Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweden Haunts My life:


What an exciting week it has been. First off I’m feeling crazy energized these days and as strange as it may sound, my musical tastes are once again undergoing a major transformation. The last time this happened was in 2004-2006, when I could tell you the name, artist, as well as recite the lyrics to all the newest dance music hitting the scene. This was mainly due to both of my stints in San Francisco, where every weekend was spent dancing in the Castro. Usually evenings ended with a quick cab home–with a quick pit stop to ‘Broadway and Columbus please!'–which are the directions to the cab driver–and also the location of the city's greatest drunk burgers, fries, and coke. From there it was just a quick stumble back up my neighborhood, and to my house, within Russian Hill–before my head hit the pillow. How times have changed.

I’m leaving for Denmark tomorrow night and I can’t wait. Five whole days of Nordic design. Carlsberg/Tuborg, good food and friends. I’ve been trying to decide in which direction to take my life come December. The prowl/search for the next step of my life has begun. I was in contact with the editor-in-chief of a Nordic design magazine based in Sweden last week. The editor said, ‘judging from your CV it looks like you know architecture and design.’ He's very correct. And what a compliment. I don’t think I’ve ever been so touched or struck by such nice regards in accordance to my life and it’s relation to architecture and design. And in all honesty it was one of the few times I’ve ever heard it from someone else. Even if I feel I know architecture and design, it’s always nice to hear it reverberated, which only makes my stance in my self confidence, even firmer.

Speaking of Sweden, it’s pretty much haunting my life. I'll elaborate.

The more I think about it–a large number of the artists in my music library are Swedish, my very first CD as a kid was Swedish band Ace of Base’s 'The Sign'–(because, don't we all own that?). So Sweden has been attacking me because: This Nordic design magazine made an appearance in my life, I saw the new theatrical version of Mamma Mia last week, I’m going to Denmark tomorrow (from which you can see Sweden), and to top things off, I had my first IKEA experience a week or so ago. I’ve been all over Sweden and it really is a beautiful country inhabited with beautiful people to match. But it’s the architecture, cities, and the atmosphere of the country that make it seem such a world away. And that leaves me breathless. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to return to Stockholm in the near future.Magical Stockholm, a city made of an amalgam of over 20 islands. I have a massive architecture tour planned for this weekend in Copenhagen. So many new buildings have gone up in the city, since I left. 

Bringing my thoughts back to Amsterdam and pulling my heads out of the clouds for a second. The Amsterdam Half Marathon I’ll be running is four weeks away. I can’t wait. I ran 10K last night with a friend–who is also my partner in crime for all my athletics adventures here in Amsterdam. There’s this really great website called walkjogrun.net that works with google maps to plan your running routes, tell you the distance, time routes take based off your speed, and tells you how many calories the run burns. Genius. You can even create a profile and save your routes, which I’ve naturally done.

Also, I joined a swim team here in Amsterdam. Pumped. I had my first practice last Friday and my second tonight. I forgot how much work competitive swimming is and have no idea how I used to swim nine times a week: two and a half hours a practice, three morning practices a week (which I had to wake up at 4:00 to be at the pool by 5:30. Was I insane? No–just driven. But since then 4:00 has become and always will be my favorite time of day. Still early enough that the day is unspoiled and practically desolate–few people are out and about, and the sun is just beginning to creep over the horizon. It’s just beautiful).

I absolutely love being in shape again. My body just feels great, and healthy, and my body now naturally craves healthy food/fuel. The idea of a cheeseburger/fries/or other heavy meal does not sound sexy to my ears. And so I’ve basically stopped eating processed foods–with the exception of yoghurt, crunchy muesli, and chocolate. Quite a transformation on my part. I just really enjoy making my own food. And why not really? Baking and cooking is so much fun. It’s such a different form of creative outlet than anything I’m used to. I’m discovering all these food publications these days, also. One of my favorites is Smitten Kitchen. The bread she makes is wonderful.

I’m currently working on a feature article for the next issue of one the magazines I currently write for, that I couldn’t be any more thrilled about. Thrilled: that seems to be the general theme of the thoughts weaving through this post, but hey, I’m in a great mood and I guess when that happens. I really enjoy writing. The article: it’s a photo essay of shorts. A five or six page spread highlighting abandoned amusement parks with a one or two page introductory article by yours truly which will raise questions about the parks in relation to the ideas of public space, the idea of cities as theme parks, how unnatural and controlled theme parks really are, as well as the idea of nature reclaiming them–since they’re abandoned. Just how normal/natural is the theme park? Not at all. The article will feature abandoned amusement parks in Japan, Korea, Russia, the UK, and–Ohio. As much as I’m firmly rooted in Europe for the time being, I jumped at the chance to include a park from the USA in the piece. And the photos I found of the park in Ohio are incredible. I found them on a Flickr site maintained by a woman from Ohio–who just happens to be studying in Utrecht. 

My future always seems to work itself out somehow–though usually not until the last minute. But somehow things always fall into place for me. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in a year.