In Front Of The Help.

Buddha

The first time I felt superior towards someone was while working a summer job at the local “Target”. My cashier’s job gave me enough pocket money to buy too many cups of coffee at the nearby gas station, a pack of cigarettes per day and gas for my scooter. I was quite young and very insecure. Our boss was a severe, angry man who would scold anyone he could corner and he’d start every day by yelling at his employees. It was like any other morning at the store. I had been working there for a bit over a month. During my second month there our boss hired a few new summer employees just like me. I sat at the cashiers chair and the customers kept lining up. People would sigh and tap their foot because it was taking me such a long time to figure out a missing price on a clay plant pot. With my shaky voice I called for help through the in-house speaker. No-one came to my rescue. I called for “Staff to cash register number 2” the second time and finally one of the new girls ran over to me. She was very beautiful with a long brown wavy hair and she was a few years older than I was. She smiled and sat down next to me and started ringing people up. The endless line of sulky, impatient people was gone in just a few moments. She was leaving and as she smiled at me I snapped at her: “Next time you better come the first time I call for you!”

 

My condescending comment took place over fifteen years ago but it still haunts me. I’m sure the girl, older and smarter than me, didn’t think anything of it but it made me think of myself in a new way. What gave me the right to talk to her like that? Who am I to scold someone who is clearly doing their job well? Why would I repeat a behavior that made me unsure and plain scared every morning I had to run by our stressed out boss?

 

I wish I could say that I never spoke ill of anyone after that summer. I wish I was the person who everyone considered to be righteous and fair – at all times. But I can’t say that. I’ve judged people and thought of them as ignorant or “raised in a barn “. I still do. But every time I judge someone or think ill of them, I force myself back to that day at the cashiers chair and ask myself: “Why am I above them? Who am I to judge?”

 

Our short but long year in California brought these feelings to surface more than a few times. We moved to Escondido and worked at a backyard horse stable, me exercising the horses and teaching pony lessons, Chris building a new tack room down by the mare pens. The married couple we worked for was quite rich and they tend to be a tad condescending not only towards us but my students and other people working at the yard as well. One morning while we were working under the burning sun the married couple got into an argument with one another. “Don’t you talk to me like that in front of the help!” she said to her husband. I don’t know what I felt more: amused or stunned.

 

That was the first and (so far) the last time I was called “The Help” but it definitely wasn’t the last time I was considered being less worthy because of how little money I made or for being a foreigner. One of my employers told me once that for the longest time she thought I was “dumb as a bucket” because I barely spoke and the little that I did was broken English. It wasn’t rare for me to be yelled at, talked down to or told that I “sucked” at something I thought I was fairly good at. Once I learned not to take it personally it didn’t sting anymore. I would smile and do better, but every time someone would use their power over  me (usually it meant not getting paid for the hours I had worked) or if someone tried and make me feel less than I was, I would be quick to lose my respect towards them. In a way it made me as bad as them “Judgmental and not very understanding”. It also felt like freedom to me. I wasn’t able to demand respect but I sure as hell was able to decide to whom I wanted to work for.

 

There’s something wrong with a world where one has a burning need to feel superior to others. After reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” I go back in time and think of the way people acted towards the Mexicans in California, or me “The Dumb Bucket” on the East Coast… and it’s no comparison. It’s impossible for me to comprehend how people have lost their lives and loved ones because of the way they look or whose sons they were. I understand so little that I feel like a hypocrite just writing about it.

 

I hope for a world where your worth is not measured by how big of a house (or a trailer) you live in or what you make in a year. I wish that people who are talked down to and yelled at will never forget their worth and that they would understand that using one’s power over someone tells a thousand times more about the abuser than the one being yelled at. I hope that all those minds broken by mean words and ill opinions would once heal. I hope that more and more people will stop reacting to negativity with negativity. I hope that we all catch ourselves sitting in that cashiers chair understanding that we are all one. None the better, none the worse. Equal.

Letter to my younger self.

youngme

The other day I told someone that I don’t feel as old as I am. In my mind, it’s beyond strange that if I accidently got pregnant people would actually congratulate me instead of being shocked and judgmental. This year instead of buying myself an actual birthday present, I’m writing a letter to the young Teija. You remember her? The one who knew everything and didn’t give a fuck.

 

“You need to see the whole world until you can choose where to live.”

True, kinda. But sweetie… you’re also the kind of a person who will buy the first horse they go and “try out.” You will go and live in several different places and you’ll love and hate each and every one of them. San Diego sounds like a perfect plan on paper but you’ll find things you don’t appreciate there as well. The endless summer and beautiful beaches are great if you have the time and money to enjoy them. Living on a small island, in a tiny room above your horses stall is also a dream come true. However living this dream will come with a lack of free time and with very little privacy. Living in your home town among friends and family is a paradise of its own. However you will find your mind wandering off to the big cities and you’ll miss the people who you don’t know. The ones you once ran from because they were making you anxious and introverted. You are who you are, no matter where you live.

 

“Money doesn’t matter.”

Sure it doesn’t. Until you need to decide between buying a new deodorant or a bag of carrots to feed your pets. Until you’ve had PB-sandwiches for two weeks in a row and the weekend’s special treat is to add dried cranberries on them. Money isn’t everything but it is necessary. You won’t care about fancy cars, brand jeans or expensive shoes… but you sure love your bunnies to have all the food in the world, for your dog to be able to go and see the vet when needed. And don’t get me started on your horse. (Yes, you’ll end up having your own horse one day).

 

“I don’t need an education.”

Ok so you knew this was bullshit all along, right? Sure you do. You may not end up being a successful mathematic or physicist like your brother (yes, one day you’ll be 30 -something and you still won’t have a fucking clue what your brother does for living) but you will need to know stuff. Want to be a horse trainer? Surprise! You need an education for that. Want to be a writer? Well hell, write away but don’t be surprised when after sending in your freelance blogs your client will reply and say “This is load of bull. Check your grammar, learn some Finnish and try again in a few years.” Yes, it happened. But don’t worry. You’ll swallow your pride and take their advice. And yes, once you’ve learned to be humble enough and educate yourself… you’ll get published.

 

“Marriage is a piece of paper.”

It is – an expensive piece of paper. Especially if you decide to find the love of your life from the other side of the world. Sure you’ve seen some crappy marriages and there’s an endless supply of arguing married couples in each grocery store you step into, bitching and snapping to one another about which ice cream to buy. Nope – your marriage is no different. But you will marry the love of your life for the only understandable reason even you can sign on. Because if you don’t, you will never get to know them. Do you remember all those guys you had a crush on? Or even loved? It’s like that… but way beyond. It’s about falling in love with his damaged soul, hating his job, appreciating his weird ways and disagreeing with everything he says just because. It’s about fighting through your own short comings and hopefully becoming a better person. But I won’t tell you more, you will see. And let me assure you… you will hate and love every second of it.

 

“Dreams will come true if you give your everything.”

See I will give you this one. Dreams do come true. It’s just that your dreams change. All. The. Time. You want to be a psychologist until you realize that you are way too emotional. You still want to help people but simply don’t know how. So you quit your day job and move to England to shovel shit for the summer. I shit you not. This wasn’t your dream, per se, but it’ll create a new one: becoming a horse trainer. You’ll follow that dream and it will not only take you around the world but it will help you find yourself. Well at least pieces of yourself, honestly, you still don’t know who the fuck you are or what the hell it is you’re supposed to do with your time on earth. Your dream will be to create a bubble where no-one can disturb your happiness. Until you want to break everyone’s bubbles, shake them and scream for them to “WAKE THE FUCK UP!” You want other people to be the best of themselves, to change the world, to make a difference. You want to do marketing, you want to create anything and everything, you want to become a “real” author, take your horse to Grand Prix… These are all dreams that are a part of you. And damn right we’ll make them come true.

 

Happy birthday Teija, you bunny-hugging, meat eating weirdo. Keep at it.

Start spreadin’ the news…

NYC

*Disclaimer – I don’t blame NYC for any of the following experiences.*

“Start spreadin’ the news…”

“If I lived in New York, I would be _________. ” Rich. Famous. Employed. Happy. Living a fuller life. Successful. One thing is for sure: There’s something about New York. A certain magic or an image that promises you something big and beautiful. When I was about 10 years old my dream was to one day visit Paris, London and New York. Later in life I got to go shopping for a perfect hat in Paris. I also got to “Mind the Gap” in London for a long weekend. And finally, I got to be a part of it…

“I open the hotel room door and jump on a king size bed and bounce around it like a naughty 5 year old. The full carpet feels soft and caressing under my bare feet when I hurry to see the view. As I slide aside the white, silky curtains I’m stunned by the beautiful view of an early night in the New York city.”

Not exactly.

After days of travelling I arrive to New York city late at night. The train station smells like ash tray and pee. To say I suffer from Jet Lag would be an understatement and my guts are screaming at me for food – any kind of food. It’s pouring down. I know my hotel is “conveniently just around the corner” but I’m immediately lost anyway. I try and hail a cab like I’ve seen Carrie Bradshaw do a million times in “Sex and the city.” After getting my toes nearly plowed by five different taxi drivers, I look up and see a huge sign with my hotels name on it. The check-in employee reminds me more of a soccer coach telling me to hurry up than a gentleman with a black tie waiting to make all my wishes come true. I take the elevator up to my room. Walking through the hallway my allergies kick in and I start sneezing like a maniac. I can hear at least four different TV channels cranked up in different rooms. Someone is having a loud domestic argument about where to have dinner tonight. I walk into my room and crash on the bed. Although I just got several restaurant recommendations from the arguing couple down the hall, I check Yelp for pizza delivery and dial. In about 45 minutes I wake up to pay the pizza boy and crash back on my faintly stinky bed without having one slice.

“We were madly in love, married for less than half a year when my husband bought me tickets to see my favorite band… in NYC! I could already smell the champagne, strawberries and the sweet smell of big city summer night…”

Sounds like a plan, Stan.

After 30 minutes of trying to stop a cab we decide to walk to our hotel. Against my usual preference of comfy clothes, I have high heels and one size too small skirt on. It’s humid as hell. I can only dream of sightseeing because I have to stare down so I wouldn’t trip on anything or step on too many puddles of unrecognizable goo. Our hotel is small and our room is even smaller. We decide to open the champagne and enjoy the view. Champagne tastes amazing and I’m oddly amused to realize that our view is a brick wall with an old and rusty fire escape. The concert hall is crowded and I can barely see the singer. We hang around the bar and I order way too many $8 plastic cups of “some sort of apple cider.” After the concert we wobble to a restaurant and I get drunken mad because my husband is walking too fast.

“We start our morning with Mimosas in bed. I can hear the city waking up outside. People are cheerfully wishing each other good morning and the delicious smell of breakfast is slowly reaching our hotel room and our sleepy noses. We snuggle and order room service. It’s a slow, magical morning in the greatest city of the world.”

Mimosas are way overrated.

I feel like a truck of apple cider ran over me during the night. There’s no such power in this world that would make me leave the small but surprisingly comfy bed in our tiny hotel room. My husband gets tired of waiting for me to get up so he stomps away to have breakfast. I stay in bed hating myself and all the apple cider brewers in the world until my stomach is about to turn upside down. I drop myself off the bed to the floor and pull a sweater and pants on top of my PJ’s. As I slowly crawl downstairs to have breakfast my husband is coming back upstairs. I feel a bit better as I dream of the oversize, straight from the oven bagels waiting for me downstairs. I find a small hand written sign saying “BREAKFAST” with an arrow to right. I step into a small room where the TV is on and a handful of people are reading newspapers and having cereal. It takes me forever to find the bagels and even longer to cut one in half as these tiny wannabe bagels are harder than a rock. I eat one anyway. After a bowl of cereal I decide that’s enough breakfast for now and I step outside to have a cigarette. Yes, yes – cigarettes are terrible and disgusting but I used to love them. Still do, actually. I would be way easier to get along with if I still smoked. Outside I hear lots of honking and I nearly get stomped by people rushing along the narrow street. Suddenly a man size of an Empire State building stops by me and starts talking. “Do you want to go to a hot balloon competition with me?” I must look like a deer in headlights as I just stare at him my cigarette hanging from my suddenly mute mouth. “I errraammmm… huh??” This is great. I’m afraid of two things. One: He thinks I have been dropped on my head WAY too many times when I was a baby. Two: He’s going to murder me in broad daylight. “Are you cold? You look like you are cold. Here, have my jacket.” I make a weird squealing sound and mumble about my husband waiting for me inside. I back away from the friendly – slash – dangerous man and point my cigarette towards him like a weapon. Note to self: Do not go outside alone.

“The best feeling is entering the New York city after you’ve been away for a long time. The skyscrapers in the distance are like a promise of a better tomorrow. People look absolutely stunning as they stroll down the never sleeping roads. The air is full of excitement and mystery. Here my life can change – in a blink of an eye.”

Memory is a tricky thing. It makes you forget the shitty things and experiences.

I can see the breathtaking skyline when the bus slowly approaches the Big Apple. The skyscrapers are stunning and they make me feel small but strong. I look outside and smile at the city. “In a way… wouldn’t it be the coolest thing ever to live here?” I nod. Definitely. The coolest.

You are safe.

roadtosuccess

Last night I had a dream about my Dad. We were at our summer cabin and I was about 12 years old. I was standing on our boat and Dad was at the dock. We were trying to dock the boat. I had a rope in my hands which I was looping to get closer to Dad. It seemed to take forever but Dad was patiently waiting for me and kept yelling “You can do it Teija, you’re doing great.” Once I finally got to the dock I jumped off the boat. As I jumped I kicked the boat back and the rope fell into the water. I thought my Dad would be disappointed but he just smiled and said “It’s ok, I can fix this.” But as he turned towards the boat he slipped and fell into the water. At this point I realized I was dreaming and that Dad really was dead. I looked down to the water where Dad was peacefully “sleeping.” I remember thinking how amazing it is that after all these years of him being gone I can still remember every detail of him. But not just the way he looked but also the way he made me feel. Safe.

Sometimes I look back and re-cap my short life after Dad passed away. I remember feeling insecure and vulnerable. I kept looking for someone to grab onto, someone who would make me feel strong and safe again. The more I looked the more miserable I got. One Sunday night I was lying in my bed wide awake. I let the chaos inside my head take over, this time not pushing it away or trying to deny it was always there. In my mind I stood back and took a role where I was an outsider in my own head, just listening. I heard panic, sorrow, horror and regret. There were only questions and guilt, no sign of hope or love. Still I decided to listen and “stay” in this state of mind. I listened and kept myself calm by breathing the way they taught me at the Ashtanga studio. Little by little the chaos started to fade. It was all still there but it became more quiet. I kept breathing and being still. After hours of doing this, just staring at my bedrooms red wall there was only one question left. “What did you want to do when you were a kid? What really makes you happy?”

The next day I started to look for barn work in England. I told my boss at the time I needed some time off, that I wanted to give myself a break and concentrate on my hobby for awhile. In a week or so I accepted a working pupil job in Herefordshire. Little did I know that was the first day of a new me.

Today I feel strong and I feel safe. I don’t need anyone to take care of me or save me. I saved myself that night long time ago when I confronted my fears, guilt and disappointments. I realize now that I would have had to do that at some point in my life, even if Dad never left. You can’t find strength and answers in other people, you need to find it in yourself. We all have the answers but rarely we stop and listen what our inner child is saying. No matter how loudly she or he is screaming. I still have no idea what I’m supposed to do with my life and I still feel guilt and pain every day. But it doesn’t scare me. I feel safe.

Love those around you with all you got. And if one day they’re not there, it’s ok. Life will go on. They become part of who you are. Like my Dad is part of me every single day.

Belleza Interior.

forsue13

¿Cómo está? muy bien! This is how my day starts in California, at a sunny and quiet horse barn. The temperature is not too hot yet and I enjoy being able to wear my fleece lined hoodie. Our stable guy Augustine has already worked for an hour, feeding the beasts, cleaning the facility and making sure everyone is happy and sound. I go and pour him a cup of coffee. He – as usual – acts like I just handed him a thousand dollars as he sips black coffee from his old ceramic coffee mug. He offers me – as he always does – half of his breakfast. Today he’s enjoying bananas and yogurt of some sort. I thank him and take a banana. I ask him to let me know when he’s ready for a re-fill.

We don’t speak much because he knows as much English as I do Spanish. But I admire him. He is always happy, beyond helpful and he never complains. He works 50 hours a week with a minimum pay and drives an hour to work and then another back home. He’s a father and a grand father. He has a farm of his own to take care of every night. I wonder if he ever gets any sleep.

From Augustine I learn to smile. All the time. To everyone. While I work. When I’m stressed. Smile is a powerful weapon and even poor people can afford it. It gives you strength when you’re feeling weak and it can save someone’s day without you even knowing. I also learn to laugh at myself. Not to take life too seriously. Especially when it gets serious.

Another thing I learn is that happy, smiling people are beautiful. It doesn’t matter what they are wearing or if they got their hair cut from Super Cuts. And it has nothing to do with wanting to look beautiful in their eyes. Inner beauty is just for you, only for your happiness. That inner peace and love is something that can never be taken from you. And something that some people look for all their lives without finding. Most likely because they are looking to find it from others. Asking them to love me. Accept me. See the beauty in me.

I take the dog out for a walk around the farm. It’s too hot to go up the mountains and hike. It’s five a clock and Augustine is raking the stall fronts. All fifteen horses are munching hay and enjoying fresh water from their buckets. My dog happily greets Augustine and jumps to lick his face. I tell him “no jumping” but Augustine just laughs and looks at my wild puppy lovingly. We keep walking and go around the green paddocks and head towards the parking lot. When his truck drives by and goes through the open metal gates, I see a reflection of myself in the side mirror. My hair is messy and sun burn, up on a bun. There’s sweat marks on my t-shirt, big ones, around my arm pits. My soon ten year old riding pants are saggy around my knees. There’s dirt on my neck (most likely horse poop dust). And of course the cherry on top – there’s a huge smile on my face.

‘Tis the Season.

sukka

Woolly socks. Wrapping paper. Too much chocolate. ‘Tis the season. I recently heard that I may have become overwhelmingly “fluffy” and cheerful, for Finnish standards, at least. Guilty as charged! I haven’t really cared for Christmas since my Dad died and later on it was devastating to spend Christmas away from my Finnish family and friends. What saved me was my wonderful American family whom I miss this year more than ever.

Having a job full of horses has gotten me working every Christmas, mucking and feeding. Ain’t no rest for the wicked, or equestrians. It quickly became my personal tradition, to spend the Christmas eve and day at the barn alone with the horses. It didn’t feel like work really… At Martha’s Vineyard every horse had a Christmas stocking full of carrots, apples and peppermints. Boy, the joy in their eyes when they got a bucket full of sock-treats!

One year in Cape Elizabeth our little family got food poisoning, just in time for Christmas Eve. Not only did I miss my Finnish family, we weren’t able to join Chris’ family’s dinner table in Portland. I lied in bed, vomiting and every now and then a kid from the barn would knock on our door because a pony was loose on the barn yard. What fun. I thought this Christmas would become a memory I’d never want to re-visit, but we laugh and remember this worst-case-scenario-xmas every year.

Christmas in California didn’t really feel like Christmas. It was just the two of us with our furry clan, sleeping in, reading and doing yoga on the front yard of our cute little yellow house. The sun and never ending summer felt amazing, but for my surprise, I was missing the winter and snow. I wished we were back in Portland. Little did I know that I would be back in belly deep snow and freezing cold the next Christmas to come.

We spent last Christmas at Cara’s cozy home, eating too much of amazing food, which Kathy mostly made. I think the dogs got most of the gifts and attention that year. Christmas lasted for just one night but it refilled my batteries for months ahead. It’s good to be loved and pampered (said especially the doggies, full of treats).

This year I get to be with my Mom, Chris and my brother’s family. Santa will come and visit! Although I’m spending this Christmas away from my loved ones in the US (including Arabella), I feel loved and blessed to have amazing people (and animals) in my life, near and far. Thank you everyone who have been a part of my Christmas’ and I hope everyone feels safe, warm and appreciated as the year changes.

Wooffy Xmas my Loves! Don’t forget to be a bit naughty!

The Best People.

sipulii

The best people in this life are not always the easiest to come along with. They’re not perfect or simple by any means. The best people in this life are tricky, sometimes hard to understand, surprising and very intelligent. There’s no two of a kind. All of these amazing creatures are different… – unique. The best of us want to see others succeed and they inspire you to be the best version of yourself. To become one of “the best people.”

I have met a lot of people along my travels. A lot. People of all ages, cultures, places, classes, countries. Some I’ve decided to “forget” and some I cherish with every bit of me. The memories I made with the best people wouldn’t seem big and fancy to most of you. There were no luxury dinner parties, no tropical holidays or mind boggling shows to attend to. My memories are full of unexpected laughs, “AHAA!” -moments, shared coffees to go, surprise cookies, smiles, hugs and “how are you doing” -messages on a Friday night. I think about the “hang in theres” and positive vibes sent on my way during the tough years… and all I can wish is that I have been able to give, even the tiniest portion, of love back to those whom I’ve received it from.

Life has changed a lot. Not one year has been the same as the one before that. Even though it hasn’t all been simple and easy, I wouldn’t change a day of it. Every struggle or a tough season aside, I got to meet these diamonds along the way. The best people. I wonder how many you have met? Or do you even know who they are? There’s one way to track them down… The best people tend to be the ones whose first instinct, when they see you – is to smile.

The Loves Of My Life.

synttarikuva_07-1

My life is full of love. I know, I know… ugggh what a cliché. But it’s true… I came back home and I’m surrounded by people whom I’ve loved since I’ve been a kid. And to top it all, in a short time I’ve met amazing people whom I already love and adore. Of course I remember we’re in Finland, so I’m not shouting it on a roof top… and I try to remember not to hug my boss EVERY morning when she arrives to the office. I do hug my boys, Seamus, Ronin, Baby, Loki and Christopher, as many times a day as possible. I love them so much it hurts.

One of my loves is not here and I’ve stayed surprisingly sane about it for 5 months at this point. Someone who was a huge part of my work, my every morning, my personal goals, my exercise, my late night chatting partner… my Arabella. For people who have not lived with another being and learned to communicate with them without a mutual language, it may be a hard thing to understand. This giant animal may just seem like another animal amongst others to “normal” people. A pet. Something you own. Something that empties your wallet every month and destroys your shoulder and back. Something you become obsessed with. Something you can’t stop talking about. And it’s true – that’s part of it. But she is so much more than that.

Back in the day, after I first moved in with Chris, I struggled to feel like I belonged. I worked at an office and felt like I would do better in Finland. I worked at a barn and started to miss the barn I used to go to in Finland. I felt like our home wasn’t mine. I felt like the country wasn’t mine. I felt like I would never find friends like the ones I have in Finland. When Arabella moved in, I felt like I belonged where she was. I had a meaning, other than being Chris’ wife or an employee. Someone needed me. I was able to start a career with dressage because I had a horse to work with. But most of all – I feel like I made a lifelong friend.

Because of Arabella we moved around a lot. I saw the world (well, America at least) and got to work with amazing trainers, people and colleagues. I learned what it means to be “poor” (true, poor people don’t have horses) and I learned not to give up on my dreams when shit gets tough. She taught me to understand that not everyone who tells me they “love me” actually do. She taught me that it’s ok to not go with the flow. To be different. To be yourself.

My bond with this 800 kg mare with a personality bigger than mine carried me through many things I never spoke out loud about. In her stall, late at night, I cried because of lost friends, I cried because of mistakes I’ve made and I cried of the heart ache my Dad’s death left behind. She was always there, eating hay, not judging or giving advice. The saying goes “If these walls could talk…” but it should go: “If my horse could talk…”

I’ve come to a point where I can’t watch her pictures or videos without crying. It aches. I’m incredibly happy with my life right now. I got my friends and family back, I have an amazing husband and truly the best family members (rest of the boys) and I love my new job like crazy. Everything is “spot on.” Except the one thing that used to keep all the broken pieces together.

I love you Arabella, we’ll meet again soon.

A Bad Hair Do.

finnerican

It’s so amusing that now – as I have more thoughts, stories and life changing experiences to write about than ever – I seriously can’t find the time to sit down and write. Well I do write actually, all day, every day. I’m enjoying my new job as a copywriter in Finland and continuing my old work as well. Our beloved government got their socialist fingers on my paycheck immediately, but hey! – I can go and see a doctor whenever I want to! I probably should as I’ve gathered a nice collection of little faults and cranks over the years while working with horses, shoveling and riding until my body simply gave in. As a thank you, for no longer destroying my young-old body, I now have a cute little belly and spaghetti arms to prove my home office status. I’m fairly sure people will start congratulating me soon and asking odd questions about my beer belly’s gender.

The first big noticeable difference between my two home countries has been the Finnish no-can-do-attitude versus the USA’s Yes-We-Can (even if we really can’t) -attitude. It goes without saying that I’m skipping all obvious political/language/cultural differences at this point.

Yes we can!

While living in Portland I had a job interview coming up. My hair desperately needed some “fixing” but I barely had the money to buy gas so I could get to my interview. So off I went to Super Cuts and asked them to simply cut my bangs and maybe even out the rest. I told my hair dresser that my hair is tricky and the bangs are nearly impossible to trim and make them look right. She said not to worry – she’d have no problem in doing it. So I did what I always do when I’m not sitting in my best friend’s hair dresser’s chair… I took a magazine, prayed and made sure not to look up until it was time to leave. In about fifteen minutes I heard this careful voice saying “… listen… your hair is so curly where the bangs should be, I don’t think you can really have bangs at all.” Needless to say at this point she had already shredded most of my Scandinavian baby hair off. I carefully looked up and I’m not going to lie – it was bad. So I did my best to explain how my friend used to cut a good portion of hair to get the bangs to stay where they should. She got right on it and in the end, the cut wasn’t too terrible. The big problem was she decided to curl up my brand new bangs in a funky 80’s style that made me look like a teenage boy in a wig. I politely thanked the working artist, paid (she wanted something like $8 for this master piece), escaped to the dark parking lot and shoved my wooly hat on as quickly as I could. At home I was able to save what was left to save and I looked like an actual human being at my interview.

No can do.

After many, many job applications, two sweaty interviews and one big bank loan later, our little family was ready to move continents and try our luck and spread our wings in Finland. I was very excited to call and book our air fare for the move. I called the Finnish customer service line and with a bubbly, cheerful voice I told the representative on the phone the dates and that we’d like one way tickets from Boston to Helsinki. I then added, “Oh! And we’ll be traveling with one dog and three pet bunnies.” The line was quiet for awhile until I heard a sigh. “Oh you’re calling so late, I bet we won’t have any seats left for you.” I could not help but to laugh as I could hear my dear customer service professional typing away like a maniac but otherwise staying dead quiet. So I waited and hoped that she could find flights for us before Christmas. I also hoped that she wouldn’t hear my giggles. She finally started to talk about pet arrangements and how many kilos each of our luggage could weigh. “… and you need to call Customs as soon as possible.” I didn’t quite understand so I asked, “So on which date were you able to find us seats?” as I was still very confused and amused. “You said you wanted to fly out on the 9th right? That’s when you’re flying.”

So here I sit, repeating to myself “yes you can, yes you can” whenever I remember to so I can hold on to that bit of admirable American attitude. Not too much though as I’ve already upset many people at the grocery stores in Finland by letting them pass me in the cashier line as they had way fewer groceries in their baskets than I did. I’m still laughing a bit too loud but I’m working on that as well. My Finnish is getting less weird and my English is getting crappier. All in all, life is pretty damn good right now. Can I make it even better? – YES I can!