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…

New England to Long Island

I basically spent all of May to September in the countryside and highlands of Iceland, depriving myself of temperatures over 20`C, with the exception of a few heatwaves that passed thru. I tried to go to Poland in August to soak up some sun, but Warsaw and Gdansk only offered overcast skies and 16`C. Before the sheep round ups, an event that officially marks the end of summer, and inevitably chasing sheep in the snow, I got away to Boston and New York for a week, and finally got me some heat.


I’ve been to Boston, but had never really been to Boston before. Stopping over and passing through never really made me stay to visit, but now my one and only college roommate (and best friend) lives there and gives me plenty of good reason to visit. She’s a smarty pants – doing her master’s at Harvard – and all sorts of mature after leaving her St. Marks Place party apartment in the East Village for a 2-storey house with a backyard in the quiet neighbourhood of Somerville. She gave me a tour of Cambridge and the campus, and barely had enough time to sleep between her endless studying and me nagging for her attention. We ate clam chowder and schmoozed her classmates at a Happy Hour that she organized since she was running for a position in student

Ursula & I at Harvard

politics (which she won). We met up with some other Semester at Sea alumni and reminisced about life on the ship and traveling the world together. I also entertained myself by meeting other friends I knew in Massachusetts, going to the beach, and shopping for the things I can’t afford to buy in Iceland.

I rode the train from Boston to Penn Station without sleeping my last night in Mass, and emerged from the underground a few blocks away from Times Square, dazed and confused. I was suffering some serious culture shock – 4 months of open spaces and more horses than people, to a city corner with more cars and lights and faces than I had seen all summer. I had to reprogram myself to function in the chaos, get an orientation of place and direction, and walk on without looking totally lost. The overwhelment was exciting, it was as if I was in New York City for the first time, like a kid in wonderment sensing all the colours, smells and sounds in high definition.

New York city was sunny and humid, stickiest underground where the intricate web of subways and walkways  intermingle below the streets and avenues of yellow cabs and pedestrians. It took some time to become familiar again, but I never felt guilty of sticking out since everyone and everything seems to fit in to the city puzzle somehow. All the peculiar fashion and unintelligible languages I passed made me feel less foreign, and a weekend trip to Long Island was like becoming part of the ‘in’ crowd.

the beach in Montauk

My friends from the city rented a house together in Montauk, spending every weekend there during the summer. A lot of people do this, but after Labour Day weekend, mostly only locals are left, with the beaches and nightclubs all to themselves, with the same warm weather lasting a few more weeks. We indulged in the sunshine by sailing around the hamptons, sitting on the beach, and drinking cocktails poolside. We went to an art gallery to see a photo exhibition and tasted beer from the Montauk  Brewing company. The warm nights we spent barbequeing on the patio and dancing like crazies on the empty dancefloors. It didn’t matter, since we were always a big enough group of people to have our own party, and our expressive (and excessive) dance moves took up a lot of space.

the dancing crew, sailing

Montauk was a special place – a surf town with alternative and creative culture, mixed with an artsy, upper-class eliteness you can’t get quite as friendly with. Its a slow and spread out place, with a beach or harbour always a stones throw away, but enough forests between that deer graze along the road, barely shying at your headlights. You need a car to get around, and a lot of money to eat or do anything there, but I’m so grateful for the friends I had to share this little piece of paradise with me.