I just heard this from a rabbi on a radio show. I didn’t know the quote before today, but I’ve been thinking that very thing, of late, as I somehow grow happier, even though I am as poor as I have ever been and haven’t acquired any new money or goods.
Just finished a jovial conversation with lil’ nephews via iChat. Joseph was particularly talkative and funny...
J: Why is your name “elbowgreaser” on the computer? S: What do you think it means, Joe? J: Is that the word for “Steve” in Swedish? S:[laughs] No. It comes from the thing grandpa says when he wants you to work hard: “Put a little elbow grease into it.” J:[laughs] Oh.
Last weekend I took a cruise to Finland. Go ahead and chuckle now. Yes, some of the sea was actually frozen. But, for Scandinavians, a winter cruise is an opportunity to get cozy with friends and booze in a little floating city where the gentle rocking of the floor makes revelers as tipsy as the tax-free liquor. Karaoke is a staple activity. After watching in amusement a succession of old men perform slow, sad Finnish standards I got up and belted out “Roxanne”. It was my first time on a karaoke stage and it felt surprisingly good, despite the lack of alcohol in my system (I rarely drink unless I’m offered a complimentary gin and tonic).
A boat trip from Stockholm to Helsinki also brings the chance of meeting some intriguing stranger from your neighbor country. One fellow in our group, Jasper, hooked up with a Finnish gal at the ship discotheque and ended up spending the day in her Helsinki flat when we arrived. Woo. Memories of “The Love Boat” were immediately brought to mind.
The rest of us explored the city. Jen and I lost the group when they walked out onto shore and promptly evaporated into the icy air. After puzzling over their disappearance for a few moments (we only regretted losing Erin) we ventured out on our own. Jen was the ideal traveling companion: positive and curious, enamored with little things like funny Finnish hats and funky Finnish architecture, excited about things as simple as an old baby carriage. Armed with only a small map and warm clothes, we conjured a makeshift walking tour of Helsinki and felt genuinely fortunate to see:
It is now six days into the new year and I have only seen another worker in my office once since Christmas. These people really understand what a winter break is. Apparently today is yet another official holiday called “Trettondagen”, or “The 13th Day After Christmas”. I am not joking. If ever there was a holiday created just to have another day off work, this is it. I still can’t get anyone to explain what it’s for or what it means.
I spent my Trettondagen watching Apple release a bunch of pastel iPods, cleaning up a non-profit newsletter, and inducing sleep in a desperate attempt to approach some schedule that allows me to catch this season’s five hours of light per day.