Day 1

Grumpy Hermit Travels?

Artist in Pestilence? (doesn't make any sense, what?)

Fucking Fukuoka (misleading, also too negative)

What should I call this?

I was thinking about calling this Itoshima Inke, but my casual adventures into the Japanese language (meaning you google all the bad words) told me that "inkei" means penis in Japanese and while I obviously can't help being called something that sounds like "penis" in Japanese, at least I can decide not to name a blog like that. It would have been a catchy hashtag though.

Start from the top.

I'm currently sitting at the Oulunsalo Airport, waiting to board a plane to Helsinki and then after a while board another plane to Fukuoka, Japan. After nine and a half hours of plane time (most likely sitting next to an overweight man who falls asleep five minutes after take-off and won't wake up to my polite coughs and silent pleas to let me pass and go to the bathroom) I will attempt to look for a train to Itoshima and hopefully be picked up for a ride to my first ever art residency at Studio Kura.

This is the first time I'm traveling completely alone, to a place where I will not meet one familiar face for a month. Unless the world decides to throw a curveball or I'll run into some celebrity (once I saw that goth intern from Bones in London!). It's insane to think that for 30 days, I won't meet anybody I've known for longer than a few days, few weeks max.

I've always lived in a small town in Oulu and while I've traveled some, I've never been away this long. I've traveled to London alone (and luckily loved it) but even there I stayed with my sister and met two friends who happened to be there at the same time. I've spent a week working in another city with my work crew, but I knew most of them and would actually consider most of them my friends. I don't think there's ever been a time when I got on a plane knowing there would be nobody familiar at the other end. At 33 it might make me inexperienced, though I most of all, I think it makes me poor. Like I said, I've traveled some considering I live in a tiny northern town in Finland and have always been if not without money then very low on money. But I've never been away from home that long.

In part I decided to go because I wanted to experience something new and I wanted to kind of be on my own for a while. I've lived a pretty busy life for the past few years - or at least busy for a person like me who isn't very outgoing and likes her space and peace and quiet. I wanted a while just for myself. I've always been kind of afraid of being alone and only lately have grown into actually really liking it. Doesn't mean I'm not scared as hell right now, though.

I wonder what I'll miss most about Oulu. Right now we're having these crips, cool autumn moments I always seem to love best, that time of year where everybody else laments summer and I'm damn happy to see it going. I hate heat. It's great I'm going to a place where they consider plus 27 celsius to be "fresh"! It's possible I didn't really think the time of my trip completely through. Anyway, I think I'll miss the cold in Finland. The mornings when burning sunlight raises a morning mist from the lake we live close to. I love that lake! I've lived close to it pretty much all my life but only recently I really discovered it sort of gives me life. I can't really imagine permanently living somewhere you can't find waterscapes handy right outside your door.

I'll miss the best time of autumn. It's fine, I still have many Finnish autumns to go (let's knock wood, I'm a bit superstitious and having said this, will probably die in Japan) and it's not a good enough reason to stay in Finland. But I will miss it. It's hard to say yet what other things I'll miss. Spending the time with my boyfriend watching Frasier, I think. It's our nightly routine to watch an hour or two of TV together before we go to sleep and right now we're in the middle of Frasier, season 3, I think. It's sort of a calming ritual before sleep. If we're not spending the night in the same house, I watch something alone and that's fine, but I think I'll miss that ritual anyway.

I'll miss my cat! It's horrible that there's no way to communicate with him! I have no way of telling him I'll be coming back and that I'll think about him everyday.

My cat deserves a paragraph of his own. He's a really important cat. All cat's are important, but this one's special. It's my cat. I've wanted a cat all my life but could never get one because my sister is severely allergic. When I've been on my own, I've never really had a chance to get one. But my boyfriend sort of got me one for Christmas about 5 years ago. The cat, Eddie - named after the Jack Russell terrier Eddie in Frasier - is obviously both of ours as we both take care of it and it lives with both of us, but he was sort of a present for me. Just don't let him hear that. I wanted an orange female cat, but when we went to pick the kitty-that-would-be-Eddie up, he was the only one left. I always say that it was fate: I ended up with a white-orange tomcat but it was the best possible cat I could have gotten.

This isn't to say that Eddie would be a perfect cat - or a model cat, he is obviously perfect as he is. But he yowls a lot, eats way too much, prefers men over me and is sometimes pointlessly headstrong. But he's still everything I ever wanted in a cat. I've lived a life that's sometimes been on the difficult side, and I've often felt let down and disappointed. But let me tell you, owning a cat has been every bit as great as I ever could have imagined it being. Eddie is the best. I don't know how to live in a house without a cat. I suppose I'll learn and I'll see Eddie in a month but it's still super weird. I'm afraid he'll forget me. He often likes my boyfriend better than me; the boyfriend has a beard for one and Eddie is all about the beard. The boyfriend is also stricter with Eddie, I guess, or he has a deeper voice, or he's just somehow more fun than me. I'm sure Eddie likes me in his own way but it's possible he's going to laughing in his beard all this month and rejoicing he gets the big human all to himself and there isn't that whiny lady always picking him up and complaining that he smells like shit while forcefully kissing his tummy.

You maybe think I'm a crazy cat lady. That's fine. You know that video of the woman who cries because she can't hug all the cats? I'm like that, with the only exception being it's not a joke with me.

How do my texts always end up about cats?

Well, that's about it then, for the first entry.

You have just read a blog post about a 33-year-old Finnish photographer, going to her first-ever artist in residence program to Studio Kura, in Japan. She has never travelled alone before. She is mildly nervous and her knees hurt. She has been a photographer for maybe ten years, if you count those first years where she basically just took a lot of photos of trees and clouds, but I guess you could. She likes abandoned houses and TV series.

She easily strays from her subjects. She likes cats and chocolates. She used to be horrible grouch and still sort of is but I guess she's learnt to hide it better. She's trying to try out new stuff in life and be more accepting of herself and sort of more mellow with stuff, you know? That's probably not gonna happen.

She's hoping everything will be fine!


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