On Being a Fianceé

I like to think I’m okay at this. Let me tell you some short stories about engaged life.

The Proposal

I didn’t know he was going to ask me on December 1st, 2018. I knew I was hungry, and galavanting onto the seawall at Children’s Pool in La Jolla was not my first choice in activity. But we walked to the end, he handed off his phone to a stranger for photos, and then he managed not to drop the ring into the sea and asked if I wanted to be his wife. Of course, I said yes.

What I didn’t do was clasp my hands over my mouth and say, “Oh my God!!” What I did do was hold my purse awkwardly and wonder, “What do I do with my hands?”

All of our engagement photos prominently feature a big, teal bag, consequently. Oh well. I wasn’t about to let it get swept off to sea by a freak wave.

The Party

“How did you choose your wedding date?”

We worked around peak salmon season and my busy season. We also did not choose winter because I don’t particularly care for the cold. We also eliminated the times of year where Daly travels for seafood expos.

That left us approximately two weekends to choose from in March and April, and one of them was Easter, so… there you go.

Venue hunting was just as methodical. We researched a number of venues in Seattle, Chelan, and Leavenworth. We contacted many of them and started to set our tour plans.

Ultimately, we toured two, one of which was experiencing a power outage, and the other which was simply exactly what we wanted.

The Expo

Here are the take-aways from the bridal expo:

  • Free donuts
  • Free cake
  • Some good deals if you’re ready — we got our DJ and MC signed that day
  • A relentless set of follow-up phone calls from some tour company that seems just a bit off

I will 100% go back for more donuts next January.

The Dress

I found my dress at a sample sale. I almost didn’t go–it was early, I had no gas in my car, and the shop was in Seattle proper. But I did go, and I was bride #13 in line to try on dresses. I grabbed three or four dresses off the racks, only paying attention to material and sparkle–not really much else.

I made some light conversation with the woman in line ahead of me; she was there only with her future father-in-law. I was there by myself, and we chatted about all things wedding. When it was her turn, she asked if I wanted to try on dresses with her, since the line was long and our respective parties were small.

Dress #2 was it, her FIL agreed, she agreed, the attendant agreed, the shop agreed, I agreed.

Cha-ching.

Side note: He doesn’t have a suit yet, and my dress is too long and will cost my first-born and a bag of chips to alter, but it’s all going to work out.

The Weight

Currently walking around at 60kg with a broken hand. I’d like to cut weight to 56-57kg once my hand is healed properly.

Why 56-57kg?

  1. That puts me comfortably in the 59kg weight class, and within a water cut of the 55kg weight class.
  2. Weightlifting is priority here.
  3. The camera definitely likes to add weight to my face.

I have it on my checklist to cut from November through end of January. Doable.

In the meantime, I’m seeing how many shrimp chips is too many.

Other Stuff

We are more than halfway through our 16-month engagement, and we’ve got a good deal of the foundation in place, which feels good.

r/weddingplanning has been my forum of choice, and it’s been helpful to get other perspectives and advice throughout.

All in all, even though I play it down a bit, I’m very much looking forward to our wedding day and our marriage.

Oh! I nearly forgot…

Chivari Chairs and Shoes

I’ve only had slight meltdowns over these two things.

Chivari chairs: I spent at least two hours researching how much those buggers cost before I remembered that I literally can’t recall a single chair I’ve ever sat in at a wedding reception. The money we save on chairs will go to a photo booth, you’re so very welcome.

Shoes: I bought a pair of gold heels, then decided to get gold wedges instead but also keep the heels because they were cute. I revisited the shoes months later and realized they are actually way smaller than I had convinced myself, and thus, worthless. So down another rabbit hole I went, until I found a pair of lace heel booties. I had to order them in a half-size bigger than normal, but I guess they run small, so what do you know–they actually fit me.

Now comes the part where I buy all the gel inserts to doctor them up.

Anyway, like I was saying, very much looking forward to it all, even though I’m going to be doubting my choice to forgo the Chivari chairs.

*shakes fist*

Okay, friends. Good night.

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Hello, Old Friend.

IT LIVES.

 

In fact, it’s doing quite well.

I’m not sure what this block editor is all about, but hey, it’s been almost two years between posts, so why not try it out?

I’m stopping by because I have a lot on my mind lately and needed to write something down:

  • We bought a house and finally get keys today after a sixty-day rent-back period by the sellers.
  • It’s gray and rainy out.
  • Weightlifting is still fun but I need to do more cardio for my hEaRt HeALtH
  • What kind of snacks do brides pack on their wedding day? (We’re engaged and getting married in April, and there’s just a lot that I don’t know about throwing a wedding.)

Today, I’m mostly wondering about snacks. I guess I should think about bringing along some Epic Bars and Hi-Chews, some sparkling water, maybe some Cheez-Its.

Either way, I bought a tote bag that says “Bride” on it, so of course my inclination is to fill it with snacks. More to come…

Routinely

I haven’t gone.

I used to tend to this blog regularly, making time to write and record my thoughts and musings several times a week. Without too much hesitation, I let you all in on my vulnerability, shortcomings, and loneliness; my excitement, achievements, and humor; and sometimes, just my nonsense.

Then I decided to put my energy elsewhere. I moved, I changed jobs, I met someone, I traveled, I adjusted my workout priorities, I traveled some more–in other words, life happened, and I had more time to spend being present rather than being reflective.

I miss writing, and it still feels good to put things down in written words, but things are good. They aren’t perfect. There are still days where I stress about what to do with my life, but as my colleague said yesterday, maybe the question I should be asking is, “What’s next?”

My life has been anything but linear and predictable. I still stress about uncertainty and the future, but that’s who I am. I still lament about being athletically talentless, but I’m having a fine time working on my weaknesses.

Also, I love my partner very much, but I leave my disastrous dating stories up here if only to serve as a reference for others who might be feeling the way I once did. Maybe it will help someone, after all.

I leave my projects and artifacts here to showcase where I came from as a graduate student and as a professional. I currently do not work in higher education, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m able to research, analyze, compose, and assess.

I still dream of traveling, and I’m sure I’ll still recollect my journeys in one way or another–through writing or photos on various platforms. There’s so much to see and do still.

This all makes it sound like I’m closing down the blog. It’s not going anywhere, but I might, and I might not record it here. I’m not sure what’s next for my personal record-keeping. Maybe it’s just a layout change; maybe it’s a new site. We’ll just wait and see.

In the meantime, don’t wait up for me. There’s a world out there to explore.

 

Fire and Ice

Before I begin, I should remind you that I am not a travel lifestyle blogger. I typically blog as I would compose a diary, to remind myself of where I was and what I experienced. This is going to be a long post because I want to capture the details that matter to me, and not boil down my travels to a perfectly-manicured and concise article on the time I went to Iceland. So, reader, you’ve been warned…

***

There are people out there that say there is a particular sadness in leaving an immersive trip, the sadness that the incredible journey is now just a memory on its way to becoming a story.

I returned to Seattle after spending a week in Reykjavík, Iceland at the beginning of December 2015. The worst part about visiting Iceland is how badly it makes me want to go back now, so as not to let it become just something I remember. I suppose that delaying the completion of this post is my one way of pretending it isn’t over, but time has a way of slipping by regardless.

Everything I knew about Iceland made it seem like a fairy tale; although I had heard about the Northern Lights, the architecture, and the quaint feel of the only large city many times over, it was too fantastical to be believed. I had to see it for myself, and arriving in Iceland, it was truly like I had traveled somewhere other-worldly. It’s part of my story now–and I can recall the trip itself, still fresh like the snow we trudged through to and from the city each day.

Sunday, November 29th

John and I packed for most of that Saturday, when he insisted on bringing a laser pointer for no reason other than, “It’ll be fun.” On Sunday morning, we both went to the gym for one last WOD, then cleaned up and started loading my car.

Ari and B met us at noon, and we hauled away to Sea-Tac where John’s coworker let us park the car. She drove us to the airport, we checked in, and we sent all of our bags away; two free checked bags is a very comfortable policy, it turns out. Thanks, Icelandair!

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With parkas on and only our purses and small backpacks, we passed through security and on to our terminal. We grabbed a bite to eat and awaited our plane. I chatted with my mother on the phone, keeping an eye on the impatient crowd at the gate. Eventually, there was movement, and we all boarded the Boeing 757.

Once snugly in our seats, we settled in for the seven-hour ride. John and I had been moved to exit row seats, so our leg room was ample and the tray tables quite awkward. We set our watches eight hours ahead, took off through some low-lying Seattle clouds, then turned northeast and climbed on towards Canada. The sun was already low in the sky, and we spied pink snow-capped mountains out the window before the night sky took over.

With not too much to see, I split a snack with John and had some water before trying to snooze as much as possible. The woman on my other side was part of a group of three or four, traveling to Iceland for some kind of celebration; I never discerned what their reason was, although they were planning to spend time both in the city and somewhere outside of it. She ordered two mini bottles of wine, so I figured perhaps she was celebrating a birthday as well.

Spotify offline playlists kept me calm and soothed, and when my phone read “5:00AM,” I woke up and watched some of the in-flight offerings until we landed.

Monday, November 30th

The Seattle flight left at 3:45PM Pacific Time, which meant a 6:55AM Monday arrival. Once on the ground at Keflavík Airport, I marveled at the fact that I was on Icelandic soil for the first time; it was a wish come true.

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Customs was a quick process, as we were one of only a few arrivals at that dark, early hour, and after collecting our bags, we did some duty-free shopping. The thing to keep in mind about Iceland is that the liquor is expensive, but that it’s quite reasonable at the duty-free store. We grabbed a few choice bottles, including some Brennivin, along with some Garún Icelandic Stout NR.19 (Borg Brugghús), Einstök Toasted Porter, and an obscene amount of Viking Gylltur.

After shopping, it was time for juice and a snack, killing time before our 8:30AM shuttle to the Blue Lagoon. The freshness of the smoothie was much-needed after a long plane ride. However, what was even more needed came next.

The Blue Lagoon excursion immediately following arrival was one of our best ideas. Blue Lagoon is a major tourist destination, although one a traveler cannot miss; all my worldly friends stand by this, tourist trap and all. They make it so tourist-friendly anyway, it’s hard to say no.

Our shuttle bus driver stashed our luggage in the cargo hold, then drove us through the pitch black dark about 12km from the airport. We transferred our luggage to the bag storage at the end of the parking lot, where our group of three busses–ours only had about six people on it–parked; no other visitors had yet arrived, making our arrival seem even more special. We stopped in front of the Blue Lagoon sign to take a few celebratory selfies and sips of liquor, reveling in the cool winter air and the pre-dawn hush. Perfect snowflakes blanketed the ground and muted all the background noise, so it was just the trudging of our boots and our lowered voices in the air.

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We had pre-booked our visit, so once we reached the main building, we got in line and got squared away with our wristbands before heading to the luxurious locker rooms. Again, with relatively few visitors at the Lagoon, it was relaxed and peaceful. I remember the locker rooms being the perfect temperature, both in the air and beneath my feet. I changed into my favorite swimsuit and commented to Ari about how flattering the lighting and mirrors were; I actually looked like I work out as hard as I do! An added bonus to an already great experience.

Many people warn tourists about the showering process, where one must strip down before entering the Lagoon. No one mentioned the fact that there were single shower stalls in addition to the common shower. With no rush, there were plenty of single showers open. Spotting an open stall, I took it, and I relished the warm water and soap; after all, I had been on a plane all night. I made sure to load my hair with conditioner to stave off the minerals, then put my swimsuit back on and wandered out into the frigid morning.

To say my feet were then cold was not giving Iceland its due credit. The air was freezing, and the walkway surface was not much warmer. It behooved us to hang our towels as quickly as possible in order to get into the milky blue pool before turning into human icicles.

With dawn breaking and steam rising off the surface of the water, I couldn’t help but want to hurry on in, though. The Lagoon was heated to a comfortably hot temperature, somewhere between 98-104 degrees Fahrenheit, and again, after a seven-hour plane ride, it was just what I needed. We slowly ventured to the outer reaches of the Lagoon, with our visibility obscured by the thick steam and low light; thankfully, I didn’t fall into any unexpected deep spots (something you expect when you’re 5’1″).

Since it was a birthday celebration trip and all, our next order of business was to procure champagne, so off to the bar we went. In all actuality, this meant finding the stairs closest to the bar, dashing inside, dripping all over the floor whilst apologizing for doing such, and then ordering our drinks of choice. We were rung up with a swipe of the wristband, and back into the warm waters we went. (Luckily, for our next round, the swim-up bar was open; no more mad dashes for a beverage.)

We spent the next few hours wandering in the water, sitting in the steam rooms, and lounging in the jacuzzi areas. The water had a sort of soft quality to it, and only in the steam rooms did I ever sweat.

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Eventually, it was time to leave, so we reversed the process: showered, dried off, dressed, paid, ate lunch, retrieved our bags (and beer), and waited for the shuttle to the city.

We eventually made it to our Airbnb apartment, after transferring to a mini-bus due to the snow. The apartment’s “on-site manager” (so to speak) met us, let us in, and gave us essential pointers for our stay. We unpacked, freshened up, and were ready to see the city by foot. Icelandic fish ‘n’ chips were on the menu for dinner that night, so we were able to cross off one item on John’s “must do” list. Please note that we visited Reykjavik Fish Restaurant to get our fish ‘n’ chips; our friends had advised that they once tried to find fish ‘n’ chips in town and had ended up at a joint that had “fish ‘n’ chips” in the name, but alas, no actual fish ‘n’ chips. Reykjavik Fish, however, had a chalkboard with its offerings, and their hearty fish ‘n’ chips were just what we needed.

In addition to dinner, we took in the sights of a Christmasy-looking Reykjavik and wandered through a snow-covered cemetery before calling it a night and doing our best to ward off the jet lag.

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Tuesday, Dec. 1st

A winter storm rolled in on Tuesday, bringing lots of snow to the area. “Lots of snow” is an understatement, but I don’t have a much better way to quantify it. We took our time, after sleeping in, to bundle up and seek out the famous Sægreifinn lobster soup.

Let me tell you about lobster soup in the most succinct way possible: it’s incredible.

Warm, flavorful, perfectly salted, and rejuvenating, lobster soup became an instant favorite of mine. The menu at Sægreifinn is also wonderfully straight-forward: there’s the soup, fresh seafood skewers, and beverages–alcoholic and non–to choose from.

We warmed up at Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron), enjoying our soup and complimentary bread, as well as enjoying being out of the wind and snow. It was a good day for cozying up in coffee shops and bars–which is considered one of the best tourist activities when in Iceland–and generally just seeing all the city had to offer.

lobster_n

We spent a good deal of time at the Culture House, a part of the National Museum of Iceland, where the exhibition Points of View was being housed. This was another good way to learn more about the country we were in, taking in art and history from centuries ago through the present. While we were in the building, I distinctly remember seeing large, fluffy clumps of snow falling past some of the windows. The relative quiet and stillness of the Culture House–along with the picturesque snowfall–was peaceful, a nice departure from the hustle of “real life.”

Other places of interest on this snowy day included Lebowski Bar and a book shop. White Russians and books, what could go wrong? We eventually wound up back at the house after trudging along through most of Reykjavik.

cold group_n

(PS – I visited Lebowski Bar’s page in February, and I noticed that they were offering free bacon on all burgers for Valentine’s Day. First of all, that’s quite the way to celebrate; second of all, had I known about this sooner, I would have definitely pushed for a return visit slash date night.)

Wednesday, Dec. 2nd

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The morning was clear after the previous day’s winter storm, and after starting our day, we walked down to the Harpa Concert Hall to pick up tickets for a Sin Fang show later that night. We arrived at Harpa at just the right time, as the sun was high enough in the sky to throw some beautiful colors into the surroundings.

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Shortly thereafter, dark clouds, heavy with precipitation, rolled in, but instead of rain, they brought more snow. We wound up at Kex Hostel and Bar, where the restaurant/bar provided us with unnecessary amounts of delicious food: a spicy burger, salmon and kale, fresh sausages, and a simple yet much-needed green salad.

Later that evening, we went back to Harpa and watched the show. We were in one of the small auditoriums, looking down on the group. All the songs were in English, and all of the filler between songs was in Icelandic. This made for a pretty mellow experience for us. We didn’t understand any of the punchlines to the jokes, but we laughed along anyway. Young Boys was the subject of some kind of joke about it being a “gay anthem.” It’s fairly obvious upon listening to see how that could be; the song itself is one of my favorites now, and I encourage you to take a listen.

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After the concert, we quite likely ended up at Prikid, as we had time on our hands, and feet with which we could walk.

Thursday, Dec. 3rd

Or, the Day I Turned 30. And how else would I start the day but with a WOD at CrossFit Reykjavik? (Actually, it started with toast, skyr, some juice that I’m sad we can’t find Stateside, and an espresso from our grumbly espresso machine. But I digress.)

In order to get to the gym, we needed to take a cab; our driver got us there quickly, especially quick considering the snow-covered roads. Icelandic drivers mean business. We arrived in one piece, then wandered the perimeter of the building until we figured out we had to access the lower level to get to the gym. In our defense, the snow was obscuring the pathway.

CrossFit Reykjavik is, as another visitor noted, a fitness factory. A well-oiled machine, we dropped in during the block of time where classes start every twenty minutes. The space is organized to allow this type of rotation, with strictly timed warm-ups, skill or lifting sections, and the WOD.

Our coach led us through warm-ups, which were easy enough to follow, as the combination of Icelandic and body language were all we needed. He checked in with us Americans every now and then to make sure we understood what was going on, which was appreciated.

The day’s lift consisted of 8 minutes to find your 1-rep max overhead squat. With a cranky shoulder, no Olympic lifting shoes, no weight belt, and a few days of improper nutrition and jet lag, I still managed to PR my overhead squat by a few pounds. 50kg/110lbs., good enough for a birthday PR. The rest of my Seattle crew either matched or PR’d their OHS, as well.

Then there was the WOD. It came with a 12-minute time cap, and read:

For Time
400m run
then…
21-15-9
SDHP (55kg/35kg)
Box jump overs (60/50cm)
then…
400m run

I was worried about hitting the time cap, between all the aforementioned ailments and chronic asthma. However, I surprised myself partway through my first set of SDHPS, noticing the clock was not very far along.

I’m actually going to finish this, I thought. Since that was the case, it then was in my best interest to try and keep up as best as possible. My fitter half and two BFFs unsurprisingly came off of the middle part of the WOD ahead of me, and they were well into their closing 400m run when I joined in. At the least, the gym operators weren’t cruel enough to send us out into the snow and ice, so we ran 8 small laps around some of the equipment.

I had a small lead on a few of the local athletes, and I finished well under the time cap. John naturally finished in his favorite spot, “fastest in the class,” although he didn’t look at the right clock to log his time. His time is forgotten to all eternity.

(That’s not true; B was able to track both their times, and John logged his on our gym’s website. I just looked it up online, and his time was 8 minutes and 15 seconds.

Fine.)

Final time: 10 minutes, 25 seconds 

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After the WOD, we took advantage of the wrestling mat and stretching room, rolling out before heading into the locker rooms. We showered, then instead of getting dressed and going home, we put on swim suits and hopped in the gym’s hot tub. (And cold tub. They had both.)

We did not get to take advantage of the sauna, although I imagine that would have been glorious as well. Instead, once we showered and changed, B noticed a Hlöllabátar across the way, so off we were to acquire some ham boats for post-WOD sustenance. I had to run the page through Google Translate because I don’t speak Icelandic very well (that’s an understatement), but the sandwich–boat–in question is the “Skinkubátur.” All you need to know is these boats are reasonably-priced and tasty. No frills, just great boats.

After the boys wrangled a taxi in the parking lot of a grocery store, we were on our way back to the apartment to rest up before birthday dinner. Walking around and eating lots of things whilst on holiday is difficult, so we played some games to keep ourselves entertained. I’m not exactly sure when we brought out Milles Bornes, but that is a game I highly recommend bringing on vacation, along with Quiddler. Both are good, clean fun, and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. They’re a very good way just to have fun, and they take up little room in the suitcase.

Our friends Aaron and Michelle departed Edinburgh, Scotland via EasyJet, and were en route to Reykjavik by early evening. Ahead of their arrival in the city, the four of us Seattleites went out for dinner. For the first few days, the boys had been asking us ladies were we wanted to go for our special days. There were several very nice restaurants around, and most were serving special Christmas meals. We kept telling them that we would make a decision at some point.

Naturally, it being my 30th birthday and all, I decided on lobster soup.

So, lobster soup it was, with the added treat of fresh salmon and cod skewers, along with a sampling of all the Christmas beers the Sea Baron had. It was a hearty and peaceful dinner, as we got to sit upstairs in the old bunk room area.

Bunk room?

Yes–there are several bunks in the upstairs area, which used to be lent out to fisherman in need of respite. A whole different type of homey feel to the restaurant, and one that made this birthday seem all the more unique and special.

After soup and beers, we moved onto Kex where we met the two ex-patriates, and where we enjoyed Einstok beers and a chocolate flourless cake. Aaron, the gentleman he is, requested a candle on the cake for my birthday, and Kex delivered.

The cake slice arrived with extra whipped cream, and a tea candle placed gently atop the cake. I’ve never been more delighted!

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It was a special night to be celebrating my birthday in Reykjavik, turning 30 with five of my favorite people, all who entered my life at various points in time. I couldn’t have thought up a better way to turn 30, and the best present was knowing there was more of the trip still ahead of us. We kept it relatively under control on this night because we had to be up early for the Golden Circle Tour.

Friday, Dec. 4th

I would say we were up at the crack of dawn on this day, but considering dawn wasn’t going to happen for several hours, I will just say we were up early. We had booked tickets for the Golden Circle Tour, including bus pick-up near our Airbnb, and had to get up to meet the mini-bus.

Unfortunately for us, we were the last scheduled area for pick-up, so we waited maybe 45 minutes out in the cold–and I mean cold as in “far below freezing”–before we finally got to climb into a tiny bus. The waiting game was perhaps the biggest hiccup in our trip, but all things considered, it was not the worst thing in the world. No one was hurt in the process, and we eventually got to our big buses, where Aaron and Michelle had saved us all seats.

I fell asleep for most of the drive out to our first stop, which was a tomato hot house, Friðheimar. There we were able to sample some delicious tomato soup and bread, learn about the indoor tomato cultivation, and also pet some Icelandic horses. One particular horse was rolling around in the snow without a care in the world.

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Next on the list was the Geysir geothermal field. As the name might imply, there is quite a bit of geothermal activity here. It’s of utmost importance for tourists to keep to the path because even though it’s cold out, it’s quite ill-advised to touch the far-beyond-boiling water.

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One of the geysirs, looking hot.

We waited patiently for the Strokkur geysir to erupt, and we were eventually treated to a spout of water preceded by a big bubble.

We refueled in the restaurant, then boarded the bus to Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Gullfoss was incredible and worth the biting wind. The water plunges over 100ft., and in the cold winter, some of the spray froze to the edges of the cliffs, creating what essentially looked like another frozen waterfall. I’m not certain what else I can say about the waterfall, other than it was incredibly beautiful. Absolutely amazing.

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Last on the list was Thingvellir National Park, a geology lover’s dream come true. The tectonic plates are pulling apart here, creating steep, blocky walls. We could also overlook the original Parliment and the lake, again braving the cold wind.

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100% John’s camera and eye here.

Back in town, we rested up before embarking on a night out. It started with a card game at the house, included some ham boats and hot dogs, and ended at Prikid with dancing and realizing Icelanders bring their A-game on the weekends. I’ve not a clue how any of the women were able to pull off high heels and normal club clothes in the dead of winter, but I admire them for it.

Saturday, Dec. 5th

When we finally awoke on December 5th, it was Ari’s turn at 30. Neither one of us had experienced anything strange, such as losing a limb nor all of our hair spontaneously falling out at once, so it was looking like 30 would be just fine.

We paid a visit to the iconic Hallgrimskirkja, where we took the elevators to the top of the church and looked out over the city. To say it was gorgeous would be an understatement. Even in the winter fog, with the visibility reduced, it was worth the trip to the top. I can’t wait to go again in a future summer.

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John’s work, again. (By this point, the rest of us had quit trying to take photos because John’s camera was showing all of us up.)

After coffee at Reykjavik Roasters, we went to Snaps for a very late brunch. Brunch runs until 1600 at Snaps, so we were just fine between sleeping in and our wandering. Being the holiday season, there were some additional Christmas treats on the menu, including mulled wine, which I have a weak spot for. Even though I was at the point in the vacation where I needed to probably think about putting myself on a restrictive calorie diet, I ordered Eggs Norwegian, and there were no regrets. Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon? Heaven in a single dish, I would say. (Actually, this blogger basically said the same thing about Eggs Norwegian at another place. We can’t both be wrong.) Everything else we ordered was on-point, and we gladly indulged.

It was a wandering and food-centered kind of birthday, with a siesta of sorts at the house after brunch. Eventually, we trekked down to Kex yet again for birthday treats, and later, four of us made it to Slippbarrin for cocktails and accidental (?) free shots of whiskey.

Ringing in 30 in Reykjavik was a great choice.

Sunday, Dec. 6th

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Sunday signified the end of the trip, and we begrudgingly packed up. John made one last trip to the neighborhood pool facility, and the rest of us went for coffee and a light pastry breakfast at Kaffihus Vesturbaejar. I had a croissant with some cheese and jam, and the bistro was calm and cozy, perfect for the close of a fantastic trip.

Also perfect was our bus ride to Keflavik, which began with another mini-bus pick-up. Our mini-bus driver was a natural at driving in the snow, and he wove up and down the side streets to gather other passengers and occasionally honk at pedestrians who were walking a bit too slow for his frantic pace. It was certainly a ride for which I buckled up, but when all was said and done, we not only were in one piece, but we had been thoroughly entertained by our young, relentless driver.

The longer ride from the central bus station to the airport was relaxing, with the sun illuminating the landscape outside. I snapped a few photos, but the dirty window and the moving bus diminished the quality of what I was really seeing.

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Once at Keflavik Airport and through security–and after we finally figured out the self-check system for the bags–we grabbed a hot meal of Icelandic meat soup and bread. I need that recipe in my arsenal, and I need Keflavik Airport’s food in my life more often. What a treat.

I also would not mind having the airport’s bars in my life more often, as the service and selection were both great. We enjoyed a few last drinks, including the last Einstok porter for awhile.

Soon enough, we were back on an airplane, and I snuggled up to the window seat. We hadn’t seen the Northern Lights the entire trip, but once we climbed high enough and the sky got dark, I looked out the window. Past the wing, there was a faint, green glow in the sky. At first, I thought it must have been a cloud, just catching the last rays of sunshine, but it persisted, and I knew it was the Northern Lights.

I nudged John and told him to look out the window, that the Northern Lights were just outside. We both craned our necks to watch them, until they were too far behind us to see any longer.

Turning our attention forward, we settled in, headed home to the Pacific Northwest, and said goodbye (for now) to the Land of Fire and Ice.

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The gang’s all here.

***

PS – In case you were wondering, John forgot all about the laser pointer until he unpacked everything back in Seattle.

PPS – Photo credits for this post include John, B, Ari, Aaron, Michelle, and myself

On This Day: Love and Loving

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states of the USA.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy. I am thrilled to know that all my friends can choose whether or not they want to marry. I didn’t find out about the ruling until a coworker told me; I was listening to Spotify on the ride in to work today. As the news continues to sink in, I am more and more moved.

I understand that I have friends from many walks of life, including walks of life that do not account for same-sex relationships as valid nor moral. They are struggling with what they define as their truth today, I am certain, and I hope that their hearts turn to love instead of hate. As one who is a free-spirited and progressive Catholic, I will pray for you.

Furthermore, I have many friends who come from walks of life in which they have not been allowed to live to their fullest. Today marks a step in the right direction, but we’re not done yet. Discrimination reaches further than legality of marriage, and we have a long road ahead of us in terms of making this world an equitable place for everyone. This goes for race, creed, orientation, gender identity, SES, etc. There’s a very long list, and it overwhelms me when I think about how I am just one very small player in this complicated world. However, we should celebrate the decision today. A conscious celebration is very much in order and overdue.

I also think about the parallels to the historic Loving v. Virginia decision. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws, declaring that mixed-race marriages were legal. It seems so long ago, and in my lived truth, mixed-race relationships seem so normal.

But Loving v. Virginia wasn’t actually that long ago.

In fact, the ruling was only ten years before my parents got married.

One of the most well-known arguments against mixed-race marriage–at least, most well-known to me, who had to draw on it for a debate course back in the mid-2000s–came from the judge presiding over the original case. One NPR article summarizes that “Judge Leon Bazile wrote: ‘Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. … The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.‘”

Does that sound familiar?

What also sounds familiar, though, were the arguments in favor. The argument was made in the case that “The Lovings have the right to go to sleep at night knowing that if should they not wake in the morning, their children would have the right to inherit from them. They have the right to be secure in knowing that, if they go to sleep and do not wake in the morning, that one of them, a survivor of them, has the right to Social Security benefits. All of these are denied to them, and they will not be denied to them if the whole anti-miscegenistic scheme of Virginia… [is] found unconstitutional” (via NPR, 2007).

I think about these things, and sometimes, I find myself at a loss for words. The profoundness of the situation is not lost on me. This was recent history, and it changed the world.

When change happens, sometimes it is gradual, and sometimes it is sweeping. Today was sweeping, but not without precedent and not without gradually shifting attitudes. I hope that 40+ years from now, we can reflect back–as I often do on Loving v. Virginia–on the long-term impact and understand what we’ve done and what still needs to be done.

I leave you with this beautiful passage from the ruling today, with the hope that you do your part to spread light and joy in the world. Go in peace.

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Indeed, it is.

It is so ordered.