29 August 2011

Summer summary

It’s been a strange summer. Weather-wise, it’s been crappy. Any Norwegian will tell you so. Then again, any Norwegian would tell you that any summer, pretty much, and for the most part we are right. We do have a lot of weather in this country, and most of it isn’t of the nice kind. But even if we’d had a warm, sunny summer (not that we did, mind you), we wouldn’t call it a nice summer. We forget easily, in this country. And one rainy day easily translates to “three weeks straight”. If the weather is one of your main conversation topics (and in Norway, it definitely is), it is, after all, much more interesting to speak of bad weather than sunshine.

But I’m not here to talk about the weather.

The summer has been especially strange for me, I guess. I went from a busy life in Tokyo to the slow-as-ever sleepy small town life in Norway. I went from an exciting, interesting and challenging job where I felt I made a difference, to unemployment and application writing. From feeling useful to completely useless. From being a social butterfly to spending most my time on Facebook (which is not the same thing, no matter how you try to justify it for yourself). I went from having too many plans to handle, to having none at all. As of now, I have vacation for the rest of my life – in theory, at least.

But I’m not here to talk about my unemployment.

Norway in general had a strange summer. On July 22nd the unthinkable happened. Terrorism. In Norway. 77 people brutally slaughtered down, by one man and his hate. A hate that took us all by surprise, and that we’ve been struggling to understand ever since. Maybe we’re not supposed to understand; maybe we don’t even want to. The debate that surfaced after this ranged from “we need to analyze his manifest to make sure others like him cannot go unnoticed” to “we need to give his ideas less attention to avoid copycats”. Principles of freedom of speech have been discussed. We all agree we need to protect this right, now more than ever, but there are different opinions and interpretations what this right should entail. How much can we allow? How far should anonymous online debates be allowed to go before the danger signals flare?

What made the strongest impression on me in the middle of this, however, wasn’t the stories of the horrors at Utøya. Not the controversy about whether someone like this culprit (whose name I don’t like mentioning, despite Harry Potteresque wisdom of not letting him become another “You-Know-Who”) could have been stopped, and what measures would be an appropriate punishment (nothing, clearly. Nothing is appropriate. So we have to stick to the options already provided in our laws).

No, none of that. What made the strongest impression was how people came together after this. How it suddenly didn’t matter where you were from, what you did, how much money you made. We were all one. We stood by one another and acted a little nicer, spread a little love. The rose sea, spreading across the country. In Oslo there are still roses everywhere, a sad and yet encouraging reminder of what happened. Terrorism and hate was met with democracy and love.

But I’m definitely not here to talk about terrorism.

In current events it’s been a summer mercifully free of cucumbers. (An old expression in Norway – “cucumber news” was when the newspapers during the summer did not have anything real to report on, so they wrote about the cucumber prices.) I suppose there were some cucumbers with the e.coli breakout in Europe early this summer. But apart from that we’ve had nice, proper news. Prime ministers have left their jobs (the Japanese, for instance. Today, in fact, after months of anticipation. In Norway we’re happy because the new guy’s name creates possibilities for puns just as the old one’s did. From “Yes, we Kan” [but he couldn’t] to “Hva nå da, Noda?” [that last one doesn’t make sense in English. Sorry, guys. But knowing Japan, I’m sure there’ll be a new guy with a punnier name within a year]).

In addition the Strauss-Kahn (he couldn’t either) case made nice headlines all summer, Libya and Syria (oh, who am I kidding – the Middle East in general) still ensure that trees are being chopped down to produce paper, and most recently, of course, a little lady called Irene got loads of attention (all jokes aside, hope you’re all safe).

But I’m not here to talk about current events either (and still not the weather).

What am I here to talk about, then?

Frankly, I’m not too sure. I meant to say something meaningful about blogging. Blogging on this blog, specifically. If you think it’s been kind of quiet here lately, you’re absolutely right. If you think that’s caused by irreconcilable differences within the group, you’re absolutely wrong. If you think it’s caused by a slight tendency of burn-out and summer business, you’re closer to the target.

We’ve been blogging approximately five days a week for a little over a year now (we even missed our own bloggiversary, that’s how preoccupied we’ve been!). We’re eight individuals, trying to coordinate across despite living in different countries, time zones, continents. We have different schedules, backgrounds, different ideas about blogging. In a way, I think our diversity is what makes the mix interesting. But it also makes it challenging.

Thus no one complained when a summer vacation was suggested. A vacation that allowed us to take a much-needed break from blogging. In order to not leave the blog hanging over the summer, however (no telling what crazy shenanigans it might have gotten into then), we decided to post once a week. Thus, this summer have seen fewer posts at the BB&B blog, but I think the posts that my dear colleagues put up were more than top quality wise.

Maybe that is why I had such reservations about my own post… What in the world could I write about that would be equally interesting as the previous posts? Trust me, the sleepy small town life doesn’t provide interesting blog fodder…

My solution was to post about our blog schedule. To explain why we took a break, and when we will return to normalcy. But (you thought I was gonna write “I am not here to talk about…” didn’t you?) even if I wanted to be here to talk about that, it is easier said than done.

You see, we haven’t made up our mind! Every now and then, we make some (smallish) changes here on the blog. Like setting up alternative schedules when we tire of our old topics. This is a golden opportunity for doing just that. So, the debate is going in the Burrow. What will we do now?

But I’m not here to reveal any secrets…  


Jan Morrison said...

so many ways I relate to you on this one, Cruella! Our summer has been absolute crap - haven't even had a boat in the water - and my garden sucks. We didn't have terrorism but
we lost our only hope for social justice when jack layton died a week ago. The country has come together in a very wonderful warm way...
and I'm confused about my blogging life. Also, I need either a job or more clients - it is always way down in august but this year - yikes.

Hart Johnson said...

Oi! What WILL we do next!? You've had crazy turbulence this summer, Mari.

And we've had a very nice summer, in my opinion, though hubby would say 'too hot'--but a fabulously high number of storms and lovely warm weather.

But lots of other crazines... LOTS of it...

Michelle Gregory said...

interesting to see how many things you "didn't" talk about before you talked about what you meant to talk about.

Stacy Gail said...

One way or another, it has been kind of crazy this summer, hasn't it? It's been fairly awful down here in Texas, as we're being killed by a silent "non-storm", a high-pressure bubble that's been over the state since February. We've seen sprinkles twice -- not real rain -- in all that time. Animals, birds, even insects have all but vanished under a blisteringly blue and cloudless sky, and everyone is under strict water rations. It'll be 110 degrees today, like it was yesterday, and like it will be tomorrow. So, that being said, I am truly ready for this summer of bad mojo to end, and for everything to get back to normal.

Whatever normal is. (Good post, btw :) )

Cruella Collett said...

Jan, let's hope autumn - with hot tea, candle light, blankets and frosty windows - will solve our problems! Boo summer! Go away!

Tami, we really need to figure it out, don't we ;) I'm glad your summer was good, at least :)

Michelle, I do that, don't I... Takes a while to get to the point ;)

Stacy, that sounds like crazy weather! I'm all for back to normal. In fact, I want to create a new, better "normal". Hopefully I can manage to do so in the not-too-distant future!

Sue said...

Spring has enveloped us here. We have a joyous abundance of violets, grape hyacynths, fresias and pink blossom. The birds are twittering in a nesting kind of way - it's still cold, but a glorious change from drab winter.
Good luck with the job hunting - is there anything on offer down here? We do a good summer!

Cruella Collett said...

Sue - ah, it must be nice to have spring to look forward to, with the rest of us going into autumn mode. It sounds like the perfect time to visit, and trust me - if I had more than $100 in my bank account, I'd be on the first flight! So far I haven't had an abundance of jobs thrown after me, though, and none from down under. I'll have to keep looking!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. However, you have lots that you can write about when bounced between cultures like you are. Things are cooling off here in Utah. I'd love to see Norway someday.

Unknown said...

I so relate to you with this post. Like you, NYC has had crappy weather (rainy days and hurricanes for that matter). I worked this summer but didn't really get a vacation since I had to cut it short for Hurricane Irene. This week I'm off and feel like a lazy hobo. But come next week when classes begin, I'll be singing a different tune.

Loved the post Mari!

CA Heaven said...

You've been in the wrong end of the country this summer. It's been nice in the north. There are lots of job opportunities there as well. Check it out. Life beyond the Arctic circle is cool ... and chill >:)

Cold As Heaven