Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rush Posts

Ok. So these last two bloggos will be made pretty later, when I have time, but I still have to write about 17 may itself and then my trip to Lausanne, so yeah...lots to do

17 Mai
It is good to know that sometimes it takes the same amount of time for men to get ready in the morning as women, and the saga of jon and his bunad proves this. The guy had to arrange and fasten on:
Cufflinks (seriously men, wow)
Long socks with old style garters
Watch and chain
to great effect.

Note on the bunad- this is my favorite expression of nationalism ever. The popularity of the costume comes from a trend of national romanticism, which put value on those who respect Norway's history. Girls get them on their confirmation and boys later, and they are particular to the region and the family. Initially I will admit to some skepticism. I though they looked silly and wondered how they could be so wildly popular with the ladies...till on 17 May I saw two seriously hunky guys dressed out of an 1880 period novel, speaking a beautiful language and Carrying sleepy lab puppies. THAT shut me RIGHT up. I can't fight that level of dreaminess. Norwegian girls, y'all win!

In the meantime, while jon was fussing I was tending myself too, putting on full texas woman makeup (because this was the occasion to pretty up if ever there was one) and what I thought was a suitably dressed up outfit, but jon, my expert in all things 17 Mai told me that my undershirt was too casual, and he had arranged a better, and consequently much fancier one from Eva. For a ether long time I pitched a hissy fit fitting the makeup I was troweling on, southern style. It was of course wholly uncalled for on my part, and here was jon an his roomie taking care of me, and I eventually sucked it up and just wore it, resulting in a more conservative look.

At the breakfast we went to I realized that I might have even still been too casual. This breakfast was thrown by some of the "Arthur Andersen" crew and was attended by folks dressed to the derned nines. The women were in bunads, the prettiest ones in blue with flowers on it. Interestingly, right in the middle, where we might put a brooch, they put an elaborate dangling thing called a "solijeh" or something close to it. They were pretty like dolls, and the men were pretty dashing too. They were in their best suits, with only jon in his bunad, but they were nice suits like fancy loop workers wear to look elegant. This was a party of achievers, and i will admit being really embarrassed to answer the question of "what are you doing next year?" with "yes...look, a bird!" they did not make me feel bad about it though; I was simply another person at the party. Pretty much the whole breakfast was elegant, from the startlingly fancy champagne to the well-presented Norwegian food.

Let's talk about that for a minute though, norwegian food. I had committed to doing this thing right, and this kind of tested it early. Some of it was really good or at least familiar: lachs, strawberries, bread that the guys had warmed (bravo), but there were some decidedly ethnic elements too, for example, the "uncooked meat that is aged...I think sheep" or sour cream for no discernible reason. I still sucked it up, put some on my plate and tried it all. It was not all 100% great, but it was real.

We turned on the olde boob tube to watch the goings on, and one particularly sweet girl told me something that made the celebrations much clearer:

What do most countries do on their national day?
Military parades. We have a children's parade.

the aggressive cuteness of the children's parade

Crowd at the palace for the parade

I too couldn't resist the overwhelming cuteness of princesses and flags and queens and bunads

They also do not have fireworks, just a nice, clean, sweet celebration free of most forms of militarism. Once the party assembled we finished off the champagne and wandered over to the palace to take a look at the celebration. It was some of the best people watching I have ever experienced in my life. There were women in bunads and Sunday dresses, men looking like harlequin romance characters or high level business people. There were kids of all colors in their best, the school children of Oslo parading past the royals, who waved at them. This goes on for 3 hours. Another interesting bit of trivia: though the bunad is the national costume of the country, the king has never been seen wearing one...ever. He, the queen, and the crown prince and princess stand there, all in awesome hats, waving benevolently for three hours. That is commitment! I was getting distracted pretty easily and consequently got us separated from our group, which led to some nice wandering around, which too was quite agreeable. Jon seems to know everyone in town, so we soon hooked up with some folks from Jon's school, also in their best. This seems I be quite the ritual of the day, groups hooking up with other groups in crowded and happy public spaces. It gave the feeling that Oslo was bursting with a contagious enthusiasm, and I, the social butterfly was in heaven. We walked around and around, the girls always making the same complaints about their shoes, picked up some ice cream, and looked at the bunads, the suits and the savage looking Russ kids. More on THAT later.

Dear Norway, FYI: Your military is 12. Love, Kate

Anyway, we, like EVERYONE ELSE, got on our cell phones with other people and tracked down some of the people from the breakfast, now at a really nice little beer garden, where we sat around and chatted. Most of the talk was in Norwegian, but occasionally someone would throw a conversational nib my way, and I was actually quite content to sit there with a nice cold beer, look at all the craziness around me, and listen to a sweet language being tossed back and forth. They seemed to be tiring too a bit, so the conversation would ebb and flow.

Jon's friends at the terrace...I like the mix of nice sunglasses and 1880s costume

After a while sitting there we tracked down Bro and Bro-girlfriend, both in great bunads (his matched Jon's!), and we all went for a good old fashioned Norwegian mosey past the Russ parade.

I find this really cute

Russ is NOT a large Catholic family that lives down the street and can't look after its kids (Parkwood residents? What what!). What it is is rather a tradition in which high school seniors spend the bulk of May drinking and running around doing pranks. They were the only ones in town dressed poorly, and they looked like SAVAGES, stumbling around. They rent buses together and drive all around and then congregate for parades in their home towns. Does it sound expensive and indulgent? Yes! It is! They spend upwards of 1,000,000 NRK...which is extreme, but everyone does it.

This is the beginning of the "parade," which was more a "stumble collectively"

Don't they look hardcore? See also: the now rather roughed up Russ Bus

Well, we took a look at this and then, tired, we went to Jon's to fuel up and rest our feet. Caffeinated into what must have been our 7th waves, we went out to the harbor again to see what was going on. You won't believe that we saw multiple people in the same bunad as Jon and Bro! They acknowledged it, but apparently they didn't know each other (Norway is small, but it has its limits I guess), just somehow came from the same region. Sadly most of the bars were packed, so we just ended up walking around (what did I say about 17 Mai?), and then Jon and I split off to find his roomie at another terrace, drinking a cool one. He was joined by some people I didn't know and one I did, and we sat around drinking, everyone mostly sticking to english (one of the dudes' sisters had studied in Houston), and me having a bit too more than I should have probably at that particular juncture.
I will say, though,
I had held myself together quite well when it came to booze this whole trip!

What does a boozey girl from Texas a lot of good? Munchies! Jon had RSVPed a bbq on the roof of a friend from his hometown of Msdoifuwerta (I can't spell it, so I start with an "M" and then mash the keyboard). It was in the hip part of town, and the people and surrounding were really relaxed. It was a real "come as you are, bring what you can" kind of environment, and we used the chance to take some deep breaths and watch the sun set late over the town of Oslo.

It was a great holiday, a great trip, and I suspect that even Jon had had the slightest bit of fun along the way. The evening chill settled down over us, if we would have been one age/tax bracket lower I suspect someone would have popped out an acoustic guitar and started noodling around, and Jon, Roomie, and I took a cab home. We were all pretty tired but happy.

The view as the sun went down

So tired...yet so model-esque

Jon's roomie, H, very relaxed and slightly tired

I would like to take this chance to thank again everyone who opened their doors and their culture to me during this trip. You were truly excellent hosts, and you made me really push my boundaries and discover something completely new. That is rare in this world, and I treasure that experience. I did tear up a bit on the train to the airport the next day, not going to lie. Oddly, everyone looked rather glum, but it was raining, and I just had to think, "How would I look on the fifth of July if it were this widely celebrated?" to understand it.

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