Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Last Year- A Quick List

February 2010- Starred as Tom in "Fat Pig" by Neil Lebute in Nashville, TN. Worked with a great cast and received some positive feedback and good reviews.

March-May 2010- Worked for vitaminwater marketing products. Worked VIP at the film fest and had a beer with Michael Clark Duncan and a conversation which he said " ...well your a good loking guy, well spoken, do it, man just do it." Ha, I thought it was cool. He is very nice.

Jan-May 2010- Helped plant 4,001 trees in the Nashville area with Thomas from Check it out.

May 2010- I headed into the southwest to work for the Southwest Conservation Corps. I moved all my things into a storage unit, packed my car and went to Tucson, Arizona to live in a tent high in the mountains for a few months. I worked leading a crew of young conservations into the national forests of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. I would train them to build and maintain trails, work cross cut saws, chainsaw and live Bear Grylls style. Loved it. Loved my time in Tucson.

September 2010- Moved from Tucson to Durango, Colorado to lead another crew for a different SCC office. Durango is a great place with an amazing hostel. Met some great people and worked some really great projects like Canyon of the Ancients and the 20 miles back-country on the Continential Divide Trail. Saw a herd of Prong Horned Deer, cousin to the Antelope and watched the Aspens of Colorado change from green to gold literally by the hour.

May 2010-October 2010- Lived 110 days in a tent outdoors and lost 35 pounds.

October 2010-March 2011- Moved to Telluride, Colorado. Great views and cool little town. Met a great friend and Spent a few months with Anne after being apart for 6 months without seeing each other. Worked as a Bartender at a large resort, hated it. Telluride may be a great place to visit but for the most part it was a terrible experience. If you like showering, or looking like you didn't sleep in a dumpster you probably wont be comfortable living there and most of the people will make try to make you feel bad for not knowing as much about skiing or subarus. Mostly trustifarian types who have the luxury of not having to look presentable or have any passions other than smoking weed and pretending to be poor. I know it sounds harsh and it is not all the people there but I had a terrible experience the entire time and was surrounded by selfishness and filth, but I did love the view, loved skiing, loved time with Anne and meeting a great person who I consider a great friend...Slow Motion you know who you are.

March 2011- Traveled to Stockholm, Sweden where I will become an Au Pair for a family. Write, and try to see as many places as I can, work as many jobs as I can and one day turn it into a TV show where I will travel to new places work new jobs hands on and find out how the world really works.

Today. Explored the city, planned a visit, dreamed about the future, thought about the past and what a ride I have been on and then made this list.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"The winds of change are blowing wild and free..." The winds of change are blowing in full force this day. Bringing dust up from the ground to dance down the distance of the tracks as I sit beneath the shaking of the trees and watch as the dust rises and falls, to be washed away in the melting snow. Winter is dying by the second and giving way to the waters of spring here in Sweden. On a bench, by the tracks, I silently sit and take in the idea of change. All around me the cold wind blows with the mighty desire to turn itself into the warm winds of summer. The Earth shakes, and I sit as a solo audience to it all. The melting is giving way to muddy feet and to an excitement in the air. I train into the city to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and to feel the oxymoron-ical warm-clod breeze flying through my hair coming from the aged green brass rooftops of Stockholm's Ostermalm. People are out in numbers to enjoy the sunshine and to enjoy a fika. Fika is best translated as having a coffee and snack, most commonly a pastry, just for the fun of it. Swed's love there fika and there coffee. I read that some Swedes have 4.5 cups a day. It does help to fight against the blustery winds of winter and the last remaining sea winds that seem to bowl one over with their force. Stockholm is a large-small city. It has a population around the size of San Francisco. It has within its limits many, many cafes where you can find Swedes and people from around the world enjoying a fika and watching as the change from winter to spring is happening outside. I walk the streets trying to contain my smile and resisting the urges to dance or at the least walk to the rhythm of the song in my ears. 

Music is a wonderful thing, it has the power to inspire and the simplicity to provide a soundtrack to your life. My soundtrack for traveling will act as recall mechanism for which I can remember these walks with just a listen. Years from now I will listen to the same songs, maybe at home and maybe by accident in a cafe in another foreign land and smile as I remember the wind and the sunshine of the coming spring. Maybe one day I will be in a hard place in life and one of these songs, attached to one of these experiences, will help shine a light on the shadows and inspire me to push myself as I am pushing myself now. Currently my soundtrack is full of Sam Cooke classics, Bruce Springsteen providing a lyrical picture to connect me with my home and America, Otis Redding and Adele bring some soul. I am not sure if there is a more smile inducing melody then the opening and first line.." I've got sunshine on a cloudy day..." This comes across my playlist and I cant help but stop walking, take in the sunshine by the sea, and smile. I don't care who sees. It is a moment like that, a moment of clarity, when all the trouble in your life seems to melt away like the snow, if only for a moment, and you stand in the spring of  life soaking up the sun. I am literally soaking up the sun and I am also thinking of how lucky I am. This is hard, I mean it is hard to be in strange land alone. Being away from all familiar is almost unbearable. Fear of defeat, fear that this could be in vain is a constant battle inside me but in moments like these, with just a simple lyric, provide relief from the fear and a pure and simple happiness and warmth. I continue my walk, with a little bit of soul, through the streets of Ostermalm and I think about songs I may not know that can provide a new soundtrack. I wonder what other peoples travel or life soundtracks are. Seriously, I would like to know so share if you would like. Maybe I can hear one and think of home and when I write about it you can be here with me traveling too. After a little train misadventure, which I can't avoid, I find the right one home and gaze out of the windows watching the ice breakaway across the sea as the spears of sunlight break through the clouds. I listen and contemplate the day, my choices and what is next. I have been talking to someone in the film industry here and hope to get to collaborate on some writing sessions and hopefully spend some time in front of the camera. I am working on setting up a day to head into a bakery and learning how to make traditional Swedish treats and find out some more of culture and the pastry's long history in that culture and sharing that here with you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A frigid salty Archipeligo breezes blows up from the sea and I soak it up, as well as the sunlight of an early Swedish morning, on my face. I am walking by the water on my way to a boat tour of the city. In Stockholm the people are eagerly and impatiently awaiting spring and the sunlight that has been gone for so long. Days like today make people rush into the streets. It is a great time to be in Stockholm. The cafe's are starting to move things outdoors and everyone is wearing a smile. I am loving it, all of it. The water, the sun, the people and that nervous stirring in my stomach that come with new surroundings. I am in awe of every building. From the Cathedrals and the Palace to the old apartment buildings. It all has so much history. I enter the boat and head to the top look out deck to find a seat. It is a pack house and as the lady on the microphone said, it is like the Tower of Bable with so many different languages represented. We start out and pass the Royal Palace where I saw the changing of the guard. We also pass the Vasa museum, which is an old viking warship that sank on its maiden voyage in the harbor. It seems like an odd thing to immortalize but it does look just astoundingly beautiful and is tied to a huge cover up of the time. I will be exploring the museum and the ship this Sunday. We continue on and see many villas and royal residences along the coast. The tour is ok, the sights are great and I am also treated to a piece of Swedish culture. Every Thursday or Lorsdog in Sweden everyone has pea soup. It is a tasty yellow pea soup in honor of a fallen king. Many years ago King Eric XIV who was poisoned with pea soup. It is a neat tradition and everyone does it, it is also followed by pancakes for no apparent reason. These are the little pieces of culture that make me love traveling. Stockholm is a magnificent city and I can't wait to explore it further.
Anticipation grows as the time draws near. In my confusion of the importance of the Melodifestivalen I assumed it would be just a neat cultural experience. I was highly underestimating how big this is. The evening starts at a small French cafe near the city center where the food was fast but very delicious. I indulge in the fish and pomme frites. A side-note, fries are pomme frites and chips are chips here. The fish is fresh and crispy on the edges, with the little bit of fresh lemon squeezed on top it is nearly perfect. After dinner we share a coffee and we each have a small but rich chocolate mousse topped with creme. Now we are headed to the event of the year and I still have no real idea how big it is.

The vehicle crosses the bridge and the city is a shining diamond and the sea glows in the moonlight. I am lost in the beauty of Stockholm at night. The snow still shimmers but the ice is melting to reveal the water below. The lights of the city glow brightly as I stare awestruck by just the passing by of the buildings but the kids seem not to notice. The excitement for whats to come is too great. We draw nearer and then, at once, GLOBEN!!! The cheers come from everyone in the car as we come into view of the Stockholm Globe arena. It is a massive stadium sphere resting just near the water as though it might roll right it. The lights are shinning bright all around the arena and the huge Melodifestivalen logo is projected on the side of the Globen. As we park and I see the massive crowds I start to realize that this is not just some concert. This is a massive and once in a lifetime event. I am very lucky to have tickets, and to get to share in this part of the Swedish culture. I am told that the Melodifestivalen is an annual singing and song competition that takes place in all of Sweden. The winner goes on to enter into the European finals, taking place this year in Munich, and to be very famous. We enter the stadium and make our way to our seats. Large arenas always fill me with an excited anticipation and with the added cultural aspects of the event this walk to my seat is fueled by this. I look around in all directions and take in the magnitude. The Globen is packed, nearly every seat is full. We find our seats in the floor section. I am lucky enough to be here and now I am even luckier to have such great seats. Everything from the car ride to walking to my seats seems magical, a surreal feeling as though I am living in a dream.

The contest begins. There are ten artists and then voting. It is the American Idol finale but only in a language I can't understand. Lucky enough some of the songs are in English, though it is not music I would ever listen to. though there was one great song by an artist called The Moniker. The song is called"oh my god". It was by far my favorite song of the evening and the third best song in overall voting. The crowd favorite seems to be the Justin Bieber of Sweden with a song called "Popular". It is a terrible song but the kid can sing and dance. Everyone is loving the event, singing and dancing and spending a lot of time explaining things to me.

With the Melodifestivalen behind me now I look back and know that I was lucky to partake in that night. It truly is a staple in Swedish culture and a really good time. I now have a ton of crappy pop songs stuck in my head but it is worth it to have experienced it. I look forward to many more experiences like that and many more magical moments. I am living in a dream.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I am a southern man. Give me some tight Levis, a fine pair of boots and now, thanks to my girlfriend, a form fitting long sleeve Henley and I am alright. I like my tea sweet, believe in southern charm and kindness and even a little southern draw. There are many things about the south that are negative but I find that to be the case most every place I have been. No matter how far I go and what I may be doing the south is always on my mind, and most recently my belly. After having spent 6 month working in the mountains I managed to shed 40lbs but after having spent 1 month back in the south I managed to acquire about 10 extra pounds of baggage for my trip. I have had many an acting professor and director try to get the country out of my accent. Many times I feel they and I have succeeded but I know it is still there and it doesn't really bother me. I mention this because I found myself in a discussion about the south here with the family I am visiting. It is a peculiar thing to not have your accent recognized as other than American. I was asked to describe how a southern accent is different than just an American. I. There is where I start, the I. I show how somehow the I becomes its own word with a word. I try to describe a scenario where you can envision a long and slow moving, stagnantly hot and humid, July night from the front porch of a house somewhere on some farm in nowhere Kentucky. The sound of the summers echo loud above the sound of footsteps on the old wooden floor. Here, in this world, it takes just a bit longer to say our vowels because we have no where to be and a world that is moving slowly around us, why not our words as well. They seem to find this amusing and I'm sure hard to understand as it only ever reaches 77 degrees in the summer and the winters are as long as a baptist preachers Sunday. Here, amidst all this snowy white, I think of the green of Kentucky and Tennessee. I think of cavity inducing McAllister's sweet tea over a conversation with Shannon in New Orleans and I think of how,, regardless of the negative, I am proud to be a southerner. I strive to be a souther gentleman. The Swedish lifestyle, aside from the mass quantities if heart-clogging good food, is much akin to the southern lifestyle. The people are very welcoming and inviting and that same southern kindness can be found from nearly everyone. There will be no long and sweat filled summer by the creek, there will be no Dreamland ribs or collard greens but I am finding that the food and the people are all very nice. I am glad to be starting my journey here.

The mind is a powerful and quite a tortuous beast. In the face of extremes the mind can be a great tool used to empower and protect. Or, when faced with stress, an all knowing beast used to tear you apart from the deepest parts of yourself. Your mind holds the secret desires and fears as well as hopes and dreams and knowledge of strengths. This traveling alone is very rewarding but it gives way to time spent dwelling in the bright and also dank parts of my own mind. I would be remiss if not to share how hard dealing with myself, my fears and lack of communication with home is effecting me. I have had encounters with people from many different cultures and they have started to teach me so much about a world once unknown. These moments are why I travel and why I want to tell about the world to all who want to hear. Standing in front of structures by the sea that hold such rich history I have felt the power travel and the warming sensation that comes with once in a lifetime experiences. Dancing in the kitchen with a beautiful young person so full of life and desire to learn and to help teach is a memory like no other. A moment in time that will dance with me forever. Seeing smiling faces and the first goodnight hug before bedtime is indescribable. These are the bright places of my mind that make the dank a lot more manageable. Still though when left ones self the mind will begin to play. I will begin to think about the times when I laughed so hard that I would cry with a little woman that I love very much. Simple things like sharing a meal, or a grandma bar seem like all that matters. The deep longing to speak to the voice that will ease me seems sometimes late as almost too much to stand. Still, though, the mind is powerful and sometimes even able to weigh things before even we realize. The experiences that I have lying out before me and the experiences I have thus far had help assure me that this is a golden opportunity that will lead somewhere spectacular. The public support and well wishes and personal comments I have received give me strength and passion to make this experience something special for myself and now all involved. So while dwelling in those places in your own mind know that if you give way to your dreams, though sometimes hard, it will lead to moments unforgettable and rewarding.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You remember the show "Perfect Strangers"? Well here I am Balcy Bartokomous. The foreign stranger trying to make the best of a debacle. I'm staring down the barrel of a page of cooking directions, in what could be Egyptian hyroglyphs, and looking into the faces of three little hungry people who I am pretty sure know this is not going well and I assume that dinner is going to take a while. It looks pretty straight forward, potatoes and fish with sauce. Sure, given those ingredients I could make something of my own, but that is not the plan. Here they have a delivery system that delivers the ingredients and instructions for a meal for everyday of the week. It is a great system that makes it easy to prepare healthy and quick meals for an expectant family. Easy...well not so much for me. At least on the first night. Luckily I have a little help and I cut the fish toss it into the oven and start the potatoes. Now I learn something that really stings. Potatoes here are very small and we do not receive fresh potatoes until close to may. If you know me you know that I love potatoes with all that I am. So this news really hit hard. Anyway I cook the potatoes and mash them down. Without butter and salt, which I was not used to. Being from the south mashed potatoes are only legit with butter and milk and salt. We sit down to the dinner table and everyone seems suffeciently satisfied with the taste and I enjoy everything as well. I watch as the youngest one puts more food away than anything of that size should. "Mer fisk, Mer fisk" she asks again and again. The next night is curry chicken and rice. This goes a bit easier with the help of google translator and the fact I somewhat know how to cook. I am loving these trying times at dinner. It is really forcing me to learn the language and find a way to communicate.

Bedtime for any is no picnic. I wouldn't say it is terrible or even that bad but it is sometimes a challenge. Aside from the regular not wanting to sleep and wanting to watch a little more t.v. we now have the added difficulty of me trying to read them a story in Swedish. Or better yet me tell a story in English. I am trying but I cannot read the children's books yet. I tried to console the eldest the other day reaching out and letting her know that I needed her help. That she is my big help with the others. This seemed to work and so I tried to tell her a bedtime story. This seemed not to work. I tried speaking slowly, as if that would help. It of course did not. My feeble attempts at hand language was laughable at best. Still, she seemed to enjoy the story and the responsibility of being my helper. It is rewarding to see the development that is happening so far with their language and mine. This experience could be something really fantastic.

So far I am three nights in the bag with my new experience. Three nights of pick ups after school and meeting many new teachers and after school program leaders. I have learned a lot about the children and what my role in their day to day life is going to be. This will be focused on this and being comfortable taking care of them on my own. It is a terrifying thing to be responsible for another life. I have three in my hands. Three that speak a different language and will begin to find that dreadfully frustrating. I do not take this lightly and will put all my power into making it a great and rewarding time for us all.

I will be having many more discussions this week about Swedish politics. I will be learning about European unemployment and poverty and will try to compare and contrast to ours back home. I will also be venturing out into the town and back into the city in search of a job and person unique to Sweden and I will interview and try to get hands on with their jobs. This hopefully will be a knowledge filled and very fun week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fear is a powerful motivator. It can make a person do nearly anything. I sit here tonight and contemplate my fears. I have been afraid to do many things. Afraid that failure was going to be inevitable or that significance would be so trivial. These fears kept me from doing things I should have, and going places I should have. I think of fear and how when faced it is never as bad as we create in our minds. I face fear on a daily basis and put up my best fight. More often than not I feel as though I lose that battle. I still strive to at least put up a fight. They say that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. I take this to mean that whatever "misery" or hard times we have in our life, it is easier to deal with those to maintain the familiar then to escape to an unknown devil and the leave the problems or fear but be faced with the unfamiliar. I see this in America with unemployment and poverty and I have learned that it is the same here in Europe. People are choosing to stay in the "devil they know" or unemployment rather than pack up and follow the jobs. There may be work to be had but people find themselves too afraid to face the devil. Facing the devil is an agonizing battle that eats away at me daily. I sit here alone and agonize nearly in pain with my longing and desires for the familiar, with my want to feel safe. I chose this, the unknown devil, because I hope that I can make it pay off and be far more rewarding than the simple familiar could have. In learning that it is a worldly problem and not just one that I have had and have been witness to nearly all my life I do not find a solution or a way to make it easier but I am trusting that the facing of my devils lead to a new familiar and a new found strength.

Cold and blustery wind rises from the sea and tunnels down between the buildings of Stockholm and pierce my face with the icy tingle of winter. I wrap up a little tighter and try to soak in the sun on my face as I stand on a city sidewalk while Stockholm Central Station rages with the traffic of a Sunday morning behind me. Anxious, I stand and wait. Today is the day I meet the family I will Au Pair for. Lingering doubts and fears present themselves in full force making my knees just a bit weak as I wonder if I will be what they thought, hoping that I can be good enough for the children's lives. My stomach churns with anticipation and fear. I love my surrounding, I love the sea and travel but I hate feeling scared, and I miss my girlfriends smile that eases me and I think of all of this a thousand times over while waiting. Waiting has always been, for me, torture but this waiting takes it to a new place where all there is is doubts fears and desire to run back to the sunny parks of Atlanta and warmth of familiar. Then, as I am contemplating the agony that i feel inside my stomach, a mini-van with the smiling faces of a family happy to meet, finally, someone they have entrusted so much to pulls up to the sidewalk and pops out ready with hugs and greetings. The anxious monster growing power inside my abdominal is now writhing full force as I load my bags climb into the back and feel everything I felt all morning in ten fold. As we ride through city I am a ten year old looking out of the window at the world around me and I feel small and scared and excited.

I arrive at the home I will be living and finally meet the children. Well, kind of. The smallest one is asleep and being shy, the little boy is attached to his father at the leg and refuses to show his face. The eldest, smiles at me with a knowledge admitting that "I know your here, and you don't speak my language." As I try to communicate with her I realize just how difficult this
is going to be until I get into the language class. Hopefully I can learn from them and them from me. It is the time of the afternoon that the Swedish have an after noon snack, so the family and I head to the town center and go to a little cafe filled with delicious looking small deserts and my mouth begins to water with excitement. The fastlagbulle is a floury sweet bun filled with loads of sweet soft cream that the Swedish use as a way of fattening up before lent. I sit with the large fastlagbulle in front of me and hope that it is as good as it looks because there are few things as embarrassing as
trying a new cultures food and wishing that
someone would kill your mouth because it tastes like boogers. As I tear as small piece from the top, dip it in the cream and begin to eat I am filled with a little taste party. It is wonderful. The bun is not to sweet and the cream is a perfect light-as-air consistency. It is a very tasty and very rich treat. I look forward to many more like these.

At dinner we discuss where I came from and my family as well as there. We learn about each other the most that we can over a meal. I learn the calender of activities for the week and what I will be doing. We show the kids where I am from on the map and just how far I was from home. We discuss and struggle with the differences in the metric system and Celsius to Fahrenheit. Then it is time for me to head down to my studio apartment. It is sleek with Swedish design and very clean. A small white table rests poetically under a green and yellow painting with a vase of tulips. A small bed lays in front of a small window and four large closet cabinets. All in all the sharp white of the room filled with splashes of color is very aesthetically pleasing but I feel the anxious monster churning below as I am overwhelmed with the reality that this is my home. I un-pack quickly and begin to relax and soak in my new surroundings. This will surely be a struggle and an adventure that will test and teach me so much. I look forward to all that is ahead of me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The sun rose on a new chapter in my adventure and, quite literally, my new day. The sun shone bright and the spectacularly beautiful buildings of the city bask in the morning light. I step out into the streets and soak up the sun myself with a smile starting to form itself and I begin to venture out into the Old Town. Stockholm is a very magical place. Within a stones throw from where I am staying there is the Old Town. Small cobble stone streets create my path into a world that I have only seen pictures. I cannot contain my excitement as I walk, holding back a skip that I am sure would draw negative attention! I walk down these streets and feel as though I am in a dream. Everything seems to be centuries old, yet still contains an shimmer as if built yesterday. My head turns from left to right and straight up to the towers of the curches all around at a pace that I will regret this evening. Sweet shops, cafe's, and pubs surround me and I want to look into every window. Suddenly I exit the Old Town street and am placed on the edge of the frozen water that surrounds the city. I stare in awe of the beauty of the broken ice upon the water and the bridges above. Here from my perch I can see just how magnificent the city is. There is history and beauty in every direction I look. Excitement rises as I think of how I will be able to surround myself with this anytime I want! I look forward to getting lost in this city very often. I begin to walk again toward a cathedral and what appears to be a crowd gathered at the Palace.

It may be my American need for immediacy or the fact that my ear drums are on the brink of collapse from the frigid Archipelago wind but I begin to grow impatient as I stand in the crowd and wait for what I assume will be the changing of the guard. A soldier begins to speak into a furry microphone in Swedish, so I am still no closer to figuring out the mystery of the crowd, and it is no warmer. My mind has to fight my feet in there desire to flee and take me somewhere more warm. I am glad that my mind won this battle because the man and the furry microphone were finished and the changing of the guards was soon to begin. A silence fell upon the crowd seconds before a cheer came from a group of young Swedish soldiers standing at the ready. They began their march to the center of the courtyard as the twelve o'clock bells rang freedom and echoed through the streets. A distant sound of steady drumming could be heard marching closer to the rhythm of a hundred soldiers heartbeats. My anticipation rose to a climax as many more soldiers entered the Palace courtyard beating drums and marching with the Swedish colors flying beautifully in that same frigid wind. Immersed in this history and rich culture I can only think that I am very lucky to have chanced upon this moment. My heart beats, now, to the same sound of the drumming and I smile and stand in awe of the history that surrounds me. Staring into the colors of the guard at changing I am happy, I am reminded again why I travel. In that moment I am overcome by luck that I have to be able to stand there healthy and free and full of life.
This is a poem that I wrote recently. It is a story about overcoming adversity, having dreams and hard work. Many people are not dealt the hand they had hoped for, many children grow up the way that I did, and we all have hard times that come. This is a story that shows no matter how dark the shadows, with dreams and hard work, we can still grow in spite of the shade. This story can trace it roots back to a little shaded spot by the creek in Auburn Kentucky that I would go when things were tough, or I had so much on my mind that I needed an escape. Here in the shadows by the water I could find a solace and a peace free of the grime that was around me. Here I could breath and dream of a place that was far away from the unfairness of it all. I would sit for hours and escape into my wild imagination. I could go anywhere and be anyone, this was my "Over the rainbow". I can still remember those dreams and recall those hours and I strive to be the tree that grew in those shadows in spite of the shade.

There was a tree born by the river,

In the shadow of many taller trees.

As this tree fought for sunlight

He grew in spite of the shade.

As the clouds floated by in the sky overhead

The young tree dreamt of being on the move.

The world moved around him years seeming by the hundreds

The young tree grew in spite of the shade.

One day as the sun shone bright

The young tree felt the sun.

As he basked in the light he dreamt of rootlessness

He shook with desire to move like the clouds.

As his leaves shook and his mind raced

Something strange happened; his roots removed themselves from the earth.

The still young tree began to travel with no roots.

Everywhere that he would go he would plant himself and become a new tree.

He grew upon Peruvian soil and let the llamas eat his fruit.

He traveled as a tiny tree in a pot across the sea as a sailor watered him and shared his soul.

The young tree grew in the red earth of Africa as a Baobab

Lions sharpened there claws upon his bark and at nights the birds used him for rest.

Everywhere that he traveled he became something new

Still he remembered the clouds over head and the dreams dreamt in the shade.

Though he traveled and shaped he never forgot how hard he fought to travel

He grew and moved with no roots in spite of the shade.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today is a travel day for me. I woke up and prepared my things to depart the Sleep in Heaven and Copenhagen. I took the bus to the Central Station and went back to the ticket office. I was informed that the last ticket of the weekend was a first class seat for 200 USD. That was not what I expected but at least I would be comfortable. I grabbed a bite and waited for my train. The train came and I found my seat. It was an extra wide seat by the window. I was lucky to find a plug for the computer but unlucky to find that smell. Early this morning old pickle smell and juicy trash bag smell met up and formulated a diabolical plan against my nostrils! I tried to fight it by burring my head into my scarf. Fail! I tried to smell my tea. Fail! I seemed destined to be tied to this smell for the duration of my train ride. First class my ass. That was my ride.

I would like to go back and comment on the Central Station of Copenhagen. It was my first real life taste of the wizarding world. I felt as though I was in a train station out of a Harry Potter book. Needless to say I loved it and it was awesome!

I arrived in Stockholm and exited the central station to find blustery cold. It is fine though because Stockholm is very beautiful. The first thing that I noticed was the architecture. It is a very contemporary and streamlined style. The city is far more clean then Copenhagen. I am staying at the City Lodge Hostel. It is clean and quite, though I cannot wear my shoes inside. I am fine with this but I have never encountered this. Tomorrow will be a more interesting day. I am going to interview a worker here at the City Lodge as well as a few guests. I am surrounded by Russians, Germans, French and many others. I am interested to learn why everyone is traveling, what they do for a living and how that effects this thing that I am doing and you back home.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The cobbled stone of the early morning streets are still cold with the wet of winter. The Copenhagen sky is still gray and the breath is visible as I exhale. I watch my breath, as a child pretending to smoke, rise to the tops of the buildings. I walk to the bus stop to catch the 250 s to the train station. As I arrive to the Corner I hear the shouting of an African man. He is shouting to a black man running across the street. "Run nigger.. You bet' know all white men tink' you a nigger!" Yay! I thought. I stayed though at that stop, choosing not to find the next one. I knew better but hoped that he would not come to talk to me. Alas, he did. From five feet I could smell the liquor on his breath and his eyes were glassed over. He stumbles as he speaks to me about why I think, if I do, that all people hate Africa. Why are there no buildings like the ones here in Africa? He asked me these questions and I let him speak. He then asked me if I felt this way and I told him no. He then shook my hand. I looked up from the streets and say what I thought to be my rescue in the form of an auto bus. Insert big cartoon like eyeroll.... now! This rescue bus, I was informed, was his as well. As I entered the bus I paid the driver and escaped to the top tier and found a great seat. I thought for a moment about the craziness of the man. How could he be so drunk so early? Why does he think everyone thinks those thing? I wish he had just left me lone, I think. Then I think again, I didn't mind so much, and it opens a window into the culture of racism as viewed by a African Dane and how that compares to the culture of racism in th US.

I decided that I would ride the bus for a bit to get a cheaper site seeing tour. I enjoyed my ride and saw some very beautiful buildings and parks. I then arrived at the Central Train Station and realized that I had not brought my wallet. This would make purchasing a train ticket to Stockholm pretty hard. I priced one and left. Next I found out just how expensive Copenhagen is when I decided to walk into the McDonald's on the corner. I was curious as to how it would compare. McDonald's back home makes this one a not very funny joke. A single cheese burger is 10 Kroner. 10 Kroner is roughly 2 dollars. It comes with no ketchup, mustard or pickles. It has lettuce and big mac sauce. It is no dollar double cheese! No double cheese at all. I am also blown away by the price of Coke here. At McDonald's a small Coke is 15 Kroner, about 2.50USD.

I then spent a while walking the city. I visited Tivoli, which is a theme park of sorts. It is closed now, but in the open season it is a shopping center that has shows and some smaller carnival rides. It looks like it could be a nice time. It is located in the center of Copenhagen, just outside the train station. It then lead me to a street with two pubs. One of which boasts "Probably the finest selection of beers in town" . The other boasts "Probably the best beer in town.". I find this hillarious that the Danes are so modest that they do not even brag on there advertisments. In America every place boasts "Worlds Best Beer" and "Worlds Best Everything"! That is how you bring in business!

I made some visits to shops and thought very hard about getting another sweet from another shop but I opted out. I then decided to hop back onto the bus and ride to the other parts of town. I enjoyed seeing the sites from the window but I do wish to come back sometime when it is not so overcast and ugly out. There is just a better feel in the sun. I then had a Kebab proper at another Kebab place. It was quite good. One of the Doner Kebabs where they slice the meat off of a rotating stick. It was in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and onions. It was very tasty and satisfying after a long day.

I sit now back at the Sleep in Heaven hostel surrounded by the ambient sound of many different languages. It is an incredible experience to sit and listen to the different cultures making the same calls I want to be. Watching people as they process the surroundings and experiences I am going through in there own way. People sit in corners and type into there computers, some have much to loud phone or skype conversations and some sit with friends and eat as they discuss the day. All of this is happening to the soundtrack of american jazz, listened to by the hostel employees. These are the moments I enjoy traveling.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I have made it, I must say solemnly, through the first day. I now know what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land. Ha, it is an oddly unsettling feeling. Tonights menu consisted of King Kebab and Pizza! After walking a few blocks more than I wanted to look for this recommended Kates Joint I stumbled hungrily into King Kebab. It was a very tasty pizza. Hand rolled and tossed dough and fresh cheeses made it taste better than the run down bodega looked. Afterwards I couldn't help but indulge in a sweet. Copenhagen has many, many pastry and sweet shops and through the window all day they called to me to liberate them from there current dwelling and let them take up residence in my tummy! I bought a little sweet, the name still unknown, that consisted of a white and chocolate cream puffed high between two oatmeal and chocolate crisps. It was every bit as good as it sounds and looked. Though a little to sweet to finish. Never fear I believe that science tells us that treats like that make a nutritious breakfast, can't argue with science.

I am again sitting in the hostel listening to my own playlists being played by the workers who are all Danish. I just had a talk about how everyone here loves Bob Dylan, Black Keys and most importantly Bruce. It is nice to hear familiar music on a day so overcast with my anxiety and fears of the new land. Oh and based on the musical tastes I assumed that they would like to hear my friend Eric Wilson. As it turns out they know Eric and love him I am soon to be on my way to email him the news.

I am here, abroad, for a mission. I am trying to take it all in and learn how these people truly live, how they get there hands dirty and work. In the bit that I have observed today I notice that the Danes are a friendly people very interested in the community aspect of life. Everyone seems to be content talking, laughing and having a coffee. I haven't learned any of the intricacies of the Danish working or cultural life but I hope to. As for no I can say that they love bikes and take it to a whole new level. Bike interstates I might say, and I do. One thing is also for certain the Danish people LOVE 7/11! There is a 7/11 on every corner. That is seriously not an overstatement. There really is one on nearly every corner.

As for now I am trying to beat this jet lag, skype with my Anne, and relax. I await, impatiently, a sunnier and more well rested tomorrow.
I am sitting alone at a corner table awaiting my bed in the Sleep in Heaven Hostel in a very cold and gray Copenhagen morning. There are many stimuli to keep my mind racing and trying to process but as I sit here now I am in one of those "Oh shit!" moments where all I want to do is run home to the states. This is a new concept to me considering I have been wanting nearly all my life to leave and explore. I am just wondering and hoping that this little plan that I am working on pays off. I have to make it worth it because right now there is a fire from the pain of leaving. It is not an easy thing to adventure while loving someone back home. she and I are in a good place and both believe you have to chase your dreams while they will lead you as not to come to despise the choices you made to sacrifice and stay. That sounds like a logical and mature thought, sure, but it is damn hard. Nearly impossible to leave the comfort of arms you love so much. To leave that safety nest for such unknown is gut wrenchingly painful, so I will make it worth it.

Today will be a recovery day from travel. I will journey into the central station in search of the coveted and mythical plug converter and then I will rest and try to fight the jet lag. I think that I will get some coffee and try to take as much in as possible. It will be hard to learn a new language in a place that English is so present but I will try. Things in Denmark are very similar to a city in the US. So far it is much like visiting the historic districts of New Orleans and Nashville. As the day progresses so may theses thoughts.