Marathons, standing up and Ariana

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It’s been a few months since my last post… So, let’s catch up.

Paris, London, standing up and Edinburgh

Foolishly I singed up for three marathons. I’m a big, strong, macho-macho man (did you read that last bit in the Village People voice?… or is it just me) and surely I can do all three – no biggie.

Let’s start with Paris on 9th April.

The weather was sunny and very warm – massive improvement from London. I took the Eurostar train to Paris, which turned out to be much more expensive than expected. That’s because I forgot I had to plan time to grab my race pack the day before the marathon. Changing that ticket cost me exactly as much as a new ticket would’ve cost – about £60. Money well spent!

My hotel was a disappointment. Somehow I figured that if I pay £90 to stay a night, my hotel room would have a bath and wifi. I was proven wrong. Never assume, always check, trust nobody… especially when in a foreign land!!!

It wasn’t all bad. The race was very well organized and everything happened like clock-work. Without a doubt, the 57,000 runner marathon was the biggest I’ve ever taken part in. It was amazing.

I finished in 3:35:49 – I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be but hey… I made it to the other side of the line. I spent the rest of the day walking around in the city. I remember climbing some stairs, which was an awful idea, as my legs didn’t work properly – I actually called my mom half way through in an attempt to solicit some pity. #NewLow

Two weeks later it was time to run London. I was very familiar with this race as it was my second time participating. The biggest difference with Paris was the crowd. The entire course is full of people cheering you on in London – this was not the case in Paris. I’d like to think that this was because instead of cheering, people were running it in Paris. As a runner, the experience was better right here at home running on my familiar roads.

Right after crossing Tower Bridge (half way) I managed to hurt my leg (glute – that’s the ass muscle) and slowed down considerably. I spent the next two hours in pain. I did not enjoy this run and struggled a lot. It didn’t go as planned, however again I finished. It took me 03:43:45.

Following the race I made my way to get some pampering at the Lucozade “hospitality” event. To clarify, I won a spot in the race when I bought £20 worth of Lucozade energy gels and signed up for the lottery on their website.

That event was super fancy and way-way-way better than I expected. All the Lucozade sponsored runners (including me) got a chance to get a shower, a massage and grab some food/drinks in a fancy lounge with a Formula 1 race car as a prop. The car was in a see-through plastic box, so we could only drool over it as we ate and enjoyed a drink or two. It was really cool!

The next day I made my stand-up comedy debut. You heard that right. I wanted to sign up for intermediate level acting classes but left it for too late – all classes were sold out and I decided to pick something similar. A stand-up comedy class worked with my schedule and I went for it.

I didn’t realize we all had to do a stand-up comedy performance to a live audience in the final week of the course before I singed up. However, I paid the money and it was too late to back out.

We worked on our comedy each week – turns out there’s quite a bit of structure to it. One of the highlights was our “talent” show week where we had to present any kind of talent to the class participants. One chap played the guitar, another one was singing the cup song etc. My favorite was the guy who said he hurt his shoulder a few months ago but was going to attempt a handstand. Before the deed, he said “This might go horribly wrong”… we all laughed. Then he got up to do his magic and epicly failed at his handstand. He crashed down onto the floor, yelping in pain and holding on to his shoulder. We were all laughing, it was brilliant!!! Then after a solid minute of laughter somebody asked if he was actually hurt… and he was! We laughed even more. It was so funny. The laughter quieted down and I’m happy to say that the dude wasn’t hurt too bad – he ain’t doing handstands any time soon.

Back to my comedy debut. The venue was in Central London near Piccadilly Circus and we all got to invite friends and family. Therefore, it was a very easy crowd. The event was open to the public as well. Anywho… the place was packed – at least 70 people I would say.

I only rehearsed my script a few times. Therefore I was very nervous before going on stage. However, it wasn’t that bad. Sadly, because of the stage lights, I could only see only a few people in the front row of the audience.

I remember one black kid in the first row almost fell out of his chair with laughter after he was hit in the nose by my joke’s punchline. That was the best part of the night for me. Success! Ivar the Not So Terrible strikes victory!

It was a great night. I’m glad my friends came to show their support. Covanova actually flew all the way from San Francisco to come see me humiliate myself. #BroLove Not all my friends showed such devotion – a few canceled last minute because some lame BS excuse.

I had to grab a few drinks to calm myself after my performance as I was visibly shaking. It’s quite interesting – even though my bit was done, I was more nervous than ever before. The human condition remains mysterious to me…

Moving on. My third marathon was in Edinburgh on the 28th May. This was my first visit to Scotland and in all honesty I didn’t want to run. I was broken and not ready to run a marathon. I did it anyway. It took me 4:12:47 where I walked a fair bit. This is the second slowest marathon I’ve ever run and the one I enjoyed least. My leg was acting up again and now I’ve decided to call it quits for a month or so until it gets better. I’m tired of the pain and the same story/results after every run. I’ll focus on sitting on my ass, watching TV and getting fat instead.

By the way, Edinburgh is a very nice little city. The castle on the hill was really cool. Beware: the sun is evil in Scotland and it burns. I came back with a sunburn on my face, neck, hands and legs – like a proper tourist.

Ariana

I’ve been watching Ariana’s One Love Manchester concert today…. and it was beautiful. She is one of my favourite artists and did a great job with the show. Well done!

London Bridge is only 3 km away from where I live. I was at a zouk social near home yesterday when the terrorist attack happened. I didn’t think much of it and we carried on dancing as normal. The previous day I was in the very area of the attacks singing karaoke and getting drunk. 😀

Watching Ariana’s concert reminded me of a video I saw a few years ago. It was about an ultra-marathon runner who was asked what it feels like to run these long races. He jokingly said he feels like every step he takes is getting closer to achieving world peace, ending poverty and hate. I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I would like to think that every dance gets me closer to these goals as well. After all, zouk is the dance of love.

Keep dancing kids,

Ivar the Not So Terrible

 

Golden cracks

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First off, my blood pressure is fine – all within normal ranges. However, I still need to go back to see another doctor to get my form for the marathon signed. I know right… three appointments to get a bloody one paragraph form signed. In my opinion the NHS is a highly inefficient organization as I clearly explained to them that the sole reason why I’m there is to get a form signed. They, however, initially referred me to a doctor who wasn’t even a “proper” doctor – I think she was a registrar (whatever that means… she did examine me, so she must be some kind of doctor). Now, after a few weeks they tell me I need to go back again to see a real doctor. It’s a mess. I have nothing but negative experiences with the NHS and I hope their organization goes bust and burns down in flames. It’s such a hassle to deal with this level of incompetence. They’re also going to charge me £30 (probably to  cover their own ass in the scenario in which I actually die in the marathon) to get my form signed and it takes them up to 28 workdays to do it. If these guys are so incompetent I’m sure many people die at the hospitals here because of neglect, carelessness and rampant stupidity.

In other news, remember my three big exams back in December? You probably don’t, as nobody cares. Anywho, I managed to pass them all. I even got “merit” i.e. 80%+ on the difficult derivatives exam. That one was a real tough cookie… I’m very pleased. However, not a single fuck was given at work – these results are considered normal for me. Now I can add another badge to my collection – CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management, which means I am qualified to the chartered wealth manager qualification (think portfolio manager, investment manager). I expected to get a second diploma as well, but for some reason didn’t – I’m trying to find out why… So hopefully another diploma will follow up in the near future.

Otherwise, I’ve been banned at work from taking any further exams/qualifications. I’ve got too many and my focus should be on building soft skills – sales, negotiating, conversing, building trust/rapport etc.

Let’s talk Brexit. I recently had my 3 year anniversary in the UK. The reason I bring this up is because I had a client meeting. MR was a British citizen and MRS was an EU citizen. They were married and had a little daughter. MRS had been in the UK for 5+ years and applied for permanent residency. Guess what, she was denied. “Get back to your own country!!!” the UK government basically told her.  How about that? Stories like that aren’t just isolated cases, they are everywhere. I think this situation is inhumane and just plain wrong. I wonder what it’s going to be like for me if I ever apply to stay here longer – although I need to be here for at least another two years before I qualify to apply for anything. It’s not looking good.

I was a bit bored today and went to the British Museum – it’s only a 10 minute walk from where I live. There wasn’t anything specific I wanted to see… I just thought I should go. I always struggle with the concept of standing in line – to enter a museum!!! Of all places. I understand if there’s a line at Starbucks or at the Apple store etc – there’s usually something really good at the other end. But it’s a museum – full of old stuff mostly stolen from other countries…

Anywho I ended up looking at Picasso’s paintings. It was infuriating. The paintings are so bad that it’s so difficult for me to see why other people think he was such a great artist. I just don’t get it.

kitsugi

However, it wasn’t all bad. I found one exhibit which I absolutely fell in love with. It was a vase – a broken vase which was put together with gold. The technique is called kitsugi, where they use molten gold to piece together the shards of a broken object. I love the concept. Instead of hiding flaws, mistakes and cracks – this technique highlights them. The cracks are important, they’re there to be noticed and reflected upon. You can put broken things together and you shouldn’t be ashamed of the flaws and imperfections. I found it very inspiring.

This brings me back to my earlier paragraph. If Brexit happens, the EU breaks down, NHS goes tits up, Marie Le Pen wins, robots take over the world and Trump accidentally blows up a few countries (like many of his predecessors by the way) – I am hopeful that eventually we might get something beautiful put together again.

Mr Salacious

Posted in UK

Buzzing away in a damp bunker and singing Hallelujah

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Did you know that thinking about your death or mortality before a race improves your performance? That’s what I read in an article. There’s something about that thought which puts our brains into hyper-survival mode and improves physical capability. I will give this idea a go at my next racing event.

I didn’t just randomly start with the above in mind. In order to run Paris, I need to provide the organizers a form signed by my doctor which basically says that I won’t die half way through the marathon.

As a perfectly sane and rational male of the 21st century, I’ve been successfully avoiding the doctor for the last six years. Why see a doctor if I I’m invincible and can Google everything, right? And this time has been amazing. However, all good things come to an end.

In late December I surmised all my courage and dialed the local GP (General Practitioner – that’s what they call a doctor here) on my phone. I had to physically go there to fill in a form to register – it couldn’t be done online. I sort of expected to see a doctor once I handed in the application but they said it’ll take about a week to process it. Things aren’t exactly efficient here at the NHS (National Health Service).

Anywho, about two weeks later I found myself being examined by Dr K. That sounds a bit dull, so let’s call her Dr Dre. At first she was a bit puzzled about why I was there and why she had no prior medical data about me on the system. She asked me the same questions from the form I had already filled in – so much for “processing” my form.

I explained that I needed her to sign my paper so I can run in Paris. Dr Dre decided to measure my blood pressure instead. It was high. She did it again. High. And a third time. Still high. I had to come back next week. She didn’t sign anything.

I came back to see the nurse for a new reading. This time the blood pressure was lower but still high. The second and third measurements were slightly lower but not good enough. I had to book another appointment.

Today I went back to get a blood pressure thingy on my arm, which I need to have on me over the next 24 hours. It takes a reading every 20-50 minutes and buzzes and clicks as it does its magic. Each time it registers the reading and then the doctors can get an average over a day. The whole idea is to rule out white coat syndrome where my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I see a doctor or nurse. If it’s still high even after the 24 hours they will need to do some further more invasive tests. By the way the device scares the crap out of me every time it starts – I’m rather skeptical about whether this device will do the trick for me.

Obviously, the moment I got my new toy I went off to my acting class. I thought the other kids would never notice… The class started as usual with all of us sitting in a circle sharing ideas of any good or bad acting we’ve seen in movies/plays/theaters to share experiences and make recommendations. Then we had to put the chairs back to the walls. That’s then it started buzzing – I need to sit still and try to relax during the measuring. And the bloody thing doesn’t get its reading on the first go, or the second, or the third. It stopped making noises after the fourth try and by then everybody was staring at me thinking why is this guy ignoring the teacher’s instructions. I explained it quickly and they all now probably think that I’m dying or something. My flu and occasional coughs didn’t exactly do me any favors.

Let me fill you in on the flu as well. I ran a half marathon when it was nice and cold outside – around 2 degrees. I was sick before the race and as a completely reasonable human being I thought that a little run can’t make it any worse. Oh boy was I wrong. First of all it was a fairly crappy finishing time (1 hour 34 minutes and something) which was followed by a week of coughing my lungs out. 10/10 experience, totally worth it. 😀

I know what you’re thinking… acting!!! Where did that come from? Well, boys and girls, it gets better. I didn’t add just acting classes to my repertoire I’m also learning to sing.

The seed was planted when I started my new job as a financial adviser – a job which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. I started singing classes to add vocal variety to my speech – this will hopefully make it more interesting for my clients to listen when I talk and help me have more “presence” with my voice in meetings. The acting classes have a big improvisation component and client meetings have a big element of that – I need to learn to think on my feet, also entertain and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.

In all fairness I thought that acting and singing would make me very uncomfortable and that it would be a massive move out of my comfort zone – but it’s not as bad as I imagined. Yes, we do things which are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing but it gets better with practice.

My favorite part about the acting classes is watching the other kids perform an impromptu sketch. They always mess it up and it’s hilarious. The course ends with us performing a small scene where two of us are in a bunker and the world has ended due to a nuclear war.

Singing is weird. It’s not something I normally do but I quite enjoy it. I even made a YouTube playlist of videos which have lyrics on them so I can sing along. My current favorite is the Hallelujah song from the movie Shrek. A close second is Let It Go from Frozen (although it’s quite a tongue-twister). I sing when I’m sad and then I’m a little less sad. It’s amazing how that works.

The Protein Deficient Vegan

My first third finish

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“All sub 20 minute runners step forward to the starting line!” the man said into the loudspeaker. I only saw one chap move forward. Then “all sub 25 minute runners step forward to the start line” and a few people edged closer to the line. “All sub 30 minute runners step forward”… that’s when I realized I should get myself way in front of everybody. And I did.

The 5K race started and I was second about 80% of the time. It felt wrong. How could I be second? I’ve never been second, never in front of the pack. Never. It was a new experience for me and it felt good.

The morning was cold (+2 degrees) and a bit windy before the Victoria Park 5K/10K/half marathon event. Breathing was unpleasant but I knew it was only a fiver… it would all be over in about 20 minutes. Surely I can keep my pace up for such a short distance I thought. About a kilometer before the finish one chap ran past me and I finished third. My time was 20:19.

third-place

Yes, it wasn’t a very competitive race but finishing third was a very pleasant surprise. It’s especially true because this morning I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed. I’m glad I did.

Instead of going straight home I decided to watch other runners finish.

I love watching the fat and unfit people run. They are slow, in pain and tired but they keep chugging along – one step after another. I see hope in their faces, followed by relief and a sense of accomplishment once they cross that line. Some were greeted and congratulated by family, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s quite interesting to watch the tired faces turn into smiles and chuckles. You see a lot less of that with the fit and average runners.

I’ve got a few more races planned for the year. Stay tuned!

The Dirty Vegan

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

2016 is behind us and it’s time to reflect.

hny2017

My most memorable events were:

January. I fell in love every few minutes at the Warsaw Zouk Libre festival (Poland). The girls were absolutely stunning! I still remember that Irish girl… I left Poland with a broken heart.

February. I spent quality time with Benn and Em in Bansko (Bulgaria) and mastered downhill skiing and snowboarding on the kiddie slope.

March. Moved house and got massively screwed by the renting agency.

April. I lost a friend to suicide and ran the Virgin London Marathon.

May. I was dancing and prancing at the Prague Zouk Marathon. I haven’t washed my eyes since seeing that hot naked model stroll through the city that day.

June. I became Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and instead of calling it quits on all the studying I took another two big exams and passed them. Once a student, always a student.

July. I had my 10 year high school anniversary and later that month I fell in love with every other girl in Barcelona (Spain). I had a magical time at the Mataro Zouk Devils & Friends festival. I also discovered my new favorite holiday activity – drinking sangria under a massive umbrella at the beach.

August. I quit my job.

September. I ran another marathon in some park in London and took part in a flashmob.

October. Both of my housemates left me and new ones moved in.

November. I started working as an independent financial adviser, which is exactly what I set out to do almost three years ago when I started my first job as an admin assistant at that very company.

December. I took another three big exams but don’t know yet if I passed them or not.

I think it’s been a relatively good year. But there’s more. I’m going to let you guys in on a little something. I’ve been writing a list of all the good things which have happened to me throughout the year. In fact I started back in October 2015. I don’t remember where I got the idea from but it started out with a positive comment about a blog post I wrote (Thanks Kadri, you were the one who set the ball rolling for me). I kept adding things daily and before I knew it, looking out for the good things in my life became easier and easier. My friends, colleagues and housemates keep getting mentioned over and over again.

Here’s a sneak peak of the list:

  • Hot Chocolate helped me upstairs to my room when I was too drunk after the advisor lunch. 15 Dec 2015
  • Note about rat poison on the floor and that I shouldn’t eat from the floor 16 Dec 2015
  • Meeting Gerli – unicorn zouk dancer 2 Feb 2016
  • Not dying on the mountain 26 Feb 2016
  • I cracked up when Resh fell over at her desk at work today. 8 Mar 2016
  • Amazon paid the rent and deposit and we’re not poor anymore. 9 Apr 2016
  • Val told me there was one guy [at the dancing venue] who asked her “have you seen this guy? He’s amazing!” whilst he pointed at me. 5 August 2016
  • Covanova bought me a Monster before we went flashing 8 August 2016
  • Role playing with Hot Chocolate was hilarious. He is such a “dumb” client, I laughed my ass off when I explained him what an annuity was whilst using a magic pen analogy 17 August 2016
  • I ate a full tub of vegan ice cream (750 ml) just moments after the delivery guy handed the bloody thing over to me. Nom nom nom. 22 August 2016
  • Covanova and I will share the hotel during ZoukFest. We can share the shower again, just like in the good old days. 1 Dec 2016

I’m all smiles after going through the entire list just now. I’ve never actually read the entire thing. It’s well worth it.

I hope you all had a good year and I wish you all the best – especially to all the people who contributed in a positive way to my life. Love you guys!

Happy New Year,

The Vegan

The newest Fairey in town

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It’s been a long time coming…

They announced the acquisition of my employer back in April. This created a fair bit of uncertainty and tension at work. I wasn’t worried because good paraplanners are in great demand in London. However, just in case, I started to browse job ads – you know… I gotta take care of myself.

I was really looking for an improvement to my current situation (more money and career progression) and didn’t want to simply change employers whilst staying in the exact same line of work. Recruiters really struggled with this concept as they kept pestering me with paraplanner opportunities.

I had an interview at an accounting firm, which had a financial planning arm. They needed an all-things-financial specialist. The interview went really well. At least, so I thought. They promised to get back to me within a week’s time. However, not a single peep. After three weeks, I sent an email to the recruiter who I was in touch with and said that I do not want anything to do with him or that accounting business and explained how disappointing their communication was. It’s a very poor sign if your employer starts breaking promises from the very beginning.

After that email, they immediately got back to me to get me into another meeting to chat with the wider team and managers etc. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t desperate… and that put me into a much better bargaining position. Maybe I’m an idealist but I would like to work for a company which treats its employees well. My “no” decision was not up for debate.

Moving on, somehow my old boss found out I was looking for jobs. He later told me that one of the guys from a recruitment agency told him he had received my resume. So much for confidentiality… I will never trust recruiters again. It’s sad that such immoral people exist. However, that’s the world we live in. Welcome to London!

My old boss (from the company in Chelmsford) called me and said in his cheeky cheerful voice something along the lines of “a little bird told me you’re on the market again”. This was followed by a big hearty explosion of laughter. I agreed to meet up at his newly opened London office. We had a catch up and he made me an offer to join the dark side.

experiment-quote

I did a bit of soul searching in Spain (zouk festival near Barcelona) and on my return I decided that I’ll jump ship. So I handed in my notice and my three month clock started.

It’s quite a long time to wait three months to start a new venture. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass passed and now I’m the newest Fairey in town. This new chapter is called IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), which is exactly what I set out to do since my first job interview at this very company about 2.5 years ago.

I’ve been wearing my new adviser hat for a few weeks now and in all fairness I have a long way to go. However, I’m hugely optimistic. If Leo can get an Oscar, UK vote for Brexit, and Donald Trump can become president, I can surely become one of UKs top financial advisers.

Big boss man thinks that the best way for me to learn is to make me as uncomfortable as possible. At times, it’s certainly challenging, with a hint of occasional embarrassment and a dash of feelings of worthlessness. The deep end of the pool looked a lot scarier a few weeks ago. I’ve made some progress.

So.

If you guys need some financial advice, hit me up. I’m sure my financial planning magic will leave you in a state of eternal happiness, joy and serenity.

Oh and I don’t have to wear a tie at work. Life is good again!

Ivar

SteveO

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One of my friends died.

He was a good man, a happy man – always smiling, always joking. I used to call him bald Steve. I was never able to spell his last name… I loved his humour and his laughter. He was one of the good ones. Why did he die and not some other horrible person? There’s plenty of them going around.

We worked together at my old job.

One of the last things I said to SteveO was “I will miss seeing my reflection from the top of your head. If I was female I’d slap that tight bum of your’s as well.”

SteveO drove me home that day and on other occasions as well (for example when it was raining outside or I needed a lift to catch my train).

He was kind.

He was humble.

I wish more people were like him.

He was a friend.

I will miss you,
Ivar

Today is moving day

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Firstly I’m moving my ass back to England.
I miss home. I was on the bus and I got a bit nostalgic. I was listening to a romantic song and watching out the window. It reminded me of that time I was living in my campervan in Australia near Shepparton.
I loved watching the sunset but I remembered the mozzies… so many of them. I used to open the back door and scroll down all the windows and go for a drive so that the wind would blow all the mozzies out before I went to sleep. #Lifehack… Life wasn’t perfect but in many ways it kinda was.

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Today’s plan is to move house. I’m changing jobs and will move to London as well. I’ve been in the UK for 1.5 years and virtually all this time was spent in Chelmsford. It seems like I’ve been missing out on the whole UK experience. I think London will be good for me.
My new place is the most expensive I’ve ever lived in (£750 pcm for my room) but the location is very good. The closest tube station is Angel and the place is only 1.5 km from work – I can skip the whole rush hour commute and stroll to work in only 15-20 minutes.
My new flatmates are Daniel (car surveys) and Joshua (IT guy). I haven’t met Josh yet. Dan seemed nice. He is/was a runner, plays guitar and seemed like a good chap.
BTW when I was flat hunting I only looked at one place – I didn’t have much time because of my sudden trip to Estonia. I checked the place out and said I’ll take it because of the location. There was another place which was even better however the rent was £1000 pcm – a bit too pricey right now. I hope my new home is fine though.
I’m probably not going to finish packing/moving today but I’ll get most of it done. I’ll finish on Monday.
Monday is also the first day in my new job. Exciting stuff.

Faith in humanity restored… and then lost again

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I didn’t quite know when the funeral was going to be. All I knew was that it’s the first week of August. So I booked my outbound flights for the 2nd August.
Just a few days later they set the date for the funeral and it was on the 1st of August.
Great news. It made my day.
I had no choice and booked a one-way flight to Tallinn (with a connecting flight from Amsterdam). Problem solved.
I also had to visit the Estonian embassy to address my expired passport situation.
I have mixed feelings about the embassy. The guy behind the counter was the first Estonian I’ve seen in months… anywho I had to fill in a form or two and voila I was given a “certificate of return”. Think of it as my emergency passport, looking dodgy as hell. It was valid only for a week. The guy was issuing passports and ID cards to a few people who showed up after me (because it was a quick little thing and my thing took longer…). I expected the man to finish with me before moving on to other people in the queue but no. Welcome to Estonia.

My new flights were with British Airways and Estonian Air. I made my way to London City Airport (super easy to get to). I thought it probably makes sense to talk to the peeps at the British Airways desk because of my dodgy passport and give them the heads up.
The man at the counter didn’t quite know what to do, so he called his boss who called the peeps in Amsterdam and after a few nervous minutes it was all green lights boulevard.

I found the way everybody treated me on British Airways wonderful. They were all bending over backwords to make sure I get to my dad’s funeral. Nobody raised any additional questions when I boarded the planes. Faith in humanity restored.

The funeral was sad. I saw a bunch of relatives I hadn’t seen in many years. They might as well have been complete strangers… I knew nothing about where they lived, what they did for a living or what they studied/planned to study at uni. I’ve lost touch with most of them.

First thing on Monday I needed to get a new passport. It takes up to 2 working days to get it done if you choose the speedy option. My dodgy passport only allowed entry to Estonia but was no good for a return flight.
Anywho, I was impressed by the speed of things. I applied for a new passport around 10 AM on Monday and received an email to collect it the same day at 3:40 PM. Wow! The only downside was that I had already left Tallinn and had to travel back again on Tuesday to pick it up.

During the week I met up with a few friends. It was really good to see my main bros – Siim, Pete and Olav – and my family as well.

Remember, I didn’t take the first leg of my flights I booked originally? I thought I could still use the return flights from that original booking. I was wrong. I discovered this about 24 hours before the flight when I tried to do my online check in.
Since it was a no show, all my flights on the booking were cancelled. I was never notified about this.
The carrier (Lufthansa) said the travel agent (TravelUp) might be able to reinstate the flights. I called them but no such luck. All I could get out of them was a £31 refund which would take 4-6 weeks to be processed. Faith in humanity is now a thing of the past.
I can’t catch a break.

image

It seems like this is standard practice – if you miss the first leg of your booking they cancel all flights.
I was out of options and booked a new flight to Stansted for tomorrow. I’m glad I’m made of money.
This has been an expensive, stressful and crappy week (with a few exceptions). I hate Lufthansa, TravelUp, buses, online check ins, my bank account and flying. I just want to go home.

Ivar

Today is a strong day

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These are the words I read from my mug trying to keep my shit together. “Today is a strong day” I repeat. Why is today so much harder than yesterday when I found out about it?
I log in at work hoping to find a shitstorm in my inbox. However, no such luck. Nothing. Nothing to distract my thoughts.
SteveO says “good morning” and I couldn’t. Not a single word. He made all this so much harder. You could cut the awkward silence/tension with a knife. I was still in shock so I didn’t notice it at the time.
I had another sip of my crappy coffee and noticed that I finished it.
“Today is a strong day” – Mr Strong.

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Except……..that it isn’t.

Lets timetravel to yesterday.
I had a fairly good day and was on my way to London to dance some zouk. My battery was low, so I had my phone on flight mode.
I got to the dancing venue and for some reason turned my phone on normal mode
.. which is odd because the dancing venue/bar is underground and I had no signal there.
However a FB message made its way to my phone. It was from my brother.
He said he’s got some bad news for me. My father died.
A beginners salsa class was ending at that point as I read the message and you could hear the instructors giving pointers and summaries to the kids about what they learned today.
At the same time I completely froze.
And started shaking. Uncontrollably, but not visibly (maybe it was visible, I’m not sure). An inner tremor of sorts.
The music switched to a zouk beat. I was glad it was dark and nobody saw me… or maybe I wasn’t too concerned whether anybody saw me or not.
I pondered about what I should do and remembered something I read a long time ago. When somebody dies, you shouldn’t make any radical changes to your life. Instead, continue your daily routine as you always do.
I felt the waterworks starting.
I made my way to the toilet to take a piss… you ever wonder why the loo is so busy at the worst possible moment?
I remembered that it’s not possible to feel sad if your body is in a happy/positive posture. So I sucked it up. Chest up, head up, shoulders back and it got better. The initial shock was a thing of the past.
That didn’t last long…
I needed to distract myself before the class started and made some conversation with Phoebe. I think that was the wrong call… She asked me how I was and I said fine… she saw right through me and I gave her some crap about having a stressful day at work in response.
It was a painful conversation but it worked. I kept my shit together.
The class started. Zouk is a fairly engaging thing you know. The fact that I can’t multitask also helped. Only a few times did my thoughts wander and remind me of what had happened. I feel bad for saying this but I was able to enjoy myself throughout the evening. Don’t judge, dealing with death isn’t something they teach you at school.
However, I broke down like a little bitch just a few steps from home. It was too much. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The distractions were gone and
I fucking cried myself to sleep.

Next day
Next day I went to work, as usual (remember the thing about not doing anything radical…The stupid is strong in me.) The morning was difficult but as I got more involved with work it got better. Much better. I shared the news with one colleague who might have shared it with a few others.
But I wasn’t quite myself. I was very quiet and generally avoided human contact.

Did I mention that my passport expired in March? Well… that’s a bit of a problem if I want to go to the funeral in Estonia. Anywho… I contacted the embassy who came back to me fairly quickly and told me they could issue me a document which will enable me to travel temporarily. However, first I needed to tell them what my travel dates are. At this point where was no date for the funeral… I would contact them again once I know. I was told the Embassy can issue the document in half an hour and all I needed were two passport photos and a date for my flight out of the UK.

I feel the fucking rainbow. I’m sad, then angry, then oddly OK, then depressed, then even happy. I’m all over the place. And it feels like there’s no end in sight. Work helps, a lot. It keeps me focused on other things.

I wrote the above almost two months ago. The funeral was last Saturday. I’d rather keep the details to myself about why it took so long until the funeral. Sorry. Don’t ask. Things are much better now and I’m glad this is all behind me and that I can finally close this chapter.

Ivar