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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March 19

A lot has happened yesterday. GOOD STUFF. Some of it I can’t share, but for now, all I can say now is that I had 2 burgers at Tommy’s yesterday, got tickets to Northside, and now have a brand new turntable and a pair of 180W speakers sitting in our living room, waiting to be installed. Things are good and the sun is out…

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March 13

So, I have just been to the optician and they basically said I need to see a proper doctor because my vision is quite fucked up, especially on my right eye, which has gotten much worse over the last few years thanks to a bloody keratoconus. For what I can gather, the only way out is to either start using rigid, gas permeable contact lenses (which I have tried before and couldn’t stand) or have some sort of surgery done (of which I’m really scared of). I guess carrying on with spectacles is an option too, but that wouldn’t really improve my vision and will allow the condition to keep getting worse so I’m afraid I’m gonna need to make an uncomfortable choice soon…

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March 11

Spent all of yesterday at home, either laying in bed or sitting on the couch, dealing with a very annoying back pain. When I left the office on Monday afternoon, I felt a strong prick in the top centre of my back and I knew right away I was in trouble. I got home, took some painkillers and lay in bed, hoping the discomfort would go away but it didn’t; it hurt when I walked, it hurt when I tried to move my head to the sides, it hurt when I was trying to sleep… it just fucking hurt all the time.

I barely got any sleep so I called in sick yesterday and stayed at home, trying to rest my back. I took that as an opportunity to catch up with “Better Call Saul,” which I hadn’t been able to watch since it premiered a few weeks ago. I managed to watch six episodes before Kat came back home, at which point we made a quick brake to watch “Ex on the Beach” (dreadful, I know) and then picked up “House of Cards” where we left it on Monday.

This morning, I stopped at Kaffekilden for breakfast and then to the place where I used to do my physiotherapy for a back massage. I was expecting it to be painful but Aline, the Norwegian girl in charge of my appointment, did a great job at sorting me out without making me suffer. I really appreciate that.

I’m now in the office, feeling a much better, watching live videos of Judas Priest on YouTube and wishing I could be out enjoying the sun. Who knows, maybe I will sneak out and go for a walk. I’m sure you’d do the same if you could…

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March 6

A lot is happening at the moment and, despite knowing things are probably going to be okay, I can’t help but feeling slightly overwhelmed; my brain keeps sending my heart mixed signals, of both fear and hope, and the process of sorting those feelings out is difficult sometimes. I have also been listening to “Comfortably Numb,” which for some reason makes me both melancholic and delighted. No idea why.

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Last Friday, I finally met Dorte, one of Kat’s co-workers, who invited us for dinner at her place. Dorte is 65 and her husband is 72, yet they come across as a joyful, cheeky couple the moment you meet them. They are good fun and they know how to treat their guests.

On Saturday, Kat and I went to check out a Chocolate Festival that sounded much better than it actually was. The venue wasn’t very exciting, the way the stands were setup was a bit confusing, and there were lines of people everywhere. We couldn’t be bothered to stand in line to get tiny pieces of fancy chocolate for free so we decided to try the less crowded exhibitors instead. I had a couple of really nice nougat and milk chocolate bars, a passion-fruit and ginger filled chocolate that was very interesting, an okay tiramisú ice cream, a pretty decent chocolate brownie and took home a couple of chocolate spreads: one with olive oil (which was pretty disgusting) and one of dark, bitter chocolate that was acceptable but certainly nothing to write home about.

Later in the evening, we signed up for a free month of Netflix and started watching “House of Cards” from the beginning. Kat hadn’t seen a single episode and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to watch the first couple of seasons again before jumping into the new one so we stayed in and got five or six episodes out of the way in one sit. Kat likes the series so we will be binging on “House of Cards” for the next couple of weeks.

On Sunday, the weather was so nice that we decided to go for a walk around the Botanical Gardens, a beautiful place I hadn’t visited before. It was nice and quiet. We had a look around the greenhouse and then sat by the little lake for a while, taking up the sun. Copenhagen looks fantastic on days like these.

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We got a bit hungry around noon so decided to try some hotdogs we saw outside Torvehallerne. Now, I’m not a big fan of hot dogs but the “Red Devil” by Pølse Kompagniet is probably the best hotdog I have ever had in my life. Seriously, it was perfect. If you live in Copenhagen, go check it out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

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In the evening, Kat and I went to see Hayseed Dixie play in a shithole, in Kødbyen. The tickets were cheap and we had listened to some of their AC/DC covers so we decided to go check them out, just for the fun of it. The audience was mostly old men with receding hairlines and prominent beer bellies, some teenage rockers, a few girls, and a kid that most have been about 10 years old. Altogether, we were about 200 people on a Sunday night in a shitty venue hidden in a trendy meatpacking district. The right setting for a southern bluegrass cover band to work their magic and win some hearts over with blazing banjo lines and witty, political jokes. It felt like a stand up comedy show by John Wheeler with a few musical intermissions in between, and that combination worked pretty well.

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The band opened with “Hells Bells”, followed shortly after by “Ace of Spades” and “War Pigs.” Needless to say, they got me in their pockets right from the beginning. From there it only got better: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Paranoid,” “Highway to Hell,” “Hotel California” and, surprisingly, a really nice version of “Clandestino” by Manu Chao.

If it wasn’t because I had to wake up relatively early today to go to work, I think we would have stayed after the show and buy the band some beers. They were unpretentious, funny, and truly friendly with their audience. You simply don’t get to see that very often…

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February 25

My back has been hurting lately and I have been feeling a bit stiff despite working out a couple of times a week in the gym, so I have decided to start stretching for 30 minutes in the morning, following a YouTube tutorial, to see if it helps. I After a few minutes, it became evident that my muscles are in worse than I initially expected to be; my flexibility has been considerably reduced and the range of motion of certain joints is well under average, possibly as a consequence of the knee injury I suffered in 2012 and the sedentary lifestyle it imposed during the following years.

As I went through the video this morning, sitting on Kat’s yoga mat, I kept thinking to myself: “I can’t fucking do that!”. Every exercise was a painful reminder of the price you pay when you don’t take rehab seriously. It was quite frustrating and a bit scary. My body is REALLY tight, and not in a nice way…

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I just discovered Love Letters from Craig, a project by Cartelle Interactive Arts:

‘love letters from craig’ is a romantic exploration into the perversions of modern-day digital hookups. The narrator reads aloud personal ads from anonymous people seeking love & affection on the internet. The contents are not moderated and completely automated, only enhanced by sensual porno beats and tasty, sexy visuals. Content is scraped hourly from Craigslist casual encounters.

Brilliant.

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February 24

Today, on my way to work, I started reading “Do Improvise” by Robert Poynton, a book by The Do Book Co. which explores the power of improvisation, a natural human process that has creativity and innovation at its core. On the second page, there was this:

The unexpected is our constant companion. Blind alleys, unheralded turns and serendipitous connections are everyday stuff. However hard we work to avoid it, we are constantly accosted by things we didn’t plan for, from a puncture to a deflating economy. Life is a whirling torrent for which nobody has a script.

Nothing new, I know, but it just tied in nicely with yesterday’s post. It made me smile and gave me a little pat of encouragement that I certainly welcomed.

And then there was this post by Rob Cambell, a guy I have never met but for whom I feel genuine empathy and admiration. He’s brilliantly insightful and funny, and his observations always make me pause to think about stuff I have never pondered before. I wish he knew how much I appreciate reading his opinionated musings, especially the ones in which he (willingly or not) makes himself vulnerable, it’s humbling and inspiring.

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My friend Ross is in Australia touring with Soundgarden and I can’t help but feeling tremendous jealousy for all the bloody Aussies who are getting to see the band live this year. I Skyped a very jetlagged Ross last night at 4am, Australian time, and he told me Soundgarden is sounding fantastic, as you would expect. I have seen them four times in the last couple of years (including a front row show in Copenhagen and the first-class photo-pit experience last year when they opened for Black Sabbath in Berlin) and and they have been absolutely outstanding every single time.

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If you are into Soundgarden, or music in general, make sure to follow Ross on Instagram, he’s posting some really sweet shots there: https://instagram.com/rosshalfin

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February 23

Last week was strange. A couple of things happened and, although they aren’t terribly serious, they somehow managed to bring us down a bit. They also changed some of our plans and I have to admit I’m struggling to let go some of them, which I was really looking forward to. But then again, that’s just the way it is, isn’t it? It’s always hard to deal with change, or to enforce it in order to make things better. It’s fucking hard work but we will power through and, in the end, I’m sure we will look back and realize it was all totally worth it.

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After thinking about it for a while, I finally decided to try my luck with collage. I have always been fascinated with the idea of taking existing material and re-contextualize it to create something else entirely. I also like the idea of hunting for the right image, to have a mental to-do list of visuals that might be useful later; it will give me a reason to start collecting something and keep me on the lookout for nice textures and graphics whenever I find myself browsing through piles of old newspapers, magazines, photographs and books at flea markets and vintage shops, something that up until this point I have done only out of pure curiosity. The fact that I can finally use all the unsolicited free magazines that get delivered at work is a plus, too.

I will approach this with an open mind and low expectations, and I have promised not to be too hard on myself, at least at the beginning. I want to enjoy the destructive process of construction and to have fun thinking of unexpected ways to combine the pieces I find, while trying to make the most out of the limitations that collage naturally imposes. It’s a creative exercise that will not only will require some brain power but also demand a lot of patience, both of which I seem to be lacking at the moment.

The results I will probably keep to myself but I’m gonna try to keep track of my learning experience and once I have a decent amount of pieces done, maybe I will post my favorites here along with my notes. Who knows, maybe someone else will enjoy them, too.

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February 9

Half the office is away on holidays and I’m here at my desk, watching videos of AC/DC live at River Plate on YouTube, barely able to contain my excitement about the upcoming tour and the fact that, after so many years, I might finally get the chance to see them. Twice, maybe three times if I manage to score a ticket for that Madrid show that sell out within an hour. Kat and I will be in town anyways so I guess it would be just a matter of going to the venue a few hours before the show and see if I can find someone reselling their tickets. It’s a long shot but I will give it a try.

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Last night we watched “Pitch Perfect”, a movie Kat sold me as a “musical” and that I agreed to watch with trepidation. As it turns out, the film is actually pretty funny and we found ourselves singing, dancing and laughing quite a few times. We also spent most of the movie marvelling at Anna Kendrick’s fantastic boobs, which seem surprisingly big for a girl of such small frame. We both have a crush on her…

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