Friday, April 20, 2012

The End is Perilously Near

Yesterday was Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. I peeled a sticker that said “Yizkor: Remember” off a folder of mine and stuck it to my sweater, forgetting about it until one of my high schoolers asked me about it. All of a sudden I was extemporaneously holding a Yom Hashoah assembly. I started out saying this was in memory of the Holocaust, and telling them that in Israel the air raid sirens go off and everyone in the entire country stands in silence for five minutes, and all of a sudden my voice was cracking a bit and I was talking about the importance of never again, not as victim, perpetrator, or bystander, and that when we say that we must think of Rwanda and the Congo as well, and never remain silent when people are targeted based on their color, sexuality, abilities, beliefs. Especially remember that this week in Norway. As I said that, A, who’s been glued to her laptop the entire week, unable to tear herself from Breivik’s trial, looked up briefly, her continuously furrowed brow peaking even further and then flipping back to her laptop. As I wound down, nobody spoke. “Oh, oops,” I thought to myself. “I guess we’re having a moment of silence.” I looked down, then up fiercely at the wall ahead of me (walking out of Auschwitz, the survivor with us had said “komemiyut” and I took it as an order) and silently counted out the seconds in this classroom with Norwegians.

After I broke the silence, numerous hands were raised, all wishing to tell me about the same thing. On May 17, when the parade passes Mohlenpris, it stops for a moment of silence outside the houses of the Jews who were deported from Bergen. That they do so fifty years after any recognizable Jewish community has lived in Bergen astounds me; that my students know about it warms the very cockles of my heart. Dear students, you do not need to scramble to prove yourselves innocent and sympathetic. Nobody can blame you. And I look at you and think of how you strive for goodness and wish the world could know you too.

As daylight stretches and my brain tells me that 7 pm is really 4 pm, sefirat Haomer gets more difficult. I’m still counting with a brachah, but pretty soon I’ll have to stay up until the wee hours of the morn if I want to say it at night. Dreading Shavuot.

I sent in my final Fulbright report, thanking the Norway office for their kick-ass help and suggesting improvements. I’m also in constant contact with Ida, next year’s Bergen ETA. I’m realizing the huge advantage of having someone to follow—all the questions she’s asking me, about how to apply for Norwegian classes, where to live, what kind of phone to get, the advice to bring something Trader Joesy for Anita— I had to find out the hard way.

Where I live. Aka, why I don't want to leave.

Wrapping things up here has me realizing I should probably start focusing on Toronto. Read the literature they’ve sent me, check the classes available, maybe join one of those online chats (dear god no). But I’m dreading it. I email Ida with such glee, such excitement about Bergen... it’s hard to turn my thoughts Toronto-wards. I don’t want to live somewhere ugly, with nasty sweaty summers and shlumpy leering North American men and big-city Judaism. I don’t want to leave my students to the tender mercies of their next year’s teachers when they’re so much better off under my tough love discipline. I don’t want to be so far from the wonders of Europe. I’m not done exploring yet. So for now, I’m just going to keep repeating to myself the mantra of “literature. Literature. Literature with intelligent native speakers who will shock my thoughts into newness. And it will be wonderful.” I’ll deal with the rest as it comes.


Hmm, I was going to post the above, but I think I should be honest. After all, if I can’t tell the truth to my six billion friends on the internet, who can I talk to? After actually buying the last leg of my ticket home last night, from DC to Cbus, I spiraled. Way down. Everybody has their crap days. Today, I accomplished:

To be fair, laundry here takes four hours. I also watched every back episode of the Daily Show that I’ve missed over the past month. This became useful multi-tasking when I used my computer fan to dry my socks. I also taught myself the lyrics to Ka Er Du Redd For and played a drinking game while reading Obama’s Audacity of Hope where every time he predicted something that has actually happened over the past four years, I took another spoonful of ice cream. And, lest you be wondering, I don’t eat Norwegian ice cream. This is 60 kroner Ben and Jerry’s I’m snacking on. Just a little something to remind myself of why I should want to go home. Mostly for the ice cream. And let’s be honest, nothing beats walking to the grocery store in your pj’s and buying a pint. It’s something every well-adjusted person should do every few months just to give the world the middle finger and remind pathetic people that everybody has moments when they like to pretend they’re pathetic. I also bought strawberries.  It wasn’t such a bad day.

P.S. I also had a nice conversation with the handyman. I couldn’t find a good place to fit this into the blog post, but shout out to Marik. Aaaaand, that’s Friday. 

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