Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hva Er Du Redd For?

Things are back to normal again: it’s raining in Bergen, I’m swamped with work, and listening to “ka e du redd for” over and over again as I grade essays in the hopes that absentmindedly listening to Norwegian songs will acquaint my ear sufficiently to understand the next cashier who mumbles “kvittering?” in my direction.

I just bought my ticket home. Jes, this is a pretty awful moment. Heh, I wrote “jes” instead of “yes.” This year in Norway is going to come back to bite me in the butt when I’m trying to finish my English degree. But oh, it’s been wonderful, and the knowledge that it now has an absolute end date has reminded me to seize every second. That and the essays on Shakespeare quotes that my high schoolers have been writing— a huge percentage of them chose “cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant taste of death but once.” Apparently that fires up the high school imagination. It also goads me to try everything that comes my way and leap at new experiences. After all, hva er jeg redd for?

The Norwegian movie we watched this week was “Jeg Reiser Alene,” which is set not only in Bergen, but at the university here. And not just at UiB, but at the Humanities Faculty building where I work. Which, incidentally, is right next to where the movie was being shown. Never before have I walked out of a theater and into the setting of the movie I just saw. It abrogated the life-fiction line a little sharply for me. I’ve been certain I’m living in the Truman show ever since.

I have “winter break” this week, and am not sure what to do with it. Sure, I have mountains of work to catch up on, and plenty of literal mountains to climb as well, but I’d like to do something out of the ordinary. With a week off, I could do a mountain a day… Friday I hit both Fløyen and Rundemanen, and of course today (Sunday) was a Løvstakken climb… Ruth and I were talking about skiing—yep, we caught the bug—but with the Bergen weather the way it is, we’re more likely to be able to wash our hair in the rain than find enough snow to slide on.

Freaking out at the desecration
Saturday I walked up to town to the Fisks, who were having a Fulbrighter tea. We got onto the topic of our Fulbright application process, and I was surprised to find that the professors had also needed three recommendation letters to apply. Of course, they just go up to a friend and say, “hey, Dave, write me a rec, will you, buddy?” And then Dave says, “sure, no problem, but I’m busy so write it yourself and I’ll sign the bottom, okay, buddy?” Which is only a bit like my life; one of my professors told me that now I’ve graduated and have a Fulbright, we’re on equal terms and I should start calling him by his first name, but it freaked me out so much I stopped emailing him. Anyhow, the tea was so much fun that we’ve planned a Fulbright ramble around the Stavkirke this weekend when Amanda comes in to visit again. Hopefully Davin will bring his kids so that we can run around with them and show them Oskar the pig.

I went to a MIFF (Med Israel For Fred, With Israel For Peace) board meeting the other day. They asked me to speak in May at the Municipal Hall about my experiences with FRIEND, the Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue group I started in college. We were stuffing envelopes with newsletters when suddenly Erik, whose apartment we meet at, jumped up and turned on some music. “Rachem” by Avraham Fried ripped out of the cd player. He was so gleefully proud of himself that I smiled. After all, I haven’t heard it since high school when it was used to torture us by the high school production zombies, and it made me a bit nostalgic for freaked-out-frummy-ism at its brain-deadest. Then, he told everyone to close their eyes. With mine open a slit, I saw him walk around clapping everyone on the head. When we opened, they were all wearing kippot, and looking pleased as punch with themselves. It was possibly the most surreal moment I’ve had in Norway, and I laughed and laughed until I could barely stop.

On the literary front: I’m reading things I’ve never had a chance to before this year. More modern stuff than ever before, and Norwegian novels (after reading Out Stealing Horses, which I recommend to all, I’m now tackling Ut og stjaele hester, though part of the incentive’s gone now that I know what happens). This past shabbat I read the first novel of the Foundation series. I can’t believe, with all my affection for Asimov, that I’ve never read them before. I’m going to have to pace myself and allow only one a shabbat, or my entire break will be gone and I’ll have gorged myself on the series without doing any of the serious work I’m meant to this week.

Views from Løvstakken:

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