What a year it’s been. The good, the bad and the unexpected.
Looking back on these almost 8 minutes of rather shaky every day footage left of 2020, has taken on a bit more meaning this year. In a year where a lot of the days have blended into one, where home office and not seeing people has made weeks pass without us really noticing they’ve even arrived, looking back on this feels like an exclamation of “this year has come and passed, in minutes and in seconds and in days, and I swear I was a part of it”. Every cup of tea, every little walk – I was there for it all, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
It’s definitely been a year for contemplation, of decision making and for change. November and December has been a time of looking at what I’ve managed to accomplish this far and what I want to still go on to do, and I’ve realised I need to make some changes. These months have been months of frustration, of worry and of celebrating every little victory I could find, just like it’s been for everyone else.
Rambles done and dusted, here’re the seconds recorded from the 1st of September to the 31st of December this year. I want to post the entire 2020 video on its own in a minute, but it also feels like the last four months of 2020 deserve their own post. They’ve truly done their best with the days they had, no arguing there.
In January I fell in love with the album Love, Run by The Amazing Devil. It’s a haunting experience of an album and the kind of music that can comfortably accompany you on days both good and bad.
Looking for something else on my laptop today, I found this little thing. It’s a cover of The Amazing Devil’s “Elsa’s Song” – a project I started (and forgot about) in March, when everywhere started closing down due to Covid, and everyone had to more or less self isolate. Watching it now honestly feels a bit like an accidental time capsule. The video is from before I cut my hair and when I was still wearing my old glasses, and this was before I did my last exams, handed in my dissertation and before I moved and started the job I’m working now. It was also at the very start of lockdown and it reminds me of how overwhelming and uncertain everything felt at the time, and how, in March, we were still waiting for a deadline on when what we kept referring to as “these special times” would be over. Now we’re mid-October, and looking at at least another year of this, and everyone’s just doing their best. So yeah, an accidental time capsule in many ways.
The videos were recorded by an old dam quite close to my uni flat. It was a place I often went to when I just needed some space and some air, and initially I muted the rain sounds in all the clips. I decided to keep the rain however, kind of like a tribute to how The Amazing Devil often use ambient sounds and surrounding noise to add to the stories in their lyrics. There is something to the lyrics in this song – they’re about love and connection and being remembered, and humanity really not being the best at learning from past mistakes. Feels rather relevant at the moment, to be fair, with everything that’s going on around the world.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
the night we hid our childhood memories
in drawers and cupboards and make believe-safes?
How we wrapped secrets and fairy tales
in the blankets our five-year-old selves
couldn’t sleep without.
Whispering, we gently placed them all in unforgettable treasure chambers.
Do you remember how the shoes that blinked when we walked
greying like streets heavy with rain,
as electricity bills ate all our ice cream pennies.
Our hiding places got more secret,
and as we walked past them yelling Marco, they stopped replying,
as deadlines and invoices and parking tickets called louder
than memories ever dared.
If you do, then please let me tell you
how last night I found that childhood drawer,
and today I’m sat here on the floor, flicking through dusty sweet wrappers
wondering whether I should give them back or not.
I almost throw them away.
Stamps are expensive and memories are heavy.
I’ve learned it’s not cheap,
to wrap nostalgia up in polaroid pictures
and Royal Mail envelopes.
I won’t throw them away though.
I don’t think I ever will.
Written September 1st 2020
Most years I hold onto summer like it’s the railing of a bridge I’m not entirely sure whether to trust or not – fingers clenched around long summer evenings, oceans to swim in and the sun never really setting.
Now it’s September 1st and the fog is rolling in over the hills and the fields of my little hometown. This year something is different. This year, I can’t wait for long dark evenings enveloping us, blankets on the sofa and thicker jumpers in the office. I can’t wait for mugs of tea and warm woolen mittens, for lighting candles and having to turn the lights on in every room I enter. Maybe life’ll slow down a bit around autumn time this year, and I’m excited about that too. Spring brings life and summer brings energy – maybe this autumn can bring a sense of calm. I’m excited for books and for blankets, for sitting inside while September paints the sky with the sun rising and setting.
Yeah, I’m ready for autumn to roll around, but before that I’ll have a think about the months that have passed. May to August of 2020 have been months of moving flats twice, moving away from some very good friends, wonderful summer weekends, boat trips, cutting most of my hair off, starting an internship and seeing that internship turn into a permanent position. They’ve been months of not cooking as much as I’d like, of scouring town for a picture frame with three slots, and of nephew cuddles galore. They’ve been months of corona testing and quarantining and chewing your bottom lip wondering what the future holds. They’ve also surprisingly enough been months of woolen scarves and thunderstorms in July, but hey ho – this year’s a strange one anyway, so who’s to be surprised about having to don a bikini one day and a knitted scarf the next.
We’ve made it through the first half of 2020 – let’s get on with the next one!
- Light lanterns on your veranda
- Pick up the ukulele you haven’t played since 2015
- Spend all day trying to reteach your fingers chords and frets they used to know
- Realise that muscle memory is definitely a thing, but that does not mean that playing an instrument is like riding a bike
- Cough because your cold is not happy about you doing anything but laying in bed
- Practice all day anyway
- Get the good kind of frustrated because you feel like your mind is really focusing on something other than being worried about quarantining
- Listen to the neighbors having a very loud party which feels a bit out of place in a global pandemic where people really shouldn’t meet up for parties at all
- Realise that your fingertips are not a fan of suddenly pushing down nylon strings again
- Put a jumper on when the sun goes down and it’s getting a bit nippy
- Realise that you go full on American when you sing the word “party”
- Try and remedy this for some kind of consistency’s sake
- Also realise that there are apparently a lot of motorbikes in your area and that every single one of them are planning on driving past your house tonight
- Record yourself singing one of your new favourites even though your fingers haven’t really gotten a hold of the chords just yet
- Sing with the cold-infected voice that you have
- Ignore that it’s all a bit rough and stumbly and just enjoy the process
The first poetry stage I ever experienced, and my favourite to this day, is Winchester’s Poetry Platform. A monthly open mic-poetry night, hosted in the attic space above the Railway Inn in Winchester — this vibrant spot of poets and writers who travelled in from (very) near and (a little bit) far, was the most wonderful introduction to live poetry. I loved it from the get go; the vibe of “everything’s okay here”, the little stage that welcomed everyone, how there was always room for one more person. It was like one of those big round tables where you can always pull up one more chair. I spent the first couple of months just listening, sat in awe taking in the words of the brave people on the stage, before I worked up the courage to join in myself. After that I never missed an event.
Moving away from Winchester meant moving away from a lot of things that meant the world to me, and Poetry Platform was honestly one of those things I was so sad to let go of. It was truly a space in which I found myself grow, both as a writer, as a listener and as a person.
Looking at this video though, you can tell I’m still as awkward a bean as ever. Gosh, I need to up my performance game, especially now that performance means talking to your own laptop screen and not the expectant darkness of an audience.
One of the very few good things to come out of this global pandemic, is the Poetry Platform going online and moving locations from the Railway Inn to Zoom. Poetry readings in your Living room aren’t the same as being in that attic space above a pub, with the smells and the sounds and the textures of pub chairs and cider bottle condensation, but it’s a hell of a lot better than no poetry readings at all.
I read two new work-in-progress poems on August’s poetry platform, from the safety of my temporary central Oslo living room. How strange to sit in this flat who represents everything that’s new and a little intimidating, reading poems about the sea outside my parents’ house, to people still living in the city that will forever hold my first proper adventure.
I suddenly find myself in a situation I haven’t been in before. I’m sat in a borrowed fifth floor flat in the middle of the biggest city in Norway, looking out over the sun setting over Oslo, shrouding the parks and the buildings and the castle in mid-July nighttime. This is a fairly quiet part of the city center, but compared to my 2000 people-hometown, everything seems grand and loud. People are wandering on the streets below me, and I am both in the middle of more bustle than I’m used to, and also so incredibly on the outside of it. Not a bad place to be, really.
Big cities are strange. It’s in the cities stuff is happening. Big cities mean life, big cities are synonymous with energy, big cities smell of adventure, new foods and bright colours. People gather in big cities, huddle together in big cities, but people are also incredibly lonely in big cities. Big cities are for dreams and worries and ambitions and nails bitten short.
At the moment I’m so very new to this city. I’ve never lived with the sounds of trams passing outside my window, and it’s a new experience. Maybe the best way to get used to the city bustle is to sing with it. I tried that; a song about how no matter what else you have or haven’t got, at least you’ll always have tomorrow. Maybe the city is a little bit more mine now than it was this morning. Maybe it’ll be a little bit more mine tomorrow. Like I said, I’m so incredibly new to this city. I don’t know it properly and it certainly doesn’t know me, yet. But maybe one day. Maybe this city will lead to small changes that will lead to big changes, maybe this first temporary stay will lead to some sort of personal growth I’m not prepared for and certainly not aware of at the moment. This feels like the beginning of something – I’m just not sure what.
I brought one of my favourite mugs, filled it with tea and now I’m sat overlooking the buildings and the trees in the park. Cars, trams, taxis and electric scooters; meters below me life is going on and on. I can’t wait to join in, but for tonight I think I’m just going to feel oh so very fortunate to suddenly find myself on the rooftops of the capital, to see the city from above, to be in the middle of what feels like everything, and still be a little bit distanced from it. I’ll learn and grow and get to know this city tomorrow. I’m very excited about it.
As cliche as it might be, sometimes books just speak to you.
I was looking through old folders of videos, and I found two videos recounting my favourite book quotes of years long gone and passed. There was one video from 2010 and one from 2013 and it was interesting to see what kind of quotes and books made it into those videos, what quotes I felt it important to remember “for ever” and what words I wanted to share with the world. It made me think about the quotes that are important to me now, and it made me want to remake that video with my favourite books as of late.
So here goes; a couple of words to live by, some to laugh at, and others to simply enjoy.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
This morning finds me with a cup of tea and the fourth Witcher book wide open, the window cracked and the sun streaming in. Last night I handed in the last assignment I’ll ever do at uni, my BA thesis has been safely handed in too, and there is nothing else left to do with five years of university. This might be as close to a perfect morning as I can imagine. A perfect spring day.
No one anticipated how this year was going to go, and not in our wildest imaginations would any of us guess that this would be how we’d spend our spring: quarantines and travel bans and social distancing. Working on exams and hand-ins and the thesis has been a godsend in keeping my routine quite close to normal, and for that I’m grateful.
This situation has brought a strange end to my time in Kristiansand, though, and I’m trying to come to terms with it. This city, which has been synonymous with lovely people, social gatherings, study groups and wine nights with people who’ve become my closest friends, now seems rather cold and lonely. Luckily I’ve made friends with the next-next-door neighbor, and we wave and chat across our balconies, both in our own little spheres. Cross-balcony tea parties have become our specialty, and they’re definitely something that’s gonna stand out as the marker of 2020. So, what did you do in April ’20? I finally got into rooibos tea, and drank copious amounts of it while chatting to my new German friend who got virus-stuck in Norway, while both chillin’ out in our respective flats.
I wonder how many times people have said “I’ll never take a hug for granted again”, from their little self-isolated bubbles, but I’ll join the choir. I hope we don’t forget this time too easily when “normality” comes knocking on our doors; I hope I never take socialising for granted again. Not that every single night out needs to be filled with mindfullness and extreme gratitude, but maybe there’ll be time for a little thought sent to just how lucky I am to have kind people around me. Maybe I’ll just have an extra little think when I’m sat next to someone I care about, with their arm around me as the waves crash against a shore we’ve dragged the boat up on. Maybe I’ll be a bit more grateful for the loud music escaping speakers on a massive stage, and enjoy the feeling of a really good summer concert outside, on one of those nights where the mosquitos forget to bite and the breeze is warm and calm and the sun never really sets. Maybe that will be the time to send a small thought to when we weren’t allowed to gather more than five people in total, to when hugs were out of the question and bright spring nights were intended spent indoors.
However, this time has made me reconnect properly with friends who have moved away, friends in other corners of the world and different countries, and I really appreciate that. Having to suddenly do all socialising online really bridges the gap of “moved to a different country”.
I’m still filming a second a day, and those seconds are strange to watch back when times are so quickly a-changing. I’ve decided to split 2020 into 3 videos, “January to April”, “May to August” and “September to December”. I did intend to post this earlier than now in mid-May, but oh well..
This year has already proven that it can take us for a ride, that it can twist and turn and properly surprise us, and I’m both anxious and excited to see what else this year has in store for all of us.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day!