Category Archives: Finland

When it rains, it pours. And I never remember my umbrella.

The universe has a funny way of loading a lot on you all at once and then saying, “‘kay, I’m going to leave you to figure this out…good luck with that” and then taking off to traipse through the celestial flowers or whatever the universe does on its day off.

2014, so far, has been the year of both getting my ass kicked and kicking ass back. Gigantic highs and huge old lows.

I went to the land of the Finns…

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn't like anyone stopped you...)

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn’t like anyone stopped you…)

...and I got to see this in really real person...

…and I got to see this in really real person…

...and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world...

…and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world…

...and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle...

…and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle…

...and I got to sleep with this guy...

…and I got to sleep with this guy…

...this lovely lady...

…this lovely lady…

...and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

…and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

Then things kind of went to shit once I got home…in a nutshell, I was let go from an amazing job and all-too-quickly took a job that was offered, mostly out of fear of not having one. To say it was a nightmare is to speak a little too well of what went on at that job. But, professional grown-up ladies don’t badmouth places of employment, right? Right.

I put up with what I think can correctly be called Emotional Abusetown for four months, and then quit. Without a backup plan. Because sometimes you need to run. I mean, come on, Kenny Rogers taught me that when I was a wee Amy, right? I’m still not sure when to hold ‘em or fold ‘em, but I am VERY good at knowing when to run. Even when it doesn’t seem like a good idea because you won’t have health insurance in your life on the lam.

However, the universe (good old universe) decided maybe I didn’t have ENOUGH going on, so threw in the MOST EPIC CURVEBALL.

It said a lot about Emotional Abusetown that after three days there, I started jobhunting again. I applied near, and when nothing seemed to be coming of it, I applied far. And I decided to stretch a little for the kinds of jobs I wanted, not just settle for the kinds of jobs I could do, but wouldn’t be all that soul-enhancing. What the hell, right?

So when I got a call from a newspaper wanting me to do a phone interview in the middle of the day one day, I looked around for the hidden cameras. People like me didn’t get calls from newspapers, right? Unless it was a person wanting them to SUBSCRIBE to the newspaper.

Over a few weeks, I actually got calls from TWO newspapers. I had multiple phone interviews and one full-day in-person interview. (Yes, you read that right. The interview was – withour the slightest bit of hyperbole – six and a half hours long. It was almost an entire workday. And I did work, too. It was as if I was actually working for quite a bit of the day.)

Hey, guess what?

Both papers hired me.

One paid so little I couldn’t afford to take the job without taking another job (at least part-time, if not close to full-time) to make ends meet. It would have been a very good job. It was a reporter position for my hometown paper, the paper I read growing up that taught me to love newsprint. But it’s a very small town, and a small-town newspaper can’t afford to pay much. I said no, but sadly.

The other paid better, but not as much as I’m used to making. There was a lot of thinking involved. When the editor called with the job offer and explained that, in order to get me to say yes, he’d moved some things around and added on some extra things here and there just to bump up the bottom line…well. How can you say no to that?

So of course I said yes. I am their newest copy editor, and will also be doing some social media, and maybe some writing and reviewing, if the need arises.

Thing is…the really HARD thing is…

…the job is here.

You know I love it here in the Capital District. It’s home, and it’s been home for 12 years (12 years this weekend, actually – I moved here Labor Day weekend 2002.) My heart is here. That’s never happened anywhere I’ve lived, this sense of pride and ownership of place. I’m completely at home here. I feel very safe here.

But, around the time I got back from my adventure overseas, I’d started to get the itch.

Do you get this? This itch that something’s off, and something needs to change? It’s not something small, like, something that can be fixed by going out and buying a new outfit or a getting a kicky haircut (although those itches happen, too, sometimes.) This is a bigger itch, where you don’t feel comfortable in your skin, and something BIG needs to change. I used to get this quite often, which was ok, because when I was younger, I changed jobs or apartments or cities on the regular. But it seems you don’t outgrow the itch. It still shows up out of nowhere and starts bumping around your head like a fly made stupid with autumn.

I thought that finding a new job would satisfy it, and it would – it will. But the universe is, if anything, a trickster. So the universe said, “Sure! Here’s a new job. The new job is, actually, a job you’ve been dreaming of for, oh, only your whole LIFE. But here’s the catch – you have to move three hours away to a town where you only know one person and that you’ve never been in for more than half an hour. Also, the winters are kind of cuckoo-bananas. So, how are you going to handle THAT?”

I’m handling that by spending the last week packing everything I own…

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It's insurmountable.

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It’s insurmountable. Believe me, Dumbcat has tried. And failed.

…cancelling all my utilities, apartment-hunting, saying goodbye to people, quitting my two part-time jobs, sleeping too little, fretting too much, trying to get Dumbcat to understand I will NOT be leaving him behind so he doesn’t have to cling to me like a remora, and getting ready to leave my home for my new town.

I somehow had the best luck in the world and found the perfect apartment with the very first one I saw – really close to work, in a nice area, wood floors, fireplace, a ton of space, a yard, a porch…and only a wee bit more than I’m paying now. And the new landlord seems delightful. She gave it to me almost immediately, even though other people had applied. I think she knew it was a me-place as much as I did. It has good vibes. And it’s almost 100 years old! I have old-building love. Always have.

The town is about a third of the size of where I live now, but has a lot of history and is well-appointed – lots of shopping, lots of green space, beautiful old buildings, a zoo(!). Two of my most beloved people live within an hour of my new place, so I’ll get to see them more often, and I’m an hour closer to my family.

And, it all comes down to this: I’m ready for a grand adventure.

This is a job I’ll love, and dammit, I’ll be GOOD at this. The apartment is great. I don’t have anything I can’t leave here – I love it, but it’s not like I have family I can’t uproot, or something along those lines. I’m ripe for a change, and when better to make one?

In two days, my family will show up with trucks and trailers and such and we will have a day of MUCH physical labor…and by the end of it, I will be the newest resident of Watertown, NY, with a new job waiting for me just a few days later.

*deep breaths*

It all happens at once, or not at all…I guess I got the all at once this year.

Onward and upward.

(P.S. – apparently, it pays to be a grammar nerd. GO ME!)


About these ads

Leaving on a…well, quite a few…jet planes

I know.

I’ve utterly dropped off the face of the earth.

I could give you explanations – I have them, and they are legion – but I don’t think you want them.

I just wanted to say, hello. And I am alive. And show you this:

And this:

This is the bag of someone who’s leaving for the airport in a little over two hours.

And the face of someone who didn’t sleep much last night. Trust me, the lady’s excited. More so than she can say. Bouncing-off-the-walls so. That’s the face that, in less than 24 hours, Andreas will be seeing in Stockholm when I get off the plane before we make our grand trip to the land of the Finns.

I have every intention of blogging while I’m there – thank you, wifi and international data plan! – but can make you no promises. Might be too busy hugging Andreas and his family until they’re all “GET OFF ME YOU CRAZY MERKAN!”

Dad’s pretty sure I’ll come back a commie, and so I’ve taken to answering all his questions with “DA, KOMRADE!” and he does NOT like that at ALL, and I told him I promised that, every new person I meet, I’d ask to see their arms, to see if they had two, and then ask if they were a truck driver, and as long as they passed those tests, we’d know they weren’t one-armed truck drivers like he thinks everyone on the internet is, and he was SO UPSET by this and he said “do not. DO NOT DO THAT. Then they’ll know you’re onto them and they’ll throw you in the gulag! There are no cell phones or showers in the gulag!”

Dad apparently thinks I am going to Russia in the height of the Cold War, which is equal parts worrisome and amusing.

There will be many adventures, and many surprises, and I hope to have a minute to share them on here (I do have a nine-hour layover on the way home – don’t ask – so that might give me a little blogging time…) because I think you might like to see some of the most fabulous bloggers in all the land in the same place and time. I plan on taking a lot of photos. A LOT. My camera might explode.

16 days in Europe. Here we go, you guys. It’s only been in the planning stages for the last 14 months…and surprisingly, I can’t believe it’s already here.

Welcome to the land of Finns! There are reindeer and nude statues!

Today I had a play to go to, with a ticket in the front row and everything, but I stayed home. This was not an easy decision for me. I’ve been looking forward to this one for months and months. But I’m coughing terribly and I had a front-row seat and that’s rude to people trying to act and sing. Plus even getting up and moving around the house makes me kind of exhausted. Driving half an hour each way, sitting through a three-hour show, trying really hard not to cough…nah. Can’t. Just can’t today. Sadly. So it’s a couch-day and a Dumbcat-day and a TV-day for me.

Today, let’s talk about something near and dear to my heart. And that thing is:


I officially got my passport in the mail a week after I applied for it, so apparently I have been judged as NOT TOO DANGEROUS TO TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY! That means my trip to Finland is on! Only 14 months to go! Get ready, Andreas and family of Andreas! It’s never too early to start planning an adventure!

There have been a number of fun Finland-related things that have come across my radar lately, so today let’s discuss some fun Finland-things.

First: Finland wins a VERY IMPORTANT HONOR!

According to this very annoying link that will start a loud obnoxious video on your computer so beware, Finland is the world’s best place to be a mother! In the whole WORLD! Well, THAT’S impressive! Apparently, expectant and new mothers are given much care in the land of the Finns, and the infant mortality rate is very low, so Finland wins the competition! Congratulations, Finland, for being impressive! On Saturday Night Live this weekend, Seth Meyers had a smart joke that said “Finland has recently been found as the world’s best place to be a mother. The world’s worst place to be a mother? High school.” Hee! I like that.

Next, we have very good graphics from the most impressive sj!

OMG YOU GUYS! POLICE REINDEER! How much do I want a police reindeer? THE MOST IS HOW MUCH! I don’t know if this is true facts or not, but I love it anyway. I mean, think about it. What would you do with a police reindeer? I don’t know that you could ride it. And it’s not like a drug-sniffing dog or anything. I mean, MAYBE it could sniff drugs, but what a mess it would make clip-clopping through your house, right? But whether it is a thing or not, I WANT ONE. Look how much it loves the Finnish policeman! It totally wants him to rub its nose. And ride with him on his Skidoo. Probably in Finland they don’t call them Skidoos. The internet says Finns call them “moottorikelkka” or if they’re speaking Swedish they call them “snöskoters.” OMG THOSE ARE BOTH MOST EXCELLENT WORDS! The Finnish word has WAY too many letters in it, and the Swedish word sounds EXACTLY like “snow scooter” which makes me smile and then smile some more.

Aw, no, poor Finland!

Finally, we have the MOST interesting thing. OK, so a couple of weeks ago, Andreas had the day off because it was Walpurgis Night. This is known as May Day in Merka. And we most certainly don’t get the day off, sigh sigh. ANYWAY, in Finland, here is what happens on Walpurgis Night:

  • Much mead is consumed
  • Many funnel cakes are consumed
  • There is much celebrating, some of it in the streets
  • Someone puts a cap on a nude statue in Helsinki
  • “Left-wing activists of the 1970s still party on May Day. They arrange carnivals. And radio stations play leftist songs from the 1970s.” WHAT? That makes me laugh. It would make Dad VERY ANGRY, though, and he would shout “SOCIALISTS!!!”

This all makes me happy. This is a very happy pagan celebration, dating back to Beltane. We don’t do things like that here. Sometimes children might do a Maypole (not a euphemism) in school, but only when a teacher can’t think of something better to do, and I’d be willing to bet most of the teachers don’t know the history behind what they’re doing.

You GUYS, in FINLAND, they have a day off where they drink HOMEMADE MEAD, they eat FRIED DOUGH, and they (for some reason) put HATS on NAKED STATUES. This is a most excellent country. MOST excellent. I can’t even find anything to complain about in this tradition.  We don’t have another day off until Memorial Day and that’s still a couple weeks away. Europe gets a lot more excellent days off than we do, that’s for sure.


OK, it is the middle of the day but my eyes are closing so it’s naptime even though I’m usually terrible at naps. Happy Monday to you all. May your weeks be both productive AND pleasurable. Plus, I wish you all funnel cakes. I mean, don’t we all deserve more funnel cakes in our lives? I think most definitely we do. No question.

Norway: Finland, only a whole different country.

This is a story about Dad and Andreas.

First, Dad thought Andreas was a spy. Ken was an assassin and Andreas was a spy.

(Ken’s still “the assassin” but I don’t think he is AN assassin. I think it’s just Dad’s nickname for him. I’m pretty sure Dad doesn’t think Ken’s assassinating people. PRETTY sure, I said.)

Now Andreas is “that Finn” or “that man from the land of Finns” or “your friend from “FINN-LAYND” because it makes Dad laugh that I say Finland funny. HA HA DAD. So I guess he’s not a spy anymore, which is nice. Good job, Andreas, I’m glad you’ve moved up in Dad’s esteem. Or, I guess, if you really are a spy, you’ve fooled him. Either way: good job, you.

The land of FINNS!

The other night, Dad had a STORY.

“I have a STORY!” Dad said. “Your friend in Fin-LAYND! He is in TROUBLE!”

“He is?” I said. “Well, I just talked to him today, and he seemed ok? But I guess you’d know better? I don’t know, have you been talking to Andreas while I was at work today?”


“What fish. Is he eating all the fish? What’s happening?”

“I just watched a DOCUMENTARY!”

“About Andreas? Well, crap, I can’t believe he was in a documentary and didn’t tell me. I’m so yelling at him the next time I talk to him.”


Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

“I’m…at a loss, frankly. What’s the connection?”

So Dad explained: he’d watched a documentary about this U-boat that sank in World War II off the coast of Finland and ran on radioactivity so has poisoned all the fish off the coast of Finland with radioactivity so no one in Finland should eat any fish.

“So tell your friend not to eat those Finnish fish. Or he will be like Spiderman. ALL RADIOACTIVE,” Dad said.

“I don’t know, Dad. I feel like Andreas would have told me this. Also, I think he likes fish, so this is a worry for me, frankly.”

“You ask your friend if he GLOWS IN THE DARK. You ask him if he can READ IN THE DARK WITHOUT A NIGHTLIGHT. Because he’s radioactive, get it?”

I'd like to read at night without a nightlight. That'd be cool, yo.

I’d like to read at night without a nightlight. That’d be cool, yo.

So I emailed Andreas about this but then we started talking about a billion other things and I never got an answer about this and the other things were totally interesting, it’s not like I was all mad about the lack of radioactivity discussion. That was Dad’s thing.

Then Dad was all, “WELL? What did you find out about your radioactive friend in the land of the Finns?”

“Oh, crap, Dad, he didn’t answer me. Sorry. We got to talking about other things and I forgot to follow up.”

“Well, THAT’S suspicious. Why’s he covering this up?”

“I don’t know if it’s so much a coverup. I think it’s more that we were talking about other things. It’s really not about the government. Promise.”


So I emailed Andreas AGAIN about the fish thing. This time he answered me. (Seriously, he didn’t mean to not respond. We got to talking about other stuff. It happens.)

Oh yeah, I meant to answer the radioactive thing. I don’t glow in the dark, but I wouldn’t even if I had radiation poisoning. Obviously. Which I don’t. 

I’m trying to think what submarine he’s referring to; don’t think there were many (or indeed any) German U-boats in the Baltic sea during the war, and I haven’t heard of any that were sunk. Anyway, they wouldn’t have been radioactive, as they were all diesel-electric in those days.
Then he talked about a totally awesome story about Soviet subs and made me laugh and other things. Andreas is an excellent emailer.  So I told Dad this and he was all, “WHAT? He thought I was SERIOUS about the glow-in-the-dark thing? NO NO NO. You get rid of that Finn. HE HAS NO SENSE OF HUMOR NONE.”

“DAD. He was KIDDING. He has an EXCELLENT sense of humor. As you can see because of this joke. HE WAS KIDDING.”

“That is not funny. NOT FUNNY FINN FROM FINLAND. You need to tell him that is NOT FUNNY.”

“OK, I’ll tell him. But what’s the scoop on the U-boat? He’s never even HEARD of the U-boat.”

“That’s because it wasn’t even RADIOACTIVE. I never said it was RADIOACTIVE, Amy.”

“What? Of course you did. Because of the glowing.”


“What? Mercury?”

Then Dad told a whole NEW story, which was there was a German U-Boat in 1944 that he thought was called U-834 that was bringing mercury to Japan and it went down off the coast of Finland and was just recently discovered, leaking all the mercury into the waters of Finland. So all the fish were filled with mercury and no one should be eating the fish.

(He also kept picking on me about confusing radioactivity and mercury, but I still aver that he’s the one that was confused, because why would he have said Andreas was glowing in the dark if he’d been talking about mercury?)

“So maybe he doesn’t glow in the dark. THAT IS STILL NOT FUNNY. But tell him – you tell him – MAYBE HE IS A THERMOMETER.”

Andreas? Is that you?

Andreas? Is that you?

“Dad. He didn’t mean to personally offend you with the glow-in-the-dark comment, you know.”

“I don’t want to talk about that thermometer anymore.”

(Sorry, Andreas, you went from spy to Man from the Land of Finns to thermometer. I don’t know that this is an improvement as you are now an inanimate object.)

So then I researched this and Dad totally wasn’t making it up. Well, he got some major POINTS wrong, but there’s SOME truth to this.

There was a U-boat. It was actually U-864, but he was pretty close. It did go down (1945, close to 1944) and was just recently discovered.

However, one slight issue…

Norway. This all happened in Norway.

As you can see, Andreas’ Finland is on the right (hi, Andreas’ islands!) and Norway is on the left. NO, not ALL the way on the left, that’s Iceland. On the left as in on the other side of Sweden.

I mean, it’s all the same WATER but it’s pretty far AWAY from Andreas’ water.

I know they’re all in a clump but I think they’re different countries and I’m pretty sure if you call someone from Norway Finnish they’d probably give you a dirty look. (Would they, Andreas? They totally would, right?)

That’d be like someone from FINLAND calling us CANADIAN, Dad, just because we’re on the same CONTINENT. Would you like that, Dad? No you would NOT. (Dad yells at the poor Canadians a lot since he lives right next to the border. See, they drive like normal people? And drive normal speeds? And he drives slow like an old person? So they’ll pass him – as would I – and he’ll yell, “GO BACK TO CANADA YOU SPEED DEMON!” and then look at me all “That taught ‘em!” and I’ll just shake my head and laugh a little but also grip the handle on the door for my life. FOR MY VERY LIFE.)

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn't you HATE that?

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn’t you HATE that?

So, in summation: yes, there was a U-boat; yes, it went down off A coast. Just not ANDREAS’ coast. So I think Andreas can eat his fish. And he is not really a thermometer. I’m pleased, I wouldn’t like Andreas to die of mercury poisoning. The internet tells me the symptoms of that are “sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination,” (do you think I have mercury poisoning? I very often have a “disturbed sensation,” usually when I’m thinking about things and getting so pissed about them) damage to the brain, kidney and lungs, and something called “pink disease,” which sounds equal parts stylish and distressing.

Don’t get mercury poisoning, Andreas, I don’t even know how you look in pink.

(Also, side note, you’re not supposed to eat the fish from my Hudson River here for the same reason. Mercury poisoning. We’re all kinds of toxic around here.)

So it seems Andreas is safe. What will Dad call Andreas next? Stay tuned for the next installment of “Dad makes up names for Amy’s friends!” An ongoing serialized dramedy here on the old Football! Whoo-hoo!

A strange and violent place!

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!


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!


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.


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.


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