Wednesday, May 30, 2012

København and Shavuot in Oslo

Yellow tulips on black water. The lilac blush of cherry blossoms blooms dimly against the town’s shops, matching the much subtler blush of sunset above. Ducks sleep in pairs, sitting rather like the couples around the octagonal pond. Arcs of water splash out in a jumble reminding me of the mountains jumbled about Bergen. Everything has a counterpart this evening. Hints of light glimmer in the corners of the dusk, and the moment begins to take on the hue of a Monet as Bergen slowly, slowly, so slowly you might miss it, turns into an Impressionist painting.

The train pulls out at 10:58. I watch out the windows for awhile, as the sky darkens into an ever deeper blue, then impatiently pull my sleep mask over my eyes. One could wait for night forever, and never find it between Bergen and Oslo. Anyhow, I won’t see it.

Definitely on vacation
So when I wake at 2 am it’s with awe that I look out over the vast plains of snow in the shadows, an eldritch eerie scoop of majesty across the mountains. In the blue dark, I feel I've seen something special, the only one awake on the train to catch the sheen of snow crystals. I wake again at Asker, and it is bright day. I have a stiff train-smell on me, and wash with soap and brush teeth to drive it off. I’m a seasoned traveler now; I even brought a little towel.

Oslo is still awakening at 6:30 am. It’s going to be a lovely day. Hot. In the 20’s. I find myself a shady corner of the Slottsparken to rest in. This way I can wake up in a few hours and go straight to Åpent Bakeri across from the Literaturehuset for breakfast. I doze some time, and hear something approaching. Fast. A red dog, medium-sized, with droopy ears, bounds up to me to make friends. Then away, to his owner: look what I found! The man walks up the knoll, chuckling, “det er ikke ofte noen er her so tidligere for min hund å spille med.” Ja, I answer, men det er en deilig dag, og jeg har tid til min reise. “Hvor går du?” Copenhagen. “Og hvor er du fra?” USA.

What are you looking at?
I know how to play tourist, and I know that’s what he wants me to be. Today is so grassy green and fluffy-clouded, I’ll play any make-believe anyone wants. So I slip into the American praising Norway’s beauty, and find it a simple, pretty kind of act. Then man and dog bound away, and seconds later I hear another joyous meeting, of the more canine type. I lay back in the fresh, leafy, grassy smell, pondering how the very breadth of the wide leaves above me exude friendliness. Down on Karl Johan, an ice cream truck drives its tune by, and I hear drums in front of the palace, a vague echo of 17 Mai.

I have my leisurely croissant at Åpent and read Bridget Jones’ Diary in Norwegian as I eat. The story is crap, but full of contemporary expressions and useful slang to keep my brain happy. I loaf down to Akker Brygge for a last gander at the boats and statues in fountains, wave flippantly at the Nobel Peace Prize Hall, and hotfoot it to the airport, where I promptly fall asleep and am awoken by Amanda sheer moments before a deep, mellow gong sounds. The announcement informed us that this calm noise was the fire alarm, and we slowly began to evacuate for a few moments until the source of the smoke was found and everyone returned to their seats as though this pleasant interlude is a common occurrence.
Hamlet's castle, thataways

Copenhagen was 27°. My dismay at the heat amused me for a moment, until I reflected that it would very likely be hotter when I return to the US. We spent the evening strolling along the banks of the Søerne. Well, we meant to, but we quickly found ourselves a bench and began a long goggle-fest. Danish men are, without doubt, the most gorgeous in the world, and most of them seemed to be embracing the weather by running topless in it.

We returned to our neighborhood, Nørrebro, stopping to buy a mango from an Arab man who, upon inquiring my name (“Anna” to him), gave us a prolonged Arabic lesson which I’m sure Amanda found new. I asked where he was from. Palestine, Gaza. And? I wanted the story. Degree in engineering, the best student in the West Bank, which is why Israeli soldiers kicked him out, into Turkey, which also kicked him out, and now he’s here, selling vegetables in a small shop in Copenhagen. True? Perhaps. Another perspective to add to my store.

Outside Nyboder Skole
We woke early to reach Nyboder Skole in time for the first class. I explained who we were to the secretary in Norwegian, which she understood, and she responded in Danish, which I didn’t. We followed her up to Jakob Pusck’s Engliah classroom. He was as good-looking as the other Danes, and spoke an emphatic punk English, urging his students “let’s keep it, real, okay?” They were discussing democracy, and I got a jolt when, for the first time in my life, I heard someone casually refer to “our prime minister, because she would never—“ Knowing Denmark has a female leader and hearing it personally in pronoun form are two completely different things. True to Scandinavian form, Jakob turned the conversation into a discussion of gender inflection in politics. Class was entirely discussion-based, mostly fueled by his charisma and rapport with the students, who spoke a comfortable, colloquial English. The next class tackled the Civil Rights movement, and then we sat with Jakob for a break and listened to him talk enthusiastically about education in Denmark. Like every other teacher I’ve ever met, he loves teaching, hates the system. As we headed downstairs for the final class, we asked him why English teaching is so much more successful in Scandinavia than the rest of Europe. He began to respond with its necessity, but another teacher one floor up stuck her head out and answered that it’s because they focus on communication before all else.
The last class was a group of students graduating in a week. They were friendlier than the previous classes and intrigued by Americans (is it true that they don’t teach evolution in American schools?). We got them thinking critically about their own culture—are they spoiled because they were each given macbooks by their parents? What are their thoughts on immigration? Then we sped off into the city to explore Copenhagen.

The day welcomed us with a sunny smile. It was delicious to vanish into the parks by the Kastlen and wander across picturesque bridges and past blooming bushes. We promenaded along the water front, snapping the requisite picture of the lille havrefrue. In Danish, literally the little half woman.

Most photographed statue in the world
By the time we reached the Kongen’s Have (King’s Garden), the sun and lack of sleep had exhausted us. We napped on the shady lawn, surrounded by a sea of sunbathing Danes. When we awoke, Amanda had sharp red blotches of sunburn on her shoulders. We toddled over to the castle in the middle of the garden. It had a moat and looked so Disney, I wasn’t surprised that Hans Christian Anderson’s worlds had sprung out of this city.

We stumbled onto the longest pedestrian street in the world. Drifted through bookshops, used clothing stores, and tea venders. I bought some cheap plastic sunglasses and we tried on floppy glamour hats. We’d have needed entirely new outfits to make them work, but perhaps then we might have fit in with the Danish glamour theme better. The word on those streets was style.

Down by Rosenberg Castle, we ducked into the Nationalmuseet for a moment’s relief from the sun. We found ourselves in gloomy rooms filled with triptychs and Viking swords. That evening we parked ourselves at one of the chic little bars near our apartment, and watched the chiseled-jawed and chiseled-bodied bikers stream past.

Thursday morning we awoke to wander Nørrebro. The cemetery where Kierkegaard and HC Anderson are buried was a veritable garden that just happened to have stones with inscriptions in it. In fact, people biked through as we watched! Searching for the greats’ graves was something of a scavenger hunt, but eventually we found them and took our pictures.

A quaint little street led out of the cemetery. We peered into bakeries, craft shops, and delightful little antique stores. We stopped to watch a man roll out a slab of caramel in a window. He picked up a knife and cut two little pieces off and held them up, then pointed to the door. Feeling rather like a dog lured in with a bone, I followed Amanda in so she could bombard him with questions. She has a gift for drawing people’s stories out of them, which made it quite worth the sticky mess I had to hold in my hand and look grateful about.

Swans on the Søerne
As we sat in a park discussing travel as a panacea for ignorance and creating our own Danish fairytales (a dragon baker battles a severely intolerant gluctose-intolerant crank), we were interrupted by an attacking bulldog. It kissed our legs and slobbered towards our bags. I felt it had crossed a boundary and reprimanded it primly. The owner approached leisurely, arousing my ire until I watched her half-carry the dog away between her legs like an unwilling sack of flour. Then I just felt pity.

We followed a picnic lunch along the Søerne with the Danish art museum. I was amused at the Scandinavian inclusion of Norwegians, Swedes, and even Caspar David Friedrich in the Danish section. They’re very liberal about claiming artists as their own. We sat a half hour sketching statues. My reproduction of a little girl with an armful of kittens in her apron was quite good until the last kitten, which came out looking more like a cartoon Pikachu.

We decided to walk across the city center, and found ourselves in Christiana. Petter, the Fulbright director, had written an amusing email when we applied for our travel grants, about his student visit in 1973, when they “were all hippies, getting stoned, doing ceramics, and occasionally discussing existentialism… worked for a couple of days at a shipyard in Kristiansand and called it self-proletarianization.” That email had me rolling on the floor laughing for days. Anyhow, Christiana was beautiful and hippy, with green hair salons and health food stores every few feet. It screamed trendy at us, and environmentalism seemed the latest fashion. I wanted to jump over the side of the canal and chill in one of the boats. Instead we found Noma, the best restaurant in the world, and took a picture beside a disappointingly plain door. I guess they don’t need to advertise much.

We returned to the banks of the Søerne in the evening, armed with ice cream and strawberries. It would be fair to say that most of our vacation was spent sleeping, talking, and eating beside these lakes. For which delicious experience, I would like to thank American taxpayers profusely.

Friday we found Amalienborg Palace on the wharf and walked along fountains and sun chairs. Returning through the Strøget (that long long long pedestrian street), I suddenly spotted Didi, the Bnei Akiva shaliach I’d met at a shabbaton in Oslo. He gave us a grand tour of the shul, toblerone, and bottles of ice cold water. The community center is gorgeous, with a big garden and sukkah area, multi-floored offices, spa-like mikvah, and stately, enormous, soaring shul. The kind of vibrant Jewish community implied by all this space astounded me. I met the uncle of Joav (Norway’s rabbi), who’s president of the Copenhagen shul. Sensing a Scandinavian rabbinic monopoly. After, Didi walked us to the corner to buy a huge Maribou bar for the Oslo shlichot. I adore being a shaliach shokolade. We didn’t have much time before our flight, so enjoyed a last ice cream and picnic, and headed back to the airport.

That night in shul, I watched a scene that brought tears to my eyes in its representation of Jewish life in Europe. Joav’s oldest son came late into shul, and as he started to cross his father’s seat to reach his own, he was arrested by Joav’s hand. No kippa. I watched from above as a pantomime unfolded. Joav’s hand flipped out twice in a clear message—get a kippa, or get out. The boy, Ariel, is too old for the Jewish barnehage (gan), and goes to a Norwegian school, where he doesn’t wear a kippa. Can’t really, just as Didi took his out of his pocket when we entered the gates of the shul in Copenhagen. It makes one wonder to see turbans, hijabs, and saris throughout the streets of Europe and yet realize Jews aren’t safe in kippot.

Copenhagen was filled to the brim with bikes
Ariel returned after a moment, still bareheaded. Again he was faces with a rejecting hand. This time he reappeared, rubbing his eyes fiercely, a shiny white kippa on his head of the kind visitors borrow to declare themselves, in peaked polish, as visitors. He sat beside his brother, wiping tears from his eyes and struggling to get over his father’s repudiation of himself. Joav, too, put his hand over his eyes. I understand it. The difficulty of rejecting your son for a moment and yet the importance of retaining identity and practice in the face of a foreign society. He told his son, with the fierceness of his gestures, that to be part of this community, you must follow its rules.

That night we ate at Claud’s, the Moroccan artist who’d fled to Israel and fallen in love with a Norwegian there. The food was fascinating spicy Moroccan fare, and we stayed until midnight cracking sunflower seeds between our teeth. Shabbat morning I was in shul early, waving to Sarah, the security guard, as I skipped upstairs to my spot in the women’s section. We ate lunch at Tuna and Eli. Again, a Sefardi guy who’d married a Norwegian. Tuna is from Finnmark, and cooks lavish, delectable meals because of it. She’s also the community caterer. I took single bites of half the dishes and felt as though I’d gorged myself on gourmet goodness.

One of my favorite things about statues of horses: they
always look so completely stupid from the back
We had the 20-30’s aged group over for seudah shlishit. A fun crew of Norwegians, Israelis, and one other American. Joav gave a shiur on the haftorah which made me bristle. All those comparisons of Bnei Yisrael to whores bring to mind the Norwegian writers Ibsen and Skram and Collett. Take the analogy through to its end and God becomes exposed as an abusive husband.

After mincha, at around 11, about twenty members of the community gathered in the Kiddush hall for Joav’s Shavuot shiur. It was still Shabbat, but since Shavuot wouldn’t come in until nearly 1 am, we started the learning early.

Joav posed the most basic question: should the Torah change, or stay as much the same as possible? Avi jumped in with support for unchanging, and as the table swallowed it in Norwegian silence, I responded.

Dragon landing
לא בשמים היא! Problem solved. The second it was given to the Jews it began to change, by force of interpretation, and human vitality. Whatever remains static is dead. Torah is alive, interacting with humanity. I kept myself from quoting Bakhtin in time and let Michael, the Danish gabbai, and the so-very-Israeli chazzan Reuven bash it out in an epic exchange of preconceived notions. We reached home just as the sunset turned into sunrise, the moment in between lost in some other sphere.

I think they were locked out. 
Lunch the next day was for the Bnei Akiva high school madrichim. I enjoyed the culture clash where Racheli whined that the madrichim lacked responsibility, and the madrichim sullenly responded. Ah, how little Israelis know of Judaism outside Israel. At dinner at Joav and Liat’s, it was proven again. After discussing the current scandal of the Stockholm rabbi and how his converts will probably be invalidated, we surged into a discussion of Conservative and Reform Judaism. Reuven once again left me feeling hopeless. Joav’s responses heartened me, as he’s more aware of the nuances of reality. I was less able to argue than I wanted. Five meals in Hebrew had left my brain stuttering.

The next morning I awoke early to wander though the cemetery and stop at Ibsen, Wergeland, and Collet’s graves. I couldn’t find Munch, and just as I was about to give up, noticed his bust. No words but his name, and in whiteout, someone had written, “sometimes there are never words.”
The shul read Megillat Ruth that morning, and as always I got chills from the loyalty of עמך עמי. We ate lunch at Michael’s, the gabbai’s, with the whole chamullah (rabbi, chazzan, and shlichim), and I blew Reuven’s mind telling him about uni in the States. After a long nap I made American pancakes for everyone, frying while subject to an intense interrogation from the Melchior’s youngest which quickly devolved into a mindless ככה–למה fest about why the pancakes were so fat. After mincha a group of us walked down to Akker Brygge. We ended the chag around Joav and Liat’s kitchen table, dragging out a game of poker until 1:12 am when we could finally say havdalah. It was hard to say goodbye to Inbar and Racheli the next day, and I climbed onto my train with a sadness that only seven hours of Norwegian mountain splendor could cure. This country is magnificent, you know that? And Bergen most charming of all. More graceful than Oslo, quainter than Copenhagen, lusher than Stockholm… jeg er stolt å bor i Bergen.

Thinking Man on Pole

Balanced Peace

Fancy a tilt, anyone?
Pretty much all that life's about

HC Anderson and me

Monday, May 21, 2012

17 Mai: Tradition in Tights

Syttende Mai, or the 17th of May, has been Norway’s Constitution Day since 1814 when Norway declared independence. From Sweden? Denmark? Unimportant. The three biggest celebrations in the world are held in Oslo, Bergen, and Seattle. But Bergen is the best. We have the buecorps, and the best bunad, and a toget that is so much longer than the city itself it actually cuts itself off in parts and little drummer boys must alternate crossing with Norwegian war veterans.

I began my 17 Mai celebrations early. Rachel and I both had guests, me a Swede I met while living in Israel, she a Brit she met while living in Thailand, so the conversation cross-referenced Israel, Thailand, and Norway quite frequently. Yael came in from Stockholm Wednesday afternoon and Rachel and Mim came over for some good old-fashioned American brinner. Nothing like fat pancakes, waffles, and vodka for dinner (okay, so it was an American-Norwegian breakfast). Mim’s Newcastle dialect challenged my lexicon and drove Yael crazy.

We went out to Sjøbodn for some 16th Mai joy. Sjøbodn’s so much fun because it’s in the warehouse bottom of one of the old buildings on the Bryggen, and is less poshy than other Bergen hotspots. The tables are barrels with wooden crates on top, the décor is of the Hanseatic variety, and the music is live and fairly smooth, albeit unchangingly American. We loaded up on Hansa and settled near the guitarist.

Apparently we looked like easy prey. A Norwegian man with a full load (haha! Get the pun, Norwegian readers?) sat down at the table next to us, and after a bit of work, made himself part of the conversation. His breath reeked (halitosis is a venal sin, in my estimation) and his conversation remained mostly basic as he was too drunk to really speak English well. He pulled over a guy selling roses and gave us each a rose, since it was our “first 17th”. He gave Rachel a drink, and then went to the bar and came back with a plate of fifteen shots.
“You’re not drunk enough,” he said. “Have a shot.” Not drunk enough to find you attractive? Not even fifteen drinks would help, buddy. Rachel went for a shot anyways. Disgusted with his smell and obvious intentions, I switched seats with Mim and let her and Rachel butter the guy up so that they could get more drinks out of him. They’re from New Jersey and Newcastle respectively, and I found myself wondering whether being from the self-acclaimed trashiest part of each country as they are has inured them to the nastiness of bar pick-ups.

Finally, Kyle and Mark came in, sopping wet, and with a little adroit angling of chairs we managed to get our buddy Thomas to move on to a girl in the corner, where he seemed to be making better progress. Mark joked to Rachel that “that could have been you!” as the singer moved into his second rendition of ‘Brown-Eyed Girl.’ Sometimes I really miss American humor. Eventually we moved on to Café Opera, not neglecting to take our roses with us, and returned to Fantoft late late late (but it still wasn’t dark out, of course. Or at least, not night-dark, just rain-cloud dark) on a bybanen filled with drunk russe. At the first stop, a pair of policeman got on and paced through the aisle. At the second, they disembarked and a different pair got on. We counted four sets of policemen on the bybanen that night. It made me feel very, very safe. And filled me with trepidation for the morrow. What were they expecting to happen?

17 Mai dawned bright (the raindrops were backlit with a pearly cloud light that seems all the eerier since you can’t tell what the light source is) and early (around 4 am). Yael and I were invited to Sigrun, one of the English teachers I work with at Katten, for a traditional 17 Mai breakfast. As we arrived, people in bunad carrying trays of food and umbrellas filled the streets around us.

Bunad, or the traditional Norwegian dress, was probably the coolest part of this day. Bergen looked as though dolls from the folk museums had suddenly sprung to life and emerged to walk the streets. Everyone except the tourists were wearing it. I felt transported back to the fifteenth century, and suddenly realized how anachronistic modern dress appears against the wooden houses and cobblestone streets of Bergen. The bunad police (an amorphous group referenced throughout the day) strictly forbid the wearing of sunglasses or too much makeup, but they can’t change the incongruity of a woman in apron and bonnet buying a bybanen ticket, or a man in breeches and stockings texting on his phone.

The very aura of the day was charged because of the clothing. Watching a woman flounce down the street in her full skirt, I got the feeling she felt as I do when I’m tricked out in yom tov finery. The bunad made the day more than a 4th of July barbecue, into a festive and at the same time slightly solemn day. Nobody was going to act stupid while wearing 40,000 kroner clothes. Oh, did I mention? Bunad cost quite a bundle. The embroidery is all hand sewn, and silver and gold doodads hang all over it, and only certain women have the technique. Most girls get them at the time of their confirmation and wear them their whole life. Different regions in Norway have different bunad, so most of people's conversation on this day revolve around, "oh, and where is yours  from?" It's a wonderful expression of patriotism that Norwegians normally don't allow themselves. 

Sigrun was in bunad, as was Ødin, her adorable two-year-old son, who stared at me with mouth wide open whenever I said anything in Norwegian, no matter how much Sigrun and Erland assured me I had it right. Erland, her husband, had opted out—less Norwegian men than women own bunad.

Sigrun and Ødin 
Traditional Norwegian breakfasts are delicious, and luckily overlap with kashrut in quite a large way. We had thick slices of bread slathered with strawberry jam, brunøst, and rokt laks (not all on the same piece), along with fresh fruit that most definitely was not in season in Norway in 1814. Yael’s Swedish is close enough to Norwegian that we could converse quite comfortably, especially since weirdly, Stockholm Swedish sounds more like Bergensk than Bokmål.

Around 10 we began to move towards the city, and crammed onto a bybanen so packed that I could not turn my head straight but held it stifled against an enormous Norwegian man’s jacket, praying that he wouldn’t move his elbow, for fear my nose would be history.

The bysentrum was crowded with tourists, Bergenser, balloons, flags, and booths selling hot dogs and umbrellas. We walked along the pond in the center towards the festplassen and became aware of the sound of drums. Boys in uniform were marching along beside us. We’d found one of the feeder routes to the parade, and were accidentally walking with it. I was reminded of one of my old roommate’s favorite comedians who said something about how, if you get tired of a parade, you can just walk in the opposite direction and it will fast forward.

We finally secured spots along the rail at the corner of Olav Kyrres gate and Starvhusgaten. For the first half we watched the parade between gaps in umbrellas. Then the weather began to improve and we snagged slightly better viewing spots. Bergen presented an impressive pageant. Everyone was there: the fire department, old veterans, little boys drumming, whole swathes of colorful townsfolk in bunad, the rektor of the university in his velvet cloak, and an impressive array of russ. Ah, I thought, here is Norwegian pride. Hidden all year long only to erupt fantastically at the start of spring. Worth it.

I was just as interested in snapping pictures of the crowd as of the parade. Everyone had dressed up. It really bothered me to see women in aprons and buckle shoes and embroidered corsets bent over their phones and texting, or holding hot dogs and umbrellas with logos for the Body Shop. But it was also a delightful sign of the march of time and progress (are hot dogs progress?) and of how a modern society could still remember the old.

Yael and I watched the people for hours, stopping for a brief picnic of knekkebrød, Norsk agurk, and cheese before returning to the melee. Fulbrighter flautist Sarah played with the Bergen band in the pagoda in the city center, and we listened to most of the concert before drifting off to watch the crowd hop from booth to booth of games. We returned to Fantoft in time for some serious naps, solid soup and hot chocolate for dinner, and a good deal of talk about the day.

Friday alternated clouds with sun. We hiked lazily up Landåsfjellet and picnicked at the top, returning to the bottom in time to buy groceries and cook for Shabbat. Thea came for lunch, bringing strawberries, and that with Yael’s Swedish chocolate gave us the best dessert ever.

Sunday was one of the nicest days I’ve seen yet. After a morning run, Yael and I went into the city. We watched the Bergen band play, picnicked by the center pond, walked up Fløyen, and bought ourselves Softis. Ice cream popped up everywhere. There were more hands with cones than empty.

Inbar, the Oslo Bnei Akiva shlicha, had called to let me know she was coming into the city with two friends. The five of us bussed down to Haukeland Skole to teach cheider and give the boys some Yom Yerushalayim cheer. I have to say it was absolutely deliciously delightful to be the one with the best handle on language—I could speak Hebrew with the Israelis, explain things to the boys in Norwegian as the need arouse (Rosh Hamemshaleh? Statsminister! Knesset? Stortinget!), and most definitely had the best English in the crowd. Linguistic ability is the most basic of all human skills in providing access to other people. What joy to have it in spades (in the right surroundings, of course. I’d be rather lost in France).

We left cheider, where my boys had read up on different battles of the Six Day War and had to brag to their friends about which they had fought in, and then participated in a trivia quiz by the Israelis, for home. It was so serene out, so peacefully blue and smelled so deliciously sunwarmed, that we walked down to Gamlehaugen for a sit by the king’s tulips and daffodils. We watched the gulls swoop in designs over the fjord. It was 9 pm by the time we realized it was evening. The sun was still arced high in the sky. Our shadows stubby in front of us, we wended our way home and pretended it was evening and time for dinner.

Tonight I go to Copenhagen with Amanda, and then Oslo for Shavuot. I won’t return to Bergen for a week, which is horrible when I remember that I have less than a month left. Don’t expect pictures from Copenhagen—my camera broke right after 17 Mai. Which seems fitting. While in Norway I have broken my kindle, laptop, camera, glasses, retainer, hiking boots, and snow boots. The gods of small things hate me. Still, it’s that much less to carry home!

Enjoy the pictures!

The start of the parade

What are you looking at?

Russ on the prowl




How to make a phone fit with bunad: Norwegian flag

The end of the parade

Who says Norwegians aren't military?

That's us! UiB!

Biker offers beer to the cops

Norwegian Language and Literature

Watching the parade
The German Office
The Scottish office?

We are Russ and so can you

Tap dancers dancing to 'Singing in the Rain.' Just right for Bergen.
Tap dancers on cobblestones

Step in. Step up.

Bunad on the march
Not sure.

Lots of bands

Russ convention

Decked-out stroller

Dog in bunad!

More bunad!
Yet more bunad! 

You get the idea


Matching umbrella. 
Sarah performing

One of the cutest things I've ever seen

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