Signs and Portents

If you have challenges in your life, and most people do, here’s something you might find soothing. Be creative! I created art. Posters on my wall. Framed.

I find being creative comforting in trying times and situations. Many people find comfort in music or lyrics. Perhaps books, movies or art.

For many, playing an album and reading lyrics might be enough, but I found combining lyrics to my own art or expressions to be a very positive experience.

While not all of these posters are my own art, some are. I will explain more below each photo and what they represent. The peculiar thing with lyrics is that they can mean anything to you – even though the original writer meant something else. I am confident that most of these lyrics means something totally different to the writer itself – but to me, it’s about specific situations or life experiences.

This idea came to me after being sent a photo of a friends wall in his house. It was a photo of a certain lyric written by Axl Rose. The song is Estranged by Guns N’ Roses, one of the songs by GNR which means a lot to the hardcore fangroup. So I decided to do something like that myself, but adding more of my own creativity and also including several other bands that I keep close. This whole collection is now on my wall in the second floor – and one of the things I am most pleased about in my house.

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AEROSMITH: Seasons of Wither.

One of my fave Aerosmith songs, “Season of Wither”. Much better than any of their other ballads in my opinion. For me, this represents my ex-wife. While not everything is something I can relate to (I do not feel I am any devil really). However. My ex was always sleepy. She slept until noon sometimes. Maybe hours longer. I would always get up early, walk the dogs and spend the next hours writing on a book while she was sleeping. She was always blues hearted as she was perhaps more depressed than I understood her to be. She often said “this year has been the worst for me” and she kept repeating it every year. I reacted the wrong way, by being annoyed, upset or even angry. I took it as a personaøl insult as I went out of my way to make her happy. I often replied to her that I had had a great year and didn’t understand why she felt like this. And this kept going on for too long. We fell into decline. Our relationship dwindled. Wither.

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GUNS N’ ROSES: Estranged.

Almost self-explanatory. It covers everything. From trying, failing and trying again. Maybe Next time I will get it right. Every persons life has certain Seasons that keeps changing. Nothing is constant except change. Axl Rose have a way with lyrics which most lyricists can’t compete with. It’s depressive, but yet optimistic. Never give up hope that next time you will get it right. Whatever that may be. That being a relationship and exploring why it fell through or whatever it may be. Do some soul-searching, and try again next time. Maybe then you will get it right in the end. The image itself is one I am very proud of. Axl on the rail of a big oil tanker about to jump off. Taken from the video. Axl and GNR was very hooked on symolism back then. I think he still is. This sole lyric means a lot to me.

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WESTWORLD: Limbo

An almost GNRish epic ballad by Tony Harnells Project called WestWorld. To me it deals with loneliness, being in a limbo. Not either here nor there but simply waiting for the next chapter in ones life. I think this is where I am right now. The song is extremely personal to me. And it must be to Tony as well. It’s a wonderful song of what I believe is about his first divorce. I can feel like I have nothing to show. I have no girlfriend, no wife, no children, no family. I keep myself up and I get tired of it because I have nothing to show and feel below everyone else and their more fullfilling lives. So for me, it’s about both my divorce and not being where I am supposed to be – but in the middle neither here nor there.

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SISTER: Let it bleed.

To me this is about my last, short relationship. My request of wanting children, and she agreeing to it – but later changing her mind. It was an absolute turmoil in my head. My request of children turned into weakness in her eyes as she thought I had mental issues dealing with lack of fatherhood. I was very depressed then I must admit, and with the season being dark and cold – it truly felt like darkness was covering me. With her changing her mind over what I call “a dealbreaker” (children) I broke up with her. I guess she broke up with me too. She thought I was weak and sent me some nasty accusations my way. So instead of going along with something I couldn’t do any longer, I let her go. I mentally bled for a week or so, but I set it right. If I am to go be with someone, they have to open for children. I let it bleed and I set it right.

There are a few others as well, but I thought these were the best.

 

Chapter 5: No Surrender, No Retreat

I can only speak for myself, but I was always of the impression that pregnancies could happen at any time – anywhere as long as your penis circulated a vagina area. Fine, I exaggerate a tad, but it was to prove a point. Babies happened. It was all over the TV. Soaps showing unexpected pregnancies in all ages, and shows on MTV about teen pregnancies. A friend of mine got pregnant when she was 16. To me, this should have been one of the easier tasks in life. What would come later would be hard part – the upbringing. I expected babies to happen as soon as we went for it.

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Most people have one or two things they struggle with. Physically or mentally. Perhaps you were raped as a teenager. Maybe your mother was an alcoholic, or you lost your significant other in a car crash. Maybe your father died when you were young and always longed for a father figure. Maybe you have no self confidence, maybe you are under-performing in life and know it. Humans always seem to have one or two “soft” spots. I often wondered what mine was – now that I had broken free from a shaky start of adult life to excel in what I was doing, I almost expected something to pop up.

Turns out it was lack of pregnancies. She simply did not become pregnant. We tried for a couple of years, nothing happened. Perhaps it something physically wrong. Maybe it was her mental state of stress. She was always stressed out. Perhaps it was hormonal. More than likely a mix of all. We just didn’t know. All we knew was that it wasn’t me that had a problem.

We were referred to IVF treatment. First three times are free in this country. I didn’t know much about it, but figured this would be a safe bet. Considering it was a 30% chance on each try, the math was good. A 90% chance. In theory it would work. We talked about children names and prepared like any other couple. First try didn’t work out, and I started to calculate the chances in different ways.  By each step in the process, 50% of the eggs would disappear. The Norwegian approach is also to be very conservative and not insert many eggs – compared to Israel where it was more of a “go flat out” approach with many eggs and considerable amount of twins being born. I read articles online saying it was mentally demanding. Physically as well – for the female.

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First try was a failure even before got to the insemination part. She made a mistake with her drug injections prior to the date we had at the hospital. It didn’t cost us a try.

Second one went alright. Six eggs was taken out. Three  didn’t evolve. Three was alright, but two of them did not develop properly. We had one left, which was inserted. The nurse talked about “the golden egg” which I found odd. Why bet on a “golden egg” when chances would increase if you bet on several of them at one try? Their response was that they didn’t know her body well enough to know how things would go. They were simply being cautious, but in my world that cost us two tries before they found the right dosage of drugs and what not. It was like putting your hand out in a dark closet and hoping to find that shirt you want to wear on that particular day. Among so many others. The more I calculated based on how they were doing things, the less positive I got. And it took months and months between each try. It was all a process. And a painful one at that.
Second try was aborted while we were halfway to the hospital by train. It was a two hour ride. None of the eggs had developed. We jumped off the train and went back home with our hopes shattered for a second time. I realized at some point that this may as well not work. I could end up not being able to form a family at all.

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I thought it to be very ironic. Of everyone I knew when I was growing up, I always considered myself as very capable with children. I adored children. My confidence in fatherhood had not even gone down when my self-confidence was low and I was insecure. If it was one thing I was good at, it was professional and personal care for others.

And in the midst of this painfully slow and tough process, we were growing apart from each other.  Or maybe she had already disappeared from me, she just couldn’t find a way out.

Chapter 4: And the Sky Full of Stars

I made over ten return trips to Israel between 2006 and 2012. I often photographed a lot of it, videotaped some of my travels as well. While the destination was always what I was looking forward to, I often found the travel itself an added bonus. I loved flying. The photos on this specific blog post are all mine. Often taken with a low quality cell phone camera, standard of 2007-2008.

You can decide to hate airports and air travel, or you can decide to embrace it and make your journey a bit more fun. An airport is the modern day roadcross. From airports, people will travel to all destinations of the world. Being at an airport made me understand that I can travel to any of the destinations on the board. It is a feeling of freedom. It is at an airport I feel I am most in touch with the world.

My journeys to Israel took about 15 hours, give or take. That included all legs of my travel. It would often start with getting a lift to the bus stop by my parents. From the bus I would often send my girlfriend a notice I was on my way. I often seperated my journey into four parts; bus to airport, flight to Prague (I often used Prague as my transfer), flight to Tel Aviv and the train ride up north.

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Blurry photo of boarding a CSA flight in 2009

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Gate at Oslo Airport

From the bus going to Oslo Airport, I would often gaze at the outside surroundings of often melting snow, a foggy landscape slowly waking up to spring while knowing Israel was already in full summer mode (I rarely did the trip in summer or fall). At the airport I would check in my bag at a counter still manned by people. This has now for the most part a disappeared from most airports with all the self-service check-in counters popping up. I would often study people around me, I spotted Israeli-Norwegian couples, business travelers or holiday-makers simply off to Prague. The Oslo-Prague-Tel Aviv route with Czech Airlines was at the time (a decade ago) one of the cheaper and easier options of routing down to Israel. I could often identify people going all the way and seperate them from those only flying to Prague. Nowadays, the route is operated from both Arlanda and Kastrup by SAS and Norwegian, but theres still no direct flight from OSL. Other carriers I flew (with transit) were KLM, Austrian, Swizz, or a mix of carriers within Star Alliance. Other carriers with a connection somewhere would be Lufthansa, British Airways and Air Baltic which I never tried.

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CSA dirty 737 wing flying over Norway

Having good time at an airport is essential for me. I often settled down somewhere with a pizza slice or two and looked at 737s arriving and departing from gates. Perhaps going for a pint of beer if I had the time. My flight departed around 15:40 and arrived in Prague two hours later. From there, there was a good six hour wait for the midnight departure at 23:55 to Tel Aviv. I never thought of those hours as boring as most people would have. I used to sit down in a pub somewhere with my laptop, a Czech beer in hand and surfed the web while the aircraft were passing by outside. During the last years I often used www.flightradar24.com and track incoming traffic on my computer while keeping an eye out for the aircraft outside. On a budget, I often used the KFC restaurant in the departure area for a late dinner. Czech Airlines operated a check-in counter inside the departure area for connecting passengers to Tel Aviv. Here, to handed out boarding passes.

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Laptop and a Czech beer makes for a good time

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Prague Airport getting more and more quiet as night falls

All through the evening, the airport got a little less crowded as each flight left to its destinations. I noticed Prague often had obscure destinations for holiday goers. For example Bournemouth in Britain. It was obviously meant for Brits to come to Prague to party. By 23:55, the airport was usually entirely empty except for those people going to Tel Aviv and the security guards walking around.

The flight to Tel Aviv was usually never fully booked. I could often use all three seats to stretch my legs and sleep for most of the time. One time, I woke up after a short nap, and looked straight down at a major European city, shining in the night. I believe it was either Vienna or Budapest. I often used my MP3 player and tunes in to whatever FM signals it recieved – and by the language I could pinpoint where I was. However, Czech Airlines often used a rather new Airbus on this flight with small screens for each row with the complimentary live flight tracker.

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KFC to go at Prague Airport

After having done several flights, I knew how to ask for certain things to get the most out of their service onboard. Like two cans of Coke and extra water, or other gems they might offer but you need to ask specifically for. Later on, most of Czech Airlines trolly service went all “pay”. Too bad.

The most interesting part of the flight was the last 20 minutes or so approaching Tel Aviv. I could clearly see the lights from the shores of Israel from some distance away. If I was seated on the left side, I could almost see as far as Haifa. Coming in to land, the highways below were often empty, but for a few cars and trucks.

Already slightly jet-lagged, I had to stand at passport control in front of a young Israeli girl in uniform asking me questions she had done thousands of times before – totally uninterested in her line of work. “What is your purpose of your visit?” “Where do you live?” “What is your girlfriends name?” Regardless of these young girls unimpressive approach, I found Ben Gurion Airport very safe due to all the checks they did. Especially when departing.

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Czech beer for this first flight down to Prague, ca 2007

Sleep deprived, I found my way through the final checks, picked up my baggage, and met up with my girlfriend waiting in the terminal. The clock was often around four or five in the morning which meant she had been taking a train down to Tel Aviv in the middle of the night to meet me. Both lacking sleep, we often hurried to the train for the last part of the journey up north. Usually, we went to sleep at eight in the morning. A long travel, but I always enjoyed it. I was traveling the world, had a girlfriend from abroad and had stars in my eyes.

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One interesting incident in 2008; the captain of this CSA PRG-OSL flight forgot to add flaps before take-off, subsequently aborting take off halfway down the runway