Category Archives: gifts

Presents and bacon and vegetables and a wonky vaccuum: must be Christmas Eve!

Well, here we are at Christmas Eve. This is one weird Christmas, my favorite bloggonians. Bloggites? We never quite figured that out, now did we. Meh, don’t even care.

(Also, SPEAKING of which, our favorite Andreas informs me it is HIS CHRISTMAS today. Everyone wish our favorite Andreas a Merry Christmas! I don’t hear you even at all a little, dammit. WISH HIM THE BEST CHRISTMAS WHY ARE YOU ALL BEING GRINCHYYYYY?)

ZOMG I totally found a Finnish Christmas card. (Wait, did I, Andreas?)

ZOMG I totally found a Finnish Christmas card. (Wait, did I, Andreas?)

Christmas isn’t happening here for two reasons:

  1. Since I spent a period of the year (a lengthy period) where money was hard to come by, I was not able to Christmas shop for my nearest and dearest. Or send out cards. Or anything Christmas-related. The closest I came was to write up some quick cards and give them to my mom to hand out to my family members, and also buy some Secret Santa (shit shit SNOWMAN Secret SNOWMAN) gifts for that guy at work. Otherwise, nothing. I still plan on doing Christmas next month for people once I’m a little more financially lucrative and have been for a month straight. But that doesn’t help much when everyone else is doing Christmas NOW, you know?
  2. I can’t go home for Christmas this year due to New Job o’Shininess and a lack of time off. I get a half-day today and a day off tomorrow and then it’s back to work for me on Wednesday. That’s not enough time to travel anywhere. Also, Christmas is all topsy-turvy at home this year; things are all being changed-up and different and I don’t deal well with change.

So therefore, Christmas for me will be spent with Dumbcat in my home with my little tree. Which is kind of sadtimes, but I’ve done it before. I’m a brave little toaster.

Brave little toasterrrrrr! Eh, screw it, I don't feel especially brave or toastery today. I like that kicky cape, though.

Brave little toasterrrrrr! Eh, screw it, I don’t feel especially brave or toastery today. I like that kicky cape, though.

However, TODAY (your yesterday) my parents decided to come up and Christmas me up. That’s because they’re the sweetest. So they said they’d be here at 11.

I PLANNED on getting up at about 9 and cleaning up the place because for SOME reason, a certain cat who lives here has been shedding like a crazy. I don’t know what’s going on with that. Aren’t cats supposed to get MORE hair in the winter? They’re not supposed to LOSE hair. Right? Why’s he on some sort of weird backward clock? Oh, why do I even ask, he’s not normal and never will be.

So I’m getting over the flu and I went to bed relatively early and then I couldn’t sleep. No, I don’t know why either. I assume it’s because my brain works thusly: “A THING IS HAPPENING TOMORROW! A THING AMY A THING! HOW CAN YOU SLEEP IF THERE IS A THING HAPPENING TOMORROW AMY! A THING!” In this manner, my brain is very much like Dumbcat’s.

And then I woke up at 7:30am, because why the hell not, it’s not like I finally fell asleep at 1:30 and I’m trying to sleep off the flu or anything. Also, Nyquil tastes like death and doesn’t always work. If you taste like death, you are SUPPOSED to WORK.

*stern look at the Nyquil*

*stern look at the Nyquil*

So then I decided, let’s clean the house!

Things my wonky-ass vaccuum doesn’t vaccuum up so I have to pick up with my hands:

  • small stones
  • little pieces of paper
  • cat hair
  • a weird white plastic thing that I hope wasn’t important because I threw it away
  • random dirt
  • pieces of the cat tree that Dumbcat shredded off with his adamantine claws

Things that my wonky-ass vaccuum does pick up:

  • I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that one

So mostly, then, vaccuuming was me cussing out the vaccuum for not working and picking up shit with my hands, so it was like old-school cleaning up. Pre-vaccuums. Like a PIONEER. A cranky pioneer who is getting over the flu.

Then I did other things like cleaning up the bathroom and also putting away shoes. I have a lot of shoes for someone who hates shoes and I never put them back in the closet so there’s like a pile and a half of shoes in the middle of the living room. I thought about cleaning up the table but that would take like a month. I have a lot of stuff stacked on that table. And some of it is really GOOD stuff. I can’t just throw it AWAY.

Then Mom called and said, “Your dad is driving so we’re going to be later than planned.”

“Oh, like 3pm?” I said.

“THAT IS NOT FUNNY!” Dad said.

“No, like half an hour late,” Mom said.

So then I just collapsed on the couch and glared at the stupid wonky vaccuum. Stupid wonky vaccuum. (I’m fairly sure it just needs a new bag, but it’s really old and I inherited it from a friend and I don’t know that bags are still available for it, to be honest. And I actually LOVE the vaccuum. It is so old-school. I think it’s made of cast-iron. It’s kind of the best thing.)

I tried to find a photo of my vaccuum but it is TOO OLD. This one's similar. Similar-ish.

I tried to find a photo of my vaccuum but it is TOO OLD. This one’s similar. Similar-ish.

Then my parents showed up. This made Dumbcat FREAK OUT. “Someone is at the DOOR! Someone is at the DOOR!” said Dumbcat. And immediately spun around in a circle and hid under the end table. Then he realized the end table has really high legs, and everyone could SEE him, so he disappeared. I assume up under the couch where he goes.

Mom and Dad took THREE TRIPS to the car to get all the presents. THREE TRIPS! Wait, I will show you the stack of presents.

Also there are two on the tree. That’s a lot of presents, yo.

I asked Mom, “is there one of these you want me to open now, so you can see my excited face?” but she said I could wait until Tuesday because she knew I would be sadface on Tuesday.

(The presents on the far right are from BFF, who mailed them about a week and a half ago and said I could wait to open them until Tuesday. Because he is the best. One of them I know what it is; the other is a SURPRISE. I do love surprises from my loved ones. Well, if they’re good surprises, I guess. Bad surprises can both suck it and bite me. This one’ll be good, though.)

THEN – this is even BETTER, seriously – Mom had this bag? And in the bag was ALL THE THINGS I NEEDED TO MAKE CHRISTMAS FOOD. Both breakfast AND dinner. (I guess lunch is on its own.) There was even a little ham. A little wee one-person ham! SO CUTE. And side-dishes and a teeny-tiny thing of coffee (aw!) and there were totally even things so I could make hors d’oeuvres. YOU GUYS. Is this not the nicest thing EVER? Yes. I’m not even going to tell you that I didn’t cry over that as I was putting it all away. There were VEGETABLES. Actual VEGETABLES! I don’t even…you GUYS. That is the NICEST. I was going to eat leftover CHINESE FOOD. Or maybe a LEAN CUISINE.

Like this. Totally Christmassy, no? What? No? Ugh, why so judgey?

Like this. Totally Christmassy, no? What? No? Ugh, why so judgey?

Then we went to lunch. I actually was hungry for food so we went and had food at a place that sells that. There was a salad bar. The bacon was very far away from us. This made dad upset. “Why are they HIDING the BACON?” said Dad. So he totally persevered and got ALL THE BACON. Which, when I think about it, is probably why the bacon was so far away. Because people don’t want to work so hard for it so they don’t eat ALL of it. Well, they underestimated Dad, now didn’t they?

Don't you hide that bacon from Dad. Don't you even.

Don’t you hide that bacon from Dad. Don’t you even.

And Mom ate all the garlicky biscuits while Dad and I made gaggy noises because they smelled SO GARLICKY. Like, imagine putting your nose in a container of garlic salt. GAG GAG GAGGGGG but Mom said they were very good. She’s a weird one, that Mom. Then she put the last one in her PURSE and when they got home, Dad was all, “YOUR MOTHER IS EATING THAT GARLIC THING OUT OF HER PURSE AMY” and then I laughed and laughed.



Then I got home and Dad made me teach him Facebook and Twitter which was…entertaining. Mostly it involved him saying “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to friend anyone. I don’t want to follow anyone. I don’t want to say anything. Why’s Facebook asking me ‘what’s going on?’ That’s none of Facebook’s business. What do you mean, ‘do I want to put any personal information on Facebook?’ Like what? WHERE I LIVE? No. I don’t want to do that. No not at all. This is all very worrisome and I hate it. Close that right now. CLOSE IT.”

So now I am going to bed, and I work for three and a half hours tomorrow (I can totally do that, right? Right. I can stay upright for hours at a stretch now, and I’m barely coughing up a lung once an hour, so it should be FINE) and then I’m off for a day and a half. So THAT will be nice, right?

Plus Tuesday there will be PRESENTS. Maybe if you’re totally well-behaved you’ll get to see them. Or even if you’re a little naughty. I don’t mind a LITTLE naughtiness.


No, Ding Dong Joe.


Put that away.

That was not an invitation.

Making a (totally selfish) list and checking it MULTIPLE times

My mom wanted a Christmas list from me this week.

“AMY IT IS GETTING WAY TOO LATE DO YOU JUST WANT MONEY OR WHAT AMY AMY AMMMYYYYY!” she said. If she was a child, she would have been kicking her feet and scowling prodigiously.



My parents are apparently planning on coming to see me either the weekend before or the weekend after Christmas with ALL THE GIFTS because they’re all sadface I’m not coming home. I was fine with Christmas being cancelled and just going home at some point in January and having chicken or something but Mom is NOT HAVING IT NO SIR. There will be PRESENTS! Or MONEY! Or SOMETHING! (Also, Dad wants to sign up for Facebook and Twitter and wants me to show him how to do that. I’m not even kidding. I don’t…I don’t know what to think about this.)

“Urgh, I don’t know, want to just get me tickets to Europe?” I said.

“THAT IS NOT A SERIOUS SUGGESTION,” she said grumpily. Well, I beg to differ, MOM, it’s a VERY serious suggestion, I’m pretty sure at this point those rich people I VERY POLITELY asked for money all those months ago aren’t coming through for me so I’m going to have to pay for it MYSELF, dammit, but FINE.

So I made a random list of crap so she would stop asking. Things it included were very sexy things like a new vaccuum and a cat tree for Dumbcat because he’s ripped his to shreds with his adamantium claws. Christmas is all about getting things I should buy for myself but haven’t gotten around to yet! HOORAY FOR A SEXY NEW VACCUUM AND CAT TREE!

ZOMG I WANT THIS CAT TREE MOM!!! It's like a Dr. Seuss cat tree!

ZOMG I WANT THIS CAT TREE MOM!!! It’s like a Dr. Seuss cat tree!

I don’t know. If I need something badly enough, I save up for it and I buy it, you know? I don’t wait for holidays and gifts.

But, in HONOR of the SEASON, I will make a REAL wish list. And, just so you know? It’s all shit I’ll be buying for myself once the money starts rolling in. Just like in Evita, baby. ROLLING ROLLING ROLLLLLLLING! (OK, let’s be frank, there won’t be THAT much rolling. But SO much more rolling than little old me is used to!)

Rolling on in! Rolling on in! On innnnnnn!

Rolling on in! Rolling on in! On innnnnnn!

New phone – my phone is still lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it’s getting old, and sometimes it doesn’t get coverage in places, because I have Virgin Mobile. Which was a very good idea for me, because it’s TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH YO. And it works great HERE. But when I go home? No coverage. HOWEVER, new job has a deal with Verizon where you get a decent percentage off your contract with them if you get a contract. And I’ve had the phone for a couple years now…and phones can do ALL KINDS of shiny things now that they couldn’t when I got mine. (Also, I haven’t always been kind to it. It’s very scratched up and dinged up. That’s what happens when you get a phone you can’t get a cover for, and also when you just throw it in your purse all willy-nilly like I do. I AM THE REASON WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.) So I think it’s time to be a grownup and get a real phone contract and a real data plan and be able to make actual phone calls from my phone, which will be nice. (I can MAKE phone calls from my phone, I just have unlimited data and texting and a very, very limited number of minutes every month for my $25, and I want to save those in case I’m locked in my trunk by killers, you see. What, it might happen, you don’t know. THAT’S WHY I SAVE THE MINUTES.)

Unlike most people, I don’t want an iPhone. I love my Android. I think I’ll stay with the Android. But a NEW SHINY ANDROID. Ooh! Aah!



Also, Verizon has coverage up where my parents live. I COULD INTERNET FROM DAD’S HOUSE. Can you even IMAGINE the excitement? Well, more so for me than you. I get REALLY bored at home. And I miss you all like FIRE.

E-reader – I know. I KNOW. I like paper books so much. But I’m missing out on a lot not having an e-reader, and it would make traveling with books a lot easier, and my library has gotten so much better about carrying e-books. I’ve been eyeing the Kindle for a while. And I have some Amazon gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. (Or purse, I suppose, if you want to be literal.) I think I might be stepping into the future of reading sooner than you’d even imagine.

Pretty, right? I kind of want one.

Pretty, right? I kind of want one.

Haircut – shut up, I don’t always dream big. I haven’t gotten a haircut in a YEAR. I like the length – I’m a long-hair girl – but the ends are frazzly as hell and it has no style whatsoever. It needs something DONE to it. I also keep thinking I should get highlights or something, but I adore my grays and if I get highlights, they will be dyed over. I’m so irrationally proud of them. So I think I’ll stay with my mousy brown hair that looks red in the sun with its pretty pretty grays that are coming in all over and I love EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. I sound like I’m being sarcastic but I’m most serious. My grays are my battle scars. They show that I’ve survived my childhood and young adulthood and I’m ROCKING my adulthood. So, soon I will get a haircut. (I think I’m going to splurge and go to my wonderful hairdresser who up until NOW I’ve only used to fix my insane Yeti-eyebrows. She’s pricey but she’s SO SO GOOD. Also she’s known me for years so I think she’ll know exactly what to do with my unruly hair. She’s always itching to give me haircut. The last time I was there, she was all, “A NEW JOB! You could get a HAIRCUT! I mean. Among other things. Heh.” Aw, poor Andrea, I’m giving her the vapors with this mane.)

Aw, bebeh haircut!

Aw, bebeh haircut!

New glasses – my new job has amazing eyecare coverage. I can get new glasses – the lenses are covered and the frames are, too, up to $120. So if I find something I like, I just have to pay the difference (which shouldn’t be that bad.) I’ve had these terrible Transitions sunglasses glasses forEVER and I HATE them and oh, how much do I want new glasses? SO SO MUCH AND BADLY. New glasses are in my future. They’re so close I can SEE them. (And will be seeing them even BETTER when I have NEW GLASSES. Hooray!)

Ooh, HELLO KITTY glasses! Yes, I think I'll get THESE. VERY professional!

Ooh, HELLO KITTY glasses! Yes, I think I’ll get THESE. VERY professional!

New shoes – you know how women are all supposedly obsessed with shoes? I missed that day in lady-school, apparently. I have exactly three pairs of shoes that cost more than $10. I know. I’m very serious. They’re all Docs (and two pairs were gifts.) Oh, no, wait, I have a pair of Birkenstocks, too, but they’re so old I can’t wear them anymore because the bottom all wore through because I wore them pretty much exclusively for about ten years straight.

The rest of my shoes are from Payless and Payless makes shoes that look ok, but are not the most comfortable or anything. Also, they’re really not meant to be worn for more than a year or so because they start to fall apart. I also have one pair of sneakers that are so old the “leather” is all starting to fall off and they look scabrous.

I’m SO buying myself some new shoes, yo. FROM A REAL STORE. This is going to be AWESOME. I’m going to be like a real LADY. (Side note: a real lady who hates heeled shoes and loves shoes that are practical and sturdy. Let’s be honest.)



Music – I have a list of songs I want to download. I’ve been working on this list all year. But on TOP of that, I have whole ALBUMS I want. First and foremost: the new Mumford and Sons album. Sigh sigh sigh, I want that so badly. They make me swoony. SO MUCH MUSIC. Don’t worry, I’m working on an epic “best songs of 2012” post for you for later in the month. I haven’t forgotten about you, my little buttercups.



Travel – I have a whole plot for 2013. This is less a short-term gift for myself and more a long-term plan, really. I have two smaller trips I’m plotting for this year – and will have the time off and money to TAKE the trips, which is AMAZING – and then I’m (gulp, I KNOW) starting a savings account. The savings account is going to be labeled “Because the Rich People Didn’t Come Through.” And because I actually CAN now? I’m going to start saving money for a BIGGER trip. One that precipitates the need for a passport. And a looooong plane ride. Listen, Andreas’ kids aren’t going to stay adorable teeny-tiny forever, you know. And SOMEONE needs to go check out Finland and report back. I mean, ANYTHING could be happening over there. And oh, hell, since I’m on the continent, maybe I’ll pop on over and check in our favorite bon vivant. See what he’s up to, you know? I mean, I’d already BE there and everything. MAYBE.* (*Shut up, you know there’s no “maybe” there.)

I can do that now. This job means I can do that now. When I realized that, I’m not too proud to admit there was crying.

This is not something that’s going to happen IMMEDIATELY. International bon vivanting is not something that happens OVERNIGHT. I’m thinking…a couple years? Maybe? But it’s a GOAL. And a PLAN. And that is EXCITING. I’m full of hopefulness about this.

Cat – I already set the wheels in motion! Operation Dumbcat is Lonely and Needs a Companion has BEGUN! Beginning of January, I’m heading on over to a shelter that’s been highly recommended to me as being one of the best in the area and coming home with Dumbcat’s new roommate. (Well, mine too, of course. I also live here. I’m just not as furry. And don’t run into as many walls with my face. AS MANY I SAID.) So, about a month. Right after the new year. It’ll be my first new year’s resolution; adopt a new cat. There’s been a hole in my heart for a year now and it’s time I fix that. (I have rules. Female cat, age 1-3, hopefully one that has little chance of getting adopted otherwise. Other than that…anything goes. Don’t so much care what she looks like. I’ll know her when I see her, is all. I knew Dumbcat when I saw him; I knew Pissycat when I saw her. You know your people, even when they’re furry people.)

Maybe ME?

Maybe ME?

Dumbcat is very happy about this development, in his somewhat-dim way, I’m sure. He’s been forlorn this year. He likes having another cat to frolic with. He gets all big-furred and wide-eyed and bounces all around and makes operatic noises and Pissycat used to give him the WORST looks for it but it filled me with glee to see him so happy. I want to see him so happy again. That’s my Christmas present to him. Well, that and the scratching post.

There’s my REAL Christmas list, Mom. However, none of these things are things you can get me so I’ll get ’em myself. And they’ll mean a lot because I did get them myself. With the money from my new job. (Which, by the way, I love to distraction. I’m not talking about it much here, but I AM LOVING IT. I am waking up BEFORE MY ALARM, excited to go to work. I’m not even kidding right now.)

(However, if any of you wants to mail me any of these things, freeing up my money for other things, I’m down with that. Just let me know.)

Hooray for PRESENTS! Oh, and the true meaning of Christmas, too, I suppose. BUT ALSO PRESENTS!

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.


It’s like when they dip into the mailbag on TV shows, but here, only AWESOMENESS comes out.

Here we are at…what day is this in you-land. Um. Saturday? Guess what I did last night, then. NO, GUESS. Reviewed my first play for my new review-y gig! I don’t know how it went yet, obviously, because I am writing this from the PAST and I suppose anything could happen, including the apocalypse, but let’s hope it went so, so well. The only problem I foresee is that I have to watch the play, then go home and immediately write the review, and then I have work super-early the next morning and I’m going to be EXHAUSTED, because the review’s due on the editor’s desk (well, in her email, this is 2012 after all) by 1pm Saturday, and I’ll be at work then, so I have no option than to write it the minute I get home. So, I predict sleepy-times this morning. PRE-PLANNED YAWN. Also I was just informed I have a job interview at the crack of dawn Friday morning, so both Friday and Saturday are going to be kind of crazy-town.

So today we have to discuss THINGS I GOT IN THE MAIL. I know that probably sounds really boring but I got some awesome things in the mail. I mean, it’s not all like fiber supplement samples and free mailing labels from the ASPCA or something. Which I also got, but I’m not BLOGGING about THOSE. Sheesh, I’m not the most boring.

So today we have two things to talk about that I got in the mail. One I got a while ago but have been SO LAZY about blogging about and one I got TODAY and want to talk about it or else I’ll totally forget.

The first thing is a thing I WON. I know! I’m a total winner.

A blog I enjoy a great deal is Cannibalistic Nerd. Among other hilarious things, she watches old Super Friends episodes and makes fun of them in this totally fantastic snarky way and it always makes me snort-laugh. Also, sometimes the Super Friends do terrible-bad magic tricks – sorry, “magic tricks” and she attempts to recreate the magic tricks but things happen like shattered glass. It’s a very funny blog. You should all pop on over and give her some love. I learned about it from Jim, who knows about good and funny things. That’s why he’s our Minister of Fly-nance, yo.

Anyway, back in July (see how far behind I am? in my defense, I had some bad shit go down in July) she went to the beach and found the best best BEST thing in one of the gift shops.

Then we were all THAT IS THE BEST THING so she decided to have a giveaway for it. Which I entered, but I wasn’t sure I wasn’t going to win, because I never win ANYTHING. Ever ever ever. BUT I TOTALLY WON!

When it arrived, it was kind of in pieces. Shells don’t hold together in shipping so well, even though it was packaged very carefully.

Yeah, that’s my plaid couch, covered in Dumbcat-fur. And a pillow my grandmother made. And some cat toys on the floor.

But Carrie had kindly included glue in with the gift package, so I could fix my shells and make them one piece again.

Well, I am terrible with do-it-yourself projects. So gluing it together took days, and there may have been some cussing. And at one point, I…well, let’s be honest, I was balancing it to get it to dry in the right position, and I dropped it, and MORE pieces fell off. But I was stubborn, and I prevailed. It’s still kind of tippy and precarious. I don’t know that I did the best job gluing it together. I think it will be fine as long as I never touch it again. And you’re not supposed to touch art, anyway. I learned that the time the security guard tried to kick me out of a museum in Oklahoma because I accidentally brushed up against a sculpture because I was dizzy from driving for three days. I SAID I WAS SORRY, SIR!

And now…three months later (and with MANY apologies for the delay!) here is my MOST WONDERFUL SHELL THINGY PIECE OF ART!

(SIDE NOTE! When Mom and Dad were here this weekend, Mom saw this on my table, and said, “Um…what is…this, here?” and I said “IT IS A MAJOR AWARD THAT I WON!” and she said “Oh, because I was thinking…did she BUY that? And it was worrying me.” I don’t think Mom appreciates the wonder of my major award/piece of art.)

Here is a top view. As you can see, these shells are playing some serious poker. Two of them have Diet Coke to drink. Two do not. They are all smoking FAT CEE-GARS. Made of SHELLS.

Here is a side-view, kind of. Still playing all the poker! Drinking the Diet Coke! I think there might be something more going on here than we see, though. What do you think might be happening UNDER the table?

One of the poker players has a SHIV! Oh, this is BAD NEWS. This guy is NOT on the up-and-up. As Carrie pointed out on her blog, the one with the shiv doesn’t have a Diet Coke, so I think he’s just thirsty. The moral of the story is, if you invite shells over to play poker, make sure all of them have beverages.

The other card-player who doesn’t have a Diet Coke is CHEATING! Oh, this piece of very fancy artwork is FILLED with chicanery.

Look how jaunty these things are. They have a lot of verve. I like that a lot.

Dumbcat was intrigued by the shells for about two seconds. He took a nibble.

Then he got bored and stared off into the middle-distance, dreaming of better days, I guess.

Then he fell asleep like the amazing shell-sculpture wasn’t right there, so as you can see, he’s not much of an art-lover. SHUN THE NON-BELIEVER! SHUNNNN! (This photo is crooked because I kind of dropped the camera while I was taking the photo. Please forgive, I never said I was handy.)

A mighty and MUCH-BELATED thank you to Carrie, who made me a winner and then was very patient while I waited months and months to actually blog about it. My most abject apologies. I love my most prestigious prize/piece of art and it is displayed proudly by the most important thing in my house: my television.

Next: a present from THE LAND OF FINNS!

A while ago, our favorite Science Fellow had a fire. Right after his fire, he was moving from the Isle of Man to FINLAND! and he was driving. But all of his CDs had melted in the fire! And I didn’t like the idea that he was driving for days and days and days with no music. So I made him some mix CDs and I sent them to him. Remember? Because my post office was so confused about the Isle of Man and assured me it didn’t exist? Anyway, I was happy happy HAPPY to do it, because Andreas is most sincerely, without the slightest hint of sarcasm (WHAT? Amy? NO SARCASM? You can DO that? Yes, sometimes I can, I promise) one of my favorite human beings on the face of the whole entire earth. Whether he’s on the Isle of Man or in Finland. I like him just that much. Also, the thought of almost losing him in the fire made me so upset. I can’t even tell you. Oh, and I also sent him red Twizzlers because they don’t have Twizzlers there and Twizzlers are a very good road-trip snack because they get you all hepped up on sugar so you don’t fall asleep, and also they’re delicious and non-messy. Well, they’re not so good if you’re diabetic, I suppose.

Then a few months ago Andreas said, “Amy! I want to send YOU some music! Music that I like!” and I said, “That is the nicest thing ever.” And in my head I said, “How do I deserve friends like this?” and then my heart got all full and I might have gotten all weepy. That’s the rumor, anyway. That’s a thing that happens to me sometimes.

Anyway, TODAY, I went to get the mail and there was a package waiting for me and I like getting packages! And it was from…

The Åland Islands! THE HOME OF ANDREAS!!!

Well, THIS is very exciting!

What was in the package from FINLAND, you ask? Well! I will SHOW you!

FOUR CDs! With the prettiest cover art! One for each season! And the most wonderful notes about each CD explaining the music on each one! Seriously, I just hand-wrote tracks on a piece of paper for his CDs. I wasn’t fancy at ALL. (My printer’s broken, I didn’t have much choice. LOOK HOW PRETTY THESE ARE!)

DVDs of Swedish movies! With MORE notes he wrote about them! They all sound WONDERFUL and I am VERY excited about them. Also, how much do I love the title of the bottom one? A lot, is how much. I will like these because I can listen to people speaking Swedish, which we all know I love because it sounds like fish talking all underwater liquid-fast.

So, I knew about the CDs and the DVDs. But I did NOT know about…


This one is milk chocolate. Which apparently is also “maitosuklaa.” Hee, that’s a funny word.

Ooh, what’s this one?

Roasted salted cashew nuts! How did Andreas know that these are my favorite nuts? He is a smart cookie, that Science Fellow of mine.

Look, on the back, there are all the fancy foreign words, but then also ENGLISH words. This is very bilingual chocolate. It’s for elite people. LIKE ME.

THANK YOU ANDREAS! I am very excited about ALL of this. You are really wonderful and amazing and phenomenal and all good words. And thoughtful. So so thoughtful. I’m so lucky to know you. I will report back to you about what I thought of everything as I watch/listen, I promise. Not HERE, but probably on Twitter or something. Pretend I’m giving you a huge hug. I was kind of in a crap mood this morning but this really helped lighten things up over here.

And this concludes this edition of THINGS I HAVE RECEIVED IN THE MAIL. Stay tuned for FURTHER installments, which might include “the time I got a mis-addressed postcard” and “once I got a granola bar in the mail and everyone said don’t eat that it might be poison but I was really hungry so I ate it anyway and I didn’t even die a little bit.”

Bloggiversary Winner Package! (No. No, that’s not a euphemism.)

This is just a quick one, but remember a million billion KAJILLION years ago, I had a Bloggiversary, and Ken won the drawing? I mailed it out about two weeks ago, and he JUST got it, and I was just waiting for him to open it before I posted this. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, you see. Because the stuff in the package is super-fun and super-awesome and I want him to have much joy in opening it and being surprised with it. I’m not a human spoiler alert, you guys. What kind of asshole would THAT make me, I ask you?

So, now that he’s gotten it and opened it, I can FINALLY post this video which is like three weeks old or so at this point, but I guarantee my hair STILL looks this insane because WHOO HUMIDITY:

And THEN, TODAY, Ken OPENED the package (he waited TWO WHOLE DAYS, does he think I’m PATIENT or something?) and he made a video of him opening everything! So you can all see it! Aw, this is the best. I laughed and clapped and laughed some MORE. He says I can share it with you all here. So I’m going to. Isn’t he the best? The answer to that is yes, and if you say no I’ll punch you in the neck two times.

CONGRATULATIONS, KEN! I hope you love everything. That would make my whole week. Maybe my month, but I’m not guaranteeing anything. A month is a long time and we still have a few weeks to go.

As long as I don’t die or lose my fingers in a terrifying industrial mangler accident, let’s have another drawing next year, what do you say?

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