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Words and phrases I would like to ban until further notice:

  • Unprecedented
  • These uncertain times
  • An (over)abundance of caution (not seeing this one as much lately since things that initially were cancelled out of “an abundance of caution” are now cancelled as part of “the bare minimum of things we should be doing these days.”
  • When this is all over (caught myself saying this way too much).

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, how are you? Life is weird for pretty much everyone now, but I know it’s been a heck of a lot harder for some folks. We’ve been very blessed in that our income hasn’t changed, unlike so many people we know who have been laid off work. Ross is teaching from home, which is fascinating to me. All over the country, spouses are realizing, “Wait, THAT’S how you sound when you’re at work?” Since I worked from home anyway for my day job as an executive assistant, not much has changed for me, other than being busier. I work for a nonprofit that provides healthcare in West Africa, so it feels like we’ve been sprinting since late February.

Life during the pandemic has been a strange ping-pong of anxiety over current conditions and enjoyment of the slower pace of life overall (work busyness notwithstanding). I have friends and coworkers seriously affected by the virus and it’s impossible to read the news and not be (rightly) concerned; the world is mourning and will be for some time. But I do think finding the bright side to all this is healthy on a personal level.

Here are my favorite things to do during these unprecedented, uncertain times until this is all over and we can go back to an underabundance of caution:

  • Get outside. I know not everyone can do this right now so I don’t take it for granted, but it’s the number one thing improving my mood these days. We go on long walks and runs with Calvin all the time, and he loves it but is baffled by current circumstances, not to mention exhausted by them. He’s currently slumped at my feet after an hour+ run during which he finally just planted his feet and refused to go farther.

That's the 7th walk today. What the heck is a coronavirus?

  • Looseleaf tea. One of my coronavirus splurges has been ordering tea online from Chad’s Chai and Tin Roof Teas, and it’s my best pandemic decision to date. Both shops are running coronavirus sales. Bonus: you get to support local business.

Chad's Chai tea and mug

  • Get takeout. Speaking of supporting local business, we’ve been trying to keep some of our favorite restaurants afloat by ordering curbside pickup. Neomonde, Sitti, Tangerine Cafe, El Rodeo are some we’ve tried. We even dressed up for date night at home one night.

Date night at the kitchen table

  • Read. My concentration is shot these days, and I’ll bet a lot of you are in the same boat. Light and funny books are the name of the game for me. I recommend Terry Pratchett and James Herriott, for starters. I listened to It Can’t Happen Here on audiobook, and that was a terrible mistake. I’ll save the fascist dystopias for happier times, thank you. Another coronavirus splurge of mine was buying a few new books. Do I have a zillion books to read already? Oh yes. Was I thrilled to get new books anyway? Oh yes.
  • Immerse myself in Icelandic culture. Since our trip to Iceland has been postponed indefinitely (I’m still hoping we can make it in late June, but I’ve reluctantly come to the realization that we may not be able to go until summer of 2021), I’m taking this opportunity to improve my Icelandic, take an online course on Medieval Icelandic Sagas, and read more Icelandic books (see above note about new books I didn’t need).

Sagas of the Icelanders book

  • Video chat with friends and family. This is becoming a double-edged sword because now we chat with folks every night, and it almost feels like we’re too busy again, but it’s still so lovely to see friends’ faces. We’ve caught up with folks we haven’t talked to in years, and I hope this tradition continues long after the pandemic is a thing of the past. We’ve even been playing board games like Settlers of Catan over Skype.

Playing boardgames over Skype

  • Watch TV. Pre-pandemic, I was so busy that I was hard-pressed to squeeze in one hour of TV per week, which made keeping up with shows almost impossible. Now, especially with so many sites offering free month-long trials, I’ve been able to see most of Picard and a few other Trek episodes on CBS All Access, finally finished Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Acorn TV, and have watched the occasional movie. Shocking!

What are some of your favorite coping mechanisms during all this insanity? Are you doing okay? Let me know!

I’m normally a pretty chill, emotionally even-keeled kind of person, but I’ve been squealing like a little girl A LOT lately. Why?

Ross and I are going to Iceland in June of 2020 for our fifth anniversary!!!

andre-filipe-700680-unsplash

I’ve been dreaming of going to Iceland for years and years, for a plethora of reasons:

  1. Have you seen the place?? It’s flipping gorgeous. The scenery has to be seen to be believed. Iceland has a bleak type of beauty that makes my heart hurt in a really good way. Browse the When in Iceland Instagram for more photographs too lovely to seem possible.
  2. I grew up reading and loving the Poetic Edda and the Icelandic sagas translated into English and turning the Old Norse words over in my head even if I didn’t know what they meant because they sounded magical. Seeing the place where they were written will be a dream come true.
  3. Icelandic book culture is a reader and writer’s dream. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world (although some say the UK may be taking that title in recent years), and Icelanders have a massive love for the written word. Storytelling is a national pastime. During the annual Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood, Icelanders buy thousands of books to give as gifts and to read themselves.
  4. Icelandic culture in general is utterly fascinating. Crime is astonishingly low, averaging 1.8 murders per year (some sources say 1.6) in a country of over 300,000 people. There isn’t a single McDonalds or Starbucks in the entire country, and most of the global chains that have taken over elsewhere aren’t present in Iceland. 85% of its energy is from renewable resources (much of it geothermal). It’s one of the oldest democracies in the world, formed in 930 AD. Mosquitoes do not exist in Iceland.
  5. Icelandic horses, whale watching, glacier hiking, geysers, puffins, turf houses…I could go on.

You’re may be thinking, well, that sounds fantastic, but the trip is more than a year away. Why all the hysterics now?

Let me preface this by saying that I hate surprises. I loathe them. Especially good surprises. If Ross had somehow managed to surprise me with a trip to Iceland in a month, I would be thinking, “Oh… Um. Yay?” Easily half of the fun of an exciting event is anticipating it, planning for it, and hugging the idea of it to my chest and making happy sounds while I daydream about how it might be (or might not be, I’m not picky and don’t usually mind if things turn out differently from how I imagined).

So here’s what I get to enjoy for the next year:

  • Learning as much Icelandic as I can. Icelandic isn’t on Duolingo, more’s the pity, so I’m currently using a combo of this Icelandic course on Memrise, and various Icelandic videos on Youtube, especially this channel. I’m looking forward to getting an Icelandic dictionary.
  • Planning every detail of the trip. Yes, a good chunk of that planning will go out the window on the first day with bad weather, but the planning is so much FUN. Because I’ve been dreaming of going to Iceland for so long, I have a list of natural wonders, historical sites, and attractions a mile long I’d like to visit, and I’m researching each one. I’m also researching different travel options, like renting a car and staying in Airbnbs versus renting a campervan and camping our way around the Ring Road. Iceland is VERY expensive, so making reservations early will save money.
  • Rereading the Icelandic sagas and the Poetic and Prose Eddas. This literature was formative for me when I was growing up, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read a lot of it now. Rereading it with an eye for places I might be able to visit will be a new experience.
  • Reading up on Icelandic history, some modern Icelandic literature, and Icelandic travel guides. You better believe I already have a Goodreads shelf going.
  • Relistening to some of my favorite Icelandic music and building a roadtrip playlist. Tons of my favorite musical artists are from Iceland: Sigur RósOf Monsters and Men, Björk, Emiliana Torrini, just to name a few. I also want to explore new-to-me Icelandic artists.
  • Buying an Icelandic sweater. This one may seem trivial, but I always wanted to get a traditional Icelandic sweater while in Iceland. Unfortunately, I learned that they’re pretty far outside of my price range, especially for an item of clothing I’ll almost never be able to wear at home in North Carolina without boiling alive. My compromise is to buy a used Icelandic wool sweater from Ebay or Etsy ahead of time (they cost about 1/5 as much used) and bring it with me to Iceland.

That’s a lot to look forward to in a year! Stay tuned for more Icelandic fangirling, if you’re into that. I’m sure I’ll be posting about the trip a lot in the next year.

In unrelated news, I finally got an Instagram, which is full mainly of dog pictures. If that’s your thing, check it out. And yes, there will eventually be a lot of Iceland pictures there too. 😉

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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