Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nemesis

My mind is broken, and my heart got on a plane. I am lost.
This blog is hibernating.

"Beneath an avalanche, soft as moss.
I'm a creeping and intangible sense of loss.
I'm the memory you can't get out of your head,
if I leave you now you'll wish you were somewhere else instead.

I am the manta ray - I'm the louse.
I am a photograph they found in your burned out house.
I'm the sound of money washing down the drain.
I am the pack of lies, baby, that keeps you sane.

I'm the bottom line of the joke.
I am extasy - spilling out like bright egg yolk.
I'm the thoughts you were to ashamed to ever share,
and I am the smell of it - you're trying to wash out of your hair.

I'm the babe that sleeps through the blitz.
I am a sudden and quite unexected twist.
I am your one true love who sleeps with someone else.
I am your nemesis,
baby, I'm life sweet life itself."
David Gray - Nemesis (Draw The Line, 2009)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shape The Pain Into Something Great

September was closed with a vengeance, and man, I must say that felt good. October has kicked off with cold temperatures and frosty cars, and even cleaning the floors beat going out of doors.

I finished reading The Gathering by Anne Enright. Throughout all if it my brain screamed at the top of it lungs: "How, oh HOW did this boring piece of sh*t win the Man Booker Prize?". Well, to be fair the ending wasn't half bad, it kind of took the whole disaster to a more elevated level, but still. What an endless yawn this was! Picked up White Male Heart by Ruaridh Nicoll last night, but I'm not sure what to make of it yet. Seems like it's a bit too much testosterone and guns for my liking, but let's see how it turns out.

Speaking of testosterone... the other day I arrived at the office, got into the elevator on the basement level, and expected no danger as the elevator halted on the first floor before continuing on to fourth where I work. Outside, however, stood three middle-aged men engaged in normal conversation... only, when they saw that the elevator was occupied by a woman they for some reason decided to double the volume of their discourse which suddenly took a turn into dirty jokes for the three floors I had to keep up with their company. I almost had to hold my ears (not exaggerating) and tell them to be quiet. When I arrived at my floor one of my (male) colleagues had tried to cook porridge in the microwave. Need I say more?

Now, I have not really turned into a man-hating monster over the last couple of days, but there's been a lot of gender focus lately. The MD of Audi in Finland got himself out of a job after making some rather outrageous statements in the media about how women are basically put on this earth to iron mens' shirts, give them blow jobs and wear high heels. It's ok if we want to work as long as we still remember to do those things. What bugs me is not that this bozo made ridiculous statements, but rather that his opinions have been long known in the car industry, but only when he made a big interview that could reflect badly on the precious Audi brand did it have any consequences. Double standard bullshit.

There. Got rid of some steam. I've washed the floors and moved things around and the apartment looks great. Forgot to do it wearing seven inch heels. Damnit, I guess I'm not much of a woman after all...

"You and I make a lovely shape,
two circles cubed draw a number 8."
Cloud Cult - 2x2x2 (The Meaning Of 8, 2007)

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Can See Your Halo

The blog has taken the back seat to other things during the last months. If it keeps up I might put it on hold all together, but for now I'll throw in another short update on life in general.

Florentin started school. (I'm living with a high school student. Go me! :D I will proceed to buy a red sports car and wear sunglasses inside at all times to go with my midlife crisis. ;-p) It's going well, and his Finnish is already so far better than mine it's scary.

The world's best Mansers brought forth a lovely future world leader by the name of Frances Lorelei, and she has the cutest little nose you ever saw. I don't want them to move, but it's not exactly like we mind putting more miles on the car to go see them.

Speaking of mileage, we've continued exploring Finland since we came back from the European tour. A couple of weeks back we travelled up to Jämsä to spend some time at the lakes there, we've spent several afternoons in Nuuksio, and this weekend we travelled via Kajaani up to Kuusamo and Lokka, before heading back through Rovaniemi and Kemi. Reindeers, lovely autumnal colors, a bit of alpaca yarn, music on the sound system and the kilometers warming up the Qashqai. Home is always best, though, and I think we'll spend the coming weekends in the Helsinki region. I'm travelling enough on business at the moment anyway...

Alongside, and perhaps because of, recent business trips to Stockholm, I built up a proper cold by the mid of last week which culminated in a relatively nonsensical fever session in Kajaani on Friday. Lost my voice Saturday morning and am still sounding like I'm strung out on bad whiskey and cigarettes. Meeting up with India-travel returnee Dave for beers tomorrow is bound to not help that at all :)

I've had a month and a half to get used to this new state of cohabitation. It's not easy, living with someone again after having the apartment to myself these last three and a half years. I can also feel how deeply the sense of loneliness from my attempt at a long distance relationship was lodged in my spine, and it is oh so difficult to shift. I think we're getting there, though. :)

"Hit me like a ray of sun burning through my darkest night.
You're the only one that I want, think I'm addicted to your light.
I swore I'd never fall again, but this don't even feel like falling.
Gravity can't forget to pull me back to the ground again."
Beyoncé - Halo (I Am... Sasha Fierce, 2008)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Size Does Matter After All

Seen the new Rammstein video? What to say, what to do?

You've got a pussy,
I've got a dick.
So what's the problem?
Let's do it quick.

Rammstein - Pussy (Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, 2009)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Unfinished Business

The obsession of this summer has been White Lies, no doubt. I ignored them for months and months, even though all kinds of people (even Miia!) has been trying to push them on me. I guess I figured that they were yet another band that kind of sounded like Interpol and people thought I should like.

Well, shame on me. They're great. And thankfully for me, Dave offered to get me a ticket for the Flow Festival where they were playing in Helsinki a couple of weeks back. So I've even seen them live. The sound was a bit poor to start with, and it was a bit too easy to notice that they haven't got good live versions down of their studio tracks yet, so it was a bit like watching the CD being performed on stage. However, with vocals like that combined with a small festival where you get really close to the stage, I can hardly complain. It was brilliant :)

Deb and David are about to become proud parents in just a matter of days, and although that means that the date of their moving to Turku is also drawing near, I can not wait to meet their little addition to the expatriate community. It is positively fascinating to have a pregnancy happening this close to my daily life, usually my friends have dropped sprogs in Norway while I've been here in Finland and hence I've missed it all!

IKEA have decided to discontinue my brand of Billy - beech. Makes perfect sense, when you look at it. I bet that's where the karma gods are balancing it all out. Have to figure out what to do about this, but there's a pirate company producing IKEA lookalike gadgets that might have something to contribute with in my time of distress. As if this was not upsetting enough, Bar 9 has changed the recipe of my favorite dish. Discontinuations all over the place!

"You whispered "Where are you?",
I questioned your doubt,
but soon realised, you were talking to God now."
White Lies - Unfinished Business (To Lose My Life, 2009)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Just Can't Seem To Get Enough

Books, books, books, books, the world is thankfully full of books. I've tried to do my share of reading them this summer, although I definitely could've done more.

First out was Paul Auster's Oracle Night. I have a thing for Auster, no need to dwelve into that again, but this book was not as good as some of the others I've read. Again he shows the astonishing ability his mind has to come up with story upon story upon story, but some of them never land. I want to know what happens to the guy in the shelter! Nevertheless it kept me entertained throughout.

Auster's Man in the Dark was next book out, and disappointingly it had a bit of the same problem. Don't get me wrong, both are still good books, they are just not _quite_ up there with what he can do. With this one I far preferred the initial spin on the story than the actual conclusion. Also, it's a bit too American for me, this one.

I then finally summoned the guts to finish James Bradley's The Resurrectionist. Christ, what a piece of sh*t book this was... I've even mooched it away since, that's how little I liked it. The story is thin, the characters inpossible to care for, and the end is simply a loose-end laughing matter. Where on earth critics get off calling this a gothic horror masterpiece is beyond me, they are probably friends of the author...

After moaning and whining about the poor quality of the previous book for several days, Florentin decided I should read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which he had just read and loved. This book I have avoided buying at several occassions because other books have caught my attention more and I have for some reason boxed it away in the same category as The Observations (by Jane Harris, which was to be fair quite good in the end), but I had no real issues with wanting to read it. Good girl! Very lovely, this book. It managed to keep me fully alerted throughout the story, and I cried at the end. That very rarely happens with me and books, so ten thumbs up and just go ahead and read it. Florentin loved it too, if you're worried it's a girls' book. And once you've read it we can discuss the one thing I _didn't_ like about it, but I won't spoil it for you by writing it here.

While I read about time-hoppers, Florentin plowed through one of the books I brought with me, Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (neat name, huh?). This Finnish author living in America has written a story about a woman who follows her mother's history to the Sami areas of Finland and Norway, and by tracing her roots changes as a human being. Well... it's the first I've read by a Finnish author. I think that's about it. The main character did grow on me, but it took a long time and I still didn't get to love her enough for it to matter that the book ended. Ok'ish read, I'd say. It has a bit of a feministic twist to it that was quite interesting.

Sami stories gave way to Auster again. In The Country Of Last Things was the second of his novels I had with me on our roadtrip, and it didn't take me long to read. Here he's back with full force again, weaving his story in a straight, brutal line through an imagined city that may or may not exist not too far off in our future. If I could, I would happily have punched a couple of the characters the leading lady encounters along her way. Actually it's a shame this one wasn't longer.

In Zurich I found an English bookstore where I picked up Gaiman's Coraline, but I haven't started it yet. I also bought PopCo by Scarlett Thomas, the author of the previously hailed The End of Mr Y. I loved that one, and I loved this one. Similar in the manner of writing, the story is nevertheless quite different. Anti-corporation, pro-vegan, clever and funny, I'd definitely recommend it as a good read. I'd even say it might be the math version of Mr Y, which is more humanistic in it's twists and turns.

Having just finished PopCo a couple of days ago, I've now picked up The Gathering by Anne Enright. This one won the Booker prize in 07, and I got it for my birthday from a friend the same year, I've just been slow in picking it up. Doesn't seem quite like a book I'd normally love yet, but I'll review it after finishing.

"When I'm with you, baby,
I go out of my head.
I just can't get enough,
I just can't get enough."
Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough (Speak And Spell, 1981)
Depeche Mode are playing Helsinki in February, and I've got tickets, baby :D

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Get Me Closer To God

Another long overdue blog post coming up. The first weekend of July was spent in Arvika, as during the last seven years, with good friends and the Arvika music festival. Originally I had planned on not going this year, but the line-up had me sold quite early on, and even Richard had to break his festival virginity to catch what was to be three days of music madness in the Swedish forest.

As I am, as mentioned, a bit overdue with this post, some things have been forgotten and I will focus on the highlights. First of all, the company was excellent. In fact, the company was so good the music hardly would have mattered, but of course it didn't make things worse either :D

First up was Mars Volta, an act I never managed to like on record and they did not exactly get me much more convinced on stage. Quite on the contrary. However, good company got even better as we located Ståle and Makrellbekken (who no longer lives there and hence hardly earns the name, but still) in the beer area.

First up of the good stuff, however, was Röyksopp. They played in the tent, where temperatures got _very_ warm and clammy after a couple of songs. Hence, when the notes of the-nemesis-of-that-which-is-good-music Eple started penetrating my ears, I figured it was time to leave. Unfortunately this lead to me missing out on most of the tracks I actually love by the band, alongside several guest appearances on stage I'd have loved to catch. I did manage to get a NIN T-shirt before they sold out, however :)

Next up was Nine Inch Nails. I've been a die hard fan of Reznor's since 1998, when Eivind took my music taste under his wing and transformed it into something unrecognizeable. Trent... ok, I'll not let this post become a rant about the loveliness of this man, but let me just say that where he stood, looking like he was head-on challenging the whole world to just _dare_ to try to fuck things up even more, he was as much enough justification for me loving music as he has ever been.

I ended the night by watching some of Elegant Machinery, but they didn't exactly kick much ass after NIN, and they seemed to be painfully aware of it. Hence the night was cut a little short, but I fell asleep with a huge grin on my face!

Friday's music program started out with me hooking up with an old pop quiz buddy in the beer tent and jumping around to De/Vision. Not bad, not bad at all. It hardly got worse when Depeche Mode kicked off their concert on the main stage half an hour later. Oooh, Gahan is so the man, and if it weren't for Trent the night before this concert would have made the festival. Went home after, very tired.

On Saturday I was very lazy, and hence I missed Fleet Foxes (never liked them on record anyway, so probably not a big loss), and half of Thåström. I did arrive at the festival area just when he played my favorite, FanFanFan, though, so all was ok. Time was spent in the beer area, and I skipped most of DAF as I'd seen them before, but Korn turned out to be a very pleasant surprise on the main stage, and provided myself and Hanne with more than enough material for hours of drunken conversation on the balcony of our cabin back at the camping grounds.

All in all, a brilliant festival spent in the company of good people. I was in a very good mood throughout the weekend, and almost have a feeling of having been on speed when I look back on it... which would probably explain the extreme tempo of everything that happened. I think the arrangers will be hard pressed to follow this line-up with anything even remotely as good, but I'm looking forward to see what they come up with for next summer.

"You let me violate you.
You let me desecrate you.
You let me penetrate you.
You let me complicate you."
Nine Inch Nails - Closer (Downward Spiral, 1994)

A Place To Hide

I am so overdue with this post, but there has simply been too much going on for blogging to be high on the list of priorities.

Short on Croatia (the rest of it):
We didn't spend much more time in Croatia after the last post, as we left the country the next morning, heading for Trieste in Italy via Slovenia. Although the swimming was top notch I have no wish to return to the touristy parts of Croatia ever again. Perhaps if I could find a secluded island somewhere this country would be more down my alley.

Short on Slovenia:
Not much to report, I'm afraid. We took a wrong turn before exiting Croatia and hence entered the country a bit east of where we had planned, but it was easily corrected after a bit of fumbling around in a crossroads, and we crossed over into Italy within a couple of hours from entering.

Short on Italy:
I'd never been to Italy. Love Italian food, have always wanted to learn the language, have to admit to a certain weakness for the men... but had never been. And oh my, did it live up to expectations! The small shops, the narrow streets, the sensual language - ARGH! What am I doing in Finland again? We spent some time in Trieste before heading northwest in direction of our passage into Switzerland. Experienced a gorgeous rain storm that we could enjoy from bed looking out on the balcony in our room. I want to go back to Italy. ASAP.

Short on Switzerland:
Hm. Part 1 of this holiday's family check-up took us to Florentin's hood. We started out in Zurich where we hooked up with one of his girlfriends whom I enjoyed conversation with over beers while the young gentleman proceeded to get himself a little bit pickled :) The next morning we swam in the river that runs through the city, which I have to say was a thrilling experience! Mother, brother (x2) and father were visited over the next few days, and I met some brilliant people. We rounded it off with another night in Zurich where Florentin's friend Christian gave him a reprieve from the girlfriend while I worshipped Paul Auster in a local pub. Oh, and I found a dragon. And got a speeding ticket. :/

Short on Germany:
I've always liked Germany, but this time around we got ourselves into a bit of a spot as we entered the not-so-nice town of Kassel. If you ask me what was bad about it I'll be hard pressed to give you a concrete answer, but as with Moldova it rubbed me the wrong way in _every_ way. A big contributor was probably that we had been travelling for three weeks about this point, and were getting a little tired of it. We spent a night close to the Danish border in a town that was closer to the Germany I like, however.

Short on Denmark:
VROOOOM! Did we even stop in Denmark? Ah, yes, we had lunch at a roadside diner. Otherwise little to report, I had my eyes set on Örebro and Denmark is mostly flat anyway. Nice to see the windmills in the ocean between Denmark and Sweden, though.

Short on Sweden:
We pushed on a bit into the night to get to Örebro without stopping along the way, and yay! Back to the farm :) We spent a few days with my family, basically being lazy, going swimming, barbequing, drinking beer and simply having _holiday_! To say we both needed the rest would be an understatement. From there we drove on to Stockholm and took one of the party ferries over to Helsinki, where our roadtrip ended around 10:00 the next morning.

To sum it up, this road trip was a massive undertaking, no doubt about that. The reader stopped at 8 700 km, we used the spare tank of gas a couple of times, had a couple of rather hefty navigation conflicts, three and a half weeks with temperatures between 30 and 42 degrees C with very little access to water, mosquito bites de luxe, a sudden allergy attack that lasted for two weeks, and sometimes a definitive lack of relaxation and holiday. What we also had, however, were hundreds of hours spent in excellent company without conflicts, a car with AC and sunroof, great sights, good camping choices, good hotel choices, good food, good drink, functional systems, maps, loads of weirdness and a very, very good time.

Back in Espoo I'm now in my second week of being back to work, and since the end of April I have not only added 10 previously unseen countries to my list, I find myself living with a gorgeous young man and am contemplating getting my master's degree over and done with. Not quite sure yet how this came to be, but big thanks to karma for paying a lot of attention to me lately :)

"If I told you all the times that I'd done wrong,
could you bathe my soul and wash it all away?"
White Lies - A Place To Hide (To Lose My Life, 2009)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kiss The Rain

I'm writing this from Rijeka, a dodgy industrial town in Croatia. It's likely that today will bring us out of this country, through Slovenia and into Italy.

Short on Moldova (the rest of it):
Not really my kind of country, this. The differences between rich and poor are extreme, and apparently the country has a trafficking problem unlike no other nation in the world. The roads were actually surprisingly ok, and the monastery was scenically beautiful, but otherwise I'd not recommend one goes out of one's way to get there. We rented an apartment in Chisinau instead of finding a hotel, and this I must say was a very pleasant surprise. We used the rental agency suggested in the Lonely Planet guide - easy to find at the bottom of the hill where Beer House is situated.

Short on Romania:
For me, Romania was pretty much the purpose of this roadtrip. I've been fascinated with this country since I don't know when, and have been talking about making it the destination of a roadtrip for years. I am very happy to say it lived up to expectations. The trouble is, I'll have to go back! We stayed in Brasov four nights, with one night of camping on either side. Monasteries, castles, good food, mountains, crap roads, ice-cold rivers, sheep, rattle-snakes imitating birds, mist, Swiss vampire wannabe's, milk-carrying and -distributing monks, in general a beautiful country with lovely people.

Short on Serbia:
The Balkans were not really plan of my initial itinerary idea, but as I had no real preference after Romania it was as good a suggestion as any. I had little relationship with these countries up front, so it brought a couple of surprises. First of all, crossing over into Serbia from Romania was a piece of cake. The countryside in the east was a bit boring after the mountaneous regions of the previous country, but Belgrade was quite nice and I think it grew on Florentin. We spent one night there, and the following night in a national park close to the Bosnian border. Spine tingling views, and a bit scary roads at night. People follow the traffic rules in this country!

Short on Bosnia:
The border crossing from Serbia was almost like being in the EU again. Ok, they did stamp the passports, but otherwise there was very little ado about the whole thing. Bosnia was gorgeous. I never realized how montaneous it was, and Sarajevo certainly left me wanting more. We only had a couple of hours there, well spent in a small restaurant called Club To Be Or Not To Be where a one-man chef/waiter/cashier impressed me no end with his ability to juggle his guests, make dinner for all and still look like he was just having a totally normal day at work. Drivers here are almost en par with the Latvians. The majority drive reasonably well, but there's a lot of dodgy passings and it's quite exhausting to navigate the narrow roads circling around the mountains.

Short on Croatia (so far):
Border crossing? What? The lady laughed and looked like she was pretty amused by the antics of tourists when we kindly asked her to stamp our passports. Croatian roads are pretty much like the Bosnian ones - meaning very few potholes but very winding and lacking of straight stretches. The ocean is _beautiful_. Most of you will know I have an affinity for the ocean along Norway's coast line, but I could be willing to throw Croatia into the competition. Waters are sparkling clear, and the water is cold enough to really cool you down even though the temperature ranges in the higher thirties still. There are, however, tourists _everywhere_! Having been spoilt with the solitude it gives to drop off the beaten track, this was not a welcome return to the Western world of money spending sun worshipers. They also create havoc on the roads, as the mix of different driving styles is nothing short of a health hazard.

Temperatues have been between 30 and 40 pretty much for three weeks straight now. Norwegians like me are not built for this kind of heat, so it was very nice to finally cool down a bit in the ocean. I'll probably blog a little bit again from Switzerland. Catch you on the flipside!

"Kiss the rain and wait for the dawn."
Billie Myers - Kiss The Rain (Growing, Pains, 1997)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lost Highway

I'm on the road. Currently in Moldova, writing this en route to the Orhei monastery outside Chisinau. Up until now several countries have been undertaken with neckbreaking speed, and until I get to Romania I'm not really planning on slowing down anywhere. I could use a day with a book, my feet up and a bit of quiet, though, the contrast to how I usually travel is like night and day.

Estonia was a pure transportation stretch and hence didn't bring much of interest. After very few hours of sleep the night before I actually slept through most of it. Day 1 ended as we reached one of Latvia's national parks where we set up camp with the tent Deb and David so kindly bestowed on us (thanks you guys, it works like a charm!). The morning after we had breakfast with a stork. Seriously.

My first couchsuring experience on the surfing side of things took place the following night, as we hooked up with American Jimi who lives and works in Latvia. He had just moved house with his wife, and showed an outstanding amount of hospitabiliy taking in a couple of unknown surfers on his first night in a new house (and WHAT a house it was!). We also got to hang out with the dog and Jimi's daughter, both lovely.

The next morning we started our career with police confrontations a bit sooner than expected when Florentin ran a red light (typical!) and was presented with the doubtful honor of receiving his first ever ticket. Since then there has been so much going on I'll not bore you with a step by step recollection of it all. A few key notes on the countries, however:

Short on Estonia:
Early morning ferry with already drunk Finns. Pancakes in Tallinn. A lot of road. Drivers starting to get a bit impatient. I mostly slept, but woke up as we passed a motorcycle passanger who had fallen off the bike. Aparently he seemed to be doing well.

Short on Latvia:
GREEN! They've had a bit of rain this summer, and I guess that explains the abundant greenery all over the place. Oh, and the gardens, they are lovely. It looks like the Latvians really put a lot of pride and love into the tending of their green spots. Storks are everywhere, as are speed-crazy drivers. Riga is quite nice, but has little on Tallinn in my opinion.

Short on Lithuania:
A little field'ier than Latvia, but still green and nice, and I got my first swim of the trip following one of many detours. We spent a night in a hotel in the centre of Vilnius, in the squeekiest bed ever - kept me awake most of the night (Florentin.. again!) - but the breakfast was good and we found a bookstore that sold Lonely Planet guides. Most important.

Short on Poland:
Another transportation stretch - we knew we wanted to get from Vilnius and as far down into Poland as possible in one day, with Lublin being the priority target. A day of driving later, we checked into a hotel in the old town that made up for the lack of good breakfast with excellent location, good service and a good bed. About here it started getting really, really hot. I almost had a heat stroke opening the car doors the next morning. Went for swim no II in a packed lake somewhere on the way to Ukraine. Insane amount of ongoing roadworks in this country!

Short on Ukraine:
The border crossing into Ukraine was a bit of a wild card. I was not one hundred percent sure we had all documents needed to get across, but as it turns out we were fine. A ridiculously young border guard asked me some questions about our camping equipment, listened somewhat half-heartedly to my answers before plunging into the core of the matter; "Any drugs?". When I could satisfy him with a clear "No!" in response, the rest was pretty much just paper work. And we got a stamp! Alas, by this time it was so late we ended up emergency camping on some dodgy backroad that set a new world record in the amount of potholes per square meter, and we got a zillion mosquito bites setting up the tent. First destination L'Viv took a while to figure out, but once we had it nailed this city became the first proper full-blown sightseeing session of the trip. As I am not the happiest of campers when temperatures are high and no water is to be found, this was all a bit too much for me. Sleeping arrangements were made on a hillside of a FSC forest that was supposed to hold bears. We saw none. The next day was spent driving to Kamyanets-Podilskyi, a smaller town in a natural park quite close to the Moldovan border. We spent a night in a hotel there, came across a Shell station (Yay!), accidentally reset the km reader for the trip (checking a fuse.. but we managed to calculate our way back to 2098 km so far), and again did a bit of sighsteeing in extreme heat. Ukraine became the by far champion country in numbers of nights spent as we were a bit time-confused the next day (reset the clock as well of course) and decided to go swimming and camping one more night instead of rushing across the border at dusk.

Short on Moldova (so far):
The border crossing was rather uneventful. Five desks where people wanted the exact same documents and answers to the exact same questions took about one hour, and the only unexpected event was a CO2 tax for non-Moldovian cars of 30 moldovan Leu, which we didn't have. Fortunately my relentless storing of money in all kinds of pockets turned up a 5 Euro bill in a jacket, which they accepted (even got change!) and we were free to go. Moldova has the biggest sunflower fields I have ever seen. They stretch so far all you can see is yellow. Beautiful.

As said, this is being written in the car while driving along one of Moldova's main highways as quickly as the endless potholes allow us. Roads have been pretty shitty since Southern Poland, but nothing like we expected when it comes to aggressive drivers. In fact, Latvia was by far the worst in that respect, since then it's been manageable (of course it helps to drive a car that accelerates ten times as quickly as the heaps of junk metal they drive down here (although there are really expensive cars around as well)). The road police has given us a couple of scares, as they are pretty much all over the place and will jump at the chance to squeeze some money out of a foreigner. After the first ticket we have, however, managed to get out of it with just being stopped one more time, also this deserved as Florentin made a dodgy left turn onto a main road. There's a first time for everything, including bribing police officers to let you go without a fine. 'Nuff said.

"Guide the cars, you've got the keys, farewell to mediocrity.
Kicking off the cruise control and turning up the radio,
got just enough religion and half a tank of gas,
come on, let's go!"

Bon Jovi - Lost Highway (Lost Highway, 2007)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Everlasting Love

I love this song. I mean it, I love it to bits. It makes me happy no matter how trodden down my general mood might be, and makes me want to dance around naked with flowers in my hair. Uhm. Well. It makes me happy, ok? :)

One of the things I love the most about this track is how many times it has been covered, and how, no matter how lousy the cover is, the song still never fails to put a smile on my face. So, now I want you to spend some time discovering why, by looking through a couple of the very, very smile-inducing videos I've linked to in the below. Wait until the very end to listen to the quote version. And then come back and tell me it didn't make you want to sing your heart out! I'll never believe it :D

The song was written by Cason/Gayden in the mid-sixties, and debuted by Robert Knight in -67. One of my most cherished tracks is the Love Affair version from -68, however. After that, artists like Carl Carlton, Rex Smith, Sandra, Gloria Estefan and U2 have covered it, and on the Bridget Jones Edge of Reason soundtrack there's an artsy-fartsy version by Jamie Cullum, which kinda makes me smile even broader because he tries to be so different and the song still owns his ass when he kicks off the choruses.

If the below version should, for all intents and purposes, fail to put a smile on your lovely face, find the U2 version. And while you're at it, remember to give this life we're leading some credit, because it's pretty darn beautiful!

"Where life's river flow, no one really knows
'till someone's there to show the way to lasting love.
Like the sun that shines, endlessly it shines.
You always will be mine, it's eternal love.
When other loves are gone, ours will still be strong.
We have our very own everlasting love."
Love Affair - Everlasting Love, 1968
Ah, and turn up the volume, damn it! :-)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Same Deep Water As You

I have the prettiest, fanciest and loveliest laptop in the whole wide world and I shall never ever sleep again.

"I will kiss you,
I will kiss you,
I will kiss you forever on nights like this."
The Cure - The Same Deep Water As You (Disintegration, 1989)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fill It With Devils And Dust

Today I finally finished Jane Eyre. After a couple of weeks of relentless social activity I took the afternoon to myself to sit down with the book in the sun and finish off this peculiar story. Although I am often puzzled at how little is taught of English classics in Nordic schools, I must admit there is a certain pleasure in being able to read books like this, Wuthering Heights and Sense and Sensibility without knowing how they will end.

I fell a little bit in love with Jane, but she does sometimes carry on something chronic about trivialities that made me wish she would just get on with it! Might not have been a good idea to not read any modern literature between Wuthering Heights and this one. I will now disappear back into the wonderful arms of Paul Auster for a few days, as I've recently completed my collection of his works and hence have a book or two (as if I didn't already have more than fifty unread waiting) to get through.

Movies watched:
Madame Bovary (the 1949 adaption) - Good, very good. What a horrible hag of a woman, though! Selfish to the end. Hoping for a fairytale ending my ass, what about taking responsibility for your own putrid actions?

La Dolce Vita - Ah, I hate Fellini. Sure, Ekberg was gorgeous, but this movie is just one big yawn of an exhausted attempt at being interesting.

Rocket Science - Not really what I had expected, and I'm no big fan of the leading chick. The leading boy does his job well enough, though, and I got a couple of laughs from it although I kinda think I wasn't really supposed to laugh at those moments.

"What if what you do to survive kills the things you love?"
Bruce Springsteen - Devils And Dust (Devils & Dust, 2005)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Thousand Beautiful Things

Strangely enough Richard Marx' Greatest Hits have been the soundtrack of the last couple of days. Don't ask me why. Today I am giving Annie Lennox' Bare (2003) a listen. Have had it for years, but never listened to it before now. It's quite nice, I always liked her voice.

In addition to the long list of movies below I watched Singin' in the Rain this weekend. Hadn't seen it before, and unfortunately I have to say it disappointed me a little. I guess being a classic and all I assumed it would have something brilliant going for it, but most of the time it just annoyed me a little and I was happy to see it end. I think part of it is that the female actresses give me the creeps.

Over the last two days I've watched Gone With the Wind, also this for the first time. Now here we have, on the other hand, a proper classic. I love this movie. But the ending! What's up with that? And I don't think Scarlett is annoyingly spoiled, I think she's just confused and fighting like a cat to get a grip on her existence. Oh, and Miss von Teese must have had Vivien Leigh in mind when she perfected her public facade.

"To live,
to die,
to breathe,
to sleep,
to try to make your life complete."
Annie Lennox - A Thousand Beautiful Things (Bare, 2003)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

...Not By Begging On His Knees

For some reason I've been waking up really early this weekend although nightly activities should have sent me sleeping until noonish the next mornings. Helsinki nightlife on both Friday and Saturday is a bit too much, to be honest. (Getting old, are we?) The good thing about early mornings is that I get to catch up on my reading and movie watching. Well, to be honest the reading is going nowhere at the moment as I am in my second month of trying to get through Jane Eyre. It's not that it's a bad story, it's just waaay too long! I wish they would just get married and have it over with, but apparently there's some kind of objection to that at this stage so I guess I'll be going at it for another week or so.

You, Me & Dupree has been passed over on numerous occassions as I'm not the biggest believer in the Wilson/Hudson combination. Quite harmless, of course, and surprisingly it did produce a number of laughs. Also, the soundtrack is at times interesting, so all in all a pleasant surprise.

One of my pet peeves is movies that deal with abnormalities, fetishes, things about which you shouldn't really speak. Movies like Fur, Quills, 9 1/2 Weeks and Sex, Lies & Videotape, I don't know, I just love them. I can now add another film to the list, after watching Secretary, a study in submission with Maggie Gyllenhaal as the leading lady. The choice of lead actress in particular makes this movie enjoyable, as her voice and stature suits the role perfectly. The story deals with a self-cutter who replaces an addiction with another as she starts working as a secretary for a young lawyer with a penchant for ladies who do as they're told. Also, the soundtrack is put together by Angelo Badalamenti (of Twin Peaks/Mulholland Drive fame).

I also watched the film adaption of Alessandro Baricco's Silk. I've not read the novel, as his Without Blood almost bored me to death when I read it a year or so ago. Keira Knightley, pretty although she may be, does little to lift this film. I have difficulties with Michael Pitt after seeing him in Funny Games, so he didn't really work either. The two Asian ladies portraying the far-off ideal woman and the closer-at-hand prostitute, are quite lovely and add to the visual strenghts of the movie (because beautiful it is, no doubt about that). The dialogue is quite modified to portray a less erotic image to the movie goers. A shame.

The Island (Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson) is another one of those movies that I've been passing over several times in my hunt for entertainment. Perhaps I should stop doing that, as this one again surprised me positively. It's kind of a mixture of Lost and Aeon Flux, and I even think Johansson did an ok figure. I must still be the only person on the planet who actually enjoy some of her songs but not really her movies, though. In fact, the best thing I've seen her in is Timberlake's video for What Goes Around Comes Around, and I suspect that to be mostly because the mood of the video reminds me of Bowie's The Heart's Filthy Lesson.

My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days is a French piece of overly artistic crap from 1989 that is "deeply affecting" according to Rotten Tomatoes, "deeply disturbing, boring and shitty" according to me. Not worth the time it takes to watch it.

Speaking of disturbing, a week or so ago I watched The Dreamers, the movie where Michael Pitt (again) hooks up with a couple of French twins. Apparently it's a well known fact that this movie deals with siblings that are a bit too close, but I didn't know and hence it gave me a bit of a start when they started being overly familiar with each other in a not so modest way. Could be interesting and quite down my alley of unmentionable topics, but the acting isn't very good and the menstruation scene in the bath was a bit... unsavory.

Apparently Once will be featured at the outdoor cinema Engel in a few weeks, and I might be interested in catching that. Also, me and David have been talking about doing the beer tram somewhere early July. Give me a shout if you're up for either.

"If you want a lover I'll do anything you ask me to.
And if you want another kind of love, I'll wear a mask for you."
Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man (I'm Your Man, 1988)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Why are the things that should be easy sometimes so difficult? And, at the same time, why do the peaks that at first seem insurmountable sometimes turn out to be the easiest to climb? I guess if I did have that roadmap it would all make sense, but at least without one you never get bored, right?

Next week I'll be going to Paris again. It's been more than a year since the last time I set foot in that lovely place, so I'm looking forward to roaming french streets again, with a slightly different mindset this time around. There shall be wine, there shall be flowers and there shall be fun. Hopefully also light, but sometimes when even God asks for that it seems nature is unwilling to comply. Finland has returned to the gloomy grey of late winter over the last week, with temperatures lingering around 5-7 degrees C. A bit too chilly for my liking, but I guess it'll pass.

My mind lingers on Iran. It seems everyone's going there now, except me. Not that I am complaining, I should be more than resourceful enough to get a move on myself, but it'll have to wait. For now. My mind is infected with travel bugs, and the multitude of possible locations is almost making me dizzy. How lovely would it not be to be a travel writer, or just simply unafraid enough to get up and leave? If my roots are not set, why am I so wary of pushing off and floating free? Ah, well, it'll come.

You know the version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me by The Mamas & the Papas (1968)? Well, the song was, of course, not theirs. It was written in '31 by a German called Gus Kahn who also wrote songs like It Had To Be You, My Baby Just Cares For Me and I'll See You In My Dreams. Although I love the wonders of the modern world (well, at least some of them), I cannot shake the romantic notion of an American Colonial porch in New Orleans with an old, scratchy record player transmitting the husky voice of Louis Armstrong. Perhaps we lived other lives in other times and that is why we have such unexplained affinities for certain phenomenon.

"Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams, whatever they be,
dream a little dream of me."
Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald - Dream A Little Dream Of Me (1950)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Want You To Trouble Me

I did a lot of this and that over the last week and a half, shortly summarized it pretty much comes down to music, beer, laughter, travelling, training (and bruising of the brain), working, swimming, sun worshipping, eating, more laughter, friends, love and warm(er) air (than usual).

I have a couple of basic issues to report:
- 30 degrees C in Finland does not mean that the water is warm.
- Peacocks (even Brittish ones) make a hell of a spectacle when they start screaming at night.
- People who work in factories think that the creativeness of Sales&Marketing people is bizarre.
- I'm cancelling my summer holiday trip to South America as there's been a change of plans.
- There are no Shell stations in Romania.

I watched Constantine for the fourth time on Sunday. Although Tilda Swinton's rendition of Gabriel is worth the watch, the movie is _not_ all that good. Anyway, this was the first time I noticed that APC's Passive is on the soundtrack, and it made me a little confused as it doesn't really fit in there. Oh, and Gavin Rossdale plays one of the demons. I've never reflected on that before either. Cute, that one, and I especially like the sleeziness with which he delivers his "finger-licking good".

Matchbox 20 made a brief re-appearance in my life this weekend as I listened to their More Than You Think You Are over a couple of days. I had a massive crush on Unwell back when it came out, and Downfall is also worth a listen. It's a pity Rob Thomas doesn't quite live up to his potential solo.

Fundamental question:
When faced with something scary, do you stay and face it, or do you turn your back and run as fast as you can? Lamb for slaughter or cowardly lion?

Oh, and I can't believe they just _lost_ a plane. How does that happen?

"Be my savior,
and I'll be your downfall."

Matchbox 20 - Downfall (More Than You Think You Are, 2002)

Friday, May 22, 2009

...And The Day Has Been Beautiful So Far

Hm. You figure; "Well, there's no way Norway's gonna win Eurovision this year, being favorites and all we're gonna end up at the bottom of the pile.", so you might as well host a party. The party was a brilliant congregation of prettily clad people, so although the goal of clearing large amounts of alcohol from my shelves backfired in a major way the evening was an unmitigated success. Wine party, anyone? Oh yes, and Norway won. Yay :)

The Gothminister concert last Friday was good fun as well. Me and Kjersti ended up ditching the warm-up act to have beers with Bjørn & co backstage until their gig started. It was nice to see Bjørn again, and Glenn being there was a pleasant surprise. The concert was the best I've seen them do so far, and Lotta and her friend who joined us were also up in flames over it all :)

Monday and Tuesday we had our country managers visiting, and the working days were spent in the training centre in Vantaa. Me and Sanna got to do a little sightseeing in outback Järvenpää in the evening before dinner, before I left to the airport to pick up my returnee Swiss friend.

A couple of thousand years ago Jesus made the choice to go back to his father's farm on a Thursday. As this was celebrated by having a day off yesterday, me and Florentin went off on a road trip to Kotka, a couple of hours drive east of Helsinki. We quite randomly stumbled upon a Kotka/Grankulla IFK football game, the Kotka aquarium (which I had no idea existed), a lovely park area along the Kotka river basin, and taking multiple detours on our way back we came upon an area of giant's kettles (pot holes) somewhere close to Askola. Yet another beautiful day :)

Today I am going to see IAMX in concert, and tomorrow there's the World Village festival here in Helsinki. I have a couchsurfer inbound from Tallinn tomorrow morning who will only stay one night, but I am nevertheless quite excited about hearing his story. Next week I'm off to Cranfield for three days of training.

This is another one of those "first I did this, and then I did that, and then..." posts, but I don't have time to think through any deeper matters at the moment. Life is good :)

"I'm here with you, driving in your car,
and the day has been beautiful so far."

Bertine Zetlitz - Beautiful So Far (Beautiful So Far, 2000)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Come Back To Me

I wrote this post a couple of days ago but yanked it down right after posting as I figured it was a bit over the top happy even for my current state of mind. On closer inspection, however, it is quite fitting.

Some weeks back I had a conversation about how things have a tendency of sorting themselves out. Whether I was born under a lucky star or perhaps my paying off debt to karma is working out, I don't know, but somehow things do fall into place for me. Not without hickups, but still, if someone steals your last dollar bill and then the next day you win the lottery, you're able to recover from the loss quite quickly, right? If I am a lion or any other predatory feline, at least I can trust I will always land on my two feet ;)

Today my apartment will be invaded by men in suits and women in dresses for this year's Eurovision. Can't wait, especially to see all my lovely girlfriends all dressed up in the same room! :)


Life, ladies and gentlemen, can not even be said to be good right now. It's as close to perfection as I think it gets. The picture above of Tiia, Scott and Dave pretty much sums it up, I think :)

"Your voice it keeps pursuing me,
and I should have acted differently, I know."

Minor Majority - Come Back To Me (Reasons To Hang Around, 2006)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

...When I Ruled The World

Blogging's not really working out for me at the moment. I don't know why, there just doesn't seem to be anything that wants to be put into words. Or rather, whatever there is it seems to be too much of an entangled mess to be sorted out properly.

A couple of things could be noted, however.
I had my yearly appraisal discussion with my manager this week. It was quite good, but it left me a bit ambivalent when it comes to my future. When I moved to Finland I figured it would be for two years. Then I took my current position, and I figured that would be for two years. So come next April, what do I do - do I stay or do I leave? Truth is, I have no idea. I guess I'm waiting for someone to tell me, although I know well that's not going to happen (and even if it did I probably wouldn't listen).

I'm going to see Gothminister-Bjørn in Nosturi tomorrow (to the right, looking scary backstage with bananas). Before that I'm hooking up with the Norwegian crowd for a pre-May 17th dinner after work (the picture above is of Audun and Kjersti in Iguana). And, I have to get through both of these things without getting tipsy as I am hosting an Eurovision party on Saturday that I need to fix things for. What am I thinking? I don't know, but Sunday will be spent in a fun induced coma.

I don't really know why, but I feel a bit thinly stretched right now. So, off to bed. Sleep tight, world.

"I discovered that my castles stand
upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand."

Coldplay - Viva La Vida (Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 2008)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Next Plane Out

Some days back, whilst having a cigarette in our lovely smoking room at work, someone said something about loneliness. True to form, Miia picked up a word and started singing. To my gargantuan surprise, what came out this time around was a Celine Dion tune! And not just any tune, a rather random one from The Colour of My Love, and of course I also know it by heart. I think Kjersti almost had a brain bleed right there and then, and I do feel a little uncomfortable quoting it at the end of this post. Anyway, nice to know I'm not the only one hauling around song lyrics I have little use for in my head.

My Swiss friend left Finland on Thursday, taking a substantial part of my equilibrium with him across the Baltic Sea to Rostock. All evening and most of the day on Friday I was one hundred percent sure I would never ever take the chance of letting a couchsurfer into my life again if they would keep on leaving with fragments of my soul, but quite unexpectedly I already Saturday morning headed into town to pick up Bianca and Emilie, two German girls who needed adopting. As I was not really prepared to host this weekend, both mentally and timewise, they were left to their own devices most of the time, but I think they managed well. I took them to Bar 9, of course, and then onto an unofficial CS event at Olutkellari where Rock Delusion did a bunch of covers and loads of smiles were to be seen. Good times!

I'm starting to wonder if the invasion of German speakers into my life over the last couple of months should be telling me something. My understanding of the language is getting better by the day, but with the speaking I am still too impatient to pick it up again. It frustrates me to have to search for the words and to know I'm not getting the grammar right. Maybe it's time to sign up for a refreshment course.

I am so restless!

"I listen to the sound of the rain falling down my window,
praying for a gentle wind to bring my baby back again.
Trying to be strong, but I'm not getting any stronger,
loneliness is tearing apart this heart of mine."
Celine Dion - Next Plane Out (The Colour Of My Love, 1993)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Any Other Day

Blog silence is good silence!

Last Monday I welcomed my first ever couchsurfer into my home, and although I was a little nervous to begin with I must deem it an unmitigated success. A young Swiss gentleman called Florentin has been kind enough to enrich my life as what was intended to be a two day stay turned into one and a half weeks of integration into my social life and a spontaneous three day road trip to Oulu.

After a lively JD Vappu celebration last week, we hit the road heading north. We took the coast route through Pori, Vaasa and Kokkola, with only one unintended detour and little traffic. The 800 km drive took us around 8 hours not counting numerous breaks, so we made good time considering the long and winding minutes spent behind trucks and trailers.

Oulu I must say was not what I expected. I can imagine it's quite a nice place in summer, and already now the weather was more than warm enough to enjoy strolling through the city. It does leave something to be desired with regards to an organized city centre, but along the waterfront there are plenty of cuteish hang-outs for food and sun worshipping. We spent half of Saturday there before we went on a roadtrip within the roadtrip, up to the Swedish border crossing of Haparanda and to the island of Seskarö where we consumed a bit of wild game and watched the locals posing for pictures on the beach. We were hoping to go swimming, but up north the ice has not yet broken and hence there was no chance to jump in the water (thank God).

Heading back from Oulu we took the inland route through Jyväskÿlä, Jämsä and Lahti. My oh, so clean car changed color from black to brown as we set off on muddy local country roads around Pihtipudas to locate a Shell station in Keitele (and as it turns out that station only caters to diesel trucks), and suffice to say I got my fair share of Finnish country side! The stretch from Jyväskylä through Jämsä down to Lahti is gorgeous, and much more similar to Norway than anything I've seen as of yet in Finnish nature.

All in all, we did close to 2000 km this weekend, spending around 23 hours in the car and listening to dozens of albums. Although this sounds like way too much it is possibly the best roadtrip I've ever been on, and I only regret not having time off to be able to continue down the Swedish coastline on to Stockholm and taking the car back by boat from there. It definitely gave me the inspiration to rekindle my thoughts around a Romania trip, although this year it's not likely to happen.

On top of the travel loveliness, I think I've learnt more about myself in the last days than the last couple of years combined. How do you react when a complete stranger inhabits your guest room, what do your instincts say, and are you able to fully understand and comply with them? I've experienced a mixture of maternal instincts kicking in, extreme honesty and need for trust and the kind of intensity that comes from having little time. I think I've gained a long-lasting connection from it all, and although I don't think I'm likely to find a CS match again that will be able to dig out the same amount of "spontaneous me" from underneath it all, I will keep it up and hopefully be able to learn some more about myself and the world in the process.

"I like where this is going,
yeah, cause I know where it's been."
Bon Jovi - Any Other Day (Lost Highway, 2007)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

...And So The Lion Fell In Love With The Lamb

No music this time around. Emilia was kind enough to lend me her newly purchased copy of Twilight a week back, and I've spent a fair share of hours in front of the screen gorging myself on this example of stangely addictive pop culture.

Attraction is on the agenda today. If I could bottle whatever it is that makes certain individuals so insanely attracted to each other I would probably be a rich woman. If such a thing was possible I have no doubt it would end in a horrible mess. What about then bottling something that makes the attraction go away? I'm sure we've all been there, on the sideline of our own lives, watching ourselves fall head over heels with what looks like a hopeless situation. How practical it would be to know the trick to make it all go away.

Reality is, of course, neither of the two comes in bottles. Intriguing thought, though, to be able to switch on and off that electrical current that fills the air when you meet someone all your senses tune into. I wonder, would I use it to an extent where I went numb and no longer knew how to appreciate it, or would I cleverly savour it for the occassions where I knew I would not end up broken and bruised?

Am I the stupid lamb, or the sick, masochistic lion?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Don't Know What More To Ask For

Sometimes people make me proud. A few days back, the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs decided not to follow some of his Nordic colleagues out the door in protest as their Iranian counterpart went on an anti-semitic speech spree in the UN. I have no doubt his brain was bleeding as much as theirs were, but as he was the next speaker on the list he chose to remain seated and instead spoke up against the debacle of it all when his time came. I respect that. Neither choice could have been especially easy, but the fact that he took a verbal stand in a forum where people deem it politically dangerous to critizise is a good thing. People should do that more, silence is not the way.

What about me? Do I take a stand on issues I burn for? I think I do, although I could probably do it more actively. Take animal rights, for instance, or gender balance in business. When I first came to Finland I tried a couple of times to volunteer for animal shelters, but they did not want people who didn’t speak Finnish. I think that is a bit strange, as the animals that need help basically couldn’t care less if the person who shows them love has language skills that keep her from saying much other than color combinations, “A beer, please!” and “I have red curtains.”. I’ll try again, a bit more ardently this time around. Fortunately I work in a company where gender politics are not really an issue as we have an impressive amount of female managers considering the industry we operate in.

Other times I might have too much action in me. It’s hard for me to burn for something and keep quiet about it even though I know it can create a mess to speak up. If people treat my friends wrongly, for instance, I go all up in flames and have a hard time settling down, even though sometimes I have to. I should probably let them fight their own causes in peace, but then again I want my friends to burn as hotly for me when something goes pear-shaped.

I haven’t written about individual versus society in a while, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Are we inherently good, and if so is it the presence of others that negates that potential in us? No matter how much I try to shake my disbelief in the human race, experience won’t let me. Someone always gets hurt, no action lacks consequence, and no word spoken disappears without a trace. So, if a certain amount of hurt will always be the outcome, is that necessarily bad? Something always has to go to create progress, right? No spring without winter, no life without death, etc.

I think that life is too short to sit on the fence. Inaction, complacency and passiveness annoy me as if they were offences against life itself. We’ve been given this tiny fragment of time to do something with, and it’s almost insulting to me that some people choose to make so little of it. I love my passion for things, it’s what drives me! I try to not be too scared to follow my ideas or to make choices that might end up bruising me. Lack of self preservation instinct, you say? I don’t think so, I think I am just lucky enough to know that bruises heal, both mine and others’, and that there is too much to earn by burning, loving, laughing and taking leaps of faith to not. After all, what else is there?

“It’s about you and the sun,
a morning run,
the story of my Maker,
what I have and what I ache for.”

Röyksopp – What Else Is There? (The Understanding, 2005)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Someone Like You

I spent Monday attending our yearly dealer award event in Copenhagen. 23 degrees C in the sun, loads of happy dealers, and good food. Even the hours spent in aiports going there and back home could do little to dampen the mood of the day. Emilia was kind enough to lend me her copy of Eskobar's A Thousand Last Chances (2004) on Sunday, a record that went missing from my collection in April 06. The influence Love Strikes has on the splendidness of things cannot even be put into words. :D

Speaking of splendidness, I finally got around to actually buying a copy of Kings of Leon's Only By The Night (2008), and have just spent a full working day working on Terms of Sales documents with Use Somebody in my ears. If I could make everyone listen to this and Love Strikes, I think world peace might just be the result. In the very least the world would be a better place.

Tell you what, let's perform an experiment:
If you never take the time to follow the links in my lyric endings, please at least click this one, turn up the volume (I mean it, and if you have headphones where you are, put them on!), close your eyes (don't care about the visuals) and just _feel_ that urge to be alive and to love. Let me know how it made you feel. And then do it again! :)

Now, dinner with Kjersti (and, as it turned out, Emilia and Miia)!

"You know that I could use somebody,
someone like you and all you know and how you speak."
Kings of Leon - Use Somebody (Only By The Night, 2008)
(Link updated to their Brit Award performance, should now work in all countries.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Want III

Yeah, so I don't know about the mixing my blog with my fiction project. Might leave it with that one attempt :)

Today is an utterly lovely Sunday in Espoo. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the good trend of sleeping through the full night has not worn off. I have to admit, though, that it'll be kind of nice to close this week. Heading over to Emilia's place in a short while to drop off some stuff, and then going to the movies tonight to see Moodysson's Tillsammans.

After Hanne left on Monday I spent the day moping around and staring at the walls, before deciding to hook up with Anu for Bar 9 chicken. Scott and Kjersti joined us, and Tuesday was tired. Wednesday me, Kjersti and Emilia rejoined the lovely world of the Cullens at Emilia's place, and there was no end to the giggling. I then went to Cuba to meet up with Dave and Kaisu, and of course that got way too late. Thursday was a right disaster as the NNE what-ever-it-is-that-goes-around thing decided to hit me in the face, but I was back in good form on Friday, just in time to make a not-really-planned-for appearance in Bruuveri.

Yesterday I was working on cleaning up some of my bad karma, and took Kjersti and Emilia to IKEA. Now, of all the things to do on a Saturday this _better_ earn me some points in someone's book! A short run later (Sanna has successfully managed to get me onto a running program) I was happy to be informed that Dave's Wolves have qualified for the Premier League next season. More company for football in Elmo next season! Yay :D He ended up coming over to my place for some past midnight celebratory wine, and by that my weekend without alcohol was officially without doubt a failure.

I'm trying to come up with a new obsession or two. I'm thinking jigsaw puzzles. I like'em, and I have enough floor space to do one of the really, really big ones. Maybe, if I'm determined, I'll stick with the running long enough for that to grow on me. I miss swimming, but I'm struggling to motivate myself to get up at six in the morning now that my sleeping is in order again. In any case, there's always more music, more books, more movies and more people. Lust for life, baby :)

"I want the sky to fall in,
I want lightning and thunder.
I want blood instead of rain,
I want the world to make me wonder.
I want to walk on water,
take a trip to the moon.
Give me all this and give me it soon."
The Cure - Want (Wild Mood Swings, 1996)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don't Make It Tempting

Sometimes I write fiction. It's not something I do because I want people to comment on it, so I do it anonymously on a blog that is not connected with me in any traceable way. What I write usually originates from something that's going on in my head, and I guess that's part of the reason why I don't want it to be read by people who will read to much into it or interpret it as anything other than fiction.

This evening I had a conversation that led me onto the track of wanting to post one of my old texts. The below was written in February 2008, and although the words themselves are fictional they were based on my state of mind at the time, which in a way has strong similarities with my current one. As an experiment I'll upload it here, to see how I feel about people I know possibly interpreting it wrongly. The title of this post is from When U Find Someone by Ken Stringfellow (Soft Commands, 2004), and the last line of the below text is from the same song, and my all time favorite lyric quote. I've taken the text down from my fiction blog to disable cross-referencing. Enough loitering, here goes:

Strong, independent women are we. Never shall we bow to the will of a man, of any man. We shall overcome all the hardships sent our way and prove ourselves in the world of testosterone and facial hair. But what do we gain in losing our femininity? What has women won by growing ever more like men?

He doesn't really know me, this one. He's drawn to me because of my strength, the prospect of someone who'll keep him in line ties him to me and he's not ashamed of it. Sometimes he tells me, "I'm not much for making decisions, so we'll just do whatever you want.", or "It's so sexy when women take charge.". So sexy it hurts.

The last time he left me, I cried. I managed to wait until he was out the door, but he knew I was sad. He just didn't want to see it, so he kissed me on the cheek and hurried out the door and out to the waiting taxi that would take him to the airport and far away from me. I was too female right then, too fragile. He told me once, "I hate it when you cry. It makes me feel powerless, in a way I've not chosen myself.". He likes that I am strong and that I control him, but only because it is his choice.

I will see him again in a matter of hours, and I know this will be the last time. He has drawn away from me, little by little, starting to understand that I am not the tower of impenetrable steel he first thought. Frightened that I will come to rely on his presence or his love, not wanting to be the caretaker. Self-imposed emotional emasculation.

So I will take the lead again. I'll walk him through three days of impatient sex without holding back and without showing emotion. And when I leave, for it is my turn to travel this time, I will wait until I am out the door before I cry. I do not love him, but I so long to be in his shoes.

Show me your strengths, and I'll show you what surrender can be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maybe You're Better Off This Way

My CD collection has a big, gaping Tool-shaped hole in it according to a lot of people, but Maynard's main project never really got me going. A Perfect Circle, on the other hand, got under my skin back in 2001 when 3 Libras was released on single, and I ended up buying Mer De Noms (2000). At some point I have also acquired a copy of their 2004 album, Emotive, although I do not think I've listened to it more than a couple of times.

Four days with Hanne got me through a good amount of records, including Emotive, and ohmygod, how have I not picked up the Maynard/Trent connection? How? It is actually a shame to put an actual blog text in a post dedicated to this song as it should speak for itself, so I might have to run it again with only the lyrics. Because sometimes, the world still burns, and songs like this makes me want to burn with it, to erase all traces of passiveness, complacency and cowardliness that rub off from others.

Every so often everyone needs someone to tell them to get a grip and remember who they are. I've slept through every one of the last five nights without my insomnia rearing its ugly head.
Enough said.

"Wake up and face me,
don't play dead, cause maybe
someday I will walk away and say;
"You fucking disappoint me!"
Maybe you're better off this way."
A Perfect Circle - Passive (eMOTIVe - 2004)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Apartment Story

Today is the last year of this year's Easter break, and what a good one it has been! Thursday morning I only did a couple of hours in the office before heading over to Vantaa to pick up the person who knows me best in this world from the airport. This was to be Hanne's first time in Finland and my first attempt at merging Oslo and Helsinki.

Thursday brought with it some sightseeing, starting with the white church and the national library (have you not been to the latter, just get your behind moving and go!), followed by a Cafè Engel lunch and a trip to the Russian orthodox cathedral (turned out to be closed). The weather was all sunny and nice, but for some reason all the winds of the world had decided to gather forces in Helsinki on this day. We also managed to squeeze in the Johannes church and a walk about the Helsinki design museum before we ended the sightseeing session to go home and get ready for the evening's adventures.

Thursday night Lotta and Dave joined us at my place for drinks before we headed into town to see Combichrist in Gloria. I was a little baffled by the amounts of people that had donned their gothest outfits - it was almost like someone had picked out all the fanciest Arvika people and placed them in the same room. I wore jeans and pink sneakers. Hm. There's a good amount of what I'd call "pink goths" here, the ones that kinda pick some neon color to go with black and stick with it, hair, clothes and make-up and all.

The first warm-up act combined industrial with accordion. Very bizarre, and the white, tight pants worn by the singer made it a little difficult to focus on pleasantness. The second warm-up act was voluntarily missed due to beeriness in the bar regions of the club. There was some good DJ'ing going on in between the two. Combichrist delivered one of the better concerts I've seen with them, although I suddenly towards the end got really fed up with their inane woman-bashing lyrics. That arrogant little prick of a man has no right flinging the vocabulary he does at a room full of strong females! (As said, I was fed up.)

Friday I introduced Hanne to the loveliness of Bar no 9, and to my great pleasure she had to admit the lemon chicken is everything I said it was. Later in the day we drove out to Deb and David's for the first BBQ of the season. Other guests were their lovely neighbours and Ellen, who I will be a little sad to see going back to the States at the end of April.

Saturday I had to make a judgement call on whether or not to continue the social attack, and ended up deciding to give us a break from new people. Well, almost. We went out to meet Anu and her friend Laura at Bar 9, which was lovely as I hadn't seen her in ages, before going to Dong Bei Hu for Chinese dinner.

Dong Bei Hu used to be located right across the street from where Scott lives. I've only eaten there once, as I was horribly disappointed by the fact that the "most authentic Chinese restaurant in Helsinki" produced the same generic crap all the rest of them do. They have moved, and something favorable has kicked in cooking wise.

I had gan bian si ji dou (dry-fried green beans), a dish that alongside the gan bian'ed beef has driven me to return to China several times, and it was spot on! They went a little over the top on the Sechuan peppercorns, but as the spiciness is exactly what has me so addicted to this dish I was fine with it. The meal was smiles and happiness all around :)

The rest of Saturday was spent in the sun on my balcony with good wine and beer, and me and Hanne ended up talking long into the wee hours of the next morning. Sunday was somewhat more tired, and we basically did nothing. Well, not entirely true... we watched some movies and I got Hanne knitting! :D

As I drove her to the airport this morning, I have to admit being a little sad that Hanne was leaving. Just like I can't imagine what my life would be like without some of my friends here in Finland, she is irreplaceable and I sometimes don't realise how much I miss her in my daily life.
Takk for besøket :)

"So worry not,
we'll be all right.
We have our looks
and perfume on."

The National - Apartment Story (The Boxer - 2007)