Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 27th

A big day in big pictures.

We started early at the school.  Little Miss's 'forskoledag'--a sort of open house for all of next year's new students to come in, meet their teachers, and see their classrooms.  I don't necessarily like that I'm the sort of person who cries at these prosaic little milestones.  But I can't help it.  I am.  And I did.
The woman on the right, with the dark hair, has been Emma's teacher for the past four years. She's rather wonderful, and I'm thrilled that it looks like Amanda will be spending the next four years in her keeping.

When we were finished at the school, I surprised Amanda with her first birthday present. 

The only thing she asked for specifically this year was to get her ears pierced.  Well, 'asked' isn't exactly the right word for it.  'Nagged' is a bit weak as well.  She never came so far as to 'insist', but after the second month of negotiations, she did start to talk about it as if it were a foregone conclusion.  A rather brilliant strategy, if you ask me.  By early May, she had her father asking me, "So?  When are you taking her to get it done?"

Happy Birthday, dearest.

She was predictably stalwart throughout. There was a breathy 'ow ow ow' followed by an accusing glare, and an indignant 'that hurt' directed at the wench with the white gun.  I detected a slight tremor right before the second shot, but no tears, no fuss.  And now:

Pink, sparkly loveliness.
That same afternoon was Emma's art show opening. 

As you may or may not recall, last year's show ended up being a bit of an ordeal for me.  (If you're interested, you can read about it here .)   In short, I was grumpy and unimpressed.

Now, I don't mean to brag or anything, but it's almost as if someone in charge heard my grumblings of discontent, and decided to do something about it.  Lest I should be displeased again....

They held the show in the same museum, but they spread the student work throughout the upper galleries so it was mixed in with the stuff on permanent display. There was much more room to move around, and breathe every now and again.  Still crowded, but tolerably so. 

Once again they ignored her paintings and drawings, which I (perhaps mistakenly) tend to see as EM's strong points, and opted for a small, model chair that she had designed.  But it was displayed in a gallery that featured Norwegian chair designs over the past two centuries.  Clearly an attempt at some sort of thematic continuity.  Very cool.  Emma was also impressed, and a little surprised.  "You can be art?"  Oh--and they chose her chair to feature in the pamphlets and advertisements for the show.  (Just here, I definitely do mean to brag.)

So, without further ado:

EM did not design this particular chair, but I wish she had because I feel strongly that it should be in my house.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ho-hum.  Ho-hum.  I'm bored.

I feel like I should be studying.  I probably should be given the phantom possibility of these oral exams in June.

So here's how it works.  Five students out of every class will be picked out by a computer (total random chance) and called in to take the final.  Some classes have both a written and an oral final.  Some classes have just a written final.  Some classes have just an oral.  My calculus class has both. I already know I wasn't called up for the written final.  But there's still a chance I'll have to show up for the oral.  My biology class has just the oral.

This is by far the weirdest thing about Norwegian high school.  Not everyone has to take the final. 


And because it's done by computer--and computers are notoriously heartless, indifferent bastards--you could be called up for none, or all.  The computer really doesn't give a shit one way or the other.

The day they posted the list of written finals along with the students who'd been selected to sit for them, there was a girl crouched in the corner, wailing (wailing, I tell you) and cursing (rather loudly at that) because she had been called up for three written exams.  TRE! TRE! FAENFAENFAENFAEN! TRE EXAMER!  Ahhhhh FAAAAAAEEEEEEN Ahhhhhh...

(For those of you not familiar with the dimsally limited range of Norwegian curse words, here's a link to an instructional video: NOT SAFE FOR WORK )

I must say, I tend to agree with the wailer.  How is it fair that this one poor girl has to struggle through three exams while some other smug bastard, taking exactly the same classes, may luck out of having to take any? 

It just seems right to me that a written final should be part of the requirement for a final grade for every student, not just an unlucky few. 

I have no idea why they do it this way, or how they justify it.  I've asked.  No one knows.  Well--to be clear--I haven't ask an actual educator, or administrator, for that matter.  But I asked Mister.  And, like, a whole two of my classmates.  They didn't know.  So I assumed it was unknowable.  "It's just the way it is," said Mister, "Everyone's used to it.  So no one bothers with it much.  It's just....the way it is."

Sigh.  So very unhelpful.

In the meantime, I'm left to find some way to motivate myself to study for these 'maybe' oral exams because, if I do get called up for one or both of them, I'll only have 48 hours notice.  Everyone has to be prepared; everyone (or at least all the responsible ones who care about their grade at all) has to study like as if they're definitely going to be selected.  So, alright, fine.  I see the fairness in that.  But still.....what is the point in subjecting only five of us to the pressure of an actual examination?

Whatever.  It's just the way it is, and I'll deal with it if and when that soulless bastard of a computer puts the short straw in my hands and says I have to. 

It's in Norwegian though.  Am I getting across to you people the point that we're talking about an oral Norwegian?  There's something so comforting about sitting around bitching about how flawed the system is in the face of my imminent doom.  Because, obviously, it's the system's fault that I still can't wrap my tongue around Norwegian well enough to comfortably compare and contrast the circulatory systems of an insect and a human, or the reproductive cycle of forest moss, or even my thoughts on the exceptionally cold winter we've had, and what effects I might expect it's had on local ecosystems. 

Oh God, and the calculus?  What's up with an oral exam in math anyway!  It's the prospect of that one that's really got me wetting my pants. 

Doomed.  I'm doomed, I tell you. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Situation Normal

Okay.  So.  The blog.

Look, I know.  I'm sorry.  But, you know, things got really hairy back there in, what was it? April? March month?  Something had to give.  I'm only one person. 

I only had school to talk about anyway.  The derivation of logarithmic functions, and how I can't do it very well.  That's it.  You wouldn't have enjoyed it.  I got sick some more too.  Really sick, as it turned out.  But that was very recent, and, now that I think about it, that episode actually was blog worthy material, fraught as it was with pathos and dispair.  Nothing like a fever to unleash the poetic muse lurking in us all, eh?

Ah well, it's over now.  I'm finished with classes for the time being.  I may yet have oral exams in June to fret about, but for the most part I'm free.  Free to blog at will.  Blog about the kids. About the pseudo-wet-Norwegian summer, and long runs around the lake.  About the dirty floors, and the laundry pile which grows legs and arms, and breathes hoarsely from somewhere deep within its fetid bowels.  And eventually maybe, we'll even get to how I've been reading Stephen King lately, and how ever since, my whole house appears to me to breathe hoarsely from somewhere deep within her fetid bowels. 

I avoided Stephen King for a long time, because I thought I would find his whole demonic anthropomorphism thing disturbing.  But actually, I kind of like it.  I could straighten the cupboards and scrub the floors, but frankly, she wouldn't like it.  She draws her strength from filth and chaos.  She breeds order from our disorder.  She is our sentry and our warden.  She is the ghost of a dead white whale.

No. I can't take credit for that last one.  That was Boy's phrase--not about the house, but about his beloved Bobby. But I can't get it out of my head.  There must be a story in there somewhere.....

But I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yes, freedom.  Speaking of which--Hooray for Norway Day was just this last Monday.  Yey Norway!  wOOt!  wOOt! 


As most of you already know, I'm no big fan of ye ol' syttende mai.  Nothing's changed there.  It was cloudy and coolish this year.  Had to buy the girls capes to go with their bunads.  And hey, we even got Boy into a bunad this year.  He was not well pleased with it.  He kept saying, "But why do I have to look German?"

"You don't look German.  A bunad is Norwegian."

"But it looks German.  I don't want to look German."

"It's not German!  It's nothing but norsk, Boy.  Quit it."

"But it's kind of French then, right?  I don't want to look French."

"Boy, a bunad is a quintessentially Norwegian thing.  People will look at you and say, 'Hey, why does that kid look so Norwegian?  I want to look just like that Norwegian kid.  Geez what a cool Norwegian outfit.  Can I have one?'  Get it?  Norwegian.  Now I mean it.  Shut up, and button up those knickers."

"Scottish then.  I look Scottish.  I don't like it."

Gah!  I had my way in the end; he wore the damn thing.  It must have been some sort of twisted cultural solidarity thing that prevented him from admitting that what he in fact didn't want to look like was another stuffy Norwegian in yet another stuffy bunad.

A few pictures of the day:

Random, pretty Norwegian girls leading the parade.  You're not meant to recognize anyone here, so don't study it too closely.  It's merely a mood piece.
I said 'boobies' to make them laugh and to wipe the standard picture grimace off their faces.  Then I couldn't get them to stop giggling.
So serious.....

Missy's last year marching with the barnehage. 

Looks Canadian to me......