The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
- Saint Augustine

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In a Grandma Groove

"I'm going to Egypt!"

Not really.
But that's what I say as I leave for my internship twice a week. It got a laugh the first time, a chuckle the second, and now I think my roommates pretend not to hear me.

I think they're probably jealous that this is my job. 
On the left is a papyrus from the dream book, with Thomas, my supervisor behind it. Check out the cleanliness of the glass, no scratches, smudges, thumb prints or moisture to be detected. At first I thought it was weird how OCD they were about it but one day Thomas looks at me and says, "Well, these are only rehoused once every 50 years. So for the next 50 years people will be writing their research based on this, so uh.. ye know... make it perfect." So now I'm pretty obsessive when it comes to cleaning that glass. 

Went back some of my Soulful Shaq playlists ("Bringing you the booty shakin' baby makin' funk of the 60's and 70's" according to our program guide that finally got approved) for nostalgia sake and rediscovered this little gem. 

A favorite song to listen to while sanding glass: Jake Shimaburkuro: Grandma's Groove

Although I may not be going to Egypt I AM going to London on Friday! My friend and I booked a flight and decided to go pretty impromptu, but I'm pretty excited for the tea, the fuzzy hats and red telephone boxes I can take a picture coming out of. 

I made the most wonderful macaroons known to man yesterday. Naturally gluten free and intoxicatingly delicious. One of my housemates just defended her master's thesis in statistical anaylsis and got a 12 which is a perfect score. So most of these went into celebrating, but seriously, when they all tried them it was the one moment I felt like a normal baker- no weird bean sorhgum xanex crap that most of gluten free stuff is made. 

Here's the recipe: (I think that after a few of "Grandma's Macaroons" you just might be in the "Grandma Groove" ;))

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. flaked coconut
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together and drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cookies set before removing from cookie sheet.

I finished "The Boy With the Topknot" today which was very interesting, and a good read! 

I also watched "Grandma's Boy" today. While knitting. You can only ignore destiny for so long before you have to come to terms with it.

Conclusion: I'm destined to be the best grandmother ever. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Almost there, almost there, feels like we've been getting nowhere"

Oh hey there.

The fingerless gloves are done, and have been keeping my oversized hands exceptionally warm during bike rides. The scarf is still coming along. I just found Zoolander in our common room so I have the sneaking feeling that it will become "Reelllly ridiculously good-luking" when I sit down to finish it.

This week I finished the book "King Queen Knave" by Vladimir Nabokov. Good in its own respects but nothing outstanding. There are a few delicious quotes in there as only Nabokov could write,"“The silk lining was crimson, as crimson as lips and flayed animals.” 96 or “That particular tinkle half-glass, half- metal, peculiar to the process of human feeding” 102

I started a book for class called "The Boy With the Top Knot" about a Sikh man growing up in multicultural Britain, and rewriting his life to cope with his father's secret past. Really interesting and exceptionally well written so far.

Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.  ~Albert Einstein

Today I went to the Cycling World Championships which were being held in a suburb just north of Copenhagen called Rudersdal. It's about a 30 minute train ride from the center of the city. The sun was shining, it was 20 degrees (after the initial shock, you eventually get used to using Celesius) I was wearing a T SHIRT for crying out loud and it was pleasantly warm biking from my house.

I knew very little about the race and even less about cycling as a sport. I knew that for the past week, time trials had been held throughout the main city and some fast mother effers in funny helmets (kindly look to the left) were screwing up all of the roads in Copenhagen. Only this morning, over freshly baked rolls and coffee, did my housemates tell me that the finals were being held today, and the event marked the largest sporting event hosted by Denmark EVER. So even though most of my friends were too *ahem* sleepy to go venture out on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to go and maybe learn something.
I didn't really, but I had a good time. I stood next to the american Announcer so I had a better idea of what was going on. However I did learn how slowly my camera takes a picture when 50 cyclists are whizzing past at 50 mph.
I would be signaled that they were on their way by the claps and cheers from down the road. Then I'd see a police, car hear "woohoooooo!" *clap clap clap *whoosh* and then they'd be gone for another 30 minutes until they looped around the track again.

In almost as important news as the world championships being hosted in Denmark, I found my first gluten free bakery in Copenhagen! It's a place called Naturbageriet (Nature Bakery) that has a bunch of different cake, energy bar, cookie and bread options. Their white poppyseed bread, although a little dry, was pretty decent but their banana cake was divine :)

I enjoyed it as I sat in my new favorite coffee house called "The Living Room". With huge leather chairs, candle light and fire pit in every common room, it plays soul music, sells extremely over-priced coffee and gives a great atmosphere for relaxing for a pot of tea in between classes or after a difficult day. And there's something about the foot rests that I just can't get over...

Finally, I've had a lot of free time, and while finding new ways to fill it I've taken to walking in the national park right by my house. Listening to some music in the marsh and picking blackberries on my walk certainly de-stresses quite a bit.

Ignore the creepy music video, but the song is awesome, John Legend- ah your voice does a woman's soul good. Although the first 10 seconds looks exactly like the public transportation in Copenhagen, so that's something! Minus the hooded horsemen and awful maggots.

The song I can't get out of my head, "Getting Nowhere" by Magnetic Men, Featuring John Legend

"Almost there, almost there, feels like we've been getting nowhere"- what the cyclists in the race think every time they make it past another lap.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hamlet: Prince of Danes. Black Diamond: Royalty of Libraries. Boat Tour: Was Cool

As far as I know, there was no Princess of the Danes when Hamlet ruled. Therefore, if the position's open... I wonder if they're taking applications?

On Sunday, I went to what is known as "Hamlet's castle". The place in which the real Hamlet resided and where Shakespeare sets his iconic play. It is known as the Kronborg Castle situated in the north part of the island Kobenhavn is on called Helsingor (about a 45 minutes train ride from the center of the city)

As my friend Caroline described, the weather was particularly "castley" meaning it was gloomy and ominous, with just enough mist to make a coat of armor rust. It really set the mood for medieval architecture, and the dungeons were particularly damp and dreary. 

They began to explain how the royalty was kept warm in the winter. They had one of two options. 1) higher servants to warm up the bed with their body heat before the king arrived. or 2) sleep with a constant supply of hot bricks in the bottom of the bed. Chances of catching on fire were relatively low- only one in five. 

It should also be noted that eating soup was difficult during the winter months because the bowl would freeze over before they had a chance to eat it. I feel slightly ashamed for complaining how cold it was only minutes before. Although I was more than bundled enough. As I was leaving for the day my roommate, Leylia comments "You look like you're going to Aspen!" Whatever. I was cozy for castley weather. 

One of my favorite quotes from Hamlet:
"Lord! We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 4.5

Oh, Shakespeare (where ever the twelve of you may be) you certainly have that right. How can we know what we will be in the future? (Even if we are lucky enough to know what we are now?) We can only live today like we want tomorrow to be. There's your fragment of wisdom for the day. 

You're welcome.

For further touristy things, on Thursday I took a boat tour along the canals in Kobenhavn.
The picture below is a photograph of the restaurant "Noma" which was ranked number one in the world two years in a row. A friend and I called to get reservations and the soonest opening is in February. We opted for some Turkish kebabs instead.

In the intercity canals, there was much calmer water.  
To the right of this picture is my friend Sam's apartment. I'm not jealous or anything.

I really can't get over Copenhagen's skies. Almost as good as the Northern Lights- not developing frostbite is a good trade off I think. Some nights, it particularly reminds me of Nietzsche's Quote:

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.- Friedrich Nietzsche

The next evening, Friday, The Danish Royal Library hosted a party for all college students in Kobenhavn. It was one of those wonderful excuses to actually get dressed up to go out with friends. Although the music was somewhat questionable for a college crowd, it was great to see everyone dressed up and in a glamourous, glass building decorated for the occasion. Check out the difference between the Royal Library during the day and at night time.

While my travels are wonderful, some great reading, knitting and tea really hits the stop as well. Just finished the Maltese Falcon. Eh, it's murder mystery set in the 20's, I think I expected a little too much. Dashiell Hammett wrote the Thin Man where Nick has five drinks a scene, and always has a gun. Am I that far off to think that this is slightly unrealistic (or more than slightly dangerous)? Sam Spade, the detective in the book, still has too much swagger to be authentic. 

The fingerless gloves are complete. 
New scarf in the works (damn you alpaca, makin' me wheezy- the bad kind of wheezy not like the rapper Mr. Carter) and should be finished shortly. Got quite a bit of it done when watching Out of Africa -Danish writer Baroness Karen Blixen anyone?- with the roommates. They laughed at Meryl Streep's accent which sounded slightly German. Although since some people mistaken me for speaking Mandarin I'd say she did a fine job.

And a good Chai Tea (which I may have found), might be the missing link to life's elixir. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Workin' Woman

Though I would start with a Copenhagen Sunset (not enhanced in anyway)

I came back from Vienna, Salzburg and Berlin.
They were amazing, and I would like to give them the time and attention they deserve. Therefore, I will not be mentioning them in this post, but will rather post pictures and stories about them at a later time.

There is some more important news I would like to get to.

Last week I was hired at the Department of Egyptology as a curator for the Carlsberg Papyri Collection. I will be prepping glass, anchoring the Papyrus in place, photocopying and archiving it.
I had my first day yesterday, got a full day of history about where the collection came from, why it is important to preserve it as well as "how we feel about this one historian" gossip.
The field of Egyptology is a relatively small one. Everyone one knows every guest lecturer, editor and curator because there are so few and they gossip about one another worse than a quilters circle. It's quite amusing.
It should also be noted that from what I've seen, it is not a requirement in Egyptology to take a course in fashion. Therefore, the comb overs are plentiful (the ringleader of said hair style is a portly English gentlemen by the name of Angus who also enjoys orange plaid shirts) and they all show up in matching sweater vests like a revenge of the nerds clan.
Thomas, who I'm working with, is another story. He is a grad student, and like most grad students gives the appearance of both being homeless and ambitious simultaneously. Most of the time, he squints as though he's just discovered sunlight after centuries of being in-tombed with the hieroglyphics. He always has a "kuppa kaffe" in his hand, and walks with a little slump, weighed down by his work load. He, like all danes, I've noticed, was shy at first but while we were working would interrupt the silence to say something, and pretty soon I couldn't get him to stop about the hieratic and demonic inscriptions.

Some interesting thing I learned from Thomas yesterday:
-Some of the later papyri had writing on both sides. The front side was old grecian text that was considered useless, but because papyri was so expensive, the back was used to write in egyptian. How one tells which is the "front" and the "back" of a papyrus is the way the reeds were lines up. If the writing was horizontal it was the front, because it was easier to write along the reeds than across them. It was the back if the reeds ran vertically down the page.
-The vast majority of writings is about the burial and ritual processions. Perhaps one of the most important text, "the Book of the Dead" has nearly 500 remaining copies symbolizing it's importance.
-Because death was important, and papyri limited many texts were written on the bandages of the mummies (yes, I have to deal with those too) although they tend to be *ahem* tarnished with "fluids" and prove difficult to read.

Overall, it seems a little mundane, but an interesting opportunity. Plus, it's not everyday that you get to deal with artifacts that are more than three thousand years old.

In some fun day to day news...

I got a warm winter jacket! It's lovely and HUGE with fleece lined pockets, it goes down to my knees and has a huge parka hood. I went in, directly told them I was from California, and they showed me to the warmest, waterproof coat they had. Then they gave me a 10% discount because I was an international student and "they knew we'd be needing them". While they said "oh, you won't need this for a while" I was like "right" and as soon as I got out of the store I put it on and wore it home and was super cozy and not overheated. I guess I am from California after all.

I found the cheapest baked good for myself. Banana corn flour pancakes. They really couldn't be easier.
I made up the recipe myself which is why I was all the more surprised when they worked out. I will add sugar next time, but they weren't all that bad without it, kind of like a banana crepe.

Casey's College GF Pancakes (makes 1 serving)
1 egg
1 mashed Banana
2 tablespoons of Corn flour
Some salt

mix that bad boy up, fry it up and top with some butter and jam or maple syrup (I was not so fortunate to have that lying around) and it was pretty great- plus really good for you. Might go for round two tonight.

I've also been knitting fingerless gloves for myself, and teaching my roommates Meriam, Ben and Asger how it knit. It was pretty darling having them each with a ball of yarn I had in stash and some of my knitting needles in hand with their faces all twisted in concentration while we watched Limitless (or I watched, they sat in front of). I have them on the road to making ear warmers. So far Ben has lost hope, but Meriam came out this morning to show me how much she had done, totally beaming with pride.

Just finished my first memoir for my class. It was called "Greetings from Bury Park" by Sarfraz Manzoor. A pretty light read but it was good. Definitely not deep at all and a bit of whiplash after finishing War and Peace and starting Atlas Shrugged, but good all the same.

Moving on to some theory later in the day, which I imagine will not only stimulate but actively fry my brain cells. So looking forward to that.

I have a confession to make. The Danes cooking has been rubbing off on me.
Saturday night we had a family dinner and my roommates insisted on showing me what a true Danish meal was. We went to the fish market (where fat man hold huge fish that might as well still have been wriggling yelling "Halftreds Kroner!" and housewives snatch it out of his hand. It was fantastic) and got some cod, and they fried up the breaded fish with homemade pickled tarter sauce, boiled new potatoes with parsley and white wine cream sauce, wedge salad with leeks and radishes and finally chocolate mouse and peaches for dessert (with Asger)

It was pretty precious how they helped me make my "corn flake with corn flour" breaded cod and gave me a little special dish to make sure I felt included.

I certainly did :)