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!

I also really wanted to post all the monthly wrap ups videos as a gathered “2019 wrap up”, but am struggling to save the film as it is a 6 and a half minute film and my phone (where I’m filming and storing these) is chronically out of storage. I’m still trying to do it though, and no matter how far into the year we get before I can figure out how to solve this, I think I’m gonna post it anyway. Never a bad time for some last year-introspection, is there!

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

St Lucia's Day and the light we've been missing

Today is Santa Lucia, the day of light in a very dark winter.
It is celebrated on the 13. of December, on the winter solstice that used to be known as the longest night of the year, when the sun would turn on its heel and come back. It was a day for mischief on the farms and for strange things happening, and for candles lighting up the dark.

On Santa Lucia (or St Lucy’s Day) we sing for the the light to come back. We light up the dark corners of our homes with candles, wear crowns made of lights, eat lussekatt-pastries to get us through the cold, and wait for morning and the rising sun. We celebrate and thank the dark winter months, while preparing for longer days of sun to come.

This was my attempt at lighting up the corners of my home, however, as I live in a rather small student flat, there was no way to do this without setting off the fire alarm. I am very lucky, though, to have a pretty thick forest right outside of my home, and it was wonderful to start this project off in darkness and then see how the candles lit up the space around me. Complete silence, the only sounds were the drips of yesterday’s rain that still clung on to the branches and the chirk of the matches being lit.

Image by Christina Zetterberg from Pixabay

This video has been a bit of an experiment; a one-take-attempt. I only gave myself one try to record the song, and the video was all done in one go, too. The song because I wanted to see how it would turn out; the video because I was filming outside at night in a cold (and very dark) forest.

And a note on safety: it had been raining for three weeks straight before I filmed this video on the one day with no precipitation, so the ground was soaked, and not particularly prone to catching fire. Just in case, though, behind the tree in the corner of the video, I had two fire extinguishing aerosols and a fire blanket waiting. Candles are wonderful, and when small flickering flames come together they can really light up a space, but I’d rather not light up the whole forest. Be safe with fire! x

I hope your winter time is filled with light.

-Andrea

Journal #19, Bottling Christmas in a jar and a microphone

I’m sat on a spindly-legged chair in a yoga studio turned concert hall for the evening. A Christmas tree is standing in the corner, covered in nothing but soft white fairy lights, there are jars with sprigs of pine on the tables. I have a mug of tea in my hands, bigger than my face and am warming cold December-fingers on Turkish apple and cinnamon.

Christmas concerts are like being invited into someone else’s Christmas; into the music they turn up on the radio during ginger bread house construction, the songs they sing while toasting marshmallows in the kitchen fireplace of their family home.

You can hear the care and the love that people weave into their Christmas shows. No song is a coincidence, the set is list curated with northern stars and candle light. You can feel the Christmas pyjamas and woolen jumpers in the air on more quiet, cosy songs, and the wind against your cheek as you rush down a snowy hill, rolling, tumbling, on songs that embody more fun.

I’m not sure what songs I’d put on the set list of my own Christmas concert. There are too many songs to choose from, unless you want to keep the audience seated from today and right up until Christmas morning.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

I wouldn’t know how to show someone else the smell of my parents’ house during Christmas, how to convey the sounds of my family home in celebration, of the quiet excitement, the chatter and the peace of Christmas eve in our house hold. How do you make people feel the weight of that one knitted blanket that accompanies every Christmas film, or the chess square cookies my mum always bakes?

The good thing though, is that most likely, everyone else have got that too. They’ve got their own songs, their own smells, their own tastes which makes Christmas Christmas, and come to think of it, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

So I think for now, I’ll hold onto my mug and sit back on my spindly-legged chair, and stay seated in someone else’s Christmas for just a little longer. I’ll listen to the Christmas the musicians on the stage wants to convey, and even though it’s not my Christmas, it’s a very beautiful celebration, indeed. I’m so excited to go home to my own, to travel towards Christmas and my family which I haven’t seen for a while. To travel to where I know what Christmas sounds and smells like, and where I know exactly how the New Year will be rung in.

I’ll go back to where the feeling is bottled in those jars we bring out every year. I’ll be home for Christmas.

-Andrea

November Tale

We’re so close to Christmas, it’s practically here!

This is the second to last of these posts I’ll be making this year and how has it almost been a year since I started this project? Now, eleven months into it, I’m really appreciating these snippets of everyday. I’m so excited to, come January, mash all the months together and see the colours of the months, the change of the seasons, and what may practically be the essence of 2019.

But first, let’s contemplate November and what that brought with it!

  • I gave NaNoWriMo my best shot, and though I didn’t get to 50 000 words I’m really proud of how far I got!
  • Work work and a bit more work
  • Walks in the forest behind the student village
  • Tons of exam reading
  • A lot of meetings and student politics-work
  • My parents visiting, and a lovely concert with my mum!
  • A Christmas market
  • A very messy student flat as both my flatmate and I are mid-exams
  • The first snow of the winter!
  • Many an early morning
  • The first two exams of the semester (two down, two more to go)
  • A wonderful early Christmas dinner with Trine and her family
  • So many cups of tea

I hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“I’ll knit your cat a scarf for Christmas”

but you’re impossible to buy presents for.

Maybe I’ll get you the sequins of sun on snow,
and the frost roses I scraped off my car this morning,
a note saying that nothing lasts forever,
but look how pretty temporary can be.

I could get you a magic chocolate factory,
with grass made of sugar and a flying glass lift,
because nothing’s ever as it seems,
and all problems look small when seen from above.

Maybe I’ll get you a home knitted jumper,
twice the size of a Russian circus,
to remind you to always dance,
even when it’s Jan Garbarek and you’re not really feeling it.

No, I’ll give you a kiss.
wrapped in an acorn,
tread on string.

The miracle and the fairytale,
in the frost roses, the sugared grass and the circus,
hands on chests,
messy bed sheets and quiet voices
in the dark.

I’ll say that’s what you get,
when you’re so much more than any present
I could ever give.

-Andrea

Journal #18 I’ll be productive in the morning

Sunday 20th of October

I’m in a soft mood today; a mood that calls for soft October sun through the window and old forgotten loves on Spotify. I’m in the mood for hot chocolate breakfasts and hoodies that can hide all the stress of the week in oversized pocket. I’m in the mood for Sunday newspapers, sharpening pencils, and the smell of laundry detergent. A soft mood calls for Trygve Skaug’s beautiful lyrics and playful guitar, and picking old book acquaintances off of the shelves again; those I said hi to a while ago but never remembered to call back. I’m in the mood for handicrafts, for braiding and crocheting.

Uni in Norway starts up in early August, and so we’re about halfway through the semester now. This semester has gotten to me more than semesters prior. I’m one of those people who constantly overfill their calendars; who always tries to borrow golden seconds of nighttime to make the day longer. With multiple assignments every week, sometimes more than one in a day, lectures four days a week, two jobs, one volunteering job and a lot of uni reading I have definitely overfilled my plate. There have been moments these past couple of weeks where I’ve been so tempted to get on the train and go home. Just take off, hide under the duvet in my family home-bedroom and make a cup of tea big enough to last me a lifetime so I won’t ever have to leave the sanctuary of my bed.

Bildet er tatt av Free-Photos fra Pixabay

But I won’t do that.
Because even though these last few months haven’t been particularly great, they’re something I’ve started and they’re something I’m gonna finish, and when you strip off the stress, this degree is something I thoroughly enjoy. And sometimes life’s just like that, right? I’m gonna give it my all, maybe even more “all” than I’m already doing if I can find it in me, and steer myself safely through these last few months of first semester. And when Christmas comes around, I’m gonna go home with my first semester exam marks neatly wrapped in my bag (content no matter how they turned out) and when I melt into my parents’ first “it’s Christmas, welcome home”-hug, I can sink into it, knowing I gave this semester my best.

So yes, I’m in a soft mood today, and I think I’ll cherish that. I’ll get the work I need to get done done in my own time, I’ll make sure to look plenty out the window and if I want to listen to soft Christmas music a little bit too early, I think I’ll let myself do that too. I’ll let that October sun peek in through the windows and I’ll revisit all those old favorites, and maybe even pick up where I left off with a book started but never finished. I’m in a soft mood, soft moods are necessary to get through this semester, cause I’m doing my best, and reveling in this feeling of soft is a way of being kind to myself. I can be productive in the morning.

-Andrea

Revisiting my 2013 writing challenge

Hello! 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I am in a holiday-sized bubble of Christmas cosy at the moment. Harvey’s visiting for the holidays, I’m at home with my family, we’re all shrouded in soft pyjamas and old cartoons and more Christmas food than anyone should ever eat. It’s great. 

As we’re reaching the end of 2018, I’ve taken a look at my Goodreads 2018 reading challenge, and I figured I’d make a post about that next week, as we’re rearing closer to the end of the year. For now, though, I wanted to revisit my 2013 reading challenge, to see how it went five years ago!

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I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always loved books. Ever since I was a kid I just couldn’t get enough. 2013 however, at the age of 17, was when I proper started recording what and how much I read. It was my first year of using Goodreads as a way to keep track of my books, and it was when I started setting myself reading challenges to complete.

First of all, my goal for 2013 was 40 books, and I managed to read 38. I’ve decided to sort these books into three lists, the ones I remember reading, the ones I have no recollection of, and the ones I’m pretty sure I didn’t read and might have added just to up my number on the challenge. Embarrassing, but hey, it’s years ago.

Total of books: 38

Books I read and remember to this day: 28

-Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
-An Abundance of Katherine’s – John Green 
-Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
-The Fault in Our Stars – John Green 
-Looking for Alaska – John Green 
-Paper Towns – John Green
-The Time Keeper – Mitch Albom 
-A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learnt while editing my life – Donald Miller
-Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs 
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
-The Island – Victoria Hislop
-Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – David Levithan
-Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – David Levithan
-Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List – David Levithan
-Eighty Days Blue – Vina Jackson
-Eighty Days Yellow – Vina Jackson
-A Street Cat Named Bob – James Bowen
-The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
-One Hundred Names – Cecelia Ahern
-Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
-The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
-To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
-City of Bones -Casandra Clare
-Dear John – Nicholas Sparks
Every You Every Me – David Levithan
-The Lovers Dictionary – David Levithan
-Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
-Søskenkjærlighet – Katarina von Bredow

Safe to say it was the year of John Green and Young Adult fiction, but it was also the year I found my favourite author, David Levithan, and my  all time favourite book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and realised that I didn’t just have to stick to the YA romances. 2013 was also my first time dipping my toes in the classics and the advent of buying books online; i.e, asking the cashier in the bookstore to order books that you could never get in my little Norwegian town, otherwise. 

It’s also interesting to look at what you read at a certain point, because I feel like it can show what you were thinking about at that point in time. Your taste in books can’t really define you, but it absolutely shows what you care about, and offers pointers at what was important to you. 

Books I have no recollection of reading: 3

Boy meets Boy – David Levithan 
I’m so sure I’ve never read this, but I can remember starting it so many times. Not sure why I never got through it, maybe it was just the one Levithan book I couldn’t get into?

The Book of Tomorrow – Cecelia Ahern
I cannot for the life of me remember this one! All I can remember is the fact that I bought it on my first ever trip to a Waterstones and read it on the plane back from my second time ever in London. 

I Don’t Know How She Does it – Allison Pearson
So, I added this book to the list twice, but I’ve no clue what it’s about. I just know that I read it on a beach in Mallorca, and eventually forgot it at the hotel room. 

Books I’m 100% sure I didn’t read and just kind of pretended to have finished: 6

Evig søndag – Linnea Myre
This book was a Christmas present if I can recall, but I have not read this. I think I wanted to be cool and say I’ve read it though, because it was kind of “the book” of my year in school that year. 

Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Yeah, I remember actively putting this book away after the opening pages. This was one of those books that really weren’t what I was expecting, even though I knew nothing about the book before starting it, and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve wanted to pick it up again so many times, but just never get around to it. It felt like a very “grown-up” book, though, and I wanted to be able to say that I’d read and loved it, I remember..

The Reader – Bernard Schlink 
Same situation, I have never read this book. It was very adult-y, and historical and quite gritty, though, so saying I’d read it felt impressive. Goodness me, sixteen-year-old me was a mess.

Will Grayson Will Grayson – John Green
I remember my sister loved this book, but I just couldn’t get into it! It also didn’t help that I didn’t get that the two Will Graysons are two different people, either, but to be fair, that’s my bad. Maybe I should give this a go again, 5 years later.

James Potter and the Hall of Elder’s Crossing – G. Norman Lippert
Okay, I’ve done my googling. What is this book? Not that I’ve got anything against fanfiction at all, but I’m very certain that it’s never been in my bookshelf, and I’ve no clue why I’d put it on my “read-shelf”.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
I never finished this, I didn’t get along with the narrator’s voice, I think. 

As I’m back at my parents’ for Christmas, I had a little look around for how many of these books I actually still own. We all know I’m a bit of a book hoarder, but I was surprised to find that 36 of these are still on my shelves (and the other two I can remember borrowing from a friend) which basically means that I’ve never been very good at throwing books away, huh…

But I figured it could be a bit fun to have a look at some of the ones I’ve still got!

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2013 was the year I felt desperately and irrevocably in love with David Levithan’s writing, a love affair that to this day is still churning in the pit of my stomach. I remember ordering these at the bookstore, as online shopping wasn’t really as easy an option as it is today, at that time in my town. Well, it all began in 2013, but to this day, I still have all of David Levithan’s books on my shelf, he’s got his own one as he has quite a lot of books published. His stories embody the feeling of home, safety and comfort even in the sadder tales, a warm cup of cocoa written in between the covers.

img_7055This copy of The Great Gatsby was the first classic I ever properly read because I wanted to, and also the first time I realised I could make notes and highlight in my own books. After this, I finished To Kill a Mockingbird, and to this day those are the two only classics I’ve ever really gotten through on my own. 

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The beginning of a long and true love story; Mitch Albom, my designated November reads. 

img_7061-1.jpgThe year of all the John Green books in both Norwegian and English, and a rather large school assignment based on (among many others) John Green’s books and his characters. “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, could she exist?” I think it was called. 

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This copy of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses has been read to absolute pieces, and surprisingly enough it also showed up on my uni set list for a Children’s fiction module, in 2017! 

This post got a bit list-y, but it was fun to have a look through. Like I said, I hope to make a little walk through my 2018 reading challenge, plus I want to write a post about New Year’s resolutions and a bit more about 2018 and its lessons learned. I want to update the blog more and have got some fun ideas I’d love to work on more in the new year. 

So, do you do Goodreads reading challenges? Did you read any of these when you were a teenager or a young adult? And have any of these been, or are some of these maybe still, a favourite? 

Hope you have a wonderful day, 

-Andrea