Sunday, July 31, 2011

Misery And It's Company

I think we all know at least one pair. The ones who always seem to think the weather is too hot or too cold. The economy is really bad or it's so good it's only a matter of time it all collapses and we're all bankrupt. Their work is horrible but nothing compared to what their other half has to go through on a daily basis at work. You know who I'm talking about; Mr and Mrs Miserable.

There's a girl I know, I say girl, she is slightly older than me and calling her a girl makes me a girl as well by default. You can count on her to dig out the negative on everything. A mutual friend had a healthy, happy baby girl after four years of trying and failing to get pregnant. Miss Miserable whispered to me as we're stood outside her hospital room to go in and see the new arrival "I bet her boobs have gone all droopy already". Miss Miserable's brother was in a car accident and broke his leg. While everyone else was delighted he was still in one piece, Miss Miserable piped up to announce that the hospital had probably fucked something up when setting his leg again and that he probably would never walk right again. On a beautiful, sunny summer's day you can count on her to remind you that you will probably get melanoma. It is as if she's decided to be miserable.

She found her match a couple of years back in the shape of Mr Miserable. You can tell he's miserable just by looking at him. He's face may as well have "MISERY" stamped all over it, and in a only-slightly-less-than-literal sense, it is stamped all over it. The pair of them, were they in cartoon form, would have a dark cloud hanging over them, following them where ever they might go, spreading their misery. But it does seemingly prove the old saying according to which misery does love company. Miserable company, that is, because for the life of me, I cannot imagine how anyone not sharing their bleak view in life could stay in the company of such all-enveloping misery for any extended periods of time.

Mr and Mrs Miserable

I don't know what it is about these kind of couplings that make me very sad and sometimes a but angry. I feel like going over, shaking them vigorously (soap opera dramatic -style) and telling them there are so many things in this life to be happy about. Sure, it's easier to point out the negative, but you keep doing that and you end up with what I like to call a "misery face". I can only imagine the conversations at the breakfast table where the coffee is too weak/strong/cold/hot and the corn flakes too soggy, the toast too dark/too pale and the jam is always, always the wrong flavour. 

I don't know if a negative attitude in life is something genetic or something a person adopts somewhere along the way. Miss Miserable's family seems normal enough, nobody else in her family has ever told me that they were sure a mutual friend's husband was "bound to be bankrupt" just because he had just changed jobs. Her mother is great company and a wonderful woman to be around with. I don't know how Miss Miserable turned out the way she did. I suppose you're bound to be pleasantly surprised every so often if you keep preparing yourself for the worst but that is no way to live.

I think I am actually allergic to miserable, negative people. I find myself getting very annoyed and irritated when faced with people who do nothing but complain. Maybe I'm the strange on with rose-tinted specs perched on my nose but I'd rather be an idiot in blissful state of ignorance than always looking for the steaming pile of crap that just fell out of the backside of the beautiful, thoroughbred champion racehorse. 

Misery in welcome to it's company, more misery. I for one am quite happy gazing at the silver lining. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


There is so much sadness. In the news and closer to home. When the news from Norway hit on Friday I was in disbelief. A bomb? A mass murderer killing innocent teens on an island? A nightmare that had me checking my Twitter feed every couple of minutes. Maybe it was a hoax? Surely not 80 people dead, surely not? A peace-loving, (in my head) idyllic, modern Scandinavian country in the grips of a hateful, spiteful lunatic. One person causing so much pain and suffering to so many others. It was hard to believe but I had to.

It makes me worry, it really does. Right-wing extremist views have gotten more and more foothold in Europe over the last couple of years. Anti-multiculturalism, anti-Islamic and overly nationalistic political views have seemingly gotten more mainstream, somehow more acceptable. Historically speaking, I think it is a symptom of the global recession. Think back to continental Europe in the 1930's. Recession, unemployment, general feeling of malaise. One man placed the blame on the Jewish people. Stealing "our" jobs, forcing "their" culture, "their" way of life on "us". "They're" different to "us", "they" should be gotten rid of. Sound familiar? We all know how that panned out.

I was reading this piece on both Finnish and English news and I cried when I could only scarcely imagine the horror. The girl, 16 years of age, sending text messages to her mother who is following the news, pleading her daughter to send her a sign of life every five minutes. Horrific.

I've stopped following the story in the news now. It's getting out of hand, and I have had enough. I read the story about the couple who rescued tens of those trapped on the island, risking their own lives in the process, by going back and over the water on their boat. That was where I wanted to stop. A little ray of positivity to restore my faith in humankind. I have no interest in what the media will dig out next. I agree wholeheartedly with Charlie Brooker; the shooter does not deserve this publicity he so clearly was after.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Solar Powered

Exceptionally good weather we've been having, eh? Good weather by Irish standards. I know I've been living here long enough when I describe summertime temperatures of over +20 as "roasting". In Finland, that's average summer weather for July and August. It's been sunny and warm and it hasn't rained. So, by Irish standards, we've been having great weather. And I have been stuck at work until 7, 7.30 in the evenings.

But not yesterday! When I got up on Tuesday and saw the near-cloudless sky and that it was +17 already at 9am I got giddy. I skipped to the kitchen, got myself a cup of coffee and went outside. Just to feel the sun on my skin. It was bliss. And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. Mr S ran a few errands and went to a meeting, and I refused to leave my seat in the sun.

I know I'm from Finland where it's cold and dark for most of the year. I know most people think Finns are some sort of trolls who can see in the dark, live in caves, drink a lot of alcohol and are generally quite surly and depressing. But something happens to the normally introverted Finn when the first rays of warm summer sun start to break through. The Finn becomes more excitable, more extroverted and smiles for no reason. I believe the Finn is a solar powered creature.

Mr S first noted this the first summer I spent in Ireland after moving here permanently in spring 2004. He said he noticed a change in me as soon as I got some sun. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he noticed a change which, according to him, lasted for weeks afterwards. I'm inclined to agree with him. I need sunshine. I need to feel the prickly, tingly heat of direct sunlight on my skin. I don't care about a tan, I have more or less accepted the fact that I will only ever go a slightly darker shade of pink, that's it. I don't want a tan, I just want sun.

I nearly melted into my seat with the same pleasure I see my cats melting onto a hot, sunny windowsill. I feel relaxed, supple and very very mellow. Sun seems to be my natural high. Needless to say, I spent the entire day outside. A small breeze from the sea every now and then was a lovely contrast against the heat. I felt as if I had plugged myself into a generator of sorts to be recharged. And that is exactly how I felt in the evening. My skin still hot and tingly, smelling of suncream, sea and heat. I went to bed that night and had a wonderful sleep and I woke up in the morning energised and ready for work.

I'm inclined to agree with Mr S. I think I am, indeed solar powered.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lazy Days

I booked myself three days off this week. It has so far proved to have been a brilliant idea, even if I do say so myself. I found myself getting very annoyed at the fact that I seemed to spend one of my days off running errands, doing the shopping and generally being out of the house for the whole day. The other day off was spent firmly in the house, cleaning, washing, tidying up and such lark. Any time left over I try to catch up with friends and maybe get some me-time, but seeing as there still is only 24 hours in a day and I really do ideally need 8 hours sleep per night, it really is limiting my options.

I shared my first day off with Mr S. Few errands, bit of shopping, bit of cleaning. Our old neighbour had contacted me the day before to ask us to help her move her dog house from the old house to her new place. Apparently our old landlord had just flung the dog house over the wall to the side of the old house where Mr S and I used to live, despite her telling him she was coming back for it. Charming man. So I went up to help her move it, my little car is surprisingly spacious when the back seats are flattened. When I got home, after a tour of her new house, which is lovely, we just lounged. I tried out a new recipe for a pizza base which was a huge success. I got the recipe from one of my Twitter-friends only to realise that I'd had the same recipe in Jamie's Italy -book for a few years now, earmarked and everything. Nothing like a recommendation to get you moving, eh?

Yesterday I spent catching up with friends. Good old chats, lots of laughs, insane amounts of tea and coffee and plenty of biscuits and cake. My Finnish friend, Marjo is something short of a wizard in the kitchen. Mocha-squares they're called in Finland, I suppose the closest thing here would be a brownie, but these things are a lot lighter and more sponge-like in texture and topped with a chocolate-coffee icing. See, I'm drooling already. So so tasty!

So, my third day off is today and I am blissfully aware that on a normal working week I would be getting stuck into trying to explain to a German tourist, who doesn't speak any English, what a parsnip is. (Apparently, calling it a white carrot isn't informative enough) Yet here I am, in our office, in my comfiest (and by default, the ugliest) baggy tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie, sporting a rather fetching bedhead, sipping my second cup of coffee, trawling the internet for stuff and not caring how long it takes me.

Conveniently enough, it's raining outside so I'm not likely to feel the need to go out and rake the grass we finally got cut on Monday. Or go out for a walk. Or, indeed anything that requires getting out of the house. The wheelie bin is at the bottom of the driveway, I may stretch to going out a bringing it back up. But I'll wait for it to stop raining first.

I have a stack of magazines to catch up on, the last two issues of the National Geographic on the top of the pile. I'm still reading Jo Nesbo's The Redeemer, which is proving very good indeed and nicely filling the void left by Stieg Larssen's Millenium-trilogy. I'm doing two loads of laundry, and two only, washing the sheets (I love Clean Sheets Day). I also have a pile of DVDs to watch, I'm contemplating on either having a Harry Potter marathon, or a Bones marathon. But the important thing is, I don't have to do any of these things if I don't choose to. I could quite happily veg out on the couch, listen to the radio and pet the cats. How about that for a lazy day, huh?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Time Warp?

What happened to June? Seriously, I seem to be missing a whole month. I was at work, signing off something and dating it 1/7/11 and then realised I seemed to have by-passed June entirely. If I was in an episode or Doctor Who, there would, no doubt, be some fantastic explanation as to where my month of June 2011 disappeared off to and we would probably find out that it was indeed the Cybermen who were to blame. Alas, not quite.

Where I work is now open until 7pm, and usually being the last one out of the building after cashing up and locking up, it means that I don't get out until about 7.30 the earliest. Factor in a stop at the local shop and the drive home, I'm usually not home until well after 8pm. Shower, dinner, washing, feeding the cats, ironing, some telly and off to bed. See how I have no time for blogging and it annoys me. I've had so many ideas floating about in the incoherent mess of my mind, but forgetting to write them down on the spot means I lose them almost as fast as I think of them.

It hasn't all been work and no play, mind. We've had some great nights out, some even enjoying warm, sunny weather (gasp!). On one of these nights, we hammered out a Murtaugh list for one of my friends, Teresa. She also has a blog here, but is even more sporadic in her writing than I am. Anyway, the list started out with about 20 items on it, this was at the start of the night. Oliver brought in the list and a pen. As the level of intoxication rose, the items on the list multiplied and got more insane as the night went on. Few examples of said items

  • camp outside by yourself in a tent
  • dye your hair a crazy colour
  • get something pierced
And these are the ones that are somewhat printable. Others involve things that play into Teresa's fear/dislike to men in white vests, for example. You can tell a lot of thought went into this. The list deserves it's own Facebook page, we think. Or maybe a blog. Watch this space.

So, you can tell my June was very productive. I try to mend my ways in regards of blogging in July. I'm not making any promises, though.