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April 29, 2008

Showing some gratitude

Ingar has dedicated a blog post to me. He writes:

"Only a couple of weeks ago, you accused me of systematically supplying you with novels in which the protagonist inevitably dies. (I have to admit you have a point there. On the other hand, show some gratitude will you! After all, I introduced you to Remarque, didn't I? You should probably read "Arch of Triumph" once more, now that you're in Paris!)"

I haven't written anything for my "Books according to Julie" category in a long time, so this is me showing some gratitude.

To be fair, my dad introduced me to Erich Maria Remarque when he lent me Three Comrades. I was 16, and to say that I could relate to any part of the story would be a lie. The phrase "I couldn't put it down," didn't really apply either, but I felt I had to finish it. I remember telling a friend over cappuccinos at Stockfleth's that I had been reading this book, half a chapter at a time, for so long that I felt like the three comrades really were my friends - my very messed-up friends - and that not reading the book would be letting them down, leaving them stuck forever in their depressing story. Of course, this being a Remarque book, the story took a drastic turn for the worse towards the end, leaving me crying over the last chapter - and I loved it.

A year later, when we studied WW1 in History class, my teacher (Ingar) suggested we read All Quiet on the Western Front. I recognized the author's name, and told Ingar I had read another Remarque book. Within a few weeks, Ingar had lent me the 1979 film of All Quiet on the Western Front, and a stack of novels and short story collections roughly half my height. 

This was the beginning of a phase that lasted until the end of high school. As if I were rebelling against all the science and math classes I was taking, I never left home without a novel. The earlier it had been printed and the more characters died, the better.

I lost patience with chemistry, dropped it and replaced it with advanced English. This gave me permission to read Hemingway in cafés when my classmates were in the lab. My friends reminded me that I could never become a doctor if I didn't study chemistry - as if not becoming a doctor would be the end of the world, which for them was true. The year before, Ingar had stopped me in the hall with one of my History essays in his hand, and told me: "You're not going to be a doctor are you? Don't be a doctor. Write." I didn't need him to tell me this, but it didn't hurt.

So, yes, Ingar deserves some gratitude. If I had not read The Arch of Triumph, I probably would not have had my first drink of calvados. I would have spent far less time holding back tears in the school cafeteria (reading at school made me weird enough; I was not about to cry in public). And when I finally went to Paris just before high school graduation, spent all my money in one long weekend, wandered the streets without food or money and finally sold some chocolate to buy an RER ticket to Charles de Gaulle, the whole experience would have been much less romantic.

Posted by Julie at 8:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Another important message: Apparently, pashminas are back. Only they are to be worn wrapped once around your neck, and then dangling in front of you. In other words, exactly the way I have been wearing them for years. Alert the press, people, scarves should now be worn as scarves.

The last time there was a new scarf trend, it was the "Mette Marit look", named after my country's crown princess. Amazingly, she tied scarves around her neck, like in the picture on the right. Unbelievable. Despite the fact that people have been keeping their necks warm in this very way since the beginning of time, it was renamed after her. Children of anti-monarchy parents were no longer allowed to wear their scarves in this way. Seriously, they were told to go back and refashion their Palestina scarves before leaving the house.

So, just for the record, I would like to have stated, publicly, exactly which political statements I am making when I wrap my pashminas around my neck. I do not support the blond in the picture (I think she could be anyone basically.) And I have not just bought a gray scarf because I read in a press release that scarves should be "greige, foie gras or slate". I wear my pashminas as a protest against sore throat. And to show my support of color coordination.

Update, April 27th 2008: I am setting fashion trends again, along with every other normal person. Nice to know that I am super-fashionable without even trying.

Posted by Julie at 7:50 PM | TrackBack

April 26, 2008


I am testing Windows Live Writer. If this works, blogging without a stable Internet connection will be possible. But I actually started this post to tell you that I am not planning on blogging that much this month. It is my last month in Paris, the weather gods seem to have come to their senses after my rant, and I would like to spend my time doing things that do not require me to be inside near a source of electricity.

Right now for example, I wouldn't mind being on the Champ de Mars with my classmates, after having said "Yes please!" to supposedly "Italian" vodka smoothies and Czech beer, rather than: "No thank you, I need to write this afternoon." AUP just had "world's fair", where the nationalities of the school are represented with tables of food and alcohol. I have had coffee from Saudi Arabia and food from Thailand, Sweden, the USA, Romania and Armenia for lunch. And now I'm back in a very much deserted university library, sitting by an open window and hearing birds chirp in the courtyard outside. I am writing a paper on Joseph Nye. And you know what? I'm really enjoying the day, even though I'm stuck inside. And if I get some work done now, I will reward myself by spending the evening on the steps in front of Sacre Cæur.

I will be leaving Paris on the morning of Thursday, May 22nd.

Posted by Julie at 5:06 PM | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Rant of the day: Parisian weather

Update, a few hours after this was written: After reading your comments, I have learned that this weird weather is happening all over Europe. Maybe I should just be thankful that I am experiencing it in Paris of all places. Whatever, I needed to write a rant today. If it wasn't the weather, it would have been the schoolchildren in front of me in line at the boulangerie. And that would have been meaner of me.

In Zadie Smith's On Beauty (recommended by the way), an Englishman who lives in New England reflects on how delusional New Englanders are about weather. He is annoyed by the way they say things like: "Oh, England. It's cold there, right?". Because let's face it: New England is cold. In the summer, it is humid and hot and uncomfortable unless you are under water. But in all the months when you want it to be warm, it really isn't. I practically live in the Arctic, but I have never been tipped over by the wind (as in standing still and then falling, only because the wind is blowing) in my home country. No, that only happened to me in Arlington, Massachusetts.

I would like to expand on this character's theory: All people, except Scandinavians, are delusional about the weather. I've been compiling lists in my mind ever since I got to Paris: things I miss when I'm here, things I will miss when I go back, and things I definitely WILL NOT miss when I go back. And it does not make sense at all that Parisian weather is on the last list. Norway is supposed to be cold and miserable, right? Norwegians are supposed to be able to handle any weather, right? Guess not, because I am not handling this weather well.

Today for example, I put on sunglasses as I left my apartment. As I walked out of my courtyard, the Parisian weather gods saw me, saw the smile on my face and decided that I was just too happy. Enter HAIL. When was the last time it hailed in Oslo?

Yes, it's cold up north. But it is predictably cold. I walked outside in a tank top, eating ice cream, last Thursday.  The following Sunday, IT SNOWED. No wonder I keep getting sick. And no wonder Parisians are fashion-conscious - in order to dress for the weather, they need to change three times a day.

And now that I am inside, in class, it's not raining. The forces of nature are against me.

Posted by Julie at 1:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 8, 2008

Just in case you're wondering what I'm doing in Paris...

I'm jumping in the Luxembourg Gardens 

... and laughing at Julie 

... and enjoying the view. 

More pictures here

Posted by Julie at 3:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Norway and Sweden

Supposedly, this is the result of a Livejournal discussion about the differences between Norway and Sweden. 

Posted by Julie at 2:48 PM | TrackBack

April 6, 2008


Something is clearly off when a comment I write myself gets sent to the "junk comment" folder on this blog. I feel rejected.

Posted by Julie at 11:22 PM | TrackBack

Since you asked: A collection of answers

So, you thought I was going to answer every question in its own post? Sorry, that is not possible - do you want me to get stressed?* Here are some answers to some of your questions:

-What was your favorite book at age thirteen?

I know I'm not being terribly original, but it was The Lord of the Rings.

-How old were you the first time you had a crush on someone?
It's a question of definition, really. Because you think: “Oh, so this is what it's like to have a crush on someone.” And then a little while later: “No, wait, this is more intense. This is what it feels like. Last time was nothing.” And then: “No, no. This is the real thing.” And then eventually “crush” is not a strong enough word. So I could say 11. Or 12. Or 13.

-Which of the following does not fit in, and why? A: A Bear B: Rune Gerhardsen C: NSB
Interesting. I should think up a really good response to this, but not right now.

-Which sexual fetish do you find to be the least attractive?
I am sure that no matter what I suggest, the least attractive one will be something I have not yet heard of. And I don't really want to start that conversation in my comments.

-Which Tori Amos album do you consider to be the best?
Technically, I only have two whole albums: The Beekeeper and American Doll Posse, and they are so different that they can barely be compared. It really depends on my mood.  The Beekeeper got some pretty bad reviews for being “safe”, “the kind of music you listen to while doing the dishes” and “Tori Amos for people who don't really like Tori Amos”. I think it's beautiful, although I get those points. But I do listen to safe, pretty music while I do the dishes. American Doll Posse is more of a rock album, I guess, less just Tori and her piano(s). I also have the best-of album that came out before these two. It's called Tales of a Librarian. I would say that these are three favorite songs, in no particular order: “Sleeps with butterflies” from The Beekeeper, “A sorta fairy-tale” from Scarlett's Walk and “Bouncing off clouds” from American Doll Posse. I cannot believe that I, of all people, am officially writing about music now.

-White wine or red wine?
Usually, red. Having red wine with white wine food annoys me less than the opposite situation. This is probably because I have grown up with a father who will drink red wine with shrimp, which is officially considered disgusting. In my opinion, a good red wine is better than a good white wine. However, a not-so-good white wine is better than a not-so-good red wine. And given my tendency to spill, white is safer.

*By the way, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this article. It's hard to tell how serious it actually is, and if the news peg is two recent deaths, it should be serious. 

Posted by Julie at 10:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 1, 2008

Since you asked: My guilty pleasures

Since you asked, (and then in some cases, pleaded via Facebook), I will start the answers. Believe me, I wanted to do this earlier, but I've been busy. And I hate not having internet access at home. But let's not waste time complaining. This is an answer to the question: Which movie and which music album do you consider to be a guilty pleasure, i.e. something you'd hate to admit?

In theory, one should not have guilty pleasures - be proud of your taste, embrace your individuality, and all that stuff - but here's my not-so-secret secret: I don't have taste or individuality when it comes to music. Nearly all my music is in my collection not because of the music itself, but because a friend likes it or it reminds me of something. That doesn't mean I don't like music, or that I don't like some music better than other music, but the reason I end up listening to any song is not because I seek it out, but because it just arrives. I hear a song once, it happens to be going through my mind when something important happens, and if that something is something I want to think about later, then I like the song and I find some way to own it. Or a friend says: "I think you'll like this," and usually, I do. No pleasures can be guilty as long as they either can be described as the result of sentimental memories or recommendations from friends.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but most of the other people who have described themselves in this way have turned out to mainly listen to Top 40 radio stuff. And I listen to, well thanks to Last.fm, see for yourself.

Speaking of Last.fm, that site has redefined musical guilty pleasures. The new question is: "What do you turn off scrobbling to listen to?" Hmmm... Usually I turn off my scrobbling when I want to listen to something that I have already listened to a lot. I guess that would be my guilty pleasure. Sometimes I just want to listen to a song or a short playlist repeatedly and it looks weird on my Last.fm charts.

I am being kicked out of the library. I will continue next time I have internet and time.

By the way, sometimes I do blog about music:

Posted by Julie at 11:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack