Thursday, January 31, 2002

i sent my mother a hurried email during a class break saying hi, still alive, fine, bye, and she returned one instructing me at length to take things less seriously. after being initially taken aback i realized she must have tapped into babblebook.
in any event, i woke up this morning feeling much better without any reason for the change. had enough time for a leisurely shower and meal before heading down to my very first class, Criminal Justice in Scandinavia. the prof, who we are supposed to call by her first name, is a lawyer in her early thirties (although it's impossible to tell danish women's ages as they look uniformly sternly beautiful from 21 to 50). this position at DIS, which she's held for five years or so, is a supplement to her position as an instructor at the police academy. you all are easy, she says, because you're academics; you want to learn. cops, who are three years in the force before they get to me, are quite a challenge.
the class covers a nearly-daunting amount of reading and argument is a key component. you can believe anything you want to about gun control, drugs, prisons, or the death penalty, she said. just be ready to defend anything you say.

my next class was more low-key, taught by another danish woman, this one small and birdlike with adorable silver spectacles, a draped scarf, and a tendency to bow every now again as she paces. she lectured for an hour with barely a glance at her notes on the state of jews in europe right now in three areas: eastern post-red countries, western never-red countries, and germany which for many reasons is a special case. listening, i felt compelled to visit berlin for the first time. ideally i'd visit berlin in the 1920s, but you have to take what you can get. (incidentally that's pretty much anywhere [albeit present-time, i'm afraid] so where should i go? i've been to france, italy, and holland already. am curious about spain, greece, and brussels. it's apparently cheap to get to london and i only spent 15 conscious hours there. suggestions?)

afterwards met up with heather and drea, both similarly excited for their classes, and embarked on phase one of a mysterious venture i'll go into depth about here when or if it's successful. came home to make more french fries -- or should perhaps say fewer french fries as i learned from my mistake -- and eat corn from the can and yogurt from the carton. not bad, all told. my film class tomorrow starts at 8:45. isn't that monsterous? who can watch films that early? flipping through the syllabus i nearly collapsed in shock: in addition to classics (discreet charm of bourgeoisie, au revoir les enfants etc.) we're watching diva. now, that may or may not be the p.o.s. liz brought over. but just the thought set me to rolling on the floor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

for the first morning since arriving in this country i didn't have to get up at 8. when my alarm went off at 10, i lay in bed, refreshed after a full night's sleep, staring out at a swept blue sky, and didn't want to move. just lay there, not particularly warm or comfortable or happy, just there. didn't want to get up.
i shouldn't have.

not that today was bad. got tickets for less than $20 to see carmen at the royal opera on february 11 with drea, sam, katie, and mel. went to a lecture on the state of the european union. had a fabled only-served-on-wednesday pastry. toured the carlsberg brewery. saw moulin rouge with drea and mel. hot chocolated afterwards with drea.
a persistent knot of tension in my shoulders refuses to be drunk, willed, or filmed away. during moulin rouge, while enraptured at some moments and crying at others, i couldn't relax. external details bothered me: what a decrepit state he's left in, how in all these movies the sought-after heroine dies because that's the only way a man can truly posess her, my own jealousy. (the movie itself is much better than i expected, incidentally. heavy-handed, over the top, and with a plot that must have been played out a record 27,000,000 times but very well-acted and balanced out with tongue-in-cheek humor and elbow-in-the-ribs popculture references, as though baz himself were sitting right next to you cheerfully munching away on popcorn and sayin, 'i know this is ridiculous but damn, ain't it fun?')

afterwards at hot chokolade i needed to release pressure. she's wonderful she would have listened but We Don't Know Each Other at least not yet, not really she's so nice she says 'heck' and i guessed what she was going to say before she said it. i couldn't i wanted someone i knew, someone i could be unreasonable with. i'm just upset, i guess. i don't like beer, i haven't been to the opera enough for the prospect of it to thrill me, i resent movies that portray more exciting lives than mine, and most of all i miss having the people i love around me. too much thinking, too much living in my head. it's tiring.

and tomorrow classes start.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

just a few more additions. i meant to say this before: a shout out and a huge congratulations slap-on-the-back hug kiss and cry to my co|mo girls. emails are beginning to pour in from curious, enthusiastic parents. cheers specially to misses sarah c. and sorelle, our fearless leaders.

folk dancing was allright. after an initial half hour, i lost interest, turned down two invitations to dance, and remained with heather on the sidelines to observe the redfaced, whirling masses. heather wants to meet the crown prince while we're here: he's single and something of a swinger. his younger brother is already hitched to a girl from hong kong and this country, which adores their royal family, is anxious for him to settle down.
incidentally, i've never seen so many engagement rings in person as i have this last week. two girls i've met are engaged (one, j., to a 37 year old professor at a prominent university i won't name here [it jeopardizes his potential for tenure if a lot of people know about him? or so she says]. she also claims not to believe in marriage; just 'in free jewelery'. another, more down-to-earth, has been dating a boy for six years. he knelt down by a waterfall and proprosed. they're getting married after they both graduate. another girl, erin, who i both lunched and pubbed with today, was engaged for a week to a guy she'd only known a year -- she had the sense to break it off.)
in a cafe today pre-folk dancing, i participated in my first catty conversation re: an engagement ring, by which i mean i was present during the conversation and felt mature by association. j. wears a rather large diamond and sam declared it fake. do you think so, said heather, leaning in. absolutely, replied sam.
glad to know these chicks aren't so pure after all.

people in this country have the right idea. the average age for marriage is 31 for men, 28 for women. many never marry at all. why the kids on this program are aberrant -- and it is aberrant, isn't it, to want to get married? at least, so young? -- i'm not sure.
we finished our four day danish crash course with a walking tour. through winds strong and sharp enough to bite off your head we made our way to two different libraries, the american store (at which we turned up our ready-to-do-the-european-thing noses and the proprietress replied, "yeah, just wait til the craving kicks in"), the high class supermarket that has everything we're familiar with and much more besides, and finally finally the bakery in anticipation of which i hadn't eaten breakfast. my hunger was rewarded by a wonderful looking something in the window; i bought it without even knowing what it was (brown sugar mostly, more than i'd ever seen in one place outside of a bag.) and my hunger helped: so eager was i to finally eat that i didn't think twice about pronounciation or sounding like a fool.

last nite eric and i went out to a smart cafe less than a five minute walk from our doorstep. he got green tea, i got chai (it exists here!) and we talked about life, relationships, ambition, ecology. i discovered that he's as passionate on the subject of conservation and organic living and building as blair is about slam poetry, but it's almsot always interesting to hear someone in that position talk.

came home and talked to ben, found out my darling exflatmate rebecca got herself cast in cabaret as a kit kat dancer. no less than her dream, i imagine.
and today, after our pastry outing, lunch, and an assembly about culture shock and living with the danes ("go out and meet them," one administrator advised, "because we have statistics to uphold. statistically, two of you will marry people from ths program and two will marry danes.") i laughed out loud at a darling lana entry. a step forward and up for wymmyn everywhere. lana, we salute you.

brief lull between activities. next comes folk dancing; i think i will go after all. maybe after i'll rent cabaret and envy yet another performance i'll miss this semester. ah well. i guess i'll have to put on a couple of my own to compensate, eh?

Monday, January 28, 2002

mm, might vomit. yes, might. i just ate the largest pile of french fries i've ever seen, let alone ingested. but i did it: i transfered each greasy, crinkle-cut square from plate to mouth and for good reason. i, ester, laziest of all lazy eaters, chronic nibbler, able to subsist on dry cereal, carrots, yogurt and diet coke for weeks at a time, finally bought something from the supermarket that requires more preparation than tossing the thing in the microwave and pressing 'power'.
i made too many as i didn't stop to consider that i would be the only one eating. but i didn't over or underdo them; burn the apartment to a crisp; or in any other way fuck up the baking process. i baked! i! baked!
sort of, anyway.

otherwise today was sort of blah. class: blah. weather: blah. three times i came close to tears for stupid reasons (loneliness, middle east conflict which should have put loneliness in perspective but didn't really, and confessions, which i got from jackie). i noticed that i don't know the back of my hand particularly well. the one i use most, my right, is all scuffed and blotchy, and there's one set of short parallel lines of red dots -- i have no idea where they came from. the back of my left hand, by contrast, is almost glibly smooth.

tomorrow in our last class of emergency danish our prof, who's excellent -- i have such respect for teachers --, is taking us to a pastry shop and making us each individually place an order in danish. i'm bracing myself: i have a low humiliation threshold. if i must though i must and it'll be good for me to do it at least once. later that evening a party with hot dogs and folk dancing. i might skip out on that and go see a movie. how have i made it this long ... ?

got one letter from ben, wrote one to liz (it seemed appropriate as i was 'cooking'). i miss homefolk though i'm in a better state than i was. books for our classes were distributed in blue ikea bags and mine was quite possibly the heaviest. 5 classes, each social science = more than i can carry; hell, probably more than i weigh. eric and kong helped me and then we went shopping. we might go out to celebrate my culinary achievement in a bit. sitting around in my empty room on my empty hall is arsenic for my mood. poison in high doses but with the frightening extra that in small, daily doses i could get used to it.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

back at home for the first time since i left for class saturday morning. sapna was astonished: 'where have you been?' heh heh. that's RIGHT. ... oh lord, did i just call this place 'home'? wow.

the events that kept me away aren't that exciting though they did keep me happy. andrea's adorable. after planning day after day to spend more time together i'm glad we finally made that happen. sometimes she laughs at my jokes and sometimes she makes the perfect deadpan responses. she's also supernice, like the other girls i've been with recently, but i hesitate to judge based on this semester's co�motion experience: initially i was turned off by how eye-rollingly sensitive and careful everyone seemed. i now have a better sense of what they truly are (MONSTERS) and in the spirit of contrition for being too hasty then, i am waiting to form concrete opinions now.

we hung out and told more boystories in drea's room. heather and estelle joined us and heather, a dyedredhead from georgia, did drea's makeup. around 12:30 we decided to head over to the party, even paid the cover. but dark ... smoky ... pulsing .... yeah, it just wasn't what any of us was in the mood for. so sam drea and i cycled out again purty quick, opting instead to put on pajamas, hang out in drea's communal kitchen drinking hot chocolate and eating cereal, discussing the danish political situation.
to wit, what is people's incentive to work? does the population, as i remember the charrows told me months ago, grow lazy when they aren't pushed by the desire to earn as much money as possible? socialism of this sort slices off the extremes on both ends of the spectrum. it wouldn't work in america partly because i think the danish feel better taking care of their own than americans would feel taking care of millions of differently looking people to whom they're not related and with whom they don't share history. drea, who volunteers in a hospital back in green bay, sees firsthand what happens to folks who can't afford health care and she's staunchly for this system, whatever the drawbacks.

finally slept, with drea's purple frog as a pillow. made it by ten for a walking history-through-paintings tour of fredericksburg castle and a folk high skool which served us an excellent hot lunch. i hadn't signed up to go but as there was room i shrugged and boarded. in the castle, gorgeous and freezing of course, kong grabbed me and told me to pose with a realredhead named tony. he took our picture. then tony and i introduced ourselves. i had four subsequent conversations with him ('why doesn't your name match your complexion?') in which he told me rambling, creative, impossible stories about his life. at any rate it was entertaining.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

i'm in alburtsland (okay, i know that's not how it's spelled, but none of YOU know that), andrea's dorm. last nite i crashed around 8 o'clock after a macrobiotic dinner prepared by eric the viking. in return i walked him thru some html basics and gave him pointers, sounding i think very professional which is a talent i have. even when i don't know what i'm talking about i can sound convincing. so it's tempting to pretend to be an expert all the time. when i was little i used to lie cheerfully to other children on the playground, make them think i only spoke hebrew. ben and i lied roughly every other time we spoke to each other during those formative grade 4 - grade 6 years. i guess i deserve the mistrust of people and things i developed back then.

anyway, my mood dropped. i wanted female company. back in my room, sapna, refreshed from a five hour nap, was planning to hit the clubs. i fought with my phone card for the next couple hours; at 11:15, she went out and returned at 4:30. made me feel like a class-a dork which didn't help alleviate the loneliness. this morning, post-class, for which i had to wake her up, i wandered off by myself. emailing was too maudlin. i shopped at a vintage store, bought a norman mailer book (he's supposed to be a genius, right?) and went to a cafe where a hot barista (what's the male equivalent?) gave me a deal on my cafe au skim-lait. this happens to me kinda often, but it's kinda disheartening because it's a side effect of the cute-helpless look i get rather than a conscious sexy-Woman thing.

met up with andrea and co. feeling in my own way refreshed. sam, a sweet-looking red-cheeked midwesterner, invited us to dinner with her host family. excellent food; very wry, relaxed company; lots of alcohol offered and thanks waved away. the girls -- andrea, mel, another midwesterner, and i -- adjourned to sam's room for storytime. bonding. i needed that. still need to find people who curse, tho. even the monster clubbers seem more wholesome than i am.

Friday, January 25, 2002

someone told me they knew an entry was going to be happy because it was in pink. well, here it is again. today was about five times better and more cheerful than yesterday, in no small part because i woke up to glorious glorious sunshine. everything perked up accordingly. after a cool first crash course in danish class where i sat next to and exchanged observations with australian amanda and lunch with andrea (who i will always remember fondly as my first hello and my first hug, in that order), i met up with eric the viking (no really, he told me he's a descendent). wed. night at the restaurant we'd sat across from each other and spoken briefly but i couldn't concentrate much as i kept falling asleep.
today he invited me to an art exhibit. the sun's shining!, i said. forego art -- come walk. he asked the two guys with him, kong and blair, who assented to the change of plans, and off we went. i was exhilirated. maybe the serotonin i haven't been using the last few days all kicked in at once. we talked a lot, shopped, walked, watched ice skaters. when we got too cold we ducked into a bar. they got beer, i got irish coffee. blair lectured for thirty minutes on slam poetry, which apparently is his specialty, and we debated the virtues of poetry v. architecture, analysis in general, and words in general. blair recited a poem on the spot -- we all had to lean in over the candle to hear -- and i was impressed.

we found a health food shop for eric, who's macrobiotic, and he bought food with which to make us dinner tonite. kong, unexcited at the prospect, stopped to buy pizza. he'd never even heard of veganism. the rest of us are to meet up in a bit. in exhange i'm giving eric html lessons.

aside from good company though small things have kept me buoyant. i got done nearly all of the errands i had to run. i'm not usually goal oriented but sometimes i derive much satisfaction from checking things off a to do list. we got on the right bus and this time someone else made the mistake that had us hop off at the wrong stop. it wasn't a problem: we walked back still under a staunch blue sky and i thought, if i have just one day like this a week, just one, i'll be all right.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

back at the dorm in the computer lab. not at karaoke which is supposedly happening at the bar downstairs. i don't think i have the energy for that. after a 3 hour bus tour which included numerous stops, treks through the rain to see parks, castles, the little mermaid, we -- the group of girls i was with today, primarily: my roommate sapna, a berkeley chick named claire, and two black girls, jackie and k--- something, who are in all the same classes -- had another impromptu one. bus drivers are so far the only people we've encountered in this city who don't speak english and the one on the bus we got on to get home couldn't help us. the ride is supposed to take 7 minutes and after 20 we were kinda nervous. despite our evident distress none of the other passengers volunteered to help until i approached one woman, bowed with my head to the floor and without looking offered her a slip of paper with our address on it. then she was quite friendly and said in perfect english, 'oh no, you've gone entirely in the wrong direction.' thanking her profusely, i crawled away.
anyway, we finally made it home, went shopping (another adventure. everything's one in a foreign country) made dinner, relaxed. by dinner of course i mean a roll with cream cheese and tomato soup from a box. but hey, i did warm up the soup before i ate it on the stove. that's something. in one of liz's letters to me for use in various situations, she instructed me to learn to cook. baby steps. the letters in general made me cry on the plane. it's a good thing no one was sitting next to me. they would have thought i was nuts, alternately laughing and weeping and carrying on.

my room has character which makes up for a lot (a lot = location, as its situated on the seventh floor of tower F where apparently the antisocial folk who never learned to share live. hence every apartment has an individual kitchen and people keep doors closed and locked. the DIS students are scattered among towers A, B, and D.) it's pentagonal, with a grid of nine windows paned in dark wood taking up an entire wall. the other four walls are white and clean. i have a desk, three chairs, a bed, a shade over a lightbulb over my bed that looks like the ones we had in the hallway in the barn only threaded with grass, plenty of bookshelves, a mirror, and lots of light. sapna and i share a bathroom which efficiently combines a sink with a shower. the toilet broke the first time she used it yesterday and has been making gurgling noises for our listening pleasure since. the shower broke too -- or rather the faucet that controls it broke -- but swiftly fixed itself. the danes aren't as smart as the israelis, though: they use mops to clean up instead of squeegies. not nearly as good.

some guy just introduced himself and asked if i was going downstairs to karaoke. all right, if personally invited i really should go. if it sucks i'll leave. tomorrow i start a crash course in danish from 9 a.m. to 12. after i plan to run errands, get a tea pot, and find someone who shares my sense of humor or likes folk music. ideally both.
keyboards are different here so i have to type painstakingly, looking down at the keyboard. i don't have oto much time at the moment: shops close 5 or 6 and my roommate (wasn't expecting to have one but i do -- we share a suite, a closet, a bathroom and a kitchen but we each have an individual room. her name is sapna and so far we've gotten along well) and i have to go buy groceries. she can cook. i wonder if it's my destiny for this year to be curry filled. hey, why not.

we live in a dorm of about1,000 students total, roughly 40 of whom are DIS but none are in out tower. the room has its plusses and minuses which i'll go into later. so does the city, although it's beautiful, unremitting gray sky nonwithstanding. it's rained since i got here and will be raining all week, i'm told. this is a test of my I Can Get Used to Anything idea about myself. not too cold thus far. i have no illusions about it staying that way.
i have yet go get really worked up about the program. kinda like being vegetarian: every once in a while i ask myself, 'hey, why?' but i made up sufficient reasons for that; i guess i will here too. maybe when classes start i'll become more excited.
meanwhile i'm faking it when necessary pretty well, meeting people, forgetting their names, trying desperately not to make bad impressions (gaaa! any advice?) and otherwise making my way. some encouragement, fellas, would be great.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

my brother is trying gamely to continue sleeping despite the fact that i'm in his room, copying cds onto his inexplicable little archos jukebox 6000 which will either be the solution to all my problems or the bane of my existence (pick a cliche!) i have to use his computer b/c i shortcircuited the other jukebox somehow using mine. quite possibly it was a flaw in the machine but one can't be too careful. so for the past few days i've been picking and choosing cds -- they take time to burn you know -- trying to be cold-blooded and rational (will i really listen to that South Park soundtrack i haven't even considered putting on for a good eight months?) and now trying not to wake adam although that's a lost cause.
well, siblings sacrifice for each other, right? or as ross says if you can't use people, what are they there for?

last nite ilana who came over bearing a box full of decorative/cute/emotional stuff via her and liz -- this is a tradition we have, making each other boxes at anxious times -- ended up accompanying my family to dinner. she took judah's place actually as he opted to stay home and create three calculator programs that will take his science test for him. we went to betawi grill, an indonesian restaurant in bethesda i'd only been to once before but i have great memories associated with rijstaffel (mmm amsterdam) and this did not disappoint. the feast lasted two hours and by the end we had to roll each other onto the street.
good stuff.

my flight takes off at 6:10 and as this is a german airline i expect it will be precisely ontime (that's a JOKE, people. altho i did make a sharp comment about volkswagon yesterday that i won't repeat here after my mother and i were nearly run over by a crazed cabrio. half of what i say could get me kicked out of swat; i guess it's a good thing i choose only selected people to confide in. like the world wide web! --sidenote: in the Forward last week my father came across an ad put out by Tikkun, the jewish leftist/progressive group, begging us all to live good charitable loving lives and for god's sake, and i swear this is a quote, "STOP GOYIM BASHING!" ... it was a truly sobering moment for all of us in the kitchen right then as we took stock of our own actions, considered changing our ways, and laughed so hard i'm sure our goyish neighbors heard and assumed we must be jeering at captive christian children we were about to make into matzah. but that aside.)
so we're leaving the house at 2:30 to get to the airport quite early. my friend jamie told me on her flight back from south africa she was strip-searched. is that practice nowadays or is it because she's part-syrian? i wonder.
hope it doesn't come to that with me. i'll be edgy enough. i've also taken the precaution of transferring anything possibly objectionable to my suitcases. all i have left i could use as a weapon in my carryon is a copy of satanic verses i could bash a richard reid over the head with. well, wish me luck.

Monday, January 21, 2002

all right, all right, no more maudlin crap. i slept badly last nite, despite having gotten a wonderful-sweet email from sorelle. i always said that i'd rather be dragged kicking and screaming from a place than willingly, gratefully board a plane. so. yes nori's entry brought up a little lump in my chest. i can deal. i'm glad i've enjoyed the place thoroughly, more or less, since i've been there. my problem is i live in the past. but. i'll be better. no moping, no wallowing. i will steel myself. i will be strong. strong!
i'll miss you swat. but this, dear reader, is the last you will hear of it. at least til i land in daneland.
-- who, incidentally, is schwa?

Sunday, January 20, 2002

well the damn golden globes were damned disappointing, altho i'm sure to many of you that doesn't come as much of a surprise. sure, the british accents kept us amused, and lana and i made excellent observations -- everything from, "what an awful dress!" to "why are all the black people at one table? it's like a college cafeteria" -- and once in a while the best option won (go, six feet under, go! and sissy spacek, elegant and composed enough to compensate for ten denise richards). even a little moment of questionable sexuality between ron howard and that other guy who called ron "my friend -- my best friend; my partner". all in all though what a lackluster night.

maybe it would have gone over better if i'd had more sleep, but after staying up til past 2 to talk to 'friend and watch GIrl, Interrupted with my mother, who, having never seen it before, squeezed my hand through the last ten minutes, i rose at 8:45 to go bid farewell to my darling smith-bound liz. i can't conceive of the fact that i'm leaving so soon. the barn in its new incarnation continues without me. rebecca has apparently painted my (her) room lipstick red, no doubt to match her newly copper hair. classes begin tomorrow. i still have one more grade to find out and i will not leave the country until i know.
i wish i were more cheerful about this whole thing.
oh the co|motioners are having their first reunion meeting tonite . . . oh. sad. well, hi guys -- hope you had great breaks -- hope you have great semesters -- keep me up to date.
there's so much i'm missing. there's so much i already miss.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

saw a portable dvd player at montgomery mall today and stared at it lustfully for a minute or two. i don't know what i'll do in daneland without movies. no tv, no vcr, no computer w/ dvd capability. i'm going to go into withdrawal. with luck my modern european film class will compensate. and i guess i can seek out a local theater to get friendly with.

today was all shopping, all day. but most successfully, third time being the charm i suppose. first stop was to return something to hechts. second stop was to the army/navy store where a slightly psycho man in fatigues and thinning hair led us through aisle after aisle pointing out rifle bags, medicine bags, even gas mask bags ("these are quite popular with the ladies. what grade are you in? college?") my mother and i shuddered and left.

third stop, montgomery mall, the yuppiest of yuppie hangouts. i went through all of nordstrom's bathrobes, ending up with the only XS thing they had, a long green and white plaid flannel number. it created the same effect that throwing a blanket over me would have. feeling that comfort outweighed attractiveness we bought it initially. it didn't fill the robe-shaped hole in my heart, though, as i told my mother, so after we bought kickass dansko boots we returned it. upstairs, the selection of bags was similarly depressing: coollooking and roomy, sure, and every one over $100. my mother was so desperate she nearly plunked down the cash but i dragged her into the rest of the mall.

we reacted at that point like a grim faced gymnast given one last chance to make it through her floor routine. in rapid succession we purchased: wool pants and wool sweater from j. crew (excellent with the boots); 2 duffel bags that collapse into something the size of a frisbee (one for me, one for adam); a black silk buttondown shirt from vicky's -- the polar opposite of the chunky, utilitarian robe --; pants for my brother; batteries; 2 diet cokes and a chocolate chip cookie; and a BAG a dark red roomy coollooking goddamned BAG i'm quite excited about (in case you couldn't tell).
by ten of seven, we were exhausted, dragging our feet, and satisfied.

quote of the day, from xandra: "The truth is, the day that nearly all of my musical interests match my shoes, that's the day I shoot my self in the foot." amen child. now i'm going to go collapse in a corner. being a woman and leaving the country is hard work.

Friday, January 18, 2002

under orders from one i can't refuse to post. my gums still hurt slightly from my quick transit from waiting room to dentist's chair, hygieneist (sp?) to dentist, sure i floss, no problem i'll floss more then out the door to spit in the ivy and wait to be picked up. funny how that trip is always the same, down to the lying about flossing. they expect that, don't they, and if they expect it how could it be unethical?
pre-that, went down w/ adam to get flu shots. i had betsey brown to keep me company but adam was antsy. the woman who received us was positively incredulous. "but it's flu season," she said, "everyone's gotten flu shots already or else the flu." yes well we're under orders from mother so no time for logic, thanks. she shrugs, says she'll defrost some posthaste, disappears. minutes pass. finally i get called up, pay my $15, return to the plastic chair with my book. more minutes. adam fidgets. getting late, have to go soon. he asks what's up. turns out the woman forgot to give me a sheet to give to the nurses. apologizing profusely offering a sheet now but it will then be another half an hour and no-can-do have to be up connecticut avenue already. we get our money back and sigh out.

so i didn't get stuck and i roughly made it on time to have my gums poked. found out the third of my grades, leaving just one holdout -- this is like pulling teeth, i just want to know already. thus far i'm happy-surprised. passed stat! yeah you bet. brother and father argued loudly about churchill in the car. the last time i was with them it was stalin. lots of mideast talk. meanwhile a news report about a palestinian gunman crashing a batmitzvah and shooting blindly knocks idealism out of me. they have a tape somehow: ohsofamiliar music interrupted by blasts, then screams. suddenly i'm as bitter as my family. i halfhope it passes, halfknow that even if it does nothing will change and no one, right wing or left, really has any hope.

meanwhile, a big meanwhile, darling elizabeth has granted me permission to link to her website, lazyqueer. she emailed me pointers on how to meet gayfolk in denmark which i need because i'm so accustomed to being surrounded that i'll go into withdrawal without them. jamie for dinner tonite, back from galavanting around south africa. also finished the book my aunt sent me, Happy all the Time. once i stopped resisting it i found it sweet and enjoyable. like Say Goodnite Gracie for grownups.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

so much little happened early today that i feared i should have nothing to form an entry of. luckily later events proved that groundless. rendez-voused in bethesda w/ johnny, who claims he's never missed an entry despite the fact that he never leaves a comment to mark his presence (got to take his word for it, i guess) and nomi [as always between jaunts to various regions -- most recently, n'orleans, the slopes, and now, tomorrow, montreal --] and of course lana. ofcourselana is my steadiest companion. the four of us, arrayed in various shades of red, dined at thyme square on gucci salads before drifting over to barnes' to thumb through ma-ga-zines and drink coffee.

much reminiscing as it natural for highskool circle rejoining; some gossiping; some speculating on the future. nomi gave a new answer to the How Many People sex question. why should the number matter, said she; the point is whether you're in love. i'd rather still be in love with the same person (and enjoying great sex with him) at 55 than sporadically enjoying same with different partners and eventually settling for someone i'll no longer be attracted to by the time i'm 45.
intelligent answer. nomi always was the rational one.

on the way home, still buzzing, inspiration struck in the form of my first concrete thought re: kobenhavn: maybe it'll change me. new cities tend to. they exert different influences and i'm an impressionable person. talking to the barnies later ross gave his blessing to that idea. "change everything about you," he cheered on, "except the good stuff."
ahh if only the distinction were that simple in my head. well anyway.
elizabeth has a website! but i can't tell you what it is unless she says i can. or at least comes up with five good reasons why she'll expire painfully and dramatically if i do. cross your fingers folks.
today has been surreal. first a trip to swarthmore with liz and lana. lunch at the overpriced but cute cheese court to which i'd never previously been; once i listened really hard, i could almost hear its fabled past occupants enjoying excitement through the ceiling. unpacked the flat, liz finally breaking in my beanbag chair by throwing it downstairs, catching visitors offguard: kim, back from china; anna, of the intimidatinglycoolfolk; and mariah, who i never got to say goodbye to at the end of last semester. everyone chorused, "i thought you were gone."
hopping through parrish, i encountered others, including a serene jackie and our friend Bob the Dean, who had the same reaction. missed the girls upstairs in my favorite room. said my last goodbyes, at least for a while.

checked out 'ford for lana, who's applying to transfer there. all agreed it's lovely. then faced a decision: stay and wait for the 'friend to return, or, knowing how intense rush hour traffic could be, head back for the mothertongue reading at 8:30? eventually, because we'd promised lana we'd make it, we headed out, though i clutched my cellphone forlornly, willing it to ring, until delaware.
the reading, atypically, was devoted to the memory of one of its organizers, heather davis, who died at the end of december. her entire community was devastated. for hour after hour, we watched as dykes, allies, and one brave male ascended the stage to read tributes to her, many of them moving, most of them funny. awesome, in that biblical sense of the word: we got a great idea of who this woman we'd never known was and what she meant to these folks; also just what community is.

capped off the long day by unloading at my house and lingering briefly in my kitchen where my father was translating a page of yiddish for my mother for her co-worker. the page was a xerox from a book the coworker had found in her house but couldn't understand. as it turned out, it described the coworker's grandmother's town in russia. apparently they grew potatoes there.
like i said, surreal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

to amend: rick painted my fingernails. i don't know what it said on the bottle but to me it looks like glittery asphalt. i keep staring at them. my nails haven't been painted since i was six and going through my girly tinkerbellproductsanddresses phase. that was back when everyone thought i was a boy (entering 2nd grade, day 1: "why are you wearing girl's socks?") my mom made me get my ears pierced at age eight in order to protect my ego but i developed a swift antipathy to earrings, kept losing them, and finally demanded to grow my hair long.
irony of ironies, as soon as i started to grow my hair, i no longer needed to, as other developing physical attributes made my gender painfully clear. an antipathy to being female supplanted my frustration at being mistaken for a boy. that lasted til middle skool and was thrown over in favor of a fixation on boys but at that point, and through most of high skool, i wasn't girly enough to succeed with them. i sought refuge in females, although those relationships were far from safe, especially when boys were involved.

growing up is a cruel process. funny how a glimpse of shimmery nail polish can take you right back there.
theoretically we're going museuming today. despite going to bed late after dyeing liz's hair (not too successfully), deciding not to dye rick's hair and leaving my hair alone -- although i will forever carry with me a bottle of Clairol Auburn -- we woke up before 11. still haven't gotten going exactly yet.
i guess we're still recooperating from Conversation yesterday. talktalktalk. while watching more SATC (we're all compulsive, not just me) we discussed possible futures:
[me: so what you're saying is, if you found one person who you loved and had great sex with, you'd be depressed to be with that person alone for your entire life?
alexandra: yes!]
on to Tryst where we second-hand smoked until we were all dizzy and drank til thoroughly caffeinated. back to rick's house to drop off his car and say hello to his brother, who had an ill-timed confession for liz that threw her for a loop. dealt with that. back to liz's. slept three to a bed during which time i dreamt about bags and thought rick was a cat.

lana's back -- went to the Seed with her yesterday. bought a possible bag, though it's ugly. not as ugly as some, i guess. rick's painting liz's nails. this is the shit i will miss in europe.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

well, following in the grand tradition of yesterday, we must have pawed through every store in georgetown, lifting and sniffing everything that looked remotely like something i could carry around. but each was either too big or too small, too mature-looking or too ridiculous, too plain or too ugly. a couple that fit other requirements had to be dismissed because they didn't have covers, which is the problem with my present bag.
finallyfinally we found one: saddle leather, so it's kinda cool looking, with enough but not too much space inside, a shoulder strap, and a covering flap. bought it, marched it proudly back to the car, only to discover that my notebook doesn't fit in it. i don't think we've entirely recovered from that, either of us. too much disappointment too suddenly after all that searching.

on the brighter side of things, we found a sweater/jacket from jcrew and two barrettes of a sort i've been coveting. my mom took them to the cash register while i was looking at gloves and the woman informed her they were $14 (each.) i exclaimed and she frowned. she flipped through the catalogue until she found a little hair scrunchie for $4 and scanned that in instead.
thank you, we said, amazed. satisfied and beneficent, she nodded back at us.
so tired. last nite stayed up til 4something and woke at 10something, then spent the day shopping fruitlessly for a robe and a bag. came away with a pair of ankle-high grey fuzzy slippers with little black bows and gloves-and-scarf combo my mom grabbed at the last minute to make the endeavor seem more productive. really what i want is a dressing gown, movie-star-style and a kickass, distinctive bag. it's rooted in my realization that i don't have style. if you saw me on the street, nothing would induce you to come introduce yourself. if i approached you, you might be willing to engage in conversation, but then again you might not be. you might look me up and down, find no unnatural colors or holes; no metal; no hemp; no patches, and you might decide that frankly i was just a person like all other people and why waste your time.

liz appeared tonite and in exchange for me convincing her not to return to skool tomorrow, she kept me from getting depressive. i had watched house of mirth with my mother and found it far from mirth-ful. in fact, it would have been distinctly sad if i had cared about any of the characters. last nite liz jay and i watched the much more cheerful Sex and the City -- four episodes from season two -- followed by broken hearts club which was fluffy and cute.
more shopping tomorrow, i can only hope more successfully. for someone with no style, i sure am picky.

Friday, January 11, 2002

busyness, rushing from one thing to another, nothing dire. woke up around 7:30 chuckling about some dreamthing and froze at the sight of my door standing open. the light from the hallway accosted my eyes but for more reason than that i couldn't return to sleep: i had closed the door. i remembered closing it. only one solution popped into my head. there was someone in my room. he had come in quietly, leaving the door ajar by accident, and was lying down at the foot of my bed waiting for me to walk over to where he was.

someone's been reading too much fantasy-war shit. *shaking head* although, to be fair, i've been this nuts for as long as i can remember. while my brother laughed, i used to have my father put a spell on my closet to keep evil from bursting through. even then i learned to sleep on my back rather than turn either to face it or the window through which evil men could crawl.
combination of too much worry and too much imagination -- a terrible thing.
today i ran errands, got a library card (hadn't had one in about ten years; it's not a great library), borrowed LOTR III and hobbit for my brother, developed pictures and got passport size ones for copenhagen. rented movies, 5 for $5, including a Sex and the City tape we'll watch tonite at liz's in honor of her turning 20. happy birthday, darling, incidentally.
i'll bet she's straight and hardworkingelizabeth, darling, this is for you; i wish i had a page like this for me. ohh hilarity. look how cute you are! wuzzawuzzawuzza

forewent the ER party this evening to chill with my mother and tea and a phone call from the north. and hey, guess what folks? i passed 10,000 visits. granted, 4,000 are from ilana, 3,000 are from ben, 1,000 are from ross, 1,000 are from becca, and 500 are from me compulsively checking for comments. but that still leaves an honesttogod 500 people who have visited my site since its inception in june. ... thank you all. i'm choking up; it's too much. it's too much. *waves a hankerchief, backs out*

Thursday, January 10, 2002

talktalktalk starting early this morning (til 4 a.m.) w/ lana about the evening we'd spent w/ liz and jay at liz's house, watching gentlemen prefer blondes. then today she and i zoomed off in an effort to relive the summer, hopping from store to store buying cheese and pens with which to assemble the world's greatest bday present for miss liz (viz., a basket full of cheese and pens.) then we hopped over to her house where we found her away, though her lovely little sister xandra was there to let us in.
not to be dissuaded, we capitalized on liz's absence by decorating the basket further, placing it on her pillow, and decking the house, particularly the stairway up to her room, with cute signs pointing the way. theme, in lana's words: "a birthday is fun!"

quite clever. also we chilled in b&n, reading for about an hour. i've decided i won't buy LOTR III, i'll just go round to various places reading parts of it til i'm done. i still need to drop off film, apply for jobs, work out the summer and such. i made myself a little list this morning. felt industrious and organized. also read the secret journals and chuckled.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

my legs started hurting on the train and i couldn't figure out why. i fidgeted but couldn't work it down out past my knees; tried to forget it, burying myself in two towers (gandalf's so much more like merlin in the second book! ohh it will make such a good film); walked through five cars. no use. finally i realized what it came from, and once i did, it receded some. now it's barely perceptible, back home at last. safe in my room, white as a shoebox, dotted on all walls with smiling faces of people i know and have known, listening to bjork and beth, i have no hint yet of what missing ben will feel like when it hits full force and higher up. meanwhile, dinner mit mi madre, lanaliz time perhaps? -- i dreamt my friends were all angry with me, going to some great warm place and leaving me behind. hopefully i will find that untrue.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

don't have much time right now -- i'm sitting in ben's father's office in Beth Israel hospital in nyc waiting for the good doctor to finish up so we can go for dinner. last nite we finally made it back to chappaqua, barely visible under the snow; i can only imagine the thick, total whiteness that once was buffalo. the greyhound trip was more pleasant than the train. one dippy disney movie and ben tried unsuccesfully to use various parts of me as a pillow and one stop at mcdonald's and there we were, dropped off in the midst of the world's most selfimportant city, all the more bustling because the air was swirling madly with fat wet flakes. we trudged thru that, unable to contact either of ben's parents, making it to a tech store run by haredi jews where ben bought, to his delight, an ultracool ultraexpensive scanner he'd been eyeing and owed for months.

ultimately ben's stepmother agreed to pick us up at the station and on the way back to the house we snatched snatch. we watched it after a dinner during which the three of them fussed over atmosphere and i still found it clever. today we came into the city to wander around -- still cold, but at least dry and indulgently sunny. walked thirty blocks then stopped to read in the old armory, each of us having come equipped with an apple and a fantasy book. then statues in central park which look menacing up close.
home tomorrow. my parents 25th wedding anniversary. and the countdown will begin.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

after another late start, becca took ben and me to the garment district. multiple floors of everything from records you've never heard of to housewares you can't use, from colorful vintage clothes to raggedy dollar-a-pound stuff. i waded ankle-deep into the latter and fished out a soft black sweater that fit nicely. couldn't find anything in the books, movies, or video collection but upstairs nabbed another red sweater and lamented that a pair of sturdy, lightblue shoes, of which i was quite enamored, pinched my toes. becca and ben both fared better than i did. we finally pulled ourselves away to meet becca's mom for a vietnamese dinner. (in the streets we saw of chinatown, the only businesses were food and porn, with the latter outnumbering the former by about three to one. i marveled that anything could exist with such competition.)
then to the theater for shaw's heartbreak house. i found it hard to disentangle my issues with the play from my issues with the production. i have unresolved issues with the theater as well. i love films to take all possible advantage of the fact that they're films but i dislike theater that's theatrical. what's the logic of that?

they're discussing the connection between religion and neurosis in the other room. my energy level might be too low for me to join them. ben and i are bussing it out of here at 10 tomorrow morning. i've never traveled greyhound before.
this morning, becca told my fortune and came up with a rather different life for me than did pennbecca this summer. according to swatbecca, i will be married and with one kid, a son, before i'm thirty; stay mostly on the east coast and go through various writing gigs; grad skool at columbia; etc. it wouldn't surprise me really if that's how things ended up, cleanly, conventionally, the way i half-hope for and half-expect. on the other hand, something about the rendition upset something small and internal in me. exitement! high drama! tragedy! success! surprise! where are the exclamation points in the life she laid out for me?
this year, the year swatbecca has known me, hasn't been full of exclamation points. i don't know what that portends for my future in general, if anything. maybe i am just a less dramatic, neurotic person than i used to be. or maybe that part of me is just in a lull right now and exists as much as it ever did. who knows?

Saturday, January 05, 2002

boston, i've heard, is the same climate as copenhagen so i guess this is good preparation. some nice walking today, all of us in different bright-bold colored hats: becca red, ben purple (an adapted neckwarmer), me green. it took us a while to get going. before we left this morning we had to discuss veganism in depth with becca's mother and think much about what we were going to do and when. ultimately we decided we would wander around harvard square -- once cool, now yuppie, like so many places -- see gosford park, dine, and meet rabi in a coffee shop in davis square. that all went as planned. first we sat on the floor with books in Wordsworth, which is one of my favorite things to do. i read through the first forty pages of dave egger's Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. i've been meaning to do that for ages. i didn't buy it -- i couldn't -- i brought five or six books with me and have been eyeing all of becca's in addition -- but i enjoyed it.

the film lived up to expectations. it's witty and graceful although it involves too many characters to keep straight and has too many guns on the wall. quite admirable that altman pulled it off. certainly great performances all around. for some reason it drained my companions and it wasn't until after dinner at the do-gooding Veggie Planet that they regained good spirits. rabi's presence at the Someday Cafe thereafter also helped. new blood, you know.

i think i'm finally ready to make my top ten list. bearing in mind i've yet to see mulholland drive, in the bedroom or waking life, i hereby submit, in no particular order:
gosford park; amelie; bread and tulips; hedwig and the angry inch; lord of the rings; the royal tenenbaums; the man who wasn't there; memento; in the mood for love; and, my favorite, princess and the warrior.
i'm sure all of you are thrilled. anyway if i've forgotten something let me know.

Friday, January 04, 2002

in the computer lab at commonwealth, becca's high skool. she's elsewhere enjoying her reunion. i'll probably catch up w/ her but after several hours of being in the company of strangers, albeit nice ones, on three hours of sleep (9 a.m. to noon) when i saw a computer i dove for it.

yesterday ben and i made the spontaneous/impulsive decision to train it up to boston where (swat)becca lives. the cheapest fares were either last nite or tomorrow and we decided to just go. my father took some convincing -- look, danny!, i mentioned my family, and look! danny, i've mentioned you! -- (danny, my brother's friend, who read thru this entire site one day while bored at work) -- and in his distraction at my going he lost two credit cards. undeterred, ben and i said our goodbyes, packed, and made it to a 9:25 train assuming we could sleep between then and 6:35 a.m., when it was to arrive in boston. i should have made like ben and downed some nyquil in preparation but i did not and so only snatched little now and thens of sleep. for the most part, i sat and swayed with the train, feeling too braindead to pick up one of the five books i brought with me for that very occasion, my cd player, or my notebook. consequently, i made it a few key hours this morning -- enough to get in to the station and make it to becca's house, and even exchange pleasantries with her mother -- before collapsing in her bed.

since, she's taken ben and me on a brief introductory tour of cambridge and boston; we've met up with her friends, drunk tea, sat in a hotel, and our now supposed to be partying. i'm too frayed and muddled still to be witty or attractive or engaging so i don't feel like exposing myself to people. at the risk of being seen as becca's antisocial friend from swarthmore (when will i stop caring what other people think, i wonder) i'm going to find a nice corner to curl up in and read.
i miss my friends a little, which is silly considering i was just with them [you] for a week. seeing other people reuniting in a high skool setting inevitably brings back memories. i drifted at some point slightly from some of the people who helped bear me through that ordeal. how? why? is it better this way? is there anything i can do? is it worth even thinking about?

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

my fingers are still cold from spending the day outside. well, the day post-- a second showing of rings which ben hadn't seen. he suggested we hop to over breakfast at 11:40; we found that it was playing at the Uptown, a classic old movie theater, at 12; so off we went, making it with only minutes to spare. i called it impulsive but that got euphemismed "spontaneous". why 'impulsive' is more insulting i don't know.
at any rate, he enjoyed it and even a second time through, i didn't find it overlong and the photography was, if anything, more beautiful. i very much admire a director who can go virtually the entire movie without lingering on a horizontal axis. i guess keeping the camera moving is one trick to keep the film moving too.

we picked up cheap, excellent pizza at Vace's, an italian deli were my mom buys dough, and tracing the path lana jay and i trod countless times over the summer we walked down to dupont circle. i narrated as we went:
... the zoo where i spent the summer when i was sixteen, volunteering in the greenhouse with a little person engaged to another little person (he would pick her up in a red car specially made to accomodate him); a harmless, mentally ill man from a rich family who'd been working there for years; an elderly lady for who liked working with the flowers; and toni, my skinny, chain-smoking boss who got a wandering eye from a car accident that landed her in a coma for six weeks after her husband of twelve years informed her he'd been sleeping with their mutual best friend for a year. she was only slightly bitter; they continued to live together after the divorce. she told great stories. i rode in the back of a pickup truck for the first time that summer and if you go to the small mammal house or the elephant house, you will see trees in the planters that i installed myself.
... the chinese embassy where i arrived after a march in paper chains from the white house with jay, winter, tenth grade. i'd been wondering how to get his attention and settled on this route, which ended with me standing, up to my shins in snow shouting "Free Tibet!" at the brick walls
... calvert street, where i worked last summer at wifp and got heckled frequently for having the audacity to walk to the corner
and so on. we stopped at Second Story which was having a 20% off sale. he picked up blues records; i found a copy of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and a book by ntozake shange, the author of for colored girls.... then we metroed to friendship heights for more book shopping so he could make good use of a $50 gift certificate to an evil corporate conglomerate. now home. it was a red-cheeked loose-hair day. i liked it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

happy new year. 2002 huh. hey, a palindrome! that's nice. i can't really imagine a year topping last year for me. for the country, yeah, quite possible; for the world, certainly. but i had a great year last year. i'm kinda sorry (and i know i'm probably the only one) to see it go.
watched the ball drop with very little ceremony at lana's house. liz jay ben and i arrived together at 7 and found the house laid out nicely in preparation for smore-making, sushimaking, snacking, trivia-sign-making (a laone of our barn parties: we had everyone write a little known fact about themselves and post it up on the wall) and general revelry. the first three/four hours were excellent: a few more people came, good moods all around, laughing, talking. ben nursed a fire. we lit a thousand or so candles around the place. much fun. then people i didn't really know came and some people left and there were a few low spots. we watched eddie izzard's glorious which is funny but not as good as his HBO special. then it was 5 a.m.
we'd planned a game: a throwback to post-highskool bonding in which everyone takes turns typing up their answers to some questions (like, What do you want to be when you grow up? and Who would play you in the movie of your life?), then prints out their answers and puts them in a bowl. then the bowl is passed around a circle and each person fishes out an answer, reads it aloud, and the group tries to match the answer with the person who supplied it. it went allright except that people kept coming and going during it so some of the people to whom answers were attributed weren't there to confirm or deny.

the past couple days have been fun in general though. mostly we've just chilled. ben's been immersing himself in Harry Potter III. ... it was a good year. i can't believe i'm spending the first half of the next one in copenhagen.