Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rest in Peace, Robert Frost

 Well, it’s official. The world will end in ice. Great speculation here as on Friday the Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2012 will be announced. Other prizes are being declared, and the physics prize has ended Frost’s conundrum of decades.

"For almost a century the universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the universe will end in ice."

Is also great
And would suffice.

But it left me highly confused, as well, with a question about speed and distance and expansion, and a regret that I never took physics in high school but instead spent my time creek-stomping with Sasha and Paul. Whoops. Better memories, though.

I stumbled on this during a ramble
This week has the speeded-up quality that October always takes on. I’m catching up on work missed during the holiday, trying to get ahead for the next one, planning my trip to Stockholm next week and have forty papers to grade for my Amlit course as well as my usual journals for the high schoolers and a project on the US elections underway, not to mention the wrapping-up of my Norwegian bank account process and an application for my renewed Canadian passport to navigate. As a highly efficient, super-busy woman, I’m of course expected to multi-task. And usually I do, without problems. But tonight it just didn’t work out. I was editing the questions for my Amlit course’s upcoming paper while sealing a leak in my rain boot and listening to a shiur on the aseret yemai hateshuva which I kept stopping to see if I could translate into Norwegian, and the dance music from Fantofthallen probably didn’t help either, and, er, well, things got mixed up, and I accidentally glued myself to my computer. So I think I’m done with multitasking for awhile. On the upside, my rain boot, finger, and computer are now all waterproof. 

Today, walking up the steep hill to work, immersed in my thoughts, I passed a man hopping up laboriously on crutches. It took me a few seconds to realize what I’d seen, stop, return, and hold my umbrella over him as he made the rest of his way up. Bergen is horrible on people with disabilities: all slippery cobblestones and slopes. Every time something like this happens, I file it in my brain to be addressed once I can speak Norwegian. As we made chitchat, the man asked where I’m from. “Ohio… America,” I told him. “Ah, that explains it,” he smiled at me. What a nice thing to say about Americans.

While hanging with the English masters students, one of them started talking about a book he’s reading on hiphop culture. Each time he said the word “nigga” I flinched. No matter that he’s using it academically, that it’s rebellious reclaiming of a label, like feminists and bitch, that he’s Norwegian and knows nothing of the kind of overcoming of racism that everyone in the US is still struggling with, it still freaked me out. It had no load of meaning for the Norwegians. My automatic sensitivity made me think about my relationship to race in American society; though I grew up in a neighborhood of mostly black and Jewish upper-middle class neighbors, with everyone pretty friendly, the history I’ve been taught and my gender studies classes have me owning a part in America’s history of racism almost viscerally.

We decided we’re going to throw a themed party: dress up like your thesis. I can’t wait to see my dorky Norwegian friend all blinged out (or is it blinged up?). I guess I get to choose between Captain Ahab and Edna Pontellier… what a difficult decision. Peg leg or floaty dress.

Much as my soul loves travel, my body hates it. I’m on round two of the Great Norwegian Cold. I was actually planning on going to a free concert tonight at the Grieghallen, but my sniffles during class were so excruciating I decided I’d probably be lynched if I stepped inside the concert hall, and came home for soup instead.

It was dark when I left school. Everyone has been warning me of the depressing effects of winter, yet I’m loving it. There's a fire to Fall, a blazing up of bush and hearth against the shrill and whispering dark, that lights my spirit too. Listening to the rain trickle gently down the window, inside a well-lit room that smells of hot apple cider while cuddled in an oversized hoodie, puts me in a mood that I want to call Autumn Cheer and bottle up to sell in a candle store. Then sends me out to wander the dark streets and brace myself against the rain, wet leaves painting themselves against my cheek with swipes of the rainbrush. The clean shine of rain across the land, and orderly rows of lights glowing through the evening black, hold my happiness. Happy Fall, all.

Lord, it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing. 

Rainer Maria Rilke

1 comment:

  1. Did you take the last bridge-lake picture? It's breathtaking!