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.

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


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

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?"


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-......