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!

How I Feel Here

Several people asked me whether Finland requires a two-week quarantine upon entering. My friend checked in for me when she was contacting the Finnish Border Control, and they told her something to the effect “recommended, but we do not check.” When I exited into the terminal, there were airport personnel meeting returning passengers. They were giving everybody the following flyer:

Granted, I am doing way more than that, starting from the fact that I didn’t go anywhere except my mom for five days before departure. I told Boris that he should buy all the food before I arrive (normally it’s one of our favorite things – to go to a grocery store together).

Looking at the rest of the world and Finland, I want to say that Finland is lucky not to have air conditioning and tourists. Or rather, both are present in small enough quantities not to make a negative impact.

Since there was never a mandate for wearing masks in public, and even a mask advisory didn’t stay for long, it looks like most people do not quite understand that masks protect the general public, not mask wearers.

Finland has close to none cases for over a month, and most of the restrictions are already lifted.
I do not know how I would feel about what I see around if my personal circumstances would be different. Right now, the whole thing feels pretty surreal, so details do not matter :). But I would say two things.

First, what I see proves to me that our normal norm is not gone forever. Perhaps, the most unbelievable thing was seen crowds of people going to the stadium on Saturday night:). There is still a lot of protection on place, and if you pay attention, you notice, but it does not prevent most of life going as usual.

Second, on the second day of being here, I got a very strong feeling, which can be described as “there can’t be heaven in one place if there is hell in the rest of the world.” This first moment when I thought, “I want to stay here forever” was fast gone. Through that first day, Boris was telling me all the time: relax and see how peace looks like. But he agreed with me when I told him: it can’t be peace when there is a war all around. Until the virus is defeated in the whole world, it won’t be the end. We are very thankful for the forces above us, which gave as that holiday in the rear at the time of war. But that’s a time off from the front, not the end of the war.

In the course of the past several months, we were often saying to each other “when this all will be over,” presuming we won’t be able to see each other in person earlier than that. And now we feel very distinctly, that “this” is not over. We got a leave warrant for good behavior 🙂

How It All Started

On July 10, the new EU regulations regarding border control were announced. It was already expected that the US would be banned from entering Europe. When we talked with Boris about it the next day, about the fact that for many countries, the doors are now open, I asked him whether he checked for details at the Finnish Border Control site and whether I should check, and he said – no, it will be just one more reason for me to be sad.

So I didn’t, but on Tuesday, July 14, I decided to check it, and to my surprise and amazement, I found out that some restrictions were relaxed. The website said that now not only families of EU citizens can visit, but also families of Finnish permanent residents can visit. I emailed Boris immediately, and Wednesday morning, we talked, and he asked whether I am coming next week.

Continue reading “How It All Started”

Eyes Progress

I should have said, “one eye progress.” 🙂

Anyway, now I can see that the level od the fluid is going down. Last night, I re-read all the information about that surgery, which I read before, and I realized that I saw it all, I just didn’t understand what they meant. They talked a lot about “a gas bubble, ” but I didn’t understand what it means. I could not imagine that it was like having this ish tank in your eye :). And I imagined a very different picture when they would say, “your vision will be blurry at first, but it will go away in several days.”

Now I understand that I won’t be able to drive or bike until this bubble would go away entirely because while even a part of it is there, I still have blind spots. 

It’s hard to say, with what speed it will progress, but I hope it will be gone within a week. 

As for the travel ban, the only thing we can do is wait and see. Boris still does not believe me about “next year,” he still thinks that the ban is political and that something will happen by August. As of today, there are only these many hours-long connections in London, which I do not want him to experience. Especially when Finland is effectively virus-free. So no changes in the observable future. 

All of Today’s Negativities

First, about my eye surgery. The vision in the operated eye is non-existent; it’s as if I have an aquarium inside. I know that that’s exactly what I have in my eye :), but it looks like everybody expected it to be better. Plus, I am seriously upset with this surgeon and the whole office and the whole organization. Vlad, who took me to the post-surgical today, is equally upset. We waited for him for the whole hour, and he didn’t even say that he is sorry for being late, and he barely talked to us. I am also upset that although I’ve explained to him how important it is for me to know what to expect after the surgery precisely, he didn’t give me the correct information like he said I would be able to drive right away. Now I do not trust anything of what he said, including whether I indeed needed this surgery.

I need to come for a checkup in two weeks, and then in another two weeks to see the first surgeon. I hope that my regular eye doctor will finally start coming to the office because I need to consult with her about the situation.

And on top of it – the EU is banning all the travel from the US. Now, once again, same as in March, although Boris theoretically can come, It won’t help if the planes won’t fly. And I still can’t go there because of the current restrictions.

I’ve almost talked myself into some calmness because there is nothing I can do, and because Penelope waited longer and didn’t have Facetime :).

Today Was a Special Day

Today, it was Boris’s 70th birthday. Needless to say, we had very different plans for that day than how it turned out. I would be OK if Boris would say he does not even want to mention it and would rather have a day as usual. But when we talked at the beginning of the week, I felt that he would not mind if I would make it special. 

We have a very long lasting tradition of dark red roses, which he said, “would not be possible that time.” Granted, I got out of my way to find a flower delivery in Helsinki:). The most difficult was to find a vendor who would allow to pick the flowers I needed, instead of suggesting one of the existing arrangements. And another challenge was to switch between translating into English and not because the actual ordering and payment pages had to be displayed in Finnish when I was filling them in.

I took a day off today. Since we have “summer Fridays,” I only had to take a half-day. I used it to run most of my errands (shopping is great on Friday morning, the stores are almost empty). And also, that way we could talk during the day. We decided to have a meal together; it was an early lunch for me, and a dinner for him. I bought a rose of the same color so that our roses could talk to each other.

Also, I baked a rhubarb and strawberry pie. Same as with quiche, that’s something we both like, but since my unsuccessful experiments over thirty years ago, I thought that I would never master that skill. But then I saw that recipe, looked up a couple of other suggestions on how to make a rhubarb filling, used pre-made crust, and gave it a try. 

It didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted, I should not have reduced the amount of sweetener in the filling, but I will know next time. Adding some corn starch was a great idea, though. 

I have to add that rhubarb is very popular in Estonia, contributing to our love of that treat. And next time, it will be perfect 🙂

How Things are, and How I am

It calmed down in many different ways. In the beginning, I was calling Boris at least three times a day. I told him upfront that I will be not a normal person, and that I need his help to get to some stable set of mind.

I think that what affected me most was that things were changing so rapidly, and that was giving a sense of everything falling apart. But recently, I got back to almost normal. There are no logical reasons for that. The situation in the country and the world didn’t become better; in fact, it became worse. I even somehow started to accept the fact that Boris and I might not see each other till the end of the year. 

It would be the longest time ever for us being apart, and it does seem like “never.” I told him the other day that I want to put his things away, out of sight. I did not want to do that, because the only time in my life I did it was when I thought we are going to divorce. But he said he is fine with me putting his things away if later I can make a show of putting them back. 

We talk for 30-40 minutes every morning before I start work and, most of the time, for another 30-40 minutes later in the day. And our usual long talks on the weekend. We talk about work and research, and various home improvements, and yet another new computer. And we never talk about how much we miss each other. 

A couple of days ago, Boris told me that Finnair called him about the flight on March 20, which he canceled online. They said to him that they are going to “uncancel” it and that he will be able to choose any other flight before the end of the year. They said “for now,” assuming that based on the situation, the extension may go to the next year. For some reason, I felt very encouraged by that exchange, although I know that nobody knows:)

I Am In The Slow Mode For A Week, And Air Travel Surprises

Boris came on Wednesday, and this will be the last time before October when we are going to see each other in person. As usual, the adjustment from living solo to living together, even temporarily, is hard. This time especially, since I was unusually stressed with all the things going at work and in my professional life in general. I didn’t have time to adjust to the slower pace mentally. Our velocity of living is very different, and each time we are making an effort to reconcile these differences at least for a short time.

From Wednesday to the next Wednesday, I will have no volunteering activities, and I took one day work from home and one and a half days off. We shall see how it goes.

There was one funny thing about his arrival. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has four terminals: 1,2,3 and 5 (do not ask me why :)). Terminal 5 is international, no matter which airline you take, the passport control and customs are located in Terminal 5. It usually always takes time to get out of it due to the long lines, even if you do not have the checked baggage. With the flight arrival time of 3-45PM, we agreed that I would leave work at about 3 PM. The CTA Blue Line, which goes to ORD is a little bit unpredictable, like the whole CTA in general, so although the stop is very close to my office, it could take from 35 to 50 min to get to ORD. Plus, Terminal 5 is the furthest from the CTA stop, so it’s a separate journey. Plus, the inner airport transit is still under construction, and there are shuttle buses between terminals, which also adds time. With all these calculations in mind, we agreed on the meeting time 3 PM and our usual meeting point. Since we both have vision disabilities, having a default meeting point helps a lot.

That was the first time he had a connection in Dublin, and I was watching the live updates on his flight. BTW, Google always knows what flight I am looking for, so I do not even need to type the number. It showed the arrival time slightly earlier than on the schedule (3-33 PM), and I decided to leave 5 minutes earlier, although we both know that this time does not mean anything. Some airlines report arrival at the point of the aircraft touching the ground, and there can be 10-15 min of cruising afterward.

I was on the CTA when Boris called, and he almost never calls the phone, because it is way more expensive than a video call. I was trying to tell him that I am still on the CTA, but then I’ve realized that he was telling me that he is on Terminal 3. And after he said so, I’ve realized that that’s what arrival information was telling me, but I chose not to believe it :).

After all, it saved us tons of time, because when I arrived, he called me again and said that he was already by the CTA station. But I was curious to find out what happened. Turned out that as he put it, “The US is expanding its borders.” If you ever traveled by air from Canada to the US, you know that the US border control is taking place in the airport in Ottawa or where else your flight starts. So when you are boarding, you are already on the US territory. The same thing happened in Dublin, and he didn’t realize that it was an actual border control, except he was puzzled by the additional security checkpoint. He only looked into his passport when it was announced that the arrival will be in Terminal 3 :). It ended up being very convenient, and now we know why the connection was three hours long!