30 November 2009

the holidays have begun

i have to do this in a list because too much has happened in the past week and a half to sort it out any other way.

1. there was a week of concerts. i saw monsters of folk, the dodos, and port o'brien all in copenhagen within the span of a week. i saw monsters of folk because it was something fun to do on a friday night and because i mostly just really like m. ward. the dodos were a lot of fun even though i've hardly listened to them, and as always it was fantastic to see port o'brien (for the umpteengazillionth - or just tenth - time) since they have made it out of our hometown and into the big bad world of rock stardom. it was bizarre seeing people i know from home in copenhagen - in a totally awesome way, of course. lots of dancing and yelling ensued.

the dodos - i really want to play this instrument

fantastic fun port o'brien. it was almost exactly a year since last seen them, at the crepe place in santa cruz. somehow all this did not make me homesick. i was precisely in the right place at the right time.

of course there was some stage-dancing during "i woke up today"!

2. thursday was thanksgiving. it was also the night port o'brien played copenhagen. in order to celebrate this properly, two of my best friends and i - one american transplant living in sweden, and one dane who's spent a fair amount of time in the U.S. - decided that we needed to make a gigantic, delicious, and vegan dinner. which we did. patch and i spent all day thursday cooking, then indigo came over with her contributions. eventually more people showed up and we ate. we were nine in the end. i thought there wouldn't be enough food, but i still have leftovers. the salads, homemade bread, raw pumpkin pie, and zucchini muffins are gone, but i still have a fridge full of mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, veggie stuffing made with rye bread, and a root bake with some apples for good measure. everybody brought wine and got along splendidly despite the fact that we all speak a variety of nordic languages: we were two and a half americans, five and a half danes (one guy is half-american, half-danish), and an icelander who lives in sweden. in fact, i think saying "got along" is an understatement. it was a fantastic time. after polishing off a few bottles of wine, most of us rolled out our bikes to see port o'brien. ah yes. the feeling i got from all of this was that my home is altogether portable. this year i was especially thankful for friendship (and especially for friends who cook with/for me).

the supplies in my awesome (industrial) kitchen. 2 giant zucchinis? check. liter of olive oil? check. bottle of wine? check.

patch with his zooks all the way from his little swedish farm.

the finished product. i had never cooked so much before! let alone all vegan... and 100% delicious.


i just love this picture, not least because these guys are both named rune (and they are both super nice).

my plate

3. on friday afternoon, my friend elisha came from berlin. we spent the weekend doing great touristy things and basically being girls together. we posed for pictures with the little mermaid (which really is not such a great idea, especially in the winter, because the statue is a little ways out in the water and the water is cooold if you slip in, but it really actually is a good idea anyway), saw the whole city by foot, watched the top of the city christmas tree explode in fireworks, treated ourselves to girly drinks in oh-so-hip nørrebro, got brunch, and visited malmö (in sweden) for a day. it was great to hang out with a friend from santa cruz and speak some "california english" (e.g., "it's totally sick that the little mermaid is hella hot.")


not gonna lie: this unicorn is probably what made me decide to live in copenhagen.

cafe cozy.

good trip!

4. i'm done with half of my classes for the semester: i had my last kierkegaard lecture today, and all that remains is to write a 15-page paper. i have one more danish lesson, and then an exam in two weeks. the exam is going to be nuts: six hours to translate two pages from english to danish. i wish i had a dictionary of idioms. do those exist? anyway, i've started dreaming in danish sometimes and i think way too much about word order, even in english now. i think this crazy language is starting to click.

19 November 2009

protestation, demonstration

this, and lots more, is what's going on at my home university right now:

students are getting out of the classrooms to march, block entrances to campus, and occupy buildings, to protest, among other things, the 32% - read: major - fee hikes that are being imposed on us in order to pay for the university of california, "one of the world's top research universities", to be run like a corporation, selling bonds and raising administrators' salaries as our classes, faculty, and student housing are cut dramatically. as of last year, the number of art, music, and humanities classes were cut dramatically, professors who were untenured despite having taught at UCSC for over twenty years were "let go", and the number of freshman students admitted was even severely reduced.

as a student at UCSC - probably one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, i mean, look: the ocean is right there - it's sometimes hard to remember that although we live in a beautiful bubble, not everything is perfect. our campus is known for "activism" that takes the form of people moving into trees to protest construction that unfortunately has already been approved years previously. but in this case, my colleagues are working with students of the entire wider UC - indeed, the entire fucking state - to effect change. oh, change is a word we've been tossing around a lot lately. you could say the entire US presidential election of 2008 hinged on that word.

so it feels pretty strange to be here in calm, quiet denmark while all this is going on at home. admittedly, it's a good time not to be in california. i wouldn't have any better luck finding a job there than i'm having here, as unemployment in my home state has soared to over 12%. walking by copenhagen's parliament building today, i heard some recorded reggae music booming across the square from a van with a sign hanging from it: "yes to democracy, no to police state." that's all very well and fine, but i am not convinced that hanging a flag from your van, playing bad reggae, and drinking free samples of redbull that the cute girls up the street are handing out to each and every passer-by is really going to make the politicians listen, let alone bring an end to this sick form of "democracy". not that my fellow students are managing to get a whole lot done at my school, but things can only improve from here, right? last i read, the UC regents approved the 32% tuition hikes. and that's just the tip of the iceberg.


17 November 2009

first things first

today the sky cleared up - for parts of the day, at least - and i saw the sun for the first time in weeks. it filled me with a rush of energy and i realized exactly what i've been missing.

blue sky!

then my mom left. it was fantastic having her visit after not seeing her for nearly five months. it didn't hurt that she brought me practically a whole suitcase full of things i've been longing for from california: refried beans, tapatio, chocolate chips, acrylic paints, my ukulele, and some clothes! it was like christmas. only better.

while she was here, we did lots of good stuff. like exploring copehagen, climbing the round tower, taking a canal tour (of course), sampling danish beers, and seeing a ballet at the royal theater. we also spent the weekend at my host family's house in sweden, which was lovely as only going home can be.

touristas. nyhavn.

it rained pretty much nonstop all last week. of course, it got nice when we left for sweden. but until then, we just did a lot of exploring in a drizzle.

then we got dressed up and went to the ballet.

girls' night.

we saw a danish ballet called napoli. it's an old story, but it was set in the 60s and was very dynamic. last i checked, i wasn't really into going to the theater, but this was really cool. the whole show was really fast-paced and the costumes and music - not to mention dancing, god - were amazing.

this is a rugbolle, a roll of typical danish dark, sour bread. like pumpernickel, i guess. it's dense and delicious.

we tried to climb that tower, but it was closed for the season, so we went to christiania instead. not a lot going on there on a thursday morning.

smørrebrød, yum. more rugbrød and lots of butter.

although we couldn't climb the tallest spire in the city, we did climb the round tower. i could have hung out there all day.

then we went to gothenburg. i love that city so much. and, conversely, this type of stuff is exactly what i love about copenhagen.

in gothenburg we met up with my "other" family, my swedish host family, and went to liseberg (an amusement park) together.

at home at their house, we had lots of treats and chill time. it was great. i always love coming home to their house.

it was really great to play tourist in my own town for a week. i've gotten so used to living here that i don't really take in the sights anymore, focusing instead on just getting where i'm going without even thinking. so showing my mom my københavnsk life was eye-opening for me, as well, and on our walks around town, many parts of the city fell into place in my mental map. and i finally rode copenhagen's "wheel of excellence" last night after having wondered for a while what the hell it's doing right by vesterport station.

08 November 2009

deep autumn

a strange thing has happened: something has shifted in my body, and i am beginning to be used to the cold. seven degrees centigrade is nothing to worry about; yesterday topped out at nine: it was so warm that i didn't have to wear boots and spent the entire afternoon walking around in tennis shoes and thin cotton socks for the first time in some weeks. on top of that, it was sunny. the kind of sunny day where the mundane is sharp and illuminated and even the sight of an exhausted child toppling over behind his mother on the sidewalk is enough to turn up the corners of your lips in a grim - because you, too, know what it is to fall.

i've been walking a lot for the past few days because my bike has a flat. not only does it have a flat, but the back tire is ripped. there is a huge gash in it, although that's probably from me trying to ride my bike on a flat tire before realizing it was flat. it's just one more thing to take care of, like buying black beans watering my plants trying a samosa from the shop down the street going to that other shop for that toy xylophone translating that page and picking my mother up at the airport!

(my mom is coming tonight. i am sooo excited.)

but i have been really enjoying the walking. when i walk i see the city in a slower way, with a vision that i never manage to take in while biking because no matter how hard i look, i always have to keep one eye in the bike lane. copenhagen's a good city for walking. it's a civilized place: the sidewalks are broad and in good shape, and besides, it's beautiful.

so i've been walking and taking a lot of pictures.

love leaf

islands brygge with its smoke and fog

bikes, bears, and busty ladies go well together

bare branches

this is at my school. i'm not sure what it means, but it makes me giggle.

let's take a second to remember that in denmark, everything must be adorable at all times. which would explain why they have hearts on their money.

i went to see a danish hip-hop band called praksis with indigo the other night. her brother actually plays drums in the band, but anyway. they were really good, really energetic. i really liked the place where they played - obviously it was super cozy. i'm also a big fan of rapping in danish even though i can hardly understand any of it.

everyone in my kitchen is always baking, so i've decided that i should try, too. last night i made an apple cobbler, which was delicious and so easy. today i decided to try bread, which was not as easy. having never baked bread before, i was unaware that hot liquid could kill the yeast and regarded instructions saying "lukewarm" milk as unimportant until i realized my bread still hadn't risen even after being left to its own devices for over an hour. i rolled some of it into a loaf, the rest of it into rolls topped with dried apricot chunks and sunflower seeds, and stuck it all in the oven anyway. it's damn heavy but pretty good. next time i am forfeiting heated milk for lukewarm tapwater.

04 November 2009


i finally got out of copenhagen for twenty-four hours. in the countryside, i felt so much calmer and more natural. since virtually all of my time spent in denmark is spent in copenhagen, i tend to use the two place names interchangably. yet, although both the capital city and the broader country are populated by swans, not all of denmark lies within copenhagen's boundaries.

i took a red train up to hillerød, a suburb of copenhagen, yesterday morning, where my good friend indigo picked me up. the temperature was hovering near zero (i'm talking centigrade, of course) and i was happy to warm my feet up in her heated car. from there we drove to her cottage just outside of gilleleje, a summer vacation town, on a road lined with trees ready to shed their crimson and gold leaves in the heavy wind. the car ride, the countryside, and the particular company were a treat, as none of them are things i get to experience very often.

gilleleje is at the tippy-top of the island that copenhagen is on, on the coast.

we spent the time at indigo's cottage cozying ourselves with dozens of lit tealights, cups of tea, conversation, and raw food. i learned how to make almond milk and picked a huge bag of apples from a tree with three different species hanging heavy from its branches. i feel like i can't emphasize the word "winter" enough. the apple tree, bereft of leaves, was just waiting to let its last fruit fall. direct from the tree, the apples were icy; their juice cold as if straight out of the refrigerator. i never feel like i have to wash food when it comes directly from the earth.

such a cozy place.

it turns out that making almond milk is really easy. you just need a blender and something to strain with. it's also really delicious.

summer house in winter mode.

i love fruit trees. this one has three kinds of apples. i climbed it. it was probably the most natural action i've performed in months.

i came back to a city being sprinkled with snow. as the afternoon sun waned, the flurries grew more forceful. long dark now, the snow has ceased, and it hasn't stuck to the ground. but it's enough to know that it did fall, that i was able to stick my arm out my fourth-floor window and bring it back inside covered in icy flecks.

today was a three-cups-of-tea day.

01 November 2009


at a flea market today, i came across some china plates with the names of the months, but they only had april, september, november, and one more. was there a reason that they only had plates for months with only thirty days? it's strange to think that another thirty-one days elapsed just like that. halloween is not really celebrated in denmark; the people who do celebrate halloween here are mostly perceived as leeching off of the USA and affecting a cultural aspect that they personally have no claim to. it's true - how many of the children who trick-or-treat here in denmark do it just because it's something that they've seen on t.v.? trick-or-treating is not a common thing here, but my friend did have someone knock on her door yesterday evening - inconveniently, while she was in the shower. needless to say, there are no big bags of halloween candy in the supermarket here or waiting by people's front doors. i have seen some jack o'lanterns here, but mostly in front of cafés and other businesses.

see? there's a pumpkin in the window. and a bike, of course.

mmm, hygge. hot chocolate with my friend laura and her cousin yesterday after shopping. basically every café lights candles. even in the kitchen in my dorm, we light candles. one of the many things that make so much sense in denmark but that you could never get away with in amer'ca.

election season in copenhagen. all (or at least most of) the different parties represented on a ... light post?

i took this picture at 5 p.m. (have i already mentioned that the sun sets around 4:30 now?) there is this indigenous group of musicians that are always performing in rådhuspladsen (city hall square) or on strøget, and this evening they were accompanied by torches and dancing, clapping kids. i don't know what it was all about, but it was pretty cool.

at the huge flea market i went to today looking for furniture. although it was indoors, there was no insulation whatsover, and after a couple hours in there, i thought my hands were going to fall off because i didn't think to bring my gloves to an indoor flea market. ugh. i did get a sweet rug for my room though, and an awesome vintage jacket.

all of those flags got me thinking about how bizarre it is that i live in denmark. it's this tiny little place probably about the size of my county in california. (am i exaggerating?) i guess it wouldn't be so weird to live in denmark if i hadn't already spent a year living in sweden. it's just bizarre to me that two cultures can be so close geographically, linguistically, and culturally - and even, at one point, been ruled by the same crown - and still find so many ways to distance themselves from one another. this ridiculousness, to me, is exacerbated by the øresund bridge that connects denmark and sweden. i mean, people go over to malmö just to go shopping for the day.

anyways, i am pretty glad that october is over. i wonder when it's going to start snowing. the temperatures are dropping hard and quickly. the number of barren trees are increasing. i know i talk about the weather a lot, but i think it's one of the most pervasive aspects of life here, as opposed to coastal california, where our seasons are basically "warmer" and "less warm". the seasons never stop shifting here - no matter how slowly they might change - and it makes time here pass quickly. like, god. i've already been here for a third of a year.