the ebbs and the flows; the flows and the ebbs.

It’s funny how this blog ends up working for me, how it becomes this dumping ground for my various existential crises, fears, and ramblings. I remember one friend commenting on how strange it is to know me in person and then to read the things I write because it almost seems like 2 different people–that IRL I’m silly and seemingly carefree and goofy, but then she’d read my blog and be like, Whoa, Deep. Life. Shit.

I was reminded of this tendency again after my Iceland trip, when a few different friends who regularly keep up with the blog (thank you for that, by the way) commented on how it seemed my trip was a bit of a bust, and how they figured I probably would not be heading back to Iceland anytime soon. At first I was surprised by their conclusions, but when I went back and looked at my blog, and the bits of my trip I did talk about, I realized it’d be impossible for them to surmise anything but that. Continue reading

Bago Bag Review!

Alright, so I’ve had a few people ask me Bago Travel bag since I first mentioned it on the blog a couple months back, specifically how it manages to fold up so compactly. 

Since it’s easier to show vs. tell, I’m proud/frightened to bring you my first video blog ever. Hopefully this answers people’s questions about Bago, without totally making me look like a bobo (like what I did there?)

Let me know if you have any more questions about these awesome products!

 

 

Tips on Traveling in Iceland, Part 2: What to Pack

As noted in my previous blog, I decided to write this series of blogs in response to the numerous questions/messages I’ve been getting from friends and friends of friends who are planning to traveling to Iceland soon or are thinking of trying to book a trip after seeing/reading so much about this amazing place. I figured the best time to put this guide together was when I was still in the middle of my trip, so the information is still fresh in my mind. Feel free to leave a comment if there’s a certain aspect of travel you might be curious about. I’m definitely not an expert on Iceland, but hopefully my experiences might help you plan for your trip!

Alright, so the next topic I decided to tackle was “What specific things should I bring on my trip?” Although this might vary a bit, depending on the exact type of travel experience you’re planning, I think this overview should prove helpful to most people. Continue reading

Tips on Traveling in Iceland, Part 1: Driving/Renting a Car

So, I’ve had a lot of people recently mention they are planning a trip to Iceland soon and are looking for recommendations for when they travel. I figured it might be best to blog about my thoughts/tips instead of writing to each individual person. I was going to try to do one big ol’ blog post, but then I ended up writing nearly 2,000 words on just driving alone, so I figure I’ll split these up and spread them out (making them more digestible AND making me feel more productive on the blog front)!

Hopefully this information will prove useful to people, though definitely keep in mind there is much more to consider beyond my experiences and opinions. Also keep in mind that I am currently traveling during their spring/summer period, so the weather conditions are considerably different than if you are planning to come here in the winter. I’ll try to note some additional considerations you’ll need to make for other times of the year, but since that falls outside of my own experience, you’ll probably want to do some additional research if you’re coming here during the winter months.

For a little background on me for those who might have found this blog through a friend or an independent search: I’m currently in the middle of my 2nd trip to Iceland. The first one was more of a quick, tour-heavy, pre-planned excursion, which was perfect for the 4-day venture me and my travel companions had set out for (we found a pretty reasonably priced deal through Travel Zoo that include airfare, hotel accommodations in Reykjavík, and a Northern lights tour that brought us here in November 2013).

The trip I’m currently on is a month-long tour of the country, though I am primarily based in Southern Iceland, fairly close to Rt. 1, the main road in the country, also known as the Ring Road. Although one of my main intentions while being here is to write, I’m also trying to see as much of the country as possible. And considering that Iceland is about the size of Ohio, there’s plenty of opportunity to achieve this in the time I’m here!

This particular blog deals with getting around in Iceland, specifically with my experience of renting a car. I know many people debate doing this, both because of the fear of driving in a foreign land and because of the price, but based on my experience, I think having your own vehicle is worth the expense. Continue reading

Iceland I love you, but you’re bringing me down

I woke up this morning from a dream where I was talking along the field outside my parents’ house in NJ with my best friend (who actually lives in California). I was annoyed because the neighbor was blaring country music since it was warm enough for them to be lazing about outside, and their giant dog, who was unleashed, came barreling towards my friend and me.

This is the last time I deal with their shit, I thought to myself and began to storm towards their property.

Right about then my alarm went off. I was awake, but not really, and the sounds of the birds outside and the rain on the window were familiar enough to let me believe a little longer I was home. As I re-oriented, I began to remember where I was, which in turn made me realize how far away I was from the things that just felt so close. And suddenly I found myself dealing with the thing I’ve managed to stave off pretty well up until now: homesickness.

I’ve now been in Iceland about 12 days–a little less than halfway through my trip. I won’t say that I haven’t missed home before this point, but I think I was able to suspend the realities of the two enough where I did not allow the feelings about one to affect the experience of the other. It’s essentially the same backwards logic I used the other day when visiting the Víðgelmir Cave during my road trip to West Iceland. One of the other girls from the residency and I decided to go explore the western part of the island, and saw info for this trek into the largest known cave in the country (the guide informed us that because of the porous nature of the lava rock that has formed this place, there are most likely thousands more yet to be discovered). When we agreed we should check it out, I wasn’t really considering the potential triggers for panic that this excursion might cause–being that I am very claustrophobic and not really great with heights, either.

When we got there, I asked the guide if the claustrophobia would be a problem. He assured me that beyond one area where you had to duck your head to get in, it was very open and you could stand with no problem.

“OK, I can do that,” I thought. Continue reading

I Ain’t Down Yet.

The stages of Alzheimer’s are so difficult and complex to try to explain to someone. I know hearing someone say “you just wouldn’t understand” almost sounds aloof, but it’s not even like that. It’s more just like–where do you begin? It would be like trying to explain something like city trash pick up to someone–it’s shit that’s so commonplace background noise that you don’t even know how to dissect it from what the rest of “normal” life is supposed to look like.

I never really know what to say when people ask about my mom. I don’t know how much detail is fair to give, or really necessary. It’s a kind gesture on their behalf to acknowledge that they care and recognize this thing happening in your life, but it also makes you feel like you’re always exposed and vulnerable to this fact, especially on the days you’re feeling particularly exposed and vulnerable about it.

It’s funny because I always think that I’ve gotten over it to a certain point–that this shit has been reality so long that there’s no reverting to complete sadness about it anymore because how can you legit cry over something that you’ve been carrying around that long? But then something happens–I smell her perfume while I’m out running errands, or for a brief second, some brain glitch makes me think that she’s just at work or reminds me of what it felt like to sit in the passenger seat while she drove to the mall. Suddenly I actually remember that these things were once real and happened. I used to have a mother. She used to know who I was.

These moments are easily the hardest to deal with because for a second there is so much happiness and hope and then suddenly everything snaps back into place, like some shitty reality rubber band, and it’s back to remembering that point and time is Over. Continue reading

Seeking peace.

The first day we were in Iceland, we pretty much got off the plane and then into one of the biggest, craziest-looking roided-out SUV vehicles I’ve ever seen. Our guide, Isak, took us around in this monster vehicle for hours–showing us the snowy mountains, rural towns, and moon-like terrains.

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See? I wasn’t kidding!

Most of our stops were planned, though we veered off a couple of times to check out some unplanned sites (the country’s prized breed of horses, who huddled together near a farm off the road we were traveling; a local coffee shop were I got homemade bread slathered with butter, and then layered with hard-boiled eggs slices and smoked salmon). Another stop was to view a particularly beautiful view of the landscape.

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Icelandic horses

At that point, while driving on one of the larger roads in the area, no cars had passed us for miles, and when we got out of the car, closing the doors behind us, I was struck with how calm the world felt. I looked out over this stretch of land and was overwhelmed with the sense of peace I felt. I like the 5 of us were completely alone up there, but in the best of ways.

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I know it looks weird, but it was delicious!

Now, a little over a month later, in the middle of a million hectic things happening all at once, I think back to those moments along the side of the road, and the absolute quiet and peace I experienced there. I am wishing for that feeling more than ever, and I’m hopeful that it’s something that can be attained without a plane ride…

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The spot where I think I’ve experienced the truest peace/quiet/feeling of aloneness.

 

When they love you and they will, tell them all, they’ll love in my shadow…And if they try to slow you down, tell them all, to go to hell

The past couple of months have been such a crazy whirlwind, and although I’d like to believe that will slow down soon, with the holidaze almost upon us, so I’m finding that hard to believe. Continue reading

Leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…

I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that I just spent $20 for sort of mediocre Internet service while on my flight to San Fran–but I weighed my options carefully beforehand: It was between this and an overpriced movie and overpriced Bloody Mary. Although one would argue 2 is better than one, it’s been my finding that inflight cocktails usually taste pretty terrible, and the only way to really make them enjoyable is generally by downing a couple. Plus, I’d get more hours of entertainment from the Internet than I would from the movie/booze combined… look at me, with all my practical, adult decisions! Continue reading