Batwoman

Last night I started to feel a little homesick for the first time. I am not sure if it actually is PMS, it usually is when I get upset all of a sudden but a chain of events made me just lay on my mattress here in Austin and stare for some hours.

It started with going to see the Daniel Johnston’s mural of Jeremiah the innocent. It made me think of my brother, when we watched the Devil and Daniel Johnston together, how we listened to his music, when we went to see him live in Gothenburg in the summer of 2008. And thinking of my dead brother always makes me a little low.

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The mural was done in 1993, by then this was the wall of a record store. Today it’s the wall of a Thai restaurant with the suiting name ”Thai, how are you?”.

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Me in 2008, some days after the concert. Photo by Camilla Lindberg.

After that I strolled around downtown until sunset and walked to Congress Avenue Bridge to see the famous Austin bats. I was about 1,5 hours early so I stood there by myself, determined to not give up since I had already been waiting for so long. Just when it got dark the bats started crawling out of the cavities underneath the bridge. It’s not bat season now, so there were probably only around 1 000 bats instead of 175 000 (I read that on a sign close to the bridge). It was still quite impressive though and worth the wait.

It has been a long time since I just stood for 1,5 hours without the distraction of internet (probably over four years, when I got my first smart phone). Just before the bats came out I met a Portuguese woman, who had moved to Austin six weeks ago because she was fed up with the economical situation in Portugal. She has an education in marketing, but works illicit as a nanny. She seemed lonely. She was nice and I enjoyed her bat spotting company, but it added on to my lowness. The deep economical crisis parts of Europe is in, how it forces people to leave and work illegally in another country, how she was so bored with her loneliness that she looked for other people who were alone at tourist attractions so she could make friends. She told me that’s what she does.

While standing under the bridge looking at bats together I felt something dripping on my lip. I am not sure, but I believe it was bat poop or bat pee. I wiped my lip off, bu       t after some time my tongue started burning. I am now a little worried I might catch some kind of bat disease. But I heard the Austin bats are very healthy. I hope that is correct.

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Is this the bat that pooped on my face?

I felt that I should have asked the woman if she wanted to go out for a drink after our bat adventure, but I’m a little sick of drinking too, so I just caught the bus back to my hosts’ house, had dinner and then intended to update this blog, but lied on my mattress, staring for three hours before I realized it wasn’t going to happen.

Altough this blog post sound super gloomy I have had a blast in Austin, as I had in every other place I have visited. For that I thank my hosts, here and everywhere else I’ve been. What life savers they are!

In Austin I have been skating so much – parks, banked track with TXRD, flat track with TXRG! Austin is the roller derby mecca, it was here it all started again about 15 years ago. I have skated with and against members of Team USA. Today I had to deliberately take a day off skating so I have energy tomorrow to attend a bootcamp with Texas Roller Girls. I have sung karaoke – FINALLY, gotten drunk on 6th street, eaten greek food with the greek national roller derby team, strolled around downtown, shopping vintage cowboy stuff and looking at local craft jewelry.

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Wednesday: Chicks In Bowls Heart of Texas skate park meet up. I learned how to stall!

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Thursday: My host Lacy Bones of Texas Roller Derby’s (that’s the banked track team) Holy Rollers took me for a three hour long private lesson at their warehouse on Thanksgiving. She even taught me how to flip the rail.

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Thursday: After skating she took me to the highest point in Austin. This is what it looks like.

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Thursday: Your favorite karaoke singer in the world! (There are no photos from Friday because of this karaoke night on Thursday).

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Saturday: Met two of my teammates from Gothenburg Roller Derby at a scrimmage with Texas Roller Girls (flat track team). They are playing for team Greece and I scrimmaged against them with a Texas team. 

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Sunday: Apparently food trucks is a big thing here. They are everywhere, so I decided to eat at one of them. When I arrived to this parking lot with tons of food trucks only this one was open. It was creole food. It felt a little weird since I’ve eaten that where it’s supposed to be eaten, but on the other hand I have had soooo much Tex Mex since I came to Texas. Anyways: the food was good.

I’ve been here since Tuesday morning last week – I have one and a half more days to go before I leave to Dallas for the roller derby world cup. Even though Dallas is only three hours away it is supposed to be very different from Austin. Someone said that Austin is a tiny blue lagoon in a huge red sea. It will be interesting to see the difference. I am not sure I will enjoy the republican typically Texan part of Texas as much.

I was planning on going kayaking in the river that runs through the city today, but the nice 23 degree (Celcius) days suddenly were over. Today it’s windy and cold and I decided that it’s OK for me to do nothing. Eight weeks of traveling has started to take it’s toll on me, and more and more I just feel like doing nothing. I still have three weeks to go, the one that has just started will be intense with the world cup coming up, the two following will be intense too – my boyfriend is meeting up with me in Dallas and we’re going to road trip through the desert to Los Angeles. I’m a little worried about how I’ll feel towards the end of this adventure, on the other hand, having company might give me extra energy.

After Memphis I started feeling like I had too much time until the world cup, that I maybe was in over my head. I had planned on stopping between Memphis and New Orleans, but as I have written before I was told not to. I had also thought about stopping between New Orleans and Tampa, but for the same reasons I was told not to stop in Jackson I was told to go straight to Tampa. This have meant fewer and longer stops than I first intended to. Which has been both good and bad, the longer stops means days like this one, where I can just stay at home and do nothing, but even though I’m exhausted the long stays make me a little restless. It’s like that guilt Swedish people feel when they are indoors on a sunny day – I feel guilty for not making the most out of this trip. But I only have so much energy. I’m hoping it will come back to me soon.

Lots of love,

Vulvo Amazon

”It’s paradise on Earth”

When Lars and I was in Greece a couple of years ago we met a man who had emigrated to Florida in the 70’s and had come back to start a restaurant in the village on Karpathos where he was born. Since Greece’s economy isn’t peaking right now his restaurant wasn’t doing very well, but we had an interesting conversation about politics. When he talked about America his voice got dreamy. Florida – it’s paradise on Earth he told us.

I have now spent a week in Florida and I’m not sure if I agree. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a great time. But I need more out of a place to call it Paradise. In my opinion Greek islands are closer to paradise, but everyone is different. Disney World is situated about 1,5 hours from here but all of Florida has a Disney World feeling to it – like it isn’t for real. The buildings are too pretty, the AC is too cold, there are too many wealthy old people. At the same time – the climate is wonderful – even though the weather has been bad while I’ve been here (with Florida standards) it’s like a perfectly fine Swedish summer. But tropical – cool birds, stingrays that you can see from the boardwalk and white powdery beaches.

And once again I have been taken care of by lovely people. I already wrote about my distant relatives that let me stay in their house. We’ve embrabaced their Swedish heritage and we cooked meatballs from scratch and did cinnamon buns. in Swedish that would be perfect kids’ food but i guess American kids have different preferences. But the grown ups liked it at least.

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Baking cinnamon buns with Lincoln, Elizabeth and Heather.

Swedish and American food culture is different in many ways, I knew that and was prepared to gain weight since there is a love of sugar and deep fried in this country. But one thing I didn’t expect was that so few people sit down and eat a home cooked meal together. Most places i have stayed in doesn’t have a dinner table. You eat standing up, or in the couch, semi finished food or finished food (I don’t know if that’s the right translation but I am trying to write halv- and helfabrikat). Since I have adapted to American food culture very well it felt so good coking for a good amount of hours (we made meatballs out of 4 pounds or 2 kgs of meat). And the cinnamon buns took us 24 hours, because we ran out of time after we had made the dough, so we let them raise in the fridge over night and until the next afternoon. And by then the dough was so cold it took forever to flatten it to make the rolls. But the longer it takes to cook something – the better it tastes.

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I found this on the lawn a couple of days after our baking adventure…

This week has been all about family life and skating. And combining these two things. It was a really fun experience to go to family skate at a skating rink on Wednesday night. We danced and raced and played around on skates and I was so impressed by all the kids’ skating skills. I wish i could skate like that. I feel like i need to start a skating rink back home, since they don’t exist in Sweden and they are so much fun. I just need to win the lottery first. At family night I was the only one wearing any kind of protection and the only one who hurt myself falling. I hyper extended my hip when I accidentally did a split after tripping on my own toe stop racing an 8 year old icehockey player. At least I feel better now.

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I skated with some kids.

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I am related to all these people. Even though it’s a distant relation, just think about it – there are so many people all over the world that we are related to without knowing it. Pretty cool.

The next day I skated about 14 miles or 22 km to Clearwater beach. Part of the skate was a really high bridge, but if you bend your knees enough when skating almost anything is possible. I need to keep reminding myself of that, because I’m one of these skaters who get lazy and quit bending my knees. On the other side of that bridge one of those white powdery beaches waited for me. I didn’t go swimming because it was windy and quite cold, but I sat down at a luxurious beach bar and had three drinks, which made me really drunk because I hadn’t had enough water during my skate. I guess why that’s the three drinks went down so easily.

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Vulvo on top of the (world) bridge.

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I didn’t go swimming, but the beach still posed for a picture.

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The sun set in the Mexican Gulf while I waited for the bus.

Everyone in the roller derby community that I have told I’m visiting Tampa has gotten hearts in their eyes and said ”Aaaaaaaaaaaaaw, I love the Tampa girls”. I am ready to agree with that. At WFTDA Champs in Nashville I met this girl at the after party. We spoke for about 5 minutes and we just had enough time for her to tell me she was Panty Bandit from Tampa and me saying ”I’m going there soon”. Then she gave me her name so I could add her on Facebook, which i did. So when I got here I contacted her and she gave me a ride to Daytona Beach where the roller derby tournament State Wars was held over the weekend. She also hooked me up with some of her teammates who I shared a hotel room with. What a great bunch of people.

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This is me and PhDiesel, who I shared beds with at State wars.

The first night in Daytona i met two girls from Texas in the jacuzzi. It was obvious that they were roller derby players so I started to talk to them. Since we were right on the beach we decided to go skinny dipping together. Half way to the water we realised that we hadn’t introduced ourselves. So we did. And then we ran naked into the water.

Sharing beds or swimming naked with strangers would feel super weird to do with other people. But with roller derby people it just makes sense.

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Last day of the tournament I got a little sick of derby, yes it is possible, so I went to the beach by myself. I put on my angriest selfie face to show to the world how nice it is to take a swim in the warm ocean (but people from Florida told me it was cold).

I’m headed out for a day of skating with the Tampa girls (aaaaw, I love them). Tomorrow I’m off to Austin. Didn’t have time for photos this time – but there are videos and photos on both my Instagram and Facebook if you are super curious.

xx

Vulvo

Below are some photos taken after this blog post was written, but that still belongs in the Florida section of this blog:

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Lunch Lady and Panty Bandit from Tampa Roller Derby took me to a skate park in a convertible Mustang on my last day in Florida. It was close to 30 degrees Celcius and a perfect way to finish off the Florida part of this trip. 

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This is us at the skate park, as you can see it was warm and that combined with skating made our faces so shiny and T-shirts so wet. I am not that much taller than lunch lady. I am still wearing my skates.IMG_7762

Tampa Roller Derby invited me to a Thanksgiving Scrimmage with a Pot Luck dinner (knytkalas) afterwards. Aaaaw I love them.

 

Time traveling. And piss (again)

If New Orleans was like a journey back in time, the 15 hour long bus ride to Palm Harbor, Florida was a time travel back to the present. A very stereotypical American present.

On my last day in Louisiana I went on a kayaking tour in Manchac Swamp. 99 years ago there were people living in that swamp, but then a big hurricane came and killed them all, except for maybe four people – and they never moved back. You can still see poles from their homes sticking up from the water. The ghost of voodoo princess Julie White is supposedly haunting the Manchac Swamp. Legend has it that White used to sit on her front porch and predict the destruction of close towns and sing, “One day I’m gonna die, and I’m gonna take all of you with me”. On the day of her funeral in 1915, the hurricane struck the area and wiped out three towns.

I’m telling you. It’s gonna happen again and again and again. These levees won’t save you from voodoo hurricanes, I am sorry New Orleans.

The kayaking was beautiful and I wasn’t so scared actually, not even of the alligators. We only saw one, a baby, but apparently there are heaps of them there. We saw the nest of two bald eagles and a couple of herons/egrets that apparently are two different birds in English, but the same in Swedish – hägern. After 2 hours of kayaking I needed to pee so much I wasn’t even enjoying myself anymore. I tried to ask if there was any way I could go to shore and pee, but either it was dangerous because of alligators or they didn’t understand my pain. And the pain was real. The tour went on for 45 more minutes. I have never had to pee so much in my life. Every paddle stroke made my bladder feel like it was going to explode.I thought about peeing in small juice bottle, but realized it would be too small and that it wasn’t socially acceptable in the group i was in. Then i thought of just peeing in my pants, but realized that would be rude towards the guy who was gonna drive me back in his new and clean car, so i paddled, and paddled, faster than I ever have before, against the wind, thinking i might die from a broken bladder. As soon as we got to shore I ran into the bushes, after I realized that that wasn’t really socially acceptable either. But that was really the best I could do.

But even if I somewhat peed all over my swamp experience, I had a great time.

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Killa, the coast guard/tuna fisher I wrote about in my last blog post and Venus EnVie, roommate of Hennessy Williams and therefor also my host in Nola.

The afternoon I spent packing and actually eating alligator. Just an alligator sausage and it tasted like any sausage. I felt a little bad for eating it, but since I am a meat eater and someone told me it was good i gave it a try.

The very last hours in Nola I spent with Abeata Applebum, who is a jammer for Big Easy Rollergirls and also skates for the Moxi Skate Team in a skate park. I was definitely a little better than the last time i tried. Still far from dropping in, but I atleast attempted a stall, even though it just meant I was clinging on to the bars at the top of the ramp. It was so much fun and inspired me so much I went straight to Facebook to take the initiative to a Swedish chapter of the Chicks in Bowls movement.

Third time ever in a skate park. Not a pro yet, but at least I am having fun. Should have cut out all the crappy parts of this, but I couldn’t be bothered.

After skating I went back to the house, grabbed my stuff and went to the bus station. As I have written before I had been warned about all the shady people on the Greyhounds and up until now I thought it was very exaggerated. But a night bus through the deep south changed my view on that. I have never seen so many criminal looking people at the same time as I did on the Mobile bus station at 2 in the morning. I was happy I didn’t shower after skating and that i was wearing dirty clothes, because all I wanted to do was to blend in, to look like the methhead girl sitting next to me. Nothing bad happened, and no-one was threatening me, but let’s just say there were more people with tear drop tattoos than not there. I was sure the amount of tear drops were the same as the number of people you have killed, but Lars informed me it could also mean the number of gang members one has lost to make me feel better. I just googled it and it can apparently also mean the number of times you have been raped in jail.

After a long and sleepless night I finally made it to Tampa, where my relative Heather picked me up at the bus station and drove me back to her home. Apparently our grandmothers were cousins, but to make it easy we say that we are cousins. She has been to Sweden and visited when she was 14, but I was just born then so i don’t remember much of that encounter. We went back to their home in Palm Harbor, in a neighbourhood that feels like Desperate Housewives with a jungle twist. I started unpacking in a room with 500 stuffed toys and a huge Mickey Mouse rug when I sensed a very unpleasant smell – cat piss. I had brought the smell of piss with me from New Orleans. One of the cats, I don’t know which one, had peed in my bag as a good bye present. My ”Welcome to Nashville”-poster that Phantom Power is pee stained, the lining of my bag smells horrible, and so does my new fancy high heels. The rest of the smelly clothes are at least washable. At first I thought it was my derby clothes that smelled so badly, but I’m happy it wasn’t because I would feel very bad about myself if that was the smell of my body odor.

So without sleep or food for 15 hours and with the smell of cat piss in my bag we went straight to Lincolns sixth birthday party. And this is where time traveling really happened. Not only had I left 1800-something Nola, I had arrived in neon light, bouncy castle- jungle desperate housewives land. Not because I think any of the adults at the party were anything like the characters in the series, it’s about architecture and city planning. I’m not sure what age that is though. Maybe it’s a very 2014 setting?

It was really fun and interesting to attend a very American B’day party. It was very different from the ones I used to have when i was a kid. It’s often Easter on my birthday, so we mainly dressed up as Easter witches and begged for candy.

Heather’s three year old daughter Elizabeth took an instant liking to me. She also calls me her cousin. Elizabeth is so cool – she roller skates and always wear a Super Girl costume. She is also very tough. One day she’ll become a great roller derby player. We played in the bouncy castles and the slides together until the lack of sleep and hunger caught up on me and I wandered around Jungle Bounce like a ghost.

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Heather took proper photos of my first ever American bouncy party. Hopefully I can post them later. If you want to see a video from it there is one on my Instagram.

Tomorrow I’m gonna explore the surroundings, but i felt the water today and with Swedish standards it’s warm. The gulf of Mexico (proudly sponsored by BP oil) is only a mile away. And I will swim in it, even though i apparently brought the cold weather with me from Nola.

/Vulvo in Sunshine State

Below are two of these photos that Heather took:

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Elizabeth and I one one of the slides at Jungle Bounce.

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The Palmer Family and I.

N’awlins – like being in three centuries at the same time

New Orleans smells like piss, shit and powder sugar. I came here on Monday afternoon, shortly after I wrote that last blog post about Memphis and travelling through Mississippi by train.

It’s weird with American state borders. Hardly any of them are natural. Once upon a time someone drew on a map with a ruler and decided what state was which. So shortly I after I had written what I wrote about Mississippi we crossed the magical ruler border to Louisiana and suddenly I was in another world.

The train went across a massive swamp, there were turtles sitting on logs, I saw a bald headed eagle in a tree top and footprints by alligators by the muddy shore. There were houses on high poles in Lake Pontchartrain and the sun was shining ever so brightly. A man who just had come out of prison sat next to me on observation deck and started to talk to me. He wanted to share his hamburger with me. I was very hungry since I hadn’t eaten all day, but I told him I was full. He got a little offended, but apart from that we got along pretty well.

The day before I left Memphis I didn’t know where to stay once I got to New Orleans, but a Facebook post changed that. Hennessy Williams, skater for Big Easy Rollergirls and coach for New Orleans Brass Roller Derby (the men’s league in Town) knew someone who knew someone I stayed with earlier on this trip and even though she was gonna be out of town for half of my stay here she let me stay at her house. How amazing is that? I love the roller derby community!

She lives right in the French Quarter which is just everything you imagined New Orleans to be: colorful wooden houses with french balconies, really good musicians at every street corner, jazz at every bar, and the smell of piss, shit and powder sugar of course. The piss and shit probably come from all those horse carriages which guides tourists through the French Quarter, but probably also from all the young boho/troll/punk/traveler/drifters who seem to take pride in being as dirty as possible. They are quite cute though, with their dogs and their guitars. They kind of remind me of the street punkrockers in Berlin. But these have a ”Rasmus pa luffen”-touch.

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I couldn’t be bothered uploading a video of street musicians even though I have plenty. So this crappy picture will have to do.

The powder sugar smell doesn’t come from horses or drifters, but from those beignet cakes covered in it that are so popular here. They are pretty good, but mainly like a doughnut, you know: deep friend and covered in sugar.

My first impression of Nola, as they call it, was good – don’t mistake the smells for being something bad. I loved it so much I started to cry when I had my first meal here. It might have been from me not eating all day, or from the fact that I accidentally walked in to a fancy restaurant and it felt very depressing eating there by myself. Yes, I do cry a lot, so I know it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all.

The days here have passed very quickly. The first two were warm like Swedish summer days and I just strolled around and looked at everything pretty. And almost everything is pretty here so that takes quite a while. I even bought my first Christmas presents for the season, that is probably a new record. I have hardly taken any photos. Sometimes when everything is pretty I find it hard to decide what is worthy of documenting and I end up documenting nothing.

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Some not so good attempts of trying to picture all the pretty.

I took the streetcar to a fancy neighbourhood with huge houses and oaks with Spanish moss and pearl necklaces from endless of mardi gras parades dangling of them. I took another streetcar to some cemeteries. Here everyone is buried in a mausoleum because you can’t bury people underground because of the swampiness. The ground on all of these cemeteries is covered in seashells. I love cemeteries, especially dramatic ones like these. I walked around there crying (surprised?) looking at all these mausoleums filled with the remains of families that have lived in this city for hundreds of years.  When I die I want my grave to be majestic. When my brother died that didn’t seem like the right thing for him, so we spread his ashes in a waterfall. But if I die before you – please remember what I am writing now. I want a mausoleum with statues of animals on my grave, I want flowers – both real and fake, and I want it to feel kind of spooky.

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Since we all have to leave this earth, why not leave something classy behind.

I have also played roller derby in Nola, ofcourse. This whole trip is about roller derby and I havent yet visited a place without skating. I went to two practices here, one was a scrimmage and probably the most fun so far during my time in USA. I can’t really say what made it so much fun. It was just a great atmosphere and I jammed and scored. It’s always fun to score and since I don’t do it very often it’s a big adrenalin rush of feeling that you for once in your life is doing something good. The second practice was mainly about weaving and doing sharp cuts. Technique drills are always good and you really cant practice them enough. But a 45 minutes of squatting and lifting tractor wheels of skates (I am not joking. We lifted tractor wheels, and I tried to act cool and decided to take on the wheel that was twice the size of the other wheels) and 1 hrs and 15 minutes of technique killed my legs. I haven’t been able to walk properly all day. And I know it’s gonna be even worse tomorrow. Luckily the only physical activity I’m doing tomorrow is kayaking, so it will be all upper body. We’re going to a swamp and I’m so excited about seeing alligators and turtles.

I have prepared myself for the wildlife awesomeness by going to both the zoo and the aquarium. One of the BERG- roller girls work at the zoo and could give me and one other person tickets to both places. Which was great because the summer heat that I enjoyed so much during my first two days here quickly turned to Gothenburg weather with five degrees Celsius, wind and rain. Apparently that’s what the weather is like here: summer one day, horrible the next. Not really trustworthy.

The other person I brought to zoo and aquarium was Killa, a male roller derby player that Hennessy Williams hooked me up with since he is kind of new in town and had two days off work. Apart from going to the zoo and the aquarium we have visited voodooo priestess’ Marie Laveau’s grave, had Cajun food, looked at remains of Katrina and done all sorts of touristy things. Apparently I have made him do more exploration of New Orleans in a couple of days than he has done in two months. So even though I’ve been feeling like a lazy tourist I’m apparently still active enough to impress Americans.

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Are comments really necessary?

The Katrina remains were interesting. It has almost been 10 years since the hurricane and in the neighbourhoods that was hit hardest there are still houses lying on the ground in big piles of planks. Other houses are abandoned and have big holes in them. Every now and then you see an old staircase made of bricks that once led to a house. At the same time as these remains reminds us about the past there is a hopeful feeling in these neighbourhoods: New built houses, community gardens and such. But I felt the threat of future disasters. So much of New Orleans is below sea level. There are levees to protect the city from flooding, but when you are standing on the levee you can actually see how much higher the water on lake Pontchartrain is than the surrounding land.

I mentioned to Killa that I was getting sick of eating out every day, almost every meal. He took those words to heart and brought me yellow fin tuna he had caught by himself and cooked a really nice meal for me. I’m sorry dad, but that might have been the best fish I have ever had. I still think you are the best cook though. It’s just something about really fresh tuna… I think we ate about half a kilo fish each because it was so good and the piece was so big. Even the food they kill for themselves here is big. I am also becoming bigger. My jeans are way tighter than they were when I came here five weeks ago. Just like i feared. I don’t know why I am becomming so obsessed with my body, but I am. And at the same time I can’t really bother about being healthy while I’m on this trip which I planned for me to enjoy to the fullest. It’s a weird duality and I don’t know what I really want. Or who I am – in any aspect of life. One of the reasons I made this trip was to figure out things like that. I don’t think I have figured out anything new really, apart from that I’m getting closer to do god hockeystops.

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Big tuna cooked by an american coast guard.

This blog post turned out really weird and unfocused. I don’t really know what happened, or maybe I do. I went to a party half way through and came back after the party and continued writing. Tomorrow night I’m leaving for Florida. Hoping to be able to write something with more substance on the 14 hour long bus ride there…

Lots of love,

Your Vulvo

Getting deeper and deeper south

I’m writing this on the observation deck on a train taking me from Memphis to New Orleans (but posting it after I’ve arrived).  The landscape outside the many windows is magical. I guess just imagine the Deep South as it’s portrayed in movies. Both the good and the bad sides of it. We just passed Jackson, Mississippi. When planning this trip I thought about maybe making a stop in Jackson or somewhere else between blues and jazz. But everyone said go straight to New Orleans. I asked about 15 people. No one thought I should do a stop in between, not even a girl from Jackson. The little of it I saw from the train station didn’t make me wanna hop off the train.

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Jumping on the Amtrak to New Orleans at 6.30 in the morning.

So my days in Memphis have come to an end. They have been more relaxed than many of my days on this trip and I really needed that. For example I’ve sat down in a couch, played video games and watched movies. Sometimes little things like that mean a lot. Of course I did sightseeing as well. I visited the death places of two kings. Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death. The motel is a museum about civil rights in America from slavery until today. Visiting the South it felt important to learn some about it’s history. Which isn’t all too pretty. Both Graceland and the Civil Rights Centre made me cry. That means I’ve cried at three museums in America. (First one was in NY where I cried about a tortoise.) I don’t think I’ve ever cried at museums before. But I always have had very easy to cry. I have cried to Americas Next Top Model. But I’m not writing that to try to make my experiences with dead kings and tortoises less powerful.

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A sad looking man dressed up as Elvis with his wife at Graceland.
 
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the balcony in front of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where he stayed while visiting Memphis. Two cars of these models were parked in front of the motel when he was killed.

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The Lorraine from a further distance.

I have also played roller derby of course, and stayed with derby people, and skated and stuff like that.

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Skated the Green Line with Nora on the Saturday, in total 15 miles or 24 kilometres. My legs hurt afterwards.

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Derby Sunday School with some of the Memphis skaters. This week I’ve skated in total 21 miles (34 km), done laps at practice with Nashville Roller Girls, Scrimmaged with Memphis Roller Derby and jumped up and down these bleachers. I don’t feel very fit though. But the guy who checked my bags at the train in Memphis on the Monday morning told me he was surprised how heavy my bags were because I lifted them with such ease.

For those of you who don’t know so much about the roller derby community I’ll try to give a short introduction. It’s more open towards queer, gay and transgender people than society at large. That means that the percentage of these people are higher within roller derby than in society at large. And my theory is that people belonging to minorities like that are friendlier than the average straight, white middle class person (like me). Simply because they have faced prejudices more than other people. I know this might be a prejudice in itself but the large majority of people hosting me on this trip have been lesbian couples. That must mean that lesbians are friendlier? (No offense to my straight hosts, who all have been delightful as well). If writing this is offensive, please tell, because that is not what I’m trying to be.
Anyways… I wanted this to be about the way society looks at gay people, but also women in the South. During the week I was in Tennessee there was an election that made abortions illegal. Men have been catcalling me as if I they believe my purpose as a human being is pleasuring their eyes. When I walked down the river walk along Mississippi River with my host Brooken Bones two young boys (probably brothers), around five years old walked by us. The younger one tried to hold the older ones hand. The older one said to him: ”what are you doing? I’m not gay”. Someone taught this little boy that he can’t hold his brothers hand because ”it’s gay”! And as you can guess marriage equality doesn’t exist here.

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Bones on our river walk along the Mississippi river.

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The sun sets over the Mississippi river and Arkansas.

I am still enjoying The South, because if you hang around the right people you don’t have to see all of the narrowmindedness. But of course every now and then I’ve been reminded about the dark past of these places, slavery, genocide of indigenous people and so on.

We went to a birthday party on the Saturday. One of the Memphis skaters turned 30. At there party there was a keg and red plastic cups. I love when things are like in movies. It makes me feel like I’m the lead role in a cool road movie. At the party I talked to a guy who knew so much about European politics (Europe also has dark history). This was the first person in a month that I’ve met that actually was interested in Europe in that way. He knew even knew about the Sweden democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) being the third biggest party in Sweden and that they basically are nazis. I think he even knew the percentage they got in the election. When I asked him why he knew so much about European politics his answer was ”I’m basically a commie”.

The conversation left Europe and we started talking about guns. In Tennessee you’re apparently allowed to carry a gun everywhere if you have a permit. So at the venue where Memphis Roller Derby practices there is a sign saying no guns allowed. Even though I’m happy they weren’t allowed it makes me a bit uneasy since the sign means this is an exception.

It turns out euro-lover-basically-commie guy was also a gun lover. I felt both frightened and intrigued by this and almost made him take me to a shooting range so I could try shoot a gun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gun that wasn’t on a policeman. But then he said that before he shoot he’s always nervous it was going to blow up in his face. After that I didn’t want to shoot so much anymore.

Until I write again.
Lots of love, your Vulvo

Ps. someone asked me about more photos, but it’s really a hassle getting them up on the blog, so I have to ask you to visit http://instagram.com/snagge for that. Instagram is so much easier to use on the go. And Facebook albums feel so 2008. When I go back home I might do a real photo album and then y’all (as they say in the south) can come visit for coffee and a look in my real album.

 

Long time, no see

I’ve been meaning to do this everyday for the last week, but it has been so full of awesomeness that I had to actually put this Saturday afternoon aside to finally write this blog post.

I left Seattle over a week ago. On my last night Lars and I went to a feminist comedy club called the Comedy Womb. It was an open mic night and many of the comedians weren’t very good, but the atmosphere was great and more than half of the comedians were female, queer or transgender, which is something pretty uncommon when it comes to stand up comedy. The main act of the night was Joannn Schinderle and she was so funny! I really enjoyed it.

The next day I left Lars in Seattle and flew to Nashville where Phantom Power of The Nashville Rollergirls was my host. We got along great right from the start and she even let me cuddle with her boa snake. She also tried to feed it with a dead mouse, but it wasn’t very interested even though she poked the mouse with a stick to make it look more alive.

I had one day in Nashville before WFTDA Championships started so we planned to do so many things in that day, but mainly we just went to have lunch and beer with two of Phantom’s friends and then went back to get dressed up to go to a concert. Since Halloween was the following day we made ourselves look really spooky. When we got to the concert there was no-one there and we realized that the concert had been the previous day. So we just went to a bar and had a booze filled chocolate milkshake that I think was called the Bushwacker, which apparently was a local thing. So this was the second time in a week I went dressed up for a Halloween party but just ended up at a bar.

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Salads and peach beers for lunch with Sunshine, Pantom, Vulvo and Mayhem.

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We dressed up for ages to go to a concert, but there wasn’t any concert.

Then Champs started. Oh my god! So much great roller derby. I’m just gonna copy paste what I wrote on Facebook late one night when I couldn’t sleep because I was too euphoric for those of you who are my friends on Facebook – it is edited, so you might aswell read it again.

”Just a quick note about champs before I go to sleep and forget stuff. I’m not even gonna write about all the amazing derby because I’m lacking words to describe it. But yeah! DERBY!

Day 1. Got really moved during national anthems. I don’t even know why. It’s just so amazing teams from five countries are participating. My favourites are every team that is not American. (And among the American teams Texas stole my heart.)

The Berlin Bombshells chose the Anthem of Europe  which is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (didnt know there was an european anthem before today) because they felt they were representing European roller derby and not only German. (And I felt it too! I cried when they won the game that made them number three in Division 2 – but that was on day three).

Other things that happened was that I wanted to buy everything every vendor were selling, I got a face paint and met Scald Eagle in the bathroom line, she told me she liked it. I felt really starstruck and aswered ”I like yours too, even though you’re not wearing any now, but the one you wear when you skate” And after that it got awkward but I still asked her to undo my skeleton onepiece zipper, because I couldn’t do it myself.

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I have gotten so much use out of this costume. Best buy on the whole trip. This is also the facepaint Scald Eagle liked (a pro did it for free. One of the vendors had a face painter there for Halloween, but I didn’t buy anything of them.) On the back is the zipper she undid.

Day 2. Bought an amazing custom made Vulvo-tanktop, so I started to spend my money at the vendors. But I also lost my wallet but it was luckily found again. The announcers actually asked for Oskarsson during Texas-Gotham. That is probably the closest I’ll ever get to be a derby celebrity. I was super impressed by Victorian Roller Derby League from Melbourne. But the Texas-Gotham game. I don’t even know where to start. I am constantly starstruck by all amazing athletes from all teams. I saw 7 games of derby today so I’m all weird now. Time to sleep. I’ll write something proper eventually.

To be continued… Final day tomorrow.

And also! All the amazing people I’ve met, and the blocking. Omg the defence, the walls. I can’t even… (Can’t sleep obviously. Too excited.)”

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Phantom DJ:d all day every single day of champs!

Day 3 – final day. Got up really early again, after way too little sleep due to excitement. At 8.30 I attended a scrimmage at the venue where Champs were held. I was really nervous before it started, I thought I was gonna be the worst skater there and that I was gonna do crap. But I wasn’t the worst and I did alright. From the only photo of me from that scrimmage it doesn’t look like I’m doing much though. Phantom had the kindness to write notes for me about what she thinks I need to practice more on doing.

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This is the only photo of me scrimmaging that I found. As you can see I’m not being very useful, but still it’s proof I was there. Photo by DerbyWithRecess.

After the scrimmage my volunteer shift started. In case I didn’t write it earlier I volunteered all days of Champs and it was so much fun. But my Sunday shift was probably the most honourable. I guarded the Hydra, the trophy that the worlds’ best roller derby team is rewarded after winning the final of the WFTDA champs.

The day was great, the games were great. I got a little drunk from drinking expensive wine at the venue and bought some wheels that I had been thinking of buying the whole weekend, but hadn’t because I wanted to save money. But I justified that buy with planning on selling some of my other wheels that I never use when I go back home.

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Before the final there was a really cool high school marching band and I guess cheerleaders. This photo is crappy, but you might get the idea from it. I think they were  called the Spartans.

The final was probably the greatest game of derby ever played. Gotham won their fifth hydra in a row, but Rose City were so close, before the last jam they were in a lead. Gotham won with 147 -144 in the last seconds of the game. Amazing. I think 90 percent of the people at the venue wanted Rose City to win. People were flapping their arms as eagles to cheer for Scald Eagle. That was cool.

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This is how excited I was during halftime of the final. To my left there is Phantom and to my right Monster, who I befriended in Detroit. You can also see my awesome custom Vulvo-tanktop.

The afterparty was cool too! It had a dancefloor in one room and a dragshow in the other. I have never been to a dragshow before so I really enjoyed it. Two of the girls were REALLY good dancers. The other room was actually also filled with some good dancers, I danced with some of the worlds’ best derby players. That was fun. At one point the DJ played Blurred Lines and everyone stopped dancing and started booing. That was funny.

I stayed in Nashville for two more days so I would actually have time to see the city before I was going on to Memphis. But I was so exhausted from such an eventful weekend that I really didn’t see much of Nashville. Me and Phantom went skating at dusk in a park on the Monday, but we slept until noon and had brunch for ages so we got delayed. On our way back it was pitch dark and it was kind of scary, but a fun experience.

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Just before it got dark and we skated downhill that was too steep and curvy for me.

The next day Phantom was back at work and I was supposed to entertain myself in Nashville, but I didnt actually go to Downtown Nashville before 2 pm because of reasons like I saw three vultures flying around a dead opossum and found that really interesting. In Nashville apparently cowboyboots are a big thing. So many cowboyboot-stores with the same deal – buy one, get two free. Almost regretting I didn’t buy some, but I already have three pairs and they are kind of heavy to carry around. Also, I am going to Texas later on and there probably will be some cowboyboots there.

As you probably can figure – I had a really good time in Nashville, but it was time for me to leave, so I headed for Memphis on the Wednesday.

I was gonna write about Memphis aswell, but this has already taken too much time, so I’ll give you an update on that maybe tomorrow. If I find time and a computer. Also – somehow I cant upload pictures from my Iphone to this computer so, some photos will be added later on. If you follow me on Instagram you probably already have seen them though.

Until next time, lots of love,

Your Vulvo cruising through America.

Sleeping well in Seattle

I slept for 13 hours last night. I probably needed it because the bad luck from locking myself out from the house in Cincinnati hasn’t quite left me since I came to Seattle on Wednesday last week. I have apparently been instagramming so much about my misfortunes that a post yesterday about drinking bad homemade mead at an Ethiopian restaurant made my dad worried I was having a horrible time. I am not. I am enjoying myself and try to see every bump in the road as a part of my adventure. And these bumps haven’t even been big.

Bump 1.

We went to Snoqualmie where parts of Twin Peaks was filmed. We chose Friday because it was supposed to be the only rain free day of my week in Seattle. So the plan was good, when it came to weather, but we should have done our research better. We came to Snoqualmie Falls, which was beautiful, and planned on hiking in the valley from there. The man in the visitor’s centre explained a route for us to walk. Turns out the route was along a road with quite heavy traffic and no sidewalk. We walked by the side of the road for maybe 1,5 hours to where we were supposed to walk across the river on a bridge. We came to the bridge, but it was closed off. After consulting a woman who stopped her car to take a photo of something we found another way and finally got to North Bend, where we eat the largest meals of our lives at the café where they serve coffee and cherry pie in Twin Peaks.

For people planning on visit Twin Peaks Land in the future: do your research, and consider going by car. Even though the actual bus ride was alright, walking between places weren’t as scenic as we hoped for.

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Snoqualmie Falls.

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We found and old railroad track that ended half way across a river. The wood it was made of was half rotten and it was super scary to walk on.

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Even though we walked along a big road we got to see some nice views. There are more photos of Twin Peaks stuff on my Instagram if anyone is interested.

Bump 2.

Since this is my big roller derby adventure, I wanted to play some roller derby while in Seattle. I contacted Rat City Rollergirls and went to practice with them on Saturday morning. Their venue is called The Nest and is situated in Shoreline, about an hour north of Downtown Seattle by bus. Getting to and from the Saturday practice was fine, but Lars and I planned on going to a halloween bar night they held pretty close to The Nest later on that night. After me missing out on karaoke in Detroit i was pshyched about finally getting to sing at a bar, dressed as a skeleton. So we went home and got ready, hopped on the bus from Lars’ home in Madrona, and after an 1,5 hour long and partially scary bus ride with several encounters with shady people we finally made it to Aurora Village Transit Centre, about three kilometres from the party. We knew there weren’t any buses so we had already looked up some numbers for taxi services. But noone answered us. We gave up after 20 minutes and took the bus back to Seattle since we didn’t want to walk in the dark and the rain in a neighbourhood we knew nothing about. I missed out on karaoke again. Luckily i still have plenty of time in America.

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Practiced hockey stops with these guys and got a lot better.

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We were ready to party but all we got was a long bus ride with weirdos. We might have been two of them.

Bump 3.

I was gonna go to practice with Rat City again tonight, but Google Maps lied about what time the bus left, so I missed it and since I didn’t have anyone’s phone number I couldn’t text them and tell them I was gonna be late, so I skipped practice. it would have felt too rude being 30 minutes late as a guest. Practice started at 6 pm. I missed the bus at 4.30. That’s how far it is to get there. And also, America is built for cars, not public transport :(. We went for a run instead, but I forgot to pee before, so the run was short. I’m pretty happy about that.

But everything else has been great in Seattle, and as I wrote before, even the ”bad” experiences have been good in a way. I still loved our Twin Peaks adventure, I got to skate with Rat City at least once and when we missed the party we went and had tacos at a Mexican restaurant, and they were probably the best tacos I’ve ever had, and the margaritas were good too. And me being dressed as a sugar skull just added to the experience.

Other fun things we’ve done in Seattle are for example: visiting the EMP, a museum dedicated to pop culture. It was probably the best museum experience I have ever had. Lots of fun interactive stuff, like learning how to play musical instruments and photo booths and filming in front of a green screen with flying hammerheads and such. We also went to ”movie court” on Central Cinema, where two comedians discussed whether Scream was guilty of cinematic crime or not. We watched the movie, ate and had beer in the theatre (I wish all cinemas were like that) and they paused every now and then to talk about the movie. I was still scared, even though I’ve seen the movie plenty of times before and they aimed at making fun of it.

So dad, don’t worry, i’m having a great time. I’ve done more than what I have written about here aswell, but I’m not sure if anyone really is interested in such a detailed report. I’m feeling too detailed as it is at the moment.

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Being taught how to scream as horror movie villains at EMP.

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Hung out with Alien at EMP.

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This guy tried to convince us Scream was responisible of all the bad horror movies coming after it, but the audience didn’t agree.

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I introduced Lars to all the good stuff Irene introduced me to in China Town of New York. But this time we were in International District of Seattle. It’s basically the same thing – food and people with origin in east and south east Asia. We had bubble tea (I’m obsessed now and almost bought tapioca pearls in a grocery store in International district) and also had dumplings and Pho.

Skatin' USA