I don't always get it right you know

I am not perfect. No. Far from it. I hope I haven't given a picture of a perfect 50's housewife who makes no mistakes. Now now. Let's be honest.

Exhibit A: Cooking
Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I burn stuff. Sometimes I make alien invasion blobs in the oven:

Blobs... Or maybe I was going for the "Alps"?

Exhibit B: Artistic Abilities
Zero. Zip. None.

My musicality and ability to write has not translated into any other art form, unfortunately.
I tried to make Christmas cards this year. Needless to say, I should have bribed my 5-year-old nephew to make them for me. I was too embarrassed to send them to anyone outside my core family (they know what talentless tool I am).
Here. Have a crappy Christmas. Next year you'll get an SMS instead.

Exhibit C: Photogenic my ass
"Darling, why don't you ever take photos of me?" I sometimes ask my husband. I don't think I break mirrors or have hairy moles on my face, why doesn't he ever take photos of his wife?

Husband's reply:
1) You're always on the move and out of focus.

2) It's impossible to take a nice photo of you because you pull funny faces.

3) You hide behind things.

4) You use props.

Sigh. Fair enough.

Exhibit D: Karma hates me
I have the WORST karma when it comes to travelling. The only thing that hasn't (yet) happened to us is a proper plane crash. Even though, that also was close once when the wheel didn't come out of the plane when landing. We keep losing our luggage, missing flights, ticket problems, security problems...and last time I think it was us who broke the entire Helsinki-Vantaa Airport system and ended up queuing with a few thousand other people for several hours...
Never travel with us.

So. Mrs. Marvelous certainly does NOT equal "Mrs. Perfect". So that you know. 

Now stop laughing and go and do whatever you were doing. 

Over and out.



Oh lordy.

It has been a while since I last updated my blog. It has been a busy start of the year. But let's rewind a bit.

Christmas in Finland was wonderful. We got the best of the weather (-15°C), we got some extra love from family and friends, got stuck at the airport as we were trying to leave the country and in the end, made the plane but our luggage didn't. Some hours later we boarded to Portugal, got the worst of the weather but some more extra love from the family there.

As the year changed, so changed my luck as well, and both my husband and I caught a nasty cold. That didn't make the long trip back home any easier.

But we made it, in the end. I was sick for a couple of weeks and in that couple of weeks I had time to reflect a little. What should I do now? How to activate myself? If I can't find work here, how to fill my days?

So, one anxious afternoon I applied to a few schools thinking that "you have to be in it to win it". What could I lose? Nothing. What could I gain? Everything.

I had restrictions, though. I couldn't physically go to another country (how would my husband ever get out of bed in the morning if it weren't for me kicking his ass up?), I refused to go to a local school and pay €35000 per year (yes, really) and it had to be a school where I wouldn't have to jump through hoops in order to justify why my qualifications, previous degree and level of English are all more than adequate.
Some of the schools I applied for asked for quite a few extra things in the application process which I knew I could cover with my CV and Cambridge Proficiency, studies/work experience in Australia... but I was afraid they'd still ask for TOEFLs and such (TOEFL is based on American English and needs to be renewed every now and then while Cambridge is valid for eternity, based on the good ole' Queen's English). And GMAT? GM-bloody-THAT, I say.

End result: all the schools I applied for accepted me?!?!? No extras needed, my paper trail was enough to prove my skills and ability to tackle a Master program.

Now I needed to select the program. I had options!

My husband and I had very opposite views on which program to choose, his view was to take the best known Uni and I wanted to choose the program that appealed to me the most content-wise in a smaller Uni (tailored for those who already had working experience as managers). After my husband talked to some experts at his office, he came home agreeing with me. Let's go with the program that appeals to me most, Uni name and rep mean very little, globally thinking. Fight averted, I enrolled for MSc in International Business.

So there I am now, sweat beads forming on my forehead as I try to remember things I last studied loooong ago (before electricity was invented...). Let's see how it goes in the end. So far I've spent 4-8 hours a day studying, swapping my sporty activities for brain exercise and flattening ass.

I'm hoping, as I get more used to cramming and start picking up the speed, I can free up some time for sport again. I miss working out and my flab agrees! I also want to free up time to meet up with my local friends now that I finally managed to get some. Oh, and not forgetting French!

Other than that, it was Valentine's Day yesterday. I provided food, husband provided wine and iPod provided jazz. Good times and plenty of love in the air.

Life ain't shit after all.

Oui, c'est moi.



Visitor from the Far Away Land

My dad, despite being in Switzerland for about 15 times already, decided to pay us a visit. Fair enough, it had been 2 years since we last saw him so it was about time he came here!

We picked him up on Friday night and decided to order in the dinner as he was suffering from 1 hour jet lag (!!) & airline food (=no food). We decided to try Iranian food and it was delicious! I also received my delivery of salt liquorice, dark syrup, Glögi spices, Finnish rye bread and 5kg, yes a five-kilo-bag, of multi grain porridge! Wohohohoo!

After a good (but short) night of sleep we woke up 6am (well, I woke up at 5am), had a feast of a brekkie with croissants, milk bread etc. and were out in the sleepy streets of Lausanne at 8am, ready to tackle the sights.

We had planned to make an excursion to another city after the morning walk but as my dad realised he remembered nothing of Lausanne, we decided to stay put and discover what Lausanne had to offer.

So we walked...oh BOY did we walk! We started at 8am, as I mentioned, and finished at 10pm. With the lunch & dinner breaks we ended up walking about 30km in 10 hours.
What struck my dad most, of course, was the sunlight.
We still have a proper day here even though it's winter. He was soaking up the sun rays like a lizard, refusing to use sunglasses in order to get some "light treatment".
We took him to the main cathedral (The Cathédrale Notre-Dame) and even though it's very bare from the inside, they were just building a miniature village there, probably for the Christmas period.
We were ooohing and aaaaahing for an hour as we were "look here, look there look look"-ing the details of the village.

As Switzerland is all about chocolate and cheese, we took my dad to the cheese market before continuing our walk. We had lunch at a brewery/restaurant Les Brasseurs and he, naturally, tried the le tartare de boeuf à la Provencale. "You want it spicy?", asked the waiter. "Spicy? Yes please!" said dad. And was then breathing fire like a dragon. Ah well! This is not Finland!

After walking around the city, we took  him to Ouchy (to the lakeside) before the sun setted. I wanted him to see where the Olympic museum is situated (even though it's being renovated) and say hello to the Paavo Nurmi statue.

As we lost the daylight and were getting hungry, we decided to get back to the city and have our dinner at Café Romand. We always take our visitors there as the atmosphere is wonderful (locals mix nicely with tourists), service is awful (I mean "authentic", old fashioned and slow) and the food is rustic but delicious. My dad and I shared a fondue and he was in heaven!

After dinner we digested the heavy food by a little walk around the city and laughed at the tackiest hotel in town. I mean laughed UNTIL we saw the Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and Ferraris parked in front of it. Rich seem to like it tacky.
We ended the night eating Ladurée macarons and downing a 40+ year old Port wine. Perfect ending for a perfect day.

Next morning we woke up (a little hungover) to a rainy and foggy day. As everything is closed (meaning shops and places) we decided to go to Rochers-de-Naye (2042meters) and say hello to the view and the "REAL" Santa Claus (ahem, cough cough).

It started promising. Looked like the gates of heaven were trying to open as we started our climb uphill in our little scenic train.
We've been up there 4 times before and each time we've managed to get on top of the clouds on the top. This time, however, weather was not on our side. Yes there was snow but.... Visibility was about 5 meters. 10 tops. And the clouds were so high up we never got on top of them. We decided to cut the visit short, eat a quick lunch, say hello to Santa and start to descend back down.

"Hello REAL Santa!"

On our way down we stopped at Caux, paid ourselves silly with an entrance fee and ended up freezing in the shittiest (pardon my fluent French) Christmas villages ever.
I do believe the low point of the visit was the man dressed up as a Sami person. And instead of reindeer, he had some authentic Lapland Donkeys. You know.

"Bonjour" he chirped.

As my dad and I were taken aback a little, my dad reacted as a true Finn abroad. "Bonjour. You know... we're from Finland."

"Ah yes, Faaahnlaaaahnd?" he said with a blank stare. "Welcome to Switzerland!" ...Ah yes...

"Yes, we are. Do you even know what you're wearing? Trying to be from Lapland? One tip, your shoes are all wrong" (he was wearing fluorescent green sneakers). I truly hope he goes home and GOOGLES who he is trying to be. You know... Research a little to get into the character. Anything. The man clearly didn't even know about Lapland. Well, why bother then at all, I ask. If he doesn't know, most visitors won't either so what is the point?

Even though the village was crap, the view down was wonderful.

After an hour freezing our butts off, we went down to Montreux to see their Christmas market and THAT was something alright. No entrance fee, plenty of people and pleeeenty of Christmas spirit.
Even had a chance to say hello to Freddy Mercury.

As the sun set and we finished our Vin Chaud, it was time to return home, have dinner and rest before taking my dad back to the airport in the morning.

Dad was very impressed with everything and I'm sure he will miss all the cheese and wine and most of all, our hospitality. We like to spoil our guests. ;) Can't wait to return the visit soon as we get to invade Finland!


Ignorance, thy name is Bubble Boy.

Ranting and rambling ahead.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like most people. I'm not a people hater.

Regardless where they're from, how old they are, what they do for living... If I can have a proper conversation with them, I like them.

But there are those few who rub me the wrong way and probably don't even realise themselves they're doing so. They are too ignorant/young/inexperienced to see the flip side of the coin, unable to understand things are often not only black and white but there are many shades of grey (I'm NOT referring to the housewife porn book here) in between. Those who judge for the sake of judging.

Usually these traits melt away with time, life experience, travelling and age. You get a certain sensitivity towards people. You ask a question, they answer, you take their answer on board and build up the friendship from there. You try not to step on their toes so you poke the ice with a long stick. Gently. This way you learn the boundaries what is ok and what is not. It's a beautiful thing, international and cross cultural relations.

But there are some, not many but still a few, who remain in the ignorant bubble (I'll just call them Bubble Boys and Bubble Girls) no matter how old they are, how much they've travelled and who they've met (had they met Gandhi & Dalai Lama they'd probably tell you only that Gandhi was bald and Dalai lama likes red and yellow).

Unfortunately for me, I have such a Bubble Boy in my class. I knew I would have to remain cool and collective the moment I first talked to him. Not a facial expression in sight and the tone of voice remained monotonic. Like a robot, Arnold style.
For a very animated girl with forever-changing-facial expressions and lively tone of voice, I had some alarm bells going off with these signs. I knew we'll never be the best of buddies but I tried not to judge too hastily as life has taught me that some of the most sarcastic gems hide behind these monotonic stone faced acts.

Unfortunately, my gut instinct was correct. There was no hidden gem.

Here are some things Bubble Boy has flashed in the last few weeks:

Finnish=Russian, no?

(According to him) I'm a Finn, therefore I speak Swedish/Danish/Norwegian (he forgot Icelandic from the mix) and my own language sounds like Russian because it's related to Russian. Even when I spoke Finnish to him, he insisted it sounded Russian. Ok. Houston, we have a serious problem. He wasn't even joking. (insert tears here...the lingos couldn't be further apart.) He still insists Finnish is related to Russian, I just don't know it.

He asked. I answered. He didn't take it on board. Epic Fail with the tone deaf Bubble Boy.

Learning foreign languages - Easy peasy lemon squeezy, don'tcha know!

He also insists he is fluent in Spanish after spending one month in Spain. Yet he can't understand the Spanish lady in our class. But Spanish is "like sooooo easy", according to him. Best month he ever had. Dos cervezas, por favor. Spanish rules, yippee-ki-yay y'all.

I think our standard for "fluent" is a little different.

Eurotrash. Can't even speak proper English. 

He keeps talking to me as if I didn't speak/understand English.
Maybe Bubble Boy's girlfriend can't speak English well enough. Therefore, no foreigner can.
.....But I have many certificates telling me that I'm near native. How was I ever able to study at an Australian University? Work in English?
I know I make mistakes and I'm far from perfect and I'm nowhere near his fluent Spanish (Ha! See? Me does sarcasm, many time. And yes, I just did it again. Did you notice? Did you like it? Was it as good for you as it was for me?). But come on.

When I was blowing my nose this morning (I have a cold), he asked me if my nose was being "bad". BAD??? My nose is GOOD, it just happens to be runny, mister.

As I tilted my head without replying out loud, we got our signals even more crossed.
My head tilt was to indicate "You ARE kidding, right??" and he took it as "She doesn't understand, poor girl. Explain it to her again in simpler terms".

So he repeated....Sloooooowly. Dooooo....youuuuu.....haaaave.......a.....baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad......nooooose.......? (as he grabbed his nose between his index finger and thumb to demonstrate blowing of a nose).

I had to compose myself (inside, I died just a little) and with a smile replied that my nose is not bad, it's just biiiiiig and runny.

-No comeback. Other native speakers laughed.

"You say tomato, I say...."

According to him, I cannot call myself a "housewife" as I have no kids. I'm a fake (yes, seriously he told me this with a straight face).

To challenge his logic, I presented my situation.
We live in a house + I am a wife = Housewife. 
Housewife + kid(s) = Stay-at-home-mum. 
Yes? No? Tick the box, Bubble Boy.

-No comeback.  Just a blank stare.

The bubble that is Switzerland

He loves it here. His girlfriend is here, mountains are beautiful, life is good.

Here's the thing. He has been here for a month and he has had the ready-to-go network that is his girlfriend, her family and her friends. He doesn't have to pay rent as he stays at her place. She takes him around Switzerland in her car. They've met this summer so love is fresh and everything is lovely. The family owns property so they can stay at ski chalets for free. He's on a tourist visa so no obligation to pay for the local healthcare system. All he needed was to plug'n'play. Good on ya, mate.

I've lived here for two years and knew no one here. I was completely uprooted with no safety net. If we want to go somewhere, it'll cost us dearly (travelling, eating out & staying at hotels). As I don't work, I don't meet people. Well, those I meet in the streets aren't exactly my kind of people. They usually want something more than just a friendship, if you know what I mean.

When he first asked if I liked Switzerland and I answered "it's not an easy place to live" he took it as if I hated it here.

I never said that. I kept on repeating that it always depends what your background is, what your values are and where you're coming from. I come from Finland (via some other countries as well). Someone coming from Iraq/Spain/Portugal probably sees Switzerland differently as I do. I know things could work differently, more efficiently and faster because I have witnessed it in my own home country. Switzerland has its quirks and one of those is the love for old fashioned pencil pushing and paperwork. This is just a fact.
Also, where I come from, everyone is entitled to certain things (like healthcare) whereas here it depends how much you annually pay how good a treatment you will get. Want to  have a senior doctor treat you at the hospital? That'll be extra, thankyouverymuch.

And yet, daily he refers to me as "the Switzerland hater". And I keep patiently correcting that I never said anything of the sort but yes I think it is like going back in time a few decades comparing to where I came from. He tells me in his monotonic voice I can't be right because his girlfriend disagrees with my view.

What's that? The girlfriend who is Swiss? And has never been to Finland? Ah yes. My apologies, you're completely right! What was I thinking. Such a selfish, ignorant, stupid girl I am. Sorry I was trying to give a little perspective, to show things aren't simply this or that. There is the "in between".

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small....

Oh lordy. Give me strength. Not all are able to develop, mature and take their head out of their...erm....bubble. Yes, bubble. I could've used the word "ass" but I chose not to. You know why? Because I am above it. 

You can take a man out of the far-away-country and toss him around the globe but you cannot force him to open his eyes and his mind. You cannot force him to have his own opinions. You cannot force him to see all the colours of the rainbow. That there aren't always simply "right" or "wrong". There's also "depends". My truth is not everyone's truth. It's only my experience and view. And just because it doesn't fit Bubble Boy's view, it doesn't mean it's incorrect. It's just different. 

Sigh. Travelling for some people is like pearls for pigs. They'll never learn to poke the ice with a stick. They'll drive on top of it, Top Gear style with a Jeep, and then wonder why they crashed through the ice.


Salut! Ça va?

Operation Integration, step one: learning tolerable French.

So it began, finally. My intensive French class. 
I was quite apprehensive about it as I was certain I would not enjoy it (read too many complaints about the classes being taught in French only...Which I sort of understood but sort of dreaded...). 

But as always, or as the Finns say: "Pessimisti ei pety" (freely translated: a pessimist can't be disappointed) I was anxious for no reason. 

I was positively surprised by the fellow classmates as well as the lovely teacher. She's not too proud to throw an English word here and there when everyone is completely clueless about what she's trying to explain. 
"Don't panic, I have only begun" she said in English to the teary eyed Japanese lady who was struggling to understand as the rest of us bursted out laughing. Why did we laugh? No, not at her. We were laughing because we were all relieved when we realised we were all just as spaced out as the poor Japanese woman. What an alien language French is! 

I'll be taking the classes now every weekday, let's see if I could at least order a cup of coffee in French by the end of it.

Other than learning French, we were hit by very Arctic weather front. I was pointing out to my husband that the Swiss are extremely precise: When the clocks are turned back to winter time, it starts snowing. Bravo!

The true heroes of the weekend were the runners who ran 10K/20K/marathon in the snow. I salute them.

We took the tube uphill to check out how the weather up there was. Indeed, it could only be described as...Wintery. 

Hungry Hungry hiker.
Had to eat before, during and after the walk.



I'm turning 35 next week. I've been around the block or two.

I should be confident about myself. And I've certainly been working on my body image issues and as the result, I'm becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
But somehow, I'm becoming shy about my face which has always been my best feature. I don't even know why. 
Is it the forever multiplying wrinkles, my imperfect teeth, the dark circles around my tired eyes or my limp and thinning hair?

...Or should I simply maybe be more gentle with myself, embrace what I have instead of what I've lost? 

....I think I should definitely work on the latter. Come come now, Mrs. Marvelous. You don't look that bad for a 35-year-old bird.