I almost never do a “this is what I did today” blog. Partly because I almost never write my posts on the day I publish them. I usually let them simmer for a while, and I like to get a second or third read-through with fresh eyes which can only be achieved if I write it first, then leave it for a while, and then read it again. This gives me the ability to spot terrible writing, and the strength to cut it like a mad butcher. (Take this paragraph. Absolutely hopeless. I expect to molest it to smithereens before finally being satisfied with it [unless I will keep it the way it currently is to make a point. Oh, dang, now that I said it, I kind of have to, don’t I?].)
The other reason I don’t do “this is what I did today” posts is because I have absolutely no need for this blog to turn into my personal (yet very public) diary. I used to keep diaries (well, one at the time…). When I visited my parents over the Easter break, I found some of my old diaries, and boy am I glad those aren’t public material... Some of it probably should be – if it’s true that laughter is healthy, I should be sentenced for keeping this miracle drug to myself.
Back when I kept a diary I was surprisingly audience-aware (even if I pointed out a number of times that the only audience for whom I was writing was myself). I was concerned with voice, language, structure – all the things I now consider when composing texts were already then tools I actively used (more or less consciously) to make a readable diary.
A third reason I normally avoid “this is what I did today” (if I am going to continue using this term I very soon need to invent an abbreviation for it – TIWIDT?) posts is that my life often isn’t all that exciting on a day-to-day basis. A lot of my blog posts would sound something like this: “I got up between 6 am and 7.30 am (entirely depending on how long I bothered hitting the snooze button before actually leaving bed – usually somewhere between 3 and 50 times. No kidding). Had a shower, took the tram to the university. Sat at my desk for X hours, only interrupted by Y number of breaks. Took the tram back home. Slept.” Boring!
Today, however, has been an out of the ordinary sort of day. So if I ever was to do a TIWIDT post, this would be the time.
Oslo seems to be the kind of city where it’s either awesome or awful to be. It’s never, or at least rarely, “just okay”. Today was one of the awesome days. The sun was shining, and believe you me, after five months of winter and one month of rain (slightly exaggerated on both accounts, but not by a lot) we deserve some sun. When it finally showed up, however, it was so brilliant that it hardly feels like it’s been gone at all. I think my face freckled up after about ten minutes outside (alright – I’m exaggerating again – first of all we had lots of sun yesterday as well, and secondly I spent about 7 hours outside today, so I was expecting spring freckles).
I’m not the only one who feels this way. It takes no more than ten degrees (celcius) and half an hour of sun before Osloensians (we aren’t called that. I don’t really know what we are called. So I made up a name. I do that a lot…) are popping up everywhere, smiling, wearing short sleeves, eating ice cream or drinking beer (utepils – "outdoors beer" – is a common term here). If I had told a foreigner walking around in Oslo two weeks ago that the city has half a million inhabitants he wouldn’t have believed it, because there were no one to be seen. If I had told him today, he might be inclined to think I was making an understatement. Oslo does have half a million inhabitants, and today all of them were outside (or so it seemed).
I too acted like a proper Osloensian (it’s catching on!) today and enjoyed just how lovely this city can be in springtime. My roommate and I walked to a museum I’ve been meaning to visit for a while. The Nobel Peace Center (whose giraffe mascot I wrote a blog post about a while back) has been featuring an exhibit called “From King to Obama”, showing the links between the two Nobel Peace Prize laureates (cleverly summed up in the following quote: “Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Barack could run. Barack ran so our children can fly.”). As the quote perhaps also shows, the exhibit somewhat glorified both King and Obama. However, since the exhibit was focusing on the Nobel Peace Prize aspect of both their journeys I suppose there was little point in emphasizing any controversies.
After the exhibit (and the gift shop. Let’s not forget the gift shop. I almost always prefer the gift show [shop. I might subconsciously have given the answer to why I always prefer the gift shop. Clearly I mistake it for a show!] to the actual museum no matter how interesting the exhibits…) we had lunch – outside, naturally (this is also part of the Oslo spring – every little café will magically conjure up at least one table with a couple of chairs, and voila – people can enjoy their coffee/beer/meal/ice cream at the risk of freezing to death. Very charming). There we also met another friend of mine, before both my friends left me to walk around on my own. I went to the fortress, where I took some very poor pictures (in my defense, I was blinded by the sun), before a friend called up asking if I wanted ice cream. Of course I did.
I had some spare time before the ice cream appointment, so I went to a bookshop (probably the only one in Oslo that is open on a Sunday) to see if I could find a copy of The Secret Garden. This little piece of information has so many digressions tied to it that even I don’t know where to start… Alright, let’s give it a try.
First of all, I always, always read The Secret Garden in spring, and I have for as long as I’ve been able to read. It’s very important that I don’t read it too early (if any more snow falls after I’ve started reading it, spring is ruined), but I can also not read it too late (it’s already late-ish. Anything after April is out of the question). While I recognize that there are books that are better written, more interesting, with better plots and more complex characters; I still considers this as my favourite book. After all, I have read it about 20 times by now.
Seeing as I love it so much, you might wonder why I haven’t purchased it before. Oh, I have! Trust me! I own no less than three copies of this book. The first one is in Norwegian, and this is the copy I have read over and over and over and… And over. I know every little typo (there are plenty) in that copy, and because this is my childhood copy, I must admit I prefer it. For every other book, though, I tend to prefer the original version (that is, if the original version is in a language I can read. So my “original version preference” is pretty much limited to English and Norwegian. And Swedish and Danish, but that is only because they are so similar to Norwegian. It also used to include French, but I haven’t tried reading French for years, so I don’t know how much I’d get out of it now. How stupid was I to let my third language go?!?).
Since I normally prefer the original version, I decided to convert to English for my annual Secret Garden reading a couple of years ago. I bought it in English, and started reading it, but it just wasn’t the same… What I didn’t know, however, was that a good friend of mine (who was at the time living in the US) had bought me another English version, a beautifully illustrated version, even. When she came back with this thoughtful gift for me, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that a) I had already bought a copy; and b) I preferred reading it in Norwegian. So I accepted the present. The following spring (last spring, in fact) when I had to pack most of my books away for long-time storage since I was moving, I chose to keep the illustrated English version in the easy access pile, while the two others went into boxes.
Thus, I only had one of my three copies available this spring. I had completely forgotten that I had packed the other two copies when I promised my sister that she could borrow the book from me this spring. Consequently, I lent her my only remaining copy, and was left with nothing… I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t have another copy, but I also could not face having spring ruined because I could not read it. So I thought that buying another copy was a reasonable solution (I will never be rich. Not as long as there are bookshops in the world). (Un?)Fortunately, my other sister called just as I was about to make the purchase, and she managed to convince me to check a library before buying it (again). So, I still don’t have the book, but I’m guessing that this time tomorrow I will (if the library at the university doesn’t have it, the bookshop probably will. And what are the odds that my sister phones me twice in two days?).
To finish this digression before returning to the actual topic – as far as I know neither my sister nor my friend are regular readers of this blog, so I feel relatively safe writing about this without making anyone feel too bad about the possible ruination of my spring…
(See, this is another reason why I don’t write TIWIDT posts. With my digressionary tendencies, they end up frightfully long! I shall try to hasten my pace…)
I eventually met up with my friends for ice cream. Again, we insisted on sitting outside, even though it was getting chillier by then. Eating ice cream in Oslo in April in sunshine (am I even allowed to have that many in’s in [haha] one sentence?) can be quite pleasant. Eating ice cream in April in Oslo in shade, however, is c-c-cold. But we survived, and afterwards we strolled around to regain normal body temperatures. Oslo (this post should of course be called “On Oslo” [or quite possibly “On The Secret Garden”], but I have reserved that title [the Oslo-one] for a similar-yet-different post that I have in mind for June[-ish]) – Oslo has a relatively new opera house, and it has become a popular attraction for tourists and Osloensians alike. You can walk around on its white marble exterior, looking out over the fjord. It’s very nice, actually. We went there for something of a photo shoot (don’t ask – I have digressed enough as it is), before I finally decided it was time to call it a day.
I made one last stop on my way home – I picked some flowers that to me more than anything say spring. Hestehov [tussilago farfara, or coltsfoot] isn’t actually all that pretty. It doesn’t smell nice, and it grows in such numbers that by many it is considered a weed. Still, it is the first wild flower that appears each spring, and the yellow little heads look like miniature suns stretching towards the sky. In true spirit of this springful day, then, I picked some and brought home where they are now sunning up our kitchen table (I just googled “sunning” to make sure I wasn’t saying something I didn’t know what meant. The definition “the opposite of mooning – involving front” clearly implies that I did… And yet, I am too tired and amused to change it…).
There. I finished my TIWIDT post. I shall post it as it is (with one quick read-though. Just the one), even if it is as long as a Osloensian winter. Now that I think about it, though, the proper title of this post would have been “On spring”. Oh, well…
[Note: if you have actually read through all of the above you also deserve to know that I really meant to post this last night. Just as I typed up the last paragraph, however, my internet connection died. I probably should have interpreted this as a sign that the Internet gods didn't want me to expose anyone to such a lenghty ramble. Seeing as you are reading this, I evidently am not afraid of the wrath of the Internet gods. If you never hear from me again, chances are I should have been afraid...]