Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Impressions of the Second Time in Iceland

I finally made it to Iceland for the start of my Fulbright. It's been since 2006 that I had been here, and that was only for three days. I had a few hyperventily moments of 'what the hell am I doing here?' when I got on the bus from the airport, but the first day was a good day so that lifted my hopes. I'm going to try to update frequently, trying for a regular weekly basis, and perhaps more if inspiration hits!

Here are a few first impressions (and pictures) of being in Iceland for more than just Touriste Purposes.
-The shopping carts at Bónus (a grocery store with a drunken pig for a logo) are brilliant, they have both carrying handles and luggage-style wheels for the ground. Why push a whole cart when you don't have to, but why have to carry a basket if you have to lug around milk? Here is a good compromise.
-This time of the year in Reykjavík has almost home-like amounts of daylight and evening. I can go to bed now when it is dark (darkness is around 9:30pm now), and get up when it's light (light around 6am)! How novel.

-There are many bike and pedestrian paths everywhere, which makes it nice for walking and taking your time to gawk at everything.
-Children's playgrounds often have this amazing swing-type thing that I've never seen before, it's like a round swing you straddle but there's a cable that it slides on so you can launch off this ramp and cast off, kind of like in the jungle movies. I want that. Also, playgrounds have mounds of earth and grass on them like ancient burial grounds. King of your own mountain.

-I spoke so much more Icelandic today than I thought I would, though I also didn't understand any of people's ordinary conversations. I was totally surprised at people's willingness to speak Icelandic back to me, though difficult questions I had to revert to English. This might not always be the case, but it's good to try. Luckily I have two Icelandic roommates who are putting up with all my questions thus far, "why does this orange juice translate to 'clean oranges? Are there dirty oranges?'", "what do you say in place of 'what's up?'", "How much money does a text message cost?" "how do I get to the Immigration office over this weird highway thingie?".
-The sea is a totally new phenomenon to me, and it's right on my doorstep. But to Icelanders, it's always all around them. I asked someone if he went with his family down to the water all the time to play, having lived so close all his life, and he said, 'why would I want to do that? It's so brutal.' I might have asked my family to play on the rocks all the time, but I guess lots of lava everywhere gets old real' fast. Luckily now there is a man-made beach in Reyjkavík so Islanders can have some sand with their surf.

I think next post: my area of town.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Imposter Squirrel

Someone keeps taking acorns from the front yard, but we can't tell who or what it is--every time he arrives, he's wearing a disguise! He's so sneaky.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Modern Dance Wideos

I'm a sucker for dance, especially modern dance. I always wanted to do it properly, I pretend to know how to do it in the privacy of my living room, and I love watching it when it's perfectly integrated to music. Music videos (or 'wideos', as I say in my 'Cherman' accent) are a great way to get modern dance out to the amateur masses like myself!
On the eve of my sister's wedding, I'm sitting in a hotel room with some time to post a couple of my favorites from the YouTubes. My sister's fianceé has dance in her blood; her grandmother started a dance company in Western New York and it's still run by the family. Thank goodness my sister is marrying into a family with dance parties coursing through their veins–maybe they can teach me some sweet moves.
Here's a small sample of my faves that have passed my way lately.

'Islands' by xx. Just f'ing brilliant! I was duped into thinking that the camera pan-out was just repeating; then I started noticing subtle differences on-screen. Then I watched it again and pondered how long it took for all of this work to be pieced together.

'Rosas', choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. It's kind of like saying 'Mental Illness is fun, you guys, come on try it!' It also has really intricate internal rhythm to the dance patterns, if what I can interpret for myself is correct.

This is a fan tribute video to Wild Beasts's 'All the King's Men', by Little Stolen Moments Dance. I might like it even better than the original video!

'Amelia', by LaLaLa Dance Company, chor. Eduarde Lock; I love the cinematography in this. Amazing shadows!

Well, this one isn't really modern-dance related but it does involve an 80's aerobic dance workout-slash-battle between vampire babes and heavy metal/Kiss-type dudes. Always good for my own personal dance around the room, which I'm going to do right now.

(p.s. I had to change the screen size for the vids to get them to play without getting chopped off the side of the frame in various blogreaders- let me know if they look okay.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Country Routine

I'm back at my parents house, unpacking boxes and trying to decide what to take to Iceland, and just how important to fitting in my suitcases is the 80's running jacket (very) versus the pillow (not as much), the digital recorder (essential) versus the box of wires and jewelry stuff (maybe I'll ship it so I don't look like a crafty terrorist?). In any case, the routine lately has been: wake up, eat cereal, sort things, break down a box, dance around, throw out crap, eat lunch, practice piano, swim, shower, think about editing music, eat dinner, parents go to sleep, reminisce about my childhood, sleep, repeat. Not a bad cycle thus far. I also survived my 10-year high school reunion.
Posts might be scant for the upcoming month or so, but fear not! My sister's getting married, and I'm sure I'll have something to say about that. Soon after, I'm scheduled to leave for my Fulbright. If all goes well with immigration paperwork, I should be there starting Aug 31st. You should be seeing this blog change a bit to be 'Midnight Shoveler in Iceland', but aside from more posts about glaciers and Reykjavík, not much should change. There are already posts about those things so maybe you won't even know the difference, right? Well, to fully prepare yourselves, let's say hello to the two Icelandic letters English doesn't have: ð and þ (you can all them 'eth' and 'thorn' as they sort of sound), and now you're good to go.