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(This diary is a followup to the "Leaving America" series)

It can't have been three weeks already.

Útlegð.  Exile.  Everything about my current situation should objectively seem like they're going great.  I'm in a large, nicely kept house surrounded by family.  I can use a nice car whenever I need to.  I'm reunited with my parrot, and my family's dogs.  I'm spending very little of my money, yet still earning it.  And after a couple months when my paperwork goes through, I should be able to move back to Reykjavík, no problem.

So why do I feel like I should be starting an antidepressant?

(Sorry for all the pictures being cell-phone pictures this time; my camera is packed away in a shipping box in the US)

There's no way I can begin to describe everything that happened while I was in Iceland, so I won't even try.  I'll just try to cover some basic categories of starting a new life over there and my return to wait on paperwork: environment, work, shopping & settling in, entertainment, relationships, and departure.


I suppose the day wasn't as long up there as it was in the US when I left, but I hardly noticed.  What I did notice, more than any other trip I've been on thusfar, was the weather.  The crazy, random, mad-as-a-hatter weather.  Weather that goes sun-hail-wind-sun-snow-sun-rain-calm-snow-hail and so forth with a few rainbows thrown in for good measure in an hour's time.  Those crystal clear days when you see a storm rolling in over Kópavogur, across the cove with a stark line visible between "blizzard" and "nice day", crashing into you at full force, then darting off five minutes later to race onwards and crash into Esja to the northeast.  And the amazing ability of the environment to pretend that it never happened -- snow and hail all nicely melted by the next day, if not within hours or even minutes.  Some types of precipitation that fell on me I didn't even have a word for in English.  And those gale-force winds that come and go.  And yet the days were still full of beauty, with perfect calm and crystal clear skies at times.  

My last day in Iceland, I could see Snæfellsnes clearly from Keflavík, perhaps 115 kilometers away.  I kind of enjoyed the crazy weather, while most people here are just simply used to it.  A number of my coworkers hjóla (bike) to work each day in this meteorological craziness.


Working for an Icelandic company is such a pleasant experience after working for American companies my whole life.  The place has so much more of a family feel to it -- just a family with a weird obsession about not having airplanes run into each other.  ;)  My boss has a grandfatherly atmosphere to him, always friendly, helpful and full of suggestions without ever coming across as bossy.  Unlike with other jobs I've worked, he's always concerned about making sure that all  employees have the big picture of what's going on instead of doing development in some little box just to meet a set of specs.  This combined with real laid-back environment where it doesn't seem you're being forced to work really helps you feel like you own the tasks you're working on, like they're your own projects.  I found myself staying late at times without any threat of firing or discipline being the cause, nor any extra salary to come of it, simply because I wanted to get things done on the projects.

There are five employees in the large room where I work (perhaps 5m x 12m).  The one I sit closest to, B., is always really friendly, and works hard at speaking Icelandic with me during idle chat during the day.  I really enjoy doing so with him.  Unfortunately, I find him one of the harder people to understand, and I'm not sure why.  The person I find the hardest to understand, J., really tries hard, slowing words down to a snail's pace when I can't figure them out.  And I finally figured out why I have so much trouble with him: he is himself an immigrant (from Norway), and his pronunciation isn't often what I'm used to (for example, læra sounding more like leira).  My easiest conversations are always with random people in the cafeteria for some reason.

The "cafeteria", for lack of a better word (it's more like a restaurant), has two cooks on staff, who are just excellent, always with a fresh vegetarian soup and delicious breads in addition to the réttir dagsins (daily meal), and who always teach me new words related to foods (although I accidentally started a debate over whether butternut squash was grasker (pumpkin) or not ;)  ).  But this was my company's Heilsuátak (Health Initiative) for two weeks that I was there.  There's always all sorts of initiatives and events going on; here's the calendar for this one:

That is, "Fruit comes in house", various lectures, health checkups, yoga at the Sóley Nature Spa, guest cooks (one from a nice restaurant, one from a cooking school), massage, and a company hike.  All during paid business hours.  The masseuse told me that some companies bring her in every week.  In general, Icelandic workplaces seem so much more relaxing.  There's always people hanging out in the cafeteria -- chatting, reading, knitting, etc, or going on walks or errands during the day.  But really, what sort of people do you want handling your air traffic control: relaxed employees that have been treated well or stressed-out overworked people?

I wasn't supposed to come in on my last day, but I didn't feel I'd gotten enough done on the previous day and hadn't gotten to see everyone off (especially my boss), and I really wanted to.  So I woke up extra early and made what I called amerískar-íslenskar pönnukökur ("American-Icelandic Pancakes").  Icelandic pancakes are more like crepes, which they distinguish from amerískar pönnukökur, the big thick kind.  I made the latter type, but with a twist: skyr instead of milk.  :)  They were all gone by lunch.  As I said my goodbyes, my boss told me that several people had been commenting to him (favorably) about my Icelandic (which I had noticed had really seemed to improve while I was there, to the point where I was actually following at least parts of meetings that were conducted in Icelandic).  So we said our goodbyes in Icelandic, and I was on my way.

Shopping and Settling In:

My first challenge was getting my plants potted as soon as possible to try to help them survive.  I'm used to growing my plants soilless -- in particular, in vermiculite.  It helps eliminate root pests, root rot, holds tons of water, is well-aerated when not overly wet, retains minerals, and in general is a great way to grow plants.  Well, after spending several days trying to find it, both in plant departments and insulation departments, I came to the following conclusion: people in Iceland have generally never even heard of vermiculite.  Gardening supplies seemed pretty backward to me (unlike, say, winemaking supplies, which were available even at Byko, a Home Depot-like store).  Most of the potting soils available were organic and quite peat-y, some with little bits of rock as though someone just dug up and bagged a field.  I got some "hekla" rock in the plant section that I was hoping would be perlite-ish to mix in to reduce the organic content, but it was more like gravel.  Oh well; I potted anyway, and while some plants seemed on the edge of death for a while, all  ultimately survived.

I started buying up 220V kitchen appliances and amassed a small set.  Bigger purchases, though, I hestitated on -- washer, dryer, couch, etc.  A friend told me that Rúmfatalagerinn is the cheapest, but I'm just not used to buying furnature, period, at any price, let alone Icelandic prices.  I balked.  Halfway through my time there, B. pointed me to, the (very busy) Icelandic equivalent of Craigslist.  I began using it, and I'm convinced that if I had had more time, I would have ended up getting almost everything from it.  However, as it was, I only ended up buying a pocket Icelandic-English dictionary.  The lack of a washer was unfortunate, as it meant I had to use the Laundromat Cafe, where doing two loads of laundry cost me $12, not counting gas.

Included in the TODO list was, hopefully, to pick out and start to buy a house, so that the process could be underway while I was overseas.  Unfortunately, it was near the bottom of the TODO list, and the search got crammed into my last few days in Iceland.  I picked out about a dozen properties to check out, based on information I had been told about driving times to various areas by different realtors.  I quickly discovered that these times were quite inaccurate.  For example, one house I toured, deep inside Hvalfjörður, had the most stunning view, and to top it all off, was surrounded by wild blueberry plants.  But the whole time I was looking at it, all I could think was, "I just can't drive an hour to and from work each day."  The short of it is, I cancelled most of my scheduled house visits so I could spend more time with friends and coworkers on my last day, so this task, too, remains undone.


It wasn't all work and errands; I made sure to relax when I could.  The most obvious form of relaxing in Iceland is the public swimming pools.  When you hear "swimming pool", throw away your immediate preconceptions; it's not like that at all.  In a country where hot water is nearly as cheap as cold, they're more like spas.  Just my local neighborhood pool, Sundlaug Kópavogs, has a full size lukewarm indoor pool, a full-size lukewarm outdoor pool, a tall twisty waterslide, an indoor warm spa, an outdoor kiddy pool, a steam bath, and two outdoor hot spas of different temperature, one of which has some fierce and awesome-feeling hot-water massage jets you can use.  Just remember that getting ready to go into an Icelandic pool requires signifiant public nudity, so if that sort of thing really bothers you, best to just stay at home  ;)

(Above: a picture of similar hot-water massage jets not taken by me; I was too busy relaxing to be photographing)

I just had to catch some live entertainment as well, and I was in luck.  First, Gamla Gaukurinn was hosting a concert of Sudden Weather Change, The Heavy Experience, Mammút, and MUCK.  It was
all good (Mammút was bara geðveikt, with the lead singer rolling around on the floor screaming during a cover of "Follow").  After the concert, members of the Heavy Experience came up to me and told me that they were so impressed with how I was dancing out in the crowd that they wondered if I'd be willing to dance in their music video.  Um, "já, endilega!".  We exchanged contact information.  This wasn't the first time this trip I'd received such remarks; at a club the night before, one person commented on my dancing and asked me, "Are you real?" and said I should start my own club, and that he'd "totally go".  In general, I find that Icelanders are pretty reserved with their dancing; I don't think it's anything particularly special about me.

Less than a week later, I was thrilled to hear that Valdimar was going to be playing at Háskólabíó. And even more thrilled to hear that Jónas Sigurðsson was playing with, as well as a ton of other bands.  And that the money was going to a charity for children with rare or undiagnosed illnesses.  And sure enough, in Icelandic fashion, lots of special needs children were there, and the performers did everything they could to help involve them in the concert.  But despite the reason for the concert, it was very upbeat, and the rockers pulled out all the stops; I got some Jónas Sigurðsson songs so stuck in my head that I bought music online for the first time in my life.

I also went dancing, concert or not, every weekend.  There's a quite sizeable club scene in Reykjavík, pretty extensive for the size of the city, and I just love to dance.  But that also brings us to the next topic... relationships.


I'm newly single after 11 years in a relationship with my former spouse.  Some people's reaction to being newly single is to rush out and try to hook up with anyone they can.  But for me, it's a strange and unfamiliar world, to be even dating anyone other than my spouse, much less hooking up.  All relationships I've been in in my life had been with someone who started out as a friend. But here I find myself in Reykjavík, getting all kinds of attention left and right, and I don't know how to deal with it.  It doesn't help that in Iceland, there's little concept of a "date"; people meet, are attracted to each other, and hook up, no strings attached.  If you hook up with the same person several times in a row, however, you're sort of de-facto in a relationship, and then cheating is frowned upon. And I just don't know if I can get myself in that mindset.  It doesn't help that my past complicates things and adds extra worries to the picture, even in a sexually-liberated country like Iceland.

In an ideal situation, here's how things at a club usually go down for me -- to pick one particular night as an example.  I go to dance at Buddha.  I come in and take off my warm clothes and hit the floor like crazy.  A couple random people start dancing with me.  One guy buys me a drink, but doesn't seem to expect anything for it.  I dance some more.  A guy comes up to me who totally (I swear I'm not kidding) looks like Edward from the Twilight series.  He dances for a little bit, but then totally starts making out with me.  I don't stop him, so he steps it up and pushes me against a window of the club.  I don't stop him again, so he starts running his hands over me.  I only stop him when he's literally taking my top off in the club, with me against an exterior window.  I walk off (and fix my clothes... but I have to admit, I'm giddy), dance some more, then run into him again 5-10 minutes later.  He starts making out again, but then keeps trying to majorly escalate the situation, to the point where I feel the need to put my hands up in the air to make it clear to other people in the club that I'm not the one responsible for the PDA.  But he's really good...  I walk outside and he follows, trying to get me to come home with him, and making it really tempting.  But I have to say no.  He tries more, but I tell him við sjáumst seinna, ég lófa.  He reluctantly walks off and I go back to dancing.

That's an ideal situation.  I also had one very much not ideal situation occur, one that I don't feel comfortable talking about publicly at this point.  But perhaps some day.

But I also had some better experience.  I met one guy at the Mammút concert, who I later went out with to look at the Northern Lights (bad timing for the lights, unfortunately, but we got one of those great Icelandic "flash blizzards" instead  ;)  ).  Amazingly patient with my relationship awkwardness.  I met another guy coming out of a club who strangely seemed to understand the concept of a date,  and for some reason kept writing back to all of my Icelandic text messages in English.  Turns out he's an immigrant himself  ;)  We go out a few times.  But it's all so awkward to me. I'm just not used to being with people who I don't know and don't have any feelings for apart from, "this guy is attractive and seems nice; I hope something else develops in time".

Before I return to Iceland, I really need to make a decision, as to whether I'm going to "play the game", to try to be a normal part of the Icelandic dating scene (even if that's very awkward for me), or to do my own thing.


My upcoming departure date loomed over me like a distant storm, growing ever darker and closer as each day past.  But I generally tried to ignore it as much as a could, because I really didn't want to have to think about it.  

A couple days before I left I had to start getting ready.  I posted an ad on, trying to find someone to water my plants for me, and got about a dozen responses.  The most amusing: a submissive guy who, according to him, likes to have women dominate him and tell him what to do, who wanted to water my plants for free and kiss my feet  ;)  Well, as tempting as that sounds (cough), I went with the offer of a friend of a friend to water them for free in exchange for me bringing back some gifts from the US for her.  Good deal.  :)  

The fact that I was leaving really hit me hard when I had to pack up all of the perishables from my kitchen -- it was the first time I started to cry, and not the last.  I stocked up on a couple large bags of Icelandic goodies, including a massive Páskaegg for my nephews, and loaded them into the suitcases as well, along with a modicum of clothes.  The next day, in the afternoon, I drive to Keflavík to catch my return flight, and try not to be seen or heard crying as I look out the window.

It can sometimes be hard to explain why this was so difficult for me, so let me try: I wasn't just leaving a country that I love.  That I identify with.  Don't get me wrong -- I do love it dearly, from the shopping carts that roll sideways to the over-the-top streetlights, from the snows on Esja to the moss on Öskjuhlíð, from súrmjólk to smjör and from the coffee shops to the trails and waterfalls.  But I wasn't just leaving Iceland.  I was leaving friends.  Coworkers.  A job I actually enjoyed attending.  My home.  My plants.  My language studies, half-done.  A ton of important tasks half-done.  I may have only been in Iceland for three weeks this time, but I was now leaving what had become basically my entire life.  And it was tearing me up inside.

I spend the next two days traveling: Keflavík to Boston, Boston to Chicago, Chicago to Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids to Houston, to stay with my family.  And I try not to let anyone see it, but I struggle with depression -- something that isn't typical for me.  I'm normally the stable one, the "up" one.  But I'm finding myself frequently just going through the motions, sometimes not being able to do anything but stop and cry.  This world is so alien for me now.  I feel like a foreigner here in the US.  The environment is wrong, the weather is wrong, the people are wrong, the products are wrong, the language is wrong, the  mannerisms are wrong.  I don't recognize this place.  And I don't want to.  I just want to go home.  But I can't, not for two months.  And that hurts.

Originally posted to Rei on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 07:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Are you now back in the US for two months (11+ / 0-)

    and then will return to Iceland ? And then for how long ?

    (I haven`t read all your diaries).

    (And hope your depression will pass).

    "Walking into someone's diary is like walking into someone's home. You are a guest. Act accordingly." Kos

    by Mariken on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 07:51:53 AM PDT

  •  I like the Wednesday initiative. (11+ / 0-)

    Nude Wednesdays at work from 9:30-3:30 sounds quite intriguing ;)  Oh, and Tuesday as well I see!

    (Don't ruin it for me by explaining that 'Nudd' means something like 'baked cod'. ;)

  •  What a wonderful and amazing diary! (14+ / 0-)

    Beautifully written, straight from the heart.  

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 07:59:01 AM PDT

  •  Thank you! (16+ / 0-)

    I have greaty enjoyed reading your Iceland diaries. I hope that your paperwork goes through soon and you are able to return!

    I slightly dread the idea of returning to America (I'm living in Ireland) my move here was supposed to be for a year, but I have come to feel the same way about it as you do about Iceland, and I am trying to find a way to remain here, so I completely empathise with how you are feeling.

    Best of luck, and I look forward to your next diary.

    Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa? Hwær cwom symbla gesetu? Hwær sindon seledreamas?
    Eala beorht bune! Eala byrnwiga! Eala þeodnes þrym!

    by Alea iacta est on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 08:06:12 AM PDT

  •  I was in Iceland for a few hours once. (11+ / 0-)

    IcelandAir layover from NYC to Luxembourg. Although the middle of the night, and only at the airport, it seemed intriguing.
    Thanks for the photos.
    Try to cheer up; next week it will be less than two months!

  •  I think you're experiencing reverse culture shock (13+ / 0-)

    There are some interesting articles on the internet (here or here) but not too much information on how to overcome it.

    Unfortunately, you can't go through a 'honeymoon' phase in reverse culture shock, because you're already very familiar with the culture you are now in. You may have gone straight to the 'negotiation' phase, where everything American compares (unfavorably) to your new found Icelandic culture.

    Try finding some Texan subculture you may know little about, and explore that for the next two months. Tell them you are an Icelandic transplantee, let them compliment you on your excellent command of English, and get into conversations about how their lives are. Pretend you are an anthropologist on a two month assignment.

    And keep dancing.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:44:11 AM PDT

  •  I was beginning to worry about you. (8+ / 0-)

    No Icelandic diary for a few weeks, no beautiful pictures, no wonderful descriptions of your life in Iceland.  Thank you for this diary.  I hope the 2 months passes quickly and you find yourself back home.  

    •  Sorry -- way too much going on! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, ladybug53, Chun Yang, NonnyO

      And thank you for the sentiment.  :)

      •  Yeah, need our Mother Hen fix (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I noticed you had a plant like this mystery one we have that blooms once in 12 years or so(long, narrow leaves?) but I posted too late for you to see before you left. As I am a native Texan, I can say that a sane and normal person could easily be depressed in Texas after time spent among Scandinavians.

        You have had a lot of changes, and time zone/amount of daylight changes probably have your internal clock in need of readjustment. Please take care, and keep writing.

        George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

        by Chun Yang on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 07:24:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think the plant in question that you're (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chun Yang, NonnyO

          referring to is my pomegranate tree.  

          I'm getting the impression that while there's not a huge gardening community in Iceland, my plants are going to be a big hit among those who are into it   ;)  I'm thinking that perhaps I should get together with other gardeners for group buys to reduce the cost of permitting and shipping when we need more plants to get our fixes.

          Thanks for all the kind wishes.  Really, just talking about Iceland or doing things related to home is a way to help cope, I've noticed.

  •  I totally understand your experience. (14+ / 0-)

    I studied, lived and then worked in Austria for several years. It became very much home for me. When I was studying, I moonlighted in a little bar in my building where I made many friends and learned the dialect and slang to the point where no one figured I was an American. (They could tell I was from somewhere--Holland was the usual guess--and had been there a long time when in fact I had only been there a year). I later went to work for my boyfriend's father's firm, which did high-end color separations for offset printing for places like national museums and expensive coffee table books but also some advertising. I did several jobs, including sales and servicing existing clients. I had really settled in. I had no intention of ever leaving Austria.

    Then things started to wrong. My boyfriend very much wanted to go to the US for a while and is so happens that his dad wanted to put out some feelers for opening an office in the US. Reluctantly, I agreed to go. We actually did do some  business in the US and were back and forth to Hornstein frequently. But I was no longer comfortable in the US. For the first few weeks people told me I actually had a slight German accent, because I had hardly spoken English in several years. (I stayed away from the expat communities).

    After being back and forth for about half a year, the business started to have problems. Just about the time it was clear we would have to close US operations, the tension took its toll on my relationship with my partner and we broke up. My work permit in Austria was directly dependent on working in this firm. With things going badly financially with the firm and my relationship ended, I had no recourse but to return permanently to the US. I packed up my apartment in Vienna, sold some stuff I couldn't take back and returned to the US, something I though I would never do on a permanent basis again.

    It was heartbreaking. I'm still homesick for Austria and this was a long time ago.

    So I have an idea what you're feeling right now. At least you have a job to go back to and WILL be going back to in your country of choice. Please keep us in the loop on the developments and look forward!

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat

    by commonmass on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:48:34 AM PDT

  •  American Exceptionalism (11+ / 0-)

    which we all have drilled into us doesn't travel well. I've had similar feelings returning to the US, seeing the warts in the clear relief of a more objective perspective.  And who can you talk to about those feelings without alienating them or seeming smugly superior for having been lucky enough to travel?

    I've always wondered how conservatives can take extended European vacations and return with their fog of American Exceptionalism seemingly completely intact. But they demonstrably do.

    Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

    by Kurt Sperry on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:49:22 AM PDT

  •  On a lighter note... (12+ / 0-)

    I just amused myself by getting rid of some door-to-door proselytizers by saying, Fyrirgefðu -- ég tala ekki ensku.  ;)

    •  Well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, ladybug53, NonnyO

      that's really funny.
      Imagine the dropped jaws...

      Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

      by ask on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 12:47:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Can Understand (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, ladybug53, loftT, Chun Yang, NonnyO

      French or Italian, I can more or less decipher Spanish or Portugese or even Romanian.  But Icelandic?  Truly alien. If you can crack that, I am completely impressed.

      Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

      by Kurt Sperry on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 02:31:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's actually closer to English (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rei, Chun Yang, NonnyO

        Icelandic is a germanic language like English, whereas French, Spanish etc. are all latin languages with a pretty different origin, more different grammar etc. Once you get a hunch of in which ways the words and spelling have developed in the two languages I think there is a lot of clues to pick up.

        (native Danish speaker here, don't speak Icelandic but see a lot of things I understand when written. Though there are more similarities with Danish, I see a few with English too...)

        •  I wish Icelandic grammar was as simple as Danish;) (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chun Yang, NonnyO

          Dated a guy from Denmark for a few days, and was amazed at the difference in grammar complexity when we compared the two.  Proto-Germanic had a very complicated grammar system, and Icelandic retains most of it, while most descendant languages have lost most or all of it in favor of word order to convey sentence structure information.  Also there's such a big difference in acceptance of imported words between Icelandic and Danish; a good chunk of the words on, say, the menus of Danish news sites, for example, are easily recognizable from English, while almost none of them from Icelandic news sites are.  

          But yes, English and Icelandic are definitely related, branching a couple thousand years ago, with a bit of reintersection during the Norse raids on the British isles.  And while the pronunciations are starkly different, perhaps for half of the words you can see a parallel English word or two, usually with a "similar but not quite the same" meaning.  For example, "vanta" (like "want"), meaning "to need", or "sleppa" (like "slip"), meaning "to drop".  Close but not quite the same  ;)    And there's also the issue of certain English dialects retaining Norse words that aren't in other dialects -- for example,the Scottish "bairn" (child), analogous to the Icelandic "barn".

          •  language comparisons (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rei, NonnyO

            I also know a little Danish, and the grammar is easy. When I look at Icelandic, I just see a lot of letters, then a bit I understand, then a lot more letters. Still would love to visit someday.

            George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

            by Chun Yang on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 07:28:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Forms of adjectives in Danish: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chun Yang

              (if I remember right)  3 -- base form, comparative, and superlative, like in English.

              Forms of adjectives in Icelandic: 120.  ;)  In about a dozen different patterns, plus some irregular versions.

              The funny thing is, despite all that, adjectives are generally one of the easier things to decline.

              •  like the Chinese relationship words! (0+ / 0-)

                I took some Chinese while my(ethnic Chinese, adopted as a baby) took classes. I remember getting a list of words to use for "elder brother's wife" "mother's younger sister" etc.

                George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

                by Chun Yang on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:05:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Icelandic is just the opposite concerning (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Chun Yang

                  relatives   ;)  Cousins, nephews, aunts, uncles, etc are all "frænka" and "frændi".  There are some more specific terms you can use if you want more specificitiy, but in general, it's just those two terms.

          •  Barn... (0+ / 0-)

            ... is pronounced the same as the Scottish bairn in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.  All are spelled Barn in the column header for the child's name in birth & baptism kirke records.

            I suspect the Vikings brought bairn/barn with them to Scotland - probably kirke, too, since that's the same in all three of those countries (altho I think it's spelled kirk in Scotland, IIRC).

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 09:33:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In Icelandic... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              it's hard to transliterate directly to English.  Since the "r" in Icelandic is trilled, there's a natural "d" that comes when you try to say "rn" (more like "rdn").  On top of that, trailing consonants are dulled in Icelandic.  So you get the B and A normally, then a quickly trilled R, then a "D" as the R is terminated, and then a muffled "N" (if any at all).  Now, in some conjungated forms of "barn", or compound words, basically anywhere that the "N" isn't at the end anymore, its quite clearly pronounced.  

        •  Hei Niels - (0+ / 0-)

          Where in Denmark do you come from?

          My Danish ancestors are from the island of Tåsinge, Svendborg Amt.  They emigrated to the US in 1882.  Two of the very old churches on the island are locations where they were baptized, married, and buried by.  One of them was Landet kirke where Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre are buried by.

          Another ancestor who settled in Bergen in the late 1700s and married a Norwegian woman was listed in Bergen records as having been born in Kobenhavn, but I've not yet been able to track his life in Denmark.  Their eldest son, another mariner, went to Trondheim where he married a Norwegian woman, but he and his wife and two of their three children disappear without a trace.  One, my gr-gr-grandmother, lived with a family in the Nord-Trøndelag, went back to Trondheim for a year when she was a teenager, then back to N-T where she married, had children, and lived to be 97 years old.

          I have ancestors from all three Scandinavian countries (plus four others, many from England where the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings settled), and Norway and Denmark have their records online for free, thanks to taxpayers in those countries, so I'm quite familiar with the church records.  Sweden's records are online on at least two web sites (one bought out by Ancestry), but corporations put the images online - the last one in colored digital formats - so fees are involved.

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 09:46:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "Excuse me, I don't speak English." (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rei, ladybug53, elfling, foresterbob, NonnyO

      Priceless.  Bet that got rid of them in a hurry.  Or they'll start asking about how you're hiding the antennae. ;-)

      •  It totally did. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArchTeryx, foresterbob, NonnyO

        Around here, if I were to speak Spanish, there's a not-unreasonable chance that they might actually speak it.  Icelandic?  Pretty much a sure thing that they don't.  ;)

        •  It is a hard language for an Angliphone... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rei, NonnyO

 wrap their head around.

          Iceland looks like a beautiful country, harsh climate or none.  It certainly seems to be a more easygoing culture then we have here.  And the language is very interesting to hear spoken.  If you want the closest living relative to Old English, Icelandic is it.

          Also have been known to joke that the Vikings from How to Train Your Dragon had to have lived on Iceland, Scottish brogues or none.  (The nearby Dragon Island is an active volcano.  Not a whole lot of active volcanoes near Norway.  Or Scotland.  Though there are a couple!)

  •  I've read and enjoyed all your diaries about your (6+ / 0-)

    pending move and your experiences in Iceland.  The pictures are fantastic and I can  only imagine how it looks seeing it with one's own eyes.

    Keep up the writing so we can enjoy this along with you, and best wishes.

    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:59:07 AM PDT

  •  Just returned from a week in Iceland on Sunday... (9+ / 0-)

    And I can truthfully say that it's the most starkly beautiful country I've visited in my entire life.  It was a bad week for the aurora borealis due to the intermittent snow (and you're absolutely right, that's some crazy-quilt weather!) but we managed to see much of the eastern half of the country including a rainbow-clad Skogafoss, bring home some pebbles from the black lava-sand beach at Vik, stuff ourselves with the best seafood and chocolates I've ever had (and it appears that Icelanders love their sweets, as chocolate shops seemed to be all over Reykjavik, and open into the wee hours on weekends), and even inadvertently experience some Icelandic helpfulness and generosity when we got our rental car stuck in the snow on the side of the road outside Hveragerdi when we pulled over to gawk at said aurora :).  

    Iceland really does seem to have the best of all worlds in many ways despite their very limited agriculture and with much of the island being marginally inhabitable at best -  I'd love to have the opportunity to live and work over there for a while.  Alas, I don't think they have a huge call for community college biology instructors or bacteriologists, and while I'm bilingual French and can limp along in German, Icelandic is... intimidating :).

    Here's hoping your two months go buy quickly and that you have a joyful return to your new home come late spring - and on the topic of pools, I'll miss the neighborhood pool Vesturbaejarlaug, nothing fancy about the hot pots and steam room there but a very cozy and friendly place and an invigorating way for one to start or end one's day...


    •  Yeah, Versturbæjarlaug is just a little (6+ / 0-)

      one... but still, any sort of hot tubbing / steam rooming is always nice.  :)  One of my best laug experiences in Iceland was in the tiny spring-fed hot spas in Tálknafjörður... spent 1-2 hours in there during an unending summer sunset overlooking the fjörd, just soaking and chatting.  No fancy facilities, just hot water and nature.

  •  thank you for this, rei :-) (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Rei, ladybug53, foresterbob, NonnyO

    i dream of going to iceland
    even begged my bf to meet me there

    listening to some old sigur ros on my bike ride this afternoon

    always dreaming of iceland


    Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. -Helen Keller

    by ridemybike on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 03:14:17 PM PDT

  •  We went in 2006 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei, Tyto Alba, foresterbob, NonnyO

    and I am missing it even more after reading this diary. When I tell friends to go, they recoil in horror, as if it's some dark, barren place.

    Quite the opposite.

  •  Thanks, REI beautiful diary, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei, Tyto Alba, foresterbob, NonnyO

    very nice photos.  

    You're a good storyteller ::))

  •  Your description of your workplace (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei, Chun Yang, NonnyO

    sounds so ideal especially contrasted with the story of my friend who was just fired from a place he worked for 5 years (in SC). He is as loyal, hard working and smart an individual as any employer could want yet the management railroaded him out mercilessly, probably so they could find someone who they could pay less to. Employees are not appreciated in the US anymore but workers are like customers in that they are both volunteers in relationship to any company.

    Best of luck on your return to Iceland!

  •  Well, at least the trees back here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are the right height.

    Silvio Levy

  •  Actually..., I understand.... (0+ / 0-)

    There are certain photos of certain parts of the lands of my ancestors that can make me cry with feeling homesick.

    Not the sentimental pretty tear or two, but the full-blown homesick ugly-faced bawling!

    It's a weird reaction that comes on without any warning sometimes.

    Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as genetic memory....

    As always, I appreciate your posts, and I look forward to your next one!

    P.S.  Hooking up is okay.  Really.  I know it's not something generally done in the US..., at least not unless one lives in a large city where it's unlikely one will run across some of those same people again and again.  As a first-year Baby Boomer (I turned 66 last month), I would never have hooked up with anyone while I lived in a small town where everyone knew me, but in a big city no one knew the difference unless I chose to tell them.  In other words, if you ever do hook up, you don't need to tell anyone..., because, really, it's no one's business except your own.  :-)

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 09:57:47 PM PDT

    •  Yeah... but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      my past complicates things, even if I can get myself into that mindset of being with someone without emotion being involved.  :(  But I don't know... we'll see.

      •  It takes a year to get over a relationship... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO, Rei

        I read somewhere. It is akin to a death. So, take your time as you are emotionally fragile right now.

        Time heals all wounds they say. DKos member "Translator" is going through some sort of relationship trauma right now.

        Busy yourself with work because getting over an 11 year relationship will not happen over-nite.

        Best of Luck and keep looking forward.

        "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

        by Mr SeeMore on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:53:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ah..., I get it.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... now.

        Until I read Mr SeeMore mentioned the breakup is recent, I had forgotten you did say something about that before.  He's correct.  The break-up of a relationship is like a death.  Certainly, it's the ending of one phase of your life, and that takes a mourning period.

        I agree.  Right now, ANY kind of relationship would be difficult.

        Be gentle with yourself.  Take the time to mourn, put the past behind you.

        You're on the right track with learning a new language in your new land with new co-workers, a new job, new friends in a new social scene.  You can fully immerse yourself into all kinds of new experiences and making friends.  It will keep your mind occupied.  [My 'thing' for getting over a relationship was books, books, and more books.  Books have been my cure-all for many things, including any emotional upheavals in my life, getting me through mourning - death of people or death of relationships, whatever.]

        Anything more intimate (physically and/or emotionally) can wait until you're beyond sure you're ready for a more intimate relationship with someone.  Even after you're one hundred percent sure..., wait a bit until you're a thousand percent sure.  Then you'll be ready.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:22:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ever see a movie called "Cold Fever"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I loved it when I saw it back when it came out (about 1995). Directed by Fridrik Thor Fridrikson (actually, Fridrik contains a thorn and Thor contains an eth, but I'm too lazy to find the ASCII codes for them). Excellent movie.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:55:02 PM PDT

  •  Iceland (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If I could go back to Iceland I would. In my 20 years in the Air Force, 4 of them were in Iceland. I made some effort to understand the language. I found some vague similarities between old english and old norse. Well actually York may have been Yorvik.

    Unlike some stationed at Keflavik NAS, I found Iceland to be an adventure. Some of my compatriots married the natives and stayed. I even encountered a family who came from Alabama and settled near Reykjavik. Well, the mother was from Iceland, so they could stay.

    If only they needed someone familiar with IT hardware... well I still don't think I can say more, but one can dream. Geysir was fun, and Althing.

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