Friday, January 30, 2009

Q:ing and A:ing

I have been tagged by Reading the Signs (thank you, Signs), who is a wonderful friend and a BWIM (Blogger Whom I've Met), a poet and a scream, a multi-talent in many ways, but count she cannot, for she called this thing "Three Things About Me". I make it twenty-seven things and that's what you're getting. If you feel you're given too much information, feel most free to pick and choose three items in this post which you want to read.

(Man, this is really a bit unnerving, you know? For I haven't done a tag post in ever such a long while, and while I know it's totally unnecessary and probably even uncalled-for, tag posts always have me suffer a serious honesty-attack, so that I feel that I am somehow divinely required to disclose painfully exposing things about myself. Or at the very, very least, not lie. This feeling is not eased by the fact I took a day's break, and returned round about here. No, not one bit.)

Three jobs I have had in my life: My first job was at a tiny clothes store on the second (British first) floor of an old market hall (photo pinched from somewhere online, but nobody's personal site such as flickr or whatever).



I went to work in the morning, unlocked the shutters, decorated the place by hanging some items on the shop front, opened the shop, sold what I could, counted the till at the end of the day, took my wages - if memory serves, it was 15% of sales - locked up and went home. There were no lunch breaks or anything, but you could ask the shopkeeper at the stall opposite to keep an eye on your place for a bit while you nipped downstairs for a smoke. The owner was in his forties, I'd say, and I suppose he must have either had seamstresses working in a cellar for him, or have bought the stuff from somewhere. He would come to the shop unannounced and irregularly, and apart from having a go at me for doing the shop-front decoration not to his standard, would also grab my bottom and say inappropriate things. It was a sunny summer, the summer of 1982. I remember feeling very grown up. I would be fifteen in the autumn.

My second job was at a restaurant which was owned by a friend and her mother. The place was minute and totally lovely. It was the first of a string of waitressing jobs, and I was to work there, on and off, for a couple of years. I started out being totally terrible but landed up being pretty good. The place was on what is commonly agreed to be the prettiest street in Helsinki - Huvilakatu, "The Villa Street", beautifully illustrated here by French flickrist Dalbera whom I don't know from Adam but who hopefully won't mind me linking to his wonder picture. In later years, I moved away from Finland, I moved back to Finland, and my friend and I made contact again. Her mother had had a stroke and there was no more restauranteuring for either one of them. A place called La Petite Maison operates on the premises nowadays. They take online bookings, if you fancy eating there. I haven't, but the menu looks nice and I have meant to, for old times' sake, if nothing else.

My third job (and I realise these didn't have to be the three first jobs, alright? I have listed them that way through choice, and am lengthy because I can't help myself) was at the now-demolished, iconic Helsinki punk dump Lepakkoluola, where I sold tickets, manned the cloak room at overnight parties, cleaned toilets after overnight parties (the medical students' dos were the worst), sewed curtains for the back of the stage in the Black Room, played pinball and pool, saw bands, spent most of my spare time, and where I met and fell for the first of my great loves-I-couldn't-have and got too drunk on too many occasions, and generally wasted my youth and fresh beauty. I'm sure I received something in return. Experience? Tarnish? Memories?

Three shows that I watch: Right, I will certainly try to keep it shorter now - should be easy as I don't watch all that much TV (which this must surely refer to). I try never to miss an episode of House. Last summer I watched and greatly enjoyed a Russian ten-parter of Master and Margarita. With my younger son - in fact, because of my younger son, I sometimes watch atrociously dreadful shite. Too atrocious, in fact, to be named here.

Three places where I have lived: West Wales. Hawai'i. A small island, not unlike these, in the Sipoo archipelago, not that very far from Helsinki, which is also a place where I've lived. But only in the summers (the island).

Three places where I have been this week: At the opticians. In the sauna. In despair.

Three people who email me regularly: Three good people whom I care about in three different ways.

Three of my favourite foods: This is difficult. Let's just have three of my favourite ingredients, because I don't know what my favourite foods are, and ingredients is difficult enough. Food should not really be prepared without garlic, except maybe porridge and cake. Fresh basil and fresh coriander compete for the coveted Sexiest Herb status (coriander is currently winning, but basil has had its day, too). Wild forest tastes, like mushrooms and wild raspberries, satisfy the places other foods can't reach.

Three places where I’d rather be: Very difficult, this. By a sea which would feel like mine. Travelling on a train through somewhere beautiful and poignant, endlessly. In heaven.

Three friends I think will respond to this message: I'm sort of hoping that three people will read this and feel compelled, to do it, and will let me know that they are. In fact, I'm going to think very intently on three people - three specific people - and see whether my thought provocation works.

Three things I am looking forward to: Becoming someone else for a change. Growing. The return of the light, the light of the summer evenings and nights.

36 comments:

Reading the Signs said...

You are of course quite right in everything you say about moi (it's all about me!) especially the screaming and the not being able to count. But you should perhaps thank me for not asking you to do this one - and I might still, so (as a certain personage might say), watch it.

I am feeling expansive and generous so will not hold it against you that your 27 things seem, somehow, more interesting than mine. But hang on a minute, Sees - the opticians and sauna seem like cool (or necessary) places to go, but Despair is not a good town to visit, take the word of yer old mucker here - don't go back there, however much they clamour for your company. You've got, like, stuff to do, tellem from me (don't worry they know me there) and it's not a fun place to go.

And I don't know about the "becoming someone else" neither. Though I do kind of know, also. I've got to do that this weekend in order to endure the Mater's birthday bash. Have bought myself a new black dress, that should do it.

I'm agog to see who those three people are.

Anna MR said...

"More interesting", says she who used to be a Turkey Inseminator. I beg to differ (on the interestingness - not the inseminating).

Well yes, Despair is not necessarily a good town or a cool town, but somehow it is, well, a necessary town to nip over to, from time to time. A fucking wank of a place, not to mince my words, but familiar and and. No, I'll not get into it now.

But becoming someone else can be many things, and while I'm not sure entirely what I meant with it in this context, I certainly know I meant it and wanted it there. A new black dress? Congratulations and well done. I hope it balances the Mater-bash scales, and if it doesn't, buy another one, or something else that will.

And yes, dearest Inseminating the Turkeys, I'm pretty agogging myself. I have a feeling those three people may land up hiding behind the feeble excuse I didn't actually tag them so that they'd know it. Tsk. Excuses excuses excuses.

(OOPS. Clearly, I shouldn't have said that, what with the threat of That Tag hanging over me. I've been there, as you may already know, giving my feeble excuses. Ahem. Back to this comment, now, to the here and now. Yes.)

Mwahs in the meantime and thank you, for real, for tagging me. It was fun in the scary way.

Montag said...

3 places lived: by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...

3 foods loved: curry, curry, and curry...

shows: House!
I have become addicted to House!
Of course, it is somewhat vitiated for me, since I insist on interpreting Hugh Laurie through the filter of Bertie Wooster (whom he played, along with Stephen Fry as Jeeves).

Could have done without that Turkey reference. Shall look askance at all US & Canada Thanksgiving festivals henceforth.

I seem to remember a "tag" - an oddly comic name for what essentially is a curse - from the deep, dim past. You were involved in a ominous way. All very "film noir" in my memory.

Lose the despair thing. It does not become you. Find a diamond to wear, not some dark, black pearl.

Reading the Signs said...

Erm - hi Montag. Well the turkey reference was about moi you see (it's all about me!) so I felt I had to chime in. I feel the need (strange, strange) to point out at this juncture that I am of course fully aware that it is not all about me, or any of us. It is all about what it is all about. Things have come to a pretty pass, Montag, when I ramble incoherently in the comments of another's blog (though dear Ms FoMP is a gracious hostess). But what was I saying? Oh yes, the turkeys. I do not want you to get the wrong impression about me, I was young and innocent. I will never forget their - I was going to say faces, but that isn't the thing I won't forget. Forget that I said anything. And if you have a turkey at Thanksgiving or whenever, just make sure it comes from a happy turkey place where they all go round proudly gobbldegooing that Turkeys Are Doing It For Themselves.

Happy Groundhog day.

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, the most gorgeous WVL message yet, I think: nowinone. I don't know, but this seems to carry a sense of immediacy, optimism and - what is the word I am looking for? - integrity.

Yes, we do sometimes need to visit a town called Despair, but only with a return ticket, travelling via a town called Acceptance. Which clearly you know about.

The black dress worked a treat - but with a shiny orange top and amber beads, D of S cigs and white wine spritzers.

Mwah!

Montag said...

It is an interesting notion, Signs, to abscond with someone else's blog, and turn it to our own nefarious purposes.
I rather fancy it.
It reminds me of Monty Python's Crimson Assurance Ltd, where the assurance company goes rogue.

I have a good story about rural Quebec and Le Centre de l'Insemination Artificielle I shall have to tell soon.

There is another story about that dark hamlet (!?) of which you both speak, but I have to carefully consider whether I should write a post about it.

You both are like hyssop newly in bloom: aromatic and beautiful, and covered with fine hairs at the tips.
(sorry...that metaphor did not quite come out square.)

Reading the Signs said...

Listen Montag, I think that is a story we deserve to hear, and it does sound so much more elegant in French.

Of the dark hamlet also. I should not speak for the Icemaiden, but I would just hazard a guess that she might also appreciate (for one she is good at appreciating, for two she is artist by nature and therefore such stories are almost essential (though this could of course be mere projection on my part, but I ramble, sorry).

I'm fair swooning at the lovely description of us. Aren't you, Anna? Fair swooning? Just going to look up images of hyssop in bloom - and Monty P's Crimson Assurances.

Anna MR said...

Well yes absolutely, fair Reading the Hyssops, fair swooning exactly. For hyssop is not merely a fair herb with aromatic bloom (oh Montag, you know this, surely), for hyssop is the herb which protected the Jews from the Angel of Death (in the Exodus from Egypt). Oh yes it is, and it fair blows my mind to be hyssop, I must say. Apart from that - in itself no small merit for a beautiful yet humble herb - hyssop is only second to frankincense and myrrh in Biblical herbal mentions. For example, let's hear it from Psalm 51:7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Beautiful words in their own right, right enough, as I'm sure you'll agree, but there's more - Psalm 51, my dear friends, as you most likely know, being the one which begins with the words "Have mercy upon me, O God". Aka Miserere Mei, Deus. Which, as composed by Gregorio Allegri, is for my money the most beautiful sound sculpture created by man, something which will (and does) kill me, over and over again, with the woundingness of its beauty - that high note, oh God help me, just wrenches a sob of pain out of me every time. Just so that you can weep easily too, I've left you it to listen to under my name.

It is exchanges such as these, and the mind-blowingly fair-swooning intertextualities of everything, that just seem to make everything feel connected and linked with magic and worth the pain and and.

So yes, dear both, you are more than welcome to abscond with my blog, whenever you like, and turn it to your nefarious purposes. In fact, I rather insist that you keep doing so (while I obviously note with regret that I have been a crappy hostess for the past few days, in my silence). And Signs? Of course it's all about you. And Montag? Hurrahs all round, for you came and did the tag, you tag-virgin-no-longer, in a way, your way. Hurrah. Now get round to answering the rest of the questions, and tell us all about the French Canadian artificial inseminations, as well as The Tale of the Dark Hamlet.

Mwahs all round, okay? And I am aware I am leaving many a tasty thing unanswered, here, but I'm not sorry, it's because the Miserere hyssop thing fair swooned me.

xxx xxx

Navas said...

Well, you learn something every day (especially in the business I'm in). I never knew all that about hyssop, and I felt sure it ought to be mentioned by Shakespeare somewhere as they were big on herbs in those days. Indeed it crops up in Othello: "Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant
nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many, either to have it sterile
with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills."
So there.
And now to lower the tone a little bit, I also read it's good for chesty coughs.

I'm not even going to mention that dark place you dared to name. Thankfully it is not a place that I visit often and, judging by our record a very little while ago on this very blog, actually naming seems to tempt fate. I am in no hurry to go back there.

(Phew, I got through without a single exclamation mark!)(Oh....)

Reading the Signs said...

(just having a look to see what the WVLs are talking about here - spareyo and cosighth - well at least they are being civil). Your hyssop reflections fair blew me away, Icepoet.


Navas, be vigilant! For I myself can testify to the malignant power of the exclamation mark!!

Damnation, everyone is so intertextual around here. And me with a BA in Eng Lit and all - not trying to show off here, just saying, you know. But could I come up with a single reference? Could I bollocks. An awful word to end a comment with so I won't.

Anna MR said...

Naughty Navas, leave the exclamation marks where they belong - in that post Down Under. For verily, this place is dedicated to purification of the soul and of chesty coughs, yea, and none shalst here shout.

(I will tell you at some point how I'm single-handedly responsible for the recent death of Harold Pinter, too. Shhh. We don't want an official inquiry, for they would surely find me guilty.)

And Signs - one more intertextuality to make one prone for them weak. You know the way we were all obsessing a wee bit about Hallelujah, recently, over at another place? Well of course Psalm 51 (and, consequently, Miserere Mei Deus) is, if you like, King David's own take on it: "A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba."

Something to mull over in the bath.

(And hei - nothing wrong with bollocks. It ranks amongst the top three of my favourite swear words. Go bollocks.)

Reading the Signs said...

I'm probably being more than a bit dense here Ms Intertextual, but what exactly is it that it is I should be mulling - whether King David should be in the running for the best version of Hallelujah? Well I'd want to see him on Youtube first, but ok. Signs bathtub always good for mulling, whatever.

re the Bollocks, I just remembered that Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis had a tradition of always ending letters to each other with the word Bum. Great minds, m'dear, great minds.

Montag said...

We used to sing that in choir:
Asperges me, Domine, hysoppo et mundabor...
and the part of the Mass when we sang it was called the "Asperges" -and the priest threw holy water over us, although not with a hyssop.

And as for the connectedness of everything, in the comments we went from "Despair...not (a) town to visit", to "dark hamlet" as a pun on "town" and the melancholic prince, then to hyssop to turn once more to Shakespeare in Othello!

And for you to fair swoon is so perfect and so D.G. Rosetti. It is ever so much better than being bowled over, for example.

Crappy hostess??! Bollocks!
Not a bit!

Anna MR said...

(Normally, I'd put these brackets at the end of the comment, but as it would rather ruin the ending I've planned for it, I shall put it here in the beginning, and commend you most highly for bringing this totally splendid idea of Philip Larkin's and Kingsley Amis's to this house. Excellent work. I suggest we continue to follow on this path the two poets have mapped out for us, although obviously with our own twist to it. Long live intertextuality.)

Well, Signs, I've been looking and looking to find King David's version of Hallelujah, but youtube doesn't seem to have it - although there were plenty of versions of King David dancing, looking strangely like a bearded Richard Gere. I toyed with the idea of linking to that here, for you, but came to my senses, thank Bollocks.

Anna MR said...

Dearest Montag, the "fair swooning" came from the poetic keyboard of the poet Signs - so the D.G. Rossetti likeness is all hers (although I like to bask in the sunshine of it too). I am failing to intertextually link to the connectedness of everything tonight, it seems, for I tried for a fair while here to do something amazing that would bring Rossetti into the hyssop-Hamlet-Hallelujah thing, unsuccessfully (although there was that nice poem he'd written by finishing mad Ophelia's song, which nearly made it here).

Still, lovely talking, as always, and sorry, as always, for my reply services being such slow bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

Dear Icepoet, just because they didn't have youtube in the time of King David doesn't mean you couldn't have tried a bit harder, gone time travel or something, I really thought you capable of things like that. No, but forgive me sees, this is pure displacement rabbiting to stop me from coming out with the most awful, awful pun on dear Montag's Asperges me, Domine, having to hold myself back from adding a totally inappropriate letter 'r', and me always banging on about our godless and desecrated times where reverence is held up to ridicule. Just shows you that it is best not to take any position at all because you risk exactly this kind of shaming self-exposure. I suppose I should apologise but feel I'm among friends here,
so bollocks.

Navas said...

Even I couldn't find the King David version of Hallujah on Youtube, merely a very still version on Flickr. However, not showing him with red hair means the likeness is bollocks.

Anna MR said...

Dear Rossetting the Signs, I'm trying to ignore the jibe at my time-travelling skills and shall concentrate instead on your alluring additional "r". Where oh where would you have placed it, pray? For I can see two places - the second one only came to me after reading your apologetic tone, so I rather suspect that's the one you are talking about (and incidentally, nothing wrong with irreverent carnivalism. We go for carnivalism even more than we go for intertextuality. Go carnivalism). Of course the one that smacked me in the eye when dear Montag (hello, oh brother, where art thou?) sent his Asperges was the one which turns the prayer into a super interesting autistic spectrum disorder. I'll have you know there's nothing awful or Godless in that, for I'm dead interested in all that bollocks.

Anna MR said...

Oh! I'm stunned, for King David really did look astoundingly like a bearded Richard Gere. Great stuff, good work, Navas - you really are the dog's bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

I have to agree with you there, spectrumly disordered Carnivaliste, for Navas has done a really splendid job of tracking down good King D and the Hallelujah, it's only a pity that we don't get to hear him actually sing the bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

- and I hope you have noticed that I went big time and actually ended my last post with bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

- and I hope you have noticed that I went big time and actually ended my last post with bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

It was so good I obviously had to say it twice. I am not one of those who feels driven to delete the extra one - some may say I should, but it's my bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

ok, here's the thing: E is coming round here with chocolate cake tomorrow, she says she loves the comments bits on blogs best of all but I have a feeling she hasn't looked in here for a while and I'm going to show her this thread. If you don't say something pretty soon it's going to make me look like a right silly bollix.

(That's Irish for bollocks).

Reading the Signs said...

ok, here's the thing: E is coming round here with chocolate cake tomorrow, she says she loves the comments bits on blogs best of all but I have a feeling she hasn't looked in here for a while and I'm going to show her this thread. If you don't say something pretty soon it's going to make me look like a right silly bollix.

(That's Irish for bollocks).

Reading the Signs said...

wtf? If you think I'm doing this on purpose, all I can say is (you guessed it, Sees) - bollocks!

Anna MR said...

Oh me oh my. Have I missed you, sees, and E (hello), and chocolate cake? I think I might have. Damn and bollocks.

Anna MR said...

(And yes, stay charmingly brave in the face of doubled-up comments - wtf is going on there? And yes again, respect is due, for I see you've really upped the ante with your post-end bollocks.)

Reading the Signs said...

Not counting Montag's (because he put something after), I have just counted fifteen bollocks.

Anna MR said...

That, surely (although my count was sixteen), is, by any standard, quite a lot of bollocks.

Reading the Signs said...

If it goes up to twenty you will be able to boast that you have (had?) a score of bollocks!

Anna MR said...

Ha. We're so good. Oh me oh my, to my undying shame I had quite forgotten about this, but - wouldn't you agree, all who contributed - it really was, and indeed still is, the funniest bit of literary bollocks.

Navas said...

(Firstly Anna, this is the longest Lent that your blog has been observing - where the Helsinki have you been?!)(Glad to see you surfacing again - Hallelujah!)
Absolutely, though those not involved who might have drifted in by accident or just happened by might just have thought it was, at first glance, a load of bollocks.

Anna MR said...

I am so glad you agree, fair Navas.

(And thank you for the Hallelujahy welcome, of course. V. lovely to see you, and so sorry I can't talk at length right now - I would, but you see, I'm just now taken up by some fairly convoluted and super important bollocks.)

Reading the Signs said...

So - those things you are looking forward to: Becoming someone else for a change isn't exactly going to happen in the way you think you wish it. You will still be you but even more so and you will (just take my word for it) like being you so much that you won't want to be someone else.

You will grow, yes - happy and proud of what you will have achieved in five years time - I'm clairvoyant, trust me.

And the light will come back - again and again, and you will be able to write philosophical essays on why it is that we can say with absolute certainty that the sun will rise again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

I have time-travelled to come and tell you this and you better believe me because I ain't come all this way just to tell you a load of bollocks!

Anna MR said...

Ah my dear – not only am I delighted by your visit, but (and I feel no shame admitting to this) also by how good we used to be. I mean, we still are, but this sort of dancing around with words and bollocks was exceptional, I do believe, in all of the blogosphere put together. Yay us! And thank you for reminding me, for leading me to this fun nook we inhabited so marvelously.

As for the becoming someone else bollocks: I think I have become someone else, in ways that I didn't imagine possible when this post was written (how long ago? Christ). Still me, yes, but another me, a different me, a me who is someone who wasn't before. But I agree about the growing, and happiness, and the pride, your clairvoyance, and the light and the sun keeping on keeping on. Yay for the sun, too – and us, again, why not, for we do deserve yays, we do.

And finally: Happy International Women's Day, you gorgeous international woman. Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you here. I can and do claim busy-ness of the happy pride (and controlled hysteria) of a Master's thesis flavour – but leaving such a message as yours unanswered for four full days is – no two ways about it – bollocks.