Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wanted by the FBI

Journalists Kurt Haugli and Christian Thorkildsen from Aftenposten.no are in the US to cover the nominations leading up to this years presidential election.

They will be writing articles and comments for the paper the following weeks, here's one of the first:

Wanted by the FBI
(OSLO-NEWARK CO 39): "What can I do for you?" asks a uniformed, and probably armed, security guard through the tall fence surrounding the American embassy in Oslo.

"Actually, I'm here to apply for a journalist visa." At this time I do not yet know the FBI is after me.

"Did you fill out the forms?"

"Yes", I said, and thought of the hours I'd spent filling out the elaborate forms with charming names such as: DS-156 and DS-157. The embassy should know most there is to know about me by now. (I've never been convicted of terror, have rarely been involved with genocides and my grandfather was not employed in nazi-Germany.)

Before showing up at 8:30am I'd studied the embassy's home page carefully. They can't remind you enough to remember everything.
Remember: One passport photo (2.5'' by 2.5'', ears
showing, do not smile). Also remember an envelope size A4 or C5, and exactly 68
kroner ($12.40) for stamps. Remember: If the forms are found to be missing
anything, you will be sent home. Remember: 750 kroner or exactly $131 in cash.

It's obvious they don't want any forgetful scatterbrains visiting the US. Remember.

"Bring your forms and get in line," says the firm guard with the very proper haircut.

"Turn off your cell phone!"

"Turn off your laptop!"

"Hold out your hands!" By now I'm inside some sort of security booth.

I'm obedient, as a trained dog, some might say.

Cell phone, laptop and the rest of the contents of my bag is scanned and left in the booth. I'm told only the application forms will be brought inside the embassy. But what about the newspapers? The embassy's home page informed us of several hours waiting time, even for the simples errands. VG and Aftenposten can hardly be a threat to national security.


"No what? I can't bring my papers inside? I'll be waiting for hours in there?"

"Yes, that's right. But you can't bring newpapers."

Are they afraid I'll miraculously manage to cut someone with the paper? Or hit someone over the head with the sports section if the service is bad? Either way, I'll be hard through that bullet proof glass. I take comfort in the fact that a country which fears a couple of newspapers has to be worth visiting.

After an hour of waiting, without newspapers, it's finally my turn. My name is called from speaker. Behind a thick sheet of bullet proof glass is a nice women in her forties, speaking English into a microphone.

"How do you do, Mr. Thorkildsen," it squeeks.

"I'm good ma'm I reply," just like I've heard people do in the movies. I put my finger on the finger print scanner.

"Tell me, did you go to the United States in 2007?"



"Yes. I think I would have remembered."

"Hmm... Well, you see, when I enter your name into the computer a warrant comes up. And your name, Thorkildsen, it is rare, you know. Not like Olsen or Hansen."

"True, true. But a warrant?"

"Yes, that is what it says. "Wanted by the FBI"."

Wow. The FBI. Then it's got to be serious. Luckily, the lack of a stamp in my passport confirms I did not visit the US in 2007. But the FBI? The last time I saw an American TV show, the FBI were involved in pretty serious cases. A simple prank wouldn't do it. As it happens, I did get yelled at once, for throwing an eighties party when I was studying in the US in 2004. Apparently the campus police felt it was bad form to serve alcohol to students no older than 20 years of age.

"Does it say why there is a warrant?" I ask.

"No, but luckily for you, Mr Thorkildsen, it seems this person is older, and the name is spelled somewhat different. So, since you did not go to the States in 2007, it can't be you, can it?"

"No, I guess not."

"Ok. Well, you can come back tomorrow and pick up your visa," the woman says and flashes a smile.


I get a little blue note where it says "If you loose this ticket your visa may be delayed for two weeks." In other words: REMEMBER!

And yes, I did remember the little blue note and I did get my visa.

PS: If you have a name which looks like Christian Thorkildsen: You're wanted in the US. It would be nice if you could stop crapping on the name of us relatively law abiding Christian Thorkildsens. Those of us who aren't wanted by the FBI.

Written by Christian Thorkildsen January 28th, 6pm
for Aftenposten.no

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hot + Cute = no go?

As it turns out, Hot Chick has a boyfriend. That might make it a bit trickier for Cute Guy. However.. I don't believe the boyfriend lives in Bergen, which in turn might favour the local competition.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for the boyfriend), it doesn't seem they're falling in love yet. Cute Guy is out every night and Hot Chick is out a lot too, but it doesn't seem they are out together. It also seems Cute Guy might not want to settle for one girl.

-- to be continued --

Friday, January 25, 2008

Party and CDs

In preparation for the year's first house party, for which I am responsible sinced the paid resident assistant will no longer be paid, or an assistant, it is I, as a volunteer elected (unpaid) representative who will have to do all the dirty work.

Yesterday I dug up half a six-month-old mouldy pizza from behind a picture frame in the back corner of the common room. That wasn't too bad. What was bad was the box of dressing, emptied, hardned and green. Not surprisingly, I just followed the smell to find it. Gross.

Among my responsibilities is ordering pizzas (15), finding chairs (50 - we're hoping for that many, there are 157 of us in the building), cleaning the room in preparation and - as I recently realized - to my horror, finding music for the party. The good thing about all this is I don't actually have to do any of this. I just should.

But, naturally, there's no party without music. I remembered how people tend to burn and bring cd's downstairs so I went down and checked. I found;

1 CD marked "Daft Punk - 'Homework'" (I do not know what that is)
1 CD marked "Eww" (burned, no idea..)
20CDs unmarked (all burned)

Now I'm going to have to go through all of them to try and find out what is what, what can be used and what is crap. Imagine how easy this could be if people marked their CDs... Rather than just burning and leaving behind - write a name, a title, something that might indicate what is on there. It's almost as if someone think I have nothing better to do than spend a Friday night checking out 20 greasy, filthy CDs.

Oh, and I have to get toilet paper. And napkins.
People better show up at this damn thing or I'm gonna be so mad....!


I knew it!

The past years I've kept thinking "they're so early this year, it must be earlier than last year". But, as it turns out, they've come around the same time, mid-february, since the first time I saw them in 2005.

As it turns out, they do come earlier than before - three weeks in three years.

This is mostly because we no longer have snow. There's no snow in Bergen during winter.

Norway, of all places, has lost its snow!

It's madness I tell you! Madness!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I live in an appartment owned by a student organization called SiB. There are four of us here - two moved out this Christmas, which means there was only me and another guy, Paul, left.

Now we got two new room mates.

The cute guy

Moved from Oslo, starting psychology this semester after finishing a rather hard first semester (I should know, I've done it too). He came here for a day and got stuck due to canceled trains. In mountainous Norway, this is not rare. He's cute and seems really nice. He ate an orange while I cleaned the fridge, and I think he's going to be a rather nice flat mate.

The hot chick

Moved from Tromsø, also starting psychology this semester. Unfortunately, her key didn't work and she couldn't get into the appartment. Everything else had worked out perfectly, only she couldn't get into her room. Eventually she did and I got to meet her - and I have to say she's one hot chick!

Now my question is... how long do you think it takes before Cute Guy and Hot Chick hooks up? They're both good looking. They live in the same appartment. They seem nice and are very sociable. And they're both attending the same demanding lectures, aiming to become a psychologist.

Do I sense a college fling in the making?

- to be continued -

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lil tip

DON'T have funerals in January.

If you find it inconvenient storing a coffin in your living room waiting for January to pass, please advice your loved ones not to die in January, this coldest month of the year.

I'm sure they'll understand.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


This year we've started off running. Christmas was great. Relaxing. Way too much food but that's allowed during the Holidays.

During Christmas my grandmother's condition went from bad to worse. She's been in what we call the Old People's Home, for years. It's practically our next door neighbour and we visited several times during Christmas.

I went back to Bergen on Sunday 6th. I went to the introductory meetings for my courses and managed to sign up for everything. My grandmother died that day, Tuesday the 8th. My brother and I came home this Thursday, the funeral will be on the 15th.

My grandfather passed away in June 2006, and my grandmother has been getting worse ever since. Last autumn my mum called, fearing she wouldn't survive the next couple of weeks.

They'd found a tumor in her liver but, as it turned out, what made her ill was withdrawl symptoms from not smoking. She usually smoked like a chimney and when in hospital she wasn't allowed to. As soon as she got her tobacco back, she recovered quite quickly.

I thought about staying home a few days longer when I left after Christmas, but I thought she'd hang in longer. I don't know why, I just had that feeling. She was in her bed, barely conscious. She was scared of dying, constantly calling out if she couldn't hear people talking. My dad and my aunt spent the last few days and nights sitting with her. She'd been calling for her Mum and Dad, for her son and daughter.

I remember my grandfather's funeral. All us grandchildren, 8 of us, were handed a rose to place on the coffin. I was standing next to my sister, we were holding hands. I think not having given myself the chance to grieve before, it all hit me right then.

What was sadder still was my grandmother. She was already a bit 'lost' and not quite realizing what was going on. But as the coffin was standing there on the grass outside the church, ready to be lowered into the ground, she reached out. She was in her wheelchair next to the coffin, and reached out to my grandfather and whispered to him.

She kept whispering, as if he could hear her. As if she almost knew what was going on, but not quite. Like a child whispering to its doll or pet, telling them her secrets. They'd been together for more than half a century, they had two children and eight grandchildren.

Unlike my grandfather, my grandmother got to experience being a great grandparent when a little girl was born this spring. I don't think she ever knew it.

My grandmother was 84 years old when she passed away. She was old and sick but had people around who cared about her. She had children and grandchildren, and we would all be lucky if we have all that when our life comes to its end.

As for me, I have no more grandparents. One generation has passed away, as a new one is beginning. I always thought some day I'd sit down and ask them about the old days, but suddenly it was too late. I'll never have that chance back. I've learnt my lesson.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ready for a New Year

2007 is over and a new year is here. Naturally, the events of the last few months are those that stand strongest in our minds, we best remember what recently happened, gone are the feelings of early spring.

Another Christmas is over, family and friends are leaving, and in a week we'll take down the decorations, throw out the tree and life will be back to normal. Here we'll be looking forward to spring, to again having more than a few hours of daylight, and finally seeing the sun again.

A year is over.. I'm not sure how I'll remember 2007 - nothing remarkable happened, but it's been a good year. I've had fun, I'm happy and healthy - and so are my family and friends. Many are not so lucky.

Another journey around the sun is over.