Iceland. Ísland.

Ísland – Before I begin

Ísland. I heard about this country for the first time when it announced its bankruptcy in 2008. People joked about it, saying its people loved a lazy way of life without any economic pressure… Why is there even a country near the Arctic circle, and what kind of unusual way life those people have? Why is there even people there? So, I did research on this country when I was in middle school for geography class, and for the first time, I see why this country can exist thanks to the warm sea water from Atlantic, and its internal heat. Even barely nothing grows on its barren land.

On my most rebellious age, I started to listen to Bjork. This political and environmental activist and avant-garde musician made me imagine her homeland even more. She supports the independence of Scotland and protests against the nature development for economy in East Iceland. And until last semester I took classes about Scandinavian history, and in our final project we did research about striking of independence in Iceland and I did my individual paper about the perseverance of Icelandic national identity in the modern, globalized world. Icelandic Pagan tradition has considered nature as a crucial part of it, and such tradition distinguishes Iceland from the others. They still use a language that stopped evolving since medieval times without any loan words, an old patronym naming system.

Volcanos, hot springs, barren land, glacier. Half year of brightness, another half darkness. Extremely high latitude, but surprisingly warm in the winter. This is the nature Iceland survived on. The nature is the God, the sacred one.

Ég Mukk – 9 juni

I’m lucky.

I arrived in Iceland on my birthday.

This is the first time I come to a country where the language is not at all understandable. Listening to people speaking some language that I don’t understand, or English with strong, unique accent. Signs are all unreadable, long words with some new letters such as þ and ð. I tried to pronounce hl- and hr-, and all those signs.

This song “Ég Mukk” by Sigur Rós has very clean, wide soundscape. I walked the streets and visited every place. Here is the real version of that mysterious land I was curious about.

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I’m lucky. I’m lucky to be here, walking in a city which once only appeared in my dream. A dream, just like that floating boat in this video.

Jóga – 10 juni

Got up early for seeing the Viking landscape. Outworldly landscape.

This song title means “Yoga” — which has, surprisingly, had its music video filmed with this “emotional landscape”. Where people rest their body on, take a deep breath and connect to such constant miracle. “All these accidents that happened followed the dots” — because the formation of this island is an accident, a beautiful one.

I made a new Icelandic friend today. He is our guide for the tour to Glacier Lagoon and his name is Hreindýr. We discussed how disappointing that Icelandic nature becomes merchandise & part of the popular culture, and this sacred land which is important to Icelander’s national identity loses its meaning in tourism. I told him that while people take selfies and tourist photos in front of Skógafoss, I was listening to Icelandic national anthem and watching the landscape. And he told me how Icelandic football players are singing the anthem in a game. When I told him that I study in Minnesota, he said he has been to Minnesota before and stayed for three months, and he knew there were many Scandinavians there. We handshaked and said goodbye after 15 hours since our first greeting. I will miss him.

Crystallized – 10 juni

Sailing through the crystals under the arctic sun.

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Von – 11 juni

Another day in the city…

Visited National Museum today, and reviewed what I learned in my history class. This is the history of the real Vikings who settled in a place where there was no human at first, and I see how much they love and are proud of their country.

When I was in downtown, I can always see how multiculturalism has transformed this city so much. I saw a black guy performing in the city center where people surrounded him, an Asian staff in a souvenir store… the entire city is tourists-oriented.

I talked to another Icelandic guy today. He’s the owner of Punk Museum in Reykjavik(where I saw Bjork’s posters). He speaks different languages including Danish, Swedish and some German, and he also knows some Chinese. There are two German travelers who speak Swedish. We joked about the interesting differences of these languages and felt so blessed living in a lingually diverse world. He also expressed his attitude of Scandinavians referring Icelandic as Old Norse: “If they think our language is ‘Old Norse’, then why they can’t speak it?”

And I asked some question about the rising tourism and immigration trend. There are so many workers in tourist center who are apparently not Icelandic. He said that this trend is so powerful that they are in a fear of dying out, literally. There is one thing to point out: He is not xenophobic. He definitely loves to meet people from a variety of background. But each culture should exist only on its homeland, and none of them should put others in danger on their homelands.

I agree. I won’t allow beautiful traditional Chinese culture to die out on my homeland due to economic or political factors either.

In the evening, I listened to an Icelandic music recital in Harpa. One of these songs uses very straight-forward, protest-like, and somewhat funny lyrics with opera-like music to shout for feminism in Reykjavik. People laughed, but also applauded. Icelanders are humorous people, indeed, but also urging in doing important things for their homeland.

Von, in Icelandic, means “hope”. People say Iceland is a barren, icy, and desperate land. But there will be hope, if and only if we have something to hope for — and go for it.

Heima – 12 juni

No regret for anything going to Reykjanes. We saw a small, lonely church built near the seashore where I felt like I am about to fly, like those birds. A graveyard is built behind the church, and behind the graveyard is endless flower field. People born 19th century are rested here. I imagined how they looked like, and what they were doing at that time. Was it the same scenery at that time? A bird flies under the Icelandic flag and looked at the flag, like a patriotic blonde Icelandic boy. He doesn’t know why he is doing, but as a creature survived by this island and sea, he felt the strength and nostalgia his homeland provides.

Today, we are children again, listening to fairy tales and re-narrating them to ourselves in our sleep. We are at the edge of this world, where no one else’s happiness can reach.

And there is hardly anyone. Purple flowers blossoms everywhere on both side of the road.

IMG_7943IMG_7948IMG_7944IMG_7947It took some effort to get to the beach, where giant rocks stand. I walked across uneven rock field, difficult to follow the path, but eventually found out one for my own.

IMG_7975.jpgIMG_8010.jpgGiant things far away from you always look like easy to climb up. But it isn’t. So I didn’t climb. But I found the debris of a lighthouse nearby. This is the first lighthouse in Iceland which was destroyed in the storm. Now inside of the lighthouse, the nature has reclaimed itself by layering grass and tundra.

Tundra can be easily found on the barren land of Iceland.

Also some incredibly strong flowers. They are definitely unlike those turnips growing in Netherland. No one cares about them— but they made their way out and exist, drinking sunshine and raindrops.

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Nattura – 12 juni

Another example to prove Icelanders living on nature: Just with the volcanos, hot springs, they enjoy comfort and heat even in winter. Hot water is used to warm the streets in downtown Reykjavik, so the snow just melt by itself and no one needs to clean it up. Some hot water is stored in Perlan, a landmark near my hostel. After water is used, it is cleaned and sent back to underground for a balance. In summer, while the sea is not warm enough, they use hot spring to warm up the sea water and import white sand, creating a beach resort.

Texture of Iceland…

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So it is the all about my first encounter with Iceland, the real Iceland, the reality behind all those myths. And both reality and the image have touched deep inside of me.

Birthday

Just before my 20th birthday, on my way to the airport for my flight to Iceland, I saw a passage about Natalie Portman. She has the same birthday as mine, June 9. And she is such a flawless individual that I can never become.

I have been thinking about my future sometimes but most of the time I am in chaos. I have never been extraordinary in any field since I was young. Now, maybe also after graduation, in a country I was not born in… I have to handle everything.

I have made many mistakes so far. I met wrong people and made wrong decisions… I blame everything that happens to me, believe that all my problems is others’ fault, while never try to fix it. In real world where we set standard for great people, discriminating each other while calling for equality… I don’t fit in with any these standards. And thus I am negative, hard to feel confident about myself. At this point I will tell “I wish I can be as pretty, skinny and I wish I was born Jewish like Natalie” so that I could be flawless like her.

For 20 years I was a negative individual. Maybe this is some bad luck when I was born, I was not able to befriend with everyone and I was always judged of being grumpy… so I try everything to please people around me, but at the same time I lost myself. While people left me alone, without actually thinking about me… I haven’t actually do something to achieve a better me. I don’t know what “being yourself” means, is that remaining as an imperfect person, or becoming a gem?
I complain a lot here, because I always feel uncomfortable with my life. I wasn’t born and raised in perfect conditions for “prodigies”… and I have to live a life worse than those who I admire. I mean, I have to. I feel myself someone in a empty church with all windows and doors sealed. This is where I was. I hit myself against the wall, screamed, and try to rip everything off the wall… and one day I broke a window… and the sunlight came in. Now it is actually the time to look around me where it was dark, to find something new. And I have to find an exit.

I’m glad that I know so many great people here in my college. They help me to know to that I’m not alone, and I’m not as badass as I have imagined… I find a direction for my studies and I am going further and further. I will be traveling in where I love, doing what I love. Someone is going to appreciate me. But I don’t break the window and find the exit — I never will.

I will not be the same as Natalie. But I am gonna be respected by some people as extraordinary.

One day.

Imagine.

Love of people is a necessity for me, just like the love of food, music, and nature. I fall in love with someone for many reasons, such as the culture he/she belongs to, his/her talent in art and music, etc. And I try to connect to them, so they have a place for me in their hearts too. However, it isn’t always like this.

However, it isn’t always like this. Isshi, visual rock musician from Japan, passed away 6 years ago. My Norwegian friends and Finnish friends always hang out with the people who do the same things like them, which is not what I am doing. I am so tired of forcing myself loving something I am not interested. I will miss the speech by Erik Johansson in Helsingborg, while I planned to travel in Aarhus, Denmark. I wish I can hear him speaking his mother tongue, Swedish, and say hello.

Life is always like this. Imperfectness everywhere.

—–

But it isn’t that important now. I sat on the balcony and watch the sun, imagining Erik speaking Swedish to me, while I use my elementary Norwegian skills to reply him. Dreams are perfectly beautiful only when they don’t come true yet. My imagination of having a strong relationship with my favourite people lead me to somewhere I may never be, creating thousands of beautiful nights with tears. It is just so nice when I can do this. love someone without letting anyone know.

And thus I am good.

Clean

Attempt to take clean photos, like these on life magazines.

Life may be imperfect, but we express our hope via photography.

We travel like normal tourists. We followed the map, plan everything ahead of time, etc. We are kind of busy, but it doesn’t stop our eyes from discover good angle, and capture every unique moment.

March 19, Myrtle Edwards Park
March 20, Mt. Rainier
March 21, Chihuly Garden and Glass
March 21, Space Needle
March 23, Seattle Public Library
March 20, Pike Market
March 24, Argosy Cruises
March 25, in my hotel
March 24, Gum wall
March 25, The Quad in UW

This week of valentine…

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Model: Sorbie

Photo of the week: I feel loved when taking photos for her.

It was Valentine when everyone celebrates a relationship, flowers, and chocolates. I am single. I don’t how I am about to feel happy. I am anxious about a new relationship. I sometimes feel valueless — there isn’t a good-looking guy for me here, while my friends are posting lovely couple photos.

And then I asked myself.

To you, what is love?

“Love is making food and bubble tea, and finish them all by yourself.

Love is making an omelet in the morning and bubble tea, and finish them all by yourself.

Love is learning to write, play, or sing a new piece of music or a song.

Love is what you can give to yourself. When you realize how your value can help many people — or just one person — and it doesn’t matter if that person is you.

Love is the moment when you finally solve the puzzle in the reading.

Such feeling of success, of becoming a better you fulfill your life. ”

Sadly. Love in 2017 is something you always mention to get more “hearts” on Facebook and Instagram. Just like a beautiful dress you earn money for — while doing some boring job. I have seen so many single people pretending they are in a relationship, while they are dealing with a miserable life themselves.

To be honest, I will not socialize with a goal of finding a relationship. It is mindblowing for me to talk to people, especially people of another gender: I have to always find a new topic to keep the conversation flowing, and at the same time I want to give a good image of myself.

Things that stay won’t come easily.

Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people – the ones who really belong in your life – will come to you. And stay.