Category Archives: Diary

January 13

I’m happy to announce Kat and I are the happy owners of a car. Might not be a big thing for you, but for us this is proper grown up stuff, especially in Copenhagen, where Christiania bikes are normally the ultimate embodiment of adulthood.

You could argue is unnecessary to have a car in a city like this, where bike lanes have been perfectly laid out for our enjoyment and convenience, but I have to admit that the process of getting a car we can call our own has been a genuinely exciting experience.

Kat had to learn how to drive from scratch, go through dozen of classes and a few tests (both theoretical and practical) and finally hunt for the right car, one that was both within the budget her Dad had allocated for it and our personal needs: not too big so that is easy to park but not too small so that we can still fit stuff in the boot if we need to; not too old so that it’s not too expensive to insure but not too worn so that it can last a few years before it starts giving us troubles; not too powerful so that it doesn’t consume too much petrol but with an engine big enough to drive around without problem. You get the picture.

Luckily for us, we managed to find a really nice Mazda 2 (year 2003) at a good price and in great condition. The car is compact, powerful and very spacious, just what we were looking for. Last night, after picking it up from the car dealer, we went for a little celebratory lap around our neighborhood, smiling and looking at each other in disbelief.

– Holy shit, we own a car!
– I know!

(High five)

Now I just need to swap my Venezuelan driving license for a Danish one, a painful process that involves paying to have my current license translated (which I already did), paying to get a health certificate (which I will do next week), and paying to submit my application (which I’ll do the week after). That alone can take up to six months because the Danish authorities need to check with the Venezuelan police to verify my documents and make sure my license is legit, but at least I get a temporary license while they do that, so it’s not that bad.

In the meantime, Kat and I will need to settle on a name for the car; she wants to call it “AziZ” (lame) and I would like to name it “Lemmy” (awesome). Either way, we now have a car!

Pretty cool, huh?

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January 4

It’s freezing in Copenhagen. After spending a wonderful week in Madrid with Kat, catching up with friends and eating our own weight in food and sweets, we flew back last night and arrived to a very cold Denmark.

Kat’s dad picked us up at the airport, which is always very kind of him, and after a short ride he dropped us home and waved goodbye. We took a shower, unpacked half of our suitcases, order Indian takeaway, and sat in front of the telly in our freshly new furry bathrobes to watch the first two episodes of The Shield.

Despite the chilling temperatures, it was good to be back; not because we didn’t enjoy our time in Madrid (we had a blast!) but maybe because it’s always nice for us to return to the familiarity of our own space. After all, we have spent a good amount of time and money making that place our home.

However, there was something strange about this holiday. For the second time in my life, I spent both Christmas and New Year’s Eve far from my family in Venezuela (the first time ever was in 2010 and it affected me in more ways I could have imagined), the only difference was this time around I had Kat in my life and her company made the situation remarkably better.

Knowing we wouldn’t be able to make it to Venezuela to see my family, she bought us flight tickets to Madrid to see some of my closest friends, many of whom I consider an extended family of sorts. Even though I have known them for just a few years, they welcomed us in their homes like long-time friends would, and for that I’m very grateful.

Kat and her family also went out of their way to make my first Christmas in Denmark very special, one filled with delicious food and lovely presents and the fuzzy warmth that comes with blood ties. I was sad to not have been able to see the beautiful faces of my family, sad of not being able to hug them and tell them how much I love them, but finding myself in that situation also made me realize how lucky I am to have friends around me and Kat on my side.

Unlike 2012 (bloody fucking tyrant!), 2015 was fantastic. The highlights are too long to list but you must know that I loved and laughed and was happier that I have ever been in a long while. As we kickoff 2016, the fears that haunt me on the outset of every new year inevitably sink in, but so does an equally powerful desire to give 2015 a little run for its money.

I will try to be better and happier, and although there is no guarantee I will succeed, I sure will give it my best shot.

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October 12

The more time passed, the more I felt there was no point in trying to get back on the habit of keeping a diary. I didn’t have the time to sit down and write about all these experiences I was going through in as much detail as I would have liked, and I was certainly not willing to scribble a few notes just for the sake of it so I just ignored it altogether.

For a while, I thought I would force myself to get back into the swing of things by simply putting together one of those lazy posts in which I’d go over the highlights of whatever amount of time had passed between updates, but I knew I would have faded into absence shortly after, so why even bother?

But then, this happened.

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Since my last blog entry, I saw AC/DC twice (one time front row!), met Mike Patton and Mike Bordin, stood side of the stage for Eagles of Death Metal, and spent four days in a tent with Kat at Roskilde. We did Northside, too. We spent a week stuffing ourselves with delicious Italian food in a small Sicilian town, getting drunk, visiting active volcanoes and lying on beautiful beaches. I spent four days in Lake Como, riding in helicopters, climbing mountains, and swimming in cold water. I have bought records, visited friends, and even started taking improv classes. But of all those wonderful things I have been fortunate enough to experience, giving that ring to Kat has been by far the most exciting. Unlike everything else that came before it, this was actually worth writing about.

It happened in Hamburg last week, in front of the City Hall, after a lovely dinner. We were in Germany for a long weekend, which we had originally planned as a shopping trip (as it turned out, there was a National holiday we were not aware of and all shops were closed) so there was no need for me to plan a getaway holiday out of the blue. The logistics worked in my favor.

So did the postal service, which delivered the ring I had bought on Etsy the day before our flight. Kat and I had been talking about this for a while so I asked her to put together a wishlist with her favorite ring designs, just for me to have a good range of options to choose from whenever I decided to look into it. When she mentioned she had found the most beautiful of them all, a classic 1940s 5-diamond engagement ring, I went online and bought it. Then I pretended to be broke and made sure to casually bring up the poor health of my bank account in our conversations whenever possible, reassuring Kat I would definitely look into it once I was able to afford it. This went on for about a month.

By the time we got to Hamburg, I had the ring with me and Kat had kind of forgotten about the ring she so much loved but couldn’t have because some piece of shit asshole had bought it first (fortunately, some of the other rings she had in her wishlist also got sold around the same time, so even though at some point she suspected I had bought it, the fact that the other rings disappeared all at once made her think that maybe I hadn’t bought it after all and life was just being slightly cruel). Bonus points to me for dramatic plot twist.

We landed in Hamburg on Thursday night, spent most of Friday walking around and lying in the sun near the harbor, and in the evening we went for dinner at a place I had booked us a table at. Upon arrival, we realized the place was utterly depressing so we managed to secure a table at another restaurant near by (thank you, Foursquare) and had dinner there instead. Once we were done with our food, we went for a walk around town and when we accidentally stumbled upon Hamburg Rathaus, a beautiful neo-renaissance building from the 18th century, I knew that was the moment. I put my hand in my pocket, where I had been carrying the ring for the whole evening, and tried to get it out of the little tulle bag it came in without giving away my intentions.

While I struggled with getting the ring out of my pocket, Kat was having a look around and by the time her eyes came back to me, I was kneeling in front of her, holding the little shiny thing in my hand. She was taken by surprise. “Would you marry me?” Her immediate response was: “You idiot!” – I took that as a yes.

We laughed, we hugged, we kissed. It was awesome.

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June 2

Every time I go to Madrid, a little part of me wishes it could stay there, enjoying the sun and the food and the company of one of the most endearing group of people I know. I simply love that town and the friends I have there, and I can’t wait to come back soon.

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* * * *

I just watched Kung Fury and once I finished, I bought two t-shirts and invited the director to guest star in my podcast. I kind of lost interest in recording new episodes but if he agrees, I would happily resurrect it. Let’s see what he says. In the meantime, watch the film if you haven’t done it already, it’s funny, it’s brilliantly made, and it’s probably much more interesting than most movies produced by Hollywood these days.

Speaking of funny, Kat has been craking me up with an impersonation of Mr. T that is neither accurate or well crafted but that still gets me every single time. I went to bed last night with a sore jaw, thinking I have never met someone who could made me laugh so hard so often. I guess I’m lucky.

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May 28

Good news and bad news.

The bad news is that I was inform today that my project was not among the winner of the scholarship I applied to a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bummer because I truly believe it would have been an amazing project to take on but fuck it, that’s just the way things are. Better luck next time.

The good news is that Kat and I are traveling to Madrid for the weekend and the weather forecast looks like this:

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I REALLY CAN’T WAIT.

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May 20

So, after a week doing research on cultural anthropology and the future of technology, I have finally written and submitted my application to the Ole Stig Lommer scholarship. It was a bit hard to figure out what what I wanted to do but I think the topic I ended up choosing is interesting and I would love to get the money to explore it further. Fingers crossed.

On a different note, going through the bands that will be playing Northside this year, I discovered the work of Mathew E. White and let me tell you… I’m digging it, yo. I listened to “Fresh Blood” for a few days and like it, and now I’m listening to “Big Inner” and I think is a pretty sweet record, too. I also checked out a live performance in the KEPX studio and I can now say that I’m really looking forward to see him in Aarhus next month.

Now, did I mentioned I’m going to Paris this weekend to see AC/DC play the massive Stade de France?

Anchorman

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May 12

I have been meaning to write here for a few days now but I simply couldn’t find a way around, I was either too busy working or too busy watching TV at home with Kat. Most of the times, I was too busy watching TV at home with Kat. We signed up for Netflix last month (in addition to our existing HBO subscription) and we have been having a great time in our couch, going through episodes of Bosch, The Fall, Games of Thrones, Broadchurch, and a few documentaries thrown in for good measure. We do love seating there every night to watch TV, it’s one of the things we do best.

When I haven’t been busy staring at the telly, I have been at work, trying to put together a proposal to apply for a grant awarded by a Danish organization to advertising professionals that want to undertake a year-long research project around a topic that can bring new perspectives to the advertising industry in Denmark. My boss suggested me to give it a shot so I decided to go ahead with it. After talking to a few people in the business, and pondering the kind of project I would enjoy doing, I finally settled on a topic I genuinely believe could be interesting to explore, mostly because I don’t know anything about it and also because it could give me the opportunity to travel around and talk to really smart folks.

My deadline is May 26 and so far I have most of the research done and a rough outline laid out, so all I have to do now is start writing. That is usually the trickiest bit, though. I spent a week going through articles, books, videos and academic papers, taking notes and trying to figure out what exactly the focus of my proposal was. It’s such a broad topic that it has been hard to narrow the scope down, but I think I have finally found a way. Maybe. I will start writing tomorrow and hopefully I will have a first draft ready next Monday, if everything goes well. Then it would be just a matter to make a few corrections, proof read and send it out. Wish me luck.

* * * *

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from the Venezuelan Embassy letting me know my new passport had arrived. This shouldn’t be an event, but in my case, it really is. You see, early this year I lost my passport so had to apply to a new one, but unlike most countries, mine takes forever to process such paperwork. It’s just the way it is. The estimate processing time was 3 months but surprisingly, it only took them a month to go through my application, make a new passport and send it back to Denmark. That is fantastic news. Why? Because before losing my passport, Kat and I had booked a trip to Paris next week and a trip to Madrid the week after, both of which we thought we were going to need to cancel as soon as we heard how long my new passport was going to take.

But then yesterday, I miraculously received a notification informing me the document was ready, and today I just went to the Embassy and picked it up. Which means I will get to go to Paris with Kat next week and see AC/DC playing at Stade de France. My first AC/DC show! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this, and how much I am looking forward to visit Paris with Kat. I’m happy to go anywhere with Kat, really.

But Paris… va être parfait!

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April 20

On Saturday, Kat and I had our first anniversary. Whoa, a full year has passed since we first met… it blows my mind when I think about it because so much has happened in such short period of time that I often feel like we have been together for ages. It reminds me of what Joshua Foer wrote in Moonwalking with Einstein: “Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it.”

Anyway, Saturday was a fantastic day with blue skies so I cycled all the way to Sort Kaffe og Vinyl in Vesterbro to enjoy a cup of coffee in the sun and then decided to drop by Sound Station to soak up some of that joyful atmosphere they always create on Record Store Day. They really do make an effort to make everyone feel welcome. I had promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything but as soon as I started browsing through the shop’s wonderful stock of vinyls, I knew I was going to have a hard time living up to the vow of restraint I had naively taken.

Things started slowly, bagging just a couple of records: Groundhogs’ “Who Will Save The World?” (which I wanted mostly for the cover artwork) and The Band’s “The Last Waltz”, which I thought would make for a great anniversary present considering it’s one of Kat’s favourite records. I kept on looking and I kept finding stuff I liked: Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen, We’re Floating In Space” and Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”; nothing particularly special about them, they are just records I really enjoy. At this point, I was kind of ready to leave but on my way to the counter I spotted two girls in the shop, one holding a copy of the “Singles” soundtrack and the other one with a Screaming Trees record… I knew right away there was a section of the shop I was missing. I went back to the entrance and looked around. There it was, an entire “Alternative and Heavy” selection of records I hadn’t checked when I arrived.

In hindsight, I should have walked away from it but I just couldn’t, I had to see what they had. That’s when things got a bit out of control: Soundgarden’s “Louder Than Live” white label promo, “The Day I Tried To Live” 12″ etched vinyl, and “Jesus Christ Pose” special edition 4-track etched vinyl; Iron Maiden’s “Live After Dead” (Dutch version with inner sleeves and a booklet full of my friend Ross Halfin’s photos), “The Number of the Beast” and “A Real Dead One” label promo on clear vinyl; AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “The Razor’s Edge”; Slinth’s “Spiderland” and The Kink’s greatest hits, which I eventually got for free courtesy of the shop.

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In the end, I took home THIRTEEN records! Fucking ridiculous. I cycled home holding to full bags of vinyl hanging from my bike’s handlebar, with a big smile on my face and the wind blowing in my hair (and the bags), making my ride home slightly harder than usual. Shortly after I got home, Kat arrived with our new dining table (a red, round piece from the 60’s) and we went for a walk around Bispebjerg Kirkegård to see the cherry trees and their famous blossoms, which are probably a local trending topic on Instagram.

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I hadn’t seen them before and I have to say, the view is stunning. We got a couple of random people to take a picture of us standing under the trees, both with my phone and our Instax mini camera, and much to my surprise, the results were quite nice. We went back home, listened to some of our new records and left the house again around 5pm to go to Taller, a new restaurant in town with a menu inspired by Venezuelan gastronomy and flavours. We were a bit skeptical at first but once we finished, both Kat and I agreed it was probably one of the nicest dinners we have ever had together.

The Venezuelan influence was clearly reflected in the majority of the dishes we tried (especially the mini arepas, the guasacaca and the dessert) and the wine they paired with our 4-course menu couldn’t have been better. On top of that, the service was impeccable. We’re definitely coming back once they change the menu, we had an outstanding experience.

On Sunday, we went with Monika to Louisiana Museum to check the Richard Mosse exhibition, and to enjoy the weather. I had never been to Louisiana before and I was blown away by its beauty. It’s was so quiet and green, with a wonderful garden overlooking the sea. I don’t know why I hadn’t visited before but I will do my best to come back often, it really is an amazing place. We went through the permanent exhibitions, including the Gleaming Lights installation by Yayoi Kusama, and ended up with the Richard Mosse exhibition, which was terrific. Those photos really strike you when you see them in all their glory. Strangely beautiful considering the dark subject that inspired them.

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We ended the day at home, drinking wine and watching the EELS concert at the Royal Albert Hall, a film I had been wanting to see since I heard it was going to be released.

A great time was had by all.

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April 15

I have spent most of the last three days working on a pitch for a local charity and, although exciting as a creative challenge, the subject of the brief was very depressing. We had to address the issue of “berøringsangst,” a Danish term which, in the context of the brief, refers to the fear of talking about death; that sense of awkwardness and anxiety that sometimes prevents us from reaching out, especially to grieving children and adolescents, just because we are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

Turns out that for people who are dealing with a loss, or that are fighting a serious illness, one of the hardest parts of their experience is seeing their friends and family paralysed by fear and going silent, distant and withdrawn. Contrary to what most of us believe, and as Geo eloquently explains in the video below, the worst we can do in this situations is not doing anything at all.

Pretty powerful, isn’t it? I took Geo’s talk as a starting point and from there I started delving into every article I could find on the subject, as well as academic papers and self-help books. The more I read about it, the more I became anxious about my family’s mortality, something that has always haunted me ever since I moved to Europe almost five years ago. Reading stories of really young kids who lost their parents or siblings to an illness or a violent accident was heartbreaking and disturbing, it really made me think how lucky I am and how difficult it should be to confront such situations. The thought is terrifying.

And that was the hardest thing about this brief… having to put yourself on the shoes of those kids for a second, trying to understand what it must feel like to lose your parents at a young age in order to understand how berøringsangst could be addressed. Not an easy task, I tell you. How could I possibly imagine that? No matter how much I read about it, I always felt the ideas I was coming up with were only based in loose assumptions and I don’t think I got to fully discern all the nuances and implications of the issue. It didn’t help that we only had just a couple of days to research, decode that information, conceptualize and execute, but we did our best within our limitations and although I think we could have thought our concepts through a bit more, I also know that’s just the way things are sometimes. We’ll see what happens.

On a positive note, though, I went to Roskilde during the Easter break with Kat and her Dad. It was a lovely, sunny day that we spent looking at viking ships and walking around the Roskilde Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic building where many Danish monarchs are buried and that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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We also spent a few days in the company of little Stevey Wonderful, who brought us hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, just enough calories to keep us walking around town, showing her the city views. It was so nice to see her and I hope she can make it back to Copenhagen in August as she promised.

To top it all off, Kat gave me a Instax Mini as a present! I have been planning to get that camera for a while but she just went ahead and got it for me first so we started using it right away :)

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We now have a little box where we’re storing our photos and I’m sure it won’t be long before we need to find a bigger one…

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April 1

Busy times. Here are the last couple of weeks in review:

I got a new bicycle. Since I got my bike stolen last year, I had been trying to find a dutch-style bicycle with both front and rear hand breaks instead of pedal breaks, which I really hate. I tried every bike shop I could find but they never had what I was looking for until my friend Chris suggested me to try Hr. Velo, a local bikeshop in Frederiksberg that specializes in classic bicycles and special-bulids.

I knew their bikes were going to be more expensive but after a quick visit to their workshop, I realized it was going to be well worth the investment: Friendly staff, plenty of options and helpful advice, all coming together to assist me in the process of choosing the right parts for my shiny new bike, which they put together in less than 3 days. Flawless service.

I passed my first Danish test. Nearly three months after I started taking classes, I took a mandatory test at my language school, which I had to pass to move on to the next module. It only took 10 minutes and, although it was quite simple (5 minutes of conversation about my work and 5 minutes asking questions to my teacher about the characters in a picture from my Danish book), I’m still quite thrilled to have passed.

Just three months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to put together a simple sentence, now I can read a basic text and have a better understanding of what is being said around me. I’m far from being fluent and I still miss 90% of the conversations I hear, but I’m starting to recognize words that I was oblivious to before, and now have a vague idea of what people are talking about. I still have a long way to go but I’m moving forward.

I found an original 1994 copy of “Superunknown”. Last weekend, Kat and I went into a small record shop in Nørrebro, just to see what they had, and as it turns out, hidden somewhere between dozens of second-hand records, there was a 1994 US first pressing of Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” on orange vinyl, in excellent condition after almost 20 years. I texted my friend Ross to asked him if it was worth paying 72$ for it and he texted back saying that if it was an actual first pressing in coloured vinyl, it was definitely a bargain. So I just went ahead and bought it. I’m pretty happy I did.

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Kat and I mixed our books. Some people say this is the ultimate display of affection, even more powerful than marriage. Truth is, we didn’t think about it too much, we just thought organizing our books by colour would be a good idea and decided to go ahead with it. We set our turntable, opened a bottle of champagne and went through all of our books, building colourful piles around us while we listened to a bunch of records we had bought that same afternoon.

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We enjoyed it but it was harder than we expected; after sorting them out by colour, we realized we had to organize them by shades and then figure out how the letters on the spines of the books fit within that system. It also became evident that we have too many beige books (boring) and that we need more yellow and green in our collection. So far, we’re pretty happy with the result but let’s see how we like this idea when we want to locate a book and take us ages to find it.

I was reunited with my copy of Led Zeppelin II. When I moved to Copenhagen a couple of years ago, I had to leave some of my stuff behind and asked my ex-housemates to keep them safe for me until I could pick them up. Amongst those items was a Mexican edition of “Led Zeppelin II” (my favourite Led Zep record) on red vinyl that Jimmy Page got me as a present three years ago, at the Reading Record Fair, during an Easter break. I wrote about it here, in case you’re interested in the full story.

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Yesterday, my friend Latifa arrived from London to spend a few days with us and brought back my record, along with bags of chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, a chocolate bunny and long lasting Ibuprofen tablets. Isn’t she wonderful? I like her a lot and we’re very good friends, which is why I’m really looking forward to have her over. It makes me realize how much I miss my friends and how happy it makes me to see them.

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