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

Sunday, April 27, 2008

sunday morning

Sunday mornings are special.

Today I woke up way before my alarm. I seem to have lost my ability to sleep endlessly and instead I wake up at the same time every morning, irrespective of how late I went to bed.

But the sun was shining through the open window and invited me out for coffee. After a lazy breakfast I moved to the gym for a stretching class. The Sunday morning one always starts with a nice and relaxing breathing exercise. There is no better way to start the day.

When I left to go to work, people were slowly moving, opening shutters and getting bread.  I left the door open, to let the warm breeze in, turned the music on and danced around the empty restaurant with my mop. When everything was set up and ready, I stepped on to the street and headed towards the flower shop.

People had finally climbed out of the holes and were sitting on every terrace, facing the sun, drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper. I took my time choosing the flowers – something yellow, definitely. And maybe a bit of red. Meadow flowers. Nothing too made. Easy. Spring.

With a huge bouquet in my arms I walked back to the restaurant, just in time for our lunch.  Then I would still have time for another coffee before the first customers would arrive. I placed myself at the end of the bar and started sorting my fresh flowers into their vases.

There was no rush.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

sun and some cheap wine

Spring has come to Paris. It is everywhere. Rollerblades have been dusted and winter rusty skaters wobble around the gobbled streets. Sleeves are rolled up, sunglasses cover faces and the bravest have put Bahamas on and won’t change out of them until next October.

Any café or bar with a terrace has customers coming from doors and windows and the air con, all hoping to get a seat where they can keep their faces in the sun.

And everybody is happy and in love.

With the sun came the first invitation for a picnic. It was taking place on the Pont des Arts. It was going to be the highlight of the week and enthusiastic emails made my inbox overflow. Despite being fully aware of the fact that the night was going to turn into absolute debauchery I dutifully directed my bike towards the bridge, half past midnight, after a night at work.

How right was I? People were very happy to say the least. But it was not the happiness that made me laugh it was the whole scene that took me down the memory lane – at least 10years. The first ones I bumped into were two guys, other in nice trousers and a collar shirt extremely proud of themselves for having snapped a half empty wine bottle from another more or less (well, extremely) drunken group.

Unfortunately the slight state of inebriation I found my friends from also meant that they had lost the last bit of sense they might have had at some stage and hence did not realise that this was not the time to show off fake Capoeira skills. Or they did, but only after a collision of someone’s nose and somebody else’s knee – a crash that obviously was by far more detrimental to the nose than the knee. Excellent.

And just like when we were teenagers, there was a curfew. But this time it was not evil and horrible parents who desperately want to ruin the night of their youngsters but the Metro or the girlfriend or boyfriend waiting at home.

When the others started to make their way to the station I ran to collect my bike and flew across the bridge to catch up with them. Well I had to watch out for the people falling over, running after each other and generally just behaving in a random manner so I really moved in a snail pace but still.

After saying good-bye at the station I put my ipod on and cycled home thought the warm night.

I love Paris during the night.

And I love being able to behave like an irresponsible teenager again, even if it just for one night in a year. 

But spring has come to Paris. And it just makes the whole world of a difference.

people watching

I like watching, observing and analysing people. I am a firm believer in people watching as an amusing past time. Obviously the best place for this parks during the summer, as they are swamped with people of all ages, who have lost their touch with reality because the gentle caressing sunshine.

Best time to watch people is when they don’t think anybody sees them and one of the place, where you think you are all alone is the car. When driving alone most of us concentrate, hopefully on to the road and traffic, but mainly to our own amusement and ourselves. And when we stop at the streetlights we could never imagine somebody is watching. But someone is and it is absolutely hilarious.

On my way home the other day I got stuck at the Louvre lights, coming from Saint Germain, which are annoyingly long and this time even longer, because the crossing traffic was stuck so nobody could move anywhere irrespective of the colour of the lights.

In front of me there was a blue Golf with a young family. Or I assume it was a family, though I didn’t pay much attention to the parents. The baby in the back on the other hand was entertaining. She was convinced that the bright colour of her shoes must indicate a delicious taste and hence they should be in her mouth rather than in her feet. Unfortunately the shoes were stuck tightly and the only way to get a taste of these yummy things was by bending herself in two and putting the whole foot into the mouth. Easier said and done but she did seem rather determined I must say.

Next to me there was a young man in a suit. Despite his businesslike attire he did not seem to be at all pressed. Instead he was looking at himself from the front mirror and carefully picking his nose. If only his business partners had seen him – there would have been some mighty giggles in the next board meeting.

Behind the young gentleman, on the parallel lane an older lady was getting ready for an important meeting. The front of the car had been transferred into a beauty parlour. There were pots and jars and tubes of lotions and potions all over and each obviously had a very specific purpose. I can only imagine what will happen if she has to suddenly stop with all those lids still open…

And then the typical – a young girl (well she must have been at least my age, which obviously means she is young and at the best possible age…ask me again next year and you will get a new figure for what that is) singing at the top of her voice. I do that too. It is easy. You turn the radio up up up and start signing but because the surrounding sound you cannot hear yourself so you have no idea how horrible you sound. But nobody cares anyways. And this one – she had the moves of a diva.

And then there was… 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

i want to...

I want to do a wool-wash.

I do not have my own washing machine so every time I want to do laundry, which is about once a week I put all my dirty clothes and linen and towels and everything into a huge, blue IKEA bag, jump on my bike and cycle the short distance to the laundry mat. However, because I have only the laundry of one person (mind you one very messy and laundry producing person) I hardly ever have enough things to fill up one of the industrial machines – even the smaller ones – and hence tend to resort to short cuts that would give my mother a heart attack, but which enable me to spend a bit less on this necessary activity of producing clean things to wear.

Due to this, also special washes, such as a gentle wool programme always have to wait weeks to happen. Last time I did my little escapade to the heaven of clean clothes and was watching my shirts jump around in the dryer I got a sudden urge and desire to do wool wash.  I wanted to collect all my woollen socks, mittens, hats, jerseys and scarves, wash them and hang them out to dry in the spring sun on my balcony. I would then take all fresh scenting pieces of clothing, fold them nicely and put them in boxes.


I then started dreaming about cardboard boxes. Every night my sleep has been disturbed by boxes of different shape and size, all filled with more or less nicely packed items of my meagre possession.

In addition to the weird desire of doing a wool wash and the never-ending boxes I am jealous of people doing manual labour. Last night at the cinema I was fascinated by the oil workers of the beginning of the last century, especially their dirty clothes that screamed out loudly the idea of productive work.  I want to do few days of work that makes me physically tired and gives me a reason to put my feet up at night and see the result of my efforts. And I want to wear old tracksuit bottoms and a scruffy t-shirt and tie my hair up so that it stays out of the way.

I think all this means that it is time to move.

Friday, April 18, 2008

behind the mirage

My school likes to make us believe that we are special and privileged and should be happy to be there, because unlike university graduates we won’t be looking for work but will start working. Today, then they organised one of the many careers fairs, which again attracted a mass flow of enthusiastic final year students looking for a career and some odd youngsters hoping to find a summer job.

Yet, the fair was a slap on our elitist faces. The best any organisation or company could offer was an internship for six months. And only for a very limited number of students. Internships are generally an amazing and educative experience and due to their limited duration they offer an excellent way to try out the industry. However, when paid, that IF paid an intern in France will on average make 400€ per month and half of Carte Orange (the Parisian metro pass). This, when a 8square meter studio costs anything from 500 to 1000€ each month in terms of rent is obviously not the most attractive option for someone who has just spent five years, at least, studying.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist or even an economist to understand that when prices are skyrocketing and a greenback with two zeros is not enough for a barrel of oil, companies might just be more inclined to fire than hire. And hence the new leaders of the universe, holding a shining degree in their hand might instead of a warm welcome find themselves standing behind a closely shut door.

Ironically, had we all decided to be plumbers or electricians there would be more than 2500 open posts just in this city to choose from.  Instead of looking for someone to hire us we would be running away from the mounting workload ahead of us.

Luckily, unlike the plumber we always have the option of further study and this is often chosen, especially by those who have daddy’s credit card in their back pocket, as the second best or first best alternative to early mornings and time bound lunch breaks.  So maybe I should follow their lead and return to my books for another few years and hope that maybe by next time my employability has miraculously increased and I will, at the age of thirty or over, finally be able to get my first job.

Or maybe I should just put my feet up, spin the globe, choose a spot and see how far I can run – my second best option to waiting for a paycheque to fly me there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

i now declare tourism illegal

I don’t like tourists. In fact I think they are the biggest menace of a city dweller.  I don’t like them to the extent that if a new directive from the side of the EU was to forbid all unnecessary (i.e. not work related) travel I would be behind it 110%.

At work we used to like American tourists. Firstly they would always arrive an hour or two earlier than everybody else and then ask for the bill as soon as they had taken the last bite of their desert. And they would always leave a huge tip behind. Now, when dollar is worth zilch and its value is falling like a skydiver wearing a lead belt, the well tipping American tourist is history and hence I can no longer find any benefits arising from the millions of tourists cramming the streets of Paris.

Only a tourist will stop in the middle of his step to take a photograph. This means that as soon as the sun is out (when it rains they have umbrellas which just makes them worse) you have people stopping right there and then in front of you because they have “seen something nice”. And then the posing takes up the whole width of the road, leaving you standing there like a fool, watching your watch and hoping that the time would realise that it better stop for the period of this unexpected nuisance. (Not to mention the fact that I have a bruise on my knee because some idiot thought it would be better to take the photo a bit further away and stepped backwards into the road and as I was on my bike and had a long line of cars on the other side I was forced to make a sudden stop. Not good.)

Only a tourist couple in love will stop their bikes in the middle of the biking lane to smooch and be all in romantic and unable to wait until the next street light to get off their bikes (maybe the Eiffel Tower could not be seen from there). Due to the deadly hazard this wonderful show of emotion creates I vote that kissing in traffic is declared illegal.

Only a tourist will stand in the line at the bakery while waiting for his friends. And because he is still waiting he does not know what the friends might possibly like to eat and hence he cannot order but as he is in the line he cannot be passed and the whole process of buying bread – which normally in France works amazingly smoothly – comes to a standstill. 

 Only a tourist has 5hours for lunch and hence will not understand that the waiters or the waitress might possibly like to leave the restaurant because their shift has ended. Whereas a normal customer understands that the fact that their bill was put on the table an hour ago and lights were turned off and the waitress is pulling her coat on means that it is about time to take a hike, a tourist will think that it’s a nice gesture from the restaurant to make the atmosphere more romantic or more “French”.

Only a tourist will stop a runner at the entrance to the Metro to ask for directions. Because obviously looking from the enormous map situated just behind him in basically every single metro station in Paris would be too difficult.

And don’t let me get started on the Anglophones…

Saturday, April 12, 2008

shocks and socks and some economics

My sister has to write a short article for her course in economics and logically she sent it to me to be corrected. I am rather familiar with her topic so I thought I could easily skim through the five pages of text while drinking my morning coffee. I was wrong.

I have been studying economics since the age of 17 or 18 but have never, ever opened a Finnish economics book or a book about economics written in Finnish. Despite occasionally reading the financial pages of the main Finnish newspaper I have not paid too much attention to the discourse in my country. And hence had never realised that I could not understand a word of it.

I managed to get the main points of the introduction but soon after most of my comments were concerning her choice of words. Luckily she appeared online on msn and could help her sister – lost in translation.

Why would you use almost the same word for fiscal and finance? That is just ridiculous. Surely “finance” is more related to “monetary” than to “fiscal”.  I don’t get it. But apparently she could not change or modify the Finnish terminology just to please my ear and me.

Then the work “shock”. Oh my word. I got so confused but learned that the Finnish language does not know “sh” except in the case of some “loan words” i.e. words that have been taken from other languages. Interesting. I just thought she didn’t know how to spell properly.

My nose generally causes a negative externality (it is rather large and hence hides the rest of my face) because it is not the most beautiful. Then again, for the same reason, the size that is and the effect from it – the fact that it does hide the rest of my face – it could be considered a positive externality. And on we went the other day over coffee…a bunch of economic nerds. And funnily enough I can now understand why nobody else found us funny. Cos they just could not get us.



(And I have a hunch that in spite of my newly acquired interest in finance, especially emerging market finance, I maybe should not try to convince the Finnish banks about my brilliance and about my unique insights.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

chocolate converse

Thursday night I have class until very late. The course itself is extremely interesting and the professor is brilliant but despite this excellent combination the ability of students, who have started classes early early in the morning, to concentrate after 21h is nonexistent.

This problem of sleepiness was, after the first class, solved with sugar. The 2hour session begins with the teacher putting four enormous bags of sweets into circulation. And mind you if you start nodding, it will not go unnoticed – “need of sugar over there! Pass the candy over! We are loosing x or y or someone else!”

Last night, in the middle of the class and in the midst of quiet rattling of plastic bags and sweet wrappers the teacher suddenly stopped talking and started laughing – “Converse!” It appeared that the whole of back row was wearing Converse – one, two, three, four….pairs in a nice line, one next to another, like a piece of modern art.

So we had now become the Converse class. She would forever remember us as the Converse class. Not the clever class. Or the hard working class. But the Converse class.

And apparently the sweets are loosing their effect. So next week we might change into cookies – hard weapons will be taken into use.

Yet, in spite of the interesting methods of attracting attention and concentration the one woman show of the professor has been rather effective – me, who has for years now been convinced that I will not and cannot be a business/finance person am getting more and more into the wild world of emerging bond markets, commodities and everything that can be derived from them – both the benefits and the crises.

And why is this all important? Well it is not. Really. But has given me another five million jobs to apply for. And few amusing sugar highs.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

hospital 6

If you are only joining us now, I am afraid you might have, as the title suggests, missed something. So before reading any further I recommend you return to the post called “jinxed”.

I would not be taken to surgery that morning. And a few hours later I found out that I would not be taken to surgery at all.

My friend, walking like his legs were made out of wood, came over and a few minutes later my boss showed up with a huge salad for my lunch. We celebrated the good news with a class of wine. After all, the bottle had been open since Friday and it would be a shame to waste good wine.

After having been left alone the doctor came to see me. They had new lab results. I would need another 24hours or so of antibiotics through the drip but would be discharged the following night. As I was about to text my friend to tell her that she no longer had to bring me more clothes my phone rang – it was her telling me that she had managed to get my door open. I would actually be able to get into my home (it looks like).

Funny – just when I had finally learned all the acrobatics necessary to change my top without having to stop the drip and to take a shower with one arm and without getting half of my face wet and in fact had become a professional patient, I would leave my prison. Well, then again I hope I will not ever have to find that these newly acquired skills are transferable or useful in any other way.

As I had just wiped the happy smile off my face two of my classmates swung through the door, straight from class. The other one – Belgian – had just returned from a weekend at home and had a bag full of Belgian chocolate.

It had become obvious by now that when you think that there is absolutely nothing good left to happen, the world gives you one more treat.

So tomorrow night I should be back in my little cupboard with a box full of tablets to be taken as instructed and some Belgian chocolate that was not eaten while typing this.

But for a month now, at least, I am not allowed to get tired or stressed. I have to, instead of assuming there is a 25th hour to my day plan 23hour days and use the last, remaining 60minutes for extra sleep. I think I can manage that. Or I can try.

Oh, and I can start training as soon as I feel up to it. And that means…I have four weeks left before the Luxembourg marathon…and my record time would be…

Just have to remember to not get tired or stressed. And sleep and rest if I do feel tired.

Mondays are not such bad days after all.

hospital 5

My hospital is university hospital and hence by Monday morning all the students and trainees were back. In the morning, like every other morning they came to take my blood pressure and temperature and measure my pulse.

The poor 3rd year nursing student struggled a bit but then managed to complete her task, but unfortunately the figures she got for my pressure and pulse were just ridiculous. Her teacher made an annoyed grunt, took the machines from her hand and did the whole thing again himself.

“Mademoiselle, do you know what your blood pressure is usually?” I told him that for all the things he was measuring he should get results that are abnormally low. He told me what he got and I told him it was about right – maybe a bit above my normal levels but pretty good.

The girl smiled – I know that smile. Oh yes. I think every student or pupil knows it. And though you should never ever be happy for other people’s misfortune it is just too nice when your prof, after making you feel silly and stupid has to be humble and admit it was actually him who was too quick to judge.

Not too much later they had to take some blood tests. The first set went ok but the second time the senior nurse missed the vein. She just could not get it. When she realised that it had all gone wrong she went to find someone else to do it – as she never tries twice. While she was out the room her colleague told me that she never ever misses. The last time she had missed a vein when taking blood must have been at least ten years ago.

Should I feel special?

hospital 4

To cheer me up and to prevent himself from falling asleep my friend decided to take me for coffee to the cafeteria downstairs. When we were sitting and drinking our large, though rather weak coffees he noticed that some of the other patients had blinking and beeping machines in their poles or colourful drips.

In fact, when compared to the others my pole looked rather cheap and pathetic. I only, at that point, had two different liquids slowly flowing into my veins and the only exciting thing was the pink end that connected the tube to my veins. I was like the school kid with a pair of trainers of the wrong brand.

Later, when we climbed back upstairs my friend noted that funnily enough my room number was 28, like the number of the house my little flat was in. And my birthday too had only 2s and 8s and we were living the year 2008.

And whoever said curses and other spells were nothing but superstition?

hospital 3

Sunday started with a rather nice running weather but I received bad news – I would not be leaving the hospital that day and hence would not make it to my flight. In fact I would most likely not leave the hospital until at the end of the weak and might even, in between, pass under the surgeon’s knife.

Perfect. Just perfect.

Not only would I miss my dad’s birthday but I also didn’t have enough clean clothes for a week. And as I had planned to go to the laundrette there were no clean clothes in my flat either. Luckily someone promised me that she would go and pick the stuff up from my flat, wash it and bring it to me. Except, as it turned out the door really was seriously stuck and she could not get in.

It had become obvious by now that when you think that there is absolutely nothing left to go wrong, another few things will fail. Miserably.

And the fact that my friend was really suffering after the race and that one of the nurses told me that I was not the most difficult patient in the ward but rather nice, I still did not feel any better.

jinxed 2

Because I now had an empty flat not too far away from the hospital and on a handy metro line in terms of getting to the Start line for the marathon, my friend decided to crash at mine. So when the visiting hours had long passed I explained to him how to walk to mine.

30minutes later I got a phone call. My front door would not open. The lock was really and seriously stuck. This was not funny. Just when I had thought that nothing else could go wrong.

As it was late and the marathon would kick off early we had to resort to a plan B. Well I didn’t, I was in a hospital and in a bed with a remote control. But my friend could not sleep in the corridor. Luckily I live in an area of cheep hotels. But I felt so bad. So so bad. The curse imposed on me was now ruining the race for others as well.

hospital 2

I spent the whole of Saturday morning studying. I did not get any breakfast, just some weak coffee, which I had to complement with a lousy machine coffee from downstairs and a coke, which ended up being a rather pricy treat as the machine ate my change Excellent. Just perfect.

Because my wheelie friend made horrible noise and was really slow when I pushed it ahead of me I adopted a habit of carrying it around. Well, despite being excellent exercise for my right arm it seemingly was not the thing to do. Apparently this place was not a substitute for a gym – boring boring people.

Lunchtime brought with itself my boss with a new food delivery. This was more than welcome surprise as the hospital food was, as had been predicted, completely inedible.

Having been saved from starving to death my friends came to console me and keep me company. The last one to show up was my runner friend who had collected his number and was already for the race.

After the others had gone we spent the rest of the evening planning which races we could do later in the year. Well there is Luxembourg the first weekend of May, but that was already on our list. So what else?

Despite all the fun of planning I did secretly wish that Sunday morning would turn out to be rainy and windy and miserable. I am not a mean person really, but still this whole hospitalisation thing right before a marathon during which I was supposed to break my personal record just seemed a bit too unfair.

hospital 1

I was given half an hour to go to my flat and get my things for what I thought was a maximum of to nights at the hospital. With the painkillers I had been given my head felt light – I was high as a kite – and hence the pain that in fact had gone nowhere did not disturb me. So I unlocked my bike and cycled back to my flat. I randomly threw things into my bag and hurried back to the hospital. Luckily one of my classmates managed to meet me in my roof top apartment and hence the whole process had some logic to it.

At the hospital we were sent from one section to another and back and after a, what seemed like the walk though a 18hole golf course I was finally taken to my room – which by the way was bigger than my apartment and had a better view. But still all the walking made us wonder how the people who are really really sick survive.

Before leaving me into my prison my friend was given a job – he had to hold my arm still when the nurse attacked me to, what was to become my loyal friend for the following days.

I had, of course informed my boss from work about the change in plans. I would not make it to the five o’clock meeting, nor would I be doing my shift that night. With this information at hand he flew to rescue.

Not too long after my admission my boss and his brother knocked on the door. They had arrived with basic necessities - wine, some more wine, chocolate and cheese and some balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make the hospital meals resemble something digestible. But the first thing to do was to find out what was really going on. My boss took this job to himself while his brother amused me with stories.

The serious face of my boss and intelligent sounding question made the hospital stuff believe that he was a member of the same school- a doctor at least. However I think this impression faded away with the final question – “would any of you like a class of wine?”

Well I did. And had. Two. 


It has become obvious that for me the Paris marathon is jinxed. Two years ago I could not run because managed to develop a serious sports injury only some weeks before the marathon. Last year I broke my finger running it and this year – well this year is a completely different story.

We had the whole weekend planned out. Well. I was supposed to go to work on Friday, my friend would take the Eurostar on Saturday after which we would go to the marathon expo to get our numbers and have pasta for dinner. On Sunday, after finishing the long trek we would have a lazy lunch before I would have to catch a flight to Finland for my father’s 50th birthday.

This grand plan went all pear shaped when I got admitted to the hospital on Friday night. There would be no other marathon for me than a slow stroll around the corridors with my drip pole and slippers.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Everybody knows that big cities are full of beggars. On a daily basis you have someone asking for money for food, for beer – the list is endless. In the evening you will see sleeping bags coming out and covers being built from cardboard. Hence, someone pulling your sleeve should not be anything out of ordinary.

On Wednesday night we finished work a tiny bit earlier than usual and hence the Daily Monoprix, which keeps its doors open until midnight was still spiting out customers.  I decided to treat myself with yoghurt and went in. as I was trying to make the difficult decision between prune and blueberry yoghurt a young, fairly decently dressed man came over to talk to me.

Apparently he was missing few coins from what he needed to buy and hence wanted to know if I had some change to spare. I said that I didn’t have any cash. Then he suggested that I buy his readymade meal for him. Well, true he only needed few coins for the meal that cost 2€53 as he had the 3cents but still I did think that he was being a bit cheeky. Hiding my smile and holding my tongue I kindly refused to buy anything for him.

When I left the shop I saw the guy on the street, close to the door, obviously waiting for the next innocent looking girl to go in.

I had earlier that day seen an amazing pair of shoes. In fact I was almost late for my French class because I stopped in front of the shop window to stare at them. They were like make for me and would in fact look stunning with the outfit I have for my father’s birthday party. The unfortunate bit was that they cost 253€.

After the nightly incident I wondered if I should try the same tactic – go into the shop, wait until someone else comes in and kindly ask if they had few Euros to spare because I didn’t have quite enough cash for the pair of shoes I had my eyes on. In fact I was just missing the 250 and would happily accept a payment with amex as well.