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

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A Busy Couple of Weeks!

Good afternoon, readers! It’s been almost a week since I last posted, and I apologize for my absence. I just thought I’d take some time to explain what’s going on in my usually not-ever-busy life.

Last Friday I was in uni – I had to come, someone brought cake! Then I had about a dozen errands to run due to being away for almost a week beforehand. I bought a new pillow! And let me tell you – a medium high hotel pillow, it’s the width of my bed, it is like sleeping on a cloud! I had planned to relax and maybe do some thesis work over the weekend, but that didn’t happen as I got a call from work asking if I could come on short notice, something to do with a mix-up of who was supposed to work and also someone being sick, so I had to fill in but yay money!

Then there’s this week… Monday started with me having to juggle two laptops and a USB stick in order to get an antivirus program downloaded, that was a nightmare… but I made it to uni at around 1pm! And I stayed until 6.30. On my way into my apartment, I met one of my roommates who informed me he was leaving to pick up his girlfriend from the airport so she’s staying with us for a week. I can’t complain – my boyfriend was here for two weeks in January (but the first week we don’t count because my roommates hadn’t arrived yet so it wasn’t overcrowded). Yesterday, that’s Tuesday, I got to uni at around 10pm and stayed until 6.40 and then walked home with a friend who lives close-by. Yesterday was a very good day, I got a lot of stuff done! But, as I’ve mentioned on here before, a productive day for me usually results in an unproductive one the following day, which is why I’m writing this right now. Yesterday I wrote 1000+ words on my thesis – today I’ve got less than 300. But I don’t want to go home, I don’t feel like I can be lazy, because I have to exploit the time I have to work while I can due to how the rest of the week and next week look:

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the blood bank at 1.30. That means I need to get work done before 1pm – which in all likelihood means I’ll not be going to uni tomorrow, but working from home for maybe two or three hours beforehand; I also need to make sure I eat two decent meals before going down there… And in the evening I’m supposed to be going to a social thing with JEF (Young European Federalists) where a woman is supposed to talk about EU for a little while and then we eat pizza and drink beer (or not, since I’ll be donating blood earlier in the day)… but we’ll see how I feel. On Friday there’s girls’ night at a friend’s house at 6pm, which means I need to study earlier in the day and go home and eat and possibly get my wine if I decide I want to drink that. And on Saturday I’m going out of town at 2pm so I need to have packed and bought the things I still need to buy before Saturday which, with the rest of my week, means I probably need to do that today! Which makes me want to just leave uni right now to get that stuff done… but I feel like I need to work on my thesis since I’ll be away from Saturday until next Thursday and I have so little time left to do things!

Last week I wrote about how I feel like I don’t have enough time to finish my thesis in time because my supervisor wants each chapter by the end of the month and there’s no time to work on the feedback he gives on the previous chapter (at least I think I wrote about this…)… Yeah. All the work I’ve done this week has been on the literature review chapter I sent in at the end of January; I’ve not worked on the methodology chapter I sent in last week at all, and I’ve not started on the chapter that’s supposed to be due at the end of this month either! I’ll have a week when I get back from my trip… I don’t understand how I’m supposed to be done with my entire thesis by the end of April! Well, it’s due on the 15th of May, but I need to send the whole thing in to my supervisor, work on the feedback he gives me, and send it to print by the 10th or 11th, since the 15th is a Monday and they don’t work weekends! I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to finish on time, but I just have to try, and if I can’t then I can’t… It’s my supervisor who’ll be the one to tell me whether he thinks I need to take more time, and I do want a good grade, but I also just want to finish…

Anyway, that’s my rant of the day! How’s everyone doing this week?

~ Julie

The Great Bikini Problem

Two posts in one day – what a treat! Well. Depends on whether you like long rants and text that’s not accompanied by any sort of pictures. Anyway. Like I said in my previous post, I’ve spent this weekend with my parents and brother in my childhood home. I also said there were four reasons why I went home, not counting the fact that I like spending time with my family and given the options of doing that or sitting in my bedroom in the city, there wouldn’t even be a  discussion on which one I’d choose. My last post was about one of the reasons I went home, this one is another (or, at least part of it).

I needed to get my swimsuits. Bikinis. Two-piece swim suits. Beach wear. Whatever you call it. The stuff you wear to the beach when you want to go swimming. I needed to pick up some of that, and I knew I had several here.

One of them, a very patterned bikini from a few years ago (read: 7 years ago), was completely ruined. The elastic in the waist on the bottoms and the part you tie around your body on the upper half was completely gone, probably due to bad washing after swimming pools and lakes and oceans. So that had to go in the trash.

Next up was a purple one with white polka dots, bought at the same time, but used less. That one had a safety pin put in on the side of the bottoms to hold it together. I removed it, and the bottoms fit better than they ever have (I should mention that I probably weigh more but I am a lot happier with my body now than I was a few years ago and I know I’m healthier than I was when I bought these). GREAT, I thought, I have bottoms that fit. The top however – can I just say OW! Much squeeze. So ow. Not very nice looking – or comfortable. This one used to be too loose, just like the bottoms, but the bottoms now fit and the top is too tight. Oh well. Next bikini.

I found a dark blue bikini I also bought a few years ago, although I don’t remember when. This is the kind where you have to tie everything, and a naughty person pulling on one piece might make everything incredibly awkward for you. And what do you know – another bottom that both fit well and looked good! The same situation happened with the top here, which also had the same style as the previous one… However, I was in luck – my mom had given me a top that didn’t fit her that was exactly the same color, and that one wasn’t so bad! At least I can wear it without being squished. But I would worry about it falling off, going up or down… Either way, moving on.

I have a bikini top that I bought less than two years ago to wear at home with shorts if it got incredibly hot that summer – it didn’t. The top was only ever tried on in a fitting room where I decided it looked good. Who knew that breasts could change size so quickly in your early 20s, when you haven’t really changed much else in your life? Back then, I’d been working out quite a bit. I’d gone from a B cup to a C cup, and down in the size around the body. However, in the last year I’ve gone up yet another cup size, and I don’t know what’s caused this, about 10 years later than you’d expect! Either way, the beautiful top I got a year and a half ago is way too small and going onto my donation pile as it’s not visibly used (as it should be, since I haven’t used it)!

That left me with one more set to try on, a tankini I bought about three years ago. Back then I didn’t think I was that unhappy with my body, just that I didn’t like stuff too revealing, but in retrospect I can clearly see that I was not happy with myself at all. This tankini is kinda cool – it has a halterneck top, but from the breasts and down there is a crochet kind of material that covers your body down to your hips. The bottoms are high wasted and cover up all the things I usually cover with jeans, at least in the stomach area. And I’m not throwing this one away – however, it’s not what I want to wear to the beach on vacation now, I want something a little less covered up.

So that leaves me with the dark blue bikini from three paragraphs ago. But my mom told me of a shop in the city where they sell pieces separately, in other words the more body friendly way of doing it, and the staff are comfortable and helpful as well. My mom told me to go there, as I haven’t bought anything new in three years (that I’ve used) and I also haven’t gone swimming since then. She told me to indulge myself, to treat myself to something new. So at some point this next week I’m going shopping, and trying to resolve this ever-lasting bikini problem.

Anyone else ever experience fashion crises like this? Anyone got any stories they want to share?

~ Julie

Photo Sprinkle from England

Hello good people! In Norwegian we have a word we use, “bildedryss” which is like a sprinkle or drizzle of pictures, but I can’t think of a similar word in English… Anyone got any suggestions, leave a comment and let me know! 🙂

I flew to Gatwick on Sunday night, my boyfriend and I spent all of Monday in London (we stayed at Premier Inn Croydon Town Centre, I highly recommend it!), and took the train up to Lincolnshire where he lives on Tuesday. Stayed in Wednesday and Thursday to rest and recover, then we went to Lincoln on Friday. Stayed in on the weekend, and yesterday (Monday) I flew back to Trondheim. I have a few good pictures from Londo and Lincoln, and since someone asked me to share, here they are! Oh and there’s also one of my duty free shopping – my flight was delayed so I did some extra shopping!

Okay so the pictures uploaded in reversed order, but I can’t be bothered to change it now. They’re all cell phone pictures, by the way. I didn’t want to drag my camera around with me.

My duty free shopping from yesterday – my flight got delayed so I had some time!

Tibby and Lucky (two of Matthew’s cats) cuddling ❤

Lincoln Cathedral lit up at night

An old Roman arch in Lincoln

A street musician on top of Lincoln Steep Hill, playing the guitar on the street between Lincoln Cathedral (in the background) and Lincoln Castle (not in the picture). His music was so nice to listen to!

Our breakfast on our Lincoln day – we went to this really cute place called Madame Waffle and had waffles and coffee before we started our day! ❤

Hotel Breakfast (my first plate of several because YUM!) at the Premier Inn East Croydon Town Centre (again: I highly recommend it! It’s right next to the train station, only a short train ride away from the center of London)!

London Eye behind the Household Cavalry Museum next to St. James’s Park and the House Guards Parade 

A superfood salad at Jamie’s Italian restaurant (not the best lunch I’ve had but it looked super healthy!)

We made our way to the most expensive part of the Monopoly board! I don’t know what this park is called, but it’s in Mayfair and we had a lovely time sitting on a bench enjoying the sun!

Had a croissant and coffee at the Natural History Museum! I didn’t take many pictures there but the ones I did didn’t look good – too many people and not many good angles to take pictures from… It was an awesome museum though!

Hope everyone is having a good day!

~ Julie

London Calling…

Very original title, right? I know. I’m just so excited! In less than 5 hours I’ll be airborne and on my way to one of the best cities in the world! I’ll try not to go all Joey Tribbiani on it… Haha! Nah, I didn’t in August so I won’t this time either… But I am excited!

Tomorrow we’re gonna start by getting breakfast somewhere, then we’re going to the Natural History Museum when it opens because we didn’t get a chance to go in there last time, the line was too long and it was too late in the day. After that, I don’t know what we’re going to do actually! We’ve got a couple of places where we want to go for food, and and in the evening we’re going to see Jack Whitehall at the Wembley Arena!

Anyway, I’ve got to go finish packing my last few things, I have to be at the bus stop in 15 minutes because I want to get to the airport early!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

~ Julie