How to Fall In Love: Oslo Edition (Norway)

I’ve been putting off this post on our Oslo trip because I’ve had Post-Vacation Funk.

You know what I’m talking about.

The funk you get in when you get back from an awesome vacation, bank account depleted, and have to go back to 1) work, and 2) real life where you have to clean and cook and do chores. Ugh. Real life stinks.

Vacation forever!

Moving on.

My simple tip for falling in love with Oslo is just to visit. If you love chilly, grey weather, make sure you visit in early October. I also recommend taking someone you love with you, because it really does enhance the experience.

I love traveling alone. You don’t have anyone to answer to, you can plan your trip however you want, visit everything you want to see without having to argue with anyone, and you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Traveling alone is the friggin’ best.

But, as I have learned over the last few months, I’m grateful to have a traveling partner that makes me go outside my comfort zone, pushes me to go that extra mile (or two), and can help me find my way when I’m lost. It was better to have someone in Oslo with me.

While I didn’t tackle everything on my map, I did visit things I hadn’t considered at his suggestion. We cultivated lists together, and when I got frustrated at not being able to get everything done, I had someone to tell me to calm down and help me prioritize. I had someone to talk to at meals, or to totally ignore while we both decompressed by staring at our phones.

I had someone to watch TV with at the end of the day.

I won’t say it was all perfect. We definitely got frustrated with each other, I spent a fair amount of time being hangry as hell, and we ate pasta almost every. single. night. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Having a travel companion isn’t important.

Having the right travel companion is vital.

Here’s all the places we went:

Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip

How To Be A Tourist: Oslo Edition

She Lies sculpture

  • Bring a sweater.
  • Bring several sweaters.
  • And a rain jacket.
  • Wear good shoes.
  • When your AirBnB host offers to let you use her hair dryer and straighteners, make an awkward joke about how your boyfriend will be sure to get a lot of use out of them.
  • Keep trying to pronounce every word even though the Norwegians look at you like you have 12 heads.
  • Forget everything you know about phonetics.
  • Keep repeating “skoleboller” until the guy behind the counter shakes his head and just hands you the tasty pastry.
  • Eat all the tasty pastries.
  • Drink 100 lattes.
  • Smile at everyone even though they don’t smile back.
  • Photograph your lattes so the guy who made your coffee can laugh at you.
  • Ask “does this have pork in it?” of everything you think you might possibly want to eat.
  • Almost all of it has pork in it.
  • Eat a yummy hamburger.
  • No, really. Get a hamburger.
  • Repeat the tram stop names each time the automated voice says it. People on the tram will love it.
  • Ride every kind of public transportation! Especially the T-Bane.
  • Call the T-bane “T-Pain.”
  • Seriously though… eat the skolebolle.

oslo royal palacejonathan climbing the oslo opera houseoslo opera houseoslo fjord tour oslo fjord tourme! jonathan vigelandmuseet latte from joe & the juicemural

Trips to Maine

Y’all, I’m wicked busy lately.

On top of working full-time, some of which includes travel, I’m about halfway through my second term in grad school. Unlike last term, I haven’t broken my foot and been demanded not to walk around (there’s still time, though, I guess, but I don’t hope). So, I’m juggling work, school, and, y’know, living a life with my boyfriend and friends and plenty of donuts.

I’ve been to Maine twice in the last two weeks or so… I may have lost track of time awhile ago. What even is time, really, other than something I don’t have a lot of…

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh!

I went to Maine with my lovely lady friends: Elyse, Gabbi, and Nikki. Nikki fed us marvelous foods, Gabbi serenaded us on the piano, and Elyse provided complicated wine bottles for everyone to drink from (and wonderful commentary like only Elyse can provide). We took walks, we played games, we drank tea and ate warm oatmeal cookies.

Maine with these girls is truly a magical experience.

Outside of eating, we went on to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which provided an excellent amount of exercise and some great photo opportunities. I’m not always glad I bring my camera along, but this weekend was an exception. I got so much use out of it.

After that weekend, I got to travel up to Waterville for a work event. Instead of rushing home on Thursday I opted to take the day off and take my sweet time getting home.

I stopped in Freeport, which is like a town shaped shopping mall (both wonderful and overwhelming), and Portland. I drank my weight in coffee on Thursday.

There’s some pretty inconsistent editing on these photos which, at one time, would have made me feel bad. Now, to borrow from Lewis Black, “I don’t give a shit” now.

FAQ: The Steroids of It All

You were on steroids? 

I was – from July 2014 until May 2016. I started on 50mg, stayed there for 6 months, and then started tapering off of them. You can’t just quit steroids. You have to slowly go off of them, which can be worse than being on them in the first place. I would hit places in the tapering process and I would have to stop there for a few weeks or months. I was on 35mg for about four months. It was a very long and traumatic process.

Are you, like, super jacked? 

A lot of people assume that being on steroids means you’ll automatically gain muscle mass. I was on a corticosteroid, which is different from the steroids we think of when we hear “steroids” and automatically start thinking about Major League Baseball players. Those are anabolic steroids. Here’s a fun WebMD resource on the difference, which includes information on the side effects.

Side effects? Like being super jacked? 

No. Like weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, viscous red stretch marks (Seriously, it looks like you’ve been mauled by a bear), acne, increased risk of infection, increased eye pressure, high blood pressure, mood swings, bruising easily, exhaustion, muscle weakness. More info here.

And I basically had IBS for about a year.

That sounds… fun? 

No. No, it wasn’t. Weight gain, acne and, mood swings are the most common side effects. A good way to tell if someone is on steroids is if they have something adorably called “Moon Face.”

Here’s a few visual aids.

Here’s my face in June and July 2014:

Here’s my face in August and September of 2014:

It doesn’t look… That different, I guess? 

You know, a lot of people said that to me when I was on the steroids, which I guess was people trying to be kind. But I had fatty deposits and water retention not just in my face, it was in my shoulders, chest, and stomach. I got bigger all over, but I could especially see it in my face.

If people weren’t trying to be kind, then I guess I didn’t realize I looked like post-Blueberrying Violet Beauregarde for my entire adult life.


Why didn’t you just diet? Or workout? 

Because steroids don’t work like that. It doesn’t matter what you eat, or what you do, that weight will be there. All told, I gained 50 pounds while I was on steroids. As soon as I stopped taking them, 35 pounds disappeared in about two months, and I didn’t change my diet. If anything I was eating a lot worse than when I was on the steroids. It got to the point in 2015 where all I could stomach was brown rice, broccoli, and eggs.

May 2016: Still some chubby cheekies.

June 2016: Slimming down

August 2016: I have my face back (and a cat?).

Oh… Well, maybe it was just that terrible haircut. 

Um… Thank you?

But you’re like, all better now, right? No more steroids? 

Maybe. I’m on an immunosppressant that makes it easier for me to live a normal life. I get overheated easily, I still bruise easily, I have to have a bone density test to make sure the steroids didn’t result in osteoporosis.

I recently had a doctor’s appointment because my neck was hurting again. As soon as he said “steroids,” I started to panic. I could feel the absolute dread rising from my stomach into my throat. I told him I didn’t ever want to be on steroids again. I’ll do anything to avoid it.

I’ve joked that I’d rather kill myself than go back on steroids.

And… I’m not always sure it’s a joke.

Steroids wrecked my mind, my body, and I’m still having side effects. I broke my foot recently and the podiatrist firmly believes that the steroids were the root cause.

What’s your favorite food? 

Literally all food.

Except pork. Or octopus. Or duck. Or.. Okay, well, maybe not literally all food.

 

What’s A Library School? 

It’s a school in a library, duh.

No, that’s not true. I’m lying to you. I’m a liar.

But now for a true story:

Almost exactly one year ago — June 15th, 2016, if we’re being exact — I applied to go to grad school.

I did it because I didn’t know what to do next.

It was scary. I had trouble breathing when I hit submit on that application.

Things went from exciting to depressing when The School called me to let me know that where I lived meant I couldn’t attend school with them online due to authorization issues. It’s a standard issue in distance education, which I only know about because of my work history in online education. But that’s another story…

With my dreams, and only escape route to a terrible situation, dashed, I ugly cried it out and then found a therapist to help me with all the things I could not control:

  • My health.
  • This situation I couldn’t seem to get out of (endless jobs applied for, school not an option anymore).
  • My rapidly diminishing self esteem.

She helped. A lot. I really can’t explain how much she helped me. Just know that I will always be greatful for therapy — it kept me going in 2014 when I was diagnosed, and it kept me going well into this year.

Press fast forward and 2016 ended up being a pretty good year, all told. I bought a cute condo, moved in with my boyfriend, my work situation changed, and everything ended up working out over all. It had its struggles, there were tears, but it was a good year.

In February, The School called me back.

“Great news!” They said. “We can enroll you now! Would you like us to formally submit your application?”

Um, I’m sorry. What?

I’ve already had these feelings. I’ve already cried all this out. Work is better, my health is at least stagnant, life is better, I’m finally making decent money. So do I really want to do this? Do I really want my life to change?

After a week of thinking on it, I went with my initial gut instinct.

Fuck yes I want to do this.

This is the start of my last week of my first term in Library School. It hasn’t been easy. It’s completely changed my life — free time is harder to come by, I have to budget my mental lode, my time — but I don’t think this was a bad choice.

Who knows? I may look back years from now and regret everything I spent on this degree: money, time, emotions, and mental energy.

But right now it feels good to be putting effort in somewhere, to be stretching my mind into an area I’m unfamiliar with and challenged by.

This feels good right now.

And I’m still not done with my final massive project.

So… I’m gonna go do that.