Two reasons Boris could not come here for Thanksgiving were two Ph.D. defenses. One was in Saint Petersburg, and it’s already done, and the other one will be in Finland (not in Helsinki, but I forgot what’s the name of the city close by).

Today, he called me at 5 AM my time to show off in a tuxedo which they lent to him for the event. I do not think he ever wore a tuxedo in his life :).

Looked nice 🙂

Things Happen…

Here is what the plan was. After almost two years of living in crisis (due to various reasons), Boris and I agreed to try to return to normalcy, and as a part of it, to try to live a week without any special events, just doing our usual things.

Boris’s school usually has a midterm week at the end of October, so there are no classes. Also, there are no actual midterms for the courses he teaches, so he didn’t need to be online. That being said, we planned for him to come on Saturday the 23rd (he has classes on Friday) and leave next Sunday.

When I talked to him on Sunday, he said: you know, there is one complication… It turned out that he never checked his schedule, and the actual midterm week was not the last week of October but one before last! There was already too late to exchange the tickets (and in any case, the airlines stopped doing the unlimited exchanges), so now he will have to teach at night!!! Or rather in the wee hours of the morning, both Thursday and Friday, and another long meeting on Wednesday. So much for careful planning!

Half-pandemic May

Today, Chicago and the state of Illinois lifted most remaining COVID-19 mitigation-related masking and social distancing requirements and capacity limits. It isn’t quite the end of an era, but it is a step forward.

But when I wrote a decent chunk of this post (on June 7), many of those limits were still in place, and Chicagoland region was caught in an interesting half-way state that had as much to do with people’s attitudes as anything that was formally required.

I’ve been Chicagoland specifically because the United States, for better or for worse, continues to be a patchwork of restrictions, regulations and approaches. For the past 12 months, I’ve been able to sit down in coffee shops in Kenosha (Wisconsin) and Michigan City (Indiana), but not in Chicago and most suburbs. Masking has also varied – as I mentioned before, Kenoshans really didn’t mask much until the fall 2020 surge in cases.

In the past two months, we saw two major developments.

In late April, CDC issued a recommendation stating that people don’t have to wear masks outdoors – though it still recommended that unvaccinated people wear masks in crowded outdoor settings. Then, on May 13, it recommended allowing vaccinated people to go maskless indoors, except in public transit, government buildings, hospitals and some other congregate settings. Illinois and Chicago specifically adjusted their respective regulations accordingly – which meant, in practice, that businesses and public institutions such as libraries could continue requiring everybody to wear masks, if they so chose.

Continue reading “Half-pandemic May”

My Very Rare Family Time

I am on my way back to Chicago. It was a strange trip, for sure. After being on that overbooked UA flight, I regretted my decision to go and thought that Boris is right that we should not make too many moves during a pandemic.

In Helsinki, the situation was not the same as when I was there in October. They have way more cases than previously. Although it’s still way less than in Illinois, and the number of deaths, hospitalized patients, and patients in ICU is microscopic compared to our number, more restrictions are still instilled.

That meant that we didn’t go to any concerts, and in general did less outside home. Although this time we were biking together again.

Another factor that influenced how I felt was my panic about the speed with which our book is going and that we are behind all possible deadlines. And finally, the fact that I needed to record my presentation for the conference!

At some point, I asked Boris whether he thought it was the right idea for me to travel. He said that he hoped that I was able to relax. And the surprising thing is that it was true!

When I decided to go, I joked that it was the most expensive way to avoid holiday cooking and cleaning. But the fact is that for the whole week, I didn’t cook a single meal, didn’t wash a single plate, and didn’t do laundry. And I did only fun shopping if anything.

Although Boris had to teach a class this week and had some work meetings and some work in general, he allowed me to concentrate on writing 100%. And I am really thankful for that!
Also, I completely forgot that I wanted to print our logo on a t-shirt. And that Boris also wanted a t-shirt with this logo, and even bought a white t-shirt for that. We did it on Sunday – and that’s what I just posted:) (I wrote it yesterday but forgot to publish)

A Division Of Labor:)

Last week, before I left to Helsinki, I stopped at my neighbor to let her know I am leaving and just to chat. At that moment, I thought that I had to be on strict quarantine all the time, so that’s what I told her when she asked me what we are going to do in Helsinki.

She said: well, you can just relax at home, and go for a walk. And then she added: and you will be cooking for him, right?

I replied: no. In Helsinki, I am not even allowed in the kitchen. When Boris is here, I cook and clean and everything, and when I am over there, he does everything.

I can’t even describe an expression on my neighbor’s face. I think she never thought that could be even possible. She was trying to imagine how it can be and then saidL yea… I guess…

I think that it was the first time in all these years she knows us she thought that it may be something in this whole remote idea 🙂


Two weeks ago, Boris had the same surgery as I had in February. Yet another time, I see a striking difference between our health care system and the one they have in Finland. But I do not want to elaborate on this subject just now 🙂

The fact is, that it was always thought that his vision is way worse than mine, because he has limited vision fields, and some blind spots right in the middle. So, I guess he has been thinking for a while that in comparison to that, the miopy in not an issue. And it is. So a couple of days after he had his first eye operated, he told me: you know, today I realized that I need to clean the kitchen floor! And I was: awww! I am so happy!

It’s not something you would comment on when you visit, so I aways suffered in silence 🙂

The second surgery is going to be in a week, and I think that after that, he may be able to see even better than me!

Matter Does Not Disappear!

A week before Easter, when the future of traveling was one big unknown, I wanted to do something special for Boris, and I, with his consent, mailed him a parcel. There were several small bike accessories that he ordered on Amazon planning to pick them up when he would come in March (which didn’t happen). And a couple of other small things, which I added. Overall, it was a small parcel, and I marked it as a gift and put some small value on it.

The mail was slow back then. I checked the package status every day. It took mother than three weeks for it to be cleared with customs and depart from ORD. That happened on May 5, and after that, I haven’t seen any changes in its status.

I tried to file a “missing mail,” but since the package already left the US, and didn’t arrive in Finland, none of the postal services would start the investigation. I sadly pronounced the package lost.
On Wednesday, after I already departed, Boris got a notice from Finnish customs. It turned out that sometime between departure from ORD and arriving in HEL, the house number and the apartment number of the package address where switched. For some reason, some taxes were due on that shipment, but Boris didn’t know since the notice was sent to the wrong address. After the address confusion was resolved and the notice was delivered to Boris, it was too later – the shipment was sent back!
… After all, I was glad to find out that matter does not disappear!