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

Friday, May 30, 2008


I went to the cinema yesterday – alone.

I had a long gap in the afternoon and found my thoughts wandering when sitting in front of the computer. It was raining outside and I felt tired, so very tired, a bit sad and definitely unmotivated.

I used to go to the cinema often but now I can hardly remember what was the last film I saw on a big screen. And I had completely forgotten the peacefulness and comfort of the big room full of big stairs.

Despite the film being THE thing to see at the moment, only showing for the second day here in France, the four o’clock viewing was half empty and I got my ticket without standing in line.

I had few minutes to spare so I walked to the close by supermarket, despite the rain and got a packet of cherry tomatoes. I really wanted something to nibble on but because I made an agreement with a friend of mine that we won’t be having any sweets, ice cream, cookies, cakes or any other goodies for a month, the sweet section was a forbidden isle for me. The healthy option of nuts was also out because of my very recently resurfaced childhood nut allergy. So I got cherry tomatoes.

I ran back to the theatre and found a nice seat in the very very middle, opened my packet of cherry tomatoes and waited for the film to start.

Two and a bit hours later I resurfaced from my own little universe. I walked back to school and the sun was shining. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the singing bird

Paris claims to be a green city with a park in every arrondissement. Despite this, animals avoid the city with the best of their ability. Unlike the greens in London, the closed backyards of the city of love do not have squirrels running across the sandy path or a small rabbit hiding in the bushes.

This morning, when reading the news online, listening to BBC World Service and drinking coffee I heard a strange sound – a bird singing. I put my mug down, turned of the reporter and listened. It really was a bird. I wasn’t imagining things or going mad. There was a bird singing outside.

I listened. I wanted to open the window door to the balcony but being afraid of scaring the singing diva away.

For few minutes I could imagine sitting on the steps of our old house, leaning on the veranda door, and reading the daily news in the morning sun. Or in our summer cottage – a peaceful retreat – where waking up to the song of birds was an everyday pleasure.

Silence. Police sirens. Road cleaner.

The bird was gone.

I wonder if it will ever come back.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

hit and miss

Looking for work is a fulltime job.

For years now I have been working, nights, weekends, holidays, days, mornings, when ever. Having work to do has never been a problem - in fact there has been more then enough of it. But now, when I really need to start my working career and become a responsible citizen I seem to have reached a dead end. And I am not the only one.

Someone I know filled in 45 applications got one interview and luckily the job.  Another friend of mine hit the jackpot with the 72nd. I am at 20 something.

So far I have had two responses. A volunteer organisation was kind enough to tell me that I did not have a high enough degree nor enough experience. In other words, I am not qualified to work for free. The second and so far the last response was a bit more promising – phone interview. At the end of the call the representative promised to let me know the following they, if I had or had not been selected for the second round of interviews. This was a month ago. And I am still waiting.

Then again, we should be happy. The odds are on our side. When interviewed I was one of the 4 chosen from 60 something applicants (you can tell it was not an international organisation but a nice Finnish group of do-goodders), which is not too bad. But though this was highly unusual, there still normally aren’t more then 250-2500applicants for a post. 

The application process in itself is rather easy. You fill up the application form online, click send and wait. And wait and wait and while you wait you fill up another application – which will have different questions, different information and different format. And another and another. And you wait. If you get a reply, it is always a good sign – because they only contact the shortlisted candidates. The rest are left waiting.

And while I am waiting – I might just go on holiday. Have a break from nothingness. But not yet, first have to finish school, work and work on those applications.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

vacuum cleaner

We have a new vacuum cleaner at work.

Until now, every night, after the last customers have left the restaurant we have taken the broom out of the cupboard and swooped the floors to free them from crumbs and crumblings.

Now we have a vacuum cleaner. Instead of the slow waltz with the sweeper, we turn of the murmuring machine and attack the dirt.

The cleaner has changed our world. Now, the sofa is no longer able to held tightly to its precious pieces of gold and the dust balls hiding in the corners are left without safety.

The shift starts with the question “who is the lucky one to use vacuum cleaner today?”

I had the honour to be the first one to attack the floors with the feisty appliance.

The vacuum cleaner does not have a home yet. It doesn’t fit into the cupboard with the broom but is spreading its long tentacles across the floor, behind the bar, trying to get out, into freedom before its turn.

I wonder how long it takes for the novelty to wear off. Will we wait until there is nobody left, who remember the times of sweeping? When will the new and exciting no longer be new or exciting?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

my place, her place, home, apartment

I have a small flat. A tiny cupboard of an apartment, which to be quite honest is big enough for me alone. Generally I speak about ”my place” or ”my flat” but I do at the end of the day ”go home”. But my place is still just ”my place”.

Over the weekend I visited a friend of mine, who too has a nice apartment. She also has two children. Her place is, like mine, sometimes in a state of disorder, but that is because she prefers the time with her children over to that of organising. My place is often messy and things are rarely where they should be and laundry can be hanging on the drying rack for days if not weeks but that it because I have interest in spending unnecessary time alone in my flat and because I don’t have the time I could spend.

She has an oven and a washing machine. I don’t. They are the two things on my list of things I want. My next place will have an oven and a washing machine. Her washing machine works fulltime. Mine would probably work only part-time but at least it would be occasionally humming in the background.

In her place you can, at the end of the day, curl in the corner of a sofa watch TV or a pre-taped episode from DVD and relax.  In my flat the home entertainment centre consists of my laptop. And despite it being ok for watching things as well it does make you prone to check email or do a bit more work. Using the same piece of high-tech for work and pleasure just doesn’t really work.

In her place there is noise. In my place, well unless the neighbours are fighting loudly, it is quiet. Really really quiet. My fridge was fixed a while back and now even it has stopped making noise.

She has a proper home. From the playground she goes HOME. I go back to mine. Don't get me wrong, I do like my place but it still is just "my place" it just isn't a proper home in the same way.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Trains are peculiar places.

I made it in good time. No need to run. No need to rush. I had in fact sat down in my seat and opened up my laptop by the time the train started moving. I was going to have four and a half hours of efficient study time ahead of me.

Next to me on the window seat there was an older, English gentleman. He looked at my little mac in earnest and asked why he had seen so many people, at my age, walking around with this particular model. He himself was a mac person too but had never had one of their laptops.

The conversation moved to the reason for travel. He was going to pay a thank you visit to his godson. Apparently the need to thank the boy was so great that the formality could not be done by email. When he heard the reason for why I was occupying the seat next to him he nodded and stated that we were both just little good doers and turned to admire the passing scenery, which in fact was especially lovely.

I was puzzled. Good doer? Surely my plan to go and see a friend springs from purely selfish need to have someone to talk to and a lovely break from Paris, work and stress for few days. Obviously we both want to see each other but that surely doesn’t make me a particularly good person.

Anyways, time to work. I started tapping. Tapped. Tapped. Tapped. Three and a half hours later I had pretty much finished everything I had planned to do during the trip and decided to close my eyes for few minutes – for a well-deserved nap. I turned of my computer and rested my head on the back of the chair.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. I opened my eyes and was offered a newspaper. My English gentleman had finished reading and decided that it was my turn to educate myself in the current affairs. No rest for the wicked.

He got off in the city before my destination. I decided to move closer to the window to get a glimpse of the journey I had before only done by night. I got up for few minutes to go to the toilet at the other end of the wagon and when I came back my seat was taken. All my things had been nicely piled on the seat that was originally mine and the window seat was occupied.

I said nothing, sat down, opened my laptop and continued working.

I like travelling by train. It is practical. It is easy. It is often time well spent. It is much more comfortable than travelling by car or by plane. And before the journey, you never know who will be sitting next to you.


In few minutes I should be running up the road to catch a train to go and meet my friend and her two children. I have not met the younger one yet and hence I was going to, as always go shopping for a small pair of running shoes.

My friends have already learned that with the news of new pregnancy they will receive a small, tiny pair of running shoes. This is partly because I find the shoes unbelievable cute and adorable, but also because I am sure that they will help in the creation of future runners so that I will always and forever have someone to do marathons with.

Despite my very selfish tendencies I this time promised to be more sensible and wait with the shoes until the newcomer really needs them. Instead I should get something practical.

I decided to get a hat. The sun being out and shining warmly a hat is what every child will need. Right?

Well I obviously was wrong. There were no hats in the shops. Few yucky pink beanies but no cool summer hats. They are not in fashion. Obviously. And who cares about practicality or need anyways?

After days and hours of searching I finally found a summer hat, that can be turned so that the pink (not the silly pig pink but cool pink) side is out or so that the head is covered with huge, colourful flowers. Mission accomplished. It might be a tiny bit big though but little people grow fast I think.

And it will look good with the running shoes. When I buy them that is.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

cafe, coffee, kahvia kiitos

I am addicted to coffee. Well, not addicted, I could really live without it. I think. I know. But I do drink a lot of it.

Every morning, when I wake up I turn the coffee machine on. 2mugs. If I work at midday I will have a double espresso after lunch.  And maybe another one later on in the afternoon. But definitely one or two after dinner, before the evening shift.

At school I rarely drink coffee. Except if we have lunch at the university restaurant. The coffee there is as disgusting as the food but it is part of the whole routine – lunch and coffee and back to work.

And obviously, when you meet someone, you meet them for coffee. Though currently the phrase resembles more the comment “we really should meet up for coffee…but not before end of June, I am a bit busy at the moment”.

The problem is that I am immune to caffeine. So where as other people have a shot of energy in the evening to make it to the end of the day I can drink a litre, fall right asleep when I eventually, hopefully get to my bed and have no extra energy, whatsoever.

Coffee is, apparently, really bad for you. And it should be drunk in moderation if at all. Green tea would be better. But they don’t serve chocolates with green tea.  And drinking a huge pot of tea just takes too long.

So I drink a lot of coffee. And red wine – but that is another entry “drinks and drunks maybe”, when I have time, for coffee.

Friday, May 09, 2008

i wonder...

The work of a waitress is made for people watching. A slow lunch on a Sunday, or like yesterday, on a sunny public holiday in a restaurant with no terrace creates endless opportunities for analysis, curiosity and judgement.

I am judgemental. I am very critical. But above all, I am very curious.

So again, from behind the security of the bar counter I closely followed to tables, situated next to each other. In the other one there was a man whose manners and habits have over the years become very familiar to me. Normally, he comes in on a Sunday, sits down in the same table with his paper, which he places on to the left corner of the table while reading the menu. He will order the first starter and the first main course on the menu and a carafe of the first white wine on the list of wines of the week. He will read his paper while waiting for his different courses and often after desert with his coffee, with the bill readily placed on to the right corner of the table. But he gives his undivided attention to the meal – occasionally glancing out of the window on to the street. He is never in a rush.

Next to him there was a couple happily chatting and tasting the food from each other’s plates, admiring the dishes in a loud voice. They had arrived to Paris only an hour earlier and were staying for the long weekend before jumping on their bicycles and heading down to the world of Bourgogne wines. The lunch was the start of their 40th anniversary celebration trip. If they had told me, when I played the role of a photographer, that they had just got engaged I would not have doubted them for a second. So happy they were together.  They had their coffee together with their desert to save time and after the last spoonful dashed out to explore the city.

When cleaning the tables and carrying the empty glasses back to the bar I wondered what I will look like to a waitress in thirty or forty years time.

I wonder…

joining the velibers

I have been forced to become a veliber. I am going to join the thousands of Parisians who velib around the city every day. I will have my velibing card and will learn to know the closest velib station to my home, to my work, to my school.

I was rushing back from the gym the other morning and as I tapped the code to enter my building I realised something was missing – my bike. It was no longer attached the pole I had left it with the night before. Oh no.

I looked around and it occurred to me that the reason my street had looked strange on my way to the gym was because there were, in fact, no bikes left anywhere on that part of the road. Double oh no.

So I had been made bikeless – yet again.

Luckily the sun that had invited the thieves out of their hideouts was shining brightly and warmly and I made it to school in blades. A bit late but I made it. And now I have also tried to roller blade wearing a skirt and that too works.

Unfortunately roller blades can’t always serve as a mode of transport and hence I will be forced to find and alternative. Buying a new bike, for my undefined and possibly short time left in Paris does not really come across as a tempting alternative and hence I have decided to resort to the velib.

Velibing is a new trend that started in the city at the end of last summer when the city introduced the new system of city bikes. The difference with this system compared to other, more common systems of city banks is that this one works. With the price of a half a coffee you can have a functioning bike in your use for one day.  And a pass for the year will cost you less than an average night out and by far less than a monthly pass to the metro.

Having been a biker for years now I have been slightly sceptical about this apparently magnificent system but having carefully examined and followed the velibers so numerous in the city I have come to believe that it might be use the trouble.

So no I am impatiently waiting for my pass to arrive (yes, the drawback is that long term passes need to be requested where as a short term pass can be obtained from any velib station in half a minute).

So for a while, until obtaining my veliber status I will be a blader. But the sun is back in Paris so this poses no problems. No problems at all.

Monday, May 05, 2008

the RACE

Luxembourg marathon is an evening run.  The start gun goes off at 18h and lets the runners of to climb the hills.  At first the crowd is great, because the runners of the half follow the same path but later the routes separate and the marathoner finds himself alone.

The night before we had enjoyed a glass of red wine, which is obvious a serious NO for race preparation. But as the calming joy was followed by a good night of sleep, after a hectic week, it did the trick.

The day woke up beautiful. Sun was shining, it was warm and there was very little win. It was a perfect day for running and a perfect day for exploring the city.

When arriving to the start area I was still unsure about the race. I always am but this time it was different – for the first time I began with the permission to stop. My heart was thumbing so hurt I thought it will get exhausted and stop. And I was shaking.

We started. Slow. A bit quicker, I needed to get out of the biggest group. We decided to catch the 3h30 pacers. Easy. Went past. Easy. First hill. Easy. 5km in and I was still speeding up. I knew I went too fast. My friend let me go.

I knew I was flying – I felt like I was flying and I knew I was going too fast but I could not make myself slow done. The people on the sidelines shouted my name (printed on my race number) and I felt better than ever. This is the way running should be. This is the way it should feel.

I decided that at 21km I would start taking it easy. I passed the mark and saw from the church bell that I had only been running 1h30. If even. I was going t too fast.

25km came and I felt good. I was running alone. There was a group of men far ahead of me but nobody close behind. I was running alone.

The route was climbing again. 30km and I started feeling the pace but was still feeling good. 35km was looming behind a steep rise but with music and supporters. I kept going.

38km it hit me. The wind was against me and the route started going up again – it climbed, climbed, climbed and climbed past the 39km mark. Not far to go. I was tired but not hurting. The end was almost there.

The last stretch was bordered with candles – with outside fires that gave a fuzzy light to the dark evening. I speeded up. The stadium. I ran. I ran past the runner ahead of me, and the one ahead of him. I speeded up all the way to the end.

I didn’t break my record. Not with those hills. I didn’t even win. But I ran. I ran better than ever. And it felt good. It felt so really good.

And I know, I now know for sure that the speed is in me. Now, I just need the push and I will be able to fly.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Public or national holidays are special. Which would indeed explain the word “national” there. A day off from work is rarely the same in two different countries and to a new comer the excitement of a holiday rarely opens at the first sight. Different nations have different habits and it often takes years to remember them all, though the adaptation process is by far shorter than the time it takes to learn away from old ways.

First of May or Vappu for the Finns is one of the rare days that are a guaranteed day off in most of Europe. Well it appears that the Brits still ignore this celebration of workers or celebrate it by working but they are a rare exception.

In Finland nobody works on the first of May. In fact the celebration starts already the day before – shops close, champagne bottles pop their corks and children get candy and balloons and whistles and it is time for carnival.

In France most people don’t work. But instead of gathering on the streets the French pack their bags and head off to the country for a long, quiet weekend. 1st of May is THE holiday in May, which is already littered with numerous work free days. So nobody works. Except that the bakery is open, because the absence of fresh bread and croissants is in France considered a synonym to a crime against humanity. And many of the cafes are also open, just because when one has a day off, longwinded conversations among the men of the neighbourhood are a must. And then your local Maghreb trader will have his shop open, just in case you need a new hammer or a litre of milk. So where as a Nordic shopkeeper will ensure that the door is properly locked, the Parisian corner shop owner gets up especially early to ensure that all the needs of his customers are satisfied on the festive day.

Here you get flower. Lilies. Everybody buys lilies for good luck and happiness and all the other nice things you want to wish for your close ones. In Finland you get, well you, well, really you just get drunk. So whereas I got an email from a professor assigning me a presentation for next Monday, my Finnish colleagues had been celebrating for a week. I think a teacher assigning work for this sacred day would be reported at least to the president in the north, where as in France the professors think that it is yet another day for the students to progress in their work. And that is what I did. Mind you he himself was probably enjoying a long family lunch somewhere in Normandy.

I like traditions and parties but I must say I very much enjoyed the quiet streets of Paris last night. And the lonely pedestrian with lilies in his hand.

Then again, I think I would equally have enjoyed a sunny picnic in the park with a bottle of bubbly.