Tag Archives: Denmark

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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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.

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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 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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January 27

It just hit me last night… I have been in Denmark for two years already. Well, two years and two days, exactly. I remember flying out of London on January 25, in the late afternoon, and arriving to a very cold and dark Copenhagen in the evening, half excited about the idea of moving somewhere new and half scared at the possibility of failure in a place that was -and still is in a way- very different to anything I had experienced before; from the culture and the language to the scale of the city, the weather and the social dynamics, Denmark was so unfamiliar to me that, apart from expecting to be surrounded by beautiful blondes at all times (I was right), I don’t even remember having any concrete expectations at all.

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Two years and two days have passed since and, although there have certainly been some rough patches along the way, I have to say that moving to Copenhagen has been a fantastic experience, well worth of every single lonely night I spent at home, hiding from the cold, wishing I was back in London with my friends.

It has been tough -Denmark can really be a bitch sometimes- and every now and then I still miss parts of my life in England, but things are better than they have ever been in a good while and a sense of belonging is finally developing, after all these years. Yes, it has taken me a while to get here, broken bones and all, but that’s ok. You know what they say…

I might not be in a band but I sure feel like I’m rocking.

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December 19

Great, I lost my phone today on my way to work. Just exactly what I needed to deal with before flying home tomorrow.

I got off the bus and by the time I realized I didn’t have my phone with me, it was too late; I tried to run after the bus but we, humans, are not fast enough to catch a bus that is four blocks ahead of us. Not even Usain Bolt. Kat has already called the bus company but they haven’t found anything yet and she has also tried to call my phone but no one picks up.

I really doubt we’ll find it, especially because is a relatively new iPhone but hey, this is Denmark, miracles could happen…

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December 16

“So, how did the Christmas party go?” I hear you asking. Well, dear curious reader, I’m happy to inform you that our 80s themed Christmas bash went well, with most of my co-workers making a decent effort to dress up for the occasion. There was an Indiana Jones, a Mr. T, a hair metal band dude; a very convincing Maverick (Top Gun) played by Mette, who dressed up in a pilot’s suit and walked around the office while the film’s theme song played through a wireless speaker hidden inside her bespoke helmet; and then there was me in (almost) full Run DMC outfit. As you can see, my beard could have been better but hey, it still did the job.

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I left around midnight but I heard the party went on until five in the morning, with some of my co-workers actually passing out in the stairs of the building and others deciding to crash on a couch in the office until the morning after. It’s always like that. Last year, one of the guys working in the office got too sleepy halfway through the party and decided to have a nap in the toilet. He woke up at 4am, just when the last guys where about to lock the door and leave the office, following a series of missed phone calls from his son (who also works in the agency) who was desperately trying to find out where the fuck was he. Typical Danish Christmas party behaviour.

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We’re starting to plan our summer holidays and it seems that next year we’ll be heading to Croatia. Kat and I had talked about going somewhere warm, ideally on the seaside, and we both have heard really positive comments about Croatia, which apparently is not only stunning but quite affordable, so in the end that’s what I think we’ll do. The basic plan is to fly to Split and from there, take a bus or a ferry to some of the surrounding islands. I really can’t wait.

To top it all off, AC/DC has finally announced their European tour and I have decided to go see them in Paris, Madrid and Roskilde. Although Kat is only attending the show in Denmark, she’ll be joining me on my mini rock tour, which is fantastic. We both like Madrid, and she’s really excited to show me her favourite spots in Paris, a place she knows quite well, as her mum used to live there a while ago. We have already booked our flights and we’re just waiting for the tickets to go on sale this week. I think we will have an amazing time.

Oh! And speaking of AC/DC… on Sunday, while I was studying Danish in the living room, I heard the sound of a guitar coming out of the kitchen. I walked there and what did I find? Kat, listening to “Thunderstruck”, while making us blueberries and Nutella pancakes. She just blows my mind, every time. My friends say I should put a ring on her, and you know what? I think they’re right.

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