Gigi – NYC/Norway

January 31, 2020

Strange creatures dissipate from view as dream fog melts to early morning fog.

Need coffee.

Check my phone for what dog walks I have today – nice side gig between seasonal jobs, makes me happy.

I have a few today. I hope they’re sweet.

Familiar faint knot appears in my stomach as I sip my tub-like cup of joe.

Accepted a job on an urban farm in Boulder. Leave early March, need to buy the plane ticket. I hope I can balance work and maid-of-honor duties for my sister.

I hope I get rejected from those grad schools I applied to so I don’t have to leave the job I just accepted. They seem so kind and I don’t want to hurt them. 

Start the day. 

Smile and say ‘good morning’ to the folks. 

Give dad a hug.

Tell them I’ll be out for a few hours and see the disappointment wash over their faces, the same faces they had when I said I accepted the job in Colorado. 

They want me close to home, and I wish I wanted to be too. 

Set out to see happy creatures.

Two were lovely, one a treasure, one a very scared meanie.

Can’t all be winners.

Stuffed my face at 2, beer at 4.

Another beer at 5 – it’s Friday, you know. 

All can be covered with some good beers and a little television. 

Told myself I’d read more in 2020. Whoops!

Dinner with the folks. 

They leave on Monday for an entire week to Costa Rica!

Immensely jealous!

Watch a movie with them while the girlfriend is out dancing with friends 4000 miles away. I asked if she wanted to go out dancing when I was over there to visit. She didn’t.

Take a bath and wash away the day.

Always wash away the day.

Slip a melatonin under the tongue. 

Slide back to the amorphous fog of far off lands and alien creatures.

February 29, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of February and what caused you to feel that way?)

What an exciting day! My sister and I went bridesmaid-dress shopping at this cool spot in NYC for her upcoming wedding, and within a half an hour we had found the perfect dress that she had been imagining. A little pricey… my poor wallet… but it is all to make her happy, and that is what matters. We got bunch and bottomless mimosas afterwards to celebrate! I went back to my apartment to take a very necessary nap, and rallied to go out for dinner and drinks with two of my two buds. It was one of my bud’s birthdays the other day, so I bought them a vegan philly cheese steak. We also got some drinks and just caught up – it had been some time since we had all been at the same place. Still missing the fourth in our gang, she lives in Philly. The four of us have never been able to meet in the same place since graduation two years ago – pretty wild. 

My love and I have been going through a rough few months, and we haven’t spoken this week. She is drowning in work, and cannot talk to me. But we’re calling tomorrow to have an in-depth discussion about our relationship, our wants, our needs. I’m hopeful, maybe we’ll really start to hear each other. We’ve been miscommunicating and reading into things we shouldn’t for months – long distance is a mega bitch. It takes so much work. So much. And we haven’t really been able to do any of that work. I think we both want a change. 

I also got into grad school and am still reeling from it! I will be attending the Norwegian University of Life Sciences to get a Masters in Ecology. How weird. New degree, new school, new country, one I’ve never been to and do not remotely speak the language. But I’ll learn soon enough. People always seem to think I know exactly what I’m doing, that I know my path, that the next 50 years I have all planned out. But I would say I’m even more lost now than a few years ago, but not in a bad way. Not all who are lost want to be found, maybe they just truly want to wander. I always think back to my favorite song lyrics about my attitude towards life/career – “I’m grasping at straws, and I’m chasing the wind, as I fall on my face, over and over again.” 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

Today was a good day! I saw my family and friends, drank and was merry, tried on pretty things, ate vegan yummies. Exactly how a Saturday should be.

Question 3: Two paths diverge in a yellow wood… which do you choose? One winds into a dark canopy headed towards a beautiful valley, and the other heads straight for the top of the mountain. Choose wisely 😉

Both journeys have allure. Summit a mountain and see the glory of the world in every direction knowing you had just accomplished the feat of summiting, but only being able to enjoy this glory from a distance. Or, delve into the dark unknown with the hopes of making it to a fertile and beautiful haven on the other side. I think the easy answer is to summit because you know for sure there will be payoff in some sense; you will have a great view. But to take the risk of heading to the dark, however mysterious, enticing and possibly dangerous it could be with the hopes of a better tomorrow in the fertile valley, now that’s a true feat. I would take the wooded path. I might not know what the journey will hold but I know there will be hope of a lush world on the other side.

March 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of March and what caused you to feel that way?)

This past year and some months have been such a rollercoaster in every possible way, from travel to jobs to love and loss, and I know it will begin again in a few months time when I move. So, I am trying to take this time to appreciate where I am and appreciate who I am amongst the chaos of our (crumbling) world. I still have nightly conversations with the faucet of my bathtub, I still head out every day to take care of four-legged creatures because their parents are too overwhelmed with both working home full-time and taking care of their families. I still rise to joy and fall to despair everyday. But now I have begun to recognize it, and celebrate it.

I have started a few online classes, one being R, one being Buddhism and Modern Psychology and the last being Norwegian. They all make me happy, taking up a few hours of my day, and the rest I try to spend exploring myself through various art forms. (I lost two jobs because of the COVID crisis so I have plenty of time on my hands). I have picked up the guitar again, begun painting again, and have been burning (pyrography) again. I am trying to take care, as best I can, during these times. It’s funny how my life seems the most calm when the world is in the most chaos it has seen. 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I’ve been waking up bright and early, starting my day with an oaty cup of coffee and some basic R lessons. I have absolutely no coding experience so it is like learning a brand new language! It’s very interesting and intimidating. I then move on to my Buddhism class, I have always been interested but have not had the time to explore what Buddhism actually is. The professor is great, making seemingly impossible things much easier to understand. He talks of the ‘mindfulness meditation’ practice, which involves simply recognizing your feelings, and observing them objectively. Once that is done, the feelings lose their control over you. The very idea goes against Darwinian evolution, which has programmed our brains to make our feelings heavily influence our perception, so the practice of objective observation is uncomfortable, seemingly unnatural. I find the ideas fascinating, and hope to put what he has discussed into practice.

If I have time, I do a bit of Norwegian language practices before heading out to Roosevelt Island to walk my sister’s dog. My sister and her fiancé need a lot of help with the little guy, and I am more than happy to take care of him for a while. If anyone else texts me, I head over to their place after to walk their dogs, and if not, I head home to mess around with my artistic side for a while. At seven, my family and I rush to the window to cheer for those working tirelessly at their essential jobs, and I settle into a glass of wine and Disney for the evening. Quiet, happy days. 

Question 3: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from social distancing?

I.e., Thoughts about how to feel connected during this time/How are you spending all this (presumably more than before) downtime?/How do you feel about the worldwide impact of COVID19?

This is the most surreal time to be alive in modern history; all of this has felt like something out of a movie. It reminds us that we might not have as much time as we think in this world, and/or that the life we thought we’d live could rapidly change if the global status quo is turned on its head. Nothing is certain, so hold on to your loved ones. They are the only sure thing. 

Zoom has given the world a gift, frankly. As much as I hate to give big corporations credit, they have allowed people to stay connected on a simple and fabulously crafted platform. Bravo! As someone who has been in a serious long distance relationship, I know the importance of staying connected through limited interactions. It makes effective communication all the more important, saying what you mean, saying you love them, etc. And I hope that these times illustrate to those who haven’t already experienced that kind of relationship (romantic or not), how important it is to keep communications clear and to remind your loved ones how much you care about them. They might forget sometimes.

The main characteristic that has connected humans throughout all of our 200,000 years of history is our relationships. These modern global times have cast a shadow on that prospect, duping us into thinking that careers, fame, etc gets us to the true peak of ourselves, but I hope that is pandemic reminds us that community, family, friends – real, loving relationships – are what is most important.

April 30, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of April and what caused you to feel that way?)

A quarantine routine has formed; mornings spent either relaxing or doing low-stress, fun classes online, late morning-early afternoon doing dog walks, late-afternoon artistic time, and evenings of relaxation. Sometimes, I think I should feel guilty for being kind and easy on myself, but then I think, this is the exact time when I should be taking it easy on myself and being as kind as possible. We are in a Global Pause right now, and I should take part in it on an individual level. Life will inevitably speed up again, so why not savor the slow right now?

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I’ve gotten into a little routine here in NYC lockdown. I don’t get that much time in the kitchen, so in the mornings, I usually have oats with vegan yogurt, lunch is a smoothie followed by crackers and hummus, and dinner is usually a variant on beans with salad. Pretty healthy, right? I’m surprised at myself! The very few pups I walk give me enough exercise for the day, so I can spend the evenings relaxing with a beer and my favorite Youtube channels. 

Question 3: If you could choose one musical artist that you believe everyone should listen to critically at least once, who would it be and why?

My favorite musical artist by far is Aurora. She is a Norwegian singer who sings stories and truths far beyond her years. She is an incredibly old soul on a mission to bring comfort, peace and validation to her listeners. I think she is one of those artists who can make someone either uncomfortable or the most comfortable they’ve ever been by listening to her songs, many popular artists are not able to do that these days.

She has gotten me through so much, I wish I could thank her in-person. I couldn’t recommend her album more, “Infections of a Different Kind”! Her older album is also fantastic, but the newer album incorporates her messages more effectively. Listen to her words, and please, you MUST dance!

May 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of May and what caused you to feel that way?)

This has been a heartbreaking and enraging weekend for the United States. George Floyd’s murder by four Minneapolis police officers has sparked protests across the country, some places also having looting and rioting in protest of the systemic mental illness that grips this nation. I am angry. I am sad. I want change.

My day began with a text from a client asking me to walk her dogs, which I happily did, grateful for the distraction, and afterwards headed home for coffee and breakfast. I then spent some time sending off some pyrography art I had recently finished for a friend. She is such a kind and grateful person, it had been lovely to message her over those days when I was burning her pieces. 

Coming back from the post office, I stumbled upon a small protest on 2nd avenue, blocking traffic. A young black man was making an emotional speech. Everyone took a knee, I joined them. I became overwhelmed, reading all of the Black Lives Matter signs, hearing this man’s words. Seeing many kneel, some raising their fists. I don’t think I was able to breathe that much. I had been telling myself to stay off of social media, it was only fueling my heartbreak, but in that moment, I decided it was more important to share what I was seeing, spread the movement as far as it could go on my very small social media platform. So I took some pictures of the signs/crowd, and shared them on Facebook.

Once home again, I spent the rest of the evening trying to comfort myself with some quality father-daughter time by cutting his hair and watching anime. I saw that my favorite YouTubers had posted a video regarding the state of the nation. I cried watching the video and promptly donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund afterwards. I was so tired. I’m so tired. I checked Facebook once more before calling it a night, and saw my conservative relative tried to take a subtle stab at me with the Facebook post from earlier. I called her out on her bullshit, clapping hard back. I hope that shut her up.

Popped a melatonin and slipped away to odd dreams.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I had a few dog walks from my number one client, always good to see the pups! I also sent some of my art to a friend, she is so kind, I really hope she likes them! I made her a hand-in-heart burn and a burned version of her own original art! I also came across a protest, of which I joined for a while. You know how our country is falling apart, right? Yea, I don’t need to explain. 

I then FINALLY cut my dad’s hair, he had been asking for weeks! I think it came out well considering I have absolutely no training!! I then spent the evening watching my favorite anime, Hunter X Hunter. I never conserved myself an anime person but HOT DAMN is this show MAGNIFICENT!

Question 3: What’s on your “quarantine ending/life returning to normal” bucket list and what are unique things on your overall life bucket list?

Moving to Norway for grad school.

Seeing my girlfriend again in Denmark (I think by the time we will feasibly be able to see each other again, it will have been 10-11 months apart).

Seeing my sister get married at her venue (Venues like hers aren’t projected to open until September).

Grabbing drinks with pals.

Visiting pals in different cities.

Booking (and going) for a weekend to a tropical destination with my sister and her bridal party (the bachelorette weekend was cancelled due to the pandemic).

Being able to start my new summer job.

June 30, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of June and what caused you to feel that way?)

June 2020 can shove it.

I think everyone in the States is in the same boat of having Black Lives Matter and the general disintegration of America on their minds. It’s almost all I’m able to think about – I dream about it, I cry about it, I talk to myself in the shower about it. I can’t quite calm down, and I shouldn’t. Peoples’ lives are literally on the line, what the hell has this country come to?

I’m still working full-time as a dog walker, my research gig seemingly permanently put on hold. I’m still excited/anxious about grad school. I’m still anxious/excited about my relationship. I’m getting surgery in a few days to get out the fungus that has been growing in my sinuses for two years. Yay!! I am SO excited for that! Also, yay Pride (!), I am so proud to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and if you are a member but do not support BLM and/or Black Trans Women, you can just fuck off because we don’t want you here.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

My day has been good! I have a regular clientele of doggies so I’m out walking/traveling most of the day. I usually walk close to 10 miles a day and scoot (on a scooter) another 7! It’s a fantastic workout, I’m a bit nervous about the July heat coming, but I’ll make sure to hydrate!

Question 3: Describe something that you believe in, but there’s no concrete proof of that thing/idea existing (you don’t have to justify the belief).

What makes you continue to believe in it? The feeling? The principle behind it?  Someone else instilled the belief in you? Elaborate in your own way. 🙂

Everything happens for a reason. Always. And whether the outcome is good or bad, you were always meant to learn something. 

I’m a huge believer in this, I consistently ask myself “Okay, what were you supposed to learn from this?” if something doesn’t go the way I thought it would. Maybe it’s wisdom. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. I am also a big believer in signs from the universe and that the universe gently guides people with energy and intention, which kind of feeds directly into ‘everything happens for a reason.’

July 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of July and what caused you to feel that way?)

Woke up with two pups laying on top of my body, one of which decided to stand directly on my bladder and then on my hair in the middle of the night; needless to say, I did not sleep well. But it’s alright, this morning I have my visa appointment for Norway! I have been preparing (and re-preparing) the documents for days, now I can only hope I did them all correctly. I got ready with coffee, a nice outfit and makeup (wowow haven’t worn makeup in months), took the pups out for a quick pee, then headed down to Times Square. The office was tucked in between the dark theaters, the area unnervingly deserted. The interview/document hand-off went very well, I believe, everyone working there couldn’t have been nicer and I was out of there in 15 minutes! I then had a day filled with running back and forth between pups, and ended the day with a little birthday celebration for my sister’s fiancé. We had a beautiful meal and lots of laughs. 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I had my visa interview today! I think it went well? Then I had basically a normal day of walking pups except I’m also sitting for two Frenchies so I needed to keep returning to them to make sure they were alright. It was my sister’s fiancé’s birthday today as well, so we had a nice celebration for him too! I got him a really dumb card with bacon on it and he got a good laugh out of it. Glad I made him smile. 

Question 3: When do you feel most social and comfortable around others? Covid has taken away a lot of opportunities to be around the people we love, but what are some qualities about another person (that you know or don’t know) or situations that make you feel like you can be yourself?

I feel the most social and comfortable around others when I know them really well (which is rarely the case) or there is a larger group with a splash of alcohol involved. I tend to get mild social anxiety pretty regularly, so I try to calm myself down by making someone laugh and making sure I am not the center of attention. One of the first things another person can do to put me at ease is to curse, as odd as that sounds. That tells me they are feeling casual, not trying to ‘put on’, so to speak, and are trying to create a comfortable space. Beyond that, if a person is outwardly very goofy and funny, that really makes me relax. I am naturally a very weird and (seriously) goofy person myself, so when I see that come out of others, it is clear it’s alright for me to be me. 

August 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of August and what caused you to feel that way?)

 I had my first final exam for grad school today! At 3am! (My school is in Norway so everything is on their time zone.) It was… well… I couldn’t say I actually remember it. It was 3am, you know? But it is over, and next week I’ll begin my other four classes. I’m very excited! I also have been talking with my girlfriend about visiting her in Copenhagen this fall, we’ll see if we’re able to work it out. 

My sister’s wedding is now about a month away! We are still working out all (and I mean ALL) of the details, but it will all work out and be wonderful. 

The background of all of this excitement, is, of course, rage and heartbreak over the injustice happening in the US right now. Although I am happy about all of the things personally going on in my life, I am always sorrowful and furious that my country is smiling and laughing while killing black people, silencing BIPOC, and enshrining white supremacists and murder. I think the end of America is coming. 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

Today was good! I’m a bit sleepy after my final – it was at 3am so my brain was very confused. But I laid in bed in the dark and watched Legend of Korra for the rest of the morning afterwards. It was glorious. Then I had work for a few hours, came home, and ate until I fell asleep! It was quite the exciting day, huh?

Question 3: Since we’ve all been writing our monthly reflections as if we were sharing them with a stranger, what’s the best recommendation you could give to a stranger and why? Make it an uncommon one, something that they probably wouldn’t already be exposed to.

“Be careful what you say about yourself, because you are listening.”

Be gentle, be kind. Have the patience to allow whatever you need to feel come out, and then have the strength to let it go. We are living in such a harsh world, don’t let our inner world be harsh too. 

September 30, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of September and what caused you to feel that way?)

Today has been a good day, just the norm. I don’t have class on Wednesdays, so I sleep in until 6am (wild, right?). After a morning coffee, I did some schoolwork, then headed out to walk dogs around 10:45am. My mind has been drifting to my sister’s wedding a lot – it’s the day after tomorrow! Her and her finance’s large wedding has been postponed to next year due to COVID, but they still wanted to have a small, family-only wedding on Friday. I bought a beautiful dress to wear for the occasion – it feels odd to wear something that doesn’t have holes in it! I hope I’ll get years of use out of it, and the shoes… those thangs ain’t cheap. 

Because I go to school virtually in Norway, I go to sleep around 5pm, this day was no different. I haven’t seen much of my parents as a result of that, which is a bit sad since I’m leaving so soon. 

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I slept in a bit, did some work and then walked my daily pups! Always makes me happy. Then came home, had some dinner, and went to sleep. Just your average Wednesday (given the global pandemic haha RIP our world).

Question 3: When you close your eyes and pause your heavy thoughts for 30 seconds, what do you see?  Where does your mind take you when you finally get a chance to slow down and breathe?  Where do you want to go and what might be holding you back from reaching that place?

My mind whirls incessantly when I close my eyes; it is hard for my mind to relax, it is hard for my lungs to breathe beyond a shallow intake. I think of regrets, missed opportunities from this year… there have been so many… lost jobs, lost study opportunities… the weight can be crushing sometimes. But, at least I have an income, there are about 40 million people in the US alone who cannot say that. 

After those anxiety-ridden swirls clouding my thoughts subside, my mind eventually drifts to standing in the kitchen with my girlfriend, or sitting on the couch with her. That calms me down a lot. We have not seen each other in almost a year because of this pandemic, and it is hard. I’ll be able to see her soon though! Once I go to Norway and get out of quarantine, I’ll be able to travel to Denmark because there is open travel between Norway and Denmark. I’m excited!

October 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of October and what caused you to feel that way?)

I am feeling excited and a bit overwhelmed today. I have moved to Norway for school and have just finished my quarantine period. Tonight will be my first night meeting people I have been virtually getting to know for the last few months, and it is nerve-wracking to begin that transition! Will I like them in-person as much as virtually? Will they like me? How will our energies be together? 

I have been getting to know my housemates in the past 10 days, and they are all very sweet. It is a lovely energy in this house, both from the upstairs apartment and this apartment downstairs. I feel very lucky to have found a place with such kind people. 

Getting a job here seems to be tougher endeavor than I originally thought. I am not desperately in-need of a job (yet), I have savings, but it would give me great peace of mind to know I’m getting some flow of income! We will see if I’m able to score anything.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

It’s my first day out of quarantine!! I’m so excited to meet all the people I’ve become friends with virtually! Tonight is a little Halloween party in the woods behind the university, and it should be a really nice time! Beers with friends by a spooky fireplace sounds great.

Question 3: Describe a person that you vividly remember seeing on the street or in passing, but never met.  What do you remember the most about them and write a little story about their life – what do they do, what are they like and what makes them uniquely them?

I am terrible with remembering people’s faces, but I’ll remember someone’s face if I have had a premonition flash about them. The most vivid one I can remember is when I was in the last year of my bachelors and a random red-headed college student stepped off of our university bus, and I had a flash of remembering that I had already seen this moment during a dream. The angle of his head, his horizontal iron-colored striped shirt, the way he stepped off the bus – it was as if time froze for a second, and I was remembering rather than experiencing. This happens to me a handful of times a year – a random moment in time that I know I have already seen in my mind’s eye. I really enjoy it when it happens, makes me believe I am in the right place and am doing the right thing (whatever that means). 

I bet this guy I saw was heading back to his apartment at the Susquehanna hill community. He was probably coming home from his class at the School of Management where he flirted with the girl he likes. She flirted back but secretly knows she is not ready for a relationship, but she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings so she doesn’t tell him. He senses it.

He’ll head to his apartment where his roommates are relaxing/working in the living room. The TV is on – the cooking channel, a Chopped special is playing. He’ll ask who the roommates want to win, they’ll all pick the woman from Seattle with the spiky hair – she’s got quite the backstory (the good ones always do) and is obviously incredibly talented. He’ll remember he has a math assignment due that night, and silently curses himself for not doing it yesterday afternoon when he had the time, instead of playing video games. 

He’ll take out his laptop and begin his assignment, hoping to be distracted by the chefs furiously cooking on the screen. He’ll look at the equations. He knows how to do them but does not want to put in the time. He knows if he stays in the living room he’ll never get it done, so he excuses himself and goes to his bedroom. He opens his phone to check for messages – ‘maybe she’ll have texted me’- he thinks hopefully, but with a tinge of melancholy. He can feel she is holding back but doesn’t know why. He is excited with the idea of being with her, but is afraid of getting hurt again. Why does he always get hurt? He’s a nice guy. 

She hasn’t messaged him. He opens his messages and re-reads their last conversation. Maybe he was too flirty? Or maybe not flirty enough? Maybe he is not being forward enough. Maybe he should just ask her out and get it over with, but then he could lose her. Would he rather risk losing her and be truthful, or swallow his feelings to keep her in his life?

He can see she is active. He quickly closes the app and hopes she’ll message him. ‘I should do the assignment’, he thinks. 

5 minutes go by, no word from her. 30 minutes go by, nothing.

‘I’ll just ask if she wants to grab dinner and do this assignment with me’, he thinks. That’s the right mix of relaxed and forward, right?

He sends the message and waits. He can see she’s still active. Maybe calling a friend?

She doesn’t respond for 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. He grows worried. Maybe it was too strong? He’s kidding himself if he thinks she likes him, she’s too smart, too pretty, too funny to like him. 

30 minutes goes by. His stomach has been sinking while re-reading the math equations over and over again, losing sight of how he thought to solve them only a little while ago.

He sees his phone light up. Message from her. 

‘Hey! Ah, sorry, I did the assignment this morning and have practice tonight, but send me any questions you have and I’ll try to get back to you! See you tomorrow :)’

His heart pinches for a beat. She can’t come, but she was sweet about it. It’s okay, he’ll ask again next week. 

He responds with an ‘Okay, thanks! See you’, and puts the phone away. He stares at the screen for another moment, then closes the laptop and walks into the living room to cheer on the spiky-haired woman from Seattle.

November 30, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of November and what caused you to feel that way?)

My first semester of grad school is beginning to wrap up! Finals are beginning, my load isn’t too bad – only 2 finals – but one in particular is a bit daunting with the scope of knowledge needed, plus it’s my first oral exam! The professors literally wrote ‘we are not bad guys looking to nail you’ in their description of the exam… well, that just makes me more nervous. 

My days are spent in the basement of the ‘Jordinstitutett’, or soil building, every day except on Sundays, to study. The walk there in the mornings is so lovely – the sun barely lifts above the horizon at this time of year in Norway, so it always looks like the morning/evening hours. This morning was especially lovely because there was a mist wrapped around the area that hadn’t lifted yet. Other days are not as nice, we have had almost all days with completely cloud cover and rain, so it doesn’t make me that sad to be indoors all day.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

I’m alright! Nervous about finals, of course, but I’m going to try as best I can. Plus Trump is getting kicked OUT so there is much to celebrate!!! My American roommate and I screamed when we found out the news!

Question 3: If you had all the resources possible (time, money, motivation, etc), what are some things you would do or learn to do? Make a list.

Oh, wow, there is so much I would do if I had the time and comfort of money!

  1. Become fluent in Spanish and Norwegian, possibly more languages, they’re so beautiful
  2. Develop my skills as a pyrographer (wood-burner) and paint more 
  3. (Really) learn to play the ukelele
  4. Delve deep into the world of different spiritualities and spiritual practices, exploring as many cultures’ beliefs and practices as possible
  5. Volunteer more, like, way more, especially at food banks and animal shelters
  6. Hike and hike and hike as many trails as I could get my feet on
  7. Learn to scuba dive! That would be a thrilling challenge for me since I get nervous in open water!
  8. Camp more, anywhere and everywhere

December 31, 2020

Question 1: How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of 2020 and what caused you to feel that way?)

Happy new year (Thank god). What a festering blackhead of a year. 

I’m still in quarantine in NYC, back to visit my family, so I didn’t head to any (very small) parties. My parents and I watched WW84 and The Sapphires, apparently their tradition has been to do a double feature on NYE over the past few years. WW84 – wouldn’t recommend, I think the script didn’t know what it wanted to do – but The Sapphires was lovely! It’s been a very quiet few weeks after my finals ended, I just spent a few days laying low in Norway before heading back to NYC for the holidays. I’m terrified I won’t be able to get back into Norway due to the variant from the UK, but we will see how it goes. I played games with my folks while we had a few drinks, it was nice.

Question 2: How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2020!!! Here’s to 2021 not being as awful!!!!! Fingers crossed. 

Today was nice, I spent most of it just relaxing – watching Netflix, playing the ukulele, and reading a bit. I’m reading The Four Agreements, I recommend it, it’s so lovely.

Question 3: This year has been the most consequential year of our lifetimes. What have you learned? What have you learned about yourself? About society? What do you hope to bring with you to 2021?

2020 was awful in so many ways, it felt like a screaming kettle which no one would take off of the burner. But, although painful to go through, was enlightening. 

2020 was the year we learned about human nature. We learned that some people, at their core, are incredibly selfless, loving and accepting, while others choose to fill their cores with darkness and hatred. Yes, I said choose. Sure, there are some who ‘grew up a certain way’ or were ‘only exposed to certain people/ways of life’, but I think that argument to justify racism and blind ignorance is no longer valid for the 21st century. This is because of the internet.

The information to unlearn all that has been conditioned into you is right at your fingertips, and it is your responsibility to find the information needed and do the internal work. I did that this year. I was not a good ally before this year, and I still have so many ways I need to improve. The internet gave me a tool to learn more about my privileges as a white middle class woman, and the tools to understand how to uplift and validate others who have not been awarded the same privileges. I participated in BLM marches, donated to charities in need, (screamed on Facebook, whoops), and started conversations with family members, even the close-minded ones. This was not nearly enough, of course, and it still comes from a place of privilege to do these actions knowing I will never experience racism myself.

But the point of this rant is to say that I tried given the information I, and we all, have access to, to try and do a small bit of good in our thoroughly messed up country. And what I did doesn’t even scratch the surface of what others did this year! I know I could have done so much more! But the point is to take those steps; do as best you can to educate and open the minds of others whose blinding hatred, or even just misguided notions, stop them from feeling empathy, and uplift those who need it. 

Maybe that’s what I want to bring to 2021 – empathy

Empathy is the key to our future now. Not science or fancy technology like in the days past, but genuine understanding of others’ struggles, dreams, and voices. The climate crisis, at its core, is a lack of empathy towards marginalized groups and non-human life. Certain governmental regimes thrive because they prey on people’s fears and apathy towards those different from themselves. We lose loved ones because we stop caring about how they feel, how they see the world, how they want their life to be. This needs to change. We cannot afford for apathy to reign. If it does, then, in the words of a certain wise teenager, “Man is such a fool, why are we saving him?”.