I took a beer from the fridge and drank it.

You’re not listening to me.

When we started our conversation -a two-way dialogue, an interaction, if you must- not monologue, I stated I would only be available today. Heute. I had a marvelous time, but unfortunately, our relationship has come to an end. Our day in the sun has ended. It is no more.

My legs spoke ‘YES!!!!!’ before my brain, nay, heart could even react, as I have not been on a runway for so very, very long. I have been craving walking in a straight line -stopping- turning, and walking back, all the way. Opportunity came in the shape of a message on instagram (@dutchdoris), asking if I had time to walk. Of course my legs went ‘Yass! Gahdd! Let’s GO!’ but I still had to cross t’s, dot i’s, and of course ask my agency for permission. That’s polite, and professional.

Before I knew it I was on a ferry to Suomenlinna (Suomenlinna in summer – never a punishment), heels in tow, as well as my bike cos the bike goes where I go. It’s sort of inevitable. Just as inevitable as that my feet will be on that runway, soon.

The job was unpaid (I just assumed…), but there would be people there. Good heavens, people. Tell me about these people. A random crowd of Chinese tourists would have actually been encouraging (and they were on the boat, smiling merrily). Instead there were the types one usually sees gathering during fashion related events (and only then), even if the connection with fashion is somewhat loosely defined. Green hair, black baggy pants, shiny rectangles blocking their face. I was told an editor of Vogue Mexico was ‘there’.

Darling – you gave me a Norwegian phone number that it was impossible to hear you on, so I only assumed it was ok to get my face colour blocked. Hell of a paintjob. The ladies from the make-up station told me to just use regular soap, and scrub vigorously, as if you’re mad at your damn skin for holding on to that damn paint so damn bloody good. You’re  kind of hovering around in a faux leather outfit that is so faux it makes my eyes hurt a little, and that is about that. You’re not doing much else. My fellow models, I find out not much later, have never set foot on a runway. They’re about 170, most shipped from Estonia, others dragged in from the street mere moments before I hauled my bike through the door.

Today was ok. It was fine taking a ferry to a nice place to walk around in a nice outfit with paint on my head. I took a beer from the fridge and drank it. The reason why I am not over the moon excited, is because today’s event is nothing special. We’ve wiped the dust from our shoes and moved on. It was not the painfully stylish event you painted it out to be. There were people, they stood, watched, left, and that’s all there is to say about them. I got a very nice picture sent, by a very nice photographer to whom I winked as I was quite happy to recognize a friendly face, albeit at the very end of the runway. That was unprofessional, and I apologized., even though the photographer mentioned it was a good thing because now he could at least name on of the ladies walking (paint..).

What truly gets to me is this: I mentioned I was available today. I mentioned I was available today. Today was my day off. Tomorrow is not my day off. Tomorrow I am selling stuff and getting yelled at, for a paycheck. Sunday: same thing. Working for a living is a necessary evil sometimes, and it is inconceivable to me these facts, matters that are simply, do not get through to you -SWEETIE DARLING. I may haul my bike on a ferry tomorrow, but it will be after I finish my dayjob. Remember?  You probably won’t. You’ll call me tomorrow at eight wanting to know why I am not at the harbour. I’ll have to gather all of the patience in the universe, and will explain it to you again.

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. 

We’ve grabbed Maslow by his ankles and shook him violently.

A chapter on motivation from the before mentioned report on ‘individual growth’.

When it comes to the theories presented in our course book and during class, the goal-setting theory speaks to me the most.

Maslow is too damn easy. It cannot be so, that there is this stairs-like construction on which our entire state of mind depends. The stages of neediness or the hierarchy of needs do not cut the mustard anymore I think. Take fast fashion consumption, for instance.

Fast fashion is the work of the devil, as far as I am concerned, for an array of reasons. I won’t go too much into it in this report as the fashion industry should not become the central topic of this piece. Then again, neither is hockey.

But.

As explained in the amazing documentary ‘the True Cost’, there is such a thing as consumptionism. It is the ultimate dream of every advertiser as it is this stage of consumption where the consumer uses the goods that are meant to be used, as goods that are meant to be used up. For example: A car is meant to be used. A woolen overcoat is meant to be used. Cigarettes are meant to be used up. A nice bottle of wine is meant to be used up. What fast fashion has done, is making us treat our second skin –our garments- as a cigarette. We are using our clothes up, usually within a week.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Maslow? Imagine the following: you have lost your house, you have lost your insurance, you have lost your wife, you have lost everything… but you can still buy three t-shirts at H&M. This of course makes you feel like you’re rich; you can still afford a whole bunch of stuff despite having lost many other things. While in reality, you have become poorer and poorer.

Our pyramid is upside-down. We’ve grabbed Maslow by his ankles, shook him violently, and thrown him out in the yard. It is all random, and relative. At the moment, my self-actualization needs are on top at the moment too. I feel that my mental state needs to be taken care of first and foremost, before I can attend to all the other things I need to care about.

Goal setting, however, has proven to work for me. Absolutely. It is the reason I walk through the door every day as a full time student, and not an Open Studies mademoiselle. In my interview I was the only one who had a clear, mathematical path (shortest way from A to B is a straight line) towards the future.

I want to become a fashion broker, specializing in responsibly produced textiles. I want to invent a new way of distributing these amazing goods and presenting them to the world, also in a responsible way. I will specialize in supply chain management, Should this major not be available I will get very, very upset. There. Badabing-badaboom. A lady with a plan.

Everything I do, every assignment I take on, has this goal as underlying thought. Things become so much easier to endure when you have put a price at the end of your journey, something bigger than just a paper that says ‘you’re graduated’. Lack of a goal is pretty much the reason why previous educational experiences turned into dust. When you cannot see why you do something, why do it? Why do we do the things we do and not the things we don’t do, can’t do, won’t do? I believe it is because we put something valuable for us at the finishing line.

#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.

God was rather occupied and we had to wait a while.

Imagine heaven. What would it look like? How would it smell? I got to find out today without having having to actually become a late-student.

We went, today, to a place called heaven. There were heavenly gates, heavenly hordes dressed in white with halo’s, even the nectar of the gods, which bubbles up at the very place. It turns out, one can easily reach the gates of heaven with the help of local transit. Since there now is a railroad to the airport, a wakeful eye decided to shake up most bus lines, and therefore most buses no longer reach the gates of heaven (it could also have been a space-saving measure. Instead, the airport and surrounding areas are now easier accessible. The gateway to hell, according to some).

As we stood for the mighty towering gates, filled with awe and reverence, a heavenly smell started to reach for us from beyond the gates. God was rather occupied and we had to wait a while. Several fortunate souls were apparently equipped with a card of sorts, and could easily walk in and out.

Though our troupe still incomplete, we were finally given permission to enter from afar (like everything in Finland, heaven is a rather horizontal area, where there is no ‘above’  to speak of – there is only ‘far’). And, as mere mortals do, we moved about in forward motion, one foot carefully placed in front of the next, and thus we made our way to The Entrance.

‘Fazer’  it read above the door.

After this everything went slightly foggy. I remember something about a water tap, a lady, a staircase downwards, people dressed in white, as well as an enormous lady dressed in fitness attire. I remember a make-believe cocoa plant with beans the size of an airbag, something with a floor, a lot of blue, and then there were tubs. Heaps and heaps of the heavenly goods laid about, glistening like emeralds, screaming ‘eat us, eat us!’ -and so we did.

As no-one is permitted to carry out the food of the gods back into the land of the living, we were to consume all we could there and then. And so we did.

After the feeding frenzy, as we made our way up again, a ringing started to fill my ears. We were given the water of inner sanctity (it came straight up out of the ground), something with a moving picture, some sort of heavenly supermarket, and before we knew it we were outside again, in the chin chafing cold of the Finnish spring.

It was over.

It is evening now, and I am still not able to position my whole being upright. My ears are still ringing and the uneasy feeling of the nether regions has only just started to fade a little. On the ground, against the couch, is a blue bag. The living and only proof that we, humble business students, in fact, went to heaven today.

 

 

 

 

 

For some reason this amazing sports event never took off below sea-level.

From a report for a course at school. I somehow managed to make this chapter on hockey a logical and appropriate introduction for a chapter on teamwork:

 Something about hockey.

Never have I ever been into sport, yet here we are. Dismembering the couch, yelling at the TV, as if they could hear me. My throat hurts, and so does my brain. They’re doing it again. Exactly now when it really matters, because playoff season is upon us. I made a pact with the devil a while back where, either they win on my birthday, or I am no turning a year older. The perfect pact! Except from the fact that they may not even be in the running anymore by the time it’s my turn to blow out the candles.

That’s boring! Screw the devil! Much more interesting is it to retrace all the steps I took from a bona fide sportophobe to a swearing, poutine-whipping, couch-throwing, beer-flinging, coffee table-hurling hockey fanatic.

The Netherlands are / Holland is (they both mean the same country, and it really does not matter how you call it – except for people living in the low-lands. The argument of where Holland stops and the Netherlands begin is very much alive. The line is only in our heads. Just how the Ural Mountains in Russia are not so much an actual chain of granite teeth but made up for the sake of a division between Europe and Asia on a map) a hockey-vacuum. For some reason this amazing sports event never took off below sea-level. We have the high-speed skating, which we do super well, and we have the field hockey, which we also do super well, but no-one ever thought to put their hands together, big-bang style.

We would watch high speed skating as a family, huddled together on the couch or around the dinner table (skating was one of the only events we’d watch during supper), watching Dutch people for once being really awesome in something. I’d admire the Dutch skating fans, who are insanely outgoing, dress head-to-toe in the most outrageous orange outfits, and then go on cheering on everybody. As I grew up I fell disinterested with the sport- bored even (have you ever watched through the men’s 10 kilometres? Half an hour a set! Nightmare! You just sit there and watch them go round and round and round…). It wasn’t for me anymore.

Field hockey was that thing I could do moderately well –ish in High school gym class. This sport however is something only practiced in sort of posh neighbourhoods, and does therefore deserve to be made fun of. Football, although insanely popular in my country, does not interest me one tiny bit.

Something about this crazy sport makes me jump up with excitement, and curl up in a big bawling ball of sadness other times. I care. Deeply, passionately, loudly. I tend to care very loudly at the TV. I don’t know why. I don’t feel at all inspired to live a healthier life style, or work out more. Never have I ever set foot in a gym, and I never will; I just don’t think it’s normal. The game itself is fun; I love the speed and the energy. There is no room for big egos on the ice.

Of course, watching dudes ram into each other either on the telly or in real life makes for a great evening, but there is something more to this phenomenon. In Dutch, the word is ‘clubliefde’. I only heard that today in a talk with a poet called Jules Deelder. Deelder is one of those people who seems infinitely intertwined with his city (Rotterdam). He tends to be a bit outspoken, and only recently I have been searching for his material.

He is a passionate supporter of a smaller football club from Rotterdam (Sparta), the oldest in the country. I do not care much for football, but the way Deelder passionately cares about his club speaks to me. This passion goes beyond money, or transfers, or performance. It is a sense of belonging to a tribe, a devoted group of people who have but one thing in common: a few colours, a few songs, and a team.

In my case, it is dudes in yellow and black from a town called Lappeenranta, where, incidentally, my boyfriend is from. We have spent a few months there, and for some reason the colours of the local hockey team really managed to stick with me.

‘Clubliefde’ is about this intense sense of belonging. The supporting of something greater than all of us. And when the game is over, and the banners put away, we adjourn wherever it is we adjourn to, the colours of our team we carry onward around our neck, and in our hearts.

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.