laugardagur, mars 29, 2008


On a whim, I searched for the phrase "sand dogs." I found this. It seems to be an orphan page. "Microscopica," if it was ever a going project, is now defunct.

þriðjudagur, mars 25, 2008


Things I have cooked for kind men:
  • Leeks
  • Lamb stew
  • Vatnsdeigsbollur
  • Angelhair
  • Pears in red wine
  • Whole trout


Things I have cooked for unkind men:
  • Beef tenderloin
  • Indonesian rice
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Breakfast

laugardagur, mars 22, 2008


Dreams of you are out of season, but then you weren't actually in this one.

There were several of us in what was meant to be your apartment. There many rooms, beautifully and extravagantly decorated. Nothing was as I remembered it. Each boasted a heavy, Jacobean piece, deeply carved. I guessed that these had been taken out of storage, and I remarked on them. Já, gott að þeir fá að njóta sín. (Who was the speaker? A lackadaisical guide of some kind.) I was surprised at the half-wall. The apartments hung out over a huge open space like the balcony of the theater. Construction was taking place down there.

Walking out, I saw a wall hung with clothing on hangers, some of it children's clothes, little suits from a hundred years ago. (They were too rich to have been yours; you were born in a dirt-floor house and grew up poor.) What will happen to the clothes? I asked. No one answered, and then we were outside and the door shut behind us.

fimmtudagur, mars 20, 2008

í neðanjarðarlestarstöðinni

I'd said it right, but tracing the letters with my forefinger I couldn't decide whether it was -ar or -ir. Ég er að tapa niður íslenskunni, segi ég. Mér sýnist ekki, segir hann. We walk. It is sunny.

She has long, wavy honey-colored hair and the long limbs of a beauty in the theater. Here, she says. Since you're interested in language. Heitir það að hekla eða að [eitthvert sagnorð sem ég næ ekki] hekl? I hesitate, trying to reconcile the two phrases, half sure that the second means "to drop a stitch," though it can't. Hekla, segir hún. Það er gamalt orð. I am still confused. En hvernig var frasinn?

She gets distracted as we reach the subway entrance. Down we go. I sit astride a triangular-eared dog, not much larger than a shepherd, and I feel badly for my mount as he jounces down the concrete stairway. He doesn't seem overburdened.

Now I need my wallet from our friend in order to pay. He is riding around on his baggage now. He takes it out of an inside pocket, and I thank him. Where are we going?

mánudagur, mars 17, 2008


She starts talking to me out of the blue. Adolescently awkward, dark eyeliner, low-cut jeans, her arms folded around the pillow she's brought with her. The case is printed with characters from an animated film. I am sure she is fifteen until she mentions her husband.

She is going back to Indiana. She doesn't want to go. She had so loved being up there. The best place she'd been. She says something about her husband and the base and another thing I don't catch at all, though it might have been about deployment. She shows me a bruise on her wrist and tells me about her father. Am I more a religious person or a spiritual person? She used to be really into Wicca, but not anymore. She tells me about her wedding dress and about what her in-laws said.

We are hurtling through the air, and still everything seems airless: nothing holding up the plane and nothing inside to breathe.

We stop in Anchorage. The mountains are just fading out of dark blue visibility into charcoal and blackness. We'll be on the same flight onward, she says, but meanwhile she's going to the lounge. She's military, so she gets to wait in the lounge.

When we board again, I do not see her.

fimmtudagur, mars 13, 2008

á ferð og flugi

I used to wonder, in my unnecessarily anxious childhood imaginings, what would it would be like if it happened on a plane in flight.

I can tell you this: The whistle is annoying until I truly wake up and see her facing down the aisle past me. “Hello! Emergency!” and then the whistle again. She is small. Her practical white hair caps her head and frames the glasses that frame her face. Her glance is intense. (No wonder.) I don’t see the color of her eyes. Her whistle is through the teeth, loud and stern, what I’ve always thought of as a country whistle. I can imagine rowdy children being called to order and inside with a whistle like that. I can imagine her having had rowdy children at some point.

The attendants do not run up and down the aisle, but they do walk purposefully. An oxygen tank is carried forward. Later, a black bag the size of a large purse. Still later the steward tries, unsuccessfully, to palm a stethoscope as he moves past. It turns out there is someone, anyone on board, maybe a nurse. They ask over the intercom just like you’d think.

The polite among us try not to gawk, but it is all going on just inches above the level of our eyes where, I learned once in a Conan Doyle story, people are most likely to focus their attention. If I crane my neck, I can see his wavy white hair over the back of his headrest. I work on not craning my neck.

Now they’re starting the movie. It’s a farce of a fairytale. The girl will get her prince, and after ninety minutes or so we will be told that they live happily ever after.

þriðjudagur, mars 11, 2008

how to walk on two-day pack

Press down with your heels. Do not push back with your balls of your feet: you have no grip, and you will only kick the air and kiss the ice. Press down with your heels, one after the other, and let your body drift forward as you rise and fall with it. Press, press, press. Hear the voice of your long-ago riding instructor telling you to let your heels sink behind the stirrup irons. Do not stand forward on the balls of your feet: the horse will turn and you will fall over its neck. Hold your shoulders easy. The horse will feel it if you tense them. It will throw him off his stride, and when he stumbles, you will go tumbling backward over his haunches.

Press down with your heels and post along.

sunnudagur, mars 09, 2008


The snow building up against the window glass looks like travertine.

I learn that it is lapis tiburtinus, the stone of Tibur, that is Tivoli. For me, Tivoli is a pleasure garden in Copenhagen. Its name is another tiny gesture towards a long-standing Northern fascination with an imagined, exotic, leisured south. Last I was there, there was nonetheless snow, if only the artificial sort sifted over a life-sized diorama of secular Christmas. When in Iceland, a tivoli is a traveling carnival, called, of course, after the garden in Copenhagen. All carnivals in Iceland are traveling, I think. I remember a ferris wheel unfolding quayside in Reykjavík in 1998. I was so struck by the notion of a carnival moving by sea.

I learned the word tivoli late, another new sound offered on the seductive tongue of the North. I learned the word travertine when I was still very young. It was a word for talking about buildings and geology. They were related for me, a small person inquisitive about things my own height: the wainscotting, the chair rail, the doorknob. If the wall were clad in stone, I would want to know which stone it was.

My father worked in a tall building with a lobby entirely clad in travertine. Its whiteness was so different from the dirty gray streets of the urban empire outside. Waiting for the elevator with my mother, waiting to ascend into the world of powerful men, I would poke the stubby edge of my fingernail into the holes and crevices.
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