Thursday, March 29, 2012

How To Have A Long Distance Relationship

Sometimes before I fall asleep at night I wonder how it is that I ended up sleeping next to the guy I call my husband.

How did we get here?? How did we make it through 2.5 years of a long distance relationship and have a good outcome??

This isn't a 'how-to' guide, this was just our experience.

We pretty much started out long distance and unsure of what to expect.

We downloaded Skype, we video-chatted, we made expensive phone calls, and wrote expensive text messages.

There's a 9 hour time difference from California to Norway, so we made a plan to Skype everyday while I was on my lunch break at work, around the time when Stian was going to bed in Norway.

Each day I hauled my computer to work. I would leave the house with my arms too full and dropping things. I had my purse, a sweater, my lunch, my yellow travel mug holding my tea to drink while I commuted, my phone balancing on top of my mug, my breakfast often sliding around on a plate, and always my computer. I don't think I ever forgot it. It was an art just to get into my car.

I ate lunch in my car and made sure to park it as close to the internet router as possible (which was just outside the office) and hope there was a good connection that day. I would crawl into the backseat so I could sit with my feet hanging over the driver's seat, balance the computer on my shins, and eat my lunch while I found out about Stian's day.

Most days we were able to chat for the whole hour, many days we weren't. Sometimes we sat in silence - he read the news online, I checked my email and Facebook, read some jokes, and ate my lunch. On weekends, occasionally we would fall asleep while talking. We were "hanging out."

We counted down the days until we saw each other again. We were annoyed that we were doing this, and yet somehow compelled to continue.

We spent a lot of time in airports. We anticipated the greatest kisses in the world there, and experienced the most heart-wrenching goodbyes. I've cried too many tears in the airports of Bergen and Los Angeles, both happy and sad.

It was hard work, but the time we spent together (in the same country) made up for it. It kept us holding on until the next time we could see each other.

After a long stretch of not seeing each other for nearly 5 months, we vowed to NEVER let it go that long again. We realized that we could meet halfway between Norway and California for a quick weekend getaway, so we met in Washington, D.C., keeping just a month and a half between visits.

Long distance relationships are expensive, frustrating, and inconvenient.

On the other hand, you learn how to communicate better than you ever thought you knew how, you realize you can maintain independence and have a relationship at the same time, and you have a lot of time think things over and decide whether or not to follow your matter how far it might take you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Socks and Shoes and Target, Too

I miss Target. It could be, perhaps, one of the best stores in the world, but sadly only exists in the United States. The place has everything. Everything.

Work out clothes? Target has them!
Laundry soap? Target has that, too.
Milk? Target to the rescue!
Socks and underwear (and a big variety of each!)? Target.
A new purse and maybe some accessories to go with that new sweater you picked up in the other aisle? Oh, don't worry, Target's got you covered.
I left out things out like appliances, electronics, wedding invitations and thank you cards, furniture, car supplies, children's toys, baby needs, and personal hygiene products. Those are all at Target, too!

In ONE store.

Here's the weekly ad - I just have to show you how amazing the place is: Amazing Weekly Ad From Target

And, it's open til 10 at night...even on a Sunday. I get chills thinking about shopping on a Sunday, mainly because I'm really good at wanting things I simply cannot have.

But don't worry, this post isn't about being homesick for things like super stores that seemed to cure all boredom issues and shopping needs. Nope.

This is about Spring. Hang in there with me, you'll soon see why I started with a Target tangent.

Spring is here and is leaving me feverishly wanting to spend a horrendous amount of money on new clothes and shoes. Especially with this little Paris trip coming up, my wardrobe (and I) could really use a pick-me-up. Some fresh colors, some new boots, and some new shoes that aren't boots, too. These invasive thoughts about shoes have left some lingering questions.

1. Where do you buy ankle socks here??
2. Do cheap but decent shoes exist in Norway??
3. Why on EARTH do they not sell shoes in half sizes here?! Why, why, why. 37 is too small, and unless I'm layering up on socks in winter time, a 38 is too big.

The socks thing has been tricky. I moved here with plenty, and when I realized that I needed more wool on my feet everyday, I found some socks in the grocery store that would supplement my assortment just perfectly. Only they sell them 1 pair at a time (I used to buy 6 pairs of socks in a bag!) and your only choice is a crew sock.

In California, a classic selection at Target:
In Norway, a classic selection in the shampoo aisle at the grocery store (I actually have the exact same pair on my drying rack right now):

sorry for the random name, it was only picture of these socks I could find!
Now, I know I could probably fill all my sock needs at H&M - at least I hope I can, but there's a certain feeling of pleasure one gets from ripping open that new bag of socks from Target that I don't think I'll ever be able to feel here. 

On the other hand (or foot, hehe), it really doesn't matter. At all. 

If any of you US readers are in Target any time soon, take a stroll down the sock aisle for me and be thankful for all your choices!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oh Mister Sun, Please (oh please!) Shine Down On Me

It's gotten to me.

All these clouds. 

All this rain. 

All the days when I wake up and think: today will be the day I feel the sun on my face!, only to be disappointed because I not only don't see the sun, I don't see the blue sky, either. (And I've only seen the moon twice since I've moved here - something I didn't realized I paid ANY attention to living under the clear skies in California, but now strangely miss). 

I made it through all the hail storms of September and October. 

I made it through the ever shortening days of November and December. The days you wake up and think it must only be 3 in the morning because it could not possibly be this dark during waking hours. 

I patiently made it through January and most of February stomping through the slush and nearly slipping on the ice, and happily noticing the world seems a bit brighter as the days slowly get longer (not sunnier, but longer nonetheless). 

I've been taking extra vitamin-D to preemptively avoid possible depression that comes from never seeing the sun. I gulp down 2 of these in the morning...: 

....which is a good alternative to the fish oil you could force down....: 

....but I hear that stuff is pretty gross and will make you look like this: 

The line at the bottom: "Not the easiest to give, but the best to get."

In any case, extra vitamin D or not, March was here. Again, I foolishly believed that I would finally win this hide-and-seek game with the sun. 

The days went by fast, and yet oddly enough, painfully slow. You know how it is when you're waiting for something. 

Finally, a few days ago, I came home, plopped myself down on the couch and nearly started to cry. I confessed to Stian my feelings in the whiniest and most pathetic voice I could make: I miss the suuunnnnnn

That was the honest truth - I couldn't take it anymore! I moved here, I made it through fall and winter, and with the promise of spring I assumed the sun would come out. I assumed. Wrongly, of course. Maybe I forgot which city we moved to. Either way, I was beginning to think I would never see good ol' Mister Sun again. 

Suggestions of the tanning bed came up...a popular thing here. I can't bring myself to do it - I never have and don't particularly want to start now. I was getting frustrated and restless. 

And then, like he might've known that his absence was making me desperately want to fly south and find him, he showed up today and fill my face, and heart, and soul with warmth. 

Sweet, wonderful warmth. 

He was out just long enough for me to sit on the patio with Stian and his family, watch the cat run around in the open spaces of the fjord, and appreciate his presence on this earth while all my anger and impatience melted away. 

Oh Mister Sun, you have no idea how much I've missed you. Don't go too far, I need your sunshine in my life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Babies, Falling, and Pancakes

Ha, nope not pregnant, but I got your attention, huh? ;)

My blog posts are few and far between these days. 

I can't say I'm happy about that, but that's just how life is right now. I've fallen into a routine and stopped noticing things about my new home. Maybe that's not true, actually. I still notice things, I just have less time to write about them. Between Norwegian class and sharing a computer with my dear hubby, I use my phone to check my email and Facebook on the bybanen, and have neglected to put some effort into this blogging project of mine. 

In any case, I can share a quick story about what we've been up to. 

Stian and I took a little trip up to his hometown and it was so refreshing to get out of Bergen for a few days! 
We hauled Potet (our kitten) with us for the visit, and got to spend time with our adorable 1 year old niece. 

The cat and Sofie spent a lot of time together over the weekend: 

They found a kroner in the bathroom and Uncle Stian could make it was very entertaining for everyone, apparently. :) 

Nothing like two babies playing together under the bathroom sink...

I knew it would be colder up in the fjords, but I wasn't anticipating so much ice (it was all gone in Bergen a long time ago!). I took my very first ice-related fall in Norway on the first day of Spring - go figure! I fell REALLY hard on my bum and of course, immediately burst into tears. I know that will be the first of many falls in the winters to come, but if I only had 3 wishes, I would waste one on never falling on the ice again in my life. That's how much I hate it. (but who likes falling on the ice?!) 

We stopped at Bestemors (Grandma's) on the way home, and I ate the BEST pancakes I've ever had in my entire life. I asked, in horrible Norwegian, for the recipe, and she gave an answer just like my Grandma (but in Norwegian of course!): oh, a little bit of everything. Some cream, some kefir, some melk, some sour cream, maybe. Some baking soda and hornsalt (fyi, don't ever sniff hornsalt. even if you're curious...just don't do it - you WILL regret me, I know from experience). 2 eggs. Mix them together and add a little flour. That's it. 

Well, I'll be experimenting this weekend I guess!!

(Also, have any of you eaten a hotdog wrapped in a pancake?! I think it's a strange thing to do, but it seems to be pretty common here...thank goodness for a Norwegian husband to get me through coffee hour because if I was alone and someone put a plate of hot dogs in front of me and said "here you go!" I'm not sure what my reaction would be - but I'm sure I would never wrap a pancake around one). 

I love going out of town for a change of scenery, so this trip was a lovely breath of fresh air!