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Landed at 9:20pm Helsinki-time last night. Sun about twenty degrees from the horizon, a smeared molten ball behind the clouds throwing out cold shadows in hot light.

May 19th 2010 - Enroute to Helsinki 008

Called J, let her know I was in, grabbed my pack from the turnstile and found the 615 Keskuseen bus. Had the stop name, but counted it as the 18th from the airport just to be safe. Proud of myself that I spotted it nine actual stops in and got off.

J met me, we went upstairs, I met Trond, Aano and Outi, witnessed a boot crisis, packed for Leipzig, we got three hours sleep with the sky still light at 1:30am and were on a bus at 5. At the airport by 5:30, and noticed a bunch of other people in black, with challenging haircuts, obviously traveling on a similiar itinerary. By 6:30 we were airborne. 9:30 we were in Berlin. Klaus picked us up at the airport. J considers he and his wife her German parents. He struggles with English, but then I struggle with German, so with J in the middle we make do okay. Been here a day and I'm already conversing semi-okay with people in stores and the like. German is much easier than French.

So Klaus takes us back to his place. Honestly, I couldn't lie about this and keep a straight face. Klaus is an artist working in reclaimed ivory, Chinese antiques, jewels, coral, and sundry other things and sells his works to Hermes and the like in Rome, Paris, Shanghai and elsewhere. His place is by the river, his front room is loaded with art and artefacts like a chair he made from antlers, swordfish snouts mounted on jade plinths, barracuda skulls projecting golden jeweled lances from their mouths, 100-year-old ivory horses from China... the list goes on. We get the place to ourselves for a week once we get back from WGT. I'll snap a few shots.

Klaus served us really good coffee in Moroccan china, pieces of rough-snapped chocolate, Blanc & Noir chocolates, and cookies. So sleep was out.


J and I went for a walk after while Klaus retreated downstairs to his workshop. Walked by the river, through the gardens, saw camels through a gap in the fence, visited a cathedral that was blasted to ruin in WW2 (and I got 2 Grand Marnier crepes that were so goddamned delicious and sensual to eat it was almost criminal)...

May 19th 2010 - Enroute to Helsinki 079

... and now we're in a bookstore drinking more coffee and doing netstuff before heading out to look for clothes. And tonight we're in an Italian restaurant, which is apparently very good.

And tomorrow we hitch a lift to Leipzig.

When we get back I want to check out a bar in a hotel on the Alexanderplatz that Matt recommended. World's largest fuckoff aquarium. 4-storeys tall. Barracuda and the like.

And finally: we passed this on the way to the Cathedral. The plan is to find someplace on the night that has people, a widescreen TV, and is serving booze.
camrogers: (Default)
England looked so beautiful from the air. Possibly an unremarkable observation if you live there, but for me it's pure Tolkien. Even the man-made rises fringing the runway, dotted with trees, was intensely and indulgently verdant. I first, properly, had a chance to be inside a forest when I was sixteen. I saw it from a distance at a school camp to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands north of Cairns. It was on the other side of the lake (that itself was manmade, the product of damming up the river and flooding the valley - submerging the Chinese goldmining community that had made the place their home. You can still dive what's left of the ruins.)

The buildings were on one side, the pine forest (again, a manmade plantation) was on the other. I had arranged to skive off something and attempt to walk around the lake. Figured it'd take hours but worth it if I could spend even five minutes vanished inside it. On that day I walked for hours, and never made it, though a stray dog kept me company the entire way. I'd seriously underestimated the distance and so headed back. Felt bad having to leave the dog, at the end.

A year or so later I arranged a camping trip with Eric and Drew. Got dropped off at the township and hiked around the lake. Finally go to sleep inside that forest.

Lifting off from Gatwick and looking out the window showed a countryside deeply emerald and carved into floppy squares by rounded, fluffy treelines. And, man, did I just want to get out and walk.

It wasn't until that moment, actually, lifting higher, that I properly realised just how long it would be before I was back in the UK. August at the earliest, possibly longer. Until then it had felt like I was just stepping out for a bit. And then, abruptly, it vanished beneath the clouds, green submerged beneath white, a flash of riverwater and that was that.

DK went back to Istanbul and walked the streets where his mother grew up, visited a few landmarks. It was quite a significant experience for him. I'd like to have the same. I think I'd like to feel some kind of connection to history, even if I can't sensibly claim any kind of role in it. I've had Russian cabbies assume I was Russian from my look, I've had Americans and English people assume wonder if I was French. It leaves me feeling a little insubstantial, not really knowing. Like I was built and installed, cold and abrupt and stand-alone, rather than concieved as part of a genetic continuity.

Captain just announced we're on approach. Holy crap, I can see the archipelago. It's beautiful.
camrogers: (Default)
Drinking juolukahvi (I think I spelled that right.) Christmas coffee. Spiced with a bunch of stuff. J brought it over. Had to buy a plunger just to use it, but worth it.

It's going to be weird not being here. I say this as someone who gets homesick and knows it. But Over There is absolutely the right place for me to be. It's the next evolutionary step. It also means I can get to anywhere I need to be, which makes me a more viable proposition. €1-300 for a return flight to London is nothing and I'm fine with cattle car. I may not be able to sleep in my own bed but sitting in the cab of a Toyota bouncing across some busted track in the bush and I have trouble staying awake. I figure I'm meant to be doing this... even if I don't know precisely what it is that I'm doing.

I think my folks are having to face the fact that this puts me even further away from them than I have been for the last 12 years. I think they've already done the math on how many days we'll have left together. I know I have. I'm not sure what happens if they become so infirm they can't care for themselves. If it comes to that I'll fly back and settle in Cooktown for the duration. Hoping I'll have made enough by then to keep us all in some sort of style or comfort. I think Dad'll be okay. He always said if it got to that point he'd just walk out into the scrub and we wouldn't see him again. He's said it more than once and it always spooked me, but the older I get the more I think I'll probably wind up doing the same - if it came to that. I think my brother's on the same wavelength. I know I've mentioned it here before, but one of the last times we saw our grandmother it was at a nursing home in Cairns. Broke my heart. Didn't know what to do about any of it. But I do remember turning to Alan as we walked out of there and the exchange went like this:

"Listen, if either of us ever gets..."

I like my brother. Took a while, but I do. We're remarkably similar, just took different roads. If he was mildly aspergic and looked up rather than around we'd probably be sharing a house.

I've always said our father saw me as the prototype for him. Stress-tested me for three years before v2 came along. At the end of the day the code and mechanics all have the same base. Alan became more like Dad, and I still think I might be adopted. If it weren't for my grandfather who was an English political activist and academic, and a career Navy man. Saved a lot of lives during the war, running Coastwatcher operations, single-manning a patrol craft avoiding Japanese shipping to collect marathon surveillance groups from the PNG shoreline. The older I get the more I look like him, and the more he seemed to take an interest in who I was turning into. I only wish I'd been a few years older - and he a few years younger - so that we could have had some proper conversations.

My family doesn't know where we come from. Our lineage has been masked on both sides by some sort of melodrama we haven't been able to unravel. I know that my great-grandfather worked as a bodyguard for unsavoury types, eventually meeting his end in a gunfight someplace in Canada. He made a lot of his fortune gambling, and that had something to do with it. And I know that there was some deep shame about my paternal great-grandfather. He came from Middlesex in England, and I'm pretty sure he wound up in Sturt prison in Townsville when my grandfather was born. All I know is that at the junction of those two families are a group of people who seem to be pretty good at shooting, gambling, situational strategy and toughing it out - and not that great at the long view. Case in point: Dad's deaf in one ear. The reason for this is he was stalking a razorback boar across someone's property. He was alongside the house when it came into view, muscle-memory kicked in and he'd shouldered and fired the rifle before thinking about what happens when sound encounters a hard, flat surface. The sound of the shot rebounded point-blank at him. He got the boar, but still... that's us right there. Do what you have to and any negative results become elements of what you have to do next. Roll with it.

If a life is a lock we seem to reach for dynamite before thinking about a key. It's subtle, and weird, but it's there. I wish I knew more about where we come from. Hell, my surname isn't even Rogers, technically. It's Colledge. Rogers was a name my grandfather took in order to distance himself from his own father and the associated shame. Whatever that was.

I guess I'm thinking about all this now because I spent three days out there. I've got city feet and bad habits, but the code is still there. I like being in Melbourne. I like having a good bed even if I can sleep on a floor. I like good coffee even if I can live without it. The older I get the smarter I get about what I've been told and what's actually true, and it's like chipping a mould from something kiln-fired. I get the feeling the purpose of my life is to have all of this revealed a piece at a time, and then I'll die. That and working out people.

I don't know if any of that makes sense. It's been wriggling to get out for the last few days.
camrogers: (Default)
This is probably where I'll be writing for three months at least.

Cute coffee joint at the top of the hill. Acidic coffee, but I'm told it goes well with the pulla, which is apparently extraordinary.
camrogers: (Default)
At the moment Helsinki is a bunch of stuff that might happen.

- This film school is around the corner from where we're at.
- Got talking to [ profile] kits_the_dm at [ profile] txxpxxx's party last night, and he recommended this guy for fencing training. He's on the outskirts, which'll add to my bike miles, which is great, and is a hard-arse about physical competence before he'll even let you in.
- There's a Moomin museum in Tampere I want to check out on [ profile] drjon's behalf.
- I want to check out Tampere because J loves the place.
- Half the city is a goddamned forest, so I'd like to match J's 100km a week biking.
- J speaks a handful of languages, and teaches them for a living, so it looks like I'll hopefully have a better grasp of Finnish before I become effortless with French. Same with German, probably. Which is absolutely fantastic. Seems like most people over there speak at least three languages, and I'm determined to keep pace.
- Finnish Lapland in 2011 for the northern lights.
- GWT in May (Leipzig).
- 5 days in Berlin with a view to getting a better feel for the Berlin scenes in Fateless.
- Paris for same, and because Dmetri sells that city so damned well.

I just wanna gogogo.

If things play out ideally I'll have a place of my own or shared in either Vantaa or Espoo. So if you know me and you're in the area, mi casa es su casa. So far Helsinki looks like a great staging point for inexpensive (by Australian standards) forays into other countries.

And if that doesn't lure you: we get to vote in Eurovision.

Hard to believe I got here from being broke in a world full of maybes two months ago. I love my goddamned friends.
camrogers: (Default)
Contract extended to six months. Basically this means i can work til I have enough money, then go. If a Helsinki job comes up, I'll head over sooner. If not, I'll work til I get enough. And it's the best paycheque I've ever earned. I mean seriously.

I'm gonna attempt to train myself in Framemaker, and XML, and CSS. I dont plan on making a living not-writing, but as far as keeping body and soul together consulting and web design aren't too freakin' shabby. And it means I can design and maintain my own goddamned website, finally, which feeds into the self-promotion thing.

Also need to properly get onto Twitter.


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