Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On and off again

My blogging dependability goes up and down like a roller coaster when that little something I like to call “Life” (with a big L) gets out of hand. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with how busy I am – I managed to keep a regular routine in October last year, for instance, even though I was up and down and all about trying to make the most out of my last month living in the US. The last few weeks I have not acted very busy, and yet it felt as though my stress levels were at an all time high. I felt busy. I should have been busy. But in reality, I only was mentally busy.

Friday was the day I should have celebrated that two years of hard work on my thesis was over. Instead, I was celebrating that most of my friends were done with their hard work. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy for them. But there is a special kind of bitterness reserved for occasions when you should have been happy for yourself and only get to be happy for others. I managed to keep a brave face for most of the celebration, and rationally I am perfectly capable of admitting that postponing my thesis is not a defeat but a wise decision seeing as this way I’ll be able to actually write one… However, I can assure you that most of the drinks I had on Friday were not celebratory ones, but drinks intended to drown sorrows (which they quite efficiently did, even if I have always been told that sorrows can swim).

That was Friday. Then came Saturday, when I had a few friends over, again largely to celebrate them finishing their theses (while mine has been largely dormant for a while. I think my blogging dependability is similar in essence to my thesis writing dependability. Life gets in the way, somehow). However bitter I might have been deep down inside, though, I had a good time on both Friday and Saturday. Great friends and great wine saw to that. On Sunday, however, I paid the cost for having drowned sorrows two days in a row, and the only thing I could muster the energy to do was bake a cake. Why, you say? Well, surely, you didn’t think we were done celebrating just yet?

On Monday it wasn’t university related, though. May 17th is Norway’s Constitutional Day, which we famously celebrate more thoroughly than most nations. There are national costumes (the bunad), children’s parades, flags, marching bands, hotdogs, ice cream, singing, games, alcohol, cakes (aha!), and general festiveness involved. Most shops, any public offices, hing - even private offices, banks and museums and whatnot – they’re all closed. Everyone has the day off, everyone dresses up, everyone participates in the celebrations. Oslo, a remotely populated city in international terms, suddenly becomes Bombay or Tokyo. There are people everywhere. I spent close to 20 minutes crossing the street, and 20 more trying to locate some friends I was meeting in a space no bigger than 100x50 meters. So it’s crowded.

I had a great time, as I always do on May 17th. It did nothing to help me get my mind back into the right frame for blogging and/or writing my thesis, though. And the fact that my laptop has been showing signs of early dementia did not help.

I’ve gone through (more than) my share of laptops the past few years. Yes, I use my laptops all the time. No, I don’t think that should be a reason for them breaking down all the time. My first one, Laptop the First, was brand new when I moved to Oslo six years ago. It stood with me through thick and thin, it travelled continents and it fought on my side when I battled term papers during my first years at the university. However, three years old it decided that enough was enough. It very nearly died several times, and when I took it to get it repaired, there was nothing they could do. They informed me that it would slowly be reduced until one day it would be entirely dead.

Sad as that was, I couldn’t go laptopless (a term my friend Tara coined a while ago), now could I? So I invested in a new machine. It was shiny and new and wonderful and – broken. Right from the start. I took it back. They claimed I only needed to reinstall the operative system. I think I did that three times, along with several other attempts to figure out what was the matter with Laptop the Second. After eight months, however, I finally managed to convince the shop to take it back and return my money. Thus, I went looking for Laptop the Third. Laptop the Third and I immediately hit it off. We’ve been together for a year and a half now, and once again I felt that I had found a friend that would support me through thick and thin. Only then it stopped doing that. With a dead battery a laptop is not very reliable, so when I took it back to the shop I knew that I had to be without it for a few weeks at least. Which suited me very badly, seeing is my laptop is my number one working tool and I have a deadline coming up.

The prospect of being laptopless for even a short time (especially right now – had I trusted Laptop the Third to live through the next month without crashing completely I might not have acted rashly) was terrible. I have for some time been ogling those mini laptops that you can practically put in your pocket. Even though Laptop the Third is relatively small, it is still heavy to carry, and having to transport it back and forth to the university all the time is not very good, for me or the laptop. A smaller laptop, though, could easily fit into any bag or backpack, and if I had two I wouldn’t actually have to carry either anywhere at all. I could keep one at home and one at the university.

I probably would have bought the mini laptop at some point anyway, but having to let go of Laptop the Third for a while made me hasten my decision. I can’t really afford it. I don’t strictly need it (I have access to computers at the university, after all). But I really, really wanted it. And granting myself things I want is one of my favourite tactics to ignore sorrows and stress…

Yup, we’re back at the stress part. One final thing that has been weighing on me lately is my pending move to a new apartment. I have been very happy/very unhappy with my living arrangement the previous six months. Unhappy because they decisively are “arrangements”. Sharing an apartment with a friend will always lead to some tension, but doing do when the apartment only has one bedroom… Ah. NO privacy;, no opportunities for “I am feeling gunky because of my stupid thesis and I want to sit in the dark in my own room and cry”; and very little control over your own situation, really. On the bright side we’ve had shared dinners, we’ve had weekly Glee-downtime together and we’ve danced to Madonna at one AM just because we could. Besides, I have come to appreciate the area. Living downtown made me feel insecure and claustrophobic at first, but now I like being able to walk everywhere (except the university, which is what I will be able to access on foot from my new apartment), I love the parks, the shops, the cafés, the people. I think my new neighbourhood will probably suit me even better, but right now it only feels remote.

Regardless of where I move to or from, however, I hatehatehate the process. Packing everything down, not being entirely sure what you’ll need and what you can let go… Most of my stuff have lived in boxes for a year, so I barely remembered what I owned. Now I need to figure out what t I should take with me, what I should leave behind and what it is time to throw out for good. Transitions such as these are probably good to clear your mind (and clean up your storage space), but I never seem to get past the disorganized mess before there is order. I only hope I will be able to get sorted out quickly, so that my new home will feel like a home.

When Life with a big L, with all its small (laptopmess) and big (moving; thesis failure worry syndrome) events take charge it becomes almost impossible to keep a cool distance to it all. I find myself unable to blog, unable to write, unable to work. It is a passing condition, I know from experience, and so I promise with confidence that I will come back stronger in all these aspects. In the meantime I shall try not to let Life get the better off me, but at the same time let it control me a little. Because sometimes Life just means taking the day off, sitting in the sun, eating ice cream.

For the record, I did buy a mini laptop today (how else did you think I was writing this?). Laptop the Fourth is cute, but I sense that it is merely a fling until Laptop the Third is back in my arms again. It will be handy having two laptops, and the eeny-tiny feeling wears off surprisingly fast (it now seems normal sized, after having typed up this post). But it doesn’t feel like the Laptop of my Life.


Marjorie said...

Transitions are hard, but I know you will get through it just fine. I'm going through a bit of a transitional periond too. I might not have too hard a time adjusting, but I think James might.

Jan Morrison said...

That is a fair amount of disappointment to wade through. It is hard not being able to finish something we want to when we want to even if you know you've made the right choice. Perhaps you need to invite your more eccentric friends over for an "Extended Theses Deadline Celebration". I would certainly come if I were not in Nova Scotia that is! I would bring a bottle of tequilla and we could play caps at some point and I could teach you some good old Nova Scotian songs.
As to the moving, well, I have looked on my moves as a way to really see what is important - stuff wise - and pare down. I've moved (just a minute, I have to write it down)42 times. Yep. And I'm 58 yrs. old. Whew! That's a lot. I hope I don't have to move for awhile. I've lived here in the house my love and I designed and built for almost five years which I think is the longest ever for me. When the kids are gone, we'll move again to a smaller place.
Please be ever so kind to yourself. Give yourself lots of space and room and time and know that the things you are doing are tough and you must do them at your own space. I'll read you whenever you appear and it doesn't matter a whit to me if there are long spaces in our communication.
And I like your personification of laptops. Very funny. I had an IMAC that I hated with all my heart. I bought it and hated it and couldn't do anything about it for years and years. weird.

Watery Tart said...

*hugs Mari*

I think you are my favorite person to read when there is a lot of angst because somehow you are still so darned amusing about it. LOVE the laptop relationship saga story, and I hope your little fling is truly satisfying.

Good luck moving, and YES--be gentle with yourself!

Tundiel said...

*hugs Mari* I agree with Tami - even when you are blogging about the bad things in life, you still make me laugh.... hopefully that means that YOU see the funny side too. Take care my Giraffy friend!

Cruella Collett said...

Marjorie - thanks :) Good luck with your own transitions. I think signing up for photography classes sounds absolutely brilliant for you!

Jan - thank you so much. I really needed to hear that (and I'll hold you to the tequila thing if you ever come to Norway or I ever go to Nova Scotia!)

Tami - thanks. I guess keeping it light in writing helps keeping it light in reality. So I try :)

Tara - thanks you. I do see the funny side, occasionally. Most of the time. Now and then. You know...

The moving went surprisingly smoothly, by the way. No Internet at the new place yet, but it'll get there. For now it's actually sort of nice to be offline for a while.

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