If only Saruman could be Finnish.

My number one just got knocked of his number one pedestal cos guess what – Sir Christopher Lee has brought out a christmas album a wee while back and it is amazing. It’s whatever the metal equivalent of pouring liquid velvet in your ears, cos of that voice. But then with metal. If only Saruman could be Finnish.

That put me straight in a jollier mood. I am somewhat of a christmas freak, not for religiosity per se, but for the cosiness of it all. If you’re lucky it might even snow (not for us sad saps in the low lands, though. A bishop from Spain brings us a round of gifts already on December 5, and there’s usually a festive load of rain come christmas. We’d find ourselves sitting round a fake tree, watching Home Alone where the flakes come down with buckets while outside it pours like during the days of Noah), and snow we like. Taking out the bike, trashing and slashing down a road that looks like a pristine newborn baby’s blanket. Just like Lorelai Gilmore I, too, have massive Snowdar.

Holidays are a time of joy, hope, reflection, heaps of chocolate and for once a wee drink here and there is not so much frowned upon, as well encouraged. ‘Pikkujoulu’ they do here; little Christmas. If you’re lucky there’s fifty of these celebrations crammed within the same weekend. l’Chaim. For our office’s pikkujoulu we had crappy Chinese in a deserted restaurant. The chef cooked according to the Belgian school; he provided us with load after load of foodstuffs dripping and steaming straight from the deep fryer (dumplings, peking duck, apples, uruk-hai, it didnae matter) which did not impress me much despite of the lazy Susan. Still, a nice gesture it seemed. Also there was wine.

The day before the event Empress Oink had instructed us (or apparently she meant to) on the do’s and dont’s of the evening. There were a lot. She tried to point them all out in the most incoherent speech I have ever had the displeasure of witnessing. I knew the Chinese have a knack for holding long, exhausting speeches and my boss insisted to make her countrymen proud. Thirty minutes came and went, confusing looks were exchanged. I had to re-assure with a coworker afterwards on the contents of the seemingly never ending slew of word vomit. Something about toilets, coffee breaks, coffee in the toilet. Something about the others -mates from the other store. there must have been a point somewhere, but I couldn’t decipher it from the gibberish in chinglish.

Thankfully there was wine. A bottle conveniently found it’s way smack next to my plate (terve kaveri!). The bottle did not leave from there, I made damn well sure it wouldn’t. Three glasses sort of made the evening slightly cosy, and also was the location close to home, so I could bike. Cycling clears the head even better, though the contents of that speech still haunt me. I made sure not to make too much eyecontact with the Others (they sat far away, so no worries there), and I want to stop talking about this evening now; it was a while back and there was wine, and that was all there is to it.

Friday is the pikkujoulu with the grownups from school. I know they can tank, and also we did a project on wine, so a little accumulative research is in order methinks. I want to elaborate on Empress Oink and the other fritters at my office so much, but I need to find out first in what way it interferes with my hefty confidentiality paper thing. I shall ask the grownups. They’re grownups, they know what to do.

 

It gets wild. People as far as the eye can see. Guomao at peak rush hour.

‘Doris, go shopping!’ he said. He meant the bookstore, but I’ve been there already too many times; I’m barred. So off to Fida I went, on my trusted vehicle.

I am not one for shopping. Stockmann in particular makes me nauseous. Too many pompous people, who are studying the ceiling with their nose in the air pompously, whilst marching, plowing as on a battlefield with ferocity -and whilst looking ridiculously pompous- through the crowds of peasants and serfs, through piles of pompous knickknacks, as if the Swedes were due back here any moment. I saw Kirsi P, I am pretty damn sure of it. For me that’s a big deal, he couldn’t care less.

My dear fellow, apple of my eye, man’s best friend etc. let me wait. Surrounded by the skirmish that is Helsinki during the holiday season (it gets wild. People as far as the eye can see. Guomao at peak rush hour) I put myself under the clock, which is where a lot of people like to meet. There’s also a tram stop, and a Christmas market, and the clock hangs smack above the middle of an entrance. People galore.

Les People, the good folks, the laobaixing -there is a time and a place for everyone and everything, and today was clearly neither time nor place. From the moment I fetched my vehicle from the valet (= took bike from shed), people had universally agreed to be in my way. It was a done deal. Shadows on my path, from the island well onto the bike rack (I love me a good bike rack, don’t you?). The shrieking hordes began to well take shape before the gates with the twinkly lights. Apparently there’s some sort of a window display but I was none the wiser as I made my way to the clock, losing a shoe and half an arm in the process.

My gawsh, the vicious crowds.

And he made me wait, which is not that big of deal, except that today the menacing crowds were so much harder to deal with than usual. As that Frenchman once said: hell, it’s the others. Pinching and shoving and bumping and glaring, there they all were. I was after all the thing standing between them and the things in dire need of consumption, therefore I must have deserved the pinching and the poking and the toe-stomping somewhat. Therefore, when invited to join in the mayhem, I politely ignored the invitation to treat (Doris, go shopping! Go and consume, you woman!) there and then, and took to my vehicle (bike against rack) after our business was done with.

Now, there’s three UFF’s, two Fida’s and two Lidl’s on the way home.  It would be rude to not grace at least one of these institutions with a presence. Fida it was. Three shirts that I cannot wear until the temperatures are back in the double digits again – minus a student discount. As I zipped up my coat, a few posters congratulated me on the fact that my purchases had helped a school get writing equipment, and a girl got a little push in the back on her road on becoming a teacher. I’ll happily wait those fourteen months before it’s acceptable to wear sleeveless again.

 

 

 

And what’s worse, they’ve figured out that windows are basically a hoax. Or: Doris and the Domesticated Tit.

There was another encounter with a bird the other day. I don’t know anymore, about me and the birds. I think I’m being nice, putting food out way before that is even necessary. nice, and egocentric, cos I like having things moving around at the other side of the window. Makes it easier for me to sit down at my desk and do things. Scratch the niceness, those birds are being tolerated on my balcony purely for my entertainment and peace of mind.

My master-plan backfired somewhat. I took to the store and returned triumphantly with a decent German food-chain, or ‘Futterkette’. Peanuts and bits of tree and all that kind of stuff birds go num-nuts over. Methinks a philanthropist I shall play, but then  only with birds. A packet consisting of eight equal parts chow, ready to be turned into big piles of feather, ready for the winter. Last year all types of feathered friends found their way to the balcony, so this year would be just as fun, I thought. I thought.

There was ruffling of feathers, if I may say so, a mere minutes after I put the thing up. We are used to put clothes outside to air but we can’t, now that our balcony has turned into birdshit-ground zero. The moment you peek your head outside the door you’ll get dive-bombed. And what’s worse, they’ve figured out that windows are basically a hoax.

On a faithful morning, let’s say it was Wednesday, I was woken up by a  rustling of sorts. There was something moving about in my pencil vase that was not supposed to be moving about there. As I shot up the ceiling, it became apparent a bird had made its way to beyond the window (I’m one of those crazy snow people who insists on having the window open even if hell is about to freeze over). This happened before a summer ago, when the window was slightly more inviting for what’s outside to hop in. Wednesday, it was not. Yet somehow a bird made it through.

Birdie insisted to stay in, as we have such a lovely place. A pencil vase is a brilliant place to plan spawn into come spring. And please plant more poop onto my window sill! Perhaps this means good luck in Finland, I have no idea. Either way, I had just rudely been awakened -not a morning person, it takes about a barrel of coffee to make me civil, and then breakfast (brekkie! most important meal of the day folks), face painting, finding furniture with toes and knees, putting pants on, off, skirts, tights, ripping a hole into the tights so the tights need -MUST- be swapped for tights without holes, swap skirt, fall down, get up.

Getting on with it, I had just been rudely awakened. Staggering about, thinking what to do with the bird, perhaps keeping it in and making it docile (Doris and the Domesticated Tit), having it braid my hair just like in those Disney movies… but sooner rather than later it became apparent the bird would have to take back into nature. The other side of the window. Now, with a mind having the viscosity of lukewarm cauliflower at this hour, how would one possibly go about this?

Trying to persuade the bird to go back through the crack in the window, that’s right! Birds are smart and not at all skittish, they could easily follow my train of thought. Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong. Bird freaked out by me approaching the curtains, as a bird should. Bird went in between the two windows (we’re in Finland where all the windows come in two), insisting this was the way out. It was not. Bird took a dump.

I went outside trying to give the bird some space, and to chase the rest of the tribe of the railing (one bird in the building is quite enough, mind you). Came back in and made a second attempt in persuading bird to go whence he came. Yonder, beyond the glass. Of course, bird doesn’t like big yellow dish-gloves (thought that’s be wise) coming at him so after bird took another dump, bird took to the living room. There was now a living bird flopping, flipping and flapping about in our living room. I stayed behind in the bedroom horrified, hoping and praying it’d at least find a place to roost. It sort of hung above the curtain rail at some point. I managed to sneak out, open the door, and stay out on the balcony until birdie finally bolted out with a determination I have never seen in a bird.

And so concludes the quest of Doris and the Domesticated Tit (I really like that title). i am too afraid to keep the window open now so at night it’s like I’m slowly being toasted, like a marshmallow.

Image result for bob's burgers marshmallow

 

 

 

‘Copper Scoundrel’ we say in the lands below the sea.

says facebook:
Good evening Doris! (there’s nothing good here, you fools)
 
‘tomorrow will be a bright and sunny day. Why don’t you go outside and enjoy it!’ (yea, like them normal peoples? Like them hipsters? Be vegan and politically correct in the sunshine? Wait while I hoist myself onto my vehicle!!)
 
Facebook how dare you. If you’d know me any better (and I’m surprised you don’t considering all the data mining and whatnot) you’d know that I loathe sunshine. Loathe. Sunshine is the worst. ‘Copper Scoundrel’ we say in the lands below the sea.
 
Sunshine makes the anxiety skyrocket. It blinds me as I sit here typing during the day. Sunshine is the work of the devil, as far as I’m concerned. Clouds is all I need. Monday was a damn fine day, weatherwise. Sunday too. Just hide that damn sun and we won’t have any trouble.
 
Foggy weather brings joy. Clouds make me get stuff done. Snow and ice – I can only dream still at this point, but the snowy picture on the news this morning made my mouth water.
 
Shove your sunshine where the sun won’t shine! oh, wait……

However, a magical childhood comforting drink containing this perfect ingredient is somehow vacant.

When times of hardship are upon us, we tend to grasp back into the warmth or a childhood memory. When times get tough, when folks are rude at the office, when people bugger off to Germany, when the wind is blowing against yet again, we find ourselves in search for something comforting. Something we know.

Back in Holland we have a brand of chocolate milk called ‘Chocomel’ (de enige echte), and their stuff is what some dreams are made out of. The perfect cold chocolate milk, slightly thick, creamy and delicious. Dutch kids run on this stuff, and I needed my fix today more than ever.

Now, here in Finland they do a lot of things very well. Saunas, for instance, and pancakes, and campfires, and hockey, and education, and many more things. They also make this stuff called ‘Fazer Sininen’, the best chocolate every to be conceived upon this planet. However, a magical childhood comforting drink containing this perfect ingredient is somehow vacant.

There is no decent cold chocolate milk drink in the supermarkets in Finland.

We’re deprived! No Chocomel for those in dire need. There is some protein-stuff that gets close but I try to stay away from those space packets out of principle. Those items are meant to be consumed by people to enjoy going to the gym, and I have never even set one foot in a gym ever. And I pride myself of that fact. Gymdrinks do not provide comfort to those in need!

Times like these also call for projects. Projects take the mind of things dark and depressing. Projects make busy, and projects can be fun. I will haul a container of the good stuff from yonder to here. People of Finland, rejoice!

 

 

Tall, dark and handsome – as the rum, he is now gone.

Today ended on a somewhat sad note for me. I want to curl into a pile of sadness and cry with long, loud HUUHUUHUUHUUHUUHUUHUUHUUUUU-noises, like a 5 year old whose bike has been taken to Germany for no goddamn good reason. I mean no disrespect for my eastern neighbors. They’re good people. Perhaps should not have made the bike joke as my kind takes those matters rather seriously, and before you know it they’ll be at the border with pitchforks, tomatoes and whatnot.

Anyways.

I read something tonight. It shook me to the very core. It almost made my eyes bleed. It made me sad. I ran through the house like a headless chicken before I realized there were two more minutes to make it to the supermarket to get a beverage. Of course I have the stamina of a chainsmoker ( I might as well start…), despite biking to work every day, but still I reached the fridge just in time. A small, futile victory. Allow me to elaborate.

The kamikaze-king of hockey minded Finland has flown the coop. The beer is gone and the rum, the rum is gone. The one and only source of unlimited inspiration for many a school paper has turned off the sauna to find his luck elsewhere. Germany has just become a little more awesomer-er. Tall, dark and handsome – as the rum, he is now gone.

Hockey  (and rabid fangirl behavior) is something new for me. My affiliation with sports is that I dislike it. When something comes flying at my face, I duck (right?). Then  along came this magical troupe from Finland. They played something called ice-hockey. My affiliation with this thing was that I had heard of it. According to my brother it was the reason why the Dutch Olympic team was so small.

However, these folks played sports like I had never seen it before. There were shirts in black and yellow. There was passion and fire. There was a ruggedness – in this sport one guys can bash into another guy, and they both remain standing. There is no room for divas on the ice. Where teeth get knocked out and limbs smashed asunder, egos seemed to remain unbruised. This one dude always did a fantastic job at the smashing around.

The name is Sami Venäläinen and the amount of games he played within this great nation is over eight hundred. In China the number ‘8’ is considered to be the luckiest of numbers, and perhaps also here. The man has been a fixture on the Finnish hockey scene and maybe it’s about damn time his epicness is being rewarded elsewhere. It makes me, however, sad. A marvel of human engineering, he always managed to be everywhere. Zooming from one far end to the other he’d leave some poor bugger at the receiving end of his charge a shivering mess. He’d score  and co-score the most beautiful goals last season -the ones I mime (still) until exhausted.

It’s the end of a era. Tall, dark and handsome – as the rum, he is now gone. Sadness, all around. He will be missed, this beacon of handesomeness and badassery. The ice will be a little less epic on this side of the Baltics. I’ll keep my eye out for another kamikaze but am doubtful I’ll find it. Little aspiring hockey dudes can look up to this man for guidance.

edit: the ‘legend vs. fixture’  debate will open up soon. 

#14

2016 is turning out to be a (censored) year. All of the brilliant ones are leaving for the chocolate factory one by one. First Bowie, then Rickman, and now mister Johan Cruyff went on to join them, delighting them with his epic one liners no doubt.

Cruyff is usually the only person from my country people start talking about almost immediately once they’ve figured out where I am from. That’s all, perhaps, they need to know.

I was not very much involved in football -only when the national team would make serious progress I’d come out and have a pint or two. Still, we would use Cruyff’s euphemisms throughout the day. His one-liners could be found in our newspapers and in our schoolbooks. Wisdom.

‘Every advantage has it’s disadvantage.’

‘Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.’

Among many other pearls of wisdom. Truth be told – we could not always follow him but now I can see what he’s talking about. It’s a little more clear now I’m sort of a sports fanatic (sitting, watching and being loud).

Under an epic, classical tune, there is only this to say: Bye mr. Cruyff… your legacy of one-liners -among other strokes of brilliance- will not be forgotten.

#14.

Larry proved of no help tonight.

They say that the best business ideas are born out of a sense of grievance; an idea for that thing that is bugging you. So far I only got the idea to start my own lingerie label as there are no bras out there for awesometastic skinny-but-curvy ladies. We need more, though.
I have put on ‘Curb’, with Larry David. He has on average about 4-5 grievances per episode, and usually it’s about small things. A very fertile ground for new business ideas, because as always the devil is in the details. Those minor little nasty things that start to f** around when they need not to.
All Larry brought to the table tonight was a dating service that sets you up with unattractive ladies so you seem more reliable, a one-armed cab hauling service and a ski that comes in two pieces, which you then can assemble on the spot. Larry proved of no help tonight.
The bugging thing is a good lead, though. Many things bug me. The easiest thing to deal with them is usually something like chocolate, or a blowtorch, but maybe there is an invention out there that can be of help when things go pearshaped.
  1. A fast-lane for the sidewalk. I need one of these, and quick. When the masses move at a glacial pace and there is no way out other than to jump in front of a bus, we need a fast lane. For those people who want to go home at the end of the day.
  2. Vety-scissors. Maybe this one is too Finland-specific. But I would like there to be a device out there that helps me cut my meatpies beautifully and without a hassle. Without them falling apart and exploding in the microwave.
  3. Something with a magnet. I lost the initial idea here, but I will try to circle back to it later. Magnets are cool, though

Are you getting my point? Am I bugging you? Good! Now let’s drum up some business.

I also learned the art of killing darlings.

A short essay on what I learnt from a course given at my dear school, taught by a dear teacher who just last week retired:

There are always a million answers to the question of why someone fails to succeed. A bad economic situation, bad timing, being in the wrong place, not qualified enough or perhaps too qualified and many more. The aim of this course for me was to either silence these questions, or to try and answer them at least. Having taken a somewhat unusual course through life, my head is always full of doubts and ‘yes, but’s’. My former classmates must be merrily graduated by now and have no doubt a comfy job in a mundane office. Instead of mundanity I chose adventure a few years back, and I often feel like that decision is haunting me.

Writing a CV that actually does something for you turns out to be tricky, and this portion of the course proved incredibly valuable for me. It was refreshing to slash and burn through my CV; I cannot comprehend how it could have ever helped me in the way it was. I also learned the art of killing darlings. I think writing is one of my fortes, and with every opportunity given I want to flaunt my craft. Resumes and cover letters are places where it’s better to keep things short, and to the point. This is something I struggle with, as it turns out. During the interview exercise my interviewer would get a life story in return of any question she would ask me.

There is only some much that can be accomplished in one week, but with the help of a passionate teacher you will, by the end of the week, have all the tools you need to start moving a mountain. Our teacher has many success stories to share of jobseekers who at first seemed unsuccessful in their search of suitable employment here in Finland, but after a helping hand managed to get the job they wanted. These stories gave me a bit of hope, too. I am doing open studies at the moment and it often makes me feel as if I am not in school; I am just playing around. The one instance where an open studies attendee managed to land a job where the advertisement stated ‘Master’s Degree’ gave me an enormous boost.

What I will obviously remember from this course, is that I too have something to offer the world. I too have a value. My path may be unusual, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to contribute. And that means I need not breathe out, now, and sit back down on the couch. Satenik’s talk proved to be an eye-opener. During seven months this girl spent Monday to Friday, three to four hours a day, sifting through job advertisements, writing and re-writing resumes and cover letters. Getting a job isn’t simply shouting ‘I’m available!’ into a void. Getting work is hard work.

I would feel the obligation to engage in some sort of intergalactic small-talk.

Should you feel the need have lunch at the same time as I do, please do me a kindness: do not sit one table from me, facing me. It is unbelievably awkward and will actually cause me to eat slower.

Should you decide to join my table – which you can always ask, especially when you know me and we share a class, do sit across from me. If I have a book in front of me (usually the case) you will have the duty of holding up the conversation. If this is too much of a burden for you, please join another table. ‘

Deciding to sit down one table further down the road (or in this case lunch hall, corridor, tube-shaped area with tables and seats) and plopping down on the seat facing me is a bad idea. It makes me feel unbelievably awkward,  as I would feel the obligation to engage in some sort of intergalactic small-talk, which would have to bridge all of this space for some reason spacing between us. Leaving two halves of a table between us makes it impossible for me to have small-talk related discourse. Phrases such as ‘hello’  and ‘hyvää ruokahalua’  I don’t want to have to shout, nor repeat 7 times.

I know you, we’ve met on several occasions and have had deep discussions on Sake, religion and mental illnesses and how every Russian is some sort of revolutionary business genius. This, in my opinion, makes us better acquainted than two random people in a supermarket or, say, a lunch line.

The minute I look up from my plate there’s eye contact. I have to waste time and energy to decide whether to say something or not, or awkwardly look away, whilst I could have enjoyed my meal over a book.

‘but Doris’, you might ask ‘couldn’t you just ignore the fellow? Can you just not care’ Yes, perhaps that would have been a good idea. But you know, manners. It’s rude to slap someone with silence, particularly when  you know them. Also, I am a tad insecure. I can never not care whether people may or may not care on what it is that I deal with at that precise moment. Did that make sense? No? One word: self-conscious. Maybe that was two, but now you get the point.

Could you please do me a kindness and not make my lunch break so excruciating? I like lunch! And most of the week it’s the only meal I got (school schedule is doing wondrous things for my diet). Join me at the same table, or not, and allow me to chew in peace.