From the terrifying, vertiginous heights of a 60 meter waterfall, to the giddy delight of having scaled it afterward, to the dazed distraction of being in the midst of incomprehensible multinational conversations, and the woozy, weak-in-the-knees sensation of toppling into bed once the day is done…if asked to sum my time in Iceland up in one word, my reply would be: “dizzying”.
A week later after arriving home and having settled back in, the dizziness is just now subsiding and yet I am still feeling rather unsteady and out-of-place. A new friend summed it up rather eloquently, I think: “Repatriation can be a lot more shocking than expatriation, because we expect to feel comfortable, we expect things to be familiar, but everything is different. Not because everything has changed, but because *we* changed. Our frame of reference for the familiar has changed. “
All of this sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it? I don’t mean it to be. I’ve never fancied myself much of a traveler and I am finding that it rather takes some getting used to. I think when one travels one must learn to let go of schedules and learn to embrace the unexpected and these are usually both difficult lessons for me. This journey proved to be no different in that regard and yet I think, at some point I , just…let go. Gave up. Due to the fact I did not speak the language (I know maybe four words of Icelandic) I didn’t know what was going on around me 99% of the time anyway, so why not just let someone else make the plans and I’d just end up where ever I ended up. And it would be fine. “þetta reddast”, I heard repeated several times during the trip. “It will be ok. It will work itself out.” Þetta reddast.
Though I was in Reykjavík primarily for the wedding of my gentleman’s brother – which was a splendid affair at Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland - we did have time, in between visits with family (and there was a lot of family), to explore our own agenda. Which were chiefly pastries, penis museums, haunted houses, and more waterfalls.
kleina (fried doughnut) and hjónabandssæla (“happy marriage cake”)
2008 Icelandic handball team at the phallological museum
Höfði house. Haunted by a lady ghost, according to local legend.
random waterfall in Þingvellir
Because my guy and his family are originally from Iceland, there were many aunties and cousins still living there who had not seen them in a long time and who wanted to spend time catching up. There were long coffee hours with trays of hangikjöt (smoked lamb) or salmon sandwiches and delicate pancakes either rolled thin and sprinkled with sugar or stuffed fat and full of cream and jam. There was an evening of at least 40 relatives packed into an apartment for bowls of traditional kjötsúpa – a humble but fragrant and nourishing meat soup, usually made with lamb and earthy winter vegetables. I’ll scarcely mention the grilled minke whale, for those readers who may face ethical or philosophical dilemmas regarding this…very…delicious issue. And then, there was an afternoon in the town of Akranes where I was invited for a meal of the most delicious fish and chips that I have ever had in my life.
Boat graveyard at Akranes
Akranes is a charming little fishing town, but there is a wee dodgy strip which could be mistaken for Innsmouth on a gloomy, grey afternoon. Though apparently the ninth most populous town in Iceland, Akranes seemed small and rather isolated to me. We were taken on a little tour of the town, which included the boat and town history museum, as well as, the lighthouse – which was an unexpected and wonderful surprise for me, as Amiina, a lovely, unique group of musicians whose works I stumbled across recently and who sound like the dreamiest, tinkling music box, had recorded at this lighthouse in the past few years. I was delighted to see that the lighthouse, though small, also hosted exhibits of the poetic or artistic variety from time to time. Before leaving I was gifted with a knit version of a traditional hat, hand made by a very generous auntie.
Old Man Houlihan at the Akranes boat museum. He would have gotten away with it – if not for those meddling kids.
Little lighthouse at Akranes (viewed from top of big lighthouse)
By Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir. Exhibit at the Akranes lighthouse.
Lovely knit hat based on a traditional costume
In addition to the town of Akranes, another one of my favorite places was Árbæjarsafn, which is the historical museum of the city of Reykjavík as well as an open air museum and a regional museum. Unfortunately, we put this visit off until the last minute, on the weekend – during which time it is not open. Technically. We were still able to walk around and look at the houses, but we were not able to go into them or explore them. Nonetheless, we still spent about two hours walking around and marveling at the simple beauty of the structures.
Old houses at Árbæjarsfni
Old houses at Árbæjarsafni
Vestry at Árbæjarsafni
I was very lucky to experience Iceland from a unique perspective – though I did many of the tourist-y things (I ate hotdogs from every stand in the city for pete’s sake; I took a photo of this guy), I also spent a great deal of time with the people who actually live there and got to see things from a native’s perspective, as well. Which included many home-made meals, I might add, and in a city as expensive as Reykjavík, that’s really a lovely blessing.
A few tips, if you are thinking of traveling to Iceland:
- Bring layers! I traveled during the end of August (which is like a relentless hellscape in Florida) but the weather I encountered in Iceland was in the 40s and 50s and drizzly. Cold and rainy. Tee shirts and light sweaters and light jackets are best for hopping between coffee houses on a chilly day downtown, I think.
- A sturdy pair of water proof boots is essential if you are going to be visiting the waterfalls or doing a bit of hiking. I purchased a pair from LL Bean and they are marvelous. I highly recommend them.
- Try to check out the happy hours for restaurants. They are all so very expensive, so take advantage of deals where you can find them.
- Go to Café Babalú, have a cappucino and check out their Star Wars themed bathroom, visit the The Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden, stop by the Reykjavík Botanical Gardens, people watch at Kringlan, eat Skyr with blueberry jam every morning, marvel at how everywhere, even at the grocery store, you can find yarn.
And be reminded of why we go away. (says Terry Pratchett) “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
I am glad I am no longer the same person who would have never left. Though now I feel I am not actually the same person who did leave, either. It’s all so confusing! Perhaps I’d better start planning another trip and see what happens.
When I was very young I had the opportunity to visit an antique dollhouse exhibit while visiting my grandparents one summer. I was captivated by the minute, gorgeous, meticulously rendered details -intricate lace curtains framing the tiny windows and opulent velvet upholsteries covering the miniature settees and sofas – I longed to sneak my little finger behind the glass casing to touch these beautiful, delicate things, to feel what the little inhabitants of such a place might feel if they were to touch these things as well. The sumptuous fabrics of the gowns gracing the runway at Tadashi Shoji’s show at NYFW remind me somehow of those moments of longing to touch something very fine. Inspired by the Golden Palace of Venice, the various pieces are a glowing palette of roses and periwinkles and golds (not always my favorite thing) but the soft, simple silhouettes present such a dreamy vision that I can forgive the pastels. And capes. Capes make everything 100 times more elegant and fancy.
See below for a few of my personal favorites. And if nothing else just play the video above for the lovely score/soundtrack (whatever you call music playing in the background during a runway show.) It’s really very elegant and ethereal, even when it picks up the beat. If anyone can share with me who the musicians are, I would be forever grateful!
I have been away and come back and somehow I don’t quite feel myself anymore. Whether I left a piece of myself on another continent or I returned with an added bit of something or other, I couldn’t tell you. It’s an unsettling feeling and I haven’t sorted it out yet.
Until such time as I jot down my thoughts, impressions and various ramblings on the experience, please have some music.
Apparently you can customize the embroidery on the back of your shoe on the new balance site - how cool is that? I kept mine simple as it appears that “Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” just won’t fit in the space allotted. Drat.
Notice too, the all-black-all-the-time design – perfect for midnight cemetery runs and nimbly slipping between dark dimensions undetected!
Wondering how to style these blacker than black and quite frankly otherwise quite boring sneakers? You weren’t? Because black goes with everything? Fair enough. But here’s an idea for you.
“POLITE AS FUCK” tee from buymebrunch // SHOCK ABSORBER Ultimate Run mesh and stretch-jersey sports bra // TEK Gear Elements Hiking Capris // The 7 Wonders American Horror Story tote // Naked Eye Beauty for Sisters of the Black Moon lip balm
*Socks were via amazon and are out of stock and GO GREEN is, I believe, discontinued. Use your imagination re: goofy socks and fresh smelling post-workout body sprays. You’ll do fine.
Friday night and the gang’s all here
It’s not exactly as if I am some sort of social butterfly, flitting busily from one charming engagement to the next. I’m really not that at all. I’m the anti-social, hermit….whatever the exact opposite of a butterfly is. Maybe sloth. I am the anti-social sloth.
At most I will head into the next town once or twice a month to visit with friends and family, and to be honest, I am most of the time actually enjoying myself doing these things, spending time with these people. And yet even this is too much and it feels imperative that I shut myself away from the world every once in a while. I don’t quite know why this is, but I suspect that sometimes even the thought of spending time around other humans is exhausting for me…especially on the weekend when I should be free to spend it however I like. So even if I haven’t had a friendly lunch or a bookclub date or a party (eeek! ugh.) on the calendar for a while, it’s almost like I need to proactively mentally prepare for the possibility.
To begin, I set aside a weekend during the month, preferably one when I am going to be all alone. As I live with a significant other, this is a rare occurrence. During this time I make no plans. No anything that involves me walking out my front door. A Fuck Off, World! weekend is all about the comforts of one’s own home. I make sure that the house is well stocked with grocery items because if I don’t even want to visit with my sister, you can be damned sure I don’t want to talk to a cashier for a market transaction as it relates to a dozen eggs or coffee or whatever. 99% of the time I won’t even answer my phone because what part of No Human Interaction and Fuck Off, World don’t you understand, for god’s sake?
This is serious business.
Your perfect FOW!W may vary from mine, of course, but I think there are some key elements that are pretty much the same across the board.
- It must involve some form of entertainment. Probably a few movies. Perhaps there are some films you’ve been waiting to watch on your own as you know you cannot talk your boyfriend into watching another artsy horror film because when he walked in on you watching Possession he was nearly scarred for life. Although really, what a grown woman and the writhing, pustulous grotesquerie to whom she gave birth do in an abandoned building on a filthy bed is their own business and who are we to judge, right? Anyway, so films. For this particular weekend I am thinking Livide, Santa Sangre and Next Door.
- Puttering. Pick up a book, put it down. Start to fold laundry, get distracted. Make half the bed, remember you put the kettle on, pick up that same book again. Finish knitting a sock. Try to take a nap, but become hypnotized by the shadow of the rosebush against the curtain. If you’ve puttered properly, by the end of the day you will have accomplished absolutely nothing.
- Meals must be the trashiest things you can think of, something you would be utterly motified to have anywhere near your face hole in polite company. In ghost or alien company. In any company at all. It must be a transcendent combination and disgusting and delicious and you must eat it during this sacred time alone.
Actually, that’s about it. Less is more when it comes to a perfect FOW!W. And with that, I am signing off. And you, you can fuck off. Until Monday, and then we’re all friends again.
Folks who know me are most likely familiar with a project that I have been working on for the past two years now - Skeletor Is Love: “Skeletor is experiencing the profound emptiness and isolation of human existence” and he is journeying “toward positive mental health through daily affirmations.” I created several social media accounts for this and for almost a year I updated it daily, but then began to slow it down about 8 months ago. Though it met with great success, this type of thing isn’t really meant to go on forever, you know?
I don’t own Skeletor and I technically never had permission to work with the character in the first place, but I figured since it was considered parody and my project was not for profit, it didn’t really matter. I had fun with it, it helped people, and I was not trying to make any money off of it, so I figured the “powers that be” probably wouldn’t take issue with it. And they never did. However, a recent incident in which I became aware that a popular chain store was carrying a tee shirt eerily similar to something I had created left me feeling rather out of sorts and frankly kind of grossed out by the whole thing. I had no recourse because it wasn’t my character and I had no permissions in place – also, it’s not like I was making any money off of the project, so it’s not like anyone was taking money out of my pocket. At the end of the day the only thing to do was to get over it.
And I suppose I am….but not just with regard to that situation. I think I am “over it” in a broader sense, as well. I always told myself that when I stop having fun doing the whole Skeletor is Love thing – then that’s it, it’s over. In the past few weeks I’ve found myself even dreading to think about it, never mind sitting down and create something new, so I realized it was time to call it a day and go out gracefully before I start getting resentful and bitter about it.
It was great fun while it lasted, I met some amazing people and learned quite a bit. I am grateful for the experience and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement and love that came from not just friends and family, but from complete strangers as well. I think I can say without a doubt, it was truly a life changing journey. And now that particular journey has come to an end.
A new mix for graves you never meant to dig.
Track list: The Places You Walk, Jex Thoth | Mescaline II, Mount Salem | City of Light, The Atlas Moth | Feverdance, The Devil’s Blood | More Cruel Than Weak, Skeletonwitch | Drown, Royal Thunder | All Must Die, The Oath | Dig Your Fingers In, Esben and the Witch | Ghost Riders, Jess and the Ancient Ones | Let It Come Down, Blood Ceremony | The Usher, Sub Rosa | Raise the Sun, Anciients | Celestial Effigy, Agalloch | From the Zodiacal Light, Earth
When I was younger, I would tear through a book in a matter of hours. I would demolish a stack of library books in the span of a few afternoons. My favorite time of year was grade school summer vacation, during which time I would banish myself to the screened porch; hunched on the sweaty patio furniture, I would gulp glass after glass of my mother’s weak iced tea and slip into the pages of Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, HP Lovecraft, Dean Koontz (I didn’t really discriminate at that age). I thoroughly immersed myself in these lurid, awful tales of monsters and madmen and supernatural goings-on and oftentimes would spend upwards of 8 hours out in the heat, completely lost to the world.
Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older, I am much more easily distracted (or is it that there are more things to become distracted by? Hm.) and it takes me much longer to read through a horrid novel. Where I once left the library with no less than a dozen books, I now exit the building with with two or three of them lumped uneasily at the bottom of a mostly empty tote bag -I fear they know as well as I that any more than one book at a time now is wishful thinking.
The past few years had been especially bad for this; with upheaval comes a distinct lack of focus, and I am sure that I grew weary of or bored with 50% of the books I’d attempted reading. This year I was determined to begin making up for lost time. It is almost August now, and I am fairly certain that I have read more in 2014 than I have in the last ten years.
Doctor Sleep | The Ocean At The End Of The Lane | American Vampire, Volume 1 | Garlic and Sapphires | Pretty Little Liars 1 (don’t judge me!) | Comfort Me With Apples | Tender At The Bone | Pretty Little Liars 2: Flawless | The Shining Girls
Angelica | Heart Shaped Box | White Is For Witching | The Imago Sequence and Other Stories | The Asylum | American Vampire, Vol. 2
NOS4A2 | Boneshaker | The Goldfinch
Red Shirts | Wild Fell
The Unseen | The Ghostwriter
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All | Horns | The Tenant | The Small Hand | Sex Criminals Volume 1 | Morning Glories Volume 1
Carrion Comfort | Morning Glories Volume 2-7
The standouts for me so far have been The Goldfinch, Horns, and Sex Criminals, but more than that I have just enjoyed the magic of burying myself in a book again, of being breathlessly caught up in someone else’s story, and yes – even the tinge of regret and disappointment once the tale has been told and the last page has been turned.
Next on the reading list: Penpal by Dathan Auerbach and The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Millar. And I am very much looking forward to The Children of the Old Leech (a Laird Barron tribute!), Burnt Black Suns, and The Lord Came At Twilight.
What is stacked on your bedside table for an evening read? What stories are you most looking forward to immersing yourself in? Do tell! There’s so many empty shelves that need filling in my Library of Probable Books…
A new mix to fill the unsettling silences immediately following violent Sunday summer thunderstorms.
Track list: Skin Song, Bat for Lashes | Letter to New York, johanna glaza | ‘Hushabye’ ,Jennifer Left | The Curse (Album Version), Agnes Obel | ‘elemental finding’, tara jane o’neil | The Flow, Melanie De Biasio | Earthrise, Musk Ox | Forgiven, Lizabett Russo | Mirel Wagner, “Oak Tree” | Aether, CN Lester | Northeast Kingdom, Sarah Winchester | Drift, Maggie Rogers | Please Just Stay Dead, Nicole Dollanganger | Defiled Corpse, The Folks Below
Goths at the Gym. Photography: Matías Uris Rey
I am a woman who likes her ghost stories and her soft core lady vampire movies and her occasional Viking metal or haunted cathedral music. I’ll give up my black clothes when they can find me a darker color. I dislike activities that involve sunlight and the possibility of other humans looking at me. I can’t muster much enthusiasm for anything that makes me sweat or restricts my indulgences. I am not peppy.
Diet and fitness blogs don’t seem to exist for people like me. And yet, I think, people like me are inevitably the sort of black-hearted, lazy folk who might find themselves in need of such resources. But not the cheery RAH-RAH-RAH sort of diet/fitness/weight loss blog that seem to be de rigueur in certain circles, filled with clichéd claptrap encouraging you to love moving your bod! and nourish your soul! and blah, blah, baloney forever. I need my motivation served subtle (you almost have to trick me into it) with a soupçon of snark and a sizeable side of spooky. I’ve tried googling “goth weight loss blogs/goth fitness blogs” and I know I made mention in a previous post of a BLACK METAL DIET blog – but neither of those adequately describe what I am looking for. I am not, nor have I ever been all that gothy. I listened to Iron Maiden in high school for pete’s sake, and if I recall there was a distinct rivalry between folks who listened to Iron Maiden and Slayer and those who listened to The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. So 20 years later I feel like calling myself a goth would be some sort of betrayal to Bruce Dickinson.
So I guess I am sort of weird and I don’t quite fit in anywhere. And that’s the direction I’ve decided to take with this. Every once in a while, when I decide to get chatty about my progress, I’ll be using the “weight loss for weirdos” tag. I would say “you have been warned” but you’re here anyway so you may as well read it.
SO, I am going to share two of my WEIGHT LOSS FOR WEIRDOS tips with you this evening.
1. Bedtime Yoga + MORTIIS
There is nothing, NOTHING so important as bedtime and a sound sleep and 8+ hours of epic dreams. Before tucking in for the evening, I turn off the lights, turn down the bed and do maybe 5-7 minutes of bed time yoga right on my mattress (you can find some poses here and here, I personally like the goddess pose and the spinal twist). I am cranky and irritable if I have a difficult time falling asleep, but I have found that since starting this, routine? regimen? I am usually asleep within 10-15 minutes. Bonus points: Mortiis’ Fodt Til Å Herske album is perfect to have playing in the background while you are stretching and slipping into sleep. Nocturnal dungeon/crypt sounds, when even the tortured spirits are at rest.
2. Something that you look forward to wearing when you are exercising.
I realize that might sound kind of silly and it’s not like I put a lot of thought into my appearance when I am venturing forth to sweat for an hour in 100 degree weather. But there’s something about looking down at this particular shirt when I am exercising that makes me cackle. And I love that. It makes the time spent working out seem a tiny bit less dreadful.
Cat magic tee shirt by killercondoapparel on etsy