Archive | May 2013

Transition !

Transition !

A Book In Progress.

An excerpt from the book:

As an outsider, I had become psychologically distraught and economically dysfunctional; effectively losing my masculinity and confidence. I fell through the cracks! Resulting in the break up of my family, and then learning that I did not have shared custody of our children, which led to an emotional meltdown. Since I love my Sons, I knew I had to stand up for their rights and mine, I struggle hard everyday to be the best father I can be, to support them financially, socially and intellectually.

The uneven steel-gray cast of light hung over the sky, like some unhappy child bursting into uncontrollable tears. The sky was crying endlessly, pouring down buckets of water. Typical spring weather in May. When natures renews it`s kindness with budding tree branches extending their leaves; with small, yet colorful wildflowers peaking through and push their way up from the cold slumber, being under a long winters permafrost passing; then it is beautiful.

Life is still hopeful and prosperous.

I met some friends over the weekend. We indulged ourselves with some Italian culinary, at a new location in town, with that steel-gray overcast sky and the plundering rain that continued to have its way, outside above us.

People were out, families, young and old connecting. We sat at a cozy corner table by the window, next to a mother and a father, and their two small cute boys. They were happy, eating their pizza, and being with Mom and Dad.  It was such a beautiful moment. I could not help myself, but I was watching them and having some reflection of when my four sons were that age. It was around 2 decades ago, but I am still here trying to be a father, and I`m happy that I stayed.

In spite of all the difficult challenges, disappointments, trials and tribulation; I am happy that my oldest Son will be 22 this year. He has come home today and we have re-established and are enjoying the beauty of being Father and Son. We have been separated, but slowly we are reuniting, re-introducing ourself to each other. It is a beautiful experience when life comes full circle, especially when one stays the course and is determined to understand the importance and the responsibility it takes to be a parent.

My Son is turning out to be a very intelligent thoughtful Human being. He has been away studying at a College for the past 3 years. Now he is sharing his time off, living with me. I am very happy and pleased that I have stayed here, to see this day. When I look in the mirror, all the pain of the past melts away, knowing that I have 3 more sons, that I am waiting for to come home and be father4 sons, experiences like this makes all the bitter, sweet…

I’m at an Italian restaurant, the sun is shining. My oldest Son walked in and joined us. We are together talking and catching up from being separated by design, eating pizza, and enjoying this sunny rainy Saturday afternoon…

The day after :

The 17th of May came and left. Norway’s Independence Day, Its National Constitution Day. I was trapped in a void. A space where I did not fit in,… and never did. I always have struggled with this national holiday, a day supposed to be of inclusiveness, accordingly to Norwegians themselves.

My kids are born in Norway. They are considered to be only Norwegian, even though half of their heritage comes from an afro-american background. I always felt a culture gap, a culture disconnect, no matter how hard I try, understanding and being a part of the Norwegian culture. It was hard as well as hypocritical to assume or behave as such, no matter how much I would tried to fit in?

There are historical social and political background that goes with every Nation State; and the difference are numerous. When I came to Norway, I believed in democracy and equality of cultural inclusion. In Norway the feminist movement has over the years grown into a strong and influential power which has changed the sociocultural landscape. It has managed to diminish the masculinity and the voices of men, they are being silenced in the sphere of equality, in the discussion on how it should be. You can also see these changes throughout the education system and how the society is functioning.  Some men have become like domesticated cats. I always had respect for a women and share the ideal of equality, as I all to well understand the importance of equal rights and fairness, growing up in the America when African-Americans fought so hard for equality and justice during the not so long ago civil rights movement.

I never believed or thought that I would be fighting for my rights for culture inclusiveness, being from one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and yet having the need for finding a common ground where difference of culture can be shared and tolerated between men and woman.

My sons are the outcome of two different cultures, from an interracial relationship, obviously mixed with African-American blood. One would welcome cultural diversity, where two cultures diverge and share the obvious unique differences. There seems to be a lack of understanding and sharing when it comes tolerating other culture ethnic background, the reality is that there is some disconnect, void, some overlooked anomaly, which makes this conversation taboo. It becomes an exercise in what it means to live in a homogenous society where the importance of culture and identity is in a name and your birth place.

It is interestingly profound to witness this process, of culture and identity taking shape, in this Nation State; Norway. Where nationalism historically has its firm grip of its people, being a fairly young country, its constitution was founded in 1814, but it did not become an independent Nation State before 1905. I always felt like the explorer, the pioneer who just dropped in and got stranded, planted my seeds only to witness them to grow into some oxymoron unlike anything I could imagine later, nor for years to come did I not anticipated the outcome. How naive I was. Why would I think, or believe, I should be included, in this homogenetic society. And who do you think you are, coming here, how could you show or teach us anything, that has any precedence to this land? You immigrant, foreigner, go back to where you came from F…..N…., this is and has been an unwelcoming theme, from quite a few Norwegians. Though many would deny this reality as a misrepresentation of how we are here in Norway. Of course, one cannot cast the dye of an entire nation, but the truth is there are many who have experienced the unwelcomeness as outsiders, and all too often, this is taken as unjustified criticism when talked about.

The idea, that you are certainly not allowed to criticise, any idea, of misrepresenting the notion of good, equality  justice or democracy? These tenets of Janteloven are the preamble of keeping order and one in a collective reality, when equality is sameness, when you are not allowed to think for yourself. Everyone is the same, but are we? Really? The use of alcohol is the exception when the collective mind breaks the mold and frees its emotional imprisonment, then one can observe and witness contradictions enigmas that preclude any collective minds, then the mantra of Janteloven loses its grip!

The collective egalitarianism:

I was younger and had already had a great deal of success and experience, knowledge, private and formal education and confidence. What happened was; I became a “victim” of the system of “Janteloven”.. I lost my confidence! Whenever I travel back home, I see the changes in culture, and get shocked!.. Strangers greet me, some make eye contact, some smile, it`s all very fuzzy and familiar, it takes awhile to get back. Friends and family members can not identify certain characteristics that make up who I Am, or used to be? I was outgoing, happy, confident, and now they often ask me are you ok? It takes a long time to feel good about oneself after living in a different culture, where your own set of values and self-respect have been slowly disregarded as irrelevant.

I lost many years in the possibilities of financial success in the food and beverage industry and as an aspiring actor, in theater and commercials, since I came to Norway. All my professional experience in the fashion industry, and education in the Creative Arts was of no value. I had been undermined and fallen into a world of contradictory belief system. With values that I could not succeed or achieve any of the things I attempted, having tried to open a restaurant, a modeling school/agency, a martial art school, under the guidance of Grandmaster William Cheung, or just getting a regular job etc… Why? Because they told me I did not have the right papers, documents or spoke good enough Norwegian, and conversely making it almost impossible to earn a decent living. As an outsider, I had become psychologically distraught and economically dysfunctional; effectively losing my masculinity and confidence. I fell through the cracks! This is why I`m in the process of writing a book of my experience, and why I write this blog, being a father to 4 wonderful boys.

A Heroes Heart

Reflective still wildly waiting as the stillness of twilight prevails,

far from the madding crowd.

Looking out on the pastel pinks and blue clouds,

surrounded by silence,

each breath like a newborn child,

opening his eyes to the innocence of nature,

the light personifies a softness whispers

of baby breath freshness.

 

Caught in the infinite bliss of the moment.

Here we stand at the crossroad, halfway there,

undressed, naked, unyielding, passionately accepting,

this beauty that abounds placating;

any misrepresentation,

any confusion,

any contemplation,

no regrets, no animosity.

 

Here we stand where unconditionality meets love,

and love meets harmony.

When sound is perfection.

The road ahead is clear.  

Listen to the heartbeat throbs, the tempo,

the true rhythm where we all join to hold hands,

in this human condition….

Embrace The Light Spirit…A moment of Spring..

 

Copyright, Jose Kendall

May 7.2013

Bergen, Norway

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man.

The anxious is obvious. The locals are restless, and fair enough; the prevailing winds of winter linger and hang on, this far North. Spring, is always a mixed bag! So don’t be in such a hurry to get rid of your sweaters and jackets, yet!. The good news is; the northern sunlight is winning, hanging around longer and warming up the souls of the natives, as darkness slowly fades.

Excerpt from the future book “The Journey” From chapter: “Everybody makes mistakes”’

“The Pot was hot, and getting hotter by the minute. I was in the deep dark gallows of a social political and financial disconnect, that was expanding; therein a hidden reality existed, and it was literally strong enough to strangle me.

In this far away laboratory, in the western part of Scandinavia, this far in Northern Europe, I was trapped between the seven mountains of Bergen, Norway. Here exist the illusive unknowns of realities, of living in a Norwegian society, as the outsider this would be a most powerful experience for many years to come.

I was the fall guy; that went from the frying pan into the fire.

Nothing has really changed, not even in this part of this world where, “Nobel Peace Prize” are given to scientists, freedom fighters, international human right organisations, or the likes of potential great leaders; such as the current president of the United States of America, President Barack Obama.

These high ideals of goodwill gestures of Norwegian people can be meaningful, in the sense of the good of humanity. It is the nature of humans to project, an idea of good intention, goodwill, and the likes of nobility. These images of a nobel peace prize, are the tenements of Norwegian nobility, it is a part of their complex egalitarian system, some would say. Yet underneath lies something so surreal, unforgiving, awkward disconnect from reality in the 21st century.”

I have witnessed, experienced, and lived a very real and unprecedented existence of being a non-person. Invisible, an outsider in a institution of rule and laws that were designed, indirectly to keep me in my place. Most of the institutional laws and rules have underlining paragraphs and clauses, that when interpreted by law can have a juxtaposition in the meaning, that excludes the outsider, those that are not of that group or Clan, ie. you are identified by your names, Pettersen, Hansen, Olsen, or some other typical typed Norwegian surname.

It has been an amazing journey from one day to the next. One would never imagine the complexity the constant checks and balances of one’s own, sanity! I have felt that I`ve gone mad a few times….

As a person of color, and as African American man, world travelled and diverse, this stop was the most controversial experience of my life.”

I have been living here for 2 decades and have often wondered about so many of the norms of Norwegians, the codes of behavior, getting to know Norwegians can be very difficult and it has taken years to find a few friends. Language can have huge disadvantages, or obstacles, as the linguistic nuances don’t accommodate the emotional expression. The Norwegian language itself is teutonic, and of germanic origin. Though it took me, many years to learn this difficult language, I am still learning and don’t think I  will ever be as good as a Norwegian. Would it matter anyway when you’re invisible?

The social context of drinking… It has often perplexed me for the longest time the alcohol culture in Norway. Now I must confess that I have been drunk in my lifetime occasionally, and even played into the hand of how Norwegians handle drinking.. And as a responsible parent there is no way to join such lascivious behavior weekend after weekend, getting drunk and smashed out of your mind just to get eye to eye contact and a smile? Why, well that might be the only time you see Norwegians letting their guards down, or just speak their mind without their fear of exposing their true nature. Or is this a way I have to behave, to earn visibility as a regular resident of the society i`m living in?  As a seasoned mature man a father of four Sons, what example would I be setting for them?

Life here has taught me many unconventional wisdoms; for instance weather. Weather is a conversational piece and a driving force, this far North, and people can be cold by nature. Forget about the warmth and friendliness, Norwegians can be the most difficult people to get to know in many occasions.  Could it be the weather?

The absence of the Sun affects the nature tone of Norwegians demeanor, its takes years to understand this phenomena of the weather and how it may affect moods, attitudes, perception and the sense of being out of your element. That feeling of the welcome smile, eye contact, or how are you? A kind of pleasantness, the acknowledgement given, that is taken for granted in other countries; is all too often misrepresented here, it could be refuted as fake in the eyes of many. Can the lack of ultraviolet rays, be the culprit?

In my daily activities of getting from point A to B, can sometimes be an amazing, and challenging  mind boggling out of the body experience, making it feel like I’m an Alien from Outer Space or from Planet X ? Is something wrong with me?

People will pass you by without seeing you, looking at you, avoiding eye contact; in fact they may see you and pretend not to. Sometimes one, just needs that warm greeting in passing; Human to Human, to make one’s day. But then again not here, you’re not allowed to show any feelings until, the weekend arrives.

I am the alien, who likes to have a good laugh when appropriate, a smile when its natural, and the need for connecting and finding that human thread, human to human, regardless if it rains or shines.

Then its really all about culture, and perspectives. History has shown why, and how, and what keep humans interconnected. Today with internet,  globalisation and the integration of the european union; it has brought cultures and people closer together, through travel, trading of goods and services.

My personal experience the past 2 decades living in this Homogeneous society, is still perplexing and I still feel a sense of being the invader, the outsider, even though I have 4 sons, with a Norwegian. We are separated, and the very premise of my separation from the very beginning was based on that being different, an outsider, an immigrant, a foreigner

Part of this separation is based of the vast divide of culture. The social economic part of the intolerance and misunderstanding or willingness of Norwegians to accept other cultures. Through newspaper articles or online debates, in the commentary field you often see and can read that It becomes all about them, if you don’t like it go back to where you came from, when they are speaking their mind more freely.

When you have four sons that you love and have been with since their birth, it becomes hard to pick and leave from a moral perspective and being a responsible father. The importance of being a father regardless of the rules and laws that are written, are crucial to any kids development.

I have witnessed and experienced the violation of human rights, to both my children and me, and there are many more out there that would have more worse stories than me to tell. Through the unfairness of the court, in the Norwegian system of justice, through the separation and divorce, the end of any case will most likely award the kids to their mother, when it should be a 50/50 solution; provided through a fair evaluation of both parties, and if the kids are old enough their wishes and voices should be heard in the case, with all sides argued and evaluated fairly.

While in such a case I was misrepresented by a Norwegian lawyer, who sat during the entire preceding and never argued my case…  I lost all 4 of my sons, to visitation, after being with them, since birth, and being the main care provider a “house father”, especially for the 2 youngest of my sons. The complexity of this case had taken away some of my young sons most precious developing years, and continues to do so. As their mother has moved them to another town, 3.5 hours away… That is also why I’m telling the story of my kids and me.

The Sun continues to warm up, and hopefully peoples winterly moods will fade away.

A little statistic note from The Norwegian Statistical Bureau: The original fact sheet you can find here in Norwegian: It is an actual governmental official document. Do the math and you will start to understand the numbers of kids being taken away or not given the opportunity to be with their fathers. http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/bld/dok/nouer/2008/nou-2008-9/5/7.html?id=508170

In 2006, 58 500 children born in this country. Nearly half, 46% of the children were born, had married parents, 42% were cohabiting parents and 11% were single mothers. The proportion born to single mothers has been gradually increasing since 2001, when the proportion was just over 8%. 1

Figures from Statistics Norway show that more than 11 000 children under age 18 found that parents were divorced in 2006. 2 This is a decrease from 2005 of about 900 children, which is related to a general decrease in the number of divorces. Of the more than 11 000 children who experienced divorce was about. half of the children aged 6-12 years. Statistics Norway has no record of how many children involved in that cohabiting parents moved apart during this period, and there are no statistics on existing and dissolved cohabitation.

2.7.2 Location and access

It is assumed that approx. 25% of all children aged 0-18 years living in other family forms than with their two parents. 3 Figures from 2004 showed that of these 82% stayed stuck with the mother, 8% lived permanently with the father and 10% had shared custody. From 1996 to 2004, the proportion of children with shared custody increased from 4 to 10%. 4

A 2004 survey showed that 97% of non-resident parents had visitation or at least contact with their children after a family break or birth. 5 Non-resident parents were defined as mothers and fathers who reported not to have the child living with him. June 90% stated that they had had contact with the child in the past year and 79% in the last month. 7

The monthly average assemblage was estimated to be 6.9 days. This figure may seem rather low, but it also includes the 21% of parents that does not have any visitation with their children in the past month. In addition, 10% reported 1-3 days of visitation, 25% reported 4-7 days of visitation, 26% reported 8-12 days of visitation, and 17% reported within 13 days of visitation. 8 Similarly, the average was 6.5 days in 2002, and it was concluded with a statistically significant increase in the number of reported visitation days last month from 2002 to 2004.

As stated above, most children live permanently with mother after a breakup. In a survey of visitation fathers situation in 2002, however, answered 60% of the fathers that they wanted a different distribution of where the child will live than the parents actually practiced. 9 Of these, 12% wanted to have the child living with them permanently, 47% wanted shared custody. The same survey showed that 62% of fathers would like to have more access to the child, and that 70% believed that the child wanted more companionship. A survey conducted by Synovate / MMI in 2005 showed that 70% of respondents fathers wanted shared custody as the care plan by a possible breakup.