In Case You Missed It: 14 June 2021

14 June 2021: In case you missed it, here’s what’s happening.

Katie Kinsman, Artist

Katie’s web shop is now closed. The final orders will be shipped out today. You can still visit Katie’s website to read her highly informative blog posts about life as a fine artist and art educator, and to view many photographs of her work. The shop will reopen after we’ve moved and setting in, but that won’t be until late July.

Tomorrow Katie is teaching her final workshop until the autumn. She hasn’t booked anything further out because of the move. We want to get settled into the new space before we start laying on new projects or making additional commitments.

Moving Update

This post is being written on 15 May. A month prior to the date it’s scheduled to appear. I’m vamping here, hoping that things go according to plan so I won’t need to jump in and edit this with some dramatic update. At the moment I’m likely packing and dealing with logistics. It’s entirely likely that I’m chronically out of spoons, dealing with adrenal fatigue, and wrestling with executive dysfunction.

That’s why I’ve done so many things in advance. New books being released every week through the end of July. Blog updates written and scheduled. Detailed project plans and timelines in my bullet journal. I don’t think I’ve ever been this organized in my life. As stress out as I inevitably am, I am grateful that I have had months to plan this all out, and that I have the skills to manage multiple projects on this scale.

Dancing Lights Press

Last week my publishing company released Medieval Society, written by Henry Osborn Taylor and edited by me. You can visit the Dancing Lights Press website for a full rundown of upcoming releases and the latest information. The company also has a newsletter, which will be relaunching in July.

Blog

Aside from these updates, the blog is currently on hiatus. Once the projects listed below start rolling I will resume posting more regularly. As I have finally come to accept that blogs are dead, this will become more of a support system for the podcast, zine, and other media projects, rather than its own thing.

Newsletter

A new weekly newsletter will be launching in August, centered on my current running themes of minimalism, defiance, and inner peace. This will be an actual email newsletter powered by MailChimp. You can check the Newsletter page for the most current information, and to subscribe now so you don’t miss out.

Zine

I will be launching a new monthly zine in August. Issues will be themed, but the main topic will always be minimalism. The zine will be offered in both print and electronic formats. Details have yet to be finalized, but it will likely be made available through my Patreon first, with digital copies for sale on other venues at a later date. You can check the Zine page for the most current information.

Podcast

The podcast is also on hiatus, pending the move to new studio space and the acquisition of better recording equipment. The topics and format will remain the same as the 6 “proof of concept” episodes currently available for free on my Patreon. You can check the Podcast page for the most current information.

14 June 2021: In Case You Missed It

What Was Happening and Why I Was Freaking Out

Now that my cascading panic attacks have greatly diminished, here’s a little bit more about what was happening and why I was freaking out.

An International Move

Trying to find affordable housing, as people in many locations around the world already know, is a difficult proposition in 2021. We are, unfortunately, moving to a place where it’s a landlord’s market. The demand is greater than the supply, so they can basically charge ridiculous prices for terrible spaces.

In finding places, the first hurdle was making contact. As I am in Finland and where we are going is not-Finland, that meant email. My query would always ask about availability, state when we were looking to move, and make it clear that we are currently in Europe. I would say that fully 70% of the places I contacted never answered me. Of those that did, about 90% sent me a canned response asking me to drop in during office hours to take a tour. A few asked me to call them.

This is where I began to panic. I thought we weren’t going to be able to really look for  place until we were boots-on-the-ground in the new location. Which meant living in a hotel for God knows how long. That was going to eat up out money, which was already down because of unforeseen expenses.

Self-Employment

When I did get someone to answer me, I ran smack into the self-employment problem. Those who know, know, but for those who don’t, a lot of people don’t grasp what “self-employed” means. I can show royalty statements, P&L reports, even bank statements showing that I have money flowing in the regular. They will be completely confused. Multiple times, people just repeated “but we need to see an employment contract or 2 pay stubs”. I think if I sent them a verified statement showing that I’d won the lottery for €100 million they would still ask who I work for and want copies of my paychecks.

There were a few places that seemed too good to be true. They were. They were scams.

The Perfect Place

I finally found a listing that seemed perfect. I showed it to Katie and she agreed it was calling to us. It was within our budget, and had the space we need to live and work. The place would become available the day before we arrived, so we wouldn’t need to live in a hotel until the start of the following month. The street name evokes something from Katie’s youth. A business down the street has the same name as a place we used to hang out. I can’t give away too many details, lest they become clues for the stalker. There are a lot of coincidences that made us feel that this was the place.

I shot off an email, and very quickly got a response. The following is cut-and-paste straight from the email:

Hello Berin!

I do not usually email about the apartments, but you are currently abroad AND in my home country. As a matter of fact, I was still in Helsinki last Thursday visiting my family there.

Yeah. The owner of the building is a Finn.

No More Freaking Out

I about wept. It was a relief to work with someone that understood how things work here versus how things work there. That understood the exchange rate between euros and local currency, to have a feel for my actual income. Someone that knew what it was like moving from Finland and trying to reestablish one’s self in a strange place.

As stated in a previous post, after a couple of days of back-and-forth via WhatsApp, our application was approved, I put down a deposit, and we signed the lease via the wonders of the internet.

Where we’re going takes 4 flights to get to. We’ll be arriving in early evening local time, and crashing in a hotel. The next morning we’ll be meeting our new landlord, picking up the keys, and starting the process of getting settled in.

What Was Happening and Why I Was Freaking Out

 

We Have a Place

What it says in the headline: we have a place. Our application was accepted yesterday, I put down the deposit, and we sign the lease today.

This is probably incredibly mundane to most people. You got a new apartment, you’re moving, big deal. People do that every day. I get it, and it makes me self-conscious about posting this. So many people have helped us, though, and they deserve an update.

Why Is This So Hard?

Understand that I’ve been having panic attacks on a daily basis, sometimes several per day. When you have an anxiety disorder, even simple tasks can be sheer hell. When social anxiety is in the mix, and you need to be meeting with strangers who are judging you, and spending literal hours on the telephone, it’s a waking nightmare.

Securing a place to live has also been harder than it should be. I have never in my life had so much difficulty locating affordable housing. In all of the places that I have lived, I have never had to jump through so many hoops. I finally lucked out and found a landlord that talked to me like a human being, and treated me with basic dignity and respect rather than as a walking credit score and possible source of revenue. Of course, it turns out he’s a Finn.

Throw in unexpected expenses, so that what was easily achievable financially is now going to be cutting things frighteningly close, and I’m not in a good place right now.

Leaving Finland

As Katie has already revealed it, we are leaving Finland. She hasn’t publicly disclosed where we’re going, so I won’t either. Moving to Finland wasn’t this hard. We did everything over the internet. Transferring money was a snap. Someone even picked us up at the train station, drove us to our new apartment, went over the paperwork, and handed us our keys.

The reason we’re moving is business. We’ve both hit limitations, from the language barrier to increasing VAT to Brexit screwing up package delivery and more. Do we love Finland, and wish we could stay here forever? Absolutely. Will we come back someday? Hopefully. Is this the best place right now to grow a creative business when the majority of our customers are in North America? Unfortunately, no.

I can’t say that rising anti-American sentiment in Europe is a non-zero factor. We were warmly welcomed with open arms when we got here in 2014. Starting in 2016 every new person we met asked us our stance on the Mad Carrot, and only wanted to talk about him. That led to a steady decline in our social life. In the past year or so, we get a lot of side eye when we’re speaking English in a public place, or people learn that we’re from the United States. Some of that probably has to do with the pandemic response as well, and fear that we’re recent arrivals who’ve brought the plague with us. Fun.

Business as Usual

Winding things down here while trying to remotely get things set up in our new location is a lot on its own. I’m also still working full-time. The curse of the self-employed is that you don’t get days off. I am a creature of routine, and my routine is currently non-existent. Things happen as they happen. I can’t even sit down to eat a meal without a message popping up that I have to answer right now, or a phone call coming in that I have to take, or 3 more tasks landing on my plate that I need to schedule into my day.

The fact that it’s nearly Midsummer in Finland isn’t helping, either. The sun never sets, which can be glorious and lovely, but it really screws with your perception of time. When you’re dealing with people in multiple time zones, and planning out a day that’s weeks in the future, it seriously messes with my anxiety-ridden mind.

The Future’s So Bright

What’s getting me through this is why we’re doing it. I have a firm vision of where I want my business to be by the end of the year. All of this hard work, dealing with all of the dystopian nonsense. fighting through mental health issues is going to pay off in a big way. There is a 3-year plan. I know what I’m going to accomplish in 2022, and where we will be by the end of 2023. And we’ll get there.

For now, I just need to survive day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.

Relocation Update: 8 June

Relocation Update: 8 June Edition. I’m tired, I’m stressed, and I still need to be packing, cleaning, and doing my day job. This is going to be a sort of bullet-pointed FAQ.

Relocation Update: 8 June

  • We have a solid lead on a good apartment. Thoughts, prayers, fingers crossed, and other happy thoughts appreciated.
  • If I rehash points, it’s because people keep asking. I feel as if I’m whining, but I’m just trying to keep the people helping us in the loop.
  • The reason we’re moving is because Katie and I can’t grow our respective businesses in our current location. We can reveal specifics when we reveal where we’re going.
  • We cannot extend our lease in our current location. There is a hard date we need to be out of here by.
  • My anxiety comes from the thought of having to live in a hotel for an indefinite period of time. I used to work with the homeless. This path rarely ends well.
  • We are looking in a broad geographic area. Plans are held up by not knowing what specific town we’ll end up in, or how long it will take to get an apartment.

Deep Breath

  • The reason we’re being cryptic is because Katie fears specific people showing up on our doorstep unannounced. Whether you find this credible or probable is irrelevant.
  • We will announce where we’re going when Katie feels comfortable doing so, and not a second before that. She needs to feel safe.
  • My personal preference for a reveal will be after we’ve moved in, gotten the lay of the land, and rented a post office box to serve as a public address.
  • Our close friends know where we’re going, and have been helping us a lot. If you feel you should be read into the operation so you can help, contact us.
  • Those same close friends also understand the stalker situation and what it entails. We’re happy to explain on a need-to-know basis, but no one is in danger.
  • Dental work is paid for. New computer is paid for. Not worried about camera/podcast rig right now. Duration of a hotel stay is the variable that scares me.

Relocation Update: 8 June

Relocation Update: 7 June

Update for 7 June: You can go read the original post if you want, but I’ll recap here. At the moment I’m not in the throes of an anxiety attack, so hopefully this is more concise:

  • We have the money to get a new apartment.
  • There are no apartments available to rent.
  • We will living be in a hotel until we find one (or run out of money).

All of the other issues from the original post are off the table. Katie’s dental work is paid for thanks to a generous friend. She’s getting a new laptop thanks to another generous friend. I can’t even worry about AV equipment at this point. All I care about is not becoming homeless.

This is not an issue of needing money for an apartment. We have enough money to cover first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit equal to one month’s rent, and any utility deposits, fees, bribes, and other costs. There’s even a modest budget to buy new furniture and décor for the new place. This wasn’t a seat-of-our pants operation. We planned and saved for this.

The issue is that there is no housing in our price range available until September at the earliest. There may be other possibilities, but after a year where most of us figured out how to do business over Zoom and use online payment services, some people still only handle things face-to-face.

So we will be living in the cheapest hotel we can find, until either an apartment opens up or we run out of money and become homeless. What an amazing world we live in (I can be sarcastic or I can cry, let me have my moment).

But What About…

Again, I can’t answer specific questions about where we’re moving to because of a stalker issue. Even posting this much is opening us up to possible harassment. Trust me, I’d love to say where we’re going so we could network better. We do have someone on the ground that can do some things for us on that end. That has helped immensely.

But getting where we’re going and having the wrong person waiting for us would make things far, far worse than they already are. This asshole is a stress multiplier. May Mr. Rogers forgive me but I hate this stalker with every bone in my body for making this so much harder.

How You Can Help

Unless you have a place you can rent to us, pretty much all you can do is help us throw money at a hotel while we continue to look.