Where were we?
Ketchup. Catching up.
I let another week slide by between my half-time break in the recap of all that happened during the radio silence—which means more stuff transpired—so let’s quicken pace to get back to the near present, lest we forever mire ourselves two skips n’ a jump behind the Now…
OK…I’m not even going to organize this with conventional chronology. I mean, eventually our molecules are going to separate and information is going to break down and dissolve—it’s individual moments that are important—so screw organization, I’ll just sloppily jot this down as randomly and quickly as it comes to my brain and fingers.
But to give it a structure, let’s lean on the visual and you can participate in a metaphor with me. Picture a funky deck of cards. Each card is an individual moment-memory-thingy, a Tarot of my recent events in Oslo. See the deck? Solid in your mind? I’m shuffling it…I try and impress you with a nifty feat of shuffling prestidigitation…and bungle the whole thing at an adorably crucial moment and—SNAP—cards everywhere. 52 Pick-up!
What do I grab first?
*The Ace of Plastic Bags*
Walking home from the subway, one night, with the Japanese lyrics of a song about a giant robot from a Godzilla movie stuck in my head…I noticed it…yes…the plastic bag was following me.
Through an odd confluence of wind, the plastic bag was more or less hovering, darting a few feet this way and that, at the level of my head, neither falling nor blowing away, in a kind of American Beauty sort of moment. It followed me for several paces like this…
…so I punched it in the face.
Don’t look at me like that. You have to be stern. Otherwise you’re the soft-knuckled fool in the city that all the plastic bags follow and swarm.
…oh my…the next card is ominous…an archetypal representation of minor pestilence…it’s…
*The Nine of Swine*
Had a bug. May or may not have been the Swine Flu. They take that seriously in these parts. I’ve never had a job demand I stay home sick for a week. I wasn’t that sick. I was ready to beg them to let me back. I was in my old, temporary apartment–four white walls in a cramped room and no internet. Got a little reading done. Went a little mad. Had to go to the doctors to get a note so I could get sick leave. They made me wear a mask and took me to the infectious room where other sad sops in masks sat. Boredom was the worst part.
Give a flu a name and people go nuts.
…and the next card is…oh…that is encouraging…it’s…
*The Two of Positive Press*
Sometimes, late at night, I Google myself.
Hey, don’t look at me that way! It’s just an adult game of Peek-a-boo—a bit of reality affirmation—if I type my name (“Marco!”) and something answers back (“Polo!”), I still exist.
I stumbled upon a VERY NICE REVIEW of my podcasted story, “Blood, Snow, and Sparrows”. [Hmmm…that link does not appear to be working…but trust me, it was sweet review. –THE MANAGEMENT]
Also received a comment on a stranger’s blog regarding that same story.
I got another bit of nice press via Twitter. Yes, Twitter. I know. Yes, I hopped on that. Look, as near as I can tell, the Cult of the Trendy and the Cult of the Anti-Trendy pretty much worship in the same way: they let the actions and opinions of others dictate their actions and opinions. I don’t have time for pretensions (or anti-pretensions), only enthusiasms (the difference between pretensions and enthusiasm is the same difference between the nervousness of a high-stakes investor driving his new sports car, wondering if it’s sending the right image to the world—and the pure joy of a kid riding her sparkling new bike in the mud).
Anyway—TANGENT ALERT—people are still figuring out what to do with these new communications technologies. We’re making it up as we go. And some people are using Twitter to challenge themselves to write ultra-ultra short bits of micro-fiction (whole stories in 140 characters or less). Inspired by my fellows, I wrote up a dozen or so over the last week (fiction stories I make up are marked by a #TCTC hash and not to be confused with the bits of my real life that I make up).
I’ve been linking them to a London Times Tweet-Story contest that is still ongoing. At the bottom of the article, it explains how to enter if you’re interested. And I got noticed. I was mentioned as a favorite in another London Times Article posted Saturday.
…and the next card…oh…it’s one of the Major Arcana…it’s…
*The New Apartment*
I am now situated in my new apartment. I like it. It’s cheaper than I thought I’d have to spend. I get along well with my flatmate and his two Italian greyhounds (a mother and her puppy). It’s in an old, charming apartment building and not an ugly new one…and so has high ceilings (which I appreciate after my last cramped room), good space, and my bedroom has a wonderfully large window. My new bed is a year old and apparently belonged to a diplomat prior. I asked my new bed if it would write me references and it agreed. There is a tree outside my window, and I’m at branch level, and it’s close enough to hear the wind-through-the-leaves sound that trees make if I open said window. There’s also a spooky basement that you have to duck down to walk through to get to the laundry machine—there’s groaning stories down there.
…next card…another Major Arcana…
*The Viking Church*
In my quest to see all the locations in my little Oslo Guide, I visited a little cemetery and church, built by a Viking King in 1080—just a walking distance from my apartment. It’s the oldest standing building in the city, surrounded by an old cemetery on a hill.
Better still…they don’t lock the gate at night.
I had the place to myself. Lit bright in the front, near the church, but dark-dark in the back and full of…atmosphere. Now, I am an atmosphere fiend. Some people have chocolate. I have atmosphere. And atmosphere is not a spectator sport. You get what you give and I can create quite a bit with quite a little…at least for myself (First rule of Josh: ENTERTAIN JOSH…if others get entertained too, so much the better). I did not have to put forth much…this was a smorgasbord of lush, creamy, creepy-bittersweet moods.
I went back, a few night’s later for a more extended stay. I wandered about and when my eyes adjusted and I got brave enough, I visited the dark back of the cemetery by the angel statue and a leaky well. Then the place just seemed charming and inviting and I listened to the last hour of the audio reading of Neil Gaiman’s, The Graveyard Book, smoked rum-dipped cigarillos, and explored every inch of the place (or tried to…I’m sure there are more hidden inches to find).
It was a good…moment…very in the moment…no future or past practicalities to muddle the mind. And the end to one of my favorite recently read novels was all the more poignant.
I bottle particularly good vintages of atmosphere and save it for later.
…next card…oh…it’s a good one…it conveys wandering souls and a fool’s prerogative…it is…
*The Ferry Fatuous*
I’m all about the cheap entertainment and the ferry to the various islands in the fjord of Oslo is free (or at least…I already have a monthly travel pass and it’s covered on that). So I decided to X a few more spots in my guide book. I like the ocean and I like boats and it’s nice to know I can take a boat ride whenever I like.
My target was Hovedoya, the first island, but I stayed on the boat for the round trip (past Bleikoya, Gressholmen, and Lindoya) and hit Hovedoya on the way back.
The island is mostly forest preserve with a few boating places and snack shops on some of the shore. I was in search of the ruins of a 12 century monastary that I read were there—wasn’t sure exactly where—but I found it pretty quickly.
Another spot I definitely liked. Very peaceful. Just a small trickle of visitors coming through here and there. Sat on an old well, covered by boards with a slight crack through them—and I wondered what they were keeping down there…
Mostly, the ruins are just free standing walls that from a sort of ceiling-less maze. But one of the turrets was still standing and (since there wasn’t any sign telling me not to) I went up the stone steps…which led to a little space on the second floor about the size of a really good tree fort. A little window allowed me to look outside. I sat there for the better part of an hour, undisturbed.
I’ll have to remember the spot when the weather gets warmer again…I think it’ll serve as a good reading nook.
…next…card…is…uh oh…it’s Death’s younger, less terminal cousin…
*The Phantom of Indefinite Enforced-Leave*
Funcom had a great purge of employees this last Tuesday. Very sudden. It was announced to everyone at Tuesday’s morning meeting. Then, one by one, we were called down to individual meetings to see if we still had a job.
I survived. I was told my place there is pretty secure.
The plan is now for more streamlined teams and—if things get richer and fatter again—to hire back those on enforced leave.
Friday I moved up to the 4th floor. Where once I was in a dark, barren corner (by myself) I’m now around friendly faces (and slowly learning the finer points of socializing again) have a window view, and even a plant. Granted, I distract easily, but I plan on trying really hard to…hmmmm….what?
Well…there’s probably more cards on the floor, but what say we cal ourselves caught up and start a new hand, yeah?