Live and Direct

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Leaving Copenhagen

So I'll be pulling up stakes in Copenhagen and heading for Seattle in three days. This will likely be my last post for a while, as I'm going to break down the computer probably tomorrow afternoon. The fact that I'm leaving DK does leave me with a small problem of what to do with the blog. The original intent of this space was to give updates about our lives over here; I'm not sure my life in Seattle will be sufficiently different enough from anybody else's to merit documenting. On the other hand, it has been somewhat therapeutic to record my thoughts occasionally. So the question, to be or not to be? And if to be, to be "Live and Direct from Copenhagen" or "Live and Direct from Copenhagen: Seattle Edition" or simply "Live and Direct"? I'm leaning toward the last option, as it implies that my life is so interesting that it's always upfront and urgent. Either that, or it implies that I exist as a director (yes, dorky play on words there).

The last few days have been spent packing and getting ready. I'm almost done, with just a last few things to put into boxes and then the move on Monday. After that, it's a just a couple of dinners with friends and I'm on my way. The question of the moment from anybody who learns that I'm heading back to the States is whether I'll be coming back. I'll give the same politically motivated answer I've given them: "I currently have no concrete plans to stay in the US," which means exactly that: nobody so far as offered me a job that would keep me in the States, which isn't to say that it won't happen sometime in the next eleven months. At this answer, there's a common look of knowing, wistful resignation that comes into their eyes that suggests that, in my position, they wouldn't be likely to come back here. I've come to expect this from my American and UK friends, all of whom feel "stuck" here for various reasons usually related to spouses or professional miscues. But what is surprising is how many Danes also look at me with a sense that they couldn't imagine why I would come back, almost suggesting that they wouldn't either were it not for the fact that they are Danish and this feels like Home to them.

I have mixed feelings about Denmark right now. In my life, I have been intensely, overwhelmingly HAPPY here at times and I've also been the most miserable I've ever been in my life here. This year here has been an unequal mixture of both for me, though I suspect more of the latter for Sara. I've some to realize that in many ways, I'm indelibly American, even though it fills me with dismay given the current state of things. I feel a bit like I'll always be caught in between, able to see the drawbacks and difficulties of living abroad while also fed up and disgusted with many of the things that makes the US what it is. Likewise, there are things I love about Denmark, and things that drive me crazy. The question then becomes, which life is the closest to what I want? I think this year will be the process of deciding exactly that. Odd that I would be making this decision at the age of 35 instead of in my twenties, which would seem like a far more reasonable time to be deciding these things.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Since Sara went back to Seattle, I've realized I drastically overestimated the amount of work left for me to take care of here in Denmark. The exam grading is going along smoothly, and aside from a few more papers, an oral defense, and a meeting with a student, I pretty much have no more teaching responsibilities. I've started boxing things up in the apartment, and since the actual move takes place on the 30th, I'm at the stage where everything left to box up is also stuff I need to live for a couple more weeks. Which leaves me with a fair amount of free time.

I've been living up to my true character by sitting on the couch playing _Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas_ for days at a time. It's not a pretty sight. I only bathe if I have to come to campus and I shaved for the first time in days this morning, again because I had to come to campus. It's a good thing I'm leaving soon, or I think I would become a serious shut in.

But on a bright note, in the game world, where I'm a fierce and quite debonair gangster, things are coming along swimmingly. I've taken over most of the immediate neighborhoods from my gang rivals after realizing I could take over a neighborhood by just walking down a street, provoking a gun battle, and then killing everything that comes running at me. I've started investing in real estate with my brutally gotten gains. My strength statistic is peaked out and my avatar looks really buff, which oddly makes me feel a lot better about sitting on the couch for twelve hours straight. Also, I've started a relationship with a new girl, Denise, and things seem to be going well. Granted, she tends to shoot randomly out the window when we go out together, but I think it's just a mark of a bad childhood. I'm sure my love can cure what ails her. We've gotten to the stage in our relationship where she's been inviting me in for "hot coffee" at the end of our dates.

I have to say, given the way the console version keeps the camera outside the house while a soundtrack of moaning, etc., plays, the whole thing seems a bit silly. I mean, if this were an R rated movie, the equivalent of a videogame M rating, we would at least follow the characters indoors and see them kiss (and probably a lot more) before the big fadeout. I'm not suggesting I actually want to play the Hot Coffee mini-game, which just seems tedious to me, but the weird doublestandard seems indicative of videogames' relative position in media culture.

Given this recent antisocial behavior, I may have to ask all of my Seattle friends to make a concerted effort to get me out of the house every once in a while once I start my book research, which will consist to a great degree of me sitting on the couch playing videogames and watching movies. Maybe I'll grow a beard.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Celebrity boxing

Sara just called from the States, and it was great to hear her voice again. Her call woke me up in the middle of the weirdest dream, though. I can't remember all of it, but basically I was confronting a group of men who were sitting in some sort of a jury box. Evidently, they had been talking trash about me while I wasn't around, so I had arrived to call them out, to see if any of them had the sand to say it to my face.

Well, one of them did have the sand. It was Clint Eastwood. He got up out of his chair and came down to face me and we prepared to throwdown. I felt a little weird about fighting an old man, since this was Million Dollar Baby Eastwood, not Every Which Way But Loose Eastwood. On the other hand, I was pretty sure he was going to kick my ass anyway. When Sara's call woke me up, for a split second in the midst of waking up, I thought that must be him calling to schedule a bout.

As I don't regularly recall dreams, I'm kind of fascinated by this rich fantasy life that exists beneath the lid of my consciousness. I'm also a little concerned that subconsciously, I seem to devote a lot of time to thinking about celebrities.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

All by myself...

Sara left for Seattle this morning, and I already miss her like crazy. Fortunately, I'll be headed that direction myself on February 1. My exams and other obligations here will be wrapped up sooner than I had thought, and it looks like I'll be able to get us moved out of our apartment and find a home for our belongings more easily than I expected, mostly due to the help of our friend Martin.

It feels pretty weird to be at this stage again, perhaps because it feels so much like our move from San Diego to here that it's taking on a much greater sense of finality than in fact is true. The time of the year, the fact that we have to box up all our stuff, etc., make it feel like this is a permanent situation, when in fact it really is just a research sabbatical. Who knows what will happen after this year is up? In the meantime, I'm just looking forward to getting to work on the book and being in Seattle again.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I've been in exam-land for the past several days, administering and grading like crazy so I can get it out of the way. I just had a big stack of undergraduate written exams land on my desk which I hope to deal with this weekend (fingers crossed). Consequently, my posts might be a bit irregular through the next few days.

But there is good news. It looks like Sara and I have found a place to live in Seattle, at least until the end of June. We found a furnished house for sublet around Union and 26th, and Sara will move in on January 17th. Thanks again to all our friends that offered us a place to stay, but I think it will make for an easier transition to have our own space. Sara leaves on the 11th, which is pretty well freaking me out. We haven't been apart longer than about four days in over two years, and particularly since we came to Denmark, we've gotten used to spending a lot of time together. Sara is amazing, and I'm going to miss her like crazy. Maybe it's good that I have exams to distract me.