Monday, May 27, 2013

Spider interlude (why doctors should employ children. [Only that would probably be dangerous and a horrible idea. No one should take advice from me, ever])

Hello, internet! Storytelling time:

It was one of those days where the world was just a little too large, and people just a few too many. There was no drama, no tears or screaming or running around. I tend to be very undramatic. But still, I couldn't breathe, so I crouched down by a wall, looked down on the ground and thought about happy things for a while.

A young boy came over and crouched down beside me, staring at the ground in front of me.

"Some spiders can jump," he said. It took me a second to realize he thought I was looking at a tiny spider scuttling across the asphalt.
"Yes," I nodded, "and some spiders wear raindrops on their heads, like little hats." (After all, I am a child of the internet, and my knowledge of spiders is mostly meme, trend and article based.)
"Why?" he wondered. Smart kid.
"I don't know," I admitted, "maybe to keep their heads cool?" He laughed so hard I thought he would choke. I was confused.
"It wouldn't make its head cool," he eventually gasped, "it would make it wet!" the certainty of this statement made it impossible for me not to laugh too.
"Good point." I said.

He stood up, and with the most formal of Norwegian health-greetings he said: "have a good recovery then," before he trotted off after his parents.

Smart kid.

Picture lovingly stolen from

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Moment (why anxiety attacks make people think my life is more interesting than theirs)

moment - noun

1. an indefinitely short period of time; instant
2. the present time or any other particular time
3. a definite period or stage, as in a course of events; juncture
4. importance or consequence
5. a particular time or period of success, excellence, fame, etc,                                    

Let's get one thing straight right from the start: Yes, I consider my own life interesting. I know I'm not supposed to. I know I'm supposed to complain that nothing interesting ever happens to me, or  say that I dream of more action in my life, but I don't. In fact, it would be rather silly of me to do so, considering I can barely keep up with all the interesting and magical things that happen in my life already.

I suppose this sounds wonderfully pompous, and maybe it is. However, I think living an 'interesting life' has much more to do with the ability to make every moment count, remember it and retell it as important, than what the content of the moments actually are. It is important to let things be important. There are, however, two things that have made me better at experiencing interesting moments than most people are:

1. Anxiety attacks. 

Short version: I've had anxiety attacks since I was 11. They were originally linked to loneliness and bullying and such, but that is not important. The first really huge one, the first one that made me unable to function at all for a while, happened when I was 13 while watching a catastrophe film about meteors.

Until that point in time I loved stars. I could place most constellations and spent a lot of time making  space related art and drawings. We were having a project about space at school (hence the meteor film), and I had been super excited about it - until full blown and super heavy waves of panic.

Skip five years ahead.

I was 18, had dropped out of school and impulsively moved across the country. I had moved to the loneliest place in Norway, and I was in general feeling a little lost. Something really bad happened, something that shook me out of the appartment. I ran out, down to the sea, and fell on my knees in the deep snow.

I looked up - and instantly couldn't breathe. Suddenly, and very overwhelmingly I realized I hadn't looked up for five years. For five years I had never seen a star. I had actively avoided them, so as not to trigger a panic attack.

I stood up, took a deep breath and decided, right there and then, that I would never let the things I'm afraid of stop me from living  again. This sounds like a very good plan, but it makes you do a lot of stupid stuff (turns out - some of the stuff you're afraid of is actually dangerous). But in a slightly modified version it makes you say yes to things you're scared to try, say yes to activities, sports and job opportunities you'd otherwise be too frightened to accept.

This is how I ended up saying yes to diving, snorkelling in Silfra, slack-line walking, archery, conversations with all the people I've met when travelling, all the journeys I've done alone, every crush, every romance, getting married, buying an apartment, presenting my art, singing on stage and reading my poetry. Because I can not not do it just because I'm scared.

One time I kind of wish I hadn't done something I was scared of.
Also called: the time I nearly drowned in 2 °C water

2. Focus

I actively choose to experience and remember all my moments as events. I'm horrible at small talk, so I talk about things I find important. I ask important questions, and I try to meet every person 100%.

Where my friends remember meeting 'this guy' at 'that place' and he said 'something funny,' I remember meeting the lovely George in Camden Locks, and I remember how he told us about his day, and the way he coughed when he laughed, and the hug he gave me when we left. I still have that little flower he picked from the cobblestones, and I remember him as important. Even if he was just this guy we met at that place... the one who was funny.

I focus.

I'm looking for moments that matter. I'm looking for people to share a moment with. I trust in the connections I feel, and I trust in myself to be real. Being real with strangers is super scary, but that can't really stop me (see point 1.)

So, do I live a more interesting life than anyone else? No. I'm just a better storyteller.
Have I done 'everything' and met 'everyone' and been 'everywhere'? Not by a long shot. I just don't say no, or think things through very well. Not very well at all. I say yes, I jump in, I laugh loudly and hug warmly. I try to not let worries about how I look, act or am perceived slow down the way I interact with people. I try to just be.

I think they call it living in the moment.

Nice day, nice moment

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tune (how to create a complete soundtrack for every feeling you've ever had)

tune - noun, verb

1.a succession of musical sounds forming an air or melody, with or without the harmony accompanying it.
4.agreement in pitch; unison; harmony.
5.proper adjustment

The last two days I've had the same song stuck on repeat in my brain. This does not surprise me. Coming back to Norway and re-settling into a life I have forgotten the mechanics of give me very specific feelings. Specific feelings leads to specific songs.

I tend to lock onto songs, connecting them to people, themes, feelings, events, periods and even whole years. I am pretty sure I could make a chronological playlist featuring one song representing each year (not necessarily from that year, but representing my idea of that year) from about 1992 and onwards. I can give you the soundtrack of every teacher I've had since 8th grade, the score of each journey I've had, the song of every city I've stayed in and even the "theme songs" from some of my favourite dishes (Cooking is to me very much a musical activity).

I think in lyrics to such an extent that when I was going to the Transit of Venus-event in 2004, and for the life of me couldn't understand why my alarm was being noisy at 6.40 am, my brain responded by making me think the lyrics "there's a little black spot on the sun today" over and over until I woke up. If you utter a sentence that reminds me of a piece of song lyric, I might reply in said lyric. Or even sing that song to you if my guard is down.

I've had about a billion crushes in my life, some turned into 'inloveness' most didn't, but they've all had a soundtrack. Here's a selection:

The GrungerThis was a short and sweet thing, packed with drama. Whenever I hear this song I can smell cigarette smoke and hear the soft ramblings of an asphalt philosopher.

The one who stole the 'me' from me.
There are the big ones and the small ones. This song was the soundtrack to one of the big ones, one of the ones that leaves scars and pains and all that crap. Good song though!

The one who only lasted for three weeks but counts for a lot longer 
This song to me is filled with the drama of being 16, the lost footing and the longing for 'coolness,' the fluff of a pink tiara and the smell of cheap Britney Spears perfume.

The ten days that felt like forever 
This song is filled with longing and sadness and what-ifs and happiness and really nice memories and some wasted time, pointing the way from the "WUHU" to the "oh..." and all the way to the epic friendship on the other side of it all.

The 3 minutes crush on a man from Zanzibar
Every time I hear this song, I'm reminded of how short a time is necessary for my impulsive brain to find a connection. A connection which stays important long after it's lost.

The one who took my breath away 
(The only time I accidentally sung the lyrics on my head out loud)

The one I married
I can't pick a song to cover 9 years just like that. There's a soundtrack. It has happy songs and sad songs, bouncy, upbeat, slow and soft songs. But as a symbol of the eclectic mix, this song works:

Do you have any songs that "are" a person, time or period for you? Please share =) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


thread - noun, verb

1. a fine cord of flax, cotton, or other fibrous material spun out to considerable length.
2. twisted filaments or fibers of any kind used for sewing.
8. that which runs through the whole course of something, connecting successive parts
9. something conceived as being spun or continuously drawn out
12. to pass the end of a thread through the eye of (a needle).
13. to fix (beads, pearls, etc.) upon a thread that is passed through; string.
15. to make one's way through (a narrow passage, forest, crowd, etc.).

On my way back home, just a short stop at my parents' to say hi to the grandparents and important things like that. Leaving England was super sad. Sad in that really nice I'm-so-glad-I've-connected-so-strongly-to-so-many-lovely-people-that-it-breaks-my-heart-to-leave kind of way. And it's still sad. Sad in that what-am-I-doing-now kind of way.

At the same time it's exciting! Tomorrow I go home to my husband! My patient spouse who will now be presented the highly emotional, overly enthusiastic, bursting with creativity and falling apart of sadness bundle of feelings that is me. I wish him the best of luck with that. But this happy/sad/happy/sad tripping from ending this year has had me thinking about how connected I feel to people, things and places.

When I close my eyes I can see all the thin threads spinning out around me. One is rushing through an olive garden in Italy and from there to a lovely woman in Dublin . A silvery one connects every lemon in the world to a peaceful night in Morocco and the lovely ladies I shared it with. I feel threads running through books I've read, connecting to characters and fictional places. Most things run together in this huge cobweb of memories. The taste of cola flavoured lollipops connects through people and places and loops back to my best friend when I was 14. This is how I see the world. This is why I talk in stories, because everything I experience feels connected to everything else.

This year has filled in a lot of weak spots and woven much stronger connections. I feel like I did when I was young(er) and absolutely everything seemed to be shiny and magical in one way or another. Yesterday, while wasting time, I remembered constellations I didn't know I knew, and I remembered smells from when I was little and trying to learn how to knit. I remembered knitting so tightly that the needles had to be cut free, and all I was left with was a systematic knot of threads.

A very systematic knot indeed.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Encounter (How to make sure you know mostly strange people)

Encounter - verb, noun

1. to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly
5. a meeting with a person or thing, especially a casual, unexpected, or brief meeting

I am slowly beginning to realize that I'm leaving in three days. Three days until it is too late to do all the things I said I would, too late to get to know all the people I thought I would spend more time with, and too late to say things I'll regret not to have said. Sounds sad, you say? No. This is thrilling! This is a micro-life lived out in fast pace, and it is all about the people I've met, the connection and the encounters.

All the most important connection this year have grown out of random encounters.

I gained a "brother from another mother" through the lack of a bottle opener. He opened my bottle with his teeth, and 7 months later we have spent more time together than I have with any of the friends I have known all my life. We bicker and fight, we chat and play video games, all because of a bottle.

Through this one person and one extra bottle (which wasn't mine) I gained a group. A flat full of friends to hang out with, to eat with, to laugh and cry and joke with. I've had groups of friends before, but this was different, and all because of two bottles.

Every single lecture in one of my classes got better because of one person (I'm still not one hundred percent sure what his name is) sat down next to me, called me 'Red' and laughed at the same oddities as me. We won't keep in touch, but he changed my year, all because of a nickname.

I found Someone who brings me so much excitement and happiness, and whose friendship I hope (and beg and pray) I will get to keep for years to come.

I borrowed money from the girl behind me in line, and was given a co-Potter-fan, who took so many pictures at the Harry Potter Studio Tour I can relive it any time I want. I think we'll stay in touch sporadically, just as we would hang out sporadically, all because of £2 in change.

Capital Punishment Guy was in my discussion group, and filled me with giggles and rage. The American Football Guy sat down at the only available seat and ended up lending me a book I truly enjoyed. The Friendly Taxi Driver let me ride for free because he enjoyed the conversation, the one with the Owl-bag made for funny conversations, and the No-Group-Guy changed my view on sharing.

I got thrown together with a group of strugglers and came out of it with a friend whose conversation can be infuriating and stimulating at the same time.

I have new found friends through an assignment group, friends of poetry, futuristic castles and late night conversations. Friends I had too little time with, but who I hope I'll get to know better.

All of these people have coloured and shaped my year, and every single one of them I met accidentally.
How Lucky am I? (Answer: very)

Also! Today I had my first encounter with archery.
Everyone should find someone and try archery. It was amazing!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Year (how to accurately measure a year that is less than 12 months long)

Year - noun

1. a period of 365 or 366 days, in the Gregorian calendar, divided into 12 calendar months
3. a space of 12 calendar months calculated from any point
9. a group of students entering school or college, graduating, or expecting to graduate in the same year; class.

This is not a funny post.

"I'm going to England for a year," said I.

I was very well aware of the fact that it wasn't a year at all. September - May, eight months, shorter than a Norwegian school year, shorter than a calender year, but a year non the less. In the future, I will talk about the year I studied in England. This year. A different sort of year. A year measured in units so big and unimportant or so small and important that they stretch out and cover a calendar. It's been a really good one.

My year is measured like this:

46 Novels
Which seems a lot, but I have not felt as if I've been reading a lot. Many of them were for school, a lot of them were for fun. A few of the highlights:

- Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, which I've read 9 times before, but still surprises me every time.
- Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep 
- John Green Paper Towns

150 000 Words
This is approximately what I've written this year. 65 000 in my first novel (now being edited), 50 000 in other creative projects (including my second novel,which is not done) the rest in assignments and blog posts.

3 Tubes of Toothpaste 
This year has been a lot about me taking care of myself in new ways, about me failing to take care of myself and of me trying again. Which is a good thing. However, I have a very picky relationship with tooth paste. I want the tooth paste to burn a little, and make me feel like I'm murdering bacteria more than brushing my teeth. This has not been easy in England, and for a year I have, every single morning and evening thought "Tomorrow, I should buy new tooth paste."

30 Days
Of course the year has had more than 30 days, but 30 of them were particularly important and wrapped around all the rest. Those were the 30 days of November. NaNoWriMo came, went and changed everything. Hopefully a new yearly tradition.

1 Smile 
This year has included a lot of smiles, more smiles than I could ever count, but two of them have been especially important and shines differently, and one of them I think I will remember as a particularly important part of this year.

3 Songs I've listened to 
Music has been important this year, and three songs especially have outlined this year for me.

Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes
Sam Phillips - Taking Pictures
Regina Spektor - The Flowers

2 Songs I've sung
For Thanksgiving I wrote a song for all the friends I had invited over. They got a verse each and I played the ukulele. That was a good night, although the singing-part is an awkward memory.
And then there was karaoke-night...

6 Encounters 
Encounters that changed things. Which will be the topic of my next posts.

1 Year
The year I went to England. Now: time to go home.