04 November 2008

new stuff

On Friday my office moved for the third time since I came to Iceland. I swear my destiny in this country is to put things into boxes and take them out again- six house moves and three office moves in three years is kind of a lot.

But this move is the best yet. My commute is less than half as long (and at 16 minutes it was hardly a stress before), my post-work trip to the pool now only a few blocks long. The office is an entire floor at the top of a building along what some call Reykjavík's "Wall Street", perhaps the reason why this space lingered empty for some time. It's a grand spot though, where I can watch the weather sweeping over Esja and the sea, or the pointed spires that top the skyline of downtown. The color scheme here is warm- wooden floors and rusty orange-red, the space full of air and light, exactly the place one wants to spend the darkening days of Icelandic winter.

I've also taken up running in the past month, and discovered that what S said is true- this country is surprisingly good for running with all these flat distances and excellent lighting at night. It's just a bit terrifying when the weather factor is added to the mix but this is a good time in Iceland to work on toughness and feeling fierce. Nothing like battling a windy snowstorm in the dark to really feel euphoric in the hot tubs afterwards (and that of course is yet another reason it's awesome to run here- the hot tub is massive drawing incentive to get the whole painful running part over with). Plus, it's a nicely inexpensive hobby to be investing in during these times, and reminds me of what is great about life here. The mountains haven't changed, the fresh air, the smell of the sea- they're all there and as exhilarating as ever.

But the fallout is indeed starting to happen- companies are folding with little advance notice, others are trimming staff, trimming salaries, trimming extras, doing whatever they can to stay just the slightest bit above water. Prices on things have increased, in some cases extremely, like medicine that was 5200isk in early October was 6200isk on Saturday. I'm hoping it was just because I was at a different store. In other cases the price change was less than rumored, like with the story about the alcohol prices going up 20-30% over the weekend. The information on the Vínbúð website says it was a 5.25% increase, but when S and I went for some bottles of wine on Friday evening, the shop was crammed with people and the shelves alarmingly picked over. Trust it that Icelanders don't panic about food shortage rumors being published internationally, but a whiff of trouble with the supply of booze and everyone's running to stock up.

In spite of it all I remain here, grateful for my job and all the strangely happy circumstances surrounding it, for my great coworkers and friends here, for my thrifty New England upbringing, for these opportunities to go all homemaker and make the good food at home instead of going out for it, for working on homemade Christmas gifts, for nice plans ahead with family and those I most want to spend time with. Sometimes I do wish I weren't on the frontlines of this terrifying moment in history but it has chosen me to somehow be part of it and I'm not ready to leave yet. Sometimes I do get discouraged too, but I remember that I'm among the most fortunate here- mobile and young enough to leave should the need arise, with a job here and a lifestyle that's well below my means so I can afford to choose my path.

And as I sat at the dinnertable at my choir's annual party on Saturday I thought of how much has happened in the years here, how the reasons for my moving here are so different from the reasons that keep me here now. I love that my own life surprises me, that I can have these moments of "wow" when I step outside of whatever I'm doing and look at how things are unfolding. Yeah, I'm posting a lot of Pollyana lately but what else can I do? I can't make the monetary policies here, all I can do is keep doing my best with where I am, and being grateful for all that I have, which is really quite a lot.


tsduff said...

As always, thanks for your post. Imagine that... I'm here in the proverbial "land of plenty" with no job and none in immediate sight, whilst you are in the amazing country of Iceland, employed, well fed, and surrounded by wonderful life as it occurs. Truly your circumstances are out of the ordinary... I remember well your saga of journeying to Iceland and the amazing beginnings you have had there. I still model my dreams after your experiences and haven't stopped plotting my eventual arrival on the lava shores of that beloved rock. Ha ha on the report of the booze shortage... I can relate :)

koivis said...

Greetings from Belgium. Nice website, please visit my websites (blogs) on: http://www.bloggen.be/yarnotte/ and http://blog.seniorennet.be/koivis/ so the flag of Iceland will be on the blogs. Thanks. You can also leave a message in the shoutbox or guestbook.

alcan said...

"mobile and young enough to leave"

If your escape option is returning to the US, then you may just be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Northern musings said...

It has been a while since i last visited, loved this post - it enbodies so much of what i feel about life here. Life is Good

ECS said...

tsduff: you've got hopes for change in the US now that I don't think Iceland is feeling right now though! I think part of why I'm working on the feeling-grateful is because there are plenty of ways to feel like life sucks but that doesn't really make for a great life. So positivity it is for me.

koivis: um.. thanks?

alcan: there are lots more countries in the world than Iceland and the US, so moving west is definitely not my #1 thought.

musings: I'm not sure at this point if the positivity is for me or for others. I definitely have moments when I'm feeling quite the opposite but somehow I don't want to write about that.

Mal said...

I must disagree with you on this. Iceland is probably the worst location for running.
I had to quit running outside last year. Wind gusts were way to irregular and its power made the session hardly breathable.
But I guess I was just too close to the shore...

In another subject, it's funny I also had to move office too. I left - "The city" - Borgatún for the Kopavógur countryside ;)