Going to Iceland: I’ve bought tickets to Iceland and Norway for a trip in early September. That’s factually incorrect. Mr. Visa bought them for me. I hope someday to pay him back.
(The tickets for going to Iceland and Norway were surprisingly affordable. According to the New York Times, it’s once you arrive in Oslo, Norway that the money starts to hemorrhage from your pockets.)
The baby is going to Iceland too.
I would be worrying, already, about the logistics of air travel with an almost two-year-old, how I’ll manage to get all the interviews I need to get done done, the cold, the jet lag, and the fact that I don’t speak a word of Icelandic or Norwegian, but it’s been a sad week:
😢 We found out that James’s aunt’s cancer has returned in full force and that one of her lungs has collapsed;
😢 I heard from my dear friend Holly that her three-year-old will have to go under general anesthesia to have her decaying front teeth fixed, and also will need to be scheduled for another heart surgery soon.
😢 My good friend was sent back to jail on a non-specific parole violation with no explanation, put on ice in a cell and told nothing.
Then I started reading the summer New Yorker issue in which novelist Alexandar Hemon describes how doctors discover a cancerous tumor in his 9-month-old’s brain.
In light of this, my ridiculous worries (that my house won’t be clean enough for my aunt and Nobel-prize-winning uncle who are coming for dinner tonight, visiting from Brookline, that I won’t be able to fit enough cloth diapers in my carry-on for the two-week trip) seem so trivial and selfish that I won’t allow myself to indulge in them.
That was a long aside. The point is the baby and I are going to Iceland. And Norway.
I’ll be interviewing obstetricians and midwives and breastfeeding advocates and government officials to investigate why and how these countries have such positive maternal and fetal outcomes (unlike in the United States).
In Norway I’ll also visit the lab of one of the country’s best cell biologists, Morton Laane, and together we’ll look under a microscope at human breast milk and he’ll help me understand what we see.
Morten’s a photography buff and offered to take pictures, and also to film our microscopic encounters (you can see one of his photographs at #7 in this post). My publisher is hoping to include some digital backstory in the e-version of the book!
But I know embarrassingly little about each country and need a crash course. Watching movies is one of my favorite ways to get a window into a culture.
My friend Sandy recommended Elling, which looks delightful, but is not available on live-streaming.
So last night James and I watched Jar City, an Icelandic whodunit about a very nasty man found murdered in his very nasty bottom-floor apartment.
Jar City starts with a heartbreaking scene in the hospital where a young girl is sick.
Her father sits by her bedside and sings her a lullaby. Then the movie begins to follow the lonely detective, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, investigating the murder.
We see Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson eating the eyeball of a sheep with a Swiss Army knife, refusing to give his adult daughter money for drugs, and slowly piecing together the clues about the murder of a man that no one was sorry to see dead.
Dark as it was, I enjoyed every minute of the movie, and am looking forward to watching more.
Do you think movies are a good way to learn about other people? Do you have favorite foreign films that help you better understand other cultures? Any suggestions of good Icelandic or Norwegian movies or books?
Published: June 28, 2011
Updated: January 18, 2020