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It’s worth pointing out that last night, Mrs. Hatboy’s roleplaying group finished the campaign they have been playing for at least ten years. They started as a roleplay club that Mrs. Hatboy started for the students at the school where she was working (against hilarious objections and fears from parents and teachers about Satanism and suicide pacts and stuff, naturally). When they graduated high school with no end to the campaign in sight, they continued the game as they all grew older and became more-or-less responsible members of society. And the years went by, one bi-weekly get-together at a time.
I may write a full report later. As I pre-write this, they’re just on Round Two of the final fight so anything can happen (Editor’s follow-up: Seems they beat the guy). That’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Today I celebrate my 14th anniversary with Mrs. Hatboy.
Yes, on this day in 2000, we dashed down to the magistrate with my new mother-in-law, new sister-in-law and a couple of good friends. We signed papers, posed for photos, tossed a quick bouquet, then went home to make calls and do more paperwork and make more calls. Less than 48 hours later, I was escorted to my flight by armed guards, handed my passport, and deported back to Australia for five weeks to complete the bureaucratic circus that Finland, even back in the final months of the 20th Century, excelled at fucking around with.
I was back before the snows fell that year, and then the following April we had the wedding party that people remember, and that my family think of as our actual anniversary. But it was really September 1st, 2000.
Now, fourteen years later, we’re paying off the house we bought from my parents-in-law. We have two beautiful daughters. My sister-in-law has acquired a husband and son of her own. The couple of friends who caught that first bouquet, sadly, have married and divorced and moved on. A lot has happened. To all of us.
And it was all totally worth it.
Wump, Toop, Mrs. Hatboy, 31.8.2014.
I love you, Mrs. H.
Actually, since this weekend is another write-off and I’m a lazy sod, and since I wasted a lot of time and effort on these debates over the past few days when I should have been writing, I figured I might as well double them up and add them as blog posts. And this one, referred to in yesterday’s Facebook-reposting of the racism debate, will have been something those of you outside of Facebook (ie. both of my major full-time readers and commenters) may have missed out on, and it bears repeating.
So this is a true story, of what happened the last time we went to get McDonald’s drive-through.
I’m curious about the girl-Happy-Meal packaging too, but not so much that I will go to McDonald’s specifically for it. Maybe once I start to get hungry, I will.
I did appreciate Zachary stepping up to offer the Devil’s Advocate position, and I have been a bit puzzled by what I see as something of a reversal of my usual “political correctness can go and bite my un-butt” position about sensitive issues. These two discussions cast them in stark opposition, in fact – race in one, gender in the other. I don’t know if my views are really opposed in these two cases, or if it’s just a matter of one thing being completely different to the other. Or, as common sense might suggest, everything being subjective and depending entirely on what you consider to be right or wrong, annoying or cute, damaging or fine.
I don’t know anymore.
Day 67. 160 pages, 75,743 words. Fuck, that was crap.
Well, had an evening of moderate fun last night. That is to say, the evening itself was a great deal of fun (especially considering the direction this week has gone, great to end on a bit of a high note), but all things were exercised in moderation, on account of it being a Thursday and me being a) old and b) a workaday Joe. Although technically, workaday Hatboy.
Went out for dinner and drinks with three good friends to celebrate the milestone achievement of one of them – namely Gerry (who has starred on this blog many a time in the past), reaching twenty Goddamn years at the same company. Although technically not the same company, because it has changed hands about seven times during her tenure. The invention of the printing press really shifted the technical writing and localisation paradigm.
Anyway, a nice dinner, some amazing puns, a lot of mildly-offensive reminiscences about where we all were twenty Goddamn years ago, and a minor pub crawl back into the centre of town, and – as the only guy in a group with three other women – may I just say I have never talked so much about boobs in my life? Fake boobs, real boobs, the pencil test, boobs at the beach, boobs at the gym, implants on the elderly, the female midlife crisis (as relates to boobs) … actually, if I add at this point that it ended up not being all that titillating, you’re probably going to think I’m making a bad pun.
And you would be right.
At one small drink per pub and only two pubs (three including the restaurant), shedding co-drinkers as we went, it wasn’t much of a crawl but much fun was had. At the end of it I checked my bus timetable and realised I had fifteen minutes to get from wherever-I-was to the central station to get my bus home, otherwise I would be stuck in town and probably another bar (and probably alone) for a further hour waiting for the next one and then I wouldn’t be home until after midnight and I had work in a few hours. My esteemed colleague Katy informed me that if I went down to the end of the street and hopped on a tram, I would be fine. Probably.
No tram seemed to be forthcoming so I gave up on the idea of getting a bus home before the wee small hours of the morning, and just strolled to the end of the street. That was when I realised I was in Sörnäinen, and could cut off the bus a few kilometres after it left the station, already well on the way home.
So that’s what happened, and I got home.
Nothing much more to add. Had a bit of downtime this morning because Microsoft updates apparently won’t work using Microsoft Internet Explorer (not my idea or anything I can affect, so MS/IE snobs please save your glayvens of disapproval), but otherwise ready to start the weekend with relative smoothness.
Day 66. 160 pages, 75,630 words.
So, this one’s probably not going to be very popular, but I’m in a brown study so let’s just dive in and go for it.
 I always liked that expression. When I first heard it, I realised it meant much the same as “in a bad mood”, or at least “deep in thought and kinda not really happy”, but I couldn’t help but picture it as a guy actually sitting in a study, that was actually brown. Like, made out of poo-bricks or something. Come on, if you had to sit in a study made of poo-bricks to concentrate on something, you’d be pretty low too, wouldn’t you? Why are you still reading this, go back to the main text.
Now look. I am a white Australian. I am the last person you want to hear talking about racism and fake racism and the Not a Racist Butt. This is because the hideously ironic generalisation about white Australians is, we are all racist.
What I’m getting at is, I am Australian. I am clearly not Finnish. I have a solidly non-Finnish name and I speak English with an (admittedly Western-Australian-mild) Australian accent, and I probably speak Finnish with a funny accent too, and horrible syntax and pronunciation and vocabulary to boot. Actually there’s no ‘probably’ about it.
I don’t even look particularly Finnish, not that there’s a set and specific Finnish look.
Ohh, my bad.
If someone asks me where I am from, I will tell them, “Vantaa,” because I am a wisenheimer, but I will then chuckle and say, “but years back, I originally came from Australia if that’s what you mean.”
Because that’s what you meant.
And that’s fine! What, is it now racist to think that someone doesn’t quite sound or look like a local for various reasons, and ask him or her in a nice and friendly manner where he or she came from, in order to get to know him or her better? Fucking Hell!
 For the purposes of this blog … Local: adjective. The sort of people who typically and in the majority come from the region in which you are standing right now, regardless of whether or not that sort of people actually represents an immigrant or invading culture that displaced the technical locals hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years ago. Make like Queen Elsa and give it a fucking rest.
Now, I know. I know. This is easy for a privileged white guy to say. I know it’s easy to say, because I said it and it was easy. I don’t get any of the negatives that stem from this conversation. If I was super-sensitive I might find something in there to take issue with – some condescension, some hint of hostility towards foreigners, I don’t know – but for the most part I don’t, because I’m part of the Lucky Demographic. My case essentially boils down to Scandinavian-on-Brit profiling, which is going to be super-mild. I know, it all gets blurred when you have a big mixed community with people from all over the place and naïve white people may not even be the majority anymore, and different reactions will apply to different cases. I know, Africans and Asians and Hispanics and Middle Easterners get questioned in far less friendly, far more judgemental, far more fraught-with-meaning ways.
I’m sorry as Hell about that.
 Boils down to, oh my fucking God do you see what I did there.
But tell me this. How exactly the fuck am I supposed to ask you about your family history and heritage? Believe me when I say I’m not asking just to place myself as a local and you as a foreigner (because that would be dumb. I am a foreigner), and I’m certainly not asking in order to place myself as a majority and you as a minority. Am I going to be punished, accused of racism, because there are people in the world who do ask for those reasons? Should I be socially muzzled? I ask legitimately and seriously, because if the answer is “yes”, then that at least would be something. I’m all about fixing the things I can fix, and “the words coming out of my mouth” would seem to be a good example. Right?
No, I’m not asking for those crappy reasons. I am asking because I’m interested. You’d better believe I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t give a shit. I am a sociable kind of guy but I don’t go out of my way to have conversations with people or learn facts about them, unless I am drunk. So if I asked, it’s because I genuinely want to know.
So what am I supposed to do?
Yes, by all means tell me that you were born and raised here. That’s fantastic. Tell me you’re fifth-generation local. That’s brilliant. So that means there’ve been Asians (for example) in this area for five generations? Pardon the fuck out of me but that doesn’t erase your beautiful and special diversity, appearance and manner. It doesn’t mean we’re all identical and have no Goddamn characteristics that distinguish ourselves from one another, and about which we could have a conversation if we both just accepted that neither one of us is trying to be a dick to the other.
What am I doing or saying wrong? Seriously. If you want me to ignore the fact that you or your family could possibly have come from somewhere else, and that ‘somewhere else’ might be cool and interesting, then fine. I will. I will do that. I’ll pretend we’re all clones. I have a decent imagination. If enough of you tell me that it’s offensive and unacceptable for me to ask about your heritage, then I will stop doing it altogether and across the board.
 And for “you”, read “Hatboy meant that in a generic sense, referring to people who have fallen afoul of casual or innocent racism and are sensitive to it and feel that they therefore have a take on this that he might appreciate hearing”. You know, or you can read it as “kinda foreign-lookin’ folks”, if you want to get in an argument. I like to argue with fucking idiots on the Internet.
 And for “board”, read “bored”.
Please don’t misunderstand. If you tell me you’re from here, I’m not going to wryly say “oh yeah, and where are you really from?”. I’m not saying “I know you’re not from around here, so how about you ‘fess up?”. In fact, if I ask you where you’re from or where your family’s from, and you say “two towns over”, that will be fine. I can take a hint, I won’t press it. It’s just … I have Lucky Demographic blindness and I don’t understand why I can’t have this conversation. If you feel it’s placing you in an uncomfortable position or putting you on the defensive, then maybe we don’t know each other well enough to be having a conversation anyway – because I would never say something to put someone in that position.
If it’s not possible to ask about the other places and cultures you might have sprung from without it being racist, is that what I need to do to help make things better? Just stop asking questions like that? Because I suppose I can do that, if that’s what it takes.
This is by no means something I only do with ‘minorities’, by the way. Nobody lives in the exact same spot the entire species evolved in. Okay, maybe if I’m standing in the Cradle of Humankind and I ask someone who actually lives there, they could say “I come from here” and arguably there’d be nothing to add. We could just high-five each other for being meta as fuck, and go back to digging up skeletons to upset Young Earth Creationists. But that doesn’t seem like a sufficiently-commonly-occurring hypothetical on which to pin a conversational standard.
 Again, I use the inverted commas because I defy anyone to find a much smaller minority than ‘Western Australian in Finland’. And if you do, I will see your feeble little minority and raise you ‘Western Australian with an arse around the front’. And fuck you very much indeed.
My point is, no matter what each one looks like, can’t two civilised people have a conversation about one another’s ancestry, without it being racist?
Maybe I could have just asked that question from the start, but we Western Australians are a wordy lot.
Day 65. 158 pages, 74,648 words.
No, wait, free dinner on Thursday night so maybe it can go on until then but seriously, after that let’s just agree to disagree on this one.
Well, for secret reasons that most of you don’t need to know about and those of you do will doubtless silently acknowledge, I’ve encountered a bit of a slump in my motivation and joie de vivre lately. It’s no big deal, but a passing thing. Interesting times, et cetera. All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well.
In more exciting and inspiring news, I had a brand-new experience over the past few days and I figured I could share a little bit of it with you.
Having almost finished this wacky book I’ve been working on for two-months-and-change, I went out into the big wide Internet and looked for a proper for-reals professional artist to do a book cover for me. Possibly, if all goes well, a whole series of book covers. I hit up deviantart and a couple of other places and sources, and sent out messages to complete strangers, all of whom are ridiculously talented.
 Barring my usual it’s-all-over-and-I-just-need-to-write-out-the-final-set-of-words doldrums, whereby I have everything planned out and it looks good in my head and I just need to jump from stone to stone and get to the other side of the big wide narrative river, and I’m already in the shallows on the far side, but then I just slow down and stop and go “well, what’s the point of actually finishing it? If I finish it, I’ll have to publish it.” Which, as any author who has ever tried to write a book and get people to read it knows, is sort of the exact opposite of how you should act when you’re on those last few stones. Anyway, my point is, it’s almost done and so I’m procrastinating.
I won’t go into details yet about the artists in question, because it’s slightly uncomfortable for the moment. I haven’t made a concrete decision yet, some of them may be browsing this blog (I sent them here to look at my writing and also to check out some sketches I made as a reference), and I don’t want them to feel like there’s some competition – and, given that there may be perceived competition, who the competitors actually are.
I’ve never done this before, and it’s super-weird.
Anyway, the response was (quite unexpectedly) great and now I just need to man up and tell all but one of them that I can only afford to pay one artist for one cover, and the rest may need to hold tight until I can write more stuff. I guess if nothing else I can consolation-prize them with another book altogether … although yeah, that’s going to be expensive.
 And even that might be a stretch, these guys are not cheap. I may need to write a bestseller in order to pay back the price of the cover art. I wonder if it’s too late to go back to my own covers, where I can just draw a rectal cancer riding on the back of a snorkel-wearing duck and call it good. But no, the conventional wisdom is that if you want a professional book, you need a professional cover. Apparently a rectal cancer riding on the back of a snorkel-wearing duck isn’t good enough for some consumers. Fine.
So, if all goes well, I’ll have sketches and concepts and all sorts of stuff floating around here soon, and that will give me the kick I need to get this stupid story done.
And stop me from brooding about the unmentionable other shit.