Traveling again, or “left my travel routine in 2019”

“So, you gonna pack still tonight, right?” H asked as we were finishing our dinner at 18:30 or so on Sunday evening. “Oh crap! Yeah! I suppose I better go do it right now before the last dog walk!” And I shot up from my chair and dashed downstairs to figure out what I was gonna take with me to Oslo in the morning.

I have been known to pack a proper little flight pack with wheels even for a short one night trip such as this one, complete with a full change of clothes, maybe even a couple of different outfits and definitely another pair of shoes. This time, however, I decided to travel light and take only a change of underwear and top with me. Otherwise, same jeans, cardigan and boots for two days. *Gasp!*

So instead of my roly-poly suitcase I selected my small backpack for my travel bag and stuffed the clothes and toothbrush in the front pocket, laptop, headphones and a bunch of chargers in the main compartment. And then added some. Chargers that is. For the laptop, the travel charge station for iPhone and Apple Watch, for the power bank, for the headphones.

Everything was ready, except for the stuff I couldn’t pack until the morning. Don’t you just HATE morning flights! I folded my clothes ready for the morning on the shelf of my closet and set a note on top, a list of the few items I needed to remember in the morning. I set my alarm for 5, figuring it SHOULD give me sufficient time to get to the airport and through security since the flight wasn’t until 7:30.

Satisfied that all was in order, we took the dogs out, and then I hit the shower. Read a bit in bed after my shower before turning off the lights. Just like always. “Are you stressed?” asked H as I fidgeted next to him after lights out, pushing my forehead against his chest. “Yeah. Stressed and anxious. About traveling to a strange place. About missing my flight. About finding my way at the airport, when it’s all different than when I last flew. About the alarm not going off in the morning (like that’s happened like, ever!). I’ll probably sleep ok until 3 or so and then start checking the time every 45 minutes as usual”.

Which is pretty much what happened, but before that: “Fuck!” I tossed my blanket off and tore my mask from my eyes and ran into the Studio to find my passport. No, as a Finn, I don’t really need a passport to travel to Norway, but seeing as I only have a driver’s license for ID, and that’s not an official ID even INSIDE of Finland, better have my passport with me just in case. Not that I needed to even take it out of my purse once on the trip. Still, better safe than sorry.

Found my passport and set it nicely on top of the note on top of my clothes and went to sleep. I mean, after that I actually fell asleep. And woke up a few times before the alarm and was wide awake as soon as it went off. I hopped out of bed, got dressed, almost forgot my glasses, but since I couldn’t see to order a taxi without them, I didn’t.

Taxi was on its way, two minutes from our house, when I realized that I didn’t have that darn passport. How? Why? How did I miss it? I dashed downstairs to look for it and COULD. NOT. FIND. IT.  It wasn’t on the shelf, it wasn’t on the floor, it wasn’t stuck to my clothes. IT WASN’T ANYWHERE! How can a passport vanish like that? It CAN’T! I started panicking (“My taxi is waiting and I’ll miss my flight and I can’t find my passport!”), which woke up my poor husband and he came to look for it with me.

Finally I noticed the bastard between the sliding doors and reached out to grab it, pulling the doors out of their rails in the action, but I really couldn’t have cared less at the moment. I flew out the door patting my pockets to check I had my phone with me. The taxi was still waiting at the curb and we were off. “To the airport”, I sighed. I sat in the cab, felt like crying or vomiting or maybe both but did neither. I concentrated on breathing.

[Oh, this is gonna be a long one, you think, still not even at the Helsinki Airport. Yeah, I know, sorry not sorry]

Yes, the airport was all different. The taxi driver showed me where to find the taxis on my way home before dropping me off (not that it really helped anything; I still needed to navigate to them through the huge unfamiliar arrivals lobby with help of the overhead signs), and I stepped into the huge unfamiliar departure lobby with none of the confidence I used to have about flying.

No problem going through security, not even a line there. And man those new X-ray machines there are cool! No need to take ANYTHING out of the bags.

With over and hour to kill, I set in search of a coffee shop and spotted an Espresso House that didn’t used to be there, just like the bookstores and WH Smiths weren’t there either. Got a mocca latte thinking it might soothe my stomach and sat in the crowded coffee shop for a while, reading, until it was time to make my way to the gate.

Boarding happened pretty much right on time, we all settled into our seats that were way too close to each other for normal sized people, I mean the Oslo airport train had more leg space. I sat there feeling queasy, not sure if I wanted to nap or read. Just waiting for us to get moving. And wait we did. For a half an hour we waited for the crew to find an iPad(!!!) that worked. Apparently the cockpit iPad (apparently nowadays all of the flight control manuals and calculations and whatnot run on iPads) refused to fuction, and even the spare one didn’t work.

I sent an email to my customer contact that my flight was late, I’ll let them know when we land.

Finally we took off and were on our way. If there was one thing about flying in November: I got to see the sun. Sunrise, actually, but sunlight anyway. For 45 minutes or so I had rays of sun streaming through my little toilet seat window. Otherwise there seems to be a blanket of thick clouds over the Nordics currently. Not a crack in the clouds as we flew over Sweden, and the fog was thick until we were basically on the ground. The top of the Oslo airport flight control tower was inside the low hanging clouds.

I checked my phone for emails as soon as we landed, and found instructions to take the Airport Express to the Olso Sentral Station and a taxi to the office from there. What?! Somehow I’d checked that the office was so close to the airport that it was best to just take a room at an airport hotel, but I nope. Kicked myself about that. A city center hotel would’ve been better, but it was too late already.

Off to look for the train I went anyway, resigned and still or already tired. Got another coffee and a croissant on the way; my stomach finally felt like handling food now that I’d gotten that far. Bought a return ticket, making it through the menus and choices in Norwegian because I didn’t see the language menu at the top corner until I was at the payment part (at which point the language switched to English due to my foreign card anyway), and soon enough I was whizzing through a scenery that was uncannily similar to Finland. If I hadn’t known better…

At the Sentral station (yes, it’s with an S in Norwegian) I was baffled again. It was huge and had a mall or two attached to it and signs this way and that for different exits, and even some Taxi signs, but they kinda stopped before I got out and so I exited to a street where there were no taxis, only some trams and a huge ass scull on a flatbed. And a statue of a jungle cat, tiger, I imagine. I took photos of both and traced my steps back to the last Taxi sign I’d seen and tried a different exit.

I finally found the taxi station, or one of them as I learned later on, and briefly wondered how reliable the Norwegian taxi services are and whether or not I should prioritize one over the other. Shrugging mentally, I next tried to discern where the front of the taxi line was, i.e. which car to head to. And failed. The driver whose car I tried to get in, got out and started pointing at a different car at a different spot and I vaguely got the idea he spoke neither English nor Norwegian, but I might be wrong about the latter.

The taxi seemed ok enough, and I got to the office safely and for a decent price. People were already waiting for me, but hey, shit happens when you travel. Flights are late and you get lost and stuff like that. We had a very good workshop day nad around four or so we wrapped things up for the day and I got into another taxi, this time together with the contact person, and so there I was again, at the shopping mall of a train station.

I thought I’d try to do some shopping there, but as I walked past storefront after storefront, I noticed I really wasn’t intereted. I was too tired. I contemplated on having pizza at the station before heading back to the airport for the shuttle to the hotel, but decided to get the pizza to go from the airport where I’d seen a Peppe’s right there in the train and bus lobby. So I whizzed back to the airport in the gray bullet train with my return ticket and dragged myself to the Peppe’s.

I ordered my size S Chicago style pizza, Green Garden (with avocado and marinated mushrooms and bell pepper and onion) and sat down to wait. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. half an hour passed and I started thinking to myself that at home I can get a pizza delivered faster than that. So I got up to as about my pizza and there it was. Siting on the shelf just waiting. Why didn’t anyone TELL ME that my pizza was ready? I was sitting right there next to the counter, waiting! Airports, I tell ya!

Feeling slightly pissed off (not having enough energy to be majorly pissed off) I set off with my already cooling pizza, in search of the hotel shuttle. I thought I found the correct one on the info screen, jogged to the bus ready to be off, and tried to buy a ticket to Scandic Oslo Airport hotel, only to hear that the bus for that was a different one. Okay, no biggie, the platform was just 30 meters the other way.

The correct shuttle bus was due to leave in five minutes so despite my plans to eat my pizza in front of a movie in the relative comfort of my hotel room, I decided to grab a slice. I was still munching on the last bite of the slive when the bus rolled to the platform, so I let this couple get on board first to give me time to swallow before needing to speak. I got my ticket (8 fucking euros for a 10 minute shuttle ride! I bigger places like Brussels they offer it for free! Or at least used to back when the dinosaurs walked the earth) and found a seat in the back and off we went, into the darkness of the nordic November.

I had done my hotel check-in in the morning while on the train, so getting my key was the fast operation of stating my name and giving my credit card for scanning (“but I already gave it when I paid on the app” “we can’t see any card here” “ok, here”) and getting the necessary info of breakfast and restaurant schedules, not that the latter one interested me in the least.

The hotel was like a goddamn Swedish cruise ship with long corridors this way and that from the elevators. My room was almost at the end of one and I nearly lost my confidence halfway, but trudged on until I found my room. A very standard Scandic room. The kind of sterile looking nondescript room with beiges and light grays and no minibar – not that I needed it: I had my own iced tea and water bottles, pizza, nuts, and candy to keep me happy for the evening. At least that much I remembered from the olden days. Always have your own drinks and snacks. Rather too much than too little. You can always take the leftovers with you. As I did and finished the nuts today, stashed the rest of the candy in my drawer.

I set up the wifi on my laptop and struggled for a bit with Netflix as it tried to log me into the Norwegian site, failing. Finally I got in and started browsing the Christmas movies; I mean it IS that time of the year! Selected one that seemed both funny and fuzzy as it well should. Something where the main character has amnesia after a ski accident instigated by a local Santa, in order to fulfill the wish of a little girl. Can’t remember its name, and while it wasn’t on the level of Hallmark (unfortunately ever since Netflix started making their own, no more Hallmark Christmas movies for us here), it was cozy enough and left me feeling good. Purpose served.

After a call with H and the dogs (no, they didn’t really understand that mama was there on facetime and went back to napping after an initial ear perk from hearing my voice) I set my alarm and went to sleep.

As expected, I woke up some 45 minutes before my alarm, so I showered and got dressed and went in search of breakfast way earlier than needed. It was a very Sacndic breakfast with the scrambled eggs made of powdered eggs (I actually like that stuff!) and bacon, fresh bread, cheeses and meat slices, with some fish and fruits and stuff thrown in. Very much as expected. That’s one thing about staying in a safe bet. It’s boring but it’s predictable.

On my way back to my room I asked the reception to call me a taxi in an hour or so. I figured that between the shuttle fee, the train ticket and the last bit in a taxi, it couldn’ be much more expensive to just have a taxi take me to the customer from the hotel, plus it’s faster and more comfortable. It was somewhat more expensive, but worth it.

After another successful workshop day I was in a taxi again, on my way to the train station. I spotted an Espresso House on my way to the platforms and asked for a tall cahi latte to go, please. The girl behind the counter looked confused for a second, then lifted two fingers and asked: “two chai lattes?” “No, one, a big one.” “Oh okay! Because tall (tolve) is twelve in Norwegian so I was confused a bit!” she chuckled. Heh, I would’ve been too, but it didn’t cross my mind.

I bought another train ticket, one way and in English this time and was at the airport, again, in no time. Found the security line just to be ushered to the next one, which was the fast track, but “your ticket doesn’t qualify for fast track”. No no no, the NEXT one, 50 meters that way! I wasn’t the only one who got the guard all wrong.

Oslo Airport doesn’t have those fancy new machines, so it was the old familiar routine of take out every device from your bags and strip down to your underwear. Well, maybe no stripping involved and actually no routine anymore either, so just a big fucking hassle during which I managed to accident-dial my son. Plus I forgot to take out my liquids, but I guess it didn’t matter. Nobody asked before and nobody said anything after either. So just the devices, those darn culprits. Laptop, iPad and phone.

I checked the gate, well double-checked it. My boarding pass said D6 and the info screen agreed. So I set my course towards the D terminal. Going throught the doors to the international flight area I found myself in the taxfree shop and figured I might as well bring some candy home for the kids, and ourselves too, why not. Some mixed chocolates for the offspring and mixed Lindt for us. My favorite, but overlooked by them kiddos. In a souvenir shop I found a fridge magnet (I almost forgot!) for myself, a mug for the youngest one and keychains for the two older ones. Presents for kids, check.

I suppose I could’ve eaten something proper or at least better at some eatery or another while waiting for my flight, but my stomach was feeling a bit queasy again, so I just got a croissant, a chocolate bun, and a Froosh from one of the Kiosks and walked to the gate to eat and work a little before the flight. Which was late. Again. Started boarding at the time when we were supposed to be taking off. I just wanted to be home already!

The plane was even smaller than the one on the way there. Four seats per row; can’t remember the last time in a tiny tube like that. Some domestic flight for sure. The leg space was more, though, while the seat belt so short that anyone bigger than me must’ve needed an extension!

An hour and twenty minutes in the sardine can, “a blueberry juice, please” (I never speak Finnish on international flight, even on Finnair flights, for reasons I cannot exactly explain), and a bit of working, blog writing and even reading, and finally we landed at the Helsinki Airport. I couldn’t have gotten out faster, except if I hadn’t stopped to use the toilet on the way. I speed-walked towards the exits which were where they didn’t used to be. I followed the taxi signs and found the taxi lines, and selected Taksi Helsinki, because it’s the only one I basically trust anymore after the taxi scene became a wild wild west. Bring back the taxi laws!

So home, finally! Doggos practically flew to greet me when I came in, H following them with a bit more patience and a smile on his face. I’ve become a total homebody. Never wanna travel again. Except in a week and half from now, to Berlin for company Christmas party and stuff. No but seriously. I don’t miss business travel. Not. At. All.

About books, you know

With my body exahusted by the flu, and my mind restless and tired of resting (even though it’s been only a day if even that) it’s no wonder, I guess, that my mind started to wander into books, owning books, reading books, bookstores, and my funny little dream of owning a bookish coffee shop, while reading a book about books (I love books about books and reading!).

So, as Thea in the book The Bookshop of Second Chances (by Jackie Fraser) wss getting her first impression of the used books store, Fortesque’s Books, in a little town in Scotland, my mind flew to all those quaint little bookstores in Dublin. Bookstores that were, like this store in the book, established in old brick or stone houses turned from family homes into stores. Little stores with curved staircases and an odd assortment of books hand-picked by the owner.

I felt a pang of sadness thinking that this is something we don’t have in Helsinki. What with the two centrally managed main chains of bookstores, the selection of every store basically the same, making up the majority of bookstores here. Of course there’s books in the bigger markets too (mass-market stuff) and your odds and ends in second-hand stores. Piles and piles of books dumped there by the heirs who don’t know what to do with all the books the previous generation collected.

Then I thought back to some really nice looking used bookstores I’ve seen here and there, some of which I even follow in Facebook, though I admit I have never set my foot in any of them. As much as I loved to scour the bookstores in Dublin, while walking back to the hotel from the conference center, with no worries or hurries, my normal life does not allow such. Or maybe it might, but I always seem to be in a hurry to go somewhere, get the most pressing matters taken care of, just to get back home.

So, not to self: visit AT LEAST that quaint looking antiquariat Sofia literally 93 meters from our office! Yes, I checked the distance with Google Maps.

No, I DON’T need more books, if that’s what you’re thinking now. Nope, I don’t. But with books it’s not about NEEDING as much as wanting. I DO need books to live, because as Mary Ann Schwalbe said, reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying. I couldn’t imagine a life without books OR reading, and while books are essential to reading (in my opinion), reading is not essential to books.

What I mean is that reading books and collecting books are two separate hobbies, and while they often overlap, that’s not always the case. For me it is, though.

I want to be surrounded by books. Even if the books are such that I will never read them. Like the political history and law stuff in the parliament library. I would never ever have the desire something like that, for i find it immensely boring. But I did love it when I visited it (for work). Just to have all those books around me. All the POTENTIAL!

I want to touch books. Even if they’re books I wouldn’t read. I like the feel of books and the smell of books and the physicality of books. I like to feel the material of the cover under my fingers, the feel of the pages as I turn them or flip through them, the weight or the lightness of the book.

I want to smell and look at books. The musty smell of and old volume, rarely opened. The smell of ink still almost fresh on new books. The decorations, fonts, pictures, little symbols, all those things that make the book, beside the obvious, the story.

And I want to read books. I want to dive into a new world that’s not mine. I want to become the main character. I want to feel and experience things that are not my life. I want to submerge, to be carried away by the story. I want to learn about lives that are different than mine. I read mystery, fantasy, history, drama, romance, action, biographies and auto-biographies (I prefer those). And when it comes to reading, ebooks are just as well as paper books.

My Our library is my collection of books and it is ever expanding. There’s much that I have read, much that I will read, and quite a bit of books that I may never even open. I don’t buy books that don’t have the potential for me to read them some day, even though for some books the day may or may not ever come (I mean, come on! So many books, so little time in this short life!), but I have inherited quite a bit of books that I value even if they’re not something I might read.

Some day my dad will die. He has, probably, even more books than I do. I won’t be able to take all of them, nor will I probably want to. I doubt there’s much value in them, selling to some antiquariat might not even be possible. Still, I do understand the notion of Thea when she thinks she should sell at least some of the books she inherited, the ones she really does not like or know at all. “Because, think of the other books I could buy with the money.”

The sad thing is, that as genereations go on with books so readily available (no, digital books have NOT killed the physical book), we start drowning in books no one wants. I guess we might as well start burning the excess in fireplaces; at least they’d keep people warm. It pains me to say so, but it’s the truth.

Which is why I buy some books in paper, to have them in my library, to have my heart warm up at the sight of the books, while some books I only buy for Kindle. And before you can ask, no, I don’t do libraries. I love libraries, but borrowing books is not for me. Not even those I don’t specifically desire to keep. I flit and float through my TBR pile, selecting books according to my mood. I can’t be restricted to what I can get from libraries and when.

However, I do have this funny little dream. I would like to open a coffee shop with books, walls covered in books. A coffee shop where you’re not allowed to use any devices, a place where people would come to read. You couldn’t take books out, only read them in the shop. I know, even I wouldn’t frequent it. But it’s a dream, a little dream of a common living room / library for people to come and read. Homeless people would get their coffee and cinnamon roll for free.

So now you know what I’d do if I won the lottery. Oh, I’d need to buy the tickets first, so don’t hold your breath 😀

2021 Wrap-up

I think I’ll go about it a bit differently this time. Not month by month, but just some highlights and books, music and pictures, of course. And only in English this time.

Starting with road trips

  • Tuomarila-Tuusula on a crisp winter’s day
  • Myrskylä and Porvoo on May Day
  • Kerimäki-Savonlinna weekend in May was a cool mini-break for us
  • Mid-summer weekend in Vesanto, visting my relatives and Kuopio
  • Hanko-Fiskars on a hot summer day
  • Billnäs on a cold November day
  • Inkoo on another cold November day

Some other major markers of the year

  • My eldest kid got a kitten and I babysitted him a couple times
  • Helsinki Book Fair
  • Late Night with Anders – my youngest kid’s fab school play
  • Company party at Lehmonkärki, Asikkala, where I also received my 10 years at Sulava award

And then some…

Corona or no Corona, most of our days are spent with the daily routines of work, eat, sleep, walk the dogs. During the summer time we routinely walked around the Tali golf course, multiple times a week. Obviously I took off to the Munkkiniemi beach a few times too, with or without a dog or two. During the summer we also visited our summer place several times.

The biggest change this year brought on us was Timmy moving to live with our youngest kid.

Also, we got a second car, an AMG V8 Mercedes Benz CLS 6.3 after I kinda wrecked our GLK (which was repaired, not totaled).

All of our three moved into their own apartments this year; eldest and youngest from shared apartments, middle kid from her mom’s. We are officially empty nesters.

Empty nesters who spent the whole autumn remodeling the house. New paint, new cabinets, new look.

Tattoos and piercings

There were a few…

Books

Read quite a bit more this year than in several decades. I guess the empty nest DOES give me more time for books 😉 63 is actually 66 for one of the books is Hobbit + LOTR bundled into one.

My top picks:

Most of my reading year was spent in different fantasy worlds, and I think that trend will pretty much continue, though there’s always some (auto)bios, detective stories etc. in the mix too.

Music

Spring time was emotionally quite difficult for me, and I ended up looping some 45 minutes of select songs mostly by Rush, Foo Fighters, Disturbed and Linkin Park. Oh, and Apulanta. That heavy rotation is clearly visible in my Spotify year, but it’s not really out of the ordinary in any way, since those + Muse are my heaviest rotation in any case.

With that, it’s a wrap

I hope for a good year 2022, despite the pandemic still going strong. It’s not fun no, but doesn’t mean life needs to suck.

Happy New Ye… sorry, JUMANJI!

Processing my books

I think when most people buy books, they stick them on a bookshelf or dresser top to await reading. Maybe take off the price tag, maybe not.

Me, I’m not like that. I process the books.

It’s book fair weekend in Helsinki and yesterday my husband and I braved the masses and went to the book fair. I equipped myself with a tote bag, but came home with two of them full of books. So there’s a lot of books for me to process before sticking them in my library!

The book fair was a deeply satisfying experience, even with the masses. I hate masses of people, but I can suffer them when the reward is golden enough, like it is in a rock concert or a book fair. Two and a half hours of live music from my favorite band. Hours of perusing through thousands and thousands of books. Bringing home a cool new band tee or hoodie. Bringing home bags full of new books.

Last time I visited the book fair there were some interviews of authors I attended, and some book signings too. This time there were no interviews that would’ve interested me, nor any book signings. Actually, there would’ve been but not during the time span of our visit. I did stop to chat with and old friend of mine, who is a poet and author and had her own stand at the fair. And bought a few of her books since I never did get around to order them before.

Exited at the book fair

So I bought a shitload of books. And didn’t buy some books that sort of called to either one of us, but I – or we – decided against after all. I didn’t buy the leather bound volume of full works of Edgar Allan Poe. The book was beautiful and all, but Poe is not my cup of tea, and husband has read it all. We didn’t buy this illustrated volume of Kalevala, even though it was beautiful too; it just wasn’t the exact version H wants. I didn’t buy the hard cover version of The Silmarillion, but settled on the paper back version. If only for the reason that the cover was prettier.

That was, by the way, the same reason I ordered the paper back version of Good Omens from Amazon.de once we got home – as I did not find it in English from the book fair – and noticed only after order that it’s temporarily out of stock with no clue as to when it would be available again. Bugger! I’m in no hurry though, so let’s see if I ever get it or if I need to cancel the order and get the hard cover.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Edited by Christopher Tolkien

So anyway, I came home with bags full of loot and now it’s all sitting on the dining table waiting for me to process them.

First, I glue my Ex Libris on them.

Taina Latvala, Torinon Enkeli, signed at the book fair

Then, I book them in Goodreads. Sometimes I need to create the book, as was in the case of the books Bullterrieri and Elina Salminen’s Kirjoita se kauniiksi.

Elina Salminen, Kirjoita se kauniiksi; Bullterrieri

Then, I flip through them, turn them in my hands to get their feel, scan through their pages to get their feel.

Then, finally, I place them in their rightful spot in my library. Sometimes I need to look around and ponder a bit to figure out the correct shelf and who the neighbors should be. Sometimes it even prompts some reorganization of the shelves. Sometimes it’s a straightforward process to just make space on the shelf and set the book in it’s new home.

All the books we own…

Books (most of them in Finnish):

  • Lisa Strømme – Mansikkatyttö
  • Jelena Chichova – Muistista piirretty kaupunki
  • Jean-Dominique Brierre – Edith Piaf Hymni rakkaudelle
  • Dennis McNally – A Long Strange Trip (the story of The Grateful Dead)
  • Karolina Kouvola – Pohjolan jumalattaret
  • Vanessa Kairulahti & Karolina Kouvola – Helsingin henget
  • Johan Egerkrans – Kuolemattomat hirviöt
  • Elina Salminen – Kirjoita se kauniiksi
  • Elina Salminen – Kuin lempeä laulu
  • Elina Salminen – Jos minä jostain alkaisin
  • J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion
  • S.N. Pires – Karhunkiertäjä
  • S.N. Pires – Yökulkija
  • S.N. Pires – Rummunvartija
  • Bullterrieri
  • Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith
  • Sofia Lundberg – Kuin höyhen tuulessa
  • Nelli Hietala – Maailmanlopun kahvila
  • Kiego Higashino – Uskollinen naapuri
  • Taina Latvala – Torinon enkeli

H got one book from the fair: Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life. He’s more into reading non-fiction.

Take-aways from the tales of Dave Grohl’s life and music

Yesterday I finished Dave Grohl’s book The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year, right there at the top, alongside T.J. Klune’s books The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door, and Max Seeck’s Kauna. I think any fan of rock music – not just Foo Fighters or Dave Grohl and his numerous other music projects – would enjoy the book what with all the encounters and the tale of punk rocker Dave growing up to be a world-renowned musician.

That said and out of the way, I did not love the book simply because it is a memoir written by my all time favorite musician; I loved it because it tasted like life. Somehow Dave Grohl managed to make his nearly fabled life sound just like an ordinary life, like my life or your life, just any life. His job just happens to be a rock musician who’s been rocking the fucking world for decades, but that aside, it’s a life, and one I could relate to in surprisingly many ways.

Fake it till you make it

This is one of my life mottos. I’m not a world-class musician, not a world-class anything, but as a trainer and consultant I have often felt like Dave wrote in the book on many occasioons. How did I get here? What am I doing here? Ok, I’ve got this. Because I fake it till I make it. And make he did, and so do I, in my own world of Microsoft consultation. Life is about challenges and living up to them.

Anger vs. frustration

Somewhere in the very first pages of the book Dave talks about his daughter Violet and how she was extremely verbally talented, and from a very young age could wield words like a way older person. Not only was I like that, and my son was like that, but I was especially amused by the story of Violet having a breakdown in the kitchen and telling her dad: “I’m not angry, I’m frustrated!” Dave noted that he still doesn’t know the difference, but apparently Violet does. Go Violet! I know too, and can’t even count how many times I’ve said that exact sentence to people claiming I’m angry when really I’m just fucking frustrated!

Fresh pots!

Oh, that coffee consumption! Goes a bit with fake it till you make it, as it is supposedly a remedy for too little sleep and too much to do while being awake. Thus you drink pots and pots of coffee just to make it (through the day awake). I too used to drink shitloads of coffee, go around like a Duracell Bunny on steroids, until I had the AN surgery. After that I started getting vertigo from caffeine. Slowly, but surely I pushed my caffeine limits, but never returned quite to the same levels as before. Just a cappucino or three a day, plus some 😀 Oh, and don’t miss on the Fresh Pots video!

Making a short story long

Sometimes while reading the book I felt a kinship of sorts as the style of writing felt so familiar, kinda like my own. Each chapter was constructed in a similar way as I construct my blog posts: around a theme, starting with an event and going from there. I am a storyteller, I come from a family of storytellers, and I found a fellow storyteller in Grohl. Another person able to write a short story about rescheduling a show to fly from Australia to LA to attend his kids’ Daddy-Daughter Dance and back to Perth, Australia witihn the same 36 hours. I mean, you can list events and give details, but that’s not a story. And I think that’s what most biographies lack. They’re not stories, they’re recitals of a life.

Not taking oneself too seriously

“Anything for a laugh,” writes Dave in the chapter Down Under DUI, about whizzing through the fest goers in a silly little scooter with Taylor Hawkins. I could totally do that, allow myself to be the laughstock, even revel in it. I learned somewhere along the way that it’s not good to take oneself too seriously. Life is way too short for that! Take the adventure when it’s available and go for it! Even if it sometimes ends in a DUI sentence or a broken elbow.

Using the word fuck

One of the things I love about rock concerts is that there’s people (on the stage) who actually use the word fuck more than I do (when not angry or, krhm, frustrated). Dave Grohl definitely is one of those, though I promise this book is not full of the word; I think it was used there only a few times in places that rather needed it.

Those young talents ❤

The book begins with Dave talking about his daughters Violet and Harper. Violet is an extremely talented singer who actually once told his dad that he’s not even the best singer in the house (not in the book, actually, but in one of the Youtube videos I ended up searching and playing before I got further in the book) – and they’re right too! My god, they have a fabulous voice! Just check out them performing a cover of Adele’s When We Were Young or this collaboration of dad and daughter as they sing Nausea! Harper, several years younger, on the other hand decided on drums and has tried her hand in concert already too, see eg. the rehearsal of We Will Rock You cover in Notes & Words (with Violet singing) in 2018.

These two young talents lead me to other videos of daughters of famous rock stars and by god I expect to hear more of also Toni Cornell and Olivia Vedder. Just listen to Toni Cornell singing about Far Away Places, or Olivia Vedder singing My Father’s Daughter. I mean, their dads rocked our world, now it’s their turn and they totally rock!