Do you have any hidden talents? he asked me.
Well, how do I answer that?

As we saunter through life on our stroll of consciousness we find to our surprise that there are a few things that we can do that people find more or less extraordinary.

I have always loved singing, and people tell me that I’m really good at it. They ask me how I got so good, so I tell them I’ve been singing since I could talk and perhaps even before that. It started early, I was encouraged to continue. It was fun – so I kept singing.

Most of our talents are like that. We discover them early. We discover that there is something that we enjoy doing, so we do that thing. Practice makes perfect, as they say. At first the notes were probably not very sweet, but my heart was there.
If you keep working on something, you become more proficient at it. If what you’re working on makes you happy, you want to do it even more. This applies to most things and it’s worth remembering.

But then there’s this thing.

Hidden talent.

And I’m not talking about something you’re good at that you don’t tell people. I’m talking about those things that you are really good at. Things even you didn’t know you could do. Perhaps you’re like me, constantly doubting yourself and your abilities. Or maybe you just never had the opportunity to try something.

Let me take you back to the middle of November.

I go through a box of things that I hadn’t unpacked yet after moving. In the box was a bag of stuff that I  hadn’t had time to sort and see if I wanted to keep. Basically a bag of rubbish that I wasn’t ready to part with yet. Among the rubbish was a keyring with a tiny Rubik’s Cube attached to it. I gave it a try. It was tricky but fun. And then, to my surprise, it was done. It’s probably not a very impressive skill but it surprised me how easy I found it.

What else could I do that I thought I wasn’t capable of doing?

In another part of my life I’ve been wondering what challenges I should give myself. I feel a great urge to learn and develop and create something amazing.

I am definitely finishing my book this year.
I am practicing my instruments.
I am studying Japanese.
– I am looking into computer programming.

What if I had this amazing talent for coding that I didn’t know about? How can I know if I don’t look into it?

Do you have any hidden talents? He asked me.
I sure hope so, I answered.

Advertisements

Queen of Hearts

Love is one of the most common themes in literature, music, and the arts. It’s one of those emotions that you think you know what it is but if you were forced to describe it you’d be lost for words. You would get into the tricky business of defining what you could feel love for. You’d find yourself in the business of defining different types of love and get caught up trying to defend it from being confused with friendship and or lust.

The heart is often a symbolic representation of this emotion. In fact it’s a symbol of the centre of all emotions. The broken heart, the burning heart, the black heart. The symbolic representation of the heart carries a very minor, close to non-existent, resemblance to the actual, anatomical heart.

Love as an emotion has been a big fascination for me, as an artist, as a writer of stories and lyrics. Symbolism and metaphors have always intrigued me, in the sense that it’s a code or a different type of language, using pictures to convey messages and to communicate.

The anatomical heart has fascinated me for a few years now, and I was both thrilled and a little scared to spend time in cardiology at the end of last year. We were pretty sure that nothing was wrong. But the fear is there, no matter how hard you try to ignore it.
There’s not much in this world makes you feel as helpless as when you’re watching the person you love getting wired up, electrodes on his bare chest, in a sterile room with fluorescent lights.

The heart is important. It needs to be taken good care of.

When I was 22 I had a friend who was a magician. He made up a card trick that he said was just for me, although I always suspected that he said that to every woman in his life. He called the trick “The Queen of Hearts” and it was a dazzling number of misdirection while moving the Queen of Hearts all over the deck of cards, all over his person, and finally into the front pocket, right above his heart. The last time he performed it to me he gave me the card and I’ve kept it with me ever since.

What’s in our metaphorical hearts is precious and we might deal out the cards profusely and honestly but we never deal them out lightly. We save our most treasured affection for the worthy, for those that truly see us and lets us be ourselves. We cram people into our hearts and find to our surprise that there’s more room there than we first might have suspected. Full of family, and friends, and perhaps someone you have romantic feelings for.

For Christmas, after the handful of cardiological expeditions to the hospital, I got a stethoscope. A real one, dark blue and double sided. Double sided means that one side of it has a drum with a diaphragm for hearing the high frequencies, and a bell side for hearing the lower frequencies. You twist the stem and you hear something from a slightly different spectrum.

This Valentine’s Day I wish you so much more than commercial gimmicks and forced traditions. I hope you indulge in true connections that lets you hear all the high and low frequencies. In people that value you for who you are, and in something that makes your heart beat a little faster.

With love,
Amle

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

The Fault in our Stars has been raved about by so many, but as I live in a cave (metaphorically) I have managed to avoid any spoilers and I will spare you, fellow cave person, of the spoilers too.

Hazel is seventeen and she has terminal cancer. She has been terminal since diagnosis and she is accepting of the fact that life is finite. She’s trying to live within her limited restrictions, not creating too many ripples. In an attempt at keeping her parents happy, she agrees to go to Cancer Kid Support Group. The group was meant as a way to relieve depression and for her to make friends. Hazel finds the group even more depressing than she first imagined. What else can you think when the members of the group keep dying and only gets renewed by another set of young people, that are also dying.
But one day Augustus is there. He shows up as moral support for another member of the group. Hazel and Augustus connect, and their lives change completely from that moment on.

First to the negatives. Let me stress that I judge only from my own taste, knowledge, and experience. I wish no offence to anyone who likes (or loathes) this book, and I most certainly mean no offence to John Green.
I had a hard time identifying with our main character Hazel. She had a working brain but her affection towards Augustus didn’t feel organic. I don’t think I had enough time to observe him, to see what she saw. I couldn’t understand what attracted her to him in the first place but that didn’t stop me from accepting it and going along with the story.

Now to the likes.
I liked the way that the most important thing in life was something other than cancer.
I liked the horrible needlepoint.
I liked that it was an easy read.
I liked the way Hazel’s dad talked, even if he was just a tiny part of the story.
I liked that some infinities are bigger than other infinities.
I liked how Green showed that what you wish for, might not be what you wish it was.

I give this book a resounding – Okay.

It was back to school today for most of the French children. My co-workers, the ones with children, came in to work a little later than usual, the dropping off had been done. Some of the kids went there for the first time, some were old enough to tell their parents to go to work or just get out of there and stop embarrassing them.

I honestly can’t remember any of my first days back after summer holidays. I just have a vague feeling of how I wanted to get back to school and my classmates. I suppose the fact that I usually had my birthday at school start helped blur the lines of what was a prioritised memory or not. I can’t say for sure.
Last week was my birthday and it wasn’t celebrated in any grand fashion at all. I got an extra kiss on my cheek from a colleague, I was taken out for a lovely dinner by my partner, and I got to hear my parents sing to me over a distance of approximately 3470 km.
 
 
Despite the fact that I turned thirty, which I hear is something most people dread, I was happy to finally leave my twenties behind me, to be closer to the age I feel in my mind.
Despite the even-ness and all the celebration that number should entail I was too distracted to really care. I was trying to pack as much and many of my belongings as I could into cardboard boxes and prepare for the end of the work week when I would get the keys to the house.
I’m here now, pretty much all installed. The first thing I conquered was the kitchen. I scrubbed it from top to bottom and filled it with things I love. I claimed it my own and have already managed to perform tiny, delicious wonders in it.
Most rooms are, if slightly empty with only an echo, habitable and unpacked. Going from a tiny flat to a big house without buying a large amount of new furniture does that I’ve noticed. It makes for a lot of free space. We’re not in a hurry. We like it here and want to stay for a while. There’s plenty of time to fill the rooms and decorate.
My home office is already starting to look great. I’ve found all the screws and bits to assemble my old desk that had been hiding in a closet these past three years. It is an inanimate object, I know, but I am convinced that it likes it better here than in the mould over in the old place.
All my books are unpacked but hardly in any organised fashion. I have huge stacks of them all over the desk. I’m thinking a few good bookcases is first on my to-buy list. If I had been handy enough I’d build them but I don’t have the tools and not enough know-how to figure out where to start. Perhaps I could ask someone for help, we’ll see.
 
It has been less than a week since my first full day here in the house and I have already forgotten most of the details. It sort of like going back to school. I knew I wanted to go, and it was fantastic when I finally got there. There’ll be no tests or exams this time but there will be challenges all the same. I have no idea what I should study for but I look forward to seeing what the future holds. Thirty is going to be a great year.

Fifteen times. That’s the number of times I’ve moved, including this one. Twice from one country to another. Soon I’m getting to live in the sixteenth place I’ve called home and I hope I will be able to stay there, happy and safe, for a long time.
I spent my morning packing things in the “kitchen” that won’t be used in the next week. I only saved two of each from the cutlery and plates out for us to use. The cupboards are very empty looking, which is a grand feat for such a tiny flat.
I’ve also packed most of my books. I put the heavy, pretty tomes in small cardboard boxes. Small, so they’re easy and light to carry. I put a few of my less sensitive paperbacks in my lovely four wheeled suitcase – Something I warmly recommend if you ever have to move and have a lot of books. Save your arms and back.

IMG_0256.JPG

Tomorrow will be a day to go through the closet. Sort out what to donate, throw, and take along. I hope there won’t be too many things damaged by the mould, that I noticed had attacked my winter coat in the closet, and I hope I have the sense to throw away the things that are broken beyond repair.

One week until we get the keys to the new place and I’m very excited and impatient to get there. The first place in France I get to live in that’s bigger than a shoebox. The first house since I moved away from my parents. The sixteenth place I get to call home.

So many months since I wrote here last but I’ll try to briefly recap some of the major events as best as I can.

January
held a large surprise in that I got a job offer, it was supposed to last for two weeks, then a month, and at the end of that month I was asked to stay until the end of the year. It is a job I’m still today learning to perform fully but I enjoy it very much and I feel that I’m making a difference. It doesn’t exactly make the world tremble of change but it creates a tiny shiver and I’m mighty proud of that minuscule undulation of good that I can actually do.
A cat came to visit, a very sick and undernourished cat. We took him in, we bathed, and healed, and fed, and loved him. He has been sharing our home for nine months now and our other fur babies have accepted him in the pride.

February
was all about work. Learning new things, trying to get everyone’s names right, getting used to a hundred cheek-kisses a day and so on. We had a big event where people from all our offices around the globe came over. There were meetings and greetings and I managed to charm the heck out of one or two people. Plus I got to speak, albeit briefly, twice to the CEO.
I saw, for the first time, a picture of my best friend’s baby bump. Living far away was a little more difficult than usual then.

March
The beginning of March was spent in bed with the flu. After that I spent a lot of time thinking up food things that I could make since I had an income and I was finally able to relax about my finances. After being unemployed for several years it was strange to get used to spending. It was very odd and wonderful to not have a completely empty kitchen at the end of the month.
An online friend published a book and I received a signed copy (Link to the book here)
I ate frog legs for the first time. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t so bad. It tastes, not so surprising, like frog and it has a texture that is a mixture between fish and chicken.

April
Björn (my better half) threw his back out and was forced to stay at home and not move for a few days. Work related illnesses at 32yo seems a bit too early.
I was asked if I wanted to be a godmother to my best friend’s baby. I said yes.

May
A beautiful baby girl was born up in the north of Sweden. My mind circulated about news and worrying about her as she spent many of her first days of life in the hospital.

June
Saw Queens of the Stone Age live. The sound was awful but the evening was great.
I studied a lot of German and I worked, worked, worked.

July
I wrote a story. We decided that enough is enough and it was time to look for a safer, bigger, and better place to live.
The flat became a health hazard after, as we found out much later, a water leak next door but the owner of our current home refuses to let us move out earlier. All walls have been attacked by mould, things have been ruined, the air is often uncomfortable to breathe.

August
Took a trip to Sweden to become a godmother to the happiest and most wonderful child I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Saw my family, and my best friend and her family. Sang, and ate, and celebrated my birthday a little early together with them.

And here we are, back from our short vacation trip. We just found a house that we love and will soon move into.
Reading through my diary notes from the past nine months has been very interesting. It feels like so much has happened and at the same time so little.

I hope it was interesting in some way to hear, if briefly, what has happened over here and I hope you will be around to hear about my upcoming creative projects and musings.
Until next time, my friends.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Yule warm and bright
With good food and people you don’t have to fight
I wish you a good rest
I wish you a song
I wish you a heart where love sings strong 

I wish you a Happy New Year of health and good times
I wish so much more than can fit in these rhymes
I wish you adventure
I wish a full year
I wish you to spend time with those you hold dear

 I wish you all this
And all other good things too
So, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

To you

Image

I love re-reading good books. Every time I read them I notice something new or see something from a new perspective. Each time I read those words, new things have happened in my life, so each time is different. Each time I fool myself into thinking that I already know everything there is to know about the story, and after each time I feel that there’s a new detail that is clearer to me.

The past few weeks I have dedicated a lot of my reading time to poetry. I am determined to find poetry that speaks to me. I want to find a poet that I enjoy reading. It has not been easy but some day I will succeed.
After reading some of the dreariest and driest verses ever penned in the history of mankind, I was mentally beat. These poems I had just finished were written by an author whom I admire. He has written some of the most magnificent stories I’ve ever read. Who this person is, is not important at the moment, sufficient to say I was incredibly disappointed and thoroughly bored.

That’s when I decided to set up an award system. A way to compensate for the torture I was putting my brain through. I would reward myself with a re-reading of a book I love. To layer each poem I tried to digest, with a few pages of something really enjoyable.

So I started the next tome of poetry, a collection of W. B. Yeats, and I started my old-tried-and-true-re-read. First of all I want to say that I, to my surprise, honestly liked some of the poems I read. But the biggest surprise was that, in this book that I have read ( and re-read more than ten times,) there are references to a Yeats poem that I had just read.

My mind was blown and I kept having that poem turning and turning at the back of my mind during the rest of the book. There had been so many common symbols, even a quotation. There had been a recurring theme in both poem and book. It had been there all along and I had not known, had not seen what was hidden in there. 

Sometimes, the new experiences we have in life will show us things that were hidden to us. Things we never imagined possible. We get thrown into situations that will change the way we see everything around us, for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we wonder how we could have been so blind how we could have missed the signs. Other times we just marvel at the wonderful way it all turns out. Just like a good book, we can never tell what life will give us with just a quick glance. We have to give it time and attention, and maybe some day we can say that we are getting closer to knowing what is really going on.

Advertisements