Joni (and Flowers)

Do you remember that quote from Emma Thompson’s character in “Love Actually”? She said: “Joni Mitchell thought your cold English wife how to feel.”

Yesterday my Grandmother died. She has been sick with cancer for some time. Although she was
eighty-seven she had a strong heart, and could easily have lived for ten more years. I don’t think she was ready to die, but cancer is a cruel decease. It doesn’t ask before it takes.

We were never very close my Grandma and me, and the distance grew bigger when I moved abroad. The last time I saw her was on Christmas Eve when we went to the hospital to visit her. We brought her flowers, and she was moved to tears. So were my brother, my parents and I.

It’s always sad to lose a family member, but when my mother called me yesterday (in tears obviously) I couldn’t (to my surprise) feel anything. It was not a shock (we knew). She was old (it is normal).

Later I started tidying the apartment, and put my iPod on. I always have quite a lot of Joni on there, I like having her around. Soon I was crying my heart out. It started to dawn on me that I would never see my Grandma again. Death is so dark, and so sad. We have no choice but to accept it, and deal with it when it comes. It can come into your life at any time.

I didn’t know to what point Joni Mitchell is able to connect me with my your own feelings. Listening to her is a physical experience. Grieving a family member in her company made me realize that she too is a family member. Her music is so close to home for me, and I cherish her even more now that I  know that. Often, listening to her is like looking oneself in the mirror. I think that’s part of her appeal. When you don’t understand yourself, she helps you understand.

Rest in peace Grandma, and thanks for everything…

Music Straight from the Source

Just wanted to introduce you to two of my favorite Norwegian musicians Mari Kvien Brunvoll and Stein Urheim. They are both well known in Bergen (on the west coast of Norway) and around the country for their special talent and their illuminating charisma (beautiful people both of them). This October they released an EP on Jazzland Records (founded in 1997 by pianist Bugge Wesseltoft to release his “New Conception of Jazz”, maybe you know it). The EP is called Stein & Mari’s Daydream Community. It can be bought on iTunes and on vinyl from Jazzland Records. Enjoy!

More info: http://www.jazzlandrec.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=306:stein-and-mari&catid=1:latest

These guys are really inspiring. Wish them all the best and lots of success!

Welcome 2012! I’ll Give You No Promises, But I Have A Plan

The new year is upon us, whether we are ready for it or not. More than once I’ve read newspaper articles on how “busy” 2011 has been, and not in the good sense of the word. Bad news has followed bad news has followed bad news. Earthquake in Japan, revolution and violence in the Middle East, terror in Norway, economic crisis and the list goes on. I think we can all agree upon this: Good riddens 2011!

For me this is true, both when I look at the political situation in the world, and when I look at my own life. I have spent most of this year without any work. It has not been an ideal situation, but I have hopes for 2012. I cannot believe that a person with my CV can be without work, even in this economy, but that’s just me… I now have help from the employment office, and things are definitely looking better than they have in a long time. I’m trying to believe in this idea that says “if you think positively, good things will happen to you”. I’m planning to test it out anyway, to see if there is something in it. I’ll let you know if it works.

Things also started to look lighter when I began to sing in a choir last November. It seems like baroque music is my thing! It’s always a good idea to get out of the house and DO something when you’re unemployed. The choir is good, and the pieces we sing are quite demanding. You really have to work to keep up. We had a concert just before Christmas, which went well. Can’t wait for the next project!

I’m beginning to understand now that it doesn’t take much to turn a bad situation better. Singing makes me happy, so I sing. Singing alone all the time is hard, so I spend some time singing with other people.

Now, I’m not one of those suckers who make promises for the year to come. I do have plans, but I’m not going to beat myself up over not being able to realize them perfectly right away. My plan is the same as the one I had last year, and the year before that. Last New Years Eve I was in Uruguay looking out over the river towards Buenos Aires. Then I wanted to write, and I want the same thing now. We all want different things for ourselves, but we’re not always capable to make them happen. I guess I’ve come to understand that the only thing you can do is just keep going. I’ve found this year to be complicated creatively because of being nervous about my economy, but I’m going to continue to try to get over it. Many writers talk about the importance of a daily routine. I believe in this. Also, the only thing I really want for myself is to be an artist.

I think I know what my perfect daily routine would look like. I get up at five or six, write for an hour, do pilates, have breakfast, go to work, come home with enough energy to compose and play the piano, have dinner, read in bed and sleep early. Of course I’ll have time for an occasional singing lesson and choir practice.

Haha! When I look at it like that, written on the page, it sounds so naive! What about kids, if I have them? Who’s going to take care of the dog I want? In what universe does anyone come home from work without being completely dead? Who cleans the house and makes dinner? What about all the time I’ll use on the train, packed together with the rest of the population going home from work at 7 pm? What about energy, I’m always so tired all the time? What piano, I haven’t even bought it yet (freaked out about the price). Blablabla! Etc etc etc!

Still, that’s what I want, and no matter how naive it sounds, I’ll work towards having a life like that. That’s my plan for 2012. No promises, just a plan. As for the rest of the world, we can only hope that the year to come will be happier and more peaceful for as many of our fellow human beings as possible. At one point, it is also time to start doing something concrete to make other peoples lives better, not only concentrate on ourselves.

Happy New Year!