Wednesday, April 08, 2009

gin & tonic sorbet

what i love about the blogosphere is how it's constantly expanding, like the universe. it gives us new ideas and brings us new inspiration and new friends all the time. and new friends mean new opportunities to play old games. :-) so, thanks to my new blog friend polly, who writes beautiful things like this (go read it now and come back, i'll wait, believe me, it's worth it), i have five new interview questions. we know i adore this format, so here goes...

Polly: I know you've lived in Denmark for some time now. As An American in Copenhagen, (Gershwin's new tune) what do you like the most & the least about being an expat in Europe?

me: it's so strange to realize that i've lived in denmark for more than ten years now. where did all that time go? it's been so full of experiences and laughter and fun, that i really can't believe how it's flown by.

i have to say that i feel less like an expat than i once did and that now i really only have that expat feeling  when i choose to, which does still happen occasionally and usually after an encounter with an especially cold, unfeeling aspect of danish culture.

what i like most about being an expat in denmark is that i more or less have permission (at least psychologically) to treat situations which bewilder me in some sense from an anthropological standpoint--as an analytical observer of the strange behavior of the natives.

what i like least: during the bush administration, answering for all of its sins just because of the passport i carry. i didn't vote for the man, and could definitely not explain him. but thankfully that's over. actually, the same happened during the waning years of the clinton administration, where i was asked to explain what we were doing to our president over the whole monica lewinsky thing. my response was always the disarming comment that i would have been doing what monica had done if i'd been given the chance--clinton was totally magnetic if you ever saw him in person.

the other thing i like least is that i fear that i will become a permanent speaker of the language we affectionately call "danglish." this is a mixture of english and danish, which pretty much takes the worst of both and throws them into a grammatical/verbal mishmash. i feel at times a distance from the vibrancy of living within a culture of which the native tongue is your native tongue and therefore you are hip to all of the neologisms as they happen (staycation, carmageddon and the like). i fear i will preserve some mid-90s version of english for all eternity (or at least the rest of my life).

Polly: And if not in Copenhagen, where do you think you would be right now?

me: this is a very interesting question, not least because i've pondered it on occasion. but even more so because if you'd told me fifteen years ago that in fifteen years, i'd be living in a house with my husband and daughter in a small town of 18,000 in denmark, married to a guy i met in macedonia, and commuting to work in the shipping industry in norway, i'd have laughed and said it was completely impossible. i could never in my wildest imagination have imagined the series of events that would have to happen for me to be in that situation. and yet, here i am, doing all of those things. so i think it's not a question we can ever really even imagine the answer to.

what i imagined would happen with my life was that i'd finish my Ph.D. and be teaching slavic literature at some american university somewhere (preferably somewhere like berkeley, but more likely somewhere like KU (no offense to kansas, they at least used to have a perfectly good slavic program with an emphasis on the south slavic even, i almost went there but instead chose chicago)) because you have to take what's available the year you graduate.

instead, i am ABD on the Ph.D. and don't intend to ever finish. i unexpectedly met a nice danish boy in the balkans and followed him home. in a fit of boredom i ended up working in the software industry and accidentally worked for microsoft for a few years. then i found myself in the maritime industry, which feels strangely like home for someone who grew up in the middle of the US about as far from big-ass ships as you can get.

i guess if it wasn't copenhagen, it could be oslo or singapore or hong kong or manila. i could see myself ending up working for lloyd's list or trade winds or fairplay, reporting on shipping industry news.

but, you really never know where life will take you, so i try to stay open to the possibilities that present themselves.

Polly: Your latest obsession is eyeballs and you seem to be a very creative and crafty person. What inspires your creativity?

i think a lot about this and am trying to tune in to what inspires me, in the hopes that i can make it happen a bit more. but what i'm learning is that you can't make it happen. but, what i think you can make happen is being in a state of openness to inspiration. but i find that i'm not very good at predicting what will inspire. a flea market or a museum visit often can do it, but of late, the light falling a certain way on a branch might be what grabs me. sometimes i'm surprised by what makes me feel inspired.

flickr almost always inspires, but i sometimes feel it mires me down too much and actually serves more to overwhelm me or lead me astray than truly inspire me.

i get a lot of inspiration from my reading and i read a lot...articles, books, fiction, non-fiction.  i think it goes without saying that i find a lot of inspiration in the blogosphere (and yet i felt compelled to say it, hmm...).

i have a couple of highly creative friends who i try to spend time with when i have a lot of ideas swirling in my head, but can't see a way of making them come together. because that's the thing about me, sometimes i have given myself so much input that i get stuck on the output part. i think i need to develop a more disciplined way of dealing with that (but that's the stuff of more pondering and another post).

i'm also a person who is inspired by a deadline. together with a friend, i signed up for an art exhibition at the end of october, because i need a goal like that to go for. i know that the pressure of needing to have enough things to exhibit will inspire me and spark my creativity. it's just how i work.

but probably what inspires me most are the daily conversations i have with husband. he's a super smart, funny, thoughtful person. he thinks about things and articulates his thoughts very well. he has lots of wacky ideas, but usually they only appear wacky at first and then you realize they're really deep (and probably somehow related to evolution/cultural capital/the industrial revolution). he's also got a marvelous ability to see things in fresh, new ways. if i'm stuck on an idea, i tell him about it and he always, always helps me see it from a fresh, new angle. i love that about him.

and i do think i'm getting over the eyeball thing, because i've started to notice and think about nests...oh, and stones. and i'm developing a bit of a thing about windmills, especially old decrepit ones. i hope this new obsession doesn't go all cervantes on me...

Polly:  A fashion question:  If you could only live with one accessory for the rest of your life, which would it be and why? Only one item! (I've been asked this question, it's a good one... )

me:  i have a lovely pale green (we have a cloudy day and it doesn't look very green in this photo) embroidered pashmina that i bought in goa a couple of years ago. at the time, i didn't really need it, but i also didn't want to go home empty-handed after a very eventful trip. i almost didn't buy it because the guy selling it rubbed me the wrong way, but then one of my colleagues was going to buy one too and the price suddenly got better if we both bought one, so i went for it (totally to help her out, you know, altruistic me).

i'm so glad i bought it, because i have used it so much. i've bought two seasons of winter coats to match it, i've used it as my only "coat" on a cool summer evening. it dresses up any outfit and gives it a touch of exoticism and luxury. just yesterday, i wore it to the funeral and some of the other guests were trying to appropriate it from the coat rack at the house, thinking it had belonged to the deceased and was now fair game. (luckily, i retrieved it in time.)

it wears beautifully, i've had it dry-cleaned a couple of times, but it continues to look like new. it's a color i never tire of and now that i'm doing a bit of embroidery myself, i find myself carefully inspecting the marvelous stitchwork. so my one accessory would most definitely be this scarf.

but i'd be pretty sad to give up my "obama won" ring.

Polly:  Everyone in this chain of interviews have asked and answered this next question so now it's your turn :-)  If you had to choose a flavor of ice cream that most fits your personality, what kind do you think you would you be? Feel free to make one up if necessary.

me:  i asked husband this one, actually. and since his favorite flavor of ice cream is licorice (silly dane), he said licorice.  it's unusual, a bit peppery, not at all normal, rather strong and can be a bit overpowering. not everyone likes it, but if people like it, they love it. 

i actually think that fits pretty well. but i can tell you that licorice is not my favorite ice cream.

i'd personally probably try to concoct something like a gin & tonic sorbet if it were up to me. grown-up, sophisticated, relaxing, refreshing and with a bit of sass. something you'd like to spend time with every day.

thanks, polly, for these fun questions (i may have to actually invent a G&T sorbet now). if anyone wants to play along, knowing you have to identify yourself as an ice cream, please let me know. :-)


Dutchbaby said...

I followed your advice and popped over to Polly's and I'm so glad I did. It was a very interesting post and this is a very interesting interview.

It's funny how you coined the word "danglish." The loss of language and its arrested development came up in my interview as well. As long as you keep writing your wonderful blogs in English, I don't think you have anything to worry about. BTW, when I was in high school, a boy called me "durmanese" because I am Dutch, German, and Chinese.

I had Guinness gelato in New York City last summer; it was delicious.

Meri said...

Fun the read and learn a bit more about you. Now I'll cruise by Polly's place.

Kathleen said...

Sign me up for the gin and tonic sorbet tasting!
I'd like to identify myself as something sophisticated too, but I think I'm probably a grapenuts kind of girl. Grapenut ice cream is a Maine thing - it's strange and crunchy and creamy and delicious, and even though it's straightforward (with no swirls or chocolate-covered bits) it's always a little bit surprising. And every spring it's my reward for making it through the winter.

julochka said...

dutchbaby--durmanese, i'm not sure what i think about that, but it doesn't sound the most flattering! and why did i think you had a malaysian connection? but count me in on guiness gelato. :-) i think i am going to actually try to make a G&T sorbet.

meri--you won't regret visiting polly!

kathleen--you're welcome to come by, i've got all the ingredients (that i think are necessary) and i'll probably stir it up tomorrow. ahh, i remember grape nuts, i actually really like those, but they don't have them here in denmark.

Gwen said...

gin and tonic sorbet? Let us know how that goes, lol.

Your comment about Bush reminds me of Curtis Sittenfeld's book American Wife in which the Laura Bush character uses that exact (internal) response to all the hatred of her husband. "*You* chose him," she silently chides the American people. Interesting book, if you haven't already checked it out.

Polly said...

Thank you, Julie, for this interview and for mentioning my blog. I'm very touched...

I loved reading this. Especially your answer to the second question: it's amazing where life takes us sometimes. I've lived in the UK for nearly 10 years now and am amazed it's been so long, I only went there to do my masters' - for ONE year...

I always wondered about significance of your 'Obama won' ring, it's a great ring!

And definitely let us know about the g&t sorbet, sounds really good...

Thanks!!! Polly x

Char said...

can we switch vodka for the gin? great interview!

me, myself, I said...

I'm here from Polly's blog - great fun to read and learn a bit more about you...
à bientôt :)

paris parfait said...

So interesting to learn all these things about you and the arc of your life's journey so far.

Magpie said...

Yes! I need gin & tonic sorbet - like right now! Sounds awesome.

Bee said...

I don't have time or wit to leave a worthy comment right now . . . but I found this really interesting. Have had many similar thoughts.

Love the nest pillow btw.

How ubiquitous is licorice ice cream? I don't think I've ever come across it.