cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Sooooo, what's going on with me is that I'm with the Red Cross for the next... 6 months or so.

The last time I was in a work practice placement it was a daycare The equivalent of The Previouslies, a short summation of how I wound up switching Employment Goals ) I decided to do some retail for the time being, because I have some experience of it and it's doable without any certification or training, unlike many other fields.

My Finnish isn't perfect - it's what you'd call "fine" or "pretty good" probably, and I'm still terrified of someone unintelligible due to mumbling or regional accent coming along, but I don't have trouble ordinarily. It's also been 13 years since I was a cashier though, and the technology has changed since then, and I've never done it in Finland anyway. So when the little group of social workers, employment bureau caseworkers and mental health professionals that my therapist's workgroup belongs to heard my explanation, they swiftly concluded that a few work practice placements in different areas of retail would be best, because it would provide the best chance to polish my Retail Finnish language skills and appease my anxiety by familiarity with environment and expectations of the field.

They also sent me to a new department of the Employment Bureau, which - okay, let me just pause here to note that this is amazing as fuck: The Employment Bureau has a SECRET DEPARTMENT where they give slightly more help to people who need slightly more help. In the ordinary run of things, caseworkers there have 500+ customers apiece and are overworked and underfunded to death. I've had like four caseworkers in the last few years before this already. And when you go to their information desk, or to their ordinary caseworkers, and ask for more help, they typically send you to that Career Planning course that I was sent to a couple years ago, which wasn't useless but was aimed at people who needed help navigating the bureaucracy and things like that more than people suffering from social anxieties and culture barriers and uncertainty about their language skills.

But even though I had previously inquired in multiple places about help, nobody at the Employment Bureau had been empowered to tell me about the existence of this department, which I gather you get sent to only with the referral of a psychologist or psychiatrist? That's where the representative came from who was at the the meeting with my psychologist I mentioned, and he immediately put in a request to have me transferred to that department. I got a new caseworker from there who was calm, friendly, brisk, and reassuring. She said that if I hope to work arranging the little showrooms at Ikea there's a certification for that (Somistaja, a window dresser/display maker) which depends on the certification for being a salesperson.

So she sent me to the Red Cross's thrift store, Kontti, which is staffed with students, volunteers, work practicants and people eligible for the thing where social security reimburses the employer for their salary. So it's almost entirely charity, with most of the proceeds going to the Red Cross's various projects in Finland (50%) and abroad (25%), plus it's very diverse and friendly and generally a pretty nice place. Their reputation as a training ground for retail and warehouse workers who then move on to employment elsewhere is so good, in fact, that they are fairly selective with their new trainees - the big boss told us in our introduction on Tuesday that our group of 8 represented over 100 applicants over a couple of months, which is like... a Harvard-like acceptance rate. (The Swedish language got me in the door here, I'm pretty sure: EVERYBODY who hears that I'm interested in retail and speak fluent-ish Swedish gets excited, because there's a huge demand for that skill due to the legal and practical requirement for stores to have someone who can speak it on hand - there aren't really many Swedish monolinguals around, but there are still a few.) You can also get salesperson certification on the job there, as well as a long list of other certifications - the lady who was supervising me and my fellow new-cashier trainees yesterday is on the verge of finishing one in business admin. (Hence why it was my caseworker's first choice.)

We spent the first couple of days on the warehouse side, where the donations are processed, sorted and priced, and it has to be seen to be believed. It's just such an unbelievable quantity of stuff. The area around the station where the bags are emptied and unpacked is just like something out of a movie, walls made out of racks and shelves and carts packed solid with bags of donated stuff waiting to be opened - cases four feet deep and six feet tall, banana boxes towering up towards the warehouse ceiling, and an overflow area with just a five or six foot high mountain of bags just... piled against the wall like a heap of snow. But that's only the beginning of the journey, because once they're unpacked and sent to the proper departments there's yet more sorting to do. The front half of the warehouse is also packed with racks, crates, shelves and bins of objects on their way to the store front, so it's a bit like an antique mall except cleaner - one little room of china, one little room of books, one little room of paintings, one little room of toys, one little room of electronics - where the walls between them are once again made of storage packed solid on both sides with stuff. Walking in for the first time felt a bit like, I don't know, visiting Willy Wonka's factory, or one of those quaint little Museums of Curiosities.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (workout)
So I saw a remark on Pinboard that perfectly encapsulated my sense of 'WHY' when reading a lot of old fandom fic, and also about my own teeniefic: "hilariously unsexy".

"Hilariously unsexy" certainly doesn't cover everything unique about old fandoms or teeniefic; it just captured the thought that had been on the tip of my tongue as well after reading a lot of old Legolas/Gimli fic (and also the problem with the ones I wrote) (not ALL Legolas/Gimli by any means, just a lot of it).

Obviously, writing sex isn't the only thing that gets better about one's writing with practice, but I started thinking about how that is true of all my teeniefic. Trying to write better sex is, I think, something many of us have struggled with, and I often got hung up at that bit in a story and went back to look at my older ones over the years, trying to analyze which bits I'd done right and wrong. So while it wasn't a straight upward trend in my own eyes - there are some I liked better and some I hate completely - in general, it got better.

I was musing that I actually remember the first time I read many of the stories that now appear to have glaring weaknesses in the sex sections, and I clearly remember liking them or loving them at the time. I remember finding them hot at the time.

"So in my defense, I also genuinely liked reading hilariously unsexy sex at the time," I mused.

But it wasn't that. It wasn't like I thought, "I'm going to read some sexy sex and I love that. Now I'm going to read unsexy sex and I like that too." (Not ruling that out. I do it sometimes. Getting the giggles isn't necessarily a detriment.)

Ultimately I realized that at the time, I couldn't tell the difference between sexy and hilariously unsexy sex scenes (has the word 'sex' lost all meaning for anyone else or should I type it a few more times?). I'm not sure it actually occurred to me that the world contained both of those things. I literally could discern no difference among sex scenes; they were essentially all the same to me, although of course, sometimes I'd like one better or worse, and sometimes I wouldn't like one, but that was usually a matter of squicks or wandering bodyparts or unreadable punctuation - certainly not a matter of unsexiness.

And then I realized something else. The reason the sex scenes in slash mostly all seemed quite sexy to me was that in comparison to the sex scenes I'd been exposed to until that point, they were. Read more... )

Even sex that is hilariously unsexy by fandom standards is usually sexier than the average published sex scene.

Only after reading tons of slash, for a long time, did the shapes of 'good' and 'bad' emerge from the mist. It was sort of the way I learned to distinguish between Swedish and Finnish vowel sounds that don't exist (or are grouped together as only one sound) in English. It took a lot of listening for that, just as it took a lot of reading during which 'unsexy' and 'sexy' sex writing became clearer and clearer.

And now, of course, the difference between "yö" and "öy", and between the various sounds covered in Swedish by Å, O, and U, seem blindingly obvious, just as bad sex writing does, but I can still clearly remember when it just sounded like Wax and my teacher were repeating the same exact sound over and over again and expecting me to hear the difference, like Lina's diction coach in Singin' in the Rain.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (murder hurts more)
(I didn't get around to posting about this extremely irritating day until yesterday, when I posted it spontaneously on Tumblr in response to a post about gender-neutral toy marketing in Sweden, where someone mistakenly stated that Swedish doesn't have gendered pronouns and my wife corrected them. I thought I'd repost it for posterity and because it relates to the ongoing narrative of my Finnish class adventures.)

[personal profile] waxjism: It's Finnish that doesn't have gendered pronouns (all people are hän). Swedish has "han" and "hon".1

That said, that magical language quirk has not stopped gender essentialism from hanging around like a bad smell. Sweden is working much harder on that shit.

Finnish doesn't have gendered pronouns but it has exercises like this one I had to participate in last Thursday meant to practice the approximately 1002 different forms of the plural partitive (one of several types of objective) case: 'What are women like, and what are men like?' (The point is to make a list of adjectives in plural partitive form.)

CLASSMATE: Women are beautiful! Men are handsome!3

CLASSMATE: Women are short!

OTHER CLASSMATE: No they're not!

ME: Women are adult people.

CLASSMATE: Oh, you mean 'adulter'! Women are adulter than men!

ME: No, I don't mean that. That is not true. Men are also adult people.

CLASSMATE: Right, not all, just most women. Men are more childish!

ME: No, I don't mean that. That is not true. But! Women ARE paid less money for the same work.

TEACHER: That's true! The 'women's euro' - 80 cents. [...] Right then, what are men like?

CLASSMATES: Strong! Tall! Funny? Handsome.

ME: They're more violent, especially towards their own wives, than women are, and also in Finland, they're more violent towards their wives than in many other European countries.

CLASSMATE: I don't think so!

ME: Yes, they are.

TEACHER: Is that true, did you read it somewhere?

ME: Yes, in a sociology course at the university, 'Gender and Sexuality in the Nordic Countries.'

TEACHER: Oh I see! Actually, that makes sense: I remember that there was a lot of domestic violence in Finland when I was a child.

CLASSMATE: Probably the explanation for what you read was that nowadays Finland has many immigrants from different countries, like Africa, but the police statistics can't say which group is which.

ME: No, that's not true. They can say. It's Finnish men.

TEACHER: Yeah, it wouldn't be new immigrants; it's Finnish culture. Because I remember it was already the case a long time ago, when I was young.

ME: Finns are more depressed too.

So basically I'm the one that's always killing the mood with angry feminist opinions.


TEACHER: What doesn't a little girl need?


ME: Over 100 pink toys.

Footnotes )
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (tiny small swimwear)

That's when you realize having a pet isn't that simple. "Polly wanna lawyer!"

...Not least because I always picture an avocado in a suit.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (medicine is the best medicine)
FUN FACTS! Did you know that anti-depressant prescriptions expire exactly 1 year after they're written? I didn't!

Usually you would never have reason to find this out. "How on Earth, Cim, could this come to happen to you?" you might be saying, especially if you have my experience of the withdrawal symptoms from an SSRI. Well, dear reader, it basically happened like this!

  1. From the time I first moved to Finland I was a student, and students get better public healthcare than regular members of the public.

  2. In summer 2008 I dropped out of school and had to stop seeing my psychiatrist. He told me that the waiting lists to see a public doctor are quite long. He gave me an extra-long prescription to make sure I didn't run out before I got in to see a doctor.

  3. This prescription lasted easily until the following January, when I made an appointment with a GP. I saw her in March 2009, at which point my extra-long prescription had nearly run out.

  4. The GP agreed that since I was doing well on my current prescription, but still needed it on a day-to-day basis, she would write another scrip for it without immediately putting me on the psychiatrist-waiting list. She said to go ahead and use up the rest of the old scrip before hers, which she wrote for 6 months.

  5. Because I am an airhead and my former -iatrist would write me a new paper scrip whenever he asked if I had plenty left and I said "I'm not sure, I might be almost out", I subsequently discovered three or four paper scrips with one or two fills left on them from him. And since anytime you see a GP it's a game of Russian Psychoactive Drugs Roulette whether they will try to tell you that you "shouldn't continue to need an SSRI indefinitely"... I used all of them up before I filled the GP's scrip for the first time. That was in September 2009.

  6. Because I am an airhead with a wacky sleep schedule I frequently go 24-36 hours before I remember to take my psychoactive drugs (usually thanks to the onset of withdrawal, yay!). So I only ran out last Monday.

I had already gone without a little longer than usual when I got Wax to the pharmacy with me (getting 100 pills at once still costs €75 or something and I didn't have that in my account) on Wednesday for my last 6-month refill. So I was unmedicated when I encountered in the person of the pharmacist, whose English sucked by the way, a Rude Angry-Glaring Unhelpful Person. (This is all too common in Finland.) Her method of informing us that we can't has medicine was a) too long, b) delivered partly in angry Finnish over my head to Wax, and c) confusing.

So I've been dealing with a lot more background anxiety over this (and the fact that I now have to sign up for the psychiatrist-waiting list) and also rediscovering the joy of My Brain Without SSRIs: Frequent food cravings! Slightly increased sex drive! The black spiral of "I am worthless" thoughts! Periodic crying jags, tears welling up whenever anyone raises their voice! Yeah, I haven't really missed it.

When I was trying to talk to someone in the public healthcare system about getting my medication back yesterday, I accidentally dialed the health center's switchboard instead of receptionist (mainly due to confusing design of the website, but also my confusion because I've never before encountered a doctor's office where the switchboard was anyone other than the receptionist... or at least not where they had a website, but the number for patients to call was not clearly displayed/labeled), and the switchboard lady didn't speak English or Swedish (whatever, but you actually are legally guaranteed service in Swedish from any branch of the government) and was equally as rude as the pharmacist to Wax, once Wax took the phone from me. However, when I dialed the 24-hour Advice From A Nurse hotline in exasperation because I couldn't figure out how to get my GP's receptionist, the nurse was INCREDIBLY helpful (she made the appointment for me), and also sweet.

This caused me and Wax to reflect on how Finland, being a country utterly without the concept of customer service, basically has 2 kinds of people in customer service:

  1. The people who should never, ever be allowed to answer the phone (possibly including their OWN phone) because they treat every conversation as an armed battle in which the other person, by speaking to them, has been the aggressor, and is probably fighting dirty. Everything you say to these people is received with an air of surprisedly outraged hostility, as if you've offended them not just egregiously but so unprecedentedly that they're still having trouble wrapping their brain around it. These people are frequently cashiers and bus drivers, but there are a surprising number of them in the human resources industry.

  2. The people who are genuinely nice, so their helpfulness is quite unlike the helpfulness you get from an American who is good at customer service. There's something earnest, never rehearsed about their helpfulness, because it springs not from any kind of training, but from actual niceness. I've talked to plenty of Americans in customer service who WERE genuinely nice (counting among them quite a few nurses and pharmacists), but the Finnish ones have a charming naïvete of approach because they've had to reinvent the Wheel of Polite Assistance.

...that's where my normally-sort-of-daily posts went. Hopefully your regularly scheduled programming will be returning soon.

PS: I'm totally making that shirt that says "Medicine Is the Best Medicine" now. Fuck yes.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (tiny small swimwear)
Oh, I forgot to tell you guys last week that the hot recurring lecturer (expert field: special ed) from my course revealed last week that she votes SFP (Svenska FolkPartiet = Swedish-speaking Finns' minority language group advocacy party).

I consider myself part of this minority (albeit by marriage), but the problem with SFP in politics is that it doesn't confine itself to language advocacy, but takes stance on a lot of other issues ... and overall is a fairly conservative party, with most of its support being aging and rural, while the biggest and most active segment of the Swedish-speaking minority moves towards bilingualism and political involvement on other issues. I'd never cast a vote for a party so socially conservative, a party that's all "Oh sure, nuclear power is maybe bad, and sure, we have the money and ideal situation for setting up renewable wind energy on the coast but that might spoil the view from my summer home, and also, I hate immigrants". (The party leader, Stefan Wallin, is a big dicksmack too, as certain recent attempts at suppressing journalists show.)

So as soon as she comes out as a supporter of this asshole party - okay, I make allowances for genuinely old people, like previous generations, just the way I do for their inability to grasp the internet, but not for someone less than 10 years Wax's senior. She can't be much past 40 if that. Anyway, she comes out as SFP in passing last week and just ruins my night.

The rest of the lecture was taken up with internal musing on the unfairness of the universe: Why so hot, yet so, so wrong, hot lecturer? Losing all respect for you will even probably kill some of my enjoyment of your charming red wooden clogs.

Wooden clogs by Torpatoffeln (Swedish) and Sanita (Danish), two of the biggest manufacturers thereof; these are the Nordic equivalent of flip-flops, garden shoes, and indoor shoes for winter, to be changed into when you leave your snow-crusted boots at the door.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (i <3 punctuation)
I forgot to post when, a couple of weeks ago, our local1 paper reached New Lows in Headline-Writing, which is saying quite a bit for the worst source of headlines I have ever seen, with the following lead front-page headline:

Suicide among youth upsetting
(Självmord bland unga oroar)

O RLY? You don't say.

You might think this is the opposite of a human interest story and skip the whole thing, which would presumably be presenting the results of some sort of study, from the headline. But in fact, the headline is worse than it looks at first glance because it doesn't actually convey what the article is about. In fact, it was concerned with current events - a few particular recent teen suicides in Finland.

1. Hufvudstadsbladet is the main Finland-wide Swedish-language newspaper, so most of the "local" news is concerned with the Helsinki area. However, the total Swedish-speaking population of the country is in the 200 000 s, so "local" is still rather accurate. Swedish Finns themselves call their community "the duck pond" (the Finns are the surrounding pigeons)(Hufvudstadsbladet had a pretty brilliant series of billboards a few years ago with a little yellow rubber duck in the middle of a crowd of grey pigeons with a voice bubble saying "Is there anybody here who speaks Swedish?").
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (winter)
We went to see the city's St Lucia procession from the cathedral to the carriage this evening with our peeps Chi and Bell. I have never seen Lucia before, except the top of the head of a Lucia at the Old Apothecary Museum two years ago.


st lucia dagen 13 december 2009 åbo domkyrka, finlandst lucia dagen 13 december 2009 åbo domkyrka, finland
st lucia dagen 13 december 2009 åbo domkyrka, finland

It was fucking freezing cold (okay, it was only like -1°C, but we weren't dressed quite warmly enough) and they lied and said Lucia would come out at 5:30, so we left the Christmas market across the street early and stood for a really long time, bored and freezing and watching dogs and children and their antics. Lucia's carriage arrived like 20 minutes before Lucia herself, and trotted around the square to great effect, where it was met by another tiny carriage carrying Santa, and pulled by a single tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny VERY BAD Shetland pony which was basically being an asshole, hilariously, for the rest of the wait. It kept trying to eat its handler's reflective jacket and bouncing around and generally acting like the Shetland pony version of Frank Iero. When trying to get a picture of it (I ultimately failed), I accidentally took a picture of a Boxer that someone had brought instead because they were the same size and color. So I leave it to your imagination, but here is a Shetland pony from Wikipedia:

([personal profile] waxjism: That's kind of what he looked like, only shaggier. And badder.)

more pictures, bigger versions )
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (i <3 punctuation)
[personal profile] cimorene: You know what would be hilarious? If someone would set kent lyrics to Max Martin music.
[personal profile] waxjism: That would just sound like Fall Out Boy.

LOL foreverrrr.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (snille och smak)
[Wax is chatting with her mom]

Wax: What's responsibility in Swedish?
Cim: Själv... för... svar?
Wax: ^_~ No!
Cim: No... right. Um. Well, something with svar!
Wax: ANsvar!
Cim: Ansvar! Right!

One of us is a native speaker, folks. And IT AIN'T ME.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (tiny small swimwear)
Last night at midnight I was coming back from walking the dog and there was a flock of drunk Swedish-speaking Finns in the entry and then the elevator arrived crowded with more drunk Swedish Finns. And from within the elevator, behind the people shuffling drunkenly out, then I heard in Swedish this guy go,

"GOOD LORD." Then he shuffled out staring fixedly down at Perry (funny b/c he was so tall) and intoned theatrically, "It's a dog."

In Swedish, this speech is "HERREGUD. Det är en hund."

Thus my icon. It was classic.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (snille och smak)
Today [ profile] bluesbell and I took each other shopping. See, I am in the pre-shopping phase of getting a nice cocktail-formal dress for Wax to wear at my cousin's (and any other) wedding. I can't leave her to do it, because she just won't; and shopping with her is difficult or impossible because she gets bored and wants to quit after an incredibly short time. So Bell took me to Element, an overpriced preppy boutique selling more of the same United Colors of Benetton/Gant/posh department store shit, except when we walked in, there were actually three women including a clerk conversing fluently in Swedish, and in the back room two actual Swedish women from Sweden. "I think we've accidentally come into a Swedish-Speaking Better Folk shop," I whispered to Bell, and she said she knew that.

But wow! Because I have never been to such a place outside of the Swedish Club. "Swedish Speaking Better Folk" is a Finnish-language phrase for a somewhat racist Finnish stereotype against Swedish-speaking Finns - that they're all rich, spoiled country club brats. Statistically this is not true of the majority of Swedish-speaking Finns at all, only of a slightly higher proportion than Finns (a few percentage points). The vast majority of the snobby upper class in Finland is Finnish-speaking: most of the leading families have Swedish and Finnish-speaking branches. So, for example, when [ profile] shiroi_chi says that she doesn't go into posh department store Stockmann because it's a Swedish-speaker store, this impression is false; the store is a big, country-wide chain and the vast majority of its employees and customers are Finnish-speaking. It wouldn't even be possible for a store to become that big subsisting primarily on Swedish-speaking customers. But evidently it was our lucky day to catch the shop on a day when someone was visiting from Sweden, and apparently at least one of the employees was a Swedish-speaker. I suppose that for a boutique it actually would be possible to remain kind of part of the ghetto...
cimorene: A vintage nouveau illustration of a reclining woman embracing the enormous head of a dragon (love)
Another version of the pronoun game is the "life-partner" game. IE, what do you call yours?

When Wax and I first hooked up, I struggled a lot more with this. It's not just a matter of the pronoun game: I didn't want to call her my "girlfriend" to people who already knew about her, or who at least knew that I was gay, either. It's less to do with pronouns in this case and more to do with my lack of satisfaction with the available terms.

Our society has a surprisingly limited range of formal, semi-formal, and business-casual terms for one's life partner. In American English it's pretty much "husband/wife" or "girlfriend/boyfriend". There's also the word "partner", which fits into any setting besides legal documentation with approximately the ease of a bull in a china shop.

My grandfather and step-grandmother, after cohabiting since before my dad even graduated from college, only got married a few years ago. At that point they'd been together over twenty years, and they only bothered with the legal formality because it significantly simplified some of the legal papers and things they needed on retiring and moving halfway across the country. For most of my life, I was forced to play the life-partner game ON BEHALF OF MY GRANDFATHER. My choices were "My grandpa's girlfriend", "My grandpa's common-law wife", or "My grandfather's, well, she's like his second wife, except they're not married, but they've been together for twenty years." Seriously, modern conversational English? Seriously?

My grandpa and step-grandma could afford to ignore it because they were both employed full-time and owned their house, but the fact is that in America, there's a substantial financial incentive to wed, especially if you have children, in the form of tax breaks. That's not the case in the Northern European welfare states (our model is different from the UK's - it's not European but Northern European here): here are details but in short, there is little to no short-term legal or financial incentive/benefit to marriage above common-law cohabitation. )

Across the US and Western Europe, divorce rates have been increasing for decades. I think it's something above a third of marriages that end in divorce, right? There's significant sociological research on this subject. And marriage rates have fallen sharply. In the EU even more than the US, cohabitation is gaining substantial ground on marriage. Many heterosexual couples forego the formality entirely, and even if they don't, several years of cohabitation prior to marriage is the growing norm. It's been the subject of a memorable episode a few years ago of the US National Public Radio show "A Way with Words", where "language experts" (writer/journalists, I think they actually were, although one of the new hosts is a linguist) discuss modern language issues with guests and call-ins: these are modern heterosexual US yuppies struggling for a graceful way to say "cohabiting partner" in conversation.

The Scandinavian tongues don't have these problems. Casual Swedish not only tends towards the expressions "my man/woman" and "my spouse/partner", it also contains the sexuality- and gender-neutral noun "cohabitor" (that's a literal translation of sambo which, however, specifically refers to a cohabiting partner, never a roommate). (Finnish actually only has only one pronoun for 'he/she', requiring you to go out of your way a bit to specify gender, which causes some hilarity sometimes, like when Wax kept trying to come out to her clueless work acquaintance a few years ago who just couldn't get that I wasn't a dude.)

Now, there are dialects that allow at least for synonyms for "girlfriend/boyfriend" like "boo", which Wax and I use frequently. There are outmoded expressions like "gentleman friend" (which I think I saw Miss Manners advocate recently) and "better half", which I currently favour ironically. None of these are appropriate for, uh, business-casual or formal occasions, however. They won't do for a conversation with your boss or an interview at the Employment Bureau. In Finland, where "partner" is understood by both Finns and Swedish-speaking Finns as the English translation of the Finnish and Swedish terms they're familiar with, I need feel no compunction other than the aesthetic. I know, at least, that it won't introduce social awkwardness, and that for purposes of employment, or interaction with the government, I don't have to play the pronoun game because I have legal equality.

But I think part of the problem is that "partner" can still be ambiguous in English, depending on the context. While it is recognisable as shorthand for "life partner", we've all read the buddy-cop slash fics where it's not clear whether they're professional or personal partners in some conversation or other. (This is in fact the foundation of the buddy cop genre, but a) I digress and b) we all knew that, anyway.) But "life partner" sounds twee in a candle-lighting manner - like an artificially-constructed euphemism. At least "my other half" (and "my better half", which is probably a playful or inexcusably sappy take-off of the former expression) seems to more accurately convey the weight of a life-partnership, but its flowery connotations can't be fully stripped away: it's fit for playful and ironic usage, or possibly if you really like purple prose and can keep a straight face through it for romantic usage (see the other half of his soul), but it's not really fit for all casual conversations, because you don't always want to introduce irony or humour when you're talking about your life-partner. And I guess the solution in realistic terms of language change would just be to claim "partner" by making the usage of it so widespread that it took the place of "sambo" in Swedish, but since its other uses are hardly going to die out... I don't know: I don't like it. On the other hand, I can hardly advocate for "boo". I mean, I could, but there's no way that's going to happen.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (murder hurts more)
Last time on bureaucracy fail theatre, I had a Bosslady who wanted to take me as an intern in the "work practice" program (employer accepts unqualified workers for on-the-job training & doesn't have to pay them, the government gives the workers unemployment). I went to the unemplyment office with all the necessary paperwork, having been cautioned by Bosslady that depending on who I talked to, they might be difficult.

That was more than a month ago. Obviously at the height of Finland's biggest memorable unemployment crisis, it's important that people who have already found work practice positions should have to wait as long as people who need actual help.

The purpose of work practice is either

  1. As explained by the "No U Cant Has Job" camp: to find out whether you want a particular job, sort of like a test drive, so you can't have work practice for your former employers: you have already driven that car!

  2. or

  3. According to the website, the other camp, and logic: to find out whether a particular career or field is right for you, so that whether you can work somewhere depends on the commonsense difference between the case where a factory lays off its janitor and then wants to hire her back as a "work practice" gig, and the case where an adult who has worked as a substitute, oh, like, in some DAYCARE, is considering a permanent career change and wants more than a couple of weeks' experience on which to base the decision.

I had an argument prepared, but the caseworker didn't listen. In fact, she cut me off. Finnish people: they don't beat around the bush. So after a month of anxiety and depression I find my anxiety and depression... completely justified because I really can't go back to my dream job. Bosslady can't afford to hire another employee.

The caseworker was brisk and helpful about all kinds of other stuff, like the 20 pages I have to fill out to elaborate on the fact that I do freelance work but it does not exceed the minumum income for which you get taxed; the 20 pages to elaborate on how I am no longer in school because I QUIT; what kind of work I was thinking about (eg, the job that I have explained was the entire reason I went there); and whether I wanted to try work practice (idk, it's only the entire reason I came). And since I am interested in work practice - great! All I have to do is find a daycare to do the work practice at, that's fine (so it's fine for me to practice the exact job description, as long as I'm working for a different boss. AKA, you can work anywhere where they don't want you! That was the only English daycare in town.)

Aside from soliciting positions in Swedish daycares, she thinks my first item of business should be to learn Finnish (except this time hopefully it will stick! Maybe it will be for more than 1 hour a week and the teacher won't hate all students, thus inspiring in me a Pavlovian anxiety-response to the act of studying Finnish - you think? It could happen). The unemployment bureau offers their own, in-house Finnish courses! And even though they have a long waiting list they have no idea when the next one will be... but you can't take one from an alternate source that might have an actual schedule without your hypothetical unemployment benefits being cut off (mine don't start for 7 months anyway).

ETA: Besides not having the two twenty-page questionnaires available in English even though she is in the International Office (...), they don't even have them in Swedish, which is actually illegal in Finland. Two official languages? Hi, Finland! I'm the Swedish language! You contain 200,000 native speakers of me! You might recognise me because I've been in these parts SINCE BEFORE OLD GERMANIC TURNED INTO OLD NORSE.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (WHAT?)
I still have a cold. Last night I importuned Wax to make me some instant cauliflower soup, and then was basically unable to taste it, so it was like a gradually cooling gelatinous kind of... slimy... thing... and it ended up kind of gross and I threw the remainder of it away this morning.

Last night after translating the text from about 50 pages of graphs, I suddenly realised that "Ing." didn't stand for "Ingen" (No, none) as I had thought because that made no sense. I scoured Wikipedia and Google and finally went through all the Ing- words in Wax's dictionary to no avail. ENGINEERS. They write their reports just as if nobody but them is ever going to read them and send them off to be translated by someone who doesn't actually know that much about their particular sort of jargon (I mean, steam turbines, it's a slightly specialised area). I finally left the "Ing." there, just like the other Mystery Acronyms and Abbreviations, and the non-Swedish-speaking engineers who are doubtless going to peruse it at the other end can worry about it. I do feel a bit guilty, though. But at least I'm finished! I'll let Brother Windows say it:

Oh, and one more thing. Our latest Threadless order (Gay Pride and Stabby McKnife) hasn't even arrived yet so I guess I can't order this new t-shirt that's made of awesome yet: Identifying Flying Objects. (STEALTH BOMBER! Flying carpet! Lost Boy!)
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (doing stuff for other people)
That time that I texted Mece that I was a few house lice (lite hemlöss) when I meant to text him that I was a bit homeless (lite hemlös).
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (o noes)
1. The Österbotten accent sounds weirdly like Finnish-Swedish crossed with Norwegian, the cadence and melody. It's very syncopated compared with the ordinary dialect spoken by [ profile] wax_jism's family and I find my brother-outlaw's (affianced) brother-in-law Kim practically incomprehensible when he's, uh, talking normally and not, like, deliberately enunciating like, for talking to the babies.

2. Yesterday Wax bought the wrong kind of memory for her computer. I still have only 1 gig so she said we might as well put it in my box. "I don't really need any more memory," I said dubiously, but she was like, "You can always use more memory," and hey, 2gb is kind of general standard even for LAPTOPS now, so. I put it in. But when I closed the box back up... my processor wouldn't start. Since the only thing besides the memory chip that was touched/changed in any way were the power supply cables, this is stressful and utterly baffling: the power source and processor fans start, the motherboard LEDs come on, but the processor doesn't start and neither does the HD (and we checked/jiggled everything, yes, many times). So... hopefully Brother Linux will be coming to take a look at that tomorrow?

3. While stressing over that I decided to just take the Proofreading Job That Pissed Me The Fuck Off with me to Brother Windows's place today for a big 6-adult babysitting party (it's much more relaxing for each individual adult that way, trust me. Plus Wax doesn't really do much if any actual work with any of the actual children, she was just tagging along for the most part). And so we plugged Clem the FrankenComp into our new modem (which isn't broken, so you know... WIN) and... discovered that while I had the internet I didn't have access to the LAN and couldn't send the proofing files from there to the laptop! I ended up emailing them to myself, but then we couldn't get into the network from Brother Windows's place anyway.

4. I picked up sort of at random one of Kathy Reichs's mystery novels, the ones that Bones is based on, because I needed a book suddenly and it seemed like the best option in the bookstore that I didn't already own a copy of at home. And okay, I mean, she's got the expertise for providing the background information for Bones, but it kind of saddens me deeply that Reichs has ever been an International #1 Bestseller. Granted her heroine is less... annoying than Patricia Cornwell's surreally neurotic wishy-washy emo twit, but that's not really hard to manage, is it? And she's definitely afflicted with that "I'm so down to earth that the only makeup I wear is MASCARA!!! And I go RUNNING, and I HAVE NO ILLUSIONS about my own attractiveness so you see I am SUPER-REALISTIC, yet all these men are kind of fighting over me and now plz to watch me waffle about them for the next four books"... Hard-Boiled Female Investigator Syndrome. Yet this pales in comparison to the writing, or lack thereof. Oh man, the one-word sentences. So many sentence fragments! A friend offered I stared into his eyes. Brown. as an example of the typical One Word Sentence, but this book provided me a new favourite example: "Yes?" Icy. She also has a methodical-not-natural writer's inherent stiffness and jerkiness of pacing, with bizarrely detailed step-by-step descriptions of the procedures involved in such relevant tasks as taking a shower, making a sandwich, or sitting on a countertop, while skimming over potentially interesting or relevant information such as the investigation. Some of the latter skimming is misguided coyness as opposed to cluelessness ("I couldn't believe my eyes. Read again. And again. This was big. Huge. Colossal. Definitely surprising. It was a big piece of news. You, the reader, would definitely want to know it. Too bad. Next chapter, suckah!"). It's not rare for me to read to the end of mediocre writing of this type, and Reichs's plotting is far better than most, but you know, usually I haven't paid 10 bucks for the priviledge...
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Wax's jaw-swelling has gone down. Now a big chunk of her face is chartreuse.

I went to Ikea with [ profile] shiroi_chi, back from summer in her hometown ♥! I have been there before but she had not! And we admired EVERYTHING but bought very, very little. (Picture frames, heart- and puzzle-piece icecube moulds; French press, scarf organiser.) Chi resisting the call of a life size plushie soccer ball was a close call, though.

our translayshun agency dramaz, let us show u them )

Also, I think one of our agency project managers is an android. His responses just aren't human. Even the Terminator can manage to answer direct addresses instead of ignoring them stolidly for an hour before saying something else that's both incomprehensible and unrelated. And also he just sucks.

Can I plz haz dis shiny new laptop device status: still backordered. D:

I can has headache.

It's official: msn messenger is fucked! At least with Pidgin 2.4.3 on Kubuntu Hardy!

When Wax's peeps exclaimed "Suck!" (the pronunciation is a bit different) in Swedish, I used to think they were just pronouncing 'suck' like that, but then I realised that it actually means "sigh".
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (;))
A very special Dinosaur Comic strip, via [ profile] languagelog, that could be really useful to the way members of my mother's family and my spouse's family tell stories and jokes, if they absorbed it! He's dead now. These maxims are pretty useful though! Check out the whole post from [ profile] languagelog: In real life he is a charmer, of course.

In other news, I've been proofing all morning for a friendly Australian resident in Stockholm who, like me, has taken up translating Swedish into English as a side supply of cash. She seems pretty cool, but she's making the kind of mistakes I made in my school assignments a couple of years ago. ("It's not about hugs... it's about oral sex.") And lediga doesn't mean relaxing, it means available or free. Would've been pretty funny if the translation had gone out like that... to Thailand where they're probably planning to translate it from English again using Babelfish or something. Actually, that sounds awesome. *____*
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (i am the others)

Seat covers are striped and checked cotton dishtowels from Casa Stockmann

I finished reupholstering the kitchen chairs last week. But I had this funny conversation about it when I tried to tell my mother-outlaw:

Cim: Jag var just och satt nya - er, uh - tapetter på köksstolarna.
Wax's mom: ...Var?
Cim: På köksstolarna?
Wax's mom: Uh... okeeeeeeeeeeej.
[ § § § ]

Cim: Hey, does 'tapetter' mean upholstery?
Wax: No, it means wallpaper.
Cim: Um... oops. The other day I accidentally told your mom I was putting new wallpaper on the kitchen chairs. No wonder she seemed confused...
Wax: What'd she say?
Cim: She asked me to repeat myself but then I did and she was just like 'okaaaayyyy...'
Wax: Knowing you, she probably thought you were using wallpaper.
Cim: How do you say upholstery, anyway?
Wax: Just cloth, I guess, but 'tapisserare' is an upholsterer.


cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)


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