Monday, June 29, 2009

NOT Pollyanna

What's wrong dear?

Well, a lot of positivity went down the drain yesterday and up came some bugs. Not fictional bugs either. Real, awful, silvery things that scatter when I turn on the light in the bathroom. Harmless says Google, but disgusting nonetheless. And they seem to be feeding on the positivity so that there's almost none left.

Bugs you say? I thought you were in Finland and all was peachy keen and clean?

Yeah. Well. It is. For the most part. I guess I just forgot that all places have an underbelly and that only thing that will make you forget about that reality are the people. And if there's a glitch on that front you end up disregarding the good things pretty quick.

You're being very cryptic? Don't tell me. Have you been working on your novel again? That always makes you all weird in the head.

Wow, thanks. Didn't think I was being "all weird in the head," but now I know better. Thanks for the positive affirmation, dude.

Aww, don't be like that sweetums. You know what I mean. You get all weird and cryptic-like and find it hard to concentrate on such mundane things like taking a shower and switching off things. No fires this time around I assume? Eyebrows in place?

Ha ha. Really. So funny. You got it. Why don't you just go and perform somewhere while I concentrate on doing something worthwhile like really finishing something I've started. I don't need your platitudes right now. Thanks.

I'm sorry dear. I didn't mean it like that. You're nice and pretty and all... So really? You're gonna start writing again?

Well, I was really hung over tired on the train coming back from Helsinki and felt just a tad too unfocused to be reading Foucault's Pendulum, which is just da (literary reference) bomb and requires some actual brainpower and then sorta suddenly as I was watching the houses of Hämeenlinna come into view my hand just reached into my bag and pulled out my notebook and a pen, which was designed by NASA, and writes upside down, and is the coolest shit ever. Got it from a friend for my 30th. Wanna see?

Sure honey!

It's all rainbow-y like, and so fokken cool. I don't think you've seen my Moleskine notebooks either. They are a ple - a - sure to take notes in and I feel like a real writer when I crack open one. And they don't have any coffee stains yet. Aren't they all smooth and writer-y?

You do know that you can't just make up words for your novel. Especially by just adding one letter to make an adjective out of a noun. Perhaps you're just being a tad lazy, pumpkin?

Thanks again, dude! I was the one being all negative and down, and I thought you were gonna try to pep me up some and be supportive and shit, and you just put me down. What's that all about, dawg? And it doesn't even sound like you want to hear about my novel. You just quiz me about my pen and notebook. Way to be encouraging! As if it's all about the props...

Hrahm? ...So tell me about this novel, shug.

Well, you know how I realized that I didn't really like any of the characters and that I thought they were just all a bit too sad and unhappy?


So I made some notes trying to find out what happens and who actually pulls through and is like the one that the reader will identify with and I'm like way closer to finding out who that is and can actually write something that peeps will wanna read. isn't that cool? Now I just need to think and be all in my own little cocoon and lay off the Blogger and make this shit happen! Whatcha think?

That's really nice dear. But won't your followers on Blogger feel like you might just be neglecting them a little bit. They did decide to follow you and many of them comment a lot, which I know for a fact you survive complete days on, so you can't just stop blogging all together.

I never said I was stopping, dude?!?! I just said I need to focus on some other shit too and make this thing happen, and fokken finish something without having to race a deadline. I really should be able to at least find out what happens to the peeps in my novel. Right?

Of course, my darling. Just, stop by here every once in a while and tell us stories of your travels. Wont you? Now go pour some boiling water down the drain to exterminate the bugs, and then tell me more about these characters of yours...?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Helsinki is in Funland

I got on the train to go to the capital of Finland, Helsinki, early Friday morning to go meet with a great group of women I used to hang out with in Mexico. We used to do crafts for charity.

You read it correctly. We used to do crafts for charity.

I know you might be flabbergasted, but it's true. I can knit, crochet, make jewelry, stained glass, bake, paint, sew, and be all warm and fuzzy and personable at fundraisers and fairs. And I do smile occasionally.

So now you know. Don't be flabbergasted no more, when I'm outed on several blogs, including my own, as having sides that don't involve drinking or being all evil. I'm a well-rounded individual.

But I digress.

This group of friends I was in Helsinki to meet is an awesome one. We are different ages, from different backgrounds, with very different interests and aspirations, and very different lives. However, while we were all in Mexico City we put all that baggage and personality on a special shelf away from reach and worked our asses off to make a better day for people who needed for there to be a better day. And in the midst of this effort we became great friends.

And what is greater than seeing old friends, letting your hair down (or letting it stand every which way in my case, and not doing anything to raccoon-eyes that one has to sport after all the flippen golfing in the sun) and going to a (I later found out gay, which explains why I was eventually practically thrown out for taking pictures) club. And only returning home at 4am while gazing up at the most amazing sunrise (which really is a mix of a sunset and sunrise, because at this time of the year the sun doesn't really set or rise, it just stays up in the sky)

Anyhoodles, it was FUN.

The sunset at 2am. On our way from club 1, a courtyard terrace, to club 2, a suspicious karaoke bar.

We ordered some caipirinhas, but were possibly speaking Spanish and ended with some strawberry margaritas instead.

  And then we landed in the gay club.
And engaged in some creative use of the camera. (i.e. point, shoot, hold still for a long time, while sipping your drink...)
Only to return while the sun was rising again at 4am. Beautiful.   

Friday, June 26, 2009

A positively sweet post. WTF?!?!

For Zeus' sake. Now she's posting pictures of flowers. What's next? Babies? 

I have been sitting here on the computer a while now. Racking my brains for something to write about. Right now. Tonight. To be posted tomorrow whilst I'm on the train to meet with a great group of friends from Mexico. Because I could not go without posting at least once this weekend, hey?

I know the internets have a decent death-hold on my sorry ass, but what is there to do? Stop? No, I mean really.

And then I started thinking. There was that rash but necessary post about not having friends in SA that resulted in some sizable repercussions. For the better I presume, but still. One doesn't ever intentionally set out to hurt another person, even if one is me (or any of my warring personalities). So I thought that I needed to write about friendship some more.

And also, there was that thing about me coming off scary and mean, and I thought I would show you the side of me that has friends, not just minions (although they are seriously cool too, and everyone should get some, like right now, and get the mixed bag, they're the most versatile). And also to show you that I can actually have friends who are not necessarily bleeps, but good, honest RWP. Scary but true.

Because there are people who like to spend time with me, even if they are settling the restaurant bill.
In no specific order:

There's Lady Kicks, who came to visit me in South Africa, after our not having communicated in about 15 years, and we picked up right where we left off back in the early 90s (with some wisdom, and far better hair and hygiene richer). Turns out that today we support entirely different political parties, we don't like the same books, we see work and having a career through very different goggles (mine are the wine-variety), and we have extremely different views on what is fashionable. Still, we get on like a house on fire. I love this woman to bits and feel sorry for myself when I think of the 15 years I could have had her as my friend. Well, there's still time, and her pullout-couch is surprisingly excellent to sleep on.

There's Gringa, who I'll be visiting in the US, when the other blog campers will be having fun at Blog Camp 1.5 in England (or thereabouts). This woman can talk books with me for hours, have long lunches fueled by some bottles of Prosecco and then die of laughter while watching Hugh Hefner's girlfriends on 'Girls Next Door' (or as it is called in Mexico 'The Girls of the Playboy Mansion' because that sounds far more Mexican) never having seen the show before, while she waits for the buzz to die so she can contemplate driving home to her little pueblito to her esposo and crazy cat. This woman got me through several awkward talks with my Mexican maid, and her and her husband let us crash family parties, and without her my fundraising attempts would have remained just that, attempts. Only after about a hundred phone calls soliciting money or goods for our charitable ends did she tell me that she hates making phone calls and sort of has a phobia. She used to be a bleep and when she stopped our world died a little.

There's Ph.D. Mommy, who I see every time I'm in Denmark. This woman will write to me about how good SouleMama's blog is and that while SouleMama was on hiatus she followed my blog instead, but "what the fok is up with you playing golf?" Brutal honesty, and brutal love. When I and my husband first decided that it would be a good career move for him to start traveling 200 some days a year this woman was the person who would always have coffee with me, drink wine with me, talk books and theory with me, and never let a good opportunity for the occasional talking trash about another student pass by. She was and is supercool and supersmart, and will some day soon take a very obscure niche of the academia by storm. Those three guys are in for a surprise!

There's Zara in Paris, who I hadn't seen for a while, because she is far too busy being all executive like all over the universe and busy champagne tasting on several different vineyards. And she doesn't get Facebook. But, once she blew into town there was talk like there can only be talk with someone who has different views on the world and world-related stuff than you, but is able to see and appreciate your point of view and discuss without the slightest hint of disagreement. This is the woman who made me feel welcome, and who made me belong in Mexico, and then abandoned me to a guy who drove the entire length of my one-way street the wrong way, drunk on tequila, to drop me off at my house, because I didn't know where I live. She is a bleep, but she keeps it quiet, and Finnish, which is just too, too bad for you guys.

There's Missus Ambassador, who I see in Finland, or in Joburg, or in Mexico, or... This woman has taught me so much. She has lived her life on several different continents and countries, raised two awesome international, multinational and global children, and is still best friends with her husband. And boy, she can tell an intestinal parasite story like you've never heard before. She has gotten to see the world before it got all global and shit, and still she manages to find places where mere mortals rarely tread. This woman always makes me feel at home and at ease, and when I told everyone we were moving to Jo'burg she was the one who said "you'll love Africa". I am so lucky we click.

There are others too, but these women are the ones I think of as my 'in case hubby dies, or is swallowed up by a giant alien ship, or a very large cat' network. Apart from my parents, these are the people whose numbers I will be dialing in any large cat related disappearance or other disaster. Theirs and my bleeps'.

I love you guys. Yes, all of you.

In case you haven't read everything I ever wrote.
Bleep - A blogging peep, exists on the internets and puts her thoughts into an odd little (and sometimes big and widespread) space called a blog. Everyone's doing it now. If you're not, What's that all about?
RWP - Real World People. The people who live outside of your 'puter and usually make your life hard by existing. Sometimes they are nice and have heard the word blog before, but mostly they crowd trains, and get in front of you in the grocery store line. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And the summer is finally here.

However, so is heat stroke.

Note to self: Wear a hat playing golf out there in the heat, around noon, you stupid, practically bald woman. Otherwise you will not only scorch your scalp, but boil your brain too. Whatever there is left of it. And let's be honest: You ain't got too much to spare.

No, sunglasses really don't count as a hat, not even if you keep thinking that they're almost like a hat. That is the kind of wishful thinking universe doesn't give a shit about. And if you say it out loud, people will just laugh. So keep quiet about this and wear a fokken hat.

So is life. Get on board.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The repercussions of Blog Camp

Regardless of what I said in my previous post about trying to get back to normal after the awesomeness of Blog Camp, I must admit that I'm not quite succeeding. There have been several repercussions to having taken part in one of the coolest experiences in a long time (should not value BC higher than my wedding day and officially I'm not. Love you Hubby!).

There have been some very good things to come out of this experience and some very bad things as well. Turns out the world is a highly complex place and involves more things than commenting, eating, sleeping, taking a dump, and drinking wine/coffee. And I thought I was doing so well. It can take an awesome thing like a virtual friendship come an actual friendship to arrive to some realizations. You decide which ones are positive and which ones are negative:

:: I can no longer go away for a whole day with my parents to visit my cool grandparents and godparents (Yup. Have been baptized. Why are you holding that cross in front of me like that? Was I hissing? Really?) without feeling like a) I have been cut off from the world, and b) I'm letting folks down by not having an iPhone and tweeting the whole experience, including my grandpa's rather insightful questions concerning South Africa (no sarcasm in this).

:: I have to start noting, not when I'm joking, but instead when I'm not being sarcastic. I know that it might not always seem like it, but I too can be pleasant and leave comments with no sarcasm to them. I can. And when I am being sarcastic and you just don't get it (or don't want to get it), feel free to take the comment at face value. I'm cool with that. Whatever rocks your boat, or blows your hair back, or gives you the kicks, or makes your ferret run, or paints your world all pink and shit. I'm cool.

:: I need to sleep more than 26 hours within the span of 6 days in order to keep my sanity and not yell "There was so much stuff, I can't be expected to tell you every single thing right now" at Hubby on Skype when all he said was "It seems like you had fun at Blog Camp."

:: There are cons to living in South Africa. No one is willing to come there for Blog Camp (even if they can stay at my nondescript, army-colored, oddly decorated house), and I can't be jetting off to Europe, or USA constantly draining every single cent we have ever saved up. And SA is big, even Molly, who is also in SA, is a nice 12 hour drive away. And then there's VEG, who I would kill to hang out with (not kill her, that would just defeat the purpose), who is pretty much as far away from me as anyone ever could be. But maybe our next posting will be in Asia and then I'll really feel far away, and wish I was in SA. Silver lining?

:: One weekend is not enough time to talk about everything one has always wanted to talk about with her friends.

:: There are really cool things to this here blogging/internets thing, which I would be very much taking advantage of, if I just even knew how to properly use my computer. I refresh way too much, instead of surfing everyone else's blogs too. Oh, and I don't really see that changing, which is kind of sad.

:: I should really have answered all of the comments on the last 5 or so posts before answering them got much too overwhelming. Now I'm just putting off answering, and hoping that perhaps the energy-fairy will do it for me. Or the gods of Blogger. Or that my posts will be rained out by Google (who controls the weather as julochka has noted on several occasions), rendering them a flood site with restricted access. Or something. Please, just something.

:: I thought it would not be possible for me to ignore a book club, but alas that seems to have happened. But now I've at least read the book, and fallen in love with Murakami. I will write a post about it. I will.

:: I don't know where all of my time goes. I think I just move slower than your average person, since there never seems to be any actual proof of me having done anything tangible. I think I do a lot of thinking and possibly freeze up to do said thinking.

:: I blog best about the small inconsequential things. If too much stuff goes on, I find it hard to put it into words that also make sense and give a coherent account. I could never be a travel writer. I don't think my mind(s) work in your normal sort of way.

:: I'm weird about following and commenting. And in a much nicer way too than what you are thinking right now.

:: I put too much faith into the internets. If your comments don't appear in my hotmail inbox in a smooth succession I refuse to believe you actually commented although I can see that you did if I look at the actual post. There is no way Blogger could be having an issue with this, not so soon after having an issue with spacing... No way!

:: I wish I could go out to lunch with julochka, B, Polly, Kristina, Seaside Girl, VEG, Erin, Opie, Molly, Iasa, Cyndy, Kristine, and many other bloggers (sorry am feeling lazy and overwhelmed by laundry today) at least every now and then. And you just can't have a virtual lunch that would ever equal an actual one.

:: A blog doesn't need to be bad for me to not follow it, it just might not be that interesting to me.

:: Having coffee from various different Starbucks cups (and swigging from other people's cups when no one is watching) is almost like being in Starbucks, only with more light and much better seating.

:: Education is key, or at least intelligence.

:: I might want to own an apartment someday that I would care enough about to actually paint the walls in my favorite color. A house or an apartment can really reflect one's personality, and even add to it. In a good way.

:: When you tell everyone that you pick your nose and fart they don't take you seriously. And it is still possible to fart at blog camp with everyone turning the blind eye the unsmelling nostril.

:: My hair has begun to stand up without the encouragement of a hairdryer. This is a great victory for all Finns out there who can now be liberated from the prison that is flat hair, unless you spend copious amounts of money on product and copious amounts of time on blowdrying the 15 strands of your Zeus-given hair. Hurrah!

:: Me never having shaved my legs in my life can indeed come up in a discussion at Starbucks, only minutes after meeting all of the blog camp chicks and can be segued into from a story about Seaside Girl's father.

:: If Google translates my blog into Spanish the header reads "Lo Que Nunca Voy a Hacer con mi Vida" or "What will I Never do with my Life". I'm thinking that header suits me much better and I might just go with that from now on.

:: Cool notebooks are COOL.

:: Clean socks are not a must amongst friends.

:: There might be people out there in the blogosphere who, after reading my blog, would not want to meet me on account of being scared of me. I had no idea I come off as that evil.

:: I might never finish that book that I'm working on, because the pull of the blogosphere is not letting up. With Blog Camp it just got more powerful than ever before. Is there a support group for this that doesn't exist on the internets? Because I know how to open several tabs at once and could not avoid doing that during a Bloggers Anonymous meeting. 

Have a lovely day! (not being sarcastic, or am I?)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manifestations of mental health.

I'm trying to get back to my normal life and my remaining vacation in Finland (I know. Vacation from what? Ha ha.) after the uniquely awesome experience that was blog camp. It's not easy, I tell you. But I'm trying. We are still continuing the fun on the blog camp blog though so be sure to check in. Once you're done with mine of course.

Me first.

Anyhoodles and all that, what am I up to then now that I have burnt all possible bridges between myself and many of my blogging pals just by meeting them in person? (I'm just kidding. They all loved me. What's not to love? Swearing is the new black apparently.)

Well, I'm pretty much up to nothing. Much.

Today's highlights have included:

Watching an Italian tourist getting on the wrong train at Helsinki main station and panicking when he couldn't make the door open again. Instead of pressing the big green button with the word 'OPEN' directly above it, he kept going for the 'call for assistance' button or some such thing. I think plenty of people would not have minded opening the door for him from the outside right away (instead of pretending like they didn't notice and watching him for anti-Finnish slurs) had he not looked quite so much like Berlusconi - one of Finland's pet peeves. I can report though that he should by now safely be in Oulu, his intended destination. We did not send him to Joensuu after all. We didn't even make him eat Finnish pizza. He only looks like Berlusconi, we understood. We're smart like that, we are.

Listening to an old lady with more luggage in several small bags than you think would be possible to hold onto all at once arguing very persistently but extremely politely over a seat on the train with a young wannabe fashionista who had been "working all night at ...(insert profession that comes to your mind here. I immediately went the call girl route) and just wanted to sleep", only to discover that the senior citizen's ticket wasn't for today, but for next Monday. The arguing involved a hilarious, yet subtly threatening call to "son", who, based on the abrupt way the call ended, possibly had better things to do with his time, but was conspicuously void of any apologies to the fashionista, unless you count "stupid ticket seller made a mistake" as an apology. I bet "son" wishes mother had not figured out speed dial.

Making a lunch of somewhat suspicious looking leftover Karelian pies, that I don't remember buying (never a guarantee that I didn't, but there is always also the possibility of a food-providing leprechaun, and/or fairy living in the vegetable box [since something/someone is definitely living in there]), only to succumb to a horrid case of heartburn. No, no, no, no, no. The coffee, wine and tequila consumed at blog camp and at my stop over at chez K in Helsinki on my way back from blog camp have nothing to do with the acid eroding away at my esophagus. It must be the iffy pies. Coffee would never do that to me, right?

Going to the theatre with my folks to hear awesome music and see completely incompetent attempts at acting (we think, could have been that some of the 'actors' were under the impression that they were in fact on board the starship Enterprise and Spock would all of a sudden feel like applying the Vulcan stun touch on them, or the original Kirk would jump out and try to make out with them - the chubby Kirk that is). I sang along regardless.

Also, I ate some chocolate and herring, with not enough time separating their entries from each other.

Now I'm regurgitating up herringy nougat.

In other words: all's well in the land of Santa.  

My awesome Bloggy weekend. Part 4-6

Denmark rocks.

The Blog Camp chicks rock. And one of them even rocked her pajamas almost throughout the weekend, until they had too many stains on them (and two liters of elderberry juice).

Can you guess who it was?

I'm bummed the weekend went too quick.

It was so much fun.

For more stuff go to the blog camp blog. There you can also ask us questions....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My awesome bloggy weekend. Part 1

I'm still alive and well. Sorta.

There have been axes, but only because of julochka's husband.

Nuff about that.

There was someone who turned out not to be a "blog camp girl".

I'll let Seaside 'girl' say more on that.

There have been photos.

And some more photos. Eh, Kristina ?

And sometimes photos of taking photos.

B T, phone home?

And naturally there was more than enough of wine (and a weird French waiter). Polly likes wine too, but not the waiter. We're all pretty sure on that. Yup.

And this one was a nice, dry chardonnay... (the wine, NOT the waiter).

And today we're off to new challenges.

But first we need coffee.

And then we can be creative.

For more go to the Blog Camp blog and Balderdash. I promise we'll be balderdashing away.

As soon as everyone is showered (which might be tomorrow).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Very random sweating

There were some very cool, cool and much less cool things that happened this past week.

I danced for three hours straight at a weird basement club with a childhood friend and we managed to do the lambada as well as the macarena quite a few times, while a bunch of Finnish men were trying to cosy up to us by doing the very uncool (and sometimes scary - Really. Haven't you ever seen yourself dance? What you're doing is not hip hop, it's kicking the hell out of your fellow dancers) 'I'm bumping and grinding to your back in case you would be interested in a little something, something, or possibly a lot of something, something with my drunken ass'. Needless to say: no dice, even though my friend is single.

I danced for three hours straight at a weird basement club with a childhood friend and the next morning I couldn't get out of bed, because I think I managed to break my hip with lambada, or a well planned, superbly executed, and accurately aimed scary (glad i didn't hit anyone badly) burlesque kick. Think Moulin Rouge with a severely overweight Kidman kicking at everyone around her while headbanging vigorously to a late 80s nondescript pop song. Loved it, 'cept for the whole looming hip replacement.

I danced for three hours straight at a weird basement club with a childhood friend and the next morning I though my head was going to explode. Turns out one should not mix cheap wine with headbanging. Or better yet, headbanging should be avoided regardless of it being kind of cool to freak out the younger clubbers with said antic. Also, headbanging in air, as opposed to into a table, or a railing, or someone else's head is potentially a healthier, less painful choice come next morning. Although, I now very strongly feel that I still got it. Whatever it is.

I found out, or was actually reminded of the fact that the best time to enjoy a burger or two is after dancing for three hours straight. Makes them taste better. And they have to be burgers from here. And, no, the person serving you these burgers does not appreciate your wit at 3AM, or the informative (by which I mean completely made up) lecture on South African coins (nor are they accepted as means of payment).

With my Mexican/Parisian friend we learned that the best way to freak out a waiter in Finland is to demand an authentic Mexican margarita, give a mini-lecture on the palatal differences of lemon juice and lime juice (after consuming quite a few bottles of authentic French champagne prior to the lecture, or even arriving at the restaurant where we moved onto red wine), and do all this on a Tuesday night, 15 minutes before the place is set to close. Also, by tipping a waiter in Finland one can really screw with their heads, regardless of how well-deserved the tip was.  

Lastly, the other day I was putting on my shoes at my parents and I noticed that my mother owns a pair of Dr. Martens. The insoles have sculls on them. I asked her whether she had noticed the sculls and her response was: "Oh, the ones on my Docs?"

I'll just leave you with that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

5 questions B had and I answered. Not well though.

Since the hangover from this Saturday seems to be alive and well, and not going anywhere, instead of bringing you a fabulous feature on a lovely club stuck in a time warp of a serious kind, located not far from my front door, I'll answer some questions. The dancing story will have to wait until its lingering effects fade away...

B of Cuttings on a blog answered 5 questions posed to her and now I'll answer the ones she asked me. See. It's a game.

1. If you knew you had to live in one (only one!) country for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Agh. This is a tough one. Let me tell you about a nightmare of mine. It, in all its simplicity, is being able to draw a straight line between the now and the day I die. Staying in one place, and knowing what the future brings, literally give me shivers (not the good kind). So I can't pick one country. I'll have to pick the 'keep on moving from one place to the next every time ants manifest in my pants' (also not the good kind. Ants, not the pants. Pants are good.), or the always present option G. I like the option G.

2. What's the best thing about blogging?

Bleeps, aka blogging peeps. Love them you.

3. You are writing a novel. What is it about?

I like how you say "are writing" when I haven't even opened the file in a month (maybe it'll get tired and write itself?). However, when I was working on it last time it seemed to be about a bunch of people more or less dissatisfied with their lives, a hammer from a hardware store, and points of view and perceptions. It's not funny. Not in the least. I have one funny one in Finnish I've been going at for years, but to finish that one, I need my brother to be 14 again. Fart-jokes always did make me laugh.   

4. What is your superpower?

Only one? I'm done with being modest (Ha!) so I'll just give you my top five:

  • I roll up a carpet like nobody's business.
  • I can ignore an impending deadline, until the very second it is no longer humanely (hahahahahaha, mean humanly, hahahahaha) possible to meet it.
  • I can ignore and avoid things I don't want to do like a regular superhero. Sometimes I'll even fly away.
  • Apparently I can do a mean lambada, even though I don't think I actually could back when it was cool to be able to. Still, now that I'll actually have to get my hip x-rayed for a fracture because of the dance, I think this qualifies as a superhero-ish deed. And, if it turns out nothing's broken, well, that just speaks volumes about the self-healing power of my body of steel wine-derived flab.
  • I can make any bed in the blink of an eye. Mine or not. I detest an unmade bed. 

5. Blogging, twitter, or golf. If you had to give up one, what would it be?

To audible gasps, I would have to say twitter. Clearly there is no chance I would ever say blogging, since that would mark my demise in the form of going up in wine fumes of some sort. And all I have to say about golf is that I really like hitting things the ball, and i think I just might be kinda good at it sometime in the future. (Obviously I'm never giving up twitter either. I'm just saying.) I think I'll give up exercise and getting up early to exercise. Yup. that's it.

Leave me a comment if you would like to play, and I'll send you your extremely well thought out five questions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

There's something about this place

Observations that make me happy to be here:

A poppy gearing up to bloom. Or a hairy man-eating plant finishing off with a stray napkin.

  • The song of a nightingale plays in the parking basement of my favorite department store.
  • The phone can be answered by "Morhmphbg". 
  • There are plenty of people who will understand a person's need and absolute want to dye their eyebrows and eyelashes. ASAP. NOW. Am whiter than white. It looks like I might have accidentally swallowed my eyebrows and then used my eyelashes to wash down the (miniscule) clump of white hair.
  • No shortage of coffee. Ever. These people could survive the end of the world and still have enough coffee stowed away (possibly in their pants since it is the end of the world after all) to weather the beginnings of a new humankind.
  • Peeps can be very nice. At least in the smaller towns. Of which there are several. In the near vicinity. cet - tee?!?! What does that mean?
  • Very pale women wear all black, have black hair and black eyeshadow, and smile happily at me when I take their picture. 
  • Good-natured gossip is not dead: "And then these women from the capital didn't even know how to start a fire."
  • If there is a moose on the road, you'll surely know from all of the on-coming cars flashing their lights. Every single one of them.
  • A good, real mullet might not be dead and buried after all.
  • The sun can flicker on the waves so that you can entertain yourself with taking pictures for days..
  • Finns are okay with extreme makeovers. In the pouring rain, with wind and humidity up the wazoo. Because all that really matters is that your eyelashes are no longer transparent. Because you're going to blog camp. And you're already sort of chubby fat, and still want to rock the eyelashes... As always. Don't ever be ashamed!
  • There are people who understand horribly bad and very iffy if the current global situation is taken into consideration bad golf jokes. Even if they stink (not the people, the jokes), and even if they are in the family (the people, not the jokes). 
  • Every single smell will take you back. Ar least ten years. Try a neighborhood burger. Life's hard.
Have an awesome weekend y'all. 

I'm off with pals.


Oh my.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On parenting and golf

I love my parents. My father is intelligent, calm and collected. My mother is smart, kind, and tenacious. Both of them are very loving. In the Finnish way. They are also encouraging in the Finnish way.

Sage advice from my father while golfing yesterday:

"Hitting the ball is quite essential in golf."

"You should not hit the ball into the woods. They are harder to locate there."

"You should have aimed less towards the left than I told you to. Then it would have gone straight."

"You should try to see where the ball lands, then it will be easier to find."

"You should yell FORE! when you hit the ball towards me."

"You should avoid hitting people with the ball... or with the club."

"Sometimes it is hard to get out of a bunker, just keep hitting out the sand. Maybe the ball will come out with it."

Upon returning from successfully completing my fourth round of 18 holes, my mother finally concedes:

"So you might just be able to play after all."

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What it all boils down to

Christina at Soul Aperture suggested posting 10 simple things that make you happy, and posting them today, on the 10th. So, as I'm out of ideas and need to free up some golfing time (This hobby is slowly but very securely sucking me into its vortex. The other day I read a golfing magazine. I would gasp, but I think I'm beyond that point, and you all know it too), here are some things that hit the happiness spot with me (as VEG would say: minds out of the gutter people!):

:: Belonging.

:: The right kind of kiss.

:: A call from Hubby from some faraway Kenyan or Tanzanian airport at 1AM.

:: Sun shining in through clean windows.

:: A Zambian latte. Or just any latte. Or just coffee.

:: Insightful comments. Well... comments.

:: A beautiful wine glass with no fingerprints on it filled with 10cls of an Alsace Pinot Blanc. And the bottle right by it.

:: Wearing an over-the-top preppy cardigan to play golf and then repeatedly missing the ball while trying to tee off. With people watching.

:: Wearing a fancy dress with jeans.

:: A new pair of shoes that finally arrived.

What makes you happy? Let Christina (and me, and julochka, and B, and...) know.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Am I missing something? Vol 1: Finland

julochka at moments of perfect clarity did this first. But as I am still teaching my mother how to use her Mac in ways other than finding things on Google or on Youtube (I was actually a little freaked out when she told me she knows what Youtube is and immediately had to find out whether I'm on there somewhere. Am not telling.), and as I was forced to kiss goodbye to the Hubby who had to return to SA yesterday, I'm left with little inspiration time to post anything on here. But hey, at least I finally responded to the comments on my last post, and made some suspicious ones on my siamese sister's and julochka's blogs.

Well, that just confirms that I still exist.

I can see from the notes I made yesterday (or actually this morning) that I thought it would be a splendid idea to give you an itemized account of sort of list the different things I miss, and some things I don't miss from the different places where I've lived, and make this into a series of posts. Now, I'm not sure how good this is really going to be, but I'm also thinking that making any list is always a nice distraction, and a good getaway from the task at hand - this currently being cleaning the apartment. I'm taking a day off from mother and from showing her how to get her pictures from her camera onto her Mac, and will instead be pretending to do some laundry of pants that can walk by themselves by now, and vacuuming up of little balls of something that will otherwise think they own this place. At the moment I'm still being looked up to as a fickle, largish god of wine, but I'm not sure how long it will be before the balls of something go all secular on me.

Being back in Finland, if only for a short while and out of reach of the balls of something but in the land of the actual and sometimes lovely, but mostly slightly scary and off-putting RWP (Real World People), has definitely brought back memories of things I used to consider essential, and could never ever live without, and things that I had completely forgotten about, and could never ever live amidst again, not to mention some new, refreshing, just-discovered acquaintances, which will be possibly later featured in a wholly different post.

Finnish coffee

I used to log kilos and kilos of Finnish coffee to Denmark. I realize no coffee grows in Finland and said coffee is actually from South America or Africa, but as I soon found out, the secret is in the roast, and that I prefer a light roast, which most other Finns do as well. Am I a Finnish Coffee snob (the kind looked down by Italians with Berlusconi spearheading the mock committee)? Yes, I am. But also, every time I return to Finland, upon that first sip from that first cup of Juhla Mokka I'm instantly taken back (in the best Proustian manner) to my teenage years, to the beginnings of my coffee addiction. Discovering coffee was one of the lovelier things from those years and has a lot to do with who I've become. Believe it or not. It just might be that I consist of nothing else than coffee, wine and burgers. A high functioning load of junk?

Nowadays, my Finnish coffee hoarding years are over. Turns out that if you try to smuggle transport a lot of coffee in your suitcase to a country sometimes talked of as the 'drug-gateway to the US' the little drug sniffing dog will sit by your bag at the airport and you end up explaining that there is in fact no cocaine hidden in the ten packets of coffee, and that you are transporting Colombian coffee to Mexico, because you like the roast and the shiny red packaging, only to end up having it stolen taken away from you by the customs officials. Still, Mexico did offer some very nice substitutes in the way of beans and roasts, and you can never go home again. And maybe you shouldn't even try.  

Liquor laws    

Regardless of the ubiquitousness of coffee in Finland (If a Finn asks you whether you'd like some coffee or tea you are to answer "yes" meaning "please fill a big honking mug with coffee and fast". Tea is automatically disregarded.), another precious liquid is a little tougher to come by. The state has monopoly on the sale of alcohol and this translates to no wine in grocery stores, and special state-owned shops (with rather annoying opening hours) called Alko, and a bad selection of tequilas. In recent years Alko seems to have upgraded their wine selection from the 4 different kinds I remember seeing on the shelves fifteen years ago, but the tequilas on offer are still too few and too white. Also, I really don't miss having to remember to go by an Alko at a decent hour, just to indulge in two bottles glasses of wine at night. Having to remember such details doesn't make me think twice about drinking, it makes me want to drink more. So there Finland. Take that!

Finnumor/ Cuisine 

Because of the Finnish language (and perhaps because we are not tall, blond and smiley like the Swedes, but tall, pasty white, and have deep set eyes that often make us look ominous. Think a blond Damien from the Omen) we have existed rather separately from all of the other cultures that surround us for quite a while now. This has resulted in a Finnish sense of humor, which I can completely survive without, but has also brought about a lovely culinary culture (also sneered at by Berlusconi) that I like to refer to as 'Bet you didn't know it was food?'

I love Karelian pies with egg butter 

and mämmi with cream

and real 100% rye bread with cheese

and 'plastic' cheese with cloudberry jam (my pic has lingonberries. Sadly.)

Yes, these dishes are all DELICIOUS. And every time I go away, I sorely miss them, and upon returning completely overindulge, resulting in weird tasting belches and bad, bad heartburn. No, the coffee has nothing to do with the heartburn. Don't even go there.

Walking around town

Seeing that in Johannesburg walking around is a major no no, spending time in Finland has really had a profound effect on how much I really appreciate the possibility of quickly 'stepping out to get a carton of milk', or the never-to-be-revealed-to-the-Hubby 'returning from a bar crawl by myself, on foot, at 4AM, with all of my valuables precariously hanging from my purse, and with the Canon around my neck'

Resulting in this kind of awesome photography action.

These are not my towels.

Saving the world made easy

I know I'm no environmental superstar/hero like my siamese sister, Vancouver's Enviro Girl (VEG), but Finland really makes recycling easy. Our apartment came with separate trash cans, and there is an equal assortment of such things downstairs to match the ones we have upstairs. Wine bottles are even recyclable, and not just as glass, but as actual bottles. Hurrah!


This is both a negative and a positive side of Finland. Finns are quite possibly the most blunt people on earth. I have had to de-learn this to some extent, but alienating even complete strangers still comes fairly easy to me (none of you had thought this, correct?). In Finland honesty means that you can leave your wallet on a park bench and someone will surely call you and tell you to pick it up with all of your money still in it, but it also means that when you have just squeezed into that pair of pants the size of which you already feel is a new low, the sales assistant will helpfully remark that the store also carries the pants in plus-sizes. I miss being able to say what I want when I want and not get glared at. Unless of course I spoke to a complete stranger in the elevator, in a waiting room, a cafe, or a store, where you are simply to pretend like there is no one in there with you. Got it?

Knowledgeable service

I'm off to fetch my black leather Converse All Stars now, since the lady from the shop just called me, left a message both in Finnish and in English telling me my long awaited shoes, in my freakishly big size, have arrived (from somewhere else in Europe), and that they are keeping them for me until I can come and pick them up. And I don't think that I gave them the correct telephone number.

Next stop Denmark, or Mexico. I haven't decided yet.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The last 50 pages. How hard can this be?

What exactly is the problem with Out of Africa by Karen Blixen ?

I just can't seem to finish it. And this time it's not a question of me not wanting to finish.

Out of Africa is a great and interesting autobiographical novel. However, and dare I even say this or will Denmark close its borders to me permanently (thus keeping me from blog camp), it is also a little boring. Especially for someone who is trying to read it underneath 'the African sky' of which, and the specific colors of which there are quite a few rather lengthy descriptions. Okay, I realize I'm currently in Finland, underneath a wholly different sky, but the last time I cracked open the book was on the plane towards Europe - in the African sky.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. It is one of my mother's favorites, and she has good taste in literature (disregarding all of the detective novels she plows through, some of which thoroughly stink, regardless of what she says). I also loved the movie, and when I first saw it I immediately wanted a farm in Africa, if not for other reasons than to be all delightfully independent and get Robert Redford to kiss me (and such other related things). As I got older, I however realized that Redford was actually really old, and boy, how long did those films used to take to arrive to the Finnish movie theaters (years, must have been), and that his skin was not so nice when you really got up close, and perhaps (based on some other film he was in) I think his breath must smell. Still, he was dreamy in Out of Africa and I would have liked for him to have kissed me in the hills of Ngong.

I have later realized that perhaps I could have held out for Robert had I really wanted to, and I should perhaps not have been so easily discouraged. I used to think that Tom Cruise was out of my league too, on account of him being so OLD (Yup. Don't question this. This really was the only obstacle in my way.), and then he went and married a girl who is a measly 48 hours older than me. I could be performing on Broadway as we speak.

Because that's how it works out in my head.

But back from TomKat to Denys and Karen.

The old Kikuyu man on the cover of my edition of the novel stares at me every night (really morning) I go to bed, and don't pick him up, because I just don't feel like reading about how Karen's dogs won't go near muslims because they know that "muslims don't like dogs", or how the natives are resigned to life and only care about their cattle, and settle any dispute, death, marriage, and such by transactions of cattle, or how a farmer needs rain (taking us back to the sky. Again.). Even if I was able to look past the racism inherent in this book (and at some point one does need to get passed that aspect in order to enjoy the stories), I still think that this novel, regardless of portraying places in Kenya I would have liked to have visited before they were overrun with tourists, is just a little bit boring. I have come to realize that reading about riding (clearly not writing because that I would [and did] enjoy) is not for everyone me. 

Also, sadly, I have come to the conclusion that by traveling so much I have ruined the fascination of this book for myself. The nature descriptions, although I can verify that not that much has changed in the nature since Blixen's day, simply wear me out. And I can't help but feel that when the book was published it was so loved in Denmark and all over the world, because it provided a way for many to see Kenya, to see Ngong and Nairobi, the Maasai, the Kikuyu, a lion, or a zebra as if they had visited Kenya and the farm themselves (it's all in the details, many unimportant details). For me, unfortunately, what remains of interest in the novel are Blixen's relationships to the locals and to her farm. I wish that was enough to carry the book for me. But, it's not.

I will wade through the last 50 pages and I will enjoy the book to an extent. I will also love the fact that I read the novel in Danish and mostly understood, and that the words I didn't know, like søko, my Danish husband or friend didn't know either. Since the word literally translates to sea cow, we know that it is an animal of some sort, but in the end are not interested enough to google research it further.

Is there anyone out there who has read this novel? What did you think?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

An ode to Hubby

I'm still sort of left dry of things to write (and my fokken keyboard still lights up for no reason confusing me as I try to write), but I realized that I owe someone a post. The hubby that is. On how awesome a husband (and human being) he is. This post was to be the result of that ring he designed and had made for me.

And by that ring I mean this ring:

Some kind of quarts set in something something silver. Close enough.

Why I was reminded of having promised this sort of post to the hubby was that today I got breakfast in bed. Every single inch of my body is hurting from yesterday's golf at the course affectionately (I misspelled this word twice yesterday, only to realize my mistakes in the car hours later, and was left wondering whether this was it [too much wine] for my brain) called Devil's Field. The tips of my fingers feel like I borrowed them from a corpse and I won't even go into the specifics regarding the aches and pains in the rest of my body (and the possible links to the dead pieces of flesh at the local market's meat-counter). All I will say is that I think golf was actually invented by the Devil (were he to exist) or at least someone posing as him. I think golf might just prove to be the thing to finish me off, draw my number, send for the reaper, or just kill me dead. Who knew that golf was an extreme sport?

But enough about my impending golf-induced death and onto the man of my dreams (a very natural bridge).  

As I have previously written about meeting the hubby, I'll just launch, face first into a list of epic proportions of why Hubby is so great, wonderful, and the man for me, even after these here several years (I'm told 8) of sharing my life our lives, in hopes of scoring lunch, and perhaps also dinner in bed, as to be ready for another 18 holes tomorrow (smart she is not, but if you wanted to be nice you could go ahead and call her tenacious).

This will not be a list consisting of 'hubby is great because he loves me when I am horrible to him and to others' because, firstly, this is my blog and I will not be portrayed in that light, and secondly, that's more than evident between the lines anyways.

An ode to hubby as a human being of god-like (the loving kind) attributes:

:: Hubby loves complex lists with sub-sections and weird references, and often draws up such things on the backs of envelopes, or grocery store receipts. (I don't know why I'm opening with this, but here it is anyways.)

:: Hubby remembers every single birthday of anyone who has ever told their birthday to him and always informs me of impending important days to remember in good time.

:: Hubby is good with money, and manages to spin it in ways allowing for it to simply pass through my hands without the tiring middleman's (a.k.a. Extranjera's brain) involvement.

:: Hubby is frightfully smart, and can do weird math is his head. This balances out the fact that for some reason hubby cannot pronounce 'vegetable' or 'analogically'.

:: Hubby reads.

:: Hubby is always loved by everyone. I've found this to be an awesome buffer between folks and my personality.

:: Hubby is patient. Extremely patient. For eight years he has been waiting for me to 'grow out of it'.

:: Hubby is kind. There are still orphaned kids in Mexico who talk about El Vikingo who taught them about astronomy. In Spanish. (And this is all hush hush from the hubby, but the man doesn't really speak Spanish.)

:: Hubby tries hard and never quits. Even when all of the forces in the universe seem to be working against him he keeps on going, and somehow manages to pull me through as well.

:: Hubby always takes my side. Even when I go against my mother.

:: Hubby is a man of the world. He feels just as home in a luxurious five star hotel in Singapore as he does dancing barefoot with topless natives in Panama. Hubby is the one who taught me that it is okay to use the bathroom at a fancy schmancy hotel even if you are not staying there, rather than going into McDonalds. Actually, the nicer the hotel the better.

:: Hubby doesn't enjoy watching sports.

:: Hubby is excellent at small talk and doesn't feel the need to swear while engaging in it.

:: Hubby can keep a secret. Just not from me.

:: Hubby has never once mentioned the word 'job' in relation to me not having one, at least in front of me.

:: Hubby likes learning new things, and reading manuals. He completes me.

:: Hubby will always let me sleep in, no questions asked, even though I won't let him go to bed before I feel tired.

:: Hubby can repair anything with glue back to its original appearance, while being married to the queen of duct-tape.

:: Hubby truly feels that no woman can own too many different bottles of perfume, or different pieces of jewelry, and that despite of owning all of these trappings (and more than a 100 pairs of shoes) his woman can wear that same pair of Birkenstocks every day, for two years, without fazing him in the least.

:: Hubby is honest. he always tells the truth, but manages to never anger anyone. Regardless of numerous, and I do mean numerous, attempts, I haven't cracked his formula for this yet.

:: Hubby likes visiting his grandparents. Every year he puts effort into finding them a special present they will enjoy. This year they got a picture book of South Africa, so that they could 'see what we've seen'.

:: Hubby always likes people, until I tell him not to.

:: Hubby will go out for pizza at 2AM because my very drunken friend would like some, and upon returning not be angered by the fact that the friend is asleep on the couch and I'm halfway strangling myself with the tent-bed I'm attempting to put together, while I'm also reaching out for the pizza to munch on as he proceeds to extricate me.

:: Hubby loves animals. Even the sizable cows his parents insist are really dogs.

:: Hubby has mad braai skillz. (This point is in no way a comment on the love for animals, although I must admit my thoughts went from cow-size dogs to juicy steaks.)

:: Hubby has an endless supply of praiseworthy qualities, and he will go to great extremes to make me happy. I doubt I could have done better in any possible universe. The only potential question in the equation is how long will Hubby have me.

I'm ready for my lunch in bed now.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I lead a boring life

For some reason, after the big party-night with the Finnish youth and after resolving the big blow out with my mother (by staying away for a couple of days and then pretending like nothing ever happened, i.e. the Finnish way of apologizing), I have felt like going analog - into the real world, with real world peeps - quite a bit. Who knew I had it in me? It has been nice golfing with the hubby and the brother who still refuses to put gas in the car and actually do some exercise with my body other than hitting the keyboard (for me this counts as exercise, since I do this uncommonly hard and can't seem to be able to stop doing it so), drinking with people who are able to spontaneously hug me all of a sudden and call me an intelligent woman (while slurring horribly, Ta, K!), dining with my crazy marathon-running brother (he showed me his black toenails as proof) and his über-sporty yet cool girlfriend, avoiding my dad who has suffered through the mother of all colds (my mother wondered whether I had it in me to give him the swine flu), and teaching my mother how to use her Mac and her new SLR camera. I know now fully well where my dislike to reading any kinds of instructions stems from. And I didn't even need the hubby to point this one out. 

However, I think that last night I hit my real world rock bottom of doing something very, very dubious when I could/should have been reading all of the blogs I have been needlessly ignoring, or updating my blog roll that is in serious need of a refresh.

"What did I do that was so important?" you ask.

Why, I was watching the 2006 remake of the disaster-movie 'classic' Poseidon. On Finnish television. With the ever so entertaining Finnish subtitles. I also had a glass of the Zebra-wine in my hand, which seemed to vastly improve the endurance capabilities of my posterior. But that might have also been brought on by the chair I was lounging in - the ugliest, nastiest La-Z-boy in the world that my brother refuses to get rid of, regardless of having been told to do so numerous times by his girlfriend resulting in the chair inhabiting our apartment as sort of neutral ground, and us not really being able to do anything about it. The chair is hideous, but superbly comfortable. Kind of like a pair of Crocks (the new national shoe of Finland, it seems).

But I digress. What dawned on me while I was watching a more and more scantily clad mother of a young boy jump, swim, dive, run, glide, trapeze, tunnel, climb, and crawl all the while holding onto her son through an upside down ship for two hours straight that I would never, ever have made it out of the upside down ballroom (where it all started) of the ship. I would instantly die in a disaster movie.

This made me slightly depressed. So I flung the leg support of the La-Z-Boy back into its original position and went to pour me some more from the zebra-striped carton. But then I realized that Fergie from the black eyed peas never made it out of the ballroom either. And she is married to Josh Duhamel, and I liked him in Las Vegas.

And that made me understand why I have been hanging out with real peeps:

I have nothing intelligent, or even funny to write.

I'll be back when I have something other than how watching Poseidon makes me think of Josh Duhamel, or how I just vacuumed up the case for my sunglasses and had to have the hubby search for it, to write about.

I promise, I will be back.