The Sun Also Rises (in California, at least)

Anyone who says time travel is impossible has just never flown from East to West.

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So I’m back in California! Getting on a plane on a very very dark Danish morning, and getting off that plane to 25˚C (78˚F) blistering sunshine and characteristic Riverside smog, definitely felt like legitimate teleportation. It is very strange to be back.

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DAWG

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Contemplative bro

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Every year on Dec 24-25, Buttons magically becomes elf-dog

One of the first things I did when back in CA was to climb as many hills and mountains and things as possible. There hasn’t been a single cloudy day since I got back!

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Sycamore Canyon in Riverside

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Morning walks. So good to see a sunrise again

From the top of Box Springs with Nick and Gaby

From the top of Box Springs with Nick and Gaby

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“Hiking” up to the Hollywood sign with the cousins

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There are lots of feels that come along with packing up and moving across ocean and continent, leaving so many things and people behind and not knowing if or when you’ll ever see them again. But, the literal “bright” side is that I’m coming home to such a beautiful place!

Times They Are a-Changin’

I’m leaving Denmark on Monday, and my physical life is now in boxes. It’s a weird middle ground—neither here nor there, a transition. I have to choose what to take and what to leave behind. Of course there are some things that I can’t help but take — like memories and experiences and the way I’ve permanently changed because of this wonderful place with its wonderful people. But each of these internal mementos can also map to the material. The age of digital pictures has made it easy to take around some of life’s reminders on a laptop, but what about all the things that are only physically tangible, things you just cannot take? There’s my guitar. It was cheap but it got me through long days, and I’ve become a better musician because of it. But I have to sell it. There’s this random Danish lotion I got from the supermarket. I wore it all summer, and if the Copenhagen sunshine ever had a distinctive smell, it’s of that lotion. But I don’t have room to pack it. Then there are permanent fixtures about Denmark itself that I of course can’t bring — Kaffenhavn, my favorite coffee shop; the park near Christianshavn, the clean air, the 150S bus. Perhaps I’m anthropomorphizing too much, but I’ve ascribed personal importance to everyday things, and I’m going to miss all of it.

But, I know this will happen countless times in life. We simply can’t hold on to everything.

Change is a constant presence. I’ve had to come to terms with this in the last five months. I guess this is what scares me about any future prospects of living outside of safe little Southern California for extended periods of time — I’m leaving a piece of myself in every place I go, and what if I just become Voldemort with a bunch of horcruxes scattered throughout the world (except Voldemort was an idiot and only hid his in Great Britain… greatest dark wizard ever YEAH RIGHT). And this prospect of wandering is simultaneously frightening and exhilarating.

But I guess that’s one of the fascinating philosophical aspects about studying planets and the universe (you knew I would make this post about space, didn’t you). The world is carved up with geographical and cultural divides, but every human being shares the same last line on their addresses: Earth. It sounds damn cheesy, but it’s comforting to know that we all, in a sense, have the same home. So no matter where I go, I guess I’m always at home. 🙂

A photo of Earth from Voyager I in 1990, 6 billion km away

“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” — Carl Sagan

24 Hours in Edinburgh

A few weeks ago I made a short (and cheap!) trip to Edinburgh. I can’t really explain why I wanted to go there specifically; something about the castles and weather and paying homage to J.K. Rowling appealed to me. What little time I did have there was lovely, but since I’m not a person to be rushed, I didn’t get to see that much of the city.

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View from Copenhagen Airport before the flight

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ATMOSPHERES

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Breakfast! They call breakfast paninis “toasties” hehe.

I am an enormous fan of writing and/or working in coffee shops and cafes. So naturally, I had to visit one of the cafes that the literary badass J.K. Rowling frequented, where she wrote much of the first Harry Potter (as a single mom living on welfare).

 

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It’s called The Elephant House. It was made especially cozy by the view of Edinburgh Castle from the window, and the ominous gray clouds outside. And since I have you here and we’re talking about J.K. Rowling, I’ll just slip in this tangential-but-beautiful little excerpt from her 2008 Harvard commencement address:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

ANYWAY BACK ON TRACK

Here are some nice pictures of the city:

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As you can see… there is incredible architecture in Edinburgh. Cathedrals and castles are literally around every corner. I think that’s the thing I found most unique: this synthesis of the past and the pending in the interface between lumpy weathered cobblestone streets, and modern hipster coffee shops.

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and proof that I was really there

24 hours definitely wasn’t enough—Edinburgh is still largely a mystery to me.

 

Min rejse til London!

Last week I had autumn break—the mid-semester week off from school that’s sort of equivalent to Thanksgiving break, but with much less turkey and cranberries. So I went to visit London! Here’s a jumble of pictures that is in no way chronological, complete with annotations.

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I was only there for three days so this might be a completely inaccurate observation, but the first thing I thought is that London is a lot like a Europeanized San Francisco. It’s much more bustling than CPH, and there’s a little more of that edge that keeps you very alert all the time. There are two-story buses barreling the wrong way down the street (okay fine, it’s the right way in the UK, but it was difficult for my brain to comprehend that) blaring their horns at jaywalking pedestrians, and it just seems much louder than CPH in general. It’s also an incredibly sprawling city, and thus they have an extensive underground metro—colloquially known as the Tube.

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As I was wandering around, I came across Kings Cross station!! See, I even found Platform 9 3/4, with a bunch of muggles surrounding it. Good thing it’s not September 1, or wizard public transport would have gotten a lot more difficult.

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Starbucks in the US, Baresso in Copenhagen, and Costa in London—as much as I *love* independent coffee shops, there’s just something about chain stores that has a certain charm. Although London had a Starbucks QUITE LITERALLY ON EVERY CORNER,on every OTHER corner, you can find a Costa. Pretty okay standard chain coffee. And the intensely sugary concoction you see above was the Hazelnut Toffee Latte ❤

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I wandered through the enormous and gorgeous Hyde Park. It would be so perfect for running on a nice day!

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I just happened to walk past the Royal Astronomical Society!!! It was closed, but I still felt in awe just the same.

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Moreso than all the “must-see” sites like the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the one thing in London that I really had my heart set on was going to Hatchard’s Booksellers—the oldest bookshop in London. I was essentially a kid in a candy store and I had the urge to collapse in an awestruck heap. (And I fought that urge, successfully!) Instead, I bought an Austen book—I thought it was fitting to read English authors while in England.

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I’m a total sucker for these kinds of signs.

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SPACE BOOKS!

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Another place I had my heart set on going to was Monmouth Coffee, and it did NOT disappoint. Probably the best cappuccino I’ve had in a long, long time. But apparently it was a modern Madam Puddifoot’s, and this hilarious Spanish couple in the corner would NOT stop snogging and giggling. So I left a little sooner than I’d have liked.

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lololololol this dude has HAD IT in Costa

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I went to Chinatown one evening for drinks!

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I was meaning to visit Borough Market, but I happened upon it quite accidentally (“We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents!”). It’s this BEAUTIFUL outdoor market (covered, thankfully, from the rain) with a countably infinite selection of fresh food. There was one place that was selling kangaroo burgers, and I would totally have loved to try one if I had been hungry.

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The Thames river is as brown in real life as they say it is.

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The weather was excellent (surprisingly, I’m told) and there was very little rain. But the constant oscillation between dark clouds and sunshine made a beautiful background for the city.

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This is the Tower Bridge as seen from London Bridge. Which, incidentally, was not falling down.

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The Tower of London!

My verdict: I love London. It’s an incredibly diverse city and I definitely want to go back.