31 August 2011

doin' work

What they say about grad school making you crazy may be totally true.

At least I just get to read Gertrude Stein allllllllll day long.

And at least I have the most smitten-worthy kitten to read to.

Would he like it, if I told him, if I told him, would he like it, would he, would he like it, would he like it, if I told him?

Whiskerton's the best. His mama's pretty great, too.

29 August 2011

this book is great

Ara Shirinyan's Your Country Is Great is a poetic almanac covering the nations of the world from Afghanistan to Guyana. Shirinyan, an Armenian-born poet, publisher and musician now based in Los Angeles, used found text from Google searches to make a poem for each country listed in the CIA World Factbook from A to G. For countries that were in the Factbook but there was no information on them on the internet (!) - and there are a few - he left the pages blank, a nod to the fact that there are too few English-speakers who think of Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea as countries.

I loved the end of "Germany Is Great":
The atmosphere in Germany is great
and it's just like Africa here -
there is beautiful sunshine and it's
absolutely magnificent

But the poem that resonated most with me was, of course, "Denmark Is Great."

delicate but sweet cheese
made in Denmark is great
for melting or sliced

Upon reflection,
I have concluded that,
Denmark is great for a holiday
if you go with friends,
it's a beautiful country
with lots of interesting history,

Denmark is great for family holidays
because of the safe, relaxed and informal

Denmark is great, especially
down by the water where there are some great
there is that hippy community
in the middle of town

Denmark is great.
all the men are at least 12ft tall.

Denmark is great.
There is free health care for everyone
and students get paid to go to school.
their weather sucks!
You get one sunny day a week

Denmark is great country,
but the taxes/fees
are a bit to crazy,
whish also scares a lot of good foreign labour,
like professors,
doctors, soccer players

Shopping in Denmark is great;
some cheap stores. are H&M and Mango.
I found that toiletry and make-up were
more expensive

Denmark is great,
I have yet to master the skill
of ordering healthy food.
I think Denmark is great because everything's
wrapped up in a neat package -
it's got tons of culture,
relaxed, free lifestyle,
loads of history,

Denmark is GREAT!
Keep fighting the good fight!
"No immigration
without assimilation!"
And if they don't like it
they can just go home

Yep. This poem pretty much sums up how it felt for me to be an outsider in Denmark: It's great... if you go with friends. It also managed to capture how the capital city is viewed as the entire country (or vice versa), when really the huge mental gap between cosmopolitan and rural exists as much in Denmark as anywhere else.

Danish friends, I miss you.

23 August 2011

don't you know that talking about a revolution sounds like a whisper?

Last night uncertain how to prepare for my first day of grad school I listened to jj and The Weeknd and Radiolab and trimmed my fingernails and played with my housemate's cat and drank hot chocolate even though it wasn't cold and read a copy of sova that came to me from Iceland via Berlin without registering that it's a different language in which the word means sleep and stuck a picture of my dog from when I was eleven in a locket that two good friends sent me from Portland and didn't think about any of the big questions like what does this mean for my future?

Today I woke up ready for the alarm and had oatmeal and genmaicha for breakfast and dressed in a denim skirt and a navy blue striped shirt put on the locket and took the bus to school where I listened to people who for not long will be strangers speak accepting that this is the place and got gluten-free pizza for lunch and a whole lot of books and talked to among others a certain Cynthia and a certain Juliana and a woman whose god-given name is Sailor.

22 August 2011

a visit from Sweden

I never thought I would see the day that my Swedish host family, who I lived with for eleven months during my senior year of high school, left their farm to come visit me in California, but their 34th wedding anniversary found my host mamma and pappa, Gunilla and Håkan, strolling San Francisco with me. Between cable car rides, steaming bowls of seafood and the nonstop construction and shopping around Union Square, I had to kept telling them that I'm just as awed by the big city as they were, that it's nothing like where I grew up, that I can't wait for them to see how it is where my American family lives.

Gunilla and I at the airport

Gunilla + cioppino

Håkan + I

a walk in Oakland

they weren't going to get to hang out with me without eating Mexican food