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

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“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

When your childhood stops by for a minute

When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the shape of a sudden new book in a series who shaped you at 14 years of age, you run to the mail box. You run in your red wellies and your pyjamas, with sleep still misting up the corners of your eyes.

When you open the book for the first time, you’re going to be 14 again, clawing at the covers of what you thought was the end of the story. When you turn the title page, sat on a chair in your student flat-kitchen, you’re going to be transported back to that holiday when you were 10, that time you almost didn’t get in the pool because the story had you more captivated than chlorine water ever could. When you run your fingers along the pristine pages, the shining dust jacket and the black silk bookmark, you’ll remember the feeling of the tattered covers of books reread, of books well-loved, in your 12-year-old hands.

When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the form of a book you thought you’d never read, you put aside linguistic terms and phonetic theory, to dip into this world that welcomes you back, with cloaks and scrolls and fairytales.

When your childhood stops by for a minute, you stop too. You make a cup of tea, you put on some cosy socks.

And just like that, the story never ended.

So, context time! I loved this book series called Phenomena, by Ruben Eliassen, when I was a kid. The first book of the series came out in 2006 and the last in 2011, and these stories were important companions that proper helped shape my reading journey as a child and teen.

Through crowdfunding, the author has now published a new book; one that can either be seen as a finale to the old series, or a new beginning to what happened next in this story. Whether a final bow or an opening number, I’m so so so excited to get into this book, and I can’t wait for a deep dive back into that part of my childhood were the skies in the books were as real as the ones above my head.

Here we go.

-Andrea

WWW Wednesday, 5/12-18, Some Christmas reading?

And so it is time for Christmas music, lanterns and candles, and the annual return of the Grinch pyjama trousers!
This WWW Wednesday isn’t all that Christmassy, except from one book, just because I’m really bad at reading Christmas books! This time of year I always want to be like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, where she says she reads Pride and Prejudice every Christmas, but I guess I still just haven’t found my Christmas book yet. (Okay, this is a lot of Christmas)

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However, I’ve been reading other things these past few weeks.
WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading
Snøsøsteren by Maja Lunde and Lisa Aisatio

This book is something different. It’s a story that makes you feel all the big things, by showing you the small, if that makes sense? It’s about a boy who’s lost his sister and is worried that Christmas will forever be cancelled now, but then he meets a new friend who apparently will show him that grief and mourning and rejoicing over things like Christmas candles and hot chocolate with whipped cream isn’t mutually exclusive.

I haven’t gotten very far into it, because it’s like an advent calendar in a book; 24 small chapters, “a Christmas story in 24 parts that creates the magic Christmas feeling so familiar from the works of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and H.C. Andersen’s works.” 24 parts that will make up one wonderful story just in time for Christmas Eve. Also, the illustrations are gorgeous and done by one of my favourite illustrators, Lisa Aisato. You should definitely check out her work!

Blurb (translated):
Christmas Eve is coming up, a day that’s also Julian’s birthday. Usually, this is the best day of the year, when the Christmas tree is decorated and the candles lit, the air filled with the scent of clementines and gingerbread, and the fire in the fireplace is crackling contentedly. But this year, nothing is as it should be. Julian and his family are carrying a sorrow in their hearts after their sister Juni died, and Julian can’t help but think that Christmas is cancelled.
Then one day, Julian meets Hedvig, who reminds him how lovely Christmas can be, and Julian starts wondering if maybe it can be Christmas after all?

Just finished
Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Oh, this book’s got me in a mood! I really wanted to love it, but it felt like it was just trying to do too much, and I struggled to get to the end. It’s supposed to be a sci-fi “space opera” sort of love story, but the fantasy elements are so well-written in it that the sci-fi feels a little bit out of place. The characters, the dialogue and the setting all feel like epic fairytale settings and I kind of wished that the author would have stuck with that. It also felt like it ended quite abruptly, while the start dragged on for a while.
Still, it is a really good book. The story is interesting, the world-building intense and so detailed, and the idea of someone acting as a body double to the monarch, and what playing the role as someone’s duplicate might do to a person, is really interesting. The relationships between the characters are also well-written, I loved the shifts in the dialogue between Maram and Amani, and the moments between Amani and Idris.

Blurb: 
The crown of Dhiya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

Next, I’ll be reading:
The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Giving this another go!
I got this book for Christmas in 2016, and so many people have told me it’s their favourite book ever. I’ve started it a couple times, but something’s always gotten in the way of getting further in than a chapter or two, but not this time!

Blurb:
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.

Do you have any books you have to read the second December starts? Any Christmassy reading traditions or recommendations? Please drop me a comment!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“First snow”

My garden’s been eaten by fresh bedsheets of snow,
it’s covering every inch of grass,
blanketing the city,
hushing it,
making it move a little slower than normal.
Winter tires, snow boots, layers of scarves to keep out the chill.
“It rarely snows like it used to,”
we say most winters, and we solemnly nod,
“global warming and the environment and all that.”
But for now, the sky is glittering,
with a million frozen dancers
who twirl and curtsy
like they did in the old days,
to an orchestra only they can hear.

-Andrea

 

Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
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What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-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