I'm really bad with names. It's not because I'm inconsiderate, or a bad listener. It's just that as soon as I'm introduced to someone new, I typically have a lot of explaining to do. My mom (a native Icelander) named me Katla (pronounced Cot-La), which also happens to be a subglacial Volcano in the south of Iceland. Every time I meet someone and they ask about the name's origin, I become the unofficial authority of that weird, paradoxical island everyone heard of once in geography class. By the time I'm done explaining the Greenland/Iceland opposite name nonsense, I'm forced to ask, "Sorry, what was your name again?"
I really had no idea that everyone was walking around so perplexed, their heads filled with seemingly-googlable queries about Iceland. "Is it really cold there? Are there polar bears? Is it really green, and Greenland is really icy?" are some of the more common ones. Yes, people. I know you've never met an Icelandic person before, and yes I know the answers to these questions. I can even tell you some more bizarre trivia, such as how the prisons are basically nice houses for "sleeping one off" in, or how there are no guns or armies and pretty much everyone's white. You know a place is odd when Bjork is the "celebrity ambassador," I agree, but I'm tired of the ignorance. That's why I'm optimistic about this volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, finally erupting and focusing the world media lens on Iceland. People are actually talking about Iceland - with people other than myself! Recently, if someone asked me about Iceland, they usually cited a recent article and engaged me in conversation, rather than finally putting to rest whether or not Iceland has summers (They do! With 24-hour daylight!).
There's another facet to Eyjafjallajokull erupting that I've sort of been waiting for my entire life. Mount Katla (that sounds AWESOME) hasn't really erupted since 1918, but is considered one of Iceland's "most feared volcanoes" out the country's three major volcanoes, Hekla, Katla and Grimsvotn (Imagine if my name was Grimsvotn? This blog would be much more aggressive!) what's interesting, and a bit ominous, is that Mount Katla usually erupts whenever Eyjafjallajokull does, but with greater force, thus their moniker "The Angry Sisters." Does this mean I will soon be reading headlines like, "Katla Kills Hundreds," or "Violent Katla Destroys Entire Village"? Or how about "All Fear Katla's Massive Eruption"? Well, if I did, I would be perversely delighted. Wouldn't you?
So, as long as thick volcanic ash is spewing in the air, delaying flights around the world and taking people's minds off of taxes and tea parties, I'm loving it. People are learning about Iceland on their own, and at some point I may be getting the most ridiculous headlines I've ever read professionally framed. Oh yeah, and all that stuff about damages, mass evacuations and danger to people's lives? Well, while I do feel bad about the problems facing my motherland, I'm not the one who decided to settle on a rocky, little hotspot near the arctic circle and nestle villages with active Volcanos. All my family live in or around Reykjavik, so they are safe. Beyond that, Being raised in New York I have pretty limited knowledge on how severe an eruption can be, my sources being "Volcano," "Dante's Peak," and that paper-maiche, baking soda and vinegar experiment from third grade. I hope everyone's OK. That crazy, bad-tasting foam gets everywhere!
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