Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Elizabeth just left to go home after sitting with me for the whole evening, watching me pack and scrub down every surface of my Danish room. This is the cleanest I have ever left a place, so I'm pretty proud of myself. My replacement moves in tomorrow and I want to leave him a clean room with spotless windows, plus a large blue IKEA bag, a budget guide to Italy and a book on the history of movies.

I'll see Elizabeth in little over two weeks' time, at which point we will reunite in glorious New York City and once again color isolate the world around us.

When I leave Copenhagen, the thing I will miss above all else are chicken sandwiches from Eat Me. Perfectly toasted Italian bread, a light smear of savory pesto, a substantial portion of sliced juicy chicken breast, tomato and green lettuce in harmony. I will miss eating it while walking, while sitting on a bench blocking pedestrian traffic, while typing at a computer. I will miss how ingredients drop out the bottom where a laptop keyboard usually swallows them. I will miss every excuse to find someone special to take with me up the three blocks from classes. I will miss the sweaty man who knows before I start the ky- in kylling what it is I want.

I'll probably also miss standing on a the train while it comes to a stop and the little wobble that results. I'll miss Tivoli and the shopping and the bad jazz band that played in the beer garden when we grilled burgers and zucchini. I'll miss the upright bass player who held a lit cigarette in his playing hand and didn't flinch when the ashes fell off into the strings. I'll miss the golden retriever at Valby who smelled like a sack of potatoes. I'll miss missing my train and watching the flickering minute cards. I'll miss the loudly rotating billboard signs and the ballet class where we talked about precision, speed and energetic bodies. I'll miss watching Heino show us his favorite ballet ever, called "Sophisticated Lady".

I'm not spending this hour ceremonializing anything. Instead I am going to fall asleep twirling my hair, like I do, between my fingers, not in chunks, but in bunches of asparagus or cooked whole wheat spaghetti. I'll miss my white apartment in Østerbro, too.

When I plan trips here, I usually start surfing the 'net like a pro at CTU. TYPING TYPING TYPING means that I'm getting something done. Man, Denmark would be an entirely different place if Frank had not lent me all those seasons of 24. From it, I have learned just how much I appreciate competence, which enables trust that when you give an order, it gets done. I also learned that if something bad jolts me toward duty, everything will be solved exactly 24 hours from that moment.

In 24 hours I will be in Virginia eating stuff my dad grilled. I won't have to summon any enthusiasm because it will already be there. It will be the same energy that propels me to learn to write something longer than a poem this summer. I'll miss my friends here a lot.

Last weekend we all spent another long night at Andy's talking to strangers. An old man played air guitar and yelled syllables. I spoke with a ragamuffin poet who talked about being high and sitting under a tree, staring at the leaves and the branches, until another girl asked him what he was looking at and he told her he was watching a Native American, can't you see it, and she said no, so he asked again and then she said yes. He talked about the power of words and our powerlessness with using them. He asked me what my favorite movie was and I made one up. Another old man with glasses grabbed me around my ribs when I got up to leave and, shaking me, told me "You are a spectacular woman."

I will miss Matilde chocolate milk and all the memory-making it lubricated. Matilde comes in boxes with a little girl in pigtails on the front. Matilde also has no expiration date, leading me to conjecture an inevitable trip to outer space in which Matilde will be the beverage of choice, seeing as it never spoils and probably contains ingredients indigenous to the great void. We'll discover planets that thrive on the life-giving properties of Matilde. And let's face it. When I'm in outer space, I will probably have a special edition blog for that trip, too.

I will be interning at the Glimpse Foundation in Providence this summer, living in a house with 11 other terrific boys and girls, located on the corner of a streetcar named Hope and tennessee Williams. Kim and Daphne made a list of things to look forward to, which rivals my list of things to miss from this foggy, wonderful semester. On the list are:
  • cheddar cheese
  • bagels
  • lasagna
  • meeting street cookie
  • flip flops
  • bralessness
  • unpoisonous tap water
That's a pretty thorough list. Of course, it's probably more representative of the deprivation they experienced in Russia, because I certainly had most if not all of those things while in Copenhagen. Probably more bralessness than the natives knew what to do with. Anyway, when I get home, I will have more to report.

But before I depart this dear study abroad blog, two pieces of news. Danny has just informed me that he has gone grocery shopping to STOCK UP for COMPANY (emphasis his). He said he purchased abundant meat. He must know me almost as well as my dad because I love meat. In fact, earlier today, Elizabeth and I found a restaurant in which to enjoy our "final Danish brunch". By the time the waiter got around to us and asked me what I wanted to order, I just ripped up the menu and shouted "MEATSSSSSSSSSSSS".

The second piece of news is that, unlike myself, who never got around to crossing out every item on my "To do before leaving" list, Elizabeth completed one of her central tasks: steal one of the hanging advertisements on the S-train. Coming home from my apartment, she saw her target. She tells me it is green and says Kan København blive mere WONDERFUL?

I submit that it cannot.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I love my dad!

If you read this in time, send me an e-mail telling me the food you
want to have me buy for while you are home. I am going to Wegmans
tomorrow about 10:30 and I thought I could at least get your
breakfast foods and have a few other things you would eat. I know you
want some yogurt and was it Grape Nuts? I will also try and BBQ at
least once and we will eat out Tuesday evening, either Esposito's or
a good steak house or somesuch.

I guess he remembers the time long ago (in January) when I cried because no one would go to the store to buy me my Grapenuts and Activia. Somesuch! :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Video metaphor for my life #2 of 2

Becca Lasky's camera caught the man in Venice who restored my faith in the crushing power of love at first sight

I literally followed him around Piazza San Marco while on a simultaneous quest for a Venezia Cat-in-the-Hat hat. Isn't he precious?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Somebody else's umbrella, indeed

Wtf , weather in Copenhagen? Seriously. The last few days have been intermittently rainy and sunny. I walked into 7-11 for a bottle of water yesterday while it was dark and pouring and I emerged to blue skies and puffy white clouds. Walking home from the train station it was hailing all up on me, but the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in sight. It was pretty biblical. My roommate translated the weather report for me. Apparently Danish meteorologists are saying, "Look, we don't know anymore than you do about what the heck is going on. Ask again tomorrow." I don't have the luxury of asking tomorrow! I have only a few more tomorrows on your soil and I don't want to spend it taking my puffy vest on and off every few minutes. My LDD (Last Days in Denmark) campaign is significantly hindered by the fickle sky. I guess I'll just have to spend the next week-point-five drinking chocolate milk and scratching my confused head.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

M.(k).(m).s.(?!). Pearl of Scandinavia

I'm eating lunch on the pull-out breakfast table attached to the kitchen windowsill. My roommate spent all weekend potting plants and they're arranged in a row in front of me, sitting in terracota pots or empty soup cans. I have both windows open so that I'm overlooking our tree-lined courtyard where my neighbors are sitting at tables and standing at Weber grills. I'm eating chevre on cracked pepper crackers and pineapple yogurt. One woman from #9 who I thought was sunbathing is actually changing her baby's diaper. I'm chatting with Gill and she is telling me the story of how she got hit in the face with a ball of fire.

I went to Oslo for this long weekend. Plans for Bergen fell through, so Elizabeth and I hopped a DFDS Seaways overnight ferry to Norway. I'm telling Gill this and she's saying that she's never heard of an overnight ferry. I'm saying that maybe she knows it better by its other name: booze cruise. She's asking if I participated. I'm saying that Elizabeth and I went to the ship's karaoke nightclub, stayed long enough to listen to two Swedes utterly butcher "I Will Survive" and vomitted our over-salted buffet dinner from laughing by the elevators where we could still hear them. Then I'm saying that we bought two bottles of cheap Asti champagne at the duty-free shop, drank them in our economy cabin bunk beds, sang songs and fell asleep.

In Oslo we bought sandwiches and tried to hijack city bikes. We saw the Scream at the National Gallery and then got on the train up to Holmenkollen where the old Olympic ski jump stadium was located. We got to the edge of the big cement crater just in time to see a group of Norwegian men cheering on one of their friends who was dressed in a moose costume, chugging beers and performing physical challenges. He was halfway up the long staircase, lunging with his hands clasped behind his back. One of the men told us that if we stuck around we could see him "empty his insides." Elizabeth asked why he was in a moose costume. Another of the men said, "His name is Deer, so he's dressed like a deer."

The view from the top of the jump tower, while cloudy, was exhilirating. The event loses its depth when televised. Now that I know the physics, I'll be watching with new appreciation. We were so high up that we could see mountains and mountain-side homes. We could see the water as it hits the coastline. We could see Oslo's ruggedness, which contrasts Copenhagen's manicure and pedicure. We looked to see if Deer was emptying his insides. I could have sworn he was a moose.

We rode the train back down the mountain and walked to a park. The monolith on top of the hill in Frognerparken is made up of men, one on top of the other, all the way to the tip of the sculpture. It looks like work holding that pose. The Vigeland sculpture garden featured statues of stout men, women and children in the act of touch. Situated along the railings on either side of a bridge, they're tumbling in play, caressing, reprimanding one another or fighting. My Oslo city brochure is in both Norwegian and English. The articles appear side by side. In the section about spectacular views, it translates romantiske vårvibber as amorous spring sensations.

The breakfast table is starting to creak under the weight of my plates and teacups. I'm worried that it's going to break, which will be funny considering that I've already managed to break my roommate's Egyptian perfume bottle (my head hit the fragrance shelf in the bathroom) and one of her glass candle holders (a jar of blackberry jam fell off the top shelf in my cupboard, rolling onto the windowsill and knocking over the stick, breaking it into three jagged pieces). I hope it holds up. An old woman across the courtyard from me just stepped onto her little balcony that's big enough for two people. So far it's just her and a huge rainbow-striped umbrella that she's been wrestling with passionately. I want to be here when it opens.



Sound system.

*** Thanks a million to Elizabeth for sharing her pictures with me while I wait for my replacement camera.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The bus took us from Frue Plads to Helsingør where we took a Scandlines ferry to Helsingborg. At the duty-free shop aboard the ship I bought a bag of assorted mini chocolate bars and a box of licorice Skipper pipes. Once in Sweden, we drove an extra hour out to Jonstorp. The bikes were waiting for us in front of the hostel at Gamla Södåkravägen. Most of the trip we biked past pleasant farms and burning piles of dung. The sky was blue, the grass was dull but dense, and as far as the eye could see there were yellow fields of mustard. From Mölle we hiked out to the NIMIS and ARX driftwood sculptures. The whole thing was built single-handedly by Lars Vilks on the north side of the Kullaberg Nature Reserve. Apparently he worked for nearly two years before anyone stumbled upon the products of his hammer. The area was subsequently shrouded in controversy. The Swedish government ended up fining Vilks, but in 1986 Christo bought the site and never removed the sculptures. As it stands now, it is one huge piece over 100 meters in length, with several towers of 15 meters made out of 25 tons of wood. We climbed all over it. Though it’s very secure, there are moments at the top of a tower when you realize just what it is that is keeping you from crashing onto the boulders below: a mere web of wood and nails. As sprawling as it is, it feels organic and sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re looking at something two hands made. I couldn’t help thinking that if a giant-ass kitten were to stumble on Nimis, it would think it a paradise.

When we hiked back up the cliff past the sneering totem poles that greeted us on the way in, we ran into some members of our group who had gotten lost and managed to get electrocuted somewhere. We gave them directions to the piece and then picked our bikes back up at our lunch picnic area. I hopped on and raced downhill. When I wasn’t brave enough to lift my hands off of the handlebars, I settled for loosening my fingers’ grip. My butt hurt to touch the seat again. At the next intersection, the group decided to try biking out to the Kullen lighthouse on the peninsula, a huge landmark along the Swedish coast and the most powerful lighthouse of its kind in Scandinavia. Since most of the trip was uphill, we eventually collapsed on a look-out shoulder of the road and gazed on the town below us. The sky grew dark and dramatic and we took pictures.

We got lost a couple times on the dusty country roads leading back to the Vandrarhem. When we got there, we took hot showers and put on fresh clothes and sat on the grass outside to wait for the leaders to grill our food. Then we ate, drank tea in the lounge and played hearts on impossible double-sided cards. I got into bed early, listening to music on shuffle through my headphones. A song from way back that meant a lot of things came on. Every boy I ever embraced either knew or didn’t know that it was playing for me when we embraced.

The next day a familiar breakfast spread was waiting for us. We hydrated and hopped on the bus to a stop on the Rönneå river where we picked up our canoes and headed out for a full day of paddling. The river started out looking like a simple irrigation ditch. We took over, racing, relaxing, shouting at our friends in other boats. Then the river became more river-like until we floated through a town and found ourselves paddling through people’s backyards. It was a Sunday, so people were outside walking with dogs or sweethearts, throwing Frisbees, grilling or watching to satisfy their minds.

Monday, April 30, 2007

MS: he's not going to say no
EM: how can we find him?
EM: hes so elusive
MS: DIS isn't that big
MS: I can pretend I have to do something in his part of the building
MS: and you stand around or something
EM: hahah
MS: & then if you run into him, you strike something up
EM: yeah
EM: or i could throw my shoe at him

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Love

Don Paterson

It's not the lover that we love, but love
itself, love as in nothing, as in O;
love is the lover's coin, a coin of no country,
hence: the ring; hence: the moon --
no wonder that empty circle so often figures
in our intimate dark, our skin-trade,
that commerce so furious we often think
love's something we share; but we're always wrong.

When our lover mercifully departs
and lets us get back to the business of love again,
either we'll slip it inside us like the host
or we'll beat its gibbous drum that the whole world
might know who has it. Which was always more my style:

O the moon's a bodhran, a skin gong
torn from the hide of Capricorn,
and many's the time I'd lift it from its high peg,
grip it to my side, tight as a gun,
and whip the life out of it, just for the joy
of that huge heart under my ribs again.
A thousand blows I showered like meteors
down on that sweet-spot over Mare Imbrium
where I could make it sing its name, over and over.
While I have the moon, I cried, no ship will sink,
or woman bleed, or man lose his mind
but truth told, I was terrible:
the idiot at the session spoiling it,
as they say, for everyone.
O kings petitioned me to pack it in.
The last time, I peeled off my shirt
and found a coffee bruise that ran from hip to wrist.
Two years passed before a soul could touch me.

Even in its lowest coin, it kills us to keep love,
kills us to give it away. All of which
brings us to Camille Flammarion,
signing the flyleaf of his Terres du Ciel
for a girl down from the sanatorium,
and his remark -- the one he couldn't help but make --
on the gorgeous candid pallor of her shoulders;
then two years later, unwrapping the same book
reinscribed in her clear hand, with my love,
and bound in her own lunar vellum.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Look, there's God coming out of the men's room

There’s a cluster of soccer fields across from my train station at Ryparken. This morning Elizabeth and I went there to see our friend Frank play ultimate Frisbee with a local team. She and I wore identical black spandex, grey sweatshirts and puffy vests, unplanned. We sat at one end of the field to watch and debated my timidity. Should we have moved to the middle of the field and sat by the sidelines? I didn’t want to risk raising the attention of the team and thought our support would be better felt if we stayed out of the way. Besides, moving to midfield meant being on level ground with the players – at any moment they could rush past us, a renegade Frisbee could whiz by us, and I would be defenseless – whereas at the end of the field we could sit on a slight hill with half-bloomed daisies on it. From that vantage point, I didn’t have to be the embarrassing mom and could be part of the cute pair of girls who stumbled upon the tournament. Halfway through the first game I found someone else who had also stumbled upon the tournament. The snail was a tan swirl among the grass and I watched him for a few minutes as his feelers extended and retracted, examining each blade before proceeding along a path of slime. I wondered how far he’d get if he were left unimpeded. I lost patience and cracked the nearby stalk of a thick weed to tempt him to climb aboard. When he didn’t, I stopped and forgot about him. By the end of the game he had moved a good six inches, which is either very far or not very far, depending on who’s doing the measuring.

Once again, Jack Bauer has managed to jeopardize the efficiency of this blog. I would have posted something about the last five weeks earlier if I hadn’t spent the last two days watching 18 straight episodes from season two of 24. Here’s something I have learned and would like to impart to my readers as a precautionary note: A computer chip is a completely fallible device for storing information. Think about it. A computer chip is small and you need a computer to access the information written on it. If you ever needed to transport that chip from a location without a computer to a location with a computer, while a bunch of ruthless, expertly-trained government rogues working outside not only protocol but the bounds of human morality is on your trail, the tiny thing is too weak and powerless to make the journey. Unless that chip has wings or can grow a pair, what we need is to find a way to memorize extensive sets of data, because a brain, being inside a skull, is safer than a chip in a cheap plastic case. Of course, that’s only true if you’re Jack Bauer, whose skull could withstand any blow that would knock me right dead.

Which reminds me of my recent trip of a lifetime because of (insert tenuous connection). I started by traveling with a group tour arranged by my European Culture & History program at DIS. Surrounded by friends, I traveled first to Berlin and then to Prague for week one. We were kept relatively sheltered by the tour itinerary, but were treated like royalty with special access to amazing sites and three-course lunches. We ate at the top of the Reichstag in a glass restaurant and I made my perpetual mistake of filling up on the complimentary bread. The bathroom speakers played sounds from the rainforest. The owl was not very subtle.

My group left me in Prague where I stayed with Kathleen for six more days. Spring weather emerged for those days and when I wasn’t watching Sex & the City in pajamas with my gracious host, I did a lot of walking around on my own. My favorite day was spent across the river at the Kampa museum where I walked around slowly and wrote down the titles of every piece in the museum for no real reason at all. As I was moving up the stairs to the roof I passed by a man on his way down. Our eyes met accidentally. I kept ascending the staircase but he stood where he was, looking up. The steps curved and as I doubled back above him, catching him again through the gaps in the steps below me, I wondered if he was looking up my skirt. I pressed my knees together and put my pen and pad in my purse to free my hands.

On the side of a big hill overlooking Prague I fell asleep one day. I had plans in my mind to order a fabled pastry for myself, a cream-filled swan. A swarm of Brown kids had descended on Prague for an early spring break and we had spent the day looking at the Lesser Quarter through the narrow apertures of our cameras. I was tired, so I traded the swan for a few moments of listening to organ music and falling asleep in that holy precinct.

Another day I sat in the indoor balcony of the Globe bookstore and café, drinking peppermint tea and eating honey from a spoon, delaying writing postcards. On the back of one of them there was a piece of famous correspondence announcing an important artist and an important work: "I bought it at an auction for only 500 francs, but this painter is your compatriot and some day he will be very famous." I liked the way the 500 looked next to francs. There was an extra space between the two, a typing error. I also liked the word compatriot. That night I went to see a film with Jeff that was part of the Prague film festival. It was Italian, called “Cover Boy…Last Revolution”, about some mess of friendship, male bonding, exile, alienation and perfect faces.

Kathleen took me to a bookstore where I bought a copy of The Waves with a blank cover. It’s called the “Books by the greats, covers by you” series and I think it’s stupid. Penguin says that we can design our own covers and submit them to their website. I’ll think of something to put on the front of the book after I read it. Something equal parts beautiful and futile.

In Paris I stayed with Becca in Steven’s apartment overlooking the Luxembourg garden. From experience we learned that our tolerance for museum air caps off at one and a half hours, at which point we begin gasping for air and running for coat check. This same limit does not exist for stuffy bookstores like Shakespeare & Co. where I bought two Don Paterson books of poetry, an Italian phrasebook and Say it in…Danish. On the day when Becca and I ate sandwiches on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower, I saw a couple napping side by side with their arms draped over their faces to block the sun. They were perfectly still except for the arrhythmic twitching of their loose articles of clothing in the wind. When you sleep outdoors, there are parts of you that are awake, like a napping coral reef.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower there is an enclosed observation room. Along the circumference of the room are the names of world cities with big numbers for the distance between you and that city. They’re spaced out so that when you stand in front of the name you are facing that city and that number comes to mean something, even if it’s in kilometers.

On my last day, Steven and I met Colin in the garden. Colin brought along a special pastry that looked like a sun. The top was a sort of crème caramel and the middle was filled with pears in syrup. After we grew tired of looking at the blue pigeons, we walked back to Colin’s apartment, stopping at a market to buy strawberries, which we dipped in sugar. When we couldn’t find milk at any of the stands, a woman told us in French that the cows had gone on strike. With jazz playing through the speakers in Colin’s sunny room, I cut his hair and rinsed off the scissors in the bathroom where he spilled potpourri earlier that morning.

When I was in Notre Dame I stopped for a few minutes to hear the liturgy of a weekend mass. I couldn’t understand anything, so I joined a stream of tourists headed to the back of the cathedral. They were all whispering about things to one another. You think no one can hear you, but in a room that big, you contribute to a murmur.

After a night of bubble bathing in the Teddington Suite of a hotel outside London-Heathrow, compliments of British Airways, I met Becca and Elizabeth, late, in the train station in Milan. We hopped on the next train to Florence. I was too sugarated to sleep so I watched the black power lines dance up and down out of the window. We stayed in a cozy hostel run by a pleasant old man. The streets of Florence were narrow and, given the sheer number of leather goods stands, begged the name “Aggressive Leather.” We climbed the campanile and had a picnic in the Boboli gardens. We drank 79-cent champagne with Alexandra and her friends who have an apartment across the city. I learned a new joke involving my whole hand and audience participation.

Venice was creepy. My impression of the city was informed both by Chasing Liberty and Death in Venice, whose setting was that of an infected city during an epidemic and the spiritual yearnings of an obsessed protagonist. I came expecting gondola rides and free stays at quaint inns. Mandy Moore didn’t have to pay 100 euros to ride a black gondola down the canal and there was no Tadzio to be found. Instead, we bought waterbus passes and commuted with the masses. Our bed and breakfast was conveniently located in the middle of nowhere, at a fake stop near the end of the #5 bus called Tessera. We were told to alert the bus driver to let us off across from a Fiat dealership. At no point during our stay did I see anyone drive out of that dealership a) with a new car, and b) alive. It was approaching nightfall when we got off. We turned down the corresponding road to our instructions and walked along the rock path beside it, staring at barbed wire fences for most of the way.

When we got to Villa del Sole, everything was pitch black except for the bright red and yellow of the hand-painted sign. We fiddled for a bit with the gate when all of a sudden floodlights came on and a figure appeared backlit in the distance, holding a barking dog. He approached and asked if we had reservations. When I told him my name, he simply said, “We were expecting you at 1.” I apologized and he let us in, saying that he had to turn away another group that had come by that day looking for a room. I wondered who would have the cunning to figure out where this place was. He showed us our rooms and helped us register, which turned into a 40-minute ordeal of miscommunication and awkward joking. He wrote down Elizabeth’s birthday and turned to her, smiling, “Cancer?” She said, “Excuse me?” “Cancer.” He read her birthday aloud. “Oh! Yes. I’m a Cancer. You too?” He said yes. “Do you have a soft, sensitive core and a hard outer shell?” she asked. He blinked. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” His name was Francesco.

He gave us our keys and we went on our way, taking the same bus to the actual city of Venice. We searched for someplace to eat and settled for some pasta place with a completely illogical theme: Lord Brummel and the Dandy. I don’t think any of the waiters in the place had any clue of the connection between their establishment and the original Dandy, other than what the placemats say, but that wasn’t the only time we ate in some mixture of an “authentic Italian restaurant” and were assaulted with misplaced efforts at attracting tourists. On our last night in Venice we were roped in for a meal in a reasonable-looking restaurant, but the first bad sign was that the menu was available in any of five languages. The English one was a jumbled list of standard Italian fare, with some entries repeated and mysteriously highlighted in codeless colors. There was no map key to decipher the menu’s stipulations, signaled, we thought, by the many ^^^’s and ##’s that dotted the whole thing. After a while, we realized why the menu was so familiar. Given it’s tremendous length, it was instantly comparable to any American diner that has every kind of food on call for its customers. Our waiter in Venice kept responding to our questions with a more exasperated version of “Just order whatever you want and I will bring it!” Then spaghetti started to fall from the ceiling.

We spent a day island hopping around Murano and Lido. There was a lot of beautiful hand-blown glass and I got to see the setting for Death in Venice. We also went to Peggy Guggenheim’s small museum at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni where every piece mattered. I fell in love with her taste, from her starburst sunglasses to her shih tzus. There was a lovely sculpture garden outside the main exhibit building. Next to an ivy-draped wall was a long marble bench with a bad poem carved into it. I started reading it from end to beginning, but when I got to the left end, a woman was sitting on the first stanza. I stood in front of her and she looked at me before her face exploded in a grotesque yawn. At all times in Italy we were surrounded by throngs of people herding through the narrow streets like alien cattle. In contrast, within the walls of the museum several Giacomettis were on display, tall, deceptively lithe and boneless. In contrast, the David on display in the Academmia was the most beautiful man I have ever seen, marble or no. On the flight home I sat next to a man with a two-colored mustache.

That was everything and nothing. Becca joined me back in Copenhagen for a truly Danish weekend. We spent Saturday in Tivoli, paying money for machines to throw us around. That Sunday we went to a football game, rooting for FCK against Odense. We sat near the top of the stadium in a narrow row of seats. I’ve been feeling pretty bold lately. There were three attractive men sitting in the row in front and below us. I joked about how to get their attention, speculating what would happen if I dropped my flip-flop over the empty seat in front of me so that they would have to pick it up and return it me or I would have to climb down and retrieve it, either way striking up a conversation. I dangled my left foot over the seat, inching the green sandal off my foot by scrunching my toes. Eventually it fell off. Right at that moment, something dramatic happened on the field so that their heads turned in the opposite direction. The mission was completely unsuccessful, so I climbed over, picked the shoe up myself, and returned to my seat totally unnoticed. As a gesture it was doomed from the start, but as a departure it took a lot to do and by my measure, I went pretty far.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two more things that have nothing to do with one another *


These attempts at setting herself free were futile. She sank back into the dreams of her girlhood, but with the difference that now they were no longer illumined by hope. Moreover, she had learned that they were only dreams -- distant, illusive dreams, which no longing in the world could ever draw down to her earth. When she abandoned herself to them now, it was with a sense of weariness, while an accusing inner voice told her that she was like the drunkard who knows that his passion is destroying him, that every debauch means strength taken from his weakness and added to the power of his desire. But the voice sounded in vain, for a life soberly lived, without the fair vice of dreams, was no life at all -- life had exactly the value that dreams gave it and no more.

BowmAn244: I skipped class
BowmAn244: she was going to sleep so we stayed on the line as she drifted off
BowmAn244: and i looked at the clock and was like 'this > class'

*An essential theorem of crushulus: What is impossible sometimes is possible at other times.

A day in Helsingør to see Kronberg (Hamlet's) Castle, after remarking that the only thing in the world I needed was to swing on a swing

You can see Sweden!


Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Modern Breakthrough

We were under a small tunnel to the school that Søren Kierkegaard attended when a woman told us that Kierkegaard left Copenhagen for a bit because he thought it an irredeemably mediocre city. He wasn’t alone; even the famous Scandinavian playwrights it claims to have adopted into its publishing capital agreed on the point of its banality. I became defensive. Having chosen to spend a significant portion of my college career here I wanted to hear its greatest artists and thinkers singing its praises. I never expected them to be among the city's most ardent detractors, among those itching to get out.

Despite myself, some thoughts started to come into place: the greatest achievements of Danishness we learn about in our classes are dated by at least 100 years; other cities claim top honors in fashion, food, art, literature; Copenhagen is dirty despite its luster; graffiti is common, but never striking or poignant; there are no stunning vistas, no natural wonders and a climb to the fifth floor of any building will grant you a view of the entire city, where in the absence of skyscrapers you learn to appreciate copper roofs and the handful or so spires that punctuate the otherwise quaint or industrial view.

And then it hit me: Copenhagen is small. The tunnel we were in was about 20 feet long. The walls were painted white, broken only by a simple glass door. On the other side of the tunnel was a small stone driveway-turned-courtyard surrounded by the offices for the country's most prestigious publishing company. The building took three floors before it stopped, content. The lamps that lit the area were round and dim yellow. In the book shop the clerks had stopped their work to stare at our group. I looked up into the windows of the office and people dressed in black were walking around. Some typed at computers. There are thousands of little nooks like this in the city. Even when I've entered a church here to be stunned, it's only in comparison to the rest of the places I go. The controversial new opera house is despised for its aspiring to something more than itself. It sits proudly across the canal from Amelienborg castle, a big globe with shimmering chandeliers, but you can't help but feel somehow estranged from the rest of the city: it's simply too big, therefore disowned. A big hollowed out church, then, is the closest we come to grandeur, but Sundays come and go and the pews remain mostly empty.

Are the Danes at home in their cribs and nests? Are they too busy lighting candles and renovating their samtalekøkker (conversation kitchens) for their weekly dinner gatherings to go out and build something big? Are they so secure in their serially monogamous relationships, their carefully planned networks of friends, that they don't want to meet me who is also small, who has also stopped going to church, who also lights candles and plans dinners, who also has never built anything big, who also does not want to meet them, but hates that I don't want to meet them and so wonders why no one is meeting anyone?

There is a new ad campaign everywhere on Copenhagen transportation. It's a bright green sign with big bubble letters saying KOM HJEM!. My friend Iva tells me that the campaign is intended to persuade people from Jutland, the peninsular part of Denmark, to leave Copenhagen and come home to their native region. In effect, they're imploring these prodigal people to fill up jobs, soothing them into coming back away from the anxiety of the city to the place 'where they belong.' It's a maternal nudge and a disturbing one. In my head, these people from Jutland walk around distinct from the native urbanites because they're lost.

If they're anything like me, they're mesmerized. This city that manages to be by turns continental and northern has something about it in the spring, I don't care how that sounds. My body doesn’t know how to react to the sudden sunlight and warmth. It stares wide-eyed in confusion at blue skies, mouth gaping at blooming purple weeds, ears in awe of birds chirping outside my window. I can’t even think to take pictures, I just want to deflate and lie on the dry sidewalk.

Copenhagen reacts naturally while the sun assembles outdoor tables under Tuborg umbrellas. Boots go on sale and sandals emerge, god-expensive. A man plants an upholstered upright piano across from the Post Office Museum on Købmagergade and begins playing a vague tune. The top half of an androgynous mannequin wearing a t-shirt and a hat, some Danes, me and my friends, are his audience.

In the botanical gardens yesterday with Elizabeth and her friend Christy I drank Easter-themed beer in cans with yellow chicks painted on them saying “kylle kylle”. We walked through the greenhouses and my camera fogged over. Today it is sunny again. Today, when the ducks paddle around the lake asking for bread, you give it to them.

My flatmate, Elizabeth, baked again this morning: more chocolate muffins and rosemary bread. When the items have cooled, she puts them in a transparent blue plastic bag, pushes the air out, and ties the ends together, to simulate their natural environment.

At the Royal Theatre to see a double bill of 'The Private Lesson' and 'La Sylphide' I am struck by two things. First, I am struck by the iconic pose of the Sylphide. Second, that I do not hate the miming. She is a fantastical creature. She is unattainable. Those who try for contact are doomed. And so her avatar is diminutive, her arms elegantly crossed over her chest, the forearms parallel, the hands floating on opposite ends like wings. Her torso is turned away from you, but her neck bends gracefully back, her face full of longing, her eyes sad. She is wearing a long bell skirt and she is always well lit. All the characters on stage who mime the plot look beautiful. There is lots of pointing at their hearts and nodding their heads yes or no.

So much has happened here between commutes, crises and whispers. I've taken to calling my parents everyday. I've gone on psychadelic voyages with Frank every Monday and Thursday in our literature class. I eat Thai Cock Kok take-out at Elizabeth's apartment while watching drunk Diddy scream "WINNEBAGO" on Making the Video, Britney Spears wearing a hat that says "CARPE ASSÜM", and Nick & Jay's I Love Ya video a billion times. I've learned an essential lesson from my time obsessing over 24: If you stop at an intersection and a suspicious-looking vehicle does something suspicious, the person you are looking for is probably in that vehicle. Once I fell asleep reading a packet for my media class and when I woke up it was torn apart with the pages sliding like tectonic plates under my body. I've laughed so hard at the internet. I've found hands to put my handshake in. I've made travel plans. I saw Aberfeldy and danced so hard. I turned 21. I thought about writing a year in review, but then seeing as my entire life is a year in review, I didn't risk redundancy. I took more blurry pictures.

I went to Christiania a few weeks ago. We walked through most of it, looking at the makeshift architecture. The walk was pretty standard as far as walks in Copenhagen go: it was quiet and thoughtful. Turning corners I'd hold my breath, preparing for it to be taken away, wondering what I'd see. It would always be just nice, a sigh-worthy view. One doesn't gasp here; one breathes. One is charmed, not seduced.

I've had my breath taken away once in my two months abroad. I was on a short study tour in Odense on the island of Fyn, the birthplace of H.C. Andersen. It was our first night of the trip and a bunch of us went to a bar after a filling buffet. I expanded my tummy by about three sizes when I managed to finish the final delicious plate of the meal: pancakes with ice cream. I was too busy digesting to think about drinking, so I sat at our table and looked out. One of the boys with us struck up a conversation with a man at the bar who turned out to be a scholar in racism. Two went to play pool. There were three of us left and we chatted. A strange man kept poking his head out from behind a wall for a separate area of the bar. After doing this a few times, he started to emerge in full body, bending his knees to the music like he had a dump in his diaper. He'd grin at us and then go back to his cove, emerging every few minutes or so to repeat the gesture. The last couple of times he brought his lighter with him, which he had switched to the torch setting. He'd light it and smile at the tall flame, looking at us, still smiling. We were a little creeped, but also a little giggly. My friend was feeling adventurous so she went over and talked to him. The only message she brought back with her was a question: "Why do Americans think I'm the enemy?"

That's not what took my breath away. A few hours later we were wandering through the dark, abandoned town, tired and chatty, headed for our hostel. My friends thought it would be funny to give each other flat tires. Then it became funny to trip one another. I walked along, exempt from these games, laughing at their shouting. All of a sudden I felt an arm move around my waist, grabbing me and pulling me back into someone warm and strong. He picked me up and waved me through the air, twisting my clothes and making me scream before placing me back on the ground. I don't know if that could have felt like it did if Copenhagen had an Eiffel Tower.

Photo Suppository Part TWO

Justin made me easily one of the top three birthday cards I've ever received.

Headline news.

Pre-blizzard Kongens Nytorv.


Kongens Nytorv, post-theatre.

Best window.

Everyone loves a good loaf.

A wall of paintings at Statens.

The other wall.

Did I?

Nick or Jay? I can't tell.

House of cards.






Easter beer!

Botanisk have.

Purple flowers. :)