Free Water Bottles: A Tragedy in 3 Acts

Hello! I have not forgotten about you! A terrible thing happened to me last week. It starts with a free water bottle and ends with writing this blog in the university computer lab on an Icelandic keyboard. Any guesses? Follow up, any guesses on where the question mark is on this spaceship keyboard? Because it took me a full minute to find.

Anyway, here’s what happened.

I went to a bookstore with a friend to buy some textbooks. When we checked out, they gave me a free water bottle. I do not know why, since they were all speaking Icelandic, but since I lost my water bottle somewhere between my hotel and the SeaTac airport, I did not ask questions. End Act I.

Later, at home, I was diligently working on homework with my computer in front of me and I knocked over the devil water bottle and spilled some water on my computer. It was not serious, the computer did not sputter and die, but the keyboard was being weird (not as weird as this Icelandic keyboard wherein I have to hold shift to get a freaking apostrophe which explains the lack of conjunctions and possessive nouns previously and to come) so I took it to the computer hospital. End Act II.

After paying an exorbitant fee to expedite the process, the computer doctors told me they had to order a new part and it would be done by Tuesday or Wednesday. Then it got pushed back to Thursday or Friday, and now they texted me saying it will be ready Monday or Tuesday. So long story short, I will never see my computer again.

End Act III.

So that is the story of why I am writing to you from a computer lab on a keyboard that is just familiar enough to be comfortable, but fucks you up at the most unexpected turns.

Last weekend I went on a trip to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon in the southeast of Iceland. I had hoped to write that blog three days ago, but instead I will write and publish it as soon as I can upload the pictures from my camera. In the meantime, I wanted to recount some of my more “mundane” (as if anything in Iceland deserves the term) experiences.

The smile caused by seeing seals = not mundane.

Tuesday night was a big one for me because I performed my first stand up set at an open mic night with Goldengang Comedy at the Græna Herbergið (Green Room) in Reykjavik. A couple of really great and supportive friends came to watch, I did not bomb, and I found out how broken I am when they called “Rahclhfpm Shklorkhrmft” and I recognized it as my name. Anyway, I had a great time (even though I forgot to do my Canadian joke) and will hopefully be doing a lot more sets before I go back to the States in May. This is particularly good news since I forgot to ask someone to record my set, which I know is a huge letdown for all my fans (read: my mom).

Wednesday, in my course called Language & Humor, we watched Key & Peele sketches for like 20 minutes in the name of education. When I was asked by City Councilman Herring how Iceland is real, I told him the truth: I have been asking that since I got here.

Really though, Iceland is so weird. It is like no place else on earth. And yeah, I know everyone says that and technically every place is like no place else on earth, but Iceland is just weird. They are extraordinarily bad at moving in crowds because they are so used to being spread out across the island (or so I am told). It is illuminating to see what kinds of things they laugh at, and also comforting because it is a lot of the same stuff I laugh at, and when you laugh at some of the things I laugh at it is really encouraging to know that you are not a freak– or if you are, there are at least others out there like you. So yeah, it is weird as heck, but I like it.

On Thursday, my Anthropology of Art class went on a field trip to the Culture House. You may remember that I dragged a group of exchange students there to see an illuminated manuscript, but this was a much more focused and educational visit. I, however, was very tired due to events disclosed below, so I honestly did not get as much out of the experience as I probably should have. My snapchat story did though.

Wednesday night, I went to a beach with a couple of friends because we were told that the Northern Lights would be highly visible. We were lied to. It was not a total waste of an evening though; we saw a lighthouse, heard a riddle so terrible we almost committed murder, and witnessed a dog walking itself on a leash. But it was much past my bedtime by the time I got home, which is why I was so tired at the museum.

NO, I am not going to tell you the riddle. It does not deserve the infamy and you do not deserve to suffer.

Thursday night, they made the same claims re: Aurora Borealis. We were more suspicious now, having already been betrayed once by the Northern Lights forecast, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. It was very cloudy and our expectations were low, but we kept waiting since we had all made some pretty serious threats against ourselves, each other, and Iceland should the lights not be visible.

photo cred: Meerit Kolu

Eventually, some auroras showed up, but they were very faint and not enough to keep certain members of the group interested. We had one defector and several impatient outbursts.


The auroras did get stronger, but I have no pictures at the moment to show. The ones I took turned out terribly and also I have no computer to which to upload them, but as soon as a friend of mine much more capable of operating cameras uploads his photos I will share them.

The Northern Lights were stunning. It was not what I had imagined, and I imagine I will probably see some brighter ones over the coming months, but they are mesmerizing. There is nothing I have seen that compares. They defy conventional states of matter: I know what I was looking at was only light, but they occupy the sky so purposefully and move with the kind of intention and fluidity that it is hard to believe you could not reach out and touch them. Maybe they would break like a fine mist around your fingers, but for a moment you might feel a prickle of intense cold or extreme heat as it dissolved.

A discussion was had about what kind of sound the Northern Lights would make if they made sounds. Suggestions ranged across the entire universe of sounds known to mankind, but perhaps we will never know the truth.

End the longest freaking epilogue known to man.


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