Dismantling the Postcard wall and getting rather nostalgic about it

I’m moving out of my flat on the 15th of June, which is, objectively, still more than a month away. However, spending so much time inside this flat lately has really made me think about what this flat means (and has meant) to me and what the future will hopefully bring, and in a fit of … not really inspiration and definitely not passion, but in a fit of something, I decided to dismantle my postcard wall today.

I love my postcard wall. When I first moved to Kristiansand I bought my first ever mailbox, and for a couple of moments, I felt like a proper adult. To fill the mailbox with nice things, I joined Postcrossing, and since September 2018 I’ve sent 203 cards and received 202. Every single card has been meticulously pinned to my wall, and today I’ve taken them all down. It took me about an hour – I wanted to have a read through, and properly look at all of them, not just tear them down.

The postcard wall has served as an interesting and unique piece of decoration to make a student flat seem a bit less dull (and orange, that wall is oh so very orange). It was the one thing people always commented on when they entered my flat; there was always a “wow” or a “what on earth is all this?” But more important than that – it made the flat feel a bit less temporary. The postcard wall was “my thing”; 202 greetings from 202 people I’ve never met, 202 people’s handwritings and well-wishes from around the world, and something that slowly built itself up around me. And as I was taking the cards down, I looked at so many of them and I realised that I can remember receiving almost all of them. I remember when specific cards popped into my mailbox, how quickly I ran inside to register them and pop a message back to the sender, before putting them up on the wall, contemplating whether the front or the back should be on show. I do not know where any of the cards I’ve sent ended up, but maybe they’re on someone else’s postcard wall, or in an album or a box that someone flicks through when they need a smile or a giggle. The postcard wall has definitely made me feel safe and at home, like I’m surrounded by these snippets of time, these conversations happening at kitchen tables and desks all around the globe. What a privilege to get to be a part of such a thing.

I’ve moved six times in the last six years, but this is the first flat I’m genuinely sad to leave. Taking down this wall, which I’ve appreciated so much, felt like the first step to taking my time to thank the flat and start moving out of it. Having to rush all of these cards down, while simultaneously trying to pack up everything else just felt wrong; the cards needed their own time and their own moments. Silly, I know, but it just felt right.

So here you go, I hope you enjoy this little snippet of how the postcard wall came to be history. A lot less dramatic than I make it sound, but to be fair, removing the first card felt quite dramatic to me. Then it became a bit meditative, as I read through the kind words of strangers who’ve all given me a little bit of their time on the back of a card, who all helped make this flat feel a little bit more like mine. And without planning for it, the very last card left on the wall, the very last to be carefully taken down, was actually the very first I received. Full circle, and all that.

Here’s to many more postcards, in many more mailboxes to come. I hope you’re having a lovely day, and that you’re staying safe wherever you are.

-Andrea

55 of my favourite things, pt. 5

~ The Horror and the Wild album ~ world poetry day ~ the first dandelions of the season ~ spring starting to peek its head through ~ “Fair” by The Amazing Devil ~ (almost) daily snapchats of my best friend’s son of about 2 and a half ~ Microsoft Teams ~ The 2016 Moomin Summer mug ~ my nephew’s small hands tucked into warm mittens ~ lavender hand soap ~ hula hoops ~ the coastline ~ the blue table cloth-turned-bedspread which I bought at a stall on the Winchester high street and still love and cherish ~ surprising messages from people I haven’t spoken to in a while ~ loving messages from people I talk to every single day ~ the bluetooth speakers I just managed to get working ~ gathering data for my BA thesis ~ the day getting longer and longer ~ people taking the corona epidemic seriously and coming together to fight the spread of the virus ~ walks along the rocks by the fjord on my own ~ the fjord ~ my little uni flat ~ the bookshelves at my parents’ house ~ my mum’s knitted cardis ~ ao3 subscription emails ~ the on-going search for the perfect jar to store tea in ~ “morning coffee” at work ~ all the musicians live streaming home gigs right now ~ my mum’s chocolate cake ~ a clean kitchen ~ cheesy 2010-romances ~ old diaries ~ a tidy room ~ nicknames ~ finding the perfect birthday present for someone even though it’s not their birthday for many many months and being so excited to give the present that you almost let slip what it is ~ The Witcher book series ~ my IKEA stuffed shark called Willie ~ crossing stuff off my to do list ~ a good sleep schedule ~ living by the sea ~ donating blood ~ being the first one to get up in the morning and popping the kettle on ~ home-knitted slippers ~ “your package has been shipped” ~ rediscovering old favourite books ~ being ahead on tomorrow’s to do list ~ the quiet of living in a tiny place ~ coincidences ~ discount coach fares ~ succulents ~ emails that are easy to write ~ BA thesis tutorials on skype ~ the sun ~ good colleagues ~ skype hang-outs with friends ~ plans for the future ~

Image by Peggy Choucair from Pixabay

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

“Love in the time of Covid”

Have a poem, with the aforementioned cliched title, filmed on my webcam complete with the noises of both my mum and dad in separate skype-meetings upstairs. I was only supposed to be home for a couple of days, but then the travel ban hit and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to my uni town. Now we’re three people all trying to do our separate jobs in one house with strangely few doors and a lot of open doorways; it’s not the best solution, but we’re making do. And to be fair, I’d much rather be here right now than isolated all alone in a student flat. Take care of each other, folks.

Love in the time of Covid
is waving at each other from across the street
is walking two meters apart
is «I’ll leave your groceries on the porch, take care».

Love in the time of Covid
is travel bans and cancelled plans and waterfall worries and loneliness.

Love in the time of Covid
is creating an everyday in cramped houses
is home office landscapes and nurseries in living rooms
is a kettle constantly boiling in the kitchen.

Love in the time of Covid
is empty streets and darkened towns and school grounds void of children.

Love in the time of Covid
is learning to be productive in a new normal
is being together by being apart
is showing we care by breaking the chain.

Love in the time of Covid is a team effort, a global population staying inside, a world worth of shoes left waiting by the door.  

Love in the time of Covid
is making the best of strange days to come,
strange days we won’t know how to handle
strange days we never even dreamed of.

Love in the time of Covid
is singing together through open windows
is lighting candles for people we do not know
is gathering in applause in houses across the nation.   

Love in the time of Covid
is staying inside today so others can see tomorrow
it is solidarity
it is compassion.
it is a choice.

-Andrea

So, the world, huh? Yeah…

These last few weeks have been very strange, and I don’t have anything new to add but for my own peace of mind I have to say something.

Since last Wednesday, we’ve seen a lot of societies shut down. In Norway there are travel bans and shop shut downs and all the unis and schools and nurseries are closed. The streets are empty and no one’s at work apart from critical workers.

People are isolating, turning social distancing up to the max and really taking quarantining seriously. Good.

The rules and regulations made to fight off this virus are strict and they’re a bit scary. Never before have I not been allowed to leave my own house, never before have the streets outside been so empty. Businesses are losing money, people are scared for the future, economies all over the world are taking major hits and who even knows how the world will look after this. But I am glad we’re doing it. Extreme times, extreme measure. This situation is strange and scary, yes, but so is this virus and I will loudly support any measure put in place to gather the world to fight it.

“Love in the time of Covid-19” is a phrase I’ve seen a couple of people use now, and it kind of stuck with me. It sounds silly and and silly is definitely something we need right now. I can also how it is a direct reference to Love in the time of Cholera, a book I started but could never finish. Completely unrelated to the current crisis, it is also a great reminder of my friend’s 12th birthday, when her mum rented the film version of said book, thinking “hm, this sounds like a nice film for a bunch of kids”. It was not, but hey, we got a good story out of it.

However, I think that phrase also got stuck because it poses such an important question right now: what does love look like, in these times of not being able to be together?

It is important to talk about how we show love right now, because it’s so very different from how we normally do it. When we cannot express love by clasping our hands together, by pulling the ones we love into the tightest hug, by sleeping next to each other feeling the calm of everyday, we have to find other ways. Right now we are showing love by staying away, by respecting quarantine regulations, by being cautious. We are showing love by isolating ourselves, so that the risk groups can stay safe, by coming together as we’re staying apart. So strange and so very, very important.

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

The 2020 mood board

We’re almost through February, and I’m sat pondering this year; the months that have been and the months that are to come.

I love traditions, rituals, small things I can implement into my life to create patterns and familiarity. Sometimes a pinch of gung-ho spontaneity is needed, but I really appreciate small things that celebrate and mark the every day. Christmas (which, once again, I’m aware was a while ago) is one of those times a year that is seeped in tradition; most things done from late November to the 28th of December are done because “it’s Christmas, and that’s how we Christmas.” And I’m so here for it.

However, I’ve never really had any traditions or rituals around New Years, and wishing the new year welcome. I love the celebrations with friends and family, the fireworks and the not-champagne-bubbles swirling in champagne glasses, but I haven’t found a tradition that I’ve either started for myself, or that’s really resonated with me before.

This year I celebrated New Years in Swanage with Harvey and his family, and his mum introduced me to the New Years Mood board, and let me tell you; this is my new New Years Tradition with a capital T.

It’s a really simple idea: get a big piece of paper (I found A3 to be the perfect size, big enough to fit what you want on it, but not so big that it feels overwhelming to fill the empty space), get some of your favourite magazines and spend some time browsing, flicking through the pages. Look for images, colours, patterns and quotes that resonate with you and how you want the next year to be. I found this process a lot more interesting than sitting down and deciding on New Years resolutions, because it felt like getting a different view on things, a different perspective, some new input. I cut out images and texts I liked, put it all together just because I liked it, and then discovered what it “meant” as the process went on.

The process in itself was also nice. It was sitting down, quietly, for a couple of hours, listening to music and just being alone with my own thoughts. Saying thank you and good bye to the year as it quietly snuck out the door, and welcoming the new one, the one that burst in through the window.

And now we’re here. This little piece is now framed in a very simple, narrow, black frame and resting on my dresser; the perfect place for it to blend into the interior, but also for it to be somewhere where I can throw a quick glance at it in the morning on my way out the door, giving a little thought to “how can I make this moodboard happen today? What have I done to implement these elements into my life?”

My 2020 moodboard isn’t mysterious and filled with hidden riddles and symbols. It is the moodboard of someone who wants to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin, who is on the brink of finishing her education and dreams of a job and a flat where I’ll actually be able to put things on the walls (hence the image of the mugs hanging on the wall), a place I’ll stay for more than the typical student year. This year I’ll hopefully be able to start crafting a life for myself, a life built on those strange BAs I’ve acquired, on my interests and on my skills and abilities. If I squint my eyes, I can kinda see the moodboard reflecting that. It is also the moodboard of someone who wants to learn to prioritize her own wellbeing while still staying active and engaged with the local community, politics, work and volunteering. It is the moodboard of someone who wants to get better at creating small moments of peace in her everyday; moments of books and mugs of tea and knitted blankets bunched up under my chin. My moodboard is my reminder to myself that there is so much I want to do, but all of it doesn’t have to happen right now. It’s also a reminder that unknown, but wonderful, things are yet to come. Things I’ll be excited about, but that I don’t even know about yet. I want 2020 to be a softer year; a year where I’m a bit more kind to myself and where I try to worry a bit less.

I am excited to get back to this moodboard in December of 2020, and to give it another proper think at the end of the year. I am curious to see whether I’ll be able to look back and see specific moments where this little piece of paper has impacted my life. That’s not really the case yet for this last month and a half, but who knows. Maybe soon.

-Andrea

“I love you like a candle flickering on December 1st” (or getting back up on the poetry stage)

If there is one thing I’ve missed since moving away from Winchester, it is the budding community of writers I got to be a part of, and the many opportunities to try out your work on people. I’ve missed electric evenings at the Railway Inn, where you could try your own poetry on for size and then get lost in the words of others. I miss the monthly Poetry Platforms; the space you could perform work in progress-pieces and see how the words you were trying to convey would sit on your tongue, not just on the page.

I haven’t really found anything like that here in Kristiansand, but truth be told, maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. Monday brought a wonderful opportunity in the shape of a Poetry evening at the student union stage; a poesiaften hosted by the student society for Nordic studies.

I got back up on the stage for the first time in about a year and a half, and read two of my own pieces. One in Norwegian and this one in English.

The whole evening was wonderful. More than 50 people came in and sat down, listened closely, shared their thoughts and drank student union wine. There were so many people who wholeheartedly threw themselves into their performances, the atmosphere in the room was warm and relaxed, and I was surprised and happy to find a space at this uni where poetry of all kinds and styles was celebrated and enjoyed. Naively enough, just because I haven’t seen it outright before, I didn’t believe there was a space for poetry in this town at all. Oh, how wrong I was.

This was my first poetry performance in Norway, and it was a lot of fun. Funnily enough, I’m just realising that I wore the same shirt on Monday that I wore to the SO: To Speak Poetry Festival in Southampton a couple of years ago – I guess this is “the poetry shirt” now.

I hope you enjoy this piece. It’s a cliche little love poem that means a lot to me, and it was lovely to finally get to perform it in front of a supportive crowd. It has love, it has spaceships and it has cheese on toast – what more could you want from a poem?

This evening definitely rekindled my love for spoken word-poetry. It was never gone, never burnt down or put out like a campfire under water, it just laid dormant as there were few opportunities to nurture it. Fingers crossed for many more nights like this one, nights that properly refuel the fire.

I hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

55 of my favourite things, pt. 4

~ starting a new tv series you know nothing about ~ finding new books you’ve never heard of before, but the cover looks good ~ chocolate covered peanuts ~ the colour yellow ~ fruit smoothies with orange juice ~ wild rhubarb-smelling all purpose cleaners ~ framed photographs ~ old home videos ~ finishing books you’ve been working your way through for a while ~ getting your bachelor’s thesis proposition accepted ~ quiet study spaces ~ fried eggs ~ decluttering desk drawers ~ my new reading stand so I don’t have to hunch over my books during long study sessions (because I am an old lady) ~ re-falling in love with old favourite albums ~ the Taylor Swift Netflix-documentary ~ early morning bus rides ~ my baby nephew who’s just turned 7 months and is absolutely wonderful ~ the Life’s Library book club ~ quiet Sundays ~ oversized corduroy shirts ~ having just refilled your bus pass so it says “31 days left” when you beep it ~ the sun starting to peak back out in the spring ~ getting to the launderette just to realise that ALL the laundry machines are available ~ frozen grass that creeks under your shoes ~ a filled and organised book shelf ~ surprisingly productive days ~ being able to properly express your opinion at a student parliament meeting ~ seeing your work be published in online journals or other places ~ green apple-scented IKEA candles ~ dry shampoo ~ a newly hoovered floor ~ finally having milk in the house again after forgetting to buy it for a couple of days ~ beautiful handwriting ~ tea ~ my new customised planner ~ New Years mood boards ~ highlighters that aren’t neon coloured ~ examining different language translations of a poem and exploring what kind of different choices the translators were making ~ having your entire future in front of you ~ being able to look back at the past with both nostalgia and gratitude ~ finishing up a really big knitting or crochet project ~ getting started on a new and exciting knitting project ~ plans going exactly as planned ~ learning a new skill ~ proving yourself wrong on something you didn’t think you could do ~ waking up to snow on a January morning ~ mugs that are just the perfect size for your hands ~ feeling the warmth seep back into you after a walk in the cold winter air ~ finally grasping something you’ve struggled with in lectures ~ happy “hello”s on the street as you see people you know hurry past ~ David Tennant’s podcast ~ the new mittens my mum knitted for me ~ a good and respectful debate ~ seeing “assignment submitted” in big green letters on Canvas Student ~

Image by catnamejoe from Pixabay

-Andrea

Journal #20, Time Capsule February 2nd, 11:47

A green spray bottle of stove top-cleaner and a bright yellow tea towel hangs from the handle of a dark grey cupboard door. Contrasts, let’s call it that. Behind that cupboard door, generic-brand chocolate chip cookies, bags of rice, tins of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans are waiting for their respective dinners. I’m sat at the kitchen table, a light brown table with four grey chairs around it, with a mug of tea in my hands. Steam rises in swirls from the mug; swirls I’m sure could tell someone more clearsighted than me about an abundance of futures. To me, it only speaks of comfort and of the prospect of having a nice sip of tea, soon.

A big window covers the wall next to me, framed by white, opaque curtains. Through it, I can see directly into the kitchen next door, where two people are sat just like me, mugs in hand, sun in through the window. I recognise their mugs; big mugs for hefty portions of warm beverages, with pineapples and watermelons painted on them. They’re from the little coffee-and-tea shop in town, the shop that always leaves your clothes smelling sweetly of artisan drinks whenever you visit. They’re sipping their drinks. It’s quiet.

I’m eating reheated soup. It tastes good because it’s good soup, but also because I didn’t have to make it myself and it was free. I was at the uni at 6 pm on Friday, right when the cafeteria gave away all the food they hadn’t been able to sell that day. I was with some friends at Østsia, our uni’s little student pub, from 1 pm to close to 7, just sitting, talking and chatting, laughing. Haven’t done anything like that in a while, just gone out to sit in the same spot for hours and enjoy the company of lovely people. It was sorely needed.

Back in the kitchen, the note on the fridge with “Welcome to the Flat!” is still stuck to the door. It’s been there since June of last year, June 2019. I wrote it as a greeting to whoever were gonna move in over the summer, and even though Maja did move in, and we’re both settled here now, we’ve just never removed it. Now it can greet visitors, guests, maybe even the people who’ll move in after us. Next to the fridge is the very pink bread box, the glass jar filled to the brim with my yorkshire tea bags, a couple of cookbooks and our kettle. That kettle has followed me through a couple of flats now, and it’s still going strong; still making excellent tea. Or at least the water for said tea. However, it’s getting a bit rusty on the inside, so maybe this is its last flat. We’ll see.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Today is a Sunday, and Sundays mean cosy clothes. I’m wearing my favourite Levis Mile High jeans, the ones I’m planning on wearing until they fall apart, and my burgundy corduroy shirt. It is the cosiest shirt, one of those you can just button up and disappear in.

I’m gonna get started on some uni work now, but I just wanted to record this little moment in all its mundaneness. I often think about how many seconds and minutes of my life I cannot remember – the moments that disappear into nothingness when more exciting things come along and demand space in my memory bank, in my brain, and I have a feeling this moment is gonna be one of those. Well, at least I’ve written it down now. Excitement and plans and socialising are all important parts of life, but sometimes, this quiet nothing is comfortable too.

So here’s to many more minutes of this; of teacup swirls and reheated soup and absolutely nothing.

-Andrea

Once upon a December

I know we’re twelve days into January at this point, but I’m not not posting the last monthly update of the year, when I actually managed to stick to this project for twelve months!

This December was a strange, chaotic and emotional month. It was the month of last semester’s batch of exams, the month of getting in a few more weeks of work at the library, and the month of driving home for Christmas, which is, and will forever be, my favourite thing in the entire world.

This December has held Christmas concerts, learning how to bake krumkaker, time spent (and cherished) with wonderful friends and with my family. It has been Christmas concerts and study sessions and getting through my “law module exam” in one piece. It has been a month of dinner parties and coffees with friends old and new; a month to look back on with fondness.

This was also Oliver’s, my nephew, very first Christmas, and so it holds a special place in my heart.

So, though a bit late, here’s my one second every day from the month of December 2019!

Aaaand as we’re already wrapping up December, it only feels right to pop the complete 1 second a day-2019 film here. So here goes; the 6 minutes and 16 seconds that make up 2019. What a year!

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

2010-2019 – The Decade of Decision

Written on the 26th of December 2019

I’m sat by my desk in my parents’ house – a desk where I’ve written many a paper and finished many an assignment. Outside, the grass is showing off frosted tips, and frost roses are playing on my window panes. I’ve been here before. We’ve just had a wonderful Christmas, and now we reach the days of quiet introspection and thinking things through.

This has been one hell of a year. It’s gone by so fast, and I have no clue where all the leftover seconds ran away to; all the moments I hid away, those I tucked in my pocket for safekeeping and said “I’ll keep these for when I need them”. It’s been a busy year, one where I’ve both overfilled my existing plate, and picked up some plates that were never really mine to fill anyway. But it’s been good, and hopefully it has, and will, lead to many more interesting days and experiences.

But not only has this been one hell of a year; it has been a wild and wonderful decade, and after a chat I had with my mum the other day, I’ve decided to name this decade the Decade of Decision.

This has been my decade of making decisions for myself. This has been the decade I have made a lot of choices, big and small, and the years I’ve had to realize that, though a bit wobbly at times, I do have my own two feet to stand on.

These are the years I started using social media (November 2011, to be exact), and had to figure out what kind of relationship I want with online me. Still working on that one. It’s been the years of deciding what sort of school I wanted to go to, what kind of subjects and courses I wanted to take and pursue, and slowly realizing that the choices I made at 15 are both opening and closing doors for me now at the age of 23.

This decade is the first one I properly remember, considering I was 4 in year 2000 when the last one started. 2010-2019 are the years I decided I wanted to pursue higher education, the years that will forever hold my England-adventure, and the years I met some of the people I never want to see leave my life.

The last couple of years, the end of this decade, has seen our family become both smaller and bigger at the same time; we have said goodbye to wonderful people, and hello to some bright new additions. New people, new routines, new traditions. Permanent changes has been made to our “group”, and those changes have been embraced and welcomed.

I am 23, which means that this decade has been a little bit less than half of my life. However, it’s also just getting started, and though I’m sneakily a bit terrified of what’s to come or go, I can’t wait for the rest.

Photo by Tara Dominick

Bring on new flats and jobs and opportunities, bring on new habits made and old habits broken. Merry Christmas which has come and passed and a very happy new year, now that we’re here.

(Ooof, I know I’m very late with my new years posts this year; just got two more coming in the next couple of days and then we’re properly on with the new year!)

-Andrea