It's been a very stressful week, on so many levels. I've got my first exam to finish by Monday, I just completed the Project Overview for my EuroWeek team – due today.* I still have a norsk litteratur oppgave to finish next week, and I still haven't gotten any further with my thesis paper than I was at the end of Spring Break. So I'm taking a break from writing with a little bit of writing. Makes sense, right?

Among other dubious distinctions this week, I've become the official Team Leader for my EuroWeek team instead of just the de facto leader. I'm not entirely sure I wanted this position, but as I've been doing the work, it's nice to have the title to go with it. I am the team secretary and head writer as well, being the only native English speaker.** The writing position I'm quite satisfied with, seeing as it's about the only strength I have to contribute, not being a business student to conquer the theory and project design or being proficient enough in Norwegian to interview Norwegian businesses for the case study or the survey that the team has designed. So I'm the last person to get all the information and get it in order for the deadlines, so I suppose that puts me in a good position to lead. I know when I need to demand information by in order to get things written in good time. And maybe it will make me look extra shiny and brilliant on my grad school applications. Maybe it will help me get funding. So I guess I do want the Team Leader position.

What I'm not sure I like, one of my team members called me "Leader" – with the quotes and capitalization – in a recent e-mail. I'm trying to take it as recognition and a compliment, but being being cynical and worn out I'm struggling not to interpret it as sarcasm. Especially in light of my peppering chat messages with large amounts of encouragement and smilies when I start getting very frustrated by being misunderstood or not getting data and other information when I need it. I love the internet. I can privately growl and scowl as much as I need to and then give people happy faces when I have to explain something for the third time.

In other news, my kvedarkurs had a concert for some of the kindergarten kids on Monday morning. It went slightly better than can be expected, seeing as I didn't know which songs we were singing until Sunday night. Oh, the dangers of taking an early break. I had missed the last class meeting before Påskenferie because I was traveling in the UK then. At least I didn't forget the songs I had to sing on my own. Though I honestly don't remember if I sung well or not. And then, of course, I heard about the shootings at Virginia Tech and it combined with all the rest of my stress to completely freak me out. Not that it doesn't upset me anyway. But I'm not sure I would have sent out an e-mail asking my college friends to send me some words if I hadn't already been on the edge of breaking down. Much thanks to all the friends that responded, especially those who had done so by the next day. It seriously did something to calm me down. Unfortunately, getting the news on Monday prevented Lill and I from practicing the Scottish folk song that I wanted to sing for the last åpenscene. She was going to accompany me on guitar. We did manage to get a second practice session in on Tuesday night, but ended up not preforming anyway because we were both just exhausted on Wednesday. I did, however, still sing in her choir and did a not to bad job of it. Especially seeing as I was late to the practice right before and didn't get to warm up with everyone.

And I finally got some Magnet and Sivert Høyem. Yay! New music! What's more, Blogger had learned Norwegian. So cool. Of course, I pretty much know most of the new words by knowing their position in the layout rather than really thinking about what they mean and understanding them, but that way I can leave them på norsk and get used to them. Now that I am leaving in 5 weeks...***

*Both of my exams are take-home exams, which means that they are 6-8 page essays. At least, the first one is and I assume the second one will be as well.
**The British are free to argue with this and say that I am actually a native American speaker, but it amounts to the same thing. Though not to be confused with a Native American. It all gets rather complicated, doesn't it?
***Blogger switched me to Norwegian automatically. Otherwise I would have missed out on this delightful new feature.



Perhaps because it happened during the last meeting of my peace-building class I keep analyzing the Virginia Tech shootings in the perspective of that class. Now, peace-building is generally about longterm conflict and how to deal with political conflicts, whether they are ethnically based or ideology based. A seemingly random shooting at a university, even one where a large number of people are injured or killed, does not seem to match this description at the outset. Look closer. This didn't happen in a vacuum. There are a set of political and social issues that need to be addressed, because extremely similar events have occurred before and will again until we, as a people and a society, start doing something real to prevent it.

The first thing is, stop looking to blame someone at the outset. When something like this happens, at that moment the one thing that anyone needs to say is "This is terrible. I'm sorry that this has happened." It is disgraceful that we have to say and hear "This is terrible, it happened because he was depressed and mentally unstable." Obviously he was mentally ill. Anyone who opens fire on a stranger in this manner is mentally ill by contemporary standards. That he was depressed and mentally ill says absolutely nothing about how terrible it is, or why it happened. It is a fact, but not a reason or an explanation. We should not hear "This is terrible, but don't blame our entire ethnic group because he was crazy." It is also a tragedy that such a thing needs to be said. Would anyone say that it is terrible, but please don't hate all white people? No, we would not. And we should absolutely not hear, "This is terrible, but it doesn't mean that we need stricter gun control laws." It absolutely does mean that we need stricter gun control laws, but in the first reaction to this sort of crisis we need to be able to feel it. We need to be able to react to our shock and our sorrow.

After we have had time to react to the shock of the situation, then we need to look at how it happened. Was there ample warning that this would happen? Should the police and school administrators have reacted differently? Certainly, with hindsight we can say that they should have reacted differently, but who would actually say that the administrators deliberately acted negligently? It was a crisis. It was unclear what was going on. Blaming them doesn't do anything to change what happened or to prevent it from happening again. Assigning blame isn't the answer. Identifying weakness in the response is obviously important, but it shouldn't overshadow more important questions that need to be addressed. Primary among them is "What kind of society do we really want to be?"

This is really important. What kind of society do we really want to be? I don't want to be a society where this sort of tragedy is casually accepted. I don't want to say, violence is inevitable. It may be inevitable and we can't prevent every tragedy in the world. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be outraged when it does happen, or that we shouldn't try to prevent all acts of violence. We need to look beyond the immediate tragedy, after we have had a chance to react to the immediacy of the tragedy, and really try to answer this question. What kind of society do we really want to be? We need to develop a collective vision of our ideal society, and then try to figure out how to get to that ideal. It isn't easy. There are many conflicting visions. Even when we can agree on what we want our society to be, we disagree on how to create that society. But how much of our opinions on how to achieve the ideal society are based on simple misinformation? Gun lobbyists have tried to foist the idea that owning personal fire arms makes our society safer, but does it really? How many little old ladies with a pistol actually stop a crime? Have we even looked at the statistics? So we need to know what we want to be, and then we need to educate ourselves on what is really going on in our society right now. We need to really know what is true so that we can narrow the scope of permissible lies.

At the same time, we need to broaden our search for answers. The personal firearm situation in America is ridiculous. Some how, despite all evidence to the contrary, we still think that America is the wild west and vigilante justice is a permissible way to deal with crime. The idea that arming everyone is a possible way to prevent violent crime is worse than a joke. But while the ready availability of small firearms is a contributing factor to the Virginia Tech shootings, there are other ways to kill a large number of people, especially in a university setting where a large number of people need ready access to public and shared facilities. A bomb can be made with sufficient research, access to a Home Depot, and then be smuggled into a building in a rucksack. We need to address the gun control issues, but we also need to examine how we deal with mental illness in our country. This is only the beginning of issues that need to be explored. And having different opinions on what we want our society to be is fine and good. Even with objective research we will still have conflicting ideas about how to create that ideal society, and what works in one location will not necessarily work in another location.

The one thing that we cannot allow, is not to have an opinion.


13 hours

32 students died on their university campus today. When it began, I was sitting down for a class about dialog and it's role in resolving international conflict. I find the contrast between these two events disorienting. In writing about this event, I can't possibly say anything that could address the pain of those immediately affected there at Virginia Tech. All I know about what occurred is the brief news story that appeared on Norwegian television today, and the first article that appeared when I brought up CNN. It was the only American news source I could think of when I saw the news on my friend's tv menu. She only turned it on to find out about the SK Brann football game today. After we understood what was happening she turned on the news program just in time to see the story.

I can only respond to such a thing in my own personal way. That I am so greatly affected by it is as surprising and shocking to me as the actual event. I'm also disturbed by how meta I am about the whole thing. At the same time as I was feeling ill reading about the experiences of the students who were only peripherally affected – that is, those who were not in the dorm or the classroom, but were still frightened by the gunshots and the police presence – I was also comparing the Norwegian and American coverage. The short clip of President Bush speaking seemed to be the best speech I had ever heard him give. The CNN article quoted the part of the speech relating to God and prayers for the families, where as NRK showed the part of the speech where he discussed the tragedy of this violence. Also, the footage from the scene seemed gruesome to me, even though it only showed police running and gunshots could be heard.


voi vittu

mobil ringer.
-du arbeider i dag.
-nei, det gjøre jeg ikke. navnet mitt var ikke ned for i dag.
-jo, det står egentlig her.
får melding. skrev du ned til å arbeide i dag. var det en feil?
sender melding. jeg kommer nå.

stikker inn matbutikken. kjøper banan og melk. skal trenge det...
gjør noe.
deler matpakken med venninna.
banden kommer seint.
flytter noen ting.
gjør noe.
forandrer noe som var gjort tidligere.
-hva vil du drikke i kveld?
går hjem.

spiser noe. blir mindre sur.
prøver å gjøre noe arbeid på oppgaver.

skal tilbake seinere.
står foran scene.
elsker ørepropper.
får øl. har crewmøte.

sover seint i morgen.