31 December 2009

in summary

today is the last day of the year, the last day of the last ten-year segment of our lives, a full moon, and a blue moon. i have a cabinet full of party poppers and it's only fitting that outside my wall of a window i can see the canal frozen over in minus two degree weather and the sun's futile attempts at lighting up the city. even at 11 o'clock it looks like we've barely shivered past sunrise: the light holds the same power over the land that it did in the summer, except it's much more subtle now. i'm ecstatic to see the gentle sheen of it against a fifth-floor window. it feels like the planet is shutting down. things are dying! the canal is frozen, i tell you! but as a friend told me, no, things are just resting. getting ready for spring. as am i.

the last two weeks have been busy busy busy. my friend cody came for a visit; he's still here and i'm happy for his company.

we saw the nutcracker at the royal theater. it was awesome.

snow came to copenhagen and we played in it.

basically, my "i just biked three miles in the snow and it feels like my fingers have fallen off my hands inside my gloves, and i don't even know if my nose is still on my face" face

cody found a cargo bike on kongens nytorv. when in copenhagen...

we celebrated the winter solstice, then we got on a train headed for the swedish west coast.

once there, we spent four days celebrating christmas with my swedish family, which involved a fantastic amount of cakes, cookies, christmas candies, and quality time. and of course kalle anka (donald duck) on christmas.

my host dad and niece

santa and his lady came to give out the presents

it was so good to spend christmas with my swedish family again; the last time i did that i thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. but coming full circle was even better. the traditions felt clearer and i remembered a lot of things that i hadn't even realized i'd forgotten, like how to make ischoklad, and how you sign your presents with "wishes" instead of "from".

the road from my host family's house to town, a comforting sight made nicer by the snow

while up in sweden we even managed to meet up with a bunch of my old school friends, most of whom i hadn't seen in two and a half years. that was good, really good, even though the music sucked and the beer was expensive. it was extremely satisfying and exciting to reconnect with people that i virtually haven't had any contact with in the past couple of years, and just to catch up.

on our way back to copenhagen, we stopped in lund to visit catherine, one of my best friends, who i hadn't seen - again - in over two years. she picked cody and i up at the train station and we picked up right where we had left off. i got to meet her boyfriend and lovely family, who had us over for dinner. that was the closest i've come to feeling homesick in months, maybe just from feeling the "homeyness" that comes from being in someone's home that isn't my own.

it's good to be back in copenhagen. all the snow that fell just before we left has melted but it's still just as cold (and just as painful to bike). the next celebration is new year's eve. tonight. i don't really care what i do or what party i go to - the only thing that matters to me is being with my friends, which i know i will be. so it's going to be a great one.

peace, love, and sunlight for the new year!

16 December 2009

julefrokost and more

imagine an industrial kitchen full of twenty-somethings in three-foot-long santa hats armed with snaps, beer, and giant party poppers. oh wait. i'd better explain snaps first. snaps, also known as aquavit, also known as schapps, is a traditional scandinavian alcohol usually flavored with fennel and other interesting things like that and drunk in massive quantities, particularly in the dark part of the year.

in the kitchen there is a giant table decked with a red velvet cloth and probably a kilo of pink heart-shaped glitter. the table is set nicely, and we sit down alternating boy-girl-boy-girl for as long as there are enough boys. when we run out of boys, a bunch of girls take over a corner.

we eat a lot of fish, herring and salmon. all this is eaten with rough, dark, sour danish bread. after the fish comes meat. meat, meat, and more meat: duck cooked with plums, meatballs, sausages, roast pork, and liver paté topped with mushrooms and bacon!

there is no water on the table so you wash it down with snaps, which you chase with beer. everyone is laughing and some people are singing. you feel really full so you get up and start dancing before the dessert comes out. then you eat a bowl full of rice pudding flavored with almonds and cherry sauce, and go back to playing limbo. you haven't played limbo since you were seven at the roller-skating rink and laugh when you fall on your back and then find another christmas beer.

sometime during the present game a giant party popper explodes. you don't notice the explosion until you realize you are covered in iridescent confetti.

this is danish christmas lunch.

now that all the fun is over, i'm back to writing for my last exam. my danish class is over at last and i just have a conclusion to write and then i'm done with kierkegaard. it's snowing. it's been snowing off and on for a day and half and finally the snow is beginning to stick to the ground. there is a layer of it growing thicker and thicker and some of my neighbors are outside throwing snowballs around. i hope it sticks overnight, i really do. one of my best friends from california is here and we are having immense amounts of hygge. the snow helps!

although it has been freezing - and below freezing - we went to a free outdoor concert last night, to see gogol bordello, a gypsy punk band. they're probably the only band that i'd stand outside in below-freezing weather and, yes, snow, for an hour and a half to see play. they have so much energy that you really can't help dancing to them. what with COP15 and the entire world having its eye on copenhagen right now, there is lots of cool stuff going on in my dear little city. like a protest of a hundred thousand people on saturday that felt more like a parade than a demonstration. it was a good time, with music, dance, floats, confetti, and a real sense of community.

07 December 2009

no time like the present

i'm dizzy from my ride home in the rain, biking through the wet dark, hardly feeling the barrage of raindrops thanks to my hot pink helmet. i signal a right turn with my gloved hand, following the woman ahead of me. make eye contact with a stranger outside of tivoli in passing. we share smiles, secrets.

i know i've been in copenhagen for too long because i don't mind the rain anymore - if i even notice it - except for the fact that the drops on my glasses dangerously obstruct my vision. it's been raining more often than not since july. i wish it would snow already.

the hardest thing about moving to a new city is that the people you meet - because doubtlessly you will meet people, sooner or later - don't need you like you need them. they need haircuts, vodka, nightclubs, brunch just like you do, but they don't need your company.

thousands of words lose their meaning any given second. i am hung up on describing the connection between the eternal and universal according to the greatest thinker denmark has ever had (and probably will ever have). my preoccupation with danish grammar - correctly positioning adverb in front of helping verb in front of main verb - has wormed its way into english. kan. ikke. tænke. helping verb, adverb, main verb?

classes are over. exams are coming. so is obama. again. i hope they don't close langebro and isolate us from the mainland.

05 December 2009

life is rad

yesterday allie and i baked chocolate chip cookies again and then brought them to a party with us.

the cookies proved to be a brilliant idea at 3 a.m. when there was no more beer to be had and we needed fuel for dancing.

but before that, i had an interview! for a job! which involves me proofreading in danish...?! i'm not really sure how that will go. but i do have some sweet new shoes that make everything better.

since i have all this work to get done, i've been getting creative and doing lots of projects in between working on loads of english-danish translation and thinking about writing my kierkegaard paper. today i made these:

i had forgotten how much i love to collage! i freaking love collaging! and all these cookies! what have i been doing since high school?!

03 December 2009

as if the weather gods know it is december now

it has been icy-cold and even somewhat clear these last few days. today it was overcast but on tuesday it was gloriously sunny, all lego-yellow buses glowing against the electric blue sky with the smell of æbleskiver chasing diesel through the crisp air. the temperature hovers just above freezing, waiting to fall as the countdown to christmas grows shorter and shorter.

one way to count down: a cookie advent calendar my friend laura and i made for our kitchen. i love our kitchen.

christmas is really pervades everything here. it could take you over if you didn't watch out. in fact, i kind of think the greater danish population turns into christmas robots around the end of november. and there are christmas trees everywhere - on the streets, in the city squares, in my university, outside of the metro stations, at my bank, even in café doorways. and i'm not talking about any of that fake christmas tree bullshit. these are real trees with prickly needles that you can smell if you step close enough. i can only think about how many christmas tree farms denmark must have.

one of the jultræer that are taking over copenhagen... on the deck of a boat that is a hotel.

there's also an advent calendar on t.v. four, in fact: two for children, and two for adults. it's not like they don't have advent calendars full of chocolates that you can buy in grocery stores (yum!), but they also have special t.v. programs in the twenty-four days counting down to christmas. obviously, they begin on december first and run until christmas eve. basically the entire country watches them. i saw two last night: one kids' one and one for adults. the kids' one was full of morals, social lessons, and elves, whereas the adult one was more a finely-honed display of danish black humor in which all the characters (for last night's episode, an old man, his son, a prostitute, and an immigrant) are played by one actor. last night's episode involved the announcement that the old man's hot dog wagon had been destroyed (by whom? who knows!) and the arrival of the immigrant who offered to fix it for free. then we found out that the old man's son had gotten the prostitute pregnant! i can't wait to see what happens tonight!

elisha brought me a gummy alphabet from berlin. before i devoured the majority of the bag, i played with the letters for a while, despite a serious lack of vowels.

winter in christianshavn.

my island from across a sort of lake thing that used to protect copenhagen from its attackers.

there are a lot of swans in copenhagen.

i saw a little danish band called the rumour said fire play at ideal bar at vega last night with my friend nina. it was a nice show. the idea was that it was a "quiet concert" where everyone sat and listened to the music. it worked really well except that all of their songs except one sounded the same and the audience got bored. but still, it was really nice music. perfect background or middle-of-a-mix-tape music. on saturday i am going to see the raveonettes at big vega! i am so excited. i've seen them before (at bimbo's in san francisco around this time last year) but they've just put out a new album and it will be awesome to see them in their homeland. i hope. whatever. they're awesome regardless. this is, after all, what i came to the city for.