ChristMust.

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This has been among the sombrest Christmases I have ever experienced. It was not just Covid and the feeling of reality it brings about, although that definitely was a big part of it. It was not just missing my family, my safe space, although that, too, did contribute a lot. And, in fact, I’m very grateful for many things every day: I’m alive, I feel and understand things, I have a little family, I have a roof above my head and food on my table, I have a job and a lot of freedom – but at risk of sounding ungrateful, these facts just do not click together right now.

This Christmas felt like eating Finnish Christmas Food (to which I have little emotional attachment) on any autumn day (yes, autumn, as there is no snow and temperatures are only around 0°C) Sunday at in-laws. No Christmas emotions, anticipation, smells, sounds and emotions once again. I did not know this would set me back so much, but looking back at events of 2020, it is not that unsurprising that Christmas did not turn out as Christmas.

This year I did not really feel the connection to the world around me, instead, I automatically shifted focus on me and at my shortcomings in life (all of my life?) which then blocked off my productivity and creativity. The reason why I’m posting this little is that I have nothing visual to go with my verbalised thoughts, well I would not read a blog without graphic elements, it slows down scrolling so much! Anothe reason for so few pictures is that southern Finland has been now sunk in grayness and dullness (and NO, polar night does not mean grayness and darkness!) and, well, the way life is at the moment there were simply not too many opportunities to take pictures with a film camera.

Another linocut practice piece of 2020.

Why am I writing this?

It is a reminder to myself and those who might ever read this that sometimes life sucks, it can suck and hurt in so many ways, it can feel like a short episode of super intense paralysing pain. It can feel like you are running on about 60% of your capacity, you feel less, you do less, you even think less. It can feel like a rock on your chest that never really goes. It can feel like everything is a struggle and you have to fight for all of this. It can feel like you have lost all your limbs, or that your heart has been pulled out of the chest (or stomach for what it feels). It can feel like a mild headache, kind of in the background all the time and you only realise it when you want to change your position and then *ouch*.

I see a lot of emotion in this.

And that is fine. At least I hope it is fine, because I frankly see no other consolation in this. I have now seen how so many different things can go tits up in so many ways and within such a short time.

At the same time this year has seen unusually many of friends dear to me becoming parents (some even of the second child), some friends published books, some re-thought their business and adapted to the situation and I doing so great, some people developed so much – some people actually had a good year. And for the first time ever I’m not jealous of other’s achievements. I learnt to embrace it and feel happy for them, I learn to fail and embrace it, and for these, dear 2020, for these I’m thankful to you. And bless you, my dears.

Poinsettia.

Over and out, friends, this is this year’s Christmas card – note that of course I did not have the right paint/roller, because the only shop in Finland stocking these has been in total chaos the past weeks/months. So now I ended up with a stash of stencils I need to print, stash of films I wanted to shoot and a big jug of humbleness. And also a bowl of pizza dough I need to put into oven so I’m going to end this right now.

Butter, vanilla and ginger, love you guys.

How to find the perfect flat?

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle

Location, location and location. The only three valid criteria for looking for the place to live – everything else can be fixed. This is valid probably to all countries except for Finland where land ownership and pretty hefty costs of repairs – not to mention the dreaded and expensive putkiremontti, aka go and eff yourselves for 3 months while we replace the water pipes in your building for no obvious reason – mean that you might, actually, give in after a while. But if you are looking for the gorgeous city apartment, try applying the following for narrowing down your search criteria:

check locations along the tram line – the trams typically serve the once residential quarters which in today’s speak mean liveable places close to the centre and with decent traffic connections.

– check locations on the train line(s) – and by that I don’t mean the underground, look for the real, hardcore suburban train. You might find really interesting spots minutes from the city centre. The bus is for plebs and the underground smells of fat and pee.

check locations close to the water – river, sea, fake lake. Just do, even when you don’t think you care that much. The current urban development trend is to build on anything solid, but you can still count on the fact that building on water surface remains technically… difficult.

don’t look at the number of rooms, that is totally misleading. You can always divide or unite the space – and actually, even the number of square metres is for orientation purposes only. Look at the dispositions, the number and location of doors, etc.

– when you considering buying a place, enjoy a short meal or a coffee there. Ignore the looks of the estate agent or the owner, just, well, see how it feels to be there when you are relaxed and occupy your mind with something else than thoughts about the technical and financial questions. This might sound superstrange, and it kind of is unusual, I admit. Women take hours shopping for their wedding dress, so why should your rush buying a flat? Word of warning: when you chuckle at the tasteless colour scheme the previous tenant left the flat in, try not to be that loud.

don’t lose hope. You can always rent – and wait. There are housing bubbles in many of European capitals. They will burst one day.