“I see her everywhere I go. Sometimes I see my father too, pourin’ over blueprints that he drew. He made his way with sweat and brains, so I could ride this first class train. Well, he didn’t even know where to, only knew it wouldn’t be long…always moving on.” Those are the opening lines to another great song by John Hiatt called Moving On. The song speaks to me about how life’s all about change, about the process of “moving on” to the next thing or maybe the next phase of life. I think about this often, living here in Oslo. The panoramic image of Oslo you see below is something I created a few months ago for a fellow blogger at The Oslo Eye: he writes a very useful and entertaining series of articles about local commerce from the expat’s perspective. Being the capital city and home to the royal family, Oslo is the largest and arguably the most cosmopolitan city in Norway. I’ve mentioned before that Norway is a very wealthy country, and you can really see it in the architecture of the modern buildings that are scattered around the waterfront and other sections of town. You see it also in the many cranes that rise above construction sites and the city skyline, testifying to some deep Norwegian pockets and confident visions for the future…we don’t see a lot of that in a world that is hunkered down trying to ride out a grinding economic downturn. The good news is that while change is unsettling, it also always signals opportunity for those who can see it and are willing to embrace it. So good luck, keep calm and carry on, and wear glasses if you need ‘em. (1 September, 2011 Oslo, Norway).
The title comes from a hilarious and spot-on song by John Hiatt, an anthem to the plague of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SADD. Like many maladies once thought to be the exclusive purview of old wives, SADD is now a commonly accepted mental disorder thought to affect up to ten percent of the population in some northern regions. As the days get longer here, tempers get shorter, you tend to overeat and oversleep…if you’re not careful you emerge like Punxsutawney Phil in the spring fat, crabby, and in serious need of orthodontia. Treatments include light therapy, melatonin supplements, and even couch time with Dr. Feelgood, but what seems to work best for me is exercise and being out and about as much as possible. That seems to be the regime that Norwegians have worked out over time…they embrace the outdoors in the winter like a religion, regardless of weather or temperature they are hiking or skiing or even just sitting outside the cafes on sheepskins soaking it up. Like I always say, when in Rome…eat all the gelato you can find, that stuff is awesome! (5 October, 2011 Oslo, Norway)
When John Hiatt sings “maybe love’s like that for me, maybe I can only see as you take away the light”, he’s wondering if love is recognizable only as it fades, like a sunset is only visible as the light is leaving. The man knows about pain, and I imagine so does the guy rowing in the image below. If you’ve never tried rowing as an exercise, I can’t say I recommend it. Rather, I’d advise you to sit down until the feeling passes…rowing is a lot of work! If you’re looking for exercises that burn lots of calories though, rowing is right up there with running, aerobics, playing basketball, and my new favorite- cross-country skiing! There are more than 90 kilometers of ski trails lit by floodlights just in Oslo, and skiing them is free! When you live like we do in a city second only to Tokyo as the most expensive place on earth, you have a keen interest in anything that is free. So, keep your rowing and bring on the skiing, and we’ll both be happy with the bargain! (16 September, 2011 Arno River, Firenze, Italy)