dream hunter

You wonder if you should take a step to the unknown. She leaped. You wonder if you knew how. She taught you. You wonder if you could. She did. A friend who's always there. A source of inspiration and admiration. Courageous, beautiful and full of amazing thoughts. She's someone so annoyingly perfect you'd want to hate her. But you can't help but love her. by iiris

Monday, March 31, 2008

a sister for rent

Most of my school friends and I are all currently in the position of not knowing what we will be doing at the end of July. I can say, with 95% confidence that I will not be moving to India, that because I am not applying for a job there but other than that I have no idea. Hunting for a job then, is a full time job, something none of us really have enough time for. Besides, every job requires – not only our educational achievements – but also relevant work experience, knowledge of half of the languages in the world and of course we should not be more than 22 years old.

So, amid all this stress the worse thing that can happen is to have people constantly asking “So, after your graduation,…?” My friend then, during a rather angst orientated drink one Monday night really wanted to have a sister or a brother who would have an impeccable track record of achievements and would thus serve as the golden child of the family and take the pressure away from him.

This is when I got the best possible business idea – I would start renting my sister.

Obviously this business would enable me to stop working and hence give me the time I need for school and job applications and everything else I should be doing, while also reducing the stress caused to my friends by demands from the outside. The family golden child is really only needed during dinners or celebration and hence my sister would be able to pretend to be the sister of several of my friends. At the same time the job, despite some travel requirements would not demand all her time, but she would be able to, alongside of it, continue her studies and maintain her training programme and all in all continue with her life. This obviously would be necessary because otherwise she would not be the sister my friends currently so desperately need.

I informed my sister about this plan (I also told my mother who didn’t have any objections to me renting her other daughter) and she was slightly worried if she would meet the language requirements needed for the job. I assured her that this would not pose a problem.

Hence now, if in need of a presentable sibling, please contact the undersigned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

plastic bags

My life has turned into the fastest rollercoaster in the world, to the extent that I sometimes wonder how I am able to keep up with myself. This week has, again been one where I try to balance between stress and STRESS and in this mad rush I bumped into the grocery store. I had fifteen minutes to do my shopping and try not to forget anything, at least not anything important. This then was easier said than done as I had already forgotten my shopping list.

In the queue there was an older lady standing in front of me. I searched through my bag and noticed that I had, yet again, left my shopping bag at home. This tends to happen whenever I do my shopping whenever I can find the time, instead of specially going to do shopping in an organised and sensible manner.  Just perfect – as if I didn’t have enough empty plastic bags in my flat to serve as rubbish bags until the next century.

Thanks to my quiet murmur the lady turned around, opened her bag and pulled out a tiny thing of plastic and held it in front of my face. “This is what I do. I always have a plastic bag in my bag.” I looked at her, slightly puzzled - a look that indicated that a bit more explanation was needed.

She unfolded the tiny thing of plastic and it was, indeed, a plastic bag. She told me that every Sunday she would fold few of them into her handbag. Obviously, as the thing was the size of a half a credit card they didn’t take up too much space but where always there if needed. Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.

When chucking my shopping into new plastic bags I imagined myself sitting in my flat on a Sunday morning, before my first shift at work, folding old plastic bags into nice, flat triangles. And as I rushed out the shop, ran six flights of stairs up to my flat, emptied the bags, ran downstairs and hopped on my bike I decided that maybe, just maybe I should rather start keeping my shopping bag in the front door handle or get a 25th hour into my day. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

pink blanket

One very important item in my flat is a pink blanket. It is not a high quality wool blanket, especially purchased from Scotland but a cheap IKEA piece of fleece that one old housemate left to my care.

However, despite its worthless appearance it is in use almost 24hours per day, during the winter months.  At least it is in use whenever I am at home. In the morning I put it over my shoulders and try to keep it away from the boiling porridge. During the day it is on my chair to ensure that I will not freeze and get attached by ice blocks in to the brown piece of wood. And often it, simultaneously serves as a leg warmer and guarantees that I am about to fall on my face every time I try to get a cup of tea from the kitchen.

Every night I put it over me, under my duvet, before turning the heating off (the magnificent system in this place does not allow me to have heating all the time, even if the outside temperature drops to the negative side).

This morning, when I tried hard not to wake up I noticed I had, during the course of the night cocooned into my pink blanket. I had my fists under my chin, my arms held tightly to my body, legs slightly bent but still wiggling free.

I could not move out from this position. I turned and twisted but could not free myself from the blanket that had firmly wrapped itself around me. I was nice and warm but I was stuck.

After a short struggle that felt like an eternity I managed to get my arms out and eventually unroll myself from the blanket.

Unfortunately the cold breeze coming through the windows and from under the door meant that I could not stay upset with my blanket for too long, for its unexpected attack against my freedom. However, I might have to seriously consider placing it over my duvet tonight.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


When coming back from Africa my back bag was extremely light. I left most of my clothes behind, as I knew they would be more needed in the Sub-Saharan heat than in busy Paris.  Also in terms of souvenirs I was travelling light – a skirt for my mother and my sister, a shirt for my brother and few other small items. And for myself – malaria.

Yesterday at school, half way through my French class I started feeling really cold, my teeth were rattling and all colour disappeared from my face. Two hours later I was hot and feverish. It was not looking good. I went to print out something at school and pumped into a friend who right away noticed I had fever. High fever.

Not so long earlier I had jokingly emailed my mother saying, “I think I have malaria again”. Well, I had malaria – again.

My real problem was not the malaria per se but the fact that I was in the centre of Paris, supposedly starting to work in one hour and I had malaria. I phoned my boss – “yes, no joke, I have malaria”. But it was too late to find a replacement. Perfect. Just perfect.

Luckily I had managed to get hold of some medication – and found out that in Europe it costs 250 times as much to treat malaria than it does in Africa. And the medication is far weaker. Should have gone to the pharmacy there – silly me.

Work was interesting. I got dressed. 15minutes later I took off two layers and a half an hour later I put three on. This obviously got me some funny looks but there was nothing I could do about it. Where as in Sub-Saharan Africa malaria worries people as much as a common cold in Europe, in Paris people, at least the ones I work with, seemed to think that I have some deadly disease that will cause a serious killer epidemic. So I thought I better not say anything to the clients.

I had been told that after having been back for few weeks I wouldn’t have to worry. Well I now know that in some rare cases it can take up to few months before the problem surfaces. I hate to be special.

Luckily the night was calm and quiet so I managed to leave work early. On the way back I felt a bit nervous…what if I would be run over by an elephant?

Because obviously, in the centre of Paris anything and I mean anything can happen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the solution

I am the worse eater in the world. I am excellent at skipping meals, replacing them with fruit and yoghurt and chocolate, especially chocolate. Luckily I work in a restaurant so at least few days a week my diet consists of something else than a stable intake of porridge. My excuse, one of them, is that cooking for one is just too boring. Who wants to, when there are about hundred million other things I should be doing watch one potato to boil to accompany half a carrot, some broccoli and a something that could be called a sauce, that I will then have to eat for the whole week, because making one portion of sauce is just impossible?

Obviously this inherent inability to do something that normally even babies do and due to this my sister has endless energy to complain about it – “why don’t you….?” “You really should..” “If you did…” and on and on and on she goes.

Now, because of the approaching Paris marathon I have, yet again, tried to pull myself together and start a healthy life. Luckily, I have been working lots and lots, which has meant lots and lots proper meals. I have also been meeting people for lunch at the university restaurant and even if the food there is not amazing it is still a complete meal. And my latest invention was to invite someone over for dinner and cook for 8 people instead of two and this way have a freezer full of nice food. And as there was someone coming over I had no possibility of finding something else to do than cooking.

My problem now is that I have two meals and several snacks per day and am still constantly hungry. I am starting to worry that I will eat myself into bankruptcy. In addition I have also started losing weight. Or maybe I haven’t but at least my clothes are getting bigger. And as I have been doing sports for the past 25years and 6months (I assume it was at the age of about 2months I was first introduced to swimming, or maybe earlier) even my new gym membership will not really explain this strange phenomenon.

But I am irritated.

All I needed to get a nice balance into my life, to have more energy even when I have no time to sleep, feel better, and apparently look better (I love the compliments I am getting – “oh you look so healthy, what has happened to you?”) be less stressed and less on a bad mood, have less headaches and pains in my stomach and more motivation was to eat properly. That is stupid. It is extremely annoying that the solution to the majority of my problems was just to start eating well. And it took me how long to figure this out?


Thursday, March 13, 2008

pea soup

There are certain traditional Finnish foods that people either hate or love. Those who hate them will forever remember the days when they were force-fed at school and those who love them will take them in tins and cans to their trips abroad.

 One food like this is pea soup. Which I really like. Another one is maksalaatikko (liver casserole), which I also like very much. (I was finally cured from vegetarianism in Africa) The problem with these foods is that they seem to be extremely difficult to make and hence most people would not try to go through the trouble but buy them ready made. My dad makes an excellent pea soup, both normal and vegetarian version and hence every time I go to Finland I ask him to prepare it for me and then I usually find huge stacks from their freezer.

Last week I went to the shop and to my great surprise found dried peas. I could make pea soup in Paris. I bought carrots, I bought onion but I didn’t buy any meat. I ate the carrots. I bought more carrots. I ate those carrots but still had no soup.

Finally yesterday I bought even more carrots and came straight back from school to cook. In fact the preparation bit is easy, it is the cooking that takes long. And it takes really long. After two hours I phoned my dad. No. Two hours was not long enough.

I was getting hungry.

When the soup was finally ready I was starving. But it was delicious. Not quite like the one my dad makes, but good. And there is now more in the freezer. If only I had an oven so I could try to make maksalaatikko (my mum makes a good one and she has taught me how).

After the meal I went to the sauna.

A Finn is a Finn even in France.

Monday, March 10, 2008

power point

I have to give a 1hour presentation at school tomorrow. This would normally be no serious problem especially since I know my topic more than well.  To give the listeners an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the ideas I handed in my 10page long memo 3days before the final deadline. And prepared my self for the preparation of the power point.

I had asked my visual wizard friend for some tips for the layout. Instead of giving me few ideas he designed a big part of the frames and all I had to do was to follow his lead and finish the rest – easily done.

Then the text. In fact then the presentation. I sat in front of my laptop early on Saturday morning and stared at the screen. Almost two hours later I took my training bag and went to the gym.

Saturday is a good day to do laundry. 2h30 gone. Back at staring at the screen.

Getting ready for dinner. 1h gone. Turn of the computer.

On Sunday morning I forced myself to get up early enough to do work before the days long run. 5slides done. Progress.

After shower, waiting to leave for coffee. 2slides done.

A break between coffee and going to work. 7 slides done.

This morning I had no option but to finish the presentation. There would be no other time.

86 hours after starting the power point it was finally done.

A record I assume.


Ps. Missing study motivation – if found, please return to owner

Saturday, March 08, 2008

all this talk about rights and equality...

The sauna at the gym (yes, the gym again) is a perfect place for ears dropping.  It is small and the women there tend to talk fairly loudly. There are a couple of friends, in their early fifties, who come regularly. Neither of them works, both of them are married and neither of them has children at home. Yesterday they were talking about household chores.

“Oh, I can’t be bothered with cleaning, I have a made coming twice a week.” The other one thinks that cooking every day just takes too much time, so she pre-prepares meals on Sundays for the weeks. She doesn’t clean the house either.

This is how it works. In the morning they get up, prepare breakfast and then come to the gym – five times per week. Afterwards, they have lunch with friends. The other lady has a massage once a week, and obviously has her nail done, her feet done and gets facials on a regular basis. The family comes over for a meal every week, sometimes twice a week.

The other one has two grandchildren so she collects them from school every other day. This is when the other one reads.

I was listening to their conversation and started thinking that their life didn’t sound too bad at all. I wouldn’t mind being able to have a good night sleep every night, do sports without feeling like I should be doing something completely different and to read and actually have some sort of general knowledge in my head. And as an addition it would be nice to look like them in 30 years time.

I do understand that all this talk about women's rights and equality is important and that I should be proud being a strong, independent, Nordic woman. But when the dust balls are biting my ankles because I have been too busy to even do vacuum cleaning or when my nails are like those of a lumber jag, I curse the whole women’s liberation movement to the earth’s furthest corner.

And I hope everybody is having a great International Women’s Day.


Globalisation has been a hot topic for years now and I cannot remember a single course at university that hasn’t addressed the question in one way or another. Though I generally think that most of the discussion is nothing but hype I have now been forced to admit that the world has, indeed become a lot smaller.

I was going to the gym (I can start seeing a pattern in these blogs – I wonder if I shouldn’t have a social life too) and my sister had been that morning or the day before, or at some point in the very near history anyway. As usual we were chatting on msn and somehow started to talk about training.

We both like to go to body pump – which is training with weights but with and instructor and in a big group. “I really like the squads section. It is SO good and makes your legs burn.” Definitely, same here. “But the triceps bit is confusing, it is impossible to follow if you can’t see the instructor properly.” True but I find that with the biceps it is very difficult to do the moves correctly. And one we went.

In fact our conversation was like any you would have over coffee after a “gym date” with a friend. The only difference is that her gym is not in the same country as mine.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

the bike

My yellow bike was stolen while I was in Africa so I returned to Paris bikeless.  Already two days of metroing felt like an unbearable task. I wanted a bike. I needed a practical form of transport. And walking, though otherwise ideal was just a bit too slow for my purposes.

Yesterday I went to the canal just to check out some places and to try my luck. In the first one the guy showed me a cute green thing he would sell me for 50€. Not a bad price but the bike looked like it would not make it out the door. And unfortunately the second proposal was not too much better. How frustrating.

I walked down the canal, in the cold rain, unhappy. Without too many expectations I stepped into the shop I used to take my bike to be repaired. “I have a bike for you – it is a great buy.” Yes I am sure. What a waste of time.

He brought the bike out. Apparently it had come in the very same morning. I looked at it. Price? 100€. I looked at the guy. I looked at the bike. And I looked at the guy. “What is wrong with it?”

“But nothing! It is like new! Don’t you trust me? Don’t you see it is like new?” oh, yes. I did see it was almost new and that was the problem. I circled around the shop with it. I had a basket in the front. It had a lamp that works. I had gears. It worked perfectly. It is black and looks like a Dutch bike – though obviously is not an original Hollandaise.

And now it is mine.

I paid. Bought a lock. I started biking.  It worked like a dream. I turned towards the river. And that is when the sun came out.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

and why it is worth it?

This morning when I woke up, every part of my body was hurting. My legs felt tired, my arms had no strength left in them and I am sure there are new muscles in my body.

I can’t wait to go training again tonight. I know that in a week the pain will be less and in two weeks almost gone and in three weeks the things that now are tiring will be easy.

I love training again.


Already before my return I had decided to join the Parisian yuppies and renew my gym membership. Despite this firm decision I was not quite convinced yesterday, when walking to the gym with my training bag over my shoulder. Why in earth was I going to pay a fortune to do sports when I could go running for free?

But that was the problem. Despite my passion for the sport the last thing I wanted to do was to go running. I had been running every day the week before and the week before that and the week before that and and and. I was all runned out.

So, I closed my eyes when tapping my pin code so that I wouldn’t see the Euros disappear from my bank account.

I got changed, closed to door of my locker, took my towel and went into aerobics studio ready for the body combat class. Hmmm, a familiar face – my favourite instructor has obviously changed gyms, excellent. 1h and I was already sweating and tired. I decided to stay for a step class still. And then some stretching.

After 2 and some hours of training I was sitting in the hot sauna – tired.

Yep…some things are just worth paying for.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


To return after a long absence is always a bit strange.  Because I didn’t really know what I thought about the whole idea of coming back to Paris I decided I didn’t want to go back.

In town I dragged my bags up the stairs, into the street, across the street and to the black metal front door. I took a deep breath and started climbing the six, narrow flights of stairs to my tiny apartment.

I knocked on the door and was let in by the girl I had rented my flat to, while I was away. We chatted for few minutes and then I was left alone. What to do? Where to begin?

I spent the night scrubbing and cleaning and organising my things back into the order I wanted them to be in. I took a break to do some shopping. I had no food or any of the everyday life essentials like shampoo. The lady I buy my fruits and vegetables was still complaining about how the cold made this and that part of her body hurt and in the shop things were in the usual order so that I didn’t really even have to thing when filling up my basket. And I got to witness the funny scene of someone going to the wrong way on a one-way street and complaining to the others because they were being idiots and not understanding traffic – only in France.

The following morning I got up, turned on my computer, then the coffee maker and then started making porridge – same order, same routine as before. And by the afternoon I had collected my dirty laundry into the same spot it has always been in, my coffee mug had established itself onto the right side of my laptop and my keys were in that same spot on the table next to the door – I could find them my eyes closed.

Today I went to work. Well I didn’t work but I went to say hi and to give them my new phone number. When sat at the bar, drying glasses I could hardly tell I had ever been away.

It is good to be back. It is good to be home.