Just another magical day

While it may seem that we, up here in the northern-most part of the northern hemisphere, spend most of our days between November and March in a haze in which every day is like the one before and that we only come alive when we finally see the sun again, with a little effort, you can see tiny miracles almost every day. 

Today was one of those days. 

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Let’s go to the tape

For a couple of years now, regardless of sport, Daughter and I have played Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” album in the car on our way to one of her games. When we play it during the trip isn’t set in stone, but we do always play it, and we do always play it from the top, starting with “Eraser”. 

And we talk about this and that, but most often we simply sing along all the way to the arena, and get our minds in the right frame of mind. Hers into playing her best game, and mine, getting ready to show those hotdogs who’s boss. 

Does it work?

Of course it does. Those hotdogs don’t stand a chance.

As for Daughter, it’s a nice little routine that makes her feel like a player, and gets her in a game frame of mind. 

Also, it’s nice. 


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A Christmas story (with a cactus)

I could hear them calling for me but I wasn’t ready to come out yet. I was deep underground, in a cave where I was sure an ancient Inca treasure was buried. Or, maybe it was a treasure chest left there by Blackbeard, an infamous pirate, like my friend Ari said. 

Fine, I wasn’t technically underground, because the cave Ari and I had built was made out of snow and the pile of snow was most definitely above ground. 

I guess it’s needless to say that there was no real Inca treasure, either, but I’ll just say it anyway so that there aren’t any misunderstandings: there was no Inca treasure. There was no pirates’ treasure, either. It was all in our our nine-year-old heads.

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Heaven on a highway

Yes, I was giddy. I knew the radio would be on as soon as I started the car, and I couldn’t wait for Daughter to hear what was on. 


Granted, it wasn’t radio per se, it was a podcast, but I knew my phone would connect to the car stereo first so I started the engine and pulled out of the parking spot, my right eye on Daughter so I could see the look on her face when she heard my voice. 

It went from delight to disappointment to concealed disappointment to fake cheeriness to neutral to serious as she listened to me talk about my book. 

“Well…?” I said. 

“You know,” Daughter began, “you know how your voice always sounds a little off on a recording?”

“You mean mine or everyone’s?”

“Everyone’s. Mine, too”

“Yeah. Do you know why?”


“Well, good. Me, too.”

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Here’s looking at you, kid

Most of us associate selfies with the advent of mobile phones. The truth is, they go a long way back.

Last May, Team Sweden (and the New York Rangers) superstar goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was sitting in a press box at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, watching his teammates play an exhibition game against Russia, when suddenly a group of small boys caught a glimpse of their idol.

The group got closer, slowly but surely, and then one of the boys mustered up enough courage to walk up to the box and talk to Lundqvist.

“Hi, Henke, what’s up? Why aren’t you playing? Where’s your brother?”

Lundqvist had almost gotten to the end of his reply when the boy went on.

“Can I take a picture?”

“Sure,” Lundqvist said.

The boy turned his back on his idol,

raised his arm and aimed his camera so that they were both in the frame, and snapped a photo. In front of him, a line was beginning to form, and they all did the same – greeted Lundqvist, turned their back on him and snapped a photo. The last boy in the line also wanted his little brother to get a photo and instead of taking a photo of his brother, he lifted him up so that he could take the photo of him and Lundqvist himself.

A selfie, that is.

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Five questions

Scandinavian Traveler, September 2019 (pdf)

Risto Pakarinen about his book Someday Jennifer

What’s your new book about?

Someday Jennifer is the story of a man in a mid-life crisis who, having watched Back to the Future at the end of a drunken night, decides to solve his problems by traveling back to the good old 1980s, when everything was all right. Going back in time, he knows things worked out OK. Also – and this is important – back in the 1980s, he had Jennifer in his life. But, since he’s not crazy, he knows he can’t build a time machine. He simply re-creates the world around him in the 1980s style by wearing old clothes, listening to all those great tunes and watching movie classics such as Trading Places and Ghostbusters while moving back in with his parents.

It’s a feel-good book for sure, because I wanted to read a book that gave me hope and didn’t deal with the horrors of life. I promise that you’ll smile while reading Someday Jennifer.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

It’s sort of funny that I have been a freelance writer for 15 years because I never planned it that way. I have a business degree from Helsinki Business School and I originally wanted to be either in advertising or a hockey agent. Then I moved to Stockholm to work with custom publishing and was asked to write. My pieces got longer, and I became a writer. I even managed to combine hockey with my work, and I’ve covered World Championships and Olympics, and big games in Europe and the NHL since 2003.
When I got the idea for this book, I decided to give writing a novel a serious shot. And here we are – Someday Jennifer came out in English in August, while Swedish and Finnish editions will be published by HarperCollins in September. A German edition will be published next summer.

How did you come to write this book? What inspired it? ‘

Well, it wasn’t a huge leap for me to get into the shoes of a middle-aged man in a mid-life crisis. I also love Back to the Future and remember vividly the first time I saw the movie. And don’t we all sometimes wonder what might have happened had we taken door number two? One night a couple of years ago, I was walking home from the gym, listening to my 1980s playlist, when Peter, the main character, popped into my head and told me he’d figured out a way to become a time traveler. The book is set in Finland, so I’d already done most of my research by living through the 80s.

Is there a next book in the works?

There’s always a book in the works, but it did take me a while to get completely out of this book’s fictional world and back to creating a new one. I do hear new voices in my head now, and they seem to belong to a gang of interesting and funny people that I want to write about. But that part of writing a book is easy. It’s the sitting down and actually writing one that makes it feel like work.

And if you had a time machine, where would you go?

I’d go to 7 July, 1978 and walk right into the Roxy in LA and catch a Bruce Springsteen show. Fortunately for all of us, we can travel to 2020 and see him in Asbury Park, NJ.

by Risto Pakarinen
A feel-good novel about a man who wants to travel back to the 1980s, but since he can’t actually time-travel, he simply fills his world with things from the 80s to get the same effect.

You do you

One recent Thursday, I hurried across the street in Kallio in downtown Helsinki. Unlike thirty years earlier when I rushed across the street in the morning to get breakfast, this time I walked in the opposite direction. 

My old apartment building was still there, as was the downstairs pub, but the store that I used to run to is all gone, and many of the other stores have become coffee shops and restaurants. 

Around the corner, where there used to be nothing as far as I was concerned, there is now a small movie theatre called Riviera. That’s where I was headed. 

It was the Helsinki media day of my book launch.

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On ZX Spectrum

My first contact with a computer was a printout of Snoopy made out of x’s and o’s and ampersands. I don’t remember where it was, and not what the computer looked like – although in my head I saw it during one of our field trips during my two weeks with the scouts and it was one of those room-sized mainframes but both claims are just as likely to be fake memories I created as I typed this – but I can see that Snoopy as clearly as if I was holding the two-tone continuous form paper in my hand right now. 

To me, it was the work of genius. Looking at it up close, it was just a mess of characters, but once you took two steps back, there was Snoopy dancing! Snoopy!

If that’s what computers could do, count me in! However, it took me a couple of years to get my hands on one. 

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On nostalgia

When Son wants to make fun of me, he pretends to be writing a blog post as me. The punchline? They all begin with “When I was a kid.” I always laugh, because I know he must be kidding. Not ALL my posts begin like that. 

When I was a kid, I often sat in a rocking chair in my grandparents’ house. It was best seat in the house. It was in the corner of the kitchen so you could see and hear everything. I also sat right next to a cupboard should you need a hiding place, and it was next to a daily calendar and sometimes I got to tear off a page. Right next to ie, there was a photo of an even smaller me which made me feel very special. 

There I sat, listening to my grandmother walk around the kitchen, singing quietly or talking to herself while wiping the table, carrying things from one place to another, or cooking dinner.

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