The Norway Thing

I am avoiding sending an email that I know is important, but that also has a high likelihood of turning into a conversation I do not have the spoons for, sooooo…here we are.

I guess now is a good a time as any to talk about the Norway thing I mentioned a couple of posts back?

I thought I did a blog post about my New Year’s Eve 2016, but evidently not so much. Well, that was where it all started. With a glass of prosecco, a candle, and a good hard think about resolutions.

I cleaned my apartment, bought black eyed peas, backed up my manuscript (book three was done, but not sent to my editor just yet), set four shiny quarters out on my doorstep to soak up some New Year’s moonlight, lit candles, and sat down with my prosecco. I had never been much for resolutions in the past, and I wasn’t really into starting up with them now, but I did have some ideas for self-improvement that I was definitely into since I was staring down at my 40th birthday, so I concentrated on that.

Don’t remember most of them, to be honest. God, I cannot believe I didn’t write about this before.

But I do remember this: I wanted to continue the fitness kick I had been on in 2016, and I wanted to go to Norway.

Right, that still explains nothing.

When I was seventeen years old, the Winter Olympics were held in Lillehammer, Norway and its surrounds. Before then, my vague knowledge of Norway was that it was the country next to where Astrid Lindgren was from, and it was a short trip across the water from Björk’s homeland.

After? I was obsessed. NBC did way too good a job that year with making the interstitial segments absolutely gorgeous. I mean, I am sure it helps that Norway itself is breathtakingly beautiful by all accounts. But NBC basically used all their interstitial time to go, wow, isn’t this country great? And teenaged Lissa sure did think it was. Teenaged Lissa absolutely wanted to go to Lillehammer and drink aquavit and try downhill skiing and hiking and, like, a whole entire host of things I had never in my life been interested in doing. I definitely wanted to wear lots of Fair Isle sweaters too, but to be fair, I had been into those for a while, and you just don’t get much opportunity to wear cozy thick woolen sweaters in Louisiana.

Also it would be a few years before I discovered that lanolin tends to make me break out. Wait, where was I?

Right. Eventually with the stresses of college and family, my little obsession faded, because I was sort of focused on general survival and figuring out life. Plus somewhere along the line I decided it was silly to want to visit Norway. Who went to Norway? Normal people took trips to like, England or Spain or France when they went to Europe. And I was really hyped on the idea of being “normal” since I was kind of struggling to be who it was expected I should be as opposed to who I wanted to be.

So I tucked my Nordic dreams away and thought very little about them for a very long time. I had a lot to work out for myself.

After a while, after I had started to accept myself as myself, things began to come along to remind me of the dreams. I sat with my ex-boyfriend to watch World Idol and lost my ever-loving mind for Kurt Nilsen. The Frogmen of Bergen on Google Maps made me laugh. I started to hear Morning Mood from Peer Gynt a lot (Edvard Grieg is a Norwegian composer). a-ha, a favorite band since I was a kid, kept putting out awesome albums and doing live concerts that would show up on TV every so often. My best friend introduced me to the music of Katzenjammer. Ylvis went viral with The Fox – which I avoided at first, but when Someone Like Me came across my Tumblr dash, I nearly choked to death on my laughter. I would see photos of beautiful landscapes and they’d mostly be Iceland, but when they weren’t, they were Norway.

And then. Then, last December, SKAM happened.

Before SKAM, all those little Norwegian reminders were largely musical and easily consigned to oh-isn’t-that-nice land. But SKAM, a slightly soapy teen drama broadcast on the internet in “real-time” clips throughout a week, was filmed with a loving hand to its cinematography by a team of people who clearly adored their homeland. All that vague back-of-the-brain affection I’d had for Norway since 1994 came roaring back to the surface.

I started to study the language. I found TV shows to watch and radio programs to listen to (apart from SKAM, but my SKAM love really does still run strong, because on top of the great cinematography it was actually also a well-written and interesting show with characters you really got invested in?). And I tossed aside the deeply-rooted notion that Norway wasn’t a premier destination for vacationing and pledged that in 2017, I would go. Not only that, I would go for New Year’s, because I believe in the concept of starting as you mean to go on, and starting 2018 in Norway seemed like a stellar way to go on.

I think that brings us up to speed. For a while, I wasn’t sure what city to visit, but then I took all the major, massive hints from the universe (so many!) that Bergen was where I should land, and so that decision was made.

One night, alone and bored and with nothing to do, I hopped over to AirBNB and looked up apartments. The first one on the list that came up was a highly-rated rare find (apparently that means it is usually booked) that seemed to be in close proximity to pretty much everything I had decided I wanted to see in Bergen. So I grabbed it. Turns out it’s literally half a block from a yarn shop. Well then!

Then there were a couple of months there I wasn’t sure I would be able to swing the plane ticket, and that made me anxious because if ever I was going to keep a promise to myself, this was the one I wanted it to be (especially considering that the fitness goal I had set kept getting sidetracked by injuries). Then I started working from home (a real money-saver, even if on the interpersonal level, I struggle) and my credit card limit got bumped up, and I ended up being able to snag a pretty good fare.

I got my passport renewed, my friend Alice might come with me to ring in 2018, I was gifted a coat that is perfectly suited for the rainy chill of Bergen in December, and I think I can actually hold a brief general conversation not only in Norwegian, but using the Bergen dialect.

Also Bergen is an hour from Dale. As in Dale of Norway, famous knitwear design company? Of course I have to go. And there’s a knitting museum about 40 minutes from Bergen as well…I mean, basically, if you like music and culture and knitting, Bergen is where you want to go. I am so here for all of it, holy crap.

I mean you also have to really like rain, but, I’m okay with that.

(you really, really have to like rain, as in, when Seattle says wow that city gets a lot of rain and they are completely serious…)

So. I’ve got just over a month and a half to go. I booked my apartment back in August and my plane ticket in September, so I have already been completely obsessively insufferable everywhere I go because this is all I can talk about now. I would apologize for that, but this is literally a dream coming true, and I would like to remind everyone that my first book came out in 2015, and that was also a dream come true, and I haven’t shut up about that either, so if you know me, this is just how things are. Have a glass of wine, enjoy the cheese plate. The Brie is excellent this year.

Okay, so, that’s the Norway thing explained!

I guess I have to go send that email now.

Maybe I’ll make dinner first…

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