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!

Latitude Adjustment – A day in my shoes!

If you live in southern California, you’re probably used to looking up around 12pm and seeing the sun approximately overhead, almost year round, right? Here in the land of Vikings, as we are blessed to be at 55 degrees latitude, the tilt of the Earth is much more dramatically felt. This means that in summer, the sun is out for a really long time—rising around 4am and setting fully around 21.30 (9:30pm)—and in winter, the sun only makes a guest appearance in our daily lives.

I use a program called Stellarium to see exactly what the sky looks like without clouds or other disturbances. You can set different dates and times, or turn features on to see constellations and other details. This is what Saturday looked like, facing South (the landscape is just a generic background) :

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At approximately noon

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Note the timestamp in the bottom center: That’s where the sun was at 3PM!

Check out how low the sun seems to stay to the ground! It also doesn’t “rise in the East, set in the West” like we’ve always been taught—in winter it’s more like rising in the Southeast and setting in the Southwest. In summer it’s Northeast and Northwest.

While this is really cool from a scientific standpoint, it’s not so practical—these are some dark days!

Everyone’s Favorite Things: Politics and Weather

The local elections in Copenhagen are coming up soon, so you literally cannot stand within any given 10ft^3 volume in the city without being inundated by a smorgasbord of different posters featuring rather attractive Danes and their campaign slogans. Learning about Danish politics from my friends has been incredibly interesting, and has changed a lot of the way I look at politics in the US. I’ve mentioned in a previous post a bit about it.

From The Copenhagen Post

The issues on the table are fascinating. Some may seem more minor, like whether the government should accommodate cars or bicycles more (definitely something that would never even be a question in California). Others are cultural, like the degree of immigrant integration into Danish culture. And then you have the standard questions of higher or lower taxes, job creation, legalizing pot, etc.

Copenhagen is most definitely not bipartisan. Almost all of the parties are more liberal than the American left, and the party names can get quite confusing: “Konservative,” “Liberal Alliance” (actually leans center-right, comparatively), “Radikale Venstre” which means “The Radical Left” (actually falls more in the middle), “Socialdemokraterne,” “Socialistisk Folkeparti” which is “The Socialist People’s Party,” and “Enhedslisten” which was formed out of a merger of socialist and communist parties. And those aren’t even all of them. There’s even a small communist party, “Kommunisterne,” something that would be so unheard of in the US. I’m quite lucky to be good friends with several politically-minded Danes, and we’ve had long conversations about all of this.

So in case all of this talk of politics is causing any tension or inducing any naps, we’ll now switch to a much more docile topic: Danish weather!

I think I was more or less prepared for the cold (and it’s only going to get worse!), but what I did not know is that Denmark is actually the Dementor-land of soul-crushing darkness! Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously dude, the sun rises around 8 and begins to set around 16.30 (4:30pm). Soul. Crushing. And this is why the Danes have invented the concept of hygge!

Regardless, it’s still beautiful 🙂

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And it’s not always cloudy; on the rare sunny days you literally run outside screaming with Vitamin D overdose and all the world seems bright again.

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Thoughts on Home

I’m really big on associations. I associate certain music, weather, food, and feelings with specific time periods, or locations, or events. And I guess for some reason right now, everything is reminding me of California.

I don’t intend for this post to be self-indulgent, or complaining. But when I need catharsis, I write. So here’s the way I honestly feel right now, thinking about California while sitting on my bed in Denmark.

I miss the intense September heat that makes you sit in your car for a few extra minutes, reluctant to leave the luxury of air-conditioning. As much as I think the Danish clouds are fascinating (both for reasons of atmospheric dynamics and of creative inspiration), there’s that born-and-raised part of me that loves the blistering sunshine of this time of year, when everyone is starting school again and cross-country practices are pushed to the evening because running in 104 degrees is just a bad idea.

In my gmail inbox this morning was an email from Starbucks heralding the advent of the glorified *~PuMpKiN sPiCe LaTtE~* season: what was once a nice treat in October, marking the beginning of autumn, has now expanded its sticky cinnamony reaches to span September through December. I guess my feelings about it are influenced by the fact that Southern California doesn’t experience “autumn” until like, early November when you maaaybe should start thinking about wearing a sweater, so I just think it’s hilarious. The latte itself is definitely overly-sweet and a little nauseating if you get anything larger than a Tall (12 oz, for you who do not speak Starbucks), especially because when you open the lid you notice how unhealthily orange-colored it is. BUT, I drink them every year. It’s just a tradition; you just do it. It’s like taking a shot of Gammel Dansk on your birthday. You just do it because you always have and you always will. (okay fine, that’s a terrible philosophy for doing anything, but the aliens from Slaughterhouse Five said so! And trust me, with the PSL, you drink first and ask questions later.) So, all of that goes to say that I miss ridiculous SoCal traditions. And on the note of coffee, I miss the Riverside Starbucks and Pasadena Peet’s where the baristas know my name.

Like I mentioned earlier, I create really strong associations between music and nouns (people / places / things). This is a little inconvenient, because no matter what I throw on on iTunes, it manages to give me a bit of nostalgia. And I love nostalgia, but it’s not so helpful when I’m trying to work or write and every five seconds I’m interrupted by my brain going, “Oh hey! This song is from that one time when _____! Wasn’t that great?” And I’m like, “No, brain, BE HERE NOW” (which just so happens to be an As Tall As Lions song… great.) So listening to Brand New makes me remember the road trip to San Francisco with Mike, and listening to Ratatat or anything instrumental makes me remember working at The Planetary Society and doing research in Cahill with the Exolab. Listening to Rocky Votolato and The Shins reminds me of Ruddock House and ski trip, and listening to Look Mexico reminds me of running in high school. The list could go on forever.

There is honestly so much more that I could say, but I don’t know if I want to write my first novel on WordPress. Of course, don’t get me wrong—I am incredibly lucky to be having adventures in Denmark. I love it here. Plus, a lot of this homesickness is definitely fueled by the fact that classes haven’t started yet and I’ve been twiddling my thumbs a bit. I am sure that once I have projects to work on and problems to solve, I’ll be more focused on being here in this wonderful country. But I’ll always be a Californian first. 🙂