My week last week started out with a big pile of trash on the sidewalk near my apartment.
But that was no indicator of the following week to come. It was just a pile of crap that I walked by coming into and returning back from fun.
Monday, I settled my metro fine. By that, I mean, I got lost finding the metro headquarters and got it lowered to $20. Then Suran and I met up, went shopping a little bit. We smelled perfumes and tried on make up, like little girls. Then we tried to find a furniture exhibit nearby but got lost. We were sick of having an end in mind, so we just got on the next bus and rode it to the end. It stopped at Ryvangens Naturpark — It wasn’t even on our map but it was beautiful. So quiet and so lush. We even came across some wild berries. How very quaint!
There were children running around, motherless. It felt sort of magical. Not that mothers ruin magic, it just reminded me of Peter Pan. God damn you, Denmark. You’re turning me into a fairy.
The next day, I set out for Hamlet’s Castle, where Hamlet takes place, and The Louisiana, a modern art museum outside of Copenhagen. Tanya, Huiren, Matt, Viv and I took the train with a lovely picnic packed. Even the train ride was fun. And Hamlet’s Castle (Sorry Denmark, I forgot what it’s really called) was just very nice. We ate lunch looking out at it, dangling our feet into the moat. With that group, there are always giggles. We toured the inside of the castle, which was sort of lackluster, since most of the castle and furniture and decorations from old times burned in a fire. Matt played Mozart on the piano in a ballroom and Huiren took photos of art and friendship. We went into the dungeons, which felt like a very realistic haunted house. We sat on canons and looked at Sweden from the shore. The brick walls along the side of the castle had plants growing out of them, and I certainly felt Shakespearean.
The Louisiana was only a short train ride away, so we hopped along in that direction. It was without a doubt the most beautiful museum I’ve ever seen. The exhibits were in houses within the woods, on this cliff overlooking an extremely serene ocean.
The exhibits were great. There was a Warhol/Munch exhibit, of all the graphic reprints Warhol did of Munch’s prints. Then some corresponding photography, which I spent too much mental energy on. There was another exhibit that turned out to be so entirely enthralling, but I was lamely over-stimulated. The artist was Sophie Calle, this “conceptual artist.” One of her exhibits was giving a break-up letter than someone wrote her to a bunch of different people — lots of women, a judge, a criminologist, etc. They all analyzed what it meant and what had happened in her life. It doesnt sound like she would have all that much to work with, but I skimmed the surface of the meaning of love in my half-hearted attempt to understand. I vow to come back and spend all day with Sophie Calle!
A sunset outside the museum eased that feeling of over-stimulation though. So corny, but there’s something about sunsets. Colors that only appear briefly at the end of the day, remind you that they were there all along. Makes you wonder what else you missed.
The next day, I left for Prague with Lily. I got there pretty late, but we stayed at this amazing hostel, Sir Toby’s. We sat at the front desk with the guy working there, Nico from Colombia, and learned about all the things we should do in Prague. His descriptions were hilarious and, as it turns out, very accurate.
“You should definitely go here. Something always happens here.”
“Something good? Something bad?”
“Oh just something always happens. You really must go.”
Something turned out to be a park. We ate lunch there and watched the most hilarious baby girl fumble with her purse as her mother attempted to hurry. The girl had attitude and it was adorable and hilarious. Lily spoke for her.
“Mom, just carry me. I know you’re going to. Fine, I’ll pay you. Just let me get my purse out.”
I’m still laughing.
Nico was funny without meaning to. Which seemed to be true of a lot of people in Sir Toby’s, such as this English kid, Joe, a self-proclaimed geek. He had this brilliant soliloquy on the difference between the EU and Great Britain and all and then just as quickly as he launched into conversation, his phone rang and he seemed to absolutely flutter away. As if his phone were some fairy he had no control over. See there I go with the fairies. How terrible.
This sounds so snobby, but Prague the city was not amazing. Lots of tourists! But I had an unforgettable time. I can never get enough time in with Lily. I laughed all day and also managed to be touched with inward peace all day as well. She does that to me. One would think we were lovers the way she completes me! We actually did create a lesbian cooking show called “Story Meals with Doris and Swan,” our alter egos. More on that later. I think we actually convinced everyone at the hostel that this was really going to happen. They wanted t-shirts!
Oh! There they are now, old Doris and Swany.
We cooked a lot, and slept a lot and wandered and got lost and got found. We realized that the best way to see Prague was to plan very under-whelming activities. We had the most fun sitting in parks watching sassy baby girls or by a river, people watching and people projecting.
It was hard to leave her, because I know how rare our time together is. And I know that there are so so so few people who I love to be around so much. It’s a genuine admiration. But I did actually miss Copenhagen, and did miss my roommates. It’s going to be hard to leave in 3 months. Suran made me rice porridge because I’m sick and we went on a walk through the cemetery after dinner. Ryan said that his mom always made this porridge for him when he was sick, and that made me feel very warm. When Ryan told me that I only have 3 more months today, I got quite sad. It’s not that I don’t miss my loved one’s, it’s just that I want to play forever. In fairy land.
Running along the canal near Frederiksberg, I saw a set of Danish twins. One was wearing a shirt with leaves on it. The other, this shirt:
Waking up this morning, I realized that my desk has way too many colors. It’s getting out of hand, especially since I got another flag at International Day yesterday. Every morning I wake up facing my desk and my eyes backfire into my head where it’s dark again. I’m thinking I’ll rearrange today.
Yesterday ended up being the kind of fun that puppies have. International food festival was really nice. The food cost money and I’m starting to feel pretty guilty about that. After that, Tanya, Huiren, Hyun, Matt and Suran and I walked back along the canal and decided to go on paddle boats on the canal because it was a nice day, which is pretty rare. It was genuine fun and a lot of giggles. We saw a rainbow! It was much less obtrusive than the rainbow of my desk. In fact, it was brilliant. I shared a boat with Tanya and Suran. Suran is my flatmate and she’s so entirely lovely and she takes such good care of me. Tanya is from the second floor, which is basically an extension of the third floor where I live. She’s nurturing and warm. I’m hoping we have tea more.
After that, we all made pizza together in my flat. Viv came, and he’s so much fun. Really reminds me of Lily — he suggested making Avant Guarde pizza. I think at one point, Lily and I actually did that. Well I’m falling in love with Viv and I’ve been in love with Lily for many years. We later played a drinking game to telephone: every time we saw product placement we would drink. Then we roped Huiren and Matt into going to a gay club with us and we had an outrageous time. When telephone played on the dance floor, all hell broke loose. And the next song was California Girls. I used to really hate that song, but when I’m the only California Girl on da dance flo, it’s sort of wonderful.
We got back at about 5:30 am. It was a wonderful night. Today I’ll be adventuring somewhere with water, I hope. Water and tea.
I finally finished with my Danish class, and “passed” with flying colors. Let’s just say that. I’m hoping this will allow me to expand my daily activities, but I think I just need to get off my ass and be more creative. The three people left over in my facebook chat are my two neighbors from the floor below and my flatmate…who lives in the room next to mine. For goodness sakes.
Yesterday I had a lovely study session in the Botanical Gardens, which is essentially the UC Davis Arboretum, but with water that isn’t green, and plants that can daily enjoy the sweet nectar of the sky. It was a fairly beautiful day, with some clouds and it smelled like algae and moisture where I was sitting. I had to push branches away to find it! I think that’s something that can make anyone sense that they’ve found greatness. It was this little bench right next to the huge pond with these floating upside down umbrellas. It’s a whimsical image and it reminds you of the things you left to float off when you were a kid.
So that was really nice for about 5 minutes. And then this Danish couple wanders through MY pathway to the bench that I claimed with the branches that I pulled apart to get to and just cozies up right next to me. What a bold move. I thought it was kind of strange and sort of one of those universal personal space rules that you just never even want to break. But they sat there anyway and were hugging and kissing and touching each others feet and fingertips and noses. Really loud kissing - like the kind that makes you think of a suction cup on the shower wall. If I stay, I’m about to watch a show, but if I leave I’ll feel like prude asshole. I knew that the Danes are comfortable with public displays of affection, so I just figured this was normal. Maybe I should just be a little more open minded. So I stayed, and they left after a while. But then I got cold and left too.
I feel as though I take the metro quite a lot. I’ve come to really enjoy that particular kind heat. The kind of heat that doesn’t go anywhere and doesn’t stay anywhere, and it’s not the heat that comes from the sun or from two bodies or anything like that. I can imagine why animals hibernate underground.
As pleasant as that is, I did get myself a ticket on the metro for not having my metro pass with me. The officer came by and asked for my pass and I was cooperative because I knew it was in my backpack. BUT when I opened up my wallet, it was no where to be found!!! So I got a ticket. The officer told me to “take it easy.” I wasn’t crying or like swearing or even taking it that hard, really. I think I even smiled at him. But maybe he could tell that I felt like a big idiot deep within. So I got the ticket. $120 if I lied about actually having a ticket and $20 if I do actually have the ticket but was too dense to bring it on the metro. It’s sort of a lose-lose situation. But for the most part, the metro police here are pretty lax. I’m the first person I’ve heard of to actually get fined, most people ride the metro without passes all the time. Or they can get out by playing dumb American.
Well. As it turns out. It was in my backpack the whole time. Goodbye $20, it’s been real.
Last night my apartment building had a BBQ, which was fun, and people came from other apartments and from other countries. I don’t know why, but I’ve kind of lost the desire to meet new people. I just don’t feel like having the whole “What was your name again? Oh and where are you from? What are you studying here? Why Copenhagen?” Jesus, I’m such a brat. I’ll never be surrounded by interesting people ever again and this is how I treat them?
After the BBQ I went with some friends to this club in the meat packing district called Jolene’s. HIPSTER.COM. OR SHOULD I SAY HIPSTER.DK. Because Danish hipsters are so much cooler than U.S. hipsters. Dark frames, sparkly shoes, heroine chic. The DJ played mixed 80’s songs and there were literally 99 red balloons on the dance floor at one point. That did, however, make for a wonderful dancing prop. Leo, Daniel and I shook our booties and bopped each other with balloons to the beat of some Pointer Sisters song. I was laughing the whole time!!
Came home and listened to music with neighbor until 5am. Then I slept through the morning and now I’m doing laundry. Someone left a red crew neck sweatshirt in my room when I moved in that says, Bronx Retro Baseball League Central Division and it matches the balloons from last night, both in hipster qualities and hue.
Today, I’m off to the Norrebro food festival. Norrebro is the “multicultural” area of Copenhagen and there are restaurants down all of Norrebrogade (a block or two away) from all sorts of countries - a lot of middle eastern ones especially. Apparently there’s going to be a lot of dancing and music and cheap food! More on that later.
That’s really enough for now. Let’s cross our fingers that old Laurenborg will get out in Copenhagen more this weekend and week. I’m going on my first trip on Wednesday to Prague, and I can’t leave for that until I’ve finished being a tourist here.
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Walking to the metro station, in somewhat of a hurry, I flipped through some new albums on my ipod. By chance I landed on this band whose album I didn’t even know I had, The Sarcastic Dharma Society. I didn’t think they would be more than ambience, considering the frivolousness of their name.
This is the song I landed on. A cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Our House,” written by Nash for Joni Mitchell, I think. My parents have always played this song growing up, and I think it was even one of their wedding songs. I can picture them at least eating their wedding cake to it, if not dancing to it. Despite their name, the SDS is very sincere, and they did a fair amount of justice to the original. I had one of those moments of recognition that almost made me stop. I don’t even remember if it was sunny or cloudy outside. My eyes started to mist on the elevator. The song is just about a house, and two people living in it who sing love songs to each other. It’s a fine house, they sing. Not the best house, but it’s really not about the house, even though that’s all they sing about. I can see myself listening to the song through the screen door in my family’s garden - also as ambiance. It was one of those delicate nuances that happen while we’re planting and growing. Our family really did have two cats too. I listened to it again on the metro. And again after class. I know it wasn’t meant to be played like that, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s so sincere.
Danish language final is tomorrow. Learning has been rough, but I tend to pass for a Dane with the few useful phrases I know, including Tak (Thank you), Hi hi (hi), Undskyld (Sorry), and Jeg kan ikke tale danish (I can’t speak danish).
Here’s my book.
Ok now, hi hi (also means bye)
how was your experience?
got some weezy baby
smoked some weezy baby
then went to this dank and cheap danish restaurant called chicky grill with this danish family friend
like you do
that sounds really fantastic
yeah it was tight
yeah look it up its super dank
traditional danish food
like 50 kroners for a meal
I can’t quite put words to the excellence of this past weekend (Jesus, is it tuesday already?) but I WILL say that it involved tipsy child-like dancing to “It’s Raining Men” WHILST fireworks exploded above me and my friends. And I WILL say that it involved karaoke with a lesbian couple in a fabulous club that served free pear cider. We sang “Cuz I’m Your Lady.”
The parade and all that accompanied it were stunningly fantastic. To say the least. I’d say that was the best weekend in the whole 2 weeks I’ve been here.
In other news, I think I’m growing into a more realistic appreciation for Copenhagen. I’m taking off my rose colored glasses and attempting to love the city for what it is, and not a postcard that someone will put on their refrigerator. Last week, for instance, I made some amateur observation that the Danes never wear ear buds or headphones. Instead, I supposed, they preferred to hear the natural and urban ambiance of the wonderful sparkling world everywhere around them and not around them. This morning, after finally admitting to myself that I am a “coffee drinker” again, I sat next to three people on the metro. Of those three, three were wearing headphones… noise canceling headphones.
Newsweek rated Denmark as the 10th best country in the world. The United States was 11th.
On the other hand, nearly 50 Germans walked out the metro wearing German-themed costumes, like durndals. Was the pink panther German? There were a couple of those also.
I got a really gay plant today.
That was the last thing I needed, I think, to feel like I live here. I know exactly where to find my tee shirts, I have dust collecting on my suitcases under my bed, I go on runs.
On the subject of athleticism, it’s absurd how many Skandinavians run and how fast they do so. I was by the canal this evening and I felt like I was in last place of a beauty pageant marathon. TAKING OFF THE ROSE COLORED CLASSES. (is that a phrase?) There are gnats by the canal, and when you run in the wind, they find their way into every orifice of the human body. And there’s this one (ok, the only one) homeless guy who takes off his pants and shouts “GODMORGEN” all day long. I guess that’s sort of nice too, though.
Best Copenhagen Friend (BCF) Kelsey and I ate tiramisu last night and cried about her man, who did something terrible. Then we watched a RomCom. Ladyhood is a very cozy thing.
I’ve been in Copenhagen for two weeks, as of today. I’m already a failure of a blogger.
As a recap, Copenhagen is really great. I’m finding that the city is smaller than I thought it was, and that I might soon be able to hold it like a little daisy.
Currently I am hearing a bell from a tower down the street, but it’s muffled by the sounds of cars and sirens. Copenhagen is just like the pictures — Colorful dollhouses on all streets. It still has traffic and theft and trash and naughty words spray painted in the ally ways of those dollhouses but nevertheless, it’s lovely. It’s obvious that someone high up wants the people of Copenhagen to be happy wherever they get off their perfectly-timed buses to buy a croissant and Carlsberg.
Today was one of my favorite days of this whole journey. A few friends and I attended Pride Parade. We started out with sparkle bombs — a shot of baccardi white rum dropped in a glass of peach sparkletini. My most proud invention, making its debut on the best possible day of the year. The parade was a ton of fun, as to be expected.
What was different at this pride, as opposed to SF was that there were a lot of babies and children. The Danes legalized gay marriage 21 years ago (the first country in the world to do so), and everyone’s had time to be mature about it. They have a generation now that will probably not view “gay” as a negative word. These kids, in their adorable rainbow sweaters, can skip along side beautiful transvestites and not think anything of it. America, get with it.
Excuse my lack of patriotism, living with international students has turned me into a bashful citizen. “But really! No one actually likes Sarah Palin! We’re fat because we can’t afford to be healthy! Everyone knew the whole Iraq thing was a bust!”
Well I guess that’s all. Now that I’ve actually started this nonsense, maybe I’ll write it in. When it rains, it sprinkles.