This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Corona-walks in Copenhagen

cph-april-3Partial lockdown started March 11th. All schools, kindergartens, and universities moved to virtual classes. Most shops and services closed, including all body-working services such as hair salons, masseuses, and fitness centers. My work continued as before, with the difference that I could no longer travel to Belgium to our regional headquarters, or do all the cross-European country local board meetings I had planned. cph-april-4Instead I squeezed in daily walks or runs, just to get outside. When lockdown was imposed, the sun came out. It shone from a cloudless sky most of two months. Weekend walks turned into long ambles, thirstily seeking fringes of green across the sprawling city center. Copenhagen parks are not natural oases to get lost in. But they are reviving, and after a dark cold winter, really any trees and green grass are reviving.cph-april-6(Copenhagen, Denmark; April 2020)

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There are no travels on my calendar, for the first time in 20 years. My only planned travel is to the grocery store, the market, and the healthy living shop, twice weekly. Is it bliss? Perhaps. Yet, traveling has not always been bliss, either. Here is my list of recent mishaps:

2019 No mishaps. Would have been total bliss in Spain, but my grandfather passed away while I was there.

2018 Earthquakes on Bali. It just kept shaking, for weeks. We were lucky to not be on Lombok or the Gilis.

2017 Seriously infected blister on foot in Namibia. The doctor was concerned about bone infection and gave me a heavy dose of near-last-line antibiotics. I could not walk well for a week which meant boat duty every day (observing dolphins, not so bad!).

2016 Post-op recovery on Bali. I had a torn meniscus and my knee ligaments were generally mangled by too much running.

2015 Dog bite on Bali. Spent half of my time there chasing rabies vaccines across the island, as stocks were low. Even if I had been immunized for rabies previously. “WHO protocol”, I was told.

2013 Appendicitis in Berlin (and a centipede bite in Kenya). I had surgery on day 2 and spent my week-long holiday at the Charité, on the 20th floor, either in the psych ward (why?!) or the post-op, filled with dying cancer patients. It was… interesting.

There was also a work trip to Stockholm once, where I crashed in a Segway on a karting track and had a mild concussion. The next day I found out I had two broken ribs, thanks to the pain that shot through me when I laughed.

All these calamities were minor. I was hospitalized only once. There were no repercussions, and I am still alive and healthy. Also, there were good times every time. For example when I was permitted to leave the hospital in Berlin and cleared to fly home the same night, at the end of the holiday (see here for the full post):

“Outside of Charite university hospital, I heaved myself grimacing into a taxi after my sister.
She: “schloss Bellevue, bitte.”
Taxi driver with big eyes: “jetzt?!”
Me in bad German/Dutch/English: um… Ich will laufen (‘lopen’ means ‘walk’ in Dutch but ‘run’ in German)
Taxi driver: “JETZT?!”
My sister: “no she means walk, spatzieren”
Me feebly: “ich habe Urlaub in hospital… Ich muss zurück nach Finland heute abend”
Taxi driver decides it better to stop asking and just drive the crazy tourists.”

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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Earlier this week the Danish government shut bars, clubs, sports centers, and shopping centers. Restaurants and cafés are open – for takeaway only. But two weeks ago I still had a Michelin-recommended sandwich lunch at Aamanns. Sild on rugbrød, i.e. pickled herring on wholemeal rye bread.

And the sun was shining, and the water birds were loudly sorting out spring rivalries on the lakes. It could be worse still. It will probably get worse still.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)

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Hello Finland

Loviisa-6Despite the business travel ban of my employer, I still managed to squeeze in one trip home to Finland in early March – before Denmark closed its borders. The timing was perfect, and so was the weather. Spring was in full swing, while normally early March means snow cover and alternating melt and blizzard days.

Fingers crossed I can go back for Easter and still return to Denmark afterwards. Finding small green leaves in the trees with Easter would be quite something. Loviisa-3(Loviisa, Finland; March 2020)

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Ramen? Yes please

RamenBriefly in Helsinki and a ramen lunch at the original Momo Toko near the University main building is a must. This is where I fed my belly and soul between running Saturday errands in town. Alternatively it was a Vietnamese pho joint – but quite often here in this hot, busy little ramen joint usually crowded with Asians.

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2020)

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Where to generally lie-in

Southbank-1In London there once was a General Lying-In Hospital. Sounds like heaven for busy workers. Or those with coronavirus. Yet, Google tells me that “lying-in” actually once meant childbirth. Was the actual mental image of childbirth so sensitive that it had to be referred to indirectly?

Turns out that the actual “lying-in” was the period of two weeks to two months after childbirth that a new mother had to stay in the hospital. For the first few weeks she was not even allowed to get up. Sunday lie-ins turned to days and months. Childbirth was dangerous business.

(London, United Kingdom; February 2020)

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What Florence dreamed of

Nightingale-1Today I discovered that Florence Nightingale loved Nature as a child. She would collect plants and identify every kind of living creature, aided by the books she received from her parents. But in Victorian times, women could not become naturalists unless they were depraved of all close kind, like Mary Kingsley. Or unless they became painters, chasing the jungles in search of exotic flowers, like Marianne North. Becoming a medical doctor (a “surgeon”) was an even more preposterous notion.

So Florence Nightingale became a nurse. Although she probably treated patients like a doctor and commandeered everybody like an army captain.

Being a nurse is difficult, essential, and respect-commanding. But as I wandered through the Florence Nightingale Museum in London I could not help but wonder, what did little Florence once dream of becoming, before gender roles were imposed on her imagination?
Nightingale-2(London, United Kingdom; February 2020)

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Finding the South Bank

CPH-3The riverside, Borough markets, and all the sights – how come I have never in my years of commute discovered the South Bank of London? Save for targeted visits to the Shakespeare Globe, the London Eye and the Oxo Tower restaurant, I now know I have missed out on much exploration! There is the Belfast ship, Sea Life, the food scene, boutiques, and much more to discover – but when?

Fortunately there was time to get started: a food tour of the Borough Markets was a splendid dig into all that unhealthy deliciousness that twist my belly up into a knot the next day: fish and chips, cheese platters, hipster cocktails, sticky toffee pudding, and the most magnificent Argentinian empanadas. Yum. If only I were carrying digestive enzymes on this trip.

(London, United Kingdom; February 2020)


In Copenhagen, confused and concerned

CPH-1Lovely ones, my new slow life has begun. In Copenhagen. For now. After two weeks in a lovely apartment in Østerbro I found myself in a furnished, bright little place in Nørrebro, with a view over the ring of lakes that divide the North half of town.

Instead of weekly travels to London and criss-cross the Nordics I now find myself on a monthly travel schedule to Belgium, plus a tour of a handful other European countries this spring (provided I can avoid coronavirus hotspots). Instead of crazy 8-9 hour workdays I find myself deeply entrenched in one project for 6-7 hours a day. Instead of dragging myself out for a run or onto the yoga mat at 5 pm I find myself running around the lakes mid-afternoon, before going back to work with more energy.

It all sounds wonderful, right? In truth this is a tough training in how to live with uncertainty: where will I live after May 1st? Where will I work next year? What if I can’t find a job if I really like? What if nobody will like me well enough to hire me? Is there a future for the relationship I’m in, now that I had to move out? What if I just can’t muster the energy to work all this out?

And the biggest question of all: I will turn 40 this year. How will I set myself up for success for the next 10 years, including healthy aging? CPH-2(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)