Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Home home home

Ah, jet lag. Yes, it's 6 am; and no, I didn't go to bed early, like a smart jet-lagged person; although I got back to my apartment at 10:00 I stayed up for two more hours, fixing a pot of spaghetti and watching "Sex and the City." And unpacking, albeit in a rather haphazard fashion.

Today's just going to be kind of a grind, is all. I have three things to do:
  • file my dissertation (10:30 am)
  • have my picture taken for the brochure pertaining to my fellowship (11:30 am)
  • stay awake in seminar (12-2)
  • come home and expire from fatigue.
Okay, that's four things, but the fourth clearly doesn't count.

(Upon rereading this list, I fail to feel any self-pity. My schedule is so absurdly light. Where do I get off complaining?)

So where am I back from, you ask? Iceland! I can tell you that, because of course my conference wasn't actually in Iceland; I simply stopped over there on my way home. It's a weird and interesting place--I kind of feel like the entire time I spent there (about 48 hours) was a dream. There are so few people and so much wind. Yes, the wind is terrific. And everywhere there are flag poles with no flags on them, banging away in the wind. I don't think I ever actually saw it get fully dark, either, since I went to bed at around 10 on both nights and the sun seemed to be all the way up by about 4:30. The light is also remarkable, being always on the slant, and so the colorful houses on the hills of Reykjavic look terribly picturesque. Reykjavic itself, however, was not as picturesque as I'd imagined. In fact, it's somewhat stark, being neither particularly quaint nor particularly modern. The houses are mostly covered in corrugated metal which is then painted; the paint was usually chipped and peeling, owing, I imagine, to the harsh climate. This picture will give you an idea of a typical street:


It's also extremely expensive. Here's the cafe where I ordered The World's Smallest $12 Sandwich:


Seriously, it was about the size of a cracker. It was good, though. I ate only one actual "meal" per day while I was over there; it was all I could afford.

I started to write a more detailed post about where I've been, what I did, etc., but I'm not sure that such a thing would be all that interesting. I'm not particularly interested in writing it, at any rate. So here are just some thoughts and observations, in no particular order:
  • Whiskey is a good thing. I knew this before, but my love for it has been renewed.
  • It's okay for me, a WOMAN, to go to a bar by myself. Always before when I've traveled alone, or been alone on an overseas trip--at 25, 27--I've been somewhat apprehensive about Going Out by myself. Which is a shame, because on those trips I often found myself somewhat restless and lonely, and kind of bored in the evenings. But I thought that going to a bar alone would make me too much of a target, or something. And so it might. Within reason, however, it can certainly be done, and on the second major leg of my trip (I was in Scotland; the odds of anyone using that information to track me down just seem too remote), I went out a couple of times and had a beer by myself. And it was fine. Oh, my stupid social anxiety. Most nights I went pretty early--like dinner-time--but for some reason even that used to scare me. And the one night when I actually went to a bar at night, because I wanted to hear some live folk music, I sat at the bar with my book and had a lovely time. It's true that men talked to me, sometimes, and in fact at this particular bar I ended up having a rather long conversation with a 28-year-old guy with OCD who has recently become interested in Wicca. But that was fine, too, and frankly it's nice to talk to someone now and again. I wasn't taking any weird risks, and I wasn't drinking very much, and so there wasn't much more to be afraid of than there is in the normal course of affairs. (There was one guy who was less fine, and hit on me rather too freely, on a different night; but that was at 7 pm, whilst I was writing some postcards, of all provacative behaviors, and he was clearly very drunk, and the bartenders sort of hovered around keeping an eye on things until the besotted fellow took his leave. That was annoying, and unpleasant. One should never declare that one is in love with a person that one has met less than five minutes previously, by the way; it doesn't quite ring true.) Anyway the point is that I realized I'm capable of handling myself, of making it clear that I'm not interested in anything flirtatious, and of not denying myself a small pleasure that I desire. It was actually kind of exciting.
  • I don't think that I want to spend my whole life in a city. Every time I came into a new city, I was vastly more interested in whether I could get into the surrounding countryside--of course, it helped that I was in some places with exceptionally beautiful countryside. But this is a tendency that I've noticed in myself before; when I had to go to Denver for a conference a few years back, for instance, I managed to get out to Boulder within 48 hours of my arrival.
  • Youth hostels aren't all that bad, if you can ignore all the other people. Especially the deranged 37-year-old gamblers who are on an overt husband hunt (and who think that the 14th century refers to the 1400s. Gah!). Remind me to tell you that story some day.
  • I've spent a weirdly long time crafting this post.
And on that note, I think I'll finish up. More later.

Oh hey! I got some good news at the very end of my trip. An extremely obscure, tiny literary journal would like to publish one of my stories. That makes two extremely obscure, tiny literary journals in which I will have published!

9 comments:

squadratomagico said...

Congratulations on the story acceptance! That must be gratifying!

Sounds like you had an awesome trip. I don't think there is really that much to worry about when going out alone, as long as you don't get too smackered. The main precautionary measure I would take is to make sure you have enough cash for a cab fare, just in case you have someone pestering you and do not want to walk back to your hotel or hostel, lest they follow.

Hilaire said...

Hey congrats on the story being published! Wonderful.

I am so jealous of yuor Iceland stopover!! I have alsways longed for an Iceland stopover. Your post renews my interest, and perhaps I shall make it happen sooner rather than later...

Hilaire said...

OMG, sorry about not proofreading that last comment!

medieval woman said...

Welcome back! Glad that the trip was good and I hope that the first leg of it was highly successful - did you get to see a fjord? A narwhal?

Congrats on your story as well - how did the phone interview go?

jb said...

Thanks all! Yeah, it's exciting to get an acceptance. The first journal that accepted one of my stories has a circulation of 90-100; this one has between 150-190 subscribers. (Moving up!) I think that my new goal will be to have as many publications, but as few potential readers, as possible.

The phone interview seemed to go fine (the drunken Italians shouting at my back notwithstanding), but who knows? I haven't heard anything yet. A funny note: Their first question was the following:

"Given your excellent credentials, and the fact that you are no doubt being courted by any number of major research institutions, why are you interested in teaching at our SLAC?"

Well, it was flattering. (Actually I would like to teach at a SLAC, and not just because I'm not being courted by anyone, sniff sniff.) (Indulgently facetious self-pity there! I've done enough whining for one semester.)

Oh, and Iceland! Yeah, it was cool. But BRING MONEY!! Or, rather, have money available to you; I suppose it doesn't actually have to be in cash form.... You know what I mean. I do hope someday to go back and visit Thingvellir and the other natural landscape stuff. Also I love the fact that they still use thorns and eths.

Sisyphus said...

Hey, you have flower bullets! --- How did you do that?

Your traveling sounds wonderful and I hope you have luck with your interviews!

Sisyphus said...

Oh yeah, and congrats on the actual filing! Whoo-hoo! (I hope your picture for the brochure does not end up looking too jet-lagged, heh.)

History Geek said...

Welcome back!

jb said...

Thanks, HG!

Sisyphus--I don't know where the flower bullets came from; they just appeared when I switched to this ridiculously busy new format with all its frills and furbelows (or however that's spelled).