neljapäev, juuni 29, 2006

KESK, ERL are you listening?

From Postimees today. With more than 4,500 votes. Interestingly the poll on the Russian version of Postimees shows similar results. Ilves is doing even better there - with 61 percent of those surveyed, versus 13 percent for Ergma and 13 percent for Savisaar. Poor Jaan Manitski only got 0 percent of the Slavic-Estonian vote. Maybe his name sounds too Polish...

1 9 9 5

1995 seems like a while ago these days. That's what happens after seven or eight years. Things turn into "a while ago." Eddie, our dog, was born in July 1995. He was a Cancer - and he really was - sort of emotionally clingy, obviously sensitive, a bit modest, a bit moody. I didn't meet him as a newborn puppy though. I met him as a five month old in December or so, when I was informed we were getting another dog. I still wasn't "ready" for having another dog. Our older dog - Leroy - had died four years before and he was a genuine pal of mine. I had known him as a baby, ridden him as a toddler. He followed me everywhere when I was eight years old. I fed him during his last days. I didn't feel like starting another one of those relationships.

During this time things were changing in my life. As a teenager, I felt that culture was stagnating. Kurt Cobain and 'alternative' was dead. My friendships were unraveling. I just didn't feel that inspired anymore. Instead, I felt mostly confused and a bit depressed. Enter Eddie. I - as I said - didn't want another dog. But my mother insisted. The first time I met Eddie he scratched me in the face. So I really didn't like him. Then he moved in - to the chagrine of our cats. I remember them looking at him like, "Oh shit, we're in trouble now." They were.

Eddie started to grow on me as I took him for walks in the snows of 1996. 1996 was a very snowy winter on Long Island. The snow came up to my chest alongside the road. I could literally rest my breakfast on the snowbank like it were a kitchen table it was so high. And this is how I became friends with the sturdy little West Highland Terrier as he burrowed into the snow banks to leave a nice warm dump or lifted his leg every 15 feets to sprinkle some territorial pissings.

My Mom adored Eddie. He went everywhere with her in the car. That was a period of change for her too as she started working in real estate. God, I think she even bought him sweaters. Our home was soon decorated with 'Westie' pillows, pictures - she even had a little leather Eddie-look alike dog on her key chain.

As Eddie got older he got fat and lethargic though. I made a film about him in 2000. It was called "Dawg Daze" - it was a video of him literally lying on the couch - eating food - lying on the couch - eating food - sleeping. He also got depressed. So to make him MORE depressed my folks got another dog - Hannah - to keep him company later that year.

Eddie also soon developed diabetes. He had to get a shot once a day, and I had to use these little litmus strips to test the level of sugar in his blood. But for some odd reason he stayed healthy through the years. It was pretty amazing.

Recently though he had been slowing down. The last time I was at my parents' place I caught him napping on the cold bathroom floor. He would never do that in his heyday. He would curl up on the couch. I had been nudging him too, on these past visits, just to check that he was still breathing.

Unfortunately, he stopped breathing last night. He died next to the new pool my parents put in.

Right around the time we got Eddie, my grandfather died. He too had been sick for awhile, so it was sort of expected. But, try as a might, I couldn't shed a tear for the old man. My father did, and my uncle did. But I couldn't find my pocket of sorrow and weep. People were around me at all times. It just seemed hard to do. Instead, I got a headache.

Today when I found out Eddie died - I also sort of wanted to cry. But I had to get on a train and didn't want people to think there was something seriously wrong with me. So I let a bit out but kept most in. And, oh man, how my head hurts.

teisipäev, juuni 27, 2006

pühapäev, juuni 25, 2006

Pole häda midagi Eesti Naisega

When I took statistics in college, my professor was a quirky Cantonese woman from Hong Kong who told us she learned most of her English from watching Seinfeld. Someday somebody might ask where I learned Estonian, and I'll have to admit, I have learned many of my words from reading Eesti Naine. Last night I learned a few more words.

Hüüa tähendab 'to shout' või 'to call.' Las leiutame midagi.

"Romeo, Romeo, kus sa oled, minu kallis Romeo," Juliet hüüdis akenist.

Toppida tähendab 'to stuff,' as in stuffing a turkey or stuffing mushrooms or stuffing stuff into a bag full of stuff.

Mart topib kommi taskusse.

Süst tähendab 'injection.' How about something like this -

Fredi on nii õnnelik sest, et tema uus firm sai jälle värske raha süst.

One interesting word is häda. Häda tähendab 'distress' või 'trouble' inglise keeles. Nii -

Oi oi oi, Tanelil on suur häda. Tema naine tahaks lahutada!

But that's not all for häda. This is one of these words that joins with other words to make phrases that are a bit different from the original meaning. So pole häda midagi means 'there's nothing wrong' as does häda kedagi.

On häda kedagi Eurovisioniga, sõbrad. See on üks äge asi!

Finally we have puudutama. See tähendab 'to touch' inglise keeles. Nii - ma proovin -

Veegi! Ära puuduta need pudukad!

laupäev, juuni 24, 2006

Remembering the Generation of 1918

On June 3, Montenegro became the world's newest nation, just weeks after the residents of the country voted in a referendum to secede from the union of Serbia and Montenegro. The following week, Estonia became the first country in the world to establish diplomatic relations with Montenegro. The action mirrored the good will of the Icelandic people, who were the first people to recognize an independent Estonia in 1991, and for whom Islandi Valjak is named - the square in front of the Estonian foreign ministry in Tallinn.

This week though, even while Estonia celebrated Võidupüha and Jaanipäev with a naval parade in Kuressaare, people are still groveling to celebrate the day some World War II hero blew his nose in the fight between the Russian communists and the German nationalist socialists. Meanwhile Postimees has a nice map of the front between the German nationalist socialists and Russian communists that looks like a set of peculiar of dance instructions.

But of these two world conflicts, it is the former, more forgotten, less celebrated with films and protests and angry diplomatic charades, that is ultimately more important in Europe today. The peaceful declaration of independence of Montenegro from the union with Serbia attests that - no matter who is paying attention - the world order created out of the end of the first world war has had the most lasting impact in global politics, more so even than the great WWII. One can only look at Montenegro's independence and see the spirit of former President Woodrow Wilson's fourteen points.

Sure, World War #2 was horrific, big, terrible, and intriguing. But it ultimately has had less of an impact on the world - save perhaps the establishment of Israel (which probably would have been established anyway) than World War #1.

But why is it that we are so ready to forget those who fought in #1? Why are they strangers to us when men who died in another war are treated with closeness and are fiercely debated among young people who have no personal connection to either conflict? Even when they were alive, the generation of 1918 were like the walking dead. When the Vaps (rightwing Estonian veterans of the war of independence) were organized in Estonia in the 1930s, they were treated with disdain by the Estonian government. In fact, though they warned about the incraesing Soviet threat, most spent the mid-1930s in jail. Similarly, when the Bonus Army - American World War I veterans - went to Washington to demand their bonus pay in the 1930s, the government had them forcefully removed from the spot.

Why is it the very people who were most important in setting up the current world order are overlooked, disregarded, and just not that interesting, while memorials to the Red Army, which defeated the German nationalist socialists and then stayed for 50 years, are so fervently looked after and controversial. Why is it that even in America people today are still arguing over Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but Woodrow Wilson barely musters an interesting word?

Is it because that generation was the last to grow up without radios, automobiles, and indoor plumbing is just too foreign for us to understand. My great-grandparents wre of this generation and they had a rough life - a life of flu epidemics, great wars, great depressions, and economic hardship. But today we live in the world the peers of Hemingway created. Yet they are lost and forgotten. Why?

For whatever the reason, it just doesn't seem fair.

kolmapäev, juuni 21, 2006

Jussikese Seitse Sõpra

Have you ever read this book? My daughter has it and it's g-r-r-reat. It's called Jussikese Seitse Sõpra, and it's about a little blonde Estonian boy named Jussike who enjoys Sundays SO much he travels through the woods to find Pühapäevamaa - Sundayland - where it is Sunday every day, ja kõik on tore ja päike paistab kokku aeg.

But, thanks to this Finno-Ugric bog language, I wasn't able to get three pages into Jussikese Seitse Sõpra without meeting some new words.

One of the first words I came upon was kaduma, which means 'to disappear' in English. Las proovime midagi -

Hansel ja Gretel kadusid metsas.

Another interesting word was tarbima. This means 'to consume.' Leiutame midagi -

Juha tarvis meie jäätis ära.

The third word I met was tihane. This is a kind of bird that doesn't exist in great quantity in North America. After much searching, we discovered that the English word for tihane is 'tit' and there are birds out there called 'great tits.' Wow! What a cool name for a bird.

Palju tihased elab metsas, ja me nägisime kaks tihaset eile õhtul maja ees.

Also, I recently was reading Eesti Naine (these are the kinds of magazines lying around my house) and found some more words I didn't understand. One of them was 'keerlema.' This means 'to spiral' in English.

I can't think of a good way to use it in a sentence in Estonian. Maybe something like -

Toomas Liivi probleemid on kleerenud kontrolli alt välja.

Finally, I have been reading some comments on SL Õhtuleht. So two of my new words now are pask and okse. They mean 'shit' and 'vomit,' respectively.

Need pelmeenid maitsevad nagu pask! Mul on nüüd vaja oksendada!

laupäev, juuni 17, 2006

The most annoying habit of Estonians

No, it's not their habit of winning the International Wife Carrying Competition every year since the dawn of the Millennium.

The most annoying habit of Estonians is answering all questions in English (or Russian, Finnish, German, Swedish, whatever) when they are asked a question in Estonian. Today I had such a dialogue. My half of the conversation was in Estonian, the other party's was in English. I could have understood most of what he said correctly in the language I am trying to learn (which most Estonians would like everybody that lives in their country to know, by the way), but instead I had to converse with another Estonian unwilling to speak in his language with someone enthusiastic enough to try and speak it with him.

I know others who have had similar problems, including Russian-speaking Estonians who said it took a LONG time for Estonians to respond to them in Estonian, even though they are fluent in the language.

So what's the deal here? Why does everybody encourage you to learn, and then snatch victory from your hands when you muster a correct sentence and wish to have a conversation? Why are Estonians so willing to bend over and introduce another language in a conversation? Why is it that when you go into a R-Kiosk in Tallinn, and two people speak Estonian and the third person speaks Russian, that everybody will talk to the Russian-speaker in Russian rather than have to deal with some bad grammar or some mispronounced words from the non-native speaker?

Is it really so hard to humor us?

reede, juuni 16, 2006

Spanish Girls Speaking Estonian

You've got to see this!!!!!! Here's a video of some Spanish girls living in Estonia speaking in Estonian.

It's C U T E ... A R M A S ... L I S T A ...

kolmapäev, juuni 14, 2006

Laisk Poiss

Kahjuks, mina olen olnud nii laisk et ma ei osknud uued sõnad. Siis ma pean hakkama jälle.

Täna meil on see huvitav sõna - mõjutama. Tegelikult, Edgar Savisaar on minu suur õpetaja, ja ma märkas 'mõjutama' üks artikelis kus ta räägis. Jah, ta on vist rikutud ja Benny Hill on kindlasti Savikasile sarnane. Aga, mina olen õpinud palju sõnad temalt. Ma ei tea miks. Nii - mõjutama - see tähendab "to affect" inglise keeles.

Siis, las leiutame midagi -

Suur inflatsioon mõjutab Eesti võime saada Euro valuuta järgimsel aastal.

Järgime sõna täna on eraldi. See tähendab 'apart' või 'individually' inglise keeles. Ma proovin -

Margus ja Maarju on abielus, aga nad eraldi elavad.

Numero kolm on nautima. See tähendab 'to enjoy'või 'to revel in' inglise keeles. Mu lause on -

Airi naudib kui piltid temast ilmub Kroonikas.

Neljaks on lidistama. See tähendab 'to tape' või 'to record.' Ma proovin -

Martini band lindistas oma uus albumit keldris.

Oi oi oi. Kui palju teil on õppida. Viimane sõna täna on 'meeles pidama' - ma veel ei saa äru kuidas seda lauses kirjutada -

Mats, pane meeles et su hobune on õues!

reede, juuni 09, 2006

More on the Glaubitz Affair

Well, this is an op-ed that might get read by some 'important' Europeans, and it's in English, by Martin Helme (pictured), the editor for world news at, and published in today's Brussels Journal.

In his interesting op-ed, Helme discusses two main topics - first, the willingness of the Estonian civil service to scold the Estonian public over the affair rather than defend itself in the wake of Glaubitz's very public accusations.

But the second sheds more light on the things we know and the things we don't know:

Just when Estonian society was bracing itself for endless lectures about “true Western values” and the need to train our capacity for tolerance, the entire matter became a farce. On the same day the Estonian media reported that there had never been any harassing of the ambassador’s husband.

The papers wrote that the real reason for the ambassador’s early departure was the fact that his Cuban husband did not like the Estonian weather nor the local night life. Hence he was threatening to leave the ambassador unless the latter moved to somewhere warmer and livelier.

The Estonian authorities confirmed that not a single notification of racial or homophobic incidents had been reported by Ambassador Glaubitz, neither to the Estonian police nor the Estonian or Dutch ministries of Foreign Affairs.

Accusations of harassment that are not reported are hard to discuss. Are they perceived, real, did anything really happen? Who knows. And Glaubitz and his partner did spend the least fun time of the year in Estonia (autumn and fall) before deciding to leave Tallinn for balmy Montreal.

On the other hand, getting painted as a nation of SS-worshipping homophobes from the other side of Europe might make an offended person react by not taking Glaubitz's accusations at face value, and instead respond by insinuating that this is nothing more than the very personal becoming very private.

The best thing that can be said about these matters, is that all the individuals involved are human. From that fact alone, we can come to many simple conclusions.

neljapäev, juuni 08, 2006

Okei Õpetajad

Nii, mina olen lugenud viis uued imelikud sõnad.

Esimene oli rõhutama. See tähendab 'to underscore/to emphasize' inglise keeles. Mu lause -

Mats ütles et Arnold Oskmaa uus avaldus rõhutab et tema on üks näljakas huul.

Teine imelik sõna oli tõetama. See tähendab 'to back' inglise keeles. Leiutame midagi -

Taavi Veskimägi ütles eile, et Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit ei tõeta Arnold Rüütel presidentiks.

Järgmine sõna oli juht. 'Juht' tähendab 'conductor' või 'party leader' või 'leader.' Okei.

Lembitu oli vana eestis suur juht.

Neljaks meil on ammu teada - I have no friggin' idea what this means exactly. But Veskimägi said yesterday -

Rüütli kandideerimine oli ammu teada

Viimane on äpu. Ma arvan et see tähendab 'fool' või 'idiot' inglise keeles. Mu lause on -

Palju inimesi maailmas arvad et George W. Bush on tõeline äpu.

Presidential Update

Well, it appears that Keskerakond and Eesti Rahvaliit have been reading Eesti Päevaleht.

On May 23, Päevaleht published a story indicating that up against Edgar Savisaar or Arnold Rüütel, Toomas Hendrik Ilves would still win the presidency. One should keep in mind that at that time, neither Rüütel nor Savisaar had been publicly selected by either of their parties

Yesterday, Arnold Rüütel, Rahvaliit's strongest candidate and the 78-year-old sitting president, announced that he would represent Estonia in a second term if no other candidate could be agreed upon. Savisaar said that he would not seek the presidency if Rüütel was in the running.

Villu Reiljan, the Minister of the Environment, put on his poliical face this morning on ETV's Terevision program by saying that Rahvaliit could not support Ilves - who was born in Stockholm to Estonian refugees in 1953 and grew up in North America - because Ilves doesn't know Estonia.

However, Päevaleht released a poll showing that even up against Arnold Rüütel, who is still quite popular in Estonia, Ilves had more support among the public - be he born in Viljandi or Stockholm.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves is the preferred contender for Estonia’s highest office, according to a poll by Turu-uuringute published in Eesti Paevaleht. 36 per cent of respondents would like the Social Democratic Party (SDE) member to become president.

Current president Arnold Rüütel of the Estonian People’s Union (ERL) is second with 24 per cent, followed by Edgar Savisaar of the Estonian Centre Party (KESK) with 11 per cent.

Hmm. Savisaar's 11 percent plus Rüütel's 24 percent equals a combined 35 percent. That means that Ilves could face a tough battle against Rüütel. It also means that 30 percent of the Estonian public didn't know who to vote for.

The two sides seem locked in their positions. Interestingly, it is the two most right wing parties in Estonia - Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit and Reformierakond - that have pledged their support for Ilves - a social democrat.

Yesterday, Taavi Veskimägi (who is nearly 50 years younger than Rüütel) of the Isamaa-Res Publica union said that a vote for Rüütel would move Estonia backwards.

"Meie arvates Rahvaliidu presidendikandidaat Arnold Rüütel neid väärtusi ei esinda ning pigem sümboliseerib Eesti minevikku kui tulevikku," ütles Veskimägi. "Tema tagasivalimine presidendiks on Eesti jaoks halb valik."

"In our opinion, Rahvaliit's presidential candidate Arnold Rüü more a symbol of Estonia's past than future," Veskimägi said (approximately). "To choose him to go back to the presidency would be a bad choice."

kolmapäev, juuni 07, 2006

Is the Tartu Rahu Still Valid?

Oh, this is a question to be sure. But such are the questions when you ink deals with rogue states. And what could be a better epitomy of a rogue state than Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic - the Russia that existed between 1917 and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922?

It was on the second of February of 1920 that Jaan Poska (1866-1920), Ants Piip (1884-1942) (pictured), Mait Püüman, Julius Seljamaa (1883-1936), and Jaan Soots (d.1942) sat down with their Russian counterparts Adolf Joffe (1883-1927) and Isidor Gukovsky and signed the Treaty of Tartu, also known as the Tartu Preace Treaty, or Tartu Rahu in Estonian, in which the Russian RSFSR renounced its rights to Estonia in perpetuity.

The two most important people at that signing were Piip and Joffe. Piip reached the peak of his political career in the early 1920s when he was Riigivanem, or state elder, the highest position in Estonia before the establishment of the office of president. However, by the end of the 1930s he was just a rank-and-file member of the parliament. Still, when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in July 1940, Piip was arrested by the NKVD. He died in a prison camp in Perm oblast in Russia in January 1942.

Joffe is also an interesting character. He was one of the RSFSR's top diplomats until Lenin died in 1924. He was also a close friend and ally of Leon Trotsky, and after falling ill, he took his own life in 1927. Trotsky gave the eulogy at Joffe's funeral. It was the last speech that Trotsky gave in the Soviet Union. Trotsky was eventually assasinated in Mexico in 1940 with an ice axe. For his efforts, Ramon Mercader, the Spanish-born NKVD assassin, was awarded the 'Hero of the Soviet Union' medal, and split the rest of his life between Havana and Moscow. He has a place of honor in the KGB museum, and when he died in 1978, he was buried as a hero in Kuntsevo Cemetery in Moscow.

But what do all these dead men and the documents their once active hands signed have to do with us with our iPods, cellphones, Wifi connections, and blogs in the 21st century?

Plenty, as the Russian Foreign Ministry attests. For today, the seventh day of June, in the year of our Lord 2006, 66 years after Trotsky's skull was shattered with an ice axe, 64 years after Ants Piip died in a prison camp in Siberia, and 86 years after the RSFSR signed its treaty with Estonia, the Treaty of Tartu is declared 'no longer valid.'

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will resume border negotiations with Latvia and Estonia only after the two Baltic states withdraw political demands on Russia, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

Talks on border treaties between Russia and the two countries have stalled over territorial issues inserted into new versions of agreements by Estonia and Latvia, and the two countries' claims for compensation over what they term Soviet occupation.

Sergei Lavrov said Russia would only rejoin negotiations if the Baltic states returned to the original documents and remove the political subtexts.

"But as long as these political links are there, returning to the negotiating table is out of the question," he said.


The Russian and Estonian foreign ministers signed treaties on common borders on May 18, 2005, and the Estonian parliament ratified the documents on June 20, but with additional demands linked to the 1920 peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Estonia. On September 6, Russia notified Estonia that it was revoking its signature from the treaties because the 1920 document was no longer valid.

The preamble of Estonia's border agreement claims a) the legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia proclaimed on 24 February 1918 b) that the treaty partially amends the state border line established by Art. III section I of the Tartu Peace Treaty of 2 February 1920, c) the agreement shall not influence the rest of the treaty and shall not determine the treatment of bilateral issues not connected with border treaties.

At what moment did this document become no longer valid? Estonia signed a military alignment pact with the Soviet Union in September 1939, yet even at that point, the Treaty was apparently still in effect. For example, The Republic of Iceland has been recognized by the United States since 1944 and has had a base located there since 1951. However, the existence of American military presence in Iceland has not interfered with Icelandic sovereignty.

In 1940, after a new communist puppet government was created, the Republic of Estonia ceased to exist as far as Moscow was concerned, and was now a member state of the USSR, as established in 1922. The Tartu Rahu was no longer valid. It's living signers were now enemies of the Soviet state (Jaan Soots, who accompanied the delegation in 1920 and a former defense minister of Estonia, also died in a prison camp in Russia in 1942).

But, the current Estonian Republic considers itself the same republic that was founded in 1918 and signed the Tartu Peace Treaty. The Russian Federation considers itself the successor state to the USSR. For example, last year, Putin said that Russia owed Estonia no apology for occupation due to a resolution passed by the Soviet Supreme Council in 1989.

So what is afoot here? The Russian government does not recognize the Estonians as who they claim to be. The Russian foreign ministry, at the same time, is not exactly sure who it is. Sometimes - ie. when it comes to claims to the Kurile Island in the Pacific Ocean - the RF is definitely the successor state to the Soviet Union.

But when it comes to bilateral relations with Estonia, Russia is not so sure if it actually had anything to do with the Tartu Peace Treaty or not. Instead, it just wants to not discuss the past and move forward.

I guess this is an example of Russia's oft-discussed post-1991 identity crisis.

The sad irony here is that Estonia's preamble references resolutions already passed by the Riigikogu. Therefore, there is little need to reference those resolutions in this document. So if Estonia revoked the original document and passed a second one without the preamble - the legal effect would be exactly the same.

teisipäev, juuni 06, 2006

Dutch Ambassador to Leave 'Homophobic' Tallinn

Dutch Ambassador Hans Glaubitz (pictured, left) is leaving Estonia because his male partner, a black Cuban, has been the victim of homophobia and racism, according to several news reports.

The Ambassador's partner was subjected to verbal harassment and threats in the street and threats. These began after a local magazine wrote that the appointment of a gay Ambassador with a black partner had to be seen as a Dutch provocation.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs had hoped that Estonia, like its neighbour Finland, would be able to accept a relationship between two men. According to a report by the US Embassy in the capital Tallinn there have been nine cases of threats made to non-white embassy staff, mostly by Neo-Nazis or skinheads.

In a personal statement, quoted by the NRC, Glaubitz indicated the behaviour of the Estonian government was beyond reproach as his partner was treated well on an official level.

The treatment by members of the Estonian public was another matter. "[Estonian] society is far from ready for two men, particularly if one of them is black," Glaubitz said.

The Ambassador and his partner are being transferred to a two-year assignment at the Consulate General in Montréal, Canada.

First, does anybody know which local magazine was the first to discuss this man's private life? I doubt it was Kroonika, but could it have been the SL Õ? Pray tell to whom we all owe the honor of bad publicity for oma isamaa meie õnn ja rõõm...

Second - I actually heard - second hand - of an African-American individual affiliated with the American embassy that had to put up with a few 'Heil Hitlers' from some enthusiastic self-defoliating skinheads in Tallinn. I too was pressured for money from a leather-clad skinhead in the Old Town at an Internet Cafe. He actually asked me for money in Estonian, then Russian, then Finnish, and finally English. So you can't say they've lost all of their mental faculties :)

The idea that Estonia is any different from Finland though in its attitudes towards blacks, is a bit off mark though. Throughout my travels in Northern Europe I was privy to racist jokes a plenty. I don't think it is necessarily because people there are malevolently racist - I think it is because they just don't live near a lot of black people. When I lived in a very caucasian neighborhood as a child, I too had some funny ideas about people who didn't look like me. Now that I live in New York though, I have a lot of funny ideas about people that DO look like me.

A interesting tidbit is that the word for black man in Estonian is 'neeger' which is an insulting term in English, but Estonians insist that 'must' the word for 'black' also means 'dirty' and is a far more derogatory thing to call someone.

Estonian attitudes towards homosexuality though are a separate issue. I am currently unaware of any openly gay celebrities or high profile individuals in Estonia. I am aware they exist - and I am sure most people could point them out - but it just doesn't seem like something which is openly discussed in society.

Yet, sexuality isn't really openly discussed in public either. It is in magazines, sometimes on TV, but in a public setting? I rarely saw straight couples 'making out' or embracing in Old Town - and if they were, they were usually foreigners, or it was warm out and they were drunk.

I welcome all comments on Estonia's attitudes towards homosexuality though. I am NO expert.

I do think it's important though to view this from a European perspective. As any Dutchman will tell you, Holland, with the recent assasination of Pim Fortuyn and the murder of Theo Van Gogh, not to mention the effort to strip the citizenship of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is struggling with similar issues of bigotry and tolerance.

Three Years of Marital Bliss

This photo was taken on or about the 5th of August in 2002. The young woman in the red pants and red jacket is Epp - then just one of the many fuzzy foreigners in my company in Helsinki - now my wife and the mother of our child.

The clean (well cleaner than New York Harbor) waters of the Gulf of Finland are at play in the distance, and, according to my memory, I most likely was intoxicated by the time I took this photo of what was to become a familiar backside.

As of today - 6/6/06 - the number of the beast - we are officially married for three years. Many marriages don't last that long. For example, Lisa Marie Presley's marriage to Michael Jackson only lasted about 19 months. Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow on the other hand duked it out for a full two years. So we have something to be proud of - a true achievement in today's society!

When we got married, my romantic cousin asked if it meant that I wanted to "spend the rest of my life, forever and ever" with Epp. I have never been comfortable with the idea of the "rest of my life, forever and ever" because I am a bit of a fatalist and I just don't like predicting the future. I enjoy more to go with the flow. But, as of today, it does appear that we are on the road to spending the "rest of our lives, forever and ever" together.

We were married in Tallinn on June 6, and then took a sweaty bus south to Viljandi where we honeymooned (the most unlikely honeymoon spot on Earth). We had a nice south Estonian dinner and retired. The next day we greeted her family and I had to give an embarrasing speech. It was overcast. I still was getting used to having this metal ring on my finger. I always hated rings (or any jewelry, body art etc.) and so it took awhile to get used to. I have to say that I was a bit uncertain about getting married. In all my predictions for the future, marriage had never seemed to manifest itself in my dreams. I didn't know what to expect, I wasn't sure what it meant, I wasn't sure that if I was turned loose in a nightclub in Amsterdam if I'd succumb to adultery and other debacherous acts. I just was not very confident before I took the plunge.

But now, three years, later, it seems to have worked out pretty well. I like being married. In fact, I oddly am enjoying it more each year, which is the opposite of what others describe as a "long meal with dessert at the begining." The hype of marriage is long gone, and again it's just me and my kullake, living together, watching bad movies on the Lifetime network together, and, once in awhile, frequenting NYC comedy clubs together. Two peas in a pod. Two bees in a nest. Two humans in legal bondage :)

And, in a way, I am glad we did it the way we did it. Our wedding had little fanfare - limited planning, the thousands of cousins did not materialize to muster up a bon voyage. Instead, we just got married, and have lived happily since, so much so that, today, when I am on business trips, I actually have trouble sleeping without the warm human being in bed next to me.

A really good marriage necessitates the compliance of two really well-suited people. When I met Epp in Helsinki those four years ago, I knew pretty much immediately that she was creative enough, interesting enough, moody enough, and crazy enough to put up with somebody like me. It felt like I had finally found a partner that could put up with me and vice versa. And it seems that my gut instinct was right.

neljapäev, juuni 01, 2006

Toored Sõnad

OK...hakkame jälle.

Esimene on paras. Paras tähendab "fitting" või "appropriate" inglise keeles. Mu lause on:

Ma arvan et sul on parasid riided pülmale.

Teine on hälgima. 'Hälgimaä' tähendab "to starve" inglise keeles. Mu lause on:

Kui te ei söö mitte midagi, siis te kindlasti hälgite.

Kolmaks on ilmuma. 'Ilmuma' tähendab 'to appear' inglise keeles. Mu lause on:

Veevana ilmus jõepeal.

Neljaks on toores. 'Toores' tähendab 'raw' inglise keeles. Mu lause on:

Tõitsi lemmik toit on toored porgandid.

Okei, viimane sõna on segema. 'Segema' tähendab 'to disturb' inglise keeles. Mu lause on:

Need inimesed kes jööb kohvi sukru ja piimata alati segeb mind!