Blanket of White

1999 > Finland

Some wild days are spent in a white daze

Not a pozed, but the effect is the same
A slow way to go

Sunset on the rails
There goes the sun

why I have knee problems in the first place
Pre-Injury Knee Tricks
The whiteness is amazing. All I can see out of the train
window is snow. I’m on my way to Helsinki (again), and I’m using the
electrical outlets in the restaurant car for something I know they were
not designed for, my laptop. Think, ten years ago, I would not be on
this train, well maybe, but definitely not with a laptop, especially one
full of photos from Russia.

I’m not really sure why these plugs are here, its an odd place to put
them. Since our cabins do not have outlets, but the hallways and
restaurant car does, it leaves me to believe that the Soviets were
far-sighted enough to install plugs, but they wanted their use to be
easily controlled.

There are black blobs streaking past in the whiteness, trees, dachas,
and farms. I can tell instantly, just by a glance at one of the dachas,
which side of the border we are on. Right now, with fresh paint and good
roofs, I know its Finland. Of course, I also know because at both sides
of the border, I was woken up for the passport and customs checks.

After the Russians are done with their Orwellian checks, looking
under the seats and behind baggage for stowaways, the train crosses the
actual border, sans guards. Guess they don’t want the guards to be
tempted to stay on the other side. I studied the crossing this morning,
and the Russians have an interesting design. They have a border fence,
then a no-man’s land, then another border fence, designed to my eye as
more of a system to keep Russians in than Finns out.

Oh, yeah, another way to tell what side of the border we are on. The
Finnish kids are rich enough to afford spray paint for their graffiti.
Russian kids use markers.

Unlike A Sumoi Sunday, I am not headed to
Helsinki for a weekend of fun. I’m going up to have orthoscopic surgery
on my knee. I think I tore the meniscus (the ball of jelly between the
thigh and shinbones that is a mini shock absorber), and its making my
knee swell up painfully when I walk a lot. Not a condition I want to
have as I walk across Asia in two months!

I’m not sure what the doctors will find when they go exploring, and
I’m kinda nervous they will find something really wrong with my knee,
but I gotta get it fixed, I don’t like being a gimp. Since this is
the 90’s and all, I get to watch what they are doing on my own mini-TV.
Coming soon: Wayan’s Knee Op MPEG movie! I know ya’ll want
to download that!

It is not all for health that I go though. Come on! It doesn’t take
much to get me to leave work for a week to travel to the west! I’m also
gonna check in on my good friend Erika,
who I traveled to Poland and the Baltics with in 1996 when I visited
Russia for the first time. She has made quite a life for herself in this
cold land. She’s doing cutting-edge testing on concrete samples at a
Finnish institute that is the EU center on this specialty, and she has a
good man who is very worthy of her time and effort. Kinda makes my
wandering self a bit envious!

I should be meeting up with Susanna too. She is a Finnish
veterinarian student I know in Helsinki who I met through Erika when I
came here in September 98. As one who sees blood and guts on a regular
basis, she laughed when I told her I was scared about the surgery. She
said that I had no need to worry, I wasn’t a horse, so the doctors
wouldn’t take me out back and shoot me!

The snow is freezing on the window now, and my visibility is going
from a few yards to a few feet. I like this blanket of white. Some days
its good not to see too far ahead, the immediate future isn’t all that
amazing all the time. After this week of scalpels and blood, I still have
two months to move my work responsibilities to my staff, wrap up my
social engagements, and split town. Two long months.

I like a blanket of white.