Questions and answers, vol 1

In no particular order, and answered in English:

1. I'm this weird person who'd like to know about "different" things. Like, what do you find awkward or weird in nz and what do you find *now* weird in Estonia? That goes for customs, food, way of thinking, everyday stuff and so on ;)

I'm glad you asked that because it has reminded me of things I have now gotten used to. Like, milk for example: it used to baffle me senseless (both here and in the United States), but now I, too, have gotten used to buying bottles of milk with expiration dates of seven, sometimes eight... or even nine days. 

I find it... if not insane, then at least somewhat ludicrous, because surely milk that has been processed to a point of it still being drinkable more than a week from when it left the cow's udder, there wouldn't be much of the milky goodness left in it anymore either? Milk's supposed to last three, maybe four days. Five if it's been unopened.

But not nine.

I remember how in the beginning milk here used to even taste weird. It tasted... watery, like it was diluted with water. And same goes for dairy in general: standard yoghurts last easily a month and lack that peculiar yoghurty "tang" I've grown to associate yoghurts with. I'm yet to see cheese that grows mould, things such as "hapupiim" or "pett" are unheard of, and standard ice cream here is what Estonians would call "koorejäätis" (as opposed to "piimajäätis") because it's very high in fat and when it melts, rather than make a puddle it creates... mushy foam instead.

And "European style food" is available, of course - "milky tasting" milk, for example, or probiotic (and by that I mean beyond basic acidophilus) yoghurt, or cheese that is capable of growing mould - but then we're talking well-stocked shops or specialised organic shops, and at prices that are simply insane. 

In Europe what's known as simply "food", here is a "special product".

Another thing that's really stood out for me is... politics.

New Zealand Parliament seems to attract very expressive - theatrical almost - attention-seeking individuals. Men and women shout in dramatic, well-rehearsed sentences, often with humour and ridicule, and to me it looks like entertainment. People at the microphone stand get shouted at, whistled at, to a point where the speaker kicks the heck out of his little hammer, demanding, "Order! Order!" and it's not even some special event or circumstance even - just another day at the parliament.

They often argue about things I consider very small, really, and I often turn off the radio when news come on because I haven't got patience to listen to "this stuff yet again".

Sometimes it scares me. When I look at the amount of taxes taken out of my paycheck, it reminds me that although Estonia has one of the lowest taxation rates in Europe, compared to New Zealand it looks like a socialist state.

I wish New Zealand taxed its people more. I wish it redistributed some of that wealth around and made sure that children, especially - their health and their education - are covered for, regardless of parents' income. What I see instead, however, is an ever-widening gap between people at the low end and those at the upper end, and where it bugs me is... children.

Most New Zealand schools do not have a canteen - children are expected to bring their own lunches. A lot of the children bring plastic boxes with sandwiches and fruit and snacks that their parents have helped them pack, some bring instant noodles, some bring... nothing. Pardon my English, right, but some of the children's parents are idiots.

And it bugs me, that something I consider totally essential to schooling - a warm, nutritional lunch - in New Zealand depends on what a parent packs or doesn't pack. Even writing this here makes me irate, because there are six-year-olds, seven-year-olds, who are expected to go through their school days and develop and learn, and they're... f*cking hungry.

But what I do love here, really do!, and where I think New Zealand has done an exceptional (!) job, is midwifery and support women get around their pregnancies. That, and healthcare in general, I am really very pleased with. Really, really, really pleased with.

Geesh, now that I've started thinking I feel like I could go on on this topic forever... next question!

2. Why do you blog? Why do you share these things with people you've never met? Does it provide you with adrenalin, not knowing what's going to land in comments? Is it a form of vanity, showing yourself to public? Is it therapeutic, writing allowing you to unload? Maria, what does blogging mean to you? What are your expectations, fears around blogging? What has it given you, what has it taken? 

In short, I blog so to release some of the constant chatter that's happening in my head.

The moment I wake up in the morning, my mind starts its chatter. "Oh, my toes feel quite cold. Ha! The log burner looks even darker today. I wonder what bird it is I can hear singing? Geesh, I hope I don't get nauseous today..." It goes on like this the. Whole. Day. Always several things at once, always analyzing what I am feeling/seeing/smelling/tasting/hearing, remembering the past, wondering about the future. I do not know what it feels like to have a "still" moment; have never had the experience.

Part of the reason I like sleeping so much is that it gives me a break from my brain, but even in my sleep I don't get to rest entirely because I'm an avid dreamer. My dreams are effin' elaborate, man! Sometimes in the morning I recount to The Man what I've dreamt about and a lot of the times, after about a minute or two of me telling him more and more details he laughs and shakes his head and asks me shut up all at once.

And so to get these things out of my head, I blog. I find that when a topic has been circling in my head for a while, driving me nuts, because I've been, say, doing dishes in the kitchen and thinking, jesus christ, do I really have to be thinking about it again, for the fourth day in a row now!?! and the thought just does not go away - when I blog it out, it leaves me. It's like a release button.

I find that keeping comments open to public is essential to keeping this system working. It's like... if I make something public, write it on the internet, then from that moment on I do not have control over it any more. If something is written on the internet, it's forever.

And in a weird way, it helps me let go, because when I've put it out there, regardless of how stupid it is, there is no point worrying about it any more, or worrying about what would people think of me, because once it's out there, bang!, it's gone. It's done. Every thought I let go of like that helps me shut a topic off and make space for new ones to take its place, an everlasting curve of learning.

And as much as some of the comments people have left over the years bug the hell out of me (especially the ones my mom leaves (oh, hi mom!)), I find that when I shut the comments off, blogging doesn't stop my brain chatter - topics just circle in my head, on and on and on, for days or weeks or even months.

And, frankly, that would drive anyone insane.

So it's definitely not the adrenalin of comments I'm here for. I like the many people (and friends!) I've met through my blog over the years, but that's not the main reason either. Vanity? Sometimes I do enjoy the vanity, especially when I've written something I am proud of, something poignant, but to be honest, quite often I look at what I've written and think, geesh, Maria, people are going to look at this and think, this girl is a moron, and some of them are probably going to be right, too.

Some of my very embarrassing moments have been on my blog, published and for everyone to see nicely, and I still cringe looking back at them.

A dear friend of mine, for example, got in trouble in New Zealand mountains and was airlifted out in a helicopter through a Search and Rescue mission, and I was smart enough not to blog about it myself, because, you know, it's his story to tell, right.

But when a New Zealand newspaper published a story about it, I thought, oh, great! I'll just put up a link on my blog to that article, and that way I haven't spilled the beans, because it's already on the internet, isn't it. And so I simply put up a link to a story.

And, holy sh*t, my mobile phone rang, like, within 15 minutes of publishing that link. "Hi, I am calling from Estonian Daily and I'd like to..."

Because, you see, my friend is a diplomat. A story about a backpacker airlifted out of New Zealand mountains maybe doesn't sell that well, but if there's a story about an Estonian diplomat rescued from New Zealand mountains... Oh boy!

Our phones rang one after another that night. Journalists, friends, family... employers ;). My friend who was still physically worn out from the ordeal was making his damn best to compose himself and talk, honestly but firmly, about what had happened, all whilst making sure it didn't, oh, I don't know, screw with his diplomatic career.

And I think I spent most of that night sitting on a sofa, going, "Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. I'm sorry!"

And it taught me a great lesson. I've had a few other, smaller slip-ups with other people's (personal) stories and I am now much more mindful of writing about my story, and leaving other people's stories for those other people to tell.

It's why my husband is called The Man here. Why my son is The Kid. When I write about other people here I sometimes change little details about their stories so to give them a bit more privacy - but I am also aware that I am not God, and I'm not perfect, and so I balance that fine line between allowing myself to speak out, loud, to keep my sanity, whilst trying very hard to be graceful towards others. Sometimes I fall, but... then I sulk a little bit and I learn and I live on.

So, yeah: my blog, plus my friends, plus my family, keep me sane. (And sometimes, even that isn't enough =).)

Alright, ran out of puff. I'll take up more questions in another post, sometime later. Meanwhile, if you have more, just add them there. And thank you - it's actually helping me, thinking of all this stuff you've brought up.


  1. Yes… uh-uh….Yes…I totally agree….Yeah! I feel the same…uh-uh….Yes…Bingo!

    (uh-uh, that's me reading out loud your post :D )

    although I don't blog much in public anymore (private blog with fewer readers) or keep my fb page visible to "all my fb friends"…because of family issues (for the sake of my closest family)

  2. I love reading your blog, so many things I agree with; some that I don't of course, but then difference is what makes life interesting.

  3. Anonymous11.12.13

    Thank you for writing about why you are blogging! I haven´t heard anyone explaining that ones brain chatter... But now lots of people make a lot more sense for me :D I am the opposite kind of person, who can easely shut my brain out and enjoy the silence or stillness of the surrounding. There have been lots of cases when I am just thinking of nothing and then my husband or friend cuts the silence with question: "What are you thinking about at the moment". And I answer: "Nothing". And the respont to that is usually: "That cannot be true, it is not possible to have nothing in mind!". And I am always wondering that how is that not possible, when I was just in the middle of it a minute ago... Weird thing is this human mind :)