The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

I'm afraid this is another rant

UPDATE: Holy crap, you guys are fast. I'm closing the comments because I think I've spent my whole afternoon writing this thing and...replying to comments. I'll sum up the rest here. But first, why I'm updating...

I've come to the conclusion that it's too much hassle to go. At least, there's no reasonable way without someone getting angry at me, or afraid for my well being. What I thought was a fairly simple trip has turned into something that, in my opinion, has been blown way out of proportion and shouldn't be worth 50% of my brain power. I haven't accomplished anything worthwhile today after thinking about this trip and how there's less than no chance of me going on it. No vacation should be this stressful, as in no vacation should make people worried that I'm going to be stranded in Norway or raped or god knows what else. Because that's what would happen. Naturally.

Thanks for your input. Maybe next year will be better.

I'm sorry I can't reply to everyone's comments, as you surely spent a large amount of time writing them, but I hope this response is good enough. The idea to bring a friend makes sense, but besides that finding another good friend to come along with me isn't the easiest thing in the world (unless we're all rolling in, I'm not self sufficient, unfortunately), the last thing I'd want to do is "force" a friend to come with me. Not that it's really forcing...I mean, it'd be an enjoyable experience. know. (Just nod.)

If anyone's wondering, Morten offered to talk to my mum, but my mum refused, saying she didn't know how that would help. Swell mum, just avoid him. He also offered to let me stay in his girlfriend's apartment, but that seems a bit ...extreme, or unecessary. Obviously she must be a cool person, but then I become her burden, and that's kind of odd.

I have to admit that risk taking is not in my nature. I don't see going to Norway as taking a risk, but going to Norway against the wishes of everyone I know is a risk. I only take risks when it gets to the point that I really can't handle NOT taking the risk, but in this case I can. Norway will still be there next year.

Thanks again for your comments. Original post follows.


I ate a piece of baklava the other day due to a random food craving. I'm smooshing it in your face just to get your attention.

Yes, I'm afraid I've got another non-food post to make. A bunch of random crappy things have been going on lately that bother me enough to disrupt the foodie-ness of this blog in order to take advantage of the reasonably sized readership I have. Give me your brainmeats. Seriously, if you don't want to stick around for the rest of this post, I totally understand. Otherwise, your opinion may be appreciated...

Since last year, I had been thinking of going on a trip to Europe with Diana. She's graduating this year (I have another year to go) and she's never been to London (although she's wanted to for ages), so we thought it'd be a fun time to do something "out there" before she has to enter the real world of graphic design. However, plans didn't earily materialize and...frankly, we still don't know what we're doing.

I went to London two summers ago and really liked it, so I wouldn't mind going again. However, the place I've wanted to go for years is Norway, that ginormous country with not a lot of humans. Some of my friends think I have a bit of an obsession wtih Norway., that's more with musicians from Norway. ..WAIT WAIT, no no, obsession is the wrong word! It's just that Bergen happens to be a hotbed of awesome musicians. Surely there are people who visit musical birthplaces.

But besides that, many parts of Norway are jaw droppingly beautiful. I've seen the photos; they can't hide those mountains and seas of snow from me. When I told Morten that I wanted to visit, he offered his apartment to me (and any friends that may come with me) along with taking us places (perhaps going on a multi-country road trip), feeding us, etc. While it's not necessary, it's certainly beneficial to know a local.

After not planning much for months, I felt like what I would rather do is just go to Norway. A few weeks, roam around and eat stuff while visiting one of my best Internet friends would make a nice vacation. After more discussion, Morten came up with another idea: how about if we take on a 2-3 week food writing project? Eat around Bergen and other cities, talk about Norwegian food, other kinds of food in Norway, and possibly compile our musings into something printed on dead tree pulp. Morten is a great writer, I can beef up my skillzzz, and it would be interesting to get the concurrent perspectives of a food-loving native and a clueless American food studies major.

Yay, it's a plan! Kinda! Wait. Yeah. Okay, this is where the problems and subsequent ranting come in.

I'm 20. It's not that old. It's not that young. American deems me "not legal", because...America sucks. Morten is 29. And the opposite gender. Problem? If you have a twisted mind, perhaps.

...Okay, if you have a caring mind who wants to cover all the bases, then you could find a problem with a 20 year old female college student travelling to another country for a few weeks to stay with a 29 year old male grad student in his apartment. My mum does. My mum has many problems with it.

I know some people reading this are parents. Obviously, I'm not a parent, nor do I really see myself becoming one in my future, but I do realize where you're coming from. Gotta protect your kids! I understand! Yes! Okay! You may let your daughter go to Norway with friends (my mum would), but to stay with an Internet friend almost a decade older than her sounds sketchy. I get it. [nod]

But I'm angry. Quite angry. Blood-kinda-boiling angry. If you know me semi-well, you know that I don't get angry much. I mean, not at other people; yesterday I was uber-pissed at myself for getting on a 1 train whose doors closed as soon as a 2 train (which is express) pulled in across the platform, thus lengthening my train ride by...probably just a few minutes, but at the time I was really pissed at myself.

Back to my mum. She's against the idea. Basically forbidding it. If I were more disobedient and spoiled, I could just buy the ticket, get a cab, and leave the house (I keep my passport on me). But that would be insane, and in my opinion (which is usually self-loathing), I'm a pretty good kid. When I think about it, I can't think of anything really bad I've done. Seriously. I know my brother has lied to my mum about where he's been, but I've never, ever had to do that. (I don't think he lied because my mum would otherwise not let him do the things he wants to do, but because he doesn't want her to bother him about them.) My life has little defiance. If I go to London, what's stopping me from buying a ticket to Norway and just going there? My mum can't stop me by that point.

What's really bothering me about my mum is that she keeps referring to Morten as a stranger (yes, a stranger that I've known for five years) while stressing that he's single (despite that I keep telling her that he has a girlfriend...WHO LIVES 10 MINUTES FROM HIM). It boggles the mind. Her impression is that he has ulterior motives, an idea that sickens me since there is absolutely nothing of a non-platonic sense going on. Her judgement is offensive to him for assuming that he would betray his girlfriend (seriously mum, what the FUCK) and me for thinking that I wouldn't know how to pick good friends. Also, it gives me the sense that I shouldn't make friends with guys (a "rule" that I unintentionally followed for most of my life anyway) unless I want my mum to go insane.

[sigh] Of course, my mum has never met Morten, nor have I, but you get to know people after a while. I've made really good friends with people after a few weeks of emailing back and forth. Today I got in a not-so-good argument with her and found that in her mind, you can't ever know what people on the Internet are like. Simply emailing people doesn't tell you what they're like. (If I may back myself up some more, I've had some lengthy conversations with Morten where, spoke and used our vocal chords.) I would say that in fact, you can get to some people better through email than in real life. Take me for instance. You really wouldn't get much from me just from real life encounters, and even through email it can take a while to get to know me.

There are fakes on the Internet, but there are fakes in real life too. Luckily, or perhaps because I actually have good judgement in this field, I haven't met any bad people online. (Don't get me wrong; I know it's possible, but I don't assume that everyone's a criminal.) I don't meet people through random means; there's some common spark that causes people to contact me and for us to exchange correspondence for long enough that we'd feel comfortable meeting in real life. As I said in my other entry, I've met plenty of amazing people through the Internet who were no different in real life than I thought they would be from their Internet personalities (and it's usually more exciting to meet these people in the flesh). There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Morten is a great guy who is offering a few weeks of his life to hang out with me (and our friends) because we're friends, we're friends, JUST FRIENDS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

[A little sidestory: The most awkward meeting I've ever had with anyone was with a guy I DIDN'T meet on the Internet. Yes. A guy who came to my booth at the MoCCA Festival last summer was apparently the only person who used one of my gazillion free business cards to contact me and hang out. I had a feeling that our personalities didn't mesh, especially since I HAD actually met him in real life and had an idea of his characteristics, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. "Ohh, maybe he's cool." What happened? Most awkward meal ever. In. History. Just. Seriously, get it out of my head. At least I ate a waffle, which was the highlight of the meeting. I don't mean to imply that everyone in real life is weird, but...well...I'm just going to end there.]

My mum asked me if I'd hesistate to go if I had a boyfriend. It took me less than a split second (a split-split second) to say, "Of course not!" How would that make a difference? Didn't I say we were friends about five gajillion times?

"This guy is a stranger, and--"

Apparently, I didn't say it enough times.

Here's a snippet of her email (which she'd surely hate me for sharing, but heey, I don't care) that really bothered me:

You are not like Jennifer Iino [one of my best friends that my mum knows well] who is built strong and aggressive naturally, who will probably be all right in most places in the world alone, you are just not like that. you are too good natured, accommodating and obliging, it is just not the right time yet to travel by yourself for such an adventure. Sure it can be great fun, but it can also be regrettable.

Oh, sure, it can be fun...or it'll suck a lot. Nice. I'd bet a lot of money on it being fun and productive. My mum thinks I'm obsessed with Morten because I keep pushing the issue of this trip and she not letting me go on it. Hell, if anyone's obsessed with Morten, wouldn't that be her? That's all she talks about. I have no qualms about staying with him. What I'm excited about is meeting a long-time Internet friend (because believe it or not, two people as seemingly different as us can become good friends), traveling around a country I've never been to before, eating a cuisine I've never been exposed to (don't tell me that all Norwegian food is bad; I'm sure it's not!) and writing about it with someone else who I know loves food as much as I do (or more) and is a better writer. We shall share the food of Norway with the world! YES?

When I read, "it is just not the right time yet to travel by yourself," I thought, "...When is the right time?" I think for my mum it'll never be the right time. I know I'm not very old. I'm not very young. I know I'm immature, but I haven't really been in situations where I'm pushed to do things that would contribute to my...growth (mental, not physical, ahem ahem). Did I ever go on an "adventure" in high school? No. College? No. Do I have the rest of my life to do this stuff? I guess...but there are some things you'd rather do when you're younger.

I'm not going to Norway to do anything wrong. I wouldn't even say that Norway is the place of adventure (to compare, my friend Jen that my mum referenced studied abroad in London last year and for winter break went to Thailand by herself...also, Jen is a few months younger than I am, although she looks older and, yes, is more mature). It's just a trip. To see a new country and have the good fortune of having a friend who will take me around this new country. The Internet breaks down these barriers of distance, but when you have to get on an airplane and cross country lines, it seems insane.

[sigh] So. Whatever's going on in my head sounds much angrier than what I wrote here, I think. My mum would rather that I not ask others for advice because in her opinion (which I see a point in), other people can say whatever they want and they don't have to take any responsibility for it. The only people who are responsible for my well being are my parents. All my friends? Oh, they don't give a crap. She implied that any friend who tells me that this Norway trip is a good idea is "not my real friend". Behold, fake friends galore! That's swell. I have no friends and no one truly cares for me except for my family. (I know it's good to have a family who cares. But. Ye know. Um. My friends aren't telling me to jump off a bridge.)

None of you has to say anything that pleases me. So. Yeah. If you want to call me a naive moron for thinking it's okay to go to another country to meet "a stranger", then you're free to say that. Not that I'd agree with you. Lurkers, feel free to come out. [If you want to tell me something that you'd rather not leave in public, feel free to email me.]

...Yeah, I'm done now. If you read this whole thing, you're kind of insane. Congratulations! I should also mention that I have a good relationship with my mum because she's a good mother and I love her. But I think in this instance she's driving me insane and truly isn't listening to anything I have to say. Now I understand why so many other people have turbulent relationships with their parents who don't listen to what they say.

[Lastly, if you haven't seen this before, check out CouchSurfing.]


plume11 / April 13, 2006 3:59 PM

Oops, am I the first one to answer? That's scarry!

I was wondering, what is the age of majority in the US?
Because here it's 18 and I think it's strange to forbid something to a 20 years old.
Also, I have been living alone since I'm 15 so perhaps I don't have a very objective point of view.

I understand why your mother is affraid, of course, but as you said, you can meet "bad" people everyday, in your own street.
But what is she realy affraid of? Of you beeing attacked by a mad man, or of you going out with someone older than you (yeeeeeees, I know it's platonic and all that, I was just thinking mother way...)?
If it's so, perhaps you could find a nice american 29 years old to go out with, and you could take him to Norway? ;-)

Melody / April 13, 2006 4:15 PM

I've kind of been refraining on commenting about this whole thing when you've mentioned it in your journal, but I feel like it's at a point where I'm compelled to throw in my two cents.

First, a little background. I had a long-distance relationship with someone I met over the Internet. When we wanted to meet in person (prior to relationshipness, of course), my parents were perfectly okay with it as long as he came to our house where they could see him.

The prospect then came up for me to go back with him to DC when he visited a second time--and by this point, we did consider each other boyfriend and girlfriend. My parents said, basically, "We'd very much rather you didn't because you're barely 20, he's almost 25, and that's WAY out of our range of being able to protect you...BUT. You ARE almost 20, so really, it's your decision. If you think you'll be safe, then go have fun!"

I think that was a very responsible attitude for them to have. While your situation is a bit different--this is someone you've never met, it's even further away, and the age gap is a bit greater--you also don't have the pretense of it being a romantic relationship, and you're older than I was. So even though the situation is different, I think the conditions wind up balancing out in the context of "potentially 'bad' things" and "potentially 'good' things."

As for the maturity thing, I think you made an excellent point without really saying it: your friend is more mature BECAUSE SHE'S HAD THOSE EXPERIENCES. Your mom can't expect you to EVER be ready to take on something like this if you don't DO IT. If I hadn't spent a month away from home in a completely strange place visiting Scott, I don't think I'd have been anywhere near as ready as I was to move on-campus when I did. And I don't think I'd have been ready to move into an apartment on my own now if I hadn't already been living in the dorms here.

Maturity isn't something you spontaneously have, it's something you nurture with experience.

All that said, I do think that if you somehow convince your mom to let you go to Norway to see Morten that you make alternate arrangements. See it more as a "trip to Norway" than a "trip to hang out with Morten." Not that I'm saying he IS an Evil Monster and you are a terrible judge of character, but there's nothing wrong with playing it safe and having already arranged for someplace else to stay or a way to get home quick or something like that JUST IN CASE.

So there, my two cents. :]

tian / April 13, 2006 4:28 PM

ok, i'm "kind of insane" and here's some brainmeat.

being sometimes the cheeky kid i am, i would have probably gone to Norway, then only inform my parents about it.

but if you were the same, you would be in Norway already. so we know you don't want to disappoint your mum (which makes you a better person than me), so one way is to get Jen Ilno or someone like Jen Ilno.. a person "built strong and aggressive" who your mum knows to go with you (and then ditch that person, no i'm kidding! (-: ) ..

A / April 13, 2006 4:32 PM


I lurk on your blog and totally enjoy it. I've never commented before but had to say something about this.

I get it completely. See, if you had told me two years ago that you could KNOW someone online who you've never seen face to face I would've laughed. But I have online friends now. I have only met two of them and am considering traveling abroad with a third (although she is female). When my parents came to visit me from abroad last year, one of my online friends whom I had never met before invited me and my parents to visit and stay with her down south. We had a fabulous time. My husband didn't get this (although he was never against it totally) but I did it anyway and I loved meeting her. I had an "out" planned just in case something went wrong, but it was all perfectly right.

I understand your mom's POV -- she's nervous for you and for herself too. But I also agree with you -- people you meet online can become good friends. Sure, they can deceive you, but the context in which you meet a person and also the length of time for which you have known somebody makes a difference. And the person is male, it's probably no different from a male friend IRL. Know what I mean..... technically, you could "get in trouble" as your mom refers to it anywhere at any time. Is this purpose somehow less legit than say, if you were to go abroad and study? Icame here to study at 22, but how is that so different?

Your mom knows this too. It's probably not that she doesn't trust you but she wants to protect you and that's not a bad thing in a mother. Maybe she'll suggest that you stay somewhere else. Maybe there's another solution that will make you both happy. I would definitely have an out planned for yourself so that, on the off-chance that things don't go well, you still have a good time and are not dependent on Morten. He is probably a very nice guy, but even the best of people can sometimes end up in bad situations -- you just never know. Talk to her and give her time to get used to the idea. You never know, she might understand.

I hope you get to go. Thanks for the wonderful posts -- they always improve my day.


roboppy / April 13, 2006 5:03 PM

plume: Thanks so much for your comment. And yes, tou're the first! You get a GOLD STAR! :)

18 is the legal age in the US to vote other stuff that I can't remember at the moment (join the army, buy cigarettes, etc), but 21 is the age that you can drink and do...other stuff. Um. Yeah, I'm vague. It's kind of confusing to have two "adult" ages. 20 feels kinda old though, even if I don't feel two decades old.

You've been living alone since you were 15?! Wow. ...I couldn't do that. Unless I had to, in which case I guess I would've figured things out by now.

I don't know what my mum is afraid of! When I think about it, if I WERE going out with someone so much older than me, is it up to my mum what ...Er. Know what I mean? Not that it would happen, but I'm just saying (she's never had to deal with me being in relationships; she should count her blessings!).

Melody: Thanks for the lengthy reply. I try to write more coherently in this blog than my LJ, so...better to throw your two cents in here. ;)

I didn't know you had a long-distance Internet relationship! That's nice that your parents were okay with it, with a few reasonable rules. I highly doubt my parents would let me meet a guy if they thought we were romantically involved. :P My mum would just say that I'm insane, along with the rest of my family.

I did tell my mum while on the phone today about how I need the experiences so that I can get out of the immaturity...or at least attempt to. If I never go, how will I learn? I'll be an infantile 30 year old? Eh. :( I think I adjust to new places fairly well (my mum basically just dropped me off at my school freshman year and didn't linger at all, haha), but...uh...something's missing in my life. A different kind of maturity. Eh.

I'm going to see if I can make alternate arrangements. I CAN USE COUCHSURFING, HEHE...just kidding. There are hotels and whatnot, which get, costly, but I know I could afford it. My mum told me this when we spoke on the phone, that it's not cost prohibitive...although at the same time, I told her that of course I couldn't force just ANY friend to come to Norway with me since IT COSTS A LOT OF MONEY, to which she said that I (well, our family more like) shouldn't be able to afford it either. Confusing. There were other mixed messages, such as when she said, "See what your friends and their parents would say," and then, "Nothing anyone else says has meaning." :|

Tian: Ohh, my mum would love to hear your reply. ;D I'm quite uncheeky, I guess. Just. Docile. Yup. Kinda crazy and docile at the same time. I was seriously thinking that I'd just GO to Norway by myself since i could figure that out and my parents can't really lock me in the house, but that would be too messed up. :| I wish I could find a reliable person to come with me...although in that case I'd still be reliant on someone. Meeh.

A: Thank you for deciding to unlurk (and helping to improve my day). :)

You took a trip with your parents to see an online friend? Whoa...pretty cool! Sounds like a cool friend too. I can't imagine my mum going along with something like that. Of course, her opinion about female friends is different. No ulterior motives. Woop. :\

My mum is fine with me studying abroad, and not that I plan on doing anything wrong, but...well, things could happen, and while I'll be under the care of my school, I won't have any close friends in Paris. I've rarely made any good male friends in real life, for some reason or another. One of my best guy friends is one I made a few years ago through a website I made. Thankfully my mum let me meet him by myself (I invited him to a concert), but warned me, yeah. Of course, nothing remotely sketchy happened and now we're PANCAKE BUDDIES! And I have another very sketchy sounding story that was perfectly safe, although when I tell it people look at me with a "What did you do?!" kind of look...

Yeah, my mum wants to protect me. (sigh) It's a good thing. Staying somewhere else would probably make her feel better, although I honestly would feel less comfortable staying by myself in a hostel with a bunch of strangers than at a friend's house. Buuut..yeeah...I get it.

Eunice / April 13, 2006 5:09 PM

Though I would share my own experiences here. A few years ago, while on my first trip to Europe, (I'm from Singapore), I decided to make a trip to Germany to meet up one internet friend which I knew for a few months. As he was still a student, and "old one" at 30, and staying in a student hostel, I accepted his offer to bunk over at his place. I figured it was ok. If anything should happen, I could just shout loud enough for all his neighbours to hear (assuming someone would come to my rescue).

Anyway, I did meet up with him, nothing bad happened. He even brought a girl along on our first meeting when he came to fetch me from the train station. But maybe I'm just fortunate that he was a nice guy. I got to stay in his room while he bunked over with other guys during my stay. However, I didn't dare tell my mother that I was staying at his place, though she knew I was meeting up some unknown internet friend. I only told her when I was back home. :P

But of course, I don't advise you to follow what I did. I mean, it could have turn out worse. I would not know if he really stayed in a hostel. He could have lie to me, or brought me to somewhere else. And things could have happen also in a hostel...

Maybe it's best if you go to Norway with another friend so your mum can stop worrying so much.

carol / April 13, 2006 5:35 PM

hey hun, i've been chewing this all night and shall spew out a couple of thoughts:

1) what you have between yourself and ur mom is really precious--that you never felt like you had to hide from her or lie to her about anything is SOOO RARE. and i can see how you don't want to mess with that (i feel like i'm quoting the coach in Bend it Like Beckham).

2) GO TO NORWAY!!! OR ENGLAND AND THEN NORWAY!! Whatever the case is--ur perfectly lucid, smart, and MATURE enough to do what you desire. What's more is that you are really gifted in doing all that you love, and it would be a terrible waste to NOT go and do this awesome project. But i agree with what others have already voiced: better to find ur own living accomodations. u don't want to bank your trip and your aspirations on ONE PERSON (good/evil/friend/stranger) and that's perfectly doable. look up


angela / April 13, 2006 6:00 PM

Robyn, you're 20 years old. You're an adult, already. Do what you want. Unless your mum is paying your plane ticket, how can she "forbid" you? Don't worry so much about it. Have fun and enjoy the herring...

serena / April 13, 2006 6:46 PM

i understand where you're coming from, & i also understand where your mom is coming from. i have parents who were, up until i was 16 or 17, maybe, were uber protective - i remember once arguing with my father for ages about whether i could sleep over at a (girl)friend's place.

*that* said, i was also a very stubborn child, & like tian says, going off somewhere & only then informing parents about it sounds like something i would once have done (now i don't see the point, obviously, considering i'm 22 & have lived halfway across the world from them for the past 4 years).

melody makes a good point about the experiences contributing to maturity & what i like to call street smarts. last year, when i went to africa by myself, my parents were so worried - my mom pretty much kept trying to talk me out of it up until the last minute, we had tons of arguments until i basically refused to even be sucked into talking about it with her just because the inevitable arguments were ruining the only 2 weeks in almost a year i had spent with my family. but i went, spent 2 months there, absolutely loved it, & a few weeks ago, in conversation, my mom told me that she's actually glad & proud of me that i went (this wasn't a holiday, more of a development internship). & i think it was one of the best (if not *the* best) things i've ever done.

& as for not making friends over the internet? i disagree, some of my best, oldest friends ever i met (or at least, got to know better) through the internet. i think the internet is a great equaliser & as long as you're aware of your boundaries it's as risky as everything else in life is - that is to say, very. but who would ever do things if they didn't take risks?

i agree with almost everyone here - cover your bases, have a list of alternative places to stay, do a bit of research on the city etc. in case it doesn't work out. make sure a friend knows where you are, your travel dates, even if nothing goes wrong, things like unscheduled plane delays can make people freak out. tell your mom that you will text/call/email her regularly so she knows that you're alright (this is really important - if parents don't hear from you they start worrying). but otherwise, it sounds like it will be really fun, & if nothing else, you should come to london anyway!

(p.s. email me when/if you get your london/paris plans solidified - i am actually really excited about this for you!)

tian / April 13, 2006 6:57 PM

hey Morten, are you reading this?? maybe you could do an audition like video talking bout yourself and safety measures you take around the apartment and in life to send to Robyn's mum. (-:

ed / April 13, 2006 7:35 PM

i cant tell you what you already i'll just say that i support the advice given by those above look for an alternative solution. perhaps find your own living accomodations, or take another trustworthy friend with you. but if that's not possible, i'd lean towards postponing the norway trip for another time and simply go elsewhere. your friend did want to go to london, right?

and if all else fails, i'll give you my heart...but only for a week! cuz i'm gonna need it back to fight the mysterious evil that brainwashes my parents into unreasonable zombies. perhaps you can join me once you regroup? =D

RobsUK / April 13, 2006 8:27 PM

hey...everything that needs to be said has been said by a lot of people who have had similar experiences with you. every one of us who's had to put our thoughts into words are sympathizing with you not being able to go, but at the same time agreeing that your mom has a very good point. i hope you find a way to go to norway, have the time of your life, and tell your mom all about it.

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