Sunday, March 31, 2002

i can't tell whether copenhagen is actually giddy or whether it's just me giddy to be back. it's a glorious 15 degrees here and on my way home i kept looking up at apartmenters reclining on balconies and over at kids playing soccer. i rode the bus back with kris on the top decker with our feet on the railing feeling quite regal and accomplished indeed. what a break it's been; what hopping i've done.

friday nite we went to see the bolshoi's production of swan lake. i figgered it was most likely the best ballet production occurring that moment anywhere in the world, altho i have to admit it wouldn't pass the ms. test. do all ballets and operas end with dead women and mourning men, or the just the last three i've seen? doesn't that get old? gorgeous production anyway, very much quieted my doubts about the art form.
unfortunately, unlike friday, saturday felt like rather a waste to me. another guided tour of another picture gallery in the morning wherein we nearly o.d.ed on icons -- the jesus story doesn't pass the ms. test either --, a trip to another tourist trap in the afternoon. kris and i had wanted to go to the revolution museum, but we decided to try, along with a swarm of others, the open market we'd heard so much about. discouraging as it turned out: the same old junk, nesting dolls lined up like dominos, fake-fur hats, t-shirts. i'd developed this desire to carry around an old-fashioned cigarette case. couldn't find even one of those.

dinner was more successful. we found a hole-in-the-wall that led to wonderland, complete with pesach-friendly food options, live music, and cheap drinks. jess kris and i hung around for hours partaking thereof. then we met other DISers at another bar. whether because i was out of money at that point or just because i wasn't inspired by the fake-spanish music and skankilydressed 30-somethings dancing as though john the baptist's head depended on it, i got bored and left around 12:30. until 2, i ate matza and watched CNN's actually decent coverage (both sides presented!) of the mideast developments. woke up and watched more, packed, planed.

it's been so long since i've been able to sit at a computer without rushing. i have so many emails to write; i have two letters -- one from lananomijamie, one from darling liz -- to read; i have to shoutout HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY to pennbecca; i have to call andrea to congratulate her on her various french exploits; and i have to figure out how i'm going to feed myself for the next four days. thanks for the lovely thoughts, by the way, throughout the week. they made me grin even if i didn't have time to respond straight away.

Friday, March 29, 2002

moscow: arrived on a night train from st. pete's, virtually fresh as daisies. unfortunately we withered fast under the formidable glare of the city. by afternoon, i was determined to get out of my soggyair/overdose of DISers/homesickness/arab summit induced funk, which meant that i had to find a real seder. creative alternatives not an alternative. mel and i met in the lobby, wrangled for an hour with the harried, incompetant hotel folk (you can't really blame them: our hotel boasts 6,000 beds and is a perfect example of why huge bloated bureaucratic structures are, um, bad) and got a taxi complete w/ driver who knew the way. only visually of course; he couldn't just direct us. no problem. as soon as we arrived and i crossed the threshold of the shul, i felt the pollution slide off of my aura. jews! russian jews, sure, so like real russians they look guarded if not unhappy. but unlike real russians, i could communicate with them (!!) using a funny overexcited mix of hebrew and yiddish. managed to figure out there would be a seder in two hours and to acquire tickets.

mel and i killed time in an elegant cafe where we thoroughly confused the waitstaff by refusing free bread and ordering french fries, chocolate, and tea. we caught the tail end of services back at the synagogue. i cried. i'm so damned sentimental. something about the beauty of the building and reciting the same prayers i could hear anywhere with a sizeable number of people, who just looked familiar somehow (i was like, hey! i have your body!) got to me. i think we made the community nervous. they invited us to the seder for free, sat us at one of the two women's tables, smiling at us occasionally and otherwise left us alone. one old man attempting to chat with us communicated only that "russia is bad for jews." that we'd kinda figured. the seder was fascinating and the longest i've ever sat through. the rabbi leading it did not skip words, and more often he elaborated on them with long speeches in russian. we hung in there, regardless, and afterwards a nice man walked us back to our hotel.

this morning a blue sky greeted us, as though to say just kidding about yesterday, and we trekked through the kremlin underneath it. first a wait in line, then a cross under the gate of a metal detector where guards snapped at boys carrying bags, and we were there, in the fortress, the Kremlin, baby -- only now it's a musuem. of dresses. the name that struck fear into every american thirty years ago presently is a showcase for tsars' apparel and their ornate excesses. once they sparked the revolution; now our guides seem indulgent, if not proud.
there's no mention of recent history (the past 100 years) anywhere. a couple statues of lenin. a handful of hammer and sickle insignias on the roofs of buildings. busts of stalin or his face on little dolls on vendors' carts as they hawk history to tourists as kitsch. but no more. is is too recent maybe for them to distance themselves enough to memorialize? it's just bizarre not to see any evidence of their rather unorthdox road to democracy.

lovely lunch today and long walk. despite persistently scowling/barking russians and the memory of the fact that yesterday policemen stopped batches of DIS boys and had to be paid off, i'm feeling friendlier to the city. it's beautiful in spots and certainly in a complicated, unique way. i'd love to come back in ten years, see what's changed.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

for the first time in my life, i led a seder this evening. back at the hotel, after a long day's wandering with jess and krissy to the grand synagogue (this after walking through catharine the great's summer palace in pushkin). i bought a box of matza at the shul, exchanging a few words of hebrew with one man and yiddish with another, and determined that it didn't make sense to try to attend the seder tonite. we have to catch a train to moscow this evening; there simply wouldn't be time. disappointment carried me, and my box of matza, back in the street, which was at least blessed with quiet sunlit air. guideless and in a strange nontouristy area, werealized we were in russia -- russia -- for real. we made our way to a metro stop, wrangled the system until we finally made it work, and arrived back at the hotel around 5:45.

i've never been in this kind of situation before. i had no idea what customs to obey and in most cases how. but looking at the hotel buffet, i realized i could pull off some of the parts of the seder. i helped myself to a hard boiled egg and some gefilte-like fish. as krissy started asking me questions and showing interest, i invited her in and got more ambitious: garnish that looked like parsley served as green vegetable; cranberry vodka, free at the door, could be wine for the ten plagues. i told her the stories behind the objects which is a commandment in and of itself, only i'd never explained why these actions were traditional to someone who didn't know before. by the end, i was buoyant.
happy pesach everyone. four more days of this holiday in this country. hope i can do it; but at the moment, i'm optomistic.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

i don't know what's wrong with me -- i half feel like i have mono. everywhere i go, i get tired. anne made fun of me in budapest because whenever i had a drink i started to droop. even the other nite at the spanish bar, sipping the strongest and smallest white russian i've ever had, my eyes kept slipping shut. maybe it's just that i've been ononon: first midterms with ben here; then two nites on andrea's floor playing tour guide; then budapest; then immediately st. petersburg. i think i'm approaching saturation, which isn't good considering i have still have russia to go. it's been much seeing new things, and maybe what's more exhausting, talking to new people. that's why parties at the barn tended to put me to sleep. social interaction knocks me out. at least recently.

i'm at a computer in the hermitage right now, as huge gorgeous and ornate as we'd been led to expect. the exterior is one of the most beautiful buildings in st. petersburg, catharine the great's winter palace. i can't help but wonder, as i appreciate, that's it's odd that the country, or at least our guide, seems so proud of these romanoff relics. one room alone had twenty-four chandeliers. isn't that representative of the excesses that sparked the revolution in the first place? people are still starving: couldn't you pawn a table of lapus lazuli or two and finance some public works programs? why didn't the revolutionaries do that, anyway, when they had socialism on the brain?

last nite we saw our first ballet. since i'm unfamiliar with ballet, i don't know if my issues with it were related more to the performance (an uninspired Esmerelda) or the dance itself. there isn't much room for personal interpretation or thought: since the communication and storytelling is all nonverbal, it's exaggerated, symbolic, archetypal. you think, watching it, essentially the same things everyone thinks. sure, it's pretty, but there isn't much else to it, i feel, unless you have a deep knowledge of ballet and can understand what hard work it is keeping on your toes like that.

passover starts tomorrow. i apologize. i think that's the root of my sudden onset of malaise. i don't like being away from home on passover. worse, i spend the first night on a train. we're going to try to find a seder but there are no guarantees. ah well. someone eat some macaroons for me, wouldja? (hey ben, remember, a year ago i was pulling my hair out in fear and stress cuz you were about to meet my family? memories.)

Monday, March 25, 2002

st. petersburg is, at last count, ten times more attractive than budapest. it helps that today is lovely: blue as an eye, cold as a banker's heart, as my father would say. my father would love this city; i can't imagine why he was so reluctant for me to go. i bought a cute little russian propaganda poster in st. peter and paul's cathedral. the vendor translated half of it for me and i said, I'll take it. something about reading. who knows? it's cool.
anyway, i lucked out once again. on the plane, i was seated precisely next to the person i would have wanted to be seated next to if i'd been the kind of person who wanted things. krissy's in my film class and, oh lordy what a coincidence, good friends with anne. so she and i chatted and laughed and decided to room together, and we've been hanging out since.
yesterday evening a group of us left the hotel moscow to see where our feet took us. that, as it turned out, was down amazingly clean streets into the heart of the commercial district, and more precisely into a spanish style bar/restaurant. two american men behind us were bein' boisterous, carrying on to the indifference of their paid company, two silent russian women. all of a sudden two pitchers of sangria appeared on our table, courtesy of the men, both capitalists in their forties and by that point plastered. we put the free drinks to good use, launching into a marathon game of I Never. a third pitcher supported the first two; undaunted, we polished that off as well. the men requested little in return. in denmark, such a gesture would mean that we'd all have to sleep with him, but i guess luckily they were preoccupied.

despite going in without knowing anyone really, i've been having a good time. the russian princess and i get along better when we don't talk politics. food will be a problem come pesach -- i subsist on breadstuffs as the alternatives mostly consist of meat. but i'll cross that bridge yaddayaddda. meanwhile lots of bus tours, walking tours, taking pictures of gorgeous pastel palaces and onion-domed cathedrals, lots of lectures on peter the great. tonite our first ballet; we see another, Swan Lake in fact, in moscow. i haven't seen a ballet in years. and then they allow us a whopping two and a half hours in the Hermitage, a museum so huge it would take months to see it all.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

additionally: (sorry for the extra posting. of course you could consider before you sigh that it may be a while before i find another computer, seeing as i'll be in the cold, fleshy arms of mother russia)
another of the loveless girls has fallen. i can feel her beaming through the monitor. powerful stuff, springtime. i wish i were at swat to see its effect on the bunnies, though watching my blossoming beauty here works too. i went and hung out with her this afternoon to gab about our respective times apart. then i rode the train back into town with her and her new, earnest beau, AC. we parted ways: they headed to the planitarium, i to the dfi to catch An Ideal Husband. a continuation of my british theme, perhaps, although i didn't think of that in advance. beautifully acted, entirely what you expect. three fabulous women leads, and it's especially fun to watch rupert everett play a straight man. he brings new meaning to that phrase. and why doesn't anyone ever talk about how good jeremy northam is? ahh fluff.

kind of scared for russia, to tell you the truth. what could match first the week with ben and then this past week? having so many variables makes me nervous. not to mention (might as well be petty, eh?) that i'm really tired of consistently cloudy weather. it was 18 degrees for five minutes in budapest and i heard the door slam as my resistance to winter grabbed its hat and skid out the door. i want flowers and sunshine. i want dancing girls in white lace frocks. i want lazy indolent bantering -- oh dear. i think i want to be in an wilde film adaptation myself. this always happens to me. guess i'll have to go to russia for the distraction or i'll be dreaming in charm and easy conversation for weeks. wish me luck, everyone.
a few hours ago i was in hungary. tomorrow i'll be in russia. isn't it crazy? i got up at 4:30 this morning to catch a shuttle to the airport, leaving anne adorably fuzzy-headed and squinty in our bedspread-clashes-with-the-sheets-clashes-with-the bed. my mouth still tasted of the wine we drank last nite as we entertained and were cooked for by the brits, two bens we picked up the previous day almost right after i posted. all four of us were searching for the labryniths fabled to be beneath the castle. once down there discovered the maze, though old, is an enormous joke. "fossil finds" start appearing, roped off and with descriptive signs, about half-way through, of "homo consumerus": cell-phones, computers, an ATM, a huge coke bottle. and we assumed the hungarians didn't have a sense of humor just because they never smile.

the price of admission supposedly included tea so while we waited for it we got to know each other. the benz are old college pals from [around] london with very dry senses of humor and little in the way of plans. they'd spent the morning looking for the sewage museum, rewarded for their trouble only with sour looks. they willingly tagged along with us as anne and i had outlined activities. (how lucky was i to happen into a vacation with a cities major? the girl could na-va-gate. hooyeah.)
after an hour of waiting for tea, one of the benz went to inquire after it. he returned bearing mugs, grinning, repeating what the man behind the counter had said, in a classic example of hospitality, e. european style: "is museum, not cafeteria. get yourself."
we proceeded to a communist-themed pizza place called Marxism -- barbedwire fences separated tables; graffiti covered walls. then out into the city, without much luck, to find a bar. we ended up at a coffeeshop where a man played old american songs on a piano hidden beneath a blanket.
the next morning, anne and i wandered through the pedestrian [read: tourist] area, realizing the paradox of everything cheap, nothing desirable. we reconvened with the brits outside St. Stephan's basilica, paid the requisite entry fee plus extra 150 ft. to illuminate St. Stephan's mummified hand. the brits washed that down with street-vendor sausages, and washed the sausages down, more successfully, with sushi.

the weather, which had cheered up, wooing veritable throngs of hungarians, whose scowls relaxed for the occasion, into the streets, steadily declined again and the natives disappeared. we watched a folkdance and wandered over to the produce market to make use of the kitchen which buttkiss, our landlady, had insisted we needed. armed with two bottles of wine for the three of us who drank, vegetables, bread, cheese, and eggs, we returned to our lovely quarters, made dinner, got tipsy, exchanged info and said goodbyes. anne and i, once alone, talked more, read each other's fortunes with Gypsy cards she'd picked up at a cluttered drugstore, and slept.

it was an altogether enjoyable time, despite mediocre food, no nightlife, and a crazy landlady (she burst in while we ate dinner, suspiciously eyeing our male guests and trying to browbeat anne into changing rooms for the extra night she's staying even though she'd already paid for ours.) the charmingly-accented benz, though a good deal older than we, treated us like contemporaries. they complimented me on my sarcasm as well as my anti-social button, though in a gesture reminiscent of my one true ben, reminded me in a dead-pan voice that irony is a low form of humor. we spent a lot of time trading dirty jokes and learning each others' slang.
anne and i lucked out: going from never having spoken to spending 36 hours straight together could have been horrific. instead our approaches, tastes, reactions, and moods overlapped brilliantly. the turkish baths, an authetic 500-year old structure filled with pools of various temperatures filled in turn with women of various ages over 60, totally naked and doing stretches, made for an unequaled bonding experience.
i don't know when i'll next hit up eastern europe but i doubt i'll have more fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

moving as quickly as possible -- anne and i found a cute very american coffeetype shop w/ a computer. not too american: lattes are $1.20. everything's like that in budapest: cheap; most things are also, we've discovered, bland. our landlady is the exception. the guidebooks advertise her as charming. that doesn't begin. the accomodations are something else. our room, a white highceilinged room with a melange of awful furniture with a whopping 14 different floral patterns, is at least in the center of town, more or less. we're coming from a turkish bath experience and moving towards, along the blue danube, the castle with its vast underground maze. the parliament is gorgeous; especially interesting juxtaposed with the run-down post-communist buildings that compose much of the city. here and there other structures, churches and synagogues, take your breath away but largely this is closer to warsaw than prague.
all the same, we're having a great time. i'll write more when i have the chance. (this is like a postcard!) oh, and it's so bizarre to be in a place where literally almost no one speaks english. but we're adjusting, slowly, slowly.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

yet another movie to add to my grudging admiration list: a beautiful mind. caitlin, andrea and i lunched at the good croissant'en (gucci sandwich shop) and made our way -- via DIS to check for my dawdling package and buy beverages, and Tiger, the funky dollar-store equivalent -- to Palads, the circus-colored multi-screen movie theater. we hemmed and hawed over our options and settled, although the selection made no one particularly happy. i'd been rather against the movie since adam returned from the theater spitting and cursing. he hadn't been that riled up since Planet of the Apes.
each of us put our respective baggage behind us and decided if this is the film that's going to sweep oscars, we may as well see it. we emerged as surprised as we'd been initially lukewarm. we agreed on the following: (a) it shortshrifts the woman. what about her life/painting/math ability/career/happiness? she stood behind her man. admirable. surely she deserved a little more indepth examination than the movie afforded her; she could have been more of a person and less of a Wife. and the film fails the ms. test right off the bat as it only has one female character. Apollo 13, if you recall, had the same flaws.
(b) the ending is silly. we all agreed that living functionally with schizophrenia should have been the ultimate original achievement he has looking for. if he managed to be a good father and husband and teacher and member of society with that plague, that's more impressive than a Nobel.
on the other hand, crowe's performance is as excellent as everyone says it is. there's no way around it (sorry adam): it's a quality movie.
oh mercy. the lp has left us. by "us" i mean andrea, caitlin (friend #2) and me -- i spent the night here again, bobbing along happily in de-nial. thus far it's been successful: yesterday we went wandrin into the city. they had intended to go see Kunst pre-airport. that didn't happen. we dished out cash for disappointments of various flavors and split ways.
we met up again at my dorm, an hour after the prescribed time because they lost themselves on three different busses. i had whiled away the time quite content in the computer lab, debating whether to do this, emailing, chatting with charming miss lana about rosie.

i fed them dairy-free chocolate via ben, which gave me the opportunity to survey the new, varied crowd: frazzled/glowing andrea, and friends 1 and 2, as much opposites as the rp and i are. then we were off. as requested, i led them on a brief tour through colorful sketchy nitetime christiania to my favorite restaurant there, tucked away in the back, an organic veggie place (dirt grown food dirt cheap!).
they invited me to come see election w/ them and a.c., who promised to join. i gave in to the allure of spending one more night on andrea's floor, thoroughly enjoying reese witherspoon, and continuing to talk film with caitlin (a major therein at yale). a.c. and andrea had an awkward-precious new-lovers moment when we tactfully left them alone outside that made andrea both frazzle and glow more violently.
and tomorrow to budapest for my own foray into new and different territory. but first, pastry.

Monday, March 18, 2002

the girls iz showering. i'm so lowmaintainance compared to most people i know (read: lazy.) i slept over here at andrea's last nite, as i'm prone to do; friend #1 sara is still here and friend #2 caitlin arrives in a matter of hours. i knew long before i went that i didn't want to go back home post- belle and sebastian -- it was hard enuf being in the apartment alone in the rational light of day. andrea acquiesced ("of course! *hugs* " etc.) getting to vega turned out to be quite an endeavor. it required about an hour and a half of much cold standing around and more walking, which my tired feet in my thin holy socks could little endure. i didn't need to repeat the experience on the flip side, especially since getting to andrea's from there was ea-sy

the concert was well worth it. i'd never attended one by myself before, certainly not one in a foreign country. danes my age!, and all cooler than me, tightly-packed smoking, drinking indie twentysomethings cross-legged on the floor chatting in a room that looked and smelled straight out of 1972. at some unspoken signal, the crowd rose, and remained standing through an opening performance of eugene somebody from glascow ("anyone heard of glascow?") a good thirty minutes of impatient shifting waiting and finally an even better 90 minutes of 8 deadpan dorks with instruments and microphones. no kidding: these guys were so obviously, consciously, confidently dorks that swat should give them honorary degrees. thrillingly, they played through my napster songlist, only scattering a few unknown tunes and one new one, which i liked. the secondary main singer reminded me of joel sometimes, sometimes of cameron from Ferris Bueller. the other one, cute and ironic, i really wanted to be my friend. unfortunately they skipped Seeing Other People, ross's theme song. but they did Judy and the Dream of Horses and The Wrong Girl. they clearly enjoyed themselves too. oh i love performers.

must dress now, the girlz are done prepping and primping and i'm still in [andrea's] pajamas. concert then and girl company now provided much comfort: and got me to stop wallowing in sentiment, waa-waa-waaing to folksongs under my comforter.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

after crying periodically through a terrific collection of art exhibits at the national art museum, and an overpriced cheese sandwich in a dimly lit bar/cafe, the only one open in a three block radius, where men in a corner debated my nationality, i decided to take my weariness home and stop inflicting it on norrebro. a woman with tangled brown hair joined me in my triangle of sunlight by the busstop, smiling. that's not too common here: ben, noting that pedestrian expressions range from dour to stern, said i should give smiling lessons. this rare woman (she's only visiting copenhagen, perhaps that explains it) and i began talking and took our conversation on the bus with us. i asked her impulsively if she knows where vega is.
she in turn asked the younger, freckled woman sitting next to her and the two of them began to debate in danish. a man across the aisle joined in. at last the younger woman told me she had it; i handed her paper and pen, she made good use of the two, i tusind taked all around and i deboarded at my stop, revived. sun seemed to applaud my effort by making an effort of its own to force through the clouds.

ben left this morning, no last-minute serendipity spitting him back out this time once security gobbled him up. we took full advantage of the unexpected day yesterday. i cashed in the 23 bottles of coca-cola light bottles i'd hoarded for around 60 kroner, the equivalent of $7. we found, en route to the royal library, the lamppost where jamie took the now famous picture of me hugging copenhagen, so ben flagged down a passing brit who consented to take a picture of both of us, arm in arm with the old friend. we discovered to our delight upon entering the royal library that it leads to the black diamond; then to our disappointment that contrary to the info in the cop. post, the exhibit ben was interested in had closed in january. the bookstore soothed us. ben bought the poster i'd long and he impulsively admired of karen blixen.

we dined on kartoffels and decided to try our luck with jesus_c_odd_size, an experimental theater/ modern art piece/ 3-d meditation on christianity. the various characters walked around the church, some in period garb (mary, ephemeral in two layers of red and orange; the disciples in long free hair and socks) interacting with their mobile audience. raised a number of interesting issues re: the fourth wall -- what defines an actor if not a stage?
some of the installations were striking, like golgotha, where three individuals were suspended semi-conscious in transparent vaccuum-sealed sheets. others challenged and directly involved participants, like the corner where a benificent woman washed and annointed feet. i watched numerous folks go in laughing or nervous and come out humbly quiet. similarly compelling, judas appeared in a three piece suit and gave a vehement, nuanced monologue, illustrated on the lowered floor in front of him by the mechanized frenzy of a rope and a chair.

eerie and affecting in total; definitely an experience, and more or less ben's-and-my last together of the trip. differences of opinion, miscommunications, textbook communiciations, long talks, and tears all taken into consideration, it remains a week i wouldn't change a minute of.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

recent developments:
1) am indeed heading to budapest (!!) with anne. would spend the few days preceding the trip getting to know her maybe, going out for coffee, gauging, observing, but she's going to berlin tomorrow morning on a DIS fieldstudy. so i'll be with her for the first substantial length of time ever on a plane to hungary. awesome. i bought the tickets yesterday when i went into STA so check the prices. the clerk informed me it was the last day i could buy them; i hesitated a second and a half and said, let's do it. impulse shopping of the very best kind.
2) ben's still here. oh yes, hush your objections, close your fish-mouths, shade your goggling eyes. he's here, + $400 the airline compensated him for the inconvenience of spending an extra day. the kobenhavn airport is as nice a place as any to while away a saturday morning, i feel, especially when you emerge young gentleman in hand, giddy and grinning.

yesterday ben and i found jazz sufficient to redeem this whole city, a quartet playing for a grizzled upscale crowd in a cafe/record store. we nodded along from the sidelines and i got a kick out of how ferociously proud some of the female audience members looked, each as though each musician were her son and she were willing to pounce on anyone who dared defame him. afterwards, we met six others at DIS: andrea and friend #1, sarah; sam; jess; the russian princess, who reiterated to ben at the table, without me even having to ask her to, her observation that she and i alone in a room encompass the range of america; and mel, who engaged the russian princess -- she's from texas, remember -- in a debate about the south. how do they learn about the civil war (they have an optional class on the subject)? do southerners have stereotypes about northerners ("mainly that they're rude," rp replies)? rp maintained that it's silly to continue thinking of the u.s. in terms of regional divisions; also it's silly to blame the present generations for past mistakes, and slavery wasn't unique to america, and it's unfair to be biased against the south.
altogether an uncomfortable conversation. i wasn't very comfortable in general, feeling for some reason responsible for the group's internal well-being as well as the way it was perceived by others' in the restaurant. mostly i was oversensitive to our noise level and kept saying "shh" to jess.

ben and i sought refuge in the minimalism of krasnopolsky's, a blackchairs whitewalls cafe with a slender candle per table. no one ever notices the wick of a candle, i thought, as he went to get us an irish kaffe. the flame could be a magnificent headress on a manequin, or a flag tied to a pole, or a tent pegged into waxy ground, but nothing without the wick. i mellowed under the heat of his arm and the upper-downer drink; emerged happy again. even happier this morning to find paradise prolonged. as i wrote in my notebook during one of my many stretches where i was left to watch think wait in the terminal, the visit was everything i expected; the visit was great. so anything more at this point is unnecessary. and wonderful.

Friday, March 15, 2002

i could be heading to budapest in less than a week. this is contingent on becca's approval: we had plans that fell through and we've been tentatively exploring alternatives, none of which seem too possible. yesterday afternoon studying for dk pol with shannon, a girl i know only vaguely chatted with us and revealed that she's traveling by herself and would enjoy company. she has accomodations already and is flying on wednesday -- she welcomed me to join her. it would be in its way perfect: a few days in a city the odds are i'd never visit otherwise/again, still an adventure because i don't know my companion (she seems nice. artsy, thrift-store cool, she hails from bryn mawr and watches danish films without subtitles.) i could return comfortably in time to pack and prepare for russia.
i'm going momentarily to check prices. i'm told the flight is cheap; i'm hoping it's true. the housing arrangement certainly is.

i have officially FINISHED with all my damn midterms. mythology, the middle one, was the toughest, with a full page of obscure, context-less identifications worth five points each. jews in europe and dk pol today were both blessedly straight-forward. i didn't study overmuch for either. yesterday evening shannon and another girl who joined us and i spent most of the time talking; afterwards, i met the group at studenthouse for jazz of the laughably low quality we've come to expect from livemusic here. (belle and sebastian on sunday nite will hopefully go a long way towards redeeming this city.)
this blessed city. showing ben around on foot has caused these sentimental surges of affection. it's a perfect size for me, i know my way around but it can of course still surprise. now that my tests are out of the way, i'm mellow and auraed with contentment and luvv.
of i go to investigate hungary. happy weekend and good shabbes, all.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

it almost didn't make sense for me to come to DIS this afternoon. ben and i parted at norreport, him saying are you sure you don't want to come [to the worker's museum]? a pretty day; we've been walking for a while; there's still three hours til my myths midterm, i could have gone and wanted to (the ancient posters in the window depict a huge scowling russia fending off small, scurrying, obsequious eastern europe). but i came here instead. met heather, chatted refreshingly, until we were approached by two KU students with notepads and strained smiles. would be consent to be interviewed?
after some innocuous background-type questions, they launched into our interpretations of america. what's the american dream? are we influenced by the countries our families came from? from the positions they now have? what makes an american an american? does the government have a responsibility to take care of its citizens? what's america's chief flaw? (heather and i both agreed so i summed us up: "just write CLASS in big letters")

it was interesting. our answers contained flotsam and jetsam of media and democracy (heavier emphasis on the former), hard work and good fortune, consumerism and individualism. americans are americans when they surrender to it, appreciate the freedoms, vote, send their kids to the skools, absorb the culture. so anyone could be an american, pretty much? well, yeah. that's the idea, isn't it?
and us? what's our american dream? largely heather and i concurred: we had the advantage of growing up in houses. for us the dream isn't to go forth and own land in the 'burbs ("although it's important to own things," says heather) but to be successful and fulfilled. for her, that means career and cids; for me, a creative life filled with stimuli; for both of us, comfort.

"are you, do you think, representative of america?" we exchange glances, look each other up and down, reflect that we're in denmark. how could we be representative? i go to a small liberal arts college on the east coast, i explain; we're more leftist than is normal. (queen of understatement: yes, that's me.) heather purses her lips and shakes her head. i don't talk about this stuff with anyone where i come from, she says. it's hard to know. does everyone conceive of the u.s. this way? we objected at points that we couldn't speak for the country as a whole; it's huge, diverse.... our interviews shook their heads at that: generalize, they told us, try. so we tried.
the last point i made was about alienation. people aren't as connected to each other, they don't feel compelled to take care of/ responsibility for the general population. heather chimes in, it's the individualism thing again. they nod and scribble. we sit back. in a way, we have just been held responsible for the general population. they smile and thank us and drift away; heather and i hug goodbyes, wish each other great breaks, and do the same.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

the young gentleman and i made dinner -- tortillas that turned into chips: first mine did, and he laughed at me; but then his did too -- to the longwindedness wittiness of phil ochs; now we're reclining to the baritone, intentionally melodramatic wackiness of magnetic fields, all courtesy of the little battery operated speakers that the young gentleman, having no patience for the oppressive silence of floor 7F, swooped up for me this afternoon. thanks hon.
meanwhile my second midterm was on par with the first, leaving me with three to go and little to stress about. my giddiness lasted me all yesterday. in fact it has yet to pass. after hours and hours of walking, ben and i landed at DIS so darling andrea and i could reflect each other (apologies for the excessive light metaphors). we meant to study too but it was more important to talk. she ben and i hopped over to selena's, one of our favorite haunts, where bartenders are reliably friendly, drinks are reliably good, and raucous clientele reliably break into drunken song. our company washed over us, one wave after another, until at last we made our way back home.

post-midterm this afternoon i went out with the girls while ben museumed, then debated with shannon about the pros and cons of majoring in american studies. when she goes to skool, you don't need a major, only a concentration. i envied that: i'd gladly trade one-major-one-minor for three minors. she worries grad skools, not that she plans on attending one but you never know, might squint through their monocle at that and drawl, Gracious me, what a slacker.
grad skool? yet another question. one that, thankfully, i am at least another year from worrying about. i have much to occupy me before then, like what i should do next week if becca and i can't meet (damn you, easter for clogging up flightplans and your non-kosher-for-passover pastel goop) do i dare travel by myself? and where? i shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach. i have heard the mermaids singing each to each. i do not think that they will sing to me ....

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

palestinian painted frog? who searched for that and how on earth did it lead them to my site? ahh the mysteries of the web. my feet hurt from walking for three hours but i successfully led ben back along the path jamie and i took on our much-recounted trip here after high skool. we stayed in a little hostel in norrebro and i was thrilled to be able to find my way straight back there on my first try. that's right, i'm awesome. on the way back i also found the hare krishna vegetarian restaurant jamie and i ate at for damn cheap. mental note.
i don't think i can be blamed for being giddy: it's a tropical 15 degrees celsius outside under a mild blue sky and with only the faintest breeze twirling the air. therefore my hair has yet to surrender curls to frizz. AND though i won't go into detail yet another of the loveless girls have fallen. no ross don't take me literally -- i use the term as a coverall for the wonderful females who don't have as much with gaining due attention from the opposite (or same) sex as some.

so. i'm guestblogging for tinka eventually, in the illustrious company, once again, of the secretary of the stratosphere. good stuff. and i got lovely supportive emails, including one from my mother bristling, defending my achievements this semester and my character in general. they made me smile. who needs guardian angels when you have protective souls?
what's danish for "not as bad as expected"? i just finished sailing through my criminal justice midterm. it's gorgeous out, at least by local standards, which are all i remember. ben should be appearing momentarily. i left him home to explore on his own the dorm laundry room and, if he finds it, christiania.

yesterday, post-morning mournfulness: lunch at rizraz, bountiful veggie meditterranean buffet, with heather, heather's drag-along david, and andrea, followed by walking around town where we met serendipitously with katie and her perternaturally cheerful fiancee. ben bought a hat and i despaired over exorbitant sweater prices. the ones my mother would look best in are of course mind-bogglingly expensive, and while ben patiently allowed himself to be used as a model for fur hat after fur hat, i wasn't satisfied that any one would satisfy my father. i continue to look.
we went shopping and between that and making dinner Talked. i realized how anxious i get when i have to play hostess (becca who called later pinpointed it, "it's your mother in you"). i want everything to be perfect and wonderful; he's simply trying to adjust and absorb. some more tears on my part, too many of them recently, but everything's been better -- best, even -- since. i think i just needed to get my irrationality out.

four midterms to go. four more days with ben. sapna, on the way to the test this morning, said i was glowing. oh, that elusive glow. how i missed you.

Monday, March 11, 2002

i am, according to my first observer in two months, changed. whether i've merely adapted to circumstance and environment or earnestly, deep-down changed, i won't know til i get home. less childish, more self-sufficient. you wouldn't think those are bad things, but his tone and my reaction implied they were. i like being childish, at least sometimes. it's easy as i'm often surrounded by people who like taking the lead, being capable, patronizing me a little maybe but that's okay; after all, i let them. not here. the other day heather said i was smart. no one would say that at home (well, home = swat.) to be smart at swat you have to be brilliant, you can't just be passable. you forget that the rest of world might have a different standard. or at least last semester, losing perspective sleep and sanity over evil bruce as well as, to some extent, barnies, i did.

eye-opening, thought-provoking. feeling that i'm unhappy, he suggests hanging out with fewer americans. immediately i feel worse, my weaknesses in this place highlighted, what i've failed to do, i.e.: learn the language and meet boatloads of cool danes. it's not as easy as it sounds <-- an excuse. mm, i have to get off this train of thought because it's taking me to an unfriendly mental place. i'm trying to be a good worldtraveler. i guess to really succeed i would need to be less childish and more self-sufficient still.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

i should be taking this opportunity to start studying for my criminal justice midterm. upstairs, the young gentleman is sleeping off jetlag. i woke up neurotically early this morning, at 6:40, to get to the airport with plenty of times to twiddle my thumbs, drink tap water, and reflect while i waited. at 8:15 or so he came through the gate, primly white-collared so as to attract as little undue attention as possible. becca, who so often commented last year that he looked like a terrorist, would think this wise. on the ride home i defended my ignorance of the language with the passion of one whose guilt is clear. my excuses are pitiful: i don't meet danes as my hallway's silent flickering is interrupted only by the periodic cries of a baby; i'm not taking a class.
actually last nite at andrea's, i met A.C., a young dane with whom i was greatly impressed. although he insisted lamely he had to go work on CS, we covninced him to sit with us, the group assembled for Girly Drink Night, and keep us company. he acquiesced and andrea radiated. when the crowd grew unwieldy he fled. we finished the bacardi breezers and made crepes, popcorn, and rum punch (i think of that scene in Mary Poppings where she's doling out medicine, a different flavor for each child, and for herself, "rrrrrum punch.") we played a drinking game which involved a pack of cards, laughed our heads off and finished the whole bowl. katie demonstrated the universal sign for oversharing and sam calmed down from her traumatic experience on the bus. a drunk threw first a beer bottle and then a pack of cigarettes at her, screaming in danish and barring her way. in tears finally she climbed over the back of her seat and called her host dad. A.C., present at the first telling of this story, was astonished that no one offered to help her. andrea warmed to 150 watts, nearly blinding. but for a good cause.

that was the follow-up to my equally lovely afternoon, wherein i finally met up with a girl from my dk pol class. we had lunch on the way to the dfi, chatting, bonding. she made me feel lowbrow listing her top three films as i had only vaguely heard of them. we saw dr. zhivago, sincerely acted, epic and silly. we were laughing quietly at points by the end. people who are not russian should not make movies about russia. still, we agreed, it's good prep for visiting the country.

i feel like i should have a plan. of course i don't. heather suggested riz raz for tomorrow lunch, an excellent idea. hopefully everything else will simply fall into place.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

beyond the call of duty, last nite heather and andrea dismissed our plans and showed up at my dorm bearing bags of chocolate and diet coke, and a 6-pack of Kleenex. we assumed positions for another tea party and talked and laughed. they left after a while, and i, distracted and comforted, went to sleep.
the situation had been rather strange before they arrived. in shock i cleaned and cried, came down to the computer lab to correspond with my mother and called my dad. sapna, my suitemate, had invited people over, for which she kept apologizing. at one point while i was sitting on my immaculately made bed one of the guy from the other room came in and extended me a tulip. a long-winded explanation for why he was distributing flowers to strangers later, another guy came in with another tulip. this was more matter-of-fact. "sapna told me your great uncle just died," he said, and as i gripped both tulips he told me that his great aunt just died a week ago from emphysema.

later i made a vase out of an empty bottle half-filled with water and the tulips posed as a centerpiece for our teaparty. they haven't opened yet: like the little red fists of infants, they seem both ferocious and calm. looking at them i remember: amsterdam, the flower market, my brother adam and i wandering there; springtime (how much longer could it wait?); our parade of dutch aupairs passing out wooden shoes and sprinkles and leaving me with a deeply ingrained desire for blonde hair. so many tests of my powers of recollection.

Friday, March 08, 2002

a tribute -- my uncle hy passed away; and though i call him uncle i think technically he was a great-great uncle, my father's great uncle, living out by himself in a house in albuquerque, new mexico with pictures of his late wife smiling down off of the walls. she was supposed to have been the most wonderful of women but i never knew her. i couldn't imagine uncle hy with a wife; i always saw him so self-sufficient. it was years before i realized a person could be both cheerful and lonely. he grew tomatoes with noses in his backyard. my little brother would squeal when he saw them. twilights, he sat with me on his backporch and introduced me to hummingbirds, loyal frequenters of his feeder even while, he whispered to me, they no longer appeared anywhere else. patiently he showed me how to wind the magnificently carved coo-coo clock. he whittled too and he always told me whatever animal i wanted he'd whittle for me. only i never could think of one. when i was 11, i had a poem published in an anthology -- the whole thing was a scam, of course, a vanity press, but i was vain, or young, enough to be thrilled; and he sent me a little wooden stand instead with a place for a "fountain pen" (a white pen with a trailing purple feather) and a little brozne plaque that read, "ester _____, published poet, 1994." i couldn't have been prouder.

uncle hy was one of the few people i knew whose eye never stopped twinkling and who showed no signs of being intimidated by my father. hy even beat him at the word game once (or as dad would say, "i let him win one.") my father stays one-week-a-month in new mexico: so he's spent at least a few days every month chuckling with hy, buying books from his private rare-book business, and dining out in the same restaurants where the head waiters know their names and usher them to the same tables. this awed me. the process, from the first step in, the effusive greetings, the inside jokes, the stories recounted, to the haggling over the check, which heroic battles ended only when one of them would capitulate with rolled eyes and extravagant sighs. sometimes not even then. one favorite story had them fighting with the pitch and stubbornness of generals. finally hy threw down his napkin in disgust, announced his defeat and left for the bathroom. after a moment or two to catch his breath and revel in his victory, my father signalled for the check. the waiter only shook his head and smiled. hy had ambushed the counter and paid it himself.

it's been years since i last saw him. the birthday cards kept coming, usually signed "uncil hy" in reference to an old spelling mistake my little brother made on hy's 80th birthday banner. my father repeated "hy sends his love" each month, his sincerity never in doubt. but nothing drew us as a family to new mexico. now i regret it of course. of course, there's nothing to be done. i didn't even know he had cancer. it attacked swiftly, taking him by the lungs. my mother writes with tears in her eyes to let me know that he died nobly rather than become a burden on any member of his family. people are mourning in chicago, in san francisco. people will gravitate to albuquerque from d.c., from boston. some of a generation that remembers the wars, some with children barely one-year-old. and maybe the hummingbirds will attend as well, as tribute to a man with a soul so light it hovered.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

in case you hadn't noticed, i'm going to stick to this color for a while and see how i feel about it.
in external news: yesterday, i hurried through horrible weather, from research with my eye on my watch, to the post office. there they handed me a lumpy manilla envelope from my darling liz filled with hamentashen. even two weeks old and postal-service bumped-and-grinded, they were better than the ones i made. i had no time however to savor then (though i grabbed like three at once) as i had to haul ass to teacher jeanne's house for our criminal justice presentations followed by buffet dinner for 25. i didn't know where she lived quite, and, having caught the worst bus, was quite late as it was, so 5 o'clock, the appointed time of commencement, found me shuffling down various wet streets, flagging down passersby to beg them to translate the back of my hand where i'd written t. jeanne's address into a concrete direction.
eventually i found the place, rang the buzzer, and was mortified to hear t. jeanne say, "is that ester?" the rest of the class was comfortably assembled in her wonderful apartment (oh i want this woman's life: one wall of books, the opposite of cds, a huge green-glass somethingorother piece of art/receptacle for winebottle corks). as i soon as i arrived, we began. none of our Alternatives to Imprisonment were too controversial and most leaned left rather than right, though an argument broke out as to whether ceasing welfare payments to those who have frauded the system is cruel and unfair, or just justice. guess which side i took, rather heatedly too.
apparently t. jeanne told us chemical castration of sex offenders is a practice in dk, so long as you have the offender's consent. some of them line up for the treatment which isn't permanent -- reminded me of dpt, actually, you have to get continuous shots to keep you blessedly sex-drive/fantasy free. the boys winced at that; one compared it to giving a lobotomy to a thief.

after dinner, cara and i bonded over our occasional alienation, frustration at not meeting more people (it can be a problem of self-definition. circles form, the Indie crowd, the potheads, the texas chicks, and where do you place yourself?) and the fact that we're going on the same russia tour. came back to the dorm to find neither computer nor telephone operable; grumblingly i ate more hamentashen -- holy lord, don't send me cookies when i'm depressed -- and read more jews in germany narratives. actually they're really interesting, little first person windows into a past i wish i knew more about.

speaking of first person windows: ross has written Remembrance of Things Present on his website; my alter-ego sarah c. has begun one of her own; and poor danny who has suffered quietly long enuf is recognized at last. sorry for the delay, danny.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

oh i should not be blogging. when i finally went up to start work on my paper last nite (granted at like 11) i found the doors barred against me and my procrastinating ilk. at least my time was well-spent: i wrote lana's rec, successfully concealing my dislike for the institution and for her sake even cuddling up to it a bit (couldn't hurt, eh?) reminded me of my interview, all this telling people what they want to hear. i'm going to need an honesty hour soon to help me recover.

will came down, droopy, and talked to me for 45 minutes which was also fun. told me stories of his past. actually that functioned as sort of an honesty hour -- i like certian people to whom you can ask straightforward questions and who will give you in response straightforward answers. none of that curvybackwards or sideways shit, oh no. no sir.
so i went home satisfied, accompanied on the bus by a man with the largest smile i'd ever seen, a jaw-bridge of a smile, who sat next to me. with english as fractured as his smile was continuous, he told me he's from kazakstan (sp?) in copenhagen studying scientology.

my blanket is a tempermental thing. some mornings i wake to find it next to me, looking like it too is curled up and dreaming. some mornings it's on the floor like a sulking child. beds in this country are narrow and strange, and i guess it takes a while to fully earn the trust of ones covers.
this morning, from bed i went to the national musset with my myths class to admire ironageiron and bronzeagebronze, skeletons with preserved curls and wellcut amber. teacher morten described thor as the anti-Christ. not the antichrist, mind you. i love ancient religions. the modern ones, by the look of the gory front pages, india, israel, afghanistan, aren't doing quite so well. well. one can always escape into history.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

you could, dear readers, have been treated to a rant this evening. restlessness and anger hit this afternoon, as i speedwalked the fifteen minutes from my pointless dk pol activity to the russia orientation in an attempt not to be too late. the russia orientation only made things worse. fortunately as soon as i got home eric called, extending an invitation for homemade sushi. we sat cross-legged on the floor with the sushi laid out before us, water glasses to one side and candles on the other, and the atmosphere (read: wasabi) chased away my demons.

i need my focus this evening to start researching/outlining my ten page nordic mythology paper. yet despite brownrice and plum paste, i'm still not at the top of my form. there are cracks in my calm which let worry worm in. belle&sebastian are playing here the 17th but i don't have anyone to go with, a fact that reminds me of a larger problem: i'm not content with my folk situation. i don't know how to change it, either. why don't more people here excite me? we're 6 weeks into the program and most people seem socially settled. so am i, often, til restlessness strikes. i just want more.

enuf whining. it's time to analyze the viking conversion to christianity and how it affected their storytelling. besides, there are always wonderful movies i can go to alone at the cinemateket, whose schedule for march makes me wish i could spend money nonstop (my brother i hear is doing just that in australia right now, with the justification that buying alcohol for females is the custom.) at least i got a free membership so each film is only 30 kr, instead of the 50 it could be.
and even if i'm not with ideal people in russia, i'll still be in russia. the simple fact of that will make up for a lot.

Monday, March 04, 2002

yeehaw baby now i can write in black. i'm not sure why i switched the background color; i think i like it. if not i can always go back. nothing online is permanent.

i had my interview this evening. i sat very straight (remembering how strict they were with us) while simultaneously trying to relax (attempting to sound confident and self-assured, like the role model i'm applying to be). i summoned up awkward flashbacks to address how i'd deal with maladjusted kids. in every respect i tried to sound conservative. some campers are as young as 12 and the policies are geared towards them. when my interviewer asked what topics i would avoid bringing up i knew precisely what he wanted to hear. i guess i should have prepped more, practiced so that i'd say "um" less -- but he expected me to think about the questions before answering, didn't he? i've never had a phone interview before. i used lots of buzzwords: openness, tolerance, respect, community, safe space. i wish i could have snuck in "paradigm". on the other hand maybe that would have set off "crazy leftist" alarm bells.
i played it very safe and i think it went all right. impossible to tell really, as he'd just say "uh huh" and scribble me down. i hear in two weeks.

about to work with my crime group. we have to agree on alternative sanctions for criminals which we'll present tomorrow at our teacher's house. our reward is a free byob dinner with her, and she's one of the coolest adults i've ever met.
latest development on my own quest to be cool: helped mel make dinner for her host family last nite, as well as the long-awaited gingerbread scones (verdict: eh; better once mel lathered them with whipped cream [which i whipped]). and tonite i made a more successful stirfry. actually if i do say so myself it was damn good. pat pat, ester. pat pat.

Sunday, March 03, 2002

last nite eric explained dungeons and dragons to me, the rules as well as the appeal, during my second teaparty in a row. my teaparties hug midnight with both arms and usually involve digestive biscuits, or will anyway until i run out. yesterday's featured sliced green apple as well though granny smith, you can tell, prefers to be on her home soil.
i hadn't expected either teaparty, particularly not last nite's. earlier i went out to meet heather, cindy, will, and will's visiting ex-something; with the added company of two more we finished off the Finishing Touches and dropped in on student house, a cheapass crowded colorful bar near the round tower. bad music, yet again: fat t-shirted men with long hair screaming with electric guitars. really, two things on the Danes Cannot Seem to Do list, make music and take care of their garbage (more cigarette butts than i've seen in any one place, except possibly vassar.) recycling redeems them.

the dynamics of our little group, in contrast, were subtle and interesting, but with that echo of a 1986 garage band pounding behind us we couldn't stay. the others were bent on Rust, a killer club i had neither the pants nor the energy for; i bussed it home, showing a guy the way ("i don't care what anyone thinks of me; that's my talent") to/because a huge party had taken over the main hall. after bowing him in, i lingered for a bit and happened to see eric. nearly a week had gone by since we'd last hung out. this was perfect timing.
our favorite haunt closed, we ended up around my makeshift (there's that word again) kitchen table with reliable yogitea playing second string and talked and talked, our discourse punctuated by sapna's comings and goings, first with two people, then one, finally alone, at which point exhaustion hit all of us. i'd spent the afternoon wandering 'round the Louisiana with heather cindy and andrea in an intellectual crowd of closely-sheared bespectacled folk. a storm hit while we were safely inside and from the windows, awed, we watched gray mingle with gray as the sky met the sea. just as abrupty, before we left, it did.

despite all the snow when i ventured out this morning to buy bread for mel's host family, hosting me tonite for dinner, i heard birds singing encouragingly. a reminder that it's unlikely to stay winter forever.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

in true female fashion, three of us yesterday evening adjourned to the bathroom. katie, me, and a girl i'd silently nicknamed the russian princess for her slender aloofness, pearl earrings, white-as-the-skin-of-a-lightbulb skin, and occasionally frightened expression as though she weren't used to dealing with the rabble of the world. i doubt i've said a word to her despite her occasional presence as an associate to the partners of my group; she's in classes with some of the others and none with me. still, she smiles at me usually and i smile back. who am i to spurn royalty?
suddenly she says, "you know, with the two of us here, we make up everything that is america." words to that effect -- i'm startled and it takes me a moment to process. we had been discussing our different colleges at the table before; i assume she's referring to that. "you mean," i say slowly, "that the two of us have within us the representative spectrum of young people in our country?" she rewarded my rewording with a beaming nod. "hmm," i say, still processing. "we're missing the alienated, disaffected punk or apathetic segment," i point out. she returns a blank stare. "okay," i say, "maybe that's an east coast thing."

she attends southern methodist university in texas; she dances (hence the figure); she has an american flag pinned to the inside of her change purse. "what are you majoring in?" she asks. american studies, i say, knowing what will happen, and indeed it does. "oh!" she says, and i hasten to dim the smile. "it's not because i love america. ("oh," she says) or hate it. it's more like i find it fascinating."
"i don't want to talk about it," she decides. "it'll only get me upset."
fair nuff. we leave the bathroom, katie following us shaking her head. back at the table, taking in the russian princess's thin-and-blondeness, i consider being offended. but what would be the point? (indonesian dinner, incidentally. excellent food. 8 people, of whom only two, including me, had ever partaken of such before. everyone enjoys, including the r.p.. i'm proud.)

i sent off my proposed curriculum to the cty-guy who'll be interviewing me, titled "Everyday Things". now i'm about to go back to my room, roll up my sleeves, and try a recipe i bookmarked a few days ago in the frayed Family Circle cookbook previous tenants left, alongside women's magazines and the bible, in our kitchen cupboard. if the result is any good, i'll bring to share with folks at the georgia o'keefe exhibit we're heading to this afternoon.

Friday, March 01, 2002

three funny searches led to this blog recently: "jewish+blog+jew" ; "sexy mature danish women" ; "journal of the identical lunch". well, that about sums me up, eh?
dammit: tinka is hosting an oscar party while i'm in russia. there's much confusion/discussion about travel here. we only have so-many weekends good for gallavanting; everyone has different priorities and different obstacles. andrea doesn't want to go to anyplace the nazis have been. or, well, i mean, substantially, like germany or austria. i used to be of that opinion. somewhere along the line i developed an itch to see berlin -- becca and i are meeting there before i leave on the study tour.
where else? i'd like to see spain. maybe brussels. where do you put the 'x' in brussels?

i guess i'd better hold off on oscar speculating. as the day approaches i won't be able to restrain myself, most likely. on the 23rd my entry'll be me packing and shrieking, "you bloody morons are going to waste all that honor on A Beautiful Mind, aren't you?" you'll hear something smash in the background, like when i threw that vase at the wall in disgust at the golden globes. and then it turned out rhett butler was on the couch and had witnessed the whole tantrum. how embarrasing.

one of the kieslovsky dekalog films this morning, number 6, left me unaffected. we're watching another, number 8, later on. indonesian food tonite, georgia o'keefe tomorrow.