Update: Leaving for two weeks, going to Venice, maybe Florence, then Paris. Then back home for a day, and off to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

When I was in Hamburg, Germany a few weeks ago, there was a huge protest about the transport of nuclear waste. We spoke to a German who kindly explained the whole deal since we couldn’t read any of their fliers. And I thought, oh, activists, how refreshing… not thinking that it was actually a big deal. But I guess it is.

Random thought: I just walked into the student lounge and Swingers was on… with Danish subtitles, of course. And it reminded me of the first time I saw it, back before I left for college. And I remember it made me feel a little better about moving to a new city, leaving an ex-boyfriend. Funny how then I could never have imagined I’d see it in Copenhagen, in this life situation. Never thought I’d see it with Danish subtitles, either.

“You need as much ballast as possible to stop you floating away; you need people around you, things going on, otherwise life is like some film where the money ran out, and there are no sets, or locations, or supporting actors, and it’s just one bloke on his own staring into the camera, with nothing to do and nobody to speak to, and who’d believe in this character then?” — Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Weird thing: Today I had a hot dog for lunch. Me. The veggie. I was really hungry and the sandwich place was closed but hey, is that an excuse for ingesting such a ridiculous food? I dunno. I do remember though that my first grade teacher called home because I was ordering a hot dog every day for lunch, and she was concerned about the nitrates. Just a culture note: In Copenhagen there are hot-dog vendors everywhere. They’re called polse (pull-sa) wagons, and the city is famous for the hot dogs, which actually look and taste just like Sahlen’s (Buffalo people will know what I’m talkin’ bout).

Realization: You can’t argue logically about emotions… or at least, my emotions… because a lot of times they don’t make logical sense. Should they have to?

Hmm: You know you’re out of it when you go the entire day wearing one white sock and one black sock, and the only reason you notice is because someone points it out when you get home.

Culture note revision: It was sunny today, and above 40 degrees. I guess that makes it prime leave-your-baby outside weather. This 2-year-old was just sitting outside a bookstore today in a carriage, blinking in the sunshine, all bundled up. On the train home from Germany I met these American women from Wisconsin, who were so typically touristy, doing the all-of-Europe in 2 weeks thing, and we talked about some of the culture differences. One of the women was super-appalled by the baby thing. “The doctor told me this, and I never forgot it, he said, ‘IF YOU’RE COLD, THE BABY’S COLD.'” These same women also asked me to email their hubbies back home for them, since they’d tried to get through and the operator only spoke German. They also gave me a can of Easy Cheese. A little piece of home.

Featured Danish quirk: So they have ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ here, same music, same set, same format. The announcer doesn’t have the same puppy-dog-in-a-suit look that Regis has, but he does ask “Is that your final answer?” (In Danish, of course). But the prize is only 1 million kroner. The American show offers 8 times as much cash.

Featured update: I made it to Hamburg, came down with a fever-y cold, slept in a mental-hospital-esque hostel with a bar thumping dance music through the floor underneath, and still managed to have a pretty good time. I went with Lauren and Liz, who were completely laid-back about everything, so that was really good. Because Hamburg is not the most beautiful city in the world. During WWII it was bombed non-stop for a few days, and after the war it was re-built with a lot of modern, very ugly buildings. Lunch wasn’t so great… nowhere to sit in a crowded market with take-out food, the only place to eat we could find. And then some woman stole our table, very rudely, because it looked like Lauren was just lounging there with no food, but she was actually saving it for us. Sigh. It was quite the scene. But later that night we sat back and enjoyed the German desserts (huge pancakes and apple pastries)… and the German beer, a brand called Jever seemed to be the local favorite. Liz came up with a way of telling American and European hostellers apart in the bathroom: The Americans cover up totally and wear flip-flops. The Europeans are definitely more naked.

“Would you say you’re feeling low and so a good idea would be to get it off your mind?” –Dave Matthews

The plan is today is to go to Germany, so maybe I’ll be there this weekend. Maybe it won’t work out… I don’t have a ticket yet. But it doesn’t matter, cuz it’s just damn cool that I can pack up for Germany one morning.

“Love is a matter of difference/Between you/And me/Love
is a matter of distance/But you are too far away…” — Tim
Christensen, Danish singer (been hearing this one on the

Featured update: I just saw Italian for Beginners, a movie
in Danish with English subtitles. If you can find out where
it’s playing, go see it! It’s funny and adorable, about this
random group of people who all end up in the same
community-ed class. Which, by the way, are very big in

Featured realization: So maybe this trip isn’t about
making life-long friends. I already have some of those.

Featured funny thing: Last Saturday four people and I
tried making dinner. Most of it was amazing, someone
made pad Thai, and Thai soup, and banana dessert. Me?
I just brought some salad from my host fam. But three of
us, while waiting for the others to show up, took on an
ambitious side project. We tried making maple-syrup
brownies, because the person’s host mom happened to
have gotten a jug of maple syrup as a gift from a previous
host kid. I was in charge of measuring the sugar. But we
couldn’t find the woman’s measuring cups. Instead we
found a liquid measuring cup. But that was marked off in
the metric system. Yeah. So I think I put in about twice as
much sugar as the recipe called for. We realized that when
we tried “creaming” the butter and sugar together, and
ended up with basically just sugar.

Featured Danish quirk: Everywhere you go in Copenhagen,
it looks like people are leaving their babies outside, with
their carriages tied up to posts, like pets. Sometimes they
just leave them on the sidewalks. The carriages all look
the same, old-fashioned buggies, navy blue or black. But
now after a few weeks, I’m pretty sure that they take the
babies out before they leave the buggies outside.

Featured Danish culture note: Here it’s normal for couples
to have children, live in the same house, and never be
actually married. Especially in the 70s, tax laws favored
the unmarried. So people who’ve lived together for 25
years and have children aren’t technically
husband-and-wife. Also, single parenting is normal, not
just an accident. The state gives you enough assistance if
you’re raising a child on your own that you can still live a
comfortable life and have a child on your own.

Bonus quote: “There’s too damn much freedom!” — My
philosophy prof in another existential crisis