Festive and Hectic

Well, it’s Christmas Day, which means I am two days from boarding a plane and hurtling across the planet for only the third time in my life. Which also means my pre-flight OMG WE’RE TOTALLY GONNA CRASH anxiety is in full swing, so I have been both grinding my teeth in my sleep (headache city) and nervously talking to people about how I hope my plane doesn’t crash, ha ha, sorry, just a quirky little phobia of mine!

I am a delight, pre-travel.

Still. I am ready to go, more or less. I do have to get yet another new bottle of Advil PM, because I bought one the other day, but in my general pre-flight Swedish Death Cleaning ritual, I seem to have thrown it out. Which is very, very annoying, because I want to be DONE with packing. I have thought about nothing but packing since I bought my ticket, and in the weeks leading up to this trip I made the decision to go from checking a big roller suitcase and carrying on a backpack, to checking a small roller suitcase and carrying on a backpack, to finally carrying on a backpack and a purse, no suitcase, no checking anything.


The first shift in thinking came about while I was studying maps of Bergen. Bergen is a walkable city, but also a slightly hilly one. I thought about dragging my big hard-sided suitcase the half-mile from the airport bus stop to my rental apartment and I winced. I was already going to be so tired, then I have to drag a big suitcase around the city? Or spend money on a taxi or an Uber for half a mile? No, thank you. I took a deep breath and reconsidered my packing plan and what I would have at my disposal in Norway (laundry facilities). Then I set about discarding items and rearranging everything into my smaller rolling suitcase, and I was pleased.

Then my carefully selected American Airlines flight out of Dallas got canceled. I think it was the early stages of American realizing they’d made that little computer glitch that gave all their pilots the entire week of Christmas off, but they weren’t fully aware of what was happening – in any case, my flight was canceled, and because of the glitch, there were no alternative flights to Chicago on American, and because SAS has so few US airline partners and the US has so few airlines at this point anyway

Long story short (too late!) I ended up on United, and I have been unhappy and tense about it ever since. I’ve never flown them, I have always gone out of my way to avoid them, but here we are. I dithered a few weeks and then thought, “Nope. Nope. I’m not checking a bag with United and trusting that they’ll get it over to SAS. Not when I’m going through O’Hare. Not doing it.”

I checked baggage allowances for all the airlines, determined that I could carry on my small rolling suitcase and a good purse, and started to rearrange things. And it was working. I was discarding things it turned out I wasn’t going to be able to bring anyway, I remembered I hate wearing jeans so why was I bringing them when I could layer fleece and cotton leggings and leg warmers, I ditched all but one paperback novel, and when my laptop started having problems, it was a no-brainer to decide not to bring it, too.

And then. And then. Then I remembered that Bergen is a very old European city. At once the sound of dragging even a small roller suitcase over cobblestones filled my head, and I went searching for a backpack. Well, for a minute, I went searching for a strap to turn my tiny rolling suitcase into a backpack, but one, the image of me strapping a suitcase to my back was absurd and two, those strap systems turned out to be expensive enough that it was silly to not just buy a nice backpack. So I did.

The Hynes Eagle 38L Weekender in Gray (not an affiliate link) – there is a larger version, but it runs afoul of SAS’s carry-on dimensions by about two inches, and I wasn’t taking any chances. I like it a great deal. Lots of pockets for things like notebooks and thin paperbacks, and it opens up like a suitcase. It does lack interior sectioning, but that’s a problem easily solved with my other new best friend, packing cubes.

That’s it – the blue compression bags are my clothes, and there’s another non-compression packing cube under the toiletries, it’s holding a bag of rosewater wipes, an umbrella, my outlet conversion plugs and charging cables, and other assorted things.

I even still have room for souvenirs, though since I am not taking United on the way home, I might check the backpack and buy a small little daypack for carrying home extra things. Like a few jars of Nugatti, which is Norway’s answer to Nutella, but like, better. Apparently. I do not like Nutella, but upon hearing of the existence of Nugatti, my friends that do like Nutella were very enthusiastic about getting their hands on some.

Anyway, the point is, I leave in two days and I am very, very organized, and I like it.

Still had a nice Christmas, though. In lieu of a tree, I decorated my Provence lavender bush:

Then I went to Jessica’s for Christmas prime rib and a potato gratin that has taken years off my life with all the dairy content, but is utterly, utterly worth it. Also a gingerbread cake with maple cream cheese frosting that I had to take home my share of because I was stuffed full of hot cheesy potatoes.

(I am in the process of emptying my fridge before I travel, and so tomorrow I am going to cook up some tasso ham I had left from making brussels sprouts for the dinner, and add it to the gratin that I took home, and it will be epic as hell)

And, since I won’t be near a computer to make a post for New Year’s…

2017 has been…a year. Not wholly a good year (I mean, just look at the “leaders” of our nation…), but for me personally it has been a year of thinking, and deciding, and planning. A year of endings and beginnings. I set some intentions last New Year’s, and I have done pretty okay with them, so…I will keep going. Going, and growing. You’re never too old to grow, it turns out.

And I do not just mean my butt, from all the delicious cheesy potatoes.

Happiest of holidays, friends, and I will see you in 2018.

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