26 January 2010

same as it ever was

cheeks nipped by a heartless wind -
in the artificial light on the snow-covered canal a man stands alone

sun fast dwindling it's summer
in the southern hemisphere; sao paulo
and rio don't look so far apart on paper

achingly early tomorrow morning i leave for four days in berlin, which i hope will be a stimulating respite from my now all-too-familiar territory. it's going to be awfully cold there. i am packing all my warmest clothes. i put all my trust into wool.

i've just realized that i've been dreading winter literally for months and that i don't actually hate the experience of winter nearly so much as i loathe the idea by being overcome by it. yet here we are over a month in and yes it's cold but this is it. this is all there is. days of snow and ice and misty breaths and thankfully sometimes sun poking through the grey. it's not so bad (but man, i can't wait for spring).

23 January 2010

this is not about copenhagen (but copenhagen is about all this & more)

if i could do just one near perfect thing / i would be happy

(belle and sebastian, if she wants me)

i've been listening to a lot of bands starting with "b" lately. namely the above and beach house.

yeah, well. life is a lot better with speakers, i have to admit.

we were sitting on the floor talking and laughing in our stocking feet when lena walked by and poked her head in through the open door.

"i thought you were painting your nails!" she exclaimed upon seeing our painting party.

there was spraypaint on wood but not on the (concrete) floor or walls. there were acrylics and even watercolors. hell, there was even enough sunlight for us to see what we were doing without artificial lighting!

there is this:

later in the kitchen ture asked if we'd been swimming.

"no," we said. "just trashing." it's true that most of the food's packaging smelled like chlorine. actually, probably only a quarter of it. but those oranges were indisputably delicious. and the beets, too.

my hands are freezing up as i'm typing because i have the window open. spraypaint fumes linger and my newly-painted fingernails don't help.

if there's anything i'm learning here, it's the value of community - a funny thing to learn in a city that's almost too big to ever run into anyone i know on the street.

20 January 2010

kid in a candy store

lund (sweden) has the best candy store i've ever been in, better even than the candy counter in cayucos. the reason lund's candy store (i can't even remember its name) is so amazing is because of the sheer ridiculousness of it. what kind of a candy shop needs neon lights lining the individual bulk candy boxes or an entire wall-length refrigerator full of coca-cola?

why does a candy store need to sell tobacco? why are the chips all stuffed into a nook (admittedly a giant nook)? and how, just how, am i supposed to bypass an entire wall stocked with haribo gummy candy without giving into the temptation of chewy german fruit-flavored goodness? oh, as it turns out, the "nature candies" (that is, banana chips, chocolate covered raisins, dried strawberries, etc.) serve as a good distraction, and that real fruit is more delightful than fruit-flavored anything.

last time i walked out of there it was with probably a few hundred grams of chocolate-covered goodness, dried fruit (papaya, yum!), and only a couple of sour strips. good god.

and here is catherine with her loot.

sun in the north is to be taken advantage of. we went for a good walk.

then lotten came down from gothenburg. we went to a party in some student apartments that remind me of what i am used to student housing being, namely a little bit jenky but oh-so-cozy.

i guess i've been in lund kind of a lot lately. visiting friends there, making friends there. trading stories, crashing on the couch, borrowing guitars, walking around in the dark and finally settling back down in dear old copenhagen where we don't feel the aftershocks of any earthquakes but i meet more people, including several from the wonderful and ever-enchanting santa cruz, and spend great lengths of dark days eating pototoes, beets, and scones, and talking about the things we know and don't. plans are made and before you know it another cup of tea is made and by then the sun is practically up.

back in copenhagen and riding my bike in the dark around 4 p.m. minus 1 (30 degrees fahrenheit) is really not so bad, especially when it's not windy.

i've been all over the city these last few days. i keep gravitating back to christiania for the fresh veggies and peace of mind. it's one of the few places in the city where i can be and experience the kind of quiet that you only get when you can't hear cars. assistens kirkegård is another one of those places, a huge cemetery where such danish heroes as hans christian andersen and søren kierkegaard are buried. i went there on monday and saw kierkegaard's grave and, on it, footsteps in the snow where someone had stepped to brush off his tombstone. fenced in and nestled among scattered trees of various ages and varieties, it was poetic, both somber and lively: on a monday afternoon the graveyard was full of people walking their dogs, children, and bikes, as well as runners, students like us, and quiet onlookers.

søren kierkegaard's grave - confronted not only with existence, but also history.


walking on the ice on the lakes with three other santa cruz kids in the capital city of a small social-democratic european kingdom. go figure.

also, this city is so gorgeous.

lisi's birthday! celebrations ensued. wine was drunk and delicious cake devoured. and yes, that's a sparkler.

serious talk/trying so hard not to laugh.

letting the days go by, letting the water hold me down. letting the days go by, water flowing underground... "once in a lifetime" by the talking heads has been one of my favorite songs for years. it is still dead-on perfect. talk about clarity - there is water at the bottom of the ocean!

12 January 2010

small talk

i find that in scandinavia, although people hardly ever make small talk with strangers (i think this is the universally accepted opinion on at least one scandinavian behavioral pattern. it goes hand-in-hand with the generalization of the people being cold, reserved, and maybe even dark), people who do know each other - for example, people who live together, classmates, colleagues, etc. - do small talk a lot amongst themselves, on a daily basis, even. the conversation is just as aimless as what you might have with a complete stranger, but instead of being with someone you'll never see again - like a stranger on a bus headed to that small resort town on the coast - it's with people you see every day over your bowl of müsli. i think that regularity makes small talk oh so much more obnoxious because it suggests, i care about you because you're in my kitchen every day, but i don't care enough to find out what you're actually about.

don't get me wrong, i love talking to people. i love getting to know them and eventually getting inside their heads (and knowing that they're getting inside my own). but seriously, if i'm going to bother scambling for the right piece of vocabulary and then figuring out how to conjugate it and then actually spit that verb out of my mouth (i haven't really been speaking danish for the past month, so my pronunciation is, for now, shaky to say the least), i really want to talk about something with a little more substance than how i spent my morning. which in all likelihood was probably spent sleeping and then waking up from a dream that took place in a multi-faceted combination of places i have and have not been.

i swear i'm not bitter. i've probably just spent too much time in scandinavia to not think about stuff like this, and too little to not see it from the perspective of an outsider.

10 January 2010

h.c. andersen must have written so much about swans for a reason

today i walked down to the harbor to see off the last of the day's sunlight. catherine had just left to go back to sweden and i was out without my cell phone, wallet, or, for once, my camera. of course, today of all days, the swans showed up on the frozen harbor, accompanied by ducks testing the slippery ice with their flat feet like a bunch of uncertain drunks. the swans were mostly gliding around in the near-freezing saltwater while the ducks poked at the ice, looking for things to eat. i can't believe the harbor freezes. frozen saltwater simultaneously weirds me out and amazes me. i had to fight a very, very strong urge to climb down the wall, skip over the rocks, and touch the ice.

these pictures are from a walk with my friend lisi last week.

the south harbor before freezing

big eyes reflecting the sky

christiania's warehouse is awesome and makes me want to make things.

nyhavn in the process of freezing


hardly a tourist to be seen at nyhavn - it's too cold and none of the cafes have outdoor seating anymore

pancakes at tietgen (a taste of home)

cozy evening in town

it was great having catherine here for a weekend. it's great to reconnect with old friends. duh. but nonetheless, i am so happy about the start this year is off to. we've had so many days of blue sky and sunshine and although it's a lot colder when it's clear, it makes the days a hundred times more pleasant, as it breaks up the monotony that pervades the weeks of grey skies turning black and then grey again. so lots of exploring has been going on under these giant blue nordic skies. i don't start school for another three weeks but somehow time is passing so, so quickly.

04 January 2010

godt nyt år

i'm remembering a time when it was too warm for jeans and sweaters, when the sun reached into every corner and afternoons - fresh off the boat - were passed with beers in parks. it all seems so impossible now: long walks through the city before i knew where i was going, stumbling around the corner and upon a new bar, jumping into the harbor pool, eating strawberries. the memory of it all feels like an anomaly in my concept of scandinavia. it's hard to believe that the sun is on its way back. i keep telling myself, the days are getting longer, trying to replace nostalgia with hope.

so far it's a happy new year. one with lots of walks, although through the snow rather than almost-tangible sunlight. actually, we've had a fair amount of sun, but as the sun never makes it more than a third of the way up the sky, the light deceives and makes it feel like early morning even at one in the afternoon. living here is forcing me to admit how much i am controlled by the seasons.

i rang in the new year - a once-in-a-blue-moon year - with friends new and old here at my dorm. we had dinner, exploded party poppers, lit a cake on fire with sparklers, danced, shouted, and generally enjoyed ourselves.

blue moon rising at three in the afternoon

lovely dinner with fantastic party poppers and good company

some of the party poppers exploded with clown noses. catherine and wade are good models.


getting close to midnight

cody and i are stoked

i've come to the conclusion that danes are pyros. here lars and kenny light the sparklers on a kransekage, which is eaten at midnight on new year's.

at midnight we went to the balcony of my building to watch the fireworks from the entire city. it was quite the panorama. lots of explosions of red and lit-up clouds and a big round moon. fireworks have been going off here nonstop since i got back from sweden just after christmas. even today people are still shooting them off. i might add that it's a monday and four days after new year's eve. but i guess this is the only time of year during which fireworks - big ones - are legal, so you have to make the most of it.

i am so relieved that i am staying here for a year. i can't wait to see what spring is like. there is light at the end of this snow-filled wind tunnel!