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

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“Strawberry Breath”

I am not a song writer, but I appreciate the ease with which well-written lyrics can fall off your tongue. During the second year of my creative writing degree, I got to experiment with a module that focused on song writing, and while not strictly my “thing”, I did really enjoy it.

This song was written in 2017, as part of that module, to the melody of First Day of My Life  by Bright Eyes. It is supposed to illustrate all the small things that make up your perception of someone you love, all the small things you never thought of as special until you started associating them with your person. It is also about how even though a relationship may start off all exciting, like “fireworks and circus nights”, the safety and the comfort of the years may shape it into “October stars and Saturdays, and peppermint and quiet snow”, a quiet sort of every-day love.

Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay

“Strawberry Breath”

Verse:
This is a story about a boy,
Who wished on cardamom and tea cups.
He wondered the world without a map
smelled like the city,
danced like rain.

I got to hold him for one night,
Strawberry breath and chilli chocolate.
Thought I knew how to give him everything,
Now I know
I don’t know what that is.

Chorus:
But I have learnt that I was wrong.
You’re not the fireworks and circus shows
I made you up as, no.
You are October stars and Saturdays
And peppermint
And quiet snow
oh oh. 

Verse:
If I could hold you one more time,
I want to hear all of your stories.
About rhubarb and sugar and blueberry jam
And how it came to become you.    

Talk about silver in your hair,
And promises both held and broken.
about choices and beauty and bitterness,
and how we will grow old one day.

Chorus 2:
I don’t want fireworks and circus nights,
But blankets, slippers, plastic glasses,
pillow forts and snowball fights.
You are October stars and Saturdays
and knowing it will be alright.

Oh oh oh. 

A fun little experiment, where I tried my hands at something I very rarely do.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
-Andrea

There goes the month of Maying (A little bit late, but oh well)

May is my favourite month, and yesterday she threw her picnic blanket over her shoulders like a cape, filled up her little water bottle with raspberry squash, and off she went. Until next year.

This year, May brough with her:

  • The most intense exam period I’ve ever experienced
  • New and exciting opportunities
  • A lot of sun
  • Maybe even more rain
  • A new favourite cafe
  • Dara O’Brien live at Kilden
  • Norway’s national day
  • Green, green grass
  • A lot of take out dinners
  • Proper getting into my new job
  • Many a bus fare
  • My birthday!
  • Good friends and even better laughs

-Andrea

16 to 23 and everything inbetween

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

I’m turning 23 and I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. I’m aware it won’t mean that I’ll wake up taller, wiser or more confident. I know your birthday is just a symbolic notion and that what helps you grow are all the days in between. However, like with New Year’s Resolutions, maybe birthdays can function as a day of reflection, a definite marker of another year passing. Not for everyone and not for the world, but in your very own timeline. What have you learnt since your last birthday? What have you figured out? What new people have you met, and what new paths have you travelled down?

To “celebrate” that today is my last day as 22, I’m posting this little video. It is a poem I wrote for the OctPoWriMo challenge, last year, about all the things I’d love to tell myself at 16. In the original post I wrote “this took a long time to get right, but I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much.”

Filmed in my bed, with a comfy shirt on and a cup of tea waiting. It felt fitting to post this on my last day of being 22, as a symbol of all the things I’ve finally figured out, and of all the things I’ve yet to learn.

Here’s to making the next year a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

Journal #16, Reconnecting with a language

It’s a Sunday morning, and I’m in bed with a cup of tea.

My Norwegian Language and Text book is laying discarded on the floor. I’ll pick it up in a moment, I think, I just need to sit here a little longer. Slowly, tired hands reach for all the notions I take for granted when I speak, notions I’ve now worked to put names and categories and theories to.

Learning the in depth grammar of your own language is a strange experience. Suddenly you start to question the syntactic structure of every sentence before it leaves your lips. No words are uttered without scrutinising and analysing their semantic meaning, and you start to think about the oddities of the language you grew up with.

One part of me isn’t too sure about all this “thinking”. It wants to keep the intuition of language alive, wants me to not think too hard about anything, really. Another part of me loves it. It feels like mindfullness, like I don’t take any words for granted any more, like I’m actively appreciating every sentence.

Cliched and a little pompous, I know. But for the last 5 years, I’ve been so caught up in “perfecting” my English, so adamant to drop my accent, to never have to stop to look for the right words, that I feel like I’ve neglected Norwegian a bit. Like I’ve shoved her to the back of my mind, given her a ragged blanket and said “I’ll be back for you in a second,” only to forget about her as her tea has gone cold. But now, as I’m revising for this last exam of this degree’s first year, I’m gently untangling the cobwebs from her hair. I’m taking the cup from her hands, refilling it with piping hot tea, and giving her blanket a good airing out.

Norwegian is the language in which my grandmothers sang me lullabies, and my parents wished me luck before every first day of school. I wrote my first stories in her, and read my first books. When something shiny and new came along, I neglected her for a while, thinking this new language was so much prettier, much more interesting and useful, but studying the science behind how she works as a language, has really made me appreciate her again.

The last couple of weeks have been intense, stressful and honestly really nice. The study group have gotten together to exam-revise, and we’ve made sense of a lot of confusion. We’ve read, we’ve asked questions, we’ve done our best. Copious amounts of tea have been consumed, we’ve bickered and gotten frustrated, but we’ve also left with more questions answered than asked. Throughout this year together, we’ve taken on British and American politics, international communication, English language history, a lot of in depth grammar and linguistics; all things we knew embarrassingly little about before starting this course. Now we know a lot and I’m proud of us.

And so when I take my Norwegian exam tomorrow, I may stumble over some questions, because Norwegian is a stubborn language, and with her tongue stuck out, I think she wants to get back at me for leaving her in her corner for so long. I may mess up some verb forms, some tempus and modus-conjugation, maybe confuse “konjunktiv” for “indikativ” or something else with a complicated name. But that’s okay, cause I’ve finally caught up with my language again, and from now on, I’ll make sure we won’t grow apart.

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

“I think I built you”

I think I built you, formed you and designed you,
drew you with green sharpie and the bricks of my pillow fort,
sculpted you from cheap coffee and H&M basics,
moulded you from a year’s worth of lazy Wednesday mornings,
desperate for something to be mine.

-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