There are a lot of things I like in the world.
Dumbcat. The Nephew. The smell of the air in the fall. Watching television virtually with sj. The excitement I still feel every single time right before the curtain goes up before a play starts, no matter how many plays I watch in my life.
A thing I like a LOT a lot?
Virtually travelling with my internet friends.
See, I’m a poor person? As you’re all aware. The farthest I get to travel is to visit my parents upstate. And even that doesn’t get to happen much anymore, due to unemployment and such. Sometimes to New York City but that’s only once every few years or something (which is NOT OFTEN ENOUGH.) I went to Florida this year but only because Dad paid for it because he loves me. This summer, if all goes well, I get to go to Massachusetts for the first time ever. I KNOW! That’s totally exciting, you’re all coming with me. (It’s all on the newspaper’s dime, too. As long as they keep me on over there, they’re sending me there to review shows this summer. To a SWANKY theater. Where FAMOUS people act. I KNOW! Sometimes I honestly pinch myself. OW STOP THAT.)
Berkshire Theatre Festival!!! I MIGHT GET TO GO TO THERE!!!
Anyway, I am lucky enough to know people who live in fancy places and who are VERY patient with me. The second part of that is equally as important as the first part. Just because they live in fancy places doesn’t mean I’d get to virtually bon vivant along with them. The fact that they are the most patient when I say things like “ZOMG WE ARE GOING TO BERLIN?!?!” or “I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME TO THE ZOO RIGHT NOW TO SEE THE PENGUINS” or “TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR VACATION FLAT FOR ME I DO NOT EVEN CARE THAT YOU ARE SLEEPING FROM THE JET LAG.” (Oh, yeah, I use a lot of all-caps when virtual bon vivantery is involved. It makes me very excited. Oh, fine, I can’t even hide it from you, I use all-caps all the time. I AM VERY EXCITABLE I CAN’T EVEN PRETEND I’M NOT.)
Anyway, I am very lucky I have bon-vivanty friends who are ALSO patient friends and find my loud excitement about all things more charming than annoying. THANK YOU FRIENDS.
This week, we had another opportunity for virtual bon vivantery!
ANDREAS WENT TO HELSINKI!!!
OK, so Andreas lives on the Åland Islands. The internet tells me they are an archipelago. ARCHIPELAGO! I think it would be fun to live on an archipelago. When I was a wee Amy I pronounced that wrong and a teacher laughed at me and I was HORRIFIED. Teachers shouldn’t be allowed to laugh at kids who are trying to pronounce hard words. They should be SUPPORTIVE and correct them NICELY. Just because third-grade-Amy thought it was “arch-ih-pell-AH-go” and not “ark-ih-pell-uh-go” doesn’t mean you get to mock. I WAS A TEENY KID AND THAT IS A BIG WORD WITH GREEK ROOTS YOU JERK.
Here are the Åland Islands in relation to Helsinki.
See? There are Andreas’ islands over there, and then Helsinki off to the right.
Andreas told me his job was sending him to Helsinki for a work-thing. WELL! That is a fancy job, right? They have ice-cream Fridays (no, seriously, THEY HAVE ICE-CREAM FRIDAYS) and then last week they SENT HIM TO HELSINKI. On a PLANE. He didn’t have to get in a company van or ANYTHING. (I’ve never worked somewhere that sent me somewhere on a plane. Once I worked somewhere that sent me to New York on the train a couple times, which was awesome, and once I worked somewhere where part of my job was to go around the state and do these events but I had to go in the company station wagon or van depending on how many other coworkers went with me. NEVER ON A PLANE!)
Andreas assured me it was not a very long plane trip (because, well, I worry, and the whole time planes are in the air I have to send out “STAY UP PLANE!!!” vibes) and that he would totally get to spend the night. THIS IS FUN!
So of course I said ANDREAS ANDREAS ANDREAS WILL YOU SEND ME PHOTOS OF HELSINKI?
And because he is Andreas he said he would. He didn’t even seem annoyed. Isn’t that the best? Yes, it totally is.
Here, I think we’re going to need some background about Helsinki.
First: if you LIVE in Helsinki, you don’t CALL it Helsinki. You call it “Helsingfors.” Well, I like that a lot. Andreas said it was NOT exciting but as you can see, it is.
Well, after I said that, Andreas AGREED it was a VERY fun name. (Or maybe he just pretended he did. Or my infectious joy just amuses him. One of those things.)
Ooh, look at Olivier’s Van Helsing. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS YO.
If you look up Helsinki on Wikipedia you can find this very funny link that tells you how to pronounce “Helsingfors” and it is AWESOME. No, seriously, click this and listen. “HelsingFORSH!” The guy sounds VERY SERIOUS. I’ve played that ten times in a row and giggled every time.
Helsinki is the capital of the Land of Finns. There is much water and many islands. On one of the islands is a zoo. A ZOO! On an ISLAND! It is called the Korkeasaari Zoo. I like that word because it sounds like bubbles popping in your mouth. Here, the internet tells me these animals are at that zoo:
EUROPEAN OTTERS! I can only assume these are fancier than regular otters, and probably eat croissants for breakfast.
Also, there is an island called Pihlajasaari, which is where the gay people and “naturalists” hang out. “Naturalists” means nudists. So they’re both euphemistically and also literally hanging out, I suppose. I am all for going to the gay island but not as much into the naked island because, well, naked has its place, but all out in public makes the little Catholic girl in me giggle and hide my face behind a hymnal.
ALSO, in the WINTER, the sun only lasts for six hours. SIX HOURS! And in the SUMMER, it lasts for NINETEEN HOURS. What? What is this madness? Andreas, you so didn’t tell me that you lived in a land of the magical sun. Is the sun magical on your islands, too, or only in Van Helsing City?
Helsinki is VERY PRETTY. Look look look:
Isn’t that lovely? YES IT IS.
People in Finland speak Finnish. Well, obviously. But Andreas says – well, here, I’ll let him tell you:
No one says “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” to you if you speak Swedish in the streets anymore, although I’ve been told it still happens in bars sometimes.
Well, I was on my phone at the time, so I tried to make the phone translate this, but the phone was all NO NO AMY. (My laptop has a much better translation program on it. When you have fancy international friends, you need to translate shit all Johnny-on-the-spot. It gets a workout, that program.)
Does that mean something like, “You’re in Finland; speak Finnish?” I’m on my phone & my translate function here isn’t as good as on the laptop.
Andreas’ reply made me giggle.
Yes, it does: “In Finland, we speak Finnish!” It’s a dig against the Swedish speaking minority.
…One of my colleagues…told me that he had that happen to him when speaking Swedish with a few friends at a bar. Some random guy came up and said “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” My colleague then replied in Finnish: “I speak what I want. You speak what you can”, hinting at the general lack of Finnish speaking people of being able to speak any other language, including Swedish. A retort like that is usually cause for a fight in Finland, either with or without knives. It’s a strange and violent place.
I told Andreas “Finland! It’s a strange and violent place!” should be the national motto. I just looked online and apparently Finland doesn’t even HAVE a national motto. Well! Finland! Andreas and I just FOUND you one. You are WELCOME. We’ll take our commission in travel vouchers to visit your city, please.
So once Andreas got there, he sent me this:
I was ok with that. I can be patient, if I have to be.
BUT THEN WE GOT PHOTOS YOU GUYS!
Here is what is, according to Andreas, a “typical Helsinki street”:
Look! A train! Or perhaps a tram! Something trainy-trammy! Also the light is pretty and I like the buildings. I am very impressed by Helsinki. Also, I am very impressed that Andreas followed through on his promise to send me photos. MY ANDREAS IS THE BEST ANDREAS.
Then poor Andreas emailed me later in the day that they made him work ALL DAY and he didn’t get to play at ALL and so he didn’t even get to bon vivant. I felt awful. NO NOT FOR ME. I honestly would rather, if given the option, have Andreas have a wonderful time without me getting a single photo than him being in a happy city without being able to play at all. I do these things in my head a lot. Like these tests. “Would you jump in front of a car for this person” or “Let’s say this person was dying of cancer and you had the option of YOU dying of cancer instead of THEM, would you do it?” It’s how I measure how much I love someone. What, you don’t do that? FINE, I never said my brain wasn’t broken, sheesh. I’ve done this since I was a kid. It’s not normal?
Andreas was not fazed by the fact that he didn’t get to play, however. He still sent me photos. This is why Andreas is the best, and if a flaming out-of-control zeppelin was coming right for us, I’d push him out of the way and take the hit. ANDREAS PASSES THE ZEPPELIN TEST.
This is a picture out of the window of his office. Isn’t Helsinki pretty? I told Andreas that when I come to visit someday (BECAUSE I TOTALLY AM GOING TO DAMMIT) we would go to Helsinki and properly bon vivant it.
Then he sent me this, and this is how I know Andreas is meant to be my friend for the rest of my life. Well, I already knew. But this…well, this pushed it right over the edge.
Just because he thought I would find it interesting, he sent me a photo of his hotel room.
Without even KNOWING that I am OBSESSED with hotel rooms. Like, you don’t even know. The other photos were EXCITING – I mean, Helsinki! – but this one made me laugh and clap.
When I was a little kid (Andreas knew NONE of this) I always thought that people that got to stay in hotels were the fanciest and once I got to stay in a hotel, *I* would be fancy. So I went years and years without ever getting to stay in a hotel. Then when I was like, oh, I don’t know, ten or something, we went on a trip and I got to stay in a hotel. And it was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things in the ENTIRE WORLD. Someone else’s bed! With crisp clean sheets! VENDING MACHINES IN THE HALLWAY WITH ALL THE FOODS AND SODAS! Little soaps and wee shampoos and you could HAVE them! A bucket to put ice in, and a machine that dumped ALL THAT ICE in the bucket! A TV you could WATCH from your BED!
I decided I wanted to live in a hotel.
I still get that same thrill about hotels. There’s something so exciting about a hotel. You could be anyone in that room. You could be a killer or a celebrity or a spy on the lam. I only pretend t0 be citified; I’m really only a country girl at heart and things like hotels and tall buildings and trains and fancy restaurants make me very excited and I’m a ten-year-old who hasn’t left her teeny-tiny town ever and is all huge eyes and “ZOMG LOOK AT THAT!!!”
So Andreas showing me his hotel room, without him even knowing it, made me SO EXCITED.
And when I explained this to him, he was cool as ice about it, yo.
I thought you would!
He knows me well, you guys. Not even in the least bit surprised by this Amy-development.
THEN, as an Andreas-addendum (an And-endum?) I got home the other day and I had a PACKAGE from Andreas. I wasn’t even EXPECTING one. IT WAS A SURPRISE PACKAGE! Well, now, THAT’S exciting! I don’t get surprises in the mail!
Andreas asked me to make a video reacting to what was inside the package. So I did. YOU CAN SEE IT TOO! It’s not a secret. And you can see what’s inside the package of SECRETS from FINLAND. Andreas is the best, sincerely.
(The preview picture of this video makes me laugh; it looks like I’m about to teach you a lesson. A LICORICE LESSON.)
Then I told Dad about what I got in the package. His response?
“It’s licorice? But it’s salty? You can take the salt off, though?”
I said, no. It’s all mixed into the licorice.
“What the hell is wrong with Finland. You don’t put SALT in DESSERTS. They don’t know what the hell is going on in that land of the Finns. SALT IS FOR POPCORN OR FRENCH FRIES.”
Dad did not approve.
Andreas, I hope the next time you go to Helsinki, also known as the land of Van Helsing in Amy-speak, you get to play and bon vivant and have the best of times, but don’t get shanked in a bar for speaking Swedish. And if you see your way clear to bringing your crazy-eyed, unruly-haired Merkan blogger friend with you, well, she wouldn’t complain. Not even a little bit.
THANK YOU ANDREAS!