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!
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.
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
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
I am attempting NaNoWriMo this November! I’ve got 20 865 words, which is a bit behind schedule, but as I’m doing it at the same time as I’m preparing for my exams and as I’ve got work, I’m quite proud of those almost 21 000 words. I don’t think I’ll reach 50 000 words, but my goal is to at least cross the 30 000 mark. My story is a fantasy, magical realism-esque narrative about Mira – a young girl who is part of a circus that appears at dusk and leaves before sunrise. No one has ever seen the circus travel in closed off carriages across dusty cobblestones, it appears like magic, exactly where it’s needed every night. All the coincidental bystanders can remember of the purple tents and the silver eyes looking at them from the various booths and stalls, and through their own dreams and illusions, is a carnival appearing on the rooftops of the grey and dusty city.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any sort of prose-form creative writing on this blog, so here’s the first few paragraphs of the draft I’m working on for Nano!
The Cinerous Circus
No one had ever seen the Circus travel, not even the crew that travelled with it. Mid-movement, mid-laugh, and sometimes even mid-sleep, the crew of the Cinerous Circus would feel that little tingle in their fingers, that smoke-like sensation of having themselves dissolved into the powers of the Circus as she decided on a new route, a new destination, a new home for the night.
Stood by the foot of her bed, arm raised towards the book case on the wall, as if she had just been interrupted in putting back a book, Mira came to. Her fingers were still curled around a paper spine, but the book was on the floor. She shook her head for a moment, before letting her hands quickly pat their way down her front. Arms, legs, coat. She had everything she needed. Good.
She reached a hand into the soft, worn lining of her dark grey and purple coat. Her hand came back up clutching a card. The back of the card was adorned by green sprigs of ivy that seemed to be alive, moving, wrapping around themselves, accompanied by a spatter of stars, gathered in unfamiliar constellations.
She looked at the card. A lone figure slinking away from peering eyes, away from crowds with their backs turned on her. Seven of swords. Thief? The feeling of being watched came over her and made the hairs on her arms stand on edge.
“A girl is quickly flitting through an unfamiliar street. She has stolen something which belongs to her. She has stolen something which has been hers all along.”
Mira’s tarot readings always read like stories in her head. She simply opened her mind and let the stories find her, let them linger in that space between her consciousness and her memories, that space she was starting to realize that not that many people could reach for. This reading made no sense. This was a new city, a new rooftop –- why on earth did she see stories of thieves stealing what was already theirs? Why would thieves steal what was already theirs in the first place?
She turned to look over at her mother’s bed. She was there, black and blue hair shining in the light from the bulb hanging on a single string in the ceiling. It was a shy little light source, with a black cast iron frame. It looked heavy, but Mira knew it wasn’t. A lot of her mother’s possessions looked like something they weren’t. A lot of Circus looked like something it wasn’t.
Her mother was just coming to. She was sat on her bed, hands neatly clasped and placed in her lap, like she’d done this a thousand times before. She had done this a thousand times before. So had Mira, to be fair, but the excitement of waking back up without having the faintest idea of what would make itself visible to her outside of their little tent, always made her too excited to be as calm as her mother.
Mira chewed her lip for a moment. The card she had just drawn dampened her excitement a bit, but she was determined not to let it worry her too much. Maybe just a little bit.
She went to the slit in the tent, the make-shift door that could be drawn. It hushed all the sounds from the outside world better than any wooden door ever could, and any fabric door ever should.
Oftentimes, all she could see were chimneys and rooftop ladders and maybe the odd, very tall, tree. Other times she saw birds and clouds passing in quick formations. But sometimes, oh, the very best of times, she could see other houses. She could see windows, or bridges or clock towers with clocks just striking midnight.
“What can you see out there?” her mother asked. Mira put the card to the back of her mind, banished it to thoughts she were to think tomorrow and focused on what she could see. This was their game. Her mother stayed seated on the bed as Mira slowly pulled the tent slit open, just enough to have a peak outside. She looked out at the town.
“I can see a chimney,” Mira told her mother, who closed her eyes and nodded. Mira could see her left-hand raise and start to move in the air in front of her. “And I can see birds, but they’re not awake, they’re lying on their nests.” Her mother nodded again, hand still moving. She was sketching, her parchment was the thin air and she had no ink or quill or anything to set a mark. But her lines still appeared. Curved lines through the air, drawing up small grey birds that came alive under her hands.
“Tell me about the stars,” her mother
said. Mira peered further out through the slit in the tent and looked up.
“There is a great big one right above us,” Mira said, “and it’s surrounded by three others that makes it look like the stars have gathered for tea. They’re flickering, like they’re dancing.” Her mother nodded, her hands never stilling. The buildings and the roof tops and the chimneys, all existing in grey lines, like the outline of a shadow or the seams of a smoke ring. Mira looked back in through the tent door, watching her mother’s hands. She always struggled with looking away when her mother drew up her images. But she knew they weren’t for her, and so she looked back at the town.
“Oh,” Mira exclaimed, “I can see a
tower! A big tower.”
“Does this one have a clock in it
too?” her mother asked. The last town they’d been in had had a tower with a
clock in it, but the hands of that clock had been as asleep as only a clock can
be in a town of mourning. Mira nodded her head. Her mother hadn’t opened her
eyes yet, but she noticed the nod. Maybe she heard it. Mira had always been
sure that her mother never looked with her eyes anyway.
“And is it about to strike twelve?” her
mother lifted her hands in the air, putting them behind the image she’d made,
framing it, protecting it, making it clearer to see against the colour of her
hands, instead of the backdrop of her dress.
Mira nodded and turned back so her head was inside the tent again, and in that second, the big bell rung. Mira’s mother was prepared, and in a swift move, she pushed her hands in front of her. She pushed the smoke line drawing away.
It kept its shape, and it was as if the
grey birds flew past Mira in a little flock, like the bell tower floated past
her on invisible wings. Mira loved this part of arriving at a new place.
She loved to see how her mother always managed to draw up the perfect rendition of any new town, before sending it on its way, grey feathers floating through the air. Mira never knew where she sent it, but she could only hope it drifted on its way before hitting some poor passer-by over the head.
“Nothing’s ever so good you shouldn’t let it go,” her mother said. She always said that, timed like clockwork.
Then her mother walked over and joined her by the tent flap which was partially opened. She put a hand on either side of the curtain, and with a move of her arms that straightened them all the way out, she flung the curtain open wide.
«A new night, little bird,» she said to Mira, as she looked out at the familiar Circus on an unfamiliar rooftop, «a new place.»
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Or have you done it before? How’s it going?
Okay, I promise I won’t start this post with “how has October come and gone already, this year is flying by so fast!” but I guess, by saying I won’t, I allowed myself to do it anyway. October’s been a strange and busy month, with lots of traveling, a lot of assignments and uni work and thankfully, some wonderful moments with good friends. The weather has also made it perfectly clear that we’re reaching the last months of the year now, as the winter coat has been dusted off and there are no valid reasons to not put on mittens and a hat before leaving the house. Secretly, I’m really here for it.
October has brought along:
Two trips back and forth between home-home and uni-home
My mum’s birthday and thus a lot of cake, lovely food and family time
Some wonderful bonding time with my little nephew
Oliver’s baptism – which was a fairytale in itself
A lovely trip to the place my sister’s husband is from and getting to know his family better
Learning a new craft! (It’s called Hardangersøm, a type of traditional Norwegian embroidery, and I love it!)
A lot of beautiful concert experiences at The Church Music Festival in the Cathedral
A lot of studying, assignment work and exam revision
Some very productive study sessions with Trine, plus a lovely weekend with her lovely family
Halloween spent binging Netflix-shows and eating all the sweets that no children came to collect