Friday, July 22, 2011

My thoughts are with Norway


Some say we shouldn’t think of ourselves as hyphenated Americans.

I’m a hyphen -- Norwegian-American, first generation from two immigrant parents, both of whom, as adults, came to the land of opportunity, and found it.

Children of immigrants can't help but feel they have one foot in another world. When my parents told stories of their youth, it was about cross country skiing in Telemark, not Des Moines.

We celebrated Christmas on the Eve, and ate ribbe, goat cheese, krumkake, and marzipan (though a nasty bit of business that last one was).

We had pictures of uncles and aunts, grandparents and great grandparents. And the flags they waved didn’t have thirteen stripes and fifty stars.

My dad taught us to respect the Norwegians who came before, most particularly the scientists and explorers – Ericson, Nansen, Amundsen, Thor-Heyerdahl. “Hey Dad,” I’d say, just to needle him. “How come the rest of Europe has so many great artists and writers, and all we have are Ibsen and Grieg?”

So he told me about Knut Hamsun and Svendsen, Bull, Munch, and some of the half breeds like Raold Dahl. I think he wanted to work out some way to claim Mark Twain.

He taught us all the fables, and stories of the Norse Gods. Some pretty good proverbs, as well.

“A minority may be right; a majority is always wrong.”

And

"Bak skyene er himmelen alltid blå."

I’ve always relished my hyphenated status.

I never feel more American than when I visit Norway. I always feel at least half Norwegian when I’m here at home.

But today, I’m Norwegian, only Norwegian.

33 comments:

  1. I saw this on twitter: "What Bush should've said @slicedlime Norway PM: 'We will stand by our democracy. The answer 2 violence is more democracy, more humanity.'"

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  2. Yes, PA, what have they done to anyone lately? Or ever? It's bizarre.

    Are all Norway lovers aware of the photographs at the blog of RunE (blogspot)--especially the last week or two? Something to behold.

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  3. You've been there? Oh, wow ...

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  4. A sad day....for all of us!

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  5. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is stand in the gap.

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  6. Diana and Paula express my sentiments. My heart is with you and your most extended family.

    Our grandbabies are an 1/8 Norwegian. We share small norske traditions with them. We hope that they'll be as comfortable with all their roots as you seem to be.

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  7. A mad mans lunatic actions.

    Sjokkerende.

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  8. I still can't wrap my mind around this horrible event. Inexplicable to me how people can commit such atrocious acts.

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  9. Atrocities like this are always beyond comprehension...thoughts & prayers for the victims & their families!

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  10. So horrible seeing this on the news. Norway is in my prayers.

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  11. It is a sad day. This quarter-Dane feels the pain of our sister nation.

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  12. It's impossible to imagine how scared those kids must have been.

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  13. I don't think anything should surprise us anymore. But this did.

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  14. It's so incomprehensible and tragic.

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  15. How's this.......my ex husband's grandmother was Swedish and grandfather Norwegian. I'm far removed but my heart goes out nonetheless.
    V

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  16. Insanity has no particular face and no specific address.

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  17. I spent many idyllic weeks in Norway in the early 1970s and was recently revisiting some of our photos of hitchhiking above the Arctic Circle. My husband in those days had long black hair, beard and moustache - I'm sure no-one nowadays would pick us up. But the Norwegians did - they were friendly, gentle, helpful, kind; some even took us home and fed us. It was so relaxing camping in the woods as we never had to worry about theft or violence. This evil man is such an anomaly, it's hard to grasp that he was home-grown. He didn't even have the decency to kill himself, and now we have to hear about his arrogant justification for his deeds.

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  18. I woke up to NPR reading excerpts from his "manifesto." I wish they wouldn't do that, it's exactly what he wants. But news being what it is, they won't be able to resist.

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  19. My first thought was "He's bipolar." but the doctors say he's not got any mental illness. Which makes him even more dangerous and evil. And you're right, he wants us all to hear about and read his manifesto.

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  20. This actually shows how even an "intellectual brained" person can turn into a monster due to his strong convince, and then justify every actions to promote it.

    This is mental illness even what the doctors say.

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  21. Even with a background in psych and working with crazy kids...I not only don't get this type of action, I can't believe he's not crazy...

    Such a horrific tragedy.

    I'm second generation American, Karin, and I totally get your half Norwegian side...I'm connected to Finland, Switzerland, and a bit of Latvia...but still all-American...

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  22. Hard reading about this in the paper, even more so now that the details are starting to be known. I feel especially for the young people and their poor parents.

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  23. I totally agree. If this isn't madness, insanity at its most vicious, then I don't know what insanity could be.

    And yes. The survivors -- somehow they are going to have to find the super-human strength to find a way through this.

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  24. I'm not so sure if this is insanity, or just the new normal. But a week doesn't go by where I don't see hints of this within people I observe. Were all sinners to various degrees - nothing has ever been so True. Some are "terrorists", others could be Dodger or sports "fans".

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  25. We are all Norwegians today, and we share your pain.

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  26. After my recent visit to Denmark, I feel a little closer to Norway and its citizens. Such sadness (from this Maltese-American)

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  27. I had the extremely difficult task of telling two friends who had been away about this event. They had seen no papers, no TV, heard no radio. None of us has a connection to Norway that we know of, but similarly as dbdubya says, today, we all stand as one.

    I too heard NPR reading off the manifesto. As with hearing that a plane crashed into the WTC on a perfectly clear NYC day, this made no sense to my sleepy brain. NORWAY? Really? Nahhh, must be Bahrain or someplace else, right? Nope.

    And today am sickened to hear Beck suggest a comparison to hitler and the victims (not the shooter). Beyond sick.

    Standing with and amongst all who grieve.

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  28. What I love about our great country is that it truly is a melting pot. It's not perfect, but at least everyone is free to celebrate their heritage.
    Another great bit of writing my friend.

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  29. Thank you Piper Bobby. Nice to hear from you.

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