Jour no#

Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

What have I done?

I’ve been a bad friend lately. I was told yesterday that for the past x times I’ve always replied that I’m abroad or ill when invited out for a catchup and/or drink. That has been true indeed. October decided to go past so-so-so-so fast and literally all over the place. But while being unavailable, away, really tired from travelling, nursing a cold, I have been to some pretty epic places (in a rather short period of time), and worked like a maniac. In a good way.

So what have I done? This is a chapter in the life of a self-confessed workaholic.

Wakey

The ‘early fucking wakey’ really doesn’t get much easier when you do it a few times a week. But as humans are quite adapting creatures, you do get used to it a bit, as well as the poor hours of sleep. The early wakeys do have some perks – you get a lot of stuff done, in general. You also get to places at decent hours to get lots of stuff done. Like in the next photo – I think they landed us at the cargo part in Copenhagen airport, but nevertheless it was as empty as it gets. It was rather silly early o’clock in the morning. Quite a cool sight nevertheless.

CPH_early

So we went to Milan Expo. The coolest gallery there was obviously the Estonian one. And the cosiest one. We know how to do cosy (if you don’t believe me, google ‘Tallinn airport cosy’, et voilà).

Hatselfie

Rasmus

I may or may not have tried to hustle myself that [drool] poster of Rasmus Mägi on the wall of our Expo gallery. Katrin Kuldma, whose creations the [godsend] athlete is wearing in that photo, said that the poster had been quite popular and I wasn’t the first genius who tried to talk her way into having it. #definitelynotcreepy

Clouds

But let’s get back to more earthly topics. When one goes a lot from place A to B, one takes a lot of cloud photos from airplane windows. Clouds, how u so fluffy?

When I was little, I used to think that clouds are possibly the cosiest thing to sleep on. I had to rethink that one when I started jumping out of airplanes. No, not cosy at all.

IMG_0730

Then we did London. Met with Cameron, went well. It was actually his birthday that day. Met with our veterans, was sweet. Estonia-England football game happened to be on that day as well, and we went to check it out at the end of the productive day. Not going deeper into that apart from stating that we lost like little bitches. At least I got to see Wembley, which has been a bit of a landmark in my previous life. All the places where I lived in London, had a view or almost-view of the Wembley arch from some window in the house. Wembley also affected my home journeys on quite a few occasions, because  when a match was on, it was indeed impossible to physically fit on the tube.

Wembleyselfie

And because London is London, I couldn’t have gone without checking out some of my beloved ones. Greg also happened to have a gig one night. Was amazing. You will want to listen to all of their stuff. They’re also on Spotify. You can thank me later.

drgm

IMG_0759

Always happy to see my catsicle when stopping by at home. The catsicle seems to think I’m a new piece of furniture. I don’t mind.

Then there were Dubai and Oman. Both went well, both really different. Dubai is grandiose, flashy, bigger-and-better-than-yours – a true spectacle. Oman is like an Arabian tale. The one thing those two places had in common was the supremely lovely and hospitable people. They truly know how to make you feel welcome.

Dubai1

Above you can find the view from the Government Office of Dubai. I love my workplace and we do have some amazing views going on, but I have to sourly admit that this one made me slightly jealous. Not bad for an office view, not bad at all.

Dubaiselfie

Selfies are normally best taken with a cameraphone. In this one, I somehow managed to get a decent shot with the big camera. Big buildings need big cameras. Burj Khalifa.

IMG_0782

If you look closely, you can see some weird-looking structures in the pool. Those things turn the pool (not actually sure that you can swim there – rather not) into a grandiose and a half fountain. I’ve seen the amazing waterworks at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, but those were built to be better, higher, and more spectacular. Can’t argue with that.

omaan1-0854

Then there was Oman (above a fragment from the ceiling of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat). With Dubai I had some sort of an image or expectation in mind, and the reality didn’t miss it by much. It was a lot warmer than I thought it would be. But Oman – a different planet, I could say. Everything is absolutely stunning, even the new buildings follow the authentic national style. And yes, the temperature… Rather hot. How locals solve the problem is air conditioning. And their AC is so top notch that if you’re sitting at a long dinner table, everyone will feel that “I think I was sitting right underneath the AC”. The food and company were top notch, though. So all in all, still amazing.

omaan1-0892

Above is an image from the Royal Opera House in Muscat. If you look closely, you can see screens at the back of seats – that’s where they have the translation. There are only two opera houses in Arab countries, one in Cairo and the other in Muscat. A third one is being built into Dubai – and it will be the largest one. No surprise there. Back to the mosque for one selfie. The Grand Mosque was the only place during Dubai-Oman trip where the ladies of the delegation wore scarves. I haven’t done my research on the common conceptions of the two places, but in my own book a little positive surprise was noted down for a lot more open and liberal attitude than expected.

IMG_0806

It was my beloved Lilly who at one point noted in a worried voice that I haven’t posted any photos of my kittycat lately. So here’s an obligatory cat photo from when I returned home. Cat-on-bag morning situation. Not sure what she had in mind, but she definitely gave close to zero fucks about me having to go to work.

IMG_0817

Add a few days on the ground, another round of terrible sniffles, and off we go again.

Here’s what I mean about the airplane photos. Earth, u so pretty!

FullSizeRender-2

The photo above was taken on the way to Iceland. Iceland has been one of my absolute dream travel destinations. The thing with work travelling is that.. well, you’re working. And it doesn’t mean that you’ll have time to do any sightseeing. But luck was on my side, because probably due to the fact that the Northern Future Forum (which is the reason we went there) was happening, plane tickets were sparse. So I had to fly in alone a few hours earlier than the rest of the delegation. This means I got to land when it was still bright outside. And I was also greeted by a sleet storm. But Iceland is one of those places where terrible weather is basically a given, so you’re not really allowed to moan about it. And it was still pretty out of this world, to be honest. Here’s the Iceland land that greeted me when landing (another airplane window shot). Volcanic land with bits of snow/sleet.

IMG_0837

Our ambassador squeezed in a high speed crash course sightseeing in Reykavik at the end of the day. It wasn’t much, but I was completely head over heels in love with the place by then anyway. I even got as far as googling courses at University of Iceland. Obligatory half-head selfie with a landmark.

IMG_0843

I also started planning my next proper trip to Iceland. Will probably rent a 4×4 and drive through the whole island. Oh, and one more cool thing in Reykjavik – Harpa. It’s a concert hall that was built during the recession. Basically the only (and by no means cheap) construction happening at Reykjavik during the tough times. People thought it to be a fairly crazy and unreasonable project, but now it’s turned out to be worth its while. It hosts concerts, and conferences, and shows etc, and just generally looks pretty damn amazing. My taxi driver (the best ever source for information) told me that the house is actually a speaker itself when there is a concert on. The exterior has cool lights on it, and the interior looks suave. What lovely shapes and structures.

IMG_0862

So here’s what I’ve done. I’m sure I will feel a bit lost for the next couple of weeks, because I will spend them in one country. I should (probably will) think of some quick weekend trip to go for. Although the crazy running around gets quite tiring at times, and your skin gets awful from all the recycled and airconditioned air, when you get off the wheel, you might experience a bit of a hole in your life. At all fairness, it is all as exciting as it is demanding. And! I have the most amazing colleagues as travel buddies.

But there is more to life than work, so I will use this time to nurture myself back to health, find my friends who hopefully haven’t disowned me completely, and enjoy the lovely darkness of November. And when the travelling hangover kicks in and the darkness amplifies it, I can always find solace in the fact that there is something quintessentially Northern and almost romantic about the self-loathing that latches on then daylight dies.

Advertisements

Art of War.

It’s not what you think, but it sort of also is. I’ve grown up in a privileged enough time and space to know and acknowledge the very near presence of war, yet not live in it. War has always been a distant thing, and even when taking my home country’s history into account, it’s still always been a hazy far away problem. It happens elsewhere. It’s tragic, I wish it didn’t, but it does. I’ve always also felt so immeasurably incapable of thinking in terms of war and how one civilian (as myself) could even begin to contribute to putting an end to it. But this is not what I actually had in mind when giving this blog post this title. The actual war in Ukraine at the moment is very much on my mind every single minute of the day, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that also elsewhere in the world, innocent people suffer because of terrorist organisations. It’s not my place to say anything more than that as little as I believe in God as such… I do pray for these atrocities to end.

But going to a more tangible level, we all have our own little personal wars to deal with. I can say with all honesty that I’ve been in a rather strange situation from where one aspect my life is blooming, I’m doing great, and I feel like I’m actually useful on a much broader scale than ever. I feel like I’m making a difference. But on the other hand, I’m at war. First with myself, and second, with my little nasty (yet ever so present) demons. I’ve found a little straw that I feel will help me hoist myself out of this strange pit I’ve been lurking around for the past month or so. The infamous “bottom” of all things. I’m not intimidated, because as life would normally have it, we do the old rock bottom just to gloriously climb back out again, so it’s a natural course of things and we all face those different levels of ennui in life.

What’s been interesting to process in this “bottom” part of my life right now, is how to deal with misconceptions, and expectations. Most of our interpretations spin from our expectations and the opposing side’s communication. I guess I have been spoiled by my usually pretty damn good intuition. My war at the moment is with my own intuition getting me ridiculously wrong. It’s nothing more than a blow to the ego, and you can go all Freudian on it, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing more glamorous than just feeling like a d*ck when looking in the mirror. You go thinking how could you be so stupid and hence cause so much pain for yourself. Where is the instinct of self-preservation? How have I suddenly become so sh*t at life?

Anyway, the battles in which we choose ourselves to be the enemy, are the worst. But they are also the best lessons.

A dear friend of mine came to visit tonight. A lovely time as per usual. I have to repeat myself, but I love my people. With all the inner burnings and “adventures” I take upon myself on occasion, they really do keep my feet on the ground, they make things cool. Anyway, she brought me a perfume she thought I would like. She was right, even though it’s not a perfume people would normally expect of me (a little side note for those who have not smelled this vice on me yet: I have an epic soft spot for fancy perfumes). It’s L’Art de la Guerre by Jovoy. The art of war. The picture that the scent triggered in me was of a deep fir forest, with sunrays beaming through the thick canopies, and perhaps a little glistening secret forest spring embedded amidst a soft velvety blanket of deep green moss, walking barefoot, the sweet powdery air almost intoxicatingly calling for the here and now, with a purpose so eminent in your step that there is no other option but feeling like you’re going to war that you will win.

And I think it’s time I picked up the book (by Sun Tzu) again. Don’t even know why I put it down in the first place.

I know this is not a forest, but what’s a blog post without a photo? There you go, I had no idea Belgium was so pretty.

What’s done is done.

This is the time of the year for looking back, perhaps even looking back at things and (re)learning some lessons, as well as evaluating what went well, what didn’t quite go as planned.

I finally made it to New York. Yes, tears were shed.

I finally made it to New York. Yes, tears were shed. This photo is taken at 450 Lexington Ave.

My year has been turbulent, literally and metaphorically. Where do I start? I guess the year’s half time would be an appropriate, because that was the time my life took a new turn when I changed jobs. It would be an understatement to say I was scared. I was terrified. I became a civil servant. I switched sides completely – from journalism to government communications. With a thousand doubts in mind, which I’m not even going to spell out here, because in retrospect they are beyond silly, I decided to do something that proved to be one of the best decisions of my life this far.

I remember someone telling me that the real fun starts when things get scary – it means you’ve got something to lose. It means we’re dealing with things that really matter. I’m happy I didn’t need to make any real sacrifices, and it definitely wasn’t a change to the Dark Side, as is often said about moving from journalism to PR/communications.

My five and a half months at Stenbock House have flown past at incredible speed. I have also flown a lot during that time (hence the literal turbulence). I spent half of December abroad (touched the surface of nine foreign countries), and suffered the worst jetlag of my life. But during that time I also pushed my photography skills and speed to a completely new level, and felt an incredible creative flow, which I am so grateful for. I do miss my colleagues at Eesti Päevaleht and Delfi, they are real sweethearts, but my new team is equally inspiring – great to learn from and work with.

When I think back at the past year, I’m overcome with an immeasurable sense of gratitude. I keep realising over and over again, that I am surrounded by the most amazing and supporting people, who’ve unnoticeably helped and pushed me towards the things I later realise I’ve always waited for. The new people who’ve crossed my path, are gems. My older friends, they are life’s essentials. Without my safety net, I’d be going nowhere fast.

The turbulence (now speaking about the metaphorical one) continues on a personal level. I have moved twice this year, had and not had a cat, and experienced (read: created) some really messed up affairs, and burned my fingers. But at the same time, the turbulence has also contributed to some unforgettable experiences and episodes. Some which cannot bear the light of the day, some which need to be laughed at loud. A whole lot of yolo. Most of the time, a terrible idea, but my god, it’s fun (until it’s not, but even then, hey, life goes on).

Thanks for the joyride, 2014. You’ve changed my life forever. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And thank you, honeybunnies, for being part of the ride.

Some more shareworthy moments through a lens, for your viewing pleasure. Let these photos speak for themselves, I’m out of words, out of wit.

San Francisco is real pretty. Even when it's a bit foggy. View from Twin Peaks summit.

San Francisco is real pretty. Even when it’s a bit foggy. View from Twin Peaks summit.

Golden Gate Bridge traffic and stuff. I happen to absolutely love bridges and other suspended structures.

Golden Gate Bridge traffic and stuff. I happen to absolutely love bridges and other suspended structures.

Find the little blue bird in the canopy. Taken right next to Stanford University Library.

Find the little blue bird in the canopy. Taken right next to Stanford University Library.

I will offer my undivided and unconditional love to the person who gets me one of these Google bikes. Photo taken at Googleplex / Palo Alto.

I will offer my undivided and unconditional love to the person who gets me one of these Google bikes. Photo taken at Googleplex / Palo Alto.

View from the White House.

View from the White House.

View from the Capitol.

View from the Capitol.

Speaker John Boehner at his office. (Possibly the best photo I've taken this far.)

Speaker John Boehner at his office. (Possibly the best photo I’ve taken this far.)

Not too bad for an office view, right? (At US Congress, Speaker Boehner's balcony.)

Not too bad for an office view, right? (At US Congress, Speaker Boehner’s balcony.)

Exile.

Dear diary, I have been stranded on this desert island for seven days now. My body is starting to get accustomed to the climate, and I have stopped craving the familiar. My mind is set on autopilot, which makes passing the hours comfortably numb. I find comfort in staring into the void, with my baby panda George by my side. I don’t find comfort in any position, because my back refuses to cooperate. The imagined ticking clock is in sync with my brainwaves. I know what my neighbours are up to, I know their timetable – yet I cannot confirm whether they actually exist. All I hear is drilling and hammering. If I’ve never seen my neighbours, do they really exist? Are the sounds I’m hearing just an echo of my own subconscious?

This is going to be a long one. I’m not even half way through the meds.

Yeah, being ill at home feels like being stranded on an island. Can’t go out because I’m poisoning myself with antibiotics, which screw up the body in order to screw the infection. Made the mistake of thinking I’m well enough to go back to work (honestly, I was just bored and restless at home), and caught a cold as well. Congratulations.

Argh.

About challenges and all.

I was challenged to the ALS ice bucket challenge by my beloved honeybunny Meisi. Before I say the ungodly words – I do not accept the challenge, let me explain why. Also, I have already made my donation, directly to someone in need. It is truly heartwarming how social media has been used for something good – raising awareness and supporting a cause. However, I do not believe charity should be done on a campaign-basis. I believe charity should be a regular part of our lives and it does not need to be in material forms. Help a stranger out, volunteer, be good to yourself, to others, and if possible – do give some money to a cause you support. 

So instead of accepting the ice bucket challenge, I will make a public promise (or however public this blog post is) to commit to being mindful, being better to others around me, and to help regularly. I won’t challenge anyone myself either. I just hope you have something or someone in your life you care about and want to selflessly support. One-off act of kindness is better than nothing, but I think sustainablity – in all forms – is the way forward. Let’s not stop caring after the viral aspect of the ALS ice bucket challenge calms down. Keep helping, keep donating (regardless of the form – be it money or time), keep being better to others and to the planet.

Much love.

Sónar 2014

Throwback Tuesday. Sónar, that beautiful thing, happened now quite some time ago. But that’s left some time to ponder and look back, and assess the experience as a whole. Sónar has one big advantage going for it and that’s the location – sunny Barcelona is not far from a paradise (if you subtract the hordes of tourists), so the mood will be set accordingly. What better way to spice up a beach holiday laced with beautiful foods and sights, than the most incredible sounds this world offers, as well as some brain tickling visuals and workshops?

One of the indications that Sónar is something else, is the fact that I’d heard about for years, way before I made it there myself, and it was always described with an air of something that… can’t quite be put into words. A certain mystique.

I was most looking forward to Massive Attack, Trentemøller, Bonobo, Koreless, Four Tet, Moderat, Jon Hopkins, Monki, Throwing Snow, and Camo & Krooked – the first “mainstream” dnb act to play at that festival. Eventually I didn’t make it to all of those, partially because old age is taking a toll, but partially because city festivals don’t call for crazy allnighters like standard festivals do. And that’s not a bad thing. The fact that the festival was divided in two, in terms of music, forced for some serious decision-making in what to go for and what not.

I was delighted to see Koreless and Throwing Snow, whom I saw for the first time ever. Beautiful music, a crowd that knows the smaller acts and enjoys the whole thing in a unanimous agreeing content smile. As expected, Bonobo Live filled Sónar By Day outdoor area to the brim. Having seen them live in Tallinn not very long before, I had my hopes high, but feared that perhaps they might be a little tired as they’ve toured the new album for a whole eternity now. I’m glad I was wrong about that. The absolutely stunning Szjerdene on vocals wrapped the crowd around her finger, and didn’t let go. It’s hard not to be mesmerised by her beauty and voice. Of course the main man Bonobo aka Simon Green himself holds the whole thing together with sheer el mágico through sound. He is a legend for a reason, a truly dedicated creative genius. His music becomes a force majeure. Words don’t do justice to what people experienced that night. Let it be.

Another highlight for many was most definitely Massive Attack, the founders of trip hop and Bristol sound. While I didn’t detect touring tiredness from Bonobo Live, I did notice a hint of it from Massive Attack. Don’t get me wrong, those guys have defined and determined my music taste in a very large part, and I do love them unconditionally (as do the other thousands who had gathered to Sónar By Night to see them), but it wasn’t quite the same as the first concert of their Paradise Circus tour, which I had the honour of witnessing in Tallinn quite some time ago now. The political and beautiful visuals accompanied the much loved anthems of trip hop, but in addition to the trance they induced (and in my case there may or may not have been tears on several occasions) among the crowd, a certain spark was missing. An awe-inspiring experience nevertheless. It was quite hard battling the cognitive dissonance of wanting to shut up and just brood over what I’d just experienced after Massive Attack, and being in the middle of a massive rave at Sónar By Night. And a good one.

I’ll only say this about Trentemøller – HOLY SH*T. I guess that describes it the best – cognition-changing beautiful music altered with an ungodly good rave. Anyone who loves electronic music, needs to go. It’s heartwarming to see so many people caring about music you thought was somewhat… well, not unpopular, but not as mainstream. Sónar leaves an air of a rock festival, but with much, much better intelligent dance music. I have to repeat myself and say that words do not do the music side of the festival any justice, so I’d rather refrain from saying anything further.

Now that I’ve drooled honey and love all over it, I’ll drip some tar into the honey pot as well. Organisation-wise there was a lot of confusion (among staff, too!) with the coupon system. That needs to become more straightforward. The “no cash” system should make it easier, not more difficult. Drink and food prices were definitely amove the average and in stark contrast with the rest of Barcelona. It would be cool if the festival wasn’t divided into two – and that day passes were sold. The fact that the event was split in two made me miss quite a few acts. Getting back from Sónar By Night proved to be only a half nightmare for me, because luckily there was a shuttle bus for accreditation holders. No luck for the ones who didn’t. Or if there was a way… then it definitely wasn’t communicated well enough.

Nevertheless, I want to finish with this: go to Sónar. You’ll be sweetly rewarded with an experience to remember. It’s something else.


Koreless


Trentemøller


Bonobo Live crowd absolutely loving it


Bonobo Live


Massive Attack

Lithuanian bird-wall.

Image

Note the additional drawn one.

Hat-trick.

Image

It’s all fun and games, until it’s not.

Funny how hurt boils up all this poisonous crap inside one’s little heart. It’s a chore and a half trying to morph this into something bigger, better, something to power whatever else. One can only hope the recycling is a quick process. Why not use it as fuel? The practicalities, of course, might turn out to be a bit more complicated… but I’ll give it a good shot. Bitches be adaptable. For anything to hold fuel, however, the container has to be fixed first.

Oh whatever, life can go fuck itself for a bit now. Pardon the vulgarity, but when one gets hurt three times in a rather short period of time, it makes one a bit erm, edgy. Metaphorical punching oneself in the stomach is in order. I guess people learn from their own stupidity. It’s always good to remember that really shitty things happen for a reason, and once you’ve reached the bottom, it can only get better. One door closes, another opens and a thousand other clichés.

It’s gone really quiet all of a sudden. The silence is deafening. At least there are the halcyon skies to drown into.

But hey! Look at the sunset my new ghetto flat provides. Pardon the slant, couldn’t be arsed to straighten it.

Image

And at least there’s music. Thank god for music. Simon darling delivered just when needed the most.

Paper trails.

En route to Vilnius and we’ve barely left Tallinn when some douche is listening to his questionable choice of music with headphones that seem to leak most of the sound externally. And he is also most definitely trying to deafen himself. Let’s hope his iPhone runs out of battery soon.
Anyway, I’m quite excited about going to Vilnius. Never been, only passed through. With Elina honeybunny there, don’t really need any more incentive.
The summer schedule at work starts in a few weeks with the first holidays, which means I will be filling in and doing the evening shift (as well). So this was just about the final call for a little downtime. Next time you see me, it’s probably September.
Mundane worries: the trouble with walking up early is that one gets hungry early as well. Eight and a half hours left.

Veritas odit moras.

The new home is fabulous to say the least. I’m definitely still in the honeymoon phase of excitement. Seeing as I am a sucker for all things sky and all things heights, I’m not sure I can get tired of the view and endless colours of fire the sunsets here provide daily. Change is good for the soul. I’ve got a whole new army of me giving me (will-)power and strength. Let’s hope this wave doesn’t push me off anytime soon.

And on a personal level things are getting crazier and crazier. Just when I thought the epitome of crazy had been reached, something completely unexpected decides to jump on board as well. Life is starting to beg for a novel to be written about it. All norms have been surpassed, and what’s happening now, is more like some crazy Hollywood blockbuster. But hey, if you buy the ticket, better enjoy the ride. Let’s see how long we can go before the defense mechanisms kick in and some other part of my brain calls for quits on the second violin situation. For now, happiness chokes the frustration.

Now listening to Mutemath – Control. “Surrendering somehow becomes so beautiful.”