The dying breed of libraries


I used to think that libraries were dying. In a world slowly governed by ebooks, physical books are a dying breed (exception being cookbooks and specialist literature).

Now I’m sitting in a library. Not because of the books, but because of the silent study room. I crave silence and alone time in my world, so I escape home to find it elsewhere. I have been to a cafe, and when that got too crowded I came here – to the library. It is what I needed. Silence, that wonderful silence filled with space for my thoughts and creativity. I let myself be bathed in silence. The silence is only being broken by my tapping on the keyboard. Can I tap on the keyboard more silently, I wonder?

Silence on a Saturday – what a privilege! And in a library no less. I now understand that libraries fill an important function. The library is usually filled with students, or people borrowing the computers here. Even in the evenings when the library is closed, I see many foreigners outside with their computers talking to friends or relatives using skype. There is free wireless internet here, you see.

So I like the library – but I will never give up on ebooks. I love reading ebooks on my kindle and having a world of books available in just a few seconds with no heavy books to drag around.

But I do love the service the libraries provide.

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Finding beauty in daily life

Every december these hearts are set up in the centre of Stavanger, and lighted. They mark that Christmas is upon us, and are really what gives me the christmas mood. Unfortunately, they have not been lighted this year.

Being sick for weeks makes for a very grumpy me. There is no time for being alone, replenish the energy stores and life sucks. Now that I have been well for some days, I have been desperate for getting out to cafe’s, stores, everything that is outside of home and those walls that have been my prison for weeks.

I longed for beauty in my life, things that made me happy, things that made me feel that there still were some magic to my life. Finding beauty doesn’t come automatically. Most advice about finding beauty is all about “looking within”, changing your approach and attitude. Well, there is some truth to it, but forget that bullshit. Why?

If you have trouble seeing beauty in your life, it’s because you’re not happy. Something is off, and getting back on track requires more than “thinking” yourself healthy again. If you need to find beauty in your life, you really only need one step:

1. Do something that gives you joy.

Yes, there is only one requirement and it requires action on your part. If you are so far gone that you are unable to feel joy from some action it probably means you are dealing with a depression, and then do something that used to give you joy until you begin feeling it again.

My rule right now is to find something that gives me joy every day. Today that is to go to the cinema to see the last Twilight film. It has terrible actors, terrible dialogs, but a good story and there’s vampires. So I’m sold.

There is beauty in books as well. I really want a book with pictures of krishna deities, but it’s too expensive. Would have loved it, though. A good story has beauty in it.


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The theme of life

Happiness research is the new drug where you practically hit walls with well-meant advice about how to live a happy, prosperous life.  I’m done with all things happiness related now. Why? Well, I have figured it out. It’s not about the word happy which makes you think you are either happy or not (what a ridiculous idea), not even about living an interesting life (though it’s a good track to follow). The first step is about reaching a level of contentment.

Contentment about work and where you want to be. Contentment with finding the boyfriend that treats you like you want and need. Contentment with fulfilling any family dream. Contentment with friends and level of activities in your life. Contentment with who you are, your personality. Contentment in dealing with other peoples troubles with you. Living according to your values.

That’s what happiness research is about. No wonder people get confused considering how widespread our happiness goals can be.

What comes after that? Refinement. You might be overall happy about your life, but there’s always things that needs to be refined. There’s always some hitch on the road to make sure you don’t get stuck in evolving as a human being, like weighing too much.

I’ve always had projects where there’s something to work on: taking better care of myself (by first having a break down), figuring what kind of work I should be doing (I changed from being a programmer to system administrator), finding the correct mate for myself (by breaking up with one relationship, moving to another city and job, selling the old house). I have pretty much turned my life completely around the last four years and dealt with whatever issue I need to deal with. One large issue at a time.

What’s my next issue?

Follow the goal of life. This one is really a large undertaking for the rest of my life and some lifes after that. The end-game.

bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
isad apetasya viparyayo ‘smrtih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
bhaktyaikayesam guru-devatatma
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.2.37)

[Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself with the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is affected by the potency for illusion, called maya. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master whom he should accept as his worshipful deity and as his very life and soul.]

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Was Jadurani re-initiated?

One of the questions that comes now and then is why Jadurani received the name Syamarani by Srila Narayana Maharaja.

This is answered by Naryana Maharaja himself in the book “Walking with a saint” on page 4 which contains transcripts of morning walks and conversations he had with people in 2008.

Narayana Maharaja: Some ISCKON devotees preach that “Narayana Maharaja gives harinama and diksa initiation to the disciples of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and that is why he changed the name of Jadurani to Syamarani.”

Brajanath dasa: They call this re-initiation.

Narayana Maharaja: I never do this. Out of affection, I gave her this name. I cannot address her as Jadurani. I can address her as Syamarani. Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja inspired me to give her this nickname. When she first came to him, he wanted her to understand Krishna’s Goodhood. He therefore gave her the name Jadurani, which is in relation to Krishna in Dvaraka. Now he wants her to further her understanding of Krishna in Vrndavana, so he inspired me to give her the name Syamarani.

So the name Syamarani is a nickname. Syamarani had already received diksa from a pure devotee, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (whith the emphasis on pure). There is no need to be re-initated then, to do so would be breaking vaishnava etiquette. Narayana Maharaja became a siksa guru to Syamarani, she received instructions and further deepening of her sadhana by associating with Narayana Maharaja.

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Day 4: Say no to your poison


Photo by (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This was the day to clean out the cupboards of a certain food you can’t resist. You just can’t stop eating when you have it around.

I struggled with this one, because there weren’t anything that I couldn’t say no too. I thought of coca cola, which we only purchase during the weekend now. Sometimes we don’t even finish up the bottle we have bought.

I thought of candy. Whenever I have it and I don’t eat it up the first day, I finish it the second day. That one is addictive – but I don’t purchase candy often. Every other weekend. I don’t have it around the house – because I eat it up. So what is there to clean up? What is there to say no to?

Because I’m not on a diet. I will not resist something I want. If I want something – I will have it. Period.

So I never quite got the hang of this one. Kathy Freston suggest crowding out those cravings with healthier options and provides recipes for chocolate mousse etc. It does seem like a good idea, and I have tried making several recipes of chocolate mousse (how do you make silken tofu creamy?), one with a bit of luck and lots of chocolate. The vegan version of caramell pudding, wasn’t eatable. Those recipes wasn’t one of those Kathy Freston comes with, though. I haven’t tried any of those yet. Now, what about those cravings?

I may only be on day four in this blog, but I have finished the 30 days in the book – at least in reading it. When I started eating a huge breakfast (and lunch), the cravings was/is gone. What I’m left with is the mental craving. The body is full and satisfied, it’s more the mental satisfaction I get of going to cafe alone, relaxing with a mocca and having a warm cup between my hands. And I always want something in the evenings, for relaxation and destressing.

Whenever I get the real cravings, it’s because I’m hungry. Whenever I relax with chips and candy, it’s the weekend and I’m to watch a movie or something while Simon is sleeping. It’s a dedicated splurge time. If I don’t eat it up that day, I finish it the next day because it taste so good. So I guess what I have to learn is to not purchase too much candy.

From the book:

There’s a reason you can’t resist certain foods even though you know they’re no good for you and even though you have an intense desire to lose weight…. Sugar and fat stimulate the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine, exactly like other addictive drugs do. When we eat fatty or sugary foods, we are flooded with that feel-good brain chemical…

Once we ingest the fatty or sweet good, our bodies say “Ahhhh,” by releasing opiate-like substances into out bloodstream…. The problem is that, just like drugs, we develop a tolerance and need more and more to get to that pleasant place.

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Capturing the city spirit

I’m on vacation in Oslo, the city I have lived in for 12 years or so. It’s the typical cliche: I didn’t know how much I loved this city until I moved to Stavanger. I knew I loved the openness of this city, it’s wide streets and large buildings. Rooms opened by squares and small parks. But what makes Oslo, Oslo? As I wandered the streets and I encountered things that spoke to me – this is Oslo. It was art, art placed around the city. Some very public, some you have to notice. I like art that I find beautiful, that enhances my world. I didn’t even look for it, it came as I wandered and just kept my eyes open.

Ibsen is a famous Norwegian author, and I was walking towards the Ibsen museum when I found myself walking on quotes, shining in silver light. I was walking on the written word in the pavement. Beautiful words, wisdom, words that I somehow found applicable to my own life.

Translation: “I can’t!” or “I don’t know how!”


Translation: “I can’t stand it”

Translation: “with all these ties and considerations anymore…”


Translation: “I have to work myself”

Translation: “out to freedom”

I especially liked that a garbage truck arrived in the picture when the quote contains the words work and freedom.

Art comes in many forms, and it tells something of the society it’s part of.

Every Norwegian expat longs for Norwegian Milk chocolate from Freia (and salty licorice).

What I always notice in Oslo is the buildings. There are those but ugly buildings that I pass and don’t pay any notice. Then, there’s details, colors and you see the love in how the buildings are taken care of.

The colors of these three buildings works so perfectly next to each other.

This building is chock full of details, but they probably doesn’t come forward in this picture.

Then you have the beautiful building with TGI Fridays on Oslo’s main street. The colors of the building is the same as in the logo.

Frognerparken is the typical place for tourist to go because it’s a park with statues of naked people. It is also a place where the natives go to relax, work on their tan, barbeque and be with friends. It’s used a the way New Yorkers use Central Park.

I usually find (naked) people to be a boring subject, but I love everything where life comes forward.

Nobody will ever be able to juggle four babies like this guy, but this is how I feel most of the time dealing with work, my son and boyfriend and everything else that crops up. A combination of playing and drowning.

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I am a little piece of Norway

That’s what it says on the bag – I am a little piece of Norway. Any Norwegian know what this bag is about: Milk chocolate from Freia. It was the best chocolate, could easily be compared to the quality of swiss chocolate.

That was until 1993 when Kraft Food purchased Freia and they started tampering with the recipe. Now, the milk chocolate doesn’t taste the same and they have changed the ingredients using cheaper ones.

Now that I have become a vegan, I don’t eat milk chocolate anymore. Only vegan chocolate.

But I really love this bag. It has colors. Bright, shiny colors.

It’s the bestest bag I have. It’s a little piece of my upbringing.

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Day 3: Eat an apple

Photo by: License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Easy one, right? Not if you’re on a vacation, which I am. If I had been working, this would have been easy. Now that I’m on vacation – not so much. I have may be eaten that apple 4 – 5 times in three weeks or more. At some point I thought that if I kept that apple close to the sofa where I would always see it, I would eat it. I didn’t.

Yesterday I had a driving lesson (I’m working towards getting my drivers license). He looked at me and said: “You have never done a wrong thing your whole life”. He had me pegged down. Even if I were Eve in Paradise, I might not have touched that apple.

I never get hungry enough. Now when I’m not working, having a large breakfast and lunch keeps me satisfied for a long time.

Again, when I go back to work this one will be easy. In the meantime, I’m happy with my meals and eating habits for the moment. This just will rest for a couple of weeks more.

From the book:

“We’ve all heard the old adage ‘An apple a day keep the doctor away.’ A major review published in 2008 out of the German Cancer Research Center found that indeed, compared with those who eat less than an apple a day, those who eat one or more had less risk of oral cancer, cancer of the voice box, breast cancer, and colon, kidney, and ovarian cancer as well. (…)

Apples are a rich source of a particularly powerful type of fiber called pectin. It’s what’s used as a gelling agent to make jams and jellies, and in our stomach it can delay stomach emptying through a similar mechanism. (…)

The feeling of hunger is very much influenced by hormonal signals, and the hormone ghrelin particularly. I think of ghrelin like the hunger gremlin; it pushes and grumbles for more food. Researchers found that when study participants chewed more, their ghrelin levels were reliably lower after meals. So, the longer food is chewed, the less ghrelin is released, and the longer you feel satiated.

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Day 2: Have a hearty breakfast

Tofu scramble with beans in chili sauce

When I started reading “The lean” I googled if others had tried to follow this book – more importantly, did it work? Did people loose weight, feel more energetic, happier? I only found one blog by Jenni Dunning who wrote about it. She managed to get to day 9 and then there’s silence and no words about weight loss. So does this plan suggested in this book work? Well, the vote is still out. The book contains 30 suggestions, and I’m not so sure I will be able to get to Day 9 myself, come to think of it.

The task of the day is then:

  1. Drink enough water
  2. Eat a hearty breakfast

Yes, I have to follow the previous days suggestions as well. I really liked this one because I don’t eat enough. Whenever I have lost weight I have followed the same path: Eat more, more often. Considering I had been constantly hungry for the last week, I decided to eat 3 slices of bread, tofu scramble and tomato beans. Loved it! For lunch I ate a bowl of oatmeal with an apple. Now, these meals contain so much nutrition it lasted a whole day. I only got a bit hungry in the evening, and didn’t bother with dinner some days.

This glorious situation only lasted for a little while, my body got used to a big breakfast and eating the same thing every day got a bit uninteresting. But still, more than two weeks later I eat the same big breakfast, and my body likes it. I’m not uncomfortably hungry any more and the breakfast lasts longer than two hours.

From the book:

Doesn’t skipping breakfast cut down on calories? Short answer? No. You actually need the calories first thing in the morning to jump-start your metabolism. Skipping them will do you no good, as you will only be hungrier and eat more later. (…)

When you eat whole grains, the fiber causes your food to be digested and absorbed into your bloodstream slowly. This helps you to keep your blood sugar in a normal range without getting too high or too low, thus no wild cravings. (…)

If you drink a glass of water every time before you eat, you’ll feel full quicker because some of your stomach volume is taken up by calorie-free water. Well, you can think of fiber as water in food form. Health benefits without any calories.

A note on eggs:

Did you know that one egg has as much cholesterol as an 8-ounce steak? One egg has more cholesterol than a double Quarter Pounder with cheese, and eating one or more per day ups your risk of type 2 diabetes by 77 per cent for women and 58 per cent for men (this from a 2008 study of more than 57,000 people). (…)

A new National Institute of Health-sponsored study appeared in September of 2011, reporting that men who eat 2.5 eggs or more per week have an 81 per cent higher chance of developing lethal prostate cancer.

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Hulu Plus is now on Apple TV

I have been waiting for this: Hulu Plus is now available on Apple TV. So, no I can enjoy both my netflix and hulu plus account. Unfortunately, I’m not so happy with Hulu Plus. It’s an annoyance that many shows can’t be streamed, you have to see it using a browser. Then Hulu Plus doesn’t have a good enough selection of shows. Then they only show the last five episodes from a series, and you have no access to prior seasons and episodes. This isn’t good enough. So why will I continue throwing money at them?

Because they actually do show latest episodes of series. Netflix has more shows and films that are current, but the series is only one season at a time. There is no access to newly aired episodes. Hulu Plus and Netflix fills two different segments. I would have loved that one service provided all of it, but that’s just not how it goes.

So then I’m only left with one option: throw money after both of these services. That’s fine by me.

There is a third option: ITunes. They have an even better selection than these two services (actually, it’s excellent!), but they cost a lot more. Then you have to purchase (or rent) a movie or a series. It costs a lot and then you are bogged down by DRM. That is not a problem as long as you only want to watch it using Apple TV and are willing to spend the money involved – but I’m not. The moment DRM is involved – I get a bit grumpy. Especially when they want a lot of money as well. Then they are not getting my money. Not on this.

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Day 1: Drink water

So what to do when you’re not motivated to loose weight and can’t really stand the thought of dieting? You google, of course! As a vegetarian I then googled for vegetarian weight loss books, and sure enough – Kathy Freston came up with her book “The Lean“. I have had run ins with her before. I had a period in my life where I evaluated pretty much every aspect of my life – including my love life. I came across her book Expect a Miracle: 7 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Right Relationship. If you want to find “The One”, this is the book I used and it did wonders. I must admit, I have a bit of a love affair with Kathy Freston. She writes in a way that I find really inspiring and easy digestible.

So what made “The Lean” sing to me? I mentioned it a bit in my “That Damn Weight” post. I don’t want a diet regime, counting calories and what not. I need a lifestyle change, one I will like.

The Lean” is about loosing weight by crowding out bad habits and replacing them with good ones. She comes up with changes to make, day by day. And now I’m on day 1.

So – drinking water. I can do that. I know this is a good step for me, because I have had countless headaches because of not drinking enough water. I’m constantly dehydrated. Actually, by the time I’m writing this I’m actually 14 days into the books and have followed this step for about two weeks. This is the one step I have been able to follow most of the time. She comes up with a regime of drinking two glass of water before breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner and what not.

Scratch that. I don’t know about you, but making too many rules no matter how good your arguments are – doesn’t work. This is what I did: I have a glass bottle that takes about 1 liter. I fill it up once in the morning and once more whenever I’ve finished that bottle. That way I’m able to drink about 1.5 litres everyday.  That is beside whatever coffee or tea I drink during the day. That works for me, and probably every one else as well, because it’s easy. Though, it wasn’t easy enough so I just started using a 2 litre water pitcher from ikea.

What came as a surprise for me was that drinking 1.5 liters of water every day wasn’t enough. I’ve still had two major headaches because I haven’t been drinking enough water. Sure, once was after I went jogging for about an hour and the other one after going here and there on errands. I was drinking more water than I have done for years, and still it wasn’t enough to keep the headaches back. That goes to show that this one is important for me to follow.

From the book:

A 2010 study published in the journal Obesity found that drinking 17 ounces of water (about 2 cups) before each main meal (a practice known as ‘pre-loading’ in clinical circles) helped significantly reduce participants’ caloric intake. Along with calorie reduction, participants who drank 2 cups of water before meals lost an average of 5 pounds of fat more than those who didn’t over the course of the twelve-week study.

Hydration is critical because it keeps your metabolism working efficiently and helps keep your metabolic rate up. You’ll burn more calories during the day if you’re hydrated.

Staying hydrated also keeps your body’s biological processes working at their fullest potential, and this includes your metabolism.

And there are two more benefits to drinking water: decreased fluid retention and the more efficient removal of cellular waste from your body. (…) Drinking lots of water discourages your body from holding on to water weight.


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That damn weight

A selection of cook and dietsbooks in my book shelves – I have more than these

A couple of weeks ago I reached a weight level I never thought I would reach (except when I was pregnant, but that doesn’t count). So damn! What now? Twice I have lost a lot of weight (15 kilos and more) and twice I have gained that weight back and more. Result:

I’m through with the word diet and dieting.
I’m through with the word weight loss.
I will not count another calorie if my life depended on it.
I feel like strangling every person who says it’s about “calories in and calories out”. That person is clueless. You can only state that it’s about calories in and out, when you have it all figured out and are showing off a nice body to feel superior to those who haven’t solved the weight puzzle. Most likely that person never had a serious weight problem.

Whenever there is a discussion about weight loss and what’s healthy and not, I stay clear of it. I have a ton of knowledge about the subject because it’s an interest I have – especially in terms of research on weight loss which makes the statement “calories in and out” ridiculous. And there is finally more and more research now – serious research. Not only on the physical aspects of weight loss, but also about self discipline which can be viewed upon as a muscle that get’s tired. People subconsciously think fat folks don’t have self discipline, but again, it’s ignorance on their part.

I have come so far as an happy amateur that I understand when the different weight loss diets are bullocks. Like low carb, Grete Roede, Atkins, whatever. But I haven’t solved the puzzle. I have only come to the point where I know bullshit when I hear it.

So what to do when I’m not motivated for loosing weight? I weigh more that I want, but there is no chance in hell I will go on a diet to loose weight. Diet – the word makes me shiver, and not in a good way.

Well, I have known for a long time that if I was to loose weight I had to change my lifestyle. But you don’t change your lifestyle unless you replace a bad habit with another habit that you like. Let me say it again, you have to replace a habit with something you LIKE. If not, then time will make those pounds go right back.

Then I discovered “The Lean” by Kathy Freston. Kathy is a vegan and health activist, without any schooling on the subject, but loves research more than I do. She is talking a language I agree with – it’s not about giving up something, but about crowding out. Finding alternatives that you like and are healthier. So I have already started on it – so hopefully I will write more about it and my experience with it.

So this is my take – I want to feel healthier, I want to have more energy, feeling better. That is my motivation.

But no way in hell will I go on a weight loss regime. No, I’m done with that.

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Life phases

Rocky road up towards Lifjell in Rogaland, Norway

I have met people that have just stopped in their personal growth. Okey, they might had some personality disorders going on, but it really is a symptom of not being able to change. In the blame-game it’s always somebody else’s fault, and there is a lack of taking responsibility in the situation. It can happen when somebody have accused me of some poor qualities that they themselves have, lies, trying to drag me into their attention seeking habits, have greater expectations from me than they have on themselves, interpret my behavior in ridiculous ways.

Now, I have probably done all these things towards others as well.

As I have gotten older and gotten a better understanding of myself, I have become better at not accepting bad behavior from others, and trying to improve mine. My own life is too interesting to let others drag me into their own troubles. What I want is mature, mentally healthy people. That’s what I have been seeking, and I found some great people with a lot of humor as well. I also have become more attuned to people’s (and my own) shortcomings. I find it hard to deal with.

I love stories about people growing. but I don’t care much about stories where somebody have done something wrong, now regrets and tells a heart wrenching story. What is it about our need to celebrate those who commits wrongdoings? Take Steve Jobs who has done great things for design and usability in technology today. His poor ability to treat people decently is well known. His achievements is great, but he is no ideal for me.

No, give me people that does something great AND treat people good at the same time. Take NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who has to deal with 32 owners of NFL teams who all thinks they can do a better job than him. Still, Roger Goodell manages to do the job, and does it good. Or take Sergio Marchionne who resurrected Chrysler and Fiat.When you look at him you wouldn’t think much of him – but he’s CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat. Yes, two large companies and he saved both companies from bankruptcy. Now that’s people I want to learn more from.

I love those stories because growing is what my life is about. I am continually learning to become a better person. I have found myself learning a new lesson, reach a plateau where I celebrate the lesson I have learned, and then something new happens and a new area where I have to grow comes up. I have caught myself thinking “What more can I possibly learn now?” only to experience that I’m only at the beginning. It happens again and again.

Dealing with a baby that had colic was hell, and all I wanted was to be everywhere else than home. I wanted to be with people and talk to people, doing stuff, be outside. That has been my default need for as many years as I can remember. I have been restless and wanted things to happen all the time. I was active externally, and if I weren’t active externally there was a lot going on internally. When everything settled down after the colic and other stuff, I suddenly found myself in a position I haven’t been in before.

All I wanted was to be at home, doing nothing. Not speaking to anybody, not going outside. Just at home in the coach, relaxing. I thought it was just a phase after everything I had gone through, but it continued even after life had normalized. I have always been hungry for things to happen and I used to become a bit depressed if time passed and everything was same old, same old. I needed to experience something new every once in a while to feel alive.

Not now. I have never been this “relaxed” before. I just want to be at home, with my family and everything else doesn’t matter much. I loved going to cafe’s and have a mocca – now I prefer being at home. On the bright side, it saves me some money.

I’ve settled down – but a bit uneasy. Because in that relaxed space I use more time on my religious beliefs. I meditate more, read more. In this new and relaxed state a new need is growing. The need to use my life for a spiritual end and that’s a difficult path to take when I have a family and a job. A need to be in a temple and be with like-minded people. That’s not going to happen any time soon.

Changes can be difficult and scary. I wonder how I’m going to balance this new need. It’s a new change, one I haven’t gone through before. I know it’s going to be a good change, though. All changes are – even the hard ones.

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One of my first memories are of mischief.

I was about two or three years old and in kindergarten. All the children was outside playing. I looked around me and made sure that nobody saw me. Then I opened the gate and ran out. Nobody saw me leave, and I ran down the path to the building where my mother and father worked. I didn’t want anybody to catch me – I was on a field trip.

I didn’t even make it up to the workdesk, but somehow I told the receptionist that I wanted to talk to my dad.
“What is the name of your dad?”, the receptionist asked.
I didn’t understand the question, so I just repeated “Dad”.
I don’t know how they found out who he was, but he came for me. I must have been very lucky because the company had thousands of employees.

I spent the day with both my parents. They worked in the same company.

Many years later I was told that they hadn’t thought of notifying the kindergarten about my (dis)appearance.

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Fast talking, slow listeners

I was looking down the aisle at the ecological store I visit now and then. They have a great selection of vegetarian products and vegetables and I found tempeh and seitan for the first time.

I was paying for the goods when the shopkeeper asked me “Do you want a bag”?

This is a fairly common question that most people know the answer for immediately, but my head was spinning. I already had one bag in my hand, would my groceries fit there and was the groceries I had purchased too heavy for that bag? I also had a backsack, so may be I could put some groceries there. All this questions and decisions was going through my head so I think I took seven seconds before I finally answered no.

“I took some time answering that question, but I had to figure out if I wanted to use the bag I have or not,” I told the shopkeeper.

“Yes, I could see that you were processing the question.”

“My boyfriend sometimes feel resigned because I can spend a long time answering the simplest questions like if I want tea. But I need to feel whether my body want tea or not.”

“Taking some time to think things over isn’t such a bad thing, may be we should do it more,” he answers.

“People talked slower before. We don’t have to go longer than to our grandmothers, and we will hear that today’s generation is talking very fast.”

He nodded like he understood what I was saying.

Then he said, “may be they were better listeners as well.”

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Exhaustingly unexhausted

I should be sleeping now, and I was tired when I went to bed. My brain wouldn’t let me sleep. It was creating sentences that wasn’t sentences, but they want to exist in this world. So here I sit, with the computer on when I should be sleeping and I’m constructing sentences instead. It’s like I’m becoming an addict – just to something that has no narcotic effects at all. I need to write. I’m unable to sleep because I haven’t written something all day.

How many times have I been unable to sleep because I’m angry at something or someone? The situation just plays out in my head again and again, and the emotions play along. It’s impossible to fall asleep when your angry and the adrenaline is raking through the body. I create sentences of the wrongdoings and I’m so wonderfully righteous. Like I would never act badly or say hurtful things.

But there is no adrenaline in my body now, only a need to write. Anything, it doesn’t even have to make sense as long as I’m writing. I don’t have to work through the sentences and try to make them better, just get the words out. Who cares about content? Not my head.

The mind has an agenda of its own and I’m unable to control it. So I write even though sleep is my number one priority next to rest. I have had a hellish four months. I have gone through 2 operations in two months. This is what I have been through:

C-section, colic, milk allergy, chronic gallstones, gallbladder operation. This happened all in two months. After the gallbladder operation I had one week where things started to get normal, then Espen got a really bad dental infection (a small operation was performed on him). It was too soon after everything that had happened, so I was back to breaking down again. Christmas came and during christmas I got some help with Simon and got to relax a little bit even though it’s not the same as being home.

When we finally came home we had one week of normality before Espen had an eye operation. Really, I’m not kidding you. In between four months both me and Espen has had two surgeries each, colic, milk allergy and christmas.

What does it mean to break down? I wondered about that because I really wanted to. I have probably cried more these four months than I have in my whole life. When I called The Norwegian Health Economics Administration (HELFO) in the beginning of January and found out that the hospital hadn’t sent papers for coverage of Simons milk allergy prescription I broke down crying for thirty minutes. As I was crying I knew that what had happened didn’t matter at all. The money we had spent would be repayed, it was only a matter of asking the hospital to send the correct forms (again). But it was one more thing that was going wrong – and everything was going wrong. All the time. During these four months I have only had two weeks of normality, and that is nowhere enough to be okay again. During those two weeks I felt great, but something would happen that get me off balance again. It’s like I’ve been climbing a steep hill that never ends.

And here I sit with a great need to sleep, but I’m wide awake because I need to write. Espen is in recovery from the eye surgery, and we are into the one week where things are getting normal again. I’m wondering what will happen next. Will I only get one week of normality again, or is the cycle broken now?

What does it really mean to break down? I have cried a lot, but I don’t understand how one breaks down. Because no matter how much happens, I deal with it. I have known people who for some reason have been unable to let go of the past, but whatever has happened it’s over but they keep on going about it in their heads. They relive it many times a day, but it’s all in their heads.

For me the mental part is over. It’s my body that somehow are still exhausted, but at the same time I’m not. I need a lot of rest for the moment, so I stay at home and read a lot. I usually need a lot of impulses and activities to be satisfied, but now I have moved in the other direction. I take as much rest as I can at home with Simon. I should be utterly exhausted, but I have energy for what I need to do and more. I’m fine, even happy.

And now my head is calm. Good night, sweet dreams!

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Hvor ble det av personligheten?

Vi har vel alle hørt klisjeen om at når kvinner får barn, så går alle tanker og energi til den nye babyen i huset. Plutselig så følger man med på de underligste og lite delikate ting som fargen på avføringen til babyen, hvordan kvitte seg med snørr, feber og utslett. I barselsgruppen så er 90% av samtalen knyttet til babyen, og jeg begynner å lure på om disse jentene har andre interesser. Vi presset vel ikke vekk interesser, venner og hobbyer når vi fødte? Eller… basert på samtalene i barselsgruppen så skulle jeg nesten tro det.

Det var en dag jeg spurte barselsgruppen om de hadde noen interesser utenom barna. Det ble helt stille i flere sekunder. Så sier den ene kvinnen: Ikke se på meg. Jeg har tre barn.

Men jeg nekter å bli kjedelig. Jeg vil ikke være en av de som kun snakker om barn fordi jeg har en baby i huset. På tross av det så tenker jeg for det meste på babyting. Det er så mye som må ordnes, tenner som kommer og hva som finnes av lindring, hva slags mat jeg kan gi ungen når han begynner å vise interesse for noe annet enn melk, og ikke minst hva som er normalt at ungen skal sove om natten.

Men hva har jeg gjort for å ta vare på mine interesser? Og hva var mine interesser igjen?

Jeg husker ikke, men jeg har lyst til å begynne å trene selv om jeg ikke gjorde det før jeg ble gravid en gang. Jeg abonnerer på flere blader, og skal jeg få med meg hva de inneholder så må jeg notere det ned. Jeg har derimot lest alle artikler jeg kommer over om Lysbakkens meninger om amming, barselsgrupper og pappapermisjon. Før jeg ble gravid, så ville ikke disse temaene ha blitt registrert i hjernebarken en gang. Før jeg fikk baby hadde jeg ikke tid til tv-programmer som gikk på dagtid. Nå kan jeg godt diskutere Dr. Phil med deg, og jeg vil legge følelser i diskusjonen.

Jeg må innrømme det, jeg har blitt en kjedeligere person.

Jeg har ikke energi til å gjøre så mye med det heller.

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Deppa etter barselsgruppe

Det hadde gått 2 1/2 måned siden jeg hadde født den lille terroristen, og endelig skulle jeg på barselsgruppe og møte andre jenter i samme situasjon. Jeg kom flyttende til Stavanger for et år siden, så på den tiden har jeg gått for meg selv og fortvilet. Det blir ikke mange intellektuelle samtaler når man går alene hver dag, og har man en unge med kolikk så sitter man med en haug med spørsmål i den første tiden.

Sakte, men sikkert kom jentene sigende inn, åtte stykker. Det første helsesøsteren begynner å snakke om er hvordan ammingen hadde gått, og jeg er stille. Jentene snakker om smerter, og en av de hadde et ganske ille tilfelle av brystbetennelse. Selv fikk jeg aldri terroristen til å ta til puppen, og fullpumpet i 7 slitsomme uker. Jeg sleit ut en brystpumpe, fant ut at en annen brystpumpe på markedet er den rene svindelen, fant en tredje elektrisk brystpumpe som var fantastisk og prøvde en utmerket manuell pumpe. Det var bare en annen jente i gruppen som var i samme situasjon som meg.

Så tok helsesøsteren opp fødselen som tema – og jeg ble bare enda mer stille. Rundt meg kom historiene, og igjen så skjønte jeg at jeg hadde en kjip fødsel. Hun ene hadde holdt på i 12 timer før hun fødde. Da helsesøsteren spurte meg hvordan det hadde gått sa jeg som sant var at det hadde ikke gått så bra. Jeg hadde rier i 18 timer, og hadde bare 5 cm åpning da jordmødrene og legene bestemte seg for å ta keisersnitt. Helsesøsteren sier at det går bare noen uker før de fleste har “glemt” fødselen og gjerne vil ha flere barn. I affekt sier jeg at jeg vil heller bli sterilisert enn å bli gravid igjen. Det slår meg ikke før mange timer etterpå at det var kanskje ikke tingen å si blant en haug jenter som er i lykketåken over det nye barnet.

For også her er jeg litt utenfor – ikke som alle andre. Det var ingen som gråt og var fullstendig utslitt, og spurte om dette var normalt. Ingen spurte om hvor mye skal en baby sove? Jeg derimot hadde en unge med kolikk, og det viste seg hadde melkeallergi også. Jeg var fullstendig utslitt – og har en ekstrem søvnmangel. Jeg hadde en unge som ikke sov fra kl. åtte om morgenen til ti om kvelden, og bare gråt og gråt. Når jeg kom meg vekk fra han, så hørte jeg allikevel gråten hans i hodet mitt.

Helsesøsteren spurte om noen hadde kjent på barselstårene. Noen av jentene, inkludert meg selv nikker ja. Den ene jenta sier tårene har rent fordi hun vet det kommer til å bli hennes siste unge. Hun ene sier at tårene sitter løst, spesielt når hun så Extreme Makeover.

Extreme Makeover, virkelig?

Her har tårene rent i bøtter og spann fordi jeg har vært så utslitt, og knapt nok sovet i flere måneder. Ungen hylskrek i time etter time, og jeg skrek sammen med han. Desperasjonen hadde ost ut av meg, og jeg hadde knapt nok tid til å pumpe brystmelk fordi terroristen hylskrek og trengte all nærhet jeg kunne gi han.

Og tårene hadde bare rent når hun så Extreme Makover. Virkelig?

Igjen så er jeg stille.

Så er timen over, og folk går hver til sitt. Noen går i par hjemover, mens jeg går alene. Kanskje lik så greit. Jeg ble bare deppa etter timen.

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What makes or breaks a relationship?

Photo by: License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I have no idea how to make a relationship works for years and years. Nowadays I notice whenever marriages ends after about twenty years – let me say it again, twenty years. That’s a long time – an eternity.

That’s a person that you know inside and out – at least for many years and is the most intimate person in your life. You have spend many hours together, every day, for years. Gone on vacations, visited families, have joint friends. You have been bored together, probably raised a couple of kids and endured the strain kids are. Survived countless arguments, sickness and each others less appetizing qualities. You have navigated each others needs, the kids needs and problems, may be even fallen in love with somebody else once or twice and/or somehow endured cheating from one or both sides.

I can only assume that that the marriage slowly over time breaks down unless it suddenly ends with some event triggering it like cheating. I’m more interested in the part where the marriage degrade over time. We are talking about a person that you decide you don’t want in your life anymore, after about twenty years. Slowly you become strangers even though there are twenty years of memories and cherished times together.

I’m trying to convey a feeling here – of how it is to have such a person in your life for so long, and then it ends. I’m not able to wrap my head around it, but at the same time I understand it a little bit. I know how it is when a relationship over time becomes friendship and nothing more. Then one want to keep having that person in ones life, just not as a life partner. But twenty years is a long time, and there has to have been something more there.

There are countless articles about how to make a relationship work, but usually they are superficial and only touch the surface. When I found the found the article Who Are The “Keepers?” The Behaviors of Successful Long-Term Partners, I knew that finally the answer was there. The author, Randi Gunther, focuses on 15 traits these people have.

Let’s not kid our selves, relationship is hard – and easy at the same time. We have to work on ourselves and with the other partner all the time. I asked my boyfriend what he thought would break a relationship over time. His answer was all the compromises one had to make every day and you do it even without thinking. My answer was that the romance/magic would disappear over time, one stopped going out on dates and do something special with your partner even if it is going out for coffee and reading newspapers together. You stopped working on the relationship itself and improve it.

Most likely both are right and are aspects of the truth. The great thing about this article is that most likely the traits listed helps one in dealing with the compromises without one partner getting the brunt over a long time period. The people have qualities that let them keep the magic in the relationships they have. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to work on it and that it comes effortlessly. It just means that they deal with whatever comes up. But if only one part of the relationship are a keeper, then there’s a problem.

A keeper will know when it’s time to leave. Anybody who has watched some episodes of Dr. Phil will have noticed one thing. He always say that you aren’t ready to leave a relationship if you have any unresolved feelings.

You can read more about what traits it is in the article, but here they are:

Trait One – Keepers are self-accountable
Trait Two – Keepers can hold on to their own personal rhythms under stress
Trait Three – Keepers don’t patronize. They find a way to stay interested or they graciously bow out
Trait Four – Keepers see humor as a sacred part of relationships
Trait Five – Keepers know how to stay even
Trait Six – Keepers do not allow guilt to influence their decisions
Trait Seven – Keepers store the “good times”
Trait Eight – Keepers are authentic
Trait Nine – Keepers understand and accept their value in the marketplace
Trait Ten – Keepers look for the value in others
Trait Eleven – Keepers avoid useless energy drains
Trait Twelve – Keepers Know how to Self-Soothe
Trait Thirteen – Keepers seek continuous transformation
Trait Fourteen – Keepers take good care of themselves
Trait Fifteen – Keepers treasure the present moment

When I read the different qualities I know I’m a keeper, but I still have a lot to work on. I need to take better care of myself, learn to treasure the present moment better. I’m getting better and better at avoiding useless energy drains but I still need work in that area. I’m terrible at storing the good times – I think. But all in all, I know I’m on the right path. I just have to see if my boyfriend agree ;)


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What can the future hold for publishing houses?

Photo by: License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Branding doesn’t seem to be a term publishing houses are aware of, but they should be. Walking into a book store today you see a lot of merchandise that isn’t connected to books, and one can question whether bookstores as they are today will survive, especially when we see a big bookstore chain like Borders files for bankruptcy. In Norway most bookstores are owned by publishing houses and they are slowly moving towards publishing books as ebooks. So what has publishing to do with branding?

So far publishing houses has focused on the physical product that they deliver – the book. They have an untapped market – which is to provide a service connected to the books they sell. Branding the authors themselves, create forums to discuss the books, let the authors have blogs, facebook fan pages and interact with their fans.By offering their authors and readers these services, they create a multitude of marketing options for themselves. They can easily create excitement about new projects for the readers and make them aware of books that can be of interest of them (within the same genre).

They should learn a thing or two from the film industry where they create games and merchandise based upon best selling movies and books. Publishers can create merchandise like t-shirts, mugs and pens connected to bestselling books and sell it within bookstores they own or not.

If not the publishing houses do it, at least the authors themselves should look upon themselves as a brand. J.K. Rowling is onto something with the pottermore site when it’s available to the public. I have no access to the beta trials, but what I have heard is that pottermore is like a game where you play into the different chapters of the books. You get selected into a Hogwarts house based upon questions you have answered and have to find a wand that matches your personality.

There’s not many authors that has as much success as Rowling and one certainly don’t have to make things as elaborate as described above. Creating a website about the author and a forum will go a long way.

Look at one of my favorite authors: Brandon Sanderson. He has an official site, and even though I think the site itself is horrible, it’s there and I usually find what I’m looking for. On the left side you can see what he is working on and how far he is along. I love that I now see that he has Stormlight 2 up on his board even though he hasn’t started. I’m a fan of his facebook fan page and I like that I know he recently was on a Mythbuster show. I like Mythbuster too. I used to follow the podcast Writing Excuses where he and some other folks talk about how to write books. Now this is a guy after my own heart where he have multiple interests and projects at the same time.

That’s exactly the wisdom I would loved if the publishing houses had caught a sniff of. The readers want to know more of the books, the world the books are in, the authors and what shows they like and why. Readers want to buy t-shirts that only insiders/readers of the same books understand.

Do I think publishers will understand this? No, but the authors are already moving past them.


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