Apr 07, '14 : The Impressionist

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m the kinda guy who’s fairly easily impressed by others. I may not always say it, or show it to the person in question, but in my heart I know it.

I look up to those people and I try to emulate them. Maybe I’ll start to dress like them, or I try to walk like them, or – just something. As a kid I taught myself how to fake Wayne Gretzky’s autograph, and I put a photo of Wayne over my own photo in my bus pass. When somebody told me I walked like Esa Peltonen, a Team Finland star, I made sure to keep walking that way.

When I was ten, or eleven, and read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to be Mark Twain. He's still my literary hero and one day I will have a mustache like that, too.

The red one.

» Continued

Apr 04, '14 : Me, superhero

Filed under: Based on true events

I was only ten years old when I realized the first of my superpowers. I was sitting in the backseat of our car, in a parking lot somewhere, waiting for my father to come back from the store or the hockey rink. For some reason, I wasn’t reading comics, or a book, but instead just looked out the window – like kids used to do back in the day.

As I was staring out the window, possibly trying to see if Dad was on his way back, I realized that I was actually looking right through a lamp post.

R.

» Continued

Sep 09, '13 : Scar tissue

Filed under: Based on true events

“How come you don’t have any beard over here, where you have that scar?”
– Son, one recent Saturday


Right on the edge of my chin, on the left side, there's a scar. It's not a big one, just a couple of centimeters long, and since it is where it is, you don't really see it, especially if I'm clean shaven. But then I make a funny or scary face, or grin, the scar travels a little further up, and it’s there for you to see it.

And every once in a while when someone realizes I have a scar on my face, she asks me about it.

“How’d you get that scar?” she’ll say, and I’ll smile and say:

“You should see the other guy.”

And then I tell her the story.

This is some other scarface.

» Continued

Aug 31, '13 : Glove is in the air

Filed under: Based on true events

Ever since I realized it was cool to have parents who have done extraordinary things, I’ve told all my friends that my father won a Finnish championship as a young man. It was a major ace in the hole when other kids were bragging about their parents’ successes.

Now, my Dad was no longer a player, like Lare’s father - who played Division II soccer - and my Dad wasn’t a candy wholesaler like Pekka’s, but he sure had won that Finnish title.

Except that he won it in pesäpallo, which while being Finland’s national sport, was, and is, also a small and rural sport, and therefore, not the coolest of sports.

Also, he only sort of won a championship. That he was on the team that won can’t be disputed and never will be disputed, because I have the evidence right in front of me. On my desk there’s a photo, a newspaper clipping, in which he’s holding the trophy and his teammates are all around him, beaming.

Proof!

» Continued

Jun 18, '13 : The Discoverers

Filed under: Based on true events

Wife looked at me, and raised her eyebrows.

“You gotta do what you gotta do. There’s no other way,” I said.

“You’re right,” she said, got back on her bike, and kept on riding through the overgrown grass and some bushes. We were discovering things, and nobody said it would be easy.

X marks the spot.

» Continued

Feb 23, '13 : Frozen

Filed under: Based on true events

It’s never cold in the beginning. My fingers still work, so I can take photos with my mobile, and do a Facebook check-in. The cold doesn’t hit until the last ten minutes of the hour, and by then, I’m so close to going home I know I’ll make it out of there alive.

I look down to my feet, and I see that I’ve managed to stomp a perfect square into the snow, and that makes me happy. I’d smile, but the muscles on my face won’t move anymore. I look out to the ice to see if Daughter is still skating around in circles. She is. I look at the clock at the other end of the field, and note that I still have seven minutes to go.

Cold.

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

I missed him at first. I guess I was reading my book and, besides, it was the subway, so people are coming and going all the time. Even people with accordions, and guitars. Not that he had any of those. What made me pay attention was a word he used.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a few bucks to give to an apartmentless man,” he said.

Half full or half empty?

» Continued

Oct 16, '12 : Not That '70s Show

Filed under: Based on true events

We were walking home from school, as always, my friend and I, talking about this and that. I couldn’t stop thinking about the advertisements I saw everywhere. I could see one right then, on a lamp post.

“Take an egg to work,” it said.

Take an egg to work? How? As far as I could tell, it was impossible. It was funny, but impossible.

Gerry and Leo.

» Continued

Aug 22, '12 : The Code

Filed under: Based on true events

FADE IN.

INT. - A CLASSROOM - DAY
Two dozen adults sit on small chairs, facing a teacher who's smiling and nodding to them.

Can you break the code?

» Continued

Aug 04, '12 : Life's a beach

Filed under: Based on true events

The sun is out and the beach is crowded but we found a spot, we found a spot! It’s not too close to the water but not too far, either. It’s not too far from the café but not too close to the garbage cans, either. It may be a little too close to the soccer game, but Wife promises me I won’t get hit by the ball so that’s where we lay the blanket.

And yes. Yes, there is a soccer game going on close to us. They’re playing barefoot on a dirt field, the kids and their fathers. The shirtless children are brown and browner, some by birth, others turned brown by the scorching sun. The fathers hop around trying to figure out how hard to play, whether to let the kids get the ball easily, or whether to use their bodies to separate them from the ball, so they experiment with their own kids.

Beach.

» Continued

Jul 10, '12 : Maybe Grandma?

Filed under: Based on true events

Every family’s got them. Their very own legends. Stories that may or may not be true but that get told so often that even if they didn’t start out true, they’ve become such a big part of the person they’re told of that they might as well be.

Like the one about how I learned to read. The family legend is that I always asked my parents to read for me, and tell me what each letter was, until one day, when I once again asked my father to read comics to me, and he just told me to do it myself. So I did.

Or how the reason for my not eating tomatoes - (Except that I sort of do these days, on pizzas and in salads, but never just a slice of tomato) - is my father making me eat one at dinner even after I said I didn’t want to. I put it in my mouth, but threw it back up again right away.

Not my grandma.

» Continued

Apr 05, '12 : Father and Son, Inc.

Filed under: Based on true events

Last weekend, Wife and Daughter packed their bags and drove south. Now, because it had been snowing when we got up, instead of driving to the cottage, as planned, they only drove south for ten minutes, parked the car at the In-Laws’, and spent the weekend at their imaginary cottage, giving Son and me the male bonding weekend we had talked about. (And the female bonding weekend to them).

This was to be a weekend of life lessons, something they would make a Hallmark movie about. Son and I would talk and hang out, watch movies, eat hamburgers, and while doing that, I would drop some words of wisdom his way.

Like, “Did you know that they just found the Apollo 11 engines?” or “Did you know that there are actual flying cars these days but they’re now called roadable aircrafts.”

And Son would nod, and take notes like I was going to ask him to. That was the plan. But first, we had to run to the train so we’d make it to the 12.10 showing of the 3D version of “The Phantom Menace”.

Park Place! I got Park Place!

» Continued

Mar 28, '12 : True fiction

Filed under: Based on true events

I don’t know if we were friends anymore, although I’m pretty sure we were. I know we weren’t enemies, which is natural since we were teenagers, and at least for me, there were just buddies and other people. When I look back now, I think we had been pretty good friends because we went to the same school, but I also know that we only went to the same school for about a year and a half, two years maybe, and I had lost track of him a little bit.

Maybe I liked him because he seemed to be always smiling, or because he was nice to me, a new kid in town, or maybe because he shared a name with my father, which made his name unusual for somebody his age.

A real house.

» Continued

Mar 11, '12 : World, meet Sweden

Filed under: Based on true events

In Finland, there are thousands of jokes about the Swedes. Entire books have been dedicated to the art form, and one of my all-time favorite jokes actually comes from one of those books. I read it when I was about 12, and I’m not really sure why I still think it’s sort of funny. It’s almost not even a joke.

“A Swede shot an arrow to the sky. He missed”.

Anyway, Finns like to tell jokes about Swedes, and often it’s the Swedish man who’s the butt of the joke. In the jokes, the Swedish men are slow, thick, and often, if not homosexual, then at least soft and feminine. They discuss things.

www.twitter.com/sweden

» Continued

Jan 20, '12 : Keep it real

Filed under: Based on true events

[Professor Hood’s] researchers convince the pre-school-age subjects that their special item will be put into a machine that can produce a copy of the object which is identical in every way. The infants, who are offered the choice of having the original or the "perfect" copy returned to them, strongly prefer the original.BBC, 2004
Every once in a while, when I’m writing longer pieces, my fingers seem to swell, and I take off my wedding ring. It’s something of a pause to collect my thoughts as well, and a minute or so later, I slip the ring back on because I’m worried that I might lose it.

Before Wife and I got engaged, we were fake engaged for a while. Or, I know that I was. We’d only been together for about a year when we moved in together. She had sold her apartment wanted us to take a really nice, long trip somewhere with the money she had made so we took a trip to Mexico. For a week, we traveled around the Yucatan peninsula in an air-conditioned bus with an active group of mostly retired people.

Been there.

» Continued

Nov 22, '11 : Thought for food

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m a simple man, with simple needs and simple pleasures. Like food. I like food, but because I’m a simple man, I don’t need a gourmet dinner to be happy. After all, I grew up on Finnish lihapiirakka, a deep-fried pie with ground meat and rice inside. (Add ketchup and mustard).

When our family moved from Helsinki to Joensuu, a rural university town in Eastern Finland, one of my biggest fears was that there wouldn’t be a good burger joint in Joensuu. It may sound weird now, but back then, there were no McDonald’s restaurants in Helsinki, and there was just one “real American” burger place in town.

It was a Carrols. And we went there on Sundays.

Mmmm...!

» Continued

Oct 30, '11 : Human race

Filed under: Based on true events

I was exactly where I wanted to be. I repeat: exactly where I wanted to be. I wasn't in front of everybody because if you’re in front, it’s easy to start looking back. When there’s nowhere to focus on in front of you, you tend to take off too fast, and use too much energy in the beginning.

Some people prefer to run in the middle of the pack, because they feel the power of the crowd carrying them on, and I suppose they feel safe in the middle, when the masses begin to stampede.

I don’t.

This is easy. Try doing it carrying duty-free shopping with you.

» Continued

Sep 01, '11 : Because we cam, cam, cam

Filed under: Based on true events

I might as well start by confessing that I’m one of those people who, back in 2000, walked around saying that having a camera in a mobile phone was idiotic.

Today, I’m one of the idiots that make the rest of the family wait for me, while I take a snap shot of a beautiful building – or a pile of dog poop that I think looks like Darth Vader.

And I love it.

This is NOT how you were supposed to hold the camera.

» Continued

Aug 05, '11 : Two amigos

Filed under: Based on true events

Sometimes life really imitates art. My life real art. The other day, visiting Dad, Son and I walked to the car to get his flashlight, so that he could sleep in a little playhouse in the backyard. On our way back, I thought it’d be smarter to walk around the house and go straight to the backyard through the back door.

YOU! GUYS!

» Continued

Jun 26, '11 : Secret admirer

Filed under: Based on true events

I didn’t even notice the first note myself. My buddy did. We were running late to our next class so I just shoved my jacket into my locker and grabbed my biology book, then locked my locker, when he picked it up from the floor.

“Hey, you dropped this,” he said, and handed me a piece of paper that had been carefully folded over a couple of times, just enough to conceal its message, but keeping it thin enough to fit through the small opening under the locker door.

Front and center.

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

It’s been such a long time since I went to school - any school - that I don’t even get the urge to go back to school anymore. I always liked school, almost as much as Son who burst into tears the other day when Grandma tried to high-five him, saying, “no school tomorrow!”

I liked school, I liked most of my teachers, and I’d like to think that I learned something during all those years. Well, I know I learned a lot but I also know that I’ve probably forgot most of it. It’s like going back to the gym after a break. I always put the same weights as always, “because I could benchpress that much last time.”

Many, many newtons

» Continued

Jun 15, '11 : Color me suspicious

Filed under: Based on true events

Vincent: Yeah, baby, you'd dig it the most. But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It's the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it's just... it's just there it's a little different.

– Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction
Last night, as we were driving home from Legoland in Denmark, Daughter started to draft a list of all the countries she’s visited in her five-year long life.

“Finland, right? Italy … Sweden … Norway … the US, what else?” she yelled from the back seat.

We are red. We are white. We are Danish dynamite.

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

In the winter of 1998, Sweden was all abuzz about a movie about two young girls trying to deal with life, and growing up, in a small Western Sweden town called Åmål.
Two teenage girls in small-town Sweden. Elin is beautiful, popular, and bored with life. Agnes is friendless, sad, and secretly in love with Elin. Åmål is a small insignificant town where nothing ever happens, where the latest trends are out of date when they get there.
Everybody saw the movie, everybody (said he) loved it, so in the spring of 1999, the writer-director Lukas Moodysson got on stage at the Swedish Film Awards to collect his loot: Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actress awards for the two young ladies who played Elin and Agnes.

Zlatana sounds like a female name to me.

» Continued

May 26, '11 : Tickling of the clock

Filed under: Based on true events

There was a time when I thought I had actual superpowers. Not for long, but just a fleeting moment, I did think I could see through things. I wasn’t even ten years old, and had just recently been introduced to the world of superheroes, thanks to a Batman/Superman combo comic book I had read.

It's time.

» Continued

May 24, '11 : Driving Mr Isaksson

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Stockholm, and some three meters from me, right in front of me, there’s Patrik Isaksson, a Swedish pop star. Whenever I see him on TV, or hear any of the songs on his first album, I think of the winter of 1999 when I often drove down to my apartment late, late at night, listening to his songs, singing along, practicing my Swedish, and finding hidden messages in his songs.

Born to run.

» Continued

May 08, '11 : The show must go on

Filed under: Based on true events

It was a must-win game. A must. Winning was the only option, because a loss would end the tournament for the home team. In fact, losing would also bring the humiliation of having to come back and play another, meaningless, game.

"For the fans."

The house was packed, people were wearing their flag not only on their sleeves, but also on their foreheads, bellies, cheeks, their pants, their skirts, and their hats. The team was full of homegrown Slovak stars who had returned to Bratislava to win, together.

People were hopeful but worried, confident but afraid, they were both optimists and pessimists at once, going from one end of the emotional range to the other as the puck moved from the end of the rink to the other. They screamed, they sang, they stomped their feet, they laughed – and, when they lost the game, they cried.

He did, too. He listened to the Finnish national anthem, then quickly wiped the tears from the corner of his eye, and walked away from the rink. The tournament may have been over for the home team, but it wasn't over for him.

He disappeared into a small room, then re-appeared with a hose in his hand. Carefully, he walked onto the ice. He still had a job to do.

The show must go on.

Ain't no use in complaining when you got a job to do


Apr 15, '11 : The cult of personality

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m on Twitter. I tweet a few times a day, posting links and very, very short stories. Most of the links take you to my stories, either here, or to some other site that has published my writing. The short, short stories are all mine, as are the fake news I sometimes post.

I created my first Twitter account on May 1, 2007, so I’ve been tweeting almost four years now. I got on Twitter, because at the time, I wrote about the Web and technology for Scanorama, and thought I’d have to know what was going on.

At 10:22 that night, I told the world … this:
just spilled a cup of coffee
I think my second one was along the same lines. What can I say, I spill a lot of coffee. A few tweets later, I started to look around, to see if I could find people to follow, but basically, I stopped tweeting for a few months. Nobody was following me, nobody was listening to me, so what was the point?

This is it.

» Continued

Apr 04, '11 : The usual

Filed under: Based on true events

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot
.
– Cheers theme song
All the cool guys in all the cool movies always have their regular hangout, and when they get in, all they have to say to the bartender is “the usual”, or maybe not even that. Maybe they just nod, and get what they want. Even Homer Simpson.

What to do?

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

Across the table from me, an aspiring alchemist is working on a potion. His formula includes four teabags, hand-washing dish detergent, and nails. The kind you hit with a hammer. The purpose of the potion is still unknown, but it’s also beside the point. He just wants to be a wizard – not unlike a certain Harry Potter, the latest of heroes in Son’s life. And if he was happy to think that Han Solo’s real name was Hannes, just like his, like I told him, he’s also delighted to be “HP”.

We are family.

» Continued

Feb 25, '11 : Driving Mr Risto

Filed under: Based on true events

I have a love-hate relationship with cab drivers. While behind the wheel myself, I find their driving mostly arrogant and obnoxious, yet sloppy and careless, and have recently started to add mock admiration – “Oh, sorry, you must be right since you’re the professional driver here” – to my litany of insults and honking when I try to put them in their place in traffic. Gently, but firmly.

That changes when I’m in the backseat myself. Now, I’m the kind of guy who knows exactly what Wife meant when she came back from a massage last week, glowing, and raving about the masseuse, who was “so good, and didn’t say a word.” I never chit chat with the masseur, either, and when I get my hair cut, once a year, or so, I try to fall asleep in the chair. (And succeed).

But I do like to speak with cab drivers.

Taxi!

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

Despite the fact that Wife and I shared an office space, and despite the fact that we were two of only about ten people in the office, we hardly exchanged a word during those first summer months. I would see her sit behind her desk, get up every once in a while to go for a cup of tea - tea is her cup of tea - and do whatever it was that she was doing.

Good luck! Not.

» Continued

Feb 13, '11 : Lovers, not fighters

Filed under: Based on true events

I’ve never been in a fight. Not once in my life. Not as a five-year-old, not as a rowdy teenager, not even as a hockey player. I’m a lover, not a fighter – at least if those two are the only alternatives.

I can imagine that a couple of times I’ve been closer than I realized. Especially that one time when I happened to spit a guy, on other other team, of course, on his visor during a hockey game. At least he said he’d wait for me outside after the game, and that he’d beat me up.

Well, I didn’t see anybody as I ran to my car in the dark.

The gun is just for show.

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m in the kitchen. I’m making a hot dog, I have bought the buns and the sausages just an hour ago. They’re the Swedish style, in which the bun is only about a third of the length of the dog so when you eat it, you invariably have to start by biting off the ends that hang outside the bun on both sides. And then I hear the horns of the song, and my feet begin to tap. Then comes Dean Martin’s rich voice, and my feet start to sweep the floor in front of the sink.

Baby, baby.

» Continued

Filed under: Based on true events

Guys,

I could barely get out of the bed this morning. That loss last night, that hurt.

So did my back, my groin, and my arms this morning. It’s never easy to get up after one of those late night games, but this time, after I rolled out of the bed, it took me fifteen minutes to get up from the floor. That’s what a loss after 50 intense minutes of shinny does to you. Or me.

Full speed ahead!

» Continued

Jan 11, '11 : How I got my R back

Filed under: Based on true events

As I write this, I also have three chat windows open on my screen. One, opened this morning, five hours ago, is a MSN window to Wife, who’s sitting at her office. Another one is a Skype window to a buddy in Vienna, Austria, and a Canadian friend just popped up in a Facebook chat window. With the exception of Wife, a chat window is often my preferred method of communication.

It’s nothing personal - naturally, since I am, indeed, chatting with some of my friends throughout the entire day - it’s just that this way we cover a lot of topics and yet, each one of us is free to do other things as well.

Zis is Rristo!

» Continued

Dec 29, '10 : There is an R in "heart"

Filed under: Based on true events

When I was a young university student, I often spent weekends at a farm some 40 kilometers north of Helsinki. That was where my grandparents lived, sharing a yard with my uncle, my mother’s brother who was a half-time farmer at the time.

I had made that same trek on weekends as a child, when my parents and I would drive up to see Grandma and Grandpa. The town was a 40-minute drive from Helsinki. Close to the action, but completely in the countryside. Claim to fame: a mental hospital.

Her clan.

» Continued

Nov 28, '10 : So this is Xmas

Filed under: Based on true events

On my desk, there’s an envelope addressed to Santa Claus, on its way to Korvatunturi, Finland. Inside, there’s a handwritten letter.

“Dear Santa,
I would be really happy if I got the following things. (NB: All items are Lego). “


The items are listed by category – Harry Potter, Prince of Persia, Toy Story, Power miners, Atlantis, Racers, Space Police, Star Wars, and “Other stuff” – with a product number next to them, neatly copied from a Lego catalogue.

On the bottom of the page, it says “turn”, on both sides of the letter, then signed by Son.

He's losing it!

» Continued

Oct 19, '10 : Free falling

Filed under: Based on true events

Seeing people fall down is funny. It is, admit it. They look so helpless, and out of control, and that’s hilarious. Sure, you don’t want them to dislocate their hips or break their shoulders, but that’s not what you’re thinking when you see a big dude run as fast as he can and then slip and fall into the swimming pool.

I didn’t used to be a slapstick kind of guy, but hearing Wife laugh at all the people falling in movies, and in America’s Funniest Home Videos - why AFV, and not AFHV? - has made me appreciate the genius of looking stupid.

The skating track here has nothing to do with the story, or the maniac pictured in the photo.

» Continued

Oct 18, '10 : Don’t stop. Be leaving

Filed under: Based on true events

The bus was parked on the church parking lot, and the kids were running around, throwing their bags into the storage under the bus, laughing and swapping stories about what they were going to do once they got out of their parents’ sights.

I sat in the window seat, biting my lip. And I cried.

See ya!

» Continued

Oct 12, '10 : Raging bull

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m not very good with conflicts. Never have been. It doesn’t matter which side of the argument I’m on, or whether I think I’m right or wrong, I feel almost physically ill when I’m stewing in conflict soup.

My personal problem is, though, that my brain is almost too quick to cook up pretty good oneliners to strip my adversary. Even worse, my mouth is just as fast to spit them out.

Hulk is more of a man of action.

» Continued

Sep 28, '10 : Sunday tradition

Filed under: Based on true events

A few years ago, it may even be a full decade ago, time goes so fast that I can’t really be sure just off the top of my head like this, so I’ll just say that it wasn’t “recently” which is a word Wife uses often to describe any event she can remember, it seems, most often when she talks about movies that she’s seen even if I it’s been, say, three years, or so, although in this case, I’m not even trying to say it was recently, and now that I think about it, it must have been a good ten years ago because Sister-in-Law was probably single and since Wife and I celebrate - every day, mind you - now eleven years together, I was in the picture ten years ago, too, when, and I am slowly getting to the point here, she, Sister-in-Law, had this Sunday tradition of having brunch, or afternoon tea, I can’t be sure, with this one special fellow.

The coffee cups in the photo mayor may not be from the coffee shop mentioned in the story.

» Continued

Sep 20, '10 : Take five

Filed under: Based on true events

Ever since I was five, Dad and I have been going to sports events together, mostly hockey and soccer games.

My earliest memories: the smell of the arena, a young boy selling popcorn by yelling “pooooooooooooop cooooooooooorneeeeeeeeeeee”, goalies looking weird, wooden benches, ads being projected onto the ice during intermissions, a huge cloud of cigarette smoke hovering close to the ceiling that was supported by thick cables, and a friend of Dad’s buying, and eating, ten sausages.

Ten.

The line to nakki heaven

» Continued

Sep 06, '10 : Ding dang

Filed under: Based on true events

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of old Finnish pop in the car. So much so that the other day, I heard Son and Daughter sing one 1975 song in their rooms. This song, to be exact. And I can’t say I don’t like it, because I do. I remember exactly how funny I thought that song was myself, back in, well, 1975, when I was the same age Son is now.

Miserable blundering barbecued blister!

» Continued

Aug 16, '10 : Easy riders

Filed under: Based on true events

”The bike sure is a great invention. It may just be the best of them all.”
– Son, riding his bike
Wife and I have a fairly long list of movie quotes that we use in our everyday conversations. When she shows me an ad for wonderful cruises in the Caribbean, I reply in a dreamy voice, “Someday, Jennifer, someday” just like Marty McFly told his girlfriend in "Back to the Future".

Daughter loves her bike, too.

» Continued

Aug 07, '10 : Present not present

Filed under: Based on true events

In Finland, each day is associated with a name, a custom that's apparently a leftover from the Catholic and Orthodox calendar of saints, when people celebrated each saint's feast day.

Today, August 7, is the name day of Lahja, Finnish for “present” or “gift”, a name that is mostly a female name, especially these days. According to the statistics by the Population Register Center of Finland, no baby boy has been named Lahja since the 1960s – and only a little over 500 baby girls, of the total of over 12,000 people.

My paternal grandfather was one of 97 Lahjas born in Finland in the very late 19th century.

Grandma Hanna, me, and Grandpa Lahja.

» Continued

Jul 29, '10 : It's amusing

Filed under: Based on true events

Frankly, amusement parks don’t give me much amusement. I can see all the happy people running around, sprinting back to the end of the line to ride the same rides over and over again, but like Steve Butabi told his brother Doug in “A Night at the Roxbury”:
I can't taste it, Doug! I can't! I'm so scared right now I don't know what to do!
Of course, I never say that out loud. That’s just something I tell myself when I’m leaning against a wall somewhere, guarding everybody’s bags, clothes, cameras, while updating my Facebook status, looking as cool as I possibly can.

The author, cool as a cucumber, far right in the photo.

» Continued

Jul 18, '10 : Yes, I'm from Finland

Filed under: Based on true events

“What an honor that the amazing Markoolio was born in my fatherland
– Son, July 15, jumping up in joy
You can take the boy out of Finland, but you can’t take Finland out of the boy. Even if the boy sometimes does everything to keep Finland deep, deep, deep down in the dungeons of his soul. All you have to do is trash talk Finland - or tell the boy everything you know about the country - and the boy will come to the country’s rescue, or answer in mono-syllable sentences.

Unless you’re a Finn, of course, in which case the boy will join you in trash talking Finland.

Trams.

» Continued

Jul 06, '10 : Mr. Know-it-all

Filed under: Based on true events

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

– Wonderful World, Sam Cooke
Yes, I do know that I love her - and since it looks like a wonderful world to me, she must love me, too – but still, I can’t get over the fact that I really don’t seem to know anything.

Well, I have no problem with that, it’s been a slow but steady process since the day I laughed when our high school biology teacher told everybody in the class that we’d be at our smartest when we graduate.

"Teach, pick me, pick me, I know!"

» Continued

Jun 02, '10 : Hello, neighbor

Filed under: Based on true events

I guess that just like we all like to think of ourselves as great drivers - or at least better than average - we all probably think we’re the ultimate neighbors. Because - realistically - who wouldn’t want to live next to me, right?

Hello, neighbor

» Continued

May 28, '10 : Now you see me...

Filed under: Based on true events

Of all the superpowers, invisibility is my favorite. I used to love the 1970s show, The Invisible Man. There’s a Finnish children’s book I adored in which the protagonist eats some invisibility powder and walks through walls. I was a fan of another 1970s show the name of which escapes me, but in which the star, named “nobody”, would tug on his scarf, and turn invisible.

Now you don't see him.

» Continued