It feels like it's been five years.
It's only been one.
Well, one year and five months. 1 and 5.
I've been living here for 1 and 5.
Two times. 2.
That's how many times I went to see the cinema here. It's a bit bland, at least in the cinemas I've been to (maybe they have something else in Oslo). The size of the screen and the room is the same size as the home entartainment center of the marketing manager I worked with once back in the Philippines (this is a rare thing, of course. What I was trying to say is, a rich man's home entertainment center in the Philippines). AND, they don't watch the movie twice. Back then, my sisters and I watched the movie twice. Review. We review it. Because we can do so back home. We can either just sit there until the next screening comes up, or we can go out of the cinema, have our wrists stamped, get a little bit of fresh air, and buy popcorn or chips if we had extra money. Reviewing a film made us feel we got our money's worth. It was expensive going to the movies, after all. But wait, I think now you can't review a film anymore. The cinemas back home have become fancier - tickets can be purchased online, seats are numbered and you can choose which seats you'll like in fancy monitors. Before I migrated here, the IMAX replaced the normal cinema as "luxurious."
I haven't had an IMAX date with my sisters. I guess I'll have to do that when I get back home. It's always nice to bring some classic back, like movie dates with my sisters.
Four purple candles. 4.
That's what I see in front of me right now. I've pinned the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 on them, just like the way the interior decoration stores design them. I really don't have the talent for decorating, anyway. Of course I try. I splashed the apartment with red and black furniture.
Anyway, back to the candles. These four, purple candles are in preparation for Advent.
Back home, I only see these candles in church. One candle lit for every week of December. Maybe other homes have their own advent candles.
We didn't have in mine. We had a Christmas tree, the staple. And Christmas lights. Series. You know, those small bulbs in a series? One bulb goes out, and the whole line doesn't light. We also had a miniature Belen set. Little Jesus, little manger, little Mary, little Joseph, little star, little animals, little shepherd boy, and the three little kings. They can all fit on a table. Sometimes we place them under the tree. We also had gifts under the tree. We open them all together when the clock strikes 12midnight, December 25.
Last year was my first Christmas here, with T's family. The gift-opening lasted two hours. Or maybe more. There were more than 10 of us. The gifts are opened one by one. I'm not kidding. ONE by ONE. I don't know how many "Fint" (Nice or beautiful in English) I've said last year. I mean that's what I should do, right? Smile or say "Fint!" every time a gift is opened. So yeah, there were more than 10 of us. Multiplied by how many gifts each person received (each person gathers every gift he/she receives within the course of the Christmas season and stocks it up under the tree of the host family where he/she will celebrate Chrismas in). And every gift has to be opened one by one. Everyone has to wait for their turn; someone picks up a gift under the tree in random and reads the name of the receiver.
I guess it's just a matter of perspective. I mean, I could look at it as a very special way of doing it, because, well, you know, instead of the noisy chorus of "Wow!" or "Exactly what I wanted," and hands flailing, paper ripped and thrown everywhere, we sit around and give the spotlight to each person and and each gift opened. So yeah, maybe I can get used to this more behaved way of doing it.
Speaking of candles, there are 12 candles around the apartment. 12.
And several more in the cupboard. Apparently, they love candles here. Lotsa candles. I love them, too. That's one thing I embrace admiringly here. The culture of candles.
Klaudia, probably the closest to a best friend I can get here, is from Poland. She loves prettying a house up. And she's good at it, too. She said, "Have you noticed how much they love candles? I'm beginning to love candles, too!"
That day I thought, oh okay, maybe it's distinctively Norwegian.
You know that thing back home when every white foreigner is automatically an American (kids on the street shouting, Hey Joe! to a foreigner, for example)? It's a little bit like that with me. I mean, when I first saw all those candles in every home I've visited here, I thought, Maybe it's a Scandinavian thing, or a European thing, or a Not-American-Caucasian thing.
Anyway, whatever Thing it is, I like it. And now I have four candles on the center table, two in the kitchen table, one beside the second-hand diorama of women selling fruits and vegetables on the kitchen counter, the four Advent candles, four candles on the bar table, four in the bedroom, and one in the bathroom. Wait, that's not 12, that's 20 all in all. Math is That Thing I do not like.
So let's do this again. 20. There are 20 candles around the apartment.
One hour and two buses. 1 and 2.
That's how long it takes from home to school. One hour.
If my class starts at 9:15 in the morning, I have to leave the house by 8:15am. It takes me 10 to 13 minutes to walk to the bus-stop. My first bus arrives at 8:28. My second bus is at 8:58, which takes about 5 minutes to reach my second stop. I then walk for another 10 minutes to school.
Back home, they'd think this is crazy. And that maybe T and I should rent a place nearer to the school. But here, this is okay. EVERYONE walks here. And do they walk fast! When you look at them though, they look like they're just strolling. I try to walk the same pace as they do, but I think I look like I'm half-running. All this walking is healthy, that's what I tell my "habal-habal"-spoiled self. Besides, it's not dusty here. Of course, there are times I give in to my laziness and remind myself that I am NOT a physically active person. Then I'd start imagining jeepneys and trycicles and all those "habal-habal" zooming on the road, hot sun on my skin, dust sticking to my hair, and I think, I'd exchange this fresh air for them!
Pretty stupid, huh? That's what homesickness (and laziness) can do to a person - wish for polluted air.
If you're wondering what this school thing is, it's for one year. 1.
I am going to a journalism school for one year. I am enrolled in the program TV and Radio. Half the stuff they teach here, I already know. Maybe even three-fourths. The other chunk are new for me - Norwegian journalism history and technical editing. Well, there's the Norwegian language, too. Which is ALL THE TIME. Everything is in Norwegian - books, discussions, and canteen food names. I understand 80 percent of everything. Other times, I read Stephen King in between classes.
I answer the major examinations in English. They give me that, at least.
Five hours. That's how many hours I sleep, average. 5.
I don't know. I guess all those missed hours of sleep back home because of work for the TV morning show or night news roving, insomnia, book-reading, and drifting off to imagination land until the witching hour of 3am has stuck with me. My mother wouldn't like this. She gets sleepy easily and early (sometimes she even doses off while driving, which is a VERY serious thing and something she should never do). She knows, though. She knows how stubborn I am when it comes to sleeping early.
To be fair with myself, I try. I really do.
But I can't. I just can't.
Speaking of sleep, it's midnight now. Past 12, actually. 12:12.
I think maybe I should try harder.