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October 24, 2007


My friend Aina won the last comment competition, and her blog challenge to me was to write about her. As of this month, Aina and I have been friends for ten years. This entry will probably be the most sentimental piece of writing you have ever read on this site. But Aina, this is not red-wine-induced. I never drink and blog.


I first met Aina at drama class ten years ago. We were both new girls in the class, we were the youngest, and we noticed each other immediately. I noticed Aina because she spent the five minutes before our first class bouncing against a wall. Also, her bangs were a very bright shade of pink. (Although she may have dyed them after our first meeting, I can't remember). Compared to this dramatic first impression, I don't know what made me stand out from the crowd. Maybe it was because I was so much shorter than all the other girls. For whatever reason, Aina told me later, she saw me and thought: "This girl is going to be my friend."

Many of my other friends, both the ones I knew before Aina and the ones I met later, have asked me why the two of us are friends. We look and act like a childrens' book illustration of opposites: tall and short, dark-skinned and pale, loud and quiet. (Not to mention - oh, the irony! - she's allergic to coffee.) At parties, she's the center of attention, while I cheer her on from a corner where I'm having some sort of serious conversation. Our interests, feelings towards school, politics and much of our taste in music, clothes and hobbies only occasionally match up. Had we met at school, we would probably have been in different crowds, and we might never have had a real conversation. 

Making friends in drama class was different from making friends in regular school. We all had to wear head-to-toe black in class and of course costumes on stage, so seeing people in their real clothes was unusual. We got used to doing weird things together: voice exercises, fistfights without touching, pushing invisible boxes in slow motion, balancing on tight-ropes that weren't really there. Looking back, I realize that drama class was as much about imagining things as it was about acting them out. It was a weekly escape. No matter what was going on in the rest of my life, I wasn't supposed to think about it in class. And no matter what the rest of my friends and acquaintances did or said, Aina was separate from them.

We shared an "abstract" sense of humor and (over-)active imaginations. We could (all right, we still can) spend hours having "What if?" conversations, making up increasingly unlikely scenarios and storylines. Sometimes these ideas would become short stories or scripts, but usually it was just a way to pass the time.  We both kept diaries (my entries were usually short stories describing my experiences chronologically, while Aina's journal was an apparently random mix of sketches and stream-of-consciousness). We often called during the day to tell each other about our dreams. Each of the three years that a part of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy came out, we would stay up until 6 AM discussing it. I don't think any other person has ever made me laugh as much as she has. Sometimes I missed having a best friend whom I could also swap clothes with, and often it annoyed me that we lived more than walking distance apart, but other than that, our differences made the friendship interesting, not complicated.

Other friends did complicate things. I was a different person when I was with Aina, and I think she was a different person when she was with me. When there were other people there, neither of us quite knew how to behave. Even people we were both friends with, were often difficult to spend time with in groups. The changes we both went through over the years only made our differences greater. We e-mailed and visited less and less, and by the time we had both graduated from high school, we barely saw each other. She visited me once at the university, and sometimes we were invited to the same parties. After months of silence between us, she sent me a long e-mail update, and the Tori Amos album The Beekeeper, because it was too beautiful not to be shared. Although I still credit her with introducing me to Tori Amos, I don't think I was all that impressed at the time; I had so many other things on my mind.

The morning after Midsummer's Eve in 2006, I woke up in my new apartment. I don't know if it was the shrimp, the chicken or the wine, but I have never on any morning before or since felt worse. At two PM, having barely made it through breakfast and some random tv movie, I picked up my phone, intending to call last night's hostess. For some reason, I ended up talking to Aina instead. It was our first phone conversation in about a year, but I'm pretty sure I didn't just misdial. There must have been some reason for the following conversation:

"I feel so awful, I still haven't finished breakfast."

"Me too. Midsummer?"



"And I had the weirdest dream..."

"So did I!"

And just like that, we were back to normal.

Today our circles of friends have overlapped much more than before, but she is still the one I call to get a completely different perspective on whatever I'm thinking about. We celebrated our ten year friendship anniversary a few weeks ago. I could write something sweet about how we've always been there for each other through ten years of trials and tribulations, but it would be stretching the truth a bit. We've lived two very different lives, and we haven't always understood each other. But more than most, if not all, of my friends, she has influenced me and made me a compeletely different person from the one I would have been without her. And every once in a while, she'll say something that tells me that she really gets me, despite all the outward differences. Over those ten years, we've had fights, hysterical laughter, a few tears, deep conversations, random conversations only we could understand, hundreds of inside jokes, milk and cookies, coffee and cookies, cookies, second helpings of blueberry pie, very interesting outfits, and a lot of Pringle's.

Posted by Julie at 1:38 PM | TrackBack

October 22, 2007

Før du eventuelt kjøper Sony Ericsson T250i fra xd.no...

Anna sliter med både Sony Ericsson og nettstedet xd.no, og hun prøver å bruke bloggerens makt. Jeg har etterhvert sett at jeg kommer skummelt høyt opp på søkemotorer, slik at hva jeg skriver om ting faktisk kan tenkes å nå lesere jeg ikke kjenner personlig. Og jeg vet at kommentarer som denne kan gi resultater som dette. Derfor tenker jeg at all linking hjelper.

før du kjøper Sony Ericsson T250i fra xd.no, les dette.

Posted by Julie at 9:52 PM | TrackBack

October 19, 2007


I have sat through my last mandatory "how-to-write-a-political-science-paper" class! And to celebrate: "The Wikipedia Gap". I couldn't have said it better myself.

That won't stop me from adding a few of my own comments:

In every one of these usually tedious classes, the question of using Wikipedia in term papers has come up. In general, we are usually warned to be careful with any net-based source and more or less forbidden to use Wikipedia. The reason for this is supposedly that Wikipedia is not written by experts, so it's likely to be wrong. My answer is that Wikipedia is written by experts - that's the whole point. People write about their own home towns, hobbies and obsessions - all their little areas of expertise. And mistakes are corrected. The reason not to referr to Wikipedia in university papers is that it's an encyclopedia. It's very basic. Most of the information you can find there can also be found in other more detailed documents (books, studies, specialized web sites) and if you are serious about researching something, you look further than the encyclopedia. In my opinion, (and the vast majority of people who write and edit books seem to agree with me), there is no need to write a source reference when you state basic facts like capital cities and dates. Even if you didn't know it before you read it somewhere, anything that Google will tell you 500 million times in half a second is common knowledge. Yet we're still told to write "(Author Year:page number)" after practically every sentence in every term paper. The point of referring to where you got information, is so that the reader can learn more by checking out your original source or check up on your original source if they think you're wrong. No reader is going to think: "Wow, Alexis de Tocqueville was born in 1805?!? That's fascinating - I must go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocqueville to learn more!"

I got this article from my dad, and I'd like to repeat one of the comments to his post, which continues the discussion in a slightly different direction:

"Problemet i skulen er altså ikkje å få aksept for bruken av IKT, og fleire skular nyttar i stor grad kjelder frå kollektive kunnskapssamfunn, og tar det inn over seg som eit viktig ledd i danninga av elevane. Problemet er at ein ikkje får uttelling for slikt arbeid når kunnskapen skal målast. Kan skjøne ein vil kome til å konkludere med at IKT-satsinga i skulen er fånyttes, sidan ein på eksamenar og prøvar ikkje vil sjå merkbare resultat?"

Basically, schools (including most departments at the University of Oslo) use IT for everything except evaluating what students have learned. The result is that students of International Studies are literally asked to solve the problem of the Middle East by sitting alone with a piece of paper and a pencil for four hours.

Posted by Julie at 4:19 PM | TrackBack

October 16, 2007

Hvorfor er jeg så populær plutselig?

HVA?!? Og igjen HVA?!?

Man kan lære mye av å ha Statcounter, som blant annet viser hvordan folk finner siden din. Sprøtt. Lurer på hvor lenge dette varer. 

Posted by Julie at 9:16 PM | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

"The problem is not your thighs, sweetie; it's your head. Now about the shoes..."

Read this first. Notice how I am being told to shut up. Notice how in the comments I am encouraged to blog anyway. So I am.

Disclaimer: It is possible to read this as a critique of the post I just linked to, or as criticism of the writer Sjokoladepiken for even posting that post. This is not my intention at all. This is a general comment about something that has been on my mind off and on for years.

And then, perfectly in tune with my own blogging schedule, Dollymix links to an article by Jane Shilling about women and food. She admits that she has never dieted and writes: “I’ve been feeling awfully lonely lately, and I thought it might help to set up a support group for British women who have a normal relationship with food. There must be a couple of you out there.”

Being a girl with a lot of friends who are girls, I have had hundreds of conversations about food and dieting, not to mention thousands of conversations about disliking one's thighs and knees and feet and seriously, there is not a body part out there that no one has issues about. I usually don't contribute much to these conversations. Firstly, while I do have some issues, I have a lot of other things on my mind, and I find many of these things more interesting than my own legs. Secondly, if there is something about my appearance that I'm really uncomfortable with for whatever reason, I don't want to draw attention to it by constantly pointing it out to everyone. Thirdly, if I think through all the different aspects of my appearance, I really think that I'm happy about more things than I am unhappy about.

This means I can sometimes come off as insensitive, dull, stuck-up and maybe in denial about my own looks. Friends will tell me they feel fat, and when I don't manage to repeat the expected phrase (“Me too”? “No, you are SO skinny”? What's my line again?) they think I'm weird (or they tell me to shut up). So here's what I really want to say in these situations: If you are a close friend of mine, and this is really important to you, listening and sympathising is in my job description as “friend”. But if you are someone I don't know that well, my reaction will probably not make you feel better.

Because this isn't subject matter that I want to discuss with every girl I talk to. I don't believe that this is or should be a topic of conversation that unites all girls. Notice how Sjokoladepiken tagged her post commenting on The Calorie Quiz under “girliness”. This isn't a reflection on her personally, or even specifically, because many people think like this. I just find it interesting that counting calories falls into the same category as peep-toe stilettos, lacy pink bras and bright red lipstick. It all fits into “stuff you might find in Cosmo”, but why? Shilling writes: “(B)ecause body image is implicated with fashion, media and other commercial interests, including the vastly lucrative diet-and-treatment industry, the “madness” continues to be treated as an idiosyncratic indulgence, like a taste for couture frocks or expensive facials.”

While I'm not going to go into the whole “Women's Interests” debate, I will say: Lipstick, lingerie and shoes are fun, light-hearted conversation topics, which I am comfortable discussing with any girl who wants to (and any guy who feels offended that I just wrote “girl” and not “person”). Dieting and self-esteem issues are serious topics that for some people cause a lot of emotional distress. Counting calories is not a harmless hobby. Feeling ugly on a regular basis is not a good thing. Liking your own body, not because it's perfect, but because it's your own, is something all women should do. We should not be ashamed of this. We should not feel abnormal if we're not dieting, considering plastic surgery or hating the way we look.

Studies show that women are more upset about the aspects of our appearance that we believe we can change ourselves (hair, skin and of course weight) than the things we believe to be completely out of our hands (height, shoe size). It appears that the guilty feeling of not having done a good job is worse than the actual “feeling ugly” part. So a natural first step to happiness is to accept that, without surgery, there is a lot about appearance that you can't do a thing about. It's not your fault, so stop feeling bad, and there is no advice that will help, so stop asking. Second step is to get it through your head that your issues are in your head. That I like the way I look has to do with my attitude, not my dress size. I know this because while my dress size hasn't changed in years, the way I feel when I look in the mirror changes depending on my mood. Third step is to stick to normal, healthy habits. No diets, no resolutions you'll break within a week. Shilling's miracle diet regime, the one that has kept her in the same size from her late teens to her late forties, is this:

"Step 1. Eat three proper meals a day, made from fresh ingredients. Eat nothing else in between. You are not hungry. You are bored. Go for a walk or have a glass of water. While you’re at it, think about people who are properly hungry and feel ashamed. 2. At mealtimes, stop eating when you are full. We’re not on the ration now, it is fine not to finish your plateful. 3. Walk briskly around the park in your lunch hour (or walk to work, or walk the dog after work, or whatever). Take the family with you and save the money the gym would have cost you to go out for supper and a movie. Er, that’s it. Now, please can I have my own telly series?”

Just as cupcate writes on Dollymix, we're all different, and we should have (healthy) snacks if we're hungry between meals. However, what Shilling is trying to say is that most of us don't need diets or miracles or to know exactly how many calories we're eating. We just need to establish some healthy habits and stick to them.

Let's get into the habit of having healthy conversations.



The title of this post is a line Carrie says to Charlotte in "Sex and the City"


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October 12, 2007

Blogging har en funksjon likevel

Hjorthen forklarer hvorfor blogging er nyttig (les først her,  i hvert fall hvis du ikke er vant til å lese Hjorthen)

Posted by Julie at 12:36 AM | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

First sentence

I "Searched inside" The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan at Amazon.com. This is the first sentence:

What voters don't know would fill a university library.

Well, I certainly hope so. If you can't fill a university library with stuff people don't know yet, what's the point?

Posted by Julie at 10:09 PM | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

Meme while we wait

I'm working on a couple of longer posts, and I never have enough time to finish them in one sitting. So just to make sure there is something on here that isn't a This Week: a meme Elisabeth specifically wanted me to answer.

Most people like to feel comfortable. There are comfort foods, comfortable sweaters, comfortable shoes, etc. Please fill in your comfortable answers to these questions about things that make you feel good and are comfortable, just like that horrid, ratty robe you always wear.

1. What are two foods you might indulge in after a stressful day?
a. Pasta. Not that pasta is an indulgence, but that is usually what I will eat after a stressful day.
b. Ice cream.

2. Which two beverages do you find soothing and delicious?
a. A really good double cappuccino
b. Water, water, water

3. What two books do you re-read every once in awhile?
a. "What I Loved" by Siri Hustvedt
b. "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien

4. What two movies can you watch over and over without getting bored of them?
I can't really pick two, but all the movies my parents used to watch when I was younger are in this category. I've watched them to the point of knowing them by heart, and for that very reason, I don't expect them to entertain me or surprise me anymore. I expect them to bring back memories. They include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Peter's Friends, Indian Summer, Much Ado About Nothing, and Groundhog Day.

5. What are your most comfortable articles of clothing?
I had to think about the answer to this one for a long time. I've never understood the pretty = uncomfortable and comfy = ugly thing. How can a horrid, ratty robe make you feel good and comfortable? (For more on that, see this post). I feel much more comfortable if I'm wearing something I could wear outside the apartment. I guess I could mention The Jeans and the skirt my mom made me for a salsa-dancing scene, which is made in red sweat-shirt material. My one item of clothing that is only worn inside my own apartment is a red, very soft (I'm the third, if not the fourth person to own it) sweatshirt with the words: "When you're as great as I am, it's hard to be humble."

6. Name two songs that give you comfort, or two songs that you never get tired of.
a. "Sleeps with Butterflies" by Tori Amos
b. "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice

7. Lastly, what do you like to do to unwind after a hard day?
a. Play all my music at random while I either catch up on Bloglines or stretch out on the couch and read several chapters of a novel.
b. Visit friends.

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October 1, 2007

Living Locally, Working Globally

Link to my bachelor thesis on offshoring and labor migration from India.

See also:

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