Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reading List

New plan: instead of taking out library books, I’m just gonna list what I haven’t read here on my blog and assume they’ll magically show up on my desk in the graduate reading room. Thanks for the Hemingway, Jonas. I also haven’t read Love in the Time of Cholera, Germinal, or Appointment in Samarra. I’ll be expecting them shortly.

For the past week I’ve been running review sessions for my Amlit students. It’s been exhausting and nerve-wracking to be expected to know every single thing about American literature and history, but also exhilarating fun to be tested on my knowledge (“that’s free indirect discourse, too easy, c’mon, ask me another”). I mapped out fake questions for them and then we worked through the answers together. Sometimes they challenged each other, leading to better discussions than they ever had in the seminars. It’s amazing what fear of an exam will do for class participation.

My favorite CMA painting:
The Confused Process of Becoming (Portrait of Roman Johnson)
I also gave a presentation on Rita Dove in my masters seminar on ekphrasis in poetry. I managed to pull from four different Ohio artistic sources—that’s right, we kind of rock (we boast Paul Lawrence Dunbar, William Dean Howell, and Toni Morrison, too!). It was fun to once again give a presentation without worrying about keeping class attention—I could just rocket through the stuff without caring whether anyone was listening or not.

I have a new mailbox in town. The Dead Sea lotion booth on the second floor of the Bergen storsenter is now my drop-box; if you’d like to leave me a message, find the tall guy with spiked hair and an Israeli accent. It’s funny how I keep finding the Israelis, and how weirded out they are by my nationality. Today the series of questions went: “Israeli?” “Oh, then Norwegian?” “Then what?” American?! So how do you speak Hebrew?” Um, did you not notice my accent, dumbbutt? At least they have an extremely accurate grasp on what day school educations can be expected to produce in the way of language skills.

Tomorrow I will experience government bureaucratic idiocy at its finest: both the US and the Norwegian governments will pay me for teaching the same class. Anita’s going to a conference for teachers of Uttøya survivors, so I have the school to myself for the day, and apparently if she passes the keys off to me then I count as a substitute and not a Fulbright ETA, so I get a salary from the Norwegian government in addition to my Fulbright stipend. Viva la Norsk government.

Finally, finally getting homesick as Thanksgiving approaches. I want to be on that plane home stuffed with everyone returning to their families where we clap for the marines as they disembark first. I want hugs and a silly place setting and jokes in bad taste about celebrating American ethnic cleansing and to not watch football and the joy of yams and stuffing and apple pie and cranberry-chocolate tart. So eat a bit of turkey for me, please. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

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