23 December 2005

The Iceland Diaries IV -- Day 8

Fimmtudagur, 22 Desember 2005

I'm an idiot.

The sky is clear and bright and almost cloudless but I missed the tour to the South. Instead I'm going to be roped into helping move furniture.

I don't have Alex' phone number and I don't remember if I gave him mine. I let Cheerios go and some guy was trying to accompany her. Actually, I don't count that one against me -- I have a bit more dignity left than had I let another girl shoo me away and slam the door on my face.

I have her number. She's getting an SMS from me later. I'll probably get one back saying "You should've kept trying. The other guy is here now. You blew it."

I woke up at 8:10 and realised I was in no shape to go on the tour. What would be the point of falling asleep in the bus for at least half of a €130 ride when the whole point was to see stuff. I went back to sleep for a couple hours.

I put my German SIM back in the phone to check for messages. No signal. Put the Icelandic card in. No problem. WTF? I tried the German card again and started hunting through the settings to see what the Og Vodaphone Hottay had done and failed. I have to go back to the damned mall again.

I left at about 3:00 to post and as I walked down Frakkastígur, saw the mountains past the bay in the setting sun. I made a fast U-turn, got the camera equipment and went straight down there to take more pictures. I was there for more than an hour to capture the scene as the sun hit the mountains from an ever-decreasing angle. Putting away the kit, I opened the top pocket to grab the lens rag and everything in there spilled out onto the rocks and into the crevasses: rechargeable AAs, a spare Canon battery, CF card, SD cards, all of it. I spent the next five minutes willing my frozen fingers to grab each item and not let any slip out of reach.

The Reykjavík bay
The Reykjavík bay
Sorry for the mosaic crap. Once I'm on a real computer and have the right software I can tuvne these pics properly.

On my way to 22 I saw Gulli with a load of new T-shirts. A lot of them were still hot from production. I warmed my hands between the pile he was in the midst of folding. They were still cold an hour later; I need my Belgian Siren. She loves it when I warm my cold hands on various bits of her anatomy and lets me know this with shrieks, screams and an occasional (loving) kidney punch.

I sat down to post and not ten minutes later Atli came in. He's started taking Cipralex so he can't drink. It's making him feel weird. This is a time of serious depression for Icelanders although as of today, the days will finally start getting longer. A friend of his was at the film King Kong with some of his friends, stood up in the middle of it, told everyone to have a nice life, then walked out. He left the theatre, walked into the ocean and died.

An uncanny number of Icelanders suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) due to the small amount of light in winter. It doesn't bother me but then, I don't live here all year. I don't think I'd be affected; I've spent weeks on end in air-conditioned, windowless server AND mainframe rooms, never seeing anything but fluorescent light during the day and incandescent at night. Guess I'm lucky that way.

I went home for a while but didn't do much. Sandra was cleaning and preparing for the room swap. I told her I'd help with the heavy stuff. She later grabbed the king-sized mattress as I sat having a smoke in the next room. "Do you want a hand?" "No, this isn't a problem." What would be then? That's the hardest thing she's got to move. I tried to decide which restaurant I'd make the primary skata target and Sandra again suggested Þriggja Frakka (or þrigjum Frökkum, depending on the case declension) over the Hotel Borg's "Classic". It's also closer and smaller. I'll stop by tomorrow to see about getting a seat which may be rather difficult. Sandra told me most people make reservations at the end of November.

I sent an SMS to DarkMind, a friend from IRC I'd met up in Akranes last January and who's now living in Reykjavík. He was right down on Laugarvegur. I said I could meet him in half an hour. He messaged back that he wouldn't be there then. I grabbed my coat and shoes and told him I was on my way. A couple messages later I was in 22 and waiting for him. I ordered a beer. And got a message that he couldn't come right now. Dammit.

I talked to the girls behind the bar for a bit. They'd run out of 100kr coins and it was after 10pm so all the stores were closed. No problem. I went out to another restaurant, got all American and asked the guy at a coffee house for change. No problem.

My phone isn't buzzing as messages come in, at least, not every time even though it's set to. It was only when I had three from DarkMind stacked up that it buzzed. I called him to save time and trouble. He asked if I had plans for tomorrow. Not really. "Then you're coming with me to Tveir Fiskar (but at "Tveim Fiskum") to eat skate." Cool. That's the restaurant, reservations and company settled. He'll meet me at 4 here in 22.

As I was finishing up my beer and getting ready to split, Who should walk in the door but DarkMind. OK, another beer. He was talking mostly in Icelandic and said something about "skötu". Huh? "You said you wanted to eat skötu didn't you? I still didn't get it. He switched to English and asked if I hadn't wanted to eat skate? "Oh, skata," and then it hit me. I fell victim to that damned grammar again. "Skata" belongs to a special class of Icelandic feminine nouns which end in "a" only in the nominative case and "u" in other cases. But because the last vowel before the noun ending is an "a", it changes to an "ö". The girls at the bar giggled and I got a bit of language reinforcement. Win-win.

We finished our beers and went to Sírkus. Chairs were in short supply upstairs but we snagged one and I got a girl on a bench to scooch over so I could sit for a minute. I told her I'd get up when her friend got back. She didn't believe I wasn't an Icelander despite my pathetic abilities to understand most of what she said. DarkMind tried to convince her but she kept saying that I pronounced words too correctly not to really speak the language. She finally acceded but remained wary. We talked for a bit as DarkMind went down for a fresh round and shots of Sambuca. Definitely a Hottay and definitely serious with some guy. It was just a hen night but they were quite pleased that I kept lighting their cigarettes for them.

As the place was closing and went downstairs I met another Hottay who called herself Alice in wonderland. Sure, sweetie, whatever. She wouldn't say shit about herself but did give me her number.

DarkMiind and I walked back home -- he'd asked if he could crash -- and Sandra was mostly finished. We had a drink there and talked some more. Sandra offered him her kid's room since Magnus was still at grandma's place. As I was getting ready to go to bed, Steinur walked in. The three of them stayed up a while talking and smoking. I passed out around 4.

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