Well, I learned a lot about Hamlet yesterday on my visit to Helsingførs.

I might have thought that Shakespeare made it up, but it turns out that whole story has a long history. Some Danish king felt inadequate and had a scribe write up a history of his ancestors, mostly to prove he had some, and that they had claim to kingships.

It was the Danish Chronicle.


it turns out there was this character Amledgh who did just about all the things that Hamlet did.

very good stuff.

But my feet hurt.

Those amazing cheekbones

Copenhagen is a more uban city than Helsinki. Translation: tons more graphitti

Helsinki had a little graphitti, but in the neighborhood near my hotel, the graphitti is really all over. Even on the big statues. You would think that they would have more respect.

Then again, there are statues and carvings EVERYWHERE. All the buildings seem to have carved windows and swoops and faces and greek gods and what-not. I guess the graphitti artists have to use what material is available.

I listened in on part of a tour in English. We heard the guide from a distance. I said to Chris, “Hurry! We will hear.”

“He´s not speaking english.” Chris wouldn´t run to hear.

But he was speaking english, just with a huge accent that made it sound like a different language. He said “The direct translation for Copnehagen is the bay of merchants.”

This explained why this city felt a bit like Brussels to me. Merchants, huh? So it was all about the salesman’s flash and social mobility. Maybe that´s why they ornamented everything they could reach.

And also the incredible amount of chain stores.

We counted McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and 7Eleven all on one block. With another 7Eleven at the end of the block.

Unfortunately, jetlag is a contant companion. We haven’t been too unpleasant to each other, though. Just a bit snippy when we’ve been walking too long. We are taking turns being completely brain dead, so that one of us is always available to steer the other towards whatever we need to do next. That is usually eat or sleep.

We have three things to do during our stay in COpenhagen. One, we want to visit Tivoli. Two, we want to see Malmø. And three, we want to go see Helsingførs, known to english-speakers as ELSINORE! Yes, Hamlet’s palace.

We have three days to do those three things. I think it will work out.

more to come

Goodbye, Helsinki!

It’s a very beautiful city, a small town kind of capital. Only a hundred people there.

It never got above 70 degrees, but still I managed to get sunburned.

Now we are about to go to Copenhagen.

I think Denmark will be warmer, and more populated.

more later

29 hours

At least that’s what we figured out on the subway back.

We left LAX, and we will not land at our final destination in Helsinki until 29 hours later.

So today we enjoyed the museum of Natural History in Central Park. Since it’s humid and about 90, my plan to hang out in the foliage of the park was jettisoned.

We wandered around, amazed at what east coast city folk think of as ‘nature’. No wonder this country’s environmental efforts are so screwed up.

But we also just tried to stay awake. We are tired. We told ourselves that this will help with the jetlag once we get to Finland. It IS a 10 hour time difference after all.

Now we are back at JFK, and the plane to Finland boards in 5 minutes. It’s 8 hours, and maybe we will sleep the whole way.

Wish us comfort and quiet neighbors.

more to come

The big apple

So I am at last about to embark on a trip to manhattan with Chris. I have love dreamed of this. He has been to more places than I, but _I_ have been to Manhattan. And he has not.We will have about 3 hours in central park. Perfect!

We haven’t left JFK yet. Everywhere there are adds for Office 2007.

There are huge video screens showing all the peaceful people using Office 2007. These screens follow the length of the movable sidewalks. Both of them. The whole way.

“Oh yeah,” I told Chris, remembering the huge video ads on time square. “That’s another thing about New York. They constantly bitch slap you with advertising.”

“Like that doesn’t happen in LA?”

I smiled. “Here, it’s different.”

More later….

Is the radio working?

I am going ON THE ROAD

Well, the airways and the subways and the sidewalks.

Which means I may not have access to blogging.

There might be radio silence for a while.

But I’ll take notes and get back to you all with my impressions.

Pretty Smart

It was one of those courtroom shows, and the girl was convicted of murder or something. She hadn’t done it, but she had used her prettiness to manipulate some hapless young man into doing it for her.

And the line was “Pretty is currency for when you are young.”

Yeah. It’s tradeable on the open market. Out there on the trading floor, “I have pretty. What will you trade for it?”

There is the obvious that goes without saying. But the experienced merchant of pretty…yes, I mean the smart girls, or at least the street smart ones…the wise ones know that it’s better to give it out in drops.

What will a smile get you? At the very least some cooperation, don’ t you think?

It’s interesting to see what pretty does. Like baking soda and vinegar. It has an effect. It’s a factor in the project plan, like the direction of the wind.

I have had some experience with the effect of pretty. As a woman, I am not the least or the greatest in the pretty department. But my store of the Pretty element, that mysterious substance, is enough to experiment and observe.

It is not such an easy thing. There have been times when it was a decided pain in the ass.

Even in the times when it’s supposed to be useful, say in romantic relationships, it is a highly suspicious thing. If I admit that I desire to be pretty, and that pretty is only in the eye of the beholder…
Then I must place myself in a position to be beheld to fulfill my desire for prettiness.

Which means that someone else has power over me. And what does that mean on the open market? I trade what to get back my own prettiness? What will it cost me to be pretty?

I went back on the dating scene again aware that the desire to be pretty in someone else’s opinion was a huge trap. It occurred to me that if someone tells me “You look beautiful”, I am disarmed. And for that particular type of encounter [dating, romance] I would need every weapon I had, and every possible form of armor.

I had to look very long in the mirror, yeah just like that. I had to be very very sure that I knew no one could give me or take away from me what I already had.

You have to be so cold. Which is a shame. I would like to have the ability to look down and blush if someone gave me a compliment. Now I only wonder what they are trying to steal from me.

It’s my currency, my treasure.

Then again, there are times when the pretty exchange is closed, or at least is supposed to be. There are times when pretty is not the point, and I just forget about it and think that other people probably forget too.

Like at work. Work is supposed to be about hard work and smarts.

At my last job, I was so busy I was losing my mind. Our cubes were short, so people could walk in the cubicle corridor, and lean over the wall to ask me a question. I never wanted to be interrupted. But I knew that being crabby would not improve anything.

I chose to pause for a millisecond after I realized someone wanted my attention. I would take that moment to paste a big old smile on my face before I turned to them. It was just to hide my inner turmoil, really.

The men (was it always men? It seems so in my memory, but surely a female had a question for me once in a while)–the men had the strangest reaction. ALWAYS, they forgot what they were going to say. They were struck dumb, and just stood there for a few seconds. They finally said “what a smile!” and then fumbled out whatever it was they had originally wanted to talk to me about.

I found this odd. The same men might have several questions in one day, and ALWAYS they would turn blithering idiot.

But I had to face the facts. I may have thought I had closed the pretty trading for the work day, but it went on without me.

Sometimes I wish I could unzip my outside and step out slick and smooth as a little green alien. No gender, no complication. Just a big huge head.

But it doesn’t work like that. And just like I had to learn not to let compliments disarm me, I also had to learn that even when I wasn’t paying attention the pretty element was out there catalyzing things. To ignore it was to leave a hole in my defenses.

So…what is this pretty thing worth? What kind of trade should I be working on for it?

I know that some females get ‘free’ dinner and even presents out of their measure of pretty. The princesses, as they delight to be called, seem to make a cheap trade to me.

I don’t want to be that kind of doll house female. I’m made out of tougher stuff.

You would have to go way back to find the sort of woman I shall be. I will be a shield-maiden. Eowyn showed that life.

If this world were a more beautiful place, then pretty could grow unashamed and free. Until that time, only the smart ones know how to handle it.

A woman’s work is never done–so she pays attention to the team

So Chris’s basketball league is back in season. They had their first game yesterday.

John, who grew up next door to Chris, had organized the team. It’s just a bunch of guys who like to play, and aren’t super-duper competitive. They do their best and have a good time.

This is the second season Chris has been a part of. John worked hard to get a bunch of guys together, enough to have at least 5 guys show up for every game. Which means that most of the guys don’t really know each other, and so the practicing happens when the game happens.

But last sunday, they were getting to know each other and working on plays and what to expect from each other. There were 7 guys. When one guy was pulled in from the bench, he and the guy coming out of the game would give a low slap of hands as they pass.

I was a bit jolted with this. THIS was the famous touchy-feely teammate behavior exhibited by sports players. Haven’t you seen it when the ball players will smack each other on the ass, or do a hand-holding kind of thing?

See, when it with your TEAM, it’s not gay.

It’s NOT.

Female athletes do this sort of thing as well. But the thing is, females IN GENERAL do this sort of thing. We just do.

We hug, we touch, we get physical with one another in a way that American men do not get with one another. At least not outside of a sports game.

I asked Chris about it after the game.

“Yeah, it’s important to let each other know that they did a good job. Or that it’s okay if they made a mistake, that we can just keep on playing.”

Well, I agree. I completely agree.

But I wonder why they need a game to do that? Why not by more physical with each other in daily life? Don’t we all need to know that we did a good job, or that it’ll be okay that we made a mistake?

The thing is, I am not trying to tell men to change how they are. They are what they are. Men feel comfortable giving one another physical affection (YES, I said it) when they are playing together as a team.

I listened to the Glenn and Helen Podcast, interviewing Conn Iggulden about his latest :
A Dangerous Book for Boys

Conn talks about how it’s important to let boys be boys–that boys and girls are just different and that’s okay.

Well, I’m a fan of men. I love men. So, it’s interesting to see a herd of them in their habitat.

But it made me think a little. It is possible to consider that women are always interested in teamwork. It’s not that we are not competitive, but we are always aware of the other people.

And maybe, just maybe, that is an explanation for why we are so easily affectionate with one another. We know that life is full of work. There is so much work to be done, that we better be connected with our teammates. The game never ends.

…so the story goes…

Next week I will be in HELSINKI!

I am very very excited. I will not be there long, but I want to breathe the air and look at the streets.

I have been reading, and have almost completed, the finnish national legend:

This story rocks my world. I love these kind of stories, where magic things happen and heros run around doing things.

I am sad to discover how wretchedly the women are treated in this story. But so much of it is so overwhelmingly stupendous that I forgive them.

The story was told. It was told for hundreds of years. Someone finally wrote it down in the middle 1800s. This guy went around finland trying to capture all the pieces of the story, and finally found the last piece in the mouth of a very old storyteller. The old man was really old (did I already say that..?) and the story gatherer was very relieved to get all the last pieces.

Once the guy published the Kalevala, Finland exploded with happiness. They are STILL not over it…In fact, the country started it’s own independence because of this awesome book.

It is a deep and wide thing, this story. And I will have the story in my head as I walk the streets of Helsinki. I think the streets might very well be named after the heros in the book.

an appendix to the damaged particle

The idea occurred to me while shopping at the B&N…I saw a shelf of Nicholas Sparks books while trying to find Nabokov..BOTH of them were in the LITERATURE AND FICTION section.

I thought, “how can Sparks and Nabokov be in the same section at the bookstore? Sparks can’t touch Nabokov’s hem”

[thinking now though, Sparks could probably BUY Nabokov’s whole wardrobe. Sparks is a multi-million bestseller…and Nabokov couldn’t even aspire to being a full-time professor at university for most of his life]

But thoughts like this take on a life of their own. I have been finishing Glory by Nabokov…since I’d only read Lolita before. This book filled me with hope, because it was good, but not anywhere near as good as Lolita , which means that he did not spring out of God fullly formed as the master author. SO, that means that I will probably have a chance of being a better writer too.

Which led me to think again of how long it takes to write a damn book. And how short of a time it takes to read a book. I am going on vacation for 11 days, and I worry that I will run out of book. And that CAN”T HAPPEN. I MUST have enough book to last me….I am a book addict, like a drug addict. A drug addict, when she runs out of her drug of choice, will take anything…even sniff glue. I don’t want to my addiction to drag me down into such degradation, but I have been known to read the phone book when nothing else is available. I can’t let that happen.

So I am a monstrous reader, devouring the feast that took so long to prepare. Books that took their crafters years of heart and soul wringing to write, and even more lifebeats to gain the wisdom to be able to start the writing– these I devour callously and insatiably.

And I do feel sad that I read so fast now. And I approach each new book with eagerness, but still knowing that I am going to have a changed thing after, that the expectation is not going to be the reality.