Written and posted on November 17, 2018
I don't mind flying. Don't mind it at all, actually. I love being in between Here and There. The flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was not even 8 hours so that didn't leave much time to sleep - what with the couple of meals and beverage service and all-you-can-watch movies at your fingertips. I tried to sleep but by time I was sleepy enough, I was distracted with the views, flying over the north Atlantic, Ireland, and the UK, then onto continental Europe.
The last time I was in the Frankfurt airport was on New Year's Day, 1991, when I was in Germany visiting my high school boyfriend, Florian. At 6am, I could not discern any recognizable features. It was a simple, one-hour layover before I boarded my flight for Oslo.
7:30am in Frankfurt, 11:30pm in Albuquerque. I was now officially sleepy. I slept for much of this easy, direct, not-full flight before waking up to take in my first glimpses of Norway.
From the air, I spotted a large Norwegian flag on a farm house and remembered that May 17 is Norwegian Constitution Day, an official public holiday to celebrate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814.
It is always, always awesome to arrive somewhere new. Knowing that I was about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime made it all the more exciting and surreal.
As a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, I traveled to Svalbard in May 2018! Thanks to Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic for supporting teachers and encouraging us to be explorers.
Some of the text shared here was written in my journal or through social media posts while I was on expedition.
But much of the writing shared here was written in the months following my return home.
I had this idea that I would embark on my journey and, in real time, reflect and write and create blog posts and videos and online albums and photo books and postcards. I had fantasies of sitting in the ship's library with my pen and notebook, collecting and composing what I'd seen and experienced and manifesting deep, profound thoughts.
Yeah. That didn't happen.
My experience was so intense, so surreal, that I had difficulty finding adequate words to describe it all. Silly, inconsequential, and unsatisfying words were all I had - great, amazing, unbelievable, incredible. At the end of each day I would try. After dinner, somewhere between 10pm and midnight, I'd make my way up to the library to write. But I would get distracted. The large, glorious, gorgeous windows were too inviting and each moment was unique. The clouds were shifting, the water was moving, the ship was in motion, the ice upon the water was drifting. Each and every moment was unique.
My eyes were up and wide open. I was outside on the deck feeling the cold air and the lightly falling snow on my face. Or I was sitting on the bridge, snuggled in warmth, with a pair of binoculars looking looking looking. Oh, I tried to shift my thinking to writing something more than a bulleted list, but I just couldn't pull it off.
To put it simply, I couldn't focus.
I coined my condition Wonder-Induced ADD.
It is a beautiful affliction to have.
This blog is dedicated to my aunt, Tina Chavez, who is always my biggest fan and supporter. When I told her about my expedition to the Arctic, she asked, "So, when do you go on the Polar Bear Express?"
She also told me to run fast from the polar bears, but naming this blog "Run, Jen, Run!" isn't as charming as calling it "The Polar Bear Express."