Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Now If I Could Only Find Some Elephants

Not the center of the universe.
A few billion years ago, the earth decided it would be a pretty good idea to rotate around its own axis almost exactly 365.25 times during the time it took it to travel a single measly lap around the sun.

The sun didn’t mind at all, since it basically just had to sit there and rotate around its own axis and enjoy being the center of the universe, right up until the early 1800’s when some dufus realized that heliocentrism was so 1754 and proved that the sun was not, in fact, the center of the universe, much to the sun's dismay. 

The moon didn’t mind either, it was too busy spinning on its own axis, while revolving around the earth at a rate of a menstrual cycle, while simultaneously revolving around the sun with the earth, all the while making sure never to let the earth see its behind. It basically had its hands full with all the spinning to really care about what the earth was doing.
The moon, in case it wasn't clear.

Someone who did mind, though, was the poor guy on earth in charge of time. He tried everything to get rid of those 0.25 extra rotations, including the old decimal point trick, making his dog eat his notes and running really fast in one place to see if he could speed up the earth’s rotation by 0.75 rotations per year.

Nothing worked.

And so, he created the leap day.

A day that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, loved dearly. Saint Patrick also loved women, and felt they should be as free as men. Free to do absolutely anything they wanted, whenever they wanted. And so, he decided that women should be allowed to propose to men just as men can propose to women. Of course, women would only be allowed to do it on one day every four years, and lo and behold, leap day seemed like the perfect choice. 

It took me forever to find a picture of the earth
that showed something other than the Americas.

 In Finland we took the tradition to heart, and now every February 29th, women walk around popping the question left and right. And as an added bonus, the Finnish version of the tradition dictates that the proposal is to be taken very seriously, and if you by some twisted turn of fate have to turn her down, you owe the poor woman fabric for a skirt.

 As the resourceful entrepreneur I am, I have of course turned this whole leap day thing into a successful business. I’ve spent the entire day proposing to men, and subsequently being rejected. In about 32 years I’ll have enough fabric to make a circus tent, and then I can finally realize my childhood dream!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The particularly observant reader will notice there have been some changes to this blog.  The "I have cookies" tagline is gone, for one. This is due to the fact that I very rarely actually have cookies anymore. Sometimes I have coffee cake, or cupcakes, or PMS, but rarely cookies.

Also, Ziva went Facebook. You now have the very questionable privilege of being able to like Ziva's Inferno on Facebook (please see pretty button in the column to the right of this very text,) not to mention befriend your very own Ziva Moon (yes, that's my real last name. Totally.) Find me. Like me. You'll stay with me ‘til the bitter end, won't you?

Oh, and last, but certainly not least, the entire blog has a new look! (I blame the PMS.) I was sick and tired of the pink and fluffy and decided to switch over to the dark side. I realize of course that some of my aging readers are not only a little hard of hearing, but also have trouble reading the white text against the dark background. I tried to remedy the problem by using a large, friendly font, but it looked like I needed to introduce a new tagline "Ziva's Inferno - Now in Large-Print and Simple English!" So, and I do apologize for this, the size of the font will stay the same. However, I did change it from eye-hurting white to a much friendlier grey. Do you like it? Be honest. No, don't be. Yes, be. Honesty is good. But only if you have something nice to say. Fine, you can criticize if you want to. You guys are so mean.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Sharks

In my last post I mentioned something extraordinary, something so fantastic that you can’t even being to fathom the depth of awesomeness of this product; the one and only Salmiakkikossu.

It was Friday, late fall. Zelma and I were once again bored out of our minds, but this time, I was prepared. I had bought an entire bottle of vodka, good cheap Finnish Koskenkorva vodka. And I had also bought the devil’s candy, flavored with ammonium chloride and pepper, Turkisk Peppar is sometimes called salty liquorice by Americans. They couldn’t be more wrong. Salty liquorice implies a soft friendly taste, whereas there is nothing soft about Turkisk Peppar, except maybe the black color. I’d crushed the devil’s candy and mixed it with the vodka. The result is a sweet black liquid with the consistency of molten lava and a taste of about the same. Black gold, we call it.

I clutched the bottle to my chest as I followed Zelma into the deep recesses of the empty cave. In a mining town like Pargas, the cave had been used for everything from public flea markets to headquarters of the tiny local TV station. In fact, it was the very same cave where I participated in, and won, a game show for kids when I was twelve. The cave was huge, the ceiling ridiculously high, and the sound of our heels clicking against the lime stone floor echoed throughout the space. When we entered the smaller passages the sound diminished, and so did the light. We both breathed a sigh a relief when we entered the little space where the local TV was broadcasted from. It was Zelma’s new project, volunteering for the TV station, and to both of our delight, she’d been entrusted with the keys to the cave.

Ziva and Zelma.
We drank straight from the bottle, big swigs that burned going down. We talked about people we knew and fiddled with the controls in the room, briefly screwing up the automated news coverage going out to people’s TV’s at that time of night. While we were laughing and talking, for some strange reason that neither of us would ever remember again, we decided we were sharks, and this would be our first sharks’ night out. We painted the town red that night, and unbeknownst to us, it would set the tone for many more sharks’ nights out in our future. By the time we headed home again, it was late night/early morning, the bottle was long gone as so was our judgement.

We told the cab driver to drop us off about a mile from Zelma’s house. It was too expensive, and since Zelma lived in the middle of the forest it wasn’t as if anything bad could happen. The cab merrily drove away and as the taillights disappeared from view we realized we’d wildly overestimated our night vision. Fall in Finland is a dark affair. It was an overcast night, no stars, no moon. We could not even see our hand in front of our face.

This is how dark it was.
We started to walk in the general direction of Zelma’s house, laughing, giggling and screaming in terror every time we ended up in the ditch. After a couple hundred meters we realized there was no way we would make it to her house. So we sat down on the ground, determined to wait out the moon, or the sun, whichever came first.

We talked, then sang, then rated each other’s singing. We both gave each other a big fat F, then sang some more to see if it got any better if we practiced. It didn’t. Still, we couldn’t help ourselves and called up my then boyfriend who was happily asleep in Spain. We treated him to a serenade the likes of which he’d never heard before. He hung up on us, and we laughed so hard we cried.

By morning we made it to Zelma’s house, safe and sound, tired in body and mind from all the drinking and the laughing. We slept the day away, and woke up to a much deserved hangover, determined to do it all over again soon. And so, the sharks’ night out was born.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sometimes A Pizza Is Just Not Enough

Some days it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps in the morning. This was one of those days when you should have just stayed in bed, warm and comfortable, because waking up was the absolute highlight of the day.

Reason enough to talk to anyone.
See, Zelma and I were bored. Terribly bored. So bored that we in our desperation went to the library. Big mistake. While there, we came across a friend of ours. Frank. Frank was a rail thin, socialist vegan who refused to carry arms in the military. He believed in women’s rights, shared wealth and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was frankly the only reason why I talked to him at all. He was a very nice fellow, though, despite his appalling habit of not eating things that had given their lives to be lunch. Frank also occupied rotten old buildings, entertaining some strange delusion of the buildings actually having some kind of historical or cultural value. When he wasn’t being arrested for free-thinking, he staged protests and demonstrations and workshops for lost souls in search of meaning in their existence. Or, as it would turn out, bored souls in search of adventure and pizza.
I bet you can guess what happened next. That’s right, Zelma and I were in fact in possession of two extremely bored souls, and in search of pizza, so when Frank, bless his long-haired emo-heart, asked us to participate in a workshop for women, we agreed to do so for the very reasonable price of a pizza. A workshop for women, he said. He didn’t have enough participants, and we were gullible and easily bribed.

Reason enough to do anything.
We entered the room, apprehensive and, frankly, still quite bored. In the middle of the room there was a table, and around the table a few women, couldn’t have been more than five. They all seemed a little lost. All, except for one. She exuded confidence and quirkiness, two things our teenage selves found off-putting and strange. But, thinking about that pizza, we sat down and decided to play along. A few silly get-to-know-each-other games later, our boredom level had spiked to never before seen heights and we were only getting started.

Filling with dread, we watched as the quirky hippie leader brought out magazines, scissors and glue. Lots of glue. No wonder she was so strange. She told us she wanted us to access our inner feminist. We were supposed to flip through the magazines and cut out pictures that represented the feminist inside of us, past experiences and future hopes. She wanted us to express in pictures why we decided to attend this feminist gathering and why it meant so much to us.

Silently I cursed Frank and tried to find a picture of a pizza. There was no pizza in any of the magazines. I cut out a picture of piano keys. Then a black shoe. Then a pretty white flower. And a picture of some liquorice. Zelma and I worked in silence with the other girls. They all seemed completely engrossed in the task and Zelma and I did everything we could not to accidentally look at each other. I knew if we did, we would burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Zelma and I are definitely not mood board people. We don’t cut out pictures from magazines and glue them to a piece of paper. In fact, we’re the kind of people who paint our nails purple and laugh at people who make mood boards, while drinking copious amounts of my own home made salmiakkikossu and listening to The Dark Side of the Moon.

Mood board, most definitely not made by me.
 And then, our eyes locked. I pulled a muscle in my side trying to keep from laughing out loud, and I can only assume the other women thought Zelma had a weird habit of snorting every now and then, just because she could. I have no idea how we made it through that meeting. I made up some kind of bullshit story about liquorice representing female liberation, and tried to explain the fact that my mood board was mostly black whereas the other women had cut out pictures of sunflowers and bright hats. Zelma just pretended she had laryngitis and couldn’t say anything.

The pizza?

So not worth it.