Thursday, 31 May 2012

Running again?

I walked almost ten kilometers yesterday (nearly six English miles). Today the muscles in my lower body are certainly paying for it. I imagine it's a message to my brain; I should probably start running again, like I did last summer. It was hard work, but by the end of the summer I could actually run five kilometers. What an improvement from running less than one kilometer! But the thought of running in Belfast is oh so difficult. I really can't stand it. Running should be carried out somewhere where you don't have to worry about traffic or people getting in the way, and unfortunately Belfast has loads of both. Enjoy the images above of my sweaty face having finished my first race at the end of last summer.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for the first time in three years and it went very well. Apparently my teeth are in great shape and I should continue just the way I have been so far. High-five! I did get a clean though with a tiny spinning machine thing and it hurt. Like hell. But I guess that's just me being whiny.

Belfast is rainy again, and it's oddly refreshing. As much as I love sunshine (and I'm glad to see freckles appearing on my face again, I spend the rest of the year thinking I look sickly without them), Belfast combines it with humidity which means frizzy hair and clothes stuck to your body in the most uncomfortable way. I'm hoping to get some normal, dry sunshine when I go to Sweden. The countdown for going to Sweden has begun, six days left!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tuesday update

I've been ferociously avoiding computers (not really) the last few days as the sun was out and we decided to head out to the countryside. Visiting people with a garden and all that. Quick update of what's important right now:
1     Been applying for lots of jobs. Hoping I'll get a call from at least one of them.
2     I finished the fourth season of Mad Men and it was good. Only one more season left...
3     In eight days I'll be in Sweden!
4     In Sunday's Game of Throne my friend appears a couple of times. He's trying to avoid rocks falling down. He's not even a Lannister.... I'm so jealous.
5     The heatwave seems to be over for Northern Ireland. Hey, we had a good week. I'll see you next year.
6     In between BBQs and job applications, I also watched Take Shelter. It's not bad.
7     I'm going to the dentist tomorrow for the first time in three years. A little nervous.
8     I finished The Blind Assassin before the weekend and oh. I'll wrote more about it some other time.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Terrible photos

It's been warm lately, and I've joined Instagram despite having a terrible camera and also despite complaining about it so much. I figure it'll make me practice taking more photos of everyday life until I get my iPhone. (Oh iPhone, I long for thee. I shall see you thou in September, babe.)

It's difficult practicing when the only people you ever spend time with are a) a handsome but hating-photos-with-a-passion-type of man and b) an individual suffering from camera-shyness the last few yeas (that'd be myself). I'm gonna have to get over that.

The first picture was taken from the view of the train when I was on my way to my non-paid gig as a classroom assistant. This was a beautiful day, but the mornings always look gloomy here. The second is from when me and Steve had ice cream at Lisburn Road today (also a beautiful day). My photo skills offer you a sneak peak of his arm on the right, you're welcome. The third is the view from our tiny window in our bedroom, which I took when  I was revising. Gloomy day. The fourth is a day or two after, when the sun arrived to Belfast and I sat outside while revising instead.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Post-exam foot-related travesty

I have two things to tell anyone who reads my blog. The first one is: all my exams are over! (Hooray!) This also means that the second year of my Psychology degree has come to an end, and only one year remains. (Plus like another billion years if I get to do my doctorate, which is Plan A. Plan B is to join the circus as the hairiest woman in the world.) It's not until exams are over that you realise that your muscles can finally relax and you can take a deeper breath than ever before, because they really hang over you like a dark cloud. Most of the time you spend revising you feel miserable and any time that you're not revising you feel guilty. But as from half five yesterday afternoon, exams are over for this year.

And this leads me to my second item for today's blog post: my feet are completely wrecked. And somehow I think this is my friend's fault. Yesterday when I was done with my exam (which is on the second floor), I walked downstairs and somehow landed on the first floor for a little while to sip on post-exam-beer and just generally feel the stress slowly fade away. (Sidenote: Isn't that so typical here? Under your exam hall, there's a pub.) While I was there my friend suddenly exclaimed "Are you wearing your Converse without socks? Does it not hurt?"

Apparently, not wearing socks is completely alien to certain people. And so I had to answer in my most stuck up voice "In Sweden lots of people don't have to wear socks at all for the warmer six months of the year" as to point out that in Sweden the floors aren't as cold as they are here. This makes me sound like a terrible person, but I'm not really. It's just an on-going joke with this friend, we banter and make fun of each other's countries. Later on that night I decided to go out with my university friends to celebrate the end of the year and I still wasn't wearing socks but I changed into a pair of high heeled boots for good measure. I've worn these boots so many times before with tights and they're unbelievably comfortable.

However, at some point last night my feet started hurting. I ignored it and assumed that somehow, drinking wine inflated my sense of pain (uh yeah, because it's so well known that alcohol enhances rather than numbs pain) and anyway, everyone knows that wearing high heels pretty much always hurts. All is as it should be. But after positioning ourselves in a pub and I realised that walking without wincing was getting pretty difficult, I snuck to the bathroom to check on my poor feet. And they were massacred.

Today I'm wearing no less than six plasters on my feet. You might think I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but once I had sobered up in my own bed at home, the pain kept me awake. Not to mention the fact that my toes look horrific and I never want to see my shoes again. This is what I get for being such a shrew.

I really didn't mean for most of this blog post to discuss my feet. It's also really sunny outside, apparently it's going to stay this way all week and tomorrow I'm a classroom assistant!

Still from Bladerunner, found here.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

28 hours left until freedom.

In 28 hours I'm done with second year in Psychology. How crazy is that? (So crazy.)

Also, it's going to be nice weather for the entire week, although knowing the weather in Belfast there's only one rule to abide to: If the forecast says it's going to be sunny, it'll rain. If it says it's going to rain, it'll also rain.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Hey Nicole

In 24 hours (and a bit) your first Psychobiology exam will be over. You can't wait but you've also gotten into that stage half-full of gloomy thoughts or just plain old apathy. You don't know how the exam will go and a small part of you (a massively huge part really) wants to throw a massive tantrum and then go to sleep. That part understands that knowing about neurotransmitters and what goes on in the synapses is really important, but it just won't stick in your head. But instead of breaking down, you're going to force this part to think positively. If four days of studying hasn't gotten you very far, then starting a new topic today certainly won't make a huge difference. You should focus on going over the stuff that you've already sort of managed getting your head around, and if that comes up on the exam - lucky you. If it doesn't... Well, it's really only one teeny tiny module, right? In the long run it's worth like 3% of your entire mark.

Hey Nicole, biology is really not your thing, is it?

You know what, that's alright. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Study all of today and you'll know that you did your best when you leave that exam hall tomorrow. And then fist pump in the air when you remember that your next exam is on Social Psychology and I'm sure you will ace that.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Right now I see

Right now I see the screen of my laptop on a dusty table. It's not actually that dusty, but the table is black and so it will look dusty no matter how often I clean. On the left of me is a red study lamp (for studying, duh), a massive book that claims on the front that it'll teach me about Psychobiology but it's definitely not teaching me anything, and a filing system which contains all of our important stuff as well as a pair of cheap sunglasses, stationary and a journal. On the right of my laptop are two big notebooks, covered in my scribbles, as well as a number of pens, a red wooden horse (from my mom), a pale turquoise ceramic heart (from my brother), a giant red candle, knitting wool, and a giant stack of papers, bills and books to go into the filing system. I will deal with all of that once exams are over. Above me is a big white wall with a number of light brown spots and I wonder if it's mold. If it is, it's probably not very healthy of me to spend my days studying here and my nights sleeping here. I'll deal with that after exams.

I can hear the sound of my typing (no music, because I worry about state-dependent learning. If I learn everything to the sound of music, I might not remember it in the quiet of the exam hall. THIS is what Psychology does to your brain, folks!), and the shuffling of Steve in the other room, spoon clinking towards plate, the faint noise of the TV that's on in the background while Steve studies. (He's certainly not worried about state-dependent learning.)

I can smell coffee. I can taste coffee. If I had a more developed sense of smell like some of my most-likely-part-bloodhound relatives I would probably smell something more (maybe even whether these brown stains are mold or not) but my sense of smell is notoriously bad.

Other than that, life is pretty good.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Three great albums in May

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
This is probably a very difficult album to describe even to people who know music because it's such a mixture of styles and influences. When I listen to this album I feel like I'm charged with energy. Not raw energy, like when you listen to newly-formed bands that scream out their emotional difficulties and teenage angst, this is smooth and meticulously well-planned energy, the kind that go so easy on your soul that you feel like you'd like to run a marathon. (Well, at least sign up for it.) There's nothing boring about it, the songs vary from each other in terms of instruments and style, they even vary within the songs. Out of fourteen songs, I gave five of them four stars. 'Nuff said. (Sorry.) I particularly like Forced to Love, Ungrateful Little Father and Sweetest Kill.

Field Music - Plumb
A friend of mine recommended this album and I was sceptical... But I shouldn't have been. It's a very good album. There's a 70s, retro feeling about it, it makes me think of British seaside and rainy summer days. Not surprisingly, I constantly feel like I'm listening to Metronomy as that is exactly what their last album made me think of. And, what possibly is a giant taboo when discussing music, I also sometimes feel like this could have been on a my-own-interpretation-of-The-White-Album. Is that wrong? Probably. There's nothing tough or angry about this album, but it certainly exists on its own terms. Not to mention, the vocals combined with the lyrics are brilliant. Choosing Sides and Guillotine are two of my personal favourites.

Kent - Jag Ar Inte Radd For Morkret
(Imagine the right Swedish letters replacing a few of the letters up there. English keyboard y'all know.) It is almost emotional for me to write what I think about this album because Kent is the band that made me realise how much good music that's actually out there once upon a time. In fact, this year probably marks the 10-year mark of when my music taste started developing. And I bet that there is an insanely huge amount of people in Sweden who would agree with me. Why is that? ... In my own humble opinion, Kent started off as being all about the lyrics, the ones who sang what teenage-you imagined that your own thoughts would be if you only were slightly more refined. As I got older, and as Kent got older, that connection between us was lost. At the time I thought that maybe I had changed, or maybe their sound had changed too much. The music was more mature, it was better... And yet they didn't touch my heart the same way they once did. Maybe it was a bit of both. But you know, I was wrong. Their new album has taken a few steps (a few years) back to the point where it reminds me of 2005's Du och Jag Doden. Maybe this is only an album that a true fangirl could appreciate as much as I do, but if that's the way things are, let me describe what I hear when I listen to this album: Hot air, warm tarmac, unforgiving sunshine, eyes behind a fringe, cheap wine, soft lips, dirty shoes and a sense of being invulnerable despite all.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Birthday wishes

I've now realised that there's actually less than a month left until it's my 22nd birthday (and I'm in Sweden, hooray) and I happen to love birthdays even though I'm far too old to get a bunch of presents. (Also, Steve's sisters gave him and me a restaurant meal plus a night at a fancy hotel, so I've already got my present from them. Brilliant gift.) Before it's my birthday however, I have exams to get through... That won't stop me from dreaming about things. These are the latest items I'm craving:

I also want colourful nail polish and bronzer for my cheeks. So. Who wants to anonymously tip off Steve about my birthday gifts?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Family of casual blogging

My mom started blogging about her journey towards getting straight teeth. This is probably not very interesting for you unless you understand Swedish (because it's in Swedish) or if you're interested in finding out more about the process. I'll link her anyway:

My youngest brother also started blogging, about music. However, I'm not going to link his blog because he's worried that someone he knows (like our other brother) will read it and make fun of him. It's a shame, because he's really funny, his English is good and he has a great taste in music. Perhaps I can convince him to "out" himself in the future.

I bet my other brother and my dad will start blogging. It's contagious.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Grizzly thoughts

Is "grizzly" a word? Suitable for when discussing weather I mean, not the bear. I accidentally said it when I meant that the weather is gray and drizzly, but Steve says it's not a word. Either way, it sums up Belfast-weather perfectly and considering how often the weather is gray and drizzly - there should be a word to sum it up. For time-saving purposes. The picture is grizzly, although it was taken in London last summer, rather than Belfast. If anything, Belfast is grizzlier.

I'm drinking instant coffee and taking a break in between revising for my second and third lecture for today. I have a detailed plan and if I follow it I should be sufficiently prepared for my exams (which are over in two weeks). I've also handed in my big project of the year, two days early. Having a plan calms me down, because I'm the kind of person who stress over exams and other life-affecting events. I have also realised that planning things in detail and always making sure that I know what's ahead is very important to me, and that's okay. There is a reason that I felt bad when I didn't care about my studies years ago. The dissonance between who I wanted to be, who I felt like I ought to be, and the person I was at that point put me in a bad place. (Cognitive dissonance theory for you there - you're welcome.) So now I make an effort to try to please my controlling self. To a certain extent. I'm not a very spontaneous person - that's okay.

Steve turned 23 years the other day and I childishly joked about how cool I feel every year when that month comes around when there's two years between us in age on paper. He replied that I'm weird (in a lovable way), but that's cool with me. I like to think back of the things that used to be important to me and applying them to my life now. In a month I will be twenty-two. According to my plan for life when I was several years younger I should be studying to become one of the following; teacher, journalist or psychologist. Check. I should have my own home, preferably somewhere outside of Sweden. Check. This home should be a loft on a high-rise building in a huge city, with brick-walls and giant windows. Uh. Not exactly. I should be single, but in a year or so I'll meet the man of my dreams. Well. I'm not single, but technically I might just be a little ahead of my goals there (cheesy, I know. Sorry). I should have had my driver's license for years by now. No, but I do plan on getting it over with before October this year. I should always have perfect hair. This goal is on the polar opposite of achieved. What is wrong with my hair?!

I've started volunteering at a school as a classroom assistant. I move around the classroom and help the kids with their spelling and maths. I cut and paste their homework into paper-bound books that they can bring home and show their parents. I work the photocopying machine like a pro. I clean up around the classroom. In general, I give the teacher a little bit more time to teach, rather than spending time doing all the extra things that teachers are expected to do. And I really enjoy it, more than I expected. There is a certain pressure in British schools, the young kids are pushed much harder than I feel that they are in Sweden. Or rather, teaching is a little less individualised. I think this levels out in the long run, there are bad things and good things about both teaching systems. After reading around it seems like maybe the British system is better for the high-achieving students, while the Swedish system is good for supporting the kids who struggle in school. The more I think about it, the less certain I am and whomever I talk to is most likely to prefer his or her own school background.

I really only logged on to write a little about the weather, but it seems that I had other things on my mind that needed to be written down. I'm sure very few will find my thoughts as interesting as I do, but then again, blogging should be as much for oneself as for others.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Air and Light and Time and Space

"— you know, I've either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the
but now
I've sold my house, I've found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I'm going to have a place and the time to

no baby, if you're going to create
you're going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you're going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you're on 
you're going to create with part of your mind and your
body blown 
you're going to create blind
you're going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don't create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

Air and Time and Light and Space - Charles Bukowski