Grumpy got hugs

Grumpy

Grumpy

So, as usual, I am Mercurial and go up and down more than a rollercoaster. After a great day yesterday—which I realize now may have taken more out of me than I thought, with all that talking to the psychologist—I ended up grumpy today. Total raincloud-right-over-my-head grumpy.

At the end of the day, a co-worker caught up with me and I admitted I was frustrated, annoyed, and feeling grouchy. Whereupon she gave me a proper, squishy, ribcage-melding bear hug. In fact, such a good and helpful hug we both started to tear up. 

Now, that is some serious hugging!

And yes, it did chase the proverbial raincloud away.

PS: My favorite dwarf was Grumpy because I related best to him. Still do.

PPS: WordPress is rolling out a new blog editor called Gutenberg and it's, uhm, well, at times raincloud-inducing. :-D

Bybanen

I am in love with the city light rail in Bergen, Norway, called "bybanen" (BEE-bah-nen). It took five years after it was built for me to actually ride the darned thing, but after that, it has become my most popular modern addition to this old medieval town. And now they're building a line to my neck of the woods!

I am excited about getting the light rail in 2022! Yeah, that is a long way off. They started digging in February of this year. I walk past the construction site for the station in Fyllingsdalen (the suburb where I live and work) nearly daily. I've been trying to document (sort of) the changes construction is creating in my neighborhood. 

The start of construction of bybanen in Fyllingsdalen, March 2018.

The start of construction of bybanen in Fyllingsdalen, March 2018.

5 months later and all those pipes on the first picture are underground - August 2018

5 months later and all those pipes on the first picture are underground - August 2018

Bergen being Bergen, there are strong opinions for and against the light rail. A lot of people think it's a waste of space and money, inferior to better bus routes, and ohmygawd it takes a full 45 minutes from downtown to the airport!!! 

Look, I've taken the light rail all the way from Byparken (the downtown stop right next to the city park) to the airport. It takes a predictable amount of time (but the hard seats are not kind to aching hips). It also costs the exact same as the city bus (NOK 37 if you prepay an adult ticket). As a comparison, our nice airport bus costs NOK 115 for a prepaid one-way ticket from downtown.

Anyway, today I got to ride the light rail again. My psychologist's office is one stop away from the airport, so I ride the rail one stop from the bus terminal. Today I didn't have to go back to work afterward, so decided to ride to the airport to get a better picture of the "Bergen?" signage—the artwork at the airport that I discovered you can see from the air! (Another version is in the rotating header pics, but has construction equipment in the foreground.)

This sign gets people, especially the locals, talking.

This sign gets people, especially the locals, talking.

Lyrical challenge Day 3 of 3

The final day of being lyrically challenged (in more ways than one), thanks to one of my inspirations for blogging, Paula at Light Motifs. If you're feeling inspired, please do your own challenge and let me know about it! And now for the third song with lyrics I not only paid attention to, but also bothered to learn by heart. But that came later, because when this song first played on the radio back in 1979, it made me cry. Every. Single. Time. This is one song that is on the short list as a song you may play at my funeral (the other songs are mostly happy disco tunes so bring dancing shoes). It is "The Rose" by Bette Midler.

Teen years are intense years, and the evening I saw the movie "The Rose" has moments that I will never forget. I had two friends at the time (I always end up in a trio of two girls and a guy; I'm on my third such grouping), Ann and Grant (hi, Ann!), and we went to see "The Rose". I drove us to the movie theater in my little Datsun B210. It wasn't a theater or part of town we had been to before, and we arrived too late for the intended show. So we ended up hanging out in my tiny car because all the stores at the nearby strip mall were closed or uninteresting. Grant told us the worst jokes in the world and I. Still. Remember. Them. Thanks, Grant.

I'm sure we did more than jokes because Ann and Grant could get into some crazy conversations with each other, strictly for entertainment purposes.

And then it was finally time for the next showing to start and we went and saw the movie.

I didn't understand shit, and I certainly didn't get that the movie was loosely based on Janis Joplin's life. I was "Janis who?". But what I did get was the closing song. The Rose. And the radio stations got it too, and sometimes the tears and the ache that song produced in me every time it played was frustrating.

But that's how you know it matters: If it stops you in your tracks, if it freezes the moment, if it moves you to tears.

The song could be called a hymn, and I know of some people who thought it was a hymn. The imagery and variety in the lyrics, how nothing repeats itself ever but says the same thing, are a huge part of why I love this song. But the message felt like a commandment to me, a finger pointing out my responsibility in this life. And that's one reason for the tears. I take my responsibility as a spiritual person seriously. I was trying to do right by the message of "The Rose".

In later years, the lyrics have mellowed for me, and I no longer cry. Instead, the song describes the gift that each individual can contribute to the greater good. The song is no longer a harsh demand, but a gentle reminder that no matter what, the seed may become more.

And now I am crying again. "The Rose"… you still do that to me.


The Rose

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance It's the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance It's the one who won't be taking, who cannot seem to give And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose

Songwriters: Gordon Mills The Rose lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

PS: I now know who Janis Joplin was (RIP), I have seen "The Rose" again and I love the movie and its cast.

Comfort zone

I don't like ever talking about what goes on deep inside of me. A few close friends may find out, but not co-workers or you, my reader. But the truth is, I've gotten a taste of what it is like to be struggling with something psychological. And I've decided to let you in on that.

I have a busy mind, and a strong sense of responsibility or duty. That sort of thing easily leads to stress because I've lost the ability to say "no" without guilt. So anxiety has been creeping up on me for almost two years. It's mostly work, but that means that anything bad happening outside of work becomes harder than it needs to be because I have nothing extra to give.

I canceled a trip to Czechia this summer. Prague, home of the astrolabe clock tower, is a city I've wanted to see for years. But it went back on my bucket list due to being so utterly stressed out I couldn't even think about packing without crying. I wasn't staying in the moment but instead had leapt ahead to the week after vacation at work.

Bad move.

A good move was telling a friend and getting some time to talk. Another good move was looping my boss in on what was going on when I got back to work. She sent me to the company shrink. 

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

The psychologist was in a neighborhood I hadn't been to before, so I had to figure out bus schedules, and timing so I wouldn't get stressed out if I got lost. I made a decision about which bus to take, and I had taken it before so I knew that leg of the journey.

Sitting on the bus, on a rainy day, knowing I didn't need to worry about missing my stop, I started to feel myself again. I was back in my comfort zone. I know this. I know how to ride a bus. I know the rain. I know how to get myself to an unfamiliar address. I know how to adult that much. So I watched the windshield wipers fight the weather, feeling all warm and fuzzy.

The meeting with the psychologist gave me what I needed. A chance to think out loud and get some feedback. I know all this shit. I know about meditation and affirmations and etheric oils and about not trying to live up to the imagined expectations of others, but all that is beyond my grasp right now. And I kind of want it to be. I don't want to figure this out by myself even if I do know what to do. I want to talk to someone else, get some perspective my own brain can't come up with. Most importantly, I need to hear I'm normal. I don't know that I am, you see.

The psychologist told me I am, and it felt good to hear. One thing I told her was that I feel guilty just sitting. I like surfing the 'net. I like solving sudokus while I listen to my favorite podcast. I like knitting while I watch TV. I like sitting at a keyboard, typing. I like writing. But according to every article I've ever read, all this sitting will kill me, so I feel bad about sitting.

But I like my "sitting hobbies"! And especially the writing and knitting, both activities that produce something, are rewarding. So she asked me, since I was already down and didn't need more pressure, what about not beating myself up further, but instead look upon my "sitting hobbies" as something good, something helpful?

Hmm…

Coincidentally, in the way only the universe knows how to organize, a fellow blogger challenged me to write about song lyrics for three days and, boy, did that feel good, even if it was a topic I would never pick! Just the act of writing, of looking for links and words and putting them together.

One lesson learned.

Stay tuned. I'm not done yet. With any of this.

Lyrical challenge Day 2 of 3

It is Day 2 of the song lyric challenge that Paula at Light Motifs has lobbed at me. With friends like that, et cetera. So I mentioned yesterday that I'm not really aware of what people are singing because not enough enunciation. (By the way, I was double-checking that I had the right word, and discovered it's not spelled "annunciation", which is a totally different thing. Heh.)

There was a time when being proud of America and happily waving the flag and feeling all kinds of good was the norm, rather than either a rarity or something that now makes you throw up in your mouth a little (take your pick). Point is, things have changed since the 1970's. But at the time, even if we got pretty beaten up during that decade, too, with resigning presidents, falling Saigons, soaring gas prices and waiting hostages, we still had reason to like ourselves and the rest of the world sort of usually liked us, too.

And there was always the Muppets to give one a bit of reprieve. The Muppet Show was a favorite in our household, and my mom and I were thrilled when the Muppets made a whole movie! YES!!!

So I remember two things, no three things (well, umpteen but we'll go with three) especially about the evening we went to the movies to see Muppets on a big screen: I got a parking ticket, we honestly thought the film was ruined (see it to see what I mean) so the entire audience gasped in dismay, and the entire audience heaved a deep sigh of warm fuzzy agreement at Fozzie's concluding statement after doing his version of "America the Beautiful". As it turns out, that song is perfect for road trips in the U S of A. At least the first verse is. I didn't even know the song/hymn had other verses until I could claim middle-age so here's a link to the whole song in case you didn't know, either.

I am also partial to that hymn simply because it is has so many wonderful visuals and color combinations and plains that aren't fluted but fruited (told you I don't hear lyrics too good) and a hope and blessing rolled into one. A short verse and short chorus pack a lot of poetic and inspirational punch and I sometimes wish this song was the US national anthem.

And now for the part Fozzie sings:


America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

Lyrical challenge Day 1 of 3

I have been challenged by Paula at Light Motifs to do three days of song lyrics. I thank Paula for making me update my blog (no, really, I needed this) but I have no one else who is actively blogging to pass the challenge on to. That doesn't matter. I don't do anything that reminds me of chain letters, anyway.  :-D

I rarely listen to lyrics because I rarely catch what they're singing, anyway. But some songs had a singer with good enunciation, and even good lyrics, and so I became aware of the words.

One of my favorite bands from the 70's is Little River Band, originally from Australia. I still listen to their 70's stuff (because I don't know if they did 80's or even 00's stuff), and some songs put me right back in California. They had that mellow, west-coast soft-rock sound. And good lyrics. Several of their songs tell good stories, dealing a punch here, a good tug on the heart there. LRB became a part of the tapestry of my life in late 70's California, following me from high school to work, an essential part of what I listened to in my car during commutes. Some songs bring back moments behind the wheel or in my messy teenager's room in front of the stereo.

One of the few ballads I love to listen to any time is LRB's "Cool Change". The song from 1979 is a true child of the 70's focus on getting grounded and centered and mellowing out, and you really do mellow out to it. Sometimes, I become so keenly aware of the words that I notice something I might not have been meant to notice.

If you pay too close attention, you may find your chill bliss interrupted by a bit of ridiculous phrasing, the kind that makes me sometimes utter at that point in the song, "Like you have a choice?" or start giggling while singing along. If you know what line(s) I'm reacting to, tell me in the comments. (Hint: It's not "staring at the full moon like a lover". That is an awesome simile, that.)


Cool Change Little River Band

If there's one thing in my life that's missing It's the time that I spend alone Sailing on the cool and bright clear water It's kind of a special feeling

When you're out on the sea alone Staring at the full moon, like a lover Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change

Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best

The albatross and the whales they are my brothers There's lots of those friendly people And they're showing me ways to go And I never want to lose their inspiration

Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change

I've never been romantic And sometimes I don't care I know it may sound selfish But let me breathe the air

Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best The albatross and the whales they are my brothers

It's kind of a special feeling When you're out on the sea alone Staring at the full moon, like a lover

Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change

Songwriters: Glenn Barrie Shorrock Cool Change lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

The next rebels

I belong to the generation that followed the boomers. No, not Generation X. That other generation. The small one that is considered boomer but really isn't. We're just the tail at best. We aren't the ones that rebelled. As my high school history teacher said: We're the nothing-happened generation.

There's a lot of good to be said for the Baby Boomer generation. They changed the rules, making it possible for patients to get a second opinion, to have sex (and babies) outside of wedlock, to get women into management and politics and marathons. A lot of important things started before the boomers became old enough, but they were the first generation to live the change as teenagers or college students or young adults. I admire their chutzpah and appreciate their efforts. My "tail" generation, c. 1958 to 1966, just followed along and got the fruits of the "older kids'" labors.

Now they're approaching retirement or have retired. They're still in jeans and I see the contours of the next mark they're going to set on society: Wine and rock-n-roll in nursing homes.

The boomers that have become CEOs, rich patriarchs, well-established, safe and settled, owning their own home (and members of my generation are in there, too) have also become the ones that don't want to share or accept change that others want. Conservatism is not specific to boomers, however, but is just something that seems to be more and more common as we age. What's not good is when conservatism is born out of fear of loss, rather than complacency or satisfaction.

The generations after the boomers did not rebel in the same way. Generation Jones (the "tail"),  X and Y (the millennials) have their identities but did not protest loudly. My history teacher said what he said right after he said, "It's all been done." Somebody else had already fought. Somebody else had already protested. Somebody else had already demanded. Somebody else had already gotten the changes.  So by the late 70's/early 80's, there wasn't anything in our society that needed placards and megaphones.

There is now. There is a new protest generation: Generation Z. Like the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The ones who got fired up after they got fired upon. These kids haven't backed down yet. They have the necessary staying power. They are rebeling and will continue to rebel. They have a good cause. They see that society has let them down and they want change. I am proud of them, I have faith in them, and their voices are necessary. I am impressed by their intelligence, their focus and their stamina. I recognize a generational change, one that will alter the 21st century, like the boomers altered the 20th, and I welcome it.

In a home or a garden you need to get rid of the clutter or the weeds so it won't choke out healthy life. When a society gets too full of itself, has too many unhealthy laws or behaviors, the ones doing the tossing are the rebels. We need our next generation of rebels.

 

The Daily Prompt: Rebel

I made this!

There is one thing I will never flaunt, and that is my cooking skills. I am grateful if I enjoy what I made, because that's not a given. I'm about to declutter my kitchen and I think a number of spices will disappear when I do. I never use them. I don't know how to use them. And no, I'm not interested in learning. I can't learn.

My mother and her mother (and her mother) are/were all good cooks. Not fancy cooks, but the kind of cooks who can put together ingredients in a way to make a nourishing and tasty meal, and they can do that every day. (I do remember Grandma saying the biggest challenge to cooking was coming up what to make. Her tomato meatloaf was divine, by the way.) I did not inherit this talent from them.

You know how some things are interesting enough to make you want to find out more? I'm like that with computers or astrology, but not with cooking. I don't even watch cooking shows. I may as well be watching a quantum physics lecture for quantum physicists. Actually, I'd give that latter a try because I'd probably enjoy it more than watching somebody pickle fisheyes or something (it's probably been done). The only TV cook I've ever watched with any enjoyment (and even then, only a few episodes) was UK's Nigella Lawson because she was slightly klutzy in the kitchen, a trait that made me feel at home. And she talked about what she was doing in a way I could understand. I watched Jamie Oliver swear he could get dinner ready in 15 minutes, and does—3 courses—and at the end just tosses mint, ginger and lemon into ice water and I know that sounds good; I just cannot understand how he got there, how he knew to combine those. Because when he did, I realized that that would never have occured to me. And so got the same feeling with him that I had in high school chemistry: A mystified void where knowledge should have lodged.

That everlasting void is one reason why I don't know how to substitute. I don't what would work in place of an ingredient I don't have, because I don't understand the combination of the original ingredients. That understanding of how flavors or textures interact is a key to good cooking, and I lack it. The everlasting void is why I expect a lot of my spices will go, too, once I get around to decluttering the kitchen cabinets. They'll go because they were purchased in a mad attempt at understanding them enough to use them outside the one recipe that introduced them to me, and they'll go because rarely used spices in a household of one tend not to be good after a while.

However, in spite of all of the above, I feed myself. Perhaps not spectacularly, and perhaps not creatively, but definitely by my own hand in my own kitchen. I use cookbooks. The only thing I'll just do on the fly are eggs. I am very good with eggs.

I have to make my own food. Partly because TV-dinners get excrutiatingly boring after a while, and mainly because if I am to feed my body the way it needs to be fed, I have to do the cooking. I have to keep it healthy and, in deference to my own monkey brain, keep it simple.

So I try to find recipes where I understand the whole thing and I can do the whole thing. Recipes that do not require a dash of an obscure ingredient, or a food item not sold in Norway, or that have that one step I don't know how to do. I have one chicken recipe I love because when I cook the chicken breasts exactly as the recipe says, they always come out tender and moist. I don't understand why. I am surprised every time it happens. And grateful.

Today's dinner was inspired by ready-made bacon burger patties at the store. I've always thought that ramekin bread would make a good hamburger bun, if you layer with lettuce leaves so the condiments don't leak through, and with that thought (and the knowledge that I have frozen sweet potato fries in the freezer), I ended up with a proper hamburger for dinner tonight. Behold:

Hamburger with ramekin bun

Hamburger with ramekin bun

April is for taxes

Nothing is certain but death and taxes. And swear words. Back when I still lived in the US, my mother and I got window seats at Philippe's in downtown Los Angeles on the evening of April 15th, to watch people slowly driving by to toss their returns into huge hoppers on Alameda, which was one-way that night. I've also kept a Norwegian friend company on her walk to the tax return receptacle at 11 PM  on April 30. We noted as we turned to walk home that we weren't the last.

You may have seen there how I slipped Norway's deadline in. So I have been swearing in English at my Norwegian forms this morning because I own pretend money that the government wants to know about.

Yeah, I'm late. For some darn reason I've been putting this off this year. I've been putting everything off. Even breakfast. I'm doing taxes on coffee alone.

Every year I tell myself I need to learn more about the stock my employer gives me every spring for being a good little worker bee, because I'm running out of cuss words every April.

This year I kept getting hung up on the word "realisert". Same term in English: Realized gains. I knew I'd gotten another handful of stocks last spring but did not know how many or the emission date or the value (why do I not write these things down when they happen??? It happened again this year, and I wrote nothing down!) but I gained something, right?

Many of my cuss words were spent on looking for information I finally realized (HAH!) I didn't need.

Because I didn't sell any of my pretend money to get real money last year. I just got more pretend money.

So now the Certain Thing is signed, sealed and delivered, all electronically, and the little receipt thingy is sitting in my electronic inbox.

Now that that's over I can blog. And make breakfast.

And leave this post here so that maybe I'll remember during the rest of this year to pay attention so I'm not so lost next year.

Also: Led Zeppelin is awesome music to do death and taxes and other stuff to.