people who remain calm and relaxed when a camera lens is directed at them? Who happily put an arm around the shoulder of the person next to them and flash a beautiful, natural smile? I am not one of them. The camera hates me. And the feeling is mutual.

Let it be said, that I am not often pleased with my appearance. But even on the rare occasions where I am even slightly OK with my reflection in the mirror, one can be certain that if a photo is taken of me, it is sure to reveal triple chins, a goofy smile, a weak profile, hair from hell, big teeth and/or hitherto unknown wrinkles. Naturally, I am no fan of the expression “the camera never lies”.

On a good day

Photoshop, you say? I already have one full time job, thank you very much! One horrid picture at the time, I get more and more reluctant to leave the house, as I feel certain that, any day now, small children will point, stare and laugh. And eventually it is inevitable that the villagers will chase me back to my castle with pitchforks and lit torches, and demand that I leave town.

My childhood belongs in the pre-digital era. Thus the number of photos existing of me from age 0-18 is probably somewhere in the range between 100 and 200. In comparison, when Linus was born, we had recently bought a new digital SLR camera, and we probably have 100-200 photos of him from the first month of his life.

One early photo, taken of me when I was 3 years old, encapsulates my feelings about having my picture taken. In the photo I am wearing a red plastic apron. I was making Christmas cookies with my parents. What should have been a fun family event was ruined for me, as my parents insisted on shooting rolls and rolls of valuable film in order to perpetuate the moment. At least that is how I recall it. The photo captures me in the seconds where the camera flashes for the umpteenth time and I cry the hysterical tears of a blinded toddler about to OD on cookie dough. As all normal parents would, mine chose this picture to be the Christmas card of the year and it was therefore widely distributed to family and friends, some of whom had the picture of my chubby dismay displayed on their pin boards for decades. Literally.

Some years later, when my parents had decided to stop making Christmas cookies with each other, fate would have it that my dad found a girlfriend who worked in advertising. And she desperately wanted me to model. I know, I know, apologies to those of you who know me now and have therefore just snorted coffee/coke/cola/milk out of your noses at the thought. But back in the ’80s I had braids, a freckly nose and big front teeth in that way that makes people want to buy ketchup. Or apples. My stepmum and my dad convinced me and my stepsister (whom the camera adores) to pose for a Miracoli photo competition. Tons of cutesy pictures, including the below and several Lady and the Tramp inspired shots, were taken. At this point, the camera and I still had not developed our full blown hate-hate relationship and I think it helped that my stepsister was in the shoot with me. All the cuteness won us an expensive camera. The Miracoli tasted horrible and our parents would never have dreamt of serving us something like that but I guess that was lesson one in advertising: You don’t have to like it to sell it.

I’m the one showing off my freckles and my big teeth. I bet you want to buy an apple now

When I was old enough to want Converse, blue mascara and Walkmen, I decided that the money my stepmum’s modelling jobs could offer was too good to turn down. So I did some catalogue work. Kudos to the poor photographer who actually got something out of the shy, miserable girl, squirming in front of the camera. I hated it. And I was much too self conscious to flirt with the camera or even just goof around in front of it. So I’m quite sure I was not the only one who was relieved when that money making scheme was dropped.

Ever since, it seems that nothing good ever comes from me having my picture taken. It is doomed. Perhaps my discomfort casts some sort of spell over then lens? Like the time when Anders and I were in Israel and bought some body mud masks. Why it seemed like a good idea at the time to take a silly self-timer photo of our only-covered-in-mud-bodies, I will never recall. What we hadn’t taken into consideration was the third degree questioning from the teenage soldier at the airport as we were leaving Israel. How were we to foresee that she would demand to see all the holiday snaps on our digital camera to make sure that we hadn’t spent two weeks in a Hamas bootcamp?

You didn’t actually think I would post the real photo here, did you?

In this day and age it is next to impossible to stay away from cameras completely. So rather than trying to pose for the camera, hoping for an exceptional, successful shot, I tend to pull an ugly face. So to those who kindly try to capture a moment spent with me, I apologise if this is what you end up with. I can’t help it. Neither can the camera. It never lies.

Say it with firemen

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A few days ago was the Birthday of a professional acquaintance of mine who is currently posted in the Middle East. I wanted to send him an e-card and started browsing the net. Due to the nature of our relationship, I was quite careful in my search. I didn’t want anything too cute or too crude (had this been for one of my friends, I would have most likely gone for crude, as the regular readers of this blog might have guessed).

In a hope to find a card without kittens (harder than it may sound) I chose a sub-category of the Birthday cards, called “for men”. How naïve of me. No kittens, but pussy galore, if you’ll pardon my French. If the cards were not beer themed, they were all about Strip-O-Grams, boobs or sex.

I don’t have to tell you that I didn’t send him one of those cards. Hmmm…on second thought, perhaps I do: I did not send a cleavage-card to my male colleague in the Middle East.

However, my findings made me curious to see what was in store for the daredevil who goes to browse the “for women” section. Yes, I’m a bit of a daredevil myself, so with a quivering index finger I boldly clicked the link. What did I find: Male Strip-O-Grams? Fit firemen in the buff, pointing the hose? Sex? Of course not! Women apparently much prefer “naughty” cards about eating forbidden cake or pretending to still be 29. And, of course, actual kittens.

Bless Australian Ian for just putting out a bushfire. I wonder if he also caused it.

So it would seem that the stereotypes live on: Men are interested in sex, women are not. What a miracle it is that this species has survived for as long as it has. And what a mystery, that a raunchy novel targeting women has sold gazillions of copies lately.

I’m not saying that I want a hot fireman e-card for my birthday. And I’m not saying that I don’t. But please don’t send me one of 29 year-old kittens eating cupcakes. I couldn’t bear it.

Currently no contact to blogger

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We hosted a cocktail party at our house last night. Are you thinking dry martini cocktails, little black dresses, small talk and Mad Men classiness? Wrong! We’re talking home mixed pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea, Strawberry Daiquiris, Mojitos and Cosmopolitans, lots of salty snacks and unattractive Gangnam Style dancing with some of my favourite people. Even some completely unnecessary Jägermeister around 2 AM. In other words: not classy at all. Just how I like it. Paying the price today though, so no blog this Sunday. See you next week.