That’s the second time in a month I’ve crossed Helsinki’s borders! I obviously need to vary my destinations. Nah, I had to be here for an operation: a bit of surgery that’s been two years in the making.
Coming here was hard. Not just because I can’t fit into an airplane-seat, but simply being in the country brings out a slight melancholy in me. Albeit everyone was glad to see me, and for once I felt welcome at my parents’ house.. Finland just doesn’t feel like home anymore.
I’m just a visitor now.
My life is elsewhere.
I got to chatting with this American soldier dude, after he forced a receipt on me that I left at the coffee shop. “You need to keep this, man!” I had heard this several times during my two week stay, so I finally asked him why. Why bother with these useless bits of paper?
“You might get fined by the finance police!”
“Haha yeah right. .. Wait. You’re serious?”
Apparently Italy has some sort of police force that could and will check if you actually bought what you carry out of the store. In short, this means they’re actually using the consumer as leverage to force the business owner to pay taxes.
I can see a Berlusconi-type twisted politician drooling over this concept as clever and practical.
.. which means the regular citizen will find it a bunch of fascist bullshit. Expect to see it implemented in Finland when they figure it out.
Anyway. I escaped the country without getting caught by the FINANCE POLICE.
Good fucking riddance.
Helsinki was pretty much as expected, although I would’ve liked to stay one more night. My original plan was to hurry back to Italy to get back to the workaway family, but now with that cancelled, there was no hurry. Which meant my time with a girl I’m quite fond of was limited to a mere couple of hours for no good reason. It was.. frustrating. Snuggling was interrupted.
Surgery went without complications, which was nice. No complicated aftermath with bullshit logistics needed. Only issue is my hand luggage, which I packed full of sanitary towels to use as bandages for the open wound in my crotch. As usual, they wanted to open the suitcase at Helsinki Vantaa airport. The customs lady didn’t even raise an eyebrow. I guess they’re used to seeing strange things in people’s carry-on.
Anyway, after a few episodes of Fast&Loud, and a ride in a tricked Audi owned by a friendly gearhead, I’m finally in Maribor, Slovenia. With a working internet connection. Finally. Maybe I can get some fucking work done for a change.
Yup, this’ll be my home for the next few months. It’ll give me a chance to catch up with my blog-business, and to chat up some local girls! It’s funny how everything turns stagnant and colourless without a constant female-spark.. Too bad my walking speed is somewhat limited right now by my crotchety condition, so it’s a penguin-type speedwalk all the way if I’m to catch a woman on the street!
As housekeeping news, I switched hosts over to wordpress.com. Blogger.com had a crap interface, horrible looking themery, Google’s weirdly intrusive terms and conditions, and an overall dated image. I just installed WordPress onto my business blog, so this was as good a time as any. All the previous posts are available here.
|Feel like an ass?|
Italy turned out to be a bust. I’ve been without internet for 2 weeks now, and my productivity has fallen to a tenth of what it was. Seriously. It takes hours to negotiate with the local public wifi for an available ip. Often to no avail.
Linux Mint threw a fit after eating up a misplaced update two days ago, and ended up needing a reinstall. With these third world internet connections, I only just got the system back up.
As a final insult, my phone has been dropping from networks because the Italian operators don’t seem to like roaming connections. It’s like the whole country is against my being here!
After a quick rehash of my situation, a few things became abundantly clear:
1. I need to get *the fuck out* of Italy.
2. I need my own space and a good internet connection.
3. I need to stay somewhat near Venice, to catch that flight to Miami in April.
So I had a chat with the mother of the family. While we could have a blast hanging out as adults, we agreed it’d be best if I take my leave from this babysitter role, which I’m clearly not suited for. I thought that’s fair, and the best decision at this stage, before we’re at each other’s throats!
|Lack of internet leaves time to catch up on Modern Family|
I thanked her for the opportunity. After all, it was a great experience. She thanked me for giving it my best. I think I might drop by some day, years from now, to say hello.
So. Chin up! I start looking through Croatian workaway-ads and airbnb-apartments. Something good, something not so good.. nothing excellent. Up the coastline and .. hey what’s this little country here?
Wait. How did I forget Slovenia? Gearheads live in Slovenia. Maribor is a big Alpine resort-town. I wonder what sort of leads I can pull towards Slovenia?
|Thanks for giving me fucking unstackable cups!|
Some 15 minutes of IRC-chat later, a couple of friends are welcoming me into their country with open arms, AND arrange this awesomely cute alpine villa-apartment in Maribor for me! Friends.. can’t wait to see some friends for a change. Some *peers*, even. I’m becoming a frickin’ social recluse in this dark age-village.
Budapest seems like a distant dream now.
Never again. I need to find out some way to make small cash. This workaway gig isn’t my thing at all. It’s a good thing Tim Ferriss and the 4 hour work week are keeping me motivated.
I’d tell you about all the lovely Italian girls I’ve been meeting, but honestly I’ve been so stuck up trying to find 15 minutes of working wifi a day that I haven’t had the energy to make any approaches.
What a rough week. What a rough two weeks, even! But alright, let’s focus on the positives:
1. I reached way past my comfort zone!
2. I got to try some Italian delicacies, like cheeses and pastas. The whole culture DOES make sense, when you slow down and take in the scenery for a while. Not my cuppa tea, though. Not now.
3. I’m learning tons. Making mistakes is part of the journey, and this was a giant learning experience.
I hope they find a better nanny.
This week I heard of an unlimited mobile data plan. Unlimited, meaning a 7GB data limit. But hey, at least it’s 100MBps. As if THAT would be the issue? What is this, the fucking dark ages?
It’s the first time in a week I’ve had a moment to myself, so I snuck out of my self inflicted prison to relax in Padova city. To get away from screaming kids and a mother undermining my reasoning and situational awareness at every turn. Not to mention the internet access that’s been restricted to limits that only a blind person without fingers would find sufficient.
Like, fuck you so much.
So a week ago, with a hangover of the ages, I’m making my way across Europe. In Copenhagen, somewhat shellshocked by the price of the meal I just had, I notice this incredibly hot, obviously Italian brunette doing her e-mail work and videochatting on her phone. She’s on the same connecting flight to Venice. With my hangover still in the “I wish I was dead”-phase, I’m pretty far from a playful mood. But after an hour of watching her from the corner of my eye, I realize I simply must do something. So when we finally land in Marco Polo, I gather whatever wits I have and catch up with her right at the exit.
“Hi. Uhh don’t take this the wrong way, but I just saw you back there. And you’re the hottest thing, like absolutely gorgeous. If I didn’t come to meet you now, I’d be kicking myself halfway to next week wondering about it. So hi, I’m Jay.”
She giggled and gladly took the compliment. Sadly she lived in Copenhagen and was in Italy only for a couple of days. We had a bit of a chat and agreed to meet if possible. I didn’t care if we never met. I’d overcome my fear and made someone smile that night.
So then I met my host family. A youthful Italian mother, a French father and two distinctly Italian looking small boys who spoke Italian and French fluently and learning English on the side. My job would be to speak English with the kids. Pretty impressive? Yeah, sure.
The next day my life in Italy started off with a bang, as we visited the local kiddie-rugby tournament the next morning. The smaller of the two was bored out of his mind and found throwing rocks into a nearby sewer a better use of his time.
I couldn’t help but relate. I’d rather watch paint dry than sports.
So we got to know each other while throwing rocks into a sewer. Although, to be completely fair, the rugby culture seems much more sport oriented than the ego-driven personal achievement bullshit I’m used to. So I guess I could give that a chance.
The week quickly passed with early mornings, fighting the kids to school, a few hours to myself doing whatever home improvement tasks needed doing, and fighting the kids outta school.
And the park.
The fucking park.
So after school we take the kids hand in hand to a nearby park to play around and be kids. Which is cool. But rather than being able to enjoy this little afternoon in the sun, I have to stand like a bodyguard and and follow the kids’ antics with hawk-like precision. Now, I don’t exactly mind that, the little guys need some supervising. But however carefully I stare at whatever the kids are doing, the mother finds something that could be watched more carefully, while she chats with the other Italian mothers who don’t speak English. Now I realize she’s a mother and mothers do this, but for fuck’s sake. I am a security guard with 3 years of experience watching people. Not to mention the 10+ years of experience reading people’s behaviour and anticipating actions. It’s incredible how fast those sorts of comments go from constructive into piercingly annoying.
I hate the fucking park.
So in the evening it’s a constant struggle to keep the kids happy. Then we have a struggle to brush their teeth and go to bed. And the mom keeps pointing out things I could do better.
And I’m exhausted by 9 pm.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m starting to like the little buggers. And the mother knows her kids and how she wants to raise them. But in some cases it just feels like she’s stirring the pot unnecessarily and causing a conflict where there needn’t be one.
On top of this, there’s the internet-debacle. Now let me get this straight. I don’t require much in life. In fact, my priorities can be summed up to four simple rules:
#1 Keep myself safe and healthy. This always comes first, no debate. No negotiation.
#2 Keep my friends and loved ones safe and healthy.
#3 Ensure my life goals are met. I’m on a mission to realize the life I want to live. Non-negotiable.
#4 If I have a chance, I help my friends and loved ones reach their life goals. I’ve learned not to force this on anyone, but I’ll take time to help if asked to.
Let’s focus on #3 for a second. My life goals at this point are: create a coaching business. Don’t get me wrong. This requires very little besides my own head. Namely a laptop and internet access. A constant and stable one. Not with some bullshit restriction of 1.44Mb/week only for text downloads. And the fucking patronizing attitude I run into. “Hey take a break and enjoy Italy for a while!” I got a fucking job to do here! You don’t tell a taxi driver to take a walk for a change, do you? More to the point, you don’t give a taxi driver a car that only goes 10 metres a day, now do ya? Eh? Eh?
So I want you to understand my full meaning when I express my incredible frustration of repeatedly running into ridiculous limitations and security measures against getting a data stream going. If this issue is not sorted, I will have to leave Italy. Simply put. Because if I can’t work on my goals, I might as well be sitting somewhere else in the world working a shit job.
This has been a bit of a rant, and it’s mostly because of this fucking flu and the internet-issue. Because at the end of the day, the mother is a cool person. We chat about saving the world and why capitalism is corrupted. And she cooks a wicked veggie-meal! Which means I need to put zero effort into eating healthy. She also completely symphatizes with my internet-issue and took time off her incredibly busy schedule to try and do something about it. I respect that.
The worst thing is, I feel lonely. I haven’t felt lonely since I left Finland, because there’s always been the city and the people. In Budapest I could just pop out and meet someone. Here I’m stuck in the middle of the countryside without internet.
There’s that word again, stuck. Stuck in my self-inflicted prison with no internet and no access to my peers.. My therapist would be proud. I’m finally understanding where this feeling comes from.
But it’s just been a week, so we’ll see how it goes. I just gave 2 euro to a lovely Jamaican for brightening up my day and making me a little bracelet thingie. Perhaps it’s not all as bad as it seems..
Maybe I’ll go find a glass of vino bianco and run into some cute Padovian brunette.