Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It Only Takes Two Seconds, And Your Future Is Changed Forever

“Do you remember that guy with the bottle up his behind?” one of the doctors said, to a chorus of laughter. “And the best part is always the explanation. They were cleaning, naked, and happened to back into something, or in the sauna and just happened to sit down on the bottle and it just slid right it.”

At this point we were all laughing, doctors and nurses talking all at once, sharing their stories about embarrassing patient visits.

“Once while I was still studying to be a doctor, I was working as a gynecologist and one woman came in with a perch up her vagina.”

“Maybe the fish tail felt just right against her lady parts.”

More laughter.

“Okay, enough with the vagina talk, lets start the meeting.”

It was a good meeting; the entire department was in a good mood. And then I saw my mother through the glass door, standing outside. She was waving to me, motioning for me to come.

My curiosity peaked, I left my mug of hot chocolate on the table and left the room.

“Your brother’s had an accident. Apparently his moped was hit by a car.”

It’s the kind of thing you sometimes worry about happening, but mostly you just quickly put it out of your mind, maybe knock on wood, or your own head if you happen to be out of wood. It’s the kind of moment when you forget everything else, and your only priority becomes making sure your little brother is okay.

The call mom received was by Anton’s friend. The only thing she said was that Anton was lying in the street, not moving and that the medical helicopter had arrived on scene. We jumped into my car and I drove to the scene of the accident. As we came closer we saw the lights. Brilliant blue lights, flashing in the distance. The lights that are supposed to tell you that you’re safe, help is here. But I just saw the flashing lights, chilling proof of the very thing I had hoped would never happen. First we saw the fire truck. Then the police car. Then the ambulance and the helicopter. And when we saw the people standing in clusters, whispering, we knew it was bad.

Anton was rushed to the emergency room, but mom and I had to drive there in my car. I still have no idea how I kept the car on the road, but we made it there not long after Anton had arrived.

A thorough examination revealed that the only thing badly hurt was his leg. It seemed almost impossible that he had been that lucky. And then the surgeries started. The first one happened that same night. His leg was crushed, and they didn’t know if they would be able to save it.

Fortunately, they were.

Several surgeries, several days in the intensive care and a couple of weeks in the surgical ward later, Anton is finally home again and the entire family can breathe again. His leg will never be what it was, and he has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

But he’s alive.

And today I value that fact a lot more than I did just a few weeks ago. You never know when will be the last time you tell someone goodbye.

Never leave a conversation angry.

Never leave without saying goodbye.

Never take someone for granted.

They’re all clichés, said too many times to really stay in your mind. But when the flashing blue lights appear in the distance, you realize how important they are.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vegetable Friday FTW!

I’ve been told you’re never supposed to apologize on the internet. Suffice it to say that after my last post I was so embarrassed by all the cat pictures that I fell into a deep depression, drank all the vodka I could find, moved on to the fine wine, then the not-so-fine wine, polished off the absinthe and the gin, moved on the fruitier liqueurs and finished my binge with a very nice pear cognac. Then I went to the liquor store and really got started.

I woke up three weeks later, disoriented and broke and with a strange sense of déjà vu. Gingerly, I set out to make things right again. I sold the Russian mail order bride, recycled all the empty bottles, threw out the very exotic collection of roadkill that had somehow appeared in my apartment and fed the cats with some old pizza I found under the couch.

Then I opened my laptop and realized I’d missed about a year’s worth of blog posts (how is that even possible when I wasn’t away for more than a couple of weeks?) I closed the laptop, baked a mudcake, ate it with some ice cream and a nice glass of wine, and opened the laptop again. Before the week is over, I will have read all some of the blog posts that I’ve missed. You have my very questionable word on it.

And now for something completely different. In God’s chosen land, the land of over-sized everything, of ridiculous lawsuits, turducken and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the land where it’s perfectly legal to be Sarah Palin, pizza is now a vegetable. At least if we ask Congress.

This got me thinking about a conversation Mike and I had a couple of days ago. It went a little like this:

Mike: Finland was mentioned on the most recent episode of Parks & Recreation. One of the characters traded all of Finland's boring stuff for lions at a mock UN conference. Funny.

Ziva: Sounds great.

Mike: It's very funny. I think so, anyway. They'll probably cancel it next week. Not Finland. The show. I'm sure Finland won't get cancelled for a long time. But if I hear anything, I'll let you know so you have time to pack.

Ziva: I think they’ll cancel America way before they cancel Finland; God knows America jumped the shark about three Presidents ago.

Mike: No shit. Did you know America's never mentioned in the Book of Revelation? It doesn't even figure into The End of Days. And yet we think we're so important. Some of us do, anyway. Not me.

Mike, my other American readers, you better start packing cause any country that declares pizza a vegetable is about one bad plot twist away from being cancelled. On the plus side, I hear Canadians are really nice to foreigners.

Lions, way more interesting than all of Finland's boring stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something Important to Tell You, I Have

Come everybody, come. Gather around.



Not that close.

Okay, good. Please say hello to the newest addition to our family. This is Yoda.

Now, take a good look at him. Look closer. Closer. Good. You won’t be seeing much more of him, because Yoda will have a normal childhood, and not be ruined by fame like Darth Vader was. He will not be teased by all the other cats, have them laughing at him, mocking him for having a blogging mom who keeps posting pictures of him with no clothes on. He will not have to rise above the teasing, only to become a snotty diva with a huge head, begging his poor blogger mommy to take more pictures of him. He will have a normal, low-key, only a few pictures a day kind of childhood. He will be a normal cat, dammit!

….okay, just a few more pictures. But these are the last ones, I promise!


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Big One Goes In The Back

Previously on Ziva’s Inferno:

Ziva found herself helplessly in love with the gorgeous Canadian blogger-come-leader-of-the-world, the one and only Nicky. Desperate for her affection, Ziva set out on a mission. A mission to woo Nicky. She managed to trick the beautiful Nicky to Skype with her, and after a rocky start, a little help from the awkward banana and a French-speaking child, Nicky and Ziva hit it off like no one ever thought a cheese-lover and an ex-assassin could. And then Ziva fell off the face of the earth, presumably lost in Tijuana.

In this week’s episode, Ziva magically resurfaces, broke and hung over, but seemingly no worse for wear, and she is on a mission. Again. This time, it is not to woo Nicky, (although Ziva would like to point out that she will win Nicky’s heart again, even if she has to eat cheese to do it,) but to tackle the greatest problem known to womenkind; men’s inability to do it right.

This is probably one of the most common conversations M and Ziva have:

Z: ”No, it doesn’t go there!”
M: “Where then?”
Z: “A little to the right. More. More. There!”
M: “What about this?”
Z: “No, that’s not right, put it in the back.”

We’re of course talking about the dishwasher. Men can’t seem to get it right. But, nice as Ziva is, she tries not to be a nagging bitch, so whenever M puts the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, she just secretly sneaks in after he’s left the kitchen and rearranges the dishes. Yes, she’s that pedantic.

And now that she wrote it down, she's realizing it's not even a very interesting topic to discuss. At all. Ziva is very sorry she wasted your time. It’s back to Tijuana for her.

Ziva would also like to apologize for talking about herself in the third-person singular throughout this thoroughly useless post. *

Friday, August 19, 2011

This Title is Not Relevant to the Story

Yesterday I was talking to MikeWJ and bitching about my lack of inspiration for blog posts.

MikeWJ: Write about something serious and personal.
Ziva: I hate serious and personal.
MikeWJ: Okay, so write about something not serious and not personal. 
Ziva: Like what?
MikeWJ: Write about the time you fell in love.

And so, I did.

It was a beautiful spring day. It could also have been fall, or winter, or even summer, I can’t really remember, but it’s not important to the story anyway, so just go with it.

It was a beautiful spring/fall/winter/summer day. Of course, since I can’t even remember what time of year it was, I can’t really say for sure that it was a beautiful day. It could very well have been raining small popular mammals or snowing or even just been overcast and dull. Finnish weather isn’t very predictable and I can’t really be expected to remember what the weather was like that beautiful spring day. Let’s just get on with the story.

Small popular mammal.

It was a beautiful/rainy/overcast/gray/snowy spring/fall/winter/summer day. Come to think of it, it probably wasn’t even day, what with the time zones and all. It was probably in the middle of the night and I should have been in bed hours ago and I probably had to work the next day and I probably spent all day at work yawning like the proverbial sloth that ran the marathon. What was that? That’s not a common saying? Well it should be. Anyway, what I was saying is that I was probably very tired, and spent all of the next day yawning, and then I probably took a nap after work, which shifted my internal clock forward to make me more internet-adapted, but at the same time making me less work-adapted and less Finland-adapted, which eventually resulted in the permanent black circles I have under my eyes now as a result of living on four hours of sleep every night.

Back to the story.

It was a beautiful/rainy/overcast/gray/snowy spring/fall/winter/summer day/night/evening/morning. You know, it probably didn’t even happen in one day or night at all. Now that I think about it, it happened over time, slowly but surely, like the sun slowly growing and expanding until it eventually kills everything on this planet in a raging inferno of fire and brimstone, souls screaming in agony and babies crying for their mommy, but less gruesome and more sweet.

I think it’s best if we just start over completely, don’t you think?

The first time she commented on my blog, I thought she was a man. She spelled her name weirdly, like a man, and she grabbed her balls a lot, too. Or so I thought, but as it turned out, she didn’t have any balls so I guess she mostly just grabbed her man’s balls. Or maybe she didn’t grab any balls at all and that’s something I made up just now. I really don’t know, I’m writing this at work and I think my brain is still asleep because I stayed up too late reading her blog again.

 Magic 8-ball, shown here with small popular mammal. Not relevant to the story.

I’m really not doing the story justice.

I have a crush on Nicky, okay??

And she wrote me a poem in her sleep, so I’m pretty sure she likes me, too. *

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: The Rejects

I bet you thought this would be over by now. If you did, you’d be 100 percent right. Yesterday was my first day as a free woman in a month, and boy did it feel good. This project has been a lot of fun for me, and it’s really helped me look at the world differently, from an artist’s point of view. I’ve taken some really good pictures, some really bad pictures, some really strange pictures, and a whole lot of really mediocre pictures. But it was also very challenging to try to keep up with the pace of one picture every day, and some days I cut it extremely close to the deadline.

Anyway, I'd like to thank you, Michael, for agreeing to share this project with me, and for kicking my ass every day with your fantastic photos, making me want to become a better photographer. Let me know when you feel like going for round two. And thank you, my dear readers, for not groaning out loud when you realized this thing would go on for thirty freaking days. Well, thirty-one, as it turns out. Because today I’m going to post some of the pictures that I took this past month and that didn’t make the cut the first time around.

These were the last ones, I promise. *

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: God

God. Allah. Yahweh. El Shaddai. Deus. Gandalf. God has about as many names as P. Diddy, and is known in one form or other by literally dozens of people. When I was little I was sure that God was an old man with a long white beard, living in the clouds. And even though I'd like to think I know better now, I can't help but wonder if this is where God takes his vacation. It looks like a pretty laid back cloud, after all. *

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Night

I live within spitting distance of the polar circle. This means that our summer nights last for about 30 seconds and never really get dark. But the sun does set, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to catch a sunset that sets the sky on fire.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Weather

I’ve spent the last couple of days hoping for some extreme weather for this shot, but we’ve had a suspicious lack of weather lately. 70 degrees and cloudy. Every day. Yesterday we were supposed to get some rain and thunder, but it was 70 degrees and overcast, and not even a pretty kind of overcast, just boring overcast.

This picture is from a few weeks ago when the weather gods actually delivered on their promises and gave us rain and thunder. Muschu and I were sitting on the beach, I was taking her picture when the wind suddenly picked up and we heard thunder. In the far distance we could see the rain, and I forgot all about taking Muschu’s picture and instead tried to capture the ominous-looking cloud on film.

Edited 7:15 pm: 15 minutes after posting this, it's now raining. *

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Two


Friday, August 5, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Chocolate

If there’s one thing I like almost as much as I like Pepsi Max, it’s chocolate. Show me a person who doesn't like chocolate and I'll show you a person who's lying. I realize of course that someone will read this now and feel the need to be original and say that they don't like chocolate at all, just to contradict me and to stand out. But it's no use. I know you like chocolate, you big fat liar. You can't fool me. Chocolate is like cheese; everyone likes it. *

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Dinner

Today M exhibited an extraordinary lack of judgement when he left for Helsinki for three days and left me in charge of the apartment, the cat, and most importantly, feeding myself. And with M gone, I did the only thing I could do. I enlisted the help of my two favorite men, Ben and Jerry. Dinner is served! *

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Wet

When I hear the word “wet,” I automatically think about sex water. Water makes things wet, right? I like water, in every form. I love the steam in a good sauna, I enjoy to swim in it and skate on it. I think snow and frost is beautiful, and I even like to drink water straight from the tap. Yes, I’m really that hardcore. But my favorite form of water is, and always will be, rain.

This picture is of raindrops on the windshield in M’s car. We were on our way to see friends, it was raining, and I was smiling.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Summer

Summer in Finland is like a short but intense love affair. We make everything we can of it, because we know another long and cold winter is waiting just around the corner. This summer has been hot. Very hot, by Finnish standards. We’ve gone to bed sweaty, woke up sweaty, gone to work sweaty. My skin has felt constantly sticky, my coloring deepened by the sun.

Summer in Finland is making the most of what’s given to us. Eating typical summer foods, swimming in the sea, lying in the sun, even when it’s too hot to really enjoy. It’s endless summer nights, spent watching the sunset, then the sunrise a couple hours later. It’s bare legs and mosquito bites. Picking wild strawberries and threading them onto a strand of wild grass, like a string of rubies. Eating them, one by one, savoring the taste. It’s blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, eaten with milk and sugar. Barbeques with friends, a sauna by the lake. Summer in Finland is all these things, and more.

It’s stupid socialist 5-week vacations, 20 hours of light a day. It’s thunderstorms, rain and hail. It’s camping and road trips and days on the beach. It’s ice cream and rowboats and sea gulls and hedgehogs. It’s silly romance novels and laundry drying in the sun outside. It’s drinks with ice, live music and dance. It’s love and romance and time with your family. And it's hardly any snow.

The last weeks in July, newspapers in Finland announced that we were experiencing the hottest summer in 23 years. But a couple of days ago, when July turned to August, autumn came knocking. As if someone had flicked a switch, the warm summer mornings that left you longing for a cold drink turned cool. Suddenly, I found myself wanting to go back in to get a sweater. The days are still warm, summery, even, but the nights are quietly telling you that fall will soon color the leaves red. Red like the wild strawberries on that blade of grass.

I’m looking forward to fall. To the beautiful colors and the crisp air. I love fall mornings when you can taste the cold on the air. I love fall nights when the wind is howling and the rain keeps everyone inside. I love leaving work to an already dark afternoon, and lighting candles at home.

We still have a little summer left, though, and in Finland, we enjoy every last moment of warmth and light. We drink it in, so that when the winter is at its coldest, we can already tell by the lightening skies that summer will soon be here again.

This picture is from the home M grew up in, where the gooseberries are ripe, and the sun still warms the grass under your feet. But you can tell it’ll soon be over.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Self-portrait

For 22 days now, I have been dreading this day. Dreading this picture. There is nothing I hate more than photos of myself, videos of myself the only possible exception. If I can, I avoid being caught on film, and even when I can’t, I turn away. There are a disproportionate number of pictures out there featuring the back of my head.

This means that I’ve spent the past three weeks trying to figure out how to cheat on this picture, and I think I finally have an answer.

Behold, Ziva:


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: When I Was Young

When I was young, my grandfather was still alive.

My grandfather was a beautiful man. I saw pictures of him as a young man when he had thick black hair, and a smile that could charm the pants off any woman. He always had a mischievous look in his eyes, always seemed ready to laugh. By the time I knew him his hair was turning gray, but the twinkle in his eyes was just as bright. He married the love of his life at a very young age, and did hard labor all his life. He was a hard worker, and a very strict parent to my mother and her brother.

He was not as strict with us, though. In fact, it seemed like he devoted his entire life to making his grandchildren happy. He was a heavy smoker for over 30 years, and to this day I associate the smell of cigarette smoke with a safe place, and with nights spent sleeping in a cot next to grandpa's bed. When I was little he used to do jigsaw puzzles with me, he taught me how to play cards, and made me believe that I really won all those times we played. He helped me cut out paper dolls and make dresses for them, and he showed me how to play Tetris on the Nintendo and beat the high score every single time. In the summers he took us to the house at the lake and watched over us as we learned how to swim. He took us out in the little boat, all the way across to the other shore, where he bought us doughnuts.

He showed me how to build a little boat out of bark and to put resin from the tree on the end of it to break the surface tension and propel the bark boat forward. He showed me how to build animals from pine cones by giving them stick legs, and how to loosen the bark from a branch of goat willow and make a whistle out of it. And every year he made a ginger bread house with us for Christmas. This tradition we kept going even after he got sick, with me and my sister making the ginger bread house while grandpa and Anton watched and offered smart-ass comments. On the wall by his bed he hung a huge picture of me as a 5-year old, dressed as a pirate, and when I was little and sleeping over he used to run his finger slowly over my nose, lulling me to sleep.

When he was diagnosed with cancer I spent all my spare time with him, either at the hospital, or at home if he was having a good week. I don't remember doing any studying that year at all. I barely remember the entire year, in fact. From the moment I got the call from mom, saying that he was sick, to a year later when I got the call from mom, saying he wouldn't live through the night, it's all just a big blur. But we did share many laughs, even during that difficult year. I stayed with him that night after mom called, and in the morning I held his hand as he passed away.

I think about him a lot, and I cherish the memories I have of him. For this picture I went out and got some pine cones and gave them stick legs. They're cows, I decided, but M thought they looked more like sheep, and he's right. So they're sheep. The one on the left is Rosa, that's Billy in the middle, and little Eugenia on the right.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Different

“Colourscape is made up of one hundred colourful sphere-like chambers, linked together into a giant labyrinth.” When I read that very British sentence I knew this was something I had to experience. So on Tuesday afternoon, M and I found ourselves standing in line, waiting to be swallowed by the giant vagina-like entrance to the enormous blow-up labyrinth. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Now you might be wondering why there was a giant labyrinth with a vagina entrance in a park near my house, and I assure you, it’s not something that happens all the time. Some people might even call it “different.” Personally, I call it freaky as hell. The reason for this is perfectly logical, though; Turku is the cultural capital of Europe this year, and as such, full of crazy art installations, floating saunas and exhibitions.

And so M and I decided to enjoy some culture. We entered the labyrinth and stepped into a world of color. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The spheres were all different colors, and the strange thing is, the different colors actually felt physically different. I felt drawn to the red spheres, but they were almost too intense to step into. The black sphere was like a big bubble of nothing, and the grey spheres a lovely calm neutral. Yellow made me feel mellow and happy, and green was just plain weird. In the very middle of the labyrinth, we found a band, playing very unique music that sounded throughout the labyrinth. The entire experience was sort of like swimming through light and color, very strange indeed.

These pictures don’t do the experience justice, but I’ll post them anyway. If you ever have the chance to visit Colourscape, you definitely should. Just don’t do drugs before you go in.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Black

Black is the color of my hair when it’s wet. It’s the color of my car’s steering wheel, which gets intensely hot in the sun. Black is also the color of most of my clothes, and sometimes the color of the music I listen to. It’s the name of a girl who sings annoying songs about weekdays, and the color of the sky on cold winter nights. It’s the color of my computer, of the remote control and the TV. The cover of my copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is black, as is the cover of the dreadfully boring Environmental Law and Justice in Context that I should be reading instead of silly space adventures. Black absorbs all frequencies of light in the visible spectrum, and it’s the color of sorrow. That didn’t stop the Rolling Stones from painting it black, though, and it certainly didn’t stop the Man in Black from being awesome. Black is not the color of the rainbow, but sometimes it’s the color of my mood when I’m trying to figure out what to photograph for a certain theme, like Black, for example.

But most importantly, black is the color of my favorite kind of candy; ammonium chloride, the Finnish way. Salmiakki is black as the night, saltier than the Dead Sea and a candy only the most daring of connoisseurs would put in their mouth. I could live only on salmiakki, but I’m Finnish, it’s in my DNA. I’ve tried offering it to Americans, but they spit it out and thought I was joking when I told them it’s edible. If any of you feel like you’re up for the challenge of tasting it though, I’ll be happy to send you some.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Tears

Today is the 18th day of this 30-day photography project, and when I first started the project, I thought today’s theme might prove very difficult. However, it was one of the easiest. A few days into the project I visited one of my best friends, Dani, and her young boys. This is Noah, a little tired, a little hungry, and so incredibly adorable.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: A Moment

Every photograph is in itself, by definition, a moment. When the shutter opens and closes, that moment in time is frozen forever, available for anyone to look at. I've experienced many moments that I wish I could have frozen and gone back to time and time again, relived, re -experienced and perhaps even made a little better. But somehow it seems the camera is never around for those precious moments, and when you don't have the camera in your hand, you often don't even notice the moments slipping by. But when you do have the camera handy, all you see are moments in time, just waiting for you to capture them. You regret that you weren't fast enough to catch the butterfly on the flower, or to get a picture of the child jumping straight into the puddle. You smile to yourself when you realize that you just got a one in a million shot, and you didn't even do it on purpose. And sometimes, like it was for me with this picture, you just look up, and you realize that you're experiencing a perfect, peaceful moment. You lift your camera and you make the moment last forever.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thirty Days of Photographs: Old

When I was eleven years old I had already spent many summers by the sea, and had learned all the important things like digging for worms and catching my own fish, and doing the puppy dog eyes at dad to make him clean it for me. And next, I wanted to learn how to drive a boat. My dad had a fast motorboat that I was dying to drive, but while I was pointing at the motorboat, my dad simply shook his head and pointed to this old, blue, rowboat, owned by my mother before me and her father before her. There was an old outboard motor attached to the appropriate end, but that was about it. I looked at it and shook my head. I wanted to learn how to drive the big boat. But dad wouldn’t give in, and eventually I just hopped into the rowboat. Aaand hopped out. The holes needed fixing first.

When the boat was sufficiently waterproof, I jumped in again and listened intently to everything dad told me about the outboard motor. Steer left, boat will go right, steer right, boat will go left. Simple enough. It took me about 72 tries to start the motor, though. But eventually I did learn to drive the thing, and I drove it everywhere, at staggering speeds capable of overtaking any wet cat out for a swim.

My mom and dad figured I was old enough to take care of my younger sister out at sea, and so our adventures begun. I’d drive, and she’d look out for underwater rocks, never shouting out in time. We drove from island to island, in to town for ice cream and back again. More often than not we’d run out of gas and have to row the boat several miles back. And if we didn’t run out of gas, someone had mysteriously taken our sparkplug, or forgotten to open the tank vent, or gotten rid of one of our oars. We were a menace out at sea, and if dad had known how and where I drove that boat, I’m not sure he would have let me do it.

I grew to really love that little old boat and the crappy motor. I promised myself I’d paint it some day, but now my brother has taken over ownership of the boat, and it’s still not painted. Dad did buy him a new motor, though, which you can see in the picture. The old held together only with love and duct tape and had to go when the propeller blades started to fall off.

I’m amazed that boat still floats, and something tells me it’ll still be floating long after I’m dead. *