Thursday, 28 May 2009

Screaming for Pilates

Pilates is a wonderful activity that tones you, makes you concentrate and even your equilibrium is supposed to get better. It stretches and lengthens your muscles, but it doesn't make them grow. It's easy because all you need is a mat to lie on, although other tools (balls, bands, dumbbells) can be used to make the session more entertaining and varied. Although the main focus of pilates lies on the core, the rest of the body also gets a good workout. Its slowness might make it look like a piece of cake, but it's far from easy. The slowness equals cncentration. It's essential to focus on getting the exercise right, to breathe correctly and to use the right muscles. When you get it right, you will also feel it the next day.


I went to pilates class at my local gym before I got tired of going to the gym (a 5-min walk is just toooo much…), my goal now is to do it 2-3 times a week at home, although I could do it every day. The lack of a good teacher is a minus, but the now I can at least schedule my own sessions. Usually they are longer than the 45 minute classes at the gym, and I get to concentrate on the part of the body that needs the most exercise. I have a ball, a couple of good books and dumbbells. Getting some bands would be useful, too.


So pilates is definitively one of the major points in my get-fit list (a while ago I decided that the ideal get-fit combination consists of pilates, boxing and pole dancing + running, but try to find a place that offers classes in all three). This list still needs a few final touches before publishing, but getting fit is exactly what I need. My back is killing me at times, this morning my jeans didn't fit and the scales are showing a weight that has exceeded my self-imposed limit. I am fully aware of the fact that I'm not overweight, but having a fat and traumatic background, I want to stop this before it's too late. Besides, healthy living hasn't really killed anyone before.  


So now, pilates it is when I get home tonight.

Friday, 22 May 2009


The world is full of snobs. You know, the kind of people who give you a long look from head to toes, lift up their noses, turn their heads away just to never talk to you again. People who for some strange reason think that you are inferior to them. Maybe because you have less money than them, maybe because you’re above size 10 or do not know how to dress properly. My high school class was full of these: tiny little girls with their heads so full of crap that they failed to realise they looked like complete idiots. One of them, Johanna was her name, spent most of her time complaining about not getting the highest mark in one of the languages we were studying. She was also very often caught not having a clue about the meaning of the more advance texts. Us geeks got the perfect opportunity to give her little, bright smiles. After all, we were decent enough not to laugh at people straight to their faces. The same girl, when she saw me in her living room hanging out with her brother, gave me the same respectful look she would give a cheap sausage, turned around and walked out of the room without saying a word.


Of course, snobbery is degrading behaviour. And more so for the snob herself than for the person being snobbed at. At the end of the day we all have the same needs and wishes in life, so there is nothing admirable or cool in judging people for whatever reason that might pop up into your head.


Anyhow, I think there is a little snob in each of us. Something that we would like to pride ourselves with, something we do to look better than other people. I'm a total snob when it comes to education and to books. Not everyone needs to have a university degree, but the ones who do should go for the highest marks and best universities. If you're going to walk down that road, why not do it properly instead of just giving it a half-hearted try? My book case in Finland is a legend; it´s full of Russian masterpieces, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, Imre Kertesz and god knows what else. Books that I enjoy and that I love. But all those books hidden in boxes in the garage were just as, and sometimes even more, entertaining than the high class literature. But they belong in the boxes because they might lead people to think that I'm a ditzy romantic with no greater goals in life than getting married and living happily ever after. The rest, all the way from Paradise Lost to Master and Margarita, will send signals to the random visitor that I'm a civilized and educated person with great insight into the more philosophical questions in life.


So are you a snob?

Summer Lovin'

Summer is already around the corner although spring is still leaving its marks (red nose and running eyes, anyone?). When I was little, the summer holidays always began on the last of May, and this is not a tradition to be broken. We celebrated summer and freedom with bathing in the Baltic Sea, with time, as we grew older and sensitive, these baths were forgotten. Who in their right mind goes swimming in 15ºC-water?

Now that I'm in Spain, it's time to blow some life into this old tradition, the sea is bound to be a bit warmer. So you know where you can find me next Sunday.


Apart from the beach, this summer will probably be interesting but intense. I have enrolled for three summer courses at university; two in project management and one in creative writing. There will also be an exam in international economics coming up in August. After some searching, I might have found a good option for my masters. The syllabys reflects my own academic interests like a mirror (EU-politics mixed with a bit of EU-law). I'm a bit worried about the money (still, it's fairly cheap for a master, and I'm ready to live on peas for a year if it would come down to it), the language (bet there are a lot of subjunctives to be used*) and the standard (it's not exactly Oxford we are talking about and in these cases I'm a bit of a snob - says the one who chose Manchester over St. Andrews). I'm also seriously considering starting an MA in Slavonic Studies, but at a slower pace, of course.


Neither summer nor life is only about studying and working. This summer will also see three weeks of holidays, nicely divided so that they will include a trip to Barcelona and a slightly longer stay in Scandinavia.**

Barcelona means U2, although I'm also hoping to get the chance to see a bit more of the city. My boyfriend loves the Irish rockers/poppers and I'm tagging along for a bit of an adventure; a packed Camp Nou will probably be a huge adventure in itself, but so will exploring hidden streets and drinking smoothies.

Scandinavia on the other hand means family, friends and minigolf. Once I get the tickets sorted, it is time to start coordinating. I have a few ideas of what I want to do. First, spend some time both in Stockholm and in the Finnish mainland. I might be able to lure my Polish Sweden-loving friend to Stockholm, hopefully for more than shopping. In the Finnish mainland I would need to visit a bunch of relatives (four of my cousins have babies that I have never seen), hunt for Russian books, sit in coffee shops and it would be absolutely wonderful to spend a day or two in Helsinki or Turku. I just want to go there and take it all in, the feeling of being… in Finland.  And home… well, that is all about going for long walks in the forest, visiting family and going out with friends….


I have a gut feeling this summer will be good!!


*For some strange reason, the academic level of a language seems to be quite easy grasp, whereas the colloquial part is a lot worse.

** I know Finland isn't a part of Finland. I wanted to say Finland and Sweden.


Russian in Films

Just one question: why is the role of the bad Russian guy always portrayed by American/British actors?  In order to make the film more realistic the actors are taught Russian. Unfortunately there are quite a few Russian speakers out there whose ears start ringing at the sound of Anglo-accents*.

This is something I will also wonder about after seeing a film that is somehow linked to Russian. Yesterday’s Transsiberian was quite good indeed: I liked the storyline, the actors were good (Ben Kingsley got his Russian access almost right and Spanish six-packs are never wrong) and it had it moments of suspension. But the best of all was the Russianness that they somehow managed to catch: babushkas, snow in Siberia, the bus, Russian music…The music was in fact the best bit, and I’m trying to find the soundtrack.

Now… wakey, wakey, time to work.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Finnish Alien

Should I be worried? I just spoke with a foreigner* who has more of a Finnish accent than I do. When speaking Finnish.


*Supergood for him. Less good for me, it's like me speaking better Spanish than some Spaniard who has lived abroad for a couple of years… like that's ever going to happen!

Thursday, 14 May 2009


The place where I work is right in the middle of an industrial area where a couple of office buildings and two 4-star hotels are used to fool people to think otherwise (the used condoms on the street might give you an idea of what it's really like). Ten minues away there is a park which is good for picnics or an after-lunch stroll, and it has always been a favourite of mine. A good place to relax, it's green and well taken care of.

Today I was walking to that park when a guy in a truck stopped me. You can imagine the kind: long greasy hair and a beer belly, the kind that actually scares you. First he wanted to give me a ride. No thank you. Then he wanted to get me a coffee. That's not very likely to happen. So he just drove away, what a relief. When I had almost reached the park, the man returned, driving around the roundabout a few times while try to make me go with him. Just evil glances, people like that are playing with their luck. Now I was actually quite bothered, not knowing what to do. That feeling turned worse when I saw him driving back and forth on the road while I was sitting on a bench. Of course he showed up again during my walk back to work. The scariest part is that if that man would have gotten out of the car to harrass me, I would not have had any chance to get help or defend. There were no people around whatsoever, no bars or restaurants, nobody out with their dogs.  The park is only a five minute walk away from the hotel and long car queues with angry drivers, but nobody wouldn't have noticed a thing.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Think About It

Imagine going abroad. Not because you need to get a nice tan on the beach or because you have some extra Money to throw away on shopping in New York. Not even because you need to visit your family who has decided to relocate to country X.

Imagine being completely alone, without an idea of where you are going. Nobody will be meeting you at the airport with a big smile and a warm hug. Actually, you might not even survive. Maybe someone will throw you off the boat; although drowning might be preferable to starving.  If you’re lucky you will be hidden away in a prison-like room while people who have never seen you or talked to you will decide your destiny.

Would you be able to run away from the memories? Maybe you saw someone kill your family. Maybe you were gang raped and abused by some unknown soldiers who left you there to die. Maybe someone decided to stone you to death because you dared to open your mouth. What if you lived in place where stealing for food would be a bad idea because there is no food to steal, or where nice Westerners are using the inhabitants as guinea pigs or cheap entertainment? How about ethnic cleansing? That might sound like a nice and humanitarian experiment. After all, the people who survived are not even considered human by many.

And then, if you’re lucky, you might get out of the prison cell to face the world. A hostile world. A world that thinks that you are a loser and a beggar and a bum and spits you in the face. In that world you need to create yourself a new life, while you try to forget the old. Keeping your head up. Surviving. If you manage, you are probably the strongest person I have ever met.

Did you know that in 2007 there were about 11 million refugees in the world? Refugees, not immigrants, there are light-years in difference. People who were going through and surviving things so awful that we on our little pink clouds could never imagine.  

Think about it.  


Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Hop on the bus. Listen to the radio. Curl up in the seat. Read economics. Cuddle a little bit. Read more economics. Get tired. Dozing off. Looking out of the window. Cuddle more. Get off the bus. Walk around a bit. Stress a little bit. Get back on. Eat. Sleep. Covered in something sticky. Get off the bus again. Sleep walking. Finding the metro. Almost jump off at the wrong stop. Continuing. Being met by friends. Talk. Hug. Sleep.


Wake up. Dry throat. Sunshine. Breakfast. Cuddle. Sneeze. Go to IKEA. Fingers itching for an own flat. Want to decorate. Talking and talking. Sip on coke. Going to Swedish shop. Buy cloudberry jam, bread mix and ginger bread. Sneeze again. Go home. Eat a stir fry. Almost sleep.  More talking. Rain outside. Supermarket. More rain. More rain. Glimpse of the sun. Metro. City centre. Delicious ice cream. Squares. Cathedral. Royal palace. No postcards. Walk back. Football stadium. Food market. Strange toilet. Towers and embassies. Almost asleep again. House. Cider without alcohol. Cook tapas. Good food. Football. Valencia wins. Cuddle. Sleep.


Wake up. Cuddle. Cuddle more. Almost asleep. Get up. Almost storm. Serious pondering. Make decision. Get dressed. Run to metro. Go to park. Full of people. Searching for chip. Kiss. Starting line. Crowd shouts. Princess waves. Run slowly. Talk talk talk. Down hill. Uphill. Spurt. Tired legs. Can no more. Walk run walk run. See finish line. RUN. Cross finish line. Spaghetti legs. Red face. Quite satisfied. Drink. Take the stairs. Shower. Economics. Nap. Eat paella with vegetables. Time to go. Almost late. We make it. Back on the bus.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Moscow in my Dreams

We were going for a walk, my dad, my boyfriend and me. We turned around a corner; suddenly we saw it, it was a surprise, completely unexpected, like a  fairy tale. Blurry and grey. Little by little we distinguished shapes and colours. The eternal flame was shivering while a young boy was guarding it with a serious face. Georgi Zhukov was sitting on his horse, frozen in time to save the capital from enemy attack. We turned around the corner and started to walk up the hill. Suddenly we were almost blinded by the colours of St. Basils Cathedral that were glimmering in the sunrise
Okhotny Ryad was filled with people dancing to gipsy music, young and old, men and women. The usual dullness had disappeared, and instead the euphoric happiness and madness vibrated in the air, exciting us.
Tverskaya had changed. While we were looking for a place to have a coffee, Helen suddenly showed up. Problem solved, off we went to Shokolatnitsa to gossip about old times.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Feeling Smug

It's good to know that sometimes headless decisions bring happiness to the most unexpected people in the most unexpected ways...

Spring in in the air. The salmon is in the oven and my alcohol free drink is yummy yummy. Finland will hopefully give us all a fantastic ice-hockey show and Bon Jovi reminds of the good old days.


Ay España

Today has been one of those days when Spain has surprised me more than usual.

I can a bit ashamedly admit that I'm not the most ecologically aware person out there, but even I like to contribute to saving the planet in any way I can. So just imagine my surprise, embarrassment and anger when the fruit guys runs to me with a plastic bag in his hand, giving me a smile full of pity and saying (like to a 2-year-old) "You do understand that you have to put that lemon in this plastic bag, don't you?" His answer to my short and sharp "No" was roaring laugter while he put the lemon in the bag. What century are we in again? Maybe the one where customers do not complain anymore, they just walk out the door to never return. It is not up to the fruit guy to a) laugh at customers. b) disrespect their "beliefs" or ways of living.*

Talking of customer service: on two different occasions have I tried talking to the helpful people in the customer service centres for two different Spanish airlines. Both airlines had (and probably still have) completely faulty information on their webpages, meaning that all the phone numbers were incorrect. Apart from the numbers, there was no other means of contacting the customer service people. What do you do when you need to confirm a flight or change your plane tickets? Go to the airport and hope that you won't be served by an arrogant individual who tells you that nothing is their business?

*This is a huge deal because I have never been obligated to put a piece of fruit in a freaking plastic bag.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Family of two and a half

Couldn't help myself, these two are just too adorable.

Left: boyfriend, right: part-time dog (hence two and a half)

May 1

May 1 has always had a strong connection to party, party, party. When I still lived in Finland, the point was to drink copious amounts of cider, watch hockey and go completely crazy. This year, however, was very different and very grown-up (even the coke was decaffeinated); we gathered a group of friends, got the dog and went for a picnic in the mountains. The rain turned into boiling sunshine, we ate well and all the girls found a cactus to bring home.