Tag Archives: books

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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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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January 6

After almost 30 hours flying, hanging out in airports waiting for connecting flights and dealing with crying babies, I’m finally back in Copenhagen after spending two weeks back in Venezuela visiting my family. It’s a strange feeling, it always is. On one hand, it’s fantastic to see my parents, my sister, my auntie and my little niece and get to spend time with them, especially after being away for an entire year, but saying goodbye… that’s tough and never gets easy. I really, really hate it.

However, this time around there was a slight difference: instead of going back to Europe, to a rented room in some random house with a random housemate, I came back to Kat. For the first time since I moved abroad, I had the feeling that I was leaving home to go back home and that, my friends, is a wonderful thing. It was good to see Kat waiting at the airport, bringing back presents for her from my family, having dinner together and talking about my trip. It was good to see the home improvements she had kindly done while I was away, getting things ready for my comeback. That feeling, that sense of belonging that comes with these sort of situations, has made this particular part of my trip much better.

While I was back in Venezuela, I decided to focus most of my time on my family, as you would expect. Having our phone line and internet connection down for an entire week definitely helped me stay offline and facilitated a joyful reunion between me and my kindle books (managed to finish “The Dirt” (the Motley Crue autobiography), “The Heroin Diaries”, and even got halfway through “The Back Road”, an exciting thriller by Rachel Abbott which I bought on sale for £1 on Amazon) but, as a consequence, I failed to write the classic end-of-the-year blog post so I might as well do that now, for nostalgia’s sake.

Let’s see:

2014 was a terrific year, probably the best I have had since moving abroad. There are many reasons for it but here are the highlights:

1. I met Kat on the fifth of a series of Tinder dates I had back in April. It was totally unexpected and yes, it all escalated pretty quickly, but meeting her has changed everything for better and I’m very happy we both gave Tinder a shot. I had my reservations and I actually deleted the app at some point, then tried it again out of curiosity and look where we are now…

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2. I got to travel. Last year I went to Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Reykjavik, Bergen, London, Brighton, Møn and got to spend 2 weeks in Venezuela with my family. Not bad for a working class hero.

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3. I saw plenty of concerts. The list is long considering I attended quite a few festivals but The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, St. Vincent, EELS, Iron Maiden, Phil Anselmo & The Illegals, Rob Zombie, and NIN are at the top of my list. So are Soundgarden and Black Sabbath, who I got to see together from the photo pit/side of the stage with Ross back in June. Bonus points for meeting Phil Anselmo at Roskilde and Joe Perry in Berlin, too. The only thing I regret is not having stayed in Berlin to catch Aerosmith on tour, I had a backstage pass and a couch in Ross’ room waiting for me and yet I refused to stay because I had to work. What the fuck was I thinking?

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4. I got to see some of my dearest friends. Ann-Christine visited in February, Kate in April, Rebeca and Sarah visited in May and so did Rafa (whom I later met again in Barcelona and Madrid), hung out with Ricky and Felix in Berlin, then saw all my mates from Madrid when Kat and I went to see the EELS and a again a couple of weeks ago on my way home, saw Kleber and Luisana in Barcelona, spent my birthday with Katrin and Brini in Iceland, Christian visited in August, caught up with my friends in England in September, and just now I spent some time with Ram and some other friends in Barquisimeto. As much as I like my life in Copenhagen, I do miss my friends so getting the chance to see some of them regularly really balance things up for me a bit.

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I probably would find more if I start going through every single blog post but off the top of my head, those four things make up for fantastic year that’s going to be hard to beat. But hey, who knows? Maybe 2015 will make 2014 its bitch. I would definitely like to see that.

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December 17

I had my second Danish class yesterday and although I fucked up twice when asked by the teacher to answer a question from the book on the spot, I’d say things are going relatively ok. I can understand *very* basic texts using *very* simple words put together in a *very* straightforward sentence structure BUT at least I understand a bit more than I used to a week ago. I can also count to 20 and my vocabulary is now composed of about 50 words, maybe a little more. That’s progress.

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It’s Kat’s birthday today. I spent an hour last night trying to properly wrap a couple of presents and writing her birthday card, all of which I handed gleefully to her this morning along with a hot cup of tea. I knew she was going to like one of the presents as it was a personal request she had made a while ago but I was a bit worried she wouldn’t like the one present she hadn’t asked for: a book that compiles all the issues of an infamous British fanzine published between 1987 to 1990, which offered a mix of experimental film and book reviews, true crime novels, wild music, interviews with icons of cult cinema and adult entertainment, weird cartoons and cutting-edge art.

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I saw the book when we were in Brighton but couldn’t buy it then because she would have inevitably seen it so I just waited until we were back in Copenhagen, bought it online and kept it secret along with the rest of her presents, including the Christmas gifts I will give her before I head home on Saturday. Today, I finally handed the book and I think she liked it. She actually spent a few minutes browsing through the first pages and found a few things she thought were interesting, so hopefully she will enjoy it once she delves into it.

As a side note, we just got tickets for AC/DC in Roskilde! Hooray!

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October 21

I just bought “Life After Death”, the Damien Echols book about his time in prison. I’m not sure I will enjoy reading about all the abuse by prison wards and the horrifying living conditions in death row, but I’m interested in knowing more about how he managed to stay sane while incarcerated for almost twenty years. I suspect this will be more depressing than uplifting but I will give it a shot; worst case scenario, I will leave it unfinished and add it to my growing list of half-read books, which now include “The Thrill Of It All”, “The Illustrated Man”, and “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution”.

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A couple of pictures from Podio‘s “Lightning Talks”, which took place last week. Funny how of all the slides I presented, I got a picture taken in front of the girl doing cocaine. Oh well…

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Yes, we look stoned. No, we were not.

Yes, we look stoned. No, we were not.

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September 9

After a really long Thursday going back to London from Brighton, picking up a suitcase at my ex-house in Harringey, grabbing lunch at my favourite Turkish restaurant in Green Lanes and then going for a walk around Soho with a short stop for cake at Princi, we headed to Gatwick and flew to Copenhagen at 8:45pm, arriving home near midnight. Well tired. 

The good thing was that the day after was Friday, which means I basically had a one week holiday from which I came back only to jump straight into a weekend. Brilliant. I bought home two packs of hot cross buns, 2 bags of Cadbury’s mini chocolate fingers and three packs of McVitie’s milk chocolate Digestives, which I have been devouring at home and in the office since I got back. I have also been watching the last two seasons of Misfits with Kat and although we are not convinced, I think we will push through and finish the damn thing, just to see what happens in the end. 

Apart from eating sweets and watching old series, I have also started reading “It’s Not Me, It’s You!” by Jon Richardson, a book that Kat lent me a couple of days ago. I’m really enjoying it so far, mostly because quietly laugh about his nonsense compulsive habits but I often find myself thinking: “wow, it must be really sad to live such life.” Then I remember he’s probably making a decent amount of money from the book, his stand up and all his weirdness and everything is ok again.

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Yesterday, Anna and I met up with some cool guys who seem to be really interested in developing this little game idea I came up with a while ago. Things seem to be coming together and if we are lucky and everything runs smoothly, we might get it done by the first quarter of 2015. Fingers crossed.

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April 3

Last night I met with Laetitia and Anne, two French girls I got in touch with through Couchsurfing. They requested to stay at my place but I normally don’t host – I find it quite stressing – so I politely declined and instead I offered to meet them and show them around once they were in town. They arrived at 5pm and checked-in at the Generator Hostel, where my friend Carlos is currently working (he actually checked them in, funnily enough), met them around 6pm and took them to The Living Room for a drink, then to Greasy Spoon for a burger and then back to the hostel for one last beer before heading home, just around midnight.

It was really nice to meet them (Laetitia has the most amazing eyes!) and they seemed to have enjoyed the two places I took them to so we agreed to meet up again before Saturday, when they will be catching a flight to Dublin. Today I’m suppose to meet Olga, who I haven’t seen in quite a few months and then I will be joining Carlos, Jana and two of her girlfriends who are visiting for a few drinks, which means we will probably end up at The Union, drinking wonderful cocktails and dancing to some old school rock and roll. We will have to wait and see what the night brings.

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Alain de Botton just posted this on Twitter, I think it’s genius.

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He’s a thoughtful character, isn’t he? I love his writing, especially “A Week At The Airport – A Heathrow Diary”, a book I really enjoyed and that anyone who loves to travel (who doesn’t?) and it’s passionate about human relationships should read. Having said that, though, I must admit that the book brings some memories that make me feel a bit foolish but hey, that’s an entirely different story…

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October 26

I just lent my very own copy of “Things The Grandchildren Should Know” to a girl; I didn’t buy her a copy or recommended her to get one, no. I gave her MY book and that could only mean one thing: I’m about to get in trouble. I should have learnt my lesson by now but current events show otherwise. I hate this feeling. On one hand, I know I should back off, take it easy and handle this with care but on the other hand, I despise the whole “once bitten, twice shy” attitude towards life, and reason it’s not really my forte so I guess I have no other choice but to carry on and see what happens.

Oh boy, here we go again…

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September 15

Last night I discovered that an empty soda can on the road has the potential to knock you off your bike in a matter of seconds. Somehow, I managed to ride over it and the little bitch got stuck on my front wheel, made an awful noise and then stopped the wheel all of a sudden, which resulted in me flying over my bike and landing on the ground not sure of what the hell happened. It was nothing serious, really. Actually, it was a very minor incident if you compare it with my bike accident last year; it just took me a minute to take the can out of my wheel, put the handle bars back into place, and get on my bike again to cycle to this crazy party that was held at TietgenKollegiet, easily the most amazing student house I’ve ever seen.

My friend Vilde, a Norwegian girl I met through a friend’s girlfriend, told me she had plans to go to the Danish Oktoberfest so I went to her house, only to find her and another Norwegian girl called Marte, drinking champagne and dancing in the living room to various songs. We were later joined by Jennifer, a Swedish girl who brought with her an extra bottle of champagne, just in case. A couple of hours later, we were still in the house, discussing what was uglier: penises or vaginas. I, of course, defended vaginas with my life, not only because I’m straight but also because I truly believe female genitalia is way better-looking that its male counterpart. A smooth, puffy, self-contained vulva is simply nicer that some veiny sausage hanging from your waist. Period.

As we argued over such critical issues, our plans to go to Oktoberfest slowly faded away. Once the champagne was over, I bought some beers and just around midnight we headed to this student party, relatively close to where I live. There were probably 200 people in there, most of them well advance in their intoxication process. I went to the bar to get a drink and was told no cards were accepted, which was a major bummer as I didn’t have any cash on me and no ATM could be found around the dorm. I lost Jennifer and Marte, too. One second we were dancing and chatting, the next second they were gone. It must have happened when I turned around to ogle at some chicks dancing next to me. Oh well.

I stood there for a while, not knowing exactly what to do; everyone was way drunker than I was, I couldn’t buy any drinks, and I couldn’t be bothered to approach anyone. I had a strange feeling of inadequacy that ultimately urged me to leave. I’m not sure if it was the age difference, the lack of alcohol, or me simply being a peevish little fuck. Maybe I was a bit intimidated, I don’t know. I suppose I should have tried to enjoy myself a bit more last night but in the end I just went outside, unlocked my bike and just when I was about to take off, a Spanish girl tripped over my bike wheel and fell over, quite dramatically. I asked her if she was OK and she humorously nodded, unable to stop laughing. It was a funny incident. We chatted for a few minutes and then I finally left the party, riding through the empty streets of rainy Copenhagen, feeling awkward and dull.

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Today I was going through Brené Brown’s “The Gifts Of Imperfection” and came across this on page 80: “Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times, we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.” – That last sentence made me think about my sudden escape from the party last night.

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There’s a flea market/neighbourhood party in my street, just in front of my building. I went to have a look and found a nice winter jacket for 100kr (a bargain!), which I think might come handy very soon. A few minutes ago, someone was playing The Beatles songs very loudly (a good thing) but now there is a girl with a guitar outside, entertaining the audience as they browse through second-hand stuff on a cloudy Sunday. I really like Copenhagen when I find myself in the middle of this kind of affairs.

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September 8

Sunday morning, 9am. I’m at Sort Kaffe og Vinyl writing today’s entry on a Word document because there’s no wifi here. Not that it needs it, really; there’s plenty of good music, top notch coffee and great pastry to keep you entertained for a while so it’s alright. I’ve been here every day since I lost my job a week ago and I’ve discovered how much I love to pop by every morning, order a capuccino and a cinnamon roll, and sit inside to read a book for a couple of hours. Sometimes, if it’s really sunny, I rather sit outside and just enjoy the warmth and beauty of a crispy Summerish day. It’s perfect. When I’m in this place, I really don’t miss London at all, go figure.

Yesterday I woke up early, went for a coffee, came back home to pack some books and a couple of bananas, and then cycled to Amager Strandpark. The weather was relatively good so I thought it would be a nice idea to have a little beach day. Now, Danish beaches are nothing like the French Riviera but there is sand and sun and deep blue water to look at so for an hour or so, that’s usually enough for me. Pretty close to where I sat there was a couple: white guy, probably Danish, and a black girl I’m almost sure was Brazilian. The guy took off his shirt and trousers, got a short on, and laid in the sun, just like everyone else. The girl, however, took her shirt off to reveal a pair of big breasts that could barely be restrained by her bikini top, got her sunglasses on, pull out an iPad and spent twenty minutes taking pictures of herself in every single pose known to man: with sunglasses, without sunglasses, with the sea behind her, with the sky behind her, duckface, big smile, shy smile, looking at the horizon, pretending to be distracted, squeezing her boobs a little bit, laying on her partner’s tummy, face up and holding the iPad from above, squeezing her boobs just a little bit more, looking serious, looking excited, with a hat, and then, ten minutes later, she was finally done. With the upper side of her body, that is.

A series of pictures of her legs came shortly after: both legs fully extended on the sand, then some classic hot dog leg shots, legs crossed (she, of course, tried both combinations), then just the tippy toes, then showing a little bit of the bottom part of her bikini, then holding the iPad from the top of her head hoping to get a full body shot, I guess. She went on and on and on, setting the timer of the camera and then waiting for 10 seconds while her iPad beeped loudly to let her know when to exactly strike a killer pose. It was bewildering.

After 45 minutes or so, it started to get a bit windy so I decided to take off.  My friend Diyana had told me there was a wakeboarding competition going on in the canal so I decided to pop by and see what it was all about. Got there and well, I couldn’t see anything, it was packed. And whatever I could see on the screens was boring so I went to Burger King, grabbed a bite and then headed to Ørstedsparken instead, hoping to find some peaceful spot to read a book I’ve been trying to get into for a couple of months now: The Happiness Paradox by Ziyad Marar, which basically “challenges the conventional search for happiness, while suggesting a bolder way to live with one of the central paradoxes of our time.”

I cycled around the park and finally found a sunny spot I liked. I laid on the grass, got my book out and started reading but I couldn’t get past the third page, my head was somewhere else. A group of people nearby were practicing a coreography set to the melody of “Call Me Maybe,” which they were playing very loud and repeatedly, and that was certainly a distraction, but there was something else bothering me so in the end I just decided to pack my stuff and went back home. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching EELS interviews, episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and an assortment of short films until it was time to hit the sack, just around midnight.

It’s now 10am and my cup of coffee is long gone so I think I’m gonna head back home to post this and listen to “Blinking Lights and Other Revelations”. I finished “Things The Grandchildren Should Know” yesterday so I really fancy going through that particular record today, while the story behind it is fresh in my head. After a second read, I can still say it’s a wonderful, inspiring and terribly humbling book so do yourself a favour, gentle reader, and grab a copy today. You’re gonna love it if you give it a try.

[ Listened to: EELS – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations ]

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