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.