Mission First, People Always

So, I don’t know if you guys know this, and I don’t remember if I’ve ever blogged about this, but I know I haven’t recently, so here we go. My dad is a Major in the Royal Norwegian Air Force. He joined the military when he was 18, met my mom when he was almost 24, and they had me, and my brother. My parents are still together, a rarity these days, so I consider myself lucky.

For the last few years, I’ve noticed it especially since I moved to the city and started uni, every time there’s something involving military families on a TV show, whether it be good or bad, I always tear up and get emotional. Every time I rewatch Army Wives, it’s really just me crying my way through 7 seasons one episode at a time. But occasionally there is military stuff on other shows too, cop shows, medical shows, even comedy/family type shows do episodes dedicated to the armed forces. In Norway, life in a military family is quite different from that we see on shows like Army Wives; I didn’t grow up on a base or post or anything like that, but there are still things that are true for every family, regardless of where they live.

And that is your loved one being away. Whether it is your dad, mom, brother, sister, son, daughter… being away from someone is never easy, especially when you know that they are in a dangerous situation. Thinking back to my childhood, I remember my dad being away three times. Once to Turkey, twice to Italy. I know he was in Italy during the Kosovo war, but back then I didn’t know what that was or meant. I just knew that my dad was away and we didn’t know when he’d be back.

There is particularly one morning that I remember from when my dad was in Italy, and that was the last morning we had together. I remember because I’d had to give my teacher in school (I was in the first grade)  a note beforehand, notifying her that I would be late for school because daddy was going to war and we didn’t know when we’d see him again, so we were gonna have a family breakfast together. And I remember eggs, which we normally only had on Sundays, and orange juice.

I don’t remember much of my dad being away. I remember before I started school, when I was in daycare, my mom was driving me and she let me eat breakfast at home before we left, whereas when my dad took me there on his way to work I had to take breakfast with me and eat it there. I remember my dad coming back. Once, I got a pink kitchen for my Barbie dolls. I think that was from Turkey. I know I have some jewelry from Turkey as well, but I don’t remember getting it. Once, I got roller skates. And my brother got a tiny bike with Mickey Mouse on it that my dad had in his suitcase, which was crazy! I remember ridiculously green aloe-vera. And a giant plastic bag of coins – most of which have disappeared, some I still have in my room at my parents’ house. But I don’t remember asking my mom about him. I don’t remember whether he missed any holidays or birthdays. I don’t remember much of him being gone at all.

Maybe that’s just the way the brain works. Defense mechanisms, blocking out painful memories. After all, this all happened before I turned 7, and how much does one really remember from that age, apart from select memories, good or bad, that somehow made it through? I remember one thing from back when I was 2, my earliest memory is from after I fell off the slide in my back yard, and my mom had to call my dad to take me to the ER to get stitches on my forehead – I remember holding a washcloth to my head, it was red, but I don’t know if that was the washcloth or blood. That was probably traumatic. But that was a single event, not weeks and months at a time.

A few years later, my dad got a job in a different part of the country. I think my mom didn’t want to move, didn’t want to uproot our lives in our hometown, because it was decided that my dad would commute. Apparently he was gone for 2-3 weeks at a time in the beginning, but I don’t remember much of that either. This was towards the end of my mandatory education, I know he had this job for a few years and got a new one while I did my exchange year in high school, so it was at least most of my middle school years, if not all. Towards the end though, he left at 7am on Tuesday mornings and arrived back home around 7.30pm Thursday nights. I remember that time a lot, especially when I was in middle school which ended at 2pm, because I would have a larger meal after school because dinner would be late on Thursdays (we usually eat dinner between 4 and 5). Funny, how many of my memories are related to food, isn’t it?

My dad’s new job required travels to the US, but at least that was only 2-3 weeks every time and only a couple times a year at most. But now he doesn’t have that job anymore either. He did go to the US before Christmas though, I got some nice presents, including a coffee mug and some lovely tea!

Where my dad works now… it’s closer to home, but he has to travel a lot. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a few days or a week… but now he’s been gone for 3 weeks and not been able to come home on weekends even. I thought that it wouldn’t affect me, since I’m not home either, but I think a lot about how it affects my mom. My brother lives at home, but he has school and friends and social stuff so he’s not there all the time, and my mom is home alone, which makes me feel bad for not being there. But he got to go home yesterday, and I’m going home on Monday, so at least I’ll get to see my entire family then. I haven’t spoken to my dad since Easter, except for a few text messages, which feels weird. So I’m happy I get to go home and spend our Constitution day (May 17th) with him and the rest of my family!

I wanted to write something earlier this week, as last Monday, May 8th, is a significant day for Norway and for military men and women present and past. We call it Liberation Day, because it is the day that World War II ended and Norway was no longer occupied by the Nazis. It’s also our Veteran’s Day. Some say that the focus should be exclusively on the Veterans of WWII, but I am among those who believe that ALL Veterans should be honored on this day. War, no matter what you call the war, is gruesome, and it affects the people in uniform as well as their families. Happy late Veteran’s Day, dad.

Now, you might be wondering what’s with the title of this entry. It’s a military quote, I first heard it on Army Wives. As I am writing this, I am remembering that I’ve definitely written about this before. I thought at first it was on tumblr, but I couldn’t find it, and then I realized that this will actually be the 2nd entry on my blog with this title; you can read the first one here. You don’t need to read the whole thing, the most important bit is at the top, which I’ll recap for you here now:

This is a quote I learned when I was watching the Lifetime TV show Army Wives. However, I did grow up with a father in uniform. And this is one of my all-time favorite quotes. When I told a friend about it, he didn’t get it. But then I explained.

To me it’s like, people are what matter, people are what’s important. Not all people – but like, the people that matter to you. Your friends, family, who you love… They’re the most important thing in your life. And I’ll always choose them over doing something. Not like, use them to avoid doing something I wanna do but like, if/when they need me, I’ll choose them over sleep and I’ll ditch a lecture and I’ll drop what I’d been looking forward to doing on my day off to be with them because they’re more important than things. Mission first. People always.

The quote within the quote is a bit messy, because that was copy pasted from a conversation I had through some social media or other, and my thoughts aren’t always coherent when I’m trying to explain something. But I hope you get the gist of it.

And speaking of incoherent – this entry might be becoming it. So I think I want to end it here.

Have any of my readers got people close to them in uniform?

~ Julie

Just Not My Night

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Or, it’s 2am here, I don’t know how you greet people at 2am… Anyway, story time! 

Today was supposed to be a good day. I watched some TV, called my boyfriend, ordered plane and train tickets to visit him, and then I was supposed to visit a friend who turned in her Master’s thesis today. 

On my way out of the door, however, my beloved Hedwig key chain from the Platform 9 3/4 shop at Kings Cross Station in London, broke. 

And now I can’t get my key back on it at all. I’m considering putting it all in a ziplock bag and taking it with me when I go there at the end of the month, since I only bought it a few months ago, and ask if it would be possible to exchange it for a new one, since I’ve not been abusing it and it just snapped, which it shouldn’t, considering their stuff is quite pricey. Can’t hurt to ask anyway, worst they can do is say no… 

All was well at my friend’s house, we made cupcakes and had a lovely time. She gave me a present for helping her proofreading: a bottle of Riesling white wine with butterflies on the bottle, and three books she knows I’ve been wanting for over a year: The Selection, The Elite, and The One. I’ve read them on my Kindle, but I really enjoyed them and they’re so pretty. I really didn’t expect it – I would’ve been happy with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But I’m beyond happy with my present! As I was packing my stuff to leave, she asked if I wanted a plastic bag, but I said I was alright because I had my handbag. In hindsight, I should’ve accepted the bag. 

I’d only walked a few houses down her street, when the shoulder strap on my handbag snapped. The bag hit the ground, and the wine bottle smashed, all over the stuff I had in it. Since it was nearly 1am and not a soul was in sight, I left my stuff and ran back to my friend’s house, knocking frantically on her door. I briefly explained what had happened and she gave me a plastic bag. I ran back. My handbag was full of wine and broken glass, but I managed to get all of my stuff out and into the plastic bag. I carried the handbag all the way home, stopped under a street lamp to make sure I’d got all my stuff out, and then threw it in the trash. 

The books my friend gave me were mostly intact – just a little bit of damage to the edges, mostly due to the other wet stuff in the plastic bag, as they had been wrapped in the wrapping paper when the bottle smashed. Everything else, however, was soaked. My wallet, the little bag I keep my most essential essential oils in, a pack of ibuprofen, sunglasses, powerbank (portable charger), and the bullet journal I’ve only been using for a month. My oils were fine, it’s been proven before that it’s apparently not easy to smash Young Living bottles! My compact powder looked completely untouched, I threw out the powder puff thingy though – it was cheap and from H&M so no huge loss there. Everything else has been rinsed out, and I didn’t have any cash, only cards. It remains to be seen if they will work tomorrow. My powerbank will probably need to be thrown out as I’ll need to get a new one, but I’ll consult my brother tomorrow. I once had an iPod that survived a washing machine and worked for years after, so we’ll see. 

Worst off, then, was my bullet journal, especially this week’s spread and next week’s, that I only made earlier today. 

The following two pages don’t look so great either, so I guess I’ll just skip those, or write this story on them, or something. 

The strap of my handbag was already one being shared by two different bags, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it broke. But I guess it was about time to get a new one now, then, anyway. It sucks that I’ll probably need a new powerbank, and that I lost a bottle of wine and one of the two CapriSuns I had in my purse, but my books are okay and and the rest of my bullet journal isn’t so bad – it’s mostly just the few pages around where my pen had been left inside it. My pen still works. Everything else will be fine. Depending on the wine smell, I might need to get a new wallet, but that one was old anyway. 

And I’m okay, and thats what’s important, my boyfriend said. Poor thing, I woke him up by calling him after this happened, and he didn’t sleep much last night or today. I feel bad. But I also feel grateful to have someone like him in my life, someone I want to call while walking home in the middle of the night, being upset and annoyed, carrying a handbag full of broken glass and wine. Someone who answers when I call because they know I’m calling because I need to talk to them. Sure, some crappy things happened in the last few hours, but I also spent it with and talking to wonderful people, and for that I am grateful. 

Until next time, 

~ Julie 

I feel old…

Right next to where I live, there is an elementary school, and a middle school. These are just the terms I use, since I’ve lived in the US; you might call them something else. Elementary in Norway is 1st through 7th grade, middle is 8th through 10th, and that’s all the compulsory school there is; it’s illegal for a parent not to have their child attend school for those 10 years (I don’t know the rules regarding home-school, long term illness and such, but in general, 10 years of school is compulsory). Next month, it’ll be 9 years since I finished grade 10, and I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but living next to a school triggers memories of when you were in school yourself.

I was not yet 6 years old when I started 1st grade, and I had to walk to the middle school to take the bus to the elementary school. I remembered getting in line for the bus, and being scared by the middle school kids, because they were so much older, and scary. But I noticed things about them – some of them smoked, which was something only adults were allowed to do. Some of them wore a lot of black and a lot of makeup. And some of them wore chokers. This was in 1998.

Almost 20 years later, chokers are now back in fashion. The last few years, I’ve started noticing things that I remember from my childhood coming back, and it’s a weird feeling when you notice it for the first time. When I was in maybe 5th grade I was allowed to get a rainbow colored choker, and a while later I got a black one (black was edgy, and a little bit scary). Being almost 25 and seeing them back in style now, is weird, and personally I cannot imagine myself wearing one. It’ll probably happen, someday, when I find one I like, but I can’t imagine it. The same goes for faded, light blue jeans that are not skinny jeans. And mustard yellow clothing. I cannot imagine wearing it, because I remember it being worn by older people when I was a child. I know that fashion always goes around, but I didn’t expect it to come back around so soon.

I probably make myself sound old.

There is a development up the hill from where I live. I live at the bottom of the hill, and a bit further down the road is where the schools are. A lot of the school children live further up the hill, and therefore I can see them walking past my window around 2pm every day that I am home. And one thing that I’ve noticed is the surprising amount of people who wear sweatpants to school. When I was a child, sweatpants is something you only wore when you were sick. I didn’t even wear them when traveling in a car for 10 hours. For many years I didn’t even own a pair. And now everyone wears them, all the time. When I was in school, we wore jeans. Boot cut jeans, most of the time, before jeans that had cuffs around the ankles became popular. And at some point it was in to have your socks on the outside of your jeans, to imitate cuffs, before cuff jeans were a thing. And at one point, camouflage pants in all colors were in, too; around 7th-8th grade for me. I had a pink and a blue pair. And hoodies, from “WOW”, at the same time. I only ever owned one because they were expensive.

And if you didn’t wear makeup, you were weird. I found that out on my first day of middle school, when it was just me and one other girl who didn’t wear any. She had chosen not to – but no one had informed me of the unspoken rule of popularity that if you didn’t wear makeup you were weird. I haven’t studied the faces of the girls walking past my window, so I don’t know if they wear makeup or not. I know some girls in town walk around with a full face of makeup and sweatpants. Such a contradiction, to me. If I’m gonna do my makeup, I’m gonna wear proper clothes. If I’m gonna wear sweatpants, I’m not gonna bother putting on any makeup, or at least not more than some mascara at most. But that might just be me.

I find it strange how, at the age of almost 25, I’m sat here feeling old, because fashion is recurring and I’m shaking my head at the clothes worn by girls in middle school. I’m sure people my age have always done that. I just didn’t really realize it until just now.

Until  next time,

~ Julie

13 Reasons Why: My Honest Opinion

Hello, beautiful readers! I know it’s been a while… I was unable to finish a post a day for April, but I don’t care too much. My blog is still here, and I know I can write whenever I want to. And there’s no point in forcing oneself to post every day, or on a schedule, if one does not feel like writing. If you don’t feel like writing, anything you write will more than likely turn out like crap, so it’s better to wait until you feel like writing to write, in my opinion.

Yesterday, I watched all 13 episodes of the Netflix original series, 13 Reasons Why. It’s very likely that anything written after this sentence will contain spoilers, so you should stop reading now, if you don’t want any spoilers whatsoever (although, with the Internet being what it is, you’ve probably seen some already anyway).

I watched 13 Reasons Why in one sitting. I started it sometime in the afternoon, and I finished at 1.30am. Naturally, I had breaks to make food and get myself hot drinks and use the bathroom, but I didn’t watch anything else from the moment I started episode 1 until the moment I finished episode 13. I wanted to watch it because I’d seen people tweeting about it, how deep it is, how they couldn’t stop crying at the end of it… So I thought I’d give it a try. Now, you might think that, because I watched it all in one go and didn’t take breaks other than to make food, that I found the show to be so incredibly good.

I did not. I have mixed feelings about the show, actually. I thought it was well made; I kept watching because I needed to know what happened next, whose tape would come up next, why Clay was on the list, when it seemed like he was such a good friend to Hannah, or at least tried to be. He didn’t humiliate her by sending her picture to everyone at school, or publish her writing without her consent, or steal her compliments from her paper bag for revenge. I was glad he didn’t deserve to be on the tapes though. I said I have mixed feelings about the show – I’m not entirely sure I liked it. I don’t think I’ll be rewatching it, at least not anytime soon.

The other students kept saying that Hannah lied, that what she said isn’t what happened. Toni had a good point – she was telling her truth. Because two people can witness a situation and experience it and what is the truth in two completely different ways. That’s why eye witness’ testimonies can be unreliable, right? Every person is different, every person’s mind works in a unique way, making their experiences unique to that person. And everything that happens affects everyone differently. One of the guys, I don’t remember who, said that nothing happened to Hannah that didn’t happen to every other girl in high school, inferring that the people on the tapes can’t be responsible for Hannah killing herself. But Hannah wasn’t every other girl, Hannah was Hannah, and how she experienced these things were different from how other girls did.

I read somewhere that when people kill themselves, it’s not because of one big thing. It’s all the little things, that add up until it becomes unbearable. I know that feeling. You cry, and people ask you what’s wrong, and you say you don’t know because it’s not just this one thing that you can say, it’s many little things, it’s everything. But how people handle it varies from person to person. Clay took a really long time to listen to the tapes, longer than any of the others. Alex listened through all of them in one night, the first time he listened to them. Clay had anxiety. Skye was a cutter. Hannah slit her wrists in the bathtub and died. Alex shot himself in the head but is in critical care. And was it just me, or did Tyler have a gun in his room, at the bottom of that trunk or whatever it was? I remember thinking, “he’s gonna shoot up the school”.

Maybe, to some, this show is deep. I didn’t find it deep. I found it exploratory, in the way that it explored the different ways the mind works. But it wasn’t earth shattering-oh my god this is so deep-deep, not to me anyway. I didn’t cry at the end. I felt sick, watching the suicide scene, but I didn’t cry. The show didn’t make me realize a lot of things. I read a review posted on a Norwegian website, where the author wrote that, at its worst, the show is awkward and full of cliches, but at its best, it is truly heartbreaking. Furthermore, the author wrote that the show is more important than it is good. A little more humor would have been nice, because even at its worst, high school isn’t entirely without it. And the show deals with important topics, such as peer pressure, drinking, sex, sexuality, bullying, and, of course, suicide. But I felt that Hannah was a bit unfair. She says all these people contributed to her taking her own life, that they broke hear heart and spirit and soul. But she couldn’t have thought about what kind of damage she would be inflicting on them by making and sending out these tapes, making each and every one of them listen to them and hear not only what they did but what 12 other people did (well, 11, because Justin had two tapes), threatening that they are being watched and that all tapes will be released to the public if any one of them fails to do what she tells them to. Not her problem, right? Because she’s dead. And you can’t blame a dead girl, can you?

Anyway. I’ve probably rambled on for long enough, so I’ll stop here. Anyone else watched 13 Reasons Why? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments!

~ Julie