Category Archives: Friends

My 2013

During my years in the BBC, I had a colleague who read palms. Upon reading mine one day, she said “I’m surprised you’re not more confused than you are. Your creative and sensible sides are very conflicting with each other.” She is very right, which made me respect her skill. She didn’t know me very well at the time. And my 2013 has been very much like my colleague described me. It has been an extremely happy and uplifting year, but also a painful one. But let me rewind and do this month by month.

January: I fell onto the subway tracks and I survived! I think that was very miraculous. It’s one of Oslo’s busiest stations, and I fell at a time when there was no train coming. As I couldn’t get up because I had fallen backwards, a man jumped down to lift me up and a girl received me at the top of the tracks. Luckily for me, I was on my way to the doctor and feeling slightly hysterical from the fall, I got there with my two rescuers walking me.

Despite being in quite a lot of pain from the fall, I boarded a plane four days later and went to Monaco. I stayed with some Egyptian friends there on the 25th floor of a block of flats and I had the time of my life. Me and my friend who are both singers, held an impromptu concert in a bar in Monte Carlo that had karaoke, and it went down so well that we were asked to come back the next day.

February: I fell again. But this time I fell in love. That can be more dangerous and painful than falling off a subway platform, but it is more fun, those times when it is not agonizing of course. The man is a bright and good looking Ghanaian student, who like me, work for the student radio station in Oslo.

March: I took the radio presenter’s test, which meant that I put together and presented the hour long news and current affairs show on our radio station by me. I passed and I now have an official paper saying I’m a qualified radio presenter. Live radio presenting is something I’ve grown to love more than I thought I would and I do hope I have my own show some day.

March/April: I also did the longest trip of my life so far. I traveled alone to New Zealand to visit a cousin and then on to Australia to visit a friend. I did so much on these two trips that I wouldn’t do them any justice by summing them up in this post. But let me say that I recommend anyone who can you should go there. I hope to go back one day, but preferably with some company because the flights are long. I slept as much as I could and I made some friends on the plane, for the duration of the journey, but still, company would have been nice. And I’d love to share a trip like that with somebody simply because it’s so incredible to be on the other side of the world. I did get to touch both koalas, kanagroos, wallabies, wombats and a kiwi.

April/May: I went to Iceland with my fellow master students. Iceland is also very amazing and we had so much fun walking on volcanos, soaking in natural baths and going out every evening. Of course, this all happened when we weren’t doing something study related, which was quite fun too. Especially because during our trip to RUV, the Icelandic broadcasters, we were shown around by Iceland’s most famous news Anker.

In May I also hosted a party with my partner for the first time ever. It was a Ghanaian party, meaning we served Ghanaian food. I learned never to mix Amarula and wine again!

June: I went to Skagen with one of my closest allies. Or is it called closest friends? No, ally is cooler I think. Skagen is that place in Denmark where you can walk out on the beach and have one foot in the Baltic Sea and one in the North Sea. I was there as a child, but didn’t remember because I was little. The place is magic and when you have a foot in each ocean, you can literally feel the two meet because they strike against each other

July/August: I wrote a teen novel for my niece for her confirmation. The title Vilde Gudenes utvalgte translates as Vilde, chosen by the gods and is about a girl Vilde who enters into the Greek mythological world to help make right a wrong that has been done and which have caused the world of the gods to die out. Writing it was a strange experience in a good way and I felt as if the story lived its own life and that I was just sent by someone to write it down. Writing in Norwegian was difficult for me however, because English has over time become the language I prefer to express myself in when writing unless we’re talking about informal emails and so on, where it doesn’t matter to me which of the two languages I use. But getting reacquainted with writing my mother tongue was also good.

August: I went back to Skagen with my same close ally who I’d gone with in June as well as my other half. That too was a nice trip and we had better weather. Next time I go to Skagen, I hope to swim in the Baltic Sea.

October: I made my first full length radio documentary. It’s entitled Faith as career, and features three people who have incorporated their faith into their life style or career choices. The first one is a girl studying to become a catechist in the Norwegian Lutheran church, the second a guy from a Pentecostal background who is the leader of the Oslo Youth party of a prominent Christian political party. The third person is a Catholic sister of the Dominican order who is also a physicist and who had and is continuing to have, a profound impression on me. The three made for a very good and dynamic documentary for which I’ve had some good feedback.

I also had a splendid girls trip to Copen Hagen. It was crazy, a little Sex and the City style. And yes, I did spend money on a pair of expensive high heels. Italian high heels.

So a good year. But despite all those good things, I have had some painful times too. I don’t want to talk about them in detail, but they have taught me a few lessons. Firstly, that only sadness can show you what really matters in life. Secondly, that people you thought were not that close to you can be of good help. Thirdly, that pain makes you a better person, because it forces you to develop, think and reflect and it makes your appreciate even small moments of happiness a little more. And finally, despite wanting to delete most of the last three months of 2013 from my life, I am in some twisted way grateful that I have experienced the depth of the pain I’ve been in. Because I am still here, I am still laughing and little by little, I remove myself from it all and show myself how incredibly blessed I am to have what’s even more important during sad times than good friends or a partner. A strong personality, psyche and sense of reality. And that’s how I know; I’ll eventually be completely alright again.

I have had over 20.000 hits on my blog all time which is amazing considering how boring my posts have ben of late. I will try to amend that in 2014 and I may even post some of my short fiction from time to time. Thanks though to those of you who have read my ramblings and thanks for still returning. If you are on twitter, why not follow me at @Linn_M21 And if you enjoy my writing, you can read all the articles I have posted on http://www.styleable.co.uk
That is to say different articles than you find here, but probably some of them are on interest to some of my readers. On Twitter I also announce everything I publish. And should you be curious to see what I look like, you will find my picture both on Twitter and Stylable. I may include one on this site too at some point, though so far, I’ve left it as just a thought.

Happy 2014 to all of you and May the entire year be filled with laughter, good madness, and heart stopping moments of joy and peace and harmony.

Happy new year!

Advertisements

My 2012 highlights

Another year of blogging is over and frankly, I was quite surprised when I received a report from WordPress by email letting me know how my blog had done. I never received such a report with my earlier blog which no longer exists, nor with this one last year, so I figured that only the blogs that do well, or get more than a certain number of hits received one. The report told me my blog had 6000 views in 2012 from 99 countries. Americans, Brits and Norwegians are my most avid readers. My most read post was, not surprisingly, my Blindness and dating post which I know is linked to from Action for blind people in the UK. I know, it sounds like a shady porn site, but it is a very innocent organization helping the blind, so I will thank my friend Kiesha for linking it and say sorry at the same time for not having written more for her wonderful magazine at http://www.styleable .co.uk

My year started with a break-up. Those who have read my blog since the beginning may recall me mentioning an Italian boyfriend. I didn’t write about the break-up, because I was the one who ended it and I wanted to respect his feelings. But though we may be over, my love and passion for Italy has, if anything increased. I’ve got a few good Italian friends in Oslo so I get to practice the language, and I was back in Florence where my ex comes from to visit friends I made there. I sincerely hope I get to live at least part of my life in Italy in the future.

In February, I started writing a novel. I won’t say too much about it, but I’ve always wanted to be a novelist and I had all the time in the world to make a start. It was hard. Both because writing well is difficult and because I chose to write in Norwegian. I did this both because I hadn’t written anything except e-mails in Norwegian for the past few years and I wanted to get to grips with my mother tongue again. Also, should the novel be released, it has a bigger chance of selling well in Norway since the market is smaller. And if someone wants to publish it and it sells, I will personally translate it to English. I had to put the first draft aside when I started studying, but I read through it a couple of weeks ago and realized it’s not so bad, so I’ve started the editing job which so far, is going well. It probably will take a while for it to be finished because I also have to start writing my master’s thesis soon, but I will do my best to make my book a priority when I have free time.

In June, I participated in a designer project which was a lot of fun. There were four groups of designers who were going to design something new for someone who had a disability. My group didn’t win, but we designed a professional network where designers could get in touch with disable person in order to make their products user friendly. The design bit itself, was in the website and how we laid out the project. The winning idea, was very similar to our own, almost identical, but we didn’t communicate with the other groups, so that was just random. I worked with people from Norway Germany, and England and it was three hectic days with very little sleep and a lot of fun. Later that month, I went to Florence, which was 95% lovely in every way and 5% “Damn, I wish I had a boyfriend here still so I could move here.”

It was in the summer, that I lost my faith. It happened gradually and it took me a long time to confess it even to myself. As my readers know, I spent a few posts ranting about Christianity and how oppressing it was etc. I haven’t really felt the need to do that since then. I am at peace with not yet having quite arrived at what I believe in although I will always keep values like the golden rule. I doubt I’ll ever get into a religion, but that I will be like many Norwegians, with one foot in the human ethics, and the foot of tradition in the church. I could write page up and page down about what my definition of God is, but it’s still something I’m trying to figure out.

In August, after a boring, very boring, July, I was happy to start university. I still think I chose the right course and I miss seeing my classmates every day now that we’re on a Christmas break. I haven’t failed any subjects. I have also not received the grades I want, but I am thinking it has more to do with how I present things rather than my knowledge of the subject, because I have read everything, and been to all the lectures. I will be improving this in 2013 and I will do very well on my thesis, I’ve decided! Becoming a news reader and reporter with the student radio station, has also been a great experience and I hope to do more for them throughout 2013. I also made some good friends there whom I love working with!

In October, I got my new flat. For the first time ever, I love staying in the house. But without all the visitors and dinners I have served and will keep on serving, it wouldn’t be so exciting. Great to live near the underground and the forest at the same time!

Christmas was nice and filled with family and good food. I got many gifts including a rice cooker, a printer, African jewelry and sweets. But the most wonderful thing this Christmas is that I got my wonderful, handsome, intelligent and beloved friend back into my life. Remember the one who said I was on a slippery slope and whom I wrote a long post about because I was so upset? It’s all behind us now and I’m so happy he’s back. All I need to do now is convince him to want to marry me! 

Tonight, I’m having two highschool friends over. I’ll cook a Thai green curry and we’ll drink some nice wine and probably chit chat all night.

I wish all of my readers a happy new year and I thank you for making me want me to continue blogging by reading and commenting. I especially want to thank Michelle because you got me writing that fictional story about Tony and Jenna. It feels like I know you now. Elisabeth for her precise comments and being my real life friend and reader making it possible for me to get a lot of things done that otherwise would be tricky. And to Bruce. And Bruce, if you read this, please reply and tell me where your new site. I have to admit I haven’t read much blogs this autumn and was puzzled to n I couldn’t find it when I wanted my Bruce fix. You have been great in my time of leaving my Evangelical faith.
And to the readers who are silent, or have commented only a few times, you are equally valuable to me, so thanks to you too.

All in all, 2012 has not been a bad year, although it’s been boring at times with little happening. But moving to Norway is something I’m glad I’ve done and I know 2013 will be quite adventure filled. My first adventure is visiting a friend in Monaco in only 16 days. Bring it on! 2013 starts tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be blogging more soon, in 2013!

The mysteries of male female friendships

I have always had quite a few male friends. In fact, one of my best friends is a guy and I think it’s healthy to have both friendships with your own gender as well as the opposite one.

But I have been having a few thoughts recently as to how even the friendships of between people of the opposite sex are, because more often than not, some kind of attraction seems to arise at some point during the friendships.

Take me and my male friends for example. In some cases, we started off by being attracted to each other, but for one reason or another, the attraction turned into friendships and stayed that way. In other cases, we started off as friends, but at some point, he would either get attracted to me or me to him. In most of those cases, the attraction eventually disappeared, although not always completely.

Many of my girlfriends as well as me, have experienced that when we get out of a relationship for example, those men we thought were friends, appear to not want to remain just friends when we become available on the market.

Another classic is that really lovely male friend who is always there. He’s straight, in touch with his feelings, but not in a dorky way, he always has time for you and so on. In fact, it’s the kind of man we’d really like our boyfriends to be, except he’s missing that little extra. Maybe he’s too geeky, not smooth enough, or doesn’t have the right body type. And when he finally gets a girlfriend, or even starts liking another girl, we get jealous even though we didn’t like him in that way. We want to be his only girl.

I know 100 per cent platonic male female friendships do exist, although I am questioning it after a guy I thought felt nothing for me other than as a friend said that he wouldn’t mind if something physical was to happen between us. Forgive my French here, but when your friend becomes a fuckbuddy, it’s a miracle if the friendship remains.

But maybe for guys, the way between friendships and something else is shorter while girls have a habit of placing guys into category. “you\re in my friendship ox and that’s where you’ll stay” kind of.

What are your thoughts on this?

I’m still here

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything in here, with everything has been so busy with my studies.

I’m realizing that on Sunday, it’s been a year since I started this blog. A lot has changed in that year. I have returned to Norway, become single, bought a flat, started my master’s degree and made lots of new friends. I have also deconverted from Christianity.

All in all, I have become a lot happier this year, although I’ve had my fair share of down moments.

My classmates are amazing y the way. I was worried what making friends would be like. My experiences from school and then my bachelor’s degree have not been ideal, but when I started this degree, I had some hopes that everyone would be grown up enough to not have any problems with my blindness. And my hopes were fulfilled. I have made great friends from all over the world and I am back to having a social life, again. And not only did I make friends at uni, but I’ve also become a newsreader and reporter for the student radio which is unpaid, but looks good on my CV. I am also making friends within the news team.

I get the keys to my new flat today and I’m very excited to no longer stay with my father. It hasn’t been all bad, but when you’re not used to living at home, it feels a little restrictive to do so at times.

I hope I get time to write more soon, and that my next post is a little bit more interesting, but thought I’d just let y’all know I haven’t abandoned this blog space.

Basic questions on blindness

Sometimes, I like typing the words “blind people” into Google to see what I come across and I get results that make me laugh out loud and some that makes me sigh in exasperation. And I understand people out there have a lot of questions about blind people they’ll most likely have unanswered. Either because they don’t know any blind people, or because they know someone, but they are too shy to ask.

Also, blind people don’t exactly put information out there on the internet for anyone to read, because, the idea of it is a little ridiculous and because the understanding of lack of knowledge on the part of the sighted are not understood. I am only recently beginning to see how much interest there is around questions on blindness and what opened my eyes to that, was my post on blindness and dating which has had loads of hits. I can see what people search for when they find that article and usually the questions are so extremely basic that I’m wondering how people don’t know better.

If you are sighted and have little or no experience with blindness, this post answering the most basic and common questions are for you. I will do my best not to be too condescending, and I hope this will help when you first encounter someone with little or no sight.

How do blind people use a computer?

We use normal computers, but we install screenreading software on it so that it either speaks to us, or displays information on a Braille display. Braille is the name of the letters for the blind invented by Louis Braille and we read it with our fingers. Because of this, we can use computers as efficiently as a sighted person. Most of us learn touch typing from a young age as well, and so blind people tend to type rather than using voice recognition software.

How do blind people manage to match their clothes?

That is a matter of learning which colours go together and which does not. When I buy clothes, I always remember the colour of each and every thing I own and can match that way. I have a little machine as well called a colour indicator which tells me what colour a certain clothing item has. It’s not accurate, but if you have two tops that feel exactly the same and you know that one is blue and one pink, you will be able to tell the difference by using that machine. Cutting the label on one of them is also a handy trick. For simplicity, I only own black socks so as not to mismatch there.

Do blind people have a concept of colours? The short answer is no. Being completely blind myself, I only classify blind as not being able to see anything at all apart from perhaps some light, so even though some people are termed as legally blind can see colour, they’re not part of this article, because I do not know anything about seeing a little bit. But I am digressing. Blind people have, if they are born blind, no proof that they have a concept of colour. However, I know for me and for some other people I’ve heard of, that we have our own image of colours in our head. So for me, if you say that the shirt is maroon, I’ll immediately understand what you mean, but whether it is the same maroon that you can see, or even the same maroon other blind people imagine, we’ll never know. I enjoyed painting when I was little, and my mum used to put different kinds of grain in the different colour pots so I could mix and match to my hearts content. I recently heard of a blind Turkish painter who uses exactly that same technique.

Are blind people able to cook, clean and do other housework?

Of course. Although I have to say not everybody have parents who are willing to teach them from a young age and so sometimes they can find it hard. But blind people can operate cookers and ovens as long as they have buttons. We can cut fruit and vegetables and all that. Of course, certain things are hard, like separating egg yolk from the white, but if you have a blind friend who cooks well, let him/her make you a gourmet meal if he or she so wish. Sometimes the fingers look as if they are a little bit too close to the knife or oven, but unless you hear a loud piercing scream or a series of swearwords, assume it’s all under control.

Laundry is not a big deal. My fully sighted parents always had one basket for the dark and one for the light clothes and this is a great tip for the blind. I’ve already talked about how we recognize our clothes, so as long as the washing machine is easy to use and have buttons, it’s all fine and hanging the clothes out is a piece of cake.

Cleaning is possible, but a blind person doesn’t always have a way of knowing whether a spot is left etc, so a cleaner is a good idea. However, maintaining a clean house in between having a cleaner is something everyone can do if they can move. And even sighted people have cleaners.

Shall I tell my blind friend if he/she has smeared make-up, a spot on their shirt etc? Yes please! You can be friendly and discreet though.

Do I always help a blind person who looks lost or who walks along and doesn’t look lost?

If someone looks lost, ask if they need help, but if they say no, leave them alone immediately. If they look fine, but you want to do a good deed, look for an old lady who looks like she may need your help more. Or an old man.

Can blind people live independently?

Yes and thank goodness for that. A blind person with no additional disability and who has learned the necessary skills all children should learn can live and maintain a pretty and happy home.

Is total blindness black?

I’ve heard some people say it must be gray, however I have know idea. I have detached optic nerves, so in my case it is colourless. Don’t try to understand it, because you probably won’t be able to and I can’t explain any further.

What is it like to be blind?

Let me ask you this: What is it like to see? I think coming up with an answer to that is pretty impossible just like it is in my case. How do I know what being blind is like? I can’t compare it to anything. It’s all I’ve ever known. Only someone who has been able to see before could maybe answer that question for you.

Do all blind people need the same kind of help?

No. And the important thing here is to let the blind person you are with tell you what he/she needs. It might be fine helping with cutting up the food for one person, while for someone else that is an insult. Some people like to hold your elbow and some like to walk next to you etc.

I cannot think of any more basic questions, but if I forgot to cover something, please leave me a comment. Let me just end by saying that blind people get educated, get jobs and careers, date, go travelling, have sex, have children, go grocery shopping, have dreams. In fact, our lives are remarkably similar to YOURS and we are as different as all the sighted people out there. Just bare that in mind when you meet a blind person for the first time. Or a person with any other disability for that matter. And by the way, you can say watch TV and see you later to a blind person. They are figures of speech and we use them ourselves.

Blindness = stupid, naive and needy

I’ve already devoted more space to blindness than first was intended for this blog. But it’s a part of me as much as the fact that I’ve got curly hair, or that I like reggae. It has defined and shaped my character, my life choices and opportunities to a certain extent. People usually ask me whether I wish I could see and the answer is yes, but not because I’m bitter about the fact I can’t see, or because I want to see the beautiful red/orange of the sunset, or the twinkling stars in the sky. No, I want to see because the society was never made for a blind person. Electronic or braille books was never the norm, and neither was audiodescription in cinemas, brailling in shops and blindness in general really. My biggest reason for wanting to see is that I’m always having to prove to people that I’m capable of living and breathing and that I sometimes have to fight for things sighted people take for granted. And there are people who won’t leave me alone because I carry a white cane. There are old ladies who always think I’m up for a chat, or people from certain countries who ask me who cooks my food or what I’m doing outside after dark. And last, but definitely not least, are the men who think they can get easy access to my body and money just because I’m blind. Afterall, I’m blind, so I must be a bit naive and desperate right?

Luckily this has only happened to me twice, but both times got my blood boiling with anger. I am no fool.

In the first case, it was a rather bad relationship with someone I thought was exciting, but someone I knew was bad for me. To cut a long story short, it ended when he understood I was too smart to let him have full access to my life, be it keys to my flat or bank account.

3 years later, I was friends with someone whom I genuinely had only platonic feelings towards. Sweet guy, but I was taken and he wasn’t my type. This friendship also ended because he realised I was never interested in being more than friends.

Surely, that happens to a lot of girls and it has happened to me in the past, but I can tell the difference between someone who plays on my supposed vulnarability to try and win me over so they can make some extra cash by making me trust and love them and and someone who got disappointed who genuinely thought me a suitable girlfriend and it really makes me sad to think that some people, be it women or men, befriends blind people and try to get with them to fulfill their own needs whatever they might be.

I realise it doesn’t just happened to blind people, but I know of other disabled people this has happened to.

The question I ask those sneaky “do gooders” is Where is your dignity? You certainly wouldn’t like the same thing done to you?

At the same time they make me laugh, because thinking that anyone would be stupid enough to fall for their game, means that they would be stupid enough to fall for someone elses game should the situation have been reversed!

My big decission

I haven’t been posting here for a while because I spent some lovely days in Florence, Italy where my fantastic boyfriend comes from. I absolutely love Italy and will probably write about it in later posts, but I would like to share a big decission I made, rather rushed, today.

As you may or may not know, I’m a Norwegian and for 7 years I have been living in the UK. 3 years in Edinburgh and 4 in London. And what a time! I went from being an insecure student, to being saved and baptised in a pentecostal church. I went to London, stopped the church thing and lived a little on the wild side until I got a job in the BBC where I stayed for 3 years. I had to leave because my department went to Salford and I didn’t wanna move. I got back into a wonderful church as well and my faith is stronger than ever.

Ok, so I decided on the freelance thing and it’s still something I’d like to persue, but I’m also realising that I really have nothing here in London. I have a social life and friends, but I don’t have key people I need in my life, like family. Because I do really believe that we all need family. If you’re raised without a family, you’ll naturally do anything you can to make a family around you in one way or another. And although I am a very capable and independent girl, I am blind and I do need people around me I can trust to help me with the few, but crucial things I need help with. I would also like to go back to university, take a masters degree and get a job, perhaps do the freelancing on the side. Whether I’ll stay in Norway forever or join my other half in Italy, only time can tell. There are some lose plans of a Tuscan future, but for the next few years at least, I will live very happily in Norway. And if the future plans don’t work out, I hope he’ll come stay with me. I’ll have family around me, university is free and my chances of getting a job is much bigger when I complete a higher education as very few disabled people with master’s degrees in Norway end up unemployed.

Will it be easy? Probably much more so than moving to the UK back in 2004. It’s after all the place I was born. I speak the language there and I have a network.But I won’t leave London without feeling sad about the fact I’m leaving a couple of very close friends and my church behind. I will also always have a part of Britain with me. After 7 years, you can’t help but being somehow shaped by somewhere you lived.

But I think this is the right decission. I have felt unhappy about living here in London lately and worried about my future. I will hopefully go back around Christmas or new year, so everything will happen quickly. But I’m confident this really is the right thing to do.

My one worry about leaving London, is that my studio recording will have to end. I hope this is not the case and that something can be worked out. Being a Christian, I’ll pray on it and hope the producer doesn’t feel I betray him by going away. It’s just that at present, I need more than a few studio sessions to keep me here.

But, everything sorts itself out for nice girls. Hmmmmm, I’m known to be more naughty than nice though, so need to work on that? 🙂