Pyjama Sessions – “I said there’s no getting rid of me now…”

Sometimes I feel like there is this notion that poetry has to be gritty to be good, that poems have to make you cry to be worth something. I agree that poetry is a wonderful platform to rebel, to be angry and to talk about stuff it feels like you can’t talk about anywhere else. Poetry is honest, it’s raw and it’s unmasked. But it’s also cosy and safe and comfortable. Poetry can just as well leave you feeling all warm inside, it’s just as valid when a poem makes you smile, makes you giggle, makes you let out that breath you’ve been holding for a little too long.

Poetry belongs where we’re feeling safe, it belongs before bedtime on a Monday, and tucked in under a blanket, hot chocolate in hand on a Sunday morning.

Welcome to my bed; welcome to floral bedsheets, a baggy pyjama t-shirt, my face with no makeup on. Have a poem I wrote a little over two years ago, a poem about all the wonderful tomorrows we hope will be granted us one day. Let’s all be so lucky.

I’ll let the video speak for itself, and if you want to read the poem before, after or while listening, here’s the written version.

I hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

#iweigh a love of tea and a BA I’m proud of

Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of not feeling good enough in your own body, especially when you’re constantly bombarded with images of what you’re supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to act.

Daily, multimillion dollar industries play at our insecurities, making us spend more money on their products by showing how happy glossy hair and smooth skin will make us. For many, the number on the scale feels like a punch in the stomach when standing alone in the bathroom, wet hair up in a tattered towel, in nothing but underwear, looking for affirmation in dead numbers. But it’s enough now.

#Iweigh is an initiative on Instagram, and the internet in general. It was started by British actor Jameela Jamil and has been embraced by women all over the world! The goal of the movement is for women to feel empowered by and measure themselves in their accomplishments and what they appreciate and are proud of.

A hashtag isn’t going to fix everything. A hashtag won’t immediately change the fact that 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up, but if this movement teaches us anything, it is that we are so much more than our appearance and the number on that bathroom scale. We are worth the world just by existing, and we are worth every single proud moment we have ever achieved. We are worth the big crescendo in our favourite piece of music, coffee dates with our friends and good night messages from our loved ones. We are worth the compliments we give to others and the praise we hesitantly receive.

There were a couple of things I couldn’t fit in the picture, and so I’m adding them here:

#iweigh
-An affinity for experimenting with laundry detergent and washing up liquid
-The way I deal with emergencies
-My library job and everything I’ve learned through it
-All of my earlier jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experiences
-Three years abroad
-That I try to make the days good for the people around me
-That I can make you a really good cup of tea

And so much more!

I chose to use this picture even though I always feel a bit awkward posting selfies. However, this one was taken on my first day back at my new uni after taking a week off to attend the graduation ceremony at my old uni, I was drinking my favourite tea (Dorset Tea’s Strawberry and Cream), jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, and the leaves were turning yellow all around me. It was a wonderful moment, one of those where you’re 100% convinced that everything will work out in the end. It’s an image it feels right to use in this situation.

I hope you measure your worth in all the things that make you you, today x

Until next time,
-Andrea

Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

Journal #12

Lazy Sunday mornings are for warm beds and woolen socks, for stretching and for relaxing. They are for opening the curtains and letting the sun in, for cracking open the window, just a little bit, to feel one of those fresh October breezes go past. They’ve got time for long breakfasts and jazz on the radio, for twirling around the kitchen while your toast is getting ready.

Sundays are for soft shirts and your hair in a bun. They are for no makeup, for being cosy in the corner of the sofa, for blankets and cushions and for scented candles. Sundays are for cups of tea. Steaming, fresh, Indian chai, blueberry muffin, cinnamon and apple, all those flavours you need to sit down and savour, that you can’t just rush in a travel mug on the way to uni. Sundays are for writing lists and plans and notes in multicolored pen, and hanging them all around your flat for yourself to find later on in the week. To do lists are always kinder when written on a Sunday.
They are also for music. For songs that make you feel like home, for songs where the bass hits your spine and makes you jump on the sofa, for songs that make you sing so loud the neighbors might come knocking.
Sundays are for catching up. All the things you couldn’t do during the weekend, Sundays are ready to pick up the slack. Sundays see buttons sown back on shirts left waiting, missed reading done and laundry finished, folded and put into neat piles. Sundays see bedsheets changed and floors hoovered and books picked up that have been discarded for too long.
Sundays have got time for walks. For dressing up warm and holding hands, for finding places you’ve never seen and exploring areas you know and love.
They are for rosy cheeks and chilly noses, and blowing on your fingers to keep them warm.

And at the end of warm Sundays you get the lazy Sunday evenings. Sunday evenings are clean sheets and fresh pajamas and curling up in bed with your favourite podcast. They are your bag ready to be packed for uni tomorrow, fairy lights taped to the wall behind your bed and lavender candles lit on the dresser. Lazy Sunday evenings are gratitude for the week that has passed and anticipation for the week to come. They are for that last cup of tea, for face masks and aloe vera moisturizer and skype calls with your sister.

Lazy Sundays evenings are a good night’s sleep, and wishing a new week welcome.

-Andrea

Journal #11

I woke up with the sun today, a thing that practically never happens. At 7:28am I was on the bus to town, now it’s 8:58pm and I’m on my way back. On the way home, to my little house, filled with my teacups and my pyjamas and all my books neatly shelved.

Today’s been a long day, in the best possible way. I worked with a lot of girls today, all between the age of 8 and 11, who all have the ability and the imagination to change the world. The wonder in their fingertips, and the wit in their questions, cannot be described as anything less than bravery. They were so loud. They were shouting and they laughed, they ran in circles. I wonder when we stop doing that.

I’l started reading Harvey’s almost finished novella today, too. A couple of pages in now, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt; it’s a good one. It’s got the language, the characters and the melody in the text, that’s just so intrinsically him. I’m proud of him and what he’s doing, and I hope he is too. Can’t wait to see him again.

I’ve been on the bus for 6 minutes now, and we’re crossing the bridge. I don’t know when it started, but whenever we cross this one particular bridge I have to stop whatever I’m doing, I need to look up and take in the sea. Maybe it’s a homesick thing, longing for the fjord back home. Like feeling homesick, but without the sadness.

Today’s been a long day and this journal is a ramble, as you’ve already recognised. There’s been a lot of people, a lot of thoughts, a lot of ideas and a lot of impulses, and I figured a journal post could function as a place to compartmentalise it all, to work it through in my head.

Yeah, there’s been a lot of people today. First all the kids, then dinner with friends from the course, then litter picking along the beaches and some film watching with this environmental organisation in the evening. These last few weeks have been filled with a lot of people. Lucky me, though, I’ve got to meet the most wonderful people down here. Clever, intelligent, funny and caring friends, who I can’t wait to get to know even better.

I woke up with the sun today, and will go to bed long past it setting. I’m heading home to my teacups, my pyjamas, my books neatly shelved, to finish up the last piece of an assignment. First though, a cup of tea is needed; a moment to ponder over all the good things life has thrown at me lately. There has been a lot of them.

-Andrea

Journal #10

Written 14th of August 2018.

It’s close to ten on a Tuesday morning and this week has already lasted a lifetime. Not a bad kind of lifetime, yesterday was just a day full of information, impulses and experiences, of new beginnings and new people. I moved into the new flat on Sunday, and then uni started yesterday. Lots of awkwardly shaking hands before we got a bit more comfortable with our course mates, and what started off as a guided tour around campus where only the guide did the talking, soon became us chattering excitedly over a couple of beers later last night. We sought refuge in a tent, huddled in jumpers, while Cezinando played on the stage a hundred meters away and the sun was setting behind us. 

I’ve gotten the buses down in this new place now. I know that wherever I am in this city, the M2 is always 20 minutes away, taking me either to uni or back home. I’ve figured out where the food shops are around the area I live in, and I’ve gotten lost on some new street corners. Only for a couple of minutes, of course, I did quickly find my way back, but you know, it wouldn’t be “Andrea Moves Into A New City” without getting a bit lost on the way to the shops once or twice. 

The flat is wonderful. A fully furnished, proper retro piece straight out of the 70s. I’m renting it from some lovely people who only live here a couple of months every year, and it has a vibe of instant cosiness the minute you step in the door. I really lucked out on this one, I’m aware, but after living in rather noisy uni halls for three years, having a kitchen all to myself and knowing that the only noise I’ll hear is my own, is such a blessing. It’s also nice to be able to move from room to room; to eat at a kitchen table, relax in a living room, do work at a desk, and sleep in my bedroom, not having to cram everything into my tiny bed like I had to do in halls. I know living small in tiny shared spaces is the student experience, and I am glad I got to experience that for three years, but having this space and the feeling of solitude it brings with it, is absolutely wonderful. Also, not going to lie, I’m a little bit done with sharing a kitchen with nine other freshers. 

It’s almost ten on a Tuesday morning, and here I am. Still chilling under the duvet, in a room brightly lit by a nice window that I can keep open at night because of how quiet this neighbourhood is. Harvey is here too. He’s been wonderful to have around, what with the wedding and the moving and now getting started at a new uni. A constant, something safe.
I don’t have lectures today, so instead, I’m ticking things off my newly started checklist, and I’ve made a cup of tea. In a minute I’ll get up, shower, have some breakfast and totter around a flat that I’m not sharing with nine first-year students. Then I’ll get on a bus I’ve gotten familiar with and drive a really pretty route to the uni. I’ll meet nice people, figure out some more practics of this academic year, and later tonight, head to another party to keep getting to know people.

Life’s pretty good today and I have a feeling it’ll stay that way for a while.

-Andrea

Journal #9

I’ve always been a big fan of planning. I get my bus tickets in advance and show up at the airport three hours early. Making sure you’ve planned your journey well ensures that you won’t get stuck on any small, nameless bus stations, and it helps you be prepared for whatever you’ll encounter on the way. Plans also provide you with a great opportunity and a reason to be excited! Looking forward to something is half the fun of it, and intricate planning means you can prolong the joy for however long it takes you to plan.

Before I started uni in Winchester I wanted to be at the metaphorical airport which was my higher education, early. I started planning my degree abroad two years prior to my first year, and spent all of August 2013 to September 2015 looking up Winchester online and in travel books. I read about the uni and the course and my future lecturers, and I got books I knew people had used on the course in earlier years. I also got in contact with a couple of current students at the uni, who were oh so kind and guided me through my chaotic worries and confused thoughts. They answered all my questions, anything from ATMs to walking distance-grocery stores. All information I could gather was neatly penned into a small blue notebook with pink sprayed edges; my “Winchester Departure Bible”.

Come September 2015, I was prepared for departure. I had written packing lists for months, I knew exactly what flat I was moving into and who were moving in with me, I had prepaid tickets for multiple events all throughout freshers week. The airport found me early, a little scared, a little stressed, but mostly so excited and very well-prepared. At least, as prepared as you can be to move to a different country.

Fast forward to 26th of July 2018. I survived the Winchester adventure, and now I’ve got a Creative Writing BA(Hons) in my pocket. Winchester was scary, challenging, wonderful and confusing, and an experience I’ll take with me forever. In 17 days, however, I’ll be in a new city, in a temporary flat, nervous and jittery for my first day of a new BA. A new three years of studies, new people, a new uni. And I’m so excited. I applied for this BA in February, but after a lot of thinking, decided to not go for it if I got accepted. Instead I made plans for temporary solutions, job applications, volunteer work, making money, saving money. However, when the results came through I couldn’t get the feeling of needing to at least give it a try out of my head.

This might be my opportunity to rid myself of this extreme planner inside of me; maybe this is the time I learn that every change that happens in my life can’t be planned three years in advance, that I can show up at the airport with only two hours to spare. And if I can’t get rid of the planner, maybe I can make her take a little break for time to time. I’m starting a BA called Translation and Intercultural Comunications and a lot of the modules are subjects I’ve never tried my hands on before; I’m going in more or less blind. I feel unprepared, but so ready. I’ll get lost on the first day, I might get the wrong books or hold the map the wrong way around. But there’s nothing I can do that can’t be fixed, I’ve just got to jump in the deep end and see what happens this time. I’m nervous, but it’s a good nervous that’ll lead to loads of change, growth and personal development. Hopefully.

17 days until there’s new ground under my feet.

Bring on three new years. Bring on not being as prepared as I’m used to. Bring on a new adventure. I think I might be ready.

-Andrea

Journal #8

Shakespeare wrote about a Midsummer night’s dream, and on June 23rd (in Norway, at least) we celebrate midsummer night’s eve. Not the longest day of the year as I’ve always believed, but one day past the sun turning; when the night is one minute longer than it was the day before. We celebrated yesterday the same way we’ve always done, and I spent the day pondering how traditions stay the same, how we appreciate the things we’ve always done; my own midsummer night’s dream.

I dream of what I’ve always seen on an evening like this, of bonfires and burnt popcorn, of dogs off their leads and children learning to swim. I dream of grey haired locals playing saxophone from the back of a truck and gulls swooping down to peck at waffle crumbs left on the ground. I dream of shoes put away to dip our feet in the water and the taste in your mouth of knowing that you have all of summer in front of you, endless possibilities for tan lines and sun burns and morning teas on the veranda. I dream of post cards sent and letters received, breakfasts with the ones I love and skype calls with the ones I miss. My midsummer night’s dream is of those nights that never end; when you bring blankets and lanterns and candle light out into the garden, to watch sun sets and sun rise, when you watch the bats soar and smell the jasmine flowers, when life is floating and there is nowhere you need to be.

Midsummer’s night is a night when you remind yourself of how strong nature’s forces are, that we’re all part of nature, and in later years, that we can’t control it no matter how hard we try. On midsummer night’s eve we gather our families and celebrate that we’re out of the cold winter months and that we’ve got all of summer ahead of us. We sing songs passed down to remember that those we have lost are always with us, in the wind and the trees and the stars.
It’s a day where you pick wildflowers and put them under your pillow and where you’re grateful for what you have, what you’ve lost and what you’ve yet to gain.

We are a family of four, and my favourite time of all, is all of us together around the table outside. Yesterday, we sat there for the better part of three hours. There was tea, there were blankets being shared, words floating through the air. There is nothing you can’t talk about when it’s past midnight and it’s warm enough to never go to bed.
My midsummer night’s dream is a wish for many more eternal light like this one.

-Andrea

Journal #7

Norwegian translation below the picture x 

The house is quiet. I let my eyes follow specks of dust dancing lazily in the sun and I’ve got my hands around an elephant mug filled to the brim with blueberry tea. The steam swirling out of the mug paints roses in the air. I’ve never liked waking up early, but I’ve always loved being awake, morning’s early hours; the silence before anyone else wakes up. It’s just my book and me and the soft and distant whirr of the world outside. I think about the people I miss as I let my fingers play with the steam. As the steam looks like dragon’s breath, I think about all the people I haven’t met yet, and I think about the places I want to go, the things I want to write, as the steam slowly settles down. I also think about how many different “me”s there are, and that since I rarely get up this early, this “me” isn’t one I get to explore a lot. It’s like the rest of the world isn’t existing yet, in my little hour of the morning. Soon there will be breakfast and chatter and the people I care about, and I can’t wait. But right now it’s just me. I’m just here. It’s gonna be a good day.

IMG_0022.JPG

Det er stille i huset. Jeg lar øynene følge støvet som danser i late solstråler, mens jeg har hendene rundt en kopp breddfull av blåbær-te. Dampen leker, maler roser i lufta. Jeg har aldri likt å stå opp  tidlig, men det å være våken tidlig, det setter jeg pris på. Jeg elsker morgentimene, stillheten før noen andre våkner. Det er bare boka mi og jeg nå, og den myke, men fjerne, lyden av verden utafor. Jeg tenker på de jeg savner mens jeg lar fingrene spille igjennom dampen. Mens dampen snor seg som varm pust i kuldegrader, tenker jeg på alle de jeg ikke har møtt enda og jeg tenker på alle steder jeg vil se, alt jeg vil skrive, når dampen endelig legger seg. Jeg tenker også på alle de forskjellige “meg”ene som finnes, og siden jeg sjelden er oppe så tidlig som dette, er dette en “meg” jeg ikke opplever særlig ofte. Det er som om verden ikke er til ennå, i denne lille timen jeg sitter her. Snart blir det frokost og småsnakk og de jeg bryr meg mest om i hele verden, og jeg gleder meg. Men akkurat nå er det bare meg. Jeg er bare her. Dette blir en god dag.

-Andrea

17th of May

img_1568

Not really a writing or book related post, but yesterday was the 17th of May, Norway’s Constitution Day. I celebrated the day in London, my first time ever not celebrating it at home with my family, and it felt weird not being enveloped in old traditions and places that stay the same. It turned out to be such a great day, though, Cathy came along, and it was so much fun being able to “show” off the traditions I’ve grown up with, if on a smaller scale. Beautiful bunads, marching band songs, flower crowns and Norwegian flags as far as the eye could see.

img_1582

There was a parade, speeches, lots of music, waffles, ice cream and food. All the things you need to really make the 17th of May the day it is.

img_1561
There is something I really like about the fact that on one day every year, the entire population of Norway, both at home and abroad, put on their nicest clothes and meet their family, only to eat ice cream and play games all day.

img_1608

The focus of the day and what many of the speeches were about, was belonging. How we as people always belong somewhere, how hopefully everyone feel at home in a group, be it their nationality, their faith, a community. What really hit me, though, was when the Minister of Culture said that “Belonging somewhere doesn’t mean that that has to be the only place you ever feel at home; we can all belong in multiple societies, we can all belong in different home countries.” Right now, as I’m kind of in the process of coming to terms with leaving England after these three years, that felt oddly comforting. I keep saying I’m leaving England behind, but I’m not really, am I. England’s still gonna be here, the friends I made along the way will still be here, it will just have to be the sowing grounds for new memories, new experiences, new challenges and victories.
Aha, didn’t think a day all about eating ice cream could get so deep, did you!

img_1589
Celebrating with Cathy was also so much fun; she waved her new Norwegian flag higher than anyone, and marched in the parade with newfound vigour. I showed her Norwegian waffles (Sjømannskirkens Vafler) and we had Solo, the Norwegian equivalent of Fanta. I’m well aware of my Solo-bias, but it’s actually a lot better than Fanta, haha.
Then we had some 17th of May Fish and Chips, which is one hundred percent not traditional 17th of May Food, but they put a little Norwegian flag on it and we ate while listening to happy people chatter, watching bunads walk past, and seeing all the kids play games; sack races, potato racing and quoits.

img_1602

A day I felt a bit anxious about going into, because of the weight of the traditions I’m used to and not being able to be a part of them, turned into an absolute fairytale and a memory I’ll take with me forever.

img_1632
(Have a Cathy marching towards the Winchester-bound train, post ice cream and festivities)

Gratulerer med gårsdagen, alle sammen, and Happy Birthday, Norway.

-Andrea