Friday, December 18, 2009

My flight to Egypt via Prague from Frankfurt has been delayed 45 minutes. Then I missed my connecting flight. Then I fly back to Germany, Munich this time. From Munich I fly direct to Cairo. Arriving 18 hours later than I expected. Only much anticipated kisses from Trip can make this bearable.
Since leaving Lyon exactly one week ago, I have hitchhiked through Germany, spent 5 days in Copenhagen, trained back to Germany and stayed in a hostel in Hamburg and rideshared to Frankfurt for one night of Couchsurfing. Now, I am in an airline clusterfuck. I am also quite tired.
Leaving Lyon was a bit sad. I became comfortable there and made a few really good friends. Cieon, a Australian woman I met at La Friche’s bicycle workshop, came to stay with Fox, Tomas and I for the last few days I was in Lyon. We tandem’ed around Lyon’s famous Festival of Lights with bottles of wine in the water bottle holders, eating sugared churros and watching truly bizarre light shows. While the Festival of Lights may fall around the holiday season, it is far from a holiday light display. One installation featured 20 or so naked male mannequins that light up and speak in French in unison. Another was projections of love scenes on building walls. The most bizarre was a psycadellec movie project that took up an entire block and centered around a ticking clock with swirls, people running, falling and hanging from the clock hands, strange gusts of green wind and multicolored rainstorms.
I stayed in Lyon a few days longer than planned because the package that my mom sent from the United States was delayed at the post office. For some reason, unknown even to the post office, the delivery service needed address confirmation. The first day I learned this, I was told that only my mom could provide confirmation. The second day I inquired, I was able to confirm the address. Either way, my mom was on it and within minutes of learning about the situation had begun contacting the company and her friend in France to also put in a few phone calls. Way to go mom!
The package arrived and in it was three books, two undies, one pair of Smartwool socks, hippie deodorant and body scrub, an ear band, headband, a ring, glitter, a camera (!), and a very nice card that she and Kasey wrote together. Definitely worth the wait.
My dad also came through big time in Lyon. My debit card arrived but the PIN was MIA and I was down to my last 5 Euros but not SOL (can I keep this up? IDK! hahaha). My dad wired me 150 dollars which has comfortably sustained me for the past few weeks.
I had both my first and last ride on the second bike that I built to the metro station where Fox dropped me off on my last day in Lyon. It seemed to work well, but I would hesitate if you wanted to shift the back gears. The first bike I built, a beautiful and shiny purple frame with a blue starred seat and multi colored cable housing (which I looked extra hard for) was ruined…by me. I didn’t want to bother Fox because he seemed to be in one of his moods, so I welded a piece that directs the cable on the tube to the rear of the bike by myself. I only know how to use the arc welder, not the gas welder (is that what you call it?). Well, apparently only really good welders can successfully weld bike frames together using the arc welder. Well, apparently, I am not a really good welder. In the process of melting these two metals together, I managed to burn a 1.5 centimeter hole in the beautiful and shiny purple frame. Boo!
Ok, on to Copenhagen….
I arrived in Copenhagen on Friday, December 11th at around 8pm. It had been dark since 3pm. I had tried a few times to call my friend Noah, who lives in the city a few times without avail. I was unsure if I could stay at his house or if I should try and track down activist housing elsewhere. I made the decision to just show up at his house and go from there. Noah lives in a collective house of 22 residents called Bumzen. The house is covered in graffiti, art and posters advertising parties, demonstrations and political ideals. I ate dinner with the collective and they told me that it was fine to stay the night. They had not heard from Noah either.
News came the next morning, as I was filling up my water bottle in the bathroom before leaving for the Climate Justice Action march. Noah was arrested Friday afternoon, had been seen by a judge and would be spending the next three weeks in a solitary detention facility. The details of his case and the action (if any) are still unclear.
This information hit me very hard. Copenhagen was a police state. Police had the right to search me, the house I was staying at, preemptively detain me for up to 12 hours and if convicted, hold me in jail for up to three weeks. I was further reminded of this when I was woken up at 4am the next night to the news that police had surrounded the house. Luckily, they did not enter. Night watch was done from 10pm-10am every night to warn us in such incidents.
I look super normal so I was never detained or searched but my punk counterparts were hassled daily. I was also being really careful because, while the fate of the global climate is important, so is seeing Trip in Egypt on the 18th! I did have one near arrest however….
On the 12th at a peaceful march for climate justice from downtown Copenhagen to the Bella Center where the COP15 talks were taking place, the police rushed the bloc I was walking with. This attack came out of nowhere. One minute, I was walking along at a slow and steady (the only pace you can walk when you are in a pack of 100,000), talking to a fellow named Ollie from England about documentaries and the next minute, people were running forward and we were being ketteled in by police. Someone later told me that the catalyst for this was that police had pushed a guy and he responded by tossing a hand held Greenpeace sign at them. Panic ran through me. People around me began to sit down and occupy the intersection in protest to the police action. Should I stay in solidarity? Wait, solidarity for what? This was not the Bella Center, there were no delegates present, there was no issue behind this mass act of civil disobedience (in my mind). In a few seconds however, the police had made thedecision for me. A police line was being stretched across the intersection. Wait!!! Shit! Fuck! Shit! I cannot be arrested! I walked towards the line, which had not yet reached the other side and quickly tried to get around it. Police officers in full riot gear were rushing through the gap, blocking my exit. Ok..ok…I have to get out of here, I thought to myself. My panic was noticed by a journalist and he grabbed me by the arm, whipped out his press pass and we ducked under the police line. He turned around and went back in before I could thank him or even see his face. Needless to say, I have a new respect for journalism.
While the march continued, many, myself included, stayed in solidarity with the arrested activists. We kept warm by dancing to the samba bands and chanting “Let Them Go! Let Them Go!”
If it crossed your mind that I am stupid for walking with the anarchist block in such a high risk city…well, fuck off. I chose to walk with this bloc because rather than asking for billions of tainted dollars, false energy solutions, and other green capitalist inventions, this bloc demanded nothing less than revolution to save the fate of the planet, not just for the humans but also the animals and plants that we share it with.
One Solution.
One Solution.
One Sol-uu-shun.
Plus, I simply wasn’t wearing enough color to blend in with any other bloc J

This was the last demo that I attended. Police pretty much had folks detained at all of the other planned marches before they even began. One morning, they parked on the corner of our street, stopping and questioning young people as they walked in the direction of the upcoming demo.
Instead of attending demos, I went to a few presentations at Klimafourm. I listened to famous food activist Vandana Shiva speak about food sovereignty. I participated in a nonviolent communication workshop. In Christinania, a squatted town in the middle of Copenhagen, I heard Naomi Klein talk about the importance of climate debt reparations.
Back at Bumzen, I met other kids who came to Copenhagen because of the climate talks. Over the weekend, 40 members of the Finnish political group “Left Youth” stayed at the house. They were nice and all looked alike. Also at the house was a clique of punk boys. Two were American and had been to the Rondy and the Elliott Free State. The other two were English and I had a common forest defense friend with one. Crazy. I thought that because of all of these connections, I could be friends with these patch-clad boys. Nope. Their “punker than thou” attitudes proved to be too strong for me to crack…even though I beat them at foosball! They spent their days talking about police brutality, punk rock bands, and tattoos…blahblahblah. I brushed off their masculine exclusivity by assuming that they needed space to plan an action at the Reclaiming the Power demonstration on the 16th. I even signed up for a night watch shift and did it all alone (usually you are in pairs) the night before the action because I figured they would need a good nights sleep.
Stupid boys! They didn’t even attend the demonstration! In fact, they didn’t attend ANY demos. They just came to Copenhagen, hung out at activist spaces, making the rest of us feel uncomfortable and didn’t participate at all. To be fair, the English fellows were really nice and played lots of foosball with me and invited me out sometimes. It was mostly the American boys who really acted like they were better than the rest of us. It is so typical of sceansters like themselves to be too “cool” for the rest of the world, even if you were at the Free State together. I was disappointed in them.
By Tuesday I was really ready to leave Copenhagen. The energy there was so bad. It was a mixture of sadness, fear, unproductiveness, and for myself and other residents of uncooperative nations, shame. I booked a train for the next day.