KESK, ERL are you listening?

From Postimees today. With more than 4,500 votes. Interestingly the poll on the Russian version of Postimees shows similar results. Ilves is doing even better there – with 61 percent of those surveyed, versus 13 percent for Ergma and 13 percent for Savisaar. Poor Jaan Manitski only got 0 percent of the Slavic-Estonian vote. Maybe his name sounds too Polish…

1 9 9 5

1995 seems like a while ago these days. That’s what happens after seven or eight years. Things turn into “a while ago.” Eddie, our dog, was born in July 1995. He was a Cancer – and he really was – sort of emotionally clingy, obviously sensitive, a bit modest, a bit moody. I didn’t meet him as a newborn puppy though. I met him as a five month old in December or so, when I was informed we were getting another dog. I still wasn’t “ready” for having another dog. Our older dog – Leroy – had died four years before and he was a genuine pal of mine. I had known him as a baby, ridden him as a toddler. He followed me everywhere when I was eight years old. I fed him during his last days. I didn’t feel like starting another one of those relationships.

During this time things were changing in my life. As a teenager, I felt that culture was stagnating. Kurt Cobain and ‘alternative’ was dead. My friendships were unraveling. I just didn’t feel that inspired anymore. Instead, I felt mostly confused and a bit depressed. Enter Eddie. I – as I said – didn’t want another dog. But my mother insisted. The first time I met Eddie he scratched me in the face. So I really didn’t like him. Then he moved in – to the chagrine of our cats. I remember them looking at him like, “Oh shit, we’re in trouble now.” They were.

Eddie started to grow on me as I took him for walks in the snows of 1996. 1996 was a very snowy winter on Long Island. The snow came up to my chest alongside the road. I could literally rest my breakfast on the snowbank like it were a kitchen table it was so high. And this is how I became friends with the sturdy little West Highland Terrier as he burrowed into the snow banks to leave a nice warm dump or lifted his leg every 15 feets to sprinkle some territorial pissings.

My Mom adored Eddie. He went everywhere with her in the car. That was a period of change for her too as she started working in real estate. God, I think she even bought him sweaters. Our home was soon decorated with ‘Westie’ pillows, pictures – she even had a little leather Eddie-look alike dog on her key chain.

As Eddie got older he got fat and lethargic though. I made a film about him in 2000. It was called “Dawg Daze” – it was a video of him literally lying on the couch – eating food – lying on the couch – eating food – sleeping. He also got depressed. So to make him MORE depressed my folks got another dog – Hannah – to keep him company later that year.

Eddie also soon developed diabetes. He had to get a shot once a day, and I had to use these little litmus strips to test the level of sugar in his blood. But for some odd reason he stayed healthy through the years. It was pretty amazing.

Recently though he had been slowing down. The last time I was at my parents’ place I caught him napping on the cold bathroom floor. He would never do that in his heyday. He would curl up on the couch. I had been nudging him too, on these past visits, just to check that he was still breathing.

Unfortunately, he stopped breathing last night. He died next to the new pool my parents put in.

Right around the time we got Eddie, my grandfather died. He too had been sick for awhile, so it was sort of expected. But, try as a might, I couldn’t shed a tear for the old man. My father did, and my uncle did. But I couldn’t find my pocket of sorrow and weep. People were around me at all times. It just seemed hard to do. Instead, I got a headache.

Today when I found out Eddie died – I also sort of wanted to cry. But I had to get on a train and didn’t want people to think there was something seriously wrong with me. So I let a bit out but kept most in. And, oh man, how my head hurts.

Pole häda midagi Eesti Naisega

When I took statistics in college, my professor was a quirky Cantonese woman from Hong Kong who told us she learned most of her English from watching Seinfeld. Someday somebody might ask where I learned Estonian, and I’ll have to admit, I have learned many of my words from reading Eesti Naine. Last night I learned a few more words.

Hüüa tähendab ‘to shout’ või ‘to call.’ Las leiutame midagi.

“Romeo, Romeo, kus sa oled, minu kallis Romeo,” Juliet hüüdis akenist.

Toppida tähendab ‘to stuff,’ as in stuffing a turkey or stuffing mushrooms or stuffing stuff into a bag full of stuff.

Mart topib kommi taskusse.

Süst tähendab ‘injection.’ How about something like this –

Fredi on nii õnnelik sest, et tema uus firm sai jälle värske raha süst.

One interesting word is häda. Häda tähendab ‘distress’ või ‘trouble’ inglise keeles. Nii –

Oi oi oi, Tanelil on suur häda. Tema naine tahaks lahutada!

But that’s not all for häda. This is one of these words that joins with other words to make phrases that are a bit different from the original meaning. So pole häda midagi means ‘there’s nothing wrong’ as does häda kedagi.

On häda kedagi Eurovisioniga, sõbrad. See on üks äge asi!

Finally we have puudutama. See tähendab ‘to touch’ inglise keeles. Nii – ma proovin –

Veegi! Ära puuduta need pudukad!

Remembering the Generation of 1918

On June 3, Montenegro became the world’s newest nation, just weeks after the residents of the country voted in a referendum to secede from the union of Serbia and Montenegro. The following week, Estonia became the first country in the world to establish diplomatic relations with Montenegro. The action mirrored the good will of the Icelandic people, who were the first people to recognize an independent Estonia in 1991, and for whom Islandi Valjak is named – the square in front of the Estonian foreign ministry in Tallinn.

This week though, even while Estonia celebrated Võidupüha and Jaanipäev with a naval parade in Kuressaare, people are still groveling to celebrate the day some World War II hero blew his nose in the fight between the Russian communists and the German nationalist socialists. Meanwhile Postimees has a nice map of the front between the German nationalist socialists and Russian communists that looks like a set of peculiar of dance instructions.

But of these two world conflicts, it is the former, more forgotten, less celebrated with films and protests and angry diplomatic charades, that is ultimately more important in Europe today. The peaceful declaration of independence of Montenegro from the union with Serbia attests that – no matter who is paying attention – the world order created out of the end of the first world war has had the most lasting impact in global politics, more so even than the great WWII. One can only look at Montenegro’s independence and see the spirit of former President Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points.

Sure, World War #2 was horrific, big, terrible, and intriguing. But it ultimately has had less of an impact on the world – save perhaps the establishment of Israel (which probably would have been established anyway) than World War #1.

But why is it that we are so ready to forget those who fought in #1? Why are they strangers to us when men who died in another war are treated with closeness and are fiercely debated among young people who have no personal connection to either conflict? Even when they were alive, the generation of 1918 were like the walking dead. When the Vaps (rightwing Estonian veterans of the war of independence) were organized in Estonia in the 1930s, they were treated with disdain by the Estonian government. In fact, though they warned about the incraesing Soviet threat, most spent the mid-1930s in jail. Similarly, when the Bonus Army – American World War I veterans – went to Washington to demand their bonus pay in the 1930s, the government had them forcefully removed from the spot.

Why is it the very people who were most important in setting up the current world order are overlooked, disregarded, and just not that interesting, while memorials to the Red Army, which defeated the German nationalist socialists and then stayed for 50 years, are so fervently looked after and controversial. Why is it that even in America people today are still arguing over Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but Woodrow Wilson barely musters an interesting word?

Is it because that generation was the last to grow up without radios, automobiles, and indoor plumbing is just too foreign for us to understand. My great-grandparents wre of this generation and they had a rough life – a life of flu epidemics, great wars, great depressions, and economic hardship. But today we live in the world the peers of Hemingway created. Yet they are lost and forgotten. Why?

For whatever the reason, it just doesn’t seem fair.

Jussikese Seitse Sõpra

Have you ever read this book? My daughter has it and it’s g-r-r-reat. It’s called Jussikese Seitse Sõpra, and it’s about a little blonde Estonian boy named Jussike who enjoys Sundays SO much he travels through the woods to find Pühapäevamaa – Sundayland – where it is Sunday every day, ja kõik on tore ja päike paistab kokku aeg.

But, thanks to this Finno-Ugric bog language, I wasn’t able to get three pages into Jussikese Seitse Sõpra without meeting some new words.

One of the first words I came upon was kaduma, which means ‘to disappear’ in English. Las proovime midagi –

Hansel ja Gretel kadusid metsas.

Another interesting word was tarbima. This means ‘to consume.’ Leiutame midagi –

Juha tarvis meie jäätis ära.

The third word I met was tihane. This is a kind of bird that doesn’t exist in great quantity in North America. After much searching, we discovered that the English word for tihane is ‘tit’ and there are birds out there called ‘great tits.’ Wow! What a cool name for a bird.

Palju tihased elab metsas, ja me nägisime kaks tihaset eile õhtul maja ees.

Also, I recently was reading Eesti Naine (these are the kinds of magazines lying around my house) and found some more words I didn’t understand. One of them was ‘keerlema.’ This means ‘to spiral’ in English.

I can’t think of a good way to use it in a sentence in Estonian. Maybe something like –

Toomas Liivi probleemid on kleerenud kontrolli alt välja.

Finally, I have been reading some comments on SL Õhtuleht. So two of my new words now are pask and okse. They mean ‘shit’ and ‘vomit,’ respectively.

Need pelmeenid maitsevad nagu pask! Mul on nüüd vaja oksendada!

The most annoying habit of Estonians

No, it’s not their habit of winning the International Wife Carrying Competition every year since the dawn of the Millennium.

The most annoying habit of Estonians is answering all questions in English (or Russian, Finnish, German, Swedish, whatever) when they are asked a question in Estonian. Today I had such a dialogue. My half of the conversation was in Estonian, the other party’s was in English. I could have understood most of what he said correctly in the language I am trying to learn (which most Estonians would like everybody that lives in their country to know, by the way), but instead I had to converse with another Estonian unwilling to speak in his language with someone enthusiastic enough to try and speak it with him.

I know others who have had similar problems, including Russian-speaking Estonians who said it took a LONG time for Estonians to respond to them in Estonian, even though they are fluent in the language.

So what’s the deal here? Why does everybody encourage you to learn, and then snatch victory from your hands when you muster a correct sentence and wish to have a conversation? Why are Estonians so willing to bend over and introduce another language in a conversation? Why is it that when you go into a R-Kiosk in Tallinn, and two people speak Estonian and the third person speaks Russian, that everybody will talk to the Russian-speaker in Russian rather than have to deal with some bad grammar or some mispronounced words from the non-native speaker?

Is it really so hard to humor us?

Laisk Poiss

Kahjuks, mina olen olnud nii laisk et ma ei osknud uued sõnad. Siis ma pean hakkama jälle.

Täna meil on see huvitav sõna – mõjutama. Tegelikult, Edgar Savisaar on minu suur õpetaja, ja ma märkas ‘mõjutama’ üks artikelis kus ta räägis. Jah, ta on vist rikutud ja Benny Hill on kindlasti Savikasile sarnane. Aga, mina olen õpinud palju sõnad temalt. Ma ei tea miks. Nii – mõjutama – see tähendab “to affect” inglise keeles.

Siis, las leiutame midagi –

Suur inflatsioon mõjutab Eesti võime saada Euro valuuta järgimsel aastal.

Järgime sõna täna on eraldi. See tähendab ‘apart’ või ‘individually’ inglise keeles. Ma proovin –

Margus ja Maarju on abielus, aga nad eraldi elavad.

Numero kolm on nautima. See tähendab ‘to enjoy’või ‘to revel in’ inglise keeles. Mu lause on –

Airi naudib kui piltid temast ilmub Kroonikas.

Neljaks on lidistama. See tähendab ‘to tape’ või ‘to record.’ Ma proovin –

Martini band lindistas oma uus albumit keldris.

Oi oi oi. Kui palju teil on õppida. Viimane sõna täna on ‘meeles pidama’ – ma veel ei saa äru kuidas seda lauses kirjutada –

Mats, pane meeles et su hobune on õues!

More on the Glaubitz Affair

Well, this is an op-ed that might get read by some ‘important’ Europeans, and it’s in English, by Martin Helme (pictured), the editor for world news at Delfi.ee, and published in today’s Brussels Journal.

In his interesting op-ed, Helme discusses two main topics – first, the willingness of the Estonian civil service to scold the Estonian public over the affair rather than defend itself in the wake of Glaubitz’s very public accusations.

But the second sheds more light on the things we know and the things we don’t know:

Just when Estonian society was bracing itself for endless lectures about “true Western values” and the need to train our capacity for tolerance, the entire matter became a farce. On the same day the Estonian media reported that there had never been any harassing of the ambassador’s husband.

The papers wrote that the real reason for the ambassador’s early departure was the fact that his Cuban husband did not like the Estonian weather nor the local night life. Hence he was threatening to leave the ambassador unless the latter moved to somewhere warmer and livelier.

The Estonian authorities confirmed that not a single notification of racial or homophobic incidents had been reported by Ambassador Glaubitz, neither to the Estonian police nor the Estonian or Dutch ministries of Foreign Affairs.

Accusations of harassment that are not reported are hard to discuss. Are they perceived, real, did anything really happen? Who knows. And Glaubitz and his partner did spend the least fun time of the year in Estonia (autumn and fall) before deciding to leave Tallinn for balmy Montreal.

On the other hand, getting painted as a nation of SS-worshipping homophobes from the other side of Europe might make an offended person react by not taking Glaubitz’s accusations at face value, and instead respond by insinuating that this is nothing more than the very personal becoming very private.

The best thing that can be said about these matters, is that all the individuals involved are human. From that fact alone, we can come to many simple conclusions.