Miss List

December 9, 2009

A Few Things I'll Miss About Finland...

Cobblestone streets
Spiral staircases
The Chinese Burger man
Bike roads
BMWs doing donuts in the snow
Beautiful dogs everywhere
My Bible study
Finnish pizza
Red squirrels
Amazing water
Sliding down the street on ice
Finnish worship
Perfect heating
Tiny cars
The woods
Produce section of grocery store
Saunas everywhere
The language
Giant hares
Still air
Shy people
The best milk in the world
The man who smokes salmon outside of Tokmanni
No bugs
Small trees


Slowly Breaking

December 6, 2009

            Today was the day I was supposed to go on my ski trip. Yes, I said supposed to go. I woke up around 6am feeling quite sick. If you know me at all, you know I will do anything to keep myself from tossing my cookies. I went to our kitchen and opened the door to outside. I stood in the -7ºC and snow until my nausea would pass. Then when I would come inside, it would return. So I would go back out. Finally after about ten minutes of this, I inched my way inside and took a sip of some Coke. I stood in the doorway a bit longer before I began to shiver a bit. I walked back to my room unsure of what to do. If I wanted to go skiing I had about 20 minutes to make it to the where the vans were picking us up and the walk alone takes 10 minutes. I had most of my stuff packed already, but it would be a challenge to carry my skis and everything. As I sat, shaking in my bed, I decided I shouldn’t push my body. I was deeply saddened about this decision. I was really looking forward to hanging out with all of my Architecture friends who I’ve felt I have neglected way too much. I texted Brittany and Carmen letting them know how I was feeling and that I wasn’t coming. Apparently they resented the fact I haven’t hung out with them much also because I only got a reply a few hours later from Carmen asking me why I choose to never join them in anything. I felt, today, like I have failed my relationships in Finland.
            I have been pushing my body to its limits lately. With sleep, food, weather… etc. Still, some days I will stay awake all night. Sleep a few hours here, a few there. I haven’t had much of an appetite at all lately, and forcing myself to eat is a most frustrating and uncomfortable regimen. Seeing time flying by, I’ve been out in the snow for hours and hours. I guess my body has had enough.
Today, I rested. While my body is beginning to feel better, my heart is becoming worse. The closer I get to coming home, the more I fear it. Now it’s the little things that are affecting me, like this ski trip, for instance. It’s not a huge deal, but a bigger deal because I am trying to squeeze everything in that I can and have wanted to do here. I guess these are always the times when you look back and see what you would have done different or would have liked to have done. I think I just have a hard time accepting those things. I feel pressure to fix them. Pressure from myself. 


These Are the Last Days

December 2, 2009

            Well, I did it. I somehow cranked out a ton of work in record timing and had my final critique today. I sliced my hand open while washing a glass the other day… right in the middle of crunch time with no BandAid. It didn’t really hurt too badly, I just didn’t want to get blood on my drawings or computer… haha! Clumsy disease strikes again.

I don’t feel quite as relaxed as I thought I would. Now I am thinking of all the things I need and want to do before I leave. I’m a pretty lucky girl. We have a ski trip coming up this weekend that I need to be getting some stuff ready for and I remembered seeing a pair of skis in our “junk room”. I went and tried the boots on. Just my size! Then I came and Googled ski sizing charts and measured the skis (should stand in between your chin and the top of your head) and they come right to my nose! Perfect! One of the ski poles is a little broken on the top of the handle, but nothing major.
With free skis, I should save a ton of money. Now I need to be working on getting food, gear, and packing all the things that Leena said we need to bring.
            It’s hard to believe I am returning to America so soon. I felt like time was creeping by for such a long time and now it’s slipping out from my hands. There’s so much that I want to do and so little time. It’s a strange feeling that’s come over me lately… I don’t really want to leave. I am excited about all the faces I will get to see when I come back. But also, a bit worried at the same time. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy the air, the bright full moon, and the culture. See you soon enough, America.


Sweet Serenity

November 27, 2009

            I watched my mom board the bus to the airport about three hours ago. It was such a nice visit. I was really glad that she got to come to Finland and have an experience of her own. It made me feel good to be able to be a part of that. We did some traveling. We stayed within Finland and went to Rovaniemi in Lapland and Ranua to the zoo. It was so beautiful up north. There was so much snow… I’ve never seen that much snow in my life. I always use so many words. I feel less like talking today. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

            On the way to the bus stop this morning, I looked over at my building from afar and I couldn’t see my bike parked in front. I kept walking and starting thinking in my head of where I may have misplaced my bike or parked it somewhere else and forgotten. I hoped this was the case. On my way back, I went and looked and my bike wasn’t where I had parked it the day before. I explicitly remember parking it there in the snow and going inside to wake my mom up the day before. Just to be sure, I walked around the other two sides of the building and checked the other places I sometimes park it. I found nothing. I was put out and felt pretty helpless. It made me more sad than anything. I wanted to be able to ride my bike around these last weeks in Finland. I wanted to be able to explore more and take long, peaceful rides. My bike gave me the independence I crave so much. And now, she’s gone. I was pretty angry at Finland at first. I didn’t know what else to be angry at. But, I realized that being angry isn’t going to bring my bike back or really make me feel any better. I pray that it shows back up. I wouldn’t be mad at all if I walked out one day and she was sitting there. The bike kind of meant more to me than just a ride. It was much more.

I’ve begun thinking about how I’m leaving soon and I’m afraid I’m really going to miss things about this place. This has become home to me. It may be dysfunctional, hard to understand, and inconvenient at times… but it’s home. I think what I’ll miss the most is the quiet. I don’t just mean the lack of city “hustle and bustle” or the fact that I never hear sirens or that the woods are so still and tranquil. The people are quiet and I love that. I never feel like people are invading my space (unless you happen upon an intoxicated Finn) and when I want to be left alone, I am. I’m going to miss the quiet mumbling of Finnish words with extreme pronunciations that are unmistakable even at their barely audible volumes. It’s so easy to drown out the world here. It’s easy to be… quiet.


Depth in Disguise

November 20, 2009

            I just got back from seeing the movie New Moon. I really hate to add to the frenzy or to be viewed as whimsical and stupid for liking the things I do. I first watched Twilight with a reluctant attitude some weeks ago online when I was bored. All the hype and obsession had me going into it with a pretty closed mind (as I also did with The Notebook and other hyped up, sensitive “chick flicks”). Well, after watching Twilight and thinking that it wasn’t half bad and was actually good, I decided I would go see New Moon and that it would be worth a fun movie experience in Finland.
            I fell in love with Finnish movie theaters. We walked in and went to the counter to buy our tickets. You get to choose your seats right there on a computer screen. This is quite comforting knowing we would have two seats in a specific area waiting for us when we walked in (also good so you don’t have to peek for open spots in the dark). We got some candy, popcorn, and drinks and got in the elevator to go up to our theater. We walked in just as the previews had ended. Found row 10, and there our seats waited for us with an empty seat beside me. PERFECT. The theater was humongous… like nothing I’d seen before. We guessed a thousand people were in there! Perhaps an over-exaggeration on our part J. The seats don’t fold up like they do in theaters at home. There was plenty of space and comfy legroom and everything. Don’t get me started on the gargantuan screen. For a moment I thought I was in IMAX (another exaggeration).
            Now to what I was really talking about… I LOVED the movie. I thought it was way better than Twilight. And it annoys me that I feel like I can’t love it vocally because I’ll be put in a category with these crazy quixotic girls. Frankly, I’m not afraid to like movies with talking lions, wizards and magic, or vampires. I don’t think my maturity level is so advanced that these things are “silly” or “satanic” even. Maybe if the message was geared that way, I would have those opinions. But I know I spoke earlier about the message I feel is conveyed in Harry Potter. Quite a fabulous message if you ask me! Loyalty, love, friendship. Just because the author used a more fictional approach doesn’t mean I’m going to discard it for rubbish. And C.S. Lewis… I know you’ve heard my opinions on him! So why would I stick my nose up at his more fictional writing which still rings of the truth he speaks about in his more “realistic” works? Brilliance is brilliance. And a message is a message. Maybe some people have the unfortunate disability of only being able to see such substances as nonsense. I feel sorry that they miss out on what wonderful things “nonsense” can bring. I honestly feel that I relate my own life and feelings better to these stories of “nonsense” far better than the ones trying to be compliant with reality. But, we all know that as long as movies are made which break the limited imaginations of black-and-white humans (what I like to call them), there will be opposition and negative feedback. Don’t think I’m saying you must love Harry Potter or the Twilight series to have any sense at all. I do think matters of taste and personal situations and emotions still guide our acceptance and love of entertainment like this. So if it doesn’t stir up anything for you or tastes bad in your mouth, by all means spit it out. But don’t make your neighbor feel ashamed when they take a bite and can’t get enough.

Metaphors. I love them.
…perhaps that’s why I’m so darn "fanciful"…


"Literal" Genius

November 14, 2009

            I just spent a few hours with my nose deep in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis again. I always get a whirlwind of strong emotions when I read his work. One part of me becomes so excited and desperately wants other people to read it too and see what I see. Then another part of me is sort of discouraged, wishing I was able to sort my thoughts just the way he does and communicate things clearly and in just the right order. Still, another part of me is challenged and inspired with a desire to search deeper, learn more, and understand more. The simple lies people say to diminish Christianity and its worth have holes all the way through them and I’m tired of not challenging them.
            Sometimes it takes a book to get me out of the world I think I’m in and into the world I actually am in. They often help with the reverse effect as well.
            Words remind me of architecture. It takes a specific design, a sort of “city planning”, to put them in just the right order for the right effect of power and meaning. You can say all the right things, but in the wrong places, they are maddeningly unhelpful. A city with all the greatest places you could ever want to go, but no direction of how you get from one place to the next also becomes quite useless. Unfortunately, I personally think I focus so much on one particular space at a time that I forget about the connections and in afterthought, they become difficult to link. Less purposeful anyhow. That little gift has also been transferred to my language skills. I really have to work at thinking about how to plan out what I say, so I tend to just not do it. I jump in and rely on my spontaneity and hope that things make sense and come out clearly. And if I am confusing, I hope that people just see it as a quirky sort of circumstance of a vivacious personality spinning out of control. That would only be the optimist’s perception of me. We all find more pleasure in well-designed spaces that are so easy to navigate, you don’t even have to think. And I think words can truly ring beautiful when the context has been so carefully chosen, it is unmistakable. But for me, I want so badly to be able to say things that cause constant epiphanies in peoples’ heads and I have such a sense of personal inadequacy about being able to actually do that, that I just keep quiet instead. How quickly I forget that the message I so desire to communicate is not dependant on my literary or verbal abilities at all. Still, I can’t help but want to improve them.
            And so, today, I took a break from arranging and designing spaces and decided to focus a bit on an overlooked art that I appreciate. Writing. It’s just a shame that I’ll end up being critiqued and graded on the first more than the second.

…a sneak peak at my latest, very “still in progress” project…


Time's Running Out

November 11, 2009

            I’ve really been slacking on this whole blogging thing lately. It’s time I came out of my rut. Honestly, there hasn’t been much to say about the last… 2 weeks. Wow, time flies when you’re living in the Tundra. Every day I tell myself I am going to go to bed at a decent hour and wake up early and be productive. I’m sorry to say I’ve been failing myself all too consistently. I hope to really reverse these habits in the next couple days.
            I just got back from Bible study. It was gorgeous outside. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground; just enough to create a nice white cover over everything. The air was very dry and chilly. Chilly really isn’t the appropriate word… it’s 19ºF out there. You can tell it was cold because the snow was sparkling like glitter. It was a frosty frozen powdery stuff that felt similar to crunching on glass when I walked over it. It was a truly beautiful bike ride tonight. It was like being inside one of those sparkly snow globes. It’s supposed to snow again tonight and tomorrow and then every day next week. I’m ready for a foot of snow. I need to get some vanilla so that I can make snow cream also.
            I go on a field trip this Friday the 13th to Vaasa and Seinäjoki. I will leave early in the morning and not get back until late at night. I hope it is a fun excursion and not too cold! I will be honest, I am a bit nervous because I know that two of the vans will be driven by Kerstin and Gorka. Kerstin is from Germany and Gorka is from Spain… I don’t think they have much experience with driving in snow, or driving in Finland, or really driving in general. I hope it all goes smoothly though. We best have our winter tires for this excursion.
            More importantly, my mom is coming to visit around the 21st or 22nd of November and I am so excited to show her around and travel with her. I just hope we get to do a lot of fun things and that she really enjoys herself. After her visit, I will only have about two weeks left here. YIKES! Where has the time gone? I sure hope I get my project done in time since my final critique is December 3rd. Then I have a ski trip with the architecture students before I come home on December 10th. Putting it into perspective like that kind of stresses me out. No more lazy days and movies for me. Time for business.