Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cats on a plane!

Snakes Cats on a plane!

We successfully moved to Norway. On the 2nd of June we rented a minivan in Lexington, KY and started to drive to Newark, NJ for our flight to Oslo on the 3rd of June. We had 4 suitcases, a jumbo-sized dog crate and our 75 lb. Weimaraner, a cat Sherpa bag, a 15 lb. cat, 2 kids, my husband and myself. The cat was completely freaked out and started trying to chew and claw his way out of his bag. We let him run around the car and he meowed and panted most of the time. We were all covered in hair, I’m sure we were eating hair. We had to stop at Petsmart on the way to Newark to buy a new cat Sherpa bag since a large hole was developing in the bag thanks to the incessant clawing and chewing. Checked in at the airport and had the dog in his crate. We gave him a sedative we got from the vet. As we walked toward security we could hear him barking. Can we just get there already? My husband gave the cat his sedative and he was out like a light. He looked so weird and was so calm. At the gate we changed him to the new bag while he was out and realized with the sedated cat, we were in the clear and all would be smooth in the cabin. Hopefully the dog was okay underneath. Boy was I wrong! 3-4 hours into the flight, I was dozing in and out of sleep. I open my eyes slightly as I hear the brisk footsteps of a flight attendant coming from first class, and in my drowsiness I realize he is holding a cat. I think to myself, hmmm… weird he has a cat… and then momentarily, oh fuck, he has OUR CAT! I shake my husband to wake and garble out something like, ‘flight attendant walk by, cat, he has our cat!’ Husband feels the bag… holy fucking shit; he’s not in the bag! We argue for a couple of seconds about who will go back there to the flight attendant, but I make my husband do it because the cat is technically listed under his name. Hehehe. One flight attendant found it funny that our cat was wandering around first class, while another scolded my husband in Norwegian to keep an eye on his cat! The last few hours of the flight consist of my husband and me taking turns with a hand in the cat bag, petting and trying to calm the cat. It's nice in this situation that our kids are so self sufficient and require little help. When he starts to try clawing and chewing the new cat bag, my husband takes him to the bathroom and clips his claws. This seemed to calm him down quite a bit. He liked being in the bathroom, and he drank from the sink. My husband seriously contemplated spending the rest of the flight in the bathroom with the cat, but he did end up coming back. The cat finally calmed down after that. The dog did remarkably well in comparison, and to think, it was the dog that I spent most of my time worrying about pre-flight.

Two weeks and some change later, the cat literally owns my in-laws house. It’s like he never went temporarily insane, or flew across the Atlantic. He’s steadily gaining weight (which he doesn’t really need), seeing invisible stuff on the walls that he attacks with vigor, and is basically living like the King that he is.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The war on women always takes precedent


Here we are, on the brink of possibly heading into another war; a war in which we would fight alongside Al Qaeda. Surreal. The implications are terrifying, and it’s serious. Could we be on the brink of World War III?  Well, what I am hearing most about is how disappointed everyone is in Miley Cyrus. Don’t we collectively have more important things to worry about? Is the way a 20-year-old girl behaves at a music video awards program really that important that it must consume our thoughts and take up so much space on the Internet? Besides, it sort of feels like everyone is basically fanning the fire on the war on women. “Dudes” have been acting like Miley basically forever. Guys make obscene gestures, catcalls, and basically walk around being led by their male organ rather than some semblance of a brain (I’m not talking about all men here… just generalizing a bit). How many men have walked up onto a stage and made lewd gestures while singing about bitches and ho’s and what their going to do to them, and how they can “tame” them, or give them what they really want, or fuck them until they hurt. You can hear this type of sentiment all the time, but it’s okay. We don’t really pay a lot of attention to it. Is this because it’s okay? No, it’s not okay, but it’s an accepted behavior. Like frat guys who prey on women and get away with it because boys will be boys.

Miley Cyrus goes onstage, acts like an idiot, (but I don’t like current popular music anyway) acts like a man, dare I say, and the whole world blows up into frenzy because of it. Seriously? I’m really not defending her per say, but seeing her as an example of the hypocrisy. To me, we are just feeding into the obsession with keeping women down. She should have been more proper and poised, more ladylike and moral. Hmm… So why do we not have the same standard for male pop stars who basically do the same thing? Because, we have collectively agreed as a culture that men can behave like cavemen, but women need to be proper and a bit classier. Oh, and if you wear that skin colored bikini, you are a stripper, a whore, and you are asking to be raped.  Not to mention, the entire population of the United States is going to be disappointed in you.

Meanwhile, innocent people are dying in the middle east, the biggest chemical weapons attack in 25 years has taken place, our government is broken and it’s spying on its citizens, whistle blowers are not being protected but being punished, and people all over the country are fighting for their right to vote, get birth control, get health care and have a decision over what they have the right to do if they get pregnant, etc. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Norway – Summer 2013

We just got back from a 3.5-week vacation to my husband’s family home in Norway. Although it rained a handful of days, the rain is nothing like the gushing downpour we get here in KY, so we were able to just dress in our rain gear and get outside. I love that. The temperature never got above 23 and never below around 14, so I was very happy and comfortable. It was lovely to get some respite from the humid jungle I feel that I’m spending my summers in these days. The light that never seems to quit into the wee hours of the morning, for some reason doesn’t bother me too much. Once I get through with the jet lag, I can sleep just fine despite the sunny-ish sky.

We hiked almost everyday, up into the mountains. There are paths everywhere and you never have to go off the grid if you don’t want to. We did at least one top tour (the boys did more), signing the book to say we made it to top. The boys built new “varde” on the tops and we sat quietly eating our “niste” and enjoying the view. Nothing beats cracking open a thermos of coffee, and unwrapping a delicious piece of bread with "hvitost" after walking uphill for 2+ hours. 

My husband’s childhood home is approximately 0.20 Kilometers from one of the biggest Viking burial grounds in Norway. Each year, it astounds me how little people seem to care about it. The signage is poor at best, directing you there. It’s confusing to figure out how to get in at first. There are some signs around the burial ground that have faded, that are written in Norwegian, German, and English for tourists. I want to know more about it. People don’t seem to care. I noticed that neighbors tend to pile up their yard waste (branches, lawn clippings, etc.) in there as well which is sad. I tried to find information online, and the Kommune barely mentions it in their literature about visiting the area. They tend to focus on a wealthy Scottish lady who came to the area for the fishing and nature and exploited the poor Norwegian folk with her wealth until she ended up poor herself. Each year, the Kommune puts on a play about her that is sold out. The main mention that I found of the burial site was from a city that’s about one hour away that lists it as something to stop by and check out. I think if more people knew about the Viking burial ground, and it was kept up better, it would be something that people would want to come form other places to see.

The valley where my husband grew up totally amazes me. It reminds me of a fairy tale place, where I fully expect to find little fairy people in the forest, hiding under the giant red fluesopp (those big red mushrooms with the white polka dots), and the big boulders totally are the bodies of trolls who were caught by the sunlight and eternally hardened to stone. It’s always refreshing to spend time somewhere where my boys are allowed to roam free a bit without my constant worry. They can run through the forest and play around by the Viking burial place, run to the local elementary school to play on the playground, or run through the neighborhood to see who is out and if anyone wants to play. It’s so safe there, it makes me remember and pine after my own childhood summers where I ran the streets of my neighborhood and the nearby parks and forests alone with my friends, just checking in with mom/dad or another mom/dad to have lunch and then being told to be home in time for dinner, or after dinner, to be home when the street lights come on. Sigh.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stuck Turtle

On a cold day in the waning days of winter in 2005, we flew from Oslo to Trondheim. During the short flight I thought about the previous night. We had played a bizarre show at Café Mono in Oslo. The Oslo crowd stood in front of us with their arms crossed, examining us as if we were a strange specimen. We played hard and aggressive, we were tight, and played off of each other. I broke a beer bottle on my guitar, using it as a slide, at the end. I was already bleeding from my poor guitar technique, but as I cut myself with the beer bottle, more blood and shards splattered the floor in front of me and the sticky blood covered my pick-guard, strings, and knobs. I cranked up the volume more, and started pulling my strings off the guitar while they made crazy feedback. We gave all to that boring audience.

I was nervous. Our show in Trondheim would be attended by my husband’s school friends, and his parents. We were opening for a band that I really dug, the Mormones. When we got to Trondheim and to our hotel, and it was time to load in and sound check already. It took a while but we got everything adjusted to our liking and got a good sound check, and as is customary while touring anywhere in Europe, we were treated to a nice meal, and a nice spread backstage. I had a big bottle of vodka that I brought with me from the US (saved tons of $$ this way), and started to drink a bit earlier than normal to calm my nerves. I'm not a big fan of beer. By the time we got on stage, I was a lot tipsier than normal, but I guess from adrenaline and muscle memory, I played close to perfect throughout the set. I did shove my guitar into the borrowed amp that I was using causing the cabinet to be scratched. 

After the set, my memory is there, but it’s a big blur. I had more to drink, talked to a lot of people and got excited to watch the Mormones. The next thing I remember is hanging out with these super fun and friendly girls. We had our arms around each other and were watching the Mormones, jumping around. They kept giving me glasses of Scotch. I don’t drink Scotch, but apparently I did that night. We hugged and told each other we were best friends forever... we loved each other. At some point while we were jumping around in front of the stage, my cell phone must have dropped out of my pocket, and then we jumped up and down on it over and over, probably destroying it. I’ll never know because I could never find it again. I cried about my phone, and then I cried about getting paid (?). I stumbled up and sat on the couch backstage in between the Mormones, not seeing things too well. My husband found me and dragged me out. I had to say goodbye to his parents, and I had the decency to at least be embarrassed by my über drunken state. He was really annoyed with me, and looking back, I certainly don’t blame him. We had to catch a flight to Bergen in the morning at 7 a.m.  At the time, my immature reaction to him being irritated with me was for me to irritate him further. I tried to run away and apparently was adamant that I would be taking a taxi back to Kentucky. He couldn’t get me to stop running, so he had to sit on me. He said that as he sat on me, it was as if I was a turtle. He was sitting on my back and my head is extended out with arms and legs fully engaged and flailing as if trying to swim out from under him. Somehow he got me calmed down and into bed just two hours before we had to be up to get to the airport.

As we took the flybussen out to the airport that morning, I was all kinds of queasy, and upset about my lost cellphone. I was very apologetic to my sweet man, who puts up with me, and I was perhaps still a little bit drunk. I was in the habit of being very responsible at our shows and could manage a nice buzz and ride that, I guess everyone has their night.  A few evenings later my husband got to have his turn when we played in Graz, Austria as seen in the previous post (

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I’ll have a T-Shirt with an insult please

Looking back at that European tour, the tour that I ended up with a black X on my passport ( makes me remember so many funny things that happened. I ‘ve decided that I need to go back and remember them on paper so that I won’t forget. It’s a shame I’m not better at journaling as things are happening…but I really like to “be” in the moment. Anyway…. The flight to Graz was another Ryan Air extravaganza. This time we would be leaving from Torp outside of Oslo somewhere, flying back into England (with the black X) for a stopover and then on to Graz.

The Ryan Air employees at the Torp airport were very unfriendly and it seemed as though they hated their jobs. From my own personal experience, Norwegians aren’t the best at customer service in general, but these people really took the cake. Even though our flights were cheap we had to haggle each flight with our baggage because we had some guitars with us, which make you WAY over the weight limit. In most places we were able to talk them into waiving the over limit fee if the flight wasn’t completely booked. Not at Torp. No way. These people wouldn’t budge and they were mean about it to boot. Well, we ended up having to call our booking agent very early that morning to tell him that we had to pay the full fee and that he was going to have to give a credit card. He was super unhappy, making strange, unintelligible sounds of confusion, groaning with stress on the other end from his warm Swedish apartment. The flight itself was fine and we arrived in London without a hitch until we went through the customs line.

Here we were, back in London but this time at a different airport. Going through customs, this time we were able to say that we were just in London to make a connection to Graz. Hold on, hold on, hold on…. The customs agent gathered us all to the side and went over our passports, asked us about our “deception,” and told us that we were allowed to be here in London, but if we try to step foot outside of the airport and sneak into England they would hunt us down… possibly kill us. Well, he didn’t say kill us but he did say hunt us down. We assured him we didn’t want to be in London. I may have even said that Graz is probably a lot nicer…hehehe. After over 45 minutes at customs they finally allowed us to pass. We went to the gate area and had delicious Guinness on tap while waiting.

The flight to Graz was unbelievably beautiful, flying over the Alps. The Alps made the flight attendants that constantly walk the aisles hawking items disappear and all that I could see were beautiful, jagged, snowcapped mountains, stretching out in every direction. As we landed in Graz, the incredible tour manager, Klaus was waiting for us. We liked him right away. He drove us into town and took us to a restaurant. It was so beautiful, the weather was warm even though it was February, so we ate outside. The restaurant had signed pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger hanging up inside in which he wrote stupid things like; “I’ll be back.”

Our show was to be right around the corner and Klaus took us to the club where we found our rental gear. We got everything set up and did a sound check. Everything was super chill and relaxed. There was lots of booze flowing and we had a feeling of relief that Klaus was there to take care of everything and we could finally slack off a little bit. The show was pretty early since, like most clubs we played at, this club would host a DJ, drinking, and dancing after the show. We were opening up for a super nice band from London, who we thought really sucked musically, but they were super nice people. We went on stage and played a really tipsy, but solid set, and when we were finished, we hung out more, talked with people, and drank a lot. I went back to work at the merchandise table, and after awhile, the headlining band came back to sell their stuff next to ours. They had played a good set and people really seemed to like them. After a bit, my husband staggered up, pretty drunk and started talking about how shitty the headlining band was. I tried to stop him but I couldn’t, he kept going, and since I was standing there with said band, I grabbed his arm and dragged him off across the room. He asked me what the hell I was so upset about. I told him that he was berating the headlining band while standing right next to the headlining band. It took him a couple of minutes to understand what I was saying. Once it sunk in and I said that I was going to have to go back there and get our stuff, and I thought he should apologize, he promptly found that to be a great time to go limp and just pretty much give up. Instead of going back to the merch, I asked my band-mates to go pack the stuff up as I walked my drunk and incoherent husband to Klaus’ car, stuck him in the backseat where he slumped over and immediately began to snore. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

So much to do!

going from here

to here

There is so much to think about. If we are going to move to Norway in the next year, we have a lot to figure out! Should we sell or rent our house? I would like to rent it, but is that crazy? Also, we own my mom’s house and will be managing it from afar. I guess we’ll have to figure out taxes and all of that too. We have 2 cars and I would like to bring them both…cars are really expensive in Norway. But I don’t know if the cost with taxes, and licensing fees will be so expensive that it isn’t worth it. I need to figure out how much everything is going to cost! We have 2 cats and 2 dogs too… that’s certainly going to be challenging and expensive. I wonder if my kids will find it easy to learn Norwegian. They’ve been visiting Norway all of their lives, but they haven’t learned much of the language. Will they be able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian schools without falling behind? I hope their transition will be easy and painless. There is so much more to think about. We’re excited though, and I think we’re definitely up for the challenge and the change. It will be good for us.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February 10, 2004

It was nine years ago and almost two months when my husband and I traveled to Norway to get married. We went for Christmas and planned to get married around the first week of January. We left CVG on December 19th and were both very excited. This was my first Christmas in Norway and I thought it was so cozy! Little electric candles in the windows of houses everywhere you went, and it looked so inviting and warm. Tasteful decorations  everywhere and a general spirit of good will made it seem even more special and romantic. Every home you went to offered delicious cakes, cookies, and coffee. The reflections from the snow made the long lasting darkness seem lighter, and act as its own Christmas light, shimmering against everything dark like magical holiday fairy dust. You probably get it. It was gorgeous and I was excited to be there, doubly excited to marry the love of my life.

Christmas came and went and we prepared ourselves for the mounds of paperwork and things we’d need to do in preparation of our wedding. We just wanted to have a little courthouse wedding with his mom, dad, and sister. I had been married before and didn’t want to have a big fuss. We had done a good bit of the paper work through email and were working with the American embassy in Oslo to make sure we would be okay to come back to the states afterwards to live. We started working with the county where my husband is from, sending them all necessary paperwork, talking to them on the phone and jumping through all of the hoops. We had to make a trip to Oslo to get paperwork done for my husband’s green card. He had to have x-rays, blood tests, among other things, and have interviews at the embassy.  By the 2nd week of January we were both starting to worry. We had already completed all of the paperwork and everything was basically good to go, and we had thought we’d be married by now, but there was a small hitch. My lawyer had sent my divorce decree via fed ex since the Romsdal Tingrett wanted to see it. When I got a copy to them, they had so many questions about it. One lady told us she didn’t understand something and was going to consult someone else. Several days later, someone else is looking at it and finds it suspect and wants to bring in yet another person to inspect it. Half of the time we would try to talk to someone they would be having a cake break, or would have left early. I started to doubt that Norwegians ever worked!  At this point we realize we need to change our ticket back to the US. We moved our ticket back to the last possible date without having to repurchase our tickets to February 14th, which is of course, Valentine’s Day.

We became miserable. I found it hard to sleep. We were both so stressed and the Christmas fairy dust blew over the mountains and went somewhere else making the dark envelope me and get inside my head. We decided to put our rings on anyway to cheer us up. We had purchased them back home and had them inscribed on the inside. This did cheer us up a little. The next day, my husband’s dad said, why don’t you guys just drive up to Molde again and demand to talk to someone in person. “Refuse to leave until you get an answer” he told us. What did we have to lose really… by this time it was already February. We hopped into the car and made the windy one hour car trip though the fjords to Molde, marched in and demanded to talk to the people we’d been dealing with. They seemed really taken aback by our forcefulness and determination. I don’t think Norwegians typically push like that, but we were actually getting somewhere finally. We went into some woman’s office and poured over my divorce decree with a few other folks at the Romsdal Tingrett. They were really upset about one sentence that they felt didn’t translate right. They felt that it left too much ambiguity and perhaps I am not really divorced. After about an hour, they finally decided that I’m probably not collecting husbands and I’m most likely on the up and up. We got a wedding scheduled in the court house for the afternoon of February 10, 2004…. In just 3 days! That’s okay, we’ll take it!

On our wedding day, we woke up and hurriedly got ready. My husband’s mom insisted on ironing my dress, we rushed and rushed and were out the door with plenty of time to make the drive back up to Molde. As we were driving there was some sort of accident or avalanche up ahead and the whole road was closed down. It was bad enough that everyone is shutting off their engines and getting out of their cars to smoke, talk, etc. CRAP!!! After what felt like HOURS we were ready to move. Luckily, we pulled into town with about 10 minutes to spare. Not ideal, but at least we won’t be keeping the judge waiting. We were about 2 blocks from the courthouse when my soon to be mother in law exclaims “we don’t have a bouquet!!” She yelled for my soon to be father in law to pull over, jumped out of the car and disappeared around the corner (I didn’t speak or understand Norwegian at this point so my husband had to explain to me what was happening, and she bolted before I had time to protest). I was about to cry and extremely upset and stressed. My husband was too. My mother in law is a quick little lady though, and she came bursting back around the corner with a beautiful bouquet of mini roses.  We flew into the parking lot and walked into the courthouse with something like two minutes to spare. It was all good. The judge was relaxed which made me relax. He told us the procedure and took us into the room. They had it decked out with Norwegian and American flags, and the judge said everything in both English and Norwegian which I thought was really nice.  It really turned out lovely, and I ended up being really grateful for the beautiful flowers. My mother in law dried the bouquet and has it displayed in the room we sleep in when we visit.

That evening, we had a nice big celebratory meal and champagne with family. We packed our bags quickly and got on the night train to Oslo. We spent our first night as a married couple in a sleeper car on the NSB train. It was actually super romantic in my eyes. We had a 9:00 a.m. appointment with the US embassy in Oslo, another interview, had to show our marriage certificate and get his passport stamp with his temporary green card. The train got in at six a.m., so it gave us plenty of time to check into our hotel, shower, and prepare. After the wedding actually happened, things went down very smooth and effortless. The sun was starting to stay out longer, it was February. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Year, new decisions

We said something, my husband and I. We said something with 100% resolve to do what we said. We’ve never said it for real before. We’ve said that we “intend to “or we “would like to”, or “someday.”  But this time we have decided that within a year, we are definitely, 100% going to move to Norway.

One of the hardest things I’m going to have to do is tell my family that we are doing it and that our mind is made up. I know there is going to be a lot of trepidation, anxiety, etc. I am going to have to work out a new schedule with my eldest son’s dad which could either go really well (because he’ll be thrilled that I’m leaving the country), or could go totally horrible meaning more money, more lawyers, and so on. I am just letting go and deciding that I will confront and deal with whatever may come in terms of fallout and hard feelings.I believe it will ultimately be worth it.

When the two of us married in Norway, it was understood that we would live in the U.S. since I share joint custody with my ex-husband and we had promised to be great co-parents together, meaning we would stick close by until he went to college or was almost done with High School sort of thing. Plus, he has a little half-brother he’s very close to. Surely it would not be nice to split them apart. Well, that did not quite pan out, did it?

We have always wanted to live close to my husband’s parents and give our son, who is half Norwegian, the experience of living in his father’s culture, knowing his grandparents really well, learning Norwegian, and enjoying the benefits of growing up in a society where he can be a little freer. We too, can benefit from not worrying about how we are going to pay for him to go to college. I can do music, start a label, or do something really creative and try to make a go of it without having to worry about not having health insurance. We will have more time off, which will give me plenty of time to come back here and help out or just visit. Yep, it’s what we have for sure decided, and I’m telling you right now that I can’t wait!

There is a ton to think about and a lot that will need to be done and get in order. But, I plan to start now.