Door 10: Music

There’s a guitar in the corner of my office, but I can’t play it. I can pretend to play a few songs but I’m the only one who knows which songs I’m playing. On the bookshelf, resting on a Hockey Hall of Fame book that I wrote a chapter for, there’s my recorder from seventh grade. I can play one song on it, the one I had to learn for the test then. The song is “Papa Pingouin”, “Papa Penguin”, Luxembourg’s entry in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, and thanks to the obscure nature of the song, I am still the only one who knows the song I’m playing.

But I love listening to music and as far as I’m concerned, the most peaceful thing to do in life is to lie on the floor and listen to music with headphones on. It’s not because I like to do it – although I think I do – or that I do it often – I never do it – but because it always looked as such a cool and peaceful thing to do when Dad did it.

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Door 7: Dreams

If there was a way to go back in time, would
you do it, and would you
put your best foot forward and change
your past – and your future?
Mind you, it’s difficult, if not impossible
to know the full effect of your action.
It could turn your life into a nightmare,
you just never can tell. But,
can you, looking at it from another perspective,
accomplish your dreams in another way? Do something.

This is the From The Desk of Risto Pakarinen 2017 advent calendar. Behind every door, you’ll find something related to the 1980s.

Door 6: Finland

A long time ago, yes, back in the 1980s, somebody told me that I was one of those people who wouldn’t live in Finland for the rest of his life. I don’t remember how we got to that topic, but I think it came totally out of the blue. The fact that I still remember it tells you how surprised I was to hear someone say something like that.

Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised, in case you’re wondering.In Finland – like many other, especially small countries – making it out of there is a small sign of success.

I’m not sure of that’s what my friend meant and I don’t remember us having a big debate on what it meant to be Finnish, or whether I’d leave the country voluntarily or not.

We probably just went back to talking about Springsteen or the latest James Bond movie, or something similar.

Turned out that my friend was right. I didn’t live in Finland for the rest of my life. I got a job in Sweden and moved to Stockholm.

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Door 5: Debates

Every year around this time, the Internet is all atwitter about one question: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

(Obviously, this is not a decades long tradition because Die Hard came out in 1988 and the World Wide Web a few years later…)

And while you may think it’s a straightforward thing, a hard yes or a hard no, it’s not. Why would it be?

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Door 4: Campfire stories

These days, news travel fast. We still get the morning paper, and we read it at the breakfast table every morning, always sharing the different sections the same way: News and Culture to Wife, Sports and Stockholm News to me, and if we see anything we think might interest Son and Daughter – who read comics – we’ll give the article to them.

Often when Wife tells me about something she read, both Son and I will have already heard it. Now, my excuse is that I’m a freelance writer so I tend to spend too much time reading my RSS feeds and scrolling down my social media timelines. Son? Well, he’s a teenager.

News hasn’t always traveled that fast. Back in the 1980s, of course, you couldn’t find a video stream, legal or illegal, to any sports event online and even the TV sports news had to use still photos from boxing matches in America.

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Door 3: Buddies

During my university years, my student apartment in Helsinki was an old hotel room converted into a student apartment which gives you a good idea of what it was like but in short: it was tiny.

I didn’t need much, though, just my vinyls and an ever growing collection of CDs that provided me with the most of the soundtrack of my life. Also, I had Sky Channel and its music shows so there was always music playing in the background from the moment I got up and grabbed the remote to the moment when it fell on the floor from my hand.

And yet, when I think back to those days, I think of just two songs.

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Door 2: Rusty cans

In 1986, I spent six weeks of varying gloriousness in Harbor Beach, Michigan, on a summer exchange program. It was a memorable summer in many ways but one of the highlights was that I got to taste New Coke. They were exciting times because not only was there Classic Coke and New Coke, there was also Cherry Coke and Diet Coke, which had been introduced to the Finnish market two years earlier as Coca-Cola Light.

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