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.


About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

28 responses to “A strange and violent place!

  • sj

    I love every thing about this post, and I love Amy’s Dad’s reaction to salty licorice.

    SALMIAKKI IS YUM! And I hate that my kids are all eating all of mine.


  • Charleen

    The whole time I was reading this, I was like, “Have I been to Helsinki? I think I have. Or was it a different city?” And it wasn’t until I was almost done reading that I remembered that it was SWEDEN I went to, and not FINLAND. So, no, haven’t been to Helsinki. I’m such a dumb American.

    (Also, OTTERS!!!)


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Aw, Amy! A whole post about Finland! Well, Helsinki. And me, I guess.

    It sounds so much more fancy when you describe it; not like the everyday work-trip is actually was. (Well, not everyday. I don’t go to Helsinki everyday. Or even every month. But still, it’s pretty non-exciting.)

    I’m sorry I couldn’t get more pictures from Helsinki for you. Or visit the zoo (which I remember was a pretty good one; although it’s been at least 30 years if it’s been a day since I was there). Some other time perhaps. And yes, that was a tram/streetcar. They’ve got quite an extended tram network there. Helsinki is a beautiful city, and luckily most of it survived the Soviet bombings intact.

    Also, sidenote: people that live in Helsinki do call it Helsinki, since it’s the Finnish name for the city. Only Swedish speaking people call it Helsingfors. Or ‘Hesa’ for short.

    And that video? It just makes me smile every time I watch it! Your dedication in continuing to eat those salty licorice even though you find them so salty is truly commendable! And I agree with your dad re the popped corn: it should definitely be salty.


    • lucysfootball

      YAY! I didn’t want to tell you too much because I wanted you to be SURPRISED!

      Listen, I make everything an adventure. EVERYTHING. I am a very good person to take on trips. ESPECIALLY when they are boring. Because I can’t help but have the best time. Even work-trips are exciting when I go on them.

      Don’t be sorry! I love every photo you sent. And I’m so grateful you sent them even though you were so busy.

      You went to the zoo on an island? Oh, now THAT’S exciting. The photos of it made it look VERY good. Have you been to the island of decadent naked people?

      I like “Hesa.” That makes me smile.

      I’m still eating the salty licorice. Just a little a day. I think maybe it tastes like medicine. Salty medicine. BUT I WILL LEARN TO LOVE IT.

      I need to make you more videos where I act like a goofball. I will get on that one of these days.


      • Andreas Heinakroon

        I don’t know if it’s all that fair of me to get you to learn to love salty licorice when there’s no salty licorice to get where you live? I feel a bit like Fry in Futurama when he tries to convince the others that the (now extinct) anchovy is a great pizza topping, and when finally managing to track down the last tin in the world and putting it on a pizza and everyone hates it, says: “Well, it’s an acquired taste.”

        That’s just cruel.


  • elaine4queen

    I love salt liquorice. We are not continental enough to get the salty stuff here, so I ask for it when people come from ABROAD to visit.

    Also marzipan. If they are coming from Holland. And the amazing syrup waffles – or stroopwafels as they call them. They are big and hard and you put them on top of your coffee cup, and when it’s time to drink the coffee the syrup has become all soft and melty.



    • lucysfootball

      Oh, marzipan. LOVE. Anything almondy makes me so happy. I have a marzipan perfume that I wear sometimes so I can smell like deliciousness. And I’ve had stroopwafels! I had them in Holland! I LOVED THEM!


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Only an idiot and asshat for a teacher would mock a pupil for mispronouncing a difficult word. And anyway, it’s pronounced arch-ih-pell-AH-go in Swedish. So you were just speaking Swedish at an early age, showing early signs of exceptional linguistic skills. Boy, your teacher’s face must be red now!


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Yes, we do get the same ‘magical’ (sigh) sun as in Helsinki, but nothing like we get further north. Up where Fiancée comes from there’s essentially perpetual darkness during winter and continuous daylight during summer and I just realised I’ve harped on about this several times before. Apologies.


  • Heather

    Extra extra large Pepe. EUPHEMISM.

    I love that you and I say “bag” the same way. New Yorkers rule.

    I am laughing so hard at you laughing over the salty licorice. Hahaha!


    • lucysfootball

      It is a very euphemistic licorice bar. True fact.

      Is that a New York way to say bag? I noticed that when I was listening back to it. “Amy, you say ‘bag’ weird. It has a super-long ‘ay’ sound in the middle, where did THAT come from, I wonder?”

      The salty licorice totally gave me the giggles. When I say online I’m giggling over something, I’m almost always telling the truth. And that’s what I look like when I’m laughing. And I’m usually flapping my hands around like that when I’m doing it, too. I’m kind of predictable. :)


  • becomingcliche

    I got a special happy package, too! I’ll blog about it in the nearest future. It made me smile.


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