Two Birthdays in Ireland

In Goa last year, during our yoga teacher training, Rbberta and I realized we had the same birthday. The only difference was a few years (it was her 60th), but us pisces were drawn to the coast of Northern Ireland to celebrate together.

Roberta and I with Nell

I stayed with Roberta and her husband Brian, and their dog Nell, in Bangor by the sea. Brian had two motorcycles and offered to take me on a roadtrip to the Mourne Mountains and Portaferry and Strangford, where we were hot on the trail of the Games of Thrones doors.

Brian at Bloody Bridge

Robertas daughter joined us for a night out to Portrush for our birthday dinner, where we dined on mostly meats, strangely enough, at the Neptune and Prawn. We walked it off on the strands near by, at Port Stuart and East Strand, and visited the nearby Dunluce Castle.

Dunluce castle on the Causeway Coastal Route

The major highlight, as a good tourist, was the Giants Causeway, where we walked over perfectly formed Basalt columns and admired the giant’s organ. The sun was shining and Northern Ireland couldn’t have been more green, and not to mention warm – it was over 15°c in February!

the Giant´s Causeway

Of course we had to do some yoga together, attending Michael´s and Tom´s classes. We visited Roberta´s second home, the Aurora Rec center where she goes every morning before the crack of dawn to keep her 7% body fat figure… she´s healthier than I´ve ever been and looks younger than me from behind! We swam laps and I played on the slides, trying not to lose my top.

yoga on East Strand

We had many, many birthday cakes, extending the celebration a day longer every time we could make some fun out of it. We had Nepalese food at a restaurant that put up banners and candles for us, and treated us to an entire cake and bottle of Prosecco. I had a slice of cheesecake every day, sometimes twice, and chocolate whenever I could, because I felt I deserved it as an older woman.

happy birthday to us!

The trip was a great success, and I even managed to keep up with my marathon training, believe it or not. We walked Nell, Roberta´s dog whenever we could, and even in the fog and rain, Bangor by the sea was more pleasant to visit in February than I could have imagined.

the harbour in Bangor

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Happy Birthday to me

This year’s attempts to celebrate my birthday with a party or gathering of more than one other person failed miserably after my ability to chose where in the world I’d be was taken from me. Air Iceland and Icelandair seemed to gang up and make sure my birthday plans couldn’t be made until hours before my actual birthday, when I finally landed back in Reykjavik after being stuck in Greenland for five extra days.

I’ll have my cakes and eat them too

We only planned to go to Greenland for three days, so we nearly tripled our holiday. I was there as part of a birthday celebration precursor, since Steve and I had bought the trips as birthday gifts for each other. After the fourth flight was cancelled, it meant I had missed my onward flight to Denver, where I was meant to celebrate my birthday with a Canadian friend for the first few hours, and then fly to LA for a red-carpet movie premier and meet Oprah. It’s hard to replace Clio, or Oprah, but we started planning a birthday party with the other stranded passengers in Ilulissat since we’d slowly started to accept we were never getting home.

cocktails at Sushi Samba

After I finally landed in Reykjavik a few hours before the 26th, I learned the Denver flight had been cancelled, and I was rebooked two days later. This now meant I had all 24 hours of my birthday in Reykjavik, but it was a Monday and noone even knew I was in town. Even with last minute notice, I still got taken out and treated like a princess Sunday night, to dinner at Sushi Samba and a suite downtown, complete with a bubble bath full of bath salts and a bottle of cava at midnight.

At Sumac, post-birthday

I spent February 26th at home with my father, who is more often a resident at the hospital, so that was the best birthday present in itself. I went thru some memory lane moments, eating lunch and dinner at restaurants my parents had owned when I was a child in Iceland. Katrin’s culinary birthday saga went from Italia to Austur India Felagid, the East-Indian company, and ended at the Grill Market for a desert only kings and queens deserve – I’ve never had a more beautiful or complicated birthday cake! Before finally flying out the 27th to Denver, I ate lunch at Reykjavik’s best new restaurant, Sumac Grill + Drinks, with a couple of friends from New York, making it the second smallest birthday event I’ve ever planned.

Spontaneous weekend in Washington, D.C.

 

our wow moment

 Since April 9, I’ve worked almost every day in April and the first part of May trying to pay off the last of my pacific trip… and alot of Svalbard. Even though I had just broke even, I decided to surprise my best friend Ursula in Washington D.C. for her 30th birthday. Her sister Liv had planned a surprise birthday party at her parents, and there were about 15 or 20 close friends and family coming from around the states. I hadn’t seen her in over a year, and I’m totally in love with everything about her, so I bought a cheap ticket with Wow air to Baltimore. The riots had mostly ended and Wow air had just started flying there, so the fare was totally worth it for 3 days.

 

one of our many brunches

 The night before I flew out, I stayed up late packing with my roommate Anja. We checked the weather forecast and it said 30`c… within another hour, and a few glasses of bubbly, Anja had also booked herself a last minute weekend trip to D.C. Her flight was even cheaper than mine, and we met 12 hours later at the airport with one big purse as a carry on.

  

the birthday girl

 The first night we hung out with a mutual friend of mine and Ursula’s who had also been on Semester at Sea with us back in fall 2006. Jessica had friends in DC that took us out and I met up with a Navy seal I first hung out with in Palau a few months ago. The big party day was Saturday, and every day basically had the same formula: all day brunching, with bottomless mamosas or bloody maries, and all night wining and dining, with some added margaritas or dancing. We ate mostly mexican food and shopped for cheap summer clothes, and one night we slept in a firehall (long story). Every day was warmer than 30`c, and it turns out we didn’t pack light enough. We could have walked around in short shorts and a tshirt everywhere, but we had brought pants and sweaters we only needed on the flight home.

Saipan & Guam

When you’re in Guam, everyone tells you to skip Saipan, and when you’re in Saipan, everyone asks why you’d bother going to Guam. I don’t understand why there’s so much hate between them, since they’re really similar, very close to eachother, and share a common Chamorro heritage, but its just as confusing how they’re not the same country when one is an American unincorporated territory and the other one an American commonwealth. They both have a lot of American military, mostly navy guys affectionately called ‘ship guys’ in Saipan. Guam has a fully operational naval base and air force, teeming with weapons, planes, helicopters, ships, submarines and muscly guys.

the lovely Hyatt beach in Garapan

the lovely Hyatt beach in Garapan

I didn’t see or feel much of the military presence, but both my hosts were navy guys. Dale was a rescue swimmer and just finishing up his 4 year contract on Guam, so we celebrated that and my birthday with a bucket of beers on the beach. My other host was a 40-something year old retired navy guy, and now spends his time scuba diving and working at a scuba dive shop.

me and Kevin drinking from our sippy cups on Managaha island

me and Kevin drinking from our sippy cups on Managaha island

In Saipan I stayed with couchsurfers who worked at the hospital, but they were all from mainland America and still acted like the probably did as freshmen in university. Kevin was always RTR, ‘ready to rage’ – his reference to any sort of drinking or dancing; his roomate was a retired Special ops military guy who took me out to a rotating restaurant (housed in the previous Nauru embassy from back in the golden days) and popped champagne on the beach for me; and his best friend took me on a sunset dinner cruise for my birthday that I had to carry him home from (it was all you can drink screwdrivers and he was finished before sunset). Needless to say we raged together and with half of Saipan, and I acquired alot more party friends along the way. Patty was bat shit crazy, in the best kind of way, and cooked us the most amazing spread of chamorro food. I had lunch dates with her and with another doctor I met who got drunk after one sip of rose. We had brunch with bottomless mamosas at the Hyatt, and toured the islands tourist attraction (most of them being kind of morbid Japanese/American conflict points during WWII).

Patty and her brother join me for yet another beach day

Patty and her brother join me for yet another beach day

In addition to some sun and sand, I felt like Saipan was the Vegas of the pacific, not just for me but all of mainland asia, since downtown Garapan has more Chinese, Japanese and Korean shops and signage than anything else. It’s a raging resorty destination for alot of sunshine seekers, and pampers well with spas and restaurants for honeymooners to love. I had my 21st birthday in Vegas, and celebrating my 28th birthday in Saipan will be just as memorable. But maybe its time to grow up a little for the next one – Im getting too old for this kind of raging. (*thank you Kevin for a 5 day hangover!)

Birthdays and stars in the City of Angels and Joshua Tree

I started reaping the benefits of a family member working for Icelandair with me and my cousins Boston trip, but then I dragged her to LA to reap all the benefits of my former California livin´, dreams and friends included.

cruisin down Venice beach

We were picked up at LAX airport by a friend from San Diego, who spent the day with us sightseeing Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Hollywood´s many sunny boulevards. We met uncountable crazies at Venice beach, zooming past us on skateboards yelling ”Under the sea!”, and even the trademark Harry Perry came by playing electrical guitar on his rollerblades. We got our own bicycle cruisers to join in on the boardwalk fun, almost got Sara tattooed,  and were asked forgiveness by the street folk who were either constantly cat calling or asking for weed money.

We went in and out of tourist shops to buy postcards and souvenirs, but otherwise we blended in perfectly fine. I´m not sure if that´s a good or bad thing, but we were also a bit crazy. Sara´s favourite store was the CVS pharmacy (which she could have spent an hour in just ´browsing´), and I insisted on beer and mexican food as our only staples for the entire 5 days we were in California. We drank oversized coffees and In n Out burger as a couple exceptions to the rule, and tried not to look like kids in a candy store everytime we went shopping for clothes – the prices and selections of things were overwhelming to us Reykjavik dwelling girls.

Luke at the Fonda Theatre box office

We were staying with my friend Luke, who works for the concert promoting company Golden Voice. We went to a concert with him on Hollywood Boulevard, where he worked the Fonda Theatre´s box office. There´s an amazing roof top terrace at the Fonda, where we watched Amon Tobin perform, and learned that the bartenders there really like vodka cranberry. We got stuck in ridiculous traffic getting out there, and could only laugh insensitively at Luke´s road rage (favourite quote: ”For the love. of. GOD. GOOO!”). There was another friend of Lukes throwing a birthday party on Feb 28th that we atttended, and didnt realize it was a black-tie/Cocktail dress event, so we ended up looking pretty silly in my new Lululemon yoga jacket and Luke´s faded leather jacket.

Sky House view

Luke and I have a mutual friend named Bracewell from northern California, who I went to school with at UBC, but me and Luke had never met until he came to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves ´12 and crashed on my couch in exchange for an all-access pass to the festival. Under those kinds of circumstances, youre bound to become best friends, and we also have our birthdays 4 days apart, so the main mission of this vacation was to meet Luke and the house he rented in Joshua Tree for a weekend out in the desert, celebrating our getting older.

the Joshua Tree

The house was called ´Skyhouse´, perched on top of a hill looking over the town of Joshua Tree and with the national park to the east. The star gazing at night was inexplicable, with numerous firepits and a hottub outside to enjoy it from. The house is meant to sleep 6 people comfortably, we invited about 20, and somehow 26 people showed up. Three of my Berkeley friends (and some of my most favouritest people in life) drove 8 hours+ to join us, Bracewell came, and my startruck cousin was there, which was more of a birthday gift than I could ask for. Sara was star struck because the rest of Luke´s band members showed up, Y Luv (who make great music, by the way… check out their facebook page), and one could safely say their young, bandly influences started rubbing off on her pretty quick…

Pioneer town saloon

We had a day long photo shoot in the desert, compliments of Mike Reiter (whose birthday is also the last week of Feb), after hiking 5 miles around Joshua Tree trails. We visited Pioneer Town, a small village outside of Joshua Tree that was built as the set of a Hollywood western movie and stayed on as a regular street in Pioneer town. I found some big western horses to cuddle there, as per usual, and even rode one that I couldn´t get one without standing on a hay bale for leverage.

We finally drove back to LA, in half the time that it took to leave LA (the traffic is unbelievable in that city), and had one last birthday shebang on Abbot Kinney street in Venice. My friend Jake, who I met in Reykjavik working on visual effects for a Baltazar Kormakur film, had just gotten back to LA after 4 months in Iceland. He took us out to the Taste Kitchen, followed by the best butterscotch dessert in the world at Gjelinas. His music movie producer friend Peter Harding joined us, and gave us a sneak preview to a John Martin film he´s making. He makes all sorts of promotional material for artists and music, and his 9 minute short on Swedish House Mafia´s angelic voice made me totally John Martin star struck.

Hope, half clydesdale

After a few days in the city of Angels, and glimpsing into the lives of Hollywoods gear grinders, we both left LA sunkissed, star struck and shop crazed, with repeated promises to come back soon and relentless attempts to invite our hosts back to Iceland again.

February is Birthday Month

Today is my 26th birthday, and I know I’m getting older because I actually lost count of years and tried to convince my mother the other day that I was still 24. I started semi-celebrating my birthday 10 days ago with a brownie and cake baking night with my gay best friend and Bavarian roommate. We invited 8 people and 2 showed up, so needless to say we ate alot of cake and brownies. My first birthday gift came 5 days early, an electrical piano I bought from me to me. Its the most expensive thing I own, and also the most beautiful, so I just needed a good excuse to buy it for myself.

The next birthday celebration was a day tour to Njala Country, a saga trail in southern Iceland tracing the life and times of Gunnar and Njall. We visited the hypothetical site of Njall’s burning, an excavated farm house found with traces of fire and whey milk that supposedly was used to try and put out the fire. After getting soggy shoes on a wet, windy day in the countryside, I had a series of birthday cocktails at the new student bar Studentakjallarinn with another February birthday friend.

Three days before my birthday, me and my cousin arrived to my best friend Ursula’s house in Boston to celebrate another night in Harvard Square. Random friends from Germany, New York, Berkeley, and Boston joined, as well as some strangers, and I ended up with only one person I knew at a frat house with people smoking cigars in a fireside room the size of a gymnasium. Two days before my birthday, we cuddled up inside Ursula’s living room watching all the red carpet pre-Oscars action and finally the Academy awards. After 10 hours of watching tv and $50 worth of take out chinese, it had become all white outside with snow.

On my birthday eve, I met up with a friend from Boston at the Boston Brew Works restaurant, accross from Fenway Park. We ate poutine and wings with blueberry beer, and then watched Imagine Dragons at the House of Blues. I thought we were going to see blues, but after Atlas Genius opened, I realized we were not at a blues concert.

imagine dragons at HoB Boston

The day of my birthday started with a work session in the Harvard Business school, where me and Sara pretended to be studious alongside a bunch of real business graduates. I was asked to collect my own birthday gift package from Ursula from Fedex, and did so a bit rushed, getting a little lost, but finally did so, only to realize it was a St. Patricks day leprechaun hat meant for Ursula. But Sara got me roses, which made up for missing fedex packages, and Ursula’s mom gave me a 3D map of Iceland, which was an unexpected cherry on the top.

We had sushi and wine for lunch, and then the most amazing dinner at Legal Sea food. It had been organized through a friend of a friend of a friend, and included cocktails, champagne, wine, all the seafood and shellfish you could dream of, surf and turf mains, and finally a happy birthday song to present the icecream dessert.

Sara and Ursula at Legal Sea Food

By the time my birthday was over, I barely had any time to take it all in before boarding a 7 am plane to LA. Now the birthday fun will continue with 3 other friends I have in California also celebrating their February birthdays…

Status Update

I just arrived in St. Croix, USVI, on a one way ticket with nowhere to be til mid April. My college roomate and best friend Ursula spent the last week with me getting into all sorts of trouble.

We met nearly everyone on the island in a matter of a few days, and made it to St. John for a couple days. Then we visited St. Thomas for a few days where I investigated my grandfathers’ life and history that I had never known. He was born in 1921, his middle name was Archibald, and he was a quarter black. That makes me a sixteenth black and I have 5 other aunties I know nothing about, much less their children, my cousins.

My 25th birthday was on Sunday and we rang it in at midnight on Saturday with a big bang. I had a boneless chicken-stuffed roti for dinner at Singhs restaurant in Christiansted, and Mr. Singh himself came to The Courtyard club at midnight to buy us a birthday drink after treating us to oxtail and doubles for dessert. The Courtyard owner did the same, and invited us out for a boat cruise, snorkel tour and unlimited rum punch the next morning. So I turned a-quarter-of-a-century with a big fat smile on my face.

I was anxiously awaiting my Phd interview results from Copenhagen and just got my rejection letter about 45 mins ago. I placed 14th out of 22 interviewees in which only the first 11 were offered paid research positions. Im a little disappointed, to make an understatement, and now have no idea what my plan or purpose is for the next 3 years. I just spent half an hour talking to a corrections officer/ dog trainer who has been been to jail 3 times in 3 different countries, and he’s convinced me that life isnt a bowl of cherries all the time, so Im gonna chew up this sour grape and spit out some wine.

Cheers 🙂