Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pompeii

IMG-20121229-02557.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121229-02557.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Yesterday in Pompeii. The weather was gorgeous, breezy, cool, crisp. Clear views of the mountains all around. (Vesuvius not in this picture, it's to the left of this view.) Pompeii is huge and impressive, even if a lot of the villas and sites are closed off (at least half!) Which is a bit disappointing. Still you feel the 2000 year old city's heartbeat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ancient art, because I'm classy (2000 year old porn!)

IMG-20121228-02532.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121228-02532.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Because I am ALL about the fine ancient art. I'm classy like that.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chariot ruts in Pompeii

IMG-20121227-02521.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121227-02521.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Note chariot wheel ruts in road. That stone is very hard, so those ruts took a long time to make!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Memento Mori

IMG-20121226-02511.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121226-02511.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Memento mori.

Christmas in Rome

IMG-20121226-02503.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121226-02503.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

The churches in Rome are so huge, elaborate, baroque. I find myself drawn to the simple, quiet spaces where light and form, symmetry and peace, prevail. I have seen a lot of churches this week.

Merry Christmas one and all from Rome!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lutefisk burger (not)

IMG-20121222-02460.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121222-02460.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

A humorous Burger King advertisement on the street outside our flat. Made me giggle. I will miss that quiet sense that Norwegians make fun of themselves, too, just in more subtle ways than we do in the US.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

hard

People keep coming by my office to say bye and they all hug me and then we cry.

This leaving thing ain't for sissies. I have boys AND girls crying at me.

I should've said my last day was Monday and then just not come in....

Damn I am gonna miss these folks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

They sang to me, at my leaving party

Half the office sang to me, to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 15 or 20 people, all standing in a circle, singing, to me. (I blubbed). (And laughed) (and then I had to give a speech, which I hate doing, and saying goodbye also is painful, so it was a blub fest all around).

The song:


Karla the big haired Texan



There’ve been Germans and British, a wig fan from Sweden

Canucks and some Russians you’d best be believin’

But who will we recall as the most memorable import of all…



Karla the big haired Texan

Has some fancy sittin’ shoes

And if you ever tried them

Your toes would be all black and blue



For all of her  bosses

She’s always done her job with flair

Though while she works her magic

Her swearing might just curl your hair!



Now so near to Christmas Eve, we’ve all come to say

Karla with your hair so high

Let’s raise a glass before you fly



Though times are now a changin’

And you’re off for the new company

Karla the big haired Texan

Good luck from your office family!


I am going to miss these people, oh so much.

Monday, December 17, 2012

also, ew

Someone found my blog by googling 'dental bdsm'.

EW.

Last Monday

It was wierd getting up this morning to realize it was my last Monday to come into the office here in Norway. That knowledge, unfortunately, did not make it easier to get up. In fact, it might have made it harder. I mean, the weather is CRAP, the snow is all slushy because it started raining on Sunday, turning all that lovely white snow into slush and mud and ice. Walking is treacherous. (To add to the 'things I won't miss about Norway' list.) It's dark and grey and has felt like twilight all day. Right now, I am looking forward to a little sweat in Texas. Sweat and the possibility of not falling on my ass at every turn.

I also had another thought last night, one of many as I tossed and turned and tried to not fret. (Obviously I failed in that one.)

I am going to be staying in a temporary apartment for a few months in Houston. Rich will be finalizing things here. I will be learning the new job and relearning how to live in Texas. It will also be the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE that I have lived alone. (BTW, stalkers, it's a controlled entry apartment and no I am not telling where it is.) But seriously, my entire life has been a series of living with someone. Either my parents, or college roommates, or Rich.

I've never lived alone. Not once.

It will be so strange (and maybe also, exciting?) to actually move into a space that is all mine, mine alone, to set up and mess up as I please, answerable to no one. I can clean it or not, cook for just me, throw my shoes in every corner, slob out if I want, and have it be a space that is only mine. The remote control will remain in my hand and my hand only. I get ALLLLL the closet space! I've never had that!

Course I also guess that means no one to talk to, no one to reach that high thing on the shelf, no one to fight over the morning paper with, and no one to scrub my back while I am in the tub.

I wonder if I will like it or hate it? I honestly don't know. Seems wierd to think I have never lived alone. Feels very..old fashioned, somehow. I met Rich when I was very young and went straight from having a college roommate to living with him.

Hmm. Interesting. Well there's a gym and a pool at the complex so I can use my lonely time to work out instead of cook big dinner meals. Though I suspect I will be putting in some long hours, so I don't think there will be much cooking.

SUSHI time!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Duvet day

I decided that today I deserved a duvet day. My schedule has been mayhem, and there are about a million things I should be doing that I didn't get time to do this week, but, instead, I am still in my jammies (still being a tease as it's 7:30 pm and 'still' suggests that I may yet change out of them, which we all know I won't), in bed, watching Season 2 of Mad Men (having finished Season 1) and eating chocolates. I did a load of laundry today but have yet to hang it up to dry. Hello, my name is Sloth, the laziest of sins.

It snowed very heavily yesterday and today. When I woke up this morning, even before my eyes were fully open or I had my glasses on, I could tell it was snowing by the quality of the light. It was brighter but suffuse light, kind of soft. Hard to explain to those who don't live in a place that snows (as I soon won't). The snow reflects and lightens even if the day is grey. That is why Norwegians prefer the snow, it offers a respite from the dark. I always feel like it muffles excess noise, lightens the air, somehow cleanses. Cleanses the air and the soul. I also like snow days because if they happen on a weekend, it gives you a very good excuse to not go out into it. I guess in Texas you need a good thunderstorm or a hurricane for that.

As I lazed around today, messing about on Twitter and Facebook and briefly but sadly glancing at the horrible news coming out of the States, I realized this is my last Norwegian duvet day, and one of only three Saturdays I have left as a resident in Norway, in this apartment.  In exactly three weeks I will be en route to Houston.

Part of me felt like maybe I should be more active, bustle and hustle and do busy things. But the part of me that wanted to enjoy the lazy won. I have enough time to worry later. But today is my only snowy day left in bed in God knows how long, if ever again. I think after all this hard lazing about, I might go put myself into a hot tub of fragrant bubbles and pretend like I am doing something productive. (It IS cleaning, of a sort, right?)

So let's chalk that to a thing I will miss about Norway: lazy snowy duvet days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

this

This article in the New York Times needs to become my new mantra.

I need to read it every day. Stress. Anxiety. Anxiety is nothing more than worrying about the future. Focus on the here, focus on the now.

This one Twitter dude I follow posted something the other day that really kind of helped me rethink some stuff. (Ok, ok, don't be giving me shit about finding philosophical help on Twitter, help comes in many forms.)

Anyhow, he posted:

If you're depressed, you're living in the past. If you're anxious, you're living in the future. If you're at peace, you're living in the now.

That totally has helped me. I mean, I AM depressed because I am thinking of the past and so many things I will miss and the changes I am dealing with. And I am anxious thinking forward to Houston and the new job and leaving Rich behind for so long and all that. So if I just focus on what I can do now, the future will be easier, the past, well that's done so just fucking move on already, and now is now and use it!

So thank you Twitter guy, named, humorously, @Arrogant_Twat. You actually helped out a stressed Texan!

Hey, just had another good thought about moving to Houston: Newspapers! I can get the weekend Chronicle and maybe even the NYT and have those lazy Sunday paper and coffee mornings I used to love so much. (Yeay Target Sunday circular!)

In other, random, news, I posted a bunch of furniture and stuff on the office Buy/Sell intranet page and not only did it all sell, it actually started minor bidding wars. Woo! So that is a worry lifted.

One day at a time. One minute at a time. Each moving forward and all will be well. And if it's not perfect, it's still gonna be ok.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Gussied up

IMG-20121208-02408.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121208-02408.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.


Me all gussied up for the big company formal party. My last in Norway so I went full glam.... You can see the back here.  (Note, largely backless, teehee).

I'm not even too hungover today, go me!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Apartment for rent, starting March 2013

I told my landlord I'd help find a new tenant for this fucking awesome 200 sqm apartment we are in. SERIOUS PEOPLE ONLY. Rent is below market, it includes heat, and is in a great location. It's a historical old place and wants someone who respects it as such. If you are truly interested, and have a firmaguaranti and a good tenancy record, contact me via a comment and leave your email.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/karlakp/sets/72157622051731190/

More pics at the link. It is truly a great place. I hate to give it up.

funk

I have to get out of this funk. I am having the worst problem with second guessing myself on everything to do with this move. It's making me sad, and stressed and worried and at times, even in a group of people whose company I enjoy, I just kind of mentally check out and sit there sighing. (At book club last night someone mentioned I seemed drawn and sad. Shit. It's showing.)

I HAVE TO STOP THAT.

One of the worst things about this, to be honest, is there is a very subtle double standard going on. I am not usually so outspoken about stuff like this, but I feel it. I feel like somehow I am an evil bitch for wanting to shake stuff up and try something new. When we moved here and I followed Rich, it was just understood that I, the wife, would follow and it would be ok. It is not near so simple when it's me doing the moving and the husband has to follow. We have a very comfortable, cozy, kind of boring existence in Norway at the moment. Financially we are ok, we have a lovely apartment (it's up for rent available in March btw, at below market rent, to the right responsible person and it's a doozy of a sweet pad) that I really hate to give up, nice friends, and a simple non-threatening existence. Rich seems fairly settled and secure in his job. Mine in Norway is up in the air, what with the takeover of the company, but Norwegian employment safety net laws would support me and give me certain rights with regard to any layoffs and so on. (Though we could not afford to stay here if I was not working as well.) So why the HELL am I shaking it all up?

I am actually asking myself that every minute. I mean, I know the reasons behind it. Our evenings are getting boring, our asses hit the sofa and the computers get opened and that is the evening. I am TIRED of that, to be honest. I don't want to spend another 10 years on the sofa watching Big Bang Theory reruns and going to bed early because it's dark by 4pm and I have winter SAD and I feel lonely and cut off from the world.  Norway was never going to be our permanent home, we were only to be here for 3 years, and now it's been 10, and shouldn't we cut and run while we are still kind of young and can re-establish back home? We don't have any real ties here, though the roots are deepening with friends. The job seems a good career move, there is much to learn, much to grow into, and the offer was really good, too. I know there are risks, but there are rewards too.

Fuck, I know all those reasons but it is not lessening the panic I feel about leaving. What if I get to the US and the job doesn't work out? I am left with no money, no insurance, no safety net? (I have become very Norwegian in that respect, I am literally panicking that if I lose my job or get sick I will be homeless within months like so many people I hear about on the news. AMERICA NEEDS TO GET THE HEALTH CARE THING SORTED.) What if I can't handle Houston? What if I feel so foreign I just want to run away? What if I don't like the job? What if I am there for months on my own while Rich is here trying to figure out HIS job situation? What if he doesn't have as good a job in Houston and then my guilt increases because of what he has given up for me?

And then I found this WSJ article about repatriating and the issues involved, which really rather nicely describes what I am feeling. I am sad. I am grieving. This is HARD. I am also NOT CRAZY. I am in mourning.... I can't stay here, but part of me will be left here no matter what. I just worry, which part?


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A thing I will miss about Norway: LONDON!

One of the things I am struggling with on this move back to the US is that I won't be living in Europe anymore. That I won't be a 2 hour flight from any of many world heritage historical sites, places of interest, food meccas or places where the beer is heavenly. I am half German, was raised with a European mindset in many ways, and I can't escape this feeling that by going back to Texas (and the US) I will be 'stuck' away from a culture that I understand and feel comfortable in. I am trying to remind myself of the stuff I don't like (as in right now, we are having a 'sprengkulden'- cold snap and it is SO goddamned cold) such as the rude people on public transport, crappy grocery stores, cramped spaces everywhere, and the tiresomely expensive nature of everything.
But it isn't working well, as I keep thinking I will be TRAPPED and can NEVER LEAVE Houston again. I KNOW that's not the case, but right now I just keep mourning what I am leaving as opposed to what I hope I will be gaining. Second guessing myself, worrying did I make the right decision, am I making a mistake? ARGH.

And pictures of my recent trip to the UK aren't helping. I am so going to miss being so close to London. I really, truly am. That may have been the best part of my entire 10 years in Norway, has been the opportunity to go to London so frequently and get to know the city as well as, possibly, a native. This time around I was entirely sans map and got around without any problems at all.

Panoramic interior shot  (click to embigen) of St. Bartholomew the Great.   An ancient church by Smithfield in London. You have to seek it out, it's a bit hidden, and it is well worth the visit. When I went last week it was smoky with incense from the just-finished Sunday afternoon service. Fragrant and evocative of time.



St Paul's from the Millenium Bridge. I love this entire area, have walked here literally hundreds of times, and I never ever never get tired of it.


A view of the upper floors of buildings in a street near St Paul's. In London, as in new York, it is very worthwhile to look up. There's an interesting street scene literally everywhere you look.



A panoramic shot from the Millenium Bridge. St Paul's would be around and to your left. On the right at the end of the bridge is the Tate and ahead is the new building they call the Shard. You can just pick out the Globe Theatre on the right hand bank. (Might I mention I love my Panasonic Lumix camera? It does panoramic shots with no effort on my part whatsoever but to move the camera to the right a little bit. LOVE.)


The bar at the Zetter. Such a cozy place to hang out, with a newspaper or your computer, a nice drink, a fire in the grate, and feel safe and secure while it rains outside. maybe I will someday open a bar like this in Austin. Or, screw that, I'd take the money I'd need to open the bar and just get a flat in London and go to the Zetter all the time!

I swear to myself, when I get older, if I have enough money, I *will* buy a tiny flat in London and spend part of every year there. I will. That is my life goal. And, if you know anything about me, I usually achieve my goals. (Mainly because I don't set goals that are all that high or unachievable!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

St Bartholemew's London

IMG-20121125-02362.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121125-02362.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

St Bartholemew church. Survived the Great Fire and bot world wars. 12th century.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Clerkenwell at night.

IMG-20121126-02385.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121126-02385.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

My last night in London for likely quite a while. Makes me sad. But it also renews my determination to not give up traveling and to make sure I continue to see the world.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bristol

IMG-20121123-02356.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20121123-02356.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

After two days of horrendous weather, finally a nice day. I'm in Bristol (long story).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A thing I won't miss about Norway

ACTUAL TEXT from an email I sent the guy who sits in the office next to mine today:

"Hey T---, something is really stinky in your office so I closed the door. Did you leave a hamster in your bag and forget to feed it?


Anyhow, there’s something whiffy in there. It’s the second day I smelled it, so I’m not sure what’s up. Are you at the conference?"

HIS ACTUAL RESPONSE:

"Oh!
It is the rakfisk I got from Ulf. It is basically rotten fish, but it tastes nice!!!

I suggest you just close the door today. I am in Holland, but back tomorrow."

Rotten fish in the office! I won't miss that! It smells like hell. I have a candle lit to try and ward off the stench from my office.  (This by the way, is the second time I have had this experience. I once was knocked over by the stench from one in the small fridge on our floor, where we keep snacks and milk for our coffee. I threw it away, as NORMAL people do when something smells that bad. The owner of the dead thing dug it out of the garbage and chastised me nicely for throwing away his very expensive rotten horrible smelly fish, explaining that it is a delicacy. I just couldn't believe something that stinky was allowed in the office.)

There's other stuff I won't miss about Norway, but I gotta admit, their Christmas foods are very high on the list. I am NOT a fan of traditional Norwegian Christmas dishes.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Things I will miss in Norway


In an effort to empty my brain today from the nagging stress and worry I seem to be fighting,  I went for a very long and brisk walk. It's a cold, sunny day, which is a nice change from the grey dreary rain we have been having. Everything is sparkling and bright and crisp, though muddy, but it makes for great walking weather. So I went over to Bygdøy and around there, and then along to fjord and back through Skillebek and back home. The walk was just what I needed, at least to calm me down for now. I didn't even listen to music, I just walked and walked and walked (really fast, that felt right, somehow) through forest and meadow and let my thoughts wander and go wherever my brain wanted. I teared up a few times, and I paused many times to look at the gorgeous landscape. When I am in Texas I won't get to see Viking burial mounds on my neighborhood walk, you know? There won't be fjords around every corner. There won't be cute white farmhouses on rugged coastline under bright blue skies, and little sailboats floating past historical palaces and castles. I have to remember that shit. I am going to MISS NORWAY in very many deep and irreplaceable ways. (Don't worry, there's a blog post brewing where I will also post what I won't miss. Balance in everything.)

Things I will miss, a bullet list:

  • Walkability. I can walk almost anywhere in central Oslo in 15-20 minutes.
  • Beauty. Oslo has some scruffy bits but the landscape is GORGEOUS. 
  • Summer. Summer, here, when the weather is good, is just about the best weather that can be imagined anywhere in the world. And you get SO MANY HOURS of sun. 
  • The silence of snow. That first snow, that blankets everything, is truly magical. It is so silent and everything slows down and glows with warm light from windows. Beautiful.
  • May 17th. A great day, and it heralds the traditional beginning of summer. 
  • Fresh cheap, yummy salmon. Yummy yum yum yum. 
  • The work/life balance. Sometimes it can be annoying when the office is empty in summer and everyone fucks off by 230 on a Friday, but damn, they have it right. Family comes first, and as long as you get your work done, you basically are trusted to set your own hours and your time is your own. Nobody gives you shit if you have a personal thing to take care of away from the office, they trust that you will balance the time in other ways to get your workload finished. I really do trust my coworkers, if they say they will do something, they do it. I really hope the Houston office offers this. I will not like it if they look over my shoulder and expect me to keep my desk warm until 5 for no other reason that what the clock says. 
  • H&M. I know they will have it in Houston, but it won't have the Trend section, which I swear by. 
  • The Dubliner, Forest and Brown, Lancelots, and my evenings at Burums. 
  • Our apartment. We really do have the most awesome apartment, at a fair price, and I am very sad to give it up. I will never live anywhere this elegant and cool again. 
  • My friends here, in Oslo and in the UK. Last, but definitely not least. I have met some great people here, and I hope they realize how important they are to me! It is going to be just as heartbreaking to leave behind the people I know in Europe as it was to leave behind my friends from Austin. 

I feel better after the walk. A bit of physical action helps get my body a bit calmer, and I am drinking some Tension Tamer tea while I type this, which tastes like cinnamon ass, but I think the mere act of drinking something called Tension Tamer causes a psychosomatic reaction where your brain says, "Ah, Tension Tamer, ok, shhhhh, quiet down now".

I am going to London next week, to catch up with family and friends. I have already decided that one of my rewards of the new job and the intense workload I am expecting (and am kind of jazzed about, learning all that new stuff) will be that I get to bugger off to the UK for a week every so often, because I am not done with London by a long shot. I'm not done with Europe or traveling or exploring.

I AM done with my tea, however, and I guess with this post. Help me calm down, peeps, help me stop worrying about the small shit and to look up to the bigger picture.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The post I've dreaded and anticipated


I started this blog in 2004 as a way to journal my experiences as an American expat living in Norway. At the time I had already been here 2 years.

I'm looking back through my archives, and I see how much I have done in those 8 years of the blog, how much I have achieved, seen, done, observed, enjoyed,  laughed at, bemoaned and otherwise lived through. I am an extraordinarily lucky and blessed person. Somehow I have a lucky star over me that never fails me, that allows me to always land on my feet if something doesn't go as planned. I never take that for granted, I cherish it and am thankful for it every day.

My lucky star is with me now, too.

And so, having moved to Norway on August 24th, 2002 I announce that I am moving back to the US. Back to Texas. Back to Houston (not Austin, unfortunately, but close enough.)

I will go in early January. Rich will follow a few months later.

I've been hinting not so subtly about  this on Twitter and have announced to a few folks on Facebook. My company got bought out by another, bigger company, and while the likelihood is that they would have something for me here, I have been thinking about a move home for a year or more, and so, when I got offered a new exciting position in Houston with a division of the company I work for now, I accepted. The new job will be all-encompassing, very busy, with a huge learning curve and lots of opportunities for career development and pushing my own personal envelopes of what I can do. It comes with a good salary and an unheard-of 4 weeks of vacation. (Working for a European company has definite benefits.) So my travelling days are definitely not over, and I, in my 10 years here, have become a confirmed international traveler. I know the ropes! So while I may not be an expat anymore, I am still a traveler and a wanderer and that will NEVER change.

There is SO much to think about and do before the move. We live in a large old apartment, to say I have a large wardrobe is an understatement, and Rich has this collection of model airplanes, knick-knacks, boy toys and stuff that has to be seen to be believed. How we get all that home is something I really get overwhelmed even thinking about.

I have to find a place to live, a car, learn how to be an American again. I have to learn how to live in a hot climate again. (Not minding that, really, as the winter in Oslo is here and this year I am just NOT that into it, to be honest. If I never saw another icy sidewalk again that would be too soon.) I have to close a wel-lived life in Norway and reopen one in Texas.

I am both dreading and anticipating the move. I am desperately sad and so nervously excited that I can't eat. (Getting skinnier, nothing fits!) At times I am near catatonic with grief at what I am going to leave. I am leaving behind great friends, great experiences, a city I have come to love. I will regret the experiences I won't have here anymore, the people I don't get to know even better. I already miss that I won't get to ride my beloved bike in Frogner Park again. I won't get to see another 17 May. I won't be able to pop over to London or Amsterdam in 2 hours for a bit of a break. (But I can pop over in 12!)

If I had my druthers, of course I would be going back to Austin, but, as it is, moving to Houston will be fine. My brother is there, I have some good friends there, I hear Houston has gotten less scruffy and more cosmopolitan, and there are direct flights to everywhere from there. And I am 2 hours from Austin. (I also look forward to the wonderful grocery stores and the amazing choices consumers have in the US, as opposed to Norway's narrow and niggardly selection. Remember the butter crisis???? I am so over that shit.)

So, in two months, your Texpatriate will go back to being what she was born as, a Texan. I will continue this blog, which honestly will probably get a bit ranty as I negotiate the red tape of moving home.  I hope you will stick with me, and maybe my fellow expats who read this will learn about what it's like to move home. (I hear it's harder than the other direction.) I'm gonna need you guys!

Tales of a Texpatriate. 2004-2012.
Tales of a Texan. 2013-......

Sunday, October 28, 2012

windows

I have a lot of thinking to do.

I'm in Amsterdam, and today is the day when we set our clocks back an hour, and it is so silent outside. I've booked into an apartment which looks back into the courtyards off one of the canals, and it is all windows and trees and the sky. It's a cold morning, it rained a bit, but it's sunny now, and the heat vents are giving off steam. Outside no one is about, all enjoying their lie-ins, and the beautiful city waits for me, with its bridges and alleys and canals and secret things to explore, things I have seen many times yet continue to enthrall me every time I come here.

I have a lot of thinking to do. All these windows remind me of all the lives around me, all with their own worries and dreams, and in the scheme of things my worries and dreams are no bigger than anyone else's, but since they are mine, they are big to me.

It's so beautiful here. And yet I just want to stay in bed. That picture, by the way, is the view from my bed. Here in Amsterdam. I tend to retreat here when I want to think or just get away. It's a city of huge happiness and in some ways, huge sadness, too. I think this time is a sad time, even as I fight it.

There's going to be some big changes happening in Texpatriate-land over the coming months. Exciting, scary, irrevocable. I'm in the calm before the storm and to say that I am kind of freaking out is an understatement.

I've got some thinking to do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

14 years ago, a reminiscence

(Forward: In 1998 I went to stay at my parents place for a couple weeks while my parents traveled. They have a large plot of land, and my grandmother was still alive then, so I went down to hold the fort, take care of my grandmother so she wasn't alone, and generally keep up the home farm. I don't know if blogging existed back then, but I had just gotten my yahoo email address, so emailed my friends stories of what I was doing. I have always thought the stories that resulted were rather cute, so in a fit of nostalgia, I am reposting these 14 year old missives here. I should note: all the dogs mentioned in this story are now dead, as is my grandmother. Sigh. Funny, though,  I remember this time so well, hanging out in the country, playing my guitar (I was learning to play bass at the time), spending quality time with my grandmother, who I adored and I miss every day,  and just reading and trying out the country life. (Part one was just about the drive up to my parents and the wreck I almost got into while sourcing a Starbucks in Plano.)

Notes from the Ozarks Part II, dammit


I wrote a truly HILARIOUS version of what I am about to write you...then something happened to this Freakin' Mac and it got lost. Trust me, it was truly brilliant, the likes of which I will never write again and which would have gone down in the annals of email as the BEST EMAIL EVER.
Well, to rewrite. Ahem.

"The dog who would be a pony."

The weather here has definitely cooled off...it's in the 50's right now, and is supposed to drop into the low 40's tonight. The dogs are frisky, and up to their doggy hi-jinks.

My folks have four large, goofy dogs...Heidi, Teddy, Maxie and Ginger. Heidi is the grand dame of the lot...she's quite old in fact, I remember picking her out of the litter in 1989 right before my parents moved out here. I think I picked a good one. Shes a crotchety old thing, she arues with you if she doesn't like what you are trying to get her to do, keeps the other dogs in line and won't take shit from man nor beast. She's also built like a brick shithouse...a very solid dog. Ozark livin', while rough, can also produce very solid German Shepherds.

Then there's Ginger....Max's mom. She's kinda shy, but when she gets close and lets you love on her, she's incredibly gentle and soft. She is the alert one, and if she barks I better look out the window, cuz there's something or someone out there.

Max is full of the devil. She has a crooked, wicked grin due to an injury when she was a puppy. Actually she looks like Lyle Lovett if Lyle was evil. She is just full of energy and loves to jump up and kiss me on the chin.

Last, but most favorite of mine, is Teddy, the dog who would be a pony. Teddy is, unarguably and without doubt, the biggest German Shepherd I have ever seen. And I have seen lots of Germies over my 30 years of existence. (note from 2012 Karla...sigh.) . He weighs somewhere around 150-160 pounds, feet like saucers, a chest that is two hand spans wide. He is huge and scary looking. But he is the biggest oafiest Germie ever put on this earth He had floppy puppy ears until about 3 years ago. He likes to play catch.
Playing catch for him means that you hold the stick up in the air, and then watch him squirm. He gets more and more anxious, waiting for the stick to be thrown. He wines, he wiggles, he hops. (The earth shakes when he lands after a hop.) Then, when he can't stand it a second more, he lets out a tremendous WOOOOFFF!!!! that reverberates off the hills and valleys. Then I throw the stick. He looks after it, watches it land, then looks back at me and waits to be teased again. It's all foreplay with him.

His other trick is that he, when you least expect it, tries to play "pony". So far he's gotten me twice. "Pony" is where Teddy walks up behind you and then tries to walk between your legs, ostensibly either to give you a ride or because he still thinks he's a puppy and can fit. Now, he is taller and wider than most people's leg spans, so earlier yesterday I ended up head first in the bushes when Teddy tried to play. He got me again just now, when I was cutting some flowers to bring in. I was bent over, and Teddy came up to play, but ended up head butting me in the ass and I landed on my face in Mom's mums. Once I got the dirt off, it was funny. I may well just saddle him up and see if he really can cut it...I'm tired of getting dumped on my ass (or worse) in the dirt. (He loves doing that to Mom, too. On our Saturday phone calls she always has at least one "Teddy dumped me on my face" story to tell. Endless entertainment, for him, and it seems, in the retelling. Don't bend over when that dog is around)

These dogs, by the way, eat better than most people in the Ozarks. Each meal time they get huge cans of dogfood, plus a whole package of cut up hotdogs and whatever other goodies have been set aside for them. No wonder they are so huge.

Well, that's my story for today. Like I said, the first version was better, but at least I got the flavor across. Damn squeebie Imac.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pretty pictures from Ireland, because dentists are scary and I want to move on.


At Glendalough. I love the trees on the hill, it's like someone missed a spot when they were shaving.  

Again at Glendalough. Some of the gravestones fell towards each other, making an arch over the pathway. I don't know about you, but *I* wouldn't walk through that. That is just tempting fate a bit too much. (I am oddly superstitious for someone who is 98% certain she's an atheist. Still, some things you don't mess with. Like black cats, broken mirrors and umbrellas being opened inside.)  

Panoramic view of the Hill of Tara. I LOVE my new camera, and what a great day that was.....

Well THAT sucked

You know when you have a feeling, a worry, a sense that something you are afraid of is going to happen and you are helpless to stop it?

That was me yesterday. I had a rather awful dentist experience. Woe was me.

(Note I know I am being an absolute baby here, but let me have my moment, ok?) (Also note, I have good teeth, but there's always that one that is the rebellious one.)

For a couple of years, now, I have been fighting a troublesome tooth. I'd had a root canal done on it long ago and then it was crowned, and it was fine for many years, until it started acting up. Very painful infections kept cropping up, every 6 months or so, for which I have a standing prescription of antibiotics (which I don't like taking) but I thought I could hold off the inevitable until I could get home to my dentist in Austin to get it fixed. I love my dentist in Austin. I am never afraid of going to see her. She rocks, and I have never felt any pain with her, either. Not once.

Time ran out this week, and the tooth got infected again, and the Norwegian dentist basically said "It's now or never, you are going to damage the bone if you continue". The options are: pull it or do another root canal. Then they told me why pulling it isn't REALLY an option, it's more of a last resort. Fuck, ok, fine, let's do the root canal AGAIN. I really wanted to hold off, but it seems I can't anymore.

Some notes on the difference between dentists in Norway and in the US:

  • There is no dental insurance in Norway. It is all paid for on a cash basis at the dentist after treatment. It is, of course, expensive. 
  • The dentists here tend to be a bit rough, but maybe that is just in comparison to my dentist in Austin, who has the best chair-side manner EVER and is so skilled and practiced, she's utterly amazing. It just feels more rough and tumble and sort of butcher shop style here, while in the States it's all comfy chairs and calming colors and soothing hygienists.
  • They don't like giving you pain pills in Norway. 'Take a paracet", they say. 
  • Nitrous (oh I do love  nitrous) is a very expensive extra option that needs a pre-consultation and costs the earth. It's basically for wimps. My Austin dentist uses it rather liberally, it seems, and it costs $75 or so and is so much fun. No nitrous for me in Norway.
I don't have any particular fear of the dentist, beyond the usual "This sucks", but I had a bad feeling about this appointment going in. The shots weren't as bad as I had heard (which was good) but maybe the dentist didn't use as much novocaine as he should've because midway through I STARTED FEELING EVERYTHING. White hot metallic agony that ran straight through my brain. I could hardly move it hurt so bad but I think they noticed my altered breathing and perhaps my eyes which might have rolled back in my head. I finally managed to gasp out a tortured "Ow" through all the instruments they had sticking out of my mouth. They paused, then the dentist actually ASKED me if I wanted another shot, he said he was 'almost finished' and he grudgingly gave me another dose as if I was some sort of wimp or something, and kind of 'harrumped' as he waited for it to work again. Like novocaine is so rare and precious and I had used my allotted dose and what sort of lame ass was I to complain that it hurt? IT HURT MOTHERFUCKER, IT HURT A LOT. 

This dentist was also different from my one in the States as it just felt rougher. I mean, he just bored into my head and scattered my old crown to the winds, didn't even bother trying to make a smaller hole and seeing what's what, nope, just destroy and tear down. CROWNS ARE EXPENSIVE. He could have at least tried to mitigate the damage (I have had a root canal done on a crowned tooth before, so I know it can be done.) And maybe it was different drills and stuff but jesus GOD was it loud and grindy. I felt like a jackhammer was in my face. I was listening to Louis CK on my iPod, hoping to drown out the noise, but it was so loud Louis got drowned out. Next time, Metallica. LOUD.

So after he was done, he very roughly filled the tooth (feels like a little rock is shoved in there) and then gave me a detailed rundown of the cost, what it does and doesn't cover (it basically only covers the hole he has created really, and does NOT cover the final filling or the new crown which he destroyed) and a prescription for antibiotics. I staggered out of there, shaking so hard the receptionist made me sit down.  Then I paid a massive amount of money for what was, in effect, torture, at least as viewed by the UN or any other rational governing body in Western civilization. I have to go back at least three times, for him to finish what he started (the tooth is packed with medicine and whatever) and then to replace the crown he destroyed.

I took a cab home. Could not face the bus.

Got home, and as the novocaine started wearing off, it touched off a migraine. A horrid visual migraine. Couldn't see, head was splitting. I went to bed at 9pm. Woke up at 1am from the pain, and realized the doctor had given me NO pain pills nor instructions for same. (My dentist in Austin gave me codeine if I sneezed. I AM HOMESICK, PEOPLE.) Taking today off work.

(My friend Karen texted me this morning, she, too had a toothache, went to the dentist, her wisdom tooth was acting up, they pulled it and she was off and on her way to work with a mouth full of blood in less than half an hour. I feel like such a wimp compared to her, but I guess in my defense, hello, DRILLING. Anyhow, Karen, you are a super stud.)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Sunday afternoon in Oslo, Frogner edition

I've been feeling kind of punk the past few days. I have a tooth that is going to need a root canal for which I have an appointment on Monday (its second, apparently root canals don't always take?) and I have this cough that feels like something is trying to bubble up but won't quite happen. Like I am on the verge of a cold or bronchitis or something, but not yet. It's really annoying, I just feel sort of low level blah, but not enough to just stay home and sleep. I haven't been sick in a long time, so maybe it's my turn, but my body just won't let it happen all the way, and the fight is taking it out of me.

Needless to say, my energy levels are not that great. Even so, after a day yesterday where I literally did not lift myself from a horizontal position except to pee and make dinner, I forced myself to go out today, to go to the gym, to be out in life, and to get out of the flat, if even for a little while. I needed to feel the crisp air and kick a few golden Fall leaves about.

A lucky thing about my general disposition is that, even if I feel down, or punk, or listless, there are always things that make me smile. To whit, today:

1) En route to the gym, which is about a kilometer away and a pleasant walk, a guy turned the corner in front of me with two basset hounds on leads. Basset hounds always make me smile, and these were such excellent specimens of the breed. Low to the ground, but massive, they probably each weighed a good 70 lbs, like walking cement blocks with little bitty vestigal legs and big floppy saggy ears. If one of those were to run into you, you would be knee-capped and taken down in an instant, that powerful low center of gravity would brook no opposition. One was a boy (I was behind them, yep, he was a boy) and one was a female, and they waddled and galumphed and swayed ahead of me. Each step they took, their entire flesh and skin would sway one way, and then in the next step would flop back to catch up with the bits that had just gone the other way, it made them look like nothing more than swinging waves of dog, their tails gay and upright and tick-tocking trying to keep up with their wiggling butts. That made me smile.

2) My time at the gym was spent just doing whatever the hell I felt like, because, I don't want to push it and my lungs just feel a bit wierd. No aerobics today. For some reason I have VERY strong abs, like crazy strong, and was on that chair where you do sort of backwards sit ups, you bend face down over the chair that supports you at your hips, brace your feet at your achilles heels and then pull up using your lower back muscles and abs. Anyhow, this muscle bound guy was next to me on the same sort of chair, doing the same exercise. He was using a 5 kilo weight to add extra oomph and I was using a 10 kilo one. Obviously a girl couldn't do a heavier weight than him because when he saw me using the 10 kilo one he hastily changed for the 10 kilo one, and I think he was surprised at how hard it was. He tried to out do me, but couldn't manage it, I did my reps and he valiantly tried to outdo me but couldn't. (I don't know why my abs are so strong, but they are. Genetic, my mom has it too.) hehe. I enjoyed that. Didn't even break a sweat.

3) The leg press machine at the gym is facing a low wall, and just above the wall is the free weight area, with a glass surround. I enjoy doing the leg press machine because the eye candy from that lower angle, looking up just slightly above my head, is magnificent. You really can't look anywhere else and all you see are hot guys doing arm weight thingies, and shoulder thingies, and then if you are lucky, squats, (and always with their back to you) and you are sort of under the action with a, well, a basset hound's perspective...low and up. Oh man do I get pervy on that leg press machine. There are some damn fine specimens of boy up there, and somehow that angle....rrr. My legs are always very sore after a leg press session because I stay there just a little too long watching the boys. I often wonder if men have any idea that women are just as pervy, possibly more so, than they are? (Or is that just me?)

4) Coming back from the gym, feeling a bit more invigorated after my perving, walking up the slight incline of the road, an older gentleman came down the street to my right on one of those kid scooters, the one-legged ones with the handle to hold on to? Oh he was SO dapper, a checked tweed jacket, a pressed blue shirt over another shirt and with an ascot, for Christ's sake, as well. Khaki trousers, brown loafers, his hair just so, and freewheeling down the road on that scooter. He must've been at least 70, and if he wasn't the spitting image of how I envision getting older, I don't know what is. I want to be 70 and hurtling down the road, nattily dressed, wind in my hair, riding a scooter and not caring at all what the world may think. He was the best thing I'd seen in ages. He smiled and waved as he turned the corner to go down the hill I was coming up. What fun.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Spot the goofball

Marla and I took some fun pictures of us hiding behind trees that we called "spot the goofball".



The two above are of me at Hill of Tara (top) and at Glendalough.

It's a Marlachaun! (At Hill of Tara.)

Some scenes from our last night in Dublin

I am rather loving the new camera. Holy shit, look at these night shots I got. Night shots from Dublin, when we got back from the trip to Hill of Tara and Newgrange. We were STARVING and had not eaten anything all day, not breakfast, not lunch, anything, except a Twix bar each, and finally ended up having the best meal at this place called the Winding Stairs. And boy did we deserve it. 


 View at dusk over the Liffey. 

 A really cool shot of the moon over Dublin. Can you believe this camera? I honestly give myself no credit in this, except for being smart enough to buy the camera (Panasonic Lumix, GET ONE.)

Another view of the moon over the Liffey, I mean, SERIOUSLY?  

The restaurant had a big shelf full of wines, and it looked lovely with the candlelight, the wine glasses and the dark wood. 

Glasses, wine, flowers. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tara

video
The wind in the trees at the Hill of Tara.

I was here in 2004, and it was incredibly moving. I wanted to come back, and I am so glad I did. The trees and the wind and the feeling of life, space, movement, time. It is a holy place, a place where you contemplate existence and realize the absolute stupidity of the small shit in life.

I will confess, I had a moment, under one of these holy trees, where I lost myself in tears and emotion, the sound of the tress is all enveloping and I just let my emotions go where they wanted to go. Pretty sure if anyone was watching they might have thought I was insane, as i went from crying to laughing to crying again. I just leaned against the tree and let the sound of the wind envelope me. I feel something in places like this, and I think if I were to be religious, it would be as a Druidic nature worshipper, I think.

I can honestly say I don't care what anyone would have thought. This place imprints itself on you and you never forget it.

Newgrange

IMG-20120926-02146.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02146.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Ancient site in Ireland.....Gorgeous.

Newgrange

Monasterboice

IMG-20120926-02156.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02156.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
Ancient high cross, 10th century.

Monasterboice

HIll of Tara

IMG-20120926-02158.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120926-02158.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
We had a nice weather window.

Hill of Tara.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wicklow, Ireland

IMG-20120924-02041.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120924-02041.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.
MMS-email

Wicklow, Ireland

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Alien attack

IMG-20120919-02002.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120919-02002.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

This fell out of a tree and hit me on the head the other day. Like an alien missile. It really hurt!

his and hers

IMG-20120920-02003.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120920-02003.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

His and hers Vespas. Cute!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In which I suck.

Today I found out that I suck at dancing burlesque. Yet another form of dancing that is off my list. (That is pretty much all of them, by the way. I suck at them all, and I have tried many. Oh I have always wanted to dance beautifully, but my body has other ideas. My brain is graceful. My body? Nope.)

I might be a little unfair with myself on this. I think that I may have unknowingly put myself in a position in which I was guaranteed to suck. Here's the deal:

I signed up for a Burlesque class at the gym. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and based on prior gym experiences, I figured it would be sort of a Zumba aerobics class kind of thing, where you incorporate some old skool Dita Von Teese burlesque moves into a workout routine. ( I sucked at that, too, but mildly, so I didn't beat myself up about it.) Or maybe it would be like the belly dance class I took, where over 2 months we slowly built up a routine and I really did learn some fun belly dance moves and had a great time learning a classically beautiful form of dance, in a fun supportive atmosphere. I can dance if you give me time to figure it out and train my body to do the moves. I CAN, I really CAN.

Yeah, no. Not this time. This was a full on DANCE class, like for a Christina Aguilera style video. Very fast, very frenetic. Not at all what I was expecting. No Dita Von Teese in sight, anywhere. No fans, no feathers, just sweat and confusion.  Like, you learn the routine with the (very gay, fabulous and funny) dance instructors speaking dancer, where they go "Bah boom PAH boom boom DAH, foot and BEND, and TURN", and you move to their beats. You are supposed to catch on to a complex sequence of movements after 2 quick demonstrations. There were actual dancers in that class, you could tell, they were pirouetting and step-ball-changing their asses off. Real dancers, not just gym people.

Ever seen "So You Think You Can Dance"? You know when they send the auditioning dancers they are unsure of to choreography and they have half an hour to learn a routine for a dance style they have never done before? And Mia Michaels talks all dancer-y and yells at them and they just get it and do it? THIS CLASS WAS LIKE THAT. And I just could not do it.  (So I Think I Can't Dance.)

How much of not a dancer am I? Here's a short list.

  • When I was 6 years old I was kicked out of ballet class by the Russian ballet teacher my mom paid a lot of money for me to see. She said I had no talent and I was a waste of her time.
  • I was also kicked out of the concurrent tap class, same teacher, same reason. (I hated tap, it was no loss.)
  • In college, to make up a credit I was missing in order to graduate, I took a modern dance class thinking it would be an easy way for me to get the credit and not use my brain so much. Boy was *I* wrong on that. That class was EXCRUCIATING. We ran and jumped and I had to wear uncomfortable tight things so the teacher could see our 'form' (this was the 80's, I didn't do tight) and my lycra-clad ass could not do the running splits and jumps and graceful falls and whatever the fucks we were expected to do. I was in tears whenever I had to go to the fucking class, in a hot old un-airconditioned gym in Austin, Texas. In summer. It was 100F in there, all the time. It was death. I hated it. I finally went to the teacher and begged to be able to just write a paper about Martha Graham instead of having to do the fucking dancing, since I was an English major and writing was what I did.. He agreed, and I wrote him the best damn paper he had ever SEEN on modern dance in America, and he gave me a passing grade in the class. 
  • In aerobics class, I am that girl who falls off the step, who goes the wrong way and who can never manage the turns and the cross over step kicks, confusing everyone around her. My friend Margaret B will attest to this. She was back in the back of the class with me, doing the same thing. God I miss her, a friend you fall off a step with is a friend for life.
So imagine me in this burlesque class, with the wonderful, lovely gay teachers speaking Norwegian (apparently I understand burlesque på norsk)(ass is rumpe), and we're doing all the bending over and pirouetting (which makes me dizzy) and sexy arm things and leg extensions and whatever the fuck all that shit is called, to the blaring sounds of Christina Fucking Aguilara singing "Burlesque". And that song plays over and over and over and I really, truly am doing my best to get it but the room is crowded and hot, I can't see the teacher, we are going too fast and HELLO I AM IN MY 40'S AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON. (I hate that song, now, btw.)

I determinedly spun and pirouetted and shook and shimmied and booty popped (the one thing I really truly could do) but I was always at least a half beat behind everyone else and generally facing the wrong way. I always under spin or over spin or spin the wrong way. (I hate spinning. No more spinning for me. I am done with that shit.) I wanted to be all, "Well, white girls can't dance", but of course, everyone else in the class was whiter than me, being all blonde and Viking and shit, so I didn't even have that excuse. Shit. There was a squatty sort of leg spready move that I managed to do ok, finally, when I realized that when Xtina shrieked "SEX" in the song, I was to do that move right when she shrieked. So I copped my squat and spread 'em. (I only fell once.)

I was terrible. Maybe, if I had a one on one with the teachers, for, like, a week, I could've done it. MAYBE. But in an hour? No fucking way. 

I came out of that class with a HUGE grin on my face, because, honestly, you have to acknowledge when you suck that bad. I was giddy with suck. I embraced my inner suck. I laughed all the way home, goofy smile on my face, actually, because I sucked so hard that I am like, the Queen of Suck. Nobody is better at sucking than me. (Um, you know what I mean....)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why I am not reading "50 Shades of Grey", a review of "Story of O"

Warning: This post deals with an 'adult' topic. If you are my parents, friends of my parents, or anyone who would go 'ew' if I discuss something of a sexual nature, GO AWAY NOW. 

For those left, howdy. Here's a book review I have been mulling over in my head, whether to post or not. But, hell, I've been writing about Oslo for so long, how about a change of scenery? Wanna talk erotica?

I am sure, unless you live under a rock, that you have heard about this series of novels called "50 Shades of Grey".  I know I have. I have heard about them, had them recommended to me and also had them severely UNrecommended to me, have seen spoofs, satires, twitterfakes, and oh-so-many take-offs on the theme. I've heard Ellen Degeneres read excerpts. I've heard Donald Duck read excerpts. And I have heard, hilariously, Elmer Fudd read excerpts.  I've read criticisms, literary discussions, heard podcasts, seen discussions on tv. Talked about it at work, with family, friends and strangers on busses who were reading it.

And I STILL don't want to read it, for a variety of reasons. Mostly, of course, that they come from "Twilight" fan fiction, and I fucking HATED the Twilight series, and I really gave it the old college try, I read them all. I hated Bella, hated Edward, hated the writing style, hated those awful fucking twinkling vampires and wimpy ass Bella and her virginal idiocy. (My 3 word review of the Twilight series? "JUST FUCK ALREADY".) So why on EARTH would I want to read smut that stems from those books? Especially BDSM smut, a genre which I am not too familiar with, but if I *am* going to read it, I am not going to start off reading it from a launching pad which I already despise?

Now, saying that I haven't read much BDSM, does NOT mean that I haven't read stuff. I've read "Fanny Hill". I've read the Marquise de Sade (left me kind of cold, that). I've read Choderlos de Laclos. I've read Nancy Friday's stuff. I have Anais Nin around here somewhere. I have some blogs I read online, too, some of the choicest modern erotica available,  truly gorgeous stuff.  (I suppose, with my English major background, I tend to the classics, even in my smut. I like a well-written story.)

So I ain't an innocent. But I *am* ornery, and I don't want to read something just because everyone else is, you know? Anyhow, in a bunch of reviews I read about "50 Shades of Grey" , many of the reviewers said to just cut to the chase and read the original, classic BDSM novel, "The Story of O". So I did. And I can't get it out of my fucking mind. (If you haven't read it, I am not going into plot details here.)

Rarely have I been so turned on and shocked by a book all at once. There were scenes that had me practically panting, and then a page later, a scene that had me cringing, wondering why was 'O" such an idiot, how could she DO that. And then she would go off and be sensible about the sick thing she was doing, and dammit, it made sense, even if it didn't. I think I was freaked out because I understood her, even though I really, truly, honestly, did not WANT to understand her. But I did, because of her essential femininity and her desire to love and please and be loved. What woman doesn't want that? What woman doesn't, at some point, even if she maybe never actually does it, want to prove her love in any way possible, would do almost anything to show her devotion?

But "O", she took it to an extreme, to a sometimes very sick extreme, in ways that I was shocked that an author, in 1954, would even have had the imagination to create. I mean, wow. 1954? I still can't get over it. But there was beauty in even the ugliest scene, the sharpness of the author's prose  was exquisite, (a woman who still remains anonymous to this day) and the clarity of "O's" character, her sometimes surprisingly calculating strength, her surety of her power even as she was overpowered.....it moved me. Even as I resisted being moved by it.

When I was in college I spent a few years studying the role of women in Western Civilization, especially the idea of women in early Christianity and the very narrow and defined roles they were forced to play. (Mother, Daughter, Virgin, Wife, Queen, Nun, Whore, Mystic, Midwife, Witch). "O" reminds me of one of the early Christian Mystics, the women who hurled themselves into their religion with an insane focus, giving themselves up body and soul to their personal version of Christ and God. They were Brides of Christ, and literally broke themselves to prove their devotion, their dominion over their earthly bodies, to attain that higher plane of existence where they rose above mere physicality into something 'other'. "O" was a throwback to that crazed dedication. Her very weakness in doing whatever these men wanted was strangely her strength. In letting them treat her so badly, she ennobled herself, somehow, and rose above their baseness. Their primitive, animalistic and objectified treatment of her only increased her nobility, her affecting aloofness. She broke herself with love, she burned herself on the pyre of devotion, she scourged herself with sex in every sick and perverse form that could be devised, everything to rise above her mortal self,  just as those early religious mystics did (though obviously, not sexually). It really was a sick and twisted version of martyrdom, martyrdom to love and adoration above the mere physical, even though it was so rooted in sexual physicality as to be painful to the observer.

I read it two weeks ago. I still can't stop thinking about it. I hate "O", and I worry about "O", I admire "O",  and I understand her even as I revile her.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dyna Fyr

I went to Dyna Fyr 2 years ago when my dear (and now living in Montreal) friend Elaina invited me and some friends to go. I remember it as a truly great evening, one of the best I have had in Norway, so when I saw they were accepting bookings again, of course I jumped on it and booked. I brought 4 friends: Sue, Tove, Karen and Gilly, and as I suspected, Dyna Fyr did not disappoint.  Dyna Fyr is one of those experiences everyone in Oslo wishes they had done, but never get around to? Most of the people there said they had always wanted to go, but never got around to it until now.  They all know about the cute lighthouse in the fjord, but with the rarity of available reservations, not that many get the time or the chance to go there. All I can say is, if you ever get the chance, GO.

Hereby, some pictures.

 Me looking very hairy and a bit mischievous. This was after maybe 3 glasses of wine. I'm not actually sure how much I had as they refilled my glass so much it never emptied. No matter how hard I tried to empty it. I kept trying to drink it down and it miraculously filled again. 

 View back to Oslo and the castle. Norwegian flag proudly waving. 

 Approaching the lighthouse. One of the stories told about the family that lived there 100 years ago was that the mom (they had 4 kids) couldn't swim, but she thought her kids should know how, them living in the fjord and all. So to teach them to swim, she tied a rope around them and tossed them into the water. If they started to drown, she hauled them back up. Seems a rather brilliant, if rough, way to learn!


 They served us lashings of white, red, and sparkling wine, plus port and baileys/cognac. Then Karen and I had the brilliant idea (after meeting a friend of hers on the tram home) to stop at a bar for a further rosé nightcap. No, your Karla is NOT smart. Today was PAINFUL. 

 View out the window, towards the sunset. 

 Out on the back deck, sunset. W had dinner inside, it was quite chilly and it had bucketed down rain just half an hour before we caught the boat out to the lighthouse. 

 As the evening progressed and more wine was imbibed, ladies got cheekier and cheekier. Here's Gilly and Karen snuggling up. 

 Tove and I striking a pose. We weren't quite drunk yet, though were working hard towards achieving that goal. 
The sky was pink and gold after the sudden sharp rainstorm that swept through just before we boarded the boat out to the lighthouse. 

Dusk on the fjord. It was an extraordinarily beautiful sunset. 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

My Top 25 on iTunes


Went to the gym and just let the iPod play my top 25 list. Realized that most of them are in that list because they are good workout, walking or dancing songs. Some I have had for a very long time, (like NIN Closer) and others, like all the She Wants Revenge, are new to my list, but obviously, I am listening to it a lot. Anyhow, with the exception of a few things, I tend towards a definite gothy/dancey kind of music when I work out. (I try not to pole dance when I listen to Peaches.) It's hard for me to hold still when I have the music cranked, I am sure I get funny looks at the gym as I quietly do a seated grind as I do my chest presses! My booty likes the music.

YKK                              Fluke
Let It Rock             Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Fresh Blood             Eels
Monkey                     Robert Plant Band of Joy
(Jungle Law)             Love & Rockets
Grounds for Divorce      Elbow
Bad Things             Jace Everett
Jump                          Madonna
This S'it Will Fcuk You Up     Combichrist
Electric Blue                     Fluke
Snapshot                     Fluke
Closer                     Nine Inch Nails
I Put A Spell On You           Marilyn Manson
The Night We Nearly Got Busted Alabama 3
A Forest                             Blank & Jones Feat. Robert Smith
Love Me Or Hate Me Remix Lady Sovereign Feat. Missy Elliott
Woke Up This Morning     Alabama 3
Animal Attraction              She Wants Revenge
I Stay Away             Alice In Chains
Tent in Your Pants             Peaches
Power In the Blood     A3
Angry Chair                     Alice In Chains
A Little Bit Harder Now       She Wants Revenge
Take the World              She Wants Revenge
Show Me How to Live           Audioslave

Monday, September 03, 2012

Mushroom hunting, a Norwegian tradition

IMG-20120903-01913.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120903-01913.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

Went mushroom hunting after work today. Fun. We had a mushroom expert with us, who steered us away from the killer shrooms, and taught us how to identify the edible ones. (Basic, very basic, rule of thumb is avoid the white ones.) They take mushroom hunting pretty seriously around here, everyone has their 'secret' place that they go to every year, some many miles away, and tell no one, for fear of someone finding their secret place and bogarting their shrooms. The ones above are chanterelle and "piggsopp" for which I do not have a translation.

Here, also, is a picture of another type of mushroom I found, the very rare, and much sought after "Norwegian Buttshroom".

The infamous "buttshroom". on Twitpic

My hair is full of brush, sticks and leaves from roaming the forest, ducking through bushes and under trees, and digging in the dirt. My legs are scratched up and I have some mosquito bites too.  I look pretty wild. Don't care.

 It was a gorgeous day and I found dinner, I feel like a huntress. I made a wicked wild mushroom risotto, something I used to make all the time, but haven't made in over a year because of the carbs. It was tasty, but I do feel rather carby overloaded right now. Still, I was proud that the mushrooms in the risotto were picked by me, and any grit we found in the risotto was good Norwegian forest grit, honestly found and proudly, er, gritted.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Norwegian Air Force Day

IMG-20120901-01901.jpg by karlakp
IMG-20120901-01901.jpg, a photo by karlakp on Flickr.

At Aker Brygge for an airshow celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Air Force. Planes for the boys to look at, and boys in uniform for the girls. A proudly equal opportunity day for all.