|Walking up Fløyen on Friday|
I’m finally doing it. The rite of passage that means one has mastered a language. That’s right. I’m reading Harry Potter in Norwegian. And laughing, and laughing, and laughing, at the translation of Rowling’s names into Norsk. Hogwarts has become Galtvort, Dudley is the very Viking Dudleif, and best of all, quidditch is now rumpeldunk. Confusingly, wizards are “trollmen” in Norwegian, which seems more Norwegian than it should be. Honestly, I was surprised by the translation of Rowling’s inventions. Some of her best work is in the silliness and deliciously fitting sound of the names she gives to her imaginary world. Losing that makes the book more Norwegian, sure, but at the expense of some of its brilliance. In this case the attempt to translate the ideas instead of the literal has failed sadly.
Watched a movie based on a Jo Nesbø book tonight. Spent most of it curled up inside my sweatshirt hood waiting for Stephan and Przemek to tell me that the blood was gone. I think they got a kick out of my writhing in the seat. They kept offering me peanuts at gory moments. There was a moment in the movie that seemed so very Norwegian to me; the hero was walking down the sidewalk, blood dripping from his head, and three Norwegian businessmen passed him and then turned to look back a moment, but didn’t stop or try to help or even ask a question. I know that in a movie having random passersby offer help would interrupt the flow of the thriller, but it so exactly mirrored the delicate obliviousness of strangers that Norwegians practice, I had to laugh.
|The rooftops of Bergen|
This year has given me a lot to think about by letting me drift outside the academy, even just a bit, and actually process the ideas that were pumped into me in college. I’ve never been so totally outside my own zone as now: living in America and Israel, I identified enough with the people around me that my ability to understand them was clouded by my being them. But here in Norway, I can see Norwegian prejudices and bias clearly, and my outsider stance has let me take a good look at my own prejudices more clearly than ever before. Until now, I always knew what I was supposed to think, and tried to think it. But this year has bared the arrogance of that to me, and shown me that much as I’d like to have some kind of superior understanding, I’m as much enmeshed in my own position in society as anyone, and so I ought not to force some kind of perfectly politically correct thinking onto my own mind, but to actually figure out what I really think, and then work to understand why. Thank you, Norway, for combining xenophobia with naivete and showing me your flaws. Only once I saw someone else’s could I begin to search for my own.
Monday night was salsa night once again. I wish I could explain the high that this good little Jewish girl gets from swinging from muscular arm to muscular arm, shimmying up against male torsos and letting them grasp the tickle zones that flank my stomach (I still haven’t outgrown a shrill reaction to the side-poke). But of course I can explain. It’s so totally the lure of the illicit. It’s my fresh-out-of-midrasha woman embracing sexiness, and my inner feminist ceding control. Neither are allowed. My identity of strong Jewish feminist drops to the floor with my coat when I slide out onto the salsa floor, and I’m allowed to be the absolute negation of myself for an hour. In an environment that’s simultaneously chummy and steamy, sultry and safe. Delicious.
|Teitvannet in spring|
Spring has reached Bergen. This was the warmest winter in recorded Norwegian history. I feel a bit as though I’ve missed out on something. But since the last two were record freezes, perhaps I’m lucky enough to get off with this. And it’s so heartening to see the added hours of daylight, the genuine warmth of the sun. I’m back out on my jog around Teitvannet now. A friend is training for a half-marathon, and I’ve promised to train with her, so the weather’s cooperation seems an intentional gift. Actually, at the moment, nearly everything seems like an intentional gift, like some pleasant Fates are raining boons upon my head for the joy of it. I promise to pay it forward.
I can’t sign off without a comment about tomorrow. I know most everyone expects a ‘Purim sameach,” and sure, I’ll get to that, but first: tomorrow is international agunah day. An agunah is a Jewish woman trapped in a marriage because her husband will not give her a get, a Jewish write of divorce. Tomorrow is the day to write to your rabbis and community leaders and demand a systemic solution to this malignant religious oppression. Friends of mine getting married, get prenups that insist on resolution of religious commitments before a secular divorce will be legalized. Find out more at Organization for the Resolution of Agunot's page. And when you’re fasting for Ta’anit Esther, think of the other women who are frightened of their husbands and forced to live double lives. Take a stand.
The evolution of the Norwegian child:
|Yes, these kids go to school in Middle Earth|
It all ends with chilling on a troll.