Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

The Hangover

Sunday, July 4

Opening hours are a tricky thing. The optimum balance of cost of operation and profit in a time period is one that has to be struck carefully if a business is to survive. Then there are transient businesses that can either operate independently or adhere to a strict cultural concept of appropriate times. Just as you are to show at 7 for a dinner party starting at 7, and at 9 for a party starting at 7, there are understood cultural rules for times. Yard sales in the US are on Saturday mornings – a time that is not too hot, not too cold, works for frugal elderly and soccer moms alike. Yard sales, or rather rummage sales, are a Saturday morning thing in Iceland too. When too tired from a Friday night party, this means that much of the culture of the city passes me by in the hours where I need sleep.

Oddly, despite the heavy partying of the city on Friday, no locals seem to have this problem and all come out at reasonable times on Satuday for a day filled with errands, wandering, shopping and socializing. All of our local friends were around – one for a BBQ, one for wandering, and one for chatting. And after a late Saturday night, refusing to miss another day of culture, I woke early to say goodbye to Elena and hit the streets. I was alone in this goal.

On Sunday, Iceland seems hungover. Art galleries don’t open. Fashion houses have limited hours. Bars are empty and coffee shops only marginally better. No one calls you up to be social and no one seems interested in hanging out. In the southern US, Sunday is a day of rest and family time, or sports viewing, that has built up due to a heavy Christian influence of Sunday as the Lord’s day. In Iceland, a Christian country more in name than action, Sunday as the day of rest seems more likely a product of the party hard culture than of religious designation.

As such, the city is yours to walk more than any other time of the day.

This Sunday in particular is a rough one. With Dan and Elena gone, the trip has transitioned to a new pace. The car is gone, and we’re left with 5 days before homelife comes back into focus. The trip isn’t necessarily winding down, but the default is to feel like it is. The stores are closed, the chatter of the city quieted, my energy levels down from lack of sleep and rough living. I’ve consumed more alcohol on this trip than previously this year and smoked more cigarettes than in the past 3 months. My sleep schedule is worse than it ever was in college. And since the sun never sets my body doesn’t really get tired so much as just collapse at appropriate times. Most nights I decide to go to sleep before I yawn, which at 5 in the morning seems like a good decision.

This Sunday is a day for deep breaths and preparation. Constant stimulation results in decreased sensitivity. This trip has been so much up with little down time. My body needs to rest, and the lack of a high is experienced as a low, even though nothing is actually wrong. Such is the complication of too much of a good thing.

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2010 by in Iceland.

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