helmikuuta 28, 2008

Tudors - once again

Sometimes the first sentence is the most difficult. You need to find the right one, because it drags all the other ones after it; if it is crooked, it may lead the entire bunch astray. But crookedness is relative; it is contextual; time-bound. What is wrong today, is right tomorrow.

When you are looking for the right sentence, you don't want to start with how people in the trains are different at seven and at ten o'clock. Or how suburbs are different. You don't want to marvel how students are able to write good, long essays in barely a week. Or how others - when they have already done two lecture series and only need one or two points to pass the course - fail so miserably that you have to ask if they have even read the book. And then those who have obviously read the book but apparently haven't read the question, because they write seven full pages and only by accident manage to get in there those four lines, which have something to do with what was actually asked.

Games and competitions. Reaching the next level and getting better, beating previous scores. The question of why that can't be transported into real life. If there is any reason why it even should be. People yelling to each other on the streets of Kallio. Picking up my car from the sisters'. Pancakes and apple jam and whipped cream and my poor cat whom I hardly even noticed. Being able to close the curtains and bedroom door, clean bathroom floors and uninterrupted sleep.

Discovering the correct first sentence, because putting it aright afterwards can be an arduous task.

helmikuuta 27, 2008

Time slows down

This morning, as I was spreading jam on the toast and making hot chocolate, I heard a noise from outside. I glanced out of the window and there - just outside - was a youngish plain fellow in a gray jacket. I'm in the sixth floor so he was obviously not just talking a stroll nor planning a surprise visit. Good thing too that the noise alerted me because I would surely have jumped when they started drilling the hole in the wall. That would not have been very dignified, had it now? Throwing jam and toast around, in one's pajamas, with a somewhat untidy kitchen around? Now really. I would have done the dishes too, if I knew I was going to have strangers peering into my kitchen at nine in the morning.

I think it was nearly nine. Wednesdays are now my official "working at home" -days and I had to check the net before I made it to the breakfast table. I checked the net afterwards too, because there was this Education supplement between the morning's paper. The supplement gave a link to a career test and I have always been a sucker for tests. There were some nice professions among those it suggested for me: a potter, a gardener, artisan professions of varying kind. Seems like such a big leap, but I do have decades of working life still ahead of me.

Today was a good day too. I got some transcribing done, which I haven't really been able to do at work, since the work computer lacks a certain program. I managed to finally clean up the house, including the offending dishes, and baked some apple pie. I was planning to make a chocolate cake too, but I forgot to buy the chocolate. Maybe Saturday. Oh, and I finished Høeg's book. It was really quite excellent.

And now I am watching one of the Aliens. I've always liked Sigourney Weaver; I haven't always liked Aliens though. I remember we saw the first one - or part of it - in school twenty years ago. It was in junior high so I was something between 13 and 15 and probably closer to the former than the latter. The teacher probably had no idea what it was about or I doubt he would have allowed it. It definitely left a lasting impression then.

helmikuuta 26, 2008

Medieval games

Argh, Knighthood is evil and will steal your soul. Or at least hours upon hours. Who could concentrate on something productive when you have to make sure no-one is knocking on your gates to storm the castle and to make away with your best vassals. Or any vassals - or the keys to the treasury for that matter.

Knighthood is educational though. Even if it is just a game I have understood in a completely different way some things about feudalism, about vassalage, lieges and the need to seek protection and allies. Of self-advancement and gains versus honour. I hope I can hold on to that feeling so I can use it later. I haven't had time to write in ages, but I will start again. If not sooner, then at least when this dissy-project is over; then I will write some fiction. I am so looking forward to that.

helmikuuta 25, 2008

New start

Today I have

1) decided to abandon this "let's get up at six so I can get out of work early" -system. It doesn't work. It is nowhere near my natural rhythm plus it doesn't work. If I am at work by 7.40, I ought to leave by 15.40. Do I ever? No. So I can just as well get to work an hour or two later. That way I can stay up later and will have the opportunity of seeing the sun when going to work.

2) enjoyed the abovementioned sun. The thermometer claimed that it was +7 degrees out there. Nearly all the snow had disappeared and for a moment - until the wind picked up - it was quite warm. Most definitely spring in the air.

3) had a wonderful lunch in a restaurant called Savotta. With M, L, RL and her boyfriend. Nice old-fashioned place with Finnish food. Had reindeer with lingonberries, which was as good as it can be.

4) sung lullabies to a baby outside a grocery store. Can you see me doing that? I bet you can't. But I have. Not a random baby of course, but little E. Went to see S and her baby again today, I did. Sitting down, holding a baby for couple of hours is definitely up there with the best things in life.

I think she has decided to like me - little E. Babies are a little like cats in that regard. You never pet a cat without permission; you extend your hand and let the cat sniff it. If after a few whiffs she puts her nose up in the air like the queen of Sheba and turns haughtily away, you've been accepted. With babies you apparently have to do something similar; look at them with really big eyes and smile silly. Somewhere between your fingers turning into fodder and them smiling when you make broom, broom -noises, you've apparently been accepted. Babies and cats - well, most cats anyway - are also similar in that you can hold them and they are warm and happy and make you happy. Fluffy moments. I've been asked to babysit by the way.

5) had a good day.

helmikuuta 24, 2008

Have eaten too much

Almost forgot to write again. I'm back from the East; the vacation is over and Monday awaits just around the corner.

It's much more of a winter there. Real snow, but the effect is different; it is a bit different thing to look at apple trees than to gaze at an ugly parking lot. Snow isn't enough to make a suburb beautiful and on vacation, in the countryside you do not need to brave slippery roads at seven in the morning. There you can make fires on ice, have sausages and watch the dog play. In the city snow doesn't really provide any benefits.

I didn't do any work. I vaguely considered, but very soon decided against. I finished Pamuk's "My name is Red" and finally read the last Harry Potter. Not the best of fantasy, but you still don't want to put the book down before you've finished it. Yesterday I started with Peter Høeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. The title tempted me - Lumen taju in Finnish and something fitting to continue this theme of snow related books. And why not the spirit of the day. Snow, snow, snow...

helmikuuta 20, 2008

Snow, snow, snow

Va-ha-ca-tiooon... I took it easy already today. Such a nice, slow morning. Decided to go to the movies and saw Juno. Babies... The important things in life... I fiddled a little with the investments earlier today and realised that soon I really have to decide what I want to do in life. All the excuses are disappearing. Rather exciting indeed.

I went to work for the afternoon and got quite a few things done in a short while. What a wonderful thing motivation is. That could actually be one of the reasons why researchy thingies have not been so good for the past week or so. Not just the usual two months' limit hitting in, but my main motivation for finishing the dissy this year disappearing. Ya know, the Operation Baby. The plan obviously being that I'll get the dissy done before having the baby. There's really no way I am going to touch research even with a long stick for a long time afterwards; I was so not planning to settle for the shortest maternity leave available, I'm afraid. Staying home with the baby or returning quickly to work? Not something I personally would have to ponder about even for a nanosecond. (Another knock-knock: never smart to tempt the Fates by assuming things will happen your way, you know.)

Yep, but motivations for writing a dissy vary. I can't remember if I already told this, but on my last full day in Germany one of the guys at the institute was trying to give me a little pep-talk. Unfortunately he ended up saying that research never gets easier and the main motivation of the dissy-times disappears - getting the doctoral degree. I of course just smiled and nodded, but I remember thinking that I was in trouble if that was the case. Becoming a doctor was something to go for still five years ago, but not anymore in a wee while. I'm not even sure whether it will be a reward or something of an embarrassment. You know, deserts, cores and facades.

helmikuuta 19, 2008

Going towards summer

A small spring break is coming up, which is a wonderful thing. I notice that my two months' working limit is coming towards an end. Of course the upcoming examination and the teaching course have taken their fair share, but those aren't the only reasons why I haven't really done any research in the past week. Except for transcribing, but even that nowhere to the limit that I had hoped for. And some reading. On the other hand I have been doing all sorts of fun things, socialising, lunches, squash and ground ball. And there has been sunshine and promises of the spring arriving. Sunshine is a truly wonderful thing.

helmikuuta 17, 2008


I still haven't planned what I am going to say tomorrow during the course. Must stay home for the morning and come up with something, methinks. I have almost finished the infanticide-book though - only thirty pages to go. That's pretty much all I have been doing today: reading the book. And watching a movie. And playing some Knighthood. Me loves the trapper option. Me not loves the people messaging and asking for their people back.

Thanks again for yesterday's party! Was much fun - and the cake was very, very tasty.

I'm going to watch the other movie now.

helmikuuta 15, 2008

To be or not to be

This was again one of those days, when I got to thinking that being a researcher on a long-term basis might not be such a bad idea after all. Well, actually I was thinking just the opposite during the very nice lunch I had with M and J. That's one of the things I like about my new quarters in the fifth floor by the by; people go out to lunch together much more often than in the third floor. Anyhow, I realised that I don't read enough. And unfortunately there is absolutely no way on Earth I am going to switch fiction and crocheting, TV, internet and whatnot for reading boring workbooks during evenings or weekends. Therefore, my chances of becoming a researcher are not very promising.

However, two things happened today. First I went to listen to a really inspiring seminar presentation. The same multidisciplinary thingy I went to yesterday. Then it was something akin to an anthropological approach, today psychoanalysis and psychiatry had their turn. The first speaker was a touch hopeless, but the second one was really good. Really, really good. Interesting topic, a gifted speaker. There are not many people who manage to keep my attention fully in the subject matter and eager for more. Usually I always start scribbling and wondering why the heck I am sitting behind closed doors anyway.

Yep, but that inspirational performance was point number one. Point number two was my little trip to Topelia, the library of humanities. It's a very lovely place and every time I visit I always marvel at the beautiful books they have there. This time I found one for the course next week. I was starting to get worried about finding something about infanticide, since all the books seemed to be out on loan. But, in Topelia there was one and it was precisely what I was looking for. It is also - and this is of course relevant for the "research might be interesting after all" theme - a fascinating book and one I don't mind at all reading during the evening hours. Something to think about.

helmikuuta 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today I have

1) celebrated Valentine's Day (or Friend's Day as it is known here) properly for the first time and received cards and presents;

2) been delighted by number 1;

3) enjoyed the sunshine;

4) eaten too much candy, since I happened to be outside when the seniors drove by. Yay for penkkarit. (Got more candy by the way than ever before in all the previous years together. I decided to join in the merrymaking this time, since it is after all the whole point.);

5) seen the president, who was walking down the street with a small entourage just a minute before the seniors drove by;

6) been to a seminar where the Spanish keynote speaker almost managed to murder the English language;

7) decided that I need to transcribe the remaining pictures after all, even if there are 3000 of them:

8) signed a statement and gotten a book;

9) considered the city vs. country -dilemma again (wasn't I doing this already five years ago? Or longer?); and

10) seen a teenaged girl who looked precisely as she has escaped from the 80's.

helmikuuta 13, 2008

Windy outside

The hours go by so fast - incredible that it is already nine. I stayed home to work today. Needed to read some books for the course that will start next week. It may be easy to come up with a case, but try coming up with books that the students could read... There are a million books of the 17th century, but finding books of the 18th is a real quest. Not always a successful one for that.

I was also planning to go to swim. I did that the last time I had a workday at home a few weeks ago, but I didn't manage this time. Too much to do. Plus I fell asleep twice. Had nice long naps, even though I got up an hour late. Winter - I suppose it is hibernation time.

Sleeping - in fact - sounds like a great idea.

helmikuuta 11, 2008


- a clean kitchen is a nifty thing to have
- washing dishes everyday is so adult
- making charts is fun
- does the previous mean that quantitative beats qualitative?
- it shouldn't but sometimes shouldn't refuses to be nothing but is
- but not always
- writing is a billion times easier than speaking
- why is that
- does that mean dimensions are separate even if they overlap
- so what is real?

helmikuuta 10, 2008

Another weekend over

I've been reading Orhan Pamuk today. I finished "Snow" a couple of weeks ago and RL gave me "My Name is Red" for my name day on Friday. Both very good books, very different, except perhaps when it comes to the characters. There's a certain similarity to all the main characters, in both books, which may be intentional - or then again not. "My name is Red" reminds me of a book about Taj Mahal I read a long time ago. Snow - if I hadn't read Snow all these news about Turkey lifting the scarf ban would have meant something totally different to me. I would have judged them differently. That's one great thing about books - they give relevance to issues, make them interesting, enlighten you in ways that news and facts cannot.

I think I will try to get a couple more chapters read now.

helmikuuta 09, 2008

Saturday evening

I love the smell of baking. I decided to start with the healthy life again and the fridge is now full of food. It would be unwise to start too radically, naturally, so I did also bake some lovely smelling butter buns. Gives one such a nice house-wifey feeling. What more could a Saturday evening require - something good to eat, the cat purring next to me and nice shows in the TV. Well, sauna, of course, but one can't have everything. At least at the moment.

Now I am going to watch Monk - and crochet.

helmikuuta 08, 2008


I did it. I hope this won't jinx it - knock, knock and a double knock - but I still got to tell. I did it; I made the call and booked myself an appointment. "Operation Baby" is underway.

In case you think I'm being impulsive and did it because of yesterday, think again. I decided already nearly two years ago that after the German Experience it would be time. I've considered and re-considered and now the first step has been taken. The first step out of many. The woman in the phone said that I'm not the only one wanting to have a baby and I should prepare to wait a year before the treatments can even begin. But we will see - the appointment is in a month's time and then I will know more.

But it is still so exciting. I would so love to be pregnant. It will probably hurt though; I had a pap test taken a couple of years ago as I turned thirty and it hurt like hell. Literally as if someone was tearing you apart from the inside out. Today that is an experience I can use someday for literary purposes, but then I was ready to swear I would never do it again - no matter whether I would die of cervical cancer the very next day. And I have a fairly high pain pressure point. I've never minded dentists for example; I've had a dozen teeth drilled and I'm still fairly fond of dentists.

But no pain, no gain. A few years ago I had lost all hope of ever having a child, but then my sister asked if I was planning to ever have one. Suddenly it became a possibility and hope was there again. With the help of kind doctors of course, since me and men is a very long story - or a short one. Well, non-existent in fact. Men have never really been interested in me and I in turn have high demands and major issues with trust. Luckily for me the legislation didn't get botched up and my stinginess means that the bank account is generous when there is real need. And so, Operation Baby is underway. Fingers crossed.

helmikuuta 07, 2008


I went to see S and her baby. What can I say, I want one of those. I always did. In my longest lasting fantasy - starting around 87 or so and the basis of my oldest stories - I was a mother of six by this day and a grandmother to be in less than three months.

Yep, at the age of thirteen I thought my mother was old to wed at 21 and ancient to have her first child at 26. I was going to do both at a much younger age. Now I am 33 and my old fantasy me managed to become a grandmother before I ever had a child.

Yep yep, of course my old fantasy me eventually ended up having at least 74 children - since she became immortal and all - so it's not like she is a very realistic role model. But I suppose the point is that no matter what adventures those people had, the most important thing about the stories was always having a big family. Children after children. That's why my stories never became very interesting. No drama. A dozen children and an even larger amount of grandchildren and harmonious family life. A fantasy, but not stuff of stories, since they lacked conflict.

But children there always was. And I want one of those. No pain, no gain.

helmikuuta 06, 2008

Rambling for the sake of rambling

I bought such good Rooibos tea from Germany and I think I am down to almost last bag. I am going to miss it. Yep, yep. I don't really have anything to write today - as is probably painfully obvious to see. Yep, yep. I haven't even read the paper yet. Or done much of anything. I did go to the movies - saw Die Fälscher. Reminded me of the book I read last summer about the women's choir at Auschwitz. They were both good, but neither one of them had that feeling of inhumanity that Primo Levi's "If this is a man" has. That is definitely one of the most impressive books I have ever read.

Yep, yep, now I will crochet some and finish watching the Simpsons. Maybe I'll even have time to finish the paper.

helmikuuta 05, 2008


I just finished the morning's paper and I can't shake the feeling of how fast everything changes. The world of the children growing up today, here in Helsinki, is so different from my childhood in the seventies and eighties. Perhaps it also has to do with the location. Perhaps the country towns are still more like what I was used to. After all I did believe - already as a teenager - that Helsinki was one scary place to grow up and I really don't think I was alone in that notion. "One can go to Helsinki to study or to work, but no sane person would ever think of raising children there."

It is speeding up - the world. What it will be like in another thirty years is hard to imagine. The future rushes towards us and plows under the past. One can only hope that it will be merciful to those recalcitrants of us who do not want to bow down to its demands.

Yawn. It's only eight o'clock and I have trouble keeping my eyes open. The last time I stayed up to watch a movie and had to do with a little less sleep, I fell asleep on the couch at around eight the next evening and happily slumbered for ten hours. Of course my attempt at a nice salad dinner with some french bread and a glass of wine and a touch of ice cream to top it off is presumably not making me any more alert.

helmikuuta 04, 2008

Murder in the forest

This morning the snow was there. More snow than ever before this winter. It actually looked quite beautiful: that rosy hue to the cloudy morning sky that cities sometimes have, trees covered with a layer of snow and a lonely little bird singing plaintively in the branches. Not bad at all.

Today was quite a good day. I had a nice lunch with M and some others and we decided to go and play some squash later this week. I rather enjoy that game. I went through the complaints of the year 1800 to see what kind of references to law they had there and then - during the afternoon hours - I wrote the case for the drama course we will be teaching in a few weeks time.

That was surprisingly much fun. I wasn't sure what the case was going to be, but in the end I had three people on the bench of the accused. The year is 1750 and a maid is accused of killing her newborn. Her name is Susanna and I think she is only fifteen years old. Her friend Helena probably confessed the whole story, because she could not bear the guilt anymore. She helped, you see. In covering up the pregnancy, in the delivery and then she hid the corpse of the baby, which she said Susanna had killed. But she could not take it and spilled the whole grisly tale.

But she is the only one ridden with guilt. Susanna claims that the baby was stillborn. She only hid the pregnancy, because she was afraid, ashamed, and she never saw the baby after it was born. Helena told her it was dead and took it away. She is innocent, completely innocent of everything but fear and thoughtlessness.

And then there is the third culprit. Their master, the farmer Matti with a poor suffering wife somewhere. The girls claim that he is the father of the child, that he knew. Helena even swears that he tried to convince them both; that it would be best if the child would end up dead after it was born. Matti - of course - denies everything. Absolutely everything, even if he has been convicted of adultery before and is something of a known womaniser.

I am not sure which one of the stories is true. Well, in my mind Matti is lying, at least about his fatherhood, even though the students are of course free to choose otherwise. And I do think Susanna killed the child, but I am not sure whether she is a victim or a villain. A slightly hapless young girl, who perhaps got abused and does not really know what she is doing. Or a conniving, ambitious woman, who is trying to push the blame of her crime on the shoulders of her trusting friend.

None of that is important for the case, but, well, it could be turned into a story. Quite a number of those real cases that I have could be turned into stories, too. That's one of the best things I am going to get out of this dissy-project. Potential plot lines. Yummy.

helmikuuta 03, 2008

Is is February already?

Must - start - writing - again. Really, really have to.

I haven't written anything in weeks. Apart from work stuff that is, a naturellement, but not a word here and not a word of fiction. It always feels as if there is no time, but of course time is just a matter of organisation. Must - start - blogging - again. Blogging is a way of reflecting life and remembering the past and it is important to do both.

So, what has been going on? What will I remember of the January of this current year of 2008? Other than that Knighthood is one addictive game...

Well, the winter promises to be even shorter than last year. There's hardly any snow and not a single really cold day so far. Makes me hope for an early spring. I follow with pleasure as the paper informs me every morning that the day is again a few minutes longer. I wait for the days when it is possible to get out of the city again and do sensible things. Sensible things to do in the city are so limited: writing, reading, cooking and crocheting are pretty much it.

Work progresses. I have decided to go the easy way and just get out of the cases what I can. It is after all only one book and one day of defending it and afterwards I never have to think about either one of them again. In fact if I wish I will always be able to take one copy of the finished book and burn it page by page in a fire - or bury it in the garden. Hmm, I think I might actually like that. A rite of passage of sorts.

Yup, now I will make some soup with my new blender and then I will finally write again.