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

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

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

Journal #17, The Cathedral and its wonders

I love my job.

I work in a cathedral; I translate and interpret, and function as a guide during the tourist season.

I am not a Christian, but no doubt do I work in someone’s place of worship, and there is something quietly comforting about that.
As I wash the pews – soap, water, tools to remove old chewed up gum – maybe left there by bored kids on a Sunday that dragged on – from even older wood, someone is lighting candles for a family they hope to see again soon. While I’m relaying interesting facts to tourists, about the spire that went missing in ’45 and how all Norwegian churches don models of ships, someone is sat quietly in mourning. As I refill the oil lamps in the candles on the altar, I think about how I’m lighting the fire that someone may find their God in today. It is a privilege to work in a place that can bring people peace.

As I find myself in this church for eight hours a day, it is easy to forget the holiness the people that visit will bring to these walls, the wooden domed ceiling, the stained glass windows of old. But for eight hours every day, I get to be a part of people’s journeys. I see them enter through the oak doors, and as the church room reveals itself, I see their reactions; as varied as the people.

Some cross themselves, some take pictures for the annual family holiday album, some just stand. Quietly. Some people enter this room that I put on my uniform and go to work in everyday, and they have to take a second to breathe before they enter.

I’m grateful to be working in this building, with its doors wide open to a bustling city, and centuries of life lived and years passed visible in the wear on the rugged stone steps.Church bells tell me when another day has passed, and on the daily I handle artefacts that have existed more than 200 years longer than I have. Everyday, I work accompanied by organ music, from more than 4000 pipes.
This building isn’t just holy because a religion says it is, its holiness lies in its history, in the people who sought refuge in its halls, in the music and the songs that have seeped through the doors and out into the city for generations. It is holy for the children who sees the aisle as too long a straight stretch not to race down, and for the older generations who made these pews their home when they were still so young that their parents braided their hair at night.

This place is holy because of the woman that comes in everyday. The woman who walks quietly in and lights four candles in a little cluster, where others normally just light one. She lights them like a family holding around each other, flickering together.

I’m not a Christian, but no doubt I’m working in a holy place.

-Andrea

April, come she will

Exam season has hit my course (and me) like a freight train, and so April has passed in a daze of study group sessions, terminology revision, and general exam practice. I can’t believe we’re in May already, but May is my favourite month of the bunch, and so I’m excited about spring finally having taken a proper hold. It’s May 1st today, and some friends and I made a day of bussing out to a little water outside of town. It became the day of the first swim of 2019, of water-side food and of trying and failing to befriend a duck. A good day, in other words.

However, April waves goodbye and leaves in its wake:

  • More translation/interpretation works
  • A new job!
  • A new crochet project
  • Study groups en mass
  • Lots of new knowledge
  • A wonderful little trip home for Easter
  • Great friends
  • Some experimental dinner decisions
  • So many sunny days!

-Andrea

55 of my Favourite Things, pt. 2

~Blue and white striped shirts ~ my new little flat ~ Yorkshire tea ~ travelling ~ discovering new TV shows ~ rewatching old TV shows ~ peach ice tea ~ knitted jumpers ~ new projects ~ that feeling when a particularly grumpy piercing has finally healed properly ~ Brooklyn 99 ~ woolen socks ~ volunteering in a job that’s relevant to your field of study ~ new pens ~ knowing that you’ve given your all on an exam and being rewarded for it in the marks ~ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency ~ 90s romcoms ~ tarot cards ~ exciting plans ~ an unmapped new year ~ new work experience opportunities ~ hiking boots ~ horses on the farm next to the uni ~ the fact that there even is a farm, one minute walk away from the uni ~ new set texts ~ STARKID musicals ~ tacos ~ the smell of someone you care about on your clothes ~ this blog ~ the sea on sunny days when the surface glitters like a million pieces of broken glass ~ the sea on rainy days where the line between the ocean and the horizon is blurred by the weather ~ learning new words ~ floral bed sheets ~ my translation studies ~ the size of the campus at my uni ~ having my work featured and acknowledged in small publications ~ swimming – finally nailing the lyrics to a particularly wordy song ~ watching my friends excel at what they do ~ when films put the credits in the opening scene ~ tipsy showers ~ how smells can instanly transport you back to a moment in time ~ old perfumes you used to wear ~ homemade blankets ~ nail polish ~ cheese on toast ~ coming up with lines of poetry that aren’t connected to any poem you’re working on, but writing them down anyway hoping they might develop into a poem of their own ~ lecturers that love their subjects ~ dishwashing soap ~ fresh towels ~ talking to people about the stuff they love ~ catching up with people you haven’t talked to in ages ~ student organisations ~ tiny tattoos ~ cats ~

-Andrea

Journal #14, The sounds of a new home

I’ve gone to sleep in a new bed tonight. I’ve moved houses again; another student flat, another shoebox room. There is something mindful about the process of moving from one space to another – about taking all of your books off of your shelf and putting them into boxes, holding onto some you may not have looked at since you read them and receiving gentle reminders of future reads you may have forgotten about. Folding every item from your closet, and carefully lifting all the pictures down from your walls. Taking a second to really look at all the things you surround yourself with every day, and properly contemplate on what elements are gonna be allowed to come with you to this new home.
That is, until you feel like you’ve done nothing but pack for the last week, and just chuck everything in a big box labelled “unsorted” to finally be able to move on with your life.

I was excited about this move. Tomorrow marks the first day of semester two on this “new” BA, (I’ve got to stop referring to it as new at some point, but today is not that day), and I’ve moved back into student accommodation. It’s nice to be closer to campus, and in a weird way, it feels right to be out of my little house, to be living in just one room again. I absolutely loved living there, but this feels more student-y, more like a cosy little space that’s 100% mine, and suddenly all the things I longed to get away from about student accommodation a year ago, feels oddly comforting.

But this little flat has a lot of new sounds in it, just like all new living spaces do. There is creaking in the walls, and a sort of drone coming from somewhere in the ceiling that I’ve yet to identify. There are new people walking outside, new voices and thoughts, and different winds whipping. Also, I’m back to having a flatmate again, and though the soft sounds of someone moving around in the next room are comforting, it’s also something you need to get used to again, every time you’ve been living without it for a while.

This semester is gonna be good, and living in this flat is gonna be great. My flatmate seems lovely, and in contrast to my last flats that I’ve shared with 9 other people, it’s just me and one other student this time. I also really like how my little room looks and feels, and it’s a nice space to make cosy and homely, but the first night in any new place is always weird.

So for tonight, I’ll put on a playlist with songs that sound like a Tuesday evening at home, get some fresh pyjamas out of a soon-to-be unpacked suitcase, curl up in familiar bedsheets and let myself feel a little bit small for just a moment. It’s not a bad feeling, not like being scared or unsure or really homesick, it’s just the feeling of things changing around you. Nothing marks change like new living spaces; a new degree or a new job, a new city, maybe even a new country. But I’ve made many a flat feel like home before, and this one won’t be an exception.

I’m excited for what is to come.

-Andrea