Married

Our kitchen is finally fully functional, albeit it’s still missing tiles and some sanding of the counter tops and the cooker hood. Our home is finally free of tools and (other such) stuff, vaccuumed properly for the first time and tidy. Actually, it WAS tidy yesterday, but then we had a party.

On Tuesday we finally tied the knot and said I do and [insert cliché here] as we got married at the local registry office with our family only present (our teens, my sister, and my dad and his wife) No big parties then; our ”reception” was coffee and cheesecake in our still then messy home, for those present at the ceremony only.

Yesterday we had a kick-ass wedding kick-off party with grilled cheeseburgers and hot dogs, home made cole slaw, baked beans, and some cheesecakes, awesome friends, and good music. Some Prosecco, beer, long drinks, sodas and a vodka watermelon. Last guests left at three am.

Today we’re not doing any kitchen work, hardly even picking up the mess, more like just nursing hangovers with left over food and drinks ;)

The Book Thief

bookthiefIn the ever growing list of books that have left an impression on me, The Book Thief went straight to the top when I read it. The book that is a touching story about a girl in early WWII Germany, a girl who picks up a book, learns to read and learns to love books. The story would be touching even without the books. Without the narrator, who just happens to be Death. It would be touching just as the story of a girl who loses her dad to Nazis and her brother on the way to be given away to foster care, because her mom had to hide; her parents were communists. What makes it a spectacular read, is Death as the narrator, and the books, that are like salt in food. Not necessary, but brings out the true flavor.

The common thread begins when the girl’s – Liesel Meminger is her name – brother is buried by the railroad after dying in the train and one of the gravediggers lose their handbook in the snow. Liesel picks up the book, holding on to it like it could bring her brother back. At the time, she doesn’t even know how to read, but she keeps the book as a relic under her mattress until one night her step-father finds it and using the book, he teaches her to read.

That one book, as grave as it is, is the one possession she holds most dear. She reads it over and over again, until she gets her second book: she retrieves a smoldering book from a nazi bonfire, after everyone has already gone. She is overseen by te mayor’s wife, but she stays silent for her own reasons. The true paradise for Liesel opens up as the mayor’s wife invites Liesel to her library, telling her she can come over any time to read. She understand’s Liesel’s love for books and stories and she nurtures it. Liesel is in awe and for a while she can barely breathe.

Liesel and her foster parents are a humane kind of family. People who value people and refuse to hate jews while trying to maintain a balance where they wouldn’t be in danger themselves. The father with his accordion, the mother with her big heart and foul mouth, Liesel with her love of stories. The best friend who takes a swim in the icy river to salvage Liesel’s book. The jewish refugee, who writes his own story on the leaves of Mein Kampf (after painting them white) for Liesel to find and read when she is older.

The book grasps the horrors and fears of little town in Nazi Germany like none I have read before. And I have read quite a few of them, books about that age and time. Anne Frank was almost an obsession to me and visiting her hideout in Amsterdam an almost religious experienvce. Leon Uris with Mila 18, excellent book as well. Corrie ten Boom. And who knows how many others. Most of them haven’t stuck; I can’t remember half of what I’ve read. Only the most powerful reading experiences leave a permanent mark in my mind.

This book about the little book has all the makings of a classic. The extremely compelling storyline, the rich character of Liesel, the human tragedy that comes with the nazi/jew territory, the love of books, for all things. Not jewelry, not coins, not toys. A passion for books and reading and how it all starts and evolves. In the midst of the hardships of Hitler’s reign, of poverty, of missing family members, of the terrors of war. It is Liesel reading to the people in the bomb shelter that calms them all down. It is Liesel reading to the old lady missing his sons, that gives her a wee bit of joy each day. It is the stories that weave the stories. And the biggest stories of all, are our lives.

Quite often I like to watch movies made of books I have likes. Almost as often I am heavily disappointed. Like with the Veronica Roth’s Divergent. It was an ok movie, but the differences just were too much. And the second book-to-movie, Insurgent? The trailer was already so absurd compared to the book, that I completely dismissed the movie. Or like the Shadowhunters. Cassandra Claire’s books weave an awesome captivating world that you just want to dwell in. But the movies and series based on her books? Meh. I watch them simply because they give a tiny Shadowhunter-fix despite the differences.

With this in mind, The Book Thief movie was a really pleasant surprise. Of course you need to simplify things and cut some corners when making a two hour movie from a novel, but this movie made it in a totally classy way. The movie was every bit as powerful of an experience as the book. It captured the atmosphere, the feeling of the story excellently. So for once I can truly honestly say: if you’re not really a reading person, at least watch the movie. It’s a story every person in this western world in the era of Trump et al. should read or watch. Just to *remember*.

3-year AN-niversary

Three years ago today it was Wednesday. At 6:45 I was sitting in the lobby of Töölö hospital right here in Helsinki, waiting for the lab to open so I could have my final labs taken before the surgery. At this time, 10:45 I was already way under, my head open, maybe two hours into the surgery. After everything went dark due to the anesthesia around eight, nearly ten hours passed before I opened my eyes again. I was already two hours out of the surgery, lying in the ICU, when I woke up to the urgent thought that I need to make dinner for the kids. I opened my eyes to a bright fluorescent lamp practically blinding me, thought “oh, nevermind then” and went back to sleep.

The next two, three days were a blur. I mostly slept, waking up enough to eat and talk with visitors for maybe five minutes at a time. Eventually I was forced up, to the toilet and to the shower and walking more and more each day. I was terrified at first, since simply sitting up gave me vertigo, but with each try, everything gradually got better. After five days in the hospital it was time to return home, to our house of three floors, where I could not avoid walking stairs if I wanted to. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing, recuperating my balance faster.

The first weeks were tough, the first of everything making me dizzy, but slowly but surely it all got better as my head got used to everything again. In no time I was taking our dog for walks again, I was driving again, I was going to the store again, I was able to shower properly again. Truly it felt to me like I was learning everything in life again. No part of normal life was a given anymore, and sometimes it felt like I’d never be the same again. I was reading about the new normal and tried to adjust.

Now, three years out of surgery, I am almost completely recuperated. My new normal is almost the same as my old normal. My balance in everyday life is as good as needed – sure, I gave up dancing from frustration due to balance issues – and the biggest nuisance is the SSD, the single-sided-deafness, but even that doesn’t bother me too much generally. I notice things like if I have been doing physical work (home renovations, yard work etc.) for a full day, I get so tired physically that I start to stumble and trip. Then again, I have always had the skill to trip on flat surfaces and bump into doors and whatnot. My mom used to call me “konkkelokoipi” when I was growing up. Basically it means clumsy in a bambi-like manner. I guess my AN just enhanced the skill ;)

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As for the SSD, I remember the early weeks like yesterday. After the surgery my head had a constant hum inside, like there was a huge truck on idle inside. I thought I might just go crazy if it persisted, but it didn’t. Now the truck only visits my head after a particularily noisy or exhausting day. Sure, there is tinnitus all the time. but mostly I tend to forget all about it, ignoring it fully.

The first time I tried to watch a movie after the surgery, in our nice tv room with full surround 5-speaker home theater system, I burst out crying when I realised I could not make out a single word of the movie dialogue due to the separate speakers all around the room. I needed flat sound and even then, subtitles for support. Now, I have gotten used to watching everything with subtitles (English for hearing impaired or Finnish if the English is not available) and I don’t really think twice about it. I leave the volume adjustment to the fully hearing family members and that’s ok. Surprisingly enough, movie theaters are a pleasant experience and mostly I can actually follow the dialogue without reading the subtitles there.

I have also gotten used to asking people to switch places with me at lunch so that I can be at the correct corner to maximize my hearing abilities. With friends from work, I usually don’t even need to remind them of the reason, and even if I do, it’s enough to touch my deaf ear. Many of them remember anyway, sometimes even better than I do myself! I am not bothered by needing to tell strangers about my SSD either; I do it rather matter-of-fact and people are ok with that. And, when it gets real noisy and I simply cannot hear, I let the others know that now it’s impossible for me to hear. What happens then depends on the situation and how important it is for me to hear what they’re saying.

Maybe the most annoying thing about SSD in my opinion and experience is the inability to understand where a sound comes from. Like when I lose my phone (which happens frequently for I am aloof and just set it down *somewhere*) and I need other people to help me locate it even when I hear it ringing. Once this happened in a store… Or when I sit at a doctors’ office in the waiting room and then the doctor calls my name, from behind a corner (very bad practice in my opinion, by the way – note this if you happen to be a doctor!) and I have to ask the other patients where the call came from. Or when I call some family member at home and even they don’t bother to elaborate on their location. Highly frustrating!

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Yet, all in all, like I already noted, I mostly feel completely recovered. I can walk, I can work, I can climb (walls and trees), I can dance (if not really able to advance like before), I lead a completely normal life. My stamina is not what it used to be – I tire very easily – but hey! at least I sleep way better than ever before, thanks to the bright side of the SSD: when my good ear is against the pillow, I don’t hear all those disturbing noises that used to wake me up before, as I am a very light sleeper by default.

The good, the bad, the meh and the books of 2016

Vuosi valuu kohti loppuaan. Aika katsoa taas taaksepäin ja poimia vuoden hyvät, pahat, ompahavvaan ja kirjat esiin. ** This year is nearly over, so it’s time to take a look back and pick out the good, the bad, the meh and the books of the year.

Tammikuu ** January

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+ Harvinainen illanistujainen Stadissa teinien toimiessa koiravahteina ** rare occasion of going out with husband while teens were dogsitting
+ X-Files season 10 <3
+ Star Wars: The Force Awakens

– R.I.P. David Bowie
– R.I.P. Alan Rickman
– Auto juuttui lumiseen ojaan ** Car stuck in snowy ditch

* Kauniit lumiset maisemat ** The beautiful snowy nature

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Serpent (by Clive Cussler)

Helmikuu ** February

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+ Puhdas pään MRI ** Clean MRI ogf head
+ Kissakahvila Helkatti ** Cat coffee shop Helkatti

– Kehä ykkösen nopeuskamerat ** The speed cameras on Ring 1
– R.I.P. Uberto Eco

*  Työmatka Harjavaltaan ** Businesstrip to Harjavalta

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month:  Daughter of Narcissus (by Lady Colin Campbell)

Maaliskuu ** March

Brussels

+ Boulderoimassa eli seinällä pitkästä aikaa ** Bouldering, ie. wall climbing for the first time in years
+ Tallinna kaveriporukassa ** Tallinn with friends

– Brysselin lentokentän pommi-isku ** Bomb at Brussels Airport

* Työmatka Brysseliin ** Business trip to Brussels

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Luostarin varjot (by C.J. Sansom)

Huhtikuu ** April  

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+ Aloin maalata ** I started painting
+ Escape Room ensimmäistä kertaa ** Escape Room for the first time
+ Sain iPhone SE:n ** Got my iPhone SE

– R.I.P. Prince
– North Carolina diskriminaatio-lait ** North Carolina discrimination laws

* Nuorimmaisestakin tuli teini ** The youngest one became officially a teen

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Viipurin kaunotar (by Kaari Utrio)

Toukokuu ** May

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+ Ilmavoimamuseossa vierailu ** Visiting The Finnish Airforce Museum
+ Äitienpäivä ja Mamma <3 -muki ** Mother’s Day and Mamma <3 mug
+ Seikkailupuisto Korkee ** Adventure park Korkee
+ Hanami-juhla ystävien luona ** Hanami party at friends

* Työmatka Jyväskylä/Tikkakoski ** Business trip to Jyväskylä/Tikkakoski
* Työmatka Pori/Yyteri/Rauma ** Business trip to Pori/Yyteri/Rauma
* Sokeriton kuukausi ** Sugar free month
* Tyttärestäni kuoriutui poika ** My daughter grew up to be a son

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: The Pursuit (by Janet Evanovich)

Kesäkuu ** June

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+ Esikoinen pääsi peruskoulusta ja pääsi haluamaansa lukioon ** Oldest kid graduated from “peruskoulu” (sort of like junior high, which in Finland ends the mandatory school) and was accepted to the high school which was his first choice
+ Tosikoinen pääsi ala-asteelta ** Youngest one finished the elementary school
+ Rakennettiin hieno workbench autotalliin ** Built a sturdy workbench for the mancave in the garage

– Myrsky, jonka seurauksena tosikoiselta jäi partioleiri väliin ** Storm, that caused the youngest one to skip scout camp

* Mökkireissu teini-nelikon ja koiran kanssa ** At the summer cottage with four teens and a dog
* Brexit

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Scar Tissue (by Anthony Kiedis)

Heinäkuu ** July

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+ Kesäloma ** Summer vacation
+ Lapin reissu ** Trip to Lapland
+ Grillibileet kavereiden kanssa ** Barbecue with friends
+ Seikkailupuisto Zippy omien teinien kanssa ** Adventure park Zippy with my teens
Valkealalaiset tytöt pelastivat pikkupojan hukkumiselta ** The two girls who saved a little boy from drowning in Valkeala

– Liki päivittäiset ukkoset, jotka pelotti Meggieä ** Almost daily thundering that scared Meggie
Surullinen ja pelottavakin uutiskuukausi ** Sad and even a bit scary month of news

* Pokemon Go

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Gabrielle Zevin)

Elokuu ** August

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+ Ystävien ihanat häät ** The lovely wedding of my friends
+ Viikonloppu kummitätini luona ** Weekend with my godmother

– Räjähdyksiä Thaimaassa ** Explosions in Thailand
– Sähköisten lukiokirjojen hankinta ** Buying highschool eBooks
– Kahdet ylinopeussakot parin viikon sisään ** Two speeding tickets within two weeks
– R.I.P. Gene Wilder

* Työmatka Pori/Yyteri/Rauma ** Business trip to Pori/Yyteri/Rauma

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Tyttöteurastaja (by Riitta Lehvonen)

Syyskuu ** September

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+ Lyhennytin hiukset optimaaliseen mittaan ** Had my hair cut short(er), to an optimal length
+ Rapujuhlat landella ** Crawfish party at our summer place

– Surkea hotelli Iisalmessa ** Sucky hotel in Iisalmi

* Työmatka Iisalmeen ** Business trip to Iisalmi
* Työmatka Rauma/Pori ** Business trip to Rauma/Pori

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl (by Paul Brannigan)

Lokakuu ** October

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+ Firman “pikkujoulu”matka Seefeldiin, Itävaltaan ** Company trip to Seefeld, Austria

* Aika mitäänsanomaton kuukausi noin muuten ** A pretty uneventful month otherwise

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak)

Marraskuu ** November

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+ Konferenssimatka Wieniin ** Conference trip to Vienna
+ Ilta kummitädin seurassa ** Evening with my godmother

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– Viikkojen kamppailu flunssaa vastaan ** Weeks of struggling against flu
– Parin päivän äänettömyys ** Being voiceless for a couple days

* Työmatka Iisalmeen ** Business trip to Iisalmi
* Työmatka Heinolaan ** Business trip to Heinola

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (by Ransom Riggs)

Joulukuu ** December

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+ Tämäkin vuosi loppuu ** This year will come to its end
+ Joulu ja loma ** Christmas and vacation
+ Ei työmatkoja ** No business trips

– R.I.P. George Michael
– R.I.P. Zsa Zsa Gabor
– R.I.P. Carrie Ficher
– R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds
– Miehen jatkuva työreissaus ** The many business trips of my husband

* Saara Aalto (X-Factor Britain)

Kuukauden kirja ** Book of the month: Kenkäheinistä kännyköihin (by Riitta Lehvonen)