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Miles: Skiing

March 8, 2011

For the last few Sundays, a few of my friends and I, occasionally calling ourselves Team Applesin (Orange på norsk), have been spending our afternoons cross country skiing. Having never skied before coming to Oslo, I quickly fell for the sport, and have thoroughly enjoyed spending my time experiencing Norway on skis.

Some of my favorite things about skiing:

The silence. A couple Sundays ago, we were skiing up near Sognsvann, and all three of us paused for a moment. That day, the trail had been filled with Norwegians carrying radios in their backpacks listening to the Nordic World Championships, but we had managed to find an empty space. Surrounded by trees, trying not to think about all the hills we had gone up, for a brief moment I heard absolutely nothing. Silence in the forests of Oslo is a silence I hope to hold onto for a long time.

Feeling Norwegian. I’ll never be Norwegian but connecting with Oslo on skis makes me feel close to this place in a way I can only assume Norwegians feel close to Norway. I am seeing more than Museums, than my campus—I really am seeing Norway. A Norway slightly less touched than downtown Oslo. Even though they may seem like simple afternoons spent skiing, I am keeping these moments as the times I felt truly connected to Norway and my experience here.

Kvikk Lunsj, duh. Meet Kvikk Lunsj: a Freia company chocolate bar that’s basically a Kit-Kat. They seem to be doing an incredible job at marketing themselves as the Athlete’s Candybar. The wrappers have stories of different skiers and they were huge sponsors of the World Championships. (There was a vending machine at the T-bane station near my flat that converted to entirely Kvikk Lunsj for the week. It was amazing.) We take a break mid-skitour every time to eat a snack. Typically it involves hot chocolate, fruit of some sort, and chocolate- usually Kvikk Lunsj.

Giving in to the challenge. I’m not a very skilled skier. I fall a lot. Maybe it’s cross-country skiing, or maybe it’s just the state of being I’ve found myself in lately, but whatever the reason, every time I fall, I laugh. I brush it off. I smile. Skiing is fun. I may have just fallen, but I’m still having fun. It’s a challenge. I silently applaud myself when I make it down hills without falling. I try not to fight it- fighting the challenge only makes it harder. Give in and smile. It’s way more fun.

This weekend Team Applesin is heading for Lillehammer to ski and relax and have a good time. I’m pretty excited. (That does, however, mean that I need to kick up my homeworkin’ so that I don’t have a pile of Norwegian waiting for me on Sunday night. To the library!)

Things I have learned:

OPPRESSION IS HARD TO TALK ABOUT, SO WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT A LOT. This, after a little ode to skiing, probably seems super sadsack and liberal affluent white kid of me to talk about. But here’s what happened: I’m in my Gender Equality class, and the teacher mentions something about Men being oppressed for their gender. I say “You know, as far as I’ve learned it, based on the definition of Oppression as being something one can only experience if you aren’t the group with power and privilege, I would have to say that Men, solely based on gender, can never be oppressed.” A person in the class (A man) says “That’s absurd!” and begins to tell me that I can’t say that men can never be oppressed. Part of the issue was clearly that he misunderstood or didn’t care that I had said I was only talking about gender oppression, but still, a phrase that stuck out to me in the worst way was “when oppression goes both ways.” Um, what? Oppression, by definition, can’t go both ways. That’s not how it works. Power means you can’t be oppressed in that specific situation.

Other people in the class also seemed to think I was a little off-base or just plain ol’ wrong. It felt like trying to fist-fight a brick wall. Part of it could have, admittedly, been a language barrier, but I think most of it is just proof that we as human beings aren’t talking about this stuff enough. Men, in most cultures, don’t face Sexism. The systems are working for them. If we ever want to change it, we need to first learn how to talk about it.

AFTER CLASSES LIKE THAT, YOGA RULES. All I needed was to deep breath that all out. Somedays you can only fight the brick wall for so long before you need to retreat and try again later.

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day. A thousand thanks to all the women who are and have been a part of my life.

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