Thursday, January 22, 2009

sing star, bikes, and a lot of thinking

its been a while since my last post. i think that might just be the way that it is.

i only know what date it is because tuesday was obama day (01.20.2009, seen on a bumper sticker near you). hooray! hooray! just like the day after the election i've been full of elation. luckily the danish people feel it too. i learned today that 95% of denmark favored his election. imagine that. according to one of my new teachers, in most countries he would have won by over 65%. strange strange america.

since i wrote last i went to a bike auction, started orientation, listened to a wind ensemble, heard speeches about denmark, attended "survival danish" (where i learned that written words do not correspond with any pronunciation i am familiar with), went for more walks, met people, ran all over copenhagen on a sunny day.

my health has been kind of wacky: waking up in the middle of the night with an upset stomach, thinking i have a fever in the middle of the day, headaches. but it hasn't bothered me much. i don't know if this is because the feelings are mild, or because i have gotten so much better at dealing with discomfort.

today was the first day of classes. i like them, they are interesting and not that much work. different subjects than what i usually take at wesleyan: how to make a website, danish immigration, and female artists.

the people here are alright so far. its harder to find students here with similar interests than it is at wesleyan. i'm just waiting it out.

the fantastic news is that i love my host family. they are so interesting and helpful and i can tell that the feeling is mutual. kika and henning were telling me the other night how much more time they all spend together now that i am here. they listen to what i have to say and we have a really nice back and forth. clearly this situation is working for all of us.

i am well. its that kind of thing where nothing of note is really going on except small good things. i play video games with my eleven year old host brother (sing star!). i make dinner with my host mom who likes trying new foods while i am here. almost everything that "happens", happens internally. i am trying to love myself better. i am trying to tell a story of myself with more strength and power than in the past. i am trying to be open to new feelings and emotions i've pushed away before.

in the words of ulysse: this is all practice, this is all process. i got myself out of the usual environment to try different patterns too hard for me to imagine before: living slower, being on time, keeping my room neat, spending more alone time with myself, riding my bike, reading. a lot more seems possible now that i am out of my comfort zone / i am making myself my own comfort zone.

i generally feel open to whatever comes. right before i left nyack i felt full of this happy, grateful energy and it hasn't gone away. its almost like my brain is trying to adjust to it and make it permanent. i'm enjoying writing on this blog and thinking about it. for a really long time i have kept my personal take on my life to myself (because i think that is what most people do), so its interesting to open that up to whoever wants to look and believe that people care.

i have never felt more comfortable than i feel here (minus exceptions such as powell house). on the metro today i realized that i wasn't dwelling on how i looked or what other people were thinking or where i was going or what i had to do. i think i've reached a point where the only thing that matters is being compassionate, starting with myself and then expanding to others. it helps a lot to think about people i know that have died and how they felt about their lives: basically life is really precious and not something to be taken for granted or used stressing on little things. i'm just really grateful to be in a place right now where i can appreciate these things because i haven't always been and i know some people never get there.

on the relationship front i think distance is making a lot of things clearer. i am understanding my friends a lot better from the sparse communication available. i think it brings out people's unique qualities. like when you only get an email a week from someone, what does they say?

and here is another poem:

yes, and
my heart is wide open

love floods it like wine or
wine floods it like love -

i can't be sure or

there is no difference.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A little post about this idea.

Couchsurfing, informally, is when a you stay on someone's couch, or maybe lots of people's couches. family, friends, strangers, etc.

Couchsurfing, more formally, is coordinated through a website. you set up a profile and then make requests to stay with other people, or they can stay with you, but it is also about more than just having a place to sleep. you can read more about it on the website, but the expectation is that you will make time to spend with the host or surfer and share. you also don't have to stay with someone, like i just met up with someone for a few hours. its a great way to make friends in a new place or in a new way.

i am working on research for my thesis about youth travel and couchsurfing, specifically the way that the internet has changed the way that people connect with strangers in "real" life activist settings. we'll see how that goes...

Everything in its right place

the last time i talked to a friend of mine he said 'everything in its right place'. this is so true. i am getting everything that i need. every single thing. its like i had to come here. its like this place/space was made for me. the pace, the food, the people. time, money. everything is working out: i am getting a bike on saturday, there is a mac specialist that lives around the corner, they eat food i like, i can cook, i meet people that i like, there are demonstrations to go to.

henning (the dad) likes science fiction, history, photography. i can tell that sometimes kika (the mom) wants to hug me. apparently she wrote on facebook that she has a new 20 year old daughter. laura likes me too. we had breakfast together. i think she is cool, although i don't understand how she is fifteen and so self-possessed and sophisticated.

yesterday, i woke up and made breakfast. fresh bread (baked that morning by henning!) with pepperoni, cheese, apple, and avocado. read Infidel. set up the blog. got dressed. set out for the train station. i walked and walked until i found it, but it did not look at all like the one that i remembered from arrival. no matter. i was in the right zone, etc. i had no watch so i did everything in the time that it took to do it. no rush. patiently figured out which way the ticket went into the machine. leaned against the train doors. watched the other passengers. there was one women who reminded me of someone from home. people left their larger bags by the doors and then picked them up on their way out. i couldn't tell if guys were checking me out. i tried to give off an aura of confidence. maybe it was working. we passed through the station that is actually closer to my house that i couldn't remember how to get to.

when i got to the station i was supposed to meet a couchsurfer friend, i couldn't really figure out where she wanted to meet and i was twenty minutes early. so i waited, but felt conspicuous. took a walk. discovered that this was the area i had wandered on monday. went in to the big department store. i looked at the boots and everything was almost 1000 kroners or more ($150). but there were pretty people all over. i might just get tired of that. there was a guy selling hot nuts outside, they looked and smelled good, but i didn't get any. i think it might be a good habit to avoid spending money out of the house. it is really expensive and i don't have that much right now.

went back to the station. it was funny to see some other people who were also wandering around. i didn't smile at them because i didn't want to stand out, but i did think to myself, what if this is another DIS student and i meet them in the future, will our eyes light with recognition, will we laugh with relief and understanding of this moment? anyway, i finally saw the person i was waiting to meet to see an exibit of kara walker's work.

it was intense. that's what i kept saying over and over. there isn't really another word except brutal, or maybe insane. but i don't know who is insane or intense or brutal, kara walker or the rest of us. we watched a movie about her life and work. a move from cali to stone mountain, georgia during puberty. that'll mess you up for sure. to give a very brief overview, her work is about slavery and race relations in the united states. it is also about artistic representations of history and public consumption of art.

saw her silloettes. my mouth was gaping the whole time. then her shadow puppet work. no wonder she has a genius grant. she is. she is. she is. so much. in some of her work she wrote about herself. what is like for her to do this work. that meant a lot. i heard her. i heard her through that paper.

it was really brutal. i don't know what other people were getting out of it. i don't know what steph got out of it. i hope she thought it was worth the money. 35 kroner. 6 bucks. upstairs was an exhibit with more color. it was a good palette cleanser. i can't get over that kara's work. who is crazy? she who remembers? or us who try to forget? i shudder when i think about it.

the couchsurfer and i talked about dumpster diving, the music scene, bars, holidays, activism, queers, schooling. outside of the museum we were looking at a map and this guy came up to us and asked what we were looking for. this was the first time anyone had approached me randomly. i liked him. he was from the faroe islands and seemed a bit drunk. my new friend and i parted ways, but i think we will meet again. there is a people's house where they cook every monday. that sounds like something i would like to do. also, she knows about demonstrations and shows. it was a good experience.

over skype i found about that a friend's mom killed herself. i didn't know her. i just think about my friend and how confusing it has been for me to know or know of so many people that have died. this brings the number to eleven in the past five years? young, old, middle aged from despair and accident. there are so many wonderful things about life, i wish that this women could have found them.

i wrote this poem the other day and sent it to my friend for her and her mom, i think it applies:

you are you wherever you are.
home. home. away way way far away.
in every moment there is love and wisdom to curl in.
fear makes blinders so we can't feel our arms,
the arms,
that wrap us in embraces.

don't forget the ones,
the bright lights gone out, out t/here
who remind us of true beautiful wisdom.
us who hold our selves up to the light and say,
we are incandescent,
we are whole
we are grounded
we are sure footed and

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


i am reveling right now. everything is sooo good. i have a hard time knowing where to begin.

first of all, leaving was beautiful. saying goodbye to nyack, the river, the buildings, people, friends and fam, i felt the love so deeply. to my core. to my bones. i had a funk settled on my shoulders on and off through the whole break, but thursday morning it lifted and i felt so mellow and trusting. there were some financial issues, arguments, and snafoos, but everything fell right into the place it needed to be.

leaving was an amazing opportunity to take stock of all the incredible relationships, places, and qualities there are in my life. every goodbye was an affirmation of connection. the day before i left the sun was shining such warm light on my town that i went home and got my new camera. i love the sun. i really really do. the way that it shines on water and makes it too bright to look at. or the way it lights up strip malls, making what i thought was unimportant suddenly so significant.

everything was easy at the airport. no long lines. no hassle with my too heavy bag. walked in and promptly bumped into a kid i went to high school with and recently re-friended at a party. turns out we were on the same plane, in the same row. we shared stories and food and headphones and company all the way to iceland. i napped a lot on the plane to copenhagen. didn't talk to anyone and woke up before we landed. when i opened my eyes and looked out the window, i immediately thought of a fairy tale. there were colorful boats in the water and tiny wind mills. i tried to take a picture, but it doesn't do the image justice.

From Post One

when i go on planes i get a terrible headache. i can't sleep. i get bored. my stomach hurts. in some ways this makes me think i should dislike flying, but i don't. i think it's fine. so that's how it went.

once again, no problems. got through customs, got my bag. decided to take a taxi to the hostel since i didn't feel up to navigating the metro. the nice driver told me his opinion of copenhagen and delivered me to the nicest hostel/hotel whatever i've been in. it wasn't simply the cool design or the luxury, but the general cosiness and friendliness of the place.

From Post One

i promptly passed out from one to eight when Gifty, from the Faroe Islands by way of Ghana, woke me up and told me that she was taking me out to eat so i wouldn't be hungry later when everything was closed. we got into a cab, she told the driver where to go, then ordered for me and watched me eat.

on our way back she told me more about herself, how she came to be in denmark, how long it took to get a visa and why muslims are inherantly bad (this is not flattering to her, but i gotta be honest). i went downstairs to email some friends and fam. called my host family (after i said i was in denmark henning asked, do you want me to come pick you up now?) i wrote some and then fell asleep.

yeesh. what a day that was! but really i felt so happy through the whole thing. everything totally worked out. i think the reasons were the planning (a little bit), but mostly my attitude and belief that everything was going to be alright.

in the morning i took another cab to the main building for my study abroad program. this cab driver volunteered in reference to the danish cartoon issue, that the world just didn't understand danish irony and it was unfortunate many came to know denmark in this unflattering way. huh.

henning was going to pick me up after work (aka 4:30 because he got off at 4. gotta love those hours), so i dropped my big bag off and began wandering. i got directions to a bakery, but immediately went in the wrong direction. this was a good thing because it gave me a mission for the rest of the day. took pictures, found a falafel place, finished a book i brought with me, did more exploring and then went to meet my host family.

From Post One

they are all really kind, smart and friendly. henning is a project manager for computer systems. kika is a physiotherapist. laura is a fifteen and cares a lot about school and ansger, who is eleven, cares a lot about world of warcraft. ansger doesn't say much to me, but tonight we watched life of brian together and laughed a lot. henning shows me things that i will be interested in like photography books or places to walk. tonight to checked kika's grammar on her english thesis title. i haven't spent much time with laura yet.

i'm happy because they have good food and a nice shower. and i have a warm bed.

From Post One

tomorrow i am going to see an exhibit of kara walker's work with someone that i met on couchsurfing. her name is steph and she just moved here from australia. i am trying to take it one day at a time. it can be really strange to think about the world from another angle entirely. but perspective is what i came here for!