Tag Archives: me and my friends

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hardest parts of their experience is seeing their friends and family paralysed by fear and going silent, distant and withdrawn.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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January 26

Last week was packed with work and Danish classes so it’s only now that I’m able to write about our short trip to London. Let’s see:

Despite the weather forecast for last weekend, which predicted mostly rain, the sun shone and made our visit much more enjoyable. There was a minor snowfall on Saturday morning, just when we decided to go for a walk around Hampstead Heath but that only lasted about four minutes and then it was back to relatively clear and sunny skies, just the way I like it.

This time around, there was not a single spare room available at my friend’s flats so we decided to rent one through Airbnb. I was aware of the service, of course, but I had never used before so it was good to experience first hand the beauty of the “share economy.” Accommodation in London is expensive so prices were not particularly cheap but we paid probably the same we would have paid if we had decided to stay in some shitty hostel and in return we got a nice and clean room in a flat on Finsbury Park Avenue, very close to the big Sainsbury’s on Green Lanes, with both Tube and Overground stations within walking distance and quite close to where most of my friends live. Apart from the shower lacking a bit of power and the bed being a tad small for two people, I’d say our overall experience was pretty good.

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On Friday night, after we dropped our bags, we met Maria Chiara and Latifa (and later, Anna) for dinner at Gokyuzu, my favourite Turkish restaurant. As always, the food was fantastic, so much so that it almost brought tears of joy to my eyes. I fucking love that place. After dinner, we went to Jam in the Jar, a small cafe/bar on Green Lanes selling cheap booze and where a random band was playing reggae tunes. It was packed when we arrived but we managed to score a table with a couple of chairs and we squeezed in there and stayed until 2am, talking nonsense and drinking beer.

The morning after, we went for breakfast at Sketch, a pretty stylish place off Regent Street, which has probably one of the best hot chocolate on the face of the Earth. I remember being there for the first time in 2012, on a “chocolate tour” organized by a girl who was looking for a new tour guide so she invited me to join her to see what it was all about. The tour started with a cup of hot chocolate at Sketch and since that day, I had been wanting to come back for more. Three years later, I finally did and was not disappointed.

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After Sketch, we did a bit of shopping around Oxford Street, checked out Ross’ exhibition at The Great Frog, looked for Bob Marley’s blue plaque near Goodge Street station and then headed towards Embankment to walk along the Southbank, one of my favourite things to do in London. As always, it was crowded with tourists but the view there is always amazing and the place just brings me good memories. I used to go there quite often and just standing there, next to the Thames, surrounded by the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye and the Waterloo Bridge… it just made me feel lucky to be there, every single time.

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We sat on a bench for a while, took a few pictures, and then headed back to the city to do a bit more shopping before going home for a short nap. At 8pm, we met up with my friend Ernesto, his girlfriend and another friend for dinner at a new placed that opened up in Green Lanes: it’s called Bar&Buns and it is amazing. Probably the best burgers I have had in London, very similar to the fantastic Icelandic burgers that Tommi’s provide us with here in Copenhagen. When I used to live in Green Lanes, there was nothing; now that I have moved away, there are bars and cool places popping up everywhere! Bastards.

We finished our dinner and took a bus to Dalston to meet Rebeca, Ann-Christine and other friends at The Haggerston, a hipster bar I used to go to every now and then. Now, I know most places in London are full of annoying, drunk people but that night, The Haggerston was on fire. Fucking hell, what a pain in the arse. It started ok but after half an hour, we had a couple of guys hitting on my girlfriends, approaching them with pick-up lines like “Hey, you have a nice bum” and “Hi, I just want to let you know that I’m here.” It was embarrassing.

One guy in particular wouldn’t leave us alone and kept forcing himself into our conversation, asking Kat and the rest of the girls where were they from and what were they doing in London. Kat told him they were Bulgarian triplets who were in town with a circus, working as acrobats, but he didn’t quite buy into it. He just kept annoying the shit out of us until Ann-Christine pretty much told him to fuck off. Shortly after, some random dude who was clearly out of his mind, high on God-knows-what, came to me and spend five minutes complementing my sweater. He kept shaking my hand, telling me it was much better than the turtle neck of the same colour that he owned. As if I gave a shit.

At 2:30am, we decided we had enough of the Dalston loonies so we said goodbye to our friends and took a cab home. The cabbie asked us where were we from and what we were doing in London, and when we told him we were a couple that had met through Tinder, he just couldn’t believe it. It was as if a new world of possibilities had been revealed in front of his eyes. In theory, he wouldn’t be able to do much about it unless he was willing to have an affair behind his wife’s back but still, he was fascinated by the story of two strangers falling in love after meeting each other through a mobile app. He even asked us to invite him to our wedding, go figure.

On Sunday, we met up with Oli for brunch at Princi (and when I say brunch I mean cake), and then walked to Herman ze German for currywurst. We had seen Oli in September but we really hadn’t had the chance to catch up properly so this time we made sure to meet up with a bit more time to chat. Oliver gave me a bag full of presents, including a brand new Ross Halfin t-shirt, a set of Led Zeppelin napkins from one of last year’s Led Zep re-issues listening parties, a belated Christmas card and a mint copy of Ian Hunter’s “Ian Hunter” vinyl, which Ross got for me in Los Angeles last year. Very nice of them.

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We said goodbye to Oli and, ten minutes later, we said hello to Latifa, who was kind enough to meet us again for tea at Yumchaa. It was lovely to see her again, she makes me laugh so much. I really miss her, she’s witty and always fun to be around. Can’t wait to have her over sometime this year.

After Yumchaa, we took the Tube to Victoria, then a train to Gatwick and from there a plane back to Copenhagen, bringing our London weekend trip to an end. We had so much fun that we have already booked tickets to go back in Easter. We’re quite looking forward to it…

 

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January 12

Back in July last year, Kat and I moved in together but we never got to throw a proper housewarming party at the time so we decided to get that out of the way this weekend and invited some friends over for drinks at our place. I think it was the first time that some of Kat’s friends were together in the same room with some of mine, and despite a silly late-night drunken incident involving a DIY garlic bread, a great time was had by all.

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Some of our friends didn’t make it to the party, possibly because of the stupid transvestite storm that hit us over the weekend (it was given a female name on the first day and a male name on the second day – that’s progressive Denmark for you all), but those who made it to our home gave us flowers, a bottle of fine Cuban rum, a couple of bottles of wine, a pair of salt & pepper shakers we liked, and a picture framing fund to take care of some posters we have at home. All very nice. The next morning, after doing a quick clean up of the apartment, Kat and I went for coffee and pastries at a café in Nørrebro and then popped in El Giganten to get that new TV we had been talking about for the last couple of months.

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We figured that if we are spending so much time in front of the telly watching series on HBO most evenings, we might as well give ourselves an upgrade so, after much consideration, comparing features and prices and users reviews, we finally agreed on an LG 55-inch full HD LCD TV that might be just a little bit too big; its name is Alberto and it barely fits on the cabinet we used to have our old TV on. If it was one centimeter bigger, we probably would be looking at new cabinets as we speak.

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As with every piece of electronic equipment we buy, the set up process didn’t go as smoothly as it should have and we still haven’t been able to find out how to make the antenna signal work but we hook it up to my laptop and our surround sound and spent the rest of the day watching episodes of “Masters of Sex,” a series we liked at the beginning but that we’re feeling a bit meh about it now that we’re close to finish the second season. To be honest, if it wasn’t for all the exposed breasts featured throughout the series, I would have probably given up on it a while ago.

But with Alberto on our side, standing proud in our living room, we will power through and finish what we started. We will not give up and we will not surrender. Our time is now.

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I just came across a wonderful piece of wisdom, which I recommend you to read: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.” 

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Despite the loose use of the word “fuck,” which is featured 127 times throughout the article, the author makes a really valid point in an very amusing way and considering the new year has just begun, I’d suggest you to reconsider your fuck-giving policy and follow the advice of Mr. Mark Makson (whoever the fuck he is) and start reserving your fucks for the really fuckworthy situations in life.

After you read the article, I think you would agree with me that it’s indeed worth trying.

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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 8

I might have failed to keep up with the diary these days but that doesn’t mean good things haven’t happened lately. On Friday, Kat and I joined Carlos and Marisa at the opening of my friend Geoffrey’s new bar, Balderdash, and were treated to glasses of champagne and a fine rum punch, while waves of joyful people kept flooding into the space, keen to see what Geoffrey had been up to since he left The Union. The result? Well, if you live in Copenhagen, you better check it out for yourself. If you live somewhere else and you’re still curious to know what Balderdash is all about, then head to their website and have a look, I’m sure you’ll wish you were here to pay it a visit.

That same evening, before going to Balderdash, Kat’s parents invited us for a traditional Danish Christmas dinner, which included Flæskesteg (a glorious roast pork), potatoes, red cabbage and gravy, all perfectly cooked. For dessert, we had rice pudding with whipped cream, almonds and hot cherry sauce; I have no idea how this dessert is called but it was fantastic and I helped myself to two bowls, enjoying every spoonful of it. As if this wasn’t enough, Kat’s mum gave me Christmas presents! She got me a coffee maker and a coffee grinder, and the day after, Kat’s Dad surprised me with a set of electrical drills and accessories which are going to come in handy as Kat and I will most likely keep buying stuff to hang on our home’s walls.

Over the weekend, we also took the time to go around town, looking at second-hand shops and Christmas markets, eating 10-kroner soups, cakes, catching up with Sonic Highways, and watching season 1 of Masters of Sex, which we started last week. Kat likes Boardwalk Empire a bit better but we’re sticking to the former until we finish season one, then we’ll probably consider whether to go ahead with season two or change back to Boardwalk Empire, which we left halfway through the first season. We’ll see.

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It’s been 10 years since Dimebag got fatally shot on stage at the Alrosa Village, today. Very sad. I should have worn my Vulgar Display of Power t-shirt this morning…

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chj1T0uvx6s]

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November 19

Last Sunday, Kat and I went to see “I Kælderen,” a documentary by Ulrich Seidl showing a range of Austrian weirdoes doing crazy shit in their basements: a brass-player with a disturbing fascination with Hitler and the Nazi movement, a very odd old woman obsessed with plastic baby dolls, a shooting range owner who dreams of being an opera singer, a guy who keeps a massive snake in a glass tank, an old masochist woman who who enjoys being spanked with Toys R’ Us racquets (and with anything else, really), a guy who believes the power of his ejaculation makes prostitutes fall in love with him; and a dominatrix who keeps a big, hairy, bald naked man as her “love” slave, forcing him to lick her vagina after she pees and makes him wear 1Kg weights hanging from his testicles, among other things.

Strangely enough, some moments were actually funny but for the most part,”I Kælderen” is just plain disturbing. At some point, I found myself covering my eyes (along with half of the audience), not being able to bring myself to see that sex slave have his balls pulled up by a hook attached to a rope hanging from the ceiling while he laid flat on his back, tighten up on a table. Fucking unnerving. However, the documentary is beautifully shot and once you get past the weirdness of the characters involved, it really stands as a very well crafted piece of film.

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I signed up for gym membership on Monday and actually managed to go yesterday after work, which is an accomplishment in itself. I only did 30 minutes of cardio but nevermind that, I went to the gym! I normally don’t like gymnasiums, they are smelly and noisy and full of people that seem to be more concerned about which pose to strike in front of the mirror than actually getting any exercise done but this gym I have signed up for is different, or at least it seemed like it yesterday. It was still smelly, yes, but there wasn’t any loud techno music, no muscular guys screaming every time they lift a weight and in general, people were focused on their training routines. I liked that.

The idea is to go with my friend Carlos (who seem to be obsessed with exercising these days) two or three times a week, mostly to work on my physiotherapy but also to do some cardio and maybe, just maybe, work on my core a little bit. We’ll see about that.

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November 14

Kat and I went yesterday to see “Messi,” a fantastic film by Álex de la Iglesia documenting Lionel’s life from childhood to international stardom. I must admit, I’m not a Messi fan and I don’t follow football that much these days but I’m so glad Kat took me to see the documentary because I really, really enjoyed. What I liked the most about “Messi” was the format: a mix of testimonials, reenactments of some of Lionel’s crucial moments, rare footage and live action sequences, all nicely put together to tell one hell of a story.

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I particularly liked the idea of getting Messi’s childhood friends, school teachers, teammates, technical directors, trainers and some biographers and journalists, all together in one dining room, to share stories and opinions about Lionel. That and a funny quote from one of the journalists, I think, who put in perspective the usual comparison between Maradona and Messi by saying something like: “Messi is the Argentinian we (Argentinians) all would like to be, and Maradona is just the Argentinian that we are.” I thought that was brilliant.

Off tonight to see “Super Duper Alice Cooper” (recommended by one of my co-workers who is a big Alice Cooper fan) and then possibly to get some drinks with my friend Carlos, who’s having his graduation dinner tonight and just texted me saying he is in the mood to get drunk. Oh, kids these days, they all just want to get wasted…

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November 10

Things are shaking up a bit. It’s mostly work-related stuff and I’m probably overreacting to it but it still makes me anxious and puts my brain in overdrive. I hate when that happens.

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Kat and I went to see three films during the first week of CPH:DOX and I have to say, most of them were very disappointing, especially one entitled “iPhoneChina”, which had a rather interesting premise: If Apple were a state, would you rather want to live in Apple or in China? I was curious to find out how the filmmaker had decided to develop that idea and what I found was a slightly pretentious film that feels as if the director went to China on holidays, shot a lot of handheld video, then came back home and decided to put together a raw film that points out a few observations (some of them quite obvious) but was too lazy to explore them further. As the film progressed, I just kept asking myself: when is this techno-futuristic bollocks going to end?

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After the movie, we met up with Carlos and Marisa for drinks at Lidkoeb, a really cool bar in Vesterbro, which was actually one of the first bars I visited when I moved to Copenhagen. We had a few cocktails and decided to go home around midnight, not before making a quick stop at 7Eleven to get baby bites, a wonderful sausage roll with ketchup, which is probably one of Denmark’s greatest inventions.

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Oh, and over the weekend we also saw “Jimi: All is by my side”, the Jimi Hendrix biopic, which turned out to be quite nice; Andre 3000 totally smashed it and brilliantly captured Hendrix’s charm and coolness through a very convincing performance. The movie has its flaws and if you are a hardcore fan, you will probably find it a bit frustrating, but overall, it was very entertaining.

Now, allow me to drastically change subject and draw your attention to this:

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I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure that a bicycle helmet loses some of its protective properties when worn on top of a thick furry hat. What’s more disconcerting is the fact that there was NO BIKE! That’s right, this was just someone waiting for the bus on a sunny autumn day. Makes no fucking sense.

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November 4

As you can see, I’m finding it hard to keep up with the diary these days. It must be the winter. Anyway, quick recap:

Friday: started drinking wine at 3pm in the office, then headed to Mother with Kat for a celebratory dinner; my friend Carlos defended his thesis that day and we decided to treat him to some bubbles and pizza. It was lovely. After dinner, we walked to a bar on Viktoriagade for one more beer before we decided it was time to wrap it up and finally headed home. In the end, I had 3 glasses of red wine, 1 1/2 beers, 1 glass of prosecco, 1 coke, a plate of pasta and a slice of pizza. Not a bad Friday night.

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Saturday: Kat and I went shopping for present for my little niece. The original idea was to get her some tiny shoes and tiny socks but ended up getting 4 sweaters, 1 dress, 4 pairs of shoes, 6 pairs of socks, 2 trousers, a headband and Minnie Mouse ears. Oh, and I got an Apple TV. We might have gotten a bit carried away with ourselves. In the evening, Kat went to a high school reunion somewhere in town and I stayed home, watching TV. She came back home at 2:30am, a bit drunk. It was really funny.

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Sunday: Kat woke up slightly hungover so we went for a glorious breakfast at Bankeråt, then walked a bit around Østerdsparken, shopped more presents for my family and finally ran out of energy and went back home for a nap and an evening in front of the TV, watching the second episode of “Sonic Highways” and “Mission to Lars”, that documentary about a guy with Fragile X Syndrome who goes on a journey with his siblings to meet Lars Ulrich in America. It was a nice film, I just wonder if Lars and the Metallica camp would have been so helpful and friendly if they knew there wasn’t any documentary being made about it. Just a thought.

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It’s now Tuesday and I have just been to a very short interview at Studieskolen, the school in which I plan to take Danish classes; they called me in for a quick chat and to see how familiar I was with basic grammar concepts and sentence structure in English; they say the pace of the lessons in that particular school tends to be faster than the average and the always try to make sure people can keep up with it. They say they will do their best to offer me a place in the school and if everything goes well, I should be starting next week. We’ll see about that…

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October 13

On the bus to work today, I noticed the trees have started to change colours and it struck me then how much I like seasons, they put things in perspective and make me more aware of the passing of time, which I guess is a healthy reminder that comes in handy every now and then.

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Friday was Culture Night in Copenhagen, a fantastic evening in which “museums, libraries, educational establishments, theatres, musical venues, churches and many other institutions representing art and culture will open their doors to the public” in a cheerful celebration that is packed with concerts, exhibitions, free drinks and more than 600 events around the city. It’s wonderful. I remember that last year, my friend Teemu from Finland was visiting, and we joined some of my mates and went to the Calrsberg Brewery, just because they were giving away free beer. I had fun but in hindsight, it was somewhat dull.

This year, however, Kat was at the helm and she managed to put together a really nice tour around the city centre: we started at Cinemateket, where Carlos and Marisa joined us and we all had some pictures taken and photoshopped into a movie posters; then headed to the Spanish Tourist Office to have a look at a series of travel posters and free tapas and wine, followed by a quick stop at Nikolaj Kunsthal, an old church converted into an art gallery, which was hosting “Pixelade”, an exhibition by visual artists Malene Bang and Katja Løgstrup-Hansen and game developers from Copenhagen Game Collective. Nothing spectacular but still, worth seeing, especially the green lasers room, which was cool to have pictures taken. I think that if it hasn’t been packed with screaming kids, we would have enjoyed the exhibition a bit more.

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After Nikolaj, we visited Frederik’s Church (or Marmorkirken, as it it’s known), a stunning church boasting the largest dome in Scandinavia: a beautiful 31-meter roof resting on twelve columns, which was probably inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Stunning building. We then walked to the War Museum to see a humurous historical reenactment of the Battle of Als (1864) and then headed to The Living Room for coffee and cake, to wrap up a very fun evening, which wouldn’t have been that fun if it wasn’t for Kat, who not only provided perfect planning but real-time translation when needed. She’s ace.

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Saturday and Sunday were pretty quiet, I picked up our Queens of the Stone Age poster from the framing shop and finally got our home cinema working properly. Now we just need to do a bit of drilling to the poster up and the speakers fixed to the walls, that should be happening sometime this week…

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