Window tree, late spring

What’s next?

Charlene Hundred Day Diary 23 Comments

Day 100 of 100, Nordjylland, Danmark

This is it, the last post of this Hundred Day Diary.

I’m not sure what comes after this yet.

I’ve discovered that I quite enjoy small blogging projects. I’ve been keeping one blog or another since 1998. You’d think that at some point, I would have at least tried topical writing, which bloggers have been doing since day one. But why join the crowd when you can make that realization decades later?

I digress though.

I tossed around writing about living on the road from these lenses:

#1 Unglamorous digital nomadhood.

The idea of the digital nomad being young, successful, good looking, lithe and bikini-clad (if one is a woman) tapping away on the beach by day, and partying till the wee hours is one I come across very often. Sadly, that doesn’t describe me at all. Also, I’m not a beach person. And I can’t see crap on my screen in sunlight. Being someone who spills things, risking the office (heavy ass laptop) to sand / salt water just doesn’t seem like a good idea. And parties? Parties are a special kind of hell for people like me.

What does nomad living look like when one doesn’t look, work, travel, or has the personality of the Instagram / Hollywood travel star?

#2 Seeking quiet across the world

An absorbing, ongoing mission. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t.

#3 Language learning.

I’ve been lazily learning Danish for the past couple of years, as mentioned here and here. When I go back to Singapore, I am reacquainted with the Mandarin I haven’t spoken for almost 2 decades, after escaping the tyranny of Chinese examinations (YAY). I need to pick it up again. I spent a month learning Spanish in Mexico City back in 2013, and would love to keep going.

Funny things always happen when you try out an unfamiliar tongue for size.

As I was writing this post, the neighbour across the road walked in looking for his friend (people don’t lock doors in the country, everyone is welcome). The menfolk have gone to watch the younger generation’s soccer game in the big smoke, so I attempted to convey this in broken Danish.

“He drives to Aalborg with Flemming” was the intended message.

I might have accidentally said “He walks to Aalborg with Flemming.”

“Gå” can be “go” or “walk.” (I forgot “køre” in the excitement, which is “drive”) I have no idea which applies here. Either way, neighbour said, after unfreezing from surprise “Ah, Aalborg!” He’s from Western Jutland, doesn’t understand a word of English, and speaks a dialect that doesn’t sound at all like Danish to me.

We were both a bit shocked at the mutual comprehension.

Weird brown girl learning foreign language. What could possibly go wrong every single day?

*

In the zeal of writing, all of these, and more, are things I see myself writing about.

But I don’t know.

Right now, I am going to take a break for a couple of weeks, say a proper goodbye to this hyggelig house in the country that has been a sanctuary for the past 2 or 3 months, and get ready to move again.

Thank you for coming along on this journey!

Window tree, early summer

Comments 23

  1. I’ve really loved this 100 day series. My chances to catch up seem as often as your chances to post, so I save them, unread, until I see the next batch come through. Greedy, I am.

    Hope the break is exactly what you need.

    And you may just have inspired me.

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      Author

      You inspire me everyday, so happy to return the favor 😉 I hope this means you’re going to revive the blog???

      I owe you a response btw, which i haven’t forgotten about. Just trying to get my shit together…. As usual!

  2. Congratulations Charlene.
    Thanks for allowing me into your world, seeing it through your eye and learning a little bit about what makes your heart beat with passion.
    Hope see you and Fleming down the road some day soon.
    Got a great card Trick to show you.

    Mike

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      Author

      Thank you Mike. I hope we meet someday. Keep me posted on when you’re heading to Singapore.

  3. When you write about “a special kind of hell” and “seeking quiet across the world” you make me want to ask if you are familiar with the travel writer Jenny Diski. She needs to travel, but she doesn’t always appreciate the company of other people. She’s both attracted to and repulsed from company. This is very clear in her book “Stranger on a train”, where she rides across the USA in trains, mostly in the smoking car, where the conversations are best.

    One of her stories is when she went to northern Sweden, seeking quiet, darkness, loneliness — and the tourism agency decided to show this “famous travel writer from Britain” all the exciting things you could do in their town – sleep in a tent at -30 C! – go in a dog sled! – try skiing! – go fishing!

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      Author

      Håkan, On your recommendation i went looking for Diski in the library (my library has a great ebook collection). Didn’t find Stranger On A Train, but borrowed In Gratitude, which is autobiographical. She’s had quite a life! I’ll keep looking for Strangers though. Sounds like a good book.

      Re dog sledding and camping at -30 degrees etc: Haha! Sounds like an exciting small town vacation, hehehe

  4. Congratulations on seeing it through. Enjoy your time away from the keyboard.

    I’ll leave for (I hope) your amusement one of my odd (but probably not very insightful) notions. In the late Matisse painting “Tabac Royal” there are the usual bold colors and clashing patterns. The tabac royal can appears on a lemon strewn table in use as a planter by the dark haired, elegant woman seated to one side of it, while opposite, resting on another chair, is what I take to be the woman’s lute on which Matisse has failed to see or simply failed to paint any strings. Somewhere along the line, considering that lute, it occurred to me to wonder whether she might, as opposed to no song, instead play on it any song imaginable.

    Be well.

  5. So you didn’t know her? I thought you would say “Yes, of course!” She’s a travel writer like no one else. Try also “Skating to Antarctica”, her book about a trip to Antarctica if you can find it.

    She died last year, but a lot of her writing is still online. Her blog for the London Review of Books is here: https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/author/jenny-diski/

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      Author

      Håkan, I don’t read a lot of travel writing (the only travel author I’ve read, is Pico Iyer), in the same way I don’t look at travel photography. I find a lot of work labelled “travel” has a very skewed way of presenting someone else’s life and place, an uncomfortable light-touch colonizing that seems to define the travel genre. At least, when the work is meant to sell destinations or experiences, or said traveller’s expertise in destination or experience. Hearing travellers talk about Southeast Asia, where I’m from, or Australia, where I’ve lived, is always very discomfiting.

      I imagine this is true when I talk about “travelling” to Guanajuato, or Belgrade, or even various places in Denmark, despite my best efforts not to be a first world brat. It’s one of the reasons I am thinking about doing some “travel” writing… to teach myself how shed these bratty eyes.

      Recommendations are always welcome though. I looked Jenny Diski up when you commented, and I think I am going to enjoy In Gratitude very much!

  6. Hi Charlene, truly enjoyed reading your blog. Will miss those emails announcing the next batch. So all that’s left is watch out for your next project.

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      Author

      I’m glad to hear it Ora. And thank you for following along! There’ll be something before very long. It’s good to be able to write freely again. Too good not to continue.

  7. Really enjoyed the 100 day blog Charlene , have a good rest and I can’t wait to see what comes next 🙂

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      Author
  8. “… an uncomfortable light-touch colonizing that seems to define the travel genre”

    That’s very far from Jenny Diski.

    But yeah … I used to believe that we’ve moved beyond the age of national stereotypes, but I’ve been cured. Reading about my country as described by American or British journalists (who might have spent a very short time here) can be really fun, like a trip to the house of distorting mirrors at an amusement park. And sometimes frustrating.

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      Author

      “I used to believe that we’ve moved beyond the age of national stereotypes, but I’ve been cured.”

      Haha! I think we’re some way from that yet. But it’s getting better.

      As a journalist, you’re in a great position to set the distorting mirrors straight though. That is a good thing.

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      Author
  9. “It’s one of the reasons I am thinking about doing some “travel” writing… to teach myself how shed these bratty eyes.”

    A very good and very unusual reason for writing. Best of luck to you! I had no idea that digital nomads existed until I started reading you and Flemming, so I had no preconceptions about how such people were supposed to be (young, successful, bikinis, etc). Both of you are serious and you have something that keeps me coming back.

    “As a journalist, you’re in a great position to set the distorting mirrors straight though. That is a good thing.”

    I don’t do travel writing (well, except recently, about Germany, where your Visa card is sometimes useless; for a lot of things you still need coins), but I would like to do it in the future, and then I’ll keep that in mind. Pico Iyer is unknown to me; any particular book you would recommend?

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      Author

      Håkan, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a digital nomad until long after I became one. We live and learn!

      I had to chuckle re Germany, finding out the same thing with only a foreign visa card and no cash in the supermarket, with the cashier waiting for me to pay for a basket of groceries. Oops!

      Get a taste of Pico Iyer’s writing on his website: http://picoiyerjourneys.com/

      Also, being a former (?) journalist, you’ll find him on many media platforms, like the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/pico-iyer

  10. It’s been a great read, passing much more quickly than it felt while reading it. I look forward to the next project, what ever and where ever it may lead. Should your travels ever bring you to Chicago, give a shout out, we have room.

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      Author

      Mark, thank you 🙂 Might come a-calling if I ever hit Chicago… I still haven’t been anywhere east in the USA, and keep promising myself that one day, it will happen. One day, it will happen!

  11. “I had to chuckle re Germany, finding out the same thing with only a foreign visa card and no cash in the supermarket, with the cashier waiting for me to pay for a basket of groceries. Oops!”

    That’s a classic! So many visitors to Germany have done it. For added fun, try buying a tram ticket in Leipzig. The vending machines don’t accept credit cards, of course. The real joy starts when you realize they don’t accept paper money either. Only coins are good enough. If you have a 5€ note, you can’t buy a tram ticket for 2,60 🙂

    Thanks for the links to Pico Iyer!

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      Author

      I will keep that in mind if I go to Leipzig, although I usually have cash on me in Germany, after that supermarket episode! As opposed to Denmark, where I pay for everything with a card and consequently, whenever I need an actual coin (public toilets etc) am always caught empty handed. Heh!

      Happy reading 🙂

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