One from the vaults: Limited Choice

Through my colourful couple of years in London, I have a good working knowledge of several counter-cultures. One such “community” (ugh, what a word), like nothing more than to get a partner to make day-to-day decisions and otherwise limit choice to a narrow range. They then write long (and often derivative) poetry about how “free” they feel in this lifestyle and it is always the same: “because I do not have any choice about little things, I feel a lot better about my life.”

Wow, right?

What strikes me about life in Denmark is that it is *just like that*. Even without “my own Viking” to subtly manipulate me into being one of his belongings by bringing me to a country where I rely on him to translate everything and do my speaking for me; my social life revolves around him, his family and his priorities and my home decor and belongings reflect his heritage alone.

(Quick aside: I use that as a rule of thumb… if a woman calls her Danish-husband “her Viking” then there is probably a power-play at work with an uneven dynamic in his favour. It’s their choice, I am not judging but that’s one of the signs I use. Maybe you will too!)

Even without a personal one-to-one relationship with a controlling/manipulative Dane, I feel the same dynamic in my day to day life.

For example, there is very little choice in the shops. If I want to be happy, I have to sharply lower my expectations and hopes. Once this is achieved, I feel “free” just like those women I used to read on the internet.

In the street, people are breathtakingly rude. Back home, people pay good money to be treated in such a way.

I *say* the street, I do in fact mean *everywhere*. At work, in the street, in bars and even in my own home if I invite Danes back.

For example, I entered a café and a woman ran from the back of the room to the bar to get there before me. For example, at work I had to sit around doing nothing for more than half an hour because a colleague acted selfishly. She had every opportunity to act selflessly, I and a colleague told her three times (and in Danish, for what it’s worth), so don’t give me the “language barrier”, “praps she was unaware of what she was doing” guff. She knew. She did it anyway. For example, I have had house-guests say rude things to me in an attempt to shame me into acting in a different (more Danish) way even though the way I am acting is acceptable (in that it does not hurt anyone).

In a way, this is also freeing. My daily acts are separated from the expectation that they will be greeted with pleasure or acknowledgement. I may even be “punished” for acting in goodwill. This makes me much more secure in my idea of what makes me a good person. Did I hold doors open in the UK because I was “good” or because I wanted the smile from the person I was helping? Now, here, it only occasionally makes people visibly happy so if I keep doing it, it is because I am “good” and nothing else.

There is a downside, I feel like this is an easy way out. If I lived in the UK, I might be unhappy because there were too many possibilities, too much choice and too much chance of me having to think for myself. Here, straitened by having little or no choice, I feel a sense of euphoria. I do not have to think for myself! I do not have to worry about what to have for dinner: it’s going to be pork and potato! I do not have to worry about “is daycare the right option for my child?” because OF COURSE IT IS! I do not have to think of others first, I can just think about me! (To think that I used to waste time thinking “what would I do if an elderly person, a person with physical disabilities AND a pregnant woman/person holding an infant all got on the bus at the same time? Who would I give my seat to????” !)

But it is cheap. A cheap and dirty hack of my mind’s circuitry. If the only thing that can give me “joy” is if I have Georg Jensen cutlery or that weird paper lampshade thing, then life is exceptionally easy as long as I save up my øre to afford them (by being tight with money).

In the past what would give me “joy” was complicated by having to think deeply about my priorities and my interests and then narrow the possibilities down by what I could afford and what I wanted to spend time on. Here, that is not only unnecessary but ill-advised.

For example, a hangover from my free-range life in London, I am growing food on my windowsill. It makes me happy, I see green things every day and my food is super fresh. They are growing really well and I might have to transplant them outside now the weather is improving. This excites me on a level I am not ready to blog about yet.

Apparently, I understand now this should not make me happy because it is “weird” to grow vegetables on your windowsill.

Thinking for myself may have made me *think* I was happy but I can see now, that I was wrong. I should have done what everyone else is doing and only then I would be truly happy. Why didn’t I understand that people are only happy if they grow flowers  (one plant pot), on their windowsill and maybe a plant pot next to the front door step?

If you will excuse me, I feel a long (and derivative) poem coming on about how free I feel now that Danes have manipulated me into self-doubt and dependency on Their Words.

Levelling Up

I may have found the perfect solution to the “rød grød med fløde” question (non-danophones… this is pronounced “chruuu gchruuu merl fluuluheh” and is apparently The Perfect Way to greet a new speaker of Danish. “NOW SAY IT FASTER AHAHAHHAHA”)

When Danes ask me to repeat something in Danish, with a view to making fun of the way I pronounce it, I speak after them really slowly as if *trying* to match their pronunciation but say “Chron… my…. eeee…. ruuuuu’en”. I also do it quietly because what I am saying is incredibly rude. I also look confused and surprised at their reaction as if it were an honest mishearing.