Europeans have the skinniest fucking legs. And ostensibly pointy feet. Every male I've encountered in town wears the skinniest jeans and the pointiest shoes I've ever seen. I feared this phenomenon while shopping for a casual but suave suit at H&M in Pittsburgh. The jacket I tried on was sweet, but the pants were ridiculous. (H&M is a Swedish clothing company, by the way). Apparently "relaxed fit" in Europe means that you can actually fit your foot through the ankle hole (barely). I feared that if I tried on the "slim fit" pants, I would never have gotten them off.
I exclusively wear American Eagle jeans. They are of the "low-rise, boot-cut" variety, and I'd say they are slim-fitting by American standards. I have the baggiest jeans in all of Uppsala (not to mention the lightest colored jeans - people here are infatuated with dark blue denim). This phenomenon of tight-fitting pants seems to be universal. Even punk-ish, skater-style kids have insanely tight pants. It's like that old "Wild & Crazy Guys" skit from SNL with Steve Martin - apparently everyone here has 'gigantic bulges' and wants you to know about it.
The pointy-shoes thing is less noticeable, but equally annoying. Now I understand that I am one of the least fashionable people I know. Like I said, I exclusively wear American Eagle jeans, I have three pairs of them, and they are all identical. I own exactly 4 collared, button-down shirts, and only one of them is suitable to wear with a tie (of which I currently have zero in Sweden). Most of my wardrobe consists of t-shirts that I bought from someplace I visited, and hoodies. I don't own a nice pair of shoes, and apparently have been oblivious to the fact that now all "nice" pairs of shoes must be pointy. Nate and Ryan dress nicer than me, and they have pointy shoes. Nearly everyone over here has pointy shoes. They look fine on people I see walking down the street (though with their tiny ankle-openings in their jeans, most people's feet appear comedically large). But when I tried some on, I can't help but think I look absolutely ridiculous. I would be uncomfortable going anywhere in shoes that look like this. This is a problem, because I need a pair of nice shoes by tomorrow evening for the party Mia and I are going to at her school.
That's all I have to say about fashion in Sweden.
Long days with nothing particularly important to do stimulate my thoughts. I went running again today, back to my forest. Music is forbidden in the forest when I run there, and I created very interesting dialogues with myself while I meander through the evergreens. (I've always wished that there could be a little dude inside of my head to record all of my thoughts, but only when I pushed a theoretical "record button." It'd be a lot easier than trying to remember ideas you get, and a lot less work than keeping a journal...everything you wanted to say would already have been recorded for you. But, since nobody has invented that yet, this is going to have to suffice.) I was amazed at how quiet and empty the forest was today. This is the reason that music is forbidden - the silence is mesmerizing. I took the time to stop at numerous crossroads and just look and listen. There wasn't a breath of air in the trees, nor a moving creature or anything to break the silence, and it was incredible.
Today I was Bilbo Baggins.
This thought occurred to me about 3/4 of the way through my long run today. I came upon a farm. The farm had horses, and seemed to possibly be a place where you could rent a horse for the day and ride him through the forest. The horses were not kept in a "normal" paddock, but rather were free to roam around the forest on their side of the fence, which is exactly what they did. All of the horses had no halters on, and all but one had blankets on (it was -5 C when I left the house). The horse nearest me did not have a blanket on, and was pure white. After 45 minutes of running silently through a deserted forest, then suddenly coming upon a snow-white horse puts fun thoughts in your head. After seeing this horse, I decided that today I was Bilbo Baggins, and that this horse belonged to some elves, and was therefore an Elven horse. He was enchanting.
I was running through the foothills of the Misty Mountains, while I played "Misty Mountain Hop" in my head. I ran across smooth grey boulders, being sure to stay on the low side due to the threat of water that may have trickled down the side of the boulder from above, frozen, and become hazardous. I ran across makeshift bridges, two-by-fours laid across half-frozen swamps on the forest floor. Gnarled tree roots conspired to twist my ankles, but my swift steps and keen eyes kept me out of trouble. My senses were heightened. My mind was always two steps ahead of my feet, and every footfall was calculated. I hit every mark, and not one ounce of energy was lost to a misstep. I actually found myself moving quicker when the path became more treacherous, and I floated over rocks and downed trees with grace.
Today, it was not about running. Today is was about experiencing. Running through that forest today was mind-altering. The further I went, the further I wanted to keep going. I could have run forever, if only the sun would shine past 3pm. The best part about this was that I was conscious of this. When every footstep requires ultimate concentration, when you notice the beauty of your surroundings through your peripheral vision, when you realize just how silent the environment is, the world becomes real. You no longer need music to distract you. You can't get this feeling by reading a book on the couch.
The moments of bliss I felt today were purely elemental, were simple. I yearned for nothing, and was satisfied. It was fleeting, and lasted maybe 30 minutes out of the 2 hours that I ran. I enjoy fleeting moments of satisfaction, where time stops and you become super-conscious of yourself and everything around you, where you can do anything you want, be anything you want to be, and be 100% convinced that you are invincible.
This, I understand, is an exceedingly long, disjointed essay. But I have one more topic to discuss, and it's a question. I also understand that there may be (+/-) two (2) people who actually read my blog. But if you are reading, humor me, and answer my question. I have an idea, but I want some help first, so just write a comment with an answer to this question.
Q: "Is experiencing and/or appreciating different cultures important? Why is it important / unimportant?"
A: I'll have a theory soon.