“In Defence of foreign accents”

The goal among the international students at my uni,
was to completely drop our accents –
to have our words sound like they’d grown up
with ice cream floats and builders tea.

We wanted to be able to go to any bar, to order any coffee,
to keep any conversation going for however long a time,
only to be able to slip in an
“oh, I’m not from England, actually,”
and watch people’s surprise.

We worked so hard, to lose our accents,
the rolling Rs, the hard Gs,
the lilts that gave us away;
the sound of what we thought was
“not good enough,”
“not practiced enough.”

Oh, how wrong we were.

Accents are identity, just as much as names and clothes
and the street corners you passed on your way to school.
Your accent’s where you’ve come from, it’s the dotted line on an airplane map,
it shows the world you dared to try.

Your accent is your family dinners, the lessons of your mum’s lullabies,
the laundry songs of your house,
the courage it took, to get on that plane.

It’s a road map of the people you care about,
those who sat with you while you were learning,
who let you spin wonders of the words you didn’t understand,
and who offered their pronunciation to try on for size.

My accent grew up with snow in its boots and saltwater in its nose.
My mispronounced “shower gel”,
My Ds and Ts blurring into each other,
is my home away from home.

So instead of dropping our accents,
let us celebrate them.
For all that we are,
and all we’re yet to learn,
and every step along the way.

-Andrea

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On the first day in August..

…I want to wake up by your side

How is it September already?
August really flew by this year, and I feel like the months just slipping through my fingers like sand in an hour glass (or something else equally poetic) has become the theme for these wrap-up posts. To be fair, come November I’ll be screaming “can’t it just be Christmas already??”, so not really sure I can be the one to talk, but right now at least, I feel like the days are passing just that bit too quickly.

August has been great though, and I’ve gotten to:

  • Start the month in France, plus stay in both a little gite + a tent in a campsite
  • Go swimming in a French lake + “float” across said lake on a homemade raft
  • Explore Tence and Chenereilles with Harvey
  • Bring Harvey back to Norway with me for three weeks, and show him my home in proper summer-gear
  • Spend more time with my nephew, plus introduce him to Harvey
  • Start my third year of uni!
  • Meet a lot of wonderful new people
  • Translate a few more services
  • Get back into my guide job and start a new part-time cleaning job on the side
  • Get some more writing done for the business
  • Receive 38 postcards through Postcrossing (!!!)
  • Spend Friday-Sunday at a hotel in a neighbouring city, basically being thrown into the deep end with student politics, at my uni’s Student Parliament’s kick off-seminar
  • Sleep in 7 different beds; in Chenereilles, at the camp site, at home-home, on an air mattress in the flat, in my own bed in my own flat, in a hotel with Harvey and in the hotel with the Student Parliament

What a month! Thanks for stopping by and having a look, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

-Andrea

“Carrot Cake Counting”

Right now you’re on a coach,
somewhere between a forest and a mountain
on your way to another country,
and if that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.

I have to remind myself that you are going home,
that I do not own you or your time,
that carrot cake and Tuesday mornings
and “have a lovely day at work” isn’t our norm,
just yet.

For now our norm is plane tickets and good night messages,
FaceTime birthday songs and counting.
Always counting.

Counting days,
counting weeks,
counting months.

Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay 


-Andrea

“I’m building a home”

I’m building a home 
on Tuesday’s laundry and broken light bulbs.

I’ve spent so long balancing on top of the
return to sender-confidence
that I toppled over and hit my head,
but I’ll clean the place up before you come over –
I swear.

Do you want to stay the night?
I can make a bed for you!
Oh, just remember to beat out yesterday’s daydreams,
they like to keep people awake, you see.

And if you want a cup of tea,
I make an okay ginger and lemon.
But please excuse me for a second;
ambitions keep dusting up the bottom of my mugs.

If you do come around,
I’ll welcome you with a marching band’s drumroll,
to my fort of dirty dishes and expired parking tickets.
Just don’t expect too much from me,
when you arrive with your shirt fresh off the ironing board
and your briefcase full of documents and signatures.

I’m still trying to divide my socks from my spoons from my groceries,
And I’m doing my best.  

Photo by Pexels at Pixabay

-Andrea

“Aeroplanes and rationing cards”

Her mother threw birthday parties on rationing cards,
dressed three children in the living room curtains,
and sent them to bed with a kiss on the forehead.
Her father lived only in the stories,
the captain that went down with his ship,
the war hero.

Sixteen years later she stepped ashore where her father set sail,
trying steps after crossing the ocean that took him,
three dresses and a Bible in a tattered suitcase.
Governess by day, she told tales of foreign forests
before sending new children off
with a forehead kiss,
Lady in the evenings, at Dr Flemming’s dinner parties,
keeping her kisses to her chest like cards.

When the words for hands and home and country were of no use anymore,
they slowly slipped away.

Sixty years later, I get off the plane
in the country she no longer remembers.
Her memories are smoke signals no one can read,
but I look to the sky to try
anyway.

When I reach the sea, I put my hand in the water,
I feel the cold against my skin,
how it circles my fingers, my palm.

In a pocket with fraying edges
I’ve still got her rationing card.

-Andrea

Like some surrealist invented this Fourth of July

And there goes July. I’ve spent the last two weeks in small French mountain villages, driving along winding forest roads, swimming in a lake and eating more cheese than anyone should eat in a lifetime – let alone a summer (of course this is not true at all, if you find yourself some really good brie there is never a reason to not just eat all of it). There was not a lot of phone reception and even less internet to acquire, and so this post is a bit late. But as Harvey and I are on the train-tram-plane x2-coach journey home now, it seemed like a good time to post the July wrap-up post and video!

July’s been a good one on many accords.

I’ve gotten to:

  • Get to know, to hold and spend a lot of time with my new nephew!!
  • Work at the library
  • “Farm” radishes
  • Do a lot of baking and cooking
  • Get to know my sister’s husband’s family better as they came and stayed with us for a week
  • Fish for crabs again like we did when we were children
  • Travel to France on my own
  • Stay a night with a (lovely) family who I didn’t know at all (but who literally saved me), because Harvey’s plane (from England) got cancelled and suddenly I was stuck in Lyon all alone
  • Go to a beautiful wedding in St Segolene
  • Eat my own body weight in French brie and baguettes
  • Know and stay with Harvey’s family, which was lovely
  • Get a little bit of a tan!

So this has been my July; new nephew, work, food and France. Not a bad month summed up. And Harvey’s come back to Norway with me, and is staying for another 3 weeks, so fingers crossed August will be wonderful too.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
-Andrea

Why I’m breaking up with a beloved New Years resolution…

…6 or so months into the year!

“Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like: Thither. Mischance. Felicity. I am always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together. Read it! I know you’ll love it.”- Kathleen Kelly, You Got Mail (1998)

And so began my confused relationship with Jane Austen’s authorship; watching Meg Ryan so eloquently discuss literature I deemed far beyond my 8 years of life well-lived, on my grandparents VHS player.

As explained in this post, I’m not very good at New Year’s resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still give it an honest go every single year. A resolution that’s followed me around ever since getting to visit the Jane Austen House in Chawton (on three lovely occasions in 2018, you can click here to watch pictures and read last year’s Andrea chatter on excitedly about it), has been to read all of Jane Austen’s books. I’ve never read any of her work to completion, but I love the idea of her as a writer. The woman who sharply criticised the society she knew, who challenged the notion of a women’s role in relationships and in societies, and who published her first novel not by her own name, but signed “Written by a lady”.

The resolution was to finish all of her books, but as I still keep restarting Pride and Prejudice, I haven’t gotten any further than I was in February 2018. I had a real boost where I read it all up to where Darcy writes Elizabeth the letter (slight vagueness to avoid any spoilers of this much loved and 206 year-old narrative) but then life got hectic and I didn’t sit down with the story again until it felt wrong to pick up where I left and so I had to start all over again. Cue this happening multiple times, and come July 2019, I’m none the further.

So, let’s get into what this post is really about.
I am breaking up with this new years resolution, as I think maybe I’m not ready to delve into all of Austen’s books just yet. I do love the stories of hers which I’m familiar with, and I love hearing people talk about them, but I think right now they may not be for me. I don’t want them to be books I just get through, I want them to be stories to be cherished. 21-year-old me was so sure that I was finally ready to understand what Austen wrote about, but 23-year-old me isn’t so sure. And so I’ll remove this point from my list of (rather lacking) New Years Resolutions, and get to them in my own time. May be when I get back to uni over the summer, or in a couple of years, and who knows, maybe I won’t ever read all of Austen’s books. The ones I do end up reading, however, I will read properly, slowly, and with a big mug of tea in my hands. I’ll process the story and grow on it. In my own time.

Hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea